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If Mario were "Maria" and Peach and Toadstool were pretty little princelings, it would probably look something like this. Genderswaps for the win.

Bruce E. Levine offers persuasive and frightening reasons why young Americans don't fight back. This is a must-read.

Rick Perry, like many conservatives, is impervious to facts. And it makes him look like an idiot. But, sadly, no one is going to mind much.

A bunch of Belgian fans taunted Japanese goalkeeper Kawashima Eiji (who plays for Lierse S.K.) by chanting "Fukushima" at him, proving that Belgians can be unprecedented dicks, too. Or maybe it's just something about football fans? Or sports fans in general? Or people? Anyway, this is pretty up-there on my list of things that I find totally vile. As Kawashima rightly noted: it's not remotely funny.
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There's been a lot of buzz about the (extremely) recent debt deal development. Here are a couple of my favorite responses to, or breakdowns of, the situation.

Ezra Klein, "Winners and Losers: Policy Edition"
Angry Black Bitch, "There are winners and then there are the rest of us..."

And my very favorite-est response:
Paul Krugman, "Barack Obama, Comedian"
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The Infinity Burial Project "proposes alternatives for the postmortem body that promote and facilitate an individual engagement with the process of decomposition." Be sure to check out their mushroom death suit.

The architecture of stunt work is as-yet unrealized, but well-worth pursuing. The idea of constructing architecture around so-called "narratives" of daily (or not-so daily) life can often result in impractical or overly-whimsical patterns, but then again it can result in some seriously awesome stuff. And the world needs stunt schools.

The University of the Michigan's Center for Japanese Studies Electronic Publications has a bunch of old book available online. Subject matter is varied, but you never know when something's going to come in handy, and hey, free!

A Tae Bo class in Korea, working out in perfect resonant frequencies, caused a 39-story skyscraper to shake. No joke.

This just in: Al Franken is still a badass. This time he's stumping for the repeal of DOMA. I love that guy.

Orchestra culture appears to be as jaded and dumbed down as anything else in America. Ho hum.
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NASA's Hubble telescope has discovered that Pluto has a fourth moon. Go on with your bad self, Pluto.

Illustrations from the golden age of artillery.

A traditional Japanese tea ceremony has been held at the memorial site of the USS Arizona for the victims of Pearl Harbor. The ceremony to honor the souls of the dead was a joint effort undertaken in the spirit of peace and reconciliation--something that the recent ugliness surrounding the Women's World Cup demonstrates we are still very much in need of.

Thandie Newton is a beautiful woman, inside and out.

An astonishing story from The New York Times: Nearly ten years ago, Mark Anthony Stroman--acting in response to the events of 9/11--shot three men he believed were Arabs; two of them died. One of them, Rais Bhuiyan, who was partially blinded and disfigured by the attack, is fighting to help Stroman achieve a stay of execution. The article includes statements from both men, which are harrowing at the same time that they are remarkable.

It's tempting, in a situation like this, to lay blame solely at the feet of individuals, without really thinking about the effects of environment upon their actions. But the reality is that we live in a country with a rapidly dumbing population; a population that is fed fear and religious zeal and a sense of entitlement from infancy to acts of adulthood. I'm inspired by Mr. Bhuiyan's attempts here to make a point about the need for greater discourse between people of all classes and creeds; about the need for thought ahead of retributive action. I hope he succeeds.
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Fantastical illustrations by Edmund Dulac. 'Nuff said.

Paul Krugman poses some intriguing questions about why Italy and Japan have vastly different interest rates despite carrying roughly the same amount of global debt. Thus far there seems to be no consensus on this issue, but it's an interesting one.

The end of this Sinfest comic makes me really sad. I don't like to see tsukumogami suffer.

File this under "wtf." A woman has been arrested for sexually assaulting a TSA agent. Yeah, you heard right. At this point no one seems to understand why this happened, and the perpetrator is keeping mum. She'll probably turn out to have had a screw loose, but for now its interesting to speculate.

Dear Sugar. One of the best advice columns ever. On hiatus until August 4th, but the backlog is totally worth perusing.

