Archive for June, 2010

Consumerist Dialectics

21:29 29 Jun 2010

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

FIFA and Refereeing

23:57 28 Jun 2010

Since I last mentioned the World Cup, a mere three days ago, there have been a further two major officiating controversies, each altering significantly the matches they occurred in.


Permalink     3 Comments     [, , ]    

Wimbledon 2010 Midpoint Notes

15:08 27 Jun 2010

For all the drama in this tournament, most of the big names have survived into the second week. Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Roddick, and Söderling are all still in it, while on the women’s side both Williams sisters, Wozniacki, and Jankovic, the top four, are still in, as are Sharapova, Henin, and Clijsters (although those last two play each other next).

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

World Cup 2010 Musings

23:23 25 Jun 2010

About halfway through the 2010 World Cup, and it’s been all right so far. The refereeing has been fairly bad, and as usual is one of the worst things about watching the games. The other awful thing is closely related to the refereeing, and can be sampled in this MetaFilter post about diving.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , ]    


23:33 24 Jun 2010

Those numbers are the points for John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, respectively, in their ludicrously epic first-round Wimbledon match, the longest professional tennis match in history (by some margin) either by total games or total time. Twice suspended due to darkness, the match ended today, 6–4, 3–6, 6–7 (7), 7–6 (3), 70–68 to Isner.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Late Paleo Challenge Entry

22:11 22 Jun 2010

The rest of my CrossFit gym started a month-long paleo diet last week. I didn’t want to try to go strict paleo while restricted to soft food, so my month started yesterday. Naturally, there’s a penalty for straying: 100 burpee pullups (as unpleasant as you might think).

Permalink     5 Comments     [, , , ]    

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

23:57 21 Jun 2010

I’m not a fan of the Harry Potter series. I’ve only read the first one, didn’t particularly like it, and it’s not my kind of fantasy series.

I’m not a fan of fan fiction, despite technically having written some. I regard it as being of dubious quality, despite knowing perfectly well that it’s not more likely to be bad than anything else.

Nevertheless, I was, and remain, captivated by a particular piece of Harry Potter fan fiction: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Its twist is that its Harry is a hyper-rationalist genius. You should go read it now.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , ]    

The Tenets of Injustice

21:39 20 Jun 2010. Updated: 16:03 03 Sep 2010

This excerpt gives an excellent summary of our current state of affairs:

The five tenets of injustice are that: elitism is efficient, exclusion is necessary, prejudice is natural, greed is good and despair is inevitable. Because of widespread and growing opposition to the five key unjust beliefs, including the belief that so many should now be ‘losers’, most of those advocating injustice are careful with their words. And those who believe in these tenets are the majority in power across almost all rich countries. Although many of those who are powerful may want to make the conditions of life a little less painful for others, they do not believe that there is a cure for modern social ills, or even that a few inequalities can be much alleviated. Rather, they believe that just a few children are sufficiently able to be fully educated and only a few of those are then able to govern; the rest must be led. They believe that the poor will always be with us no matter how rich we are. They have also come to believe that most others are naturally, perhaps genetically, inferior to them. And many of this small group believe that their friends’ and their own greed is helping the rest of humanity as much as humanity can be helped; they are convinced that to argue against such a counsel of despair is foolhardy. It is their beliefs that uphold injustice.

—1–2 Injustice. Danny Dorling. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2010. ISBN: 9781847424266.

(Via Leninology.) I’m impressed enough to order the book.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

How to get Help from a Crowd

18:56 18 Jun 2010

If you ever find yourself in serious need of help from people around you in a public place, follow these instructions:

  • Make explicit that you need help.
  • Make a request for help from a specific person, and call them out by pointing at them and addressing them by some characteristic that makes them stand out.
  • Make very clear what they should do.

Say something like “Help! You with the green pants, I need help, call [the police/an ambulance/etc.]”.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

An Entirely Naturalistic Palette

18:58 17 Jun 2010

Apparently the recent Hollywood trend is to shade everything teal and orange. I hope it doesn’t now drive me nuts whenever I watch a movie.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, ]    

Tweets on Film

22:45 15 Jun 2010

Twitter: The Criterion Collection from sween on Vimeo.

My favorite is about 01:30 in (this should make clear why if it’s not already).

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Retitling for the SEO Age

22:11 14 Jun 2010

Genius from McSweeney’s. (My answers for what the originals are, after the jump.)

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , ]    

The Failure of Anti-Public Energy Proposition 16

18:28 13 Jun 2010

Proposition 16 was the most important initiative on the ballot in California last Tuesday. It was funded more or less entirely by PG&E, in an attempt to make it harder for municipalities to start their own public power utilities.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

The Platform of the Maine Republican Party

18:00 11 Jun 2010

I came across this via slacktivist, and it makes for interesting reading. Much of it is laughable, including some dubious capitalization and article use. Perhaps surprisingly, I agree with significant portions of it—although this might be due to my and their meaning different things when using the same words…

For example, the final line (and the one that slacktivist discusses) is “Repeal and prohibit any participation in efforts to create a one world government.” I’m all for it. But when I look at the world, the most likely candidate for “OWG” is the nation with military bases in at least 63 countries, which I somehow doubt is what the Maine Republicans are talking about.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , ]    

Ralph Macchio/Karate Kid Couplet

23:39 10 Jun 2010

The latter video has been going around recently, but I prefer the first one.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Best in Life/The Greatest Joy?

23:38 08 Jun 2010

These are arguably the most famous lines from Conan the Barbarian:

Khitan General: What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!

Random browsing recently led me to learn that this was inspired by the words of Genghis Khan.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , , ]    

A Tale of Mario

23:22 07 Jun 2010
Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Nadal Wins Fifth French Open

09:21 06 Jun 2010

Robin Söderling, after knocking out the defending champion, was again unable to put up much resistance in the final. This match had a different pattern from last year’s final; this year, Söderling had important chances early but could not break the Nadal serve, and once those early chances were gone they didn’t reappear.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Marginal Advantage in Game Design

18:39 04 Jun 2010

I was impressed by this article on marginal advantage by Sean Plott, who among other things is a high-level competitive Starcraft player. It discusses some more general points, suggesting that “a good competitive game should test a player’s skills and minimize the element of chance”, which I agree with, despite my long interest in Magic: The Gathering.

I also agree with his corollary that in a good competitive game, “the probability of a weak player defeating a good player should be as close to zero as possible”. Notions of “weak” and “good” players here should be as diverse as possible.

I’m not sure how this applies to tennis, the game I’m currently most interested in, but the winner of the match is often not the player with superior strokes.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , ]    

Federer’s Semifinal Streak Over

20:58 03 Jun 2010

One of the most amazing streaks in sports history ended Tuesday, when Robin Söderling beat Roger Federer in the French Open quarterfinals. 23 straight appearances in semifinals or better. The last time Federer failed to make the semifinals of a Grand Slam was at the French Open in 2004. Six years ago. Near the end of George W. Bush’s first term.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

A Year of CrossFit

22:38 01 Jun 2010

I started CrossFit proper (i.e. non-intro classes) one year ago. Since then I’ve tried to go five times per week, and mostly succeeded. I’m in so much better shape now it’s a little ridiculous.

I had struggled for years to find some fitness program I could stick with, never managing it. Now I’m determined to keep doing CrossFit, or something very like it, as long as I am able.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , ]