29 June 2015

summertime scheduling

i am not here. or there.
greetings and salutations! i expect that many of you are starting to claim those precious days known as summer vacation and will be traveling to faraway and exotic locations, or else retreating to somewhere familiar and comforting in order to recharge your batteries. i am not. i'll be right here, blogging away for the foreseeable future, so please spare me a thought when you're off having the time of your life.

however, with the weather taking a turn for the warmer and with the city offering a wider range of things to do, [as well as work picking up, which is the opposite of what's supposed to happen, but i'm not complaining] i have somewhat less time to blog and less time to research. during a recent battle with the bubonic plague [i won! although i still don't feel back to my normal, healthy self], i had to skimp a bit on content, which i hate doing. however, it did made me think that with my commitments and the various things i want to do, that some temporary changes are in order.

to that end, mental health mondays will be taking a vacation until september. world wide wednesdays will continue to appear and there will continue to be a paranoid theory of the week, which will normally be posted on saturday or sunday. i'm opting to give mhm a vacation because it's the feature that's been running the longest, which means that it has the largest archive of old posts that you can consult if you really, really need to get your crazy on [or off]. so you get to read all this stuff and i get to publish two research-based posts a week while still being able to have a life away from the computer. everybody wins.

please remember that we're also accepting submissions from anyone who wants to share their mental health stories, so if you'd like to contribute, please see this post and get in touch!

i'd also like to take a moment to thank you- yes you in particular!- for stopping by this space. in just over a month, more like space will have been around for a decade. it's changed a lot during that time, as have i, mostly for the better [both of us]. i take some time every day to marvel at how many people from how many different places visit more like space every day. the idea that i'm doing something that connects with readers in germany, russia, malaysia, chile, india, australia, italy, england, the united states, canada and iraq [all of those in the last few days!] is deeply thrilling to me. i've said such things before and i truly mean it: i wish i could meet each of you and have tea or coffee or an alcoholic beverage and chat.

so if you are heading out on vacation, i hope that you have a lovely time. if you aren't, i hope you're having a lovely time anyway. i'll be here, manning the cyber fort over the summer months, just with a slightly less proscriptive schedule.

p.s. :: if there's anything you particularly enjoy seeing, or anything you haven't seen but would like to, please feel free to let us know. 

26 June 2015

making faces :: another fuchsia followed me home

a couple of months back, i reviewed three of the four lipsticks released with the armani "fuchsia maharajah" collection and mentioned that i hadn't seen the fourth at either of my local counters. but my habit of haunting counters until i get what i want served me well and, eventually, one of them did get a few units. another fuchsia-pink rouge ecstasy? you'd better believe that's coming home with me.

the fourth and final lipstick in this collection is called either "pink blush" or "pink bliss". all of the promotional material i saw used the former name, but the packaging of the lipstick uses the latter. it's probably easier to go with calling it "511", which isn't quite as exciting, but is at least consistent from one place to another. as mentioned, it's one of the rouge ecstasy formula lipsticks, which are supposed to be long-wearing and offer skin care benefits to the lips. the colour coverage is said to be full, which it is, although it's never 100% opaque. the fullest coverage in the armani line belongs to the original rouge d'armani lipsticks. [as a side note, i can't help but notice that the colour offering of the rouge d'armani line has been dwindling both at counters and on line. i suspect that something is afoot and i hope that the rda line is being revamped and not just discontinued. there is still absolutely a place for a very full-coverage formula within the brand offering.] as far as the skin care benefits, i don't have a monogamous relationship with any lipstick formula, but this is the only lipstick that i can wear in the depths of winter. so how much of an improvement you get might be a little difficult to discern, but there is something to the claim that they are kind to your kisser.

"pink blush" is a brighter shade than that name would lead you to believe. it's a bold, clear pink that leans cool, right on the border between pink and fuchsia. compared to rouge ecstasy 512, "maharajah", it is a bit muted, a little lighter and definitely less red. it's a little more daytime friendly, although it's still the sort of shade that is going to make a statement.

511 pink blush, or pink bliss... your choice

i found that the formula on this one was just a little below what i've come to expect from the rouge ecstasy line. it was a little difficult to get the colour even [although not to the degree i experienced with "urban nude"] and the wear time was noticeably shorter. neither problem is huge, but it's perplexing. i can't figure out why this one should be even a little less incredible than the others.

for comparisons, the closest shade i have to "pink blush" is a limited mac shade from 2010 called "pink burst". although it's somewhat difficult to see in the photos, "pink burst" is a frost shade, with a lot of silver and white shimmer that makes it look both lighter and cooler, whereas "pink blush" has no shimmer. that means that, while the base colours are indeed similar, they look quite different in use. mac "catharina" is deeper, more saturated and redder.

l to r :: mac pink burst [l.e.], 511, mac catharina

and also for comparison's sake, here's a look at all the shades of lipstick from the "fuchsia maharajah" collection.

l to r :: 511 pink blush, 512 maharajah, 604 garconne fatale, rouge d'armani 513 maharajah

finally, of course, it wouldn't be a "me" post if i didn't share a look that incorporated the product i'm reviewing. so here's a look at "pink blush" along with some of her friends.

products used

the base ::
nars luminous weightless foundation "mont blanc"
nars radiant creamy concealer "vanilla"
mac paint pot "painterly"

the eyes ::
armani eyes to kill e/s "gold hercule" [muted gold with a grey-green cast]*
le metier de beauté e/s "jade" [rich emerald green]
mac e/s "dazzlelight" [shimmery neutral highlight]
illamasqua precision gel e/l [matte black]
dior new look mascara

the cheeks ::
hourglass ambient blush "incandescent electra" [cool peach]

the lips ::

armani rouge ecstasy l/s "pink blush 511" [bright cool pink]

*suggested alternate :: gold hercule = armani eye tint #6 "green iron" [darker] or mac gorgeous gold [brighter, yellower]

all of the fuchsia maharajah collection is limited, but a lot of counters and online retailers still have stock [even if they don't have testers out, it's worth asking]. even though it's not quite the best example of the rouge ecstasy formula, "pink blush" is still a solid choice if you're looking for a cheery summer shade that's bright but not loud.

25 June 2015

world wide wednesdays :: now you know

relax, have a snack, learn some stuff
a somewhat lighter world wide wednesdays this week, but that doesn't mean it has to be light on facts. so this week's post is all about facts that will probably do you no good whatsoever and which will crowd out information like where you put your keys. but you'll be in possession of some truly brilliant nuggets of truth about the world we live in that you can use to fill in awkward gaps in conversation, distract from something inappropriate you just said, or just to make you look like the smart, clever person you probably are anyway.

water, water everywhere. or not. :: 9% of canadian territory is comprised of fresh water. that doesn't sound like a lot until you grab yourself a map and realise [if you hadn't already] that canada is freakin' huge and that a lot of entire countries are less than a tenth our size. another way to look at this fact is that we have three million lakes that make up about 60% of the world's fresh water [another 20% is located in lake baikal in russia]. if the theory that potable water will be the source of the next great war turns out to be true, then that fight is going to be all about canada. that might mean that we have all the power, but it's more likely to mean that we're the ones who are going to get pummeled by everyone else, since that's generally what happens to the one who has something everyone wants. if you want to go somewhere that's less likely to be the subject of a war over water, you should head to saudi arabia, which has no rivers or above-ground flowing water at all. clearly nothing to fight about there.

