Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Ocean is Scary

If, like me, you love things that are awesome and terrifying, go here immediately and watch the video of the Magnapinna squid. The chilling stare of the creature and wildly thrashing camera help with the fear! Yay!

Bush, Redux

Speaking of, I forgot to link this amazing collection of photos of President Broseph from Shakesville. It features patriotism-inspiring images of The World's Most Powerful Fratboy, such as this gem:

You know, in case you didn't have enough Fury Fuel already!


I'm really glad this is what our President has been doing with his time.

No, seriously. I wish he had spent more time over the past eight years making iMovie videos about his adorable pets and less time, you know, breaking the country.
(From Scanner)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Staring Back at Me

I had to go into school at 10:30 this morning to turn in my art history take home final and I don't have my next final until 1 so I came to Barnes & Noble to have a coffee and study for a while. But then I noticed this and I could not un-notice it, so here I am, not studying and complaining about inequality.

You know those big murals they have in the Barnes & Noble cafes? The ones with all the authors sitting around having coffee together like they were sociable people? Yeah, I was looking at that and first I thought "Hm, why did they make Hemingway look so handsome? Isn't his head really fat and square shaped?" and then I noticed something else: There are fourteen authors on the wall - Hemingway, Orwell, Nabokov, Joyce, Singer, Kafka, Neruda, Hughes, Tagore, Hurston, Woolf, Chandler, Lawrence, and Sandburg.

While I appreciate the inclusion of non-white and non-American/European people (Neruda, Hughes, Tagore), could we REALLY not think of more than TWO influential women writers? Really? I mean, we could even have non-white, non-American/European women! Just off the top of my head, Murasaki Shikibu or Laura Esquivel? Doris Lessing is British but she just won a Nobel Prize. Surely that makes her worthy of a B&N mural likeness? (Ok, I'm sure this mural was done before she won the Nobel Prize. Whatever).

I guess since none of them wrote giant tomes of masturbatory whining and unintelligible stream-of-stupid-ass-consciousness (I'm looking at you, Joyce and Kafka), they probably don't qualify as The Greatest Writers Ever. At least they didn't put Proust up there........effing Proust.....

I'm going to commit a grievous act of vandalism and paint over five of these dudes with awesome women writers (50/50's fair enough). Any suggestions on who to put up?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Please. Just. Stop

I'm really can't come up with two people that I think are bigger raging dickheads than Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove.

Similarly look, and I don’t want to diminish the challenges we face, particularly when it comes to unemployment.

Um...yes, you do. It's kind of obvious that you really really do.

But the unemployment rate today was at certain times during Clinton and in most of Carter['s] time in office higher. And, yet, we don’t see the similar scare tactics and the similar phrases and words out of the national media about these Democrats as we hear about the current situation.

THIS IS NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE, YOU PUTRESCENT BAG OF FETID DOG FARTS! No one is saying that Obama is going to come into office and IMMEDIATELY everything is going to be fixed (except for you). In fact, it's pretty much the exact opposite of what everyone is saying. But when you start saying shit like "So these are not going to have an immediate impact. And let’s see how tough they treat him on this and how much they hold him up to scrutiny," then it makes people think that Very Important People in the Media think that it SHOULD be immediate (although how you ever got to be a Very Important Person, I will never understand). But that is a completely irrational supposition because, I don't care WHO'S in the White House, there IS NO immediate fix. But you know that, don't you? You're not a COMPLETE idiot, although sometimes one really has to wonder...

Please, for the good of the country you claim to love soooooo much, stop fear-mongering, stop trying to incite mistrust, stop trying to cause bad faith, just. stop. talking. Now.

[Via Shakesville]

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tres Dramatique!

While researching my paper on Giotto and the Arena Chapel Frescoes, I got COMPLETELY sidetracked by a bunch of other articles on later Renaissance art. One of Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings that I particularly like is the Virgin of the Rocks, probably because I think Baby Jesus and Baby John the Baptist are chubby and adorable in that Renaissance holy fat baby way (no one bothered to study the CORRECT proportions for babies and small children until much later).

Anyway, as some of you may recall, Dan Brown used this piece in the Da Vinci Code and made some pretty "far-fetched" claims about the symbolism used in it. For example, he purports that the Archangel Uriel, on the right, is making a throat slashing motion with his pointing finger. Brown says that this and other sly allusions placed in the painting by cheeky ol' Leo caused the Church to reject it, leading to the second rendition of Virgin of the Rocks (which I personally find not as attractive as its predecessor).

[I'm getting to the point soon, I swear.]

So, APPARENTLY, the Louvre had a WEENSY issue with Dan Brown and his artistic license:
The spectacular Grande Galerie in the Louvre plays an important role in the novel The Da Vinci Code, providing the setting for the beginning of the story. Far more remarkable than the parquet flooring with its chevron patterns mentioned in the book is the collection of Italian paintings. Four of the five paintings by Leonardo da Vinci in the Louvre are on display here. The Da Vinci Code analyzes The Virgin of the Rocks (which Sophie Neveu removes from the wall) in a new and subversive way. It suggests that Mary holds in her left hand the invisible head of Mary Magdalene, whose neck is being symbolically sliced by the gesture of the Archangel Uriel on the right. Leonardo was thus supposedly showing the Church’s conspiracy against Christ’s companion during the early centuries. This far-fetched interpretation of the painting might have been inspired by the work of Bernardino Luini just to the left: Salome Receiving the Head of Saint John the Baptist. In reality, Mary’s mysterious gesture relates to traditional religious iconography: Mary is the mother of Jesus, but she is also the incarnation of the Church, the “house.” In the painting, therefore, she seems to be covering the head of her Son with her left hand, as if with a roof. The Da Vinci Code thus transformed a gesture of protection into a metaphorical representation of murder. This powerful literary effect is a travesty of art history.

[Emphasis mine]

A TRAVESTY! For shame, Mr. Brown. For shame.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Destroying the Fabric of Democracy

ACORN (obviously)
Pregnant Black Women
The LGBTQI Community At Large
"Communists, Catholics, and Colored People"
Immigrants (Specifically those of Latin@ descent, regardless of citizenship)
Fat People

This list is in no particular order and is definitely incomplete. It will (possibly) be updated at a later date. Any thoughts on who to add?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know there's only 9 minutes left in the day but I just wanted to hop on here and say I hope everyone had a nice relaxing holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving, love to all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock
ca. 500-1500 CE
--The Dome of the Rock is a domed octagon resembling San Vitale in Ravenna in basic design. The exterior is covered in vivid, colorful patterned mosaic and sharply contrasts with the Byzantine brickwork and Greco-Roman sculptured profiling and carved decoration. The interior is also highly decorated with mosaics. The Dome of the Rock was erected by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik and houses the rock from which Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to Heaven.

Click for larger images.

(Dome of the Rock)

(Exterior windows)

(Definitely click on this one to see the beautiful tiling and Arabesque script. The colors are really fantastic. Big file, though.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christ the Judge

Ed. Note: I had a really hard time finding this piece because it is not in my book (I don't have the $200 newest edition) and because my prof gave us THE WRONG NAME for it. It took me almost two hours of searching (not all at once, of course) to figure out that the correct name is "Christ Pantocrator". Luckily, I had seen the piece in class so I knew which one he was asking for because otherwise, I would have had no idea what to do.

Christ the Judge (Christ Pantocrator)
ca. 1100 CE
--Christ the Judge illustrates the shift in how the Church was portrayed in the middle to late Byzantine period. He is depicted much older than previously, wearing a beard and dour expression. He carries "the Book" and has one finger partially raised, perhaps preparing to point to one's fate. In the later Byzantine period, the Christian Church was becoming quite politicized and instead of a police force to keep subjects in line, used propagandist images to invoke fear and guilt in the viewer.

(Christ Pantocrator, Daphni, Greece)

Maybe A Little Petty

There is a part of me that kind of enjoys seeing pictures of my ex-boyfriends and getting to think, "Wow, you really just didn't age well."

I am not ashamed of this.

Justinian Mosaic

Justinian Mosaic
ca. 500 CE
--In Ravenna, Italy, on the western end of the Byzantine Empire, Justinian commissioned San Vitale, an impressive Christian church with a "Greek Cross" floor plan. The inside walls of San Vitale are highly decorated and on the north wall of the apse is the Justinian Mosaic. At the center of the mosaic is Justinian shown priest-king, haloed and garbed in purple and gold, carrying a paten or a large golden bowl containing the bread for the Sacrament. Closest to Justinian on the right is the Bishop Maximianus and indeed his is the only name that appears in the Mosaic. His importance is labeled also by the golden robe and scarf bearing the cross. Maximianus and the other clergymen are identified also by the items they carry: a cross, a book, and a thurible. To the left of the Emperor are several soldiers, denoted by their lances and by the shield one of them carries which bears the Greek Letters X and P, or chi-ro, a monogram for Christ. To show perspective in this piece, the mosaicist uses a simple method of overlapping: every man's foot overlaps the foot of his inferior, putting Justinian and Maximianus in front and all other figures behind them.

Click to view larger images.

(Justinian Mosaic)

(Detail of face of Justinian)

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
ca. 500 CE
--Built in Constantinople for the emperor Justinian, Hagia Sophia (the church of Holy Wisdom) was the largest building in Byzantium and remains the largest dome of the ancient world. It is a marvel of Byzantine architecture - the dome is one hundred eight feet in diameter and its crown rises some one hundred eighty feet above pavement. One of the most impressive aspects of the dome is that it is circle at the base by forty windows which allow great amounts of light into the building and cause the dome to appear to be floating on a halo of sunshine. The structural devices that make this feat possible are hallmarks of Byzantine engineering. One of these is the pendentive, which is essentially a larger, flatter dome one which the primary dome rests, and transfers weight to the piers beneath, rather than to the walls.

Click to view larger images:

(Exterior: Hagia Sophia)

(Interior: Hagia Sophia)

(Hagia Sophia dome detail)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christ as the Good Shepherd

Christ as the Good Shepherd from the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
ca. 400 CE
Decorative Mosaic
--Christ as the Good Shepherd is the subject of the lunette above the entrance to the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy. This piece depicts Christ as a young man, beardless (symbolizing innocence), haloed (piety) and dressed in purple and gold (regality), sitting among his flock instead of carrying a lamb on his shoulder as in earlier depictions. The loose, informal arrangement of the figures and easy posture of Christ reflect the early Christian perspective of the Church as kind and welcoming. The creator of this mosaic was still rooted in the classical tradition, as many Greco-Roman devices for conveying perspective are used.

(Christ as the Good Shepherd)

(Detail of Christ)

The Arch of Constantine

To motivate me to study for my Art History test, I'm going to be writing posts about each of the eight pieces that will be part of the test.

The Arch of Constantine
circa 300 CE
Early Christian
Monument commemorating Constantine's defeat of Mazentius
--The great triple-passageway arch was erected in Rome between 312 and 315 CE. Much of the sculptural decoration and the columns of the arch were reclaimed from some of the earlier monuments of Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius. The heads of the emperors in these reliefs were re-cut to resemble the new ruler. These reused sculptures were carefully selected to associate Constantine with the "good emperors". In one of the Constantinian reliefs above the arch's lateral passageways, Constantine is shown on the platform in the Roman Forum, flanked on either side by representations of Marcus Aurelius and Hadrian. This recycling of earlier works is often used as evidence of a decline in technical skill and creativity in the latter part of the pagan Roman Empire. However, the friezes of this archway mark a distinctive shift towards the iconic art of the Middle Ages. The art of the Roman Empire was focused on portraying an idealized, perfected version of its subject whereas Early Christian art sought to teach and tell stories in a way that was immediately accessible to all.

