Some Saturday Stuff: September 28th.

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Hello, East of Edeners! Hope you had a great week. I did. I capped it off with more walk yesterday, doing over a mile, pushing Zoe in her little red lightweight stroller. We had Starbucks with Uncle Joe, and visited with my former boss and coworkers. It was a lot of fun. By the end of the day, I was exhausted, and my legs felt like spaghetti, but it was totally worth it. I’m still a bit sore this morning, but overall, okay. It might be that the plasmapheresis is *finally* starting to help… 🙂


So let’s get to those links, shall we? First up, the kerfluffle over a Barilla pasta chairman’s stance against depicting gay families in company advertisements. From Salon:


Thanks, Barilla – you’ve given even the diminishing population of those of us who still love carbs and tolerate gluten just fine a reason to avoid pasta. Well played, foot shooting-wise.


The world’s largest pasta company found itself in hot water this week when chairman Guido Barilla did an interview on the Italian radio show “La Zanzara” Wednesday in which he declared, “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family.… I would not do it but not out of a lack of respect for homosexuals who have the right to do what they want without bothering others… [but] I don’t see things like they do and I think the family that we speak to is a classic family…. if [gay people] like our pasta and our message they will eat it; if they don’t like it and they don’t like what we say they will… eat another.” And then, just to put the sauce on the ziti, he added, “Everyone has the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them [but] I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose.” Great, so we can now add Barilla pasta right next to Russia on our list of things that people who care about basic human rights should avoid.


By Thursday, the brand was facing a mountain of severe criticism. The hashtag #boicotta-barilla swiftly became a Twitter trend, and Equality Italia chairman Aurelio Mancuso spoke for many when he announced, “Accepting the invitation of Barilla’s owner to not eat his pasta, we are launching a boycott campaign against all his products.” Facing a worldwide outcry, the company then attempted to walk back his statements, and that went about as well as it usually does when profoundly ignorant people try to explain themselves. 


“I’m sorry if my comments on La Zanzara have created misunderstanding or polemic,” Mr. Barilla said in a statement the company issued Thursday, “or if I’ve offended anyone. In the interview I only wanted to underline the central role of the woman in the family.” Oh, thanks, that makes it so much better. You weren’t trying to be homophobic, you were just being sexist. My bad! One does have to wonder, based on his statement, if Mr. Barilla thinks that only men can be gay, or that preparing pasta is a skill only heterosexual mothers possess. Ah yes, the common dinnertime complaint – you’re hungry, you’ve got a box of linguine and a jar of sauce, but dammit, no woman around to boil the water.


Too little, too late. I already have at least four friends on Facebook vowing to never buy anymore Barilla and calling for others to boycott. Then again, maybe it’ll end up working out like Chick-Fil-A.


Over in Saudi Arabia, a sheikh warns women against driving because of its affect on the “ovaries and pelvis” (H/T: Mark Shea). Yeah, you read that right. From Al-Arabiya:


Saudi women seeking to challenge a de facto ban on driving should realize that this could affect their ovaries and pelvises, Sheikh al-Luhaydan, a judicial and psychological consultant to the Gulf Psychological Association, told Saudi news website


Driving “could have a reverse physiological impact. Physiological science and functional medicine studied this side [and found] that it automatically affects ovaries and rolls up the pelvis. This is why we find for women who continuously drive cars their children are born with clinical disorders of varying degrees,” Sheikh al-Luhaydan said.


Saudi female activists have launched an online campaign urging women to drive on Oct. 26.

More than 11,000 women have signed the declaration that says: “Since there are no clear justifications for the state to ban adult, capable women from driving. We call for enabling women to have driving tests and for issuing licenses for those who pass.”


Sheikh al-Luhaydan urged these women to consider “the mind before the heart and emotion and look at this issue with a realistic eye.”

“The result of this is bad and they should wait and consider the negativities,” he said.


I wonder what science and medical groups came to this conclusion?


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So “Breaking Bad” is coming to a close tomorrow. Over the past few weeks, I’ve binged on the entire series and have fallen in love. Not since my affair with “The Wire” have I been so taken by a TV drama. I think I’ll probably have to write a separate post at some point to express my thoughts more fully on the series. Plus, I really don’t want to elaborate too much for those, like my husband, who are still making their way through the seasons. I don’t want to be Ms. Spoiler, even though at times like this, it’s hard. It reminds me of a Portlandia skit. And yeah, yeah, yeah, I said I would not mention that show, but ha! Skip the video if you’re sick of it:



Anyway, it’s not just K who’s trying to catch up. From The New York Times:


Right now, Kyle Bauer fears “Breaking Bad” spoilers more than a pop quiz in class.


