Monday, August 15, 2011

Its Politics Time!

I can't believe how long its been since I've been able to use this blog as unfettered liberal propaganda during an election cycle!! But its that time, again, folks, and there are some great characters out there in the republican party* for me to quote and comment on. I'm pretty darn excited!

Today, I'll join the ranks of everyone else on the internet to talk a little bit about Michele Bachmann the Minnesota congresswoman who is running for president and who won the Ames Straw poll in Iowa over the weekend. Here's a short round up of good commentary on Bachmann from the past couple months:

Jezebel had a great short piece this week on how Bachmann's win at the Straw poll pretty much guarantees she won't be president, including this great little nugget, "before you find yourself having nightmares about her delivering the State of the Union, take heart in the fact that the Ames Straw Poll often means approximately shit."

In June, Think Progress gathered a great selection of examples in "10 of the Craziest Things Michele Bachmann Has Ever Said" such as a warning the "The Lion King" was gay propaganda, or when she likened the war in Iraq to visiting the Mall of America. Some real gems in there. Think Progress also posted a list that same month of Bachmanns Top 10 Attacks on the LGBT Community that includes simply devasting quotes about how telling a child about homosexuality is child abuse. Seriously. Is this really a person who should lead our nation?

I'll post more about Bachmann and the rest of the presidential candidates over the next year and a half. This is just an appetizer!

*I'd like to make it clear that its not necessarily Republicans that I have such a problem with, its any one who specifically campaigns on the promise to take away the rights and freedoms other other Americans, any one who encourages and supports descrimination, people who don't believe that protecting the environment is worth their energy, and those who think the rich deserve more breaks and special favors then the poor. So, no offense to Republicans who do not fall into those categories!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Is it Crevice or Crevass?

There is a crevice between my pressboard counter-top and my aging, sloping gas stove into which I constantly drop bits of food that are impossible to retrieve.

A blueberry muffin flavored frosted mini wheat.
A c-shaped sliver of fresh green pepper.
A single piece of wheat bread, slathered in mustard.

I’ve come to think of this crevice as a metaphor.

Some days, the lost food item is a metaphor for acceptance – a reminder to accept the things I cannot change and …whatever the rest of that inspirational phrase is.

As I watch a portion of my meal disappear into the darkness, I think to myself, "what will be, will be." As that rogue piece of aged white cheddar takes flight from the blade of my knife in the direction of the black hole of snack foods I know it will be lost – I find myself feeling thankfulness. I am thankful for the remainder of the cheese left on my 6x8inch yellow cutting board.

I realize that there is some sacrifice coupled with all pleasure.

As I feel this realization, I can feel the Catholic indoctrination of my youth flexing its muscles. I ask myself, “Do I really think that sacrifice is unavoidable??” That’s weird.

Other days, when I’m feeling less positive or less at peace, the crevice is more enemy than it is teacher. I’m sure it’s punishing me, or trying to push me over the edge. Taking from me. Inspiring me to fear a a future odor that might radiate from its depths.

I don’t know how such a small opening can consume so many perishables. It’s like there is a magnet in there intent on destroying me.

When I move away from this apartment, I hope no one checks the crevice for remnants of my residence. I can’t imagine that whatever beast the primordial crevice ooze has created can have good intentions.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Found A Horcrux

It’s so late in the Harry Potter game that even I have read all the books, so I'm not even going to bother protecting you people from spoilers.

In HP 7.1 our young wizards find themselves on the most challenging journey of their sheltered-from-public-high-school-devastation-but-not-from-constant-life-and-death-struggles adolescence. They are seeking a series of horcruxes - a portion of a person's soul which has been split, by committing the act of murder, and stored inside an object to ensure immortality. They are seeking these soul pieces from the original bad-ass Lord Voldemort (a word that I am truly shocked my mobile blogging device doesn't recognize!) and, since he's super evil, his soul slivers are equally as nasty.

When one of the horcruxes is found it must be destroyed to bring V one step closer to death. But they aren't easy to destroy, so, in HP 7.1, Harry, Ron and Hermione are carrying around this locket they know is a horcrux but they aren't able to destroy. For safe keeping, they take turns wearing the locket, but it becomes clear rather fast that the locket effects the behavior of the wearer, inducing anger, distrust, and general bad vibes. The others have to be on the lookout for these effects so they can relieve the horcrux protector of his/her duties for a bit and rid them of the negative emotions that come with the job.

Now that everybody is clear what a horcrux is, and how it effects someone who possesses one, I'll start from the beginning again.

I found a horcrux.

Its the extremely talented Adele's sophomore album entitled 21. Now, I'm not saying that this powerfully voiced Brit killed anyone to create this horcrux. She is, after all, a mere muggle - I think - but there is without a doubt a piece of this woman's soul stored inside this album. Which is impressive unto itself because I'm not totally sure what kind of Steve Job’s computer jargonese you'd have to master to convert the mythical human soul into binary and upload it onto iTunes.

The album is melodic, passionate, powerful and soulful (pun intended). The lyrics mostly describe lost love, broken hearts, and reminiscence. Overall, it is an honest, beautiful, enchanting, impressive bummer of an album.

Like the young and fearless wizards of the Harry Potter series, I did not know the affect of the horcrux. I heard through the social media grapevine that the album was not to be missed and eventually I broke down and downloaded it.

I like to listen to an album on repeat for a while to really get a feel for individual songs and also how the artist weaves them together to create an overall message, emotion or theme - one time through just wont get you that much of a sense. But after a 3 or so hours of listening to 21 on a Saturday morning, I found my usually busy-bodied weekend self sprawled out on my tiny love seat, holding a sleeping cat, staring off into the middle distance, wondering if I was happy.

Is my job good enough for me? Should I have moved back to Chicago? Does my girlfriend love me? Near tears, I posted on Facebook that I was laying around, listening to Adele and feeling down.

Within moments there were multiple responses to my post - encouraging me to slowly step away from the Adele. I mournfully pried myself from my sedentary state, and changed my Adele iTunes playlist to a Justin Timberlake medley.

Immediately, the sun came out, the birds started chirping, and my heart was suddenly light. The good feelings about my job, my life, and my girlfriend came rushing back. The somber cloud that had enveloped me was lifted.

Once out of my melancholy, I was able to lucidly reflect on what had happened, and to realize that the horcrux’s strength was far greater than my own. In true Harry Potter fashion I would have been required to destroy the album, perhaps with the venom of a basilisk, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

The album is just too damn good.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"First Bird" Competition Heats Up

Fossil freaks are chatting up and down the Internet this week about a "new" fossil that will potentially shake up how we view the history of dinosaurs/avian-dinosaurs/birds. Readers might know that in addition to being a dino-gal, I have a very specific affection for Archaeopteryx, pictured right, the current holder of the "First bird" title, which it has boasted for 150 years.

Might Archaeopteryx be usurped as Urvogel ("Original Bird" or "First Bird") by this new fossil, Xiaotingia (pictured below)? Maybe. Maybe not. Researchers are agreeing that the fossil may change the way we see this evolutionary process, but it also might be a fluke, or a minor change of course. The "new family tree is statistically weak," says Xing Xu, the fossil's identifier/promoter/manager, and these things are usually theoretical for a long time before anything is "proven" - if it ever is.

It is amazing that we are uncovering the history of our Earth every day. Our knowledge of what came before us is and should be constantly changing -evolving- or our intelligence and knowledge is wasted. With each new fossil we learn more about where all of these amazing life forms came from, and where they are going. Where we are going.

The new fossil doesn't change the fact that birds evolved from dinosaurs, and doesn't eliminate Archaeopteryx's huge role in supporting Darwin's theory of evolution, and demonstrating that what we know is not what always was. Darwin told us that life forms are constantly evolving, that the relatives of species took on different forms in the past - and Archaeopteryx still shows us either a bird with teeth, or a dinosaur with feathers - or something beautiful in between, whether or not it loses its place at the base of the evolutionary tree branch.

For more about the battle of the birds check out these two great articles at NYT and iO9.