Archive for January 23rd, 2011
Steampunk — a style of dress, and for some a way of life as best it can be in the mundane — is based in the worlds of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Robert Anton Wilson and Alan Moore. Think an alternative Victorian England where steam power runs elaborately geared machines, women wear corsets and — as in The Wild, Wild West TV series and its unfortunate cinematic remake — there’s a nutty villain and outrageous gadgets.
Now The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has transmuted what could be called The Legs of an Extraordinary Woman into the new comic book/graphic novel Steampunk Palin. And it’s not satire (continue reading…)
The US woman who brought up high-profile child-kidnap victim Carlina White, who went on to solve her own abduction, has been taken into custody.
Ann Pettway, 44, surrendered to FBI agents in Connecticut.
An arrest warrant had been issued in North Carolina, where Ms Pettway lives, as officials believed she had violated a probation requirement.
Ms White was taken from hospital in New York in 1987 at just 19 days old and has been reunited with her true mother.
Ms White said she had always had a sense she did not belong to the family that raised her and began her own inquiries (continue reading…)
Two-and-a-half years after writing the majority opinion in the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun gave a rare interview to a reporter from his home state of Minnesota. It it, he spoke publicly for the first time about the controversial decision that continues to roil the political waters 38 years later.
I know because I was that reporter (continue reading…)
“The King’s Speech” is bound to be nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, and though I don’t think it has much chance of winning (my hunch is the top prize will go to “The Social Network”), I fervently hope “Speech” does prevail.
Rather than go into the reasoning behind my predictions- a futile exercise since the ways of the Academy are ever mysterious and often wrong-headed, let me enumerate why I favor this film.
Notwithstanding Colin Firth’s astonishing performance (I believe he will get Best Actor- or damn well should), the film’s genius lies in its being-with no apology necessary- a decidedly old-fashioned kind of picture. No breathless, whiz-bang effects, no intrusive camera angles, mood lighting, or torrid sex scenes. Just a terrific story, well told.
What a breath of fresh air, cinematically speaking.
Up to now, the affecting tale of King George VI’s stammer has not been widely disseminated, most likely because his daughter still sits on the English throne, and would hardly be receptive to her father’s speech impediment becoming the stuff of public drama on screen, as it did in real life all those many years ago.
Word is that the Queen indeed is not happy about the film; it’s likely she’s still recovering from Helen Mirren’s uncanny portrayal of her several years back. I can’t say I blame her.
But as the world goes, so does the English monarchy (continue reading…)
The complex financial world of Swiss Banking is far too extensive to examine in a brief article such as this one, however it is possible to introduce a few ideas, and render a few misconceptions regarding this misunderstood world redundant.
The mere mention of the words ‘Swiss Banking’ often conjures images of James Bond, and Bond Villains, luxurious lifestyles and mafia bosses stepping off private yachts with suitcases full of pristine condition 100 bills ready to be left in an anonymous account with a lengthy number. If this is what springs to mind your vision of Swiss Banking is far removed and detached entirely from reality as, contrary to what Hollywood may tell you, Swiss Banking and the entire world of offshore banking is not a haven for the rich and it is not a place to take your criminal activity.
To fully explain what the world of Swiss Banking entails it is necessary to understand certain concepts such as ‘offshore banking’, ‘offshore bank account’, ‘tax haven’ and more relevant terms such as OFC and IFC. I will begin this brief overview by explaining these concepts in the simplest possible way before offering a brief, but balanced, view as to what Swiss Banking actually is, and how it works.
Concepts such as offshore bank accounts are often, unreasonably, associated with criminal activity and tax evasion — and tax havens as being the location where this activity takes place and is facilitated. This is an oversimplified gross misrepresentation of the truth in which the offshore banking world actually takes its place as fully integrated in the global economy (continue reading…)
With American Idol back for its 10th season, some music fans are wondering how Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler can fit into the mix at the judges table. Tyler, it was reported this week, was once in contention to replace Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin. The rocker’s role on the Fox singing competition is rightfully being scrutinized – Is he the new Simon Cowell? Or is he the new Paula Abdul? For Tyler, though, listening to so many aspiring singers could lead him back to the stage. “Don’t be surprised if the scores of Idol wannabes have him scrambling for Joe Perry and the boys sooner than later,” says one writer (continue reading…)
One of my favorite cartoons as a youth (and dare I say even today) was the Warner Bros.’ cartoon involving the coyote and sheepdog.
These two antagonists would cordially greet each other, exchanging pleasantries before beginning their day. In one installment they were actually roommates.
But each episode began with:
“Good morning, Sam!”
The coyote was on a mission to steal sheep, while the sheepdog served as their protector.
As soon as the clock struck 8 a.m., they assumed their respective roles — enemies to the end.
The coyote devised ingenious and idiotic methods to steal sheep, while the sheepdog holding to his principles, often times in a rather clumsy fashion, foiled the coyote’s attempts.
