Meet the Sniper
Monday, June 30, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
For those of you who haven't yet watched Valve's hilarious "Meet the Sniper" video, here is a link to that. Basically, for those of you who are not rabid TF2 fans like myself, Valve has a cute little series of videos introducing you to the various classes available in the game. They're a fun watch, even if you don't play the game (but if you're not, shame on you, because it's hella fun and you should be playing).

Also, per request of my favorite sniper, Mr. Snuts!*, here are some fun pictures to get you through your workday (and they don't require reading). The second is what I'd look like as a South Park character:




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Do You Know Who LaVena Johnson Is?
Monday, June 30, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Oh my. This story from the New Zealand Herald is certainly an eye-opener.
Private LaVena Johnson's nose was broken, teeth were loose, one eye was concave and there were abrasions over her body. The supposed M-16 hole to the head was far too small for the revolver-sized exit wound, and was on the wrong side of her skull for a right-handed woman to have pulled the trigger. Her genital area showed evidence of acid, perhaps used to destroy DNA evidence. She had white military gloves glued to her burned hands.
The kicker in this story? The Army ruled her death a suicide.

I'm not publishing this to start a conversation about whether or not female soldiers are safe in a war zone, or to make some accusing comments about the conduct of our troops over there. 99% of those guys are good troops and conduct themselves as proper professionals.

The point of publishing this is to share the story of one soldier, to help bring to light a news story that most of you won't see in the regular media. It's sad that more people aren't aware of this seemingly obvious cover-up and crime. Go to these sites and educate yourself, and see how you feel about it.

The Pfc LaVena Johnson Petition
The news story aired about this case in St Louis
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Back To Work, Peasant!
Friday, June 27, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Slate has an interesting article up, looking at the employment practices of Walmart versus Costco. The general jist is, Walmart is generally held up as the villian of employment practices. Among other things, they've been accused of:
  1. Locking employees into the store at night, to make sure they don't leave/steal stuff. Which of course is crazy and also a major fire/safety hazard
  2. Sexual discrimination
  3. Abusing and exploiting illegal immigrant labor
  4. Union busting
  5. etc, etc etc....
Walmart also doesn't pay well and has incredibly high employee turnover as a result (along with the reasons stated above). On the opposite side you have Costco, with their generous benefits and high wages (after a period of time, see the article linked above for the specifics).

The main questions posed by the article are:
Costco CEO and founder Jim Sinegal repeatedly insists to Greenhouse that treating employees well is "good business."

That makes a pleasing sound bite, and assume for a moment that Sinegal's assertion is true. Why, then, wouldn't Wal-Mart do everything it could to make itself more like Costco? Now assume that Sinegal's assertion is false. Why, then, does Costco treat employees better if that's against the company's financial interests?

It's a pretty good read, so check it out. I do want to point out one thing that the article fails to mention - part of Costco's philosophy about treating employees right is the idea of The Golden Rule. Happy employees don't tend to do things like steal. Costco allegedly has very low inventory theft, compared to Walmart's high level of employee theft. This helps contributes towards keeping costs down.

In the end, I hope that Costco's model will continue to work, as it depresses me to think that Walmart's "Do Lots of Evil First" methodology might be the only viable way to make a profit these days.
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The Little Show That Couldn't
Thursday, June 26, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
At first I was going to post a counter-list to my last entry, listing my Top 10 Best Shows on TV. Sort of a "Shows that should never die" complement to the "Why Won't You Die Already!" post. But then I thought:
  • You already know the good shows out there. Lost doesn't need my online approval for you to know that it's a quality show.
  • I can only come up with so many adjectives for "awesome!!!" before I'm just at a loss for things to write.
  • Top 10 is so subjective - another fellow poster had a top 10 list with 4 of the 10 shows on PBS. Which, I'm sure they're good shows, but not necessarily Must See TV for me.
Instead, I realized that each of those Top 10 worst shows I listed were taking up a coveted network slot. Which means that some other more deserving show probably didn't make it to air. So today's list is about shows that didn't make it, but certainly deserved to.

Ground rules:
  • Must be a recent kill. Yes, I know that Freaks and Geeks and Arrested Development are the reigning king and queen of the Prom of Undeservedly Killed Before Its Time Shows (with My So-Called Life winning the prom princess crown). But those shows have been gone for awhile
  • No top 10. Just a lamentable 3 that I will miss greatly.
  • To head off any and all "But what about Jericho?!?!?!11!@111" comments, 1) I didn't care for it personally, so make the case yourself in your own blog and 2) Two words: Skeet. Ulrich.
Without further ado, here we go:
Alas, We Hardly Knew Ye!!! (3 Best Shows that Didn't Live See Fall 2008)
  1. Aliens in America - It sounded like a recipe for disaster: a Wisconsin family who gets a foreign exchange student is shocked when they find out they got one from Pakistan - cultural misunderstandings and hijinks abound. But, I can honestly say that this lovely little show was my second favorite show on TV while it was on (with only 30 Rock beating it). It hit all the right notes - it was alternately funny, insightful, touching, and then funny again. It was well cast - I loved every character and the kid who played Raja was an amazing find. The show managed to address Raja's culture without being demeaning, or suggesting it was inferior to American culture.

