December 2008

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year! 

I wish you all a successful 2009.

Unless, of course, you're opposing me or things that I value more than your success. Then, I wish you failure in those pursuits.

But, since I don't expect much of that from my readers, I'm pretty sure that I wish the vast majority of you success the vast majority of the time.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm Back 

I just returned from spending a week (that included my birthday and Christmas Day) in Las Vegas with my family.

It was a lot of fun, and I'm thinking of doing it again next year. As I thought, the town wasn't very busy during Christmas Week. It did seem to be filling up quickly for New Year's Week. So, it wasn't hard to find spots at tables for frugal gamblers like me who like low minimums and favorable rules. I hope we're as successful next year at missing the worst weather in both Seattle and Las Vegas.

We saw, and actually enjoyed, Donny & Marie perform the first night we arrived. As I wrote to a friend, they actually sound good, and still do the playful insults that they did during their show long ago. Also, I'll always admire Donny for the dancing he did on Weird Al's "White & Nerdy" video. He doesn't take himself too seriously. And, I think I've always had a bit of a crush on Marie.

I also saw Penn & Teller (I guess it was a shows-with-ampersands-in-their-titles themed week) again with my son. It's still a very fun show. They've made a few changes to the act since the last time I saw it. Also, Penn seemed even more strident than I remember in his criticism of fake psychics (redundant, I know) who pretend to be real and violate the memories of their victims when they are most vulnerable.

Also, we ate a lot of (too much!) good food.

But, perhaps best of all, I overcame the odds and ended a week of gambling with a profit!

So, life is good.

I haven't been following the news closely, but I don't think I missed much. Thanks for keeping things together while I was away.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays 

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season.

I'm leaving tomorrow for a week in Vegas. This is an unusual time for us to vacation there (over my birthday and Christmas) and it'll be interesting to see how busy it is. I don't like crowds so I'm hoping it's a slow time. But, I wouldn't like it be completely dead.

Try to muddle through without me.

And, no more bailouts while I'm gone!!!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Not Dying 

One of my favorite Woody Allen quotes is:

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.

This is just my way of introducing a fascinating bloggingheads.tv diavlog in which Eliezer Yudkowsky interviews Aubrey de Grey. De Grey has done amazing work furthering anti-aging research and I always enjoy hearing him speak and reading his work.

I think it's a very interesting area. To me, it's almost self-evident that combating aging is a good thing. But, it's so tightly bound up with many irrationalities about death that lots of people don't see it that way. People who agree that we should make every effort to fight diseases that would kill us quickly, somehow reject efforts to fight those that kill us eventually. They're inclined to appeal to some form of naturalistic fallacy, or Malthusian mistake, or some nonsense about impending death being necessary to make life meaningful. I won't even pretend to understand how it interacts with religious ideas about an afterlife

I do understand the pressure to rationalize a scary fate we consider inevitable, but that doesn't mean we should actively thwart people who have overcome this pressure and are trying to address a real problem.

So, I wholeheartedly support anti-aging research and would love to achieve immortality through not dying.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Free Minds, Free Markets, and Free Videos 

Don't forget to check out reason.tv regularly (you can easily subscribe to any of several rss feeds).

There's a lot of great stuff out there.

A couple of things I've enjoyed lately are this Killer Chic video (explaining how uncool Che and Mao were, and how sick it is to promote these murderers), and this fun animated series on Social Security.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Dick One 

Watch John Oliver, on The Daily Show, give the best analysis of islamic terrorism I've seen in a while.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Filibuster, Baby, Filibuster! 

So, it looks like Saxby Chambliss has won the runoff Senate race in Georgia, preventing the Democrats from having a filibuster-proof 60-member majority. And the Minnesota recount seems to be leaning away from Al Franken, so they will probably "only" have 58 seats.

Of course, I consider this a good thing.

I think it's dangerous to have either party controlling both the Executive and Legislative branches, so I'm happy to have a hope that the worst of the possible new policies could be obstructed by the opposition.

Even if all of the Republicans can't stick together, I doubt the Democrats will be able to coordinate all of their factions to block most serious filibuster attempts.

So, maybe the power of arithmetic will force enough moderation (from Obama and the senate majority) to save us from severe damage that might be difficult to undo.