Friday, December 27

John 13 wrote on December 18th that he likes the Lord of the Rings board game. I got it from my brother this Christmas and it is very cool. It's collaborative instead of competitive and, like John said, it plays surprisingly like the books. We won the first time (though I'm not convinced we were playing right) and have lost the two subsequent times we've played.

(John 13 has lots of other good stuff over there, as usual, so go read that, too.)
Kottke pointed me toward the Perpetual War Portfolio. Pretty cynical, though I don't disagree with much of what dack's saying. The connections are alarming. For example, Mrs Cheney is Director of Lockheed Martin. Doesn't that constitute conflict of interest?

Nosing around over there, I found dack's interesting takes on investing; determining the optimum age for your next wife, girlfriend, or mistress (22 for me); and determining your social class based on what you drink.

Here's my Christmas post, two days late.

I got it from Brad (from Dec 24th - no permalink b/c I'm not getting the right result from his archives. You might want to check that, Brad.).

(By the way, I'm now coding for simple images like the one above without even having to view someone else's code. Yeah, i'm L33T, man!)
Started another weblog today. Don't worry, you don't have to read it. I'm calling it interact annex. It's just a place for me to stick stuff that I want handy and easily linked and ordered and Googled and I don't have to ftp it myself. I'll probably send you over there, occasionally.

Thursday, December 26

Well, I won my fantasy football league. I'm really happy about it. Congratulations to me.
John posted about a temple found in Greece that was virtually untouched.

I wanted to know where it is: Greece --> Cyclades --> Kythnos
The 1.6 Newsweek cover story: 2003 is going to be the year of The Matrix (until The Return of the King comes out).

There's a preview link about 1/3 of the way down. It wasn't really worth watching, in my opinion, though the attached 'Animatrix' one was - that's a cool looking DVD.

There are some really poorly chosen words in quotes - comparing one of the directors to a 'jihad warrior' and calling making the movie 'like the Crusades'. Aren't we ever going to leave this kind of vocabulary for the horror that spawned it?

The cool, new technology stuff is about 80% of the way down.

You might get interested enough to check out the official site. I browsed their section on philosophy, which begins with an overview of Descartes and the cogito ergo sum (which foundationalists criticize as being dubito ergo sum).

Is it really the case that 'where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise.'? My intellectual integrity says 'no', but I'll be honest with you: sometimes the travail of life (am I being melodramatic here? histrionic?) tempts me to this strategy of just getting by.
A little bit interesting: The Atheist Christmas Challenge: Can you prove God doesn't exist? Jim Holt does a nice job of countering the commonly held view that theism is totally unfounded and atheism is totally founded. Just when you thought some of this was serious and might be going somewhere, he takes a funky turn in the penultimate paragraph and ends cutely, but unsatisfyingly, either way. It turns into just another egghead-ed mind trip. Comments?
I guess I inspired Scott to look into Russ Feingold. Sounds like the guy has potential.

And, in the same campaign line, Eric has his take on a winning strategy for the Dems.

Tuesday, December 24

Matt is calling his friends Tolkien names. How would I do the same?

The Lady Christine Undomiel, the Evenstar of her husband.
Princess Elizabeth the Beautiful, the White Lady of Tulsa.
Prince Wil, son of Sean, Tier of Knots, Singer of VeggieTunes, Teller of Jokes.
Jason Edward of Waterloo, the learned bard, Lover of Poems, Guide of Children.
Jaquandor of Syracuse, Minstrel, Writer of Lines.
John the Hardy of Oz, Singer of Ancient Tales.
John Thirteen the Fearless, confronter of Beggars, Democrats, and the Cursed Number.
Eric the Quiet (who is lately finding his voice again), Writer of Kind Words.
Brad of Turlock, Pastor, Early-Adopter, Scourge of PoMo.
Scott SeaCrest, Sailor of CyberWaves, Basketball GM par excellence, Champion of Justice.
(I thought about making Scott Mr Furious...)

And who am I? (When I think of that question I always think of Les Mis - 'I'm Sean ValSean!'.)
Sean the Proud, son of Paul, Teacher, Ensorcelled by the Web.

Now, you add to any of these lists, or add new names, or name yourself.

Wednesday, December 18

I always imagine my directions going wrong somehow, causing total strangers to curse my name for generations to come. "That handsome bastard led my grandpa astray! I despise beautiful people now and forever" says the future Southern fellow.

This is why society always fails in the end.

I always love it when John calls himself handsome. If you think he's funny, like I do, go over there and read everything he's written in the last week: funny bus stories.
You have to love Jessamyn's technically legal signs to be posted in your library warning you that the FBI might be watching you.
In the same political vein, Eric has a couple of new pieces of advice for the Dems.

