Thursday, January 08, 2015

Quote of the Day: Charlie Hebdo

Time to repeat this fundamental point:
... it is vitally important to resist the impulse–so common among “responsible” institutions, whether foreign ministries or large newspapers–at a time like this to somehow imply that the victims brought their fate upon themselves and that the best line of defense against such attacks is to practice greater self-restraint in the future. ... That is giving the terrorists precisely what they want, indeed the very reason they carry out such attacks is to deter others from similar mockery in the future.

The right to offend is the very essence of free speech–and as long as a publication doesn’t incite violence (which neither Charlie Hebdo nor The Interview did) its right to say whatever it likes must be defended to the last inch.  That is, after all, the very bedrock of freedom upon which Western democracies rest–and the very opposite of the kind of totalitarian state that Islamists have created in Iran and a large chunk of Syria/Iraq.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Nerd News: Home Schooling in the News

Article in the New York Times.  Honestly, with education being the mess that it is with No Child Left Behind and Common Core and the obsession with standardized testing, I would probably want to home school too if I had a Mini-Me.  As it is, I've already been asked to consult a bit on my areas of specialization by some friends home schooling their little ones.

LOL: New Book Satirizes Overbearing NYC Parents

Mommie dearest.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

LOL: A Deliciously Demented Detail

I just saw this hilarity on Imgur: "After ten years and many viewings, I just noticed the streets of Paris are paved with croissants in Team America, World Police."  OMG, HOW HAVE I NEVER NOTICED?!  Go and look for yourself!

Thoughts on Broken Windows

William Bratton, NYC police commissioner, and George Kelling, criminal professor emeritus from Rutgers, take time to write:
Critics have posed a variety of arguments against Broken Windows.  Some assert that it is synonymous with the controversial patrol tactic known as "stop, question, and frisk."  Others allege that Broken Windows is discriminatory, used as a tool to target minorities.  Some academics claim that Broken Windows has no effect on serious crime and that demographic and economic causes better explain the reductions in crime in New York and across the United States.  Still other critics suggest that order-maintenance policing leads to over-incarceration or tries to impose a white middle-class morality on urban populations.  It is rare to have the opportunity and space to correct all the misconceptions and misrepresentations embedded in such charges.  We will counter them here, one by one.

Friday, January 02, 2015

DVD Review: "Pacific Rim" (2013)


The holidays are for watching all the things you never had time to watch before!  This time it's 2013's unabashedly silly summer popcorn flick Pacific Rim, which is really more entertaining than it has a right to be.  Disclaimer: I was a kid who loved Voltron and mech suits and Gundam and Godzilla and all that, so I was pretty much going to consider Pacific Rim a guilty pleasure and love it (and then feel no guilt about any of it), especially since it has a cast that includes Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, and Ron Perlman.  Anyway, the premise is simple enough: gigantic monsters called kaiju are invading the planet via a fissure in the ocean floor, and it's up to hotshot warriors in enormous mechanical suits called Jaegers to fight them.

Sure, there's plenty of nonsense and silliness in the flick, but - hey, let's be honest - I didn't care!  I was willing to let it all slide because the movie itself is so much bombastic FUN.  It's style over substance, but come on, it's hilariously entertaining.  This is a movie that features Idris Elba (!) as a commander named Stacker Pentecost, for goodness sakes!  Charlie "Jax Teller" Hunnam plays a pilot named Raleigh Becket (seriously), and he has a Jaeger called (I'm not making this up) Gipsy Danger (ex-girlfriend of Anthony Weiner perhaps?).  A trio of hoops-shooting Chinese pilots run a machine named Crimson Typhoon.  Another pilot is named (with a straight face) Hercules Hansen.  The nomenclature of everything seems to have an uproarious Engrishy twist to it.  Alessandra, watching with me, shouted, "It's pure anime!" and meant it as a compliment.

Ignore the silliness ("drift compatible" and whatever), logical pitfalls, Rinko Kikuchi's almost unintelligible Mako Mori character, and a climax that is a little too reminiscent of Independence Day and The Avengers.  Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the sight of giant robots battling giant monsters while wrecking Hong Kong with cheerful abandon.  For an hour and a half you can be a kid watching a cartoon and having a grand old time.  You can be a sensible adult before and after, but for the run time of Pacific Rim you can be a schoolboy/girl enjoying eye candy mayhem, monsters, and mechs.  Oh, and be sure to sit through the first bit of credits.

Mad Minerva gives Pacific Rim the grade of B+ for sheer enjoyable popcorn amusement.  Yes, it's ridiculous, but it's ridiculous fun ... and rather more fun than the latest Godzilla.

Pacific Rim runs 132 minutes and is rated PG-13 for monster/mech action, some disturbing images (kaiju guts are gross!), and Charlie Hunnam's abs (they could give Thor's a run for their money).

Rotten Tomatoes gives Pacific Rim the Fresh rating of 72%.

I could give you the actual trailer, but I think it'd be far more amusing to give you the Honest Trailer:

Friday Fun: The Scaredy Swan

Nerd News: Winter Commencement at the University of Hawaii

A nod to one's heritage.  Congratulations to all the new grads!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

The 2015 Rose Parade

This year's Tournament of Roses, one of my favorite New Year's traditions, has the theme "Inspiring Stories" to honor remarkable men and women.  I was surprised and delighted to see this beautiful float!

Recognize the motto "Go For Broke"?  It's from the 442nd, of which several veterans were on the float this morning.  If you aren't familiar with its history, please do look it up when you have a moment.

Happy 2015!

Delightful Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has a great message about optimism and the conscious resolution to do some good this year to make the world a better place: