Probably wouldn't have made a difference, but the Cowboys lost again today, this time to a very bad Detroit Lions team. Yeah, there were some really dumb calls in this game, including a touchdown/INT taken away from the Cowboys on the very first play, but Detroit never should have been in this one, let alone win it.
So, we have three losses in a row heading into the playoffs, and we go on the road to play Seattle in a game I most likely will miss while on vacation down in Port Aransas. I doubt I will miss much, but I suppose I will DVR the game just in case it is good so I can fast forward through it the day after we return.
It's not the three losses in a row that worries me heading into the playoffs. It is the defense that can't seem to stop anyone. I mean, 39 points to the frickin' Lions? Holy crap, that's embarrassing.
I actually feel better about going to Seattle, though, then I do about the other potential matchup which would have us hosting the Giants. The Cowboys have a disturbing habit this season of getting themselves humiliated in big home games.
Jane Hamsher does a good job of putting down into words the thoughts of those of us who are just a little creeped out by the macabre show (and released photographs) of Saddam's execution:
It is probably the height of arrogance to think one's own judgments will be history's judgments and perhaps the hanging of Sadaam Hussein will be lost amidst the unspeakable tragedy of the hundreds of thousands of those who lie dead in Iraq, many most assuredly by his own hand, but I had to turn the TV off yesterday in the midst of the ghoulish execution watch and today I feel a bit dirty. There's a funny taste in my mouth and everything feels wrong and out of sorts. Perhaps it is not the final coda to the events of 9/11, but it is most certainly some sort of interstitial bookend and I cannot help but feel that as a nation we failed.
We are not what we pretend to be. As Americans we like to believe that we act with wisdom and good judgment, and those on the right who cheered on this war most vociferously did so out of a conviction that we are a nation possessed of indominable moral rectitude. Even as they claimed the right as the world's policemen to dethrone and execute Saddam Hussein for his crimes against humanity, they openly mock Jimmy Carter for his insistence that human rights be placed in the vanguard of American foreign policy considerations. For this he is considered weak and naive.
Any sympathy I might feel for Saddam's plight would find him standing at the end of a very long line of victims of this war, and it's not even an abhorrance of the death penalty that moves me today (all thouth I most certainly feel that this is nothing a civilized nation has any place engaging in). That sickened feeling in my stomach seems to mark some kind of new low to which we have fallen, murder as PR to inch the arctic approval ratings of the pathalogical boy king and his disastrous war incrementally upward. Codpiece justice and death-as-photo-op reign supreme. Perhaps this is just the last, gruesome swan song of a morally bankrupt right wing as it exits center stage, the perverse final chorus it sings in its death throes.
It is nonetheless hideous to behold.
The adjective "proud" would be pretty close to the end of my list when describing how I feel as an American with the execution of Saddam Hussein who was our best bud in the Middle East until he wasn't.
Josh Marshall shares his perspective:
Convention dictates that we precede any discussion of this execution with the obligatory nod to Saddam's treachery, bloodthirsty rule and tyranny. But enough of the cowardly chatter. This thing is a sham, of a piece with the whole corrupt, disastrous sham that the war and occupation have been. Bush administration officials are the ones who leak the news about the time of the execution. One key reason we know Saddam's about to be executed is that he's about to be transferred from US to Iraqi custody, which tells you a lot. And, of course, the verdict in his trial gets timed to coincide with the US elections.
This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.
Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the 'secular arm'. Try pretending it's a war crimes trial but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.
The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.
These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'
Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.
Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, calls any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.
What do you figure this farce will look like 10, 30 or 50 years down the road? A signal of American power or weakness?
History will not be kind to this administration, which is VERY small comfort to those of us living through it. History will also be unkind to the enormous contingent of unthinking Moron Americans who reelected this fucking CHILD to be our President for another four years.
But, just as every failed movement, from Naziism to Communism to White Supremacy, has its lifelong fans who long for the glory days of yore, so will the Bush administration have its Legion of Denial for decades to come. I only hope someday we have a media that calls them out for the clowns they are instead of continuing with the ridiculous "on the one hand..." crap, as if both sides in the debate are equally credible.
Hell, what's ironic these days among the "liberal" media is that the anti-war position, the thought that we need to pull the troops out of Iraq ASAP, isn't even on the acceptable fringe of the debate. The people advocating that position, like those who opposed the war from the beginning, are never given much of a platform to speak out, never invited on the talk shows, never spoken to (or about) with respect by the pundits.
The acceptable "left flank" of public discourse seems to be those who simply want to stay in Iraq indefinitely but increase the number of troops. Look at the polls on this and try to tell me the media represent some kind of liberal viewpoint. Jesus.
Looks like if you want to support the troops, then you would not support the president at this point. After all, they don't:
The American military — once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war — has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll..
For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of the way the president is handling the war.
When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83 percent of poll respondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number has shrunk to 50 percent.
Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved. The president’s approval rating among the military is only slightly higher than for the population as a whole. In 2004, when his popularity peaked, 63 percent of the military approved of Bush’s handling of the war. While approval of the president’s war leadership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.
Just as telling, in this year’s poll only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population today — 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.
The mail survey, conducted Nov. 13 through Dec. 22, is the fourth annual gauge of active-duty military subscribers to the Military Times newspapers. The results should not be read as representative of the military as a whole; the survey’s respondents are on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military population.
Among the respondents, 66 percent have deployed at least once to Iraq or Afghanistan. In the overall active-duty force, according to the Department of Defense, that number is 72 percent.
The poll has come to be viewed by some as a barometer of the professional career military. It is the only independent poll done on an annual basis. The margin of error on this year’s poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
While approval of Bush’s handling of the war has plunged, approval for his overall performance as president remains high at 52 percent. While that is down from his high of 71 percent in 2004, it is still far above the approval ratings of the general population, where that number has fallen into the 30s.
While Bush fared well overall, his political party didn’t. In the three previous polls, nearly 60 percent of the respondents identified themselves as Republicans, which is about double the population as a whole. But in this year’s poll, only 46 percent of the military respondents said they were Republicans. However, there was not a big gain in those identifying themselves as Democrats — a figure that consistently hovers around 16 percent. The big gain came among people who said they were independents.
Similarly, when asked to describe their political views on a scale from very conservative to very liberal, there was a slight shift from the conservative end of the spectrum to the middle or moderate range. Liberals within the military are still a rare breed, with less than 10 percent of respondents describing themselves that way.
You would think stuff like this would make wingnut heads explode across the land, but their superior rationalization skills are like a shell of titanium armor for their tiny brains to rattle around in while they pound their keyboards, exhorting the troops to kill more of the ungrateful Iraqis.
After a long absence, I had a chance to play poker with my brother and his friends last night. As always, it was a lot of fun. I ended up exactly even, walking away at midnight with my $100 buy-in. I felt pretty lucky for that.
I spent part of the afternoon warming up by using some of my freeroll tournament winnings to bankroll my efforts at the nickel/dime no limit ring game at FTP. I played pretty tight with only four dollars at risk. I got pocket kings and raised it up to about 50 cents, got two callers. The flop came Q-7-5 and it was checked to me, and I pushed. Got one caller, with QJ, no flush possible. The next two cards come out 7-Q, so he rivered a set.
Five minutes later, I was dealt pocket aces, and I pushed in for the third raise of the pre-flop betting, getting one caller with pocket kings. Naturally, a K came on the flop. Four more dollars gone. Then I went out to play some basketball with J*stin. Twice during the game, he heaved three pointers that I tipped, only to see them go in as swishes. Ok, so I'm feeling pretty snakebit, and I'm going to play poker where I lost a couple hundred in the past few games. Not good. I played very, very tight to protect myself from my own stupidity.
It looked great at first, with me getting KK, QQ, AA, QQ on four of the first twenty or so hands. I didn't win much with those hands, though, because I couldn't get many callers, especially once I followed up with a bet on the flop (when I didn't chase everyone out pre-flop). I was up about 30 bucks, and that got whittled away when I got very few good pre-flop hands, and hit zero flops for a long stretch.
I got AK a couple of times and went in for the minimum, only to see the board come out 5-6-7 suited or 4-5-6 with two suited cards and both times with a bet and a raise before I acted. By a few hours in, I was about 20 dollars down, and I got KJ suited on the button. I was able to get in for the minimum, and the flop came JJx. I checked, and so did the other three in the hand.
Then turn came a 10, so I threw a five out there to see if anyone was trying for a straight. Three callers. River was a 2, so I was pretty solid. I bet 20 when it was checked around to me, and the guy on my right with a big stack knew I had a J but called me anyway, probably out of charity but also because he could afford to pay to see my Jack.
That hand put me up about 30, which dwindled back down to even by midnight, and I was happy enough to leave without losing. Tired, too. Our seven month old has a habit now of getting up between 6-630 instead of 730ish, and he's often high maintenance in the mornings, which makes for a cranky start to the day. I've been trying to get to sleep earlier to cope with it, but it is hard to sleep when the hours after 8pm or so are the quietest time of the day when M*chelle and I can spend some quiet time together or do what we want without interruption.
I've said this before, but it is worth repeating: I'm used to a school schedule. I've been in school as a student or a teacher for my whole life, so I am used to the idea that Xmas and summer time are the vacation times. With five kids, though, that is no longer the case! Makes for some very busy days over the holidays, and it definitely makes me appreciate the days when school is in session! I'm very thankful that M*chelle's mom is down here visiting to help out. I think I would've gone crazy by now otherwise just with the two little ones, not even counting the three big ones!
The death toll in the Iraq War (at least among soldiers, not counting civilians on either side) recently surpassed the total number of dead in the 9/11 attacks. Some wingnuts tried to fend off this obvious reminder if their dismally stupid beliefs, which was at least bitterly amusing for some of us who were right from the beginning:
Wingnuts ask, "A key question -- with an unknowable answer -- is: How many Americans would have died in post-9/11 attacks if we had not chosen the path of fighting back?"
The answer is indeed unknowable, but given that Iraq had no substantial connection to Anti-American terrorism and posed no security threat whatsoever to the United States, the overwhelmingly likely answer is "zero." Whatever Iraq was, it wasn't "fighting back" against the Islamic radicals who actually attacked New York.
Someone needs to alert the wingbats that the Boy King himself has disavowed the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, even if Darth Cheney still has it in his stump speech.
If former president Carter died and the media went on and on about what a great guy he was, do you think there might be accusations of liberal bias thrown around just a bit by the wingnut brigade?
So what's with all of this Ford worship. Seems to me his notable "achievement" was pardoning Nixon, which the pundit crowd loves but everyone else in America hates. Kinda like the Iraq war. Atrios has more to say on this:
As we all know, because everybody on the teevee will keep repeating it, Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon was perhaps the wisest and awesomest thing anyone has ever done in the history of presidenting. Never mind that it wasn't popular at the time. Never mind that it set an awful precedent which led to the pardoning of the Iran Contra figures and transformed corrupt Nixonites into distinguished elder statesmen and Bush administration officials.
We are told again and again that what they nation needed was "to heal." That "the turmoil" needed to be over. That it was necessary to move on.
But these are the Wise Old Men talking, not of the country but of their beloved Washington. The turmoil was in their city, not in the country. While they speak as if they know what's best for us, in truth they simply know what's best for them.
If our next president is a Democrat, I hope he or she has the balls to NOT PARDON ANYONE who committed crimes related to the Iraq War. We DON'T need to put it all behind us. We need to learn from it so we don't do it again.
