"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

A Library in Your Pocket

February 22, 2010

A Prayer For All The Victims Of Dr. Amy Bishop: Dr. Gopi Podila, Dr. Maria Davis, Dr. Adriel Johnson, Dr. Joseph Leahy, Dr. Luis Cruz-Vera, Ms. Stephanie Monticciolo and Dr. Debra Moriarity

While Dr. Amy Bishop awaits trial on capital murder and attempted murder charges in connection with her deadly attack on colleagues during a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama-Huntsville on February 12, the impact of her violence on her victims and her victim's families will never end.

In discussing various issues arising out of Dr. Bishop's violence, it is sometimes necessary and certainly common to become detached from the engulfing pain and suffering at the core. As the Leahy Family Blog reaffirms, the families, friends and primarily the victims of Dr. Bishop - Dr. Gopi Podila, Dr. Maria Davis,  Dr. Adriel D. Johnson, Sr.,  Dr. Joseph Leahy,  Dr. Luis Cruz-Vera,  Ms. Stephanie Monticciolo and Dr. Debra Moriarity -  will never escape the horrorific consequences of her violence.

This is from the website of the Joseph Leahy Family Blog, which one of the Commentors to Shepherds and Black Sheep shared with us.  A visit to their site is inspiring and speaks for itself as to the faith, hope and charity of this amazing family.  I urge you to read it for all the victims of Dr. Bishop's violence. 

Here is an excerpt:

First things first -- the following is a prayer written specifically for Joe and the family by the priest at their church, Father Phil O'Kennedy. Ginny asked me to get it posted here, and she will be deeply grateful for everyone who is willing to offer it up.
Prayer for Joe Leahy

Lord God, heavenly Father of us all,
We know that You are with us in the good times,
and dare to trust that You are even more
surely with us in our trials.

May we never give way to ill-will or discouragement,
but persist always in Your grace, mercy and love.

We beg You to watch over Joe, Ginny, Keith and Stephen Leahy,
and the extended Leahy and Warnecke families
who are “carrying the cross” at this time.

Lord God, please restore Joe to fullness of health and well-being,
Restore him to his family,
to the students that he loves,
and to all of us who so respect and admire him.

May Joe soon “walk tall” in our midst again,
and may we live always for your honor and glory.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Our Father . . .

Hail Mary . . .

Glory Be to the Father . . .

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

Written by Rev. Phil O’Kennedy,
(Pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church, Madison, AL)


Gopi K. Podila

In lieu of flowers, the Podila family requests contributions be made by writing checks to:

Checks should be mailed to:

Gopi K. Podila Memorial Fund
Progress Bank
201 Williams Avenue
Huntsville AL 35801


Maria Ragland Davis

The family requests donations in Dr. Davis' memory to one or more of the following university scholarships:

University of Michigan Multicultural Engineering Program 
ATTN: Ms. Lin Rockwell Cargo 
Executive Director Office of Advancement 
University of Michigan College of Engineering 
Robert H. Lurie Engineering Center 
1221 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2102

Checks should be made out to the University of Michigan.
For credit card donations, contact Ms. Cargo at 734-647-7032 
or by e-mail at lincargo@umich.edu.
North Carolina State University's A.M. Witherspoon Graduate Scholarship/Memory of Maria R. Davis 
ATTN: Jason Gipe North Carolina State University Alumni Affairs 
Campus Box 7503 
Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7503

Checks should be payable to North Carolina State University. Mr. Gipe can be contacted at 919-515-0519 or at jason_gipe@ncsu.edu.
Credit card gifts can be made through the "giving" link at www.ncsu.edu. Select "other" for gift and specify the A.M. Witherspoon Graduate Scholarship There is a space to note that the gift is In the memory of Maria Ragland Davis

The Dr. Maria Ragland-Davis Scholarship Endowment Fund
Office Of Advancement
318 Shelbie King Hall
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Huntsville, Alabama 35899

Checks may be sent to The Foundation for Excellence at UAHuntsville. Please reference the memorial fund name: The Dr. Maria Ragland-Davis Scholarship Endowment Fund
For further information please visit:  http://www.uah.edu/update/scholarships.php


In the Memory of Dr. Johnson

The Dr. Adriel D. Johnson, Sr.  Memorial Scholarship 
University of Alabama in Hunstville
Office Of Advancement
318 Shelbie King Hall
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Huntsville, Alabama 35899

Checks may be sent to The Foundation for Excellence at UAHuntsville. Please reference the memorial fund name: The Dr. Adriel D. Johnson, Sr. Memorial Scholarship
For further information please visit:  http://www.uah.edu/update/scholarships.php


 Stephanie Monticciolo

Please visit the online Journal where Stephanie Monticciolo's family reports her progress and leave them words of encouragement in the family's Guestbook.

A Facebook Page has also been established where many are leaving messages of support for Stephanie Monticciolo and her family, who are posting updates on the page.



February 21, 2010

Before Dr. Bishop Gets Free Court-Appointed Counsel, How About Making Dr. Bishop First Turn Over Her Novels And Other Assets?

 There is no dispute accused multiple murderer Dr. Amy Bishop  has the right to counsel as she faces capital murder charges for the shooting deaths of three colleagues and the attempted murders of at least four more at the University of Alabama-Huntsville on February 12th.  Who should foot the bill for her legal representation is another question entirely.

In the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright,  the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that the government provide defense counsel to criminal defendants if they are unable to pay for their own attorney.  For truly indigent defendants this Constitutional protection is essential to insure them a fair trial and an opportunity to mount a defense.

The first step to obtaining a public defender or court appointed counsel is to  file an affidavit of indigency. That is simply a sworn statement by the defendant claiming she has no financial resources to hire private counsel. In the vast majority of criminal cases, the affidavits of indigency filed by criminal defendants are not challenged and are well founded.

Dr. Bishop has filed such an affidavit of indigency and in response, the Court has appointed legal counsel to represent her at no cost to her.  Certainly, until the true financial condition of a criminal defendant can be ascertained, the Court should err on the side of accepting affidavits of indigency on face value. This is especially so given that criminal cases can have several critical events in the early stages that require counsel to be on board, e.g., arraingment, pretrial discovery, suppression hearings, etc.

However, the State of Alabama is not forever obligated to accept blindly Dr. Bishop's sworn claim that she is without resources to finance her own defense.  When, as here,  there is substantial  evidence of potentially valuable assests belonging to Dr. Bishop, the State should at a minimum first require Dr. Bishop to liquidate those assets.

If there is no present market, the State should require that all rights and interest Dr. Bishop has to those assets be assigned to the State to the extent needed to cover her defense costs. If Dr. Bishop refuses, she effectively admits the value of the assets and should be denied free counsel.

The asssets I am referring to are (1) her unpublished novels; (2) her ownership interest in any patent and/or patent pending inventions; and (3) any equity interest she has in Prodigy Biosystems, Inc.,  the start up company created, with substantial support from UAH, to commercialize and bring to market the portable cell incubator for which she and her husband James Anderson take inventive credit on their pending patent application.  It may well be that the most valuable of all these assets and the ones most easily liquidated are the unpublished novels.
Since his wife's arrest, James Anderson has disclosed (and I suspect strategically so) that in recent years Dr. Amy Bishop has written three novels, all presently unpublished. Whatever minimal intrinsic value Amy Bishop's novels might have had absent her present notoriety, there can be no genuine dispute that the three novels have now gained substantial publication value because of Dr. Bishop's deadly actions and her resulting notoriety.

The State of Alabama should move immediately on these assets, halt any publication or sale of Amy Bishop's unpublished novels and secure the value of all this property to offset the cost to the public for Dr. Bishop's defense.

If Alabama chooses not to act, then lawyers for the victims families should act. Whether it is in the criminal court or a civil court,   someone needs to act quickly to obtain an injunction to preserve Dr. Bishop's intellectual property and equity assests.

Under no circumstances, should Dr. Amy Bishop or her husband and business partner James Anderson be allowed to profit one penny from Dr. Bishop's notoriety by using her deadly acts of violence as a launch pad for a new and more profitable career as a novelist.

If Alabama wants to accept Dr. Bishop's possibly specious claim of poverty, then her assets should be preserved for the benefit of her victims and their families:  Dr. Gopi Podila, Dr. Maria Davis,  Dr. Adriel Johnson,  Dr. Joseph Leahy,  Dr. Luis Cruz-Vera,  Ms. Stephanie Monticciolo and Dr. Debra Moriarity.

"If Bullets Were Gold": An Alternate and 'Novel Theory' of the Motives of Accused Murderer Dr. Amy Bishop

Dr. Amy Bishop faces capital murder charges for three deaths when she opened fire during a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama-Huntsville on February 12.  Dr. Bishop should also face charges for the attempted murders of four other colleagues, three of whom she shot and another whom she repeatedly attempted to shoot.

Even though motive is not an element of any prosecutor's case, juries crave evidence of motive because if the 'why' does not make sense to a juror, it is a short step from uncertainty about motive to reasonable doubt about guilt. This is especially so in a criminal case where the defense is claiming insanity as the motive or reason for the crimes.

What was the motive for the shootings at UAH?

According to the Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime, the most common homicidal motivations are: abandonment/rejection; altruism/mercy killings; cover/destruction of evidence; alcohol/drugs; escape; fame/celebrity; fatal abuse;  protection of self/others; frustration/anger; greed; hate/resentment; honor; indirect killing; insanity/mental illness; judicial reasons; lover's triangle; media influence; murder/suicide; rivalry/jealousy; sexual property; sexual sadism; and unwanted children.

Dr. Bishop's lawyer has already revealed Amy Bishop's theory of the case: that she is not guilty by reason of insanity. In an upcoming article Shepherds and Black Sheep  will examine the insanity defense in depth.

Early focus considered whether Dr. Bishop's motivation for her deadly and violent attacks was retaliation for having been denied tenure by UAH. Using the Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime terminology,  the motives of frustration/anger and hate/resentment. 

This installment of Shepherds and Black Sheep considers an alternate theory of the crimes charged against Dr. Amy Bishop in connection with the events of February 12, 2010. This alternate theory falls under the Encyclopedia's defined murder motives of fame/celebrity and greed.

The theory is this: Dr. Amy Bishop planned and carried out the February 12 shootings that resulted in three deaths to gain nationwide notoriety (fame/celebrity) so she could use that notoriety as a launch pad for a new career as a novelist (fame/celebrity and greed.)

While this may seem initially too far fetched for serious consideration, it certainly fits the facts and makes evil sense out of the violent acts of Dr. Amy Bishop.

What rational person would seek publication of her novels through notoriety generated by ruthless acts of violence?  Perhaps the same person who believes that she could obtain a child's high chair at a pancake house by screaming at and physically attacking another mother. Perhaps the same person who thought she could pad her professional record and obtain tenure by publishing in an online vanity journal collaborative research that deceptively identified her minor children as co-authors and employees of a lab which was, in fact, located in her home. Perhaps the same person who had already got away with murder once and believed she could do it again and again and again.

The fact that Amy Bishop aspired to be a novelist is not in dispute. Rob Dinsmoor, a freelance writer, met Bishop through a writer's group in Massachusettes and the two became and remained friends even after Dr. Bishop joined the UAH faculty.

During a broadcast radio interview on WBZ ,  Dinsmoor reported that he and Amy Bishop talked frequently on the phone right up until about a week before the February 12 shootings. Dr. Bishop complained frequently to Dinsmoor about denied tenure and told him she was "at the end of her rope, financially."

Dinsmoor said that Amy Bishop "absolutely" saw the "possibility of being published as an author as an escape from this track she was on in academia that did not include tenure." Dr. Bishop also frequently mentioned to Dinsmoor she was related to best selling novelist John Irving and she told Dinsmoor, "God, if only I could quit academia and write fiction full time that would be my dream world."

In 1999,  Amy Bishop Anderson secured a copyright for her still unpublished 260 page novel she called "The Martian Experiment."  She copyrighted at the same time alternate titles including:

"If Bullets Were Gold"

As fate would have it, this is also an apt working title for her premeditated, cold blooded executions and attempted murders of her UAH colleagues.

When Dr. Amy Bishop learned she was denied tenure at UAH and her final appeals had failed, she faced the dismal prospect at age 45 of competing with  newly minted Ph.d's half her age, whose academic careers held promise, where hers reflected only recent failure.

Recognizing her academic career was in virtual shambles, Amy Bishop Anderson, the long aspiring novelist, strategized a plan that would provide her national notoriety and finally launch her literary career.

The steps in her plan:  obtain a hand gun, practice shooting at a local range with her husband and partner in all business affairs James Anderson, have her husband drive her to work the day of the planned executions, carry the gun in a canvas book bag and act just weird enough in class so that her students would take note, then bring the loaded gun to her department faculty meeting and when the hour long meeting was almost over,  but before anyone stood to leave, stand and begin shooting one after another colleague in the head.

When Dr. Bishop ran out of bullets,  she allowed her surviving colleagues to push her out the door.  She left the murder weapon in the restroom and calmly called her husband for him to come get her.

Given all these facts, the theory of the crimes now posited, though seemingly far fetched at first blush is, in fact, quite probable upon deeper examination:  Dr. Amy Bishop plotted and murdered her colleagues in cold blood to gain notoriety from which she could launch what she dreamed would be a profitable career as a novelist.

In Dr. Bishop's evil mind,  the opportunity to destroy the UAH Biological Sciences Department was probably a veritable bonus, appeasing her frustration/anger and hate/resentment.

Because Dr. Bishop needs to play the baffled amnesiac for the duration of the criminal proceedings in order for her 'not guilty by reason of insanity' plea to have any hope of success,  her husband James Anderson has to step up and for once assume a leadership role in their relationship.

Dr. Bishop complained to Rob Dinsmoor in their phone calls that she was frustrated that her husband James Anderson was not employed and did not contribute financially to the family. If Dr. Bishop degraded her husband to Dinsmoor in this manner, it is doubtful she showed any more tact or restraint in communicating her frustration directly to her husband about his lack of financial contribution to the family.

So it now falls upon James Anderson to  carry out the final steps of Dr. Bishop's evil plan: to bring to market her novels.  Mr. Anderson's first step in that direction was alerting the nation to the fact that, 'oh by the way, my wife has three unpublished novels sitting at home.'

What he left out of his staged revelation was "Let the bidding begin."

February 20, 2010

UPDATE: Mainstream Media Finally Reporting Evidence Dr. Bishop Tried To Cheat Her Way To Tenure

On February 15th, the blog Shepherds and Black Sheep was the first to report that accused murderer Dr. Amy Bishop had effectively cheated when she listed among her professional publications, collaborative research allegedly performed and co-authored by four employees of "Cherokee Labsystems."

Not only, as Shepherds and Black Sheep  reported, was this research paper published in an online vanity press,  Dr. Bishop also conveniently failed to disclose that "Cherokee Labsystems" operated out of the home she shared with her husband James Anderson and further failed to disclose that her four co-authors were her husband and three of the her four children:  Lily B. Anderson, Phaedra B. Anderson and Thea B. Anderson.

Curiously, while Dr. Bishop was padding her record of collaborative research by trying to pass off her children as her professional colleagues, she chose not to share any credit with her only son, Seth, named for Dr. Bishop's brother Seth Morrison Bishop, whom she shot and killed in 1986.
The Commentors to the Blog article, many of whom self identify as college professors and scientists,  have debated and examined Dr. Bishop's purported accomplishments and the other evidence detailed by Shepherds and Black Sheep.
Many have also questioned why the mainstream press was ignoring the substantial evidence that suggested Dr. Bishop tried to cheat her way to tenure.

It seems that mainstream media is finally catching up. On February 19th, the Boston Herald reported: "Amy Bishop, husband listed teens on research paper." 

Likewise jumping on the Shepherds and Black Sheep bandwagon today is the New York Times, which  reports that Dr. Bishop claimed her children on co-authors of her latest research published in what is essentially a scientific vanity press. The various experts interviewed by NYT echo the sentiments first expressed by the author and Commentors of Shepherds and Black Sheep.

When questioned about Dr. Bishop's possible fraud, UAH spokesperson Ray Gamer indicated the University was unaware that Dr. Bishop's children were listed as co-authors on one of her published research papers and acknowledged, "Its unusual."  

Dr. Bishop's father-in-law, Jimmy Anderson Sr., had his own explanation as to why his grandchildren's names are listed on Dr. Bishop's published research as her co-authors: "They're very bright little kids." 


February 15, 2010

Could Accused Murderer Amy Bishop Have Made A Weapon of Mass Destruction? A Herpes Bomb? Or Is She Just Another Ordinary, Cold Blooded Killer?

As devastating and tragic as the ruthless massacre allegedly perpetrated by Dr. Amy Bishop was, there is a solitary reference in Dr. Bishop's online resume that seemed to raise the frightening possibility that the massacre could have been even greater. Specifically, Dr. Bishop claims in her resume to have participated in what she characterizes as either an "abstract or presentation." She describes it as follows: 
Nicholas N., Holmes T., Bridge K., Cashman N. R., Anderson J., Bishop A.. (September 2004) Homeland Security Alert: NO is a Free Radical and Weapon of Mass Destruction! Partners for Biotechnology Research Conference, Monte Sano Mt. Conference Center, Huntsville, AL.  
What kinds of chemicals, viruses and biological matter did Dr. Bishop have access to in her UAH lab or through her husband's Cherokee Labsystems is anyone's guess at present,  but authorities should investigate immediately and rule out the possibility that Dr. Bishop planned for even greater devastation in the event of her arrest.

Commentors to this blog have indicated that to those in the field of neurobiology the title "Homeland Security Alert: NO is a Free Radical and Weapon of Mass Destruction" is obviously a joke. While it is certainly not obvious to the lay public, Commentor Greg Skibinski states:
The title you are referring to is not to be taken seriously...  They were satirically referring to its ability to damage neural cells.
Commentor and neurobiologist "Nzia" passed similar judgment:
It is clear to any neurobiology [sic] that the title of her conference poster is tongue-in-cheek and a joke (albeit a bad one).
Readers of this Blog are urged to read in full the Comments of Greg Skibinski and "Nzia", both of whom contribute important information and insight based on their subject matter expertise.
Presumably, Greg Skibinski and Nzia are entirely correct and Dr. Bishop's reference to "weapons of mass destruction" is no more than a demonstration of her sick and twisted sense of humor.

While faking Homeland Security Alerts about WMD's is apparently simply Dr. Amy Bishop's sick sense of humor in play, since her cold blooded execution of three colleagues and her attempted murder of four more last February 12,  Hunstville Police report they have received more than one call expressing concern that Dr. Bishop may have planted what is being called a 'herpes bomb' on the UAH campus. So far, no device of any nature that Dr. Bishop may have planted has been located.

Curiously, it has been reported that in one Dr. Bishop's unpublished novels she writes about the spread of a herpes-like virus . This has caused at least some to speculate whether Dr. Bishop or persons working in concert with her may not be responsible for the calling in herpes bomb scares.

Is Accused Murderer Dr. Amy Bishop An Academic Fraud, Delusional or Both?

Dr. Amy Bishop faces capital murder charges for three deaths when she reportedly opened fire during a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama-Huntsville last Friday. Three other colleagues were also shot and are hospitalized, at least two in critical condition. Early speculation says Dr. Bishop may have been motivated because she was reportedly denied tenure.

According to attorney and employment law expert Jayne Cucchiara, "tenure is the Holy Grail in academia. It is perceived as a guarantee of job security. While tenured professors can be removed for cause, proving sufficient cause to discharge a tenured professor is almost always a very difficult burden to meet."

"Most universities have a defined tenure application process," employment lawyer Jayne Cucchiara explained. She said "the process typically begins with an application package prepared and  submitted by a professor seeking tenure. The application package details teaching, research, publishing and institutional and community accomplishments that the tenure applicant believes warrant tenure. The tenure decision of the applicant's Department Chair is generally given substantial deference when reviewed by a Dean level appointee in a university's administration."

According to Attorney Cucchiara, "in order to have a realistic chance of challenging a department's decision to deny tenure, the non-tenured professor must at a minimum be able to demonstrate a level and record of academic accomplishment comparable with those being granted tenure both in her department and at a university wide level."  Attorney Cucchiara explained, "in academia, there is saying which is very true: publish or perish."  She said, "student evaluations are considered, but generally much greater weight is placed on an established and consistent record of scholarly research published in peer reviewed journals."

An anonymous Commentor to this Blog, identifying himself as a UAH faculty member for the past 15 years, shed further light on the tenure review process at UAH:

Anonymous said...
As a faculty member at UAH, I would like to make two comments. First, in response to another anonymous comment, politics are not the most important issue at UAH. I have been here 15 years and have served on tenure review committees at every level at the university. I can tell you that we have denied tenure for really popular people who did not cut muster with regard to research, and we have granted tenure to people with excellent records, even though they had less desirable personality issues. Our tenure process is about as fair and objective as I can imagine. Second, the process at UAH involves 5 stages: departmental review, Dean review, college level tenure committee review, university-level review board, and the Provost. I have seen cases where one or more of these levels voted no, but the person ultimately recieved tenure, and I have also seen the opposite situation where multiple people said yes, but the Provost said no. So, it would not be uncommon for the department chair to be overruled after voting yes for tenure. The beauty of the tenure review process here is that no one person can kill your tenure if they happen to dislike you. 
A review of the archived web pages of Dr. Bishop on the University of Alabama Department of Biological Sciences' website discloses numerous red flags that may well be the reason Dr. Bishop was denied tenure.  In fact, after studying and comparing Dr. Bishop's archived web pages over the five plus years she was at UAH, one is left with an abiding and growing suspicion that Dr. Bishop is either an academic fraud or totally delusional in the same vein as the Jack Nicholson' character in Stephen King's The Shining, who believed he was writing the next great American novel only for his wife to discover he had been typing the same sentence over and over and over all winter long.

