Saturday, February 17, 2007

Are You a Thrill Seeker?

You Are Adventurous... Sometimes

You like an adrenaline rush as much as the next person. You like your thrills in small doses.
You're generally pretty calm and level headed. But sometimes you have to go wild and have a crazy adventure.

Again, pretty accurate. I'm not the big-time thrill-seeker (I'll never jump out of an airplane willingly), but I can groove with a little adrenaline.

Wired Review: Terry Gilliam's Tideland

I'm generally down with anything Terry Gilliam does (well, ok, The Brothers Grimm wasn't so good), so I was looking forward to Tideland. But this review from Wired will probably keep me away.
Review: Terry Gilliam's Tideland


The newest Terry Gilliam movie is best described as nightmarish. With no particular point, the end of the film evokes relief and embarrassment, as if you have just finished witnessing Gilliam pass an enormous gallstone kidney stone. One feels the urge to let go his clammy hand, pat him gently and ask him if he feels better.

The film stars young Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill) as Jeliza-Rose, daughter of an aging, dysfunctional, but still affectionate smack addict, Noah. Jeff Bridges, reprising the Dude with harder drugs, plays Noah with an intense sympathy--the most engaging and intriguing member of the cast. Jeliza's unnamed (and ambiguously fat/pregnant) mother (Jennifer Tilly), spends the eight minutes prior to her heroin overdose alternately deprecating and cuddling Jeliza, and cramming handfuls of chocolate into her smeared, sad mouth. Then she dies in a grotesque splay, and it is all Jeliza can do to keep Noah from setting the horrible woman on fire.

The girl's life consists of playing nursemaid to her junkie parents and maintaining a shrill, running narration by her variously-personified disembodied doll heads. Ferland does all the voice acting for the dolls, which take on greater independence as the film goes on. Each of them possesses uncomfortably differentiated accents, and eventually Jeliza's mouth ceases to move at all when the dolls speak.

Post-overdose, Jeliza and Noah hop a Greyhound and head for the prairie, and Noah's family homestead. Here the beauty of the film is most apparent. Gilliam spends ample time on the yellow and grey expanse, fascinating the viewer with dry-rotted wood, silver sky, and the secrets of the undergrass.

Tideland Eventually Jeliza is left entirely alone and, muzzy and malnourished, the film begins in earnest. A bee-fearing, taxidermist witch (Dell, played by Janet McTeer) and her lobotomized brother (Dickens, Brendan Fletcher) enter stage left, making up the rest of the cast.

The most fascinating aspect of the film is the sickeningly believable attraction of Jeliza to Dickens, who becomes boyfriend and eventually husband in the personally-narrated fantasy world she maintains throughout the film. In Dickens, Jeliza finally finds an aspect of her life she can influence and possess. She takes advantage of the feebleminded young man in a familiar game of seduction, assertion and befuddlement that is instinctually exercised by pre-pubescent girls.

It's not quite make-believe, but treating it as such offers a certain amount of protection to the seductress. If things get too serious, she can always turn away and retort, "I was just kidding." Dickens, having been given a not-unpleasant crash course on this sort of thing by Jeliza's grandmother in the very same house, bashfully reprises his role as "a little sweetie". He maintains his own made-up continuum, the captain of a submarine and arch enemy of a mythical monster shark, and so implicitly accepts Jeliza's fantasies. Jeliza has found a perfect mate: a man old enough to accept and enjoy her feminine advances, but in all other ways, an eternal boy. And the audience squirms.

You cannot call Tideland "bad". There is much of the old genius here, but it is strangely muddled and sad, perhaps from years of disappointment (see "Lost in La Mancha"). I see it as the acid reflux from the hideous disappointment of the Brothers Grimm, a movie so completely useless that I cannot imagine Gilliam escaped unscathed. Disappointment is, perhaps, the driving theme behind Tideland, from Noah's unrealized dream to move to Jutland and become a Norse chieftan, to the almost-friendships of Jeliza-Rose with the resident nutjobs-on-the-prairie. It can be thought of as the inbred, mutant cousin Pan's Labyrinth, with both movies directly challenging the ability of tween girls to muffle themselves in fantasy.

But having gotten Tideland off his chest, I think we can anticipate Gilliam's triumphant return.

I'll wait for his next film (although I will probably rent the DVD of this).

Here's the trailer:

Def Poetry: Dan and Dasha

This is good:

Britney Spears Goes Bald [Updated and Corrected]

I don't generally give a rat's arse about what Britney Spears does (as near as I can tell, she's well on her way to rivaling the train wreck that was Anna Nicole), but this newest event is the pop culture equivalent of the Pope going bar hopping.

Britney cut off her hair (a day after checking in and then out of rehab) and got a tattoo of a small cross on her lower hip, as well as a set of lips on her wrist.

I think The Zero Boss pretty much nailed his review of the situation. Personally, I'm hoping she's somehow found some inner reserve of not-freaking-crazy, but I think she's probably on her way into the gutter. Next stop, shooting junk in an alley.

