Happy Friday from C-3PO.

In which some adorable folks calling themselves the “Star Wars Club of Tunisia” do a super delightful version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, dancing in costume through the abandoned Tatooine sets in the Tunisian desert. No, I know!

(If you happen to be unfamiliar with original, I urge you to fill that lacuna in your life’s education — click here)

h/t BuzzFeed

Kid President sez: We should say these 20 things more often.

Full disclosure: I laughed out loud at #5.

Happy New Year, y’all!

h/t Samhita Mukhopadhyay

Random pop star awesomeness.

Look at what happened to this Berlin busker, just out there trying to make a few Euros with his beat-ass guitar: He was playing Bronski Beat’s mid-1980s dance-pop hit “Smalltown Boy” — and along came lead singer Jimmy Somerville to sing it with him!!1!

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Apparently Somerville lives in Berlin and was out walking his dog. Can you even imagine? “Is it you? Is it you?”

Finally, I would like to note that I once interviewed the Scottish-born Somerville, for the Jerusalem Post, before he came to Israel for a solo show. Sometimes in my life, I’ve gotten to pretend I was cool.

Here’s the song for which Somerville is probably best known, from his Communards days – “Don’t Leave Me This Way”:

(Could this clip be anymore 80s? I think not. The pants!).

h/t Gawker

For my next birthday….

You have a little over eleven months to prepare, which should be plenty of time to get me this combination staircase/bookshelf/slide:

Just what every girl needs, really.

The Muffin Man.

muffin man, london

“The Muffin Man, London, 1910″

No word yet as to what lane he lived on.

source

I hope someday to return to Love Your Orchid.

Hereunder you will find a map of Europe in which the names of the countries are translated back from Chinese, character-by-character — but bear in mind that the foreign-place-naming system in Chinese is phonetic, assigning characters the sound of which corresponds most closely with the countries’ actual names, having nothing to do with the meaning of the characters. So you know, the following is meaningless. And wildly inaccurate. And could get you fired. (No, not really. But the other two, totally).

europe_map_chinese

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All hail haonowshaokao, the source of this marvelous artifact (“West Classtooth” – heh!), whose original post + comments sections are the source of all I know about how foreign place-names are created in Chinese, and h/t Twister Sifter, which is a source of many fairly weird and wonderful things, including the 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World post wherein I found the above.

What space sounds like.

You heard me.

From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

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Voyager.

captures.sounds.

of.interstellar.freaking.SPACE.

I mean. I just.

Did you hear me? You heard me! You heard SPACE!

And now, just for snicks, throw in the fact that Voyager has left the solar system. It’s gone. Se fue. And we have no idea whatsoever where it will end up and what it might find. I honest-to-goodness have chills just writing that.

It’s only a matter of time….

kirk voyager

Ashton Kutcher on opportunity, being sexy, and living life.

I’ll be honest, I never thought that I’d be quoting Ashton Kutcher at length — not, I stress, that I have anything against Ashton Kutcher.

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I really don’t. I mean, I know that all the hip, indie-type kids are supposed to eschew all things mainstream, and there’s little more mainstream than being a hugely successful TV and movie star, but the dude is just doing his job and doing it well. Plus which he is, if we are to be frank, very handsome. So I have nothing against him – he’s just not my jam. (Who is my jam? Let’s not discuss that here *cough*Tom Hiddleston*cough*).

But, that being the case, I never really expected to be quoting Ashton Kutcher at length. And yet here I am, about to do just that. He said the following at the Teen Choice Awards, so that room + those who watch the Teen Choice Awards were his audience — which is to say: People who don’t often hear the kind of thing he’s telling them here. The video of him saying all of the following (starting at about the 1:59 mark) is above, and it’s worth a watch, because it’s nice watching people being passionate when they say good things.

I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was 13 I had my first job with my dad, carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job at a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground. And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job. And I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.

Number two: Being sexy. The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous. EVERYthing else is CRAP, I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it. Be smart, be thoughtful, and be generous.

The third thing is something that I just relearned when I was making this movie about Steve Jobs. And Steve Jobs said when you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is. And that your life is to live your life inside the world, and try not to get into too much trouble, and maybe get an education, and get a job, and make some money, and have a family, but life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing, and that is that everything around us, that we call life, was made up by people that are no smarter than you. And you can build your own things, you can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life, don’t live one, build one. Find your opportunities and always be sexy. I love you guys.

Everyone’s already focusing on the middle bit, where he said those wonderful things about being sexy and the crap that we’re sold to try to make us feel like less, and I absolutely love that bit (and yes, Ashton Kutcher makes his money from selling things and being presented to the world in a conventionally attractive manner, plus he tends to date/act with women who are conventionally beautiful. That doesn’t make what he said any less true, and I would submit that for the audience in question, it gives those words a powerful added punch. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the kids who watch the Teen Choice Awards aren’t reading this blog).

