Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rant: Ma Ying-jeou Is A Dirtbag

We all already knew that, but it's cathartic occasionally to say so.

Forgotten History: The French in Mali 100 Years Ago

Photos from a past French involvement in Mali.

Quote of the Day: Spengler on Egypt and the Arab Spring

The whole thing is worth a read, but here's the quote of the day:
The foreign policy establishment told us that the Arab Spring was the dawn of a glorious new era of democracy in that part of the world. The establishment was dead wrong.
Look, sometimes even the best minds in foreign policy/Middle Eastern studies have no consensus what's going on.  Besides, what are you going to do if the Foreign Office no longer understands foreign affairs?

Tech News: the Dreamliner Is Pretty Much Screwed

Back to the drawing board?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Exposing North Korea's Secret Prison Camps

Pyongyang can issue all the denials it wants, but Google Earth satellite imagery tells its own damning story.  You may remember this harrowing account and this.  Arguably the entire country is one vast prison camp.

Quote of the Day: David Mamet on Communism

Playwright David Mamet has just written a piece for the Daily BeastIt's all worth a look, and it gives us the quote of the day:
Karl Marx summed up Communism as “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” This is a good, pithy saying, which, in practice, has succeeded in bringing, upon those under its sway, misery, poverty, rape, torture, slavery, and death.  
For the saying implies but does not name the effective agency of its supposed utopia. The agency is called “The State,” and the motto, fleshed out, for the benefit of the easily confused must read “The State will take from each according to his ability: the State will give to each according to his needs.” “Needs and abilities” are, of course, subjective. So the operative statement may be reduced to “the State shall take, the State shall give.”
It's depressing just how readily this historical fact has been forgotten/buried by statist educators, activists, and politicians.

Happy Australia Day!

G'day, mate!

Friday, January 25, 2013

LOL: Troll Your History Class

History teachers will have no cause to love Hillary Clinton. She's now given every snarky kid the perfect response.  See, for instance:
Ordering an invasion of the Bay of Pigs?
What difference, at this point, does it make?
Bombardment of Fort Sumter?
What difference, at this point, does it make?
Allowing slavery to continue in the Louisiana Territory?
What difference, at this point, does it make?
Destruction of tea belonging to the East India Company?
What difference, at this point, does it make?

Friday Fun: Turnabout Is Fair Play In Snowball Fights

Yes, it is!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"What Difference Does It Make?" The Difference Between the Truth and a Lie, Madame Secretary

That Benghazi hearing was disgraceful. 

Recall this and this too. Oh, and this. UPDATE: Cartoonist Michael Ramirez nails it.

Geek News: What Happens When Authorities Don't Understand Technology?

Nothing good, my digital darlings.  Get ready for increasing clashes of the geek culture war.  SOPA/PIPA was just one battle, since Luddite authorities have never let their own ignorance stand in the way of concocting idiotic, heavy-handed "responses" to things they don't understand.  Here's a bit from the linked post:
We've obviously been covering a lot about Aaron Swartz lately, but his case is really just one of many similar cases involving people in positions of authority who simply don't understand basic technology, but feel that something must be illegal because they try to overlay an analog view on a digital world.

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: 5-Year-Old Girl Criminal

I yield to nobody in my hatred of the mouthless cartoon cat, but this news item is insane.  The monstrosity this time isn't a Hello Kitty-themed object but the behavior of "adults" who should know better.  Headline: "Pennsylvania kindergartener uses Hello Kitty bubble-gun at school, suspended for 'terrorist threat.'"  

A threat? It's a pink plastic toy that makes soap bubbles, for goodness sake!  The little girl's parents are considering a lawsuit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Movie Review: "Gangster Squad" (2013)

LA Inconsequential

Whether or not you like this movie depends heavily on your expectations.  If you're looking for actual, serious (neo-)noir or mob action, you won't find it.  If you want a bit of colorfully pulpy disposable genre entertainment dolled up as a vintage fashion show with shootouts, then you just might have come to the right place.

