January 30, 2006

Safari RSS: Now With Built-In Sense of Irony!

The following two news stories came up side-by-side in my RSS reader this morning:



You're doing a superb job, guys!

January 28, 2006

Adventures in Ethnography, Pt. 1

I've been having to read a lot of articles about fieldwork experiences as part of my qualitative methods course, this term, and have found myself thoroughly amused by some of the quotes I've found. For example, from Malinowski, widely regarded as one of the founders of modern ethnography, because of his work with the Trobriand islanders:

"I shudder at the thought of copulating with her" (as cited in Gallagher 1967:25).

Well stop thinking about it then, you big perv!

I also really, really enjoyed this, from William Shaffir, who has made a living studying Orthodox Jews:

"Walking closer to the synagogue, I saw a room filled with some forty teenage boys; they all had flowing earlocks and were dressed in long black coats, black trousers, white shirts, and black hats. . . . It took me but a moment to recognize how uncomfortable I would feel standing among them dressed in white jeans and a multi-coloured sports jacket" (Shaffir 1985).

White jeans and a multi-coloured sports jacket?!?! Mate, never mind the Chassidim, you will feel like a tit dressed like Don Johnson among pretty much anybody. Stop blaming the Jews for everything!

Oh, man, wow. I should save some of this gold for improv.

January 27, 2006

Conversations With Greatness LXIV

January 25, 2006

What A Mooron

From Canada.com: Michael Moore disappointed by Harper victory

Filmmaker Michael Moore took time out of his busy schedule of eating money, Monday, to urge Canadians, in his typically petulant tone, not to vote for Conservative candidate Steven Harper in the recent election:

"Maybe it's a new form of Canadian irony – reverse irony! OK, now I get it. First, you have the courage to stand against the war in Iraq – and then you elect a prime minister who's for it. You declare gay people have equal rights – and then you elect a man who says they don't. You give your native peoples their own autonomy and their own territory – and then you vote for a man who wants to cut aid to these poorest of your citizens. Wow, that is intense!”

Moore then suggested that voting for Harper would 'lend George Bush a hand', and that Canadians should be wary of becoming "the next notch in the cowboy belt".

Um, hi, Mr Moore? It may shock you to hear this, but not everybody in the world wakes up in the morning thinking about how best to depose the Bush government. And though I know it's devastating to your Canada fetish (my God, you could practically hear you jerking off over Toronto in Bowling For Columbine), sometimes people vote for their national leaders based on what they think would be best for their own nation! Granted, I wouldn't have voted Harper, but if you mean to suggest that the 37% of voters who did filled out their ballots thinking, "Gee, I sure would like to make life easier for the Bush administration," you are a simple-minded dolt, and just as bad as all the self-centered, arrogant Americans that you try so hard to distance yourself from.

You know what he reminds me of? A stalker. A creepy, creepy stalker who keeps pictures of Canada in a shrine in his bedroom, and writes really bad poetry about it, and carves maple leaves into the back of his hand with an exacto-knife.

January 24, 2006

Total Eclipse of the Heart Condition

From ABC News: Man Has Cardiac Arrest at Cardiologist Ball:

"SANTA BARBARA, Calif. Jan 24, 2006— An elderly man collapsed from cardiac arrest in a ballroom packed with cardiologists and other doctors attending an American Heart Association fundraiser.

'If you have to go down, that was the place, I guess,' said Dr. Richard Westerman, a cardiologist who helped save the man."


Are you kidding me? That is like, the worst place to have a cardiac arrest!

