Thursday, December 15, 2011

More Rambles: Scientific enthusiasm, and the death of the Space Age

I haven't looked at statistics but I have to think that in this economic downturn more people have been changing majors or just going into scientific (and especially medical) fields, the last bastion of safety in what seems to be a withering, consumer based economy.

And while I believe a good scientific background is important for everyone, I notice that there is a very noticeable lack in enthusiasm for science, with emphasis only on the immediate application of whatever is being studied. While this makes perfect sense (hey, we all needs jobs and paychecks) I feel a bit disheartened that the passion for exploration and discovery, simply for its own sake, seems to be lost.

If anything this passion seems to have been slowly withering away since the death of the Space Age. Maybe it's because the Soviet Union collapsed and now we don't have anyone to compete with; after all, our enemies are depicted and considered to be insane religious radicals, therefore making science something of no concern. Anywhere where there are achievements in science (the Hadron Collider, for example) come from other countries that aren't seen as enemies or threats.

I find this kind of sad, and I sort of wonder sometimes if this speaks in any way to the "American character", wherein competition is used as a way to drive the search for knowledge and discovery. But then...that can't be true, can it?

In relation to my other post about the rise of religious extremism, I do think that that has a very important impact. After all, you can't really learn about science and really feel passion for it if you're raised to think that it's a liberal, athiest conspiracy to destroy God and push evolution on everyone (that said, they do pick and choose which theories they want to accept or deny, so...who knows). Because what this really seems to have caused is a push in learning "simple" applicable sciences while pushing ignorance and disbelief for anything that conflicts with religious politics.

I keep continually depressing myself with these rambling posts of mine :/
A picture that I find oddly relaxing and certainly beautiful:

Randomness: On fashion accessories, specifically pearl earrings

More random crap from me :D I'm on a roll...

I just wanted to ramble on how much I like pearl earrings as a simple fashion statement and way to draw attention.

Far more than any jewelry I think earrings make the rather important "impact" of drawing attention to the face, especially (depending on length), the rather lovely area of the cheekbones down to the jawline. They can really help define the face and draw attention up, which is always really good.

Also, I personally find them less intrusive than other jewelry, and far less likely to break/be lost from normal wear and tear.

My favorite sort are pearl earrings. Most people can't wear giant diamonds (and anyway, that seems a bit gaudy) but pearls have the right amount of subtlety while still maintaining a noticeable amount of shine. Also, they go with absolutely everything and depending on the earring style can easily be dressed up and down, while I wouldn't necessarily say the same of diamonds, gemstones, or beads.

I'll admit, a lot of this comes from the "Girl with a Pearl Earring" painting, book and movie (though this is one of those rare cases where the movie was better than the book, I think). The painting itself is so lovely and simple, with that aforementioned subtle shine and elegance to the pearl. The movie also brings up that it catches the light really well.

I did make an effort to find the largest (without being ridiculous) dangling white pearl earrings I could for relatively cheap. Luckily I found some in Chinatown! They are fake, but they look real, as they are big without being ridiculous. And white goes with everything of course, and all for the awesome low price of $10. Pretty good, if you ask me.
I think a nice pair of dangling white pearl is one of those "fashion necessities", much like the well known "little black dress".


Random, on politics and culture

Just blowing some steam:

I am a bit curious if there is, as some have noted, a substantial rise in the power and fervor of the conservative and religious right.

At some point I'm a bit curious as to how socially liberal Republicans and/or economically conservative people (often, but not always, something along the lines of Libertarianism) feel about this. Unfortunately America is a two party system but I wonder if these people feel underrepresented at all. I certainly don't hear about it, other than Ron Paul supporters. It just seems odd to me that those who are more socially liberal would still be willing to follow Republicans, giving that much of the platform (at least recently) is so incredibly heavy in religious and socially conservative rhetoric.

I know that a lot of people who follow Democrats will often bring up the differences and alienation they may feel from the party (and quite frankly, I think the Democrats are even more varied; with the Republicans it seems to divide on being socially liberal/fiscally conservative vs socially conservative/variance while Democrats are all over the damn place).

Perhaps this is all a result of these uncertain economic times? I definitely think a lot of this can be traced back to 9/11, and all this "extreme" conservative backlash is still a ripple effect of that.

But I also wonder if this is the last frantic attempt at conservative power before the "liberal storm." A lot of the conservatives out there seem to worship the idealized notion of the '50's, where all those damn women and minorities knew their place and the economy worked. However, all that led to the "explosive" events of liberalism and social change in the 60's, so maybe this is something similar? Like the 50's, there has been a slow and steady gain in right (especially for gays), but more importantly just awareness. So while we have taken some steps back perhaps this is just the opening act for more open social change and awareness?