.tv nation :: the tiny pacific nation of tuvalu quickly realised that they'd won the internet lottery when the international organisation for standardisation awarded them ".tv" as their national domain identifier. they made a deal for $50 million dollars with a california company to allow the television industry to use their domain for themselves, with the understanding that much more would follow. unfortunately, things haven't quite worked out, and tuvalu now find themselves in a budget crisis, with a lot less of that internet money than they'd counted on. and if that wasn't bad enough, they're also in danger of being swallowed by the ocean.

le big one :: despite their massive eurasian sprawl, russia is not the country that covers the greatest number of time zones. that honour falls to france, whose territories cover twelve time zones to russia's nine. i'm sure vladimir would say that that's cheating, because france has all these overseas holdings that aren't part of the country in any meaningful way, and he wouldn't be entirely wrong, but technically, france is bigger than russia. [and if you really want to be mean, you could point out that, when you include overseas territories, the united states comes second, being spread over eleven time zones, while russia is left to claim the bronze.] in related and surprising news, china decided to deal with the difficulties of managing a country with multiple time zones by living in denial. the entire nation has one time zone, no matter where you are. which is super-simple, except that the time zone is known by different names [beijing standard time, hong kong time, china standard time, etc.].

vive le france everywhere

if you think your life is sad, consider the world's most isolated tree :: the tree of ténéré lived hundreds of miles from any other foliage in niger's sahara desert. it became an icon, as well as the only reference point in the region, living for three lonely centuries among the dunes. then one night in 1973 a drunk driver slammed into it- which is quite a feat when you consider it was the only thing to run into for hundreds of miles in any direction- and killed it.

if you stare at a target, you will subconsciously drive towards it

eat it, four corners :: the pacfic island nation of kirabati is the only country to exist in all four hemispheres, sitting right at the point where the equator intersects the international date line.

nothing to see here, look away... :: the official flag of the isle of man is an image of a triskelion made up of three human legs joined at the thigh. although the flag only dates from the early 1930s, the manx triskelion has a history of several hundred years and was apparently stamped on coins of the area. no one is sure how exactly the island managed to come up with a symbol made up of three severed human legs stitched together, although there are theories that link it to earlier triskelions in sicily. also, no one seems to want to talk about the frankenstein-esque emblem, aside from mentioning that triskelions crop up all over the place in history [although they're not generally made from human limbs]. the motto of the isle of man translates roughly from latin is "whichever way you throw it, it will stand." someone has a pretty dark sense of humour.

in no way creepy at all

and a manly sport it is :: ireland's first olympic medal was won by jack butler yeats at the 1924 summer olympics in paris. [that's the olympics in chariots of fire.] jack is not as well remembered today as his glory-hogging poet brother william, but at the time, he was the glory of the new republic when he brought home the silver medal in... painting. yup, that happened. it was part of a larger arts and culture competition at the games, which included medals for architecture, sculpture, literature and music, although no one actually won anything for that last category. for some reason, the international olympic committee seems to want to deny this competition ever existed and, sadly, jack butler yeats never found his way onto the front of a box of wheaties.  

eat it, isle of man :: most armies capture trophies when they invade another country, but some armies are apparently a little scarier than others. in 1983, a vault was discovered [by someone who has probably never left the house since] with relics of a sixteenth century japanese invasion of korea: 20,000 pickled noses. figuring they'd held onto them for long enough, the japanese thoughtfully returned the noses to korea, japan has retained possession of approximately 75,000 pickled korean ears. the normal practice at the time was to take heads as trophies, however heads are heavy, which may explain why the samurai resorted to just ears and noses. they were given a token amount of money for every victim they killed, which makes these vaults of pickled horror a little like the bottles you give your kids so that they can go and collect the deposit.

in this place, the walls really do have ears
grudge match :: for most countries, world war ii ended in 1945. however for some, it went on just a little longer. as in, is still going on. russia and japan have never come to an agreement about ownership of the kuril islands, an archipelago between japan's northernmost island of honshu and russia's kamchatka peninsula. that means that, technically, they are still at war with each other. i wonder if russia knows about the noses?

it's a positive negative :: the tiny principality of liechtenstein may be the only country ever to experience negative casualties during war time. they sent 80 soldiers into the austro-prussian conflict of 1866 and when they returned, there were 81 of them. figuring they should quit while they were ahead, the military was disbanded in 1868.  

can't visit, clown'll eat me :: the city of bern in switzerland has a statue of a large man/ monster eating children. well, he's just eating one child, really, but there are other children around, so you know that he's just being diet-conscious by only having one at a time. no one really knows why there's a statue of a man/ monster eating children, although there are many theories. personally, this just makes me sad that i never made it to bern when i visited switzerland, but it certainly gives me incentive to go back. bucket list that one for sure. [and yes, that is an image of said statue at the top of this post.]

23 June 2015

writing recipes and fictional ingredients

one of the ways that i like to tell myself i'm being creative, even when i don't have a lot of time, is that i'll just scribble down fleeting scenes that occur to me, to see where they go. sometimes, they just sit there like lumps of literary lard, waiting to be incorporated into something a little more sophisticated and tasty.

sometimes, of course, i end up with something that simply refuses to be incorporated. it just sits there sullenly, reminding me of its existence but not much else. occasionally, there are things that seem like they could turn into full meals on their own, but i can't figure out how long to cook them. for an example of what that means, see this post.

other things are a little more complicated. the piece below was something that i wrote ages ago. i wasn't really thinking it was something i could incorporate into a larger piece. i wasn't really thinking about it being anything except a little brain exercise based on a scene that randomly snapped into my head. i like it for what it is, but i always wondered if i could turn it into something more. on the other hand, i was afraid that manipulating it and baking it into something more complex would destroy what i liked about it.

in the end, i've compromised, because you can do that with writing in a way that you can't, say, with a bag of fresh peaches. you cannot make them into a cobbler and enjoy them fresh. although i suppose that if you had a bag of them, you could use some for one purpose and some for another. this metaphor is decidedly half-baked.

what i mean is that, i have preserved this little snippet in a folder with other little snippets that i like, but that don't really fit into anything else. but i also used it as the inspiration for the opening of this project, which has been on hiatus while i deal with the rest of my life. it's one of the many things for which i need to make time, because it's definitely the thing i've worked on that i've liked the most. [and yes, since i've had people ask me, i do have a very definite ending in mind and have since the beginning of the writing process. this isn't the usual story of me giving up because i've run out of gas before the end product is fully cooked. this metaphor gets worse every time i go back to it. and yet i keep returning...]

so here is the original, raw piece of flash fiction, that was then prepared and incorporated into a much larger and fancier dish. tuck in.


Hi, it’s me. You may not remember who me is. You might not know me to see me anymore. We had drinks a couple of times. Chatted a bit. I used to visit you when you worked at the record store. We talked about music because that was the first thing we noticed that we had in common. What exactly was it that we had in common, really? Wait, that wasn’t what I meant to ask you. This isn’t how I wanted this message to go.

I wanted to let you know I was still around. I wanted to let you know that I remembered you, that I thought of you occasionally. I don’t know if this is even still your number, because it was a woman’s voice on the phone. Maybe it’s your girlfriend. You always had a girlfriend. I always had a boyfriend. We never talked about them. They never seemed to be one of the things we had in common. Maybe if we had been doing something wrong, we would have considered them more. Perhaps we would have stooped to petty criticisms in order to justify our weakness. We were never talking about anything that involved them. Perhaps it was just that, with everything else we seemed to talk about, we never got around to the subject of other people. There were so many subjects we seemed to graze over, I can’t even remember, except that ours were conversations I enjoyed.

I thought you were attractive.

There, I’ve said it.

Was that reciprocated? Did you notice? Was I pathetic? Was I some sort of fantasy? It bothers me a little that I never knew. I probably remember you more fondly because I never knew.

Thanks for coming to see me when I was working at the bar. Now, if you didn’t know before, you’ll know who I am. You showed up with your friend and we talked while everyone else danced, trying to get others to notice them. Trying to get others to see how deserving of attention they were. I think we talked about philosophy. Your friend was smart. You were smart. You held on too long when we hugged goodbye.

What were you thinking? I wanted to ask. I’m probably happier because I didn’t ask.

I’m just calling to tell you that I’m still alive, that I’m still around, that I happened to be in town, that I was hoping we could get together some time. No, we shouldn’t get together. But isn’t it nice to know we could? Isn’t it nice to know that we could run into each other in the street and smile in recognition and wonder and curiosity? Did you wonder what I was thinking? I believe you did.

I moved on. I moved away. I moved to nothing, to a sort of emptiness, a loneliness I would never have believed existed if it didn’t surround me all the time, even when I was in a crowd. Even when I am with the people who I say are close to me. It gets to you after a while, this isolation, this refusal of the fog that blocks your vision to burn and rise and let in the light. I’ll sit at  dinner with friends and I won’t hear a word they’re saying and it doesn’t matter, because I won’t be able to distinguish that conversation from a dozen other conversations that sound exactly the same. Conversations that have to do with other people’s jobs, with their car payments, with their lawns. Conversations that happen around me while I nod and wonder what happened to the things I felt connected to, the people. Like you.

I remember every time you and I talked. I remember what it felt like in my chest when our eyes met. And it wasn’t like I was in love with you, that’s the weird thing. I just remember how it felt. Isn’t that strange? Or would you know? Are you still with the same girlfriend? Is she still so ethereally beautiful? The two of you were this exquisite artwork of a couple. I always knew I wouldn’t be pretty enough for you, even if we had been thinking of each other that way.

I’m at a phone booth now and I’m near the water. I can hear, but not see, seagulls moving and crying from within the soupy fog. The sky is all slate blue and grey, even though it’s late, because it’s illuminated by the yellow aureoles of light around the street lamps. There’s no one around me. For all I can see or hear, I’m out here alone.

Are you alone?

Are you shocked to find yourself awake in the middle of the night, a smear of sweat on your forehead and your lip, heart thrashing as if you’d been running, running from a monster that’s been set on you, out for your head? Are you confused by the familiarity of the body next to you that seems so alien, so disconnected? Do you always know if you are awake or dreaming, or are there moments when you’re by yourself when you hover, unsure, bracing to see if you wake with a start, in a panic?

This isn’t what I planned to say. This is more than I planned to say. This isn’t how I meant for this to come out, even the parts I did mean to come out. It’s all screwed up and now I can’t take it back because somewhere, out there, is a recording device that’s spooling my voice while I flail like a shark victim.

What I meant to say was that I remember you. And that occasionally, when I hear the right song, or when the mood hits me, I think about you.

What I meant to say was that I think we had some good, brief times and I’m happy to have the memories that I do of you, that they’re perfect the way they are.

What I meant to say was that some day, I hope we see each other again and that we’re both happy and that we both know each other. I want you to know that I’ll always be happy to see you again.

What I meant to say was that I’m here. I’m still here.


22 June 2015

mental health mondays :: i want to make this about the pickles

it seemed likely that this week's mental health mondays would be about racism, charleston, and the rush to declare mass shooter dylann storm roof mentally ill. but it would be tremendously depressing to do that, because 1. i just wrote about him yesterday; and 2. even i'm getting sick of seeing the post where i write about how the mentally ill are maligned and labeled as violent freaks whenever there is a mass shooting in the united states, usually because it's easier than talking about the more important factors involved. if you're new here and aren't yet sick of reading about this topic, here's a bit of it:

on assuming that mental illness is an explanation in itself for violent crimes
on being fed up at the media's obsession with mental illness as a negative trait
on ignoring other key factors behind violent crime
on the abuse of the term "crazy"
on blurring the boundaries between mental illness and psychopathy

even thinking about writing another piece about another killing where i'm basically screeching at the media and people in general to stop using mental illness as an excuse for every mass murderer, knowing i'll be back writing the same thing in a few months' time, even though i'm not the only one saying this sort of thing is becoming tortuous. because whenever there's a mass murder, it's always about the crazy.

and that's why i've decided to make today about the pickles.

specifically, there's this interesting article about how students who ate fermented foods like pickles [also yogurt, sauerkraut, or that new trendy thing, kombucha] were less anxious than those who didn't and the ones who were the most anxious previously were the ones who seemed to see the most benefit. as you'll see in the article, this is thought to be because fermented foods work on the gut bacteria and allow specific neurotransmitters to flow in the same way as drugs like benzodiazepines do, but they aren't addictive [as far as we know] and they don't tax your liver. in fact, they're doing all sorts of other good while they're in there.

i've already posted about the possible links between guy bacteria and mental health, which turns traditional wisdom about mental illness on its head. or off its head. as we work our way towards the root of brain malfunction, it becomes necessary to look outside the brain.

imbalances in gut bacteria may be the most important health issue of our time, because [i'm tempted to say "trigger warning"], we are more bacteria than human, by a ratio of ten cells to one. everything that we are depends on the bacterial load we carry with us every day, so it makes sense that some of it affects our brains.

[but does that mean that there could be some rogue bacteria that makes us do really horrible things for really stupid reasons? and if there were such a thing, what would happen if we killed it? would we just stop being terrible and ignorant or would our fingers fall off as we aged? because bacteria have a tendency to do good things as well as bad. h. pylori, the little bastard that causes gastritis, ulcers and certain forms of cancer may also protect against gastro-esophegal reflux disease and keep children from developing asthma. and we can't even be super-sure that eradicating it would solve the ulcer problem, because twenty years ago, we thought everything was down to acid and stress and we encouraged people to pour milk, which is loaded with lactic acid, on the problem. some scientists think we should go for the nuclear option against the bacteria. but maybe the larger problem is that the current western diet leans heavily towards foods that acidify the gut, which is just an invitation to all sorts of horrible things. maybe, rather than just trying to blame a bacteria whose effects have only been studied within the lifetime of most people reading this post, maybe we should look at the basics of our lives and think how we've gotten away from balance and rationality. the fact is that a western diet is tilted heavily towards the acidic side, creating an environment that's not so friendly to some bacteria, friendlier to others, or that just lets the proportions get totally out of control. that's why fermented foods which pull the balance back towards alkaline, seem so miraculous. but push the meter too far in the other direction and it's basically the same problem.]

i like to do mental health mondays posts about things like the pickle study because they make me feel hopeful. like we don't have to wait for scientists to come up with the next great drug, because there are ways to nudge our brains in the right direction that are easily accessible to a lot of people. chances are that coming up with a dietary plan that would stave off the development of major mental disorders isn't possible- it would need to be tweaked to suit literally every person on earth- but i like to think that there are ways to manage the symptoms while we try to figure out exactly what it is that makes so many of us so sick.

and i also like the idea of the simple solution. like if i just eat enough pickles and sauerkraut and miso and yogurt [i really can't handle the kombucha, i'm sorry], my brain will be healed and i won't need to worry about taking medications that may eventually start to break down my body, or that don't always work. and i won't have to worry about becoming paralysed when i'm in public for no reason, or getting scared because i'm convinced that what's happening around me isn't real, and i won't be surprised and embarrassed when weird combinations of words just come tumbling out of my mouth in public, or that people will think i'm a snotty bitch because sometimes other people just make me paranoid and hostile, so i either glare at them or pick fights.

i realise, though, that it isn't so simple. because what's making me - and possibly you- sick may have its root in a chemical, or an enzyme, or in billions of bacteria, but chances are that that is only a small part of a much larger problem. whatever imbalance may have triggered a mental illness, the greater part of that illness becomes the learned behaviours we've all developed to cope with it, like teaching ourselves to walk on a broken leg. those are things that have to be broken down and understood, things that we need to unlearn in order to get to that mythical land, "wellness". it isn't going to fix anything to focus on the microscopic if we're ignoring the larger problem.

i really want this to be about the pickles, but it isn't. i want to think that everyone who struggles with mental illness can make a few dietary corrections and be better. but it doesn't work that way. the vast majority of us have lived our whole lives in a state of fundamental imbalance, piling complications on the problem until the problem is made up more of the complications [like us and the bacteria]. so sure, we could eradicate a bad strain of bacteria and just hope that we don't need it for other things. or we could make the changes that we need to in order to restore balance to our base. but it's a lot more work after that. the pickles are just the beginning.

21 June 2015

paranoid theory of the week :: is prescription drug abuse to blame for this week's charleston massacre?

it was inevitable that theories of various sorts would start circulating about dylann roof, the man accused* of killing nine black parishioners as they attended a prayer meeting this week. it's a grotesque, tragic story that reflects the ugly realities of racism in america. a website registered to roof, "the last rhodesian" [link is no longer active, but his already infamous manifesto was reprinted by gawker here], contained a lengthy manifesto about race in america and around the world, familiar to those of us who have read about hate groups before.

despite what some have claimed, this crime is intimately linked with the issues of race, in particular the tension between black and white. and it may be enough to leave it at that: a young man filled with irrational hate acted upon that hate in the worst possible way and now nine innocent people are dead. but for those of us who would like to maintain some hope for the future of the world, there is a desire to dig a little deeper and to examine how dylann roof became the way he was: the manifesto widely attributed to him claims that his family were not racists, but is that true? what was his connection to the council of conservative citizens, the group he mentions as having pushed his beliefs to an extreme form of racism? [the southern poverty law centre lists the council of concerned citizens as one of nineteen hate groups currently active in south carolina.] how many people knew about his plans and did any of them try to alert authorities of the danger he might pose? we ask those questions because we understand that arresting and incarcerating dylann roof doesn't make a whole lot of difference if the system that made him a terrorist remains in place. it's the same reason we should be asking why westerners are identifying with islamic state, even rushing off to fight with them. clearly, there's something wrong with them, but there's also something wrong with us that we keep producing people with this kind of murderous rage.

victims of the charleston massacre
one question that has been raised stems from a previous arrest at a mall in columbia. roof was caught holding strips of suboxone, a painkiller sometimes used as an alternative to methadone in the treatment of heroin addiction. could this drug have played a role in twisting his mind and making him cross the line into violence?

the theory ::

dylann roof's violence was triggered by illegal use of suboxone, in keeping with previously reported side effects of the drug.

the origin ::

hard to pinpoint exactly, but the earliest article on the subject seems to be this piece, by robert harrington.

the believers ::

not a lot of well-known people, but many on social media are giving some credence to the idea that the drug could have contributed to dylann roof's state of mind.

the bad guys ::

big pharma, who have hidden the fact that violent outbursts have previously been linked to suboxone.

the evidence ::

well, to start with, there's the fact that roof was arrested with non-prescription suboxone, which would tend to make one believe that he could have been taking it. a high school classmate claims that roof used drugs, particularly prescription drugs, regularly and heavily. tough to verify, but damning if true. there is no evidence to suggest that roof was on drugs at the time of the massacre, nor anyone who has said that he continued to do drugs in the years since he left high school.

dylann roof
but more important than the question of whether he was taking the drug is the question of whether the drug itself could cause a violent outburst that leaves nine people dead.

well, let's first deal with one part of that allegation: was dylann roof suffering from a violent outburst? no, he wasn't. the fact that he brought his semi-automatic gun with him to the church and that he stayed an hour among the congregation before killing them shows that this was not a "rage killing". he did not suddenly fly off the handle, but carefully planned the massacre, prepared for it, and gave himself the time to think about what it was he was doing in the presence of his imminent victims.

so, what we're really asking about suboxone is if it can be linked to instances of long-term psychological damage, resulting in a shift towards violent behaviour.

harrington claims there are reports of suboxone causing aggressive outbursts, but doesn't actually provide links to any specific cases. instead, the article shows a pie chart of the sorts of violence linked to psychiatric drugs, but that is for the category as a whole and says nothing about whether or not suboxone is even included in the drugs used to come up with the chart. there is also a link to another article on the site, which eventually links back to this study on reports of violence linked to prescription drugs. there are a number of drugs that the study shows have a link to increased violence, however neither suboxone, nor either of its components, are on the list. so if anything, the linked data undermines the theory that suboxone increases violence or hostility.

the prescribing information sheet given to doctors and pharmacists does list depression, nervousness and agitation as possible side effects, occurring in 5% or more of the test group for the drug. another study cited by drugs.com lists hostility as an "uncommon" side effect, meaning that it presented in between 0.1% and 1% of subjects. while others may have cited anecdotal evidence from around the internet, we're going to stick with what's been proven: suboxone has been shown to increase hostility in up to 1% of patients.

of course, studies don't take into account what happens when you take more than the prescribed dosage of a drug, which recreational users often do. in the case of suboxone, however, that might not matter. one of the things that makes suboxone an interesting alternative to methadone is that it has a "ceiling" effect. rather than producing the opioid euphoria that addicts get from drugs like heroin, suboxone gives a lift and then stops. one of its components actually blocks the brain from getting access to more euphoria-inducing opioid goodness and blocks the channels through which it flows. so a person could shoot heroin after taking suboxone and, assuming they didn't experience respiratory failure, they wouldn't get any higher. [there's a more detailed discussion of how the drug works here.]

ultimately, though, hostility does not mean violence. there is no scientifically tested record of people committing acts of rage after taking suboxone, let alone one that was so carefully planned and executed. [nor is hostility the same thing as paranoia, which is an important distinction in this case.] whatever stories might float around the drug, it is important to remember that even though the people who report them might believe that the drug caused them to become violent, it doesn't mean that they're qualified to give a medical diagnosis and until the results can be reproduced in a controlled experiment, it's always best to take a skeptical view.

the likelihood :: 0.001/10

i was prepared to give this one a "0", but i figured since there was just the slightest possibility it isn't complete bullshit, i'd acknowledge that with a nominal score. but let's look at how qualified we need to make this:

if dylann roof was on suboxone in the months leading up to the massacre [because we only know he was in possession of it in february of this year] and if he was one of the 1% or less of people who become hostile and angry as a result of taking it and if that hostility manifested as a growing and lasting rage rather than as sudden outbursts, then it is possible that suboxone was a contributing factor to his state of mind.

"contributing" rather than "key" or "important" because it's pretty clear from what appear to be his own words that his hostility and anger was directed almost entirely towards one group: blacks. [you could make an argument that jews, who he accuses of agitating blacks and who he describes as "an enigma", would come second.] there is a very slim possibility that the drug might have made him more aggressive, but it did not make him a racist. it did not make him develop theories of racial superiority/ inferiority. it did not make him believe the misleading and false stories from hate sites like the council of conservative citizens. it didn't make him take up the cause of apartheid south africa or white rhodesia. everything that he has said and the deliberate nature with which he carried out his crime speaks of racism and abiding hatred.

it bears mentioning as well, that the idea that there is a conspiracy within the pharmaceutical industry to deny the violent side effects of suboxone is clearly false. after all, the only meaningful information on those side effects comes from the pharmaceutical industry. i feel weird defending them, because i know full well that they've been implicated in some pretty awful things, but i do think that it's important that we weed out what big pahrma does right versus what it does very wrong and acknowledge that one of the difficulties in dealing with such corporations is that they do both.

ultimately, the suboxone conspiracy is one more "false flag" [to use a term popular among conspiracy theorists] that distracts from the issues that are clearly behind the massacre in charleston. it might provide some sense of comfort- conspiracies usually do- in reassuring the rest of us that a regular person couldn't do such a thing, that our culture couldn't produce a specimen capable of perpetrating something so awful. but it's a false comfort. and it's the worst kind of conspiracy theory: one that allows us to shift blame away from a long-standing pattern of well-documented bad actions. we choose to believe the outlandish conspiracy rather than the wall of evidence assembled around us.

*i use "accused" since roof remains legally that until he is convicted. there is currently no other suspect in the crime, and several news outlets have reported that he has confessed.

note:: an earlier version of this post identified the council for conservative citizens as the council for concerned citizens. we apologize for the error

18 June 2015

making faces :: un-bronzing with guerlain

she's tanning enough for both of us
for the last time, cosmetics industry, i am just fine with the colour of my skin.

that's not a joke about rachel dolezal, either. it's a commentary on the cosmetic industry obsession that i should be worried about making my skin look bronzed and golden for the summer. it's not a look that has ever appealed to me, because when i put on bronzer, i look like i have dirt on my face. there's a range of shades from rusty prince edward island soil-type dirt to working in the garden brown dirt to ochre-gold smeared some fancy mustard on my face kind of dirt, but as a rule, having a dirty face isn't a look i go for. [and that's not to say it doesn't look good on other people. although i think there is a tendency to go too far with the bronzing trend, a lot of people look wonderful with a warm, sunny glow. just not me.]

i have purchased a few bronzing products in my time, but they tend to be ones that have some pink in them, like the guerlain terra indigo powder from a few years back. since i'd had a good experience with them, i let myself be tempted into purchasing one of their new joile teint powders, which is sort of like a bronzer for people who don't like to bronze.

its magic lies in the fact that the majority of the product is more a warm beige than brown, orange or gold, and along one side there's a tiny sliver of coral-pink. there are four shades, two labeled blonde and two labeled brunette, which is just a way of distinguishing lighter from darker. never use your hair colour to determine what product you should buy. it's all about what looks good on your skin.  

ladies and gentlemen- les jolies teints!

i got the lightest shade, called "blonde clair 00". i've read reviews where people have said that the colour payoff on these powders is on the light side. i'm not convinced that it's the colour payoff that's lacking, although, like a lot of guerlain cheek products, they swatch terribly. applied with a brush, i found that i had no trouble getting plenty of colour. it's just that all four of these powders are very light compared to how you'd normally think of a bronzing product. but guerlain doesn't market these as bronzers, but as "healthy glow" powders. one could, in theory, use the product all over the face [although you'd want to avoid the coral-pink part if you're doing so], but it's much to dark for me to do that. this works best for me as a soft, warm, natural blush. it can run more pink if i swish the brush around in the coloured sliver, or warmer if i don't. the point is that it never develops that dirty look, but, as promised, just a happy, healthy glow. it's way better than i look when i have an actual tan, which is really just another shade of dirt-face.

i've swatched both colours separately here, although the sliver of coral is so thin that you could never use it alone. i couldn't even isolate it entirely using my finger, so unless you like to apply cheek products with an eyeliner brush, you won't see the coral on its own. but that's not the point. the coral is there to give a slight pink flush to the overall colour, which makes it more skin-like. you can use a little more or a little less depending on how much you concentrate your brush-swooshing in one area, or you can easily skip that part altogether and just use the beige side. even that isn't like a full-on bronzing effect. just a soft, "i am this perfect naturally" glow.

 l to r :: blond clair 00 beige, coral, blended

here's a comparison with hourglass "dim light" and "radiant light", to give you an idea of the difference. i really don't have a product that comes close to matching this. it's a similar idea to the estée lauder sea star powder [which is a bronzing/ blush product i like], but blonde clair is a lot lighter and not as warm.

l to r :: hourglass dim light, blond clair 00, hourglass radiant light

along with its colour-and-warmth-adding properties, the powder also helps minimise the appearance of pores and unevenness in the skin, which is always welcome on my face. and the powder is very finely milled, so that it doesn't look, well, powdery. it's got a very smooth, satiny finish. i'd heard reports that some shades are shimmery, but "blonde clair" is nearly matte.  there's a very subtle luminosity to it, but nothing more. i personally like that, because my skin does not need help glowing in warm weather. the wear time seems good, but i must admit that i often have difficulty determining at what point cheek products have really faded on me, even ones that aren't as subtle as this. wearing it through the day, i thought it faded just enough that i wanted to touch up before going out in the evening, but it wasn't 100% necessary.

i think that this would make a nice "no makeup" pairing with guerlain's baby glow, another new product that came out with their spring collection. it's a luminous base product, something intended for dryer skin, but i think it could also function as a light tinted moisturizer, if you're not looking for too much coverage. although, as i mentioned, i don't need help in the glow department, i tried a sample and i did like the effect on my skin, even used alone. there is definitely a pearly finish, but it's not so shimmery that you look like a twilight character. here's a look at it. i'm wearing under eye concealer, but on the rest of my face, it's just the baby glow i've used as foundation. [to get an idea of the colour, you can see a swatch here.]

unfortunately, even the lighter of the two shades available is a bit too dark and pink on me. it's not really visible in the photos above, but the pink-ness makes me look a little feverish. for the moment, i've decided not to go for a full size version.

although it's a bit subtle, i think this look gives you an idea of what the jolie teint powder looks like and why i'm suddenly so fond of it. 

products used

the base ::
nars all-day luminous, weightless foundation "mont blanc"
nars radiant creamy concealer "vanilla"
mac paint pot "painterly"

the eyes ::
ysl effet faux cils e/l "sea black" [shimmery blackened navy]
mac e/s "freshwater" [shimmery bright sapphire blue]
mac e/s "surreal" [light turquoise with gold shimmer]
mac e/s "notorious" [light cool gold]*
mac e/s "prized" [creamy highlight]*
mac e/s "rondelle" [light sparkling silver]*

the cheeks ::
guerlain jolie teint "blonde clair 00"

the lips ::
mac l/g "cha cha" [sheer, warm orange-pink]*

*suggested alternates :: notorious = mac gorgeous gold [brighter, greener]; prized = mac vanilla [pinker]; rondelle = mac electra; cha cha = chanel pampille

the jolie teint powders are, as i understand it, becoming part of the guerlain permanent collection, which is exactly what should happen with super-practical, everyday, easily-incorporated products like these. i'll finish the one that i have and be back for more.

15 June 2015

mental health mondays :: i'm sick and my cats will never be schizophrenic

i've somehow managed to come down with a horrific cold/ flu/ cough/ end times plague, which means that my brain isn't functioning well enough to think about brain function. i thought of running a repeat mhm today, but then i found this fabulous article: 


[in case you were wondering how sick i am, i'm too sick to sit in front of the computer where i could have put that in a nice embedded link like a human being in this century.] 

basically, i got to wondering about animals and mental illness. it's been established that many animals feel undue anxiety. animals in captivity exhibit all sorts of anxiety spectrum disorders. and they can become depressed as well. they can develop addictions [we study them to learn about our own addictions]. but i didn't ever recall seeing a study  about animals and schizophrenia. 

so i did what any first-worlder would do and googled "do animals get schizophrenia?"

it turns out that, no, they don't. and the fact that they don't might tell us something about how schizophrenia works. we know that it's a heritable condition, which means that its secrets are buried in our genes. in fact, it seems linked to all the other genes that make us the very special kind of animals we are. the things that make us human- speech, for instance- seem closely linked to the things that make us schizophrenic. 

so if you've ever wished that your furry [or scaly] companion could speak to you, you've really been wishing that they could develop paranoid schizophrenia, you monster. 

p.s. :: he sat on me for hours like that, despite the fact that my coughing must have felt like an earthquake. that's the sweetest kind of crazy ever. 

paranoid theory of the week :: is the bilderberg group plotting world domination this weekend?

the bilderberg group is actually the eye of sauron
you may not know it, but a lot of people think that your future, your freedom and your whole world were up for discussion and probably for sale this weekend at the annual powwow of the world's richest and most sinister. because this weekend was the meeting of the bilderberg group in tyrol austria.

founded by a polish catholic political advisor in the wake of world war ii, the original intent of the group was to foster closer ties between europe and the united states in the arenas of politics and business. jozef retinger approached his good friend prince bernhard of the netherlands about getting some of their most important friends together for a little chit-chat on how they, as the leaders of civilization, could make the world a better, more cooperative, less complicated place. the group met for the first time at the bilderberg hotel in the netherlands in 1954 and since then, they have eclipsed the masons as the most suspected group of white people in the entire world.

critics from the left and right wing descend with ferocity on the group, citing its powerful membership, near-total secrecy and the fact that their agendas- which are made public- read like a to-do list of people aspiring to world domination. here's what's on the agenda this weekend.

but are the bilderbergers really evil incarnate, or are their meetings just an excuse for wealthy, powerful people to bill one more luxury retreat at a five-star resort to their employees' pension plans?

given the amount of information floating around on the group, there's no way to tell for certain, but today we'll be scratching the surface...

the theory ::

the bilderberg group is conspiring to impose a single world government, reducing the vast majority of humans to slavery.

the origin ::

as you might imagine, a highly secretive group made up of world leaders in government, industry and media has made people a little uncomfortable since its inception. among its earliest critics to put her concerns in print was arch-conservative activist phyllis schlafly, who claimed in 1964 that the republican party- of which she was a member- was being controlled by a globalist cartel including the bilderbergers with the aim of bringing about world communism. and it's pretty much been game on since then.

the believers ::

there's a continuum of suspicion that ranges from those who wonder what the group really wants to those who think they're behind everything à la stone-cutters.

public figures who've voiced at least some suspicion about the bilderberg's activities include: former minnesota governor and wrestler jesse ventura, activist and possible leader of a political cult in his own right lyndon larouche, internet journalist and conpiracy theorist extraordinaire alex jones [i feel a little silly even including his name without adding a perfunctory "duh"] and retired cuban leader fidel castro.

there are a few journalists who have made exposing the bilderberg group their life's work, most notably lithuanian- canadian david estulin and american james "big jim" tucker.

the bad guys ::

the bilderberg group, meaning those who attend the conference and their most trusted associates.

or who you're not allowed to know about at all
the evidence ::

there are so many theories about the bilderberg group related to specific incidents that i couldn't possibly cover them. for that matter, i can't adequately cover arguments related to the theory at hand: that the bilderberg's activities are tied to a larger move towards a "one world government" and police state. so this is a very sketchy outline of some of the evidence that's most often cited with regards to the general aims of the organisation.

the problem with accusing a secret group of anything is that there are a lot of secrets. details of the agenda [see link above] are made public, as is a list of attendees, conveniently annotated with their positions, so you can see exactly how big these people are. what's never published is an account of proceedings or a more detailed agenda that might clarify the direction of discussion.

the purpose of this strict privacy, according to the bilderberg group itself, is to allow people to express frank, direct opinions and to share information without the fear of it being reported outside the conference room. [i sincerely hope that they're planning a conference in las vegas.] there is some merit to that on its surface, in that it allows people to cut through the constraints of imposed propriety and scream "you're being a dick" at george w. bush. ok, maybe not that. the point is that we've all cringed at the bleached language people are forced to use when discussing international business, finance and politics. that sort of deliberately vague speech is one of the reasons why people don't trust politicians in the first place. so being able to have a meeting where you can just say what's on your mind would make things move a little faster, since people won't have to decode what the hell you're talking about, right?

well, sure. as long as that was the only reason why things were off the record. but this is a meeting of the world's most powerful people convening to discuss matters that will affect the rest of us for decades and we're not allowed to know anything but the general subjects. a lot of the people there are directly on the public payroll, or benefit from national policies that use public funds, or hold public funds in trust in ways proscribed by policies determined at meetings like this one. we're all happy to let people embrace the right to free speech, but the exclusion of the public on its own is an issue worthy of concern.

then of course, there's the fact that a number of the people at these meetings are convicted criminals. again, this is a matter that's not disputed by anyone. specifically, these felons have been convicted of offenses that have arisen as a result of their proximity to government officials, industry, and banks. sounds a little like inviting a child molester to attend camp counselor training, but i suppose there's no way to be sure. of course, there's no way to be sure because meetings are held in absolute secrecy.

this year's meeting will feature a discussion of "greece", which i'm assuming will not simply be a power point of attendees' vacations on santorini over the years. while the actual government of greece [who aren't represented] are trying to negotiate their way through a maze of imposed austerity, loan repayment and financing for their country's future, the heads of the world's largest banks, the european governments with whom these issues are being negotiated,n and a small number of conservative greeks who don't support the government to begin with will be discussing their perspective on what will be happening. and neither the greek government nor the greek people has any right to know what that discussion entails.

you get my point: even if you can't connect the bilderberg web to anything other than itself, there's a problem.

however, in order to prove a conspiracy, you need to prove there's a plan and while there are lots of flies buzzing around, the putrid body of evidence remains elusive. there have been those who have claimed that they were present at bilderberg meetings but "defected" in the name of spreading truth and warning the people, but they aren't necessarily the most reliable. the evidence of a far-reaching plot is circumstantial in the extreme.

but that doesn't mean that there aren't a few reference points. those scamps at wikileaks, who at least vet their materials, even if they can't fully verify them, have published a handful of documents that look persuasive enough. is there a smoking gun within? i have a spring cold that's left me coughing for days and unable to sleep through the night, so i can't swear that i've done a thorough examination, but i'd say that based on what i have seen, there isn't. but why would there be? if you have a massive conspiracy to overtake the world, when you meet with your co-conspirators, you don't have to keep talking about the action plan out loud.

what is clear [if you accept the authenticity of the documents] is that even though politicians are there "in an unofficial capacity", they're discussing a lot of things that they deal with on the job. if i'm having dinner with friends and something in the conversation sparks a good idea for my work, i can assure that i never refuse to use that idea because it was conceived on my own time.

i could not help but grab a screenshot from the meeting report of the aachen 1980 conference [available on wikileaks]. this isn't tied to the conspiracy per se, just a touch of bitter irony to liven things up:

and the luxemburger was never heard from again...

again, even the fact that these meetings are taking place with no public access or any transparency [although the head of transparency international is there, which is a lot less comforting than it should be] could be a problem. but even more seriously, the purpose of these meetings is to further relations and to create a harmonious environment for international business, finance and politics. but harmonious for whom?

the group in attendance is overwhelmingly wealthy, privileged, white, male and western. whose interests could they possibly represent. you could argue that their intentions are humanitarian- retinger hoped that his organisation would be an enlightened group of philosopher kings- but can people whose way of life depends on certain inequalities being maintained or extended truly represent the views of the disenfranchised? the answer is no, they can't. all the imagination and good intentions in the world wouldn't accomplish that and to pretend otherwise is a waste of time at best. if you want to help people, the people you're trying to help need seats at the table.

so the bilderberg group are essentially there making sure that things run better for their interests. businesses and bankers have unfettered, unrecorded access to the most powerful governments in the world, while everyone sits around and tries to sort out how to fix the world's problems. 

the idea that there is a plan in place to establish a single world government assumes that there would be some advantage to be gained from doing so. in fact, no one wants to be tasked with the problems of the whole world, which is large and disparate and difficult to control. that's best offloaded to locals. plus, of course, it has the advantage of keeping people divided. unified populations are dangerously hostile to governments when they sense they're being exploited. when people are able to get together on political issues, revolutionary shit happens. for those represented at the bilderberg group, advantage is gained by allowing capital to move freely around the world and for industry and finance to operate with minimal restrictions, outside the jurisdiction of governments. likewise, it's important to keep up demand in different markets for new and existing products, which is why it should be disconcerting that there are a large number of arms manufacturers present.

conspiracy theorists are squinting too hard as they try to see the forest: the trees are right there.

the likelihood :: 1/10 or 10/10

huh? well, the idea that the bilderberg group are working to achieve a single world government is almost inarguably false. i'll hold out just a shred of possibility that there is some larger purpose, but i'd be shocked if they were either that consistent or that organised.

on the other hand, the idea that the group is conspiring to further their own interests, that they are lobbying governments to implement a plan of action that would benefit them, that they seek to serve as an elite that informs national policy from a discreet distance, without becoming mired in specific national details... well that's so out in the open that i'd hardly call it a conspiracy. how obvious is it?

"To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn't go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing."
- dennis healey, former british chancellor of the exchequer and minister of defense, founding member of the bilderberg group

yeah, they say it themselves. the question is: do you trust that this group has the world's best interests at heart, based on the past record of the organisations they represent, even if they won't let you know what they're planning? 

p.s. :: i found the image at the top from multiple sources, so i'm not sure where it originates. the fun part is that it's huge, so go ahead and click to see how big the conspiracy gets.

11 June 2015

armchair centre back :: now what?

“Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.”

-t.s eliot the wasteland, 1922 and kate macdonald upon hearing of sepp blatter's resignation, 2015

indeed, reading that evil bastard fifa president sepp blatter had decided to remove himself from the head of world football's body of overlords, i felt as if my brain had just slipped into a pair of comfy pants with a forgiving elastic waistband. ding dong, the witch is dead and all. of course it does make me wonder what exactly is coming down the pike that he felt the need to leave just days after being re-elected with a massive majority of votes. if i were paranoid, i'd say that something awful was about to be revealed, which would have to be more awful than all the stuff we've already heard, which would be very, very awful indeed. or if i were even more paranoid, i'd say that he'd always intended to resign, but stood for election in order to block a progressive candidate from taking over and opening up the field to a successor he actually likes. but i'm only paranoid on the weekends, so i'm going to pretend that neither of those things is possible. [you know, those things are not mutually exclusive. -ed.]

finding a new president in the middle of a term, or ten minutes into it, is an extraordinary event that requires an extraordinary convention and fifa's board will meet on july 20th to figure out how exactly they're going to get themselves out of this public relations pickle and to set a date for a new coronation election. there's a party i'd like to attend.

there are a lot of names being bandied around as a potential successor to blatter and since the dickhead man himself won't be in the mix, it is indeed a more open field than usual. of course, it's the same damned people voting in this round who gave blatter his landslide as some of his closest friends were being hauled away in handcuffs. a lot of these people seem pretty impervious to the opinions of other people, especially the billions [yes, billions] of fans of the sport they oversee. i guess the walls of money that surround them offer some pretty effective insulation. so i wouldn't expect calls for revolution from this group. 

i'd like to think that the fifa membership will do the right thing, but that isn't exactly their modus operandi. for the moment, here are my thoughts on a few of the figures who are assembling in the shadows to vie for the position of guy who tries to hold everything together as the shitstorm hits its peak. 

the front-runners :: 
the guys who are considered obvious candidates.

some day our prince will come back
prince ali bin al-hussein

as the only guy with the stones to actually challenge blatter last time, he's the most likely to run. 

might win because... he has a strong history of both involvement in the sport and the precarious international politics the is world soccer. he has already assembled a support base and while it couldn't rival blatter's, it's not insignificant. he's the sort of fresh, reformist face that fifa need to put out there and, being from the middle east himself, he's a great person to counter qatar's arguments that criticism of their mass murder-y world cup preparations are based on racism. 

might not win because... he barely assembled more than a third of the total vote when he was one of only two candidates running. his own federation is trying to get him removed from the fifa executive because the really don't want someone there pushing for change. his european base could desert him for another candidate and it's not likely that he'll be able to expand his base in other parts of the world enough to offset that loss. 

finger pointer in chief
michael platini

the head of the european football federation and the man who basically served as prince ali's campaign manager. he's been uninhibited in his criticism of blatter in recent years and his threat to withdraw europe from world cups held under blatter's watch likely played a huge role in the man's decision to resign. 

might win because... he's been the highest-profile voice against blatter. he's the head of the most important association in the world. he's spoken out on the need for meaningful, visible reform. none of the money laundering scandals have touched him in any way. 

might not win because... he voted for qatar to host the 2022 world cup. while it's not related to the criminal charges that have been laid, it's widely [and correctly] perceived that the decision to give fifa's crown jewel to qatar is the most embarrassing thing the organisation has ever done and that bar is set pretty high. even if he's not tied to specific instances of corruption, he's been around fifa a long time and didn't start speaking out until comparatively recently. 

the insiders ::

less obvious but well-known in fifa circles nonetheless.  

we have ways of making you vote
sheikh salman bin ebrahim al-khalifa

the head of the asian football federation, he's a powerful figure in the insular world of fifa.  

might win because... he was instrumental in securing support for sepp blatter in the past presidential election and he obviously did a good job. he hasn't been touched by any of the financial scandals that have come out in recent weeks. he's the sort of candidate who will make the old guard feel at ease. raising the profile of the sport in asia is fifa's most important financial goal. 

might not win because... he'd be a worse choice than sepp blatter. he's been accused of torturing people, including soccer players. he would not allow any sort of re-evaluation of qatar's world cup. europe despises him and while he might not need their votes, he can't handle having them blockade fifa. 

what's the big deal?
issa hayatou

fifa's senior vice president, he's the person to whom the job would fall by default if there wasn't another election. 

might win because... he has massive support in africa, which represents a lot of votes. he's comfortable with the politics of fifa. he ran against sepp blatter for president at one point, but put that behind him and became his closest ally, which shows that he's capable of letting go of a grudge. 

might not win because... he might be in jail by the time the vote is held. it's widely suspected that he'll be the next "big fish" brought down in the fifa scandal. electing sepp blatter's right hand would be among the worst messages that fifa could send to the world. 

you don't know who i am, and that's good
alfredo hawit

the head of the honduran soccer association recently got thrust into the role of president of concacaf, the federation of north and central america. the women's world cup is currently unfolding on his home turf, so he's getting a lot of spotlight lately. 

might win because... the rush of attention is going to make him look like an exciting option. he's spoken up for some reforms on the length of time executive committee members can serve, which was seen as a sly swipe at his predecessor jeffrey webb. i'm betting a lot of people at fifa are wishing they'd listened to him. he's not been outspoken on reforms, though, so he's not going to be too jarring. he comes from a small country and conference, which will make others in the same situation feel more comfortable with him. 

might not win because... no one from a federation in the americas is going to be the next president of fifa. they all either seem to be getting arrested or doing the arresting and fifa is not going to want to go fishing in that pool until they're well sure that it isn't going to come back and bite them in the ass. no one knows who the hell he is. 

the people's favourites ::

faces from the world of football who are likely to be most popular among fans, but who still have a legitimate shot at the presidency. 

if i can't win, i don't want to play
luis figo

a popular player from portugal who originally stood against blatter in the recent election, before withdrawing with a scathing critique of the organisation and its corruption on the eve of the arrests. 

might win because... he's worked his whole life in the sport and has lost none of his passion for it. electing someone who's in it for the love of the game would be a good signal that fifa is ready to clean house. he's repudiated the politics of the organisation and called for reform, which is exactly what most people want to hear. 

might not win because... he had little support last time and there's no reason to think he's become more popular with the fifa voters. his tirade against the corruption and politics of the organisation might have made him look noble, but it also makes him look like he can't work with others. make no mistake, the presidency of fifa is a political job, and sooner or later, you need to learn to work with people you don't like very much. 

may have tried the kylie jenner challenge
diego maradona

a contender for the title of best damn player in history and sepp blatter's highest profile critic. he was doing interviews nearly daily coming up to the last election, tearing away at blatter and his cronies. 

might win because... he's kind of a living god in the sport. he'd be an excellent peace offering from fifa to their disenchanted fans. 

might not win because... he has absolutely no experience with this sort of job. while fifa might like the idea of having a figurehead president, maradona is strong-willed an opinionated and they have to know they'd be unable to control him. and while it shouldn't matter, some recent plastic surgery has left the great man looking like a drag queen, and not in a good way.

the man-candy-date
george weah

a former world footballer of the year and african player of the century who has transformed himself into a pretty successful politician in his home country of liberia. 

might win because... in africa, he's more popular than maradona. he knows both the sport and politics, but he's completely untouched by fifa's filth. he is a living embodiment of the "fifa dream": a kid from the slums who was able to rise to the pinnacle of the sport through skill and determination. he's had to work hard at his political career, taking a lot of criticism initially for his lack of formal education and experience, but he stuck with it. 

might not win because... his heart seems to lie with his home country right now. he hasn't evinced any interest in joining the fifa party, whereas he was elected to the liberian senate last year. he converted to islam and then converted back to christianity, which will not sit well with more conservative middle eastern nations.

the outsiders ::

technically, fifa's rules don't allow for a true outsider- someone who hasn't been directly involved in the sport within the last few years- to run for president. but there's a chance that, rather than moving to an election, the executive could decide to appoint a caretaker to get them through their rough patch. that's where these guys come in. 

i kind of look like mandela and morgan freeman too.
kofi annan

head of the united nations during some of its most difficult years. the united nations has to be good training for fifa. 

he might win because... he's a consummate diplomat who's respected in africa and much of europe. he's had to deal with life and death situations in the past, so sport really shouldn't seem that stressful for him. 

he might not win because... his tenure as leader of the u.n. was hampered by a corruption scandal, which is the last thing that fifa needs. america, which has emerged as the unlikely hero of world soccer, hates him, because he was the chief opponent of george w. bush's push to invade iraq, and for some reason, that's thought of as a bad thing.

c'mon, give us a chance.
mitt romney

don't kid yourself. before he was the "47%" punchline in the 2012 american election, romney stepped in to save the olympics from exactly this sort of scandalous disaster and he did a pretty fine job of it. the olympics is probably the closest thing that exists to fifa, so it's even better training than the united nations. 

might win because... his olympic experience could make him the most qualified person in the entire world for the job. he's the only person who can say "i've done this sort of thing before". with all the criticism leveled at him during the 2012 electoral campaign, no one accused him of any kind of corruption. appointing him to clear up the mess would make the americans very happy and fifa really, really want to increase their profile in america. if he comes in and does the job at fifa now, his legacy will be as the guy who saved both of the biggest events in the world and not the guy who lost to barack obama in 2012. 

might not win because... he probably couldn't give a shit about world soccer. at the moment, no one remembers the olympics, they just remember the losing, to say nothing of the long, damaging road to the republican nomination where it looked like his party wanted anyone but him as their candidate. people in the world of sport like winners. he made a lot of comments during the 2012 election campaign that will not sit well with fifa's muslim members [assuming they remember them].

there are other candidates who may emerge, and some of these guys are unlikely to emerge at all, but such is the nature of the beast. my personal preference still lies with prince ali, although if weah were to mount a surprise run, it'd be a tough choice. while i wasn't a fan of romney as a presidential candidate, my arguments with him there don't carry over to the world of fifa. he wouldn't be a long-term solution, but fifa needs to concentrate on the present debacle first. it would be interesting to see how a female candidate- most likely burundi's lydia nsekera- would be received, but i don't think we're there yet. [and being female doesn't mean that nsekera is a reformer, either. remember that africa were blatter's biggest supporters.] whatever happens, i'm betting that qatar will lose their world cup one way or the other.

well hello there
i'm going to be obsessing over this, since it combines soccer and politics, which for a lot of people would be like winning your ideal home and then finding out that you're sharing it with the person of your dreams. and besides, it will help keep dom and me entertained over the summer when we don't have the premier league to keep us company. well, to be fair, there's also the south american cope america in chile, the women's world cup here in canada and, of course, "silly season", where the world soccer press speculates that every single high-profile player is moving to every single high-profile team for two months, which ends in everyone feeling like the transfer season was a bit of a letdown. 

to that end, i'm rather chuffed that swansea city yesterday announced the signing of sought-after forward andre ayew. i like what i've seen of him, which admittedly isn't much, and i really like his comments about the move, about how he felt like he was joining a team on the rise and with an eye for the future. i was also happy to see that bafétimbi gomis played a big role in bringing his fellow frenchman on board, reassuring him about the great playing atmosphere, the team dynamic and their young manager. [in fact gomis, who earlier this year sounded a little iffy about staying with swansea at all, has become their most vocal proponent and very nearly beat the team in welcoming ayew to south wales on social media.]

only god could stop us!!!
since we're also arsenal fans, we're also waiting for the annual "will he or won't he" wenger spending money dance. rumours are swirling that alexis sanchez might be returning from the copa america with teammate arturo vidal in tow. vidal would be a wonderful addition, although one has to wonder where wenger is going to put all his talented midfielders, since he seems loathe [with good reason] to part with any of them. of course, every time you see arsenal's name associated with a player, manchester united start chasing them, which is like that irritating dork in primary school who always copied your homework and your tests and got good grades from your hard studying, except that in this case, it's considered a perfectly valid way to conduct business. this is yet another way in which i think that sport is a very effective instructor for children on how really terrible behaviour that gets you in trouble at school will be the fastest route to success in the adult world.
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