Archive for November, 2010

Magic: The Lollering

November 30, 10

I’ve started up a new blog for Magic: The Gathering cards I shopped up for fun. Take a look at http://mtglol.wordpress.com/. It’s a work in progress, but I’m adding a couple of new creations weekly.

Here’s a taste:

Za Warudo Magic Card

Objection Magic Card gif

One Piece Nami Magic Card

Cosmological Sense of Humour

November 25, 10

“There is no God, the universe is ordered and liveable for sentient life by pure, random and godless chance.”

Ahem:

Via AoSHQ, from NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day.

The Power and Influence of Sarah Palin

November 25, 10

Yeah, that nobody has-been unpopular among Conservatives nobody from nowhere… Right, liberals?

Via Neo-neocon:

His voice dripping with exasperation, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said to me one July afternoon in his office: “If I would have told you that I could open up a Facebook account or a Twitter account, simply post quotes, and have the White House asked about those, and to have the entire White House press corps focused on your quote of the day on Facebook — that’s Sarah Palin. She tweets one thing, and all of a sudden you’ve got a room full of people that want to know…” – The New York Times

On a tip from hutchrun.

Game Projectile Physics

November 25, 10

Game Projectile Physics

Via Dueling Analogs, from Reddit. Rest of examples via either link.

Another Worms comic by VGCats here.

Dueling Analogs: Wii Are the Champions

November 19, 10

Dueling Analogs Wii Are the Champions

Click the comic snippet above to view the full comic.

Just love the HA HA HA HAs around Wii.

Ace of Spades on: Why the WTC Collapse Looked Like a Controlled Demolition

November 16, 10

From AoSHQ:

Let me get to the central stupidity of this proof, which is repeated over and over and over again — that the building looked like a building brought down by a controlled explosion.

There is a reason people say that. A simple reason, actually. I’m surprised these geniuses have never considered it.

The reason they liken it to a building brought down by controlled demolition is because they have never seen a building brought down in any other fashion. That is, their visual memory of buildings coming down is always a memory of big casino-hotels in Vegas being brought down that way. That’s what they all look like.

But have they ever seen a skyscraper that didn’t collapse due to a controlled explosion?

Here’s a possibility for the Truthers — 95% of all buildings which collapse will pancake down, one floor collapsing on to the next, just like the 9/11 buildings, whether brought down by controlled demolition or non-controlled unexpected demolition, because that is how these things tend to collapse.

They lack a contrary case — that is, in their stupid little minds they are thinking that most buildings brought down by uncontrolled explosions topple over like Lego towers, falling over to their sides (and knocking over the dinosaur toys right next to them). Thus, any building that pancakes must be brought down by controlled demolition.

That is what they are thinking. Their stupid little memories of knocking over Lego towers.

If 95% of all buildings will pancake down, no matter what brings them down, with just one in twenty falling to the side, then what kind of proof is it that the 9/11 buildings pancaked down? They would pancake down 95% of the time no matter what the cause of the demolition was.

Guys — gravity pulls down. Directly down. Unless there is a very serious force being applied to the side of a very heavy structure, 99-100% of its movement during a collapse will be directly down, not off to the side (gravity doesn’t pull to the side).

Update: Here’s One Building That Toppled Over. I said 95% because I was pretty confident this sort of fall-over was possible — but unlikely.

See also Bush Is Teh Roxxor Genius For Planning 9/11!!!.

Also, the same kind of people who think constructions can’t fall straight down, but usually topple over sideways, are often of the same bunch that pooh-poohs the idea that the walls of Jericho could topple over sideways so that people could just step over it.

Obama is All About Obama

November 16, 10

Via AoSHQ, from Weekly Standard, some excerpts about what Obama’s guiding vision in life is.

American Narcissus
The vanity of Barack Obama

But Obama’s vanity is overwhelming. It defines him, his politics, and his presidency.

It’s revealed in lots of little stories. There was the time he bragged about how one of his campaign volunteers, who had tragically died of breast cancer, “insisted she’s going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt.” There was the Nobel acceptance speech where he conceded, “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war” (the emphasis is mine). There was the moment during the 2008 campaign when Obama appeared with a seal that was a mash-up of the Great Seal of the United States and his own campaign logo (with its motto Vero Possumus, “Yes we Can” in Latin). Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” Oh yes, Mr. President, we certainly do.

