Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh, That'll Help

Lynne Featherstone, the Equalities Minister in the new British government, has denounced societal pressures that make most women think they should have the bodies of anorexic-thin fashion models.

Her solution? All woman should aspire to look like Christina Hendricks.

The most staggering thing about this article is that Featherstone's comments are possibly not the most stupid quoted in it. Her idiocy has a rival in the remarks of Los Angeles television critic Mary McNamara, who said,

"When Joan first showed up on American TV, she turned the beauty ideal on its ear, reminding everyone that generous curves were once considered sexy..."

Yeah, because before Mad Men, the American male never gave thin women with large breasts a second glance....

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Week in Food

For Germany, it's one disappointment after another: first they didn't win the World Cup and now this.

Cheer up: you've got the last laugh on all those bartenders who called you a sick freak whenever you asked for a beer served in a dead squirrel.

What's the key to successful diplomacy? Mangoes.

If you notice a sharp increase in the price of chocolate, take it up with Anthony Ward.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Writing Songs for Pigs"

As if musical theater couldn't get any more terrifying: Elton John wants to set George Orwell to music--specifically, Animal Farm, that heartwarming allegory of the rise of Stalinism.

I can imagine some of the songs already: "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad," sung in unison by all the cast, and the long heartbreaking solo number, "They're Taking Boxer to the Knackers."

I suppose I should be thankful that it's not 1984 (I can hear the closing chorus: "I Love Big Brotherrrrrr").

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Quote of the Week

"We laid the ground rules - that any research we did, we would have to take total control of the data, transparency and the freedom to make those data available to other scientists and subject to peer review. They left and we never heard back from them."

Bobb Shipp of the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama, reporting his response to BP when they asked for his assistance developing a restoration plan for the Gulf of Mexico. Full story here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's the Silly Season, Part 2

I was getting worried. It had been almost a week since Rand Paul said anything racist, callous or merely insane. Obviously someone had gotten to him. He probably hired a PR firm that told him not to say anything crazy. But then there was this interview with National Review:

Paul says he is trying to “nibble around the edges,” to “not be the person who says he will eliminate every department in the federal government. My dad freely will say that, that he would eliminate at least half of the departments, but he is just more forthright.”

There's something I really love about this. He's acknowledging his positions are unpopular, and radical, so he's admitting outright in an interview that he's simply not going to say what his positions are anymore. That's some fancy footwork there, Paul.

I think this campaign is going to continue to be fun.

Now on to another Senate race: Democrats are excited that Harry Reid has a seven-point lead over Sharron Angle. I'm not so sure this is something to break out the champagne about.

Sharron Angle has said if a woman gets pregnant from being raped it's part of God's plan. She's against water fluoridation. She wants to ban alcohol (I guess she doesn't want Las Vegas votes).

And Harry Reid is leading by only seven points? How insane does a candidate have to be before American voters turn against them en masse? And how bad a campaigner is Harry Reid if a seven-point lead is the best he can do against a complete lunatic?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Week in Food

You want cupcakes? Boy, have we got cupcakes.

Take your food processor, toss in one egg, add 19 slices of uncured bacon, and pre-heat your broiler: it's the birth of the bacon burger (with video!).

It's great the Michelle Obama wants to make school lunches healthier, but the kids just want to know, will they still taste like crap?

Months of experiments, consultations, and $400,000 Canadian dollars later, a project to make astronaut food comes up with...beef jerky.

Mmmmm....camel milk.

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's the Silly Season....

...and there's not much happening on the political front. Congress is in recess, so there's even less work being done there than usual. The Gulf oil spill is more of same. And the economic news is a) bad or b) tells you nothing.

So news junkies like me are getting our fix watching the Congressional races. And the Kentucky Senate race is a gift from the gods. The Republican candidate is Rand Paul, son of complete nutcase libertarian icon Ron Paul. Where shall I begin?

In the race he's been touting his professional experience as a physician (an ophthalmologist, specifically) to make the case that he would be an informed legislator on health care issues. From his campaign website:

As a doctor I have had first-hand experience with the vast problems facing health care in America. Like other areas of the economy where the federal government wields its heavy hand, health care is over-regulated and in need of serious market reforms. As Senator, I would ensure that real free market principles are applied to fix this problem.

Now what's interesting about Rand Paul's professional standing is that he has claimed to be a "board-certified" ophthalmologist. But he is not certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology, which is the only organization recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify ophthalmologists. Paul is instead certified by the National Board of Ophthalmology, which he himself founded in 1999. He is also its current president.

Perhaps having competing ophthalmology certification boards is one of his "free-market" solutions to health care problems.

And it gets better: he seems to be in favor of allowing private businesses to act as if Jim Crow laws were still in force. However, he did backpedal on that after the backlash. Racism is uncool in 21st-century America. Who knew?

And as if he hadn't learned anything from that little lesson in the perils of political tone deafness, he stuck up for BP, and now he's been saying to America's poor, you're not so bad off.

And now, political genius that he is, he's told the people of a state with a huge farming sector that he's against agricultural subsidies.

Where do the Republicans find these people?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

America's Finest at Work

Last weekend Bibi Netanyahu and his entourage flew across the Atlantic for yesterday's lovefest with Obama, and a funny thing happened on the way to the Rose Garden. His bodyguards checked the case containing their Glocks with security at La Guardia, and then boarded an American Eagle flight for D.C.

The bodyguards got to Washington. Their guns didn't.

American Airlines employees found the case, sans guns, at the L.A. airport Tuesday afternoon.

In any case, what's a foreign head of state doing traveling via commercial flight? Or if Netanyahu wasn't on that plane, traveling separately from his bodyguards?

Monday, July 5, 2010

America's Finest at Work

From the New York Times:
The federal agency charged with protecting endangered species like the brown pelican and the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle signed off on the Minerals Management Service’s conclusion that deepwater drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico posed no significant risk to wildlife....

I suppose it depends by what one means by "significant." The hypothetical oil spills the MMS had in mind were anywhere from 1,000 to 15,000 barrels. I'm curious to know how they arrived at this range. The Exxon Valdez wreck spilled over a quarter of million barrels. And that's just a tanker: a vessel with a known, finite quantity of oil--not a well, which one assumes could provide far more oil than could go into a single tanker.

In any case, the MMS concluded that the comparatively modest spills in their projects posed a 27% percent risk of reaching the habitat of endangered animals.

I am wondering how many MMS employees (or Fish & Wildlife Service employees) would be willing to move to a neighborhood in which under certain circumstances the odds were slightly more than 1 in 4 that they would be mugged?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Makes Sense to Me

The New York Times reports that formaldehyde-contaminated FEMA trailers left over from Hurricane Katrina are being used to provide housing for workers cleaning up the Gulf oil spill. Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi has demanded an inquiry.

Please, if there's one good thing that could come out of the Gulf spill, it's a heightened environmental consciousness. Providing oil spill workers recycled housing is clear evidence of that.

Secondly, using the trailers to house oil spill workers is also a clever way of limiting the damage to human health. I mean, they've already been getting sick. You wouldn't want to put perfectly healthy people in those trailers, would you?

And if some of them die, the formaldehyde will probably slow down decomposition in the period before the bodies are found. And in that kind of heat, a dead body could make a serious stink.

Clearly, BP contractors have thought it all out.

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