Damn it Reagan

[via I Love Charts]

Kevin Arnold approves of this cartoon.

[via Brent Abousko]

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September 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Comics. Leave a comment.

Greetings from North Korea

Crazy interview with an American guy who visited North Korea.

Everywhere you go in Pyongyang, the skyline is dominated by a huge 105-story concrete pyramid, the Ryugyong Hotel, which looms over the city like the pyramid-shaped Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984. It was intended to be the world’s tallest hotel, but it turned out to be structurally unsound, so it was never completed. It’s been standing there, abandoned, since 1992. It doesn’t appear on any official maps, and nobody ever talks about it, because it’s such a horrendous embarrassment.

The most memorable thing about Pyongyang, though, is the total darkness that descends at night. Because electricity is in short supply, there are hardly any lights at all — a couple of bulbs here and there, and the headlights of passing buses. People are out and about, but all you can see are the dark shapes right beside you. Back at the hotel, you look out the window and there’s just nothing. It’s like the whole city was just swallowed up.

[…]

We visited a kindergarten in Rason to watch a performance by the schoolchildren. While we were waiting for it to start, we had a look around. On one of the walls was a painting from a popular North Korean cartoon series showing a cute forest animal hunched behind a machine gun blasting away at his enemies. Some of the children’s drawings were posted on another wall in the hallway. One showed a North Korean tank running over enemy soldiers, and another showed a North Korean jet shooting down enemy planes. Next to them were typical childhood drawings of balloons, birds, and bunny rabbits. The contrast kind of twisted your gut.

The rest is plenty weird and tragic.

[Christina Larson @ Foreign Policy via the Browser]

[image via Dear Leader]

September 29, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 2 comments.

Who Do I Punch?

[via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal]

September 29, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Comics. Leave a comment.

Know Your Rights

Some Jedi mind tricks at play.

Bonus: The Clash – Know Your Rights

[via Paul @ Knife Tricks]

September 24, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

A Hundred Cakes for Your Birthday

The cake is a lie.

[via Drew Toothpaste @ Superpoop]

September 17, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Comics. Leave a comment.

Spy Goats

Old buddy Sarah came across this photo series:

She wrote,

“They would step down on the pillar to pee, then back up to the ledge to hang out. They were stuck for 2 days! Poor dumb goats.”

Dumb goats, Sarah? Seems like they’re pretty clever spies to me.

[Yahoo! News via personal communication with Sarah Manthei]

September 7, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Funny. 1 comment.

The Smoke Ring

The misconception: America’s marijuana laws are draconian compared to the Netherlands, whose citizens can sell and smoke weed all day, errday.

Not so.

Sure, there are Amsterdam shops that sell to both tourists and natives, but they’re operating illegally under the auspices of “tolerance.” To avoid incredible financial penalties, they must maintain a small inventory, they can’t sell much to any one person, they can’t post ingredients, they can’t sell to minors, the list of rules goes on.

If you don’t nail a perfect gram on the first chop, you have to make the weight by laboriously shaving brown flour into the scale pan while the customer volubly wonders who let this fumbling idiot behind the bar. Compounding my professional stress is the computerized inventory system, which, as a prophylactic against embezzlement, is finely tuned to track near-atomic quantities of product that might go missing. (For example, the system builds in a standard deduction for the sticky crumbs of hash residue that cling to the edge of the kitchen knife.) It’s like working at a Starbucks where the customers are cranky zombies, where a latte costs fifty bucks, and where a stray speck of coffee grounds falling underfoot will probably mean an ass-chewing from your superintimidating manager.

We may not have as tolerant a government on this side of the pond, but our slow path towards semi-legalization leads to a more concrete destination.

Conversely, America, via the sturdier Trojan horse of medical marijuana, looks poised to chart a wiser course, through policies that more closely resemble full legalization than “tolerance.” While Dutch dollars still flow to Baltic thugs, states like Michigan license small-time growers to provide for certified “patients.” American legalization would also almost certainly include FDA regulation and chemical analysis of the product for sale. […]

By liberating cannabis from the symbolic company of heroin, cocaine, and Ecstasy and grafting it to the sympathetic litany of “glaucoma, cancer, and AIDS,” America’s cannabis activists have, by all appearances, begun extending marijuana’s roots into the culture to depths undreamed by the Dutch. At the start of 2010, Los Angeles alone had nearly as many dispensaries as Holland has shops, one of the reasons that Dutch weed professionals sound like Dust Bowl Okies when they talk about California and the other markets emerging in the United States.

