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Bryan Preston

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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Gamers, NSA Has Been Spying On You and Your Magical, Virtual Gun-Toting Friends

Monday, December 9th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston
Griefer

The NSA: Gaming for America.

More Edward Snowden documents have come out, and as usual, they paint a picture of a government that is simply spying on everyone, everywhere, all the time.

Stories carried Monday by The New York Times, the Guardian, and ProPublica said U.S. and U.K. spies have spent years trawling online games for terrorists or informants. The stories, based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, offer an unusual take on America’s world-spanning surveillance campaign, suggesting that even the fantasy worlds popular with children, teens, and escapists of all ages aren’t beyond the attention of the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ.

Virtual universes like “World of Warcraft” can be massively popular, drawing in millions of players who log months’ worth of real-world time competing with other players for online glory, virtual treasure, and magical loot. At its height, “World of Warcraft” boasted some 12 million paying subscribers, more than the population of Greece. Other virtual worlds, like Linden Labs’ “Second Life” or the various games hosted by Microsoft’s Xbox _ home to the popular science fiction-themed shoot-em-up “Halo” _ host millions more.

Spy agencies have long worried that such games serve as a good cover for terrorists or other evildoers who could use in-game messaging systems to swap information. In one of the documents cited Monday by media outlets, the NSA warned that the games could give intelligence targets a place to “hide in plain sight.”

So the suspiciously good 13-year-old who owns you at “League of Legends” isn’t the worst you have to worry about online? That sexy elven warrior you’ve been questing with isn’t just probably a guy. It may be a spy.

The companies involved swear that they had no knowledge that G-Men were all up in their online games. Microsoft says it’s going to see about locking the government out of X-Box Live.

I’m for NSA doing its thing when and where it’s warranted, but is there a single documented case of terrorists meeting up in “Second Life” to plot attacks? Or WoW or any other game space? And what kind of “virtual weapons training” can one really conduct in “Halo” or “Star Wars: The Old Republic?” One? Anywhere?

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Cross-posted from PJ Tatler

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In-N-Out Burger Joins Five Guys, Battles Local Favorites in Austin’s Rapidly Escalating Burger War

Friday, December 6th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Begun, the Austin burger wars have.

So California-based In-N-Out Burger thinks it can invade Texas and push the indigenous and other national burger chains aside? Is that how it works?

World famous California hamburger chain In-N-Out Burger opened a new location in Round Rock Tuesday.

As the first location in Central Texas, the new In-N-Out will allow customers a much easier way to satisfy their addiction. Larry Sherwood said he’s been hooked on In-N-Out since his first bite in the 90s

”Now I don’t have to fly to L.A. or Dallas to get my In-N-Out fix,” he said.

Karen Brewster-Clanton moved here from California and said she’s been not-so-patiently waiting for In-N-Out ever since.

“I’ve been telling my job, my boss and everybody just, ‘Get ready – you’re going to taste the best burger in town,’” Brewster said.

I don’t know about that. It’s a grandiose claim. Can In-N-Out back it up?

The Austin area is home to some of the best local and national burger chains on the planet. We have everything that everyone else has, and which won’t be discussed here — McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, etc. etc. They’re not part of the burger wars and don’t rate an honorable mention here. They exist.

But we also have Mighty Fine, which always lives up to their name. We have P. Terry’s. They’re both local. We have Braum’s with their combination ice creamery-grocery store-burger joint thing. Well, we don’t have them in Austin, but we have them in Texas. We need them in Austin. We have recent entrant Fire Oak Grill. We have Moonie’s Burger House. We have Hat Creeks, though I have to confess that I haven’t visited one of them yet. That situation will be rectified soon. We have Whataburgers everywhere, and Sonics, which are ubiquitous across Texas and stretch out to fortunate states beyond, but they’re not quite national. We have Five Guys with their beautifully messy burgers and their peanut-oil fries. We have the gourment-treated Smash Burger. And now we have In-N-Out. Let burger lovers rejoice!

I’m a burger veteran. I started enjoying Five Guys back when I lived in Baltimore. I sampled In-N-Out on a trip to PJ Media World Headquarters in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. It was the In-N-Out close to LAX, so no one can claim that I didn’t get the authentic In-N-Out experience. I did. Mighty Fine, P. Terry’s, I’ve had ‘em all. I have my opinions on all of them. I have opinions on really obscure local joints like Burger Bros in Towson, MD. Burger Bros flat out rocks, by the way. I’ve had burgers in Tokyo, on the Champs Elysee in Paris, on Guam, in Alaska, too many places to name. I might have had a burger in Baghdad.

This conflagration in Austin is going to be a major war. In-N-Out is coming into one of the most contested theaters of burger battle in the world. Austin is weird, but it’s not stupid. We have it all here. We know what we like. We know what passes muster and what doesn’t. You can’t sell a weak burger here on brand name alone. We won’t stand for it.

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So, Who’s Ready for a Sky Full of Amazon Drones?

Monday, December 2nd, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

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60 Minutes previewed the future last night. Amazon is planning to use drone aircraft to enable 30-minute delivery of many products that we order online.

Charlie Rose: This is?

Jeff Bezos:…is…these are octocopters.

Charlie Rose: Yeah?

Jeff Bezos: These are effectively drones but there’s no reason that they can’t be used as delivery vehicles. Take a look up here so I can show you how it works.

Charlie Rose: All right. We’re talking about delivery here?

Jeff Bezos: We’re talking about delivery. There’s an item going into the vehicle. I know this looks like science fiction. It’s not.

Charlie Rose: Wow!

Jeff Bezos: This is early. This is still…years away. It drops the package.

Charlie Rose: And there’s the package.

Jeff Bezos: You come and get your package. And we can do half hour delivery.

Charlie Rose: Half hour delivery?

Jeff Bezos: Half hour delivery/and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds, which covers 86 percent of the items that we deliver.

Charlie Rose: And what is the range between the fulfillment center and where you can do this within…

Jeff Bezos: These…this…this…these gener…

Charlie Rose: 30 minutes?

Jeff Bezos: These generations of vehicles, it could be a 10-mile radius from a fulfillment center. So, in urban areas, you could actually cover very significant portions of the population. And so, it won’t work for everything; you know, we’re not gonna deliver kayaks or table saws this way. These are electric motors, so this is all electric; it’s very green, it’s better than driving trucks around. This is…this is all an R&D project.

Charlie Rose: With drones, there’s somebody sitting somewhere in front of a screen.

Jeff Bezos: Not these; these are autonomous. So you give ‘em instructions of which GPS coordinates to go to, and they take off and they fly to those GPS coordinates.

Charlie Rose: What’s the hardest challenge in making this happen?

Jeff Bezos: The hard part here is putting in all the redundancy, all the reliability, all the systems you need to say, ‘Look, this thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood’…

Charlie Rose doesn’t know what a drone is? Sheesh.

This idea seems cool until you think it through for a bit. Amazon’s drones will be eyesores in the air and electromagnets for lawyers when one of them goes haywire and crashes in someone’s yard or in the middle of a street or, heaven forbid, kills a guy. Human nature can be a nasty thing. Lawfare is strangling innovation in America. Watch octocopter-chasing lawyers have a heyday over Amazon’s drones and its fat wallet. Watch the newspaper Amazon owns defend whatever the company does. And watch environmentalists slow this whole thing down in court.

The hardest part technologically probably isn’t building in redundancy. The hardest part is making sure these things don’t become magnets for thieves (other than the aforementioned lawyers). Where you have valuable product moving, you have the potential for heists. These drones could and probably will become targets, especially if they’re in operation at night. So game that out, and Amazon will end up working with the FAA to either create sky lanes through which its drones will have special permission to travel, which would be protected either from the air or the ground against theft, or they’ll have to arm the drones with countermeasures.

When Amazon merges with Google to perfect the drones’ accuracy, it’s all heading toward SkyNet.
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Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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The NSA Collected Porn Data on ‘Radicalizers’ to Discredit Them

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

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Ed Snowden has leaked another trove of documents, and the Huffington Post is generating clicks with it. The upshot is that the NSA monitored the online activities of six people it characterizes as Islamist radicalizers. The NSA built up information on these Islamists’ porn habits, for the purpose of discrediting them.

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT” — or signals intelligence, the interception of communications — “assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.

None of this is especially new. The allies built up extensive profiles and dossiers on Hitler’s private and even sexual life during World War II, and I’m sure the axis did the same to allied leaders. The Soviets probably had great fun building up files on J. Edgar Hoover and JFK, among others. They didn’t really have to build up a file on Ted Kennedy. Once he left a woman to drown, there wasn’t much they could expose that would have cost him his Massachusetts Senate seat. Maybe they could have run an op outing him as a closet Republican or something, but he was much more useful to them as a senator.

An attached appendix lists the “argument” each surveillance target has made that the NSA says constitutes radicalism, as well the personal “vulnerabilities” the agency believes would leave the targets “open to credibility challenges” if exposed.

One target’s offending argument is that “Non-Muslims are a threat to Islam,” and a vulnerability listed against him is “online promiscuity.” Another target, a foreign citizen the NSA describes as a “respected academic,” holds the offending view that “offensive jihad is justified,” and his vulnerabilities are listed as “online promiscuity” and “publishes articles without checking facts.” A third targeted radical is described as a “well-known media celebrity” based in the Middle East who argues that “the U.S perpetrated the 9/11 attack.” Under vulnerabilities, he is said to lead “a glamorous lifestyle.” A fourth target, who argues that “the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks on itself” is said to be vulnerable to accusations of “deceitful use of funds.” The document expresses the hope that revealing damaging information about the individuals could undermine their perceived “devotion to the jihadist cause.”

The tactic of building up personal information on foreign enemies probably dates back, I don’t know, thousands of years. As long as humans have waged organized warfare. Sun Tzu would surely approve, and said as much when he wrote “Know your enemy.” We remain at war and we pay the NSA to conduct SIGINT on people who wish to harm Americans. That’s it’s job.

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So Katy Perry’s Grammy Performance Was Racist Now?

Friday, November 29th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

The Puffington Host is on the case. Because that’s what they do. They determine stories by their search engine optimization possibilities, run them through the “X is offensive because Y” macro, hit publish.

Katy Perry opened the American Music Awards on Sunday night dressed as a geisha while belting out her latest single “Unconditionally.”

Although the stage aesthetics and colorful attire were quite beautiful, Perry is being called racist for sexualizing a traditional Japanese female figure, who is paid to serve as a hostess and excels in the art of entertainment, reports The Huffington Post.

The opening act included cherry blossoms, a Shinto shrine and taiko drummers. Perry appeared on stage draped in a kimono along with several dozen dancers wearing the cultural garb. Shortly after her performance ended, though, the critics began sounding off.

