Bill Gates: Last Day at Microsoft

Awesome.

Biking To Work

I ride my bike to work – mainly cause I work with computers at a desk all day. This is funny (click image to watch):

Biking to Work

Fallen Empire: Legions Goes Open Beta

There is a great article about the game up at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

Obviously there are some strong Tribes vibes here (holding down right mouse button allows you to “ski” with your jetpack) and that’s definitely a good thing. There’s a good, smooth, fast-paced feel to it. Once you get into the skiing and start seeing the game as a series of ramps and jumps it becomes the FPS-variant of extreme sports. Rocket-skating for deathmongers. The weapons aren’t quite beefy enough (and I seem to remember saying the same thing about Tribes) and the rocket-launcher currently dominates the game. Still, I suspect that will change as people get a better handle on what the hit-scan weapons are actually capable of. Hurtling across the map with chaingun whirling is going to become a favourite feeling.

The environment for deathmatch and capture the flag do feel a little empty, but that seems to fit the fluid feel of the game. This about racing across open-space as you fight, a kind of humanoid, semi-aerial dogfighting. “Freedom of Movement Returns” is the tagline for Fallen Empires, and it’s bang on: what are all these game designers doing ignoring the jetpack? It’s the perfect videogame-world tool. Fallen Empires is an antidote to everything else that I’ve been playing for the past six months. Really great stuff.

Of course the Instant Action website itself is an incredible piece of software. Browser based gaming, all streamlined and simple. It should have been like this years ago, and GarageGames are my personal heroes for making it finally work so well. If you’ve not played around with this yet, then you should do.

Read the Full Article

And go sign up for InstantAction and play it for free

Also, be sure to view the n00b guide so you can avoid getting pwned! Legions takes a bit of practice to get good at. Click the image below to watch the video:


Legions Survival Guide

Before you know it, you will be able to do this:

and this:

but probably never this… ;)

SCOTUS outlaws death penalty for child rape

The Supreme Court on Wednesday outlawed executions of people convicted of raping a child.

In a 5-4 vote, the court said the Louisiana law allowing the death penalty to be imposed in such cases violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.

In this case, proponents of the Louisiana law said the trend was toward the death penalty, a point mentioned by Justice Samuel Alito in his dissent.

“The harm that is caused to the victims and to society at large by the worst child rapists is grave,” Alito wrote. “It is the judgment of the Louisiana lawmakers and those in an increasing number of other states that these harms justify the death penalty.”

FULL ARTICLE

Note the crucial difference in the Justices opinions:

  • Kennedy feels that he gets to decide what Louisiana’s lawmakers should have decided.
  • Alito upholds the laws passed by the Louisiana legislature, and supports their judgement based on the local situation.

Again, what is the point of the legislative branch of government when the courts make up laws? Do we live in an oligarchy? What about federalism? The Legislature was set up so the people could decide what laws of the land were fair, not 9 unelected men in the supreme court.

I think judgment on crimes should be made on a case by case situation by local justice systems (see caveat at end of post), not the ‘one law to rule them all’ crap that justice Kennedy seems to support.

Plus, call me cold hearted, but I am certain that there are cases of child rape that more than justify the death penalty (read the horrid facts of this case at the bottom of this post). And what about repeat rape cases? In my opinion, I don’t think that the American taxpayer should have to pay to feed and shelter (the worst of these) pieces of human trash.

UPDATE: Ed Whelan unloads on Kennedy’s decision:

Kennedy’s 36 pages of insufferable blather amount to little more than a declaration that the majority doesn’t think that capital punishment is ever a fair penalty for the rape of a child—“no matter,” as Justice Alito puts it in his dissent, “how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator’s prior criminal record may be.” 

If I find time, I may focus more attention on Kennedy’s string of assertions.  For now, I’ll just call attention to the facts that occasioned Kennedy’s pronouncement that “[e]volving standards of decency must embrace and express respect for the dignity of the person”—the person whose dignity is the object of his concern being the rapist, not the victim and not other future victims.

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING (The following is a description of the facts of this case. I put them in white because they are graphic and shockingly horrid. You can select below to read them.): 

 The facts are graphic and awful.  Kennedy (not the justice) was charged with the aggravated rape of L.H., his then-8-year-old stepdaughter.  When police found L.H. some two hours after the attack, she was bleeding profusely from the vaginal area.  She was transported to the hospital, where she was discovered to have a laceration to the left wall of the vagina that “separated her cervix from the back of her vagina, causing her rectum to protrude into the vaginal structure.  Her entire perineum was torn from the posterior fourchette to the anus.  The injuries required emergency surgery.”  Shortly after he committed the rape, Kennedy called a colleague to ask “how to get blood out of a white carpet because his daughter had ‘just become a lady.’”

UPDATE: Some friends of mine brought up some great points that I think need expanding upon. First – it is of course important to have a some sort of national unity agreement on laws and punishment. Like one friend mentioned – If you have one tough state, and one wuss state – the crime will just move over to the wuss state. Plus – I am not for tossing the death penalty around willy nilly. The decision to to end a person’s life is as grave a decision as a judicial system probably ever encounters. We certainly don’t just want ‘the mob’ to decide what crimes deem what penalties. 

