Snarky Behavior

Entries categorized as ‘Uncategorized’

On…Stuff Asian People Like

April 2, 2008 · Leave a Comment

G-chat discussion on Stuff Asian People Like:

xxx: sadly this is not as well written as stuff white ppl like

probably bc english is the second language here
if it were written in math it would be better
or javascript
xxx: totally
or written as a physics theory
is that even a thing?
i’m a bad asian
As long as we’re ironically treating ethnic stereo-types, it should be mentioned that this idea, while comically brilliant, has honestly been pretty poorly executed.  That’s the compromise of the low entry barriers to publishing on the internet, I suppose.  Read more on that discussion here.

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I didn’t realize our legislative capital was Las Vegas…

March 8, 2008 · Leave a Comment

Via AP:

“It’s harder and harder trying to do the Lord’s work in the city of Satan.”

–John McCain

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Unquestionably the Best Blog I’ve Ever Seen

February 15, 2008 · Leave a Comment

Stuff White People Like

It’s scary accurate.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2008 · 1 Comment

You fucking broke it
I grew out of my emo phase circa 2002, but this image gets me every time.
Love has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.  On the bright side, I’ve got 99 problems… Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Thoughts on Cloverfield

February 7, 2008 · Leave a Comment

1.) It was eerie watching this movie at Lincoln Center. I got the distinct impression that the New York audience was uneasy watching its city get dismantled. The cause of the destruction may have been sufficiently far-fetched to distance the plot from 9/11, but the visceral reminders of concrete clouds billowing through the streets made my stomach churn. The Blair-Witch style cinematography and embarrassingly written dialog didn’t help.

2.)  I “experienced” 9/11 remotely in Los Angeles… as did Director Matt Reeves. For us, it wasn’t a lived experience. It was an imagined experience. That is, we could only imagine the terror and panic that accompanied the collapse of those enormous towers.

Now that I’m a New Yorker, I didn’t like seeing what an emergency evacuation of Manhattan might look like. I didn’t like watching the Empire State Building collapse, or the Brooklyn Bridge snap in two. I can understand the entertainment value to someone in the mid-west, or even the appeal abroad. But as a New Yorker, the whole Godzilla genre seems like it cashes in on a deeply perverted, recessed desire to see retribution enacted on what is portrayed or otherwise understood to be American “hedonism,” as embodied by the financial capital of the world.

This seems like the same destructive fascination that motivated Nero to allow Rome to burn, or me to introduce Earthquakes in SimCity.

3.)  I’ve written before about how shallow the Hollywood imagination has become when it comes to conceptualizing potential enemies to the American superpower. Most 4th of July movies involve “War of the Worlds” type scenarios where our destruction comes at the hand of extraterrestrial forces.  This tendency is boring, unimaginative, and dumb.  And, as my Italian friend points out, “it’s amazing what you Americans will think of to justify your military spending.”

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Better Than Any Rec Letter

January 17, 2008 · 1 Comment

E-Mail from my old boss:

Subject:  Enjoy

Jon should teach history class like this.

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The Power to Change

January 13, 2008 · 6 Comments

With all of the attention being paid to the presidential elections, it is easy to be misled into thinking that big problems can be solved by big institutions.

The reality is that the majority of problems that we face as Americans (an as human beings) are the result of individual decisions played out in the aggregate.  As Kant observes, the fundamental flaw of human nature, from which all other flaws flow, is the tendency of the individual to make exceptions for himself to rules (or norms) he expects others to observe.

We suffer collectively because we recognize that the efforts of a single individual to reform is insignificant if the masses do not also follow suit.  Many times, we become so pessimistic of others that we lower our expectations of ourselves.  We then put our hopes in large, sweeping, institutional efforts.

The game theory behind these rationales justify a status quo that is unacceptable.  It absolves the individual from personal responsibility to do what he or she can to make the world better.

Part of the reason I blog (I think) is that I like to believe that individual actors who are not yet embedded into institutional systems of power still have the capacity to drive progressive change by pushing forward normative arguments.
Our “spheres of influence” may be small, but opinions and attitudes are shaped based on the ties of interpersonal relationships.  The stronger the bond, the more pervasive the idea.  When integrated within established social networks, good ideas can spread like wildfire.

My (re)commitment to this blog, and to myself, is to act as an agent of change.  I want to identify and discuss problems that I can play a part in resolving, in my own small way.  I want to be an optimist of myself, because in the end I’m the only person I have direct influence over.

