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Friday, August 8, 2008

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 8/9-10

All times PDT.

2-1 PM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, soccer, shooting, badminton, fencing, equestrian, beach volleyball, basketball, and weightlifting, including the awarding of shooting and weightlifting medals (USA). Same on both coasts. According to NBC's olympic site, "the first gold medal awarded at the Beijing Games could come in" either the shooting or weightlifting events. Aren't they both scheduled for a certain time? Could you not just look at the schedule?

1-3 PM: Little League Baseball, Senior League Softball World Series (ESPN2). No, they're not just making random shit up to tide people over for the big shebang.

3-5:30 PM: IndyCar Racing, IndyCar 300 at Kentucky (ESPN2). A moment of silence for the IRL's impending move to Versus.

7-10 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 87 (PPV). So it turns out the UFC does space out its PPVs after all. I apologize for suggesting otherwise. Interferes with Olympic primetime coverage on the West Coast.

11-11 AM: Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, basketball, tennis, soccer, archery, and weightlifting, including the awarding of medals in archery and two in weightlifting (USA). Same on both coasts (if that causes a problem, coverage is on NBC from 12:30 to 6 AM). Because real men stay up all night watching the Olympics!

11-4 PM: PGA Golf, PGA Championship, final round (CBS). If golf were to become part of the Olympics, what would happen to the PGA Championship?

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs (ESPN). Hey, I need to get baseball in somewhere. I should have NBC's primetime coverage next week.

11-1:30 AM: Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, boxing and tennis (CNBC). NBC has said that they're putting stuff on CNBC that fits with its male demographic. Um... not the UFC, bloodlust-filled male demographic... more like the wimpy, pass-the-caviar, rich-snob demographic...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

An update, but not really.

Last weekend I attended a relative's wedding, and at the time I considered making a post about the experience, but most of my thoughts were gone by the time I got home. I did get street sign pictures from it though. They'll be up on the web site when Freehostia can get its new file manager to work the way it wants to.

New poll asks whether you think the label list clutters up the sidebar too much. I thought it did, at the expense of Da Blog Poll and other things below it, but some of what I write is so long it might not matter.


So I stayed up until after 3 AM just to try and get my computer to settle down enough to get my Truth Court demonstration up, a half hour after that to get the strip up, and a half hour after that to get this up.

I made an error in the strip that has nothing to do with the lack of sleep, because I made this strip back in February.

As I learned, well, I guess last night now (a guy just ran by apparently delivering newspapers and it's not yet 4), the Opening Ceremonies do not start at 8:08:08 AM Chinese time.

They start at 8:08:08 PM Chinese time.

Which means I could have run today's strip on 8/08/08, instead of the less pretty 8/07/08.

Oh well.

Savidge v. Obama: Liar? Maybe, but not exactly for the reasons claimed.

Full announcement of Truth Court forthcoming, and an apology to anyone who comes here for more light-hearted reasons, but the reason that, as I indicated in a previous post, I had subscribed to both Media Matters and Newsbusters was because they both serve the important role of keeping the mainstream media in check from opposite perspectives. I heartily recommend that anyone concerned about the truth and able to devote the time to it read both.

Part of what I had in mind with Truth Court was looking at the cases where Media Matters and Newsbusters contradict each other, and it's somewhat surprising that the first such case would be... this segment airing Wednesday afternoon on MSNBC:

First, the matter of the advertisement(s) they're talking about:

The Obama ad turns out to have a problem of its own: McCain hasn't actually received $2 million from oil companies. The ad cites both the Center for Responsive Politics and a Washington Post report, and according to, the Obama campaign used the Post's report of $1.1 million from oil and gas companies in June alone, and added that to the CRP's figure of $1 million total from oil and gas companies prior to that. (It's worth noting that it's illegal for corporations themselves to contribute to political campaigns, so these figures are actually coming from people in the oil and gas industries.) If it seems suspicious that McCain would receive as much from oil and gas companies in one month than in his entire campaign prior to that, it is. The former figure, it seems, actually went to a fundraising effort that sent money to various places, including the McCain campaign (how much went to McCain is unknown) and the RNC. If Obama wanted to use one consistent figure for McCain's haul from oil and gas companies through June, he could have used numbers through July from the CRP, which show McCain receiving $1.3 million from people in the oil and gas industry. Last I checked, that doesn't round to $2 million.

If this were anything more than a demonstration of what I hope to do with Truth Court, I would be sending e-mails to the Obama campaign trying to find out if they knew they were making an apples and oranges comparison and if they knew they could have used more accurate and recent figures. But I'm not making those calls because I don't have any credibility whatsoever and I don't have that kind of time.

