Gaming Thread 12/9/2013
—Gang of Gaming Morons!
Another week, another gaming thread. Bunch of videos from last night's VGX thing. From the small bits I looked at during commercials during the football game, it was painful.
More below the fold.
Sorry for the late post but I was waiting for something to happen in a game and it didn't come to fruition
VGX wrap up:
New Witcher 3 trailer
The Division tech demo
Also get a story trailer for the upcoming Thief game
Nintendo showed off Cranky Kong in Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. Wish Retro was making another Metroid
Telltale finally admitted that yes, they are working on a Game of Thrones game
Telltale also announced that they're trying to make Borderlands not have a crappy story
Respawn also showed off two new mechs for the upcoming TitanFall
Remedy made a new trailer for the upcoming Quantum Break
Double Fine also showed off their Broken Age game
HelloGames (Joe Danger series) also announcing an upcoming game called No Man's Sky
New Destiny trailer
Of course Bungie also announced that the game isn't going to make it's spring release as they pushed it back to September 9th. That's a gamble and a half and hopefully doesn't make it be lost in the Fall avalanche of games.
Capy announced why their Super Time Force was delayed, it's getting a simultaneous release on the 360 and the Xbox One. Kinda curious if this will end up coming out after their Xbox One launch exclusive, Below hits.
Not much new out this week.
Peggle 2 (Xbox One) - It's going to be out for everything under the sun next year but it's coming to the XBox One on Monday for $11.99.
Wii U Fit (Wii U) - Well, it's been digital for awhile now but the standard retail package comes with a meter for $50 or if you don't have a balance board lurking in your closet, you can spend $90 on Friday to get everything you need for it.
Was asked to talk about PC peripherals and you know, I am curious in what you guys are using. Personally, my setup at the moment is:
SteelSeries Sensei mouse (HATE the mousewheel and wish I bought another G9X which I think is the finest mouse ever made)
For mousepad, I'm using a large Razer Goliathus Alpha Speed mousepad. I got it as a gift a few years ago and though it's seen better days, I dig it and it's a perfect size for my desk.
I fried my G19 with beer so I'm currently using a cheap ass Logitech K120 $15 special which is okay but you get what you pay for and I really miss the damn backlighted keys. I've got a SteelSeries Apex board coming for Christmas and I really can't want to toss this thing back into my closet.
As for a controller, I'm using a 360 one like everyone else till I get around to picking up a DS4 or till Microsoft releases some PC drivers for the One controller next year.
I play a lot of racing games aka I play a lot of iRacing and my wheel is a G27 (wait for a sale) which with the NIXIM spring mod and chillicoke's paddles is a really damn good wheel. One of these days I'll finally upgrade to a Fanatec's Clubsport wheel and pedals
And for flightsims, I'm stuck with my beat up Extreme 3D Pro. It's gotten me through quite a few years and it's still ticking. I would get something better but outside of DCS, I really don't play many flightsims as much as I used to.
As someone who kinda despises the concept of a gaming headset (they cost too much for a crappy product), I just rock my Grado SR 60i and a cheap but great Zalman mic. That being said, if I didn't already have those Grados, I would buy honestly buy another pair of Superlux's HD681 which are arguably the best headphones for under $100 (non sale price) which happen to cost under $35.
So toss your setup into the ring
Also want to give a big thanks to ConservativeMonster for the recommendation of King of Tokyo. Only got to play a few games with my nephews and cousins but this game warmed my jaded boardgaming heart. Of course now, I need to buy the expansions to the game and my nephews really seemed to want their own copy.
That's it, I'm out, Catch me on Twitter
Close it up
Food Thread: A Mojito You Absolutely, Positively Do Not Want To Drink [CBD]
We Politely Request That All Off-Topic or Political Comments Be Directed to the Thread Directly Below This One, Which Will Serve Officially as the Current "Active Conversation" Thread for All Discussions Not Related To This Topic.
-- Sincerely, the Fascist MGMT
In fact, on further reflection I suggest that you do not even click on the video link, and only the most sanguine amongst you should even click on The critical blog post about it.
Seriously...don't click on it.
This has nothing to do with cooking. This has nothing to do with drinking, which is a noble and honorable pursuit.
This has everything to do with the nest of snakes that writhes within the mind of this man and others like him.
He has managed to take a punch-line and make it a part of his own, deeply disturbed psyche!
And for a palate cleanser.....
Close it up
Open Thread (reserved for politics) [CBD]
And whatever other topics the fetid swamps of your minds can imagine.
It's Not The End: A Fresh Open Thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
Just trying to keep it from getting stale around here.
Remember that 'Jesus Save Me' ad from Mark Pryor? No? Well, here it is again.
Well, I think I've seen it before.
Sunday Football Thread
—Dave In Texas
At least the Cowgirls won't lose today.
As far as yesterday goes. Too bad OSU. And too bad OSU.
You coulda been somebody. You coulda been a contender. Contenders. Somethin. Hey, you both scored 24 points. There's a coincidence. Somethin.
Sunday Morning Book Thread 12-08-2013: The Son of Narcissus [OregonMuse]
Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to the award-winning AoSHQ's prestigious Sunday Morning Book Thread.
On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, "The voice of a god, and not of a man!" Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.
Politics As Story
If you haven't yet read the landlord's article from a couple of days ago, The MacGuffinization of American Politics, kindly do so at once. If you're like me, you will have two reactions. The first will be "wow, that's brilliant" and the second will be "wow, that's depressing".
This is actually not a brilliant new insight from ace, but rather further development of an idea he has discussed a number of times in the past: beneath the obvious bias of media coverage of Obama (and liberals in general), there is a subtler bias at work, namely, that the news coverage is written and produced in such a way that Obama, or the liberal politician, or whatever aspect of the progressive agenda they're covering, is always presented as the side they want you to root for, the side you're supposed to want to win.
And thus politics becomes narrative.
On the one hand, this is an insightful observation. On the other, it really should be obvious: we're just doing what human beings always do, namely, tell stories to each other. We always overlay a narrative on top of events in order to better understand them. This struck me as I was watching the intro to the Auburn v. Missouri football game yesterday. The narrator was explaining how the two teams got here, what they had to do to play in a championship game, and it just sounded like they were setting up backstories for each team, and, unlike how the MSM promotes one and only one political narrative, in this contest, you could choose the narrative you liked best and that was the team you root for. It certainly wouldn't do for CBS to, say, talk up Auburn and trash Missouri. Why would they want to, they're not AuburnTV. They'd lose tons of viewers. If you suggested they do this, they'd think you were nuts, and they'd be right.
But they do this with politics ALL THE DAMN TIME. And it never occurs to them how outrageous this is.
And doesn't the WWE do this sort of thing, too, adding backstories? At any given wrestling match, isn't there always something else going on, some personal conflict or dispute between the performers that is calculated to make the actual outcome more significant than it would be otherwise?
I've touched on this topic in a previous book thread:
I don't think there's ever been a civilization that didn't have storytelling in one form or another. It seems that human beings are just wired that way and stories exert a powerful effect on the human psyche. There's something very compelling to us about hearing a good story.
And what's interesting is that the story doesn't have to be true in order for us to feel the effects of its power.
We just love to tell stories. It's why we write books.
The Reagan biography President Reagan: The Role Of A Lifetime by Lou Cannon is along these lines, positing Reagan as lead character in a story, a movie in this case. I remember rolling my eyes when this bio came out, but in the MacGuffin thread, moronette rockmom says it's actually a pretty good book.
Although I think I'd prefer just reading his diaries and letting the man speak for himself
The Most Admired Man
From one of Gabe's morning news threads, I picked up The 12 Greatest Fantasy Books Of The Year, according to Buzzfeed. I have read precisely 0 of them. But a couple look interesting enough that I may check them out: The Tattered Banner, by Duncan M. Hamilton and The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker.
I've always been a fan of those education-disguised-as-entertainment videos you can watch on Youtube. I stumbled upon this one a couple of days ago, a popular lecture by Walter Lewin, an MIT physics prof (and a bit of a showman), who, among other things, demonstrates that the period of a pendulum is the same regardless of its amplitude. Don't worry if you don't understand any of that, I didn't, either when the prof first brought it up, but it all gets explained. Mrs. Muse, who knows nothing about physics, watched it with me and she enjoyed it very much.
The Youtube lecture is about an hour long. Also, Prof. Lewin has written a book, For the Love of Physics: From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge Of Time - A Journey Through the Wonders of Physics, where he (presumably) covers a lot of the same material seen in this lecture.
