Thursday, March 16, 2006

Should We Tell The President?

I just finished some light reading in the form of Godzilla Returns by Marc Cerasini (1996). This version takes place in 1996-1998, the big guy returning many years later after his first Tokyo stomp in 1954. I was just perusing along when I came across this bit on pages 102-103:

Soon everyone had taken a seat around the table. They sipped tea and watched the monitors. Occasionally, Nick would change the sound--turning down the volume on one TV, and turning up another.

"The governments of Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have just issued a joint statement," the CNN anchorwoman said somberly. "It reads in part: Godzilla is a Sword of Allah. It is a weapon to punish the decadent western democracies and the people of Japan. Any aggression against Godzilla will be considered an act of terrorism against the nations of Islam.”

Uh-oh. Does Prez W know about this? Looks like we better invade Iran before it creates Allahzilla! (Hey, as justification for invasion, it holds more heavy water than what W used to attack and destabilize Iraq.)
Deathless Lyrics Live Again

While recovering from a cold I decided to pass some time watching some of the dubious films in my budget DVD collection. I selected She Gods of Shark Reef (1958), directed by Roger Corman, typical drive-in fodder that should’ve remain in obscurity.

But what struck me was the theme song, Nearer My Love To You, written by Jack Lawrence and Frances Hall. Singer Sylvia Sim’s haunting voice enraptured me. And the lyrics! How can I describe them? Words fail me. Let me share them so that you, too, will be overwhelmed by their poetic imagery and emotional depth.

“Nearer My Love To You”

If you were the sea,
I would be the shore.
If you were a key,
I would be the door.

I dream of a way
To be closer each day
Nearer my love to you.

If you were a bird,
I would be your nest.
If you were the sun,
I would be the west.

If you were a heart,
I would be the beating part.
Nearer my love to you.

When I heard such immortal lyrics, I wanted to give up writing forever because I could never attain such a lofty standard.

The song was released on Decca Records. Apparently it sold five copies.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Organic Cement To Fix Broken Step

No one seems to be paying attention to the crumbling front step at the Plattsburgh City Library. The deteriorating concrete keeps piling up, is never swept away, indicating indifference.

But appearances are deceiving.

The step is healing itself.

The bad old concrete is sluffing off, making way for healthy new concrete to grow in. Technology has come to the rescue in the form of organic cement using gene therapy.

While most of the entrance is intact, the edges of a few steps have some seen hard wear over time. It’s as if someone scooped away at the steps in a few places. These spots have been patched in the past with a special compound to fill in the scoops, but that method has proven to be an inadequate stopgap. The compound doesn’t become integral to the step; it only adheres for a while.

Recently one large section has been falling apart, marked by orange spray paint. Scabby fragments just lie around. It seems that the city is indifferent to the slummy appearance and the potential for a lawsuit. Does this mean that the mayor is completely apathetic to this situation?

In fact, no. Apparent inaction disguises that fact that the step is actually healing itself, thanks to the injection of organic cement.

This para-biomaterial uses the amazing regenerative power demonstrated by most lizards. A lizard can lose a tail but can grow a new one in a matter of time.

That regrowth factor has been isolated in a particular lizard species, the gecko Hemidactylus mabouia. Gecko DNA has been interlaced into a new compound permeating the damaged step. The step will grow back as one solid piece.

So far no unusual side effects have been noted. When Hemidactylus mabouia loses a tail during an attack by a predator, the tail snaps off and starts thrashing about, creating a distraction so that the gecko can escape. There was concern that the treated step might suffer from thrashing pieces.

Recently the city of Plattsburgh has been criticized for raising the tax rate; this micropolitan community is faced with a budget crisis. One would think that the unfixed library step indicates that the city has given up. But secretly it is pressing forth with groundbreaking technology.

The reason for secrecy is that the city would rather spend more money now on an experimental method but save money in the long run, something that most taxpayers wouldn’t understand. To traditionally replace the front steps would cost around $500,000 in construction costs. The organic cement costs more but it doesn’t involve total replacement of the entrance. This way the library can stay open. Patrons have to be careful not to use the step while it is healing. Until the regeneration is complete, there is concern the gecko DNA might contaminate footwear, causing soles to sluff off and then grow new layers.

Of course, this new repair method is unproven and it may turn out that the city has wasted money. But the company behind the concrete gene therapy assures the mayor it has a backup plan: starfish DNA. The only downside with this alternative is the resulting concrete will be covered by spiny ossicles and also it will have to be treated with oyster juice on a regular basis.