It goes without saying that if the next president is a Republican, he'll issue blanket pardons for the last eight years. For some, it'll be their second pardon in as many administrations.
So we had a huge turkey supper here at the house yesterday. Wonderful, as always. We were all laying around in a turkey stupor for a few hours after that, and I actually lost track of things so much that I forgot to turn on the Cowboy game until late in the 3rd quarter. Seems that was a blessing.
Our 14-year-old, Ashley, came downstairs about 3 hours after that big turkey supper that we had at maybe around 3:00 or 3:30 and asked, "Uh, what's for supper?" We all had a good laugh. I still can't believe how much food teenage kids can pile away and come back asking for more.
Well, the Cowboys blew another big home game in embarrassing fashion. I really doubt they can fix whatever is wrong with one game to go in the season, but it still looks like we'll get to open the playoffs at home, probably against Seattle. Should be a coin toss to see who gets to get killed in the 2nd round.
It'll be exciting to see them in the playoffs, but in my heart, I'm looking forward to a full year to see if Romo is for real and a full year without watching that idiot T. O. drop passes and give up on routes. I hope they don't resign that dope. Use the money to pick up someone solid.
Boy, the Giants looked like a bunch of quitters today against the Saints. I guess they don't do their little "lay-up" routine when they're getting their asses kicked. It was nice to see that New York fans can get the hell out of the stadium during a blowout just as fast as those shallow bandwagon Cowboy fans.
Still, amazingly, they (New York) could make the playoffs with a win at Washington next Saturday. I'm hoping New York loses, because if they do, that means Carolina would have something to play for when they (Carolina) go to New Orleans on Sunday. Dallas needs to take care of business tomorrow at home against the Eagles, then again next week against Detroit, then if New Orleans slips up, we have a pretty clear road to the NFC Championship game and getting killed in subzero weather at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Better than a first round road loss, I'll tell ya that much.
One advantage to having lots of relatives nearby is we get a few different gift unwrapping parties, including some early bird gifts. Got some good ones this year, including a portable 7" DVD player for the van, with car adaptor. Coulda used that on the Red River trip last year, but still, it will be nice to have.
I remember a couple of years ago when it was pointed out to the "liberal media" that there is a huge imbalance of guests on the talk shows. Republicans were outnumbering Democrats in appearance by some huge margin like 4-1 or 5-1. The excuse was given that, well, Republicans are the ones in power right now, so they get on the talk shows (this despite the fact that appearances were close to balanced back when Democrats controlled the White House and Congress prior to 1994).
So now I read the paper and find out that the top commanders in Iraq are suddenly in line with Bush's "surge" option, which is to add more troops and somehow that will magically make us "win". There have been some photo ops in Iraq with new Sec. of Defense Gates talking to the troops, but that's all it is, a photo op. Sorry, but four years on now, and I have to say I'm quite skeptical of this whole charade.
There are some options here about how to react to this story:
a) Believe that the troops and commanders have considered all the options, and a representative sample believes we need to send more troops to the region for an unspecified amount of time.
b) Believe that nobody really knows what to do for sure, but Bush asked the commanders to publicly support him so that he can say he's listening to their advice (important since Democrats are about to gain control of Congress and call military commanders before committees to state their opinions).
c) Believe that a representative sample of the military really wants to declare victory and go home or keep an "over the horizon" force handy in case terrorist camps pop up on satellite or some such. But they are not free to speak out in opposition to the Boy King.
I tend to go for b or c. Atrios says keep in mind the following:
CNN's running with the "soldiers want there to be more troops in Iraq" story. As I said I imagine some do. Maybe most do. I don't know. But Secretary of Defense Gates didn't talk to a bunch of random soldiers, he talked to a hand-picked group of soldiers whose hand-picked quotes just happened to jive with the president's message of the day. Those views may be representative, they may not, but I don't know, you don't know, and most importantly CNN doesn't know.
The whole claim of "liberal media" is kind of like "astrology". Most days, it is just a sad, harmless, easily disproven joke. Sometimes, though, when people rely on it to form their opinions about important matters in life, it can become quite malevolent.
And yeah, okay, that'll make all the astrology people mad, but this is a blog written by a scientist, so what do you expect? Besides, I've actually RUN the classic double-blind test of astrology (not to mention seen hundreds of students realize that, due to precession, they've been reading the "wrong" horoscope their whole lives, as if there were a "right" one) several times in a classroom setting, so I know it's crap first-hand.
Bob Somerby has some very wise words for liberals who are trying to judge whether or not Obama or Hillary are "likeable" or "authentic" in their various appearances on TV: STOP IT.
When we talk about what is “appealing” and authentic,” we enter extremely subjective territory. And oh yeah—we validate the type of discussion the mainstream press corps is eager to have. Once we allow this type of discussion, they can create any novel they want about who’s “authentic” and who isn’t. And surprise! As an upper-class and corporate institution, the press corps will increasingly tend to judge that Republican candidates seem “authentic”—and that the Dems do not.
Indeed, that’s precisely the way this group has called it in our last two White House campaigns—Bush and McCain were authentic straight-shooters, the hideous Gore and Kerry were not. As a general matter, they will continue to make such judgments—if we validate the type of discussion this addled crew hopes to have.
Having studied the 2000 race in detail, we cringe when intelligent liberals adopt the “authenticity” meme. That silly theme is the press corps’ meat. Once we let them start making such judgments, they’ll quickly craft the story they like—and whatever it is, they’ll recite it in unison. And again, their judgments—which will be too subjective to be meaningfully disputed—will tend to favor Republicans. Even now, with Bush having nearly destroyed the known world, they haven’t quite walked away from their “Republicans = authenticity” judgments. They will soon return to these themes in force—if we stoop to the silly place where they want our discourse to go.
