Friday, May 30, 2014

Haters Gonna Hate, Plus Your Quote of the Day

Hey, remember the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign? 14,000 more people have joined since my post, and everyone's getting really pumped! 

So of course this must bring out the haters.  Now usually I wouldn't bother linking to their stuff, but I can't resist noting this ignorant, misleading, borderline slanderous, and egregiously terrible (and terribly written) nonsense that appeared in the WaPo because - for once in Internet history - the comments are worth reading.

Hey, if you're going to dump on Reading Rainbow, you better get ready for pushback from Reading Rainbow fans who - because they love reading - will be able to write some articulate, truly sharp zingers in response.

My favorite comment is also my pick for the quote of the day:
Stephen4315/28/2014 7:44 PM EDT 
Levar could spend my pledge on cocaine & hookers for all I care. The guy helped teach me a lifelong love of reading, and I owe him back for that.   
However, I really don't expect he'll spend it all on cocaine & hookers. I expect that given the amount of time he's pledged to record video messages and to visit school assemblies for elementary school kids, he'll be doing exactly what he said he'll do. I hope he makes a profit. I hope he makes a billion dollars teaching kids to love reading. I hope this kicks off a gold-rush/tech-boom/real-estate-bubble where people are getting rich teaching kids worthwhile and mind expanding activities.  
Either way, our pledge is getting us an autographed copy of his new children's book which I intend to read to our first child, due this fall. I'm happy knowing Reading Rainbow will exist in his world.

Buh-Bye, Jay Carney

The White House press secretary is leaving, and the best commentary I have on this is to link to the Onion's satirical piece written in the guise of Carney: "Well, Time To Go Out In Front Of A Bunch Of People And Lie To Them."

Friday Fun Video: Beer Bottle "Billie Jean"

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Obama's Commencement Speech at West Point

Here's the transcript of the speech.  The reviews are rolling in, and, well ... You can read them for yourself.  The bloom is off the rhetorical rose according to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and even the New York Times, which said this:
Mr. Obama’s talk of the need for more transparency about drone strikes and intelligence gathering, including abusive surveillance practices, was ludicrous. His administration had to be dragged into even minimal disclosures on both topics. Just Tuesday, the administration said it wanted to make further deletions from a legal memo on drone strikes that a court ordered it to make public.

Personally I don't think a commencement speech is really a place for a talk about foreign policy or anything aside from a few quick anecdotes and stories, a bit of life advice, and then hearty congratulations and a swift, cheerful end because - let's get real - no matter where and who you are, nobody wants to listen to you.  Everybody wants to grab their diploma, fling their headgear into the air, find their families, and start celebrating.

Awesomeness: Resurrecting "Reading Rainbow"!

Remember this?

Yes, I'm one of the 53,000+ backers, and I hope you will consider joining me!

Here's one take on this, but I prefer to say, Let's all pitch in and do something useful.  See a problem like illiteracy among our kids?  Don't moan about it, wring your hands, and wait around for someone else (much less the government) to do something about it.  Go and do something yourself!  This is a great use of crowdfunding.  And three cheers for LeVar and his 30+ years of encouraging kids to read!  

Since fun is a huge part of Reading Rainbow, let me give you this hilarious video with Jimmy Fallon:

Disgustingly Cute: Baby's First LOL

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Don't Stop Believin'!

Hey, La Parisienne, here's a hilarious writeup about the classic Journey song (and about so-bad-it's-good cheesy musical schlock in general):

I also can't help quoting this glorious bit:
Schlock, at its finest, is where bad taste becomes great art. Schlock is music that subjugates all other values to brute emotional impact; it aims to overwhelm, to body-slam the senses, to deliver catharsis like a linebacker delivers a clothesline tackle. The qualities traditionally prized by music critics and other listeners of discerning taste — sophistication, subtlety, wit, irony, originality, "experimentation" — have no place in schlock. Schlock is extravagant, grandiose, sentimental, with an unshakable faith in the crudest melodrama, the biggest statements, the most timeworn tropes and most overwrought gestures. Schlock’s supreme pop-music form is the power ballad ...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Movie Madness!

The summer movie season's here!  I am so, so happy!  Granted, it is expensive to see all these movies, but I've been saving pennies for the express purpose of doing this.  While some people like going to sports events and others like going to resorts for summer fun, your humble blog hostess and her crew like going to the movies!  I'm in the process of working on 5 movie reviews at the same time right now (this is so much more fun than schoolwork), but if you're in a hurry, here are the grades.

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel: B+
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: A
  • Godzilla: B+
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: A+
  • Only Lovers Left Alive: B
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Honestly, I haven't even bothered to go yet

Yes, I know this all sounds like grade inflation, but these flicks I've seen really are THAT good.  Next up: Maleficent, Edge of Tomorrow, and How to Train Your Dragon 2!  I am expecting great things.

In related news: some people are so inherently beautiful that they can make even scrubs or 1970s fashion look goooooood, baby.

Quirky Asia Files: A Doll Village in Japan

I hate dolls like I hate clowns.  This is totally creeping me out.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Couch Potato Chronicles: Peter Dinklage Summarizes "Game of Thrones" In Under a Minute

Peter "Tyrion Lannister" Dinklage is, of course, brilliant both on and off the screen. Take a look at this summary of the entire series (alas, nobody demands trial by combat):

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

Nerd News: Trigger Warnings, Free Speech, and Academic Freedom

Oh, for Pete's sake.  Read this and this, which also gives us the quote of the day:
"Trigger warnings are presented as a gesture of empathy, but the irony is they lead only to more solipsism, an over-preoccupation with one’s own feelings—much to the detriment of society as a whole. Structuring public life around the most fragile personal sensitivities will only restrict all of our horizons. Engaging with ideas involves risk, and slapping warnings on them only undermines the principle of intellectual exploration. We cannot anticipate every potential trigger—the world, like the Internet, is too large and unwieldy. But even if we could, why would we want to? Bending the world to accommodate our personal frailties does not help us overcome them."
Speaking of triggers, how many warnings do you think this bit of classic Weird Al hilarity would now require? 

Trigger Happy.

Monday Therapy: Gummy Bear + Fire = Hilarity

Friday, May 16, 2014

What's In A Name? A Cheesy Summer Action Hero By Any Other Name Would Kick As Much Butt

Out of a very crowded field of silly movie character names I pick "Stacker Pentecost" as the best/worst/most memorable. Besides, Idris Elba is at least five kinds of awesome.

Still, if we want to talk about ridiculous movie character names, we should not forget the glorious, laugh-out-loud silliness of almost-to-clearly NSFW monikers from the world of James Bond.  (Out of that bunch I think I have to pick Honor Blackman's character name from 1964's Goldfinger.  Any name that can make even Bond himself say disbelievingly, "I must be dreaming" deserves a mention)

Godzilla vs. the US Military

Time to call the Navy?

Meanwhile, I can't wait to go see the new movie.  Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe, please make me forget that the awful 1998 movie ever existed!

Friday Fun Video: Have a Nice Day

Via The Manolo:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Meet Naia the 12,000-Year-Old Teenager

She is the oldest complete skeleton ever found in the New World.

Meet Simo Häyhä the White Death of Finland

Meet the farmer who racked up 505 confirmed kills as a sniper during the Winter War.

LOL: Workouts for TV Marathons

I laugh, but you can bet I'm going to try this the next time I binge-watch a show on this list.  Hey, La Parisienne, up for some Supernatural?

  • Do 5 pushups every time Dean refers to the Impala as his "baby."
  • Do 5 situps every time Dean asks for pie.
  • Do jumping jacks for the duration of every classic rock song that plays over a montage.

I should add: Do 5 lunges every time Dean says, "Son of a b*tch!"

The show has had plenty of ups and downs, but in the final analysis Jensen Ackles is still so darn pretty.  Are you going to say no to this face?


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Public Service Announcement: MAKE THIS NOW

LOL: P.J. O'Rourke "Explains" Russian History

After casting a sardonic, hilariously reductive eye over a thousand years of Russian history, humorist P.J. O'Rourke is confident that Putin, in keeping with that history, will destroy himself sooner or later. 

I do remember a discussion with Alessandra a few years back about Russian history and how Russia had serfs long after everyone else had abandoned serfdom.  This was swiftly followed by her observation that only in Russia would the act of ending serfdom make life even worse for the serfs - er, ex-serfs.

Oh, I can't resist quoting a bit of O'Rourke:
"After his [Ivan the Terrible's] reign, Russia, if you can believe it, got worse. 'The Time of Troubles' featured more drought, more famine, more plague, foreign invasions, massacres, the occupation and sacking of Moscow, and tsars with names like False Dmitry I and False Dmitry II."
Hey, you forgot False Dmitry III!

Satire Alert: "Budget Woes Force Heaven To Reduce Eternal Life To 500 Billion Years"

Oh, Onion. Still making me laugh after all these years.

Sweden and the High Cost of a Free College Education

It's free, but you still end up with debt.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

MM in the Kitchen: Chinese Ginger-Garlic Poached Chicken

This dish often associated with Hainan is so simple and so good.  You can't go wrong with garlic, ginger, and scallions, really!  There's even a helpful video:

Make rice (jasmine's my favorite kind) with the poaching liquid and serve with the chicken.  Add something green (I like baby bok choy sauteed with ginger or garlic), and you have a wonderful meal.  The menfolk in the family love adding spicy chili sauce (and also the inevitable Sriracha). For a twist, make rice porridge and serve the chicken with that; it's especially good for a winter breakfast.  For lunch the next day, shred the chicken and put it on top of salad greens with maybe a soy sauce sesame oil dressing.

Nerd News: 9th Grader Runs For School Board

Nice to see young people taking an interest in their education ...

Monday, May 12, 2014

How Not To Behave at Japan's Best Sushi Restaurant


Nerd News: Harvard Headline of the Year

"Black Mass Cancelled Amid Uproar As Cultural Studies Club Withdraws Sponsorship." Seriously, this is the real headline!  Then again, some of us have always known that Hahvahd was of the Devil, hahaha!

By the way, here is the statement from Hahvahd President Drew Faust - FAUST!  Folks, I can't make this stuff up if I tried.  

Here's a piece of it (issued before the club withdrew its sponsorship):
"The decision by a student club to sponsor an enactment of this ritual is abhorrent; it represents a fundamental affront to the values of inclusion, belonging and mutual respect that must define our community. It is deeply regrettable that the organizers of this event, well aware of the offense they are causing so many others, have chosen to proceed with a form of expression that is so flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory.

Nevertheless, consistent with the University’s commitment to free expression, including expression that may deeply offend us, the decision to proceed is and will remain theirs. At the same time, we will vigorously protect the right of others to respond—and to address offensive expression with expression of their own. 
I plan to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction at St. Paul's Church on our campus on Monday evening in order to join others in reaffirming our respect for the Catholic faith at Harvard and to demonstrate that the most powerful response to offensive speech is not censorship, but reasoned discourse and robust dissent."

Nerd Journal: We Survived Final Exams!

My response is a combination of these two animated gifs:

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tasty Chinese

Here's an interesting post about language, translation, and usage.

I can't help including an anecdote from a big family get-together from a while back.  It was late, and some of us were hungry but too tired to go out, so one of my aunts offered to cook something quickly. How about some frozen dumplings?

OK, said my ever-ravenous brother. "What kind?"

"Big Testy," said my aunt (she's got a rather thick accent.)

"Big WHAT?" 

"Big Testy!"

"Big Testy?" he asked, just to be sure.

My aunt started getting flustered. "Testy!" she repeated. "Testy, testy!  Big!  Testy!"

My brother looked at me and smirked.  I knew exactly what he was thinking.  My mother looked confused.  We didn't bother to enlighten her.  My aunt opened a bag of frozen dumplings and proceeded to empty it into a big pot.

The brother then intercepted the bag before it fell into the trash can.  He read it, started laughing hysterically, and waved it at me.  It read "Big Tasty brand frozen dumplings."

Oh, man.  He and I still laugh about it, the Big Testes Dumplings.

Quirky Euro Files: Live-Blogging the Eurovision Song Contest

This is hilarious commentary.  

New Look For the Summer

I thought a nice blue blog background would be good for the summer!  If you all totally hate it, though, I can change it back.  Let me know what you think, gentle reader!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Need A Study Break?


But if you need a study break (or five or twenty), you can go marathon TV shows on Netflix or go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier for the third time (something that I may or may not have done very recently).  

By the way, I know I owe you a real movie review, but let me just say this for now:  If you don't see this flick you are totally missing out.  89% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes?  BRING IT ON. 

I'm going to see the new Spider-Man flick too, but I'm frankly pessimistic.

Auschwitz and Academic Freedom

Can you get in trouble for taking your students to Auschwitz to teach them about the Holocaust?  Apparently you can.  The situation seems very odd, though, and there might be legal action pending.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Nerd News: Rutgers Beclowns Itself

So Condoleezza Rice won't be the Commencement speaker at Rutgers after all because too many people there don't want to hear her.  You know, it's embarrassing that an institution of higher education that supposedly prides itself on the free and open discourse and debate of ideas can do this to the country's first black female Secretary of State and still pat itself on the back for being oh-so-enlightened and progressive.  Rice was the most powerful woman in the US during her time in office.  If she hadn't been in a Republican administration, colleges and universities across the country would have canonized her by now.

Happy Star Wars Day!

May the Fourth be with you!  Of course, it wouldn't be a holiday without lots of yummy cake.

Nerd Notes: A Princeton Freshman Checks His Privilege

It's not what you think.  This little op-ed has blown up the Nerdverse, and plenty of people are unloading on the guy, but you should first read what he has to say.