Tuesday, April 27, 2010

HopeChange Chronicles: Identity Politics for the November Ballox Box

Aaaaaand in the era of HopeChange and post-racial social harmony in the Age of Obamessiah, the man himself is apparently playing the race card for the 2010 elections -- since the Dems are facing plummeting popularity.

And Asians don't matter, apparently. I hate identity politics, but at the same time, I'm annoyed that Asians always vanish. You would think the only races in the entire country were white, black, and brown, and that's it. (Then again, given the way that Asians usually don't fit the narrative about minorities, we basically don't count as minorities -- need I bring up the lawsuits and ugliness in California education? Pffft.) If you want to talk about race, you should talk about ALL races. Or is that too complex and nuanced for your pat little prepackaged narrative?

You want to play cynical, reductive, divisive identity politics during interviews and do the demographic dance on the campaign trail? This independent, libertarian-minded, center-right, freedom-loving young Asian American woman refuses to participate. She's got real work to do. Go ahead. Call me a race/gender traitor. I dare you. I don't care.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Great Moments in Higher Education: Majoring in Magic

Meet a college Instudent whose major is magic.

(Or perhaps I should say, "ILLUSION, Michael.")

Quote of the Day: What the "South Park" Controversy Tells Us

Need a recap? Now on to the quote of the day as we consider Comedy Central's spinelessness and craven self-censorship in the face of threatened violence:
This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.
The whole op-ed is worth a look.

Nerd News: "Tenure" the Movie Now on DVD!

Back in March of 2008, I blogged about a comedy movie project with a plot about academic tenure.

The movie is now out on DVD! Christian Toto reviewed it favorably, and the movie's official website is here.

I give you the trailer:

Oh my goodness. I watched it and laughed -- because it hits a little too close to home! Tenure is a nasty business!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Awesome Geek News: Spectacular Solar Photography

Absolutely amazing stuff from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Here's all you need to know:
"SDO is working beautifully," reports project scientist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "This is even better than we could have dreamed."
Want proof? Go feast your eyes on this and gain a new awe and respect for the sheer raw (and beautiful) might of the sun. I give you just one image below. Nerdgasm.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The "South Park" Controversy: Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and Free Speech -- plus Jon Stewart Shines

If you are unfamiliar with the current "South Park" controversy, here is a summary. Read this too. And this. In short, Matt and Trey took potshots at Muhammad, and a New York City-based Muslim group calling itself "Revolution Muslim" warned/threatened violence.

We've talked about speech freedom and the freedom to offend before, so I won't rehash it here. But what you must see is this commentary from Jon Stewart. Watch the whole thing. Near the end, he makes the excellent point about not conflating actual terrorists with decent people with whom one disagrees. He doesn't like Fox News, he says, but they are not the enemy. Quote of the week: "Revolution Muslim, your type of hatred and intolerance -- THAT's the enemy."

Bravo! *MM throws roses and kisses.* Bravissimo indeed!

Note too Jon's lightly humorous but clearly substantive acknowledgment of how other targets of his satire, from Jews to Buddhists to Christians, have never responded with violence.

Caveat: Jon's final response to the haters of Revolution Muslim (and everyone like them) is definitely rated R for language. But really, I'm hard pressed to find a more fitting riposte since obviously attempting to reason with such maniacs is useless.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
South Park Death Threats
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Nerd News: How Not to Run a "Model School"

Education blogger Joanne Jacobs looks at how Stanford education professors fell flat in their ambitious project to create a model school.

Blurb here (my emphasis):
It sounded like a great idea: Stanford education professors would create a model school to show how to educate low-income Hispanic and black students.

Or, as it’s turned out, how not to.

In March, Stanford New Schools (aka East Palo Alto Academy) — a charter high school started in 2001 and elementary grades added in 2006 – made California’s list of schools in the lowest-achieving five percent in the state.

This month, the Ravenswood school board denied a new five-year charter. The elementary school — now with K-4 and eighth grade — will close in June. Another year or two wouldn’t be enough to improve poor student performance and weak behavior management, Superintendent Maria De La Vega told the board.

