Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reminder: Your Halloween Movie Recommendation

If you want a scary, smart flick, watch this.

Taiwanese News Animators Vs. Disney + Star Wars

Yesterday the Internet blew up with the news that Disney had acquired the Star Wars universe from George Lucas for $4 billion and announced that a new Star Wars movie, Episode 7, will arrive in 2015.  (As for whether this is a trick or a treat, the fanboy civil wars are in full swing.)  Today the glorious Taiwanese news animators have come up with a response:

Boo! Happy Halloween with the Green Ruby Pumpkin

LOL: Leno on Politics

Politicizing Sandy

It started almost immediately. Ugh!  I suggest that you round up everybody who's engaging in this skulduggery and put them to work doing hurricane relief.  It might teach them some humility.

One Last Thought on Newspapers Breaking For Romney

I've been looking at this for a while (the latest previous is here with the Los Angeles Daily News).  Now yet another paper that endorsed Obama in 2008 has publicly declared for Romney, the Nashua Telegraph in the swing state of New Hampshire.  As ever, the argument is about the economy.  Here's a piece of it:
True leaders also don’t wait until two weeks before Election Day – in the form of a 20-page booklet, no less – to lay out a specific agenda for the next four years. Coupled with the negative tenor of the campaign, that merely confirms the president and his strategists felt that attacking Romney’s agenda was more politically expedient than releasing one of their own. 
Some cynics have suggested, only partly in jest, that Obama-Romney is at its core a contest between a man with no plan and man with a plan that doesn’t add up, a reference to Romney’s own unwillingness to lay out details of how he would balance his campaign promises with his tax-and-spending plans. 
Nevertheless, we are confident Romney is the candidate who would tackle the serious issues facing this nation, starting with jobs, the economy and the debt. In the end, we couldn’t say the same about the president.
Investors' Business Daily has its own editorial about this trend of newspaper editorial boards changing sides this time around. As I've said before, this is in itself rather interesting because so much of journalism these days leans (or flat out runs) left.  It's a fascinating look at the editorial boards, and I think some credit must be due to them for being able to look at the real world outside and understand that policies have consequences. Of course, the actual effectiveness of newspaper endorsements on the voting public is another issue entirely.  Here's an opinion piece about why they don't matter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blast From the Past (Literally)

Hurricane Sandy is a history-making storm.  Take a look at 6 other tempests that changed history, from the "divine wind" typhoon that saved Japan from a Mongol invasion fleet in 1281 to the storm that wrecked the Spanish Armada and thus saved England in 1588 and more.

Teehee - a "Secretary of Business"!

OK, I didn't immediately heap scorn on this because I've been busyyyyyyy, and now I find that I don't have to, because the Wall Street Journal has done it for me.  You know, maybe this is related to that stupid (not to mention vulgar) Lena Dunham campaign video.  Why do I say this?  I give you, for your listening pleasure, New Zealand's hilarious Flight of the Conchords:

Do Something Useful: the Red Cross's Hurricane Relief

The thought finally occurred to me as I was watching the news that a lot of folks are much worse off than I am (as I'm sitting here with power and water and Internet) and that maybe I should do something, anything other than be mutely horrified at what I'm seeing.  Please to donate to the Red Cross's massive effort.  It's easy, it's fast, and you can do it with that smartphone that's already glued to your hands anyway: you can text the word "REDCROSS" to 90999 to make a $10 donation.  Take a look at what the Red Cross has been doing for hurricane relief:
More than 3,200 people spent the night in 112 Red Cross shelters in nine states – New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Massachusetts. The number of people going to shelters is expected to grow as the storm comes ashore. 
The Red Cross has deployed more than 1,300 disaster workers to the region from all over the country to help those affected by the storm. As many as 160 emergency vehicles are ready to respond when it is safe to do so, and more than 230,000 ready-to-eat meals have been sent into the area.

Monday, October 29, 2012

LOL: Schadenfreude!

Oh, it's been a tough day.  I needed the laugh.

NJ Governor: Don't Worry, Kids

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has a LOT on his plate right now, but he took a moment to send this charming tweet:
Elsewhere on Twitter, awesome Newark mayor Cory Booker keeps on being awesome.  By the way, if you're not following Hurricane Sandy coverage in real time on Twitter, you should at least look in.

Monday Therapy: "I Am European"

If you need a good laugh on this stormy Monday, you'll appreciate this uproariously, fall-on-the-floor-and-choke-with-laughter awful music video.  Come on, why are all EU propaganda videos so darn horrible?  Just how bad is it?  So bad that it got an eminent British member of the European Parliament to call it "an abomination" and to tag it on his blog as "terrifyingly crappy video."  Take a look for yourself and ponder whether this is as bad as the hilarrible "Science: It's A Girl Thing!" video.

Good grief, people, don't you realize that name-checking a bunch of European cultural giants only makes you look even smaller and sillier?  I know, it's hardly fair to make fun of the EU's propaganda wing.  Talk about a "target-rich environment"! It's like shooting fish in a barrel.  It's not even sporting. I was, though, rather tickled to see Reagan there giving his famous Berlin Wall speech.  Is there some tiny, grudging acknowledgment of the fact that yes indeed, the Gipper helped the free world win the Cold War?  Haters gonna hate, but Reagan rocked.

Romney and F-16s to Taiwan

The Romney campaign has declared its support for selling the fighter jets to Taiwan. Well, GOOD.  As Dignified Rant also just said, "Have no doubt that Taiwan needs the planes and that we need Taiwan to have the planes."  

Hurricane Sandy 1, HMS Bounty 0

OK, so it's a replica of the infamous ship, but it's still a shame to see the travails of such a beautiful thing and piece of maritime history off the coast of North Carolina.  Here is the tall ship's website.  Kudos to the Coast Guard for the rescue of the Bounty's crew.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tweeting Hurricane Sandy

I'm not sure what's more amusing: that some wag is tweeting as the hurricane or that s/he is quoting Mean Girls:

Your Halloween Movie Review: "Cabin in the Woods" (2012)

Hollywood Babylon.

The brilliantly and wickedly clever brainchild of Joss Whedon, Cabin in the Woods basically destroys the horror genre; I can't imagine how one can make another horror flick after this virtuoso hour-and-a-half-long display of metatheatrical wit, humor, and - yes - gore.  Where Scary Movie (2000) had parodied the horror genre for silly laughs, Cabin in the Woods takes on that genre, with all its tropes and stereotypes and expectations, in an entirely different and gloriously intelligent way. 

Preference Cascade-rama: LA Daily News Endorses Romney

Well, whaddyaknow?  Another one.  Oh, California will go for Obama, but the fact that any Los Angeles paper at all would endorse Romney is some kind of news to me.  The second largest paper in the City of Angels, the Daily News endorsed Obama in 2008, just like the increasing hoard of other newspaper endorsements that I've found interesting lately, and like all the others, hammers Obama on the economy.

Tiger Nation: Thoughts on Asian-American Success

Take a look.  Personally, I don't get why so many Asian-Americans vote left.  You'd think the age-old inculcated emphasis on education and hard work and personal responsibility would lead to more voting on the right or libertarian.  I can't believe that's just me, yeah?  I'll add too that race-based school admissions and affirmative action tends to harm Asian-Americans.  (You'll remember the latest go-round here.)

"Free China: The Courage to Believe": The Documentary China Tried to Quash

Here's something fitting for a Sunday, my darlings.  Read this and spare a thought for the prisoners of conscience in China, both Falun Gong and not.  I remind you that China is ruled by, in the words of a friend of mine, "a criminal regime." 

This isn't, by the way, me endorsing Falun Gong as a belief system, but you don't have to adhere to it in order to understand that the Chinese government's persecution of its practitioners is a gross human rights abuse.

"Free China" is the winner of four international film festivals.  Take a look here:

Mark Steyn and a Tale of Two Asinine Videos

As usual, Steyn says it much better than I could.

The Des Moines Register Endorses ...

Romney.  For the first time in 40 years, this Iowa paper backs a Republican for the Presidency.  Hope and change, folks, because it's about the ECONOMY.  Anyway, add this to the growing list of papers who went for Obama in 2008 and are now endorsing Romney.  I know, I know, newspaper endorsements in themselves don't really sway the undecided reader, but I find them fascinating this time around as an exhibit of a preference cascade among the editorial boards.  As for the Des Moines Register in particular, I think we all kind of saw this coming.  By the way, here's a piece of its official endorsement:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Humor

Since this storm is making massive headlines all up and down the East Coast, I give you this bit of movie-meteorological fun:

Me and My Censor: A Reporter's Memoir of Working in China


From Florida: It's the Economy, Stupid

That's the overwhelming reasoning behind every single newspaper endorsement for Romney that I've read, and that is the overriding reason why papers that endorsed Obama in 2008 are supporting Romney now. (A little background.) The latest paper is the Sun Sentinel, and these Florida papers I think may be especially interesting because Florida is the perpetual battleground state. Here's a piece of it:

