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Archive for December 2011

Modern Warfare 3: just like DisneyWar

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I’m not a gamer. I don’t get excited over new video games, and don’t play them much beyond a few beers and some Wii Fit competition, or maybe the occasional Wii FIFA. But that’s about it. I’ve never played any of the Modern Warfare games, and I do not doubt they are quite enjoyable.

But when I saw the commercial for the new Modern Warfare, starring Jonah Hill and the guy from Avatar, I didn’t like it. I wasn’t sure why. But I didn’t. It wasn’t a big deal; there’s no outrage here, frankly I don’t care enough about video games to be too upset. It just seemed off.

Turns out  D.B. Grady, former paratrooper, picked up on this too, and expressed it well.

Because the game crossed the billion dollar sales mark in only 16 days, clearly its marketing strategy is working. But none of that makes it okay, or mitigates its tastelessness. The advertisement trivializes combat and sanitizes war. If this were September 10, 2001, maybe it wouldn’t be quite so bad. Those who are too young to remember Vietnam might indulge in combat fantasies of resting heart rates while rocket-propelled grenades whiz by, and of flinty glares while emptying a magazine into the enemy. But after ten years of constant war, of thousands of amputees and flag-draped coffins, of hundreds of grief-stricken communities, did nobody involved in this commercial raise a hand and say, “You know, this is probably a little crass. Maybe we could just show footage from the game.”
This is not an argument against so-called shooter video games or depictions of war in popular culture. However, as Afghanistan intensifies and we assess the mental and physical damage to veterans of Iraq, is now really the time to sell the country on how much fun the whole enterprise is? (Here I point to the giddy howls of one supposed soldier in the commercial as he fires a grenade launcher at some off-screen combatant. War is great, see? It’s like a gritty Disneyland.)

Read the whole piece. It’s a moving reminder that war is real, and not a video game.

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Written by Christopher ZF

December 30, 2011 at 13:04

Rick Santorum wants to be Mike Huckabee (remember him?)

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How much money is it worth to lose the Presidential Election via winning the Iowa Caucus? The Republican Presidential Primary Campaign Train, as it always does, is currently going through the muckety-muck that is the the FIRST IN THE NATION EXTRAVAGANZA CAUCUS OF HIGHLY IMPORTANT SOCIAL AND EVANGELICAL CONSERVATIVE VOTER TEST OF OVERLY RIGHTWING BONA FIDES that is the Iowa Caucus.

It’s such a waste of time. Even to someone as tuned in an politically minded as TRC, we have to ask: Why does this happen? Winning the Caucus-going Iowa Republicans does not mean you will win the suburban Minnesota Republicans who vote on election day, or even the suburban Iowa Republicans who vote on election day. It means you win the small, handful of very conservative, Christian, caucus-goers who can be convinced to Caucus by barbecue sandwiches and fear of the gays. Take that, Iowa. You have once again been satirically over-simplified.*

To wit: This morning, I read a relatively boring article from Politico (as they usually are) about the potential surge of…Rick Santorum in the Iowa Caucuses. Rick Santorum: the famously anti-gay, very boring, social conservative haymaker from Pennsylvania who has won the ire of every progressive by being so calmly able to condemn entire communities of sinners with dispassionate rhetoric. Politico asks, essentially, is Rick Santorum the past or future of the Republican Party? (Note to Republicans, you really, seriously, sincerely and earnestly better hope that Rick Santorum is NOT the future of the Republican Party).

Anyway. The point of this piece, and so many others regarding Iowa, is that Rick Santorum, as well as Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, are all fighting to be the Mike Huckabee of 2012. Remember Mike Huckabee? He was the very evangelical conservative Pastor and former Governor who plays in a rock band and ran for President in 2008 and took the nation by surprise by winning Iowa and then won nothing else and didn’t matter that much in the eventual outcome because he couldn’t actually win anything other than the very strange and unrepresentative of the nation contest that is the Iowa Caucuses? Yeah. Rick Santorum is fighting to be that guy in 2012.

Iowa, I think you’re day is done.

*I recognize that candidate Obama received a major boost by winning the Iowa Caucus in 2008. I do not think, however, that the Republican and Democratic caucus goers are equally unrepresentative nationally.

Written by Christopher ZF

December 30, 2011 at 10:28

The Worst Piece of Anti-Climate Journalism Ever. Period.

