Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nietzsche's Food for Thought

You know we're in a bad economic situation when you can quote Nietzsche:

"Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter."

Maybe the Onion can offer an explanation for "Why...why is that man carrying a bindle," as the Nation Instinctively Forms Breadline.

Let's Play Snarking Validation

Clearly, this video says something about my intelligence :o) Yes, I did just use an emoticon following a statement about intelligence. Jealous?



Also, thanks to Roody, I have been enjoying the works of Dog Hates ME and explodingdog...the following, in particular, created a morning guffaw:


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shrove Tuesday is Delicious



Happy Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day! Jesse and I will be feasting and celebrating at St. Alban's tonight, should anyone care to join!

Washington on the Brazos Revived?

When Jesse and I left Washington in a U-Haul headed for Waco, it felt like the end of an era. Little did we realize that it would open the flood gates for the rest of Washington displaced Texans to follow..."barely a month into the Obama administration, even the proudest Texans must admit: The days of Lone Star Power are over. "

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oscars, a Grouch No More

Since Jesse and I have relinquished cable for free digital HD antenna TV (read: rooftop's essential accessory), my choices of programming have diminished significantly. That being said, it was an excellent excuse to watch the Oscars last night! I read several articles on Friday claiming that this year's Oscars would be a shake up due to the severe loss in ratings over the past couple of years - a kind of last chance for the awards ceremony. And my curiousity got the best of me...without further ado, I give my review:

Oscars, get out of that trash can - welcome to the non-garbage world! You have shed your grouchy, excruciatingly boring can for a compelling, entertaining show (in comparison to previous years).

The Good:

1. The Stage: the orchestra was taken out of the pit and placed on stage (reminiscent of Big Band Era night clubs) - this put the audience right in front of the stage creating an intimate relationship with the audience

2. The Music: the theme of the entire night seemed to center on the history of the Oscars and it's previous award winners - which effectively created a sense of prestige. We all revel in the classic winners of the past, but often have a hard time connecting these classics to today's winners (as they have yet had the opportunity to become classics). The music at this year's Oscars effectively connected the past with the present through inventive rearrangements of classic scores (such as a swing-style version of Lawrence of Arabia and an upbeat Moon River).

3. The Opening Act: it was silly, light-hearted, and most of all...FUN! Hugh Jackman put on a short, but sweet musical number highlighting each of the major films being honored at the Awards - much better and more engaging (due to the stage set up) than a dry monologue or comedy roast routine.

4. The Timing: it seemed like the producers of the show finally had a realistic view of how long each act, acceptance speech, etc. would take. The show was not rushed, nor did it drag on. At only one time did the dreaded "music" start to play.

5. The Presenters for Top Awards: I loved the montages of previous award winners and then having 5 of the winners announce the 5 nominees, with a detailed/pathos speech about each and their nominated roles.

The Bad, and The Ugly:

1. The Red Carpet: in one word...awkward chaos. The annoucers (who seemed generally uncomfortable) asked odd questions and the flip flop between announcers was disjointed.

2. The "Half-Time" Show: total weirdness. The combination of Beyonce, Hugh Jackman, High School musical stars, and top hats was awkward...especially at the end when Hugh shouted, "The musical is back!" His tone seemed to say "This isn't a threat, it's a promise." Creepy.

3. The Over-Abundance of WALL-E: don't get me wrong, I loved the movie too. But, ABC/Disney really took advantage of the show by stuffing WALL-E and High School Musical down our throats. Free advertising gimic...Gag.

Overall, the Oscars were a classy affair - bravo!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ray, a drop of golden dumb

Even as a conservative, I am for green technology incentives. I also understand that our transportation/highway infrastructure is outdated (Eisenhower outdated). However, I don't think that replacing the gas tax with a miles-traveled tax, as proposed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (former R representative from Illinois), is the solution. In fact, I think that it is down-right unfair - especially for western states such as Texas.

A. It is not uncommon to have to drive 20 miles or more to a grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, sometimes even a neighbor, etc.
B. We don't have the option to hop on the Subway to work/anywhere local. And building mass transit in Texas is expensive due to how spread out everything is, plus the general high cost associated with building on pre-existing infrastructure.
C. How do they plan to install "global satellite positioning technology, a transponder, a clock and other equipment to record how many miles a vehicle was driven, whether it was driven on highways or secondary roads, and even whether it was driven during peak traffic periods or off-peak hours" into every vehicle? How much would it cost?

