December 26, 2005

What's your tradition?

'Tradition' isn't the best way to describe the things my families do every Christmas, as divorce means I'm not really related to about half my relatives, and where everyone is changes dramatically each year. But my mom loves Christmas, and the pattern at her house is pretty much the same: an obscene amount of decorating, numerous huge meals thanks to three skilled cooks (her, her boyfriend, and myself), grumbling church attendance on the part of the non-Christians on Christmas eve, and an absolutely disgusting array of presents opened Christmas morning. When I was little, and my parents still together, we also had a tradition of opening one gift the night before, usually socks or underwear because I would only open those if they were first (seriously, I hated getting clothes so much I would refuse to open anything soft or clothing-box-shaped for days).

What holiday do you celebrate this time of year, and what kinds of traditions are particular to your family?

December 23, 2005

Don't let this one fall down the memory hole

I'm going to assume none of you are reading this until at least Monday because, face it, SoR just isn't as interesting as the alcohol-fueled tragicomedy which is your own family.

That's why it's important you go back and read this:

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito wrote in a June 1985 memo that the ruling that legalized abortion should be overturned [....]

I know, I know, not surprising at all. But check this shit out:

"While abortion involves essentially the same medical choice as other surgery, it involves in addition a moral choice, because the woman contemplating a first trimester abortion is given absolute and unreviewable authority over the future of the fetus," Alito wrote. "Should not then the woman be given relevant and objective information bearing on this choice? Roe took from the state lawmakers the authority to make this choice and gave it to the pregnant woman. Does it not follow that the woman contemplating abortion have at her disposal at least some of the same sort of information that we would want lawmakers to consider?"

Now, you could try to shrug this off by talking about context, but still, what's the point of view he's articulating here? That the pregnant woman's body should rightfully be under the control of the state; or, failing that, the state has the authority to do everything it can to convince her to make the 'right' decision. The bullshit about making sure she's 'informed' is an infantilizing smokescreen, assuming that a woman is incapable of deciding for herself when she fully understands all her options. Are there any other circumstances where the law pretends to know better than patients and doctors about how medical decisions should be made?

Keep this in mind when Alito's hearings start up next month. We're going to see an absolute explosion of 'won't let his personal views influence his legal opinions' crap, but it's clear he didn't think that way twenty years ago.

Oh yeah, Happy Holidays and all that.

December 21, 2005

Celebratory Random 10

Well folks, I've got one 3 hour final tomorrow and then it's off to home for about a week and a half, which probably means a bit of a dip on posting. Actually, my parents finally decided to upgrade to broadband internet, so it will be easier to find and post stuff while I'm home, but I imagine the fam will be all up in my grill about spending time with them so some such rubbish. But, in celebration of being almost done, and with a small bit of an evening left that I can take off before going to bed, I'm going to post what in all likelihood could be the last Random 10 of the year.

So here we go folks, you know how it goes. You load up your MP3 playing device or software of choice, set the sucker to random, and then post the first ten songs that come up for us all to see in the comments section of this post. The only real rule is that you don't censor your Random 10, that is, don't cut out songs because you might be embarrassed by people finding out that you actually have them or because multiple songs by the same artist came up and you don't want people to get the wrong idea. So, to kick things off, here's my own Random 10!

(song - artist)

1. Night On Disco Mountain - David Shire
2. Have You Ever Seen The Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival
3. Fuck Her Gently - Tenacious D
4. Somewhere Over The Rainbow - DJ Erb
5. Love Burns - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
6. Studio Time - Hip-Hop Weiners
7. Goodbye To Yesterday - Spock's Beard
8. Fear Not Of Man - Mos Def
9. A Stone - Okkerville River
10. Einstein On The Beach - Philip Glass

Gotta say that I'm pleased with this one. Yeah, starts off pretty damn corny, but still fun. After that though, all good stuff; even got my man Mos Def in there. And Philip Glass adds a certain something, I know not what to the mix. Oh, that's right, rocking.

Evil Aempire

What about the spelling? They're greek now. So Electronic Arts, towards the end of the NHL lockout, tried to buy up exclusive rights to make video games based on the league and its players. They offered $44 million the NHLPA, which the players were going to take, but the league refused, citing the fact that competition between various companies probably produces better games, which in turn breeds interest in the sport. So hooray for the league and piss off, EA! I shall continue my boycott.

