Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We're all screwed!

The Washington Post has a piece up about the food industry's efforts to remove BPA--the nasty, cancer-causing plastics recently removed from Nalgene and Sigg water bottles--from canned foods. Upon reading an article on BPA in canned tomatoes, I decided to stop buying them altogether. But it looks like the food industry has a much bigger problem on its hands: it just can't figure out where the BPA is coming from?

Major U.S. foodmakers are quietly investigating how to rid their containers of Bisphenol A, a chemical under scrutiny by federal regulators concerned about links to a range of health problems, including reproductive disorders and cancer.

But they are discovering how complicated it is to remove the chemical, which is in the epoxy linings of nearly every metal can on supermarket shelves and leaches into foods such as soup, liquid baby formula and soda. It is a goal that is taking years to reach, costing millions and proving surprisingly elusive.[...]

"What we're hearing is, the stuff is just omnipresent."

Only spray-on glass can save us now.

april hates u, makes lilacs, u no can has.

LOLcat meets "The Wasteland." And, as often, I wonder whether to dance or despair. God bless the internet.


Whoever has been Googling "bitter knife-wielding children," you've got the wrong blog.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Note to my future students:

If ever you apply to a university that allows you to supply a Youtube supplemental video as part of your application package, make sure it implies that you will spend your time in college more or less going to class and being a good member of the academic community--not just throwing raves on campus.

You're welcome.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dead Prez

My favorite thing on the entire internet. Happy Presidents' Day:

Grover is our president now.

It is international Grover Appreciation Day. Why not?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Put it on my Christmas list

I need this:

If you’ve ever experienced composting in action, you may know that things can get pretty hot when microbes meet organic material. So what if there was a way to capture all that heat and use it to warm up a cozy little space? Tokyo based architects Bakoko have come up with a circular pod-shaped teahouse that does just that by harnessing temperatures in excess of 120°F that are generated by compost. The designers are taking a simple, biological process and turning it into a viable (and free) way to heat small public spaces like the traditional garden teahouses found all throughout Japan.

Up up, down down, left right, left right, BA BA, START!

After trashing video games the other day, I learned a little bit about the collector's world of console video games. Apparently there's some serious money in ultra-rare video games. Here are the top 10 most desirable games, including the holy grail, the Nintendo World Championship Gold Edition, only 26 of which were ever produced.

Paper trail

The right-wing is clamoring to elaborate a set of principles that will guide it to electoral victory in 2012. And in good, palingenetic fashion, each casts itself as a founding document of a new movement. Behold the right-wing intellectuals’ “Mount Vernon Statement,” the Tea Party’s “the Contract From America,” and Gingrich’s “new Contract With America." Just like the Constitution, only nobody agrees on any of them.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Video Games: A Personal Hell

As someone who played endless hours of video games a kid, I have grown up to be someone who wishes I hadn't. No offense to people who like games, but it's just not my idea of fun anymore, especially in social settings (damn the Wii).

But I did get a little excited during when, during the Super Bowl, I saw an ad for a video game based on Dante's Inferno. Not that I really want to play it, or that I expect it satisfy my literary expectations. But, from my nerdy PhD standpoint, it seems cool nonetheless.

So I was a little disappointed by the NYT review of it:

It should be clear by now that the story in the game has almost nothing to do with the story of the poem. There is no reason this game could not be set in any of the hundreds or thousands of generic hells that have hosted video games over the years. What Electronic Arts has done, quite transparently, is appropriate Dante’s brand to use as a light marketing skin on top of the God of War clone the company so clearly wanted to make.

And so images of Virgil spout lines from the poem at you once in a while, and Dante’s ranged weapon appears as crosses of light, but there is no heavy religious imagery and never any real sense of horror or torment. There are, however, a lot of bare female breasts. There is even a giant Cleopatra demon who spurts knife-wielding unbaptized children out of her nipples.

I can't tell whether to be disappointed that the game takes little more than its name from Dante, or to be excited that it features Cleopatra shooting "knife-wielding unbaptized children out of her nipples."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chelsea Hotel No. 2

Paul Baribeau covering Leonard Cohen. Beautiful.