Here at THE HOWLER, we don’t really have a favorite between Obama, Clinton, Edwards and others. We say this—let them battle it out. But it’s extremely easy to criticize Clinton (and Gore before her) for being somewhat guarded in public. During Campaign 2000, for example, why did Gore sometimes “seem to measure every word and gesture, calculating whether they will get him into trouble?” Simple! He seemed to do that because he had to—because, the way the game was being played, if he got one syllable out of place, the press corps would land on his head like a mountain, turning it into a vast referendum on his deeply disturbing lack of character.
Hillary Clinton has also had to play by these gong-show rules. She has absorbed an astonishing amount of abuse in the past fifteen years, and (like Gore) she has done a miraculous job of soldiering on despite it. Obama has not had to deal with such inanity—indeed, let’s hope he never has to. But it’s easy to maintain your “WTF” posture when the whole world is singing your praises. If you doubt that, observe Gore’s widely-remarked casual attitude in An Inconvenient Truth. That was not a “different” Al Gore, as fatuous pundits quickly judged. That was the same Al Gore—in a circumstance where he didn’t have to consider the pseudo-scandal that every pointless gesture could “cause.”
To this day, people like Rosenberg fail to grasp why Clinton and Gore have at times seemed “guarded.” In doing so, they fail to grasp the most elementary way our politics has worked in the past dozen years. For reasons we can’t begin to grasp, we liberals seem determined to do this. We can’t run fast enough to adopt themes our opponents have hatched.
If Dem and libs have an ounce of sense, we will resist the press corps’ desire to craft discussions about “authenticity.” It’s just a cover they adopt—one which lets them lower our discourse to the place where they can type their novels. And, as an upper-class, corporate cohort, they will always tend to say that the Republican is really the “authentic” person. If you’re a Democrat or a liberal, Hillary Clinton has died for your sins. That doesn’t mean she should be the nominee, but she deserves your respect, as does Gore. Each has taken a ton of shit—while our “liberal leaders” have stared into air.
Which of the hopefuls is most authentic? We have an answer to that: STFU! If we Democrats have an ounce of sense, we’ll steer the discussion toward serious topics—topics which are less subjective. In the past fifteen years, the public has generally agreed with Dems on the vast range of major issues. For that reason, Republicans wants to talk “authenticity”—and so does your script-reading press corps.
When the election is about issues and not some ginned-up "have a beer with me" personality shtick, Democrats win. That's why we have to keep the pressure on the lazy media to talk about issues.
I think I've got the 90-person 10k play chip tournament figured out at the Full Tilt site. My last seven tournaments, my finishing place out of 90 has been 4, 32, 3, 2, 2, 42, 1. Top half every time and in the money (top nine) five out of seven times.
The most recent win, I should've finished fourth, but I had 10-10 up against A-Q, and the flop was Q-8-8, but then I rivered a 10 to double up. Most tourneys, though, about the most luck I need is to win a coin flip or two along the way (and that's usually not for all my chips). Sometimes I catch a card, like if I'm chasing a flush, but I only do that if the price is right. I leave draws behind a LOT, and that's where I think the big difference is between me and much of the field.
I also try to make draws expensive for others when I flop two pair or trips, and most of the time when I get beat badly or knocked out, it is when someone hits a draw that they shouldn't have been chasing in the first place. Oh well, that's poker, and if someone wants to call a pot-sized bet (or more) for one last chance to hit their flush or open-ended straight draw, I'll give them that chance every time (and win four out of five of those hands).
Another thing that helps me is people don't pay attention to playing patterns at play money tables. I'm sure they get reads at the real money tables (which I don't think I'm good enough for yet), but for play money, I can play 1 non-blind hand out of 20, and yet when I raise 5x the big blind before the flop, several people will call with absolute junk. I always use the player notes feature to keep track of who is tight and who is stupid, etc. Apparently, not many people do.
Read the headline, then read the little headline on the other story circled in red below and to the left. Keep in mind how clearly that speaks to the mindset of the party that has been governing our country for the past six years.
They have a new feature on the poker site I use: you can convert play chips into cash, albeit indirectly. Every day now, there is a 500k play chip tournament, usually with anywhere from 35-50 entries, and the top 18 get paid $2 (2nd place $3, 1st place $5). I'm pretty good at tournaments, but even without that, usually if you just sit on your chip stack, you can survive while half the field kills itself.
In these tournaments, they play is a little tighter, but if you can just win a couple of hands without suffering any big losses, you're a lock to get paid, and that's not hard to do if you just sit and wait for the nuts.
Now 500k play chips is nothing to sneeze at. Not for me, anyway. The way play chips work is that everyone gets 1000 to start with that they can refill at most every five minutes. They can only refill if they go below 1000. So the very low play chip tables have people going all in all the time, waiting to hit one big. If they lose, they wait a few minutes and rebuy. If they win, they have 5k-10k, and they move up to the slightly less goofy tables, and so on. The low-limit play chip tables are poker's equivalent of quantum foam, which play chip bankrolls popping in and out of existence with every hand.
I used ring games to get up to about 30k play chips pretty quickly (okay, so I had to reload a few times), then I started entering tournaments. I built my stack up to about 200k through 2k and 10k play chip tourneys (90 players, top 9 paid), but then I started playing freerolls all the time and stopped messing around with play chips because there was really no point once there were so many freeroll tourneys to play.
So once the 500k play chip for money tourneys started, I built my stack up to about a million in a few days, and then I made the mistake of buying into two consecutive 500k tourneys (got paid for both). Problem is, I was back down to about 150k play chips, which is hard to multiply in tourneys and ring games because the variance is so big (one bad beat puts you down to 20k-50k).
Ever since, I've been trying to build back up, and I'm finally back to around 500k after two consecutive 2nd place finishes in 10k play chip tourneys (2nd place gets you 178k, 1st about 275k) plus some success at ring games (which I'm still not very good at, but I'm good enough to gain about 20k/hr over the long haul average in the higher limit ring games, with substantial variance).
With 500k chips, I can start entering the 100k play chip tourneys (which are tougher, but I still have enough success that I earn more faster than the 10k tourneys) or playing at higher limits (or playing looser at lower limits, enduring greater variance but usually faster chip gain overall). I figure if I can get up to 1.5m-2.0m, then that'll be a big enough bankroll that I can withstand the variance of playing 100k tourneys or bigger ring games all the time. If I can gain around 500k play chips every few days, then I can convert that to money and build my real bankroll.
That's now in the mid-20's because I blew about six bucks trying again at the nickel/dime ring game and playing badly. Won some of it back by finishing in the money in a Pot-Limit Omaha Hi freeroll yesterday. I've found the more I play in tourneys, the better I get, and the worse I get at ring games. Which is a bad sign for when I play in my brother's ring game again, but maybe I'll get lucky. Heh.
Very interesting post and comment thread over on PZ Myers' blog about horrible grad school experiences. Lots of people sharing war stories.
If you skip over all the whiny stories by those in the humanities, it's actually interesting reading, darkly humorous.
The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
I read this somewhere, but I can't remember where now: How likely is it that of all the people in the world, George W. Bush just happens to be the one who best understands what to do in Iraq? Seriously, how likely is that?
It reminds me of the time when Jon Stewart interviewed that idiot Dennis Miller on "The Daily Show". Miller is a big Bush defender, and he wastes his humorous talent making himself look like a buffoon, trying to present the wingnut troll viewpoint with a bunch of his patented hip references. Anyway, talking about Bush, Stewart asked Miller why Miller was defending Bush so stridently.
Miller responded (not surprisingly) with a line Bush himself often uses, that Bush is misunderstood and history will judge that Bush was doing the right thing, is a good guy, etc. "Kind of like the situation at the end of the World War II where we had an unpopular president fighting a war..." Miller said.
Jon blinked and looked incredulous, interrupting with, "You're comparing Bush to HARRY TRUMAN?" At this point, Stewart and the audience was just cracking up, and Miller, realizing just how deeply stupid he was, decided to laugh, too, like it was all a great big joke he was telling. In reality, Miller really thinks that way, but he didn't have the balls to tell people to stop laughing.
The idea of Bush being in charge of anything more than mapping out his next bike ride is a complete fucking joke. And we're going to be the butt of it for two more years. God help our troops, because Bush sure as hell won't.
I guess I was wrong about the Saints' schedule. They actually go on the road to play the Giants this weekend, and they are a slight dog. The Eagles come to visit the Cowboys, which is a nice Xmas present of a game, at 4pm on Xmas day. By the start of that game, we'll know if it is significant in terms of first-round bye or not. I love this time of year when the Cowboys are in it because every game is bigger and more important than the last game, which was incredibly huge, etc.
Xmas Xmas Xmas.
I just like saying Xmas at this time of year because it pisses off the random wingnut troll passing by who thinks there is a war on Xmas or some such bullshit.
I'd like to offer thanks to the rest of the NFC for running backwards as fast as they can to give the Cowboys another shot at the 2nd seed in the playoffs. The Saints lost to the freakin' Foreskins today, which served two purposes: if the Saints lose again, the Cowboys can get the #2 seed, and the Saints have two not-so-easy games left (hosting the Giants and at Carolina). The Cowboys just have to beat Philly and Detroit at home.
Beating Philly is going to be harder than I thought a couple of weeks ago, because Jeff Garcia is apparently playing really good in place of McNabb. I'm a big fan of the Giants right now. If they can beat Philly today, then Philly won't have anything to play for next week, then if the Giants can beat New Orleans next week, we're set for a bye.
Steven Brust has a blog! He's the guy who wrote most of my favorite books, the Vlad Taltos series and the Khaavren romances. I'm spending most of my spare reading time digging through his archives now, then I'll finish with Ken Levine's.
I have a pretty standard policy in all of the courses that I teach that saves myself some unnecessary grading and makes students very happy. Basically, what I do at the end of the semester is post an educated guess of what a certain student would get on a comprehensive final exam. Usually that guess is equal to the average score of their regular in-class exams.
I use that guess to project an overall final course grade, then I subtract some points (usually 5-6) from that score and call it the "exempt grade". If students wish to avoid taking the final, they can accept their "exempt grade" as their final course grade.
Normally, if a student is making, say, a 98% in my course, they would have to do worse than about a 65 or 70 on the final to drop their overall grade all the way down to a "B". Not likely to happen, plus I want to reward the student for trying so hard during the semester. This also helps students taking the course pass/fail who only need a "C" to pass. So if they have 82% going into the final, they would only need to score about a 20 on the final to keep their overall average above the 70 needed for a "C". Why make them do that and why make me grade it?
Anyway, since I started this policy several years ago, it has been wildly popular. The only drawback for me is that it leads to two grade boundary decisions rather than one, which means students have two opportunities for grade grubbing: either they just miss an exemption boundary (e.g. a projected grade of 95.2, which maps out to a B unless they take the final) or an overall grade boundary after they take the final.
This is easy to fix: I just up the exemption penalty from 4-5 points to 5-6 points, but then informally, it is still 4-5 points. And then I make the final pretty tough, so if they are within a few points of their goal, I feel okay about giving them the benefit of the doubt.
So today, I got an email from a student who was taking the exemption, but he was pretty mad that the exemption penalty was so high. "I've NEVER been penalized so heavily for taking a final exam exemption!" he huffed. I wrote back (truthfully) that this is the first time in five years someone has complained about my providing the exemption option, and I noted that there is a simple remedy to his problem: if you don't think the penalty is fair, feel free to take the final exam.
I guess this kid's high school must have been pretty easy about finals or something. I'll tell ya when I was an undergrad, I never would have written anything like that to a teacher! Kids these days! :)
So how the heck are the wingnuts supposed to keep busy these days? They just got hammered in an election, but Dems haven't done anything yet to bitch about.
Oh, I suppose they can get all ghoulish and speculate about the death of the guy from South Dakota, which would give them back control of the Senate (a bigger deal than the House due to confirmation hearings). But more fun is watching them tease out all these various and sundry conspiracy theories regarding the Clintons and Princess Diana. Glenn Greenwald has a very amusing commentary.
It's also interesting to note how many supposedly above-the-fray pundits have been involved in all of this. Thanks, liberal media!
Your ultra-liberal leftist Marxist socialist welfare-state-loving media today (you know, the "Clinton News Network") compared potential Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to the president of Iran.
It was just a joke, you understand. Don't you get it?
We liberals should be very proud to have such friends as these in the media. It's a wonder we ever lose any elections.
You'll have to excuse us hotheads for reacting strongly when we see these things because the last time the media decided to have "fun" and tell "jokes," this way, enough people believed them that it ended up changing the world in the most dramatic and violent way possible. We are in this mess today at least partly because these people failed to do their duty and approached their jobs as if it were a seventh grade slumber party instead of the serious business of the most powerful nation on earth.
I don't know what is wrong with them and their social construct that makes them so susceptible to this, or why they fail to see how this bias toward phony Republican machismo distorts political reporting, but it's a big problem for this country. Whatever their psychological or political motivations, we cannot take the chance that these narratives will go unchallenged again. Bad things happen. Wars. Torture. Dead people.
Somebody in this culture has got to be the sober, factual, reality based journalists and it only stands to reason that those who are trained and paid to be sober, factual, reality based journalists would fill that role. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are very good at political humor. (Even Dennis Miller is funnier than Greenfield.) The late night comics do a great job at skewering politicians. Leave them to it.
Until the mainstream press recognizes the extent of their laziness and gullibility --- or pay a price for their political bias --- we will keep reminding them and their audiences of their transgressions even if that makes us thin-skinned hotheads who are trying to fill blogposts. We all have our jobs to do.
...but I've had more students than ever this year asking me for advice on what to study for a comprehensive final exam.
What am I supposed to say?
Of course, for a few students who are really struggling to pass, I have half-jokingly mentioned to them that they might want to go back in time a few months and start attending class, taking good notes and visiting with me regularly to learn the material. Somehow, they don't seem to appreciate the humor in that like I do.
This is the first time the creator of Mallard Fillmore has ever gotten a laugh out of me. Oh, be sure to read the comments.
Ah, schadenfraude, how I love you.
Just when you thought we were good again, the Cowboys suffered their worst humiliation of the season. Even worse than the trash-talking Giants beating us at home on Monday night and shooting fake layups everywhere. The Saints came in here looking like the mid-90's Super Bowl Cowboys and put a whooping on the Cowboys the likes of which they haven't endured all season. I mean, they had to let off the gas before the 4th quarter began just to keep us from further humiliation.
I hope the Cowboys learn more about how to improve than other teams will learn about how to beat us by watching that film. I still think we ought to win out. The next three games get progressively easier (Atlanta on the road, Philly at home, Detroit at home), so we should finish at the top of the division, 11-5. No first round bye unless New Orleans collapses (seems unlikely) and Seattle keeps screwing up, but we should at least get a first-round home game (that we should win) before we get executed at Soldier Field or the Superdome.
Oh well, playoffs is better than no playoffs. And if Romo is for real, the next few years look good whether Parcells stays or not.
This Kos diarist has a very good statement of my general feelings about getting out of Iraq, parallels with Vietnam, etc.
Atrios has a crackling good observation today. Basically, the philosophy of the Bush Administration is that they really don't care about winning Iraq. They just don't want to be proven wrong about it. They are comforted by the fact that the ISG couldn't figure out what to do to make things better.
Nevermind it is the administration that got us into this horrible mess. All they care about is "losing face". Meanwhile, wingnuts continue to plaster their SUV's with "W" stickers and "Support the Troops" magnets while our soldiers die or come back incapacitated mentally or physically at an ever-increasing rate.
This is a perfect example of how the wingnut media machine works. See, the Iraq Study Group is basically a group of old guys who are Washington insiders, mostly conservative, all staunchly pro-war prior to the Iraq war. They say it is bi-partisan, but they only include the most conservative, pro-war "serious" Democrats.
So nobody in their right mind would call this group "balanced" or "centrist", not when they exclude anti-war voices as they have, at the very least.
But look what happens when the report comes out. Suddenly the wingnuts are jumping down the ISG's throats, saying they're just a bunch of surrender monkeys who are making the Boy King look bad. Doesn't matter that the ISG is just stating the obvious, that everything is bad and getting worse, and doesn't even have a withdrawal timetable, so Bush is free to interpret it as pretty much in line with his "leaving = losing" strategy, which means we'll never leave.
By attacking it and staking out a position even further to the right (i.e. time to invade Iran and Syria, nevermind with what army), suddenly the ISG becomes the "center", and those of us who have been right from the beginning are the crazy, angry left.
I can only hope that Dems can generate some headlines with Congressional investigations, just so the media has something else to report on besides what Republicans are saying and doing, because that's designed the make Dems look bad every time.
Regarding the whole Iraq war thing ... how about a damned apology at some point, eh?
You've got to hand it to Atrios. He *totally* predicted this almost word-for-word:
President Bush met the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's proposals for an urgent course change in Iraq with skepticism Thursday, raising doubts that the group's approach will become a blueprint for U.S. policy.
While welcoming the group's effort, Bush appeared to reject its call for diplomatic outreach to Iran and Syria. He said he's awaiting his own review of Iraq strategy, which is being conducted at the White House, Pentagon and State Department, before ordering any policy changes.
He announced that he plans to give a major speech this month outlining a new strategy for Iraq once the administration's reviews are complete.
Asked whether he's capable of changing course in Iraq, Bush replied, "I think you're going to have to pay attention to my speech coming up here when I get all the recommendations in, and you can answer that question yourself."
Bush made it clear that he plans to pick and choose among the group's 79 recommendations.
"Congress isn't going to accept every recommendation in the report, and neither will the administration," he said at a White House news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Just a reminder from yesterday's post:
The point of producing such a plan isn't to produce a plan, it's to try to achieve a desirable outcome. But the magic plan isn't going to be implemented in totality. Instead it will, at best, be implemented piecemeal.
So the right question isn't: Will Plan Points A-Z achieve Peak Pony?
The right question is: Will Plan Points A, J, K, R, U, the ones Bush and Cheney are likely to implement, bring us any closer to Peak Pony?
If the answer is no, then all you've managed to do is continue to enable a set of destructive policies.
The newspaper article continues:
Hours earlier, study group co-chairmen James A. Baker III and Lee Hamilton told a Senate committee that the plan they released Wednesday must be implemented as a package -- and urgently.
Yeah, good luck with all that. Of course, Baker knows the plan won't be implemented as a package, and so of course he has that fact to fall back on when things get worse. "Oh well," he'll say along with the other Wise Old Men of Washington, "We tried to tell them what's best, but they wouldn't listen."
No, that's not what you tried to do. You simply tried to provide political cover for the stupid "centrist" Wise Old Men who have been wrong about the whole Iraq situation from the very beginning but continue to live in denial while shutting out anti-war voices from the debate.
It has not been a pretty sight on Capitol Hill in the waning hours of Republican control.
Once-powerful lawmakers have been shown the door at their own offices, forced to crowd in a basement or other nooks to finish their work, if not their careers. The usual backslapping has given way to back pats as colleagues try to comfort losers who will soon be going home.
Some whiny Republicans are complaining about the new Democratic rules in Congress, which are that Congresscritters will work full work weeks instead of 2-3 days a week:
"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families — that's what this says."
I wonder what Kingston's position is on the Iraq war? You don't suppose he thinks we need to keep the troops over there "until we win", do you? You think he cares about the effect this war is having on military families? At least Kingston gets to *see* his family once in a while.
Atrios has this reaction to the Iraq Study Group report:
Let's stipulate that the ISG plan is the Best Plan Evah, that if implemented in all of its particulars we would achieve a state of Peak Pony in Iraq within a year. Not that I believe this, of course, but lets stipulate it for sake of discussion.
The problem is that things like this are doomed to failure because not enough consideration is given to the most likely outcome: Bush and Cheney pick and choose their favorite bits and ignore the stuff they don't like.
The point of producing such a plan isn't to produce a plan, it's to try to achieve a desirable outcome. But the magic plan isn't going to be implemented in totality. Instead it will, at best, be implemented piecemeal.
So the right question isn't: Will Plan Points A-Z achieve Peak Pony?
The right question is: Will Plan Points A, J, K, R, U, the ones Bush and Cheney are likely to implement, bring us any closer to Peak Pony?
If the answer is no, then all you've managed to do is continue to enable a set of destructive policies.
And the stipulation that this is a great plan is pretty far-fetched. Consider this fact from Russ Feingold, one of the few people in Congress willing to stand up to the war in Iraq before it started:
The fact is this commission was composed apparently entirely of people who did not have the judgment to oppose this Iraq war in the first place, and did not have the judgment to realize it was not a wise move in the fight against terrorism. So that's who is doing this report.
Then I looked at the list of who testified before them. There is virtually no one who opposed the war in the first place. Virtually no one who has been really calling for a different strategy that goes for a global approach to the war on terrorism. So this is really a Washington inside job and it shows not in the description of what's happened - that's fairly accurate - but it shows in the recommendations.
It's been called a classic Washington compromise that does not do the job of extricating us from Iraq in a way that we can deal with the issues in Southeast Asia, in Afghanistan, and in Somalia which are every bit as important as what is happening in Iraq. This report does not do the job and it's because it was not composed of a real representative group of Americans who believe what the American people showed in the election, which is that it's time for us to have a timetable to bring the troops out of Iraq.
Ken Levine has a blog, I discovered recently. He's a comedy writer for lots of different TV shows, including "MASH", "Cheers" and "Frasier", and he's very talented. He also did "color" for the Mariners one or two seasons while I lived up there, and I thought he did a great job. He wrote a book about the announcer experience that I really enjoyed. A very different kind of baseball book because it isn't the perspective of a former player or coach but instead the announcer. I recommend it if you can find it hiding in a used bookstore somewhere.
A trilogy that has been mildly recommended to me by several people over many years is Elizabeth Moon's "The Deed of Paksenarrion", so I finally bought it from Amazon in omnibus format and plowed through it over the past month. Overall, it was really solid.
The series follows a peasant girl named Paksenarrion who runs off to join a mercenary company to escape an arranged marriage. She's tough and has some experience and knowledge from brothers who are veterans, so it isn't exactly a lark. The first novel is all about her adventures in this mercenary company, and the attention to detail and the soldier's life was reminiscent of Harry's Turtledove's Krispos/Videssos series that I reviewed a while back or some of Glen Cook's Black Company series, though not as gripping as the first few books of that series.
By the end of the first novel, she is starting to outgrow the mercenary company, and she is getting hints that she is destined for something more, so she sort of goes off to pursue that in the second book, to see what she should become. She is a good fighter with a very pure heart and so she naturally gravitates to the role of a paladin. In this world, paladins have powers bestowed by a group of demi-god like ancestors who are part legend, part real, the lower part of a hierarchy of good vs evil deities.
