Anatomy of a scab

Question: If, during the writer's strike, a writer donates a screenplay to a production company in return for nothing other than a screenplay credit, is that writer crossing the metaphorical picket line?



Fears that hold so still you can study them

I'm sitting in the big blind with five nine off and the guy in first position -- who happens to be the big stack -- comes in with a small raise and the table folds around to me. I call, figuring it's a cheap opportunity to build my table image as a player who gives action. What do you know, the flop comes five five seven rainbow and I'm looking at a set. I check and the big stack goes all in.

What's the right play? Well, he probably doesn't have a five which means that I don't have to worry about being out-kicked. So it's either a pure bluff, an open ended straight draw, or a pocket pair. Of all that, the only hand better than mine are pocket sevens. Of all the hands he might have, it's only with the straight draw that I'd consider making the bet he did. But that's my game and this guy has been over-betting strong hands and folding to raises all night. And, anyway, why would he raise pre-flop with six eight? So I put him on pocket sevens. And yet I make the call. And of course he's holding hockey sticks. As it happened, I sucked out a nine on the river to take the hand.

I'd like to be able to explain my call by saying that, in the long run, sticking to the principle of never folding a set will be a more successful strategy than sometimes folding. And that may even be right. But the honest truth is that I called because I just couldn't bring myself to let go of the best hand I'd seen in awhile.

Here's my question. Did I make a read on this guy or not? On the one hand, there's no denying that the little voice inside my head said that he was sitting on sevens. On the other hand, Aristotle assures me that if I'd really believed that he had the nut set then I would have folded.

Did you know...

...about this?


Dubious Distinctions: Tyrants and Sycophants

Arthur Silber suggests that the Democrats are morally worse than the Republicans.
[T]he Democrats are now worse than the Republicans... The Republicans proudly assert their support of our aggressively interventionist foreign policy... The Republicans also proudly and repeatedly confirm their support for a dictatorial executive branch, indeed... The Republicans stake this criminal territory for themselves, they do so without apology, and they act accordingly.

Meanwhile, the Democrats say that they now oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But they consistently and adamantly refuse to recognize the criminal nature of what the U.S. has done. At worst, they will say that the invasion of Iraq was a monumental "blunder," and that the invasion and occupation have been executed "incompetently." They cannot and will not say that we have committed a crime of historic proportions. ...

In a similar manner, the Democrats say they oppose an authoritarian executive branch, and that they oppose the incipient dictatorship at home.

Despite these protestations, they permitted the Military Commissions Act to pass -- and they have provided no indication whatsoever that they propose to repeal it. The Democrats helped pass the FISA bill several months ago -- an act that significantly increases the government's surveillance powers.

At every opportunity, the Democrats either fail to mount any serious opposition or they actively support the further means to a more oppressive government...

So which is worse? Those who support evil, but insist they believe it is good? Or those who support evil while claiming, at least some of the time, that they actually know it is evil?

|The Barren, Deadly Wasteland that Is Now Our Life - Once Upon a Time|

I'm not sure I agree with Mr. Silber's conclusion that the Democrats are somehow worse than the Republicans.

Certainly the hypocrisy (and impotence) of the Democrats is disheartening, but how can you claim that is worse than a party that is openly and cheerfully evil?

Am I missing something important here?

In internet years, I'm about 90 years old

I'm just saying that, yeah, the internet pipes are fat enough to contain all the "You Tubes" one could possibly want. But in the brief period between the conception of the internet browser and the new, media-rich internet, there was a time when good old-fashioned reading had a glorious resurgence.

And just like that, it was gone. And I miss it. And I don't go to Talking Points Memo nearly as often since they started posting half their content in videos. Also, Josh Marshall is no Rocketboom girl, whatever her name was.


A ruling bureaucracy was created instead, insulating the vanguard from the proletariat

Two notable events from April 18, 1991: (1) At or around 8:00pm I was accidentally dosed with LSD; (2) I stayed up the rest of the night to finish a term paper. The title was "Theory and Practice: A Comparison of Lenin's Pre-Revolution Ideas and the Policies of War Communism." Here's an excerpt from the concluding section:
Soviet agricultural policy under War Communism was motivated both by practical and ideological considerations. Grain requisitioning became a necessity to feed the cities when the old system of distribution broke down. The persecution of the Kulak and other members of what Lenin called the "petty-bourgeoisie" was called for in State and Revolution. The Bolsheviks attempted to ground their grain requisitioning in theory by taking the surplus generated by the Kulaks, but in reality the definition of Kulak became so stretched as to be virtually meaningless and requisitioning committees often ignored distinctions between rich and poor peasants anyway.

Both more cogent and more dull than the literature on LSD would lead one to expect.


A note about "Conservapedia"

This blogger is continuously astonished at how his suspicions about social conservatives are confirmed over and over again. Via eggsyntax:
Wikipedia is "The Free Encyclopedia." What's on the mind of Wikipedia its readers? Here are the top ten most viewed pages on Wikipedia:

Main Page [30,090,900]
Wiki [904,800]
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [413,400]
Naruto [401,400]
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock [396,000]
United States [330,000]
Wikipedia [329,400]
Deaths in 2007 [321,300]
Heroes (TV series) [307,500]
Transformers (film) [303,600]

Conservapedia is "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia." What's on the mind of its readers? Here are the top ten most viewed pages on Conservapedia:

Main Page‎ [1,906,729]
Homosexuality‎ [1,572,713]
Homosexuality and Hepatitis‎ [517,086]
Homosexuality and Promiscuity‎ [420,687]
Gay Bowel Syndrome‎ [389,052]
Homosexuality and Parasites‎ [388,123]
Homosexuality and Domestic Violence‎ [365,888]
Homosexuality and Gonorrhea‎ [331,553]
Homosexuality and Mental Health‎ [291,179]
Homosexuality and Syphilis‎ [265,322


Funny thing

I was watching Meet the Press (or maybe it was Face the Nation) this morning and they replayed Senator Clinton's gaffe from a few debates ago where -- as I'm sure you recall -- she failed to say that NY Governor Spitzer's plan to provide driver's licences to illegal aliens would lead to the destruction of the American way of life. I thought she gave a good answer, so good that it made me feel a lot better about the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Thus, I conclude that her candidacy is doomed.


Dept of corrections

From last December:
Speaking of exclusion from the Hall of Fame, Steve Garvey is down to two years of ballot eligibility. He was named on only a quarter of ballots last year, and has never been named on more than 43%, so it's looking like he won't make it into the Hall of Fame. It's a shame. |link|

It turns out, though, that last year was Garvey's last on the ballot. Oops.

And it is a shame. Especially when you look at the list of players coming on to the ballot over the next two years. Ricky Henderson is a first ballot lock in 2009, but nobody else looks likely to make the Hall, let alone on the first ballot. Tim Raines is probably the next strongest candidate, and he doesn't meet barely even meets my lax standards. With that kind of competition, there might have been room for Garvey.

By the by, while tooling around baseball-reference.com I noticed a stat I hadn't seen before -- HOF Monitor. Here's the description:
This is another Jamesian creation. It attempts to assess how likely (not how deserving) an active player is to make the Hall of Fame. It's rough scale is 100 means a good possibility and 130 is a virtual cinch. It isn't hard and fast, but it does a pretty good job.

Follow the link to see the rules for assigning points. Steve Garvey scored 130.5 points.

This post has been edited by its author.



cash advance

via post-graduate-reading-level blogger Neal.

First against the wall (presumably to be shot)

From Ogged, we consider the quetion of who should be "first against the wall when the revolution comes." Ogged chooses John Yoo, and I admit that his reasons are sound ("... I genuinely hate him..."). Personally I find it difficult to hate over politics. Perhaps it's a weakness.

I guess I would go with Fred Phelps. What about you, dear readers?


Wingnuts debunking wingnuts

Bill Kristol thinks that Joe Lieberman would make a great Veep candidate for some republican. It would do all sorts of things, including "scramble the political chess board." In response, Ramesh Ponnuru is making sense:
Lieberman for Veep?

I'm not sure what the case for putting him on the ticket is. To prove that Republicans are willing to reach out to Democrats whom most Democrats hate? To show that Republicans are the hawkish party? I think people already know that.


You can't irrigate the desert with the tears of Amy Winehouse

Because of the salt. Obviously.

Anyway, I never do this, but Dave3544 tagged me with a meme and since I'm not going to get around to that for awhile, I thought I'd throw up a random ten. Here you go:
  1. I Wanna Be Free – Loretta Lynn
  2. I Don’t Want Anything – Lezli Valentine
  3. Epistrophy – Thelonious Monk
  4. Kool Keith’s A#! – Princess Superstar
  5. This Woman – Desmond Dekker
  6. Nowhere To Stand – k.d. lang
  7. Doin’ Time – Sublime
  8. Sitting on Top of the World – Mississippi Sheiks
  9. A-Tisket A-Tasket – Chick Webb & His Orchestra featuring Ella Fitzgerald
  10. Breaking The Law – Judas Priest

Bonus Track: Just Over in the Gloryland – Anonymous 4

Quote of the month

"There's also the question of who would control the weather."



I'll give you agreeable, woody, and complex...

In 2001, Frederic Brochet, of the University of Bordeaux, conducted two separate and very mischievous experiments. In the first test, Brochet invited 57 wine experts and asked them to give their impressions of what looked like two glasses of red and white wine. The wines were actually the same white wine, one of which had been tinted red with food coloring. But that didn't stop the experts from describing the "red" wine in language typically used to describe red wines. One expert praised its "jamminess," while another enjoyed its "crushed red fruit." Not a single one noticed it was actually a white wine.

The second test Brochet conducted was even more damning. He took a middling Bordeaux and served it in two different bottles. One bottle was a fancy grand-cru. The other bottle was an ordinary vin du table. Despite the fact that they were actually being served the exact same wine, the experts gave the differently labeled bottles nearly opposite ratings. The grand cru was "agreeable, woody, complex, balanced and rounded," while the vin du table was "weak, short, light, flat and faulty". Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only 12 said the cheap wine was.

The blogger goes on to make some points about subjectivity that sound about right, but I don't think they are necessary to explain the horseshit that is wine and food criticism.

Did you know...

... that Japan is now the world’s second-largest producer of single-malt whisky? It might be true!


Since that 'mission accomplished' banner didn't work out...

All over the conservative b-sphere, there's a renewed sense of hope about Iraq, as the result of the actions depicted in one picture, summed up in this comic:

And I know, I know, their point is that there are some muslims there helping out with that there cross. But really.

Semiotically speaking, it's a picture of christian conquest!


This's a hidden secret where classics come from

In other news, not yet Dr. Warner makes an important observation in the ongoing toilet-seat wars:
It seems that I hear a lot more women complaining about this than men. It has just become assumed that men should carry the burden of lowering the seat when they’re done. And if they don’t, it’s just gross. Why is that? It seems like men would have just as strong of a complaint of gross-ness when having to raise the seat.

True enough. But is this really where the grossness complaint comes from? When this topic was last discussed in these parts Deer commented that:
These analyses fail to factor in the "cost" of going to the restroom in the middle of night, attempting to sit down on the toilet which has been left in the "up" position, falling into the toilet, thus having one's ass covered in toilet water (not to mention splashing toilet water all over the floors and walls), thereby necessitating a middle of the night shower.

And I guess I'd have to grant that this is a lot grosser than touching the toilet seat in order to lower it -- even when we're talking about the toilet seat at my swinging bachelor pad.

But I have to say that I've never quite understood where this particular problem comes from. While the great majority of my trips to the bathroom are for the purposes of micturition and so need not involve sitting upon the toilet, I have also, on occassion, been required by various biological processes to recline upon the commode. By my best estimation this has occurred no fewer than 15,000 times. And yet I have never once become soggy for lack of a seat. Perhaps I have unrivaled skills in this arena, but my considered judgment is that anyone can achieve similar results by exercising a modicum of care. Which leads me to the conclusion that if the argument from grossness is just about avoiding this consequence, then it doesn't prove very much.

But I think it's about more than that.

In fact, I think the not-yet-Dr. puts her finger on the core issue when she makes plain that we really are talking about the allocation of a burden. Lifting or lowering a seat may not be a difficult task, but when it comes to the allocation of work it isn't always the intensity of the effort that matters. Whoever does it, the task of raising or lowering the toilet seat has some grossness associated with it. Perhaps it is too much to say that the task itself is degrading, but one doesn't have to listen too intently to the rhetoric of women -- particularly the imagery of sitting bare assed in toilet water -- to hear that part of the issue here is a fear of degradation.

By leaving the seat up a man renders the toilet a device which is not usable by a woman. By habitually leaving the seat up a man creates an environment in which the normal thing for a toilet to be is a device which is not usable by a woman. Which, other things being equal and the argument from grossness notwithstanding, wouldn't be that big a deal. It's a toilet seat for cripes sakes. But other things aren't equal, and so the toilet becomes yet another part of the world which is more suitable for the uses of men than the uses of women.

Except that the toilet is not just another part of the world. The toilet is a peculiarly intimate appliance, and as such the practices and conventions which surround it take on disproportionate importance. Except, that is, if you happen to be a dude. If you're a dude then you have the privilege of not thinking about any of this, the privilege of treating it as something below your notice, the privilege of forgetting several times a day that you have the power, through inaction, to render the domestic environment manly.

Which should bring us back to the allocation of burdens, the fear of degradation, and the question of what it might mean for men to exercise a modicum of care. But this post has already strayed a little further into didacticism than I would have liked, so instead, here's a quote and a picture:

Excrement may be regarded as the corpse of nourishment, what remains when the vital elements in food have been exhausted. In this respect, excrement is a representation of death that we ourselves produce and that, indeed, we cannot help producing in the very process of maintaining our lives. Perhaps it is for making death so intimate that we find excrement so repulsive. --Harry Frankfurt


The Writer's Strike

Really, DR isn't "busy," he just didn't want to cross a picket line. Any picket line.

Anyway, there is one reason to be enthusiastic about the strike: It's an occasion to for Ze Frank to return to v-blogging.

Also, I found this post by Fake Steve Jobs to be pretty entertaining. Here are a couple excerpts:
I guess we can't blame these writers. They've all got big stupid houses in Los Angeles and Hawaii, plus Porsches and Land Rovers and way more money than they ever deserved and they got it all for producing what history will view as probably the worst bulk of absolute fecal matter that has ever been passed off onto the world. Honestly these guys have run the biggest scam I've ever seen. Now they're clinging to that fat stupid system that has served them so well.

Obtain a clue, people. You're sitting there fighting over residuals and terms of this and that when what you should be doing is leaving the system altogether and helping to build the next one. But you can't do that because you can't get off the heroin of network money. You're hooked to a lifestyle. For all your groovy talk and hip little soul patch beards, you're the most risk-averse people in the world. You're lifers. I mean, you belong to a fucking union! How fucked up and 20th century is that?


"Heroes" thread

Sorry for the geek out, but I'm missing my normal opportunities to chat about this while I am traveling, so here goes. As the kids say, SPOILERz ALERT:

ITEM: I totally saw the Kensei = Adam thing coming, the moment he swore eternal vengeance on Hiro. I'm just sayin'. Anyway, my next prediction is that Kensei turns out to be a hero after all. Why? Well, mostly because of bad writing. But also because, who else is going to cut out his own heart, which Kensei did in the story, except for some dude who can live forever?

ITEM: So, Kensei must be a Patrelli family ancestor, right? Cause Claire has the same ability...

ITEM: So, Peter took his new girlfriend to the future, and then traveled back to the present without her. That means, he can't change the future, because if he does, he erases the future in which she, uh, is. Am I right?

I believe that children are the future... of terrorism!

Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Al-Qaeda is recruiting British children to carry out a terrorist attack on home soil, the head of the U.K.'s domestic security service said.

"Children" gives the wrong idea, because the youngest age the article mentions is fifteen years old.

But, it reminded me of a story about DR: At one point his mom called the cops, convinced that DR was doing drugs in his room because she found a spoon in there. And, as we all know, spoon use equates with heroin use, even when the spoon is covered in peanut butter.

I shudder to think what kind of interactions kids are going to have with their parents when the parents start suspecting them of being in league with Bin Laden.


What's up with the light posting?

Perhaps there is a mathematical explanation. It might, for example, have to do with Benford's Law which "states that in lists of numbers from many real-life sources of data, the leading digit is 1 almost one third of the time, and larger numbers occur as the leading digit with less and less frequency as they grow in magnitude, to the point that 9 is the first digit less than one time in twenty" (source).

A more likely explanation, though, is that I'm pretty busy these days and probably will be through at least April. I'll try to avoid ten day lapses between posts, but I can't make any promises. And the math would seem to imply that the when posts aren't daily the likely gap will be ten to nineteen days.

By the by, it occurred to me that if the Benford's Law article were a hoax I wouldn't be able to tell, so I asked a couple of mathematicians of my acquaintance about it. The response? "Pretty interesting."


I don't wanna play anymore...

"You euthanized your faithful companion cube faster than any test subject on record. Congratulations!"
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