Childhood Imagination

I get to see a lot of children’s cartoons. Zach Weinersmith is completely right on this one.

In fact, a few years ago, I tried to rewatch my favorite cartoon as a child, Voltron, with the idea that I might show it to my own children. Let’s just say, my children still have not seen that iteration of Voltron. My imagination is still pretty childlike*, but this was too much to ask**.

*I can provide references.

**As much as it saddens me to say it, this is also true for Airwolf.


Diesel Sweeties by Richard Stevens 3 (CC BY-NC 2.5)
Diesel Sweeties by Richard Stevens 3 (CC BY-NC 2.5)

There are comics that are card-carrying “science comics” that teach science (egBoxplot by Maki Naro) and express truths about the experience of being a scientist (egPiled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham). There are those that are super-nerdy all the time, like xkcd by Randall Munroe.

Then there are the comics that occasionally brush up against the scientific world – dropping a punchline that hints at larger concepts, drawing in those who understand and inviting inquiry from those who don’t. This strip from Diesel Sweeties by Richard Stevens 3 is part of that tradition.

Cinde-really 4: The Great Slipper Screen

This fourth post, long-awaited by two people, concludes a two-part post based on my having to watch Disney’s Cinderella roughly 17837 times. After a while, you start noticing the little things, or go mad, or both.

Like a Freudian psycho-analyst asking about mom, screens bring up issues[1] for classical geneticists. Screens are what we do. Conceptually, screens are simple. In fact, they are like your screen door. The goal is start with everything and separate it into two groups – one that passes the screen and one excluded by the screen – based on a particular characteristic. Your screen door tries to do this based on size, letting in the breeze, but keeping out the flies, if everything is working well.

With screens, be they in the genetics laboratory or your back door, the devil is in the details. We need to worry about how well the screen works. If our screen door has holes in it or we are opening the door a lot, bugs are going to get in. If the screen is dirty, it might not let as much of the breeze through as we would like[2]. We need to worry about whether we are actually screening for the characteristic we care about. Screen doors separate bugs from breeze based on size. They do not detect “bug” and zap it with a laser, because one house could not contain that much awesome[3].

I’m concerned that the King, Grand Duke, and Prince did not think through the details of their attempt to screen their female subjects for Cinderella – i.e., The Great Slipper Screen[4]. Continue reading “Cinde-really 4: The Great Slipper Screen”

Funny in 1986

This is the first panel of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip published on 7 July 1986:

What do you think the odds are that this would have made it into the papers in 2011? And, if it did, can you imagine the letters to the editor?

Wickedly Rational or Spiteful (Cinde-really? Part 3)

Traditionally, fairy tales are short, fitting neatly into the brief time twixt bath and bed, where they induce nightmares about witches who eat children. In order to achieve this, fairy tales often dispense with time consuming things like character development, complex plot twists, and, you know, having things make sense. We do not need to know why the Evil Queen in Snow White is obsessed with being the “fairest of them all” (childhood beauty pageants?), we simply need to know that she is evil.

When one decides, however, to use a much beloved fairy tale to generate a cash cow, feature length film (BIPITI-BOPITI-BOO!) without having to bother with developing your own plot, one has an obligation to fill a few of those extra minutes with some depth of character.

After all, compelling villains are plausible villains. Good villains (er?) have a reason for villainy. They do not just enjoy being evil for the sake of being evil[1].

Which makes me wonder, why did the Wicked Stepmother choose to imprison Cinderella during The Great Slipper Test? Continue reading “Wickedly Rational or Spiteful (Cinde-really? Part 3)”

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