(Arch of Constantine)

(Detail of roundel frieze)

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Rhinoceros

From the comments on a Shapely Prose post:
A sporty White Rhinoceros
Was going for a run
When someone shouted “You’re too fat!
You ought to lose a ton!
You’re eating too much leaves and bark!
And what about your joints?”
The Rhino answered forcefully
With two well-argued points.

If you see a Rhinoceros
That thunders ‘cross the plain
In perissodactylic glee
Perhaps you should refrain
From commenting upon its weight;
In light of this example -
The heavier a Rhino is
The harder it can trample.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Always Thought That Was The Point...

Kyle - "If you do a stupid thing once, you just did something stupid. If you do it a bunch of times, apparently it's not stupid anymore, it's 'tradition'."

My boyfriend, ladies and gentlemen, is not a sentimental man.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It Finally Got Me

As thrilled as I am about Obama's election, it hadn't truly hit me until I watched this video of Maya Angelou's reaction. And then I got all teary eyed at the end.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Liveblogging the 2008 Presidential Election

Tiffany is without television or internet so I'm sending her text updates on the election. I'll post them here as well and call it liveblogging! I watched an AP map online as well as watching the news channels and the news channels called things WAY earlier than AP but since I didn't want to jump the gun I went with the AP results as they were called.

8:11pm - KY, OK, TN, and SC are called for McCain. VT, ME, MA, CT, IL, NJ, DE, MD, DC for Obama.

8:13pm - 78 Obama to 34 McCain in electoral votes.

8:22pm - 60% in FL so far support gay marriage ban with 22% of the vote in. Way to fail, Florida. But Pinellas went blue so that makes me feel a little better...I guess.

9:02pm - PA goes to Obama so it's 103 to 34 now. And they're getting ready to call RI for Obama which will be another 4.

9:10pm - MN, WI, MI, NY, and RI for Obama. WY for McCain. 175 to 46.

9:24pm - AR and AL for McCain. Not surprising. 175 to 52 in Obama's favor. He only needs 95 more!

9:31pm - ND for McCain. 175 to 55. This is taking FOREVER!

9:44pm - LA for McCain. OH for Obama. 195 to 70.

10:03pm - It's pretty much over. Barack Obama is President-elect of the United States of America!

AP is really slow at updating and everything else I'm keeping up with has it pretty much called for Obama. I stopped texting Tiffany at this point but kept tallying for the funsies.

10:09pm - UT to McCain. 202 to 80.

10:12pm - TCF (Token Conservative Friend) Roswell is trying to tell me that McCain has conceded and they're reporting it on DC political talk radio. Eh...I don't know about that.

10:26pm - TX and WV to McCain, OBVIOUSLY! 202 to 114 Obama. Woot!

10:42pm - NM for Obama and at some point IA and KS but I missed them. 207 to 114.

10:49pm - AP calls VA for Obama! 220 to 114!

10:54pm - MS to McCain. 220/120.

11:00pm - ID for McCain. Everybody's calling it. CA, OR, WA, HI, AND FL FOR OBAMA! Barack Obama is President!!! YAY!!!!! Florida goes blue?! AMAZING!!! 324 electoral votes for Obama to 124 for John McCain.

11:18pm - McCain's concession speech. He mentions Obama AND PEOPLE START BOOING?! Mature, guys. Real mature. The speech is, um...vaguely racist?

11:22pm - CO and NV for Obama. SD for McCain. 338/127.

11:31pm - OMG, OPRAH AT GRANT PARK! They showed her in the crowd...just sayin'.

11:34pm - They didn't NEED to open the speech with a (Christian, naturally) prayer...just sayin'.

11:37pm - Moustache guy needs to get on with it. YOU DON'T NEED TO PREFACE THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE!

11:39pm - Slightly tone deaf woman singing the Star-Spangled Banner has a nice coat?

11:41pm - HOLY CRAP THEY'RE PLAYING FAKE EMPIRE BY THE NATIONAL WHICH IS MY MOST FAVORITE SONG EVER for this video opening the Obama speech that I can't actually see or hear except for the music. But seriously, guys? Pretty much the greatest song ever.

11:49pm - Talking to Tim on iChat: "GET OUT THE CHAMPAGNE, DOUSE IT WITH WHISKEY!"

11:53pm - Kyle: "We won, baby!" Karlen: "Yeah, I get to keep my human rights and shit!" (Note: One of my biggest fears about a McCain Presidency is that two, possibly three seats are going to be opening up on the Supreme Court during this term and I think they're all liberal seats. If McCain nabbed them for the conservatives, I'm pretty sure life would basically become The Handmaid's Tale in days).

11:56pm - NE and AZ for McCain. 338/139.

11:58pm - The Obama's enter the stage. I LOVE his family! They're so beautiful!

12:01am - Obama mentions McCain. Crowd cheers. Genuine class. Obviously, it's easier to be gracious when you KICKED THE OTHER GUY'S ASS but, you know, I'm just saying...

12:08am - From Pundit Kitchen:

12:10am - I love listening to this man speak. Some of the faces of the people in this crowd are making me misty eyed. This is really wonderful.

12:15am - YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!!! I don't think I've ever been more proud of my country. HERE COMES BIDEN! YAY! I really like that Obama and Biden seems to genuinely LIKE each other. I expect great things from this. Please, don't let me down guys.

12:20am - As much as I would like for this to continue all night, I have to be up at 7am so it's off to bed for me! Good night, everybody, and remember - Under a Barack Obama Presidency, you, too, can have a little of that audacious hope.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Alright, for my consideration more than yours, I have here three different versions of the same piece of music, which is the Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007.

