Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Fun Video: Halloween 2008 Edition

BOO! Happy Halloween! It's time for costumes, candy, and scary movies!

In keeping with the holiday, I give you two videos for your amusement: the first is an animated parody of the now-classic 1996 horror flick "Scream." Yes, it's "Scream" in cartoon form, done in 30 seconds and acted by rabbits. No, really!

The second video is . . . dedicated to my Evil "Supernatural" Enablers. It's the trailer for the upcoming scary movie "My Bloody Valentine 3D," starring a certain someone whom the Enablers love. (You enable me? I'll enable you right back, sweetie-pies!)

Enjoy the videos, everyone, and Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: the Hello Kitty Music CD

The soundtrack to your worst nightmares.

Just in time for Halloween comes Hello Kitty's first music album. Say hello to the "Hello World" music CD! If you dare, you can actually listen to some of the songs. (Your brain might turn into a cloud of pink cotton candy.) The dreadful CD even has its own horrifying MySpace page. Noooooooooooooo!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Toxic Chinese Eggs Discovered in Hong Kong

Eggs tainted with poisonous melamine have been found in Hong Kong. Origin of the eggs? China, source of the current melamine-tainted milk scandal.

How many times do I have to say it? NEVER EAT ANYTHING FROM CHINA.

Taiwan: Another March Against Ma

Half a million unhappy Taiwanese gathered in Taipei over the weekend in a new protest march against Ma.

The New York Times reports that protesters carried placards reading "Defend Taiwan!" True dat. The story quotes one protester as saying: "The government has not done enough to protect our own interests when opening up to China." Speak on, sweet lips that never told a lie!

You will remember the massive rally back in August.

View from Taiwan has more. Ma, slogging along with a miserable approval rating of 24%, is feeling the heat . . . and, frankly, he should.

Thailand: Trading Rice for Iranian Oil

Behold the latest bizarre combination of food crisis, energy crisis, globalization, and money/credit crisis. The result? We're back to the barter system. Or Thailand is, anyway. It's going to trade its rice for oil from Iran. Yes, really.

(Does this mean I'll face shortages here of my beloved Thai jasmine rice? Nooooooooooooo!)

Monetary Policy as a Cause of Depressions

Surprise! Or not.

Quote of the Day: Taxation and Destruction

Quote of the day: "The power to tax is the power to destroy."

Thomas Sowell has far more to say. My personal opposition to high taxes is on the record.

Geek Fun: Star Trek Origami

Since a dollar bill isn't worth much these days, maybe it's better used not to purchase entertainment but to BE entertainment. Have fun trying to fold some awesome Star Wars and Star Trek origami!

Geek Fun: Sci-Fi-Themed Pumpkins for Halloween

Enjoy these geeky jack-o-lanterns!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nerdworld Soundtrack, Bailout/Financial Apocalypse Edition, Part 16: Tom Waits

It's time for another tune on the Soundtrack of Doom, especially since all this recent political yapping about "redistribution of wealth" has infuriated me. That's a rant for another post, really, but for now I will say this: if you want wealth, get out there and make your own. Get your grasping little socialist paws off mine (what little there is of it, admittedly!).

Today's musical selection: "Little Drop of Poison" by Tom Waits. Lyrics include the glorious lines "Here you lose a little every day . . . They all have ways to make you pay!" Well, isn't THAT the truth?

Previous tracks in my list of Music for Money Madness were:

As always, feel free to suggest even more songs in Comments.

Political Satire or Plain Stupidity?

An article from the Philadelphia Inquirer suggests that white people should not be allowed to vote. Good grief. If you read the piece, you'll see that it's full of nonsense -- and not only about racial politics.

The writer basically accuses the people of the great state of Pennsylvania of being racists. If I were a Pennsylvanian, I think I would be insulted. Golly, I hope this is a satirical joke. But with political discourse being what it is these days, I frankly wouldn't be surprised if it weren't.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Therapy and Geek Fun: Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet + AC/DC = ?

What the two together create is, actually, the most amazing use of a spreadsheet that I've ever seen. An Excel music video! Take a look! Link via Gizmodo, with the actual creator's website here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nerd Fun: Making a Purse Out of Books


This is just as fun as books turned into art objects.

Taiwan: Worrying About the Ability to Hold On

See Dignified Rant's latest thoughts on Taiwanese defenses.

The core issue:
. . . our worry shouldn't be that China can beat us in all-out war, but that China can delay us long enough for China to beat Taiwan. The problem is that getting to Taiwan in time to hold off the Chinese is getting tougher as Chinese strength increase.

Time is key.

Kitchen Notes: Pear Ginger Maple Pie

Is this recipe for pear ginger maple pie terrific or terrible? The name itself makes me think of the now-legendary Flying Shrapnel Death Pie.

I do love pie (in all seriousness), but I would think twice before I attempted that pear ginger maple thingamajig.

Nerd Journal: Typhoid Mary's Got Nothin' On Me

I will have you know, gentle reader: on recent weekends, I have had the great good fortune of being visited by two dear old school friends -- first Foxtrot and now Alessandra d'Ambrosio.

They both heard about my Stupornatural addiction, and I warned them -- fair and square -- that I would inflict some "Supernatural" on them. We've been having lots of fun with the DVD player!

Should you be surprised or not that both these fair ladies have enjoyed "Supernatural" -- or that currently Alessandra and I are having a hilariously good time baking pies (FYI, one pumpkin and one key lime -- no bottled juice, please), eating caramel apples, cooking carnitas, and hanging out while having a "Supernatural" DVD marathon? We're going to finish season 1 in 2 evenings, and we've been having a great time talking about it.

(OK, La Parisienne and Kamikaze Editor: the score is so far 5-0 in favor of Dean being the preferred brother because he's more complex and interesting. Oh, we all like Sam too, but Alessandra stated flat-out that he is the more corruptible of the two and therefore far more dangerous. Hm.)

As for the title of this post? Indeed, Typhoid Mary's got NOTHIN' on me when it comes to infecting others. I'm spreading the "Supernatural" addiction like a cheerfully entertaining plague. FYI, I also inflicted the Ackles "Eye of the Tiger" video on the Cine-Sib, who called me and shouted out, "LOL!"

With friends like me, you don't NEED enemies, sweetie!

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get some pie. I LOVE ME SOME PIE.

Geek Fun: 40 Performances of the "Mario Brothers" Theme Song

This is dedicated to the Cinema-Mad Sibling, who does indeed love his video games. How ofen did we all play "Mario Brothers" when we were little?

Enjoy 40 wildly different performances of the Mario theme music! (I think my favorite is the steel drums, the beatboxing + flute, or the a cappella choir.)

Hilarious! Also a thought: some people have waaaaaaaaaaaay too much free time on their hands!

Quirky Euro Files: The Italian Olive Oil Police

I can't make this stuff up if I tried. Mamma mia!

Burned Out on Real-Life Politics? Try a Fictional President

If you're sick of real-life politicians (and who isn't?), try one of these fictional presidents.

President Morgan Freeman!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

October 25: Saint Crispin's Day

Here's a bit of background history, but this post is really an excuse for me to post one of Shakespeare's most stirring speeches. Go read Henry V! But, if you are in a hurry, I give you the following:

From the 1989 Kenneth Branagh film version of Henry V (notice the very young Christian Bale).

Here is the speech itself in its full verbal glory. Go read it aloud! With feeling!

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Fun Video: Supernaturally Amusing Lip-Sync of the Day

This is for my Evil Enablers, especially La Parisienne and Kamikaze Editor. When we three saw this clip at the end of last night's Stupornatural, we could barely send text-messages -- we were laughing so hard. Now that's entertainment.

Here's the latest example of why we love Stupornatural: it has a sense of humor. This bit wasn't technically part of the episode per se; it was a hilarious bonus at the end. (Dude, who actually knows all the words to "Eye of the Tiger"?? Well, besides Jensen Ackles. What a ham!)

UPDATE: You can see the video clip directly here from the CW website. The YouTube versions keep getting pulled off. CW, though, forces you to see an ad first.

Friday Fun Video: A Brief History of Communication Via Whiteboard

A Brief History of Communication from ljudbilden on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

IMF Finally Figures It Out: Biofuel Policies Increase Food Prices

Hmmm. Who else is NOT surprised that turning food into fuel means higher food prices? Well, DUH! Wake up and smell the coffee, IMF.

Naturally, rising food prices hit the poor of the world the hardest.

I give you a quote from the IMF's recent seminar:

Commitments by members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to reduce carbon emissions through alternative fuels development, while well meaning, have exacerbated the global food crisis and contributed to world-wide water shortages, said Nestle chief executive Peter Brabeck-Letmathe.

The resulting drop in agricultural productivity has led to price increases, he said. "Water scarcity will be the most constraining element," to additional production, he predicted. Replacing fuel with biofuel is "a very, very bad idea."

Replacing even 6 percent of total fuel usage with biofuel would require doubling agricultural production to maintain current output. "Where are you going to get the land and the water for this? This is irresponsible policy," Brabeck-Letmathe said. If the US alone would reverse its policy to replace fuel with biofuels, food prices would stabilize, he stated.

Nerd Journal: TGIT for Stupornatural

I've decided two things this morning:
  1. "TGIF" is now passe. Everybody is happy when Friday finally arrives. I rather like "TGIT" -- Thank God It's Thursday -- because it means Friday is coming. It also means something else: a new episode of "Supernatural"!
  2. The "Supernatural" addiction has become completely ridiculous. Still, being able to turn off my brain and simply enjoy some entertainment is a welcome break from the usual nerd-toil. In fact, I shall call my now habitual Thursday night spate of non-thinking "Stupornatural." For an hour tonight, I shall do nothing more strenuous than text my fellow addicts as we watch. (See if they have any escapism. Get me some escapism! I love me some escapism.)

In the end? Today is Thursday at last, and I can see the end of the week coming! Hooray! Of course, this puts me in mind of a quotable exchange from the show:
Dean: I'm tired. It's like there's a light at the end of the tunnel, you know?
Sam: It's hellfire, Dean.
Dean: Eh, whatever.
My friends and I had always joked that the "light at the end of the tunnel" is really an oncoming train -- usually high-speed. But "hellfire"? So much more appropriate for Nerdworld!

In honor of tonight's playful distraction, and also in tribute to those evil enablers of my vice (you know who you are), I give you this, just emailed to me by the worst enabler of all, the Cine-Sib. I think he watches the show more for Dean Winchester's classic car than the narrative!

"It's the car, right? Chicks dig the car."

Ethanol Boom Goes Bust

From blogfriend Pursuit of Serenity comes this latest news on alternative fuels: the ethanol bubble bursts. *POP!*

Are we all going to figure out -- belatedly -- that the ethanol movement was another ill-conceived fad? Hmmmm.

Weird News of the Day: Thieves Steal Jamaican Beach

No, really! Somebody managed to steal an entire beach -- in the form of 500 truckloads of sand from a resort.

Life's a beach, man.

Nerdworld Soundtrack, Bailout/Financial Apocalypse Edition, Part 15: AC/DC

Last night on the phone, the lovely La Parisienne wanted to know why AC/DC hadn't yet appeared on the apocalypse music list, so I promised her that it would today.

I give you her suggestion: "Hell's Bells" by AC/DC.

Previous tracks in my list of Music for Money Madness were:
As always, feel free to suggest even more songs in Comments.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nerd Fun: An Alumni Fund-Raising Letter Worth Reading

I don't know about you, but I *hate* receiving alumni fund-raising letters from my alma mater.

Still, one school has taken a new and hilarious approach.

Some people are offended. I for one commend the writers. At least they've recognized that the "blah blah blah" is exactly how people interpret the usual edu-pietistic nonsense that fills up a typical fund-raising letter.

Note to my Alma Mater: I am not sending you a single penny -- not now, while I still have school debt from my BA, and -- to be perfectly honest -- not EVER.

Quirky Asia Files: The Japanese Plant That Blogs

No, really! Here's the story of the blogging plant (with video!). The plant's name is -- yes, it has a name! -- Midori-san. I can't make this stuff up if I tried. Here's the actual blog (in Japanese).

Link via Neatorama.

PS: Remember the heroic daikon radish of 2005?

A Harvard Nerd Dreams the Libertarian Dream

A Harvard economics nerd dreams about a fantasy-land where true libertarianism reigns.

Bonus quote:
Reasonable people can debate whether consistent pursuit of libertarian policies would have improved U.S. economic performance over the past two centuries. They cannot claim, however, that recent events demonstrate the failure of libertarian policies, since those policies have not been employed.
Alas, too true!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kitchen Notes: Corn Dogs and the Festival Memory

Hot dogs in apotheosis.

Oh, man! I love corn dogs. I always associate them with fairs, festivals, outdoor holiday celebrations, and good friends. The last time I ate a corn dog was on the Fourth of July when I was at a big festival with a pack of friends (and, of course, Cine-Sib). That day we were busy eating corn dogs, gobbling funnel cakes, drinking lemonade, slurping snow cones, and watching fireworks. Ah, corn dogs! They have the magical power to make even cynical, exhausted nerds feel like kids again.

