Archive for the 'Cultural Observation' category

Quiet dignity and grace

Jul 17 2011 Published by under NYC life

Some of you know that a couple short weeks before I left the United States nearly two years ago, I met my brother for the first time since I had been thrown out of the house (for good) as a teenager. This made me homeless until the state stepped in and gave me a place to stay (nevermind that my "home" had bars on the windows; it was -- marginally -- better than being raped or murdered or being forced into prostitution. Lest you think I exaggerate, let me point out that quite a few of my teenaged colleagues from those times are no longer alive for these very reasons.)

Whilst working on my final preparations to emigrate with my parrots, my brother contacted me unexpectedly (not easy since I legally changed my name and relocated thousands of miles away from the parents!). He was asking if I'd like to meet since he would be visiting my beloved home to run in the NYC marathon for the first time.

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Frankfurt's firefighters

Apr 27 2011 Published by under Cultural Observation, Expat Life, German Life

One of NYC's finest: a fireman.
Image: Katherine Kostreva.

One thing that I am painfully aware of is that Frankfurt's firefighters are definitely not made of the same stuff as the Adonises that populate NYC's fire departments (see above). And of course, I was rudely reminded of this sad fact again when yet another false alarm screamed through my apartment building at midday.

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Penis Parity Day

Today is an important day for women in America who are lucky enough to actually have a job. What day is this? I refer to it as "Penis Parity Day" although other, proper institutions refer to it by the more boring name, "Equal Pay Day". This day celebrates the dubious honour that, after slaving away from 1 January 2010 until 12 April 2011, women have finally earned the same amount of income as a man for doing the same job. For you mathematically-challenged men out there who determine salaries and raises, that translates into 103 more days to earn the same monetary reward for doing the same job.

Which makes me wonder why any men have jobs at all since female employees provide a much larger return on investment.

In honour of this auspicious day, I think all women should wear a strap-on to work. Just to, you know, make the point.

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Ich möchte nicht auf Deutsch sprechen

Mar 06 2011 Published by under Cultural Observation, Expat Life, German Life

I've lived in Germany for more than one year but I am ashamed to admit that, for the first time in my life, I've not learned to speak the language in a satisfactory way. Worse than labeling me an "Ugly American" is the fact that I am actually quite talented at picking up languages and accents -- I never really had to work at learning languages.

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Mainova suck

Feb 27 2011 Published by under Cultural Observation, German Life

Some of you might have noticed that Grrl and I were offline for much of last week. This, urrm, wasn't panned. But the lights went out.
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Predictions for 2011

Jan 02 2011 Published by under Blogosphere, Cultural Observation, Silliness

Well, last year was fun, wasn't it? Papers were published and retracted, there were the usual collective moans about poor journalism, and science advanced a few steps.

The scientific blogosphere enjoyed a bit of an upheaval, which lead to this blog being started. GrrlScientist and I are still trying to work out what we should use it for (we both do cute cat photos and videos on our other blogs).

So, what's in store for this year? Here are a few predictions that will be flushed down the memory sometime in February:
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English Libel laws: they matter to you too

Nov 14 2010 Published by under Cultural Observation, Politics

[I thought this was going to publish on Wednesday, but something happened. Dunno what]
In the last couple of years, the science establishment in the UK have been getting politically active. a lot of this was started by the British Chiropractic Association deciding to sue Simon Singh for libel after he wrote that the organisation "happily promotes bogus treatments".

Although that complaint was eventually dropped (and as a result of the action complaints made against a quarter of registered UK chiropracters), the threat of libel still remains.

Is this some minor issue of concern only for the English and Welsh who are unable to open their mouths without considering whether they'll put their foot in it? No, for several reasons.

free debate
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Bananas Galore in the Pacific

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The world's most popular fruit is the banana, which originated in the very-much overlooked region of Polynesia. This interesting video explores the relationship between the peoples and cultures of New Guinea, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands and the world's most popular fruit, the banana.

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The Mystery of the Family That Walks on All Fours

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This fascinating video is a complete episode of the American science program, Nova. This episode is about a Turkish family where all the children -- who are adults -- walk on all fours. This episode, which started out as an exploration of the neurobiology and genetics behind this curious behavior turned into a touching human story about a family trying to deal with a devastating disability.
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The Cult of Christ

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The following video is an instructional parody on the program, "How to be a cult leader." This video is interlaced with real footage of Christians engaging in behavior that is identical to brainwashed cult members.

Although the vast majority of Christians do not engage in the extreme behavior depicted in this video, the kinds of abuse propagated in the name of Christianity must be brought to the attention of moderate Christians everywhere.
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