Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our Common Origin Porn

Finally, a new way to waste time on the internet.

Ready for the dorkiest story of all time? I was taking a What D&D Character Am I? survey that I stumbled on while looking through the Erfworld forums. Turns out I'm human, but I was almost a gnome. I wasn't super-clear on what a gnome was, I Googled, and I found an intriguing description at DnD wiki.

Then I went back to my survey results (Neutral Good Human Wizard 4th Level) and I saw that "Humans are the most adaptable of the common races," which I liked, and then (and this is where I am getting to the nut graf here) I thought "What does the WikiVerse think of humanity?"

Human at Wikipedia
Ugh. Who has time to read 26 screens on the one thing we all ought to know something about? I like that we are classified under "Ape-related articles."

Human at Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki
What distinguishes humanity? They don't have any "dominant or noticeable bony ridges around their face."

Human at Wookiepedia
"The galaxy's most numerous and politically dominant sentient species with millions of major and minor colonies galaxywide."
Whoo humanity! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! That's how we do, son! None of this evolving second on our planet after some throw-away reptilians shit.

Human at Simple Wikipedia
Is it weird that I feel kind of condescended to by Simple Wiki?

Human at WikiFur
"This item may not be appropriate for WikiFur." Heh. It's weird how that Pioneer 11 plaque seems a bit more sinister in this context. Lots about conflict and being a persecuted minority.

Human at Guild Wars Wiki
I don't know what Guild Wars is, and reading this isn't helping.

Human at Encyclopedia Dramatica
"People are a species of smooth, smelly creatures who populate the earth and the internets." AE consistently entertains me more than anything else in the Wikiverse. It's like listening to a bunch of 12-year-old boys who are smart but everyone says they don't apply themselves, no one likes them and maybe you don't want your kids hanging out with them either because you're pretty sure they're anti-semites.

Human at Uncyclopedia
I think the problem with Uncyclopedia is the fundamental conflict of building consensus and being funny.

Human at Transformers Wiki (if you don't understand how there can be such a thing as a Transformers Wiki, read some Shortpacked!)
It's a little strange being compared unfavorably to a transformer. If being able to transform yourself in to a car is the norm, how can we possibly measure up?

Human at DnD, the Dungeon & Dragons Wiki
We are adaptable, ambitious and diverse. Also, we die off fast compared to everyone else, so stuff changes faster for humanity.

Human at WoWWiki
We are aggressive, inquisitive and resilient. My eyes always seem to start glazing over once I get to our origins, history and important individuals in whatever made-up war you've got there.

Human at TinWiki ("the first online encyclopedia dedicated exclusively to all the topics that inspire the authors to consider tin foil hats.")
TinWiki treats evolution and creationism with the same skepticism as it does intervention from extraterrestrials and migration to Earth from other planets.

Human at Conservapedia ("The Trustworthy Encyclopedia")
The shortest entry on this list. Talk a lot about God, mention some social sciences for good measure, and you're done.

Human at RationalWiki
Nevermind, SimpleWiki. This is definitely the most condescending Human entry in the Wikiverse.

Friday, March 20, 2009

ribble's Brief Foray in to the News Cycle

Everyone's accusing the Obama administration of being distracted (or trying to distract us) - by AIG bonuses (iTunes link), by Rush Limbaugh.

Can an entire administration BE distracted? I know those guys are short handed, but I'd like to think that there's one part of the administration that's working on AIG's $165M in bonuses and some different guys working on the $170,000M bailout.

Or, to address the other issue I mentioned, take a look at the transcript of Gibbs's March 2 White House Press Briefing. Gibbs answers maybe five questions on Limbaugh, but it's one of many issues that he addresses, most having to do with the economy.

Now, Gibbs has seen Frost/Nixon same as the rest of us. He understands that of the things he says in a daily briefing, maybe 20 seconds will get endless play on cable news.

But does that mean Gibbs is distracted? Or that he's distracting us? Or should we blame the media?

Is it that this is the most interesting thing that Gibbs said that day? Or is it simply what got the most attention - maybe some sort of media path dependence at work.

Obama / Leno

Stayed up late to watch Obama on Leno.

After watching hours of Sunday talk shows and like every episode of Planet Money, I kind of get the feeling that Leno's reaaally dumbing it down for me.

I mean, Obama's dumbing it down, too, but he's just doing it for Leno's audience.

Basically I am saying Jay Leno is dumb.

MSNBC report here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Three One-Sided Rivalries

There's nothing wrong with a healthy rivalry, but when one side is an adversarial relationship that the other side doesn't even know about, that's not a rivalry — it's just dumb.

Dartmouth v. Harvard

My friend the Harvard guy tells this story: Dartmouth kids and Harvard kids camp across from each other in the woods on their respective Freshman trips. Dartmouth upperclassmen spend hours loudly teaching their 'shmen anti-Harvard fight songs. Harvard finally sends a freshman representative to the Dartmouth camp. "We're sorry, but all our songs are about Yale."

New Mex-Mex v. Tex-Mex

For the record, New Mex-Mex is very good, and certainly distinct from Tex-Mex (their enchiladas are flat, for goodness sake). It's just that Tex-Mex's real rivalry is with Mexican food. Or "Mex-Mex."


BROOKLYN SAYS: Manhattan is for tools.
MANHATTAN SAYS: And where is Cobble Hill again?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bush's Cheney Impression

Watching Cheney on "State of the Union," thinking about this quote from David Brooks on NewsHour:

"And then the final thing I would say is, I think, in the last couple years, Bush understood the weaknesses of that and I think distanced himself from Cheney. You know, Bush does an impersonation of Cheney. And that began to surface a little more in the last couple years."

I would love (LOVE) to see Bush's Cheney impression. I'm running in to too much Google flack to do a proper search. Anyone who can help my search?

Republican Self-Destruction Watch

(Alternate title: GOP 2012 Where Are They Now?)

It is very easy for a president to be re-elected. His main advantage, as Bill Clinton famously put it (in a different context) before he handily defeated well-meaning erectile dysfunction sufferer Bob Dole: "The President is relevant." The President can command the global stage simply by opening his mouth. Tough to compete with that.

Like watching the Spurs win an easy game, there's a certain satisfaction to watching this play out. Specifically, there's something very enjoyable about watching the other team's potential candidates self-destruct.

The most satisfying Republican presidential candidate self-destructions so far:

Bobby Jindal
Rudy Giuliani (pull quote: "The more that Republican voters saw of him, the less they wanted to vote for him.")
George Allen

(I am sure I'll be updating this list.)

[June Update: Ensign
[July Update: Palin
Keep it coming, guys! Best party ever!]

The hardest self-destruction to watch is always the guy who wins the nomination. With the arguable exception of Gore, every general election loser hasn't been so much outmaneuvered as outmatched.

Sorry, other guy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Information I Can Never Retain

Information I can never retain, no matter how many times I've tried to learn it.

Dance steps

The difference between whiskey, Scotch and Bourbon.

Your birthday.

The full Windsor.

Unit conversion of any kind.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I just watched the Jon Stewart - Jim Cramer interview, but I have not yet switched on CNN, so don't yet know the sound bites that will come to define this night of television. For what it's worth, then, here are what I think are the most damning sound bites for Cramer.

Cramer: I'm a commentator (...) I'm a guy trying to do an entertainment show about business for people to watch.

Cramer: I think that... that, your goal should always be to expose the fact that there is no easy money. I wish I'd found Madoff. I wish that...
Stewart: But there's literally shows called "Fast Money."
Cramer: I think there's people... there's a market for it and you give it to them...
Stewart: There's a market for cocaine and hookers!

Possibly a montage of Cramer saying "We were wrong."

After watching parts of the interview again I'm guessing it's going to be Stewart's quotes that get the most play. Stewart gave an unrelenting, articulate and (given that this is Jon Stewart) surprisingly mature indictment of CNBC last night, but what was most striking was his righteous anger. If you watch closely at the very end of the interview as it played on television, you can see that he's STILL angry.

CNN report here. News reports seem to be generally focusing on Stewart saying "I know you're trying to be entertaining, but it's not a fucking game" and the inevitable Cramer apology montage.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Inside Baseball Infighting

Listening to a NewsHour report on Obama's anti-earmark policies and thinking about Clinton's first two years in office. Then, having a president and a congress from the same party did not lend itself to the sorts of legislative striving you may expect.

