Tag Archives: culture

Alternative Engineering

Article by Stephen Novella, M.D.

A new phenomenon is sweeping the country, gaining the attention of both consumers and manufacturers alike. Increasingly disenchanted with the cold metallic world of modern technology, people are looking closely at more natural alternatives. Collectively called Alternative Engineering (“Alt Eng”), a host of new and old methods are gaining scientific and journalistic respectability.

Alec Waterstone is one such self-styled alternative engineer. He has no degree or formal training in engineering, which, he explains, is an advantage: “My thinking is not limited by mathematics, logic, or any stodgy old mechanistic paradigm. I do not have to pay homage to the likes of Newton or other Western male pedagogues. My complete lack of training frees me to consider unique and innovative solutions to engineering problems, unfettered by the annoying constraints of “reality.”

Energy-Based Bridges

Alec’s latest project is a design for a 1200-foot non-suspension bridge. He claims the bridge will be able to span this distance without pylons or overhead suspension, and will be supported only by the ancient art of Feng Shui. “This wisdom, which is thousands of years old, is the art of channeling energy through design and form. This energy can be used to support a 1200-foot bridge, or even larger structures.” City planners are intrigued by these designs, because such bridges will cost less than half as much as conventionally designed bridges.

Alec is also quick to point out that ancient Chinese documents reveal absolutely no accounts of collapsing suspension bridges. His technique’s safety record is, he argues, unparalleled. “How else would it have survived all these years if it didn’t work?

Anthony Trellis, a professor of engineering at State-of-the Art University, claims that Alec’s designs run contrary to basic principles of physics and materials science. An exasperated Trellis commented, “A bridge based upon Waterstone’s designs simply could not stand. It would be unsafe in the extreme.”

But Alec is not perturbed by such criticism. “Of course professor Trellis does not like my designs, because they challenge his precious status quo and turn his world upside-down. But the protectionism of the old guard is starting to crumble, like one of their obsolete buildings,” he retorted at a recent symposium for progressive thinkers who agreed that those who fail to jump on the bandwagon will be left behind. His talk to a standing-room-only crowd also accused the American Society of Civil Engineers, the steel industry, and other “vested interests” of trying to suppress his views.

Skeptics have suggested that before we spend millions of taxpayer dollars on such projects, and subject American motorists to the unknown risks of driving over a Waterstone bridge, Waterstone’s basic principles should at least be tested to see whether they work. This is especially true since his designs seem to run contrary to conventional wisdom. But Waterstone responds:

I”m too busy designing bridges to jump through some skeptic’s hoops. They will never be satisfied, anyway. The American motorists should be free to decide for themselves if they wish to drive over one of my bridges. I respect their intelligence and ability to make smart decisions for themselves. They don’t need to be told by some bureaucrat, or professor in an ivory tower, which bridges are safe and which are not.

Professor Trellis and other naysayers argue that individuals should not have to be scientists or engineers in order to drive safely over our bridges. Regulations are not designed to limit freedom, but to provide a basic level of safety and protection for the public. This attitude, however, is increasingly being dismissed as overly paternalistic and protective.

Intuitive Cars

Civil engineers are not the only ones gravitating toward the ancient wisdom of pre-technological societies. The auto industry is also catching on. Natural Designs is a new car company based in Kansas. Its president and CEO, Andy Wily, received a degree in engineering from Harvard 20 years ago, but was fired from his subsequent teaching position after excessive drug use nearly destroyed his life. Now he has returned with a new company and a new philosophy that many consumers find appealing.

“I am advocating a mixture of the best of modern scientific engineering with the antiscientific and superstitious ideas of earlier times,” explains Wily. “I call this approach Integrative Engineering.”

What has this new approach created? Natural Design’s newest model sedan, the Millennium 2000, does not use air bags, or even seatbelts. “Seat belts are dangerous, and air bags are kid-killers,” complains Wily. So he has come up with something better. The interior of the Millennium 2000 is coated with a patented psychoactive material, called Natural Safe. “All a driver or passenger has to do is think safe thoughts, and this miraculous material will do the rest. In a crash, the material will gently repel any safe thinking person in the vehicle, leaving them free from injury,” Wily asserts.

When skeptics point to deaths or disability for Millennium 2000 passengers, Wily replies that the passengers clearly weren’t thinking as “safely” as they should have been. “Besides,” he adds, “the Millennium 2000 only goes 50 miles per hour on a good day with a happy wind behind it. If the motorists who were killed had been driving something developed by the International Automaker’s Cartel like a Ford or Chevy, they’d have been traveling much faster with an even greater chance of death. When Ford quits murdering thousands of people a year on our highways, then their complaints about us will look like something besides protecting market share. In fact, we have a study right here that shows that if everyone quit driving tomorrow, the death rate would go down in America! Until we can convince the American people of the millions killed needlessly by modern ‘automotive science’, Natural Safe remains the safest choice.”

Many consumers are convinced. Not to be outdone, GM and Ford both have started putting Natural Safe coatings in their cars. Amy Zinger, of Arkansas, survived a 40 mph head-on collision in one such vehicle. “I was wearing my seat belt, and the air bag did deploy, but I know it was the Natural Safe that saved my life,” she asserted recently. “Besides,” she points out, “If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t be allowed to sell it.” Motivated by such testimonials, more and more consumers are insisting on only buying cars treated with Natural Safe.

One problem faced by Natural Designs, however, is that outdated safety regulations, such as those requiring seatbelts, do not account for these new integrative designs. Recently, however, this has all changed. Senator Hackem, from Natural Design’s home state of Iowa, has pushed through legislation that will exempt manufacturers that use Alternative or Integrative principles from regulations designed to protect consumers. This was hailed as a great step forward.

Still, hard-headed skeptics will not go away. “All I’m asking for is a simple crash test” exclaimed noted skeptic, Perry DeAngelis. “If the stuff really works, heck, I’ll buy it.” Skeptics have been increasingly calling for such tests, arguing that testing should take place before implementation, especially when human lives are at stake.

But Wily explains why such tests won’t work. “Crash dummies are not people. The psychoactive material will therefore not respond to them. The fact is, these innovative designs cannot be subjected to the same testing and principles as traditional engineering. But consumers who drive our cars feel safer. How can you argue with that.”

Still, DeAngelis points to recent studies which seem to indicate that drivers of Wily’s cars are twice as likely to die in a crash as are drivers of conventional vehicles. But Wily merely scoffs, “What are you going to believe, numbers on a piece of paper, or people?”

Political Achievement

Despite the skeptics, Alternative Engineering seems here to stay. Wily has just been named chairman of the new Integrative Engineering Department at Zones University, where he hopes to train the next generation of engineers in his philosophy. Meanwhile, Senator Hackem has pushed through Congress a bill to create Center for Alternative Engineering. This new office will divert money being wasted on maintaining this country’s infrastructure and use it to study and promote alternative principles in engineering.

Finally, in what is characterized as a landmark coup in the making, the Canadian College of Rainbow-Coloured Integrative Engineering — after spending more than 100 years as a scientific pariah — is finalizing negotiations to become part prestigious Dork University. Despite howls of dismay from Dork’s math and science faculty and several Nobel laureates, Dork’s Senate has pushed onward with its plans for affiliation. The $25 million dollars that the Integrative Engineers have promised to give the University has not, according to Dork’s President, influenced the deal. The president characterized critics of Integrative Engineering as “crybabies” who espouse “long disproven misinformation” about Alternative Engineering.

____________

Dr. Novella is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine and an Associate Editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine.

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it’s not easy being green: yes, we cannabis

Stealthy as a socialist,

It slithers up our shores,

Turning all our children into hooligans and whores!!

Please enjoy a clip from one of the best films ever made:

Yup, this posting is about weed.


I’m not sure I have explicitly stated this, but I am a fan of the green.  Before you dismiss me as another stoned slacker, (which, to be sure, I wish I were), I actually don’t smoke pot anymore on any sort of regular basis, if ever.  However, I was quite the pothead back in the day.  Don’t judge me.  All the cool kids were doing it.

Thus, the green has a special place in my heart, and I hate that it has been so mistreated.

During one particularly bong-hit ridden day during college, I took it upon myself to venture to the biomedical library to do a little research.  You see, I had been smoking mary j mutiple times per day for a few years, and the thought occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t the best idea.  Yes, it took me a few years to even conceive of this notion.  What can I say–I was too busy focusing on visual stimuli.

But why is smoking pot a bad idea?  I’m very much the sort of person who does things unless I can think of a good reason why not to do them–I feel that life is meant to be an experience and therefore pretty much any experience in worthwhile in my book.  But, I digress.

I went to the library to find the straight dope (pun intended-I’m so fucking clever) on cannabis. The biomedical library was a majestic place because it allowed one access not only to published information, but also to research that was in progress or not published, for whatever reason (I obviously objectively evaluated the validity of the articles I read to be sure that if it was not published, it was not due to erroneous data/procedure/etc).  And the bottom line is: I found out that pot really isn’t all that bad for you.  In terms of long-term effects, it has less than I had previously thought–and there were even marked POSITIVE effects of THC.  Fancy that, bitches! (Government bitches, that is.)

Nerd moment: because I am feeling a little ambitious today, I am going to share with you two things.  One: in the case of neurodegenerative/neuroinflammatory disorders, cannabinoids are a helpful therapeutic intervention (Gordon, Jabri, and Underwood, 2006).  Two:  Although multiple studies have found impairments in multiple areas of functioning whilst under the influence (like, duh),  the effects of long-term, frequent use remain inconclusive–that is, there are findings that dispute one another (Messinis, 2006).

In other words–pot has been proven to have some positive effects, and its possible (alleged) negative effects have not been clearly/properly/extensively documented.

Yet…it’s still illegal.

