Friday, May 31, 2013

The Forgotten Rule of Interventions

If you don't know what's going on in a fight, don't get involved.  Seriously, I can't think of a better metaphor for this than the linked news item.

Quote of the Day: Eric Holder's "Off the Record" Meeting

Here's an understatement:
"There is an uncomfortable irony in the fact that an attorney general investigating his policy for spying on the media is asking the media to keep his words secret."
Y'THINK?  Besides, when you find that media outlets from the New York Times to Fox News are refusing to go to your meeting, you're doing it wrong.  As for the few outlets who are going to the Holder meeting, they should probably leak everything immediately.  

They See Me Rollin'; They Hatin'

Say cheese!  It's the annual dairy-inspired dementia in Gloucester, England!

Friday Fun Video: Listening

Monday, May 27, 2013

Closing Thoughts for Memorial Day

Something to ponder:
The Americans who have fallen in battle, and especially those who have fallen since 9/11, demand more from us than our pity. Their sacrifice demands that we live up to the values for which they gave their lives. Their memory demands that we embrace the generosity with which they placed themselves in harm’s way for our sake and that we dedicate ourselves to the values of liberty and toleration whose banners they followed to the end of the world. 
Memorial Day must also be a day of dedication; if the dead do not inspire us, we have not grasped the meaning that shaped their lives.

The Washington Post Jumps the Shark

You all know that I appreciate beautiful shoes as much as the next girl, but really, Washington Post?  When we have Scandal-a-palooza blowing up all around us on multiple fronts, with ramifications for everything from press freedom to foreign policy, this is what you print?  

I personally don't give a good gorram if this person, as the news story drools, "wears Manolo Blahniks and Christian Louboutins into the Oval Office."   She is not Carrie Bradshaw, and this is not Sex and the City: White House Edition.

I am pleased to note, though, that when I read the story, the very first reader comment on the bottom was this:
6:55 PM EDT
Without a doubt, the stupidest piece I've ever read in the Washington Post.
Stupid with a side of sexism.  All together now to the WaPo: PFFFFFFFTTTTTTT!!!!!

Letters From the Pacific Theater

As we observe Memorial Day, here's a bit of fascinating history in the form of beautiful correspondence sent by Corporal Jack Fogarty from the Army's 98th Evacuation Hospital in World War II.  More here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quote of the Day: On Obama and Journalism

The Obama administration has used the Espionage Act against more cases of whistleblowing to the press than all other Presidents combined. 
... Obama said that "journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs," but that the "focus must be on those who break the law." Oh really? Then why did your own DOJ claim that a journalist was an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator for reporting on a leak -- just like tons of other reporters?  
President Obama sounds like someone campaigning against his own policies. Either Eric Holder and the DOJ have "gone rogue" or the President is hastily pretending that his administration is not doing what it clearly has been doing for years.

Friday Fun Video: Jon Stewart Vs. IRS Scandal

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Captain Shirk: Francesco Schettino Now On Trial

Schettino, you'll recall, is the despicable captain of the Costa Concordia.  Yes, the captain who abandoned his ship, crew, and passengers when it capsized.  (Remember this?)  The dirtbag is now on trial for manslaughter.

Ain't No Mountain High Enough: Yuichiro Miura's Epic Climb

At 80 years old, this Japanese extreme athlete is now officially the oldest man ever to climb Everest.  Kudos, sir!  There's some proof right there that you're never too old to kick ass!

Gee, What Do You Think?

Here's the question being undertaken by two recent scholarly books:
Modern anthropological research may be settling the great debate between the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes and the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Was the state of nature a “war of every man against every man” in which life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” as Hobbes wrote? Or did “savages” live in utopian bliss, thanks to “the tranquility of their passions and their ignorance of vice,” as Rousseau believed?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Stephen Colbert, Commencement Speaker

The comedian gave the speech at the University of Virginia's Commencement Exercises:

"You know this is an impressive institution because it rejected my application."

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Brave Marine, a Beautiful Blonde, and a Sweet Reunion

Sealed with a kiss too.  I think I have something in my eye.  

Quote of the Day: "Welcome to Dumb and Dumber."

Via the Other McCain, this quotation by CBS journalist Bob Schieffer is about Scandal-a-Palooza, and it's quite long (hence the fold), but it's worth a look:

Satire Alert: May Madness Scandal-a-Palooza Brackets

March Madness is (sadly) finished, but a wag at Ricochet has something new for us to play with!  Click to enlarge so you can see all the chicanery, hubris, and moral laxity:

"I am not a crook."