On one occasion, the coyote sneaking up on an unsuspecting sheepdog, set up a Guillotine, guns, crossbows, cannons, a nuclear arsenal, the cliff where the sheepdog sat was rigged, and a pool of hungry crocodiles waited at the bottom.
Just as the coyote was about to pull the master switch, the 5 p.m. whistle rang, and the day was over.
As the two clocked out, the sheepdog said, “Better luck next time, Ralph.”
“You can’t win them all Sam,” the coyote replied.
The scene concludes with them walking home together.
I recall this memory from my youth because it is reminiscent of how things used to work in Congress — the acrimony usually concluded at the end of the day.
But Congress today has the congeniality of the Hatfield and McCoy feud. The Senate, once thought to be the saucer that cools the hot broth of the House, bears little difference.
And just like the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud, the culprit for the current political animosity depends greatly on who tells the story.
Was it House Democrats and their 42-year majority, treating the Republican minority like the second-class stepchild? Or was it the subsequent arrogance displayed by the Republican Party, when they reclaimed the House in 1994 and in their attempts to create a permanent majority?
Who’s at fault is not as important as what’s being done to end the gridlock that is increasingly becoming a mainstay on Capitol Hill.
So as President Barack Obama prepares for the State of the Union address, I welcome members of opposing parties agreeing to sit next to each other — not exactly Lyndon Johnson and Everett Dirksen working to pass civil rights legislation, but it’s a start.
Is it possible that Democrats and Republicans can be diametrically opposed in theory, but find ways to compromise? But the failure to compromise ultimately translates into the inability to trust.
One of the late Sen (continue reading…)
Farid Aichoune, a Tunisian journalist, wrote of the recent protests that “as in Iran last year, protesters set meeting places and exchanged information using social networks, less controllable, such as Facebook. That’s when the movement takes on a scale with calls for a general strike, and especially the termination of the regime” (Le Nouvel Observateur, 13-19 January 2011). The question is, how has this Iranian model, which set an example to the Tunisians, so far failed to achieve its goal of deposing the despot as the Tunisian movement did?
Many reformists would argue the answer lies in the strength and brutality of Iranian security forces. This is wrong (continue reading…)
Some things, like hairless cats or babies with overtly large heads, can be so ugly they are cute. And some things, like pretzels inside M&Ms or Paula Abdul trying to make a point on national television, are so wrong they become right.
Forever 21′s newly released line of faux-vintage clothing is not one of them.
Forever 21s foray into the drastically under-appreciated and highly lucrative hipsters who are homeless and/or blind market has hit Los Angeles stores. It’s hit it HARD.
The new Forever 21 Vintage line, pictured in part here, has only been made available to a select number of cities.
read full news from www.huffingtonpost.com
This is the time of year when pundits suggest words for the president’s State of the Union address. Always a chancy venture, it is even more so with this president’s oratorical skills. So let us abstain from that. Instead, let us simply address the state of our union and then critique the president after his January 25 presentation.
For as long as I can remember, the president has included the ritual phrase “The State of the Union is strong” which is followed by audience applause (continue reading…)
As the lone new wide-release of the weekend, the Ivan Reitman romantic-comedy, No Strings Attached, debuted with $20.3 million. The $25 million picture was a solid win for both Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. Portman probably deserves credit, as this was the first mainstream project to capitalize on her Black Swan press, as well as her new unfortunate role as a tabloid darling (re: surprise engagement + pregnancy = no escape). But the $20 million opening falls right in Ashton Kutcher’s median average when dealing with commercial fare such as this (What Happens in Vegas, Guess Who, etc) (continue reading…)
Black and white is easy; nuance is hard. Which is why it’s much easier to just lump media outlets and personalities into simple boxes: left v. right, or partisan v. objective, for example.
So if you want to play that game, it’s easy to dismiss Keith Olbermann, who broadcast his final episode of Countdown on MSNBC Friday (continue reading…)
It’s been a week since Ricky Gervais shocked Hollywood with a series of off-color and racy jokes at the Golden Globe Awards. Gervais’ performance sparked debate over whether the British comedian really went over the line, or whether American audiences and celebrities are too sensitive. Gervais defended himself in the days afterward, saying he didn’t do anything wrong. Rumors circulated that Gervais wouldn’t be invited back next year (continue reading…)
A UN resolution is being circulated among the fifteen members of the Security Council and it is likely that all but the United States will accept it. The language of the resolution affirms what previous UN resolutions and international law have already established: That Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, namely all territory beyond the 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem, are illegal.
Although President Obama has made it clear that he opposes these settlements and considers them an impediment to peace, it is expected that the Obama administration will, nonetheless, follow previous administrations in being the only dissenting voice on the Security Council when it comes to resolutions that hold Israel accountable to internationally accepted standards. And by “dissent,” I mean veto (continue reading…)
NBC is a great institution based in the landmark Rockefeller Plaza where TV and Radio began in this country. On Friday night, a bright light was dimmed for no explicable reason, when Keith Olbermann delivered his final show of Countdown on MSNBC. It is being reported that the deal for his removal from the network has been in the works for weeks. Maybe it was someone’s ego, maybe he was too honest and forthright (continue reading…)
The president will have to devote a big part of his State of the Union speech to the economy, but which economy? Corporate profits are up but jobs and wages remain in the doldrums. People with lots of financial assets, or who are deemed “talent” by large corporations, are enjoying a solid recovery. But most Americans continue to struggle.
