Friday, 29 June 2012

Hot New Thing

Coming soon from Games Workshop...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Results Are In, Beetchez

Wait, what the what?  Looks like I was wrong, but it's worth considering why I was wrong.  I was right that every member of the court who voted against the individual mandate also ordered the entire law thrown out, which makes zero sense to anyone who wasn't interested in protecting insurance companies over maintaining the integrity of the legal system. 

I'm wondering if such naked disgregard for not just precedent but also process was too much for Roberts.  Declaring the mandate unconstitutional was from what I can gather utterly ridiculous (James Fallows recently asked 21 constitutional scholars about this; 19 affirmed its constitutionality, which still seems low, but they're the ones who know what they're doing).  Claiming the law could not exist with the mandate removed is simple bullshit.  Alito (a hack), Thomas (a corrupt hack) and Scalia (a corrupt hack who hates you for not being as smart as he is) along with Kennedy (a weathervane placed in a windy corner to allow him to cower even as he spins) may finally have gone too far in embarrassing the court for even so callous a Chief Justice as Roberts to tolerate.  After all, he's the only person voting here that has something to consider other than his own reputation.

In a parallel universe, Scalia's Angels voted only to strike down the mandate, and Roberts happily piled on. It's not often I say this, but thank the gods for Republican arrogance.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Last Gang In Town (Part 1)

And it's brawn against brain
And it's knife against chain
But it's all young blood
Flowing down the drain

OK, so there wasn't actually a chain in the television adaptation of Game of Thrones ( a shame, though hardly an inexplicable one).  Otherwise, though, that quote works pretty well as an encapsulation of a great deal of the second season, which closed three weeks ago with an extended episode.  But how well did "Valar Morghulis" cap the last year's action, and how well do episodes 11 through 20 measure up to A Clash Of Kings?  I warn you, this post got so big I had to split it into two. Hey, if it's good enough for Martin...

(What is below may never spoil!  Unless you read it, obviously.)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Targetted Screwing

Since we'll almost certainly know on Thursday what the Fates have decreed [1] for the Affordable Care Act, I suppose I should make a prediction as to what will happen.  Will the Supreme Court allow the individual mandate to stand, on the flimsy pretext that it was designed specifically to fit within the Constitution using language universally believed to fit within the constitution, and which would its critics agree would lie within the constitution if the name given to the penalty for non-compliance was different?  Will they tear down the mandate because nothing seems more sensible in the 21st Century than tearing down landmark legislation based on existing precedent the Court is pretending doesn't exist anymore?  Or will they go one step further and kick the entire Act out on the street, because you can't make it work without the mandate in any case?

Let's remember what the individual mandate does: it forces all citizens to purchase health insurance, to make sure no-one waits until they fall sick before doing so.  Remove the mandate, and insurance companies still have to cover anyone who asks them to (one of the major plus points of the law), even if the person asking has just suffered a heart attack and finds themselves needing a triple coronary bypass.  Needless to say, this is not the preferred option of the aforementioned companies.

With that in mind, let's review the options:
  1. The notoriously business-friendly partisans who declared the 2000 election for the Republican candidate can keep insurance companies and Democrats happy;
  2. The notoriously business-friendly partisans who declared the 2000 election for the Republican candidate can simultaneously fuck over insurance companies and Democrats;
  3. The notoriously business-friendly partisans who declared the 2000 election for the Republican candidate can keep insurance companies happy whilst fucking over Democrats.
This does not strike me as difficult to call.

[1] My apologies to the Fates for the comparison; they might be uncaring, distant beings with no interest or investment in the consequences of their actions, but at least none of them are joyously ignorant fuckers like Antonin Scalia who, it's been well noted, has recently released a book calling his fellow SC judges hacks for not interpreting the constitution the exact way he thinks it should, and in the same book announces he's changed his mind entirely on an interpretation he's insisted was correct right up until it would force him to accept the ACA. Also, he thinks state law should always trump federal law, so long as he thinks the federal law in question is rubbish.

Like I said; joyously ignorant fucker.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Indolently Strolling Dead

This is probably a stupid thing to post just hours before the newest episode airs, since for all I know we're about to land in the middle of a zombie killfest.  But sweet nukekubi of Ryukyu, this is some slow shit we got going on here.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday 40K: Crotch-Rockets Galore

Today my Ravenwing gets some more reinforcements in the shape of two new bikes.  These join another bike I haven't been able to use for years since the ludicrously draconian Dark Angels Codex demanded every infantry squad size was a multiple of five and every bike squad be a multiple of three.

