Before godzilla destroys us all...

... have a great weekend. Here's some haiku:

and many many more.


Just... less talk, you know?

Speaking of video games, they share something with other creative works: The more you talk about them, the longer they they take to finish. And the worse they turn out when finally finished.

Which is why my enthusiasm for Superbrother's iPhone game, Sword & Sorcery EP, has dipped with every new PR update and BoingBoing post.

The thing is, I love the style, and I agree with almost everything in their Less Talk, More Rock manifesto. I'd really like to see an actual game that embodies their design ideas. Until they can deliver something that delivers, though, I'd really prefer that they turn down their hype machine. Their game is famous before it even exists. If it were a novel or an actual EP, that's often the kiss of death.


Having kids makes you sad

....there is a large body of evidence suggesting that kids aren't exactly a bundle of joy. For instance, recent work has shown that parents with more kids are more likely to suffer from depression, probably because each additional kid increases the stress burden. As the Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert notes, "The only known symptom of the empty-nest syndrome is increased smiling. Careful studies of how women feel as they go about their daily activities show that they are less happy when taking care of their children than when eating, exercising, shopping, napping, or watching television." According to the data, looking after the kids is only marginally better than mopping the floor. Most people are happier watching bad TV than spending time with their offspring. |via|


"Obama snoozed, oil oozed"

This morning on MSNBC's daily train wreck called Morning Joe, everyone was in agreement that the BP spill was turning into "Obama's Katrina," and that the administration needed to have somebody down there taking decisive action, acting "mad as hell," and solving the problem. 

But it's really not clear that the government or BP has any idea what to do. It's not like Katrina, where the government is failing to pull the trigger on the obvious next steps. There is no obvious solution. And I could be wrong, but I suspect that being "mad as hell" isn't going to accomplish a lot by itself. 

That said, it looks like Obama is going to move in on the operation, pushing out BP. And although it will cause him to "own" the spill more than he already does, I guess I'd rather have Steven Chu running things than the liability lawyers over at BP.     

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Kevin Costner is here to help

Kevin Costner has saved democracy, saved England, and saved the world. He has a brother who is a scientist. Together, they are going to save us from the BP oil spill.


Costner's high-speed centrifuge machine has a Los Angeles-perfect name: "Ocean Therapy."
Placed on a barge, it sucks in large quantities of polluted water, separates out the oil and spits back 97% clean water.
"It's like a big vacuum cleaner," said Costner's business partner, Louisiana trial lawyer John Houghtaling.
"The machines are basically sophisticated centrifuge devices that can handle a huge volume of water," he said.
The "Field of Dreams" star first got a team together to create the device in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.
His scientist brother, Dan Costner, helped develop the device, and together, the brothers formed Costner Industries Nevada Corp. to pursue various energy projects, including a non-chemical battery that could last 15 years.
The 55-year-old actor eventually sank $26 million into the Ocean Therapy oil separator project. He obtained a license for the device from the Department of Energy in 1993 and has been trying for years to promote it.
British Petroleum - desperate for ideas - gave the okay to test six of Costner's gizmos this week, said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles.

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Mozart would have been wicked good at Call of Duty

At his always-excellent Frontal Cortex blog, Jonah Lehrer compiles some evidence that education in the arts is good for the brain in general. And then he starts talking about videogames, self-expression, and flow:


As they say in "Miller's Crossing," it's an interesting question of ethics

A usually unquestioned staple of modern rhetoric is that we should not apply our contemporary moral or ethical values to historical figures. For example, Thomas Jefferson can be a hero of the country, even though he owned slaves, because, hey, everybody was doing it back in the day. But I have questions. 

Question 1: How does this assertion stand up to rigorous analysis by philosophers? What do actual ethicists say about this? (Paging Professor Hamilton...)

Question 2: Can it apply to living people, or do you have to be dead? I mean, Pat Buchanan (along with crazy uncles across the country) gets a bit of a pass for all the crazy stuff he says. But Strom Thurmond, probably because he needed to be re-elected, was expected to evolve with the times.

Question 3 comes from T-Rex:


What's the worst that could happen?

Over at the Atlantic, Joshua Green blogs:
A couple weeks ago, I suggested that the BP oil spill would actually make climate legislation less likely to pass the Senate, neatly highlighting the perversity of that institution. In the past, disasters often helped spur new legislation, rather than kill it. Yesterday, on "Meet the Press," Chuck Schumer agreed. Schumer said the spill "changed the politics" of the bill--for one thing, its Republican co-sponsor, Lindsay Graham, dropped out--and noted that "it's going to be harder to get one done given that drilling off coast was a part of the compromise."
It just goes to show how reality can dramatically trump shallow political calculation. For the last few months, compromising with Republicans on off-shore drilling seemed like good, pragmatic politics. It was a hot-button issue for the Palin-iacs. So offering up some concessions in that area to make important gains in other areas of energy and environmental policy just made sense. I thought so, anyway. Apparently, so did Pres. Obama. 

And, after all, what could go wrong?

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You guys are doing it wrong

Racists and other types of idiots are having a quite a time in Arizona. Over at The Corner*, Mark Krikorian approvingly brings us the following news.

As a protest against Arizona’s controversial immigration law, the chambers of commerce from Nuevo Laredo to Matamoros have agreed to set May 25 as a “Day Without Mexicans” on the South Texas border.
Business leaders are calling on all Mexican nationals to avoid crossing the international bridges into the United States for any reason, but particularly for shopping, on that day.

Yes, of the people crossing the border, afternoon shoppers bringing money into the U.S. are clearly the worst.

I've been somewhat dismissive of the whole "Arizona's gone crazy" kerfuffle as a temporary and misguided reaction to legitimate problems with international drug violence. But Josh Marshall points to some uglier stuff going on, and says it is basically overt ethnic strife:


Print this out

Put the print out by your TV. And prepare for some early morning drinking (if that's your thing).
It's time for World Cup 2010. England v USA (USA! USA!) on Saturday, June 12:


Regarding our crushing tax burden

From our nation's most colorful newspaper:
Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year sinceHarry Truman's presidency, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data found.

Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010. 

"The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts," says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberalCenter for American Progress
I've been saying forevers and evers that it's time to raise taxes. An increase to the average tax rate of the last 50 years (properly progressive, mind) would go a long way towards righting our economic boat, especially as revenues are likely to bloom along with the recovering economy.

That's the main point of this post, but let me also register a personal peeve about these kinds of articles. Consider:

Individual tax rates vary widely based on how much a taxpayer earns, where the person lives and other factors. On average, though, the tax rate paid by all Americans — rich and poor, combined — has fallen 26% since the recession began in 2007. That means a $3,400 annual tax savings for a household paying the average national rate and earning the average national household income of $102,000. [Emphasis added.]
Emphasis added. So, aside from my work friends (who are all captains of industry, etc., etc.) I know very few people who have a household income of over $100K. This is a case where "average" really, really, does not mean "typical."

My friends may all be artists, writers, teachers, and other societal misfits, but in terms of income, they are mostly doing better than the typical American family. The typical American family would be thrilled to have their household income skyrocket to $102,000. 

(Of course, if it did, they would immediately start grumbling about taxes and voting Rebublican.) 

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