Here's some video:

After hairdressers refused to shave her head, Britney grabbed a pair of clippers and sheared off her locks herself.

Salon owner Esther Tognozzi said: "I tried to talk her out of it, but she said, 'No, I absolutely want it shaved off now.'

"Afterwards she looked in the mirror and said with tears in her eyes, 'Oh, my God, I shaved it all off. My mom is going to be so upset with me.'

"I asked her if the buzz cut was a symbol of a new beginning and she said, 'Yeah, something like that.' "

An hour later Britney went to the Body and Soul Tattoo parlour and had pink lips etched onto her wrist and a black, pink and white cross on her lower hip.

One onlooker revealed: "She said she was tired of having things plugged into her. She seemed distraught and disturbed, like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown."

Later that night, troubled Britney was seen at Beverly Hills' Cedars Sinai Medical Center wearing a dark wig.

She went into a private room and was seen by medical staff before leaving an hour later.
Apparently, you can bid for some of Britney's hair on E-Bay.

Programming Note

As you no doubt noticed (assuming you are a regular reader), there are no new posts this morning. I hope to post some things later today.

For now, all I have to say is . . . .

Life is good.

Tags: ,

Friday, February 16, 2007

God, Inc - Episode 6

This is the final episode.

Episodes 1-3
Episode 4
Episode 5

Episode 6. A comedy about life in the corporate offices of God. What if all the problems on earth were not caused by a spiteful deity, or karma, or fate, but just office politics and the Peter Principle?

Episode 6 of 6: "Deus Ex Machina" Austin has a meeting with Piper.

Austin - Stephen Falk
Piper - Elizabeth Pan
Sarah - Rachel Oliva
Security Guard - Chuck Doble
Greg - Francis Stokes
Barbara - Julia Silverman
Owen - Jeff Sass
Gavin - Dayton Mesher
Tricia - Giselle Jones
Keaton - Chet Nelson
Lottie - Laura Wilder
Voiceover - Thomas Hargis

White Stripes -- Dead Leaves &The Dirty Ground

One of my favorite White Stripes songs . . . .

Via: VideoSift

Americans Like Bill More Than Hillary

According to Gallup:

PRINCETON, NJ -- More than 6 in 10 Americans say they have a favorable opinion of former President Bill Clinton, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Clinton's favorable rating is up slightly from last summer, and is at its highest level since February 1998. His favorable rating reached historical lows in 2001 as Clinton sparked many controversies as he left office. But since that time, Clinton's favorable rating has gradually improved and is now close to his historical high, a 66% rating just prior to his inauguration in 1993. A comparison of Bill Clinton's favorable ratings and Hillary Clinton's favorable ratings show that Americans rated the Clintons similarly following their departure from the White House, but in recent years, the former president has been viewed more favorably than his wife.

Americans' Opinion of Bill Clinton

The Feb. 9-11, 2007 poll finds that 63% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the former president, while 35% have an unfavorable opinion of him. Clinton's favorability is somewhat more positive now than in June 2006, when 59% had a favorable opinion and 37% had an unfavorable opinion of him. These ratings are also the highest Gallup has measured since February 1998, shortly after Clinton's relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky was first reported in the media.

* * * * *

Bill Clinton vs. Hillary Clinton

Although the former president's role in his wife's campaign for president is not fully clear at this point, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton referred to her husband as her "full-time political counselor" in a speech in New Hampshire this weekend. In the latest poll, Hillary Clinton's favorable ratings are slightly lower than her husband's, at 58%. Americans' opinion of Hillary Clinton have improved; when last measured in November 2006, 53% of Americans viewed her favorably.

During the first two years of the Clinton administration, the Clintons' favorable ratings closely mirrored each other on the basis of yearly averages. Americans viewed Hillary Clinton more negatively than Bill Clinton in 1995 and 1996, most likely due to Whitewater and the problems with healthcare reform. The public then viewed Hillary Clinton more favorably than Bill Clinton after the Lewinsky scandal and impeachment proceedings in 1999. Then, from 2000 through 2004, Americans again rated the Clintons similarly, but since that time, Americans have grown more favorable toward Bill Clinton than they have toward Hillary Clinton. The current situation may reflect the fact that Hillary Clinton is still highly involved in partisan politics while her husband is involved in the less controversial pursuits typical of an ex-president.

Read the whole analysis of the poll here.

Bill just seems to get more popular each year since leaving the White House. That trend will likely continue as he uses his pull to generate large scale humanitarian projects.

The Days After Valentine's Day

I liked this post from The Art of Intimacy:
Although Valentine's Day has come and gone and won't be back for another year, it may be a nice idea to remind ourselves that just because the other 364 days of the years aren't specifically designed for a romance, it certainly does not mean we can't keep our relationships nurtured and nourished.

It may be unrealistic to have every day of the year as romantic as Valentine's day and we certainly don't need to go overboard by trying to make it so, but we also don't want to forget that one day of the year is not enough romance to keep a relationship alive and vibrant.

Keep in mind the beauty and intimacy that comes from attending to your relationship. Notice how the relationship has a sense of vibrancy and life as we take the time to reflect on the love we hold for our partner.

This doesn't mean we need to constantly purchase gifts, or go out to a special restaurant each week. It does mean we need to focus on the relationship and invest our time and energy to keep it healthy.

While, the intensity of romance and intimacy wanes or grows, keep in mind the strength and depth that come when focus and attention are given to your intimate relationship.

Love grows when we provide it with the energy and light it requires.
A healthy relationship exists because the people involved put their intention toward making it so. It becomes its own entity with with its own energy and flow. Each partner contributes to that energy, but the relationship is more than the sum of each person's intention.

Does that make sense? Probably not. . . . Still, my sense is that our relationships take on a life of their own when we nurture them and support them. In return, the energy of the relationship can nurture and support us.

Especially in the beginning, we find exactly what we need in the other person -- as though the Kosmos selected this person just for us. Our needs and desires get met and we have an opportunity to heal old wounds.

As the relationship matures, we can still have this dynamic -- though never quite so intensely again -- and we can still heal old shadow wounds. Which is the hard part of relationship -- our partners will eventually push our buttons and find our soft spots. At this point, we either face our issues and heal them or the relationship suffers.

One great way to deal with this element in relationship is to not lose sight of the romance. I think this is why I liked the post above. She doesn't look so much at the hard stuff, but she reminds us to stay focused on the good stuff throughout the year, rather than only on one silly day. It's up to us to keep the relationship healthy and vital, the nourish with our intention.

Appearances Can Deceive

This is a cool commercial . . . .

Via: VideoSift

Speedlinking 2/16/07

Quote of the day:

"Ours is the age that is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to."
~ H. Mumford Jones

Image of the day

~ I Wonder... -- By John Berardi at T-Nation: "During some Spike-induced clarity of thought, Berardi expounds on overeating, overcoming average genetics, success, Dave Tate, and a whole bunch of other stuff. You know what? This guy has wisdom! Screw you Tony Robbins! Screw you Deepak! Who needs ya'?"
~ BONUS ARTICLE: Unilateral Work for Building Muscle -- By Christian Thibaudeau at T-Nation: "You probably never thought about it, but most people can't produce as much force using two bilateral limbs to perform an exercise as they can if they perform the exercise with each limb individually and then add together the force of each side. It's called the bilateral deficit and you should take advantage of it to pack on some muscle."
~ Exercise And Fluid Replacement Position Stand Now Available - American College Of Sports Medicine Releases New, Revised Hydration Recommendations -- "The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) today released an updated Position Stand, Exercise and Fluid Replacement, placing emphasis on customized or individualized hydration regimens and offering details on hydration before, during, and after exercise."
~ Dieting May Increase Your Cravings for Chocolate -- "Women who diet may crave chocolate and other "forbidden foods" more than women who didn't diet, according to a study published in the March issue of Appetite."
~ When pregnant mom eats fish, kids do better: study -- "Children of mothers who ate more fish and other seafood while pregnant are smarter and have better developmental skills than kids of women who ate less or none, researchers said on Thursday in findings they called surprising." It's all about the omega-3 fats.
~ Human brain can make new cells, study finds -- "New evidence shows that the human brain can manufacture fresh brain cells, researchers said on Thursday in a study that may lead to better ways to treat brain damage and disease."
~ Chemical Pathway Discovered That Causes Mice To Overeat And Gain Weight -- "The Scripps Research team discovered that mice genetically altered to lack a molecule known as the EP3 receptor tend to be more active during their normal sleep cycle and to eat more. In the study, this led to weight increases of up to 30 percent relative to mice with the receptors."
~ Women's Health: A Better Breast-Cancer Treatment? -- "Taking tamoxifen for five years after breast-cancer surgery nearly halves the risk of a recurrence in women whose cancer's growth is fueled by estrogen. But a newer class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors has been gaining favor, with many studies suggesting that these medications can boost survival even more when used after tamoxifen therapy or even in place of the older drug."

~ Religious faith may help stroke victims: study -- "People of faith have long contended that the power of prayer can help heal the sick. Now a study conducted in Rome suggests that religious faith may help people recover from a stroke." It's more about the stress reduction associated with spiritual beliefs.
~ Don't Allow Insecurities to Harm Your Immune System -- "It's encouraging to see conventional medicine may be finally starting to get a real clue about the vital link between emotions and a patient's physical health, especially with the raft of studies that have emerged lately. This most recent research links a feeling of insecurity among women in close relationships to signs of a weaker immune system."
~ All about the Big Ohhhh -- "Our last column about women’s sexual satisfaction apparently, umm, hit a nerve. We were flooded with questions about orgasms. Here is a small sampling that we hope will fill in some details."
~ Dopamine for Dummies [Developing Intelligence] -- "Dopamine is probably the most studied neurotransmitter, and yet the neuroscience literature contains a huge variety of perspectives on its functional role. This post summarizes a systems-level perspective on the function of dopamine that has motivated several successful drug studies and informed the construction of artificial neural network models."
~ How To Erase The Effects Of Stress -- "Exercises that elicit the relaxation response can help your body erase the cumulative effects of stress, according to "Stress Management: Techniques for Preventing and Easing Stress," a new report from Harvard Medical School."
~ Faces, faces everywhere -- "The New York Times has a brief article on why we have a tendency to see faces in chaotic or almost random visual scenes."
~ Do men and women react differently to stress? -- "Valentine's Day brought no truce in the age-old battle between the sexes, as Steven Landsburg's controversial article claiming that women perform worse than men under pressure provoked something close to the excoriation wrought upon Larry Summers after ill-received remarks about the aptitude of women in the sciences."

~ Breastfed Babies Become Upwardly Mobile Adults -- "UK researchers have found that breastfeeding children confers greater upward social mobility in adulthood than bottle feeding. And the link was still significant when other childhood factors normally used to predict social mobility were taken into account.The 60 year follow up study is published in the online edition of the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood."
~ Giuliani Shifts Abortion Speech Gently to Right -- "Mr. Giuliani has highlighted a different element of his thinking on the abortion debate. He has talked about how he would appoint “strict constructionist” judges to the Supreme Court — what abortion rights advocates say is code among conservatives for those who seek to overturn or limit Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court ruling declaring a constitutional right to abortion." Weasel.
~ Congress revives push for FDA tobacco authority -- "A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers renewed on Thursday an effort to authorize the government to regulate cigarettes as a drug, winning praise from anti-smoking forces and the maker of Marlboro cigarettes."
~ Democratic Salvation and the 'Religious' Left [Mike the Mad Biologist] -- "There's an interesting interview with Mara Vanderslice about her attempts to integrate 'religious' people (i.e., Christian--funny how Jews and Muslims, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic aren't part of the 'religious' left according to Vanderslice) into the Democratic party."
~ George Will: Breaking down candidates' decisions -- "Two Democratic presidential candidates with national campaign experience are stumbling. A Republican candidate who has run only municipal campaigns is confounding expectations, calling into question some assumptions about Republican voters."
~ Bush Fails to Reassure -- "President Bush did nothing at yesterday's news conference to reassure those who think his administration may once again be using faulty intelligence to build a case for war."
~ Introducing "The Gavel" -- "Hey, Nancy Pelosi has a new blog, and it's legit! It's called "The Gavel," and it's a boon to C-SPAN junkies who can't watch TV during work hours. There's all sorts of neat video up now from House floor debate and Congressional hearings. It's wonky but cool. Also, be warned that it's kind of slow loading, either because there is so much video or because a ton of people are checking it out."
~ Vice-president Cheney under scrutiny -- "A glimpse into the vice-president's secret world."
~ Has Jim Carrey Flipped Out? -- "The film funnyman is trying to rebound from a career slump with a new thriller - and a new spiritual path. Joel Stein peeks into the eternal weirdness of Jim Carrey's mind." I actually Carrey when he's not "on" -- there's something comforting about a depressed comedian.
~ Stone "Tools" Found; May Be Among America's Oldest -- "About 50 objects found at a Minnesota construction site could be at least 13,000 years old, archaeologists said, potentially pushing back human presence in the region by millennia."
~ From The Zero Boss (who else?) -- Shave Everywhere: A Man’s Guide to Taking Your Razor South of the Border.

~ Southern states tops for heart disease -- "West Virginia and Kentucky — states known for high levels of obesity, diabetes and smoking — have the highest proportion of people with heart disease in the nation, U.S. health officials said Thursday."
~ USDA Breaks Environmental Laws By Approving GM Crop -- "In a refreshing turn away from the unethical biopharming of America, a U.S. District Court judge in California ruled the U.S. Department of Agriculture violated environmental laws when the agency approved a genetically modified (GM) kind of alfalfa developed by Monsanto without calling for an environmental impact statement."
~ Mama cat adopts Rottweiler puppy -- "Who says cats and dogs don’t get along? Workers at the Meriden Humane Society are marveling at a short-haired mother cat that has adopted a 6-day-old Rottweiler puppy that was rejected by its mother."
~ Socioeconomics' role in heart disease -- "A recent study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests that there is a risk factor that you may not have taken into account: Living in a low-income neighborhood."
~ America's diabetes epidemic -- "Fighting diabetes is as much a social problem as a scientific one."
~ Antarctic Temperatures Disagree with Climate Model Predictions -- "A new report on climate over the world`s southernmost continent shows that temperatures during the late 20th century did not climb as had been predicted by many global climate models."
~ DNA might be used to store various data -- "Japanese scientists say it might be possible to use DNA to store text, images, music and other digital data for thousands of years inside living organisms." Okay, that's just freaky.
~ Theory aims to describe fundamental properties of materials -- "Gold is shiny, diamonds are transparent, and iron is magnetic. Why is that? The answer lies with a material `s electronic structure, which determines its electrical, optical, and magnetic properties."
~ Spaceship finds hard evidence of water on Mars -- "High-resolution camera finds evidence water once ran under planet's surface."

~ Camille's back! -- Hat tip to Steve at Once a Day -- Paglia is back at Salon with her monthly column. Woo Hoo!
~ Andrew Cohen is back again: Making Enlightenment Meaningful.
~ From Mystery of Existence: Perceptual center as anchor for a sense of a separate self and Spirit and soul allowing a shift from tragedy to comedy.
~ From ~C4Chaos: Oprah Goes Paranormal.
~ From Jean at The Woodshed: Patti Smith to Artists: Get a Job!
~ From Julian at Zaadz: The Secret: L.A. Times VS Oprah.
~ From Paul Salamone: The Stolen Milliseconds of Life Online -- Dude, the story of my life.
~ Buddhist Geeks ask Let’s Talk: What’s Your Practice?
~ Sentient Development offers Buddha Break 2007.02.15, a collection of Buddhist links.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Amanda Marcotte: Why I had to quit the John Edwards campaign

From Salon:

My main concern about the relationship between my personal blog and the campaign blog was that I wouldn't have enough time to keep my personal blog updated as frequently as the readers had come to expect, a problem I solved by inviting other bloggers to join. I thought some about content concerns, but my opinion had always been that bloggers who work for campaigns should feel free to have personal blogs, so long as they disclosed their employment to their personal blog readers and refrained from using their personal blogs to bash other candidates.

"Reasonable people," I thought, "can tell the difference between a personal blog post and those I'll write for the campaign." What I naively failed to understand was that there is no relationship between what reasonable people think and what will be used in a partisan bout of mud-slinging.

What I also failed to understand was how much McEwan and I would stick out. I was aware that I didn't exactly fit the image people have of bloggers who join campaigns -- the stereotype being 30-something nerdy young white men who wear khakis and obsess over crafting their Act Blue lists. I wasn't aware that not fitting the image would attract so much negative attention. In fact, I mostly saw this all as a baby step in the direction of diversity, since McEwan and I differed from the stereotype mostly by being female and by being outspoken feminists.

I announced that I was taking the job on Jan. 30, and the same week, I noticed a small flare-up of oddly aggressive and misogynistic comments in my moderation queue over a short, irritated post I wrote about the coverage of the Duke lacrosse rape case on CNN. I assumed that some anti-feminist blogger had linked me and so, in frustration, I went and rewrote my by-then week-old post to mock the commenters by spelling out my views in childish, easy-to-understand language. This may have been the first indication that the right-wing noise machine had noticed me and was looking for something with which to hurt me and my new employers.

Read the whole post.

I have always liked Pandagon, and I was pleased to see Amanda make it into the "big leagues." I'm sorry that she was forced to resign due to the right wing crazies.

Her post at Salon does a good job of explaining what she has had to face as a result of being a typical, though talented, blogger. What we write, if we ever get elevated to a position of power, can come back to bite us in the ass. On the net, every word is immortal.

Should we change anything about what we do? Only if we plan to sell out. Amanda and Melissa McEwan (of Shakespeare's Sister) both thought they could separate their personal blogs from their professional work for Edwards. Turns out, not surprisingly, that the wingnuts would never allow that distinction. As Amanda writes:

None of this was especially surprising. The right-wing noise machine's favorite trick, possibly its only trick, is to select a target and start making a fuss, hoping that by creating the appearance of smoke, just enough people will be fooled into thinking there's a fire. Unfortunately, it works. It was the method used to railroad Bill Clinton (Whitewater, Vince Foster, state troopers) and the method that ushered the nation into war with Iraq (WMDs and so on). This time they were only attacking a lowly rookie staffer on a Democratic campaign, but the M.O. was the same.

Why does the left allow the right to do this? It's nothing new, yet they are continually successful in taking this approach. When Bill Donohue, the head of the Catholic League, an organization that claims to exist to fight anti-Catholic bigotry, got into the mix, that was the beginning of the end for Amanda and Melissa.

Too bad.

The left is much better at the netroots approach than is the right. And to have two young, intelligent feminists blogging for Edwards would have been a great step forward.

Our loss.

And Edward's loss. His lame defense of his hires was pathetic at best -- and, at worst, it is sure to alienate many on the left in the blogosphere.

What Color Is Your Brain?

Your Brain is Orange

Of all the brain types, yours is the quickest.
You are usually thinking a mile a minute, and you could be thinking about anything at all.
Your thoughts are often scattered and random - but they're also a lot of fun!

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about esoteric subjects, the meaning of life, and pop culture.

Hmmm. . . that's kind of accurate.

Peeling Away the Masks

Last week, I started wearing my earrings again for the first time in nearly three years. I had still worn them occasionally during that time, but I had not worn them on a daily basis, and especially not at the gym. When I was first hired, the then-manager directed my boss to ask me to remove them, which I did. The current manager doesn't care at all as long as they aren't offensive or gaudy.

Today a gym member that I talk to frequently stopped me and asked if they were something new. He thought that it was a whole different image that didn't fit with what he had thought about who I am. He thought, and I suspect many others think this as well, that I was as "conservative as they come," to use his phrase. I assured him that there is no truth in that assumption.

But as I have since been thinking about it, that is exactly the image I had been portraying at the gym. In order to fit into what I assume the dominant culture to be among members (largely conservative, especially those who can afford to buy training), I have hidden myself behind a mask that bears no resemblance to who I really am.

A couple of months ago, I made a decision that I wanted to reclaim parts of myself that I had buried, for a number of reasons, and hidden behind false masks. I want to stop wearing those masks -- many of which I adopted as a reflex to the more rigid culture of Tucson (as opposed to Seattle, where I had lived for more than nine years prior) when I moved down here.

Some of them were also adopted as part of my last relationship -- not because she asked me to or put any pressure on me to do so, but unconsciously -- to make her feel more comfortable with our differences. It seemed to be an appropriate choice for that relationship, but it wasn't who I am. And please understand that it was completely my doing and that I don't blame her at all.

Over the last ten or more years, I gave up large parts of who I am to accommodate other people. How foolish is that? How could I ever expect to be happy if I am not true to who I am?

Well, I wasn't happy.

A close friend has been making profound changes in her life -- some of them very painful -- in an effort to be happy. She has inspired me to do the same, although none of my changes are as challenging as what she is dealing with.

We all deserve to be happy. But when we force ourselves into situations that do not fit who we are, that happiness can seem terribly elusive. Wearing false masks that become unexamined self-projections is certainly not a way to be happy.

So, I am wearing my earrings again. It might cost me some business, but I suspect it might get me some clients who feared I was some ultra-conservative hardass. I am willing to take that risk.

I'm making changes in other areas as well, including my physique. My goal is to be as fit as I have ever been in my life by the time I turn 40 in a couple of months -- and I am well on my way. I've dropped several percentage points of bodyfat and a few pounds overall. I had avoided being too fit in the past for a variety of reasons, none of them good.

I could go on, but I would only bore you with the minutiae of my life.

All of this is an effort to be authentically me -- as much as that is possible at this moment. I am at the beginning of a new adventure in my life, and I want to show up and be present for the journey -- wherever it takes me. What better way to embrace the journey than to peel away the masks and be as vulnerable as possible?

Faux News to Launch Their Answer to The Daily Show

Faux News wants to jump on the bandwagon of political humor shows -- with a distinctly wingnut angle, of course. Why not? If they can do it right, it could be funny. Somehow, I doubt they can pull it off, though.

Here is one view, from Salon:

Fox's answer to "The Daily Show"

"The 1/2 Hour News Hour" will apparently be Fox News Channel's long-awaited attempt to ape the success of "The Daily Show." But did they hire monkeys to write it?

Joel Surnow, "24" producer and Rush Limbaugh pal, is producing the show, which stars Kurt Long and Jenn Robertson and will go for a test spin the next two Sundays at 10 p.m. It's essentially a righty version of SNL's "Weekend Update." But there seem to be some obvious problems with that. First, "Weekend Update's" targets don't ever seem terribly agenda-driven: When they work (and admittedly, that's not that often ) it's because of the universality of the joke. "Weekend Update's" mildly amusing Barack Obama sketch worked because it snatched a controversy (one shaken by Salon's own Debra Dickerson) and poked at it in a hilarious way (much the way that Stephen Colbert had). Played out to its ludicrous extreme, all sides can get a yuk out of it, without any one side feeling assaulted. Success! But making fun of Obama for using drugs -- when he's admitted in a book and on "60 Minutes" to using coke as a kid -- is so cringingly ideological, you can practically hear Karl Rove slapping his knee in the background.

Speaking of which, are they actually going to use a live studio audience, or stick with these canned hams? Because there's nothing like a fraudience to make your whole knock-off show, which happens to spoof another show, really seem like ... well, you know. A fraud.

And here is a clip of the proposed show that focuses on Barack Obama:

Via: VideoSift

Mostly what I can see happening is the left getting its panties in a bunch because someone is making fun of it. They'll complain that there is already too much misinformation and satire coming from the right (Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, Coulter).

Oh, but wait, those guys (and gal) don't know they are doing satire . . . or do they . . . .

Tennessee Wants to Issue Death Certificates for Aborted Fetuses

In a move that is nothing more than an effort to shame women into not terminating unwanted pregnancies, Tennessee is proposing a law to require death certificates for aborted fetuses.
Legislation introduced in Tennessee would require death certificates for aborted fetuses, which likely would create public records identifying women who have abortions.

Rep. Stacey Campfield, a Republican, said his bill would provide a way to track how many abortions are performed. He predicted it would pass in the Republican-controlled Senate but would have a hard time making it through the Democratic House.

"All these people who say they are pro-life _ at least we would see how many lives are being ended out there by abortions," said Campfield.

The number of abortions reported to the state Office of Vital Records is already publicly available. The office collects records _ but not death certificates _ on abortions and the deaths of fetuses after 22 weeks gestation or weighing about 1 pound.

The identities of the women who have abortions are not included in those records, but death certificates include identifying information such as Social Security numbers.

Campfield's bill, introduced Monday, would give abortion providers 10 days following an "induced termination of a pregnancy" to file a death certificate.

House Judiciary Chairman Rob Briley, a Democrat, called Campfield's proposal "the most preposterous bill I've seen" in an eight-year legislative career.

"It is totally inconsistent with everything the law contemplates as it relates to anything close to that subject," he said.

Read the rest here.

This clearly violates the undue burden test of Roe v. Wade. What a load of horseshit.

Kansas Rejoins the Modern World

From the New York Times:

Kansas: Anti-Evolution Guidelines Are Repealed

The State Board of Education repealed science guidelines questioning evolution, putting into effect new ones that reflect mainstream scientific views. The move was a political defeat for advocates of “intelligent design” who had helped write the standards being repealed. The intelligent design concept holds that life is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power. The board removed language suggesting that basic evolutionary concepts were controversial and being challenged by new research. It also approved a new definition of science, limiting it to the search for natural explanations of what is observed in the universe. The state has had five sets of science standards in eight years, each affected by the seesawing fortunes of socially conservative Republicans and a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans.

It's about freaking time. Forcing the kids in that state to learn creationism and intelligent design as actual science should be considered a form of child abuse.

Please understand that I am not saying there is no higher intelligence (agnostic here), but what I am saying -- and what should be obvious to everyone born after the Enlightenment -- is that science and metaphysics belong in separate quadrants of human inquiry for a reason. It should remain that way.

Which is not to say that the two fields can never interact or compare notes. But when science tries to hold dominion over metaphysics we get flatland (no vertical orientation in spirit). When metaphysics tries to hold dominion over science we get superstition -- and the inquisition, the burning of witches, and all kinds of other atrocities.

Images of Space

Found these at Clipmarks, but you can see the whole collection here. These are posters created by Jean-Charles Cuillandre and available for sale. There are eight posters in all.

Speedlinking 2/15/07

Quote of the day:

"I am not young enough to know everything."
~ Oscar Wilde

Image of the day:


~ Fitness Has Fallen Since The Days Of Ancient Greece -- "We may not be as fit as the people of ancient Athens, despite all that modern diet and training can provide, according to research by University of Leeds (UK) exercise physiologist, Dr Harry Rossiter."
~ Can Humans Develop Immunity to Bird Flu? -- "A Leading Researcher Reverses Course and Now Says It's Possible."
~ Calcium, vitamin D boost reduces fractures -- "Very active young women who took higher-than-recommended doses of calcium and vitamin D supplements for eight weeks had fewer stress fractures than women who were given dummy pills, a study of Naval recruits showed."
~ AIDS virus weakness detected -- "Scientists have captured an image of the AIDS virus in a biological handshake with the immune cells it attacks, and said on Wednesday they hope this can help lead to a better vaccine against the incurable disease."
~ Coffee doesn't appear to raise heart attack risk -- "Drinking coffee does not appear to increase the risk of heart attack, according to a study of older Swedish women, and it may even be protective." All hail the sacred bean.
~ Less-intense workouts may be less effective -- "Low-intensity endurance exercise is not as effective as moderate intensity endurance exercise for promoting fitness, German researchers found in a controlled study." If you can talk or read while doing cardio, you're mostly wasting your time.
~ Better Natural Options for Breast Implants -- "Considering the many concerns surrounding the end of virtually any restrictions on silicone-gel breast implants Japanese scientists may have uncovered a safer option using stem cells."

~ Study: Fish oil unlikely to ease depression -- "Despite some evidence linking depression with low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, there is currently no convincing evidence that the acids alone can relieve depression, according to a report published this week." Seems that science sometimes needs a burning bush and the word of God to believe something is true.
~ Take out the trash? Why husbands don't listen -- "When a man fails to help out around the house, his poor performance might be related to a subconscious tendency to resist doing anything his wife wants, a new study suggests." Dumbasses.
~ A transhumanist dictionary -- "George Dvorsky has published a guide to the terms and buzzwords of transhumanism - an optimistic movement that seeks to apply current and future scientific discoveries to extending human experience and abilities."
~ Adult Relationship Problems May Stem from Childhood Insecurities -- Ya think?
~ Genius is . . . -- "I ran into some semantic trouble over dim-sum lunch the other day with two friends, Andy and Jim. They had a lot to say about the issues raised on this blog, but we kept getting stuck on terminology, starting with the word 'genius.'"
~ Selection of Antidepressants, Pt. 3 [The Corpus Callosum] -- "It occurs to me that in order to go any farther explaining how to choose an antidepressant, I should take a moment to explain the concept of an adequate trial."
~ Transform Your Partner Into the Perfect Mate -- "Five winning strategies to save your relationship." Yeah, if you have "fix" your partner, you're screwed.
~ How to Seduce a Lover -- "A practical guide to body language and seduction."
~ Taking a Deeper Look at Love -- "[T]his year a number of publications and blogs are taking a serious look at the psychological and physiological questions behind the nebulous concept of love."
~ Mysteries of childhood cognition studied -- "U.S. scientists are trying to determine how children develop cognitive skills and how memory affects their judgments."

~ Report: Teens Abusing Prescription Drugs -- "Junior's been helping himself to Mother's little helper. That's the conclusion of a report released Wednesday by White House drug czar John Walters that found while U.S. teenagers' use of marijuana is declining, their abuse of prescription drugs is holding steady or in some cases increasing...."
~ Why you love sis, but not in a weird way -- "Researchers who wanted to find out why it is not only taboo to kiss your sister, but also disgusting, said Wednesday they have discovered why in a discovery that challenges some basic tenets of Freudian theory."
~ New York rolls out nation's first city-branded condom -- "New York authorities unveiled the country's first city-themed condom to mark Valentine's Day and National Condom Day, in a bid to reduce sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies."
~ Cardiac arrest -- "Quick links from this year's Valentine's psychology stories."
~ Al Franken to Run for US Senate -- And see this, too: Senator Franken? Or this: "Hi, I'm Al Franken, And I'm Running For The United States Senate"
~ Obama: better than civil rights! -- "Is Barack Obama the Good Shepherd? To answer this question, Slate has been gathering gratuitously adoring biographical details from newspaper, television, and magazine profiles of the U.S. senator from Illinois, best-selling author, Harvard Law Review president, Men's Vogue cover model, Grammy winner, possible telepathic communicator with space aliens from distant galaxies, and declared presidential candidate."
~ Bush's Mixed Messages on Iran -- "Bush seems to be intentionally sending mixed messages on Iran."
~ The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, an intellectual history -- "In its 41 years on newsstands, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has been hailed as the arbiter of supermodel succession (Tiegs to Porizkova, Macpherson to Ireland) and as a commercial juggernaut ($35 million in ad sales this year). But it has yet to be celebrated as a magazine with the kind of sophisticated intellectual framework of, say, the Partisan Review. We plan on advancing that argument, just as soon as we finish ogling Carolyn Murphy."

~ Yale Biologists 'trick' Viruses Into Extinction -- "While human changes to the environment cause conservation biologists to worry about species extinction, Yale biologists are reversing the logic by trying to trap viruses in habitats that force their extinction, according to a report in Ecology Letters."
~ LSU professor resolves Einstein's twin paradox -- "Subhash Kak, Delaune Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at LSU, recently resolved the twin paradox, known as one of the most enduring puzzles of modern-day physics."
~ D-Wave Demonstrated World's First Commercial Quantum Computer -- "The world's first commercially viable quantum computer was demonstrated yesterday in Silicon Valley by D-Wave Systems, Inc., a privately-held Canadian firm."
~ Scientists Dubious of Quantum Claims -- "Quantum computing is such an elusive goal that even the company claiming to have the "world's first commercial quantum computer" acknowledged it isn't entirely sure the machine is performing true quantum calculations."
~ Study: Burying Greenhouse Gas Could Work -- "Storing carbon dioxide underground to reduce the amount of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere may be a safer method than previously thought." Uh-huh, sure.
~ Monster Glowing Squid Caught on Camera -- "Mysterious deep-sea giants that use their bioluminescent arms to dazzle and catch prey have been filmed for the first time ever in the wild. With videos."
Better designed roadway intersections can boost older drivers` performance -- "Changes in roadway intersection design can keep older drivers safer and on the road longer, report University of Florida researchers in the current issue of Traffic Injury Prevention."
~ Scientists Elucidate the Origin of the Darkest Galaxies in the Universe -- "Ghostly galaxies composed almost entirely of dark matter speckle the universe. Unlike normal galaxies, these extreme systems contain very few stars and are almost devoid of gas. Most of the luminous matter, so common in most galaxies, has been stripped away, leaving behind a dark matter shadow."

~ I Was a Zen Drop-out -- "When a teacher of Buddhism ditches her practice for motherhood, the real enlightenment begins."
~ Biblical Sociology -- "Been reading a great deal of Norman Gottwald for a class I have on the Hebrew Bible. Gottwald brought about a massive change in the way the "Old Testament" is read--from arguments about whether or not the stories in the Bible (like Exodus, Genesis) "really happened" to a social-scientific reading of the texts."
~ From Buddhist Geeks: The Stages of Insight: Is Progress Bad?
~ From the Ririan Project: 10 Timeless Lessons From Dalai Lama.
~ From ISC: Integral Zen / Integral Bodywork Seminars!
~ What's Holding Us Back? -- "I have argued that the modern world is in many ways a prison, and we are tugged along within its walls for most of our lives by a tension between three forces."