At the University of Pittsburgh, where Mr. Bauer is studying engineering, students cram into his dormitory lounge every Sunday night to watch the latest episode. But not Mr. Bauer, who was, as of Monday, still about 20 episodes behind. That night, he started binge-viewing so that he can be in the lounge for Sunday’s all-important finale — figuring that if he’s not there to see the ending when everyone else does, someone will spoil it for him.


“My friends are telling me it’ll be the best decision of my life,” he said Wednesday night, without even hitting pause during his marathon to talk to a reporter.


In its final season, “Breaking Bad” on AMC has become the It Show on cable television. All over the country, converts to the series about a mild-mannered teacher turned drug lord have set aside schoolwork, dishes and laundry to try to catch up on old episodes through Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and other Internet services.


The hype around hit television show finales has always been intense, but what has happened with “Breaking Bad” exemplifies a twist in the relationship between the parallel universes of live, linear television (the kind symbolized by Comcast and DirecTV) and on-demand TV (as embodied by Netflix).


On-demand services are typically thought to hurt live television viewing. In this case, they are fueling it.


“Breaking Bad” made its debut in 2008 to an underwhelming 1.2 million viewers — which would have caused many programming chiefs to drop it. But the show dodged cancellation and slowly built a following — especially once the old episodes were made available en masse on Netflix.


By mid-2012, about 2.6 million viewers were watching live episodes; now, as the ending approaches, that total has more than doubled to 6 million, which might be small for a network television show but makes “Breaking Bad” one of the biggest phenomena on cable.


“What’s remarkable about this show is we’ve created urgency to see it,” said Charlie Collier, the president of AMC, which has been running a marathon of every episode since Wednesday.

DVDs and, before that, VHS tapes have allowed audiences to catch up on shows for a long time — in fact, the popularity of “Family Guy” DVDs were partly credited with the 2005 revival of the once-canceled Fox animated comedy. But binge-viewing behavior has become much more pronounced in the last few years, mainly because Netflix and services like it have made it so easy to do.


Last Sunday, as “Breaking Bad” was finally winning the television industry’s highest honor, an Emmy award for outstanding drama, the show set a new ratings record for itself — 6.6 million, according to Nielsen — making it the biggest program on cable that night. At the same time, many people were just starting their marathons. According to Netflix, each day for the last two weeks, the most-streamed episode of the show has been the very first one, during which Walter White crystallized methamphetamine for the first time.


On Thursday night, K watched that first episode for the first time. Since he’s working today, quite obviously, he’ll never make it. But gosh darn it, I’m going to get him to try!


Over at The Gospel Coalition, writers Chris McNerney and Daniel Lee relate theology to the very broken character of Walter White:


In 2008, we were introduced to a high school chemistry teacher who turned drug dealer after being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Breaking Bad‘s Walter White was just an average man who wore unflattering patterned shirts and an awkward mustache. Slowly but surely, however, the mild-mannered husband and father transformed into his alter-ego Heisenberg—the shaved-headed, goatee-sporting prince of crystal meth.


And how appropriate his choice of alias, a nod to physicist Werner Heisenberg. Walt is the anthropomorphization of the Nobel laureate’s uncertainty principle; loosely speaking, we can know who he is right now, but we cannot be sure from whence he came or where he goes. In The Revolution Was Televised, Alan Sepinwall writes:


Walt might start off as a sympathetic character, but [the show’s creator Vince] Gilligan knew that there was darkness in his past (we learn that he quit a lucrative business over wounded pride, and later stubbornly chooses to keep cooking meth rather than take money from his ex-partners), and would be far more in the future.


When Walt murders a drug dealer in episode three, we see that “this is who Walter White was all along, and it’s only his changed circumstances that have revealed him as a man capable of these things,” Sepinwall writes.


In other words, Walt didn’t become broken—Walt was already broken. Broken on the inside by pride, lust for power and greed, all of which was neatly hidden away until circumstances brought the inner being to light. So Walt wasn’t a bad person because he manufactured narcotics; he manufactured narcotics because he was a bad person, and the long-term effects of unrepentant sin gradually harden him into a ruthless psychopath.

And so, Walt embodies what theologian John Owen mentioned centuries ago in his classic, The Mortification of Sin:


When a lust has remained a long time in the heart, corrupting, festering, and poisoning, it brings the soul into a woeful condition. . . . Such a lust will make a deep imprint on the soul. It will make its company a habit in your affections. It will grow so familiar in your mind and conscience that they are not disturbed at its presence as some strange thing. It will so take advantage in such a state that it will often exert itself without you even taking notice of it at all. Unless a serious course and extraordinary course is taken, a person in this state has no grounds to expect that his latter ends shall be peace.


I’m going to wrap this post up here. I meant to write a bit about my visit to the little Russian Orthodox church, but I’ll save that for a separate post. Hope you have a great weekend, and I’ll close this post with Gnarls Barkley’s “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul”, which

Consequence of Sound voted as the fifth best musical moment from “Breaking Bad”.


Be good. 😉

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