Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who is kinder? The Left or the Right?

Sometime before the turn of the millenium (wow, that sounds like a long time ago doesn't it?) I was arguing with my father that whatever other faults the Left may have, that at least they were more well-mannered than the Right. At the time I believe I was mostly comparing Rush Limbaugh to NPR pundits, but despite the small sample size I will still maintain that even if there wasn't a big difference between the Right and Left that at a minimum things were more genial in general. This is obviously no longer the case and I'm trying to decide why?

Not only are things less genial but I'm going to have to go on record as saying that at this point, in contrast to my thinking of many years ago, that it's the Left which is the most unmannerly. (I think rabid idiots without the common sense god gave slime mold is closer to the mark, but I don't want to be hypocritical.) And certainly it's not all of them, to be sure most mainstream commentators are well mannered, it's more the rising generation of lefties you might say. In particular I'm concerned about incidents like what happened when the head of the Minutemen tried to speak at Columbia, or what happened to Mike Adams at Amherst and other examples like this.

So in any case I'm trying to decide why this is. One explanation is that Bush has evoked so much hatred after 6 years as president that the pot has reached a boil so to speak, and that two years from now when/if a democrat gets elected that everything will quiet down and the Right will be the side without manners. Of course the other explanation would be that this is just the way things are now, and that it has nothing to do with who is in the White House and that in fact far from getting better it may in fact get worse. This dovetails nicely into my "current college kids = apocalypse" but we don't have time for that...

The hooligans across the street aren't helping matters

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A short blurb

Not much to say, but my wife criticized me for not blogging enough anymore so I thought I should toss something up. First off here's a link my brother-in-law sent me on how to calculate PI by throwing frozen hot dogs (hard to believe but true). Secondly is this great editorial in the WSJ by Victor Davis Hanson. It was originally given as a speech at an annual dinner to honor Churchill.

For my money the best line of the article is this, "But still, what drives Westerners, here and in Europe, to demand that we must be perfect rather than merely good, and to lament that if we are not perfect we are then abjectly bad--and always to be so unable to define and then defend their civilization against its most elemental enemies?" Good stuff, perhaps I'll comment more on it tomorrow.

Once again regretting the way my driveway is shaded from the south

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mistaken Identity

We were having a family dinner with the in-laws on Sunday when the phone rang. I answered it and the person on the other end asked, "Is this Ross?" or at least that's what I heard. She told me that it was Luann. Now my step-father-in-law has a daughter named Luann, and since he was at the house I assumed that's who it was (in this I was correct at least). She started off by telling me that she had left a message on my cell phone, and asked if I had gotten it. I had to admit that I hadn't. It was interesting how that point put me on the defensive, and made me less willing to question the rest of the conversation. I mean if I was on the ball and had gotten the cell phone message perhaps this would all make sense...

She then proceeded to ask me if I would be available this coming week for a couple of days to help her move some stuff from Monticello (Idaho I assume). And then while I stood there in confused silence proceeded to launch into a description of a TV she needed to move and how it was too heavy for one person. By this point I was pretty sure she had the wrong guy, but the longer she talked the more difficult it was to tell her that this whole spiel had been directed at the wrong guy. Eventually I was able to break in and ask her if she really wanted to talk to "Ross", as it turns out she had wanted to talk to my brother-in-law "Rob" and I had misunderstood her very first question (although you can see where the sound similarity would lend itself to that).

To completely shift gears to something on everyone's mind, Iraq, I read something very interesting by Fareed Zakaria yesterday, that I thought gave a pretty interesting insight into the situation on Iraq. The bulk of the article was fairly standard, it was the first paragraph that caught my attention:

If you want to understand the futility of America's current situation in Iraq, last week provided a vivid microcosm. On Thursday, just hours before a series of car bombs killed more than 200 people in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City, Sunni militants attacked the Ministry of Health, which is run by one of Moqtada al-Sadr's followers. Within a couple of hours, American units arrived at the scene and chased off the attackers. The next day, Sadr's men began reprisals against Sunnis, firing RPGs at several mosques. When U.S. forces tried to stop the carnage and restore order, goons from Sadr's Mahdi Army began firing on American helicopters. In other words, one day the U.S. Army was defending Sadr's militia and, the next day, was attacked by it. We're in the middle of a civil war and are being shot at by both sides.