But I also really loved the bits on either side of the middle bit. Now, I’ve already written about successful people talking about striving for success and how frustrating that can sometimes be to hear, and of course, in an extemporaneous, three minute speech at the Teen Choice Awards, no one is going to hit all the important points (like the ones I made right here, if you’re wondering), but whatever: He’s right. Opportunity looks like work, and often like very hard work. Not always, but often. If you really want what you want, it will almost never be handed to you, and I think that’s a good thing to remind people from time to time, especially young people who might be venerating The Famous.

And building a life rather than just living it — finding the things that you want to build and that are meaningful to you, because you are capable, too — that’s really powerful, and really important.

Have I gotten everything I wanted in my life? Do I always feel sexy (despite the fact that I am, in fact, really smart, and try hard to be thoughtful and generous)? I think that my writing on this blog is testament to the fact that no. Because I also try to be honest.

But that doesn’t make any of the above untrue, it just makes it part of a larger whole. We cannot expect anyone to deliver all of the truth in three minutes — but we can be grateful to those who tell some of it, particularly to an audience in particular need of hearing it.

Thanks, Mr. Kutcher. You may not be my jam, but you are A-OK. If you ever see Mr. Hiddleston, please tell him I say hi.

Barbie’s a real doll!

barbie

The doll on the left is, of course, Barbie, freak of plastic. The doll on the right was created by artist Nickolay Lamm using CDC figures to create a 3-D printed model of an average American 19 year old woman.

It’s been referred to as “normal” Barbie, and I’m not sure how I feel about that, nor how I feel about CDC “averages” — “normal” can be a very problematic word, and as a social scientist I can assure you that “average” is often useless.

And yet, having said that — more of this please! It’s remarkable how initially odd the “average” doll looks (or, at least it did to me!), and then how absolutely right.

More pictures of Lamm’s process and a link to his blog after the jump.

(more…)

In which the Anabaptists get Israeli culture.

So I have in my possession the most recent national edition an Amish newspaper —  the Amish newspaper, really: The Budget. It serves both the Amish and Mennonite communities, and it’s not like any print publication you’ve ever seen before.

As the Amish make very little use of technology, The Budget serves as a primary form of social communication between the far-flung Amish districts. The national edition “includes letters from scribes around the globe and throughout the United States. It consists of 3 – 4 sections of the Amish and Mennonite newsletters, showers, obituaries, memoriams, classified ad pages and other advertising.”

Page after page (44 pages, in four sections) of reports about individual communities: The weather, the crops, who visited whom, who had a baby, how an 11 year old broke his leg (on the trampoline), and who’s been sick and needs a hand. There’s a “Showers” section (quotation marks in the original) devoted to asking folks to shower certain community members with cards and letters, whether because that broken leg will make the summer very long for the boy in question, or because a new baby is a time of celebration, or because the news from Mayo was bad and so-and-so’s family could really use the support at such a difficult time. Ads for buggies, horse auctions, and various health remedies, not to mention the Amish Wedding Planner.

It’s a beautiful slice of community life that I think tells me more about what those communities mean to their members than nearly anything I could find about Mennonites or Amish written from the outside, and as we picked the paper up this weekend at the front desk of our hotel at Amish Acres (a hotel not frequented by Amish or Mennonites), I can only imagine its publishers and writers (I have the impression that the duty of writing in to The Budget every week gets shared around within the individual districts, but I’m not sure) are comfortable with the notion of strangers such as myself seeing their news. I feel lucky to have stumbled upon The Budget.

And here’s the part that made my family and me laugh out loud:

There’s a report from Jerusalem, filed by one Kevin Byers, who’s serving there with Christian Aid Ministries, an international Amish/Mennonite/Anabaptist aid organization. Sandwiched between a brief and strikingly accurate analysis of the newly-renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace process and a mention of visitors to the Jerusalem community, the report tells us this:

There are many differences of culture between the United States and Israel. One of those that is glaringly obvious and quite shocking to a Westerner visiting Israel for the first time is the lack of customer service. In America most successful businesses operate from this premise: The customer comes first. Here the customer can get the feeling that he doesn’t matter, or that the cashier considers it a bother to serve him, or that he is doing something wrong if he buys too much of one item. Besides that you will likely find yourself fighting to stay in “your” place in the checkout line because others will simply push towards the counter and leave you wondering what’s wrong with these people! These are not blanket statements but only too true in many cases. Recently some friends of our were called rubbish by the shopkeeper because they didn’t want to buy anything! So much for promoting your business!

My favorite part is the exclamation point after “people.”

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