23 June 2014

No, there really isn't "a better way" to break ties in the group stage of the World Cup, Mr. Monkovic.  Certainly not "assembling the teams the next day for a penalty kick shootout" -- guaranteed to increase goalkeeper suicides and impose unnecessary costs on host nations as they stage these exhibitions.

What is so wrong with simply drawing an ostrakon , as a last resort, to determine who must be left behind in the round of 16?  This kind of "dumb luck" was integral to Athenian city-state politics and (careful students of Thucydides are welcome to dispute with me on this) it doesn't seem to have been the fatal flaw in the city's constitution.

19 June 2014

The FTL Castaway, based on GetDaved's "Let's Play FTL Advanced Edition," with apologies to William Cowper


Sidereal sights of sector eight loom'd o'er
Th'appointed planet of our greatest clash...

No allied fleet the storm allay'd,
no light of Mantis beacon shone, 
when with the piercing of our hull's last plate,
We perish'd, each alone.

(But I amidst a darker void of rebel space,
embark'd on tougher quests than he.)

14 June 2014

I'm very enthused to see that Donald Berwick passed the first hurdle in his bid for the governorship of Massachusetts.

Interestingly, well-heeled pharmaceutical executive Joe Avellone will not be going any further.  This is yet another data point in American politics that may be of interest to people who are convinced (some of them just after the Citizens United decision) Big Money runs everything and there is zero chance of a grassroots-funded candidate achieving anything, absent a constitutional amendment or Al Gore getting back together with Tipper or something of the sort.

06 June 2014

According to Mark Twain, first-class lecturers on the lyceum circuit in the Reconstruction era (for example Henry Ward Beecher and Anna Dickinson) "knew their own value and extracted it.  In towns their fee was $200 and $250; in cities $400." [Autobiography of Mark Twain, ed. Charles Neider]

$400 in 1870 is the equivalent of $7,473 today.  Hillary Clinton must think she is about twenty times as good a speaker as schlubs like Anna Dickinson.