In order for the public to understand what must be done, the president has to be clear about what has happened and why. Corporations are profiting from sales of their foreign operations, especially in China and India (continue reading…)
Gabrielle Giffords smiled, Sargent Shriver was honored in a memorial service Saturday, and our nation is experiencing a wave of open-heartedness that offers such a refreshing change from the exhaustive finger-pointing of politics and the black cloud of recession depression. Those moments are easily swept under the rug, but they deserve a moment to be explored a bit further. Why do we only allow ourselves mere milliseconds to be happy or joyful?
There were several moments in the past week that I was moved to weep with joy in the face of tragedy. When President Obama spoke at the memorial service in Tuscon, the outpouring of emotion was so strong that the crowd was moved to whoop, cheer and burst into spontaneous applause (continue reading…)
I have been part of a family football pool for many years now. Every week, each of us predicts the winners for every NFL game, right through the playoffs, and everyone’s performance is posted in a running tally. In recent years, I have been one of the very worst players in this pool, but I have a good excuse.
I am a longtime Washington Redskins fan, and I pick the ‘Skins week in and week out. Other family members hail from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and Indianapolis, and they also tend to bet on their home teams (continue reading…)
By Melissa Kirk, author of “Depression 101″
A fairly recent television ad for an antidepressant that shall remain nameless used the tagline “Depression hurts.” And really, you couldn’t say anything more truthful about this amorphous and much-studied yet little-understood condition. Depression can sap the life out of you, make you feel worthless, self-destructive, and like there’s nothing in the world that’s real except for the pain. I know the feeling, believe me. I know how people with depression can be so sensitive to painful situations and triggers that we can sometimes literally be afraid of normal human interaction for fear of the pain (continue reading…)
We’ve been taught that following through on new year’s resolutions is all about willpower. But it turns out that willingness may be a far more valuable ally.
One popular characterization of insanity describes it as “doing the same thing over and over, expecting to get a different result.” And at no time of the year is that particular brand of insanity more evident than right now — the dreaded resolutions season.
Every January, there’s a lot of talk about the right and wrong ways to go about making change. Techniques and strategies abound (another serving of S.M.A.R.T. goals, anyone?), but most of them share a common underlying assumption: That changing your life is an act of will.
We Americans love the idea of willpower (continue reading…)
January 19th marked Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, and the news was abuzz with talk of a unidentified person, who, since 1949, has slipped into Baltimore’s Westminster Burial Ground, made a strange gesture, and left three roses and a bottle of cognac at Poe’s grave. The event now attracts hundreds of onlookers who stay up all night hoping, to catch a glimpse of the mysterious stranger (who has proven remarkably elusive).
Journalist Bruce Goldfarb recounted his near run-in with the man in 1983. It reads like something out of, well, Poe:
Sadly, this was the second straight year that the stranger failed to show, inviting speculation that he has died.
It’s hard to beat a macabre little mystery involving one of the best-known mystery writers of all time, but it’s important to remember that Poe was more than just a mystery writer (continue reading…)
A few months ago the editors at Health.com wrote an article –”11 Mistakes Women Make in Middle Age” — which was based on an interview with me about my book, “The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More.”
It generated so much attention that other media outlets have run the story since then, including Yahoo Shine, thirdage.com, and The Huffington Post. A producer at “The Today Show” saw it and invited me to be a guest on the show last week, talking about what I’ve learned from my research. I now refer to it as “the article that keeps on giving.”
No matter where the article pops up, it gets a lot of hits, shares and comments from readers, because many of us are unsure about the right steps to take for better health, fitness, beauty and style. It can be a very confusing time, which is the main reason I decided to research and write the book (continue reading…)
For years, the NFL has denied the link between football injuries, namely concussions, and brain injury. Only in the past few years has it begun to understand the impact the sport has on the health of its players.
This year, the NFL has been on what many have called a crusade against concussions. From the ban on head hits to the recent launch of a new website, www.nflhealthandsafety.com, the organization is doing its part to keep players safe, during their time on the field and long after (continue reading…)
The information highway has long been lauded for offering up a wealth of knowledge on practically everything, including that forbidden realm of anything sex-related. Eager to educate, a number of websites have been established by legitimate organizations and qualified individuals alike, all hopeful that the Internet will equip youth with any information needed in becoming sexually healthy adults.
Yet, qualitative research conducted by the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute and United Nations Population Division indicates that, despite using the Internet daily, few teens see it as a main source of information about contraception and abstinence. Instead, young people reported being likelier to rely on — and having greater trust in — more “traditional” sexuality education resources, like their family members (typically parents), educators, medical professionals, and friends, in learning more about such topics (continue reading…)