I think it fundamentally comes down to the fact that the President will always be in a fight with whomever is in charge of congress - it is in the nature of our lovely power-seperated multi-branch governmental system.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Things That Make Me Angry

Inspired by this post slash years of counseling.
Fox News in general
Former McCain campaign aids in particular
People who clip their nails on the subway
The drunk guy who stands behind you at the concert and narrates the whole thing to his girlfriend
People who bring children to movies and won't leave once the kid inevitably starts crying
Short films from L.A.
Eye boogers

Last updated 3/6/09

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

How Liberals Watch Fox

The thing about Fox News is, nine out of ten things on it are just regular news - this happened, that happened. But the other one in ten things will be so infuriating that I simply will not be able to watch the other 90%.

The last time I watched Fox News was election night, and I wanted to call them out on something then, but I couldn't find it again until I saw Jon Stewart calling out Michelle Malkin for calling out Joe Biden.

Election night, Malkin was talking about this video of a visibly moved African-American woman, Peggy Joseph, talking to a reporter after an Obama rally in Florida.

Malkin's case, which you can read here if you're in to that sort of thing, was that this woman was saying that if Obama were elected, he would buy her gas and pay for her mortgage. Therefore liberals were all stealing commies, black people will take your money, etc.

But even in the brief clip Malkin showed, it was clear to me that Joseph was saying that if Obama were elected, he would help fix the country so Joseph would have the money to take care of these things herself.

Malkin was calling her "Peggy the Moocher." That's the sort of Fox News shit that really pisses me off.

Monday, March 02, 2009


I'm thinking about how Obama's first few months in office will compare to Bush's.

I remember before September of 2001 when it started to become clear that George Bush was going to govern like a very typical conservative despite the "compassionate conservative" rhetoric of his campaign. I'm talking about stuff like missile defense, "un-signing" treaties, ignoring the conflict in Israel like any true isolationist, social conservative stuff like gay marriage legislation - you know, the usual.

I'm not sure if anyone was surprised when this started, but I wasn't. If it weren't for 9/11, we would have seen plenty more of it.

Now, it's hard to hear the Midwest from Brooklyn over all the cheering, but I'm wondering if conservative are looking at the stuff Obama is doing and saying the same things I was saying when Bush started. Fact is, Obama is doing some of the things any liberal president would do - expanding climate control legislation, for example.

But if you missed the one news cycle when, say, Obama repealed the ban of federal funding for family planning organizations abroad, you can forgive yourself. Because most of the typical liberal stuff is being overshadowed by the huge, world-shifting stuff that Obama is also doing.

I would like to suggest a New York Post headline: BAM DELIVERS. Succeed or fail (and I'm sure we'll get some of each), Obama is making the big changes he promised. I think it's good news that he'll be judged on that, and not on the small stuff that this crisis has forced to the wayside.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Fear of Zombie Attack

I had to stop playing Fallout 3 because my zombie dreams were getting a lot worse than normal.

Now it's a lazy Sunday afternoon and I'm thinking about playing again. Having nightmares about a game is a good sign that I should stop playing.

My question is, what is the sign that is a good idea to start playing again?

Is it just that you don't think about zombies as much? Is it when you find yourself looking around your neighborhood picking out your post-apocalyptic sniper positions? Or is it like I'm saying "what's a good sign that you should start smoking again?"

Two Quick Notes on the Presidency

Obama also made a sort of off hand remark with Lehrer: that this was a time of great peril and great possibility, and naturally that's when you want to be president, but it would be nice if it weren't that every crisis was coming at him at once.

As I mentioned before, a president is really most effective in his first few years in office. Right now, big crises are letting Obama focus his agenda on the things that really matter, and the fact that they are all happening at once lets him move forward aggressively with a complete agenda.

I just want everyone to be prepared for Obama's second term when it seems like his main job is protecting his legacy from congressional meddling.

This is normal.

Note #2: I saw ribble's all-time favorite band They Might Be Giants live tonight. It reminded me of reading about Pres. Clinton's 50th, when Hillary got Bill's favorite band to do a concert for him at the White House.

Ever since I read that, I've wanted to be president just so I could get They Might Be Giants to do a private concert for me at the White House. This would have the advantage of my being the first person in like 30 years to request a song successfully during a TMBG set (they use a set list) and, second, my really freaking out the people who elected me with some new and surprising depths to my own dorkiness.