I'm reminded of a saying involving a rock...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Imaginary Chickens

The next Dreamblade 10k tournament is next weekend (Dec 2-3). I need to travel to Seattle on business and there was a chance I could arrange it for it to happen on either the Friday before or the Monday after (as it turns out they won't be ready for me until sometime in January it looks like). Of course the most common question being asked at the SoCal 10k was whether people would be at the Seattle 10k, I kept telling people I might be, which I think most people took as an answer in the affirmative. Which in something of a feedback loop, pulled me in that same direction. Or as my wife said, "I was counting my chickens before they hatched."

Once I found out that I wasn't going to be up there anyway, I started thinking of ways I could justify going anyway. Or as I told my wife "I'm attached to the imaginary chickens." Unfortunately it's more an issue of time than money. If it was money I could work something out, go without something, move things around, do some work on the side, etc. Coming up with money is easy when compared with coming up with an extra weekend during the holidays. So at this point I think I'll pass on this one, I mean I have achieved my two big goals, I'm back to being the #1 player in Utah and I've qualified for next years 50k tournament, so I guess it's okay to take a break from Dreamblade for awhile.

In other news my back appears to have plateaued at sore and ridiculously stiff. When I bend over to try and touch my toes, I barely make it to my knees. So tomorrow I'm going to go into the employee health clinic and have them take a look, I'm expecting that they'll prescribe something.

I was never very flexible, but this is ridiculous

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hat Picture

My back spasmed this morning while I was scraping ice off of the car. It only did it once, but man it hurt. So I'm not in the mood to post much. I thought I'd just add a link to the picture of me in my hat, from the convention.

Still tender

Saturday, November 18, 2006

SoCal Dreamblade 10k

Well I have just a few minutes while my room mate talks to his girlfriend to blog about what happened at the 10k. As usual I'm annoyed with how I did. I hardly had any time at all to practice before the event, so my expectations were quite low. So if someone had told me, you'll end up winning $250 dollars and getting 750 points I would have been stoked. As it turns out that's exactly what happened and the only emotions I'm experiencing are anger and regret.

See the way the tournament was supossed to work, based on the website is that there would be 7 rounds. Anyone who went 5-2 would make it to the second day and play in more swiss rounds. As it turns out attendence was kind of low, 55 I think, and as a result they decided to cut out the swiss rounds and go straight to the top 8, which is where the single elimination normally starts at a 10k. Making it into the top 8 guarantees you $500, and 1000 points. And is a much better option than playing in the 1k on Sunday (particularly since with me having to catch a cab at 5:00 I'm not sure I'll be able to finish it) since it starts later and would run shorter. In any case to finally give you the punch line, I went 5-2 and ended up in 9th place, just shy of the cut-off.

The low points were of course my two losses. The first happened while I was playing in the "featured match" (a synopsis of that game may show up on the Wizards website if it does I'll post a link). I made at least three collosaly stupid mistakes, I mean truly hall of fame worthy goofs, any of which probably cost me the game. The second loss was the most unlucky series of spawn rolls possible for my particular band, not just a couple but like 6 in a row... My opponent was amazed at how bad my luck was. The high point was beating the #2 guy in the world in my final match (particularly since he was #1 in the world up until a week ago, and at the time I thought that the win put me into the top 8).

In any case as usual I should be happy, and at some point I will be happy. Just not now.

Happiness and I are not currently on speaking terms

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Linerider Addict

Not sure if I'm the last person in the country to discover this, I guess it was recently featured in Time, but on the off chance you haven't heard of it yet you should really check it out. It's at, though I warn you it's highly addictive. Though my own course is at the point where I can start it and go get lunch, and come back in time to see what happens with the latest segment I added. So I suppose I have regained some productivity from it's fell clutches.

GenCon SoCal is Thursday through Sunday. And I'll be attending for the first time. Three factors went into my decision, the Dreamblade 10k tournament, the fact that my friend Wil would be there covering said tournament, and the chance to get a little bit of business done. I'm reasonably nervous about the tournament, but less nervous than for my 1k, probably because while I thought there was an outside chance of winning the 1k, I have no illusions about my chances of winning the 10k. I should have practiced more, but Neverwinter Nights came out at precisely the wrong time. I think, in all honesty, that I'm pretty good at delaying play for work, but delaying one play for another play, even if the stakes are higher, is something I'm still not very good at. Of course I'll let you know how it goes. Worst case scenerio if I lose the first few rounds of the 10k I can drop and help Wil cover the rest of it. Plus there's a 1k the next day for those who didn't make the finals of the 10k.

The soft bigotry of low expectations

Thursday, November 09, 2006

5 year old Dynamo

So my five year old son (the number two son) came up with this plan. He decided he was going to build a cardboard fort in the backyard and live in it, or more importantly sleep in it. I was skeptical, though I tried very hard to keep all skepticism out of my comments. My wife was more confident, enough so that she spent a large chunk of yesterday helping him put together the fort, which was backed by the big cinderblock wall we have as the back fence.

Well bedtime (8:00) rolled around and he tropped out to his fort, where he already had a sleeping back and pillow. I gave him 20 minutes before he was too cold, lonely, scared or bored. At 8:30 I walked out to check on him and made sure he knew that the door was open if he needed to come in. He merely told me that he wanted another blanket. When I checked on him at 9:00 he was asleep. Well that really threw me, because in all my planning I had never considered the fact that he would actually do it (which I realize does not speak well of me).

Obviously I wanted to leave him out there. Although he picked a bad night, it was suppossed to be windy and rainy as a cold front moved in. Now obviously there was a greater chance of him freezing to death, than of him being kidnapped out of the back yard, but that doesn't mean that that's not precisely the thought that haunted me last night (both the kidnapping and the freezing, despite the low chance of either).

We did leave the window open so we could hear anything happening in the backyard, so when it did start raining at 4:30 we went and got him (or rather the wife did). If the fort had not been made of cardboard and set in the lowest part of the yard I might have waited to see if he could tough it out. And as you might imagine he did seem annoyed this morning that we had pulled him out. He seemed none the worse for wear, though the same could not be said for me, I didn't really sleep very well at all.

Yet another prediction I got wrong

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Swing and a miss!

I like being right, a lot, too much in fact, so it's with no small amount of annoyance that I have to reveal that my election prediction was off, by a lot. I suppose I could imagine that after overestimating the democratic chances for so long pollsters have over-corrected and that now polls overemphasis republican chances, but that would just be an excuse, and not a vey strong one at that.

Last night wasn't as enjoyable as I had hoped, which is not to say I didn't enjoy things, more that 2000 and 2004 really spoiled me as far as election night excitement. Mostly I'm looking for either raw excitement, like 2000, or something surprising, like the exit polls projecting a Kerry victory in 2004 and then Bush pulling it out. Watching the Republicans get their teeth kicked in definitely wasn't surprising, though there was a certain amount of excitement, particularly since they had it coming.

Of course they'll want to say that it was Bush's unpopularity and the Iraq war that cost them the house, when in reality it was their own greed and arrogance. As an example of this I offer the article I just read in the Economist. After it became apparent how expensive the Katrina clean-up was going to be several fiscally conservative Republicans approached Tom Delay and floated the idea of cutting some stuff out of the budget to help offset the costs. Delay replied that after 11 years of Republican control all the fat had already been trimmed, there was nothing left. That statement is ludicrous on its face and just descends into the realm of the absurd when you consider that per capita government spending under Bush and that congress was greater than any president other than Lyndon Johnson, and that this was two months after the pork-laden bill which included such infamous items as the bridge to nowhere.

In fact I would argue that Iraq and the War on Terror in general kept the losses from being greater. Because I bet there were a lot of conservatives who (and democrats like Orson Scott Card) who choked down the bile about all the extravagant spending and the horrible entitlements, and voted Republican because they were terrified of what the Democrats would do with our National Security.

Thus far the Democrats have promised not to impeach Bush, but count me as a skeptic. I know that this is not the best time to trot out another prediction, but I think that once things get settled in, the furious democratic base will eventually push them into an impeachment. Two years may not be enough time for the stars to align, so I'm only going to give impeachment a 75% probability, but if Bush had four years left in office I'd give it a 100%. Also to a certain extent what will happen depends on whether the Democrats take the Senate, though at this point I think they will.

Never uncertain, frequently incorrect

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day!

As most or at least many of you may know I'm quite the political junkie, and election day is pretty exciting. Unlike the many partisans out there for me it's more about an exciting process than having my party seize power. Particularly since the party I am nominally affiliated with, the Libertarians, have never seized anything, possibly because the national Libertarian party makes you take an oath to "oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals". As a die hard-supporter of the need for a third party (particularly one committed to limited government) voting is a delicate balancing act, which mostly boils down to voting for gridlock, against incumbants and for the occasional Libertarian or Constitution Party candidate.

