Saturday, May 22, 2004

Chess with Chimpy 

Lifelong New Orleanian Paul Morphy was perhaps the greatest chess player of all time. A childhood genius, he dominated the game from 1857-59 like no one else before or since, and received widespread acclaim throughout the world. Morphy abruptly left chess to practice law, and subsequently became unhappy, then delusional, and finally died in his bathtub at age 43. Recently, Your Right Hand Thief uncovered a record of a conversation the young Morphy had during a casual game. His opponent was a rather naive gentleman by the name of Chimpy W. McFlightsuit. Below is a brief excerpt:

Chimpy: Ha! I took your rook! How ya like them apples?

Morphy: Yes, but in doing so your queen was sacrificed. Further, I had yet to even move that rook into position.

Chimpy: Listen, your rook was a threat, so I removed him. There is no doubt my white pawns are safer with your rook off the board.

Morphy: Mr. McFlightsuit, knowledgable chessplayers refer to such moves as "blunders". Catastrophic blunders, at that.

Chimpy: Listen, I know in my heart your rook was a threat. You were going to use it against me at some point, right? So "Bang!" I took that castle-thingie down.

Morphy: My friend with the unfortunate ears, you are four moves from checkmate.

Chimpy: See! I knew you'd misunderestimate me!

Morphy(whispering to an associate): Should such an ignoramus be responsible for even a two carriage funeral procession, notify me at once...

Chimpy: Time's a wastin' little fella. Let's play another. Bring it on!

In unrelated news, President Bush offered advice to LSU graduates during commencement ceremonies Friday. At the same time, an unexplained cry was heard from a New Orleans cemetery.
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Hi Sweetie, Welcome to Raisins! 

For those of you who didn't follow the prosti-tot on Bravo's Showbiz Moms and Dads or missed the memorable "Raisins" South Park episode, you are in luck. Some mouthbreather in Florida decided to combine both ideas into one profoundly disturbing mixture: that's right, they're puttin' on a

-------------------Little Miss Hooters Contest!!---------------------

Sekimori saw it advertised, and, in disbelief, called to get the details.

The contest is for girls 5 and under, and will require they be dressed in little orange spandex shorts, and a tied up Hooters t-shirt.

If only my Colicky Loinfruit had a better stage strut...

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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Who's Gaming the "Great Game" Now? 

Convicted embezzler, serial liar, and all-around slimy reptile, Ahmad Chalabi, had his Iraq compound raided and his associates arrested on suspicion of more fraud and blackmail. Additionally, CBS news reports that Chalabi passed off sensitive U.S. intelligence to his Shiite brethren in IRAN. You read correctly: IRAN. From Lesley Stahl, CBS:

The evidence shows that Chalabi personally gave Iranian intelligence officers information so sensitive that if revealed it could, quote, "get Americans killed." The evidence is said to be "rock solid."

Moreover, Chalabi's top aide is allegedly on the payroll of Iran's intelligence agency. Yet, only this week did the U.S. discontinue Chalabi's $340k per month intelligence allowance. How he will now make ends meet is not clear.

Kindly direct your thank you letters for this debacle to Douggie "I Leak Bad Intel to the Weekly Standard" Feith, Don "Best Ever" Rumsfeld, Dick "There is No Doubt" Cheney and Paul "Iraq Will Pay for Itself" Wolfowitz. These guys viewed slimeball Chalabi as the next "George Washington of Iraq"-- (Funny, I was unaware that our first president was a traitorous, dissimulating kleptomaniac.) Witness his presence at the State of the Union 4 months ago, standing directly behind the First Lady (via Atrios). Chalabi has strung our gullible leaders along with lies, and stabbed America in the back with potentially lethal betrayals... all in addition to embezzlement and blackmail. Good thing we gave his group $33 million plus over the years (via Josh Marshall).

Remember, this deal is costing american taxpayers more than the inflation adjusted costs of WWI-- and what are we going to get out of it? Place your bets at Punditbook.

Chalabi strung our leaders along with lies, played them like suckers, and then promptly turned on them (and all of us) with heinous acts of betrayal. The willful ignorance in trusting Chalabi, and stovepiping his group's "intelligence" from the Pentagon to the executive branch, could be one of the costliest mistakes in American history.

Update: Senior Pentagon adviser Richard Perle stands by his man Chalabi, and blames the CIA and State Dept for simply holding a grudge against a great man. With advisers like Perle, who needs enemies?
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"Who the hell comes missionary anymore?!" 

Money quote from the recently fired Washingtonienne. Read her short archived blog from the beginning, enjoy the multitudinous sexcapades, and follow the resulting scandal at Wonkette. The extra juicy part is that it involves an unknown Chief of Staff, probably one of these guys. Whoever said that D.C. was a Hollywood for ugly people?

This is better than Sex in the City , I promise.

Update: More on this at Political Wire
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Brad DeLong has a good selection of quotes from various posts about the deepening Abu Ghraib torture scandal. He begins with a reference to ole Fritz (as his older sisters called him):
Nietszche was right. And we have done more than looked into the abyss. And now the abyss has much more than looked into us
referring to this famous quote from Beyond Good and Evil:
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

This foreign policy abyss is a depressing thing to think about, because it will take so long for us to recover in Arab eyes. They still fume about Alexander the Great's armies who swept in, lined up conquered Arabs and forced them to disrobe. Since the Greeks were unashamed of nudity (the Olympics were largely performed in the nude), they were highly amused at the intense shame felt by the unclothed Arab men. Mind you, this was a thousand years before Muhammad-- and it still sticks in their craw. (If you insist on more Abu Ghraib, see Kevin Drum for the best overview).

Many hard truths have hit me from all angles this week, so I'd rather dwell on something more explicitly empowering. Yet I'll stay with a Nietzsche quote, this time from his Schopenhauer as Educator essay-- my emphases throughout:
What have you truly loved up to now, what has drawn your soul aloft, what has mastered it and at the same time blessed it? Set up these revered objects before you and perhaps their nature and their sequence will give you a law, the fundamental law of your own true self.... for your true nature lies, not concealed deep within you, but immeasurably high above you, or at least above that which you usually take yourself to be.

What is your philosophical law? Not your goal or vision or motto, nor what you'll try to get done when you can find the time.... Instead, to which principles (or stoa) will you consecrate? No matter how extreme the conditions or how intense the peer pressure, what will you not compromise? This is the fundament of your authentic, "higher" self. To realize it you simply need the will.

So here are my stoa. I've defined these vague words tightly enough (to myself) that I can't wiggle out of their commitments:

Incorporate truth
Noble Acts
Laugh and Inspire

(Love is the method)

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

All my kvetches source from Texas 

Now I will admit Unitarian choirs aren't the most soulful you'll ever hear, but to rank Unitarians below Scientologists on philosophical grounds is unbelievable. That's precisely what the Texas Comptroller did yesterday, when she rejected a Unitarian church's tax exempt status because of its inadequate "system of belief".

The Unitarian Universalist faith was notably shared by former president John Adams (and son Q.), as well as furniture patriot Ethan Allen. Perhaps Daniel Webster-- also unitarian-- was right after all when he argued against Texas' annexation.

What's next? The Texas Governor overuling a parole board to execute a retard? Yes, apparently so...

Texas, please secede-- immediately. Kindly swap out Austin for Baton Rouge, give us the Shiner Bock recipe, and take your polluted, arrogant, all-hat-no-cattle Enron ass out of this republic!

For more on the absurd (but supposedly legitimate) "faith" of Greta van Susteren and Tom Cruise go here.

(Thanks Electrolite and Kevin Drum.)

Update: the Angry Bear was way ahead, as usual.
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Skin in the Game 

Admission: I was intrigued by Admiral Poindexter's plan to set up a futures market predicting terrorist events. He viewed it as a national security idea-- to get a handle on the odds of future terrorist attacks or assassinations. The immediate political reaction was highly critical-- people rightly thought betting on death was distasteful. However, I believe the core idea has merit and could be usefully reformulated to rate media pundits.

A "current events" style sportsbook could assess odds, track predicted events, and grant payoffs on accurate calls. It could release results so that pundit predictions would be tracked over time. Political opinion-makers would have to back their thoughts with money (or credits), which always adds a new dimension to any contest. Currently too many pundits haughtily criticize the past, reliably overreact to the present, and wildly predict future events that never occur. When pundits are wrong they rarely admit it, or they promptly explain why they were really right, or they simply change topic. Let's hold these people-- self included-- to account. I say: if politics is a horserace, let's bet! That would show commitment to viewpoint. Plus, a willingness to disclose one's betting history would be highly interesting.

For example, William Safire today predicts Iraq will reach "political equilibrium". I'd love to wager on that one. How would "equilibrium" be determined, you ask? Well at the punditbook there might be constantly updated odds on the chance of civil war in Iraq by 2006. For example, if it were better than 3:1, I'd get in the game. Optimist Safire would be on the other side. Or: on the question of the Iraqi transition team requesting U.S. forces to leave Iraq before 1/1/05-- there would be odds on that too. In a few months, someone would cash out; either the "defeatists", or the panglossians. Wagers might include: Kerry versus Bush, state political races, Supreme Court decisions (and appointments), legislation passing... let the imagination go.

Since open markets are terribly efficient, if someone continually beats the averages, it shows they are not just lucky. Perhaps these high performing pundits are particularly well sourced, analyze events and subtexts well, know history, and are talented at tracing the contour of future events from current ones. Those people would gain immeasurably from this objective record. The blowhards and inbreeds would likely lose big time. Too bad politicians couldn't play.

Sure, constructing such a "punditbook" would have its challenges. How do you make it objective as possible, and prevent any insider "gaming" of the system? Who determines the odds...etc. Probably credits instead of real money should be used.

