Sarah Palin's Possible Plastic Surgery Problem?

>> Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sheesh. That's practically a tongue twister.

Alaskan blogger Gryphen noted on Thursday:

I also did not pick up on another odd thing about Sarah's interview, until I received an e-mail from a plastic surgeon. Now watch this video again, with the sound off this time, and focus on Palin's mouth.

This e-mail essentially says they may have pulled too far on the left side of her face. If this is in fact true, it WILL slowly get worse. Much, much worse!

Now just for comparison watch an older Sarah Palin interview conducted by Greta Van Susteren. You can see two things here. First, how different Palin's mouth appeared back then, and also how MUCH it now resembles Greta's. (Leave the sound off for better concentration.)

Well? What do you think? Do you agree with the plastic surgeon?

Update: I just received another e-mail form the plastic surgeon. Here are the highlights.

It looks like "damage to the marginal mandibular branch of the facial nerve" is possible. "It's truly impossible to tell from a video but it looks like that is probably what happened. Usually nerve damage is temporary and will return to normal within 6 months to a year, although sometimes it can take 2 to 3 years for complete regeneration. Weakness or paralysis of certain muscles is possible if a nerve related to muscle movement is impaired. It can be treated with reconstructive surgery."
I watched the videos to compare. It's not an obvious change, but I do agree that the left side of Palin's mouth doesn't appear to be moving in a symmetrical fashion in the Hannity video unlike the Greta video.

This isn't the first time folks have speculated that Palin has had her face done. Theories emerged last fall when she appeared in Hong Kong after a long public absence.
But speculating that she's had surgery and noticing repercussions from surgery are a bit different. Damage to facial nerves? Gee, you can only begin to wonder if it's going to get worse as the Hannity video is probably about 6 months after her surgery and the possibility of full nerve recovery could be 2 to 3 years. That's a long time to be taped with a mouth veering to one side. How long will it be until other people begin to notice the difference?

Was Palin just too insecure to notice that Madonna, with all her money, is a walking advertisement against plastic surgery? Apparently so.

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Mother & Child

Spotlight category. Official description:
Destiny plays a part in the lives of three women—a 50-year-old physical therapist, the daughter she gave up for adoption 35 years earlier, and a woman looking to adopt her first child. In this exploration of one of nature's most basic instincts, their pasts intertwine, inform, and evolve to reveal their innermost desires.

Rodrigo García once again reveals himself as a master storyteller with an uncanny understanding of the psyche of his unique characters. With strong directorial vision, he dares us to go to uncharted territory in a way that is both effortless and beautiful. The nuanced performances by this stellar cast let you into the fractured existence of these women, each motivated by a deep longing that holds them prisoners in their own fate. Moving and profound, Mother & Child exposes the complex layers of life's challenges while remaining poetic and ethereal, yet painfully real on all levels.
Intense.

These three stories start out feeling like vignettes, making me wonder how they're related aside from the mother and/or child angle. But eventually they come together towards the end. These stories cover a lot of ground in two hours. I really didn't like Naomi Watts's character in the first half. She's so clearly angry with the world that she engages in somewhat sociopathic behavior, which reminded me of her role in 21 Grams. Annette Benning's character is so wound up in the first half that she becomes another person entirely in the second. And I thoroughly appreciated seeing Kerry Washington in something other than a throw-away role. (I feel like whenever I see her she's around for, like, three scenes as some guy's girlfriend.) This film is just full of character actors popping up in little parts, like David Morse and Elizabeth Peña. Casting must not have been a problem.

I know the official description says "Destiny plays a part in the lives of three women," but I couldn't help but notice that twice, I think, two characters mentioned God and plans. (One did for sure. My memory is a little hazy on the second.) I think that the writer/director Rodrigo García wants to hint at that option—a supreme being that cares for everything—rather than just destiny but not overly so. He does tie up the three main story lines quite well without stretching credibility.

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The Secret Government

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just finished watching the 1987 Bill Moyers PBS documentary on Iran-Contra. I vaguely remember my mom watching the Iran-Contra hearings when I was a kid. I came across this video while reading an old post by Glenn Greenwald today. He noted the similarity between George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan's administrations when it came to law breaking and secrecy.

I've never understood why people revere Oliver North. He's such a despicable man. That he's a commentator on Fox News these days is even more...well, why do those viewers trust a man who made his name on being a liar? Are they just people who didn't have a good history and/or civics class in high school? Props to the former marine who said he wanted to throw something at his tv after Ollie North opened his mouth.

