Hey video game consumers

Do any of you folks use GameFly or a similar service? Are they worth the dough? Why is there a Reservoir Dogs video game?


Polonium is 250 billion times as toxic as hydrogen cyanide

Yikes! My wife had been following this story, but I had not really paid much attention. But then I read this post about the significance of polonium 210 as opposed to some less remarkable poison. Some excerpts:
Polonium 210 is interesting stuff. As noted in a variety of places on the web, it is entirely artificial — it doesn't occur naturally, but has to be created by irradiating bismuth in a nuclear reactor or particle accelerator — and it has a half life of 138 days, decaying via alpha emission.
The point is, someone with access to fresh Polonium 210 (read: less than a year old, hot from the reactor) decided to use it to bump off an enemy.

And the terrorism alert status hasn't risen a notch? Pull the other one.
What this is, is a warning: "we have the capability to detonate a dirty bomb in central London any time we feel like it, so don't fuck with us". (Just take Polonium and add a little TNT.)

Who the warning is from, and who the intended recipient is, are another question entirely.

Kazakhstan Is Most Glorious Nation, Will Not Adopt Yak Shaving Policies of Jerkoff Uzbek!

In the midst of an otherwise reasonable post, Ric James at HoodaThunk writes:
Once again, I’m disappointed in a federal judge that makes use of the laws, regulations, and practices of foreign nations in producing his ruling as opposed to applying US law. I am completely disinterested in why Mexico or Germany or Latvia produces their money in the way they do....

Completely disinterested? Really?

Conservatives seem to me to be willfully ignorant of what judges (and legislatures, and governors, and smart people) are doing when they look to the practices of other nations. In the conservative world-view, if France does something, you can bet there's a judge who wants to do it here.

In reality, of course, we're just doing the same thing that companies do when they look at their competitors: That is, evaluating best practices and looking at the consequences of policy changes. Ignoring the empirical data from the rest of the world is provincial and, well, idiotic. It seems to me that conservatives know this and that they are disingenuously buying in to this dumb argument as part of their broad-based, ill-considered attack on the judiciary.



[English, origin 1815–25; 'thimble' + 'rig']

1. A sleight-of-hand swindling game in which the operator palms a pellet or pea while appearing to cover it with one of three thimblelike cups, and then, moving the cups about, offers to bet that no one can tell under which cup the pellet or pea lies.
2. One who operates a thimblerig.

tr. v.
To swindle with or as if with a thimblerig.

Great moments in copywriting, or "I really want some cereal, but I only have one hand"

From the web ad copy for Breakfix, an automated cereal dispenser that could be yours for the low cost of $79.99:
Not only is Breakfix a fast and easy, one-handed operation, but this attractive countertop appliance also serves to remind us to eat the first and most important meal of the day. |link, via|

Translation (partial) - Sure, Breakfix takes up a lot of room on your kitchen counter, but that's a good thing because every time you reach around this ridiculous hunk of plastic you'll be reminded to eat your cereal.

Don't miss the video!


Woot! Hall of Fame ballot day!

That's right kids, it's that time of year again. And this year, ESPN.com has a reader poll up so you can cast a non-binding pretty much pointless vote for your favorite candidates.

My ballot this year:
  • Bert Blyleven
  • Andre Dawson
  • Steve Garvey
  • Goose Gossage
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Tommy John
  • Mark McGwire
  • Cal Ripkin, Jr.
  • Lee Smith
Honarable mention to Dave Concepcion, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, and Dale Murphy.

Lightning-round film reviews

I always see a couple films over the Thanksgiving vacation, and this year I actually caught four. Here are some quick impressions.

For Your Consideration

Jason and Megan give it two big thumbs up (Megan's thumbs are remarkably big). If you like Christopher Guest's movies, you will like this Christopher Guest movie. In the arc from Spinal Tap to later films such as A Mighty Wind, I find that the later films are sadder. Where watching Spinal Tap can be uncomfortable at times, I never feel very bad for the characters. In this latest film, I really do get more emotionally invested in their tragedies, especially when they bring their troubles upon themselves.

