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Showing posts from March, 2008

Quinn!

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It's been a while since I've done any baby blogging. Here's Quinn at his new water table in the back yard:

Photo by Sarah Taylor

Lots more cute pictures of Quinn can be found in our latest album in our public gallery.

Obama endorsements continue to come in

The Democratic party does seem to be coalescing:
WASHINGTON -- Slowly but steadily, a string of Democratic Party figures is taking Barack Obama's side in the presidential nominating race and raising the pressure on Hillary Clinton to give up.Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is expected to endorse Sen. Obama Monday, according to a Democrat familiar with her plans. Meanwhile, North Carolina's seven Democratic House members are poised to endorse Sen. Obama as a group -- just one has so far -- before that state's May 6 primary, several Democrats say.Helping to drive the endorsements is a fear that the Obama-Clinton contest has grown toxic and threatens the Democratic Party's chances against Republican John McCain in the fall.

What's going on in Basra?

Kevin Drum has a series of posts on this subject. Here's his latest:
In urban warfare like this it's frequently hard to figure out who's "won" and who's "lost." Often both sides lose. In this case, though, it certainly looks as if Maliki has lost more than Sadr. Both sides have taken casualties, but Sadr doesn't appear to have lost any ground; he's forced Maliki to come to him to ask for terms; he's successfully projected a statesmanlike image throughout; and politically he seems to be in stronger shape than before. Maliki, conversely, appears by all accounts to have launched an ill-timed mission with inadequate troops and then been unable to close the deal. The Iraqi army and the redoubtable Gen. Mohan al-Furayji, the much lauded leader of the regular forces in Basra, are both looking pretty banged up in the bargain too.This could all change tomorrow, but right now that's about where we stand. It's increasingly hard to see how th…

Democratic power brokers want nominee before convention

It looks like Harry Reid wasn't wrong when he said "Things are being done." Now Speaker of the House Nacy Pelosi is saying that the Democrats should have a nominee shortly after the last primary:
While signing autographs, [Pelosi] answered two reporters' questions, including if she thought the uncommitted Democratic superdelegates, who will likely be the deciding factor in the nomination fight, should make their preference known by July. "It will be much sooner, right after the public has voted," Pelosi said.(via Drdemocrat on DailyKos) This is good. I don't see how Clinton can win the nomination. But either way, I'm glad that folks like Reid and Pelosi are signaling that they're not going to let this drag on once all the primaries are done.

And I want to reiterate my stance that I will support either Clinton or Obama. I prefer Obama, and think that Hillary doesn't have a realistic chance of winning. And I think she should concede the nominati…

Bush, our president, is a war criminal

I don't really see any other way of construing things. It's painful to be reminded of it, but there it is.

The recent political campaign has shifted our focus away from the US government's depraved tactics. But the reality is still there. My government tortures people as a matter of official policy.

More UU jokes!

Can be found here. A sample:
"Gods Rest Ye, Unitarians" (UU Version)Gods rest ye, Unitarians, let nothing you dismay; Remember there's no evidence there was a Christmas Day; When Christ was born is just not known, no matter what they say, O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact, Glad tidings of reason and fact.Our current Christmas Customs come from Persia and from Greece, From solstice celebrations of the ancient Middle East. This whole darn Christmas spiel is just another pagan feast, O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact, Glad tidings of reason and fact.There was no star of Bethlehem, there was no angels' song; There could not have been wise men for the trip would take too long. The stories in the Bible are historically wrong, O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact, Glad tidings of reason and fact!As our minister, Bill Hamilton-Holway, once said in reference to Jesus Christ:
We believe in the glory.
Alleluia!
But we don't believe the story.

Growing up geek

When I was a child, I pined for D&D stuff & video games.

Now I'm an adult. I pine for the time to play with all my D&D stuff & video games.

Trade Show and Demo Hall of Shame

PC World did an article about famous demo disasters which appears on washingtonpost.com. It's called "The Trade Show and Demo Hall of Shame". And guess who is the first inductee:
Can a failed mind-control demo be embarrassing? After all, we're talking about some seriously complicated technology here. During this year's Game Developers' Conference, Emotiv Systemsdemonstrated its Emotiv EPOC neuroheadset, which reads brain impulses and translates what the wearer is thinking about into on-screen game movements. That's what the press release said, anyway. The demo started off smoothly enough, as the headset wearer made a giant animated head on the screen mimic his real-life facial expressions. But things went awry when the wearer was asked to make an on-screen object disappear, and again when the handlers from Emotiv tried to put EPOC through its paces in an actual game. The device didn't do much of anything. What's more, Emotiv's wireless game co…

Democratic bigwigs ready to ease Clinton out?

What else could Harry Reid mean by a statement like this? Las Vegas Review-Journalvia Marc Ambinder:
Question: Do you still think the Democratic race can be resolved before the convention?Reid: Easy.Q: How is that?Reid: It will be done.Q: It just will?Reid: Yep.Q: Magically?Reid: No, it will be done. I had a conversation with Governor Dean (Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean) today. Things are being done.Italics mine.

Internal Monologue celebrates 2 years of blogging

Welcome to my thoughts on things, which are certainly more important than your thoughts on things.

With those words I kicked off this blog 2 years ago today. More celebratory navel-gazing to come in the next few days.

Save the Mars rovers!

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An artist's concept of the rover on the Martian surface. Image from NASA/JPL.

Due to budget cuts, one of NASA's Mars rovers might be shut down:
Scientists plan to put one of the twin Mars rovers to sleep and limit the activities of the other robot to fulfill a NASA order to cut $4 million from the program's budget, mission team members said Monday. The news comes amid belt-tightening at NASA headquarters, which is under pressure to cover cost overruns of a flagship Mars mission to land a Hummer-sized rover on the Red Planet next year.The solar-powered rovers Spirit and Opportunity have dazzled scientists and the public with findings of geologic evidence that water once flowed at or near the surface of Mars long ago.Both rovers were originally planned for three-month missions at a cost of $820 million, but are now in their fourth year of exploration. It costs NASA about $20 million annually to keep the rovers running.This seems like a colossally stupid idea. The major expense…

Please vaccinate your children

Vaccines have been one of the great public health advances of modern history. But increasingly, some parents are opting out, either due to misplaced fears of autism or worries about the safety of the vaccines. I think this is very bad. I would not go so far as to call parents who do this "twee Bobo sociopaths" the way Megan McArdle does. But I think this is a case of parents not seeing the suffering that not vaccinating your children can cause. Here's a commenter to McArdles' post:
I nearly died at 15 months from a case of the measles that I contracted from an unimmunized older child. My case was so severe that I ended up with corneal scarring, which is a complication usually seen in adults. I just think that in cases like this where the good health of the public is at stake, government intervention is needed.I do think vaccine companies should be scrutinized to make sure their immunizations are as safe as possible. And there are legitimate reasons not to have certain…

The Rain of Pain Falls Mainly from McCain

Internal Monologue endurance test: How much of this pro-McCain YouTube can you watch before to turn it off and run away in horror:


All I can say is, if that video is real, then McCain is done for. If it's a Democratic hit job, then McCain is still done for. Unless of course, McCain delivers a riveting 38-minute speech clarifying his stance re: this video that simultaneously breaks the nation's long silence regarding the issue of how some people have really bad taste.

I can't find any information on whether this is real or not.

Bill Maher lays into McCain

"He's a warrior who's dumb about war." Crooks and Liars has the video.

McCain's recent statements claiming Shia Iran is supporting Sunni Al Qaeda in Iraq show what an idiot he is in the very areas in which he claims expertise. I wish the press would focus more on what a fantasyland he's living in. This guy is at least as deluded as Bush when it comes to the Middle East. That is so scary.

We cannot wait until August to start showing the nation what a nut this guy is.

Term of the Day: LOLCAT

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My wife didn't know what a Lolcat (often spelled LOLCAT, LOLCat, or LOLcat) was, so I figured there might be other readers who didn't know about this phenomenon. The best way to explain Lolcats is by example:

from A Series of Tubes


from daitengu.com

Wikipedia, is of course the place to get the proper definition of Lolcat:
A Lolcat is an image combining a photograph of an animal, most frequently a cat, with a humorous and idiosyncraticcaption in (often) broken English referred to as Kitty Pidgin[1], or lolspeak. The idea originated on 4chan imageboards as Caturday.[2][3] The name "lolcat" is a compound word of "lol" and "cat".And if I have to explain to you that "lol" means "laughing out loud", them I'm surprised you had enough savvy to find this blog post.

Girl in "3 am" Clinton ad makes ad for Obama

Remember when I blogged about how the sleeping girl in Clinton's "3 am" ad had grown up to be an Obama precinct captain? Now she's made her own Obama ad:

Man gets pregnant

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No really. A female-to-male transgender guy is pregnant. He's legally a man. Most people don't even know he was once a woman. His wife is infertile, and he still had a uterus from when he was a woman. So he decided to get pregnant via anonymous sperm donor. The baby is due July 3rd.

NP-complete problem solved in constant time

(For computer science geeks only). This xkcd cartoon is about a revolutionary constant-time solution to the famous Travelling Salesperson problem.

Clinton has already lost

Those who are familiar with the mechanics of the primary process have realized this for quite a while now. But this realization has taken it's time percolating through the American consciousness. This Politico articles looks at why that might be the case:
One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.

Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency.

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, …

The Robotrons are coming!

They can walk. Now all they need are guns and the ability to self-replicate. Robotrons may arrive well before 2084.

It's cool and scary. Definitely the quadrupedal gait is lifelike enough to fall into the uncanny valley.

For more information on this robot, "Big Dog", see this post or Boston Dynamics' web page.

MSNBC needs a new ad selection algorithm

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Nabisco should get their money back, Obama should get some free campaign ads, and MSNBC.com should get a new ad selection algorithm if this is what they put up during their live streaming of Obama's speech on race:

Image from Valleywag via a long chain starting at DailyKos.

Obama's speech

I just listened to Obama's Philadelphia race speech. Here's a link to Obama's YouTube channel. The speech is 38 minutes long and it is as good as people say. It is as forthright a discussion about racial issues in this country as you are likely to hear a politician give. The one thing I didn't like was the few times it seemed he was playing to protectionist sentiment. (Yglesias agrees.)

Obama is a good speaker. After years of having to listen to Bush it will be such a relief.

This clip has apparently been viewed 1.6 million times as of this posting. I'm sure people have seen other versions of it on YouTube as well.

And remember, Obama wrote this one himself.

In a way, it's sad that a speech like this from a presidential candidate is considered so breakthrough.

I can't wait for Americans to see Obama and McCain side by side.

UPDATE: A lot of people are watching this speech. It's "going viral" as the saying goes.

WWII German fighter ace discovers he killed his favorite author

How sad and ironic. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, beloved author of The Little Prince, was shot down and killed by a German fighter pilot during WWII. That German pilot's favorite author at the time was Saint-Exupery. The pilot just found out recently that he killed Saint-Exupery. What must it be like to discover that you killed someone you admire? How sad.

This, of course, just brings home the devastation and suffering that all killing produces.

McCain confuses Shia and Sunni

No, McCain, the Iranians are primarily backing Shia groups in Iraq, because Iranians are predominantly Shia. Al-Qaeda is Sunni. If you want to be president, you should know this. But apparently, you don't:
Sen. John McCain, traveling in the Middle East to promote his foreign policy expertise, misidentified in remarks Tuesday which broad category of Iraqi extremists are allegedly receiving support from Iran. He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.I'll have to look into this further, but it seems to blow any foreign policy credibility he has completely out of the water. It's frightening that he could make a mistake like this.

What Krugman did with his spare time in the 1970's

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Maybe he was reading a lot of Arthur C. Clarke:

Click the image for a link to the pdf of the whole paper.

Obama is cool...

...because he wrote the speech himself.

Arthur C. Clarke dies

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Image from 3 Quarks Daily

Another loss for geeks everywhere, though Clarke didn't mean as much to me as Gygax. I wonder if Rendezvous with Rama will make a good movie. I liked that novel a lot. Of course, any Arthur C. Clarke movie adaptation must live in the enormous shadow of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This Kos diarist posted this YouTube clip in Clarke's honor:

The Delegate Math

Here's more than you ever wanted to know about delegate math. Man, the way we do this is complicated.

What it boils down to is this: Depending on what happens with the remaining contests, and what happens with Florida and Michigan, Clinton would need to get from about two-thirds (if things go her way) to three quarters (if they go Obama's way) of the currently undeclared superdelegates to go for her to secure the nomination. I think this is highly unlikely, but it is possible.

By the way, Clinton and McCain should probably both release their tax returns. Obama released his.

Why Bear Stearns is collapsing UPDATED

UPDATE: JP Morgan is going to buy Bear Stearns...for ONE FIFTEENTH the price that it was at close of market on Friday:
The deal calls for J.P. Morgan to pay $2 a share in a stock-swap transaction, with J.P. Morgan Chase exchanging 0.05473 share of its common stock for each Bear Stearns share. Both companies' boards have approved the transaction, which values Bear Stearns at just $236 million based on the number of shares outstanding as of Feb. 16. At Friday's close, Bear Stearns's stock-market value was about $3.54 billion. It finished at $30 a share in 4 p.m. New York Stock Exchange composite trading Friday.Emphasis added. What happened between Friday afternoon and now that would cause Bear Stearns to lose 93% of its value? Or what did the boards of those companies (who approved the deal) know that the investors on Wall Street didn't? Some one clue me in, please.

DailyKos's pontificator is equally flabbergasted:
That is ridiculous. The Wall Street Journal was repor…

Mad Latinist's Gygaxiana collection

Mad Latinist has a great compilation of Gary Gygax tributes.

Revotes in Michigan and/or Florida may not be so good for Clinton

From TAPPED via Sullivan:
What would happen if an agreement were announced today that there would be re-votes in Florida and Michigan? Immediately, the previous primaries in those states would become dead letters. Instead of being 200,000 votes down in the popular vote (by her campaign's count), or 500,000 down (by my count, which gives Clinton her Florida votes), Clinton would be down in the popular vote by almost 1 million. And 193 delegates that they are currently counting would suddenly disappear. And at that point, the magnitude of Clinton's deficit would be too obvious to spin away. Yes, there would be two additional large-state contests in which to win back the million popular votes and hundreds of delegates. But unless she did significantly better in both states than she did in the illegal primaries, she would lose, not gain, ground, by her own calculations. Since she was on the ballot alone in Michigan before, it's highly unlikely that she will do better there. It…

Don't take too long in the bathroom...

Mad Latinist pays tribute to Gygax

...by writing an entry for Ernestus Geisericus Gygax on Vicipaedia, the Latin Wikipedia.

Republicans have a corruption problem

Fortunately, this time a Republican was stealing from his own party:
The former treasurer for the National Republican Congressional Committee diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and possibly as much as $1 million -- of the organization's funds into his personal accounts, GOP officials said yesterday, describing an alleged scheme that could become one of the largest political frauds in recent history. For at least four years, Christopher J. Ward, who is under investigation by the FBI, allegedly used wire transfers to funnel money out of NRCC coffers and into other political committee accounts he controlled as treasurer, NRCC leaders and lawyers said in their first public statement since they turned the matter over to the FBI six weeks ago. "The evidence we have today indicated we have been deceived and betrayed for a number of years by a highly respected and trusted individual," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the NRCC chairman.P.S.: Isn't it annoying what wor…

One Laptop per Child

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Here's a worthy cause if there ever was one: getting laptop computers to children in poor parts of the world. They've made a special laptop that's designed especially for children. One of my co-workers got one as a hacking project (actually he got two: in order to get one, you have to order two. You get one, and one is donated to a child somewhere). Everyone at work was oohing and ahhing over it. Above is a picture I took with my cellphone. (There are better pictures from Google images.)

The thing is being billed as an educational tool, of course. No doubt to make us rich, western, do-gooders feel all warm and fuzzy (and morally righteous) about supporting the project. And I'm sure it will help with education, blah blah blah. But you know what the kids are going to want: games. Fortunately, my coworker found a list of games you can download for it, and it includes some classics like DOOM and SimCity.

Maybe when Quinn is a bit older, we'll get him and one other lucky …

Talk without speaking

This wireless neckband can supposedly pick up brain signals to the vocal cords and translate them into speech. This allows you to "talk" on a phone without actually speaking.

(HT: Sullivan) I'm not completely blown away by this as Sullivan and Marc Andreessen are (no "brain exploding" here.), because the vocabulary it can recognize is limited, and it seems to take a while to activate. And of course my company, Emotiv Systems, is in the business of interpreting brain signals itself. So what might seem miraculous to you is more of a "yeah, that's cool; I can see how you might go about doing that" to me.

Happy Pi day

Happy Pi Day. My office is serving pie at 1:59 today. We are geeks.

Let's see how much I can still do from memory:

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209*78164**20899...

*Oops, I forgot 7494459230
**AND 06286

I need to practice. (It's also harder to type than to say)

If you want more digits, find them here or a zillion other places on the Web.

What $5,500 an hour ought to get you

JeffLieber on DailyKos wants more than just sex for $5,500 an hour:
[...]
I expect you to quote, from memory, the number Pi to the 383rd digit in a way that I never get bored and finally understand why I was required to take calculus.I expect you to rail on about the superiority of "on-base-percentage" when compared to the antiquated "batting-average" and be able to speak at length, and with passion, on how the designated hitter is a great American travesty.[...]For 100,000 nickels and 500,000 pennies I expect you to have surgically implanted outlets to recharge my iphone and laptop so that, seconds after our eighth coitus, I’ll be able to simultaneously log into DKos using two technologies.[...]

A frickin' MOAT!?!?!

With the limited water resources available in the American Southwest, some people in Yuma have decided that the best use of this scarce commodity is to build a moat (This link is to the New York Times, not The Onion):
Faced with high-levels of crime and illegal immigration, authorities in Yuma are reaching back to a technique as old as a medieval castle to dig out a "security channel" on a crime-ridden stretch of the border and fill it with water."The moats that I've seen circled the castle and allowed you to protect yourself, and that's kind of what we're looking at here," said Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden, who is backing the project.(HT: Maestro via email). First of all, are they sure it's the illegal immigrants committing those crimes?. All the studies I've read show that illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than native people. It makes sense: they don't want to draw attention to themselves and get deported. Second of all, where…

Kos counts the ways Clinton is losing

Clinton is losing this race, and I don't see any realistic scenario for Clinton to win. In order for that to happen, there would have to be massive superdelegate defection to Clinton. Or some scenario involving Florida and Michigan that was lopsidedly in favor of Clinton. And I don't see that happening either.

Internal Monologue is officially asking Senator Clinton to bow out of the race. There's a lot of money and energy that could be spent on the general election or on other Democratic races that is currently being poured into this campaign, whose result is already a foregone conclusion. She's too far behind to catch up at this point.

This is a separate issue, but the race-baiting and dismissiveness that the Clinton campaign has engaged in recently is pretty outrageous. Geraldine Ferraro's recent remarks to the effect that Obama is only where he is because he's black are particularly insulting and ridiculous. Does she honestly think that being black is an advan…

Dude, $5,500 an hour!?!?!

Um, morality aside, this is ridiculous:
Prosecutors say the four used the Emperors Club to arrange connections between wealthy male clients and more than 50 prostitutes in, among other places, New York City, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles, Miami, Florida; London and Paris. The defendants charged the clients fees ranging from $1,000 to more than $5,500 per hour for prostitution services.Emphasis added. This is the prostitution ring that Spitzer was apparently involved with. $5,500 an hour?!? That's crazy. I guess there's a ridiculously inflated luxury market for everything.

Being married to a philandering politician must really suck

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Image stolen from here.

Upon reflecting on this and other recent male-politician-caught-in-embarrassing-sex-scandal incidents, I had the same thought as Michelle Cottle:
...how do all these guys convince their wives to stand by them at these post-scandal news conferences?(HT: Ross Douthat) I mean, it's humiliating enough that your husband has cheated on you and the whole damn world knows it. But then to have to stand there, next to the cad, while he goes through the hackneyed ritual confession is just too much. If these political husbands had a shred of decency and compassion, they'd let their wives deal with the anger, shame, and humiliation in private.

Dana Goldstein on TAPPED has a similar opinion:
When politicians are caught cheating, I wish they'd leave their wives in the green room while they address the press. You're in the dog house, and it should look that way. Those "stand by your man" visuals are tired and demeaning.(via Ann on Feministing)

I hearby swe…

The origin of polyhedral D&D dice

I didn't know this. From an interview with Gygax:
Q. As far as you know, what was the basic evolution of polyhedral dice? If they existed prior to the creation of Dungeons & Dragons, what were they used for?To the best of my knowledge I introduced them to gaming, en masse, with D&D in 1974. I found sets of the five platonic solids for sale in a school supply catalog back in 1972, and of course ordered them, used them in creating the D&D game.

A big list of Gygax tributes

Wizards of the Coast has a big list of Gygax tributes, including a video tribute of their own.

Hookers: not just for Republicans anymore

The Democratic governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, was apparently caught soliciting a prostitute. Maybe he and Senator Vitter can form a bi-partisan support group or something. How about we de-criminalize prostitution and save all these politicians the embarrassment? The illegality of it doesn't seem to be stopping them.

Grishnash's election update

Grishnash has been turning his mathematical mind to the primaries recently. Here's his latest:
Obama won Texas. Yes, all the national media have Clinton listed as up by about 101,000 votes statewide, but because of the weird state senatorial district weighting, and post-election precinct convention system, Obama's going to take about 99 Texan delegates to Clinton's 94. Assuming Obama picks up at least 3 delegates in Mississippi tomorrow, which is virtually automatic, the race will officially enter a phase where Clinton can only win by virtue of superdelegate votes and/or Michigan and Florida. Here is my response to Grishnash:
I think the media have not done a good job at depicting just how fantastical a scenario would have to happen for Clinton to win the nomination (unlikely landslides, Michigan & Florida being seated "as is", superdelegate defections and going against their state, the popular vote, or the pledged delegate count, etc.). Her campaign …

NPR on Gygax

NPR's Talk of the Nation had a segment on Gygax. The guy they had on was the fellow from Wired who wrote the editorial I critiqued in a previous post. (HT: Mad Latinist via email.)

How many countries can you name in five minutes?

74
I would have gotten more but I'm a lousy typist. HT: Rubber Hose.

Sleeping girl in Clinton's "3 AM" ad is Obama precinct captain

The fear-inducing "3 AM" ad that the Clinton campaign recently produced has a deeply ironic twist: the footage of the sleeping girl shown in the ad was taken from old stock footage at Getty Images. The girl in the footage, Casey Knowles, will be old enough to vote in the November election, and it turns out she's a precinct captainfor Obama:



Har dee har har har. Someone in the Clinton campaign is probably smacking someone else in the Clinton campaign upside the head. At the end of the segment embedded above, Casey Knowles suggests making an ad for the Obama campaign. Steve of holes in thoughts has even written a script for such an ad (HT: Parallax857 on DailyKos).

Democrats win special election in Illinois

Yesterday there was a special election in Illinois to replace former Republican Speaker of the House Denis Hastert. The Democrat, Bill Foster, won:
Then came the special election to replace former Republican Speaker Denny Hastert, a race that the party should have been able to hold given the GOP-lean of the district (R+5, according to the Cook PVI). The NRCC blew close to a third of its net cash-on-hand on the race, only to see their candidate fall in flames by 5 points during yesterday's election.It's good to remember that for all the fighting between the Obama and Clinton camps, the Democrats are overall in a much better position for the November election than the Republicans. This was not a race the Democrats were supposed to win. Kevin Drum opines that this is a very bad omen for the Republicans:
Jeez. A conservative district. A former Speaker of the House. $1.2 million. And they still lost. John McCain should be very, very nervous about this.Foster will face his Republican …

OK, this Gygax tribute goes too far

As happy as I am to see a Gygax appreciation in the New York Times, I think this piece by Adam Rogers attributes too much influence to Mr. Gygax's work:
GARY GYGAX died last week and the universe did not collapse. This surprises me a little bit, because he built it.I’m not talking about the cosmological, Big Bang part. Everyone who reads blogs knows that a flying spaghetti monster made all that. But Mr. Gygax co-created the game Dungeons & Dragons, and on that foundation of role-playing and polyhedral dice he constructed the social and intellectual structure of our world.(Emphasis added.) Um...I don't think so. I'm a pretty devoted fan of Dungeons & Dragons, but I think the "social and intellectual structure of our world" are more influenced by large technological, economic, biological, cultural, and political forces. Dungeons & Dragons is a part of those forces, but hardly rates comparison with the invention of the printing press, microchip, the birth…

Long primary GOOD for Democrats?

dday on Hullabaloo makes the case that this long primary is a good thing:
I'm sure it was not Howard Dean's goal to have a primary season drag on until June. But in a perverse way, it has become an extension of his 50-state strategy. I've now been completely turned around on this and think it will pay plenty of dividends in November, especially downticket, barring some kind of disaster in Denver. But as long as the conclusion is at least somewhat amicable, and I think it still can be, we're going to be in good shape in this general election and for years to come.

Mario: Hero of the Proletariat

Before Nintendo made him a star, Mario could only find work in Soviet Propaganda films:

HT: Mad Latinist via email.

xkcd pays tribute to Gygax

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click link below for larger image

This is pretty good. (HT: Mad Latinist via email)

More on Gygax

Penny Arcade (click "next" after the dragon graphic):
Gygax always struck me as a tremendously sinister name: no mortal name, this. This was the sort of name one earned in the service of horned devils and more primordial shapes of evil, a boon for the loyal servant, placed like a black crown on the bowed head. The first time I ever played Dungeons & Dragons, I was six years old - books with great red demons on the cover that dared us to claim their riches, subtitled by this alien name Gygax. My mother was furious when she found my uncles had exposed me to those subterranean burrows, spilling over with rubies, and tourmalines, and the wealth of old kings even songs no longer remember. As a young man, I began hiding the books I bought inside my bed, which had a vast hollow space I had hidden in as a child. These books were soon discovered, and blamed for everything from recent colds to the dissolution of my parents' marriage. I took the wrong lesson, I'm afraid: I …

Order of the Stick salutes E. Gary Gygax, 1939-2008

Here's one of the best Gygax tributes for those of you for whom Gygax's passing is a significant event.

For those of you who don't understand, I'll try to explain: Gary Gygax didn't just co-invent Dungeons & Dragons. He co-created the entire genre of role playing games. That's like someone inventing the card games, not just bridge or poker gin rummy or any single specific game. He co-created a system for enacting and sharing swords & sorcery-based fantasy. He and Dave Arneson are to Role Playing Games what George Lucas is to Star Wars or Gene Roddenberry is to Star Trek. But that analogy isn't quite right because Lucas and Roddenberry didn't invent science fiction or television or cinema, they just created extremely popular examples of pre-existing categories. Gygax & Arneson really brought something different to the table.

When I think about it, it seems odd that something like the role playing game could have been invented by specific people…

Did Clinton make Obama more "black" in an ad?

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UPDATE: Kevin Drum argues that this is just the result of YouTube artifacts.

This is a pretty incendiary accusation, but the evidence is pretty compelling:

Image compiled by cartwrightdale on DailyKos.

I don't want to believe the Clinton campaign would try to use anti-black prejudice to help her win the nomination. But this isn't the first time they've used these kinds of insinuations.

Kos posts a remark from a reader:
I just wanted to leave a remark about this "blacker" issue, and comments that it is somehow something that just happened in the video editing process. I work in advertising (copywriter, [Big national advertising firm]). I sit in the rooms where the post production occurs, and this includes color correction. While things look different on many TVs, they don't look this dramatically different. Nothing that you see in a final advertisement is accidental. These things are looked at (or should be looked at if they are doing their jobs) second by second. …

Gary Gygax died

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Gary Gygax at GenCon Indy 2007. Photo by Alan De Smet.

Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, died today.

More reaction later, but I had to post as soon as I heard.

Monte Cook reacts on his blog.

I guess my dream of getting him to autograph the random harlot generation table from the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide will never come to pass.

The AP and BBC have brief articles.

The D&D welcome site is currently black in his honor.

Wow, well, this hits hard. Gygax didn't just co-create a game. He helped create an entire genre of games. Back in the mid-seventies, geekitude didn't have mainstream outlets it has today. Dungeons & Dragons was a profoundly influential idea. Every role-playing game owes it a debt of gratitude, and it's hard to find a computer RPG that doesn't base some mechanics on the old D&D system. More importantly, it served as a vehicle for the imagination, stimulant to the intellect, and an occasion for social interaction and friendshi…

Want to beta test the Emotiv EPOC neuroheadset?

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If you're in the Bay Area, and you're interested in beta testing the Emotiv EPOC neuroheadset, go here and sign up for the beta. If you do a beta test, you'll get a discount on the final product.

Control video games with your mind!

4th Edition D&D character sheets

The link is a bit hard to find because the list is overlapped by the menu buttons, but if you go here and click on character sheets you can download a bunch of 1st level 4th edition characters.

It seems like a 1st level 4th edition character has a lot more cool powers than a 1st level 3.5 character.

Howard Dean lays into John McCain

Howard Dean will soon be ending his term as chair of the Democratic National Committee. Markos gives his positive opinion of Dean's legacy here. Dean is also playing the role of chief attacker on John McCain, which is exactly the role he should be taking, especially since Clinton and Obama are still battling it out in the Democratic primaries. In this Crooks and Liars video, CNN's Wolf Blitzer talks to Dean, who relentlessly lays into McCain's faults. Dallasdoc on DailyKos has a writeup.

The Jack Nicholson Clinton endorsement

Here's the weird Jack Nicholson YouTube Clinton endorsement:

Sullivan is treating this as genuine, but I have a hard time believing it. Genuine or not, it of course generated a YouTube response:

Most people have already seen this...

...but if you haven't, here it is [Not work safe].

If your girlfriend cheats on you with Matt Damon...



...there is only one possible way to get revenge:



It helps when you have Huey Lewis, Robin Williams, and Harrison Ford and many other celebrities to help spread the message.

A quick preview of 4th edition D&D rules

Download the 2 page PDF here. Or you can just read them here (non-gamers will want to skip this):

1. Character roles are more clearly defined.
Everyone who’s played D&D knows that there are roles for
each character – some characters “tank”, some characters
are “artillery”, etc. 4th Edition defines those roles into four
types – controller, defender, leader, and striker. Controllers
(like wizards) deal with large amounts of enemies at once,
favoring offense over defense. Defenders (like fighters and
paladins) are the front-line characters that have great
defensive abilities and good melee offense. Leaders (like
clerics and warlords) are good at aiding other members of
the party by healing, inspiring, or protecting them. Strikers
(like rangers, rogues, and warlocks) deal large amounts of
damage to single targets at one time and quickly move about
the battlefield. Most adventuring parties consist of at least
one character of each of the roles.

2. Powers give you more combat options.
Clerics chant pray…

Hagee endorsement starting to cause problems for McCain

Greenwald documents how the mainstream media is slowly realizing what a hate-filled nut job Hagee is. This is heartening. A lot of the impetus is coming from Catholics, who aren't to happy with Hagee's statements that Catholicism is "The Great Whore", an "apostate church", the "anti-Christ". (I'm none too happy with Catholicism myself, but most of my problems with it would apply equally to Hagee and his ilk.)

So it turns out McCain's embrace of this guy might have some consequences after all. Good. It's been sickening how "mainstream" Republicans can get in bed with hate-spewing nut jobs and not catch any flack for it. I'm glad this is starting to change.

UPDATE: BarbinMD on DailyKos is happy to see Hagee and Donohue (of the Catholic League) going at it:
It seems that McCain's "proud" acceptance of the endorsement of John "The-Catholic-Church-Is-The-Great-Whore" Hagee has upset Bill "Hollywood-Is…