Saturday, August 31, 2013

Quote of the Day: Syria and "Strategic Oblivion"

The attacks, then, will likely not degrade or deter anything really; they will be offered up only as a safety net to catch the falling reputation of the President as it drops toward the nether regions of strategic oblivion.
Our "foreign policy" in a nutshell: leading from the nether regions

Nerd News: Idiotic Opinion Is Idiotic

This opinion is aggressively stupid.  James Taranto explains why.  You know, I'm getting sick of people mouthing off about public education and being self-righteous, bullying idiots about it.  This latest ... effluence reminds me of how pretty-faced Hollywood numbskull Matt Damon went on and on about how we need to support public schools and then promptly (of course) put his own kids in some posh private school (quelle surprise).

Friday, August 30, 2013

Iowahawk on Syria

Oh, and this other tweet, since the entire harebrained Syria idea seems to have no actual - you know - plan.  
Hey, let's bomb Assad to punish him without really hurting him, and let's basically CC him all our military plans too.  Hey, let's bomb Syria with conventional weapons to prevent it from bombing Syria with chemical ones.  Hey, let's make a coalition with just us and the UK  France.  Wait, what?  Yeah.  

Friday Fun Video: How To Dance To Daft Punk

Daft Punk + Soul Train = Unexpected Awesomeness!

Quote of the Day: Rhetoric Meets Reality

From yesterday's explosive House of Commons debate on Syria, chemical weapons, and military intervention:
“Isn’t the real reason we’re here today, is not because of the horror of these weapons and the horror exists – but because the American president foolishly drew a red line and because of his position now, he’s going to attack or face humiliation?” - Labour MP Paul Flynn
Must be more of that smart diplomacy.

Japan: Railway Employee Versus Unruly Passenger

You go, girl.

The Oatmeal on Syria

When supposedly serious outlets won't really talk about serious things, then sometimes comedians have to step into the breach.  Recently the Onion did, and now the Oatmeal does.  Click to enlarge and take a good look:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Movie Madness: Awesome Fan-Made Trailer For Batfleck

Remember the Ben Affleck-is-Batman freakout from last week?  Some enterprising fan has made a trailer that frankly looks spectacular.  And yes, Bryan "Walter White" Cranston as Lex Luthor would rock so hard.

Sen. Tim Scott on the 50th Anniversary of MLK's Speech

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina has written a nice little column to mark the day.  Do read.  Apparently he was not invited to speak at today's festivities in DC -  a fact I find not so much baffling as pathetically biased and blinkered on the part of the organizers.  Does the (R) after his name negate the fact that he is the only black Senator in Congress?   (Don't answer that.)

UPDATE: Iowahawk's tweet!  If you don't follow Iowahawk, you're doing Twitter wrong.


Quote of the Day: Peacefullest Peace Prize Winner Ever

Do you feel this way too?
"It's hard to keep track of the Nobel Peace Laureate's manifold wars, kinetic actions, and drone assassinations."

The Onion Vs. Assad

As usual, humorists seem to have a better grip on reality.  This is satire yet all too perilously close to the real world.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I Got Your Proportional Response Right Here, Pal

Personally I've always thought that the idea of "proportional response" is stupid.  I'm gratified to see that I am not alone. Great line here: "Let's not speak of proportional military action. Let's speak of effective military action."  Why, yes.

Tweet of the Day: Kelly Clarkson on VMA Train Wreck

Can someone please tell Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus that their 15 minutes of fame are up?  Kelly, on the hand, can actually sing. You go, girl. You throw that shade on tasteless exhibitionists who are addicted to tabloid attention.  Enough of this trash culture!

Nerd News: Failing Liberia's University Entrance Exam

That can't be good!

Nerd Fun: Odd College Mascots

Friday, August 23, 2013

Only Ben Affleck Can Bring This Riven Nation Together

GOOD LORD, PEOPLE.  Warner Brothers announces that it cast Ben Affleck as Batman for the Superman sequel, and the Internet explodes with the rage of a thousand suns.  Apparently Ben Affleck is the only thing that can bring this deeply divided nation together ... by uniting almost everyone in their conviction that This Is The Worst Casting Decision EVAR.