The high school will get two years to find a new sponsor: the local high school district has said “no,” but there are other options.

How did it happen? Stanford New Schools, run by the university’s school of education, seems to stress social and emotional support over academics.

Oh, and the quote of the day comes from a related post:
This appears to be your classic “happy school,” a phrase coined by Howard Fuller to describe the most dangerous type of school – not the handful of violent, gang-infested high schools, but rather the elementary schools that are safe and appear ok: the students are happy, the parents are happy, the teachers are happy, the principal is happy… There’s only one problem: THE KIDS CAN’T READ!!!
Pretty much, yeah.

Steyn on Nukes: "Nonproliferation? How Quaint!"

I missed this when it was first published, but it's too good not to share.

Ninme has the best blog title on the topic: "Don't bring a nuke to a machete fight."

Iceland or Mordor?

Take your best guess!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Fun + Satire Alert: Offsetting Carbon Offsets

In the aftermath of another eco-pietastic Earth Day, this bit of amusement from Jim Treacher is hilarious (via awesome Aussie Tim Blair).

In short:

For years, you’ve watched helplessly as your neighbors try to erase their eco-sins with something called “carbon offsets” – the modern-day indulgences that rich liberals buy to make themselves feel better about taking NetJets to Sundance every January, or living in an 11,000-square-foot house with nine bathrooms. They may be burning more fossil fuels in a year than Malawi, but by purchasing a certificate that says someone planted ferns on their behalf in the Amazon Basin, these confirmed despoilers of the environment can claim to be “carbon-neutral.” And they do claim it, self-righteously and at every opportunity. It’s infuriating, yet there’s nothing you can do about it.

Until now.
Check out this infographic for the Carbon Offset-Offset Program:


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Geek Fun: Nathan Fillion, Hilarious Lightsaber-Wielding Doofus

I am totally in love. Well, I was already ("I love my captain!"), but I am even more starry-eyed after this. A girl loves a guy who can make her laugh!

Nerd News: Denying Shakespeare ... and Defending Him

Read this.

Nerd Journal: Twice in Two Weeks, "Glee" Delivers a Sucker Punch

Really, "Glee"? REALLY? Last week it was a gratuitous and unfunny swipe at Sarah Palin. This time it was a slap at Ann Coulter not 10 minutes into the new episode.

I'll probably wait in vain for the show to take a stupid potshot at some well-known left-leaning woman. But it did take shots at Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan -- though that's like shooting fish in a barrel -- and then putting Coulter in their company.

I'm not a huge Ann Coulter fan (she's obnoxious in her role as provocateur), but I sat on my couch and rolled my eyes at the sucker punch.

Come on, "Glee." I watch you because you're fun and bubbly, but these unnecessary barbs burst the bubble of an hour of lovely TV.

Also: I'm simply not impressed by the idea of Madonna being some kind of role model. Or by the idea that the overt and ever-more flamboyant public sexualization of girls and women is the most obvious way for them to gain social "power." I thought that for all these eons, women were oppressed by being treated as OBJECTS. So now if they present themselves of their own accord as purely sexual objects, that's OK? What the ... ?

UPDATE: Aaaaaaaaand 40 minutes into it, everybody's singing "Like A Virgin" and jumping into the sack. I had called it earlier today to La Parisienne. Ugh. OK, let me get this straight. A show that last season featured the trials and tribulations and troubles of a pregnant teenage girl now has two sets of putative high schoolers rushing to do exactly the same thing that had so clearly resulted in misery before for one of their fellow singers. Really smart, people. Blah. The fact that nothing actually HAPPENED isn't the point as much as the showcasing of the idea as a goal.

For the record, I *hate* "Like A Virgin." But not quite as much as I hate "Imagine." There's almost no song I hate as much as that.

UPDATE: I kinda hate that Jesse character too, but I guess I'm just a big hater all the way around tonight!

