Adventures in Links – January 30, 2016 (Animals That Can Predict the Weather)

Theme: Animals That Can Predict the Weather

February 2nd is Groundhog Day in the United States, a much-beloved but ultimately pointless day when the country turns its attention to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and a little rodent named Phil to see if we’ll have an early spring or a late winter. The tradition has been around since 1887, which you can read about here or here, and has even spawned a Bill Murray movie creatively titled Groundhog Day. However, little Phil isn’t really all that accurate. If you click here, you can see that he has an accuracy rate of 39%, which is worse than if you just flipped a coin!

But that did get me thinking: are there any other animals that people think can predict the weather? Or natural disasters? Or the stock market? So in addition to the Punxsutawney Phil links, look below to learn a bit more about other animals that may or may not be able to prognosticate. Continue reading

Daily WTF: Odori-don

When I was a kid, I was a very picky eater, subsisting mostly on chicken nuggets and grilled cheese from the age of seven to about 14. I wouldn’t eat beans, sour cream, lettuce, or tomatoes on my Mexican meals, and I wouldn’t even try chicken fried steak, Brussels sprouts, or fish. It took years for me to become in any way “adventurous,” consenting to try things like jellied meat, mussels, or beet salad.

So it should come as no surprise that I wouldn’t want to eat food that is either alive or otherwise moving. And yet, a firm, “No, thank you” is not enough because when I saw this video of odori-don (dancing squid rice bowl), I was so horrified that I started screaming, “Noooo!” and threw my phone across the room. Please be warned: unless this is the kind of food you’ve grown up eating, the video is legitimately disturbing. Continue reading

Daily WTF: The Continued Devaluation of Liberal Arts and Humanities Degrees

 

This past Tuesday, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin unveiled his newest budget which, truth be told, was not as horrible as many people feared. However, the biggest black mark against it was not so much a cut but an explanatory comment he had about the type of funding he’d like to implement in 2018 towards public universities. His exact words were, “I want funding that incentivizes outcomes that are specific to the things people want. There will be more incentives to electrical engineers than French literature majors, there just will. All the people in the world who want to study French literature can do so, they’re just not going to be subsidized by the taxpayers like engineers will be, for example.”

I have one thing to say about that: fuck you, Governor Bevin. Continue reading

Daily WTF: Kentucky Lawmakers Punishing Kentucky Planned Parenthood for Something They Don’t Even Do

Let’s be blunt here: I think my Kentucky lawmakers are essentially a group of cowardly, judgmental right-wingers who want to do whatever they can to make sure anyone who’s different than them – so teenagers, transgender people, homosexuals, women, etc. – can’t get equal treatment under the law. In the past year, I’ve seen them try to pass laws restricting transgender people’s access to bathrooms, preventing gay couples from getting married, preventing teenagers from having a say in the election of their school board officials, and docking universities subsidiaries because too many kids want to go into the liberal arts. And now the august Kentucky Congress is going to strip funds from Planned Parenthood solely because of some fraudulent videos about a service and practice that Kentucky Planned Parenthoods don’t even provide. Continue reading

Adventures in Reading — January 18 — January 24, 2016

What did I read (and finish) this week? Look below to find out!

Honey and Clover, Vol. 1 by Chica Umino (2001) – This comic is about three Tokyo art students and their interactions with fellow students Hagu and Ayu and their teacher Hanamoto. All of them struggle to find their paths in career and love while living on very meager budgets. It’s a well-drawn piece that’s cute and fun, though I dislike how Morita and Takemoto seem to fetishize and infantilize Hagu. Continue reading

Daily WTF: Donald Trump’s Manipulative and Abusive Campaign Tactics

How do you manipulate people? Well, there are two things you need to do first: 1) isolate that person and 2) get them to rely on you (and only you). If you can convince a person or group of people that they are alone, under attack, underappreciated, or otherwise marginalized, you can control who has access to them and who they can contact. This makes it easier to force them to rely on you, to make them listen to you, and to listen to only you. Then you can start getting them to do what you say.