OK, this is kind of funny in a way, but it's also kind of ridiculous.  (Let's look at two explosions of rage about casting, shall we?  Example of the first and the current howling.)  AFFLECK HASN'T EVEN FILMED A SINGLE FRAME AS BATMAN.  EVERYBODY CALM DOWN ALREADY, GEEZ.

I thought Man of Steel with Henry Cavill was pretty good, and as far as I'm concerned, Affleck's well and truly resurrected himself with Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and - lest we all forget - Argo. OK, so he's a better director than he is an actor, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  And if I'm wrong, I'll just root for Superman to kick his butt all over Gotham.

But if you want to have fun hating Affleck today, go ahead.  I've linked to an old but still hilarious skit from Jimmy Kimmel.

Friday Fun Video: Welcoming the Freshmen to Georgia Tech

The entire speech by sophomore Nick Selby is here, but this is the absolute highlight:


"You're at Georgia Tech!  You can do that!"

PS: Don't miss the Nerd Lord sitting in the top right corner.  Watch him crack up.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Boo Freaking Hoo: Terrorist Groups Have HR Problems

Apparently the managers find that their employees are insubordinate, unstable, violent loose cannons who don't respond well to authorityYA THINK?

Then I read a WaPo sob story about how the Muslim Brotherhood is falling apart in Egypt and whining that now everybody hates them.  Awwwww.  Well, I'm finding it exceedingly difficult to feel much sympathy for people who loot museums, burn churches, and so forth.

Quirky Asia Files: Baggage Claim Art in Japanese Airports

It's like conveyor belt sushi, only bigger, inedible, and, occasionally, Disgustingly Cute.

Quote of the Day: Egypt in a Nutshell

Among the ever-proliferating analyses you can read now, I think this is a good distillation:
There is a war going on in Egypt. We may not like either side, but one side is clearly worse than the other. We need to make sure the Moslem Brotherhood doesn't emerge victorious in this war.
This seems obvious, but as I've often said, nothing is so obvious that you don't have to spell it out, especially in a world where some people in government can actually say with a straight face that the Brotherhood is "secular" and therefore benign.  (Other people get it and are acting in their own self-interest: the Saudis and company haven't decided to give the Egyptian military $12 billion for no reason: they want the Brotherhood smashed.)  Time to hold our noses and back Egypt's military.  Does that sound horrible?  Maybe. Sometimes reality is.

In related news, an Egyptian court has just ordered Hosni Mubarak let out of prison, so it's on like Donkey Kong.  As my buddy Alessandra quipped, "So ... Basically, the Egyptians got rid of Mubarak and put in Morsi, and then decided the new boss was so horrible they'd rather have their old boss back?"

Forgotten History: 100 Years Ago in Hungarian Politics

Here's an eye-catching headline from 1913.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Film Culture Commentary: Asian Leading Men

Looky here, Buzzfeed has finally discovered that there are some cuties and hotties in Asian cinema.  Welcome to the party.  At least Takeshi Kaneshiro is in the top 10.  But no Shin Koyamada? No Ian Anthony Dale or Russell Wong?  At least the delightful Ken Watanabe on the list, but he's only #24?  Shame, Buzzfeed!  Dishonor on you!  Dishonor on your cow!

Flashback: Bernard Lewis in 2011

As Egypt burns, I recall an interview that this eminent scholar and historian gave back in 2011 as Mubarak fell.  I'll just quote what Lewis had to say about radical Islamic groups and the election that would eventually bring Morsi to power:
Interviewer: Yet in Egypt now, for example, the assumption is that we’re proceeding toward elections in September and that seems to be what the West is inclined to encourage. 
Lewis: I would view that with mistrust and apprehension. If there’s a genuinely free election – assuming that such a thing could happen – the religious parties have an immediate advantage. First, they have a network of communication through the preacher and the mosque which no other political tendency can hope to equal. Second, they use familiar language. The language of Western democracy is for the most part newly translated and not intelligible to the great masses. In genuinely fair and free elections, [the Muslim parties] are very likely to win and I think that would be a disaster. A much better course would be a gradual development of democracy, not through general elections, but rather through local self-governing institutions. For that, there is a real tradition in the region. 
... This idea that a general election, Western-style, is a solution to all these problems, seems to me a dangerous fallacy which can only lead to disaster. ... To say that they’re [the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt]  secular would show an astonishing ignorance of the English lexicon. I don’t think [it] is in any sense benign. I think it is a very dangerous, radical Islamic movement. If they obtain power, the consequences would be disastrous for Egypt.

