Posts

Showing posts from December, 2010

Mad Men, but with nerds

Image
Here are some photos from Bell Labs in the 1960's:

HT: Gregg Favalora on Facebook.

Yay filibuster reform

Looks like it might happen. If you want to gum up the Senate, you shouldn't be able to just phone it in. You should have to show up. And lets get rid of things like anonymous individual holds on nominations, too.

Pat Robertson comes out for pot decriminalization

Yes, that Pat Robertson. Let sanity prevail. End the drug war. It won't be perfect. But it will be so much better than the status quo.

Oh Christmas Tree

Image
from xkcd, of course.

Stockings are LIFO.

Quote of the Day: individual mandate hysteria

"Starting in the early 1980s, up through well into 2009, the individual mandate was an eminently respectable Republican position, embraced by conservative policy wonks and leading Republicans. Since then, virtually the whole of the conservative movement has coalesced around the position that the individual mandate is not merely misguided but actually unconstitutional, a fact conservatives somehow overlooked during the previous three decades.

[...]

Conservatism's sudden lurch from supporting (or tolerating) the individual mandate to opposing it as a dagger in the heart of freedom is a phenomenon that merits not intellectual analysis but psychoanalysis."

-Jonathan Chait

Can the US Tourism industry save us from TSA madness?

Heard a story on NPR this morning about a domestic tourism lobby group that is seeking to increase the number of foreign visitors to the United States. My thought was, "Thank God there's a moneyed interest with a financial incentive to push back on all the intrusive security measures we're undergoing." I hope it helps.

It cannot be said enough: There will never be perfect security. We will be attacked. Sometimes attackers will succeed. There are tradeoffs between security, appearance of security, convenience, civil rights, and fostering a welcoming atmosphere. I think we are spending way too many resources on the first two.

Pic of the Day

Image

Why are we in Afghanistan? Karzai clearly doesn't want us there

Not that Karzai's desires should necessarily guide US foreign policy, but when you get quotes like this (via Yglesias):
As he [Karzai] spoke, he grew agitated, then enraged. He told them that he now has three "main enemies" - the Taliban, the United States and the international community. "If I had to choose sides today, I'd choose the Taliban," he fumed. you have to wonder what the heck we are doing there.The context of this discussion was Karzai's very understandable desire to go ahead with a ban on private security firms: what head of state wants armed mercenaries controlled by foreigners roaming around their country? I certainly wouldn't.
I just don't see what vital American interest is served by our propping this guy up. Yes, the Taliban would be worse. But would they be worse enough to justify what we're sacrificing and the evils we're inevitably committing in order to prevent them from overthrowing Karzai's government? I woul…

Quote of the Day

"if you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold".

-blue_beetle on MetaFilter

Writings on "The Wall" (Roger Waters in San Jose Dec 8 2010)

Image
photo from floydwall.com
On Wednesday December 8 I saw Roger Waters and his band perform The Wall at HP Pavillion in San Jose. Here is a "review," which will consist of a number of disjoint thoughts and points in no particular order:Overall the show was excellent. It's the sort of concert that is more than just the album played louder. It is a "show". I'm glad I got to see it. I felt I got my money's worth for the pyrotechnics in the opening number "In the Flesh?" My wife jerked in her seat when the bombastic opening blasted out. Strangely, there were no more fireworks after that. But really you get an entire concert's worth in the first three minutes. The physical Wall itself was used very effectively as a projection screen: at times, it appeared as though the wall was opening, crumbling, transforming, etc. It was huge, dwarfing the performers. They really do build it during the first half of the show. Seeing the crew do it did have a bit …

Quote of the Day

"In Washington, thinking is constrained by the routine experience of being unable to achieve the clearly possible. In Silicon Valley, it's unconstrained by the routine experience of being able to achieve the seemingly impossible."
-Ezra Klein

D&D Alignment charts for TV show characters

Image
Image from kottke.org
Here's a wonderful occasion for nerdly argument: The blog mightygodking.com is posting D&D alignment charts for various TV shows, with each box filled with a character from the show (using the AD&D through 3.5 alignment system, of course). There's The Wire, Mad Men, Thirty Rock, and others. I think the desire to fill each alignment box produces an artificial constraint, but otherwise the project is wholly admirable (HT: Miguel via Facebook).
To kick off debate, I assert that within the moral universe of The Wire, Omar clearly falls on the "good" portion of the good-evil axis. He has a code of honor, he cares for others, and he's the only person who doesn't swear. He even takes his grandma to church. Yes, he robs people, but "It's all in the game": he preys only upon drug dealers.
And yes, I agree that the current Betty is chaotic evil, but that's just because it seems like the writers hate her at the moment. That …

Storyteller Dice Roller

Image
Jan 23 2013: Wow, after two years I finally fix the crash caused by the sound. New version 1.3 should show up in iTunes store any day now. UPDATE: It's available now! And I made it free!

Feb 2 2011: Five-star review:

Thanks, Scott! Glad it's working for you.

Jan 28 2011: Version 1.2 live in App Store.
Jan 26 2011: Version 1.2 submitted with new interface, mute button.
Jan 25 2011: Coming for version 1.2: New interface look, mute button.

Jan 6 2011: Version 1.1 is available in the App Store! Thanks for the quick turnaround, Apple.
Jan 5 2011: Version 1.1 submitted to App Store.

UPDATE Jan 4 2011: The dual sliders are done and dice pools can now go from 0 (though you hardly need an app to roll zero dice!) through 99. I'm just going to do some testing for stability and then I'll submit the update.

UPDATE Dec 20 2010: Thanks to everyone who has purchased SDR! I'm glad there's interest. I've implemented "rule of 10" functionality where 10's can now …

What's a bigger commitment: having a child or marriage?

While driving around this early morning with my son, I heard a segment on NPR that made me scratch my head. It was about couples in their twenties who decide to raise a child together, but who do not get married because they feel marriage is too big a commitment at this stage in their lives:
Andrew Felices, 26, and Mellissa Giles, 27, are this new face of the American family. They've been living together since before their son, A.J., was born. He's 2 1/2 now, and he shrieks gleefully as he sprawls on the basement floor with dad, building a train track. The couple bought a cozy condo in Frederick, Md., last summer. A home, a child — but neither is in any rush to tie the knot."We're still young," Mellissa says. We're enjoying the time as it is."I was rather puzzled by this. The implication is that having and raising a child together is less of a commitment than getting married. This is shocking to me. In my moral universe, the sacredness of the obligat…