Thursday, December 31, 2009
Bonus: amusing headline of the day, complete with sci-fi shout-out: "Knighthood for Patrick Stewart? Queen says make it so."
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Baker Street Irregulars.
"Sherlock Holmes" brings steampunk back to the big screen with panache in Guy Ritchie's re-imagining of the classic literary detective.
All you really need here is the robust, engaging performance of the two leads. Jude Law, playing Dr. Watson with gusto, hasn't been this entertaining and charismatic in years (if ever, actually), and the scintillating Robert Downey, Jr. portrays Holmes as a manic, obsessive, damaged yet magnetic and maddening genius -- the perfect foil to the exasperated, long-suffering, and -- yes -- dashing Watson.
If you're looking for the almost elderly, staid Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett version of Holmes, you'd best keep going, because Downey's Holmes is a young, energetic, socially maladjusted, almost obnoxiously intelligent yet occasionally vulnerable figure. Looking at him, you could start listing potential issues -- ADHD, OCD ... overlaid with a buzzing restlessness of mind that sometimes manifests itself physically. Somebody give the man some Ritalin! Now I've made merciless fun of Guy Ritchie before, but I have to give him credit for a fresh, creative take on Holmes during brawls, letting the audience have a glimpse into how the sleuth's mind works out a strategy before enacting it. The result is more or less brilliant. (Did I actually say that something done by Ritchie is "brilliant"? It's a sign of the apocalypse.)
Kelly Reilly (perhaps familiar to you as Caroline Bingley from "Pride and Prejudice") turns in a fine, sassy performance as Mary Morstan, Watson's fiancee who threatens the "bromance."
The overall look and feel of the flick is very good, and it manages to evoke a sense of place, of a steampunkish London that really only exists in the imagination. Even so, it's a place jam-packed with energy, and that gives a certain colorful immediacy to the film. (Nice touch in having the now-iconic Tower Bridge be a vast construction site.) In terms of the entire steampunk aesthetic in a major motion picture, this movie is much better (i.e., more fun) than its previous exponent, 2003's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (and Peta Wilson). Not even Sean Connery could save that turkey.
Oh, and who doesn't love Gladstone the much-put-upon bulldog?
The plot -- let's be honest -- is basically ludicrous with its mishmash of wannabe occult frisson and standard boilerplate dreams of egomaniacal power. The villain (Lord Blackwood, played by Mark Strong) is a cardboard figure of bland evil, right down to the swooping black cape. In fact, both plot and villain reminded me a lot of 1985's "Young Sherlock Holmes." Rachel McAdams tries hard as Irene Adler, the only woman who ever bested Holmes, but she seems out of place in Victorian England, even a steampunk version, and her chemistry with Downey lacks sparkle.
In the final analysis, the flaws of the film are more than balanced by the performance of its two lead actors. Jude Law shines on screen as Watson, and Robert Downey Jr., clearly more brilliant than the script and able to elevate it by his sheer charisma, continues his ascendancy as one of Hollywood's brightest stars. I for one cannot WAIT for "Iron Man 2."
A la some Trekkies with the JJ Abrams reimagining of "Star Trek," some Holmes purists, literary pedants, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fanboys might be offended by the liberties that Ritchie and Downey have taken with their new, action-comedy interpretation of the brainy sleuth, but the result is a rollicking good ride of holiday entertainment that breathes new life into the legendary resident of 221B Baker Street. Should you go see it? The answer is elementary. Off to the theater with you; the game is afoot!
Mad Minerva gives this film a good solid B+. The Cinema-Mad Sibling gives his favorable review-haiku also.
"Rotten Tomatoes" gives "Sherlock Holmes" a fresh rating of 70%.
The official website is here.
"Sherlock Holmes" runs for 128 minutes and is rated PG-13 for violence, action scenes, frightening images, and one scene with suggestive material (and a strategically placed pillow).
The silliest one I ever saw was in Chinatown a while back, where some veggie-obsessed food fascist had turned a normal STOP sign into one that read "STOP EATING ANIMALS." I actually laughed out loud as I walked past it ... on my way to a fine lunch of roast duck.
RELATED POSTS: Hacked road signs + zombies and road signs + velociraptors.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
"This is the clip reel of the damned."
