31 January 2010

SPOTD #163

On the final day of the first month of 2010, the 163rd Spanish Phrase of the Day-

Today's Phrase:
Unfortunately, I was at a loss for something profound.

Es bueno leer.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable
Ess bway-no lay-air.

Translation (roughly)
It is good to read.

When is a Poke more than a Poke?
When a poke means planning a hit. A British gangster is using Facebook's networking abilities to maintain his criminal activities.

2009 is gone
But its films live on. Here is Eric Snider's roundup of the best and worst of last year.

Homemade Artillery
Why not? This one can launch pumpkins at 600 mph.

Danger Driver
Want to see the most dangerous road in Europe?

Ticket Avoidance
Want to avoid trouble on the road with the Po-Po? Give these cars your consideration. I do think that their presence on the list is due more to the demographics of the drivers than the vehicles themselves, but there may be safety in these numbers.

Bad Idea Department
Twilight Tattoos. No one will ever regret this, right?

Danger Burgers
This is a list of the worst fast-food burgers, nutritionally. Two of my favorites are on the list.

Scientists have found the skull of a giant sea creature that could have eaten almost anything in the ocean. The skull is extremely well-preserved.

Link of the Day
Check out the most Viral videos of the past decade.

30 January 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXXI

A pretty funny critique of the commander-in-chief's reliance on teleprompters.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama Speaks to a Sixth-Grade Classroom
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

28 January 2010


This is a fact-check piece from the Associated Press. Obama may not have made more unrealistic claims or promises than past presidents, but given the platform that he campaigned on, his missteps seem more glaring.

The Telegraph (U.K.) published a scathing critique of a speech that did not spend a lot of time on foreign policy. An excerpt:

The Iranian nuclear threat, likely to be the biggest foreign policy issue of 2010, was given just two lines in the speech, with a half-hearted warning of “growing consequences” for Tehran, with no details given at all. There were no words of support for Iranian protestors who have been murdered, tortured and beaten in large numbers by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s thuggish security forces, and no sign at all that the president cared about their plight. Nor was there any condemnation of the brutality of the Iranian regime, as well as its blatant sponsorship of terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As the example of Iran showed, the advance of freedom and liberty across the world in the face of tyranny was not even a footnote in the president’s speech. I cannot think of a US president in modern times who has attached less importance to human rights issues. For the hundreds of millions of people across the world, from Burma to Sudan to Zimbabwe, clamouring to be free of oppression, there was not a shred of hope offered in Barack Obama’s address.
Obama’s world leadership in his first year in office has been weak-kneed and little short of disastrous. He has sacrificed the projection of American power upon the altar of political vanity, with empty speeches and groveling apologies across the world, from Strasbourg to Cairo. He has appeased some of America’s worst enemies, and has extended the hand of friendship to many of the most odious regimes on the face of the earth. Judging by the State of the Union address tonight, we can expect more of the same from an American president who seems determined to lead the world’s greatest power along a path of decline.

I do have to give the president credit for mentioning a trade deal with Colombia. This is something that has been delayed for far too long, and with no real reason.

27 January 2010

One Year Later

I probably will not watch the President's entire speech. I always find myself frustrated and annoyed by him when I listen to his speeches. Obviously my ideological biases play a major role here.

I read this scathing critique of Obama's first year by electoral supporter and media boss Mort Zuckerman. His first three paragraphs-

He’s misjudged the character of the country in his whole approach. There’s the saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” He didn’t get it. He was determined somehow or other to adopt a whole new agenda. He didn’t address the main issue.
This health-care plan is going to be a fiscal disaster for the country. Most of the country wanted to deal with costs, not expansion of coverage. This is going to raise costs dramatically.
In the campaign, he said he would change politics as usual. He did change them. It’s now worse than it was. I’ve now seen the kind of buying off of politicians that I’ve never seen before. It’s politically corrupt and it’s starting at the top. It’s revolting.

Some of Obama's failures may arise from a feeling of invicibility stemming from his very impressive electoral victory. According to an anecdote from a frustrated demcratic Congressman, the president seemed to feel that his initiatives would succeed based on the strength of his personality. Not so.

26 January 2010

Going out strong

This was a great way for Conan to go out. It was a funny show, and I thought that Conan's speech at 31:40 was excellent. He was very gracious and humble, and did himself great credit.

I was never a regular viewer (much too late for me) but I think Conan is very, very funny.

Doing good, Wherever needed.

This is a great piece about Doctors Without Borders and their innovative portable hospitals. Technology has made working in places like earthquake-devastated Haiti so much easier.

25 January 2010

To Be Good

Google has made some strong assertions about the status of their business in China. This is why it is a good thing. This is why China needs Google.

If Google wants to make being good a part of their business modus operandi, standing up to the Chinese government is a pretty good place to start.

23 January 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXX

It's back in just under 2 weeks!

This promo seems to indicate, as some have surmised, that the detonation of Jughead may allow for a do-over of sorts. We'll see.

19 January 2010

Adieu Conan, adieu.

