URLs du Jour — 2013-12-02

  • It's that most wonderful time of year, by which I mean Dave Barry's Gift Guide for 2013 is available on the web.

    The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but too often, in all the excitement and craziness, we forget the real “reason for the season.” The holidays are not about parties, or decorations, or Frosty the Snowperson. Those things are fun, but they are not the true purpose of the holidays. The true purpose of the holidays is to purchase consumer electronics.

    So you should go check it out, knowing that any purchase you make is "backed by our Personal Gift Guide Guarantee, as follows: If you purchase one of these items and for any reason are not completely satisfied, you have our personal guarantee that there is nothing that we, personally, can do about it."

    Pictured at right—no, your right—is one of the items, available at Amazon: the Cat Lady Action Figure. What youngster wouldn't want one?

  • As a longtime employee of the University Near Here, I sometimes run across articles that do a particularly good job of capturing some of that special atmosphere that is American Higher Education today. And so let me share with you: "How Academia Resembles a Drug Gang".

    Specifically, both operations have come to rely on a mass of poorly-paid, disrespected minions (low-level drug runners/adjunct faculty), doing the unpleasant scutwork that the elite members (drug lords/tenured faculty) would prefer to avoid. In both cases, the minions put up with their lousy positions in the hope they'll break into the upper echelons someday. And in both cases, the probability of that happening is low.

  • Although I think Tom Zhang, currently a mere "lecturer" here in math, has a pretty good shot at tenure, if he wants it.

  • Although I (and Professor Greg Mankiw) didn't think much of Pope Francis's recent apostolic exhortation, in the interest of equal time, you might want to check out James Pethokoukis's attempted defense at the NR site. And you might also check out this article by Kate O'Hare at Breitbart, which at least raises the possibility that we may have been misled by lefty translators of the document into English.


Last Modified 2014-03-05 5:15 AM EST

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Mrs. Salad and I ventured out to an actual movie theater to catch this. The IMDB raters (as I type) have this plugged at number 223 on the Top 250 movies of all times. I liked it, but please: not that much. I find myself asking: what movie did it bump out of the list?

Set (duh) after the first movie, our heroine Katniss is trying to get back to some form of normal life in good old District 12. Her family's living quarters have been upgraded from "hovel" to "ramshackle house". But she's psychologically haunted by her Games experience. Worse, her heroics with partner Peta have turned her into a symbol of individual defiance against the state. That, of course, worries the Powers that Be, who turn to increasingly brutal means to stomp out any hint of rebellion.

Evil President Snow hatches a scheme to discredit Katniss and cement his rule. This involves putting Katniss and Peta back in the arena, fighting once more against hopeless odds.

One problem with the movie, if I may quibble: this all takes an incredibly long time to set up, and nothing all that interesting happens during that period.

Also, a matter I discussed with Mrs. Salad afterward: there's a Shocking Plot Twist at the end, and (without spoiling things too much) its revelation seemed to make the entire rest of the movie kind of a cheat.

Anyway, I followed it better than Larry King:

[larry king on hunger games]