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Silicon Valley is now using empathy as a marketing tool to sell virtual reality equipment.

The late Steve Erwin’s son is an award-winning photographer and these photos show why.

Why it’s hard to separate Woody Allen the director from Woody Allen the person.

Yes, you can make your own solar cells from white powdered donuts.

The first historical record of Jesus describes him as a “magician.”

An interesting looking crochet version of The Exorcist.

Obama goes from the White House to Wall Street in less than one year.

Amateur artist turns old flip-flops into amazing action figures.

12-year-old boy creates creepy yet awesome sculptures using found materials.

The psychedelic retro-futurism of Swedish artist Kilian Eng.

The making of the first hand-drawn VR cartoon.

People are attacking Kendall and Kylie Jenner for their racist handbags…again.

Ivanka Trump hides behind her White House job to avoid a copyright lawsuit.

LuLa Roe has just changed its return policy and its consultants are screwed.

Scenes from 30 movies re-enacted with LEGO bricks.

Eight before-and-after graffiti transformations that create beauty out of blankness.

World-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall likens Donald Trump to a chimpanzee.

Bruce Springsteen lists 20 of his favorite books.

The chateau you should visit in France instead of Versailles.

Pepe the Frog’s creator has found a reliable way to fight the alt-right’s appropriation of his character.

Street-style photographers unite to proclaim #NoFreePhotos

How the band Rage Against the Machine predicted Donald Trump’s presidency 17 years ago.

This amazing tree that shows how languages are connected will change the way you see our world.

One woman’s quest to save Baltimore television, including some early footage featuring a young Oprah Winfrey.

Download Theft! A History of Music is a new free graphic novel exploring 2,000 years of musical borrowing.

Bic ballpoint pen portraits drawn on vintage maps and stationery by Mark Powell.


How classic cartoons created a culturally literate generation.

People are furious at these new shirts from Kylie and Kendall Jenner.

Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian are accused of stealing ideas from indie African American designers. 

See photographs of figures in Russian history rendered in colorized portraits, such as Tolstoy, Chekhov, and more.

This artist is brining out the beauty in stretch marks.

The rise in art protests: how the gallery became a new battleground.

What it means to be on the left.

Interactive Periodic Table of Elements shows how the elements actually get used in making everyday things.

Someone called this white girl’s Japanese tea party racist on social media but then this Japanese user stepped in.

Gorgeous color autochromes of American women from over 100 years ago.

Creative mom dresses up in amazing cosplay to represent older women characters.

Fender custom shop recycles Hollywood Bowl bench boards to make $12k guitars.

Rural America is stranded in the dial-up age.

Director Michel Gondry makes a charming film on his iPhone, proving that we could be making movies, not taking selfies.

This man spent 6 years crocheting a Super Mario Bros map blanket.

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals.

Transgender soldiers of the American Civil War.

The 11 most unintentionally hilarious religious paintings.

Meet the unconventional family who lives in a 1940s time warp.

$330,000 in financial aid bought this person a slot in the American meritocracy. He writes about the flaws in that system.

Santa Claus

Ever since my husband left me just three days after Christmas in 2011, I’ve been celebrating my birthdays by going out to all-you-can-eat Asian buffet places. While they were okay, I was ready for something a little bit different. I got a combination birthday/Christmas check from my mother so I could indulge myself a little bit. I originally planned on going to the Christmas Village that’s temporarily located in Baltimore where I would indulge in German food and do some shopping. But then I looked at operating hours and I found that the Christmas Village is closed on certain Tuesdays—including December 15.

Okay so that plan fell by the wayside. Then I decided on Plan B. I went to Tyson’s Corner Mall instead.


Here are the first few images of the plaza area where Metro riders arrive at the mall.




Käthe Wohlfahrt had a heated tent set up outside.


The next shot is one of the two giant wooden soldiers that guard the entrance to the tent. There was a photography ban inside the tent but you can just go on the website to see the variety of German-made Christmas decorations that are currently for sale.


Once again the mall has erected an ice skating rink on the plaza. It was empty mainly because I came on a Tuesday night.


I saw that Jon Wye now has a kiosk in the mall. I can remember when Jon Wye was a regular fixture in many of the local indie craft shows (such as Crafty Bastards). One year I purchased this t-shirt for my then-husband, which he really loved. (My husband loved to cook, although in the later years of our marriage I did more of the cooking because he would come home from work totally exhausted.)



I ended up eating my birthday dinner at Wasabi. It’s cool they deliver food on a conveyor belt plus the food is excellent.


After dinner I walked around the mall some more. I saw these cute Christmas villages made from Legos at the Lego Store.




A few months ago I wrote a rant on Why Kim Kardashian and Her Family Need to Just Go Away. I was exasperated over the fact that the entire family seem to have a knack at calling media attention to themselves even though most of them have no discernible talent. Even though I go through great lengths to avoid having anything remotely to do with Kim Kardashian and family, even I can’t avoid them completely. One example is this poster in a store window touting a fashion collection that’s promoted by two of Kim Kardashian’s younger half-sisters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner.


Nintendo set up this temporary display in the middle of the mall. People had the opportunity to actually try some of the latest Nintendo games that are currently on sale for both their 3DS and Wii U systems.










I saw these cute dolls made by the German company Götz in a Pottery Barn Kids store. Here’s a fun fact: Götz was the manufacturer of many of the early American Girl dolls, which ended when Mattel purchased American Girl and, in a cost-cutting measure, shifted all production to China. These days Götz makes its own 18-inch dolls that are sold in Pottery Barn Kids stores.





I also saw this Star Wars display in the Pottery Barn Kids store right across from where the Götz dolls were displayed.


In the middle of the mall was something called Those Animals, which were motorized stuffed animals that one could ride through the mall. Each animal is billed to carry a person up to 500 pounds. I thought about renting one briefly to try it out but I didn’t because I wasn’t sure if I would be considered too old to ride one. I later saw a group of teens riding those animals so maybe it would be okay for adults to ride as well. Maybe I’ll consider it again if Those Animals are still around the next time I go to Tyson’s Corner Mall.







I went to the American Girl Place. I focused mainly on the Christmas related stuff this time around because I’ve already taken so many pictures of that store in the past. There was this store exclusive dress that was displayed on different dolls.



There were also other types of holiday outfits for dolls available as well.







They also brought back the horse carriage that I photographed extensively last year at the same store.


Earlier this year I wrote extensively and posted a bunch of photos on Samantha Parkington’s gazebo. It was adorned with Christmas decorations when I saw that gazebo this time.



Their Bistro area was all decked out in holiday ornaments. The doll on the counter is Kit Kittredge, who’s the BeForever historical doll representing America during the Great Depression.



There were a variety of winter holiday decorations strewn throughout the store.






I took one more token photo of the 2015 Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas, because by the time I make a return visit to the American Girl Place, she’ll be long replaced by the 2016 Girl of the Year.


I took a few more photos of various store windows and displays throughout the mall.





I saw the ultimately geeky Christmas ornament: Darth Vader wearing a Santa hat and one of those ugly Christmas sweaters featuring all kinds of Star Wars-related motifs. I didn’t buy it at the time because I didn’t have enough money on me (after eating at Wasabi). When I attempted to go to a Hallmark store located closer to me, I found that all of the Darth Vader ornaments had been sold out except for the display model.


I finished with a visit to the Nestle Toll House Cafe. Instead of getting a birthday cake for myself, I opted to purchase a cookies and cream brownie. Boy, was it good!



I purchased only one thing during my trip to the mall. I found this $9.99 miniature gumball machine that had the images of Anna and Elsa on it from the Disney movie Frozen.


There is a coin slot but one can get the gumball just by twisting the handle. However, if you opt to pay with a coin, there is a lid at the bottom where you can retrieve your coins. (In other words, it functions as a bank as well as a candy dispenser.)


As I went back out on the plaza in the direction of the Metro station (so I could return home), I saw an employee spraying the surface of the ice skating rink with water.



I also saw some people sit on the outdoor couches by the tables with lit flames, such as this family in the next photo.



I usually don’t blog about celebrities but there’s something about Kim Kardashian and her family that seems totally off. They have this great ability to keep themselves in the media eye even though none of them—except for Olympic decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner—have any kind of discernible talent in the arts, sports, or business. Kim only got her initial name recognition because her late father, Robert, was one of the lawyers in O.J. Simpson’s murder trial back in the 1990’s. She later became infamous when she made this porn video with a rapper named Ray J where she literally gets pissed on. (I have never seen that video and, based on what I’ve read on the Internet, I have no desire to do so.)