Conan is out. He'll make $40 million and be unable to work on television for another network for several years. I think he would have preferred to keep the gig. Here is a listing from a WSJ site of some of their favorite bits from his brief tenure.

To make you laugh a little, some of David Letterman's comments on the issue (from last Friday I believe)


A long time ago there was a program that was sent to many schools in the United States via satellite, Channel 1. It was a news program meant to educate middle and high school students about the world around them, and it included reporting from Bosnia (in the middle of its bloody conflict) by a young Anderson Cooper. I remember being impressed by his willingness to go to a dangerous place, and on behalf of a news program that was only seen by teenagers.

I don't usually watch CNN, where Cooper is now an anchor, but I have always admired him for his early work in Bosnia. I saw this video of him in Haiti, helping a boy who had been injured, and I was impressed. It seems a human moment, where it was not enough to observe events but where he wanted to get involved.

There is some blood in the video.

16 January 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXIX

On Wednesday night's American Idol, there was an audition by a 62 year old man, where he sang an original composition called "Pants on the Ground." It was pretty fun to watch.

Predictably, in the Internet Age it has spawned admirers. This is my favorite, with Jimmy Fallon impersonating Neil Young, singing the instant classic.

14 January 2010


The aftermath of the Haitian earthquake has been devastating. The loss of life, and the resulting medical and hygiene crisis, will take months to be dealt with. I can hardly think of a country less-well-equipped to deal with such a crisis.

Fortunately you can get involved quickly. Texting "Haiti" to 90999 will send $10 to the American Red Cross through your mobile provider. They have already raised $800,000 through this method.

This event further illustrates the incredible abilities of the U.S. military as a provider of immediate aid. No effective aid can be provided without security, and the military has been active all over the world in such situations, like the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. They have cleared the airport, the first step in providing meaningful aid.

12 January 2010


Early tomorrow morning an unidentified object is going to pass within 80,000 miles of the earth.

I hope they figure out what it is. I am glad there are mysteries in this universe.

11 January 2010

Coming Clean

Mark McGwire has finally admitted publicly what most have long suspected- that he used steroids while playing Major League Baseball. I found his statement disappointing. The only real reason for him to be admitting to steroid use now is that he about to begin his work as the batting coach for his old team, the St. Louis Cardinals.

I give him credit for being clear about the extent of his use, but I think he should have made his admission much earlier. I'm disappointed because I always enjoyed him as a player, and like Barry Bonds, think that would have been a great hitter without the steroids. In McGwire's case he may not have lasted as long as he did. but his gift as a hitter was clear from his first season.

I like the perspective offered by SI.com writer Lee Jenkins, though I disagree that McGwire needed the juice to be relevant.

09 January 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXVIII

I saw this the other day and thought it was hilarious.

07 January 2010


I rarely watch late night TV, but I have long thought that Conan O'Brien was a very, very funny entertainer. I was happy that he got The Tonight Show job, but mystified by their choice to cancel their 10 pm dramas in favor of keeping Leno. I wasn't the only one either, and it appears their experiment may be nearing an end, to Conan's possible detriment.

That's Hollywood.

04 January 2010

Not So Scientific

This is a fantastic article about the science of science. It's worth printing and reading at your leisure.

Dunbar came away from his in vivo studies with an unsettling insight: Science is a deeply frustrating pursuit. Although the researchers were mostly using established techniques, more than 50 percent of their data was unexpected. (In some labs, the figure exceeded 75 percent.) “The scientists had these elaborate theories about what was supposed to happen,” Dunbar says. “But the results kept contradicting their theories. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to spend a month on a project and then just discard all their data because the data didn’t make sense.” Perhaps they hoped to see a specific protein but it wasn’t there. Or maybe their DNA sample showed the presence of an aberrant gene. The details always changed, but the story remained the same: The scientists were looking for X, but they found Y.
The sad part is that many scientists abandon the unexpected data in order to continue searching for what they expected.

03 January 2010

New Freedoms in a New Year?

The most underreported story at this time has to be the unrest in Iran. Ever since the turmoil caused during the most recent presidential election, the regime in power has consistently tried to put down the increasingly aggressive opposition. In his last column, the Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins alludes to the (understandable) focus placed on the latest airborne terror attempt, but exhorts us to focus more on the much more significant events in Iran.

Their tactics have included imprisonment and torture. They identify young students, often with great potential, and limit their opportunities for advancement, and in turn, effective opposition.

The opposition is putting themselves in harm's way for the kinds of freedoms that we take for granted.

We should start paying attention.

02 January 2010

Awesome Video Saturday CXVII

A creepy and creative reminder to be careful what you covet.

01 January 2010

Happy New Year!

I'm of the belief that the '00's weren't so bad. It was certainly full of significant challenges, but personally was a wonderful period of time. 10 years ago I was a missionary in San Diego. I returned home, lived in college with some of my best friends, graduated from college, married my wife, had two kids (with one on the way), and survived a major economic crisis. I can't really complain.

Here is some good information to get you started in the '10's: