Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Great Moments in Research: Incomprehensible New Biochemistry Paper Baffles Just About Everybody

Ummmm ... yeah.

Who Really Stopped SOPA

The Insta-Prof has a link.  Here's a great quotation:
The bitroots movement wasn’t led by Google. It wasn’t led by anyone. Even to look for its leaders is to miss the point. Internet users didn’t lobby or buy their way into influence. They used the tools at their disposal—Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and the rest—to make their voices heard. They encouraged voluntary boycotts and blackouts, and organized awareness days. This was a revolt of, by and with social networks, turning the tools that organized them into groups in the first place into potent new weapons for political advocacy. The users had figured out how to hack politics.
INDEED.  We are Internet; hear us roar.  Besides, the grand point is that millions of ordinary people -- not professional lobbyists, corporate shills, or political players -- gave the wretched political establishment a good piece of our mind ... and it blinked.   The peasants revolted, much to Congress's surprise (and, I suppose, dismay).  

Quote of the Day: On a French Bill

"I suppose it'll add some spice to history exams though. Get the wrong answer and you not only fail: you get carted off to jail as well."
Some un-studious undergrads of my acquaintance should be quaking in their books, ha!  The quote refers to a new French bill that, if made law, would criminalize denying that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians in 1915-6.  (For what it's worth, I think this bill and others like it are a bad idea in principle.)  Anyway, the bill is currently stalled because of questions of constitutionality, and Turkish EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış flatly denied the charges of genocide and dared the French to go arrest him. Oh, my. 

"Game of Thrones" Season 2 Trailer


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Awesome: LEGO Man in Space

Check out what a couple of enterprising high school students from Toronto did with LEGO, a camera, and a helium-filled weather balloon!  Read all about it, and then watch this delightful (and beautiful) video footage.  Outstanding.

Ancient Bread Stamps!

Here's a cool new find from Israel: an ancient bread stamp marked with a menorah.  You might love this preserved example from Pompeii.  Other bread stamps have been found that date from ancient Egypt.  Hey, labeling/branding your product is soooooooo not a new idea.

Newspaper Nastiness: Il Giornale vs. Der Spiegel

*Sigh.*  It's an all-around slapfest of crude national stereotypes.  Everybody loses, especially good taste and common courtesy. You will of course remember this blog's standing rule that in any argument the first party to refer to Nazis automatically loses, so I guess Il Giornale loses twice.

Post-SOPA, MPAA Head Admits, "We're Not Comfortable with the Internet."

Thanks, Captain Obvious.  See this infographic.  Look, people: in the marketplace, you innovate or die.  It's nothing personal -- it's just business.

Salman Rushdie and the Jaipur Literary Festival

This and this.  Threats of violence prevailed.  Alas.  The essential nature of a robust defense of freedom of speech, conscience, association?  You're doing it wrong.  Pretty soon all of us are going to be subject to the whims and tantrums of the most easily offended.

Quote of the Day: From the Social Hierarchy in Egypt

From Egyptian human rights activists Cynthia Farahat:
“But for me, as a woman and a Copt, I am a fourth-class citizen,” she said. “The first class citizen is the Egyptian Sunni Muslim male, the second class is the Sunni female. The third is the Christian male. The fourth is the Christian female. I’m a fourth-class Egyptian citizen with absolutely no legal rights.”
Spare a thought for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East -- a group about which we hear nearly nothing in the news media -- and the state of women.

PSA: See the New "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries"

Are the copyright police on campus?  You can't be too careful, I suppose.

Book Reviews: Corporate Conquerors

Let's take some business lessons from some of history's most effective conquerors, shall we?  In two different books, Hannibal and Julius Caesar invade the corporate boardroom.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nerdworld Soundtrack: "What Doesn't Kill You"

It's been a long time since I posted in the "Nerdworld Soundtrack" category, so here's another song from the trenches of higher education and research/writing Nerdpocalypse Now.  "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger"?  Of course, I should note a former classmate's cynical comment on that: "That which doesn't kill you just postpones the inevitable."  He then proceeded to flunk out of grad school.  ANYWAY.  Here's some Kelly Clarkson!


Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: A Photo Gallery from Hell

I can't bear to look.  

Every State of the Union Address Ever

Here's a cheeky breakdown:
  1. The State of the Union is strong.
  2. Applause.
  3. It’s stronger because I’m up here and you’re not.
  4. Applause.
  5. Attack the Supreme Court [Obama only].
  6. Here’s why my political party is awesome.
  7. Applause from one side of room.
  8. Here’s why the other party is a bunch of doody-heads.
  9. Applause from the same side of the room.
  10. Here’s a program I want you to pass.
  11. Applause.
  12. Here’s an Ordinary Average Guy whose story should convince you to pass my program.
  13. Television shot of Ordinary Average Guy.
  14. Applause.
  15. Repeat steps 6-14 about 874 times.
  16. Here’s a couple more reasons why I’m awesome.
  17. Applause.
I didn't even bother watching the State of the Union address last night.  I was doing homework while watching "Mission: Impossible 3."  UPDATE:  Apparently I missed even less than I'd thought.  So rhetoric isn't enough, eh?  I told you that years ago, and you already knew it before I blogged it.  The real question is why so many people still seem enamoured of politicians' speeches that are really be-glittered piles of [insert substance here].  If I want [insert substance here], I can just listen to my undergrads' utterances of big words and little substance.  *Yawn.*  BORED NOW.

What Do You Do After You Shoot Bin Laden?

You go to Disneyland.  You go off in a daring raid and rescue American and Danish hostages from Somali pirates.  Kudos!

Girl Talk: Old and New Feminism

Here's an interesting little rumination from Down Under.  The very end of it is right on target.  Perspective, people.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Read: "Lords of the Sea" and the Story of the World's First Dominant Navy

Before the Roman navy made the Mediterranean Sea their lake and before the British navy ruled the waves around the globe, the Athenian navy underpinned a maritime empire.  I'm checking out Lords of the Sea by archaeologist John R. Hale (Penguin, 2010).  Does it have anything at all to do with my own schoolwork?  Nope!  And I don't care.  Triremes are cool.  They're even cooler when some crazy history buffs and archaeologists re-create one and sail it around!

Geek Icon Vs. Pro-SOPA MPAA and Politicians: A Rant

Yup, it's Wil Wheaton, and he's got something to say!

MM in the Kitchen: Guyana Style Roti

We'll see how well this experiment goes.

Hey, Let's Use Bees to Repel Vandals!

Take it under advisement?

Not-So-Still Life with Fruit

Nerd News: A Glance at Japanese University Student Life

Here's something interesting!  It looks like college students will be college students just about everywhere in terms of playing with technology.  (OK, but to the guy who says he spends 3 hours a week doing homework ... REALLY?  Is that 3 hours total?  I mean, I tell my students that they should be spending around 3 hours outside class for every 1 hour in class, which averages out to 9 hours a week for any given class doing reading/homework/review/etc. Or perhaps grad school has turned me into a cranky old slavedriver...?)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't Know Much About History

ALAS.  Nevertheless, some of us are still fighting the good fight.  I refuse to give up.  I know you do too.  

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Happy Chinese New Year, my lovelies.  Bring on the firecrackers and red paper envelopes!  UPDATE: Check out some lovely photos from celebrations all over Asia.

The Great Firewall of China and the "Preventing Piracy" Rationale

Well, DUH.  

LOL: The Word "Sustainable" Is Unsustainable

xkcd is definitely onto something here.  Trendy buzzwords are such a pain.

Monday Therapy: the Dancing Filipino Traffic Cop

Sunday, January 22, 2012

DVD Review: "Warrior" -- Ain't That a Kick in the Head

Rocky Road.

You'll see just about every sports-movie cliché known to man in 2011's "Warrior" ... and you'll love this flick anyway because Brit Tom Hardy and Aussie Joel Edgerton turn in knockout performances that transcend the preposterous storyline.

Forgotten History: Forbidden Coffee

Did you know that one ruler of 17th century Turkey (Sultan Murad IV) made drinking coffee a capital offense?  Oh, come on.  Coffee is the greatest addiction ever!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dude, Seriously?


Movie Critique: "Mission: Impossible-Verdana Font"

I really liked "Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol."  So did a typographer named Matthew Butterick, who wrote a letter to director Brad Bird to lodge a complaint not about the plot but about the font.  That's a guy passionate about his fonts!

LOL: John Scalzi 1, Slate 0

Scalzi eviscerates a particularly awful and whiny Slate article.  The whole thing's worth a read, but I'll leave you with an ice skating reference and what he says about the hapless writing of that terrible piece:
It’s like a triple axel directly into a pile of pig manure. It’s impressive in its way, but you have to question the wisdom of skating on sh*t to begin with.

