Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Jeff on Mike

Jeff Grubb posted a pretty cool Michael Moore story over on his blog. I can't get it to link to the actual post, so you might have to scroll and search to find if it you're reading this at a later date than I'm posting it.

News From Tulsa

I can't really say I'm surprised to learn that a story of animal cruelty in Tulsa has made national headlines, but it doesn't make it any less sickening.

Thought for the Day

Dingos would be like cars, except that they are like dogs.

Con Reading

It's sad, but one of the few times I really get to read anymore is when I travel by myself - which is basically to and from gaming conventions. This last trip, I got through a good two and a half books - pretty remarkable.

The first tome I read was The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of Public Relations - yup, a business book. If that doesn't show you how far I've journeyed into the dark side, nothing will. It was actualy relatively informative, although, like most business-related stuff, the 300+ pages could have been summarized in a 10-page pamphlet. I was sitting there thinking, man, how often are they going to keep repeating themselves? But I did find its premise quite useful - that cutesy advertising isn't often worth a damn as far as sales go (and, statistics often show that it can cut into sales significantly). Sales are generated by positive public relations, and then advertisements are created to support the public perception of a product. I can't believe I'm even typing this crap, but there ya go. I'm a business guy now, baby! Where's my giant TV?

On the religion side, I read John Krakauer's Beneath the Banner of Heaven, which he says is basically an indictment of organized religion. The book supports its premise that organized religion feeds mentally-unbalanced individuals and even encourages them to commit horrible crimes by exploring murders committed by two excommunicated Mormons back in 1984. I found that he actually made a pretty weak job of supporting his thesis, and I don't share his dismal opinion of religion, but the book did offer a fascinating look into both the history of Mormonism (which I am woefully ignorant of) and the current fundamentalist sects within Mormonism - namely, the polygamists. Did you know there is an entire town in northern Arizona populated entirely by polygamists? I'm not talking about a small village either - it's 10,000+ people. I found the book informative, and repellant in the descriptions of incest, abuse, torture, and misogyny that have occured in the name of this religion, but I am also aware that these things make up a relatively small part of Mormonism, just as they make up a relatively small part of any other religion. A lesson I learned at DHS: even athiests beat their kids.

The half-book I got into was a biography of Benjamin Franklin, a bit of a departure from me, but it was on the NYT best-seller list so I picked it up. It's not the most exciting biography I've ever read, but it kept my interest, and I'm going to try to finish it now that I'm back. I'll reserve judgement until I'm through the entire book.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


So here's my official con report. It was good to be back in Central Ohio, although for me Central Ohio on this trip consisted of a hotel room, the convention center, a couple of restaurants within walking distance of the two, and the taxi ride to and from the airport. In other words, I didn't get back to Granville or drive up to Cedar Point or any of the other grandiose plans I considered for the trip. It was purely business. And games.

I ended up with a copy of the Chrononauts expansion and convention-exclusive cards (yes, other companies do convention-exclusives too!) Chrononauts is a fun Looney Labs game; Looney Labs is kind of the Green Party of the games industry; still run by white people, but very concerned with the environment and the repeal of marijuana restrictions. They make some darn good games, too (Are You The Werewolf? is one of my personal favorites).

I also ended up with a copy of Citadels (OK, it actually came while I was at the con), which I've been dying to try out after reading raves about it from both Jeff and Wolfgang.

I mentioned before that I wound up with a complete library of All Flesh Must Be Eaten, which actually doubles as resources for the Unisystem gaming system in those books. It's a non-HP, non-level driven system, and it's really pretty slick - they have rules for a "space cowboy" game in their magazine (basically a Firefly game without the name Firefly), so I think I might give that one a quick try one night and see how the system performs under pressure. It seems like a great system to use for story-driven games, and mine tend to focus more on story than the actual combat and stuff, so I can certainly see myself using the system.

There isn't much else to say about the con - I don't want it to seem like the only reason I went was for swag, but then again the job part is pretty boring - and Liz wants me to fire up the grill.

Space Elevator

Here's an interesting concept: a 62,000-mile elevator into space. Hey, if David Brin says it can happen, who am I to argue?