The illegality brings in all sorts of sociopolitical considerations when one chooses to burn the devil’s leaves–and guess what those considerations usually do?  Kill one’s buzz, obviously.

So what is the solution?

That is an interesting conundrum.  I don’t know that there is one.  My friends and I were discussing the fact that LOTS of people smoke pot…and I do mean LOTS…yet no one really wants to openly talk about it or try to effect change in this arena.  I can’t say I’m too keen on the idea of publicly associating my name with reefer–even though I love it like a pothead loves cake.

And why is that?  Because of closeminded, judgemental people.

The general idea that pot is SO terrible is not even founded, and actually causes more problems than it counteracts, in my opinion.  A perfect example is the fact that for many professions, random drug testing is involved.  THC stays in one’s system at detectable levels far longer than other harder drugs…I have had friends actually tell me that they stopped smoking pot because of drug testing, only to start hitting up the yay pretty hard.  Now THAT is effective substance control.  BRAVO, strategists for the ‘war on drugs’.

All of this said, I know some people reading this will write me off as some crazed stoner.  It boggles my mind that people in our society can possibly be so judgemental about marijuana, yet think nothing of the exorbitant amount of prescription drugs being prescribed after extremely minimal evaluation, or even the incredible prevalence of alcohol use in our society.

I can’t precisely recall where I got this idea (so it may or may not be based upon fact, although I’m 80% sure it is, hah!) but I am under the impression that the short-term stresses of alcohol upon the body, as well as the long-term effects of prolonged indulgence in adult beverages, put more physiological strain on the body than marijuana use.  I think this is true to a certain extent neurologically as well, but at the very least, alcohol and marijuana are comparable in terms of the scope of their effects on the brain.

Subjectively, I can say wholeheartedly that I have never done things I regret whilst stoned (not the case when I get my hands on too many tequila shots), and to be frank, I don’t feel as ‘fucked up’ whilst stoned as I do when I am drunk.  In fact, a significant reason why I am such a fan of the pot is the fact that it stimulates me cognitively, and has thereby caused me to have really interesting experiences, whereas alcohol causes intoxication through the inhibition of cognitive function–yielding some experiences that could be called ‘interesting’ in a different sense entirely.

This is by no means an exhaustive examination or discussion, as I think there are multiple other scientific (i.e. biological/physiological/neurological) facets of pot smoking, as well as various sociopolitical elements of the issue–these are just my immediate thoughts on the subject, as for me, writing in my weblog is a way of organizing my thoughts more than it is an attempt to construct a properly written assessment! Even so, I hope that if you actually read this whole thing, you found it (somewhat? mildly?) informative and as intriguing at I tend to!

(And, for the record, I don’t advocate smoking pot in excess, because anything in excess is not a good idea.  And furthermore, in case you’re wondering, a major reason why I don’t smoke pot anymore is because I observed changes in certain areas of cognitive function which were consistent with the documented effects of long-term chronic marijuana use…so I’m not saying it’s all good.  I just think the demonisation of the practice of toking up is too much.)

What are your thoughts on this issue?

xx Charlee

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true confessions & revolutionary road review (kind of)

I have a confession to make my friends: I have no clue how I got into the world of academia (if you can call it that–hint: you can’t).

No. Fucking. Clue.  I’m not very well-suited to intellectualism in terms of personality (or intellectuality, for that matter) and I don’t think I ever consciously decided I wanted to end up where I am today.  The point is…I at some point came to the conclusion (okay, I’m pretty sure I was watching a film by some sort of overly-clichéd director, and was most likely baked out of my skull) that I should have gone to film school.  It was never something I even remotely considered, but I think it would have been pretty fucking sweet.

ANYWAY, because of this latent desire, I sometimes feel the need to write my opinions on films I have seen.  So, enjoy the exorcism of my half-baked scheme.

I recently saw the film Revolutionary Road and really enjoyed it, as I knew I would, because Kate Winslet + Leonardo Dicaprio = two of the greatest actors of our time, in my humble opinion.

Something that was quite striking to me was the intimacy of the filmmaking.  I recalled after the film that Kate Winslet’s husband (Sam Mendes) directed the film, to which the unique presentation can probably be attributed.  There was something vaguely marked about way the story of this couple was told, and I had trouble conceptualizing precisely what it was, but I really think the best way to describe it is that it was particularly intimate–every facet of their marriage, their emotions, and the complex interplay between the two, came across on the screen.  It really seems fitting and explanatory that there existed this incredibly close relationship between the person behind the camera and the person in front of it (as much of the film revolved around Kate’s character).

Aside from the philosophical takeaway I got from the film, I enjoyed it stylistically–the music/costumes/set design were magnificent and made the story far more engaging.  The acting was absolutely superb, not only in the lead roles, but there were a number of supporting characters (namely, Leo’s work buddies, their overzealous garden-obsessed neighbor, and her institutionalized son) that I felt added a lot to the film and whom I thought about afterward.  Some of the dialogue was a bit much for me (some of the lines actually made me laugh, during dramatic scenes) but that is a complaint I have fairly often.

