hit it til it breaks

frustrated and in a rage after the last election, I decided that rather than leaving the country or refusing to speak to my Southern family, I was going to talk until their ears turned blue. I gathered up every family email address I could find, and I sent them a nice introductory letter and proceeded to bombard them almost daily with all manner of progressive/liberal/informative articles/cartoons/columns/whatever. This is the poorly updated archive of my exchanges with them.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Hey guys,

All politics aside, I hope everyone is safe and sound as Katrina moves across the south. I'm praying for you. Stay safe!


Friday, August 12, 2005

A break in the clouds...

I was happy that uncle G- had sent something nice and was being somewhat concilliatory instead of getting angry or calling me crazy, but I wasn't prepared for this. It isn't bad, but I think it says something about what happens when you engage people in dialogue even when you disagree. If you start poking and annoying people, at the very least it shows them you are thinking and concerned and suddenly someone from the furthest opposite side of the politcal spectrum is asking for your opinion about taxes! I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the disagrements, but I've got to say that this was totally unexpected and very welcome. Wow!

Now I have to bone up on tax legislation...

(begin letter)

"Dear G-,

The typical investor gives up fifty (50%) percent of their income to taxes, while wealthy (people like Ross Perot and Bill Gates) pay only single digits-reportedly as low as 4% to 5%."











a response from uncle g-

this is the first letter I got back from Uncle G- :

Click here: Strong Hillary Book Sales Prove N.Y. Times Wrong

(end letter)

I just kind of thought, "Whatever" and didn't respond.

But then I got this:

SMILE !!!!!


(end letter)

so I responded:

Hey Uncle G-,

Thanks for that forward. I thought it was funny, too.

I hope you and Aunt ____ have a great vacation. I could use one. And whatever our arguments and disagreements about politics, we are always family and I never forget that.

Travel safe and give Aunt ____ my love,


Re: ABOUT DO NOTHING CLINTON! - an exchange with my dad

I wasn't exactly sure how my angry missive would be recieved. My parents are reliably supportive and basically giggle at family controversy as long as no one gets hurt. Here's what my dad sent:

But, what about my big word allegation…?

Dan, are you just a little peeved?...well said, I might add…

Hang in there…

(end Dad)

to which I replied:

thanks, Dad.
Just a little peeved and I kind of really don't expect to get through to ___ or ___, but I have to send a few shots across the bow before he gets any more out of control. Kind of fun to grumble every now and then anyway.
And about your big word accusation, I looked back at what I forwarded and in fact, I did not use 'syllogism' it was in the quote from the article that I put in my diatribe, not my actually writing. I did have an editorial error, having quoted two paragraphs and only put quotation marks at the beginning of the first paragraph and the end of the second so it is easy to see how they could be overlooked.
But I do think you are right about one person using a word and then it getting picked up and used by everyone else. 'Paradigm shift' was a word which we used quite a bit in my science classes, but you do hear it everywhere now. The most annoying example of this that I can remember was on 9/11 when early in the morning, Dan Rather (I think) used the words 'dispicable' and 'dastardly' which when I first heard them, i thought of daffy duck and found them to be completely annoying words particularly when describing what they were describing. Apparently, I was alone in this. Suddenly everyone on every channel had picked up one or the other or both and were using them over and over again.
Should I start inserting outlandish words just to see if I can start making people in the family use them?

(end letter)

and he replied:

Did you hear my favorite news anchor died? Peter Jennings died from lung
cancer. Sad thing - a real pro at the news...saw a tribute to him, very

Glad to know you don't expect a change from uncle g-...if anything, the
letters might get bigger...

Well, I've found myself thinking syllogistic thoughts lately, maybe you are
already having an effect...maybe, I just invented a new word...we'll see if
you can refrain from using it...

I've finally reached balance in my menu...steak on one side of the plate and
steamed vegetables on the other side...I am achieving balance
finally...course, I'm going from that to my new desert sensation...almost
cooked chocolate chip cookies topped with french vanilla ice cream, with the
remainder of the cookies crumbled on top with whip cream and chocolate
drizzled over it all...


Here is my response:

To anyone who cares to forward stuff on this list, I have a couple of requests. One, only include forwards to the people on it you know. I am fairly certain that not everyone on this list is well aquainted and no one likes getting emails from people they don't recognize. And if you expect people to read things which you write, use a reasonable font (12 or 14), do not write in all caps (it is rude, it is like yelling at people) and use a neutral color (preferably black; if you want to advertise your sports affiliations, do it on a t-shirt).