I'm also not making those e-mails because that's not the point of what has Media Matters in a tizzy and Newsbusters in a fit of jubilation: Martin Savidge asking "isn't [Obama] a bit of a liar?" because "Obama's getting that same money" from people in the oil and gas industries. Indeed, according to the CRP Obama has received $394,465 from people in the oil and gas industries. Newsbusters claims that's "hardly a difference for Obama to get huffy about", blithely ignoring the fact that McCain thus makes more than triple the amount from oil and gas company people than Obama does. On the other hand, Media Matters may be reaching a bit by claiming that Obama thus "does not 'get that same money'." He does get some oil and gas money, and in fact has criticized him before for claiming during the primaries not to take any money from oil and gas interests. The difference between the candidates is dramatized when you consider that McCain has been raking in significantly less overall than Obama, but still, FactCheck calculates that oil and gas money make up .92% of McCain's total and .12% of Obama's - a drop in the bucket for both candidates. (So maybe Media Matters and Newsbusters don't actually contradict each other, but they certainly have opposite implications and conclusions.)

Again, if this was anything more than a demonstration I would be delving deeper into the numbers to see how that .92% figure compares with other candidates, including other presidential candidates and the two Bush-Cheney runs in 2000 and 2004 (the Obama ad says "after one president in the pocket of Big Oil" - Bush - "we can't afford another"). But the CRP's is kind of a hard web site to pull data from elections other than 2008 from, and I still don't have a real internet connection or a real battery, and on top of those problems my computer for some reason started deciding to have hourly coughing fits that eventually became one continuous coughing fit where it was continuously doing something that I was never quite able to verify for certain what it was. (The hard drive light is still blinking a lot and it's still struggling to do just about anything to the point that I can get about one page loaded each time I head out to poach some Internet bandwidth on my limited battery life.)

Verdict: So is Obama a liar? Throwing two very different numbers together to produce one big number, and making an apples-and-oranges comparison in the process, certainly looks unseemly, and I'm tempted to proclaim Obama guilty whether he knowingly chased the largest number he could get away with or not. But that doesn't necessarily mean I would award anything to Savidge. The gist of his statement seems to be that Obama is a liar by calling McCain the candidate of oil companies. You can't call Obama the candidate of oil companies, as outlined above, and it's true that McCain has received more than twice as much from the oil and gas industry as the next heaviest hauler, Rudy Giuliani. So to the extent those industries have a favored candidate it appears to be McCain, though how much of his oil and gas haul came before he became the presumptive Republican nominee, and how much of both candidates' hauls came after Obama and the media both started acting like the former was the Democratic nominee, I wouldn't know.

But does that mean McCain is the oil industries' lapdog? Certainly they like his offshore drilling plan, but according to FactCheck the ad's claim of a $40 billion-plus tax break for oil companies is actually part of McCain's plan for a broad overall reduction of the corporate tax rate. And on a percentage basis McCain would only lose a little less than one percent of his funding if it weren't for oil and gas companies - .8 percent, if we take Obama's haul as a baseline percentage - though I haven't compared that to another favorite target for being in the pocket of oil companies, Bush.

Obama: Probably guilty of something, but not enough evidence to convict. Savidge is innocent of the charge by Media Matters that his statement was "baseless", when taken by itself, but guilty if you hold him against the implications and probable intention of his statement, that Obama is at least as much the candidate of oil companies as McCain, which is ridiculous on its face.

If you have some of the evidence I wished for above, or if you have completely new evidence that might sway my opinion, submit an appeal in the comments or to mwmailsea at yahoo dot com.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Random Internet Discovery of the Week

I have no idea what this is.

Bonus Internet Discovery forthcoming.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quickly typed in a closing library...

Very quick check-in.

I will post a Random Internet Discovery tomorrow, but I have a LOT on my plate. I need to do something to find a job this week and my schedule is all out of whack after I went to the wedding of a relative's AND ill-advisedly subscribed to RSS feeds from both Media Matters AND Newsbusters. New street signs coming by Friday, and plans I had made to re-announce Truth Court on Thursday now look to be waiting for Saturday or later.

Robert Howard posted on 7/30 to say it'll still be two weeks before Tangents is on a new site. I'm probably returning to Order of the Stick next Tuesday, and that'll be on the 12th, so I should have a full week after that to look at Tangents.

No, this is NOT because I'm just jealous or I want to put down Dinosaur Comics in favor of my own comic. At least, I don't think so.

as panel one and five indicate, i did a bad job of blocking and spacing the text(From... well... not from Dinosaur Comics. Click for... well, it's kind of already full-sized, isn't it? Or it would be, if Blogger allowed me to upload it at actual size...)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Investigating the cause of a collapse

After a two-day spurt following the link from David Morgan-Mar's LiveJournal, Da Blog fell back to essentially the levels it held prior. Which could mean one of two things. It could mean the people who came here weren't interested in my writing long-term, which probably means the comment I received saying "I can't imagine why you don't have a job" is a minority opinion.

Or it could mean everyone is reading off the RSS feed (and not being moved to comment) or the-zaniak's LiveJournal feed. the-zaniak left a comment the last time I brought up the LiveJournal feed, leaving what seemed to me to be a good enough justification for what seemed to me to be redundancy: aiding the addition of Da Blog to people's LiveJournal friend lists.

But the more I think about it, the more I don't like it. There are several inferiorities of the LiveJournal feed to the Blogger-provided RSS feed. I don't know this for certain, but it appears that the LiveJournal feed allows people to leave their comments on the LiveJournal feed, and not on Da Blog. I'm not paying attention to comments left on the LiveJournal feed, so you're going to need to head over here to comment. For you, LJ updates only at certain intervals (as opposed to every post) and might not be updating with every single post. (It omits the post that caused that spurt of popularity in the first place, but does include older posts.)

Also, it appears that Blogger allows me to add to the RSS feed an element that cannot be included in the LiveJournal feed. That's something I've been thinking about and that I may have more on later in the week.

Oh, and if you don't like my writing, feel free to let me know as well. You don't even have to engage in constructive criticism; just telling me I suck should be good enough for me to keep my ego in check. But don't overdo it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

More from one of the most innovative comics on the Internet in a post that's a retype of a post I lost, so it may be shorter than it would have been.

(From Darths and Droids. Click for full-sized sunset.)

What little name I have I owe to Darths and Droids (and David Morgan-Mar in general), so perhaps I owe it to that strip to take another look at it.

I mentioned in my two previous reviews of Darths and Droids that the Comic Irregulars were willing to explore the possibilities of the "RPG screencap comic" much more than its inspiration, DM of the Rings, and broaden people's horizons in the process.

Well, it appears they've done it again, because in the past few strips they've adopted a fairly radical new convention that they've only acknowledged in the annotation for today's strip. They've adopted a "show-don't-tell" policy for settings we can see but which the GM must describe to the players. In those cases, the GM's description is omitted, and we only see, well, what we can see.

It's sort of jarring that we're no longer privy to every single thing the players and GM say, and it points to a general problem with RPGs. In the last panel of today's strip, the sunset itself is stunning by any definition, but Ben's comment, by necessity, is in reference not to the sunset itself, but to the GM's description of the sunset. In an RPG, there could be the most brilliant landscape in the world if the players could see it, but no matter how brilliant it is they cannot; they can only attest to the GM's description of it. Should the GM get a sheet of paper and draw the image he wants the players to see? The obvious answer is no; no drawing could do it justice unless the GM was Rembrandt, and if he was then it would take a year's worth of sessions to get through a single battle, so that the GM could get enough time for his drawings.

(Okay, that paragraph was a lot better in the version I lost earlier. This would never happen if I had a real Internet connection.)

I don't think DM of the Rings could have done something like this, because several times in that strip the players directly riff off the DM's descriptions. I recall at least one strip (which I'm not looking up because, again, I still don't have a real Internet connection) where the players enter a place, look around, and realize the only course of action is to go back the way they came. If that strip had been done as a series of images of the surrounding landscape followed by the characters deciding to turn around and go back, it would have lost much of its impact (as opposed to today's Darths and Droids, which would have lost much of its impact if we had been privy to the GM's descriptions) and its importance to what little metaplot DMotR had. An important part of DMotR was the conflict between the DM and the players; take away the DM's descriptions and you take away an important part of the strip.

As I said in my earlier review, DM of the Rings was a comic about a role-playing game, while Darths and Droids is a comic about Star Wars. Darths and Droids can get away with omitting scenery descriptions because it's about the scenery, not the descriptions. Nonetheless, there are still pitfalls with this approach, and I hope Darths and Droids can manage to avoid them.

Now THIS is how you pimp your book!

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized sexy context.)

If I commented every time OOTS moved me to comment on a strip you could use my webcomic label to find out whenever there was a new strip, so I try to shy away from doing that.

But the last two panels of this strip? I'm going to reiterate what I said on the strip's forums: Best. Recap strip. EVER.

Also, while I'm here, I'd like to take this opportunity to comment on a tendency I've noticed on the OOTS forums to treat the events of the two prequel books, especially the more recent and more revolutionary (for lack of a better word) Start of Darkness, as virtually common knowledge. Granted, part of that is me looking at the spoiler tags that contain the prequel-rooted information, but many people seem (or at least seemed in the past) to base predictions on the events of the prequel books, while forgetting that Rich is on record as saying the prequels are not necessary to enjoy the overall story.

In that context, I'd like to take a brief look at the previous strip, and suggest that Rich may have erred, "prequels not necessary to enjoy the story" or otherwise. The cliffhanger only really has resonance for someone who has read On the Origin of PCs or has had relevant parts already spoiled for him or her. For someone in neither category, they may be able to infer that the Thieves' Guild is bad news and may even be able to draw a connection to Haley from the accompanying caption, but that's probably too much thought to really go "dun dun DUN!!!"

Still, for this bounce-back? If the Eric Burns of 2004-2006 were here, he'd give this man a biscuit of some virtual variety.