Monday, January 31, 2011

Quote of the Day: Egypt and the Middle East Narrative

The anti-Mubarak revolution won't only topple an authoritarian regime. It will also topple 40-plus years of wrong-headed thinking about the causes of Middle East instability among the world's foreign-policy cognoscenti. 
In that view, the horrible relationship between Israel and the Arabs is the dominant issue for the Near East's 20-plus nations and its 250-million-plus people -- and the root cause of the region's tempestuousness. 
But now that Tunisia's street revolt against a corrupt dictatorial regime has led to Egypt's similar revolt only in a matter of weeks, with God knows what to follow elsewhere, the plain truth can no longer be denied: Israel is a sideshow.

Awesome: A Bioluminescent Lake Under the Stars

Here's the source (with explanation of the natural phenomenon), but you know you're really just wanting to see this spectacular display from Australia:

Happy Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Well, whaddyaknow?  The last Monday in January is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day!

Disgustingly Cute Monday Therapy: Elmo and a Mom-to-Be

Via Miss Cellania comes this bit of adorable puppeteering:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Looters and Protectors of Egyptian Antiquities

The Egyptian army has gone to protect the National Museum in Cairo.  Its antiquities are priceless.

Amazing Photos as Japan's Mount Shinmoedake Volcano Erupts

Take a look at the raw power of nature.  Two words: Volcanic lightning!

Protest Like An Egyptian

Things are happening fast, and they are fluid.  We've all been watching Egypt (and Tunisia and Yemen) with great interest.  Here is an interesting piece on the region and what it might mean to walk protest like an Egyptian. Blurb:
The most telling aspect of the anti-regime demonstrations that have rocked the Arab world is what they are not about: They are not about the existential plight of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation; nor are they at least overtly anti-Western or even anti-American. The demonstrators have directed their ire against unemployment, tyranny, and the general lack of dignity and justice in their own societies. This constitutes a sea change in modern Middle Eastern history.
Hmmmm.  Oh, and here's some liveblogging on Egypt by the Atlantic and live coverage by the Telegraph.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Geek News: The International Year of Chemistry

Have fun, kids!  Here's a cool calendar to go with the year: a different bit of chemistry and science history everyday!

Nerd News: In Support of Charter Schools

Read this.  What do you think?  Here's a bit of it:
The fight for charter schools — to have more of them, to make them work better, and to give more children (and teachers and principals) the chance to participate in them — is one of the most important fronts in the struggle to build an America that can thrive in the 21st century. ... School choice will make our society more flexible and entrepreneurial — and the biggest immediate beneficiaries will be the poor and those who seek to serve and teach them in creative new ways.

The BiblioFiles: Nabokov and Butterflies


Nerd News: Free Speech on College Campuses

Free speech should not be a Constitutional right that you give up as soon as you set foot on your university campus.  Is your alma mater among these 12 campuses that squash free speech, be it with one of those obnoxious "campus speech codes" that I hate so much, or some other way?  Note that the only Ivy League school in this list of 12 nasties is ... Yale.  More from Insta-Prof.

Mapping History: New Perspectives on the Battle of Princeton

Via Princeton man Tigerhawk comes this cool link to a report about fresh perspectives of the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolution.  Cool!  Do recall the date of the battle -- January 3, 1777 -- and how it comes fast on the heels of Washington's daring gambit of crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776 to surprise the Hessians in Trenton.  Here's the map from the new research on Princeton and the Continental Army's victory.  I love me some battle maps.

Nerd News: JUST DO IT

Do it!  Resurrect the DC school voucher program!  DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN.  Let the unions howl if need be.  Forcing students to remain in failing schools is an outrage.

Awesome: Elephant Artist

Watch this elephant paint.  Be sure to watch it all the way to the end.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Just One Snarky Comment. Or Two.

I'll make one -- just one, I promise -- snarky comment about the SOTU speech last night.  SPUTNIK?  SPUTNIK?!   This morning even my students were poking fun at it, and they're Obamacolytes.  "It sounded like he was talking about potatoes the whole time.  Spuds, spuds, spuds."  Or even: "I didn't bother watching the speech.  Does that make me a bad American, hahaha."  When you've lost the pie-eyed undergrad dreamers, you're in trouble.

Cool Video of the Day: Time-Lapse Sydney

Gorgeous!  I'm too late for New Year's since I only found the video today, but I'm right on time for Australia Day.  Oh, and the fireworks are fabulous, but I found myself just fascinated by the brightly lit boats sailing all around the harbor.  I really *must* visit Australia sometime before I shuffle off this mortal coil!

