Hamilton Pool, near Austin, Texas. This is now being incorporated into my "happy place." Can only imagine how peaceful it is! Happy Friday!
*Freelancing always comes with a little rejection; in this case, this review was rejected not because of its quality, but because the website requesting blog posts changed its listings right after my submission went in, making this post irrelevant. But there's no reason this shouldn't see the light of day because of a little bad luck Enjoy!
50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True is interesting and potentially controversial piece of work. It takes on fifty common beliefs held by many around the world that are not supported by the scientific community, such as unfounded beliefs, bogus cures, and conspiracy theories; author Guy P. Harrison puts these beliefs to the test by examining them against hard scientific facts.
Though easily a book that could potentially offend readers - after all, some people do strongly believe in things like the existence of angels - Harrison handles his writing carefully, addressing readers and listeners respectfully and in a good-natured, good-humored manner.
In fact, Harrison's book is rather compassionate - his goal is not to offend anyone, but rather to both educate and encourage skepticism among people on either side of these popular though unscientific beliefs. He's fair and balanced, sometimes pointing out scientific fact, and other times admitting some things cannot be supported nor debunked by science. He often even offers suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter, rather than making a stand and arguing that his readers should only believe him.
Because of Harrison's style, the book is all the better for readers and listeners from all backgrounds, whether they want some resources to begin looking for their own answers in these debates or they want to find a way to try to understand their own family member who believes one of the fifty popular beliefs in this book. It's wonderfully challenging of readers, and as a result, not only is the book a highly entertaining read, it makes a well-reasoned and strong case for applying skepticism and rational thinking to our daily lives in an age where finding the answers often seems as easy as Googling for them. It's definitely a book that will open anyone's mind to the possibilities of both the world itself and the human brain's ability to believe the impossible.
Guy P. Harrison is a veteran journalist and award-winning writer, business owner, and the author of 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God and Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Biological Diversity. He is also a newspaper columnist and has published articles in Free Inquiry magazine and other publications.
I don't know about you, but I would much rather curl up in my house finding beautiful images on Pinterest than be out shopping today.
By now, most Americans are probably settling in for Thanksgiving, a beloved holiday despite the fact that we the people admittedly often celebrate and believe more myths surrounding the first Thanksgiving rather than facts. However, as the afternoon hours role by, instead of preparing for an evening of eating and being with their family, other citizens are preparing for one of two things: a work shift, or a strike.
When some stores began announcing that they would be open for 2012 Black Friday shopping as early as Thursday evening, many cried in outrage against the maneuver, whether they believed this sort of commercialism is unacceptable on Thanksgiving or because they themselves were one of the people forced to leave their family celebrations to go into work.
It shouldn't be surprising that following the stores' decision to open on Thursday, workers began to plan strikes at multiple sites; Walmart has received the most coverage in terms of planned worker strikes, partly because of the fact that this decision has acted as a springboard for people protesting against the company as a whole, and partly because of the company's filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in efforts to stop the protests. This was a remarkable move considering that usually it's Walmart employees filing complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, not the company itself.
(View this video HERE if it does not format correctly on your screen. My apologies for any inconvenience.)
At this point in time, there is no way we can predict what will happen the next few days. While plenty of people have expressed frustration with Black Friday weekend and the commercialism of the event overall, other news outlets and sites report that people do indeed want to shop on Thanksgiving.
Perhaps there will indeed be record numbers of people shopping this Thursday evening. Or perhaps stores will find themselves unable to function after their workers refuse to show up for their shifts. Or perhaps a third, unpredicted outcome will emerge during the following days.
But the simple fact is that as of now, we don't know what will happen. All that we do know is that this Thanksgiving, many stores will be opening in the evening, despite the backlash and anger from workers and citizens signing online petitions. All we can do at this hour is continue to cook our turkey, wait, and see what the news and business' numbers reveal during this weekend.
So from the title alone, I bet I lost half of my readers. To those who remained, hear me out, please.
Pixar’s “Brave” has definitely received lots of positive attention from critics and, upon its release, was often hailed as being a positive movie for women in Hollywood and the feminist movement in general.
I, however, think most of the people doing the praising haven’t bothered looking past the beautiful marketing of “OMFG, Pixar has finally made a movie with a female lead!” to the pile of stereotypes floating beneath the film’s surface. Regular readers won’t find this claim as a surprise, given my review of the film when it came out.
Do I have evidence to back this claim up? Yes, yes I believe I do. And please know, I adore Disney films and even deep down want to enjoy “Brave” – but I can’t ignore the problems in a movie when there are claims being made about it that I just don’t agree with.
With that said, These are the reasons I argue “Brave” hurts just as much as it helps when it comes to gender issues:
1. The men are only there for comedy
Feminism by definition is about equality of the sexes. But if feminism equals equality, why exactly are the men reduced to being butt-naked laughing stocks?
Major scenes involving the men in the movie include:
After the rope bit, Pixar then animates the men’s naked rears as they walk away from the tower. Shockingly, no mainstream critics actually discuss this little shenanigan, or how, to make the women look stronger and smarter, this movie had to make its men a constant joke and source of laughter.
2. The plot and the setting take sexism extremely lightly.
By making the movie set in 10th century Scotland, it sends a message that arranged marriages and similar sexist practices and acts are a thing of the past. And by making Merida’s problem as easy as saying, “No I won’t do it!”, it reduces the impact of sexism in general and promotes the idea that overcoming a patriarchal system is as easy as Merida makes it look. In other words, it’s a mild form of victim blaming. (And no, I’m not the only one to say this.)
3. Marriage is a central plot point in the film
“Brave” was hailed for being radical because it’s protagonist is a princess that does not get married. A far more radical idea and something worth praising in Hollywood would be a movie where marriage isn’t even a plot point. This is why we have the Bechdel Test, which actively points out just how movies use men and relationships as a central plot point. And “Brave” barely passes this test considering that while Merida and her mother don’t talk about a man in name, this entire movie more or less focuses on their argument over whether or not she needs to get married. The slight change in wording (man vs marriage) does not mean the topic is entirely different. And honestly, while “Brave” was praised as breaking new ground, really, it’s just a recycled Disney princess movie.
4. Merida is a princess
Speaking of being a princess movie: no matter what changes to her character trope were made, Merida is still a princess. She’s the height of tradition, which means Pixar chose to break new ground with a lead female that's in the most traditional of traditional female roles. This is especially quite a contrast considering that another film came out just before Brave, with its own bow-and-arrow carrying female lead. One with a plot that did not focus on marriage. I am of course talking about “The Hunger Games.” Yes, marriage was mentioned, but it certainly did not drive the story or the main character’s emotions the same way.
5. Merida is written like a boy
Roger Ebert wrote in his own review of the movie that Merida came off as an honorary boy in the film. So not only do we have a traditional female character role, we have a girl being written as a boy. People should absolutely not be praising Pixar as a feminist success if its main female lead comes off as a boy to a major movie critic. It’s a sign of bad writing and the underlining message is that to be a good women, you need to act like a man. Which, by the way, is also a criticism some made of a certain beloved Disney film...
6. The film’s merchandise betrays any positive changes it made to the princess trope.
The toys from this movie often carry messages like, “Look pretty and be brave, too.” Considering Merida never cared about her looks, that right there is just one example of how a positive message in the film is more or less wiped out by traditional merchandising. There’s also a legitimate concern about the impact merchandising may have on films and the messages being directed towards young girls in them.
So those are my reasons for having major issues with the film “Brave.” What do you think, readers? Valid points – or the words of one young woman overreacting?
Story first featured on WeSpeakNews.
A company with connections to the hospital drug supplier linked to a lethal meningitis outbreak is now under examination following a negative inspection report. The report comes from the Food and Drug Administration, which spent a month inspecting Ameridose, a Westborough, Mass.-based Company that has the same founders as the specialty pharmacy linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.
The report reveals filthy, unsanitary conditions at the facility, as well as the presence of insects and wildlife such as birds.
The company said in a statement that, “While Ameridose’s history shows clearly that we have not had any instance of contaminated products over the course of the past six years, which covers the manufacture and shipment of 70 million units of product, and have always been guided by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) referenced in federal regulations, Ameridose is committed to addressing all observations in order to enhance our existing systems. We are in the process of preparing a full response for presentation to the FDA.”
