Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So You're Not Paranoid If They Really Are Spying On You

My technophile buddy Alessandra would like you to know that she was right after all about digital privacy: "I told you so."

LOL: Dave Barry's 2013 In Review

Barry is as hilarious as ever.  Here's a taste of his retrospective:
This year was so bad that twerking wasn’t even the stupidest dance craze. That would be the “Harlem Shake,” which is not so much a dance as a mass nervous-system disorder, and which makes the “Gangnam Style” dance we mocked in 2012 look like “Swan Lake.”
Well, he's not wrong!  The entire piece is full of quotable bits, but I leave you with this:
On the Obamacare front, the administration declares that the federal Web site has been significantly improved, although there are still occasional glitches, such as one that enables a Milwaukee woman seeking to compare dental plans to accidentally launch a tactical nuclear strike against Guatemala.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Nerd Fun: Hilariously Reductive Theses

The brilliant blog Lol My Thesis invites nerds to submit humorous summaries of their research projects, theses, and dissertations.  My current top 3 favorites:

3) "Screw you. Love, the Polish language" - linguistics thesis from Cornell

2) "Rats like cocaine" - a psychology thesis from Reed College

And a drum roll for the best of them all ...

1)  "Why is the Security Council dysfunctional? Because the Russians are devious liars" - a political science thesis from the University of Pennsylvania

The Year In Middle East Foreign Policy: The Biggest Losers

Out of a very crowded field, this piece picks three: the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (an Iranian resistance group), the Syrian rebels, and (of course) Israel. 

The quote of the day comes from the article too:
"The lesson there is, when the United States says it has your back, don't listen."
How damning.  As for "smart power," this feckless Administration makes it look dumber all the time.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in" AKA the Breaking Bad marathon

FYI, AMC is right this minute running a marathon of its iconic pop culture Emmy-winning behemoth Breaking Bad.  Just when I thought I had gotten over the fact that the show had ended, this brings it all back.  What a great show.  It's streaming on Netflix too, so if you've never tried it, you've no excuse.  (Besides, no matter how awful your family holiday gathering is, at least you're not the Whites and Schraders.)  Also, either you ultimately love Jesse Pinkman, or you're wrong.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nerd News: The Latest Academic Boycott of Israel ... and Its Opponents

So another academic organization wants to boycott Israeli institutions (hence the tag "Nerds Behaving Badly"), but this time the pushback has been gratifyingly robust. Law prof William Jacobson has been keeping track of this and of the increasing number of institutions that are voicing their opposition.  Here is a collection of official statements by various university presidents on the topic.

Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan University, has recently written an op-ed about this in the Los Angeles Times, and it is worth a read.  Here's a piece of it (and it's also the quote of the day):
Boycotts don't serve these debates; they seek to cut them off by declaring certain academic institutions and their faculty off-limits. This tactic, in the words of Richard Slotkin, an emeritus professor here at Wesleyan University, "is wrong in principle, politically impotent, intellectually dishonest and morally obtuse." 
As president of Wesleyan, and as a historian, I deplore this politically retrograde resolution of the American Studies Assn. Under the guise of phony progressivism, the group has initiated an irresponsible attack on academic freedom. Others in academia should reject this call for an academic boycott.
Academic boycotts are antithetical to the very idea of academic freedom.  Every responsible nerd should be voicing his/her opposition.  This is the real issue.  Israeli policy is not.  Remember, darlings, that the AAUP opposes all academic boycotts as a matter of principle.

RELATED POST: Here.

UPDATE: Even the Washington Post editorial weighs in: "terribly misguided" and "fundamentally wrong."

"Comically Meaningless"

Econ prof Greg Mankiw considers a statement by the New York Times.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Another TSA Christmas

This is from last year, but it's still as hilarious as ever.  My homeward journey this year was a complete mess, and my hatred of the useless, annoying TSA remains unabated.

Track Santa with NORAD ... on Twitter!

Track Santa on Twitter if you're not on the website!

'Twas the Night Before Christmas in Celebrity Voices

Breaking Gingerbread

It's a delightful gingerbread version of that infamous rolling meth lab. More here.


My own private (edible) domicile!

