2009 - %3, April

The Only Birth Control Method Conservatives Like

| Thu Apr. 30, 2009 12:00 PM EDT

Courtesy Harvard Medical LibraryCourtesy Harvard Medical LibraryAn exhibit at the Center for the History of Medicine doesn't sound like a good date night, but this piece in Harvard Magazine turned me on to one Dr. John C. Rock, the longtime Harvard Medical School gynecologist who pioneered hormonal birth control in the early 1950s and pushed for the FDA to approve the Pill in 1960—a development that did make for some good date nights.

Prior to that, the article notes, Rock would have given patients at his Rhythm Clinic the "scientific prediction dial" or, later, the Rythmeter (above). Back then, the rhythm method was the only legal form of contraception in Massachusetts. (Feb. 2012 update: Now, apparently, it's the only method religious conservatives want your health insurance to cover.)

Mainly, I just liked this gizmo. Probably required a Ph.D. to use the damn thing.

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You Gonna Jump or Jerk Off?

| Wed Apr. 29, 2009 8:15 PM EDT

If you're like me, you think the Patrick Swayze-Keanu Reeves vehicle Point Break is one of the better things to happen to 1991. And if you're like me, you have a suspicion that the production could somehow be even better were it performed live by young, yelly guys who never, ever put shirts on and a totally unpracticed Johnny Utah lead who is chosen from the audience and reads his lines off cue cards. Well, you're right on both accounts.

Point Break Live! debuted in Seattle in 2003, but two cities in California are lucky enough to be hosting its current runs. The LA show opened for what was supposed to be a couple of months in 2007 and is still going due to popular demand; San Francisco has brought the show back after a successful go last year. It's been to New York and Minneapolis and Las Vegas, and according to coproducer Thomas Blake, Nightline is soon to run a segment about how PBL! could change the face of theater. Let's hope that's true. Take, for example, this conversation I had with one of the actors after the show: 
 

I Would Like to Introduce Our Federal Government to Photoshop

| Wed Apr. 29, 2009 4:42 PM EDT

By now, the profound idiocy of the White House Military Office's decision to stage a terrifying photo op for an Air Force One jet over New York City on Monday has been widely, and rightly, condemned. However, I haven't heard anyone offer any proactive, money-saving solutions... until now! Esteemed employees of our federal government, please allow me, your comically named Mother Jones contributor, to acquaint you with a magical, spell-casting piece of computer wizardry called Photoshop. With Photoshop, anything can be anywhere, at any time! Skeptical? Well, just take a look at some examples after the jump!

Carrie Prejean Makes 'No Offense' Ad for NOM

| Wed Apr. 29, 2009 12:45 PM EDT

So far this week, I've been trying to ignore all the Miss California, Perez Hilton hoo-ha. But now there's news that Miss California Carrie Prejean, of "opposite marriage" fame, is going to star in a new ad by the National Organization for Marriage. The ad will be titled "No Offense." Which is ironic, really, because almost anytime someone prefaces a statement with "I'm not a racist, but..." or "No offense to anyone out there, but..." you can be sure they're about to say something racist or offensive.

Thus far, Prejean has depicted herself as a victim; a brave, strong, surgically enhanced victim persecuted for her religious views. NOM's breathy press release says that despite Prejean being "attacked viciously," the Miss USA contestant has "inspired a whole nation" by having the "courage" to speak up about her conservative Christian values. This victim stance is perfectly consistent with NOM's previous ad, "A Gathering Storm," in which Christians are threatened by cloudy gay skies and flashes of gay marriage lightening. I can't wait for the parodies of "No Offense." Giant Gay-Repellent Umbrella, anyone?

This Just In: Feminism Is Not a Religion. Duh.

| Wed Apr. 29, 2009 11:38 AM EDT

No wonder the world hates lawyers (wrote the blogger with a J.D.).

The Times is reporting that the court threw outRoy Den Hollander's suit against Columbia University for—get this—offering Women's Studies. Weirdly, the court rejected his brilliant argument that feminism is religion:

"Feminism is no more a religion than physics," the judge wrote, "and at least the core of the complaint therefore is frivolous."...The judge also disagreed with Mr. Den Hollander's claim that the judge should have recused himself from the suit because he attended Columbia.
Mr. Den Hollander, who had claimed that offering a course of study about one gender violated Title IX and the Constitution, assailed the judge as a feminist and said, "The only thing frivolous and absurd is men looking for justice in the courts of America."
"When it comes to men's rights, judges act with an arrogance of power, ignorance of the law and fear of the feminists," he said.

