Great news for people who like alcohol. A new study has found that alcohol consumption after you hit 60 helps your memory. I know how I’ll be spending my retirement! It’s not quite as bacchanalian as it sounds. You’re not supposed to get wasted. In the study researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, University of Kentucky, and University of Maryland, looked at the medical history of 660 patients in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort in Massachusetts and gave them a battery of tests. The results, published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, demonstrated that light alcohol consumption is linked with higher episodic memory– the ability to recall memories of events– while moderate alcohol consumption correlated with a larger volume of the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain related to episodic memory. The findings only apply to people who do not have dementia. And, of course, moderation is key as too much drinking impairs brain functioning. Too much, scientifically and medically speaking, means five or more alcoholic beverages during a single drinking occasion. For example, a University of Exeter Medical School study saw that older adults who had drinking problems when middle-aged were twice as likely to have memory and cognitive issues as people without a history of drinking problems. Now enjoy these Lucille Bluth GIFs demonstrating how we should spend our golden years. Do not drink any more than four drinks at a time while doing this. Continue reading
This meme, which points out that three Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian and only American has died of the virus helps put the Ebola hysteria into perspective.
But the point isn’t to trivialize Ebola. The point is that, as per usual, politicians and the media are distorting reality, manipulating people’s fears and ignoring the important stories and lessons that could– and should– come out of the Ebola tragedy.
The Ebola virus has highlighted the dangers of neo-liberal policies, which destroy public infrastructure, and a myopic privatized health care system in which saving lives is less important that making huge profit. It has revealed the way the death of Africans is acceptable while the death of Americans and Europeans, especially white ones, is not. As Dr. Atul Gawande explained on Democracy Now! it was only when the disease traveled from Africa to the U.S. that people started paying attention:
Starting at March 31st, Doctors Without Borders said the hospitals in Guinea and in Liberia are overwhelmed, and they were crying for help. As late as September 2nd, they were telling the U.N. and others that the help being provided is a shambles, that this is a disease that is doubling in the number of cases every three weeks. And our response was pathetic.
It might have been the best thing that has happened that the first case to leave the African continent came to America, because it brought our mobilization to realize what happens there matters to us here. And suddenly, we are now mobilizing thousands of people to go. The CDC has mounted the largest global operation for public health in U.S. government history.
It shows us that we live in a world where epidemics are manipulated for political gain, to make far-fetched racist and outlandish claims about Obama’s alleged loyalty to Africa over America and used to further racist and totally incoherent and illogical claims about Mexican Immigrants bringing Ebola into the country. Be xenophobic and racist. Go ahead. But at least make your racist and xenophobic lies have an air of credibility.
And it shows us we live in a world where, sometimes, comedy and memes do a better job informing us than the traditional media. See, for example, this tweet by Emm Kay:
And this meme
And The Onion, which, as usual, captured the tragedy with a humorous headline: Experts: Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People Away.
There is no shortage of misogynist, pervy, douchy and rape-y songs out there. Compiling them all into a list would be a Sisyphean Task, and yet, dear reader, here you are, reading a listicle of 9 songs that deserve special notice for their disturbing content. How, you must be asking, did I manage to wade through the ample waters of disgusting musical content and filter out the exceptionally offensive droplets? It’s not easy, I have to admit.
1. BLAME IT (ON THE ALCOHOL)
Blame It (On the Alcohol), the 2008 song by Jamie Foxx and T-Pain. is another obviously rape-culture reflecting/ endorsing anthem. And it’s the story of a boy encouraging a girl to stop acting like she doesn’t want to have sex:
Ay she say she usually don’t But I know that she front
Cause shawty know what she want
But she don’t wanna seem like she easy
Foxx clearly states his intention to use alcohol to get the girl he’s wooing to have sex with him: “Just one more round and you’re down I’d know it.”
Foxx demonstrates his familiarity with various alcohols and their various rape-facilitating qualities:
Blame it on the goose
Got you feeling loose
Blame it on Patron
Got you in the zone
Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol (x2)
Blame it on the vodka
Blame it on the henny
Blame it on the blue top
Got you feeling dizzy
Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol (x2)
With Halloween less than two weeks away, it’s never too early to start planning your costume. This year, why not make a statement and go as your favorite Christian Right hero, heroine, meme or hypocrisy.
What You’ll Need: Long brown hair or a wig; a suit (skirt and jacket) or a professional dancer outfit; name tags; a sharpie; a pillow; a real life or toy baby or toddler; a bottle of Mountain Dew or a bottle of Bleach; condoms; a hole-puncher.
Instructions: Put on a suit or a Dancing with the stars outfit and shove a pillow in it so you look pregnant. Also wear a long brown hair wig. Write Bristol Palin on a name tag and put it on yourself. Write Tripp Palin on a name tag and put it on real or doll baby. Take the condoms out of the wrapper and hole punch through each one in a few places. Then put the condoms in your pocket. Carry around the baby in one hand all night. In the other hand carry the bottle of bleach or Mountain Dew. Offer people sips and explain that abstinence only is the best policy but that if they’re in a jam, they should drink some Mountain Dew so they don’t get pregnant. Take out the hole-punched condoms and explain that those never work.
2. GAY MARRIAGE
What You’ll Need: An adult-sized tuxedo; a stuffed animal of your choice, but preferably a box turtle, if you can find one; a baby tuxedo; poster board; sharpie, preferably a rainbow pack; two gold rings; crazy glue.
Instructions: Put on the tuxedo and the ring. Take the stuffed animal (hopefully a box turtle, but any animal will do) and put it in the baby tuxedo. Crazy glue the ring onto the animal. Take the poster board and write “Just Married” on it. If you bought the rainbow pack, alternate the colors for the different letters. Put the sign on your back. Continue reading
The old adage, “Don’t have sex in the sea or you will get stuck to person you’re having sex with,” is true.
This week brings us some fascinating stories about that thing that’s almost always on everyone’s mind: sex. Here are some interesting stories about a marriage equality-advocating snail, the perils of ocean sex and why getting laid is good for your brain.
1. Gays use hermaphrodite snails to spread their gay marriage propaganda.
In what must be huge and exciting news to the community of people interested in snail species classification, a new snail species has been discovered. What makes this story relevant to the rest of us is the name the researchers in Taiwan decided to give the newly identified species: Aegista diversifamilia. The name, which means diverse family, was chosen to send a message and make a statement, as Dr. Yen-Chang explained. The snails “are hermaphrodite animals, which means they have both male and female reproductive organs in single individual. They represent the diversity of sex orientation in the animal kingdom. We decided that maybe this is a good occasion to name the snail to remember the struggle for the recognition of same-sex marriage rights.”
Lest you think it’s totes inappropes to name a species after something creative or current-events related, you’ll be glad to know that scientists named a beetle after Arnold Schwarzenegger because of its biceps-like legs, a lichen after Barack Obama to recognize his support of science, and perhaps most appropriately slime mold beetles after George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.
2. Your brain wants more sex, fewer crossword puzzles.
There are so many good reasons to avoid church– hypocrisy, corruption, child abuse, child abuse enabling and covering up. Now you can add a new one: billboards trying and failing to be funny through painfully unfunny puns.
1. Put the fun back in fundamentalist. At least they’re honest about being fundamentalist.
2. The Devil’s in the Pun’s Clever Details.
3. When Hell is and isn’t a Curse.
Elizabeth Peña, who died Tuesday night at the age of 55, was more than a prolific and exceptional actress. She was an exceptionally talented woman who changed the way Latina women are represented in film and challenged notions of race and gender.
Peña was born in New Jersey to parents who immigrated from Cuba. Her father was an actor, writer, and director and her mother was the executive director of The Latin American Theater Ensemble in New York. Peña and her family returned to Cuba when she was a baby but wound up moving to New York City, where she attended the prestigious High School of Performing Arts, of Fame fame and studied with Lee Strasberg.
Peña’s acting career, which spanned five decades, kicked off with the Spanish-langage film El Super (1979) and included roles in films like Tortilla Soup, La Bamba, TransAmerica, Batteries not included, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Jacob’s Ladder, as well as TV shows like Resurrection Blvd. Modern Family, and Matador.
Peña was prolific but chose her roles wisely, once saying, “There are a lot of jobs I’ve turned down because they wanted me to play what I call ‘Miss Cuchifrito’ types.”
Peña rejected the way all Latinos and Latin Americans were presented as a monolith: “In the United States, all Spanish-speaking people are lumped into one category… But we’re all so different. Argentinians are completely different from Mexicans. Mexicans are completely different from Cubans. Cubans are completely different from people from Paraguay and Uruguay.”
There are two films, in particular, that offered roles that defied stereotypes.
Director Georgina Garcia Riedel’s debut film, How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer (2005), which also stars Lucy Gallardo and America Ferrera, focuses on one summer in the lives of three generations of Mexican women living in an Arizona border town. In an interview about the film, Peña praised the way the movie actually acknowledged sexuality in women over 35:
In American cinema and in television for that matter—with the possible exception of Desperate Housewives—women over, literally, 35 are non-sexual, except for getting raped or beaten. They don’t write roles for women that express and explore older women’s sexuality and I found [Georgina's script] so fantastic; to have a 70-year-old woman have sex, y’know? I loved the character of Lolita obviously, I loved her on the page; but—once I started to embody her—it was rough because she’s such a frustrated lonely person that it was quite challenging to play that consistently. I actually started grinding my teeth again when I started shooting that movie.
