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The historical moment when excluding gays in the military took root.

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Raging Pencils is a gagging conceit of:

Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
Mike "Lefty" Stanfill, Private Hand
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worst stage name for a porn star

Today's mystery web comic is:

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My Dinner With James

professor james burkeI'm now going to share with you one of my favorite people in the whole wide world.

When the time comes for me to sit back and enjoy a hearty evening meal I usually dial up Hulu or some similarly video-heavy web site for a little light entertainment. For the past week or so I've been watching episodes of "The Day the Universe Changed" on Youtube.

Never heard of it? That's a shame as it's one of the most entertaining and enlightening science programs I've ever seen. And, yes, I saw it when it debuted on PBS back '85.

It's host and creator (and writer and producer), Professor James Burke, a man with whom I'd be honored to share a bit of Gruyere, uses this ten part series to illustrate how small scientific advances leapfrog one another to become indispensible parts of our modern world. Things like printing, medicine, physics and relativity, stuff like that.

Mr. Burke also created the equally fascinating "Connections", an earlier ten-part series which demonstrated how primitive ideas formed the foundation for more complicated discoveries. How everything, you know, connects. It's a subtle difference thematically from "Universe" but equally enthralling.

Both series are available on Youtube (and in book form) and I urge you to check them out. Your brain will thank you for it.


One of the episodes of "The Day the Universe Changed" ended with Charles Darwin's landmark thesis on evolution. By some odd coincidence I watched that particular episode and then, only a couple of days later, spent an evening at the cinema with Beloved Girlfriend watching "Creation", a recently released feature film about the life of Charles Darwin. It concerns the time when he wrote "The Origin of Species", a much more emotional enterprise than you might have guessed, due in no small part to the passing of a beloved child and the religious implications it had on the Darwin household. This was, you must remember, an era when belief in God as the creator was hard-wired into Victorian society so he was definitely swimming against a raging tide of popular opinion.

Brave man, this Darwin.

Based on the book "Annie's Box" (Annie's what? Stop that!) this BBC production had trouble finding syndication in the U.S. as American religious groups were up in arms over its subject matter. But it finally opened in the States and I heartily recommend it, unless you're the type that has to have bare boobs, car chases or explosions to make you cough up your $9 entry fee. It's well-acted, intelligent and, oddly enough, a love story, too.

Four stars and two opposable thumbs up. Way up.


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Raging Pencils salutes the Mystery Readers of
Mönchengladbach, Germany
Whoever you are, thanks for reading my invasive little 'toon.

end rant

A blast from the reeking past. The RP from 11-28-08.

the official list of those who should never marry

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Today's Google Chow.

Viking leader addressing his men.
Erik the Puce: "For the hundredth time, Vlabowski, the answer is yes, we rape all the women and kill all the men... even the really, really cute ones."

Caption: The historical moment when the idea for excluding gays from the military took root.