Casino Royale

Jason, Megan, Tom, Danna, Paul, and Emily give it six thumbs up. It did drag a bit towards the end, but as a James Bond origin story, I highly approve of the particulars of the plot twist.


Jason and Megan give it two thumbs down. At the halfway mark, I still thought it might be a serious movie with something to offer, but it was all smoke and mirrors. The lesson I took from the movie is that white Americans shouldn't go where the brown people live, because brown people are dangerous. Brad Pitt looked really old, too. I don't know if that was makeup, or if the Angelina Experience is taking a heavy toll.

The Fountain

Jason, Megan, Tony, Tyson, Carrie, Mike, and Clea give this film seven thumbs down. The critics give this film many thumbs down. KUT's John Aielli gives it a thumb up. Who you gonna trust?

I really wanted to like this film, but... yuk. Apparently, the secret of immortality is the ability to make a 90 minute film feel like it is four hours long.

I hate the Salvation Army

They've got a bell ringer stationed on the street corner outside my window. Do you think they buy those tiny bells specifically for the annoying timbre?


If only...

...I had come across this post a few days earlier, I would have had a lot more ammunition for my annual seems-to-me-that-cops-are-a-little-too-quick-to-use-force argument with my cousin Jimmy. As it was, we mostly talked about tasers.

Addendum: A couple of questions occurred to me. How many cops are fatally shot each year in the United States? And, how many citizens are gunned down by police? The first question was easy to answer. About 60 cops are killed by firearms each year (source). As to the other question, for some reason the powers that be don't do a good job of tracking the statistics.

This article from a few years ago provides one estimate:
Based on the data available, this most recent report suggests that the number of "justifiable" police killings has not increased since 1976, averaging 373 a year, despite a growth in both the population and the number of police officers. And while the rate at which blacks are killed by the police still far surpasses the rate at which whites are shot and killed, it has dropped to four times the white rate in 1998 compared to eight times in 1976.

While noodling around, I tried to figure out the numbers for Detroit and found some useful info.
Detroit, with nearly 1 million residents, averaged nearly 10 fatal police shootings each year between 1990 and 1998. By comparison, New York, with 7.3 million residents, averaged 28 fatal shootings a year during the same period—a rate of 0.39. |link|

Smells like a Fermi problem to me. Let's do some really simple math. Suppose that the national rate of police shootings is about half that seen in New York from 1990-1998 and that there are 300 million citizens in the United States. That would give you 585 police shootings per year. Which is a high enough number to indicate that the 373 statistic given above isn't outrageously high.

Now, I don't have any idea how many of those 373 killed were innocent of any crime, or how many had committed anything close to a capital crime. I do know that a couple of years ago the Houston Chronicle published an investigative report claiming that one in three victims of police shootings in Harris County were unarmed.

So. Police kill six citizens for every officer who is fatally shot in the line of duty, and there is good reason to believe that a significant number of those killed by police represented no threat whatsoever. Those are the facts. Call me a nut, but I think that the ideal in a democracy would be for the ratio to be skewed the other way.


Video games through the ages

My favorites:
  • TRS-80 Model I - Lunar Lander
  • TV Scoreboard - Breakout
  • Atari 2600 - Asteroids
  • Atari 800 - Imperium Galactum
  • Apple IIe - Lode Runner
  • IBM PC/XT - The Ancient Art of War
  • Atari ST - F-15 Strike Eagle II
  • IBM PC/AT - Tetris
  • NES - Contra Super Dodge Ball
  • Windows 3.1 era PC - Knights of the Sky
  • SNES - Super Bomberman
  • Sega Genesis - NBA Jams
  • 3D0 - (tie) Star Control 2, Samurai Showdown
  • PowerPC era Mac - Starcraft
  • Playstation - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
  • Nintendo 64 - 1080 Snowboarding (but GoldenEye 007 is probably the right answer)
  • G3/G4/G5 era Mac - Civilization II
  • GameCube - Super Smash Brothers Melee
  • Playstation 2 - Gran Turismo 3
  • Xbox - Madden 2005(?)

Is this the beginning of a meme? Probably not, since I'm not going to do any proactive tagging. But feel free to add you own list in comments.

Corrected outrageous oversight.


Superbowl Chiefs

I've been celebrating the Chiefs victory by reviewing the club's awesome draft history, focusing of course, on the running backs. For your enjoyment, here are the players the Chiefs have selected at running back in the first round:
  • 2003 - Larry Johnson - 27th pick, 3618 yards, 86 receptions, 48 TDs
  • 1994 - Greg Hill - 25th pick, 2444 yards, 38 receptions, 7 TDs in four Chiefs seasons
  • 1991 - Harvey Williams - 21st pick, 858 yards, 28 receptions, 4 TDs in three Chiefs seasons
  • 1987 - Paul Palmer - 19th pick, 607 yards, 57 receptions, 6 TDs in two Chiefs seasons
  • 1985 - Ethan Horton - 15th pick, eighth leading college rusher in 1984 converted to TE and caught 28 passes for 185 yards and 1 TD in one Chiefs season
  • 1974 - Woody Green - 16th pick, 1442 yards, 9 TDs in 3 seasons
  • 1972 - Jeff Kinney - 23rd pick, 1285 yards, 5 TDs in 5 seasons


Holiday contest/comment whoring

In comments either (a) identify the author of the following sentence; or, (b) complete the paragraph.
Simply gazing at her was like being hit in the groin with a velvet hammer.

typo? what typo? I didn't change anything.


No posts


Here's a quick link to a devastating review of th Wii over at Slate.

Did you know that The Bellman is the #2 hit on google for the string which game system should I buy? We used to be number one.

link added


A day that will live in infamy

HARTFORD, Conn. --Two armed thugs tried to rob a line of people waiting for the new PlayStation 3 game system to go on sale in Putnam early Friday and shot one man who refused to give up his money, authorities said.
It was about 3 a.m. when the two gunmen in Putnam, a town of about 9,000 residents in northeast Connecticut, confronted 15 to 20 people standing outside a Wal-Mart store and demanded money, said State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance.

"One of the patrons resisted. That patron was shot," Vance said. |source|

Doesn't look good...

Portland union boss Tom Leedham's long-shot quest to unseat James P. Hoffa as president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters appeared to be faltering late Tuesday, based on partial election returns.

Leedham is making his third run at winning control of the 1.4 million-member union, one of the nation's largest.

As of 9 p.m. PST, Hoffa led the two-man race with 69 percent of the votes. Just fewer than 33,000 ballots had been counted, though, of nearly 300,000 members who had mailed in ballots, said Rich Leebove, a Hoffa campaign spokesman. |link|

Up to date results here.


[Origin: 1815–25, from Medieval Latin 'nictitātus', to wink]

To wink.



By my count there are three internecine squabbles in the Democratic Party right now. First, Murtha is fighting it out with Hoyer for the role of House Majority Leader; second, Pelosi is trying to pass over Harmon for Hastings to head the Intelligence Committee; and third, Rahm Emmanuel's shadow fight with Dean over the chairmanship of the DNC.

Meanwhile, Trent Lott was named minority whip in the senate by a 25-24 margin using a secret ballot, and as far as I can tell there aren't any Republicans out there waving one another's dirty laundry.

Neologism needed

What do you call it when your Netflix queue stalls? I've had the same three disks out for nearly a month now.

Howard Dean is pretty smart

I know that's not the point of this Greenwald post, but I'd just like to point out that my choice for President in 2004, Howard Dean, was right on the war. And everybody who criticized him, including John effin' Kerry, were wrong.

Previous stuff on Dean here and here. Also, in mostly unrelated news, Miss Carnivorous is still crazy after all these days:
The left in America and Europe are worried about a few gays feeling sad because they can't get married and that someone with terminal cancer will die later rather than sooner. Boo fucking hoo. If Armaggeddon [sic] came today, it couldn't happen to a worse bunch of people.


Iraq go boom 2

Kevin Drum posts something similar to what I wrote on Monday:
But still we wait, even though everyone knows perfectly well that Baker's team won't come up with any magic solution. Unfortunately, even some liberals play along with this game because they have their own bit of truth they'd just as soon avoid: namely that conservatives are correct when they say that a U.S. pullout would be a disaster for Iraq. War supporters may have only themselves to blame for this state of affairs, but that doesn't make them any less right: A pullout now would almost certainly touch off a full-scale civil war, the deaths of hundreds of thousands, and the eventual establishment of a Shiite theocracy. It's hardly surprising that no one wants to face up to this, but the fact remains that our continued denial only makes the situation worse with every passing day, virtually guaranteeing a higher body count and an even more brutal end game. | link |

Also, check out the philosophers amongst us debating the exact nature of our moral obligation to the Iraqis at the Green Blog of the Revolution.


It caught on in a flash

Via Ezra, this post at Unfogged raises an interesting question. For my part I'd say that the next hip monster is likely to be a golem or a robot.

Also, zombies are soooo over.

Holiday cheer

To my mind the best thing about Veteran's Day is that all the war movies on cable finally motivated me to get down to business and solve Medal of Honor: Frontline.[1]

Actually, MOH:Frontline is kind of a disappointing game. I haven't played any other games in the franchise, so I don't know how it compares, but my basic complaint seems likely to be generalizable. The problem, namely, is that aiming the gun is extremely kludgy. Usually it's simpler to just get the gun somewhere near chest level and then run around until it's pointing at a nazi.

Maybe that's a problem with PS2 shooters period. I'm not much of a shooter aficionado myself, so maybe one of the more bloodthirsty gamers out there can chime in.
1 I'm happy to report that after only two hours of cursing, I've figured out how to climb a ladder. The secret? Look up.


Iraq go boom

It appears that there are no good outcomes possible in Iraq. James Baker can't make it rain. All options are bad. However, I do want to say something to my anti-war friends:

I stood with you in opposing the war because it was perfectly obvious to some of us that it was an unjust use of pre-emptive force and that it was highly likely that it would lead to something like what we are now experiencing.

But it also seems perfectly obvious to me that pulling our troops out at this juncture will unleash a genocidal bloodbath in the region, and that will be largely our fault. So please stop pretending otherwise.

I'm not even opposing the proposal that we should bring our troops home now. But that policy should only be adopted with the acknowledgment of the likely result: The slow-motion catastrophe we are living through now will surge full speed ahead.

(Here's hoping Baker, Gates, or the Democrats prove me wrong and generate a workable idea.)

...the daughter needs to be able to trust daddy, and daddy does need to be able to trust daughter

She was receiving the affection that she needed from her father. That's why it is so neat to see these fathers showing godly affection to their daughters. Because their daughters yearn for that affection, that affection from a male, and they're either going to get it from their father or they're going to seek it in other relationships. These fathers who are showing godly affection to their daughters are sparing their daughters from such hurt.

The quote is taken from this video hyping so-called purity balls, the idea of which is to encourage teen girls to remain virgins by having them attend a prom-like event with their father as a date. It's been out there for awhile, so maybe by now everyone has seen it. I first saw it via Amanda at Pandagon, but I wanted to say something about Julian Sanchez' comments. He wrote:
  • Obviously the subtext of all this stuff is that women are property, but I'm always a little amazed when they're willing to go right ahead and make it text—as, for instance, when girls are encouraged to think of their vaginas as a "wedding gift" for their future husbands, to be kept in the original packaging until the honeymoon.
  • And, of course, the big one: Even if you're into the whole abstinence thing, how obtuse do you have to be as a parent not to find the daddy-as-substitute-boyfriend thing really really really gross?
|Notes from the Lounge|

A better question is, how can a parent possibly be blind to the grossness of the daddy-as-substitute-boyfriend thing? I think the answer has to do with the other theme Julian notes in the quoted passage, namely, the notion that women are to be regarded as property. The thing about being property is that it means not only that you are owned and can be exchanged, but also that it is right and proper that your actions be controlled and directed by another.

