Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Some Good News, Damnit

We've had enough.

War. Scandal. Crime. Abuse. A premature election. We just couldn't take it anymore. It's been so bad we can't even watch the evening news anymore.

So we decided to do something about it. We decided to dig up some good news, damnit:

Shrek (not the ogre) – Patrick Greer

I went in a search of a story that could express good news or at least a joyful moment. I wandered around the web looking for stories about puppies or children – or better yet, children hugging puppies (the key to world peace, by the way) – but,
alas, none were to be found. I began lamenting, "Where have all the puppies are gone?" Then I remembered a story that had recently brought a smile to my face. A story of heroism. A story of courage.

The story of a sheep.

Shrek the sheep – named for the loveable Dreamworks movie monster of the same name – was born 10 years ago but only spent the first four years in human hands. It was then that he managed to escape from Bendigo Hill Station on the south island of New Zealand. He lived in a cave in the hills, evading capture and public notice, for six years. Recently, though, Anna Scanlan came running down the hill after seeing a huge shape move near her. Shrek was captured shortly thereafter. After six years in the wild this huge ram's fleece was estimated to weigh 50 lbs – one third as much as the whole sheep!

There was only one thing to do. They called in a master Shearer to remove the fleece. By now Shrek has become an icon of sorts. Pride was found in this giant sheep and the world wanted to see what was to going to happen to him. His shearing was televised as far away as Japan.

When the 50 lbs of raw wool was pulled away, Shrek was reduced to a quarter of fleeced size. The wool, enough to make 20 suits, is going to sold at auction – the proceeds to benefit a Children’s Cancer fund to buy the children puppies. Well, probably not puppies... but I can still dream of world peace. fb

Apple (not the computer) – J.D. Jordan
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin recently named their daughter Apple, adding one more strange child moniker to the overwhelming list of bizarre celebrity baby names.

Where Mr. and Mrs. America turn to the mundane, our celebrities, home-grown and international, look farther afield for unique baby names. For instance, take a look at this list provide by the Social Security Administration of America's favorite baby names:

Top 10 girl names, 2003:
  1. Emily
  2. Emma
  3. Madison
  4. Hannah
  5. Olivia
  6. Abigail
  7. Alexis
  8. Ashley
  9. Elizabeth
  10. Samantha
Top 10 boy names, 2003:
  1. Jacob
  2. Michael
  3. Joshua
  4. Matthew
  5. Andrew
  6. Joseph
  7. Ethan
  8. Daniel
  9. Christopher
  10. Anthony
source: Social Security Administration

Some of these names have great staying power, too. Emily has been the fast favorite for girls for eight years. Jacob has been the most popular boy name for four years (supplanting Michael's reign in 1999). And while these names may be popular, they are a bit boring. Which might explain these celebrity children:
Child : Celebrity Parents
Apple : Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin
Audio Science : Shannyn Sossamon
Banjo : Patrick and Rachel Griffiths
Betty Kitten : Jane Goldman and Jonathan Ross
Blue Angel : Dave Evans (U2's 'The Edge')
Chastity : Sonny and Cher
Denim : Toni Braxton
Dixie Dot : Anna Ryder Richardson
Dweezil : Frank Zappa
Elijah Blue : Cher and Gregg Allman
Elijah Bob Patricus Guggi Q : Bono
Fifi Trixibelle : Paula Yates and Bob Geldof
Freedom : Ving Rhames
George (Jr, III, IV, V, and VI) : George Foreman
Georgetta : George Foreman
Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily : Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence
Jermajesty : Jermaine Jackson
Kyd : Tea Leoni and David Duchovny
Moon Unit : Frank Zappa
Ocean : Forest Whitaker
Peaches Honeyblossom : Paula Yates and Bob Geldof
Pilot Inspektor : Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf
Pixie : Paula Yates and Bob Geldof
Prince Michael I : Michael Jackson
Prince Michael II (Blanket) : Michael Jackson
Racer : Robert Rodriguez
Rebel : Robert Rodriguez
Reignbeau : Ving Rhames
Rocket : Robert Rodriguez
Satchel : Spike Lee/Woody Allen
Seven Sirius : Erykah Badu and Andre Benjamin
Speck Wildhorse : John Cougar Mellencamp
Sonnet : Forest Whitaker
True : Forest Whitaker
Tu Morrow : Rob Morrow
Zowie Bowie : David Bowie

But celebrities are not alone in their quest for unique (if not inane) monikers. It was two ordinary Americans which legally changed their names to Trout Fishing in America and Optimus Prime. One father even named his child v2.0. fb

Face Off (not the movie...sorta) - Fleming Patterson
Did you ever watch the movie “Face Off,” starring, John Travolta and Nicholas Cage? If you did, you'll remember when John Travolta’s character lifted off someone else’s face and surgically attached it in the place of his own, ultimately changing his appearance and taking on someone else’s identity. At the time this movie was released this idea was unheard of but – like so many movie and television concepts before it – it was destined to become a reality.

At the University Of Louisville School Of Medicine a team of 16 to 17 doctors are prepared to do the impossible. They are willing to forge ahead and perform the world's first face transplant. There is just one catch: They have to be approved by several boards before the transforming surgery is done. The doctors in the University of Louisville team are further ahead then most of the competitors and expect the needed approvals within the next year.

Why someone would want to have a face transplant? In Hollywood you may want to change your identity, but in the medical world there are many cases where patients were mauled by dogs, severely burned, or somehow disfigured. These patients are striving to regain a normal life, a life they once had that has now been so dramatically changed.

Are there psychological consequences for face transplant patients? This is one of many ethical questions hindering this surgical advancement. Of course, one may have problems coping with the thought of having someone else’s facial tissue grafted on, replacing the face they were born with. But the benefits of this surgery are endless when a patient wants to lead a somewhat normal life.

Is it truly possible to lift someone's face off and implant it identically on someone else’s skull? At present this form of procedure is impossible – nor is there any medical doctor who publicly wants to accomplish it. Individual skeletal structures are very different from person to person – when facial tissue is reapplied you would get a much different look.

A similar procedure has been done before. The findings were published in the May 29 issue of "New Scientist." A patient’s face had been disfigured but was successfully reattached. With this precedent, doctors began to explore the possibility of attaching facial tissue and blood vessels from a donor cadaver to a new live patient in much the same way.

People tend to forget that even though things may be “Hollywood” that certain dreams and depictions may become a reality. The great reality of this situation is not that one could change their identity but that a real patient can get their identity back without having to hide from the normal life they once had. fb

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