28 February 2009

Economic Crisis or Michelle Obama's Arms?

The economy is in a downward spiral. President Obama has just presented his first budget to Congress. Rockets were once again fired into Israel today. Mass graves were uncovered in Bangladesh and President Obama announced a plan to reduce the number of troops in Iraq dramatically over the next 14 months. What, might you guess, was the top story on the "political ticker" and listed under "popular news" on CNN's home page today?

"How To Get Michelle Obama's toned arms."
That's right, the world is in a rut and CNN's interviewing people about their obsession with getting toned arms like America's first lady. Seriously? Here is my favorite section:

"But others were amazed, like 25-year-old Jessie Rosen. After seeing Obama at the speech Tuesday, she went to the Adidas store in New York and bought two five-pound dumbbells. "It was her arms being so toned in spite of her life," she said."

I mean, is there really anything else to say?


Kyle Taylor

20 February 2009

Hillary Clinton Is Always A Good Filler

I am yet again buried, which means news stories will have to suffice for now. Still, there is so much diplomatic good happening at the minute, it's hard to keep up! It's public knowledge by now that I love Hillary Clinton, so it should come as no surprise that I'm posting two stories about her current trip to Asia as America's top diplomat! Bottom line, the woman is a machine and even at 60, it seems no one can keep up with her pace - not ever her staff. Enjoy!

The first story is here. The second is here. The image came from here.


Kyle Taylor

16 February 2009

America's Best and Worst

My cousin is here, so we're palling around town all day and night! Haha. For now, enjoy this survey on America's best and worst Presidents. Bush was 36th out of 42. Better than predicted, I'd say...


Kyle Taylor

12 February 2009

Will The Real Hipster Please Stand Up?

Well then, let the debate begin. While it's not particularly pressing, I still find this cultural movement - the hipster movement - fascinating. In case you are unaware of what the heck I'm talking about, lets begin with a Wikipedia definition:

"Hipster is a slang term which appeared in the late 1990's and 2000's to describe young, urban middle class and upper class adults with interests in non-mainstream fashion and culture, particularly alternative music, independent rock, independent film, magazines like Vice, Clash and Adbusters, and websites like Pitchfork Media. In some contexts, hipsters are also referred to as scenesters. The term is sometimes used in a derogatory manner, referring to someone who moves from trend to trend while claiming to be outside of mainstream culture."

I'm going to do my best not to be judgmental, but if your whole identity is about avoiding the mainstream, then why do hipster hot spots for shopping include American Apparel and Urban Outfitters? What the Wikipedia definition left out - it seems - is the importance of irony. So is it ironic to shop at the stores, or is the irony adopted so as to be able to write off anything that doesn't quite "fit" as "ironic" and move on? It's like when people say you're being defensive. No, I just don't agree with you, but if you say I'm being defensive then you're writing off whatever I have to say as irrational and out of turn. I did some deeper digging and found the video above which is brilliant and basically sums it all up. A friend here (who is a genuinely cool, not stuffy hipster, unless that's him being ironic) had this to say:

"Some google searches for "hipster dress code" proved futile. there were some, but tips included "lip piercing" which is really NOT hipster. it's emo. idiots. too bad hipsters are too self-righteous to self-categorize.

uniform, in brief:

the skinniest jeans you own.

no patterns unless they were designed by some artist, or if they are loudly ironic.

think "irony" in general... though this is a messy tip, because there are certain TYPES of irony that fly and kinds that don't.

no sports trainers. canvas if possible. or old-man oxford shoes. those are big now.

you'll probably want some kind of scarf.

messy hair, or unnaturally coiffed hair.

well, basically this is how my image of a hipster dresses, ya? which (a) isn't like primo hipster, and (b) there are varieties of hipster, and (c) yeah. there is no (c) i was tricking you.

huh --? what else do hipsters wear? mmm.... i mean, usually hipsters, on a night out, like to have an article of clothing or an accessory that will garner them compliments, because that is how they meet each other... by complimenting clothing items. but, this can be a difficult play. because sometimes, i.e. when i last wore my monocle to electricity showrooms, a bunch of REALLY gross people hit on me. BAD attention."

So there it is. Hipsters demystified. Discuss.


Kyle Taylor

Special thanks to David Michon for supplying that overview.

11 February 2009

My Mom Is Awesome

My hair is long. Really, really long. The longest it has been in five years. I am beginning to resent it. My Mom, however, LOVES IT. So I emailed her and explained my predicament, asking for three reasons why I should keep it. Her reply:

Hahahahahahaah! You are so funny I can't stand it! Well....you look great with hair (it is such nice hair). It balances out your head having hair. And, let's see......hair makes a person look finished. I always think people with really short or no hair are missing something. Also, hair keeps your head warm. Maybe you just need a better cut. Maybe shorter, just not shaved. I will still love you no matter what. If you really need to get rid of it I understand.