Two, if you are going to send some inflamatory crap that repeated mentions 'truth' or 'facts', double check it and check it against unbiased sources. Not liking someone is no reason to slander them.

And when talking about politicians, I personally am concerned with how they do their job not whether or not they are nice or would be fun to have over for a cook-out. They aren't coming over for my next party, but how they vote on tax or environmental legislation is going to effect my life. And the next time someone cares to bring up Monica Lewinsky and deride Clinton about it, I will take this as an indication that you will no longer talk glowingly of rudy guilliani (who moved his mistress into the mayor's mansion and chose a press conference as the way to tell his wife he was seeking a divorce) or newt gingrich (who was having an affair while leading the witch hunt over Clinton's infidelity and who asked his first wife to sign divorce papers while she was in recovery from surgery for her cancer) or any number of other republican 'family values' types who have no place criticizing anyone's fidelity or lack there of.

Clinton wasn't perfect and there were plenty of things that I disagreed with that he did. Dad and I have been discussing CAFTA (which just passed) and I thought it was just as odious as NAFTA (which Clinton passed). And he has spoken publicly about the insufficiency of his response to genocide in Africa, which galled and horrified me then the same as the genocide going on in Sudan is horrifying me right now. But Clinton worked with congress to bring the deficit down (which they did) and to balance the buget and worked effectively with international leaders. It was easy to find a job when he was in office and you could afford to fill up your gas tank and you could travel safely most places in the world. Those are the kinds of things by which I judge a president or a congressperson.

as to the specific charges in the crud uncle g- sent, lets do a run through, but first a few comments on some things in the forward and in other forwards that I take personally:

"True Americans must do everything in their power to make sure that no one like
Bill Clinton ever becomes President. We must be vigilant so that no God-hating, UN-
loving, liberal coward ever again disgraces the office of the Presidency and this nation."

When you suggest that liberals aren't 'True Americans' and 'God-hating' and cowards, you are saying it about me and it pisses me off. It is personal and rude and for whatever kind of coward you may think other liberals are, this one has had enough and you better be ready for an earful in none too nice terms if anyone cares to call me names again.

who knows, I might get just angry enough to write in all caps.

: )

(this article can be seen in its original form at: http://www.snopes.com/rumors/clinton.htm)

Claim: The Clinton administration failed to track down the perpetrators of several terrorist attacks against Americans.
Status: False.

[I sent the entire Snopes page in my response but I will let you nice folks click through to it yourself rather than republish it here. Go read it.]

This was sent to me: ABOUT DO NOTHING CLINTON!

I received this forward the other day from uncle G:

A True National Disaster
By Tom Barrett

Let's take a walk down Memory Lane. I know you would rather not think about the Clinton
Years. But we need to remember that during those terrible eight years Clinton did nothing
to combat terrorism. And now that George Bush is doing what Clinton should have done,
he has the gall to criticize the President.

Fact: 1993- Following the World Trade Center bombing, which killed six and injured
over 1,000, Clinton promised that those responsible would be hunted down and punished.

Fact: 1995- After the terrorist bombing in Saudi Arabia which killed five US military
men, Clinton promised that those responsible would be hunted down and punished.
Fact: 1996- Following the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed
19 and injured 200 U.S. military personnel, Clinton promised that those responsible
would be hunted down and punished.

Fact: 1998- After the bombing of US embassies in Africa, which killed 224 and injured
5,000, Clinton promised that those responsible would be hunted down and punished.

Fact: 2000- Following the bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 and injured 39 US
sailors, Clinton promised that those responsible would be hunted down and punished.

Instead of hunting down and punishing terrorists, Clinton spent many millions more
persecuting Bill Gates than he spent hunting Osama bin Laden. If he had kept his
promises it is likely that the 3,000 people who died on September 11, 2001 would be
alive today. The Clinton Years will go down in history as a true national disaster.

Now President Bush is taking bold steps to rid the world of terrorism. He is doing it not
just to protect patriotic Americans, but also to protect spineless cowards like ex-President
Bill Clinton. He is doing it so that everyone, even ungrateful loudmouths like ex-
President Clinton can have the freedom to run their mouths and put down the
Commander-in-Chief and the brave troops who defend all of us.

There used to be a great tradition which called for ex-Presidents kept their mouths shut
and wrote their memoirs. Unfortunately Clinton's memoirs would be classified as pornographic
material, so he has chosen instead to start a new career as a spoiler. Bitter because he
was so ineffective at defending our nation, Clinton can't stand to see Bush successfully
routing terrorism around the world. So he misses no opportunity to snipe and take digs at
George Bush's policies.