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TRC would like to congratulate Louis Woodhill, contributing author at Forbes, for just making it in a nick of time to be awarded the prize of “worst piece of science comprehension and most ridiculous rhetorical strategy in journalism” award. This does of course allow that what contributing author at Forbes Louis Woodhill does is journalism and not just blather, and we grant that is a stretch.

If you want your brain to explode, read Even the Warmists Don’t Believe in Global Warming. It’s a riotous good time. For an individual with a degree in mechanical engineering, one would think Mr. Woodhill would have a better understanding of how science operates. Alas. We cannot understand that which our paychecks depend on us not understanding.

It is worth going through the whole essay, piece by piece. It is not every day one reads the worst piece of Climate Change journalism ever.

First, the climate is indeed changing: One feature of the manifested universe is the impermanence of all things. Poetic.

Then Woodhill asks of that change: Overall, is it good or bad? We can’t say. We don’t even have a conceptual framework that would allow us to answer that question, or even to adequately describe how the climate is changing. “Climate” is an abstraction, and all abstractions are untrue (or at least incomplete).

Sorry, this is wrong. The Climate is an actuality. It is a thing, and it can be described and observed. Granted, it is very, very complex, and difficult to make prescriptions for, but it is NOT an abstraction. It is only an abstraction to those of us lucky enough to have air-conditioners and in-door heating, roofs over our head, and money to move when we need to.

But even this is a point that is understandable, though incorrect. What’s next?  Is human activity causing the climate to change? We don’t know, and there is no way, even in principle, that we can know. It is difficult enough to determine the “what” of climate change. To determine the “why”, we would need to do controlled experiments. And, for this, we would need another planet, identical in every way to our own earth, which we could use as a “control”.

Wrong. In fact, even in principle, this is wrong. There is no understanding of human activity that does not affect the climate, the ecosystem, the entire natural systems of the earth. By doing anything, human activity changes the climate. But I presume the point Mr. Woodhill is making is that we cannot control experiments to understand if burning fossil fuels is actually changing the climate. Again, wrong. It is the most basic level of physics, understood for at least 150 year: carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and greenhouse gases capture heat. The more carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere, the more heat that carbon will hold. If Mr. Woodhill can somehow change physics, I am sure the world would love to hear it. Accepting this will do you no harm. It can be argued that warming the earth won’t be so bad, but it can’t be argued that burning fossil fuels, thus increasing (by a LOT) the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will not increase the temperature. How much is open to argument, that it is happening is not. That is just science.

Of course, why should we trust science? “Science” consists of nothing but theories that have not yet been disproved by evidence, but which, in principle, could be so disproved. (some nonsense about Relativity being challenged) If something is “settled”, it is not science. It is religious dogma, and an assault upon freedom of thought and inquiry.

Well, that was easy. Why bother arguing against the science, only to throw science as an entire endeavor for understanding anything overboard with one crazy notion?

From here things really get strange. But don’t the climate scientists’ computer models prove that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are causing climate change? No. First, no computer model can ever prove anything (see the definition of “science” given above). Second, we do not have the capability to model a system as complex as the earth.

Really? No computer model can ever prove anything? I assume Mr. Woodhill realizes that computer modeling is an integral part of many facets of science and is not the creation of climate scientists who are pushing an agenda to make people give up their freedoms. Because, if no computer model can every prove anything, well, that changes everything.

After deciding no computer model can prove anything, the contributing author at Forbes goes on to discredit climate computer models, which, based on his previous argument is a complete waste of time.

So what do we know about the earth’s climate? Apparently, nothing. We don’t know what is really happening to the earth’s “climate”. Even if we did, we could not be sure why it was happening. And, we have no way of knowing whether the change was good or bad for mankind as a whole.

All our best efforts, brightest minds, and exact calculations, decades of study, decades of observation, all amount to a big fat goose egg. No one knows anything.

Wait, but then, why do “progressives” (who are the villain in this essay) keep pushing the coming climate catastrophe? In the world that Mr. Woodhill lives in, progressives pushing climate change want the world to surrender our freedom and move to a centrally planned world economy managed by experts, “just in case”. How could we be so wrong, so terribly anti-freedom, so blind to reality?

Two points about this: first, it’s not going to happen. The Progressives will have to content themselves with extracting a few billion dollars per year from taxpayers to fund cushy “research” and “advocacy” jobs, and to hold climate change conferences like the one that just concluded in Durban. Second, the climate change advocates obviously don’t believe in climate change themselves.

