Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lest We Forget, The Kids Aren't All Right

Yeah, we're all totally screwed:
Washington has willfully ignored the looming crisis of entitlement spending, knowingly consigning young Americans to a future of crushing debt, persistent underemployment, and burdensome regulation. Politicians on both sides of the aisle share the blame.
While we're at it, let's note the particular problem of school debt which is - surprise! - made ever worse by political attempts to "fix" it:
This summer, Congress made a big bipartisan show of cutting student loan rates to 3.4 percent from an already artificially low 6.8 percent. But even that seemingly helpful gesture will wind up hurting the Americans it claims to help. Federal student aid, whether in the form of grants or loans, is the main factor behind the runaway cost of higher education. Subsidies raise prices, leading to higher subsidies, which raise prices even more. This higher education bubble, like the housing bubble before it, will eventually pop. Meanwhile, large numbers of students will graduate with more debt than they would have in an unsubsidized market.

Schadenfreudelicious: A Taste Of Your Own Medicine

*Snort*  (thanks to the incomparably engaging Iowahawk on Twitter)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Discovered: World's First Venomous Crustacean

A venomous what?!  Right on time for Halloween comes this creepifying animal tale from - where else? - Down Under. 

Halloween Humor: Pop Culture Pumpkins!

Praise the gourd!

I'm Shocked ... SHOCKED: Californians Appalled By Rising Health Insurance Costs

Oh, yeeeeeeah, like we couldn't see this coming.  But apparently some Californians didn't.  Time to pay up, suckers.  Gullibility and stupidity are expensive, yo.  

Plus there's this precious little comment:
Although recent criticism of the healthcare law has focused on website glitches and early enrollment snags, experts say sharp price increases for individual policies have the greatest potential to erode public support for President Obama's signature legislation.
You don't say!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nerd Journal: Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Reason for my prolonged absence? Two words: MIDTERM EXAMS.  I should be back online here soon.  Those of you who no longer have to deal with midterms as student or teacher, rejoice and be grateful!  I haven't slept in days.  Literally days.  I quit counting the number of cups of coffee I've been going through per day because I decided I don't want to know.  Is it possible to get coffee poisoning?  Ha.

"This Day Is Called The Feast of Crispian"

It's October 25, Saint Crispin's Day!  This of course means that it's the perfect excuse to talk about the Battle of Agincourt of 1415, Henry V, and Shakespeare!

Here's that famous battle speech as performed by Kenneth Branagh, and here is the BBC's glorious 2012 production of Henry V, streaming online now at PBS until November 7.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How Does Fido Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways.

A neuroscientist has a new book exploring how dogs love their humans.

Latest Nobel Nonsense

So this year's Peace Prize went to a gaggle of chemical weapons inspectors.  Whatever, man.  On the up side, at least it didn't go to Pooty-Poot.  I'll just leave you with this from the immortal Ron Swanson:

Forced Student Labor in China

"Working your way through school" takes on a whole different meaning.  Even worse, some of the students are underage.

Oops, I Did It Again

The guy who inflicted Rebecca Black's gobsmackingly horrendous "Friday" song on the world has done it again.  This time it's even worse.  It's an unbelievably awful song about Chinese food.  Nope, if you want a song about Chinese food that's actually good and charming and not racially insulting, go here instead

Life Imitates "Jurassic Park"

Just found: a fossilized blood-engorged insect in amber.  I hope everyone's seen Jurassic Park!

Nerd News: Education On Demand?

But can you really Tivo an entire education?  I don't think so.  Real education involves give-and-take, interaction, mentorship, practice, and a whole host of other things.  You can maybe Tivo lectures, but lectures alone do not a real education make.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Master and Apprentice: Women Mentoring Too Much?


IKEA Furniture or Death Metal Band?

Surprisingly entertaining.

The Summation Of Everything

Foreign policy snafus, domestic policy circuses, political nonsense, government shutdown, Obamacare, idiotic media, plus my "real life" (read: it's midterm exam time in Nerdworld and all hell's broken loose!) ... We're all short of time, money, energy, and patience.  I feel completely exhausted.  The whole kit and kaboodle can basically be summed up by this animated image from a favorite show:

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Nerd Journal: Lacking Not The Will But The Capacity

One of my acquaintances just got on social media and, in a rage about the government shutdown, wished for the extinction of the Republicans.  Yes, this person used the word "extinction."  Yeah, scratch the surface of an ardent leftie and you find a nascent tyrant, yadda yadda yadda, but it's always a bloody disappointment when this happens to be true of someone you personally know.  

I don't care if the statement was supposed to be a "joke."  Decent, reasonable people can disagree on policy, but they do not wish extinction on political opponents.  You don't say, "Gee, I wish I could just disappear everyone who doesn't agree with me."  How many eggs do you want to break so you can make your leftist omelet?  Millions of dead kulaks would like to know.

You remember this earlier post?  I'm way beyond disappointment now.  I am in a towering rage.   I don't think I can actually be true friends with people like this. I can be a courteous classmate or colleague or co-worker or whatever, but I don't think I can really be friends with someone who spews political hatred.  Needless to say I've never told this person what I actually think.  

I'm not saying that I can't be friends at all with people who hold different political views.  I'm just saying that there's a Self-Righteous Hateful Jerk Threshold that I can't tolerate, you know?  Still, I recall what a friend of mine once said: "Hooray for free speech!  It lets you know who the jerks and idiots are so you can avoid them."  TRUE DAT, especially in an era of social media.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Blue and the Gray ... Now In Color!

Get an eyeful of these lovely colorized Civil War-era photos!

Lord of the LEGO!

Check out this amazing re-creation of the Helm's Deep with 150,000 bricks and 2000 minifigs!  All the incredible detail is documented here on Flickr.

You Don't Shut Down Memorials To People Who Once Shut Hitler Down

Photo of the week as WWII vets refuse to be barricaded out of their own memorial, government shutdown or not.  Seriously, in terms of cynical PR here, the Administration really blew it.  Oh, and more shenanigans at the Iwo Jima memorial.  

People aren't having it.  You know, when you provoke a bunch of 80-year-old war heroes to civil disobedience, you're doing it wrong.

The Ongoing Persecution of Christians in the Middle East

Alas even as there is almost no voice raised in their defense by Western politicians:
" ... in a vast belt of land from Morocco to Pakistan there is scarcely a single country in which Christians can worship entirely without harassment."

Awesomeness: Guns N' Roses On a Ghuzeng

Government Shutdown, Sunday Edition

Seriously?  Ugh.  

FYI: "The Shutdown Is a Sideshow. Debt Is the Threat."

Of course the shutdown is a cynical political sideshow. (But let's not forget who's culpable here, OK?)  Niall Ferguson has the grim reminder that the real problem is unsustainable debt.  Today's quote of the day comes from it:
"Only a fantasist can seriously believe 'this is not a crisis.'"
Unfortunately, the current political "leadership" is full of fantasists, fabulists, and willful deniers of reality.

LOL: Government Shutdown Pick-Up Lines on Twitter

Hey girl.  

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Nerd Journal: Government Shutdown Day 4

For the record, Nerdworld hasn't turned into Thunderdome.  Not remotely.  Life progresses with no perceptible change in ... well, anything.  When the nation doesn't instantly collapse into an apocalyptic wasteland of riots, looting, blood, fire, cannibals, gangs, and zombies, it just might make people think that gee, we seem to have a lot of NON-essential government workers.   (UPDATE: satire alert.)  

In a fine twist of irony, there was one incident of someone going postal that ended in gunfire, but that was in DC itself.  A young black woman with mental health issues was shot by the police in chaotic circumstances.  Horrible.

While we're talking about the homefront, Obamacare is in the headlines, so I'll just repeat what I told Alessandra about the train-wrecktastic Obamacare rollout: "If this were a presentation done by a student in class, I would cut the kid off in mid-word, lecture him about the absolute unacceptable shoddiness of his work, and send him home to do the whole thing over or else fail that grade on the spot."  

