Thursday, September 6, 2012


As you may have noticed, I have not been blogging.  I literally have no time.  Too many obligations prevent me from blogging, so I'm unfortunately going to retire from this site.  Hopefully, I'll be able to restart my blogging in the future because it's been a good experience.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Obama defeats Dewey (j/k)

Anyone familiar with the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline (about the 1948 presidential race that Truman in fact won) will appreciate this photo:


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Profile of 'Fox & Friends'

There is an interesting profile of Fox & Friends, the highest rated cable-news morning show, in The New York Times.  The profile focuses on the role that the show plays in the conservative community and its tense relationship with the White House.  This paragraph in particular stood out to me:
Critics of the show include not just Democrats and comedy outlets like “Saturday Night Live,” but reporters, producers and executives at Fox. Ask them what they think privately, and they will often roll their eyes and mention some embarrassing mishap, like the time Steve Doocy, one of three hosts, insisted in 2007 that the president was raised Muslim.
That Fox reports look down on the show is a touch surprising, but I wish that the Times could have gotten a quote or two to back this up, even if it was off-the-record.  I think it would have added a bit more substance to this piece. 


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vote for the man or the party?

Roberto Unger, professor at the Harvard Law School, declared that Obama needs to be defeated for having failed to pursue a progressive agenda.  Gary Wills, writing in the New York Review of Books, aptly responds:
Obama was never a prince. None of them are. The mistake behind all this is a misguided high-mindedness that boasts, “I vote for the man, not the party.” This momentarily lifts the hot-air balloon of self-esteem by divorcing the speaker from political taintedness and compromise. But the man being voted for, no matter what he says, dances with the party that brought him, dependent on its support, resources, and clientele. That is why one should always vote on the party, instead of the candidate. The party has some continuity of commitment, no matter how compromised. What you are really voting for is the party’s constituency. That will determine priorities when it comes to appointments, legislative pressure, and things like nominating Supreme Court justices.

A visual guide to all the planets

There is a neat little visual representation of all the known planets at xkcd.  Check it out.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Civilization II

This is seriously one of the most epic things I have ever read.  This reddit user has been playing the same saved game of Civilization II for ten years.  Ten years!  How cool!  (I've played many times.)  He describes the state of the world in 3991 A.D.:
There are 3 remaining super nations in the year 3991 A.D, each competing for the scant resources left on the planet after dozens of nuclear wars have rendered vast swaths of the world uninhabitable wastelands.
The ice caps have melted over 20 times (somehow) due primarily to the many nuclear wars. As a result, every inch of land in the world that isn't a mountain is inundated swamp land, useless to farming. Most of which is irradiated anyway.
Equally worse, democracy has collapsed:
The only governments left are two theocracies and myself, a communist state. I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vikings did. This would delay my attack and render my turn and often my plans useless. And of course the Vikings would then break the cease fire like clockwork the very next turn. Something I also miss in later civ games is a little internal politics. Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire. But of course the people hate me now and every few years since then, there are massive guerrilla (late game barbarians) uprisings in the heart of my empire that I have to deal with which saps resources from the war effort.
If you've ever played civ, then you too would sympathize with this guy's plight.  I generally couldn't stand to play after nuking and global warming hit the game; it was too aggravating to watch my civilization die a diseased and irradiated death.  I preferred to build a successful, scientifically-advanced culture.  Sure, I'd colonize new lands and fight the occasional war, but I was rarely interested in total world conquest (or death).  I guess I just wanted to be a new Canada or Switzerland.

Anyway, I hope this guy succeeds in his final goal:
My goal for the next few years is to try and end the war and thus use the engineers to clear swamps and fallout so that farming may resume. I want to rebuild the world. But I'm not sure how. If any of you old Civ II players have any advice, I'm listening.


P.S.  A lot of reddit commentators have suggest that this sounds like 1984.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New York's Jewish community is growing

Demographic changes do not always make for exciting headlines, but I thought this story in The New York Times was worth mentioning.  New York's Jewish population is evidently growing at a fast pace.  Moreover, the greatest increases are among the city's Orthodox and Russian-speaking Jews.  From the Times:
After decades of decline, the Jewish population of New York City is growing again, increasing to nearly 1.1 million, fueled by the “explosive” growth of the Hasidic and other Orthodox communities, a new study has found. It is a trend that is challenging long-held notions about the group’s cultural identity and revealing widening gaps on politics, education, wealth and religious observance.
Those findings, contained in the first authoritative study of the city’s Jewish population in nearly a decade, challenges the entrenched image of Jews as liberal, affluent and well educated. Over the last decade wealthy, Ivy League graduates like those on the Upper West Side have increasingly lost population share relative to Orthodox groups, like the Hasidic population in Brooklyn, where college degrees are rare and poverty rates have reached 43 percent.