[Scene: $250-a-plate cardiologist ball; music, dancing, quiet buzz of conversation. All of a sudden, a man keels over, clutching at his chest]

Woman: Oh my God!! Somebody, call for help!
Westerman [striding purposefully over]: No need to panic, ma'am. I'm a cardiologist. Everybody, step back, I know how to handle this.
Goldberg [grabbing Westerman by the arm]: Not so fast, Westerman! We all know your track record on emergency cases. I'll handle this!
Westerman: Goldberg, you snivelling weasel! Don't try and pretend like this has to do with anything other than your contempt for the way I woo away your elderly clients with the Matlock tapes playing in my waiting room!
Goldberg: Ah-ha! So you admit it, you talentless hack!
Paulson [stepping in]: Okay, fellows, let's not forget there's someone in cardiac arrest here. Stand aside, and let me save this man's life.
Clemens: That's a good joke, Paulson. These two might be bickering crones, but at least they're semi-competent crones. You couldn't stop a cardiac arrest if it jumped up and stopped your heart function.
Paulson: Clemens, you vainglorious moron! I've performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on more patients than you've kissed girls!
Westerman: Gentlemen, please, you are getting in the way of my work.
Paulson: Dammit, was no one keeping an eye on Westerman?! He's started compressions!
Higgins [interrupting]: Stop that immediately, Westerman! Can't you see this is no cardiac arrest?! This man is clearly suffering from aortic dissection!

[group laughs]

Goldberg: Oh, Higgins, you bumbling kook.
Paulson [wiping tears of laughter from his eyes]: Aortic dissection! Ha!
Westerman: Fellows, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have tried to hog all the glory here. We're all friends. Goldberg, go ahead and start this man's heart, again.
Goldberg: Oh, no, I couldn't possibly. You were doing such a good job.
Westerman: No, really, I insist.
Clemens: Come along, Goldberg, don't be shy.
Goldberg: Well, I don't know, I...
Higgins: I'll do it!
Paulson: Oh, do shut up, Higgins.
Goldberg: ...I mean, if you really don't mind...

[Patient lets out one, final gasp, and expires]

[Fin.]

January 23, 2006

Back To The Classics

Seen— you know it!— on Netscape:



Whoa! That is one sex tape the internet can keep, as far as I'm concerned.

--

Is it wrong that I care more about watching 24 tonight than I do about the election results?

--

I really do love my capoeira class, if for no other reason than the comedic stylings of our instructor. One of the big rules of capoeira is not to look at the floor, because it makes you lose your balance— something I was apparently doing today. So she shouts over at me: "Hey, you, Scotland guy! [this is what she always calls me— I'm not convinced she knows my real name] Why are you looking at the floor?! There's a pretty girl in front of you, you should be looking at her instead!"

What I want to know is, why can't the lecturers at McGill be like that?

--

Actually, Will Ferrell doing the President is pretty funny.

January 22, 2006

Gil-ty As Charged (Or, "Fun With Webcams")

Gil was killing time before Uno yesterday, and spent a good half an hour playing with the built-in iSight on my computer. I think this picture is the best to result from said:



On a completely different note, bedbugs are back! Jeffrey Eisenberg, a pest control expert and totally oblivious punmeister, explains: ""There's an epidemic going on throughout the country, and New York seems to be the hotbed."

Ha!

"We feel like we're starting from scratch," Eisenberg continued. "The only thing we know is that we don't know anything," he said, a remark that was immediately seconded by the Secretary of Defence (who also added that you have to go to bed with the bugs you have, not the ones you want).

January 20, 2006

Conversations With Greatness LXIII

January 18, 2006

You're Right! Tomorrow I'm Going to Punch Nature In The Back of the Head!

Warning! Incoming Rant!

Boy oh boy, do I get tired of asinine 'news' stories about scientific studies that personify 'nature' and make simplistic, misleading statements about evolution.

Take, for example, this story from Netscape: No. 1 Reason Women Are Unfaithful.

"A woman who yearns to have sex with someone other than her husband can blame it on evolution.

That's the excuse...er, scientific finding, of researchers . . ."
(emphases mine).

