November 22, 2004

Down, But Not Out

Posted in General at 12:51 pm by Ian

I know you’re probably wondering why Evilblog has been down for the last week. Here are a few excuses I’ve come up with:

  1. Forgot to pay hosting bill.
  2. Electrical cord to server unfortunately routed across doorway.
  3. It wasn’t dead; it was restin’.
  4. What are you talking about? Website was up the whole time. Problem must be on your end.
  5. For balance, some time should be spent not being a webserver; it’s a Zen thing.
  6. Beginning of Death of EvilBlog story arc. Increased readership to follow from expanded line of parallel blogs: blogofsteel.net, blogoftomorrow.net, lastsonofevil.net, and blogboy.net.
  7. It was a hardware problem.
  8. Evilblog.net now off the grid, data served by homing pigeon. Please increase your http timeout to four days or greater.
  9. Switched servers and updated the wrong DNS entry again.
  10. It was a software problem.
  11. While increasing the security of my site, accidently modified Apache source code to encrypt the headers too.
  12. Hoping to avoid embarrassment at having nothing to post.
  13. Sasha’s treatment of the mouse as a toy and the keyboard as a bed can have unpredictable results.

The real reason is that I have no idea why. But I can’t prove that it’s not one of the above.

November 16, 2004

A Real Wonderingment

Posted in General at 6:09 pm by Ian

How do fools get all that money in the first place?

November 15, 2004

Dancing Vs. Magic

Posted in General at 9:50 pm by Ian

I was totally planning to go to the Swing Jam thing on Saturday; really, I was. I decided to make a day of it by going down to the Qualifier Tournament for Pro Tour Nagoya in Costa Mesa, after which I would head to Claremont for the dance. I took my friend Bryce with me because he wanted to play in the tournament and was willing to either give dancing a try or hang out for a few hours while I got my groove on.

But then, don’tcha know, I just kept winning my matches. Starting with my first round opponent, who I beat handily due to a combination of elite Magic skillz and the fact that he misregistered his deck, receiving a first round match loss, I began a winning streak that lasted until the second round, when my opponent pounded me into the dust. Seriously, this guy’s deck was ridiculous. I almost pulled out a draw by winning the second game of the match, but then I didn’t :(. I later found out that I had done remarkably well against him, though. We had two close games, and he didn’t lose a single game until the 8th round (Quarterfinals) of the tournament.

But then I started actually winning. I won my way right into the top 8. And then I won the quarterfinals. And then I won the semifinals. And then I stared down my final round opponent, Sam Stein, battling for the coveted invitation to a professional tournament (and $500 1st place prize). But then I came to my senses and realized that I probably wasn’t going to make it to Japan this year and Sam really wanted to go. So we split the prizes. He gets to go to a Pro Tour, and I get to be $275 richer. Sadly, by this point it was 11:40, making my trip to Claremont a non-starter.

In retrospect, I wish I had gone for it. Not for the invite, exactly, but more for the fact that I think I would have won. But there will certainly be a next time. I’m already talking to a guy at work about getting a team ready to try to qualify for the Team Pro Tour in Atlanta (a trip which is much more within my budget than Japan).

So I didn’t get to dance this weekend, but I did get the satisfaction of having my entertainment budget be in the black for probably the first time in history.

Exotic Titan

Posted in General at 4:09 pm by Ian

The Cassini Probe found some pretty interesting stuff, it seems:
It looks very much like it’s something that oozed across the surface. It may be some sort of cryovolcanic flow, an analog to volcanism on Earth that is not molten rock but, at Titan’s very cold temperatures, molten ice.
Emphasis mine
I wonder how that’s different from, say, liquid steam.

November 11, 2004

Juvenile Justice

Posted in General at 10:28 pm by Ian

linky

November 5, 2004

Deciphering the Election Results or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Republicans

Posted in General at 7:34 pm by Ian

I’ve been meaning to write about the election for the last few days, but it never quite came out right. As a stopgap solution, and because I hate not seeing today’s date at the top of my blog, I posted a snarky joke about secession.

I also wrote a relatively vicious and mocking post lambasting the majority of Bush voters for their uninformed and foolish votes, but then I looked again at a sentence I had written, and I realized that I was going about this all the wrong way. At best, I was going to score some cheap points with people who already agreed with me, and I’d likely lose the respect of some other friends who feel vilified for their choices. So, taking my cue from the guidelines for being an Evil Overlord (ever a guiding light in my times of moral ambiguity)
34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

Last week’s list of reasons you should vote for Bush was originally meant to have actual reasons interspersed with the tongue-in-cheek ones, but through a combination of fatigue and general surliness, I ended up venting my spleen instead. Here are the actual issues on which I favor Bush:

  • He has a more realistic plan for Social Security than Kerry. Which I will define here as any plan for dealing with Social Security aside from insisting that it be maintained as is and/or ignoring it until it’s too late.
  • He’s against gun control.
  • He does not toady to the UN. This one’s really on the fence, though, because I think he’s done a phenomenally terrible job of it. I think that the unilateral actions of the US are both effectually bad in the sense that they will not result in a positive effect on international terrorism (their claimed purpose) and politically bad because our allies were dubious in the first place and we went ahead and did it anyway and they were right. But in principle, I don’t think the US should stoop quite so low in the international community.
  • Education. Before he was the War President, he was the Education President. But it looks like he hasn’t really lived up to it. No Child Left Behind is not bad in theory; I think that there should be standardized tests for schoolchildren. If they can’t pass, hold ’em back. But in practice, it basically put standards into place without funding them. Furthermore, since its passage, he has worked to cut funding to schools. Not the most stellar record. But, then, I didn’t hear much from Kerry on anything better.

Ok. It’s a short list, and full of qualifiers. But I don’t think he’s all bad.

There are lots of other issues on which I can easily see myself disagreeing with another informed voter, though. Perhaps Bush voters think that taxes should be cut, regardless of the fact that a huge proportion of the gains go to the richest members of our country. I consider it to be a very bad idea, but not everybody does. Perhaps they believe that the war in Iraq was justified, and that it will turn out all right. I don’t know what justification they would argue, but I’m willing to believe that there’s an argument to be made.

Or perhaps I’m looking at things the wrong way.

Last week I posted a link to a survey of Bush and Kerry supporters that showed an alarming amount of cognitive dissonance on the part of a large proportion of Bush supporters. Assuming that votes for Bush were largely cast by the ignorant, I tore into them for not caring enough about important issues to even bother reading the news.

But then I realized: It’s not that they don’t read the news; it’s that those aren’t important issues to them. Above, I listed four issues on which I supported President Bush. Yet I never remotely considered the possibility of voting for him because those issues aren’t important to me.

President Bush was re-elected with the largest number of popular votes ever. He also had the most votes against him of any incumbent ever, and was elected with the lowest approval rating ever.

Clearly, there are a lot of people who have very strong feelings on both sides. But I don’t think that they are on the same issues. I think that what is incredibly important to one group is basically ignored by another.

So, here’s why you should care about my issues:
USAPATRIOT Act:
This one’s a little hard to explain without hysterics, and I remain amazed that more people aren’t up in arms over it. It is so incredibly Orwellian that it almost defies belief. This act

  • Suspends the right to a trial by jury, as required by the Constitution.
  • Allows for the creation of secret laws. That’s right. You can be accused of breaking a law that was never published. Furthermore, you have difficulty in court because you can’t produce the law under which you have been punished, without which it can’t be ruled unconstitutional
  • Removes the right to be served with a warrant. They can conduct searches and lock you up without ever telling you what you are accused of.
  • Removes the right to counsel, as required by the Constitution.

I don’t know what else to say about this. It frightens me that such legislation can be passed and supported by so many people. Regardless of any other issue, I would have voted against Bush for his continued support of this rights-depriving atrocity.

Separation of Church and State (most notably, Gay Rights):
I was ashamed to see the results of the 11 anti-gay initiatives. I have a whole barrel of arguments for why this is just wrong. But I don’t imagine they’ll do any good. I can only hope that in a few generations I won’t be so stuck in my ways as to completely miss the important civil rights struggle of that time.

Moreover, I can’t argue that this was an ignored issue; this is something that people want! It’s still not something that we care about the same way, though. I care about it because I believe in the principle of the civil rights involved; they care because it’s a moral issue. What worries me the most is that nobody has even stopped to consider that, if you have to amend the Constitution of your state to pass a law because the law would otherwise be blatantly unconstitutional… maybe that law deserves a second look. Maybe it’s a bad idea after all.

Finally, it sickens me how many of those initiatives included language that prohibited civil unions. I have long bit my tongue when people waxed on the importance of the symbolism of the word “marriage,” and how calling something else that would cheapen the union. I disagree with the notion that a marriage between two people of the same gender would cheapen anything, but I respect that people are willing to compromise and not let their personal beliefs get in the way of equal rights and opportunities. It seems that most people don’t believe that at all, and, given the chance, will put the queers in their place.

Now, tell my why I should care about your issues.

November 4, 2004

Obligatory Election Reaction

Posted in General at 10:36 am by Ian

I think that we need to give some serious thought to this proposal.