Disgustingly Cute: Musical Dad

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart: The effect doth operate another way."

The line from Shakespeare seems fitting for this.  Do recall this too.

Well, the Hummus Has Hit the Fan, All Right

In Egypt, "Bambi Meets Godzilla" ... with predictable results.  Somehow, the administration has managed to alienate just about everybody involved.

Quote of the Day: Remembering WWI

Apparently a kerfuffle has arisen over how to commemorate "the Great War."  The Germans and the Brits are not quite seeing eye to eye.  As food for thought, I give you a thought by a British history professor at Oxford:
“I understand Germany’s position. There is no virtue in offending Germany. But if we are going to honest to the history of this war from a British perspective, then it can’t all be about waste and futility. A lot of people fought and died thinking it was worthwhile. We need to respect what those motivations were. It’s not about being triumphalist, or even necessarily celebratory. It is about acknowledging that when the war ended there was a victory. The allies thought it was pretty important and would have been pretty disastrous if they had lost it.”

Awesomeness: the Seasons From Space

Look at these gorgeous animated gifs!

The Iowa State Fair 1, Your Diet 0


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Are You Ready For Some Football?

August is half over (how is this possible???), and while I am dreading the start of the school year, at least it means we'll soon have some good old-fashioned NFL action to distract us.  We've got heroes, anti-heroes, attention hogs, villains, PR nonsense, PC nonsense, rumor mills, celebrity tie-ins, and that's before we even get on the field.  But I don't want to talk about Tim Tebow or Mark Sanchez or Tom Brady or the Mannings.  Nope.  Fellow football fans, let us consider the splendor that is Robert Griffin III.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Therapy: At Least You're Not This Guy

Mondays are awful, aren't they?  Take comfort in knowing that it could always be worse:
A fisherman who lost a two-pound chunk of his leg to a shark says the ordeal is only his latest encounter with the natural world - after being hit by lightning, bitten by a rattlesnake and punched by monkeys. 
Given all that, a bad commute doesn't sound THAT bad, does it?

Couch Potato Chronicles: "Breaking Bad" Hoopla

The much-praised TV show in a nutshell?
What [Bryan] Cranston and his utterly fearless series have allowed us to watch over the past five seasons is the complete moral disintegration of a man who thought he could dabble in drugs for the money and come away untouched. Taken as a whole, Bad is a far more convincing anti-drug screed than any educational film ever shown in our high schools.
As a prelude to last night, I went back and watched the first episode of the entire series.  It's been one heck of a ride.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Quote of the Century: On Considering History

"Sometimes the really obvious take on history turns out to be the right one."
Read the whole thing; it's delightfully and provocatively entitled "Sorry, the Vikings Really Were That Bad."

Friday, August 09, 2013

Friday Fun Video: An American Coach in London

Check out this hilarious ad for the Premier League on NBC.  

Couch Potato Chronicles: Souring On "Supernatural" and "Doctor Who"

La Parisienne just sent me this link to Wil Wheaton's blog, in which he nails the reason why we've all fallen out of love with Supernatural, a TV show that used to be so much fun.  It's too bad, because Jensen Ackles is really easy on the eyes and Misha Collins is just adorable.

On a related note, we've also fallen out of love with Doctor Who.  The show was never as much fun after the departure of Rory and Amy.  Recently the BBC with great fanfare announced Peter Capaldi as the next actor who will play the renegade Time Lord, but all I could summon up in response was "meh."  It's not Capaldi's fault.  I lay the blame squarely at the feet of showrunner Steven Moffat.  The season finale was a snoozefest, and in retrospect there are other issues too, some of which are covered here.

I should add, though, that I am emphatically not in the chorus of whining Whovians who seem to think that feminism's been gut-shot and left to die because the next Doctor is a man and not a woman.  Personally I thought that there was (a) practically zero chance that a woman would be cast as the Twelfth Doctor, while (b) maybe an actor of another race would be chosen.  Can you just imagine the glory of someone like Idris Elba in that role?  (No chance of Idris himself, though - he's far too busy being a star elsewhere.)

