Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Twitter-riffic Beclowning: #Trudeaueulogies

First came the silly utterance. Then comes the Twitter mockery.  There's nothing quite as entertaining as watching an overhyped public figure shoot himself in the foot.

Cuban Exiles Celebrate in Miami's Little Havana

Good riddance to Fidel Castro. 

2016 has seen the departure of all too many notables from David Bowie to Florence Henderson, but I can't say that I'm sorry to see the last of Castro. A bunch of my leftie friends are busy waxing eloquent about him, but my sympathies are closer to Andy Garcia's sentiments and to the Cuban exiles celebrating in Little Havana.

Here's a detail:
The passing of Castro was also welcomed by Miami’s mayor, Tomas Regalado, who was born in Cuba and whose father was a political prisoner for more than 20 years. 
“For 57 years Fidel Castro has been the symbol of tyranny and oppression of our people,” Regalado said in a statement. “I call on the Obama administration and the Trump administration to demand real changes from the Cuban regime, on behalf of many Cubans who have died in the U.S. and in Cuba waiting for this day and for freedom.”
UPDATE 1: Obligatory "Cuba Libre" joke/tie-in

UPDATE 2: A Yale history professor does some mythbusting. Good for him.

UPDATE 3: Read this.

Quote of the Day: A Tribute to Toshiro Mifune

Check out this review of Mifune: The Last Samurai, a new documentary of the great Japanese actor, and then go check out the film itself. If you don't know who Toshiro Mifune was, you'll certainly want to. Just take a look at this wonderfully mad description:
Mifune was a one-man kamikaze burlesque show, as elegantly savage as his future inheritor Bruce Lee, as dextrous as Errol Flynn, as insanely comic as Curly from the Three Stooges, with a bombs-away ego all his own. 
... He was a hurricane who blew away the landscape that had come before him. He was really the first samurai of action cinema, the one who cast his cross-cultural shadow over everything from the evolution of the martial-arts genre to Eastwood and Bronson.  
He also turned down the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi!

Mifune got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame not too long ago.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipe Festival!

The big day is nearly here, my darlings. Need some recipes? Here you go!
  • Crispy sweet potato roast. Please do not desecrate lovely sweet potatoes with marshmallows!
  • Mashed potatoes. Carb-errific! Please pass the gravy. 
  • How about these pretty potato stacks made in a muffin pan? They look like roses!
  • The ever-reliable Alton Brown offers his own version of green bean casserole.
  • How I do green beans: steam or blanche them briefly, and then saute for a couple of minutes in olive oil and garlic. Add a little salt and pepper, and that's it. They should be bright green and just a tiny bit crisp, not mushy. Try a bit of fresh lemon juice on top at the last minute for a tangy variation.
  • Roasted parmesan green beans are a nice option.
  • Try some roasted Brussels sprouts!
  • Cornbread dressing that's leaps and bounds ahead of the insipid white bread variety. Make your own cornbread, obviously.
  • If you already have the gorgeous cornbread dressing, you probably don't need dinner rolls (they're just filler anyway), but I know some people insist on them, so here's a recipe from King Arthur flour, and I have to admit that that flour is excellent.
  • Try making your own cranberry sauce if you don't want the canned kind.
  • Finally, the main event: Horrify your vegan friends and delight your fellow carnivores with a spectacular bacon-wrapped turkey. (Need a refresher on how to carve said turkey?)
  • Dessert: So many options! I'll leave you to pick your favorite(s). I always go for pumpkin pie first myself.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Comfort Viewing: "The Karate Kid, Part Two" (1986)

Had enough of the never-ending drumbeat of negativity, identity politics, and divisive rhetoric from all fronts?  Let me recommend one of my favorite movies, now celebrating its 30th anniversary (!).  I assume that you - as properly educated humans - have already seen 1984's original The Karate Kid, yes?  Of course you have.

There is a lot of good stuff in the sequel that it manages to engage without being prissy or preachy - eternally resonant themes like honor, justice, standing up for yourself, respect, mercy, love, friendship, family (both of blood and of choice), forgiveness, and reconciliation across divides of age, race, culture, geography, and time - and I'll leave it to you to enjoy the story, along with a gloriously bombastic, cheesy soundtrack. Hey, it's the 80s! It's OK!


By the way, don't bother with the rebooted Karate Kid from 2010.  Look, I love Jackie Chan as much as anybody, but there's only one Mr. Miyagi, and he is the late, great Pat Morita.  Go rewatch the original Karate Kid.

Quote of the Day: Media Hysteria

One journalist has a few words of advice for his colleagues:
For your own sake, and that of the republic for which you allegedly work, wipe off your chins and regain your composure. I didn’t vote for him either, but Trump won. Pull yourselves together and deal with it, if you ever want to be taken seriously again.

What kind of president will Trump be? It’s a tad too early to say, isn’t it? The media are supposed to tell us what happened, not speculate on the future. But its incessant scaremongering, the utter lack of proportionality and the shameless use of double standards are an embarrassment, one that is demeaning the value of the institution. The press’ frantic need to keep the outrage meter dialed up to 11 at all times creates the risk that a desensitized populace will simply shrug off any genuine White House scandals that may lie in the future (or may not).

Hysteria is causing leading media organizations to mix up their news reporting with their editorializing like never before, but instead of mingling like chocolate and peanut butter the two are creating a taste that’s like brushing your teeth after drinking orange juice.
It's certainly good advice, but it will also almost certainly be ignored. At least Kyle Smith can say he tried. 

The news media has done incalculable harm to itself throughout this election cycle (and well before it too), but it seems quite fixated on further clueless self-immolation.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Boys Are Back in Town: "The Grand Tour" Roars Online

A post-BBC Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond - yes, that glorious triumvirate of bantering car fanatics from Top Gear - are back with their new show The Grand Tour.  It only took watching the first 5 minutes to convince me that Top Gear (still limping along with new hosts) is dead. Not just kind of dead, mind you. It is a smoking ruin over which Clarkson and company are cheerfully roasting marshmallows.

Seriously, watch the first 5 minutes of The Grand Tour premiere on Amazon Prime streaming. They are perfectly conceived, flawlessly executed, and absolutely amazing right down to the musical accompaniment.

As for what other people are saying? The Guardian says,"Clarkson and co leave the BBC in their dust."  The Telegraph titles its review "How Jeremy Clarkson's new £160m show blew Top Gear out of the water."

(As for the BBC, its review complained that the premiere episode's undeniable swagger was "uncomfortably hubristic." Well, as a friend of mine says, "It ain't braggin' if it's true.")  Some fans are as busy tweaking the BBC as Clarkson himself is:
I'm more or less convinced that the BBC in the final analysis grossly misunderstood the magic of Top Gear. It wasn't about the cars, not really. It was about the larger-than-life personalities who were having fun with those cars.  The way in the end to deal with Clarkson is not to contain him, but to unleash him. 

I'll leave you with the trailer. New episodes every week from Amazon! 

Edible History: Pekin Noodle Parlor in Montana

It's the oldest continuously operating Chinese restaurant in the country! Pekin Noodle Parlor first opened its doors in 1911. The first documented Chinese eatery in the US is San Francisco's Canton Restaurant from 1849, but Pekin Noodle Parlor is the oldest still in business.

Quote of the Day: Self-Critique (or the Lack of It)

Glenn Greenwald gives the Democratic establishment a piece of his mind (and deservedly so):
Democrats have spent the last 10 days flailing around blaming everyone except for themselves, constructing a carousel of villains and scapegoats – from Julian Assange, Vladimir Putin, James Comey, the electoral college, “fake news,” and Facebook, to Susan Sarandon, Jill Stein, millennials, Bernie Sanders, Clinton-critical journalists and, most of all, insubordinate voters themselves – to blame them for failing to fulfill the responsibility that the Democratic Party, and it alone, bears: to elect Democratic candidates.

... Democrats need to accept their own responsibility and blame, and stop pretending that they were just the victims of other people’s failures and bad acts. They’re not divinely entitled to support from voters, nor to an unimpeded march to victory for their preferred candidate, nor to a press that in unison turns itself into Vox or a Saturday morning MSNBC show by suppressing reporting that reflects negatively on them and instead confines itself to hagiography. In fact, this entitlement syndrome that is leading them to blame everyone but themselves should be added very near the top of the list of self-critiques they need to begin working promptly to address.
Short version: GROW UP. 

Oh, and for what it's worth, despite what Greenwald says, I don't think the GOP did that good a job of actually following through on its post-2012 self-critique, but that's another story. 

2 Perspectives on American Working Class Voters

Take a look at these posts by a lay observer blogging and a law professor writing in the Harvard Business Review. Quite a bit of overlap.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Foreign Policy 101?

Foreign policy advice for a new president from Michael Totten makes for a bracing read. Here's the short version for those of you in a hurry:
In essence: Get real about Russia, finish off ISIS in Syria, back the Kurds to the hilt, downgrade relations with Turkey, repair our relations with Israel and crack down hard again on Iran. World peace won’t break out if you do these things, but we’ll be a lot better off than if you don’t.

All this advice is based on one simple principle—you reward your friends and punish your enemies. It’s the first rule of foreign policy, one that has been with us since antiquity and will survive until the end of time. Presidents who behave as though this rule doesn’t apply to them are as doomed to fail in foreign policy as rocket scientists who ignore gravity. Hubristically declaring that it would not do “stupid sh*t” like its predecessors, the Obama administration flipped this rule on its head over and over again—with Israel, with Russia, with Iran, and with Turkey—with disastrous results every time.

So turn things around. Again: Reward your friends and punish your enemies. Tattoo that rule on the back of your eyelids if you have to.

Monday, November 14, 2016

I've Heard Some Pretty Silly Post-Election Blather, But ...

These 3 take the cake for being the silliest and most unproductive:

(1) "If third-party voters had voted for Hillary, she would have won!"

Get real.  If those third-party voters had wanted to vote for Hillary, they would have voted for Hillary.  She was on the ballot right alongside the Libertarians' Gary Johnson and the Green Party's Jill Stein.  OK, riddle me this, Batman: Why do people vote third-party? ... Well? ... Because they don't like either of the two mainstream parties' candidates!  This should be obvious.  People complaining that third-party voters "should have voted for Hillary" have missed the point entirely.  Some of these folks (many of them? even most of them?) were never going to go for Hillary, period.  While I'm at this, who the heck are you to tell third-party voters whom they "should" vote for and then try to shame them for not doing so?  Go jump in a lake in Minnesota in January.

(2) "Bernie would have won if he had run!"

Fine, I think that the wacky Vermont socialist would have been more competitive than Hillary if he had been the Dems' nominee for the general election.  But he wasn't, so this line of whining is pointless.  Nobody knows or can know if Bernie Sanders would have won against Trump because he didn't run against The Donald, and nobody will ever know what would have happened.

(3) "Women who didn't vote for Hillary have internalized misogyny!"

This is the boringly familiar sexism smear taken to stupid lengths, prompted by the humiliating fact that women voters (notably white women) did not break for Hillary in the vast numbers that the Clinton campaign hoped for after it traded on the idea with its (face it, uninspiring) slogan of "I'm With Her."  Calling a woman sexist (even misogynist!) for not voting automatically for another woman is a shameless bit of nonsense, and the very idea that a woman should vote for a candidate - even a hopelessly flawed one - because that candidate is a woman is a ... wait for it ... sexist fallacy.  Shockingly enough to some of those pundits and partisans, women have minds of their own, and this time around a whole bunch of the ladies decided against Hillary.  Oh, don't get me wrong: I think it'd be great for the country to elect a woman to the White House (Taiwan just elected its first female president recently, and the UK was first of all to be a major Western nation to have a woman as head of government with the Iron Lady decades ago).  Still, I don't want just any woman to be president, and I sure as heck didn't want a mendacious career political sleazemonger like Hillary.  It's not enough to be just any woman candidate for president.  You have to be the right one if you want my vote.

Bonus: "Let's get rid of the Electoral College!"

*sigh*  Good luck with that.  

Quote of the Day: Hey, Limited Government is Hot Again!

Via Samizdata comes this thought:
"It has been delightful to wallow in the grief of triggered leftists. Yes, their candidate lost. And no, they have neither self-awareness nor irony and that is bloody hilarious. But for classical liberals/libertarians or even smaller state Conservatives, the man who won is by no means our guy.

... I am far from depressed by Trump’s victory, though I agree with him in so few respects. Not least because our statist foes are about to relearn a proper fear of excessive state power and in particular of such undemocratic and unconstitutional devices as presidential executive orders."

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Day After

Well, I gotta admit, I was not expecting that! Trump carried Pennsylvania? Michigan?

The wailing, gnashing of teeth, and the wearing of sackcloth and ashes by distraught Hillary fans proceeds apace around me, but let's get real here: she was a deeply - and, in the end, fatally - flawed candidate. As the incomparable Iowahawk said:
Also, it turns out that smugly, contemptuously belittling, insulting, demeaning, stereotyping, alienating, mocking, and occasionally outright demonizing an entire segment of the American public and then expecting those "deplorables" to vote for you ... doesn't actually work. (Shoot, even a leftist paper like the Guardian figured it out. See this too.)

As for me, I'm just glad that the absolute worst presidential election in living memory is finally over and that I can sort of stand to look myself in the mirror.

One more thing: Drink in the hysterical, disconsolate, Schadenfreudelicious tears of the media as it flings itself into a total meltdown.  It behaved horribly with naked bias throughout this entire business, and any good Greek tragedian would nod sagely to see that in so doing it chose the form of its destructor when it thought it was about to crown its anointed and sail into a paradise of influence peddling and cozying up to the halls of power. You made your bed. Now lie in it.

Still, let's end with a joke, shall we?