Saturday, May 28, 2011

HopeChange Chronicles: Bibi's Beatdown and Its Aftermath

I'll say this: the ripples of Netanyahu's visit to the US are still surging everywhere.  I haven't seen so much interest in either the event or its context in a long, long time. On a personal note, it's even gotten people interested who usually don't pay attention to foreign policy in general or the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular.  The Cine-Sib isn't a foreign policy nut like me (he's a normal happy well-adjusted person, see), but over the last few days he in all seriousness asked me about the Six Day War and its aftermath.  I've been giving him mini-lectures on Israeli history.  Then yesterday I spent half an hour with him as we looked at a map of Israel, its various borders over time, and its surroundings.  It was fun -- but kind of odd, as he and I are usually laughing about video games and movies, not having a serious discussion about geography and Israeli security ("What's this 9-miles-wide thing that everybody keeps talking about...?").  "Indefensibility" is just a word until you see actual topographical features on a map?

So onto another related matter: OK, so I'm getting two wildly variant reports of the aftermath of Netanyahu's speech among Israelis.  The New York Times reports that a wagonload of people hated it.  This op-ed in the Jerusalem Post refers a poll that showed that his approval rating soared over 10 percentage points.  Hmmm.

Actually, that op-ed about Bibi's triumphantly Churchillian speech is worth a look in its entirety.

On a similar note, this analysis by William Russell Mead is a firecracker in its own right.  It also gives us our quote of the day about Obama's foreign policy, which I quote at length after the jump:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Fun Video: The Physics of "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic"

Absolutely hilarious and clever in that nerdy/geeky kind of way!  You'll never look at the children's cartoon show in the same way again.

Quote of the Day: Obama's Israel Policy

Charles Krauthammer is not happy:
The only remaining question is whether this perverse and ultimately self-defeating policy is born of genuine antipathy toward Israel or of the arrogance of a blundering amateur who refuses to see that he is undermining not just peace but the very possibility of negotiations.
Ouch.  Then again, Krauthammer's options may not be mutually exclusive.  In other news, it seems that everybody hates Obama's Israel "policy."  Well, hey, on the up side, he did manage to unite all sorts of disparate folks!  Rock on!

Nerd News: Academic Freedom? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Read this summary of a current campus controversy at the University of California at San Diego (my emphasis in boldface):
When two faculty members disagree about issues related to research, is it right for an administrator to intervene? 
A faculty committee at the University of California at San Diego examined that question in a report this week that finds that a dean responded to a dispute between two professors by telling one not to publish or speak out about the other's research. And that order, the committee concluded, violated basic principles of academic freedom. 
"Faculty members’ rights to study, re-analyze, and publish controversial scholarly materials cannot be abridged," says the report from the UCSD Committee on Academic Freedom. "These rights to academic freedom cannot be administratively revoked to prevent possible future breaching of professional norms. In our view, the campus administration’s fundamental responsibility is precisely to protect the right of faculty members to research and publish scholarly work even when others, on or off campus, find the work or its conclusions controversial or objectionable."
Well, DUH.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Awesome Art: Pencil Vs. Camera

Take a look!

Epic Speech Not So Epic At Home?

Bibi wowed his American friends.  His Israeli constituents, not so much?

Great Moments in Research: Exploring How Dogs & Cats Drink

No, really.  As the Cine-Sib sarcastically responded, "And how much money did they spend on that?"  Next up: How dogs play poker.

Nerd Notes: At Commencement, Are You an Athenian or a Visigoth?

Here's fascinating, though undelivered, commencement address.  Link via Stones Cry Out.

Obama Addresses Parliament

So how was the speech?  One British critic opines: 
"... a series of orotund banalities, of the sort which can be heard at every tedious Anglo-American conference: 'Profound challenges stretch out before us ... the time for our leadership is now ... Our alliance will remain indispensable.'"  
Basically?  That's code for "yadda yadda yadda."  Ouch.  Well, I've gotten used to such glittery hollow nonsenses.  I prefer a real speech by a real statesman, thanks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Awesome Nerd News: University of Chicago's Amazing Mansueto Library


Nerd News: College Majors/Degrees and Employment Prospects

Hmmmm.  Recall this?  That major in women's studies is going to get you nowhere fast in a rocket sled, baby.

