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  Sunday, October 09, 2005

Eric Seidel on the changing world of Poker:

The biggest change has been the merger of TV and poker. You now have people who are able to make their reputations based on their TV persona rather than skill. There is a lot of noise out there, and it is hard for people on the outside to know who the good players are. Even the players who are playing the tour get fooled by looking at short-term results, and think that whoever%u2019s had a great few months is the latest supergenius. Unless you are looking atlong-term results, at least five years, it is very difficult to determine how good somebody is. Throughout my years of playing tournaments, I%u2019ve been fooled many times, thinking, %u201CWow, this guy must be playing great, he is one of the top players,%u201D and two years later he has disappeared. I think there is a lot of this going on right now. There are lots of players in the public eye who might not be able to maintain their results, and some reputations are built on rather flimsy results.

(Via Ken.)

8:31:06 PM    comment []

Kooky little collection of random weirdness found via a link from Rossignol. A highly amusing collection.

(Via ollapodrida.)

5:41:00 PM    comment []

MICHAEL ISIKOFF AND MARK HOSENBALL NEWSWEEK - The Pentagon would be granted new powers to conduct undercover intelligence gathering inside the United States-and then withhold any information about it from the public-under a series of little noticed provisions now winding their way through Congress. Citing in part the need for 'greater latitude' in the war on terror, the Senate Intelligence Committee recently approved broad-ranging legislation that gives the Defense Department a long sought and potentially crucial waiver: it would permit its intelligence agents, such as those working for the Defense Intelligence Agency to covertly approach and cultivate 'U.S. persons' and even recruit them as informants-without disclosing they are doing so on behalf of the U.S. government. The Senate committee's action comes as President George W. Bush has talked of expanding military involvement in civil affairs, such as efforts to control pandemic disease outbreaks. . .

At the same time, the Senate intelligence panel also included in the bill two other potentially controversial amendments-one that would allow the Pentagon and other U.S. intelligence agencies greater access to federal government databases on U.S. citizens, and another granting the DIA new exemptions from disclosing any 'operational files' under the Freedom of Information Act 'What they are doing is expanding the Defense Department's domestic intelligence activities in secret- with no public discussion,' said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, a civil- liberties group that is often critical of government actions in the fight against terrorism.


3:42:01 PM    comment []

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES - Timothy E. Flanigan withdrew his nomination four months after President Bush selected him to be deputy attorney general. Mr. Flanigan blamed the "uncertainty concerning the timing of my confirmation," in a letter he wrote to Mr. Bush. The withdrawal comes as Democrats accused him of being involved in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and of having ties to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Democrats also criticized him for not having any courtroom experience as a prosecutor. "Rather than appointing professionals with relevant experience, the Bush administration has promoted a culture of cronyism by tapping political allies and close friends for key positions," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said after the withdrawal.


Steve: With all the Miers stuff (and of course the terrible disaster in South Asia), this story could get lost, but it's important that it not. This is of a piece with De Lay and the entire range of corrupt cronyism going on these past 5 years in Washington. A continuing disgrace that I hope comes to more light.

3:41:38 PM    comment []

Misleading headlines were abound today:

200 US deaths in Afghanistan

U.S. death toll in Afghanistan hits 200

The real total casualty count for Operation Enduring Freedom has been above 200 since late June of 2005. The discrepancy lies in a qualifier lacking in every article: 200 US troops have died in combat since the beginning of operations in Afghanistan. Here is just one example of the 40+ non-combat deaths. Couple this with the total killed in Iraq and over 2100 US troops...

(Via Blog.)

3:18:33 PM    comment []

nown to its legions of fans simply as P-Funk, Parliament Funkadelic has had a profound impact on the development of contemporary music, aesthetics and culture. PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC: One Nation Under a Groove chronicles the unique alchemy of the musical influences that fed into the band%u2019s singular approach to music, documenting P-Funk%u2019s continuing influence on today%u2019s artists and musicians and featuring an in-depth look at the musical and entrepreneurial mastermind of its leader George Clinton.

Looks like fun! Tivoed.

1:57:51 PM    comment []

Hugh Hewitt continues to try to digest the shit sandwich Bush handed him this week, and is coming close echoing Roman Hruska:

The idea that Miers cannot go toe to toe with the giant brains on the Supreme Court is a very odd argument, on a number of fronts. It assumes that the business of judging is very difficult and that only scholars and intellectuals are suited to the task, when in fact scholars and intellectuals have brought us to the point where the SCOTUS has become such a political problem.

Hewitt then quotes some Robert Bork nonsense (I guess that's really a reduncancy), and says:

Bork's on target critique of SCOTUS is not that is not powered by enough intellect, but that intellectuals or would-be intellectuals have run it over the cultural cliff. It is odd indeed that some denouncing Miers, including now Judge Bork, seem to anchor their fiercest arguments in the fact that she's not smart enough for the job, when the implication of Judge Bork's argumnent is that the last thing the SCOTUS needs is another would be legal titan. Rather, the most important quality in a justice, from Bork's published point of view, would be humility in the face of majoritarian choices consistent with the federalist framework. Chief Justice Roberts was speaking directly to this need for a new judicial humilty throughout his hearings. Miers lack of string of law review articles is not evidence of the lack of such a humility.

So it's OK to be a bit stupid, as long as you're not an an intellectual (or a "would-be intellectual" as long as you're humble. What a mishmash of "I'll eat this sandwich and like it" justification Hewitt presents. On the other hand, if Bork doesn't like Miers, then I have to figure there must be something good about her.

(Via .)

1:52:22 PM    comment []

I think the last time I saw a movie twice in a movie theatre was The Return of the King, and before that, well I don' t know. I rewsaw Serenity last night, and I've been on something of a Firefly kick lately, as I've been watching the episodes as they air again on the SciFi network. Odd, because I already once went on a Firefly kick when I got the DVD set a couple years ago.

The movie, and the TV show hold up, and I enjoyed the movie pretty thoroughly last night. What makes both it and the TV show is the character development, including the very enjoyable dialog. I do like these people, they're all different, and they're fun to be with. Whedon's world is interesting, though a bit vague in some details, and not as sf consistent as it could be. Still, Whedon does master the tropes of the space opera, and use them to good advantage. Visually, it's lots of fun -- there were some tableaux that reminded me of the covers of science fiction papaerbacks and magazines of my youth. I won't see it a third time in the theatre, but will most likely pick up the DVD when it's released, and I will continue to watch the TV show. I'm also looking forward to a sequel.

1:36:02 PM    comment []

Anger over the slow pace of relief as the death toll of massive quake across Kashmir passes 30,000

Angry villagers briefly blocked roads today in earthquake-ravaged regions of Indian-controlled Kashmir, protesting at the slow pace of rescue and aid efforts in reaching their destroyed homes.

Jesus. Looks to me as if Unicef is the place to donate for this one. There's a lot more at the South Asia Quake Help blog, with places to donate listed here.

(Via Sploid.)

1:19:28 PM    comment []

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