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If I could be serious for a minute
[ Dec 7, 2006 ]
Im not in a jokey mood but i feel like writing something- so now is a good opportunity to cover something i've always wanted to write about.

Dr. Norman E. Borlaug is a man you've never heard of. He has saved more lives than any human being in the history of the world. Yesterday he received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the highest prize a US civilian can be awarded. It will find a nice home beside his Nobel Peace Prize. If you are looking for a real life American hero, this man is it.

Borlaug grew up in a tiny farming town in Iowa and attended a one room school house. He went to the University of Minnesota on a wrestling scholarship and ended up with a degree in forestry, worked for the park service, and eventually got his Ph.D. in genetics.

Instead of remaining in the classroom or the laboratory, in 1944 Dr. Borlaug went to Mexico to help in a study of their wheat harvest. Despite ample space for farming, Mexico at that point had to import large amounts of wheat to keep their population from starving to death. He spent the next 16 years living in rural Mexico, breeding wheat plants to resist disease as well as inventing innovative farming techniques. By 1963, 95% of Mexican wheat had been developed by Borlaug. And they were producing 6 times more than they were in 1944, becoming a major wheat exporter.

Dr. Borlaug took his innovations to India and Pakistan in the 60s, living in even worse third world conditions and surviving disease and war and famine. At this time all the intellectuals of the world were on the latest disaster kick- The Population Bomb hypothesis, the assumption that the world was about to starve to death by the billions due to overpopulation. By the time Borlaug was done, Indian and Pakistan also became net wheat exporters. The 'Green Revolution' also spread to Latin America, and indeed all parts of the world.

Borlaug is conservatively estimated to have saved the lives of 1 BILLION people from starvation. Take that Mother Teresa.

But Norman Borlaug is public enemy number 1 in some circles. The environmental movement and the organic food advocates consider his techniques near blasphemy, despite their inarguable results. I may respect him more for his enemies than anything else. Nobody in the world can put his counterargument better than Borlaug himself:

Borlaug has dismissed most claims of critics, but does take certain concerns seriously. He states that his work has been "a change in the right direction, but it has not transformed the world into a Utopia". Of environmental lobbyists he has stated, "some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things".

God bless the man most of us have never heard of. You won't hear about him on CNN or Fox or in the New York Times, but Normal Borlaug is one of the most important people that have ever lived. Thanks for indulging my little tribute to a true hero.

Unseen Movie Review- Mel Gibson's Apocalypto
[ Dec 1, 2006 ]
200px_Apocalypto_teaser.jpg I like to review movies after seeing the trailer. But without actually sitting through the stupid thing. There are a couple of reasons for this- first, motion pictures are like 10 bucks, and dont get me started on popped corns. That chaps my ass. Secondly, the films never end up being as cool as their trailers make them seem. Especially when Mr MovieVoice yaps over the trailer. Anytime you hear Mr MovieVoice booming "COMING THIS SUMMER, THE FEEL GOOD BLAH BLAH BLAH" avoid that movie like the plague. Think about it, if the trailer cant sell you on the plot by itself and has to have some bass laden, omniscent voice from the heavens assuring you the movie wont suck, the movie is going to suck. Robots break free of human servitude and go on multistate killing rampage- sure as hell dont need help explaining that one.

The third reason i don't go to the theater very often is that i might not ever see Bill and Bud chillin in the lobby again, ready to sell me an autographed sword that i can moon over during Snakes on a Plane. And believe me, that is a depressing thought.

But on to Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, which opens sometime soon I guess. The movie opens deep in the jungles of Central or South America. Our hero is some sort of Mayan warrior type named Jaguar Man. His wife is a Mayan victim type named Jaguar Girl, and they have a newborn named Jaguar Snack. It is a time of strife in the Mayan Empire, which pretty much makes it any time. Thats what happens when you are godless heathens praying to the moon and jungle cats and what not.

Anyway, pretty much everyone in the movie is a bad guy, up until the very end (as we shall see). Basically a lot of people get their heads chopped off fighting over worthless tracks of malarial jungle completely identical to the unoccupied patches right next to them. Sometimes a deadly jungle beast will pop out and maul someone instead, just to break up the monotony. Jaguar Man is the closest thing we have to a leading man, but his ridiculous tatoos and refusal to speak English leave us feeling only vaguely sympathetic to the fact that the neighboring Mayan tribes are chasing him and his family around the jungle trying to cut their hearts out to use in some crazy blasphamous cult ritual. Basically this entire movie is a retread of the Temple of Doom, but without the deeper philosophical undertexts.

The baddest of the bad guys is named Zero Wolf. Ironic considering there are no wolves in that part of the world. But i digress. Zero Wolf is obsessed with hunting down Jaguar Man and ripping out his heart. Why? Who cares, we're talking about heart ripping outting, and thats a good enough plot device for me. Whats your motivation?! You wanna rip that guys freaking heart out, thats what! Any more questions or should i hire some other nameless local no-ones ever heard of to spout jiberish and play this role? Zero Wolf works for a shadowy group of evil doers who just happen to have hooked noses and are mysteriously referred to only as the 13th Tribe. It is their job to start all the wars and pick the pockets of the dead. For some reason they have a real hard-on to catch Jaguar Man and torture him to death.

Anyway, there is a lot of torture and killing and mayhem as you would expect from a Mel Gibson movie. Thats the upside. The downside is that nobody talks English so you don't care if they live or die. Here is where the movie most faithfully mirrors real life.

SPOILERS: After about 204 minutes of chasing Jaguar Man through the jungle that looks the same no matter where he goes, Zero Wolf and his posse have finally cornered the Jag on some beach. They are about to bake his babys blood into some sort of snack cake when they are all shocked to see a beautiful vision over the waves- it is the Spanish Galleon named Deus Ex Machina coming ashore. The great hero Hernando Cortez wades in from the surf (you know he is a good guy because finally someone is speaking English) and quickly dispatches like 500 indians with a swipe of his sword. Within literally 2 minutes Cortez and his Conquistadors have totally cleaned house, and sometimes bad indians try charging at them but just collapse of disease right before they can land a blow. Jaguar Man is scared but Cortez is just here to baptize him and save the day. After this is done, Jaguar Man is happy again and the Spaniards go off to save the rest of the continent. The End.

I liked this movie, mostly because of the flying and the magic.

My Shuffle
[ Nov 21, 2006 ]
Brand New - The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me (out today! Go get it!!)

dont miss tracks:
Archers with Broken Bows
You Won't Know

Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance

Starlight - Muse (this whole album fucking owns)

Just Like I Remember It - Ivory Wire (Chicago's own)

Sulk - Radiohead

(and Gratis Julie:)

Get Miles - Gomez

Daft Punk is Playing in My House - LCD Soundsytem

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