Hello Breaking Bad Kitty

From the show's own hilarious reference to fans' mashups, there's plenty of giggles.  The incongruity of a cutesypoo cartoon cat juxtaposed with the grim crime world of Breaking Bad is some kind of sick genius.

First from the show itself, Jesse realizes just what kind of emergency burner phone he's been given.  Poor Jesse.  Hasn't he suffered enough already?

Then some creative fan came up with Heisenberg Kitty who's a dead ringer for Walt's alter ego.  The little bow on the now-iconic porkpie hat is a great touch:

Another fan came up with this image of Hello Kitty in a hazmat suit, and it is just WRONG yet uproariously funny. I am seriously tempted to buy the shirt.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

LOL: SNL and Obamacare

The Obamacare debacle is such a headache that it's hard to find anything funny at all about it.  SNL, though, managed to milk it for a laugh or two:

Tweet of the Week: Gov't Is The Best Argument for Less Of It

A Tale of Two Speeches at the UN

It's obvious who's living in a perilous fantasyland and who's living in grim reality.  Here's a piece of Netanyahu's speech.  
Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map.  Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself.  I want there to be no confusion on this point: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons.  If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.  Yet in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.
Such clarity is rare indeed nowadays.  I can only wish our own wretched leadership were capable of it.  (Video of Netanyahu's entire speech here.) 

Quote of the Day: On the Shutdown Frenzy

Depressing thought:
The current crisis is only peripherally about health care exchanges and spending resolutions and vitriol spewed by the political and journalistic fraternities. The current crisis, at its heart, is about greed and the human lust for authority over other humans.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Ave atque Vale: Tom Clancy (1947-2013)

He will be missed.  His books are always enjoyable.  The Hunt For Red October was the first I read, and I loved it.  I was just a schoolgirl.  While my peers were reading Sweet Valley High, I was reading military thrillers.  Not much has changed - only now they're reading Fifty Shades of Awful and I'm still reading military thrillers.  Heh.

Hail and farewell to Tom Clancy.  Shall we maybe as a tribute re-watch the 1990 movie of the Red October book?  The cast includes the incomparable Sean Connery, James Earl Jones, Sam Neill, and - surprisingly - Tim Curry in a serious role.  It's one of the last Cold War movies made, and it's a lot of fun.

Nerd News: Student Loan Debtpocalypse Rolls On

Well, this can't be good:
10 percent of student borrowers are now defaulting on their student loans within two years of repayment, and nearly 15 percent are defaulting within three years.

Inevitable: Nominating Putin For The Nobel Peace Prize

So, yeah.  Of course, the Nobel Peace Prize had beclowned itself long before this.

Rant: I Cannot Believe The Way People Are Behaving

Then again, given the pathetic, crude, and nakedly craven examples being set by our supposed political "leadership," I am not really that surprised.  The name-calling, finger-pointing, abject temper tantrum-pitching, unabashed blame-throwing, obvious attempts to play this for selfish gain ... all couched in the most ludicrously hateful terms possible.  

Even worse is seeing people whom I personally know now acting out on social media and having absolutely epic meltdowns.  I have to say, sorry, people, but I just lost a whole bunch of respect for you.  I can't help it.  I won't be able to look at you the same way again.  It doesn't matter how smart you are or think you are; acting out like that makes you look awful.  Gee, it's enough to make you think that some people actually get off on spewing hatred.  Apparently a government shutdown also translates into the total shutdown of all civil discourse and basic courtesy.

Still worse is seeing my elders, including professional elders, acting like this.  

I'm sick and tired of all of this, so maybe you'll be OK with my decision to refuse to comment much more and to decide to write a big fat Breaking Bad review instead.

Meanwhile, after the fold, there's a little something musical for those post-Breaking Bad blues.  What a hilarious tribute to a classic catchword from the show.  I may or may not in a moment of rage deploy this tune in the next round of the apartment music wars (if a new round becomes necessary ... After the MmmBop offensive, the rude neighbor has been relatively well-behaved. Yes, MM believes in speaking softly and carrying a big 90s playlist).