John McCain, In His Own Words

This is the latest ad from the Obama campaign.  You’ll probably see it on TV, but I think it does a good job of exposing the choice of “winkie” and how that reflects on McCain.

Fallout 3 Character Generation (Review)

Originally uploaded by el_wah

 

 

 

 

 

A part of the character generation process in Fallout 3.

This is after the part where you are born (and the scene shows the hospital) and you pick your gender and name.

Previous to this, you are crawling around the bedroom and find a children’s book on the floor, which you pick up and set your starting stats.

Short, pre-review review…this game is amazing. Best three-word description, “Steam Punk Oblivion.”

More on this one late…this thing is pretty sweet.  Should have some video of me whacking some super mutants.

UPDATE: As promised…

NOTE: As should be guessed from the title of this post, Fallout 3 is an RPG.  As you can see from the video, it does have some FPS elements, but trust me, if you try and play this game like it’s Halo or Half-Life, you will die, a lot, and it will not be fun.

As you can see in the video above, the game utilizes a type of targeting computer and “Action Points” to make specially targeted attacks.  When you aren’t using this tech-helper, you have to aim and shoot manually, and in real time.  From my experience so far, it feels like the AI opponents have access to computer help in aiming all the time.  Which is to say, for them it’s like slow motion all the time.  You can’t run around in circles for 5 minutes and not get hit (like in Halo).  You will get mowed down.  Quickly.

That makes the game a bit more challenging, and for me, more fun.

You play it like a combination of Oblivion, Splinter Cell, Bioshock, and a bit of post-apocalyptic GTA (although more in mission style and world-size than action).  With brief moments of solid action, the meat of the game is expoloration and simple interaction.

At heart it plays true to its roots as a role-playing game, and it gives you lots and lots of roles to play.  This is true both in the storyline and the game mechanics.  There are many ways to enhance your character as you level up in old-school, RPG style of get-experience, level up, distribute skill points.   Skill points control stuff like real-world accuracy and effectiveness with weapons, so you can’t make up for having a 20 (out of 100) Heavy Weapons skill with world class Quake rocket-launcher dancing.  Again, RPG != FPS.

I’m stilling getting into the game, but if you ever wanted to be like that character that crazy guy plays in the Mad Max movies, now is your chance.  And it *really* does play like that.  It can get verrrry creepy when you are crawling around in some burned out, underground subway station and the lights go out and you start to hear creepy, crawly noises. 

Suddenly, your world erupts into hellish fire and you have to figure out which way to shoot to make it stop.

Good stuff.  Stuff that didn’t make it into the movies, sadly.  The movies were more about the social stuff, of which there is plenty in the game, but the fun is going off alone, at least for me.  That’s the Mad Max world I wanted to see, and here you get to do so.  Up close and freakishly personal.

Also, and more important to games reviewed on this site, there are “perks” that allow you to become a “cyborg” and “ninja”, so it looks like I have to make it at least level 20.  And so I’m off to the wastelands.

Peace (or world war ends badly….)

Campbell Brown’s Bullshit on Obama Fundraising (and Palin Wardrobe)

I saw the baby-bumping Campbell Brown on the Daily Show the other day.  I thought she did a decent job in the interview, although I’ve been noticing curious levels of b.s. emanating from the brunette for a bit now.

In the interview, she talks about the “false-equivalency” that the news media often tries to use to portray an air of impartiality.  She does a good job of both giving a good example of the practice in the intervew (re: Candidate A and Candidate B).

Sadly, however, she then goes on to forget that when you are going to call bullshit on what Candidate A says over what Candidate B says, you kinda have to first lay out which one is saying what. 

Her point was that she was going to do the layout and then call the bullshit.

Sadly, it looks like she is more focused on calling the bullshit.

Her first episode of this tendency was demonstrated when she called out “the media” for focusing on Sarah Palin’s $172,000 wardrobe/hairstyling/make-ups fees.  Forget the idiocy of Palin saying the clothes are “borrowed” or the hypocrisy of railing on Hollywood and then hiring their most expensive make-up artist.  No, that’s completely unfair.  You can’t focus on a woman being a woman.  It’s fine for her to charge the State of Alaska $21,000 grand for airfare and $17,000 for staying at home because, you know, she’s a working mom.

