Monday, March 31, 2008

Les sciences: killer black holes, plastinated squid

While at work I have to peruse the internet for science news to post to our web site. Sometimes it's fun. The first of these articles won't make it onto our site, but the latter did!

"Two men are pursuing a lawsuit to stop scientists from using a giant particle accelerator, saying it could create a black hole that might eat up the Earth." (NYTimes)

"Paris' latest star is no damp squid." (AFP) [It's an article about the world's first plasticized giant squid. C'mon.]

Sex, the City, Whoring, and Abstinence

Yesterday and today two NYT articles have riled me up, and, hey, guess what, they're about sex! These women are basically polar opposites, and I don't understand either one.

The first was about Julia Allison (AKA Julia Baugher), whom I tangentially knew at Georgetown when she wrote the "Sex on the Hilltop" column for The Hoya and I was at The Voice. Whom I knew when she plagiarized from iVillage for the Hoya (a detail that's missing from her Wikipedia entry and the NYT story). And then when she subsequently was asked to leave and tried to get a gig with us, the rival paper. So, I take issue with Julia on many levels, which I sum up as being based on her lack of ethics and self-awareness and surfeit of pink vapidity. As for the article itself...three pages and a video feature devoted to how Julia is the new Carrie Bradshaw? Really? (And to nitpick, the comparison has been made before.) I was also horrified that they would mention her and Edith Wharton in the same article.

I discussed the article with several Georgetown friends, one of whom noted a subtle tone of mockery, particularly in the line "Ms. Allison says with no hint of self-consciousness." A good point, and something I was too blinded by annoyance to pick up on. Bottom line for me, though, is that I'd wish they'd just stop talking about her. She feeds off it.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is a story in the magazine about an abstinence activist. I respect anyone's choice not to have sex. That is not the issue. The main issue, for me, is how they try to play it off as being ultimately feminist. It makes sense on the basic level of "I'm going to decide what to do with my body--I'm making a choice".... but you don't have to be asexual to be a strong woman. Abstaining from sex does NOT mean "Women Reclaim Self-Respect." That logic is just off. What, any woman who has sex doesn't hold herself in high regard? Another issue is how having any sex at all suddenly means you are promiscuous. Guess what? It is possible to satisfy your desires without being an egomaniac or self-hating doormat.

Friday, March 28, 2008


I've never expected the Lehigh Valley, lovely as it can be, to be a bastion of open mindedness. Then I read this NYT article about the all-white Bethlehem school board that turned down a Hispanic candidate, and this quote just made me say a big "ugh" :
"We certainly need diversity,” said Johanna Bees, a Republican committeewoman who spoke outside the city library. “But the school board had to consider qualifications first.” Ms. Bees paused and then added: “One of my gripes is that all these people should learn English. When they’re walking on the street and they’re jabbering in Spanish, it really annoys me." (emphasis added)
The guy in question, Mr. Torres Cordero, is a "lawyer, parent, community activist and trained practitioner of conflict resolution."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Les français, hnhnhn

Apparently the NY Times bureau chief in Paris is retiring, and she decided to write a "Guide to the French." This kind of article amuses me. It's sort of self-indulgent, but lord knows I have made lists like this in my head. I just don't get to publish them in the NYT...

First, I'd just like to say that the article's top photo is ridiculous (in an oddly great kind of way). S'true that French people love meat--they serve cow tongue here at the embassy cafeteria! Next, their translation of what Sarkozy says to the dude who refuses to shake his hand is lame. He calls him con! A common but still vulgar word. And I'd like to point out that I have succeeded in returning (two!) things to French stores.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Supahmodels, supah cupcakes

Thanks to Project Runway, Lost, and Make Me a Supermodel, I have ended up spending a fair amount of time in front of my TV on Wednesday and Thursday nights for the past few months. (I counterbalance by watching Jeopardy! Pretty sure I'm the only viewer under 40.)

Anyway, worlds collided last night when PR winner Christian showed up on the Make Me a Supermodel. They are both on Bravo, so I guess a real bizarro meeting would be Christian with Jack and Sawyer. Anyway, I was happy! Christian made this fun, floofy dress for the only girl left on the show. Plus Naomi Assault Campbell showed up! And, in the photo shoot, the annoying dude, Perry, looked sort of like a busted, vampire Jared Leto. (RIP Jordan Catalano.)

