I Got Hurt Feelings

  • A construction sign on my way to work seems oxymoronic to me:

    USE
    EXTREME
    CAUTION!!

    I always wonder: "Is my caution extreme enough this morning? Maybe I should slow down to 10 MPH?"

  • Awhile back, I posted President Obama's Two-Point Plan for the economy:

    1. Say and do anything to get re-elected.
    2. There is no point two.

    Megan McArdle notes that Obama's "jobs plan" fits that model precisely:

    You can say that Obama has no choice, because the GOP is just so damn obstructive that they won't pass anything anyway. As it happens, I disagree--I don't think that he could have gotten the whole thing through, but the GOP would probably have given him a few pieces to avoid looking like total jerks, and while that might not have done too much for Obama's re-election chances, it probably would have meant a lot to the schmoes trying to make their mortgage payments in a tough economy.

    But say it's true. If it is, I really wish that Obama hadn't wasted my Thursday evening, and that of 31 million other Americans, listening to a jobs plan that was only designed to produce one job--a second term for Barack Obama. I mean, I don't blame him, exactly. But I get a little pang when I realize that I could just as well have spent that time bleaching the grout in the master bath.

  • Language Log has irrefutable proof that the Chinese, as a people, are more likely than any other to have their feelings hurt, even more than the Kiwis.

    Spokespersons for the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) often complain that the words or actions of individuals or groups from other nations "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people".  This is true even when those individuals or groups are speaking or acting on behalf of some segment of the Chinese population (e.g., political prisoners, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Falun Gong adherents, people whose houses have been forcibly demolished, farmers, and so forth).  A typical cause for invoking the "hurt(s) the feelings of the Chinese people" circumlocution would be for the head of state of a country to meet with the Dalai Lama or Rebiya Kadeer.  A good example is Mexican President Calderon's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama, which the PRC government denounced in extremely harsh terms.  The vitriolic rebuke led one commentator to refer to the PRC denunciation of the Mexican President as a kind of "bullying".

    I suggest the Kramer response: "What about my feelings? Don't my feelings count for anything? Oh, only the poor monkey's important. Everything has to be done for the monkey!"

    If nothing else, it might confuse 'em for a bit.

  • At Cato, Daniel J. Mitchell is more than a little irritated with Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann for their demagoguery on Social Security.

    Here’s what’s so frustrating. Romney and Bachmann almost certainly understand that Social Security is actuarially bankrupt. And they probably realize that personal retirement accounts are the only long-run answer.

    But they’re letting political ambition lure them into saying things that they know are not true. Why? Because they think Perry will lose votes and they can improve their respective chances of getting the GOP nomination.

    Politics aside: as a practical matter, Mitt and Michele should realize that you can't out-demagogue the Democrats on Social Security.


Last Modified 2012-09-25 5:42 AM EST

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

[Amazon Link]

For no reason I can put my finger on, I've resolved to get through all seven Harry Potter books. (It might be because my daughter technically owns them, and she keeps threatening to take them away.)

I've assigned myself about 20 pages per day. If my calculations are correct, I should finish book 7 around March 18 of next year. (I'd only managed to read the first two, but I'm re-reading them in this project to refresh my memory.)

This first installment in the series, of course, introduces the main characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Snape, Malfoy, etc. Since (from the movies), I already kind of know what's happening, it's funny to note Rowling's foreshadowing. There's a lot of whimsy in this first book that (at least in the movies) gets cut way back later, as things get more and more deadly. The comic caricatures of the Dudleys, the every-flavor jellybeans, quidditch, the sorting hat, …

A very amusing and effortless read. It's easy to see why so many readers got sucked into the Potterverse.


Last Modified 2012-09-25 5:42 AM EST

Super

[3.5
stars] Super (2010) on IMDb [Amazon Link]

There are dark comedies, and then there are really dark comedies. This one is as black as Lutheran church-basement coffee. Dark enough so that every chuckle was accompanied by a little pang of guilt: Am I a bad person for finding this amusing? So consumer beware: it's not for the kiddos, or those easily offended, or maybe even the mentally healthy. But I liked it.

Rainn Wilson plays Frank, the very definition of a schlub, working away as a cook in a greasy spoon. Against all odds, he's married to to the lovely Sarah (Liv Tyler)—OK, you have to really strain credulity to buy that, work with me here. But their relationship is going south: she's taken up with a bad element, and dropping back into old habits of drinking and drugs.

Specifically: the Bad Element is "Jacques" (Kevin Bacon): a total sleaze, apparently a drug kingpin of some sort. Frank's initial efforts to break Sarah away from Jacques fail miserably.

Frank decides (after what seems to be divine intervention) to become a costumed superhero. Also, by most people's standards, he goes nuts. Since he lacks in the superpower department, he carries a pipe wrench. (Which he not only uses on muggers and perverts, but also people cutting in line at the theatre.) With mixed feelings, he acquires a sidekick (Ellen Page) who turns out to be even crazier. Things build up to an epic finale.

This marks a reunion for Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page, because he had a small but memorable role in Juno a few years back. The movie is written and directed by James Gunn, who previously did the kinda-funny horror film Slither, also pretty good.


Last Modified 2012-09-25 5:40 AM EST