Caveat: This is a joke.  I do NOT support irresponsible talk about actual impeachment efforts, because - let's face it - they're doomed to fail and will only backfire. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

LOL: Mortarboard Message

Ah, graduation season, when undergrads often decorate their traditional academic regalia.  Kudos to the girl who did this:

A Lannister always pays his debts.

Say Cheese: The 25th Annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest!

Spectacular!  I think my favorite is the little fennec fox in Morocco, along with the cheetah running to catch up with his companions ("Wait for meeeeeeeee!").

Spinning Scandal-a-Palooza

I stumbled across this hilarious image while news-searching for something else entirely, but it's so pointedly relevant that I simply must post it.  (Seriously, does Obama press secretary Jay Carney even listen to himself?)

Ask Not For Whom the IRS Trolls. It Trolls For Thee.

While everybody in a justified uproar about the IRS scandal (and the hearings this week only made its wretched "leadership" look worse), there's a new response/"defense" making the rounds on social media, and I just have to shake my head.  Some lefty people are actually defending the IRS.  They do this despite the fact that the IRS confessed to purposefully going after particular organizations based specifically on their political (and now apparently even religious) convictions.  And you don't think this sort of behavior is wrong?  Really?  Really?

Apparently these folks are fine with the capricious abuse of power as long as it's their team doing the abusing.  The overarching principle that "abuse of power is bad" seems to go right past them.  Partisan ideology makes people blind, blind, blind.  Guys, the government beast that today bites the neighbor whom you hate can tomorrow just as easily bite you.

I've give you this as the quote of the day:
The IRS targeting citizens for political reasons is not simply another Washington scandal. At issue is something that strikes at the very heart of who we are as a people, what we believe as Americans and what this country has always stood for. 
The First Amendment was written to protect many different types of expression. But the Founding Fathers' primary concern -- and a first principle for every generation of Americans that followed -- was the protection of political speech. Apparently, the IRS was even targeting people who criticized how the country was being run. 
Protecting citizens' right to speak out against their government has always been an integral part of what separates us from tyrannical regimes. What the IRS did is how the KGB used to target dissidents. It is how they deal with troublemakers in China. 
It is not how we treat American citizens. Our Constitution guarantees it. 
... This is not about Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal. It is about arrogant and unrestrained government vs. the rule of law. 

800 New Saints in Otranto, Italy

I missed this story when it first appeared, but it's remarkable.  Do read.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nerd News/Rant Update: the AAAS and BDS

I had ranted previously here, and now Inside Higher Ed has an open letter to the AAAS from a polisci professor.  Here's a piece of it as he slams the AAAS resolution for passing with suspicious unanimity:
I cannot resist asking: Are you at all embarrassed? 
... Reasonable people disagree about the Middle East, about the advisability of academic boycotts, and about how the AAAS can best serve Asian Americans. 
But that is precisely what makes the complete absence of a public conversation about these matters among Asian Americanists, a conversation with at least two sides, so peculiar. How can a group purporting to stand for the “highest professional standard of excellence in teaching and research” permit itself to appear so close-minded?
I do note with some satisfaction that the American Association of University Professors has rejected the AAAS's move and that the AAUP on principle opposes all academic boycotts. (As it should.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Department of Education Fails Voltaire 101

Geez, I hate the DOE.  How many times do I have to say it?  YOU DON'T GIVE UP YOUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS WHEN YOU STEP ONTO CAMPUS.  Campus speech codes are evil, and this latest version even more evil than before.  Let the lawsuits begin!  

Satire Except It's Kind of Not: The Onion On College Grads

It's graduation season on college campuses all over the nation, so cue up "Pomp and Circumstance"!  Given that, along with my ongoing jeremiads about how the young are getting screwed and will go on getting screwed, this "satirical" Onion headline makes you laugh ... uncomfortably: "Study Finds College Education Leaves Majority Of Graduates Unprepared To Carry Entire American Economic Recovery."