George Bush did more for this nation than ex-President Clinton (sorry, I just love to write
"ex-President") did in his eight years in office. In fact, I can't think of anything good that
Clinton did while he was in charge.

So why am I bringing up old facts that we all know so well? The Jewish people have a
saying regarding the Holocaust: "Never again." They remember the Holocaust because if
they allow the world to forget it, it could happen again.

And so I say to Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton (shudder!), and others like them
who would carry on the liberal lying tradition of Bubba Clinton: "Never again." Should
one of this unholy trio manage to gain the Presidency, it would be another national
disaster. True Americans must do everything in their power to make sure that no one like
Bill Clinton ever becomes President. We must be vigilant so that no God-hating, UN-
loving, liberal coward ever again disgraces the office of the Presidency and this nation.
Never again!

how I am going to proceed...

I have been lazy about posting all the forwards and correspondences with my family here. I have them all saved, but eight months of emailing and hundreds of correspondences arent going to be posted overnight. So I am gong to start with a few recent ones and move forward and try to keep it up to date and slowly start filling in the backlog. Eventually the full picture will be there and some of the comments by me or relatives may not make sense until then (some may never make sense).

I am removing other folks names and may do some minor editing but will indicate where I do.

I'll begin with an interesting exchange between my uncle and I over bashing liberals...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"End Timers and Neocons"

(little note: secretly, I am actually a pretty conservative fellow. so I picked for my first commentator a conservative critic, whose complaints I couldn't agree with more. If you want to see this article in its original form, go to this link:

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=76&ItemID=7056 )

happy reading,




Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy during 1981-82. He was also Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review.

I remember when friends would excitedly telephone to report that Rush Limbaugh or G. Gordon Liddy had just read one of my syndicated columns over the air. That was before I became a critic of the US invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration, and the neoconservative ideologues who have seized control of the US government.

America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country's population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven. Many patriots think that, finally, America is standing up for itself and demonstrating its righteous might. Conservatives are taking out their Vietnam frustrations on Iraqis. Karl Rove is wrapping Bush in the protective cloak of war leader. The military-industrial complex is drooling over the profits of war. And neoconservatives are laying the groundwork for Israeli territorial expansion.

The evening before Thanksgiving Rush Limbaugh was on C-Span TV explaining that these glorious developments would have been impossible if talk radio and the conservative movement had not combined to break the power of the liberal media.

In the Thanksgiving issue of National Review, editor Richard Lowry and former editor John O'Sullivan celebrate Bush's reelection triumph over "a hostile press corps." "Try as they might," crowed O'Sullivan, "they couldn't put Kerry over the top." There was a time when I could rant about the "liberal media" with the best of them. But in recent years I have puzzled over the precise location of the "liberal media."

Not so long ago I would have identified the liberal media as the New York Times and Washington Post, CNN and the three TV networks, and National Public Radio. But both the Times and the Post fell for the Bush administration's lies about WMD and supported the US invasion of Iraq. On balance CNN, the networks, and NPR have not made an issue of the Bush administration's changing explanations for the invasion.

Apparently, Rush Limbaugh and National Review think there is a liberal media because the prison torture scandal could not be suppressed and a cameraman filmed the execution of a wounded Iraqi prisoner by a US Marine. Do the Village Voice and The Nation comprise the "liberal media"? The Village Voice is known for Nat Hentoff and his columns on civil liberties. Every good conservative believes that civil liberties are liberal because they interfere with the police and let criminals go free. The Nation favors spending on the poor and disfavors gun rights, but I don't see the "liberal hate" in The Nation's feeble pages that Rush Limbaugh was denouncing on C-Span.

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

The Iraqi War is serving as a great catharsis for multiple conservative frustrations: job loss, drugs, crime, homosexuals, pornography, female promiscuity, abortion, restrictions on prayer in public places, Darwinism and attacks on religion. Liberals are the cause. Liberals are against America. Anyone against the war is against America and is a liberal. "You are with us or against us."

This is the mindset of delusion, and delusion permits no facts or analysis. Blind emotion rules. Americans are right and everyone else is wrong. End of the debate.

That, gentle reader, is the full extent of talk radio, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal Editorial page, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and, indeed, of the entire concentrated corporate media where noncontroversy in the interest of advertising revenue rules.