Two Journalists on the Middle East and Foreign Policy

The always-interesting Michael Totten has a new article on the persistence of the Islamist threat, while Canadian journalist Terry Glavin in his piece "On the Front Line of a Global Struggle" surveys a number of good books.  He also notes this portion of an interview chronicled in one of those books:
“S.D.”, in Iran, writes directly to those of us who live in the West: “While you are fighting for the rights of pandas over there, people are still being stoned to death here in my country.”
That's more perspective than you'll get in many a classroom or thinktank these days.  RELATED: Lara Logan on Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Photo of the Day: Chen Guangcheng and Christian Bale

You all know about Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese human rights activist who managed to escape and is now in the States.  You may not know, though, that while he was still under house arrest in China, Christian Bale attempted to visit him.  The two finally met when Chen was honored with a human rights award earlier this week.  Here's a charming photo of the actor and his hero.  (Oh, and there's video in which Bale mentions Chen detailing the Chinese government's gross human rights abuses, especially against women.)

Friday Fun Video: Dubstep Violin

Thursday, October 25, 2012

History in Photos: Japan in 1886

Take a look at these fascinating colorized images of 19th-century Japan!

A Tale of Two More Newspapers

Now that we're fast approaching Election Day, things are getting interesting.  A couple days ago I noted 3 newspapers endorsing Romney.  I just read another one from a Detroit paper.  Yeah, you read that right. DETROIT.  It's a pretty good read too.  Still, the paper that did actually made me stop and look twice, though, was Iowa's Des Moines Register.  Why?  Look at this front page. You can't tell me that's not a zinger (and probably just  the teensiest bit of payback too).  Meow!

Headline of the Day: "Nazi buddha from space might be fake"

I swear I'm not making this up.

Kill Lists and the "Disposition Matrix"

This Washington Post piece is racing across the Internet.  Take a look. Via Wired's Danger Room.  So where's the outrage about Obama's institutionalizing program of drones and ever-expanding targeted killings? Oh, and is it just me, or does "disposition matrix" sound positively Orwellian?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Couch Potato Chronicles: Et Tu, "Supernatural"?

It wasn't even that long ago that I said I was back.  Tonight's episode was only the fourth one of the season, and you give me something that took an hour of my life and gave nothing back.  The ultimate problem was that in an attempt to change things up, the episode marginalized the Winchesters and made them bit players in their own show. LOOK, THE WINCHESTERS ARE THE ONLY REASON TO WATCH THIS SHOW AT ALL.  I hate it when the show attempts to make someone else the protagonist for an episode.  The one that focused on the "Ghostfacers" was awful, and the only reason "Weekend at Bobby's" worked was because Bobby himself is awesome and we love him and we happily wanted to see more of his adventures after seeing him be the loyal supporting character he was since the first season.

Well, tonight's episode "Bitten" marginalized Sam and Dean in order to give a group of annoying morons the spotlight, and I frankly hated every single one of them.  By the end, I was actively rooting for them to come to the predictable sticky ends that they had set up for themselves. Can we all get back to the arc with Crowley and Castiel, please? Heck, even Kevin too.  And give us Metallicar and classic rock, come on!

I am so ticked!  Hey, I haven't much time, and if I'm going to spend a precious hour of it on a guilty pleasure of a TV show, I want it to - you  know - actually provide a guilty pleasure instead of an hour of eye-roll-inducing idiocy. If I'd wanted that, I would have just watched more politics.  BLERG.

LOL: Gangnam Style at the United Nations

Psy gets UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to do that dance. Oppa UN Style!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Overheard at Nerdworld Today

Nerdworld, as you know, is blue to the core and filled with Obama supporters.  It's the sort of place where you stop and stare if you actually see a Romney-Ryan sticker or poster (I've only seen one during this entire campaign season.)

But today as I was talking past a cafe, I overheard a group of young guys talking about politics.  One said gravely, "I think Romney's going to win.  I don't want him to, but I think he's going to win."

Well, well, well. 

Movie Madness: "Iron Man 3" Trailer

Enough political pundits.  More Tony Stark, please.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Quote of the Day, Third Debate, and Entire Election Season

Romney to Obama tonight: "Attacking me is not an agenda."  

LOL: Presidential Debate Drinking Game, Round 3

If your liver's made it through the first debate, the second debate, and the VP debate, then it's time to end with a bang tonight.  Hey, it's the foreign policy, so it's the one that I personally will find most interesting.  Besides, I think we all deserve some straight answers about the Benghazi debacle. Here are the rules for tonight, darlings:

UPDATE: Even sillier version of the game below.

Monday Therapy: Bus Station Sonata

Making your commute a little classier in Newcastle, England:

Meet St. Kateri Tekakwitha, aka "Lily of the Mohawks"

The 17th-century convert from upstate New York is the first Native American canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.  The Pope also called her the "protectress of Canada."

