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More on Gygax

[ 0 ] March 7, 2008 |

As befits a group full of social maladjusts, the blogosphere has turned out some good stuff on the passing of E. Gary Gygax. Jason Sigger has a good round-up and a nice tribute here. Russell Arben Fox also has a nice remembrance. A friend forwarded this article from two years ago, written by Paul La Farge, who traveled to Lake Geneva in order to play D&D with Gygax. And of course Rich Burlew does characteristically good work here.

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Tails We Win, Heads You Lose.

According to new numbers released by Survey USA today, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama win in match-ups against McCain. Obama wins by more (and wins 4 more states than Clinton); the numbers suggest he loses Pennsylvania and New Jersey, wins Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. The numbers show that Clinton wins Pennsylvania and Ohio too, but loses the pacific northwest.

Not sure how much to trust these numbers (if at all)…but still. A bit reassuring, I guess.

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Library of the Damned

[ 19 ] March 6, 2008 |

The Chronicle sponsored a contest recently in which readers suggested designs for the new $500 million library to be built at Integritude U.

We thought that Chronicle readers would have their own ideas about how that building should be designed, and we invited people to send in designs on the backs of envelopes. About 120 people sent in sketches that were good, bad, serious, humorous, abstract, or really angry. Their designs took the form of toilets, bunkers, crosses, and W’s, some crudely drawn and some very elegant.

The finalists are pretty great, but I think this one was my favorite:

For the curious, the notations are as follows:

1. The WMD Stockpile of Manufactured Evidence Library
2. The “Big Oil” Hall
3. The Telecommunications “Listening” Lounge
4. The “We Do Not Torture” Torture Viewing Theater.

I can’t draw, but here’s my belated contribution:


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Who Will Protect the Poor Boys?

Michael Graham at the Boston Herald has his panties in a bunch over Harvard’s decision to create a women-only hour in the school’s gym, so that Muslim women can exercise comfortably and in keeping with the rules of modesty imposed by Sharia. He calls discrimination against those poor Harvard boys who have been sidelined by the school’s decision. Woe is them!

Now, here’s the thing. I’ll admit my ambivalence (to put it mildly) about religious edicts (of ANY faith) that require women’s “modesty” while usually allowing men to traipse all over town. But, aside from the fact that we live in a pluralistic society that should accommodate many faiths, using this as an excuse to decry, oh, everything Harvard has ever done to encourage dialogue with Muslim students and world leaders is just bull.

I’m told by a Boston-native that the Herald is beantown’s version of the NY Post. Graham certainly proved it today.

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Who Would Win in a Fight?

[ 39 ] March 6, 2008 |

Barney Miller vs. Cedric Daniels?

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The Five Universal Commandments of Writing About Women

[ 8 ] March 6, 2008 |

Dahlia Lithwick infers them:

1. It’s not sexism if it’s women trashing women.

2. Writing by women about women need not be held to the same critical or analytical standards as writing by men because—I suppose—we really are as stupid as Allen suggests.

3. No need for originality in pieces by women about women. Oprah, Celine, and Grey’s Anatomy never get old. Good times.

4. When all else fails, say the piece was meant to be funny. Then you can say that anyone who didn’t like it has no sense of humor.

5. Laugh all the way to the bank.

This is very smart, so maybe John Pomfret will mistake her for a man and give her an op-ed job with an assignment to write about a topic besides why Women Are Teh Stupid. (Or, as I’m sure she’d prefer, the Times will give her Greenhouse’s job when it comes open, but I’d miss the snark.)

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Stratcom Offers a Deal

[ 11 ] March 6, 2008 |

Via Armchair Generalist, STRATCOM Chief General Kevin Chilton is asking Congress to make a deal:

But as U.S. officials look to the future, Chilton said, “What we need is a modernized nuclear weapon to go with our modernized delivery platforms that we’ve worked on and are working on, and a responsive infrastructure, one that can produce weapons.

“If we do that right … you have an opportunity to lower what is referred to commonly as the hedge inventory, the backup inventory,” said Chilton, who is due to retire this summer.

The offer here is that, in return for backing the Reliable Replacement Warhead program (which is intended to produce a new generation of nuclear weapons), nuclear force levels will be substantially cut. The nugget of logic behind the deal is the argument that older weapons are less reliable, and that as such would need them in greater numbers than newer weapons.

