31 March 2010

Video Game Addiction.

I just spent an hour reading every d---d comment in this thread (I had already read the Tom Bissel article mentioned). The subject struck a deep chord with me, not least because today I spent 30 dollars to get this game. I fondly recall the days my brother and I hacked our way through the Sonic series (and how we had to bring in outside high-school age help to beat Sonic 2; remember, there were NO SAVES anywhere in the game....)

So I played for an hour today, enjoying the catchy tunes, dying every two minutes, re-learning the importance of not speeding through every level (the sheer wickedness of the developers of Chemical Plant Zone cannot be fathomed), and not having a great deal of fun. It mortifies me all the more because I had no need to spend money to hear the music of every zone--it's all on YouTube now--and I could be happily dancing to the Ice Cap Zone beat* with my discretionary spending untouched.

The folly of a Sega fanboy (for such, I must confess, I have become) knows no bounds.

*Perhaps the best thing Michael Jackson ever composed.

26 March 2010

On the Seattle Sounders' victory over Philadelphia, March 25 2010

Resound, fair city, with the cheers of folk
Who have attended this field in bulk

Captain Schmidt and all his green-blue crew
Will give you a sight to thrill the heart anew

The champions of Congo, Sweden, Oregon
Play with the pleasure of a baker's mum

Gracious in triumph, they extend a hand
To Union men of the far east land

The season ends in Europe, but the crown
Of Football has to Puget Sound come down.

25 March 2010

A reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog writes:

The best way to advocate for the rights Dan Choi deserves is for him to stand up and speak to people, in Congress, in public - to show them he's just as good as anyone so that folks, no matter where they're from, can understand the depth of the injustice done to him. Chaining yourself to a gate isn't relatable; it's a stunt.


Poppycock. Dan Choi has repeatedly spoken on national TV about his predicament. Don't Ask Don't Tell is one of the most glaring examples of unequal treatment of gays in this nation, and civil disobedience is definitely appropriate. If Martin Luther King had waited for Joe Lieberman to arrange a Congressional audience for him instead of taking to the streets, when do you think civil rights would have been secured?

22 March 2010

The voice that shouted 'baby killer' at Bart Stupak is familiar to me. This is the very same voice that shouted 'nigger lover' at abolitionists 150 years ago.
Andrew Sullivan writes:

There is only one story better than Icarus falling to earth; and it’s Icarus getting back up and putting on some shades. The media will fall for it. The public will merely notice that the guy can come back and fight. Even when they don’t always agree with such a figure on the issues, they can admire him.

Again, the real parallel is Ronald Reagan. People forget how unpopular Reagan was at the same point in his presidency — and passing a big tax cut was legislatively a lot easier than reforming a health sector the size of the British economy. But like Obama he persisted and, with luck and learning, aimed very high.


I would rewrite his second paragraph:

Again, the real parallel is Abraham Lincoln. People forget how unpopular Lincoln was in the first year of the Civil War--the humiliation of Bull Run, the cotton famine battering New England's mills--but like Obama he persisted and aimed very high.

20 March 2010

An interesting monologue from game designer Sid Meier.

Re: your Dinos game: if you had given each dinosaur one of five elemental powers, and thrown some artifacts in, I bet it would have been a real hit...

19 March 2010

Father John-Julian of the JON Order writes:

Prayer, then, needs more and more to be nothing more than a recognition of Christ's presence -- not a praying that Christ will come to be with us, but acknowledgement that he already is. And then true prayer becomes nothing more than a response to his presence which prayer has led us to recognize. Our prayer is, then, not ourselves doing something to God, but God leading us away from the blind lies to the reality of God's presence and motive power within us -- indeed, the only motive power for prayer or good works available in the universe.

18 March 2010

The Economist Democracy in America blog describes itself thus:


In this blog, our correspondents share their thoughts and opinions on America's kinetic brand of politics and the policy it produces


I don't think kinetic was the best choice of word.

15 March 2010

This story is chillingly reminiscent of the Dred Scott case of 1857. Both are complicated by federalist issues of jurisdiction. Slavery was by that time increasingly reviled in the northern states, but studiously ignored as an issue by the Buchanan administration. Today, gay people are daily becoming more visible and respected, while Congress is still stuck in the paddywagon era (one only has to see the Eric Massa scandal unfolding to realize this).

I can only hope that Sergeant Newsome finds justice (though I am pretty sure it won't be coming from the Roberts Supreme Court). I pray for her.

10 March 2010

Today's weather puts me in mind of this passage from Brian Aldiss's Helliconia Spring:

The long fogs were alive with darting birds. Multitudinous winged life flashed like jewels across what had been sterile icefields only a moment before. In a torment of life, the mammals stretched their legs in full gallop towards summer.

08 March 2010

The Start of a Poem Singing the Life of Thomas Carlyle.


Come wind and rain, and other wet offsprings of heaven
It is 3 o'clock and darkening on the Carlisle road

The men of Ecclefechan wind up their labors
A hard day's work of the kind not done in London

Margaret Aitken is with child, her first
A child who shall with mason's trade be nursed

Amid the green and gray of nearby land
The child wanders, with eyes and feet
He dips his toes in Solway sand
And sings his psalms as the folk think meet.

04 March 2010

I note that the temperature here has risen 13 degrees Celsius (from -11 to +2) in four hours. (according to accuweather.com)

02 March 2010

I finished reading Iron Council, a fantasy epic by China Mieville. It is well worth plowing through his ornate vocabulary to reach the end.

There were actually several points which I thought would be natural endings to the novel. Without gross spoilers, I will describe the tone of each one.

page 550: melancholy acceptance of fate
page 552: militant anarchist pride
page 554: Christ-like death
page 561 (actual ending): we are beginning another epic narrative.