Quote of the Day: Thoughts on Gun Control by a Chinese Dissident

Some food for thought as the gun control debate rolls on: 
"Do you know that the Chinese Constitution guarantees almost all the nice things we have here? It is written that Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of speech and religion, they have human and property rights, and that such rights cannot be taken away without due process of the law. And do you know what? Chinese people do not have the right to keep and bear arms. I assure you all those nice guarantees are not worth the paper they are printed on, because when the government has all the guns, they have all the rights. I was not born a citizen of the United States. I was naturalized in 2007. In 2008, I became a proud gun owner. To me, a rifle is not for sporting or hunting; it is an instrument of freedom. It guarantees that I cannot be coerced, that I have free will, and that I am a free man."
Here's the source:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Zealand Environmentalist Wants to Ban Pet Cats

Via Alessandra, this bit of lunacy:  Some guy named Gareth Morgan wants to stop New Zealanders from keeping pet cats. Good luck with that, pal.  You can have my kittens ... when you pry them out of my cold, dead hand!

I also give you the incomparable Grumpy Cat herself, memed for your entertainment:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mark Steyn, Mark Twain, and the $ 1 Trillion Coin

Do read.  Now I want to read that Twain story!

LOL: The "Mercy" Demotivator

Sometimes it takes a joke to drive home a very serious point, doesn't it?

Cartography Caper: China to Publish New Map of Its Territories

Expect lots of tendentious claims on that map, and I'm not only talking about the Senkaku islands.  It's almost like Beijing is actively trying to tick off its neighbors.   

Best comment yet: View from Taiwan - "Rumor has it the map will include the Andromeda galaxy, Ringworld, and areas to be named south of Gondor."

A Little Geographical Winter Weather Humor

Because it is freezing here!  I'm sure it's also wintry where you are too.  Snowfall totals, though, do differ ...  Click to enlarge the image.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Edupunk Nerd News: An Interview with Salman Khan

Fascinating interview with the brains behind Khan Academy.  

I should add my own caveat: the format of Khan Academy's short videos is much more suited to math and science than to humanities like history once you get past mere dates and names.

Headline of the Day: I'm Not Even Going To Ask

Seen in the Dublin Metro Herald newspaper: "China Ferrari sex orgy death crash."

Monday Therapy: One Man "Les Misérables"

Whether or not you like the movie of the musical, you might be entertained by this: 

Snow in Jerusalem

Unusual ... and beautiful.  Check out the photos.  The image of snow-covered palm trees is especially striking, and the one of Netanyahu throwing snowballs darn amusing.  You know, wouldn't it be nice if everyone could settle their differences with one epic snowball fight and then hot cocoa afterwards?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mali and the Return of Françafrique

Things are getting interesting.

Quote of the Day: Greenie Hysteria

... the habit of reading every warm spike and every storm as fresh confirmation of the coming apocalypse needs to stop. It’s bad science and it’s bad politics. Green hysteria is more likely to paralyze us then help us take the kind of steps we need to take towards sustainability. 
The gravest danger to Earth these days isn’t climate skepticism; it’s the broken, Malthusian and statist green policy imagination. Wedded to grandiose and unworkable “solutions”, greens feel they must push the panic button at every opportunity to stampede the world into embracing an unworkable and unsustainable policy agenda.
Well, I don't feel the urge to panic and adopt a Stone Age lifestyle if the New York Times is shutting down its environment desk and if Al Gore, that blowhard high priest of the Green religion, feels it's OK to sell out to Al Jazeera for a sweet, sweet personal profit of $100 million.  

LOL: Cookie Monster

Who doesn't love delicious Girl Scout cookies?  Here's a hilarious story.  The fact that the storyteller looks scrumptious himself is beside the point, right?


Friday, January 11, 2013

The 2013 Index of Economic Freedom

We're Number 10, which means we rank as "Mostly Free" instead of "Free" and got whipped by
  1. Hong Kong
  2. Singapore
  3. Australia
  4. New Zealand
  5. Switzerland
  6. Canada
  7. Chile
  8. Mauritius
  9. Denmark
From the blurb about the US ranking:
The United States, with an economic freedom score of 76, has lost ground again in the 2013 Index. Its score is 0.3 point lower than last year, with declines in monetary freedom, business freedom, labor freedom, and fiscal freedom. 
Come on, people!  We have got to do better than this!

