Saturday, October 31, 2009
BONUS: Reference to the spinoff 2005 movie "Serenity" ("Didn't you wear that five years ago?") and musical cues that are fantastically evocative. You can't take the sky from me! See Hyacinth Girl on this too. La Parisienne and I are just ecstatic to see the return, however brief, of Captain Tightpants. We need to throw a Halloween shindig and invite everybody.
BONUS 2: I heard the nerdtastic rumor that there's another "Firefly" Easter egg in the scene. On the bookcase on the left of the screen, there's the mechanical spaceship part that plays such a pivotal role in the episode "Out of Gas" -- the part that doesn't seem important until you need it.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Besides, we all need something to amuse us until new episodes of "Burn Notice" arrive in January. ("MICHAEL! The coffeemaker's broken!")
Getting hideously drunk at a dinner party and embarrassing yourself is certainly nothing new. As far back as the 9th Century, the beautifully named 'Dunhuang Bureau of Etiquette' insisted that local officials use the following letter template (dated 856) when sending apologies to offended dinner hosts. The guilty party would copy the template text, enter the dinner host's name, sign the letter and then deliver with head bowed.Awesome.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
For the ladies, there's adorable nerd Chuck Bartowski, played by Zachary Levi, and for the gents, CIA agent (and blonde bombshell) Sarah Walker, played by Yvonne Strahovski. Enjoy, gentle readers!
Now I hear THIS. *MM's head explodes.* Yo, Holder, ever heard of freedom of speech? I am increasingly NOT IMPRESSED with this administration's attitude toward people saying things that they don't like.
Listen, if I really did live my life the way they wanted me to, it wouldn't be a life worth living, and I might as well lemming myself off a cliff and put myself out of my misery. Then it'd be one less human being tormenting Gaia with her carbon footprint ... Hey, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaait a minute!
Anyway, the latest eco-guilt trip is hot showers. I'm totally not listening. NOBODY is going to tell me how to take a shower, for Pete's sake. It's almost winter here in Nerdworld. What kind of nutcase takes cold showers in the winter? I pay for my utility and water bills, and that means I pay for my hot showers. SO BACK OFF.
Hey, eco-fanatics! Here's a wee message:
"Get out of my shower!"
Eco-fanatics: even scarier than Norman Bates.
~Congressman Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) has a shout-out to Confucius. By the way, happy 2560th birthday to Confucius.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Look, when everyone has a college degree because that degree's been watered down, then guess what? That degree means nothing. The bachelor's degree is already -- at this moment -- practically meaningless, just like a high school diploma means nothing and can't even guarantee that its holder is ready for college-level studies or knows basic math and language skills.
You will remember a previous post on overselling higher ed in the UK and its predictable consequences. You'll also recall the toxic nexus between government meddling in education and the cost and quality of things (in a nutshell: the more government meddling, the higher the cost and the lower the quality). Social engineering on campus, my darlings, is idiotic.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
So we are clear: A prominent University censored content from a book based on the opinions of experts who had not read the book in question.Argh. These days craven, supine intellectual and moral cowardice reigns supreme as long as it masquerades as "cultural sensitivity" or some claptrap like that.
Monday, October 26, 2009
The brand-new Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Library of Manga and Subculture will partially open October 31 at Meiji University. The massive collection will include some 140,000 comic books -- errr ... I mean, graphic novels! -- and some of those date from the World War II era or even earlier.
By the time the entire manga library is complete in 2015, it will hold 2 million comic books, drawings, and other cartoon artifacts. Wow!
I'm actually not being flippant (OK, not entirely flippant) when I tag this "Great Moments in Research." Manga is a big part of pop culture both Japanese and now abroad, so it's only fitting to try to give it the full academic treatment. Call it "cultural studies." And now we needn't feel too guilty when we run off to indulge in a bit of it.
Oh, and there's also the Kyoto International Manga Museum.
