Friday, December 31, 2010

It's New Year's Eve!

It's time to have some fun, darlings! Off you go to your New Year's parties to dance the night away!

Let's do the Time Warp again.

Awesome: Midnight Fireworks from Sydney

It's already 2011 in Asia and Down Under, and the Aussies are partying in style!  Check out this magnificent fireworks display from Sydney.  Wow!  (Link via Neatorama.)

New Year's Eve DIY: How to Open a Champagne Bottle with a Sword

Well, MM Blog is supposed to be kind of, sort of, vaguely educational, right?  Here's a lesson in opening that bottle of bubbly with a saber.  No, really.  Stand back, kids!  Check out the video.

That Was The Year That Was: 2010 in Retrospectives

Let's have a bit of fun, shall we?
JibJab has its usual musical end-of-year video (this time with puppets!), but I think I prefer Google's retrospective, "Zeitgeist 2010":

Since everybody loves movies here at MM Blog, I give you all the movies of 2010 smashed into a 6-minute video.  Somehow it makes the year in movies seem a lot more awesome than it actually was.  My personal favorites for sheer amusement were "Iron Man 2," "Inception," "Toy Story 3," "Easy A," the Percy Jackson flick, the latest Harry Potter movie, and the new Narnia movie, and I have a whole bunch of other 2010 releases in the theater and on DVD to see now that school is out and I have a bit of free time.  Oh, and here is the ever-readable John Scalzi's look at the most notable sci-fi flicks of 2010.  If I had to pick the best of the best of 2010, though, I would pick "Inception," "Toy Story 3,"and "True Grit."  You *must* see these three movies.

My own picks for best, worst, weirdest, or just worth remembering of 2010 are after the fold.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What a Gas: Energy Issues and an Israeli Discovery

Things just got even more interesting in the Middle East and ramifications for foreign policy and geopolitics as Israel announces the biggest deepwater find of natural gas deposits in a decade -- 16 trillion cubic feet, enough to meet Israel's gas needs for a century.  And perhaps turn Israel into an exporter of natural gas.  Well, well, well.  Game-changing action?  Bonus: the name of the gas field is ... wait for it ... Leviathan.  It's worth tens of billions of dollars.

The best humorous response has to come from Ace of Spades, which offers this snarky thought:
No doubt the Obama administration is hard at work trying to figure out how to force Israel into not only a freeze on settlement construction but also an off-shore drilling moratorium.

China Makes Skype Illegal


Tax Revolt, Ivy League Egghead Style

James Taranto of the WSJ is cheerfully poking fun at some Yale and Cornell professors who are unhappy that their taxes aren't higher.

The Tweeting Hero of Snowpocalypse: Meet Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark

First there was the massive holiday blizzard on the East Coast, and then there was the cleanup (or lack thereof in New York City) and various accusations of wussiness in the City of Brotherly Love.  Amid all the snowy mess and loud repercussions, I gotta hand it to Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark: Kudos, sir. Kudos indeed.  If nothing else, one can't ask for better optics and public relations than that in the Internet age: a young, vigorous mayor shoveling snow like everyone else ... and helping whomever he can while using Twitter to keep in touch with his city residents. (Here's his Twitter page, by the way.)

Quote of the Day: A Bon Mot From Chinese Blogger Han Han

China's most popular blogger, frustrated with censorship and government interference, has this to say about Beijing:
"The government wants China to become a great cultural nation, but our leaders are so uncultured ... If things continue like this, China will only be known for tea and pandas."
Read the whole thing.

Nerd News: An American Teaches in Iraq

Read the whole thing.  Blurb:
The biggest challenge I face teaching in Iraqi Kurdistan is not the threat of terrorism, cultural boundaries, or my craving for a good cup of brewed coffee -- it is to live up to my students’ expectations, to be as good and wise a teacher as they believe me to be. Frankly, it scares the hell out of me. But I have to tell you, for a teacher, it doesn’t get any better than this.
To be teaching students who want to learn ... No, it doesn't get any better than this!  Oh, here is the website for the American University in Iraq -- Sulaimani.  Wow, I would love to do something like this, at least for a while.  Things do seem to be improving over there, as even the WaPo notes.

