July 29, 2004
Dick Cheney Plays Poker
If ESPN's coverage of the WSOP were like Fox News, we's see more final tables like this one:
Poker With Dick Cheney
Transcript of The Editors' regular Saturday-night poker game with Dick Cheney, 6/19/04. Start tape at 12:32 AM.
The Editors: We'll take three cards.
Dick Cheney: Give me one.
Sounds of cards being placed down, dealt, retrieved, and rearranged in hand. Non-commital noises, puffing of cigars.
TE: Fifty bucks.
DC: I'm in. Show 'em.
TE: Two pair, sevens and fives.
DC: Not good enough.
TE: What do you have?
DC: Better than that, that's for sure. Pay up.
TE: Can you show us your cards?
DC: Sure. One of them's a six.
TE: You need to show all your cards. That's the way the game is played. ...
(I've seen this going the rounds on email, with attribution trimmed off. Thanks to 14cyclenotes for the link to the original.)
July 27, 2004
Yet Another Baby No-Limit Hold'em Game
Peter "Fold'em" Secor announced to the ba-poker mailing list that Casino San Pablo, in San Pablo, California, (on Interstate 80, just north of Richmond, in the Bay Area) will begin spreading a small-buy-in no-limit hold'em game this coming Saturday at 11 AM.
The blind structure is $1 on the button, middle blind of $2, big blind of $3; $5 to go; $3 dropped from every hand. Buy-in is $100; you can rebuy enough chips to bring your stack up to $100, but no more; if after you lose chips you buy less than enough to give you $100, that will be considered a short buy. No drop for (or participation in) the bad-beat jackpot.
There are problems with this structure – Fold'em expressed concern that the game might not last a month. But, as he points out, since CSP doesn't have any game bigger than $8-$16, there aren't any pros playing, and the game might have legs.
Who says nothing newsworthy happens at political party national conventions anymore? Jeralyn Merritt, covering the Democratic convention for TalkLeft, has posted a picture of the hitherto-anonymous leftie blogger, and tells us his first name is Duncan.
Alex R, a commenter on Kevin Drum's Political Animal, points out that Atrios has put the text Eschaton -- a weblog by d u n c a n b l a c k at the foot of Eschaton. Atrios has outed himself, presumably because he needed to do so to the DNC in order to get a press credential.
I'm a little chuffed, because quite by accident I get to look prescient.
July 25, 2004
The Price of Fame
Paul Phillips discovers one of the downsides of appearing on TV for World Poker Tour final tables:
I played in the mirage super satellite tonight. At my first table a guy said "You look just like that guy on the world poker tour (beat) the one who called with the bottom end of the straight." Oh the ignominy. "You even have the same mannerisms." I objected to the comparison and told him I play way better than that guy. He seemed content with that.
July 22, 2004
Canada Grapples with Same-Sex Divorce
The laws in Canada governing marriage are provincial laws, i.e., laws promulgated province by province. Canada's divorce law, though, is federal, applying equally in all the country's provinces and territories.
Three provinces and a territory allow for marriages between people of the same gender. The federal divorce law, however, applies only to marriages between a man and a woman.
A Toronto lesbian couple married in 2003 is seeking a divorce, reports the Toronto Globe and Mail
But the partners find themselves in a legal limbo. The federal government acknowledges that same-sex couples should be allowed to get divorced, but the divorce law still considers a married couple to be a man and a woman. ...
The couple signed a separation agreement in April that settled all matrimonial issues. All that remains to officially end the marriage is the divorce papers.
The stumbling block is the Divorce Act, which defines "spouse" as "of a man or woman who are married to each other." Although Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Yukon permit same-sex marriages, the federal government did not change the definition in the act.
The article details the dilemma before the government: give consent to the divorce, and therefore acknowledge that the law is unconstitutional, or have the judge hearing the divorce case rule whether the Divorce Act violates the Charter of Rights.
The sacred institution of divorce is in jeopardy in Canada. If same-sex divorce is allowed, how long will it be before we see man-dog divorce? Would your neighbor be free to divorce a box turtle???
(via BC Holmes)
How Not to Talk to Reporters
Debbie's employer, Jossey-Bass, is the focus of an exposé appearing in the SF Weekly, concerning the awkward cancellation by the parent company (Wiley) of a book J-B had offered to buy. Allegedly, the reason for the cancellation was that the book contains a chapter that is sharply critical of Wal-Mart, and the Wiley sales representative who handled the Wal-Mart account was concerned that this would damage the relationship between Wiley and Wal-Mart. (Wal-Mart is notorious for the draconian way it deals with its suppliers.)
Matt Smith, the reporter for the SF Weekly, did his homework, and made inquiries with Wiley management about the episode.
Curious about the sales end of this "collaboration," I phoned Wiley Vice President for Sales Dean Karrel and asked him to discuss any concerns he might or might not have had about the Wal-Mart problem.
"What you have received is highly confidential information regarding the business decisions of our company," an apparently rattled Karrel said, before changing tack a little. "You don't have any information, do you Matt? Someone is actually lying, and I don't appreciate it. You'll be contacted by our attorneys. You haven't done any research about the value that we place on authors, have you Matt? That's certainly not public information. It's sad you would want to embarrass one of our authors. And I'm sorry somebody gave you the wrong information."
Wouldn't "No comment" have been more appropriate?
(Matt Smith did get one important detail wrong: in the title of a book in the lucrative "For Dummies" series, the word "For" is capitalized, e.g., Intensively Recomplicated Insurance Forms For Dummies.)
July 13, 2004
Republicans Filibuster Their Own Marriage Amendment
Support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage has gotten so thin among Senate Republicans that it is now clear that the amendment, should it come to a vote, won't get a simple majority of votes, let alone the two-thirds majority it would need to actually pass. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, GOP senators are now filibustering to keep their own amendment from being voted down in an embarassing defeat.
The disarray broke out just two days before Republican leaders had planned a politically sensitive vote to put senators on record about whether a constitutional amendment should declare that marriage remain the union of one man and one woman.
But instead of a landmark debate, Republicans found themselves filibustering their own amendment to stop it from coming to the floor on Wednesday for a straight up-or-down vote – out of fear that it might fail to get even 51 votes, much less the 67, or two-thirds majority, required to amend the Constitution.
Republicans apparently were taken by surprise when Democrats, sensing a huge victory, offered to lift their own objections and proceed to direct consideration of the measure. ...
Many also have expressed concern that the current wording of the Federal Marriage Amendment also would ban civil unions and domestic partnerships that are considered legal alternatives to marriage.
So amendment proponents, led by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., floated the idea of offering an alternative version that might allay some worries about civil unions and improve the vote count.
But Democrats refused to go along, noting that Republicans had already bypassed the regular committee process to get the amendment directly to the floor and now found themselves trying to rewrite the measure at the last minute. ...
Proponents, instead of agreeing to vote on the amendment, filed a motion to shut off debate, which is scheduled to be voted on Wednesday. The Senate needs 60 votes to end the debate and move the senators to an up-or-down vote on the amendment.
July 12, 2004
Spot the Fake Smile
Avedon Carol points us to a nifty BBC Science & Nature quiz called Spot the Fake Smile. Quiztakers view brief Flash videoclips of people's faces as they smile. The challenge: determine whether the smile is real or fake.
Avedon picked the link up from Vincent Flanders' Web Pages That Suck
One of the best uses of Flash on the Web comes from the BBC and their "Spot the fake smile." You'll never look at a smile the same way again. I gave this little test to my friends and – surprise! surprise! – women scored better at finding the fake smile than men. It would be interesting to see how well professional poker players score on this test. I would hope they get them all correct. My score? 12 out of 20 correct. That's why I don't play poker for money (plus I can't bluff).
I'm not, strictly speaking, a professional poker player. I got only fifteen out of twenty correct ... but I plead a flaky connection. The Flash animations loaded quickly at first, and I did the first twelve perfectly. Then the downloads got real slow, and the Flash worked only intermittently; and I got only three of the remaining eight correct.
I might be a ringer though. The quiz is inspired by the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) of Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Friesen. Malcolm Gladwell had profiled Ekman and FACS a couple of years back in the New Yorker. Gladwell's article made FACS sound like a poker players dream, vindicating Mike Caro, turning the art of reading tells into a science. I researched Ekman and FACS on the Web, and ultimately decided not to shell out the $260 needed to buy the FACS manual and investigators' guide, but not before learning enough to distinguish between an authentic smile with twinkling eyes and the phony grimace of the beauty queen waving to the crowd from the back of a convertible.
July 10, 2004
Kevin Drum, formerly of CalPundit, is practically the poster child of Blogging Made Good, with his Political Animal being the kick-off of the Washington Monthly's Web page.
But a Blogger Made Good is still a blogger. Kevin has given in to the temptation of a meme – filling out his choices on a list of 100 cultural preferences, and posted his results for the world to see. Go there to find out that Kevin prefers Letterman over Leno, but has no preference between Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.
Bush's Middle Finger
Jiveturkey on LiveJournal has posted an amazing account of an anti-Bush protest that somehow managed not to be confined to a "free speech zone":
So I went to protest Dubya today, as he was visiting my humble little burg of East Lampeter, PA.
Adam came over and with my and Matt's help, created two banners. They read:
DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER
MORE TREES, LESS BUSH
... [T]hen me, Adam, and Brendan went to another spot along the highway that we had spied earlier. A friendly Kerry supporter named Mr. Shenk let us use his front yard to display our banners. Now comes the good part. After waiting around for about 45 minutes, the motorcade passed by us again. A few police cars, followed by a van or two, drove by. Then, a Bush/Cheney bus passed, followed by a second one going slower. At the front of this second bus was The W himself, waving cheerily at his supporters on the other side of the highway. Adam, Brendan, and I rose our banner (the More Trees, Less Bush one) and he turned to wave to our side of the road. His smile faded, and he raised his left arm in our direction. And then, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States of America, extended his middle finger.
Read that last sentence again.
I got flipped off by George W. Bush.
A ponytailed man standing next to us confirmed the event, saying, "I do believe the President of the U.S. just gave you boys the finger." We laughed probably for the next half hour, and promptly told everyone we knew. Brendan actually snapped a picture of Bushy in action, but the glare and the tint of the bus windows make it difficult to see him at all. Nonetheless, it was the best possible reaction. [link to photo added – ALB]
(via Lynn Kendall)