Now, the one good I can see coming from this is encouraging more people to live closer to their work (to minimize their commuted miles). And I am all for the reduction of exurbs. However, I feel like the gas tax/high gas prices also helped with relocation. This new suggestion seems to hurt the incentive to buy hybrid/more energy efficient cars.

300 Reasons to Make Spoofs

I know. It is pretty amazing that we can STILL laugh about 300 (great movie, btw). Here are just few spoofs to rock your Friday morning:

1. From Lore Sjoberg's Bad Gods...

2.

3.

4.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Procrastinators Unite!

Here are 3 sites to distract you from whatever you are doing...warning: do not open these links unless you want to be completely absorbed. You're welcome.

1. Our Dumb World
This conglomeration of "mind-expanding factoids about the lesser, conquerable nations of the Earth" comes from theonion.com.

2. Academic Earth
As described by a Slate.com article, "A few months ago, Academic Earth, a startup founded by a young Yale graduate named Richard Ludlow, began collecting these videos and packaging them into full-length courses. The result is a geeky procrastinator's dream...It's like Hulu for nerds."

3. Newseum's Front Page Map
Props to Anna for finding this one - it's a worldwide interactive map of snapshots from daily newspapers' front pages.

Why So Serious?

President Obama has recently announced his plan for a $275 Billion Housing Bailout...let's recap:

Saving the bank industry, $700 Billion
Saving the auto-industry, $25 Billion
"Stimulating" the economy, $787 Billion
Now saving the housing market for $275 Billion?

We've been observing this trend for months now...and it finally makes sense.

People of Gotham, The Joker has us fooled. He's got us right where he wants us...on the brink of economic disaster, world nuclear war, and religious discord. And I have proof - the signs are everywhere, like he's just been waiting for someone to figure out his evil scheme. Well, Joker, no longer will you be a wild card to society, but removed from the deck completely - mwahahahaha. Please observe exhibit A (I found this chart today on WSJ.com in the above linked article):


Now take a closer look:


Yeah. That's messed up. He is clearly mocking us and our economic woes. So, what can we do about this situation? Who can save us now? Batman? No! I say we fight smile with smile. And what's more deadly than an orphan in a red hat? Nothing, absolutely nothing. That's right Joker - it's on.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Schmorgasbank Schmorgasborg

Really? Do we really want our banking system to be modeled after the SWEDES?! Also, bravo to Lindsey Graham for making a conversation about banks awkward:

“You should not get caught up on a word [nationalisation],” he told the Financial Times in an interview. “I would argue that we cannot be ideologically a little bit pregnant. It doesn’t matter what you call it, but we can’t keep on funding these zombie banks [without gaining public control]. That’s what the Japanese did.”

Noteworthy Music (yuck, yuck)

Inspired by a recent senor (goo, where are the ene's? you can't even spell ene w/o an ~) Tapp post, I wanted to create a list of current favorite albums (however, these often change on a day-to-day basis). In no particular order/numbered just to keep track (yuck, yuck):

1. Black Holes & Revelations - Muse
2. Get Behind Me Satan - White Stripes
3. Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
4. Oh No - OK Go
5. Hot Fuss - The Killers
6. Strawberry Weed - Caesars
7. These Streets - Paulo Nutini
8. Breakfast at Tiffany's - Barney Kessel
9. Symphony #5 in C Sharp Minor - Gustav Mahler
10. Trumpet Works - Sergei Nakarjakov
11. Chase - Bill Chase
12. Greatest Hits - Heart
13. Mermaid Avenue - Billy Bragg & Wilco
14. The Shepherd's Dog - Iron & Wine
15. Comfort Eagle - Cake
16. 2 - Darker My Love
17. The Black Ghosts - The Black Ghosts
18. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below - OutKast
19. Sugarbaby - Morningwood (EP)
20. Weezer - Weezer (Blue Album)
21. Grandes Exitos - Shakira
22. Spark Large - Marching Band
23. Side by Side - AM & Various Artists
24. Abbey Road - The Beatles
25. En el bar - Nicho Hinojosa
26. In Between Dreams - Jack Johnson
27. The Essential Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash
28. Dave Brubeck's Greatest Hits - Dave Brubeck
29. 19 - ADELE
30. Evita
31. Moulin Rouge Soundtrack
32. Silly Songs with Larry - Veggie Tales
33. Speak for Yourself - Imogen Heap
34. Ta-Dah - Scissor Sisters
35. Frank Sinatra - the man is bigger than 1 album
36. This is Henry Mancini - Henry Mancini
37. Aha Shake Heartbreak - Kings of Leon
38. Three Days - Pat Green
39. Classic Queen - Queen
40. Nacho Libre - Soundtrack
41. Sky Blue Sky - Wilco
42. The Loon - Tapes & Tapes
43. Foiled - Blue October
44. Illinoise - Sufjan Stevens
45. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
46. Rhapsody in Blue/An American in Paris - Gershwin
47. 1812 Overture - Tchaikovsky
48. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - The Flaming Lips
49. Singles - Travis
50. Feed the Animals - Girl Talk

*PS - I am probably forgetting some, so I might add a few here and there. When available, I linked to Amazon.com snipets of favorite songs. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy...and Mindful

Many of us take happiness for granted - either it's just not our lot in life or we provide illusions of happiness (placating through materialism, smiling at work, etc.). So, what does it mean to be happy, how can we achieve it, and what affect does happiness have on society's general well-being? Arthur Brooks argues, "the key to happiness, and the difference between happy and unhappy Americans, is a life that reflects values and practices like faith, hard work, marriage, charity, and freedom."

Also, many argue that mindfulness plays a significant role in happiness. In our digital world of ever-rushing multi-tasking, have we become mindless zombies (see post 1)? After taking this quiz, I might have have to agree. Hopefully, Ben Franklin won't zombify to the tune of thriller...that would be terrifying and go against Arthur Brook's theory that our founders believed in happiness as an inalienable right...wait a tick! InALIENable right?! It all makes sense now. Happiness is an alien.

Special Issue: For the Love of Valentine's Day

Since I missed posting on the ridiculousness of Valentine's Day, I wanted to revisit this crazy thing called love with 3 interesting articles:

1. An Affair Of the Head: They Say Love Is All About Brain Chemistry. Will You Be Dopamine?
This article by Neely Tucker in the Washington Post, describes how "It's all about dopamine, baby, this One Great True Love, this passionate thing we'd burn down the house and blow up the car and drive from Houston to Orlando just to taste on the tip of the tongue."

2. The man behind St. Valentine's Day
Written by the illustrious Eric Wilson, this article explains how "The patron saint of young people, lovers, happy marriages, beekeepers, and greeting card manufacturers (really!), St. Valentine was a Roman priest and martyr 'who after having cured and instructed many persons was beaten with clubs and beheaded' under the reign of Emperor Claudius around the year 269." Sooooo romantic!

3. Scientists Agree: It's in His Kiss
Wired.com indulges in why "
Over 90 percent of human society engages in what, if you get right down to it, seems like a very strange thing to do: putting faces together and trading spit."

I, personally, take all of my love advice from Tracy Jordon - "Tell her you want her to donate her body to science, and you science." What every woman wants to hear...or you could just go to Starbucks.

Obama Rhetoric: A Self Fulfilling Economic Prophecy?

Or preparing for the worst/hoping for the best? Politicians often try to skew the public/media's view of situations, but is Obama's Great Depression analogy intended to make the stimulus bill's success seem even greater or it's failure seem inevitable? Tricksie. Well, I feel like Ernest in this troll of an economy, either way.

Billy Mays, the Music Man


Salesman on train
: How far you going, friend?
Harold Hill: Wherever the people are as green as the money... friend.

Oh, Billy Mays! Why are we townsfolk so swayed to buy your products? What do we find so compelling about your commercials? Is it your Oak Ridge Boys beard or your almost-shouting voice? Thank goodness someone is making parodies of your salesmanship, otherwise I would buy mighty putty:

Real Commercial
Mighty Putty
Kaboom
Oxiclean Detergent Ball

Inappropriate Parodies
Mighty Putty
Kaboom
OxiClean Detergent Ball

Friday, February 13, 2009

Um, Like, Get Married at Baylor...


...Say I do from Baylor Lariat on Vimeo.

A $787 Billion Roman Holiday














Just in time for Nancy's whirl-wind European tour, the House passed the Stimulus bill. Fun facts about the bill:

- Zero Republican "Yeas"
- 7 Democrat "Nays"
- Language in the bill was not released until 11pm last night
- Dems broke promise to not vote on the bill until 48 hrs after release of language
- Oh, and it costs $787 BILLION

I feel like this is a Master Card (which is ironic in light of the credit crisis) commercial gone wrong:

Saving the bank industry, $700 Billion
Saving the auto-industry, $25 Billion
"Stimulating" the economy, $787 Billion
Falling down the Congressional Rabbit Hole....priceless or just terrifying?