The ‘story’ was basically of these two people and their perceptions, interactions, and methods of coping with a life that had not been meticulously constructed to suit them.  They questioned whether or not this was the life they’d imagined (any Thoreau fans out there?) and what–if anything–they could change in their collective life to increase their satisfaction with it.  To be more precise, the fundamental concept that underlied their conundrum (in my view) was whether their circumstances needed to be altered, or if it was simply their perception that needed changing.

I often wonder this in my own life–particularly because I tend to do things that I think I am expected to do.  A perfect example would be my choice to get a relatively serious job, when I was perfectly happy chilling and being  a barista–I felt lazy and lame about that choice, but the truth is, I took time off from my studies so that I could have time to myself and not have to worry about the world’s idea of what I should want.

Ergo, this film really resonated with me.  I think many of us ‘go with the flow’ only to one day look at our lives and wonder who told us that we had to want all of this…whether it’s the two kids and the picket fence in suburbia (as in the film) or a career in academia or medicine or some other pretty serious field (as in my life!)–as I think she said in the film, at some point, we just keep doing what we’ve been doing to prove to ourselves that it hasn’t all been a mistake.

Interestingly, the person who most identified with this notion in the film was the one who had been deemed insane.   Kate’s character’s plans for “fixing” her life were portrayed as unrealistic, and yet the ‘crazy person’ in the film thought they were entirely necessary–this is very interesting to me and quite relevant, I think, in the overall conversation about what happiness is, and the role of desires and practicality within that conception.

I really enjoyed the film.  It really spoke to the numbing nature of certain aspects of life and did a really wonderful job of examining different perspectives of life in suburbia, and life in general.

I’m not sure I’d view it again (although I very rarely view films twice due to my attention deficit) but it was very thought-provoking for me and I’m quite pleased that I finally got around to seeing it! Definitely worth seeing, blogga-buddies. :)

xx Charlee

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The Bubble

Did anyone see 30 rock this week?  I absolutely love that program–The Office was really the only television show I was into, and then I realised that not watching Tina Fey’s program when I have an EPIC girl crush on Tina Fey was just odd.   The point is, YOU SHOULD WATCH IT! (Or at least tivo it with sincere intentions.)

I digress.  In this episode Tina (or Liz as I believe she is called on the show) was dating this doctor who thought he was a magnificent cook, a fabulous tennis player, blah blah bnlah blah…well it came to light that he actually sucked at everything.  Everyone was just being nice to him because he’s a sexy docta!

As of late I have been having a bit of an identity crisis and this episode made me wonder if I, too, have been living in a bubble.

This started last weekend.  I had to spend time with Lover’s awful sister.  His whole family is lacking in coolness if you ask me (and just in case you DO read this my dear, please remember that loving someone does not mean loving their family! :) ) but homegirl takes the fucking cake.  She tells these exasperatingly long stories and really just rubs me the wrong way.  Generally, I make a lot of effort to avoid people that don’t please me…but this is one thing I could not get out of.

Every time I said something, it was like she had this whole story about why what I said was wrong, or how I should rethink what I said.  I mean, honestly?  I know I have a big mouth.  I know that may be bothersome at times…but I’m over it.  We all have our idiosyncrasies, and it is what it is.  Why the hell does she even care what I like?   I don’t expect anyone else to agree with me or think in the same manner…and even though I might not like certain things, it doesn’t mean I dislike the PEOPLE associated with them. Everyone is different, bitch! Come off it!

She was just so utterly bothersome, but I think I’ve made my point that we just didn’t get on well.

However, she is a bit tricky, because she succeeded in making me think about some of the things that she said to me, almost a week later–and this is why I avoid people who have studied psychology extensively.  I had a lover who also did, and like homegirl, he used his knowledge mostly for EVIL.

So now I’m wondering if I, too, have lived in a bubble which only includes people who love me…and it’s true, I really hate interacting with people whom I have not endeared myself to in one way or another.

Now I feel that many of my perceptions could just be reflections of people telling me what I want to hear!  What a horrific thought!

I think we all have our own bubbles to some extent, but perhaps some people are more insulated, so to speak, than others.

What do you think?  Do you believe in the idea of ‘The Bubble’ confusing your self-concept?  Do you think YOU live in a bubble?

I’d love to know!

x C

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best marketing strategy ever

I’m not a fan of reality tv.

I did watch the first Bachelorette and quite enjoyed it, but I believe that was primarily due to the fact that I was about 13.  Actually–that isn’t true–I’d probably watch a ton of shit tv if it weren’t for the fact that I have severe ADHD that prevents me from boob tubing it for more than about 30 minutes.  But the point is, this post is about The Bachelor.  (Accordingly, I apologize in advance if I don’t have my facts straight!)

I cannot imagine my outrage if I’d actually watched the show, but holy media saturation, batman!  I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard about what happened about 30 times within the past few days.

