Monthly Archives: January 2012

World News, Because We Are too Tired to Be Original…

So… we’ve haven’t had much time to  think (or anything else, for that matter), but here are some news items that caught our attention in recent days. FYI, most of the links will be from MSNBC because it is my (Kiki) current favorite news site.

1) Yesterday, an Afghani family living in Canada were convicted of the “honor killings” they had been charged with in 2009. Mohammad Shafia, 58; his wife Tooba Yahya, 42; and their son Hamed, 21, were found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. The victims were Shafia’s first wife and their three daughters. Details can be found here.

2) An Afghan woman was strangled to death by her husband and mother-in-law after giving birth to a third daughter. The mother-in-law has been arrested, but the husband–a militia member–is still at large.

3) Things in Syria are heating-up. According to MSNBC, the events of the last few days may signal a turning point in the conflict.

4) A pesticide commonly used by beekeepers may be exacerbating the virus responsible for decimating the honeybee population, MSNBC reports. The virus called Colony Collapse Disorder could have major implications for us in the future. Honeybees are the primary pollinators of food crops in most of the world.

5) Japan’s population is on the decline.

6)  Elderly laboratory Chimpanzee’s are the subject of debate, according to Rock Center. Dr. John VandeBerg, director of the primate research center argues that the quality of life in such centers has greatly improved, with spacious open air habitats. On the other hand, Dr. Jane Goodall, legendary anthropologist and chimpanzee expert says, that the experiments are torture and in her opinion the senior chimps deserve a retirement.

7) According to Al Jazeera, there is a question regarding the future of a group of stateless muslims in Myanmar, called the Rohingya. They were stripped of their citizenship and are victims of other human rights violations by the Junta. The article asks wether or not Suu Kyi will help them should she be elected.

8) Here’s something just for fun. This blog has some of NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent, Richard Engel’s reporting. It’s good stuff. I (Kiki) really enjoyed his travel piece on Timbuktu (a small personal obsession).

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By Rachel Womek:

My Skyrim Character

Skyrim is a very addictive game. Now most of my family is playing, which makes it difficult to get any time to play it myself, or to blog. I am a level 42 mage, my elder brother is a level 44 thief, my youngest brother is a level 10 warrior, and my  younger sister is a level 4 thief. I have three other siblings who are not playing. Yes, my family is large. I’ve gotten to the point where I can kill most common foes with a single dual-cast fireball which causes me to rush into dungeons with a reckless abandon where the 7nth or eight mob usually kills me. When I start over I proceed more cautiously. I’ve also made it my personal mission to kill any “Thalmor” I see on the road. The Thalmor are a powerful group of high elves within the game who are trying  to suppress the Skyrim citizen’s favored religion. They are the 1% of Skyrim.

Here is a brief Skyrim Survey I found.

Fave Groups to join? College of Winterhold and the Thieves Guild.

Within the Combat Branch What are your favorite skills? One handed is really the only one I use apart from occasional archery.

Fave Skill Type? Magic.

Fave HouseCarl? Lydia.

Are You Married? Yes (In Skyrim only!) I am married to a Dark Elf Shopkeeper because I wanted to buy things handily from my spouse and I chose a Dark Elf (or Dunmer) because they the most ostracized race in skyrim. and racism is not cool even in  fictional Video Game-verse.

Where do have a house? In Whiterun and in Markarth.

Fave big city? Markarth, I love all the Dwemer ruins and how the city is carved into the rock.

Where are you a Thane? Whiterun and Markarth

Fave race? Khajiits. I love the way they talk in the third person.

The attribute you usually level up? Magicka, I’m a Mage.

Within the Stealth branch what are your fave skills? Sneak and Alchemy.

Where do you have a room? The Hall of Attainment and the Companion’s Quarters.

Within the Magic branch what are your two fave skills? Destruction and Conjuration.

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An Affliction, Which is Not Actually an Affliction. And Why Are People Getting Their Hair Cut in My Gym?

