Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Fun: "Star Wars" Theme on Accordion

Since the space opera celebrated its 40th birthday this week on May 25, here's something relevant: 

Food Fight: Who Gets to Cook Ethnic Dishes?

This is ridiculous. Give me a freaking break.

Syria: Its Breakup is a "Fait Accompli"

So says Foreign Policy.

Movie Madness: Ranking Tom Cruise Movies

I thought this was hilarious not only because ranking movies is always an exercise in amusing subjectivity but because the writer flat out announces with endearingly brutal honesty:
"Anyway, with news of a coming Top Gun sequel, it hit me that, although I’m not a particularly big fan of Cruise, from that day until this one, I’ve seen virtually every movie he’s appeared in. I’m sure I’m not alone. And because I will do virtually anything to avoid writing about Donald Trump or Russia or Congressional Budget Office scores, I correctly ranked them for you."
Since I too have been refusing to engage in political blogging because the quality of ostensibly professional journalistic coverage has been utterly absymal, I would much rather talk about movies!  Here's the (very entertaining) ranking of every Tom Cruise movie.

Let's point out a few recent personal favorites, shall we? Here are my grades with links to reviews.
  • Edge of Tomorrow (2014): A
  • Almost all the Mission: Impossible movies. I gave 2011's Ghost Protocol an A-. I didn't get around to writing a full review of 2015's Rogue Nation, but that's an A (with a huge shoutout to Rebecca Ferguson and a nod to Simon Pegg and the great Ving Rhames).
  • Tropic Thunder (2008). The flick itself gets a B overall, but Cruise's turn is amazing.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

I usually post a favorite work of Easter art, but this year I've decided to do something a little different and post music instead. Enjoy! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Nerd Fun: xkcd on Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics

Ever wonder what would happen if Isaac Asimov had arranged the laws differently?  Wonder no more, darlings!



The fact that fully half of the configurations ends in a killbot hellscape does rather give one pause, doesn't it?
...


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Nerdworld Soundtrack: Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro"

It's what I have playing right now, and it's fantastic, no?  Before you start thinking that I'm all fancy and sophisticated and cultured and whatever, let me tell you that I had completely forgotten about this piece until I heard it in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation that I was watching earlier (excellent flick, by the way, and how The Marriage of Figaro shows up in it is absolutely in keeping with my irreverent sense of humor!).

Saturday, January 21, 2017

US-UK Special Relationship Back On?

Churchill's bust is back in the Oval Office, and Theresa May will be the first foreign leader to meet Trump after inauguration.  This should prove interesting indeed in the light of Brexit.

Quote of the Day: One Libertarian's Thoughts

I can't take any more media, be it mainstream or social or any other kind, because the general noisy emotional overdrive and hyperreaction over Trump's inauguration from both supporters and opponents alike is giving me a headache. It's gotten to the point that I am half-expecting febrile friends of mine both on the left and right to start yelling at me because I haven't been posting excitable effluvia nonstop online. 

So I give you one libertarian's bemused thoughts:
It’s been a weird couple of months. I’ve seen more people unfriend each other on FaceBook than in the past few years combined; There have been several reports of both Trump supporters and minorities being physically attacked; I’ve been asked to wear a safety pin to proclaim to the world that I am not a racist, because the presumption now is that everyone is a racist and you have to (secretly - only not so secretly) announce to everyone if you’re not; and the senior editor of ThinkProgress is afraid of his plumber. (This, based solely on whatever profiling techniques they use over at ThinkProgress - “… a middle-aged white man with a southern accent who seemed unperturbed by this week’s news.” - rather than anything resembling a conversation with the man.) 
Here’s the thing: I’m a libertarian. I’ve been surrounded by people who don’t agree with me for as long as I can remember and it has never occurred to me to isolate myself from everyone because of our political differences. Certainly not to assault them. Nor am I filled with anxiety by the thought that people who work in my home might have different political views than mine. To me, you’re all a bunch of fascists. But I’ve somehow learned to live with you.
Heh!  Seriously, though, later the writer says, "For me, watching people unravel over this election has been instructive," and what ultimately follows is not unlike what I've said about why an overly powerful executive is a Very Bad Thing and that it's still a Very Bad Thing even if (and maybe especially if) a guy you happen to like is sitting behind the Resolute desk. Just imagine someone you hate and fear having those same powers. You don't like that? Then maybe those are really stupid, dangerous powers that nobody should have, period.