"Welcome to the Party!": Larry Correia's SOPA Rant

Just read.  In fact, Correia (a published sci fi author) is always worth a look, as is fellow sci fi author John Scalzi (who, by the way, has his own SOPA rant).  I do like their books a lot too, so there's that.

Quirky Asia Files: Bamboo Scaffolding in Hong Kong

Yup, folks are still using bamboo for construction projects as they've done for ages.  Why not?  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!  Here's a little video:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Disgustingly Cute: Bye, Chloe!

Quote of the Day: William Faulkner

You know, I would totally read more Faulkner if he wrote like he spoke in this splendid speech when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Here's the conclusion:

Friday Fun Video: Taiwanese News Animators Vs. SOPA

The Sport of Sheep-Shearing

I'm taking a break from my SOPA sermonizing to give you more of the silly/quirky/amusing content that you've come to expect ... Here's a tale of New Zealand farmers who want sheep-shearing to be an Olympic sport!

Friday Fun: Philosoraptor and SOPA

The Internet meme ponders on:

Google Reports 7 Million Signatures on Anti-SOPA Petition

GOOD.  (Correction/Update: Now 7 million signatures.  An earlier report noted 4.5 million) Meanwhile, SOPA and PIPA are losing sponsors in Congress amid the rage of millions of nerds and geeks ... nerds and geeks who vote.  Ah, digital grassroots.

UPDATE: See this cool breakdown of who in Congress publicly supports or opposes SOPA/PIPA before and after the January protests.  Oh, I hope it's so.  I'm especially glad to see that Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has disavowed PIPA.  Meanwhile, other senators are running from PIPA like rats  Francesco Schettino from a sinking ship.  In current politics, all the GOP presidential candidates in the latest debate came out opposing SOPA/PIPA.  These bills have now become political Kryptonite.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Awesome: Ragtime "Star Trek"

The good stuff starts at 1:50 or so.  Engage!


Discovered: Prehistoric Tulipomania!

Here's some cool scientific news from Canada, eh!  Would a bunch of these fossils make an awesome "bouquet" for a paleontologist whom you fancy?


Even TED!  Take a look (via Boing Boing).  Great stuff.

Jon Stewart Vs. SOPA/PIPA

Santelli Rants About Government Overreach

Dirtbag of the Year: the Cowardly Captain

Unbelievable.  So the captain of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia repeatedly refused to go back and help evacuate the passengers thrown into distress by his own negligence.  You can practically hear the Italian Coast Guard hopping with frustration and rage.  See too this study in contrasts.  UPDATE:  A bit of rude Italian has now gone viral.

Awesome: Southwest Airlines and a Damaged Suitcase

Three cheers for a customer and a company that both have a sense of humor!  See first the customer's letter about a damaged suitcase, and then see Southwest Airlines' response.  Public relations and customer service?  You're doing it right!  (United Airlines, take note!)

Anti-SOPA/PIPA Protests Are Having An Effect

GOOD.  Here's more as Senators start abandoning their support of the anti-piracy bills.  Keep on voicing your opposition to SOPA and PIPA!  I'll tell you what -- I had never written to my Congresspeople before this, but SOPA and PIPA so enraged me that I did.  It's worth getting stupid campaign spam from the Congressdorks in the future if I could tell them right now in no uncertain terms what I thought of SOPA, PIPA, and their support for these crapulous, noxious bills.  

UPDATE 1:  Senate websites are crashing due to overwhelming emails.  Check out some cool screenshots of protesting websites.  On a related note, here is one opinion on how things even got to this point.  Hmmm.

UPDATE 2:  See what Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), a SOPA/PIPA opponent, has to say.  You'll recall Representative Jared Polis (D-Colorado), the gamer.

UPDATE 3: Check out this hilarious response to the SOPA protest by Representative Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) posted on the Congressman's official YouTube channel. Kudos, sir, for not only grasping the issue but having a sense of humor too:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Do You Like Me Now?

Now that my semi-blackout for the SOPA/PIPA protest is over, I was thinking about a new blog look for a new year (my fifth blogiversary went by a few days ago -- I had completely forgotten about it until now!).  Whaddya think?  Fugly or fabulous?

Irony Alert: Supreme Court Vs. Public Domain


The SOPA/PIPA Internet Strike is Today. Please Contact Your Congresspeople.