Funny Stuff

Catching up on funny stuff after being away for so long:

Fiscal Conservatives on the Bush Administration and the Current Congress

Thanks to Mark Evanier for the link to this article in the conservative National Review about the spending habits of the current Republican-controlled Congress, and the approval-by-silence applied by the Bush administration.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Catching Up

I'm back from the Con, got in about an hour ago, and I'm sorting through emails, blogs, etc., trying to catch up. I'll probably post a concise update later - we won six awards, including Game of the Year, which is huge - but for now I'm going to sort and eat and be tired.

Saturday, June 26, 2004


Once again, I've stolen a couple of moments to blog on the floor at a convention. This time I'm at Origins, and it's been a very good show. I'm trying to adjust to my new role as Communications Manager, which means a lot less contact with our volunteers and players, and a lot more contact with press types and Veeps, which is good in some ways but it kind of makes me think I'm kissing ass and ignoring what's important, even when I'm obviously not.

I made out with an entire library of Eden Studio's All Flesh Must Be Eaten game, and I found the perfect baby gift for Jenny. Otherwise, I really didn't come across a lot of stuff I really wanted. All of the cool stuff is coming out at GenCon this year (AEG's "World's Largest Dungeon" being the #1 on my list of cool stuff), so Origins is kind of like a warm-up show.

I have to get up at 5 AM EST tomorrow to make it home, which is really 2 AM on my internal clock. Times like this, I really wish I could sleep on airplanes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

More on Space

My short entry earlier tonight didn't nearly capture the elation of spirit I felt when I read about Mike Melvill's space voyage this morning. My parents raised me on science fiction - the first movie I remember seeing in the theater was Empire Strikes Back, and I had 45-rpm records of the entire trilogy that I'd listen to religiously on my Fisher-Price record player. My mom took me to every Star Trek movie, even the bad ones, and she introduced me to Gene's vision on television. We watched the entire original series in reruns, and all of Next Generation when it came out. I read Verne and Lovecraft (try reading HP in the fifth grade - it explains a bit about my psyche, though).

I'm going to reveal something almost too-sweet about my inner geek-dom: I truly believe in Gene Roddenberry's vision of space travel as a unifying force. The spirit of the Enterprise and its journey of discovery is that people have set aside their differences, differences of race, religion, ideology, and everything else, to work for a greater cause. Really, it's the greatest cause - the selfless giving for no reason other than the joy of discovery and learning.

As cynical and angry as I come across in my daily life, as cynical and angry as I fear I've become, reading about Melvill's accomplishment really reminded me of how I used to believe, and rekindled the hope that someday, we can really make it that way. We're ready to drop a probe onto Titan that may very well reveal the existence of life outside of our planet. We're seeing pictures of the very birth of our universe. And we've brought space travel out of the hands of governments, who saw it as way to spy on our enemies and plant a Star Wars system that had nothing to do with the movie, and giving it to common people. People who can, one day, decide to explore, for profit or glory or more noble causes, and perhaps offer even a small shred of Gene's vision.

So Spaced Out

Although we may not realize it now, the date of June 21st, 2004 may very well go down in history much like December 17th, 1903. Today pilot Mike Melvill flew the world's first privately-owned spacecraft into, well, space. To say this is huge is an understatement; it's going to open the final frontier in way I can't even begin to imagine.

To accompany this historical achievement, had a nifty little article on colonizing Mars.

Monday, June 21, 2004

For 21st Century Digital Boys

If you don't know how to live but have a lot of toys, now you can use your toys to simulate - yes, simulate - the rituals that lead up to seducing people. Thanks to Eidos, you can engage in a Sims-like game called Singles: Flirt Up Your Life where the whole point is to get your housemates in the sack, or watch them in the sack with each other. It's a download-only game that you have to pay to use after the first hour. Of course, everyone is rendered model-perfect, and all the conversation trees are pre-programmed, so it's not even a real sim, but a trip through someone's idealized imagination, where you can play voyeur or interactor at your whim.

Don't let the Freudians know..

