Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is Google making us stupid

This article caused a bit of a stir... It's interesting how people get so defensive about the Internet.

I was listening to the radio the other day and they were mentioning Zuckerberg as one of the greatest inventors of all time for coming up with Facebook. And I was just floored. Here is a guy that found a fantastic way to have people waste their free time, and he is being honored? It's like a guy being given a Nobel prize for inventing a more addictive cocaine formula...

So while the Chinese kids are being drilled in multivariate calculus, our best and brightest are playing farmville or sending virtual pina coladas to their friends, or tagging shit of Flickr or whatever... For the one guy who posts something creative on YouTube, there are ten thousand videos of cats.

An endless trip down the rabbit hole of following one link after the other... Wow, what a senseless waste of human life.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Crazy Story

When I was a freshman in college I signed up for a Russian Lit course in Russian. When I got there, I realized that it was a mistake, as it was intended for students of Russian and not native speakers. However, I managed to befriend many of these guys and began hanging out with them. It was a fair trade - they got to practice Russian with a native speaker, I was a minor with access to lots of free beer. Most of these guys were there on the GI bill, having learned Russian at DLI, and now getting college credit for it - I could never drink them under the table despite my Russian bona fides, but that is beside the point... I also got to drink with the professors from the Dept of Slavic and Eastern European Languages.

So last week I was reading a New Yorker article about Joseph Brodsky and how his best friend wound up sleeping with his girlfriend while Brodsky was running away from the KGB to avoid being arrested. What actually happened is a bit murky as according to the best friend, she came into his room and basically seduced him. A whole sordid and dragged out affair...

Anyway, Brodsky was exiled to the US, became a US poet laureate (which means nobody has heard of him) and died of a heart attack about fifteen years ago. His best friend also emigrated to the US a few years after Brodsky, and wound up teaching Russian literature at an American university.

And was the drinking partner of a kid who had no idea who was sitting across the table from him.


Bought some Bols Genever and made myself a nice Tom Collins last night. Not bad. This is allegedly some formulation which is supposed to be more like the traditional oude jenever but formulated for "American tastes", whatever that means. Pretty sure it's kosher (at least according to some Australian beis din, and if it's good enough for the Aussies, it's good enough for me)

Also drank a big bottle of Rodenbach. Yep - still an awesome beverage - highly recommend it.

Stumbled upon a blog of a call girl in Moscow - I think it's authentic, but hard to tell.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The cruelest movie review I've ever read...

The general opinion of “Revenge of the Sith” seems to be that it marks a distinct improvement on the last two episodes, “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.” True, but only in the same way that dying from natural causes is preferable to crucifixion. So much here is guaranteed to cause either offense or pain, starting with the nineteen-twenties leather football helmet that Natalie Portman suddenly dons for no reason, and rising to the continual horror of Ewan McGregor’s accent. “Another happy landing”—or, to be precise, “anothah heppy lending”—he remarks, as Anakin parks the front half of a burning starcruiser on a convenient airstrip. The young Obi-Wan Kenobi is not, I hasten to add, the most nauseating figure onscreen; nor is R2-D2 or even C-3PO, although I still fail to understand why I should have been expected to waste twenty-five years of my life following the progress of a beeping trash can and a gay, gold-plated Jeeves.

No, the one who gets me is Yoda. May I take the opportunity to enter a brief plea in favor of his extermination? Any educated moviegoer would know what to do, having watched that helpful sequence in “Gremlins” when a small, sage-colored beastie is fed into an electric blender. A fittingly frantic end, I feel, for the faux-pensive stillness on which the Yoda legend has hung. At one point in the new film, he assumes the role of cosmic shrink—squatting opposite Anakin in a noirish room, where the light bleeds sideways through slatted blinds. Anakin keeps having problems with his dark side, in the way that you or I might suffer from tennis elbow, but Yoda, whose reptilian smugness we have been encouraged to mistake for wisdom, has the answer. “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose,” he says. Hold on, Kermit, run that past me one more time. If you ever got laid (admittedly a long shot, unless we can dig you up some undiscerning alien hottie with a name like Jar Jar Gabor), and spawned a brood of Yodettes, are you saying that you’d leave them behind at the first sniff of danger? Also, while we’re here, what’s with the screwy syntax? Deepest mind in the galaxy, apparently, and you still express yourself like a day-tripper with a dog-eared phrase book. “I hope right you are.” Break me a fucking give.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pomplamoose - La Vie En Rose cover

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Another odd coincidence

Yesterday I was reading an article in the New Yorker on David Deutsch's work on quantum computing, and especially his embrace of the "Many Worlds" hypothesis. This is the idea that anything that could have happened but didn't, happened in a different universe, and anything that may happen, but doesn't, will happen in a different universe.

After Shabbos, for some odd reason which I can't recall, I googled the Codex Seraphinianus, and was led through a series of links to the Borges short story - "The Garden of Forking Paths" which I had not read before. In this story written in 1941, Borges describes a "many worlds" version of a novel. He had this idea 16 years before Hugh Everitt came up with his theory in 1957...

Friday, May 06, 2011

Gandhi's Assassination

When Gandhi was shot, it was the fifth attempt on his life. I think he knew he was doomed to be killed. Perhaps this is why he refused to have bodyguards around him in his last days.

One thing I realized is how Gandhi's philosophy was and is hijacked by everyone without truly understanding what he was preaching. Perhaps this is why he gave up on life. I know I would if I was in the same boat.

Confessions of a Nihilist

I have become a nihilist. That doesn't mean that I sit around in coffee shops all day in a black turtleneck. It's not an act of rebellion. It is just something I became.

Which really sucks for everyone. It sucks for my kids - I don't have the will to teach them any precepts - I don't believe in anything anymore.

It sucks for my wife.
It sucks for my job. I have no purpose and no motivation.

But how does one revert?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.

– Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, We, or Our Nation Defined, Nagpur: Bharat publications, 1939, p. 37.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Gandhi and the Jews

Something I have been thinking about lately... Article in Prospect magazine.

Non Normative Lexicon Music Monday - Leningrad

New(ish) music from my favorite band - Leningrad ( now with a new lead singer, the talented Yulia Kogan)