Couch Potato Chronicles: "Supernatural" and "Buffy" in Season 6

Last week my guilty pleasure of a TV show, "Supernatural," finished its season with a bang! La Parisienne and I had a fabulous time watching it together.  (Come on: Castiel + Balthazar + Crowley + Bobby = automatic awesome, along with very quotable quips along the way.)  Besides, the season-ending cliffhanger was really good.  I didn't see it coming, for one thing -- I thought something else was going to go down.  Well played, Sera Gamble.  I was going to write up a full episode review, but then I found an interesting little review comparing "Supernatural" season 6 with "Buffy" season 6.  Do read!  Spoilers.

Quote of the Day: Assessing Jimmy Carter

Princeton man TigerHawk doesn't mince words.  As I recently said, in Carter's case, age does not bring wisdom.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Score at the Buzzer: Netanyahu 4, Obama 1?

Heh. Well, Netanyahu's speech to Congress was pretty much a slam dunk.  (Yes, yes, I know we're all really on the same side, so this isn't about ultimate winners and losers -- just a conceit about public relations and diplomacy, mmmmmkay?)

UPDATE 1:  Make that Bibi 5, Obama 1 -- and that 1 is debatable because it was kind of an ambush, which in my book doesn't really count because it's a ... well, let's just say it ... a cheap shot.  It also turned out to be a momentary and Pyrrhic victory.

UPDATE 2: Bibi 6, Obama 1.

Netanyahu Addresses Congress

After the previous fireworks, I simply have to watch this speech live.  Sorry, Nerd Lords, no research for an hour at least.  CNN's talking heads are being as obnoxious as ever, but I'm not really here for them.  Goodness, I haven't been this interested in a major policy speech since ... well, forever.  Bonus: Netanyahu's a great speaker.  

Heck with it: I'm liveblogging.

AFTER-SPEECH UPDATE:  In a nutshell?  Epic speech was epic.  Transcript as released by Netanyahu on his Facebook page.  Full video of the speech here.  My liveblogging is after the fold.  Oh, heck.  Let's just embed the video:

Satire Alert: Iowahawk 1, Bernard-Henri Lévy 0

I haven't posted about the sordid morass that is the Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrest and its fallout, but I simply have to point out first this defense of Strauss-Kahn by his French philosopher friend Bernard-Henri Lévy.  Read that first and then read this hilarious evisceration by the glorious Iowahawk.

UPDATE: Lévy is back for more!

Awesome: Beautiful Bonsai

Truly tree-mendous!

Nerd Analysis: Why University Presidents Are Clueless About the Real World

An econ professor explains.  Come on, how many edu-crats and bureaucrats have a clue?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Free Advice: Please Shut Up and Go Away

Perhaps this guy is a glutton for punishment?  What, haven't you had enough national (and ecumenical) mockery about May 21 and Apocalypse Not?   Come on -- you survived the day, so now get the t-shirt!

Nerd News: the Dissertation Prospectus

A glimpse into the horror!

Nerd News: Political Grading Study

Here's the link, but the reader comments are more interesting.  The "study" sounds like utter nonsense to me.  I'm glad to see that other nerds think so too.  It would have made more sense to have the two groups of professors grade the same assignments by the same students and then look at the results ... but I really think the basic assumption (that professors assign grades based on their personal political views) is deeply flawed.  

MM in the Kitchen: Mini Noms for Parties

It's graduation season!  It's also summer "hang out with your friends" season.  So!  In case you need some ideas for party food, here are some great, yummy, easy ideas for little nibbles.

Disgustingly Cute Monday Therapy: Clouded Leopard Babies

There's frolicking afoot at the Nashville Zoo in this video from May 19:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nerd Notes: Time to Get Rid of Affirmative Action?

Hmmmm. Well, yeah.  One of my recent campus memories is a white male telling me, with perfect seriousness and sincerity, that in the minorities/diversity game, "Asians don't count."

Circular Firing Squad: Cornel West, Obama, and Identity Politics

See this and this.  Ah, identity politics taken to its logical, extreme, absurd end.  Recall this.  I can hope that in the near future, everybody wakes up and realizes that identity politics is ultimately a dead end.  In the meanwhile, though, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the show.  If race-baiting comes home to roost, it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.

Kissinger on Taiwan

Here's a bit from a recent interview with Henry Kissinger:
Inevitably—at least from my point of view—this raises the subject of Taiwan. On the matter of arms sales to the island, Mr. Kissinger says he isn't opposed to them per se, but that "over an extended period of time it will lead to a confrontation." So what, in the long term, is Taiwan's fate? Mr. Kissinger suggests negotiations with the mainland "in which the de facto autonomy of Taiwan is preserved." On the model of Hong Kong? "Certainly beyond the Hong Kong pattern," he says.
Well, that's just freaking fantastic.  How many times have I said that my family and I specifically do NOT want to be a second Hong Kong?  Anyway, whatever the shenanigans in Taiwan itself about self-defense and whatnot, we can't have the US willing to throw the whole island under the bus in order to cozy up to Beijing.  But I would not be in the least surprised if this hapless, clueless White House did just that.  Oh, and check this out too.

Awesome Photographic Eye Candy

On earth and in the heavens.  Enjoy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gene Simmons on Obama's Foreign Policy: "No Idea What the World Is Like"

Rock star Gene Simmons has something to say!  Hilarious and yet pretty much on target.  The bit at the end made me laugh out loud.  He does misspeak and call Netanyahu "president" when he is actually Prime Minister, but whatevs.  Bonus: Quotable comment on the UN: "garbage-infested."

Satire Alert: Apocalypse Not

In response to today's non-Rapture, from Skippy's List:

History Lesson: Israel, Security, and Reality

Check out Netanyahu's lecture.  Wow.  He's giving a lecture in general, but he's also lecturing to Obama in particular.  Well, it looks like somebody just got schooled.  And deservedly so.  Some details here, including photos that speak for themselves in terms of body language alone.  (No, I'm not going to heap blame on Netanyahu, given the shenanigans that Obama's Middle East foreign policy pratfalls have committed, not to mention his previous ham-fisted approach to a very important alliance and even Netanyahu in particular.) 

And for goodness sake, if you're a bit fuzzy on the fuss about pre- and post-1967 lines and Israel, read this immediately.  Some more here.

Transcript sort of.  An additional thought.

UPDATE: See this archival footage from 1978:

Soundtrack For Rapture/Apocalypse/Insert-Disaster-Here Day!

Here you go, just in case you haven't had enough entertainment making fun of this whole mess either here or on Facebook.  La Parisienne, Alessandra, and California Dreamer, this one's for you lovelies!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Fun Video: Baseball During Rain Delay

During a recent game between Clemson and Davidson, rain delayed the athletic action, so both teams entertained the crowd by other means!  Kudos!  Great senses of humor and fantastic creativity all around from these multi-talented guys.  (Arguably, the antics are even more entertaining than the baseball!) 

PSA: Fruitcakes On Parade

*facepalm.*  By "fruitcakes" I mean the people claiming that the end of the world is tomorrow (I can't do it then, actually -- I'm all booked up already with laundry and grocery shopping and baking cookies with friends.  How about rescheduling for next Tuesday?  /snark).  Need I remind you:  Please do not judge any creed by its fruitcakes.  Fruitcakes have been predicting the exact timing of the end of the world for millennia.  Note to the fruitcakes: please leave my religion; you make my religion look stupid.  Or at least shut your trap.  As the inimitable Mark Twain did say so astutely, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."  Ugh.  

And for those of you who might be thinking that I'm mean for calling these people out for their wacky predictions: I call things as I see them.  I might be mean, but I do try to be honest.  A fruitcake is a fruitcake is a fruitcake; I don't care what creed that fruitcake happens to be or even if it claims to be a co-religionist.  It's a FRUITCAKE!


Oh, and if the end of the world does occur tomorrow, then I shall eat crow and happily post a retraction, mmmmkay?  Snark-tastic!

UPDATE:  I rather like this playful commentary about the end of the world:
But it would have to be organized for a Saturday, wouldn’t it?  Saturdays are sort of Universal Days Off.  It would make marketing it a lot easier if Harold Camping could crunch the biblical numbers one more time and come up with an apocalypse that coincides with the start of the week, don’t you think?  I don’t know about you, but there have been many Monday mornings when I’ve prayed for the end of the world.  Saturdays, not so much.  On Saturdays, I like to go to the beach.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Geek News: Aussie Robots Invent Own Language

Cool expression of artificial intelligence from the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology... as we get one step closer to robot apocalypse or something.  I for one welcome our new robot overlords!

Wandering Worlds: Astronomy's Vagrants

Check this out!

Nerd News: A Test for 8th-Graders From 1931

Are you smarter than a 5th  8th grader?

Taiwanese Speech Contest

Here's a link from the Sibling: take a listen to what Taiwanese sounds like.  In related news, the Cine-Sib and I basically throw up our hands.  His guy speaks Taiwanese better than we do.  I give up.  Well, then again, he's living in Taiwan and has much more (a) exposure to it, and (b) opportunity to use those mad language skillz. Props, though! What a great job!