Corn dogs (or "corny dogs") are really about good memories. Well, OK, good memories and the sheer deliciousness of unhealthy fried food on a stick. What's not to love?

Here's a good corn dog recipe from the aptly named Homesick Texan, who misses the corn dogs from the Texas State Fair.


This post dedicated to Thalia out in the Governator's Cah-lee-for-nee-yah.

Nerd Notes: Is the Bachelor's Degree Overrated?

Is the bachelor's degree overrated and largely useless? A new op-ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education thinks so.

As for me, I got a SPINSTER'S degree, so I should be OK! Ha!

I think I shall now, since I am in a reckless mood, opine that the problem isn't really the bachelor degree itself but some of the nitwits who possess one, some of the nitwits who grant one, and some of the nitwits who push people to pursue one.

Euro Notes: A New French Wine Label

This is hilarious.

Nerd Journal: Homer Simpson Speaks For Me


(Apologies to Edvard Munch.)

Nerd News: Top 5 Law School Ranking Scams (So Far) This Year

BUSTED. More scandal and skulduggery on campus!

You'll remember the recent Baylor bungle.

Nerdworld Soundtrack, Bailout/Financial Apocalypse Edition, Part 14: "Kyrie Eleison"

Today's selection is indeed "Kyrie Eleison."

Now you might be asking yourself: "Does MM mean the liturgy or the Mr. Mister song?" The answer is YES. Choose whichever one you please. Both are equally applicable!

Personally, I'm floundering (now is a very, very bad time of the school term, in addition to everything else that's going on), and I could really use some divine assistance . . . !

Everything seems to be going wrong everywhere. OK, maybe I exaggerate. But lots of things do seem to be going haywire, and I feel besieged.

Previous tracks in my list of Music for Money Madness were:
As always, feel free to suggest even more songs in Comments.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nerdworld Soundtrack: Death, Work, and More Blue Oyster Cult

I'm in a nasty temper, of course. It's Monday morning, and I'm already buried under a mountain of work.

On the iTunes: "Fire of Unknown Origin" by Blue Oyster Cult. In its multilayered musical "narrative" about death sweeping through the hallway and carrying a girl away, it rather appeals to my cynical mood.

Death on campus isn't the Grim Reaper, you know. Death is purely metaphorical and, therefore, even more evil.

I dare say too that the fire has a very known origin indeed. The origin is called "Nerd Lords" and "undergraduates."

I'll return to the Music for Money Madness soon.

Nerd Notes: Every Man a Derrida?

We're all deconstructing ourselves to oblivion. Well, apparently we're more doomed than I had previously thought. Bleagh. Oh, how I hate critical theory. Blurb:
Are the great American habits of directness, foursquare honesty, and a hearty handshake being undermined by fancy-pants French critical theory? You betcha! From the Obama-McCain struggle to find the proper meta-analysis of the word celebrity to the deconstruction of the mainstream media's treatment of John Edwards, from the "framing" and "repackaging" of political constructs to the rise of identity politics for white people, the trend is clear: We are all postmodernists now.

Monday Therapy and Geek Fun: Darth Vader Uses Power Point

Well, you already knew that Power Point was evil, didn't you?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Euro Notes and Schadenfreude Alert: the EU-rocrat, the Chinese Milk, and the Kidney Stone

I can't make this stuff up if I tried. Just go here and read it all.

MM Blog wishes Mr. Mandelson a full and speedy recovery from his kidney ailment, but I can't help saying, well, sir, that's what you get for supporting a rotten Chinese milk industry that has sickened people around the world, including 53,000 children in China alone (and that's just the number that's being reported).

Even if Mandelson's kidney stone had nothing to do with his Chinese milk stunt, you have to admit that the circumstances are too perfectly coincidental not to cause a snicker or two.

Nerd News: Baylor University Busted For SAT Exam Abuse

Scandal and skulduggery on campus? Quelle surprise. Oh, by the way, you can rest assured that Baylor isn't the only campus that engages in dubious behavior. It just happened to get busted.

As for BAYLOR itself? Once a decent school, for the last few years it's been trying to see how quickly it can (a) self-destruct and (b) do so in the biggest public blaze of moral and ethical hypocrisy possible. *snort of derision* How about Baylor as poster child not only for shamefully bad behavior but also for making it into an epic fail too? You are not only evil but incompetent too!

Edu-crats are just as prone to corruption as anybody else in a position of power and influence -- and maybe even more so. I'll leave that accusation hanging -- because those of you who have any experience with this ugly underbelly of Nerdworld don't need any more reminding of how ugly it can be.

Link via gentle reader Noli Me Tangere! with a follow-up here. Schadenfreude alert for some lovely friends of mine as well.

New US "Visa Waiver" Nation List Excludes Taiwan

It's a disappointment.

Taiwan-China: Ma Plays Nicely While Beijing Increases Military Readiness

Here's a dose of reality, people. Ma and his backers in Taipei can be as accommodationist as they want with Beijing. They can be as non-threatening, non-confrontational, and pro-actively conciliatory as they want. None of it is going to change Beijing's ultimate position and conviction about Taiwan.

Want some proof? How about this? Link via Dignified Rant, who has analysis.

Geek News: 2 Chinese Brothers Build Race Car With Junk

This is a bit of neat ingenuity and creativity. What's Mandarin for "MacGyver"?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Global Financial Crisis: Map, Mouse, Monetary Mess, and Moaning

Here is a cool map! Mouse over each country to what it's doing about the current monetary mess while we all moan and wail about the GLOBALCREDITAPOCALYPSEWE'REALLGOINGTODIE!!!!!

PS: Yes, Taiwan is on that map.

Movie Fun: Casting Call For the 2008 Election

If the election were a movie, whom would you cast to play the different people? Here is an amusing look, even if the potshot at McCain is -- in my opinion -- unfair.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Fun Video: Employment Opportunities for Bankers, CEOs, and Financial Analysts

This award-winning short film is worth a few minutes of your time. Here it is via YouTube:

Nerd Notes, Linguistic Edition: the New Use of the Word "Fail"


Apparently this new slang/colloquial usage is so widespread that Slate magazine devotes an entire article to it!

The new "fail" probably has its closest cousin in the term Schadenfreude.

Amusing line from the article: "The highest form of fail—the epic fail—involves not just catastrophic failure but hubris as well." The quasi-serious discussion of an Internet meme, combined with a term from ancient Greek tragedy, is too funny!

Amusing News of the Day: News Analyst Prefers Facebook to Presidential Debates

This is gloriously funny. Look at the photographic evidence of what one CNN analyst was doing instead of analyzing debates. Yes, he's checking Facebook and MLB.