Nerd Fun: CERN, Legos, and Google Streetview

Kudos.

Paglia, Althouse, and Ace on Free Speech and Media Companies

The media companies are getting coal in their stockings this Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fighting Fire With Jet Fuel

Oops.

Christmas Cookies For Breakfast

Guilty pleasure or just pleasure?  I'd be lying to your face if I said I'd never done it.

Unmentionable: French Lingerie Industry Is In Trouble

Mon Dieu!   Here's an amusing factoid that surprises absolutely nobody: the French totally outspend the Germans and Brits when it comes to lingerie.

Short Version: "Your Foreign Policy Sucks"

You know, when the Saudi ambassador calls you out in the New York Times, that's probably not a good sign, hmmmm?
And yet rather than challenging the Syrian and Iranian governments, some of our Western partners have refused to take much-needed action against them. The West has allowed one regime to survive and the other to continue its program for uranium enrichment, with all the consequent dangers of weaponization.

Naughty Or Nice? "Die Hard" As Christmas Movie

Ace thinks the iconic Bruce Willis action flick is indeed a Christmas movie, and I'm inclined to agree!  While we're at it, Iron Man 3 is set at Christmas too.  Would I rather watch these movies than yet another round of It's A Wonderful Life?  YOU BETCHA.

Quote of the Day: Remembering the Persecuted Christians of the Middle East

OK, I've mocked Prince Charles plenty in the past (and will continue to do so in the future, I'm sure) for some of the silly things he's said. But sometimes he gets it right. Like right now, as he offers up this reminder about the ongoing persecution of Christians in the Middle East, the atrocity that almost nobody in the media ever mentions. Here's a bit of it:
“I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East.  It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are increasingly being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants.”

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pajama Boy: What The Hell Is THIS?

The people entrusted with Obamacare publicity actually think this is a good idea?  Even left-wing shill MSNBC can't stop guffawing.  Rich Lowry calls this smug little hipster fool in a plaid onesie (a onesie!) "an insufferable man-child," and I can't agree more.  I finally survive finals and emerge into the land of the living and ... run smack into this insultingly infantilizing mess.  Hell, I think I would rather be drowning in my exam-week books and papers, where for two weeks I was too busy to notice the government's ongoing descent into oblivious self-parody.  

While we're on the topic, let me just say that nothing is a bigger turn-off than smug urban-cool hipster guys who think they're smarter and cuter than they really are.  Ugh.  If this is what "enlightened" guys are supposed to be like these days, give me a rugged, unreconstructed, unapologetic cowboy any day of the week.  You know, someone who actually has a confident definition for "self-reliance" and "masculinity." 

2013's 50 Best Movie Characters

See if your favorites are on MTV's list!

The Great West Point Egg Nog Riot of 1826

Oh, egg nog.  Please drink responsibly.  Oh, and look who was there for the egg nog riot: Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.  Yes, THAT Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nerd Journal: Exams Are Done!

Or, I should say, the grading is done.  Students panic and procrastinate before exams, instructors after.  Grading is, bar none, the worst part of this whole evaluative process.  Still, it's all over for this semester.  Time to celebrate!  I'm too darn tired to hit the dance floor, so I'll let someone else do it instead.

 

Bust a move.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Camille Paglia Trolls the Extreme Feminists

There's no other way I can think of to describe this article.  Time to make some popcorn and watch the fireworks!

Nerd News: Hahvahd Student Arrested for Bomb Hoax

So is this guy a bigger idiot than he is a dirtbag? Tough call.  Apparently he wanted to get out of taking his final exams.  SCREW YOU, MAN.  Suck it up and do it like the rest of us.

UPDATE: Quote of the day about this:
“I don't think any lawyer in the world could save him at this point,” said Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz, who predicted Kim will plead guilty.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Friday Fun Video: Pachelbel's Canon Rocks the Cello


Absolutely charming, though my favorite version of Pachelbel's one-hit wonder is still this, aka what my wedding will probably sound like, much to the abject horror of my mom and all the little Asian aunties.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cuba Libre Is Only A Drink

It's not a location. Stalwart journalist Michael Totten reports from the land of Fidel (via Samizdata).  His account is full of fascinating information, but I was especially struck by this observation:
I had to lie by omission every minute of every hour of every day just like the Cubans.  A person could get used to this sort of thing, I suppose, but that does not make it less alienating.  That’s the counterintuitive thing about totalitarian systems.  They herd people into Borg-like collectives, yet every individual is savagely atomized. 
I never felt so alone in my life.

