April 16, 2014

The Shut Up Brigade

Hello! I’ve been in Maui for a week and a half. And pretty much the entire time I was there, the news was erupting with some new story about how we’re not allowed to talk about things we’re not allowed to talk about. Mark Steyn’s written a column on the subject in the UK and Aussie Spectators (The slow death of free speech; How the Left, here and abroad, is trying to shut down debate — from Islam and Israel to global warming and gay marriage), and quoted a bit that I read in one of the pieces floating around Twitter last week that I especially liked, and puts it very well:

Nick Lowles defined the ‘No Platform’ philosophy as ‘the position where we refuse to allow fascists an opportunity to act like normal political parties’. But free speech is essential to a free society because, when you deny people ‘an opportunity to act like normal political parties’, there’s nothing left for them to do but punch your lights out. Free speech, wrote the Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson last week, ‘buttresses the political system’s legitimacy. It helps losers, in the struggle for public opinion and electoral success, to accept their fates. It helps keep them loyal to the system, even though it has disappointed them. They will accept the outcomes, because they believe they’ve had a fair opportunity to express and advance their views. There’s always the next election. Free speech underpins our larger concept of freedom.’

Some others from the last 12 days:

The Atlantic – The Culture of Shut Up
Too many debates about important issues degenerate into manufactured and misplaced outrage—and it’s chilling free speech. By Jon Lovett

OC Register – Joel Kotkin: The spread of ‘debate is over’ syndrome On climate and other issues, many in academia, media, government insist their viewpoint is unassailable and won’t tolerate dissent.

Attack the System [a blog; look I have no idea who she is] – #CancelColbert and the Return of the Anti-Liberal Left

Incidentally, I’ve long sworn never to donate any money to any political organization or campaign or anything that could put my name on a list next to it in the public domain. This dates back to when I was a teenager. But when we still lived in Seattle and there was a gay marriage item on the ballot, and one of the local papers was publishing the address and photos of the homes of people who’d donated to the traditionalist campaign? Yeah. And now this. Just in case there are any political fundraising types reading this.

I read somewhere that the poor Mozilla man’s donation was a result of an IRS leak. But then I never heard anyone mention that again so I’m hoping it’s not true, and we’re not all so used to the idea that the IRS is out to get us that it’s not even worth commenting on when they do.

Update (4.18): Hilariously, I just finally got around to checking what this one thing I had emailed to myself months and months ago (apparently a year ago but that’s impossible) and lo, it fits perfectly! In so many ways!

Out.com – In the Reign of the Gay Magical Elves, by Bret Easton Ellis

March 27, 2014

Absolutely the Funniest Item of the Day CCCXI

Do It For Denmark!


March 25, 2014

Absolutely the Funniest Item of the Day CCCX

Peter sent me this last week and it is amazing. Keep watching, because the first part is funny but the punchline is in the second part. Then after the second part, there’s a third part, also funny.

Sniffle XLXIII: A Bright Light in a Bad Situation Edition

I’ve often rhapsodized on the wonder of plucky, western Australia (and New Zealand, yes) floating around in the middle of a big ocean surrounded by…well, the sorts of countries that the families of the lost flight MH370 have had to deal with for the past two and a half weeks (at the time of writing). So let’s skip repeating ourselves.

The other day some trash was spotted in the southern Indian Ocean near (in relative terms) Perth, and all the efforts were suddenly picked up by Australian servicemen and women, and if you’ve been watching the news on Sky, lordy it was nice. But let’s skip further recap.

Then this, at the very bottom of an article in The Times (“‘Ghost plane’ theory revived for MH370 as relatives’ anger erupts”)

Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, told Parliament that it was very likely relatives of those on MH370 would come to Western Australia within the next few days. The Government would waive their entry visa fees, he said.

“I want them all to know they will be in the arms of a decent country,” he said.


March 3, 2014

Absolutely the Funniest Item of the Day CCCIX

I forgot about this, but I’ve had it open for like two weeks:

Dont Tell Mummy! (JamieP’s 1000 bhp GTR)

March 1, 2014

Tinsel Town Tops Nine!

