Thursday, November 26, 2009

V is for “vaccine” and “vitamin”


Jewish date:  9 Kislew 5770 (Parashath Wayyeṣe’).

Today’s holidays:  Thursday of the Thirty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Day of the Covenant (Bahá’í Faith), Yaum-Arafah (Islam).

Worthy cause of the day:  “Take Action: Tell President Obama to Save Rainforests and Stop Climate Change”.

Topic 1:  V (new series), episode 4:  “It’s Only The Beginning”.  This is more of a moral/ethical episode than a theological one.

A) There is a focus on the Vs performing medical miracles—apparently a reason a lot of people like the Vs—with the announcement of plans for them to distribute a new “vitamin shot” to boost the human immune system.  This should raise a question to anyone in the sciences:  is anyone doing proper studies to make sure V medicine actually works on humans better than human medicine or placebos?  Yes, there are “miracles”, but the unexpected sometimes happens in medicine.  For all we know, some of the “miracle cures” of the Vs are spontaneous remissions which the Vs take credit for.  Furthermore, is there any followup being done to track complications and side effects?  So far none of the characters seems to have thought about this issue, though they actually examine the “vitamin shots” and find out they contain——vitamins.  Seemingly ordinary influenza vaccine, however, may have been contaminated, and so the resistance takes a vial and destroys the rest.  It is not revealed why the Vs are tampering with influenza vaccines, but tampering with medicine certainly violates medical ethics.  (General rule in medical ethics:  never do anything to anyone without their informed consent.  But since the Vs are definitely doing naughty things in secret, this violation should be no surprise.)  Medicine is also used to try to control the reporter Chad Decker.  While reporting on V medical technology, he is scanned by a V medical scanner.  The Vs tell him that he will have a brain aneurysm in six months which human technology cannot detect.  There is a waiting list for V medical treatment, so there is an implication that he will have to do something for the Vs to save his life.

B) Questions of morality in in war are showing up, as they should.  Father Jack is asked if he is a priest or a soldier while he gives some emergency medical aid.  He has been both at the same time—he was an army chaplain and did two tours in Iraq.  Christianity has for the most part outgrown its militant past, and  it is a past that many consider a mistake.  Father Jack clearly feels awkward, even if his behavior is justified.  His problems are nothing compared to those of the Fifth Column, the Vs’ internal resistance.  One of the Fifth Column killed a V sleeper agent.  In order to spare the guilty party from Anna’s wrath, another of the Fifth Columnists took credit.  To make things really conflicted, Anna ordered the true guilty party, a medical officer, to inflict the punishment on the one who took credit:  skinning.  (Anna is not a nice humanoid lizard creature.)  The V who took credit justified himself to the true guilty party on the grounds of who was expendable and who was not and demanded that the true guilty party do as Anna ordered him.  He complied, but he was clearly forcing himself to do it.

C) Anna seems to have a messiah or goddess complex.  She does not tolerate “disharmony” among the V.  (See the above bit about skinning a rebel.)  Also, at the end of the episode, she sits naked(!) on a lit platform and apparently broadcasts good feelings which include her claiming to be wonderful (“bliss”).

This wraps up the series until March.  Things are not quite as bad as they seemed based on the pilot episode alone, but there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made.  In particular, the sudden reaction of many humans to the arrival of the Vs to start going to church still remains to be explained.  Fortunately there is hope that this series will turn out alright.

Topic 2:  Eastwick, episode 8:  “Paint and Pleasure”.  Theological progress is made by Roxanne, who has a vision of herself wearing a fancy necklace and snogging Darryl.  (And, yes, I have watched too much British TV.)  Soon afterwards Darryl presents her with the necklace and holds a party to introduce her paintings to the critical world.  The party is a success, with a critic praising Roxy’s art and noting all the paintings have been sold.  Roxy does end up snogging with Darryl, but she terminates the snogging session to go back to the party; she recognizes that the vision was of snogging, not going any further than that.  Therefore, even if fatalism rules in this world, the only thing she knows she must do is snog Darryl.  She later decides to go further with Darryl, but changes her mind once he stupidly hints that he was the one who bought her paintings.  (Good for the writers.  Darryl’s evil and sort of slimy.  He should not be getting what he wants.)  Roxy also gets a vision while looking at a painting of hers that was not at the party; she sees a dagger dripping blood.  The rest of the magic in the episode is fairly ordinary for this show.  Joanna, feeling depressed, mesmerizes a homosexual man into sleeping with her in Darryl’s bathroom.  Kat unpremeditatedly causes strong wind, strong enough to overturn a baby grand piano, when she sees her ex-husband snogging with his new girlfriend.

Topic 3:  More religious humor:  “Breaking News”.
funny pictures of cats with captions
I still have no idea why black cats are associated with evil.  Black = darkness = evil (opposite of light = good) makes enough sense, but why cats in particular?  Any enlightenment would be much appreciated.


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