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Mooreish Concerns

The world is prepping for the release of another Michael Moore movie, Fahrenheit 9/11. Conservatives who haven't seen the movie are tearing it apart, Liberals who haven't seen the movie are calling it a Godsend. I don't know if it's going to affect the election, because I suspect the people who will see it have already made up their minds, and those who probably should see it will be picketing out front.

I'm going to see it, because I'd like to see what Moore is up to (remember, I worked on The Awful Truth, Moore's TV show for the Bravo network, back in college). It's gotten good reviews, most notably from none other than Fox News (I couldn't find the exact link, but I've seen the review quoted several other places). Roger Ebert, with whom I typically don't agree too much regarding films, gave it a glowing review as well. Apparently, he got some pretty heated mail over it, and wrote a follow-up article in the Sun-Times, where he specifically responds to one of his critics.

The highlight of Ebert's article is:

A reader writes:

"In your articles discussing Michael Moore's film 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' you call it a documentary. I always thought of documentaries as presenting facts objectively without editorializing. While I have enjoyed many of Mr. Moore's films, I don't think they fit the definition of a documentary."

That's where you're wrong. Most documentaries, especially the best ones, have an opinion and argue for it. Even those that pretend to be objective reflect the filmmaker's point of view. Moviegoers should observe the bias, take it into account and decide if the film supports it or not.

That has been the thrust of the right's attacks on Moore: that a) he twists the facts to his own ends, which of course he does, and b) that he's not making objective documentaries.

Every time I've said "there is no such thing as an objective documentary, that's the nature of documentary films," people have looked at me like I'm crazy. Here's Ebert, saying the same thing - it's something that anyone familiar with film (and, I argue, anyone with an ounce of sense) should know.

I'n not sure what's worse - that a lot of people who might have seen the film won't because they don't feel it's "objective," or that a lot more people out there seem to think that a whole lot of previous documentaries have been objective that so obviously were not.

Booze and Canadians

Last week was long and hellish. I ended up working for 11 hours on Monday and 12 hours on Tuesday; Wednesday was better, because I got to see Travis; Thursday we played Skull & Bones, and Friday our Internet connection was down when I got to the office, so I had to do my work in four hours time and skip games day, but I managed to pull it off.

Friday night Liz and I met Jon, Shane, Beth, and their crew at the Irish Emigrant for drinks and fun. Tiffany, Matt, and Isaac joined us later. We threw some darts and I drank way more than I should have; I haven't had that much booze in a long time. I kept myself awake until 2 AM so I wouldn't be hung over. Sadly, we met Brook and Wendi bright and early Saturday morning for a daytrip up to Vancouver, so I was operating on very little sleep yesterday.

The trip was pretty nifty; we spent a lot of time waiting to cross into Canada (over an hour) because someone in front of us took a U-Haul into the "cars only" line, and they took a good half-hour to question him, search it, and so on. Then, we got stuck in traffic in Vancouver and sat there for another good hour before we finally made it to the park where we started our day. By then, it was 1 in the afternoon. So we walked around the park (it was probably in the mid-80s yesterday, and I wore a black t-shirt - dumb!) and eventually tired of that. Parking in the park was $5, and according to the park map there were other places where that $5 parking receipt would be good, so we spent yet another hour searching for them, until we finally gave up, went to a parking garage, and paid more money to park there. We hit Denham street, full of restaurants and shops, ate at a pub, looked for some Cuban cigars (all too expensive, so I didn't bring any back), and then headed for Grouse Mountain, where you can ride a skyride to top to look down on the city.

The skyride was way too expensive, so we found another park nearby and walked around on the Cleveland Dam, getting a nice view of a gorge, half of which was under water. Afterwards, exhausted, we headed back. On the way back to our apartment, Liz and I sat in traffic for another hour because there was a wreck on I-5 that covered three of four lanes of traffic.

Canada: a lot of sitting in your car, and overpriced touristy stuff.

Today I'm planning on doing just about nothing. I'm going to watch some Northern Exposure and listen to the commentary tracks on the Simpsons episodes I like from the recently-released fourth season. And play some more Prince of Persia.


