Saturday, June 29, 2013

Nerd Journal: Social Media Is A Nasty, Hateful Cesspool

Sometimes I'm tempted to pull the plug entirely.  Political discourse is now basically a matter of wrapping oneself in threadbare self-righteousness and viciously demonizing whomever you don't like.  The entire thing's become a mess of wannabe perfect angels and objectified irredeemable devils, with almost zero grasp of the fact that we live in a world of flawed human beings or that reasonable people can disagree for reasons that aren't nefarious.  I'm tired of this never-ending hate-filled BS.

Schadenfreudelicious: Hollywood Braces For Obamacare

*Snortgiggle*

Well, I *Choose* To Ignore This Idiocy

This would be laughable if it weren't offered up in all seriousness.  (Via the always-interesting Maggie's Farm.)

"All Your Data Is Belong To Us"

I link to this Foreign Policy article on the NSA because the image is too pointedly amusing not to share.

The Tour de France Begins!

One of our favorite sporting events finally begins!  There's nothing quite like watching the peloton fly through the gorgeous fields and mountains of France.  Doping scandals have been awful for every fan's morale, but I can't help it - I've got to watch the race.  There's something epic about this thing. Even better: it's the 100th edition of the Tour.

Oh, and someone to watch: Yukiya Arashiro of Japan is on Team Eurocar.  Back in 2009, I'd noted that he and Fumiyuki Beppu were the first Japanese participants to finish the race.  This is Arashiro's fourth Tour.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Latest NHS Skulduggery

True story: I was just chatting with a British friend of mine who was extolling the NHS and telling me "Don't believe the crap in the American media" about its various failings.  Almost instantly afterwards when I got home, I saw this horrible news item about a cover-up of babies' deaths at a Cumbria hospital ... and the story was not in the US news.  Nope, this is in the BBC, which also ran this editorial beginning:
In an interview on BBC radio, Care Quality Commission chairman David Prior described the allegation that his organisation covered up failings as "shocking". 
But perhaps the truly most shocking element of all this is that we are not really that surprised. 
The findings laid bare by consultants Grant Thornton on Wednesday confirms something that is becoming clearer and clearer as the months go by: that in the early part of the 21st century a rotten culture developed in the NHS in England that put self-interest ahead of patients. 
In short, the NHS stopped caring.
So, yeah. I don't need to "believe the crap in the American media" about the grotesqueries of the NHS and government-run health care.  The British media will do it just fine.  Meanwhile, 30 aggrieved families are taking legal action over infant and maternal deaths and injuries at that house of horrors hospital where the deaths and injuries went, as the news report, says, "unnoticed."  How damning.

Friday Fun Video: "Mirage"

Get an eyeful of this student film!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Movie Review: "Man of Steel"


Superman Returns.

The somewhat improbable teamwork of Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, and David Goyer has produced one of the summer's most anticipated movies, and while Man of Steel has some problems that prevent it from achieving full greatness, it's still a watchably good film that both cleanses the world of Bryan Singer's 2006 disaster with Brandon Routh and hints at impressive future potential.  Think of this movie as Batman Begins for Superman.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Steyn on Politically Correct Big Brother

"The bozo leviathan sees everything ... and nothing." *Sigh.*   It also doesn't help that all this takes place in the middle of Scandal-a-palooza's apparently endless shenanigans.

Cheerios and Interracial Families

I totally didn't understand the controversy.  It's an adorable ad.  The family in it had a black dad and a white mom.  SO WHAT?  But apparently some jerks got their undies in a bunch about it online.  So here's the backlash to the backlash: the reminder that hey, interracial families exist.  Thank you: this has been your public service announcement.  In fact, a whole bunch of my friends have married someone of another race and are raising gorgeous interracial families.  Love should be color-blind.  Shall we also bring up the related topic of interracial adoptions?  Don't be a hater, man.

MM in the Kitchen: Cinnamon Breakfast Puffs

Breakfast!  Make a big pot of coffee too.

"Too Little Too Late. Or, Worse, Too Much Too Late": Thoughts on Syria

The writer then says, with quintessential British understatement, that Obama's foreign policy (such as it is) is "unhelpful."  Turns out that being reactive and incoherent is generally bad.  Gee, y'think? 

Quote of the Day: Government PR

Here's a thought: 
It is a great irony, and history will marvel at it, that the president most committed to expanding the centrality, power, prerogatives and controls of the federal government is also the president who, through lack of care, arrogance, and an absence of any sense of prudential political boundaries, has done the most in our time to damage trust in government.
Well, it's definitely change.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Quote of the Day: Obama on Syria

A thought:
Personally, I've stopped trying to figure Obama out. The man has done the opposite of what he's said too many times to treat his own words as a reliable predictor of what he really believes. (Who knew "change" described his future positions?) But whether he is deliberately trying to escalate U.S. involvement, as Sullivan seems to think, or just prolonging the slaughter in Syria, as Drezner believes, his actions will be just the latest disappointment to the anti-war liberals who helped elect him. They'll also be another example of a president making a decision that would be better debated and voted on by Congress. 

Government Literary Stimulus!

Read up, bookworms!  

Here's an accompanying bon mot: "It should be a point of consensus that any chief executive that sends the public flocking into the loving arms of Orwell and Rand is probably not doing the job correctly." Heh.

Friday Fun Video: The NSA Slow Jam

Remy over at Reason.tv has long been in the habit of making hilarious musical political commentary (remember this and this?), and he just can't resist singing this slow jam:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Thought on the Turkish Protests


"The Daily Show" Vs. the NSA

Jon Stewart is away, so John Oliver is sitting in, and he's just as pointedly humorous.  His last sentence is a zinger, all right:

Movie Trailer: "The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug"

Society for the Prevention of Shopping to Boyfriends/Husbands

Come on, ladies, let's not do this to the guys.  Let them go.  Everyone's got cellphones.  Just call them when you're done.  (I still love this idea by IKEA in Australia.)  Oh, and kudos to the shops that offer lots of comfy chairs for the guys.  Throw in a TV or two, and that will be a vast improvement.  Poor fellows!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Quote of the Day: Jay Leno on the NSA

Sometimes it takes a comedian to make a point:
I mean, what’s going on? The White House has looked into our phone records, checking our computers, monitoring our e-mails. When did the government suddenly become our psycho ex-girlfriend?

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Dance Dance Revolution

In Turkey.

Taiwanese News Animators Vs. NSA Snooping

Circa 1901: Photos of a Vanished World

Once upon a time in Beijing.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Margarine

Here is a fascinating bit of Canadian history.  (Real butter's still better for you, though!)

Under the Sea: Gorgeous Photo Contest Winners

Just look at the world around you right here on the ocean floor!

Greening the Deserts with Carbon Dioxide

Well, whaddyaknow?  Look at this from the American Geophysical Union:
Scientists have long suspected that a flourishing of green foliage around the globe, observed since the early 1980s in satellite data, springs at least in part from the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. Now, a study of arid regions around the globe finds that a carbon dioxide “fertilization effect” has, indeed, caused a gradual greening from 1982 to 2010.
I now expect professionally apocalyptic eco-zealots to complain that greening the desert will lead to the extinction of the sand worms or something.  The Spice global warming gravy train must flow!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Friday Fun Video: A Master Class in the Art of the Videobomb

Kudos to the playful members of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats baseball team:

Quote of the Day: On the NSA Snooping Scandal

Indeed:
President Obama is now caught in a trap of his own making. By downplaying the threat and trying to create an atmosphere of peace and normality in the country, he has delegitimated the measures he believes that our safety requires. Having tried and failed to keep these secrets dark and hidden, he must now try to explain what many Americans will find inexplicable. If the terrorists are really on the run, and we can finally go back to a 9/10 state of mind, why are you assembling and wielding the most powerful and intrusive systems of surveillance ever conceived?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Dystopian Literature or Current Events?

Buzzfeed - yes, Buzzfeed, home of cute baby animals and celebrity gossip - wants to know if you can tell the difference between Orwell and Obama.

LOL: Jake Tapper Plays Cupid for Putin

Awww, apparently Putin and his wife are splitting up.  Jake Tapper of CNN has a bit of fun with this on Twitter by soliciting suggestions for a #PutinSinglesAd.  I think my favorite is:

Between Takes

I don't know about you, but I could use a laugh.  Take a look at some cute moviemaking antics.

Fill In That Scandal-a-Palooza Wildcard Bracket, People

This scandal bracket was supposed to be a wry joke.  Well, nobody's laughing now as we know that we can definitely fill in that last wild card bracket with the news about the NSA and Verizon.  

People are furious, and they should be.  Don't give us that stupid argument that if we've done nothing wrong, then we've nothing to fear from government agencies snooping around.  Secret blanket surveillance is not OK.  This isn't even targeted.  This isn't about people suspected of wrongdoing.  The NSA's just indiscriminately scooping up everything on everybody.  Anyway, see this and this, which pithily snarks, "from the Verizon: home-to-nearly-100-million-terrorism-suspects! dept."

Oh, by the way, am I the only one starting to get a case of "scandal fatigue"?  Another day, another mess in the news ... Hey, government overreach?  Must be Thursday.

Also, Rand Paul.

UPDATE: But wait, there's more!

Quote of the Day: Remembering D-Day

Ace of Spades:
You know what I did this morning? Maybe it would be better if I told you what I didn't do this morning. 
I didn't have to spend over 12 hours on a transport ship in choppy water, then clamber down a cargo net into a plywood landing craft, all while carrying up to 100 pounds of gear on my back. Then, I didn't ride through the rough surf in that little plywood target, only to have the steel ramp (the only part of the little plywood boat that was even remotely bullet-resistant) flop down and drop me into the cold ocean water in front of a beach filled with steel obstacles, mines, flying bullets & exploding artillery rounds. 
I didn't fly over enemy occupied territory at 1000 feet in a C47 cargo plane and then jump out of the plane into the teeth of enemy anti-aircraft fire. I didn't have to worry about my bright white silk parachute making me a good target for troops on the ground who wanted to use me for target practice, and after I landed, I didn't have to worry about engaging a vastly superior force with only the gear I carried with me (providing that said gear wasn't ripped off by the turbulence I encountered exiting the plane) with whoever I could gather together from the other troops dropped behind enemy lines the same as I was. 
... You know what? Now that I've told you what I DIDN'T do this morning, what I actually DID seems pretty freakin' trivial. Veterans of the Normandy landing are becoming scarce now that we're sixty-five years down the road from that horrible day, but if you know one of them, make sure to thank them on this day.
RELATED: The bagpiper of D-Day.

A Cartoonist Vs. the AP and James Rosen Scandal

Indeed.  Click to enlarge for more detail.


All the President's Men

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

James Lileks Reviews "Star Trek Into Darkness"

Thereby rendering any attempt on my part to review it totally superfluous.  Read on!

Iran: Fresh Protests

What's this?  I've been so busy watching Turkey that I missed this from the BBC: "Iran dissident's funeral turns into anti-government protest."  More here and here.  Nobody's forgotten the 2009 protests either.

"The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Enemy"

Michael Totten on Syria.

Fishing for Compliments: Gyotaku

So are you trying to tell me that an entire art form arose from guys' desire to document and brag about the fish they caught? LOVE THAT!

Couch Potato Chronicles: 101 Excellently Written TV Shows

The Writers Guild of America East has compiled a list of shows that it considers the best written in American TV history.  This is debate fodder for sure.  Besides, some shows that are critically acclaimed are rubbish (to me, anyway).  Argue away!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Another Year, Another Tiananmen Censorship Drive

But we do not forget.

DNA, the Fourth Amendment, and the Supreme Court Ruling

"Horrifying," opines Techdirt.  Certainly unsettling, wouldn't you say?  Don't miss Scalia's dissenting opinion.

Quote of the Day: An Old Marine On Naval Priorities

A member of the U.S. Naval Academy's Class of 1958 has some unvarnished (read: "politically incorrect but refreshingly honest") thoughts about the present state of things.  Here's a piece of his letter to the current academy superintendent:
"The cult of diversity has undermined the proper focus on mission accomplishment. Most of us who have actually fought 'in the trenches' in wartime don’t really care what race, creed or color our comrades-in-arms are. When we call for support in a 'danger close' situation we simply want the best qualified decision-makers in place to be dropping the bombs, firing the missiles or lobbing artillery our way. I don’t see how relaxed admissions and retention standards for minorities (or anyone else) at the premier officer training university in the country does anything to foster confidence that we will have that first team in place when faced with life and death situations. 
... The naval service is not about looking sharp, shuffling papers or making people feel good. It is primarily about accomplishing the mission and winning wars. If we don’t get our national priorities straight and our military doesn’t get re-focused, our armed forces may score high in political correctness, but will continue to get their butts kicked in far off places."
Of course, the hateful response to this from the usual circles will be boringly predictable.

"Erdoğan Over the Edge"

Claire Berlinski is an American journalist living in Istanbul.  Do take a look at her account of the current tumult in Turkey.  A blurb:
"But in truth, these protests weren’t about the park or even about the shopping malls. They were about a people exhausted by Istanbul’s uncontrolled growth; by its relentless traffic; by the incessant noise (especially that of construction); by massive immigration from the countryside; by predatory construction companies—widely and for good reason believed to be in bed with the government—which have, over the past decade, destroyed a great deal of the city’s loveliness and cultural heritage. But most of all, they are about a nation’s fury with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s growing authoritarianism, symbolized by Istanbul’s omnipresent police ... "