*BTW: Total spent thus far = $1 Trillion, 512 Billion

Don't Mess With Texas

Dear Mexico,



Love,
Texas

As Mexico's border violence between the government and drug cartels increases, Texas is bringing out the big guns (literally) and abandoning the fence in preparation for the worst:

"Worst-case scenario, Mexico becomes the Western hemisphere's equivalent of Somalia, with mass violence, mass chaos," said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank. "That would clearly require a military response from the United States."

Of course, it could be worse:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Darwin and Lincoln



I bet he never expected anthropomorphizing mice. Now that's some natural selection, Darwin. Thanks to Roody for finding this interesting article: education v. evolution/religion!

*Also, I found this food-for-thought article on American.com: Why We Still Argue About Darwin (And Why We Should)

DC celebrated Lincoln's B-Day by opening Ford's Theatre...that's right, we're keeping that place where you died alive, Lincoln.

Thomas Pain's Common Cents

Nothing's official until tomorrow, but Congress has reached an agreement about the Stimulus Bill. With these outrageous sums floating around, Dr. Evil may need to raise his bid to "One Bigillion dollars." Also, I don't think it's a good sign when money is put in a waterfall graph:

Vision Boards



Apparently, if you cut out pictures from magazines and paste them onto poster board, all of your dreams can come true - as long as you stare at them long enough. It's a great message for the youth of America: no need going to school or working to achieve your dreams, everything you need to know you learned in Kindergarten (that being cut/paste skills). And we can use vision boards to help immigrants integrate into American Society - it's key in achieving the American Dream (see below).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Thought I Came to Plumb













Jesse and I stumbled upon Jose Emroca Flores' art in the DVD extras of King of Kong and have been fans ever since! This is exactly what Mario would think if he were called to a place of business..."I thought I came to plumb, but turns out I have to extinguish a barell-throwing guerrilla in an epic battle - who knew?"

Oh Baylor!

I can't/won't say a word (except, look out Dan Harper!):

Wedding sickness not so abnormal

IM Speak

I acknowledge and generally appreciate that language is directly affected by culture/society (and arguably vice-versa). Just within the last half a century, our jargon has evolved from "swell" (50's Stepford Wives) to "groovy" (Hippies) to "cool" to "rad" and so on...So, what does IM speak say about our current world? My answer: laziness. Do acronyms such as LOL, LMAO, and BRB really save us time or do we use these as cop-out auto-responses? Also, I have observed a disturbing trend of shortening adjectives (on a college campus) to create a "new" word - unfortunately, the remainder of the word makes no sense. For example:

jel = jealous
gorge = gorgeous
vom = vomit
totes or totals = totally
presh = precious

Next stop: "The Totes Awesome IM of the UK Lang." Who reads books anyways?

PS - This Wired.com article title is a little over-dramatic "Ravenous Clock Runs Backward, Scares Children"


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thank You Barry Much Franklin...

Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but liberals and unpaid taxes. I love the irony...the new NIMBY. This is why the creators of Babar named the elephant's nemesis Lord Rataxes (he probably "forgot" to pay his taxes for a driver, housekeeper, or illegal substance too).

Twitter Me This: Conundrum or Enigma?

If only this was a joke...Does anyone really want to know when my washing machine is on the spin cycle? Are we entering A Brave New World of incessant Tweets? If so, can we sub in Presidential Tweets (Decade of Doom and Gloom) for Presidential Press Conferences? If we are entering the dark ages, at least let me temporarily experience happiness by watching How I Met Your Mother.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Attention Deficit Disorder or Ayo Technology?


As this is my first blog post/a bleep of existence in the technology sphere, I think it is appropriate to discuss digital distraction. A Wired article from Friday, titled "Digital Overload Is Frying Our Brains," argues that we are becoming a distracted society lacking the ability to think due to the omnipresence of technology. So is technology stressing us out or making life easier? Is it creating more questions with each answer? Are we going to start seeing Public Service Announcements alerting us to the brain damage dangers of technology?

Oh, wait. What? I totally just got distracted. Eggs sound delicious...can technology make me eggs?