December 19, 2004

Un-Fucking Believable

I might not have time to post tomorrow before I shove off for home, but I wouldn't mind if this was my last post for a while. This clip is real, and it's fan-freaking tastic.

December 14, 2004

Hooray for sexual anarchy!

I guess some Catholics are upset the "V***** Monologues" (because everyone knows `vagina' is a dirty word for a dirty dirty place) are going to be performed at Notre Dame. Here's an entertaining bit:

"The play violates the truth about women, the truth about sexuality, the truth about male and female and the truth about the human body," he said.

Note that `truth' is used here not to refer to certain factual situations involving gender and sex, represented in dramatic form in the play, but rather to the ideas some people have about the way things should be regarding gender and sex.

Hey! You! Academic! Get practical!

Here's a bizarre suggestion. My reaction is pretty well summed up in the letter I emailed to the Times just now:

As a graduate student in both pure mathematics and philosophy, I find Dean Kunhardt's proposal completely opaque. What exactly does he think pure mathematicians should be inventing, besides new techniques for doing mathematics, ie, doing conventional mathematics research? And the idea of a philosphical invention makes even less sense. While practical innovation does seem appropriate for inclusion in an engineer's or possibly even a physicist's tenure dossier, it would be completely inappropriate in other fields, more removed from practical affairs and marketable devices.

December 08, 2004

Parents these days!

There's a fantastic thread over on the City of Heroes forums with some great stories about parents playing the game with their kids. I remember my dad and I played ... ummm ... Hexen, I think, a few times, back around the time he and my mom divorced. He wasn't so good at it, but we played cooperative instead of deathmatch and I lead the way. It was fun; one of the few things we could actually share at that point.

Videogames: Not just for teenage misanthropes anymore!

December 07, 2004

Banana phone!

It's that time of year again. The weather gets crappy and many of us are yet again crushed with the obligations of the end of another semester. Hopefully this will cheer your day up. Incidentally, you can get this as a ring tone if you use Sprint.

Commence uncontrollable giggling in 3, 2, 1 ...

Atrios. If you scroll up a few posts higher, you can find something a bit more thoughtful, but for some reason I just find this most amusing.

December 06, 2004

USA! Number uhhhh

So American teenagers can't do math. This wasn't a surprise. Perhaps I'll go cry now.

In positive math education news, next semester I'll be teaching multivariable calculus. That's right, not TA-ing, actually teaching.



Why is the name of Jesus and, more importantly, the calling upon his authority consistently missing from the rhetoric of political leaders? Could it be because politicians might think it would somehow jeopardize their political well being? Possibly, the failure to openly acknowledge Jesus Christ is closely tied to keeping 'church and state' separated. Or, has the citizenry become so complacent in respect to his name that politicians are merely following suit?

In what parallel universe do people like this guy live? Or maybe he was just in a coma for the past year?

If all he said was that he thinks political figures should talk about Jesus more, then that's his opinion and he's welcome to it. But how, with a straight face, do you say politicians never ever talk about Jesus, and then compare that situation with slavery? Well, okay, I suppose you could say `This situation is completely unlike slavery', but that's not the route he chooses.

Via II

Pat Robertson = Cave Man?

I saw this posted over at Pandagon, and though I am buried deep in things I need to learn before my finals, I thought you all should read this post from Digby.

December 03, 2004

Test: It's Been A While

I was gone for Thanksgiving having a grand old time in Boston and Cape Cod with some old friends, which explains why you all haven't heard peep from me in a good long while. I'm back now, but the flip side is that I've got finals starting next week followed immediately by a trip home for the holidays, so I'm going to be pretty scarce for the next several weeks, but I'll post as I'm able.

The other reason for this post is that I'm at school right now and Blogger doesn't seem to like this network sometimes so I'm testing it to see if it will let me post all the great stories I want you to read before I type them up and loose them to the digital monster that seems to love eating my work.

December 02, 2004

Because it's Christmastime

I've got a present for you: an atheist's reaction to two of the nativity stories in the Gospels.

What did you expect, an announcement of sudden conversion?

Note that I'm taking his guy's claims with a grain of salt, and you should too, unless you know a lot more about Biblical scholarship than I do. But I have heard a few of these conflicts before; they're another one of those little things about Christianity that makes me go hmmmm and scratch my chin in a thoughtful, philosophical manner.

Welcome to America: Thank you for not gettin' it on

Henry Waxman (D-CA) has just finished a report on the content of some 'abstinence-only' curricula. Would you believe the curricula aren't entirely accurate? Even downright offensive, sexist, and heterosexist?

Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for 'admiration' and 'sexual fulfillment' compared with a woman's need for 'financial support.' One book in the 'Choosing Best' series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. 'Moral of the story,' notes the popular text: 'Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess.'

Like the rest of you, I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that the people responsible for abstinence-only sex ed would promote misogynist and anti-homosexual views along with bad statistics about other birth control methods.

More seriously: Come on, people! Do you really think your fourteen year old is too stupid to understand `Wait to have sex and alcohol. But if the temptation gets to be too great, we want you to be safe and responsible, so here's how you can make STDs a lot less likely and what to do for alcohol poisoning'? And then giving them misinformation on top of it, so they're actually less likely to use birth control when those damn hormones get out of control! Have you no respect at all for your own children? No concern for their well-being under all possible circumstances?

Via the Panda which has left

November 28, 2004

Bush's Social Security Plan Is "Said" to Require Vast Borrowing

Okay, I've calmed down a little.

Check out this "journalism": Bush's Social Security Plan Is Said to Require Vast Borrowing

Here's a copy of the letter I'm sending to the editor:

Dear Editor,
First, it is clear that Bush's idea for Social Security is just that, an idea, and not a plan -- if it were a plan, he would have some way to fund it, details on how these mandatory savings accounts were going to work, and solid numbers on how the movement of money would be different from the status quo. Since he has none of these, his is not a plan but a vague idea.

Second, and more importantly, this "plan" is said to require vast borrowing because it will require vast borrowing. This isn't some baseless partisan claim thrown out by some Democrats; if benefits for the unemployed and elderly aren't coming from the current payroll taxes (as in the current system) or income taxes (the only other real source of revenue the federal government has), they'd have to come from deficit spending, ie, borrowing. It is not something that "could be necessary" if this "plan" was implemented; it would be necessary. As the article itself points out, even people in favor of this idea recognize it would require borrowing at least hundred of billions of dollars!

Finally, the article fails to evaluate the "plan" from the point of view of the young people who would retire under it. Social security exists as a safety net, guaranteed by the government, so that people need not worry about how they are going to get by when they are unable to work. Under the current system, a young person like me does not need to worry about fifty years from now; my generation's children and grandchild will subsidize me at roughly the same rate I and my parents are currently subsidizing my grandparents. But investing in mutual funds, stocks, and bonds is nowhere near as certain as the status quo: what about a 65-year-old woman who had made plans to retire in late 2001, only to discover her mutual fund had overinvested in technology stocks and her $100,000 in savings was now $35,000?

On the other hand, the claims of the advocates for keeping the current system, just tweaking it in twenty years when the surplus starts to wear thin, were also left unexamined.

I am incredibly disappointed at the quality of the journalism displayed in this article. Mr. Stevenson should be ashamed at his inability to objectively evaluate the claims of his sources and actually educate his readers.

What is feminism?

Rape makes me ill. Just reading this summary makes my stomach twist and my blood boil, makes me want to scream and pick up a two-by-four and proceed to beat every man who has done this to a woman until they couldn't even be recognized by matching dental records.

I'm not being facetious. Those of you who know me personally know I'm quite the serious pacifist. But that all vanishes in face the rape. Every violent instinct I possess has been redirected towards someone who is, I think, so vile as to not even deserve to be considered human. As one comment to this piece says, rape is a crime against humanity, meaning it is a crime against every human when it is committed.

I find rape so appalling just because of the way it symbolizes the oppression of women: the victim is violently reduced to an object of sexual gratification and, in wartime, a de-individuated appendage of the enemy's community. The men who raped these women; the man who date-raped a friend of mine, drugging a fourteen-year-old's beer so she was awake but couldn't move, not even to scream; the man who drug another fourteen-year-old into the back of his van and left her in a ditch by the side of the road; these men do not deserve to be treated as persons after the way they have denied personhood to their victims, even though they were simply treating women the way societies all over the world have treated women up until this past century.

So what is feminism? Feminism is being appalled by rape, and the daily gender inequality which it represents and is born of. Feminism is recognizing that the value of a person, what is important in their life, should be decided by the free choices they make for themselves, not by what shape their genitals are, and other people think that means. Feminism is about justice, and is the antithesis of rape.

November 27, 2004

David Brooks: Let's compare apples and unicorns!

Okay, so, as everyone should know by now, David Brooks is a tool. Let's look at some statements he makes.

we're in the 11th month of the most prosperous year in human history. Last week, the World Bank released a report showing that global growth "accelerated sharply" this year to a rate of about 4 percent.

Okay, let's assume for the minute that this is true. Naturally, I wouldn't trust David Brooks to hose me down if I were on fire, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt here. However, this doesn't really mean shit. The global economy grew fantastically in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was called `imperialism', and it didn't work out so well for places that weren't Europe and the north Atlantic coast of the US.

So why does David Brooks think the current boom is so great?

This is having a wonderful effect on world poverty, because when regions grow, that growth is shared up and down the income ladder. In its report, the World Bank notes that economic growth is producing a "spectacular" decline in poverty in East and South Asia. In 1990, there were roughly 472 million people in the East Asia and Pacific region living on less than $1 a day. By 2001, there were 271 million living in extreme poverty, and by 2015, at current projections, there will only be 19 million people living under those conditions.

Because supply-side economics works, of course! Look, these irrelevant statistics prove it! (Again, I'll assume his statistics are accurate, and the comparison between 'living on less than $1 a day' and 'extreme poverty' was appropriate.)

Here's the thing: there is a broad trend towards economic integration on a global level; there is also a broad trend towards higher standards of living. But the people responsible for the second one aren't the ones responsible for the first one. Amartya Sen -- who won a Nobel prize in economics, something not even David Brooks believes David Brooks has done -- argued in Development as Freedom a few years ago that the Indian states that have improved their standard of living the most over the past 20+ years are the ones that have weighted their options carefully, not done what the Western capitalists wanted because it would supposedly make their economy go whoooosh. (As Argentina and Russia will tell you, those Western capitalists turned out to mostly be wrong.)

In other words: yeah, local economic growth is generally a good thing. But don't confuse an increased real GDP with more health care and literacy and rights for women. The people and their leaders need to channel and regulate the direction 'those guys in pinstrip suits' want to take them. And David Brooks is still an incoherent and craptacular writer.

November 24, 2004

Okay, one more

I'm going 2 blocks away for Thanksgiving, my roommates are gone and we don't have cable. What else would I be doing but posting?

If you, like me or Alton Brown, enjoy both cooking and science, here's a neat little article. The rest of you can go have hot dogs and Kraft macaroni and cheese. Bastards.

Turkey day

This is just brilliant. And insane. They tend to get along rather well.

Just for the record, I will not be eating turkey tomorrow, as animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends. I will, however, and unfortunately, be eating in the vicinity of turkey. That's what I get for going to the house of some omnivores for Thanksgiving.

Enjoy yours.

November 23, 2004

Realigning the Frame: Liberty is about 'Opportunity', not Ownership

From a diary over at Kos

'OWNERSHIP SOCIETY' IS GOP SPEAK FOR 'DEREGULATED MARKETS': Conservatives talk about ownership without bothering to talk about how the under advantage will become owners. This is dangerous. It spreads the false idea that ownership is the pure product of hard work, rather than the result of well managed social and economic opportunity.

AN 'OWNERSHIP SOCIETY' WOULD BE RULED BY ARISTOCRATS AND KINGS: Who's the symbol of an ownership society? The King of England, that's who. The framers of our constitution understood that in order for everyone to have opportunity, government must insure equal opportunity for all by limiting the ability of a few wealthy owners to slowly amass the majority of the nations wealth. Conservatives disagree with this vision held by the very founders of this country.

'OWNERSHIP SOCIETY' DOESN'T MEAN YOU'LL BE ABLE TO OWN A HOME: It means that you'll have an increasingly difficult time buying that first home because there will be no regulations in the market. Ownership will be the exclusive domain of those who already have equity--either through inheritance, access to corporate wealth, or through personal gain. To be against Bush's 'ownership society' is actually to be FOR the rights of first home buyers.

AMERICA IS THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERYONE, NOT A LAND WHERE A FEW WEALTHY PEOPLE OWN EVERYTHING: When Americans think about 'Liberty' they don't think about ownership, they think about the Statue of Liberty. Nobody can own liberty because it only result from freedom and opportunity for all, not the amassing of wealth.

Spread the meme ...

Then why did you vote for him?

Apparently, many Americans don't understand that, when you vote for a candidate for president, you're endorsing that person's political projects.

Across the board, the poll suggested that the outcome of the election reflected a determination by Americans that they trusted Mr. Bush more to protect them against future terrorist attacks - and that they liked him more than Mr. Kerry - rather than any kind of broad affirmation of his policies. ...

Even as two-thirds of respondents said they expected Mr. Bush to appoint judges who would vote to outlaw abortion, a majority continue to say they want the practice to remain either legal as it is now, which was Mr. Kerry's position, or to be legal but under stricter limits.

Americans said they opposed changing the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, which Mr. Bush campaigned on in the final weeks of his campaign. A majority continue to support allowing either same-sex marriages or legally recognized domestic partnerships for gay people.

So, basically, people choose their president the way they choose senior class president. I'm really, really glad I have City of Heroes and a paper on Berkeley to distract me from this, otherwise I'd be really depressed right now.

November 22, 2004

Well, this is depressing

So it turns out the average American `doesn't know what to say' about evolution.
I can't decide what this means, nor which is more depressing: that people have been shuffled through our crappy publication education system and don't understand what a `scientific theory' is, how science works, and so on; or that the people who favour ridiculously literal readings of the Bible are that prominent.

Comment: I have tried and tried to understand why contemporary evolutionary theory is a threat to fundamentalism. A hundred years ago, Darwinian biology is associated with Social Darwinism (`the rich are richer because they're better, so screw the poor!'); that's why William Jennings Bryan, an awesome Evangelical populist, argued against it during the Scopes trial. But that association's long since faded. And if you want reactionary fundamentalist moralism, you just need Paul's books, or Deuteronomy if you're Jewish; Genesis, especially the creation story, isn't going to do that much for you. Why is taking a metaphorical reading there so important?

Incidentally, you can read my defence of evolution here. I haven't reread it in a while, so I can't say I endorse all of it now, but it was well-received when I wrote it a couple years ago.

Meanwhile, ...

Bob Herbert talks about something a little more important.

William Safire's garbage

So, no surprise, William Safire starts shilling for an amendment that would allow Ahnuld to run for president. I don't have any particular opinion on this either way, actually, but here are some phrases that made me go `huh?'

That makes all naturalized citizens - including taxpayers, voters, servicemembers - slightly less than all-American. Even children born abroad of U.S. citizens have fallen under the shadow of Article II; this has caused pregnant women to race back to our shores to make certain their children's political potential is not somehow beclouded.

Now, I'm not in law school, so I could be wrong -- but I thought the children of American citizens were automatically American citizens. It doesn't matter where you were born so much as the citizenship of your parents at the time.

He's a libertarian conservative, a man of the right whose popularity is rising on the Left Coast. Under the tutelage of former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Gov. Pete Wilson, he is using his celebrity, charisma and political moxie to break up the logrolling logjam that put this state into the hands of easily rolled legislators and budget-busting initiative rule.

I haven't been following Californian politics as closely since I moved off the West Coast. But I do glance at the front page of the Chron every couple weeks, and talk about the issues of the day every so often with my admittedly liberal parents. So, again, I could be wrong -- but I don't think Ahnuld has done shit in the past year. He got some emergency bonds passed, but hasn't done anything to reign in spending; I'm not sure he was even running on anything else. Possibly the stem-cell research funding initiative was his idea, but that wasn't a legislative achievement.

Maybe after Safire leaves the Times will bring in Barbara Ehrenreich permanently. That would make me happyful.

November 21, 2004

Women vs. Wal-Mart

In Nickel and Dimed a couple years back, Barbara Ehrenreich spent some time working at Wal-Mart. Her conclusions? Wal-Mart is a shitty place to work: no benefits, crappy pay, a domineering management system. Oh, and systemically sexist. Then Wal-Mart got sued for that last one.

The way that Wal-Mart underpays women and doesn't promote them, despite the fact that so many women who work there are supporting their families, is shockingly hostile. As one of the plaintiffs pointed out, "They don't even pay you enough to pay a babysitter." In their company culture, they've always had the idea that to move into management, people have to be willing to relocate. [Uprooting the family] can be tremendously disruptive to families for either men or women. It's clearly something that can be avoided, especially now that there are so many Wal-Marts everywhere. You hardly need to be sent to another state to work at a different Wal-Mart. ... What's disturbing is that Wal-Mart is really profiting from female poverty -- both from its workers and its shoppers. Part of the problem with the Wal-Mart business model is that it requires more poverty in order to grow. They really have no incentive to improve working conditions. If they are lowering living standards everywhere they go, people have no choice but to shop at Wal-Mart.

The Republican party doesn't care about national security

So you're a Republican in the House. Which is more important to you:

(a) protecting the citizens of the United States from further terrorist attacks, by enacting the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, or

(b)protecting the political territory of your buddies in the Pentagon?

Answer here.

November 20, 2004

A Lack Of Originality!

To copy Drew, who was himself copying someone else, I have a fun experiment we can all do! Here are the first ten songs randomly selected by itunes from my library of 3011 songs:

1. The Same Old Song - The Temptations
2. Stealing From A Thief - Anthrax, The Threat Is Real! Volume 8
3. Prince - Housequake - DJ Rhettmatic, The Wedding Mixer
4. Vacant - Dream Theater, Train of Thought
5. ...And Justice For All - Metallica, ...And Justice For All
6. Born Mimic - Joe Beats Conspiracy, Reverse Discourse
7. Atlantis - Stratovarious, Dreamspace
8. What's Goin' On - Marvin Gaye
9. Silent Lucidity - Queensryche, Empire
10. One Of My Turns - Pink Floyd, The Wall

Unlike Drew, however, I invite you all to post your top tens in the comments. See, Drew has people that actually post regularly, so he doesn't have to encourage it. Keep in mind, this is supposed to be the first ten songs chosen randomly by the program.

That's a pretty good crossection of my music, though obviously in 10 songs there are some significant genres missing and Dream Theater is a little under represented considering how many albums worth of music are in the library, but feel free to tell me all about how bad my taste is in the comments!

This shit ALREADY?

Republicans on the joint committee responsible for merging the
two drafts of the spending bill into one uniform bill to be approved
by both houses of Congress have added language that would
allow hospitals, insurers, and other non-human entities to refuse to provide abortions, and not suffer any spending penalties.
Below is the text of the email I'm sending both of the senators from Illinois:

Dear Senator XXX,
The amendments to the spending bill announced this weekend, with provisions likely to further degrade womens' rights to choose, are completely inappropriate, and contrary to the expressed desires of the majority of Americans -- recall that only a small percentage of very vocal social conservatives want restrictions on access to abortion. I strongly encourage you to support Senator Boxer in her opposition to these amendments: do not vote in favor of the revised spending bill, do not vote to end the fillibuster she is likely to launch. I ask you this as a concerned citizen of Illinois.
Dan Hicks

What? who?

The rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I've just had an insanely busy four weeks. Grad school's a bitch that way. Fortunately, I should be considerably less busy in the near future, and then I'll be on vacation in California for most of December, where you will once again not hear from me.

Look at it this way: no 2,000 word essays on obscure philosophers taking up three screens' worth of space until January-ish. Celebrate!

A few good things you should read:

Brand Democrat | Oliver Willis

Pandagon on Kerry's "Every Child Protected" bill (which petition I have signed)

Atrios on health insurance. The guy's an economist, isn't he? Well, you should read it anyway, get some edumacation.

Oh, and Stuff from the Bible. Because I just want to see if certain people actually read this thing like they claim they do ...

November 17, 2004

I'm Number 2! I'm Number 2!

I'm totally copying Matty Y here, but since Andrew Sullivan thinks it's sooooo important for liberal bloggers to mention the murder of Theo van Gogh, here you go. Murder is wrong kids, and people who do it are bad. And boom, I've just claimed the moral high ground.

Haven't heard about this before now and don't think this is a huge story? Yeah, you're not alone...

Flat Tax Crushed

Matty Y's got a very short, elegant take down to all the "tax simplification through a flat tax" that Bush talking about lately.

The Moral Party?

Head on over to Josh Marshall for a couple posts about how dirty the Republicans still are. In the early nineties they tried to the party of greater morals by passing a rule that any Republicans under indictment could not be in leadership posts. Now that Tom DeLay is under indictment, however, it looks like they're going to be getting rid of that silly ass rule.

November 16, 2004

Yesterday's News, Today!

Well, we seem to have fallen off the bleeding edge of the news cycle here at the ol' Staff of Ra, but in case you didn't know, Colin Powell Bush Administration official to drop out after one term, and Bush has replaced him with Condoleezza Rice. Behind Powell, evidently Rice was the person with the most credibility at the beginning of Bush's first term, but given the higher profile of the Secretary of State it's likely that, like Powell whatever little credibility she had left will be flushed.

November 14, 2004

A Tale of Two Spartans

In a great commentary on the literary life of the country, the official Halo 2 strategy guide has become one of the best selling "books" of the decade.

Incidentally, Halo 2 rules.

November 12, 2004

New Games Journalism & Halo 2

I'm pretty sure I posted about New Games Journalism back in the summer, but back then the site was getting around three hits a day. I'm going to give you these in reverse order so you know what to look for, but start with this article explaining what New Games Journalism is, then read the inspiration for that article.

New Games Journalism is not reviewing in the traditional sense of the word, but they are a kind of review. The goal, as I see it, is to relay the unique experiences in the game as best you can to the reader; to take them into the world of the game and show the reader the amazing or terrible aspects which might induce someone to buy it.

So, that primer out of the way, I'd like to talk about Halo 2 a bit. First, I'm not done with the single player game yet, so there're be more to come on that front. My Xbox has been offline since August due to being on a new and oftentimes unstable wireless network. On Wednesday I hooked up the wireless network adapter thinking it would be a major pain to set up, but in fact it only took a little bit of fiddling to get me up and running. As Halo 2 loaded, I received a voice messsage from Brandon, an occasional contributer here. I haven't seen Brandon in person since his wedding over a year ago, but I received a voice mail message through a game telling me about a game he had played the night before with Czar, another occational poster here and another person I haven't seen in forever, and told me that I should join in with them. Seconds after the messsage ended I saw that Brandon was not online playing Halo 2, but was in fact offline playing the single player campaign. Moments later I had recorded my own voice message where I told him of my current availability, only to shortly thereafter hear back from Brandon saying that he would find a good stopping point and then we could play. Then he soundly beat my ass. I got some good licks in though.

Anyway, that's hardly a very good example of New Games Journalism, but I've never been so amazed with the way a non-communication (read: cell phone) device can connect people separated by a continent. Halo 2, so far, is a spectacularly good game, but it's blowing my mind how it's able to bring people together so they can digitally kill each other.

November 09, 2004

I don't entirely agree with his politics

but Howard Dean has shown over the past year+ that he can get people involved in, even excited about, the Democratic party. I think he could be a brilliant party chair.

November 08, 2004

Today's reading assignment

Pretty much everything they've posted over at pandagon today is well worth your time.

This strategy for the Democrats, being a sincere but ultimately ineffectual opposition party, taking the optimistic and moral high ground, is much, much more appealing to me than the other two that have been floating about the blogosphere lately: lurching even further to the right, or forming a propaganda network as manipulative and disingenuous as the movement conservatives'. While building a strong progressive voice in the mainstream media is important, what we really need is a journalistic establishment whose primary mission is to check and evaluate the claims of the propagandists. If journalists were actually, you know, journalists, and the Democrats were actually, you know, the party of the non-wealthy and non-bigoted, movement conservatism wouldn't stand a chance.

Halo 2

Halo 2 drops tonight at midnight in many places. Not being a car owner, I'm unable to make it down to the game store tonight, but my Moot Court Brief is done so I'm going Halo 2 crazy tomorrow.

Incidentally, I heard a report about a week ago that there were over 1.5 million pre-orders for Halo 2. Let's figure that out: $50 x 1.5 million = $75 on the first day. If anyone doubted that games have arrived as a force in society, let that doubt be gone.

November 07, 2004

Damn liberal media!

You know, it's a good thing the New York Times published an article explaining that the Bush administration is incompetently waging its war on terror[ism] before the election, so the electorate could be reminded of this important detail.

Oh, wait. The election was last week, wasn't it? Shit. Don't you hate it when the liberal media pulls shit like this, publishing stories that hurt Bush after the election, in a transparent ploy to lead swing voters to Kerry?

Welcome My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends...It Just Takes Long Breaks

In the midst of being woefully behind in my progress towards completing the brief I'm working on, and supposed to be finished with for tomorrow, I went to Philly last night to see my friend Drew's band, The Trap, perform. I haven't had a friend in a band since high school, so I had forgotten how much more the girls would rather have sex with, or even talk to, the cute guitarist than with me. That's alright, such things would have really fucked up this whole "Friar without the faith" thing I've got going on.

The show rocked though. I implore you all to go to The Trap's web page and download their songs. There were two other bands there, well, two that mattered, and though I've gotta jet now I might post their websites later if I can find them.

November 05, 2004

The Saddest Shit Evva

Now that the election is over I can start posting more traditionally geeky things, like the Miss Digital World Contest, aka the thing we geeks that try to be cool shake our heads at.

I Loved Bees

The I Love Bees saga is over, and what a ride it's been. For those that have no idea what I'm talking about, well, I've posted a million times about it, but here's some help.

I haven't listened to them yet, but evidently you get the story from these audio files. What a bitchin' way to sell a game.

Time To Strategize

While we're licking our wounds from this election disaster I found a bitchin' chess program online to hone our strategic abilities so we can kick conservative ass next time.

