11 December 2018

Pinocchio on steroids

The word for the day...

bottomless Pinocchio

30 November 2018

Sometimes things go right: The Barry Attack

[Event "Live Chess"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2018.11.30"]
[Result "1-0"]
[TimeControl "300"]
[WhiteElo "1632"]
[BlackElo "1680"]

1. d4 {[%clk 0:04:59.9]} 1... Nf6 {[%clk 0:04:59.2]} 2. Nf3 {[%clk 0:04:58.3]}
2... g6 {[%clk 0:04:56.3]} 3. Bf4 {[%clk 0:04:56.8]} 3... Bg7 {[%clk 0:04:52.9]}
4. e3 {[%clk 0:04:55.4]} 4... d5 {[%clk 0:04:51.1]} 5. Nc3 {[%clk 0:04:54.1]}
5... e6 {[%clk 0:04:49.7]} 6. Bd3 {[%clk 0:04:53]} 6... O-O {[%clk 0:04:48.2]}
7. h4 {[%clk 0:04:51.9]} 7... h6 {[%clk 0:04:38.5]} 8. h5 {[%clk 0:04:41]} 8...
g5 {[%clk 0:04:36.7]} 9. Nxg5 {[%clk 0:04:39.6]} 9... hxg5 {[%clk 0:04:35]} 10.
Bxg5 {[%clk 0:04:38.7]} 10... Nbd7 {[%clk 0:04:23.8]} 11. h6 {[%clk 0:04:37.2]}
11... Bh8 {[%clk 0:04:17.9]} 12. h7+ {[%clk 0:04:33.7]} 12... Kg7 {[%clk
0:04:16.7]} 13. Bh6# {[%clk 0:04:20.1]} 1-0

10 November 2018

Native Americans' early history

The research on native American origins is getting interesting as new genetic analyses appear. There's now greater clarification regarding northern and southern branches. More is now known about the landscape of Beringia, where the ancestral populations are thought to have resided for thousands of years. At the same time, the dates for a migration along the coast keep getting pushed back. Another study of genetics, hypothesizes that there were three major populations that pushed into South America and another one that headed into eastern North America.

20 October 2018

30 September 2018

13 August 2018

Jordan Peterson

What Peterson says about the crisis in higher education (around the 30-minute mark)--bloated administration, excessive costs, and a lack of a sense of mission--is right on.

10 August 2018

Mother! ):

Mother has to be one of the most pointless movies I've ever seen. It has some good actors and a very promising beginning, but then, the promise isn't kept. It's just a series of vapid horror film scenes that don't add up to anything. I forced myself to watch it to the end and am promising myself never to make that decision again. Warning to all: There's no brilliant climactic close that will compensate you for the two lost hours of your life.

7 August 2018

Where's the promised wage growth?

Drew Desilver has an interesting article on the lack of real wage growth in the last 40 years, despite the recent uptick in many economic indices.


1 August 2018

29 July 2018


From Mad Kane...

Vlad Visit Interruptus? 

Over hosting old Vlad, Trump’s been heady.
 But the Kremlin says Putin’s not ready
 To say “Da” to a visit.
 A diss? Ain’t it, is it?
 Poor Trump hoped the two would go steady.

27 July 2018

The Cultural Map

I've been reading Erin Meyers' book The Cultural Map and have been very impressed with it. So many of these top selling books introducing a field tend to be well-written but fluffy. This book, while very polished, does offer a lot of good insights. Best of all, when it veers into some area that I'm familiar with (e.g., East Asia), it does an excellent job, so my guess is that the entire books' insights are valid. One minor issue is with the author's description of the five bonds of Confucianism. Meyers describes the bonds between friends (the bond of trust) as being between an elder and younger friend. The Chinese has a single character for friends, so I don't know where the "elder and younger" assumption is coming from. My understanding of the passage is that the relationship between friends (unlike the other four bonds) isn't hierarchical. Does anyone have any insights on this they'd like to share?

20 July 2018

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders in Kansas

This is exactly where progressives should be campaigning. If their message doesn't resonate among the working class, it's time to change the message and transform the platform.

17 June 2018

Apropos quote for the day

"We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

 Supreme Court Justice Louis D Grandeis

11 June 2018

5 June 2018

This explains a lot...

24 May 2018

20 May 2018

America's rifle

An AR-15 or a modified version of one was used to commit the attacks in Aurora, Colorado (June 2012); Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut (December 2012); San Bernardino, California (December 2015); First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (November 2017); and Parkland, Florida (February 2018). Yet according to the NRA, this is "America's rifle."

18 May 2018

South Korean government's war on plastic

This is good to see. South Korea's making a bold move to cut out the use of plastic bags. I'm a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to this since I still end up taking the occasional plastic bag when it's unnecessary, but I'm glad to see governments step up to the plate and do more to remind us all to do the right thing.

17 May 2018

Richard Boyd Barrett

Richard Boyd Barrett deserves credit for stating the obvious. Israel isn't a democracy. It's an apartheid regime and an American lackey.

Your mind on social media

Cliff Nass has a good talk where he talks about the effects of multitasking and social media--the real opium of the current masses.

15 May 2018

The embassy move

I could care less about the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem. If that's where Israel wants to put their embassy, more power to them. The status of the Palestinians is another matter. As pointed out by so many this last week, the Gaza Strip has become a giant open-air prison. The current thugs running the Israeli government treat these desperate people like dogs. There's no hope while the Israeli far right's in charge. This photo of Fadi Abu Saleh, a Palestinian in Gaza confronting Israeli soldiers, was widely circulated last week. Israeli troops shot him dead.

14 May 2018

A poem for our times


born again profiteering false prophets

professing to protect the unborn only
to undo them, undermine them,
mine them monetarily once
the unborn is born time again
holier -than- thou hooligans who,
when all life is pro-life,
fight for the welfare of the fetus
but not welfare for the newborn
holier -than- thou hooligans
passing out evangelical mulligans
to impious charlatans peddling
sanctimonious pro-life demagoguery

holier -than- thou hypocrites, pimping
spurious sentiments and sacraments
to protect the unborn only to undo them,
unvoice them, undermine them, divide them
by race, class and choice in order to monetarily
abort the unborn once they are newborns

by Neal Hall

The 2018 diet

9 May 2018

The fall-out from Trump's decision

Larison, writing for The American Conservative, does a nice job of summarizing the effects of Trump's recent decision to renege on the nuclear agreement with Iran. I quote the final three paragraphs:

Iranian hard-liners will be pleased by Trump’s decision, since it lets them claim vindication and accuse their domestic opponents of making the mistake of trusting the U.S. Hard-liners in the U.S. and Iran feed off of each other, and when they are in the ascendant in one country it boosts hard-liners in the other. Armed conflict between U.S. forces and Iran and its proxies is going to become more likely as a result of this decision, and that could escalate into a larger war faster than anyone expects. Once the U.S. is out of the deal, it won’t be long before we hear the usual drumbeat for military action against Iran.
Reneging on the nuclear deal doesn’t serve any American interests and does significant harm to several of them. Other states will be less willing to trust the U.S. to honor its obligations. That will raise the costs of every negotiation the U.S. conducts with other governments during the current administration. Every government that cooperated with the U.S. to secure the deal will remember how Trump simply threw away a major diplomatic achievement for the sake of spite and ideology, and they will be less inclined to cooperate with Washington the next time their help is needed.
Withdrawing from the JCPOA is a huge unforced error and self-inflicted wound whose full costs we won’t realize until later, and it represents a serious setback to the cause of nonproliferation. Trump is walking away from a deal that got the U.S. almost everything it wanted at virtually no cost, and he is doing it mainly because it allows him to repudiate his predecessor’s work. It is a perfect example of putting petty self-interest and pique ahead of the interests of the United States, and it has absolutely nothing to do with putting America first.

8 May 2018

Welcoming the newest member to the nuclear club

Trump has nixed the nuclear deal with Iran. This has to be the surest way to ensure that Iran will get nuclear weapons. While I'm sure that the U.S. is ready to rubber stamp any Israeli plans to lob a few missiles at Iranian nuclear development sites, neither nation has the stomach for a full-scale invasion, and without that, it's a fait accompli. Iran has surely read the writing on the wall. Build the nukes and they will come--to the negotiating table, that is. Just look at North Korea. As bellicose and idiotic as the regime is, no one (outside of tabloidesque op-eds) has plans to bomb the North. And for good reason. Of course, I'm sure that Trump could care less about the long-term effects this will have on Iran's nuclear ambitions. He's thrown his weight behind Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East's proxy war. We'll just ignore, for the moment, that most of the backing for terrorist groups in the Middle East is coming from money funneled through Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Iran is one of the few places in the area that doesn't have bombs constantly going off in markets--but the McLeader of the "free" world is working hard to change that.

2 May 2018

In Japan recently, a politician giving a speech at a sumo exhibition match in Kyoto collapsed. Women (as it turns out, nurses) rushed to the ring and gave the man CPR. Since the sumo ring is sacred, someone in the audience shouted for the women to leave and so some flustered fellow on the microphone started to repeat the statement. Fortunately, despite the idiocy, the CPR worked and the man survived the ordeal. The incident comes in the wake of sexual harrassment scandals--in particular, a case where a politician came on to a female reporter very forcefully.

24 April 2018

The future and fortunes of fortune-telling Kangnam style

The Economist had a recent article about the continued popularity of fortune-telling, shamans, and clairvoyants in South Korea. It's interesting to see the established religions gradually fade in influence while the New Age variants emerge to take their place. The article eventually delves into the fanciful with a discussion of AI-empowered robots entering the fray.

23 April 2018

The rapture hatch

16 April 2018

11 April 2018

The American right and education

Looking at the map showing stagnant (and often declining) teachers' wages across the U.S., we find (again) that the worst states tend to be those that vote Republican, with the exception of Utah. (Perhaps because of the heavy Mormon population, Utah is always an outlier that bucks many of the negative trends associated with the Republican Party.)

29 March 2018

19 March 2018


Watching the coverage of the Putin victory this morning, I was taken back by how many stations were interpreting it as a sign of his popularity. I'm sure he's popular among many in Russia, but an election where other popular candidates are arrested or killed and outspoken reporters are killed on the street is hardly a referendum on anything.

14 February 2018

Another disturbing dog story...

Apparently, two dogs turned on their owner, killed her and then started eating her.

19 January 2018