Once upon a time there was a liberal media. It developed out of the Great Depression and the New Deal. Liberals believed that the private sector is the source of greed that must be restrained by government acting in the public interest. The liberals' mistake was to identify morality with government. Liberals had great suspicion of private power and insufficient suspicion of the power and inclination of government to do good.

Liberals became Benthamites (after Jeremy Bentham). They believed that as the people controlled government through democracy, there was no reason to fear government power, which should be increased in order to accomplish more good.

The conservative movement that I grew up in did not share the liberals' abiding faith in government. "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Today it is liberals, not conservatives, who endeavor to defend civil liberties from the state. Conservatives have been won around to the old liberal view that as long as government power is in their hands, there is no reason to fear it or to limit it. Thus, the Patriot Act, which permits government to suspend a person's civil liberty by calling him a terrorist with or without proof. Thus, preemptive war, which permits the President to invade other countries based on unverified assertions.

There is nothing conservative about these positions. To label them conservative is to make the same error as labeling the 1930s German Brownshirts conservative.

American liberals called the Brownshirts "conservative," because the Brownshirts were obviously not liberal. They were ignorant, violent, delusional, and they worshipped a man of no known distinction. Brownshirts' delusions were protected by an emotional force field. Adulation of power and force prevented Brownshirts from recognizing implications for their country of their reckless doctrines.

Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy. I went overnight from being an object of conservative adulation to one of derision when I wrote that the US invasion of Iraq was a "strategic blunder."

It is amazing that only a short time ago the Bush administration and its supporters believed that all the US had to do was to appear in Iraq and we would be greeted with flowers. Has there ever been a greater example of delusion? Isn't this on a par with the Children's Crusade against the Saracens in the Middle Ages?

Delusion is still the defining characteristic of the Bush administration. We have smashed Fallujah, a city of 300,000, only to discover that the 10,000 US Marines are bogged down in the ruins of the city. If the Marines leave, the "defeated" insurgents will return. Meanwhile the insurgents have moved on to destabilize Mosul, a city five times as large. Thus, the call for more US troops.

There are no more troops. Our former allies are not going to send troops. The only way the Bush administration can continue with its Iraq policy is to reinstate the draft.

When the draft is reinstated, conservatives will loudly proclaim their pride that their sons, fathers, husbands and brothers are going to die for "our freedom." Not a single one of them will be able to explain why destroying Iraqi cities and occupying the ruins are necessary for "our freedom." But this inability will not lessen the enthusiasm for the project. To protect their delusions from "reality-based" critics, they will demand that the critics be arrested for treason and silenced. Many encouraged by talk radio already speak this way.

Because of the triumph of delusional "new conservatives" and the demise of the liberal media, this war is different from the Vietnam war. As more Americans are killed and maimed in the pointless carnage, more Americans have a powerful emotional stake that the war not be lost and not be in vain. Trapped in violence and unable to admit mistake, a reckless administration will escalate.

The rapidly collapsing US dollar is hard evidence that the world sees the US as bankrupt. Flight from the dollar as the reserve currency will adversely impact American living standards, which are already falling as a result of job outsourcing and offshore production. The US cannot afford a costly and interminable war.

Falling living standards and inability to impose our will on the Middle East will result in great frustrations that will diminish our country.

Howdy folks

Hey guys,

this is everyone's favorite son/brother/nephew/cousin/etc. D-. I am not the best at keeping in touch, but I read everything sent my way and try my best to keep up with what is going on in folks lives and such as best I can through Mom and Dad.

I don't know if all of you know what is going on in my life now, but for those not in the know, I am still living in NYC, working [somewhere]. I have been up here for a couple of years and will be here for a little while longer, although I don't plan on staying in the city long term.

Anyway, if you have ventured into discussing politics with me anytime over the last few years, you probably already know that I am pretty horrified by what is going on in the country these days. Living in New York has made it a little easier (even with the stupid ways the city handled the protests; ask C- about that), but as much as I like living in the city, I am from the South and far away as I may go, I am always going to end up back there (a position which I have reconsidered several times over the last few years, but I was never one to be run off too easily, so you are stuck with me).

I promised Aunt G- that I wouldn't move to Canada after the election, so I have stayed to fight. I have no great delusions of granduer (well some, but they have nothing to do with the subject at hand) and know that not everyone will agree with me or like many (most) things I have to say, but that has never stopped me before and this is much more important. I don't expect to necessarily change anyone's mind, but I figure I should start trying to reach who I can and share what I am seeing and see if any of it reasonates with them. I don't know politically where most of you stand and make no assumptions that anyone on this list is boarish or dumb or uninformed. I just know that the region where I am from voted in such a way that I am ashamed and saddened and no longer feel comfortable there and I have to try to do something and I had to start somewhere and I decided upon my family.