Nerd Fun: Ah, Students in the Snow

This is hilarious.  And I would totally do this too if I were an undergrad!  Skiing + a couch = skouching!

Happy Australia Day!

G'day, mate!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MM in the Kitchen: Rice Porridge

OH YES.  So good on cold days and nights, not to mention comfort food and something soothing for days when you're under the weather.  I grew up on this stuff!  I always make it with leftover rice from dinner.  Make it with chicken stock instead of water if you can.  Add ginger.  Lots of it.  (A Filipino friend taught me to saute paper-thin slices of it in the pot before adding the rice and stock ... That girl was a genius, and this one little step adds a world of flavor.)  Top the finished porridge with veggies and meats and eggs and pork floss and seaweed and scallions and sesame oil and soy sauce and Chinese sausage and leftover duck and whatever else you want!

Nerd Journal: Best Accurate Weather Forecast

The weather lately here in Nerdworld has been utterly freezing and miserable.  Everybody's slogging around the slush and wind, with a motley assortment of bedraggled hats, gloves, scarves, mittens, boots, and heavy coats.  Ugh!  Then I stumbled across this random Tweet about the weather, and it made me laugh out loud.  Substitute "Nerdworld" for "New York," and it would be just perfect.  Slight language warning.

Political Fun: It's the SOTU Drinking Game

Heh!  Well, it might make the State of the Union speech tonight actually bearable.  Or not.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nerdworld Soundtrack: "Mamma Mia!"

I didn't think I was going to like "Mamma Mia!" but I was watching it tonight while I was proofreading a paper.  Maybe it's because the weather is freezing and I'm buried under Nerdpocalypse Now, but the little musical flick was like a playful, light-hearted mini-vacation.  Besides, looking at all that Greek sunshine (the movie was filmed on location) made me feel better ... and there's enough relentlessly bubbly ABBA pop to make you laugh.  So in honor of another night of research and writing, I give you a bit of the soundtrack sung by the flick's admittedly adorable star Amanda Seyfried:

Euro Notes: the Galileo Project

You would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh:
Here’s a delicious WikiLeak revelation. The Galileo project – an attempt to launch an EU satellite system that would, as Jacques Chirac put it, challenge the “technological imperialism” of America’s GPS – was described as “a stupid idea” and “a waste of taxpayers’ money” by the Chief Executive of the German company that was about to be awarded a €566 million contract to develop 14 satellites for, er, the Galileo project.

More Thoughts on the Amy Chua School of Parenting

Read one Chinese-American's take on the Amy Chua kerfuffle (my own takes are here and here).  Here's a notable bit of it too:
While I think some of what says makes some sense, I just can't go along to the extremes that she does.  Having high expectations, and trying to instill discipline and good work habits (homework first, then TV/play) strikes me as generally desirable.  No playdates, no roles in school plays, no choice in extracurriculars . . . .  I'd rather let my kids experiment a bit to see what they like, and then encourage them to work hard at what they choose.  True, this means my kids are not likely to become Olympic athletes/musical prodigies, but I'm not sure I'd want to be parenting on that assumption anyway. 
EDIT: I should add one potentially pernicious thing about Chua's article (and forthcoming book) is the idea that there's any one monolithic "Chinese"/Asian approach to parenting.  No doubt there are some basic elements that maybe common, like the emphasis on education.  But it would be a shame if non-Asians were to come away from this article thinking that this is the *only* way to raise kids in a Chinese way.

The HopeChange Chronicles: *Facepalm*

Life imitates satire once more.  (Via Professor Althouse and Patterico.)  My own response is to remind you of this.  UPDATE:  More here.  If the CCP bigwigs back in Beijing are amused by what this musician did, then perhaps they have pianist envy.  *rimshot*

UPDATE 2:  More from the Insta-Prof.

The Cinema-Mad Sibling Reviews: "The Green Hornet"

Green is the new black
Hornet sting is stylish, sharp
Wait no, it's Kato's.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The BiblioFiles: Morison's Landmark History of the US Navy in WWII

Samuel Eliot Morison's 15-volume work History of the United States Naval Operations in World War II is now being reissued! Put it on your to-read list, along with all of Morison's other books.  I especially liked Admiral of the Ocean Sea, his Pulitzer-winning biography of Columbus.  The amazing thing about Morison isn't the scope of his knowledge, though it is massive.  The amazing thing is how a good a writer he is.  Modern academic historians should take note!

Friday, January 21, 2011

LOL: The Tiger Mom Internet Meme

Inevitable ... but hilarious all the same after the entire Amy Chua kerfuffle.  (Via Neatorama.)  Here's an example:

Go look after the fold for something that hits closer to home!