Cosmopolitan.com led their coverage by asking ”Was Katy Perry’s AMAs performance racist?” but Vulture.com’s writer Jesse David Fox wasn’t so diplomatic in his approach. He compared her showing to other “racially tut-tutted” performances.

Whatever. The Grammys are among those boring awards show I only watch if I absolutely have to. There are approximately 3,720 better ways to spend one’s time than watching egos who mostly attack what I believe in stroke each other. In this case, I’m offended that people keep getting offended at everything. We’ve built cities and empires and come to this pinnacle of civilization, only to take offense at every single thing about it.

The only opinion I have about the actual show is that Katy Perry is the worst looking geisha in the history of geishas. I have some Japanese roots. This is awful.

perry-geisha

 

perry-geisha-2

 

I’ve seen better geishas on Halloween. I hope it’s not racist to say that Perry’s getup looks more like a clown costume than anything else.

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Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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The Most Controversial Voice Ever in in the History of Recorded Music, Steve Taylor, is Back. And He’d Better Behave. (UPDATE)

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Since I gave up hope of ever expecting to hear from Steve Taylor again, I felt a lot better. Because I blame Steve Taylor for pretty much everything.

Sure, I could blame myself for picking up his Meltdown record back in 1984. That was a fateful choice. But I was a kid. How was I to know how damaging that record would turn out to be?

Steve Taylor was already controversial back then. He had debuted in 1983 with a mini-LP (that was a thing in the 1980s, Google it), I Want to be a Clone, that made an awful lot of people mad at him. They had every right to be. In “Bad Rap” he seethed “You save the whales/You save the seals/You save whatever’s cute and squeals/But you kill that thing that’s in the womb/Would not want no baby boom.” Green Peace denounced it, but they couldn’t deny it. In the title song, he mocked “Be a clone and kiss conviction good night/Clone-liness is next to Godliness, right?/I’m grateful that they show the way ’cause I could never know the way/To serve Him on my own?/I want to be a clone!”

Then he did it again, in “I Manipulate.” There was pretty much no one and no issue that Steve Taylor wouldn’t write about. He’s arrogant like that.

To a 14-year-old Christian, Taylor’s mix of art, humor, rebellion, truth and nasal vocals was just too much to resist. “We Don’t Need No Colour Code” beat up on Bob Jones before it was a mainstream thing. The haunting “Hero” took the nice-boy notion of being something more than another corporate type and turned it all on its head. “Meltdown” burned the rich and famous long before the Kardashians showed up to beg for every thinking person’s derision.

Then, there was this hideous cover photo on CCM. It set the magazine publishing industry back 10 years. The music industry almost never recovered.

taylor-cover

Steve Taylor taught me that it was possible to be right with God and still have a healthy skepticism for those who claimed to speak for Him, and that it was possible to make a difference in one way or another. What a jerk. I’d probably be rich and own a Gulfstream if not for him.

Taylor’s entire career is littered with wickedness. He ripped amoral state-run education in “Lifeboat” decades before CSCOPE and Common Core showed up. He tore up celebrity cults in “Jim Morrison’s Grave.” Then he got lost in “Sock Heaven.” I followed him the whole time, and even saw him wear a bizarre confetti suit in concert once. But it’s all his fault.

The reason I started caring about issues more than just having a regular job? At least partly Steve Taylor’s fault. The reason I started wanting more from the artists I support than just a good back-beat I can badly dance to? Also partly Steve Taylor’s fault. My collection of Flannery O’ Connor books? His fault too. Have fun Googling that one. The two years I wasted in the Hindu Kush searching for the perfect backup band? Totally Steve Taylor’s fault. The money I blew on yodeling lessons because he made the Swiss mountain call rock star cool? Absolutely, 100% Steve Taylor’s fault. I’ll never forgive him. Neither will anyone who’s ever heard me yodel.

So now he’s at it again. After 20 years of producing hits like “Kiss Me” with Sixpence None the Richer, being the shadowy hand behind the Newsboys (yep, they’re both his fault) and making movies, Taylor is going to inflict himself on the music world again. And I’m ashamed to admit that I’ll be right there with him. I’m already backing his next album on Kickstarter. I can’t help myself. If you know what’s good for you, you won’t join in. But I’m living proof that people who like Steve Taylor never seem to know what’s good for them.

Update: I’m not sure yet who deserves the most blame, but they’ve made their goal. There WILL BE another Steve Taylor album.

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Video: Hookers for Obamacare!

Monday, November 25th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Well, they’re young and healthy (for now), and they’re independent contractors on the individual insurance market, so Obama needs them to sign up for Obamacare. And now, they can. Depending on how much income they report, you may be subsidizing them.

Maybe Obamacare is really Clintoncare.

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Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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Climate of Hate: Redskins Bus Egged on the Way to Game in Philly

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

When will Slate and other leftwing publications answer for the climate of anti-Redskins hate they have created?

PHILADELPHIA (CBSDC) — The Washington Redskins team bus was apparently egged on the way to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia Sunday morning.

Defensive lineman Chris Baker posted a photo of the egg smeared side of the vehicle on Instagram.

Hate: It’s what’s for breakfast.

redskins-bus-egged

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Cross-posted from PJ Tatler

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Oprah: Obama’s Opposition Is Racist, Just Needs to Die Already

Friday, November 15th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Right on cue. Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest women in America, but as President Obama finds himself drowning in his own disasters and dishonesty, Winfrey betrays America to a foreign media source.

“There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs,” Winfrey tells the BBC, “and occurs because in some cases, and maybe even many cases, because he’s African-American. There’s no question about that, and it’s the kind of thing that nobody ever says, but everybody’s thinking it.”

Actually, just about everyone on the left has used that smear at some point over the last five years, repeatedly and with glee. Including Oprah Winfrey.

Also, apparently George W. Bush is “African-American” too.

In the same interview, Winfrey also declared her desire for “old racists” to die.

“There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die,” she said.

I long for an America that stops making people who hate it fabulously wealthy.

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Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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Atheists Now Setting up Their Own ‘Mega-Churches’

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Atheist-Church

Yahoo needs to get something straight. In its report, it calls these new atheist gatherings “mega-churches.” But they’re not “mega” and they’re not churches.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Several hundred people, including families with small children, packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational talk and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.

Nearly three dozen gatherings dubbed “atheist mega-churches” by supporters and detractors have sprung up around the U.S. and Australia — with more to come — after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fueled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke.

They sing songs, they hear a sermon, they meet and greet. But it isn’t a church. It’s a club.

The word “church” has a specific meaning — it’s the body of believers in the global context and a Christian place of worship in this specific context. Just as a mosque is an Islamic place of worship.

Notice which word the atheists are attempting to steal and render meaningless. One, not the other.

“Mega-churches” are typically churches with thousands of members, some have tens of thousands. None of the clubs in Yahoo’s piece have anything close to that scale of membership. They’re all in the hundreds at most.

So they’re not mega, and they’re not churches.

The anti-churches are being set up both to mimic the authentic church, and to provide something that churches provide members.

“There was so much about it that I loved, but it’s a shame because at the heart of it, it’s something I don’t believe in,” Jones said. “If you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad. It’s singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?”

Sunday Assembly — whose motto is Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More — taps into that universe of people who left their faith but now miss the community church provided, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont.

As a Christian, this makes me sad. We’re wired to need and want community. But if you don’t believe in what the church is teaching, the few rituals that survive in the mega-church setting make no sense. Why take on the symbols of belief? Why go out of your way to mock those who do believe? Calling these clubs “churches” is an act of intolerance and aggression against believers.

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Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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CNN’s Crossfire is a Ratings Misfire

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

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CNN’s new Crossfire isn’t firing the cable news network to the top of the ratings, says Deadline Hollywood.

Resuscitated on September 9 after eight years off the air, the political debate show pulled in just 233,00 viewers overall and a mere 59,000 among adults 25-54 between 6:30 PM and 7 PM on Monday. Full-hour time-slot rivals on Fox News Channel and MSNBC did a lot better — to put it mildly. FNC’s Special Report had 2.44 million viewers with 411,000 in the key news demo, while MSNBC’s Al Sharpton-hosted PoliticsNation had 707,000 total viewers and 170,000 among the 25-54s.

The younger political animal me used to watch Crossfire every chance I could. I admired the platform itself and the figures who engaged each other, whether I agreed with what they were saying or not. Well, other than Mike Kinsley, who mostly just made my skin crawl. It seemed like a healthy place for real debate, when so much of political debate is staged and phony, just set up for gotchas and soundbites, only occasionally and accidentally engaging in real ideas.

But I haven’t tuned into the new Crossfire, not even once. Not even just to check it out.

When Crossfire debuted, there were very few other places to find conservative opinions on the air outside the Sunday morning talk shows, which air when most Americans are just not interested in politics. We’re at church or off at sports or sleeping in or doing a million things other than watching strangers argue about arcana. 

Crossfire succeeded, to the extent that it did, in a different cable news universe. When it debuted, political debate on television wasn’t all that common. Now it’s ubiquitous to the point that even those of us who engage in it every day just want to turn it all off sometimes. I can only imagine what normal people must think. Arguments do make for compelling television, evidenced by ESPN’s and Fox Sports One’s embrace of sports debate to fill out much of their respective broadcast days. Sports radio is almost nothing but debate and argument, with the occasional game thrown in to break things up. There’s always something to argue about, and everyone has an opinion. But do normal people want to watch very flawed politicians and opinionators argue and strut without ever solving a single thing? Some days, even I would rather argue about whether Arsenal really can mount a Premiere League title challenge (yes) or whether the Cowboys can ever rise above mediocrity with Jerry Jones as GM (not likely), or whether this player or that one is a better fit for one team or another. No one off the field really gets hurt and ultimately facts do win out when the season ends. Political season never ends now. It just. Never. Ends. There are no permanent victories, though paradoxically, there may always be a permanent defeat coming up tomorrow or next year.

Now that the entire political world is Crossfire on steroids and speed, there may not be a place for Crossfire, the show.

When does Fox Sports Live come on tonight?

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Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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Which Is Better: NBC’s Dracula or Fox’s Sleepy Hollow?

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

From the beginning of NBC’s new Dracula series, a question kept creeping up behind me: Hasn’t Jonathan Rhys Meyers already played this role?

As King Henry VIII, Rhys Meyers charmed, seduced, hunted and murdered his way across the lavish but ultimately depressing The Tudors. His Henry was a man who had it all, always wanted more, was never satisfied, and morphed into an engorged serial killer with a crown.

As Alexander Grayson/Dracula, Rhys Meyers charms, seduces, hunts and murders his way across London. Only, this London is a couple of centuries forward from Henry, Gothic and grimy as we think of the 1890s, full of villains and devoid of heroes. Henry VIII would have fit right in, and in the person of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, he does.

NBC’s Dracula is not a re-creation of Bram Stoker’s classic. It shares some character names along with an English setting, but the writers have twisted enough of the story so that no one really can guess where it will go. To give some sense of the twists if you haven’t seen it, Dracula is posing as an American industrial power, Alexander Grayson, engaging in as many hostile corporate takeovers as hostile blood transfusions. He personifies predatory capitalism. Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) not only is not hunting Dracula here, he revived the vampire 10 years before the story begins and is working in league with him to destroy a common enemy. They have patiently built an industrial empire and moved it to London just to fight that enemy, the Order of the Dragon. That common enemy made Drac a vampire, and framed Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula on the very crime that made him the “impaler,” so they’re evil. But they fight vampires, who are more evil. Dracula may drink blood but he has a moral compass. It’s mostly broken, but it does guide how he treats love interest Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw). This Dracula is a student of Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and to some extent P. T. Barnum and the great magicians. He is interesting to watch, and seems poised to kill any character on screen with him at any moment. Van Helsing is working on a way to help Dracula walk in the sunlight and evidently has a plan to kill off his vampire ally once their common enemy is defeated. But as that common enemy is a secret and very powerful global organization akin to the Templars or the Freemasons, defeating them could take a few seasons. Drac runs on blood, while his enemy runs on oil. When you consider the fact that Dracula and Van Helsing are both evil, and their enemy’s evil is what created and united them, well, you have a revenge story that can go just about anywhere. Nobody likes anybody else and poor Mina is stuck between all of them. She should move to New York and forget them all.

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‘Sexy Belly Dance Costumes for Children’ Among Top Online Halloween Costume Searches

Saturday, October 26th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Tada! We’re a screwed up country.

It’s a well-chronicled fact that people tend to gravitate to sexy Halloween costumes, but sexy Halloween costumes for babies? In our pre-Halloween infographic, we’ve coupled trending Halloween costume search terms (both popular and strange) from our sister site Bizrate.com and a survey of 7,315 online shoppers.

We found some interesting things, namely that someone out there wants to be Slutty Bacon for Halloween. (True story!) We also found plenty of evidence that the senior population hates Halloween, while Generation Y embraces it. And what’s even better for retailers? Most people will at least spend a little bit of money on the holiday.

“Slutty Bacon”? I subscribe to the theory that “bacon makes everything better,” but still…

Tada’s artists managed to depict what “Slutty Bacon” might look like. It turns out that bacon really doesn’t make sluttiness better.


Get more coupon data at Tada.

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Crossposted from the PJ Tatler

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Jay Leno: Al Qaeda’s Website is Easier to Use than Obamacare

Friday, October 25th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Late night host Jay Leno joined the culture-wide mockery of Obamacare last night. In his monologue, Leno compared Healthcare.gov’s “glitches” to al Qaeda’s website.

LENO: “Here’s a very disturbing story. You may have heard about this 25-year-old man in New York arrested for trying to join al Qaeda. Well, here is the amazing part. He said it was still easier to join al Qaeda using their website than it was to sign up for ObamaCare. And he was in! He was in, in like, two minutes! [Laughter and applause] Well, President Obama said yesterday, when it comes to all the problems with the ObamaCare website, he said, “No one is madder than me.” So apparently he hasn’t met any of these Republicans, I guess. [Laughter] And of course, you know, today, boy, it’s, and you know, it is hard, because today there were more problems with the website. It seems when you type in your age, it’s confusing, because it’s not clear if they want the age you are right now or the age you’ll be when you finally log in. [Laughter] So there’s a period there.”

On Monday night, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart ripped Healthcare.gov in a hilarious segment that spanned several minutes and flayed the website’s “glitches” in excruciating detail.

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Cross-posted from PJ Tatler

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‘Don’t Tap Into Your Beer Money to Cover Those Medical Bills’

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Progressive politics are the combination of amorality, arrogance and plain old theft. Some Colorado progressives are running this ad, along with many similar ones, to promote Obamacare to young Colorado residents. Click to enlarge.

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The ad seems too idiotic to be real. But it’s real and it’s the product of Progress Now Colorado. PNCO says its mission is “to build and empower a permanent progressive majority, challenge and correct right-wing misinformation, and hold public leaders accountable.”

Apparently it’s “right-wing misinformation” that adult men should take care of their own lives.

In its ads, PNCO is promoting stupidity and thievery. “Be as irresponsible as you want,” the ad’s subtext tells young men. “Obamacare is there to bail you out with other people’s money.”

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The ads promote high-risk behavior.

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Yes, Phil Powers is a real guy and he actually climbs mountains. He’s happy that you and I are subsidizing his high-risk lifestyle. Progress Colorado is happy about that, too.

PNCO’s message should embarrass serious people, but it follows directly from then Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Obamacare boosterism, which boiled down to “Quit your job, do whatever you want, Obamacare will pay for it!

h/t Igor Volsky

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One of the Best Sports Moments of the Decade

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Most Saturday mornings you can find me checking headlines on my laptop while English Premiere League soccer is up live on my TV. Moments like this one from Saturday’s matches are why soccer fans watch the games. They’re what the sport is all about.

Arsenal are north London’s biggest soccer team (Spurs fans, you know it’s true). The Gunners currently lead the league, and Saturday they were at home facing Norwich, who are currently near the bottom of the league. Arsenal  are playing lights out lately and expected the win, but no one expected the Gunners to score their first in quite the way that they did.

It happened in the 18th minute. With the match still scoreless but Arsenal dominating possession and forcing their will on Norwich, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere picked up the ball in the Gunners’ end and started to charge forward. He passed left to defender Kieran Gibbs, who passed forward to midfielder Santi Cazorla.

Cazorla, just returning from injury for his first match in several weeks, was showing a few signs of rust early in the game. But not at this moment. He held up the ball while Wilshere continued his run forward toward the Norwich goal. What follows is telepathic team play.

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Cazorla’s move starts at the :05 mark of the video. He has the ball, and that’s Wilshere in red facing the Norwich #27 in yellow. Cazorla passes to Wilshere, who passes back to Cazorla, who one-touch passes to Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, standing side-facing the goal at the top of the Norwich penalty area. Giroud flicks back to Wilshere, who heel flicks back to Giroud as he continues to charge forward through the Norwich defense. Giroud turns around and one-touch flicks the ball forward into Wilshere’s path. All Wilshere has left to do at that point is slide the ball past the keeper into the net, 1-0. Those six pinpoint moves spanned about :03 on the clock. Play the video a few times and you’ll see 21-year-old Wilshere’s unbelievable heel flick as he charges at pace right through the defense. A lifetime of work on the training ground won’t leave most of us anywhere near capable of pulling that off.

The stunning goal silenced the stadium. Norwich’s defenders and goalkeeper could do nothing about it. Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil, who scored two on the day and is regarded as one of the best playmakers in world soccer, said his teammates’ “Playstation” goal was “unbelievable.”

The Gunners weren’t finished. Arsenal went on to score three more, including this solo masterpiece by midfielder Aaron Ramsey that sealed the win.

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*****

Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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Facebook’s Ad Algorithm Is A Poopy Head

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Last week I wrote a piece about bullying. My take on bullying is about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be. I don’t agree with school “anti-bullying” programs, and do not believe that bullying is an issue worthy of the President of the United States’ time. Especially since the current president is the Bully in Chief. I believe that most cases of childhood bullying can be solved by allowing kids who are bullied to defend themselves. The community should back victims up if they do defend themselves.

The piece I wrote last week centered on a study that shows that school “anti-bullying” programs may really be bully training programs. The study found that those programs show bullies how to be more effective bullies, while they also show bullies that no one will be allowed to stand up to them. I posted the link to Facebook to share it with my legions and legions of friends and fans.

Today, Facebook is suggesting this.

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The link goes here, to the unfortunately named “The New Bully” website. Was the old bully defeated, or allowed to roam free by a leftist system that empowered him? Promoting that article to me may be due to an algorithm kick from the article I posted, or it may be part of Facebook’s latest anti-bullying drive.

“We are in this together and we can create change,” Nicholas says. Sure, and change is needed, but what kind of change are you proposing? The way we handle bullying now empowers bullies and leaves their victims to be victims for life. If you’re not about changing that, I’m not interested.

Are we going to change the way leftists bully everyone from attentive parents to veterans to the entire South to anyone and everyone who disagrees with them? If you’re not about changing that, I’m not interested.

As for Facebook’s “anti-bullying” drive, look out because it’s being done alongside the habitually bullying government of the state of Maryland. Soon enough criticizing that government on Facebook will end up being labeled “bullying” and censored.

****

Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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Duck Dynasty Stars: Producers ‘Told Us to Stop Praying to Jesus’ to Avoid Offending Muslims

Friday, October 11th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

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Duck Dynasty features a number of things that run against the grain of popular culture. They’re a strong family that runs their own business, which is based on their patriarch’s invention. They go to church. They don’t engage in microwave marriages to pop stars. Their daughters aren’t famous for sex tapes or appearances in men’s magazines. They hunt. With guns.

They also pray, and according to two of the show’s stars, Phil and Willie Robertson, the prayers caused some problems with the producers.

When the producers of Duck Dynasty asked the stars to stop saying “in Jesus’ name” during prayers because it might offend Muslims, Phil Robertson stood his ground and gave an eye-opening response.

“So they would just have me saying, ‘Thank you Lord for the food, thank you for loving us. Amen.’ So I said, ‘Why would you cut out ‘In Jesus’ name?’ They said, ‘Well those editors are probably doing that. They just think that they don’t want to offend some of the Muslims or something.’”

Robertson says he had a conversation with the producers, and the objections to Jesus’ name stopped.

“I said, let’s see now…” Robertson went on, “I said, ‘what year is it?’” And the editor finally answered, “2012″ (the time the conversation took place, apparently).

Robertson then said, “2012 A.D. Anno Domini. The year of our Lord. I said, ‘you Hollywood cats are counting time from Jesus, just like I am. I would think that of all the people who walked the planet Earth, if we’ve all decided in America here to count time by just one of ‘em, Jesus of Galilee, I just don’t think it would hurt to throw his name in there from time to time.”

Phil may come off as Hayseed Treebeard, but he holds a Masters Degree in education. Don’t mess with the duckman.

I suspect that the aversion to Jesus’ name was less about Muslims, than about the media’s cultural aversion to all things explicitly Christian.

The producers also inserted bleeps to make it sound like the family was using profanity. Willie says the Robertsons don’t habitually use profanity, so the bleeps were unnecessary.

“If we’re not using profanity, why make it look like we’re using profanity? What is the point? Why don’t you just run it and say what we say?”

Good question. Duck Dynasty hauls in nearly 12 million viewers a week. I’m one, and I appreciate the fact that the Robertsons are the only “reality show” family that isn’t being bleeped every other word. It’s almost shocking to see a TV family or personality who can finish a sentence without resorting to profanity. You can’t say the same even for shows like SyFy’s FaceOff, a great competition show about make-up and special effects creators. Even American Pickers features its share of bleeps, and that’s just two dudes who go antiquing for a living.

