June 29, 2006

The Look of….Coffee?

Posted in Personal, Random Oddments at 10:03 pm by Captain Morgan

We all do it. I do it. You do it. Your friends do it.

I call it the “Coffee Shop Look”.

As soon as you walk into your local coffee shop, you do a quick visual sweep to see if you know anyone there. On the flip side, when you’re sitting with friends enjoying your $3 coffee, as soon as you hear the door open, you look to see if it’s someone you know.

Perhaps I’m just a weird freak, but I do the same visual sweep everywhere I go. The airport, the doctor’s office, Wal-Mart, everywhere.

Where does this desire to know our surroundings come from? Is it rooted in some survivor defense mechanism? Thoughts? Comments?

Calico Jack adds: I know for me, I only use the look at the coffee shop and not when I’m out running errands. I think it’s because I’m more likely to run into people I know when I’m there than if I’m making my way through Target. And $3 for a coffee? Ouch.

Princess Sela adds: For me it’s the same as Calico Jack. I only look at the door when in a coffee shop, but it’s funny how I can’t resist looking at whoever walks in. Curiosity I suppose.

Being A Better Boyfriend, part 2

Posted in Personal, Relationships at 2:41 pm by Elizabeth Swann

This is the second of a two-part series. The first half can be found here.

11. Support and encourage her in whatever she does. A girl likes that feeling of acceptance from her man, and knowing that you are there to back her up one hundred percent will give her an added boost of self-confidence. If she comes to you with her problems, help her out and don’t just shrug them off, assuming they will pass in time.

12. Surprise her with a phone call or visit. Spontaneity is always good for a relationship, and what better way to brighten her day than with hearing your voice or seeing your face?

13. Try never to go to bed with unresolved issues. Working out problems and miscommunications quickly spares a lot of unnecessary pain later on. Staying upset or irritated isn’t going to help anything; it’s best to just forgive and forget.

14. Stay faithful and committed to her. I know many guys are at different stages in their relationships, and some are not ready for commitment. But as long as you are with a girl, don’t be on the lookout for some other girl to catch your eye.

15. Be completely open and honest, even if you are afraid of hurting her. It is more important to tell the truth than to hide something from her because you are afraid of what she’ll say. This kind of communication is a must for a healthy relationship.

16. Don’t compare her to past girlfriends, and speak well of her when she’s not around.

17. Listen and give value to what she says. Don’t ignore her; she may actually be right.

18. Never rush into anything, and don’t pressure her.

19. Forgive her, love her, accept her, treat her with respect, and tell her that she’s beautiful.

20. Remember that good things come to those who wait. If she really is the one for you, then she is worth every second of waiting, and the sacrifices you may have to make will mean the world to her.

Well, there’s my list of the top twenty ways to be a better boyfriend. I’m sure there are countless other ways that you could think of. No matter how big or little a thing you do for your girl, it is very much appreciated and loved by her. Love is the most important thing you can have in a relationship, but everything else flows out of that love.

Calico Jack adds: These are all excellent things to think about. I wonder why so many guys (and girls) don’t seem to understand the basics of a relationship and what makes it strong. Maybe you should write a post on how to be a better girlfriend; I’m sure that many girls would enjoy hearing what you have to say about the other half of the relationship.

Wimbledon’s women

Posted in Sports at 2:23 pm by Calico Jack

(Maria Sharapova at this year’s Wimbledon, wearing an approved outfit.)

Faced with growing concerns about the increasingly revealing attire worn by some female players, Wimbledon is cracking down on their dress code this year. Gone are the low-cut tops and billowy dresses that display more than the tournament organizers would like. This year, the penalty for improper attire could be as strong as a default; that’s pretty severe. Also included in the category of “unsuitable” is clothing that carries sponsors’ logos larger than four inches square. But bare midriffs are acceptable…go figure.

The most important rule at Wimbledon still holds, however: woe to the person who shows up dressed in anything but white. The organizers would be pretty upset with Maria if she walked on court wearing this:

Elizabeth Swann adds: I’m glad they’re finally cracking down on the dress code. The idea of a tennis match is to watch girls play tennis and not flaunt their stuff, which may be a distraction for some. I guess white is the traditional uniform for Wimbledon, but I happen to like colorful outfits.