In the last book, she more or less completes her journey to becoming a paladin and pursues various quests (or a single quest with various parts) that she feels compelled by her patron gods to undertake. Like most good stories, this one has quite a few unexpected twists, most of which I'm sure appear here and there in the fantasy trilogy genre. Paksenarrion (Paks) is a fun character to follow around. I've always enjoyed role-playing paladins and the like in my younger days, and it is neat to see one wholly envisioned here.
There is a scene (usually extended to several pages, at least) in each of the three novels in which Paks endures some horrible thing, whether it is a beating, imprisonment or torture (which goes in about three times longer than I thought was necessary in the last book) or something like it. The sequence of terrible events follows Paks around for quite a long while in the second book, but that was a little easier to swallow. I was relieved, though, when the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was finally visible.
One thing Moon does *not* do is go into a whole lot of detail about her world. Unlike most Tolkien-esque fantasy, the map provided here is rudimentary and more or less useless. Oh, there are elves, dwarves, orcs, gnomes, mages, druids, etc. just like any D&D inspired novel, (this is definitely a big step-up in quality from that), but Moon doesn't usually dwell on them or the landscape. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the 2nd book involves Paks getting stuck following an arrogant, ne'er-do-well half-elf around, who is decidedly *not* an elf of the Tolkien style. They are just props for the story about Paks and the few people around her or important in her life at any given time.
This is also not some kind of romance. In fact, I'd say Paks is an interesting female character in that she is completely asexual, which is a real departure for a genre geared toward attracting teenage boys and their hormones. What should attract the kids in this case is a solid fantasy story. It doesn't put Moon in my top five or even top ten authors, but she's in the next tier.
Best appreciated if you have a little boy:
"I'm sorry I pooped in you, Tow Mater!"
You may not be aware of this, but a religious fanatic suicide bomber decided to mark the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001 by crashing a into a building, hoping to blow the car up and destroy the building in the process.
This happened on American soil (in Iowa).
Why did you not hear about this? I mean, if this had been a Muslim trying to carry out jihad against America, I imagine this would have been run through the 24/7 wringer, after which we would all need to submit to optical scans before being allowed to drive vehicles near buildings.
Turns out, though, it was a Christian fanatic trying to destroy an abortion clinic. And it was reported nationwide by exactly one newspaper.
Ahhh, corporate media. What a wonderful world we live in.
What a tense, ugly, NFC East style classic. The Giants (like all NFC East teams) have a way of making the Cowboys look awful, but the Cowboys made the Giants look just a little more awful and won 23-20. This looked just like the awful loss at Washington from a few weeks ago right up until the very last second when we won.
Last week, the Cowboys released the "Greatest Kicker of All Time" Mike Vanderjagt after a relatively inconsistent season. I didn't necessarily think that was warranted, but I guess the coaches know more than I do. I didn't think they improved the situation, though, by signing the old washup Gramatica, who hasn't kicked for like three years.
His first FG attempt of 44 yards (short and right, never had a chance) confirmed my worst fears. But after that, he made three including a huge, clutch 46 yard field goal with six seconds left. I can't imagine Vanderjagt making three out of four of those or better in a big game, so I guess it was a good move in the end. It must feel good to be Gramatica tonight, one last blaze of glory.
Romo was ordinary in the stats today, but his biggest accomplishment was avoiding at least three or four sacks that the Giants should've had, not to mention hitting Tight End Jason Witten in stride for 44 yards on the last drive to set up the field goal. I guess as long as we don't have to play New York again, Romo should be fine.
What a great win. This is one of those games I will enjoy a lot more remembering it now that it is over. It was just so tense watching it during the game and would've been a gut-wreching loss.
P.S. I'd like to thank the Giants for making one huge coaching mistake just like the Danny White era Cowboys used to do: going East-West on fourth and short instead of North-South. I would love to be a fly on the wall of the trash-talking Giants locker room tonight.
Cowboys-Giants today. Unfortunately, most of the "sports experts" around here are saying the Cowboys are invincible and should steamroll the disorganized and injured Giants. That's usually a sign that we're about to lose and everyone will cry about how the season is now over (witness the discussion and turnaround the LAST time we played the Giants). No predictions here. I have absolutely no idea what will happen, but I can't wait to watch.
So it looks like now that Democrats are about to be back in control of Congress, the Republicans have decided that this lame-duck session is the perfect time to start introducing anti-abortion legislation.
When it has no chance to pass.
So they've controlled Congress for, what, 12 years and only now thought to bring this up?
For our five year anniversary, M*chelle and I are going to leave all five kids at the mercy of our mothers while we go off to the coast for three days and two nights in early January. Port Aransas. Should be a lot of fun. I just hope the weather cooperates so we can spend a lot of time outside.
I've really been enjoying playing the freerolls at Full Tilt lately. Today while I was answering a bunch of student emails, I was multitasking and playing in the daily Omaha hi pot limit tournament. After some initial frustration figuring out the game, I've gotten into a groove. These tournaments have 1800 people, and the top 27 get paid. I've made it to the final 200 or so probably 75% of the time the past two weeks, and I've made it to the money three times out of about 12. Today, I finished third and won $9, so now my bankroll (solely from finishing in the money in freerolls) is $25.
It should be $26, but I spent one dollar a long while ago on a $1 tournament and didn't finish in the money there. When my bankroll was at about $10, I tried my hand at the limit ring game where the level was 25/50 cents, and I got up to about $25 before it whittled back down to $10, and that's when I stopped playing. I've decided to just stick to tournaments, which I am definitely better at than ring games. When I have more free time over the holidays, I will try my hand at some of the cash tournaments. We'll see how different they are from the freerolls (I imagine I have a lot of learning to do).
Just for fun the other night, because I missed the brief time window to sign up for a freeroll, I played in a couple of play money tournaments at the same time. I won the one with 18 players, then came in third with the one for 90 players. I've got about 400k play money now, and they are starting to open up tournaments for people with over a million, so I hope to climb up to that point soon through tournaments if not through play money ring games.