Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year From Mars

Your 2012 Music Retrospective Dance Mix

Here's the soundtrack for your New Year's Eve dance party, darlings!

Worst Op-ed of 2012 Is ... *Drum Roll* ...

TA-DA!!  Coming in at the last possible minute, this thing takes the cake.  Honestly, at first I thought this had to be something by the Onion.  I mean, a constitutional law professor saying we should chuck the Constitution.  Hahaha - Oh, you're serious. I am further bemused/amused to see this. (Scroll down to realize that Glenn Greenwald and I are actually on the same page. LOL!)  Anyway:

2012: JibJab's Year In Review

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs (and Kittens and Bunnies and Ducks) of War!

While I can't say much for Buzzfeed's (in)ability to spell the word "soldiers," I'll happily link to its charming collection of mostly vintage photos.  #11 made me do a double take.  Hey, that puppy looks kind of weird ...

Dave Barry's Year in Review, 2012 Edition

Barry's annual snarky, satirical review is as hilarious as ever.  Here's a piece of it:
In the new year’s first major disaster, the Mediterranean cruise ship Costa Concordia goes way off course, hits a rock, and sinks. The captain, Francesco Schettino, is immediately relieved of command and placed in charge of the Italian economy.

2012: the Year in Movies

100 Astonishing Photos of 2012

Amazing snaps.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Et Tu, Ricochet?

*Sigh.*

Quote of the Day: Mark Steyn on Equal Justice Under Law

Just look at what l'affaire David Gregory hath wrought. Steyn observes:
Laws either apply to all of us or none of us. If they apply only to some, they’re not laws but caprices — and all tyranny is capricious.
Well, DUH.  Of course, I also feel compelled to offer this PSA: "The Fact That A Law Exists Doesn't Mean That It's Not Stupid."  (On a related note, remember this?  We're all felons now, eh?)  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Quote of the Day: Samuel L. Jackson on Gun Violence

From a recent interview during which the reporter asked about Newtown:
"I don't think movies or video games have anything to do with it. I don't think [stopping gun violence] is about more gun control. I grew up in the South with guns everywhere, and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people who aren't taught the value of life."
Or more to the point, "don't care about the value of life."

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers

Oui, mon ami.  Regulators and unions coming for your traditional unpasteurized artisan fromage?  TO THE BARRICADES!

Art Imitates Crop Circles

Art? Exercise? Both!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Taiwan: Security Issues Never Take a Holiday

While I've been obsessing about holiday recipes (naughty), Dignified Rant still has his eye on the ball (nice).

Happy Holidays from the Military Working Dogs of Afghanistan

I know I'm a day late for Christmas, but the pups are so adorable that I'm sure you (a) won't mind and (b) would be more annoyed with me if I didn't share them!  More here, where there's info if you would like to send a care package.

Movie Madness: "The Place Beyond the Pines"

Something to look forward to in 2013!  Gentlemen, Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne. Ladies, Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. I don't like Ryan's chemical hair and uber-tattoos, but at the same time, I don't even care.  The only words that matter: Ryan with a baby.  Even this childless unmarried monster is instantly enthralled.  Here's the trailer.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

MM in the Kitchen: Traditional Roast Christmas Goose

Golly, the whole thing makes me want to wear hoopskirts and bonnets and go full Victorian Christmas!

Merry Christmas: King's College, Cambridge's Annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Here is the background, and you can listen to the lovely Christmas music on BBC World Service online for a few more days.  The first carol is always "Once in Royal David's City," and it's gorgeous, simply gorgeous. Enjoy, gentle reader!

Blast from Past: Christmas 1994 is Still Terribly Catchy

No, I do not apologize.  Yes, I got coal in my stocking for posting this.

Inevitable: Christmas Lights Gangnam Style

From the Cine-Sib, natch:

Operation Christmas Drop

Now here's a heartwarming tale.  For some kids in Micronesia, Santa wears a flight suit:

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the Night Before Christmas *Hic*

A bit of salty language so this isn't for little kids, but I think it's hilarious.  Enjoy!


