Geek Speak

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Vatburger

Yesterday’s big story was the production of a hamburger made from lab-grown meat.  As Reuters reports, one of the lead scientists in the project is Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht.  Being a Nederlander, Mynheer Post made a “burger” that seems more like a bitterbal:


To prepare the burger, scientists combined the cultured beef with other ingredients normally used in burgers, such as salt, breadcrumbs and egg powder. Red beet juice and saffron have been added to bring out its natural colors.

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Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 08/06/13 at 05:54 PM
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Categories: Geek Speak

Monday, July 01, 2013

Rachel Maddow’s T-dance with the Devil

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If you’re gay, like me, or are related to/work with/care about or know someone who is gay, like most of us, this has been a particularly wonderful week.  And it was just lagniappe, as they say in The Big Easy, to sip a Sunday morning cup of joe while watching Kindly Doc Maddow shoot conservative fish in a barrel.

David Gregory hosted Maddow, along with Jim DeMint and Ralph Reed on Meet the Press to discuss fine points of conservative social policy in the wake of SCOTUS’ “extremist” decisions on marriage equality as well as the abortion bill train wreck in the Texas Senate, last week.

Conservatives showed up lumbered with their grab-bag of outdated, debunked polls and “scientific studies” designed to prove that their zombie social policies still walk among us and have some sort of relevance to some sort of American people.

The fellows in the suits settled in for an hour of pedantic bloviation about the impending Fall of Western Civilization should teh gayz be permitted to destroy traditional marriage and the lives of their children.  And to trot out their new abortion meme about how closing abortion clinics and mandating pre-abortion trans-vaginal ultrasounds for all are just their way of saying “we care about the safety of women and babies.”

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Posted by Bette Noir on 07/01/13 at 08:15 AM
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Categories: Geek SpeakLGBTPoliticsElection '14Our Stupid Media

Thursday, June 27, 2013

CliMEHt Action

I finally got around to listening to President Obama’s speech on climate change, a most appropriate activity when there’s a tornado watch in one’s neighboring state.  All-in-all, it was an okay speech, but, like a lot of Obama’s proposals, my reaction to it is one big “MEH”.  There is some evidence that the president’s position, like his position on same-sex marriage, has evolved- he’s no longer talking about clean coal, except in rare cases:

Today, I’m calling for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas—unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity. And I urge other countries to join this effort.

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Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 06/27/13 at 07:10 PM
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Categories: Geek SpeakPoliticsBarack Obama

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Crazy Horse Meets Willy Wonka

No doubt about it: falling off a horse is as easy as falling off a horse. And no amount of fake Amerindian Juju can save you. In yesterday’s scene from the new Lone Ranger film, Johnny Depp played iron-jawed sidekick Tonto wearing pancake make-up, black leather chaps and a stuffed crow on top of his head…but none of that was enough to coax love and mercy from the skittish pinto he was navigating through the Western Plains.

This was the first news story I heard today. I didn’t find out until 5 PM that the Deppster not only survived the fall and the hoof-dance, but courageously appeared on Letterman later in the day (wearing a tasteful wardrobe selectton from the 80s’ TV series “Maude”) to review the miraculous circumstances of his surprisingly non-tragic undemise.

God bless and vaya con Dios, Johnny D. You were the best Hunter S. Thompson since the real one. I’m hoping against hope that the new Silver Bullet Express completely erases my memory of the last Lone Ranger movie from 1981…except for the part where Christopher Lloyd was his arch-foe Butch Cavendish.

Oh, and lest we do forget—Thank You, Masked Man!

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 06/19/13 at 06:24 PM
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Monday, June 17, 2013

Jesse Colin Young—Recalling The Rich, Sweet, Voice Of The Wee Hours

Once upon a time, Jesse was one of the Youngbloods. Later, he became the official spokesperson for the emptiness and hopelessness of 4 AM. At times, he was rays of hope breaking through that 4 o’clock rain…at least when he wasn’t channeling the false sincerity of the concerned cockroach.

My brother loved this guy, so much so that he and I spent spent 5 summers tracking down hard-to-find vinyl pressings of Jesse’s work. At times, we were amply rewarded with treasure troves of inspired, lint-free musical genius like this.

Listen, love, enjoy!

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 06/17/13 at 05:45 PM
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Saturday, June 15, 2013

General Zod VS The Man With No Pants

You craved it. You begged for it. Parts of your brain stayed awake at night to call the Warner Brothers 1-800-FILMS-WE-NEED hotline.

Now, at last, it’s here: a Kryptonian strongman with no pants battles a Kryptnian villain with practically no history in the comic book world. PS: Russell Crowe appears as the first ever Jor-el with the dramatic star magnitude to bore us more intensely than Marlon Brando. This, truly, is the Superman epic we’ve all been waiting for. So, naturally, it’s no surprise that Superman’s not only from Krypton, he’s a Brit. Way to go, U.K.!

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 06/15/13 at 07:16 PM
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Friday, June 14, 2013

Party of Family Values: Father’s Day Edition

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If you thought Tanner Flake was one seriously bigoted kid, wait’ll you get a load of Joey Heck’s twitterings . . .

Apparently, some of the “values” of the Party of Family Values need a little re-tooling.  How else to interpret the fact that, in one week, two separate spawn of the GOP—Tanner Flake (aka N1ggerKiller), son of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Joey Heck, son of Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV)—are outed as social-media-opaths?  Two All-American white, Christian paragons (ok, ok one’s Mormon), sons of All-American white, Christian paragon fathers, spend their leisure time just frothing, fuming and twittering hate at anyone who isn’t an All-American white, Christian paragon i.e., faggots, niggas, women, Jews, Obama, Messicans, Obama, Indians, Obama, Muslims, etc. [in their words].  These kids, if nothing else, are equal opportunity bigots, they pretty much hate every one who isn’t a white male.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 06/14/13 at 09:32 AM
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You Won’t Believe {My} Eyes

It’s true: this clip has everything—a blind kid with bionic eyes, banana bikes and roller blades.  All that, plus a whole world of visual freedom that ‘s usually denied the optically-challenged…and the ultra-advanced concept of navigating sonically by emitting bat-like clicking sounds, and then listening for the return echoes that perfectly describe the shape and distance of reflecting walls.

The young man in this video was quite a celebrity ten years ago when he pioneered several of the world’s most sophisticated new techniques for living productively with a severe blind disability. In the end, the cancer that originally blinded him returned and killed him.Of course, if you or a family member have ever been stricken with cancer, you already know that the Big C is a persistant cuss with an uncanny knack for survival. In contrast, human beings like Ben have an uncanny knack for mostly outliving their cancers until they and God can agree that it’s finally time to die. For Ben, that was age 16…after a short but dramatically successful life of cheating his disability and proving the basic human urge to Live Well and Transcend Momentary Obstacles will get you up just about any tree not even a banana bike can climb. Bravo, Ben! Here’s hoping you can see the streets of Heaven, and that they shine a peaceful, golden light.

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 06/12/13 at 06:34 PM
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Yelling Theater In A Crowded Fire

Screaming Mimis
Self-criticism: any Blingee about hot air and hysteria needs moar Tom “Not Just Bloviating” Friedman:

Imagine how many real restrictions to our beautiful open society we would tolerate if there were another attack on the scale of 9/11.

To be fair, Friedman was without an Iranian cab-driver to help him find his way through his own tightened sphincter at the time.

And from the “Should Know Better” wing of the Department Of Garbage Analysis Department: This country makes the Stasi look like a bunch of Boy Scouts! That comes at 55.23 of this Democracy Now clip, in which Hedges, author of the compelling and possibly all-too-self-descriptive “War Is A Force Which Gives Us Meaning,” also avers that “this is far beyond a reasonable debate,” which Mr. Hedges’ co-guest, reasonable debater, Administration opacity critic and former Obama boss-o-him Professor Geoffrey Stone, might have guessed already, if his comment section at Huffpo is any indication

TRAITORHEROGOATWORSHIP! The contents of Amy Goodman’s vacuum bag to anyone who can’t guess the civil libertastic subject of this encomium at the charnel house formerly known as the comments section of Talking Points Memo: 

It IS what it is; but clearly, most of the posters on this site are more invested in defending their team than being moved by Truth. So they shoot the messenger… it’s like crucifying The Christ, all over again.

(I admit to loving how obnoxious this woman is: to another woman who suggested not letting this scandal keep us home in November: “You’d be more amusing as a cheerleader if you wore pom poms on your breasts and bounced around.” Superciliousness, implacable belief in her own infallibility, allegiance to No Mere Human, reminds me of something..P….PU….what could it be? It’s so familiar…sounds like PURE? PURE something? PURE-MA!)

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Posted by Mrs. Polly on 06/12/13 at 04:18 PM
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Sunday, June 02, 2013

Alfonso Arau—He Was Never Just “El Guapo”

Just like James Finlayson (the Laurel and Hardy foil who introduced British and American audiences to the catchword “D’OH!” as an indicator of exasperation, puzzlement or grief), Alfonso Araudid much much more than exclaim “I like these guys! Just kill one of them!” Among other things, he was the award-winning director of Like Water For Chocolate, as well as a yeomanly portrayer of onscreen Hispanic characters who were either less obnoxious or less finely turned than his wonderfully styled “El Guapo.” PS” Let’s never forget that he was also a mournful mime as well as a nutty comedic dancer.

This is my gift to my ‘Roaster pals tonight. Tis neither timely nor political, yet it’s the sort of rare find that always makes me smile, anyway.

