Thursday, September 30, 2010

What Fresh Hell Is This? -- Star Wars Prequels To Be Re-Released in 3D

All I have to do is say the following terrifying sentence: "The Phantom Menace remastered in post-converted 3D may hit theaters by February 2012."   NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!   

For goodness sakes, don't go re-watch that pile of space debris and encourage that shameless hack George Lucas to further desecrations.  Remember this epic beatdown of "The Phantom Menace" and recall just how truly awful that flick was.  Plus, imagine the utter bone-chilling horror of JAR-JAR BINKS IN 3D.  I'm sure that's a human rights violation.  I wouldn't wish a 3-D Jar-Jar on my worst enemy.  (I might be evil, but I have standards.)

Fugly or Fabulous? Tall Red Wedge-Heeled Boots

I'm thinking about getting these boots since the weather is getting cooler.  Imagine them with both short and long skirts and perhaps some nice sweaters.  Is the red too much?  I can get them in other, less flashy colors too...

Awesome: Carnivore Heaven in the City of Lights

Alternatively, this could be a vegetarian's or vegan's worst nightmare.  I for one, though, am utterly entranced and delighted by this splendid sight from Paris.  I am suddenly ravenous!

Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta  apex predator.

Quotes of the Day: Thoreau and C.S. Lewis on Busybody Do-Gooders

Straight out of Walden comes this timeless observation by Henry David Thoreau:
If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.
This is very much in line with what C.S. Lewis said:
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Watch This on DVD: "Glory" (1989)

I stumbled across this review recently, and I do have to say, if you've never seen "Glory," you really must.  It is, in a nutshell, one of the best movies ever made about the American Civil War (and about race relations in the US history as seen through individuals).  The cast is excellent throughout, though I would be remiss if I did not point out Denzel Washington's outstanding performance that won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.  Holding a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, "Glory" runs 122 minutes and is rated R for some graphic battlefield violence.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MM in the Kitchen: Pistachio-Lemon Langues de Chat (Cat's Tongues)

Here is a yummy-looking recipe for some delicious French butter cookies!  (This post is in honor of a certain splendid, elderly cat of my long acquaintance.)

Every Joke Is A Tiny Revolution: Chinese Gov't Shuts Down Comedian Guo Degang

Orwell's famous observation about humor is more relevant than ever if you read this report about Chinese comedian Guo Degang, whose subversive humor has now been quashed by Hu Jintao's government.  Surely you did not need another reminder that China, regardless of whatever that useful idiot Tom Friedman says, is not free and your ability to express yourself is subject to the arbitrary whims of the rulers.

A Tree Grows in Montreal

It's no ordinary tree.  It's a sapling from the famous chestnut tree that Anne Frank often mentioned in her diary.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kitchen Notes: Locavores and Reality

Pretty much, yeah. Blurb:

The real problem with [the locavore idea]  isn't economic elitism but produce xenophobia. The locavore ideal is a world without trade, not only beyond national borders but even from the next state: no Florida oranges in Colorado or California grapes in New Mexico, no Vidalia onions in New York or summer spinach in Georgia.
Fully realized, that ideal would eliminate one of the great culinary advances of the past half century. Unripe peaches notwithstanding, today's supermarket produce departments are modern marvels. American grocery shoppers have choices that would have been unimaginable only a few decades ago. When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, the only way to get fresh spinach or leaf lettuce was to plant a garden. Avocados were an exotic treat, asparagus came in a can, and pomegranates existed only in books.

Kitchen Notes: Dishes with Weird Names

How many of these delightfully strange-sounding dishes have you had?

Monday Therapy: "Where's Waldo?" + Jason Bourne = Mashup Hilarity

Absolutely fantastic.  Slight language warning.

Mangled Asian History: View From Taiwan 1, The Economist 0

Take a look, darlings!  Thank goodness people who actually know the subject at hand are fact-checking the mushy, lazy media.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"The Daily Show" 1, Hypocritical Union 0


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Nerd News: Legacy Admissions at Universities

Hmmmmm. But is it really "affirmative action for the rich"?

