Monday, August 31, 2015

Another Martian Beastie

As all good readers of A Few Paragraphs know, we chronicle the ever growing list of strangely rock-like creatures NASA keeps finding on Mars. Well, not really NASA per se; actually a few guys (Strangely, I've never heard a woman announce a Mars lizard, have you?) who spend their long, lonely nights incessantly staring at Mars probe photos in painstaking detail.

And when they spy one through bleary eyes, it is a cause of great rejoicing. Because it's just another proof of the massive space-lizard cover up that extends to the highest levels. The truth is out there, man!

You may recall my concise but fascinating expose of Sleestaks on Mars. Now, allow me to introduce the awesome findings of professional weird-stuff-researcher Scott C. Waring: One-eyed lizards from the Red Planet!

Apparently, he's also located a crashed spaceship and a reptile head!

Farewell, Beautiful Bat

See? We're not really the same person
after all!
Wow, not posting since Patrick's Day certainly has its downside. There are so many epic events I missed blogging on, like the author of Don Quixote finally getting buried or Donald Trump ascending to ever greater glory.

But the story I most regret not being here for is the death on August 17th of Batgirl -- Yvonne Craig. A lot of comic fans don't realize that the character of Batgirl, today a mainstay of the Batman Universe, was originally created specifically for Ms. Craig. Ratings for the old Batman TV show were slumping after two seasons so the producers and DC comics created Batgirl to add pizzazz to the third.

To play "the masked maiden" (and her secret identity, Barbara Gordon) they chose an ex-ballarina who'd played opposite Elvis and James Coburn in the movies. Wearing a skin-tight purple uniform and fetching black mask, Batgirl fought shoulder to shoulder with the "Caped Crusaders." Her graceful-but-deadly kicks and other ballet moves used by Batgirl in combat made Craig a formidable and highly attractive crimefighter.

Although Batman did go belly-up after one more season, Batgirl (the comic character) continued on to the present day, and millions of young boys were left dreaming of Yvonne Craig and her masked alter ego -- me included. I had a gigantic crush on her in Junior High, and while several actresses portrayed the "Dominoed Daredoll" (yeah, the writers back then gave her a lot of odd nicknames) since the 60s, for me she is the one and only Batgirl.

RIP Ms. Craig.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Patron Saint of the Emerald Isle

St. Patrick was a real, historical person, though not all the stories we associate with him are necessarily true. He had quite an adventurous life and boldly and almost single-handedly persuaded the Irish that the God of the Christians was much kinder than the bloodthirsty spirits they worshiped -- kind enough to die for them, rather than insisting they die for him.

For more information on that exploit of Patrick's and other reasons we Irish are are so great, I heartily recommend Thomas Cahill's How The Irish Saved Civilization.  On this St. Patrick's Day, between sips of green beer, take a listen to this reading of his autobiography.

In the meantime, I present you with this ancient and powerful celtic-christian prayer known as The Breastplate, possibly composed by Patrick himself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Breastplate of St. Patrick

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,
By power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River;
His death on the cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the Cherubim;
The sweet 'Well done' in judgment hour;
The service of the Seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death-wound and the burning
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Friday, February 27, 2015

LLAP Mr. Nimoy

Very sad news about a science fiction icon. Leonard Nimoy -- aka Mr. Spock -- has just passed away, apparently due to his COPD caused by decades of smoking. That just leaves Kirk, Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu from the usual crew on the bridge.

He had numerous other roles too, and he was good in all of them.  I particularly enjoyed him when he took over for Martin Landau as Paris, resident master of disguise for the Impossible Missions team. He also made a formidable Samuel the Prophet in the Bible film David.

Speaking of Jewish history, I once heard Mr. Nimoy tell (on TV) where he got the famous split-fingers gesture to go with his equally famous pronouncement, "Live long and prosper" (or just, as sci-fi geeks like me know, LLAP). As a youngster in synagogue he got curious about what the rabbi did while the congregation bowed their heads to receive theHigh Priestly Benediction from him. So he peaked. As it turned out the rabbi was making the split-fingers with both hands. It's meant to resemble the Hebrew letter shin, the first letter in the Jewish word for "the Almighty."

Nimoy as a prophet
When he had to come up with a gesture for what amounts to a Vulcan benediction, the split-fingers just came naturally, he said.

Spock (and Nimoy) have totally embedded themselves in our collective consciousness, with his "LLAP" and "Highly illogical, Captain" and the ears and ambiance of the Enterprise's First Officer. I knew he was in his 80's but somehow it doesn't feel real that he's dead. I had this same feeling when Neil Armstrong died -- which, I guess, shows how my brain's filing system works. Two space explorers, one pretend, one true. A celebrity tweeted today that "Nimoy was supposed to outlive us all." I agree.

"Of my friend, I can only say this... of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... Human."
-- James T. Kirk

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Battle of the Titans!

Spider and its much vaunted web
by Roke
Visualize this! You have to choose between dangling from the side of a cliff by a spider's web and dangling there by a limpet's tooth! Which would you pick? Hurry, you're about to go over that cliff!

Why, a spider web of course! Everybody knows that spider web is the strongest biological substance known to man -- 5 times stronger than steel! Right? Right??

by Jonathan Zander
Don't be a sap! Years of Spider Man movies have addled your brain! Listen to me closely my friend: This could very well save your life some day. Ok, not likely -- but maybe.

Scientists in Britain, where everyone by nature sounds 20% more intelligent, have just discovered that limpets beat spiders hands down. This dry, dense, peer reviewed,  Royal British Science Paper (as dumbed down by this Wikipedia article) demonstrates conclusively that limpet teeth have a tensile strength up to 6.5 gigapascals!!! And spider web? Don't make me laugh. It scrapes by at a measly 4 gigapascals (for comparison, your teeth come in at 0.5).

Business end of a limpet
So if you're planning on some mountain climbing this summer, pack a couple of limpets. Your very existence could depend on it!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Back in 70,000

Remember the last time we survived the Apocalypse? Probably not. But as it turns out the universe really had it in for us in 70,000 BC. Scientists have just detected a really small, dim star 20 light years away with an even smaller, dimmer star orbiting it, and they are heading straight away from the Earth. That means, if you rewind their path, they came perilously close to hitting us 70,000 years ago. I assume we didn't actually collide because we're still here.

Korg reacts
Meanwhile, in other 70,000 BC news, the weather had whittled us humans down so far that there were only 40 mating pairs of us left on the earth. That's a verge-of-extinction sized population. And it wasn't just the famous Ice Age, oh no. We also had a Super-Volcano go off and fill the air with badness.

Knowing all this gives me new respect for Korg!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Today is Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent which we Methodists observe, so I'm going to church tonight even tho I've got a headcold. Why do we do such things? Here's a picture to help explain...

Even tho I'm swearing off red meat for the next 46 days I am planning to dose myself up with Dayquil so I'm not too contagious.,