Law and Disorder

Here are two related thoughts and quotations on lawlessness in governing.

Thought the first: Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post (via Transterrial Musings):
We've now reached a point where a flailing president, desperate to deflect the opprobrium heaped upon him for the false promise that you could keep your health plan if you wanted to, calls a hasty news conference urging both insurers and the states to reinstate millions of such plans. 
Except that he is asking them to break the law. His own law. Under Obamacare, no insurer may issue a policy after 2013 that does not meet the law’s minimum coverage requirements. These plans were canceled because they do not. 
The law remains unchanged. The regulations governing that law remain unchanged. Nothing is changed except for a president proposing to unilaterally change his own law from the White House press room. 
That's banana republic stuff, except that there the dictator proclaims from the presidential balcony.
Thought the second: Daniel Hannan on the EU:
Shall I tell you the worst thing about the EU? It's not the waste or the corruption or the Michelin-starred lifestyles of its leaders. It's not the contempt for voters or the readiness to swat referendum results aside. It's not the way that multi-nationals and NGOs and all manner of corporate interests are privileged over consumers. It's not the pettifogging rules that plague small employers. It's not the Common Agricultural Policy or the Common Fisheries Policy. It's not the anti-Britishness or the anti-Americanism. It's not even the way in which the euro is inflicting preventable poverty on tens of millions of southern Europeans. 
No, it's something more objectionable than any of these things – and something which, bizarrely, doesn't exercise us nearly as much as it should. Put simply, it's this: the EU makes up the rules as it goes along. 
Just think, for a moment, about what that means. It means that any deal you've signed can be arbitrarily altered later. It means that any plans you've made, on the basis of what you took to be binding agreements, can be retrospectively destroyed. It means, in short, that there is no effective rule of law.
A world of arbitrary, whimsical fiat.  Laws are for the little people.

Quote of the Day: China's Anti-Japanese Agitprop

Hmmm:
"The CCP may not want a conflict with Japan, but it's been telling Chinese youth for 20+ years that Japan is greatly responsible for the '100 years of humiliation.' So now the CCP is stuck; they have to be tough on Japan—even if they don't want to be—because their citizens demand it. The CCP has created an anti-Japanese frankenstein at home that has to be placated. They have to ride the anti-Japanese tiger their education/propaganda has created, or risk a domestic backlash."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Satire Alert: "Siblings Gather Around PowerPoint To Hash Out Off-Limits Topics For Thanksgiving"

It's all the more hilarious because it's a little too close to the truth, isn't it?

Nerd News: MIT Bets On MOOCs

MIT goes all in.

One Law Grad's Cri du Coeur

As commentary on the craptacular prospects for law grads these days, this is some kind of brilliant.  (Language warning.) 

Hope, Change, and the Iran Deal

Dignified Rant considers the deal.  The conclusion?  "We are so screwed."  I concur.

PS: Peace in our time, yo! Sarcasm, aside, though, consider this, which gives us the quote of the day:
 This Administration in its record on the Middle East appears to have a unique ability not to see the approach of danger. 
You don't say!  Well, none are as blind as those who refuse to see.  I repeat this previously voiced sentiment.  Oh, and keep your eye on the Israelis, who are disgusted with this deal "historic mistake," and I can't blame them.  Ummm ... dude?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Movie Review: "Thor: The Dark World"



"Thor: The Dark World"?  No, my darlings.  You know how you eat your boring vegetables just so that you can then have a decadently delicious dessert?  This movie is pretty much the same thing: we put up with a great many idiocies and narrative missteps just so that we can have Loki in the second half.  The title of this movie really should be "Please Tolerate A Lame Villain, a Muddled Premise, a Stupid Love Story, Meaningless Bit Characters, Idris Elba Wasted Again, and Stellan Skargård In Underpants So You Can Have Loki ... Eventually."  The flick is worth the price of admission for (and pretty much only for) the indispensable presence of Tom Hiddleston's irresistible, sinuously feline god of mischief now in his third appearance (after Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012)).  OK, here's a more fitting poster:


Monday, November 11, 2013

This Day In History: November 11, 1918

Nerd Fun: One Professor's Hilarious Announcement


Via Imgur.

Monday Therapy: Literature Hath Charms ...

It's not just music that hath charms to soothe a savage breast!  Literature can too.  Since Mondays are by nature savage, let's see if we can get some literary therapy to take the edge off the day.

I think a whole lot of people would be much more interested in lit if we got more wonderful people to do more poetry readings.  I don't even really LIKE e.e. cummings, subject of the first reading, but the reading is remarkable.  Reading is a performing art, all right.  Let's start, shall we?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Terrified By Screaming At 1 AM, Neighbors Call the Cops ...

Who rush in to find that the folks next door were just trying to assemble IKEA furniture.  

Hey, don't laugh!  If you've ever tried to put that stuff together, you'll be screaming, crying, cursing, howling, and throwing things in no time flat.

Tweet of the Day: Iowahawk on Satellite

Egypt Pivots to Putin?

Oh, I'm sure this is going to turn out just awesome for US foreign policy.  I never realized I'd be getting so much mileage out of this image:


Movie Review: "At Berkeley," A Documentary On Higher Ed

Here's a movie review.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Belated Friday Fun: Who's Better - Thor or Loki?

Right on time for the premiere of Thor 2: The Dark World, Comedy Central riffs on the delightful series of AT&T commercials with Loki, Norse god of mischief himself (played by charming Brit Tom Hiddleston, previously seen here):

Monday, November 04, 2013

This Isn't Fun Anymore

I guess by "this" I mean observing and commenting on domestic and foreign politics.  The inmates are running the asylum.  Everywhere I turn utter madness is running rampant.   Commentary via animated gifs below:

Nerd News: NYU Sophomore Has Worst Day Ever

The 19-year-old college student spent it stuck in a 2-foot-wide space between his dorm and the neighboring building; he had to be rescued by the FDNY.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lest We Forget, The Kids Aren't All Right

Yeah, we're all totally screwed:
Washington has willfully ignored the looming crisis of entitlement spending, knowingly consigning young Americans to a future of crushing debt, persistent underemployment, and burdensome regulation. Politicians on both sides of the aisle share the blame.
While we're at it, let's note the particular problem of school debt which is - surprise! - made ever worse by political attempts to "fix" it:
This summer, Congress made a big bipartisan show of cutting student loan rates to 3.4 percent from an already artificially low 6.8 percent. But even that seemingly helpful gesture will wind up hurting the Americans it claims to help. Federal student aid, whether in the form of grants or loans, is the main factor behind the runaway cost of higher education. Subsidies raise prices, leading to higher subsidies, which raise prices even more. This higher education bubble, like the housing bubble before it, will eventually pop. Meanwhile, large numbers of students will graduate with more debt than they would have in an unsubsidized market.
S-C-R-E-W-E-D.

Schadenfreudelicious: A Taste Of Your Own Medicine

*Snort*  (thanks to the incomparably engaging Iowahawk on Twitter)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Discovered: World's First Venomous Crustacean

A venomous what?!  Right on time for Halloween comes this creepifying animal tale from - where else? - Down Under. 

Halloween Humor: Pop Culture Pumpkins!

Praise the gourd!

I'm Shocked ... SHOCKED: Californians Appalled By Rising Health Insurance Costs

Oh, yeeeeeeah, like we couldn't see this coming.  But apparently some Californians didn't.  Time to pay up, suckers.  Gullibility and stupidity are expensive, yo.  

Plus there's this precious little comment:
Although recent criticism of the healthcare law has focused on website glitches and early enrollment snags, experts say sharp price increases for individual policies have the greatest potential to erode public support for President Obama's signature legislation.
You don't say!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nerd Journal: Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Reason for my prolonged absence? Two words: MIDTERM EXAMS.  I should be back online here soon.  Those of you who no longer have to deal with midterms as student or teacher, rejoice and be grateful!  I haven't slept in days.  Literally days.  I quit counting the number of cups of coffee I've been going through per day because I decided I don't want to know.  Is it possible to get coffee poisoning?  Ha.

"This Day Is Called The Feast of Crispian"

It's October 25, Saint Crispin's Day!  This of course means that it's the perfect excuse to talk about the Battle of Agincourt of 1415, Henry V, and Shakespeare!

Here's that famous battle speech as performed by Kenneth Branagh, and here is the BBC's glorious 2012 production of Henry V, streaming online now at PBS until November 7.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How Does Fido Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways.

A neuroscientist has a new book exploring how dogs love their humans.

Latest Nobel Nonsense

So this year's Peace Prize went to a gaggle of chemical weapons inspectors.  Whatever, man.  On the up side, at least it didn't go to Pooty-Poot.  I'll just leave you with this from the immortal Ron Swanson:

Forced Student Labor in China

"Working your way through school" takes on a whole different meaning.  Even worse, some of the students are underage.

Oops, I Did It Again

The guy who inflicted Rebecca Black's gobsmackingly horrendous "Friday" song on the world has done it again.  This time it's even worse.  It's an unbelievably awful song about Chinese food.  Nope, if you want a song about Chinese food that's actually good and charming and not racially insulting, go here instead

Life Imitates "Jurassic Park"

Just found: a fossilized blood-engorged insect in amber.  I hope everyone's seen Jurassic Park!

Nerd News: Education On Demand?

But can you really Tivo an entire education?  I don't think so.  Real education involves give-and-take, interaction, mentorship, practice, and a whole host of other things.  You can maybe Tivo lectures, but lectures alone do not a real education make.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Master and Apprentice: Women Mentoring Too Much?

Hmmmm.

IKEA Furniture or Death Metal Band?

Surprisingly entertaining.

The Summation Of Everything

Foreign policy snafus, domestic policy circuses, political nonsense, government shutdown, Obamacare, idiotic media, plus my "real life" (read: it's midterm exam time in Nerdworld and all hell's broken loose!) ... We're all short of time, money, energy, and patience.  I feel completely exhausted.  The whole kit and kaboodle can basically be summed up by this animated image from a favorite show:

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Nerd Journal: Lacking Not The Will But The Capacity

One of my acquaintances just got on social media and, in a rage about the government shutdown, wished for the extinction of the Republicans.  Yes, this person used the word "extinction."  Yeah, scratch the surface of an ardent leftie and you find a nascent tyrant, yadda yadda yadda, but it's always a bloody disappointment when this happens to be true of someone you personally know.  

I don't care if the statement was supposed to be a "joke."  Decent, reasonable people can disagree on policy, but they do not wish extinction on political opponents.  You don't say, "Gee, I wish I could just disappear everyone who doesn't agree with me."  How many eggs do you want to break so you can make your leftist omelet?  Millions of dead kulaks would like to know.

You remember this earlier post?  I'm way beyond disappointment now.  I am in a towering rage.   I don't think I can actually be true friends with people like this. I can be a courteous classmate or colleague or co-worker or whatever, but I don't think I can really be friends with someone who spews political hatred.  Needless to say I've never told this person what I actually think.  


I'm not saying that I can't be friends at all with people who hold different political views.  I'm just saying that there's a Self-Righteous Hateful Jerk Threshold that I can't tolerate, you know?  Still, I recall what a friend of mine once said: "Hooray for free speech!  It lets you know who the jerks and idiots are so you can avoid them."  TRUE DAT, especially in an era of social media.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Blue and the Gray ... Now In Color!

Get an eyeful of these lovely colorized Civil War-era photos!

Lord of the LEGO!

Check out this amazing re-creation of the Helm's Deep with 150,000 bricks and 2000 minifigs!  All the incredible detail is documented here on Flickr.

You Don't Shut Down Memorials To People Who Once Shut Hitler Down

Photo of the week as WWII vets refuse to be barricaded out of their own memorial, government shutdown or not.  Seriously, in terms of cynical PR here, the Administration really blew it.  Oh, and more shenanigans at the Iwo Jima memorial.  

People aren't having it.  You know, when you provoke a bunch of 80-year-old war heroes to civil disobedience, you're doing it wrong.