Free Advice: If Your Foreign Policy Advisers are Tom Friedman & Fareed Zakaria, You're Screwed

That is all.  Why not ask the opinion also of people like Fouad Ajami and Bernard Lewis?  Note too how the sardonic writer points out Friedman's rampant, embarrassing, and morally bankrupt Sinomania:
Tom’s lens for seeing contemporary America is through contemporary China. He wishes America were China, almost the way some native fascists like Charles Lindbergh wanted America to be like Germany and the way ignorant but “idealistic” oodles of American intellectuals and radical Jewish immigrants wanted the country to be like Soviet Russia. The Chinese can do everything. America can do nothing.
Remember this?

Euro Notes: the End of Passport-Free Travel?

Hmmmmm.  Watch the return of national passport controls.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paper Tigers? Thoughts on Being Asian American

Here is an interesting read (link via Eric's Learning Curve).

Awesome: The Student and the Robotic Exoskeleton at Graduation

Go here now.  RIGHT NOW.

Age Does Not Always Bring Wisdom

I've ranted before about the shenanigans of Jimmy Carter, most recently in North Korea.  I am glad to see that he's not getting much love at the State Department.  Hillary and I actually agree on something!

Quote of the Day: the Idiocy of Some Intellectuals

British physician Theodore Dalrymple sums up one part of our current so-called intelligentsia's trouble:
The avoidance of the obvious is an occupational hazard for intellectuals, because the obvious threatens them with redundancy. One might have thought that it was perfectly obvious that there were deep psychological currents in suicide bombing, and equally obvious that there us widespread greed and incontinence during epidemics of speculative behaviour. Therefore it is only natural that intellectuals should be found who would argue precisely the opposite, that deep motives are in fact shallow and shallow ones deep.     
It's positively Orwellian. Look, there is nothing so obvious that an "intellectual" won't utterly misunderstand it, and there is nothing so stupid that an "intellectual" won't believe it.  There is practically nothing so pernicious that a self-proclaimed elite won't espouse it in the effort to separate himself from those whom he (or she) considers to be the great unwashed masses. Now wasn't I just saying that the ostensible leadership class right now is utterly useless?  There is, of course, also this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DIY: Floating Invisible Bookshelf


Edu-Punktastic Nerd News: Khan Academy

Autodidacts, rejoice!  Currently the lessons are mostly on math and science ... but, oh how fun! Their stated goal is to create the world's first completely free virtual school.

Now I can't help myself.  I simply must imagine this exchange:
Q: Where do you go to school? 
A: Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

Quirky Asia Files: Exploding Chinese Watermelons

To absolutely nobody's surprise, the phrase "overdoses of growth chemicals" is involved.  Haven't I told you never to buy or eat food products from China?  I must say, though, I'm tickled by this take on it: "whistle-blowing watermelons."

A Law Prof's Perspective: International Law and the Legality of Killing Bin Laden

Via law prof Instapundit, here's something worth a read, written by Yale School of Law prof Jed Rubenfeld.  RELATED POST: Another legal eagle's thoughts.

Leadership Fail on a Massive Scale

Pretty much, yeah.  You know, our self-proclaimed elites would be a good deal less obnoxious if they weren't constantly shrieking about their own "superiority" and demonizing everybody they don't like.  It's a morally rotten arrogance that purports to lead free-thinking citizens when it really wants to dictate terms to cowed and compliant sheep.  On a related note, I've said before that our current political class is a miserable lot of scoundrels and fools.

Quote of the Day: On Navy SEALS

"They could kill you with a straw 13 different ways, but they're really nice."
Aren't you glad that they're the good guys?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trials and Triumphs in a 4-Minute-Long Epic

This is one epic ad!  Called "Chrysalis," it's from 2008.  Wow.  It is, though, not immediately obvious just what product the ad is promoting.  You have to stick around until the end!