Now, first of all, apparently Mstislav Rostropovich died in April of last year AND NO ONE BOTHERED TO TELL ME UNTIL LAST WEEK! WTF, guys? Here's his version:

(The youtube video I wanted to use was disabled so I had to find a different one so you have to wait through 23 seconds of introduction I'M SORRY).
While technically perfect, one of the tiny issues I've had with Rostropovich is that sometimes he plays these pieces as if he's brushing his teeth, which is to say, like he's so used to doing it that it requires no thought and he's just sort of going through the motions. "The Prelude, again?" he thinks, although in Russian. "Always the Prelude, everyone wants the Prelude." Also, would you like to slow down there Captain Flash Fingers? I'm kidding, Rostropovich, I love you and I'm sorry you're dead and I didn't know.

Then there is Mischa Maisky, who I have a weird fondness for, perhaps because his name is so enjoyable to say and not nearly as cumbersome as "Mstislav Rostropovich":

Now, I'm going to assume you heard the wild squawk in there at 1:12 and it totally harshed your mellow. However, I am willing to ignore this because Maisky's version has so much more feeling. Look at his expression. That man is totally concerned with doing right by the hourglass figure between his knees!

Ok, ok, I GUESS I'll throw in Yo-Yo Ma since everybody loves him so much:

Whoever made this video decided it would be way more awesome to intersperse far away shots of Ma playing in parking garages (?) with stills of children running around (??) than it would be to, you know, watch him perform the piece. Also, what's with the random inflection, Ma? I'm sure he's being hesitant for effect but there's sort of a flow to this piece and he is so not going with it.

I'm not going to post Pablo Casal's version because you have to wade through, like, seven minutes of black and white French blah blah blah to get to it and, um, it's not big on being worth it.

*Did you think I meant panties? Ha, oh, you silly thing.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weighty Matters

From Shapely Prose, this article from the NY Times:
Several studies suggest that if the aim is getting healthier rather than slimmer, then in the long run the “Health at Every Size” approach works better than dieting. In 2005, Bacon led the only randomized control trial to date that tested this hypothesis physiologically. She randomly assigned half of the 78 subjects, all women, to a “Health at Every Size” group; while they lost no weight, their healthier behavior led to lower blood-pressure and cholesterol levels, which stayed low even two years later. In the weight-loss group, more than 40 percent dropped out before the six-month low-calorie diet ended, and at the two-year follow-up, the average dieter had regained all her lost weight, and the only measurement that dropped was one for self-esteem.

Go read the rest and consider who would actually be losing out if we all stopped trying to force our bodies into the literally narrowest of ideals.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday

Laura had her baby this morning around 11am. She named him Liam. I'll have some pictures after the weekend when we go back home to visit. Kyle's dad will be in town tomorrow and Thursday on his way to visit SO THAT WILL BE FUN. For now, I'm off to crochet a few more baby favors. Yay!

Monday, September 29, 2008

House Rejects Bailout Package

The vote against the measure was 228 to 205, with 133 Republicans turning against President Bush to join 95 Democrats in opposition. The bill was backed by 140 Democrats and 65 Republicans.

Lots of finger pointing and name calling already. I'm watching the responses on C-SPAN and it's pretty much a freaking Whiney Baby Parade. Someone needs to call a WHAAAAmbulance and send it over to Capitol Hill.

Some of McCain's and Obama's comments, from this article at The Guardian:
From the minute John McCain suspended his campaign and arrived in Washington to address this crisis, he was attacked by the Democratic leadership: Senators Obama and Reid, Speaker Pelosi and others. Their partisan attacks were an effort to gain political advantage during a national economic crisis. By doing so, they put at risk the homes, livelihoods and savings of millions of American families. Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain, and refused to even say if he supported the final bill. Just before the vote, when the outcome was still in doubt, Speaker Pelosi gave a strongly worded partisan speech and poisoned the outcome. This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.

Emphasis mine.
It is important for the American public and for the markets to say calm because things are never smooth in congress and to understand that it will get done. That we are going to make sure an emergency package is put together because it is required for us to stabilize the markets and to make sure that when a small business-person wakes up tomorrow morning, he will be able to make payroll. ... I am confident we are going to get there but it's going to be sort of rocky. It's sort of like flying into Denver. You know you're going to land but it's not always fun going over those mountains.

It is my understanding that while this bailout would not have been soooo fun, it would have been better than nothing. I don't know enough about economics to really know how to feel about it. Kyle is spitting nails. He's convinced he won't be able to get loans for school next semester and will have to quit college. He may not be incorrect.

The Dow Industrial fell 7%. I'm going to assume that's a lot because it's being mentioned with great frequency. It really is amazing, watching C-SPAN and hearing the comments from the people actually involved in this decision, how much the Republicans are frantically trying to make sure everyone knows IT WAS THE DEMOCRATS! IT'S THEIR FAULT! and how much the Democrats are calmly talking about the next steps and trying to be honest but reassuring.

2008 will be remembered as the year the American population shit a collective brick. This has been one of the most panicky, frenzied, pearl-clutching years in recent history, AND IT AIN'T OVER YET, BABY!

Update: Video of McCain's comments. Still waiting for video of Obama's speech, WHICH IS AWESOME, BTW.

Poli Sci Essay 3

Taliban Targets Women Police Officers in Afghanistan

Malalai Kakar, head of the city of Kandahar's department of crimes against women, was shot dead outside of her home on Sunday, September 28th. Her fifteen-year-old son, who was taking her to work, was also wounded and is in critical condition. Taliban gunmen, waiting outside of Kakar’s home, opened fire on her car as she left. Kakar was shot through the head and died on the spot.