And you wonder why so many American taxpaying law-abiding citizens are increasingly disaffected and unhappy with the political class.
"When the news is bad and lives are on the line, I want my government to give it to me straight. Instead I've got a head of DHS who's impersonating Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House."
Meanwhile, it took the president, what, three whole days, to make a statement? Granted, at the point at which he said anything, virtually nobody cared what he had to say. Every news outlet and blogger were already all over the incident. He was so far behind the story that it was laughable and pathetic -- THIS is the man who's supposed to be overseeing the security of our nation? Really? The Detroit newspaper writeup of the latest presidential utterance is full of nonsense like this:
Obama's remarks Monday were the first heard from him about Friday's scare. Officials said that was a deliberate effort by the White House to balance the need for the president to show concern with the need to avoid unduly elevating a botched incident, thereby encouraging other would-be attackers.This, ladies and gentlemen, is called "a BS-filled attempt at CYA."
Now, the post is entitled "Conversations with the Cine-Sib," so here are a couple notable quotables ending with his haiku review of the Holmes flick.
On the current president:
"Obambi's just like Ma (Ying-jeou)! He gives great speeches and looks pretty, but then you elect him and find out that his policies are crap and that the guy's a d*****bag."
(Here's an example.)
On the Pantybomber/Undi-bomber/Boxers-or-Briefs Bomber:
You know, gentle reader, this may finally shut up all those multiculti apologists and security ostriches who just want to talk to terrorists and appease them in the hope of getting them to stop trying to murder people. Because ...
"How do you reason with a guy who's willing to set his own junk on fire?"
And finally . . . *drum roll please* . . .
The Cine-Sib Haiku Review of "Sherlock Holmes":
Yes, he liked it so much that he wrote 3 haiku instead of just 1. My own review will be online shortly. UPDATE: My full review is now online.
Finally it's here
What a Holmes movie should be
The game is afoot.
Bring on the sequel
Characters are real
Flawed but all have certain depth
OK, now I'm off to make eggs Benedict for the MM clan.
Monday, December 28, 2009
As for the fact that the embezzlement occurred, anyone who has even a passing familiarity with campus life (on the non-student side) knows there's PLENTY of underhanded skulduggery going on!
Read this and then this, which has the following piquant statement:
Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, told CNN yesterday that "one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked." Yet the terrorist screening system seems to have failed in at least two crucial ways: first, in failing to revoke a visa to the U.S. that Mr. Abdulmutallab had obtained last June despite a later warning to U.S. consular officials from his own father that he was becoming radicalized and might have terror network ties; and second, in not adding him to a no-fly list from a lower-level watch list.Well, DUH. I suppose this doesn't need SAYING, but I'll say it anyway: self-defense is SELF-defense, not waiting and hoping for some faceless, clunky, slow, outpaced government bureaucracy to save you when push comes to shove, you're in a tough situation, and you have an opportunity to do something for yourself. Note new tag "rugged individualism." Anyhoo, as Steyn did just say,
The episode is a reminder that the fight against terrorism requires even more interagency cooperation, and Congress should investigate whether such communication was lacking in this case. No one should leap to conclusions about who is responsible for any mistakes, but Ms. Napolitano isn't reassuring when she utters happy talk that it all "went very smoothly." The day was saved not because of the antiterror "system" but because the explosive failed to ignite and because a Dutch passenger and flight attendants acted heroically to subdue the man, put out the fire and detach the explosive.
The lesson here is the same as Flight 93 on 9/11 and shoe-bomber Richard Reid, which is that civilians willing to act in their own self-defense are a crucial part of "homeland security." The willingness of passengers and crew to identify potential threats seems more useful than more onerous airport screening, which only gives terrorists the satisfaction of knowing they have made air travel even more unbearable. The new rule to keep passengers in their seats in the final hour of some flights seems all too typical of arbitrary rules that inconvenience innocents but not terrorists.
And remember, whatever new rules they pass about not using the bathroom in the last three hours of the flight, when you're sitting in seat 7B and the guy in 7C starts doing something goofy, the Federal Government won't be up there with you.If Napolitano really thinks that the "system works" when clearly so many balls were dropped, then she should be fired. More here. By the way, Ace of Spades, incandescent with rage, sarcastically gives the system the same grade that Obama gave himself: a B+.
Let's end with a shout-out to the heroic Dutch passenger who tackled the Pantybomber. I can't find his name yet, so I'll just call him "The Flying Dutchman" for now and raise a toast to him.
UPDATE 1: Great comment: "Once again, airline passengers 1, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) 0. And the response of the TSA? To further punish the passengers, of course. . . . What next? In addition to deshoeing ourselves, will we have to drop trou in security?"
UPDATE 2: Napolitano concedes to reality. Heh.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
The only one I haven't seen yet is "Avatar," and the Cine-Sib and I are going to watch it together this week. I saw "District 9" but didn't have time to write a review (short version: great flick but in too many places the "social message" is laid on with a trowel, and you know that I hate being preached at. Plus, was it me, or was it just a little reminiscent of "Alien Nation" with uglier aliens?)
IMHO, for sheer splashy fun, the best sci fi flick was JJ Abrams' "Star Trek" reboot, while I give the palm for performance to Sam Rockwell in "Moon."
Quote of the Day: Mark Steyn on Terrorism and the Self-Reliant Individual (Updated with the Pantybomber!)
It's true. Be such an individual. More from the Insta-Prof.On September 11th 2001, the government's (1970s) security procedures all failed, and the only good news of the day came from self-reliant citizens (on Flight 93) using their own wits and a willingness to act.On December 25th 2009, the government's (post-9/11) security procedures all failed, and the only good news came once again from alert individuals.
What we had was a failure of intelligence. Meanwhile, there are all sorts of new rumors and reports of more misery-inducing travel restrictions to be dumped on the rest of us. Heh. When the horse has already escaped, closing the barn door is a little pointless.
(I'm already annoyed since on the trip out of Nerdworld, TSA confiscated my brand-new bottle of Crabtree and Evelyn rosewater lotion -- that was expensive! -- even though it was fine and then frisked me. TWICE. And poked through all my stuff and made me go through the metal detector TWICE. Yeah, like hassling a miserable nerd is really going to do anything for air security. Not when people are dropping the ball elsewhere and letting mealymouthed political correctness and multiculturalist mewlings run roughshod everywhere.)
UPDATE 1: Steyn, you adorable wordsmith you. He's dubbed the would-be jihadist the Pantybomber. Next up in TSA security measures: as you are required to remove your shoes at the security point because of Richard Reid the Shoebomber, you will now ... Well, you fill in the blank here. *Snarky note to self: go by Victoria's Secret before flying back to Nerdworld.*
UPDATE 2: I looooove what Lileks has to say about the misery of being a passenger going through security:
On the flight back, we shuffled through the Comedy of Useless Shoe Removal (every time I take my shoes off I curse Richard Reid and all who spawned and sheltered him; if only there was a statue of the Shoe Bomber right there so you could hit it in the yarbles with your footwear before you put them back on) . . .UPDATE 3: Pretty much, yeah.
From the Washington Post:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il moved early this month to wipe out much of the wealth earned in the past decade in his country's private markets. As part of a surprise currency revaluation, the government sharply restricted the amount of old bills that could be traded for new and made it illegal for citizens to have more than $40 worth of local currency.
It was an unexplained decision -- the kind of command that for more than six decades has been obeyed without question in North Korea. But this time, in a highly unusual challenge to Kim's near-absolute authority, the markets and the people who depend on them pushed back.
Grass-roots anger and a reported riot in an eastern coastal city pressured the government to amend its confiscatory policy. Exchange limits have been eased, allowing individuals to possess more cash.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
An unintended consequence of making access to college an entitlement readily available to all high school graduates is that serious study in high school has become optional, even for those intending to go to college. Without an incentive to study diligently, many students are disengaged in high school and, as a result, underprepared for college. Some freshmen arrive at college thinking that having fun is the main reason they are at college and that the pursuit of knowledge should be available for when they have nothing better to do.All too sadly true.
Maybe I really DO have a sick sense of humor, but I thought these were just hilarious:
RELATED POST: Headshot Christmas cookies.
Hm, what would Teddy Roosevelt say? Here's an applicable TR quote:
I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat. God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle-aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men strictly accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well-being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on virtually everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God’s heavenly country club. Santa Claus is another matter. He’s cute. He's nonthreatening. He’s always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without thought of a quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he’s famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.Ha!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
For a term that we can use on this family-friendly blog, I give you "good idea fairy." Clearly the health care bill has its pernicious influence all over it. (Thanks to Foxtrot for alerting me to this word!)