The Ongoing Persecution of Christians in the Middle East

Alas even as there is almost no voice raised in their defense by Western politicians:
" ... in a vast belt of land from Morocco to Pakistan there is scarcely a single country in which Christians can worship entirely without harassment."

Awesomeness: Guns N' Roses On a Ghuzeng

Government Shutdown, Sunday Edition

Seriously?  Ugh.  

FYI: "The Shutdown Is a Sideshow. Debt Is the Threat."

Of course the shutdown is a cynical political sideshow. (But let's not forget who's culpable here, OK?)  Niall Ferguson has the grim reminder that the real problem is unsustainable debt.  Today's quote of the day comes from it:
"Only a fantasist can seriously believe 'this is not a crisis.'"
Unfortunately, the current political "leadership" is full of fantasists, fabulists, and willful deniers of reality.

LOL: Government Shutdown Pick-Up Lines on Twitter

Hey girl.  

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Nerd Journal: Government Shutdown Day 4

For the record, Nerdworld hasn't turned into Thunderdome.  Not remotely.  Life progresses with no perceptible change in ... well, anything.  When the nation doesn't instantly collapse into an apocalyptic wasteland of riots, looting, blood, fire, cannibals, gangs, and zombies, it just might make people think that gee, we seem to have a lot of NON-essential government workers.   (UPDATE: satire alert.)  




In a fine twist of irony, there was one incident of someone going postal that ended in gunfire, but that was in DC itself.  A young black woman with mental health issues was shot by the police in chaotic circumstances.  Horrible.

While we're talking about the homefront, Obamacare is in the headlines, so I'll just repeat what I told Alessandra about the train-wrecktastic Obamacare rollout: "If this were a presentation done by a student in class, I would cut the kid off in mid-word, lecture him about the absolute unacceptable shoddiness of his work, and send him home to do the whole thing over or else fail that grade on the spot."  

Hello Breaking Bad Kitty

From the show's own hilarious reference to fans' mashups, there's plenty of giggles.  The incongruity of a cutesypoo cartoon cat juxtaposed with the grim crime world of Breaking Bad is some kind of sick genius.

First from the show itself, Jesse realizes just what kind of emergency burner phone he's been given.  Poor Jesse.  Hasn't he suffered enough already?



Then some creative fan came up with Heisenberg Kitty who's a dead ringer for Walt's alter ego.  The little bow on the now-iconic porkpie hat is a great touch:



Another fan came up with this image of Hello Kitty in a hazmat suit, and it is just WRONG yet uproariously funny. I am seriously tempted to buy the shirt.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

LOL: SNL and Obamacare

The Obamacare debacle is such a headache that it's hard to find anything funny at all about it.  SNL, though, managed to milk it for a laugh or two:

Tweet of the Week: Gov't Is The Best Argument for Less Of It

A Tale of Two Speeches at the UN

It's obvious who's living in a perilous fantasyland and who's living in grim reality.  Here's a piece of Netanyahu's speech.  
Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map.  Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself.  I want there to be no confusion on this point: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons.  If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.  Yet in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.
Such clarity is rare indeed nowadays.  I can only wish our own wretched leadership were capable of it.  (Video of Netanyahu's entire speech here.) 

Quote of the Day: On the Shutdown Frenzy

Depressing thought:
The current crisis is only peripherally about health care exchanges and spending resolutions and vitriol spewed by the political and journalistic fraternities. The current crisis, at its heart, is about greed and the human lust for authority over other humans.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Ave atque Vale: Tom Clancy (1947-2013)

He will be missed.  His books are always enjoyable.  The Hunt For Red October was the first I read, and I loved it.  I was just a schoolgirl.  While my peers were reading Sweet Valley High, I was reading military thrillers.  Not much has changed - only now they're reading Fifty Shades of Awful and I'm still reading military thrillers.  Heh.

Hail and farewell to Tom Clancy.  Shall we maybe as a tribute re-watch the 1990 movie of the Red October book?  The cast includes the incomparable Sean Connery, James Earl Jones, Sam Neill, and - surprisingly - Tim Curry in a serious role.  It's one of the last Cold War movies made, and it's a lot of fun.

Nerd News: Student Loan Debtpocalypse Rolls On

Well, this can't be good:
10 percent of student borrowers are now defaulting on their student loans within two years of repayment, and nearly 15 percent are defaulting within three years.

Inevitable: Nominating Putin For The Nobel Peace Prize

So, yeah.  Of course, the Nobel Peace Prize had beclowned itself long before this.

Rant: I Cannot Believe The Way People Are Behaving

Then again, given the pathetic, crude, and nakedly craven examples being set by our supposed political "leadership," I am not really that surprised.  The name-calling, finger-pointing, abject temper tantrum-pitching, unabashed blame-throwing, obvious attempts to play this for selfish gain ... all couched in the most ludicrously hateful terms possible.  

Even worse is seeing people whom I personally know now acting out on social media and having absolutely epic meltdowns.  I have to say, sorry, people, but I just lost a whole bunch of respect for you.  I can't help it.  I won't be able to look at you the same way again.  It doesn't matter how smart you are or think you are; acting out like that makes you look awful.  Gee, it's enough to make you think that some people actually get off on spewing hatred.  Apparently a government shutdown also translates into the total shutdown of all civil discourse and basic courtesy.

Still worse is seeing my elders, including professional elders, acting like this.  

I'm sick and tired of all of this, so maybe you'll be OK with my decision to refuse to comment much more and to decide to write a big fat Breaking Bad review instead.

Meanwhile, after the fold, there's a little something musical for those post-Breaking Bad blues.  What a hilarious tribute to a classic catchword from the show.  I may or may not in a moment of rage deploy this tune in the next round of the apartment music wars (if a new round becomes necessary ... After the MmmBop offensive, the rude neighbor has been relatively well-behaved. Yes, MM believes in speaking softly and carrying a big 90s playlist).


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Quote of the Day: Seymour Hersh on Modern Journalism

The old Pulitzer Prize winner is none too pleased with the current state of things.  Here's a piece of it:
"... the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it's like you don't dare be an outsider any more."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Nerd Journal: Children of the 90s

Remember that 90s-pop-as-psyops post?  Here's a follow-up now that Hanson and you and I have grown up ... a little.  Fellow children of the 90s, enjoy:

 

Perverse Consequences and China's One-Child Policy

The entire policy is a barbarous atrocity.  

Disgustingly Cute: A Marine Rescues Baby Bunnies

No better friend, as the saying goes ... Four chick magnets orphaned rabbits get a second chance at life in Camp Pendleton, CA.  Here's a photo too:


Hero.

Cartoon Commentary: Internet Privacy


Only In Australia

The new prime minister can't move into his official residence because the place is infested with possums.  No, really.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tweet of the Day: Idiocy On Display

Remember how I've been slamming the Obama Administration for being deeply, disturbingly, delusionally unserious about foreign policy?  That meant for a little while I wasn't looking very hard at domestic policy.  Well, guess what, I'm finding equally epic unseriousness there too.  This is an actual tweet from the official White House Twitter account. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FREAKING KIDDING ME.  

Obama and company are trying to peddle Obamacare to an increasingly skeptical nation, its initial boosters are now jumping ship, the government's having to delay piece after piece of this craptastic law's implementation, and the best you can do is caption a gorram mouse on a swing?!   And, NO, rising insurance premiums are NOT ADORABLE.  I want to slam my head against the wall.  I wish we could call for a big fat vote of no confidence.

"Bond Girls" or "Bond Women"?

Someone thinks that the term "Bond Girls" should be changed to "Bond Women."  He then argues that James Bond wants real relationships with women and not just casual disposable sex, an argument that prompts La Parisienne and me to ask incredulously, Have you even seen any James Bond movies?  

And I don't care if the guy is writing Bond books.  He's no Ian Fleming.

007 is practically his own genre, and genres have expectations and rules.  Leave James Bond alone!  Let him drink, smoke, brawl, and flirt as much as he pleases as long as he's also sparring with Moneypenny and Q and M and going after bad guys.

Gee, next we'll see some awful wussified version of Bond who is a pacifist vegan hipster or something!  No, thanks.  I leave you with classic vintage Bond: women want him and men want to be him.  It's movie magic.


Oh, James.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Denial Is Not Just A River in Egypt

This speaks for itself, really:  Obama at the UN said that the world is a more stable place than it was 5 years ago.  We're living in the total defiance of reality, people.

How bad is bad?  Even the New York Times said he was "a somewhat diminished American president who faced a skeptical audience."  You don't say!

The Onion's mockery is now online.

Syria Analysis: Assad Is "Fortunate In His Enemies"

[Sarkis] Naoum {a Lebanese journalist} says that Assad has been singularly fortunate in his enemies: a fragmented Syrian opposition, divided Arab countries, and a Turkish government whose reach exceeds its grasp. 
"He is fortunate because he has Iran, which is willing to go all the way to support him, while there isn't a single Arab country that has this kind of determination to enter the battlefield on the side of the opposition", Naoum said. 
"He is also fortunate because there is an American president who has no appetite for war and because Russia wants to settle its scores with America (via Syria)".

Quote of the Week: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta Addresses His Nation

Indeed:
The despicable perpetrators of this cowardly act hoped to intimidate, divide and cause despondency among Kenyans. They would like us to retreat into a closed, fearful and fractured society where trust, unity and enterprise are difficult to muster.  An open and united country is a threat to evil doers everywhere.  With our values of solidarity and love for our homeland, we fought proudly and bravely to secure the freedom to lead our lives as we choose.  Our choice is codified in our Constitution. 
We have overcome terrorist attacks before. In fact, we have fought courageously and defeated them within and outside our borders. We will defeat them again. Terrorism in and of itself is the philosophy of cowards. 
The way we lead our lives; in freedom, openness, unity and consideration for each other represents our victory over all those who wish us ill.  We are as brave and invincible as the lions on our Coat of Arms. 
My Government stands ready to defend the nation from internal as well as external aggression.  I urge all Kenyans to stand together and see this dark moment through. Donate blood.  Provide information to the authorities.  Comfort and reassure the affected families.  Let us ashame [sic] the Devil and his works by demonstrating our timeless values of love, compassion and solidarity. 
…We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get them. We shall punish them for this heinous crime.

Kenya Police on Twitter

I forgot to post this earlier since life intervened, but here's the Kenya Police's official Twitter feed.  They've been live-tweeting their efforts at Westgate mall.  It's been riveting, and I'll just give one of their many tweets from the aftermath:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Nerd Journal: Musical Mayhem, AKA Turnabout Is Fair Play

It's a hot day, so I have my windows open.  Some totally rude idiot in a neighboring apartment is playing horrible dubstep noise really loudly.  So I am playing this really loudly right back on purpose:



DEAL WITH IT.

Afterwards I might play the entire Backstreet Boys discography just because I'm in a nasty mood.  I don't care if this is overkill.  "Proportionality" does not apply.  On a related note, Spotify is awesome.

Nerd Analysis: Syria Fallout

Two professors of national security (backgrounds in history and political science) pen this analysis.  Note: they had diametrically opposed ideas about what should be done about Syria, but they agree that the Putin-Obama deal is a wreck: 
For nearly seven decades, American efforts in the Middle East have been based on a bipartisan consensus—one of the few to be found in U.S. foreign policy—aimed at limiting Moscow’s influence in that region. This is a core interest of American foreign policy: it reflects the strategic importance of the region to us and to our allies, as well as the historical reality Russia has continually sought clients there who would oppose both Western interests and ideals. In less than a week, an unguarded utterance by a U.S. Secretary of State has undone those efforts. Not only is Moscow now Washington’s peer in the Middle East, but the United States has effectively outsourced any further management of security problems in the region to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
UPDATE: OK, how about this negative feedback in the New York Times, no less?  Ouchie.  

Tweet of the Week: "Wheel of Fortune" Meets Foreign Policy

ZING!

Public Service Announcement: Shakespeare on PBS Tonight

"The Hollow Crown," the acclaimed BBC production from last summer, is finally hitting American airwaves at PBS.  Here's the official webpage and here's the video:


Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: Da Plane, Da Plane!

Well, I had noted this thing flying around Asia, but now it's in LA.