However, I do think that the certain heinous nature of some crimes do require severe punishment. The death penalty certainly should not be seen as retribution. Still, the fact that a person can absolutely devastate the life of a child, but so long as you don’t kill them in the process…

I guess my problem with this decision is that the SCOTUS makes it completely impossible for the death penalty to ever be warranted, regardless of the circumstances, in a rape case were the victim lives. It seems like a ‘one size fits all’ sort of ruling that may not be adequate to all circumstances.

I’ll have to keep mulling this one over. What do you think?

UPDATE: Great write-up on this over at Hotair.

More Climate – Morality Blending

Here’s an interesting comment from the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan:

“We must have climate justice. As an international community, we must recognise that the polluter must pay and not the poor and vulnerable,” said Annan at the first high-level meeting of his new humanitarian forum.

Article

In case you missed my post on “Soft Tyranny” you can read it here. Anytime someone equates climate change with morality, you have cause to be worried. I can’t repeat this enough – the science on man-caused global warming (note that ‘global warming’ is already being substituted for ‘climate change’. Why might that be?) is not settled

Note, though, that folks who might happen to think that the planet’s climate is actually something we (man) don’t have much control over, are somehow causing injustice.

And here’s NASA’s James Hansen calling for Oil Executives to be tried for crimes against humanity.

I wonder if NPR (in the spirit of fair debate) brought up any of the stiff opponents to Hansen’s arguments?

Here’s one. Or you can watch this:

If you found that interesting, here is a link to the other 5 parts of this video series.

I also find this a bit disturbing. Here is a summary of Barack Obama’s Climate Education Bill:

Climate Change Education Act – Requires the Director of the National Science Foundation to establish a Climate Change Education Program to: (1) broaden the understanding of climate change, possible long and short-term consequences, and potential solutions; (2) apply the latest scientific and technological discoveries to provide learning opportunities to people; and (3) emphasize actionable information to help people understand and to promote implementation of new technologies, programs, and incentives related to energy conservation, renewable energy, and greenhouse gas reduction.
Requires such Program to include: (1) a national information campaign to disseminate information on and promote implementation of the new technologies, programs, and incentives; and (2) a competitive grant program to provide grants to states, municipalities, educational institutions, and other organizations to create materials relevant to climate change and climate science, develop climate science kindergarten through grade 12 curriculum and supplementary educational materials, or publish climate change and climate science information.

I wonder if this bill will support viewpoints of credible scientists who are of the opinion that man is not the driving factor of climate change? Remember, I was told in elementary school that the Earth only had about 65 years of fresh water left

The Problem with MoveOn’s -Little Alex- Ad

Here’s MoveOn’s ad:

And here’s part of Bill Kristol’s NYT Op-Ed containing some poignant remarks from an actual mother of a soldier:  (Read the Full Piece)

…So, why, I wondered after first seeing the MoveOn ad, did I find it so … creepy?

I was having trouble putting my finger on just why until I came across a post by a mother of a soldier recently deployed in Iraq, at the Web site BlueStarChronicles.com.

Here’s what the mother of an actual soldier has to say about the remarks of the mother of the prospective non-soldier in the ad:

Does that mean that she wants other people’s sons to keep the wolves at bay so that her son can live a life of complete narcissism? What is it she thinks happens in the world? … Someone has to stand between our society and danger. If not my son, then who? If not little Alex then someone else will have to stand and deliver. Someone’s son, somewhere.

This is the sober truth. Unless we enter a world without enemies and without war, we will need young men and women willing to risk their lives for our nation. And we’re not entering any such world.

We do, however, live in a free country with a volunteer army. In the United States, individuals can choose to serve in the military or not. The choice not to serve should carry no taint, nor should it be viewed with the least prejudice. If Alex chooses to pursue other opportunities, he won’t be criticized by John McCain or anyone else.

But that’s not at all the message of the MoveOn ad.

The MoveOn ad is unapologetic in its selfishness, and barely disguised in its disdain for those who have chosen to serve — and its contempt for those parents who might be proud of sons and daughters who are serving. The ad boldly embraces a vision of a selfish and infantilized America, suggesting that military service and sacrifice are unnecessary and deplorable relics of the past.

And the sole responsibility of others.

Emphasis Mine

ht: NYT

UPDATE: I forgot to link to my former post about the whole, “McCain – 100 years of war,” comment so you can actually hear what he said in context. This is important because when you listen to it in context, you will immediately realize that his actual comment has absolutely nothing to do with a 100 year long war in Iraq. Listen to it here. But then again, telling the truth would destroy the entire premise of MoveOn’s silly ad, so…

Lost Amazon tribe, or environmental publicity stunt?

 

And the winner is….Stunt!