My favorite is this line from page 160 of The Audacity of Hope:

I find comfort in the fact that the longer I’m in politics the less nourishing popularity becomes, that a striving for power and rank and fame seems to betray a poverty of ambition, and that I am answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience.

So popularity and fame once nourished him, but now his ambition is richer and he’s answerable not, like some presidents, to the Almighty, but to the gaze of his personal conscience. Which is steady. The fact that this sentence appears in the second memoir of a man not yet 50 years old—and who had been in national politics for all of two years—is merely icing.

There are lots of times when you get the sense that Obama views the powers of the presidency as little more than a shadow of his own person. When he journeyed to Copenhagen in October 2009 to pitch Chicago’s bid for the Olympics, his speech to the IOC was about—you guessed it: “Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night,” he told the committee, “people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of …” and away he went. A short while later he was back in Copenhagen for the climate change summit. When things looked darkest, he personally commandeered the meeting to broker a “deal.” Which turned out to be worthless. In January 2010, Obama met with nervous Democratic congressmen to assure them that he wasn’t driving the party off a cliff. Confronted with worries that 2010 could be a worse off-year election than 1994, Obama explained to the professional politicians, “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.”

In the midst of the BP oil spill last summer, Obama explained, “My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about: the spill.” Read that again: The president thinks that the job of the president is to make certain the citizens correctly understand what’s on the president’s mind.

I’ve said it before whenever the subject of “Is Obama a Muslim or a Christian?” comes up – Obama’s religion is himself.

DADT Thoughts Roundup

November 13, 10

Some good analyses and observations from the field on the US military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy at here:

Here is why DADT functions: Gays don’t get protected status for being gay. They can’t sue or otherwise demand special treatment because of their status as homosexual because they can’t admit to it.

Repeal DADT and that goes out the window. Now, any part of the military, from calling a cadet a “pansy” in boot camp to the whole macho ethos will have to be eliminated because it’s “discrimination.”

I hate to bring out my “the focus of evil in the modern world is the legal profession” card but it’s true. Gay soldiers will become an untouchable protected class. To see how that works, see Hasan, Maj. Nidal.

The best thing about DADT is it allowed gay people to serve but let everyone maintain the polite fiction that there is nothing “wrong” and everyone could get along. It forced the bigots to keep their mouths shut, and let the brass punish them if they didn’t, and it allowed gay people to serve as long as they didn’t cause any waves. It’s a win-win situation right now.

Do you have any idea how much Sexual Harassment training I had to endure due to a Drill Sergeant raping a female trainee half a world away, and me being in an MOS barred to women?

It was f*cking witch hunt time, as female soldiers used the new policies to file or threaten charges against superiors, ex-lovers, or coworkers they didn’t like.

How many claims of harassment and/or discrimination will today’s soldiers have to endure due to gay soldiers deciding filing a complaint would be a good way to get revenge, or a quick ticket back to Ft. Living Room?

In practice, gays will not be assigned to combat units, where they would be more of a problem in unit cohesion; instead, they’ll be given non-combat jobs.

Which means that straight men, who would expect to have the occasional non-combat assignment, will just get more combat assignments — which isn’t fair. Another poster brings up that this is just what happened as more women joined the Navy; the women got the land assignments, meaning men wouldn’t get them, and would tend to spend almost all their time at sea. Whereas before they’d swing the occasional patch of land-based duty.

And there:

There is a certain unseemliness in all this. Liberal-leaning people (socially liberal, even if otherwise conservative) campaign to get the the law changed to allow gays to serve openly.

But it is not, in the main, socially liberal people who actually sign up for the military. No, it is the socially conservative people who tend to fill our military.

So to some extent I feel that a lot of people are offering strong opinions about the conduct and entry requirements of an organization they refuse to join, basically overruling the opinions of those who keep the organization going.

But I am a worried about the pure numbers here — if allowing gays to serve openly in the military means that many more who would otherwise volunteer to serve don’t volunteer, well, our experiment in changing social norms will have a detrimental consequence on the military’s mission.

Let’s say the people who don’t want gays to serve openly are, as their angrier left-wingier critics would have it, homophobic, backwards, bigoted, etc. Let’s concede all that, for the sake of this point. Here’s what they also are: Ready to lay down their lives in defense of their country.

There is no avoiding the connection between traditionalist values about homosexuality and traditionalist values about service in the armed forces.