Movie Mini-Review: "Argo"

Over the weekend, I finally had a moment to see Argo, and let me tell you: this glorious film set during the Iranian Revolution is made of 100% thrillingly absorbing narrative, great direction, fantastic casting, and Oscar material.  I want to see Oscar nods for Ben Affleck's magnificently suspenseful direction and Alan Arkin's turn in an unforgettable supporting role.  In fact, Argo deserves a nom for Best Picture, period.  I'll do a full writeup when I can, but for now let me say this: Argo gets a solid A from me. It's one of the best movies I've seen this year.  GO SEE THIS IMMEDIATELY.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nerdworld Soundtrack: "Non Nobis, Domine"

Here's something beautiful for your Sunday listening pleasure.  The hymn dates back to the 16th century at least, and this version was part of the soundtrack for Sir Kenneth Branagh's glorious 1989 film production of Shakespeare's Henry V.  Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, after all, and we could all use a break from the usual nonstop political madness.  (And it is "savage breast," not "savage beast."  Look it up in the original William Congreve play The Mourning Bride of 1697 if you don't believe me!)


Saturday, October 20, 2012

EUrocrats Not Even Bothering to Hide It Anymore

Why bother since you've already snagged the Nobel Peace Prize?  Take a look at this EU propaganda "yay for us" poster.  TAKE A GOOD LOOK. 

Et Tu, "Weekly Standard"?

As a childless unmarried monster, I was not amused by this.   

Neither "economics" nor "culture" are the driving reasons behind my (apparently offensive and civilization-imperilling) personal lack of mini-Minervas. You know, some people don't have kids because - for just two examples - health issues are in play or they hold the quaint old-fashioned conviction that they want to get married first.  It's not, in that unfortunate wording in the piece, that we simply don't "bother to have children at all."  That kind of makes us childless monsters sound like self-absorbed dirtbags, and I jolly well do not appreciate that.

This whole thing might depress some people, but it frankly just ticks me off.  Hey, people, how about you walk a mile in my shoes  awesome high heels before you presume to judge me?   It's another round of modern socio-politics' favorite song: "You Played Nicely and Tried to Be Responsible?  You're A SUCKER."  The coda here: "Oh, and You're Evil Now Too."  Thanks, people, thanks a lot.  That really helps.  Pfffft.  Meanwhile, Feminist Ryan Gosling continues to amuse:

Call Me Maybe.

Public Service Announcement: I Am A Woman Voter, and I Care About Issues Other Than Abortion and Birth Control

FYI, politicians.  There.  I've spelled it out for you.  Do I really have to add that I think it's insulting of you to reduce me to those things?  to campaign to me as if those are the issues that will determine my vote?  I had thought that the DNC's loopy estrogen festival was absolutely hilarious, but I don't think the ongoing attempts to win the "woman vote" are funny anymore.  I'm getting reeeeeeeeeeeeeally tired of this particular brand of campaigning.  Guess what, Poindexter: women care about jobs too, and energy costs and taxes and debt.  To think otherwise would be ... what's the word I'm looking for? ... oh yes, SEXIST. 

Awesome: The Oatmeal and the Tesla Museum

Fans of the Oatmeal already know this (and likely participated), but in case you missed the geeky glory of it all, NPR just interviewed Matthew Inman, the mad genius behind the wildly popular webcomic.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Obama on Foreign Policy: "Exceptionally Dysfunctional"

Read this.  It's not by some partisan Romney fan with an axe to grind either; the byline notes the following:
Rosa Brooks is a law professor at Georgetown University and a Schwartz senior fellow at the New America Foundation. She served as a counselor to the U.S. defense undersecretary for policy from 2009 to 2011 and previously served as a senior advisor at the U.S. State Department. 

A Tale of Two Endorsements and the Economy, Plus A Rant

Usually I don't care about newspapers or endorsements, but I thought I'd look around now just to see what's going on.  I'll point out two newspaper endorsements because they supported Obama in 2008 but have now come out to endorse Romney this time around: the Orlando Sentinel and Nashville's Tennessean (also former cheerleader for Gore and Kerry). They're pretty decent writeups, actually, and worth a read.  Romney is neither one's "ideal," which somehow makes the endorsements ring truer.  Here's a blurb from each, and both zero in on ... guess what, kids! ... the economy.  More after the jump:

Friday Fun: How to Eat A Cupcake

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Obama's Choice of Words on Benghazi "Not Optimal"

When Jon Stewart asked the President about the debacle in Libya, the president replied that "if four Americans get killed, it's not optimal."  Seriously?  Seriously?  "Not optimal"?  Add this "bumps in the road," yeah?  Ugh.

Truly, A Pressing Political Issue That Voters Care About

From the debate between the two (female) candidates for the US Senate slot from New York. So what do you think?  Sexist or no?  Or just silly and unserious (like most of the political "discourse" these days?)