The Dawn Spacecraft has entered orbit around asteroid Vesta, the first of two destinations the spacecraft will travel to as part of its fact-finding mission. This project is intended to the lay the groundwork for future human space exploration missions, which is just too fucking cool.
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Caryn Rivadeneira over at ThinkChristian talks about things that Christians can appreciate about the Slutwalk trend. She suggests that violence against women can occur no matter what a woman wears (and not as a result of it) and that ending said violence is a moral imperative that all Christians should advocate for. That's my kind of believer.

At the same time, John McWhorter over at The Root thinks people should stop using the Bible to justify homophobia. After all, he notes, it used to be used to justify racism, and we've managed to move on from that. (For the most part, in my opinion. At the very least, it's harder to get away with using the Bible in such a way in public. Privately, I think a lot of that kind of nonsense still goes on.)

After fifteen-plus years in production, Pixar is finally putting out a film with a female as the main protagonist. And about darn time, too. (Note: don't bother throwing Elastigirl, or Jessie, or Dory at me. I said "main" protagonist.)

The Art Newspaper explores the question of whether or not the release of Ai Weiwei means that the Chinese government is easing up on its policy against dissent. And the answer is no.

Wanna learn the history of English in ten minutes? It's a lot of fun. (Watch out for that guy with the axe!)

Linda Holmes breaks down the recent furor over the Oxford University PR department's decision to do away with the Oxford comma. Holmes does a really good job of explaining why the Oxford comma makes sentences so much cleaner and clearer by its presence, and also of embodying the silly attachment that all of us language nerds have to peculiar pieces of grammar while pointing out just how not silly attachment to Oxford commas is. I'm an Oxford comma girl, myself, you know. In fact, they can have my Oxford commas when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers. 'Nuff said.

Ezra Klein on Amazon's bad sales tax behavior. I imagine a lot of the fuss could be solved if states just got around to passing laws that imposed sales tax for products being purchases by people in their state. Let's see Amazon decide never to sell anything to California because they don't want to pay sales tax.

Evolutionary biologist Mark Chengizi thinks that the wrinkles that develop on wet hands are our body's natural attempt to increase grip capabilities in inclement weather.

Only in Japan will you see a tv commercial wherein businessman sing about the woes of summertime itchy-crotch syndrome.
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Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been released on bail, although this was likely motivated only by the upcoming plans for the celebration of the Chinese Communist Party's 90th anniversary. It is doubtful that Ai's difficulties with the government are over.

Jay Smooth knocks it out of the park with a fantastic video blog on the nature of media dependency and celebrity death culture.

Krugman takes on the realities of life expectancy in the US. Turns out it doesn't pay to be a woman in the Appalachians or parts of the Deep South. What a fucking surprise.

Awesome Battlestar Galactica toys from back in the day are awesome.


Jun. 19th, 2011 02:08 pm
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Julie Klausner deplores the latest trend of women-as-little-girl and laments its pervasiveness throughout all areas of pop culture.

In connection with the above, Tami associates said trend with Zooey Deschanel and wonders if this trend is race/class specific. Is there a black Deschanel or a latina Deschanel? she wonders. Or is the girly-kitten movement irrevocably tied to middle-class whiteness?

(In a related note, I just bought a romper the other day and I look adorable in it. But I would never claim to like "rainbows, Girl Scout cookies, and laughing a lot" on an online dating site. I'm more of an "ice cold beer, splatter-gore comedies, and mismatched socks" kind of gal. Oh, and I love quantum physics, though I do admit that math is hard for me. Man, identity is hard.)

All Things Considers takes a look at how the college horror story is back. Apparently, worries over whether or not college is worth it have circulated ever since the first major post-college recession of the 1970s. Also apparently, college is, in fact, totally worth it.

Clarence Clemons, saxophone player extraordinaire, has died. RIP Big Man.
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Sega is developing an interactive video game that measures one's ability to pee. Only in Japan, yo.

The fabulous George Takei talks Star Trek, Broadway, gay rights, and more! I <3 him so much.

Ezra Klein points out that we should all stop worrying about Mitt Romney's inability to tell jokes and start worrying about the fact that his grasp of economics is fucked up.

Shirley Sherrod isn't going away, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

The Art Newspaper takes a look at how the Arab Spring is impacting patronage in the art world.