Schadenfreude, Straight Up

Yes indeedy.  Kudos to Ben Shapiro.  Piers Morgan and his ilk get the "dirtbag du jour" tag.  I make it a matter of standard practice not to give Morgan and his bullying, intellectually dishonest, attention-whoring, gutter-media kind any time on my blog, but Shapiro's performance is too gorgeous to let pass in silence.  

LOL: Honest Titles for 2013's Oscar Nominated Movies

Here's a whole list of snarky and "more accurate" titles.  I loved Argo (and where the heck is the Best Director nomination for Ben Affleck, Academy?  At least Alan Arkin got a nomination for Best Supporting Actor), but this made me laugh.  Oh, Daredevil was pretty darn horrible.

Friday Fun Video: An Honest Trailer for "Inception"

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nerd News: The Comic and the Campus

Hey, at least the commencement speech would be funny:
In a November 27 Jimmy Kimmel Live episode, the titular host poked fun at the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research at HSU [Humboldt State University], jesting that to get into the school “you have to fail a lot of very rigorous drug tests.” He even included a parody promotional video that said prospective students could expect such exciting career options as pizza delivery, snowboard rentals, living in a van and selling friendship bracelets and patchouli oil, and Olympic swimming. Now the school wants the noted talk show host to visit the school and/or deliver the commencement speech.

Love and Loss in 16th-Century Korea

The excavation of a Korean tomb from 1586 yields a remarkable (and remarkably moving) find.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Censorship Protests in China

Well, looky here:
Protests by journalists over alleged heavy-handed censorship at one of China's most daring newspapers have garnered high-profile support in the media and blogosphere, with prominent academics, bloggers and even movie stars joining in. 
... On Monday, several hundred protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, to vent their anger at the reworking of a New Year's editorial that originally called for greater legal rights but ended up as a celebration of the government's achievements.
Here also are quotations from two people at the protest:
"Readers should decide whether content is good or bad. It isn't for officials to judge," said Ah Qiang, a writer and public-rights activist who attended Monday's protest. "Everyone knows about media censorship, and for the most part everyone has learned to deal with it. But this time they crossed a line and that caused people to unleash a lot of pent-up frustration." 
"I was deeply moved," said Ye Du, a dissident writer who spent 2½ hours at the protest before being forcibly taken home by state security agents. "This wasn't just about Southern Weekly. It was about Chinese people's desire for more political freedom."

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Imaging Mao's Famine

A historian wonders: Where is the photographic evidence of Mao's disaster?  In the Great Leap Forward (Into the Abyss), at least 45 million people died of starvation and oppression over some 4 years of absolute hell on earth, but visual documentation is largely lacking.  Honestly, how does it look that the some officials in the Soviet Union was more forthcoming about the murderous famine that Stalin created in Ukraine?

One wonders, though, whether if we ever saw the Chinese photos, we would be thoroughly sickened.  The end of the article details the only photo of the famine that the author ever saw, and the description is horrifying.  

UPDATE: No photos of the Great Famine, but you can still get an eyeful of the Communist propaganda posters from the same period.  Surreal.

A Dad's Advice on Marriage

Read this letter!  The P.S. is absolutely delightful.

Awesome: Dolphin Stampede

Take a look at this glorious scene off the coast of southern California:

Monday, January 07, 2013

Sing It: "Rubber Ducky, You're the One!"

Say "G'day!" to this huge new visitor to Sydney Harbor.

Movie Review: "Les Misérables" (2012)

Pitch (Im)perfect.

Like his character Jean Valjean hefting massive weights by sheer force of will, Hugh Jackman almost singlehandedly carries the weight of this ambitious, overstuffed, bombastic film adaptation of the international megahit musical.  It is up to you, though, to decide whether Jackman's effort is reminiscent more of Atlas or of Sisyphus. Oh, and Academy?  Give Anne Hathaway her Best Supporting Actress statuette and get it over with already.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

It's a brand new year!  Let's make the most of it, darlings!  First things first, though: I need to make another pot of coffee.  My friends and I were up waaaaaaaaaaaaay too late last night. FUNFUNFUN, but we're paying for it now.