Monthly Archives: January 2010

What I learned this week

  1. An estimated 8,000 varieties of beer are available in Belgium.
  2. There are little plastic beads that can clean up radiation and nylon beads that can do the laundry.
  3. Pirelli invented a tire with its own electronic brain. It has tiny sensors that measurethe acceleration and deceleration on three axes. This can help avoid skids and cut fuel consumption by optimizing braking and suspension. But that still doesn’t mean you can put your Winnebago in cruise control and go make a sandwich in back (read 1st place, even though I’m pretty sure it’s bogus).
  4. You can make a solar hot-air collector for $40, and cut your energy bills without selling your firstborn and getting an electrical engineering degree so you can afford photovoltaic solar panels.
  5. Indonesia, where I used to live, is the third highest emitter of carbon, after China and the U.S. It’s largely because of burning peat, which contains lots of carbon. Global warming is real, and really complicated, and we’re kind of screwed.
  6. A San Francisco non-profit collects human hair at salons and uses it to clean up oil spills in the ocean and at car repair shops.
  7. Municipal solid waste (i.e., your trash and mine) is only 2.5 percent of all garbage. 76 percent is industrial. But that shouldn’t stop you from recycling.
  8. Modern Pampers have 40 percent less “stuff” but equal poopy-peepee absorption as 1990 Pampers.
  9. Opium production (for smack) in Afghanistan peaked in 2007, and covers more acreage than the land used to grow coca (for crack) in Columbia, Peru and Bolivia.
  10. There are people who believe the government distributed digital TV convertor boxes to spy on us — I guess because they think “the man” wants to watch me watching “Family Guy.”

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Pop culture catchup

Saw “The Princess and the Frog” and “Body of Lies” this weekend, and “discovered” Carbon/Silicon (the band, not the elements).

I loved “Princess and the Frog.” It made me miss New Orleans — in all its clean, singing, animated glory. Actually, there really is a lot of singing and the whole city is fairly animated, but it’s sure not very clean. I think the animated film category will be the most interesting prize at the Oscars this year.

I didn’t love “Body of Lies.” At least Russell Crowe opened his mouth in this movie, but I never really cared about the characters. I have also decided I don’t need to see all these movies about the war on terror or any movies that involve torture. I read about all that crap enough in the news, and watch enough documentaries. I’ll go lighter with my movies — like Disney cartoons.

So that’s an “A” for the animated princess musical, and a “C” for the manly action thriller. Yes, I’m comfortable in my metrosexuality.

I finally caught up with Carbon/Silicon, the band with one Mick Jones of the Clash, and Tony James of Generation X. Good stuff — and free. Kind of reminds me of Gorillaz and Big Audio Dynamite. Download the whole album from last year here.

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Geaux Saints

I just watched my first full football game in … I don’t know how long (much to my father’s dismay). It’s great that the Saints are going to the Superbowl, mostly because I know a lot of people who have been through a lot of shit who are really excited tonight. Saints fans are very intense and very loyal, and I wish I could be back there to eat crawfish and watch the Saints play in their first Superbowl.

Having said all that, I don’t actually understand the rules of football. I just Wikipedia-ed the rules and figured out when the clock stops. But I couldn’t answer this q: Can a team lose yardage if the guy with the ball gets pushed back past the line of scrimmage? And what about if the guy with the ball just runs back past the line of scrimmage and gets tackled?

But I don’t really care. For now, I can feel vicarious joy and pride in the Saints. In a couple of weeks, I can go back to not caring about football again.

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Top 10 things I learned this weekend

  1. Wolves live in every habitat on Earth except arid deserts and tropical rain forests, making them the second most widely adapted mammal in the world (after humans).
  2. Wolves bite down with 1500 psi of force — 13 times more than the average human.
  3. The average wolf weighs about 120 pounds, and the largest recorded wolf weighed 175 pounds.
  4. One wolf is the “babysitter” for a whole pack. (You may be noticing a theme. We went to a presentation by this group, which rescues wolves and wolf-dogs and provides a sanctuary for them).
  5. Tens of thousands of really stupid people keep wild animals as pets, including wolves, bears and lions. WTF?
  6. There are people who believe that the Dark Ages never happened, and that a Holy Roman emperor added 300 years to the calendar, which means it is really about 1710. Upshot: It’s not really almost 2012, so if you believe both nutty theories, we’re safe for about 300 more years.
  7. One of Bush’s lawyers during the 2000 post-election fiasco has teamed up with one of Gore’s lawyers from the same case to defend two gay couples in their lawsuit against the state of California (the case, Perry vs. Schwazenegger, is expected to go to the Supreme Court, so a landmark gay marriage ruling could forever be attached to Ah-nold).
  8. In Dubai, you can be jailed for drinking and having sex with your fiance, even if you are a British tourist who reveals this information while testifying to police about being raped. Also, in Abu Dhabi, you can beat a man with a stick, pour salt in his wounds (literally) and drive over him. This is apparently not a crime if you are a prince, and you can make up a good story about some foreigners who drugged you.
  9. Clint Eastwood shouldn’t put his son in charge of the music for his movies. Some terrible music really detracted from “Invictus,” an otherwise good movie.
  10. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is no “Rushmore.” I’ll stick to Wes Anderson’s live action movies.

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Limbaugh fail, Ferguson win

Rush Limbaugh reached a new level of jackass this week calling for more “self-reliance” in Haiti, and a claim that we’re already giving enough money to Haiti through foreign aid. While everyone’s all atwitter about his shameful politicizing of the Haiti tragedy, Craig Ferguson offered a great response to Limbaugh by challenging Limbaugh to atone for his ignorant comments by donating $1 million to Haiti. If you’re short on time, just watch from 2:03 to 2:52.

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Watch “Speed and Angels”

I apparently have been watching too many movies lately. My excuse is that Christine is on school vacation and “only” working her regular job, so we are both sort of on “evening vacation” and aren’t working after regular work hours. I have to add two more.

Speed and Angels: I accidentally watched this movie on Hulu. I was expecting a popcorn “Top Gun” rip-off because this movie is listed under action, not documentary. It’s actually a great doc about two elite fighter pilots. I’m really glad I am not a fighter pilot, but I’m grateful for all our troops.

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Palin on Fox

My question is: How is Jon Stewart going to use this gift?
He will either start phoning it in and just run clips of Sarah every night or the Daily Show will become the greatest show ever.

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