Malalai Kakar was the most high-profile female police officer in Afghanistan. She was regularly interviewed in international media and was known for her courage in one of Afghanistan’s most conservative provinces. Kakar was a captain in the police force and headed a team of about 10 women officers. She had reportedly received numerous death threats.

Kakar was the first women to join the Kandahar police force in 2001 after the Taliban were overthrown. She was involved in investigating crimes against women and children, and conducting house searches.

A spokesman for the Taliban took credit for the murder. The extremist group has been mounting a growing insurgency targeting government officials. Several other woman officers and officials have been gunned down by Taliban assassins.

The head of Kandahar province's women's affairs department was killed in a similar way two years ago. And in June gunmen shot dead a female police officer in the western province of Herat in what was believed to be the first assassination of a female police officer in the war-torn country. Bibi Hoor, 26, was on her way home when two armed men on motorbikes opened fire, killing her instantly. It was not clear who killed her.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, saying in a statement that it was an "act of cowardice" by the "enemies of the peace and welfare and reconstruction of Afghanistan."

Under the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan from 1996-2001, women were not permitted to work or leave their homes without a male relative, and were required to wear an all-covering burqa. Kandahar is known as the birthplace of the Taliban.

About 750 police officers have been killed in the past six months, both male and female, mostly in insurgency-linked violence sweeping the country. The Afghan police force numbers around 80,000 people.

Afghanistan is no stranger to denying women basic rights. While the political and cultural position of women has improved significantly since the overthrow of Taliban rule, there is obviously still a great gap in the way Afghan women should be treated, and the way they are treated, particularly in rural areas where families still restrict mothers, daughters, wives and sisters from participation in public life. They are forced into marriages and denied an even basic education. 87% of Afghan women are illiterate and numerous girls’ schools have been burned down, bombed, or otherwise attacked.

The dangers Afghan women in the public eye face are enormous and frightening. In a religiously oppressive environment, perhaps it is easier to follow unfair rules and expectations, to do as you are told and not make waves. The women who are brave enough to put themselves in increasingly dangerous positions should be lauded for their courage and memorialized for their sacrifices. They are also testament to the distance already covered in assuring women everywhere their rights as humans, but also, how far we have yet to go.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Squeaky Clean

We watched the debate last night. I don't really have anything to say about it. Not exciting, nothing all OMG-he-said-what?!? At certain point, I felt like even though they were speaking English, there was no sense to the words, they were all just tossed together. Word salad. Today, I made soap.

Peppermint Candy sugar scrub. It looks kind of gross but it feels good. I used Cocoa Butter which is way too greasy for this to be a scrub-rinse-go kind of thing, but after scrubbing and then regular soaping my skin felt SUPER soft and moisturized. Plus, very minty fresh!

Coffee Cake bar soap. Still in the saponification process. I'll be able to unmold it tomorrow and then it'll have to cure for about a month but then, yummy vanilla latte smelling soap!

The other night Kyle and I met Mom for dinner. Hilarity ensued:

(Note: clicking the pictures will take you to the bigger Photobucket versions.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bartlet and Obama

Aaron Sorkin wrote a guest Op-Ed for the NYT. Barack Obama meets Jed Bartlet. No, really, it's pretty much awesome:

BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.


OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.

And now I have to go study the Warka Vase...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Morning Thoughts

I wish I lived in a place where I didn't have to worry about packing up my computer, books, and notebooks to make a five minute trip to the restroom while in the school library. Maybe I'll just take the computer...who's going to steal my Astronomy notes?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another New Pal

These are so quick and fun to make, I might make a whole army. I sewed this one's beard on a little crooked but OH WELL, everybody has their flaws!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rollin' With My Gnome-y!

I decided to not pay attention to anything except fun stuff this weekend, so I spent the majority of it watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and crocheting my fingers off. Here's a little plushie I made today:

Here we are on the phone with Mom. Hi, Mom!

That's all for now. More to come soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Poli Sci Essay no.2

Foreclosure and Voting

In Macomb County Michigan, the Republican Party chairman has announced a plan to challenge voters whose homes have been foreclosed on in the upcoming presidential election. “We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” said James Carabelli.

State election rules allow parties to assign “election challengers” to polls to monitor the election. In addition to observing the poll workers, these volunteers can challenge the eligibility of any voter provided they “have a good reason to believe” that the person is not eligible to vote. One allowable reason is that the person is not a “true resident of the city or township.” However, if a volunteer makes a challenge, poll workers are not permitted to ask why or allow voters to make a defense.

J. Gerald Hebert, a former voting rights litigator for the U.S. Justice Department, has questioned the legality of this effort. “You can’t challenge people without a factual basis for doing so…I don’t think a foreclosure notice is sufficient basis for a challenge, because people often remain in their homes after foreclosure begins and sometimes are able to negotiate and refinance.”

The effort is not limited to Macomb County, or indeed, only to Michigan. In Ohio, Doug Preisse, director of elections in Franklin County and the chair of the local GOP, told The Columbus Dispatch that he has not ruled out challenging voters before the election due to foreclosure-related address issues.

“At a minimum what you are seeing is a fairly comprehensive effort by the Republican Party, a systematic broad-based effort to put up obstacles for people to vote,” he said. “Nobody is contending that these people are not legally registered to vote.”
Some speculation has occurred over the fact that in Macomb County, the majority of persons whose homes have been foreclosed on are African American and a great number of those vote Democrat.

In the course of researching this issue, I came across one site out of dozens carrying the article that posted an edit claiming that a party member in Michigan had contested the veracity of this story. As of writing, I have not been able to find any other source for this statement, but I felt it would be inappropriate to ignore the possibility.

While challenges may not result in barring for all voters, it does create difficulty, causing voters to have to travel to different polling places, much longer waits than many people can afford, and general hesitance to go to polling places for fear of confrontation or harassment. Causing disruptions and discouraging already disenfranchised voters on Election Day might not be illegal, but one does have to question whether it is ethical.