Perhaps there'll be some more Dark Angels reinforcements headed this way soon, if the scuttlebutt about the boxed set for Sixth Edition proves true, though at 2200 points, it's probably time for me to move onto something else in any case.

In other news, my Space Hulk genestealers finally reveal they have feet:

and the Talisman alchemist steps out in a rather unfortunate white with brown undergarment number.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

First Class Outsourcing

King Kong became enraged upon learning his birthday trainset
lacked the bendy pieces necessary to complete a circuit.
If you're a fan of pre 1980's horror (i.e. back when sequelitis was a growing concern, rather than a seemingly incurable cancer), and you've never stumbled across the Classic Horror Campaign, you might find it of interest.  I certainly did, which is how I ended up writing a review for them.

Go read the link for the full article, but in short: Horror Express remains one of my favourite Hammer films of all time, despite it not actually being Hammer at all.  "Monsters? We're British, man!"

Monday, 18 June 2012

Tortured Logic: Immigration Edition

I promise I'll get round to posting something that isn't about American politics soon (I wanted to have my article on the Game of Thrones S2 finale by now, but Sky Go had other ideas), but this one was just too good to pass up: Obama has decided to not deport 80 000 800 000-odd illegal immigrants - on the basis that they were kids when they came to the US, and have lived here ever since - and mighty constitutional scholar John Yoo is outraged:
So what we have here is a president who is refusing to carry out federal law simply because he disagrees with Congress’s policy choices. That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive — not to mention the Framers — cannot support.

This, for those who don't know, is the John Yoo who went on the Daily Show and argued with a straight face that the president has the authority to crush the testicles of people he's arbitrarily had detained.  It's also the same John Yoo who argued in a document that was never supposed to see the light of day that the president has the authority to intentionally deceive Congress if he judges it necessary.

In the Yooniverse, then, the following is an outrageous violation of presidential power.
  1. Tell justice department to not deport a given subset of illegal immigrants;
On the other hand, this would be entirely OK:
  1. Tell Congress that a given subset of illegal immigrants are terrorists working to destroy America;
  2. Refuse to say how or why this is the case;
  3. Round up given subset of illegal immigrants and hold them indefinitely without charge;
  4. Define the area in which they are to be confined to as the entire country.
Isn't that how it works?  Or does it not count unless some guy gets his testicle crushed?

(To be serious for a moment, I'm not entirely sure what Obama's proposed is actually legal, though that's my obvious lack of specialist knowledge talking, not informed doubt.  Either way, I',not willing to accept Yoo as an authority here, nor am I remotely persuaded by his argument (echoed by others) that this is setting a dangerous precedent, mainly because this sort of thing has already been done. And by Republican presidents, no less.  Which reminds us once again that there's nothing the Republican Party screams about longer and louder about than the Democrats adopting their tactics.)

Update: My thanks to Dan for pointing out my idiotic mis-spelling of Yoo's name for the first half of the post.  I've fixed it now.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

What Could Go Wrong?

Two important positions of Mitt Romney that need to be considered simultaneously:
  1. He supports employers telling their employees who they support for president, because of "how it will effect their jobs";
  2. He supports weakening unions and employment law to the point an employer can fire an employee for voting for the candidate the employer supports.
I certainly can't see any problem here.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Radio Friday: What Fresh Outrage?

Ooh, a lot of people are all mad and stuff because someone's decapitated George W Bush and shoved his severed head onto a pike atop a wall in Malta.

Oh, wait.  Scratch that.  Guys not actually dead.  It's just a "spare head" they had lying around.  Sure, like that's believable.  Like many of those on the rightmost vertices of the blogohedron, I know nothing about the fake head industry in Malta, but I'm still 100% sure that it wouldn't involve making images of famous celebrities, particularly not those notorious the world over.  And even if that weren't the case, we all know how astronomical the budget was for the show's first season. 

Are we really supposed to believe they sunk all that cash into big name actors, lavish sets, hundreds of extras, and CGI castles and dragons?  Please.  Ensuring fake heads look like no person alive would surely have been the place to spread some real cash around; get the job done properly.

Frankly, I'm disgusted by this treatment of an effigy of President Bush. Such callous disrespect - perhaps even a kind of death threat? - would only be remotely justifiable if Bush had been responsible for the deaths of over two hundred thousand innocent people.

As it is, all those left-wing filth-peddlers over at HBO should just thank their lucky stars that Bush left  Malta unbombed for them to film on.

Since it's Radio Friday, I'd best put up a video, and what better choice than a quartet of scruffy young Turks advocating the beheading of Bill Clinton.  At least, I assume that's what they're doing.