" . . . I often got more attention than the other girls. It made me feel strange," Lou [Jing] said.RELATED POST: Ethnic tensions in South Korea. Also, racial chauvinism by Ma Ying-jeou.
The reality show hosts fondly called her "chocolate girl" and "black pearl." The Chinese media fixated on her skin color. Netizens flooded Web sites with comments saying she "never should have been born" and telling her to "get out of China."
. . . "She used to wonder why she had black skin," said one classmate. "We thought about this question together and decided to tell her it's because she likes dark chocolate. So her skin turned darker gradually."
Another classmate weighed in, "We said it's because she used to drink too much soy sauce."
Angels' wings are metaphorical! SYMBOLIC! They represent the angels' ability to travel far and wide in their office as messengers of God, and they're also symbolic of the sublimity of the angels themselves. St. John Chrysostom said all this back in the 4th century AD.
We're just used to seeing angels in art, where they look more or less the same -- like human beings with large wings. But it's really an artistic convention. It's iconography. NOBODY is really saying that angels actually have a particular kind of wing -- or even that they have a particular kind of anatomy (all right, except for that weird passage in Isaiah where he talks about seraphim with six wings singing near the throne of God).
Anyway, God save us from pedants!
Next up: how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? :-P
You never know whom you might run into in an airport, especially around the holidays! Not too long ago, I ran into Ted Nugent. (And the Motor City Madman is simply a lovely, nice fellow in person.)
OK, you can now (a) read some Steyn or (b) listen to The Nuge.
So what am I going to do away from Nerdworld? I'm going to the movies with the Cinema-Mad Sibling and some of our friends. On the to-view list for the holiday break:
- "The Princess and the Frog"
- "Sherlock Holmes"
- maybe "The Blind Side"
- and perhaps even "New Moon" with La Parisienne if we need a good laugh
I'm about to go to the mall, actually. Not because I need to do any shopping, but because I can and because it's rather fun to be out in the holiday hubbub when you don't have to shop! You can just enjoy the lights and decorations and window-shopping ...
Monday, December 21, 2009
So, as a little visual therapy for everybody, I give you two fabulous images of old-school Hollywood fashion glory from a bygone era when screen stars dressed with understated beauty, grace, and class. Today's trashy, flashy celebrities can't hold a candle to them.
For the gentlemen:
For the ladies:
Well, hey! Left, right, and center have all managed to agree on something. Everybody hates the health care "reform" bill! OK, so everybody hates it for different reasons, but the fact remains that this monstrosity has offended practically every kind of political sensibility.
(Meanwhile, I wonder if I should chalk up another "sign of the Apocalypse" because Howard Dean, the Daily Kos, and I actually agree. Yikes.)
This brings us to the quote of the day by Kathleen Parker:
. . . left and right finally have discovered a common foe. Too bad for the country that his name is Obama.Parker goes on to mumble something about feeling sorry for Obama. Really? This is, you know, what happens when you bite off more than you can chew: you CHOKE. I am heartless and cruel, so I feel no great sympathy. You wanted the highest office in the land, and now you got it. All of it. Did you think it was going to be a cakewalk? (I have to admit, though, that watching the floundering, the weird jumble of apparent arrogance and ignorance, and the slow maddening drip-drip-drip of gaffes, errors, and missteps, is now officially excruciating.)
UPDATE: More here.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Preach it, Mark! Here's a hilarious bit of it:
Even making allowances for the stupidity of youthful idealism, the protesters in the streets of Copenhagen seem especially obtuse. Far from sticking it to the Man, they're cheerleading for the biggest Man of all: they're supporting a new globalized feudalism in which Prince Charles, Prince Al [Gore], Prince Rajendra and others "very high up in climate change" jet around the world at public expense telling the rest of us we need to stay put.I think these misguided fools can be called "useful idiots." More thoughts here.
