October 31, 2007

Classic Fall Football

On Wednesday, I had the chance to sit back with a bowl of chips and enjoy an entire football (soccer) game. That was a real treat. The game was the Rome derby, Lazio vs. Roma. Here are the highlights from a game last weekend that turned out to be one of the year's best so far: Liverpool and Arsenal.

The Old School

The other night, I had a dream that I went to pick up someone from my old high school. When I walked up to the building, I started to recognize some of the students at the school. These kids were the same ones that I went to school with and were wearing the same things. It was almost as if I had gone back in time.

The weird thing was that dream was able to dig up the memories of people that my conscious mind had long forgotten. It makes me realize that a lot of memory must be buried deep in my mind waiting for something like a dream to let it out.

October 29, 2007

Gandalf the Grey/Gay

Ian Mckellan was on the late show a few weeks back. (A heads up: in this context, the term catholic has nothing to do with the religion but instead means wide ranging)

You rock Mr. Mckellan (or is it Sir Mckellan?). First of all, your observation about sexual tension in morning shows was spot on. Second, way to freak out the squares of Singapore by unabashedly acknowledging your own sexuality. Third, thanks for rocking the suit jacket and t-shirt combo. That is the height of style! And people thought that it was a big deal that Dumbledore was gay.

October 25, 2007

Boon to the Toon

I hereby nominate for the catagory of best TV intro ever...

Asheru for "The Boondocks"

October 23, 2007

Instant Message

I'm going to take a minute to plug my favorite new instant messaging program for macs - Adium

It's a universal IM client that's fully customizable. and it's free.

October 22, 2007

Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi is one of the greatest comic book writers of this generation. As far as I'm concerned, her works "Persepolis" and Persepolis II" belong in the canon of comics right next to Art Speigleman's Pulitzer prize winning "MAUS." Both works are strongly autobiographical and are about daily life during turbulent times.

I'm bringing this up now because Persepolis has been turned into a movie. This clip's in French so let me just describe the end of the clip for those nonfrancophones. The old ladies are harassing little Marjane because she's wearing western devil culture in the form of a punk jacket and pop music pin. She escapes punishment by pretending that Micheal Jackson is Malcolm X.

Finally, a comic by someone other than Frank Miller will be accurately translated into film. I can't wait to see it.

Marjane is essentially the opposite of Frank. She kicks ass. Here's the beginning of an interview that she did in the New York Times Magazine:

Interviewer: You’ve just turned your acclaimed series of graphic novels into a full-length animated film, “Persepolis,” an oddly charming tale about the brutal subject of growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. Would you still describe yourself mainly as a graphic novelist?

Marjane: I don’t very much like this term of graphic novel. I think they made up this term for the bourgeoisie not to be scared of comics.

That's the polite equivalent of giving the New York Times the finger. Here's how she ends the interview:

Interviewer: In the end, there will be just one country left that allows smoking, for all the nonquitters in the world.

Marjane: Yes, and I will go there. Smoking kills you, but life kills you, and if you don’t want to die, go into a freezer when you are born and nothing will happen to you.

October 18, 2007

Jesus H Shark

I've been standing on a chair frantically watching the ground like a frightened school girl since I saw this last clip.

That shot is 100% real and comes from the BBC documentary, "Planet Earth." The video is so clear because the whole series was shot in HD. They literally went to the ends of the earth to get cool rarely seen footage.

October 16, 2007

We Met the Mighty British

Gore Vidal is fond of saying that we live in the United States of Amnesia. Studs Turkel has corrected Vidal by saying that things are far worse than that: we live in the United States of Alzheimer's. For evidence of this, we need go no farther than Canada.

One doesn't get to watch a Canadian being pompous very often.

The War of 1812 huh? I would guess that about 30% of Americans have a clue of what that was other than that it was some kind of war that occurred around 1812 or so. Of those people, probably half know little more than a song about how Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans. Another famous song to come from that war was the Star Spangled Banner.

As it turns out, the war started when the US declared war on the English and promptly invaded Canada. Wave after wave of invading forces was somehow repulsed by the outnumbered Canadians. I'm pretty sure that their success came because of the support of Benedict Arnold's ghost and maybe some gargoyles. The war ended when the US basically got tired of fighting and declared peace. Weeks after peace was declared, Jackson marched on New Orleans and won his famous victory over the British.

To be fair, the Americans did have some legitimate grievances against the British. The English had placed various trade restrictions on American cargo because of their war with France. American sailors were being conscripted into the English navy. Oh, and worst of all, the English were helping the Native Americans to defend themselves against US expansionism. Those BASTARDS! Regardless of the "legitimate grievances" the US claimed led to war, I'm pretty sure that the peace treaty didn't resolve any issues that couldn't have been smooth over by a little diplomacy in the first place. Also, in defense of Jackson, he apparently wasn't aware that a peace treaty had been signed when he attacked the Big Easy.