Maybe we will discover that Dr. Bishop is just a run of the mill sociopath for whom killing those in her way, whether they be colleagues or family, registers no greater blip on her emotional chart than, say, severing the spines of live animals to determine if she can induce neuron recovery by first subjecting the soon to be paralyzed animals to varying doses of nitric oxide, which, but the way, is fatal when overdosed, and which just so happens to be a fair restatement of Nos. 8 and 9 on Dr. Bishop's essentially static "research plan" since she arrived at UAH.

Put aside my obvious and impossible to disguise disgust with scientific research predicated on torturing animals. What still remains is that Dr. Bishop has been regurgitating the same static research plan for years:

Here is verbatim Dr.  Bishop's December 11, 2003 published "Research Plan": 
The overall goal of my laboratory will be to explore resistance to nitro-oxidative stress in CNS cells. The specific aims are to: 
1. Determine if the adaptive resistance extends to other oxidants and other CNS cell types.
2. Determine which cellular targets of NO-mediated damage are protected by HO1 induction
and induced adaptive resistance.
3. Characterize NO-mediated signal transduction pathways that induce HO1.
4. Characterize the NO-mediated increase of HO1 mRNA stability and/or transcriptional
induction of HO1.
5. Determine what other genes are turned/off by HO1 induction and whether their
induction/inhibition is necessary for the induced adaptive resistance.
6. Characterize the role of HO-1, HO-1-mediated heme metabolism and iron in induced
adaptive resistance.
7. Characterize of the role of cytostasis and differentiation in NO resistance.
8. Eventually use whole animals for studies of induced adaptive resistance in the CNS.
9. Whole animal studies of induced recovery from spinal transection.
10. Study the influence of the low gravity/high radiation environment of space flight on
resistance mechanisms to oxidative stress in the CNS.
Here is verbatim Dr.  Bishop's June 14, 2008 UAH  "Research Plan":

The overall goal of my laboratory will be to explore resistance to nitro-oxidative stress in CNS cells. The specific aims are to:  
1. Determine if the adaptive resistance extends to other oxidants and other CNS cell types.
2. Determine which cellular targets of NO-mediated damage are protected by HO1 induction and induced adaptive resistance.
3. Characterize NO-mediated signal transduction pathways that induce HO1.
4. Characterize the NO-mediated increase of HO1 mRNA stability and/or transcriptional induction of HO1.
5. Determine what other genes are turned/off by HO1 induction and whether their induction/inhibition is necessary for the induced adaptive resistance.
6. Characterize the role of HO-1, HO-1-mediated heme metabolism and iron in induced adaptive resistance.
7. Characterize of the role of cytostasis and differentiation in NO resistance.
8. Eventually use whole animals for studies of induced adaptive resistance in the CNS.
9. Whole animal studies of induced recovery from spinal transection.
10. Study the influence of the low gravity/high radiation environment of space flight on resistance mechanisms to oxidative stress in the CNS.
It is difficult sometimes when reading technical jargon to do comparisons, but whether you understand the jargon or not, when you compare Dr. Bishop's two "Research Plans," which are five years apart,  side by side, line by line, you do not need to be a Harvard trained geneticist to conclude that her plan never changes.

2003:  1. Determine if the adaptive resistance extends to other oxidants and other CNS cell types.
2008:  1. Determine if the adaptive resistance extends to other oxidants and other CNS cell types.

2003: 2. Determine which cellular targets of NO-mediated damage are protected by HO1 induction
and induced adaptive resistance.
2008:  2. Determine which cellular targets of NO-mediated damage are protected by HO1 induction and induced adaptive resistance.

2003: 3. Characterize NO-mediated signal transduction pathways that induce HO1.
2008: 3. Characterize NO-mediated signal transduction pathways that induce HO1.

2003: 4. Characterize the NO-mediated increase of HO1 mRNA stability and/or transcriptional
induction of HO1
2008: 4. Characterize the NO-mediated increase of HO1 mRNA stability and/or transcriptional induction of HO1.

2003: 5. Determine what other genes are turned/off by HO1 induction and whether their
induction/inhibition is necessary for the induced adaptive resistance.
2008: 5. Determine what other genes are turned/off by HO1 induction and whether their induction/inhibition is necessary for the induce

2003: 6. Characterize the role of HO-1, HO-1-mediated heme metabolism and iron in induced adaptive resistance.
2008: 6. Characterize the role of HO-1, HO-1-mediated heme metabolism and iron in induced adaptive resistance.

2003: 7. Characterize of the role of cytostasis and differentiation in NO resistance.
2008: 7. Characterize of the role of cytostasis and differentiation in NO resistance.

2003: 8. Eventually use whole animals for studies of induced adaptive resistance in the CNS.
2008: 8. Eventually use whole animals for studies of induced adaptive resistance in the CNS.

2003: 9. Whole animal studies of induced recovery from spinal transection.
2008: 9. Whole animal studies of induced recovery from spinal transection.

2003: 10. Study the influence of the low gravity/high radiation environment of space flight on
resistance mechanisms to oxidative stress in the CNS.
2008: 10. Study the influence of the low gravity/high radiation environment of space flight on resistance mechanisms to oxidative stress in the CNS.

As demonstrated, you do not need to understand biology, to easily see that Dr. Bishop has not changed a word of her plan in five years. If you are not yet flashing back to Jack Nicholson's novel pages in the Shining  -- All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy -- then you didn't see the movie. 

One anonymous Commentor to this Blog has suggested, "[a]s for the research plan being the same in 2003 and 2008, that could simply mean that she didn't care about her departmental web page. You ask professors to put something online, like their course syllabi or an NSF-style bio, and they will often do the bare minimum copy and pasting necessary to comply---it is, after all, a distraction from their job." This observation seems both reasonable and plausible in general terms. However, when you consider that 2003 was Dr. Bishop's first year at UAH and 2008 would have been a critical year in the tenure review process for her, it seems prudent to do than more than the 'bare minimum' these two pivotal years.

In addition to turning in the same boiler plate "Research Plan" year after year after year, with not a single step of research progression documented, when the tenure application process was upon her, Dr. Bishop engaged in what could fairly be described as  a form of academic fraud.   

According to her last UAH Department web page,  Dr. Bishop's claims three publications in 2009:
  1. Anderson, L. B., Anderson P. B., Anderson T. B., Bishop A., Anderson J., Effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors on motor neuron survival (2009) International Journal of General Medicine. In press
  2. Bishop A., Green-Hobbs K., Eguchi A., Pennie C., Anderson J.E., Estévez A. Differential sensitivity of oligodendrocytes and motor neurons to reactive nitrogen species: a new paradigm for the etiology of Multiple Sclerosis (2009). Journal of Neurochemistry. (109) 93-104.

Bishop A, Gooch R, Green-Hobbs K, Cashman N. R., Demple B., Anderson J. E., Estévez A.,. Mitigation of nitrotyrosine formation in motor neurons adapted to nitrooxidative stress. (2009) Journal of Neurochemistry. (109) 74-84.  

The first article "Effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors on motor neuron survival" claims to have been written by "Anderson, L. B., Anderson P. B., Anderson T. B., Bishop A., Anderson J." and going to press in the "International Journal of General Medicine."  If you track the article down what you discover is that the authors full names are Lily B Anderson, Phaedra B Anderson, Thea B Anderson,  James Anderson and Dr. Bishop. Another way to describe the purported authors are that they are Dr. Bishop, her husband James 'Jimmy' Anderson and three of their children.  Mr. Anderson and his children are all identified as employees of "Cherokee Labsystems" in Huntsville. 