*****

Cross-posted from PJ Tatler.

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Pastor Rick Warren Embraces Islam — Yusuf Islam, to be Precise

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Pastor Rick Warren, whose sermons, books, church org charts and teachings have worked their way into every nook and cranny of Christendom over the past decade or so, met recently* with Yusuf Islam.

Yusuf Islam is better known by the name he went by before he converted to Islam: Cat Stevens. Stevens converted to Islam in 1977 and changed his name to Yusuf Islam.

The singer of “Peace Train” has been known to espouse radical, even violent, Islamist ideas. In 1989, after the government of Iran issued a fatwa calling for the murder of author Salman Rusdhie, Mr. Islam rushed to back that fatwa. He said that if he knew where Rushdie was hiding, he would personally call up the Ayatollah to give that location away — which would have resulted in Rushdie’s murder. Islam has never recanted that, and remains a fundamentalist Muslim today.

Pastor Warren tweeted about meeting Islam on October 4. Robert Spencer captured this screenshot of the meeting and posted it at Jihad Watch.

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But a Google search today reveals something curious: Warren has deleted the tweet.

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“America’s pastor” may have been surprised by Stevens/Islam’s views when confronted with them online after his tweet, but Stevens/Islam’s radical views have been known publicly for years. Spencer notes that this isn’t the first time Warren has gotten cozy with Islamists. In 2009 he addressed a Hamas convention. In 2006, Warren also praised Syria’s “moderate” government. That government is currently waging civil war in which more than 100,000 have died. After controversy erupted following Warren’s visit to Syria, Warren blamed Rev. Franklin Graham and also  journalists for reporting it.

*Originally I wrote that Warren met Islam Tuesday, but that was incorrect. Warren tweeted about meeting with Islam on October 4.

*****

Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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Obama Responds to Negative Publicity, Brings Amber Alert Website Back Online

Monday, October 7th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

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Over the weekend, the FBI took its Amber Alert missing child website offline, blaming the shutdown. At the same time, First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” web site stayed up and running.

Amber Alert is back online today, after the closure of the site generated negative publicity.

So it seems that Lord Obama can pick and choose what is and isn’t getting shut down. And it seems that he is in fact picking and choosing what gets shut down, in real time. He chose to close memorials and parks, including Mount Rushmore, and Obama chose to kick a pair of senior citizens out of their home. Obama’s decisions appear to be arbitrary and capricious, based not on actual fiscal conditions, but on what he can close to visibly demonstrate his political points on the shutdown. In some cases, the government is spending more to enforce the shutdown than it would spend simply to leave sites open. In closing hundreds of privately-run parks, Obama’s decisions are actively costing the Treasury millions of dollars per week.

When the lawsuits over closing a home and privately-run businesses get underway, and they will, the fact of these arbitrary and capricious displays of power should be included.

*****

cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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‘Evil’ Is Not Too Strong a Word for the Wendy Davis Phenomenon

Sunday, October 6th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

So state Sen. Wendy Davis, Democrat of Fort Worth, has made it official. She is running for governor of Texas.

Let’s set the politics of the race aside for a moment.

Wendy Davis would not be in the conversation at all if not for one action that she took.

The Texas Senate was deliberating a modest bill that did two things. The first of those was that it restricted abortions after five months of pregnancy.

At five months, this is what’s happening.

The baby’s organs have developed. She has a face and fingers and toes. She may look like this.

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Wendy Davis wants to ensure that that baby could still be ripped apart and discarded in unsanitary, unregulated abortion mills.

On June 25th of this year, the previously obscure state Sen. Wendy Davis stood up and filibustered the bill that would defend the baby’s life. Davis didn’t have the numbers to win, and she didn’t have the facts or arguments to prevail. She had a hardcore pro-abortion ideology, she had a zeal to protect the Democrat-controlled abortion industry lobbyist Planned Parenthood, and she had a media that spread the word on her behalf. She also had a president who thought her antics were “special.”

 

The other thing that the bill before the Senate that day would do is defend women from monsters like Kermit Gosnell.

Gosnell is the abortionist who was convicted of running an abortion slaughterhouse in Pennsylvania. He killed babies after they were born. He mutilated women. He kept souvenirs of his kills in jars. Gosnell allowed staff with no medical training at all to perform procedures in his clinic. His clinic — abattoir — went unregulated for more than a decade because the politics of abortion got in the way of cleanliness and safety and women’s health.

The Texas bill would prevent another Gosnell by mandating that abortionists have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, ensuring that they are qualified doctors, and that women who access the clinics may get emergency treatment if something goes wrong. Many things went wrong over the course of Gosnell’s heinous career. The bill also upgraded standards at abortion clinics to defend the women who access them.

Outside the filibuster, there were other signs of evil. One, the media that utterly ignored the Gosnell horror trial made Davis a hero and turned her pink shoes into icons. Two, Davis’ supporters tried to destroy Texas’ legislative process to get their way. They engaged in some of the most disgusting, disgraceful — frankly, evil — tactics to force their will. Fortunately, they failed. Three, the Davis filibuster gave rise to a heinous lie — that the Texas Democrats were “standing with women.” They were standing with some women, but very much against other women, including the sponsors of the bill that Davis filibustered. The Texas Democrats and their new champion stood against the majority of Texas women, who are pro-life, to stop a law that most Texans support.