Call Me Ishmael: the 100 Best Book Opening Lines

This list is, of course, subject to debate!  I for one cannot stand James Joyce.  Oh, here, let me give you the top 3 novel openings.  I approve of the first two, though I think the opening of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities should have ranked higher than Gravity's Rainbow.
1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)
2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
For the record, I don't think Salinger belongs on this list.  Holden Caulfield is a loser!  Also, there are far too many 20th-century books in this list.  

Forgotten History: John Rabe, the Other Schindler

Christian Toto points out a new film that may make the history of John Rabe a bit less obscure.  Who was Rabe?  A German businessman in China in the 1930s, he helped to save thousands of Chinese civilian lives during imperial Japan's horrifying Rape of Nanking (1937-8).  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: Hello Kitty Pancakes

This isn't an official Sanrio product; it's a labor of love done by a doting dad for his little daughter.  It's still Hello Kitty, though, and therefore still horrifying.  DROWN IT IN MAPLE SYRUP!!

Nerd Journal: What I'm Reading Instead of Doing My Research

Japanese-British writer Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 book Never Let Me Go.  There is a movie version now (starring Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, and Keira Knightley), and I wanted to read the book first.  The movie, by the way, has been getting mixed positive reviews such as this and this.

Quote of the Day: the Politics of Demonization

Here's a quote:
I can’t remember a time when there’s been such a coordinated effort to marginalize and impugn the motives of so many of this nation’s citizens.
I’m not sure how they [desperate Democrats] plan to balance their oft-heralded concerns for the middle class with their attempts to paint so many of its members as ignorant racists, but it’ll be fun to see them try.
True dat!  But what do I know?  I'm just an ignorant bitter racist hater clinging to my guns and Bible.

RELATED POST: You Disagree With Me, So You Must Be A (Insert Insult Here).  Also, maybe we're all right-wing loony extremists now.

Nerd News: Harvard Research = Federal Spending and Business Prosperity Don't Mix

Well, looky here:
Recent research at Harvard Business School began with the premise that as a state's congressional delegation grew in stature and power in Washington, D.C., local businesses would benefit from the increased federal spending sure to come their way.
It turned out quite the opposite. In fact, professors Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval, and Christopher Malloy discovered to their surprise that companies experienced lower sales and retrenched by cutting payroll, R&D, and other expenses. Indeed, in the years that followed a congressman's ascendancy to the chairmanship of a powerful committee, the average firm in his state cut back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent, according to their working paper, "Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?"
"It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman's state did not benefit at all from the unanticipated increase in spending," Coval reports.
Plus this added bit from the Q-and-A with the professors:
Our findings suggest that they [public policymakers] should revisit their belief that federal spending can stimulate private economic development. It is important to note that our research ignores all costs associated with paying for the spending such as higher taxes or increased borrowing. From the perspective of the target state, the funds are essentially free, but clearly at the national level someone has to pay for stimulus spending. And in the absence of a positive private-sector response, it seems even more difficult to justify federal spending than otherwise.

Movie Madness: Madcap Criminal Comedy with "Wild Target"

I. Must. See. This. Flick.  Will you just look at the cast?  It's a fabulous list of some lovely British talent.  Bill Nighy!  Martin Freeman!  Emily Blunt!  Rupert Everett!  And Rupert "Ron Weasley" Grint, all grown up.  The flick opens in limited release on October 29.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Don't Bring a Bear to a Zucchini Fight

I can't make this stuff up if I tried.

Nerd News: Karma 1, Bill Ayers 0

Get a load of this:
When retiring University of Illinois at Chicago Professor Bill Ayers co-wrote a book in 1973, it was dedicated in part to Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy's assassin.
That came back to haunt Ayers on Thursday when the U. of I. board, now chaired by Kennedy's son, considered his request for emeritus status.
I need not tell you how the board voted, do I?  
It [emeritus status] was denied in an unanimous vote.
After the fold is a quote from Chris Kennedy:

Life Imitates Satire: This Is Not a Serious Government

the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration held its much-publicized hearing with Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert on hand to offer testimony.  As John Conyers notes, the media and spectators turned out to see whether Colbert would address the panel seriously as an expert on immigration and make the panel a joke, or stay in character and make the panel a bigger joke.
I rest my case.

Friday Fun Video: Katy Perry on "Sesame Street"

This is so completely demented that I simply must share: Katy Perry + Elmo + "Hot N Cold" = hilarity.

Friday Fun Video: OK Go Goes to the Dogs

OK Go (remember their famous dancing-on-treadmills video?)  has a charming new music video for their song "White Knuckles":

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Downward Facing Doofus: Yoga Poses and Parking Ticket Silliness

From La Parisienne comes this loopy news story from Cambridge, Mass.  (Well, I'm not surprised at any lunacy coming from the town that harbors Hahvahd ... but that's another tale.)  I can only repeat and endorse the lovely Parisienne's comment: "You can't make this stuff up."  

I don't know about you, but if I got a parking ticket, I'd sigh and go about my business.  If I got a parking ticket with yoga poses printed on it, I would fly into a frothing rage on the spot because that's adding insult to injury.  
In fact, I'm starting to feel a bit rage-y just thinking about it.  I've only ever seen one positive occurrence of someone enforcing parking rules, and I post it after the fold, as a thank-you to La Parisienne.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MM in the Kitchen: Milk and Honey Bread

Yummy!  (But no saffron, please -- we're impoverished.)

Political Humor of the Day: A New Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce would be proud!  Here are a few of my favorites:
Charity - Body funded by the state through compulsory taxation, whose role is to lobby for more taxation.
Diversity – Lots of middle-class people of various ethnic backgrounds who all went to the same schools, the same universities, watch the same programmes, read the same books and vote the same way.
Fairness – Tax.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nerd News: the World's Most Beautiful Campuses


Hit the Books: Sci-Fi Is A Genre Everyone Should Read

Well, yes.  ABSOLUTELY.  Oh, and who made this observation?  Walter Russell Mead, the Henry Kissinger senior fellow for US foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College.  Here is a great bit of literary criticism after the fold:

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Fresh Hell Is This? No, Seriously ... WHAT?

I suppose there is at the very least a certain whiff of honesty about this.

Nerd News: Group Learning with Computers

Check out this fascinating TED talk about kids and computers:

Quotes of the Day and 2 Thoughts on Capitalism and Wealth Creation

Here is an interesting video and a short but very readable analysis, both by university instructors.  Two quotations from them:
From the video: "Exploitation is not exclusively capitalist, but wealth creation is."
From the article: "The intellectual critics of capitalism believe they know what is good for us, but millions of people interacting in the marketplace keep rebuffing them. This, ultimately, is why they believe capitalism is “bad for the soul”: it fulfils human needs without first seeking their moral approval."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Movie Review: "The Town"


I begin this movie review with a comment from La Parisienne, whom I texted right after I saw the movie. In reply to my initial enthusiastic response, she said, "I'm not sure how I feel about you praising Affleck."  Oh, it's true -- after Ben Affleck's long purgatory in tabloid "Bennifer" and Gigli misery, after the Cine-Sib and I sniped at him with the demeaning nickname "Manfleck," we were all of us more or less wondering, "What's wrong with Ben Affleck?" while his pal Matt Damon went zooming off to box office stardom with the Bourne movies.

Then there was 2007's Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck's debut as director, and it made me stop poking fun at him.  It also made me sit up and pay attention to Casey Affleck bursting onto the scene as a serious acting talent in his own right -- but that's another review.  Gone Baby Gone was a revelation, and it was the moment when I thought, "Hey, maybe Affleck's better as a director than an actor" and "So let's see if he can make us forget that 'Bennifer' and Gigli ever happened.  Win our love back, Ben.  Make us remember how delighted we were to meet you in Good Will Hunting.  Show us you've grown up."  Meanwhile, I'm hoping and praying that Gone Baby Gone wasn't just a one-off fluke.

The Town, Ben Affleck's sophomore project as director (he is also a co-writer), isn't quite as good as the stunning Gone Baby Gone, but it is still fantastic storytelling.  It is a gritty urban crime drama that is also a personal psychological drama and, in its way, a love letter to Affleck's childhood home of Boston.  