It’s so obvious. Well. I guess that settles it. It’s not real, and even those of us who think it is real KNOW it is not real. Easy-Peezy.

And now for the nail in the coffin. How does Mr. Woodhill know we believers don’t really believe it? Because we are unwilling to accept the wonderful potential of, wait for it…GEOENGINEERING!! Yes, that’s right. If we thought climate change was real, we would re-make the entire interactive nature of earth and its climate with technology! Because that is the real simple solution. Not, you know, changing human activity. It’s much simpler to  alter the fundamental systems of nature!

Mr. Woodhill goes on, but I can’t go on. From here, contributing author to Forbes Loius Woodhill (remember, he has a BS in mechanical engineering, oh oh, it all comes together) goes on to sing the praises of geoengineering as a resolution to our problem that is not real, is not believed by people who believe it, is not proven by science, because science can’t prove anything, because the earth is complicated, because humans are incapable of understanding the change inherent in the universe.

The worst piece logic ever created, arguing for the most complicated and expensive resolution to a problem that apparently doesn’t exist. Congratulations, Mr. Woodhill. I didn’t think it possible.

Best Things of 2011: US Women’s Soccer Team

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Did you know that the best sporting event of the year was the Women’s World Cup? And the Lady Yanks were the team of the 2011? They put together an exciting, dramatic, beautiful run of soccer. And they electrified the country to support their cause: Women’s International Soccer. They played beautifully, and they played tough. And then to the heartbreak of a whole nation that found itself surprised by how much it cared, the US Women’s Soccer Team lost the World Cup final to Japan on an incredibly weak penalty kick showing.

The pressure must have been fantastically huge. The Japanese Women were the sentimental favorites of the entire world, and their victory is not undeserved. And yet this summer’s World Cup was truly one of the best things of 2011. It has left us with some indelible images and lovable reminders that these women are tough, excellent at their jobs, and so much fun.

Here are three highlights of the year’s best sporting event.

1. Megan Rapinoe.
Everyone fell in love with Megan Rapinoe. How could you not? She was the squad’s most resourceful player, and she had a beautiful cross that set up goal after goal. She was the most spirited, energizing character, and she had that hair. How iconic did her hair become? It inspired this t-shirt, from Nike.

I wear a men’s M if you are interested. I’d love to own one of these.

2. Alex Morgan’s goal scoring ability.
Alex Morgan scored a beautiful goal in the World Cup Final against Japan. Receiving a lovely long-ball from Rapinoe on a broken attack from the Japanese, Morgan laid a perfect shot into the far post, just out of reach of the Japanese keeper. It was a perfect strike.

But what lovers of soccer learned from this tournament is that Alex Morgan can score goals. The above goal against Japan was not Morgan’s best of the year. It was not even the best of the summer. The woman can score goals.

3. Abby Wambach is one tough cookie.
That Abby Wambach is a big, tough, player for the USWNT is no surprise if you watch the game. She is tall, she is muscular, and she gets her head on the ball and puts it in the net. It is just what she does.

Wambach, though, has taken her hits. And none could be worse than the qualifying match that the USWNT lost to  Brazil back in November of 2010. In that match, Wambach went up to challenge for ball and took a shot to her eyebrow, which split her open. Amidst the rushing blood, the trainer stapled her face back together, and she played on. Because Abby Wambach is badass. (warning: there’s quite a lot of blood in the below video)

And this story has a happy ending, as Abby Wambach scored the latest goal in World Cup history against Brazil to bring the match to PK shootout, which the Lady Yanks won to give them a birth to the final.

If the US Women’s Team’s performance at this summer’s World Cup didn’t cause you immense joy, surprise, heartbreak, and simple love of country and sport, well, then you just weren’t paying attention.

Written by Christopher ZF

December 28, 2011 at 13:44

Best Things of 2011: President Obama ends Iraq War

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There seems to have been little fanfare in recent weeks over a major accomplishment of President Obama, one that he claimed he would accomplish when he was candidate Obama, and one that the media hasn’t seemed particularly interested in covering, or at least delving into in terrible amounts of detail.

The Iraq War is over. Our troops are home from an engagement they shouldn’t have been involved in to begin with, and after 8 years, far too many lives lost, and countless dollars spent on a war that was started on false pretense in the first place, TRC says: Thanks, President Obama. This was a shitty year for US Politics, yet I’m glad our President is Barack Obama, and the end of the Iraq War deserves our praise.