As a result of this, as a voter in Utah the majority of my votes went to Democractic candidates even though I imagine most people would peg me as a Republican. As you may have gathered I've already voted. I did it on my way into work. Utah is implementing a new electronic voting system and it was widely expected that there would be big lines and massive confusion. The only problem I ran into was they moved the polling spot from the front of the high school to the auditorium, other than that I walked right in, signed my name, got a card and blew right threw it. Talking to other co-workers who voted, or tried to vote before work it appears that my experience was atypical. Lots of people reported long lines, broken machines and clueless election officials.

I think, like many other people, the time has come to make some predictions about the US House and Senate. My personal predictions are that Democrats will have a gain of 18 in the house and 3 in the senate giving them a 6 seat majority in the house and a four seat deficit still in the Senate. Of course it will take awhile before we can say with any certainty how close I was since, I'm guessing that there might be a couple of races still in doubt as late as the weekend, but maybe the number of lawyers both parties have sent out (7000 for the democrats 1000 for the republicans) has made me pessimistic. I understand that my predictions are probably low of CW for the House at least, but my, admittedly personal, experience is that as long as I can remember CW has always over-estimated in favor of the Democrats.

Polls close at 8!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Meandering afternoon thoughts

I don't really know that I have the time to blog, but some part of me feels that it's necessary. Thomas Sowell, one of my all-time favorite columnists, will occasionally do "Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene", short ideas about what's been on his mind recently. Given my aforementioned constraints I thought that might make a good format for today's entry.

-If you think the world you live in has anything worthwhile there are two ways to pass it on: children and acculturation of other cultures... Neither of these are very popular at the moment.

-Neverwinter Nights 2 has horrible camera controls, why would they put a WASD system into place and not have it work like every other WASD system in the world.

-There's never enough time to do all the things I want to do. I guess that means I have to break the laws of physic and give myself more time, or want to do fewer things.

-The snowmobiliers and the cross-country skiers in Utah are enganged in a tremendous battle over some new Forest Service regulations. Both sides claim that the FS is screwing them and in bed with their opponents.

-Despite the horrible camera, overall I'm enjoying NWN2. I just need to find the time to play it.

-I've never minded having democrats get elected in Utah, since our democrats are most other peoples moderate Republicans, but the argument that a moderate Utah democrat indirectly leads to people like Pelosi being Speaker, and Kucinich being chairman of the National Security Committee, carries a fair amount of weight.

-Three weeks between the new Dreamblade expansion being released and a major tournament may be enough time for single basement dwelling males, but I don't think it's going to be enough for me.

-The labor market in Utah is really tight, and the dam has started to burst. Just today in the IT deparment it's one person's last day, another gave his two weeks, and another had an interview (still another was told he had a week to turn things around or he would be fired, but that's not a symptom of the labor market.)

Scattered and ineffectual

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Christmas Morning

Okay I'm not quite as giddy as a kid on Christmas Morning, but I am looking forward to picking up my first new computer game in quite some time, and my first new computer RPG in even longer. I could wish that the timing were better, of course it's never great there's always something else I should be doing if I were to truly be mature and responsible.

I went to bed at 9 pm last night. One could say that it was preperation for staying up late tonight, but that would be incorrect, though the thought did occur to me, it was because I felt like crap. I feel quite a bit better today, so I'm not sure what was wrong yesterday. It's possible that I flirted with my son's illness, it's possible that I was just really tired, there's also the possibility that donating platelets yesterday had some part in it. I'm not sure, but with all the stuff I want to do (to say nothing of the stuff I need to do but what to procrastinate) it'd really be nice if I was firing on all cylinders.

Halloween passed as it generally does. We got more tricker-treaters than I expected, but it's still seems to be a dying tradition. When we took the kids out to grandma's at 6:15, our kids were the first kids they had seen. I felt like an elder member of a vanishing aboriginal tribe, "The old ways are dying, and my children no longer remember the heavy weight of the pillow sack, nor have they learned the way to the house where entire cans of soda-pop are given away, or to avoid the house of the dentist. Once this land was full of the bright-eyed young-ones with cherry-bombs and water balloons... But now I alone remember the ancient chant and the old hunting grounds, high in the hills where the rich people live."

The Last of the Tricker-Treaters