Sunday, December 31, 2023

a better math channel?

I unsubscribed from the Premath channel and found a new channel whose videos are normally under four minutes, which nicely fits my rapidly shrinking attention span: Andy Math. Here are two videos from the channel:







brief 2023 retrospective

The most memorable highlights of 2023:

re-walking the Four Rivers path after three years away
• eating at that awesome Chinese restaurant in Daegu during the walk
lamb skewers with my buddy Charles

And that's pretty much it. Distance walking is what I live for. It's the focus of any year.

ADDENDUM: here's Styx with his own God's-eye 2023 recap:





2 from Styx

Maine jumps in, disqualifying Trump from appearing on its primary ballots:

The Supreme Court is definitely going to have to weigh in and explicitly say that Trump was never convicted of insurrection, so for any state to come to a unilateral conclusion that Trump did lead an insurrection—despite mountains of evidence to the contrary—is essentially illegal and/or unconstitutional. States will have to find a different basis for exclusion.

Nikki Haley, meanwhile, has made the news for somehow skirting the issue of slavery after being given a town-hall question about the root causes of the Civil War. I'm open-minded enough to entertain arguments that the Civil War had more than one root cause, but if you're not mentioning slavery as at least one of the root causes (see my old post here), I want what you're smoking.

Related:

Could Nikki Haley have torched her own campaign? I heard that, the very next day after the town hall, she finally talked about how of course slavery was a fundamental cause of the Civil War, but the PR damage has already been done, and the optics* suck.

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*In political discussions, when people use the term optics, they're talking about how someone or something looks. If Biden were to visit the Holocaust Museum and start pissing on the property, for example, that would be bad optics.



what a haircut means today

Where would I even go to get a decent haircut in the States these days? If the barber's first question to me is, "What're your pronouns?", I might be seeking a new barber. It's just a language game I don't want to engage in. Then again, if the barber is competent and can tolerate my not wanting to participate in her strange little bubble-world, I'm perfectly happy to give her my business. Will she be equally tolerant?





before I forget—some pics from France

An ensemble pic of my French family, sent to me right around Christmas:

Top row, standing all alone: my buddy Dominique
Middle row, L to R: Augustin, Manon (Auguste's new girlfriend), Héloïse (sis), Véronique (Dom's wife), Joséphine (eldest daughter), Hugo (her BF), Timothé (youngest sib)
Bottom row: Maman and Papa

And a pic of a pink bûche de Noël (Yule-log cake) made by Dom's wife Véro:

I'm gonna be frank: the cake itself looks fine, but I wish Véronique had cleaned up the splatter on the platter before someone took that photo. More positively, my hat is off to anyone who can make a proper roll cake without having the cake break apart on you while it's being rolled. Roll cakes are irrelevant to my cooking/baking repertoire because I don't think my oven is big enough to make a large-enough sheet cake for rolling.

When Dominique described his parents in an email, he said

Il vieillissent gentiment.

This can translate as They're aging nicely, They're aging slowly, or They're aging gently.

Getting older, slowly and steadily. I can relate.



Trump back on CO ballot

Headline (from this past Friday):

Trump Is BACK on the Ballot in Colorado

Following an appeal filed with the Supreme Court by the Colorado GOP, Colorado’s Secretary of State has decided to allow the candidate’s name to appear on the primary ballot. According to Fox News:

On Wednesday, the Colorado GOP filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court after the state Supreme Court’s decision to remove Trump from the primary ballot.

Following the appeal, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced that she will include Trump on the primary ballot on the Jan. 5 certification deadline, unless the U.S. Supreme Court affirms the lower court’s ruling or declines to take up the case.

My interpretation: somebody blinked. People have been talking about how the various blue states' attempts to keep Trump off the ballot will end up being slapped down by the Supreme Court, and blue states know this. The Court needs to simplify matters by making one ruling that applies to all blue states currently making this attempt at exclusion: Trump was never convicted of insurrection, so the 14th amendment does not apply. Arguments for the exclusion of Trump have been based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment:

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

To make the argument that Trump somehow fomented or led an insurrection, there are a couple of criteria to be met, which Trump did not meet: (1) he has to be established as the inciter, and (2) the actions of the supposed insurrectionists must be shown to have been coordinated. Neither of these has been proven. If anything, video evidence of Trump telling people to go home calmly and peacefully was suppressed by those who wanted Trump to look like an inciter, and as other video evidence increasingly shows, most of what happened that day was a bunch of random milling about, partially allowed by police officers who acted as tour guides. And as I said before, Trump was never convicted of inciting or leading an insurrection. So yes, the Supreme Court needs to make clear that no argument for keeping Trump off a ballot can have recourse to the 14th Amendment.

Ultimately, I think Colorado blinked because they know they have no leg to stand on, and they know the Supreme Court's inevitable reaction (a reaction whose force depends on the extent to which people still respect the rule of law in America). They may also be in fear of the notion that blocking Trump in this way could be the straw that finally breaks the camel's back when it comes to leftist provocation of righties. The right hasn't responded with mass violence thus far, which could be a sign of either courage or cowardice (or a sinisterly strategic patience), but many are convinced a day of reckoning is coming, and while the left is prepared, on that day, to shout See? See? The right is as violent as we've always said!—the right will, at that moment, be well past the point of caring what the left thinks of it, and this chapter of the story will end with bodies in ditches and swinging from lampposts.*

On January 6, a bunch of unarmed people trespassed inside the Capitol and milled about. Yes, there were some random fights that could be seen as rioting. Only one person was actually killed on that day: Ashli Babbitt, one of the protestors. A member of law enforcement did also die, but not on that day, and not because he got mauled and stomped by a bloodthirsty crowd. Video evidence on this point is increasingly clear. Even leftie Wikipedia says: "Five persons died either shortly before, during, or following the event: one was shot by Capitol Police, another died of a drug overdose, and three died of natural causes, including a police officer."**

__________

*I should make clear that, while a barbaric part of me wouldn't mind such a cleansing bloodbath, I wouldn't be happy with total conservative domination of the culture. Conservatives are, I think, more right on certain important matters than the left is (e.g., the economy, foreign policy, education, the role of government, the need for law enforcement, etc.), but conservatives, taken as a whole, haven't really convinced me that they know how to govern a country in a spirit of justice, peace, and harmony. I still think the healthiest country is the one that labors under a kind of dynamic tension, with each side civilly keeping the other side honest. But these days, it's obvious that civility got cast aside long ago, and from what I can see, the knives are slowly coming out.

**There is still debate about the actual number of people who died, and what it means to die "in connection with" the January 6 protests. One Trump supporter, Kevin Greeson (55), died on the day of the rioting, but his heart attack occurred before the protests and riots even started, and while he was standing well away from the center of the ensuing action (his wife said he was against any violence). He is still considered to be one of the deaths that occurred "in connection with" the protests and riots. Do you see how quickly this can get messy? The only definite "killed by a bullet" death is that of Ashli Babbitt. In the months that followed, a few police officers killed themselves, and some drama-hungry people list their deaths as "in connection with" January 6.



ululate!

