Friday, June 8, 2012

Best of the Week #62

Can someone please explain to me why the Metro is so empty on Fridays? Normally I’m standing on a crowded train, but this morning I had a whole seat to myself (yes, I am a metro commuter now...ugh.) Do most people just stop coming to work at the end of the week? And if so, how do I become one of those people???

Anyway, I realized after posting last week that I’d forgotten to include half of the links I’d found…which means this is a double Best of the Week post! It’s long. Get psyched.

My most popular post was "Slutty Brownies." Mostly because 143 of you googled "slutty brownies" this week. :)

Best read of the week: “From a Familiar Stranger, a Poem Written on the Stars.”

"Daniel Craig Wears a Dress for Women's Equality."

An interesting interview with Jonathan Franzen:
  • I feel like a member of a single, large virtual community in which I have dynamic relationships with other members of the community, most of whom are no longer living. By means of what I write and how I write, I fight for my friends and I fight against my enemies. I want more readers to appreciate the glory of the 19th-century Russians; I'm indifferent to whether readers love James Joyce; and my work represents an active campaign against the values I dislike: sentimentality, weak narrative, overly lyrical prose, solipsism, self-indulgence, misogyny and other parochialisms, sterile game-playing, overt didacticism, moral simplicity, unnecessary difficulty, informational fetishes, and so on. Indeed, much of what might be called actual "influence" is negative: I don't want to be like this writer or that writer.
"Portraits Made Using People."

  • What the...? Craig Alan make pop-culture portraits using people as pixels. I can't find any details on his process. I'm picturing him dangling from a helicopter with a megaphone shouting down commands to the streets below. How on earth does he do it, anyone?
Well of course I love a FP slideshow about the UN. “Where Have All the Blue Helmets Gone? A look at the Third World troops who fight the U.N.'s wars.” Something about black and white military pictures gets me…idk why.
  • For most Americans, U.N. peacekeeping is something the rest of the world does. Indeed, the U.N. monitoring mission that is currently in Syria to enforce a floundering ceasefire features blue berets from 35 countries -- including Burkina Faso, China, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Russia, and Yemen -- but none from the United States. The absence of American personnel partly reflects Syria's antipathy toward the United States, which has called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. But it also reflects the fact that U.S. blue helmets have become an increasingly extinct species.
  • It wasn't always that way, however.
I find gulags fascinating. Judge me accordingly? "Joseph Stalin's deadly railway to nowhere."
  •  In the Russian Arctic lies buried an unfinished railway built by prisoners of Stalin's gulags. For decades no-one talked about it. But one woman is now telling the story of the thousands who suffered there - and there is talk of bringing back to life the abandoned railway itself.
  • The scheme was supposed to link the eastern and western parts of Siberia with a 1,000-mile (1,609km) railway stretching from the city of Inta, in Komi Autonomous Republic, through Salekhard to Igarka, on the Yenisei River.
  • Work on the western part started in the early 1940s but in Salekhard construction began after the end of World War II.
  • The labour force was almost entirely made up of "enemies of the people" - prisoners convicted of "political" offences.
  • Gulags 501 and 503 were created specially for the railway and every 6-8 miles (10-12km) along the track there were camps.
YES. This looks like my jam. “5 Tips for Hosting a Crepe Party.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve ranted about the use of “impact” before. This drives me crazy – it is NOT a word unless you’re talking about two objects hitting each other. Sometimes I’m ok with “have an impact on…” but impact alone used as a verb…UGH.
  • "Impact" -- This wannabe verb came to prominence, says Bryan Garner, editor in chief of Black's Law Dictionary, because most people don't understand the difference between the words "affect" and "effect." Rather than risk mixing them up, they say, "We will impact our competitor's sales with this new product." A tip: "Affect" is most commonly a verb, "effect" a noun. For instance: When you affect my thinking, you may have an effect on my actions.
This will get stuck in your head. You’re welcome. Barack Obama covers “Call me Maybe.”

Dum-dum “mystery flavor” revealed.
  • The Mystery Flavor pop is a mixture of two flavors that come together when the end of one batch of candy meets the beginning of the next batch. Rather than shutting down to clean out the candy equipment between flavors, Spangler turned lemons into lemonade and made pops out of the combination of flavors - the tail end of the old, and the beginning of the new.
For rock climbers: “How it’s made – Carabiners.”