I hope all of you will take some time to read some of the stuff I forward to you. I don't expect everyone to read all of it or agree with it, but...oh well, I'll shut up now and start this whole mess. I won't write everyday, but I will try to forward articles and essays along as often as I can. Since this is long, I will send my first forward in a different message.

love you all,


Thursday, August 04, 2005

"Pentagon's New Goal: Put Science Into Scripts"

If you are wondering why I am sending you an article about scientist writing movies, this is the telling quote:

"Exactly how the national defense could be bolstered by setting a few more people loose in Los Angeles with screenplays to peddle may be a bit of a brainteaser. But officials at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research spell out a straightforward syllogism:

"Fewer and fewer students are pursuing science and engineering. While immigrants are taking up the slack in many areas, defense laboratories and industries generally require American citizenship or permanent residency. So a crisis is looming, unless careers in science and engineering suddenly become hugely popular, said Robert J. Barker, an Air Force program manager who approved the grant."

Falling behind in science education is a national security issue.

creationism/intelligent design as a religious or philosophical belief, whatever, but promoted as science it is a national security issue. People pushing for inclusion of creationism in science text books should be regarded as enemies of the state. They are attacking a central foundation of modern science and their claims can not stand without attacking the scientific method and our scientific tradition itself. You can't throw the unifying theory of biology out the window and expect other disciplines not to suffer. You have to throw geology out the window too, and meteorology and chemistry and physics and modern medicine and modern agriculture...

Nothing happens in a vaccuum. You can't vilify scientists and central tenents of our understanding and not have a suppressing effect. You can't ill prepare a populace to enter the modern work force and expect jobs to stick around. Those morons who were putting warning stickers in science text books in Georgia and attacking evolution in Kansas and who are always trying to do it in Alabama are enemies of the state. The crazy people at Answers in Genesis who built a creationism theme park in Ohio and the folks who built one in Pensacola, telling people that humans and dinosaurs lived together and the great flood explains every geological phenomenom on the planet; they are enemies of the state. They aren't just promoting a religious belief, they are aggressively and actively attacking science education in this country and this is a national security issue. If the avian flu makes the jump to humans (as there are indications that it is about to do in China right now) and becomes the next pandemic catastophe, it is not people who believe that the planet is 6000 years old who will help stop it. It is scientists and it will be biologists and every bit of work they do to understand it and save lives will involve the theory of evolution.

(this article can be seen in its original form at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/04/movies/04flyb.html?th&emc=th )

August 4, 2005
Pentagon's New Goal: Put Science Into Scripts
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 3 - Tucked away in the Hollywood hills, an elite group of scientists from across the country and from a grab bag of disciplines - rocket science, nanotechnology, genetics, even veterinary medicine - has gathered this week to plot a solution to what officials call one of the nation's most vexing long-term national security problems.

Their work is being financed by the Air Force and the Army, but the Manhattan Project it ain't: the 15 scientists are being taught how to write and sell screenplays.

At a cost of roughly $25,000 in Pentagon research grants, the American Film Institute is cramming this eclectic group of midcareer researchers, engineers, chemists and physicists full of pointers on how to find their way in a world that can be a lot lonelier than the loneliest laboratory: the wilderness of story arcs, plot points, pitching and the special circle of hell better known as development.

And no primer on Hollywood would be complete without at least three hours on "Agents & Managers."

Exactly how the national defense could be bolstered by setting a few more people loose in Los Angeles with screenplays to peddle may be a bit of a brainteaser. But officials at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research spell out a straightforward syllogism:

Fewer and fewer students are pursuing science and engineering. While immigrants are taking up the slack in many areas, defense laboratories and industries generally require American citizenship or permanent residency. So a crisis is looming, unless careers in science and engineering suddenly become hugely popular, said Robert J. Barker, an Air Force program manager who approved the grant. And what better way to get a lot of young people interested in science than by producing movies and television shows that depict scientists in flattering ways?

Teaching screenwriting to scientists was the brainstorm of Martin Gundersen, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California and sometime Hollywood technical adviser, whose biggest brush with stardom was bringing a little verisimilitude to Val Kilmer's lasers in the 1985 comedy "Real Genius."