Written by Christopher ZF

December 28, 2011 at 11:14

Welcome to the Big-Time Ron Paul: You’re consistency is what disqualifies you.

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The line on Presidential Candidate and GOP Rep. Ron Paul is, essentially, ‘hey, I may not agree with him on everything, but at least he’s consistent.’ That’s it. Consistency. He’s consistent in his libertarian philosophy, so consistent that he wins supporters because he has backbone, people know where he stands, the man is, if nothing else, consistent.

But here’s the thing, people. Ron Paul is consistently BATSHIT CRAZY.

It’s one thing to be consistent in his ideals if his ideals are, you know, compassion and honesty, libertarian independence, etc. But there are reasons that human thinking is nuanced, and that complexity should be prized in our intellectual capacity. Shouldn’t we weigh individual circumstances and come to independent conclusions? Isn’t that what the human brain is capable of doing at its height, recognizing nuanced change and adapting our perceptions as circumstances demand? Thus we can see that, though legalizing marijuana may be a reasonable political position, consistency alone should not move us to support legalizing heroin.

Or, for example, being consistently racist and homophobic over a career is not consistency to be celebrated. It has been said that Ron Paul’s libertarian consistency trumps his personal feelings about the gays or the blacks. That refusing to use a gay man’s bathroom isn’t a big deal, because he supports the right of gay and lesbian individuals to do what they want. Not only is that bullshit but it points out that he’s also apparently consistently a douche-bag.

Having a foreign policy that is consistently “lunacy” should worry people. Here’s an update Ron Paul: shit is complicated. A simple policy that fits a slogan is not going to cut it. Your opposition to the Iraq War was just and reasonable. I get that, and think it’s great. You’re opposition to Israel is a little harder to understand. But following your deity of consistency to oppose engaging Hitler is absurd. You’re desire to shrink government makes sense in your political worldview, your plan to end all aid to all nations does not. Your commitment to state’s rights is easy to understand, but extending that to opposition to the Civil Rights Act makes you appear far outside maintaining the compassion that we should all strive for in our lives.

Whether TRC is oversimplifying these issues doesn’t change the fact that consistency is a virtue, but only to a point. Ron Paul and his supporters need to accept that, sometimes, consistency can lead us down a road to chaos, isolation, or indefensible alienation.

There is of course one area in which Ron Paul is more than happy to break with his consistency: in taking responsibility for the Ron Paul Survival Report, the newsletter causing his campaign so many headaches. You either wrote it or you didn’t, either way, it has your name on it, it’s your responsibility, and it is hideous. Reaching out to the far fringe elements of American discontent, the white supremacists and the anti-Semites and anti-government militias, and then denying you knew it was happening now that they support you, that’s just the kind of nuance we are looking for in a President.

Welcome to the Big Time Ron Paul. You wanted the media to take you seriously, well, this is what it looks like.  From top-left, counter-clockwise: Huffington Post, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Washington Post, New Civil Rights, Mediate New York Times via Herald Tribune.

Written by Christopher ZF

December 27, 2011 at 11:30

Romney: Romney = Jobs; Obama = No Jobs

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It has been said that Candidate Barack Obama made promises that as president he could not deliver. That he portrayed himself as messianic, the savior of a nation in despair. Maybe. But when it comes to campaign promises, President Obama is actually doing pretty well, believe it or not. Many of the Obama promises were vague idealized notions around bringing change to Washington, or bringing people together, etc. And some were just failed promises. Because, hey, sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes,  the promises are that just laughable.

For example, Mitt Romney said: “What I can promise you is this – when you get out of college, if I’m president you’ll have a job. If President Obama is reelected, you will not be able to get a job.”

Really, Mitt Romney? If you are elected next fall you are going to find jobs for every college graduate in America? How many favors do you think you can call in? Do you know how many people graduate from college? A lot. This is right up there with that very achievable pledge Michelle Bachmann made to bring the price of gasoline down to$2. You got to love the presidential political campaign.

On the other hand, if Mitt Romney actually could find a job for every college graduate, well, he just might deserve to be elected. If not, well, he should heed the words that were delivered to Maverick after a daring landing: “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.”

Written by Christopher ZF

December 23, 2011 at 11:36