Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kim Jong Il is dead

As you've probably noticed, I don't really blog over here very much but I have a big post up at my podcast's website,, about the death of Kim Jong Il. If you're interested, read it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Best NFL helmets

Looks like ESPN has ranked the top NFL helmets. Steelers and Colts are 1 and 2, according to them.

Apart from inexplicably putting the Dolphins in the top 10 and leaving off the Rams, who invented the helmet logo, for goodness sake, it's a pretty good list. And it inspired me to make my own. This list is below. This is harder than my previous NFL uniforms list because no NFL team has a truly bad helmet design at this point. Even the Bills, who I rank lowest because of their annoying multi-shade-of-blue thing, have pretty cool helmets. But once again, you'll see that I have a preference for the classic old-school look, as well as helmets of distinction (eg. Steelers' logo only on one side, the Eagles' wings, the Rams' horns). Heeere's my list:

1. Steelers
2. Colts
3. Raiders
4. Packers
5. Rams (they were better with blue and yellow, not blue and gold)
6. Chargers (would rank higher if they went to the old 60s helmets with the numbers on them)
7. Browns
8. Eagles
9. Bears
10. Cowboys
11. Giants
12. Vikings (would rank higher if I didn't spend most of my childhood trying to figure out what the heck their logo was)
13. Saints
14. Bucs
15. Jets
16. Broncos
17. Redskins
18. Bengals
19. Dolphins
20. 49ers
21. Titans
22. Lions
23. Ravens
24. Patriots
25. Panthers
26. Jaguars
27. Texans
28. Cardinals
29. Chiefs
30. Seahawks
31. Falcons
32. Bills (will jump in the rankings as soon as they get rid of the horrible 3-shades-of-blue thing they've currently got going)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I saw Sucker Punch

Definitely, it's the best music video I've seen since "Hypnotize" by the Notorious B.I.G. Wait, you're telling me Sucker Punch wasn't a music video and was actually supposed to be a movie? But movies, they have... plot. Dialogue. Characters. Sometimes they have character development. And... acting. And Sucker Punch didn't have any of these things. It was like Bizarro Inception.

But as a music video, it's kickass and top notch.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What to call Africa's newest country

UNITED NATIONS - Today's Security Council meeting on Sudan highlights the remarkably peaceful referendum on independence that southern Sudan just completed. While much remains to be done, a peaceful transition now seems a likely outcome, something unthinkable even a few months ago.

That said, a serious problem remains: what to call the new country. According to U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice today, the nation will be called the Republic of Southern Sudan. Does anyone else find this a rather blase name? Really, you don't get to be a new nation every day. Put the past behind you. Don't define yourself by the nation you were once a part of. And most of all, be creative!

Here are some helpful suggestions for the nascent state:

Option 1: North Sudan becomes Nubia (the historical Nubian kingdoms were in northern Sudan and southern Egypt), while south Sudan gets the "Sudan" moniker. And most of the oil.

Option 2: Go with the "the." It's like the Justin Timberlake scene in The Social Network, in reverse. "The Sudan" seems cooler somehow, albeit a bit more colonial, than just "Sudan."

Option 3: A long, specific and optimistic list of all the things your country will most likely not be. Eg. Shiny Happy Democratic People's Free and Independent United Sovereign Multinational Republic of Southern Sudan. A name that all but guarantees failed statehood.

Option 4: Democratic Republic of Sudan. So that generations of American schoolchildren can be even more perplexed in geography class than they were already. The Congos already do this, so why not you?

Option 5: Guarantee war with the North by either including the words "and Abyei" in the title of your country (eg. Shiny Happy Democratic People's Free and Independent United Sovereign Multinational Republic of Southern Sudan and Abyei) or, better, have a map of your country with the disputed region included on your flag. Kosovo did the latter with Mitrovica even though Mitrovica is 90% ethnic Serbs, and nobody's called them on it yet.

Option 6: To borrow from Gregg Easterbrook's solution for the Macedonian name issue, you should really call yourselves "The Greatest Country In History." The tourism ads just write themselves.

Update: Looks like Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy already sorta beat me to it on this topic.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sewage backup delays UN meetings

The UN's many critics who have called it a septic tank of corruption and incompetence were vindicated this morning, when UN meetings were postponed and the UN was partially evacuated as suspicious smells of methane and sulfur were reported. (The UN smelling of sulfur... didn't Hugo Chavez have something to say about this? Should we all cross ourselves?)

According to the UN Spokesperson's office, FDNY and hazardous material experts were brought in and determined that high tides in the East River had created a sewage problem by backing up the pipes. Gases were released from the sewage backup but were deemed not hazardous. Press were allowed back into their offices around 11:30 a.m.

So basically, the UN smells like shit.

Sidenote 1: The UN declined to speculate if the lunar eclipse had anything to do with the tides.
Sidenote 2: The UN declined to say if its sewage system was pumping directly into the river.
Sidenote 3: The UN declined to say if this had anything to do with construction or methane leaks caused by the Capital Master Plan, the UN's ongoing renovation of its own building.
Sidenote 4: The UN announced that tours will be resumed. Now the general public too can come smell the United Nations.
Sidenote 5: The United States had meticulously organized a UN "youth day" where children and teenagers would submit comments to the Security Council and participate in a Security Council open meeting. That meeting has been moved to the Economic and Social Council chamber in the North Lawn Building and is not being telecast. As a result, no one will cover this and a generation of international kids will remember the day they came to the UN and were evacuated by the smell of shit. I rather think they will all become neocons, no?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

UN Women and hypocrisy

Today the UN member states voted to decide which countries should serve on the board of the new UN Entity on Women. Note the use of the word "entity." The member states could not agree whether the new body should actually do anything, so heaven forbid it be called an "agency" because it might have, you know, agency. So it is an "entity." It exists. Whether it does anything else is an open question.

So Iran, for some reason, decided that it wanted to be on the board. Why Iran did this I do not know. It's like being the unpopular kid in school and writing a sign that says "kick me!" on your own back, just to make a point. Naturally, the West jumps on the opportunity. Days before the vote, they nudge tiny Timor-Leste into running against Iran for the last remaining seat on the board. (Stop me when this sounds like your middle school student government. What, it already does? Yeah, mine too.)

Western nations then browbeat, bribe and cajole every undecided country into swinging against the Iranians (footnote: I'm not kidding about the bribes. On voting day every delegation found a nice brown package of I-don't-know-what in red-white-and-blue ribbon on their desk. This is standard UN procedure, here.) In the end, little Timor-Leste — which barely even has a government — wins going away. Afterward, US Ambassador Susan Rice smugly speaks of how Iran was defeated, "and defeated handily."

Why is this hypocrisy? Because here are the countries that got elected unopposed, with no complaint or opprobrium by anyone:
- Libya, where women can technically own property but in practice don't, and where Muammar Qadaffi is escorted about by a phalanx of all-female bodyguards
- Saudi Arabia, ranked second to last among 93 countries on the Gender Empowerment Index, a country where women still aren't allowed to drive cars or go anywhere without a male family member escort
- Democratic Republic of Congo, where pretty much everybody — government soldiers, ethnic rebels, foreign militias, even the occasional UN peacekeeper — uses rape as a weapon of war. Three months before the vote, several hundred women were systematically raped in a 24 hour rampage in the country's lawless east and the UN didn't even find out about it for a fortnight. Five DAYS before the vote, the mass rape of over 600 women on the Angolan border was uncovered.

Rice, asked to explain why the Congolese and the Saudis got a free pass, said "I am not going to deny that there were several countries that are going to join the board of U.N. Women that have less than stellar records on women's rights, and indeed human rights."

Fair enough, Ambassador. Iran getting on the UN Women board would have been ridiculous. But DR Congo getting on was an atrocity.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Did Than Shwe's astrologer predict this one?

What is it with Myanmar getting leveled by horrendous cyclones right before shame elections? We all remember Cyclone Nargis (see all my "Burma and the Death of Responsibility To Protect" posts from a while back) striking right before the vote on the new constitution, but now category 4 cylone Giri has hit the country barely a week before its sham democratic election.

I blame the new flag.

Speaking of elections, I'm off to vote now myself. And you should do the same.