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nerd News: New Research Suggests Mao's "Great Leap Forward" Fiasco Even Deadlier Than Previously Thought

The total butcher's bill could be as high as 45 million dead in a four-year-long span of time.  45 million, to say nothing of the millions more whose lives were thrown into misery and chaos.  And then there's that monster Mao Zedong, the worst mass murderer in modern history (or any history?).  I cannot even begin to tell you how much I hate this man.  

Nerd News: Bedbug Infestations On Campuses


Friday Fun Video: Cthulhu as the Old Spice Guy

Here's some mashup hilarity as H.P. Lovecraft's horrific monster tries his talent as the Old Spice Guy.  Even if you don't like Cthulhu, you really should watch from 0:42 on.  Get ready to shriek in terror, people.

"Unspeakable horror."

RELATED POST:  The Adventures of Lil Cthulhu!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Movie Review: On "Eat Pray Love," Angry Critic 1, Sappy Movie 0

This British film critic has a hilarious smackdown of Julia Roberts' latest flick.  Here's my favorite bit of it:
At one point, Javier Bardem runs her over with his car. That part was okay.
The review also contains this brilliant assessment of how banal "chick flicks" can be:
I’m just so bored of ladies and their emotions doing stuff – and, worse, the assumption that those three elements alone (ladies, emotions, stuff) are enough to constitute entertainment for other ladies.
Bravo!  I for one hate "chick flicks" and would gladly see just about anything else.  Earlier this week I wrote a paper while watching the "Godfather" trilogy (I didn't like the third one as much as the first two, though Andy Garcia is always fun to watch).

Awesome Photography: Zodiacal Light

Here is the scientific background of the astronomical phenomenon known as "zodiacal light," but you have simply got to feast your eyes on THIS:

Star light, star bright.

Well, That Can't Be Good: Iran Gives $25 Million to Turkish Ruling Party

Uh-oh.  Time to hang onto that secular constitution.

Quote of the Day: The American Spirit or, "America Is An Optimistic Country Because That's Where All the Optimists Went"

Here is how one perceptive Brit describes it:
What is unique about the US – and indispensable to the understanding of it – is that it is a country of the displaced and dispossessed: a nation which invented itself for the very purpose of permitting people to reinvent themselves, to take their fate into their own hands, to be liberated from the persecution and the paternalism of the old cultures they had left behind. Almost every American either is himself, or is descended from, someone who made a conscious decision to pull up his roots and take his chances in a land he had almost certainly never seen and which, until quite recently, offered no protection or security if the gamble failed.

Life Imitates Satire: Lady Gaga's Abattoir Chic

At first I couldn't believe it.  OK, folks, it is now impossible to parody Lady Gaga and her bizarre fashion sense. YUCK!  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Best Political Commentary of the Day: Food and Nanny Government

What fresh (or really, recycled) hell is this?  The latest round of nannyish preaching and finger-wagging by Mrs. Obama about food and how we should change how and what we eat is the same dull blah-blah-blah you've come to expect from any number of killjoy interfering do-gooders.  But what really is worth your time is the choice of photos that accompany the text of the First Lady's annoying sermon to the National Restaurant Association. Kudos to whomever did the photo layout!  

Nerd News: More Women Than Men Earned PhDs Last Year

Well, whaddyaknow?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Disgustingly -- I Mean, Deliciously -- Cute: An Illustrated Brownie Recipe

Look at this lovely recipe from the fantastic recipe website They Draw and Cook.  Click on it to make it bigger so you can see all the details.  (By the way, I never use margarine.  If you're going to make a sweet, do it the right way.  Use real butter!)

Extreme Architecture: Spain on the Edge

Do take a look at some amazing land/cityscapes!

Nerd News: College Rankings Based on a Survey of Employers

Via the Insta-Prof comes this fascinating perspective.  A teaser for you here:
Recruiters say graduates of top public universities are often among the most prepared and well-rounded academically, and companies have found they fit well into their corporate cultures and over time have the best track record in their firms.
Now compare and contrast with the latest annual US News and World Report college rankings.  I give you the top 25 schools after the fold:

Dalrymple on the Perils of Postmodern Moral Reasoning

Read this.

