Thursday, February 27, 2014

From Uganda to Russia, Homophobia Spreading Worldwide

From Newsweek: "Harassment, discrimination and death threats are nothing new for Valende and other LGBT Ugandans. Sometimes even worse. In 2011, David Kato, an openly gay Ugandan and another member of the country’s small LGBT activist community, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer.

"Uganda’s new law, which for the first time criminalizes homosexual relations between women and includes provisions that could put convicted homosexuals in prison for life, has been on the table since 2009. But its passage now comes amid a rising tide of aggressive homophobia.

"And not just in Uganda.

"Last month Nigeria passed a law that, among other restrictions on homosexual behavior, bans same-sex public displays of affection. Last year Russia introduced laws outlawing “homosexual propaganda.” And India’s Supreme Court last month reinstated a law banning gay sex in a move that outraged rights advocates who had been celebrating gains made over the past five years..." Read the article: From Uganda to Russia, Homophobia Spreading Worldwide By Max Strasser, Newsweek, 2/27/14

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Priti NYC Soy Nail Polish Remover: Natural, Non-Toxic, 100% Biodegradable

Many of you know I'm into nail polish these days. Keeping a Tumblr of my experiences with different colors and textures has added so much fun to my life. However, my hands were starting to suffer from dryness due to frequent usage of chemical nail polish removers; even the non-acetone ones were affecting me after awhile, so I knew something had to be done. Well, I've found the answer. From Priti Soy Nail Polish Remover w/ Lemongrass Scent - This product WORKS! It's all natural, non-toxic, 100% biodegradable, smells softly and pleasantly of lemongrass, and has really changed my life. I'll never use acetone or chemical nail polish removers again! With Priti's formula, it took about 20 minutes to get the polish off my nails on both hands (edited to add: It takes significantly less time if you're wearing only one coat). Some reviewers said it's greasy, and I expected it to feel like baby oil, but aside from a bit of thin film, it's not terribly oily, easy to wash off with regular soap and water. One 2 fl oz. bottle sells for $13; 4 fl oz. will set you back $22.50, but I promise you this product is worth the New York price. There are handy little wipes available in a pack; if they're more affordable, you might wanna sample with those first.

Anne Frank Book Donations Flood in after Vandalism

From Jiji Press: "Public libraries in Tokyo have received more than 100 books related to Anne Frank and offers of donations after vandals damaged many books on the Jewish girl, library people said Wednesday.

"The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library in Minato Ward received 137 new books related to Anne Frank.

"They were sent to the library in the name of Chiune Sugihara, a late Japanese diplomat who helped many Jewish people escape persecution by Nazi Germany during World War II by providing them with visas while he was serving as vice consul in Lithuania." Continue reading: Anne Frank Book Donations Flood in after Vandalism - Jiji Press, Feb. 26, 2014

UPDATE: Tokyo police arrest suspect in vandalism case - NHK World

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Triple Axel: Why aren't female figure skaters required to do them?

In Figure Skating, only the men are required to do triple Axel jumps. Why? Due to their difficulty and the amount of physical strength required to complete an extra half a rotation in the air (it's really 3.5 turns), only 6 women have been able to do them successfully in competition. Mao Asada is the only female skater who even attempted one in the Olympic games this year. The triple Axel is only less difficult than a quad lutz, which is also a jump that only (some of) the men do (correction: Only one man has landed the quad lutz in competition: Brandon Mroz (USA). Other types of quad jumps are more commonly attempted). Here's a handy chart that lists all of the different jumps and their difficulty levels: Table of Jumps - Figure Skater's Website

Mao Asada of Japan

Some people, and even I, have said women shouldn't bother trying the triple Axel and risk falling and missing out on a Gold medal, but where would Women's figure skating be today if not for the women who pushed themselves beyond expectations and went where no woman had gone before?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Easiest Sock Bun Hairstyle Method - Quick Tutorial

I learned how to make a sock bun today, and wanted to share my modified method because it's much easier than rolling the hair along with the sock doughnut. Try this: Make a sock bun donut, then put your hair up in a ponytail with it. Keep the sock unrolled; instead of unrolling it over the ponytail, lean forward and disperse the hair all around the doughnut evenly so you don't see the sock. Secure the bun with a hair tie (I use one of those Rainbow Loom rubber bands). Wrap the loose ends around the base of the bun and tuck in the ends under the sock bun. That's it! The excellent tutorial of the alternate method at Hello Framboise! blog is pretty much the same method as mine but shorter and more concise with photos; the blog also walks you through the traditional method. Have fun!

*Another helpful hint: If you need to adjust the color of the sock bun donut but all you have is a white sock, you can layer a cut up piece of tights or pantyhose / knee highs under the sock and roll them into a donut together.

Chicago Goes to War with Asian Carp

From BBC: "The US city of Chicago is considering drastic measures to prevent giant fish infesting North America's Great Lakes.

Authorities are thinking of blocking the city's canal system to stop Asian carp entering Lake Michigan.

Such a move could cost up to $18bn (£11bn) and cause huge economic disruption to the city.

Cheaper options are also being examined, including making burgers out of the fish and eating them to extinction." Read the article: Chicago goes to war with Asian carp By Pallab Ghosh, BBC News, 17 Feb. 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan wins Olympic Figure Skating Gold

yuzuru hanyu a Other video by vlads

Uploaded by Vlads on

The defining moment at Sochi 2014: Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medalist Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) skated to "Parisienne Walkways" by the late, great guitarist Gary Moore in the short program. He was pure rock 'n' roll out there on the ice.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mister Donut, Pan Am and Friendster Found Alive and Well

Mister Donut, Pan Am and Friendster Found Alive and Well by Mark Milian, Bloomberg News Feb. 13, 2014

Image: A family portrait. The aircrew of the first commercial flight of the Boeing 747 from New York to London for Pan American, Jan 13, 1970. (AFP/Getty Images) 13 Fantastic Flashback Flight Attendant Fashions - by Leah Latella, ABC News, Aug. 8, 2013

Fragonard Émilie (and a review of the Fragonard Parfum Miniature Set)

Fragonard Emilie is one of 10 fragrances in a Fragonard parfum miniature set that I got a few years back. It's been more than a few years, since some of the scents have been discontinued. Emilie is one that's still available on Fragonard's site. Here is the description on their site: "Emilie is a bewitching floral composition that blends sumptuous fragrances of rose and jasmine with a more delicate violet note, then wraps them in sandalwood and amber. A fragrance to treasure, in shades of pink and mauve."

Synesthesia aside, I can smell pink and mauve in Emilie, too, if they mean violets. I can smell the violet but it's as delicate as the description on their web site suggests. It's a classically flowery, romantic scent with a good balance between fey and sweet notes, the composition not quite Floral Oriental but leaning that way while being distinctly Floral. I think it's a lovely choice for Valentine's Day.

Here are some brief impressions of the other scents in this set:

Fragonard de Fragonard is the house signature Floral. It's a voluptuous but fresh white floral bouquet with amber, and if I recall correctly, blackcurrant bud as per Jan Moran (Fabulous Fragrances). Brooke Shields is known to have loved this scent. It reminds me of some of the most beautiful Floral perfumes of the 1980s, namely Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle and Gianfranco Ferre. Tuberose and jasmine are the starring notes in this perfume composition for confident, independent women. (Edited to add: I just dawned on me which '80s perfume it most reminds me of: Sung by Alfred Sung!)

Dahlia is a discontinued scent, but it's a beautiful fresh Floral along the lines of Diptyque Ofresia and Floris Seringa. It leans Green; it is cool, crisp and clean, very much a fresh-cut-flowers type scent.

Eau Fantasque smells like lavender to me, even though it's not a listed note. It smells a bit sweet but it's mostly cool and green, with an aqueous quality. I like this a lot, actually.

Étoile du Sud is the most aqueous out of the bunch. It reminds me of Floris Fleur: light and sporty.