Interesting article throughout. Told from the perspective of a journalist who had to work at an Amsterdam marijuana coffee shop for a week.

[Wells Tower @ GQ via the Browser]

UPDATE. Highly relevant scene from Pulp Fiction:

Thanks Kottke.

[image via SBS film]

September 6, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 3 comments.

Bad Churchill

Turns out (the great) Winston Churchill was a bit of an imperialist murderer.

He gladly took part in raids that laid waste to whole valleys, writing: “We proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation.” He then sped off to help reconquer the Sudan, where he bragged that he personally shot at least three “savages.”

Obama apparently kind of hates the guy. For good reason too.

George W. Bush left a big growling bust of Churchill near his desk in the White House, in an attempt to associate himself with Churchill’s heroic stand against fascism. Barack Obama had it returned to Britain. It’s not hard to guess why: his Kenyan grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was imprisoned without trial for two years and tortured on Churchill’s watch, for resisting Churchill’s empire.

Obviously, dude wasn’t all bad. Hitler repulsed him for good reason.

He may have been a thug, but he knew a greater thug when he saw one — and we may owe our freedom today to this wrinkle in history.

[Johann Hari @ the New York Times via the Browser]

[image via solarnavigator]

September 1, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. Leave a comment.

Liberal vs. Conservative Morality

Never mind that Vice-president of the Cato Institute gets his salary from some of the most dastardly people alive.  He’s a bit of an articulate genius.  While discussing five important books, he shares the following insight regarding morality:

When liberals talk about morality they are almost always talking about two different basic intuitions – intuitions about harm and care. That is, we don’t want people to be harmed and we want to care for people when they are hurting. Also, fairness and reciprocity: we want things to be fair, we want like cases to be treated alike. This is the basic liberal morality – whether it is libertarian morality or modern liberal morality, those are the buttons that get pushed that activate a liberal sense of moral outrage. But there are other moral buttons in the human moral imagination that liberals don’t pay much attention to that are still very present and lively and salient in the conservative moral imagination. Those are what Haidt calls the authority foundation, the in-group, out-group foundation and the sacreds versus disgust foundation. Authority is the sense of hierarchy and the sense that everything should be in its proper place. The leaders should lead and the followers should follow, people should know their station in life. The in-group out-group is just the solidarity of the tribe – that the key distinction is between us and them.

Nationalism, forms of patriotism, that kind of thing?

Yes. Then there is the perception of the world as divided between the sacred and the profane: a sense of elevation and holiness about some things and a sense of revulsion about others, which, in conservatism, often comes down to issues of sex. We see that very much in the conservative freak-out over gay marriage: it’s just disgusting and it’s soiling the sacred institution of marriage. When liberals hear conservatives vaunting authority or being patriotic or nationalistic or being homophobic they think that’s not a moral reaction at all, they’re just being Neanderthals. Haidt says no, they are being moral, they have a moral imagination. It’s just a different one from what you have and it’s actually one that has much more in common with how people thought morally for a long, long time. I think that’s right – in the current setting the moral buttons that get pushed for conservatives are different from the ones that get pushed for liberals. But the fact is that those other three foundations of morality are more traditional, more old-fashioned and are under constant attack by the social forces that are shaping the contemporary world.

And are not going away anytime soon.

And they’re not going away anytime soon at all.

[Brink Lindsey @ Five Books via the Browser]

[image via Uba Kontrovasie]

August 29, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 2 comments.

Soak the Rich

Our tax system is silly.

[…] someone making two hundred thousand dollars a year and someone making two hundred million dollars a year pay at similar tax rates. LeBron James and LeBron James’s dentist: same difference.

The solution proposed here seems simple enough. Get more complicated.

This is one case where simpler isn’t better. In a society that’s becoming more stratified, a sensible tax system should draw more distinctions, not fewer.

Read more:

[James Surowiecki @ the New Yorker via the Browser]

August 28, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Reading. Leave a comment.

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