The man behind photos of warriors from an “undiscovered” Amazon tribe that were beamed around the world has admitted it was a publicity stunt aimed at raising awareness of logging.

Indigenous tribes expert, José Carlos Meirelles, said the tribe had been known of since 1910, and had been photographed to prove that they still existed in an area endangered by logging, The Guardian reported

Full Article

I find stunts (of any nature), with the intention of getting government action on certain agendas to be totally destructive to any groups credibility. If logging is such a huge problem, you shouldn’t need a stunt to get people to notice. What ends up happening is that the public become irrationally worried over certain issues and real practical discussion ends. This becomes particularly dangerous when it starts effecting public policy, which seems to be to goal of these stunts from the outset.  It is my opinion that the ‘Green’ movement is a star example of this.

With that in mind, consider the following Wired article about the ’10 GREEN HERESIES’ (I’ll link to each item):

  1.  Live in Cities: Urban Living Is Kinder to the Planet Than the Suburban Lifestyle
  2.  A/C Is OK: Air-Conditioning Actually Emits Less C02 Than Heating
  3. Organics Are Not the Answer: Surprise! Conventional Agriculture Can Be Easier on the Planet
  4. Farm the Forests: Old-Growth Forests Can Actually Contribute to Global Warming
  5. China Is the Solution: The People’s Republic Leads the Way in Alternative-Energy Hardware
  6. Accept Genetic Engineering: Superefficient Frankencrops Could Put a Real Dent in Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  7. Carbon Trading Doesn’t Work: Carbon Credits Were a Great Idea, But the Benefits Are Illusory
  8. Embrace Nuclear Power: Face It. Nukes Are the Most Climate-Friendly Industrial-Scale Form of Energy
  9. Used Cars — Not Hybrids: Don’t Buy That New Prius! Test-Drive a Used Car Instead
  10. Prepare for the Worst: Climate Change Is Inevitable. Get Used to It

In my opinion, there are many legitimate environmental concerns that are being obscured by activism. We need a more honest and practical approach to these issues. This means conducting a rational debate over the issues, not publicity stunts.

Or do you agree with Al Gore that, “the debate is over?”

Monday Morning FAIL

Can you really blame someone for a FAIL on a Monday?

Fail landing.

Impressive French Weaponry Fail.

C.S. Lewis on -soft- Tyranny

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

This is essentially why I am against increasing the power to the State. A lot of things come packaged nicely (welfare, healthcare, environmentalism, ‘No Child Left Behind,’ etc) and they end up being communicated as moral imperatives. There is a very real danger when governments believe that they decide what’s in the best interest of their citizens, as opposed to the people themselves. (Peter DeFazio talked about this very thing in his reply to my letter about the Fairness Doctrine).

As someone who is philosophically conservative, I believe that for freedom to flourish, is vital for each person to have the power to make decisions about what is best for themselves.

I think this is often why Conservatives are perceived to have a lack of compassion in regard to social programs. For instance, I was listening to a left wing radio show the other day and the host, who was discussing global warming, stated something in the effect of, “You see, Conservatives are always opposed to people coming together to fix a problem (in this case, the problem was global warming).”  Close, but the host left out one crucial point:

Conservatives are opposed to governments forcing people to come together to fix a problem. This is because, governments are the only entities that have the power to force citizens to do anything (in America, usually through taxation and regulation). Non-governmental organizations do not, instead relying on a person’s free choice to support that organization. 

The ultimate problem is that any time we hand over power and responsibilities to The State, it is nearly impossible to get them back. Not to mention, citizens become less self-reliant, instead counting on the government to make important decisions, or provide for important personal needs.

Back to what Lewis was saying. Whether we elect John McCain or Barack Obama this year, the country is not going to immediately spiral into tyranny. However, some of the ideas that BOTH McCain and Obama are pushing are small steps in this direction. Do not be fooled into feeling guilty when it comes to social issues by the nice (morally imperative) way that they are packaged: “It’s for the children, the elderly, the environment, fill in the blank… (One real world example: Al Gore has stated that the climate problem is not a political issue, it’s a moral issue. Thus, people who disagree, or might question his position aren’t just wrong, they’re immoral. I wrote a whole post about this topic called The Cost of Disagreement.)

The bottom line is whatever the issue, (oil prices, healthcare, environment, jobs, taxes, etc), don’t buy the, “you are morally obligated,” emotional fluff. The important question should be:

Does this idea promote personal liberty – or is it handing more power to The State?

In other words, is it a small step towards, or away from tyranny?

Now, there is a great deal of talk about what should be done about certain problems in society. Those thoughts can be reserved for another time or post. For now though, my opinion is that for most things, the government isn’t the answer.

Woman Suing Because of Thong-to-the-face Injury

And I though the glued to the toilet seat case was ridiculous…

“Macrida Patterson, age 52, is suing Victoria’s Secret, claiming that because of a design problem, a decorative metallic piece affixed to her thong became airborne and struck her in the eye as she was attempting to put on the garment.”

More at the Consumerist

What the crap? Was she wrapping it around her head?

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