Sunday, July 31, 2011

Disgustingly Cute? An Unwanted Kitten

Meet a kitten who was born with some unfortunate patches of black fur.  Apparently, this is not that uncommon, at least on the Internet.

Movie Mini-Review: "Cowboys and Aliens"

Git along, little dogies.

Hey, "Cowboys and Aliens" promises .... errr, cowboys and aliens, and the flick does indeed give you cowboys and aliens shooting each other up.  Yay for truth in advertising!  (The poster does look very "Witchblade"-y, doesn't it?)

I'm super busy today, but let me just say this for now: In terms of the sci fi-meets-Western subgenre, "Cowboys and Aliens" isn't as good as "Firefly" or "Serenity," but it's better than "Wild Wild West" (and most probably much better than "Jonah Hex," a notoriously awful flick that I refused to see and that the Cine-Sib hates with a venomous passion).

Reliably watchable A-list actors Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford take to the screen as the cowboys in question, while Olivia Wilde is the obligatory girly gunslinger eye candy, but Sam Rockwell's in it too as a supporting character, and as usual in such cases, he turns out to be scene-stealingly more interesting than the leads.  Oh, and Cine-Sib -- the Mexican actress who was Sister Encarnación in "Nacho Libre" is here too, so I suppose that means you'll stampede to the cinema!

Check out this positive review from io9.  The flick has plenty of action, good cinematography of the wild Western vistas, and a bonanza of cool effects, though it has a whole slate of flaws too.  For one thing, it's uneven in lots of spots.  I'd give it a C+ or maybe B-.  RottenTomatoes gives it a middling rating of 44%.

Quote of the Day: Debt Crisis Debacle

Short and sweet and expressive from the new Senator from Florida Marco Rubio commenting on the skulduggery going on in that wretched hive of scum and villainy, DC:
You want to know why people all across America get grossed out about politics? It’s by watching this kind of stuff happen.
TRUE DAT.  I love its informality, too.  I love the follow-up too:
And instead let me tell you what we’ve seen for the last few days. First of all, for today and for much of this time I have heard all these attacks and name-calling. If we had $1 billion for every time I heard the words "tea party extremist," we could solve this debt problem.

Quote of the Day: Independents, Libertarians, and Government

America is moving in the libertarians’ direction not because they have won an argument but because government and the sectors it dominates have made themselves ludicrous. This has, however, opened minds to the libertarians’ argument.
Indeed the political class has beclowned itself.  That, and I repeat the cry of many a crypto-libertarian to the encroaching government: "Leave me alone!" So ... we're all crypto-libertarians now?

Awesome Photography: Wildlife Stand-Off

Hummingbird versus green tree snake.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jürgen Klinnsmann To Be New US National Soccer Team Head Coach

My soccer (errr ... I mean, football) fan friends and I are excited that the German star is coming to the US!

Wretched Recipes: the Durian Smoothie

The Cine-Sib and I seriously HATE durian, but of course some people love it.  Here's a nasty-looking recipe for a stencherrific durian smoothie.  BLEAGH!  I'd much rather get a nice boba tea or watermelon nectar.   

But, in the interest of culinary knowledge, here's a video on how to deal with the spiny-skinned reeking glob of malodorous goop also known as a durian:

Nerd Fun: the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Be advised, though, that this contest is to see who can come up with the worst prose of the year. The actual wording of the competition goal (sponsored yearly since 1982 by the English Dept. of San Jose State University)  is "to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels." Behold the winning entry, penned by Sue Fondrie:
Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories. 
Want more hilariously awful verbiage?  Check out the runners-up!  (I especially liked the winner in the Crime category.) By the way, overall winner Sue Fondrie is an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.  Next time I tell you that a lot of academic writing is drivel, BELIEVE ME, mmmmmkay? I shall refrain from making more snarky comments, particularly those directed at the substance of ed schools. 

By the way, one reason I love this contest, aside from its guarantee of guffaws and gaffes along the way, is that it inherently still holds out that (oh-so-charmingly archaic on campus these days) idea that there is such a thing as bad writing as opposed to good writing ... and that it is recognizable.  Besides, it's fun to play with words!

Quote of the Day: On Nanny Government

Here's something that's all too relevant and timely:
Perhaps you’ve noticed the trend among certain people these days to decide that certain other people are not living acceptable lives and must be reformed.
By the way, I don't want to be reformed.  I'm not a bloody science fair / social engineering project. Leave me alone, do-gooder dirtbags!