So, if you did not hear or are unfamiliar with the idea behind the show, the shortened version is that homeboy (‘The Bachelor’) lives out many a male fantasy with a harem of women who are grossly smitten by him from day one.  He dates them, they cry, he gives them roses and kicks them to the curb, they cry some more and declare homeboy The One.  One of these lucky women (barf) gets chosen by ‘The Bachelor’ and he proposes.

Well, this time, they did not walk hand in hand off set only to break up 8 months later.  This time, they broke up a month later.

But that isn’t all my friends.  No, that is NOT all.  Homeboy declared that he was just not that into the girl he’d PROPOSED to only a few weeks earlier, and decided that the lady he sent packing was indeed the one he should have chosen.

Disregarding the obvious stupidity of the entire ordeal, I have to say that there is no way that could be legit–as in, not manufactured by the producers of the program.  Who in the hell cared about the Bachelor a few weeks ago?  (Okay, I suppose there is a group of single 20-something women splitting their time between drooling over engagement rings and thinking about this program.)  But now, it has been getting so much attention…mostly because of the sheer ridiculousness of it, but even so, there’s no such thing as bad publicity my friends.

The dude from the show claims he simply had a “change of heart” or whatever.  I have a few things to say about this.  Number one: not only is he 32, but he has a child.  What kind of person is he that he plans to marry a woman and then ditches her for another?  I don’t really believe he would be so irresponsible with such a serious choice, especially given the fact that he is rather old and is making choices not only for himself, but for his son.  I would like to make another point–and I would like to thank People Magazine for assisting me with this:

WHAT IN THE HELL IS HE WEARING????

No, really.  REALLY.  How could 30 women be into a guy who dresses like a Fall Out Boy reject turned Abercrombie model??

I mean okay, he probably didn’t choose his own clothing on the show?  I pray this is the case and some overzealous costume designer (who is obviously oh-so-talented, to land such an enviable position!) misperceived the fact that he is not cool enough or–okay I’ll say it–young enough to pull that shit off.  He seriously looks like a fool.

I just had to let that out.

Anyway, I give hella props to the people behind this stunt because not unlike most people (since I don’t think the show is too highly rated), it takes a lot for me to think about The Bachelor and I’ve not only thought about it, but become interested in it, and even written a weblog about it.  And that, my friends, is the magic of marketing!

x C

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i am the queen of indecision

Sorry I have been MIA from blogga world!   That is partly because I’ve been very busy (barf) but also because a few rather difficult events have occurred recently in my life, and it’s hard to write about something relatively trivial when someone (or in my case, someoneS) that you love are going through serious sh*t.  At the same time, to try to write about the intense life-and-death events that have recently occurred is quite difficult also–I actually find writing rather therapeutic and began to write a posting about the things that have happened, but then I started to question if I really felt comfortable putting that much of myself–that much incredibly personal information–out into the world.

I’m an incredibly private person, and I know that is something people say fairly often, but I really am exceptionally private to the point that I’ve been called ‘secretive’.  It’s not that I really go out of my way to keep things to myself, it’s just that I don’t understand others’ expectation to be privy to the goings-on in my life; this is something that seems to really bother a lot of people in my life, but one has to wonder why our society has become one where everyone’s entire lives are completely public and “out-there”.  Since when did it become normal to chronicle our entire lives for our friends–and even strangers, and why has it become the norm to expose oneself rather intimately, seemingly without a second thought?

Seriously–facebook, myspace, weblogs–how much of yourself do you put on the internet for all to see?  I find facebook quite invasive, and to be frank, a bit freaky, but it’s basically unavoidable.  That said, I rarely use it and don’t really have very much information/photos/etc. on there, nor will I become “friends” with someone on there unless I know them incredibly well.  Facebook has long freaked me out, and I did have a weblog before this one, but it was anonymous.  Oddly enough, until recently, I hadn’t given a second thought to the implications of having a weblog and writing about my entire life, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

For some reason, to me, it feels as though putting certain aspects of my life out there for public consumption trivializes them.  This is just another way that I seem weird to my friends apparently, but it happens to be a facet of who I am that the nature of things and the philosophy behind many aspects of my existence consumes me at times.  I just feel like I need to own my life and my relationships–and I know that one might wonder how sharing things with people changes that–and I suppose in reality, it doesn’t, but the idea of speaking casually and nonchalantly about the things that are dear to me–the things in my life that I consider sacred–just isn’t appealing to me.  I’d rather not discuss them at all.

Not to mention–it isn’t anyone’s fucking business…I couldn’t care less about the details of my friends’ relationships, etc. (unless of course they are seeking advice or comfort or whatever) so I don’t know why they not only care about that information, but seem to think I am obligated to share it.

Part of the reason I am so weird about this could be that I come from a somewhat public family, and I probably on some level resent that, even if I don’t consciously think I do.