Just got back from Vancouver for the day. I'm exhausted, so I'll post about the last couple of days sometime tomorrow.

I realized I haven't updated the blog for Nation States in a while. I guess the newness of the game wore off.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Absinthe News

I found this on Wolfgang's blog: the Swiss have voted to re-legalize Absinthe.

I'm probably going to import a set of glasses and some bottles of it myself in the next couple of weeks, I found an online store that sells it reasonably and have been conversing with the owner at length about different varieties. The stigma still surrounding Absinthe is kind of strange; I mentioned it to one of my co-workers, who informed me that he "would never do anything harder than alcohol," implying that Absinthe was some kind of hard drug. It has less alcohol in it than Everclear, and the hallucinagenic properties have been highly overstated - if they occur at all. But, it goes to show what one hundred years of bad PR and ignorance can do.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Catching Up

After work I fought traffic into Seattle to pick up Travis. We decided it's been six years since we last saw each other, and that we've known each other for over half our lives. Both statistics are kind of sobering, but it's a good kind of friendship that you can pick up for four hours after six years and just keep right on trucking.

We hit the comic book store so I could catch up, and hit Cedars, the Indian restaurant that everyone absolutely loves. I have to stick with boring dishes though; I'd kill for a good Lebanese restaurant here, I'm going to have to gorge myself at Halim and Mimi's back in Tulsa when I go. We hit Gas Works for the view, and then it got dark so we came back to the apartment for chatting. Then, before it started, I had to drive him back.

I found out that the cool parts of my old high school in Normal have been destroyed - the auditorium, band area, and the cool classrooms in that part of the building - and a parking lot is in their place. The comic shop downtown is closed now. The pizza joint we used to eat at all the time is gone. The high school is now some kind of middle school, and they built a new high school that has no windows on the east side of town. It was designed by a prison architect. For some reason, none of that surprises me, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little sad.

I'm exhausted, and I can tell because my writing is ceasing to make sense. Rather than make an ass of myself further, I'll turn in.

Bloomsday Celebrations

Happy 100th Bloomsday everyone!

Even Dork Tower got into the spirit.

Zombie Questions Pondered

Thanks to Seth for pointing me towards Straight Dope's discussion of Zombies and power grids.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Good Stuff

Yesterday I ranted and bitched a lot. Today, things are looking better.

Liz got a call back from a prospective employer; they want her to come in for a fourth interview.

My friend Travis, who I haven't seen in years, is going to be in town tomorrow.

And I have a very rough draft of the first scenario for a submission I'm planning to make to a game.

Things look better today.


If you've been in tune with space news, you know that the Cassini probe is ending its long journey to Saturn at the beginning of next month. The probe will be to Saturn what Gallileo was to Jupiter, although even more so, as it will drop a seperate probe onto Saturn's moon, Titan, one of the only moons in the solar system to have an atmosphere - and, to boot, an atmosphere made of possible preorganic compounds, meaning it's practically swimming in the primordal soup of life.

Cassini is approaching Saturn, and recently preformed a flyby of Phoebe, one of Saturn's outermost moons, and a strange object because it orbits in the opposite direction of Saturn's other satellites, and it appears to be made up of stuff from the early part of the solar system - possibly a comet, or a piece of the Oort cloud. Cassini got some great pictures of Phoebe, and scientists are already deducing that it appears to be a big piece of ice, covered in a thin film of dark stuff, which means it very likely could be a comet.

Ciclops is the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations, and they seem to be adding three of four high-resolution images to their site every day from Cassini. I expect this to increase in the coming months, as the probe begins its final orbit around Saturn and drops its cargo onto Titan.

Space: it's really fucking cool.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

One Cool Thing

OK, there was one really good, cool thing about my day: I got to talk to Harlan Ellison on the phone for a few minutes. Apparently, he really likes our games, Crimson Skies in particular.

Killing in the Name

I'm royalled pissed off and I don't know why. OK, I kind of know why - see the post directly below this regarding Liz's fucked-up boss. People shouldn't have to deal with that kind of utter bullshit at work.

It would probably be better if I didn't feel like my talents were utterly going to waste at my own job right now; I spend 90% of my time updating webpages rather than writing or doing things that exercise more than my brain stem. And, of course, I still can't get that right - I keep missing obvious bullshit so someone always gleefully points out my error, like they can't wait to say, "hey kid, ya done fucked up again!"

So piss and rant and moan and bitch and all that stuff. I'm surprised anyone still reads this stupid blog (see, here's the point where I begin to come down on myself), all I do is bitch, talk about politics which I think no one really gives a fuck about anymore, and occasionally do other things.

I think I'll try to clear my mind by writing something tonight.

Now I'm even more pissed off, because I realized I'm going to have to miss the next two weeks of the Wednesday gaming session. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I need a beer.

From the "How Fucked Up Is This?" Department

Liz took a few days off work to deal with her parents being here over the weekend; today, she received an email from her supervisor that commented she had a spelling error in her Out-of-Office Autoreply. She would discuss this with Liz tomorrow morning, but would Liz like to comment? Official reprimand kind of stuff.

I then noted that this fine individual had a glaring spelling error in her reprimand to Liz.

I'm getting a prophetic vision for this waste of human flesh: first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Military and Diplomatic Leaders Condemn Bush Foreign Policy

Like a contestant on "Wheel of Fortune" filling in the last few blanks before solving the puzzle, a coalition of 20 or so diplomats and military leaders, many appointed by Reagan and Bush I, have signed a statement condemning the foreign policies of the current Bush administration.

Pound those nails in the coffin, boys.

He's No Reagan

Frank Rich in the New York Times discusses the ways Bush is trying to be like Reagan, and the ways Bush is failing.

A Tour Around the Olympic

We just got back in from a Friday / Saturday tour of the Olympic peninsula. It was incredible; we started with a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, which I admit probably lopped a good couple of hours off of our trip, and pointed the car west. Olympic National Park sits in the middle of the peninsula, and there aren't really any roads through it, so we basically circumnavigated the park. The Olympics and the surrounding area kind of remind me of Bavaria - snow-capped mountains, pine trees, blue lakes, mists. No Germans though. We stopped at a couple of places along the way yesterday, but ended up in Forks, the only town of any size (and I'm being generous when I use that terminology) on the far side of the park, last night. We ate killer seafood in La Push, a tiny town that is also a tiny Indian reservation for the Quileute Indians. It's much different than the rez in Oklahoma, since the tribe has actually been at this site for hundreds of years - in other words, they managed to keep their land, and they still fish the waters they have since before the Europeans came. There were some old black and white pictures on the wall of the restaurant of the Indians before they put up resorts and restaurants to seperate the whites from their money, and it was pretty nifty. There was a small beach there, and last night the rain stopped for a bit, so we walked around and got splashed by the incoming tide.

This morning, we hit the Hoh Rain Forest. The rain began as we were pulling out of the motel and didn't let up all day, so it lived up to its name. Driving past the logged areas was awful; I realized that the old growth forest is mostly gone, but it still looks wretched, especially since the roads are all designated in the atlas as "scenic," which, if you're a lumber baron or someone making money off it, they probably are. To a tourist, they make you want to drive faster and not look out your window, and certainly not stop. Inside the park, though, is a different story, and the rain forest was awesome to walk through - trees almost 300 feet tall, moss everywhere. We saw a couple of elk, a species native to the peninsula and rarely seen by visitors, which made the trip worthwhile. Liz and I picked up a National Parks Passport - it's this little book you get stamped at every National Park you go to, a really nifty little gimmick - so we can start a book of our own (I had one from Boy Scouts, but I lost it somewhere along the way).

I hate to admit it, but I'm really in love with our National Park system, and it's a fucking shame how underfunded it's been in the last ten years. The differences I've noticed at parks I've been to recently are pretty sobering, compared to how things were when I was going as a Scout back in the early 1990s. Things are in a state of disrepair because there just isn't the money to fix them. Instead of buying just one or two more cruise missles, maybe we should spend that money on our National Parks. It's a thought.