(See: the Rickroll)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vote Palin For President

Wow, Seriously?

I was reading BBC News online this morning and I clicked on a photo series of Sarah Palin because I wanted to see if she was smirking in every picture and I guess because I hate myself and like being infected with rage.

And then, there was this:

Ok, so, no smart pantsuit? Just this classy TV Hooker get up? Not even maybe a Wonder Woman-esque leotard? I mean, it's called the Super Hero Sarah Palin. Maybe the website selling these has other ones with better clothes. Let's just hop over there andOH OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

Out. Of. Control.

Also, I suppose it doesn't even matter at this point but the people who designed the face really should have gone for a little more Condescending and a little less Tweaking. These are the dudes that got fired from Mattel for pitching Meth Bender Barbie.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Happy Thoughts

I'm was trying really hard not to pay attention to politics for a night because I'm feeling really discouraged and sad, but it's seems to be sort of like a bully that hides behind corners and leaps out and gives you a noogie at random because I can't get away from it.

So, I sought out the one thing that usually makes me (and most people, i think), cheerful: baby animals.

Here's a clip from that Milo & Otis-set-to-Sigur Ros series:

BUT WAIT! Even better, I found a clip of Otis meeting the fox from that same movie. The fox is probably one of my most favorite characters from a children's movie, which is amazing considering he only exists for one minute and three seconds. I think it's the song:

I'm going to bed now while I'm still in baby animal mode. G'night!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday Mix

Here's a short playlist for your evening enjoyment. There are 8 tracks, all instrumental (mostly just piano) by Christopher O'Riley, Eluvium, the Boats, and others.

Also, check out these amazing photos of hurricanes as seen from orbit.

Have a good week!

[Edit: This is the first time I've used 8tracks and apparently track line up means NOTHING to them! Weird.]

Who's Elite?

Ever worn a $300,000 outfit? Cindy has.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

"He who fights with monsters..."

You've probably realized that I really love Shakesville. There's a post up by Pizza Diavola about "Fauxgressive" attacks on Sarah Palin's daughter:
...Yes, Gov. Palin's abstinence-only sex "education" position is reprehensible. Yes, it keeps minors uninformed and results in higher rates of STIs and teen pregnancies. Yes, it actively foments ignorance. However, these are all reasons to criticize Sarah Palin's positions and question whether or not McCain-Palin is the duo you want to see in the White House. These are not reasons to drag two minors into the fray as a means of slamming Bristol Palin and her mother.


Being anti-sexist and pro-choice means being anti-sexist and pro-choice for all people, whether or not we like them, whether or not it's convenient, whether or not they'd return the favor. There are better, more pertinent ways to criticize the McCain-Palin ticket.

(Read the rest here.)

As Melissa says, "We defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because we endorse her or her politics, but because that's how feminism works."

[Note: I have a lot of time in the library today. Hence, time for posting.]

Becoming Cautiously Hopeful?

Palin raises $8 million — for Obama

Obama's coffers have been filling since Sarah Palin attacked him repeatedly in St. Paul last night.

An Obama aide confirms Drudge's report that Obama has raised about $8 million from more than 130,000 donors and is on pace to raise $10 million by the time McCain reaches the stage tonight.

UPDATE: Obama spokesman Bill Burton says, "Sarah Palin's attacks have rallied our supporters in ways we never expected. And we fully expect John McCain's attacks tonight to help us make our grass-roots organization even stronger."

via Shakesville

Half-hearted Current Events Essay for Poli Sci

Instead of having us do one big term paper to meet the Gordon Rule requirement in my Poli Sci class, Dr. Anderson is assigning several small essays relating current events to topics in the class. I did the first one last night. It's pretty low quality. I just didn't want to write about the election or candidates, or military actions, or how the country is dealing with natural disaster threats after Katrina (not so great, ac'shuly!), because honestly I'm sort of sick to death of thinking about it and feeling pissed and powerless. Also, due to this emotional component, I probably could not keep a short essay on one of these topics under a page and a half, which is the guideline. Brevity is hard when you care.

Hard Times for U.S. Schools

As a new school year begins, school systems in the United States are facing record numbers of funding difficulties and students who are homeless or living in poverty because of the soaring costs of fuel and food, and the overall downturn in the economy.

All across the nation, school systems are trying to find ways to cope with drastically slashed budgets and parents who are having difficulty providing for their children. “The big national picture is that food and fuel costs are going up and school revenues are not,” said Anne L. Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association. “We’re in a recession, and it’s having a dramatic impact on schools.” ( Thousands of teachers, administrators, and maintenance workers have been laid off nationwide.

Many districts have reduced the number of busses in use or changed routes to lessen the number of stops, and a few districts have ended bus use either completely or for high schools. Some school boards in Maine are concerned about being able to afford heating for classrooms in the coming winter. Hundreds of districts have restricted travel for field trips to save fuel and some have raised prices on cafeteria meal in response to ballooning food costs. Some more rural systems have adopted 4-day school weeks.

Everywhere, schools are serving increasing numbers of children in poverty. Local charities giving away school supplies are severely lacking in resources to cope with the number of needy families. The number of children who qualify for reduced price or free meals has skyrocketed in the last year and administrators suspect the number will only continue to rise.

Often, during times of economic hardship and even in times of stability, it seems that the budgets for public education are some of the first to get cut. When money is tight for a whole community and schools are forced to reduce costs, it falls on parents who are already struggling to make up the difference. Many teachers must pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Children get stuck in the middle in these situations, with schools and parents unable to afford the costs of equipping them with the necessities to get a proper education.

The public school system is simply another in a series of interrelated casualties during America’s economic crisis.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Also, Sarcasm...

Scene - Grocery store, bread aisle.

