• RFK, Man of Confidence?

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Ezra (?) writes : What struck me about Shakespeare's Sister's post wasn't that she was a girl playing video games, but that she'd articulated what I miss in video games, what I miss in culture, what I miss in politics. I miss heroes, and the sort of society that wants to see them. I want an RFK* to stand up and fight injustice ... * A tortured soul if there ever was one, but not publicly. Bwuh? Robert F. "I dream things that never were, and ask why not" Kennedy wasn't publicly a tortured soul? Bobby "I have come here because our great nation is troubled" Kennedy? Bobby "There is difficulty and division in the land" Kennedy? I could go on, but eventually I will shoot all the fish in the barrel.
  • We are all Spider-Man

    By Neil the Ethical Werewolf One feature of commonsense moral thought is the doing/allowing distinction. It's generally believed that it's worse to do some evil yourself than to allow another person to do the same evil, even if you have the power to stop them from doing it. I think this distinction plays a big role in shaping our social and political behavior -- for example, why we're unwilling to inflict corporal punishment on criminals, but willing to imprison them in situations where other inmates will abuse them. One of the most unfortunate ways this distinction operates in the world is by inhibiting action that would make faraway suffering people better off. Since you're not doing any actions that make the people in Sudan suffer, you're not obligated to act so as to prevent their suffering. Sure, it'd be great if you did something, but no obligation binds you. One of my favorite things about the kinds of heroes we find in fantasy is that this distinction has less of an impact on...
  • Gabba Gabba Hey CBGB Is in Trouble!

    By Pepper Given that there's a new quiz asking us to find out which 70s glam icon you are (I'm David Johansen of the New York Dolls), it's time to think about the state of legendary punk club CBGBs. CBGBs is in deep debt to its landlord. According to CBGB owner Hilly Kristal in a Spin magazine interview, CBGB and homeless nonprofit the Bowery Residents' Committee are fighting over big bucks: "They've tangled in court over $300,000 in back rent (which Kristal agreed to pay in installments in 2001), unbilled rent increases amounting to $85,000."
  • Stick to Baseball and Wall Street

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Michael Lewis, whose book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game almost upended my life, is apparently the last pro-Arnold commentator standing . You should read the article, but make sure you're not drinking any fizzy drinks when you do. Lewis is falling for the siren's call of the anti-politican; the notion that most professional pols are lesser men (how many fomer CEOs and multi-millionaire small businessmen are in the Senate?), and that just putting someone into office who's more in touch with the rest of us (why, exactly would a twenty-million-bucks-per-movie-actor fit into that category?) will both result in better governance and be more entertaining for the rest of us. Well, I suppose Arnold does make the headlines a bit more often; there aren't many other governors digging potholes so they can hold a photo-op to fill them. Meanwhile, in the Reality-Based community, the Governator is currently losing head-to-head matchups with...
  • So LA

    By Ezra Went to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery ("Resting Place of Hollywood's Immortals!") last night for their Movie on the Mausoleum. It's one of the weirder LA events I've been to: 600 attractive young folk, about 80% of them hipsters, tromping through graves and between tiki candles to set up blankets and picnics in the spaces not occupied by plaques. A DJ spins creepy (but very good) house music while old movie posters flicker on the walls. At 9PM, everyone breaks out the alcohol, Hitchcock comes on screen, and the move begins. Last night was Perfect Strangers. Hollywood Forever, for those who don't know, is a cemetery for the lions and lionesses of the entertainment industry. Think Arlington National, but instead of JFK, you have Cecil B. DeMille. And instead of resting in peace, the expired celebs are still public attractions: people tour the cemetery, watch movies on the lawn, make pilgrimages to see their favorite stars. The men and women buried there lived in the public eye...
  • Journalisming Done Right

    By Ezra This LA Times debunking of mythical lawsuits is the best piece on tort issues I've read in a major paper in the last year. I just exited a class where the teacher taught almost solely through the lens of a few weird, anomalous court cases, cases that either didn't seem to exist or he radically misinterpreted. That, unfortunately, is the same level on which the tort reform debate operates -- scare stories about criminals tripping on sideway cracks and grannies fleecing fast food chains for millions because they didn't know coffee was hot. It's crap. All of it. It's crap in the context of malpractice , and it's crap here. And major props to the LA Times for pointing that out. It's a reality check that's long overdue, and they couched it in an article that's both comprehensive and entertaining. Read it.
  • Heroes

    Shakes' post on female gamers has gotten much deserved attention, from men and women alike. Earlier today, she e-mailed to ask me why, saying that she knew the secretly violent femmes would respond, but not the stereotypically violent mens. I couldn't quite answer then, but I can now. And it was her other post , on Cindy Sheehan, that clarified it. What struck me about her piece was her articulation of what's always attracted me to games; the desire to be a hero. If you read her blog, it's the same thing, there's a subtext that says one girl and her keyboard can change the country, one girl and her keyboard can light enough fires on enough mountains that, Lord of the Rings style, the other bloggers will see the flames and wave the torches in front of their audiences, the audiences will light flares before their politicians, the politicians will set fireworks in front of the media, and all of us will finally snap out of our stupor, strap on our swords, and march on her political Mordor...
  • Regime Change in Baghdad

    By Neil the Ethical Werewolf Ezra has already mentioned the bizarre events that took place in Baghdad on Monday. A bunch of armed Shiite militiamen entered Baghdad's municipal building, deposed the mayor, and installed their own guy in office. The deposed mayor is unharmed -- apparently he wasn't in the building at the time -- but he has officially resigned, and he's fleeing the country. There's a bunch of things to be said about this. How well can we be doing in providing security when thugs can just march into City Hall, kick out the old mayor, and install a new one? How can you have a stable democracy when anybody with enough guns can put whoever they want into power? How can we convince Sunnis to buy into the new Iraqi government when Shiites are using weapons to put people into office? But the thing I really want to address is the way that this shows the error of so much right-wing talk about regime change.
  • Gaming and Gender Roles

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Shakes' essay on female figures in video games brings all sorts of interesting thoughts to the foreground. This graf in particular caught my eye:
  • Ask the Audience: What Should We Call Ourselves?

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math I'll add some substantive material soon enough, but for now, we need your help. As Ezra mentioned , he's turning over the reins to several of us on weekends, or at least slowing down from his weekday pace of seven or eight posts a day. I'm super-psyched for this arrangement, but our intrepid team of guest bloggers is missing a key ingredient. We need a nickname. Number-themed nicknames (like "the Far-Flung Five" or "The Dirty Half Dozen") are probably not a great idea, since it members will come and go during vacations, finals, dissertation defenses, etc. But other than that there are no rules. Put your suggestions in the comments.