Culture

Of Pedals and Petulance

By on 5.16.14 | 3:01PM

I need to make a confession and I realize it won’t make me too popular around here. No, it has nothing to do with my politics, but here goes.

I ride my bike everywhere.

It’s my primary mode of transportation. I ride to work, I ride home, I ride for pleasure, I ride as preference. Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail keeps me out of the saddle.

To put things in perspective, I rode to work today, despite the fact that the Washington Area Bicyclists Association postponed their annual “Bike to Work Day” due to lousy weather.

Don’t get me wrong. I own a car. It just lives in my parents’ garage, outside of Philadelphia. I’ve held a license since I turned sixteen. I just don’t miss the parking tickets, or the traffic, or “running on empty” to the gas station for a $50 fill-up. I traded all that for the fresh air and exercise that comes in the bike lane.

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Saving Face in Space

By on 5.16.14 | 12:37PM

Like a child holding a prized toy above his younger brother’s head, Russia is taunting the United States via space policy. In this case, the toy is the International Space Station and it’s being held 250 kilometers above Uncle Sam’s head.

On Tuesday, London's Telegraph reported: “Russia is to deny the US future use of the International Space Station beyond 2020 and will also bar its rocket engines from launching US military satellites as it hits back at American sanctions imposed over Ukraine crisis.” This is the latest in a list of new sanctions announced by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

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Campus Scenes

Know-Nothing Know-It-Alls

By 5.16.14

Commencement ceremonies now serve as an exclamation point to the horrible education received by students. Too ignorant to know that they don’t know, graduating activists regard successful attempts to block speakers as triumphs instead of reflections on their failures to learn.

Former University of California-Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, a champion of illegal aliens receiving in-state tuition, racial preferences, and gay marriage, is the latest unlikely target of the campus Jacobins. A group of Haverford College students notified him through letter that “we are extremely uncomfortable honoring you” and that his presence at graduation “deeply disturbed” them. His offense? During his chancellorship, police arrested a group of protesters, fulfilling, of course, their ambition.

The know-nothing know-it-alls, which included just sixteen of the several hundred graduating seniors, issued nine abasing demands to the elderly physicist. “If you choose not to confront the issues before you,” they warned, “we will have no other option than to call for the college to withdraw its invitation.”

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Boob Tube

‘Penny Dreadful’ Is Pretty Dreadful

By 5.16.14

For the past month or so, ads for Showtime’s new television show Penny Dreadful have been a constant companion on my commute: posters and posters of beautiful people in Old Time clothes, who stare at me seriously as I waited for the train.

Recently, the ads for Penny Dreadful have gained some neighbors: ads for A Million Ways to Die in the West, Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming Western comedy movie. These ads are almost identical to Penny Dreadful’s: yet another series of posters of beautiful people in Old Time clothes. These two sets of advertisements blended together to the point where I can no longer recall, without checking, whether or not they are both still hanging up. They are advertising the same thing.

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NPR Wants You To Associate Ice Cream With Racial Guilt

By on 5.15.14 | 9:41PM

Please note that this piece repeats a racial slur in citing an article which ran elsewhere. The slur in that article was not used in a historical, not a pejorative context.

The tune played by ice cream trucks is racist, so you should feel guilty for enjoying a summer treat. Or at least reverently contend with the "intellectual complexity" of racism while you chow down on your Fudgsicle. That is the takeaway from a ridiculous piece on NPR's website by Theodore R. Johnson, III entitled "Recall That Ice Cream Truck Song? We Have Unpleasant News For You." The premise behind Johnson's story is that the jingle played by countless ice cream trucks across the country is from the tune of an old minstrel show song, the lyrics of which drop the n word and perpetuate crude stereotypes. From the NPR piece:

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If a New York Times Executive Editor Falls in the Forest, Does It Make a Sound?

By on 5.15.14 | 12:54PM

The news is unbelievable, outlandish, and absurd! Jill Abramson has been ousted from the New York Times. This, of course, is huge news. You know that it's huge news because news outlets tell you so. NPR, Forbes, The Washington Post, and Politico (no less than four times!) have all spilled copious amounts of ink covering Abramson's departure. It has long been rumored that Abramson was a difficult boss to work for. Perhaps the Ban Bossy campaign has backfired. 

The most breathless coverage came from Politico's John Harris and Hadas Gold, who proclaimed that this departure is the departure to beat all departures. The Capo di tutti capi of departures:

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Interview With Maker of “White Guys: We Suck and We’re Sorry”

By on 5.15.14 | 9:45AM

This interview relates to my article of 5/15/14 entitled "White Guys are Terrible"

Stephen Parkhurst, who made the controversial short video, "White Guys: We Suck and We’re Sorry," kindly agreed to answer a few questions from me despite several days of fairly intense, hateful, even scary responses he's endured.

My questions in bold below; Mr. Parkhurst's answers following each question. (Asterisks in "swear words" placed by me, not Mr. Parkhurst)

How did the reaction to the video (other than the aggression and threats; more about the substance of the reaction) compare to what you expected?

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Jane Austen Was Not “Victorian”

By on 5.14.14 | 7:13AM

For most of history, Thomas Piketty explains, the return on the value of land has exceeded economic growth, which helps explain why Victorian characters like Mr. Darcy seem so effortlessly wealthy….So this is in almost every Victorian novel. From Jane Austen up through Anthony Trollope, you keep hearing about what kind of an income the prospective bride or groom has. And you don’t hear about a rate of return.

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George Will Destroys Hash Tag Activism

By on 5.12.14 | 5:01PM

Those of us who are annoyed by cheap acts of charity were once again rolling our eyes last week after the hash tag #BringBackOurGirls started trending on Twitter. Evidently the eighteen characters were supposed to free the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the heinous thugs of Boko Haram in a triumphant whirlwind of Internet self-congratulations. This hasn't happened yet, and it has a lot of us wondering where the hash-taggers were when Boko Haram slaughtered fifty-nine schoolboys back in February—or when militia wars destabilized the Central African Republic, or when Boko Haram and other terrorists decapitated Mali, or when ethnic cleansing exploded in post-Gaddafi Libya, or when 5.4 million people were killed in the Second Congo War, or...

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The Beer Spectator: Four Blogs Craft Beer Beginners Should Be Reading

By on 5.9.14 | 1:13PM

When I started drinking beer in college, I began a journey. Since that time, I have tried many different IPAs, lagers, and pale ales. I’ve had beer in South Africa, Turkey, Spain, and elsewhere.

My one goal in drinking beer is to savor the entire experience. It’s never just about the beer, but also the people you spend time with and the environment you're a part of.

Some of you may not enjoy craft beer. Some of you may want to explore more. Both are welcome here, and I will continue to inform those who want to read.

The blogs below are for those just starting on the craft beer path. I think these bloggers are some of the most accessible on the Internet. They post regularly, and are very informative.

BeerSearchParty.com—Los Angeles beer blogger Sean writes short posts every day reviewing a variety of beers from California and the rest of the United States. Sean also comments on the L.A. beer community. His posts are very straightforward; make it a point to check in with him every couple of days.  

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