I am reminded of the actress Danica McKellar, who also happens to be a prodigious math talent, and incidentally, a lot prettier than Prof. Lewin. She has devoted herself to making the mathematics that she loves accessible to young girls, and towards that end, she's written a number of books, such as Kiss My Math and Math Doesn't Suck.
Yeah, maybe that's not quite the same thing, but I would like to see a lot more of this, meaning, people who know what they're talking about who can explain the complex concepts of their field in such a way that us non-specialists can understand.
True knowledge is a good thing. The more of it that's spread around, the better.
Name This Book
OK, so I have a book bleg. The book is a memoir of an Eastern European (maybe Russian?) immigrant in New York City in the late 19th or early 20th century. One of the story from it I remember is that a group of his friends are picking flowers in a public park (which is an infraction) and one of them see the beat cop approaching, hands the guy his load of picked flowers on the pretense that he has to tie his shoe, and runs away, leaving him holding the bag. So he gets written up for a ticket and all of his friends advise him to just pay it and forget it. Better than to lose a day's pay. Well, he doesn't want to say he did something wrong when he didn't, so he goes to court to plead his case, and the resulting courtroom scene is pretty funny. I think most of the stories in the collection are light, humorous, and touching.
And naturally, I have forgotten the title. Anybody recognize this one?
Regular Expression Bleg
The Movable Type Personal Publishing System, which I use to write these posts, allows me to search for text in previous posts. I can search for 'foo' or 'bar' or 'foobar' or whatever. I can do regular expression searches. I can enter 'foo|bar' which will return articles containing the text string 'foo' or the text string 'bar'. Which is great, but I want to do an 'and' search. That is, I want to search for articles containing the text string 'foo' and the text string 'bar' and it doesn't matter what order they're in. How do I do it?
I don't grasp the inner logic of regular expressions well enough to understand why there isn't a simple 'and' symbol, such as '&' or '&&'.
So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.
What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as I keep saying, life is too short to be reading lousy books.
Close it up
Sun. Morning Open Before The Book Thread Thread [OregonMuse]
Here's some silly nonsense for your Sunday morning:
I love it when Picard tells Wesley to shut up.
Imaginary Gun Thread
In honor of South Eastern Middle School in Fawn Grove, PA, today's gun thread is imaginary but apparently still just as deadly.
A fifth grader in [Pennsylvania] has been suspended for shooting an imaginary arrow at a classmate. The 10-year-old also faces possible expulsion.
The Rutherford Institute, which is defending Johnny Jones, says he was told he violated the school’s zero tolerance policy on weapons. They’re working to get the suspension reversed and lifted from his permanent record.
On Friday night’s The Kelly File, defense attorney Jonna Spilbor reacted to the ordeal. “Here’s how ridiculous it is. If we’re going to punish this poor kid for pretending to shoot a bow and arrow, let’s ticket his parents for parking their unicorn in a fire zone.”
OTOH, this could spawn a whole new branch of the "Little Johnny" joke genre, so there's that.
Overnight Open Thread (12-7-2013) – Dead Man's Switch Edition
But welcome to your temporary back-up stunt Cat
Saturday night ONT anyway.
And don't you have something else better to be doing than hanging out here?
No? Okay then come on in.
It's probably no coincidence that the supremacy of the magic-feather syndrome in children's movies overlaps with the so-called "cult of self-esteem." The restless protagonists of these films never have to wake up to the reality that crop-dusters simply can't fly faster than sleek racing aircraft. Instead, it's the naysaying authority figures who need to be enlightened about the importance of never giving up on your dreams, no matter how irrational, improbable, or disruptive to the larger community. As Jean Twenge, the controversial cultural critic of America's supposed narcissism epidemic, argues in her bestselling book Generation Me, younger generations "simply take it for granted that we should all feel good about ourselves, we are all special, and we all deserve to follow our dreams."
...In addition to disparaging routine labor, these films discount the hard work that enables individuals to reach the top of their professions. Turbo and Dusty don't need to hone their craft for years in minor-league circuits like their racing peers presumably did. It's enough for them simply to show up with no experience at the world's most competitive races, dig deep within themselves, and out-believe their opponents. They are, in many ways, the perfect role models for a generation weaned on instant gratification....Contemporary animated films would never emulate the tough life lessons of A Boy Named Charlie Brown, but they'd do well to reintroduce the twin notions of failure and humility. In a movie like Planes, it should be good enough for a modest crop-duster just to qualify for the Wings Around the Globe race.
A very entertaining account of how it came to be. A lot of WKRP was based on WQXI in Atlanta.
There's a cave in France where no humans have been in 26,000 years. The walls are full of fantastic, perfectly-preserved paintings of animals, ending in a chamber full of monsters 1312-feet underground, where CO2 and radon gas concentrations provoke hallucinations.
It's called the the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave, a really weird and mysterious place. The walls contain hundreds of animals-like the typical Paleolithic horses and bisons-but some of them are not supposed to be there, like lions, panthers, rhinos and hyenas.
A few are not even supposed to exist, like weird butterflyish animals or chimerical figures half bison half woman. These may be linked to the hallucinations. The trip is such that some archeologists think that it had a ritual nature, with people transcending into a new state as they descended into the final room.In fact, the paintings themselves are of such sophistication-some even have three-dimensional relief-that is hard to believe they were made back then. However, radiocarbon dating shows that these paintings are indeed prehistoric: A group was made around 27,000-26,000 years ago and the other at 32,000-30,000 years ago.
The Yahoo AoSHQ group. Bla bla bla.
Tonight's post brought to you by looking for a few good men:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.
Close it up
Would you slash your wrists, or start installing?
Totten's next dispatch -- Havana
This got stomped when I last floated it, so lets try again.
This is but a taste of what Totten wrote, not even a taste really, more of a wafting aroma. Hit the link and savor the whole dish.
...now it looks like a set on the History Channel’s show Life After People, only it’s still inhabited. Baghdad in the middle of the Iraq war was in better shape physically. I know because I spent months there and wrote a book about it.Having transcended the evils of capitalism and with all the worldly needs of the citizen provided for, the Cuban govt has no need for such tomfoolery as "minimum wage"; instead the notion of "maximum wage" seems to have taken root.
Roofs have collapsed. Balcony doors hang not vertically but at angles, allowing passersby to see inside homes where the interior paint is just as peeled as it is on the outside. I could even see inside some people’s homes through gashes in exterior walls. The weight of rain water knocks whole buildings down as if they were dynamited...
...Trust me: you would not want to live there, especially not on a ration card and the government’s twenty dollar maximum salary. Not that additional money would do you much good. Where would you spend it? Not even in the slums of Mexico have I seen such pitiful shops...
Coming soon to an (ex)Superpower near you.
[UPDATE] Totten has written about a large component of the restraints in Cuba being mental - the prison is essentially in people's minds now.
...Australian Mark Freeman has visited the DPRK four times and is preparing an academic paper on the North Korean propaganda. He doubts the fences in the northeast are live and believes that they are the relics of a more effective and extensive system.
“In North Korea, the electric fence, the barbed wire, is in people’s minds. They have been very effective in making the outside world appear very, very dangerous and unpredictable,” says Freeman.
Saturday Car Thread 12/7/13 - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
A couple of young men died this week while racing down a city street in Santa Clarita, CA. Many people died that day, folks from all over the country, but we know of these particular deaths because one of the dead was a Hollywood star. The fact that he was famous and drawing so much press coverage sent many on Twitter into a faux rage about all the attention he received due to his fame. And, I agree that his death is not more tragic simply because he was famous. However, I would also argue that his death was not less tragic either. A young man died and left behind a family who loved him. The fact that we know this due to his fame simply means that we can put a name and a face to the death and that fact alone makes it more personal. Nothing more, nothing less.
R.I.P. Paul Walker
Driving is a dangerous undertaking which is only made more dangerous when speed and/or alcohol are introduced into the environment. There's a reason why racing is conducted in a controlled environment. That's not to say that we haven't all done it. We have, and are blessed to have survived our foolishness. And, that's not to say that all speed is bad. In fact, you're better off not being the slowest guy on the road when every one else is doing 75 mph, but racing down a public street is not the ideal for either the driver, the passenger, or those in close proximity. Toss in some distracted drivers, a few selfish assholes, and a foreigner or two trying to adapt to driving on the right side of the road and, well, it's one big crash-stew on simmer.