November 04, 2004

So THAT'S what happened

A sixteen-year-old girl just explained to me what happened on Tuesday (screenname removed to protect her identity):

[04-11-2004 13:04:21] ----: because he's always bitchin at Bush about him outsourcing jobs, right? Yet, his wife owns Heinze (actually, she doesn't own jack shit, its her dead husband's company and money) and it ousourcing thousands of jobs. If they moved Heinze to the US, think of how many jobs there would be. But, no, they're keeping it wherever the fuck it is.
[04-11-2004 13:05:24] SecretAgentDan: ... you think people chose Bush over Kerry because Heinz ketchup manfactures overseas?
[04-11-2004 13:05:30] SecretAgentDan: wow
[04-11-2004 13:05:34] SecretAgentDan: when did you go insane?
[04-11-2004 13:05:35] ----: that's not even what I'm saying
[04-11-2004 13:05:41] ----: I was giving you a REASON
[04-11-2004 13:05:43] ----: A REASON
[04-11-2004 13:05:44] ----: one
[04-11-2004 13:05:47] ----: there are countless
[04-11-2004 13:05:56] SecretAgentDan: uh huh
[04-11-2004 13:06:04] ----: and I'm not insane
[04-11-2004 13:06:07] ----: you're the fucking moron
[04-11-2004 13:06:16] ----: now i know why I don't keep company w/ liberals
[04-11-2004 13:06:27] ----: I seriously think I'm dumber having talked to you about politics
[04-11-2004 13:06:42] SecretAgentDan: how, exactly, am I a moron?
[04-11-2004 13:09:34] ----: because you're so wrapped up in your Liberal world view you have no idea how badly this country would be if we had someone like Kerry in office. You want to know one of the reasons the economy is bad? Because that dumb ass Bill Clinton made the land that has our oil in Alaska "protected land" or whatever the fuck he called. Therefore causing us to have to get it from other countries. And since gas prices are so fucking high, people aren't buying new cars because they can't afford to fill the tanks. And since people aren't buying cars, peopel who make cars are getting laid off. If Bush could get it to where we could get our own oil from our own land, we'd have a way better economy. But, no, your dumb ass DEMOCRATIC president fucked that up.

November 03, 2004

It's Over

Kerry's giving up. 4 more years of the same old Bush bullshit.

The Day After

Ok, let me first say that all is not lost. Even though the networks promised that they wouldn't call anything until the was absolutely clear they called Ohio for Bush last night, but it's close this morning. The NYT has Ohio still as a tossup and the EV count 249-242. This is desperation setting in, but it IS still really close.

That being said, I've never felt more cynical and ashamed of Americans. Given all that has happened in the last four years, half the country (more than even think that Bush is doing a good job) voted for the status quo. The Youth vote didn't happen. The momentum in what 70% of Democrats said was the most important election in their life fizzled like crazy. Kerry should have mopped the floor with Bush given the terrible decisions the guy's made, but unlike 2000 we're probably not even going to win the nationwide popular vote. Granted, I had had a couple beers last night, though I was hardly drunk, but it was the first time I've ever really considered moving to a different country. Not only do I not know how I'm supposed to work with people for a more perfect union when they choose ignorance over the facts and "strong morals" over mistakes piled to the sky, but I'm also left with a swath of the population that continually lets me down in fights where it really counts. This is an election where young people REALLY could have made a difference. I think Micheal Moore is right, when you ask people questions on the issues (should gays get some more rights, should we do stem cell research, etc) most Americans are Democratic, and yet they disapeared right when we needed them.

So again, there's an outside chance that we could squeak this one by and Kerry could pull out a win, but we shouldn't be in this situation. We should be winning by large margains and I'm disgusted that people who agree with us on the issues at hand couldn't manage to help us in our darkest hour.

November 02, 2004

Election 2004

Well it's at least another hour before we start hearing anything real on this thing, and I'm about to go crazy. I actually didn't think I'd get this jittery, and yet I can't get any work done because I can't stop turning the TV on and off seeing if anything's happened. I think I need a drink...

Also, I hope you all got out there and voted. I cast a proud vote for Kerry and all the Dems on my ticket. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping, and wishing I was on the West Coast so it wasn't so late by the time I find anything out. Later all...

November 01, 2004

Big Day Tomorrow Huh?

So I've been off the radar for quite a while, but I needed to pop in to remind you all that, yes, there is a rather large election tomorrow. Your asses had better all vote. I'll try to muster the strength to post something else, but I think I'll probably end up just kicking it all out tomorrow in a huge, mega even, election day buffet.

American nightmare

Gary Kamiya explains why he calls Bush `one of hte worst in the history of the republic' on Salon:

Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of the whole sorry chapter has been the collapse of national memory and accountability. One outrage follows the next with dreamlike regularity, lies about aluminum tubes to 9/11 revelations to Ahmed Chalabi to Joseph Wilson to cooked intel to Abu Ghraib to illegal detentions to lost explosives, and nothing ever happens, no one is ever punished, everything is for the best in the best of all possible six-gun-brandishing worlds. In an age of reality-TV war, where nothing is asked of Americans except that they rage and fear on color-coded command, the death of responsibility offers a happy ending to all -- except for those killed in Iraq.

There's a lot more in this powerful lament to the utter disaster this administration has been, for both our nation and our world.

October 29, 2004

Renew the Fairness Doctrine

A project of MMA. The Fairness Doctrine, enshrined as law, would require equal air time for all sides of a political or social issue to present their case before the public. How could a democrat (note the small `d') not support this?

October 28, 2004

Faith, Reason, and Morality

I have a couple of things to say about this. It's going to be long, which hopefully will make up for the past few days' silence.

First, you should read it for the perspective it gives -- at this point completely unsurprising -- of Bush and the sort of religious beliefs he holds:

But the basic idea is that, once you surrender to God, divine guidance is palpable. "If you obey God in the first thing he shows you, then he instantly opens up the next truth to you," Chambers [an early 20th century Scottish theologian, whose homilies Bush reads every morning] writes.

And you shouldn't let your powers of reflection get in the way. Chambers lauds Abraham for preparing to slay his son at God's command without, as the Bible put it, conferring "with flesh and blood." Chambers warns: "Beware when you want to 'confer with flesh and blood' or even your own thoughts, insights, or understandings - anything that is not based on your personal relationship with God. These are all things that compete with and hinder obedience to God."

Once you're on the right path, setbacks that might give others pause needn't faze you. As Chambers noted in last Sunday's reading, "Paul said, in essence, 'I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn't matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.' " Indeed, setbacks may have a purpose, Chambers will tell Mr. Bush this Sunday: "God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as his saint to get you in direct contact with himself." Faith "by its very nature must be tested and tried."

Now that I've got your attention, let's talk about Abraham.

Specifically, what Soren Kierkegaard , one of the first philosophers universally regarded as an Existentialist, had to say about Abraham. Kierkegaard radically opposed himself to the moral-political-religious system of Georg Hegel (those of you who've studied some Marx will have heard Hegel's name before). In Hegel's system, the world was supremely rational, governed by reason and logic slowly but inevitably triumphing over absurdity, coming together into one rational community. Western, meaning Christian, moral, religious, and political systems could be reached using reason. Kiekegaard, on the other hand, embraced individualism and the absurd. In Fear and Trembling, he considered the biblical story of Abraham, a man ordered by God to sacrifice his only son. Kierkegaard pointed out that Abraham's behavior -- preparing, albeit with great reluctance, to sacrifice his son, until at the last moment God rewards his faith and devotion with a substitute sacrifice -- is simultaneously completely irrational, completely amoral, and completely Christian. How would Abraham explain his actions to the fellow members of his community? Or to his wife? "God talks to me! And he told me I had to kill my son! It's not my fault! God told me to!" He'd sound crazy. Clearly not the type of person Hegel has in mind.

And yet this man is held in such esteem that three of the world's major religions are named for him (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are called the Abrahamic religions). Kierkegaard concludes that Hegel's characterization of Christianity is completely backwards: faith isn't something you arrive at objectively, using reason; it is a passionate, subjective, and ultimately absurd individual commitment, one that must be constantly renewed. Furthermore, a Kierkegaardian, Existentialist Christian could not view morality as public: one comes to know what to do through one's faith, not through the standards of reason or the community. This doesn't mean that the Kierkegaardian Christian believes she hears voices telling her what's right or what's wrong; that's incorrect both because the Kierkegaardian Christian doesn't think she's hearing voices of God or angels telling her what to do, at least not unless she's been profoundly blessed, and because she wouldn't apply the words `right' or `wrong', with their connotations of a public system of morals, to a transient, personal understanding of how she should behave.

That is to say, for this sort of pietistic, individualistic sort of religion, there can be no moral system. Everything, even one's desire for a secure sense of right and wrong, must be sacrificed and placed, faithfully, in the hands of God.

