Archive for July 2011

Penn & Teller = Awesome

Just saw the libertarian magicians Penn and Teller at the Rio in Las Vegas and they were excellent in more ways than one.  In terms of libertarianism, they touched upon the Bill of Rights, the overbearing role of the government, TSA scanners, and religious extremists.  They were also healthily skeptical and educated the audiences about some of the crocks of the “magic” industry.  And even as they debunked a lot of “magic”, their own magic tricks stumped and wowed everyone in the audience.  Items found in their tricks were (but definitely not limited to): fish, guns, flowers, thread, and a huge buzz saw.  So in honor of their wit, skill, and talent for entertaining, I have left everyone with one of the best Penn & Teller videos of all time that encompasses all of their general  quirky greatness.  The video can be found here.

The Next Book I Plan on Reading…

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea gives the reader an inside look at six people inside of North Korea and how they are affected by the repressive regime everyday.  Barbara Demick’s book has been compared by some reviewers to  Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.   Cheery thought.  I expect that this book will be insightful and will open the eyes of many to the daily plight of living in an Orwellian system.  It will be very interesting to learn about the real life Oceania and the terror and demands it puts upon its subjugated citizens.

Ayn Rand Essay Contest Submission

This is my essay that I wrote about for the Ayn Rand Essay Contest concerning The Fountainhead.  Th essay prompt (1 of 3) was to write about one’s most meaninful scene from the book and how it applies to the wider themes of Rand’s writings in the book.  Enjoy the essay and by the way, the website for the contest is here.

I sit in the rear of the lecture hall, patient and quietly attentive.  I am joined by about fifty of my academic peers, like-minded, high-achieving students who have come to this prestigious university in order both to learn about the school’s academic program and to show said university that they visited and are interested in the school.  We all listen to the woman from the admissions office, who to us is a deity, a monumentally important figure whom we must do the best to please.  Because if she remembers us, then we are one step closer to our goal of admission into one of the nation’s most elite colleges.  And if we can attend this college, then we will have their name next to ours, their esteemed letters that represent respectability and repute and guarantee success.

However as the information session wears on I begin to consider if this idealistic dream that my adolescent fellows and I hold is actually the reality.  I start to watch the haggard and concerned parents who sit protectively next to their teenager and occasionally prod them as if to force an intellectual-sounding question out of them.  I wonder how many of these students actually want to be there so that they can personally better themselves and how many are there because they are products of their parents’ vicarious interests or cultural pressure stemming from the exalted standing of the school.  How many of these students will go into debt once they attend these institutions and then later find themselves channeled into lives they do not really want? I  then ask myself if I am really here for the right reasons?  Am I truly enamored with this school and the many academic and extracurricular possibilities it has to offer?  Or am I simply here because of the societal  view of the school’s prestige and cachet, and instead, would I be better off doing something outside of a university that would both further my own personal pursuit of excellence and increase my own enjoyment?

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A Typical Day in the Life of a North Korean Teenager

This is a short story I wrote about a  North Korean teenager and one of his many dreary days.  If I may be so bold, I do particularly like the ending as I feel that it really encompasses the daily cyclical grind of hopelessness in North Korea. You can find the story here.  Please enjoy!

More North Korean Soccer Fun

According to ESPN, five North Korean soccer players tested positive for steroids at the Women’s World Cup.  Hilariously, their coach said that the steroids were accidentally taken in combination with traditional Chinese medicine based on musk deer glands.  The reason for the medicine?  They got struck by lightning of course.  You can find the beautifully enriching story here.

My Little Serenity

The semi-libertarian, semi-cowboy, all awesome show Firefly (unfortunately cancelled by Fox) and its subsequent movie, Serenity, are one of my favorite works of television/film of all time and I just could not pass up sharing this brilliant piece of work with everyone.  Someone actually combined My Little Pony and Firefly/Serenity into a video “trailer”.  And it works.  Beautifully.  Never in my life did I believe that those lovable, rainbow cartoon ponies could be so incredibly cool.  Here is the video of the legendary mix, courtesy of ology.com.

Yes.

And even more yes.

Interesting Conundrum

The American company Cisco has decided to build a system of 500,000 surveillance cameras in order to “help reduce crime”.  Almost undoubtedly, China will use these cameras to spy on its citizens and infringe upon their civil rights (an action that the Chinese government is very, very good at).  However, I would be almost as disappointed if Cisco was banned from selling these  cameras to China because free trade in all senses of the words is almost always beneficial.  Personally, I would be a little more in tune with my moral code if I was the head of this company, but hey money talks.  You can find the article describing the situation here.

Awesome…

Just for anyone that didn’t know, KCNA (which is the Korean Central News Agency) has for the last 13 odd years kindly translated Korean news into English so that we Americans can be wowed and amazed by the technological ingenuity, intellectual sophistication, and cultural diversity of the North Korean government and people.  The reports and stories are usually false and often hilarious, but their use of descriptive adjectives to describe the greatness of Kim Jong-il is second to none.  Just an interesting inside look at the North Korean propaganda machine.  You can find the home page of this North Korean Ministry of Truth here.

All good here.