By Kiki Keane

Just got this week’s Time and I was surprised (in a good way) to find a truly great article about a little “affliction” I have, written by a man who is also a journalist and “suffers” from the same “affliction.” The article is called The Upside of Being an Introvert (and Why Extroverts are Overrated). Yes! I am an Introvert. I have spent most of my life trying to explain to people that I am not “shy,” I do not have “anxiety,” I am not “anti-social” and I am not afraid of social gatherings, I just prefer to be alone or in a one-on-one conversation. The article doesn’t just defend Introverts and extol our many virtues (good listeners, better relationships, less likely to wind up in the hospital due to injury, less likely to lose our shirts in financial risks, etc.) it also address a key problem we have… America isn’t for the Introverted. America, the “land of loud and home of the talkative” is a taxing and unforgiving place to be when you’re neural circuits are sensitive to stimuli (i.e. large groups of people). For anyone out there who is an Introvert or if you are a parent of “shy” kid, I suggest reading this article.

Okay… off the soapbox now.

Other things I’ve been wondering about today:

1) Why does my gym offer haircuts? And why was the salon busy?

2) Why was I compelled to watch the Kardashians while I was sweating through my elliptical workout?

I would really like these questions answered…

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Avoiding Angsty Vamps and Angry Werewolves by Drinking Bad Coffee and Eating Stale Pastries, or Why We Will Probably Die

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Well… this may or may not be a lengthy blog because we may or may not get dragged away (against our will) to watch angsty, sparkling vampires and angry, hormonal werewolves battling it out for seemingly the only vagina in town.

Until then we will write… something.

We are sitting in a bookstore eating stale pastries and drinking false macchiatos (real macchiatos are dry cappuccinos whereas false ones are layered lattes) and being forced to listen to Reba McEntire and Vince Gill. Kiki’s complaining because she hasn’t heard this much country “music” since she ran away from her country lovin’ town nearly 15 years ago… She say’s that Gaga lady would be preferable, although this comes from a girl who has the soul of an 80-year old woman. She’s kind of cantankerous that way. Rachel is trying to avoid attracting the attention of a less-than favorite relative who happens to be sitting just one table over. If he’s noticed her he hasn’t shown it…she is hoping for an outcome of zero uncomfortable conversation.

Earlier today Rachel got her piercing jewelry changed for only the second time since she’s gotten it. This was the first time changing the nose screw and it was not easy. First you have to pull it out straight and then twist and twist. Unfortunately the twisting produced discomfort and not being a masochist she opted to have the professional do it for her. Eventually she will have to do it herself, but not today. Her new jewelry is a black star.

I (Kiki) have been enjoying, or trying to enjoy, my last few days of freedom before entering the corporate world (thankfully it’s only for about seven months). I have spent my time watching Murder, She Wrote, Investigation Discovery and reading Hemingway and news articles via Here is what I have learned. 1) You can’t fool Jessica Fletcher 2) I kind of want to be her just because she’s so kick-ass 3) Anyone could kill you 4) You could die from a scratch, so we have to remember to bring Iodine or anti-bacterial ointment when we (finally) get to the Middle East/Africa 5) It will be near impossible for any non-state entity to get an atomic weapon 6) Anything is possible 7) Nations (fill in the blank) are not likely to launch into an atomic war 8) Anything is possible 9) I may have to change my reading material.

I (Rachel) wish I had time to watch T.V, between class, work, and chores I don’t have much time for that. Oh why does the temporal dimension only head the one way? Perhaps when the Big Crunch happens time can reverse and I can read backwards.

Looks like we may be heading out, although we fortunately seem to have missed our showing, such a pity. *sarcasm*

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Twitter Censored and DOMA

By: Rachel Womek

It’s a sad day when international social networking website, “Twitter“, announces their shiny new censorship program. According to Twitter it will now censor posts by country when asked to by that country’s government. Here in America this could mean censorship of the Occupy Movement’s “Tweets”, elsewhere it could mean any number of things. It was through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook that information from North Africa was able to reach the outside world during the time known as the “Arab Spring“. It’s pleasant to hear nice fluffy things but it is reality that nice things aren’t always happening, people don’t always behave morally, and people need top speak out for their rights. You can’t hide human nature underneath a pretty cloud and hope reality will go away. I can determine what I do or do not wish to read and who I do or do not wish to “follow” on Twitter. One might assume that if one doesn’t wish to hear Nazi propaganda on Twitter that they probably shouldn’t be “following” any Nazis. Seems pretty obvious doesn’t it?

In other news if you support Civil Rights please petition the federal government to repeal the supposed “Defense of Marriage Act“, this act “defends” marriage by withholding rights from honest hard working citizens who just want to be given the same rights as straight Americans. The function and parameters of marriage have changed, and is continuing to change. Marriage is different for different cultures. In our culture we emphasize love as the primary purpose for marriage, two people love each other and want to share their lives together and be recognize for having had made a significant commitment to each other. Why should that be any different depending on whether that couple has different or similar equipment downstairs? It shouldn’t. Period. And hey just a friendly reminder, I’ve got nothing against religion (in fact I consider myself to be religious), but  has anyone heard of Separation of Church and State? Religion should have nothing to do with government sanctioning of marriage. I find it kind of interesting that the whole resistance comes from mistranslated word in the Bible; funny how the interpretation of a few words can have such significance.

If you’ve read all of my rant today, congratulations, you get a Gold Star. Until the next rant, good day.

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Neutrino Nerdgasm, Political Coverage Overdose and a Happy Revolutionary Anniversary to Egypt

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

We have been dealing with a large consumption of Political news and analysis in the last month. First the GOP debates and then last nights State of the Union. So, we have been glad to see that their has been some other stories on the news. Stories which we feel are not getting the attention they deserve. Though, admittedly one of the following has more copy space than the other…

According to the BBC, Cern has confirmed that their Neutrino experiments have yielded some very exciting results!!!! The neutrinos were recorded at traveling 60 billionths per second faster speed than the speed of light!!!! The understanding is that this can only be achieved by the particle entering into another dimension or dimensions apart from the four that we are familiar with. That is to say three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. Super string theory has predicted the existence of such dimensions; tiny curled up dimensions not readily observed by the senses yet present nonetheless. Now it looks like there may be some physical support for these theories! This a great time for Science! Break out the bubbly!

Today is also the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, which toppled Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. What a momentous event, not just for Egypt, but for the world. There have been celebrations around the country. However, while many celebrate, others protest, questioning the direction the country is going in, or if it has changed direction at all. This is a fascinating story that will no doubt continue to impact the world.

A nod to the intellectual and the liberated amongst us. We are hoping to see more stories such as this, celebrating the beauty in human existence. For now we’ll say goodnight…slumber is calling.

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A Proust Questionnaire Because I’m to Lazy to Think of Something Original to Write…

By Kiki Keane

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Fulfilling my dream/purpose and becoming a foreign correspondent. What is your greatest fear? Clowns, drowning, impalement, never being alone again, always being alone Which historical figure do you most identify with? Stella Benson (mostly forgotten writer) and Jeanne Baret (Botanist who dressed as a man and became the first woman to go around the world) Which living person do you most admire? Richard Engel and anyone who has had the courage to follow their dream What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Snarkiness, fear and laziness What is the trait you most deplore in others? Fear and laziness What is your greatest extravagance? Spending a semester in Hawaii to get a degree I didn’t want What is your favorite journey? The one I haven’t taken What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Caution On what occasion do you lie? To get out of a date or social engagement What do you dislike most about your appearance? My bad posture Which living person do you most despise? It depends on my mood Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Ya know?” “Does that make sense?” “I don’t know what that means…” “hon'” Which talent would you most like to have? Musical — I want to play the violin and sing Opera What is your current state of mind? kind of panicky and a bit tired If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I could learn to forgive my mistakes If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? To be closer What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being honest with myself and having the courage to fulfill my dream If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? My cat–she’s got it made What is your most treasured possession? Whatever writing utensil I can get my hands on and my books Where would you like to live? Anywhere, so long as it isn’t for more than a few months What is your favorite occupation? Journalism What is the quality you most like in a man? Loyalty and kindness What is the quality you most like in a woman? Courage What do you most value in your friends? Their honesty, loyalty and courage Who are your favorite authors? Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, C. Bronte, Isaac Asimov, Robert D. Kaplan, Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Homer Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Elijah Baley, Edward Rochester, Tyrion Lannister and Data Who are your heroes in real life? Journalists and others who run toward danger, not away from it What is it that you most dislike? Meanness How would you like to die? Alone, listening to Bartok’s String Quartet No. 1