Great Moments in Research: Psychology Prof Explains Why We Love the "Angry Birds" Game

Do we need an explanation other than the fact that the game is fun?

Nerd News: Highest-Paid UC Execs Demand More Benefits, Threaten to Sue

Is there a single university system more messed up than the University of California network?  Check out this latest bit of scandal and skulduggery.  To its credit, though, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper names names -- the edu-crats demanding more benefits (from the all-but-bankrupt UC system!) are a collection of deans, portfolio managers, vice presidents, managing directors, and so on.  Can you people possibly be more tone-deaf?  Meanwhile, lest you forget, adjuncts and lecturers and people doing the actual teaching of students are going hungry and getting laid off and generally being screwed by the admin.  The students, by the way, are feeling the pinch too -- tuition's gone up big-time.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Movie Review: "True Grit"

Dude ranch.

The Dude is not the Duke, but even so the Dude abides.  Jeff Bridges stars -- and shines -- in the role that John Wayne made famous in the original 1969 film of the same name.

Holiday Wishes From a Law Firm

From a law firm with a sense of humor, that is.  Link via Tigerhawk.

Today in History: St Paul's 70 Years Ago

On December 29, 1940, the German bombers returned to London, but Saint Paul's Cathedral survived the onslaught.  Read the story behind the iconic photographs.

Public Service Announcement: Build Your Own Backyard Ice Rink

Baby, it's cold outside ... so let's have some DIY fun!

Awesome: Best Legal Correspondence Ever?


Cultural Commentary: Football and the "Wussification of America"

Ed Rendell is dishing out the awesomeness again.  Take a look at this video clip as a follow-up to my previous post on the peppery governor of Pennsylvania.  (By the way, check out his seat at the game.)

What would Vince Lombardi have said?

Geek Fun: OK Go's Awesome Goldberg Machine

The Cine-Sib and I recommend this delightful video for your technophiliac, geeky pleasure:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Awesome: Tron Story

Check out this fantastic mashup of "Tron: Legacy" and Buzz Lightyear of the "Toy Story" movies!

Forgotten History: The All-Girl Criminal Gang of Victorian London

Apparently these gals worked hard and partied even harder as they terrified the shopkeepers of London.  Blurb:
The all-female Forty Elephants – or Forty Thieves – worked alongside the notorious Elephant and Castle gang, a sprawling, powerful army of all-male smash-and-grab artists, burglars, receivers, hard men and crafty villains operating across south London. The Forty Elephants, in contrast, was a tightly run, neatly organised collection of cells, whose operations extended across London and into other cities.
Presided over by a formidable "queen", the Forty Elephants were responsible for the largest shoplifting operation ever seen in Britain between the 1870s and 1950s. The gang was first mentioned in newspapers in 1873, but police records suggest it had existed since the late 1700s.

Best and Worst Sci Fi Flicks of 2010

Let the debating begin!  (You may recall the Best and Worst of 2009.)  My vote for the best sci fi flick (if not the best flick period) of the year is "Inception."

Australian Aboriginal Art: Humongous Fungus Among Us!

Here is some weird and wonderful stuff.

Satire Alert: Emily Post Meets the TSA

From the ever-delightful humor blog Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine:

Latest TSA Public Relations Win

This is descending into farce.  So apparently the TSA is going after pilots and passengers and everybody except terrorists.  The pilot, 50-year-old Chris Liu, is pushing back.  Good on him.

Forgotten History: How Curious George Escaped From the Nazis

Fascinating!  I had no idea.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowpocalypse Now: The Video

Check out 20 hours of yesterday's East Coast blizzard condensed into this 38 second long video from New Jersey:

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

For more weather-related East coast Nerdworld hilarity, see this and definitely don't miss Stephen Colbert on "thundersnow" and the Four Snowmen of the Apocalypse.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>March to Keep Fear Alive

Quote of the Day: On Postponing NFL Games in Philadelphia

Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania, is not happy at all:
"It goes against everything that football is all about," Rendell said Monday on radio station 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.
Rendell was rankled by the league's decision to move the Philadelphia Eagles' home game against the Minnesota Vikings from Sunday night to Tuesday evening.
The NFL cited the winter storm that wound up slamming most of the East Coast as the reason for the change, but elected to postpone the game before any snow had even accumulated. About a foot of snow fell on Philadelphia, though less than 5 inches was on the ground before the scheduled kickoff at 8:20 p.m. EST Sunday night.
Rendell viewed the NFL's decision as a referendum on the toughness, or lack thereof, of the United States.
"My biggest beef is that this is part of what's happened in this country," Rendell said. "I think we've become wussies."
"We've become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything," Rendell added. "If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."
Nice rant, sir.  Doing calculus on the way down!

Christmas as Psychological Warfare

Well, obviously -- haven't you ever seen how relatives behave?  The sniping, complaining, backstabbing, gossiping, huffy silences-- Oh, you mean military psy ops?  OK, that too.

I'm reminded, though, of two hilarious quips about the holidays:
  • "Christmas isn't about being with people you like.  It's about being with your family!" -- Tim Allen
  • "Al Qaeda threatening to disrupt Christmas ... Who do they think they are -- relatives?" -- Jay Leno
OK, now I have a ludicrous image in my mind of Rambo Rudolph in some jungle, hefting a massive rocket launcher and blowing up stuff while yelling, "Merry Christmas, [insert insult here]!"

Peace Through Superior Firepower

Hmmmm.  Weakness, real or perceived, breeds chaos -- invites it, even.  Any real historian should be able to tell you this.

Nerd News: Decoding a Civil War-Era Message

Now that is cool.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Perfect Ending to Christmas Day: Back to the Whoniverse

I just watched the Doctor Who Christmas Special, and I had a wonderful time.  Moffat RULES!  Even better is the preview of the new season.  I am SO excited.  As much as I love Ten, as much as I miss Ten, I have to say Eleven has won me over.  Here you go, darlings:

The "Hallelujah Chorus" From the 5th Grade Class of the Last Frontier

Look at this lovely musical video project by the 5th grade class of Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat in Quinhagak, Alaska, with some help from the townspeople.  PS: Their teacher plans to do a lesson about apostrophe use when school is back in session after the holidays.  (What a nice teachable moment.  Short version: never use apostrophes to make plural nouns!)  Anyway, to the video!  See, you're never too young to encounter and enjoy one of the world's truly great musical achievements.  Kudos, Handel and the 5th graders!

Top 10 Paintings of the Nativity

What do you think?  At the very least this will give you and yours something new to argue about on this holiday.

Awesome: Gingerbread Serenity

Here's a yummy holiday tribute to Whedon's "Firefly" TV show.  Outstanding!

"This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, 
so we may experience some slight turbulence and then ... explode."

Nerd Journal: One More Present for My Posse

For La Parisienne, who just might need a little midday pick-me-up amid all the day's entertaining ... and because it's not quite time yet for the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas Special ... Here's a blast from the Christmas 2009 past.

Chinese Food on Christmas

For the Opera Diva and my other Jewish friends, an old favorite:

Here's a new bit of related humor.  Oh, and this.

Merry Christmas 2010 from MM Blog!

Christmas greetings go digital this year with "A Social Network Christmas."  What might have happened if Mary and Joseph were on Facebook?

The Cinema-Mad Sibling adds this too, "The Digital Story of the Nativity."   Merry Christmas 2.0!

MM in the Kitchen: Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

Here is something yummy for Christmas breakfast!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Nerd News: The Physics of Santa

Some engineering professors and their students at North Carolina State University have been exploring the physics of Santa!  You can check out their research here.  Outstanding!

MM in the Kitchen: Chocolate-Dipped Anything

From They Draw and Cook comes this fabulous recipe.  Click to enlarge.  Gorgeous ... not to mention delicious.

NORAD Tracks Santa 2010

It's a Christmas tradition here to track Santa on Christmas Eve with NORAD.  Enjoy!  Somehow it never gets old.  Thanks, NORAD!  Google Earth is in on the action too.

Nerd Journal: A Present For Good Girls

For La Parisienne and California Dreamer since they've been good girls this year!  Merry Christmas, dahlings!  It's the BBC ident from Christmas 2009.  I had forgotten all about it until now.  The current 2010 holiday ident features a Dalek, and that's cute and all, but there's something magically delightful about the old one:

OK, Vlad, You Win: You're the Manliest World Leader Out There.

You can stop showing off now.  KTHXBAI!

A Festivus Miracle

Well, whaddyaknow?

Satire Alert: How Different Ages Celebrate Christmas

The Oatmeal strikes comedy gold!

Quirky Euro Files: Weird Christmas Traditions

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!  Take a look at some delightfully odd traditions from Italy to Germany to Spain and beyond.

Awesome: A Star Wars Christmas

This is brilliant, not to mention hilarious.

I find your lack of Christmas cheer ... disturbing.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pantera 1, Traditional Christmas Carols 0

This is pretty darn awesome in an insane sort of way, though I suppose it's not to everyone's taste.  I'm willing to bet this guy's neighbors hate him.  Anyhoo ... La Parisienne, this one's for you!

MM in the Kitchen: Spritz Cookies

So easy and delicious!  Sprinkle them with a bit of colored sugar.  I remember making literally hundreds of these for Christmas parties with Count Chocula when we were in school together.  Caveat: You do need a cookie press for these cookies, but it's a bit of equipment that's not too expensive and well worth owning.

Geek Fun: Grow Your Own Snow Crystals

Here is something fun (and educational!) from Professor Kenneth Libbrecht, chair of physics at Caltech (and fan of snowflakes).

Satire Alert: Santa's Naughty List Leaked

This is delightfully funny, not to mention disgustingly cute:

Happy Festivus!

Bring on the airing of grievances and feats of strength!  Oh, Seinfeld, what hast thou wrought?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Little Euro-Economic Humor: the €100 Note

From Samizdata comes this little jest:
It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note. The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how the bailout package works.

Nerd News: More Thoughts on Columbia, Hayek, and Eminent Domain

I posted on Columbia and eminent domain here.  Now take a look at this follow-up.

"Cellphone Towers = Babies!" An Object Lesson in Correlation Versus Causation

Heh!  Otherwise known as "how to create a phony health scare." Read the whole thing.

Awesomeness: Fallingwater in Gingerbread


Geek News: The Fall of E-mail?

Hmmmm.  Well, sort of.  I don't foresee a day coming any time soon when Nerd Lords will text their students.  I know mine won't ... if only because too many of them don't know how to text!  My peeps and I text each other all the time, though, but we also send email, online chat, call, and sometimes write actual physical letters and notes.  The real danger, I suppose, is that some people (read: young people) will become so used to the hottest new mode of communication that they are unable to function with any other kind when they enter life situations that require them.  You/we should be growing proficient in ALL these modes.

Awesomeness: Time-Lapse Lunar Eclipse

Here is a gorgeous follow-up to the winter solstice lunar eclipse that made all the news yesterday!  Xie-xie to the Roamin' Ronin for pointing this out.  The background:
Last night presented an ultra-rare treat for astronomy buffs: Not only was there a total lunar eclipse beginning at about 12:30am EST, but the eclipse coincided with the arrival of the winter solstice for the first time in 372 years.

Shooting from Gainesville, Florida, William Castleman created the above time-lapse video of last night’s eclipse, condensing the lunar action from 1:10 AM EST to 5:03 AM EST into 2 minutes.
Get an eyeful of this:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Drunken Serb 1, Shark 0

Talk about "jumping the shark"!

UPDATE: Too good to be true.  It's a hoax.  But what a fun one.

Nerd News: ROTC Back on Campus?

The repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays in the military means that many elite universities no longer have their favorite excuse to ban the ROTC from campus.  The latest nerd gossip is that Harvard and Yale have already made noises about restoring the ROTC.  Good.  Now to see who else follows suit.

Satire Alert: A New Ending for the Yogi Bear Movie

What happens when you combine the new Yogi Bear movie with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford?  This is sheer brilliance, though I should probably warn you not to show this to little kids.  Kudos also to professional animator Edmund Earle who created this spoof for fun and became a viral video hero.  Well done, sir, well done indeed.  Here's the video:

Nerd News: Elite Colleges and Later Success


Quirky Asia Files: the Velociraptor Santa Robot

Ah, Japan!  How much hilarious technophiliac pleasure you do bring to the rest of us!  Behold the velociraptor Santa robot!

Nice kids get presents.  Naughty kids get eaten.  Any questions?

Monday Therapy: The World's Largest Aquarium

Look at this gorgeous video footage from Georgia Aquarium (via Laughing Squid):

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Movie Review: "Tron: Legacy"

Floppy disk drive.

Digital world + lightcycle race + obsession about your personal information being stored on a frisbee-like disk + an overall limp effort at storytelling = floppy disk drive indeed.

Short version:  As a friend of mine just said, "Tron: Legacy is this year's Avatar -- pretty special effects and an empty story."  Nuff said.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kitchen Notes: Is This Culinary Sin Forgivable?

A poor damned soul confesses that she enabled the total monstrosity that is Sandra Lee.  Oh, you say, to err is human ... to forgive, divine.  Oh, you say, the quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed -- It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.  OK, but I should tell you that this is the same poor damned soul who wrote the recipe for this nauseating atrocity and gave it to Sandra Lee.  Is this culinary sin forgivable?  I say only two words: corn nuts.

You miserable vomitous mass.

Nerd News: Is Columbia University a Bully over Eminent Domain?

One law professor seems indeed to think so.  We need strong property rights, he argues, because they protect the little guy ... especially from big guys.

Kitchen Notes: Grocery Costs Are Increasing

I guess we'll all have to go back to our college-era dining habits of eating nothing but ramen.  OH WAIT -- I'M ALREADY DOING THAT.

Nerd News: A Sorry State of Affairs

3 pieces worth a look:
  1. The cost of education and overselling college
  2. A glut of doctorates
  3. Liberal arts and humanities under pressure from both left and right

Friday Fun Video: "Skydiving" with Google Earth

The sheer nerdy and geeky fun of this ingenious video must be seen!  And yes, of course it's from Japan!

Free fallin'

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nerd News: Archaeologists Discover 2400-Year-Old Soup in China

Wow!  The find site is near Xian in China.  Enquiring minds want to know: hot-and-sour, wonton, or egg drop soup?

Foie Gras Food Fight Continues

Here's something interesting for Count Chocula and La Parisienne and all you foodies.  A bit of background?  Watch the fabulously, irascibly mouthy Anthony Bourdain sound off about this here and here.

History Lesson: Mao's Great Leap Forward ... Into the Abyss

Well, well, well.  The New York Times publishes "Mao's Great Leap to Famine," an editorial about the horrors Mao caused.  Excerpts here. Be sure to see the commentary by Instapundit.  Read the whole thing -- both Insta-Prof and the NYT piece.  The sheer evil perpetrated by Mao and Chinese Communism must not continue to be whitewashed by leftist apologists.  As for the pathetic excuse about "good intentions," I could not care less about "intentions."  I care about results.  The "Great Leap Forward" caused some 45 million deaths.  Some workers' paradise, that.  Chew on that historical fact, you modern neo-Commie utopian morons.

RELATED POSTS: here and here, and read this book.

The BiblioFiles: Does Oprah's Book Club Mangle Literature?

Hmmmmmmm.  The whole thing is worth reading, though I cannot resist quoting this:
Since its inception in 1996, the Book Club has carved its niche among readers by telling them that the novel is a chance to learn more about themselves. It’s not about literature or writing; it’s about looking into a mirror and deciding what type of person you are, and how you can be better. While a generally wrongheaded view of novels, this notion is all the more frustrating when the club delves into the true classics, with their vast knottiness, glorious language, breathtaking characters, and multi-faceted, mind-twisting prose. None of that matters in Oprah’s view of books, since reading is yet another exercise in self-gratification. “If you have read him, what do you think Dickens might have to share and teach those of us who live in this digital age?” the Book Club’s producer, Jill, asks on Oprah’s website. This is the Eat, Pray, Love school of reading.
Oh, snap!  By the way, La Parisienne and other rant enthusiasts, there is a rant below the fold:

Public Service Announcement: How to Watch Streaming Video Anywhere

Now here's some news you can use.

Nerd News: One UK Teacher Vs. the EMA

Katharine Birbalsingh (I previously posted about her here when she was under fire for criticizing the UK's broken education system) takes aim at the Education Maintenance Allowance that she argues, bribes deadbeat kids to go to school and, even worse, ensures that they remain deadbeats:
Even if you ignore all the disruption to the good kids, all the teachers who have had breakdowns, all the wasted taxpayers’ money, can the do-gooders not see how EMA and the culture of prizes for all only ruins the lives of the poor? It rids them of the motivation and aspiration that is required for success in life. 
... EMA and the culture it creates turns our poor children into goons who go to school because they’re being paid to. They haven’t ever had to think about what they want out of life and plan for it: because the system never lets them.
EMA should be scrapped, not to save money but to save our kids. Money doesn’t always fix social problems; sometimes it is the cause.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quirky Asia Files: The Chinese Communist Twitter

As if Twitter could be even dumber than it is, there's now "Red Twitter" in China that supposed to gin up all your revolutionary proletariat fervor, comrades ... or something.  Whatever.  

So once again life imitates satire.  There's a Facebook parody already that's just hilarious, but I put it below the fold with a profanity warning. Comrades, get a load of Little Red Facebook!  

Life Imitates Iowahawk, and the Taiwanese News Animators Are There

I just didn't know what to say about last week's tidal wave of lunacy in Washington, so I ended up not posting on any of it -- especially since it's exam time on campus.  

But now in retrospect, what a weird week it was!  From Obama's peevish lashing out at everybody at that presser (and how un-presidential is it to call the opposition party "hostage-takers"?  so much for post-partisan politics, though we've never heard anything this blatantly hostile -- hey, CHANGE!) ... to goofy, elderly Vermont socialist senator Bernie Sanders ranting for 8 hours (somebody give him some Jimmy Stewart DVDs and send him home!) ... to the total unbelievability of Obama's other presser with Bill Clinton -- if we can even call it Obama's, since he bailed not five minutes into it and left us all the spectacle of Slick Willie pontificating at the podium as in years of yore.  (See this snark.)  I practically got whiplash with deja-vu.  Well, if nothing else it was a press conference that was -- for once -- worth watching.

The whole incident looked horrible ... and isn't most of public relations about "optics"?  And, possibly worst of all, Clinton looked and acted presidential, calm, confident, warm.  Obama didn't.  Truman's adage about the heat and the kitchen proved true again in spectacularly public fashion.  Obama's turning into the Incredible Shrinking President.  In fact, he's shrunk so much he literally became the President Who Wasn't There.  He used his wife and a Christmas party as his excuse and fled the press conference.  I'd never seen anything remotely like this.  It was weird.  It was embarrassing.  

So I leave you with two thoughts:
  1. The whole thing reminded me of this prescient satire by Iowahawk from way back in 2008.  Iowahawk, we are not worthy!
  2. You have GOT to see this new cartoon by those brilliant Taiwanese news animators.  It just hit YouTube yesterday.  Check out the Clinton version of the Bat Signal!  The first time I saw this video, I laughed out loud.

I'm Too Busy with Exams, So Here's a Comic About Snow

(Because there is snow all over Nerdworld right now.  Oh, it's pretty and everything, but it is a huge pain the neck as soon as you go outside!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

LEGO Black Ops: Minifig Mass Mayhem

For the Cine-Sib:  This has got to be one of the greatest Lego action videos ever.  Warning: Lots of gratuitous violence.  Just the way we like it. Yeah!

Morality Check: Do You Feel Sorry For Leonard Pierce?

He fabricated a book review for a book that's not even finished yet, got busted for it, and lost his gig.  Do you feel sorry for him?  I don't.  Not one bit.  Check out the Flick Filosopher ranting about the sort of people who are actually defending this lying scumbag and his "mistake":

Christmas Cookie Craziness: Gingerbread Yoga

Here's the link, but what you really want is an eyeful of the cookies:

Yummm -- I mean, Ommm ...

Oh, oh, an idea!  What would happen if we pitted the gingerbread yoga practitioners against the gingerbread ninjas?

Attack of the Zionist Sharks!

