Friday, November 30, 2012

Bo Obama Inspects Holiday Decorations

I'd apologize for being All Bo Obama All The Time around here recently, but . . . who am I kidding? WHO WOULD MIND THAT? It's Friday afternoon. You need to watch this.

Morning Coffee (11/30/12)

It's Friday. It's been a tough week. I bet you need to see a cat nursing her kitten and some orphaned wee hedgehogs.

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo, so some of you may find this useful.

Joe Biden Goes to Costco: A Story in Gifs

I know stories like this are awful, but I have to confess that my first thought is always "Call Inspector Lewis!"

I still haven't seen I, Claudius, but I really should.

Here, have some retro CIA intrigue.

Here's an interesting take on Lincoln.

And a heartwarming story to get your Friday off to a good start.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

If you read this rant about Michelle Obama & crafting, there are links to cute pictures of Bo, I promise.

Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama had some military families to the White House, unveiled the holiday decorations (Bo ornaments!), and did some crafts with the kids. Nice, right? Fun? Cheery? Probably something those kids will remember for a long, long time? Apparently not. Commentary immediately started circulating on social media decrying this crafting as anti-feminist, saying it was "depressing" to see these pictures because the First Lady went to Harvard.

So. Oh. This again. For the millionth time: Crafting - or cooking, or breastfeeding, or whatever - is only anti-feminist if you are accepting as an underlying premise that activities viewed as traditionally female-dominated* are intrinsically worth less (or worthless) to begin with. That is the only way that this "it's sad to see a Harvard-educated woman making ornaments" thing is coherent at all, and saying "smart women should only do things traditionally seen as male" is far less feminist than making some ornaments with some kids. And don't say that you'd protest any Harvard-educated person spending time on something outside of their field, because a) That's completely ridiculous. Everyone does something on their down time, and b) I have never, EVER heard ANYONE say it was sad to see Ivy League-educated men spending time watching sports. And you don't even have a fun ornament at the end of that.**

Now, if the complaint is that the First Lady is pressured into maintaining a traditionally feminine image for political reasons - THAT's something worth discussing. That may well be happening, in general, but this isn't even necessarily a good example, because all sorts of people do things outside of their wheelhouses for the benefit of children (and not just parents or women - think of Tom Hanks in that street fair scene in You've Got Mail, say), and any polite person who invites guests to his house will likely spend some time in non-ideal activities in order to ensure that those guests enjoy themselves. That's just basic courtesy.

Did the First Lady enjoy her crafting? I have no idea. Should it be a Big Thing that the First Lady does children's activities at an event for children? I don't think so. Is it anti-feminist to expect political wives to fit one specific, traditional mold? Absolutely. Is it anti-feminist for any well-educated woman to enjoy crafting or cooking or whatever hobby she wants? Absolutely not. Now look, here's Bo checking out the Christmas tree.

* Even if they really aren't - knitting, say, was an all-male thing in certain places at certain times - I think we can agree that they are commonly seen that way now.

** I kid! I have nothing against watching sports. I just don't like the way some people claim crafting isn't "productive," when you END UP PRODUCING A THING. But hobbies shouldn't HAVE to be productive. Obviously.

Morning Coffee (11/29/12)

The Leveson Report comes out today! I am currently arguing with myself about whether I should try to read it.

Here, start your day with an interview with Ray Liotta. He seems delightfully down-to-earth.

ABC will show a Dick Clark retrospective on New Year's Eve, which seems only fitting. And for the actually countdown show, they have Taylor Swift AND Neon Trees, so FINE, ABC, I'LL WATCH.

This case for an Oscar nomination for Matthew McConaughey makes some excellent points and is also a fun read.

Is Jeff Zucker the answer to CNN's problems?

This piece about the pros and cons of English language education in India is fascinating.

Perfect: Alternate Panel Titles for Writers' Conferences

Hey look, the Encyclopedia of Fantasy is now online.

This lamp makes clouds in your house to show you the weather forecast. Huh.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trailer: Jack the Giant Slayer

This looks . . . well. We'll see. But it has a really good cast! Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Ben Daniels . . . Oh, and hey, the princess here is playing Isabel Neville in the Philippa Gregory White Queen series. Interesting.

Tonight: The Hour returns. You should watch it.

The Hour returns for season two on BBC America tonight, and I highly recommend you check it out. It's a drama set in the 1950s about the launch of a BBC television news program, and it does quite a good job of weaving together office politics, current (now historical) events, and the characters' personal lives. The cast is strong, especially the amazing main trio, Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, and Dominic West. Particularly fascinating and important is the look at the way Romola Garai's character navigates the 1950s office (and media "boys' club") as a young, ambitious woman who is clearly smart but also clearly flawed. This is a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of news media, feminism, the Cold War, or just good drama.

If you need to catch up on season one, BBC America is marathoning it starting at noon today, and the DVDs are available on Netflix (or for purchase on Amazon, etc.).

Morning Coffee (11/28/12)

Oops. I have read NONE of the Times's notable books of the year. Must do better next year.

Sesame Street director Emily Squires has died.

Would you like to see a slideshow of pictures Lee Pace took in Italy? Of course you would.

Fringe puppet theater!

This piece on the costume designer of Anna Karenina (and Atonement, Tinker Tailor, etc.) is quite interesting.

Awesome: The United States of YA

Interesting read: Why Smug Atheists Should Read More Science Fiction

How NASA might build its very first warp drive

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TV Trailer: Ripper Street

I am SO EXCITED about this show. January 19! Matthew Macfaaaaadyen! Ahem.

BBC's Day in Pictures

Do you all know about this? Maybe you all know about this. But maybe you don't! So I thought I should recommend the BBC's Day in Pictures feature - for an example, here's yesterday. It's a slideshow of about a dozen pictures from around the world, showing major news events, holiday and festival celebrations, sporting events, etc. And the pictures are usually quite good, too. Check it out!

Morning Coffee (11/27/12)

Intrigue! Maine news anchors quit on air, together.

Which new Christmas album is right for you? My result was the new Olivia Newton-John/John Travolta one, which . . . yep, sounds about right.

Michael Fassbender + Formula One? Sure!

Hmm: The Audience Effect explains how fans can screw up a franchise

This is pretty great: Was Team Jacob Just a Big Scam All Along?

The Hard Life of an N.F.L. Long Shot

Need something to read? Check out some great New Yorker profiles.

'Also, the Drink Helps': Famous Writers' Daily Writing Routines

These 19th-century diagrams were one man’s attempt to illustrate human consciousness

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Morning Coffee (11/14/12)

Hello! I'm back, theoretically, although I'll be traveling a lot from now through the holidays, so posting will be sporadic. But I should at least manage to post Morning Coffee a few times a week. Thanks for your understanding and support.

(Some of these links are old, but I'm catching up on my bookmarks.)

Crazy: Shark drops out of sky onto golf course

I just like this headline: Hey, Sexy Dino, Show Me Your Feathers

I'm sure this isn't actually the most ridiculous lawsuit ever, but it's up there.

Awesome: VP Biden suggests end cards on films to explain cost of piracy.

These book pumpkins are incredible.

Matt Bomer, Liv Tyler, and Patrick Wilson in a dramatic comedy IN SPACE? Sign me up.

I have mixed feelings about football, but this comic is pretty great.

Twenty Stories That Will Absolutely Run The Week 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Is Released

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sad News

A quick explanation for the lack of posting: My cat Dewey's health problems were both recurring and worsening, and today we made the very difficult decision to end his suffering. It's been a very tough week, and obviously I'm extremely sad, but I know it was the right decision. I may not be around much for a bit more time. Thanks for understanding.