Actor Tom Wilkinson has died at 75. I remember him best for his roles as mobster Carmine Falcone in "Batman Begins," Lieutenant General Cornwallis in "The Patriot," a rakish Ben Franklin in the "John Adams" miniseries, and as the ill-fated IMF secretary in "Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol." Wilkinson's filmography includes a lot more than those roles, of course; he played parts that demanded his natural English accent as well as others requiring him to affect an American accent—an accent that, in my opinion, started rough but improved over time. Wilkinson is listed as having "died suddenly," whatever that might mean. RIP.



a tweet about Claudine Gay

I saw one Instapundit commenter suggest that keeping Gay at Harvard is best because, that way, she can drag the entire university down with her.

The apotheosis of higher ed is a sad, sad commentary.



"Arcane," Season 1: review

Pictured: Vi (dyed redhead, Hailee Steinfeld), Viktor (reading, Harry Lloyd), Caitlyn (long, dark-blue hair, Katie Leung), Powder/Jinx (steel-blue hair, Ella Purnell), Silco (red eye, Jason Spisak), Jayce (white suit and epaulets, Kevin Alejandro), Mel (upper right, Toks Olagundoye)
Not pictured: Vander (JB Blanc), Ekko (Reed Shannon), Heimerdinger (Mick Wingert), Sevika (Amira Vann), Ambessa (Ellen Thomas), Grayson (Shohreh Aghdashloo)

Fresh off watching the animated series "Blue Eye Samurai," I plunged into the 2021 animated world of "Arcane," also titled "Arcane: League of Legends" because it's based on the 2009 Riot Games video game "League of Legends," which I've never played. Like "Blue Eye Samurai," "Arcane" is an international collaborative effort, but involving a different French animation studio: Fortiche. The series dropped with a surprising amount of acclaim, garnering high praise for its excellent animation and equally excellent writing. It boasts the voice talents of Hailee Steinfeld, Harry Lloyd, Katie Leung, Ella Purnell, Jason Spisak, Kevin Alejandro, Toks Olagundoye, JB Blanc, Reed Shannon, Mick Wingert, Amira Vann, Ellen Thomas, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and many others.

The story's main focus is on two sisters, Violet (Steinfeld) and Powder (Purnell), who later renames herself Jinx. The world the sisters live in is divided into two principal levels: Piltover, the upper region, where the rich and privileged live; and Vaun, the so-called "undercity," a place of poverty, violence, drug addiction, and near anarchy—an anarchy held at bay by the burly Vander (Blanc), the adoptive father of the two girls. 

When the story begins, Vi is a teenager, and Powder is not quite a tween, but the sisters work with two friends to steal and fence items from Piltover, pilfering goods and bringing them down to the undercity. During one such raid of the upper regions, the team sneaks into a scientist's residence and begins stealing items whose nature the kids don't understand. Powder happens upon a case filled with some sort of small, spherical crystals that seem to buzz with light and energy; she scoops them up and dumps them into a belt pouch but fails to close the pouch tightly; one crystal drops out without her noticing, slowly builds toward cataclysm, and causes a massive explosion that the team of thieves only barely manages to escape. The team splits up, with Powder holding on to the largest share of loot. City guards and a rival gang give chase; Powder ends up dropping the loot into the local river, and the group returns to the underworld of Vaun with nothing to show Vander, their nominal boss, for their trouble. 

Mylo (Yuri Lowenthal), another kid member of the group, complains that jobs go wrong whenever Powder is with them, and he calls her a "jinx." Vander is shown to have a tense agreement with the Piltover sheriff Grayson (Aghdashloo); Piltover and Vaun refrain from war largely because of this arrangement, but people both topside and in the undercity are unhappy with how things are: the eternal story of haves and have-nots. One of Vander's old brothers-in-arms, Silco, has plans to undermine Piltover, and he's been developing a chemical called The Shimmer, which causes anyone who drinks it to become a hulking, overpowered brute—a quick way to produce muscled henchmen. Meanwhile, in Piltover, scientist Jayce Talis (Alejandro) and his genius friend Viktor (Lloyd) are working on creating Hextech, a technology based on the combination of science and magic. The leaders of Piltover, especially diminutive founding member Professor Heimerdinger (Wingert), have grave misgivings about anything magic-related because of what might happen should magic fall into the wrong hands. (The series title "Arcane" refers to the arcane and unmanageable power of magic.) Jayce, though, recalls having been saved by a magic-wielder in his youth, and this makes him bullish about magic's potential to make lives better.

In a job that goes horribly wrong, Powder causes another explosion that accidentally kills their friends, Mylo and Claggor (Roger Craig Smith). Furious, Vi slaps Powder and walks away from her. Silco suddenly appears and begins to comfort the weeping Powder, but before Vi can turn back to retrieve Powder, she gets captured by a city guard and imprisoned. Vi spends years in confinement. This is when the story's true conflict begins: years later, Powder is now a full-on teen who calls herself Jinx; Vi has been languishing in prison. Jinx works for Silco now, with father-figure Vander having died years earlier. As Silco and Jinx continue to cause mayhem in Piltover, a Piltover enforcer named Caitlyn (Leung) is doing detective work on the side, and she eventually concludes that she needs the help of Vi to figure things out. Thus begins one of the more interesting relationships in the story: Vi and Cait are tense with each other at first, coming from opposite worlds as they do, but they come to trust and rely on each other, eventually ending up in a dynamic somewhere between sisters and lovers. From a distance, Jinx sees Vi and Cait hugging and, because Jinx has gone partially or wholly insane thanks to all of her childhood trauma, she irrationally thinks she's been replaced as a sister.

I haven't even touched on all of the political intrigue that drives the Piltover plot forward, nor have I mentioned the character of Ekko, a childhood friend of Vi and Powder who grows up to be a seasoned leader and fighter in his own right. Ekko knows all about Jinx's mental breakdown, and he tells Vi that he thinks Jinx is, by this point, irredeemable. Vi, for her part, wants to try to save Jinx from herself, and to rescue Jinx from her dependence on Silco. Silco has become Jinx's new father figure, and on some level, he truly does care for her, but Silco is himself too broken and toxic to be a decent father for Jinx. "Arcane" is a complex story, what with its multiple subplots involving Hextech, politics, terminal illness (Viktor), rich/poor conflict, friendship, sisterhood, romantic relationships, family expectations, and a host of other issues. The whole thing is a big, happy mess, but with well-written characters and some truly stunning animation—at a level that makes "Blue Eye Samurai" look simple.

And yet, I didn't find the overall story as engaging as that of "Blue Eye Samurai." I'm still trying to figure out what exactly the problem is. Part of it may be an instinctive aversion to certain animé-style graphics. This is an aesthetic that usually involves, say, girls (and/or guys) with spiky hair wearing tight clothes and way-oversized boots (or souped-up Hextech combat gauntlets, in Vi's case). I've never been a fan of this aesthetic, but "Arcane" is based on a video game that was itself inspired by animé sensibilities.

Another problem has to be Jinx herself: as portrayed in the series (I have no idea how she is in the video game), Jinx really is a source of strife, chaos, and misery. Whether her intentions are good or bad, everything she does ends with someone getting hurt or killed. She truly is bad luck for all around her (even, ultimately, for her benefactor Silco). I thought young Powder was too whiny and weepy, and the more mature Jinx was too unhinged. The moment when Powder throws herself into Silco's arms and declares that Vi is no longer her sister (this is right after Vi slaps and abandons her) feels too abrupt, like when Anakin Skywalker suddenly falls to his knees and pledges himself to the teachings of Darth Sidious. However you slice it, Powder/Jinx is an annoying character, and despite so many fawning videos on YouTube exploring the complexities of her insanity and her volatile relationships with those around her, I found I couldn't connect with Jinx in any meaningful way. 

Yet another problem, strangely enough, comes from the relationship between the animation and the story. There's a scene at the end of the final episode of Season 1 in which a character launches a massively powerful weapon at Piltover's castle/fortress, where the city council meets. The animation, at that moment, makes it look as though the person launching the weapon gets vaporized during the launch, which would be a startlingly sudden end for an important main character. I'm pretty sure that Season 2 will reveal that this character has survived, but the animation seems to indicate otherwise, and that's frustrating. Come to think of it, many characters survive explosions in this story; only building collapses or bullets seem reliably to kill people.

I also felt that some of the show's most crucial concepts weren't dealt with very clearly: The Shimmer, for example, gets used by a terminally ill Viktor—along with Hextech—to restore some strength to his body. Together, The Shimmer and Hextech convert him at least partially into something like an android, taking over his leg and, I think, part of his torso. Why does this happen? Why those body parts? No idea. The volatile crystals powering the Hextech devices aren't very thoroughly explained; we see one device that behaves like a Rubik's Cube, facets twisting and turning in different directions as the device floats in a glow of energy. "Arcane" isn't joking about the arcane nature of magic: the magic itself is left frustratingly opaque. By the end of Season 1, all we really know is that the eldritch crystals function as energy sources that can power machines as well as portal technology that allows international trade to happen via teleportation. A basic story imperative, when magic is involved, is to lay out the magic's ground rules. This makes things both comprehensible and consistent. But "Arcane" doesn't bother to flesh out its central concept; it merely gives us a fancy light show.

Piltover and Vaun, too, aren't that well explained, either: they're apparently part of a much larger world, with rival countries like Noxia, ruled by the muscular Ambessa Medarda (Thomas). And this is a world that casually includes races that are either aliens or fantastical creatures. Is this world part of a galaxy of worlds? Is it part of a multiverse? The world-building here feels woefully incomplete, but maybe that's something that later seasons will clear up, or maybe the answers I seek lie in the video game.

To be clear, I have nothing but respect for what the writers and animators have done. I can see why there's been so much nerd commentary about the series, from both gamers and non-gamers. There's undeniably a lot to talk about in terms of the series's awesome visuals, complex characters, and interwoven story elements. But all of that said, I still wasn't as gripped by this story as I was by "Blue Eye Samurai." I'll be happy to watch Season 2 of "Arcane" whenever it comes out (Season 1 apparently took six years to produce, with later seasons to appear faster), but I don't yet know whether this is a show I'll be interested in all the way to the end.

Ultimately, "Arcane" gets my recommendation, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I might not be the series's target demographic.



New Year's Resolutions

I blow hot and cold when it comes to resolutions for the new year: they're always the same resolutions, and I always fail at them. But hope springs eternal, so...

• lose weight
• improve strength and flexibility
• make progress on the book project I've procrastinated on
• have a foot-problem-free long hike

Generic, to the point, and pretty much the same as always. How about you?



"best pizza"? this settles nothing

Ah, the vain quest for the "best" pizza. The matter is so subjective that there's no settling it.

The methodology used in the video is so laughably unscientific that I'm pretty sure the whole exercise is partly or wholly unserious. As I wrote in a comment:

I appreciate the effort to make such a video, but for me, things started to go wrong when it was decided that pepperoni was a "crutch." And claiming you need a straight cheese pizza, then allowing basil as a topping, doesn't increase my confidence in the fairness of this far-reaching review.

Really, I'm thinking fairness was never the point, and Joshua should have been more up-front about that: he was on a quest to find the best pizza for him. Some other commenters below the video said they could tell Joshua was a pizza rookie.

Pepperoni pizza should have been the baseline: pepperoni is one of the most basic tastes/smells/experiences to be associated with pizza. And that whole nonsense in which Scott hijacks the video, suggests removing pepperoni to be able to taste the "basic" pizza, then allowing basil to be placed on top for evaluation was just ludicrous. So, we're saying pepperoni bad, but basil good? I call bullshit on the whole endeavor. Joshua, you're better than this.



Saturday, December 30, 2023

blowback... or blow your back out

Wanna see what happens when a gun is so powerful that it can blow body armor back through a human torso?

Any people who try to invade Scott's property deserve whatever's coming to them.



my one Christmas present in Korea

I've purchased a proper food processor for my Korean coworker to help him improve his pie-crust game. True, you don't need a food processor to make pie crust, but the machine does make the work a hell of a lot easier. Since my UK-made Kenwood has proved to be so awesome, I got my coworker a Kenwood as well. I hope he uses it.



"Why Socialism Sucks in Theory and Practice"

Just two-and-a-half minutes of your time (1.25 min. at 2X speed):





idiotic design

One of the reasons why I hate being stuck with a wireless mouse on modern Mac desktops is the recharging: you must physically plug a USB cable into the bottom of the mouse, thus rendering it useless during recharge. This, in turn, restricts the time of day for when to charge the mouse: right before you go to sleep or right before you leave for work are pretty much your only choices. It's a stupid design, and I am, frankly, not a fan of wireless mice or keyboards. I'm not against batteries, per se: a battery in a laptop is perfectly sensible. But mice and keyboards work just fine with physical wires, and if long wires are an annoyance for you, you can just wind up the loose part and hold it bundled together with a simple elastic band.

Below is a vid about the hilarious-but-sadly-real concept of "unnovation," something Apple is definitely guilty of, especially in the post-Jobs era:





China: hey, it's not just fentanyl!

Quick aside: I hate it when illiterates misspell or mispronounce the drug as "fentynol." Look carefully at the spelling, guys: f e n t a n y l, pronounced "FEN-tuh-nill."

So! Along with fentanyl, China has a burgeoning pot industry on US soil:

One way to defeat a people is through its vices. I'm surprised China's not more well known for doing something with alcohol. That, to me, would be the quick route to defeating America. Alcohol, cigarettes, sugary drinks, fried foods—so many potential avenues to explore.



even the Austrians think Harvard is antisemitic

Headline:

Austrian business school cuts ties with Harvard in solidarity with Jewish students

An Austrian business school founded by billionaire Ronald Lauder has severed its partnership with Harvard University, the latest blow to the college’s prestige amid rising campus antisemitism in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israeli civilians.

The Lauder Business School said it was affiliated since 2014 with the Microeconomics of Competitiveness Affiliate Network developed by Harvard professor Michael Porter at the university’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness.

“Lauder Business School has withdrawn from this network and expresses solidarity with the Jewish student community at Harvard University in light of recent events,” said the school in a Dec. 14 post on Facebook. “Our institution is forming new partnerships that are more closely aligned with our core values and standards.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center praised the Vienna-based school’s decision, calling it a “powerful, ethical move,” while world-renowned Rabbi Shmuley Boteach pointed to the irony of an institution in Austria, an anti-Jewish hub during the Holocaust, schooling an American icon.

“You know American universities are screwed when it’s the Austrians who have to sever ties with Harvard because of American academic antisemitism,” the rabbi wrote on X.

The school’s statement, which was flagged Tuesday by The Jerusalem Post, comes as the latest hit to the Harvard brand amid allegations of anti-Israel protests on campus seen as crossing the line into antisemitism, as well as a full-blown plagiarism scandal over the work of President Claudine Gay.

Obviously, Claudine Gay must go. And Harvard needs to recognize that it has an antisemitism problem before it begins the work of repairing the damage it's done. Then again, if we zoom back and examine the larger picture, Harvard has much more than an antisemitism problem: it's been discriminating against all sorts of high-performing students of merit, e.g. South Asians and East Asians and—lest we forget—whites. In short, Harvard has a racism problem that has festered for decades: more evidence that the left is virulently racist. But the road to redemption is a rough one, and with Harvard's financial backers apparently standing in lockstep with Gay, the only real solution is snipers and flamethrowers. Burn it all down.



"Blue Eye Samurai," Season 1

Mizu (Maya Erskine)

[WARNING: spoilers. Also: I've acceded to spelling the series title the creators' way.]

Before I begin the review in earnest, a quick trip back to biology class:

Think back to ages ago. You may remember learning about the Punnett Square in biology class. It's a mathematical way of determining the probability that a certain trait might present itself in offspring. Take as a given that the allele for brown eyes is dominant (B), and the allele for blue eyes is recessive (b). So a brown-eyed person can be fully brown-eyed (BB) or brown-eye dominant (Bb). Either way, what you see is brown eyes. For a recessive trait like blue eyes to appear, both alleles in a pair need to be recessive (bb). In the Punnett Square on the left, you see what happens when, say, a full-blooded Japanese woman (BB) is raped by a white man with blue eyes (bb). Her offspring will all be brown-eyed. Now, if this woman were brown-eye dominant for whatever reason (Bb), there's a 50% chance (see the right-side Punnett Square) that she'll have a blue-eyed child.

This matters because it's the elephant in the room: the premise of Netflix's 2023 animated adventure series "Blue Eye Samurai" is that the main character, Mizu, is the product of a rape: her Japanese mother was ravished by a blue-eyed Westerner. So unless Mizu's mother was herself somehow brown-eye dominant (Bb), Mizu, as a first-generation blue-eye (bb), is a biological impossibility. The first season never clears up the question of who Mizu's mother really is (in fact, the woman we think of as her mother turns out not to be her mother at all), so whether we're in the realm of fantasy or reality is unclear.

"Blue Eye Samurai" is a Franco-American cooperative effort with French animation studio Blue Spirit. It was created and written by Michael Green and Amber Noizumi, who are husband and wife. Jane Wu was the supervising director and producer. The series stars the voice talents of Maya Erskine, Masi Oka, Darren Barnet, Brenda Song, George Takei, Randall Park, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Kenneth Branagh, Ming-Na Wen, Harry Shum Jr., Mark Dacascos, Orli Mariko Green, Judah Green, Patrick Gallagher, and Ann Harada.

The main story focuses on Mizu (Erskine), a blue-eyed, half-Japanese girl who is the child of rape. As a half-breed in 1600s-era Japan (the Edo Period), young Mizu (OM Green) is known locally as a demon, an onryo, a freak of nature. Her mother (who turns out to be a maid [Harada] charged with caring for Mizu) warns her to dress and act like a boy and to do what she can not to call attention to herself. Mizu fails miserably at being inconspicuous, and she is tormented by the local boys, who are led by chief bully Taigen (J Green, then Barnet as the adult Taigen). During one such bullying session, a mysterious meteor streaks across the sky and comes crashing down near the dwelling of old, blind Master Eiji (Tagawa), a renowned swordsmith. Mizu helps Master Eiji transport the rock to his abode, where he discovers the metal is of a curious nature. Despite Eiji's command to leave, Mizu refuses to depart and becomes Eiji's apprentice. As she learns the art of swordsmithing, Mizu also picks up fighting techniques from the samurai who routinely visit Eiji for his swords. Knowing she is at a physical disadvantage as a girl, Mizu strengthens herself by training (and walking around with) metal weights strapped to her arms and legs.

Mizu eventually confesses to Master Eiji (who never learns she is a girl) that she has long harbored a desire to avenge herself on the four Western men she is aware of living in Japan. During this period in Japan's history, Westerners have been mostly kicked out, and their presence in the country is technically illegal, but some Westerners remain, hiding in remote places and sometimes interfering in Japanese affairs. Mizu doesn't know which of the four Westerners on her list is the true father, so she plans to kill them all, starting with an Irishman named Fowler (Branagh). Fowler is sequestered on a small island and is supervised by Heiji Shindo (Park, at his smarmiest), and Mizu eventually finds out Fowler's location. Fowler, for his part, becomes aware of Mizu and sends out the Four Fangs, assassins whose leader, Blood-soaked Chiaki (Dacascos), once came to Master Eiji for a sword.

Fowler, meanwhile, has plans to kill the shogun with the help of a contingent of Japanese soldiers trained to use European firearms. While gathering information about Heiji Shindo and Fowler, a grown-up Mizu humiliates her old bully Taigen, who has become the star samurai at the Shindo dojo, run by Heiji's brother). Taigen swears revenge and goes looking for Mizu. Meanwhile, Mizu is aided on her quest by a cheerful noodle chef with no hands named Ringo (Oka), who is a strange combination of bumbling and super-stealthy. 

Elsewhere, young Princess Akemi (Song), ahead of her time, is wrestling for control of her own future. At first, it seems she might be married off to Taigen, with whom she is initially in love, but later, her father (Gallagher) declares she must marry the second son of the shogun (Shum Jr.), a cruel tyrant by reputation. Akemi struggles to learn how to maneuver within the strict confines of castle intrigue and the frustrating strictures of life as royalty.

As the season progresses, the relationships between and among the main characters change and develop: Taigen proves not to be quite the arrogant bastard he first seems to be; Ringo is not as blindly cheerful as he initially appears to be; and even bad guys like Heiji Shindo and Fowler aren't as simple as they first appear.

The story moves along at a steady clip without ever rushing to get from one plot point to the next. The complexity of the subplots arises naturally and organically, making the story hard to predict. While the motivations of the various characters are clear, the morality of their situation is not and often seems to change as new facts are learned. The style of the animation reflects this blend of simplicity and complexity: it combines some lightly 3D elements with plenty of hand-drawn 2D, all done in tune with what I might call a somewhat Westernized Japanese aesthetic. The voice work is superb, as you might expect from a stable of superb actors. Maya Erskine, half-Japanese herself, is the perfect choice to play half-breed Mizu. Season 1 ends with a shot that will strongly remind people of Arya Stark's final scene in "Game of Thrones," but that's not really a complaint. Also of note is how the story is saturated with Japanese mythology without ever creeping into magical realism: there are no talking dragons or mythical beasts: those things remain within the confines of the imagination.

From a Korean-speaker's perspective, there are elements of Japanese language that will cause some giggles. A character called Seki (Takei), the attendant/advisor who has raised Princess Akemi, has a name that will remind Koreans of the swear word saekgi/새끼, which means the offspring of an animal (so 개새끼/gae-saekgi = dog-offspring, i.e., son of a bitch). Japanese islands also terminate in the suffix "-seki," so there are many chances for Koreans to have a laugh. One prominent minor character is named Madame Gaji (Wen), and in Korean, a gaji/가지 is an eggplant. Funnily enough, Ringo talks about his hatred and avoidance of eggplants early in the season.

The cast is an ensemble of Asians, Caucasians, and others from all over. I suppose this doesn't matter much since all the characters speak English, mostly with American accents except, obviously, for Fowler, with Kenneth Branagh—who is Irish by birth—leaning hard into his Irish brogue. I'm tempted to complain about Hollywood's propensity for assembling a motley crew of Asians (hey, they all look and sound the same!) instead of choosing an exclusively Japanese or ethnically Japanese set of actors, but because this is an animated series, I don't think this is as problematic as it might be for a live-action story.

"Blue Eye Samurai" definitely falls under the category of adult animation: it features plenty of swearing, full-frontal nudity (both male and female), blood, gore, and all manner of adult situations that are in no way kid-friendly. It's always interesting to see animation that isn't just for the kiddies, and luckily for us viewers, "Blue Eye Samurai," despite its biologically ridiculous premise, tells a constantly compelling story, packed with flashbacks, seeming time jumps, smash cuts to completely different scenes, and phantasmagoric hallucinations. I'll be curious to see where the plot goes for Season 2.

The theme of revenge makes the plot seem simple at first, but the complicated weave of subplots and themes and characters keeps the narrative tapestry riveting. This is a well-crafted story focused on a woman's journey through her own hell. Mizu is an excellently written female character, not presented as a Mary Sue who merely appears on scene fully formed and kicking ass: she repeatedly suffers grievous harm, isn't always the strongest or the fastest, and has a painful past involving bullying, hard work, and hard training. The Mizu we come to know has earned her place: we understand how and why she has become such a good fighter, and we can feel grim satisfaction as she takes down a long line of enemies. At the same time, we can pity Mizu because her quest for revenge is motivated by a kind of self-hatred: she's convinced that the Japanese around her are right to see her as a blue-eyed demon, an onryo, and in the end, she hates her nameless father for having had a role in bringing her into existence. But we can also respect Mizu's lack of self-pity, which comes thanks to her singularity of purpose. There's isn't a single "woe is me" bone in her body. Mizu is very much like the swords she grew up forging—honed in spirit.

I binged the entire eight-episode season, starting my viewing on Christmas, in the evening, and continuing through the night until the early morning of the 26th. It was that compelling. If you're on Netflix, I highly recommend the series to you and think you'll end up as invested as I was in the fates of Mizu, Akemi, Taigen, Ringo, and Fowler. Overall, "Blue Eye Samurai" is itself something of a half-breed production, Franco-American and East-West in nature, about a protagonist with whom I can relate, at least superficially, as a fellow half-and-half.



Canada, land of medical delays

I know Canadians like to tout their health care, which is supposedly superior to the overly expensive care provided in the States. But one problem that has long dogged Canadian health care is a close cousin of the problem found in the UK: extremely long delays. In Canada, it sucks to be a cancer patient because you might not see a doctor for months, giving your cancer plenty of time to grow and metastasize. Now, I'm sure that Canucks who read these words will utter a lot of "Pfft" and other dismissive sounds, then tell me the whole situation's exaggerated. But I keep hearing about this problem, and it's not going away. 

Here's the latest headline.

Canadian Health Care Leaves Patients Frozen In Line

A new research paper from the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, shows what happens when everyone within a country is trapped in a public health-insurance system.

This year, Canadian patients faced a median wait of 27.7 weeks for medically necessary treatment from a specialist after being referred by a general practitioner. That's over six months—the longest ever recorded. It's a slight increase from last year's median wait—and a 198% increase from the 9.3-week median wait that patients faced in 1993, the year that Fraser began tracking wait times.

Be sure to read the rest.



everyone loves BALLS

I'm guessing this bit of humor comes courtesy of AI voices:





you will never hear "shampoo" the same way ever again

Funny SNL sketches after the show's 70s/80s heyday are few and far between, but they do exist. Here's a sketch with the cast doing impressions of De Niro, Pesci, and Dreyfuss.



Friday, December 29, 2023

Patrick Stewart remembers Vivian Leigh

I'm glad this little piece of history was caught and preserved on video:





Amazon, doing well with "Reacher," stupidly doubles down on
"The Rings of Power," Season 2

How can Amazon, which has shown that it understands the formula for success given shows like "Reacher," stupidly blunder onward to a second season of "The Rings of Power" that will only feature more of The Message?





is it this bad in America?

This is a sign about suicide prevention. Dial 109 to talk to somebody. I suspect a lot of suicides happen around this time of year. In general, I see a lot of suicide-prevention posters and signs, which got me to wondering whether it's this bad in the States. Chime in with a comment.



your humor for the day: Jedi powers

When I think about what special powers I'd like to have, it always comes back to telekinesis: the ability to use your mind to force physical circumstances to bend to your will. A telekinetic finger poking into someone's brain would be a delight if that person cuts in line in front of me, or swerves his bike into my walking path, or speaks rudely to me for no reason. I'd practice on people until I figured out how to activate pain centers, and every driver who failed to use his turn signal would find himself in excruciating agony for days. Yeah, I'd be mercilessly cruel to all the assholes. But I'd also help good folks, too—preventing suicides and so on. In the video below, we discover another use for Jedi powers.





the Trump/Colorado loophole

"It's almost like the mainstream media wants Trump to be a dictator."

As I've repeatedly noted, if the left truly believed Trump to be a dictator, they'd be too petrified to say anything for fear of being hauled off and placed in a labor camp or put up against a wall and shot. Because that's what real dictators do. So really, what this means is that a bunch of cowards are loudly sounding off because they know nothing will happen to them.



Styx will finally be on a Timcast episode!

Styx says he'll be on a Timcast episode at the end of January. Mark your calendars for the ultimate alt-media meet-up. Otherwise, the rest of the video below is about Styx's impression of Tim Pool's having made Dem presidential candidate Marianne Williamson (the moony, woo-woo spiritual one) very uncomfortable with questions about the right to a fair trial.

For all her supposed spirituality, Marianne Williamson is apparently a bitch in real life.



"Megamind": review

L to R: Jonah Hill as Tighten (sic) and Will Ferrell as Megamind
[WARNING: some spoilers.]

"Megamind" is a Dreamworks animated production that came out in 2010, and I saw it only recently—yet another cultural moment that had somehow slipped by me for years. The movie is a superhero-action-comedy flick directed by Tom McGrath ("Madagascar") starring SNL alums Will Ferrell and Tina Fey, along with Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and David Cross. 

It tells the story of Megamind (Ferrell), one of two aliens who rocketed to Earth as babies when their worlds exploded simultaneously. Megamind and his counterpart, who grows up to become the Superman-like hero Metro Man (Pitt), both land in the area of Metro City, with the blue-humanoid infant Megamind ending up among prisoners, and the more human-looking Metro Man landing in a rich estate. Knowing nothing but prisons, prisoners, and crime, Megamind grows up to become a supervillain; Metro Man, knowing only the patrician life of rich people, with all the privileges that come with such a life, grows up to become Metro City's heroic-but-egotistical protector. Forever documenting the conflict between Megamind and Metro Man is Roxanne Ritchi (Fey) who covers events with the help of her faithful—and infatuated—cameraman Hal Stewart (Hill).

Ironically, Megamind, despite his weather-balloon-sized cranium, proves not to be the mental giant he thinks he is. He concocts fiendish plan after fiendish plan to take over Metro City (which he constantly mispronounces as "Metrocity," rhyming with "velocity"), but Metro Man is always there to thwart him. One scenario that repeats itself to the point of being a running joke is Metro Man's kidnapping of Roxanne, who by this point has become so jaded, and who knows the script so well, that she's actually bored whenever she gets kidnapped and is threatened with all manner of horrible tortures. But one day, as Megamind and Metro Man are battling it out, Metro Man reveals he has a weakness to copper, and Megamind seizes the opportunity to blast Metro Man with a death ray while the latter is trapped inside a copper-domed observatory. Metro Man's skeleton sails across the distance and comes crashing at Megamind's feet. Initially startled and ecstatic at having finally defeated Metro Man, Megamind and his goldfish-like assistant Minion (Cross) go on a spree, terrorizing Metro City.

Eventually, though, Megamind comes to realize that Metro Man had given him a sense of purpose, and now that Megamind had control of Metro City, there was no longer anything to strive for. At the same time, Megamind discovers he's falling for Roxanne, and he uses one of his inventions to change his appearance into that of Bernard, a young museum curator, so as to appear less alien. Megamind also resolves to create a new Metro Man to fight, which means using a bit of Metro Man's DNA to create an injector. Unfortunately, Megamind accidentally injects this super-DNA into Hal Stewart, Roxanne's dumpy, frumpy cameraman. This is when the plot really kicks into gear. The rest of the movie is about how Hal, who renames himself Tighten (sic, not "Titan"), turns out to be a holy terror even worse than Megamind himself, thus forcing Megamind to become—gasp—a superhero who has to save Metro City.

As animated superhero flicks go, "Megamind" is fine, but it's not anywhere near the level of my all-time favorite animated superhero film, "The Incredibles." The voice work and visuals are all great, and there are a few laugh-out-loud moments, but I remember thinking that Neal Patrick Harris, who has supervillain experience after playing the quirky role of Dr. Horrible, might have been a better fit for the main role than Will Ferrell. Regardless, Megamind at least gets something of a character arc; Roxanne, not so much.

I think the thing that bothered me most about the film's setup was that Megamind is never really given much of a chance to show off just what a genius he is. The script, violating the show-don't-tell rule, tells us Megamind is supposed to be a genius, and we do briefly glimpse some of his whackier inventions, but what stands out is that he gets beaten time and again by Metro Man, who is basically Superman but with a moderately human-level IQ. Metro Man, too, could have used a bit more character development. There are hints that, despite his conceited nature, he's actually got a good heart and truly enjoys protecting the people of Metro City even if he somewhat looks down upon them. Unfortunately, and for plot-related reasons, Metro Man drops out of the picture before resurfacing much later thanks to a twist.

If the story has any sort of moral—and movies geared toward children usually do—I suppose it's that you should be yourself, but the movie takes a weird path to arrive at that moral. Perhaps a more fundamental theme is that of nature versus nurture: the movie at first seems to go all-in for nurture, arguing that Megamind and Metro Man became who they were simply by virtue of their childhood environments. But by the end, with Megamind forced into (or maybe choosing) the role of the good guy, the movie could be arguing the opposite: through the new supervillain Tighten, Megamind discovers his own good and caring nature, and this changes him. If this surmise is correct, then "Megamind" might be a deeper movie than I'm giving it credit for, and I might need to watch it again.

"Megamind" didn't exactly move my soul, but it was entertaining enough. It's not "The Incredibles" because I don't think anything can quite reach that level of storytelling, but it's not a bad way to spend 96 minutes. See it with my blessing.



is Hollywood going to learn from this?

I think the answer is no: Hollywood will learn nothing from its many disasters and setbacks, and it will continue to push ideology over story. Again, to be clear, the ideology is in a realm of take it or leave it, i.e., it's not the central problem, and whether the ideology has merit is not the issue: the real problem comes when studios feel a compulsive need to follow the same ideological playbook over and over again, and to the detriment of story. As Cartman said in that "South Park" Panderverse episode, Put a chick in it and make it lame and gay!

Remember that "Wonder Woman" was a hit even with the main character being the ultimate girl-boss—essentially a demigoddess raised by a warrior culture to be the ultimate fighter. I didn't have a problem with that, and neither did anyone else. Why? Because despite its flaws, the movie told a good story. It's not strong women (or prominent LGBTQ folks or whatever) that we hate: it's weak stories. And until Hollywood gets that message through its thick fucking skull, we can expect more and more ideology-driven crap. This is why, in most cases, I'd rather watch people face-planting on YouTube.



Thursday, December 28, 2023

a cappella Elton John medley





Styx with a modest proposal about swatting

This sounds like a great idea:

Related article here. View swatting as attempted murder.



China continues to squeeze the life out of Hong Kong

Hong Kong got shafted after the Brits turned it back over to China.





Chris Christie removed from ballot in Maine

So it's not just Trump:





I guess she won't be Trump's VP

Kari Lake is on her way to becoming a new senator for Arizona:





grim reality in Japan

The Japanese, burdened by their elderly, are apparently killing them:

Not enough of those AI elder-care robots yet, I guess.

Somewhat related thought: remember that "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode about the society that ritually kills its citizens when they turn sixty? Strict enforcement of the retirement age. At 54, I'm getting close to that cutoff. Is it time to Soylent Green me?



John Wick vs. a million Spartans

I predicted that the Spartans would win, but I didn't anticipate that the John Wick in the simulation below would have unlimited ammunition. In real life, Wick would probably just run without even bothering to waste his ammo. Head for those cliffs, John!





as promised, the enlargements are done!

Photo-enlargement is done!

All that's left now is the captioning, and that'll probably take me through mid-January. In the meantime, if you want to revisit the 2023 walk blog and see the photo essays, feel free. You can still enlarge the pics even further if you want: click on a pic, then right-click on that image and hit "open image in new tab," and you'll see it at full size or nearly so. I'll be sure to tell you when the captioning is done, and that'll be that for Kevin's Walk 7.



Wednesday, December 27, 2023

I'd love to see this brought to life

I get that this idea would be unwieldy in reality since every train car would need its own gyroscope, but damn, this would be a sight to see in real life:





the suicide of Lee Sun-kyun

Someone slapped this up on Instapundit:

I wrote the following comment in response:

One of the worst things that can happen to a person in a group-first culture like Korea's is to be ostracized, to become what Koreans call 왕따/wangdda, or a social outcast. To be cut off from the hive is to shrivel and die. In group-first culture, then, notions of "face" and "honor" and "shame" are all public: they have to do with what others think of you, and your standing in society is affected by people's attitudes toward you, so even the impression that you've become involved with drugs (South Korea is prudish about drugs except for alcohol) is enough to drain you of social capital.

This is in contrast with guilt, which is a private thing between you and your conscience or you and God. Guilt is there whether people are watching you or not. Shame, on the other hand, only happens when you've been caught at something or erred publicly. The classic example of shame is Dr. Hwang Woo-seok, a geneticist who got caught faking data—a pattern of behavior going back years. Had he never been caught, Dr. Hwang would simply have continued along his twisted path, but because he got caught, he made a big show of repentance—tears, "getting sick" such that he went to the hospital, and bowing apologetically for supposedly having let everyone down. None of that comes from a conscience: it comes from the public sense of shame. And because the Korean public is forgiving when people grovel, Hwang eventually returned to his practice.

While many of us in the West will say suicide is a selfish act because the person committing suicide hasn't considered the effect of his death on those around him, many in places like Korea will see suicide as an altruistic gesture, an act of abject apology for having already hurt others, as well as an act that might restore one's "face" or "honor" in some measure. Far from being "the coward's way out," suicide is arguably viewed as brave or even noble. Unlike Japan, though, Korea has no grand tradition of ritual suicide, so people breathe in carbon monoxide from charcoal or leap off apartment buildings or step in front of subways (harder to do, these days, thanks to all the suicide barriers).

I'm of two minds on the whole issue. I used to have a much harsher attitude toward people who kill themselves, but working with ADHD kids years ago taught me that chemical imbalances are real, so why shouldn't this be true for clinical depression? I've also come to see, at least somewhat, the Korean point of view about suicide even if I don't accept that point of view. And there are, frankly, times when I wish members of American celebrity culture would find a sense of shame instead acting out even more after being discovered to be garbage people. Someone like Madonna can be called out as a slut, and she'll simply double down on her behavior instead of taking the honorable way out. I'd prefer that she fall on her sword, but people like her never will.

Anyway, Lee Sun-kyun's suicide is a shame and a tragedy no matter which cultural lens you view it through. Another talented person gone too soon. And even though the movie he starred in, "Parasite," was a shamelessly overt Marxist tract, it told a gripping story well. Lee was part of that.

And now, to end on a digression: I hate K-dramas. The shouting and screaming, the tears, the repetitively formulaic nature of each drama's story... my mother used to watch those dramas, and whenever I walked in on her, I'd troll her by asking, "또 우는 게? 또 싸우는 게?" They're crying again? They're fighting again? Mom would give me a sour look, then go back to her viewing.

I should explain that digression. The Instapundit commenter who uploaded the above news image started his/her comment by saying how much s/he liked K-dramas.



Jack Smith's setback redux





more on academe's problems

Not pursuing a doctorate in today's environment may be one of the best decisions I ever made.

Nothing you hear in the above video is particularly new, but it's nice to have it all rounded up in one place. It doesn't hurt that the professor is nerd-cute.



was Jesus Palestinian? here's one opinion

Headline:

Jesus was not Palestinian[;] we need to dispel that myth forever

The ahistorical myth that Jesus was a Palestinian is often rooted in nationalist propaganda designed to erase Jewish history and memory, a centuries-old system of anti-Jewish oppression.

With Christmas bells a’ringing and billions soon to begin their celebrations, Jesus, a Jew, would be in for a real surprise (and identity crisis) to hear guests on his birthday claiming that he was from Palestine, a term he might have never encountered during his lifetime. Nevertheless, it’s that time of year; when like clockwork, some pro-Palestinian activists have again begun unleashing social media posts claiming that Jesus – born in Bethlehem – was a Palestinian.

In reality, Jesus was a proud, observant Jew who lived in his indigenous homeland of Judea and Galilee – from manger to grave. The myth that Jesus was Palestinian, a ploy designed to invite Christians to support Palestinian nationalism, often morphs into deliberate efforts to deny Jews their history, indigeneity, and right to sovereignty in Israel. Ironically, as Jews seek to combat rising antisemitism, now might be a good time to set the record straight on Christianity’s most important figure.

I've heard the term "Palestinian Jew" bandied about in religious-studies circles; I may even have bought into it for a while. Now, I'm aware there's a huge debate about the "Palestinian-ness" of Jesus, so I'm more cautious.



Claudine Gay holds on to her power

I feel as if I'm quoting this ad nauseam, but

All who gain power are afraid to lose it.
—Sith maxim

Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, is one of three women who messed up royally while recently testifying before Congress about burgeoning campus antisemitism. The question was put to her, to President Liz Magill (U. Penn), and to President Sally Kornbluth (MIT): does genocide-speech violate your university's speech policies? Astoundingly, all three presidents gave the same rehearsed, squirrelly, legalistic, now-much-parodied answer: It depends on the context. All three ladies were rightly mocked and excoriated for their statements, and Liz Magill has resigned—the only one, so far, to fall on her sword. All eyes now turn to Claudine Gay, and Gay shows no signs that she, too, will resign. The rightie interpretation of her recalcitrance—which I find plausible—is obvious: Gay understands she has an intersectional advantage, being black, female, and a lesbian. That's a lot of plot armor. She also has people like President Barack Obama in her corner, this despite the fact that she has over 40 accusations of plagiarism (I saw one example, and it was pretty egregious) on top of her obtuse congressional testimony.

But another, more generic interpretation of Gay's resistance to resignation is the Sith one: Gay enjoys her power and wants to keep it even if this means torching Harvard's already-damaged reputation. The human ego is an astounding thing, especially in Western culture, where the ego stands more or less at the center of a Westerner's existence.* But yes, Gay seems ready to take all of Harvard down with her, and she doesn't seem to realize that she may end up presiding over nothing more than the ashes of a university's destroyed reputation. (Not that I care: I've lost most of my love for academe and wouldn't mind seeing it burn down.) 

I'll be morbidly curious to see what Gay and Kornbluth do. Kornbluth seems safe for the moment, however bizarre it may be to say that. I guess her rich MIT backers have no problem with her nonresistance to antisemitism. The same may be true for Harvard: people may just be waiting for all of this to blow over. I hope the Jewish students don't forget, though, and I hope they remain vocal. Those kids, and their parents, also need to stop voting Democrat.

Headline:

Claudine Gay’s resignation won’t fix Harvard’s reputation — only school admitting it ‘made a bad choice of leader’ will, Bill Ackman says

Billionaire Bill Ackman said Saturday that even if embattled Harvard University President Claudine Gay resigns over her plagiarism and antisemitism controversies, the Ivy League school’s damaged reputation will not be restored.

Ackman, an alumnus, said that Harvard can only restore its reputation as one of the world’s premier universities “when the Corporation board members acknowledge that they made a bad choice of leader, which they have been unwilling to do,” he wrote in a lengthy X post.

Gay is facing increasing calls to step down over mounting evidence that she plagiarized several dozen times in her academic work — and as Harvard faces criticism over its handling of a wave of on-campus antisemitism after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

To date, the Harvard Corporation, the school’s highest governing body, has staunchly defended its president with unanimous support.

__________

*This isn't to say there's no such thing as ego in the East. There is, and it often results in similar behavior by certain public figures. But Easterners are still more likely, in general, to sacrifice themselves for the greater good (or as I like to think of it, the hive mind) because the culture here remains primarily group-oriented, not self-oriented.



"10 most mortifying moments" of 2023





bye-bye, EVs?

EVs seem to make sense in places like Seoul and small countries like Korea, but they make no sense at all in a large country like the United States.

Headline:

The “Electric Vehicle Revolution” Is DOA

In the early days of the push for electric vehicles to replace gas-powered vehicles, they were novelties used for virtue signaling. As the push from government leftists ramped up quickly, millions worldwide jumped onboard willingly or reluctantly as it appeared that an EV future was inevitable.

Now that the market has matured, challenges are evident. Electric vehicles are unreliable. They are expensive to repair. The infrastructure to power them is insufficient today even though they only make up a tiny percentage of what’s on the road. Behind all of these roadblocks is an underlying reality: Far fewer people are joining the climate change cult than the powers-that-be had hoped.

Force-feeding us through regulations, incentives, and massive ESG bullying campaigns have failed miserably. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost for a fearmongering industry that couldn’t deliver on any of their promises. Is the “Electric Vehicle Revolution” dying?

No. It was dead before it got here.

Audi is joining U.S. automakers in slashing production of EVs. On the retail side, Ford dealers are backing away from even offering EVs. Reports of coming challenges for EV drivers are making the Christmas news cycle. This isn’t the future that climate change cultists were promised and it’s impacting faith in the movement.

Below is an article highlighting the worst indicator of them all: Lack of used EV enthusiasm.

Read the rest.



Tuesday, December 26, 2023

the annoying Taylor Lorenz, in the news again

Headline:

Taylor Lorenz skips Christmas for 4th straight year because of Covid, accuses those who don’t wear masks of 'social murder of disabled people'

Washington Post writer Taylor Lorenz is missing Christmas for the fourth straight year because of Covid. The notorious tech writer who doxxed Libs of TikTok and cried over mean DMs on Twitter has spent the past several months spouting off on Threads, Meta's woke Twitter alternative, about how Covid is still a thing, people should still wear masks, and information on long Covid is being blocked, suppressed, and downranked.

In responding to a Threads user who was recommending Covid mitigation methods for social gatherings, Lorenz said "Totally agree with you on the mitigation advice, but I very much judge anyone who participates in the social murder of disabled people just because it's 'the holidays.' Many of us who are high risk are missing our FOURTH Christmas because other selfish people can't be bothered to mask and take basic precautions that allow us to safely participate in public life. They don't feel enough shame and judgement imo, instead infection has been fully normalized."

Lorenz the crybaby doxxer hypocrite. She deserves all the stress she gets.

And what exactly does "skipping Christmas" mean? If you live in a country where Christmas is celebrated, you're going to live through December 25 with everyone else even if you shut yourself inside for whatever paranoid reason. Maybe she's "skipping Christmas events"?



reviews coming soon

I have reviews for "Megamind," "High Plains Drifter," and "Blue Eye Samurai" (binged on Christmas Day!) coming soon, so stay tuned for those.



gay-sex video in a Senate chamber, abortion news, east-coast storms, the Pope, and slamming into Biden's motorcade





seeing insurrection where there is none

Trump was supposedly "caught" in a phone call plotting insurrection, but the actual audio simply reveals a man who has an opinion about the fairness of the 2020 election, and who wants to pursue legal means to achieve justice.

Another nothingburger, distraction, and pile of bullshit. Expect more. Much more.



do I sense a jab at Biden...?

Canada has a history of being self-righteously critical of the US, but Canuck Ryan George is, generally speaking, reliably leftist. This makes it even more interesting, then, that he might put out the following video about really old people engaged in political debates:

Maybe it's not meant to be such, but the above feels like a jab at ancient politicians like Joe Biden and—let's face it—Donald Trump, who is no spring chicken himself. The flailing incoherence in the sketch seems more Biden-like, though.



China's new COVID "vaccine"... yay?





a few more from Styx

Styx currently lives in the Netherlands with his wife and daughter, but the family has temporarily traveled back to Vermont, which had been Styx's home for years. Now back on his native soil, where he still retains a property, Styx seems to be more productive than ever, so here are a few more of his videos.

Using polls for prognostication:

Jack Smith's setback:

Say it ain't so: is Trump really considering Nikki Haley to be his running mate?

I will be both unsurprised and disappointed if Trump picks a neocon warmonger like Nikki Haley to be his running mate. Kari Lake, Vivek Ramaswamy, or even the politically untested Tucker Carlson might be even better. Not Nikki, Don. Please, not Nikki. Don't continue your track record of choosing Judases for your entourage.



Ron White on deer huntin'

Texan comedian Ron White does his impression of a cousin after the cousin had killed a deer:





Monday, December 25, 2023

Christmas dinner and beyond

Christmas dinner was Alfredo spaghetti—with the sauce prepared the classic way for once, i.e., Parmigiano instead of my usual Gorgonzola for a "faux-Fredo"—and "salt bread" from the Paris Baguette in my building. I also took the time to make eggnog the proper way.

Alfredo sauce: Parmigiano, heavy cream, butter, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, basil.

pasta plus salt bread (소금빵/sogeum bbang)

eggnog

It was a good meal, and the eggnog was worth the wait, bringing back memories.

Merry Christmas!