Quote of the Day: Chinese Dissident Peng Ming on Communist Loyalty

This is only one interesting bit out of a piece worth reading:
“Now, no Communist official is loyal to or will sacrifice for the party,” said democracy activist Peng Ming, just after he was released by the regime. “When I was in jail, the prison warden and guards were very respectful to me. Even when I criticized them, they would not criticize me back. Why? They said, ‘This regime will not last long. Who knows you won’t be our next leader? If we mistreat you now, you will come after us when you come to power.’”

Awesome Photography: Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull Volcanic Eruption

Here is just one example of the photographic awesomeness on Orvaratli's Flickr photostream! (Via David Thompson.)

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To know that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

~Robert Frost

Quirky Euro Files: EU Official Says Vacations Are a Human Right

As I've said before, pretty soon the only thing that won't be a human right is individual liberty.

Anyway, if going on holiday really is a human right, then I WANT MY BIG FAT TAXPAYER-SUBSIDIZED VACATION.


The European Union has declared travelling a human right, and is launching a scheme to subsidize vacations with taxpayers' dollars for those too poor to afford their own trips.

Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, proposed a strategy that could cost European taxpayers hundreds of millions of euros a year, The Times of London reports.

"Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life," Mr. Tajani told a group of ministers at The European Tourism Stakeholders Conference in Madrid on April 15 . . .

The plan -- just who gets to enjoy the travel package has yet to be determined -- would see taxpayers footing some of the vacation bill for seniors, youths between the ages of 18 and 25, disabled people, and families facing "difficult social, financial or personal" circumstances.
UNREAL. It's all so silly that I can't help posting this image for the 2004 flick:

The HopeChange Chronicles: Golf 1, Poland 0


Kitchen Notes: Customized Ramen

OK, this is hilarious. Then again, plenty of college students would starve if not for ramen!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Congress and James Madison's "Overbearing Majority"

Take a look at this. All too true in all too many aspects?

Here is a bit of Madison's Federalist Papers No. 10,
[M]easures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority … By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community ...
How prescient and incisive was that observation? How accurate in describing the Pelosicrats' approach to the health care "reform" bill?

Friday Fun Video: A Dancing Cockatoo

Bust a move.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

MM in the Kitchen: Tea-Poached Salmon

Because you can never have too many yummy, easy salmon recipes.

Movie Madness: Joss Whedon and Superhero Flicks


Movie Madness: 10 Best Celebrity Cameos

What fun!

Considering the VAT

Read this before you actually think a VAT is such a great idea.

Tax Day Quote-Mania, Because Every Joke Is a Tiny Revolution

It's Tax Day, and I was trying to pick a good quotation to share. I'm having trouble, since there are so many great possibilities. So I'll just give you some of my favorite bon mots and witticisms about taxes!
"The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least amount of hissing."
~Jean-Baptiste Colbert

"Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery."
~Calvin Coolidge

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."
~Albert Einstein

"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him."
~Robert L. Heinlein

"Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages."
~H.L. Mencken

"The taxpayer: that's someone who works for the federal government, but doesn't have to take a civil service examination."
~Ronald Reagan

"The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."
~ Will Rogers
(though I might quip that very possibly death has gotten worse with ObamaCare!)

"The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin."
~Mark Twain

"Rich bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others."
~Oscar Wilde
Feel free to share your favorite tax-erriffic quotations in comments, fellow taxpayers!

UPDATE: More anti-tax quotations!

The Real Reason to Get an iPad

Well, That's Just Great.


RELATED POST: the cost of health care reform.

Tax Day 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quote of the Day: the Price Tag of Health Care Reform


The health overhaul plan just enacted represents the largest tax hike in U.S. history - $569 billion over 10 years through a dizzying array of taxes and fees that promise to frustrate taxpayers at every turn. ObamaCare will make every day feel like April 15th.

Read the whole thing. As had often been said, if you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it's "free."

See this related item too.

He's Just Not That Into You

One media worm turns?

Tax Humor: A Tax Form You Can Use

This is pretty darn hilarious.

My favorite bit: "Please do not use staples when attaching firstborn."

