Crazy quote of the day

Yes, there are demonic strongholds, without question. There is no doubt about it. There are certain areas where demon princes hold sway. And this thing has obviously got hold of you. Get away from there as fast as you can. Confess and recommit to the Lord. Absolutely. But get away from there. Flee.

Pat Robertson, baby!
(via J-Walk)


"Sheets of meat"

Wired News: What if the next burger you ate was created in a warm, nutrient-enriched soup swirling within a bioreactor?

Edible, lab-grown ground chuck that smells and tastes just like the real thing might take a place next to Quorn at supermarkets in just a few years, thanks to some determined meat researchers. Scientists routinely grow small quantities of muscle cells in petri dishes for experiments, but now for the first time a concentrated effort is under way to mass-produce meat in this manner.

Henk Haagsman, a professor of meat sciences at Utrecht University, and his Dutch colleagues are working on growing artificial pork meat out of pig stem cells. They hope to grow a form of minced meat suitable for burgers, sausages and pizza toppings within the next few years.
Jason Matheny ... believes the easiest way to create edible tissue is to grow "meat sheets," which are layers of animal muscle and fat cells stretched out over large flat sheets made of either edible or removable material. The meat can then be ground up or stacked or rolled to get a thicker cut.

All well and good, I guess. Only psychics will remain vegetarians, since they will still be able to hear the silent screams of the meat sheets.


Tyler Durden is pissed at Superman

Mike Dougherty and Dan Harris, the two credited screenwriters for 'Superman Returns' have changed Superman’s famous motto, "Truth, Justice and the American way", to "Truth Justice and ... all that stuff". Seriously. No, really.

I thought the way it was handled was pretty smooth. Superman doesn't change his motto. It's Perry White who can't remember the whole thing. Why can't he remember "the American Way?" I think that's the question the writers are answering.

C'mon, Tyler. It's not like they put "Truth Justice and ... all that stuff" on the poster.


Instant replay rule for soccer? Discuss.

(Lady with cool contact lenses via CNN)

Sure, video evidence would slow the game down slightly, but not as much as the luddites would have you believe. The ball is only in play for 60-odd minutes anyway and double-checking, say, a goal-line clearance, penalty or offside appeal would add seconds not minutes. If there were any doubts at all about the TV replays, the referee's original decision would stand.

Introducing technology would also change the risk v reward debate that zips around a player's head: there'd be no incentive to dive for a penalty when someone in the stands could alert the referee, who would soon be waving yellow in your direction. And why pretend to be punched, when in 30 seconds' time you'd be receiving red for play-acting?

Clearly there's a balance to be struck between maintaining the flow of the game and making the right decision but if other sports can do it, so can football. Ultimately, it boils down to what is preferable: a 30-second delay in play, or the Hand of God? Getting it right, or allowing cheats to get away with it? Certainty, or random chance?

Guardian.uk (thanks, dad!)

Friday beautiful game blogging, the future of soccer in America edition

Over at Goal Post, Franklin Foer and company are worried that Balboa's incompetent play by play will hamper the growth of soccer's popularity in the states. This excerpt from a Roger Bennett post is typical:
Something magical has happened to us though in 2006. Despite the proliferation of nay-saying articles in the run up to kick off of "The World Eagerly Awaits, But Americans Could Not Care Less" variety and in spite of the Czech debacle, a break through has been made: bars in every major city are packed on game day, columns like Hirshey's Deadspin riff (is he the thinking man's George Vescey?) show signs of vibrant home-grown soccer analysis, and major outlets have repetitive front page coverage of every game. And all of these great strides are taking place even though America has yet to produce its first truly world class player.

So, close your eyes for a second and put yourself in the mindset of the legions of casual American sports fans tuning in to soccer for the first time -- those individuals who, for instance, are watching TEAM USA but who have not yet bought the How Football Explains the World. This is their moment. ESPN has taken the remarkable step of airing all the games. On HD no less. So they look fabulous. Which brings us back to Balboa, a man who could be presented as Exhibit A proof that heading a soccer ball can be hazardous to your health. All the casual viewer needs is a voice that is intelligent and accessible. But instead you get Balboa, a man that even corporate strategist charged with devising a way to ensure that America continued to only care about sports that allowed regular heavy doses of commercial breaks could invent in a laboratory -- one part Homer Simpson, two parts Chance the Gardner with a dash of George Bush. The World Cup deserves better, the medium term growth of soccer in this country via a sustained interest and continued growth of television ratings and the advertising revenue that brings will depend on it, and best of all, you Americans can do better. |link|

There's absolutely no doubt that Balboa stinks, but, as many of Bennett's commenters have pointed out, that's pretty much how it goes with sports commentary in America. The idea that viewers are going decide whether to stick with a sport based on the quality of the commentary is pretty well put to rest by the example of John Madden.

That said, I think that this year's World Cup tournament has achieved something unprecedented in America -- it's become relevant for the casual sports fan. How did this happen? A lot of it is fallout from 2002. The surprising American performance in that tournament gave this year's squad an artificially high ranking, and that ranking, in turn, gave birth to the hope that the USA might make a run in this World Cup. And from that small sliver of hope came the ESPN/ABC sports entertainment juggernaut's decision to broadcast every single match. That was crucial. Just having the matches available (and at convenient times) is a big step, but it's also important that the highlights are getting pride of place on SportsCenter. And let's not underestimate the contributions of ESPN's unparalled marketing department.

Is there a future in it? Well, soccer isn't ever going to supplant the NFL, but I have a feeling that the Italy match is going to be a turning point for USA Soccer. Not so much because the USA played well or showed grit, though of course they did. No, I think what's so important about that match is that the USA got jobbed, and very likely would have won otherwise. That's the sort of drama that brings the folks back for the next episode.


19 days and counting

My friend Dawn sent me the following good advice:
JUST A REMINDER....19 days from today, all cell phone numbers are being
released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale
calls. ..YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS.... To prevent this, call
the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the
National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time.

It blocks your number for five (5) years.


The top news story yesterday (not)

My friend Spike asks why this wasn't the top news story yesterday:
WASHINGTON - Numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies have bypassed subpoenas and warrants designed to protect civil liberties and gathered Americans' personal telephone records from private-sector data brokers.

These brokers, many of whom advertise aggressively on the Internet, have gotten into customer accounts online, tricked phone companies into revealing information and even acknowledged that their practices violate laws, according to documents gathered by congressional investigators and provided to The Associated Press.

"Because the news sucks," is my guess. This isn't as important as a discussion of just how gay is superman, anyway.

Holy crap I agree with Jonah Golberg!

Not on policy. In his contribution to Slate's tenth anniversary self flaggellation, Goldberg writes that:
Contrarianness is a great and good thing—when driven by reason and facts. But contrarianness for its own sake is often the very definition of asininity.

Sing it, brother!

For what it's worth, my answer to the question of what's wrong with Slate has all to do with the way that they organize their content. Just look at the URL for Goldberg's essay: http://www.slate.com/id/2143233/

id/2143233/? Just what you'd expect from an online magazine underwritten by Microsoft.

To take another example, consider the Blogging the Bible series.[1] Note that I didn't link to it. The reason is that there isn't a stable url, slate.com/bloggingthebible for example, where I can go to reliably get to the feature. The best I can do is http://www.slate.com/id/2143176/entry/0/, but of course I only found that because there happens to be a link to it on the splash page, which there might not be on some other day.

And since I'm criticizing online magazines, let's add that the magazine most in need of a "What's the matter with X" feature is Salon, which is pretty much unreadable these days.[2]

1 Which series is not recommended by this writer. It's just that I couldn't be troubled to dig to find a series that I actually like.

2 With the exception of King Kaufman's Sports Daily, of course.


Today's World Cup thread

I expected lots of scoring from both sides, and so am surprised to see that Germany squashed the Ecuadorians 3-0. What I wonder now is whether Germany was just that much better or whether Ecuador, having already exceeded expectations by advancing from the pool, came out flat.

Did anyone catch the match?

Also, which is a better bet this afternoon: England/Sweden or Paraguay/Trinidad & Tobago?



[Greek 'banausikos', from 'banausos', mechanic]

Ordinary and not refined.
2. Of or relating to a mechanic.

Wingnut line of the day

“The federal government is trying to take over the whole country,” Michigan developer John Rapanos said on the Supreme Court's steps yesterday morning, “and if they do, we will all lose.” |link|

If only...

I can yell without exclamation points. but I can't fart in your face with text. yet. -- Tyson Midkiff

24. DigiScents iSmell (2001)

Few products literally stink, but this one did--or at least it would have, had it progressed beyond the prototype stage.

In 2001, DigiScents unveiled the iSmell, a shark-fin-shaped gizmo that plugged into your PC's USB port and wafted appropriate scents as you surfed smell-enabled Web sites--say, perfume as you were browsing Chanel.com, or cheese doodles at Frito-Lay.com. But skeptical users turned up their noses at the idea, making the iSmell the ultimate in vaporware.

The text is from a recent list of The 25 worst tech products of all time. The photo came from here, a page chock full of dated iSmell hype.



For reasons I can't fully[1] explain, I found myself watching some of the YearlyKos footage archived over at the C-Span website. Anyway, midway through a fairly lame panel about the Daily Kos community a guy got up to ask a question and I recognized him from Ann Arbor. I've seen him at a few demonstrations and meetings, and while I've never actually had a conversation with him my impression is that he's a little bit of a nut. Small world. And crazy.

1 Part of the explanation, though, was that I was killing time while ripping cds on an iMac with a really slooooooow cd drive.

Two sentences out of context

  • The exposition was rather sparsely attended, especially on Friday afternoon, apparently because of a glut of pornography conventions.

  • Jorgen Borthen, the head of the Go For Cod! network, has reportedly said that if the minister models a cod-skin bikini, he'll pose in a cod-skin Speedo.


Red cards

I'm going to have to read the after action reports to get a handle on why Ujfalusi got that red card against Ghana. I think I could see the foul in super slow motion, but I'm not really sure.

The interesting red cards, though, were the two doled out in the first half of the USA's match against Italy.

On the one hand, that was definitely blood on Brian McBride's face. On the other, it didn't seem to me that De Rossi was trying to land a cheap shot so much as he was creating space -- illegally -- to give himself a chance to play the ball. I suppose that the red card was justified on the principle that loose elbows should be punished when they connect with faces, but I also think that giving the USA a man advantage for three quarters of the match would have been an excessive penalty. So I think that the red card against Mastroeni in the 44th minute, though clearly not an appropriate response to his tackle, was a reasonable compromise.

In other World Cup related ethical dilemmas, this mid match blogging break was made possible by the fact that the wait staff at the bar where I was watching soccer began systematically ignoring me about fifteen minutes before the USA/Italy game began. I think they wanted the table.

A more gracious man than me would have paid his bill in full, left a generous tip, and ceded the space. A less gracious man would have stayed for the rest of the match and then stiffed them on the whole bill.

Update: Ok, I don't know exactly what happened with Eddie Pope (owing to various factors, but certainly including the fact that ABC's announcing crew of Balboa and whoever the hell the other guy is sucks ass), but let's just say I'm no longer inclined to give the ref credit for an intent to call a balanced match. Or for much at all, really.


If we invade Iran, the terrorists will have won!

A blueprint for trying to start a war between the United States and Iran was among a "huge treasure" of documents found in the hideout of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraqi officials said Thursday. |Associated Press|


Untitled post #32

Well, it's about time for me to cut out of work early and go watch Brazil kick the crap out of Croatia. I leave you with the wisdom of Dave Eggers:
It's inevitable, given the way the U.S. teams are improving every year, that eventually we will make it to the semifinals of the World Cup, and it's likely, one would think, that the United States will win it all in the near future. This is a country of limitless wealth and 300 million people, after all, and when we dedicate the proper resources to a project, we get the job done (see Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq).|link|

Oh, wait, here's a thought of my own (spurred by the opening paragraphs of Eggers' article). The popularity of youth soccer in the U.S. is one of the reasons that the U.S. isn't very good at soccer. This is because American youth soccer is just barely a sport. It's kids running around with no particular idea of why they're doing it. It's tag with a ball but without purpose. It isn't, in short, the sort of activity that one improves at or cares much about improving at.

What the fitz?

The left-wing of the blogosphere (of which I usually consider myself to be part) is positively despondent that Rove appears to be in the clear regarding Plamegate. I don't get it. So far, there has been very little to suggest that Fitzgerald is anything other than a professional doing his job competently. If he isn't planning on indicting Rove, doesn't that suggest that maybe Rove isn't guilty?

I confess I'm less and less confident in my regular left-wing outlets for information. It's frustrating, but at this point I can count the left-leaning blogs that are rigorous about their information on one (and a half) hands. I'm sure there are many that I don't know about or don't read, but I do read all the famous ones.


Pandering to the masses, Oklahoma bans violent video games...and nudity

Gamesutra reports that the Oklahoma governor has signed House Bill 3004, which according to Gamesutra will require that violent video games will have to be kept in a closed room much the way adult movies are currently treated.

Poking around on the Oklahoma legislature website, I found the bill which claims:

"Harmful to minors" means:...that quality of any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse... or any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of inappropriate violence...|Link|

Ah, how I miss the Bible belt. This is another worthless law that will never get enforced because its too vague to enforce.

Of course, the Dem's want to get in on this anti-video game action too as illustrated by Hilary Rodham Clinton's recent media guide.

Without a bright line rule, it's going to be very difficult for video game makers to meet these standards. Oklahoma's rejection of the ESRB rating system without providing any concrete guidance will make this law a nightmare to enforce. Some prosecutors might try for publicity purposes, but they'll waste a lot of taxpayers' money trying to define social standards and show that these vague standards were violated.

It's just a soundbite of a law without any real thought behind it.

Video games are very powerful and can have negative and positive effects on children (and adults), as I've written elsewhere. Legislators are right to be interested in that, but these sorts of laws are worthless.


World Cup: Funny names edition

Costa Rica just lost to Germany 4-2. Perhaps it's because the Costa Rican goalie's name is a homonym for "porous!"

Friday beautiful game blogging


Friday dumb game blogging, live action edition

SF zero



It happened on 6.6.6

Might as well follow this link.


In news of the totally awesome

Wired news has a story up about how one can get a sixth sense (a sense of magnetism) by inserting a small magnet under the skin of one's ring finger. Just by feeling it moving around against the very sensitive nerves of the fingertips, one can actually sense things like whether or not a wire currently conducting electricity or when a hard drive is spinning. The future is now!

In other totally awesome news, go here and check out this picture. It's a bridge over a river... for another river. It's hard to imagine until you see it. (I found that at Dubious Quality).


Grand Theft Auto for the God-Fearin'

Mark Morford's take on the newest Christian video game is worth a read. Who among us hasn't hasn't secretly yearned for a grand crusade where morality is black-and-white and we're the good guys smiting the evil-doers?

Now every militant Christian can act out their fantasies in a video game based on the Left Behind series.

Are you a true believer? Do you just know deep down in your black Wal-Mart socks that every word of the Bible is the absolute literal truth and nothing dare be doubted and anyone who thinks [otherwise] should be strung up by their small intestine and beaten with sticks sharpened by Mel Gibson's teeth?

Do you feel, furthermore, that human cretins like, say, gays and Jews and Wiccans and all those hippie weirdos with their iPods and low-cut jeans and easy laughter are a plague upon this fine and holy land?

Do you think ...that you should probably go out into the street right now and behead a few lambs and perhaps mow down some Taoists with a Gatling gun just to deflect its horrible notions of the sacredness of the feminine divine? You do?

Praise Jesus! Your video game has arrived....."Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game, based on the freakishly best-selling series of apocalyptic trash-lit books. It's an ultraviolent, hilariously inept, wondrously accurate portrayal of what every true right-wing Christian fundamentalist really fantasizes about after they've had one too many pink wine spritzers and have logged a few hours in the gay chat rooms and have sufficiently indoctrinated their happily numb kids with tales of vile homos and scary "progressive" liberals who want to buy them candy and tattoo their sacrums and feed them organic hot dogs.|SF Chronicle|



So I could post about something important, or about Morgellon's Disease, but instead here's some insight into my character. I'm a baseball fan. For the last eight years or so I've followed the Astros pretty closely. Just now I read this paragraph over at King Kaufman's Sports Daily:
On this same morning last year, the Astros were 19-32, in last place in the Central Division, 10 and a half games from the nearest playoff spot. And it looked legit, too. They looked like a bad team going nowhere, and that's just where they went, if you consider the World Series "nowhere."

And then I went directly to baseball-reference.com to see if it was true that the Astros had been in the World Series. It was! And then I remembered A.J. Pierzynski despite the best efforts of my considerable psychic defense mechanisms.

In other baseball fandom news, I decided last week to take a run at becoming a Tigers fan, on the grounds that I now live pretty close to Comerica Park and even closer to a Comerica ATM. The fact that the Tigers had the best record in baseball had, of course, nothing to do with my decision. Anyway, I tuned my radio to the games and the team promptly lost three out of four to the Yankees and two out of three to the Red Sox. A.J. and the ChiSox are coming to town today and that could be the last straw.

Go Pistons! Oh wait...


Oh, Canada!

Don't know about the rest of you folks, but I'm calmly waiting for somebody to make the connection between (a) buiding a physical barrier across the U.S. border with Mexico; and, (b) seventeen Canadian Islamic extremists arrested with three metric shitloads of high explosives.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

The universe grows smaller every day

(via TDQ)

Specifically, Louis has isolated strange, thick-walled, red-tinted cell-like structures about 10 microns in size. Stranger still, dozens of his experiments suggest that the particles may lack DNA yet still reproduce plentifully, even in water superheated to nearly 600˚F. (The known upper limit for life in water is about 250˚F.) So how to explain them? Louis speculates that the particles could be extraterrestrial bacteria adapted to the harsh conditions of space and that the microbes hitched a ride on a comet or meteorite that later broke apart in the upper atmosphere and mixed with rain clouds above India. If his theory proves correct, the cells would be the first confirmed evidence of alien life and, as such, could yield tantalizing new clues to the origins of life on Earth. |Is It Raining Aliens?|


[French 'étioler', from Norman French 'étieuler', to grow into haulm, from 'éteule', stalk, from Old French 'esteule', from Latin 'stipula', stalk]

trans. v.
In botany, to cause a plant to develop without chlorophyl by preventing exposure to sunlight.
2. To cause to appear pale and sickly.
3. To make weak by stunting the growth or development of.


Friday dumb game blogging, "can you beat 7 seconds? I did!" edition


Bonus (or maybe the word is 'extra') dumb game: Puke Ball


Via Yglesias:
One reason for the persistence of these Democratic phobias has been the party’s abysmal inability, a year and a half after the fact, to reckon with the real reason for Kerry’s loss in the 2004 campaign: once again, fear. Kerry’s campaign was driven by a fear of his shadow (his antiwar activism after Vietnam), of seeming too strident by attacking, even when he himself was being attacked (first by Karl Rove’s “senator flip-flop” campaign, then by the Swift Boat veterans). How else can one explain the inexplicable—the spectacle of a Silver Star winner made to look wimpy by two men who avoided combat? Simple: He was terrified of speaking out. His campaign even toned down the convention speech of that most mild-mannered of presidents, Jimmy Carter. |Mark Hirsch|

Speaking just for myself, I'm not going to vote for another Democrat who refuses to tack left. Ever.
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