Awesome: Mike Rowe Testifies to the Senate on Skilled Labor

Mike Rowe, the sunny host of the excellent Discovery Channel show "Dirty Jobs," has probably single-handedly raised national awareness about hard work, those who do it, and their value to society as a whole.  Check out his recent testimony to the Senate about skilled labor.  Random thought: Rowe just doesn't look like himself in that suit!  Oh, but do take a look at what he has to say.  Here's a nice blurb:
In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We've elevated the importance of "higher education" to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled "alternative." Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as "vocational consolation prizes," best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of "shovel ready" jobs for a society that doesn't encourage people to pick up a shovel. 
In a hundred different ways, we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a "good job" into something that no longer looks like work. A few years from now, an hour with a good plumber -- if you can find one -- is going to cost more than an hour with a good psychiatrist. At which point we'll all be in need of both.
It's the flip side of the overselling of "higher ed."  I can tell you for a fact that we could do with more skilled plumbers, electricians, and other skilled laborers than another graduation season's worth of largely useless sociology/women's studies/religion/philosophy majors who come out of school with utterly crushing amounts of debt and very bad job prospects.  And that's the cold hard truth.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Movie Review: "Thor"

Thunder from Down Under.

The 2011 summer movie season kicks off with color, action, spectacle, and humor as the buff, boisterous, blond Norse god of thunder with his trusty magic hammer Mjölnir storms onto movie screens all across America.  It's a hilariously humorous combination of Shakespearean credentials and comic book action, as Kenneth Branagh (yes, you read that right) directs and Sir Anthony Hopkins takes a supporting role in a tale of, among other things, brothers in competition and father-son conflict on a truly epic scale that still has enough personal human drama to catch your interest in the characters.  I had given "Thor" my stamp of approval briefly here, but I just promised the Cinema-Mad Sibling a real (if quick) review, so here goes.  Note: You don't really need to be familiar with either Norse mythology or the comic book in order to enjoy this colorful popcorn flick, so no worries.

WTTPWS: The Glories of Pork Floss

I haven't done a WTTPWS ("Welcome to the Party, Western Slowpokes") in a while, so it's high time for another entry.  This time it's a food blog going all fanboy for pork floss.  Welcome to the party, people: the Cine-Sib and I grew up on this stuff!  Pork floss + rice porridge = absolutely awesome breakfast.

Nerd News: "Reading Aquinas in Latin on horseback"


Nerdpocalypse Now: Decorating the Laptop For It

What do you think about this?  I've got to spend the summer researching and writing like a madwoman, so I might as well have some fun with the laptop that I am beginning to hate more and more with every passing day.

Tornado in Taipei!

Michael Turton links to this amazing video footage of a twister in the middle of Taipei.  It caused only minor damage, but it still was, as you hear one person say in the video, "So scary!"  No kidding.

If Supermarkets Were Like Public Schools

Here's something thought-provoking from the excellent blog of Harvard econ prof Greg Mankiw.  

Graduation Season Kicks Off: John Boehner's Commencement Speech

It's graduation season now on college campuses across the country as robes and mortarboards and the unmistakable strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" take over.  Well, it's nice to forget that mere days before, a significant portion of those soon-to-be dignified college graduates were busy being drunken idiots and layabouts.  But hey!  It's graduation time!  

And that means commencement speeches from luminaries of one type or another.  Sometimes the speeches are forgettable bits of nonsense.  But sometimes, if you're lucky, you get a speech actually worth listening to -- like this one extolling the virtues of humility, patience, and faith, delivered by Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio to the Class of 2011 of Catholic University.  Kudos, sir.

RELATED POST: Get schooled by this 2010 commencement speech.

The Judge and the Prince

Here's a cool story from the UK!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Movie Mini-Reviews: Three to See

I've been waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too busy on campus to do movie reviews, but really quickly, here are three to see.

MM in the Kitchen: German Chocolate Cake


Nerd/Geek Fun: The Buttered-Cat Paradox


Nerd Analysis: 3 Historical Cases of Appeasement

A glance back at history and at one historian's famous articulation of foreign policy's biggest pitfall: 
The worst enabler of appeasement, however, has been what historian Robert Conquest called foreign policy’s greatest danger: the failure of imagination that causes us, as Conquest wrote, "to project our ideas of common sense or natural motivation onto the products of totally different cultures," and thus to "frame policies based on illusions."
(Also, Robert Conquest wins, hands down, the contest for Best Name Ever Borne By a Historian.)

What Fresh Hell Is This?: On Illegal Police Entry in Indiana

Have you hugged your Fourth Amendment today?  This Indiana debacle would be hilariously stupid if it weren't so distressingly serious.  

Couch Potato Chronicles: Philosophy and the Monsters of "Doctor Who"

Here is an interesting perspective!  Screenwriter Steven Moffat as a master of existential horror?  Well, he certainly knows how to creep out his audience.

Nerd News: Blowing Up Grad School

Oh, my!

Quirky Asia Files: Judaism's Popularity in South Korea

Fascinating!  Here's a blurb:
The Talmud is a bestseller in South Korea - even the government insists it is good for you, and has included it on the curriculum for primary school children. 
Lee Chang-ro heads a literature research team at the Ministry for Education. He says: "The reasons why Korean children are taught Talmud are pretty obvious. Koreans and Jews both have a long history of oppression and surviving adversity with nothing but their own ingenuity to thank. There are no natural resources to speak of in Korea, so, like the Jews, all we can develop is our minds."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hu's On First: Meet the New York Mets' Taiwanese Slugger

Check it out!  His name is Hu Chin-Lung, and here are his stats.  And so life imitates Abbott and Costello.  As for New York -- September 12 is Taiwan Heritage Day at Citi Field.  Nice!  

On a more delicious note, Hu was quoted as saying he likes this one Taiwanese restaurant in Flushing, so you bet the next time the Cine-Sib and I are there, we're going to try it!  Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as Taiwanese food (not Hunan or Szechuan or Cantonese or what-have-you), and it's hard to find.  An eatery isn't Taiwanese unless it can give you stinky tofu and oyster pancake, man.

Friday Fun Video: Coolest Apartment Ever

There's no place like home.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Awesome: the Photopic Sky Survey

The short version: "The Photopic Sky Survey is a 5,000 megapixel photograph of the entire night sky stitched together from 37,440 exposures."  You gotta see it to believe it. Wow.

Nerd Analysis: Professor Mead on Pakistan, "This Unsatisfactory Ally"

Oh, my!  With friends like these ...?  Here's a blurb:
The Assassination in Abbottabad was a strategic catastrophe for the military rulers of this slowly and painfully failing state.  On the one hand, it leaves the reputation of Pakistan as an effective partner against fanatical terror groups in ruins.  The debate in Washington and around the world now is whether the Pakistani state is in league with Al Qaeda or whether it is so weak, divided and incompetent that rogue factions within the state have escaped all control.  The rich intelligence haul the US gathered in Osama’s lair will help the US learn more about Osama’s protectors in Pakistan; in the meantime it is transparently clear that whether incompetence or malfeasance is more to blame, the government of Pakistan cannot safely be trusted — by anyone, on anything.
Well, OK, and all, but maybe not having Pakistan as an ally is even worse?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day Shakespeare

Here's an encore of last year's shoutout to the Bard.

Disgustingly Cute: Animals with Stuffed Animals

The cuteness!  It burrrrrrrrrrrrrns!

Have You Hugged Your First Amendment Today?

You should, especially after reading about this going on in the UK, where the government wants to regulate journalists' Twitter feeds.

Satire Alert: Iowahawk on Bin Laden

The inimitable and truly glorious Iowahawk strikes this again, this time in the persona of Zarqawi, whose roommate in the jihadist afterlife is driving him crazy.  Strong language alert, but I laughed out loud.  Iowahawk, you magnificent bastard, we're not worthy!

Happy Mother's Day

Here's something fun for all you gentle readers and practitioners of filial piety:

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Hilarious Headline of the Day: "Germany's Gutenberg 'Deliberately' Plagiarised"

Gutenberg plagiarized?  ZOMG!

OK, so it's not that Gutenberg.  Oh, and isn't the intention to plagiarize rather part and parcel of the dastardly deed?

Well, It Wasn' t Another Che Guevara T-Shirt

I've ranted before about college-aged morons wearing shirts printed with the ugly mugs of Che Guevara and Mao.  This time, it was different.  No Che.  Nope, this time it was an oblivious undergraduate girl wearing a picture of Stalin.  STALIN!  *facepalm*  Little idiot probably had no idea what kind of murderous monster he actually was. Hell, it's like wearing a picture of Hitler.

Sympathy For the Devil: Thoughts on Killing Bin Laden

The British commentator Brendan O'Neill says pretty much everything I want to say for now.  As for me, I felt then and feel now nothing but an immense grim satisfaction over the end of bin Laden.  All these people handwringing about whether it were immoral to end Osama ... Hey, how about this for a thought?  It would have been immoral NOT to.

Most Awesome 6-Year-Old You'll See All Day

Check this out.   A boy and his dog shark!

