May 24, 2003
Moneymaker Makes the Money
May 22, 2003
Bill Bennett Yet Again
Blame Avedon Carol: she blogged a post by Scoobie Davis that purports to be "The Last Word on William Bennett." (Blogspot's permalinks are upgefucked; scroll down to the entry for Friday, May 16, 2003.)
I've been outdone. I've been saying that the only thing wrong with Bennett's gambling habit is that he hadn't blown any of that 8 mil in my direction. Scoobie Davis shows much more compassionate mindfulness than I:
I have a solution: if Bennett’s doormat of a wife gains some self-respect and dumps him, then for a modest fee, I would be glad to take Bennett out on the town and show him what fun is. We can crash some parties and meet interesting people (if Bennett were to invest in a couple films, he could legitimately tell women that he’s a movie producer). I can take Bennett to some yoga classes where he can meet some hot and in-shape babes (plus yoga would be great for weight loss and to loosen the kundalini blockage in the root chakra area--this will allow Bennett to unclench his sphincter muscles). I won’t charge much (which is good because the money from Bennett’s virtue scam will be gone soon). I can show Bennett the meaning of the word fun at bargain basement prices. How do I contact him?
Umm, Scooby? If you should arrange this, be sure to take the good Mr. Bennett to the SF Bay Area, where he absolutely must be allowed to sit in on the Tiltboys' home poker game. If that wouldn't be fun, nothing is.
Saddenz for Patti
She busted out on the first day of the Big Dance at the WSOP. Her stack of chips got crippled when, holding pocket kings, she moved in on an inoccuous flop against Andy Glazer, who held pocket tens. Andy rivered a ten, and Patti was left with a tiny stack.
(Andy, to his credit, alluded to this hand in his own daily WSOP report by saying he had gotten "incredibly lucky.")
I'm now in Madison, Wisconsin, staying at the home of Jim Hudson and Diane Martin. Tomorrow, Debbie and I move into the Madison Concourse Hotel, where Wiscon 27 is taking place. Maybe I'll come home with stories to tell.
May 16, 2003
Patti Beadles Needs an Editor ...
... but then, this month she's been living in the topsy-turvy nocturnal world of Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker. Trust me, that's enough to fry anyone's brain. What's your excuse?
My friend Steve won not one but two $10K seats in the supersatellites today... yay for him! We celebrated by going to a 3 a.m. showing of Matrix Reloaded. In a nutshell, I wasn't terribly impressed.
I dunno about you, Patti, but I'm impressed — winning that second seat is, in effect winning $10,000 cash. That by itself, I would guess, probably covered his entire capital outlay for his WSOP trip. If it were me, I'd celebrate with a lot more style than seeing some movie. (After Andrew Prock took second in the $1500 Stud/8 event last year, with JP Massar and I rooting for him at the final table, we had a somewhat postponed celebration in the form of dinner at Bay Wolf, in Oakland.)
What's that? You were unimpressed by Matrix Reloaded rather than Steve's wins? Never mind....
"Your Winnings, Sir"
Buried deep in a story in the Washington Post about Texas Republican's use of federal Homeland Security resources to track down Democratic state legislators who had fled Texas to stall an unconventional redistricting bill is a quote from Jonathan Grella, an aide to US House Speaker Tom De Lay (R-Texas). De Lay is said to be the prime mover behind the unusual redistricting bill.
Here is what Grella said: "[W]e certainly are disappointed that they've resorted to flat-out lying to hold on to power."
No Republican would ever stoop to such depths — certainly none who hail from Texas.
May 14, 2003
Bill Chen writes on the ba-poker mailing list:
Just saw on CNN here that the three of hearts has been caught. I know we caught the queen of spades and several hearts recently. Know how close we are to shooting the moon?
Speaking of Greg Costikyan...
Greg posted to his weblog last weekend Dot Boom, a satirical card game of the Dot Com era. He designed the game last year, tried unsuccessfully to sell it, and has just now put it up for our amusement. Players take the role of venture capitalists who fund dubious dotcom enterprises in hopes of taking them public and cashing out before the bubble bursts. Whoever makes the most from IPOs before the inevitable crash is the winner.
Even if you have no intention of playing the thing, I recommend you look at the game cards that go with it. They are a hoot and a half.
May 12, 2003
Movie Tie-Ins Rule in Gaming
Matthew Yi, reporting on the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in today's San Francisco Chronicle, describes the same phenomenon that Greg Costikyan observed at the Game Developers Conference in March:
Electronic Arts, the biggest video game publisher, will tout its Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup as well as its revamped sports lineup, which includes Madden football, basketball and baseball games.
The industry's No. 2 player, Activision, will preview its Shrek 2 and Spider-Man 2 games.
Even smaller publishers like Eidos Interactive, based in London, are getting some action with Hollywood. The firm will unveil Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness this week.
Atari, formerly known as Infogrames, will start selling its new game Enter the Matrix on Thursday, the same day Warner Bros. releases its new movie "The Matrix: Reloaded."
Yi explains that the emphasis on movie tie-ins is because the console game industry is in the middle of its five-year development cycle. We are between generations of new consoles, and so the industry emphasis is on software. "Content, content, content," said Andrew House, senior vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment America. "This is the time of the life cycle where game developers kick it into high gear."
Yeah, right, game developers have kicked it into high gear — which explains the level of confidence and optimism at this year's GDC, not to mention how voracious is the game publishers' appetite for new titles from independent developers.
May 08, 2003
You're Both Wrong
Joshua Micah Marshall doesn't like the New York Times op-ed piece by Jim McManus about William Bennett's gambling problem, which Marshall blogged yesterday and I picked up from him. Marshall hits, correctly, on errors of fact on McManus's part: a net loss of $8 million over the course of many months is not the same thing as putting $8 million "into play." (Last month, during a weekend trip to Las Vegas I sat down three times in that $50-$100 stud/8 game I mentioned yesterday, buying in each time for $2,000. Did I put $2,000 "into play" or $6,000?)
But Marshall gets it wrong about this statement by McManus:
All of us gamble. Air travel, dating, investments, education, even driving or walking to work are not for the risk-averse. Vastly more is at stake when conceiving a child than when Mr. Bennett plays video poker, yet married couples are treated to no finger-jabbing sermons when they roll the dice on reproduction.
I'm not sure I've read a group of sentences more fatuous or morally shrunken as these in some time, writes Marshall. Gambling may be harmless fun, but can't you distinguish between that sort of risk and the one people take when they bring a new life into the world? It seems to me that McManus is making precisely that distinction. The potential risks and rewards hanging on the pull of a $500 slot machine are small potatoes indeed compared to both the risks and rewards of becoming a parent. And a gambler who has taken odds on all her pass line and come bar bets so that all the numbers on the craps table are working for her may well feel anxious about the fear that the shooter's next throw might seven out ... but she can always take down her odds and walk away. Can a mother do that? Or even a small business owner, who gets ulcers wondering if this month's sales are going to be enough to make payroll?
I fail to see the moral shrinkage. In a world where risk and fear surrounds us every day, despite our best efforts to reduce and contain them, so that accepting and dealing with risk is an essential part of sane adult functioning behavior, what is wrong with taking risks for pleasure in the (relatively) safe and controlled environment of a casino?
I see where McManus is coming from, in a way that I think perhaps is escaping Marshall. McManus isn't defending Bennett; McManus is defending gambling. He is saying, in effect, we shouldn't be piling on Bennett, because gambling is in fact not immoral:
As a finger-jabber himself on some subjects, [McManus writes just after Marshall ends his quote] Mr. Bennett should perhaps be more alert to such ironies. Still, if he pays his taxes and abides by the law, we should keep our noses out of his personal life.
This is where McManus misses the point of Bennett's critics. The morality of gambling may be in dispute. But so is the morality of so many of the activities at which Bennett has jabbed his finger. Most gay people who have come out and come to terms with their own desires, for example, would say that they are moral people notwithstanding whom it is they are drawn to love. For that matter, it's easy enough to find people who see nothing wrong with a married man accepting a blowjob from an eager intern, something that Bennett has decried in no uncertain terms.
Bennett's hypocrisy is evident because the morality of gambling is in dispute. And one of the reasons for this dispute is the fact to which McManus seems blind, is that compulsive gambling is a real problem, that people really do come to harm and bring harm to their families as a consequence of their losing control of their gambling. McManus's op-ed piece comes off to me as a lesser version of one of Nolan Dalla's pollyanna-ish denials of the dark side of gambling.
It's easy to pile onto Bennett for his hypocrisy. As those of us who remember Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart can tell, Americans just love to see preaching moralists brought down by their own sins. (And the penitent sinner plays almost as well, as those who have played the role have been finding out since the days of Augustine.)
But what nobody else appears to be saying about Bennett's fall from grace is quite how stupid it is. If there's anything more lame, more foolish, than blowing $8 million on high-limit slot machines I don't know what it is. (Unless, that is, there is such a thing as $500-per-spot Keno, where the runners strolling through Bellagio's high end restaurants like Circo or Picasso, are the sort of sophisticated, well-dressed young ladies one expects to see nursing glasses of mineral water at the Baccarat Bar after midnight.) You'd be better off playing blackjack, where if you can keep track of the count you have a fighting chance of winning. You're better off rolling dice at the craps table, because if you stay away from the sucker bets the house edge is muchsmaller than with slot machines.
I've had every reason to suspect that William Bennett was a moral hypocrite since the very first I'd heard of him — it practically comes with the territory. What tickles me about the whole situation is just how dumb a hypocrite he is. I think it isn't fair that Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, and Donald Trump have been getting all of his money. Send him down to the poker room, so I have a shot at grabbing my share along with the other winners.
May 07, 2003
Don't Throw Me into that Briar Patch!
After a recent speech in Rochester, [William] Bennett was asked what the chances were of his running for president in 2008. He responded by saying that he might enter the World Series of Poker instead. He was only half serious, I gather; his purpose was probably to stir more presidential conjecture while manfully ducking the question. But perhaps Mr. Bennett should try the real deal. The $10,000 entry fee for the championship event would appear to fall comfortably within the parameters of his bankroll. But is the God-fearing author of "Why We Fight" and editor of "Our Sacred Honor" up to this challenge?
I sure hope he is. And while he's waiting for the Big Dance to begin, I sure hope that Mr. Bennett spends some time in the $50-$100 eight-or-better high-low seven-card stud game. Sit down, Mr. Bennett, it's an easy game, just like the one you used to play in college, except you don't have to do that silly thing with the chips in your fist at the end of the hand.
(via Talking Points Memo)
May 05, 2003
Ordinarily I don't bother with those silly online quizzes ("Which Beverly Hillbilly are you?"), but Teresa Nielsen Hayden points us to one that even I can't pass up: Which Springer-Verlag Graduate Text in Mathematics are you? It turns out that I am Foundations of Differentiable Manifolds and Lie Groups by Frank Warner. I find this oddly comforting.
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David Scott Marley calls attention to an article by Joshua Green in the Washington Monthly about sometime drug and morality czar William Bennet's high-rolling gambling habit. It seems that the author of The Book of Virtues has a jones for $500-a-pull slot machines. "'There's a term in the trade for this kind of gambler,' says a casino source who has witnessed Bennett at the high-limit slots in the wee hours. 'We call them losers.'"
Other people care about the seeming hypocrisy of a morality monger blowing millions of dollars on slot machines. There's quite a large piece of me that's saying, "Slot machines?? What a mug! What a live one! I wonder if there's any way of luring him out of Bellagio's salon privé and into the poker room?"
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If you are interested in generating hits on your blog, I commend to you the practice of going to live theater performances and posting reviews. My mentions of Berkeley Rep's productions of Suddenly Last Summer and Fraulein Else have garnered more search queries from Google and other search engines than anything else I've posted here.