To maintain their loyalty and isolationism (because it’s easier to manipulate someone who wants to listen to you), you have to periodically praise them, often at the expense of others. “You’re so smart,” you say, “Unlike your sister,” or “You’re so much prettier than the other girls,” or “Did you see what stupid thing such-and-so did? I know you would never do that.” Complimenting people in that fashion pits them against others, further isolating them, and intrinsically implying that, should they stop being so smart, loyal, etc., they will lose your love and respect and everything that goes with it. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?

Then the real horror begins because if you have an isolated person who only relies on you, only believes in you, and only listens to you, they’re going to do whatever you want without questioning you. This will lead you to spit on, beat, and scream racial slurs at dissenters, especially if your leader is egging you on. This will compel you to ignore outside facts and accuse those fact-holders of either being mean to your leader or to you. This will allow you to forgive your leader for whatever they do, regardless of how vile, cruel, violent, or hateful.

This is how Donald Trump can tell a group of supporters that he could shoot someone in broad daylight and not lose any voters. Oh, and those supporters will cheer. Continue reading

The Process of Pitching

One of the greatest upsets in my writing life was learning that real, working writers pitch, write, and sell articles on a regular basis – that it is in fact necessary if they want to not only be “real, working writers” but “paid, not starving, non-homeless writers.” In my nebulous understanding, I figured that you either wrote books and were a writer or you didn’t and were not. If you were still waiting for your book to be written or sold, you sucked it up and got some “stable” job to support you. However, if you had sold that book, you could basically count on the royalties to support you and go on about your life, working to write your next book.

Unfortunately, even when writers sell books, those books don’t always provide them with enough to live on for a year (let alone a lifetime). Said books also don’t always provide them with the level of expertise and notoriety that the authors need to be relevant and sought-after in the field, thus making it necessary for writers to pitch articles. Pitching articles is also an alternative to working an office or retail job and in fact helps you gain contacts in the industry – contacts that can help you when you do have a book you want to pitch.

Plus, you can get paid. $$ Continue reading

Adventures in Links — January 23, 2016 (Cute Asian Comics)

Theme: Cute Asian Comics

Winter and snow days are the perfect times to stay in and read, and what better to keep your mood high than cute Asian comics? Today I’d like to share some of my favorite ones. Most of them are Japanese, but they all feature adorable art, great characters, and moments that just make you want to go, “Kyaaaa~~~!” I’ve included online links for all of them, but if you have the means, I recommend getting the trades or purchasing a subscription to Crunchy Roll.

Enjoy! Continue reading

Gun Laws, State by State — California

 

Note: As mass shootings gain more media attention, more and more people are discussing gun control. While many seem to believe that registering all guns, requiring background checks for all purchases, and preventing identifiably dangerous people from purchasing guns are all good ideas, just as many seem to be afraid that any gun control law will mean the loss of all civilian guns. Organizations like the NRA play on these fears, telling people that guns are already too regulated and any further action will mean the loss of the much cherished 2nd Amendment (which is more for well-regulated militia than civilians, but that’s an argument for another day). 

So I wanted to see what exactly the gun laws are in each state. Are guns too regulated? Do states with tight gun laws have more gun violence or less? What does it even take to get a gun nowadays? With these questions in mind, I’ll be starting a new weekly series – Gun Laws, State by State. I will try to document the most up-to-date gun laws in each state as well as provide facts on gun deaths in each state. Hopefully, by the time I get to the last state, we will all be better educated on gun control and gun deaths. If you have any additional information on the state in question, add it in the comments.

 Previous post: Texas Continue reading

Daily WTF: Southerners’ Response to Winter Weather Driving

This past week winter has hit Lexington with a vengeance, netting us below-freezing daytime temperatures, a few inches of snow, and, quite soon, a veritable Snow-Pocalypse. But as I sat in my car for a full hour this week trying to drive the seven miles into work, I had to come to one inescapable conclusion: southerners don’t know how to drive in winter weather.

Let me set the scene for you. It’s 8am. About three hours ago, it started snowing, a light, powdery snow that kept up at a steady rate. There was salt on the roads and sidewalks, but nothing had been plowed yet, and there were maybe two inches of snow on the ground. And yet, on what passes for a highway in this town, we were lucky to reach 10 mph. Thus the hour drive. Continue reading