I certainly don't blame the man, though. I really do think that televised debates are about showmanship and media, not actual policy or serious concerns. In the end, they're BORING. You remember that I preferred demon-hunting brothers to the VP debate, of course.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nerdworld Soundtrack, Bailout/Financial Apocalypse Edition, Part 13: Matchbox Twenty

This is an old song, but I still love it. You know, I remember when it was brand-new. I'm a fossil.

Part of the lyrics evoke (for me, anyway) the feelings of the unhappy modern American taxpayer ("I've been cheated . . . I've been wronged"). Another part of the lyrics seems to resonate with the whole idea of nonsensical, money-grubbing, power-grabbing policymakers and their attitude toward that unhappy American taxpayer ("I want to push you around . . . I want to push you down . . . I want to take you for granted . . . I will, I will!")

I give you . . . "Push" by Matchbox Twenty.

Previous tracks in my list of Music for Money Madness were:
As always, feel free to suggest even more songs in Comments.

Financial Crisis Versus Economic Crisis

The choice of words does matter!

Bienvenidos, Amigo: Cuban Soccer Player Defects to US

It's a moving story indeed. Welcome, sir!

Hey, here's a thought. If Cuba's such a great place (as various Hollywood folks keep saying), why would a member of its elite (defector Reinier Alcantara was on the national soccer team), want to abandon it? Hmmm!

Here's a great quote from Mr. Alcantara as he talks of Cuba versus the US:
"There is no future for me in Cuba, no hope. You can dream there, but your dreams can’t come true. It’s a dead end for athletes, and for people of all professions. We hear promises, but they’re never fulfilled. Here, you dream and if you work hard enough, and sacrifice, your dreams can be realized."

Sir, we need more Americans like you who believe in hard work to make something of life. All very best wishes!

Business Interests and Individual Freedoms: A Thought

Take a look at this short and sweet thought:
McCain’s championing of “getting the monied interests out of politics” and Obama’s pledge to eliminate their influence both amount to an attempt to eliminate economic interest groups (and, indeed, interest groups that are in any way allied with economic interests - such as independent free market groups) from politics. But, politics is about interest group influences. If economic interest groups are eliminated, only ideological groups are left - right and left groups driven by cultural, ethnic, environmental or other religious values. Is that world likely to prove more tolerant, more compassionate, more “concerned?”

. . . A world where economic interests are disenfranchised - indeed, even de-legitimized - is a world that will have little regard for economic - and, thus, individual - liberty.

Ideologues have created far more horrors than have even the most rampant of business villains. My understanding is that Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and Mao Tse Tung were not motivated by profit.

Yes. A government big enough and determined enough to have a centrally planned economy is also big and determined enough to want a centrally planned society -- and that means your life gets to be centrally planned by it and not you. Remember the toxic blots on human history known as Stalin, Mao, and their ilk?

*MM hugs her tattered ideals of free markets and limited government.*

Public Service Announcement: Wild Boars Are Immune to Tasers

FYI, in case you ever find yourself in close proximity to both! Don't tase me, bro.

Hey, Ladies! Having Difficulty in Dating? Try an Arranged Marriage. No, Seriously.

Arranged marriages are back in fashion? Has feminism gone full circle? What a world. As for me: NO, THANK YOU.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nerd News, Financial Apocalypse Edition: Oxford's Frozen Assets

England's venerable Oxford University has financial assets now frozen in Iceland's failing banks. The total amount of trapped cash is estimated to be around 30 million pounds (nearly $60 million US).


Financial Fun: Play the "Budget Hero" Game!

Can YOU balance the federal budget? Play this game and see! Be a Budget Hero!

Movie News: Don Cheadle Replaces Terrence Howard for "Iron Man 2"

Howard was very good as Rhodey, but Cheadle might be even better. This is one re-casting that I don't mind! (As long as Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark, all's well with the sequel.) Anyway, I can't wait for "Iron Man 2." Hellooooooooo, War Machine!

Nerd Journal and Movie News: "Twilight" and the Book-Movie Issue: a Rant (sort of)

How many times have you heard this line about books that are turned into movies? "The book was better."

Well, usually the book IS better. Still, I'm willing to declare a pre-emptive victory for one movie over the book that spawned it. The book in question? "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. Oh, sure, I know it's a bestseller and all that, but selling status is no indication of quality!

I read the book because it was popular, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My verdict? It's tripe. (Actually, it's worse than tripe. Actual tripe you can at least turn into delicious peasant dishes like menudo, trippa alla romana, or trippa alla fiorentina. But I digress.)

"Twilight" as a book is horribly, abominably, craptastically written. Some of the words on the page made me laugh out loud. I f I were a writing professor, I would have given this thing a big fat F. I can't believe this thing got past an editor and into a publishing house. Some of the word choices, vocabulary messes, and grammatical flops are unintentionally hilarious! The thing made me laugh because it's the realization of all the jokes my friends and I make about bad novels. Do you know what we literary ladies have often done as a game? We've sat around and tried to think up the most ludicrous words we can that could go into a pulp-y, cheap romance book of abysmal quality. We're talking about words like "smoldering." Then I cracked open "Twilight," and -- I kid you not -- there on the page, in all seriousness, is "smoldering." Does any self-respecting author actually use that word when referring to people?

(I'm starting to think, heck, I can do this! Maybe I'll kiss my self-respect goodbye, choose a pen name, and start cranking out formulaic, silly novels about trite vampire love stories. I'll make my fortune selling mental garbage. I'm at the point in my school term when I'm so deranged with work that I'm thinking, sure, why not? If I can make a darn good living by writing trash and contributing to the rot of society, why not? I'm currently heading into illness, bankruptcy, and exhaustion trying to improve society one class at a time by working hard and honestly, and I'm not making any progress. If anything, I'm getting more frustrated all the time.)

One comment, though: Vampire-human angst-ridden love in a high school? Joss Whedon got there first, and he did it better. Angel could kill that creepy stalker Edward Cullen with a look, and Buffy could kick whiny Bella's butt without even trying -- and all while administering quips and witticisms ranging all over both high and pop culture. "Twilight" is desperately missing a sense of wit and humor, but luckily for the reader, Meyer makes up for it by inserting pages and pages of purple prose and overcooked, ham-fisted descriptions of supposedly tender moments that instead made me want to shriek with laughter.

The worst of these has got to be weirdo vampo-boyfriend Edward and deer-in-the-headlights Bella's cringeworthy, awkward attempt to talk about . . . ah, how shall I say . . . physical intimacy. I actually laughed out loud. And this came after Edward confessed to stalking Bella and hanging around her window at night so he could watch her sleep. Are you kidding me? That's not romantic. That's CREEPY. There's something seriously wrong with Bella if she can zip right from this revelation to thinking out loud about doing the nasty with her undead stalker -- and then freaking asking him about it!

Actual trees died so "Twilight" the printed book could pollute the world? Oh, the humanity! Oh, the tree-nanity! Oh, the INANITY. Warning: "Twilight" is just the first of a whole pack of novels. Kamikaze Editor, in the midst of reading "Midnight Sun," coined her own word to describe all this. What do you call something that is this horrible and therefore this hilarious in its flaws? It's HILARRIBLE.

Anyway, "Twilight" the movie based on the book will hit the hapless cinemas of America in about a month. I have little hope for a great flick, but I will say this: at least the movie will be better than the book, because, frankly, there's no way that it could reek more than the book. The trailers of the movie aren't very exciting, but I'll possibly end up going to see the flick anyway because by November 21 (the release date), I'll be so insane with school that I'll do ANYTHING to escape, even for a couple of hours. I might wait, though, until I'm back home so La Parisienne and I can go to the cinema together and increase our fun when we make wisecracks at the screen. (Besides, "Harry Potter" has been pushed back to July 2009, remember?) Come on, this can't be worse and more degrading than getting myself addicted to "Supernatural," actually empathizing with Dean on occasion, and thinking that Papa John Winchester is kind of cute when he smiles. On that slightly disturbing note, here's the latest trailer (get ready for some truly awful dialogue, folks!):


By the way, you might recognize the actor who plays emo vamptastic creeptacular loverboy Edward Cullen. That's Rob Pattinson, the pretty (too pretty) Brit who was last seen playing the ill-fated Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (the only Potter flick, BTW, that I never bothered to get on DVD -- well, that should tell you something!).

GOD HELP ME, all this "Twilight" stuff makes me feel as though I've been slumming with my brain. I feel DIRTY. I need to go away IMMEDIATELY and dive into something that makes my brain happy, like dive into Shakespeare, Mozart, and (gasp!) actual historical research. With footnotes.

I've been roaming around for a while now, lost in a mental cloud. Perhaps "Twilight" for me is the final, dreadful degradation that will make me snap out of my mind-killing stupor. It might be for me what that Burger King burger was for Robert Downey Jr. Dude, I need an intervention. Good grief.

PS: Not that I need to tell you, really, but the so-called climax of "Twilight" was the biggest cop-out and anticlimax I've read in a loooooong time. The movie version clearly means to show what Meyer never did, so I guess that's one mark in its favor -- such as it is.

Nerd Journal: Microsoft Word Is Not My Friend

I have previously expressed my dissatisfaction, haven't I? Now I've found a handy, humorous visual aid (despite a really bad spelling error):

No wonder I'm behind on all my papers.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nerd Journal: So Much Work I Can't Even Begin -- Plus Motivation!

"Office Space" again proves to be the touchstone for everyday work-life drudgery! As for actual motivation? Hmmmm. Yes, Peter, you do speak for me . . . even if I don't like your sadly obvious comma splice error.

Awesome: The Mouse That Roared

Somehow this amazing story from Taiwan gives me hope to fight on!

Financial Liquidity Crisis Explained in Cartoon Form


Previous cartoons here.

Geek Fun: Ctrl-Alt-Del Computer-Savvy Coffee Cups

Look at these delightfully geeky, playful cups from Taiwan.

MM wants!

RELATED POST: The "Enter" doorbell.

Nerdworld Soundtrack, Bailout/Financial Apocalypse Edition, Part 12: Motley Crue

It's time for another song! How about a little ditty sarcastically dedicated to Henry Paulson?

I give you . . . "Dr. Feelgood" by Motley Crue.

Previous tracks in my list of Music for Money Madness were:
As always, feel free to suggest even more songs in Comments.

Film Culture Commentary: 4-Word Movie Reviews

You can have all sorts of fun with this idea! Critique any film you want, but you can only use 4 words (or less).

Amusing examples: look at these reviews of "Tropic Thunder":
  • "A-mock-calypse Now"
  • "Fool Metal Jacket"
  • "Bungle in the Jungle"
  • "(If) We Were Soldiers"

I still like the haiku movie review, though! My own reviews tend to be less . . . laconic. Compare my "Tropic Thunder" review.

Geek News: Computer Program Maximizes Beauty?

Well, this is an interesting application of mathematical formulae and computer programming!

Nerd Fun: Playing with the Royal Mail

Now this is some nerdy, artistic fun with the mail service! Be sure to look at the photos of the letters.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nerd Journal: My Name is Mad Minerva, and I am a "Supernatural" Addict

As the new school week hits like a hurricane of grief, rage, exhaustion, and eye-bursting work, I find that only a few things can ease the agony. One of those things is hazelnut coffee. Another is having "Supernatural" as background DVD noise while I work on my research papers.

This post is for my loving enablers, La Parisienne, Kamikaze Editor, and -- of course -- the Cinema-Mad Sibling. Look what you've done. LOOK. Look and glory in my ruin.

I am not a fangirl. I am a fan LADY.

Monday Therapy: Movie Mashup as "Toy Story 2" Meets "The Dark Knight"

This is a good bit of humor for a miserable Monday morning! Enjoy! (Via Ed Driscoll.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Best Cartoon Commentaries Yet on Bailout Boondoggle

Kitchen Notes: Pumpkin Spice Candy

Pumpkin candy? Delicious or disgusting? Certainly seasonal, if nothing else. I'll stick with my chocolate, thanks!

Money Madness Made More Miserable by Meddling Morons

Like that alliteration, DID YOU?

Here's the op-ed. Blurbtastic bit here by the author, a Yale professor:

Despite all the hard work and good intentions on the part of our public officials, when economists and historians look back on the current financial crisis they are likely to conclude that government intervention prolonged and deepened it. In particular, officials at the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Treasury Department are to blame for publicly losing confidence in the very economic system they are supposed to protect.

The Fed, the Treasury and the SEC appear to be in a state of panic. A crisis mentality led the custodians of the U.S. capital markets publicly to jettison their lifelong commitments to the capital markets in favor of a series of short-term regulatory quick fixes. Even more troubling, for the past several months the doyens of U.S. fiscal and monetary policy have ignored the most fundamental principle of central banking, which is that the primary responsibility of central bankers is to promote stability and to maintain confidence in the capital markets. Our central bankers appear to have suddenly lost confidence both in their own abilities and in the standard tools of fiscal and monetary policy.

