Friday, February 27, 2009

More Heresy Department

Dambisa Moyo in the NY Times: Stop all aid to Africa, Bono's an idiot and nobody feels sorry for the Chinese.

I've always wondered why an ability to sing makes somebody an expert on foreign policy. Maybe in the future "American Idol" contestants will give five minute oral presentations on George Kennan. My guess is that it's part of the same American idiocy that bestows sainthood on the relatives of people unlucky enough to be in a building when it was hit by an airplane. That makes about as much sense as appointing me to head GM's car safety division because I got in a fender bender, or worse yet my relatives and friends. For some of those friends the solution would be to install bongs in every car, because everybody knows that when you're stoned you drive really, really slow.

Related note: it's been brought up over and over that Africa and Asia were in the same boat in terms of being rural economies facing the challenge of industrialization in the 20th century, but that Asia was able to claw its way into the first world while Africa is still mired in the third. I wonder what the state of the literature is in detailing the differences the approaches countries on the two continents went through in modernizing themselves. One story I heard on NPR a few years ago speculated that part of the difference was in educational spending: Asian countries invested in primary education (termed in the US as "K-12") while African countries invested in high prestige universities.

Interestingly enough, isn't affirmative action in the US simply a transplanted version of the inferior, repudiated African model? What's the point of getting disadvantaged kids to college if the primary schools they came from are wrecks which are incapable of providing the basic education their students will presumably need to succeed in a higher education setting?

Finally, could it be that nobody feels sorry for the Chinese because they talk funny and play an inferior variant of checkers?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Holy Crap!

I'm old, I'm jaded and I don't startle easily. That said I experienced a moment of genuine surprise today. The occasion?

Mission of Burma's available as a download pack for Rock Band!

Now if only "Academy Fight Song" was available as a download my life would be complete.

BTW, it's a novel experience playing Rock Band with people who are much younger (read poorer) than you. The little savages have no taste in music. "Waaaah, waaaah!" they'd cry. "We want to play something that's not the Pixies. The Pixies suck!"

Fortunately since I'm older and wiser I was able to set them straight. I'm the guy that owns the console and the game, so it's my vicarious fantasies of rock stardom that we're going to be living out. And those fantasies have nothing to do with Bobby Spears or whatever her name is.

And the Pixies rock.

Mmm Mmm Good, Part Deux

Brewed with water from an underground stream, for even more deliciousness than normal.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Betty Boop, Betty Boop

I ended up watching a lot of animation for some reason this weekend, catching both "Coraline" and the program of Oscar nominated shorts. "Coraline" may have its deficiencies in the story department but the movie itself was clearly a labor of love, and I enjoyed the quality of its stop motion animation. The giant nerd glasses the theater handed out for the movie's 3D effects didn't hurt either.

On the other hand the Oscar nominated shorts were a terrible disappointment. If that's the best the world of short animation can offer these days the genre needs to be put out of its misery with a bullet in its head. The program swung back and forth between sentimental treacle ("Lavatory Love Story") and inferior rip-offs of old Warner Brothers cartoons (some Pixar piece of crap about a rabbit and a magician). Pixar, if you can't beat the work of underpaid, overworked factory slaves from 60 years ago when you've got a $100,000,000 budget, what's the point of even trying?

The sole exception was a short piece from Japan, "La Maison en Petits Cubes". (I guess "Tsumiki no Ie" wasn't good enough.) I found it to be beautiful, sad and understated which means it'll probably lose to some mediocre crap about a hungry rabbit refusing to do magic tricks.

Mmm Mmm Good