Anyway, I will most likely get over this soon, because I do enjoy writing on here and it is rather cathartic in a lot of ways.  Sometimes my crazy need for privacy just becomes extra intense, or as my therapist would say, I have ‘intimacy issues’ at times.

Hope all is chill with you, blogga-buddies! :)

xx Charlee

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bullets are pretty chill

Reasons why I am happy right now:

  • I am going to ‘n’awlins’ for pardi gras.  With my little bro ! Yes!
  • My bogus cleanse is over and I can once again eat hard food…and drink (ergo:)
  • I am a bit tipsy.
  • The worst day of work EVER is finally over :) :) :)

Things that are cramping my style right now:

  • Consideration of the hangover I’m going to be doomed with tomorrow
  • My concern for America’s economic future
  • The piles of work I have sitting on my desk anxiously awaiting my attention

Thus, blogga-world, I do not believe you will be hearing from me until I return from New Orleans–I will be bringing my laptop, of course, and I’ll have my mobile so perhaps I shall feel motivated to blog…although more likely than not I’ll be intoxicated.  So there’s that.

Also…I just feel inclined to say that I was reading a fellow blogga’s thoughts on blogging recently, and she said something like ‘I am a writer, and not, I want to add emphatically, a diarist.’  Now…I want to emphatically add that I was equally amused and annoyed by this statement.   This could be a reason why I’m not the prom queen of  blogga-world, but in case you couldn’t tell, I am a diarist!  Weblogs are not theses, they are not novels, and I don’t really take them all that seriously–this is mostly due to the fact that I don’t take anything too seriously, but of the things that should be taken seriously in my mind, weblogging isn’t particularly high on the list.  Thus, I put very little thought into what the hell I write on here and just kind of ramble about whatever is on my mind at my time.  I don’t censor myself and I don’t really think about how I might be coming across.  Sometimes this results in me reading things I’ve written and feeling like an arse, but the thing is that I spend most of my life behaving in an appropriate and polite manner and this is sort of my outlet for the thoughts that are not necessarily expressed.  I think this is kind of problematic because I think writing something makes it seem as though the ideas being expressed are well thought out or complete depictions of the issue at hand, and thus a passing thought becomes this statement of what I believe or think–when often it’s just a small slice of my overall view on something that is skewed by a variety of factors, ie. recent events in my life, my mood, my disposition, etcetera. And for the love of god (or whatever) please don’t take anything I say all that seriously. Lord knows I don’t.

That is kind of ramble-y, but hopefully you get the point even though I don’t think I’ve made much sense. I really enjoy the fact that I don’t need to worry about being politically correct, polite, etcetera on here–sure I think it probably leads to me expressing a lot of negativity and shit, but it needs to be expressed my friends! Also–believe it or not–I rarely curse in real life.  Isn’t that strange?  I was thinking about how a lot of people don’t curse in their weblogs, and the thing is that I don’t really curse when speaking–but I do curse when thinking.  Haha.  Doesn’t everyone?

So the things I say on here…I think they should be read as thoughts, as writing for me is more of an expression of thought than it is a means of stating something.

Hah, I think that sounds kind of contradictory and stupid, but it is the best way of conveying what I’m trying to say…

I think I need some sleep!

If I don’t write from nola, peace and love for the next few days! :)

x C

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on societal standards of beauty, etc. etc.

It being fashion week and all, I have been thinking about this a lot…

I did a pretty strict cleanse for about a week and ended up losing some weight (most likely–I don’t own a scale but I can usually tell anyway).  After this, my brother asked me ‘if I’d been sick’ because ‘I looked frail’.  Now, firstly, I think this is kind of an offensive thing to say–but it was, after all, my big bro, so I let it slide.  Secondly, though, upon bringing this up to roomie, she told me that I looked fine to her.  On the bright side, I feel as though this justifies the extreme gluttony I plan to engage in this weekend. :)

But these interactions caused me to consider two things: one, why do women have a different definition of an appropriate weight than men, and two, the fact that many of us are probably thinner than we would be at our “natural” or “baseline weight” (I can’t really remember what it’s called?).

Ms. Moss

Although retrospectively, I realise I grew up in an environment where thinness was emphasized, I don’t think it was something I was acutely aware of until college–perhaps partially due to the freshman 15, which I learned is no myth.  I have a perception that my uni was above average in terms of social pressure regarding appearance, due to my own perceptions as well as hearing those of friends who attended other institutions…whether or not my perception is accurate I do not know.  However, I can say that jokes that our university was filled with ‘anorexic cokeheads’ were nearly ubiquitous–both within our student body and with students from surrounding schools.