The website for  Cherokee Labsystems --  www.cherokeelabsystems.com -- has a notice "Please stand by. We are currently updating our site and will be on-line shortly" and also shows the web address defaults to http://cherokeelabs.com/ 

According to the wayback machine this web address -- http://cherokeelabs.com/  -- was only active October 16, 2003 through January 30, 2005, but all the archived pages for that period show a website that relates to Cherokee Labrador dogs,  not a genetic research laboratory.  
Moreover, googling with street view the claimed address for Cherokee Labsystems -  2103 McDowling Dr. SE, Huntsville, AL - shows a residential home and not a laboratory allegedly involved in genetic research:


If pawning off your family as co-authors employed at a bogus genetic research lab located in a residential home is not fraud, then how about paying to have your alleged research published by an online vanity press that admits in its marketing materials that its idea of peer review "is that any paper that has interest to the readers and is reasonably written will be published. Thus the Editor is looking for reasons to publish your paper, NOT reject it."  The other two articles 'published' by Dr. Bishop in 2009, include among the purported authors Dr. Bishop's husband "J.E. Anderson," whom she characterizes as her "Research Consultant, Cherokee Labsystems" in her June 2008 UAH webpage.

On her 2008 UAH faculty page, Dr. Bishop claimed:
My laboratory’s goal will be to continue in our effort to develop a neural computer, the Neuristor™, using living neurons. This computer will exploit all of the advantages of neurons. Specifically, neurons rich with the nitric oxide (NO) dependent learning receptor, N Methyl D Aspartate receptor (NMDAR), will be utilized. These have previously been studied in the context of induced adaptive resistance to NO (IAR). For the Neuristor™ we will take advantage of the IAR phenomena since it has been demonstrated that IAR neurons express more learning and memory receptors (NMDAR) as well as increased neurite outgrowth. The neurons that we are currently using are mammalian motor neurons. We are exploring the possibility of using neurons derived from adult stem cells, and from bony fishes provided by Bruce Stallsmith Ph.D. This laboratory has created a portable cell culture incubator, the Cell Drive™ that is an ideal support structure for the Neuristor™.
With respect to the Cell Drive, at seeming odds with Dr. Bishop's claim that her UAH lab  "created a portable cell culture incubator, the Cell Drive™," on August 26, 2008 a TradeMark application for the name "CELLDRIVE" to be used for "laboratory equipment and supplies, namely, incubators" was filed by the claimed "Owner (Applicant) Cherokee Labsystems Jimmy E. Anderson...[who identified himself as] SOLE PROPRIETOR." Once again, the McDowling Drive address referenced above was given for Cherokee Labsystems.

An archived article accessible through the wayback machine depicts a "Press Release" about Dr. Bishop which  reports that on March 10, 2009,  Dr. Bishop's "Neuron Research Lab Launches Experiment in Space." The "launch" was on par with the Balloon Boy's purported takeoff, only with less drama and coverage. Also, while Dr. Bishop more than once mentions NASA on her web page, the March 2009 'launch' was handled by UAH Space Hardware Club, not NASA. Cherokee Labsystems, however, was purportedly involved; Dr. Bishop credited Cherokee with "payload support development." The payload -- live neuron cells from Dr. Bishop's lab secured in what looks to be a jury rigged contraption she calls the "'incubation chamber" purportedly designed to maintain temperature and pressure as the balloon ascended.
 While the 'launching' of the balloon may have been a fun exercise for the students involved, the drafting of an amateur press release about the excursion hardly qualifies as published scholarly research.

Dr. Bishop's most startling claim in the 2008 UAH web page is her claim that her "laboratory’s goal will be to continue in our effort to develop a neural computer, the Neuristor™, using living neurons." 

The Neuristor Trademark is registered to a Japanese company Eisai Company.  None of Dr. Bishop's publications, even the one published in the online vanity journal, describe any research pertaining to neural computers or the Neuristor.  It may well be that Dr. Bishop was contemplating taking her interest in neuron research into the sci-fi frontier of developing a neural computer, but it also seems logical that if this were, in truth, a new direction Dr. Bishop intended to pursue she would have revamped her published research plan to identify logical steps toward such a goal. 

There is no question that Dr. Bishop is smart. But it also seems very evident that she suffers delusions of genuis. Far from establishing  a record of accomplishment warranting the grant of tenure, since joining UAH Dr. Bishop took a long nap on her one true laurel -- her affiliation with Harvard .

Evidence strongly suggests that Dr. Bishop used her husband, her family and by all appearances the sham 'Cherokee Labsystems' to fabricate a record of recent accomplishments. Her use of essentially an online vanity publisher further diminishes her professional stature.  

It should have been no surprise to Dr. Bishop that the University easily saw through the smoke and mirrors and that she would not receive tenure. But an oversized ego can be blinding.

It seems clear that Dr. Bishop re-wrote the rules for herself. Rather than face the reality that she needed to conduct real research and publish substantial, scholarly work in peer reviewed journals, Dr. Bishop tried to cheat her way to tenure. And, when that failed, it appears Dr. Bishop premeditated a new plan: if you don't accept what I publish, you will perish.



February 14, 2010

Student Feedback On Accused Murderer Dr. Amy Bishop

Dr. Amy Bishop,  Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has been charged with capital murder in connection with a shooting spree that left three wounded and three dead at a faculty meeting on Friday, February 12, 2010. Early reports are that Dr. Bishop open fired at the faculty meeting after it was announced that she had been denied tenure.

The three victims dead at the scene are Department Chair Dr. Gopi K. Podila and Department Faculty Dr. Maria Davis and Dr. Adriel Johnson:


The three wounded are Department Faculty Dr. Joseph Leahy and Dr. Luis Rogelio Cruz-Vera and Department Assistant Stephanie Monticciolo,

Dr. Leahy and Ms. Monticciolo are reported to be in critical condition. Dr. Cruz-Vera is reported to be in stable condition. 

Braintree, Massachusettes authorities indicate that Dr. Bishop shot and killed her younger brother in 1986 when she was 19 and he was 18 years old.  At that time his death was reportedly ruled accidental and Dr. Bishop was never prosecuted.  In light of Friday's massacre,  authorities must now question whether Dr. Bishop's shooting of her 18 year old brother was, in fact, accidental.

Whenever killings of this magnitude occur, we feel compelled to look for signs or clues of the depravity that we believe must exist to allow such ruthlessness. Certainly Dr. Bishop's students are a group with whom she has had substantial interaction on a regular basis over the years. As such, they may have observed such clues or signs.

The website Rate My Professors at www.ratemyprofessors.com claims to publish in the range of ten million student ratings of approximately one million college professors at more than six thousand schools. Among the millions of ratings reported on its website are numerous student ratings of  Dr.  Amy Bishop dating as far back as April 2004 and as recent as May 2009.

Below are quoted excerpts from the student ratings of Dr. Amy Bishop as reported on the Rate My Professors website:
  • "she is a socialist but only talks about it after class"
  • "Dr Bishop is very intelligent but a horrible teacher"
  • "Dr Bishop is an excellent teacher! She is very helpful and nice. She does everything to help students do well. She even offers extra classes! "
  • "Never met anyone who knows more random knowledge. Sci-fi to quantum mechanics with a little art history thrown in the mix"
  • "She's super smart and thinks everyone else is too so sometimes she goes too fast"
  • "She gets off on random**** all the time and is sooo completely scatter brained!"
  • "Dr. Bishop is brilliant. Her research is fascinating. She will surely get the Nobel Prize. She is the best teacher I have ever had."
  • " Her lectures are disorganized"
  • " I am in her lab and her class. She is smart, talks about more stuff than just the book. She lets me sit in her office and study. She always dresses nice. She should stop trying to straighten her hair and go natural!"
  • "Horrible teacher!"
  • "She is an excellent professor! very helpful and very intelligent!"
What a review of Dr. Amy Bishop's student rating shows is that at least in the classroom, Dr. Bishop seems to have been loved and hated much like many other professors.  Certainly no clues or signs of Dr. Bishop's capacity for Friday's massacre is revealed in her student ratings.