Ameridose had willingly shut down for inspection a month ago following the release of tainted steroids by sister company New England Compounding Center.
The inspection’s results coincide with the release of additional information about The New England Compounding Center. The Boston Globe reports the center “disregarded sterility tests, prepared medicine in unsanitary conditions, and violated their pharmacy license.”
As of November, the fungal meningitis outbreak resulting from the drugs’ contamination has spread to 19 states and claimed 32 lives. Despite the New England Compounding Center shutting down its operations and issuing a voluntary recall, an additional 13,000 people injected with the methylprednisolone acetate steroid are at risk and could develop symptoms in the near future, according to Jamila Jones, a public affairs specialist for the CDC in Atlanta.
Hm...I need a new word for "beautiful."
Gorgeous. Stunning. Maybe magnificent?
Well, no matter. Happy Friday!
*Freelancing always comes with a little rejection; in this case, this review was rejected not because of its quality, but because the website requesting blog posts changed its policy and now only accepts reviews of bestselling audiobooks, rather than reviews of bestsellers and popular items. But there's no reason this shouldn't see the light of day because of a little policy change. Enjoy! (And keep an eye out for my future review of the modern day reboot of this story!)
Another classic tale is now available as a downloadable audiobook; hot seller Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tells a tale that’s become so recognizable that even those who haven’t read the story know what happens. But knowing isn’t the same as experiencing, and this dramatized audiobook as performed by the Colonial Radio Theatre is the perfect way to participate in this chilling story about the good and evil that exists within each ordinary man and woman. That is, after all, the very nature of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – two sides of the same coin, with all inhibitions eliminated, and as a result, any hope of controlling the evil residing within oneself disappears.
The joy of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is not necessarily the story; it can’t be when the secrets and plot twists are almost universally known. The true joy comes in the exploration of the characters, and any performance needs to highlight this to be successful.
Fortunately, Colonial Radio Theatre has created a brilliant recording for listeners; staying true to the classic book as penned by Robert Louis Stevenson, the tone and pacing creates the perfect atmosphere: dark and moody. The delivery given by the actors truly transports the listener to the claustrophobic streets of London; as an added bonus, music is used sparingly in this recording, which highlights the true talent of everyone involved with this audiobook as each actor works hard to tell the story without the aid of music.
In a world dominated by remakes and modern-day reboots, this little gem offers a taste of a classic tale untouched by the modern-day world; in fact, the strength of the tale in its original form is a fantastic testimonial to just how universal the themes of humanity, good and evil are, always have been, and always will be. Download this bestselling audiobook today and be prepared for a dive into the darkest corners of an ordinary man’s mind.
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A literary celebrity during his lifetime, Stevenson now ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world.
The Colonial Radio Theatre is a radio drama production company based out of Boston, Massachusetts. Officially established in 1995 by Jerry Robbins and Mark Vander Berg, this team has collaborated with such authors as Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Halloween Tree, Dandelion Wine, The Martian Chronicles) and William Luce (Barrymore).
This week's "Artful Friday" post is more or less me cheating my way out of writing a review for a mind blowing movie - "Cloud Atlas." I freely admit this.
But I feel justified doing so, because, like any great piece of art, "Cloud Atlas" cannot be truly reviewed or summarized; one has to experience it for themselves.
This post did not make it up on Friday because I did not get to this movie until 10:00 p.m. Friday night. And after three hours, the movie ended, and I walked out of that movie theater with a friend, stunned into silence.
24 hours later, I am still thinking about what I saw, about the messages being conveyed in this film, and about the amazing amount of work that went into the multiple stories played by the same cast - a cast so talented that several times, they disappeared into their role under so many layers of paint and make-up one could not tell which actor was who in what story.
In the words of Roger Ebert, "Even as I was watching 'Cloud Atlas' the first time, I knew I would need to see it again. Now that I've seen it the second time, I know I'd like to see it a third time ... I think you will want to see this daring and visionary film."
Two days ago, I didn't even know this movie existed. Now, I can't even begin to imagine how this movie that could have passed me by may impact the world of film. I also cannot wait to see how many awards this movie wins.