Eric also writes that this compassionate conservative stuff is for real. I'd say the appearance of it is. Lott and Nickels can have terrible civil rights records, so long as they say the right thing.

Couldn't we just pretty much put some of this advice together and help the Dems to at least push the Repubs a little? This stuff seems so obvious. Isn't it?
Brad keeps writing about Postmodernism, so I keep thinking about it. My favorite quote:

Simplifying in the extreme, I define Postmodernism as incredulity toward metanarratives.
- Jean Francois Lyotard
My Two Towers Review
I really liked it. You should go.

I was really very pleased. Sometime in the first hour it was just ok with me (for the most part) that there were a lot of things that Jackson added or made up (but no spoilers yet). It's different, almost like fan fiction inspired by tLotR (though not that big a departure).

I really liked:
- Miranda Otto as Eowyn, like I knew I would.
- Eomer, though there wasn't quite enough of him.
- Edoras and the part of Grima and Theoden's change (though it's much more obvious, and not as nice and subtle as it was).
- Treebeard and the ruin of Isengard (the Entmoot and expanded role of Merry and Pippin left me cold).
- Gandalf's return and all of Ian McKellan's scenes; he is so wonderfully expressive.
- the opening scene of Gandalf fighting the Balrog and then the subsequent one (though a little to Near Death Experience-ish (though it was an NDE).
- Gollum - everything about him, really. This part was especially well done, really the best Gollum interpretation I've seen or heard. There is a lot of original material here that I didn't really mind. It makes it obvious for the audience, which is ok. There's sort of a schizophrenic treatment of Gollum as Smeagol and Stinker. You really feel sympathy for Gollum, and even disappointment that Frodo's deception of him pushes him over the edge to turn them over to Shelob (though this movie doesn't make it that far).
- much less cheesy, can't-stand-it Liv Tyler stuff than I feared.

No criticism until after the next viewing (Sunday afternoon with my brothers and sister).

I really liked it. I'm a little surprised. Are you?

Tuesday, December 17

Hear me now. Believe me now. The way Kelly Holcomb played earlier in the season, he should get to try the last two games and Tim Couch should be benched. That is all.
Five weeks ago I thought I was out of contention in fantasy football. Then I caught fire. My team has won the last five weeks in a row, including the semi-finals this past weekend. I'm playing for the league title this weekend and I am totally stoked. I learned a lot and worked hard. I'm a regular Horatio Alger story. Maybe I'll be like the Patriots last year and run the table, which is what both they and I had to do.

But, I'm playing my brother for the championship. He invited me into the league and I'm just so happy to have done this well, I don't really care who wins.

This has become a really fun hobby for me and my question is: what am I going to do until august (when I can start obsessing about my draft)?

Monday, December 16

I, among many, am really glad Al Gore's not going to run. He wouldn't give George the 2nd a run for his money.

Gore said if he ran he'd just go with what he felt (basic unreconstructed liberal), not try to guess where the people are (poll). That was a recipe for losing. Pure liberals cannot win a presidential race in this country, unless the conservatives totally screw up. There aren't that many liberal voters - not pure ones. It might just be the fly-over people who are conservatives, or moderates at best, but you need some of their votes. Liberals have to at least pretend to be moderate. Or Democrats have to be moderate. Or they have to be total slaves to the polls, like Clinton (what do you want me to be?).

Who are some of the other contenders: Lieberman, Gephardt (career politician - ugh), Biden, Edwards, Daschle (wrong Ag. Bill position), Kerry (no).

To win:

It's still the economy, stupid. National Security will still be the top issue, and no one can beat Bush on it. But the economy's next, and the Dems should challenge Bush's tax cuts, especially to the wealthy. They should campaign to reinstate some of those cuts. And how about this for the ads: Tech moguls own sports teams and race ships and watch from their huge yachts. They sold while you bought and then the Dow went down.

If this were fantasy football, someone who's more of a longshot could really bet on Iraq going badly. Be the candidate who's against it. If it goes fine and there's incontrovertible proof that we should have taken them down, you're out. But if anything wrinkles, you're suddenly the stand up guy.

The Dems should hammer education and the environment. Bush has slacked up on these things a lot. I don't know how many votes they could garner, but there's a chance.

Not that I want the Dems to win. But let's at least make it interesting.
I'm someone who's very prone to getting song stuck in my head (if you've known me in RL/meatspace you know this is true). Lovely Interact Correspondent Christine sent in this fact-filled tretise Why Some Ditties Stick in Your Head.

(You're a musician, Jaq. Comments?)
Got our tickets for TTT tomorrow night. Cross your fingers for a tolerable experience.

Friday, December 13

John J Miller has a great editorial about Tolkien in the 12.6 edition of the WSJ called Myth at the Multiplex.

Specifically, he picks up Gandalf's line about being 'a servant of the Secret Fire', asking why Jackson would leave it in when it is so obscure.

Answer: because it's a wicked-cool line, no matter where you're coming from and this sort of subtle magic is key to Tolkien's spells (see the attendant post The enormous power of reticence and discussion on Collaboratory).

By way of further explanation, Miller quotes Bradley J Birzer's new book 'JRR Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth' which says this is the 'most important religious statement in the book'. That statement is moot (ie to say, unendingly arguable). However, Birzer goes on to write 'The Secret Fire, Tolkien once told a friend, is really the Holy Spirit.'.

Now, there are a bunch of people who want to say Birzer is wrong here and that Gandalf is just talking about Nenya, the ring of fire (cue Johnny Cash).

But if this is what Tolkien said, which we can't prove but seems highly likely, then there's really no arguing or reinterpreting it.

(In fact, I think most of the ideas asserted as facts over on the Opinion Journal Reader's Responses, eg Christian appropriation of a pagan feast to observe Christ's birth being a myth, are wrong compared with Miller's facts.)

Tolkien's work continues to inspire me (though I have a lot of trepidation about TTT's departures).
I'm becoming a bigger My Way fan all the time. They've expanded their personalization to multiple pages. Aaaaahh.

Thursday, December 12

Have you seen all of the Google-y good on the web these days?

Google Labs now has Webquotes and Viewer.

The Google Zeitgeist for the first 11 months of the year is out.

Froogle is Google's product-finder. It's kind of like what Paul was talking about with Google Marketplace, but without a cut for Google. It's better and purer that way. They can still make money on (appropriate) ads.

The Google Weblog suggested:

What are the most linked-to pages? If you do a search for "http" (as in, http://) you get something pretty close to the answer. It's probably not exact (Google and Yahoo are reversed from their Google Directory rankings, for example) but it's pretty interesting.

A friend sent me this picture. I didn't want to upload it, so I Googled it, the name of the comic escaping me. I found out it was Foxtrot from Allison's weblog: Middle School Life Through the Eyes of Allison, which has a lot of LotR stuff on it. Thanks, Allison.

Wednesday, December 11

You know those allegations you've seen about weblogs leaning right and how there's so much right-wing politics in weblogs? Technorati has the top 100 weblog links. Look at the list and assess: right, left, tech, entertainment, or other?
Yemen Demands U.S. Return Scuds Seized on Ship

I'm not for war or anything, but headlines like that are funny to me. Return them, or what?

Tuesday, December 10

One of the best things I've ever heard on SportsCenter (about two years ago):

It's hard for the Lightning to get the lid back on that 55-gallon drum of beat-down.
A couple of found things (no commentary):

The four most important inventions of all time (in Steven's opinion) I saw this URL and thought 'Cool, another Tolkien URL!'. Wrong. It's Finnish, which Quenyan was modled after. What's more, it has something to do with Lutheranism (and may just mean 'Lutheran')

Have you noticed Google has pages in your native language of Elmer Fudd and Borkborkbork and Hacker and Klingon? And they're working on others...

404 Site not found according to Edgar Allen Poe a la 'The Raven'

One PC, Six Hard Drives, 37 OSes
I always think John is funny:

John and Colin are on the phone, discussing OJ Simpson's run from the law. The year is 1994.

John: Where do you think he is going?
Colin: Obviously he is going to kill himself.
John: Hold on, I am going to make a sandwich.
Colin: Don't blame me if you miss a once in a lifetime chance to see OJ kill himself.

John goes and makes a sandwich, the kind is no longer remembered.

John: Did I miss anything?
Colin: Yeah, OJ is dead. I hope you enjoy your sandwich.
John: Noo!
Colin: No.
I sure will be happy when this online meet people killer app has tapped out and I don't have to see all the cheesy ads any more.
I'm pretty sure I had the first two comments on the new system over at Brad's Desultory (great title).
In case you're interested, I really kicked it over at Collaboratory with many comments and a long, detailed post on Dostoevsky.
Congratulations to Brad Banks, QB at Iowa, AP Player of the Year.

Monday, December 9

There was an interesting article about Pearl Jam in USA Today on friday. They 'released a live double album for each of the 72 shows on its 2000-1 world tour - a staggering 144 discs.' It really worked for them: they sold fine and maintained higher quality of bootlegs and got money that illicit bootleggers might have gotten. They sold 1.3 million copies. This time around, they're only going to sell for a week after the show off of their website, and then the ones they like the best, they'll keep distributing nationally.

Now this is Pearl Jam. They're successful and set up. Could a similar kind of model work for your regular band?
Thoughts while sitting in front of football with my laptop yesterday (now if only we had Wi-Fi!)