February 13, 2010

10 Most Amazing Internet Videos Ever

1. Most Amazing Music Machine When this went viral the claim was it was a real music machine designed and built by music and engineering students out of used John Deere tractor parts. Since then internet myth busters claim its an animation. Whatever it is and who ever created it, its super cool and they are super talented.

2. Most Amazing Parkour Video  These guys are fearless and probably quite a few are or will be in early graves.  

3. Most Amazing Kid Guitarist encore Sungha Jung The kid is 4real A bona fide prodigy.

4. Most Amazing Urban Biking This kid Danny Macaskill defies gravity, physics and fear. This should be an Olympic event if for no other reason than to give this kid a gold medal.

5. Most Amazing Mountain Biking  More amazing kids on two wheels risking life and limb for fun.

6. Most Amazing Sand Artist Ukraine's Kseniya Simonova paints with sand to music. Hard to explain. Impossible to do. Amazing to watch.

7. Most Amazing School Assembly Dancers since Napolean Dynamite danced danced danced for the Vote for Pedro talent portion of his school assembly.

8. Most Amazing Dog  Skidboot won a $25,000 talent show and made it on every talk show including Oprah.

9. Most Amazing Lecture Ever  College Professor Randy Pausch delivers his final lecture after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Despite this incredibly depressing preface the lecture is  amazingly uplifting. Set aside an hour and watch it with your family. 

10. Most Amazing Final Play in Football Game About a dozen lateral passes and an announcer that goes insane.



February 6, 2010

Why Divorce Is The Only Answer For Tiger Woods

Every relationship has a breaking point. Some can survive infidelity. But should they survive? That's an entirely different question.  Tiger and Elin Woods needs to face a reality that people face everyday in half the homes in America: divorce.

Tiger Woods going through sex addiction therapy is ridiculous. Tiger is a cheater. He is not a pervert or a criminal. The cure for Tiger is simple. He needs to be single. Any doubt Tiger will be a hands on, terrific father? Absolutely none. Any doubt Elin will be set for life financially? Of course not.

And there's likewise no genuine doubt that any effort at reconciliation is delusional given the global level of humiliation Elin suffered.  So why continue to delay and deny the inevitable? Just do it!  (no trademark infringement intended)

It is time for Tiger to accept defeat. Reach a fair and compassionate financial settlement quickly that allows Elin to move forward with her dignity restored.  Kids can adjust to divorce. What is truly damaging is to grow up in an environment of distrust, recrimination and tension.  Its time for Tiger to resume his destiny. Let the healing begin.

February 5, 2010

Why Rage Against The Road: Let OCD Set You Free

When I am driving by myself on the interstate long distances, my otherwise dormant OCD comes full throttle alive like an aberrant offshoot of Jack's bean stock.  I make the Rain Man seem like a welcome traveling companion. One thing I do semi-regularly is speed. Nothing overtly suicidal, but still calculated to push the envelope and shave as many minutes as possible from my ETA based on posted speed limits and the latest google updates.

The trick is to find a rabbit. That's the driver that has to have the lead.  The rabbit speeds up, slows down and speeds up again any time you even look like you might be thinking about making a move for the lead.  Catch the rabbit's draft, relax  and enjoy the view. Actually, that's not bad advice for life.

Another obsessive habit I have is reciting poems. I have maybe half a dozen or so memorized. One in particular called Kubla Khan I race to recite in less than a minute. I start the second the new minute begins. I have broken the 60 second barrier only a few times, but each victory has been so sweet.  If anyone wants to hear me go for the record, I'd be happy to upload my latest attempt for your listening pleasure.

Sometimes I imagine how this special talent might one day prove as indispensable as Rudolph's red nose. From there I easily drift into a forensic profile of Rudolph, the troubled young reindeer gone rogue, which is probably within rifle range of Sarah Palin taking dead aim on the young buck. Not to suggest she would intentionally slaughter a defenseless animal, at least not without a proper license and all the fixins for reindeer stew on hand.

When the digital LED screen glows a new green minute, I cut immediately to Kubla Khan. Even though I have only beat the clock a few times, I routinely finish in under 75 seconds. I'm pretty sure this is world record territory. I am also pretty sure Hasbro won't be rushing to market at a Target near you Poetry Road Games although I'm already thinking 'the road not taken' would be a catchy tag line. Not that the Robert Frost Estate or even FrostFriends would ever support such crass exploitation.

In daylight driving I sometimes hold my breath between the one-tenth mile markers. I try to hold it for a mile. There seems to be some correlation between how fast I can recite Kubla Khan and how long I can hold my breath. I doubt it is exactly a 1:1 correlation, but that's pretty much where my math skills end.

Another thing I do when I'm in hillier areas is pick a landmark at the furthest distance ahead that I can actually describe to myself with confidence and estimate the distance. I then immediately reset the secondary trip odometer and calculate my ETA.  When done,  I wait for the next full minute to dawn, take a well timed breath and charge Kubla Khan.

I once read that men are better at estimating spatial distances. Challenge taken, I am amazed how many miles I can see on a clear day. I know we can see planets and galaxies millions of light years away, but we aren't actually seeing them. Its a parlor trick of Einsteinian proportions. All we see is the light they radiate after it travels through time at the insanely constant speed of 186,000 miles per second.  That's a lot of Kubla Khans.

The author may be right though. I am terrible at estimating distances. Maybe my latest invention - a zoom feature for the windshield - will help. Meanwhile,  at a hill's crest I have been able to make out landmarks nearly ten miles out. I read there is a mathematical formula to determine visible distance on flat earth and the maximum is claimed to be 2.9 miles. I don't understand the math. Possibly it has do with the curvature of the earth. I don't believe the claim, but its out there.

These mind journeys are a form of high speed meditation that keep keep me clear of road rage. They may, of course, generate road rage for those in my draft.  Sorry about that.

Warning: I am nobody's rabbit.

January 22, 2010

Jersey Shore: At Once Repellent and Addictive

Unless you have been in a coma or a convent, chances are you have at least heard of the recent hit show on MTV, Jersey Shore, the latest reality show that manages to straddle the fence between repellent and addictive as it follows a group of eight twentysomething Guidos and Guidettes in their summer adventures shacking up on the Boardwalk at the Jersey Shore, working in a novelty tee shirt store by day and cruising for sex, love and good times every night. Like any reality show, what ultimately hooks you is the cast.

First, a brief and sincere disclaimer. I well appreciate that some Italians consider the terms Guidos and Guidettes as ethnic insults. I intend no insult. I am half-Sicilian myself. More importantly, I am only using the designations because that is how the Jersey Shore cast repeatedly and proudly characterizes themselves.

The Guidos: Ronnie, Vinnie, DJ Paulie D and Mike "The Situation"

Ronnie is the brooder, the romantic,  an unstable keg of dynamite with a short fuse who actually looks like a muscled keg of dynamite. In virtually every episode Ronnie is fuming at some point and before the summer is over --  to no one's surprise --  Ronnie is arrested for aggravated assault after he cold cocks a guy who was verbally harassing the Jersey Shore group at a bar.

At the start of the summer, Ronnie announced his two firm rules:  don't fall in love at the Jersey Shore and don't date women in the house. His dual convictions evaporated like the morning dew the second  Sammi "Sweetheart" (see Guidettes below) whispered sweet nothings in his ear while doing a full body press on the dance floor.  Sure to be voted most likely to serve hard time for involuntary manslaughter, Ronnie still exudes a little brother sweetness that makes it easy to excuse his predisposition to violent outbursts.

Vinnie is the only Guido in the house who does not go to the gym daily and he has the body to prove it. Having just turned 21, Vinnie is the baby of the house, unabashedly excited to christen his passage into adulthood at every bar at the Jersey Shore.  All charm and no drama, Vinnie goes through the summer with a constant and genuine smile on his face, never forgetting for one second what a lucky Guido he is to have scored this gig for his 21st birthday.  Vinnie easily wins best roommate award, but plans to live with him mama until he's married and seems in no hurry whatsoever to make any changes with what is so obviously working well for him.

DJ Pauli D is the oldest and most driven of the Guidos. Whether its blowing out and lacquering  his trademark hairdo, pumping iron at the gym, selling Tee shirts on the Boardwalk or spinning vinyl, Pauli D aims to make the biggest splash and at least in the relatively small pond that is the Jersey Shore, he generally succeeds.  As wing man to Mike 'The Situation' horndog's constant quest to score some midnight booty, Pauli D is probably at his lamest, frequently walking off mid-flight, leaving Mike holding only one more dashed dream of scoring.  DJ Pauli D wins the vote for most likely not to go quietly into the anonymous  oblivion of night when the lights of Jersey Shore are finally turned off.

Mike 'The Situation', the self proclaimed man of the house, has three main passions: staying ripped, staying tanned and getting laid.  While Mike scores less than a priest at Bingo, he is pretty handy around the kitchen.  At 27,  Mike is the second oldest housemate, but he generally behaves like a 12 year old, masterminding late night pickle pranks, and objectifying women as notches in a belt he doesn't even own. Mike's best hope for getting laid: turn gay.

The Guidettes: Angelina, Jenni 'J-WOWW', Sammi 'Sweetheart' and Nicole 'Snooki'

Angelina is a sad story that was never told and can only be imagined. She arrived at the Jersey Shore house with her clothes in a green plastic trash bag. Maybe that said it all. The Guidos immediately reacted with disdain. "Look," they whispered, "doesn't anyone in her family have any luggage she could borrow." I suspect if Angelina had access to luggage she would have used it.  She wasn't making a political statement by using a trash bag to carry her clothes; it was the sad necessity of her circumstance.  From that outset, Angelina was alienated from the rest of the Jersey Shore cast and things went downhill fast.

Angelina's married boyfriend showed up at the Jersey Shore where Angelina and the rest of the cast were partying.  The summer was just starting for Angelina. Who knows where it might have gone, whom she might have met, what modest amount of fame and possible fortune she might have earned as a result. The threat of Angelina finding a life of her own was obviously too much of a risk for her married boyfriend so he forced the situation, presssed the right buttons and within 24 hours, Angelina self destructed and left show to return to the non-life she has with her married boyfriend. Angelina's imagined story is probably no sadder than the truth and should be a lesson to women everywhere. If he is married: move on. If he is cheating on her, he will cheat on you if he isn't already.

Jenni 'J-WOWW' came to Jersey Shore to work, not play. This is her 15 minutes of fame and she is not about to waste a second. If anyone can parlay this opportunity into a career in adult entertainment, J-WOWW can.  But even as determined and single minded as she is, J-WOWW still manages to show more genuine caring and sweetness than Sammi 'Sweetheart'.  When Nicole 'Snooki' is intent on leaving the Jersey Shore house the morning after her first day debacle, J-WOWW convinces her to stay, promising she has her back. J-WOWW also tried to talk some sense into Ronnie's head, albeit unsucessfully, when Sammi 'Sweetheart' was playing her mind games on him. Word is J-WOWW will be doing a Playboy spread. I can only hope that with her heart and class and body to boot, she ultimately knocks Tila Tequila to the gutter where she belongs, but that's a blog for another day.

Sammi 'Sweetheart' is anything but and I have no doubt the name was self proclaimed, not bestowed upon her. While Sammi may have once upon a time been a sweet girl, that girl grew up and changed along the way. By the time Sammi arrived at the Jersey Shore, she was the biggest player of all.

Sammi teased Mike 'The Situation' into a full blown heat, then cold heartedly turned her back on him without so much as one word of warning or explanation.  She then seduced Ronnie with a whisper and a grind. When Sammi left Mike hanging, I am sure painfully, she acted as if his reaction was completely unexpected and unjustified. To his credit, Mike was a gentleman and didn't call Sammi out for the manipulative **** she is. Throughout the summer,  Sammi pitted Ronnie and Mike one against the other and when she bored with that, she egged on Ronnie's always simmering temper, goading strangers to lash out so that Ronnie would explode. Sammi 'Sweetheart' has some serious pathology going on that would take a lifetime of therapy to understand.  She is without question the cast member most likely to have her husband murdered by her boyfriend for the life insurance.  Ronnie and Mike: be thankful you escaped with your lives.

Nicole 'Snooki' is hands down my favorite of the Jersey Shore cast. Snooki is the only one of the group who can carry a spin-off all on her own and the only one who should have her own spin-off for this very reason.  Snooki epitomizes a guidette, as she calls herself, at the Jersey Shore, yet at the same she is so much more.  Snooki is vulnerable and insecure. She obsesses needlessly about her weight and is driven to tears when an equally insecure Mike 'The Situation' lashes out at her at dinner in Atlantic City, telling her she doesn't need a dinner roll, she already has rolls.

Snooki tries to overcome her nerves and insecurities the first day at the house by loosening up with alcohol. At 5' nothing (if even that), Snooki quickly becomes  snookered and ends stripping down to her bra and panties and splashing in the hot tub, trying but miserably failing to pull off vixen.  

To their collective credit and probably in not small part due to the scowling ever watchful eyes of Angelina, Jenni and Sammi, the Guidos do not take advantage of Snooki as she splashes from one to the next, trying to get a rise. The morning after, a mortified Snooki wants to go home and presumably crawl under a rock. Jenni 'J-WOWW' talks her into staying and the rest, as they say, is herstory.

Night after night, Snooki searches for Mr. Right or at least Mr. Right Now, but time and again, she fails  and goes home alone. Even when she succeeds in bringing home a potential Mr. Right Now, fate intervenes and before Snooki can make a move,  Mr. Not Right Now begins puking and keeps puking. Snooki, ever a trooper, grabs a trash bag and escorts Mr. Never Again home, politely declining his goodnight kiss.

At once and seamlessly, Snooki is a character and she is genuine. She is brash and she is sweet. She strikes out repeatedly at finding love, but her conviction that Mr. Right is out there never waivers. While she strives to exude the sex appeal that comes naturally to J-WOWW, Snooki should realize that her appeal is not based on sex. Its based on her heart.

When I first tuned in to Jersey Shore I had no expectation of becoming a fan.  Mike 'The Situation' was so over the top he seemed like The Fonz of Happy Days reincarnated and I honestly did not think I could watch even the entire first episode. But the show is hard to turn off and next thing I knew the credits were running and I wanted to see how Snooki recovered from her disastrous first day. All in all, MTV put on a great show and I hope next summer we get another slice of life at the Jersey Shore.