A British parliamentarian recently proposed that everyone be issued with an annual "carbon allowance" that would be drawn down every time he booked a flight, or filled up his car, or bought a washer and dryer instead of beating his laundry on the rocks down by the river with the village women every week. You think the Prince of Wales or any other member of the new global elite will be subject to that "allowance"? If you're young and you fall for this, you're a sap. Indeed, you're oozing so much sap the settled scientists should be measuring your tree rings.
Anyway, as the Insta-Prof often says, I'll believe there's a crisis when the people saying that there's a crisis actually behave as though there's a crisis. Copenhagen turned in a traffic jam of private jets and limousines, all of which produced as much carbon as a small country. The oh-so-concerned Gaia-lovers and profiteering climate hustlers could have just stayed home and tele-conferenced, couldn't they? We have the technology for that. But noooooooooooo. There's no publicity and self-congratulatory prancing about for the cameras there.
OK, and one more example, since it's lunchtime and I'm starting to get hungry. Remember how a bunch of eco-fanatics keep howling that we should all stop eating meat because it's bad for the planet or whatever? Well, 10,000 chickens and 5 tons of fish died to feed the enviro-elite at Copenhagen. How "green" is that? The only things sillier than the eco-calyptic predictions spewed by the Green cultists are their utter rampant hypocrisy and total lack of self-awareness. WATERMELONS!
UPDATE 1: Look at this British response: "let’s toast the negotiators of Copenhagen. By failing so spectacularly, they have presented us with a wonderful Christmas present." Cheers!
UPDATE 2: And this about the eco-politicians' contempt for the people:
If you want a "green revolution" – and the evidence suggests that you don't – it must truly be from the bottom up. This Government's strategy – to sneer at the doubters – is doomed, not only because doubt is the cornerstone of democracy but because, on this specific issue, the doubters are in the majority. Copenhagen marked the end of an era: it demonstrated the poverty and self-regard of elite politics, the introspection and self-congratulation of a political class still in love with itself because nobody else will love it. The lesson of 2009, from duck houses to green summits, was that that kind of politics is dead, and a new kind is needed. Any ideas? Meanwhile: Happy Christmas.UPDATE 3: Schadenfreude alert! Oh, the sweet sound of exploding watermelons! Oh, the bitter tears of our enemies! The whole Kyopenhagen/Nopenhagen/Dopenhagen/Gropenhagen farce might have been worth it just to see the extreme Greenies' temper tantrums at the end. Plus, one of these days I'll maybe write a post about how this whole eco-cult thing is, at its heart of darkness, actually pretty darn inhumane and even flat-out racist -- it's happy to let the developing world stew indefinitely in poverty and toil in the name of Gaia. It might as well come out and say, "Sure, all the First World nations have electricity and sanitation and the basic tech that make life easier, but by golly we can't let you poor Africans/Indians/etc. have such things because that will destroy the earth! So go on living short painful lives of crushing toil and misery, you guys. Here we'll drive our Priuses and drink our soy Fair Trade cappuccinos in a haze of self-congratulatory eco-virtue while you can go on cooking your meager meals over open fires and suffering heat, cold, darkness, disease, and poverty. Gaia's a BEEYOTCH."
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I give you a taste of it with Part 1 (of 7). Go especially to about the 6:46 mark.
I leave you with just one example of the magnificent verbal venom of the review as a whole. From the beginning of Part 2: "It's almost mind-boggling how complex the awfulness is."
I haven't had this much fun with "Star Wars" since this gloriously mangled retelling of the original.
Note: the reviewer also has an entire series of video reviews of the Next Generation "Star Trek" movies, and they are well worth your time. I watched a bunch of them late last night (instead of working on my research, natch) and laughed until I almost cried.
UPDATE: OK, I can't help myself. You have GOT to see this part of the review. Go to 6:30 onward for the best critique of action-versus-substance that I've ever seen. Bravo!
"Light saber duels have less to do with the fight itself, and but more so with the internalization of the characters."
Friday, December 18, 2009
Many students have been led to believe by their state-loving profs, as well as by many elementary and secondary school educators who preceded them, that the government must always be granted whatever it needs to accomplish its objectives, regardless of the costs involved. Now these collegians have discovered that the government is not their presumptive friend and will eventually turn on them if not reined in.Heh!