Anyway, another thought about the show: the Doctor's supposed to be the good guy and all, but everywhere he goes, he leaves a huge body count in his wake, and not just of bad guys.  Plenty of good people end up dead or injured or traumatized, and it's really starting to bother me. (Remember when the rot started to set in?)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

LOL: Deliciously Funny Car Decal

Generally speaking, I find these cutesypoo-sentimental car decals to be a little ridiculous, but if I were to slap one on my chariot, I could do a lot worse than this:

Nerd Fun: 12 Weird Student Clubs in the UK


Quote of the Day: Iowahawk on US-Russia Relations

Sometimes satire and snark make the most incisive analysis of all, and Iowahawk is simply peerless.

Nerd News: The Psychology of Murder

Looking into the psychology of murderers can be interesting ... unless it's your psychology professor who's the murderer.  Good grief.  Also distressing: the college is standing by him so he will keep on teaching.  What?  The guy slaughtered his entire family in 1967.  This is not some feel-good comeback story about how he got rehabbed or whatever!  Do you want a murderer teaching your kids?

World War I in Photos: the Walter Koessler Project

Here's a fantastic and very personal photo project:
As I was getting ready to leave home after Thanksgiving, almost two years ago, my mom said she had something to show me. She pulled out a big black photo album from under our coffee table, casually laid it out in front of me, and blindsided me with the most meaningful, wonderful project I have ever undertaken.This is my great-grandfather Walter Koessler’s photo album from when he was an officer throughout all four years of World War One.
... My family has also saved a box of about a hundred more stereographs that show WWI in 3D. I’ve since found that my grandma saved hundreds of the original negatives from both the album and the stereographs, and they’re practically pristine. It’s a formidable, and frankly somewhat intimidating collection. Nearly a hundred years later, it seems almost impossible that these things have been kept in such great condition, and I’m so grateful my family has let me take charge of it.
Finally, I think I’m prepared to start the process of scanning and sharing them here. I hope you’ll find it as fascinating as I do.
Just as noteworthy: great-granddad Walter was a German officer, so we get a rare personal glimpse at the other side in its daily life. Do take a look for yourself at

Monday, August 05, 2013

LOL: On the Sale of the Washington Post

Monday Therapy: Singalong Silliness

What happens when you perform a current hit song using only musical instruments you would find in a little kids' classroom?  Add late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon and his Roots crew, and you get this:

Quote of the Day: We've Been Hacked By Cats?

The relationship between a horse and a human is a reciprocal one. They perform useful work and we supply them with food and shelter. It’s a straightforward business deal. That too was once the relationship we had with cats — they would control vermin in exchange for housing. But in time cats craftily developed a means to exploit a bug in the software of the human brain. By producing the purr and the winsome ‘silent miaow’ (two features believed to have evolved only after domestication) Felis catus found a vulnerability in our mental code: suddenly it was absolved from performing useful work around the house; the deluded owner would now supply all its needs in exchange for the illusion of affection. 
Like many successful hacks, the cat hack exploits the human capacity for self-delusion. We desperately want to believe our cats adore us, and so we are surprisingly eager to interpret their self-serving behaviour as though it were motivated by love. Cats are the courtesans of the animal world.

Nerd News: Private Tutors in South Korea

A few thoughts.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Movie Review: "Much Ado About Nothing" (2013)

Love's Labour's Won.

There's a great deal of love in this movie, and it's not all of the romantic, kissyface variety. This charming version of Shakespeare's beloved comedy Much Ado About Nothing  is clearly a labor of love by everyone in it, beginning with its writer-director, Joss "Lord of the Nerds" Whedon.  Filmed over just 12 days at Whedon's Santa Monica, California, residence, it's a small, intimate project that feels invitingly like a home movie done by a crowd of friends who decided to grab a few cameras, bottles of wine, copies of Shakespeare, and just get together and go for it for the sheer fun of it all.

Why That Movie Poster Looks So Darn Familiar

Same old, same old.

The Dignity and Gravitas of the Taiwanese Legislature