Quote of the Day: Obama Campaign Talking Points

Here's the quote - I mean, tweet - of the day
Big Bird, binders, and dirty dishes. This isn't a presidential campaign; it's a student council election in elementary school.

Taiwanese News Animators Vs. Lance Armstrong

Quirky Asia Files: Samurai Swimming in Japan

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

At Least One Person's Excited About the Idea

LOL: Taiwanese News Animators Vs. Debate #2

Though I take issue with their giving the win to Obama, I am delighted that they explicitly called out dipstick du jour Candy Crowley for screwing up her interference on the Libya question. Still ... you include Romney's "binders full of women" but not Obama's "gangbangers"?  Come on.  (Oh, you may recall the hilarious animation for the first debate and for the VP showdown.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Post-Debate 2: A Tie, Mostly, and I'm Bored

The townhall format was messy, moderator Candy Crowley kept butting in, both sides will claim victory amid a sea of vague answers and platitudes, I am sick of politics, and I still have a ton of work to read and write before the night is over.  So here we go for some Supernatural streaming on Netflix, because it's almost Halloween, I love this show, and Dean Winchester is a pie-loving, wisecracking, demon-hunting babe.

LOL: Presidential Debate Drinking Game, Round 2

Well, we made it through Round 1 and the VP debate, so here's one game for Round 2 in townhall format tonight.  Still, I like the visual pop of this other game:

Fugly or Fabulous: A Fashion Statement in Luxembourg 1945

All I can say is, it takes some real guts to wear this into battle.  Kudos, sir.

China's "Leftover Women"

Well, I had said before that China's social engineering was going to blow up in its own face, so who's surprised that it is?  I've posted before about the "Sheng Nu," and the New York Times has a new piece about the phenomenon: "China's Leftover Women."  Wow, if that isn't a shot in the self-esteem, girls, I don't know what is.  Whoohoo, Childless Unmarried Monsters R Us!  Pfffffft.  Bonus: Did you know that according to China's Women's Federation, our expiration date is age 27?  Not, of course, that I ever give any credence to any of the social agitprop that comes out of there.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Headline Hilarity: Ukraine's Naval Dolphins

Life imitates Austin Powers with this fabulous headline: "Report: Ukraine Trains Dolphins With Friggin’ Pistols on Their Heads."

MM in the Kitchen: S'Mores Hot Cocoa

It's getting colder here in Nerdworld, which means it's time for something hot and yummy and chocolatey to warm us all up!

Felix Baumgartner Jumps Into History

Austrian Felix Baumgartner wows the world with the Red Bull Stratos Mission to the Edge of Space.  I watched the jump live, and it was amazing.  Kudos, sir!  UPDATE: BOTW reminds us that Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger did a massive jump too in the 1960s.  Kittinger was on hand for Baumgartner's leap today.

Nerd Analysis: "Shut up and play nice: How the Western world is limiting free speech"

Jonathan Turley, professor of public interest law at George Washington University, has a lengthy editorial on the subject that is more pressing than ever.  Here's a bit of his analysis:
The very right that laid the foundation for Western civilization is increasingly viewed as a nuisance, if not a threat. Whether speech is deemed inflammatory or hateful or discriminatory or simply false, society is denying speech rights in the name of tolerance, enforcing mutual respect through categorical censorship.
Whither Voltaire? As Turley notes elsewhere in his article, part of the whole point of free speech is the right to be offensive: "Of course, free speech is often precisely about pissing off other people — challenging social taboos or political values."  (You may recall that a while back I profiled a history professor who argued that renegades challenging social mores often resulted in more freedoms for everybody. You can read his new-ish book too.)

Totalitarian Communism Loses Another Useful Idiot

My opinion of historian and unrepentant Communist cheerleader and apologist Eric Hobsbawm is a matter of public record here.  Two weeks ago he shuffled off this mortal coil, and I didn't bother saying good riddance.  Still, here's an interesting little piece wondering whether you can be both a good historian and a Stalinist.  I think the real issue is how so many people didn't think that Hobsbawm's Communist totalitarian sympathies mattered.  Imagine, if you will, if he were an unrepentant Nazi apologist or Holocaust denier.  Nobody respectable in his august academic circles would dream of giving him the time of day ... well, almost nobody.

Nerd News: Florida's New Plan for Racially-Based Educational Goals

OK, how is this not both stupid and blatantly raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacist?
The Florida State Board of Education passed a plan that sets goals for students in math and reading based upon their race. On Tuesday, the board passed a revised strategic plan that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level. For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids to be proficient, whites at 86 percent, Hispanics at 80 percent and blacks at 74 percent. It also measures by other groupings, such as poverty and disabilities, reported the Palm Beach Post.
There's so much wrong with this that I don't even know where to start. The Florida State Board of Education sucks, and you can quote me on that.  

