A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant

On December 17th, Debi and I (along with two friends) went to the American Stage Theatre Company’s presentation of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant. As someone who studies religion for his job, is fascinated by religion, and lives near Clearwater, FL, one of the centers of Scientology, I had high hopes.  Those hopes probably worked against this production.  Maybe it was the specific Company, maybe it was the content, but I was disappointed.  The show isn’t really clear in what it is trying to say, though it hits on some of Scientology’s more obscure teachings (e.g., Thetans and e-meters).  The focus is on L. Ron Hubbard, but it almost seems sympathetic to him at times, especially considering how odd he really was.  And since the show is supposed to be satirical, it seemed to me like it could have been much more so without being offensive, increasing laughs in the process.  Instead, the humor is mild and rare; the satire is light; and the singing was so-so.  I wasn’t impressed and neither were those who went with me.  Thanks to Groupon, we went for half price, which is good as I would have felt really bad had I paid full price for this production.

What is the rhinoceros from the movie “Ice Age”?

While visiting with my friend Mark and his wife and kids in Arizona, one of his kids, Noah, was asking me various questions about animals. One of the questions he asked was whether or not I could show him a picture of the rhinoceros from the Ice Age movie. He was talking about this rhinoceros:
fictitious rhinoceros from the movie "Ice Age"
I spent about 30 minutes trying to find out exactly which rhinoceros this is out of the many in the evolutionary tree of rhinoceros (family: rhinocerotidae).  Turns out, they aren’t real rhinoceroses.  They are based on the woolly rhino (Coelodonta Tologoijensis), but clearly are the result of artistic license.  Here’s what the actual woolly rhino would have looked like:

woolly rhino (Coelodonta Tologoijensis)

I figured I’d post this for anyone else looking for this so they don’t spend 30 minutes trying to figure out which species of rhinos are in the movie “Ice Age.”

(Source.)

sad, sad, sad

What has the world come to? I saw this story in the local paper today and it made me want to cry and kill the perpetrators at the same time. Basically a guy who is a bit slow but who is an avid walker in his neighborhood was jumped by a couple of young thugs who beat the crap out of him, robbed him, then left him for dead. It’s not like the guy is a millionaire or anything – he’s just a guy out walking. I don’t often wish for serious punishments for crimes, but the three perps in this one should get the maximum sentence allowed – and get the crap beat out of them while serving their time. Arghh!

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Now playing: Ecos de Borinquen – En Mi Estroda Decimal (In My Ten-Line Strophes) [Seis Hanera Jíbara]
via FoxyTunes

vegetarianism and the environment?

Here’s an interesting news item I rediscovered in the NYtimes today: raising animals for meat releases more CO2 into the atmosphere than does the entire travel industry combined. This is based on research conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. I’m sure some of my regular readers will take issue with this, but it is kind of intriguing. Add to that the growing evidence that vegetarianism is a pretty healthy diet (possibly not the healthiest – a small amount of meat may actually be slightly healthier; see references below) and the connection to IQ (though not causal) and things are looking up for vegetarianism. Maybe this is just confirmation bias, as we all have a tendency to look for evidence to support the things we believe/want to believe. But some of this is also pretty good science. Anyway, here are the references:

  • Cho, Eunyoung, Wendy Y. Chen, David J. Hunter, Meir J. Stampfer, Graham A. Colditz, Susan E. Hankinson, et al. 2006. “Red Meat Intake and Risk of Breast Cancer Among Premenopausal Women.” Archives of Internal Medicine 166(20).
  • Gale, Catharine R, Ian J Deary, Ingrid Schoon, and G David Batty. 2007. “IQ in childhood and vegetarianism in adulthood: 1970 British cohort study.” BMJ 334(7587):245.
  • Spencer, E.A., P.N. Appleby, G.K. Davey, and T.J. Key. 2003. “Diet and body mass index in 38000 EPIC-Oxford meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans.” International Journal for Obesity Related Metabolic Disorders 27(6):728-34.
  • Steinfeld, Henning, Pierre Gerber, Tom Wassenaar, Vincent Castel, Mauricio Rosales, Cees de Haan, et al. 2006. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.