No doubt, though, it can be done-- and probably already has to some extent. But some enterprising soul should take it to the next level and combine online trading with current events in a way that would hold talking heads to account. Soon, I would just love to say: "Wow, Garofalo is just shredding Hannity these past few months, it's like Hornsby over Mendoza.

Also, it would eliminate the tiresome "I expected it all along" b.s.--

"Well, Blowhard, let's check your punditbook record... wow, down 30,000 credits this year. Looks like you bet that at least 100 tons of Iraqi chemical weapons would be found in the first year, you picked Toomey over Specter in the primaries, and you took the under on whether Kerry could raise $80 million before the convention. Not very impressive. So, keeping that record in mind, what prediction will you now make for our audience?"

Might be fun. Thoughts?

(My apologies for posting later than earlier advertised.)

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Like flying termites to bright lamps, 

music lovers will be drawn to Testaverde at the Howlin' Wolf Wednesday. New Orleans hasn't buzzed like this since '98 when the Beat Up Pick-up Trucks exploded on to the scene (short bio of one of their shadier members here). If you are observing the nationwide gas boycott, feel free to bicycle or trolley to the show.

While genius inventor Quintron and puppet artist Miss Pussycat seduce Tejas, and while excitement builds for Andre 3000's arrival in the Crescent City, T-verde's "happy thrash" seems to be the best bet.

Speaking of betting, nite owls can check in during the wee hours for some ideas on that topic.

(Many thanks to Library Chronicles, i have a snake, and Timshel.)
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Monday, May 17, 2004

Jacoby Terror and Oyster's Thermidorian Reaction 

From today's Jeff Jacoby column in the Boston Globe --emphases are mine. (Thanks to the inimitable TBOGG for flagging it.)
We need to convey that the fundamental purpose of marriage is not to put a seal of approval on adult relationships but to unite men and women so that any children they may create or adopt will have a mom and a dad. Marriage expresses a public judgment that every child deserves a mom and a dad. Same-sex marriage, by contrast, says that the sexual and emotional desires of adults count for more than the needs of children. Which message do we want the next generation to receive?

The marriage debate doesn't end this week. Indeed, it may only now be starting in earnest. As Massachusetts goes, so goes the nation? That may depend on whether those who understand what marriage is for, and why its central meaning has endured for millennia, can finally find the words to explain themselves to their countrymen.

Ah, yes. Our message to "the next generation". Exactly.

I simply can't wait to explain to my Colicky Loinfruit why she's forbidden to play with her friend Ivan because of his two moms:

CL: Why can't I go to Ivan's?

Oy: Because his parents both have vaginas, and you deserve friends who have parents with one penis and one vagina.

CL: Why?

Oy: Because it's better for an unwanted child to remain at an orphanage rather than risk being raised by two selfish, oversexed vaginas.

CL: Don't Ivan's moms love him?

Oy: Yes but gay love is only three-fifths as good as straight love. Our Founding Fathers knew this.

CL: Is that why you wish they'd all go back to Homoslavia?

Oy: Oh darling, you're finally starting to learn. Go help your mother with the laundry while I contemplate the sanctity of marriage at the Hustler Club.

More serious response:

1) Marriage must entail children?

2) The word "deserve" is pure sales. It attempts to evoke memories of positive childhood moments when you were rewarded for good behavior. "You deserve a toy...etc". It's a red flag in any argument or presentation. Of course every kid deserves a loving family; but some people get hung up on the biological categories. I think many cultural conservatives would, in theory, prefer a set of borderline abusive hetero parents to a set of loving, caring homosexual parents.

Our nearest lesbian friends have sacrificed heavily in order to adopt a kid, and are nearing the end of the process. I'd pay to see Jacoby explain to my friends how Ivan should grow up unwanted instead of being raised by two parents who will love him dearly.

c) Marriage's "central meaning has endured for millennia"? Oh what horseshit. Marriage was largely a property deal until very recently. Marriage traditions have included: polygamy, arrangement, and huge double standards benefitting men. Current divorce rates in the U.S. are soaring so high, they show that the institution of marriage is about as "inherently sanctified" as Anna Nicole's morning breath. Remember, our country is entertained by midgets and Giants (NY) participating in pseudo-marriage lotteries-- on prime time, no less.

d)Finally: "countrymen"?!? These are the locutions that will persuade a nation? Face it Jeff, you're not Tom Paine; you're simply a hidebound nimrod on the losing side of history.

From Renton in Trainspotting:
One thousand years from now there'll be no guys and no girls, just wankers... we're heterosexual by default, not by decision. It's just a question of who you fancy. It's all about aesthetics and it's fuck-all to do with morality.

Amen, brother.

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Sunday, May 16, 2004

Slave to Comedy 

I know, I know: Comedy is a good servant but a poor master.

Well then consider me indentured because I chuckled throughout this repeated humiliation of an innocent child.

via miss-information
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