Ah, Logic

Granted, we can’t expect the Right to actually honor it, steeped as they are in the politics of fear and bigotry, but take a look at this analysis of their opposition to same-sex marriage. Hint: it’s got no rational legs.

The anti-gay-marriage soundbite, by contrast, makes no attempt at persuasion. It’s like saying you oppose the Bush tax cuts because “I believe the top tax rate should be 39.6 percent.” You believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman? Okay! But why?

The ubiquity of this hollow formulation tells us something about the state of anti-gay-marriage thought. It’s a body of opinion held largely by people who either don’t know why they oppose gay marriage or don’t feel comfortable explicating their case.

In a liberal society, consenting adults are presumed to be able to do as they like, and it is incumbent upon opponents of any such freedom to demonstrate some wider harm. The National Organization for Marriage, on its website, instructs its activists to answer the who-gets-harmed query like so: “Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who.” Former GOP Senator Rick Santorum, arguing along similar lines, has said, “[I]f anybody can get married for any reason, then it loses its special place.”€

Both these arguments rest upon simple tautologies. Expanding a right to a new group deprives the rest of us of our right to deny that right to others. If making a right less exclusive devalues it, then any extension of rights is an imposition upon those who were not previously excluded — i.e., women’€™s suffrage makes voting less special for men.

(Via JeffreyP.)

Updated: Link fixed; high-order characters removed from quote.

Dept. of New Music You’ll Have to Download Illegally

So, DangerMouse has teamed with Sparklehorse to produce a new record, intended to be sold with a book of photographs by David Lynch, all under the title Dark Night of the Soul. Each track has a different singer, and the rogues’ gallery is impressive; from the NPR story:

In addition to Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous), other artists appearing on Dark Night of the Soul include James Mercer of The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch, and Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils.

For reasons passing understanding, though, EMI has apparently gotten all douchey over the CD itself, so the book will be released with a blank CD-R instead, with the clear implication being that would-be listeners should feel free to download the leaked record instead to get the whole experience. EMI is silent on their attempts to quash the record, but it doesn’t take much work to imagine it’s just another stupid move by a record label. (More at Rolling Stone.)

You can listen to the record at NPR, to see if you like it; you can also sign up for updates at the official Dark Night Of The Soul website, and hope that EMI comes to its senses and releases the CD eventually. And, of course, it’s trivial to download the disk from the darknets. Do what thou wilt, Heathen Nation. But check this stuff out; it’s strong.

Anybody need a cat?

Some dear friends’ child has just become very allergic to their cat, so the poor girl has to go.

I mean the cat. Obviously. ;)

Anybody want a purebred, housebroken pixiebob? She’s a delightful and personable cat, and they’re just heartbroken about this. Inquiries to chet@nogators.com.

ps: Also, polydactyl.

Things we can’t figure out, shipping division

Last week, I ordered a book from Amazon with my One-click settings. It arrived three times this week, since UPS refused to leave the slim, obviously-printed-matter package on our doorstep without a signature despite having done exactly that literally hundreds of time previously. UPS could not explain the sudden change in behavior, but the bonehead CSR did try several ideas on for size in an attempt, sadly unsuccessful, to explain the sudden change in behavior.

Two weeks ago, I ordered $5,000 worth of fancy laptops for two of my co-workers, which had to be delivered to my house for anti-fraud reasons (i.e., the billing address of the card in question; I’ll have to ship them myself to the employees in question). This time, UPS helpfully left both very portable boxes on our doorstep without a signature at 1:30 this afternoon, where they sat for more than 2 hours before I discovered delivery had been made and arranged for a neighbor to rescue them.


Dept. of People Who Rant Better Than We Do

Bynkii, under the heading “Some People Shouldn’t See Movies That Aren’t Documentaries,” discusses Star Trek fan neepery:

Now people are bitching about the size and kind of CANYON that a young Jim Kirk drives a late-60s Corvette off of.

Stop watching Science Fiction.

Not only is it just a little too hard for you, but you completely overlook the real crime of the scene:


Shit…”where to you find canyons like that in Iowa”. Fuck, what’s next “You can’t go faster than the speed of light, and transporters are bullshit”. Thats just trying to find shit to not like about a movie. I bet most of these fuckers are “Lost” fans too. Note: “Lost” fans cannot, under any circumstances complain about continuity, reality, or logic errors. They have no moral highground whatsoever.

Spare us all. Just stop seeing anything that isn’t “The Bridges of Madison County” or gay cowboys eating pudding.

(Emphasis added.)

Not quite a reboot, but…

Astute Heathen know of HeathenCentral’s longtime affection for Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels. They’re hyperliterate for genre, well constructed and plotted, and make for excellent diversionary reading; not everything we consume has to be Infinite Jest, after all.