Lone Star (1996) is one of my favorite movies from the 1990s and one of my favorite John Sayles film. It has an amazing cast, including Chris Cooper, Joe Morton, Kris Kristofferson, and pre-fame Matthew McConaughey. The mystery takes place in a border town in Texas and explores racism, immigration, family, relationships and history. Peña’s performance as Pilar, a teacher and single mother, won her the 1997 Independent Spirit for Best Supporting Female Actress.
Peña was thrilled to work with Sayles, who she calls a “Director/God” and whose films, which include Men with Guns, Brother From Another Planet and Passion Fish, raise important questions about gender, class, race, ableism, and colonialism: ”This is an amazing role… Its a real role for a woman… I was home and the phone rang. It was my agent saying John Sayles has a movie that he’s doing and he’d like you to be in it and I said fine, great close the deal. And he said, `Wait a minute. Don’t you want to read the script.’ I’m going no if it’s John Sayles, I want to do it. I don’t care what it is. And then I got the script and I said my God, bonus!”
And to prepare for her role in Lone Star, Peña honored the diversity of Latina women and eschewed the lumping together she described above. She worked hard to capture the unique reality of the women who live in border towns: ”I crossed the border a whole bunch to collect a lot of history. I would sit for hours looking at the women, how they dressed. I talked to people. I hung out. I shopped at the stores to see what kind of clothing was there and what food was eaten.”
Peña should be remembered for her outstanding talent and historic trailblazing. Eva Longoria tweeted, “Rest in Peace Elizabeth Pena … you paved the way for so many of us!!” And she would know.
I went to New York City’s Columbus Day Parade on Monday to see how people were celebrating the man who is credited more with “discovering America” than he is not knowing where he was, spreading disease, advocating slavery, spreading the inquisition, and coordinating rape.
What was fascinating was seeing not just Italians and Italian-Americans marching but people who were the descendants of people who had been colonized.
But not everyone was OK with the sanitization of Christopher Columbus. As I was leaving I ran into Eagle Sun, who was arguing with an Italian-American over the virtues of Columbus.
This should explain why some cities and states are refusing to observe Columbus Day and observing Indigenous People’s Day instead.
Happy Columbus Day! I hope you’re celebrating the holiday appropriately, by breaking into someone’s home and claiming that you discovered and now own it! Or you could just, you know, mourn the genocide of indigenous people by shopping. Because we all grieve in different ways.
You’ve probably heard lots of great things about Christopher Columbus and tons of inspiring quotes from him about hard work, god, the sea etc. But those don’t really capture what Columbus and the colonial expansion of which he was part were all about. So, without further ado, allow me to present these quotes that you may not have heard, from or about Christopher Columbus.
1. Conquest: the perfect chaser for expelling Muslims and Jews. You don’t have to be an academic to link Spain’s colonial expansion abroad with its inquisition at home. Columbus made the connection himself. Of course he saw this as a good thing, not a bad one– a killer combo, if you will. He wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain
YOUR HIGHNESSES, as Catholic Christians and Princes who love the holy Christian faith, and the propagation of it, and who are enemies to the sect of Mahoma [Islam] and to all idolatries and heresies, resolved to send me, Cristóbal Colon, to the said parts of India to see the said princes … with a view that they might be converted to our holy faith …. Thus, after having turned out all the Jews from all your kingdoms and lordships … your Highnesses gave orders to me that with a sufficient fleet I should go to the said parts of India …. I shall forget sleep, and shall work at the business of navigation, so that the service is performed.
2. These Natives are so nice, we’d be crazy not to enslave them! This excerpt from Columbus’ diary describes the Arawak people who greeted him and his men:
They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
Things are getting really hot and heavy between Israel and India. Just hours after arriving in New York City for the UN General Assembly last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. Modi even spent some quality time with the American Jewish Committee. Moving forward, India will finally receive the Barak-1, the missile manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). On the archeological front, Modi’s government is speeding up the renovation and restoration of India’s synagogues. And, in the ultimate metaphor of penetration, a cyclone named after the state bird of Israel is headed towards India!
So what explains the increasingly intimate relations between these two countries? According to Netenyahu,
We’re two old peoples, some of the oldest civilizations on earth. But we’re also two democracies… If we work together we can [seize the future]….We’re very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky’s the limit.
And Modi said,
I agree with you that India Israel relations are historical. I met this morning with people from the Jewish community, the American Jewish Council. …India is the only country where anti-semitism has never been allowed to come up, and where Jews have never suffered, and lived as an integral part of our society.
Indeed, Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh or BJP, is right wing. And as Philip Weiss points out in a post on the “Bromance” between Modi and Netenyahu, the two leaders have a special connection: Continue reading