You have to check this guy's website to get the full crazy. I have the feeling that he one of 'those guys' who sees a beautiful woman...and gets very, very angry. 

Q&A: Adam Freeland

| Tue Apr. 28, 2009 10:34 PM EDT

While he may not be a household name, Adam Freeland is a legend in the world of electronic music. He's one of a handful of producers who can legitimately be credited with, if not wholly inventing, at least bringing to the foreground an entirely new genre: a darker, smarter strain of breakbeat music called "nu skool breaks." Moreover, his music has often been politically outspoken, and with his eponymous band, he bridges the gap between rock and dance. I talked with him backstage at the Coachella festival about the changing political scene as well as his upcoming album.

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Conservatives Think Colbert Is Serious

| Mon Apr. 27, 2009 5:15 PM EDT

Via HuffPo comes a study that confirms one thing we already knew—Stephen Colbert is totally hilarious—but also points out something surprising: both conservatives and liberals think he's on their side. According to an Ohio State University study, The Colbert Report is like a political Rorschach text, and you see what you want to see in it:

...Individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert's political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism.

Proof that we live in different worlds came just last week when the National Organization for Marriage (nom nom nom!!) thanked Colbert for his parody of their insane "Gathering Storm" anti-gay marriage spot. NOM president Maggie Gallagher actually said "I've always thought Colbert was a double-agent, pretending to pretend to be a conservative, to pull one over Hollywood." Wow. Really? Well, I guess if you think gay marriage is a scary lightning storm, coming to take away your rights, your brain is full of neat ideas.

Monday Top Five

| Mon Apr. 27, 2009 2:50 PM EDT

This week, a couple tunes good for indie dance parties, a surprising and hilarious mashup, a Brooklyn duo takes an eventful trip to Times Square, and Kate Bush fans have a new artist to worship.

 

 

 

1. Passion Pit – "The Reeling" (from Manners out May 26 on French Kiss)

This Boston-based band charmed me (and lots of other people based on their Top 30 ranking on iTunes) with their quirky "Sleepyhead," but I was wholly unprepared for the raucous good time that is "The Reeling." Tinkly '80s-style synths are offset by stomping rock drums, and the sing-along chorus is irresistible: "Oh, noooo!"

2. Bon Jovi vs. Nina Simone – "Like a Life on a Prayer" (Mad Mix Mustang mashup, download at his web site)

Usually, the point of a mashup is to be amused at the transformation of both sources, but I'd never heard this Nina Simone track before. However, it's perfect with the Bon Jovi lyrics, and the track ends up sounding like a Mark Ronson souled-up retro-remix, with some Austin Powers silliness thrown in.

Mommies Praised, But Not Respected, For Staying Home With Their Kids

| Fri Apr. 24, 2009 2:02 PM EDT

Ah, the family values crowd.

One proud stay-at-home mom of three had a rude awakening yesterday when she tried to keep her daughter home with her for Take Your Child To Work Day.

[Sandra] Thompson says she considers hers a professional job and when she planned for bring your child to work day, she thought that as a stay at home mom it would be good for her kids to see what she does all day.
"I approached the teacher and asked her if it would be ok for Adriane to spend a day and see what my job is all about. They came back and said that my job is not considered a professional job."
Sandra took her concerns to the Superintendent of Madison County Schools, Dr. Terry Davis. 
"He told me how much he admires my job, how important my job is, that his own wife stays home with their children."
But still he refused to allow it.

It would have counted as an unexcused absence.

Don't you just hate it when the truth slips out?

Looks like the Thompson kids could write their own book: Everything I Know About Misogyny I Learned On Take Your Child To Work Day. Maybe Mrs. Davis would like to contribute an essay.

Joe Biden Gets Auto-Tuned

| Thu Apr. 23, 2009 4:36 PM EDT

Via Boing Boing comes this goofy video that answers the question, "What would happen if we took T-Pain's favorite studio toy, the Auto-Tune, and ran the news through it?" Haven't you ever wondered that? Well, I have, but I've always found the robotic warble that the Antares software produces via its forcing of any sound to its nearest pitch in a pre-defined scale to be a legitimate mode of artistic expression, but then again, I'm just generally pro-robot. This video, by Michael and Andrew Gregory, features some politicians and sports figures having their blabbering turned into robotic song, with varying success: who knew Joe Biden was a natural pop music talent? Get that guy on American Idol!! The work is apparently part of an ongoing project to pitch-correct all broadcasts, perhaps ultimately aiming for the pitch-correction of all sound, everywhere, all the time, into some sort of National Key. I vote for Am7!