See, now, this (anonymous) journalist knows he or she is being a douchebag, it's pretty clear— ho, ho, ho, it's so hilarious to blithely gloss over (and, as you shall shortly see, flatly contradict) what the quoted researchers actually say, because, gosh!, it's not as if marital infidelity is an issue that costs immeasurable amounts per year in legal fees, emotional pain, physical harm, etc., etc. No, far better to make a joke out of the "fact" that women (a nice change, as the argument is usually made about men) are biologically incapable of being faithful as long as their partner looks like a goose anus:

"Nature is no fool. Men who are less attractive seem to have an innate sense to guard their ovulating wives from other men . . . The men have to protect what is theirs" (emphasis in original).

Right, okay, so, in addition to being incorrigible sluts who can't keep their panties on whenever a stud walks past, women also need to be jealously guarded by their husbands who will otherwise lose "their"... what? Meal ticket? Sex machine? Ticket in the genetic lottery?

And all this is attributed to the omnipresent and, apparently, agency-endowed "nature", who is "no fool" and is only looking out for the species as a whole— so, ladies, if you feel the need to cheat, you'd better go for it! That's nature talking!

At least (in this study, anyway) the actual scientists involved were relatively careful not to be so flippant: "We aren't saying that women are genetically programmed to be unfaithful . . . They aren't robots following genetic instruction . . . Infidelity itself is a choice." Sadly, this well-reasoned little caveat was slipped in at the very end of the article, after several hundred words of vacuous pop science that pretty explicitly suggests genes control all. Still, at least this article has such a caveat, unlike...

Becoming a father 'civilises' men, from BBC News. In this study, researchers found that men who were fathers had significantly lower testosterone levels than even other married men with no children. Unfortunately for the BBC (who at least like to pretend that they're good reporters), they couldn't find any sensational soundbites from the actual researchers, so they quietly brought in another quack to comment on the study results, instead.

Said Dr Nick Neave, who, as far as I can tell, had no affiliation with the study whatsoever: "Nature doesn't want testosterone levels to be high at a time when there is a baby . . . It's nature's way of making males civilised— at least for a short time."

Ah, yes, once again "nature" is "doing" what's best for us, because men are, inherently, violent, drooling warthogs, who cannot control their atavistic urges to kill each other and screw as many women as possible without a little help from their hormones. Thank goodness for the 'civilising' power of fatherhood!

What I find so irresponsible about this kind of 'reporting' is that relatively innocuous scientific data is being cruelly twisted in a very conscious way to conform to imbecilic stereotypes and expectations about how men and women naturally "are", which only serves to justify behaviour that is morally repugnant and totally unnecessary. Guh.

Thanks for listening.

January 17, 2006

Annals of International Dentistry

From BBC NEWS | England | London: Dentist let partner drill teeth

"Mogjan Azari allowed her lover Omid Amidi-Mazaheri to work on more than 600 patients, leaving many in agony . . .

Azari, 39, a Swedish Iranian . . . [and] Amidi Mazaheri, 42, an Iranian national, from East Dulwich . . ."


A Swedish Iranian? What the hell does that mean? And how can you be an Iranian national if you're from Dulwich? And, holy crap, if they were lovers, what would that make any children they might have had? Irano-Dulwichian Swedes? I tell you, this globalisation malarkey doesn't make a jot of sense to me.

January 15, 2006

Keep On Rollin'

Hot on the heels of my super-exciting (sic) blogroll update the other day, I have now also updated the 'Me, Elsewhere' section. I've removed the link to Aurgasm because, though it be one o' the finest blogs to sail the seven seas, and though I fully intend to start writing for it again at some point (if Paul will have me), I feel it's a little misleading at the moment to claim that I contribute to it, since my last post there was in September.

However, in its place I have added a link to The Underbrush, which is the official name of the rather casual writer's group I attend every week with Stationaery editor and long-time McGill Improv Designated Smoker, Ilya. There you can find some short fiction I've written (gulp) which I suspect will be a first for many of you. You can also find Ilya's rather hilarious summary of my life-- I particularly enjoy being described as having "a double minor in British wit and stylish jackets".

And now, reading, accompanied with a light side order of continued, debilitating muscle ache.

January 14, 2006

I Sore

I don't spend much time in gyms. There's something about the competitive, exhibitionist sweatiness that runs violently contrary to all my most deeply ingrained inhibitions, as both a scrawny bookish type and a British person. But this term I was determined not to become the motionless slug that I usually am in the winter, so I enrolled in capoeira classes at the McGill gym. Yesterday was my first session.

Gyms are an intimidating social space for those of us not well-versed in their internal cultures (sorry, I can't help myself). There is a strongly institutionalised but completely unwritten set of rules that governs acceptable behaviour within gyms, and this makes going to a gym rather uncomfortable for people like me who haven't set foot in a locker room since the beginning of high school (except that my high school didn't actually have lockers, only thieves).

See, for instance, I assumed (quite naïvely, apparently) that openly flaunting nudity would be frowned upon. That's just the sort of background I have: the people I hang out with don't generally tend to walk around with their genitals wagging every which way. And, I mean, I understand that the locker room is a place where one goes to get changed, and thus naked; but this was far beyond what would be considered necessary just for the purposes of changing clothes. These guys weren't quite having penis fights, but it was pretty damn close.

Anyway, my class is fun but probably more continuous exercise than I have ever had in my life. I barely managed to walk home, and even now, sixteen hours later, am aching all over. Considering the class is an hour and a half, three days a week, by the end of the semester I am either going to be really really in shape, or really really dead.

Now, I must go lie in bed and not move for several hours.

January 13, 2006

Conversations With Greatness LXII

January 12, 2006

...But the Truck Is In Critical Condition

From Netscape News: Boy OK After Truck Runs Over Head

You know, he's not great-- just OK.

"MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) - An 11-year-old boy had a lingering headache two days after a pickup truck ran over his head."

Yeah, that'll do it. But at least his headache isn't as bad as the one he had last year, when an anvil fell on his head while several sticks of dynamite were comically lodged in his mouth.

" 'He didn't look too worse for wear,' [the boy's grandfather] said. 'He was just saying he had a headache'. "

In fact, the boy was taken to hospital, where tests revealed a hairline skull fracture, a black eye, a laceration on his ear canal, and a severe case of "roadrash" on his neck and face.

I'm sorry, there is a specific medical term for what happens when you have your face crushed into gravel by a heavy weight? And, um, I don't know about anyone else, but doesn't "roadrash" seem like an awfully euphemistic way of saying it? It sounds less like a horrific, accidental injury, and more like, I don't know, acne. "Say, Bob, are you okay? What happened to your face?" "Oh, nothing, Herb, just the ol' roadrash flaring up again. Say, do you have any calamine lotion?"

Bob and Herb are my heroes.

January 10, 2006

Sigh...

The latest anonymous comment shit to hit the Google fan is on my post from a few months ago about a certain local politician whose middle name is 'Shady'. Why not go take a look at the flame war I can't seem to stop myself from participating in?

January 09, 2006

Devil-May-Car

From Netscape Autos: What Would the Devil Drive?

I'm not really sure what this article is about.

"Everyone has an opinion about the kind of car that Jesus might drive..."

Best introductory sentence, ever.

"... But what about the big red guy?"

Santa Claus?

The author then goes on to list five cars which the devil 'would' drive, complete with 'quotes' from Satan, for no apparent reason. I just... Am I missing something? I cannot grasp why this article has been written. Is it cool to drive a car like Satan? Does it make you more manly? Was the article written to offend Christians? Or to let them know what cars they really shouldn't go near? Is it supposed to be funny? Why does Satan hate Lance Armstrong? I just don't understand. Please help me.

--

Andrew vs. happiness, round 2: got through a whole cup of tea without choking today. Do I deserve a medal, or what?

January 08, 2006

Bad Omens Brewing

My Christmas stocking this year included a box of 'Happiness Tea', which I finally decided to try out today.