Quote of the Day: Skyrocketing Costs in Higher Ed

Here it is, folks:
The cost-spiral in higher education over the last several decades has not been warranted by improvements in the quality of actual education.  It has been driven by excessive federal subsidy in the forms of student loans; by a buyer psychology that led many families to think that college was a virtually risk-free investment; by colleges and universities that chose to compete with each other in expensive amenities atmospherics rather than academic substance; and by a spirit of grandiosity.
Do read the whole thing.  The comparison to the bursting bubble of tulipomania is all too apt.  Also?  I can't tell you how maddening it is to see university after university spend a gazillion dollars on crazy amenities instead of substance.  Oh, yes, let's build (insert loopy feel-good project here) while we let the libraries molder and fall into dust.  (Oh, even better, let's spend a gazillion dollars making sure the admin have huge posh offices with all the tip-top modern conveniences and ever-inflating six-figure salaries while adjuncts and lecturers -- you know, the people who actually teach -- cram into shared cramped offices and have to work on a shoestring budget with a shoestring paycheck.)

Best Married Repartee of the Day

Check it out:
41 is a little young for osteoarthritis, even the very minor case of it I am confronted with. It weirded me out for a couple of days, and also precipitated this conversation between me and my wife:
Me: So now my hip is always going to hurt just a little bit.
Wife: Poor baby.
Me: I’m a little depressed about this. I think I’ll have my mid-life crisis now.
Wife: You do that.
Me: So you don’t mind if I have an ill-advised fling with a 23-year-old.
Wife: Good luck with that.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quote of the Day: On Relationships Above Galilee

One resident's comment about his neighbors:
"I don't care if they like me ... I just want them to stop trying to kill me."

Awesome: Typographic Geography

Look at this fantastic art by one Andrew Goldsmith!  Beautiful AND clever AND educational!  (Why, it reminds me a little ... of me, hahahaha!)

Monday Therapy: Hilarious LEGO Star Wars

Nerd News: Public, Non-Profit, and For-Profit Higher Education

You may be surprised. For the impatient among you, I cut to the end of this report by the Economist:
When the full cost of loans and subsidies is added up they [for-profit institutions] are significantly cheaper for the taxpayer, per graduate, than public and non-profit institutions.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nerd Fun: Shakespearean Names For Perfumes

Here is some Shakespeare-scented fun!  If I had to pick one for myself, I think I would pick "Katharina."  The scent is described as:
A strong, willful blend with a soft, utterly lovely soul: white musk with a trickle of bright, sharp apricot and orange blossom.
I'm the most amused, though, by the perfume named "Yorick":
Grave dirt, bone, decay, angel's trumpet, and moldering scraps of shroud: the essence of finality.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Satire Alert: God Angrily Clarifies "Don't Kill" Rule

The Onion's piquant take on September 11 is humor with a point.  Blurb:
"Look, I don't know, maybe I haven't made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again," said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. "Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand." 

"I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."

The press conference came as a surprise to humankind, as God rarely intervenes in earthly affairs. As a matter of longstanding policy, He has traditionally left the task of interpreting His message and divine will to clerics, rabbis, priests, imams, and Biblical scholars. Theologians and laymen alike have been given the task of pondering His ineffable mysteries, deciding for themselves what to do as a matter of faith. His decision to manifest on the material plane was motivated by the deep sense of shock, outrage, and sorrow He felt over the Sept. 11 violence carried out in His name, and over its dire potential ramifications around the globe.

...  "There's no such thing as a holy war, only unholy ones. The vast majority of Muslims in this world reject the murderous actions of these radical extremists ..."

Continued God, "Read the book: 'Allah is kind, Allah is beautiful, Allah is merciful.' It goes on and on that way, page after page. But, no, some ***holes have to come along and revive this stupid holy-war cr*p just to further their own hateful agenda."

