Saturday Morning Cartoons

October wasn't a great month for science. It ended with the media, the pundits and even the officials organizing it declaring the UN's upcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen a non-starter. The conference was supposed to lead to a treaty to follow up Kyoto but public and government support for any such agreement was effectively quelled by a very well funded anti-climate-science propaganda campaign. The prairie arm of that campaign came to Regina earlier in the month courtesy the Frontier Centre for Public Policy who gave us the bloviations of Christopher Monckton and a screening of the crockumentary, Not Evil Just Wrong. Meanwhile, the book SuperFreakonomics was released October 19 to great acclaim even though people who know a thing or two about climate science have pointed out that the authors, Levitt and Dubner, in their section on climate science reveal that they do not (know a thing or two about climate science).

So, while all the people working with evidence-based science are ringing alarm bells that the world could be in dire straits in the not-too-distant future thanks to global warming, those who are motivated by their own self-interest are sabotaging any effective action to deal with it.

Evidently, profit and ego are still guiding public policy. Science (especially under our current federal government) is relegated to the sidelines.

On a very different -- but very related -- topic, the H1N1 scare has lured the anti-vaccination kooks out into the limelight---- actually, you know what... let's not get started on that. We go there, next thing you know I'll be ranting about creationists and supply-side economics and I'll never get to the cartoon part of this Saturday morning post...

So, given that we're heading into a new Dark Age, I've been trying to cheer myself with They Might Be Giant's latest disc: Here Comes Science and consoling myself that maybe we can raise a generation to be less credulous. Yes, it's technically a kids album but I know a grown-up or 143 who would benefit from a listen. The cd is paired with a dvd of animated music videos many of which are being released online as podcasts --- and the animation on these things is really stellar. Here's the first video, "Science is Real", directed by David Cowles and Andy Kenney.

Back in the early nineties, I was a huge TMBG fan based mainly on the strength of the album Flood. I kind of lost track of them in the intervening years but whenever I'd check in they were still making strange, catchy pop. But their later stuff never really held my attention the way tunes like "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and "Ana Ng" did. I chalked it up to the "not being able to go back" factor.

Well, they're back in constant rotation at my house. Here Comes Science is a pop masterpiece -- seriously. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a parent now and seeking out not-suck for my daughter to listen to. This isn't just great kid's music. It's just great. And like I say, the animators they have creating the visuals to go with the music are all fantastic. Check out this piece of awesome, directed by Tiny Inventions....

A hunt for They Might Be Giants on YouTube will call up pretty much everything released online from the Here Comes Science album and I recommend checking it all out. Other highlights: "The Elements", "I Am A Paleontologist" and the diptych, "Why Does the Sun Shine" and "Why Does the Sun Really Shine".

Pick of the Day: Riders vs Stampeders

It's been 33 years since the Riders last finished first in the CFL West. They've won two Grey Cups in the interim (in 1989 and 2007), and have acquited themselves well in Calgary this year with a win and a tie to their credit (absent a brutal roughing call on John Chick in OT of the second game, it would've been two Ws) so it's not like this is an absolute must win if the Riders hope to advance to the Grey Cup Nov. 29 in Cowtown.

The same couldn't be said in 1976 though. The three years previous to that, the Riders had finished second to the Edmonton Eskimos, and after dispatching the third place team in the West semi-final, had journeyed to Edmonton to battle the Eskimos on the frozen tundra of Clarke Stadium. It's not that they got their asses handed to them. Far from it, in fact. Each game was extremely hard fought. But each year, the result was the same -- an Eskimo victory. In 1973 it was by a 25-23 score. In 1974 31-27. In 1975 30-18.

In 1976, it finally seemed that the Riders had the Eskimos number. In August they laid a 40-0 pasting on them at Taylor Field. But due to three close losses to Winnipeg during the season the Riders still needed a last second touchdown pass from Ron Lancaster to Rhett Dawson in the final game of the year against a woeful Stampeder squad at McMahon Stadium to secure first place. The Eskimos actually finished third that year behind the Blue Bombers, but defeated them 14-12 in the semi-final, setting up a fourth consecutive Edmonton-Saskatchewan final. This time though, the Riders enjoyed home field advantage. And they made the most of it, prevailing 23-13 in a game where both Rider running backs (Molly McGee and Steve Molnar) rushed for over 100 yards.

With a victory over the Stamps tonight at Mosaic Stadium the Riders will finish first. Not only would that enable them to host the West final on Nov. 22, it would also permit them to avoid a semi-final match-up against Edmonton who would instead take on the Stamps in Calgary.

Game time is 6 p.m. Later tonight, the Misfits are at the Distrikt. If you read my 14 Days blurb on the band in the Nov. 5 prairie dog, the thing they have in common with Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe is that they took their name from a 1961 film that the two Hollywood icons starred in called The Misfits. Here's a scene from that flick (YouTube) that, now that I think about it, has a symbolic tie-in to the football game tonight (at least for Rider fans, who hope their team reins in the high-powered Calgary offence), followed by video of the Misfits performing Dig Up Her Bones (YouTube)