Anyway, there’s been a sort of almost Bondian problem creeping into the Spenser continuum for a while now, namely that the detective in question debuted as a 37-year-old Korean War vet in 1973’s The Godwulf Manuscript, and even at the charitable 2-for-1 aging math suggested by fansite Bullets and Beer would have to be 50 by now. Parker has already subtly retconn’d some aspects of Spenser’s backstory, such as his military history — obviously a 50-year-old in 2009 wasn’t even in Vietnam, let alone Korea — but that’s a band-aid on a problem that’s only getting bigger.

So what’s a guy to do? The novels are still fun, but he’s running out of runway, so to speak. Turns out the answer is the same one Eon Productions found for Bond back in 2005, kinda: Parker has released a “young Spenser” novel called Chasing the Bear set prior to his Bostonian adventures. The Boston PI’s been without a backstory, really, for even longer than Wolverine; “young adult” pitch or not, it’s probably a fun read. (Fortunately, Parker’s not giving up on modern Spenser, either; a new contemporary work comes out in October.)

What a smackdown looks like, consumer electronics division

Over at Gizmodo, the reviewer pulls no punches in his indictment of a particular brand. Not model; the entire brand. The article’s title is “Why TomTom Sucks.”

If TomTom isn’t willing to address its products’ fundamental problems, it deserves to fail in this business. Does that sound heartless? What’s heartless is foisting sub-par hardware on unsuspecting moms and pops, who don’t have the privilege of testing a bunch of stuff side by side. Because I have a heart, and care about your hard-earned money, it’s my duty to tell you—and your mom and dad—to avoid TomTom like the freakin’ plague. (In case you were wondering, Garmins are still the best—even the cheap ones.)

Heathen haven’t done a serious survey of the products from TomTom, Garmin, and Magellan, but we can say that the Hertz rental GPS (Magellan) lags significantly behind the aging portables offered by National (Garmin), and that TomToms we’ve seen in shops seem, well, hokey. When we buy, it’ll be Garmin.

Since reading “What’s the Matter with Kansas” here would be bad, maybe I should get this book instead

Idiot America:

This is how Idiot America engages itself. It decides, en masse, with a million keystrokes and clicks of the remote control, that because there are two sides to every question, they both must be right, or at least not wrong. And the words of an obscure biologist carry no more weight on the subject of biology than do the thunderations of some turkeyneck preacher out of Christ’s Own Parking Structure in DeLand, Florida. Less weight, in fact, because our scientist is an “expert” and therefore, an “elitist.” Nobody buys his books. Nobody puts him on cable. He’s brilliant, surely, but no different from the rest of us, poor fool.

Nerd Alert

If you’re a member of my tribe, you should definitely read A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Computer Languages.

A couple gems:

1964 – John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz create BASIC, an unstructured programming language for non-computer scientists.

1965 – Kemeny and Kurtz go to 1964.


1972 – Dennis Ritchie invents a powerful gun that shoots both forward and backward simultaneously. Not satisfied with the number of deaths and permanent maimings from that invention he invents C and Unix.

and of course

1980 – Alan Kay creates Smalltalk and invents the term “object oriented.” When asked what that means he replies, “Smalltalk programs are just objects.” When asked what objects are made of he replies, “objects.” When asked again he says “look, it’s all objects all the way down. Until you reach turtles.”

Must. Have.

When I was a kid, the best tie-in toy had nothing to do with Star Wars. Sure, the Death Star playset was cool, but nothing from Lucasland could compete with the Enterprise kit’s “functional” transporter. Spin the box, hit the button, and Kirk’s gone planet-side. Plus, the Trek toys were pre-shrinkray — 8 or 12 inches tall instead of tiny and cheap like the Star Wars figures. (Let’s not even talk about what they did to G.I. Joe.)

Turns out, it’s back, and so are vintage figures. I’m not really a fill-my-office-with-SF-toys guy, but for this, I may make an exception.

Observations on Running Outside in Kansas City for the First Time

In which we note the weather
63, partly cloudy.
This is important because…
In Houston, it’s already like six billion degrees.
Why this didn’t matter as much as you’d think
In Kansas, the ground does this weird thing where it goes up and down, so “running” often involves “climbing” as far as this flatlander is concerned. Ow.
What else is weird about running in the sprawl of KC
Wildlife next to the thoroughfares: squirrels, rabbits, and curiously tame geese. Also, goose shit; seriously, if it was any bigger, I think we’d have to consider them mammals.
Final score
3.5 to 4 miles, about 45 minutes. Left the Garmin at home. Oops.

Dept. of Depressing Realizations

I’m already into the 2nd elite tier of Hyatt’s frequent-guest program.

Amusingly, Hyatt is supporting the ongoing devaluation of precious metals in such contexts; rather than having levels at Silver, Gold, and Platinum, they use Gold, Platinum, and Diamond.

Some marketing douche thinks he’s clever for that.