Wednesday, January 31, 2024

more tree-rat head shots

Turn away if you're squeamish:

"The Holdovers": review

Paul Giamatti as walleyed, stinky classics professor Paul Hunham

"The Holdovers" is a 2023 dramedy directed by Alexander Payne about three people trapped at a boarding school, Barton Academy, over Christmas break: classics professor Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), smart-and-smartass student Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa in his film debut), and campus chief cook Mary Lamb (Da'Vine Joy Randolph). Hunham, a hated figure on campus because of his strict ways, his awful body odor, and his propensity for failing the overprivileged sons of rich donors to the school, is stuck babysitting "the holdovers," i.e., the students who have nowhere to go over Christmas break for various reasons. Writer David Hemingson got an Oscar nomination for his original screenplay, and Giamatti and Randolph both received acting nominations as well. Sessa received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Not bad for someone just starting out.

Based on the above formula, the general arc of the plot is predictable, so the pleasure is in the specifics as the plot unfolds. Of course the difficult teacher will turn out to have a human side; of course the difficult student will turn out to be deeper than his rebellious surface might indicate; and of course the chief cook will have a complicated background. But watching these misfits interact in a New England prep-school environment as the calendar flips from 1970 to 1971 is part of the fun and all of the story. The road to mutual understanding isn't easy.

Paul Hunham isn't supposed to be the one babysitting the holdovers: his colleague Endicott had the job but begged off, manufacturing an emergency involving his mother. Hunham is also on the headmaster's shit list for having failed the son of a donor, so the babysitting job has more than a whiff of punishment about it. At first, there are five holdovers: dumbass douchebag Teddy Kountze (Brady Hepner), Mormon Alex Ollerman (Ian Dolley), shrimpy Korean student Ye-joon Park (Jim Kaplan), cool quarterback Jason Smith (Michael Provost), and Angus Tully, who is a late addition to the holdovers when he suddenly gets a call from his recently remarried mother saying she's going on holiday with her new husband, but without Angus. Jason is pretty chill, and Alex and Ye-joon are timid newbies, but Angus and Teddy—smart and stupid—hate each other. Things remain tense for a few days until Jason's dad literally swoops in with a helicopter to take all the boys skiing... but Angus can't go because his parents, off on holiday, are unreachable for permission, so he has to stay behind. Hunham has trouble sympathizing with Alex at first, but Mary the cook gently scolds Paul about his hard-ass ways, reminding him that Angus is just a kid, and the last thing he needs is harshness when he's feeling abandoned. As Hunham's rigidity melts away, he allows Angus certain liberties, from riding out to Boston to see his biological dad, who resides in a mental institution, to setting off a New Year's firecracker in the campus kitchen. Hunham also confesses to Angus that his body odor comes from a condition he has: trimethylaminuria, which makes him smell unpleasantly like fish. From the beginning, though, Hunham has a soft spot for Mary, who recently lost her son in the Vietnam War, and he doesn't tolerate it when insensitive holdovers like Terry haughtily insult Mary early on.

Break lasts for about twelve days, with various incidents and hijinks to punctuate the tedium, including a dislocated shoulder, but in the end, Hunham gets in trouble when it turns out that Angus was never supposed to visit his biological father, who's been institutionalized for a particularly violent form of paranoid schizophrenia. During Angus's visit with his dad Thomas (Stephen Thorne), Angus tries to gift his father a snow globe, but we learn later that Thomas attempted to use the globe as a weapon. Even though Angus had convinced Hunham to let him see his father, Hunham, when called into the headmaster's office to face Angus's mother and step-father, takes all the blame upon himself. Consequences ensue.

"The Holdovers" has been hailed as a "Christmas movie," probably because it takes place at Christmas and seems to espouse certain Christmas-y values. Director Payne is on record expressing confusion and distaste about this, but a film is as it's perceived, or so the death of the author crowd would say: a work, once created, passes out of the ambit of the creator and is now part of the public domain. That said, I would agree that this is not a bad Christmas movie, just as "Die Hard" is not a bad Christmas movie. The plot rambles along at its own slow, steady pace, and while the comedy is rarely laugh-out-loud funny, the humor brings a lightness of spirit that counterbalances the story's much more serious moments, such as when Mary, whom we could have mistaken for a stereotypical font of wisdom, has a loud, drunken breakdown about her dead son while she's at a Christmas party.

Alexander Payne also directed "Sideways," which also stars Paul Giamatti as the nerdy half of a nerd-stud pair of friends (the stud is played by Thomas Haden Church). Payne seems to like quirky character studies, and in "Sideways," Giamatti displayed a charming diffidence that also comes out in this film. One thing that has been kept a trade secret, though, is the nature of the special effect used to create Paul Hunham's wandering eye. In real life, Paul Giamatti has no eye problems. At a guess, it's either CGI or a cleverly crafted contact lens.

Both Giamatti and Randolph absolutely deserve their Oscar nominations, and Dominic Sessa should have been nominated for an Oscar as well. I hope Sessa wins that BAFTA award. All three actors did a fine job of plumbing their characters' depths, and they were helped along by a script that felt real and human. And while the story as a whole had a predictable feel to it, we as viewers never knew, from moment to moment, what would happen next. Writer Hemingson has said that many moments in the film are autobiographical: there's a scene involving a prostitute soliciting sex that Hemingson says really happened to his dad while the two were on a father-son outing, and there's a cherries-jubilee scene involving way too much alcohol that was, according to Hemingson, based on something that happened to his mother. And what's wrong with mining your own life for moments of vérité, right?

Paul Giamatti attended Choate Rosemary Hall, a famous boarding school in New England, and he used those memories to inform his performance. I've actually been to Choate: it's got an impressive campus and looks like a college. As a student at Georgetown, I'd occasionally see fellow students wearing Choate sweatshirts; I didn't know how to pronounce the name: thinking of inchoate ("in-KO-eyt"), I thought the word might be pronounced "KO-eyt," but it's actually just "choat," rhyming with "coat." Actor Dominic Sessa is also a 2022 prep-school grad (Deerfield Academy), so he, too, plumbed his recent experience to play the part of Angus.

In the end, "The Holdovers" is a movie about three people who feel as if they're being punished, but who make their situation work out for themselves. It's almost like a happy version of Jean-Paul Sartre's Huis Clos (called variously No Exit or Behind Closed Doors in English), a play about three people trapped in hell and eternally torturing each other (hence the famous quote "Hell is other people"—L'enfer, c'est les autres). Unlike Sartre's hell, though, the hell of "The Holdovers" has a bittersweet conclusion, and the occupants of this hell redecorate the place from the inside. It's a story of hurt turning into healing, of heaven being other people and yes, it's a good Christmas movie. Right up there with "Die Hard."

laughable EVs

Cold is the enemy of batteries, but EVs have more problems than cold:

Tim Pool has a Tesla, and he says using it in winter is a matter of knowing how to warm the thing up, which is just means carefully reading the manual—something a lot of these hapless owners failed to do. He does admit, though, that the vehicle has its limitations.

Instapundit comment of the day

Saw this:

It's amazing how every single Democrat legislator born outside of the United States has more loyalty to any country on earth other than the United States.

You want to ask Democrats how they square these two points:

a) The United States is a filthy, vile, racist country that is unsafe for all non-white people.

b) All non-white people need to be granted asylum because they're safe here.

some China news

More on how corruption means China's missiles are filled with water:

Oh, no! Shen Yun! The CCP hates this, but why? Because it exports real Chinese culture instead of communism?

In the election aftermath, Taiwan is ready to stand up to China:

immigrant crisis!

Styx on how illegal immigrants are affecting Maine:

Oh, noes! Crisis in NYC:

Gee, I wonder what could've been done before all this came to pass!

"Reacher": inferior Season 2, but still better than the woke crap

Tuesday, January 30, 2024


I don't recall ever threatening my brothers in quite this way:

was it really construction fraud?

All of these bogus cases against Trump are ridiculous and should be dismissed. They're just lawfare, and an indication of how desperate the leftist establishment is.

a spot of linguistic humor

What self-respecting American would even say this?

unkillable cop gets ambushed, fights on

Styx on Biden and Yemen

Old news from almost two weeks ago, but consistent with Biden's warmongering:

Ana Kasparian has cast a spell on Cenk Uygur

Ana Kasparian, long a loudmouthed, woke leftie, had some kind of partial or total metanoia some time ago, and she's been spouting right-friendly talking points ever since. As a co-pundit on "The Young Turks," she and the big, burly Cenk Uygur could be relied on to throw stones at the right. Then she changed, but Cenk didn't, which has made things on "The Young Turks" awkward because Cenk doesn't want to fight openly with Ana while they're broadcasting. It seems to me, though, that Ana's change of heart may have influenced Cenk in some subtle way. Watch the following short video in which Cenk refuses to shill for Joe Biden:

Monday, January 29, 2024

the humpin' and the gruntin'

Olima Omega with more gym-culture satire:

Jollibee's fame: deserved?

child versus parents

I think of that chilling scene in "The Killing Fields" when the little kid goes up to the chalkboard, upon which a stick-figure family is drawn, and uses a fingertip to erase the connection between the parents and the children.

"You leave it."

When the US education system is utterly broken, what do you do?

Ethnic Asians in the US these days relentlessly and resolutely vote Democrat despite the Democrat party's explicitly anti-Asian agenda—jiggering university admissions standards against them, against Jews (another bizarrely Democrat-voting bloc), and against whites (half of whom guiltily vote Democrat). But a lot of Asians also happen to be socially conservative, so you'd think this would translate to their leaving the Democrat tent and going elsewhere after they've had a chance to see the uncomfortable sexual agenda up close for themselves. But is that, in fact, the demographic shift we're seeing?

Why do people keep voting against their own self-interests?

maybe Texas should secede: Texit!

Sunday, January 28, 2024

"You see, women are like..."


Thanks to an ex-coworker:

I just learned a new 4-character proverb: 동문서답/東問西答/dongmun-seodap: "eastern question, western answer." This means that you ask a question and get an answer that is completely mismatched with the question. Maybe your interlocutor is tired or distracted or just weird. My mother could be that way sometimes. While she was fluent in English, she wasn't perfect, and she'd occasionally mishear things and make utterances based on her mishearing. Something like the following happened more than once:

David (brother): Did you see that building collapse on the news?
Mom: Who?

Mom could've said something more rational like, "Who died?" or "Did anyone get hurt?" or "Where?" (as in, "Where did this happen?") or "When?" (same deal). Instead, she took the left-field route and said the bizarre "Who?"

That's not exactly the same as the dongmun-seodap situation, but it's close. A closer example might be something like this:

Grandson: What war did you say you fought in, Granddad?
Granddad: Your mom said eggplant casserole.

These communication breakdowns happen sometimes.

prepping for war

Is Europe preparing for large-scale war? Good luck if you're prosecuting that war without the American defensive umbrella, but good for you for thinking you can go it alone without Uncle Sam. England:


I hope the Europeans do reinstitute the draft. Pussified youths will run screaming.

flaccid January

December was amazing in terms of stats, but as I suspected, January turned out to be limp and flaccid. We'll be lucky to crack 35K visits this month, which will be a lot less than this past December's truly aberrant-but-amazing 121.9K visits. Well, I'm not complaining: we're above the sauver l'honneur minimum of 20K. We could've done worse.

It's amusing to note that, up to January 20, I was doing below-average numbers, then on the 20th, everything kicked up an order of magnitude, and I went from 400-ish visits per day to anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 visits. How and why—no clue. But there we are.

So, we'll ride this wave of visits through the end of the month and hope that February is also above 20K visits. Of course, I wouldn't mind another 120K month....

I hope Fani crashes and burns

Call it the Trump Effect, the Trump Curse, or whatever. Boomeranging karma is a thing.

Styx on Biden and the border

What is there to say except that Biden is an idiot and a traitor, destroying the country via the porous border that he adamantly refuses to protect?

a good message to conservatives from a conservative

Just come off the whole "Michelle Obama is a man" shtick. This is as silly and stupid as Birtherism and Barack-is-a-Muslimism. Conservatives don't make themselves look serious when they make these stupid, wild-eyed claims. To be fair, this isn't all conservatives; we're talking mainly about the low-information end of the spectrum. And admittedly, any one of us can find ourselves in those shoes: I've been caught out several times amplifying something that turned out to be false. When that's happened, I've been at pains to issue retractions and corrections (after doing my own research) instead of doubling down. Anyway, this latest thing has been a thing for a while, with some conservatives joshingly referring to Michelle Obama as Big Mike while showing photos in which she appears to be sporting a dick bulge. The whole thing is unbelievably asinine. Just stop. Michelle Obama can be criticized from a million different legitimate angles; there's no need to invent straw men.

If you read the comments below the video, you see plenty of rightie pushback. A lot of righties are sincerely convinced Michelle Obama is man. I mean, maybe I should be more understanding since we're all prone to our own delusions, but this one strikes me as being on the level of supposed alien sightings. Well, people see what they wanna see, I guess. (I am, however, inclined to see Justin Trudeau as Castro's son! The comparative photographs and the biographies of Trudeau's parents make for compelling evidence. "Castreau." Heh.)

Saturday, January 27, 2024

testing a TikTok trend

Make your own soda! 

This is sometimes miscalled Make your own Coke, and you'll see why I say "miscalled." The basic idea is that you take club soda or sparkling water and add a shot glass of balsamic vinegar. Stir, add ice if you want, and enjoy. This surfaced recently as a TikTok trend, with video after video claiming, "It's not Coke, but it's wonderful!" My first thought upon seeing the "soda" was to think it'd simply taste like carbonated balsamic vinegar.

Let's take a trip through pictures, shall we?

Perrier and balsamic vinegar at the ready.

The fateful shot glass.

The pour.

It does look a bit Coke-tinted.

The sip.

The reaction.

As I thought, the drink tasted like carbonated balsamic vinegar, not any kind of soda at all. You're free to try it for yourself, but as for me, I threw the rest of my drink out and will never give in to curiosity about TikTok trends ever again. Because young people are stupid.

It's a shame, really, because if this had tasted anything close to good, I'd have switched to it as a sort of health drink right away. Balsamic vinegar, like the other types of comestible vinegar, has some small value in managing blood sugar and blood pressure, and other things besides. But as things stand, it sucks as a drink. Don't believe the hype.

I might do straight vinegar shots, though.

ADDENDUM: one science-y video says to make sure the sparkling water has a high sulfur content. My intuition says that that's not going to affect the level of suck.

what Daily Wire movies I've seen

I hate to say it, but I signed up for The Daily Wire back in the beginning of December last year, and I haven't seen a single Daily Wire movie. I'm just not that motivated. They may all be fantastic for all I know, but I have about as much of an urge to see these flicks as I do an explicitly "Christian" movie. Why might that be? Don't know. If I do see them, maybe I'll review them all at once—say, a paragraph each.

a series of confrontations

Nothing gets resolved in the following series of confrontations as leftists are grilled by congressional conservatives. If you're entertained by such conflicts, then this is the video for you. I'm not one who enjoys this sort of pointless fighting; it only raises my blood pressure and makes me want to use dark-side telekinetic powers to poke brains and snap spines. But you might enjoy this, so here we are.

As always, a warning about clickbait-y headlines: I didn't see any leftist get "humiliated" (except maybe one, who seemed openly nervous, shaky voice and all); if anything, the leftists being grilled struck me as relentlessly stubborn, word-twisting, evasive, and confrontational (except for the aforementioned nervous individual, a reverend). There's no defeating such people through logic; they're all beyond the reach of reason, like most liars and shysters.

Kari Lake and the "bribe" caught on audio

Is Kari Lake recording everything in her home and then playing audio out of context to make people seem to be saying something they're not? That's the opinion of Jeff DeWit, the Arizona GOP chair and businessman who just resigned from his position after having been "caught out" while seemingly attempting to bribe Kari Lake not to run for senator, but to wait two years instead. I read DeWit's statement about the incident, and while I like Kari Lake a lot, I'd like to hear these two duke it out in public. There's a good chance that DeWit is merely spinning things so that he looks like a saint; I guess we'll need to hear the full audio to decide. He claims the audio's been edited. It should be easy enough to prove whether he's right or wrong. Either way, this is a morbidly entertaining bit of news.

In the video below, Styx takes events at face value and assumes DeWit is guilty:

growing a sense of humor is always nice

With an SNL skit from back in the day that I remember:

d'oh (James Woods)

We're seeing what "diversity" is doing to the aircraft industry, what with Boeing's so-called "dream team" of engineers being a bunch of diversity hires, possibly leading to things like the recent door blowout of a 737 Max 9. We've seen what "diversity" has done to movies, turning them all to shit. When merit no longer counts, the drooling inmates run the asylum, and everybody suffers the consequences, like it or not.

Damon Imani: shit-stirrer

Damon Imani is, as far as I can tell, a comedian who likes doing obnoxious, edited self-inserts into other videos for the purpose of spreading his message. I was initally fooled into thinking this guy was actually at these events—the recent WEF forum and a round with The View—but he was not. He's just a satirist going for laughs while making a point. With that out of the way, enjoy Imani's particular brand of humor:

And "with" The View:

Friday, January 26, 2024

China's military is a paper tiger

Poor and rife with corruption, China's military isn't much of anything:

you have to wonder why there's a Season 2

Lots of layoffs at Amazon after "The Rings of Power" floppage:

As one commenter put it:

Amazon could’ve stuck with the source material and made a show that millions of people would’ve watched. They could’ve made a show millions of people were waiting with bated breath to see the next season. They chose instead to spit in the face of Tolkien, his work, and his fans* for the sake of modern sensibilities. Let them pay the price.


*Keep in mind that the Tolkien estate greenlit "The Rings of Power." Greedy fuckers.

gumbo luncheon

Today's luncheon was a success, more or less. The gumbo was a surefire hit, but the cornbread elicited a complaint of "gritty" from my Korean coworker—but only after I had said it was gritty. I might have to soak the cornmeal next time to soften it up, but I wonder what that might do to the recipe, which is otherwise perfect.

Despite having gotten a head start on prep last night, I needed all the way to lunchtime, this morning, to finish the prep. There was a lot left to do: I had to cut up and prep (i.e., par-cook by pan-frying) the chicken, then bake the frozen andouille and cut it up. (It's easier to cut after baking.) The okra I'd ordered turned out to be from India or Pakistan (or so I'm guessing from the brand name "Bhindi" and the fact that it's labeled as halal), and even though it was frozen, I had to use my kitchen shears to cut it further down to size. As the okra melted, its snotty mucilage made holding the vegetable a slick, slippery affair, but I got the job done. 

Making the roux took the longest: you put an equal volume of cooking oil and flour into your pot, then stir and stir and stir some more, never quitting the pot until the roux has turned brown. This takes the better part of an hour, but I've seen one video where a confident chef slammed his roux with extreme heat and got it to chocolate-brown in less than half that time. Chocolate-brown is the roux's ideal color, which I take to be like a Snickers bar, but because of my time crunch today, I only got the roux to a bit past butterscotch-colored before I added all the vegetables—bell peppers, onions, celery, crushed tomatoes, and okra—everything chopped up so as to be spoonable. I mixed the veggies with the roux, then added the chicken stock (fortified with garlic powder, filé powder, Cajun seasoning, and cumin) bit by bit. 

By that point, I had a proper stew, and it smelled good. The first protein to go in was the andouille, which had been baked and chopped up by that point although it was a bit dry and under-seasoned. (I'll have to alter the recipe for next time.) To make the andouille, I bought some ground pork at the downstairs grocery in my building, then ground up some pork belly (after removing the skin) to up the fat content and mixed that in with the store-bought pork. I then added Cajun seasoning and cumin to the pork, rolled everything into stubby, 150-gram sausages, froze it all overnight, and it was all ready to go this morning. I knew the pork would suffer the least from cooking a long time in the gumbo, and I wanted the andouille flavor to infuse the stew, so the pork went in first.

While the gumbo simmered, I had time to shower and dress, after which I dumped in the diced, par-cooked chicken, which didn't need long to cook the rest of the way. The shrimp would be added right before serving. I dumped the gumbo into a lock-tight plastic container, gathered up my cornbread, a block of butter, and the celery-leaf garnish, then headed out to the office. Like an idiot, I forgot to take along my frozen shrimp, but since the building where I work has its own grocery, I went down and bought a package of shrimp along with some microwaveable rice. Traditionally, rice is served on top of gumbo: it's the capper.

Most of the gumbo ingredients on display, including the shrimp I forgot to take.

Roux (oil + flour), slowly turning brown.

Holy Trinity (celery, onion, bell pepper) plus chilies, thrown into the roux and shedding water.

Big, fat, 150 g andouille, a bit under-seasoned but not tragically so.

The gumbo turns into a stew as I add the chicken broth.

Gumbo in my bowl at the office.

With rice on top, as God intended. (Sorry—no Louisiana rice.)

A glimpse of two loaves of cornbread (circular half-loaf on top if you can see it).

In all, a success. My Korean coworker went back for seconds. I should stick to making things that aren't that sweet; he obviously doesn't have a sweet tooth the way I do. The boss grunted his usual "S'good," and now, all I want to do is rest after all that prep. Gumbo, as with a lot of Italian dishes, is an all-day affair, or in my case, at least a two-day affair.

I'll either share the rest or eat it over the next several days.

the steaming pile of crap that is "Echo"

I was never into any of the Marvel TV shows, and the newest one, "Echo," looks to be yet another girl-boss dumpster fire. Hollywood really, really doesn't want to learn this particular lesson: get woke, go broke. And poor Vince D'Onofrio, right?

vox populi = Trump

This is almost certainly cherry picked, but it's still reassuring:

current Biden, meet old Biden

feminist: "I feel like I'm being pulled into a trap"

Charlie Kirk with another rhetorical victory against a confused pro-trans feminist:

The irony is that these women, in making their arguments, fail to see the damage they're doing to themselves. Again, I'm fine with trans folks if they simply want to live their lives, but the moment this becomes a moral issue, e.g., a trans woman beating the crap out of a cis woman in the MMA octagon, that's where I draw the line and say no: the basic fact is that trans women are biological men with the advantages of men, making it immoral for them to participate in women-only activities like women's MMA or other sports (track, weightlifting, swimming, etc.).

Thursday, January 25, 2024

gumbo in progress

I'll be finishing the gumbo early Friday morning, but I've had a good head start. The sausage has been made, and I've prepped the veggies for the Holy Trinity (celery, onion, bell pepper—the Louisiana answer to mirepoix). The only other thing that needs to be cut up is the chicken. I've got frozen shrimp, but that won't go in until the very last moment because it cooks so quickly. Timing is everything.

Expect photos tomorrow—of the final prep, and of the lunch service. Oh, yeah—I also made cornbread from an awesome recipe. And enjoy these past efforts while you wait:

My first-ever gumbo (July 2018).

Keto gumbo (January 2020).

SNL skit on today's annoying Gen Zers

On YouTube, so many of the comments below the video say some version of "This isn't a sketch: it's a documentary." Zoomers and Alphas are the worst.

Styx on Taiwan's middle finger to China

(1/14) Styx on the Taiwan election, which repudiates mainland China's CCP:

And how staunch of an ally will the US be?

Thomas Sowell on leftist charity

It's old news, but it bears repeating: when it comes to charity spending, righties spend way more than lefties.

what I ate for three days this week

Remember that teriyaki udong I'd made before? The one my coworker threw out? This is essentially the same thing, but the black sauce isn't teriyaki: it's a modified jjajang sauce. This was a lot better, but I didn't share any with my coworker: I simply divided the batch up into three meals and gobbled it up on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. 

2 from Liberal Hivemind

Is Obama using Biden to run for his fourth term?

Letitia James and her hilarious delusions about the worth of Trump's properties:

Crazy Nikki pushes ahead

Having insisted that she will plow forward, Nikki Haley soon faces the South Carolina primary. Haley was governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017. This is her "home state," as they say, and according to, she's about to get thrashed in it by that plump orange beast, Donald Trump. Polls currently show Haley losing 62-25 to Trump, and if there's anything we've learned from Iowa about intra-GOP polls, it's that they're accurate. Sure, SC has a different electorate, but considering the large margin between Trump and Haley, that stat is going to translate into real votes. Trump's victory in SC is predestined. It's going to be another yawner, and Haley will have spent her campaign millions on nothing. She really ought to drop out, but she's somehow convinced she has a chance on home turf. 

Is she an idiot? No, don't answer that.

Nick Freitas on "real" socialism

Look, you're never going to get "real" anything. Real capitalism has never been tried, either. All we have are these imperfect instantiations of socioeconomic theory, and though it may be hard to hear, one is objectively a better system than the other, and that's the system that better understands human nature, which is fundamentally more competitive and selfish than sharing and cooperative. Take another look at that infamous satellite picture of the Korean peninsula at night to see what I mean. And does this mean that capitalism is a perfect system? No, of course not. Capitalism comes with its own flaws, paradoxes, and pitfalls, but if you're not objective enough to see that capitalism is far superior to socialism in terms of quality of life, etc., then your head is shoved too far up your own ass for me to save you. 

Enjoy chewing those colon polyps.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Scott Adams's Gedankenexperiment

Some say that Korea is like this experiment: run half the country via central planning and the other half via the free market, and that's how you end up with that satellite photo:

If you're still a central planner after seeing that, you're a moron. People helping each other through voluntary exchange, producing an organic effect known in some circles as the "invisible hand," is the way to go. People who think they're smart enough to control other people's destinies are generally too stupid and arrogant to lead. I know some folks might try to counterargue that South Korea has been led by leftists, but even Korea's leftists have generally been to the right of the North's policies. And in point of fact, the majority of Korean leaders has been conservative. Does this make conservatives the exclusive possessors of nation-leading wisdom? Of course not. But on balance, they appear to be better leaders overall.

Tim Pool on the Iowa fallout

One Pool video after another, eh?

Old news from 1/17, but I especially like what Tim says about loyalty toward the end.

the new Chinese virus: 100% mortality (in a small sample)!

Tim Pool relays the news about a new Chinese-engineered virus that, in a small sample of eight mice, has a 100% mortality rate. Why on earth would anyone make such a virus?

yawn... Trump takes New Hampshire

New Hampshire primary results: Trump, at roughly 53 to 46.

The question is whether Haley will drop out now to save face instead of suffering a crushing defeat in her own home state of South Carolina.


Trump Wins New Hampshire

Original Story:

Polls have closed in New Hampshire and Donald Trump has taken an early lead. The only real opponent, Nikki Haley, couldn’t win in her best early state despite being one-on-one.

The race, which would be a formality at best if Democrats and NeverTrumpers weren’t denying the inevitable, has not been nearly as ugly between candidates as the early primary days in 2016. Chris Christie was the last real flamethrower in the race, though Vivek Ramaswamy threw some zingers toward Haley and Ron DeSantis. For his part, Trump started off going after DeSantis hard a few months ago but has toned down in recent weeks. Other than calling Haley “Birdbrain” he’s been far more cordial than he was in 2016.

While the economy is failing miserably, the southern border invasion has been the biggest issue among voters. Both Iowa and New Hampshire voters have listed “immigration” as being most important to them, followed by “economy/jobs.” Nothing else made a big impact on the first two states to voice their concerns.

Haley has vowed to stay in the race, but then again so did DeSantis following his loss in Iowa. We will see. South Carolina is coming up and a loss in the state that Haley once governed would add insult to injury.

Update 1: Multiple sources have called the race for Donald Trump, including Fox News and Politico. We will monitor for the margin and update as needed.

Update 2: Fox News coverage was surprisingly realistic as results came in. I expected them to try propping up Haley but both Jesse Watters and Dana Perino commentated that Haley has no real chance of winning.

Update 3: Haley predictably brought up Trump’s gaffe about Nancy Pelosi during her concession speech. She then looked forward to South Carolina, her home state, but polls show Trump is trouncing her there.

More primaries and caucuses to go, but we already know the end result.

UPDATE: Oh, lookee! People are calling it for Biden in New Hampshire, too! But the live results don't seem to back this up. Biden's name wasn't even on the ballot in New Hampshire, but there apparently was a huge write-in campaign, so if Biden does indeed win (I see him as currently* behind Dean Phillips by a percentage point or two, or about 1,300 votes), it'll be thanks to these write-ins. That's a lot of effort to keep the senile drooler in office for another hellish term. And, boy, it'd be a shame if he dropped out of the race for any reason now.

UPDATE 2: Biden takes it, roughly 51-20 over Dean Phillips.


*January 24, 2024, at 12:45 p.m., Seoul time.

"Eat the cake."

I can see John McCrarey nodding vigorously at this bit of life-advice.

Meanwhile, the former abbot of Haein-sa was quoted as saying, "We didn't come into this world to eat." That's pretty harsh, especially for us dedicated eaters.

damn, Geordi

I saw this news a few days ago: actor LeVar Burton discovered he has a white ancestor who fought in the Civil War as a Confederate.

PJW makes a big deal about Burton's reaction to the news and speculates that it would be career-ending had the racial roles been reversed: a white actor discovering a black ancestor. I'm inclined to give Burton the benefit of the doubt. If you've grown up thinking of the Confederacy as something to despise, then discover one of your ancestors was a Confederate, this may be a bit like discovering you're directly descended from Hitler. Revulsion, in such a situation, is only natural and instinctive. Also not discussed in the above video is how Burton's reaction might have modulated over the days and weeks since that discovery. Maybe he's become more thoughtful, more contemplative, about this new reality. Who knows? My point is that this isn't quite the big deal that PJW makes it out to be.

Francis Foster on Chappelle and Gervais

The person who said that you can be funny without your humor being at the expense of others was an idiot. With an umbrella up her ass.


This is on point:

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Jesus Christ, Vader

Fine, we all hate Rey as a Mary Sue, but this is a bit excessive.

cold wave: 한파/寒波/hanpa

My phone constantly lights up with warnings about this or that—an eternal reminder that, even with a conservative president in office, it's still a fairly nanny-state government looking out for its citizens, a government that's as far away as your phone (to be fair, this system's been in place for years). This omnipresence can be good and bad. On the one hand, it's nice to be warned; it gives you a chance to prepare. On the other hand, the warnings feel intrusive, like someone standing over your shoulder and breathing into your ear. There's a PA system in my studio apartment that creates the same creepy feeling, and lately, it's been sounding off about every other day. There are PA speakers even in seemingly quiet parks and remote farmland, feeling like symbols of a bygone era, yet still very much in use.

Anyway, back to phones. The phone warnings are about someone who's gone missing: there'll be a listing of the person's name, sex, and age (usually, it's someone old who's wandered off); there'll also be something about what the person was wearing, and approximately where the person got lost. Sometimes, we get warnings about a heat wave or slippery winter ice on the roads. At other times, like yesterday and today, the warnings will be about the cold, and this is how I learned a new word: hanpa (한파, 寒波)—a cold wave. The pa/파/波 character is the same pa found in the word pado, which means a wave such as one might see on a beach. It's also the character in the word choeumpa/초음파, referring to ultrasound. I learned that word in 2021 while I was in the hospital after my stroke and getting a thoracic ultrasound.

Han/한/寒, by contrast, was new to me. Korean isn't a tonal language, so a lot of characters that were ported over from Chinese—which is a tonal language—sound exactly the same. I already knew the han/한/韓 meaning "Korea," and I knew han/한/汗 meaning "sweat," as in the four-character proverb mu han bul seong (무한불성, 無汗不成), "no sweat, no success," i.e., No pain, no gain. But this han had somehow escaped my attention. As you might have guessed, it means "cold." So together, han and pa combine to make the word (or is it a phrase?) hanpa, "cold wave."

And that's what we're enduring right now. There's no snow on the roads or walking surfaces, but Celsius-wise, we're below zero. Same for tomorrow. Right now, it looks as though we won't be above freezing until Friday afternoon. If you're enduring a hanpa wherever you are, I hope you hunker down, bundle up, and make sure your pipes aren't bursting. I left my electric floor heater on "1" (minimum) before leaving today, but I'm not too worried: even on cold days, and even with the floor heating off, my apartment tends to be fairly warm. I only hope the apartment above me doesn't suffer a burst pipe.

another "Charlie Kirk crushes" video

This one ends with the leftie getting vulgar and stomping off:

The student ends up saying to Kirk, "Fuck you—and your face is small." This triggered a memory of a class years ago when I was a teacher at Sookmyung Women's University, and one of my students said she wished she had "a small face." What the term "small face" means differs between Koreans and Americans. In the States, a small face refers to having all your facial features concentrated in a tighter area—eyes, nose, mouth. In Korea, a "small face" is one in which not a lot of flesh appears around your facial features, so it's actually the opposite: a "small" Korean face has a sleek jawline and nicely proportioned eye spacing such that the eyes don't appear to be "bordered" by flesh.

Frankly, I don't see too many Americans calling the girl on the right "big-faced," which sounds ugly, so the standard of the "big face" is probably purely a Korean thing. Even further, I don't see Koreans using the term "big-faced" at all (do they?): they merely wish for a small face, with "big face" being an implied contrast about which we will never, ever speak.

brutal, merciless takedown of Ron DeSantis by Tim Pool

Jesus Christ.

Tim Pool gives us a brutal and merciless takedown of Ron DeSantis and his poorly run campaign. The title of this post isn't meant as clickbait: it's as close to literal as you can get. (Pool pitilessly calls DeSantis "stupid" multiple times.) If you're a DeSantis hater (which I'm not), you might enjoy Pool's curb-stomp. If you have any sympathy for DeSantis, you might end up wincing, as I did. The video also talks about other things, like a possible assassination threat against Trump (that amounts to wild-eyed speculation according to Pool, and I agree), but the DeSantis thing happens at the beginning.

war with Taiwan?

A war with Taiwan is not likely if China's military is as corrupt and rotten as they say:

Fani startin' to feel the karma in her fani

fanny (US): the bum
fanny (UK): the front of the bum (for a woman)

It's starting to get spicy for Fani Willis, one of the prosecuting attorneys going after Trump:

Willis recently gave a nauseatingly self-righteous, self-justifying speech at a church, cloaked in the language of praying publicly to God, essentially pleading her case to a captive audience that was susceptible to religious language. I despise such people, and it's a problem for both the left and the right. Remember rightie Reverend Ted Haggard? The man who preached against taking drugs and being homosexual... then got caught with a gay lover with whom he did drugs? This is at about that level. I wrote the following comment on Instapundit upon learning of little Fani's troubles:

After the long, self-righteous fart she let out in that Christian church, she deserves all the Buddhist karma that's coming her way. As a rule, the loudly pious people are the most leprous. There's a reason Jesus told people not to pray in public as the hypocrites do.

The comment has gotten me 9 upvotes so far... I imagine it made some other commenters nervous, though, because there are quite a few conservatives who piously virtue-signal on those threads. And plenty of so-called Christians love to pray in public. Jesus' injunction is from Matthew 6:5, by the way—the Sermon on the Mount. A whole section of that sermon is against public displays of virtue: don't loudly give alms, don't pray in public, don't announce to the world that you're fasting (by looking haggard), etc. I've been repeatedly guilty of a few of those sins myself, and they're all recorded right here on the blog.

when DEI trumps actual quality

Remember the door of the Alaska Airlines jet that blew out?

in praise of "Star Trek II"

Dave Cullen sings the praises of "the best one," "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan":

Shatner was in his 50s back then. He's in his 90s now.

Monday, January 22, 2024

food, glorious food

Toaster Strudels:

"Breakfast in Jane Austen's England": bath buns—

is COVID accountability too much to ask for?

Russell Brand: "The pandemic was a revelation."

Poland news from January 14

Things are going crazy in Poland, with demonstrations against a majority pro-EU government:

The comments below the video are telling:

Stand strong, Poland. EU elitists wouldn't care if they laid waste to you. You must choose your destiny, not Brussels.

Notice how the EU and our pro-EU supporters in the UK and media are quiet about what is happening in Poland.

I love Poland. It is one of the few countries in Europe to oppose Islam. See the danger in the European countries who embraced Islam—only MASSIVE problems. The ones who oppose jihad and Islam are doing fine. GOD BLESS POLAND!!!!

That's the European union. It's not about democracy: it's about total rule and nothing less.

Good for Poland! Everyone deserves to feel free and comfortable in their own country without compromising or assimilating to others' religion or culture. They're the guests in your country; they have to assimilate to your culture, etc.


but now, for the real news

The real news is that I called my building's electricians and got them to repair my flickering, fading kitchen light, which had been dying for the past year. It finally gave up the ghost around the middle of last week. Having never opened my ceiling lights' casings since I moved into this place in 2018, I was surprised to find out that the lights aren't fluorescent at all: they're a checkerboard arrangement of tiny, aggressively luminescent LEDs. I'd never seen such a thing before, and this was even more of a shock because of the eerily fluorescent way the dying lights had been flickering. Truth be told, my other two ceiling lights are currently in the dying phase, so I'm going to have to call the electricians back in the next few months.

When I called the electrician's office on Saturday, the old guy on the other end of the line told me I'd need to buy the required light, then call him again, and he'd come up to do the installation. When I'd shopped for my bathroom light a few years back, I'd taken a trip all the way out to the Euljiro district across town, which is essentially a huge, sprawling Home Depot or, as Koreans might put it, a hardwarepia (Koreans put "pia" on the ends of words to indicate that a place or website is a utopia for whatever you're looking for, e.g., a Buddhapia website is a utopia for all things Buddhist... as an English speaker, though, I think the ending should be "opia," but Asians clip English words in unsatisfactory ways, like the strange, nonsensical way Chinese people carve up a chicken), but in this modern age, the idea of physically going shopping is analog thinking: the guy told me to just "use the internet"—no Euljiro excursions needed. So I went to Coupang on my phone, looked up my light's model number, and found what I thought would be the right light.

The light arrived on Sunday, so Sunday evening, I called the electrician's office again, and a two-man team came to my place. The first thing they discovered was that my product was the correct length (the only dimension I'd bothered to measure), but the wrong width. Luckily, the light-installation kit had come with other parts, and the two-man crew said they could make do with that. Another element inside the box, aside from the LED lights themselves, was a "converter," which is what the guys ended up switching out. And sure enough, when they turned the lights on, it was obvious that the converter had been the problem all along, not the lights. So the next time one of my ceiling lights starts to weaken and flicker, I'll know to order the appropriate converter. I get the impression that the LEDs are built to last forever.

End result: the team took the better part of an hour to finish repairs, and I now have a strongly functioning kitchen light. I'd been without proper kitchen lighting for a few days, which meant avoiding cooking, one of my favorite activities. On Friday, I finally had the overpowering urge to cook, so I moved my vertical lamp kitchenward from its place next to my computer desk (I only use the lamp when Skyping). Things were like that for only a day, and now, we're back to normal again. So! All is right with the world, and my flaccid Korean skills did me proud.

Alas, poor Ronnick!

It happened just before I went to bed last night: Ron DeSantis has signaled that he's dropping out of the presidential race, and per a promise he'd made, he's endorsing President Trump. I breathe a sigh of relief—the man can go back to doing what he does best: governing Florida, with all of its gators, Florida men, and fucked-up big cities. Ron hasn't been perfect for Florida, but he's been a more-than-competent governor, and the people in the state undeniably like him. And luckily for Florida, the state has no gubernatorial term limits, but according to Ballotpedia, if a person has governed for two terms in a row, s/he cannot run for a third term in a row, so the people have to suffer a term with an interim governor before they can bask in DeSantisness again.


BREAKING: Ron DeSantis Suspends Presidential Campaign, Makes Endorsement

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign on Sunday, ahead of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

“Over the past many months, Casey and I have traveled across the country to deliver a message of hope, that decline is a choice, and that we, in fact, can succeed again as a nation,” DeSantis said in a video message to supporters. "Nobody worked harder. And we left it all out on the field."

"Now following our second-place finish in Iowa, we have prayed and deliberated on the way forward,” he continued. "If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome — more campaign stops, more interviews — I would do it. But I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign."

"I am proud to have delivered on 100% of my promises and I will not stop now,” DeSantis continued. "It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance. They watched his presidency get stymied by relentless resistance and they see Democrats using lawfare to this day to attack him. While I have had disagreements with Donald Trump, such as on the coronavirus pandemic and his elevation of Anthony Fauci, Trump is superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden. That is clear. I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee and I will honor that pledge."

The timing of this announcement may come as a surprise to many, but DeSantis had seemingly conceded New Hampshire in order to have a strong showing in South Carolina—Nikki Haley’s home state where she served as governor. A second place finish for DeSantis in the state might have ended Haley’s campaign, but it was still quite clear that Republican voters overwhelmingly wanted Trump to finish what he started in his first term, and a viable path to winning the necessary delegates was too much to overcome. By dropping out now, it is likely that DeSantis' supporters will back Trump over Haley, crushing her chances in New Hampshire.

[ ... ]

“[Trump] has my endorsement because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear -- a repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism -- that Nikki Haley represents,” DeSantis said. "The days of putting Americans last, of kowtowing to large corporations, of caving to woke ideology, are over."

DeSantis’s dropping out now should clear an easy path for Donald Trump to win the nomination. Despite his endorsement, it remains to be seen whether DeSantis will join Trump on the campaign trail to help unite the party behind him.

[ ... ]

"Winston Churchill once remarked that 'success is not final, failure is not fatal — it is the courage to continue that counts,” he said. "While this campaign has ended, the mission continues. Down here in Florida, we will continue to show the country how to lead."

As long as you keep busing illegals to "sanctuary" cities, Ron, I'll still love you.

My inexpert assessment is that DeSantis wasn't ready for prime time, and his campaign was poorly managed. Too few people really knew about him outside of Florida, and in terms of optics, he had a stiff and somewhat artificial way about him in situations where he wasn't being confronted by a reporter. There's a brief, second-long video clip of him trying to smile while simultaneously grinding his teeth—what I'd call DeSantis's "Dean scream" moment, arguably undoing his campaign. The man can be a pit bull with reporters when they're busy accusing him of something; I kinda' love watching his press conferences. But put him in a situation where most normal folks would be comfortable, and the man seizes up (as an introvert, I get this). Policy-wise, DeSantis's heavy-handed, government-first approach to handling corporate giant Disney might not have sat well with many conservatives, but with that being said, DeSantis's anti-woke credentials were largely unassailable. "Where woke goes to die" is how DeSantis once described Florida to cheering crowds. He is bolstered by a Cubano community that has not forgotten the harsh lessons of the poor, oppressive, leftist country it abandoned, and plenty of other demographics—not just Cubanos—appreciate the man for their own reasons.

If DeSantis chooses to run for president again in 2028, I won't begrudge him his ambitions, but my recommendation would be to stay home. They say you have to be at least a little sociopathic to run for high office; the problem this year may be that RonDeSantis, to his credit, wasn't insane enough to make it. That could be a point in his favor, and maybe a sign that the decision to run for president should never be made lightly. Go home, decompress, enjoy a gator steak, and get back to doing that thing you do, Ron. It was a decent run.

ADDENDUM: Styx with his take:

ADDENDUM 2: "Trump is superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden. That is clear. I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee and I will honor that pledge." Not exactly a ringing endorsement!

jumping the YouTube ship

I've watched my share of MatPat's different Theorists channels and have enjoyed his wacky takes on various aspects of culture even when I've disagreed with him. But recently, MatPat (Matthew Patrick) decided that thirteen years of churning out content was enough, and he put out a tearful video thanking his audience for all the good times. He's not the only one leaving, though: plenty of other content creators are abandoning the platform this year, and in the video below, Philip DeFranco talks about the phenomenon:

10 on 1

You've got ten cops bearing down on you, and your answer is to... draw your weapon and open fire? Again, I have to ask: why do so many people choose suicide by cop?

Most likely, it's something about the human ego coupled with an insane belief that you're not really going to die—even if you've done something that deserves death.