Consider, for example, the words of the pledge that the father makes to his daughter at the, uh, climax of the purity ball:
I choose before God to cover you as your authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man and a leader. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide, and pray over you.

What I'm suggesting is that for these people a lot of the badness of a woman engaging in premarital sex is that it places her in a relationship in which noone has legitimate authority to control and direct her actions. The ideal, then, is for a women to move seamlessly from the control of her father to the control of her husband. The dancing, dresses, and flowers -- all of that is just window dressing to keep the ladies in line. It doesn't really matter in the big picture, just as none of the desires of women really matter.

To someone like me, the creepiness of the daddy-as-substitute-boyfriend thing comes from the fact that I see fundamental differences between father/daughter and romantic relationships. For a certain kind of traditional values purist, however, there is an essential similarity between the two sorts of relationships, namely, that both satisfy the woman-as-object's need to have her actions controlled and directed by a male authority. The traditional values purist, then, misses the creepiness because for them the differences between the sorts of relationships are not as important as are the similarities.


Thank god it's friday.

That's a pretty funny shirt. Too bad it's no longer for sale.


My guess is that I'm the only person who uses the links on the blogroll, but I thought I'd mention that I've added quite a few blogs in the last couple of weeks. The most recent addition is theGarance, a new blog by Garance Franke-Ruta, formerly of TAPPED, who I think is really darn smart.


You learn something new every day

Apparently it's possible, when leaving a message on the voicemail at our office, to mark the message as "urgent". I know because a woman left two messages last week "urgently" telling us that her son, who was picking up his class ring, was carrying a check that had been made out to the wrong party and she wanted to know if that was okay.

I wonder who she was trying to call...

My head is spinning

Over at The Corner the assembled id of American conservatism has been discussing something I'd been meaning to post about. Namely, that if Democrats are looking for a ballot issue to drive turnout for the next election cycle, they should strongly consider the minimum wage. What's most remarkable about the discussion, though, is that the folks at TheCorner are on the cusp of advocating legislation raising the minimum wage as a way to forestall future Democratic initiatives. Crazy!

I can't link to all of their posts (too, too many), but check this out:
Every time the minimum wage is on the ballot or part of a campaign, we lose. Further, while they are bad economics, relatively low minimum wages are not THAT bad. So conservatives need to push for simply getting this issue settled so it doesn't keep coming up. We should agree to a $7.50 minimum wage that automatically goes up with the CPI just like Social Security payments, or perhaps instead indexed to average wage growth. |source|

In case you didn't follow the link, that's from a reader email approvingly posted by Jonah Goldberg.

Here's what strikes me as so remarkable about that. Last winter, a coalition of progressive groups made an effort to get exactly such a proposal on to the Michigan ballot -- the key component was linking the wage to the CPI. What eventually happened was that the Republican controlled state legislature short circuited the petition drive by passing legislation to raise the wage (without, of course, committing to future raises).

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

Chilling visions of things to come!
Robot Identifies Human Flesh As Bacon

But when some smart aleck reporter placed his hand in the robot's omnivorous clanking jaw, he was identified as bacon. A cameraman then tried and was identified as prosciutto.
| wired |

and, via eripsa:
"Waiter! Waiter! What's this robot doing in my soup?"

"It looks like he's performing human tasks twice as well, because he knows no fear or pain."

McSweeny’s list of jokes made by robots, for robots.


a great day

Rumsfeld out. First woman as Speaker of the House.

And, don't forget, in South Dakota:

Yep, you really should have known

An Immigration Lesson [Ramesh Ponnuru]

I was more sympathetic to the House than the Senate or the president on immigration, and I still think, contra Bill Kristol and others, that the House had the better of the political argument. But I also think that this election confirmed something we should already have known: A monomaniacal opposition to lax immigration policies is a political loser. The only places it gets traction are places where immigrants and people sympathetic to immigrants are also a sizable constituency.



What's wrong with this picture?

Second in a series...

Election day thread

Post anything about your voting experience in the comments. As for me, except for some Austin bond proposals (for which I voted yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes), my vote will probably not be in play. Gotta love that sweet, sweet redistricting. The lines were much longer than usual, but my polling place had also moved, so there's really no way to draw any conclusions from the long lines.

Democracy kicks ass!

Where's my sticker?

I count. I voted. I know that. But without social recognition, how am I to constitute myself as a subject?


Rick Perry is going to be the longest-serving governer in Texas history

What is wrong with this farkin' state!?
According to a new DMN poll (and is that a site redesign I see?), Perry is expected to fall short of 40 percent of the vote, Bell has 22 percent, Strayhorn’s at 18 percent and Kinky’s at 11 percent. Now remember, this is just a poll of LIKELY voters as opposed to Kinky’s imaginary miracle voters.
Roughly 42 percent of men support Perry, compared to 37 percent of women. In contrast, only eight percent of women support Friedman because everybody knows that women don’t get the funny. Around 51 percent of black voters support Bell, compared to give or take 0 percent for Kinky. And that includes Frank from Atlanta.
| in the pink texas |

I stand by my plan to vote for the candidate who has the best chance at unseating Perry, and thankfully that appears to be Chris Bell. I wouldn't mind a kinky governor, and I wouldn't even mind Kinky as governor. But I'll feel better casting my vote for the Democrat in the race.

Video game news

[Anything, anything, to push the picture of dog anus below the fold. I shudder to think about the google hits we are about to receive.]

The Culture Minister of France thinks that people don't take videogames seriously enough:
Call me the minister of video games if you want - I am proud of this," the minister, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, said during an interview. "People have looked down on video games for far too long, overlooking their great creativity and cultural value.

His next move is to get video games recognized as an art form which would make it eligible for government tax breaks, much like the French movie industry.

Meanwhile, in Korea, some kids are taking videogames way to seriously:
For nerds. Seems Korea's fascination with online gaming is taking a turn for the strange, with real-life brawls amongst gaming clans and guilds becoming increasingly common. The latest instance of what's become known as "Hyon-P" involves 28 high school kids, who after a chat room stoush decided to settle things with fisticuffs on the local schoolyard.

Many Koreans maintain much closer ties between the online and offline world than most other cultures, with gaming clans regularly meeting and socialising in person, as well as online. While this probably has all kinds of positive social benefits when things are going swimmingly, when they aren't, well...28 high school kids will arrange to meet up in the playground and beat the absolute crap out of each other.

And finally, to reinforce my point that you really should buy an Xbox 360, check out the grade each console has received from GameDaily:
• PS3: B+
• XBox 360: A
• Wii: A-
• DS Lite: A
• PSP: B
• XBox: D
• GameCube: C
• PS2: B+


A Michael Steele victory in Maryland Senate race wouldn't upset me very much. Unless, that is, it turns out that the Maryland race makes the difference between the Dems controlling the Senate and not (but I just can't see the Dems taking the Senate).

People believe some crazy shit, let me tell you

From Ted Haggard's statement to his former Congregation at the New Life Church:
I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life. For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach. |Source: (pdf)|

The picture is from this site, via an email from the proprietor of this site. It depicts a miracle, the appearance of Jesus' image on a dog's ass.

For what it's worth, as crazy as Haggard, his wife, and their congregation's ideas are about what counts as repulsive and dark and requiring forgiveness, when they get down to brass tacks and start forgiving people, well that's about as good as Christianity gets. Them folks ought to do more of that, or leverage it, or do whatever it is we do these days with things that are well and truly admirable.


...and statistics

I've been trying to come up with a clever label for the sort of person who, while leaning left on most issues, is nevertheless credulously sympathetic to Republican talking points. Lately I've favored the term "idiot", but I'd prefer something a little more fine grained.

Be that as it may, it's worth keeping in mind how easy it is to fall into this particular brand of idiocy. For example, I had been planning to link approvingly to this Krauthammer column, since, given the source, it seemed to me to be an uncommonly reasonable piece of political analysis. Krauthammer's main point, for those of you who can't be bothered to follow the link, is that a Democratic electoral victory shouldn't be interpreted as a repudiation of the GOP. The key fact he relies on and builds his argument around is that, "Since the end of World War II, the average loss for a second-term presidency in its sixth year has been 29 House seats and six Senate seats."

Seems pretty reasonable. But:
Nice try, guys, but here's the reality. Up through the 70s, big swings in House elections were common, but in the last 20 years there's only been a single year with a big swing (1994). Aside from that, the average change has been less than five seats. You can see the same thing if you look only at sixth-year midterms:

1958: 49 seats

1966: 47 seats

1974: 49 seats

1986: 5 seats

1998: 5 seats

See the trend? In the two sixth-year midterms since 1980, only five seats changed hands. There are plenty of reasons for this, including improved gerrymandering, huge money imbalances, and increased self-segregation...Bottom line: Thirty years ago a pickup of 25 seats wouldn't have been that big a deal. Today it is. If Dems win that many seats, it really will be a historic victory. |Kevin Drum|

That's about as close to a knock down refutation as you're ever going to get.

But let's bring this back to the idiocy. Note two things. First, Krauthammer's column is fundamentally dishonest. It just isn't possible to work the math and come up with the averages without noticing the trend in the data that Drum points out. Krauthammer's concern wasn't to support a conclusion through argument, but was rather to fool his readers. Second, for Krauthammer to get away with this kind of dodge requires that readers trust Krauthammer to argue honestly. Given his history, granting such trust is an idiotic thing to do.

Now, obviously, conservatives don't have a monopoly on misleading rhetoric. But, just as obviously to anyone who's not an idiot, the Repubican message machine reaches further, exhibits stricter message discipline, and is more systematically mendacious than anything their political opponents have on offer. Given this, anyone who finds themselves sympathetic to a political analysis promulgated by the GOP really ought to stop and ask themselves a question:

"Am I being played for an idiot?"

The answer is probably yes.



I feel a little guilty about making fun of Haggard below, so here's a quote from Matthew Yglesias, who gets the issue exactly right:
Shadenfreude and hypocrisy aside, though, it's be nice -- unrealistic, perhaps, but nice -- if people took this as an opportunity to learn something. Obviously, the other men in that image with Haggard -- Tony Perkins, James Dobson, etc. -- know him, get along with him, and have worked with him as a colleague, like him, think he's a good man, and so forth. And Dobson and Perkins aren't alone. Lots of people have worked with or for Haggard over the years. He's a widely respected man in this country. Should all those people who know him, and have followed him really so sharply revise their views of Haggard, or should they revise their views of gay people? The latter, I think, though I'm not optimistic that's how it'll play.|Yglesias|

Reasons the internets are cool, numbers 294,283 and 294,284

Seems like most of the stuff I've been posing lately has come from my friend trp0. I didn't give him proper credit for sending me the hippy proteins yesterday. Here are a couple other interesting things:

First up, a tag cloud of of U.S. State of the Union speeches. You can quickly scroll through the various eras to see how terms pop into usage, persist for a decade, and ultimately vanish. Pretty cool, and you can find it here. ("Hey, Jason, what's a tag cloud?" I'm glad you asked.)

Second, just for fun, a pie chart that shows exactly how much of that same pie chart resembles pac man. Videogaming metafun!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your Republican-controlled Congress!

If the office you set up to audit the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq finds out that the U.S. military, the occupational authority, and your no-bid contractors messed everything up really bad, you could use that information to fix those problems. Or, if you are the Repulican-controlled Congress, you could shut down the auditor.

(link via the agonist)

Caption contest

(Yes, yes, liberals, progressives and Democrats should refuse to take the bait and should talk about this instead of this. I understand that. But if we've learned anything in the years since Dr. Strangelove, it's that there are no funny pictures involving nuclear explosions.)


Memo to Mark Halperin

What is absurd and troubling about the anger on the right and the left is that these people seize on whatever wisp of a phrase they wish in a wider discussion and twist it to their own purposes.

That's Mark Halperin writing in today's installment of, well follow this link. It's one of those Slate things.

Now that I've quoted that, here's a wisp of a phrase from later in the article.
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are extraordinarily polarizing figures...

The difference between these two "extraordinarily polarizing figures", of course, is that George W. Bush is polarizing because he is the figurehead of an extraordinarily inept administration most notable for its extraordinarily shameless and hateful approach to politics, whereas Bill Clinton is polarizing because he was a target of a Republican machine employing an extraordinarily shameless and hateful approach to politics. This isn't rocket science or French philosophy. It isn't complex, and yet distinctions matter.

tRNA knows how to party

This is unusual.

Protein Synthesis: an Epic on the Cellular Level

They need no lamp nor light of the sun

Democrats (and their reluctant supporters) hoping to relive 2004's pre-election victory anticipation giddiness are advised to read Ruy Teixeira's latest dispatch. For myself, the most interesting part was his disparagement of GOTV in general and the GOP GOTV effort in particular. Of course, given my mindless adherance to the organizing model, I can't help but be somewhat skeptical of Teixeira's skepticism in both the general and particular cases. Consider, for example, this Mark Mellman passage that Teixeira approvingly quotes:
But didn’t the GOP prove its efforts were much more effective than the Democrats’ in 2004? No. Check the data. In Ohio’s base Democratic precincts turnout was 8.2 points higher than it had been in 2000. In base Republican precincts, turnout increased by a slightly lesser 6.1 points. Winning a state is not the same as doing a better job on turnout.

This data seems to me to be exactly what you'd expect to see given the supposed core strength of the Rovian GOTV system --namely, the ability to target isolated Republican voters in otherwise Democratic precincts. On the other hand, I know a few hard core Dems who've somehow wound up on a lot of Republican mailing lists, so maybe the hype really is out of control.

In other news, check out the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Congressional Support the Troops scorecard.


The future

Wells Tower's report on this summer's YAF sponsored National Conservative Student Conference is a laugh riot. You could read the whole thing if you had bought the November issue of Harper's. Failing that, here's an excerpt:
In her facebook bio, Samantha Soller listed among her hobbies "political science, philosophy, and hippie-hunting, enjoys foreclosing on poor people's cardboard boxes, eating red meat, using her Sigarms P232 Stainless to shoot cute little bunny rabbits." I ask her about the gun.

"It's a semiautomatic handgun. I don't have one, but I would love to own one soon. It's really cute. It's silver. It fits in your handbag."

We close in on the catering trays, which today are full of steak and chicken fajita meat. The sight douses the cheer that mention of the Sigarms P232 had stirred in Soller's hale, brown cheeks. "What is this?" she says, surveying the buffet. "I don't eat anything that's not American."

A boy standing nearby assures her. "It is American; it's Tex-Mex."

Soller frowns. "I'm having the salad," she says. "I don't want to get sick."

I can't stop. Here's another excerpt. Note the recurrence of the salad motif.
The guest lecturer at the Thursday "Men's Lunch" is Dr. Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard University. According to the program, Mansfield will talk about "manliness," which is also the title of his most recent book. The ladies, meanwhile, are supposed to be lunching with Bay Buchanan, but several of them, declaring a preference for Mansfield's remarks on manliness, launch a respectful, small-scale insurgency against the breakdown of coeducational order. The ladies are eventually permitted to sit "at tables in the back of the room that do not have salad," Roger Custer, the conference's director, specifies beforehand.

Look on our works, ye mighty, and despair!

Clark Sorensen has created some of the most amazing and beautiful urinals one is likely to ever see. Each is meticulously hand built and one of a kind - formed from high fire porcelain and fired to cone 10 (2300° F). These pieces are magnificent works of art but they are also fully functioning vitreous porcelain fixtures that can be plumbed and used in a bathroom. They are made of the same material as a commercial toilet but the similarity stops there. Clark hopes that his sculptures can be exhibited as art and installed as urinals in galleries and bathrooms around the world.

Check out some of the others. All truly wise people judge a society based on its toilets, and these are freakin' cool.

(thanks to the Monkey for sending this along)
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