Favorite parts:

1. "(it is such nice hair)." In brackets, as if a wispy aside.
2. "I always think people with really short or no hair are missing something." Indeed mother, they are. Hair!
3. I'm fairly certain she implied that my head is unbalanced.

Ain't she the best?

No verdict yet on what I'm going to do, but it's good to know my Mom will love me no matter what.


Kyle Taylor

Religious Convenience

Meanwhile, while Lutheran schools are expelling students for ungrounded, hateful reasons, the Catholic church has launched a PR campaign to remind folks about Indulgences. Wikipedia defines Indulgences as:

"the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution. The belief is that indulgences draw on the storehouse of merit acquired by Jesus' sacrifice and the virtues and penances of the saints. They are granted for specific good works and prayers.

The best part: they draw on the "storehouse of merit." Or you can buy them, like folks did in the olden days.

Yeah, this all seems to make perfect sense. So you're expelled for being yourself but you can buy off bad deeds, as long as they're "redeemable" bad deeds. WHAT?


Kyle Taylor

10 February 2009

Discrimination Is Trendy Again!

So to follow up on the overt discrimination now emblazoned in the California Constitution comes this: A ruling that religious schools can discriminate against students "because they are not a private business." I won't even get into the question of whether or not these institutions are a business except to say that my Sister attended a religious high school and I've never seen an obsession with "money for the Lord's children" quite like that before. $1 million-dollar football field? Yes!

The Lutheran school expelled two 16-year-old girls for having "a bond of intimacy" that was "characteristic of a lesbian relationship." John McKay, who represented the Riverside County-based California Lutheran High School, said the ruling correctly acknowledged that the school's purpose was to "teach Christian values in a Christian setting pursuant to a Christian code of conduct."

I'm sorry, what about the value of tolerance and acknowledging that, as the Bible says, we are "all god's children?" Apparently that only applies when you're exactly like everyone else. There was a time in America when being left-handed was sinful. When they'd drag suspected witches out into a river to test their "witchness." If they floated, they were witches and killed. If they sank, they weren't witches, but they died anyway. How, exactly, is one to prove any of these things? The school's answer: Myspace!

Yes, an Administrator logged on and discovered that one girl was labeled "bisexual" and the other "not sure." The Principal called them in and asked the girls separately, "Have you ever touched [Jane Doe] in . . . any inappropriate ways?" WHAT?

How is this ok?!?! We've got discrimination, invasion of privacy, near sexual assualt and yet it's ok for the religious school to do this? I'm beyond appalled. Naturally, the entire conversation has surrounded the "poor school" who is just trying to spread their "Christian values." How about the girls? Isn't it psychologically damaging to be called "sinful" when you're 16? To be publicly humiliated in school and then verbally accosted by a powerful adult figure? Alas, apparently it's fine if they're gay.

Once again, we're on a very slippery slope here. First and foremost, there is no way to PROVE these allegations and even if there were, shouldn't a non-profit institution that is exempt from paying taxes to the government because they are "purpose-driven" be required to meet government standards of discrimination? Not to mention the irony of the fact that they would discriminate based upon something that cannot be outwardly seen (ie. sexual orientation) when they themselves cannot tangibly prove their faith. Still, everyone - the state, schools, businesses and the like - are forced to both accept this diversity and oftentimes embrace it.

Practice what you preach. Practice. What. You. Preach.


Kyle Taylor

Special thanks to Jill for forwarding this article to me.

08 February 2009

The Perfect Storm?

I think I've come across the most accessible article on the financial crisis to date. Why, might you ask, is this important? Well, I've spent the last four months reading things, listening to things and watching things (like a number of lectures at LSE by the world's top economists) that all fail to truly explain "what happened." The usual response is "we just didn't see this coming." Yeah, we know. though there was one fellow who did predict it (though who wants to listen when spending fake money is just so much fun!). His bio is here and the explanation of this whole thing is here. Enjoy. No wait, Enjoy! No, that's not it either. I've got it now: Enjoy?


Kyle Taylor

All Talk, No Walk

One last-minute tidbit that has to be shared. Looks like Michael Steele, who was lecturing America last week about ethical economic stimulus and the "all new Republican party," is actually a crook as well. Of course, we'll see if the allegations pan out but until then, I'm just going to say the F-word. FELONY.


Kyle Taylor

Weekend News Roundup

Unfortunately I've been buried under school work this past week, but I wanted to give a quick news round-up as to the most fascinating, depressing and ironically humorous stories filling the air waves.

1. Lets start with funny. Mitt Romney wrote a commentary piece for CNN this week in which he suggests that we should "stimulate the economy, not the government" by re-focusing the economic stimulus plan on boosting business and consumption. Okay, I don't think you need to be a political mastermind to realize Mitt's living in a fairy-tale (in fact, even basic math, like addition and subtraction are working against him). If I remember correctly, it was greedy business practices and over-consumption by consumers that led to the current meltdown and now - wait for it - Mitt wants to give more money to businesses and consumers? One, fixing infrastructure, modernizing schools and investing in green energy IS good for the economy and two, even if the government were to give more money to consumers, they wouldn't be spending it! All the research done on Bush's last "stimulus" checks show that Americans were saving, not buying (which, ironically, is the correct thing to do, though works against Romney's "plan"). Sorry Mitt, as story number two will shown, this whole "invisible hand" garbage isn't working because people are cheating. You know, the same people you want to give more money to.

2. Now for depressing. One in ten Americans is on food stamps. That's right, 10% of the United States - roughly 31 million people - are on a federal food assistance program because they can't afford to eat. Is this the American dream? Is this where unrestricted, "free market capitalism" gets us? We've got more wealth than anywhere on the planet and we can't pay people enough to afford food? Is this really the America we want? I'm all about capitalism to fuel innovation, ideas and growth, but not if everyone doesn't get a fair shot and playing the game. So Mitt, sit down and cork it. Congressional Republicans and Rush Limbaugh, you might want to do the same. Unfortunately, the numbers are against you, and numbers don't lie (unless you're a banker, apparently)

3. Now for ironic. The artist who drew the now infamous "Hope" image of Barack Obama has been ARRESTED and charged with copyright infringement by the Associated Press for "stealing the image." So what do we have here? The Associated Press wants to make a ton of money on the image that is supposed to symbolize a new, different America and they're going to bring down a graffiti artist who - through his art - energized a generation. Tidbit to the Associate Press - drop it, you look like a bunch of greedy, money-grubbing schmucks, regardless of whether you're right or wrong.

So that's the weekend round-up! More soon on discrimination, paying your taxes (or not paying them, if you're a Democrat nominated for a cabinet position) and the Oscars.


Kyle Taylor

03 February 2009

The Best Of The Best

While I didn't watch this year's Superbowl (or last year's or the year before's, etc.) I did catch the ads over the "net." Some winners and well, some losers! Here are my favorites:


Gotta love Alec.

On a more political note, it appears that Democrats can't seem to pay their taxes correctly. Um, yeah, lets work on that.


Kyle Taylor

02 February 2009

Snowy White London

For the first time in nearly 18 years, London came to a complete standstill today as a result of inclement weather. The culprit? 6 inches of snow. Fortunately, since I have such incredible luck, I was in Leicester during the first snowfall, which meant I missed the initial "wow" of it all and had to travel roughly 120 miles back into the snow-logged city Monday morning!

It all began with a 2-mile bus ride from Lianne's house to the train station. What usually takes 20 minutes took just over an hour and I literally ran onto my train with 15 seconds to spare (no kidding!). It was incredibly reminiscent of my German train experience circa 2007. Fortunately, the trains were moving full speed and we arrived in London on time. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that all bus routes, a majority of taxis and most underground lines were closed! Now, I can understand buses and taxis but the subway? It runs underground! Needless to say, that meant an hour wait for an underground train. At this point, remember, I had yet to see the "damage," as it was being referred to. In fact, that may have been the most entertaining part. All morning BBC Radio was giving live updates as if the Apocalypse was before us. "Good morning Britain. It's treacherous out there. We're recommending only traveling if you must travel (brilliant). Traffic in some places is backed up for more than five miles. Be careful. Be aware. Just stay in" (all said in a lovely, compelling, importance-inducing British accent).

I surfaced at Leicester Square to find a surprising site - the roads were totally clear, just as they had been in Leicester (though people were still moving at about 5 miles an hour). It was still snowing, but the occasional driver had seemed to keep the pavement warm enough to avoid snow stickage (the real doomsday scenario, no?). I walked home, dropped my stuff and learned upon entering that LSE had CLOSED not just Monday but Tuesday as well. SNOW DAY!

I grabbed my camera and hit the town on a "London Snow Day" Photo Adventure! I've dropped a few photos in here and the rest are all on flickr, so enjoy!

Bottom line, this city is magical all the time but add a little snow and it becomes divine. There's that calm, brilliant, silencing effect of snow and to see such a frantic place just sort-of "stop" and take itself in, it's out of this world.

Looking forward to part two tomorrow. For now, I'm just playing catch-up on all things school.


Kyle Taylor

The Average Lefty...

The Average Lefty:

Thinks Like Einstein
Looks Like Redford
Paints Like de Vinci
Leads Like Schwarzkopf
Sings Like Newley
Fights Like Corbett
Clowns Like Chaplin


Baseball Like Babe Ruth
Soccer Like Pele
Tennis Like Conners
Golf Like Charles
Runs Like the Devil and
Swims Like Spitz

-John Diana

I'm a Lefty Too!



Kyle Taylor