Awesome: The Coolest Apron I've Ever Seen


Jon Stewart 1, Nazi Analogies 0

Do you remember how I said that in an argument, the first party to call the other one a Nazi automatically loses?  Watch Jon Stewart disassemble a Democratic politician from Tennessee who compared Republicans to ... well, you know.

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Friday Fun Video: Cat vs. Washing Machine

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quote of the Day: The State Dinner for Hu Jintao

Guess who's coming to dinner!  Here's the quote:
“The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner hosted a dinner for the guy holding the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner in prison … and the media does not get the irony of this at all.”
For the record, Dubya gave a lunch but not a formal state banquet for Hu.

Awesome: Biology Professor Brews Beer with 45-Million-Year-Old Yeast

Via Tigerhawk comes a great story about California Polytechnic State University biology professor Raul Cano enjoying the fruits of his labor (I love the accompanying news photo!).  Here's a blurb about his delicious research:
A Cal Poly professor’s mission to turn a 45-million-year-old yeast into an ingredient for a beer has proven successful — and now he hopes to grow his operation locally. 
Raul Cano, a Cal Poly biology professor, discovered the yeast in amber that came from Myanmar, which was previously known as Burma, while conducting research in the 1990s. 
Through brewing experiments with collaborators, Cano has been able to take strains of yeast from the ancient amber and grow them. And he was interested in finding out how it could be used in food or drinks. 
“Beer was the obvious product from an organism such as yeast,” Cano said. “It was either that or bread. But beer seemed more adventurous.” 
Fossil Fuels Brewing Co., the beer company that he’s formed with partners Chip Lambert, Joe Kelley and Scott Bonzell, now produces beer for sale primarily in Northern California bars and pubs.
Here's the link to Fossil Fuels Brewing Company!  I think we would all be justified in having a cold one, all in the name of academic research, of course!  Hmmmm, getting viable life out of amber ... Life imitates the movies once more, though I am sure beer is more delicious than velociraptors.  You know, all this talk about beer and biology inspires me to inflict the following on you ...

Nerd News: A Religious Discrimination Lawsuit at the University of Kentucky

The indispensable Insta-Prof has details and links, beginning with this. Oh, and the "nerds behaving badly" tag refers to the university, not the astronomer in question.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Schadenfreude/Cautionary Tale of the Day: Texting and Walking

The Cine-Sib, Hu Jintao, & Chinese Human Rights

The Cine-Sib sent me this headline with the pithy comment, "Ya think?"  Indeed.

Nerd News: An Epidemic of French Plagiarists

*Sigh.*  Plagiarism is such a lazy bit of evil too, a fact that makes the deed even worse.

Nerd News: Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Play Chess Against Hot Chicks

This is hilarious.  Way to go, Swedish researchers who figured out that guys find gorgeous babes distracting and so their chess game suffers because they're too busy gawking or whatever.  People actually got grant money for this?  OK, bonus points for giving their study a cool title: "Beauty Queens and Battling Knights: Risk Taking and Attractiveness in Chess."   Heh.  Well, the Russians seem to be good at this.

Nerd Journal: A Little Help for Hump Day

Ugh, it's only Wednesday!  Who else needs a little help getting over Hump Day?  Here in my neck of the woods,  it's just one ray of sunshine after another on campus, what with blustery snow everywhere, horrible cold, Nerdpocalypse Now, and undergrads running amok.  But enough whining.  Here's a little pick-me-up for all of us, complete with nerdy hero:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Cine-Sib's "Jonah Hex" Haiku Review


Satire Alert: Why Zombie Mothers Are Superior

I haven't really gotten into the whole "Hey, let's have a big Internet kerfuffle about Chinese moms!" because I frankly don't care.  I'd rather point you to a silly blog called High Expectations Asian Father and now to Dan Drezner's riff, "Why Zombie Mothers Are Superior."

Nerd News: 100 Reasons Not to Go to Graduate School

Apparently there is an actual blog called "100 Reasons Not to Go to Graduate School."   Uh-oh!  The latest post made me laugh in that "you laugh because it's true" kind of way.  The complete list (so far) makes for an interesting read, though of course you and I won't agree with that blogger on all points.  He should add, though, a reason that basically says "sometimes in grad school/academia you run into truly horrible human beings who will try to sabotage, degrade, and in all ways destroy you ... or stand aside and watch while others try."  Of course, you will run into some wonderful people too.  I've run into more wonderful individuals than total monsters, but I've been lucky!

