Thursday, July 31, 2008

George Lucas Hates Obama

How did I miss this?
[George] Lucas did, however, have one firm answer: Barack Obama is definitely a Jedi knight. “I would say that’s reasonably obvious,” he said.
Ouch! So what makes Obama a Jedi? Maybe George could point out which features of the Jedi philosophy in this list Obama exemplifies:

-persecution of heretics
-religious hatred
-attempted assassination

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chose in Action

Serial rapist kills himself.

The twist - he was targetting prostitutes. Guess the guy wasn't looking forward to all those quantum meruit claims.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Breeding Contempt

Food Network has a new show. A description of the first episode:
Can I really eat something off the floor if I pick it up in less than 5 seconds? How do I stop my mouth from burning after I've eaten spicy food? Is the baking soda in my fridge doing anything? Ted Allen and his culinary sleuths set out to prove the answers to these questions, once and for all!
A Mythbusters episode from three years ago:
Myth: if you pick up a piece of food that has fallen on the floor before five seconds is up, no bacteria will get on it
And from last year:
Myth Description:Tory, Grant, and Kari test to see if there are any other hot chili cures besides milk.
I think I'm going to pitch an idea for a sitcom: a washed-up, former alcoholic relief pitcher owns a bar. Sound cool?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Law school website:
The School of Law accordingly reaffirms its commitment to providing an inclusive and supportive community for all, regardless of sexual orientation.
E-mail received through law school mailing list one hour ago:
The National Lesbian and Gay Law Association invites all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students to this year's Lavender Law Career Fair and Conference at the Hyatt Regency, San Francisco, September 4th- 6th, 2008.
Bonus LSAT question: figure out why this has me rolling my eyes.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fixing the Wrong Problem

I love the amazing cluelessness, the ignorance of the real problem, in this article.
By matching users' IP addresses with the public database of addresses registered to different corporations, Griffith's "Wikiscanner" revealed widespread corporate meddling on Wikipedia, as companies attempted to add marketing pitches to their own entries, or hide controversies.
Or, presumably, to correct mistakes about their own articles. After all, who would have more information on those companies than the employees? But I forgot - everything is a corporate conspiracy.

What does this "hack" (yes, people still seem to be using this word - totally radical!) do to thwart the Wikipedia users not with corporate conflicts of interest but with ideological axes to grind? Nothing? Well, hooray, you "solved" a tiny problem while ignoring the massive, systemic problem that makes Wikipedia such a joke! The problem with corporations' employees editing their entries is small because, after all, adding false information and deleting relevant but damaging information are problems that people recognize even without knowing that the editor is conflicted. If someone deleted information on Microsoft's antitrust litigation in Europe, would it really take knowing that that editor was Bill Gates for someone to identify and correct the problem? Truth is truth and falsehood is falsehood, whether the result of some troll's fit of spite (I have never done this) or some corporate goon's whitewashing attempt.

Ultimately, I think that this new development will be a wash. Identifying when certain entities have their own entries edited will simplify the task of looking for conflicts of interest that result in bad information, but, again, sometimes those corporate editors will actually be improving the quality of their entries, and the additional scrutiny may block the useful correction or raise suspicion where none is warranted. Truth is truth, remember? Except when it's not:
"I would say that if people are anonymous, the quality of their contribution is probably much lower," he says. "Wouldn't you want Wikipedia users to be held accountable for what they change?"
[citation needed] on that claim - who says that anonymous editors are worse? It's plausible, I suppose, but I could make a plausible argument that the opposite is true. So, until facts break the tie, could we both shut up about our theories?

I think that the lack of anonymity could tend to chill editing of Wikipedia, and that "accountability" is better when it comes from more knowledgeable people correcting mistakes than people outing anonymous editors - after all, in theory, only people who write false things will ever be "held accountable" anyway.

Ah, Wikipedia. So stupid.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


The original Commander Keen game, Marooned on Mars, included, among the items that would add to Keen's score (and thus bring him closer to an extra life), this, the "Book" in the game's documentation, worth 1000 points:


It's not hard to see why this fascinated me from an early age, though in the early 90's I had only a vague notion of who Kant was. I actually e-mailed Tom Hall, creator of Keen, about it, and it's intentional - Keen is supposed to be a boy genius and Kant is a small name suitable for being put on a tiny sprite.

Marooned on Mars was released in 1990. In 1987, this book was published by Hackett:


Coincidence? Or did someone at id happen to have that book?

I'd ask Tom Hall again, but that seems like one of those tiny details you forget the moment after it happens.

Just thought that was interesting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Likelihood of Confusion

Someone explain this to me. It seems like a mess of confusion about the difference between trademarks and copyright. The title is "Information Wants To Be Free," but the issue is (supposedly) ridiculous trademark enforcement, so the argument that vigorous protection of IP stifles the free exchange of information is pretty weak - do unlicensed Dora knock-offs contribute to a robust marketplace of ideas?

The confusion continues as Mr. Krikorian quotes the constitutional provision granting Congress the authority to...grant patents and copyright protection. Nothing about trademarks there, man. Linking to the Wikipedia entry on copyright law is also a bold, baffling choice.

The policy justifications for trademark protection and for copyright protection are worlds apart, so railing against the "broken" copyright system by highlighting companies' aggressive trademark enforcement is a nonstarter.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dark Knight

Nick, just put up the Batman post. I've seen it, you've seen it, stop the games. I WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU THOUGHT.

Spoilers: Best movie ever.

Friday, July 18, 2008

NFL Commissioner - Idiot or Tool?

Roger S. Goodell to free market: drop dead.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said it's "ridiculous" to reward untested rookies with lucrative contracts, and wants the issue addressed in contract talks.
Absolutely ridiculous! This is why no team would do it, of course; teams are out to make money, and if giving big contracts to rookies were economically inefficient, the teams that did it would fail.


Oh, teams are doing it? Well, then you're wrong and stupid, Goodell!

You know what's actually ridiculous, immoral, incompatible with a liberal democracy, and something Mr. Goodell should put a stop to forever: public funding for NFL stadiums. You know, I think stealing people's money is a little worse than some NFL team deciding to spend its own money in an arguably risky way.

Chew on that, Rog.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Facts and "Facts"

The evolution debate plummeted to a new low. This incredibly silly, fallacy-laden, contradictory, stupid article is not doing National Review any favors. Some conservatives happen not to believe that there is a monolithic neo-Darwinian...wait, before I finish this sentence, I just have to say - "neo-Darwinian" as an epithet makes as much sense as "neo-Euclidean" for a geometer. All right, so some of us don't believe in a neo-Darwinian conspiracy to suppress science.

Fearful of being branded “anti-science,” some conservatives are skittish about such efforts to allow challenges to the consensus view of science.
I, and I'm sure many others, am not afraid of being called names, I'm afraid of being incorrect. If we cared about name-calling, the last seven years surely would have induced suicide.
They insist that conservatives should not question currently accepted “facts” of science, only the supposedly misguided application of those facts by scientists to politics, morality, and religion.
"Facts"!!! Who is this guy, Bruno Latour? Facts are facts, until they become "facts" when they are inconvenient for the speaker (of any ideological persuasion). Let's leave this kind of thinking to solipsist Continentals, k?

It gets more bizarre:
If it really is a “fact” that the evolution of life was an unplanned process of chance and necessity (as Neo-Darwinism asserts), then that fact has consequences for how we view life. It does not lead necessarily to Richard Dawkins’s militant atheism, but it certainly makes less plausible the idea of a God who intentionally directs the development of life toward a specific end.
Facts are facts no matter their consequences; what this fool is saying is that if the conclusion is unpleasant, then the premises must be false. But...huh? If a premise is false, then prove that it's false. Proving that it leads to a false conclusion would be one way to go about this; claiming it leads to an unpalatable conclusion is anti-scientific. Hey! You're anti-science! Nyah nyah!