The Great Teddy Bear Shipwreck Mystery of 1903

This might be inspiration for a really cute steampunkish kids' detective/explorer movie.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Movie Review: "Captain America: The First Avenger"

The Star-Spangled Man with a Plan!

In a summer full of comic book hero flicks ranging from the excellent ("X-Men: First Class") to the good ("Thor") to the laughably bad ("Green Lantern"), here's finally a rip-roaring flick with all the colorful comic book fun and adventure that we've all been waiting for.  Marvel's "Captain America" delivers the summer popcorn movie pleasure with panache, unironic good guys-versus-bad guys action, an excellent supporting cast, and a surprisingly charming retro 1940s vibe complete with a splashy song-and-dance number and newsreel homages.  It's Marvel's best comic book superhero movie since 2008's scintillating "Iron Man," and like that predecessor, this movie is, in terms of its hero, almost as much of a delightful revelation, and in terms of some underlying ideas just as ultimately substantive once the rollicking adventure is over.

US Debt Debacle: We're All Screwed?

Some thoughts:
Let me leave you with some comedians' take on this:

Human Trafficking and Gendercide in China

Disgusting ... yet somehow predictable in a place where "gendercide" is rampant.  Not, of course, that it increases respect for and appreciation of women as much as it ends up making girls more of an objectified commodity than before.  Ugh.
In another crackdown this month, police arrested 330 people suspected of involvement in the trafficking of baby girls, the newspaper said. The police operation took place across 14 provinces. 
... Women are sold to men in remote areas who are unable to find brides due to the sex imbalance resulting from China's one-child policy which has encouraged sex-selective abortions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

MM in the Kitchen: Lemon Curd Raspberry Tarts

Perfect for a summertime treat.

A Tale of Two Shale States

Read this.  Also this.

Fugly or Fabulous? Paper Eyelashes

No, really!  These stupendously detailed fake lashes are inspired by the art of Chinese (and Japanese too) paper cutting.  Imagine me (and California Dreamer) rocking the next Nerdmoot with these, heh!

What's In a Name? Althouse on "Compromise"

The law prof takes on Obama's debt crisis speech. I've given up on listening to such speeches -- they're words devoid of meaning or conviction ... or as Shakespeare said, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Blerg.

A Few Thoughts on Norway

Tim Blair's post contains, among other things, this piquant quote:
Apologists for Islamic terrorists are still crowing because someone besides an Islamic terrorist has behaved like an Islamic terrorist. In their world, this counts as a win.
The media "analysis" has been, in some circles, abysmally bad.  UPDATE: Read this too.

Disgustingly Cute: If Octopi Could Knit

Surely all those appendages would come in handy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pregnant Commuter 1, Mugger 0

And in Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love. You go, girl. By the time the cops arrived on the scene, the perp was lying in the street and screaming in pain.  Heh. Note to perps everywhere: Don't pick on girls who know kick-boxing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Awesome Geek Fun: Shatner at Comic-Con

I present this without further comment.

Kitchen Notes: Stop the War on Salt


Tour de France: Au Revoir!

It's all over, and I am going to miss it!  But what a great race it was.  Congratulations to awesome Aussie Cadel Evans who rode like a man possessed yesterday and rolled into Paris today in splendid yellow.  Champagne for everyone!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tour de France: All Hail Andy Schleck!

What else needs to be said for the Luxembourg rider in Stage 18?  Watching him attack in the mountains was a joy. Kudos too to Thomas Woeckler of France, valiant defender of the yellow jersey for 10 days in a  row. As for Alberto Contador, is his goose cooked?  Probably, and turned into pate (this is France, after all).

Disney Princesses Meet Fashion History

The results are actually quite interesting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Photo of the Day: A Bald Eagle in Minnesota

Do go see.

What Fresh Hell Is This? Taxes in a Recession

WHAT?  Check out the analysis by Stanford economics prof Michael Boskin.

The Absence of Capital: Thoughts on Haiti and Poverty

Indeed.  Note also the role of a rapacious government. The last paragraph is a firecracker.

Today in History: the Moon Landing!

Feast your eyes on some lovely NASA photos of the Apollo 11 mission! 

Nerd News: More Thoughts and Debate on Khan Academy

More thoughts.  At least people are thinking and talking about education and innovation.

Nerd News: Textbooks and the Kindle

The textbook-technology revolution begins?  Sooner or later the campus bookstore is going to become obsolete.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2


Like numberless legions of other Harry Potter fans, I went to see the final installment of the movie series this past weekend.  As some friends and I were saying, in many ways, this marks the end of an era on a very personal scale.  In many way, this film in itself, both in its existence and especially in its content, is like a personal graduation -- a commencement -- an end of a kind of childhood.  Underneath the magic, it is about growing up -- about making the hard choices, about becoming responsible adults with a clear-eyed view of reality and a sense of right and wrong even in -- especially in --the toughest of circumstances. Maybe I can explain this way: The time to be delighted and awed by enchanted ceilings and floating candles at that first dinner  at Hogwarts is over. The dining hall has become a battlefield hospital in a full-blown wizard war with life and death, and freedom and tyranny in the balance. 

The themes of sacrifice, loyalty, and doing what is right instead of what is easy ... These are ultimately all about growing up.  I had gone into this film with plenty of apprehension.  I loved the books, and the movie series had been somewhat of a mixed bag.  This final adaptation, though, bore its own unenviable weight of expectation.  I remember grabbing the seventh book when it was published in 2007 and reading nearly nonstop until my eyes hurt.  I desperately wanted the movie version to ... well, maybe "do justice" to the book is too much to ask?  How about ... to be not a total letdown.  It wasn't.  It was magic on an entirely different level and emotional register.  It was riveting narrative magic, and for once the special effects acted in service to the story and the characters. You want an epic conclusion?  I GOT YOUR EPIC CONCLUSION RIGHT HERE.

For those of you in a hurry, I'll just say this: The Battle of Hogwarts itself is worth the price of admission.  For the rest of you: more thoughts after the jump.  < River Song voice > Spoilers.

Nerd News: Bookmark Notepads

Brilliant!  I really don't like writing in books, so I'm always sticking tiny Post-It notes in them. The "guilty pleasure" bookmark notepad is especially nice.  I really should get it, since in this season of Nerdpocalypse Now, a "guilty pleasure" book is any book that has nothing to do with my research.  Heh.  When was the last time you could count Shakespeare as a "guilty pleasure"?  By the way, Knock Knock, the folks who offer those bookmarks, has a ton of other entertainingly cool gifts and cool bookmarks, so take a look!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Fun Video: Movie Theater Etiquette

It's the weekend, and that means going to the theater because the last Harry Potter movie is finally here!  But whether you go to the cinema to see the epic Battle of Hogwarts or something else, here are two hilarious reminders that there's such a thing as cinema etiquette.  First, something from UK film critic Mark Kermode:

From the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, Texas, which follows a strict no-talking, no-texting policy (good on them! I totally HATE people who text during movies while being selfishly, moronically unaware that their phones are emitting light that disturbs the darkness WHICH IS DARK IN ORDER FOR US TO SEE THE MOVIE, DUH):

Tour de France Awesomeness in Stage 13

All hail the Norwegian god of thunder!  Wow.  And Jeremy Roy.  What a day in the mountains!

Nerd News: Edu-Crats and the University

Oxford University Press is soon to be publish a book that's sure to make a splash: it's The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters by Benjamin Ginsberg, professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University.  Personally, I'm gratified to see that (a) somebody has shown the nerve to engage this issue in a big nerd forum, and (b) an influential academic press has the nerve to print it.

Nerd Notes: Warrior Scholars of World War II

Meet Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) and some of his remarkable peers in this captivating obituary. I am utterly charmed.  Leigh Fermor, by the way, managed to kidnap a Nazi general on Crete and quote the Roman poet Horace in almost the same breath.  Hail and farewell, sir!  Ave atque vale!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nerd Journal: It Really IS Bastille Day, After All

Because it's not until there are massive Parisian pyrotechnics!  *happy sigh*  What can I say?  When a girl wants fireworks, a girl wants fireworks.

Quote of the Day: Nathan Fillion on Carmageddon

To quote Kaylee Frye, "I love my captain."  Check this out:
29 hours till #Carmageddon. How are YOU preparing? I'm using trusty zombie apocalypse plan. Works for me.
Oh, geeky humor can be soooo attractive!  The impending 405 shutdown in Los Angeles is going to be a huge headache.  May I recommend that you stay home and marathon "Firefly" on Blu-ray?