Quirky Asia Files: Student-Made Wok Robot Cooks 600 Dishes


Nerd News: Great Teachers Vs. Ed School Grads

Well, I already knew this, intuitively, and so do many great teachers whom I know. And if I do say myself, we're all pretty darn awesome in the classroom. Read this study from North Carolina.

Ed schools have become the private playground of social engineering edu-crats who will make dunces of us all if they can.

Full disclosure: I took 1 education course in my undergrad career. Actually, less than 1. I was in the class for about 2 weeks before I decided it was a total waste of my time and dropped it like a hot potato. I took another class in my major instead -- you know, the actual subject matter that I would need to ... um ... TEACH.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nerd Journal: Triumphantly Returning "Glee" Rocks ... And One Discordant Note

I've been looking forward to the return of "Glee," and tonight's show was so much fun!

But even in the middle of all the fun and music (AC/DC!) , something happened that happens a lot in entertainment, but I still find it annoying. It bursts the bubble. Randomly, in the middle of the scene, the script writers took a gratuitous potshot at Sarah Palin and basically called her stupid. *Sigh.*

I love movies and TV and pop culture and entertainment and all that. But I am really getting tired of seeing them be a stage for unnecessary cheap shots. Everyone knows that the entertainment industry is famously hostile to conservatives and Republicans, but really? Can't they stop their personal political snarkiness and soapboxing for an hour? Don't they realize (or care) that gratuitously belittling conservatives/Republicans in the viewing audience isn't nice? Half the country is center-right.

Oh, well. "Glee" is back. Bring on the music! And isn't Finn (played by Canadian actor Cory Monteith) simply adorable in an apple-pie sort of way? Seriously, look at those DIMPLES! SQUEEEEEE!

Music hath charms ...

UPDATE: Is there an echo in the room? I just said that. At least I'm not the only one who's annoyed.

Awesome Geek Fun: Math + Michael Jordan

Now check out how calculus and derivatives help explain the amazing hang time of His Airness, the mighty Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players ever.

And calculus ... I did love calculus when I was in school! It is strangely beautiful.

Using Vintage History Books to Teach History Today

Imagine that! Retro chic hits the classroom!

Fugly or Fabulous? Zippy Sandals


What do you think? On sale at Payless for $25! The zipper detail really caught my eye, but now I'm wondering: is it fugly or fabulous?

It's nearly sandal weather (finally!), and I'm starting to feel the itch to hunt for some shoes. Beautiful, beautiful shoes.

Tax-Loving Idiot Provokes MM's 2010 Tax Rant

Ugh. Look, there is a point to some taxes (I will happily pay to maintain our kick-butt military and maintain interstate highways, for instance), but any tax-loving idiot who writes words like "Charity yielded to justice" (I am not making this up!) in a sappy love letter to higher taxation deserves my contempt.

Oh, yeah, I know, I know, it's yet another one of those "taxes are patriotic, so shut up and give us all your money, you selfish slimeball" sorts of editorials. But what does that even mean, that "taxes are patriotic"? Government spending is now huge, wasteful, and largely stupid. How patriotic is it to subsidize some special-interest cause or asinine earmark that I don't support? A citizen's objection to governmental spending follies is patriotic too - except now, when if you disagree, you're automatically a raaaaaaaaaaacist or whatever?

In recent days, I've heard not one but two other nerds make the most extraordinary utterances about taxation. One complained that his home state had no income tax. Another said he would happily pay more taxes because he could afford them. To both I say, if you're so hot to pay taxes, how about paying MINE? I flatly told the second one that he might feel differently if he had a family and kids to support.

As for the matter about ever-more taxes, overweening government, and the incessant demands that I further impoverish myself in the name of whatever cause the utopians feel like pursuing as a means to grab power, all I'm going to do is quote Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural address:
Still one thing more, fellow-citizens -- a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

The advocates of social engineering are constantly banging on and on about the needs of this group or that group or the the "community" or whatever super-sounding term you like -- but always is the individual seen as the obstacle. It's basically why high-minded utopian efforts always end in disaster, because inevitably some individuals will not want to participate, but the utopian project prioritizes the collective, so the individuals get steamrollered.