We're Watching You

Richard Posner, who law nerds will recognize as a very famous 7th Circuit judge, wrote and editorial defending Bush's extra-legal info gathering. Needless to say, I think he's crazy, but here's a much longer and more thought out response. Now back to finals...

Hat tip to Atrios.

December 20, 2005

A Dream World That's Magic

Dan Brottman tipped me off to this SNL video clip. It got the mad laughs, yo.

December 19, 2005

In Case You Weren't Scared/Angry Yet

Ok, so before anything else I should say that there's a lot of speculation going on about this wire tapping business and everyone should know that that's what it is, speculation.

That said, John in DC over on AMERICAblog has a really interesting theory about the taps: they were spying on American journalists. He makes his case over there and rather than take time that I should be using to study to recap it here, just go read it there. It's convincing enough for me to take it seriously as a possibility.

Ezra hits on the most troubling aspect of this scandel: FISA, the statute that controls this sort of activity, is really really lenient in letting the government do whatever it wants. The only reasons I've been able to find/think of for why the Administration would skirt around it is some kind of power grab for the executive branch or because they were pretty sure that this increadibly defferential system would still deny their wire tap applications.

Just Plain Dirty

So the House has voted to open up ANWR to drilling. Of course, that was tagged onto a spending bill including big relief for hurricane victims in the Gulf and some evidently necessary military spending. The article says that Democrats are furious about this and that the bill might be filibustered in the Senate, but we'll see if they have the willpower. Still, what sneaky bastards those House Republicans are.

December 18, 2005

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

So for those that haven't been keeping up on whole wiretapping story that's been rolling out lately, here's a quick recap: The New York Times reported that the White House has increasingly authorized, over the last several years, the tapping of Americans' telephones without a warrant. Evidently they had this story a year ago, but were asked by the White House to not publish it for "national security" reasons. In his most recent radio address President Bush admitted to reauthorizing these types taps over 30 times and admonished the Times for publishing the story. Let's ignore, for now, the implications of a President publically getting involved in the editorial process of the press.

Ezra reminds us all that the government tapping phones is not illegal. There are laws on the books that give the government a lot of leeway in getting phones tapped when they need them, the only difference is that the laws require some kind of oversight, even if it's not publically disclosed. So it's not that there's a problem with trying to stop terrorists, it's that covering it up like they did is breaking the law.

Also, the Post is reporting that at least some of these wire taps were on American citizens that the FBI acknowledges were not suspected of any wrongdoing. Like Ezra, I'm trying to hold back my inclination to be terrified of this kind of conduct, but I don't see any real explanation for it that makes me feel any better.

We'll see how this pans out, but this isn't one of those "Did the President really lie when he got us into Iraq?" sorts of scandals. The law is rather clear on this issue and unless something crazy happens and changes the facts, the President has admitted to conduct that violates the law.

December 17, 2005

One more for today

Mediagirl has a fine allegory you should read.


Looking for something to do besides watch movies and try to get along with your family? Amp has put up a fairly robust link farm AND open thread, so I'm just going to point you in his direction.

Will It Survive?

Alright folks, Hilary Clinton has introduced a bill in Congress that would make it illegal to sell adult games to kids. The bill says that store managers will be in violation of the law if they sell games rated M, AO (Adults Only), or RP (Rating Pending) as rated by the ESRB to minors.

Store managers would be fined up to $1,000 or 100 hours of community service for a first offense, and $5,000 or 500 hours of community service for each subsequent offense. Retailers can escape such fines if they were shown identification they believed to be valid or if their stores "have a system in place to display and enforce" the ratings system.

The bill also calls for various studies to be done by the government into advertising for games, periodic reviews of the ratings system, and secret shopper programs to test stores.

The bill also avoids a problem some previous attempts at legislation have faced in that it does not use the vague term "violent video game" and exclusively uses the ESRB ratings system. So, what do you think? Will it survive review by the courts? Should it?

December 16, 2005

Wintertime, and the livin' is easy

14 hours of travelling (South Bend is in the middle of NOWHERE) later, I'm quite happy to have arrived at my mom's place in the middle of California. Cell phone coverage and high-speed internet are nonexistent here, so I'm forced to take a break from all this fancy technology. Until I go into town and grab some free wi-fi, of course.

Anyway, the Patriot Act suffered a setback today. This doesn't mean it won't be renewed; it just makes it rather unlikely.

Link digest tomorrow-ish, once I've caught up on the news! (Yeah, right, like I'm not going to spend all day tomorrow reading Plato and relaxing.)


As I think I've made clear on the site, I have a digital infatuation with Wikipedia. For our purposes here, I'll give a brief summary of how the thing works. It's an online encyclopedia where anyone can contribute. Let's say you know a lot about King Crimson, the Philadelphia Flyers, or gods of thunder. You look it up on Wikipedia and if there's no entry you can create one. If there's already an entry you can add to it or edit it. This has produced an enormous volume of data available at the drop of a search term and without all the sorting through crappy web pages that a Google search can lead to.

Tycho of Penny Arcade, however, has had a less than fantastic experience (that link should eventually take you directly to their comic, which can then take you to his news post on this subject). The guys over there decided they wanted to poke fun at things like Magic: The Gathering which build up extremely over-detailed fictional backstories and histories all in support of what ammounts to elf and orc baseball cards. So they made up an entirely new intellectual property, but acted as if it were real and had existed for decades, and started the process of filling out their own Wiki (based on the same free technology as Wikipedia, but not an entry in the Wikipedia itself) of the long and detailed histories of a world with ambulatory furniture. Their comic has a pretty big following, so pretty soon they had all kinds of other people playing along, adding in stories of armoir wars and description of the plushy-like subset of this particular fandom, the "furnicators". Of course, the internet is full of dicks, and pretty soon people started messing with their entries.

This is a really long way of getting to the question, of what value is Wikipedia? Do you like it? Is it better or worse than traditional encyclopedias and why/why not? On the one hand it has allowed extremely detailed entries on thousands of subjects because everyone brings their expertise to each subject. On the other, think of any hotly contested issue or person, type their name in and look at the entry. Typographical wars are waged back and forth daily between people who think that something the other guy wrote isn't balanced, fair, or truthful and because no one has any more authority there's no final say in the editorial process.

December 13, 2005

Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked

Via someone over at feministblogs, Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked. Mostly they myths have to do with violence, but here are two that caught my eye in particular:

4. Almost no girls play computer games.
Historically, the video game market has been predominantly male. However, the percentage of women playing games has steadily increased over the past decade. Women now slightly outnumber men playing Web-based games. Spurred by the belief that games were an important gateway into other kinds of digital literacy, efforts were made in the mid-90s to build games that appealed to girls. More recent games such as The Sims were huge crossover successes that attracted many women who had never played games before. Given the historic imbalance in the game market (and among people working inside the game industry), the presence of sexist stereotyping in games is hardly surprising. Yet it's also important to note that female game characters are often portrayed as powerful and independent. In his book Killing Monsters, Gerard Jones argues that young girls often build upon these representations of strong women warriors as a means of building up their self confidence in confronting challenges in their everyday lives.

6. Video games are not a meaningful form of expression.
On April 19, 2002, U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Sr. ruled that video games do not convey ideas and thus enjoy no constitutional protection. As evidence, Saint Louis County presented the judge with videotaped excerpts from four games, all within a narrow range of genres, and all the subject of previous controversy. Overturning a similar decision in Indianapolis, Federal Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner noted: "Violence has always been and remains a central interest of humankind and a recurrent, even obsessive theme of culture both high and low. It engages the interest of children from an early age, as anyone familiar with the classic fairy tales collected by Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault are aware." Posner adds, "To shield children right up to the age of 18 from exposure to violent descriptions and images would not only be quixotic, but deforming; it would leave them unequipped to cope with the world as we know it." Many early games were little more than shooting galleries where players were encouraged to blast everything that moved. Many current games are designed to be ethical testing grounds. They allow players to navigate an expansive and open-ended world, make their own choices and witness their consequences. The Sims designer Will Wright argues that games are perhaps the only medium that allows us to experience guilt over the actions of fictional characters. In a movie, one can always pull back and condemn the character or the artist when they cross certain social boundaries. But in playing a game, we choose what happens to the characters. In the right circumstances, we can be encouraged to examine our own values by seeing how we behave within virtual space.

Further Up and Further In

Narnia's on a lot of people's minds lately, particularly the Christian aspects of the story. In trying to distract myself from studing I went to my favorite source, Wikipedia, and through that found an interesting article from the Times. Not sure where I'm going with this...hopefully you all will read those articles and start a discussion on your own that I can jump in on.

December 12, 2005

That First Step

Well, today was something of a day. I had my first final, Education Law, which I think went ok. In somewhat bigger news, I accepted a job clerking for a judge for next year, which takes quite a bit of worry off my shoulders. Well, I guess I should say that I accepted an offer conditional on my passing a criminal background check, but as long as they don't accidentally attribute the crimes of my goateed double to me I should get through that well enough.

So hooray me.

As long as I'm posting stuff, here are a few links for you.

Really awesome shots from an upcoming Xbox 360 game.

Like Halo but don't have an Xbox? Here's a sidescrolling version for you PC users. The demo's not bad at all.

The nominations for the Independent Game Awards have been announced. The nice thing is that all of them give you cool demos to play around with and some are free altogether.

And here are a couple nice links about the impending destruction of Christmas.

December 11, 2005

Just A Nice Sunday Post

Drew and Ed both tipped me off to this fantastic open letter from David Cross to Larry the Cable Guy. Not only is it a great post about Larry the Cable Guy's boring, catch phrase reliant schtick, it's equally applicable to the whole "being smart is a bad thing" sentiment that's running through modern movement conservatism. And, of course, David Cross is funny.

From there we go to, which I found from a link on Cross and Odenkirk's site. Ah, the Jersey Shore, you've given so much amusement.

Choice for men and contribution

This occurred to me this morning as a data point that should not be overlooked when thinking about choice for men.

Guys, our contribution to making a baby is roughly equivalent to squeezing some toothpaste out of the tube. There's a long tradition in the West of the mother as incubator -- she just kind of keeps our semen nice and warm while it forms itself into a new baby. You can find this in Aristotle, actually, and I think the Bible has some passages that make it sound like pregnancy is just kind of waiting around for the baby to show up. But this is completely bullshit.

As any woman who has been pregnant or any obstetrician can tell you, pregnancy can be a pretty rough nine months. Quite a bit of a mother's energy and nutritional resources go into the new baby, and, along with a hormonal rollercoaster that makes puberty seem like a walk in the park, pregnancy introduces a fair amount of physiological stress in the form of pushing the centre of gravity a good distance in front of the centre of balance. Plus there's the whole 'push a bowling ball through a tube the size of a nectarine' thing that's called labour for a reason.

Once fertilization has occurred, a man has contributed pretty much all he really can to the baby-making. Midnight trips to the store for pickles and peanut butter are incidental. But her job is just getting started, and it's buying into the ridiculous, paternalistic notion that a mother is just an incubator for your seed to think you can get some say over what happens to that pregnancy without trampling over her basic right to bodily integrity. A pregnant woman is the only person who gets a say over whether and when to abort because she's the one who's going to do 99% of the work. Squeezing out our little glob of toothpaste is necessary to get things started, but there's nine months of hard work between a passionate embrace and the first time a new pair of lungs breathes air.

December 10, 2005

Feministe: Consider the hijab

An incredible post from Feministe. Read it. Now!

Well? What are you waiting for?

December 09, 2005

Another picture of teh M and teh Q

Going through the mostly underexposed pictures from last weekend, I found this really excellent one I hadn't noticed before. Wish them congratulations if you haven't already, jerks!
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December 08, 2005


I was going to wait another week, but I'm sick and have a lot of work to do, so I'll go ahead and announce my December/January vacation from blogging now. I'll be spending about half of the next four weeks without regular internet access, so expect updates from me to be sporadic at best.

An illustration of the principle that everything looks better with frosting

My ordinarily nondescript back yard looks downright pretty under a few inches of snow.

(This is a repost.)
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X-Men 3 Teaser Is Up

What can I say, I'm a huge nerd. Still, that trailer put the excitement in me. The rumors are that a major character(s) will die in the course of the movie. Any guesses?

December 07, 2005

This post was inevitable (version II)

I wrote a rather nasty piece about CS Lewis on the pretense of providing a link to this piece in Salon on how Christian (or not) the Chronicles of Narnia may be. But I decided, in all fairness, I should wait to blast Lewis here until I bother to read Mere Christianity; when I picked it up back in college, I laughed at the ridiculously bad reasoning in the first chapter and tossed it, but I like to think I'm a little more judicious these days. If I have any interest, I might read through it over my upcoming break; and if anyone has any interest in that actually being done, they would do well to drop me a line and remind me.

The glory which is Illinois

I recently had to make a bit of a drive, and as this was my first trip into the part of the midwest that isn't immediately surrounding Chicago, I made sure to bring my camera along, so as to document the Fatherland Heartland. The following picture captures most of my six-hour drive in a single instant.


Sometimes I really miss geographical features.
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For Those Shopping For Me

I'm not saying that you *have* to buy this stuff for me, but I'll be reevaluating my relationships with people based on the holiday season, so if you really want me to love you I suggest a computer monitor that covers the entire wall or a flying car.

December 06, 2005

Christmas Under Fire

I'm working up to a post about Bill O'Reilly and his holy crusade to save Christmas, but in the meantime I found this article. The school district in question has a policy where songs with "dogmatic religious statements" are forbidden from school programs. It states that,

"Music programs given at times close to religious holidays should not use the religious aspect of these holidays as the underlying motive or theme. No songs should be sung which contain dogmatic religious statements."

Of course, some people are freaking about about it. While the school does not allow "Silent Night" they have allowed "The Draydl Song", which people are saying shows that the school is showing a preference for Hanukah over Christmas. I'm 98% certain that this would get thrown out of court so fast it would make the plaintiff's heads spin, but for fun let's compare the lyrics below the fold:


I have a little dreydl
I made it out of clay
And when it's dry and ready,
Then dreydl I shall play!
Oh dreydl, dreydl, dreydl
I made it out of clay.
Oh dreydl, dreydl, dreydl
Now dreydl I shall play!

My dreydl's always playful.
It loves to dance and spin.
A happy game of dreydl,
Come play now let's begin.

Silent Night

Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in Heavenly peace
Sleep in Heavenly peace

Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from Heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah
Christ, the Savior is born
Christ, the Savior is born

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy Holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth

Does one of those strike you as having statements of "religious dogma" more than the other?

What Do You Think?

Following up on the last post, I thought I'd find out what you guys think. Here's the official ESRB ratings and content descriptors that are used on games today. What are its failings? What does it do right? What more could the ESRB be doing? If you like, and for extra Ra points, you can devise your own system that you think better represents the objectionable content in a game.

If Video Games Are Played By This Child, Warranty Will Be Void

It's that time of year again, when parents get into fist fights over the latest and greatest toy and the Family Media Guide has released their list of the most dangerous video games of the year for kids. But wait, there's more! This year the National Institute on Media and the Family is particularly worried about scenes of cannibalism in recent games like, for instance, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse. So watch your feet this winter because roving bands of ankle biters will be actually biting ankles out there 'cause the games made 'em do it.

The NIMF has also released their own report card on the industry and it doesn't look good. Even if we grant that their "study" probably don't count as particularly scientific, it still looks like it's pretty easy for kids to get their hands on violent games.

"The Taste Of Love Is Sweet
When Hearts Like Ours Meet
I Fell For You Like A Child
Oh, But The Fire Went Wild"

Ahnold On Vacation!

Joy sends us this link to "Carnival in Rio: With Arnold Schwarzenegger". Could this guy make a bigger ass of himself?

Anti-intellectualism is all the intellectuals' fault!

There's a nice little gem of an idea in this Nicholas Kristof column, but it's kind of buried under a pile of shit.

The good point:

This disregard for science already hurts us. The U.S. has bungled research on stem cells perhaps partly because Mr. Bush didn't realize how restrictive his curb on research funds would be. And we're risking our planet's future because our leaders are frozen in the headlights of climate change.

While our universities are home to great scientists, our society as a whole is pathetically science- and math-illiterate.

But what cause does he identify for this? Not our crappy high schools. Not the recent resurgence of general anti-intellectualism in American populism, nor the political opportunism of movement conservatism that helped it come about. No, the problem is that highly educated people aren't majoring in the sciences in college.

But there's an even larger challenge than anti-intellectualism. And that's the skewed intellectualism of those who believe that a person can become sophisticated on a diet of poetry, philosophy and history, unleavened by statistics or chromosomes. That's the hubris of the humanities.

Look, the problem isn't just that we are, at all levels of society, woefully ignorant of science; the problem is that we are, at all levels of society, woefully ignorant period. People who majored in liberal arts don't know jack about math and science; but, at the same time, very few math, science, and engineering majors care about those humanities classes they're required to take; and the vast majority of people, who don't go to college at all, never really get exposed to either the natural or social sciences. The vast majority of 'real' adults seem to have some vague opinions on contrversial issues, but care much more about things like gas prices, what's on sale at the local giant box store, and who was caught fucking who in the janitor's closet, than Beauty or Truth (to say nothing of the Good).

What we need, at least as a first step, is to vastly improve the education of our teenagers in both the sciences and the humanities, not get all upset because no-one at the Times can solve a calculus problem.

Update: Echidne had much the same reaction I did, but adds

True, but does knowledge about the DNA suffice? Surely a more important field of study for a future leader would be ethics, and studying ethics is part of the liberal arts curriculum. Though of course it would be nice if the future leaders could first be persuaded to believe that the Earth is older than a few thousand years...

December 05, 2005


On Saturday, 3 December, 2005, Amanda Sparkman (you know her as Manda) and Quentin Leon were married in some suburb of St. Louis whose name escapes me.

Congratulations, Manda and Quentin!
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Philosophy blogging

From Plato's Apology, in which Socrates, Plato's teacher, defends himself against charges of corrupting the youth and impiety. Socrates says the following shortly after the jury sentences him to death.

Now I want to prophesy to those who convicted me, for I am at the point when men prophesy most, when they are about to die. I say gentlemen, to those who voted to kill me, that vengeance will come upon you immediately after my death, a vengeance much harder to bear than that which you took in killing me. You did this in the belief that you would avoid giving an account of your life, but I maintain that quite the opposite will happen to you. There will be more people to test you, whom I now held back, but you did not notice it. They will be more difficult to deal with as they will be younger and you will resent them more. You are wrong if you believe that by killing people you will prevent anyone from reporaching you for not living in the right way. To escape such tests is neither possible nor good, but it is best and easiest not to discredit others but to prepare oneself to be as good as possible. With this prophecy to you who convicted me, I part from you.

December 04, 2005

For Jason

We all know and love The Onion so I don't generally post stuff from them, but Jason asked me to post this and it's pretty damn funny, so here we go.

Also, promoted from the comments we have this story on violent bands of roving squirrels. Beware!

Blog against racism day (retcon edition)

BARD was Thursday, but I have something of an excuse. More on that later. Ampersand has three goods posts in BARD spirit, even though he happened to miss it, too.

December 03, 2005

Music To Kill Aliens By

Thanks, and Ra Points, to Wes for sending me this link. Yeah, the Minibosses did it first, but these guys do a good job of turning the Metroid songs into metal. Good stuff.

The Return Of The Random 10!

It's been a while since I posted a Random 10, mainly because I keep forgetting, so let's give it another go. In case you forgot how this works you load up your MP3 playing device or software of choice, set the sucker to random, and then post the first ten songs that come up for us all to see in the comments section of this post. The only real rule is that you don't censor your Random 10, that is, don't cut out songs because you might be embarrassed by people finding out that you actually have them or because multiple songs by the same artist came up and you don't want people to get the wrong idea. So, to kick things off, here's my own Random 10

(Song - Artist)

1. New World Man - Rush
2. God Put A Smile Upon Your Face - Coldplay
3. The Silent Man - Dream Theater
4. Somebody Told Me - The Killers
5. Taking Control - Tiles
6. The Test That Stumped Them All - Dream Theater
7. Till There Was You - Peggy Lee
8. You Only Live Twice - James Bond Theme
9. Napalm Brain - Scatter Brain - DJ Shadow
10. Saturday Night - Bay City Rollers

December 02, 2005

Too true

Piled Higher and Deeper. Of course, none of the buildings at ND are labelled (except in extremely circumspect ways), there are no large maps with convenient 'you are here' arrows, and the paper maps (reproduced online here with as much detail and clarity as they have in real life) are basically useless -- and this is all quite deliberate. I can't help the legions of visitors who wander in circles around campus, but, really, I'd be surprised if anyone besides the plant people knew the names and locations of every damn building.

December 01, 2005


South Africa has become the fifth country to end discrimination in marriage based on sexual orientation.

Well, not quite; apparently the Constitutional Court has given Parliament one year to amend the marriage laws, but this is not expected to happen, as only one conservative religious party, which has almost no power, has called for an amendment formally forbidding gay people from marrying. I like this bit in particular:

The decision was essentially unanimous, with one of the court's 12 judges arguing that the ruling should take effect immediately rather than being stayed.

Best Legal Writing Ever!

I know I've got a few law nerds on here, but this is really a case that can be appreciated by everyone. The case involves defamation offered by the famous G. Gordon Liddy as he drifted by on a yaht and an injury sustained thereafter. It seems, however, that the lawyers involved were grossly incompetant and Judge Kent certainly lets them know in the decision. Here's an excerpt:

"Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact--complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words--to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions. With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins."

Seriously, check it out even if you're not at all involved with the study or practice of law. I love this case. Thanks to Patrick for pointing me to this case.

P.S. You'll need Adobe Acrobat to follow the link.

Edit: Here's the cite for those of you who have access to, and would prefer to use, other methods of viewing the case. 147 F.Supp.2d 668


To kick off the new month let's have a big old internet brawl!

The basic question is: What is art? This came up when, in a recent column, Roger Ebert said that games are "inherently inferior" to film and that the nature of the medium keeps it from being "true art". This, of course, sent the internet nerds of the handle, though it really doesn't take much. Still, since nearly every nerd was arguing that games were an artform, I felt it was far more interesting to talk about whether there are any examples of "good" art in the medium. Do video games have a Hamlet yet? A Godfather? A Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band? If so, what aspects make a game trancend to that level? If not, why not?

So I tried to convey my dismay to Drew about how rediculous it was for a couple dozen nerds to carry on a, at last count, 16 (!) page conversation where they all basically agree that games are art instead of tackling what I saw as the much more important question for the medium, but we ended up talking about the definition of art, among many other tangents, instead.

So again, I ask you, what is art and, probably more importantly, what isn't art?

Another Video Game Post

Writing up video game posts is really easy for me to do, which explains why there are so many of them lately. All I have to do is go to Evil Avatar and cherry pick anything that strikes me as interesting. So, with that said, here's my lazy post:

1. IGN has a story up that speculates on the lineup of games for the Xbox 360 beyond the launch. They've got 15 games up there through next spring, but I think that's probably pretty low. Granted, the games that aren't mentioned are probably filler titles that aren't very good, but you never know, there could be a jewel in there. I'm also sure that several of the games they mention in the article will get pushed back from the release date they mention. Still, it's nice to see what's coming down the pike and it's good to see that there are some interesting titles in the works.

2. Major Nelson, a Micrsoft employee working on the 360 launch, has a post up on his blog explaining the shipment schedules (they're shooting for about 3 million units shipped in the first 3 months) and attempting to dispell rumors of a recall.

3. GamesFirst has a post comparing screenshots taken from the Xbox 1 version of King Kong and the 360 version of the same. Though the 360 tends to come out looking better there are a few exceptions, but it is important to note a couple things: 1) They didn't have the capability to take screenshots in HD for the 360. 2) The screenshots they did take aren't of the best quality anyway. 3) King Kong was developed for the Xbox 1 generation of consoles and not specifically for the 360. Much like ports from the PS2 to the Xbox 1, the game really isn't taking advantage of the better hardware and is really just a few graphical tweaks. So with all those caveats the 360 shots do generally look a bit better. Also, as an aside, I hear this game is lots of fun for those that have the means to play it but haven't.

4. The Nintendo Revolution will not support HD resolutions when it's released and IGN.Cube thinks this is a really big mistake. Personally, I don't think it's going to be a big deal right away when the machine is released since the market penetration for HDTVs is so reletively low now. Still, if they plan on having the Revolution launch at Christmas '06 and then last five years, that puts the prime of the console's lifetime between '08 and '10 and I think the importance of HDTV support will only get more important going forward.