As for me, I actually like to be very thin, aesthetically speaking I find it to be the most pleasing look to me.  However, I’m also quite concerned with health, so I would not put my health at risk to suit my aesthetic preferences.  I’m not crazy about it or anything…but like I said, I like the appearance of very thin women; I have a girl crush of epic proportions on Kate Moss, as I think she’s incredibly gorgeous–and we all know girlfriend is quite thin.  The odd thing is, sometimes when I am happier with my body, I see photographs of myself and think I look awful.  Do other women feel this way?  It really is quite ironic because I really like the “heroin chic” look on other people, but when it comes to myself, I hate looking at myself and feeling that I appear as though I’ve just finished a four-day bender and am on the verge of death.  Haha, well that’s a bit dramatic, but you know what I mean, don’t you?  If not, here are a few photographic representations of my aesthetic preferences, courtesy of the fashion industry:

A shot from my favourite Chanel ad campaign (I think it was spring/summer a few years ago)

A shot from my favourite Chanel ad campaign (I think it was spring/summer a few years ago)

A Prada Advertisement

A Prada Advertisement

Kate Moss again, in a YSl ad

Kate Moss again, in an Yves Saint Laurent ad

The irony is of course that no one does “heroin chic” quite like Kate Moss, but that it should be called cocaine chic in her case, because she obviously hits the booger sugar quite often, a fact that has been relatively well-documented.

Also, I don’t really care what anyone says, I sincerely doubt that any high fashion model follows a healthy diet–perhaps they are naturally thin, yes, but to be 6 ft tall and weigh 110 pounds is probably only genetically possible for a infinitesimally small slice of the population…so I don’t buy the notion that models and the fashion industry are selling anything other than unhealthy lifestyles, despite constant proclamations to the contrary.

Perhaps this makes me a bit of a hypocrite, as I more or less fit the very definition of the word perfectly in the sense that I don’t “practice what I preach” in this arena, because I think a lot of our culture’s ideas about beauty are seriously f*cked up…but I adhere to them anyway–to a certain extent at least.  It is quite cliché to say, but I truly cringe for the young women/teenagers that are confronted with this.  I often put serious thought into ways I can positively influence my younger family members in such a way so as to counteract the extreme messages the media subliminally, and sometimes explicitly, delivers to their impressionable brains.

The other strange thing, though, is that women’s ideas on body type are much different than those of men–I can’t tell you how many studies I have read that indicate men consistently prefer a more “curvy” body type than the average women holds as her ideal.  That is just strange to me, and the context of it says a lot about the pressure on women in our society, as well as how we as women view each other, and ourselves.

It’s also incredibly odd to me that most (I think it’s more than half now, statistically) Americans are overweight and a very large percentage are obese…and we are greeted in the media with images such as these which not only fail to represent most people, but also are basically the antithesis of “most people”–I should say that I somehow doubt the statistics, because I can’t say that the majority of the people I encounter are overweight, although I think some of this could be geographical (as I tend to think overweight people dwell more in the Bible belt and associated areas), but nonetheless, one has to wonder what these things mean from a sociological standpoint.  But perhaps that is a consideration for another day!

I just had to vent my thoughts on this, as it has been on my mind today and I’m trying to avoid doing work, as usual.  I hope everyone has a fantastic Friday!! :)

xx Charlee

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Filed under fashion & beauty, random, ruminations

i like cartoons.

From the New York Post:

This has apparently created a huge controversy over the fact that the author of this cartoon seems to draw a comparison between Obama and a monkey, thereby referencing a particularly offensive racial slur.

Personally…it made me laugh.  I feel that it is referencing the killing of a lady’s pet chimp, and poking fun at another current event (the passing of the stimulus package) by saying that it is bad and could have been written by an animal.  Pretty standard stuff.  And quite funny, really.

Now that a controversy has developed over it, I do see how it could be construed as offensive…however, I only see that because it’s been explained to me by numerous people professing its racist undertones.

It’s all in the perspective.

If you’re looking for it to be racist, then yes, you can bend it to fit into your paradigm.  Likewise if you’re seeing it for what it is, a benign source of amusement.

For me, it comes down to the person’s intent–and I find it quite hard to believe that they had an intent to depict a racist message.  What do you think?

My opinion: chances are, it didn’t even occur to the author of the cartoon that it could be seen in such a way, and I think that speaks volumes about our society…and kind of makes me wish Al Sharpton and his outdated perspective would take a hike.  Just saying.

x C

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Filed under random, ruminations

f my life

Firstly, if you have missed out on the brilliance of this website, then I suggest you check out fmylife.com!  It is quite hilarious, and totally my sense of humour, as there is nothing I find more amusing that the absurdity of everyday life.

Secondly…my apologies for being a delinquent blogga.  I spent the majority of last week paying for my one day of freedom with extreme productivity and also dealt with a bit of an internal conflict regarding the concept of keeping a weblog.  But I’m chillin’ now…so it is all good.

Thirdly, the past week or so has been overflowing with manly misadventures so  I suppose I shall update you on what has gone down!

