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

"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 SkargĂ„rd 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.