In other important news, I'm gonna make some super cupcakes tonight for my housemate T's birthday. Chocolate with lime icing, which happens to be my favorite combo offered at Cakelove. Except this way we don't have to pay $3 a cupcake! Zing.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Have mercy? Class?

So some big news in France right now is about the death of Chantal Sébire, who had esthesioneuroblastoma. These facial tumors seriously disfigured her face, which, in addition to the general awfulness that I imagine any terminal illness causes, would make anyone miserable. On Monday, she was refused medications to end her life, and she basically just said she'd find another way. Now she's dead.

There's an interesting difference in the French (e.g. Le Monde) v. American obits: the former show a photo of her before she became ill, and the latter, CNN, shows her near the end of her days. Let's just say there's a major shock factor. I guess the difference is that the French press has been following her story for a bit, so people have already seen pictures of her with crazy bulging eyes, etc.... but CNN's choices is pretty classless. Of course you're curious what the woman looks like, because, wow, I have never seen anything like it...but don't put it in the obituary! Or at least put both photos, because, you know, she was still human.

(An Australian news site ran a big, recent photo of her, but that was back in February, when she was still fighting the gouvernement and her tumors.)


I just want to thank Ms. KW for giving me a slice of chocolate babka. I have been talking about wanting babka for months, really, and I thought it was getting too close to warm months to find any. (That and I was too lazy to make any - it takes hoursss - and too cheap to pay $12 for a small loaf at Marvelous Market.) So this weekend, I am passing on chocolate eggs and Easter and having me some babka and a Purim party. I can get behind almost any holiday based around boisterousness, costumes, and a strong lady.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Paper and patience

A week or so ago I finished the papercut on the left. As with most of my projects, I'm not actually sure how long it took, because I zoned out. At any rate, I worked on it over several days because my fingers got tired. It's all one piece, all still attached. The paper is a page from an Walther Petri's children's book Humbug ist eine Bahnstation, which I picked for a few dollars on one of Second Story Books outdoor tables. This page has two short poems about twins named Fritz and Klaus and how each can be distinguished from the other. (The top part says that people often get them confused, and then another part that's no longer legible explains that they have different addresses. Cute.)

Fittingly enough, I got the idea from the German craft of scherenschnitte, although the one I did isn't as symmetrical as typical ones would be. My dad, actually, was the one who first taught me the word, and we have a framed piece at home of an animal pile similar to this one. I'm realizing this makes me feel so Pennsylvanian. (Totally unrelated to paper, but I love how that Wikipedia entry references Shangy's. Beeeer.)

This is a birthday card I made fer Zoa H. using a page from the same book. This time, obviously, the black paper is on top.

I'm still waiting for my Rob Ryan tile to get here. Woo..

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Don't evah need to worry

You've probably seen it, but...I chose the "Don't you evah" moniker largely because of this guy. Britt may have swagger, but give me Keepon any day. (Because I have a soft spot for ridiculous blobs?)

Random roundup

* The winner on Jeopardy! (regular Jeopardy!, not a dumbed-down, younger version) last night was college senior Kristina Caffrey. She beat a nondescript middle-aged man and a smiley, Bible-knowledgeable woman...

* My brother got a job with the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows. I'm going to assume they're a lot better than Teach for America (jerks).

* He's kind of a big deal.

* The NYT reports that I shouldn't expect eternal fidelity from a guy (without or without his eyesight) or a shrike. Thanks, Spitzer. I did like this excerpt about dung beetles from the
Times article:
In one experiment with postmatrimonial scarabs, the female beetle was kept tethered in the vicinity of her mate, who quickly seized the opportunity to pheromonally broadcast for fresh faces. Upon being released from bondage, the female dashed over and knocked the male flat on his back. 'She’d roll him right into the ball of dung,' Dr. Barash said, 'which seemed altogether appropriate.'

Monday, March 17, 2008


Welcome to my first solo adventure in blogging. The goal here will be to spout off about handmade things, be they crafts or pies. On the left, that's a key lime pie I made about two weeks ago, in anticipation of warmer weather.

I will try my best to remain focused, but my mind tends to wander. I imagine there will be more than a few digressions about working among Frenchies, watching TV (model shows, 30 Rock) and attempting to have plants grow/thrive. FYI: So far I've succeeded in germinating some Nemophila, which, despite having a name that makes me think of corpse lovers and blood diseases, is a charming little flowering plant. For now it's like an inch tall.