For all of those people who said around week 5 that the Bledsoe trade was a bad idea: Baloney! It was too early to tell. Bledsoe is an amazing athlete, but Brady gets it done. True, Drew doesn't have the same supporting cast or coaching. But he makes bad decisions, too. He doesn't have that intangible winner thing. Maybe he's kind of like Marino in that way: great guy, great athlete, great mechanics, can't win it. Some of that is circumstantial. But there are some guys who get it done - the Joe Montanas of the world. He wasn't the most gifted athlete ever. But he could win with the best of them.

The Conventional Wisdom is that you shouldn't lose your starting position to injury. I don't think that's right. I think you go with the guy who is performing right now. I think Bill Belichek made the right call last year sticking with Brady (is this a theme?).

Most overused phrase in football: guts. This stuff doesn't matter enough for it to be guts. If it does, there's a big lack of perspective. (Of course that begs the question: why do I give it so much time? Is it enough that it's fun?)

Terrell Owens is one of the most amazing athletes playing football today. Every catch and run is a potential touchdown. His catch in the second half was totally singular. He's tougher and plays harder than Moss. But he's a punk, so I don't pull for him. I'd pull for effective, decent competitors, guys with class: Cris Carter, Jeff Garcia, Tom Brady, Emmitt Smith, Priest Holmes, and the like.

The way to win in the NFL is to put together a solid offensive line as the core for reasonable money. If you hae that, you don't need world-beater backs and recievers. You want a good kicker, too. After that you can get good guys on defense without paying too much. You can get effective backs and recievers. But if you gamble and spend too much money on big free agent 'stars', your O-line will probably suck, and then your stars will get killed. New England has built a good budget team that way without having to go through salary cap hell. Sheesh, I'm talking myself into being a New England fan.

Dallas has some young players like Woody Danzler and Roy Williams that they can build on. But they're O-line is terrible now.

I'm also becoming a Philadelphia fan. They just keep winning, with whatever QB they stick in there.
John Hardy had a cool post about a Victorian Laser featuring the quote 'Hodges emitted a scream the like of which I hadn`t heard since his scrotum was burned off during my experiment with fluorine gas last year.'

Friday, December 6

Have you seen the subculture that goes along with Jim Rome? I had no idea. Now that I'm managing a couple of fantasy sports teams, I've been listening to sports radio more. I caught some of Jim Rome today and he had me laughing out loud, so I thought I'd check the website.

Whoa. It looks every bit as bad as Rush Limbaugh, subculture-wise, with all of their inside jargon and their own name for Rome-followers (clones). Scary stuff. Comments?
John 13's got a funny story about impersonating a police officer (not laugh-out-loud funny, but worth reading. not that it's not laugh-out-loud funny. such a story wouldn't be - unless maybe heard in person, which i would love. enough stream-of-conciousness dissembling and commentary.).
John's got some cool pictures titled Our Earth as Art

Wednesday, December 4


-- Click Here To Take The Test --

I got this from John. Like him, I conclude that these results could have been worse. I have one more 'Moderate' score than John does. These assessments seem about right to me. Why do we display these things? What were your results?
Brad is a fellow pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church. He writes saying that he thinks the cries of 'paradigm shift!' regarding postmodernism are overwrought. He says rather than an abrupt shift this is a drift that's been going on for years and (without outting him, age-wise), he's probably the right age to know (and that's an ok thing!).

He makes a good point when he says there is an American bias in any such description. A lot of this stuff only relates to the US, and some only to middle-upper class whites in the suburbs.

However, the international perspective actually supports the paradigm shift theory, in part. It at least brings a valuable observation. Multiculturalism and globalism are part of the world worldview in ways they have never been before. Add to that the export of USAmerican pop culture (much of which is bad and harmful) and I see a new, emerging global reality. Time is 'speeding' up. The pace of change is accelerating. The amount of person hours available for the cranking out of scientific and cultural developments is expanding rapidly.

I'm not being anywhere near comprehensive here. Anyone want to help me fill this out? What do you think? Brad, come back...
War is coming.

I caught Rumsfeld (no precise link, sorry) on the news last night. He said any nation with any intelligence gathering capacity at all knows that Iraq has WMD. It will be up to Iraq to confess.

I think what will happen is that Iraq will say they don't. They'll roll the dice on world opinion stopping a forceable US disarmament of Iraq. And it won't.

Tuesday, December 3

I have to note Kathy's quote of Wil. When OU lost on saturday she said she was 'sad and sad a lot'.

Monday, December 2

I posted twice to the front page of SportsFilter today (hope that wasn't too much).
For those of you interested in the Hawkeyes: How Kirk Ferentz rebuilt the right way