My conclusion? See this film. I very rarely say a film is a perfect work of art, but in this case, I can happily make an exception. So see it, and take the time to let it sweep you into the complex weaving of several very simple stories - stories that capture and display some of the most basic elements of humanity, ugly and beautiful alike.
Even before I, a 22-year-old, headed out to vote today, the media had predicted that people in my age bracket would not be coming out in large numbers to vote this year, same as almost every other year.
It's not a secret that young people rarely vote; the 2008 election has been accepted as the exception to the norm: even during a good year, the turnout among the youth stays low. According to data released by CIRCLE, a nonpartisan research center at Tufts University, even in the 2008 election, only around half of people aged 18 – 29 actually voted.
What gives? Well, as luck would have it, this is a topic I’ve actually researched and even spoken to people about for other stories. And so, for your reading pleasure, here are the six main reasons I've had come up in my research that, year after year, the youngest age bracket doesn’t step into the polling booths:
1. They forget.
Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but it turns out that around 20 percent of young voters actually forget to go to the booths and cast their vote. Since research is not always an exact science, the actual reasons for this happening are up for debate. Maybe personal problems become that distracting, maybe some kids just don’t feel like leaving bed that particular Tuesday, or, being young voters, they’re just not in the habit of voting, and so, they forget.
2. They aren’t living at home.
Since young voters tend to be the ones in college or traveling in search of a job, not being home can be a huge reason they don’t bother going to vote. If they’re temporarily living in a dorm, changing their polling address becomes a hassle (my own brother didn’t do this – he opted to take the bus home. Note: he lives in the same city he goes to college at). If they’re moving, they may just not get around to officially changing their address and updating their polling cards in time.
3. Young voters see no point in voting for people they don’t trust.
I don’t think anyone really trusts governments these days, assuming they ever did – but the youth do so even less. And in their minds, if they as a voter don't trust a candidate to do what they promised in their campaign, why would they vote for them in the first place? Unable to trust candidates to follow through with their campaign pledges, young voters tend to just tune out elections and focus on their own lives, rather than waste their energy on politics.
4. Young voters often do not believe that their vote can make a difference and that their lives would be exactly the same whether they showed up to the polling place or not.
Everyone has heard or dealt the idea that “my single vote/opinion/idea doesn’t make a difference.” Guess what? Young people especially have no reason to believe this. Even when they do vote, it seems as if the political game never changes. Would politics actually change a little if young voters were a force for politicians to contend with? Well, we’ll probably never know – not as long as young voters avoid the booth. And yes, this whole situation has definitely created a chicken-and-the-egg dilemma.
5. Young adults are often intimidated and often uninformed.
There is a lot of information out there about elections, from news sources to fact checking sites to personal opinion and attack blogs. Sorting through the information can be overwhelmingly difficult. Combine this with a poor education system that really doesn’t prepare students when it comes to understanding the history of America’s government or following current events, and you get intimidated young people who are too overwhelmed to really start informing themselves about the process.
6. Young adults are still, in many ways, children.
This really isn’t meant to be an insult, I swear! But think about it. Young adults, despite technically being adults, are still children in many ways. This is not an insult. It’s just true. At the age of 18 and for many of the years that follow, the country itself is probably not a main concern for young people. And it’s not because they’re stupid, or selfish. It’s because young adults don’t have the same responsibilities that people in, say, their 30s or 40s, do. Need more proof? Data suggests that the three factors that truly make a difference in voting are money, marriage and homeownership. Really now, how many college kids have to deal with these things?
In the end, it often seems like the political system affects a young adult’s parents far more than them. Of course, I bed to differ, knowing friends directly affected by the healthcare laws and increases in Pell grant funding in recent years.
But hey, I’m just a young adult myself – what do I know?
Happy election day!
11/7: I'm happy to report that initial reports and predictions were wrong! Youth voter turnout surpassed expectation yet again this year.
I'm quite content being wrong in this case.
Welcome to the Eclectic Corner!
One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that you have lots of opportunity to consider and learn about a wide range of topics. Given the eclectic nature of my profession, I hope to use my blog as a platform to write about a multitude of topics related to my interests, from social media to current pop culture topics.
Please be patient when checking for updates - work does take up most of my time, after all!