30 Years of Technological Innovation

Rand Simberg has this photo.  Click to enlarge.  Hmmm.  Yes, yes, I know, it's reductive and cruel and superficial and kind of unfair ... but that doesn't mean it's not capable of eliciting a smile anyway!  Related recent posts here and here

MM in the Kitchen: Bastille Day Recipe Round-Up

French-themed gluttony!  Vive la France, indeed!  Dedicated to my fellow gluttons Count Chocula and the ever-appropriately-named La Parisienne.  Oh, and add this delicious-looking creamy dessert with strawberries.

Nerd Journal: When a Girl Wants Fireworks, She Wants Fireworks

There's something wrong with my laptop and I can't see the live online streaming goodness of the Parisian Bastille Day fireworks!  I hate my laptop! (*insert Geordi La Forge voice: "Damn!"*)  I confess to being ... a little disappointed.  And feeling foolish for feeling disappointed!  Oh, BLERG.

Never mind -- Harry Potter's premiering at midnight tonight!

Happy Bastille Day!

Vive la France, folks, while I "celebrate" by obsessing about the Tour de France as it heads into the mountains -- w00t!  You can, though, check out the scheduled Parisian fireworks live here. (It's a countdown clock until the magic moment at 11 PM, Paris time.)  Ain't technology grand?

Quote of the Day: Picasso on Artists & Himself

Many of us continue being artists for reasons that have very little to do with real art, but rather for the sake of imitation, for nostalgia of tradition, because of inertia, love of ostentation, luxury, intellectual curiosity, to be fashionable, or by calculation. Such artists survive because of habit, snobbery, the recent past; but the great majority of artists in all the fields of art lack a sincere passion for art, which they consider a pastime, a relaxation, an ornament. 
Oh, snap!  Even more striking, though, may be Picasso's comments about himself and his own art:
Amusing myself with these games, the squiggles, the jigsaw puzzles, the riddles and arabesques, I quickly became famous. And celebrity for the artist means sales, commissions, fortune, wealth. 
Now, as you know, I am famous and rich. But when I am alone with myself, I have not the courage to consider myself an artist in the grand old sense of the word. 
There have been great painters like Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt and Goya. I am nothing but a public buffoon who understood his times. Mine is a bitter confession, more painful than it may seem, but it has the merit of being sincere.
I've never liked Picasso's art so much, though he deserves some props for honesty in his self-critique and he certainly made a splash in art history with Cubism. I don't like modern art in general. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, Goya, though ... Beautiful.  I'm a young woman with old tastes, I suppose!

Quirky Euro Files: The Pastafarian Austrian Driver's License

Ah, religious freedom can be a hilarious thing.  Well, good on Mr. Alm also for having a personality and not being afraid to show it!  Now to quote him: "My headwear has now been recognized by the Republic of Austria."  LOL!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Awesome: 2 Photos and 30 Years

Look at this pair of photos, and then read the story behind it -- a tale of a dad, his son, and watching the first and last shuttle launches together.  


Awesome: JetBlue Versus LA Carmageddon

As some of you already know, the massive traffic artery I-405 in Los Angeles will be shut down on Saturday, July 16, and the result is going to be traffic insanity.  Folks are already calling it all Carmageddon.  Dude, have you seen LA traffic on a "good" day?  The mind boggles.  Closing the 405 in mid-July?  Whose bright idea was this, anyway?  BUT!  Check out this ingenious initiative by JetBlue airlines!  
The airliner’s #OverThe405 program is offering flights, literally over Carmageddon, between Burbank’s Bob Hope International Airport and Long Beach Airport for only $4 each way on Saturday, July 16.
I'll raise a glass to entrepreneurial creativity.  As for Carmageddon, check out this hilarious Los Angeles area public service announcement (and I take no responsibility if you get the "CHiPs" theme song stuck in your head):

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fugly or Fabulous? A Geisha Print Skirt

I admit to being absolutely fascinated!  Wearable art!  If it were up to me, I wouldn't wear opaque black tights with it, but I would wear a simple black, crimson, or white top and some awesome black shoes, elegant and understated, not the clunky weird things in the photo.

Awesomeness: Gorgeous Art by Brittney Lee

What lovely art!  (Check out these Harry Potter-themed paper cuttings!) She also has an Etsy shop.