I’m sorry, but if any person, man or woman, that I have every worked with tried to pass travel or “amenities” expenses of that magnitude, they would be fired.  Flat out.  A couple of questions would be asked, and a couple have been, but given the answers (“I’m borrowing the clothes” and “My girls had to fly there and stay in a hotel to pick raffle tickets.“) they would be fired immediately.

John Edwards got raked over the coals for a $400 haircut, and got called a sissy for it.  Palin spent 100 TIMES THAT MUCH, and it’s a pass. 

But it’s o.k., because she’s a woman.  And a working mom.

Sorry, but that’s crap.  And it’s biased crap.   As a working mom herself, Brown is biased as hell about this.  As a working mom who’s income and success is largely dependent on looking fabulous in front of a camera, this is ludicrously biased crap.   I’m not saying this is Campbell’s fault, I’m just saying it’s a blind spot, and everyone has one.

They usually become revealed when someone becomes more agressive, as Campbell Brown has become recently.  It’s part of the game, welcome to it.

Which brings us to campaign fundraising questions, and the actual point of this article.

Campbell started out with some basics.

CNN) — You may have heard that Wednesday night Barack Obama will be on five different TV networks speaking directly to the American people.

He bought 30 minutes of airtime from the different networks, a very expensive purchase. But hey, he can afford it. Barack Obama is loaded, way more loaded than John McCain, way more loaded than any presidential candidate has ever been at this stage of the campaign.

Actually, it’s not his money we are talking about here.  I know this is a nitpick, but I think it’s a rather important one.  It’s his campaign’s money.   End of story.  He doesn’t get to keep it.

This is why John Edward’s $400 haircut became a story, it was bought with his campaign’s money.  This is why Palin’s wardrobe was a story, it was campaign money.  This is why it isn’t Obama’s or McCain’s money, it is campaign money.

And you are wrong about something else, Mrs. Brown, according to tax records (and cars and houses) McCain is the one who is loaded.  Obama is the one running the campaign that is inspiring people in record numbers to give “it” (the Campaign) money.   More on that later, when you insult us all.

Campbell continues…

Without question, Obama has set the bar at new height with a truly staggering sum of cash. And that is why as we approach this November, it is worth reminding ourselves what Barack Obama said last November.

One year ago, he made a promise. He pledged to accept public financing and to work with the Republican nominee to ensure that they both operated within those limits.

Then it became clear to Sen. Obama and his campaign that he was going to be able to raise on his own far more cash than he would get with public financing. So Obama went back on his word.

Now this is interesting, as one would assume to have a direct quote here.  When one is accused to going back on one’s word, it is usually considered polite to point out what the word was.

Campbell, like the hack she is becoming, doesn’t worry about stuff like that.  It’s a good thing too, because if she had spent a couple minutes, she would have seen words like this and her whole rant would have fallen apart.

Asked last September on a questionnaire from the Midwest Democracy Network whether he would “participate in the presidential public financing system” if his “major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign,” Obama checked the box marked “yes,” then outlined his vision for the 2008 contest.

“In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election,” he wrote. “My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election... If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

So you have a check box “word” and a bunch “words” that clarify a check-box.   I’m not going to split hairs here, but it seems pretty evident that accepting public financing came with some strings.

During the summer we got to see those strings.

At a meeting in Indianapolis on May 2,  “top [Obama] fundraisers… asked his campaign donors to refrain from contributing to liberal independent political organizations in hopes of controlling the tone and message of the general-election campaign.”

Meanwhile, McCain has adopted a hands-off stance, telling the Boston Herald earlier this month that he “can’t be a referee of every spot run on television.” The truth is, neither candidate can control what 527s do on their behalf; the groups simply don’t have to answer to federal or state political finance committees.

[source, from a longer article that covers the same question, which Campbell ignored]

What this comes down to is that Obama has asked people to give to his campaign, and not give money to people like MoveOn.org and other groups that can run whatever nasty crap they want.   McCain made it clear that he wasn’t going to even make the effort to influence these groups, and by accepting public financing (that $3 checkbox on your tax return) it frees up his regular donors to shower these groups with money.

That was the sticking point.  This is illustrated in the press leaks (the, “She said, “He said”” part of the program).

Trevor and I met at my office on June 6, and we discussed the June 18 panel and then, for 45 minutes, the public funding issue.

I asked him to address a serious of issues of concern to the Obama campaign — such as the McCain campaign’s active raising and spending of private money since February for a general election campaign, including for media, while we were still in the middle of a primary contest. He gave me his perspectives — the best arguments he could offer for an agreement on both sides to accept public financing — and it was clear to me that these offered no basis for any further exchange.

Not too long thereafter, John McCain announced he could not and would not “referee” 527 activity.

[source]

—-vs—-

Potter says this account is not factual “This is not true!” Potter says in an email. “I met with Bob Bauer on a different subject (a joint panel we had yesterday in Rhode Island sponsored by the National Assoc. of Attys General) about 10 days ago. During that meeting, he asked what Sen. McCain’s position was on public general election funding, and I said we were for it, and hoped Sen. Obama would participate as well. There was absolutely NO discussion of ‘negotiations’ about participating—the word was never mentioned. 

[source]

This all cuminated, BTW, in Obama releasing this video.

Campbell dismisses this video by ignoring CNN’s very own ads (I’m looking for the one that I keep seeing on CNN about how Obama will destroy small businesses…with his lazer eyes, I would assume…can’t find it).

[Obama] broke his promise and he explained it by arguing that the system is broken and that Republicans know how to work the system to their advantage. He argued he would need all that cash to fight the ruthless attacks of 527s, those independent groups like the Swift Boat Veterans. It’s funny though, those attacks never really materialized.

Really?!  Nobody has been using crazy attacks to go after Obama?  No attacks at all?

Strange….other people in swing states seem to be seeing them a lot.

John McCain would be wise not to condemn the National Republican Trust PAC’s latest ad regarding Jeremiah Wright. Running in key states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, the ad points to Obama’s association with the anti-American pastor. Perhaps more importantly, it points out that Obama had no problem sitting in Wright’s church until doing so became a political liability.

When it became clear that McCain would be following this nutjob blogger’s advice (like he followed that other nutjob blogger’s [Adam Brickley] advice and picked Palin) and not stopping the kinds of attack he himself is too honorable to make, it really became silly for Obama to hamstring his own’s campaign’s ability to respond to the bullshit.

Especially since he had already inspired so many to give.

Campbell then insults a few million people by mischaracterizing “pointing out the obvious” as “courage”.

The courageous among Obama’s own supporters concede this decision was really made for one reason, simply because it was to Obama’s financial advantage.

Well, that’s true, except for the lie that it is Obama’s money.   We want Obama to win.  That’s why we’ve given him so much money.  We want him and Joe Biden to take the White House.  BADLY.

That’s why we’re giving so much money.  To fight the bullshit you are saying doesn’t even exist (hmm, kinda “HYPOCRITICAL” isn’t it Campbell?).

What, exactly, are you insinutating, BTW, by your constant assertion that it is Obama, personally, that is raking in the dough.

I mean, you even use that word…

For this last week, Sen. Obama will be rolling in dough. His commercials, his get-out-the-vote effort will, as the pundits have said, dwarf the McCain campaign’s final push. But in fairness, you have to admit, he is getting there in part on a broken promise.

That’s not fairness, Mrs. Brown, that’s bullshit.

Much like this one-sided hit piece.

Death and Taxes 2009: Where Your Federal Tax Dollars Go (Million, Billion, Trilllion, Basketballs)

via Death and Taxes 2009: A Visual Guide to Where Your Federal Tax Dollars Go – WallStats

Nice rundown here of the federal budge and how your tax dollars are spent.   I liked how they were able to embed the videos into the document as well.  It looks like Silverlight is making some application-level progress.

UPDATE: I was thinking more about why I like this chart so much and I realized it’s because of the way that it compares information in proportional circles.  I think this is probably one of the best ways to graphically convey scale and easily allow comparisons. 

Sometimes it is difficult to know, instinctively for most people, the difference between a million and a billion, but seeing the difference between a circle the size of a basketball (9.39 in.) one big enough to fill the gap in the Lackawanna Valley Bridge (800 ft.) and it quickly become apparent to everyone what 1000X actually means.

Now if you take that basketball up to a trillion times (in American english, 1000 billion, in English english a “billion” or a million million) and you have to draw a circle around most of the cool parts of Southern California (18,000 sq. mi.).

So if you think of that basketball as a dollar, think of having to set up enough basketballs to fille up a circle 18,000 sq. ki. across to think of a trillion dollars.

That’s about how much we spend.  You can see that in the chart above (which needs a handy real world comparison as well).

Oh, and can someone check my math.