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Shopping for my Nose

By Rachel Womek

I am trying to choose a few new nose studs. I am so indecisive. Most of the available choices seem superior to the tiny stud I have now, and yet I’ve been browsing for over an hour just to pick one cheap bit of jewelry. A bit sad. There are several styles and materials to choose from and being relatively new to the nose piercing scene (I’ve had it about two months) I am uncertain about the best choice. I do know that my nose requires a change of scenery.

I need to stop browsing soon. I have class quite early in the morning. I don’t think choosing body jewelry qualifies as a philosophical dilemma. Perhaps I can argue that the jewelry is illusory and only exists within my perception of it.

Well off to bed. Perhaps with a fresh perspective I will choose something a bit more classy than a ” Pink Blue Beach Ball” to ornament myself with.

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Charles Dickens, or Why We Want to be British (at Least for Today)…

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Rachel and I are happy to be Americans… Well, I am. Rachel refuses national identifiers. Generally, I do too, but I’m less likely to launch into a sermon.* Anyway, this year is Charles Dickens’ Bicentennial and as self-professed bookworms and Anglophiles we are saddened that we are NOT British. Further, we are not able to be part of the festivities. Even worse we live in a city of tumbleweeds (No really! They actually tumble down the streets on windy days) and retirees, so, as you can imagine, Dickens’ is not a cultural figurehead. He is thought about only in the collective moans of high school English students.

We imagine ourselves to be victims of cruel Fate. Perhaps the universe is mocking us. We long to be in a smoking lounge, with a pipe in one hand and Great Expectations in the other. We like to think we are more British than the British (I think we’ve already established that we are delusional). At least, I (Rachel) have British ancestry, the crest of my father’s name is a pack of boars frolicking across a woodland.

At least the pleasure of the book is a possibility, if nothing else.

Oh! And he was journalist… So, perhaps we are not the victims of cruel Fate after all…


*Rachel: I feel that excessive attachment to the Super Nation-State is one of the greatest banes to human progress.

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By Kiki Keane


Okay. I’ve never been very good at this blogging thing. I have started a half-dozen and have never posted more than once or twice. I find it…weird. But, here I go…

Good Things That Have Happened This Week:

1) So, I got a job! Yay! Check that off the very, very, very, very long list of what I like to call: “Things That Need to Happen Before We Embark On Our Adventures (or Fall Flat On Faces)!” So excited! Well… Okay. It’s not the job I was hoping for, but it is a job and I am grateful for it. Also, I now feel less like a bum.

2) Rachel also got a job. It’s a part-time holiday job, which we hope will turn into a permanent position.

3) In addition to my new job and all the planning I’m doing for the trip (my brain never stops when it comes to adventuring), I am also in a monthly book club. I have succeeded in reading exactly 10 pages and 5 sentences in this month’s selection. That may seem like no big deal, but considering that this might be one of the worst books ever written, I would say it is a pretty amazing feat, equal to, say, climbing Everest or colonizing Mars.

4) Met some new people and reconnected with some old friends.

5) The following bit from The Big Bang Theory made my week: “Oh no! They sent the wrong Spock! Live long and suck it, Zachary Quinto!” — Sheldon Cooper.

6) Discovered that Murder, She Wrote is on TVLand.

7) Named Rachel’s new puppy (she says she’s not keeping it, but I know better). I call him Riker. As in Will Riker. Because he’s a lady-killer.

Okay. I’m going to stop now. I promise to write better posts in the days to come.

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