Great Moments in Research: Synchronized Firefly Blinking

Well, what a fitting news story for summer!  How ... illuminating.  *rimshot*

PSA: Offending Authors Is Not a Smart Move

Why not?  Because they're authors.  They're really good at expressing themselves and communicating with words. Check out bestselling sci fi author Larry Correia's awesome rant after the president inexplicably took a potshot at bestselling authors.  (Speaking of, why is he always taking potshots at different constituencies?  Everyone from Las Vegas to corporate jet owners to writers?  It seems ... well, petty, dumb, and unnecessarily divisive to me. Unforced errors.)  Here's a bit of Correia in full glorious sarcastic cry:

An Epic Race Finds Its Hero, the Flying Dutchman

Yesterday was a rest day for the competitors of the Tour de France, and while I (like many another fan) suffered from withdrawal, there's no doubt that they needed a day off.  The ninth stage was sheer madness, and one part of it was utterly horrifying:

Johnny Hoogerland of the Netherlands somersaulted in the air and fell into a barbed wire fence. He needed 33 stitches to close his bloody gashes. But he managed to finish the stage despite the untold agony of his injuries and even to wear the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey. That's heroics, people.  Not to mention the manliest tears ever.

So as we return to the road today, MM salutes the courageous Hoogerland. Johnny, you look great in those polka dots.

This year's Tour seems to be dogged with crashes, disasters, and injuries -- carnage on the road. So many people have had to drop out, and Alexandre Vinokourov's hair-raising crash ended with a fractured femur and a helicopter ride to Paris for surgery.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: the Taipei Patisserie

I give you two horrifying examples (click to enlarge for full effect), but you really need to go to the source and see one girl's flabbergasting photo essay.  And, yes, I know, Taipei.  I'm so embarrassed.  (And yet -- oh, you know it! -- I'm impelled by a creeping sense of sick, morbid curiosity.)

Let them eat ... um, EW.

Monday Therapy: Post-It Love

It's Monday, and lots of you are back in the office.  Here's an adorable short film that has no dialogue but a lot of charm to soothe that pain.  You may recognize the young fellow in it -- Lee Ingleby was Gustave in "Ever After" and Stan Shunpike in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cool Video of the Day: Belgian Ants

Check out this adorable ad by a Belgian bus company!

A bug's life.

Nerd News: Historian Smackdown Over Trotsky

Read this.  No, really!  You've never had this much fun reading about Trotsky.  Here's a piece of the furious kerfuffle over a recent academic monograph/biography (my emphasis in boldface):
But the new issue of The American Historical Review contains a notice that will earn a place in the annals of the scholarly take-down. One historian says of another that he “commits numerous distortions of the historical record and outright errors of fact to the point that the intellectual integrity of the whole enterprise is open to question." Its publisher (one of the most prominent university presses in the United States) “has placed its imprimatur upon a book that fails to meet the basic standards of historical scholarship." 
And plenty more where that came from. Since reading the review last week, I have been in touch with both the reviewer and the review-ee -- then spent a week trying to elicit a comment from the pertinent acquisitions editor at the press, who has gone either on vacation or into hiding.
The volume in question is Trotsky: A Life (Harvard University Press, 2009) by Robert Service, a professor of Russian history at the University of Oxford.  Harvard and Oxford, eh?  Well, having a fancy name and snooty credentials doesn't mean a darn thing if you haven't got basic competence.  An academic credential or reputation is just a stupid label that increasingly is no indication of actual substance.

Quirky Euro Files: Ghost Towns

For something different to do on your next trip across the pond!

MM in the Kitchen: Cherry Cream Cheese Brownies

There's always room for dessert.

Friday, July 08, 2011

A Foreign Correspondent Considers the TSA

Check out this piece by Richard Engel of NBC.  To his credit, he filed a complaint.  More thoughts here.  For goodness sake, stop the ever-growing useless TSA security theater antics.  You of course remember this and this.

I add this bit from Engel's essay, which leaped out at me since I know academia all too well:
I was in the subway in New York a few days before traveling to Los Angeles. I grew up in New York. I always read the advertisements on the subways – there's not much else to look at. Generally, they're for acne treatment or public service announcements. 
This time, one of the advertisements caught my eye. It was for quick, inexpensive associate degrees. One of the majors advertised was in accounting, which has long been popular. There always seems to be a need for accountants. The other major was in "homeland security." Standing there, looking up at the ad as I jostled in the subway car, I realized what a growth industry security has become in the United States. 
Uh oh.  And that means that it's going to be rapidly more interested in self-perpetuation than actual effectiveness.

MM in the Kitchen: Salmon with Watercress Salad

For Alessandra!  Low-carb too.

Photo of the Day: Irrigation Seen From the Air

Surprisingly beautiful!  Do see it in full size.

Nerds Behaving Badly: The Atlanta Teacher Cheating Scandal

DUDE.  And yet ... somehow predictable.

Say WHAT? Quote of the Day About Interpersonal Relationships

This is the source of the quote -- a news story that is more than a little disturbing in itself -- but since I'm rating the quote PG-13 at the very least, it's after the fold:

Friday Fun Video: the Firefly Rap

A musical tribute to a great little sci-fi TV series:

Quote of the Day: Waivers and Exemptions

That the White House would exempt its best friends from Obamacare underscores everything you need to know not only about the deeply flawed health care takeover itself but also about the White House’s embrace of cronyism. 

Punctuation Panic: The Oxford Comma

Keep it!  I think it's beautiful, useful, and necessary.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Movie Madness: "The Three Musketeers"

This new trailer is insane, but you know I'm going to see this movie regardless.  Christoph Waltz is the villainous Cardinal Richelieu!  The presence of Milla Jovovich does make her scenes look like "Resident Evil in ruffs and corsets," though.

LOL: Tetris Sticky Notes

You know you want them!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Quirky Euro Files: A Swiss Political Party Hates PowerPoint


Quote of the Day: the Turkish Economy

If you refuse to transact any business in Turkey's black-market economy out of principle, you won't even get out of the airport. Estimates vary about its size, but Erdoğan recently suggested it represents half the Turkish economy, and I'd be surprised if that weren't an under-estimate.
The entire story is worth reading too.

Beware Greeks Bearing Economic Ruin

Well, the Greek economy is in tatters and threatening to ruin a whole lot of other people while it's on a roll.  Here are two thoughts: the role of rampant tax evasion and whether Greek political elites ruined the country.

MM in the Kitchen: Banana Split Ice Cream Cake

For La Parisienne, who's buried in work and needs a treat!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Quirky Asia Files: Cosplay Madness and "Lady Gaga Day" in Taichung, Taiwan

I don't even know what to say.  July 3 was "Lady Gaga Day." The photographic and video evidence is ... terrifying.   And yes, somebody actually did wear an outfit made of meat in tribute to Lady Gaga's abattoir chic.  Well, you can't spell "Gaga" without "gag"!

Kitchen Notes: The Art of the Grill

Check out some insane grills that could double as modern art.  

Quote of the Day: Politics and Reality

What do you think?  Here is the quote of the day:
It is hard to understand politics if you are hung up on reality. Politicians leave reality to others. What matters in politics is what you can get the voters to believe, whether it bears any resemblance to reality or not. 
Not only among politicians, but also among much of the media, and even among some of the public, the quest is not for truth about reality but for talking points that fit a vision or advance an agenda. 

In Praise of Feminine Beauty

I don't know what the heck is wrong with these people.  (On the flip side, nobody seems to mind if you compliment an adorable little boy for being adorable.)  More rambly personal thoughts (not quite a rant) after the fold.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Awesome: Random Acts of Sousa

Check out this flash mob celebrating the Fourth of July!

Awesome: a Fourth of July Tour de France Stage Win by American Cyclist Tyler Farrar

I watched this thing live this morning -- and it's like gilding the lily on this sunny, glorious holiday.  Awesome!  Congrats, Tyler!

You Go, Grill: Sriracha Pineapple Grilled Chicken

Patriotism can be hungry work on this playful holiday!  Come on, it's the Fourth, when millions of happy, hungry Americans engage in the glorious pastime of the backyard cookout!  May I suggest this unusual recipe for grilled chicken?  Teriyaki marinated grilled steak is also really, really good -- not to mention so easy that you really don't need a recipe.  Dessert is fireworks, natch.