Originally, when composing this post, I captured images of famous accident scenes but, in the end, it was all too ghoulish to post. However, it served as a reminder that no person is immune in a car crash: Not the young and beautiful. Not the very wealthy or famous. Not the elite. Not the politician. (See Princesses Grace and Diana, Dodi Fayed, James Dean, Sam Kinison, Harry Chapin, Jayne Mansfield, and Mary Jo Kopechne to start). Hell, even in a controlled environment and with the very best-in-class behind the wheel...
With all the latest advancements in safety in use...
With the latest in automotive design applied...
Even when the accident looks completely survivable...
Speed can kill.
In happier news: The 6th generation Ford Mustang was unveiled this week and, thus far, the press is positive. I've gotta hand it to Ford because those glamour shots on their website are stunning. Looking at it from the side, from the rear tire forward, it has a very refined look to it.
While we're at it, can someone tell me, please, just what the heck they were thinking with Gen-3?
Click here for a more detailed timeline of the evolution of the Mustang.
From the twitter world, where I am now honored to be followed by one Ms. Ruth Buzzi, I have learned that her Rolls Royce is up for sale. Just last week she sold her 1967 Jaguar. It's funny. I would never have thought of Ms. Buzzi as a Rolls Royce kind of gal.
Remember, speed kills. Take your time. Smell the roses.
Feel free to drop suggestions, complaints, and commendations to me at teh Twitter.
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Another Hollywood Disappointment [OregonMuse]
OK, so I watched this trailer here:
...and I thought, hey, this looks pretty good. Maybe we're actually going to get a big-budget Biblical spectacle that doesn't suck.
Also, the way this trailer is structured, it looks like the movie is going to be a more or less straightforward retelling of the familiar Bible story.
But then I read this, and my hopes were dashed.
And for a more complete analysis, written by a Christian screenwriter who somehow managed to get hold of the script, read this.
It's is a long article, but you can just glance through it to get the gist. And if this is the script that Aronofsky actually used when he was filming, then the trailer is completely deceptive.
I don't often pay to see a first-run movie in the theater. I think 'The Hobbit' was the last one I actually went out to see. Movies these days just aren't worth the time or expense. 'Noah' might have been an exception. I might have gotten my fat butt up out of the Barcalounger and plunked down my $8 (or whatever tickets go for these days) at the theater because it looked like it could have been worth it.
But not now.
So the movie industry will have to find a way to scrape by without my $8. I am encouraged that the verdict of the test audiences who were shown this movie was that it blew chunks. So the suits at Paramount now have a $150 million stinker on their hands, and they need to decide what they're going to do with it. I don't think there's any way they're going to be able to polish up this turd enough to attract the audience numbers they would like to see, but who knows, look who got elected President.
Close it up
Obama administration drags feet on authorizing LNG/coal exports
Mentioned in the the Pearl Harbor thread comments is how Japanese aggression was driven by natural resource constraints.
This Idealabs piece shows how its starting to happen again with US procedural foot dragging in getting LNG and coal exports to Asia permitted in a prompt manner as is required by WTO rules. Rules the US was a strong proponent of.
U.S. government delays in approving pending natural gas and coal export proposals “are likely to violate” global trade rules, according to a report released this week by the National Association of Manufacturers.
The NAM commissioned former Democratic Congressman and World Trade Organization (WTO) judge James Bacchus to write the report, which urges the federal government to speed up the export approval process and lift regulatory barriers...
...“The United States has always been a strong advocate of these rules and has been forceful in challenging export restrictions imposed by other countries,” Bacchus writes, warning that if the export delays aren’t addressed “the tables may be turned on the United States directly in the WTO, but also through other countries walking away from core principles that have long been critical to U.S. success in the global economy.” - ...The National Association of Manufacturers report that get deeper into the legal aspects of what the Obama administration is doing is worth reading if you have a wonkish inclination.
Net, net, net? It seems Obama is doing everything possible to impede US energy export competitiveness, and that could have some pretty unpleasant ramifications down the road aside from the more obvious immediate jobs and trade balance issues.
I'm sure some clever coal engineering nerds will eventually figure out some way around this Obama foot dragging so they can still export product and not call it a "coal export". They could maybe do some semantic trickery like fine grind it and mix it up with up a thick bunker-C grade oil and call it an "oil export" of some sort and send it out of existing oil terminals. People can be pretty clever about working around government regulatory roadblocks when they have to. They shouldn't have to resort to that kind of trickery though.
With China having ~70% of its power supplied by coal, they're going to be getting it somewhere. There's very significant domestic Chinese production, but they still need some imports too. If that isn't the US, then its going to be someone else. If its anyone else, then US influence on Chinese policy/behavior is diminished.
With the US coal industry running at idle speed and domestic uses being crippled more and more by the Obama administration regulation every day, being able to export expeditiously is a big deal. Jobs depend on it.
Bedlam! In! Stillwater! (And Football Open Thread)
America's best-named college rivalry is back! My beloved No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys face the line-jumpers from Norman, the No. 17 Oklahoma Sooners, with a championship title on the line. It's cold and snowy in Stillwater, but they've finally shoveled out Boone Pickens Stadium.
The Story of Bedlam:
In the Year of our Lord 1900, Oklahoma A&M (as Oklahoma State was then called) veterinary medicine professor Dr. L.L. Lewis brought together a group of students to participate in the first Oklahoma Territory Track and Field Meet. I say Oklahoma "Territory" because, you will recall, Oklahoma wasn't yet a state when this rivalry began.
Held on May 4, 1900, the event included several smaller Oklahoma schools -- Alva Normal College, Central Normal of Edmond, Kingfisher College -- and, of course, Oklahoma University. The prize of the tournament was a silver cup donated by a local jeweler named Douglas. A&M won the meet and returned to Stillwater with the traveling trophy.
In 1901, A&M won again, and a third consecutive win would mean permanent retirement of the Douglas Cup in Stillwater.
The third meet was held on May 23, 1902, with the Aggies winning the most points. Oklahoma, sore at their drubbing, filed a protest based on the pole vault competition not having been completed due to darkness. Nevertheless, A&M claimed the Douglas Cup and returned victorious to Stillwater.
The next day the Sooners held their own pole vault competition and declared themselves the victors of the tournament. Several weeks later, the Douglas Cup was stolen from its place of honor in a glass case at the A&M chemistry lab. Suspecting that Sooners had taken the Cup, a group of A&M students made a daring raid to Norman where they retrieved the Cup and buried it under Old Central for safekeeping.
Ten years later, when excavation was being done for a new classroom building, the trophy was found. Today the Douglas Cup resides safely in OSU's Heritage Hall.
Bedlam starts at noon EST on ABC.
Also, this is the elbow thread today.
Note: there is a political thread posted directly below this one. Let's keep this one on topic.
Close it up
Politics Open Thread
So as not to disturb the football watchers up above.
Oh, BTW, Iceland had a quiet revolution and replaced its whole government; an event the US media largely ignored initially and continues to ignore. Dream big, maybe it can happen here.[Purp]
Dec 7, 1941
—Dave In Texas
Seventy two years ago today.
16 million Americans served during WWII, ten times the number of those in uniform today.
And here is a comprehensive overview and a good collection of photographs from the battle.
Saturday Morning Open Thread
Another week in Obamerica goes down the tubes ...
Air Force Band Flash Mob Moment at the Smithsonian - Simply Beautiful [dri]
The US Air Force band created a special moment at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC this week. Enjoy and please return to the Overnight Open Thread discussion in the previous post. H/TWeaselzippers
DGAF ONT - 12/6/13 [krakatoa]
So here we are. Friday. Ill met in Lankhmar, we have returned from our weekly grind at the Hobo-hunt to find all our fucks have been taken from us, and so, we simply have no more to give.
Having found myself at the very summit, please allow me, Sensei krak/t, in my Obammic benefecience to enlighten you all in the way of Lettin' it Burn.
I'll begin with a video parable, wherein Obama is Kiai Master Rykerin, and his students being tossed around like so many straw-men are the media and his fawning public.
Master Obama is the master of magic. Magic words. Magic executive pen. Magic unicorns spraying the benighted hinterlands with magical skittle sputum falling like mana from their bedazzled (and, dare I say, magical) hind-mouths.
And Master Obama can do no wrong. He is invincible. He is the closest thing to a deity that has walked this earth in at least 2000 years.
He is, as Ace mentioned during his long-overdue review of Raiders of the Lost Ark earlier today, the Leading Man in firm possession of the only MacGuffin worth holding in politics today.
Then October 1 happened.
I know. Too pat. Too easy you say.
"What if", you say:
"Is this really Obama as Master Rykerin, his assertions vs reality?
Or is the figure of Master Rykerin actually America finding itself in the fetal position on the mat in a puddle of blood and teeth after its exercise in being super duper post-racial?"
Well, maybe we're all just over-reaching here, and it's just a dumb guy with an overblown sense of accomplishment and skill bringing his patented air-slap to a fist-fight.
Moment of zen: I have a shadenboner that has lasted far longer the 4 hours, and could make a good living carving diamonds if it weren't spending all its free time auditioning for the lead in "Life, Love, Pumas -- Dick Cheney Bares All". But I'm here to chew bubblegum, crack wise, and give fucks.
The jokes really do write themselves from here on this segment, so have at it in the comments.
My next lesson involves snakes, because, Raiders.
What we have with Obamacare, and all its attendant subsidies, kickbacks, payoffs, and cronyism, is a cobra infestation.
Due to fair-use laws and copyrights and things a lawyer would give a few fkucs about, I can only really quote a small portion. Do read it all.
Please tell us that wasn't in your pants. It was in your pants, wasn't it?
The answer to the whole mess, according to this Roanoke, Va. man who happens to be a completely non-introspective Real-Estate broker in a fairy upscale region, is the Golden Rule as distilled by Marx.
Which seems to segue nicely to this Christmas list...
"A little thing with that can turn into anything at any time."As you can see, my kid bumped this item up the list. Owning an imaginary object that can grant her God-like powers is now THIRD on her list, right behind the bead kit. Priorities.
And this math problem, courtesy of common-core:
"But Master krak/t", you say, "This simply can't end well..."
Except, well, you know the drill:
DGAF ONT brought to you by my pup Ziva, Terror of crunchy leaves beneath a full moon.
Disclaimer: Not giving a fuck may only last until Monday. Or the next news cycle. Whichever comes first. Neither Master krak/t, nor AoSHQ LLC are liable for premature fucks being given.
Close it up
Seven out of Ten Doctors Are Boycotting Obamacare in California, and Aren't Participating in the System
An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state's Obamacare health insurance exchange and won't participate, the head of the state's largest medical association said.
California offers one of the lowest government reimbursement rates in the country -- 30 percent lower than federal Medicare payments. And reimbursement rates for some procedures are even lower.
Details of the reimbursement rates omitted; check the article. Spoiler: They're quite low.
In order to hide from the public the large number of doctors refusing to participate in the system, Covered California is resorting to, get this, lying.
Only in September did insurance companies disclose that their rates would be pegged to California’s Medicaid plan, called Medi-Cal. That's driven many doctors to just say no.
They're also pointing out that Covered California's website lists many doctors as participants when they aren't.
“Some physicians have been put in the network and they were included basically without their permission,” Lisa Folberg said. She is a CMA’s vice president of medical and regulatory Policy.
ontra Costa Medical Association.
“This is a dirty little secret that is not really talked about as they promote Covered California,” Waters said. He called the exchange's doctors list a “shell game” because “the vast majority” of his doctors are not participating.
Independent insurance brokers who work with both insurance companies and doctor networks estimate that about 70 percent of California's 104,000 licensed doctors are boycotting the exchange.
Covered California, on the other hand, claims 85% of doctors are participating. Someone is obviously extremely wrong here -- or extremely dishonest.
As I Was Saying Earlier...
It's the Hero that the rapt fan is interested in, not the MacGuffin.
The left is just interested in the character, the Hero.
Take it away, New York Times:
WHITE HOUSE MEMO
In Obama’s Book List, Glimpses of His Journey
President Obama, with his daughter Malia, buying books last weekend at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington.
By PETER BAKER
WASHINGTON — President Obama has never visited the rugged mountains of Chechnya, but if he digs into one of the novels he bought last weekend, “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena,” he will be transported to a land of unremitting violence and tragedy, where the innocent are caught up in war as often as the guilty.
Perhaps Mr. Obama is seeking a deeper understanding of the roots of the ethnic bloodletting after Chechnya vaulted back to the front pages this year with the Boston Marathon bombings. Or perhaps he is thinking about his troubled relationship with Russia.
Either way, the novel would give the president a more visceral feel for one of the world’s most brutal conflicts than the graphic intelligence papers that cross his desk.
“I imagine someone in his position gets a lot of facts and figures,” Anthony Marra, the author of the book, mused the other day. “But the novel is really about the experience, about the psyche and the soul.”
A reading list offers a rare window into the presidential mind, a peek at what a commander in chief may be thinking about beyond theprosaic and repetitive briefings that dominate his days.
Yes who cares about those repetitive boring briefings. I mean, there's nothing interesting going on, certainly, apart from the intense drama of his signature policy initiative going up in flames.
The writer claims the reading list is a "rare glimpse" into the president's mind. Just as Howard Fineman said last night that Obama's talking about his own Journey was a "rare" glimpse into a president's mind.
Obama seems to talk about this a lot, and the media seems to write about it with great intensity and interest.
I'm not sure if we can call a several-times-per-week occurrence rare.
In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the concern for Obama's actual record that's rare. The intense interest in Obama the Personality is the common thing.
The right has repeatedly belittled Obama as a "Celebrity." And indeed that is what he is. His fans are primarily interested in Barack the Man, Barack the Personality.
And not so much as Barack Obama, the executor of federal law.
Many of the nearly two dozen volumes Mr. Obama picked up at Washington’s Politics and Prose bookstore will be gifts, and certainly children’s tales like “Harold and the Purple Crayon” offer few lessons for dealing with Tea Party congressmen.
But even if they are given away, some of the books reflect what Mr. Obama has already read or would like to read. They are volumes about identity and reinvention, about what it means to be American, and about family, love, betrayal and redemption.
Yup-- movie themes. Book themes. Story themes.
Unlike many of his predecessors, who devoured American history and biographies, Mr. Obama’s tastes lean toward the literary, in keeping with a man whose first memoir deeply explored issues of race and self.
The media's almost as interested in this Funny Little Muddle called Barack Obama as Barack Obama himself.
And here's the straight-up admission of a big Obama fan that she identifies with Obama, as fans identify with a movie's main character.
“I think President Obama has really searched his soul in the way that writers do,” Ms. Strayed said. “I certainly, like many people, identify with Obama’s journey."
The New York Times, like Chris Matthews, is not interested in policy. It is solely interested in the travails and triumphs of their Hero, Barack Obama.
Elizabeth Warren, Socialist Hero, Threatens Her Critics
Elizabeth Warren sits on the Senate banking committee. This supplies her with the power to harass and harm banks.
A group called Third Way published a paper critical of Warren's views on banking.
Elizabeth Warren responded by demanding that banks -- which she has legislative and investigatory power over -- divulge any donations they may have made to Third Way.
Which is not about answering criticism -- it's about silencing it, scaring it off.
Timothy P. Carney notes the thuggery of Warren.
Warren sits on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. She's basically telling the entities whose livelihood her committee controls to stop criticizing her. This is bullying — and it's the best argument for allowing companies and individuals to anonymously criticize politicians.
Government big enough to menace and harass its critics is bad enough.
But what makes it worse is that government is increasingly controlled by people convinced with absolute metaphysical certainty of their own intellect and righteousness -- which means that any criticism or opposition is, definitionally, contrary to the public good, and that, in turn, justifies any and all means used to squelch such malevolence.
You know what the criticism leveled at Warren was, by the way? Worries by more moderate leaning Democrats that Warren and the crusading socialists might be leading the Party into dire straits.
So of course you'd implicitly threaten people for arguing this. How dare they.
In a sign of the left’s new aggressiveness, a coalition of liberals is trying to marginalize a centrist Democratic policy group that was responsible for a Wall Street Journal op-ed article this week that said economic populism was “disastrous” for the party.
The coalition, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and three other liberal advocacy organizations have urged their members to contact a group of congressional Democrats who are honorary leaders of the centrist group, Third Way. It published the op-ed article on Monday contending that the liberalism of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio of New York City and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would lead Democrats “over the populist cliff.”
The article — written by Jon Cowan, president of Third Way, and Jim Kessler, its senior vice president for policy — criticizes progressives like Ms. Warren and Mr. de Blasio for opposing measures to cut costs to Social Security and Medicare.
The liberal groups’ campaign has already gotten results, the latest indication that the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is ascendant.
While this story is noted in the media (as in this NYT article), I don't hear quite the frothy, drooley mad barking over a "coming Democratic crack-up" that I heard when the media thought the Republican Party might fracture.
Thanks to DrewM for that.
The MacGuffinization of American Politics
In a movie or book, "The MacGuffin" is the thing the hero wants.
Usually the villain wants it too, and their conflict over who will end up with The MacGuffin forms the basic spine of the story.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the MacGuffin is, of course, the Lost Ark. Indy wants it; the Nazis have it. This basic conflict over simple possession animates a two hour long movie.
Alfred Hitchcock noted -- counterintuitively, when you first hear this -- that the specifics of the MacGuffin don't really matter at all to a movie. He pointed out that the audience doesn't care at all about the MacGuffin. The hero in the movie itself cares, but the audience doesn't.
In one Hitchcock film, the MacGuffin was some smuggled uranium hidden in vintage wine bottles. But Hitchcock noted it didn't matter if it was uranium in wine bottles, or a fragment of a diplomatic dispatch from the Nazi high command, or a hidden murder weapon, or photographs proving a Senator's affair.
The Lost Ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark could have easily been replaced with some missing Shankara Stones from a Thuggee temple, or the Holy Grail. In fact, that's exactly what they changed the MacGuffin to in the sequels.
No audience member really cared if the Nazis wound up with the Ark of the Covenant. For one thing, the audience walked into the theater knowing, as a matter of real-world historical fact, that Adolf Hitler had not ever possessed a holy artifact of unspeakable power, and that, even if had possessed such a thing secretly, it availed him not at all, because he shot himself through the temple in a bunker as the Allied forces closed in around him in 1945.
But we cared about Indy. He was a character we liked, a character that sparked our imaginations; whether he was looting a South American burial mound (illegally, by the way!) or blowing off his students by sneaking out a back window during office hours (poor work ethic, incidentally), we rooted for him to win.
A MacGuffin only has one requirement: That it be important-sounding, so that the audience understands he hero isn't engaged in some trivial matter, but that the Stakes Are High. (Woody Allen inverted this rule in his parody espionage film What's Up Tiger Lily?, where the MacGuffin was a top-secret recipe for chicken salad.)
But an important sounding MacGuffin is just another way to increase the audience's emotional attachment to the Hero, not to the idea of possessing the MacGuffin.
And that, of course, explains all you need to know about the abnormal political situation we find ourselves in, and the Cult of Barack Obama.
For Obama's fanbois, this is not politics. This isn't even America, not really, not anymore.
This is a movie. And Barack Obama is the Hero. And the Republicans are the Villains. And policy questions -- and Obama's myriad failures as an executive -- are simply incidental. They are MacGuffins only, of no importance whatsoever, except to the extent they provide opportunities for Drama as the Hero fights in favor of them.
Watching Chris Matthews interview Obama, I was struck by just how uninterested in policy questions Matthews (and his panel) were, and how almost every question seemed to be, at heart, about Obama's emotional response to difficulties-- not about policy itself, but about Obama's Hero's Journey in navigating the plot of President Barack Obama: The Movie.
As with a MacGuffin in the movie, only the Hero's emotional response to the MacGuffin matters.
Again and again, Matthews and his panel focused not on weighty questions of state, but on what toll these important-sounding MacGuffins took upon the Star of the Picture, Barack Obama.
Matthews was not terribly interested in hearing about the problems with Obamacare, or how Obama planned to address them.
But he was very interested in learning how Obama was coping with the challenges.
Matthews didn't care all that much about disputes over the budget. But he was keenly interested in Obama's thoughts on his opponents in such struggles.
Chris Matthews' called Obama's last answer the most important in the interview, and his entire panel agreed it was simply amazing.
That last question was about Obama's -- the Hero's -- travails.
Wrapping up the interview, Matthews ended the night with a question about whether going into politics is really worth it, especially considering that the great majority of students in the audience expressed interest in some day joining the congressional ranks.
"It continues to be a way to serve that I think can be noble. It's hard. It can be frustrating. You have got to have a thick skin," Obama said. "But I tell you, the satisfaction you get when you've passed a law or you've taken an executive action and somebody comes up to you and says you know what, my kid's alive because you passed that health care bill. Because he was uninsured, he got insurance, got a check up and we caught a tumor in time [...] So for those young people who don't mind a little gray hair, it's something that I not only recommend, but I'd welcome."
Matthews' panel gushed over Obama's answer here. And why shouldn't they? Usually the Hero offers a self-reflective but somewhat grim speech as he sits in the belly of the beast, at his lowest point in his journey. It's this speech that lets the audience know the Hero may be down, but he's not yet out.
And the audience for President Barack Obama: The Movie just loved it:
HOWARD FINEMAN: i would like to say that you and the students here from AU got a once in a lifetime opportunity to see in person a president talking about what it’s like to be president, while he’s actually president. Now, he’s gone from Superman to Sisyphus. He’s talking about rolling a boulder up the hill. He has a much more mature view, but he has a moral view. I thought he made the moral case for Obamacare, for you folks to consider Obamacare as a measure of community in America. That’s what motivates Barack Obama. He knows it’s tough –
CHRIS MATTHEWS: And he lifted up. He lifted up when he talked about –
FINEMAN: The last 15 minutes of this interview were extraordinary. I’ve never seen anything like it, where a president kind of unburdened himself to you about why he’s in the ball game. And I thought he made a very compelling case for his own decency, whatever the screw-ups were managerially, and they were real.
Note what they're not talking about: America. Policy. The economy. Obamacare. Actual live political controversies and possible programmatic responses to the difficulties we face (many of which Obama has caused himself, or made worse).
No, American politics is now merely a MacGuffin, an important-sounding but ultimately inconsequential and disposable plot device for holding interest in the Hero's Journey.
Ultimately the only thing that matters is the Hero itself. It doesn't matter why the Hero Barack Obama wants the Lost Ark of Sensible Gun Control, or the Shankara Stones of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, or the Democratic Holy Grail of Affordable Health Care. These are very minor details and only matter to the extent the Hero exerts himself to achieve them.
The viewers of this film don't really care about these things, but only Obama's frustration at being denied them, or his joy in attaining them.
"This is a big f***ing deal," his incompetent Comic Sidekick said as he signed Obamacare into law. What the "this" was didn't matter then, as it scarcely matters now.
What counted was that the Hero had won.
Politics is now a MacGuffin in American politics, at least for the frothing fanbois of the Hero Barack Obama.
It doesn't matter what his goals actually are -- it only matters that he succeeds in those quests, whatever they might be.
And this isn't a new phenomenon, either. Since the beginning of this movie, the fanbois have cared very little for MacGuffins (notice they don't care how many thousands of Americans have died in Afghanistan), but have been intensely interested in the Hero's emotional response to it all.
You root for the Hero to win because you like the Hero -- not because you're particularly invested in the Hero's actual goals. And you despise the Villains simply because they're standing in the way of the Hero's triumph.
Chris Matthews sums up, neatly, his only genuine interest in American politics for the past five years:
“We have real people in this country with real power and status who have used that status of power to hurt the country so they could hurt the president.”
Only the Hero matters. The MacGuffin never does.
The Hero is our hopes and dreams. And the Hero has come to us; he has come amongst us.
Close it up
Chris Matthews: The Passing of Nelson Mandela Reminds Us That South Africa's Apartheid Government Leaders Were More Reasonable and Empathetic Than the Republican Party
Matthews hailed Al Sharpton as having uttered the smartest thing he'd heard in five years.
Still throbbingly erect from his interview with Barack Obama (which I'm writing about, but it's a longer post), Chris Matthews was still in something of a Sex High when he spoke to MSNBC Democratic Partisan Alex Wagner.
Matthews acknowledged a point that Rev. Al Sharpton had made earlier in this broadcast where he noted that the last apartheid president, F.W. de Klerk, recognized after Mandela’s release from prison that he would be ascendant and brought him into his government to facilitate that transition.
“I haven’t heard anything as smart as what I heard Reverend Sharpton say a moment go in five years,” Matthews said. “The difference between the way F.W. de Klerk handled the need for change and the election – democratic election of Nelson Mandela – legitimate election, he was never truly elected – for him to recognize his role in history which was to be a patriot at that point is so different than the way [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell handled the election of Obama.”
“They were willing, the McConnell people onto the far right, were willing to destroy the country in order to destroy Obama,” Matthews insisted. “Whereas, to succeed in a country he loved, F.W. de Klerk was willing to see it transformed to black rule so it could be done successfully so he could have his country have a better future.”
“The loss of Mandela and what his history is about and the key statement of why this has been so poisonous the last five years,” he concluded. “We have real people in this country with real power and status who have used that status of power to hurt the country so they could hurt the president.”
“That’s the most damming assessment I’ve heard and, I think, the truest,” Matthews lamented.
Sure why not.
Number of Times Obama Met With HHS Secretary Sebelius Between the Passage and Rollout of Obamacare: One
Peter Schweitzer writes at Politico's Magazine:
Amid the Obama administration’s endless rounds of finger-pointing and blame-shifting, scant if any attention has been paid to the amount of time and executive leadership the president personally devoted to implementing his signature legislative achievement.
“Nothing frustrates me more than when people aren’t doing their jobs,” Obama has said. So, with so much riding on the line, one would assume he held weekly, if not daily, one-on-one meetings with his Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to isolate problems, challenge assumptions, apply executive pressure where needed and successfully manage a project of scale.
That did not happen, at least not according to Obama’s own official White House calendar.
A new Government Accountability Institute (GAI) analysis finds that from July 12, 2010, to Nov. 30, 2013, the president’s public schedule records zero one-on-one meetings between Obama and Sebelius.
Obama did meet with Sebelius and Treasury Secretary Geithner once. That was likely about Obamacare.
There was one such meeting.
Perhaps Obama's too extraordinary to oversee large projects:
The president's closest advisers, like Valerie Jarrett, say the problem is Obama “knows exactly how smart he is” and has “been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do. He would never be satisfied with what ordinary people do.” Obama says the trait he deplores most in himself is that “there’s a laziness in me.”
Sorry it's taken so long to get up a post today. I just can't do what ordinary people do.
AoSHQ Podcast: Guest, Sean Davis
Bumped, and Open Thread.
Then Gabe and Drew pull back the curtain on a new segment to give you a glimpse of what every day's coblogger email group looks like as they argue with each other (over immigration. again.) while the rest of the gang tries to slip a word in edgewise. I think someone may have been killed with a trident.
They wrap up the episode with another new segment - Q&A from the Moron Mailbag.
Referenced in this episode:
- No, America Doesn’t Have Too Many Banks
- Taming The Fury Of Rage: How Not To Write, Starring Slate’s Matt Yglesias
- Matthew Yglesias Does Not Understand Basic Accounting
Send Moron Mailbag comments to: andy+asktheblog AT aoshq DOT com.
Open thread in the comments.
Darknet cyber weapon peddlers have 85 exploits for sale on any given day
Cyberweapons sold to the government that are powered by glitches in popular software have opened a can of worms for citizens who increasingly are being attacked by nongovernment actors buying from the same arsenal of 85 exploits per day, according to new research...
...On any given day during the past three years, high-paying customers have had access to at least 60 vulnerabilities targeting Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and Adobe, according to an NSS Labs...
...The weaknesses remain unknown to the public and, therefore, unfixed for an average of 151 days...
...In the underweb, where hackers hawk illegal goods, an exploit for a system running Windows sells for up to $250,000...
Friday Morning News Dump
- Mandela Dies, People Start Saying Stupid Things
- Obamacare: The Exodus
- Chris Matthews On Obama, "He Came Amongst Us"
- Taranto: A Walk On The Wilde Side
- Women And Young People Turning On Obamacare
- The Three Most Important Ongoing Second Amendment Cases
- A Major Reason I Never Donate Money To Colleges I Attended
- No Talk Of Affordable Healthcare In Obamacare PR Push
- Detroit And The Impact On Pension Reform
- CEO Of Colorado's Failed Healthcare Exchange Asks For A Raise And Bonus
- Sandy Hook Benefit Concert Cancelled Due To Low Ticket Sales
- Authorities Warn Of Further Crackdown On Protesters In Ukraine
- Obama, Detroit, And The New Gilded Age
- Lot Of Ice Storms Hitting The US This Week
- Could Obamacare Destroy Volunteer Fire Departments
- It's Not A Cult
- Obama's Shallow Inequality Speech And The Presidency That Might Have Been
- PA Couple Dropped From Health Coverage Still Unable To Sign Up For Obamacare
- Benedict Cumberbatch Does Dramatic Reading Of R.Kelly Lyrics
Follow me on twitter.
Journalist challenges white hat hacker team to get him, they succeed
It’s my first class of the semester at New York University. I’m discussing the evils of plagiarism and falsifying sources with 11 graduate journalism students when, without warning, my computer freezes. I fruitlessly tap on the keyboard as my laptop takes on a life of its own and reboots. Seconds later the screen flashes a message. To receive the four-digit code I need to unlock it I’ll have to dial a number with a 312 area code. Then my iPhone, set on vibrate and sitting idly on the table, beeps madly.The saga of the hacks and the technology and methods they used is detailed in a 3-part series.
I’m being hacked — and only have myself to blame.
Two months earlier I challenged Nicholas Percoco, senior vice president of SpiderLabs...
PART 1 and PART 2 describes some of the custom malware and tricks used. Pishing, software vulnerability exploits, etc. This is the stuff they managed to accomplish without setting up outside Adam's apartment with WiFi hacking hardware.
...Parts one and two will detail the malware and phishing aspects of our hack with contributions from myself, Matt Jakubowski and Daniel Chechik. Next week, our colleague Garret Picchioni will publish more technical details about the onsite and wireless portions of the attack.Eventually they had to get around to hacking Adam's home WiFi network if they wanted full access to all the crown jewels.
My daily job as a security researcher on the Malware Analysis Team in SpiderLabs typically consists of reverse-engineering malware (usually something encountered during a forensics investigation). When I was asked to take part in this project, it seemed a natural fit that I would help out by writing custom malware in order to gain access to Adam’s machine. Rarely do I get the chance to don my metaphorical "black hat" and actually create a malicious file. Doing so often allows me to see the situation from both sides, which in turn allows me to do a better job when it comes to reversing malware. In short, I was pretty excited...
...Once arriving onsite in Adam’s neighborhood and doing a quick Wi-Fi scan we discovered it was going to be a lot more difficult than originally anticipated. As it turns out, there are a lot of people that live in Brooklyn Heights, and as a result a lot of unique wireless networks. Our initial scans of the area revealed that there were over 1,200 wireless networks discoverable from Adam’s block with our wireless equipment. Without obvious wireless network names such as “Adam Penenberg’s House” we had to resort to some conventional and unconventional methods to identify his network...
...After letting the device sit overnight, we had our final list of approximately 20 wireless networks...
....To do so, we sent specially crafted packets to only these devices informing them to disconnect from the wireless network. Once they attempted to reconnect to the network, we were able to capture the WPA handshake. We sent that handshake to SpiderLabs’ password cracking server and proceeded to crack the password to his network in approximately 15 minutes. With the password, we had full access to his wireless network.
Close it up
Top Headline Comments 12-6-13
Ohio focus group made up of folks who voted for Obama last year describes Obama: “overwhelmed,” “powerless,” “inexperienced” and “cautious.”
Gallup: a majority of Americans want Obamacare slimmed down or repealed entirely.
Fantasy novel readers, here's a list of the best fantasy books this year. I had read some, but not all of these. Looking forward to reading the rest.
And, here's my favorite rendition of my second-favorite Christmas song:
Have a great weekend, ya'll.
Close it up
Overnight Open Thread (12-5-2013)
Hoo boy this one just gives me a headache. Lt. Col Robert Bateman published an essay in Esquire in which he calls for complete gun control and ends up showing how unclear he is on the 2A and the Constitution in general.
Now Lt. Col. Bateman qualified as Airborne and a Ranger and is a military historian having written several books and taught at West Point. So he's not a nobody without any cred. Yet like so many others he gets hung up on the initial clause of the Second Amendment ("A well Regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state.") and pretty much runs off the rails after that.
Fundamentally he doesn't accept the Supreme Court's Heller decision at all. His counter-argument: Well he just knows better and they're all wrong. For him the militia = the National Guard and therefore civilians have no right to own firearms.
Oh and if he were king, he has a few modest royal pronouncements in mind:
1. The only guns permitted will be the following:
- a. Smoothbore or Rifled muzzle-loading blackpowder muskets. No 7-11 in history has ever been held up with one of these.
- b. Double-barrel breech-loading shotguns. Hunting with these is valid.
- c. Bolt-action rifles with a magazine capacity no greater than five rounds. Like I said, hunting is valid. But if you cannot bring down a defenseless deer in under five rounds, then you have no fking reason to be holding a killing tool in the first place.
[See King Bateman is indeed a merciful and generous liege allowing people like yourselves to own something that goes bang - M.]
2. We will pry your gun from your cold, dead, fingers. That is because I am willing to wait until you die, hopefully of natural causes. Guns, except for the three approved categories, cannot be inherited. When you die your weapons must be turned into the local police department, which will then destroy them. (Weapons of historical significance will be de-milled, but may be preserved.)
3. Police departments are no longer allowed to sell or auction weapons used in crimes after the cases have been closed. (That will piss off some cops, since they really need this money. But you know what they need more? Less violence and death. By continuing the process of weapon recirculation, they are only making their jobs -- or the jobs of some other cops -- harder.)
4. We will submit a new tax on ammunition. In the first two years it will be 400 percent of the current retail cost of that type of ammunition. (Exemptions for the ammo used by the approved weapons.) Thereafter it will increase by 20 percent per year.
5. We will initiate a nationwide "buy-back" program, effective immediately, with the payouts coming from the DoD budget. This buy-back program will start purchasing weapons at 200 percent of their face value the first year, 150 percent the second year, 100 percent the third year. Thereafter there will be a 10 year pause, at which point the guns can be sold to the government at 10 percent of their value for the next 50 years.6. The major gun manufactures of the United States, less those who create weapons for the federal government and the armed forces, will be bought out by the United States of America, for our own damned good.
[Okay his lordship is a tad weak in the econ area but that doesn't mean he still doesn't know what's best for all of you]
Okaaay - I don't even know what to say at this point. I think this whole essay is clear evidence that a) some people simply don't get the whole concept of a constitutional republic b) when you leave your domain of expertise, there's no limit to the amount of stupid you can achieve, and c) under no circumstances must Robert Bateman ever be allowed even a scrap of political power. And it's also a reminder that there are some good reasons why the US is a civilian-run republic.
Update: Herschel Smith at The Captain's Journal who's familiar with Bateman's previous work says he's just an academic troll:
And thus has Bateman shored up his progressive credentials one more time, and gotten the attention he so desperately wants, all at the same time. In the future, pay no attention to Mr. Bateman. He’s a publicity hound and attention seeker, and uses inflammatory and exaggerated rhetoric to evoke responses. The internet calls this a “troll.” It’s just that he’s a troll with credentials – and he’s an expert on everything. If you don’t believe it, just ask him.
Unintentional funneh I assume since Sullivan has no known sense of humor.
For reasons I won't share, I was poking around Andrew Sullivan's site this week and stumbled across the following: apparently, there's a "porn gap." In "high-income cities" the top five search terms on porn-video websites are "1. Gay 2. Ebony 3. Teen 4. Lesbian and 5. MILF while in low-income cities they are 1. Teen 2. Lesbian 3. MILF 4. Ebony 5. Gay."
The first thing to cross my mind, obviously, was What would Charles Murray have to say about this?
But then, that question turns out to be easier to answer than you might think.
A weekend Wall Street Journal essay-"Charles Murray on the porn class divide"-practically writes itself. He would look back on the good old days, when both the upper and lower classes had to watch the same pornography, so that no matter how much money your family had, at least you'd have some shared social experience. And there'd be a quiz, so that the rich could realize how little they understand about blue-collar porn.But the best part is that Murray could even recycle his last title: Coming Apart.
"I gotta be me, as the douchebag credo goes."
- Ace of Spades, Nov. 20, 2012<
Hackivist types never take a warning and just keep going until they get busted and then it's all Bush's fault or something.
What the fuck is wrong with our country these days?
Inmates train for riots. At yard time, you'll see a ton of them doing martial arts together. Sometimes they'll start a fight with three or four guys just to see what our response is, that way they're able to work up a counter for it. They figure out what our moves are, and then they practice their methods for beating us while we watch
...That's one of the reasons we let them have things like Xboxes and PlayStations. If you give them video games, they'll be less likely to start fights. So once a week we'd hook up a bunch of TVs in a classroom so all of the murderers and rapists could play Halo. There's nothing more interesting than seeing guys who have killed multiple people deathmatching each other. Teabagging seems a lot less innocent when you know it might end with one of the aforementioned riots.
Speaking of which ...
#4. Anything Can Spark a Riot
It's being unfairly maligned.
The wild American bro is most recognizable by its ubiquitous nighttime camouflage: thigh-length swaths of cotton, collars pointed outward like airplane wings, sleeves rolled up and flared out like a Musketeer's. This is known in bro circles as the "going-out shirt." It is the bro's uniform whenever he goes to clubs, bars, house parties, or-god help us-dates. It is always worn untucked with jeans (boot cut, of course), and is considered the "dressed up" alternative to a T-shirt or polo.
I've still got a Going Out shirt or two and the bottom line is that I just look (and feel) good in it.
Breeding has done a lot of damage to dog breeds.
The English bulldog has come to symbolize all that is wrong with the dog fancy and not without good reason; they suffer from almost every possible disease. A 2004 survey by the Kennel Club found that they die at the median age of 6.25 years (n=180). There really is no such thing as a healthy bulldog. The bulldog's monstrous proportions makes them virtually incapable of mating or birthing without medical intervention.
Yahoo group. That is all.
The group thingy. And the middle class.
And my Twitter spew.
Tonight's post brought to you by it should be ready now:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips plus $1 for S&H to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send your scraps to BizarroAce. Do not taunt happy-fun ball.
Close it up
NYT: The looming "doctor shortage" is not real
... The opportunity exists to deliver more services and care with fewer physicians, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. Policy changes will be necessary to reach the full potential of team care.
That means expanding the scope of practice laws for nurse practitioners and pharmacists to allow them to provide comprehensive primary care; changing laws inhibiting telemedicine across state lines; and reforming medical malpractice laws that force providers to stick with inefficient practices simply to reduce liability risk. New payment models must reward investments in technologies that can save money in the long run. Most important, we need to change medical school curriculum to provide training in team care to take full advantage of the capabilities of nonphysicians in caring for patients...
...Innovations, such as sensors that enable remote monitoring of disease and more timely interventions, can help pre-empt the need for inpatient treatment...
Perhaps piss sniffing toilets and sewer crawling robots?
Of course they point to MA/RomneyCare as evidence that there won't be any doctor shortage.
Take Massachusetts, where Obamacare-style reforms were implemented beginning in 2006, adding nearly 400,000 people to the insurance rolls. Appointment wait times for family physicians, internists, pediatricians, obstetricians and gynecologists, and even specialists like cardiologists, have bounced around since but have not appreciably increased overall, according to a Massachusetts Medical Society survey.Curiously in 2006 Massachusetts had the highest per-capita concentration of doctors in the country, 462/100k...compared to Idaho, at the bottom with 169/100k. Having 2.7X more doctors available might just, maybe, kinda, sorta have had something to do with that, although I'm probably way out on a limb with such wild fact based speculation.
AOSHQDD U.S. Senate 2014
A very lazy piece, but since everybody's already writing about the races, it is long overdue. So here's where the Senate races stand right now:
Republicans have a 50/50 shot at flipping the Senate, with the usual caveat that this is the GOP we are talking about. McConnell is the only truly vulnerable Republican, while Democrats are defending a plethora of seats. Open seats in swing states either outright favor the GOP or are at worst leaning Democratic, giving the Democrats even less room to wiggle and protect their majority.
Again, until the GOP screws that up.
Close it up
Performance Artist and "Craftivist" Has New, Innovative, 100% Novel Way of Drawing Attention to Herself: Involving Her Vagina
I would never have seen this coming. A female artist using her vagina as a prop? Why, I never. Where do these geniuses come up with these startling new ideas I've seen six thousand times this past year?
So, thanks to @laurww (I guess...), a woman who knits Vaginal Yarn. Yes, vaginal yarn. She puts a skein of yarn up her foo and then draws it out as she knits.
Why? Because Patriarchy or Male Gaze or Negative Body Image or Vulva Pride You Guys. She claims, for the seventy billionth time, that people feel "fear and revulsion" towards the vulva, which is why it's Art and Stuff You Guys to knit a muff muffler.
You know, the usual airheaded crap. Do artists feel any need any more to explore a new thought?