That John F. Kennedy could go to Germany and be “a Berliner” told you all you needed to know about that Democratic administration. That Barack Obama won’t do so now sadly tells you all you need to know about the current one.Not good. Then again, I've been criticizing Obama's laughable "foreign policy" for a long time. To the Kennedy visit, you can add the Reagan visit with that awesome "tear down this wall!" speech. Like at Jericho, the walls did come tumbling down in 1989 in a massive victory for freedom. I watched the walls fall on TV, and I was just a schoolgirl, but I was so happy I actually cried ... and I'm a heartless warmongering right-wing racist nutjob who hates people and has no soul, remember?
It's absolutely disgraceful that now the president of the United States won't bother to go to the 20th anniversary celebrations -- especially since he did bother to go cheerlead (uselessly, by the way) for Chicago for those stupid Olympics. The end of the Cold War was one of the finest moments for the West in the 20th century, and it came after a long slog indeed. We're going to mark it on MM Blog even if our increasingly ludicrous leader can't seem to grant the event its due respect and honor. Yes, I said "ludicrous" -- in no small part because, ever since the campaign trail, he's shown an appalling ignorance of history, much less any true appreciation for it as anything other than one more shiny flourish in his rhetorical bag of tricks. Remember this?
I'm ranting now, so I might as well say it: Heck, Berlin was good enough for Obama to spout pretty speeches in last year when he was just a candidate trying to prove how glossy and lovable he was on the international stage, when Berlin could do something for him ... but now there's no personal benefit or aggrandizement, so I guess Berlin's off the list? What? Pfffffffffft. Doesn't anybody else find this juxtaposition a little ... odd? Narcissism as foreign policy? Anyway, is he sending Hillary to Berlin instead? Joe Biden? Geez, I hope it's not that walking malapropism Biden! HOPECHANGE!
Uh-oh. Sounds like a toxic combination of political correctness and identity politics. The Insta-Prof says that the new appeal of the (rotten, fascist fringe) BNP is born of lousy mainstream politics. I'd say so.
By smearing as racist everyone concerned with illegal immigration and the overboard tolerance for radical Islam, the British left is desensitizing everyone to the legitimate charge when it is directed at the BNP. People think, “Well, I’m concerned about illegal immigration, Islamists, the white poor, etc., and I’m not a racist so maybe the BNP isn’t either.” The overuse of the left’s catch-all denunciation deprives it of meaning and force. People may simply stop listening to the left’s warnings because they’ve so many times labeled people with legitimate concerns as racist. By their own narcissism, self-righteousness and contempt, the left is actively driving people to fascist solutions just as their more radical ideological ancestors did back in the 1920s.Worse, entire generations of Britons have been conditioned to believe that the state has a moral obligation to care for them cradle-to-grave. It is a short step from there to the belief that the government has a moral obligation to care for native Britons first and foremost before all others.
. . . If the mainstream parties cannot [or, perhaps, will not -- MM] address the real concerns of many Britons, and if they cannot at least pretend to respect and value lower-income white Britons, then Britain may be only one ugly incident away from a political seismic shift. A major native Islamic terrorist attack or an immigrant riot might be all it takes to push Britain over the edge. Other European nations are at risk as well, for the same reasons. Screaming accusations at absolutely everyone even mildly opposed to far-left ideas isn’t a substitute for effective policies that address the concerns of the people. If a liberal order cannot provide economic and physical security, a population conditioned to see state power as the solution to all problems can slide into authoritarianism almost overnight.
(OK, China and the US are on the list too. I'm really amused, though, at the photo chosen for the US page. Ted Nugent? China gets riot police in its photo, but we get the Motor City Madman himself!)
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Yeah, yeah, I know it only got 44% at RottenTomatoes, but I don't care. "Night at the Museum" (2006) is lighthearted, silly, fluffy, escapist nerd fun with history, and I love it. It's a nerd kid's fantasy: at night in the museum, all the exhibits come to life and wreak all sorts of merry havoc. What a great idea, no?
Besides, this flick has a lot of talent in it -- 3 generations of comic talent from Dick van Dyke and Mickey Rooney to Robin Williams to Ben Stiller and his perpetual sidekick Owen Wilson.