I made the rainbow cake (which will be a tale for another day) for Mason and he kind of freaked out…he made such a big deal out of it that I didn’t really know what to say or do.  I am generally immune to awkwardness, but I didn’t really think it was a huge deal, and he acted like I’d given him a kidney.  Marley told me this was because I was ‘clearly declaring my love for him, à la Napoleon Dynamite’ (in the film Napoleon’s sidekick with a poor grasp of the English language, Pedro, suggests that in order to ask a girl to a dance, Napoleon “bake her a cake or something”).  This left me feeling like a big dork, a sentiment that was only made worse the day after Mason’s party when my coworker Theresa commented that Mason ‘looked like he was going to cry’ when I gave him the cake.  Not exactly the reaction I was going for.

This strange situation was further compounded by the fact that I had to work Saturday night–I had volunteered to work on Valentine’s Day because I’m not the biggest fan of said cheesefest and especially of the behaviour it tends to induce in Mr. Martini, although I was no more interested in spending the “holiday” with any of the other men in my life right now.  Not to mention, I knew most of my coworkers were in relationships so I thought it would be nice if they could have the night off to recite poetry and listen to Sinatra.  See, I’m not entirely bitter!

However, Mason switched shifts with someone so that we could work together Saturday night…so that ‘my Valentine’s Day wouldn’t completely suck’.  I thought this was very sweet, and was quite excited that we’d be spending the evening together–even if it were to be spent at work.  After the cake incident, though, I was a bit weirded out about this, especially since he has a girlfriend–I imagine they are on the verge of breaking up, but nonetheless, I’m not trying to spend singles awareness day with someone who is not single…

Then there’s Mr. Martini, who spent the weekend here despite my numerous reminders that I would not be available on Saturday, and true to form, planned a super over-the-top date for Friday night.

Unfortunately, one of my very best friends was dumped by her EVIL boyfriend on Thursday.  Yup, you read that correctly.  Her boyfriend of five years broke up with her right before Valentine’s Day.  I cannot tell you how angry this makes me, but I am comforted by the fact that I know karma will come back to bite him in his sorry ass.

So, considering that my friend was feeling a bit psycho-crazy, I thought it best to not leave her alone Friday night…however, I also felt awful cancelling on Mr. Martini.  So, I told him what was up, and because he is so crazy awesome, he said that she could come along.  I also felt like getting her out and about and wined and dined would be good for her morale.  And my dear, sweet, Mr. Martini was so very cool about it and even got roses and chocolate for my friend.  How nice is that?  I was really happy that he was so nice about her crashing because we hadn’t seen each other in a while and I think he was looking forward to some intense romance…but, he was perfectly kind and understanding, he even listened to my friend moan throughout the entire evening and was totally sincerely sympathetic and comforting.  It made me appreciate him so much more, because I know he isn’t particularly fond of this friend and we haven’t been on the best terms, and the fact that he was so sweet about the whole thing was just incredibly endearing.

Blah blah blah, this entry is boring me…

To sum things up, Mason and I had fun making fun of the yucky couples on Valentine’s Day, and my girlfriend joined in, as she chilled at the coffee shoppe all night so she would not be ‘drowning in an ocean of tears’ as she so nonchalantly put it.  Then, the three of us went out and drank massive amounts of tequila and continued to have a number of laughs at the expense of Cupid et al.

However, tequila has long been an enemy of mine, something I conveniently forget all-too-often, and upon approaching Mr. Martini’s hotel, I felt the uncontrollable impulse to tell the cab driver I needed to get out.  It is true, I showed up at my (ex) lover’s hotel room at 2 am on Valentine’s Day, exceptionally intoxicated.  How tragic am I?

Mr. Martini was awake and seemed pleased to see me, although I do believe he was somewhat taken aback by my drunken state as I tend to be on my best behaviour in his presence.  I don’t recall much but I believe I went to sleep straightaway, presumably after confessing my undying love and devotion to him.  The next morning, I awoke quite late and probably looking somewhat reminiscent of roadkill, to an awesome champagne breakfast (I obviously skipped the bubbly) and Mr. Martini smirking at me and inquiring as to when we were going to ‘talk about last night’.  I believe I told him “never”, and left it at that–truthfully, I kind of wish that Mr. Martini had skipped the very sweet gesture of ordering breakfast because I was probably blushing throughout the meal and really, really just wanted to leave.

But it gets better.  I arrived at work yesterday to discover that Mason and my friend had spent the night together, ‘but nothing happened.’  My friend confirmed this supposed innocence, but  it’s kind of the latest turn-off in a string of unappealing actions for Mason–not least of all because I think it highly inappropriate for someone with a girlfriend to be sharing a bed with anyone…and certainly not my best friend who just had her heart broken.  Although he tells me “she said she just didn’t want to be alone” and he “felt bad”, to me this screams of shadiness.  Perhaps I am imagining it though…maybe they’re both just oddballs. In any case, it makes me think to myself, “fuck my life”.

So tonight I must face Mr. Martini…and I am really embarrassed because I unfortunately have very little recollection of the other night.  Boo!

…f my life. :)

I hope everyone out there in blogga-land had a fantastic Valentine’s Day, devoid of drunken debauchery and intoxicated impromptu sonnets!

xx Charlee

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Filed under chronicles, men, personal, random