And I don’t think critics of the policy are giving sufficient thought to what may happen in many of the people inclined to military service decide it no longer represents their values.

The guys who make up the club should have most of the say about the rules of the club. I really doubt that many of the policy’s critics are willing to sign up to make up for drops in recruitment, should that come to pass.

See also My Views on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Gerrymandering: What Is It? Illustrated

November 11, 10

From Zombie via AoSHQ, a concise illustration of what gerrymandering is and what it can unfairly accomplish.

IMAGE 0:

The raw demographic map of a state, showing 9/15 (two thirds) of populace who support Red Star, and 6/15 (one third) who support Green Dot.

The state needs to be divided into 3 areas with equal number of people each. Each area gets one vote, and what party the area votes for is determined by the will of the voting populace.

IMAGE 1:

This is what a fair division would look like – two areas have more Red Star supporters while one area has more Green Dot supporters. Thus ultimately Red Dot would have 2/3 representation and Green Dot would have 1/3 representation… Just like the actual demographics.

The state ends up leaning Red Star.

IMAGE 2:

If a Red Star supporter were in charge of setting the 3 areas and did it to give his party the maximum benefit, he would divide the state in such as way as to have each area have more Red Star supporters than Green Dot supporters. Each of the three areas would choose to vote Red Star, none would choose to vote for Green Dot. Red Star has 3/3 and Green Dot 0/3.

The state ends up leaning Red Star as it would in a fair division, but now with zero concern for Green Dot supporters.

IMAGE 4:

If a Green Dot supporter were in charge of setting the 3 areas and did it to give his party the maximum benefit, he would divide the state in such as way as to lump as many of the Red Star supporters together in one area. That area would of course vote for Red Star. The remaining two areas have more Green Dot supporters, and thus those areas vote Green Dot.

The state ends up leaning Green Dot, even though overall there are more Red Star supporters!

Head on over to Zombie for a more detailed explanation, an example of real-world gerrymandering where you can see how crazily distorted the area divisions end up, and an explanation of why Democrat-initiated gerrymandering backfired and led to the nationwide Republican landslide in 2010.

And here’s an example of a blatant gerymandering from Zombie’s worst-offenders list:

Here it is: The most ridiculous congressional district in the entire country. No, you’re not looking at two districts; IL-4 has two absurdly gerrymandered halves held together by a thin strip of land at its western edge that is nothing more than the median strip along Interstate Highway 294. The end result is a gerrymandered gerrymander, a complete mockery of what congressional representation is even supposed to be. As with AZ-2, the intention behind IL-4 was to create an ethnic enclave, in this case an Hispanic-majority district within an otherwise overwhelmingly non-Hispanic Chicago. Problem is, Chicago has two completely distinct and geographically separate Hispanic neighborhoods — one Puerto Rican, the other Mexican — but neither is large enough to constitute a district majority on its own. Solution? Lump all Hispanics together into a supposedly coherent cultural grouping, and then carefully draw a line surrounding every single Hispanic household in Chicago, linking the two distant neighborhoods by means of an uninhabited highway margin. Voila! One Hispanic congressperson, by design. And as a side-effect, the most preposterous congressional district in the United States.

A commenter notes that the two halves could have been joint marginally more sensibly by a bar down the middle, but this was rejected as it would separate the black-majority neighborhood. Hence the highway margin solution.

Comparison of Isaiah in Modern Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls (2300 Years Apart)

November 9, 10

Column I from The Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Centre‘s interactive actual image of the Dead Sea Scrolls Isaiah (300-100 B.C.):

Hebrew is read from right to left.

Isaiah 1 from the modern day Interlinear Bible, which for modern readers has been rearranged left to right:

Comparison of the first four phrases:

Chzun:

Isaiah:

bn:

Amutz:

Continuing on in the above manner, it is found that there is no discernable difference in overall meaning between the Dead Sea Scroll Isaiah and any modern Hebrew Bible.

And finally, a handy montage for your ease of use (and Facebook posting):

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever – Isaiah 40:8

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” – Jesus Christ, Matthew 24:35

The LORD is faithful and true. Amen.

Credits: Dead Sea Scrolls interactive found via Peles e cabedais no património cultural: tecnologias, conservação e restauro

See also From the desert to the web: bringing the Dead Sea Scrolls online


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