Paul Baribeau - Chelsea Hotel No. 2 from If You Make It on Vimeo.

the race card

The NAACP scorecard came out today, and it doesn't look good for the Republicans:

– All Senate Republicans got an F but two (Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Maine — they got C’s)

– All Senate Democrats and Independents got A’s, B’s or Incompletes

– Senator Arlen Specter, R-to-D-Penn., got a B

– All House Republicans but 6 got an F — 5 of those 6 got D’s — 1 got a C: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.

– House Republicans scored the lowest of an sub group.

– All BUT 23 House Democrats got A’s, B’s or Incompletes

– All Congressman who scored a 100% were Democrats

– Of the CBC Members ALL but 2 got A’s, Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., who is moderating his stances in prep for a gubernatorial run, got a B.

Of course, this both matters and doesn't matter. It matters because the votes that these lawmakers cast have real effects. It's shameful to get an F on the question of civil rights. But in terms of "politics," these scorecards don't matter in the least. The democrats are not capable of introducing this kind of information into their narrative. This will pass the Republicans by. They will go on as always with their D's and F's and still probably get a sizable vote from minorities.

Thank goodness for laws

Men At Work, the awesome 80s band from Australia, has been found guilty of plagiarizing "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." I'm not kidding.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Men at Work’s No.1 hit Down Under reproduced a “substantial part” of the children’s folk tune Kookaburra Sits In the Old Gum Tree , infringing copyright in the song, a Federal Court judge found today…Larrikin Music, which owns the copyright to the song Kookaburra , is now entitled to recover damages – potentially a huge sum – from band members and their record company….Larrikin alleged that the band’s famous flute riff came from the children’s tune, written in 1934 by school teacher Marion Sinclair.
Via The Daily Swarm, who includes videos.

I find the similarity to be pretty minimal, a couple notes at best. In fact, there's really no need for a flute in this song at all. It's not like they ripped off the chorus.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Autopsy results released this morning in the death of Memphis musician Jay Reatard reveal that he died from “cocaine toxicity, and that alcohol was a contributing factor in his death,” according to Shelby County Medical Examiner Dr. Karen E. Chancellor.
This doesn't exactly surprise me, but it doesn't really make me feel great either.

Via The Daily Swarm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Word of the Day

vagazzle: look it up. (Or don't, because it's depressing.)

Bonzo Goes to Hawaii

Oh, the perils of deification: Ronald Reagan could not pass the new Republican purity tests.

Republicans love hallowing Ronald Reagan’s name. Too bad they know so little about the guy.

Last week in Hawaii, the Republican National Committee almost passed a resolution named after the Gipper. “Whereas President Ronald Reagan believed that the Republican Party should support and espouse conservative principles and public policies,” it declared, only candidates who complied with eight of 10 “Reaganite” principles would be eligible for party funds.

And what were those principles, exactly? No. 1—according to the resolution—was “smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes.” Let’s take those from the top. Smaller government: Federal employment grew by 61,000 during Reagan’s presidency—in part because Reagan created a whole new cabinet department, the department of veterans affairs. (Under Bill Clinton, by contrast, federal employment dropped by 373,000). Smaller deficits and debt: Both nearly tripled on Reagan’s watch. Lower taxes: Although Reagan muscled through a major tax cut in 1981, he followed up by raising taxes in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1986. In 1983, in fact, he not only raised payroll taxes; he raised them to pay for Social Security and Medicare. Let’s put this in language today’s tea-baggers can understand: Reagan raised taxes to pay for government-run health care.

Then there’s plank number five: Reaganite candidates must “oppos[e] amnesty for illegal immigrants.” Really? Because if you look up the word “amnesty” in Black’s Law Dictionary, you’ll find a reference to the 1986 bill that Reagan signed, which ended up granting amnesty to 2.7 million illegal immigrants.

Let's not pretend that the Party doesn't already know this. The point isn't what Reagan did then but what he can do now.

Via HuffPo.

body consciousness

You say a person is warm and likable, as opposed to cold and standoffish? In one recent study at Yale, researchers divided 41 college students into two groups and casually asked the members of Group A to hold a cup of hot coffee, those in Group B to hold iced coffee. The students were then ushered into a testing room and asked to evaluate the personality of an imaginary individual based on a packet of information.

Students who had recently been cradling the warm beverage were far likelier to judge the fictitious character as warm and friendly than were those who had held the iced coffee.

More on embodied cognition and the way our body "thinks."

Conclusion: write a "weighty" dissertation.