This is not fun and games. I have on occasion criticized America for letting off steam with Comedy Central and Jon Stewart (did you know his name is Jon Leibowitz?), while the problems persist. At the same time, it's great to keep a sense of humor despite the seriousness of what is happening. And I love Bill Hader (although, as you can see his impersonation has some artistic license. Check out J Pharaoh's Obama, Denzel, and Eddie Murphy. They are GOOD. And he's from VA, represent!)
I've had this conversation way too much in the past two weeks. For the millions of non-religious families, one has to ask, where's the magic of Christmas if there's no Santa? It’s just simple sad consumerism without the big red guy from the North Pole. At least before we had magic, mystery, and surprise.
I remember when I was little leaving my grandmother's house, looking up into the cold starry sky wondering what was happening all over the world at that particular moment. It was magical, special, and not really about the presents at all. I felt what people used to call, "the Christmas Spirit:" a mystical connection to everyone and everything, a sense of wonderment at the lights and the stars, that pang of hope for snow, and joy at seeing all of the decorations, smelling all of the baking my mother was doing, and cozying up with her reading the Christmas Story at night, wondering what my dad had up his sleeve. I was so lucky to have a happy stable home. Also it was nice to have parents who allowed us to enjoy Christmas naturally. They didn't tell us loads about Santa and didn't dispute it either. It was fun and special with no harm done.
Now I'm noticing to cater to these precocious kids, parents are eliminating the Santa element. They are afraid to enjoy the myth because it might damage their child's super sensitive psyche. Without any religious connection and without any mythology at all, parents have eliminated any mystical dimension to the holiday, stealing that wonderful spark for the imagination and taking wishlists like they are itemized purchase orders.
“I'm getting the ipad for Christmas.” “I'm getting the new iphone.”
I'm sorry but a ten year old getting a phone for Christmas is about as magical as an excel sheet.
This is a collection of some of the best astronomy pictures of the year gathered by Discovery Magazine curator Phil Plait.
I think it would be a good idea to have these pictures, or any of the kind, enlarged, printed and plastered all over the walls. The awesomeness, just like the universe, is vast and endless.
This image of Orion is a mosaic of 32 pictures taken by astrophotographer Rogelio Andreo. It's the whole constellation, which is unprecedented. Want to print it (not a bad idea, eh?) Here's the high res version 2000x4000)
Saturn's second largest moon, is traveling in front of the giant moon Titan, creating the illusion of closeness.
Looks like something from a scanning electron microscope or liquid metal, but no this is the surface of Mars near the North Pole! I wonder if Mars has a Santa alien.
When I first saw this, I was really hoping it was a Black Hole. I guess that's a little too much Twilight Zone. According to Discovery, this spiral is part of a binary star blowing its outer layer of carbon into the great beyond. Because the period of a carbon star is so "short" and because the spiraling layer is so faint, this is the first picture ever captured of this phenomenon.
boston.com has a weekly round up of amazing photos. Here are a few I like...
Lightning streaks across the sky as lava flows from an Icelandic volcano in Eyjafjallajokul April 17, 2010. The volcano spewed ash into the air for weeks, wreaking havoc on flights across Europe. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
I imagine standing on that street corner and looking down down down. A tremendous sinkhole caused by the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Agatha in Guatemala City was estimated to be 30 meters wide and over 60 meters deep. As the sinkhole formed, it swallowed a clothing factory about three miles from the site of a similar sinkhole three years earlier. The clothing factory had closed only an hour before it plunged into the Earth. (REUTERS/Casa Presidencial)
As central Russia suffered through its hottest summer since record-keeping began 130 years ago, hundreds of wildfires swept the countryside, causing billions in damage. Russians here try to stop a fire from spreading near the village Golovanovo, Ryazan region, on August 5, 2010. (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)
Good being in the water, because I would have wet myself. In this Feb. 13, 2010 file photo, Ion Banner loses control on a giant wave during the first heat of the Mavericks surfing contest in Half Moon Bay, California. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, decided to take unexpected action after being mugged and robbed of jewelry and his expensive watch last month in London.
Got to love the way a businessman's mind works. He has appeared complete with bruises and scrapes in an advert for the Swiss watch company Hublot, the uber-expensive watch that was stolen. The ad reads: “See what people will do for a Hublot.”
Lemons into lemonade. Stolen watches into endorsements. Opportunities abound. It is pretty cool.
What do you think “courageous,” opportunistic, or both? And.. can it be opportunistic if he is the victim?
An attempt to put War and Peace into cinematic form came in 1956. Audrey Hepburn played Natasha Rostov, the spry and playful daughter of a financially ruined noble family, who though unwealthy, was the life of the party and the heartthrob of all the available (and unavailable) young gentlemen in Russian society.
I always get a kick at these old trailers, so straight forward. "A cinematic experience like you've never seen before!"
I have a theory that in the earlier days of film, actors played the parts as if they were still on stage, not taking into account the subtleties that the screen is able to capture. This kind of overtness makes sense for the stage, where the audience would not be able to pick up natural characteristics and intonations; but I think it took many years for the film industry to realize that good performances on screen are basically just a reproduction of real life, no swooning or theatrics needed.
aHA, take that Count Tolstoy. I have officially reached the half way point on the behemoth War and Peace. I started reading this book for two reasons: 1 - I wanted to read the epic, the novel of all novels, and 2 - I loved Anna Karenina. So onward through the Tolstoyan catalog.
War and Peace sat on my table for a few weeks basically just because I was too intimidated to start it. But once I did, I can say it is really a page turner, full of drama and action. So fear not if you are considering reading it. This book is no Moby Dick, and there are no Grapes of Wrath chapters about a turtle tediously crossing the road.
Although its reputation precedes it and I am no doubt enjoying it, I do think that Anna Karenina is a better work of literature. Can I even say that? Not to take away from its magnitude and brilliance, I am in awe of it. Tolstoy manages to go obsessively into detail without losing sight of the big picture. But I think that War and Peace falters just a little under the size and scope of this big picture, so many characters, each one with a full set of conflict and emotion. But that is what Tolstoy does better than anyone, and that is why I am a devoted fan.
Somehow he can walk a character though their thought processes and actions so thoroughly and succinctly that you feel you know them personally without having everything spelled out. You know their temperament, how their past has effected them, how future turn of events would make them react, and how other character's personalities would agree or disagree with them. And to top it off, each of his characters are clearly, from the inside out, different people. He infuses each of them with a host of quirks and contradictions that make them as different and as similar as you and I. Authors are always told to give characters contradictions, and yet they so often seem strategic. Tolstoy's characters are unapologetically full of contradictions, and somehow they don't fall apart. They are brought to life all the more. While reading, it's almost like I'm in a room with all of these different people, thinking to myself I'd be friends with Levin and Kathryn, but probably not with Anna, only because she would be a little intimidating and hard to read.
I'm sure this is some kind of escapism, but I would be purely happy today just to disappear into 1812 Russia and let work, the future, finances, and all of my unfinished business, just pause while I sit in the sunshine and read.
Just read this in a research paper on the brain. Wow, that's a big difference.. just ate some cookies...ba..uhh..trying to form words... A study of one million students in New York showed that students who ate lunches that did not include artificial flavors, preservatives, and dyes did 14 percent better on IQ tests than students who ate lunches with these additives.