The article itself is on HuffPo, and is somewhere between Safe For Work and Not Safe For Work. The video that accompanies the article is Not Safe for Work (you can see bits of her foo, and she mentions knitting with... wet yarn).
And... Open Thread. Weird thing to say in this context.
But I'm sick, and I'm done for the night. I'm going to nap.
Nelson Mandela Dies at Age 95;
Obama Eulogizes Mandela By, Get This, Injecting Himself Into His Life
Obama's remarks on Mandela were largely about how Mandela had inspired him. How the first political event Obama attended was an Anti-Apartheid rally. Observers of Obama know, of course, that Obama feels a life isn't validated or worthy unless Obama can somehow connect himself to it.
But even worse than that was the quotation Obama chose to honor Mandela with. It just so happens that this quotation is perfectly aligned with Obama's current political narrative: I screwed up, but I'm going to keep on working until I get this fixed.
So here's what Obama deemed to be the most important quotation of Mandela's life:
"I'm not a saint, unless your definition of a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying."
That's not Mandela's most important quote.
That's the Mandela quote that's most politically useful to Obama.
But to Obama, these are the same thing.
Not Very Hard to Predict The Actions of an Evil Dullard:
actually Obama does have a staged propaganda photo of a "private" sojourn in Nelson Mandela's cell. We should see that rereleased soon.— SquatchPride69 (@AceofSpadesHQ) December 5, 2013
Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela. pic.twitter.com/4qlqsXLp6e— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 5, 2013
That's the photo I was talking about-- the staged White House propaganda photo of a supposedly "private" visit by the First Family to Mandela's old cell.
Odd how many of these "private" moments are used for public propaganda, eh?
About That "Enrollment Surge"
Something has been bugging me about the administration's very careful and coordinated media push earlier this week about both the website and enrollment.
For starters, the website is still not in any sort of working order. It might not be coughing up as many errors and may be a little more navigable, but it's still failing at its stated purpose. The website is supposed to be a place you can easily sign up for an account, shop for available plans and then actually enroll. This isn't happening. Insurers are still complaining about being sent faulty data and the administration is quietly encouraging people to work directly with insurance companies, bypassing the system entirely.
But the word went out and it was covered in the media. The website has seen a vast improvement.
The rollout of the program through a government website, HeathCare.gov, has been plagued by technical problems since it was launched two months ago. But the White House said on Saturday after an intensive overhaul of the website that it was now working at an acceptable level.In addition to this miraculous turnaround, we were also given enrollment numbers for two days: Sunday, November 30th and Monday, December 1st.
What does two days worth of "enrollment data" give you? Well, it just happens to give you a "rate of enrollment", which can then be conveniently extrapolated over the coming open enrollments months. Watch how the National Journal does this:
Enrollment is still substantively behind schedule, and the administration has a lot of work to do to make up for lost time. The broken website effectively shaved two months off the six-month enrollment window, and enrollment in October was only 20 percent of the administration's initial expectations.Politico does it too:
The administration expects 7 million people to sign up, nationwide, by the end of the six-month enrollment window. Signing up 29,000 people every two days would still not be enough to hit that target, but it's a significant step in the right direction for the White House.
The sharp increase in the pace of enrollments could begin to allay one of the industry’s other major fears — that after a two-month delay in standing up a functioning website, the administration won’t enroll enough people or the right mix of people by the March 30 deadline.Isn't it interesting that the two days they targeted for the "fixes" to be completed also happen to be the same two days they have accurate enrollment data. This comes only a month or so after Kathleen Sebelius testified that accurate data wasn't going to be available in real-time.
"I want to give you reliable, confirmed data from every state and from the federal marketplace. We have said that we will do that on a monthly basis, by the middle of the month. You will have that data, but I don't want to turn over anything that is not confirmed and reliable, and that's what we'll do."But now she has access to two days of data right away. You'll notice since this "source who is familiar with the program" (who is never named) confirmed this two days worth of enrollment data, it's been radio silence. Dead air. They're now back to touting web traffic metrics like pageviews again. So, what are we left with? A "vastly improved" website and an "enrollment surge" based on two days worth of data.
So, here's my theory. These 29,000 new enrollees over those two website deadline days was not a spike in enrollment; they were the backlogged November enrollments that had gotten caught in this data communications black hole. The information was fixed and these people were then formally enrolled over these two days. Boom, there's your enrollment spike.
Politico all but makes my case for me:
About 29,000 people signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov on Sunday and Monday — a figure that surpasses the total for the whole month of October, an official familiar with the program told POLITICO.Little odd, right? This administration is in desperate need of a win. The chances of a technical win at this point was a pipe dream given how far behind they were. All that was left was a media win, and for the most part, they got it. Improved website and surging enrollment.
The quickened pace of enrollments came as the White House hit its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to fix the troubled Affordable Care Act website.
We'll see what happens later in the month. If I'm right, this will all catch up with them. If there is one thing we've seen from this bungled operation is that they're panicked and will gladly trade a long-term loss for an immediate short-term win. Just get through today's news cycle. I could be wrong, of course. It's just a theory of mine. But it all does seem convenient.
Healthcare.gov Is Totally Fixed You Guys But You Need to Send a Check to Your Insurer Directly
This happens all the time with Amazon. I "select" a book online, and then they send me an email instructing me I should write a check and send it to the publisher, and complete the transaction with him.
In the podcast last night (which will be available tomorrow), we talked a lot about the coming Crisis. We tried to figure out exactly what the hell was going to happen on January 1st, given that Obamacare kicked five million people off their insurance, and would certainly not manage to sign up that many by the deadline.
Especially given that payments must be made by mail.
And that premiums are now very high.
And that one-third of all 834's sent to insurers are riddled with errors.
And that the whole system is in chaos.
What will happen January 1 when thousands of people have car crashes or other need for insurance, but don't have it, due to Obama's incompetence and stubborness?
John Ekdahl suggested that Obama will just order hospitals and doctors to treat anyone who says he has insurance, whether he does or not. I believe Ekdahl's term was that Obama will order everyone to be "deemed" as covered by insurance.
Is that inconceivable? I don't think so. That's what Allah's thinking, too.
The shocking new news in Allah's post is that only 20% of people who have "enrolled" in insurance have sent a payment yet -- and the hour is growing late for January 1st coverage. And furthermore, that if payment is not received by the start of the term (actually, a week before it-- they need to make sure the check clears), the policy is considered void and the customer will have to go through the nightmare of signing up for Obamacare again.
So is it actually inconceivable that Obama will simply issue a Kingly Edict and instruct insurers to insure people whether they actually are insured or not? Or that hospitals and doctors must, through this "transition period" which may contain "some disruptions," must provide care without actual promise of payment?
Unfortunately, we'll be discovering the answers to these frightening questions very soon.
Four Cases Making Way Through Courts That Might Wind Up Overturning Obamacare
It'll take a while to get a ruling on these cases, and then come appeals, but it's something to keep your eye on.
If the law known as Obamacare gets struck down in the latest court challenge, the victors will thank a Hudson resident and Case Western Reserve University law professor who discovered what the law's critics say is a major flaw.
Jonathan Adler, 44, says he didn't even appreciate initially how significant his discovery might be. He thought it was an interesting bit of legal arcana, worthy of scholarship. But his analysis of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, has led to four pending cases in federal courts, two likely to be decided within months, that offer ACA opponents their best chance of gutting the law.
Oral arguments were heard in one of the cases, in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.
Adler, a Case law professor since 2001, pored over the ACA after it passed in 2010 and found this: Congress created a system for providing tax subsidies and penalties in order to give incentives for people to buy health insurance or for employers to provide it. States were supposed to create new agencies that would offer online insurance-shopping options, and states would tie into a federal tax system to dole out the subsidies and assess the penalties.
But the ACA made clear, Adler says, that the subsidies were to be used in these new state marketplaces, or "exchanges." There is no record, he says, that shows Congress directed the subsidies to what has since evolved: a large, federally run, health-policy shopping exchange. When the subsidies are mentioned in the law, Adler says, it is always and only in the context of state exchanges.
The IRS fabricated a regulation that stated, basically, that no matter what the law itself says, they're providing subsidies through the federal exchanges anyway.
These are Gabe's favorite dark-horse candidates for ending Obamacare in a year or two. He mentioned in the podcast that he'd watched arguments in court, and the Administration's line seemed to be that it didn't matter what the law said -- Obamacare needs this.
Apparently Obamacare contains its own Necessary and Proper Clause amid its penumbras and emanations.