Tardy? Nah! It’s OSCARS WEEKEND!!! (cut to the masses downloading the conveniently three-hours-shorter version of the ceremony on Monday morning)

So, here are the contendahs for the best that Show Biz had on offer for us plebes last year, followed by my predictions:

Update (3.3)!! And with the actual winners…

Best Picture:
• American Hustle: Saw it; good but not best picture material (best acting is another story)
• Captain Phillips: Saw it; good but a little one-note
• Dallas Buyers Club: Haven’t seen it
• Gravity: Saw it; loved it (in 2D)
• Her: Haven’t seen it
• Nebraska: Haven’t seen it
• Philomena: Haven’t seen it
• 12 Years a Slave: Haven’t seen it
• Wolf of Wall Street: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: 12 Years a Slave. No I didn’t see it, but I hear it’s amazing probably deserves to win more than Gravity does (which would be my choice if I happened to know anything specific about 12 Years a Slave)
My Prediction: 12 Years a Slave

Actual Winner: √ 12 Years

Best Actor:
• Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years: Haven’t seen it
• Christian Bale, American Hustle: Saw it; think he did a really good job
• Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers: Haven’t seen it
• Bruce Dern, Nebraska: Haven’t seen it
• Leo DiCaprio, Wolf: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Chiwetel. No I haven’t seen it, but I do love him and wouldn’t it be lovely if he got it?
My Prediction: Chiwetel.

Actual Winner: Matthew McConaughey!

Best Actress:
• Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine: Haven’t seen it
• Sandra Bullock, Gravity: Saw it; think she did a really good job
• Judi Dench, Philomena: Haven’t seen it
• Amy Adams, American Hustle: Saw it, and quite literally forgot I was
watching Amy Adams, which means she did a really really good job.

My Pick: Cate Blanchett, because she’s lovely, but Sandra Bullock, because she’s lovely too, and she did do a really good job.
My Prediction: Cate

Actual Winner: √ Cate

Supporting Actor:
• Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers: Haven’t seen it
• Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips: Saw it, and yeah he did a really good job but in that way where I mostly give credit for the performance to the director (but wouldn’t it be lovely if he won?)
• Bradley Cooper, American Hustle: Saw it, think he was good but not as good as some of the others probably were
• Jonah Hill, Wolf: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Barkhad Abdi
My Prediction: Jonah Hill. Actually I have no idea but I feel like Jared Leto is getting so much talking up that he won’t win.

**Actual Winner: Jared Leto***

Supporting Actress:
• Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine: Haven’t seen it
• Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle: Saw it, and she was great, but her New Yawk accent kept taking a left turn at Louisville.
• Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years: Haven’t seen it
• Julia Roberts, August: Osage County: Haven’t seen it
• June Squibb, Nebraska: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Lupita Nyong’o
My Prediction: Lupita Nyong’o

Actual Winner: √ Lupita!

Best Director:
• Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity: Saw it; loved it
• Steve McQueen, 12 Years: Haven’t seen it
• Alexander Payne, Nebraska: Haven’t seen it
• David O Russell, American Hustle: Saw it, thought it was baggy and lacked pacing.
• Martin Scorcese, Wolf: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Alfonso
My Prediction: Steve McQueen

Actual Winner: Alfonso

Original Screenplay:
• American Hustle: Saw it; thought it was baggy and lacked pacing and the whole reveal at the end fell kind of flat.
• Blue Jasmine: Haven’t seen it
• Dallas Buyers: Haven’t seen it
• Her: Haven’t seen it
• Nebraska: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Blue Jasmine
My Prediction: Dallas Buyers

Actual Winner: Huh; Her

Adapted Screenplay:
• Before Midnight: Haven’t seen it
• Captain Phillips: Saw it and thought they must have done a very good job with the book.
• Philomena: Haven’t seen it
• 12 Years: Haven’t seen it
• Wolf: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: 12 Years (funny how many I’m picking this for considering I haven’t seen it)
My Prediction: 12 Years

Actual Winner: √ 12 Years

Best Animated Film:
• The Croods: Haven’t seen it
• Despicable Me 2: Haven’t seen it
• Frozen: Saw it, loved it, even if the big-eyed-small-mouth character design falls completely apart when a female character is in profile, guys. Sort it out.
• The Wind Rises: Haven’t seen it
• Ernest & Celestine: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Frozen
My Prediction: Frozen

Actual Winner: √ Frozen

Foreign Language:
• The Great Beauty (Italy): Haven’t seen it
• The Hunt (Denmark): Haven’t seen it
• Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium): Haven’t seen it
• The Missing Picture (Cambodia): Haven’t seen it
• Omar (Palestine): Haven’t seen it

My Pick: The Great Beauty, because I heard it was “so Italian”, and I heard The Hunt was kinda meh.
My Prediction: The Great Beauty

Actual Winner: √ The Great Beauty

• The Act of Killing: Haven’t seen it
• Cutie and the Boxer: Haven’t seen it
• Dirty Wars: Haven’t seen it
• The Square: Haven’t seen it
• 20 Feet from Stardom: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: The Act of Killing. I might bring myself to watch it someday.
My Prediction: The Act of Killing

Actual Winner: Oh come on, 20 Feet from Stardom?

• The Grandmaster: Haven’t seen it
• Gravity: Saw it
• Inside Llewyn Davis: Haven’t seen it
• Nebraska: Haven’t seen it
• Prisoners: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Gravity
My Prediction: Gravity

Actual Winner: √ Gravity

Costume Design:
• American Hustle: Saw it; thought they did a good job, except they never explained how any of the ladies could bend over to sit without flashing the room.
• The Grandmaster: Haven’t seen it
• The Great Gatsby: Saw it, think they did a pretty good job, and really Miuccia Prada should share the Oscar if it wins, eh?
• The Invisible Woman: Haven’t seen it
• 12 Years: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Gatsby
My Prediction: 12 Years

Actual Winner: √ Gatsby

Original Song:
Haven’t heard any of them except “Let it Go” from Frozen which I’ve heard, in multiple languages, about a bajillion times. Peter totally loves it.

My Pick: Let it Go
My Prediction: Let it Go

Actual Winner: √ Let it Go

Skipping now to Special Effects and then ending with that:
• Gravity
• The Hobbit: Haven’t seen it
• Iron Man 3: It was good but I don’t think it’ll win
• The Lone Ranger: Haven’t seen it
• Star Trek: It too was good but I just don’t think these summer blockbusters will ever beat Gravity.

My Pick: Gravity
My Prediction: Gravity

Actual Winner: √ Gravity

So I got 10/15 right? That’s not bad.

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February 24, 2014


George Monbiot does nature documentary narrations?

How Wolves Change Rivers

The most important thing you can take away from that video is that deer are jerks (no but seriously didn’t someone once describe deer as being the pigeons of the wilderness or something?) no but seriously wolves are cool.

Curtsy: Vanderleun

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February 22, 2014

It’s All Greek

I love this. It’s one of the funniest and best-written things I’ve read in a while. I spent the whole time reading it wanting to print it out so I could highlight all my favourite turns-of-phrases.

But there’s also a lot going on in it: As soon as I started reading, suddenly all that stupid obnoxious annoying stuff about college came flooding back. Then you get to the section where the college students start falling from the sky. There’s history, there are the evil-doings of the Baby Boomers, there’s the hypocrisy of modern liberal college campuses; something for everyone on your list!

And, btw, I’d never even heard of a “sleeping porch”. (I also thought Wesleyan was an all-girls school.)

Also: The photographs are inspired.

The Atlantic – The Dark Power of Fraternities
A yearlong investigation of Greek houses reveals their endemic, lurid, and sometimes tragic problems—and a sophisticated system for shifting the blame. By Caitlin Flanagan

(I won’t quote any of it but in the couple of days it took me to finish reading it, the passages beginning “The entire multibillion-dollar, 2,000-campus American college system” and the one beginning “Moreover, fraternities tie alumni to their colleges in a powerful and lucrative way”, neither of which sentence gets to the hearts of those paragraphs but they’re the paragraphs that really stood out over time.)

(Oh, and bit after the line “I’ll assume you are sitting down.”)

Chickens! In Versailles!

A la Française | Graduation movie from Supinfocom Arles 2012

A la Française from à la Française on Vimeo.

By Julien Hazebroucq, Emmanuelle Leleu, Morrigane Boyer, William Lorton, and Ren Hsien Hsu. I just think it’s wonderful.

(This would have been a Funniest Item but I’ve had it open for more than a week. Got it from Lileks, originally.)

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February 15, 2014

I’ve Invented a Cocktail!

So, as everyone knows, there’s the Whiskey Mac:

1 part blended Scotch
1 part green ginger wine

And then there’s the Ginger Mac:

1 part Scotch
1 part King’s Ginger Liqueur

But now I’ve invented this:

1 part King’s Ginger Liqueur
1 part Gin

I’m calling it… The Ginger Jack!*

* No research has been done into whether such a thing already exists.

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February 13, 2014

Sid Caesar

Well, we seem to have come to that point in history where all my new discoveries are from people dying. Before it was classic movie stars, and I knew all about them, but now it’s the TV stars that came after the classic movies, and I’m terrible with classic TV (except Get Smart and F-Troop, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, Dragnet, and bits of Carol Burnett). So now Sid Caesar’s died, and I’ve never heard of him, but then there’s this amazing photo of him with Mel Brooks and Woody Allen, who wrote for him. Anyway, this is pretty darned good, in our modern Gwynnie-infused times:

Sid Caesar- Health Food Restaurant

February 12, 2014

Absolutely the Funniest Item of the Day CCCVIII

I heard this for the first time yesterday, and it’s just fantastic. Play it loud so you can hear:

Flanders And Swann – The Gnu Song

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February 8, 2014


Oh, Russians (that is, actual people, not the politicians and the elite): I do love your strange relationship music.

NBC provides video of the Police Choir singing (with admirable gusto!)

Which necessarily means posting this:

February 7, 2014

Already These Olympics Are GREAT

And no I’m not watching, I’m just on Twitter.

But to illustrate in more than 140 characters (less the short url for an epic photo), Mark Steyn posted this, written during the Salt Lake City Olympics what with the corruption and vote rigging and whatnot:

For all that pious guff about not tainting the “Olympic ideals”, the best Games have always been those infected by politics: a racially inferior Negro driving Hitler nuts by whupping the Aryan boys and taking four medals in ’36; the mad-as-hell Magyars who, a month after the Hungarian uprising, trounced the Soviets in a brutal water-polo match in Melbourne in 1956. Alas, the USSR went belly up and those genetically modified east bloc lady shot-putters with facial hair even Mullah Omar might find a tad excessive faded from the scene. And, to be honest, in the last decade the Olympics hasn’t been what it was.

Yeah no kiddin’. (Unless you take the absolutely throbbing good will and positive energies coming out of London, but that was London, the town, let’s be honest.)

So, to drive home the point, all the journalists of the Western World are descending on a hicksville little hole-in-the-wall in Russia, where the only journalist who would have written about the situation has been thrown in a gulag or poisoned with radioactive tea a decade ago, and all the PR from Putin about how great everything is is being shown up for what it really is: A corrupt, tasteless, shoddy little place. And to defend themselves, the Russian authorities are blaming the journalists, based on the security footage they have of the showers in the hotel rooms the journalists are staying in. I mean, really. Even Google’s rainbow doodle and the Canadian luge ad are making this incredibly entertaining, for once. And I haven’t had to sit through a single McDonalds ad yet!

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January 31, 2014

Tsunami, Death, and All That Stuff Westerners Don’t Get

The LRB – Ghosts of the Tsunami, by Richard Lloyd Parry

An early representative snippet:

A cab driver in the city of Sendai picked up a sad-faced man who asked to be taken to an address that no longer existed. Halfway through the journey, he looked into his mirror to see that the rear seat was empty. He drove on anyway, stopped in front of the levelled foundations of a destroyed house, and politely opened the door to allow the invisible passenger out at his former home.

But if you’re not in floods of tears at the last few paragraphs, then I don’t know you. It’s a #longread, if you know what that means, but it’s beautiful.

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