Let that sink in for a moment. I'll wait here while you take five minutes.

Kierkegaard did add that this was such a demanding task -- to live one's life devoted to the absurd, in the face of all reason and pressure from the community -- that only a very few people could ever manage it (Nietzsche made a similar point, about how most people could not bear the personal responsibility to accept the transvaluation of all values, and hence public morality was necessary for the public). What about all those devoted evangelicals who live in our country today, then? What about Bush and his rock solid faith? You can read the piece in the New York Times, or I think you can imagine what I think of him, even with my own Existentialist tendencies.

Climacus [one of the psuedonyms under which Kierkegaard wrote] hopes to deceive readers into the truth of Christianity by virtue of an absurd representation of Christianity's ineffability; the Christian God is represented as absolutely transcendent of human categories yet is absurdly presented as a personal God with the human capacities to love, judge, forgive, teach, etc.

October 26, 2004

In which I continue to dislike David Brooks

Has he just started writing op-eds about himself?

And minus a million points for the Nietzsche reference. You don't get to be a complete tool and reference Nietzsche.

Homie Don't Play This

Eminem seems to have joined the Reality Based Community with his new music video. MTV is evidently a little squeemish about playing it, but hey, that's what the internet is for.

Via Pandagon.

October 25, 2004

Surprise, October Surprise!

Well, since it makes sense that any October Surprises, the last minute stories/stunts candidates pull to try and take the wheels off the other guy, would be coming by about now, it seems both campaigns have their final big guns.

On the Kerry side we have the story (not linked to a particular story since the entire front page is about this shit at this point) Dan mentioned earlier about the 350 tons of explosives stolen from under Bush's nose in Iraq. That's right, TONS. I could come up with all sorts of examples of stuff you could do with that, but I think you all understand that it really comes down to blowing up LOTS of shit, pretty much all of which will be ours. I guess they really didn't think things were exciting enough over there and decided to help the other guys out a bit.

On the Bush side we have this. Really, that's their big gun. Kerry said he talked to all of the Security Council and it turns out to not have been all of them. Conservatives are fighting tooth and nail against the common sense that this doesn't matter in the slightest.

Let's assume everything about this story is true. John Kerry did not, in fact, meet with the entire Security Council. I'll even go further and assume he didn't meet with any of them. So Kerry lied in order to puff himself up and make himself seem more important than a Massachusetts Senator really is on the world stage. Ok, I don't like lying as a general rule, so that's a negative which I mark up against Kerry.

To me it just shows that he's a politician. As has been said before, Bush has plenty of exagerations throughout his campaign, let alone his term, but none of that really matters. What matters (at least to an extent that overwhelms everything else to me) here are two things: What policies do the candidates support? and What kind of record do they, and especially the sitting president, have?

Bush has a terrible record as President. He's made policy mistakes that have cost the country a lot of money and lives. He supports policies for the second term which seem to continue things as they are, if not worse. Do I like Kerry lying? No, not at all and I wish he wouldn't. Eight days from an election am I going to spend ANY amount of time thinking about chaning my vote over this? Jesus God no. It is AN issue, but so far removed from the other more important issues that it's laughable.

Less Boobies, More Bombs

To accompany Ezra's thoughts on the possibility of a draft all you folks still young enough to get the call up, here's the funtime craziness you might expect to find in your desert paradise.

Man Down, Dude!

Chief Justice William Rehnquist is undergoing sugury on thyroid cancer today. Evidently it's extremely treatable, with a 90% success rate, but with almost half the court above seventy this sure makes you think about the next 4-8 years and the possible make up of the court, no?

Hot Or Not...But For Congress

I'm sure this isn't really new, but as NBC says, it's new to me. So here it is. Some interesting choices there, especially people that got "support" from across the isle and people that had to rely on their own camp to get to the top.

As If We Needed Another Reason For Logging More!

The BC '04 guys have a new commercial (Scroll halfway down). All I can say is that if this was the best idea for a TV spot they could come up with this close to the end of the campaign, somebody should get their money back. And the BC '04 folks have the audacity to claim it's Kerry that's running the scare campaign.

And, of course, the internet folks have come up with their clever responses here and here.

I like math

This is a nifty little story -- asking physicists what their favourite equations are. A bunch of them, naturally, are physics ones, and I have no idea what they mean, but Euler's equation, the Pythagorean theorem, Fourier Transforms, the formula for the circumference of a circle, and the Riemann zeta function, are all pure math.

Let me run down the left-hand side of this, for those of you who don't remember calculus (possibly because you haven't taken it yet). One of Euler's many, many achievements was discovering that exp(i*theta) (that's "e to the theta") is equal to cos(theta)+i*sin(theta). So if you plug pi radians in for theta (that's halfway around the circle, or 180 degrees), you'll get that exp(i*pi)=-1. Then add 1 to it, and voila, 0. Euler's eqution isn't so mysterious, once you've done a couple of semesters of calculus, but it still looks cool.

The national security President

I finally did get one reason for voting for Bush besides abortion from one of my conservative friends -- "I believe Bush will keep this country safer than Kerry". Details were not forthcoming.

Olivia, what do you think of this? This isn't Bill Clinton's supposed lax attitude on terrorism; this isn't the UN somehow keeping US soldiers from doing their job. This is the rank incompetence of the people you want keeping you safe for the next four years.

Atrios has the response from the Kerry campaign. Note he mentions Condoleeza Rice, the National Security Advisor. She is the first National Security Advisor since the position came into existence sometime in the twentieth century (I just woke up and I'm terrible with dates, someone else look it up) to campaign for her boss' re-election.

October 24, 2004

The Election Made Simple

Abu Aardvark: The Election Made Simple

Via Pandagon

Our health care sucks

Too tired. Go read. This is one of the big problems I have with Kerry -- which won't stop me from voting for him. Bush's pretense of a health care plan is even more craptastic, of course. Via TMW.

October 23, 2004

God and Sex

Some of you know I come down very harsly on Biblical arguments against homosexuality, ie, "It's bad because it says so in the Bible".
Precisely because it involves the kind of cherry-picking Kristof is talking about here: if you're going to condemn something, or not, just because the Bible says so, you have to take the whole book, all at once, and there's a lot of stuff in there that's pretty appalling. I haven't been hesitant to call such cherry-picking Christians hypocrites in the past.

In fact, the most obvious lesson from Sodom is that when you're attacked by an angry mob, the holy thing to do is to offer up your virgin daughters.

100 facts and 1 opinion

Via Kos, 101 solid reasons, with citations, Bush has just got to go. HTML and PDF

Why Bush can't "win" the "war" on terror[ism]

I think Jesse over at Pandagon has it pretty much right: "war" is just a completely inappropriate point of view on this terror[ism] thing. We can't fight a war on terror[ism], or even a war against a certain species of international terrorists, because it's like trying to shoot a tornado. If we're really concerned about this, we need to stop doing the shit that gets people to hate us so much, eg, not invade sovereign nations because they're a shitty place to live/might be a threat to us at some point in the future, maybe.

Why did I go into academia?

This pretty much sums it up.

October 21, 2004

Republicans make my head hurt

I just don't get it. Why? Why do you believe these people?! They're lying to you!

According to the report, this reality gap is something new in American life. 'So why do Bush supporters show such a resistance to accepting dissonant information?' it asks. 'While it is normal for people to show some resistance, the magnitude of the denial goes beyond the ordinary. Bush supporters have succeeded in suppressing awareness of the findings of a whole series of high-profile reports about prewar Iraq that have been blazoned across the headlines of newspapers and prompted extensive, high-profile and agonizing reflection. The fact that a large portion of Americans say they are unaware that the original reasons that the US took military action -- and for which Americans continue to die on a daily basis -- are not turning out to be valid, are probably not due to a simple failure to pay attention to the news.'

The analysis says that the roots of this denial could lie in the trauma of 9/11 and people's desire to hold on to their image of Bush as a 'capable protector.' It offers no guidance, though, on how ordinary Republicans might be coaxed back to reality.

And while 'The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters' may be perversely satisfying to Democrats in its confirmation of blue-state prejudices, it carries a pretty disturbing question for all rational Americans: How can arguments based on fact prevail in a nation where so many people know so little?

Twelve days to go

and things are looking pretty damn good, I'd say. Note that no single `outlined' state has enough EVs to bring Bush up to 270, but there are plenty of combinations of two that do it, and even more combinations that will bring Kerry below 270. So I'm still going to predict that there won't be a President-elect until 2 December, and even later if Kerry has an advantage early on in the vote-counting.

Two Jons (from the Chron)

One hosts the Daily Show, and the other writes opinion pieces. Me, I'm fans of both.

My life is about to get stupid busy, so don't expect to see lots of posts for a while. Meaning the next six weeks. Unless I get sick of being productive and start procrastinating. Then you'll see a dozen rants of insane detail against David Brooks.

October 20, 2004

Foul play

We haven't covered this yet, so I thought I'd give it a mention.

The firm of Sproul and Associates has been involved in all kinds of election-related fraud this year: they were involved in trying to get Nader on the ballot in Arizona, and there are allegations, widely regarded was entirely plausible, that Sproul has been destroying Democrats' voter registration forms before they're forwarded from the Sproul employees who collected them to the local election officials.

Let me say that one more time: this company has been employed by the Republican party to masquerade as neutral election registrars, and rip up and toss the registration forms of Democrats. Add to this the shit with felon lists and other ways Republican operatives have been known to harass minority voters, and you have a despicable party organization.

And Democrats are considered whiners for raising hell over this.

Update: Kos, in his latest column in the Guardian, surveys the debacles going on in several states, and provide links where you can get more info.

October 19, 2004

Tom Tomorrow does the work, so I don't have to

or, Sozialismus' one-person campaign to get David Brooks fired by bitching about him here, where no-one will read it, part MMMXXQXXKVVI.2

October 18, 2004

Child's Play 2k4

Penny Arcade is my favorite web comic of all time but last year they went above and beyond the realm of cool when they created Child's Play. It started as just a simple wishlist on part of the site for toys and video games which they would donate to the Seattle Children's Hospital. $250,000 in cash and toys later from their dedicated readers and they really showed what geeks are really like.

Well it's another year and time for Child's Play 2.0. This year they're better organized and have set it up to benefit not one but five Children's Hospitals around the country. So if you've got a few dollars around, or will soon as is the case with me, you might think about dropping a couple for some sick kids. Not everything is expensive, so don't worry, and being a poor student myself I'm not going to be dropping tons of money. And even if you're not able to buy anything yourself, everyone that reads this (or the many many updates I'm planning on doing between now and the holidays) should tell everyone they know about Child's Play and try to get some word of mouth going. I have a feeling this year is going to make last year look small.

Which one is the family values party?

Conservatives equated Mary Cheney's sexual orientation with abortion, adultery, alcoholism, and now obesity

Fair warning!

[18-10-2004 17:56:16] Cut Bhenist: but yes, i need to think of a way to get linked on the main page of a major blog

[18-10-2004 17:57:07] there's nothing we can't face except for bunnies: kidnap atrios' cat

All Thanks To Me, No Doubt

My main man, whom I volunteer for, Joe Hoeffel is closing fast on Arlen Specter. As a point of reference, somewhere around three weeks ago we were down by twenty points. This drastic change could be due to the lots of other fine dedicated folks working like crazy for the campaign day and night, but I like to think it's probably me.

Joe's problem all along has really only been that nobody outside his district knew who he was, so now that he's been getting out there and meeting people, and getting spots on TV, he's rocketing to within spitting distance of an incumbent of over twenty years. It's really going to come down to the wire on this one but as recently as a couple weeks ago people didn't think we had a chance so anything's possible.

Of Youths And Drafts

Andrew Sullivan (who either doesn't have permalinks or hides them better than anyone on the interweb) finds some interesting polling data showing, unsurprisingly, that Kerry is killing Bush among voters under 30. More interestingly, a third of those youths, and closer to a half with the younger ones, think that the Iraq War will lead to a draft. Despite the fact that his current policies have left our troops are stretched thin as it is, Bush still not only says that he won't instate a draft, but that Kerry, with his "get our troops out of Iraq as soon as we can" strategy, is MORE likely than Bush to instate a draft.

Even though that doesn't make any kind of sense, Atrios(whose permalink for this story seems to be busted) gets word from an anonymous source that the Bush plan to avoid a draft is to extend the reservist mobilization from 2 years to 5. Atrios said it best, "5 years. Wow."

The Point Of Marionette Sex...No, Not THAT Point

Drew over at Terminus has posted his review of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's, of "Southpark" fame, newest creation, "Team America: World Police". In it he argues that the film suffers because "it doesn't believe in anything," but even though I have yet to see the film myself, after reading this article at Salon I have a hard time believing that they weren't trying to make a final point, even if it's possible that they don't get it across as well as they should. I'll let you all know what I think when I see it, and I know you await with baited breath.

Parker and Stone's political views seem to revolve around everyone chilling out. To that end, they rail against anyone that gets high and mighty about anything whether it's a lefty complaining about America's role in the world or a righty complaining about some social issue they want the government to crack down on. I think Parker and Stone recognize that an overabundance of arrogance can be a bad thing, hence the wonderfully titled theme to the movie "America, Fuck Yeah!", but given that they both grew up on the underside of the middle class and have ended up rich are very quick to get defensive when they think someone is forgetting that America is a pretty bitchin' place to live.

Of course, I think their view is wrong and I think the left has a lot more worthwhile things to say than the right, but I still think they believe in something.

I'm A Proud Member Of The Reality-Based Community

Matty Y and Josh Marshall talk about how one interesting problem we face this election cycle is that so many different groups oppose Bush that it's been hard to establish any kind of group identity. Well thanks an anonymous Bushie advisor we seem to finally have a banner to gather under. Matty Y's even linked to some shirts if you're in the market for a politico-t.

But They Provide Synergy!

Pandagon found a great article about how salaries for corporate CEOs have been balooning for years while salaries for workers have been shrinking.

To keep this political, which candidate is running on a "fight for the middle class" ticket and which candidate is running on a "trickle down economics is best for the little guy" ticket. His dad had it right, it's voodoo economics and it's a thinly veiled excuse to line the pockets of their buddies at the expense of their workers.

And to echo Ezra's feelings, "This country could do with a bit of class warfare", to which I would only add, "There's nothing wrong with fighting a class war if you're getting shelled."

Sinclair Megapost

I'm not sure if we've covered this and I'm too lazy to scroll through the page to check so here's a brief history of the Sinclair controversy and some new stuff too (a lot of links come from Josh Marshall, who's been at the front of this story, but each link is to a different story):

Ok, so Sinclair Broadcasting owns a buch of local TV stations and has given a bunch of money to Republicans. They recently decided to order their stations to show a movie from the Swifties in lieu of their regular broadcasting schedule.

Well it's starting to look like the tide has turned on Sinclair. They were warned that putting politics ahead of business was asking for trouble, and it looks like not listening has put the hurt on their stock. Potentially worse, if Michael Powell (Chairman of the FCC and Colin Powell's son for those that didn't know) manages to put politics aside for a second and listens to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, Sinclair may be required to play an equal amount of time with pro-Kerry messages which would defeat the very reason they wanted to push the Swifty movie, to give Bush an edge in the media. Granted, this probably won't happen given Powell's history at the FCC, but when you have your own employees speaking out against you you're in trouble. Finally, a concerted effort by the internet community to call companies which advertise on Sinclair stations and complain has started to be yet another thorn in Sinclair's side.

My advice is to find any undecided voter and make them watch this. Nothing the Swifties or Sinclair can say will mean anything after you see that.

So Would This Be Quarter Life?

After much ever-so-exciting corporate drama and speculation Half-Life 2 has gone gold and is off to reproduction. I don't have a computer that can run this beast, so hats off to you gents and ladies with a big expensive gaming rig.

October 17, 2004

Buffy for Kerry!

Joss Whedon, creator of the teevee version of Buffy, is supporting Kerry-Edwards.

I don't normally give a crap about celebrity endorsements, but Buffy is one of the greatest teevee shows of all time, and Joss Whedon is just cool. It's nice to know he's on our side.

Update: Some scholarlyish stuff on the current political situation and Buffy. The season they're talking about was 2002-03, nd would've been filmed during the runup the Iraq war.

Download Crazy

One more download for the day, then it's time for studying the ever-so-fun law books. This is a bit late but Season 3 of Red vs Blue has started and you can get the first episode of the new season here. It might be a bit hard for people who haven't seen the first two seasons to jump into now, but for those of you with access to me I'm either going to find a way to get the first two seasons onto my computer soon or I'll just buy the DVDs when I have money again.

Another Great Download

Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry is campaign propaganda. The easiest definition on of propaganda is "information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause". Obviously, since this movie was made with the purpose of supporting Kerry and defending him from the Swifties it meets this rather low standard.

That being said, I thought at the outset of the movie that it would be pretty boring propaganda; that it would essentially be a Kerry commercial that just lasted an hour and a half. In reality the movie sets into relief the antiwar movement of which Kerry was a major part and is frequently both terribly moving and enlightening to a person of my age that has never really gotten a feel for what things were like then. Now surely I'm no expert now on the period or the geopolitical events of the day, but this was the first time I heard the story being told directly and almost exclusively by the people who were the part of it.

As a Kerry commercial it's quite effective as well. It's amazing how well spoken Kerry was at 27 and even more amazing how poignient some of his comments made against Vietnam are in relation to our current situation with Iraq specifically and with terrorism generally. If everyone could see this movie Kerry wouldn't have to explain Vietnam anymore, he wouldn't have to respond to the despicable Swifties that have dogged him ever since he dared utter a negative word about the war in Vietnam, and he certainly wouldn't have to explain concepts like "global test" in the face of talking heads who just love to say that it's something it isn't.

To that end, you may download the movie here, though I'm not a hundered percent sure this is sanctioned by the movies producers. I think the best way to do this is download and watch the movie now, and then try to get to the theaters to see it or to buy the DVD when you can just so you're throwing some money their way.

I downloaded the movie with BitTorrent and I think I averaged over 300kb/s and it took about an hour to get the whole thing, so I definitely recomend going that route.

What The Hell

As long as I'm going Download Crazy I might as well go all the way. I'm not sure if I ever linked to this, but it's important that those of you who like funny things see this, so if I already posted this, well I'm just so sorry your lazy ass had to read two damn sentences more than you had to. Now quit your whining ya baby.


The NYT's ombudsman cedes his column space today to critics from the left-of-center (a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia) and hard right (a lawyer who wrote a book about how the Times is biased), to talk about whether the Times demonstrates a bias in its campaign coverage.

The argument from the left-of-center guy? The Times holds Kerry to a higher standard, and often works to find slightly incorrect or misleading statements by Kerry to contrast with blatant falsehoods made, whether deliberate or not, by the Bush administration. That is, the Times has a slight bias against John Kerry in that it is slightly biased in favor of his opponent.

Seems pretty straightforward.

The argument from the hard-right guy? The Times' articles on social issues, eg, the status of gay Americans, taken as a whole, present the point of view of most mainstream Americans, and neglect that of the minority radical right, eg, outright homophobes. (My paraphrase, not his.) This is a campaign issue, and hence the Times is biased against Bush. Note that the question at hand, dealing with campaign coverage, is never addressed. Also, two Republican party hacks who happen to have regular Op-Ed spaces in the Times have alternate readings of the Iraqi WMD inspectors' report that have been neglected.

This is the same sort of shit movement conservatives have been spouting about the media for forty years. It's where their emphasis on `balance', as opposed to objectivity or a pursuit of truth, came from: the mainstream media don't present the views of an extreme minority of Americans, so there's a lack of balance. The solution is to waste time giving everyone with a unique viewpoint the chance to rave as incoherently as they wish, while neglecting the data that might support (and, more often, undermine) those views.

My grandma doesn't have to worry

My mom doesn't have to worry.

The generation that has to worry about Social Security? Ours. In about thirty years.

Privatizing social security will require either (a) a dramatic cut in benefits paid to people currently supported on it, or (b) a dramatic infusion of cash from some other source than payroll taxes. When asked this question specifically during the third debate, Bush talked about `higher returns'. (Note that talking about `returns' is misleading, as social security is not an investment system, and even if you do look at it in those terms, its average return is pretty comparable with the average long-term return on stocks.)

The only danger the social security system faces today is from the free market fanatics in the Republican party.

Just give me ONE reason

I've been trying to figure out for months now just what the appeal of Bush is to certain people: young, slightly socially conservative but certainly not closed-minded, devoutly religious but not intolerantly so, and decidedly not from that small percentage of the economic strata that's actually benefitting from Bush's economic `policies'. This would be a good working description of my friends who are Bush supporters. Thus far I haven't gotten a real answer -- they might say something vague about abortion or not trusting Kerry, but I can't get specifics from them.

What I'm afraid of is that it really just comes down to the way this administration, propped up by the Republican spin machine, maintains an attitude of infallibility. 9/11 scared the shit out of many Americans; could it simply be that this uncertainty and fear has lead to them internalizing the meme that a lack of complete faith in George W. Bush could lead to disaster?

October 16, 2004

Pandagon: Totally Bereft Of Ideas

Jesse over at Pandagon on David Brooks. Be sure to read the comments.


Listen. I know I'm prone to excitement about things I find on the internet, and I know they don't always exactly appeal to everyone. Just please, listen to me this time.

Go here. Download the most amazing clip ever. Discuss. I was literally squirming around in my seat gasping every couple seconds while watching this. Jon Stewart has ball of steel.

Yellow ribbon

A good friend's fiance is in Kuwait right now, headed for Mosul.

Be safe, Quentin. And come home soon. She needs you, more than even you can know.

October 15, 2004

John F-in' Kerry!


(thanks Alex)

I laughed for thirty seconds straight

As many of you probably know, I have been veggie for over six years.
And had a vegan roommate for 14 of the past 16 months.
So I derived some amusement from today's Penny Arcade.

October 14, 2004


The instant polls are in and it looks like a pretty decisive Kerry win, even in the face of most pundits acknowledging that this was Bush's best performance. I'm not going to give long paragraphs of analysis because that's been done better at other sites. Here are just some bullet point thoughts:

*Everyone's talking about yet another Bush lie. Who are these people that they think they can get away with blatant and easily fact checked lies? Really, everyone in the room I was watching the debates in exploded in disgust the moment he said that he didn't recall saying that he didn't care about finding OBL because we all knew he had said exactly that. Lo and behold, immediately after the debate news organizations had already dug up the quote and now Bush is looking at another two weeks of networks playing that clip over and over. Republicans argue that Bush isn't stupid, and while he's not the borderline retard that some liberals think, the man really is dumb to make mistakes this simple.

*Kerry talked about Mary Cheney when talking about gay marriage. Republicans are "outraged" and say he "outed" her. Truth is, she's been publically out for a long time, since at least the 2000 campaign, and she's been active in gay issues as well he dad's campaign. She's a public figure and she's fair game, as is the terribly hypocritical position taken by BC '04

* What the hell was up with Bush's laugh? He was seriously channelling the Penguin from the Adam West Batman.

* For a domestic policy debate, there was a conspicuous lack of domestic policy.

* Bush actually did pretty well compared to his first two showings. He didn't seem completely out of it and he managed not to yell at the moderator. Kerry just out played his ass. Kerry mentioned stats, Bush could only dredge up that crap about Kerry voting to raise taxes 200 times. Does anyone buy that bullshit? Does anyone really think, "Yeah, I remember the ten times last year my taxes got raised. Kerry's fault huh? Better vote W.!" Kerry applied his stats to crucial battlground states to show how Bush's term has been crappy. Bush didn't even mention specific places.

Kerry's got a plan, Bush has got four years of bad track record and nothing different to turn it around. Kerry swept the debates and has the momentum now to push through to November 2. My confidence in Kerry and his chances just keeps growing.

So Many Ways To Kill Whores

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has also Gone Gold for the PS2. No word yet on when Xbox and PC users will get to check out the carnage.

Update: Here's a preview of the game if you're wanting to know what's new and cool about this Prostitute Murder simulator

Getting Ripped Off Sense Tingling

So Spiderman 2.5 is coming out, after the regular version of course, and it includes all kinds of special features like deleted scenes and stuff. The only problem is that there aren't any REAL deleted scenes, so Sony's making Sam Raimi film extra scenes just for the DVD. Raimi says that he doesn't really feel like the movie needs extra scenes, but Sony says they can make more money this way.

So this is just a heads up. If you're all about showing greedy corporate pigs that you're an independent thinker and that they won't swindle you out of your money make sure you buy the regular version of Spiderman 2 and avoid this blatant money grab. Me, I'll probably buy both versions because I loves me some Spidey.

Going Midevil On Vader's Ass

Here are some pics from Episode 3, post Obiwan/Anakin rumble. Dude got his ass fucked up! I guess I'd cover myself in a black plastic suit if my other option was walking around like that.

The Biggest News Ever

Halo 2 has gone gold! Rejoice, for the Second Coming is upon us! Repent and ye shall be saved!

P.S. "Gone Gold" refers to the burning of the very first finalized DVD of the game, which is called the Gold Master. From the Gold Master all copies are made. The only step after a game has gone gold is to make millions of copies and ship them to stores, which takes 3-4 weeks, which ties in perfectly to the November 9th launch date for the game. In 3-4 weeks I'll be blowing your whack asses up online.

October 12, 2004

While I've Been Out

So the last week I've been focusing on writing a brief for a Moot Court competition/class, which explains my absence from the ol' Site o' Love. Debates have happened and they were great and all, but ironically I've read so much about them I don't feel like talking about it anymore. Long story short, Bush Co. lied and the media really seemed to have a good time doing their job, you know, fact checking them.

Superman died today though, which saddens a nerd like me to no end. Kurtz over at PvP has the best memorial I've seen, coming up in the next post.

Edit: Evidently I can't figure out how to post the picture, but just hit up the link up there to see it.

October 11, 2004

Oh, and Saudi Arabia sucks ass, too

Saudi women can't vote, run in elections

Some of the oh-so-depressing "high"lights:

Some women considered the move yet another indignity in a country where they need their husbands' permission to study, travel or work. But others said they wouldn't trust themselves to judge whether a candidate is more than just a handsome face....

Many women in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, have balked at getting the ID cards -- introduced three years ago -- because the photographs would show their faces unveiled.

Saudi women have limited freedoms. Without written permission from a male guardian, they may not travel, get an education or work. Regardless of permissions, they are not allowed to drive, mix with men in public or leave home without covering themselves with black cloaks, called abayas....

"Women are capable of voting and making the right choices," said Ahmed, a 22-year-old marketing graduate. "Why aren't men and women equal in this issue?"

"We aren't," countered her friend Sarah Muhammad. "We have so little interaction with men that we will vote with our emotions, choosing candidates for their looks and sweet talk rather than for what they can deliver."

Rima Khaled, 20, said Saudi women are not used to playing a role in public life, and many social and traditional restraints should first be removed before they can.

"What's the point of voting?" she asked. "Even if we did vote, we would go home to the men in our lives who will have the last say in whatever we do."

In its way, this is even more depressing than Osama; at least the women portrayed in that film tried to oppose the status quo.

October 10, 2004

Where have I been?

Given smooth manifolds $M$ and $N$, $T(M\times N)\cong TM\times TN$.

Proof. Let $p : T(M\times N)\to TM\times TN$ given by $p(x,X) =
((\pi_M(x),X_M),(\pi_N(x),X_N))$, where $\pi_M$ is the projection
$M\times N\to M$, $X_m(f)=X(f\circ \pi_M)$ for $f:M\to \R$, and
$\pi_N, X_N$ are defined analogously. $p^{-1}$ is given as
follows: Choose coordinates $x_1,\ldots,x_m$ on $M$, and
$y_1,\ldots,y_n$ on $N$; note $x_1,\ldots,x_m,y_1,\ldots,y_n$ are
coordinates on $M\times N$. Then $p^{-1}$ takes $((x,X),(y,Y))$ to
\[\left((x,y),\sum_{i=1}^m X(x_i) \frac{\partial}{\partial x_i} +
\sum_{j=1}^n Y(y_j) \frac{\partial}{\partial y_j}\right)\] by
Lemma 2.3. Since $p$ and $p^{-1}$ are both clearly continuous, $p$
is the desired diffeomorphism.\qed

(Plus 5 other problems like this, and 120 pages of John Locke to read.)

someone had to say something.

Of all of the political heavyweights that write in here, I'm a little surprised that no one made any comments on the last debate. So, despite my hard-fought status as the least vocal member of Team Blog and my normal reluctance to engage in political matters, I'm going to kick in my half-a-cent. I edited a little bit, but these observations are cross-posted: sorry for the sloppy seconds. You'll get the exclusive next time.

Honestly, I'm not much of a politics person. I understand its importance, but ultimately I find it frustrating - and I'm trying to minimize the amount of frustration I encounter on a daily basis. That said, the politically-related statements in this next post are the observations of an amateur, and should be considered as such.

Such a nice disclaimer and I'm not even planning on saying much about it.

Anyway, I think Chuckles did much better on this debate than on the first. This, however, is not saying much. If I was evaluating this the same as a traditional debate, I would have to side with Kerry... and that's even if this debate was about fudge. He's just a better public speaker than Bush. I was never that good at the art of debate (anxiety issues notwithstanding), but if you put me at a podium squaring off against a fourth-grader, I'd eat his ass. There is just little competition there. Again, this applies more to the first debate than the second.

I especially liked the response to the last question, as it allowed me to reach new plateaus in political frustration. I think that a large part of being a good person (not to mention a good political leader) is the foresight to recognize when a mistake was made, the ability to admit it, and the desire to rectify that mistake. While I understand that one of the qualities that some people admire in Bush is his willingness to rigidly stick to a plan despite its outcome, I can't fully support that. People who claim that they don't make mistakes are people who refuse to evolve.

You know, he could have even said that he was unable to cite a specific example... but that there have been situations that while he feels that he made the right decision, in retrospect there could have been a better way of achieving it. Even if he wanted to choose an example, he could have gone with something other than the war. Nope. Nothing. No concession.

In Bush's defense, it was a pretty loaded question. I guess my problem is that it could have been handled so much better. But we all know that wouldn't happen, right?

Other random notes:
- Bush's reponse on the environment made me laugh.
- Kerry's response on abortion: very on point. Didn't really answer the question, but it was probably one of the best responses on the topic that I've heard.
- Haters? You can't use that word if it applies to you. Put the Hip Hop-tionary down.
- Even though I wasn't really drinking (I left that and the bong hits to other members of my viewing circle), I am grateful for whomever came up with the presidential debate drinking game. Don't get it twisted, though; that game is purely designed to hurt people. If I was really playing, that thing would have had me on the floor babbling to myself inside the first hour. It is even worse than the Saved By The Bell drinking game.

I look forward to the day where we can settle presidential debates with emcee battles. That way, when someone is obviously relying on clutch words like "flip-flopper" and "Poland", he gets booed, kicked out of the club and with a little luck, pistol-whipped by a good samaritan.

Song of the Day: Sage Francis - Slow Down Gandhi (11MB)
This happens to be a song from his upcoming album, being released on Epitaph in Feburary.

P.S. - If you have not heard the new Handsome Boy Modeling School sampler, stalk that shit on the internerd NOW. There are four songs on there and they're all fantastic. One of the tracks is a revisited version of "Rock and Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This)" from their first album and the section featuring Linkin Park's resident screamer is consistently knocking me flat on my ass. Something about those strings. By the way, I have a feeling that kid is going to blow out his vocal cords any day now. If I'm feeling nice, I'll dump it someplace and provide a link.

October 08, 2004

Life in the Dar

First, for those of you who didn't take an Asian Studies class: Dar al-Islam (and, yes, I realize I'm using the term incorrectly).

Anyway. More depressing shit from southwest Asia. As I recall, honor killings are also prolific in Afghanistan and Pakistan (no surprise), sub-Saharan Africa (again, no surprise), and India -- because fundamentalist Hinduism is just as misogynist as other fundamentalist religions.

Here's one of my `favorite' Bible verses: `If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he ath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days' -- Deuteronomy 22:28-9

October 07, 2004

Bush lied and over 1,000 U.S. servicemen are dead.

So, the latest news from the, is that President Bush has finally conceded, in the face of a scathing report from Charles Duelfer, chief U.S. weapons hunter, that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, but that we were still right in going to war.

I would like to see him tell that to Lila Lipscomb (because I just saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last night, excellent movie). Or any other of the 1,000-plus families of American servicemen that have died in Iraq.

It is my hope that John Kerry brings this up, somehow, in Friday's debate and reminds the American public that President Bush has led one-thousand servicemen to their deaths, because of a lie. Maybe Bush will respond that "Iraq is hard work" thirteen times (like in the last debate) because he doesn't really seem capable of constructing a fresh thought.

October 06, 2004


I saw Osama this weekend, and with Kristof's column today on the situation of women in Afghanistan, I thought I'd say:

This makes me sick. Literally. During the last five minutes of Osama, I was seriouslly worried that I'd have to hurdle over four of my friends to get to the bathroom in time. Fortunately I made it through to the credits without a premature recycling of my pizza; but that doesn't take care of the bigger problem.

We had a chance to do something about the shithole that was and is Afghanistan. All we've done is replace Thomas Hobbes' state of nature (that's the `nasty, brutish, and short' one) with Thomas Hobbes' state of nature, a sham election, and fiction-based triumphalism.

And we wonder why people outside the Global North think we're a nation of arrogant assholes?

October 05, 2004

Princes Charming and Darkness

Just a reminder that Edwards and Cheney are duking it out tonight. Starts at 9 Eastern, lasts for 90 minutes, same
as last Thursdays. Kerry and Bush have round two Friday night.

Star Wars Apologists Gone Wild

The crew over at Mathew Yglesias are trying to make Star Wars make sense which, needless to say, is quite the undertaking.

Here are some of the problems:

1) Anakin looks like he's going to be somewhere around his late teens at the end of Episode 3, which is when he should become Darth Vader and he looks like he's around 60 at the end of Jedi when Luke takes off his helmet. Luke, on the other hand looks like he's in his late teens at the start of Episode 4 when we meet him, so it seems that there's a missing 20 years.

2) The Jedi seem pretty on top of things during the prequels (to the point where even junk dealers on a backward ass planet like Tatooine know how their powers work), but by the time Episode 4 comes around, people like Han Solo not only think of Jedis as something of a joke but also don't even believe in the concept of the Force.

I've got my own theories, but I'll give you all a chance to help save Star Wars!

October 04, 2004

Making The Kase For Kerry

Drew over at Terminus has answered the challange to make the case FOR Kerry and not just the case AGAINST Bush with a whole John Kerry week. Today he's rapping about Kerry's healthcare plans and why they're better than Bush's shit house record. Let's all pull together and give him the three or four extra hits I know this community is capable of.