Should any of this have become a platform for rise of Texas’ next governor? What about any of this suggests that Wendy Davis would bring solid, sensible leadership to the pro-life state? Does any of this suggest that she is even remotely qualified?

Wendy Davis stands very little chance of winning. But if she does, her rise to fame, and the lies that powered it, would mark a horrible turning point for the state of Texas and for the country.

*****

Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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FCC: Due to the Government Shutdown, You May Now Broadcast All the ‘Wardrobe Malfunctions’ You Want

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

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Janet Jackson was just a few years ahead of her time. The partial federal government shutdown has sent “non-essential” federal workers home, and the Federal Communications evidently deems scanning the airwaves for offenses against its standards non-essential.

The FCC has posted a notice that due to the shutdown, it is “limited to performing duties that are immediately necessary for the safety or life or the protection of property.” If that means what it sounds like it means, the airwaves across the fruited plains could get very sketchy.

I called the FCC’s headquarters in Washington for comment, pressed 1 to continue in English, and got a pre-recorded message that there is no one around to take my non-emergency call.

*****

Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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FIFA 14: First Look

Thursday, September 26th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

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The latest installment of EA Sports’ globally popular soccer simulator, FIFA 14, hit the streets Tuesday. While it won’t shatter sales records in the way that Grand Theft Auto V has, FIFA 14 should maintain its place among the best-selling games worldwide for the simple reasons that soccer is the world’s most popular sport, and Electronic Arts is among the most massive game developers around. The new installment’s predecessor, FIFA 13, managed to be the highest-selling game of 2013 at the time of its launch. So FIFA 14 should be big. Does it deserve to be?

The Good

I had the chance to kick FIFA 14 for a couple hours on its debut day. The graphics are gorgeous, but not groundbreaking. The fact is, the FIFA franchise has looked great for years, and as the hardware that drives it — in my case, a PS3 — hasn’t changed in years, neither will the look of the game. The players’ faces do look a bit closer to their real-life counterparts than in previous versions. The crowds in the stands do come alive a bit more realistically than before. The grass looks like grass and the stadium color palettes appear to have been pushed toward more realism — they seem a bit more muted, as if the paints even in the spectacular Emirates Stadium in London have faded a bit. Playing during rain produces nice splashes off the grass. Overall the game looks fantastic, while not looking massively different from the previous version.

EA says it has upgraded the game’s engine to make matches play more realistically, with better ball physics and more intelligent player movement.

I haven’t noticed much in the physics area during gameplay, which were already good on previous versions. The improved physics have been apparent in the game’s many shooting, passing and ball control tutorials though. I did notice improved player ball control during action — a good dribbler in real life is also a good dribbler in the game, but if you insist on sprinting while dribbling, chances are the ball will get a bit too far ahead of your player and you’ll end up losing possession.

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The Dojo: Austin’s Grand Champion of Japanese Cuisine?

Friday, September 13th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Every American city of any size these days has at least one sushi restaurant. Whether they’re good or not is another question. Even grocery stores carry California and tuna rolls, at least. But deeper modes of Japanese cuisine haven’t made as many inroads across the US. Sushi is ubiquitous, as are Americanized Japanese steakhouses with chefs who quick chop, tell jokes and throw food at you, but try finding good gyudon, tonkatsu or serious ramen outside the country’s more massive cities. Not the Top Ramen you can get six for a buck at HEB, but real hot ramen soup with a pork cutlet floating in its heavy miso or shoyu broth.

The availability of serious Japanese food is growing rapidly in Austin, TX. The city now boasts at least three eateries serving genuine Japanese ramen, the hearty noodle soup loved all over Japan. Ramen Tastsu-Ya in north Austin is the place to go for great ramen fast. Despite the fact that the line to get seated can hang outside the door and run down the walkway in front of the place, you can usually be in and out in about 45 minutes. The ramen is fantastic. Daruma, downtown on Austin’s famous Sixth Street, is a place I haven’t been to but have heard good things about.

dojo2A newcomer, though, intends to be more than just a ramen shop. It seeks to become a neighborhood hangout in the tradition of Japan’s izakayas. It’s called the Dojo, and by the way, it also serves amazing food.

I threw a couple of words at you in that last sentence that probably bear explaining. An izakaya is primarily a drinking spot in Japan, a sake shop, a watering hole. Think Cheers, but on tatami mats. Izakayas are where Japanese workers go to unwind with friends and colleagues after work. They serve food, but the main point of an izakaya is to relax and socialize. Fast food, they are not. They are a place where everyone tends to know everyone else.

A dojo in American thinking is a place where one goes to study martial arts. That’s part but not all of what a dojo is. The word really means “a place of the way,” or a place where a certain way is followed. That’s that I think Austin’s Dojo has in mind. You won’t be swinging wooden swords around, as fun as that might be. But you will absorb a new way of enjoying food and relaxing.

The wait staff will come explain the izakaya concept to you as they seat you. Our waitress, Stacy, explained that at an izakaya diners shouldn’t just order one appetizer, one main course and call it a dinner. Take your time. Order this. Get it. Enjoy it. Order that. Enjoy it. Explore the menu. Talk about the food. Order a couple other things. Enjoy them. Then order the main course. It was perfect advice.

The appetizers are authentically Japanese, with some Western twists, and of the highest quality in presentation and preparation.

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The gyoza, kara-age, kewpie shrimp, every appetizer I’ve had at the Dojo, have been top drawer. If you want drinks, they have drinks.

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