Thursday, October 06, 2016

A Listicle from the Gray Lady

Lacking the fun & excitement of being in the path of a major hurricane likely to destroy my house, I was pulled into a Tom Levenson tweetstorm about a New York Times list of Trump business ventures. The article is basically just a listicle, grouping 60 ventures by type and sorting them into 3 slightly misnamed categories. "Didn't work out" seems to mean "Never got started", "Had problems" seems to be "Failed" & "Measured Up" means someone did OK with it.

The weaknesses Tom noted in this method are very real. Are these licensing or employment deals? Who has control (1)? Who had a real financial stake? Is it a real product of use or someone, or a fraud? Who's zooming who? The case of Trump University is, of course, being heard in federal court on terms of fraud and racketeering. (Yes, the Republican Party nominated a candidate who is on trial for civil charges of racketeering. And half the country is fine with that)

Would it be possible to produce a better article with more clearly defined criteria?

The actor career overviews at 538 have 2 well defined axes, critical rating & Box Office. Still, they can't really show the difference between Adam Sandler & Tom Hanks.

In the case of these generally private businesses, solid information is as elusive as Trump's tax returns. Only the ones (and there are plenty) that led to lawsuits leave records. The successes the Times lists are mostly golf courses and buildings. A TV show that was good for one season before descending into shoddy formulas, with the manipulations increasingly bald. Are any of these things that made the world better? Not really. What's an example of a business that made the world better? Barbie.

Barbie is on her last legs. We'll miss her.

Trump has only a grifter's measure : Did I make money off it? As he said about his wrecked casinos & the destruction of Atlantic City - one of the times he had a real fiduciary duty - WaPo : (2)

Trump received more than $44 million in salary, bonuses and other compensation during his time at the company, filings show. He also benefited from tens of millions of dollars more in special deals, advisory fees and “service agreements” he negotiated with his company.

Trump’s campaign did not make him available to respond to specific questions about the company, but in a recent Washington Post interview, Trump said he “made a lot of money in Atlantic City,” adding, “I make great deals for myself.”

He expounded: “They say, ‘Why don’t you take the casinos public or something?’ You know, if you take them public, you make money on that. All I can say is I wasn’t representing the country. I wasn’t representing the banks. I wasn’t representing anybody but myself.”

This is a savage, short tem view that leads to isolation, and the eternal search for the next sucker. The degree to which it's accepted as an acceptable only standard is a gauge of how close we are to chaos.

And the one word in the Levenson TweetStorm that really misses the point - "how" Trump would do as President. How is easy  - by any measure of objective success of the United States as a nation, a community, a dream, he'd be a disaster. The real message of his business record is lost in the listicle. Trump doesn't care whether a business produces anything, whether the people with or behind him do well, whether customers or suppliers get wiped out. The real question is whether there is still, after decades of Republican nihilism, enough heart left in the country to stop him before he  - and the savages he's unbound - destroy the whole notion of government by & for the people.

(1)That gets muddy fast.. People can make anything muddy. I was once stumped by someone's explanation of who owned the 3rd floor apartment in their house. Trump's deposition about who was in charge of the Post Office development is a classic of the genre.

(2) As a follow up - looks like the WaPo might have missed a lot of even worse screwing of investors. legal? No - but within the margin where a failure to prosecute is a judgment call, until they find the bribe.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

2 Samuel

The Sunday Bible series has now hit 2 Samuel. Samuel has nothing to do with this book, having died early in 1 Samuel, but that's OK. this is still one of the best known stories, ever : The story of Joab. Joab, David's consigliore, is about the greatest ever at his job. All David's fighting & marrying & facing rebellions, Joab is there to keep things in line. When David was pulling his hair after the absurd death of Absalom, Joab was the one who told him to snap out of it and thank the guys who'd actually stood by him. We begin, of course, with the theme song. The only choice here is which version,

And the reading is 2 Samuel 20, Joab TCB:
20 Now a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjamite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted,

“We have no share in David,
no part in Jesse’s son!
Every man to his tent, Israel!”

2 So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

3 When David returned to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace and put them in a house under guard. He provided for them but had no sexual relations with them. They were kept in confinement till the day of their death, living as widows.

4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Summon the men of Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself.” 5 But when Amasa went to summon Judah, he took longer than the time the king had set for him.

6 David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bikri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us." 7 So Joab’s men and the Kerethites and Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Abishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.

8 While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath.

9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab’s hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri.

11 One of Joab’s men stood beside Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!” 12 Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realized that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him. 13 After Amasa had been removed from the road, everyone went on with Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.

14 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites,[b] who gathered together and followed him. 15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, 16 a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” 17 He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”

“I am,” he answered.

She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”

“I’m listening,” he said.