Thursday, 14 June 2012


"My fellow Americans!  Er... woof!"
Kevin Drum had unearthed fascinating new evidence about how dogs are cute and no-one gives a shit about cats!  My jaw, it is entirely un-dropped.

It's an interesting idea though; bring the doggies out to keep everyone entertained whilst you're trying to cover up an illicit affair, or Watergate, or something.  Maybe if Checkers had been more photogenic Ford would never have ended up with the Oval.

I also adore this line:
We surmise that diversionary pets are a political liability when their frolicking on the White House lawn in hard times might cue the public that not everyone in the country is suffering equally and that being president is not a full-time job 
Because nothing could trouble the proles more than learning that the obscenely powerful, opulence-hoarding White House occupants also keep a dog.  Like this guy:

They won't even have to share a sausage!  There's one each!  Bet he's an immigrant...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

1.10: Read Between The Lines

No, I haven't forgotten how to count.

1.11                                                                      1.9

Monday, 11 June 2012

What Will Be Born, And What Has Already Died

A few quick comments on Ross Douthat's latest piece.  First, the obligatory cheap shot, which I wouldn't make if if he didn't leave himself open to it as often as he does: this is not a man who should feel comfortable criticising others as "privileged have-mores with an obvious incentive to invent spurious theories to justify their own position".  This in an article arguing that liberals are going to bring back social Darwinism with all our Godless science, no less.

Secondly, consider the meat of Douthat's argument: some people who championed eugenics in the 1920s were liberals.  The idea became morally repulsive after WWII, and provably unhelpful a few decades later.  But that doesn't mean we've abandoned the idea!

Yes, Ross.  Yes, it does.  Dredging up the spectre of a past long since dead is pointless, a way of distracting readers from the fact that you're actual argument regarding the here and now is nothing more than "it's theoretically possible we'll find ourselves atop what might be a slippery slope, maybe".  At heart, it's no different from those recent painfully dumb articles about how Republicans are the real party of civil rights, because they were better on the subject until the 1960s, and should be taken no more seriously than all those the jokes about Germany's recent economic strong-arming being their closest alternative to invading France.

There's another of Douthat's most common themes in here, a tendency to think the worst of science.  He admits that the eugenics of 80 years ago didn't understand how intelligence is linked to genetics (or rather, they thought it was linked in ways it it isn't), but it doesn't occur to him to make the obvious link: it's through scientific advancement that we worked all that out.  Exploits like mapping the human genome are what has made the concept of social Darwinism medically counter-productive in addition to morally abhorrent. 

That means those who might champion the idea no longer need to merely switch off their basic humanity, they need to ignore the data as well.  Perhaps more than a handful of people still exist.  Perhaps, some are even liberals, though I can't for the life of me imagine the tangled thought processes that would take to justify.  But the same research that makes it increasingly unlikely that anyone would sensibly want to try such a thing would also make it theoretically (as oppose to economically) feasible to try it, and that's all Douthat can think about.

In some ways, this is a more disappointing article than usual from Douthat, because his final point - should we feel comfortable about aborting foetuses with serious life-long but not life-threatening genetic conditions - is worthy of discussion. Contra Douthat, that's not really a consideration which depends on one's feelings regarding the nature of a foetus; if you're pro-life, the answer is clear.  It's only a thorny issue for those of us who are pro-choice: does supporting a woman's right to say "I do not want to have this baby" extend to supporting them saying "I will only have this baby if..."

Like I said, it's a conversation worth having.  Douthat either can't or doesn't want to go there, though, so he's reduced to arguing that voluntarily deciding whether to have a baby given certain conditions is kind of like forcing people who are more likely to generate such a baby to undergo sterilisation.  Like those evil liberals once wanted to do.  Or something.

One last point.  It would be hard to pin Douthat down on this, because the man has an insufferable habit of pretending to be arguing from a secular perspective until actual secularists slap him down, when he suddenly claims to be writing for Christians after all, but there is one question I'd dearly like to ask him: what are the secular grounds for not allowing siblings to marry?

Right now, of course, incest is illegal. A lot of reasons are given for this, but as far as I can tell, they break down into social points and medical points, and almost invariably involve the resulting children.  The former are frequently persuasive as to why it's not a good idea (two parents who had the same upbringing don't have the necessary spread of experience, social ostracism, confusing family reunions), but many of the specific arguments can also be aimed at single parents and same sex (or even mixed race) marriages, which makes it hard to believe they're strong enough to justify a blanket ban.

The genetic argument seems to me to have far more force; there's an increased risk of all sorts of unpleasant conditions that a child borne of siblings can have.  But if Ross is against the idea of medical tests to determine the genetic structure of a baby, shouldn't he be in favour of allowing siblings - at least those separated at an early age and being reunited as adults - to get married? 

That's the problem with bright-line positions like the one Douthat is knocking around here.  Sooner or later you find something that's on the wrong side of it.  The problem with Douthat himself, of course, is that this sort of realisation always leads to another horribly tortuous spiel of sophistry in an attempt to paint the line somewhere slightly different, rather than facing up to the fact that the bright line never existed, and never can.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Someone Told Me It's All Happening...

OK, I admit it.  "Corstorphine Haze" wasn't entirely accurate.  Out in the real world, the rain in Edinburgh was inconstant enough for The Other Half and I to catch more than a few glimpses of the inhabitants of Reekie's mammal-ghetto, even if most of them involved the creatures in question huddling in their rooms.

Here's a selection of what was encountered:

A L'Hoest's monkey, who I've photographed mainly because I couldn't find any of the Jimmy Saville tamarins (note: may not be actual species name).

A selection of photos of the giant pandas, which were actually the main reason why we went to the zoo in the first place (having had a good look around last year).

Friday, 8 June 2012

Friday Talisman: Sneaky, Sneaky Bastards

After suffering seizures and mild hallucinations from painting the conjurer, I decided to head for the opposite end of the scale, and paint something as dingy as possible.  Enter: the assassin!

(This would be a perfect time to post one of my favourite James songs, "Assassin", but I can't find it on Youtube.  Curse you, intentionally commonly-named band!)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

A Tale Of Cocktails #29



2 oz cherry wine
1 oz vodka
6 oz lemonade
Dash lemon juice

Taste: 6
Look: 5
Cost: 9
Name: 7
Prep: 9
Alcohol: 2
Overall: 6.4

Preparation: Pour ingredients into a cordial glass.  Stir and serve.

General Comments: As the name implies (we had to make our own up, since this is a variant of the terminally boring "cherry wine cocktail", which cuts out the lemonade and is lethal), the combination of cherry wine and vodka somehow ends up tasting like Ribena and lemonade, only with something of a dryness to it.  Noting this curious result is somewhat more interesting than the drink itself, it has to be said. And you can't really even get drunk enough off of it to giggle at the silly name.

Damn cheap, though.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Corstorphine Haze

We came up here to get away from it all
And since I can't see shit, I guess that's Mission Accomplished
Two hundred miles north to a hilltop menagerie
Yet here's the animal I've seen most today: the fucking Queen
The small Scots girl promised nature in abundance
But all I'm getting is miserable sniffing and indignant grunts
Which might be emanating from the packs of schoolchildren
Who came to learn, but have discovered only
That these exotic creatures are smarter than them
Or us
Sleeping through the cloudburst we push through stiff-shouldered
Forced to settle for drawings of what allegedly surrounds us
A child's picture book in pouring rain.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Hate And War

I'm gonna stay in the city 
Even when the house fall down
War is Hell, I have been led to believe, and the Battle of the Blackwater isn't liable to change my mind on the subject.  But in amongst all the salt and stone and blood and fire, is there anything else we can dig out?

(Spoilers beyond the Mud Gate, men!)

Friday, 1 June 2012

At Least Put Some Effort In

There's plenty of people agape with contemptuous disbelief right now at Mitt Romney's suggestion of a Constitutional Amendment requiring the president have at least three years experience working in business.

I'm pretty outraged as well.  Not because it's a ridiculous idea, but because it's a ridiculous idea that's also really boring.  If you're going to start supporting arbitrary hoops for candidates to jump through, you should at least be inventive.  How about deciding no-one be allowed to take the Oval unless:
  • They've punched a shark.  Like, really hard.  The shark has to be in tears afterwards.  No tears means vice presidency only;
  • They've completed Halo 3 on Legendary difficulty, whilst wearing socks on their hands;
  • They've strangled at least one Communist, using the American flag;
  • They've challenged the Hulk to an arm-wrestle.  They don't have to win, but when Hulk says "Puny presidential candidate!", it has to sound at least a little ironic;
  • They have laid their hands upon the sick, and, lo!, they have been healed (so long as they have health insurance, obviously);
  • They've spilled Chuck Norris' pint, and refused to apologise;
  • They've jumped out of an aeroplane into another one, all whilst singing the national anthem;
  • They've set fire to a killer-bee hive with the power of their thoughts;
  • They've perfected the moonwalk, on the actual moon;
  • They've suggested the USA has no business policing the world.
Now that, my friends, would be a campaign season worth watching.