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 06/02/13 at 03:13 PM
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Friday, May 31, 2013

War And Trucks—The History Of The World In One Man

Behold my dear, deceased, ferociously talented old friend Jan Leighton—a classically-trained actor who secured Guinness Book of World Records recognition for mastering more than 3,000 historically significant personae. These included George Patton, Fidel Castro and the Greek philosopher Plato…as well as Margaret Thatcher and nearly a dozen of America’s most iconic (or tic-ridden) presidents.

It’s a long tape. However, as it says at the beginning, it is the last, best demo reel for a genuinely skilled fellow who sharpened his bag of tricks again and again over the course of 60 years.  I miss him every day. But watching this tape reminds me that more than 3,000 parts of him will never truly die.

Enjoy, you ‘Roaster devils, you!

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 05/31/13 at 06:59 PM
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lumineers—The Band I Used To Be

Every day I commute three miles by jitney to a Blind Rehab facility on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. Invariably, I wear another man’s pajamas, issued to me by the nursing home that serves as my overnight domicile and semi-permanent address. If there’s good news here, it’s that I also get to wear an ultra-expensive pair of Oakley sunglasses (just like the ones Roger Daltrey used to sport in music magazines).

Given my new wardrobe, it would be easy for me to convince myself that my biggest disabilities are accidents of fashion.  But, of course, my real disability is much much worse: I’m a totally blind man, approaching age 65, and I live inside an empty skull which is populated these days by random, uncatalogued sound effects for which I have no visual reference to provide context or meaning. My world is dark and noisy and—often— a baffling place where formerly-reliable senses either don’t work at all or provide me with only unreliable data regarding my environment.

That’s why I danced a jig (metaphorically) when I heard this song on the local Vend-O-Mat of Top 40 tunes and enduring Soft Rock. With their punchy percussion, lilting guitar and repetitive Ho-Hey mantra, these guys remind me of the creative goof I used to be back before I lost my eyes. And that’s particularly true ever since Mrs. Polly described their outfits to me—white T shirts, black suspenders, and pork-pie hats. The Lumineers are dressed for a long walk on the Boulevard Of Dreams, somewhere on the Left Bank of Wackiness.

God love the Lumineers for making complex music with simple tools. My heart leaps with joy when I hear them…and I hope all my ‘Roaster buddies will share the bon temps with me!

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 05/29/13 at 05:26 PM
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

May The Force Stiffen Your Spanx

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I knew from the get-go that it wasn’t James Earl Jones lending gravity and heft to Darth Vader’s Jedi armor back in 1979. The only question—which I never asked—was what extremely large and sturdy stunt double would allow himself to be swanned around on-camera for ten years without so much as a single shot of the actor’s actual face. (Anonymity is generally a useless P.R. tool.)

As it turns out, Vader (or at least his clanking physical presence) was portrayed by British weightlifter David Prowse, a robust bodybuilder who helped train Christopher Reeve:

He helped train Christopher Reeve for the role of Superman in the 1978 film and its sequels after lobbying for the part himself. In a television interview, he related how his response to being told “We’ve found our Superman” was “Thank you very much.” Then he was told that Reeve had been chosen and he was only to be a trainer.

as well as training Cary Elwes for The Princess Bride.

Little to my beknownst, I first encountered Prowse a few years earlier, when he played the nearly naked pleasure-boy Julian in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

It ain’t politics, and it ain’t funny, but here’s hoping I just cleared up the deepest mystery of your brain with Mr. Prowse’s own workaday website.

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 05/18/13 at 06:15 PM
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pimp My Song

With the exception of Margaret Dumont in a white toga performing her plus-size version of the Rites of Spring, nothing makes Classical Occultism less appealing than Stevie Nicks levitating in a cloud of silken Underoos. Needless to say, I was never any kind of Fleetwood Mac fan until I discovered “Tusk” on the B side of a 45 RPM Top 40 single. Talk about relentless rhythm!

Think of this as today’s rock n’ roll sorbet. Cleanse your palate. Enjoy the interplay of exotic pop riffs, and don’t thank me just because the band isn’t dancing all over the YouTube video.

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 05/14/13 at 05:32 PM
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Evening Music: “Space Oddity”—From Space

This probably ranks up there in things that had to be done eventually. Canadian space cadet Chris Hadfield, floating in a tin can, faaaar above the world, gives us his styling of Bowie’s 1969 megahit, backed by a fabulous invisible cheesy celestial rock orchestra.

This raises a few questions, like: What sort of payload snafu lets him cart a grand piano up there, but not a Stylophone? And is it an astronaut’s discipline that doesn’t allow him to break “the rules” and go thumb-over for the barre chords in the C-F-G-A guitar bridge, which would have totally nailed it? And would it have killed the budget to let the poor guy take along a guitar strap?

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Posted by YAFB on 05/12/13 at 05:50 PM
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