18 She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”

20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”

The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”

22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

David’s Officials

23 Joab was over Israel’s entire army; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; 24 Adoniram[c] was in charge of forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 25 Sheva was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26 and Ira the Jairite was David’s priest.

(Picture by Zach Franzen - )
Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. 16 And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels[b] and who was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.
18 In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha.
19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair[c] the Bethlehemite killed the brother of[d] Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.
20 In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. 21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David’s brother, killed him.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

1 Samuel

1 Samuel! You thought there'd be no Bible on Easter? Hah! It is to laugh.
Today's book is a tale of succession, planned by The LORD, that makes Lear look orderly. Rather than a full chapter, I have to post bits, because the plot is too strong. But I haven't missed the theme song!
Our Sam is the son of Hannah, a beloved wife who got picked on because Wife #1 was more fertile. So she prayed herself up a son, and delivered him into priesthood.He becomes the Big Cheese of priests. Israel was getting tired of endless wars and wanted a king. Sammy warned them to be careful what they wished for, but gave in and designated Saul, a large lunk who wandered in looking for lost donkeys as King. Saul did OK for a while, but screwed up -

17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”

26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”

27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”
 So then we come to David (selected by GOD as heir), trash talking to fight Goliath:

4 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
 After which, Saul gets nervous about David, and thinks he can buy him off with a daughter. Cue the foreskins!

20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.”

22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’”

23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”

24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25 Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.

26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.
 Most of the rest of the book is Saul chasing David, one or the other fighting Phlistines, and David getting and losing multiple wives.(Very confusing- I'm looking forward to the invention of monogamy)
Along the way, Saul, getting old & desperate, decided he needed to talk to Samuel (Remember Samuel? It's a book about Samuel, although he died a while back)

7 Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”

“There is one in Endor,” they said.

8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”

9 But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”

11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure[a] coming up out of the earth.”

14 “What does he look like?” he asked.

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Judges 3

I picked Ehud, rather than Gideon, Samson or Deborah, as the chapter to post of Judges. For those unclear on the book, Judges were a string of leaders who appointed themselves to clean up Israel. which they each did, for a while, but then it backslid, due to violation of the rule laid down in Deuteronomy : When taking someone's land, be merciless.

Judges 3 New International Version (NIV)
These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.
The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.


The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. 10 The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.


12 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and because they did this evil the Lord gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms. 14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.
15 Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a cubit long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it. 19 But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal he himself went back to Eglon and said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.”
The king said to his attendants, “Leave us!” And they all left.
20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace.” 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.
26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.
28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the Lord has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab; they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not one escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.


31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Exodus 21

Exodus is a great story, maybe the best in the Bible. Everybody knows the main parts. You've seen the Charlton Heston version, but also a lot of others. All those Star Trek episodes about ultra-powerful aliens that are really just angry children? Yep, that's Exodus.

 After the preliminaries of getting the characters introduced and setting up the plot, there's a scene in that's rather famous:

21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”
24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)

The LORD loves the plagues. He had 10 planned and wasn't taking Yes for an answer. But he really, really hates foreskin.
And you know the next parts, where GOD makes an excuse to slaughter babies, Egyptians, and frogs. A brief musical number, and they're on their way into the desert. There, they wander around acting crazy until the locals get concerned.

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Moses as 12th man. Sure, why not?

After all that the story starts to drag. 40 years of wandering around, somehow not losing agricultural skills in 2 generations of living off manna in the desert. The next 20 chapters read like the Internal Revenue Code. So, at last, today's chapter:

Exodus 21 New International Version (NIV)
21 “These are the laws you are to set before them:

Hebrew Servants

“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.
“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges.[a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.
“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself,[b] he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

Personal Injuries

12 “Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.
15 “Anyone who attacks their father or mother is to be put to death.
16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.
17 “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.
18 “If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist and the victim does not die but is confined to bed, 19 the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed.
20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.
22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
26 “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.
28 “If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death. 30 However, if payment is demanded, the owner may redeem his life by the payment of whatever is demanded. 31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter. 32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death.
33 “If anyone uncovers a pit or digs one and fails to cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the one who opened the pit must pay the owner for the loss and take the dead animal in exchange.
35 “If anyone’s bull injures someone else’s bull and it dies, the two parties are to sell the live one and divide both the money and the dead animal equally. 36 However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, yet the owner did not keep it penned up, the owner must pay, animal for animal, and take the dead animal in exchange.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Online Chess, for Free

Once upon a time I was a good chessplayer. The USCF remembers. If I was to enter a tournament, my rating would start about 3 classes above my current playing strength. I'd do better playing golf

except I haven't learned to walk a fairway in 4 inch heels.

After quitting tournaments, I hung out for a while in the Square. Playing outside, with real people & smelly basset hounds was pretty good. A long time ago I discovered free online chess. Why is there free online chess? Because that's the going rate.

The first site was Microsoft Gaming Zone. Well designed, good graphics, and you could play it on a modem. Don't think it's there anymore.

So I moved on to Excite. The graphics were a bit off, but it worked pretty well. Then they turned all their games over to Pogo. Pogo tried to monetize the game with advertising. It sucked.

The next step down was Yahoo. Yahoo started the trend of really lazy programming. For years and years, they never fixed obvious problems. People would leave boards open. Lots of boards. 95% of open boards, looking for a player, would actually be unattended. You could offer a draw when not on move. Finishing off a jerk, but in a bit of time trouble? They hit you with 15 draw offers. You have to clear them & can't move. Yahoo dropped chess without fixing it.

So, now there's a primitive form on Facebook.

Anyhow, try it out.
One thing never changes - Your opponent is probably a 13 year old boy with bad skin and a worse attitude.

If you're serious about chess there are a lot of really great sites to study, do problems, and find events.
But the gameplay seems to have been designed by Barbie.

Alas, my girl has been let down again . Computer Engineer? As if. Even for basic coding, she had to turn to boys. If the suits at Mattel can't even be bothered to protect their meal ticket, I dunno. I weep. Maybe Hello Kitty can become a role model.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sad news from Edgar

Barbie has fallen on tough times. According to the last 10-Q, Barbie sales are down 15% this year. Mattel is doing pretty poorly except for American Girl. Sure, we can all agree to hate Fisher-Price. But this is just sad:
So get out there and buy a Barbie. Don't have a small girl in the household? No Problem! Barbie has thousands of uses.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Made for TV Spectaculars!

What to do when the day is rained out, the family is on the road, and your back is sore?

Watch TeeVee & blog, of course. Time for the 200th post in this joint.

I miss the old time Made for TV movie. Sure, if you look at any kind of serious list of the best ever, there are a bunch of artsy cable flicks, and they're still making those.  On different fronts, SyFy has plumbed ever deeper veins in the cheese mines. Hallmark has perfected instant product  :  tune into any of their movies, at any point, and you know exactly what's going on & how it will turn out.


I miss Lindsay Wagner heart tuggers, Barbara Eden pepfests, Robert Vaughn villainy, and Christmas Specials, most of all.

2 of the greatest ever were Chritmas specials!

Silent Night, Lonely Night was about 2 middle aged strangers hooking up at Christmas, and....
And nothing, really. They filled up the time taking long taxi rides from the bus station to the hotel a few yards away, and talking about their marriages. Just the perfect holiday movie!

Lloyd looks slightly more appalled than I remember.

Sunshine Christmas is even better. A Texan whose wife died (In Sunshine : this is a sequel) comes home from Canada for Christmas and maunders about whether to stay & hitch up with Barbara Hershey. I remembered how good the young Kirstie Alley looked in this, until I looked it up & found out it was Meg Foster. Oh well.

Another great one was Single Bars & Single Women. I thought this was about Earl Holliman & the meat market bar scene of the 1970s, until a woman explained it to me : She'd had the same jacket that Shelley Hack wore in the show.

Alas, I can't find it, but there is this classic clip:

There you have it America! For the Glorious 4th - moral decay, corporate soullessness & a deep nostalgia for that which never was.

(I note that this long dormant ghost of a blog has now passed 140,000 page views. 2% humans? Maybe)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

100,000 views, Lincoln, & Concern Trolls

The strange popularity of this blog among the robot set (500 views a day & no real comments) has pushed it over 100,000 page views.

To celebrate without illusions, it's convenient that I've been reading The Coming Fury, and found a passage about Lincoln's secretaries answering letters during the campaign. Per Catton, Lincoln, asked to soothe Southerners sincerely disturbed by the tone of the campaign, replied "There are no such men".

Or, in a more modern - Linkable! version -

The president understood the dangers that any public pronouncement would entail. Shortly after the 1860 presidential election, Mr. Lincoln talked to one visitor about yielding to the worries of Southerners: "It is the trick by which the South breaks down every northern man. I would go to Washington without the support of the men who supported me and were my friends before election. I would be as powerless as a block of buckeye wood. The honest man (you are talking of honest men) will look at our platform and what I have said. There they will find everything I could now say or which they would ask me to say. All I could say would be but repetition. Having told them all these things ten times already, would they believe the eleventh declaration? Let us be practical. There are many general terms afloat, such as 'conservatism,' 'enforcement of the irrepressible conflict at the point of the bayonet,' 'hostility to the South,' and so forth - all of which mean nothing without definition. What then could I say to allay their fears, if they will not define what particular act or acts they fear from me or my friends?"

Which is, of course, a bit different than Catton's version. Such are quotes from the pre-tape recorder era. "Modern quotes are 100% accurate" - Albert Camus.