January 16, 2010

The Tonight Show Starring Paula Poundstone: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Someone needs to call it once and for all.  The Tonight Show franchise: time of death - May 22, 1992. That was the night 67 year old Johnny Carson gave his final monologue. Let me be clear at the outset. I grew up watching Dino crash Johnny's couch.  I knew every one of Johnny's twitches and tics, wives and exes. Hell, Johnny is probably as much responsible for me taking up smoking at 15 as was Julie Rich, the girl who taught me how to french inhale and blow smoke rings.

As loyal a fan as I was of Johnny Carson in my youth, by the time of his retirement, I had long ago wandered away from the Tonight Show. On the Letterman versus Leno debate, I was in the Letterman camp if any, but mostly I didn't care.

What NBC has obviously concluded by its actions in the past year is that it does not have faith that either Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien can be the franchise player to carry the Tonight Show banner. I agree. What makes no sense is to give the franchise back to Leno whom NBC already determined and publicly admitted was the wrong man for this job.

Here is my advice: Stop giving the franchise to the wrong man and give it to the right woman.


The right woman to take over the Tonight Show is Paula Poundstone. 

Joan Rivers was the right woman 18 years ago, but her ship has sailed, circled the globe a couple dozen times, and dropped anchor too often to count. I love the raunch of Chelsea Handler, but her mouth demands cable and even there, more than an occasional bleep and bar of soap. Ellen is great, but already has her own successful talk show and the new commitment to Fox for American Idol eliminates her from contention. Alexa Chung has perfected awkward charm for the MTV audience, but she needs to finish puberty before taking on any new assignments.

Paula Poundstone embodies everything that made Johnny Carson special as the Tonight Show host.  She is quick witted, but never mean spirited. She has the ability to interact with the audience in a hilarious way that allows everyone to laugh without anyone feeling they are being laughed at.  As a seasoned stand up comedian, she can handle the monologue out of the gate.  She appeals to a broad demographic and a young demographic. Also like Johnny, she can do skits, something no one has been able to pull off since Johnny.

And as if all these weren't reasons enough, by all accounts Paula Poundstone is well liked and respected in the show biz community and can probably be had for a relatively modest starting paycheck, especially compared to what NBC will reportedly have to pay Conan just to settle his contract.

I for one would return to the Tonight Show fold with Paula Poundstone at the helm and I can't believe I am the only one.  Make a bold decision NBC.  Go in a truly new direction with a proven talent. Make it the Tonight Show starring Paula Poundstone.

January 15, 2010

What A Surprise: Pat Roberston Exploits Haitian Tragedy To Make Money

On a recent episode of his 700 Club TV program,  as a preface to asking for donations, Pat Robertson  claimed  that God was punishing Haiti by sending it a 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday,  January 12th. Robertson then went on to explain why God did this.  Here is verbatim transcript of what Robertson said:
"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people may not want to talk about it.  They were under the heel of the French, you know, Napolean the third or whatever.  And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so the devil said ok its a deal and they kicked the French out, you know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free,  but ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor.  That island of Hispainola is one island.  Its cut down the middle, on one side is Haiti the other side is the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc.  Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God and out of this tragedy I'm optimistic something good may come."
What Pat Robertson knows about Haitian history could fit easily in the eye of a needle if 1000 angels were not already camped out there laughing their celestial butts off at the crap that comes out of his mouth.  Here are true facts about Haiti.

Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Hispaniola on behalf of Spain in 1492, the same trip on which he bumped into America and also claimed it for Spain. The native population of the island -- which was then called Kiskeya -- were Taino Indians.

In his Captain's Log, Columbus described his initial encounter with the Taino populations: "They brought us barrels of cotton thread and parrots and other little things... I kept my eyes open and tried to find out if there was any gold, and I saw that some of them had a little piece hanging from a hole in their nose. I gathered from their signs that if one goes south, or around the south side of the island, there is a king with great jars full of it, enormous amounts. I tried to persuade them to go there, but I saw that the idea was not to their liking... They would make fine servants... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."   (Seems to me, this was the beginning of cursed bad luck for the island of Hispaniola and it had nothing to do with the devil, except perhaps, the one whose descendants would one day wear Prada.)

The Spanish settlers proceeded to enslave the native population, force their labor in gold mines, claim their women and their gold and spread diseases including small pox. As the Taino were driven to the brink of extinction, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, grandson of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the sponsors of Columbus' 1492 voyage, authorized importing slaves from Africa to fill the labor needs of Hispaniola. 

Not surprisingly, the Haitians do not celebrate Columbus Day.
By the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, Spain and France ended their Nine Years War and one the terms of their peace divided Hispaniola between them, with France taking a western third of the island and Spain the rest.

Thereafter, tens of thousands of French colonists settled in western Hispaniola (Not entirely unlike, one might argue if so inclined,  modern day China's movement of Han people into the Tibetan province of the People's Republic of China or the colonization of what was to become the United States beginning with the Britain's original thirteen colonies.)

In Hispaniola, the French established highly profitable sugar cane and cotton plantations based on what has been described as the world's most brutally efficient slave colony.

During that period  life span of one-third of the adult African slave population in Hispaniola was only  three years. This necessitated constantly importing more and more slaves. It is estimated that by the late 1700's, France, which had taken control of all the island, enslaved more than three quarters of a million Africans on Hispaniola and imported more than 40,000 slaves a year, mostly from Africa, just to keep up with the numbers of slaves being tortured to death year in, year out.

The French slave owners frequently mated with African slaves and under the French system,  their mixed race offspring were free people who could inherit property. This class of "mulattoes" became a middle class between the French colonists and the African slaves.  Through inheritance and property rights, by the close of the 1700's, this mixed race class owned a substantial number of African slaves themselves.

The catalyst for the slave uprising which became the Haitian revolution is said by at least one scholar to  have been a religious ceremony conducted by slave and voo dou priest Dutty Boukman.  This ceremony incorporated both Catholic and voo dou prayer and included the sacrifice of a pig.  In the course of the ceremony, Boukman prophesized that the slaves would succeed in their uprising and achieve freedom.

Within days of this religious  ceremony. the French captured Boukman, beheaded him and put his head on parade in hopes of quashing the rebellious spirit of the slaves. Instead, the barbaric acts of the French further motivated the slaves to  continue to fight for freedom.

Pat Robertson's denigration of this religious ceremony as making a deal with the devil reflects Pat Robertson's ignorance, his racism and his bigotry. Voo dou or voo doo, from the West African vodon,  simply means spirits. In the voo dou belief system. there is one supreme God and there are lesser or intermediate spirits. These aspects of the religion are similar in many ways to Catholicism's trinity, saints and angels.

Catholics pray to saints for them to intercede on their behalf and depending on what they need, direct their prayers to particular saints. For instance,  St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things so if you have lost your wallet, he is the saint to ask for help. St. George and St. Joan of Arc are patron saints of soldiers so going into battle, they would be likely saints to direct prayers for victory.  Similarly in the voo dou religion,  prayers and sacrifices are directed to different spirits depending on the subject of the prayer.

Devil worship is not part of the voo dou religion and there is not a single scholarly source to support even feebly Pat Robertson's claim that Haiti  ever made a pact with the devil.

Haiti was struck by a 7.0 earthquake because of shifting plate tectonics and its location relative to the shifting plates beneath it.

If you want to help the survivors, you can make a secure online donation by visiting www.redcross.org.