Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin's Couric Interview

I'm really pleased with the work Katie Couric did in her interview with Gov. Palin. She let Ms. Palin dig her own hole. Ask a simple question, and then let her failure to answer reveal her unpreparedness.

The Republican talking point is that she's as experienced as Sen. Obama to be president. But the national polls have shifted after the first debate, as people saw that Obama does understand the issues we face, and is prepared to handle them. Yay!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I like my Netflix/Roku box

I just got my Netflix box setup yesterday, and it's great!

I can watch movies and TV shows over the internet. While the selection is greatly limited, there's a lot of good stuff on there. And the 10 second download time to start watching is way faster than the 3 days it takes to get a disk in the mail.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I confess to glee that Jack Thompson has been disbarred. This ex-lawyer is the guy who you see on TV talking about how video games kill people. Even when the latest person who killed people never played video games, but did like to listen to loud music.

My favorite part of the story is that the prosecutor recommended a 10-year disbarment, with the possibility of letting him be a lawyer again later. But the judge decided to ban Mr. Thompson from ever being a lawyer in Florida again. Yay!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Digital TV

Apparently, there were lots of problems in the test city that switched to digital TV.

Although the FCC chair said only 1% of customers complained. Man, if 1% of America has problems, that's almost 4 million people affected. I wonder how it will all go down. (I wonder how my VCR will cope...)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Large Hadron Collider overheats

You've probably read that the LHC broke down.

I was amazed that it broke because it overheated. Not because that happened, but that "overheated" in this case means being at 4 degrees Kelvin.

It was at over twice the nominal operating temperature. But still cold enough to freeze you and shatter you into a million pieces.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Science of Fear

The Science of Fear, by Daniel Gardner, is a book that every science educator should read. (Way better than the last Fear book I read, that documented inaccuracies, but didn't explain why we fall for them.)

Gardner lays out in an engaging manner how human psychology reacts to danger, or the idea of danger. We assess potential risks instinctively based on a few rules that were well suited to the African savanna where it evolved, but are a horrible match for mass communication technology.

We react to stuff based on how familiar and common and good or bad it seems, not how dangerous it actually is. And when we teach people about the scientific knowledge on risky things, we have to deal with these emotional reactions.

TV news will mess you up. Don't watch it. The human mind can't be denied its instinctive reactions.

Friday, September 19, 2008

No Obama or McCain on Texas ballot?

Bob Barr, the libertarian candidate for president, is suing to block McCain and Obama from being on the ballot in Texas.

Seems Texas law sets a deadline for filing papers to be on the ballot, and both conventions took place after the deadline.

I think he actually has a very strong argument. I wonder if the Texas legislature will change the law. Barring that (ha ha), I think it would be fascinating if Texas is suddenly irrelevant to the presidential election.

And it's astonishing that both campaigns and both parties could overlook something that important. I suspect a couple people are being fired today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So much politics, so little time

I keep reading interesting and important columns about the presidential election. From strong cases about why McCain's agenda is a horrible mistake (and we know that politicians actually do, in fact, keep their campaign promises), to a conservative pointing out that Palin's preference for gut instinct over knowledge and ideas is exactly the mess we're in now.

McCain's ideas on energy policy are desperate attempts to squeeze a little more oil out of the ground, rather than investing in new technologies that will work for the future. Oil is so 19th century. We should stop putting money into that technology.

And his medical plan is horrific. Right now, the money I pay for insurance is pre-tax. He wants to tax it. And drive me out into the market for insurance. Which will make insurance more expensive. And he wants to deregulate it. Which has worked SO well with banking lately. Not to mention food and toy safety.

The kids in my sunday school class were talking about where they'd move if McCain got elected president. Australia vs. Canada. I don't think his election as president would push me over the edge. But it would push me closer. It's a question I don't know the answer to: when do you give up? When is a nation so corrupted, so unwilling to make choices that look toward the future instead of the desires of the present, that it's time to leave rather than try to get it back on track?

It's ironic that the Republicans successfully wield the mantle of morality. The liberals are depicted as "if it feels good, do it", while they have character and self control. But liberals are trying to make the world a better place. Liberals want breathable air and drinkable water. Liberals want people to get medical care. Liberals want your food and your children's toys to not poison them.
Republicans are the party whose main idea is "if it makes money, do it". No matter if people die. No matter if we have to torture people.
I'm mad as hell. I can't take it much longer. I hope we make some changes. I hope we have a Democratic Senate and White House next year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Original work better than remakes

I read a review of a weird video game, and how it's way better than a Star Wars game with a similar concept. Some mushroom guy uses psychic forces in a way cooler way than Jedi use the Force. At least in video games.

Reminds me of how Slings and Arrows, the brilliant Canadian TV show, was everything that Studio 60 wished that it was. Slings and Arrows is a bitingly witty, tragicomic tale of a theater company that is failing, and the internecine political scheming of the directors, actors and everyone else involved.

It succeeds because the writers create brilliant, flawed characters, who often fail. Studio 60 set itself up to tell the story of great heroes flailing nobly against the evil military-industrial corporate monolith, and couldn't create characters that perfect and keep them interesting. Also, Slings and Arrows is funny.

I suspect that's why Mark McKinney, who co-wrote and starred in Slings and Arrows, was brought in to Studio 60 half way down the tube. Shame that he couldn't help fix it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fake Identity

Apparently, the old trick of creating a fake identity by acquiring documents in the name of a dead child who was born around the same time as you doesn't work anymore.

But the columnist linked above has some thoughts about equally effective ways of creating a fake id. It just takes 20 years. Almost makes me want to try, except for the whole "illegal" part of the scheme. That would be fraud, I would think.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

McCain's lies

An excellent column by Mark Rich highlights a number of things that McCain and Palin say they believe in, but don't. When you look at their past actions, here's what they actually stand for:

  • Gov. Palin lobbied for the "bridge to nowhere" and after it was canceled, kept the funding.
  • McCain and Obama's response to the Georgia crisis is the same.
  • McCain lied about who attacked us in 2001 (Osama bin Laden was the sole culprit)
  • Sen. McCain did not fully vet Gov. Palin.
  • Gov. Palin never issued a single order to Alaska's national guard.
  • Gov. Palin is under investigation for firing her sister's ex.

Not to mention Palin firing a librarian for not banning books, and McCain voting with Bush 90% of the time (according to his own estimation).

And Paul Krugman points out all the lies that McCain is telling about Obama. It's galling that the media is stuck in he said, she said mode, rather than calling out McCain on the bullshit. Obama voted to teach kindergarteners to protect themselves against predators. And the metaphor "lipstick on a pig" is a hackneyed metaphor used by lots of Republicans.

It's one thing to get beat by people who stand for something. It's really angering to have someone completely lie about their record and act like they're heroes. As Krugman points out, it makes the slick lies of the Bush administration look noble. At least they had the skill to use accounting trickery to make their lies hard to understand and hard to debunk. This is just stupid.

And yet, stupid seems to work for them. It's maddening that mindless stupidity, wrapped in the flag and indignation and "strong character" makes people want someone to lead us further into the hole of poison we're going down.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Speaking of "liberal" and "conservative", Bob Herbert makes an excellent point.

Liberals have done well in the past. Republican't politicians claim that liberals are somehow responsible for the horrible state of the government that has been run by Republican'ts for the last 8 years. But liberals have built great institutions that have created positive change. Like clean air, clean water, safe medicine, food, cars, not to mention social security and medicare.

It's a shame that liberals are ashamed of being liberal.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Liberals don't understand conservatives

I was reading this column about a Sarah Palin rally, and seeing much of the same stuff I've seen before.

Conservatives are very skilled at the "elitism" thing. Saying that liberals feel contempt for conservative values, and making conservative people feel resentment, and then vote against liberals.

But at the end of the column, I saw something I didn't know before. Someone did a study asking liberals and conservatives to get inside each others' heads, and predict how the other would answer various questions.

Conservatives were very good at understanding liberal thinking, but liberals sucked at understanding conservatives. That's worth noting. George Lakoff and others need to work harder at teaching liberals how to understand the conservative mind.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I am really looking forward to Spore. Although, after this review, less so.

It's really hard to make a really good game. Much less a game that contains 5 really good games. And the critic really outlines why Spore is harder to make be great than the Sims. In the Sims, it's ok, even fun, if your people live horrible, dirty, miserable lives. But in Spore, you're trying to survive, and thrive. That means meshing goal-oriented conquest games with open-ended design & explore. That needle is very hard to thread.

Good on Will Wright et al for trying. I still want to play it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Say what?

Between the Daily Show and The New York Times, it's really quite clear.

The Republican convention is a lengthy rant about how Washington politics are broken and it's time for a change. It's really hard for me to believe that Republicans sincerely think that continuing the same policies and reelecting the same people constitutes a change.

Do they really think we're that stupid?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

CERN rap

Yeah, you probably saw this. But I might be showing you this for the first, awesome, physicsy time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Republicans and hurricanes

As usual, Paul Krugman has some excellent insights.

While John McCain is delivering superior public reaction to the latest Louisiana hurricane, FEMA is still woeful in their response. Bush has successfully weakened government to the point that people can drown in their own homes. Ideological bastard. There's a reason I'm voting for competence this year.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I got the call!

I get to go to ComedySportz's Tuesday workshops!

This means I'm moving up from the farm team to the majors! I will practice with them for a while before they decide to put me into a show, but still, it's a great recognition of my growth as a performer!

Woo hoo!

Monday, September 1, 2008

This is not cool

Apparently, the St. Paul police are breaking down doors and scaring protestors. Arresting people who have committed no crime, and intimidating them. Trying to keep them from marring the perfect photo opportunity the Republicans want at their convention.

I guess they had a search warrant, and allegedly were afraid the protestors were making bombs.

But I fear this is a more dangerous public relations strategy.