A new study finds that the ability to reason developed not to enable actual thinking but to win arguments with other people. I expect a new study will soon find that no one with any sense is surprised by this.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY is currently showing the works of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. The exhibit explores the art of grotesque fashion, which are two of my favorite things. I am definitely going to see this next month when I drop in the for the annual Japan Cuts film festival.
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Need another reason to dislike Rick Santorum? Here's one: he's a damn, dirty hypocrite.

A new study finds that American students know less about their own history than any other subject. All in all, only "20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam" that was recently administered nationwide. So not only are Americans particularly bad at knowing their own history, but that knowledge declines as they get closer and closer to the voting age. Explains a lot, don't you think?

An oldie, but a goodie: Ms Magazine interviews Feminist Hulk. Do you guys follow Feminist Hulk on twitter? Because if you don't, you damn well should.

Jay Smooth calls LeBron James out for drawing our attention to the fact that, at the end of the day, sports really don't matter.

Artist Anish Kapoor has rejected plans to exhibit in China. His decision stems from his disapproval of the Chinese government's detention of artist Ai Weiwei, and--frankly--I wish more people in the art world would follow his cue. We have no business doing anything that supports China's arts program right now; doing so (through exhibition exchanges, art auctions, and what-have-you) is completely farcical.

Artist Shea Hembrey discusses how he staged an international art show of 100 artists who were all himself.

Stanley Fish explores the new field of Geo Humanities and suggests that the development of new intertextual discourse between (socially) theoretical and scientific fields demonstrates the power and influence of the humanities long after many people suggested that it was a dead field.


Jun. 12th, 2011 01:10 pm
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Jessica DelBalzo presents her abortion experiences: why she needed it, how she did it, what it was like, and why--even now--she considers it one of the best decision of her life and something that made her sincerely happy.

Krugman presents some graphs on the cost differences of private healthcare and medicare, pointing out that people who suggest we make a major shift from public to private should be ashamed of themselves.

Sherman Alexie writes beautifully of the transformative power of honest and even brutal young adult fiction, aptly defending YA fiction from those would say that young adults are too young for intense fiction. (And, in fairness, here's the article he was responding to, which offers the other side of the argument and is worth a look--if for no other reason than to get a list of books to read. ;> )

I want this hoodie.


Jun. 3rd, 2011 03:08 pm
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US farmers and food processors are not required by law to test for deadly strains of the E.Coli bacteria. I don't know about you, but that makes me seriously concerned. People who think federal regulation is a bad thing are morons.

If nothing else could make you believe that we need to raise the debt limit, Sarah Palin's belief that we don't need to do that ought to do it. Failure to raise the debt ceiling limit will result in a default that has the potential to send our country into Third World status. And these people are holding it hostage so they can fire teachers, defund public health programs, and keep taxes on rich people and corporations low. I can think of a lot of things we could do with these people, and let me tell you--election ain't one of them.

The Venice Biennale is setting up a Pirate camp for select artists to stay in and produce installation art for the opening of the show. The collective piece is intended to be a commentary on the nomadic lifestyle of the contemporary artist.

Japanese woodblock prints from the collection of the University of Pittsburgh.

The Anthony Weiner situation is kind of funny. But it's also an interesting case study into the dangers (either foreign or domestic) of too much social media networking.

Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul is a sexist jerk. Not that that really matters, I suppose, in the grand scheme of art. Lots of artists are, or have been, sexist jerks. Still, his comments are yet another piece of the puzzle that reveals something really sad about our society.

But fear not, there's still Septuagenarian porn to keep the madness of the globalized society at bay. Only in Japan, yo.
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In what has to be the biggest "duh" in the history of duhs an official global report has found not just that the War on Drugs has failed, but that it has had devastating consequences for the world community. And I say unto you: "Duh."

Feministing provides links to two new blogsites that challenge the idea that we live in a post-racial or post-sexist society. Click on the link and check out I'm not racist but... and I'm not sexist but... for glimpses of the ongoing racism and sexism that is subtly rampant in the global culture.