LOL: Facebook Snarkery At Its Finest

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Study in Contrasts: Security Issues

Nerd News: College In Transition


This Is Why I Gave Up Writing Satire

You'll remember that only a couple days ago I said that trying to campaign on Big Bird was fundamentally unserious and worthy of scorn.  

Now I read this, and it isn't satire as far as I can tell: "'Million Muppet March' Planned to Defend PBS After Romney Big Bird Comments."  Political culture is now utterly beyond parody.

Publishing the New Nobel Literature Prize Winner

This year's Nobel for lit goes to Chinese writer Mo Yan, and the English translation of his novel Sandalwood Death will be published by .... *drum roll* ... the University of Oklahoma Press!  That's quite a coup for the academic publishing house.

Wordling the VP Debate

What a great idea!  Someone's made word clouds from the responses that Biden and Ryan made. It's certainly one of the cooler attempts to analyze that headache-inducing display (alas for one typo in the image).  Too bad, though, that word clouds can't include smirks, guffaws, and interruptions. (Oh, and if you've never played with Wordle, you should!)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

LOL: Follow BidenSmirk on Twitter

You know how just about everybody hated Biden's grinning and smirking throughout the debate?  That smirk elicited bipartisan scorn.  Now the smirk, thanks to some anonymous wag, has its own Twitter account:

This VP Debate is a Biden Train Wreck

Good grief!  Biden is vacillating between being a creepily grinning clown and being a rude, condescending, interrupting jerk.  Meanwhile, Ryan's coming across as an earnest accountant trying patiently to explain math to a shrilly aggressive blockhead. Best line so far is Ryan's: "There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending."

As for the Biden performance?  This is symptomatic of the dynamic:
Ryan: *trying to explain tax cuts* 
Biden, flailing: "Nobody's ever done this!!!" 
Ryan, calmly: "Jack Kennedy did." 
Me: *facepalm*
I don't know how much longer I can watch this.  Martha Raddatz can't rein in Biden, and it's embarrassing.  Well, there's always the drinking game, Vodkapundit's drunkblogging this debate, and law prof Ann Althouse's liveblogging.  Given the choice between the cool, calm, earnest Ryan and the shrieking Biden, I know whom I'd pick.  Here's a news photo hot off the Internet:

Come on, Ryan, hammer Biden on the administration's indefensible record.  Right now he's smacking him with Obama's broken promises.  More of this, please, plus: "We have to tackle the debt crisis before the debt crisis tackles us."

You know, the only thing keeping me watching is simultaneously watching Twitter.

PS: Ryan notes that 23 million people are struggling for work.  Let me put it to you this way: That is the entire population of Taiwan.

Whoop!  I made it through the debate with my brains only slightly scrambled while my ears keep on ringing from Biden's endless screeching.  Raddatz did a horrible job moderating.  Ryan's closing statement was good.  I think he won but not crushingly, partially because of the endless awful interruptions and Biden's sheer disrespect.  Still, advantage Romney-Ryan.  Peace, out.  Oh - one more thing.  The Onion strikes again.   One more more thing: Thank goodness the drinking game wasn't "take a drink every time Biden smirks/laughs" or "take a drink every time Biden interrupts Ryan."  That'd be almost 1 drink for each of the 90 minutes of the debate.  

LOL: the VP Debate Drinking Game

Remember the presidential debate drinking game?  That was SO last week.  Here's a fresh round of alcohol poisoning to go with tonight's Joe Biden-vs.Paul Ryan cage match (which I am, by the way, expecting Ryan to dominate).  Click the image for a bigger version.  I'll say this right now: if we're supposed to take a drink every time someone says "Medicare," we'll all be passed out within minutes.

Oh, and for your amusement from the archives: back in 2008 I chose the Winchesters over the Biden-Palin debate.  (Can you believe it's been 4 years?)

Lara Logan on Al Qaeda & the Taliban in Afghanistan

CBS chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan has something to say.  You may remember that she was assaulted in Cairo when she was covering the Tahrir Square unrest.  By the way, that charming accent is South African.  Note: she's not technically giving a report as much as sharing her perspective and opinion, though some people seem to have a problem with that.


RELATED: Richard Engel in Egypt.  See too Dignified Rant's post "Is Afghanistan Doomed?"

