Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can Anyone Guess?

Ok, a little game. Give me your best guess about what brings the following list of different countries together.

El Salvador
Sri Lanka

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Taste Tripping on Miracle Berries

A few weeks ago I heard about a great opportunity via the blogosphere:

Pay $15 for the pleasure of eating one small, red berry indigenous to West Africa.

So...I had to do it.

Yes, faithful readers, I ate a Miracle Berry Synsepalum dulcificum and it was kewwwwl. The berries are famous for altering the perception of taste for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, creating sweet from sour.

Our hosts had a eclectic tasting buffet of brussel sprouts (tasted like chocolate), tequila (went down smooth, real smooth), strawberries (incredibly sweet and delicious), sour patch kids (like sweet gummy candy, not sour at all), salt and vinegar potato chips (weird), red wine vinegar (mild), Guinness beer (watered down week old chocolaty Bud light), and a special cocktail, cucumber mojitos (sweet minty simple syrup with a touch of key lime pie.)

And before you freak out or think bad things about me because I went to a party with total strangers, handed over some money, and ate a foreign substance handed to me inside a small ziplock bag, the berries are totally safe (the internet says so).

According to the NYT, "flavor tripping" parties are all the rage, check them out if they come to a town near you.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Manuscript Review...and Possible Revenge

I have just been asked to review a manuscript for a journal and return the review within one month. I have never published in this journal. I did, however, submit an article there three months ago. It's still under review.

Perhaps I can speed the process with one of Anomie’s Blind Reviewer Voodoo Doll!!


Monday, July 07, 2008

Summer Off: Movie Edition

Well, so far my summer has been pretty relaxed. One of my main goals this summer (yes, this was a real goal for me) was to watch more movies. Verily, a challenging goal. (See: comic below.)

Anywho, I am still working hard toward my goal and have seen a variety of movies, including obscure and indy films, classics that I somehow missed, and boneheaded blockbusters. Two of these movies made an impression on me and I recommend them to you all, my small band of loyal readers.

My Kid Could Paint That

A thought provoking film about a 4-year-old Marla Olmstead who quickly rockets to fame as a child prodigy of abstract expressionist art and then, just as quickly, is discredited following accusations of fraud. I liked this film because the viewer gets the rare opportunity to accompany the documentarian Amir Bar-Levas he struggles to both please and remain loyal to the family who has invited him into their lives while still creating an objective story. This film raises questions about the documentary process, the meaning of art, parenting, exploitation, and truthiness.


Based on one of Raymond Carver’s short stories (one of my top 5 all time writers), director Ray Lawrence tells the story of four men who, while fishing in the mountains, discover the body of a dead Aboriginal girl in the river. The men opt to tie the drifting body—preventing her from washing downstream—and continue their weekend fishing trip undeterred. The authorities are notified when the fishing trip concludes a few days later. The town’s horrified reaction to their callous disregard sets the stage for a baleful tale about race, the environment, mental illness, forgiveness, truth, resolution, family, marriage, and responsibility.

This movie is not going to be for everyone. The movie relies on emotion and symbolism more than dialogue and story and everything is not resolved in the end. Some might bristle at the liberal use (get it?) of symbols and metaphors to portray some uniquely Australian conflicts. Personally, I love that stuff. Also, there is a weird electrician dude that is just annoying. Pluses include phenom acting by Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Guns: This Is Why

I live in Texas, a big gun-loving state. Just a few days ago when discussing the recent Supreme Court decision, I missed my opportunity to get on my soapbox when someone baited me by asking, "What, you wouldn't allow me to protect myself?" This is why, dumby: You are far more likely to blow yourself away than to protect your precious dvd collection.

When people talk about guns, the words they use include "rights, freedom, American, 2nd amendment, protection, safety, etc." But somehow suicide, accidental gun injuries and death, and domestic violence never rise to become part of that conversation. For the life of me I don't know why. Is it that we are confronted daily with images in the media of heroic gunfights between the bad guys vs. the good guys? But what about the good guy vs. himself? Or the bad guy grabbing the good guy's gun and using it against him? Or the good guy's young child accidentally shooting her foot off? Why do we never talk about these things?
clipped from
ATLANTA, Georgia, (AP) -- The Supreme Court's landmark ruling on gun ownership last week focused on citizens' ability to defend themselves from intruders in their homes. But research shows that surprisingly often, gun owners use the weapons on themselves.
Public-health researchers have concluded that in homes where guns are present, the likelihood that someone in the home will die from suicide or homicide is much greater.
Studies have also shown that homes in which a suicide occurred were three to five times more likely to have a gun present than households that did not experience a suicide, even after accounting for other risk factors.
One public-health study found that suicide and homicide rates in the district dropped after the ban was adopted.
More than 90 percent of suicide attempts using guns are successful, while the success rate for jumping from high places was 34 percent. The success rate for drug overdose was 2 percent, the brief said, citing studies.
 blog it

And what's better is that the article concludes with some controversial statistics about guns and mentions that both sides agree that research about gun violence has dropped sharply in the last decade. Apparently the CDC (the main funder of research on gun-related injuries), cut back in 1996 when Congress ordered that none of the agency's appropriations be used to promote gun control.

This is a classic case of the Bush administration's famous policies on scientific research.

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