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Taste of Home in Afghanistan

Check out what the troops are eating over in Afghanistan.  This little photographic feature is really fascinating!  Oh, and the South Koreans -- OF COURSE -- get kimchi (and the Aussies get Vegemite) in their equivalent of MREs.

Friday Fun Video: Human Pac-Man

Here is something delightful by the French-Swiss artist Guillaume Reymond.  By the way, stay for the credits at the end:  they acknowledge the "Patient Human Pixels."

Thursday, September 09, 2010

MM in the Kitchen: Potato Gnocchi

Easy and yummy!

Nerd Journal: Research Cram With Old Movies -- "Hey, Stellaaaaaaa!"

You know the drill.  Wherever I have a pile of research and writing and nerd work to do, I put on movies for background noise.  I can't work in total silence.  It drives me crazy -- or I fall asleep on top of my books and papers.  So this time around, it's all hail the glories of streaming Netflix as we take a look at some classic films.  I was thinking I'd try to watch movies starring a particular well-regarded actor or actress, so I started off with Marlon Brando.  So here's what's up.

Jon Stewart on the Proposed New Stimulus: "Didn't We Do This Already?"

Stewart takes hilarious potshots at everything in this new video, with some real gems such as turning midterm elections into football, playing with the idea of "death panels," and taking aim at Obama's (ludicrous) new idea of spending $50 billion on infrastructure projects.  Dude, wasn't that a huge chunk of the FIRST stimulus (that ended up doing about as much good as simply setting money on fire?)...?    Oh, and Jon, honey, I am soooooo glad you got rid of that scruffy beard!  Those facial anomalies did nothing good for you, sweetie.

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Quote of the Day: Castro on the Cuban Model of Life and Government-Run Economy

According to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg who interviewed Fidel Castro recently, the Cuban said, "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."   Wait, what?  Here's a blurb from Goldberg's report:
I asked him if he believed the Cuban model was still something worth exporting.
"The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore," he said.
This struck me as the mother of all Emily Litella moments. Did the leader of the Revolution just say, in essence, "Never mind"?
I asked Julia to interpret this stunning statement for me. She said, "He wasn't rejecting the ideas of the Revolution. I took it to be an acknowledgment that under 'the Cuban model' the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country."  [My emphasis -- MM]
Julia pointed out that one effect of such a sentiment might be to create space for his brother, Raul, who is now president, to enact the necessary reforms in the face of what will surely be push-back from orthodox communists within the Party and the bureaucracy.  Raul Castro is already loosening the state's hold on the economy. He recently announced, in fact, that small businesses can now operate and that foreign investors could now buy Cuban real estate.
Well, well, well.  Look who's finally got a taste of cold hard reality.  Hm: "the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country."  HEH.  Statists, listen up!  Oh, and didn't I just post about this sort of idea?

Thoughts on Economic Interventions By Government: "Crackbrained Meddling"?

By the way, I didn't come up with the phrase "crackbrained meddling by authorities" and how they can "aggravate an existing crisis."  You might be surprised who did.  Check out venerable economist Thomas Sowell's recent analysis.  Here's a bit more.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

2010 Hugo Awards Recognize Sci Fi Achievements: Congrats to "Moon" and the Doctor

The winners of the 2010 Hugo Awards have been announced, and I am delighted that two of my favorite sci fi productions of 2009 were among them: "Moon" for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) and the Doctor Who episode "The Waters of Mars" for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form).   Yes indeedy -- Hugo and I have excellent taste!

I raved about "Moon" last summer
, and I also told you about how emotionally effective "Waters of Mars" was. Both of these productions go beyond fluffy fun to consider some Big Ideas such as the meaning and worth of an individual human being ("Moon") and the temptation to power that acknowledges no limit ("Waters of Mars").  Both of them are riveting examples of writing and storytelling, even as they will probably twist your insides as they did mine.  They will give you chills.  Kudos too to the actors who made the stories work -- Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell and David Tennant as the Doctor.

Awesome: An Airline with a Sense of Humor

Take a look at this sheer awesomeness by South Africa-based Kulula Airlines.  More glorious photos here and here at the official website. Nerdtastic bonus: one side of the aircraft has the label "captain, my captain" on the cockpit!  Playful, learned, cheerfully educational, and fond of traveling -- this is a plane livery after my own heart (if I had a heart).

Friday, September 03, 2010

Disgustingly Cute: A New Baby in Number 10 Downing Street

The photos of little Florence Rose Endellion Cameron's first public appearance are absolutely too adorable for words.  Add a glowing mum and doting dad.  

The Couch Potato Chronicles: A Primer of 20 Classic Sci-Fi TV Shows

Here you go, kids, so have at it over the 3-day weekend!  There is, of course, lots of room for argument.  

(For instance? The writer didn't like "Firefly"'s episode "Shindig," which I absolutely
adore.  And "Supernatural" isn't on the list at all ... though I'll be the first to admit it's (a) more a guilty pleasure than a classic, and (b) La Parisienne and the Kamikaze Editor and I all thought the most recent season was mostly a crashing bore.  Still, I've got a bone to pick with the list if it's going to include "Torchwood"-- and recommend the deplorable "Children of Earth" story! -- and not "Supernatural" which, at its best, gave us snappily witty, tongue-in-cheek, meta-theatrical episodes like "Hollywood Babylon," "Monster Movie," and "Changing Channels."  Also, how can "Farscape" not be on this list?!)  

I pretty much love almost all the 20 shows on the list, but if I had to choose 5 listed shows that you MUST watch, I pick the following in alphabetical order:

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • the new Doctor Who (i.e., Nine, Ten, and now Eleven)
  • Firefly
  • The Prisoner
  • Star Trek 
You still must watch "Farscape," though.  Oh, and I heartily recommend the BBC "Life On Mars" also, though it's arguably not quite as obviously sci-fi as some of the other shows on the list.  But if the list can include "Lost," then I don't see why it can't include a crime drama that plays with the idea of reality, time, and consciousness.  The new "V" is fun too, and "Journeyman" is a "Firefly"-esque sad tale of what might have been if it had lasted longer.   "Kings" is a hard-to-classify bit of actual creativity.  On the animated side, you can't beat "Futurama" with a stick.

Movie Madness: Three Musketeers

Here is the first teaser poster.  I could not care less about Orlando Bloom or Milla Jovovich (though she could be a very good Milady).  I'm excited about Ray Stevenson, Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz, and -- especially -- Matthew Macfadyen, who will be playing Athos.  Oh, he's perfect.  (UPDATE: Alessandra says so too, so it must be true!)

Nerd News: Higher Ed Bubble Makes Housing Bubble Look Tiny

Check out this staggering analysis by an economics professor at the University of Michigan.  The bubble is on the verge of bursting.   Hmmm ... Haven't I been yelling about this for ... apparently forever?

Friday Fun Video: Brad Paisley's "Celebrity"

Oh, how I do love Brad Paisley -- cute and funny!  He made a previous appearance here for the Nerdworld Soundtrack.  Now let the video for his hilarious song "Celebrity" brighten up your Friday.  Bonus: awesome cameo appearances!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Movie Review: The "Star Trek" Reboot

Remember the fellow who gave us these awesome takedowns of the Star Wars prequels?  He's back, and he's inflicted his unique talents on the J.J. Abrams reboot of "Star Trek."  (I liked this flick a lot.)  Buckle up, kids, it's quite a ride!  (Slight language warning.)

Nerd News: Excellent Advice For Students From a Professor

Read the whole thing.  See, not all profs are crazy!  Here's a piece of it:

Get a traditional liberal education; it is the only thing that will do you any good.
This is hard; a liberal education is no easy thing to get, and not everybody wants you to have one.  However, in times of rapid change, it is paradoxically more useful to immerse yourself in the basics and the classics than to try to keep up with the latest developments and hottest trends.  You can be almost 100% sure that the hot theories making waves in academia today will be forgotten or superseded in twenty years — but fifty years from now people will still be reading and thinking about the classic texts that have shaped our world.  Use your college years to ground yourself in the basic great books and key ideas and values that will last.

Hear, hear!  I repeat: Read the whole thing!