Nerd News: Undergrads Not Learning Critical Thinking

Well, DUH.  Link via law prof Ann Althouse.
Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study...
UPDATE: I just got this related news story from one of my former undergrads.

Public Service Announcement: PDFZilla

The Cine-Sib just recommended this.  Check it out if you have to work often with different file formats.

Forgotten History: The Only Woman in the French Foreign Legion

And she was an Englishwoman to boot!  Here's remembering Susan Travers, known as "La Miss," who led a most colorful life indeed.  You go, girl.  (Note to self: Read her autobiography.)

Most Awesome Photo You'll See All Day: Comet + Fireworks + Lightning

Via NASA, here are 3 photos combined into a single panorama, and it is spectacular.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Movie Review: the Cine-Sib Reviews "Jonah Hex"

I had forgotten to post this before, but here it is.  Thus saith the Cinema-Mad Sibling about the movie adaptation of the steampunk comic book: 
"Jonah Hex" is a steaming pile of elephant dung.  Grade: F-
WOW.  An F-, no less.  I had teased him about seeing the flick just to see Megan Fox run around in a corset bustier.  (He said bustier.  My error, now corrected.)  Apparently even that wasn't enough.  Details of Cine-Sib disgust soon to follow.  "Jonah Hex" only got a rating of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes, as 123 of 142 movie critics hated it.  The utterly brutal reviews are undoubtedly more fun than the movie that they're shredding!

UPDATE 1:  Another bon mot from the Cine-Sib about the flick: "Its badness is like that of 'Constantine.'"  Oh, snap!  "Constantine" was horrible.  I asked if the Cine-Sib thought "Jonah Hex" was even worse than "Van Helsing," which he also hated and calls "Van Hel-stink."  He replied that "Van Hel-stink" was (marginally) better because Kate Beckinsale was in it. Heh.

UPDATE 2: Cine-Sib haiku is finally here!
What were they thinking
Comic movie epic fail
What was I thinking 
Malkovich villain
Will Arnett, freakin GOB ha!
Tom Wopat needs cash 
Nothing redeeming
Megan Fox act'ally not bad
Fast forward this flick 
Uwe Boll quality
Least Ben Kingsley not in it
Totally syfy 

Nerd News: Improve the Liberal Arts

Instead of defending them, let's improve them!  Or, at least, the teaching of them.  How about let's teach the humanities instead of making those classrooms seething pots of overcooked theory, ideological demagoguing, and social engineering?   Improve the quality of the product, and there will be more demand for it.  WELL, DUH ... I've said this for a while now. Great quote:
Defensiveness is not necessarily a healthy attitude to inhabit for a long period of time. Defensive people are often not very persuasive, because they’re afraid to entertain any critique of what they’re defending. When defense becomes automatic, it may close off inquiry and innovation.
Sure, but hidebound and self-righteous nerdocrat eggheads who can't talk to normal people are often their own worst enemies -- and the worst enemies of the liberal arts and humanities.   They turn people off, man.

Nerd Journal: The Nerd Lords Have Spoken

Here's an announcement, gentle readers.  My Nerd Lords have spoken.  More importantly, the Nerd Emperor -- aka Nerd Who Must Be Obeyed -- has issued his decree.  I must -- MUST -- finish my massive research-and-writing project by the end of this summer.  200+ pages, baby.  Failure is not an option.  Oh, boy.  I think I'm as terrified as I am excited.  So here is a new blog tag for all posts on this topic -- "Nerdpocalypse Now."  You can expect a slight decrease in the number of daily posts, but you can also expect a whole lot of blogging about the Nerdpocalypse Project.  You know, I'm almost glad to be given a hard deadline and what amounts to a Nerd Lord Ultimatum.  It's happened to most of my nerdy friends.  Besides, I've been playing around with research and whatnot for a while now, so it's probably time to Put Up Or Shut Up when it comes to nerd work.

Now the question is, do I have all the right moves?  Even if I don't, it's time to get them!  (The video by One Republic is fantastic, and there's a metaphor somewhere in there, amid all the masked dancers, about my life both online and off, don't you think?)

Monday Therapy: Clementines and Kitties

If this doesn't make you smile, then you're not human.  Even more here.

Orange tabby.

Movie Madness: Golden Globes Are a Collective Fashion FAIL

Last year was so bad that I didn't even bother with it this year.  (As usual, the fearless Nikke Finke live-blogged -- er, live-snarked the entire train wreck of a production.  She deserves hazard pay.)  I spared a few moments' attention just for the fashion, and that ended up being a total waste of time too.  Almost everybody looked awful.  I mean, seriously, now -- for as much money as these people throw around, you'd think they could get better stylists.  What is wrong with these celebrities?  Dress-by-dress takedown after the jump!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Movie Madness: "Battle: Los Angeles"

Dude.  Could this be the best over-the-top alien invasion action flick since 1996's awesome summer blockbuster "Independence Day"?  Here's hoping.  (And before you start complaining to me about how great 2009's "District 9" is -- mini-review here and here, I don't consider it a traditional blow-em-up fun popcorn action flick.)

MM in the Kitchen: Beef Stew with Beer, Garlic, and Paprika

My next new recipe to try!

Boo Freaking Hoo: MM Plays the Sympathy Violin for a Shameless Wi-Fi Leech

Geez, you have GOT to be kidding me.  I was going to rant mightily about this, but then I found that someone else already had.  In short: GET YOUR OWN DARN INTERNET ACCESS, YOU PARASITE. (And you bet your sweet QWERTY keyboard I won't let anybody mooch off my wireless Internet connection.  My bandwidth is my own ... because -- um, hello -- I pay for my access.)  Possibly the most shameful bit of it all: the Wi-Fi leech is an academic. More, she's rationalized herself into thinking that she's somehow entitled to other people's Internet access.  Shocker.  

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: The Tote Bag

I'm sorry, gentle reader, but here is the first Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the new year.  Behold!  You know, I've grown resigned to the fact that the infernal mouthless cartoon cat shows up on all sorts of clothes and accessories and bags and umbrellas and toasters and whatever else, but I *ABSOLUTELY* object to her claiming to be a nerd.  POSER!

Who let the cat out of  onto the bag?

Angels with Dirty Faces: Volunteers Down Under

In the aftermath of the catastrophic floods near Brisbane (see these incredible photographs taken from the air) comes an army of volunteers to clean up.  (It rather reminds me of the angeli del fango, the "angels of mud" who volunteered to clean up Florence after its 1966 flood disaster.)  Link via Ninme, and kudos to those Aussies:
It was the day an army of big-hearted volunteers shouldering brooms, mops and shovels began digging and sweeping Brisbane out of the mud. 
In a remarkable display of community spirit, more than 20,000 signed on for duty, ready to bend their backs to help fellow residents reclaim their homes and waterlogged possessions from the stinking sludge left behind by the worst floods in a generation. 
Politicians, pensioners, university students, garbos, chippies, teenagers, mums and dads from all walks of life joined forces in the street-by-street clean-up. They brought their own tools and an inexhaustible supply of goodwill. 
Some volunteers even came from interstate to help, hopping on the first available planes after watching the drama unfold during the past week ... Thousands more "unofficial" volunteers have simply materialised to help friends and strangers as Brisbane and Ipswich residents try to get back on their feet.

The Fashionistas of Cheyenne Mountain

Ever wonder what missileers wear?  Read the whole thing.  I would be remiss, though, if I did not give you this delightful patch:

Euro Notes: EU Plans Arms Sales to Beijing

Daniel Hannan has a few piquant observations.

Silence in the Library: Best Protest Ever?


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Language LOL: the "Shatner Comma"

Brilliant.  I still love my Oxford comma, though!

The Australian Floods: A Photo

Via Ninme's Tumblr comes this striking image of a stranded wallaby -- one more victim of the devastating floods Down Under.

Historical Nerd News: A Forgettable College Application Essay

Read this high school student's essay for his application to Harvard.  Are you impressed?  Should you be impressed?  It's a totally boring, banal essay:
The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a "harvard man" is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.
You might be amused, though, to know who wrote it.

Danish Darlings: Meet Denmark's Newest Royals

Awwwwwwwww!  Twins!  Gorgeous mom Princess Mary and proud papa Crown Prince Frederik show off the new additions to the family.  Congratulations!

Food Fight! Best and Worst Cooking Shows

For Count Chocula, here is a list of the worst cooking shows in recent memory.  After you're done cursing out people like Sandra Lee (and her Kwanzaa cake desecration), you can be grateful for the best shows.  I have to say that the Food Network has been a significant source of both the best and worst, with cooks both lovable and loathsome.  If you're looking for my favorite cooking show, look no farther than Alton Brown's "Good Eats."  More cooking fun after the fold!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Iceland Wants To Be Your Friend

No, really!  The actual URL actually is ! It's part of a tourism campaign (via Presurfer).  Look, this is how the thing starts:
Hall√≥, my name is Iceland. 
I am an island, full of mountains and glaciers and hot water and sheep and other things. And also many nice Icelandic people, who like to make music, and who are sometimes cold. 
(Maybe you have seen me on your tele-vision, or your Inter-nets.) 
I have heard that many people use the Inter-nets to make friends, and to talk about themselves. So that is what I want to do, too.
Awwwww.  How cute!

Friday Fun Video: Winter in the Netherlands

Via Presurfer comes this charming video filmed on ice skates:

Happy Hour for Japanese Scientists

Booze + superconductors = Great Moments in Research!   Talk about happy hour!  You can even read those Japanese scientists' paper.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Awesome: "3 Minutes"

Via Neatorama comes Ross Ching's video adaptation of "The Most Dangerous Game," that unforgettable short story by Richard Connell (if you've never read it, read it now).  Bonus: Harry Shum, Jr. of "Glee."

Geek News: Hackinoodle?

This is actually something that a geek buddy of mine is going to attempt: turning a Nook Color into a Kindle!  He and I are now trying to come up with a mishmash of a name for it!    So far he suggested "Kook" or "Nindle."  I still think my "Hackinoodle" is better.  Suggestions?

Movie Review: The Cine-Sib and MM Take On "Tron" and "Tron: Legacy"

I had initially reviewed "Tron: Legacy" here.  I had gone to see it opening weekend without the Cine-Sib, but over the holidays he really wanted to see it, so I went with him.  There was one big difference the second time around: he and I went to see it in 3D IMAX on a proper (i.e., 70-foot-high) IMAX movie screen (not a fake IMAX -- as the Cine-Sib and I call it, a "faux-MAX").  I liked the flick a lot better on the massive screen since then it really was the triumph of style over substance, but I'm thinking that I liked it better too for the company -- the Cine-Sib and our friends!  I'll give it a C+ the second time around while knowing full well this is a function of the IMAX.  Anyway, on to the Cinema-Mad Sibling's review!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

East Coast Blizzard "Weather Bomb" = Travel Hell

Dude.  The media is calling it a "weather bomb."  Thousands of flights have been canceled.  Snowpocalypse II?  Will we get more thundersnow?  Here's a reminder of what that looked like:

At least Cory Booker, the hero of the previous Snowpocalypse, is on the job. Check out his Twitter page -- he's all about this new blizzard.

"The Blood of Patriots": Jon Stewart on Tucson

Watch this.  All of this.  Especially after this.  Thank you, Jon.  The established media and political punditocracy lose their senses, and the only sensible, insightful man in the room is a comedian who takes a serious turn.

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"National Clean Off Your Desk Day"

I confess that I had no idea.  And I don't really use my desk to do more than store books (and occasional laundry).  I should have a "Clean Off Your Coffee Table" Day.  Of course, this is the perfect excuse to get these hilarious file folders ... all in the name of efficiency and better organization, natch.

North Korea: Anti-Government Graffiti

Dignified Rant points to an interesting bit by Strategypage about anti-government sentiment in the workers' paradise of North Korea:
The anti-government graffiti and jokes are out of control in the north. The problem is that it's no longer cool to tell the secret police about who is doing this stuff. This is a fundamental shift in the north.
Graffiti, eh?  It reminds me of this great post by Chicago Boyz, "Tagging for Freedom."   Psychological operations shouldn't be underestimated.  

Quote of the Day: In the Aftermath of Tucson

This sums up the excesses of both Right and Left in their response to the Tucson shooting:
How do you take one of the most shocking and revolting murder sprees in memory and make it even more disturbing? By immediately pouncing on its supposed root causes for the most transparently partisan of gains.
Read also this and this.  At least the public doesn't seem to buying the crazy media spin, which has been -- let's be honest -- pretty bad.  OK, really bad, as in Paul Krugman bad (via Insta-Prof).

UPDATE:  Watch this.

Life and Art: A Live Exhibit at the National Gallery

I wish I could go and see this:

Ars longa, vita brevis.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Most Awesome Video You'll See All Day: ShapeShifter

Take a look at this amazing short film by Charlex.  Do be sure to watch fullscreen and HD.

Great Moments in Research: Eating Carrots Makes You More Attractive

Thus saith a new British study, apparently.  In the news report, though, there is one sentence that made me laugh out loud.  Here, let me highlight the bit for you:
Researchers at St Andrews and Bristol universities studied the relationship between skin colour and attractiveness, and found people with a yellow skin hue were perceived as particularly healthy and attractive ...
This must explain the secret of my social success!  If I were a grievance-monger, I'd probably accuse carrots and the study of being raaaaaaaaaaaacist, hahahaha!

Winter Monday Therapy: Don't Forget Your Hat

In honor of my feline friends Munchkin, Stanley, and Betty, I give you this. Watch.  It.  Now.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Couch Potato Chronicles: "The Cape"

The series premiere tonight of NBC's "The Cape" had its ups and downs, but it was enough to get me to decide that I would watch the next episode.  In the meanwhile, read this.  By the way, I had never before seen lead actor David Lyons.  "Who is that dreamboat?" I asked the Cine-Sib, who rolled his eyes (or would have, if they hadn't been glued to co-star Summer Glau).  "Well," I said, "whoever he is, I bet he's from Australia."  After the show was over, I went to IMDb, and lo and behold, he's a native of Melbourne.  Aw, yeah!   

OK, all that aside, give "The Cape" a chance.  It's got the potential to be a good show; let's see what happens.  Still, the presence of Summer Glau likely means that the show is (a) decent and (b) doomed to cancellation if "Firefly" and "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" are harbingers.  Then again, third time's the charm?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Virtual Reality and San Giovanni in Laterano

You can now visit the gorgeous Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome from the comfort of your own computer.  (Via Presurfer)  The basilica is ancient and beautiful, with a colorful history, and I've had the great good fortune of visiting it in person ... though I must confess that I still love San Pietro more: it houses Michelangelo's Pieta!

Nerd News: Too Many PhDs and Professionals?

Here you go, right from the Nerd Times itself -- the Chronicle of Higher Education.  I've linked to Professor Richard Vedder's observations on academia before.  Note my new blog category tag: "we're totally screwed."

Quote of the Day: China and Its Neighbors

For over 60 years, China has accused the West, particularly the United States, of surrounding China with a web of allies, united in a desire to keep China weak. Now China grows stronger, and China is, as they characterize it, pushing back. That is making the anti-Chinese alliance a reality, where it wasn't before.
Put yourself in the shoes of South Korea or Japan.

The Most Awesome Photo You'll See All Day

Take a look at this amazing image that includes the sun, the shadow of the moon, and the silhouette of the International Space Station.  Wow!

Friday Fun Video: Aflockcalypse Now!

News stories about dead birds + Taiwanese news animators = this.  Nice shout-out too to "Angry Birds"!  These satirical cartoonists are inspired!

Nerd Notes: Thoughts on Foreign Languages


Nerd News: Psychology Journal to Publish ESP "Experiment Results"

Aaaaaand you don't need psychic powers to know that a gazillion scientists are responding to this with *facepalm.*  OK, so you can argue that the publication is part of academic freedom (just like freedom of speech and expression in general, academic freedom is good as an ideal but also because it soon lets you know who all the loons and crackpots are), but I'm more inclined to agree with this:
“It’s craziness, pure craziness. I can’t believe a major journal is allowing this work in,” Ray Hyman, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and longtime critic of ESP research, said. “I think it’s just an embarrassment for the entire field.”
As the news article does point out, "So far, at least three efforts to replicate the experiments have failed."   Hmmmmm.  If you cannot replicate an experiment, then your results are inherently suspect.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Satire Alert: Iowahawk's Advice for Newly Unemployed Members of the 111th Congress

As usual, Iowahawk provides pure satirical comedy gold.

Satire Alert: The Onion vs. Huck Finn Censorship

On the heels of this and this comes the Onion's short but hilarious response.

Nerd News: In Defense of Twain, Huck Finn, and Using Your Brain

Via Tigerhawk, see what Georgetown's Professor Christopher Chambers has to say about the latest mangling of Huckleberry Finn (a topic I had ranted about here), education, political correctness, and on the excesses of both Left and Right.  Kudos, sir!  What I would love to see is a debate between Professor Chambers and the man behind the new bowdlerization of Huck Finn, Professor Alan Gribben of Auburn University.  For now, though, see this bit of nerdy awesomeness.  

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Stand Up Straight!

Well, it looks like our moms were right when they kept nagging us to stand up straight and have better posture and not to slouch.  See this recent article from Scientific American!  I think we all kind of already knew this, though, right?  (Remember how I told you that I wear towering high heels to Nerdmoots?)  Besides, let's be practical here: it's hard to kick butt if you're slouching.

Now, a new track for the Nerdworld Soundtrack -- a bit of Irishman Val Doonican:

Walk tall, walk straight, and look the world right in the eye.

Child's Play: 10-Year-Old Discovers Supernova

You go, girl!

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Oh, I'm just playing with that famous quip about stats.  Messing with data is actually pretty fascinating, especially if you find a statistician who is both enthusiastic and fun, such as Swedish-born Professor Hans Rosling.  Here is a cool video about the field of stats.  Cine-Sib, this one's for you, since we all know how much you love number-crunching!

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable. -- Mark Twain

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Heh.  If, as the old joke goes, there are only two parties in American politics (the Stupid Party and the Evil Party), then I must side with the Evil!  I still think we should cheerfully offer these pie-eyed idealistic Marxist idiots a field trip to the proletariat workers' paradise of Cuba or North Korea ... and leave them there.

Bowdlerizing Twain's "Huckleberry Finn"

*Sigh.*  The trouble is that the self-righteous, mealymouthed do-gooders behind this understand very little about history, literature, or education -- and possibly all three.  Read this response.  See also this comment that refers to the end of Chapter 15 of the book, in which Huck regrets playing a mean trick on Jim and states that he never did so again, even while stating too that he would never have done what he did if he knew it would cause Jim so much grief.  It is a powerful rejection of racism and human cruelty, though you'd never know it if you read the bowdlerizers.  In fact, the entire book is a repudiation of racism.

Of course, bowdlerization is a old sin against literature -- but it is still a sin.  If you can't handle the literature as it was written, then you should go away and read something else instead of trying to reshape the original text to fit your personal desires.  This is all of a piece with the habit of certain people to refuse to look at reality as it is (and was), and this most frequently appears in approaches to history and literature (between which an essential and vibrant nexus does exist).  Add also the pernicious idea that nobody must ever be even in the least bit uncomfortable in school about anything.  Sheer foolishness, really, because sometimes you should be discomfited if you're doing education right.  Anyway, I imagine Mark Twain, himself a colorful character, would have some choice words for the current manglers of his work. 

UPDATE: More here, along with still more proof that nothing is so wrongheaded that a New York Times columnist won't support it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Awesome Geek News: The Discovery of 4 New Exoplanets

By an astronomy-loving amateur enthusiast!  Congratulations and well done, Peter Jawoliczor, a gas worker from South Yorkshire, England.

Tweeting Salman Taseer

Read this.  Ave atque vale to Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan's Punjab province and an outspoken critic of religious violence and Islamic extremism.

The Art of the Venn Diagram

This is the most fun you'll have with Venn diagrams all day, I promise.  Bonus: poking fun at the TSA.

Nerd News: Renting College Textbooks?

Well, books are expensive.

We Have Met the Enemy ... And They Are Delicious

Now here is a kind of sustainability effort I can support.  There really is room for all God's creatures ... next to the mashed potatoes!  More on the yumminess of the invasive lionfish. Deer and rabbits are yummy too, and those things are pests.  I wonder if Canada geese, which have got to rank among the peskiest of pests, are yummy too?  

Nerd News: A Warning From the American Bar Association

What's the warning?  Think twice before going to law school.  The costs are astronomical and may well crush you with debt forever.  Here is the ABA's document on the subject.  On a personal note, I've heard the same thing from a friend of mine, a recent law school grad who had harrowing stories  to tell.

Geek Fun: Top 10 Dumbest Tech Predictions


Monday, January 03, 2011

MM in the Kitchen: Honey Lavender Madeleines

Perfect with your afternoon cup of tea or coffee!

Awesome Nerd Fun: the 50th Anniversary of Caltech's Epic Prank

Utterly magnificent.

What Fresh Hell Is This? European Nations Going After Private Pensions

The horror, the horror!  I'm not surprised, though.  

Snark-worthy Headline of the Day

I leave it to you to make your own snarky responses to this headline about real estate values.

Nerd Fun with Geography: the US and Europe

Via Rachel Lucas, this delightful map-on-a-map.  We've all known that Europe can fit inside the US in terms of land mass, but seeing it is something else entirely.  France and Spain really are about the size of Texas!  The UK is about the size of California.  Etc.!  Click on the red dot in the map and move the continents around.  Have fun!

Monday Therapy: Commuting Can Be Murder

Here's a thought, gentle reader ... No matter how bad your commute is, it can't be as terrifying as this, right?  Cybermen, Sontarans, and Daleks in the London Underground, oh, my!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

History: 400 Years of the King James Bible

1611 saw the completion of the King James Bible, one of the greatest literary translations ever, as both Daniel Hannan and Brits at Their Best point out.  You certainly don't have to be a Christian to appreciate the beauty of the language, and if it rather reminds you of Shakespeare, it should -- the Bard, arguably the most talented practitioner of late Elizabethan and Jacobean English, died in 1616, five little years after the completion of the King James Bible (now online).

Happy Belated Blogiversary to Meeeeee

MM Blog launched here on New Year's Day 2008.  Here's to some hilarious years of Internet mayhem!

Freedom and the Greek Inheritance

Here are some interesting thoughts from French philosopher Andre Gluckmann.