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.


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


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


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.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

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.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013