Christmas Eve Santa Tracking!

Lots of options, including apps for your smartphone.  NORAD is still my favorite as it carries on its grand old tradition dating from 1955.

MM in the Kitchen: Rosemary-Roasted Beef Tenderloin

With horseradish cream.

TSA = Terrible Shenanigans Again

As everyone travels to spend Christmas with family and friends, here are two giggles to help you on your way if you're flying:

~TSA = Taking Sense Away according to this blog by a former TSA screener

~Remy is back with another holiday TSA video (recall his hilarious 2011 offering?):

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Treegonometry: The Formula for A Perfectly Trimmed Christmas Tree

Some math students at the University of Sheffield have come up with "treegonometry," formulae and all, and they've made a calculator to help you decorate your tree!

MM in the Kitchen: Macadamia-Crusted Rack of Lamb

Doesn't rack of lamb sound yummy?  In fact, this entire decadent Christmas menu from Australia sounds glorious.

The Champagne Index of French National Happiness

Apparently this index isn't official, but it darn well ought to be.  France is currently having a bad case of the holiday blues, and sales of bubbly are way, way down.

"Necessary Measures": Israel Planning for a Post-Assad Syria

Hmmmm.  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, as usual?  Netanyahu:
"We are monitoring developments in Syria, where there are dramatic developments almost daily. We are co-operating with the US and, together with the international community, are taking the necessary measures to prepare ourselves for the possibility of far-reaching changes in the regime, with implications for the sensitive weapons systems there."

Ivy League Admissions and Asian American Students

*Sigh.*  

RELATED: Entrance exam issues at Stuy earlier this year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Larry Correia on Gun Control

Why should you care what a bestselling sci-fi author has to say about guns?  Because he was also a firearms instructor and competition shooter who has worked with law enforcement and knows more about guns than your average talking head on the news.  Read this, please, if you haven't already.  Here is a piece of it:
Gun Free Zones are hunting preserves for innocent people. Period. 
Think about it. You are a violent, homicidal madman, looking to make a statement and hoping to go from disaffected loser to most famous person in the world. The best way to accomplish your goals is to kill a whole bunch of people. So where’s the best place to go shoot all these people? Obviously, it is someplace where nobody can shoot back. 
In all honesty I have no respect for anybody who believes Gun Free Zones actually work. You are going to commit several hundred felonies, up to and including mass murder, and you are going to refrain because there is a sign? That No Guns Allowed sign is not a cross that wards off vampires. It is wishful thinking, and really pathetic wishful thinking at that.
On another day I might blog about how I personally think that most efforts at gun control are actually and ultimately efforts at people control, but you pretty much can anticipate what I'd say, right? As for arguments that nobody should own firearms except the police ...  Just stop and think about that for a minute.  Do proponents of this realize that they're basically arguing in favor not only of more crime but also a potential police state?  What happens if and when it gets corrupted and nasty and starts to abuse power and stomp on your civil liberties?  Anyway, it's too late tonight to talk much more about a complicated issue and meditations on self-defense (not only as a right but also even as a responsibility), so I'm just going to sign off with this and one of my favorite lines from Firefly.  You know the one, darlings. Oh, you know.

MM in the Kitchen: Bacon and Spinach-Stuffed Rib-Eye Roast

What do you think of this for Christmas dinner?  Mmmmm, BACON.

Movie Review: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)


Put a ring on it.

Peter Jackson manages to avoid repeating George Lucas' grossest errors in prequel-formation as he takes us back to Middle Earth in an imperfect, overly long film that is still worth the price of admission for the simultaneously humorous and horrifying contest of riddles between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Apocalypse Not!

Geek Fun: The Gingerbread Mars Rover

Sweet!

Movie Madness: Apocalypsinema

5 movies to watch as you wait for impending doom!  I reviewed glorious #5 here.  Oh, and for one apocalypsey flick to avoid, see this review.

Movie Madness: Dumbest Apocalypse Scenarios On Film

It's the end of the world as we know it ... and I feel fiiiiiiiine!