Anyhoo, after the rainforst, we drove south to Westport in search of fresh seafood, which apparently isn't in season quite yet, so we settled on some enormous prawns and Liz is cooking them right now. I had a great time catching up with her parents, but I'm currently in the computer room with the door closed - the first shot at any real privacy I've had in the last 48 hours or so.

It's about to end as I go to dinner, though.

Friday, June 11, 2004


Kurt Vonnegut offers us a delicious rant on modern consumerism and politics.

Remember, he fought in World War II.

A Matter of Time

I haven't been updating with nearly as much frequency lately, mainly because when I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is type more HTML into a content management system. So I apologize for the sporadic updates; unfortunately, it's only going to get worse. To say my new job is not what I thought it would be is an understatement, and I'm becoming increasingly jaded with a lot of the inter-office bullshit that's been going on around me. It's nothing I haven't seen before (and certainly better than other litter boxes I've experienced), but it reminds me that my company is still very much a family company, and those "on the outside" - or "from the outside" - are basically there to toil so that others can have fun. The honeymoon, as they say, is over.

Liz's parents are in town, and we're about to take off for a couple of days on the Olympic peninsula. We don't really have much of a plan other than that; for some reason we're taking the ferry to Bremerton, which seems like a waste of money, but I guess the novelty of riding a ferry is important to some people. From there, we're basically going to circumnavigate the peninsula. Hopefully we'll be back on Saturday night, but I'm not counting on it.

Wednesday I went over to Wolfgang's for a little gaming; had a great time, and got to meet some cool people and eat a great meal. I'm happy to find people to hang out with who aren't at my office; not to get back to work again, but one of the problems with hanging out with your co-workers all the time is that inevitably it ends up like a big college dorm, where everyone hangs out all the time, and personalities start to interfere, and eventually people get pissed off at each other, blah blah blah. I'm used to keeping my work life and my personal life on two opposite sides of the gymnasium, so the idea that I'm working with cool people is still kind of novel. Besides, any adults, and I do mean any, will begin to get on each other's nerves if they stay within close proximity for any length of time.

Sorry for the rambling nature of this post, I have a lot that I'm trying to squeeze into a little with zero time.


It didn't take long for certain people to begin exploiting Ronald Reagan's death for their own gain. Check out the re-election site for our current Commander-in-Thief. Challenge: try to find a picture of the person actually running for re-election on his own re-election site.

And, on the flip side, it's also being played for laughs - even though that site uses zombies, it still seems a little disrespectful to do things like that before the man's body is in the ground.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


I have to say that the endless coverage of Reagan's funeral is starting to grate. Like every other major world event, the media has decided that pummeling their viewers with repeated nonsense will force them to care, one way or another. Don't get me wrong, he was a loved president (by some) and it's been a while since we've had a loved president die in the US, but give me a break. CNN just showed a "video diary" of a kid who took a road trip to Reagan's funeral, a young Republican. The first thing this young Republican says is, "I was six years old when Reagan left office."

And I thought, wait a fucking second. I was six years old when Reagan was on television explaining how he had no recollection of ever telling people to destroy evidence of selling weapons to Iran in exchange for funds to funnel to central American countries, years before he left office.

The national perception of Reagan right now seems to be one of all wrongs being forgiven. I realize that it's considered disrespectful to bring up negative things about recently deceased people, but for crying out loud, let's not elevate them to sainthood prematurely. Are we really that starved for good role models and heros that we now have to artificially create them through media blitzes and selective memory?

There are those that would say that's all role models and heros have ever been (and I would tend to agree), but if that's the case, why don't we instead recognize flaws as part of the larger package and say, hey, this guy had his faults, but all around he's OK.

I just don't understand people sometimes.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Harry Potter

Saw the new Potter film tonight, and it's far, far better than the first two. The cartoony, hyper-real look has been discarded in favor of something much more gritty and realistic, both in terms of what the director chose to emphasize (the repeating images of time were a nice touch) and in the higher caliber acting and much-improved CGI. It's one of those movies that makes you go, oh yeah, that's why I like watching movies.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Stanley Epilogue

I haven't written about Stanley's fate lately, because I wasn't sure what it was until Friday, and then I forgot to write about it until now. Stanley found a great home with a sister of one of the receptionists at my vet's office, so the story has a happy ending. In retrospect, I think I did the right thing, but I'm not sure if I would make the same decision again - or if I would, I would certainly go about certain aspects of it differently.


Kytte loaned me the remake of Willard, and I finally got a chance to sit down and watch it yesterday. It was exceptional at creating an atmosphere of fear and madness; Crispin Glover made the title character about as crazy as you could expect from his life experiences, and the rat effects (when they used effects, most of the time it was trained animals) were great for a movie of its size and budget. I thought at first that the PG-13 rating would destroy much of what made the original so good, but in this case, the filmmakers took the route of subtlety and turned it into much more of a gothic story, and in so doing created, at its core, a creepier movie - one you'll sit up at 2 AM thinking about.

RIP Ronald Reagan

Today, Ronald Reagan passed away. For most of the early to middle part of my childhood, he was the only president I knew, and the only president I could imagine (although I was born two years into the Carter administration, I really don't remember anything about it). One of my first political memories is of the Iran-Contra hearings, and I distinctly recall the television repeating the phrase "shredded documents" ad infinitum. He ended the Cold War by raising America's standard of living - and military spending - so high that we literally spent the Soviet Union to death. I did not care for his economic policies, but he was much more of a negotiator and realized the value of compromise than many politicians in his party do today. But he stuck to his guns when necessary, and you could just feel the likeable-ness oozing off of him. Heck, I liked him in spite of myself.

Not to mention that Alzheimers is a godawful way to go, and I certainly don't wish that kind of long, painful death on anyone.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

More Nilahaus

I'm getting into Nation States. I've even created a new blog just for the things I do in the game - I've been dinking around with the idea of a fictional blog for a while, and I thought this would make an interesting experiment to see if I could somehow make it work. Find that blog here.

Bush's Aides on Bush

Someone at work sent along this article from Capitol Hill Blue, a libertarian online journal, about the state of the Bush administration and the man himself. I'm not sure how much of it is true, because a lot of it comes off sounding like wishful thinking and sources are - ahem - not exactly cited correctly, but it's certainly an interesting look at what might be occuring behind-the-scenes.

I've often gotten the impression from a lot of the neoconservative commentators lately that things appear to be imploding in their camps, and that people have become numb to the likes of Rush, Ann C., Hannity, and Bill O'R. Many of the things they say and do, such as Ann Coulter's recent defense of Rush Limbaugh's drug use and defense of Rush's comments about the Iraqi "frat party" at the prison, seem to be actions of desperation. They attacked Gore's recent speech in the exact same way: not by addressing a single one of the points Gore laid out, but simply by dismissing Gore as "insane" or "nuts." They aren't even trying anymore, and although Ann is still selling books (as she informed Bill O'Reily in that same interview), I suspect that she has become the consumate carnie: she's selling a freakshow and people are paying to get in just to see what comes next. There are people out there who are still holding strong to the neoconservative ideology, but I think a lot of people are realizing that the neocons used them and their good intentions for an agenda of greed, and they aren't terribly happy about it.

Of course, that's from my ivory tower up here in Washington state, and things may look very different elsewhere.

Back to Before

OK, so there you have it: back to the boring old template. The new one just sucked.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Dictator For A Day

Today I discovered Nation States, a game by the author of a book called Jennifer Government, Max Barry. It's pretty slick - you create a country, name it whatever you like, and then answer some questions about what you believe a perfect government would be like. Then, every day (or more or less often, depending), you receive "issues" that you must decide for your country; for example, today I made voting compulsory. Your country has an economic, political, and social standing depending on how you choose to deal with your issues. My country is called Nilahaus; I've provided a link on the right navbar for anyone interested in checking my progress. It seems like a fun, free experiment, but I must warn you that their websites are terribly slow.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


About a month ago, I mentioned I picked up a Kit-Kat Clock with a 20% off gift certificate from Bed Bath and Beyond. When I got the clock, I asked the clerk if I could use a second gift certificate on a second item. He said, "sure."

