Great Kate

Congrats to Kate Winslet for finally winning a Best Actress Oscar for her work in The Reader. The poor girl had been nominated five times previously, so it’s about time she got some recognition!

I fell in love with Kate the first time I saw her onscreen in Heavenly Creatures at Cinefest, the student-run cinema at Georgia State University. Admission was free with a student ID, and the snacks were cheap. So I spent far too much time in Cinefest watching movies when I should have been in Latin 201 or Foreign Policy. One afternoon, I decided to skip out and catch this Peter Jackson flick about two teenage girls in New Zealand that killed one of their mothers with a brick.

Kate was so pretty, so fresh, and so new in that film. After seeing her at Cinefest that day, I kind of think of her as “my” actress, in the same way I used to claim a band as my own in my teenage years. And just like the swell of pride you’d feel when that little garage band you liked when no one else had ever heard of them goes on to have a #1 single, it’s been so wonderful seeing her career blossom. And I feel like I’ve… “had her back” the whole time, ya know? We’re roughly the same age, so I absolutely consider her the best actress of my generation.

Congrats Kate – you rock, girl!

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

Hypnosis on the Highway

Have you ever driven a long distance… and then realized once you reached your destination that you can’t remember large portions of your journey?

This used to happen to me fairly frequently when I first met Lisa and was driving from Atlanta to Charlotte on a regular basis. I’d leave my place in Alpharetta, Georgia, and when I got to Lisa’s home just outside of Charlotte, I’d realize that I had no memory whatsoever of driving through South Carolina. I knew that I had obviously done it (I was in North Carolina, after all)… but I’d try to remember passing certain landmarks in South Carolina, and I’d draw a complete blank.

Come to find out, this phenomenon is called highway hypnosis and it’s a fairly common thing that also affects people that do repetitive tasks, like assembly line workers.

Apparently, the mind is able to divide itself in two: one part handles the task at hand – like driving, or assembling a widget – while the other concentrates on something else. Normally, the “conscious” part of your brain is in control when you’re doing a task; the “subconscious” part of your brain is supposed to stay quietly in the background. However, during a fit of “highway hypnosis”, the two parts become “equal” in your brain. The task may then shift to the subconscious part of the brain, while the conscious part thinks about other things.

Amazingly enough, there’s apparently no danger when your mind is in this state. Someone in a state of highway hypnosis is able to respond to external events (like swerving to miss a pothole or errant driver cutting you off) almost as quickly as someone not in a state of hypnosis.

Rainn Wilson on

A bit off topic, but here’s a rather serious editorial from Rainn Wilson of The Office on

It’s a bit strange for me, to say the least; a comic character actor best known for playing weirdos with bad haircuts getting all serious to talk about the persecution of the fellow members of his religious faith.

Dear readers of CNN, I assure you that what I’m writing about is no joking matter or some hoax perpetrated by a paper-sellin’, bear-fearin’, Battlestar-Galactica obsessed beet farmer.

I am a member of the Baha’i faith. What is that, you ask? Well, long story short, it’s an independent world religion that began in the mid-1800s in Iran. Baha’is believe that there is only one God and therefore only one religion.

via Commentary: Stop religious persecution in Iran –

Nifty WordPress Feature: Press This

“Press This” is a bookmarklet you can add to your Internet Explorer favorites or Firefox bookmarks (a bookmarklet is a small computer program that can be run via a bookmark or favorite).

What makes Press This so handy is that you can highlight some text on any random web page, then click the Press This bookmarklet and a window will pop up, containing all the highlighted text from the original page in a WordPress “new post” window. You can then add your own text (if desired) and click the “Post” button to quickly post the text to your blog. For example, most of the posts currently on the front page were added via Press This (look for posts that say “via [some link]” at the end of the post. If you like, you can also add pictures and videos to your Press This posts as well.

To add Press This functionality to your browser, just go to your WordPress dashboard and click the “Tools” link in the sidebar: you’ll find complete (simple) instructions there.

Once you start using Press This, you’ll see how handy it is. It’s almost as fast as Facebook’s “Share Link” function, and it’ll save you all kinds of time and hassle with cutting and pasting!

Note: there is a bug with Press This in WordPress 2.7.1. If you follow the instructions on your blog and get an error message when using Press This, let me know, and I’ll send you a link to a fix.

SONGS I LOVE: “Quicksand”

La RouxThe BBC makes up a list of around 130 up and coming British bands every year. Through website polls and other means, they eventually whittle the list down to a dozen or so bands. These bands make up the Beeb’s official “Sound of [insert year here]” list. Here’s this year’s list.

One of the bands making the cut this year is London-based synth-pop act La Roux. I first heard them via the BBC list, then scrambled to find some more tracks from them. They have an awesome 80s pop sound, yet fully updated for 2009.

As I always do with songs I like, I found a version of the song in question (in this instance, the “AutoKratz Drags to Riches mix” of “Quicksand”) and listened to it over and over again. The remix is addictive… once it’s in your head, you won’t be able to get it out!

Check it out here:


Steel City is toast of the sports world

TAMPA – One of the heroes of the game nearly became a bus driver.

The owner of the team walks to work every day. The fans of the team drink Iron City beer, wave dish towels and ignored the slumping economy to make their pigskin pilgrimage and turn this Super Bowl into a Sunshine State version of the Steel City.

This is why America should celebrate now that Pittsburgh is the home of more Super Bowl championships than any franchise in the history of pro football: Because the players are hungry, the owner is humble and the fans are loyal.

What more could you want out of the NFL’s champion of champions? And what more could you want from a Super Bowl?

via Steel City is toast of the sports world — South Florida

Boy found in crocodile

The remains of a five-year-old Australian boy have been found in the stomach of a crocodile, police say.

Jeremy Doble was last seen on 8 February playing near his family’s home beside a flooded mangrove swamp in northern Queensland.

Police now say he was attacked and eaten by a 14ft (4.3m) crocodile who was then trapped in a flooder river.

via BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Boy’s body found in crocodile.

Glucometer Tattoos?

Scientists at Draper Laboratory, a research company out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, are developing an injectable nanomaterial that fluoresces under infrared light in the presence of predetermined amounts of glucose. The idea is to make something like a tattoo that can provide constant monitoring for diabetics. So far, investigators at Draper have developed a version that can detect sodium, and are now working to transfer the technology to glucose.

via Coming Up: Injectable Under Skin Glucose Sensors – Medgadget –

Hubble’s Next Discovery: You Decide

You’re In Control! In 1609, Galileo turned his telescope on the night sky for the first time. Now, 400 years later, your vote will help make the momentous decision of where to point modern astronomy’s most famous telescope.

“Hubble’s Next Discovery — You Decide” is part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s observations. People around the world can vote to select the next object the Hubble Space Telescope will view. Choose from a list of objects Hubble has never observed before and enter a drawing for one of 100 new Hubble pictures of the winning object. The winning image will be released between April 2 and 5, during the IYA’s 100 Hours of Astronomy, a global astronomy event geared toward encouraging as many people as possible to experience the night sky. Vote by March 1 to swing Hubble toward your favorite target.

via HubbleSite – Hubble’s Next Discovery – You Decide.