Couch Potato Chronicles: the Ponds and the Winchesters

I haven't blogged about TV in a really, really long time, and I'm pretty darn sure that I shouldn't be doing it now, but I'm tired, I've been working a lot, and if I want to take a study break by talking about TV, well, it's my life.  Anyway, you may remember how a couple seasons ago I got tired of "Supernatural" and turned to "Doctor Who" instead.  The new seasons of both shows have hit the airwaves, and this time around, things have turned out a little differently.  The short version: given the choice between the Doctor and Dean Winchester, I'm going with Dean.  What, all of shiny time and space versus grim demon-hunting and family issues?  The TARDIS versus a black 1967 Impala?  A  Gallifreyan Time Lord versus a Kansas native with a GED and a snarky attitude?  I'll tell you why if you really want to know.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Study in Contrasts: Campaign Priorities

A thought in passing as I rush around with research deadlines.  After that first presidential debate, the Romney campaign gave us a major foreign policy speech.  The Obama campaign gave us an ad featuring a character from a children's TV program.  One of these campaigns is proving itself to be fundamentally and irremediably unserious. 

Speaking of striking contrasts ... Tomorrow is the VP debate, and I CAN'T WAIT


Saturday, October 06, 2012

LOL: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I tried not to say anything about this, but a girl's only got so much self-control, especially if she's a teacher.  If you want a good laugh, do take a look at the desperate Democrats' loopy excuse-making as they try to explain away Obama's miserable performance during the first debate - a defeat so blatantly obvious that across the Pacific it turned into a Taiwanese satire and here at home the New Yorker has come up with a zinger of a cover (somewhere Clint Eastwood is smiling).  My personal favorite excuses are the utterly ludicrous accusations that Obama lost because he was suffering from altitude sickness in Denver or that he lost because Romney had a cheat sheet - which turned out to be just a hanky. (Oh, and there's now a crazy theory floating around that Obama meant to lose as part of some cunning strategy.  Seriously?  "I totally meant to do that!"  Yeah, right.)

Come on!  I teach a lot of students, and this entire scenario is all too familiar.

Follow-Up: New York's Stuy Entrance Exam Controversy

I had noted the controversy here.  Here's a follow-up in the form of gentle reader and Stuy alum Eric's comment on the NAACP "othering" Asians in the Stuy entrance exam kerfuffle. Here's a blurb:
The NAACP isn’t contesting the neutrality of the exam. ... their claim is based on the result. The problem is the NAACP’s solution calls for race-based disparate treatment, which is a worse civil rights violation than disparate impact. 
I’m not angling towards separation. I’m calling out the NAACP for separating Asians. I agree that we should be able to trust the NAACP to guard the interests of Asian children – not ‘other’ and sacrifice Asians in order to favor other minority groups.  
You know what’s insulting? Read the NAACP complaint and see how it marginalizes Asians with the rhetorical trick of grouping together “either whites or Asian Americans”.

Meet the Biblioburro of La Gloria, Colombia

Here's the story of schoolteacher Luis Soriano, his burro, and an unusual library.  

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Senkaku Spat and the Asian Cold War


Friday Fun: Gangnam Style at West Point and Annapolis

It's like the Army-Navy Game ... with a crazier soundtrack and sassier moves.  Pick sides and enjoy ... or just enjoy, period.  Oh, you know there's long history of warriors dancing in different cultures and time periods, but I'll bet they never did anything quite like this.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Taiwanese News Animators Comment on the First Debate

Disgustingly Cute: Candid Amazement

Congratulations and good luck, you crazy kids!

"Standing Like A Girl" Only Works If (A) You're A Girl and (B) You're Wearing Awesome Heels

That's my response to this.  OK, we all know that posture matters in public speaking.  Now I don't care if I sound "sexist" or whatever, so here's my bit of advice: If you're stuck at a podium, guys, you shouldn't put up a foot because it looks stupid and sloppy.  Nobody should, really, because it's a fidget.  

BUT if you're a girl, you can get away with it once a speech/presentation 

  • if you're wearing beautiful heels (and preferably have good ankles and/or great stems) and 
  • if you do it slowly and gracefully and 
  • if you don't also slouch or break eye contact with the audience.
I've done it myself on occasion for the simple reason that high heels can be uncomfortable and it helps sometimes to shift your weight on those teetering structures.  But having said that, I freely admit that it's not fair and it's gendered and all, but if you're a guy in wingtips, you should not do this.  (Besides, you don't have the "high heels hurt" reasoning.  What's your excuse?)

Post-Debate: Romney 1, Obama 0

How do I know?  I'm logged into my usual social media platforms, and now that the debate's over, there has been absolute dead silence from my lefty, Obama-cheerleading friends.  No gloating.  No boasting.  No triumphal posturing.  Not even any spin.  There's TOTAL SILENCE.  And silence from this bunch of usually all-too-vocal lefties speaks volumes.  