More recently, he was asked to review screenplays by the Sloan Foundation, which awards prizes for scientific accuracy, and found most to be "pretty dismal," as he put it.

"My thought was, since scientists have to write so much, for technical journals and papers, why not consider them as a creative source?" Dr. Gundersen said.

He already had contacts at the American Film Institute, and he quickly persuaded Dr. Barker, who oversees several of his other grants, to endorse what began as a weekend seminar last summer and was expanded to five days this year. The Air Force is providing $100,000 annually for three years; the Army Research Office has added $50,000 this year.

Much of that money will pay for other like-minded efforts: Dr. Gundersen is also starting a workshop for high school students at the film institute, and he plans to get entertainment industry people to lead seminars at scientific conferences and to give seminars to up-and-coming screenwriters on how to reach out to scientists for help with accuracy.

For now, though, the hopes of the Pentagon for a science-friendly cinema seem to be riding on the shoulders of people like Bogdan Marcu, an engineer for Boeing's rocket propulsion division who is nursing an idea for a spy thriller, and Sam Mandegaran, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology who says he wants to become a director of science-friendly movies for young people because "adults are a lost cause."

Around a table at the institute's campus, they and their colleagues, chosen from some 50 applicants, listened this week as Syd Field, author of some of the most popular how-to books on screenwriting, steeped them in the ABC's of three-act structure.

They wrestled with how to reconcile the cinematic suspension of disbelief with the scientific method and with their basic purpose of bringing accuracy to the screen.

And they got feedback for their own script ideas. A disaster movie set at the Olympics, where athletes get a virus that makes them smarter? (Problem: the main character was the virus.) A biopic on the inventor of the Ferris wheel, who died a sad and lonely alcoholic? ("Do I have to like the character?" asked its author, Jeffrey Hoch. Hardly - think "Raging Bull," he was told by Alex Singer, a veteran television director.)

Mr. Hoch was full of searching questions. "When I'm writing for a scientist, I write for my peers," he said. "Who are we writing for? The viewer? The director? The money people?"

"Tell your story for you," Mr. Field urged him. "Then, go back and rewrite it."

Dr. Gundersen chimed in: "It's different from writing for a science journal. That has to be right; you'd better not make a mistake, because people will beat the hell out of you. In a movie, I wouldn't want to say it doesn't have to be right, but it's different."

Added Mr. Singer: "They will not forgive you for being bored. They'll forgive you for anything else."

Later, over meatloaf, the workshop participants batted around their favorite depictions of science and scientists (the television show "Numbers" and the films "Starman" and "Deep Impact," among others) and what they considered the most odious ("The Day After Tomorrow," hands down).

And then there was one they could not agree on: "Falling Down," the 1993 film starring Michael Douglas as a downsized defense-industry engineer who has a violent breakdown in Los Angeles. "Why'd they have to make him look like that?" said Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, a physics professor at the University of Nebraska, of Mr. Douglas's crew cut, black-rimmed glasses and pocket protector. "He's a good-looking guy. None of my friends look like that."

But Mr. Marcu, who works at a defense-industry plant, begged to differ. "I hate to say it, but people inside those defense plants look like that," he said. "You should see the people at my company."

Where this week's efforts may lead is, at the very least, uphill: out of an estimated 75,000 scripts floating around Hollywood, only 500 or so films are made a year, Mr. Field warned the scientists. But while Dr. Gundersen and Dr. Barker conceded that the odds were stacked against any of their protégés, they are clearly holding out hope.

"I really believe we will be able to point to something that will emerge, maybe 5 or 10 years from now, and say, Gee, that name of that screenwriter is familiar, with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering or something," Dr. Barker said.

Dr. Gundersen, meanwhile, offered Valerie Weiss, a participant in the 2004 workshop, as a potential success story. A film buff at Harvard while she was getting her Ph.D. in biophysics, Ms. Weiss switched careers to film four years ago and is now trying to sell a comedy built around a Bridget Jones-like biochemist who applies the scientific method to her hunt for a mate.

She said she hoped her background would give her film the kind of personal touch that Nia Vardalos brought to "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" as a Greek-American. "To write a film that is going to have impact like that, it needs to be from somebody that has direct experience," she said.

Ms. Weiss said Dr. Gundersen's notion that scientists could make good screenwriters stood the test of reason.

"They're inherently creative, and willing to take more risks than other people," she said. "They're searching for the unknown, they're compensated very minimally, they're going on blind faith that what they're searching for is going to pay off. And filmmaking is exactly the same way."