The original Treasury plan -- which called for the transfer of virtually unlimited taxpayer dollars and unlimited spending discretion to Treasury with no judicial or congressional oversight -- sent a very bad signal to the markets. Instead of restoring confidence, this approach to the crisis instilled more fear and panic in the markets.

Well, DUH.

This is not so much about the specific actions taken but the image projected. Bailout-palooza aside, it's the "we're going to die!!!" panicky air of DC that's making confidence evaporate like a snowball in hell.

Oh, and speaking of hell, notice that the opening line of the piece speaks of the government's "good intentions." Surely I don't need to finish the thought.

UPDATE: Here is a related piece from Canada. Headline? "When Panic Strikes Governments."

Depressingly accurate observation: "Yesterday, it looked like the rate of panic in governments exceeded the panic in the markets."

More as the article looks at the monetary madness in the US, UK, and Canada:
Do massive influxes of government cash -- to be borrowed, taxed or inflated out of central banks -- actually improve confidence in a financial system? Or do they foment fear and a greater sense of alarm and instability? Nobody knows the answer, but when governments set about to inflate, spend and tax their way out of what is seen as a crisis, the outcome is even more unpredictably dangerous than the problem being solved.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kitchen Notes: Brazilian Coffee Bean Madness

You know I love coffee. It's the Elixir of Life! If you're curious about how coffee travels from the bush into your cup, you can start with a cool glance at one Brazilian coffee plantation.

(CPD and Noli Me Tangere!, this one's for you.)

Nerd Journal + Friday Fun: A Visitor!

Dear old school friend Foxtrot is coming to visit for the weekend! I'm going to the airport to meet her later tonight. I'M SO EXCITED!!! That's more than enough "Friday Fun"!

I'll probably be offline for most of the weekend as we ladies go have some fun. I'm thinking maybe we'll go do some silly seasonal activities like pick apples or get lost in a corn maze ("maize maze"? amazing maize maze? OK, I'll stop now) . It's autumn here in Yankeeland, and the leaves are changing color. Foxtrot did ask me to make her a pumpkin pie, so that will be a delicious side to the season. I'm going to forget all about Nerdworld for the next 2 days.

Oh, and I told Foxtrot that I was going to try my level best to get her hooked on "Supernatural." (Yes, I am evil. And evil loves company.) Hey, at least I told her so flat out so she can take countermeasures if she wants to!

UPDATE: And yes, she liked those Winchesters!

Nerd Fun: 50 Great Words!

Words can be so much fun. Take a look at 50 interesting oddities.

RELATED POST: Dictionary-mania!

Quote of the Day on Banking Mess: Merrill Lynch + Bank of America + Countrywide Mortgages = ?

Plenty of banks are failing, flailing, and wailing. Here is the most clever comment yet on the seemingly endless parade of failing banks getting eaten up by other banks:
Bear Stearns gone. WaMu too, into the belly of J.P. Morgan. Wachovia into Wells Fargo. Fannie and Freddie are the new U.S. Department of Mortgages and are closing their K
Street offices. Lehman is dust in the wind. AIG in the penalty box. Merrill Lynch is a subsidiary of Bank of America, which barely survived their purchase of Countrywide Mortgages and, the word is, they won't change their name to Lynch America Countrywide. They should.
Kudos to the smart, sassy writer for managing to incorporate so many cultural references into a few short sentences ("Dust in the Wind" especially! I was just listening to that song last night!). Still, Lynch America Countrywide is a superb bit of wit.

Euro Notes: Iceland in Financial Meltdown

(Yes, I used the word "meltdown" on purpose because I'm linguistically evil.)

Seriously, though, the entire country of Iceland is on the verge of bankruptcy. Things are looking dreadful:

REYKJAVIK: People go bankrupt all the time. Companies do, too. But countries?

Iceland was on the verge of doing exactly that on Thursday as the government shut down the stock market and seized control of its last major independent bank. That brought trading in the country's currency to a halt, with foreign banks no longer willing to take Icelandic krona, even at fire-sale rates.

As the meltdown in the Icelandic financial system quickened, with the government seemingly powerless to do anything about it, analysts said there was probably only one realistic option left: for Iceland to be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund.

"Iceland is bankrupt," said Arsaell Valfells, a professor at the University of Iceland. "The Icelandic krona is history. The IMF has to come and rescue us."

Oh, dear. Boom, bust, and now bailing out an entire country?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Kitchen Notes: Cute/Cruel Cannibalistic Costumes for Kids

Like that alliteration, did you? OK, this video is simply sick and wrong. Martha Stewart's turning a nursery into a total freak show! (Humorous or horrifying? Both?)

Nerd Journal + MM in the Kitchen: Nerdette and Penne all'Arrabbiata

I think I've become a rage-oholic. I already knew I was a chocoholic, workaholic, bookaholic, and coffee-oholic, and those were all OK with me, but this rage-oholic thing?

It's kind of . . . worrying, isn't it? Between Nerdworld and the "real world," I am angry all the time now! This can't be a good thing. Everywhere I look, I see more infuriating factors that make me want to scream. What in the hell is going on? (Aside from too much work and not enough time?)

Plus, I hate everything. I think I've said this before. I'm also in no mood to tolerate anybody's garbage. Unfortunately, everybody seems to be flinging out all kinds of garbage nowadays, from undergraduates giving me stupid excuses to Nerd Lords giving me the Evil Eye to politicians (of both parties) acting like feckless clowns. I can't bear people right now. In my misanthropic fury, all I want is to lock myself in my apartment in some peace and quiet. I actually get far more work done when I'm home than when I'm on campus. Plus, I can make coffee whenever I want. And grab a pillow and scream into it whenever I want, as loudly as I want. And listen to really loud, obnoxious music that would make the Opera Diva cringe.

So, I'm taking out my frustrations in the kitchen with an appropriately named recipe. I give you that lovely old Roman recipe, penne all'arrabbiata!

Cool News: Historic 1840s Colt Pistol Sells for $920,000

The Cine-Mad Sibling just emailed me this news link in honor of tonight's new episode of my TV addiction. Really, he's as much an enabler as La Parisienne!

As for the Colt . . .

Political Humor of the Day + Satire Alert: the Piranha Party!

Tired of the entire rotten lot of scoundrels otherwise known as the permanent, ossified, sclerotic political class that's battening on taxpayer dollars and acting like dolts while hiding out for years in their DC fortress?

It's time for a new political party! I give you . . . the Piranha Party!

(By the way, Whittle is referring to this poll.)

Nerdworld Soundtrack, Bailout/Financial Apocalypse Edition, Part 11: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Today's tune for our fiddling while financial Rome burns? (By the way, here's the latest news that might make your skin crawl: the government is set to take an ownership stake in banks. Nationalizing banks?)

This morning's selection for the "Financial Apocalypse Soundtrack" is in honor of the Kamikaze Editor, who suggested this via text message recently. She gets the shout-out today since tonight she and I (along with La Parisienne) will be having our now-usual Thursday night text conversation across America while we're all three watching -- I don't need to tell you, do I? -- that guilty pleasure, "Supernatural."

Fire up your iPods and take a listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival's classic song, "Bad Moon Rising."

If I'm going to die in the GLOBALMONETARYDOOMSDAY!!!!, I might as well do so with some sassy style and humor. Like Petronius. (Unlike the delightfully irrepressible Petronius, I have a much better musical collection to amuse me.)

Previous tracks in my list of Music for Money Madness were:
As always, feel free to suggest even more songs in Comments.

Life Lessons: What Would Katharine Hepburn Do?

Hey, ladies, when in doubt, just think: WWKHD?


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nerdworld Soundtrack, Bailout/Financial Apocalypse Edition, Part 10: Remy Zero

I think the title of today's selection is applicable to so many people in SO MANY WAYS -- economic, academic, social, you name it!

I give you . . . "Save Me" by Remy Zero. (Somebody bail me out. I'm too nerdy to fail!)

Previous tracks in my list of Music for Money Madness were:
As always, feel free to suggest even more songs in Comments.

Nerd Notes: Dictionary-mania and Word Fun

WORDMANIA! Here you go, logophiliacs.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I'm going to rush out and read the entire Oxford English Dictionary.

Political Humor of the Day: Camp McCain's Obama Cufflinks

What does McCain have up his sleeve? Obama cuff links, that's what.

I think this is really amusing. If I had to award the "Sense of Humor" award to one campaign during this election cycle, I'd have to give it to Camp McCain. Its spoof-y potshots at the (you have to admit) occasional excesses of Camp Obama have often been hilarious.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Kitchen Notes: Anthony Bourdain versus Nanny Government

(Coffee Pot Dictator, this one's for you.)

The CPD of Satan Coffee and I share a certain culinary interest: we're fans of Anthony Bourdain. Oh, sure, Bourdain's a foul-mouthed bad boy, but he's always honest and he always says what he thinks and means, so that alone has me delighted with him. MM wants courtesy, but even more, she demands honesty.

Reason has a great archived interview with the refreshingly rowdy chef/adventurer. So take a look, and see what The Bourdain has to say about nanny government when it tries to interfere with food, beginning with attempts to ban foie gras in California.

Quote of the day: "Essentially, we're being infantilized by our government."

Bonus: The Bourdain declares his libertarian sentiments!

Nerd Fun + Satire Alert: William Carlos Williams as Bad Roommate

This post is for La Parisienne, the Kamikaze Editor, and everyone who loves literature (and playing with it).

Remember William Carlos Williams' famous poem "This Is Just To Say"?

Here are some hilarious new versions of that poem if Williams were a deadbeat roommate. I give you one:

This Is Just to Say

I have bounced
the check
that was for
the electric bill

and which
two weeks ago
I said
was covered

Forgive me
my mom didn’t send
that money order
she promised

Kitchen Notes: Lebanon and Israel in Food Fight over Falafel

Well, at least this new Lebanese-Israeli war doesn't involve actual bullets, but it's still acrimonious. Welcome to the Great Falafel War of 2008. The Lebanese seem to want a copyright for falafel, as the Greeks have one for feta cheese.

(Do you like falafel? I do, but it's terribly messy to eat in sandwich form. I always get tahini sauce and shredded lettuce all over me.)

Quirky Euro Files: Vladimir Putin's Judo DVD

OK, this is just GOOFY. While we're talking about this, what is the deal with Mad Vlad constantly throwing his masculinity all over the international media? From the infamous shirtless fishing photo to that odd incident when he shot a tiger (?!) to this latest foray, Putin seems to be overloading on testosterone. What, it wasn't enough to order a smackdown on Georgia but he has to remind us again that he's DA MAN now with a judo DVD? Vlad, I think you're trying too hard. This chick simply isn't impressed.

Nerd News: Berkeley Tree People Accused of Racism

Oh, man! Just when I thought the story couldn't get any better, here comes this latest twist: the chancellor of Berkeley has now accused the tree-protestors of racism.

I'm tired and unhappy this morning, but this latest Schadenfreude-laden news of far left-on-far left warfare has given me a savage, bloodthirsty smile. Nerd Lord playing the race card against Greenies!

I'm sorry, but I am all kinds of GIDDY watching the self-important tree-sitters receive repeated beatdowns from Berkeley as the enviro-fanatics, quite surprised, realize that some people don't think that they are the heroes that they themselves thought they were. High ground not so moral after all, eh?

This story is better than Satan Coffee gingerbread latte on this chilly morning!

Shakespeare, Brutus, and Economics

Tim Blair points out a humorous usage of Shakespeare: "Brutus the Economist."

Apocalypse Analysis: Megan McArdle's "How Did It All Happen?"

Take a look at this primer of the mental causes that enabled a financial Armageddon. Sure, bad mortgages and bad financial practices are a cause of the cascading monetary meltdown, but they were in turn the products of bad, really bad thinking. Miss McArdle calls these mistakes "cognitive errors," though I would argue that it was really the failure and, indeed, absence of any actual higher cognitive functions.

(Meanwhile, this leaves thoughtful, careful, responsible people who didn't commit mass sins of gross financial stupidity . . . where? Well, it sticks us with a $700 billion bill, and that's just for starters. But I digress.)

UPDATE: Two law professors discuss causes also even while they try to debunk three popular (but "deeply flawed," to quote the profs) narratives about the origin of the current mess. They have this opinion about one real cause -- the obsession with home ownership as an end in itself:
The one narrative that strikes me as more plausible than any of these three, but which no one seems willing to raise, is a story about our preoccupation with homeownership in this country, particularly since World War II. The desire to expand homeownership is in many respects a wonderful thing- I certainly have benefitted from it myself- but it also has serious downsides. Homeowners are privileged by comparison with renters, most obviously in the tax deduction for interest. And the efforts to pump up the housing market in recent years, in part by keeping interest rates low and in part by protecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from reform, seem to have spawned much of behavior that is now being criticized. It is hard to imagine a serious conversation about whether our commitment to subsidizing home ownership has gone too far. Everyone from prominent interest groups to ordinary American has a stake in continuing to promote homeownership in every way possible. But the costs of this commitment strike me as the one story that best explains the current crisis.