Rêve Indien, the strongest scent in the set, is an Oriental fragrance with a smoky, incense-y character, reminiscent of Caswell-Massey Tricorn for Men which is reminiscent of Guerlain Shalimar. I smell lots of patchouli and vanilla, but not as much lemony bergamot as in the iconic Shalimar.

Arielle is strong, too, but it's a Floral, very much like Givenchy Amarige. Another confident white floral, I smell violet, tuberose and amber mostly. Used judiciously, it leaves a beautiful sillage.

Lune de Miel smells powdery and like peach fuzz skin to me, reminiscent of Boucheron Jaipur and Bvlgari pour Femme among many others with violet in the mix.

Capucine is the most powdery, like soapy baby powder, similar to the Balenciaga perfumes that came out a few years ago.

Mélodie is a white floral bouquet that reminds me of the original Lumiere by Rochas.

The parfum set is an ideal gift for the Floral lover, especially a fan of lighter, clean and soapy, non-perfumey fare such as Floris, Penhaligon's and Caswell-Massey colognes.

(Images from Fragrantica, Hampton Court, Gold Standard Hampers)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why are Valentine's Day Colors Red, White and Pink?

Hint: This riddle is from Puccini's opera, Turandot: "What flickers red and warm like a flame, but is not fire?" Find out why St. Valentine's Day is associated with red and white from a Christian perspective (lest we forget the roots of this holiday): Colors (Red, White and Pink) - From

Related topic: "Who Is St. Valentine?

"It is believed that St. Valentine served as a priest in third century Rome.* At that time, Emperor Claudius II had a standing decree that young single men were not to marry. The Emperor thought that marriage and children were a distraction to men of fighting age who were needed to serve as soldiers with their full allegiance given to Rome.

"It was perhaps similar thinking that led Claudius into the habit of persecuting Christians. The Emperor (rightly) believed that Christians devoted their strongest allegiance to something and someone other than Rome.

"St. Valentine, believing that Claudius was interfering with matters of the Church and of God, is said to have married young lovers in secret. He also assisted many Christian martyrs, helping some to escape the harsh Roman prisons.

"For one or both of these reasons, Valentine himself was imprisoned. Yet, difficult conditions did not hinder his very evident commitment to the Lord. He preached his faith to his prison guard Asterius, who was converted and baptized along with his whole family. And, it is said that St. Valentine restored sight to the blind, adopted daughter of Asterius, with whom he fell in love (remember, priests were allowed to marry before the fourth century)." Continue reading: Valentine's Day History - Celebrating Holidays

Monday, February 10, 2014

Saturday, February 08, 2014

What is Dolphin Safe Tuna?

Astral Dolphins -

From Wisegeek: "In many parts of the world, consumer pressure has led to the labeling and sale of dolphin safe tuna, which is tuna caught without harming or killing dolphins. These concerns arose in the 1980s, when public awareness campaigns by organizations like Greenpeace and the Earth Island Institute alerted consumers to the fact that thousands of dolphins were dying along with tuna every year. The thought of these lovable marine mammals being harvested along with tuna was revolting to many consumers, who started to boycott companies that harvested tuna in an unsafe way. The Earth Island Institute began offering a certification program for dolphin safe tuna, and numerous governments also began to create dolphin safe tuna laws and labels so that consumers could make informed choices about their purchases.

"Dolphins are often caught up in the nets used for tuna because of the way in which tuna is harvested. Large circular nets are cast down in a very large area of ocean and then slowly contracted, picking up all of the marine life in the region. Dolphins can be caught in the nets and drowned, or experience severe trauma from the fishing nets.

(...) "There are ways to capture tuna without harming dolphins and other fish in the sea. After heavy consumer boycotting led to demands for dolphin safe tuna, many companies started exploring these humane options. In the United States, all tuna canneries tried to voluntarily obtain and sell dolphin safe tuna, and in 1991, the United States government enacted standards through the Department of Commerce which dictated the requirements for dolphin safe tuna labeling. In 1997, these requirements were controversially relaxed in response to industry pressure, leading to a rise in independent certifications by organizations like the Earth Island Institute.