The SOPA/PIPA strike is on from 8 AM - 8 PM Eastern Standard Time for some sites and for all 24 hours for others.  Mad Minerva Blog has gone partially dark today to mark this  protest.  Please call/email/contact your senators and representatives!  Kill these pernicious bills!  Boing Boing does my ranting for me.  More here and here and here and here and here.  The main page of the English Wikipedia is blacked out for the protest, but it will give you contact information for your Congresspeople if you enter your ZIP code.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr Tells a Joke

Here is another (and charming) side of the civil rights leader during an appearance on The Tonight Show on February 8, 1968:


Geek Fun: File-Sharing Officially Recognized as Religion in Sweden

I swear I'm not making this up!

Rhode Island Bakery Creates TSA-Compliant Cupcake

In response to this idiocy, one enterprising bakery has created a TSA-compliant cupcake!  Check out the Silver Spoon Bakery's cheeky advertising image.

SOPA Stalls in House of Representatives

GOOD.  Now kill the Senate version PIPA too!

Couch Potato Chronicles: Fairy Tales on Primetime TV

Here are some interesting thoughts.

Life Imitates Star Wars: "Tatooine" Planets

Well, whaddya know?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

SOPA Resistance Is Not Futile!

Well, well, well.  Keep pushing back, fellow geeks and nerds!  More here.   On a related note,  the January 18 protest plan seems also to be proceeding.

Volcano Forms New Island in Red Sea

Meet the new hotness.

Awesome: A Foodie's Vacation Video

Check out this video compilation of some gorgeous food photography from South Korea and Japan. Warning: music alert!

Taiwan: Ma Re-Elected

UGH.  The Cine-Sib called to vent this morning.  We're not at all happy with this, Ma, or the KMT.  Still, voter turnout was estimated at more than 70% with about 13.5 million votes cast, and about 800,000 votes made the difference between Ma and the DPP's Tsai.  It would have been nice to have a woman president.  Still, here is one small consolation: James Soong fared miserably in third place.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Movie Madness: "Beauty and the Beast 3D"

It's a blast from the past ... now in 3D.  I don't even care if the 3D is all that and a bag of chips (or not).  I'll go see this 1991 Disney movie for sheer nostalgia.  You?

The 2012 Index of Economic Freedom Is Out

We're not doing so well?  The US is out of the top tier at #10. What would Milton Friedman say?  By the way, the top tier rated "Free" consists of Hong Kong at #1, followed by Singapore,  Australia, New Zealand, and (the first non-Asian country on the list) Switzerland.  Taiwan is #18.  C'mon, guys, we can do better than that.

Nerd News: Death at Oxford

One professor found dead, with another released on bail after being arrested on suspicion of murder.  The investigation is ongoing.  The widow believes that the death was not murder but "a tragic accident."

Nerd News: Be Your Own Weird Nerdy Self?

So says this little piece in Inside Higher Ed.  That's great and all, but I have to tell you that not all forms of weirdness or idiosyncrasy are equal in nature, acceptability, appropriateness in the workplace/classroom, or whatever.  Use your common sense, mmmmmkay?

The January 18 SOPA Protest

Here's the latest on the blackout-as-protest.  Lolcats are joining the resistanceUPDATE 1: Wikipedia too? More hereUPDATE 2:  The PC game protest.

India's Progress Against Polio

Once India led the world in polio cases (5000 cases recorded since 2000).  Now here is the happy news that with India's immunization efforts, since January 13 of 2011 no new cases were recorded.  Pakistan now takes the dubious title of world's most polio-prone nation.

Friday Fun Video: Roommates and Portals

Here's a hilarious little video playing with the idea of the game "Portal":

Thursday, January 12, 2012

WELL, DUH (SOPA Edition)

I give you only this blazingly obvious thought that I've said before:

SOPA and the Gamer Congressman

Here's something fascinating ... and hopeful.  I give you a blurb from a post by Representative Jared Polis (D-Colorado) who voiced the following on a gaming forum.  Good on you!

Awesome Nerd/Geek News: Free Online Courses From MIT

Here's the announcement from December 2011, and here is the website for the free courses.  Thanks, MIT!  Here's a nice quote from MIT President Susan Hockfield:
“MIT has long believed that anyone in the world with the motivation and ability to engage MIT coursework should have the opportunity to attain the best MIT-based educational experience that Internet technology enables. OpenCourseWare’s great success signals high demand for MIT’s course content and propels us to advance beyond making content available. MIT now aspires to develop new approaches to online teaching.”

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Around the World in 5 Minutes

Here's a vacation for your eyes in the form of footage from a journey through 17 countries in 343 days.  (MM sighs as she looks at her stack of papers, books, journal articles, and syllabi.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

LOL: Road Rage

Geek Vs. Nerd: the Infographic

Identify yourselves!

Nerd Fun: What If Other Authors Had Written "Twilight"?

For La Parisienne -- this idea is full of win.

Orca Versus Great White Shark

Nature red in tooth and claw ... and awesome.  After all, it's not called a "killer whale" for nothing.

Quote of the Day: the Welfare State

Here's a bit of a larger op-ed:

The radical Left once believed in the power of the working man not only to hold down a job but also to remake society and the future – to watch them now fight tooth-and-nail in defence of the idea that much of the working class is pathetic and weak and in need of permanent care by the welfare state is genuinely depressing.

A Luggage-Eye View of the World

As everyone heads back to school for a new semester, here's a cool video by Delta Airlines:

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Dirtbag du Jour: Library Sends Police After 5-Year-Old Kid

You cannot be serious!

Delicious Defiance: the Veto Ale


Is LG's 55-Inch OLED the Best TV Ever?

Oooooo, pretty!  Remember, I did once say that I would rather have a kick-butt TV than diamonds.  I stand by that statement.

9-Year-Old Kid Interviews GOP Primary Candidates

FINALLY, some political commentary worth your time!  The kid's dad, journalist Darren Garnick, did a writeup for the Atlantic, but I had more fun watching 9-year-old Ari with the candidates (video dated December 23, 2011):

History Lesson: 100 Years in 10 Minutes

This is an interesting compilation, though I do take issue with the fact that the selection is often desultory and that it focuses too much on the negative and does not include enough mention of humanitarian, scientific, medical, artistic, and other forms of achievements.  (No, mentioning the founding of Greenpeace does not count.)   It's so pessimistic, complete with the depressingly doom-tastic soundtrack.  I also found it a little odd that the founding of Israel in 1948 was not included, even though this moment in history is hugely important both to supporters and opponents.  Well, still, whoever made this took the time and effort to do this, so props to them.  Maybe I should make my own video.

Belarus: More Internet Censorship

UGH!  It's as disgusting as SOPA.

Awesome: Kids + Stickers = Art

Take a look at this fabulous idea for an art installation in Brisbane.  Kudos!

Monday, January 02, 2012

What Fresh Hell Is This? Let's Throw Due Process Under the Bus

Well, that's just great:

In his last official act of business in 2011, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act from his vacation rental in Kailua, Hawaii. In a statement, the president said he did so with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge.

The legislation has drawn severe criticism from civil liberties groups, many Democrats, along with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who called it “a slip into tyranny.” Recently two retired four-star Marine generals called on the president to veto the bill in a New York Times op-ed, deeming it “misguided and unnecessary.”
Doesn't ANYBODY know what due process is?  Read the Fifth Amendment, please.  (You'll remember this related bit with the TSA.)  Between this and SOPA, I am starting off the year in a nasty mood indeed.  Hope and change?  Civil rights?  You're doing it wrong.  Once upon a time, it actually meant something to be a citizen!

The Worst Song of All Time

Pretty much, yeah.  I think that I've ranted before about how much I hate "Imagine," but in you case you were unsure, I freaking hate this song.

SOPA Wars In Space

Can't stop the signal.

Doesn't NASA Have Anything Better To Do?


LOL: Pandagate ... and the Quote of the Day

Oh, my!  Plus the quotation du jour:

"The thing about pandas is that they're the most useless evolutionary dead end ever to be preserved, at great expense, in the name of sentiment and nationalist flim-flammery."

Blog Post Title of the Day: "Thomas Friedman, You Pitiful Fool."

Is Tom Friedman a useful idiot and a pitiful fool?  Absolutely.  Now read this essay about Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, about whom I have posted before here and here.

20 Years After the End of the USSR

A few thoughts.  Don't be fooled by the apologists for the Soviet Union (and other exponents of totalitarian Communism) or the dipsticks who are into retro Commie chic.

It's "Run It Up a Flagpole and See If Anyone Salutes" Day

Yup, every January 2!  It's also National Science Fiction Day.  Even more amusing might be tomorrow, since January 3 is Fruitcake Toss Day.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

2012 already!  Here's hoping it's a good one.  It's already startedwith a laugh as Dave Barry publishes his annual year in review and looks back at 2011.

Oh, and the Cine-Sib suggests this video of fireworks from Taipei: