astonishing things!

Monday, 29 October 2007
  1. Blind teen using echolocation
  2. Fox News fearmongering with CA wildfires
  3. Red Sox win World Series–again!

ways to make watching football slightly entertaining, or at least tolerable

Wednesday, 24 October 2007
  1. Have the commentators commentate from on the field.
  2. Put a guy who has never seen a football game before in charge of drawing lines and arrows and circling things on the screen, and let him do it as the game happens.
  3. Allow refs to make up their own penalties. (“Number thirty-four…I don’t like your face…sixty-two yard penalty. Um…fifth down.”)
  4. Obstacles.
  5. Electrified. Helmets.

Lists of Things Official 2008 Campaign Coverage: Reasons Why Mitt Romney Is Going to Have a Very, Very Hard Time Earning My Vote

Thursday, 18 October 2007
  1. Political opportunism. My problem is not that he’s a “flip-flopper”–I have absolutely no issue with politicians changing their minds. My problem is that his “flip-flops” are entirely coordinated to coincide with whatever office he happens to be running for at the time. He ran for Senator from Massachusetts and tried to position himself as “more liberal than Ted Kennedy,” particularly on the issue of gay marriage. Nearly ditto for abortion. As MA governor preparing to run for President, he tried to realign himself with the reactionist Christian Right. They defend his shift by saying that this time it “seems genuine,” but the truth of the matter is that he’s just appealing to their politics to get elected. But once Romney has the highest office this country offers, and he has no more offices to aspire to, what will his positions become then?
  2. Oh, yeah–he’s “flip-flopped” to the wrong side of the issues. In my opinion. That anti-gay-marriage speech he gave right after MA courts legalized it was pure reactionist politicizing and spoke of underlying intolerance.
  3. He’s trying to define himself purely as an “anti-” candidate. In interviews, such as that in the 8 October 2007 edition of Newsweek, he tries to dodge every issue that the reporter queries him on. How will he be different from Bush? He’ll analyze situations carefully. So does he think Bush doesn’t analyze? Oh, no no no, Bush analyzes. How is he different from the other GOP candidates? Well, all the candidates are different people with different approaches and slightly different opinions on all the issues. So how do they measure up to the Dems? Well, the collective GOP obviously has “the” answers, despite the fact that they apparently all have different answers.
  4. His background does not mesh with his current positions. Again, the 8 Oct 07 issue of Newsweek ran a cover story on Romney’s youth, religion, and career. They paint a picture of a principled, hardworking, family man, tolerant of other points of view and ways of life even as he devotes himself to his own religion and morals. I can absolutely respect that, we need more people in this country who fit that description. But I fail to see the parallels between his supposedly constant principles and tolerance and his current political positions. He now opposes gay marriage, a civil rights issue if there ever was one. His pandering to the Christian reactionaries essentially involves imposing a certain belief system on others, which is hardly tolerant and respectful of other ways of life. And if he keeps evading questions that pin him to particular positions (see above), how am I supposed to believe that he has maintained and will maintain a set of constant “core values” that will bring a positive influence to our national government?
  5. Iraq War waffling. He shimmies inexpertly between parroting Bushisms (“wait and see if the surge will work”) and saying that he might consider thinking about breaking with the failed Bush policies.
  6. France. Uhhh…if you are Mr. Data Analysis, where is your data and analysis on that? You’re just playing off on the outrageous “Freedom Fries” junk left over in the minds of simplistic Americans.
  7. He was venture capitalist. Yes, he was a very successful one in that he made gobs of money. But what do VCs do? They basically give a start-up company some funding, wait a few years, and then seize near-total ownership of the company and suck it dry of as much cash as they possibly can. Do I want a guy taking this approach to our federal government? Hecks no.

features I wish were in TES IV: Oblivion

Wednesday, 17 October 2007
  1. Mounted combat. No-brainer. There’s no reason why I can’t just look down sideways from my horse and click to swing a sword or shoot an arrow.
  2. With this should probably come a restructuring of the horse-riding controls; e.g., “kick,” “rein in,” and “rein left/right,” with an option to rein “hard” left/right to get it to turn quickly, and there should be some AI built in to have it avoid obstacles on its own. It sucks to get hung up on a rock.
  3. Supply and demand. People in City #1 ought to want certain goods from City #2 a lot and be willing to pay more than their nominal value for them. Right now the mercantile system kind of sucks.
  4. A much better way to organize spells and access them quickly from the keyboard. (e.g., a key to quickly flip through all the spells in one particular school, or an option to “forget” spells that you don’t use any more.)
  5. If you know how to cast a spell, you ought to be able to perform the target, touch, and self versions with different keys on the keyboard. And maybe an area-effect version centered about your character, too.
  6. The haggling and disposition mini-game-things ought to just be built in to the conversation system.
  7. Randomly generated mini-quests. This could be way easy. Some merchant has run out of X, do you have ten X’s to sell? Some dude has lost his Y, can you get him another one (bonus points if you find his)?
  8. Lots more of the puzzle-solving, clue-tracking, and negotiating varieties of quests, and fewer of the dungeon-crawling variety. Leave those to the random ones.
  9. Players should have to eat/sleep at least once a day or suffer a penalty in fatigue. I mean, there ought to be an incentive to do these things.
  10. Different types of armor/weapons ought to behave in qualitatively different ways. e.g., glass would be absolutely stupid to make armor or battle axes out of, but I ought to be able to stab some ogre with a glass dagger and then break off the blade, dealing massive amounts of damage. Or set a guy in ebony or fur armor on fire.
  11. The amount of damage my swords and arrows do should depend on where I hit a guy.  And I don’t care what level he is, if I put a poisoned, enchanted arrow through his head, he should just drop dead.
  12. While higher-leveled enemies ought to be introduced into the world gradually as the player levels up, there always ought to be a good deal of the lower-leveled enemies that the player can knock off easily.
  13. I think there ought to be a few other adventurers in the world, doing the same things you are–maybe not the main quest, but they ought to be accomplishing things, completing side quests, and affecting the state of things in the world. This could make for really interesting quests where you would get to compare notes with/work alongside/fight against your competitors.
  14. NPCs should have different disposition ratings for each topic they can talk about, and this should have a much more dramatic effect on what they tell you.
  15. Some of the bandit groups/goblin tribes/city guards/etc ought to have their own objectives and go out in the world to accomplish them in a coordinated fashion.
  16. Oh, and make all that run beautifully on my current one-and-a-half-year-old laptop.

things that happen between events of actual import in a baseball game, i.e., pitches

Sunday, 14 October 2007
  • The batter lets go of the bat.
  • The pitcher walks in a little circle.
  • The batter grasps the bat again as if he is ready to go.
  • The network has to replay the last pitch five or six times.
  • Both the pitcher and batter spit some.
  • The network gives you some statistically meaningless statistics.
  • WebMD presents the Injury of the Game Report on Who Stretched What a Little Too Far.
  • The batter lets go of the bat again.
  • The cameraman zooms in on some bored kid / non-witty sign / famous person in the crowd.
  • Commentators make asses of themselves.
  • Some little two-second graphic for the game coverage has to play at least between every replay, cut, and new statistic.
  • The pitcher spits again.
  • The batter gets ready to hit the ball again.
  • The batter gives the butt-wiggling signal universally accepted to indicate that he is ready for the pitch.

all of a sudden, there are more good things on TV

Wednesday, 3 October 2007
  1. Battlestar Galactica
  2. Bionic Woman
  3. Journeyman
  4. The Office

Tyson quotes

Monday, 1 October 2007
  • “Usually, this sort of talk is a thinly veiled commercial for a new book.  And this one is no exception.”
  • “We graduated 50,000 engineers in 2004 in the United States.  Okay, great.  Yay America.  India graduated 70,000.  Okay, they’re a bigger country, we expect that.  But China graduated 500,000.  China does not have ten times our population.  So I went through and tried to find something that America graduated half a million of in 2004.  …Lawyers.”
  • “Are there any Plutophiles in the audience? GET OVER IT.”
  • “If you brought Pluto in to Earth’s orbit, it would burn off and grow a tail! That’s not very well-behaved for a planet, is it?”
  • “No wonder the Germans are so good at math.  The Gaussian distribution is on their money.”
  • “They didn’t reprint the first part of Kennedy’s speech…’In order to kill commies, I believe that this nation should commit itself to the goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.'”
  • “Isaac Newton was the smartest guy ever, ever, ever.  I’m just telling you.”
  • “Only live people talk!”
  • “Laplace invented a version of calculus and stabilized the solar system.  Why couldn’t Newton do that?  Laplace invented a version of calculus.  Newton invented calculus on a dare.  And then he turned 26.  He could have stabilized the solar system in the bathroom, looking out the window.  Why didn’t he?  Because Newton’s discoveries stopped when he gave up and started ascribing things to intelligent design.  Laplace just looked at this and saw a cool problem to solve.”
  • “You can tell when you’re not making progress if you look at the first thing you did and you are still impressed.”
  • “First telephone?  Aww, how quaint.  First radio?  Oh, it’s so cute.  First airplane?  It flew the wingspan of a 757.  It belongs in a museum.  First spacecraft capable of carrying humans to another body?  People bow down and genuflect before this thing.  There’s something wrong here!”
  • “It’s not a question of separation of church and state. It’s a question of separating the scientifically illiterate from the ranks of teachers.  ‘You’re going to die and go to hell:’ I don’t got data on that.  ‘Noah’s Ark carried dinosaurs:’ there, I got data.
  • “President Bush was the first president not to present these awards [for achievement in science and technical fields] personally. We all know why he didn’t do it. He would have had to read science words.”
  • Stupid design: we eat, drink, and breathe through the same hole in our bodies.  Thus ensuring that a certain amount of human beings choke to death every year.  I’m not asking for much!  Just another hole!  Porpoises eat and breathe through different holes, and they never choke to death!”

I miss any good ones, Nicole?