Point is, the war was basically a fairly unsuccessful attempt at territorial expansion by the US. It did have a huge impact on establishing the national identity of the United States which previously thought of itself as merely a united group of separate states. Some scholars (I'm referring mainly to Walter Borneman's book "1812: The War that Forged a Nation") even say that this tension between the states and the new national identity established by the War of 1812 led directly to the Civil War.

Journalism in the Age of Technology

I have it on good authority that many journalists these days whine incessantly about how the internet and other forms of modern technology is going to ruin the profession. They should take a page from this clip.

That's more exciting than most newscasts I've seen lately.

(via the onion)

October 15, 2007

Students Study Their Own Class

We all know how institutions are supposed to work. Prisons punish/rehabilitate criminals, hospitals care for the sick, and schools educate. Yet, when we look more closely at how these aspects of our society actually function, we often find them fufilling other roles instead. That's one of the ways that anthropology and sociology are useful.

In that vein, here's a video that was made through the collaboration of an Intro to Cultural Anthro class at Kansas State University.

These students and their teacher Michael Wesch did an internal ethnography of their own class. To an outside observer, the world of the undergraduate does not look like one built for its stated intention of learning job skills. I remember when my anthro teacher said only half jokingly to my class, "You didn't come to this school to learn. You came to make sure that you don't marry outside your social class."

And as far as I know, none of us did.

(video via neatorama)

October 9, 2007

More Fun with Funding

That earlier SCHIP post inspired me to make this motivational poster.

This was made using an easy motivational poster engine.

As a quick aside, I've seen a large number of articles disputing that income from the lottery makes much of a difference in school budgets.

(photo, "Watching the dice" by Arthur Rothstein via american memory)

October 8, 2007

Cat Health Update

Several enemas and a manual evacuation under general anesthesia later, my cat is doing fine. Special thanks to everyone at MSU's Small Animal Clinic.

(photo via Washington State University's Veterinary Image Database)

October 5, 2007

Toast Your Child's Health

I'm hoping that SCHIP passes so that every time I smoke a cigarette I can whisper to myself, "this one's for the children".

The new SCHIP will pay for an expansion of children's health coverage by taxing cigarettes.

(photo of Willard R. Cooke smoking via the National Library of Medicine)

October 4, 2007

Poor Vinnie

My cat's not feeling so well. Sarah spent a long time with him at the vet today. The good news is that he doesn't have kidney problems and hasn't swallowed any buttons.

If you want to wish my cat well, wish him this:

"Please, vinnie, shit like crazy tonight so that you don't need to go to the vets for an enema tomorrow. I know how traveling and strangers make you miserable."

October 3, 2007

Bear Stuntman

I know what you're thinking: How many different ways can a bear get himself into some kind of hilarious physical predicament that will amuse millions of people with internet access? Although we may never have a definitive numerical the answer to that question, we do know that it just got higher a few weeks ago when a bear was found clinging to the bottom of bridge 80 feet above the ground.

So, how the hell did the bear get there? It's funny you should ask. Apparently, the bear was crossing the bridge on foot when it two cars came barreling down the road. And if you know this particular bear you know that it wasn't about to be just another statistic like a chump. No, sir. In what I can only imagine in slow motion with a 360 degree pan, the bear desperately leaped off the bridge narrowly avoiding a speeding vehicle then twisted in midair to grab the edge of a concrete arch and then dragged himself up onto the ledge.

Don't worry; the bear turned out to be fine thanks to some human ingenuity. On the other hand, the bear was forced to spend over 24 hours on the ledge thanks to some human ineptitude which you can read me blathering about if you like.

I may not be a big Hollywood exec but if I were I'd be shoveling money into that bear's mouth in order to get him into an action movie produced by my company. And, if that didn't work I'd try shoveling honey or fish or whatever else might be convincing to bears. Alls I know is that that caniform is box office gold. I would call it something like "Not So Gentle Ben." Jesus, Hollywood! Do I have to do your whole damn job for you?

The worst part of the episode is the puns that that are coming fast and furious from the news agencies who are describing the whole situation. The bear avoided a "grizzly" end (MSN). The "bare necessities" of saving a bear's life were a pole and a net (Daily Mail). I'll spare you more ugliness and stop now. It's like there's a journalistic pun quota for these wacky offbeat or human interest stories. To sum up:

bear's role in the story = heroic and amusing
humans' role in the story = embarrassing

October 1, 2007

Who Represents You?

The other day, my friend and fellow blogster, Recon, told me that he was excited about the upcoming primary vote because as a brand new American citizen he hadn't experienced the process yet. So, I've been inspired to post some basic info for him and anyone else who might be interested about voting in America.

First up, find out who represents you at the state and federal level. The easiest way to find out on the web is through Congress.org's quick search. Just type in your zip code and away you go. You really should at least recognize the names that come up. If you don't, take the time to learn them.

Visualizing Mobius Transformations

Here's a video about how the relationship of the Riemann sphere to Mobius Transformations.

It's these kinds of equivalencies that always made math fun for me. The problems come when I try to start working out the algebraic relations. Never was so good at that.