I put a tablespoonful into my teapot, boiled the kettle, let it steep for ten minutes, poured it out into a nice big mug, took a sip, and almost choked. I didn't let that deter me, but during the course of drinking the rest of it, I almost choked again. Twice.

So, um, I'm not sure what it means, exactly, that my body is violently rejecting happiness, but I doubt it's a very good sign.

Caught In The Shuffle

I'm procrastinating (already!), so I'm going to pretend I'm a girl and do an abbreviated version of the iTunes shuffle thang that's been circulating around LiveJournal this week. Thanks, Cristina et al. ...

1. What do you think of me, iTunes?
'What Else Is There?' - Röyksopp (My sentiments exactly!)

7. What should I do with my life?
'Original Sins' - Chris Bowden (Any suggestions...?)

13. Do you know where your children are?
'Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens' - Louis Jordan (Ah, I see. My original sins should evidently include impregnating chickens.)

14. What do you think happiness is?
'Too Drunk To Fuck' - Nouvelle Vague (Me, or the chickens?)

Well, that was educational.

--

PS. Updated blogroll: holla!

January 06, 2006

Conversations With Greatness LXI



I do get tired of planes and goodbyes.

January 04, 2006

Kongugal Visit

I just got back from seeing King Kong with my little brothers, and woooooooooowwwwwww...... What a CRAPFEST!

Okay, first of all, I fundamentally object to any movie in which cultural studies papers literally jump out of doorways and throw spears through your chest. If I am sitting in the movie theatre thinking about Orientalism, then you are doing something wrong, Peter Jackson, as I am patently not caught up in the magic of your storytelling.

And as if implicit racism isn't bad enough, what about Naomi 'telos' Watts, who is:

(a) The ONLY female character in the movie that gets more than ten seconds of screen time;
(b) Given about twenty lines of actual dialogue, and spends the rest of the movie making poorly disguised sex noises;
(c) Nothing more than a glorified trophy over which all the various male characters can beat their chest.

Second of all, it's not even a good damn movie! It is way too long, owing mostly to its attempts to include the entire casts of Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Adventures of Huck Finn, and, of course, the Michael Crichton classic Congo. There's also a retarded subplot involving the stoic 'Captain Hayes' and the eager, inexperienced youngster, 'Jimmy' (yes, I swear to God there is an eager, inexperienced youngster named 'Jimmy') which takes up a good five or ten minutes of unnecessary screen time, and just one too many computer-generated fight scenes. I mean, jeez, if I wanted to see a giant gorilla wrestle with two Tyrannosauruses Rex, I would just surgically connect the imagination of a twelve-year-old boy to my optic nerves.

I really am turning into an old crankpot, aren't I?

January 03, 2006

Where's A Time Machine When You Need One?

For Christmas, I bought my 11-year-old brother the Back To The Future trilogy on DVD, because it was at about his age when I first saw and was overjoyed by my first BTTF movie.

Tonight (because he's been in Italy), I gave him said present, and watched with eager anticipation as he opened it.

"Back to the Future?" he said. "What's Back to the Future?"

"You know what?" I replied. "I know a chick who's never heard of the Fonz who you'd get along just great with."

Actually, I didn't say that. I just cried quietly on the inside, as my world crumbled around me, again.

Man oh man oh man, do I feel old all of a sudden.

January 01, 2006

Brave New Year, Same Old Jokes

Has anybody noticed the uncanny resemblance between Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, and iSteve iJobs?



I'd make a joke about this, but I fear I would only be contributing to the 'anti-Semitic tsunami' that is sweeping the globe and leaving in its wake nothing but over-used tropes and, presumably, some very wet Jewish people.

My God, I am so tired of people making tsunami references. I'd like to think that anti-Semitism is a serious enough problem that we shouldn't have to resort to lowest-common-denominator media buzzwords to bring it into a public forum.

And, on that note...

Happy Tsunami New Year!