And in these current days of increasing tax serfdom, what are we to say?

And for the record, YES, I am a selfish money-grubbing kulak who wants to keep as many of her pennies as she possibly can. I might be persuaded to engage in private charity for good causes, but I will forever refuse the idea that government -- any government -- knows better what to do with my money with regard to my own self.

Besides, a girl's got to think of her future. There's nobody who's going to do it for me, and I think, deep down, I wouldn't want that. We all have to think about our own futures. It's bloody terrifying, but what's even more terrifying is not doing everything -- everything -- in your power to ensure as much of your own financial future as you can in whatever circumstances you have. (Remember this?) The trouble is that with ever more taxes (not to mention ludicrous government policy ideas that will raise prices all over, be it the cap-and-trade energy tax or the utterly hellish VAT idea), it's going to get harder and harder to squirrel away pennies for a rainy day.

BTW, I just did my taxes. For the record, I don't feel patriotic. I feel ANNOYED.

I also refer you to my 2009 tax rant, in which I called taxation "government-endorsed financial vampirism." Not bad wordsmithin', if I do say so myself!

My 2008 tax rant is here, complete with a song.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Poland, Russia, and the Curse of Katyn

The always-excellent Arthur Chrenkoff has a few thoughts.

Help Me, Obi-Wan Inflation -- You're My Only Hope


Geek Fun: Kaprekar's Constant

Try this! No, really! It's mathemagical fun.

Since I'm doing my taxes right now, I have math on the brain (and rage in my heart, but that's not much Geek Fun).

Obama and Pre-College Educational Policy


You already know what I'm going to say. Lucky for me, someone else has already done a write-up so I don't have to. The needless and politically motivated killing of the DC voucher program is UNFORGIVABLE.

You will recall the takeover of college loans.

Nearly Half of US Households Pay No Federal Income Tax

Read this. And this. Wealth redistribution, anyone? UGH.

April 9 is Tax Freedom Day, so read up on it at Tax Prof Blog. Hm, I need to do my taxes this weekend. I shall be in a nasty temper!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nerd Journal: Basketball Withdrawal

March Madness is over, and I don't know what to do with myself. No more college basketball until next season???!!

Here is a charming video done by some basketball fanatics from San Francisco.

Bonus: The video uses Luther Vandross's version of "One Shining Moment." Jennifer Hudson's version for the 2010 tournament was OK, but Vandross is so much more awesome.

Double Bonus: the video features some Asian hoops fans, both male and female. I'll leave it to you to imagine the Cinema-Mad Sibling and your humble hostess out there on the court. We've no real athletic ability at all, but we do love us some basketball! Thank goodness you don't have to be able to play in order to be a screaming fan!

Pop Culture Commentary: JJ Abrams Versus Joss Whedon

Choose you this day whom you will serve, pop culture fans!

UPDATE 1: Heh!

UPDATE 2: OK, I went back through the archives and found this, my most gushing fangirlish praise of Abrams, and it included this line: "credit must be given where credit is due to JJ Abrams, who helmed this project and more or less achieved Joss Whedon status with it." Hmmm!

Oh, Joss. I'll always be your girl. I'll always adore you for giving us "Buffy" and "Angel" and especially "Firefly," because, as Hyacinth Girl says so well, I LOVE MY CAPTAIN. And Wash. Always Wash.

But JJ, I'll raise a glass to you for "Alias" (when it was good, that is), the fabulously resurrected "Star Trek," and for showcasing the adorable Greg Grunberg as even more adorable Agent Eric Weiss. All of you other girls can keep that high-strung pretty boy Vaughn. Give me Weiss. Cheerful, courageous, unpretentious, huggable Weiss.

Surprise! Not All Dissent Is Raaaaaaacist

Well, it's about time. Plus best title of the day: "Diversi-Tea Training."

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Quirky Asia Files: Asia's Answer to Susan Boyle

The talent-show goodness starts at 1:10. Trust me -- you're going to want to hear this.

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: Hello Kitty Wine

This horrific news comes from gentle reader Koz. The fearsomely cute mouthless kitty despot has now expanded her relentless imperialistic grasp to the hapless vineyards!

Cower before the news of Hello Kitty wines! And here's more. And here's still more.

In vino veritas.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Nerd News: A Prof Looks at University Teaching Problems

Well, it ain't pretty -- as I've told you.

But this piece, like most pieces of this type, speaks largely of general terms and groups of people and trends and such. Spare a thought for individual nerds out slogging in the trenches of academia, trying their best both to survive AND, maybe, just maybe, teach something real in a way that matters.

As for the sweeping generalizations about grad school and grad students, I beg to differ. The prof-writer bemoans the fact that there's not enough "heterodoxy" in Nerdworld. Well, what the heck does he think that I'm DOING? that people like me are DOING? Fighting an uphill battle is what, and getting shot at all the time by the campus orthodoxy and unsympathetic nerds and Nerd Lords. WE ARE THE NERD UNDERGROUND, AND WE WANT SOME PROPS.

One Doctor's Cri du Coeur

Listen up:
Add to these the seemingly-daily debacles the freakonomics of health care in the new millennium: overhead costs spiraling at multiples of the inflation rate, as income dives inversely; ever larger numbers of legitimate treatments and services denied or criminally underpaid by government and the insurance industry cartel; the ludicrous notion that you can somehow provide the highest quality (or even barely adequate) care while being reimbursed substantially less than the costs to provide it; the horrifying freak show in Washington where corrupt and prevaricating politicians shamelessly conspire to destroy a noble profession and an extraordinary health care system to line their own pockets and acquire perpetual power and control.

. . . In truth, why would anyone choose to go into this profession today? Why would any sane man continue to practice medicine in this environment? Why, indeed, do I continue in this insanity?
Read the whole thing.

I've heard the same repeatedly from my medical friends. In the midst of the ObamaCare debacle, it's all too easy to think only of ourselves as the outraged taxpayers whose wishes were utterly ignored. But spare a thought too for the many excellent, dedicated medical professionals who are getting screwed too, but in other dreadful ways.

The Taxman Cometh: The Link Between Taxes and Freedom

Preach it, Jonah! Here is a piece of it:
We are heading toward being a country where instead of the people deciding how much money the government should have, the government decides how much money the people should have.
Just Say No.

Great Moments in Higher Education: Nerd Romance (or Not) at Yale

I'm being sarcastic, sort of. I mean, this is headline news?

Yale has a new ban. Some people seem to think that it's a really bad idea. Is it, though? Call me a prude, but I do NOT think instructors should date any student whom they are teaching in a class.

Political Cartoon of the Day: Pretty Much, Yeah

What Fresh Hell Is This: The Nuclear Nimrod

Ugh! Really? So you're going to muck about our own defense while doing nothing to prevent a rogue state like Iran from acquiring the bomb? It's UNSERIOUS. And UNSAFE. So you're going to limit our options while expanding theirs. What could possibly go wrong?

UPDATE 1: Roger L. Simon is not holding back: this policy is "deranged."

PowerLine piles on.

Nerd News: Government Tinkering In Schools, or, "No Standardized Test Left Behind"

OK, that gets today's "best blog title" nod.

But seriously, read it all. It saves me from having to rant about the topic myself!

The Hyper-Moralized Politics of Self-Esteem

Read the whole thing. Blurb:

Purging moral questions from politics is both impossible and undesirable. But today's tendency to turn every contentious issue into a moral confrontation is divisive. One way of fortifying people's self-esteem is praising them as smart, public-spirited and virtuous. But an easier way is to portray the "other side" as scum: The more scummy "they" are, the more superior "we" are. This logic governs the political conversation of left and right, especially talk radio, cable channels and the blogosphere.

Unlike economic benefits, psychic benefits can be dispensed without going through Congress. Mere talk does the trick. Shrillness and venom are the coin of the realm. The opposition cannot simply be mistaken. It must be evil, selfish, racist, unpatriotic, immoral or just stupid. A culture of self-righteousness reigns across the political spectrum.
It's not the politics of thinking, sensible adults. It's the politics of puerile narcissists. But it is the politics of the day. And left unchecked and unchallenged I'm pretty sure it will bring far more misery than it claims to cure.

Oh, and on the self-righteousness topic: in my personal experience, folks on the right think folks on the left are misguided or wrong. Folks on the left, though, think folks on the right are eeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. There is a big difference there! Then again, what do I know? I'm just an ignorant bitter racist clinging to my guns and Bible.

Movie Madness: Obsessing About "Iron Man 2"

May 7 CANNOT GET HERE SOON ENOUGH. Everyone here at Nerdworld, from faculty to grad peons to undergrads, is burnt out and exhausted. It's raining horrible cold rain today too. Will the end of term never come? Maybe not, but at least we all have the imminent return of Tony Stark to look forward to.

So here you go, my darlings, a new photo from the flick. Oh, and I want Pepper's dress. Wouldn't it look just fabulous at my next Nerdmoot?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Movie Review: An Epic Takedown of "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones"

Remember this mind-bogglingly awesome assault on "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace"? Well, that movie critic is back with more. He's now completed a 9-part onslaught against the second prequel, the laughably dreadful "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones." In his own words, it's "part review satire, part parody, part commentary, all prequel hating vitriolic comedy."

Enjoy. I embed the first video for your viewing pleasure (slight language warning):

The specific attack on the utterly idiotic "romance" between Anakin and Padme is just fabulous.

Disgusting or Cute? Peep Sushi

What to do with leftover Easter candy? Here is one crazy idea.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Cowboy Up: 40% of Tea Partiers Are Democrats and Independents

I'd already noted the presence of disaffected Dems among the tea parties, and now a fresh survey has more numbers: some estimated 40% of the tea partiers are Democrats and independents.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the miserable MSM to acknowledge the diversity of the grassroots tea parties. As far as they're concerned, the tea partiers are all evil Republican operatives.

If You Gotta Go, Go Now: Chinese Government Blocks Bob Dylan Concert

Looks like Chinese Dylan fans will have to settle for pirated CDs?

Film Culture Commentary: Jason Reitman and a Tale of 2 Critics

Here is an interesting read that spends some time discussing one of my favorite films, 2005's Thank You for Smoking.

Nerd News: 8 Great College Towns

Was your alma mater in one of these fortunate places?

The Economy and the "Knowledge Problem"

Here are some thoughts by the Insta-Prof. The economy is a complex system. Unfortunately, its would-be government commanders have simple minds.

Also, read this.

Happy Easter!

Christ Resurrected and the Maries at the Tomb
Cell 8, Convent of San Marco, Florence, Italy

(do click to enlarge)

Eat Your Way Around Taipei

WHY AM I NOT THERE RIGHT NOW? Feast your eyes on the culinary glories of Taipei.

Taiwan: Political Hijinks from KMT and DPP

Check out the state of political discourse from both KMT and DPP. Don't miss this from the DPP, whatever else you do!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Nerd Journal: Basketball Madness

I'm watching college basketball until my eyeballs bleed. That is all.

The HopeChange Chronicles: Not Fighting a Nuclear Iran?

Oh, man, I think I need a good stiff drink. Oh, wait, Nanny Government doesn't like that idea. *shakes fists in impotent rage.*

Kitchen Notes: Golden Chocolate Easter Eggs


A Little Humor From the Late, Great Bob Hope

Via Tigerhawk, some timeless humor:

What Are "Human Rights?": Canada Edition

Here is the blurb:

By some crude osmosis, or just from the luxuriant carelessness of our pampered lives, we have overturned one of the great concepts of all human law. The concept of human rights, as experience and history inform us, is protection from the state's power, not oversight, interference and punishment by the state's power.

The core concept of human rights is the protection of the irreducible safety and dignity of the individual from the massive and arbitrary power of the state. Not, the state wandering in, with its apparatus and procedures, its boards and tribunals into the doings, or speech, of the individual.

I dare say Mark Steyn would agree.