Oh, one more thing. I've heard plenty of Obama-love over the last few days ranging from the classy to the completely deranged, but the one I remember the best is this: someone I know actually said that s/he wished Obama were a king so he could stay in power forever and we wouldn't have to deal with Trump. Yes, you read that right. Wished Obama were a king. Criminy, this actually happened in earnest. I half-expected the ghost of George Washington to appear on the spot and slap this person into next week. You've missed the entire point of the American Revolution.

I am so tired.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Movie Review: "Suicide Squad" (2016)



Prison Break.

Well, against my better judgment I finally saw Suicide Squad over the holiday break, and let me tell you I shouldn't have.  That miserable vomitous mass is an insult to the very idea of movies as a pleasant enterprise.  It's 2 hours of trash. No, really, I mean actual, literal trash, as one of the major plot points - I kid you not - involves a swirling tower of flying rubbish propelled by the sorcery of a shimmying witch wearing a skimpy, spangled Las Vegas showgirl outfit. The whole thing is as silly as it sounds.

I watched Suicide Squad with Alessandra. I suppose I should clarify and say that we hate-watched it. We knew it would stink like a heap of dead sewer rats - New York City-sized ones at that - but even we connoisseurs of crap entertainment were frankly astonished by the sheer incompetence we saw on screen.  The basic premise - getting a bunch of convicted, imprisoned criminals to carry out dangerous government missions - isn't bad in itself, but the execution was shockingly shoddy.  From an entire phalanx of characters we don't care about at all to a plot that - as Alessandra said - isn't even a plot, so much is wrong with the movie that my head is spinning. In fact, let me make it easier on us all. There are 2 - and only 2 - good things about this movie, and they are Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn (though her exaggerated accent started to grate as time went on). Everybody and everything else is a complete failure. Of those crashing ruins, Jared Leto's Joker just might be the worst offender of all. The less said about him, the better. He is to this movie what Jesse Eisenberg's Luthor was to Batman v. Superman.

What the hell is wrong with DC Comics?  No, wait, don't answer that.  I haven't got the time or the inclination for a dissertation, though I suspect that a big part of it can be summed up in 2 words: Zack Snyder, the Michael Bay of comic book movies.

Look, this review is turning into a rambling, incoherent rant, and it's not even an entertaining one. Here's a better:


Mad Minerva gives Suicide Squad a grade of D- because it's somehow even worse than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie that I savaged.  


RottenTomatoes gives Suicide Squad the miserable Rotten rating of 26%.

Suicide Squad runs 123 minutes and is rated PG-13 for violence, some language, suggestive content, and total narrative idiocy.

Concluding Thought 1: I have to say too: I am now completely pessimistic about this summer's Wonder Woman movie. DC is going to screw it up. They're going to screw up one of the best comic book characters in existence.

Concluding Thought 2: Go watch 1967's The Dirty Dozen instead. That film's a classic, and the cast is full of stars. 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Evil Plan That Backfired: China Fears Baby Bust

Disastrous. So now Beijing is begging women to have babies. Who could have guessed that its cruel one-child policy of social engineering would have resulted in chaos, misery, human rights abuses, and now a feared "demographic time bomb"?  Who indeed, except anybody with any sense at all.

Meet LA's Chinese American Gun Owners

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting report.

You may remember the experience of some Korean Americans in LA some time ago.

Start Off 2017 Right

With some delicious breakfast/brunch/"any time you can finally face being awake and upright" items, of course!

As for me, I'm on my third coffee of the morning ...

Free Speech and Academic Freedom

Some thoughts before the spring semester starts!

Two Law Professors Watch "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

Professors of law are among the hordes who have stampeded to the movie theaters this holiday season for their Star Wars fix. You may find their ruminations of some interest: law prof the first and law prof the second.