That porn video somehow led to the E! cable channel giving her and her family their own reality show called Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I’ve only seen one episode once and it was enough for me. Ever since that show’s debut, I can’t seem to go into a single pharmacy or grocery store without seeing some tabloid featuring either Kim or one of her relatives on the front cover paired with some shocking-sounding headline. I was in a local Sears a few months ago when I saw a rack devoted to the Kardashian clothing line that contained some totally butt-ugly clothes. (You can see them for yourself right here, here, here, and here.) Those clothes were so ugly that someone would have to pay me a lot of money before I would even accept them.

I’ll admit that the Kardashians are masters at being in the public eye even though I felt grossed out when I read that Kim’s mother, Kris Jenner, was rumored to have brokered that sex video that started it all for the family. What kind of mother would do such a thing? I can see why some people on the Internet refer to her as Pimp Mama Kris or PMK for short.

Lately I’ve seen something that I personally find disturbing. Granted it’s just another form of attention whoring that the family is notorious for but it’s still disturbing nonetheless. It deals with Kim’s younger half-sisters, 17-year-old Kendall Jenner and 19-year-old Kylie Jenner. There was a video released on Snapchat yesterday and has been reposted elsewhere showing one sister dong a full reach around and putting her hand down the other’s sister’s pants while that sister does this fake moaning, “Kylie, oh!”

Today I saw this photo posted online showing the two sisters kissing each other on the lips in a sensual manner that would be erotic if it weren’t for the fact that these two share the same mother and father.

Sure they may be attention whores but they are carrying this way too far this time because they are starting to glamorize incest. Yes, I said it. Their actions are borderline incestuous because they are sisters. On top of it, one of the sisters is still underage, which makes her a minor. In some states the 19-year-old could be prosecuted for acting incestuous towards a minor and her parents would also get into trouble for doing little to put a stop to this. What’s worse is that they are posting this crap online in the pathetic hopes that people will pay attention to them.

Incest between siblings has literally had a long-term negative impact on people as the Wikipedia states:

Sibling-sibling incest becomes child-on-child sexual abuse when it occurs without consent, without equality, or as a result of coercion. In this form, it is believed to be the most common form of intrafamilial abuse.[82] The most commonly reported form of abusive sibling incest is abuse of a younger sibling by an older sibling.[59] A 2006 study showed a large portion of adults who experienced sibling incest abuse have distorted or disturbed beliefs (such as that the act was “normal”) both about their own experience and the subject of sexual abuse in general.[83]

Sibling abusive incest is most prevalent in families where one or both parents are often absent or emotionally unavailable, with the abusive siblings using incest as a way to assert their power over a weaker sibling.[84] Absence of the father in particular has been found to be a significant element of most cases of sexual abuse of female children by a brother.[85] The damaging effects on both childhood development and adult symptoms resulting from brother–sister sexual abuse are similar to the effects of father–daughter, including substance abuse, depression, suicidality, and eating disorders.[85][86]

I don’t have any children but if those two were my daughters I would really come down hard on both of them. I would take away the 17-year-old’s smartphone, tablet, laptop, TV, Internet access, and any video games she may own and ground her for a month. I would allow her to leave the house only to go to school and to church and she wouldn’t be allowed to receive any visitors other than immediate family members. During that time she would be allowed to only do the following: homework, read books (meaning the old-fashioned paper kind), and work on arts and crafts projects. As for the 19-year-old, she is a legal adult, but if she still lived with me I would give her one of the following options: accept the same punishment as her younger sister or move out of the house immediately. If she didn’t live with me, I would tell her to not come by the house for at least a month. I would also never again allow the sisters to be alone in the same room together if they were both in my house at the same time.

But, then again, I have different morals from Kris and Bruce Jenner.

For this family to glamorize something that has literally traumatized people is disgusting and despicable. I would love for this to backlash on this family so much that they crawl into obscurity. Unfortunately, given the climate of today’s corporate-owned media (that is more into hyping trivial fluff over really important news that the general public should really be informed about), it’ll probably increase their popularity. God help us all!

UPDATE (May 6, 2015): Someone has come up with a new app called KardBlock whose function is very simple. It’ll censor any mention of Kim Kardashian and/or members of her family that pops up on any newsfeed or any website you visit. That sounds like a great solution for those who are simply sick of hearing about the Kardashian clan. The new app is currently in beta but this website is offering people the opportunity to have exclusive beta access to what that site describes as “the best thing to happen to the internet since the Kardashians.”

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