Mashup Hilarity: Easter Candy + the Exodus = "Let My Peeple Go!"

This is just hilarious. What happens when you combine Easter Peeps candy with "The Ten Commandments"?

Wasn't Prohibition Repealed?

Sigh. And again, sigh. Nanny Government is coming for your cocktails!

Cowboy Up: The Tea Party Grows -- "These are not the Democrats that I have been brought up with"

Unhappy Democrats join the tea party movement for less government.

I guess we're all racist tea partying right-wing gun-clinging extremists now.

Welcome to the world of common sense and self-reliance, new tea partiers! I can offer you a hot steaming cup of Earl Grey or jasmine green. Buyers' remorse can be a terrible thing. Tea and sympathy!

Cowboy Up: Vote Like You Mean It in November


We are challenged to answer again the momentous questions our Founders raised when they launched mankind's noblest experiment in human freedom. They made a fundamental choice and changed history for the better. Now it's our high calling to make that choice: between managed scarcity, or solid growth ... between living in dependency on government handouts, or taking responsibility for our lives ... between confiscating the earnings of some and spreading them around, or securing everyone's right to the rewards of their work ... between bureaucratic central government, or self-government ... between the European social welfare state or the American idea of free market democracy.

What kind of nation do we wish to be? What kind of society will we hand down to our children and future generations? In the coming watershed election, the nature of this unique and exceptional land is at stake. We will choose one of two different paths. And once we make that choice, there's no going back.

This is not the kind of election I would prefer. But it was forced on us by the leaders of our government.

Read the whole thing.

As I've said before, I don't LIKE politics. I would prefer to be left alone to live my life in peace (to bake cookies, watch movies, and search for the perfect pair of cute spring sandals). But the current political class won't leave me alone. So who's going to be surprised when I -- and plenty of other angry voters -- push back? Calling me all kinds of nasty names is not going to stop me from thinking, speaking, and voting as I please.

Read this too.

No Further Comment Needed

Get a load of this. Need I say more?

UPDATE: Reason has the transcript.

Forgotten History: Remembering the Rape of Nanjing

A new documentary film by Japanese activist Tamaki Matsuoka pushes back against whitewashing the dark details of WWII atrocities.

"Chinese and Japanese perceptions of this war are totally different. That's why this documentary is called 'Torn Memories of Nanjing.' My mission is to help more Japanese people learn the facts," Matsuoka told The Associated Press in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Japanese troops began a rampage—known in the West as the "Rape of Nanking" —in December 1937 that many historians generally agree ended with the slaughter of at least 150,000 people and the rape of tens of thousands of women in Nanjing, then the capital of China's Nationalist government. Nanking is the old spelling for the city now called Nanjing.

Japan has fringe groups that deny any atrocity took place, saying the supposed massacre is a fabrication of the communist government. But earlier this year, a report written by Japanese and Chinese historians appointed by their governments confirmed that rapes and a massacre had taken place.

Matsuoka spent more than a decade interviewing hundreds of Chinese victims and Japanese veterans.

The Loneliest Man In the World

The loneliest, and possibly the one with the most sleepless nights.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Friday Fun and Movie Madness: Most Awesome Action Movie Trailer Yet?

This trailer for the upcoming flick "The Expendables" is like a Hall of Fame for action movie stars. You won't believe who all is in this thing! I can't wait to see the movie. It's sure to be a crazy testosterone joyride with lots and LOTS of thing that go "BOOM!"

To the Cinema-Mad Sibling: YOU'RE WELCOME, PAL.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Satire Alert: Oh, If Only!

From the Onion: "US Government To Save Billions By Cutting Wasteful Senator Program."

Geek Fun: Top 10 April Fool's Pranks


This Wikipedia fake entry is darn funny, but -- as usual -- it's the Brits who have the best April Fool's news prank.

Nerd Journal: Spring's First Robin!

YES!!! I was just walking across campus and saw a flash of brown and red fly through the air and dive into a bush.

It was the first robin of the season, and as far as I'm concerned, spring is finally here! Hooray!

(This isn't an April Fool's joke either!)