June 28, 2006

Artist Discovery- Corinne Bailey Rae

Posted in Music, News at 12:40 am by Edward Teach

If you’ve been paying attention to the music world, this really isn’t an artist “discovery”. If not, Corinne Bailey Rae is an artist you’ll be hearing more about. (If you want to tap into the stream of music news, check out my links in Blogroll for starters.)
The buzz about Corinne has been growing for the past few months and for good reason. A native of Leeds, this songstress has been wowing listeners since her debut release in February 2006.Three singles have been released so far and the link for the video from one is below. Enjoy.


Put Your Records On

Princess Sela adds: She reminds me of the old Nelly Furtado.

June 27, 2006

Could having older brothers make you gay?

Posted in Politics, Relationships at 11:35 pm by Calico Jack

According to a new study funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, men who have several older brothers are more likely to be gay. Of course, the media is going to treat this claim with due consideration and careful scrutiny, right? Let’s take a look at the AP article to see how this information is presented to the public:

“It’s likely to be a prenatal effect,” said Anthony F. Bogaert of Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, “This and other studies suggest that there is probably a biological basis for” homosexuality.

Okay, the conclusion is that a person’s sexual orientation could be biological, likely being formed while still in the womb. Therefore, the data must support that claim for it to be a valid conclusion. So far, so good.

S. Marc Breedlove of Michigan State University said the finding “absolutely” confirms a physical basis.

“Anybody’s first guess would have been that the older brothers were having an effect socially, but this data doesn’t support that,” Breedlove said in a telephone interview.

The only link between the brothers is the mother and so the effect has to be through the mother, especially since stepbrothers didn’t have the effect, said Breedlove, who was not part of the research.

First of all, why did the AP interview a professor who had absolutely nothing to do with the study in the first place? His credentials are never listed in this article; how are we supposed to know whether or not he is qualified to actually comment on this study?

I did some research, and here’s what I came up with: S. Marc Breedlove earned a Ph.D in psychology from UCLA in 1982, after which he became a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. He transferred to Michigan State University in 2001, receiving the Barnett Rosenberg Chair in Neuroscience and a tenured professorship in the departments of psychology and zoology. His areas of research include “sexual differentiation of the brain and spinal cord, morphological sex differences in the nervous system, and permanent and transient effects of hormones on neurons.” So what exactly does that mean? Well, he’s published papers on various subjects such as “Finger-length ratios and sexual orientation,” “Differences in finger length ratios between self-identified butch and femme lesbians,” and “Sexual dimorphism in digit-length ratios of laboratory mice.”

I’m speechless. Back to the study.

Bogaert studied four groups of Canadian men, a total of 944 people, analyzing the number of brothers and sisters each had, whether or not they lived with those siblings and whether the siblings were related by blood or adopted.

He reports in a paper appearing in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that having several biological older brothers increased the chance of a man being gay.

It’s an effect that can be detected with one older brother and becomes stronger with three or four or more, Bogaert said in a telephone interview.

But, he added, this needs to be looked at in context of the overall rate of homosexuality in men, which he suggested is about 3 percent. With several older brothers the rate may increase from 3 percent to 5 percent, he said, but that still means 95 percent of men with several older brothers are heterosexual.

Okay, let’s see…944 people divided into four groups means that there are 236 people per group. An increase in the overall rate of homosexuality among men from 3 to 5 percent means that the number of gay people in each group ranged anywhere from 7 to 11…hardly a noteworthy statistic. Keep in mind that this rate is an assumption by the researchers; without hard data it is hard to provide an accurate picture. The sample size may be large enough, but a variation of two percent is so small as to be almost meaningless. Also, notice the complete absence of a margin of error or confidence interval; this could easily eliminate any differences in the study.

Ignoring the shaky statistics, however, my one question is this: what kind of biological effect on homosexual inclination could possibly be caused by having older brothers? And why would this effect increase along with the number of older brothers that someone has?

Bogaert said he concluded the effect was biological by comparing men with biological brothers to those with brothers to whom they were not biologically related.

The increase in the likelihood of being gay was seen only in those whose brothers had the same mothers, whether they were raised together or not, he said.

Men raised with several older step- or adopted brothers do not have an increased chance of being gay.

“So what that means is that the environment a person is raised in really makes not much difference,” he said.

Just out of curiosity, where are the fathers in this research? I understand the need to study mothers, since that is the only way to support their biological claim. But solely looking at brothers and not fathers means that the researchers cannot claim with absolute certainty that environment does not matter. Have they eliminated all environmental factors in their research, allowing them to have a solid control? Or have they merely seen a correlation between two pieces of information, and made that their theory without adequate study?

What makes a difference, he said, is having older brothers who shared the same womb and gestational experience, suggesting the difference is because of “some sort of prenatal factor.”

One possibility, he suggests, is a maternal immune response to succeeding male fetuses. The mother may react to a male fetus as foreign but not to a female fetus because the mother is also female.

It might be like the maternal immune response that can occur when a mother has Rh-negative blood but her fetus has Rh-positive blood. Without treatment, the mother can develop antibodies that may attack the fetus during future pregnancies.

Whether that’s what is happening remains to be seen, but it is a provocative hypothesis, said a commentary by Breedlove, David A. Puts and Cynthia L. Jordan, all of Michigan State.

Okay, let’s review for those of you who may be lost by this incoherent mess. Based on a single small study with faulty testing and inadequate research, these “scientists” are suggesting the following:

  • There is a corellation between having older brothers and an increase in the likelihood of being gay…up to a two percent difference.
  • This effect does not matter whether or not the brothers were raised together, only that they shared the same blood, meaning that there must be a biological, not environmental, basis for this effect.
  • Since some of the brothers were not raised together, this biological effect must take place in the womb before birth, because the womb is the only invariable factor where this effect could occur.
  • To explain this pre-natal effect, these researchers raise the possibility that the maternal immune system could assault successive male fetuses, since the mother may recognize the male fetus as a foreign object and attack it.
  • Over time, as more male fetuses gestate, the mother’s immune defenses could become stronger, until eventually…what?

See, that last point is the hardest question to answer. If a predisposition towards homosexuality is caused by a reaction of the mother’s immune system, could that mean that such tendencies are an aberration? That raises a whole slew of interesting questions. However, the point is moot, since this study is inherently flawed. These researchers made a mistake that is inexcusable for a high school student, let alone professional scientists. They assumed that because there was a correlation between two things, a causation must follow.

I won’t rule out that there could be a biological predisposition towards homosexuality, but this study does nothing to advance that claim. The media are making a much bigger deal out of this than they should be doing. To spread this story–sans critique–all over television and the internet is irresponsible. I suggest that the next time a story such as this is released, reporters and scientists take a hard look at the data presented. Doing so will serve the public much better than blindly accepting a faulty study.

June 25, 2006

Movie Review: Nacho Libre

Posted in Movies at 9:07 pm by Captain Morgan

© Black & White Productions, Nickelodeon Movies

I’ll admit it. My friends and I have been laughing at the Nacho Libre trailers for a while now. We can even pretty much quote them word for word. Our fake Mexican accents have been improving. But we still laugh at those trailers.

Because of that, I brought high expectations with me when I saw the movie. Maybe a little bit too high. Don’t get me wrong, though. The movie is good. But when you have dreams of riding the Titanic only to find out you’ll be on a tugboat, it dampens your mood.

There are funny lines in Nacho Libre. Lots of them. And for most of them, I laughed. In my head. There was only one scene that had me laughing until I started to cry.

The movie does have a nice moral meaning to it. Themes of friendship and fighting for what is right abound. As well as being true to yourself and not letting people get you down. As Nacho Libre is rated PG, it was nice to not be assaulted by curse words or gratuitous sex. Granted, with Jack Black as the lead, thank God there were no sex scenes.

I do think that, as with Napoleon Dynamite, this movie probably will be funnier the second time you see it. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should we, the audience.

All in all, I give Nacho Libre a B+.