Liz and I had our eye on a set of dinnerware at Bed Bath and Beyond for a while, so that day, I hatched a plan. At my apartment complex, there's a handy recycle bin for junk mail, so you can just throw it away when you take it out of your mailbox without having to haul it back to your house. I noticed last time that there were several 20% off coupons in the recycle bin, so I thought, perhaps I could root around in there and see if I could find a second one.

Today, the next 20% off coupon came.

A half hour and a little bit of dumpster-diving later, and I scored 20% off an entire new set of dinnerware. Apparently it's a discontinued pattern, but it looks really good. I can't believe I'm even typing about being excited over new dinnerware, but it's nice to have something that looks, well, nice, something other than fine china that I'm not scared and embarrased to trot out for guests.

Although looking through the other options on that site, I realize that we've got a long way to go before we get the complete set...

The Next Intern

Most people don't remember, but roundabout mid-February of this year, news began to break of Democratic crown-prince Kerry and an affair he had with an intern.

The news was carried in places like the Drudge Report (which will go down in history as the site that broke the Monica Lewinski story), and the British tabloids, but slowly disappeared as people realized it was total bullshit.

So what's it like to be accused of having an affair with the likely presidential candidate?

Alexandra Polier, the woman named in the accusation, wrote an exceptional story about it, from facing those who accused her to ask them why they would publish such things with no facts to back it up, to tracing the roots of the story back to - yup - a Republican't smear machine. (Thanks to Mark Evanier for the link).

I have to hand it to Alexandra, she did an elegant job of making these people look like the total asshats they are.

Python Returns

Eric Idle of Monty Python fame wrote a nice little song about politics in America, proving he's still one of the sharpest satirical wits around. His own description:

Eric Idle presents... The FCC Song.
"Here’s a little song I wrote the other day while I was out duck hunting with a judge… It’s a new song, it’s dedicated to the FCC and if they broadcast it, it will cost a quarter of a million dollars."

Download it here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Making the CIA Work For You

OK, one last post before I work on the book.

If you ever need to know anything about any country on the planet, now you can tap one of our greatest taxpayer-funded resources: the CIA! Turn to The World Factbook for more information than you'll ever need to know. If you're planning a vacation, or planning an invasion, you will find the information on that site vital.

New Template

I'm a minimalist about some things, one of them being web design. All of Blogger's new templates force a width of just less than 800 pixels; I cannot stand that kind of shitty web design, because I think it's a lazy way to get around making your website look good on every size monitor. I managed to find one I didn't have to hack to pieces to fit to your monitor's width, and I went through and added all my links, changed some stuff around, yadda yadda yadda. I have more links to add to the right, but I'm not really in the mood for that right now. Instead, I'm going to work on my novel a bit and try not to think about the mountain of work waiting for me tomorrow morning.

Memorial Day

I forgot this morning that the Indy 500 was yesterday, so I didn't get to participate in one of my yearly traditions, watching people go around a track in highly-tuned vehicles at 240+ miles per hour. Indy racing is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine; I certainly find it more refined and challenging than NASCAR, although I can appreciate the dedication and expertise that all kinds of auto racing require, from riceboys to funny cars.

Jon and Seth came over this afternoon and spectated upon Step Into Liquid, one of the many DVDs I've gotten in the last couple of months. I stopped putting so much time and effort into talking about DVDs because no one was using my links to buy them, so it was basically a wasted effort. If I see something noteworthy, I'll talk about it. If someone were to buy something, then I'd talk even more about it.

I've stagnated once again on my weight loss, which is strengthening my resolve to get more unwanted pounds off. Tomorrow I'm going to start walking to work again, and I'm going to seriously look into some of the yoga centers in and around Bellevue to try to find something that fits our schedule and our budget.

On a fishier but related note, we picked up some Copper River salmon, a delicacy that appears here once a year for a couple of weeks (see the linked article for more details). Liz is fixing it right now, so I'll make a culinary report later tonight or tomorrow.

Right now, I'm going to go pick out a new template for the old blog.