Sunday, November 28, 2010

Threat or Menace?

Fresh Wood Ear Mushrooms: The most disgusting "edible" fungus known to man?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What (Not?) To Wear, TSA Edition

This sex worker (link NSFW; text only version here) decided to push the boundaries of the new TSA screening standards by donning a sheer camisole and panties for her trip through the security line. Of course, there's video. She explicitly sought to turn the tables on the workers who'd be searching her.
As a teenager, I had a conversation with an older activist who had been arrested many times over the years.  He told me his secret to staving off despair and stress during the whole process.  He said something like, "When you're in jail, and the police strip search you, their goal is to humiliate you into obedience, so it's your job to turn the tables on them.  I do a sexy striptease, spin around like a fucking ballerina, and tell them how hot the whole thing makes me.  It takes away their power and makes them the uncomfortable ones."
She didn't get arrested, unlike the San Diego guy who stripped down to his boxer briefs,* but there must be some point at which clothing is both sufficiently revealing to render patdowns superfluous and legal for street wear. Perhaps hot pants and a tight crop top? A dashing spandex superhero-style bodysuit? How about a snug Star Fleet uniform?

Relatedly: Now you have to get a backscatter scan or enhanced patdown if you're coming off an international flight---EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT CONNECTING?

* Who was instructed, according to his attorney "to put his clothes back on 'so he could be properly patted down,'" indicating precisely how security theater is about compliance with authority, not actual safety.

Twitter tag: #fauxho

Wow, this is like an R-rated issue-spotter for a law school exam.

Friday, November 19, 2010

ISO Certified Stupid Pork

If eating pigs is wrong because they are intelligent enough to anticipate their own demise, shouldn't we assuage our moral objections by breeding pigs selectively for dumbness? (If you'd eat a chicken but not a pig, would you eat a pig with the mental state of a chicken?)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Recipe: Peanut Fried Chicken

I don't know why I don't fry things more, except that it's time-consuming and messy and bad for you.

1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper

4 boneless chicken thighs or 2 breasts
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cups all-purpose flour

Food-process the batter ingredients until well blended. Cut chicken into 2-3" pieces and stab all over with a skewer. Soak in marinade in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably longer. Heat oil in a pot or skillet until a little flour sizzles when dropped in. Dredge chicken pieces in flour and place in oil, cooking 6-8 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. While still hot, drizzle very lightly with honey and sprinkle with salt and additional cayenne to taste. Eat. Eat some more. Figure you should just finish it off and eat the rest.

Protip: There will be lumps of the dripped-off batter in your flour. Fry these too.

Friday, November 12, 2010

We're from the government and we're here to judge your art.

Does anyone else have a problem with the idea that a secretive and unaccountable government entity gets to decide who is an artist and prevent people from purchasing homes if they don't make the grade?
The judges rejected a jewelry maker for producing work that was too commercial and a photographer whose pieces did not show enough “focus, quality and commitment.” Others were turned down for being a student, a “hobbyist” or an “interpretive artist.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'll never reconcile myself to Hermione/Ron.

An excellent question:
"[W]hy [is it] that so few of the intellectual female characters prominent in pop culture wind up with equally intellectual guys[?] ... It's true also that stable relationships make for uninteresting television or plot interest in a series of novels. But I can't think of many more examples in which intellectual heroines *end up* with intellectual guys either."
Is the perceived alternative for an intellectual female not the hot smarty but the "too brilliant to bathe" fellow? Are we unwilling to match up persons gifted along both axes out of some unconscious feeling that it would be implausible or even socially undesirable?

Perhaps relatedly: I was at a party recently where two women, upon hearing that my significant other exceeded me in height by a foot, commenced to rant about short women hogging tall men instead of leaving them for more statuesque ladies. (One asked in a peevish tone whether there was a word for that. I suggested "greed.") Of course, this crowding-out only occurs because women of height X typically want a man of height X+Y. Is it perhaps also the case that women of IQ X want men of IQ X+Y (or that men of IQ X+Y want women with IQ X)?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Wolverine + Fiennes = DO THIS.

This one's for Phoebe:
Are we as guys lucky not to be evaluated as stringently based on physical attributes as girls are? Sure, I guess. But the downside is, this can make us complacent about how we look. The best strategy is, even if we’re not being judged as harshly as women, imagine that we are. It’s this complacency that makes some guys think stupid shit like “Well, I am a sensitive writer, so not only do I not need to have a nice body, but I should actually avoid having one, because having one would mean that I am not a sensitive writer anymore.”

Look at it this way: when you see a chick who is wearing glasses and a pencil skirt because she is going for a Sexy Librarian thing, do you want her to not have an amazing body just because that is the look she is going for, or do you want her to be going for that look and have an amazing body? Obviously, you want her to also have an amazing body. There is no possible aesthetic for which the equation [given aesthetic] + [amazing body] = [even better] does not hold. So why would girls think of us any differently?
Read the whole thing. It's good, except the wrong Fiennes is pictured in the model equation. (via)

UPDATE: Phoebe's thoughts available here, with a focus on the idea that some men attract women specifically by being "too brilliant to bathe," which is less an aesthetic than a more abstracted mode of self-presentation or -conception---or perhaps an identity for which the idea that "physicality is stupid" is integral, not an auxiliary rationalization for being flabby.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Period Details

Is it really wise to invoke this particular quotation to rebut B.R. Myers's dismissal of Freedom as a  wannabe-Zeitgeist piece that "uses facile tricks to tart up the story as a total account of American life"?
Myers has little to tell us about beauty. For Flaubert’s contemporary Baudelaire, beauty was
made up of an eternal, invariable element . . . and of a relative, circumstantial element, which will be. . . the age – its fashions, its morals, its emotions. Without this second element, which might be described as the amusing, enticing, appetizing icing on the divine cake, the first element would be beyond our powers of digestion.
Does anyone really buy the idea that we cannot comprehend beauty without its being clothed in the fashions, morals, and emotions of our time? Does it make sense to embrace Franzen at the cost of ceding thousands of years' worth of literature? Modern trappings and language can ease understanding---or they can distract the reader from any underlying beauty by annoying the crap out of her. Some of us prefer our eternal themes without an exterior of contemporary Cheez Whiz. It's a little patronizing, actually, this notion that we can't digest your Deep Meaningful Literary Thoughts without the "icing." If any aid is required, I prefer trappings that invoke centuries of cultural development and history over instantly dated attempts to capture the details of How We Live Now.

On a related note, there's a nice little exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and photography at the National Gallery. Recommended.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Bechdel Test for Statues

How many statues in D.C. include depictions of women who are not nude and/or metaphorical?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I always preferred Tom Petty

Via Tyler Cowen, a Russian's opinion of Springsteen:
My general take on Bruce Springsteen could always be briefly expressed as follows: Bruce is a very local phenomenon. I could actually stop right here, because everything that'll follow, both good and bad, will eventually come back to this first sentence, but I suppose I'll have to explain. Frankly speaking, I don't know anything about how much Bruce Springsteen is popular outside of the good old United States. To some extent, probably, mainly due to his grandiose career-supporting events and all kinds of propaganda campaigns and beneficial organisations he takes part in. In any case, in my home country people hardly ever know anything about him but his name, and it's one of those rare cases when I feel such an attitude is completely justified. I suppose I'll have to explain again? Should I?