. . . My goodness, students are even engaging in anti-tax and anti-spending protests like the tea partiers they’ve been taught to despise. What’s more, they’re coming up with constructive, cost-saving ideas of their own. Perhaps during all of this the kids will meet up with patriotic everyday Americans who will impart important lessons about how free markets and limited government are supposed to work. These are lessons that they more than likely won’t learn or even hear about at their institutions of so-called higher learning. They might also come to understand that what Pittsburgh is attempting is a mere microcosm of what Social Security has been doing to the young people of America for decades.
Friday Fun Video and Satire Alert: "Internet Archaeologist Discovers Ruins of 'Friendster' Civilization."
Internet Archaeologists Find Ruins Of 'Friendster' Civilization
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Link xie-xie to the Cine-Sib, who emailed to me with great excitement this morning. La Parisienne, this is especially for you.
Oh, check out the Pepper Potts kiss (it's not what you might think!), and here's a great quote from the trailer, from Tony to a slimy Congressman wanting to confiscate the Iron Man suit: "You want my property? You can't have it!"
I think I'm in love. Very libertarian love. *hugs the Fourth Amendment since can't hug Tony*
UPDATE: Analyzing the trailer!
Here's a case study of identity politics in South Korea, where mixed-blood children are facing some problems fitting into Korean society. And by "mixed-blood" I'm talking about, for instance, half-Korean/half-Vietnamese.
OK, to be perfectly frank here: there is a perceived social-ethnic-regional hierarchy in Asia. I'll just leave it at that before I offend even more people by telling you what groups (and groups-within-groups) rank where. Some groups are very hostile to "outsiders," and sometimes the racism/ethnic-ism can be pretty vicious. The most cursory glance at history will tell you that the continent is soaked with yellow-on-yellow violence (where shades of yellow, actual and metaphorical, matter). At other times, the prejudices are less blatant but still present in different degrees, such as whispers ("She married a . . . Malay" ) and glances and things like "My folks would rather me marry a white guy before a Japanese." There was a kerfuffle some years ago when a family acquaintance married someone with an aboriginal background, for instance.
And in case you're wondering: yes, we can tell. This seems to baffle a lot of non-Asians. "He's Japanese. She's Korean. He's Vietnamese. She's Filipino." "You mean you can tell just by looking?" "Well, yeah. You mean you can't?" An addendum: this is more easily done in Asia itself. In the States, sometimes it's a bit harder to tell on sight. In the case of half-Asian/half-Caucasian people, I for one can't tell what the Asian half is.
OK, I'll say it before someone else does. The old joke is basically, "All you guys kind of look alike." *Sigh.*
Salami battle in supermarket leaves Germans in hospital:Oh, my!
Two Germans needed hospital treatment after they fought a pitched battle in a supermarket with salamis used as clubs and a chunk of Parmesan cheese brandished like a dagger.
And NO, I do NOT apologize for making the atrocious wordplay of both military history and food.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
UPDATE: This might answer the question of whether coconuts migrate.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Oops, Tim seems to have taken his cue from another Aussie:
UPDATE: See this great combination of green-tinted Kipling and Al Gore eco-poetry!
The biggest opponents of a broad, sweeping international agreement aren't business but poor countries because they know they cannot afford the green man's burden.
It is why attempts to get the Indian and Chinese governments to take on significant emissions reduction targets will fail because there's no choice between two weeks of criticism from the 20-strong Australian Youth Climate Coalition delegates, against a lifetime of criticism from the billions of people who have to live with the consequences.The tragedy of Copenhagen is that the impact of any agreement on the world's poor has largely been lost among the self-indulgent circus caused by rich country green activists who'd rather see themselves on television back home.
I'm delighted to see Joss Whedon's fantastic "Serenity" make the list, too. I have reviews online for "Moon," "Star Trek," and "Wall-E."
UPDATE: Another list: 20 best sci-fi flicks of the decade, including "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man" on the basis of technology.
Note to just every young taxpayer of my generation: We're all pretty much screwed.
On a personal rant ... I'm totally frustrated. Like almost everybody else I know, I have some school debt, and like plenty of my peers, I'm paying all my own bills and living expenses on my own. I'm trying to to pay off that school debt, and I'm trying to save as many pennies as I can ... which aren't a lot of pennies because the cost of living is high and so is the level of taxation in Nerdworld. I'm barely scraping by, and I am frankly flabbergasted at the loopy government that wants to "save" money by spending more of it and enacting measures that will cost the taxpayer ever more money. A vast percentage of my paycheck goes into the government pocket, and in the case of Social Security, I'll never see it again. JUST HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO EVEN THINK ABOUT SAVING FOR MY FUTURE? I'm too busy paying FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S PRESENT. Never mind me even thinking about retirement -- I'll probably be working until I die. I'm too busy paying for other people's retirement. How am I ever going to support a young family of my own? Then I realize that in the Ponzi scheme-tastic universe of huge and increasing government entitlements, my "future" is basically the same as "working myself to exhaustion forever just to pay taxes and other people's bills and programs." It's like death by a thousand paper cuts.
Anyway, since I support myself and actually pay taxes, I apparently count as "rich" and can expect to pay ever more confiscatory taxes to support a system that basically rewards the parasites and slackers and special interests busy suckling at the government teat. I'll tell you this too: despite all the good press it gets from pie-eyed utopian-minded fools, socialism is a morally irresponsible and horribly inhumane approach to life. In it, people want their government-guaranteed goodies and couldn't care less that it's their own children who will be utterly impoverished.
It's time and past time to take this to the ballot box. Get out of the way, Fedzilla, you sticky-fingered, money-guzzling government beast!
Dr Dave Reay, a world-renowned expert on carbon emissions, has calculated that filter coffees pump 50 per cent more carbon into the atmosphere than cheaper instant coffees.I have a reply: "YOU FIRST."
And he says that ditching expensive filter coffees could help reduce your carbon footprint by the same amount as a gas-guzzling flight across Europe.
Dr Reay, a senior lecturer in carbon management at Edinburgh University, claims that the average cup of black filter coffee is responsible for 125 grams of carbon emissions. But the figure for a regular cup of black instant coffee is around 80g.
As awesome Aussie Tim Blair sarcastically comments about this in context with a bunch of other "do this or the Earth will die!" directives from the enviro-fringe: "Dull lights, slow cars, no meat … and rubbish coffee. Greentopia will be such a fun place to live."
So far this morning, I've already added 250 grams of coffee carbon to the earth, and I'M JUST GETTING STARTED. If loving coffee is wrong, then I don't want to be right. Sure, Greenies, you can have my good coffee ... when you pry it out of my cold, dead hand!
Monday, December 14, 2009
In a December 2008 working paper, Andrew Mountford of the University of London and Harald Uhlig of the University of Chicago apply state-of-the-art statistical tools to United States data to compare the effects of deficit-financed spending, deficit-financed tax cuts and tax-financed spending. They report that “deficit-financed tax cuts work best among these three scenarios to improve G.D.P.”Well, DUH. One more thing: tax HIKES during a recession are a bad idea, no?
My Harvard colleagues Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna have recently conducted a comprehensive analysis of the issue. In an October study, they looked at large changes in fiscal policy in 21 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They identified 91 episodes since 1970 in which policy moved to stimulate the economy. They then compared the policy interventions that succeeded — that is, those that were actually followed by robust growth — with those that failed.
The results are striking. Successful stimulus relies almost entirely on cuts in business and income taxes. Failed stimulus relies mostly on increases in government spending.
All these findings suggest that conventional models leave something out. A clue as to what that might be can be found in a 2002 study by Olivier Blanchard and Roberto Perotti. (Mr. Perotti is a professor at Boccini University in Milano, Italy; Mr. Blanchard is now chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.) They report that “both increases in taxes and increases in government spending have a strong negative effect on private investment spending. This effect is difficult to reconcile with Keynesian theory.”These studies point toward tax policy as the best fiscal tool to combat recession, particularly tax changes that influence incentives to invest, like an investment tax credit.
On the soundtrack: "I Hate Myself For Loving You."
It's nice to see people have a sense of humor. Hail the Shatner and Sarah!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The whole thing reads like a crazy dystopian sci-fi novel. In any other era, such spoutings of crazy would be dismissed as the words of an utter nutter. But in the age of climate change hysteria, it seems right in line with the extreme power grabs that watermelons all seem to dream of.
FYI, you Greenie crackpot: China's been doing that, and it's turned into a mess of oppression and human rights outrages. And China's still polluting away like mad. Plus, the one-child policy is causing a demographic disaster that even the Chinese are acknowledging.