The judge of the Australian Sir John Sulman Prize for subject, genre, or mural painting apparently decided the fate of the finalists with a coin toss. And he's not sorry he did it either. Some people are up in arms about it, but I think it's an interesting statement about the nature of competition in the realm of the subjective. Because if you think about it, one man's opinion is as arbitrary as a coin toss.

What the million-mark sales of Lady Gaga's latest album mean to the future of the recording industry.

The SF Giants totally rule:

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Fish lovers beware! Illegal fishing and poor regulation mean that that red snapper you think you're eating might actually be rockfish (and that's not all).

Ezra Klein had some questions for Paul Ryan, and Paul Ryan actually responded. Kinda. (Krugman wasn't impressed.)

Lest we forget that sexism swings both ways, AlterNet brings us five stupid, unfair, and sexist things that are expected of men.

Making fun of Sarah Palin never seems to get old. It also never seems to fail to make me sad somehow.

Looking at pictures of awesome people hanging out is cool apparently. I'm actually not sure what I think of it, although I'm tempted to find it silly and strangely uninteresting. Besides not all of the cool people who are hanging out seem that happy to have had their special moment captured in celluloid, so that brings up the ugly specter of the drawbacks of celebrity culture.

From Feministing: "Make no mistake, while there are plenty of well meaning people who call themselves pro-life, there’s nothing "pro-life" about the radical anti-choice movement. This movement repeatedly incites violence against providers. They are waging a war against those who try to peacefully offer legal, vital medical care." 'Nuff said.

TV on the Radio on World Cafe! (Also 'nuff said, but in a good way this time.)

The brilliant and inspiring Shirin Neshat gives a TED talk about the power and responsibility of producing art in exile. Be sure to check it!
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Terry Moore explains that we've all been tying our shoes wrong for years in a vintage talk from TED.

In a peculiar study men, rather than women, are found to benefit the most from cultural outings like art museums and the theater. Meanwhile, women's health and happiness was improved by sporting events and church attendance. Which might explain why I will, apparently, never be happy. I enjoy the periodic ball game, but I'll be caught dead before I go to church. I demand a re-study.

Scientists have found untold numbers of rogue gas giant planets throughout the Milky Way Galaxy and are now hypothesizing that said gas giants--with their amazing asteroid trapping abilities--might be responsible for the relative peace that the smaller, more interior, rocky planets (like ours!) enjoy. Yay for gas giants!

Krugman talks about the looming possibility that we may be heading for a third depression. This type of stuff seriously freaks me out, but I feel honor-bound to share it. Heads in the sand won't help us here.

A scathing look at the myth of "post-racial-ness" from Feministing. The reality of race in the US is another thing that people have got to get their goddamn heads out of the sand about.

Eddie Vedder turns to the ukelele on his newest solo album. And you can listen to it in its entirety until its May 31st release. (FYI: Eddie's cover of "Dream a Little Dream" is particularly sweet.)
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NASA + Art = Awesome. The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum is hosting an exhibition of NASA-inspired art. Works by such artists as Annie Lebowitz, Alexander Calder, and Andy Warhol (to name but a few) will be featured. The show runs from May 28 to October 9 and is free to the public.

NPR's "All Songs Considered" explores [electronic] dance fever in its latest online broadcast. A must-listen for all those who like to shake their booties.

In other music news, blogger Kismet Nuñez discusses how Beyonce's latest single "Run the World (Girls)" broke the Internet and more importantly what the breakage and its cause means to feminist discourse.

Democrat Kathy Hochul has won the special election for a congressional seat in a traditionally Republican New York district. The outcome of this election will now be characterized as either a referendum on Republican health care policy--specifically the backlash against the Ryan Plan--or a demonstration of how the Tea Party movement is to the Republicans what the Green Party movement has been to the Democrats: namely, a vote-killer. Tea Party candidate Jack Davis took a whopping 9% of the vote, and that 9% might arguably have gone to the Republican nominee in his absence. I really wish someone would do a rundown of numbers over the course of this contest to try and get at more nuanced determination of how the Ryan Plan and the Tea Party actually impacted on this election. And if I see one, you can bet you will too.

Eric Cantor continues to show off his repugnant side. (You all remember his role in the censorship of the Hide/Seek exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, I hope.) He's latest despicable act is the holding hostage of relief aid for Joplin, Missouri in exchange for cuts in federal spending. Now I recognize that some spending cuts are necessary, although they must be implemented in tandem with tax increases--something that Cantor and his party vehemently oppose--but using the pain and suffering of thousands as cudgel to push this kind of legislation through is deplorable. And I really, really hope that the Angry Black Bitch isn't the only one to call him out on it before this is all over.

Goodnight, Sweet Prince. NASA is ceasing its attempts to communicate with the Martian Rover Spirit, whose last transmission home occurred in March. Spirit's original mission was intended to last only three months, but his determination pushed him on through years of vital exploration endeavors across the Martian landscape. He will be missed.

You just can't beat schlock horror films, or their LOLariously awesome jacket art. (I really, really want to see Lurking Fear. And Night of the Demon, too, because its about Bigfoot!)

Obacchi Jacket Lunch Box shows us how to make a bento box look like the cover to Phoenix's "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix." Fun for the whole family.
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House Democrats are urging the appointment of Elizabeth Warren as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during Congressional recess. This is because Republicans have vowed to block any nomination to the position unless the bureau's powers are weakened. Such an appointment might be seen as underhanded or hypocritical, but when you consider the stakes it seems like a worthwhile cause.

And it's not like the Republicans never stoop to underhanded or hypocritical tactics. Take their reversal of policy opinion during the hearing on the nomination of Goodwin Liu. In 2005, many Republican senators went on the warpath about the evils of denying a judge nomination through filibuster. In 2011, those same senators denied a judge nomination through filibuster. I hate politics.

Determining the value of assorted college degrees. Now in handy chart form.

The Angry Black Bitch gives us the lowdown on who she'd like to see get raptured. It comforts me to know that someone else in the world has been fantasizing about how awesome it would be if certain folks just up and disappeared after tomorrow.

But fantasizing isn't all The Rapture is good for, apparently. It's also good for tearing families apart. In classic parent vs. child sibling vs. sibling style, the believers and the non-believers have been clashing in a big way on the family stage ever since this nonsense got started. Belief in the Rapture generally just seems funny, but when you realize that there are children out there living with parents who tell them "Sorry, but you're not going to be saved. Have a fun end the world while I'm in heaven..." Somehow it doesn't seem that funny anymore.
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Yarn-bombing for the win!

Cornel West disses Obama. Various bloggers weigh in on what that means for race issues, politics, and the Obama campaign.

Sociological Images takes on the notion of what makes a body obscene in their examination of Barnes & Noble's (and Borders') censorship of the cover of Dossier magazine--which shows a gender-neutral shirtless male model on the cover. (The horror!)
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Ezra Klein points out the fallacy of the taxes hurt economic growth claim.

Paul Krugman details the how the Ryan plan turns on the expectation that the elderly only care about themselves.

A Japanese man from Aomori Prefecture has kept an illustrated diary of his life for 56 years. And it's beautiful.

Women still struggle to crack the glass ceiling of the art world. Here's how far behind they are.

In an unsurprising turn of events, a new report (funded almost exclusively by the Catholic Church) finds that it was the sexual revolution that is to blame for child abuse in the Catholic Church. This is conveniently in line with what Church leaders have always claimed, that it is the new-found social order that the Church opposes and not the Church itself that is to blame for these heinous acts. I could say a whole lot about this, but I'm going to save myself the elevated blood pressure. After all, it's not as if I believe that any other religious organization is actually any better. I have, as has been amply demonstrated in the past, a serious problem with pretty much all religions. (Although I am down for spirituality and religion-free belief systems, if that makes sense.)
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Because the world is just so interesting.

Cibo Matto return! (And it's about darn time.)

Ezra Klein talks to Robert Rubin about the difference between the 1995 and 2011 debt ceiling crises.

Jeffrey Goldberg calls the NY Times out on their deplorable coverage of rape cases, and specifically points out some of the ethical questions involved in journalistic treatments of this particular crime.

An interview with the incomparable Stephen Hawking. More personal than scientific, but cool nonetheless.

Murder ballads have always been interesting, especially when you consider the gender-weighting that typically goes on in them. Murder ballads performed by women are therefore even more interesting.

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