It's getting to the point where it's hard to keep track of all these exploding government scandals (wow, the snarky guys at Ace of Spades totally called it today).  There's too much fresh hell going on (need a scorecard?).  Here's your quote of the day, complete with awesome Arrested Development reference:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Glorious: Commander Hadfield's "Space Oddity"

The International Space Station's utterly delightful Canadian commander is set to come back home to Earth tonight, and he caps his months-long reign of awesomeness with this, the first music video from space:

Quote of the Day: On "Zero Tolerance" Policies In Schools

Why, yes:
One of the problems with these policies is that they have this tough-sounding name (ZERO tolerance!), and enforcers of them somehow get it in their heads that their absurdly literal interpretations indicate discipline and seriousness. In reality, these actions trivialize the problem and make the administrators who enforce them look like buffoons. 
While “Zero Tolerance” does aptly describe such policies, it’s not the only name that fits. It would be just as meaningful to call them “Zero Discretion” policies, seeing as none is called for, or “Zero Responsibility” policies, since none is assumed. But clearly the best name for such rules would be “Zero Intelligence” policies, seeing as none is required or used.
I hate edu-crats.

Monday Therapy: Impromptu Concert

From Jay Leno and "The Tonight Show" comes a hilarious set-up that yields this evidence that some of the best comedy isn't done by professionals:

Sir Richard Branson Loses A Bet

And how!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mommie Dearest: Holiday Fun

It's Mother's Day, the holiday that raises mommy issues and familial guilt to a commercialized art form!  I have to say, though, that there's only so much I can take of seeing saccharine-sweet greeting cards, pastel bouquets, and recipes for "breakfast in bed."  (Of course, I'm a childless unmarried monster, so what do I know?  There's no holiday for us, haha.)

Anyway, since mom-child relationships are almost certainly a little conflicted, here's some hilarious perspective.  As complicated as those ties might be, they could have been a lot worse (language warning for one clip):

Mark Steyn on the Benghazi Debacle

Pretty much what I want to say, only with far more flair. A bon mot
"The government dispatched more firepower to arrest Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in Los Angeles than it did to protect its mission in Benghazi."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Photo of the Day: Prince Harry at Arlington

Via Arlington National Cemetery's Facebook page, this photo of the note left by the visiting prince, signing as "Captain Harry Wales."

Movie Review: "Iron Man 3"

Twist and Shout.

The third installment in the Iron Man standalone movies, Iron Man 3 delivers plenty of what we've come to expect and love from the irreplaceable Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark - throwaway quips, irrepressible sass, and bucketloads of personal charisma.  That's good, because the storyline has some problems, and logic is not its friend, especially in the third act.  Better than 2010's Iron Man 2, but not as good as the original 2008 Iron Man (admittedly, how could it be?), on the strength of its leading man Iron Man 3 still kicks off the much-awaited summer blockbuster popcorn movie season with plenty of color and action.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Public Service Announcement: On Being Gracious

Graciousness is an endangered trait these days, and I am all for bringing it back.  This is excellent stuff here and valuable life advice.  A bit of it:
Remember that the only representation of you, no matter what your station, is you — your presentation, your demeanor. You simply must attend. Stand when someone enters the room, especially if you are lowly and he is the boss, and even if the reverse is true. Look them in the eye. Ask yourself: Does anybody need an introduction? If so, before you say one word about business, introduce them to others with pleasure in your voice. If you can't muster enthusiasm for the people you happen upon in life, then you cannot be gracious. Remember, true graciousness demands that you have time for others.
A friend of mine once said that there are really two commandments in life: (1) Be Cool, and (2) Don't Be A Jerk.  Being gracious and courteous is, I'll argue, part of being cool. 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Germany's Newest Political Party

... is Euroskeptic.  People are falling out of love with the European project?

Disgustingly Cute: I've Got You Covered

Take a look at this charming photo of two Indonesian schoolboys and their makeshift umbrella, a giant banana leaf. Look at those smiles!  Click image for full cuteness.

Professor Donald Kagan on A Liberal Education

Yale's great historian gives his farewell lecture.  Do listen.

Formosan Clouded Leopard Officially Declared Extinct

A 4-year-long search by zoologists has turned up no traces.  What a terrible loss of a beautiful animal.  You can take a look at a still-living cousin here.

Quote of the Day: Benghazi and the Big Picture

A reminder that Benghazi occurred in the context of major lapses in foreign policy:
We are interested in seeing some political accountability for what increasingly looks like a deliberate attempt to mislead the American people on a matter of national security for the sake of political gain, but we care even more about a serious national discussion about our Middle East strategy.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Benghazi Debacle: Hicks' Testimony

Breaking from Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News:
The deputy of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens has told congressional investigators that a team of Special Forces prepared to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks was forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command South Africa. 
The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. 

Monday Therapy: Design Jargon BS

It's more or less the business version of Nerdish.  Now here's a blog that collects examples from the real world! For instance:
"We formulated a Brand Platform recommendation and an executive consultant facilitated a session to gather input from the working team to refine and finalize the Brand Platform."

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Nerd News: Got a Doctorate in Disgrace? Be a Professor!


Religious Freedom Around the World: the 2013 Report

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s annual report is out (in PDF).   I'm just going to quote part of its assessment of China:
The Chinese government continues to perpetrate particularly severe violations of the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief. Religious groups and individuals considered to threaten national security or social harmony, or whose practices are deemed beyond the vague legal definition of “normal religious activities,” are illegal and face severe restrictions, harassment, detention, imprisonment, and other abuses. Religious freedom conditions for Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims remain particularly acute, as the government broadened its efforts to discredit and imprison religious leaders, control the selection of clergy, ban certain religious gatherings, and control the distribution of religious literature by members of these groups. The government also detained over a thousand unregistered Protestants in the past year, closed “illegal” meeting points, and prohibited public worship activities. Unregistered Catholic clergy remain in detention or disappeared.

From Russia With Love

Via Neatorama comes this great collection of video clips from Russian dash cams.  You know, the news lately has been so full of awful reports, so jammed with terrible people doing terrible things.  We could all use a reminder that (a) there are good people out there doing good things, and (b) we should be among them.  Pretty darn fitting for a Sunday, actually.  Enjoy some lovely video, stay positive, and go do some good, gentle reader!   (PS: Chivalry lives!)

I think I have something in my eye.

Go Barefoot Already

You all know that I love shoes, but ... DO NOT WANT!

#12, though, looks like something Galadriel would wear to the Middle Earth Prom or something.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Horsin' Around: "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved"

Today we have the most exciting two minutes in sports!  Eat and drink and be merry, as you enjoy accordingly.  

While I do love roses myself, I prefer not to run for them myself ... but I think I know which horse I'm rooting for!

May the Fourth Be With You (Or Not)

The Empire has something to say about all you Jedis and rebels celebrating the day:

Nerds Behaving Badly: Prominent Scholar Banned From Rutgers Campus

What does one make of stuff like this?  It begins with "A dispute involving Robert Trivers, a well-known evolutionary theorist at Rutgers U. at New Brunswick, escalated from claims of fraud to accusations of threatening behavior."

Mystery Meat in China Has Been Disgustingly Demystified

And you thought the UK horsemeat scandal was bad!  Get an eyeful of this:
More than 900 people have been arrested in China for selling fake or tainted meat in the last three months, state media say.  Officials say they uncovered almost 400 such cases and seized more than 20,000 tonnes of fake meat. In one case, the suspects made fake mutton from foxes, mink and rats after adding chemicals, state media said.
I'm pretty sure the thing is actually worse than this.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Screw It, I'm Going To See "Iron Man 3" With My Peeps

See you later, darlings!  How I loooooove Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. 

Nerd News + Rant: The Association for Asian American Studies Wants to Boycott Israel

At its most recent Nerdmoot, the AAAS passed a resolution to this effect and became the first American professional academic organization to support this.  I'm not a member of the AAAS, but that's not going to stop me from hating on the decision anyway.  Rant follows after the fold.

Friday Geek Fun Video: "A Boy And His Atom"

Via the Presurfer: From playful nanophysicists at IBM Research comes the world's tiniest stop-motion film, starring thousands of carbon monoxide molecules magnified 100 million times!  (Don't miss the "making of" video.)

Rescue Me

Tales of real-life heroism and derring-do from 1939 to 2009.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

New Canadian Currency Is Out of This World

Cmdr. Chris Hadfield has the bully pulpit from the ISS, and he's turned into Canada's best PR officer ever.  Check out his latest for the Bank of Canada.  As Geekosystem gushes, "The New Canadian Five Dollar Bill Has Space Robots on It, Makes Presidents Look Lame."  

Seriously, though, if you haven't been following Hadfield's exploits on YouTube and on Twitter, you've been missing out on all sorts of great stuff (like this exchange or this holiday-themed musical offering).

May Day

Since 2007, Ilya Somin has treated today as a day to remember the victims of Communism.  Let us continue and join in.

(I can't help adding that one of my friends actually flaunted the hammer and sickle today.  I felt sick.  Geez, woman!  Would you so blithely flaunt the swastika?)