For me, this is the nuanced definition of “change” that Obama represents.  His soaring rhetoric asks us to raise our expectations of ourselves.  He carries Kennedy’s “Ask Not” torch into the new century.

There are too many people waiting for him to fail, to not be able to deliver on what he promises.

But hope and inspiration in politics are much like consumer confidence in economics.  If the consumer believes there will be a recession, he will stop spending, and there will be a recession.  It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If the voter believes our country holds the capacity to do better, he will act better.  And we will DO better, collectively, as a result.

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It’s Time for a 21st Century Theory of International Relations

December 18, 2007 · 5 Comments

Last Monday’s lecture in my Conceptual Foundations of International Politics class was taught by Professor Jeffry Sachs.  He is a cheerleader and an optimist and certainly has some ideas worth listening to.

One of the things Sachs spoke to that I really had been waiting to hear all semester is that “it’s time for a 21st Century Theory of International Relations.”  It’s so true.

When historians are evaluating the Bush legacy, and America’s history at the turn of the century, they will be harsh not for any specific policy decisions undertaken, but the principles under which those decisions were made.  And the principle that will be criticized most harshly will not be the naive presupposition that democracy can be exported by force.  It will be the more dangerous assumption that our global society can be managed unilaterally.

Think of it this way:  when you see advertisements today like the following:


You are somewhat appalled (or ironically amused) by the quaint anachronism implied by the advertisement.  This is because we’ve redefined cultural norms of a woman’s role in society.  We’ve read the Feminine Mystique, we’ve experienced a cultural “movement” to the extent that such previously established cultural norms now seem dangerously retrograde and unsophisticated.

Now consider the following:  In a 2004 article for the New York Times Magazine, Ron Suskind interviewed an aide to the Bush White House:

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

It’s only been 3 years(!) and this quote ALREADY seems out of touch (with the reality they’ve created!)   The only thing that remains true from this quote is that solutions have, and will always emerge from the judicious study of discernible reality.  Empires create problems that empires cannot solve.  And problems exist outside of the control of empire, which is why empires inevitably dissolve, either by overreach, or overreaction.

We need a 21st century of international relations that teaches those Americans in power that a unilateral American empire is an unsustainable reality.

We need a theory that is based on the discernible realities of the problems we face in the 21st century, that are far different from the problems of the 17th, 18th, 19th and even the 20th century.

We need a theory that recognizes that a liberalized, open, global economy is the new reality for all of the world, and states must adapt accordingly or suffer the consequences of adhering to “quaint anachronisms.”

We need a theory that recognizes that the world is adding 90 million people per year, that we might already be at carrying capacity, that we are on the possible brink of a Malthusian catastrophe.

We need a theory that recognizes what  Jared Diamond teaches: that societies which destroy their own resources destroy themselves, and that today we are a de facto global society sharing global resources.

We need a theory that  stops relying on a theories of balance of power between states, and one that looks at non-state actors.  One that studies asymmetric gaps in capacities, instead of evaluating the capabilities of a single country.  One that redefines the idea of sovereignty, that universalizes the principles of human rights, that establishes and regulates the norms of global capitalism.

In the 21st century, it makes more sense to look at the galactic federations of science fiction than it does to look backward at the Holy Roman Empire.  And we have the capacities of reason, of predictive forecasting, of logic, and of history to guide us.  What we lack is the political leadership, and a progressive , normative, academic consensus.  So get on it people.

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Can’t Find a Mate? Kill Yourself.

December 8, 2007 · Leave a Comment

No really.  According to Psychology Today, most suicide bombers are Muslim because Islam tolerates polygny (multiple mates).  “By allowing some men to monopolize all women and altogether excluding many men from reproductive opportunities, polygyny creates shortages of available women. If 50 percent of men have two wives each, then the other 50 percent don’t get any wives at all.  So polygny increases competitive pressure on men, especially young men of low status… to resort to violent means to gain access to mates. [...]  The promise of 72 virgins waiting in heaven for any martyr … is quite appealing to anyone who faces the bleak reality on earth of being a complete reproductive loser.

I realize that most people don’t frame their existential crises in evolutionary terms (i.e. reproductive capacity), but how does the promise of 72 virgins resolve the reality that you’re never going to sow your seed on earth?

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Jane Goodall on The Environment and Overpopulation

November 29, 2007 · 1 Comment

Jane Goodall’s the best. FORA.TV is great too, check out some of their videos on youtube.

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