Friday Fun Video: Dubstep Christmas Lights

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Quote of the Day: the Rush to Blame

From the good folks over at TechDirt:
The tragedy last week in Connecticut is still horrifying to think about on many different levels -- but the constant search for blame, and using it to support pet political ideas is troubling. This isn't to say that we don't necessarily need to have a "conversation" on various hot potato political issues, but basing it around an event like this isn't likely to be a productive and informed conversation, but one driven purely by emotions. I understand the desire, and the idea that making use of such a tragedy to create political will to do something, is all too tempting. But I fear what happens when we legislate around emotions, rather than reality. And, no I'm not even going to touch the question of gun control or mental health treatment. Both obviously evoke strong opinions from people on all sides of the issue (and, contrary to popular opinion, there are more than two sides to those issues). Instead, let's talk about the rush to blame video games and TV shows, as seems to happen every single time there's a mass shooting -- and almost always done with no evidence. 

Some Good News: Richard Engel & News Crew Freed in Syria

Oh, thank goodness!
NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and members of his network production team were freed from captors in Syria after a firefight at a checkpoint on Monday, five days after they were taken prisoner, NBC News said early Tuesday. 
“After being kidnapped and held for five days inside Syria by an unknown group, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his production crew members have been freed unharmed. We are pleased to report they are safely out of the country,” the network said in a statement. 
“It is good to be here,” Engel said during a live appearance on TODAY from Turkey. “I’m very happy that we’re able to do this live shot this morning.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quote of the Day: Surveillance Society

Absolutely:
It’s anyone’s guess how we are supposed to stop terrorism by focusing so much of our energies on monitoring the activities of people who will never be terrorists.
Not unrelated: the execrable (and useless) TSA, along with everything we've ever said about the encroaching, intrusive, snooping government playing fast and loose with civil liberties and every rant ever about how we are citizens, not subjects.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Life Imitates the Onion: Kim Jong Un

The Onion. The results of a recent Time magazine reader poll.  (How many of those votes do you think were cast by trolls and other snarky Internet agents provocateurs?)

LOL: Tolkien + One Direction = ?

The Hobbit is now in theaters, so let's have some fun with Tolkien and a certain pop song.  Now the last time that I mentioned UK boy band One Direction, it was not a happy occasion, but I promise this time is different!  Caveat: the song is darn catchy earwormy goodness.
 

Quote of the Day: The Syria Debacle

Unkind, but not necessarily untrue:
Watching the nightmare in Syria unfold, you have to ask yourself: Could the Obama administration have made a worse hash out of the situation if it had tried?

Friday Fun Video: Singing Vikings

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Meet the Rare New Guinea Singing Dog

Good boy!

Property Rights ... In Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!

All kidding aside, this is very interesting.

Worse Than $7 Coffee at Starbucks

Thanks, but no thanks.  And yes, I know all about that civet cat coffee too, and I'm not going for that either.  Ugh.

All Politics Are Local

I can get on board with this!  This proposal also means no bailouts, I assume, that take money from fiscally responsible states to "rescue" irresponsible ones.

It's 12-12-12 Today

Hey!  Today is 12-12-12 regardless of whether you are reckoning it by the American way (month, day, year) or not (day, month, year).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Econ Prof: "Why Is Higher Ed So Expensive?"

Econ prof Daniel Lin explains why higher ed is so expensive and why government subsidies for it are so ultimately counter-productive:


Philippines and Japanese Rearmament

WWII history or not, Manila appears to be absolutely fine with the idea.  Everybody's interested in counterbalancing China. Remember this?  WWII was 60+ years ago.  Manila is worrying about right now.

The UK and Syria

Hm, what's this?

The Science Behind the Disgusting Durian

In case you ever wondered just how and why the durian reeks the way it does. Ewwwww!

LOL: LEGO Battle of Helm's Deep

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Therapy: Total Unhinged Vehicular Mayhem

Because no matter how bad your commute is, it can't be this bad.  Via Ace of Spades and the Cine-Sib, here come 13 minutes of pure insanity.  I don't speak Russian, but I think it's safe to say there should be a language warning if you do. I can't help but quote Ace too:
When you drive in Russia literally anything can happen - and does. If you watch the full 13 minutes of this video you'll see that the Russian driver has to be prepared for sheep, drunks, tires, trees, elks, front loaders, gun fights, power lines, helicopters, and even jet planes at any moment.
I haven't seen this many cars entertainingly crashed since the Blues Brothers. And yes wanton destruction makes me all tingly and happy inside.
I laughed uproariously ... and then watched the entire video all over again.
 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Internet Cat Culture + International Relations = ?

This.

Friday Fun Video: The British Monarchy In Song

After all the hoopla this week about the royal bun in the oven, let's take a look at the line of monarchs that Baby Cambridge will join as third in line to the throne (it's Queen Elizabeth II now, then Prince Charles, then Prince William, and then Baby Cambridge).  The song starts with William the Conqueror.  Sorry, Anglo-Saxons!  Too bad about that whole Battle of Hastings thing, guys.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Headline of the Day on Libya

I present the following New York Times (!) headline without comment:
"U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands"

Geek News: Congress, the UN, and Internet Regulations

For once Congress did something right.

Movie Madness: "Star Trek: Into Darkness" Trailer

Quote of the Day: Axes to Grind

From some useful thoughts on civil discourse and trying to see where the other person is coming from:
My hypothesis is that progressives, conservatives, and libertarians view politics along three different axes. For progressives, the main axis has oppressors at one end and the oppressed at the other. For conservatives, the main axis has civilization at one end and barbarism at the other. For libertarians, the main axis has coercion at one end and free choice at the other.
Of course, these are just guidelines. I'm inclined to see coercion in its most flagrant forms as a kind of barbarism.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Forgotten History: the Philanthropist and the Queen

Interesting stuff here:
She is regarded as the ancient world’s equivalent to the Mona Lisa and this weekend the 3,400–year old bust of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti will be the centrepiece of a grand exhibition in Berlin’s Neues Museum, celebrating her discovery by German archaeologists exactly a century ago.

The delicately featured and priceless bust of the wife of the ancient Egyptian Sun King Akhenaten has been one of the highlights of Berlin’s museum collection since it was first put on display in the city in 1923.

It was unearthed by the famous German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, at Amarna in 1912. He became a household name in Germany but few know the story of the wealthy Jewish patron and philanthropist who not only funded the excavation work that led to the bust’s discovery but also donated Nefertiti and scores of other ancient Egyptian artefacts he owned to Berlin’s museums. Organisers of the centenary celebrations are hoping to change that.
Yes, please meet James Simon, who was written out of the history books after the rise of the Nazis in 1933.

Amid Egyptian Turmoil, A Notable Placard

As protesters rush the Presidential Palace, Twitter reveals a particularly piquant sign.  Oh ... dear.

Seriously, though, here are a few thoughts, including:
Watch this one closely, folks. This is a real revolution: The shape of the Egyptian state is up for grabs and Egyptian society doesn’t really know what it wants or where it is headed. History is unfolding in real time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

LOL: New York City as Tolkienesque Map

Look carefully for all the jokes. Don't miss the reference to a certain New Jersey governor too!

Wow: Making (Personalized!) Stem Cells From Blood

Some exciting news from the University of Cambridge:
A patient's own blood has been used to make personalised stem cells, which doctors hope will eventually be used to treat a range of diseases.

The team at the University of Cambridge says this could be one of the easiest and safest sources of stem cells.

In a study, published in the journal Stem Cells: Translational Medicine, the cells were used to build blood vessels.

However, experts cautioned that the safety of using such stem cells was still unclear.

Gorgeous Photos from NatGeo's Annual Competition

Look at these lovely photos submitted by some of the world's best shutterbugs.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A Tale of Two Headlines

December 1: "More Babies, Please."

December 3: "Kate's Pregnant: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Announce They Are Having a Baby."

Oh, and congratulations!  Now before you go off whingeing about the hoopla, I just want to say this: Why?  This is pretty much like all the griping about the wedding last year.  Two young people are happily taking a leap of faith together and starting a family. Say congratulations and good luck to them as to any couple who are doing likewise, and leave it at that. I think it's delightful that folks are excited about a baby!  Such happy and hopeful news!

Meet Shin Dong-hyuk, North Korean Refugee

Shin Dong-hyuk was born in a North Korean prison camp and escaped at age 23.
 

His story, Escape From Camp 14, is here.

Book Review: "The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza" by Eyal Weizman (2012)

The book (or at least its intent) sounds interesting, and this review even more so since it actually uses the delightful and grossly underappreciated word "defenestrated" a few paragraphs in. Anyway, here's a blurb:
For Weizman, instead of regulating or limiting violence, international humanitarian law (that is, the laws of war) actually legitimates certain manifestations of it. This is due to the utilitarian logic that pervades our thinking about violence caused by states and their agents, reasoning that sees “the sphere of morality as a set of calculations aimed to approximate the optimum proportion between common goods and necessary evils.” According to Weizman, deeming certain evils “necessary” provides the conceptual cover for further acts of cruelty. What begins as a “pragmatic compromise” between two terrible choices becomes an acceptable logic in less than exceptional circumstances. The logic of the exception is widened; the infliction of suffering is made civilized and inevitable. Weizman focuses largely on the concept of proportionality.

Quirky Euro Files, Holiday Edition: the Gävle Goat of Sweden

Let's see how long he can hang on this year before somebody burns him down! Here's a webcam and even a blog and Twitter account for the gigantic straw goat. You gotta love a holiday tradition that involves ritual arson.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

An Advent Calendar For Grownups

Need a wee dram to get you through the holiday stresses?  Here's something perfect for that.  Or this.  It all brings a whole new meaning to the term "Christmas spirit."

Canada Vs. the UN

I hadn't posted about the kerfuffle in the UN on the upgraded status for the Palestinians, but now I think I have to because Canadian-raised Alessandra just alerted me to a news item with the pleased comment: "Did you hear that the Canadians grew some balls?"  There's no way you can ignore a news item like that!

Headline of the Day + Best Use of Scare Quotes

Ah, British humour! The Telegraph can barely contain the gleeful disdain: "North Korea 'archaeologists' report quite unbelievable discovery of unicorn lair." 

I love the use of scare quotes around the word 'archaeologists.' Note the brilliant choice of accompanying image. Well played, Telegraph.  The only thing you could do to improve it would be to Photoshop Kim Jong Un into the mix so that he's riding that unicorn ... or perhaps do something like this.

I think I'll also nominate this tale as "worst/dumbest propaganda of the year." 

Rachel Lucas on the Fiscal Cliff Shenanigans

What do you think? Rachel's also running an impromptu poll, where currently the "let it burn" option is winning by a huge margin. 

An additional thought: everyone's howling about taxes, but the bigger problem is the government spending, and that does include entitlement reform.

Meanwhile, I'm sure we're all delighted that Obama's apparently scheduled a 20-day Hawaiian vacation over Christmas, so if we do go sailing over the fiscal cliff in fine Thelma and Louise fashion, he'll be off sunning himself in Oahu or whatever on $4 million of taxpayer money.  "Let them eat Hawaiian vacations"? 

Yeah, that really demonstrates how much he cares for the little guy, the unemployed guy, the people actually suffering from the toxic effects of this craptastic economy.  Hey!  I thought a bunch of people voted for him because you thought he was more "empathetic" or some touchy-feely nonsense like that.  O RLY?  I bet he'll really be feeling your pain when he's out there surfing for 3 whole weeks.  The optics are horrible, but nobody seems to mind. (No, I don't care if it's a habitual place to go for him. I'm talking about right now.)  Meanwhile, the closest your humble hostess is going to get to Hawaii any time soon is this.

RELATED POST: LOL, though it's not funny, not funny at all.  There's no way you can seriously propose $50 billion for another ill-advised round of stimulus spending, much less - well - any of the rest of it.