Further, if evolution makes Aristotelian occasionalism* less plausible, hooray! Aristotle's physics was never very good anyway, and our greatest advances in science came when we rejected it.
In a Darwinian worldview, even God himself cannot know how evolution will turn out...
Is there such a thing as a "Darwinian worldview"? I mean, the guy developed the theory of evolution, not the theory of absolutely everything that has happened or will happen, right? So unless there is a Darwinian theology that necessarily accompanies his biology, this seems false.

Creationists: stop.

*I sort of made this up. Sort of. But if you understand Aristotle's concept of telos and know what occasionalism is, I think you'll find my new phrase appropriate.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Europe - Still Wet, For Now

Anheuser-Busch, blah blah. No one cares about this, right?

Color me zero shades of surprised - A-B wanted to be taken over:
Anheuser-Busch let their poison pill expire in 2004, and they declassified their board in 2006, according to FactSet MergerMetrics.
Letting your poison pill lapse and actively declassifying your board aren't things you do accidentally. That these two events occurred so close in time traces the outline of a vague plan to leave the company vulnerable to takeover without actually soliciting bids. And guess what actually happened?!

"The InBev team played a good game in Washington. The first thing Brito did after it was leaked was to get over there and see the relevant senators," the source said.
The relevant senators? So, no one?

I wonder if Bud will still be terrible beer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Well, Nick, I am not quite going to indulge your request. I have a few reasons for this. First, I don't actually know six bloggers I would feel comfortable "tagging". I know two (my co-authors) who would probably be annoyed. Also, this has a vague AOL-chain-letter-y feel to it, which is thankfully mitigated by the fact that Nick is not a bothersome idiot, like AOL spammers are, and this meme is less uninteresting than most surveys - it's shorter and thus less boring, and it's not as trite.

So, I'll sort of do this. If anyone else wants to do this, go ahead. If not, you probably have more of a life than I.

Six Unspectacular Quirks

1. The first one that comes to mind is my near inability to eat cake that hasn't been frozen. Whenever someone has a birthday, I have to have my slice of cake frozen solid before I can eat it. Room temperature cake is disgustingly spongy.

2. I don't actually finish many books. I get bored with them easily. Novels are a lot easier than dry philosophy for me to finish, but even then, I skip, e.g., Tolkien's endless adventures in poesy.

3. I despise Chinese food. This wouldn't be much of a quirk, except that, every few months, I inevitably crave Chinese food. It's not that I forget how much I dislike it, I just have an inclination that overwhelms my judgment. Every time, I'm disappointed (at best) or disgusted (at worst) with the meal.

4. I can't eat without either watching TV or reading something.

5. I often dream plausible, trivial things that I thereafter come to think really happened. For instance, I dreamed that the Flyers lost a certain playoff game. They hadn't actually, but because it was a fact that really didn't matter to me, I figured it was true. A few days later I found out that what I had dreamed was impossible.

6. I learned Hebrew because of a girl.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Meaningless, juvenile gesture alert!

By the way, thanks, Nick. I'd heard about this before but your taking up the "mock the idiot" cause helped energize me to make this post.

Remember when atheists would write intelligent, thought-provoking critiques of religion that retained an appropriate skepticism about their own claims?

Of course you don't, because David Hume has been dead for two hundred years. Duh.

Monday, July 07, 2008


I had hoped to have something thought-provoking written about Heller for today, but as if it isn't hard enough for me to write intelligent material (insert calls from the peanut gallery), the justices had to write opinions as though they were being paid by the word. I will eventually have plenty to say about it, but not today.

Additionally, I hope to finish Human Smoke soon and write a review. It is an excellent supplement to the usual history of World War II, and even if a post here will only inform two other people of its existence, that is enough.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Good Day

Happy Independence Day.

May it be good even if not happy.