Kyle: (mumble mumble)
Karlen: What? You have language skills, you know. Maybe you should use them. You know what separates people from animals?
Kyle: Irony?
Karlen: ...That was amazing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Conversation I Just Had with Rae's Away Message:

Me: did you know the song "red right hand" by nick cave was about vengeful old testament god in paradise lost?

Auto response from Rae: I am away from my computer right now.

Me: i thought it was about the devil, so now i have to listen to it and change my perception of the point
Me: i just got amazed by the concept of duality which i don't actually think about ever and had to share and i know you appreciate analysis so...
Me: hope you're having a good week!

It's a shame about modern Christianity because if it weren't for all that, some of the Bible might be kind of awesome. Like, in the literal sense.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Put On Your Votin' Hats!

Today marks the 88th anniversary of women's suffrage in the U.S. At some point between then and now, we also made the extraordinary leap toward freeing ourselves from the oppression of giant cumbersome hats. Yay!

They look so happy about it!

My favorite homage to brave suffragettes, combining olde timey unwieldy fashion with modern unwieldy internet grammar. It's all about steps forward, people!

In honor of us little ladies' right to, um, have a say in our lives and junk, we need cake. That's why there is Cake Wrecks! I said, it's all about steps!

Monday, August 25, 2008

If I didn't hate you, I might find this endearing!

I guess this is old news? But Barack Obama and John McCain gave a list of their Top Ten Favorite Songsto Blender Magazine. KNOW WHAT WAS MCCAIN'S NUMBER ONE?!

"Nobody likes them, but they sold more records than anybody in the history of the world, including The Beatles. But everybody hates them. You’re a no-class guy if you like ABBA. Why does everybody go see ‘Mamma Mia?’ Hypocrisy! Rank hypocrisy! I’m not embarassed to say I like ABBA, ‘Dancing Queen.’”

He IS a dancing queen...

Think they had ABBA dance parties on the Straight Talk Express? Can you picture him doing the White Man Shuffle? It almost makes him momentarily likable but then you remember that he's, hmm, oh yeah, A RAGING ASSHOLE!

In case you're curious, here are the rest of the lists:

1. Ready or Not Fugees
2. What’s Going On Marvin Gaye
3. I’m On Fire Bruce Spingsteen
4. Gimme Shelter Rolling Stones
5. Sinnerman Nina Simone
6. Touch the Sky Kanye West
7. You’d Be So Easy to Love Frank Sinatra
8. Think Aretha Franklin
9. City of Blinding Lights U2
10. Yes We Can

1. Dancing Queen ABBA
2. Blue Bayou Roy Orbison
3. Take a Chance On Me ABBA
4. If We Make It Through December Merle Haggard
5. As Time Goes By Dooley Wilson
6. Good Vibrations The Beach Boys
7. What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong
8. I’ve Got You Under My Skin Frank Sinatra
9. Sweet Caroline Neil Diamond
10. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes The Platters

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


The headline on today's Daytona Beach News-Journal was "Fay's Fickle Finger Points At Us!" like it was the scariest thing ever. So, I checked the projection:

It's pretty overcast but the rain hasn't actually started and I'm really not worried. I guess it's a blessing and a curse to have the attitude most people born and raised in Pinellas County have about hurricanes - usually nothing happens (Pinellas hasn't been hit directly by a hurricane since 1921 [thanks to Chief White Cap, haha]), so you expect nothing to happen, which means you don't end up wasting time with evacuations and wasting money with bottled water and plywood for the windows. However, if a big one were to hit, I obviously wouldn't know until it was on top of us. And since I don't live in Pinellas now, I guess maybe I should pay a bit more attention.

I'm still not worried.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh, Yeah!

I forgot to mention this. I'm a big fan of comic books (*ahem* graphic novels) and web comics are like continual free books! One I'm reading presently is called Minus by Ryan Armand. Minus is a little girl with a Tin Tin cowlick and some kind of magic power although I don't know if it's ever clarified why or how. Anyway, it's beautifully done with watercolors, the character is endearing, and while there's not a particular story arc that I can pick out (but maybe later? I'm not that far into it) it's pretty engaging.

Even if you don't have time to read through it, at least check out one of my favorite strips so far. Something about that last panel gives me chills. I want to tack it up in the bedroom of every little girl I can find. Which I guess is the point?

Oh, Well...

I hated the way the blog looked so I went back to one of the top/bottom orientations. It ruins all of the pictures but I'm sure one day when I have time to devote to it, I will find away around this. For now, I'm just giving up.

I have been composing posts in my head and trying to organize my thoughts but I don't know if I'm creating several little posts or one big one. It could go either way. I don't actually know how to blog, by the way, but I guess don't tell anybody?

In the meantime, check out Rae's blog. There are recipes for tuna croquettes and beet salad, as well as some incredible photos of Central and South America. I'm vaguely trying to encourage her to write more (and perhaps post a little over here wink wink nudge?) so leave her some love, too!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Sybil Vane at Bitch, Ph.D. reviews Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma:

...But I am persuaded of several things by this book. "Organic" means very little anymore. Organic via Whole Foods and the like certainly means nothing in terms of sustainability or treatment of creatures. Federal agriculture policy isn't helping anything; rather it provides subsidies that encourage farmers to produce more of over-produced crops (e.g. corn), thus dropping the price more and more. Meat should be eaten infrequently. One really must get past the notion that she can eat whatever food she wants whatever time of year. Food choices are undeniably political *if* one has the fortune to be aware of those politics.

(Read the rest here.)

This has been sort of a big subject for me recently. With a great majority of my friends being vegetarian (and eating mostly vegetarian myself since Kyle does most of the cooking), I've had many a discussion about the social implications of being ABLE to be a vegetarian, or of being able to be that choosy about one's diet in general. The fact that government subsidies for meat production are vastly higher than those for most vegetable production (sweet corn obviously notwithstanding) alone means that what is more readily affordable in terms of foods for people with lower income is very different from what is readily affordable to those with higher incomes. This ties in with the supposed "obesity epidemic" and the not-new correlation between poverty and obesity [PDF].

Current research on obesity now seems to focus on socioeconomic factors as a primary cause of this dangerous disease and empirical evidence suggests that poor people are the highest risk of becoming obese. This is largely because those living below or close to the poverty line usually have poor standards of living. Arguably their state of poverty deprives them from having a stable diet. The growing numbers of working mothers find it increasingly difficult to allocate time for preparing family meals, leading to increasing dependence on fattening fast foods.

I think I might pick up this book sometime. Kyle recently read The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason, but I guess I didn't want to read it because he gave it to Tiffany. Oh well.

And because I can't remain serious for more than, like, ten minutes, here is a hilarious video of dogs and lasers that Tim sent me:

No, really. Watch it!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Earth to John McCain: Please, Stop.

EARTH, July 25, 2008 -- The entire world drafted an open letter to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) today, asking him to drop out of the U.S. presidential race and concede the presidency to Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois).


Pointing to polls that show Obama leading McCain 94 percent to 6 percent everywhere on the inhabited globe except the United States, where most polls give Obama a narrow one- to three-point lead, the entire world suggested that Americans might not be sufficiently informed about the U.S. election.


On a related note, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked the entire world why the U.S. media have failed to acknowledge his government's endorsement of Obama's plan for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. "I do not understand what is wrong with their Washington Post," Maliki said in a prepared statement. "I recall that it used to be a pretty good newspaper. But now I fear that its editorial pages have been taken over by what the Qu'ran calls 'a bunch of wankers.'"

Read the whole thing here.

(Via Feministe)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Unplanned Hiatus

Hi! I know, it's been over a month since I last updated but there's been a lot going on and I just haven't gotten around to it. School ended on the 26th of June. I got an A in algebra. I got A's in my other classes too, but algebra was the one I was worried about and I'm really proud of myself for doing so well. I got a little over-confident at one point and thought about taking whatever comes next, trig or pre-calc or whatever, but then I decided that I probably shouldn't put myself in that position. I worked hard and did well in algebra but I sort of hated it, so why would I take even harder math classes voluntarily? Who knows!

After school ended, we came back home and spent the 8th through the 14th in Costa Rica with my family. It was awesome! Dad was saying today that he and Mom tallied it up and we saw something like 47 different kinds of birds, like Scarlet Macaws, Keel-billed Toucans although they were pretty elusive and we heard them a lot more than we saw them, all sorts of Tanagers, Pearl Kites, which the book says have not been recorded in Costa Rica, and, one of my personal favorites for just the name alone, the Violaceous Trogon.

We saw tons of Central American Spider Monkeys, Coatis, some Squirrel Monkeys, a few Capuchins, and we heard every day but never saw Howler Monkeys. Plus myriad other insects and arachnids and some really incredible plants and fungi. It was pretty amazing. We did a horseback tour through the jungle and out onto the beach. We were on the Pacific side and I'd never seen the Pacific Ocean before. I wish I knew how to surf, there were great waves.

I'll post my own photos...some day. Between the five of us, there are several hundred pictures and they have to be sorted through and organized and edited, which will take a while. But one day, I promise...maybe.

The 17th was my 23rd birthday. It was a good one. I got my hair done in a fancy salon and went to dinner with my family. Kyle made a Tres Leches cake for me and homemade whipped cream and it was really delicious. He also made Orange Peel Jello Shots. They're so cool! I think we're going to make some more for tonight, Tiffany and I are have a joint belated birthday party.

So, that's what's been going on. Hopefully, since things are quieting down now, I will get back into a more regular posting habit but who's to say.


Thursday, June 12, 2008


I just watched Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey again. In the news clips at the end, there's one that says:

Reaper Wins Indy 500: "I didn't know I could run that fast."

Cracks me up every time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where Else Would I Stick My Cold Feet?


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

My favorite is the statement, "Puts her cold feet on husband at night to warm them." I'm assuming that's a point against me?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


If I haven't told you already, I absolutely adore Sigur Ros and one of my all-time-most-favorite music videos is the one for "Hoppipolla":

Now, Tim goes and shows me that some crazy person hellbent on slaying the world with way too much nostalgic cute HAS GONE AND MADE A VIDEO FOR HOPPIPOLLA USING CLIPS FROM MILO & OTIS OMG IT'S GOING TO KILLLLLL MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!:

So, I had to share this. Because it's just too out of control to keep to myself. I didn't know whether to smile until my face fell off or cry, so I did a little of both. THAT LITTLE PUG IS JUST SO DAMNED HEROIC!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go barf a rainbow.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sweater Bunny and Friends

I don't know if this is weird. I have a small collection of pictures of animals in sweaters. For a while I was posting these little by little on my friend Tim's Myspace, but then I got rid of Myspace and no longer had anywhere to post my sweater animals. Then I realized, I have a blog! So, there is no substance to this post...pretty much like most of my posts. It's just a fun little scroll-through of my sweater animal collection, plus some other fun pictures that I have amassed from the internet. Enjoy!

The original Sweater Bunny, the one that started it all (for me, anyway).

I don't have many dogs. Dogs in sweaters are pretty common.

(This one is weird...what's in the sleeve?)

Not a sweater, but still so cute!

The majority of my collection is cats. Awwww.

A squirrel...

A llama...

I've even got an aardvark.


The following are not animals in sweaters, they're just cute pictures:


From xkcd:

And this one isn't cute so much as very odd. A guy I know took this picture a couple months ago. Please notice the street sign in the background and then realize that this was taken at the corner of Enterprise Road and McMullen Booth Road and if you were from my home town, that would mean something.