PS: Ever heard of demographics? There's a little detail called "replacement rate."
N.B.: What do I mean by "watermelon"? Loopy enviro-fanatics who are green on the outside, Commie red on the inside, and seedy all the way through. If you listen long enough to the Green fanatics, you'll realize they are all in favor of draconian big-government measures of a totalitarian stripe. Back in the day, the rallying cry was Marxist-Leninist howls about class struggle and such; now it's about "saving the earth." Whatever. The determination to seize power and wield it over the heads of everybody else is still the same desire of totalitarian utopians everywhere.
You know, there's something weirdly appropriate about zombies and exam time. Everyone needs/wants/is in search of BRAAAAAAAINS!!!!!!!
For even more zombie fun, click on the "zombies" blog tag, natch.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I'll go out on a limb and guess that it's from South Korea too.
“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
or what's a heaven for?”
~ from "Andrea del Sarto" by Robert Browning
I want to hold your hand.
Consumer choices not only reflect price and quality preferences but also social and moral values as witnessed in the remarkable growth of the global market for organic and environmentally friendly products. Building on recent research on behavioral priming and moral regulation, we find that mere exposure to green products and the purchase of them lead to markedly different behavioral consequences. In line with the halo associated with green consumerism, people act more altruistically after mere exposure to green than conventional products. However, people act less altruistically and are more likely to cheat and steal after purchasing green products as opposed to conventional products. Together, the studies show that consumption is more tightly connected to our social and ethical behaviors in directions and domains other than previously thought.La Parisienne and Count Chockula (formerly Il Barista) and I have been making fun of the whole "morally superior" shopping phenomenon for years now. This new study is only going to make us continue with even greater gusto!
On another note, there is nobody you should avoid as much as someone who thinks he (or even more, she) is morally better than you are. There will be absolutely no limit to his/her nagging, finger-wagging, and attempts to bully and coerce and compel you, the morally inferior scum of the earth.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Call them "Twilight Moms" or whatever, but there's something really disturbing about their obsession with Edward Cullen. La Parisienne and I have talked about this, and I'm now amused to see that we're not alone. Take a look at this:
I just want to say, that is the hottest thing I've seen all day, a man who reads! Plus he's reading Kill Bin Laden! (By the way, doesn't the author have a terrifically manly and appropriate name for such a book? It's Dalton FURY.)
Anyway, this well-reviewed book is on my personal list to things to read. You might want to give it a glance too.
Current non-class-related reading: David Faber's Munich, 1938: Appeasement and World War II (Simon and Schuster, 2009). Now you just KNOW I'm a nerd if, in order to take a break from school work about history, I'm reading another part of history. I recommend the Faber book too.
My stance on the whole issue hasn't changed at all: I want Taiwan armed like a porcupine. A porcupine that has subs too. Bring on a new US-Taiwan arms deal! Time is of the essence, as it always is.
Oh, and what song am I listening to right now? The "Imperial March" from the "Star Wars" soundtrack. Heck, YEAH. I am in a NASTY mood. Next up: "Mercy" by Duffy. The only place mercy has during exam time is in a song list, because I don't believe in giving it or getting it on exam papers.
UPDATE: Am now on "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC. The Nerd Lords would be horrified, probably.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I'm up to my eyeballs in work, so that should totally explain why I'm moaning about it on this blog and procrastinating! What the heck, I'll be up all night no matter what happens. Anyway, I thought I'd throw in something fun to share. I give you both a blast from the past and the nerdiest, geekiest TV action hero of all, the fellow who's always made me feel better because he uses his brain to get out of sticky situations -- and once prevented a nuclear meltdown with chocolate. (No, really!) I give you the hero of technophiliacs, nerds, and geeks of a certain age everywhere. I give you the one and only:
OK, I can't help it. IT'S RAINING BEARS! HALLELUJAH!
The teddy bears are collected and given to children's hospitals and other charities. The whole "teddy bear toss at ice hockey games" has gone international; see this nice little mini-documentary from Hungary.
Greek tragedy in the eurozone? Well, some of the same elements seem to be present -- hubris, atë, anagnorisis, peripateia, nemesis ... (Hey, I still remember something from my literature classes!)