I really, really fucking hope so. Or else I'm screwed. Honestly it seems like just bad luck that I got stuck growing up (or living, really) in one of the more troubled decades America has had to deal with.

Here's a picture to cheer me (and you?) up:

Review: Jack Black Lip Balm

Update: picture :P

I ordered JB lip balm after hearing a lot of good reviews about it.

However, just for some background: I am absolutely addicted to lip moisture. I need it, very badly, and it drives me nuts when my lips are dry. I keep a bunch of lip moisturizers around my house and with me constantly so that I always have something with me. It is a necessity for me.

When I first got it I was a bit disappointed because of how small it was, considering the price. It is obviously far more than I'm used to paying.

However I was pleased to find that it is a very thick consistency, so a little goes a very long way. Add to that the high SPF (25), which for some reason is really rare in lip products, and I think the price is certainly worth it just for these two aspects.

I got the black tea/blackberry flavor just on a whim, I didn't quite know what to pick. However, I'm very pleased I did! The flavor is shockingly true to form. I was surprised to smell and taste a very characteristic black tea bitterness, it isn't bad but it is there. The blackberry was less strong but still very present, especially in smell. They work really well together and if I were to get more I think I'd keep getting this flavor, at least for how unique it is. I wish more companies would make these unusual flavors that actually smell and taste like what they're supposed to be, as opposed to the generic mint/common fruit scents and flavors.

I am very happy to report that this is also extremely moisturizing and it lasts forever. Far more than any lip treatment I've ever had in my life, and that is definitely saying something.

It should be noted that this is rather thick, again, and you can definitely feel it on your lips. While I live for that, others may not like it so much. I think it's fantastic though...

I will definitely keep buying these for now and I can't say enough good about it. I haven't been so pleased with a product for a VERY long time, this is absolutely great, 5/5.

For now, a random image, keeping with the winter/holidays:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A few random hair care discoveries/tips

My hair (along with my skin, but that's another story) tends to have a lot of ups and downs in terms of how it looks. My hair is kind of thick so it often has problems with volume. And of course, when my hair looks all deflated (in conjunction with the darkness of it), it looks greasy, which I hate.

Another upfront: I am prone to dandruff and the itchy, sometimes painful skin that goes along with it. I use dandruff shampoo but honestly, it doesn't do much for me in the long run. You're supposed to leave it on for a while (5+ minutes) but at that point it dries my hair out and that's no good either.

(I'll do a whole separate post later on dry shampoos, which I've been "working on" for forever, but as for now, I've noted some things that tend to help me out.)

I appreciate that vinegar (apple cider vinegar to be exact, the often touted natural cure for dandruff and washing hair) can do so much and maybe this is just me being annoying but I can't stand the damn stuff. I hate it, I detest that smell. Nonetheless I keep a bottle of it in the shower and I have used it. I will note that the smell (thankfully) doesn't seem to stick. However, it doesn't work that well on it's own as my hair felt greasy after using it.

However! I found two solution that worked well for me. I admit that I need to fine tune some of the order in which I do these things but I need to keep working this out and I'll update it if I ever perfect it.
Another thing to note is that I've done this with the assumption that I don't want to wash my hair too often (it messes it up and it's bad for the scalp) and, most importantly, I wash cheap and natural help in this department. Here we go:

1. For dandruff, without frequent washing
I forgot where I hear this tip (probably some ehow site) but lemons are a lifesaver!
They help clean the scalp and fight off the dandruff without drying out the hair.

I started out with a whole lemon. After washing it and cutting it in half I squeezed out all the juice into a cup. In the shower I used some water/vinegar in my hair and did a bit of a scrub with some baking soda. After enduring the stench of the vinegar I poured all the lemon juice (mixed with water) on my hair and then scrubbed it with the lemon itself.

This worked really well. However, one big problem I had was that I ended up with little pieces of lemon flesh (is that the word?) in my hair so it basically looked like someone sneezed onto my scalp. I should have just used half the lemon water as a rinse.

That aside, it worked really well. No dandruff, the itch was gone, and my hair was really clean (with good volume) without the damaging effects of a strong dandruff shampoo.

2. With shampoo
I'm not quite ready to do the "no -poo" method (insert Beavis and Butthead giggles) quite yet. I don't have a steady supply of the necessary ingredients for it and I haven't found the right remedy for me.

So I'm still using regular shampoo (at this time, Target brand shampoo and Head and Shoulders). To try to combat the drying effects, I recently tried rubbing some olive oil onto my scalp and leaving it on for a while before washing with the shampoo. Again, results were great as my hair didn't feel dry and looked shinier after it dried. I'll be doing this from now on.

So a combination of the usual natural ingredients to help beauty and health can always do the trick!