If you're in the mood for a little playful fun, you could do much worse than "Night at the Museum." It won't win any Oscars, and it doesn't quite live up to its great potential, but it has some fun moments and some delightful characters. Check out Steve Coogan as Octavius the tiny Roman general, Owen Wilson as Jedediah from the Old West, Robin Williams as the boisterous Teddy Roosevelt ("Bully!"), and -- of course -- Rexie the dinosaur.
MM gives this movie a solid B for fun entertainment that also encourages an interest in history. Bonus: there were a few parts of the flick that made me laugh out loud, including one hilarious throwaway line by Jedediah referring to another movie.
Nerd Note: the Carla Gugino character says that she's been working on her dissertation for four years and that it's 900 pages long. GET REAL! What kind of goofy grad school is she in? My Nerd Lords would have my head if I said I wanted four years (and 900 pages) for the diss!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Fall looks all pretty, doesn't it? And it is . . . for about 5 seconds. Then it starts raining (a LOT) and the magic's gone. I'm sitting here with my coffee on a gray, cold, windy, rainy October morning, and it is just nasty and depressing outside! I don't like fall mainly because it's a sure-fire, undeniable sign that winter is coming, and I have an incurable case of cold-o-phobia.
Given all this, pretty soon even having a work ethic will be a liability!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I do really like Milton Friedman's piquant (and very quotable) opinion of Rand as "an utterly intolerant and dogmatic person who did a great deal of good."
For me, Rand reinforced rather than gave me my convictions. I was already sympathetic to libertarian ideas when I first read Rand, and I found Atlas Shrugged both a thrillingly comforting and mentally invigorating read. One of Rand's greatest contributions in that book (and, I suppose, through her work overall) is her celebration of the individual and his/her talents, skills, and potential, and also her bracingly clear articulation of the noxious (and unfortunately popular) idea that the individual must always yield to some vague collective demand in the name of the "good" of the collective -- even to the great personal detriment of the individual. As for the role of an overweening, all-consuming, all-intrusive, morally misguided government in the destruction of its own country and people, well, I don't really have to elaborate, do I?
Anyhoo, I'll readily tell you that I'm a great part libertarian, though I won't go as far as to say that I'm a pure Objectivist.
Here is a fresh look on this government-caused monetary morass. Look, this is one of MM's Laws of Life -- If some government stooges start spouting pie-eyed garbage about social engineering, then hang onto your wallets, folks.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
"Despite the easing of tensions across the Strait, China has not reduced its military deployment targeting Taiwan," the defence ministry said in its annual report.WELL, DUH, PEOPLE! See too what View From Taiwan has to say.
"China has continued its arms build-up to the point that it has tipped the military balance in the Taiwan Strait," the report said, referring to China's inventory of 1,500 ballistic and cruise missiles.
See what William Marshal said to his fellow knights in 1205 when King John singled him out for royal anger:
Be on alert against the king: what he thinks to do with me, he will do to each and every one of you, or even more, if he gets the upper hand.Hear, hear!
Check out this awesome report on the "No More Che Day" demonstration at the University of Florida from a few weeks back (yes, I totally missed it -- oops).
Sir David Gore-Booth, leaving India in 1998, wrote: "One of the great failures of the diplomatic service has been its inability to cast off its image as bowler-hatted, pin-striped and chinless, with a fondness for champagne."Hilarious!
At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.
That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and nondemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West and to encourage liberalization by drawing attention to dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and those in the Soviet gulag — and the millions in China’s laogai, or labor camps.
When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.
Read the whole thing.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Oh, and while we're at it, let's frivolously, gratuitously, and needlessly cold-shoulder our German allies on an anniversary that brought freedom to millions. Pffffft.
You know, it's just not fair. I may fantasize about doing some real physical violence to the horribly cute mouthless cartoon cat . . . I may wonder how some old-fashioned medieval disemboweling might be applied to an attempt to eradicate the demonic Hello Kitty. But now comes this awful proof that even there she can unleash the terror of cuteness. Will no one rid us of this turbulent feline?!
A quick look at the Japanese-language turf on the Internet turns up few examples, but one in particular is meaningful. I found it as an entry dated 22 September in a collection of slang and modern usage put together by the Japanese Teachers’ Network in Kitakyushu. Here’s what they write:Oh, my!
obamu: (v.) To ignore inexpedient and inconvenient facts or realities, think “Yes we can, Yes we can,” and proceed with optimism using those facts as an inspiration (literally, as fuel). It is used to elicit success in a personal endeavor. One explanation holds that it is the opposite of kobamu. (拒む, which means to refuse, reject, or oppose).
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."Here's a fascinating article to go with it. I give you a blurb from it:
In his new book, the Boston-based civil liberties advocate and occasional Reason contributor Harvey Silverglate estimates that in 2009, the average American commits about three federal felonies per day. And yet, we aren’t a nation of degenerates. On the contrary, most social indicators have been moving in a positive direction for a generation. Silverglate argues we're committing these crimes unwittingly. The federal criminal code has become so vast and open to interpretation, Silverglate argues, that a U.S. Attorney can find a way to charge just about anyone with violating federal law. In fact, it's nearly impossible for some business owners to comply with one federal regulation without violating another one. We're no longer governed by laws, we're governed by the whims of lawyers.Argh. We are SO over-regulated, and it's about to get worse.
Monday, October 19, 2009
So who's ranked #1? Ukraine's Yulia Tymoshenko (she does have faaaaaabulous hair and skin).
Who's ranked last of all? North Korea's Kim Jong-Il.
Take a look at the list and find your favorite politicians.
Oh, and check out this blog by blogfriend James Chen.
Chairman Mao was a tyrant, dictator, and bloody murderer who openly slaughtered or caused the deaths or oppression of millions of Chinese. He plunged his entire nation into a miserable wallow of death, starvation, terror, and blood, all under the iron fist of the rulers -- an iron fist that remains to this day. He is NOT a hero, and you are clearly an useful idiot of the first degree to think so and, even more, to declare it in public. You should be ashamed of yourself, if not for your fatuous ignorance or willful ignoring of history, then for insulting -- and indeed trampling on -- the memory of every single person who died or suffered because of the monster named Mao.
I know that you now claim that you were joking. If you were, then your behavior is even more deplorable and reprehensible than I'd previously thought.
Dear Mr. President, it is time to throw Ms. Dunn under the bus like you've done to so many others of your increasingly shabby entourage.
PS: Don't you find it rather thought-provoking that tiny Taiwan is doing a better job of preserving traditional Chinese culture? Writing sytems aside, you can thank your stars that all those treasures of art reside in the National Palace Museum in Taipei; they would surely have been destroyed in the orgy of government-sponsored stupidity known as the Cultural Revolution.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Anyway, I'm a professional nerd and campus-critter. And I can tell you that I have seen, heard, and experienced PLENTY of intelligent (even brilliant) people do PLENTY of really stupid things.
A new kind of portable electrochemical battery that can produce thousands of hours of power - and soon replace the expensive regular or rechargeable batteries in hearing aids and sensors and eventually in cellphones, laptop computers and even electric cars - has been developed at Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
The unique battery is based on silicon as a fuel that reverts to its original sand. The battery can also be left on the shelf for years and inserted into a device to provide immediate power.
It was developed over the last two-and-a-half years by Prof. Yair Ein-Eli of the Technion's materials engineering department, with collaboration by Prof. Digby Macdonald of Pennsylvania State University in the US and Prof. Rika Hagiwara of Kyoto University in Japan.
The work was conducted with a grant from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and an article on the battery was just published in the journal Electrochemistry Communications.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
You may remember this previous (and still sadly relevant) rant. For all my various rants and posts about the increasingly ludicrous price tag of education (that rises higher every time the government meddles!), click on the "cost of education" tag.
Also, read this related post in case you're in any way confused about how the Cold War ended. Then you can think about people like Lech Walesa, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and everyone else famous and not-famous who helped.
Heck, it's as if some people are embarrassed that FREEDOM WON. Would you really rather live under Soviet rule and behind the Iron Curtain, where Marxism led to totalitarianism? Give me a break. Read Solzhenitsyn or The Black Book of Communism. Then read this.
Selling advertising space in thesisLOL!
Critiquing Foucault's Discipline And Punish on street corner for spare change
Monday, October 12, 2009
To justify its monopoly on power, the Chinese technocracy relies on the promise of order and constant economic growth, and the claim of patriotism. Supporting the government is patriotic, and criticism is unpatriotic or, if voiced by foreigners, "anti-Chinese."Hear, hear!
But in the end, the greatest flaw in the system is that China's boring rulers are self-perpetuating. They cannot be punished by the ruled for their incompetence. Great blunders go unchecked. Conflicts of interest fester or erupt in violence. China's technocracy might well look stable and successful for a while to come, but it is unlikely to last without basic political reform. Some think the new wave of technocrats, the ones who went to Harvard or Yale, can bring this about themselves. One never knows. But as long as they haven't, I'd still put my money on messy democracy any day.
Read the whole thing. I offer the opinion that the autocracy isn't that soft. Ask a dissident. Or an exploited farmer in the Chinese hinterland. Or a Tibetan.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Gone are the hot breakfasts in most dorms and the pastries at Widener Library. Varsity athletes are no longer guaranteed free sweat suits, and just this week came the jarring news that professors will go without cookies at faculty meetings.*MM begins to sarcastically play the sympathy violin.*
Boo hoo! No cookies! Yeah, people are losing their jobs all over the country, and those poor, downtrodden Harvard professors have to give up their free cookies. Waaaaahhhh!
Of course, this will cause mass panic among starving, impoverished grad students, since we rush to scrounge the leftover cookies from such faculty meetings. Yes, grad students are like hyenas and vultures. Yes, we were doing this even before the financial apocalypse!
OK, I've been dying to use the following image for a really long time. No cookies??? Cookie Monster is NOT pleased! (Slight language alert.)
Friday, October 09, 2009
OK, this is darn funny. Larger version here.
Personally, I think the absolutely most implausible scientist is that nuclear physicist played by Denise Richards in "The World Is Not Enough." She wasn't that good of a Bond Girl either, for that matter!
Jessica Alba as Sue Storm in "Fantastic Four" was pretty bad too, actually...
Our obligation is to treat China as a partner as we determine together the way the world will work in the future. If we treat China as our equal, China can be our economic, political and cultural ally.O RLY? I frankly don't see that we are OBLIGATED to do any such thing, as though nations that actually care about human rights and freedom can deal as full equals with nations who blatantly don't. And I wonder what Mr. Blair is smoking these days if he really thinks China can actually be "our economic, political and cultural ally." We can't even get Beijing to support sanctions of even worse nations like Iran. Beijing isn't constrained by the same namby-pamby self-imposed chains of multicultural guilt that the free West has. No, Beijing's busy looking out for itself and its own interests, and it couldn't give a flying dumpling what anybody else thinks.
Ally? Frenemy's more like it.
Or, even better, THIS:
But increasingly, there is an interest in and reverence for China's ancient civilization as well as its post-1949 transformation. Confucius, the marvels of the Tang dynasty, calligraphy, the beauty of traditional Chinese painting and literature—all of this infuses the speeches, commentary and discourse of contemporary Chinese life. Chinese films, art, fashion and pop music are thriving. There is a new Cultural Revolution taking place in 21st century China, and it is a lot healthier than the old.Sure, everyone's all over the moon with calligraphy and Confucius and Chinese history, blah blah blah. But that's OLD history we're talking about. More recent history like -- um, let me see, can I think of an example? Think, MM, think! Ooh yes -- THE TIANANMEN SQUARE MASSACRE are still off-limits. I'm sure Fang Zheng can educate you on the matter.
Mr. Blair's piece sounds too much like every other superficial, easily awed "analysis" by pie-eyed Westerners who happily believe whatever shiny propaganda Beijing's spinning for them. Add a dash of "yellow fever," eh?
You want to think about 60 years of the CCP lording it over China? Read this.
*There is something in my eye!*
Welcome, sir, and best wishes for a better future.
So, kids, if you want a prize of your own, you now have yet another strategy for getting it, aside from such tactics as "killing people and then stopping for a while, making speeches, and then going back to killing people" (Arafat) or "making a lot of hypocritical noise about the earth and showing a boring PowerPoint presentation full of polar bears and scary charts" (Gore). Now you can "do nothing real but yap a lot about yourself while sounding and looking good doing so" (Obama). Talk about declining standards! By this measure, poor Mother Teresa got her prize the hard way by "working tirelessly in miserable conditions for most of her life in the attempt to improve the lives of the most destitute, sick, and unwanted of India's poor." What a sap!
No, wait, wait . . . Well, actually, maybe this latest round of awards is an actual improvement. The Nobel Peace Prize has gone to a whole cartload of self-aggrandizing attention hounds like unrepentant terrorists (Arafat), fearmongering propagandists (Gore), and flat-out idiots and dismal failures (Jimmy Carter). Why the heck NOT give it to a smooth-talking, telegenic politician who hasn't a clue about actual statecraft? At least this one's pretty as he goes about chasing the spotlight. But we'll see, won't we, how much "peace" is actually in the offing if Iran gets the bomb on Obama's watch.
UPDATE 1: Heh! Oh, and lots of links at Insta-Prof. This whole thing sounds like a silly fake news piece by the Onion, does it? "Man Wins Prize For Not Doing Anything." I like this curtly contemptuous British opinion: "absurd."
UPDATE 2: Law prof Ann Althouse wonders sarcastically why Obama didn't win the Nobel Prize for Literature too.
UPDATE 3: A thought -- The Nobel Peace Prize has been given to a president who in this year alone has de-prioritized human rights and the plight of dissidents in unfree regimes, and I am thinking specifically of dissidents in China and Iran. Then a few days ago, Obama cold-shouldered the Dalai Lama in what looked like an effort to please Beijing. Then there was that talk about making some kind of separate peace with the Taliban. (Yes, this Taliban.) I'm just sayin'.
UPDATE 4: Wait! Am I a raaaaaaaaaaaacist for thinking this is all absurd? Probably.
UPDATE 5: Reactions are pouring in. Take a look at this from an Obama supporter at the Huffington Post, even: "The time has not yet arrived and circumstances have not yet evolved where Barack Obama is anywhere near the point where he has earned this prize." Or here.
UPDATE 6: Pursuit of Serenity sends this news link: "Taliban condemn Obama as Nobel Prize winner." In the article, a Taliban spokesman whines that Obama's taken no steps toward peace in Afghanistan. Is this real life, or is this the Onion? I can't make this stuff up if I tried! We are living in a world of total madness, and preposterous Nobel farce is beneath the contempt of decent people. I'll also use one of my favorite Britishisms: it's "nonsense on stilts."
UPDATE 7: Let the jokes begin! And let 'em go on. And on.
UPDATE 8: DNC hits bottom, gets out shovel and digs. As I said, beneath contempt.
UPDATE 9: Satirist-parodist-humorist extraordinaire Iowahawk takes aim at this Moral Vanity-a-Palooza with predictably hilarious results.
Here is the link to Volkswagen's "Theory of Fun" website, but I think you're really interested in seeing that musical staircase. It's just like that scene from "Big"!
Plus, I'm delighted at the idea of using fun and incentives to encourage people to do things. Preachy, finger-wagging, killjoy do-gooder activists who keep browbeating me with sermons "for my own good," take note.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
They've got Transformers as part of their arsenal -- in the ad, anyway! As the Cine-Sib then yelled, "Heck YEAH -- we're gonna need 'em!"
Check this out:
There is so much nonsense at so many universities that it is a real and rare pleasure to see a great teacher teaching well. The Dutch-born Lewin has won awards for his teaching of undergrads, and you can see why.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
OK, I can't help it. Here we are crying over spilt milk! Or, even better, MORE COWBELL!
One more thing: why do so many European demonstrations involve burning tires?
RELATED POST: The All-Purpose Protest Sign!
(For the record, my shoes today were pretty but practical black ballet flats. Soon, soon, though, I will be in tall riding boots with long skirts and sweaters; autumn weather is finally here at Nerdworld.)
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Bonus: the supercomputer is named "Kraken." No, really!
Further bonus: Hey, we can use the Kraken to count our national debt!
Harmless as an enemy, treacherous as a friend, and cravenly unwilling to stand up for basic human rights anywhere. First China, now Iran. Fantastic. Pffftttt.
Monday, October 05, 2009
The 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in occupied Poland was the largest act of resistance by European Jews against the Nazis during the Holocaust. (Don't confuse it with the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.)
Here's a quote from Edelman reflecting on his participation: "It was easier to die fighting than in a gas chamber."
For those of you who are interested, here's the PDF version of the Disaster Preparedness Simulation Exercise #5: Zombie Attack. Granted, UF isn't the first school to ponder this. Yale did it a few months ago.
You'll recall a previous nerdy treatment of zombies by 2 Canadian universities. You know, nerds do seem to love zombies -- loooooooooooooove zombies. Maybe it's the whole brain-eating thing. Geeks do love them some walking undead too.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
So, in contrast to the recent wicked stupidity of some Americans cheerleading for China, I give you this piquantly appropriate look at 60 years of Chinese Communism as expressed by Canada's National Post. Here is a piece of it:
. . . life in the PRC means having no freedom of religion or expression, and experiencing the full powers of the arbitrary police state, even if they are used more sparingly. China has enormous ecological problems, and the one-child policy -- the hallmark of the PRC's second thirty years --has wreaked havoc with its human ecology. State regulation of family size -- breeding licenses, forced sterilization, coerced abortions -- is a massive, systematic violation of human rights, even if human rights advocates prefer to avert their eyes.
. . . The epic tragedy of the PRC is proven by simply looking at what the Chinese have accomplished wherever they do not live under Beijing's rule: Hong Kong until 1997, Taiwan, Singapore, not to mention Vancouver and Toronto, as Canadians well know.
The second 30 years have been far better than the first thirty for the PRC, if only because the regime no longer engages in the mass slaughter of its citizens. China is no longer the worst place in the world to live. But compared to what might have been, the PRC is the last great failure of the 20th century that endures into the 21st.
Recall too that fully two-thirds of China's population -- some 800 million rural people, half of whom do not have access to safe drinking water (400 million people? that's more than the entire population of the US) -- still live in poverty far from the shiny, impressive new urban centers that Beijing likes to show the world (remember the 2008 Propaganda Games -- er, I mean, Beijing Olympics?). They're the invisible people, ignored by the outside world and exploited and ill-treated by Beijing and government officials (like this) and often pay a terrible price for the "new China" (recall "cancer villages"). Who remembers them?
"Farmer's daughter disarms terrorist and shoots him dead with AK47: An Indian farmer’s daughter disarmed a terrorist leader who broke into her home, attacked him with an axe and shot him dead with his own gun."DANG! You go, girl. W00t! WITH HIS OWN GUN. Turnabout is fair play!
Oh, and how long do you think it'll be before some idiot whines that this is a violation of the terrorist's human rights because he was disarmed? and hit with an axe?
And perhaps Miss Kausar would be an excellent recruit for this elite fighting force.
The dream of global governance through international institutions and law is a lovely dream that supervenes, like oil floating upon water, alas, upon the fact of the American hegemonic security guarantee. A genuinely multipolar world is not only a more insecure one (as the ever bleak but always incisive David Rieff has pointed out); it is also a more unjust one. Be careful what you wish for. Your dreams of liberal internationalism were never on so firm a foundation as upon the US’s clumsy and imperfect security hegemony.Hear, hear. The recent shenanigans at the United Nations have done nothing but reaffirm my personal conviction that the good professor is right. I cheerlead without shame for the Pax Americana.
Oh, and if you are so inclined, you can take a look at Anderson's academic paper on the subject. The abstract is here, and here is a nice bit of it:
The essay also argues that those who want to see an end to loose US hegemony in favor of the supposed freedoms and sovereign equality of a multipolar world should think carefully about what they wish for. The dreams of global governance by international institutions turn out to have their greatest possibilities precisely in a world that, to a large extent, relies upon a parallel hegemon rather than collective institutions for its underlying order. In a multipolar, more competitive world, the winner is unlikely to be liberal internationalist global governance or UN Platonism or collective security, but instead the narrow, often directly commercial, interests of rising new powers such as China.Yeah, you just stop and think if you want to swap American influence for Chinese (Tom Friedman and his pernicious ilk need not chime in).
Saturday, October 03, 2009
What's going on? A horrifying photo gallery of Hello Kitty's 35th birthday, that's what. Look if you dare! She is currently being honored with a huge exhibition in Hong Kong. (Click there only if you have a strong stomach.)
Will no one rid us of this turbulent mouthless cartoon cat and her global tyranny of cuteness? Her empire forges on. (At the HK exhibition, you can apparently get Hello Kittified identification papers. How terrifying is that, especially for history students?)
Friday, October 02, 2009
Total reductionist possibility here:
Tree-Hugging Greenie: "Look, you Native Americans, you need to do X and Y and Z to protect the Earth!"Seriously, though, the Hopi and Navajo tribes are not pleased with enviro-crusaders who want to shut down coal operations on tribal lands. The tribes are concerned that doing so will further harm their already-bad economies.
Annoyed Native American: "Your ancestors massacred my ancestors and forced the survivors onto this reservation. And now you want to tell me how to live? BACK OFF, MAN."
Even better is this quotation by Navajo leader Joe Shirley:
"Environmentalists are good at identifying problems but poor at identifying feasible solutions," Shirley said in a news release. "Most often they don't try to work with us but against us, giving aid and comfort to those opposed to the sovereign decision-making of tribes."Indeed.
. . . "Unfortunately, many of these people don't know about Navajos, sovereignty or self-determination," he said. "They just want any use of coal stopped. However, coal is the Navajo Nation's most plentiful resource, and our prosperity depends on it."
But who cares about the livelihood of a bunch of minorities anyway, man? We gotta SAVE THE EARTH BECAUSE AL GORE SAID SO!
Anyhoo, this is just the sort of thing that I'm talking about: enviro-nuts simply do not seem to understand (or care) that many of their "green" policies ultimately mean the economic devastation of many people, a large number of whom are already poor! Plus it's much easier and more glamorous and much more narcissistically satisfying to cavort around on some wild-eyed messianic mission to SAVE THE WHOLE FREAKING PLANET than to deal with the harsh practical realities of folks trying to pay their bills and make a living for themselves. Oh, don't EVEN get me started on cap-and-trade!
The HopeChange Chronicles: When Sarkozy and France Are Better Leaders of the Free World, Smack Down Obama's Naivete
I like Krauthammer too, actually. Check out his new editorial, which does mention Sarko. A LOT.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, there's this too. A blurb: "While the Iranians have conceded virtually nothing of value, President Obama has conceded a fair bit, particularly to the Russians." OY VEY.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Choice and competition spur improvement in quality, folks, and -- frankly -- LA public schools are so awful that they need all the help they can get ... from the private sector. The public one's done more than enough harm already.
I am not sympathetic to the California teachers' union if it cannot and does not improve schools. OK, and I'm going to say something really heretical: all too often, these unions are more interested in their own selves than in the students or the quality of education.
"Would Beijing light up the Great Wall in red, white, and blue for our Fourth of July? I don't think so."
(Then again, we're not holding a gazillion dollars' worth of their debt? Oh, Shakespeare, you're so right: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be," indeed.)
Still, the entire spectacle of lighting up the Empire State Building to commemorate that murderous dictator Mao's revolution just chaps my hide. ARGH!
Next on the agenda: assessing the value of the Macarena. Or not.
(end of snarky comment)