Great Moments in Research: Hahvahd Says 4th of July Parades Turn You into a Right-Wing Nutjob

No, really!  A new Harvard paper says that going to Fourth of July parades makes you more likely to be a Republican.  Seriously?  Yet here is the research paper.  Whatever, dude!  Someone actually got research funds to do this?  Anyway, I love Independence Day parades and festivities with their sunny optimism and unabashed love of country, displayed with no irony, cynicism, or reservation amid cheerful crowds who turn out to enjoy the day with friends and family.  (It's not "government propaganda."  I've seen that, and this isn't it.)  I know leftists who balk at celebrating America so openly.  Maybe the parades are "Republican" because we right-wing nutjobs who love America are the ones who like going to them.  Me, I love John Philip Sousa and fireworks and pretty much everything about this holiday, and I don't care if you think love of this great country is "cheesy" or "corny" or whatever.  I'm with Calvin Coolidge when he said, "To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race."  Hear, hear!

Happy Independence Day 2011!

Happy birthday, America!  And wishes for a very happy Fourth of July to all you patriots (and patriettes)!  Here's something to help kick off a day that should be full of friends, fun, food, and fireworks: a great bit from the delightful 1972 film version of the musical "1776," with John Adams, Ben Franklin, and a very ginger (and rather cute) Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence (do read it again here on this of all days).

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Fugly or Fabulous? Book Pages as Wallpaper


MM in the Kitchen: Oven Brick Chicken

Try this!  Add a crisp green salad or veggies of your choice, and you're all set for supper!

Nerd Analysis: A Sociology Professor Considers the Gay Marriage Debate

Thoughts by a professor of sociology at the University of Kent.  The professor happens to support gay marriage, but that ends up being beside the point.  Here is a bit of it:
From a sociological perspective, the ascendancy of the campaign for gay marriage provides a fascinating story about the dynamics of the cultural conflicts that prevail in Western society. During the past decade the issue of gay marriage has been transformed into a cultural weapon that explicitly challenges prevailing norms through condemning those who oppose it. This is not so much a call for legal change as a cause: one that endows its supporters with moral superiority and demotes its opponents with the status of moral inferiority. 
... What we have here is the casual affirmation of a double standard: tolerance towards supporters of gay marriage and intolerance directed towards its opponents.

Video of the Day: The Aurora Borealis Explained

Check out this lovely educational video by the Department of Physics at the University of Oslo:

Film Culture Commentary: Every Michael Bay Movie Ever Made

Fugly or Fabulous: Canada Day Edition

Prince William and his lovely bride were in Canada on Canada Day, and I gotta say, I'm rather liking Kate's outfit.  Check out her red hat with its maple leaves.  It's fashion with a sense of youthful playfulness, and I think it goes fabulously with an elegant cream dress and maple-leaf brooch.  Kudos!  As I said to Alessandra, I'm starting to like this girl's sense of style and the fact that she doesn't seem so darn uptight about it all.  Besides, fashion diplomacy is a legitimate tool of statecraft!  

(OK, I'm not so sure about the tassell-y purse shaped like a fan.  It's adorable, but if it were up to me, I'd think it'd be a distraction from the awesome headgear.  I would have picked a nice elegant red clutch that didn't want attention for itself.  But going on!  Now ... I want to see Kate's shoes.)

Hat trick.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Bonjour! The 2011 Tour de France Is Here!

It's my usual summer delight -- working on papers while watching the Tour.  From today until July 24, it's going to be a good time indeed with the 98th Tour de France.  If I had any literary pretensions or skills, I would write an Ode to the Peloton!  Not that you need a reminder of why the Tour is so awesome, but here's a photo:

What Fresh Hell Is This: US Declines Taiwanese Request for F-16s

WHAT. You'll remember this, though: 45 Senators who backed the request and clearly have a better grip on the situation.  I repeat my opinion that this administration's foreign policy sucks, particularly where it involves throwing allies under the bus.  Hey!  How many democracies do you think there are in Asia, anyway?

Friday, July 01, 2011

LOL: Better Than Angry Birds?

Behold, Angry Air Force (via 22 Words)!  Click to enlarge, natch.

Movie Madness: "Heart of Darkness" In Space

"The horror, the horror!"  It could actually be good.  Go read some Conrad!

Happy Canada Day!

To all our friends in or from north of the border: Happy Canada Day, eh!  Put your knowledge of Canadiana to the test with this fun quiz.  Here are a few thoughts about remembering Canadian history.

Friday Fun: The Whole Foods Parking Lot

There's just something about snooty up-market grocery stores, isn't there?  This is for La Parisienne and Count Chocula and California Dreamer and the Cinema-Mad Sibling and everybody who loves them some Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or Central Market.

Pay my 80 bucks for 6 things ...