"Most government standards for dolphin safe tuna dictate that no dolphins can be killed or seriously injured in the process of fishing for tuna. Dolphins may be caught in nets, as long as they are not injured. Marine biologists argue that the trauma of being caught up in fishing nets constitutes an injury, but federal governments apparently do not agree. Independent certifications are more rigorous." Read the article: What is Dolphin Safe Tuna? -


Related links:

From Discovery News: "Earlier research found that bottlenose dolphins name themselves, with dolphins having a “signature whistle” that encodes other information. It would be somewhat like a human shouting, “Hey everybody! I’m an adult healthy male named George, and I mean you no harm!”

"The new finding is that bottlenose dolphins also say the names of certain other dolphins.

"“Animals produced copies when they were separated from a close associate and this supports our belief that dolphins copy another animal’s signature whistle when they want to reunite with that specific individual,” lead author Stephanie King of the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit told Discovery News." Read the article: Dolphins Call Each Other By Name - By Jennifer Viegas,, Feb. 19, 2013

* * * * *

From The New York Times, 1999: "Everybody loves dolphins, those playful models of animal wisdom, celebrated for protecting shipwrecked sailors and spending their days frolicking happily in the waves. Movies, television and water shows feature their antics.

"Nowadays, thousands of tourists swim with dolphins, captive and wild, with more signing up every day to commune with their animal intelligence. Most recently, a variety of organizations have sprung up that offer tours to places like the Florida Keys, the Azores and New Zealand, where participants can swim with wild dolphins and, brochures proclaim, experience emotional healing and spiritual awakening.

"But scientists, following a trail of bloody clues, are discovering that dolphins are far from the happy, peaceful creatures that humans think they know.

"Growing evidence shows that the big animals, up to 12 feet long, are killing fellow mammals in droves, wielding their beaks as clubs and slashing away with rows of sharp teeth. Dolphins have been found to bludgeon porpoises to death by the hundreds. Unlike most animal killers, which eat their prey, dolphins seem to have murderous urges unrelated to the need for food.

"They have even been observed in recurring acts of infanticide.

"Of course, dolphin savagery pales in comparison with the brutality of people, who have managed to kill millions of dolphins while fishing for tuna. The dolphins, which breathe air, drown when large purse seine nets close over their heads. Fishery reforms seek to limit the slaughter."

"Dolphins are highly social and appear to communicate among themselves with a wide range of clicks, whistles and beeps, though scientists who study them say they do not actually have a complex language. Experts say dolphins are smarter than dogs and similar in intelligence to chimpanzees.

"The new-age dolphin operations go much further. In advertisements and tour promotions, they say dolphins are highly evolved spiritual beings. The dolphin's mere glance is enlightening, they say." Read the article: Evidence Puts Dolphins In New Light, As Killers - By William J. Broad, The New York Times, July 6, 1999

* * * * *

(Edited to add) From The Guardian: "Decades of research on cetaceans, and dolphins in particular, has revealed that their brains, while markedly different from humans, are large, complex and capable of sophisticated behaviour. Observations of dolphins have shown that they can recognise themselves, use tools and understand symbols and abstract concepts." Read the article: Whales and dolphins 'should have legal rights' - Campaign for intelligent marine mammals to have right to life, which would protect them from hunters and captivity., 20 February 2012

Friday, February 07, 2014

JAKE E. LEE: What Makes Playing Music Exciting For Me

"Leslie Michele Derrough of recently conducted an interview with Jake E. Lee (OZZY OSBOURNE, BADLANDS, RED DRAGON CARTEL)." Read the article: JAKE E. LEE: What Makes Playing Music Exciting For Me, February 6, 2014

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

New York City public school kids getting new Muslim, Lunar New Year holidays

Our new mayor won't give NYC kids any snow days, though! New York City public school kids getting new Muslim, Lunar New Year holidays - NY Daily News

Happy Lunar New Year to those who celebrate. Also, I know most people mean well, but please don't wish every Asian person that, because some of us only celebrate on January 1 (the Japanese, for instance.)