"Asparagus Opera." How can you not listen?

Hope you’re not having this kind of day.


Don’t be offended non-runners, this is fair and balanced and INTERESTING: “All Men Can’t Jump: Why nearly every sport except long-distance running is fundamentally absurd.”

  • There's no denying it—our kind started substituting brains for brawn long ago, and it shows: We can't begin to compete with animals when it comes to the raw ingredients of athletic prowess. Yet being the absurdly self-enthralled species we are, we crowd into arenas and stadiums to marvel at our pathetic physical abilities as if they were something special. But there is one exception to our general paltriness: We're the right honorable kings and queens of the planet when it comes to long-distance running.
I like this “Adulting” post: Step 213: Do not comment on things people are, comment on things they do.

Oh McSweeney’s – There is one particular part of this (fictional?) Q&A that appeals to me, it’s about American Girl dolls.

  • What do you think of that new show by Lena Dunham, Girls? I don’t know. I think I am over my crush on the subculture of entitled white girls living in New York. Nowadays I need something a little more related to global crises to get me interested. I don’t care about all those little indignities of finding yourself right now, and I wonder how many other people do. Doesn’t it seem alienating? Like, I bet everyone on the show Girls had an American Girl doll when they were growing up.
  • What does that have to do with anything? I think American Girl dolls are the real class divide. If you had one: rich. If you didn’t: poor.
  • So, obviously you didn’t have one. Right. Although my mom did get the catalogues sent to our house and I would pour over them with my sisters, each of us claiming a doll and her excessive amounts of accessories for our own. They were our imaginary dolls. We never even asked for one, as I recall. They were like 80 dollars or something (without any outfits! Or furniture!), which in mid 1990s Wyoming was the equivalent of buying a sturdy horse. I also think that whatever American Girl doll you chose spoke volumes about your own budding sense of self. I identified with Kirsten, the fragile and determined immigrant girl from Sweden. My sisters alternately chose Samantha (posh, classically beautiful victorian girl) and Molly (artistic, WWII-era scrappy do-gooder). I think this says a lot about us, actually. [Ed. note:  This is literally Sister2, Sister1, and myself, respectively]

I want to go to here soooo bad!!!! Indian food me, STAT! But I feel like I need a good excuse/reason for a fancy dinner…hmmmmmm, what can I celebrate?

If I found myself in Rockville, I would totally go to this coffee shop. (source)
  • "Look inside: You don't see any electronic devices. You don't see a TV, you don't see computers. I'm not supporting WiFi. The only thing we have is radio. The reason is our generation lost it."
  • "It" for Almany is the art of conversation, the predisposition to make time to socialize face to face. "In Israel, in Italy, when you go into a coffee shop, you're going to be social.
  • So here, I don't want a computer in my shop. Take a break. When I opened, I wanted to put a sign: "W H Y Fi? Why?" He doesn't want to see couples sitting across from each other separated by an open computer screen. "Where's the eye contact," he asked, "with the person I want to be with?" When people complain about the lack of WiFi, he's bold enough to tell them this isn't the place for it.
"Dogs in Combat: Photos."

  • Dogs have been working in combat roles alongside American soldiers for more than 100 years. In fact, they have been alongside soldiers since antiquity. But only in 1942, were dogs officially inducted into the U.S. Army.
  • Dogs have played a central part in more recent actions in Iraq and Afghanistan where about 2,700 dogs were serving worldwide, according to the U.S. Defense Department. It was the largest deployment of canines in the world.
If I were into non-fiction I would work my way through this list: "Foreign Policy Summer Reading." Actually, I may read this:
  • 10. Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan, Rajiv Chandrasekaran (June 26) To assess the Obama administrations 2009 surge in Afghanistan, longtime Washington Post reporter and editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran looks back six decades: In the 1950s, a team of American engineers constructed a model American town in southern Afghanistan -- complete with tree-lined streets, a co-ed high school, and a community swimming pool -- hoping to turn the surrounding region to turn into rich farm fields. Instead, the land, known as "Little America," was eventually ceded to warlords and used to grow poppies that helped fuel Afghanistan's opium trade. In Little America, Chandrasekaran details how U.S. efforts to rebuild the region during the Obama surge failed too, on account of infighting and incompetence among U.S. politicians, military leaders, and diplomats.

Happy Friday to you all!!!