And this, of course, is garbage. We do not now and have never needed every single nuclear weapon we launch to function properly; we have so many more than we need to do whatever job we could ever conceivably want to do. No plausible study suggests that our existing nuclear weapons are decaying at anything like the rate they would need to in order to threaten the robustness of the deterrent. More importantly, no enemy is ever going to make this analysis:

CRAZY FOREIGN DICTATOR: How many nuclear weapons will the Americans launch at us if we destroy New York?

LACKEY TO CRAZY FOREIGN DICTATOR: Dozens, sir. But perhaps half of those won’t work, which means that we will only suffer half of… well, dozens of nuclear explosions.

CRAZY FOREIGN DICTATOR: Ha ha ha. The American fools. If only they had funded RRW back when they had the chance. The Democratic Party truly is our best friend. Launch our attack!

It comes down to this; STRATCOM wants new toys, and the major nuclear labs want new jobs. It’s unclear to me why we should pay for either of those things.

Cross-posted to TAPPED.

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They’re Being Run By A Committee Consisting of Cam Bonifay, Michael Brown, and Katherine Harris

[ 0 ] March 6, 2008 |

That explains why there’s nothing resembling a vote count in the Texas caucuses. I believe that the operative words are “in” and “ept.”

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The Right Call

[ 56 ] March 6, 2008 |

Howard Dean says that delegates will not be seated based on the Michigan and Florida straw polls, but would be willing to sanction delegates based on an actual election agreed to by both campaigns. This is obviously the correct decision. We’ll see if the state parties choose to enfranchise their voters or not.

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Allen: "I Was Serious!"

[ 54 ] March 5, 2008 |

You may recall John Pomfret claiming that the embarrassing Charlotte Allen editorial he published was just “tongue-in-cheek.” (Exactly what the column was satirizing Pomfret left obscure.) Alas, Allen herself doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo:

Washington: When I read this, I immediately thought it was written ironically. Were you surprised that so many people took it literally?

Charlotte Allen: I wouldn’t quite use the word “ironic,” but yes, I meant to be funny but with a serious point–that women want to be taken seriously but quite often don’t act serious. Also, that women and men really are different.

Washington: You write that you doubt women’s representation in such fields as law (the Supreme Court) and medicine (brain surgeons) will rise much in the 21st century. However more women than men currently are graduating from law school and medical school. Could you please comment on this apparent contradiction?

Charlotte Allen: That’s absolutely true, but the proportion of women at the highest levels of these fields is going to remain relatively small, I predict.


Memphis, Tenn.: Ms. Allen, I am confused about The Post editors’ “it was satire, stupid” defense of your article. Could you explain why (or how) you thought the reader could have (or should have) picked up on the satirical tone? I recognize that this question may provoke a response not unlike the Supreme Court’s “I know it when I see it” approach to obscenity, but I have read a lot of satire, and I just don’t see it in your article. Perhaps you could give me a quick and dirty review of my eighth-grade English class?

Charlotte Allen: I’m not sure whether I’d characterize the piece as satire, but I’d certainly characterize it as humor: my poking fun at the dumb things my sex does.

So Allen really does think that women are dumb, largely unqualified for positions of responsibility, etc. — which is entirely unsurprising — and Pomfret feels that it’s reasonable to “proactively” air such views in his op-ed page. Good to know. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the inevitable satirical and provocative debate between Charles Murray and Allen about whether women or African-Americans are dumber.

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Texas May Have Caucuses…

[ 0 ] March 5, 2008 |

…But still no dildos.

Remember a couple weeks ago when the traditionally conservative 5th circuit held that Texas’s ban on sex toys was unconstitutional?

Well, apparently the Texas AG is none too happy about Texas residents, um, getting happy, so he has petitioned the 5th Circuit to rehear the case en banc (which means it will be heard by all the judges of the court, rather than just a panel of three). In a line right out of the GOP “gay marriage will mean the end of the world” playbook, the AG claims that if the court’s decision is permitted to stand, it may “invite … challenges to previously-uncontroversial criminal prohibitions” on sexual practices such as “consensual adult incest or bigamy”

Because apparently that’s what’s happened in every other state where we allow people to use sex toys in peace (for the record, that would be 46 of them).

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Who Would Win in a Fight?

[ 18 ] March 5, 2008 |

Bubbles vs. Renton?

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