Sure, during the debate there was the big stream of real-time critiques and complaints about Romney, but even in the middle of it, folks were unenthusiastic about Obama ... and right at the end, one lefty friend flat-out admitted that Romney was the better debater.  Oh, that must have been hard to say, but my buddy's a good honest person.  

Now I'm surveying the feedback from various sources, and - wow - the general consensus opinion from all around, including major media outlets, is that Romney won.  Shoot, even hard-core lefty Bill Maher admitted that his guy was in trouble.  Look, you all know that I'm not a huge Romney fan, but tonight he looked far more comfortable and  in command than Obama, who looked as though he was having no fun at all and came across as substantially deflated.  The glory days of 2008 are long gone, and his record is a liability.

Onto the VP debate between Ryan and Biden!  It's going to be a train wreck.  A highly entertaining one too, I hope.  Don't disappoint me, Crazy Uncle Joe.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Shelling Across the Syrian-Turkish Border

Shots fired both ways across the Syrian-Turkish borders, and tonight Turkey has called for UN action (though what that might be is unclear at the moment).  From the letter delivered to the Security Council by the Turkish envoy Ertugrul Apakan:
"This is an act of aggression by Syria against Turkey. It constitutes a flagrant violation of international law as well as a breach of international peace and security."
Turkey, you'll recall, has been a member of NATO for 60 years.  Anyway ... Good grief, people.  I was hoping that the only bombshells of the day would be the purely verbal ones lobbed in the presidential debate.

LOL: the Presidential Debate Drinking Game

Well, the first debate is tonight, and I'm regarding it with a cynical eye, so here's my comment on the whole circus of "gotcha!" coverage, zingers, cheap shots, loaded questions, tendentious non-answers, errors, and gaffes.  (Surely you weren't thinking that this is a real discussion of policy, were you? )  

So!  To help you make it through what's sure to be an awful night, here's the Presidential Debate Drinking Game, my lovelies.  At least there's not the stipulation to take a drink every time your BS detector goes off, or you'll assuredly get alcohol poisoning within mere minutes.  Click to enlarge and remember - this is just a joke!

Newsflash: China's One-Child Policy Is Wreaking Social Havoc

To which headline I say ... WELL, DUH!  What the hell did you think was going to happen?  While we're at this, let me once more bang my drum about the horrifying human cost of this entire enterprise, including forced abortions on unwilling women, the selling of babies ...

Jon Stewart Vs. the Benghazi Debacle

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Geek Fun: The John Scalzi vs. Wil Wheaton Twitter Feud

It's all in good fun.  Enjoy!

Quote of the Day: China, Japan, and the Senkakus

Via View from Taiwan, here is a bit from a  recent Gordon Chang article:
Because senior Party leaders are failing to maintain unity at home, it’s likely they will continue to press Tokyo over their claims to the Senkakus.  In recent weeks, Beijing has upped the stakes by sending patrol vessels and threatening to flood the disputed area with “more than 1,000” craft. 
Unfortunately, Beijing in recent years has lost its ability to compromise its territorial claims, some of which are outlandish.  Beijing has laid down a marker for itself and cannot yield an inch.  This makes each claim a flashpoint. 
And Tokyo is beginning to realize there is no appeasing Chinese leaders.  On the 14th, the official China Daily, by making a reference to Kume in the Ryukyus, laid the historical groundwork for raising a claim on that Japanese island chain, which is near the Senkakus.  Said Hissho Yanai, a Japanese activist, to the New York Times, “If we let them have the Senkaku Islands, they’ll come after all of Okinawa next.” 
In fact, Beijing officials have talked about taking the Ryukyus after they get the Senkakus.  

Monday, October 01, 2012

Awesome: The Hexaflexagon!

Quirky Euro Files: France's Bronze Ode to Defeat

I ... I got nothin'.

Rant: "My Racial Background Is None of Your Business"

Here's a rant from someone who's been asked that question once too many times. 

IKEA Catalogs' Airbrushed Women

Nope, it's not that IKEA airbrushed the ladies so they have ridiculous bodies in some catalogs.  It's that IKEA airbrushed the ladies OUT entirely in some catalogs meant for the Saudi market.  IKEA has since apologized.  As it should!

Is the Chinese Communist Party Doomed?

Professor Minxin Pei has a question: Is the CCP doomed?  It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.  Still, here's a thought - change or die:
The answer to the question of how a one-party regime can manage its own political transformation to save itself is more interesting and complicated. 
Essentially, there are two paths for such regimes: the Soviet route to certain self-destruction, and the Taiwan-Mexican route to self-renewal and transformation.

Monday Therapy: Office Meeting