This 90-minute documentary is particularly relevant when you consider the recent news of president-approved assassinations of U.S. citizens abroad.

We keep sinking to lower depths of depravity.

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Lost: Season 5

>> Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I am now caught up on all the episodes, so I can watch the final season premiere on Groundhog Day. (The same day Oscar nominations come out.) I can see why many people have stopped watching this through the years. The insanity never stops. I thought Battlestar Galactica could be backstory-heavy. Nope. Lost far, far, far outstrips that. I get the time travel thing. It makes it much easier to follow when you just accept it. But now that they've "reset" the "clock," it's like the first five seasons were just like Dallas's dream season back in the 80s. Or that's how I'm interpreting it at this point, with the caveat that the audience got to know the characters really well. The whole ploy of getting Oceanic 815 to crash was the anti-Jacob's way of finding a loophole to kill Jacob. Or is Jacob even dead now given the clock was reset? Ugh.

All I know at this point is I don't want Sayid to die, I want Sun & Jin to get back together, I don't want Hurley to die or suffer, and I would like Mr. Eko to come back. I'm sure that none of that is going to happen.

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So true

>> Monday, January 25, 2010

It's nice to hear someone admit it publicly:

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Redford, talk about your environmental politics. I mean, you have long been a champion of the environment. You’ve testified before Congress. You’re on the board of trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council. But start by describing Utah, for people to understand what this place is who aren’t from here.

ROBERT REDFORD: Well, Utah is a composite made up of two parts: its physical part and its political part, which has very close alignment with its religious part. Its politics are very closely aligned with its theocratic stance, which I don’t share. I don’t demean it, or I’m not against it; I just don’t share it. Its physical place is one of the best places on earth because of the variety in the landscape. And I came here principally because of that.

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Smart Animals: Dolphin edition

>> Sunday, January 24, 2010

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Waiting for Superman


U.S. Documentary Competition. Official description:
For a nation that proudly declared it would leave no child behind, America continues to do so at alarming rates. Despite increased spending and politicians’ promises, our buckling public-education system, once the best in the world, routinely forsakes the education of millions of children.

Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim reminds us that education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. As he follows a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth, Guggenheim undertakes an exhaustive review of public education, surveying “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes,” methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems.

However, embracing the belief that good teachers make good schools, and ultimately questioning the role of unions in maintaining the status quo, Guggenheim offers hope by exploring innovative approaches taken by education reformers and charter schools that have—in reshaping the culture—refused to leave their students behind.
It sounded like a good documentary when I bought the tickets. It definitely turned out to be. I saw this with both my parents, who noted that had I not prompted them about seeing it when I bought tickets two weeks ago that they would have missed out on seeing this. I was curious how my mom was going to react to this film since she is a retired teacher.

The organist was playing once again before the film. I really like that. It provides such a nice atmosphere. The audience was much smaller for this than it was for Hesher. I attribute that to 1) it being a Sunday in Utah and 2) not everyone goes for documentaries. I'd say it was about 55-60% full. Definitely recognized some teachers in the audience. The audience was also much older and whiter than Hesher's.

The Sundance volunteer introducing the film stating that the director, Davis Guggenheim, may be coming to do a Q&A after the film. Right when she said that, he announced himself as he was rushing down the aisle. He gave a short introduction to the film, which I really appreciated. He worked on this film for two years. He also mentioned that he directed An Inconvenient Truth, which also played at Sundance. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to stay for the Q&A. Bummer.
I was curious how they were going to do a film on education in the U.S. It begins with an explanation by Geoffrey Canada and how, when he was a kid, he had to realize that Superman wasn't real. Specifically, his mom told him he wasn't real. Then he realize that there were all these problems lurking around, and who was powerful enough to fix them? That is the quandary posed throughout the film. (I wanted to ask at the Q&A what Guggenheim would have named the film if Geoffrey Canada hadn't told that little story. It provides a unique title that provokes some thought.)

Guggenheim admits at the beginning that he believes in public education, yet when it came time to send his own kids to school he choose to send them to a private school. He could afford that choice. What happens to the kids who can't afford a private school? He follows five kids/families on their journey through their current public education and attempts to get into local charter schools. (I would actually say he mainly follows four. The fifth is much more tangential and receives less story time than the other four.) He intersperses these family stories with interviews from a journalists who cover education, academics who study education, former superintendents and teachers, education advocates such as (college dropout) Bill Gates, and historical clips of politicians talking about how they support education. (Yes, the clip of George W. Bush stating, "childrens do learn," is in there and got a good laugh.)

The film admits quite plainly that charter schools are not a cure all. Only about one in five charter schools succeeds in...okay, I can't remember the exact statistic, but it was to the effect of being a superior option to the public schools or better test scores. It highlights the "dropout factories" where students are overwhelmingly likely to dropout regardless of their circumstances when they entered. (I noticed a lot of these were located in the south when the animated graphic was shown. My mom said that she noticed that North Dakota did not have one and there were very few in Minnesota.) And the problems of teacher tenure in public schools. That is, many school districts would like to fire problem teachers, but can't given how teacher contracts are written. Teachers' unions are given a lot of blame in this area. Although the film doesn't mention it, this is not necessarily a problem around the nation since this varies by state and local school district. For those areas where tenure is a huge problem, teachers' unions would probably do themselves a favor if they worked for another way to protect their members from irrational firings than tenure. One academic noted that problem/low-performing teachers constituted about only six percent (6%!) of all teachers. If they were removed, the U.S. could rival Finland in education, which last I recall was tops in the world.

But back to the five kids, who all want to go to a good school. Their parents are doing whatever they can to get their kids a good education. All of them participate in lotteries to see if they can get into local charter schools. A few of these schools have more than a hundred applicants per slot. Shit. The results are nothing but depressing. You can see the agony on these kids, most younger than 10 and one teenager, waiting to see if their name or number is called, and then the sadness on not winning a spot from the lottery. Pure chance separates them from getting into a better school. Such a shame that kids' futures are reduced to numbers coming out of a ball mixer.

Roger Ebert:
"Waiting for Superman" makes a compelling case for the apparent fact that American students from all ethnic and income groups are not receiving competitive educations. Yes, I know there are good schools and heroic teachers. But look at the statistics. I know little about math, but I learned enough to win a state scholarship. About reading and writing I know more, and it's my observation that today's high school graduates are underserved. The studies isolate a primary reason for that: Bad teaching, in systems that protect bad teachers and therefore discourage good ones.

Some time ago I caught a lot of flak for suggesting that if you think "Transformers 2" is one of the best films of all time, you are "not sufficiently involved." I have no quarrel with anyone who likes the film. But if you think it's a great film, you have not been prepared to evaluate and compare works of art, and to examine your own opinions.

I know some of my old classmates hang round here from time to time, and I dare to make this statement: An eighth grade graduate of the St. Mary's Grade School of my youth knew more than a typical high school student does today. A typical graduate of the Urbana High School of my youth knew more than many college graduates do today. Anyone who grades essays at the college level today observes that many of their students are semi-literate.

The fact is, American education is failing. Even in a bad economy there are good jobs in Silicon Valley. Bill Gates says it's not so must that he wants to recruit Indians as that he has to. The fault can be laid at the feet of bad teachers and their unions. That's a conclusion I suspect good teachers would be the first to agree with.
My mom, the retired teacher would agree that there are bad teachers. She said so when we were walking back to the car, but she did note that some superintendents work to get rid of bad teachers rather than passing them around from school to school, aka "dance of the lemons."

Most of the ballots I saw had the film marked "best." It'll be interesting to see if this wins an Audience Award. The end credits asked you to text "POSSIBLE" to 44144. It didn't say for what. I notice on the Take Part website that it says for "campaign updates." I still have no idea what for.

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Moscow's Stray Dogs: Smarter than some humans


Neuronov says there are some 500 strays that live in the metro stations, especially during the colder months, but only about 20 have learned how to ride the trains. This happened gradually, first as a way to broaden their territory. Later, it became a way of life. “Why should they go by foot if they can move around by public transport?” he asks.

“They orient themselves in a number of ways,” Neuronov adds. “They figure out where they are by smell, by recognising the name of the station from the recorded announcer’s voice and by time intervals. If, for example, you come every Monday and feed a dog, that dog will know when it’s Monday and the hour to expect you, based on their sense of time intervals from their ­biological clocks.”
And I think of all the people I know who can't ride public transportation...
Among some more amazing skill those Moscow dogs are the ability not to miss their stop while going on the subway train. Biologists say dogs have very nice sense of time which helps them not to miss their destination. Another skill they have is to cross the road on the green traffic light. “They don’t react on color, but on the picture they see on the traffic light”, Moscow scientist tells. Also they choose often the last or the first metro car - those are less crowded usually.

It’s funny but the ecologists studying Moscow stray dogs also tell the dogs don’t miss a chance to get some play while on their travel in the subway. They are fond of jumping in the train just seconds before the doors shut closed risking their tails be jammed. “They do it for fun, just they have enough food”, they conclude.

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