How did I miss this crazy Egyptian accusation that the Israelis are sending sharks to attack the Red Sea?  How do I even begin to make fun of this?  Oh, wait!  I don't have to!  Comedian Stephen Colbert will do it for me:

Israel Shark Conspiracy
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>March to Keep Fear Alive

UPDATE:  I have obtained a photo of one of these Zionist Mossad-trained shark commandos!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Confucius Say, What a Bunch of Idiots

Whatever.  It's a cheap Chinese knockoff of the Nobel Peace Prize, which is in itself funny enough.  Even better, maybe, is discrediting yourself by nominating that old fossil Lien Chan.  (Oh, see a related post.)  As for the Confucius Prize, the now-famous Taiwanese news animators have a field day.  Enjoy!

Christmas Cake .... TV Tropes Style!

Christmas Cake -- it's not what you think!

Schadenfreude of the Day: Boris Johnson Wants an Apology

He and the British Euroskeptics are now in the position to proclaim, "We told you so."  They were right, indeed. Here is a bit of his opinion piece:
... all those snooty Europhile politicians and journalists who sneered at us for our doubts should be forced to crawl in penitence to Dublin Castle, scourging themselves with copies of the Maastricht Treaty.
Daniel Hannan is a little less gloat-y.

Quote of the Day: Can We Stop the Political Food Fight? Fat Chance.

Here it is:
The irony, too, is that right-wing griping about the food police can converge uncannily with the left-wing "fat acceptance" movement. This movement, which champions the idea that fat people are an oppressed group and that disapproval of obesity is a form of bigotry, advocates its own nanny-statism -- such as demanding that businesses provide special accommodations for obese employees and consumers. It also seeks to stifle politically incorrect attitudes toward fatness. Recently, Maura Kelly, a blogger for the women's magazine Marie Claire, found herself the target of irate blog posts and hate mail after she expressed the view that obesity is not only unhealthy but esthetically offensive, and something most people have "a ton of control over."
True, the cult of thinness poses its own health risks, including dangerous diets and eating disorders. It is equally true that no one, adult or child, should be treated cruelly because of body weight. But the answer is not to go to the other extreme and normalize, if not glamorize, obesity or the lifestyle choices that create it.
Conservatives have often argued that, in order for a free society to flourish, individual freedom must be coupled with self-restraint. Perhaps some appreciation of this old-fashioned virtue is just what's needed in the debate over food and fat.

At least the closing thought is OK.  I had snarked about "fat studies" here.

Holiday Monday Therapy: Simon's Cat + Christmas Tree = Hilarity

Inevitable ... yet hilarious.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What Fresh Hell Is This? -- Putin Sings

It's ... it's ... You have to see it (and hear it) for yourself.  It might even be more creepy and weird than the crazy Gazprom song.  Here's the video.

Oh, here's a thought.  Silvio Berlusconi of Italy used to be a cruise ship singer in his youth.  What would happen if you pitted these two into a lounge act throwdown of cheesy songs and egomanical politicians?  While we're at it, why not throw in Bill Clinton and his saxophone?  My ears are bleeding just thinking about it.

Public Service Announcement: How to Make the Perfect Snowball

It is a valuable life skill, grasshopper!

Can the Chinese Diplomatic Corps Do Anything Right These Days?

It's a question worth asking about the Nobel debacle.

Quirky Euro Files: Poland's 30-Foot-Tall Snowman

His name is Milocinek.  The news story says that some bored Poles decided to build a snowman and didn't stop until it had become a giant.  Bored?  I'll say!  But brilliant too.

Magnificent Verbal Venom: On One UK Student Protestor

Here's a quotation from an elegantly written screed:
I wouldn’t have said so, judging by the photograph above, but the Cambridge undergraduate son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour does like to look his best, even when defiling the memory of the war dead. Insults to the fallen are so much more daring if the protester’s clothes hang just so when he’s dangling in mid-air. And, as all well-heeled anarchists know, that requires the assistance of an expert tailor!

Archaeology Nerd News: A Theory of Building Stonehenge

Check out a grad student's cool new idea.  Even better: he's a not even a grad student in archaeology or history or anything like that.  Andrew Young of Exeter is a doctoral student in biosciences.  Kudos!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Cinema-Mad Sibling Recommends: the Navy's Awesome Electromagnetic Railgun

This time the Cine-Sib recommends not a movie as usual, but a video.  It's not just any video either.  It's the footage of "life imitates sci-fi" technophiliac awesomeness as the Navy fires a railgun that shoots a projectile at Mach 8 -- or 5,500 feet per second.  Things go boom.  And the Cine-Sib and I do love it when things go boom!

UPDATE:  Best blog post title for this: "Say Hello To My Little Friend."  I wish I'd thought to do that!

Words, Words, Words: Chaucer versus Shakespeare

So!  Are you on Team Chaucer or Team Shakespeare?   My vote is embedded in the blog post title, actually.

Nerd Journal: Exam-Time Metaphor

This is also one big Grad School Metaphor.  Watch this video!  You'll be on the edge of your seat!  Don't worry, though -- however harrowing it is (and it is!), all is well in the end.  All right, I can't help myself: All we are is ducks in the wind ...

Conan 1, DC Superhero Comics 0

Conan O'Brien is simply hilarious.  Bonus: he gets turned into a comic book superhero!

Incandescent with Rage: The Lightbulb Revolt

Funny, but I still like the Heatball initiative better... But, seriously, dude, do I have to start hoarding lightbulbs?  Because I will if I have to.  I will.

30 Years of Royal Christmas Cards

This compilation is surprisingly fascinating.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Another Thought on WikiLeaks: "Assange's Doctrine is Woefully Simplistic"

Well, sure.  Self-appointed, preening moral crusaders are usually short on the ability to appreciate the complications and nuances of the world as it actually is.  There is a distinct whiff of puerile, heedless glee in Assange's actions.   UPDATE: Julian Assange is no Daniel Ellsberg?

China and Post-Liu Xiaobo Nobel Repercussions


Disgustingly Cute: Red Panda Babies at the Knoxville Zoo

Weapons-grade cute.

Kitchen Notes: Tofu Is Tofu, Not Meat!

Preach it, sister.  Real tofu is a glorious and delicious thing.  It's nothing like those atrocities that you see in fancypants health-food markets.  I love real tofu, but you will never in a million years get me to try tofurkey and its disgusting-looking ilk.  As for all the righteous-sounding excuse-making that vegetarians and vegans somehow "need" to mangle tofu in order to make meat substitutes out of it -- I DON'T CARE.  Making bad food is a crime, a sin, and an abomination. I don't care what the excuse is.   Do you know how I love my tofu?  WITH MEAT.  (Seriously.)

New Book: "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming"

I shall put this on my ever-increasing list of books to read!  It's an astronomer's perspective on Pluto.  Bonus: an awesome title.

Nerd News: Students Protest Tuition Hikes in UK

Oh, my!  The hotspot is London, natch.  Check out reports by UK sources at the BBC News, the Guardian, and the Telegraph.  The first violence has broken out, apparently, and I went to the news video feed just in time to see dozens of mounted London police gallop onto the scene.  It was -- to my historian's imagination -- weirdly too-reminiscent of medieval mobs.  Anyway, this isn't the first UK student protest against increased costs, and it certainly won't be the last.

MM in the Kitchen: Buttermilk Pancakes

OH YES.  With lots of real butter.  Don't even bother with that fake margarine garbage.  And eat those pancakes with real maple syrup from Canada or Vermont.  Mrs. Butterworth's is an abomination of corn syrup.  An abomination.

So!  My plan for the day:
  1. Make pancakes.
  2. Make coffee.  
  3. Panic about exams!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Nerd News: the Tea Party on College Campuses

Interesting!  Here's a nice quote from two professors:
At Brandeis, an associate professor of American history, Jerry Cohen, says he e-mailed [student Mary-Alice] Perdichizzi and told her that he admired her courage after he saw she had put up Tea Party fliers. It is healthier for students who disagree with Tea Party principles to actually engage with their fellow students than to whack at straw men, he says.
“Whether it will prove to be a positive presence on campus or not, I think that overwhelmingly -- and notwithstanding the habitual use of the word diversity four times per sentence coming out of the administration -- there’s very little real commitment to intellectual diversity,” Cohen says.
“To the extent that a Republican Party and Democratic Party can have clubs on a campus, I can see no reason not to have a Tea Party on campus,” says William Kline, an assistant professor of liberal and integrative studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Indeed.  More, please.  Faster, please.  Campuses should be places where different ideas are vigorously debated!  PS: Professor Cohen gets extra brownie points from me for also managing to take a potshot at the edu-crats in his response.