As for me ... No, I haven't gone yet. No, and however heretical this may sound to some people, I'm not all rarin' to go either. It feels like an obligation. I'm thinking that I'd rather go see La La Land, actually, because the combination of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone was so charming in 2011's Crazy, Stupid, Love.

But! As long as we're on the topic of Star Wars (I've always been more of a Trekkie myself), take a look at this fan's detailed obituary of Leia Organa. Not Carrie Fisher, mind you. Leia Organa.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Come Quickly, 2017! Meanwhile, Read Dave Barry's 2016 in Review

2016 has been a heck of a year. Let's look back with a sense of satirical humor, shall we? 

Here's a snippet:
 The fall campaign was an unending national nightmare, broadcast relentlessly on cable TV. CNN told us over and over that Donald Trump was a colossally ignorant, narcissistic, out-of-control sex-predator buffoon; Fox News countered that Hillary Clinton was a greedy, corrupt, coldly calculating liar of massive ambition and minimal accomplishment. And in our hearts we knew the awful truth: They were both right.
Zing!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday Fun Video: The Dishwashing Robot

It's been a loooong time since I've posted a fun video, so here you go!

Hum from Tom Teller on Vimeo.

Travels with Charley - I Mean, Chin Ho Kelly

A celebrity goes to the Middle East and doesn't launch into half-baked political yammering and virtue-signaling moral preening! Instead, he conducts himself with grace and humility (and some charmingly self-deprecating humor too). Kudos to one of my favorite Asian American actors for doing it right.

‪A #Christmas Tree, a #Crescent Moon and a #dove with 8 lights for #Hanukkah, all present in one holiday display in the city of Haifa. This simple monument, more than anything else, captures my feelings about my visit here to the Middle East. Though I have listened and heard many impassioned viewpoints, my trip is not a political one. I am not so arrogant as to think that a two week stay qualifies me to be an expert on a conflict that has lasted for thousands of years. I am here to appreciate the beauty of this region. I am here to meet its extraordinary people, from every walk of life. I am here to respectfully bow my head in the birthplace of many of the world's religions. And most importantly, I am here to learn. ‬ What I do know though, is that I have already had some unforgettable experiences with people I now consider friends- Israeli, Palestinian, Bedouin, Jordanian, Christian, Jew and Muslim. And to all of you, above all else, I wish you #PEACE and a harmonious #COEXISTENCE. In fact, I wish that for us all. ‬ So if you shout. Or if you rage, I will not hear you. But if you want to share your opinion below in respectful dialogue, you are welcome here. ‬
A photo posted by Daniel Dae Kim (@danieldaekim) on

On Objectifying History, or, 2016 is Not a Sentient Thing Out to Get You

Indeed. Note this too:
Something incredibly important is missing here: the human agent. The very thing, the only thing, that makes history. The objectification of history represents a negation of human agency, of our operation of intelligence and will, of our shaping and reshaping of the nature of society through ideas, engagement and revolution. This negation has been explicit in 2016. The investment of this year with a kind of menacing power, the treatment of it as a uniquely disruptive year, the according to it of the qualities of cruelty and unkindness, is fundamentally a means of nullifying, or at least mystifying, the cause of political disruption over the past 12 months — which was electorates, individuals, conscious and alert, thoughtful and engaged. And decisive too.
So, knock it off.

While I'm at it, let me say here what some historian friends and I were discussing recently: STOP SAYING THAT 2016 IS "THE WORST YEAR EVER." This hyperbolic nonsense boils down to the unwitting admission of the complainer's own vast ignorance. Is 2016 worse than 1347 when the Black Death burst on the scene in Europe and began its destruction of some 30% of the population? Is 2016 worse than 1939 when Hitler's invasion of Poland started World War II, a conflict that would kill tens of millions? That's just 2 years for example. I'm sure you can come up with many more. 

On a related note, stop saying that "the country has never been more divided." Regardless of how you feel about Trump or Hillary or whatever else, this statement is obviously silly. Is the country more divided than it was during - oh, let's say - 1861-1865? Pfft.

Thursday, December 01, 2016