Nerd Journal: the Cinema-Mad Sibling Is Pure Dagnasty Evil

(In case you're unsure about the phrase "pure dagnasty evil.")  Now on to matters of greater import: the Cine-Sib just emailed me this, and I warn you now.  DO NOT LISTEN TO IT.  And yet ... it is hilarious in the most degradingly wicked kind of way.  RELATED POST: Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert 1, Rebecca Black 0.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Nerd Journal: Watching the First GOP Debate

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand it's the opening bell of the 2012 presidential race for the GOP as the first debate kicks off in South Carolina.  So far, I gotta say that I am not impressed.  I can't see myself voting for any of these people.  Ron Paul is like the crotchety old uncle who always says something offensive at Thanksgiving dinner ... and says it really loudly.  

Let Slip the Dogs of War: A Look at Military Working Canines (and Their Humans Too)

Here's a great little photo essay. After all, the Navy SEALS took a dog with them when they went calling on Osama. You may also remember this four-legged Austrian special forces paratrooper.  GOOD BOY!  Check out this weekly feature too.

Post-Bin Laden PR Muddle, or, Life Imitates "Firefly"

Well, I suppose it's kind of like this.  Let me now give you two quotations.

Quotation the first
The core conflict is the White House’s “desire to kill bin Laden but also to have the world think we did so respectfully and politely,” said Eric Dezenhall, founder of Dezenhall Resources, a PR firm. 

Mal: "If anyone gets nosy, just... you know... shoot 'em. "
Zoe: "Shoot 'em?"
Mal: "Politely."

Hans Rosling in Praise of the Washing Machine

This is fantastic.  Do watch.  The humble washing machine, I dare say, has singlehandedly improved the lives of countless women around the world, and that is a wonderful thing.  As for the delightful Hans Rosling -- he is always worth your time.  (Other lovely inventions: the stove, the refrigerator, the dishwasher, the vacuum cleaner, the microwave...)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Awesome: Photographs from the International Space Station


On Killing Bin Laden: Perspectives from Kenya

Read this.  Caveat: predictable BBC-speak and "Debbie Downer" BBC-bias.

Internet Humor: the Situation Room Meme


Steve Coll on Osama in Pakistan

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (and Bin Laden biographer) Steve Coll has some thoughts about the circumstances of Bin Laden's discovery -- i.e., that he was found mere yards from Pakistan's equivalent of West Point.  Yeah, we've all got some thoughts and questions on that front.  Is it possible that Pakistan didn't know Bin Laden was living there for years? In Coll's words, "It strains credulity."  I guess it involves who knew what when.  But somebody knew something in the tangled mess of Pakistani government and society where, as we've seen lately, there are both good people fighting for freedom and extremists bent on advancing their own radical agenda.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Awesome: Delightful Animated Images

Charming!   (I still kind of love this more rough-around-the-edges one, though!)

Nerd News: UnCollege


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Salman Rushdie on Osama and Pakistan

A few thoughts.

Nerd Journal: I Must Be Slipping

Apparently I'm losing my grip.  I put my blog into an evil-o-matic calculator, and ... and ... Just look at this, will ya?

This site is certified 41% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Only 41% Evil?  Shameful!  That means I'm 59% ... Good?  That can't be accurate.  What would fellow evildoers Count Chocula and La Parisienne say?  (Well, I can still fall back on one survey that put me in the Ninth Circle of Dante's Inferno.)

Nerd Analysis: Fouad Ajami on the Weak Horse

Read this.  The weak horse and, literally and metaphorically, yesterday's news?  UPDATE:  Read this too.

Canada: Conservatives Win Big

Stephen Harper and his Conservatives now have a majority, eh!  Some of my lefty Canadian friends are deeply depressed.  Harper's off to cut taxes to boost economic recovery and growth.  A man after my own heart, clearly.  More commentary here.

Worth a Thousand Words: International Garden Photography 2011 Winners


Congratulations from Israel

Quote of the Day: Walter Russell Mead on Osama

The whole piece is worth a look.  Here's a snippet:
President Obama has been able to announce the news that Americans have longed to hear for the last ten years:  Osama bin Laden is dead, his corpse flung into the sea. 
Better, he is dead at America’s hands. 
Better yet, he died a beaten man.  His bid for the leadership of global Islam had failed, and Osama lived long enough to see other movements and other ideas shoulder his perverted synthesis aside.  Osama was yesterday’s man, and he knew it. 
... now the deed is done and there is no need to downplay its importance.  The death of Bin Laden will discourage and depress terrorists and their potential recruits the world over.  The world’s most ‘successful’ terrorist had nothing to show for his efforts — no forced withdrawal of the US from the Middle East, no proclamation of a caliphate, no destruction of Israel, no theocracy in Iraq. 

Jon Stewart on Osama's End: "A Good Night For Human People"

I am pretty much in love with Jon after this.  I've embedded three pieces of Jon's show from yesterday (after the fold).  The clips are hilarious (some content warning), and he manages to combine both humor and a moment of serious and personal perspective in the second clip: "Last night was a good night for me, and not just for New York or DC or America, but for human people."  He also makes a piquant point about Al Qaeda being left behind even if it is still dangerous.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Internet Culture Humor: Tweeting Personas

Too soon? I laughed anyway when I saw these on Twitter:

Quote of the Day: Psychology and Osama's End

From Ed Morrissey (my emphasis in italics):
But even with that said, the targeting and destruction of the world’s most-wanted terrorist will have a deep symbolic and operational impact on Al Qaeda. For years, the network could reassure itself with the fact that the Americans hadn’t been able to touch the man who professed to be acting for Allah, and who served as their inspiration. His death at the hands of U.S. forces cannot help but to shake that faith, and that may end up being the most powerful blow America could possibly deliver to the radical Islamists who demand world domination. 
If we can find and kill Osama bin Laden, we can find and kill the rest of them, too. And now they know it.

Ilya Somin on the Morality of Targeted Killings


Quote of the Day on Obama and Bin Laden

Whatever my problems and issues with the president's policies are, I must say kudos, sir, for giving the order to take Osama bin Laden out.  The best line I've seen yet on the topic is this one:
As far as I'm concerned, May 1, 2011 is the day President Obama earned that Nobel Peace Prize.
I will indeed raise a glass to the exit of Osama, a man who fomented murderous violence all over the world and had the blood of thousands on his hands -- civilians of every race and creed and nation.

On the End of Osama, The Onion Says It Best


MM in the Kitchen: Asparagus and Herb Tart

Easy and delicious and even a little bit good for you!

Photos: Reactions to the End of Bin Laden

Here is a nice image gallery of reactions to the end of Osama bin Laden.  The most moving, though, are the ones from New York City.  This one is my pick if you have time only to see one photo.

Couch Potato Chronicles: Looking Forward to New Doctor Who Episode 3!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

FINALLY: Osama Bin Laden Dead

Breaking news.  Obama is about to give a statement.  OK, I'll actually listen.  As for Osama ... Good riddance.   I'll try not to be much annoyed to watch Obama swan in to take the credit, because it's not about him.  The long hunt for the world's most wanted terrorist is over, and we got our man.

UPDATE 1:  A speech that, at last, had some substance.  A good speech.  (Is this the first time Obama's ever referred to Dubya in a speech without slamming him?)

UPDATE 2:  Mass celebrations have broken out on social media and physically in front of the White House.  Buh-bye to Al Qaeda's poster boy, one of the most hated men in the world.  Part of me is a bit abashed to feel so much grim satisfaction at the death of someone -- and on a Sunday too.  But.  BUT.  He was a blood-soaked monster and a force for evil all over the world, evil of the most barbarous, pitiless, and despicable sort.  We got the dirtbag in the end.  That's what matters.  HIGH FIVE, USA! 

Nerd Analysis: Silence on Campus

Here is something to ponder:
I am struck, however, by the relative calm on American campuses as each day brings forth fresh and repulsive evidence of civilian massacres in the Arab world. No demonstrations. No “teach-ins.” No “die-ins.” And there is less calling out of professors who support(ed) these regimes than I would ever have imagined possible. 
This is not to say that faculty and students are unconcerned. It’s more as if they are speechless, unworded. They are not protesting, as much as they are trying to puzzle this catastrophe through (and let me be the first to say that this is precisely what people on college campuses should be doing). 
Their speechlessness confirms a truism: the old dominant paradigm for explaining Mideast dysfunction is not working. It is hard to understand what the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has to do with Muammar el-Qaddafi strafing his own citizens or Bashar Assad unleashing his goons on protesters (though whether all of those protesters are offering more democratic alternatives is a conversation I will leave for another day).
Well, yeah.

Awesome: Singing Easter Flash Mob in Beirut Mall

Easter was last Sunday, but this video from Lebanon is too delightful to be passed over.  Watch as a flash mob in a Beirut mall bursts into song, singing "Christ is Risen." It's also a reminder of the deep historical roots that Christianity has in the Middle East -- a fact that is all but forgotten.  Now enjoy the show!  Great job, everyone!