Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On having three exams, a fencing tournament and Halloween on the same day

kill me now

Sunday, October 29, 2006


AP: 'Experts: Ban won't stop online gambling'
In the priority list of today's Congress, somewhere below making English the official language of America and somewhere above seriously worrying about voting reform lies keeping people from playing poker on the Internet. The general consensus in the online poker community is that this doesn't do too much on a practical basis--serious players will just keep on using Neteller and similar sites like they always have--but it'll scare off a lot of the more amateur players who were essentially treated as 'dead money'. Still, a few sites have stopped accepting any sort of cash from American players at all, which is starting to worry and annoy more than a few people.

Actually, the sentence that bothered me more than any other in the article was this:
Industry experts say there are an estimated 2,000 Internet sites that take bets for sports and poker.

The government's justification for banning online poker seems to rely on its being a game of chance, which is a preposterous claim. You don't see professional roulette players, or watch The World Series Of Coin-Flipping on television. The structure of the above sentence, though, implies that poker's 'bets' are not tactics used to either entice or dissuade other poker players to stay in the hand--which they are. Instead, it implies that they're independent actions that may or may not get 'paid off' depending on something you can't control--which, of course, is what betting on sports is. It's this exact same sort of semantic muddling and intentional confusion that poker players need to combat to gain serious credible traction in the political realm.

Seriously, how long is it going to be before we start letting people use whatever the heck suffix they want in their web address? This definitely isn't a Indian site, in the same way that del.icio.us isn't an America-centric site, and blo.gs sure as heck isn't a website for the South Sandwich Islands. Making country-specific domain levels was probably a good idea ten years ago, but the Internet's a big boy now. It doesn't need the training wheels anymore. Keep .com, .org, and .edu, and let people take any four-letter suffix they want. (Come on, you know you want to see www.goog.le.)

Anyway, this is a fun site. Look up local issues covered in neighborhood blogs. Works best if you're in a big city, but it has news enough for, say, Chapel Hill.

That's about it for now. I'll make a post-Halloween update sometime after my three exams on Tuesday.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Well, this definitely made my day

So Halloween is less than two weeks away. As some of you may know, Halloween is more or less a national holiday at UNC, as 75,000 folks from across the Triangle pour onto a half-mile-long strip of Franklin Street to see how many people came as the "Free Breast Examinations" fallback this year. As fewer of you may know, I typically come up with my Halloween costume about two days before the event proper. This has led to fun consequences like 2004's Darth Nader and 2005's Rich Uncle Pennybags (aka 'the Monopoly Man'):

In fact, I wasn't even too keen on going this year--my apartment is a mile from campus, and the whole thing is starting to lose its novelty. But I have a SECRET MEETING for Di-Phi, and if I have to go down there I might as well dress up. Besides, I just came up with the Costume of the Year:

Ted Stevens (Sen. R-AK).

Sen. Stevens with an unidentified 'tube'.

You've heard Ted Stevens. Recall this quote:
Ten movies streaming across that, that internet, and what happens to your own personal internet? I just the other day got...an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck.

It's a series of tubes.
Yeah, the 'Series of Tubes' guy. People have tried to riposte, noting that 'pipe' is a common technical slang term and that 'tube' is a natural extension. But when you pull that verbal gaffe, combined with the... creative uses of the word 'Internet' seen above, combined with the fact that he's the chair of the committee regulating Internet usage, it all starts to become a small bit absurd.

This idea wouldn't be nearly as good a costume, however, if this was Sen. Stevens' own claim to fame. Like fellow mountainous-state Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Stevens is well-known as one of the 'pork kings' of Congress, most noticably in his 'Bridge to Nowhere'.

So I have the suit, I have the glasses, I have the hair. The next step is to take some PVC pipe, pipe cleaners, etc., make the proper connections and add a cardboard sign. Care must be taken to specify that this concoction is not merely called 'INTERNET', but "AN INTERNET". Next comes a Bridge to Nowhere, which I'll make out of aluminum and toothpicks or something and have sticking out of said suit. Now here's where I need y'all's help.

As you can see in my lovely photo of Sen. Stevens, for issues he considers particularly important he is well-known for wearing a The Incredible Hulk tie. I would absolutely love to get my hands on one of these, but the only one on eBay won't get here until November. Does anybody know where I could find something like this, either locally or online? I could just print out a picture of the Hulk and pin that to a regular tie, but I've half-arsed too many Halloween costumes in the past as it is.

Secondly, I'm looking for Republican paraphernalia I could stick on my suit, to cement the connection in the minds of half-crazed Franklin-goers. I'm mainly thinking cheap buttons and the like here, and stuff about Alaska would be especially great. Any ideas?

Thanks. Yes, I guess I can put up pictures.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Blame it on me

So, you know that sort of situation where you want to post on your blog, but you get sick for a week, and then school starts, and then you have five or six things you want to talk about built up by then, but you can't find the time to write about them all, and then you've stopped writing on your blog for a month, and you think that you need to make an entry deserving of the hiatus that it caused, but the longer you take to get around to it the bigger it has to be, and the bigger it gets the more time you would have to spend on it, and then you get into midterms, and then you just say "screw it" and go ahead and write it anyway, length be darned?

I thought you did.

So, here's the Reader's Digest summaries of the stuff I was going to bring up at some point or another:

"Fakes On A Plane": Someone made the argument that New Line Cinema completely structured the hype cycle of Snakes on a Plane as a really covert method of viral marketing. I didn't want to give Hollywood half that much credit, especially since the blog entry that apparently touched it off didn't seem to have any discernible relation. But after the Brody Ruckus (aka "100,000 Guy" on Facebook) quasi-scandal, I'm not as sure anymore.

NPR: Maynard Ferguson Dies at 78
By and far the most famous trumpeter of the last 50 years, maybe excepting Wynton Marsalis. Great player, great concert-leader, great guy.

Washington Post: "Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq"
Business as usual. Ugh.

LibraryThing: Man, this is my Site of the Year. Add your library, find out who has collections most similar to you, find out what books you should read next. Hi.

'The Play' on Youtube: If you're a fan of sports, you probably already know that you can find the most famous play in college football on the Internet. But it's fun to compare it with the NFL equivalent, which I remember watching live and which is about as amazing. I still don't see how John Carney still has a job.

Feingold: ...actually, I'm still planning on getting to that.

So yeah, consider me off-hiatus now for the forseeable future. Tune in later for less vapid summarizations and heck, maybe even pictures.