June 24, 2006

Under The Iron Sea – Keane

Posted in Music, News at 11:22 pm by Edward Teach

Under the Iron Sea is the much anticipated sophomore release from Britain’s premier piano pop trio, Keane. Hopes and Fears, the somewhat left-of-center breakthrough release from the band, has sold over 5 million copies worldwide; and this new album shows the same promise. Iron Sea has much of the same sound that defined Keane, but with a decidedly darker twist. More mature in lyrical depth and orchestration, the album also sees the band experimenting with a wider sound palette. The keyboard(s) are pumped through a variety of vintage processors and guitar pedals. The result is alternately driving and haunting.

Two singles have preceded the album, "Atlantic" (the Internet-only single) and "Is It Any Wonder?" (the Top 40 format single). Both are good, though not in my opinion the best songs off the album. "Nothing In My Way" is an excellent piece of music, and other songs like "Crystal Ball" and "Put it Behind You" have definite single potential. The cover art/packaging is also quite nice. The work is in the style of Nordic block printing, all drawn for the band by Sanna Annukka.

I would definitely suggest this album for any fans of Hopes and Fears, and bands such as Coldplay, U2, The Beatles or smart pop in general. 4.5 out of 5.

Being a Better Boyfriend, part 1

Posted in Personal, Relationships at 3:37 pm by Elizabeth Swann

I know there have been many of these lists in the past, but I thought I’d just write one of my own. This is directed towards guys about how girls like to be treated and ways to make them feel special. For you girls out there reading this, these are some things you could look for in your boyfriend. I know that every guy is different and each has his own way of caring and showing girls love. Since I’ve had such a great experience with the man of my dreams, these are my top things that he does for me; I know there are countless ways he has shown me love, but these are my favorite.

1. Treat her like she is the most special person in the world every day. This first one actually encompasses everything else that I’m going to write. But if you keep this thought in the back of your mind and if you treat her like your princess, she will know just how much she means to you.

2. Whisper “I love you” when she least expects it. Remember that a girl never tires from hearing these three, simple little words that have a powerful meaning behind them. With these she is encouraged and strenghtened by a love which only you can give her.

3. If you are ever in a group and are apart, glance, smile, and wink at her. This gives her a reminder that even though you may be talking with others, your thoughts are always upon her and that it is your desire to be with her at that very moment. One such look can instantly melt her, and without a word it can mean a thousand things.

4. Laugh and cry with her. No matter what may have caused the joy or the sorrow, she likes to share these moments with you. In times of sadness, you are the one that she leans on, and in times of joy she wants you to be just as happy as she is.

5. Be patient with her. Whether she is extremely talkative or a bit shy and has problems communicating, wait gently for her and don’t stay frustrated for very long.

6. Be a gentleman. This one may be a little obvious, but you may be surprised at how often this can be overlooked. Doing such simple things, as opening a car door or holding open a door for her to enter in a building, is greatly appreciated. Though she may persist that she’s independent and can do that for herself, deep down she really wants you to do it. It is good to start this habit early in the relationship.

7. Be a man of your word so as to gain her trust. This is one of those foundations upon which a great relationship is built. Once broken, a trust is hard to regain; so don’t do anything that would give her doubts, and be ready to stand by your word.

8. Initiate deeper conversations with her. Not everything has to be surface level, such as talking about your day or week. Share with her your secrets, dreams, desires, and struggles; and she will respond and do likewise. Doing this brings you into a deeper level of intimacy as you discover more and more about your beloved every day.

9. Cup her face, look into her eyes, and tell her how much you love her and how much she means to you.

10. Be her friend. Notice that in the word “boyfriend” we find the word “friend,” which implies that friendship is a key for a good relationship. Don’t be in a relationship just for the physical aspect of it. Get to know her as a friend first before you start anything else. Do all that being a friend entails. I know for me, I intend on marrying my best friend, who also happens to be the one man I will ever love-I get the best of both worlds!

Movie Review: Click

Posted in Movies at 2:13 am by Calico Jack

(The adorable Kate Beckinsale, with an actor who plays her husband.)

Judging from the trailers, one might think that Click is a typical Adam Sandler comedy, albeit a high-concept one. A dad who is uninvolved with his family discovers a truly universal remote control, which allows him to skip around the various parts of his life. All is well until something goes wrong and he can no longer control the remote, leading to utter chaos…and a gradual realization that he should be a better father. At the end of the movie, the moral has been learned; and along the way the audience has laughed at the situations which have befallen him.

That is the synopsis of Click; or rather, it would be if the movie were a typical Adam Sandler film. Click is not a comedy at all, however; but rather an increasingly dark, cold movie that masquerades as a comedy in its first half hour before pulling a bait-and-switch on complacent moviegoers expecting to see an Adam Sandler film full of gross-out sight gags, juvenile banter, and Sandler's patented frat-boy shtick. To be fair, there is quite a bit of the aforementioned humor; but as the movie progresses the humor is quickly overshadowed by a growing sense of despair as the audience watches a man gradually lose his connection with his family by seeking to avoid everything that might not bring him immediate pleasure.

Click is a hard movie to watch, partly because its light-hearted tone is quickly replaced by something far more ruthless. Anyone who has lived through emotional abandonment might find this film both heartbreaking and eerily perceptive; that is quite a combination for a movie that also includes flatulence and sexual humor. Adam Sandler does a good job at portraying a dad who callously ruins his own life and emotionally stunts the lives of his children, simply to climb the corporate ladder. He is a jerk in this movie, and the audience watches his self-destruction not with sympathy but rather a detached horror.

Sandler never quite leaves his adolescent image behind, however; and this weakens the film. I have a feeling that the producers could not decide whether to make this a thoughtful yet lighthearted comedy or a humorous drama with ambitions towards greatness…so they decided to mash the two together and hope that it worked. Either way, Click would have been a stronger film; but as it stands the transitions between fart jokes and marital therapy sessions are quite jarring. Click is brutal in some aspects, but I wish that the producers had the courage to go all of the way and leave out most of the humor in order to make a disturbing, thought-provoking film much along the lines of It's a Wonderful Life. My second choice would have been a fluffy comedy about the everyday struggles of family life. Instead, we get an uneven film that has a completely unnecessary scatalogical joke for every flash of insight it provides.

The lovely Kate Beckinsale sparkles as Sandler's long-suffering wife. I would have liked to see her get even more screen time than she already has because of her role as the emotional core of the film. No, wait; who am I kidding? She is the most beautiful housewife ever to be shown in a movie; that's why I want more of her. Christopher Walken steals every scene he is in; after dozens of movies using his trademark Walken way of speaking, he never fails to entertain. The rest of the cast is uniformly good; there are no weak actors here.

Ultimately, Click doesn't really know what it wants to be; and that is a true shame. This is a movie that I wanted to love, but I can only settle for a disappointed liking. Not because it is worse than I thought it would be; far from it. But I see what it could be, and it falls short. If there had been an editor who was brave enough to take out the adolescent humor and leave the gentle smiles, this could have been regarded as a masterpiece. However, this is not a worthless movie. The final twenty minutes are as much of a tearjerker as any movie released this year, and there are occasional flashes of brilliance throughout that truly resonate with its audience. Kate Beckinsale alone almost makes the movie worth its price of admission. Ultimately, Click can't commit to either making the audience laugh or cry; and it isn't strong enough to do both at the same time, leaving me to give it a regretful B-.

Captain Morgan adds: Scatalogical? I shake my head in disbelief. I saw Click with CJ and agree with his review. We actually gave it the same letter grade as we stood outside the theater. Either his taste is degrading, or mine is improving. Normally I give everyone a B, while he's passing around C's and D's. Perhaps we're getting more mature.

And just because we can:

June 23, 2006

Lessons from CNN and Fox News

Posted in Celebrities, News, Politics at 2:52 pm by Captain Morgan

I stayed up until way too late last night watching CNN and Fox News, and I learned a few things.

1. Nancy Grace is the funniest fake newscaster since Jon Stewart. What, oh she's serious? Oh well. She's still funny as heck!

2. While I may agree with some of Bill O'Reilly's politics, he's kind of mean. Plus he wears more makeup than RuPaul. 

3. Anderson Cooper is cool, but he doesn't do much. Mostly he repeats whatever everyone else says.

4. Between what's going on in the main screen, and reading the ticker on the bottom, you have to be an expert multi-tasker in order to fully get the news.

5. We need 10 people to communicate 1 story to us.

6. Sometimes, in an effort to be "fair and balanced", the news is boring. 

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