July 2003 Archives

Source of the 45 minutes claim found

Claims don't actually amount to much.

The Telegraph reports (via Instapundit) more claims from the man who told UK intelligence sources that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction that it could launch in 45 minutes.

Note that this is still one source, and he could still be lying (or misinformed). Remember, the concerns that intelligence sources had at the time were that a) they didn't have any corroboration for this story, and b) that they thought it was wrong.

The interesting thing, to me, is the type of WMD that are claimed here. Despite much of the rest of the dossier being about missiles that could hit Israel or British bases in Cyprus, even today, the source only says Iraq had battlefield chemical or biological weapons (he doesn't know which). They were prepared for the "inevitable" (according to Saddam) US invasion of Iraq.

Let me get this straight. We went to war because one guy, who our guys didn't particularly trust, said that if we did, we'd be shot at - by some unspecified form of weaponry. Where, in all of this, is the threat by Iraq to its neighbours?

Why Dean will win

And, for bonus points, why every other President has ever won, too.

A recent formula for determining the electability of Presidential and vice-presidential candidates uses things like the number of years they've served as President, Vice-President, House Representative and Governor (being a Senator apparently counts for nothing) and advantageous backgrounds (son of a Senator, general, that sort of thing). It's been tweaked to successfully predict the outcome of all previous Presidential elections, ever, and now purports to predict the next election.

Having been Governor of Vermont for so long, Dean ends up ahead of the field, and is electable by himself irrespective of who he chooses as Vice-President. Others are not so fortunate:

Joseph I. Lieberman would need to choose someone who has been a governor and/or U.S. Representative for at least five years, who is the child of a U.S. Senator, who has been a banker, and who has been a college or university president or chancellor. The existence of such a person is left as an exercise for the Lieberman campaign.

Weird fucked-up memes come together - and fight crime

Arnold Schwarzenegger TV ads from Japan.

Mad crazy Arnold Japanese TV ads (via Laughing Meme).

(In case you're confused by the They fight crime reference, well, don't be.)

The Chinese have an awful lot of martial arts

"Given the strange proliferation of KFC's we saw on our trip to China, I wouldn't even be surprised to find a School of the Shaolin Spork. This is a people not afraid to specialize."

Seen at Idle Words: a fantastic account of the sheer range of Chinese martial arts. Go read it now.

Pakh Pakh ends on a high

Doing Fantasy properly part 2

I had problems with some of the preceding sessions of Pakh Pakh. I think that when you've reached the end of your three-year journey, and you're ready to lead armies from all the civilisations that you've encountered en route against an army from another planet (the moon crash-landed, and brought Evil with it), there really is some sort of narrative momentum that the GM should convey - and I feel that that mood often wasn't present in the last couple of weeks.

This is minor quibbling, though, because today's two (back to back) sessions were immensely enjoyable, and not just because a long campaign ended with a heroic last-gasp victory.

Some of it was geekish fun: Brian had given us 10 million XP last week, and we had two sessions today, so we got to level up twice in one day. In a perverted sense, the AD&D rules started getting easy again, as my THAC0 was now 0, so I was hitting armour class minus <whatever the die roll was>, rather than having to do maths.

But the most important thing was atmosphere. Good, appropriate music was always playing, there was hardly any pissing about, there was a fair amount of good in-character roleplaying and heroic speeches, a final battle between huge armies full of stupid amounts of magic that lasted a week, and finally a one-on-one battle with a God, on the moon, involving magical artifacts, prophecies, the hardest spell in the rulebook (which my character survived), and the final killing blow being delivered, in her dying moment, by the party's stone-handed thief, whose remains are now officially the world's first holy relic.

(By which I mean surviving body parts of a saint or hero, as opposed to any other kind of magic item, which our wizard was making by the bucket-load as we travelled to the final battle.)

And we got to do all the fun end of campaign stuff, like deleted scenes, finding out what the world actually looked like (compared to our crude inconsistent scale map that we'd drawn throughout the campaign), Brian telling us about stuff that we'd missed / had ignored completely, that sort of thing. Which was important, as we'd just had a big huge climax, and you need to wind down from that gently. I won't go into details, because that's boring "Don't tell me about your character" stuff you don't want to hear.

I wouldn't say that Pakh Pakh was perfect, by any means - although most of this was to do with it being AD&D, and that's fair enough, given that we signed up to play AD&D, not a wonderful fantasy campaign. But I think it ended on a high, when it could easily have not, and all credit to Brian for that.

Atrocious puns from the Onion

"Meatwave" is one of the tamest.

Crufty Open Source interfaces, part 94

Poking fun at the Open Source weenies

there should be some sort of solidarity among computer people, from the toolmaker-gods on down to the tech-support weenies - not a "keep out the barbarian hordes" kind of solidarity, but more of a "let's not make this any harder on each other than we have to" solidarity. Every developer out there who writes "X_Graph_Bork Error 452" in a pop-up instead of "I'm expecting X, but I only see Y. You can get X from..." really is ruining things for the rest of us just to save a few keystrokes.

There's some more interesting (and well-written) stuff at the the guy's blog. Got this from mpt.

Similarly, from JWZ:

"RottenFlesh effortlessly generates parodies of stupid software submitted to freshmeat.net. With RottenFlesh, you can effortlessly mock the open-source establishment. RottenFlesh stays crunchy in milk."

Oh my God, that's a big fucking dog

I mean, really.

I'm sitting in a chair. Laszlo is sitting on the floor. I reach out to stroke him.

Out. Across. Not down.

That dog is large.

Organic Fair Trade bananas

What's not to like?

Cleodhna was role-playing at Brian's tonight, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even the out of character comments - for instance, Al's recollection of having blue light bulbs when he was "a teenager trying to be interesting" (Brian had wanted to get blue light bulbs for tonight's creepy horror). But she didn't like the Penguin biscuits someone had arrived with - nasty, artificial, vaguely cocoa-tasting - and at that point had a real craving for the organic Fair Trade bananas we have a home.

And she's right. I mean, they're fruit, so they're good for you. And they're organic, so they taste better and they're better for the environment. And they're Fair Trade, so they're better for the farmers in Third World countries.

They're Fully Buzzword Compliant. And they taste wonderful. They're comfort food for the soul.