Euro Notes: In a Financial Crisis, National Interests Trump EU

Charity starts at home. Or, to put it another way: "If your own house is on fire, you should deal with that first even if your neighbor's house is on fire too"?

The re-assertion of national financial interest over EU concerns isn't a surprise to me, though it seems to be a surprise to the Euro-crats and Euro-philes. Via Powerline comes this news link. Blurb on the Germany-versus-EU front:
Germany's Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck made clear his government's opposition to the idea that the euro zone's single largest economy should put up money to prop up institutions outside his country.

He said Monday that he and Chancellor Angela Merkel were considering creating a "shield" that would protect the country's entire financial sector, and that a Europe-wide shield or bailout was out of the question. "The chancellor and I reject a European shield because we as Germans do not want to pay into a big pot where we do not have control and do not know where German money might be used," he said in a separate interview with WDR 2 radio.

Well, that does make sense from a German perspective. Also, the terminology of that last statement ("we do not want to pay into a big pot where we do not have control") is a nearly perfect distillation of why I detest high taxes and goofy Big Government.

Nerd Fun: Build an Upside-Down Bookshelf!

Hilarious. Via OhGizmo!

China Cancels Military Contacts with US as Response to Taiwan Defense Package

This latest bit of Beijing unpleasantness is generally thought to be a response to the $6.5 billion defensive arms package for Taiwan that has finally been given the green light. Beijing's initial response was likewise negative, natch.

Nerd News: Man Reads Entire Oxford English Dictionary

The OED is 22,000 pages long, and one brave soul has now read every single one of those pages.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Australia: Sydney Newspaper Lists 100 Top Books of All Time

I hate to say it, but this list from the Sydney Morning Herald is BS.

OK, mostly BS. But how can anybody rank Stephenie Meyer over Jane Austen, Harper Lee, and the Brontes? PFFFFTTT! La Parisienne and Kamikaze Editor, BACK ME UP!

Now if the list were about books that sold well, maybe. But the list is entitled "top 100 books of all time."

"Iron Man" Throws Some Hot-Rod Red Into Blu-Ray Sales

"Iron Man" rules the Blu-Ray sales records!

I don't have Blu-Ray, but I did get my DVD on the day it was released. Ah, "Iron Man." One of the most fun movie experiences of the summer, it's now my autumn solace amid mounting academic papers, whiny undergraduates, frosty temperatures, and (of course) GLOBALFINANCIALARMAGEDDONWE'REALLGOINGTODIE.

At the rate things are going, "Iron Man" might be the last DVD I'll be able to buy for a while!

Taiwan: Analysis on Defrosted Defense Package

The de facto arms freeze is finally over. Dignified Rant takes a closer, analytical look.

See a related post on China's will versus ability to invade.

Nerdworld Soundtrack, Bailout/Financial Apocalypse Edition, Part 9: Tom Petty

The Dow plummeted 800 points today before clawing its way back up to end the day by "only" being down nearly 400 points. Meanwhile, markets around the world are dropping like stones.

I can't help myself. Here's a new track for the soundtrack: "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (what an appropriate name for the band too).

Oh, by the way, a message for all the people who seem surprised that the $700 billion bailout wasn't a panacea, a silver bullet, or an instant fix. WELL, DUH!

Previous tracks in my list of Music for Money Madness were:
As always, feel free to suggest even more songs in Comments.

Awesome: Tax Revolt in Massachuetts

Who knew? The state might be called "Taxachuetts," but some of its long-suffering citizenry have had enough. There was an anti-state income tax rally at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston this past weekend. An anti-tax protest in Taxachuetts! Is it a sign of the Apocalypse or a sign that people are finally wising up? Both?

Plus reportage from the New York Times too, saying that state and local officials are "scared." I feel like cheering. Ooooo, are the feckless politicians, used to battening on the public teat, scared of angry citizens? That's awesome.

Ohhhhh, I wish I could have been there. Just the thought of a peaceful citizens' rally against high taxes makes my heart go pitter-patter! That's even more awesome.

Still more awesome? The idea that repealing the Taxachuetts state income tax would mean that the average taxpayer there would keep $3600 more of his/her own hard-earned money per year.

Here's the article. Blurb:

More than 250 activists rallied at Faneuil Hall yesterday, hoping to build support for a proposal on the November ballot that would abolish the state income tax.

Supporters of Question 1, which would eliminate the 5.3 percent tax, denounced government spending as wasteful and said the national financial crisis and slumping economy make it increasingly important to ease the burden on taxpayers.

"I'd rather see the people keep their money than sending it to Beacon Hill," said Gerry Cardillo, 62, of Easton. "State spending is out of control."

Kitchen Notes + Quirky Asia Files: Rice Cooker Bread from Japan

Oh, you know that I love my rice cooker. Still, the idea of making bread in it had never occurred to me. Check out this goofy video (by the way, Metrolingua, this one's for you -- it's in Japanese with English subtitles):

Nerdworld Soundtrack, Bailout/Financial Apocalypse Edition, Part 8: Ted Nugent

Yes, the Nuge himself makes an appearance on the list since the title of this one particular song seems all too fitting. Besides, there's nothing wrong with a little obnoxious old-school rock-and-roll on a Monday morning when I'm in a nasty temper (and when pretty little songs by Jewel, Sara Evans, Andrea Bocelli, or Sting just won't do).

I give you plenty of attitude and grinding guitars with . . . "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent.

Previous tracks in my list of Music for Money Madness were:
As always, feel free to suggest even more songs in Comments.

Euro Notes: Hang Onto Your (Monetary) Euro Notes

Euroland is feeling the chill. Bank bailouts are in progress, and now different nations are scrambling to shore up their shaky finances:
Sweden became the latest European country to offer protection for bank deposits, after the German government offered blanket guarantees Sunday to all private savings accounts. Austria and Denmark also did the same.

Britain’s government on Monday scrambled to find ways to help the country’s ailing banking sector and even considered a part-nationalization of the industry. Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling on Monday continued to consult with advisers on ways to stabilize the banking sector, which may include a recapitalization financed by taxpayers, said a person at the Treasury who declined to be identified because the discussions are private.

Stocks fell sharply in London, Paris and Frankfurt on Monday.

New bailouts were arranged late Sunday for two European companies, Hypo Real Estate, a large German mortgage lender, and Fortis, a large banking and insurance company based in Belgium but active across much of the Continent. Under the agreement, BNP Paribas will acquire the Belgium and Luxembourg banking operations of Fortis for about $20 billion.

Well, it looks like another addition to the Financial Apocalypse soundtrack is due.