    Here's just one example of how the show delicately handled the issue of Raja's Muslim belief system: in one stellar episode, Raja falls for a Muslim girl he has just met. He courts her formally, spending time with her family, arranging dates where they are supervised. They have a hard time actually getting to know each other though, due to the fact that their families are always around (and Raja, being bashful, instead spends most of his time talking to her parents, and not the girl). Raja's host mother (the hilarious Amy Pietz) finally does a little trickery to allow the two kids to spend time together, without having the girl's family know about this little cultural breach. Raja and the girl hit it off, but later it is revealed that the girl is also secretly dating an American boy on the side. When confronted, she explains that while she loves her Muslim upbringing, there's a side of her that wants to do normal American teenager things as well. Raja is heartbroken, but explains to her that his own personal beliefs cannot allow him to date her and spend time alone with her unless they are married first. I just loved this episode, because they had Raja stay true to his beliefs, and my heart just broke for him because I was able to understand where he was coming from. Just great stuff.

    So what went wrong? Well, to start, it was stranded on the CW, which is the dead zone for sitcoms. Second, for some reason, no one was talking this show up in the media (which surprised me, based other shows that the press made an effort to promote). Third, because of the second reason, no one seemed to know anything about this show. All of this meant that unlike cult shows that found a following in the after life (the aforementioned Freaks and Geeks being one), this show was killed and will likely pass from memory. Do yourself a favor and track down online episodes on YouTube while you can.

  2. Andy Barker, P.I. - This is the second great show that Andy Richter has had that hasn't been given a fair shake. And while I believe that "Andy Richter Controls The Universe" is a superior show (and is in fact is one of my top "Shows that Deserved To Air Till The End of Time"), "Andy Barker, P.I." was still a really fun show with a lot of potential that was better than most shows currently airing. It had a great cast, and Richter was spot on in his performance. Just a shame, this one. Situations like this are why an immensely talented comic like Richter is forced to slum it in Olson twin movies and dreck like "Quintuplets".

  3. Veronica Mars - I'm not going to be able to add anything that the online advocates of this show haven't already said. This show was great, you know it was great, everyone knows it was great, and yet somehow it still got killed. I just wanted to point out the indignity of being killed by the Pussycat Dolls reality show. The fucking Pussycat Dolls, people!
Anyhoo, feel free to discuss. Also, here's my Top 10 Best Shows list, without commentary, since I know you wanted to know:
  1. 30 Rock
  2. Battlestar Galactica
  3. The Office
  4. Deadliest Catch
  5. Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List
  6. Dexter
  7. The Closer
  8. Damages
  9. Lost
  10. The Daily Show
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10 Worst Shows That Just Won't Die
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Jumping off of yesterday's post, I've decided to make my own list of 10 Worst Shows. Here are the rules of engagement:
  • Must be a show that has successfully been renewed at least once. I'm not going to waste space on shows that were canceled before a second season - it's a bit too easy to pick a crappy show like Viva Laughlin and dog pile on it for sucking. Yeah, it sucked, but the network took a chance on it, didn't like what they saw, and wisely canceled it after just 1 episode.
  • Must be of extremely poor quality (or has suffered an incredible decline since its high points).
  • Must be a program on a fairly respected network. Do we care that Animal Planet is airing a stupid reality show about dog groomers? No.
Why Won't You Just Die Already!!!! (the top 10 worst shows)
  1. ER - Yes, it's finally due to die after this season. But really, this show wore out its welcome 5 years ago. Not a single original main cast member is still on the pay roll, the plots are ridiculously outlandish (the Chopper Kills Romano plot being one of the most outrageous ones in recent memory), and frankly, the soap isn't as fun as it used to be. Grey's Anatomy has stripped the mantle of "Best show where hot docs make love/do medicine" away, so ER doesn't have much going for it these days. This is at the top of the list not because it's the worst overall objectively, but for the sin of having achieved such great heights (really, Doug Ross saving that kid in the drain is a classic TV moment) and yet plummeted so far in quality.

  2. Mind of Mencia - Attention, world: Carlos Mencia IS NOT FUNNY. Plus, if rumor is to be believed, he steals other people's material. Which makes you wonder: if you were going to steal other people's jokes, wouldn't you want to steal the ones that were actually funny? Each episode is 30 painful minutes of racial stereotypes and bad acting.

  3. According to Jim - Everyone associated with this show should be punched in the throat.

  4. CSI: Miami - Crass and trashier than the other CSIs, with a mediocre cast and stupid David Caruso glowering behind his stupid yellow sunglasses and mumbling "witty" quips. Inexplicably high rated.

  5. Ghost Whisperer - I admit, I've never seen the appeal of Jennifer Love McHugeTits (I mean "Hewett"). But are the typical Jennifer Love-Hewett fans (horny young guys) really hanging around on Friday nights aching to watch a boring ghost show? Shouldn't they be down at the local Hooters doing shots?

  6. Prison Break - Is anyone even watching this anymore?

  7. Two And A Half Men - Who are you, millions who allegedly watch this show? Because I've never met a single person who liked (and really, even admitted to watching) this show. Formulaic junk, plus the kid is freakishly big now.

  8. The Moment of Truth - Cruel, manipulative, and yet somehow really freaking boring. Someone needs to slap the FOX execs who greenlit this.

  9. America's Next Top Model - Tyra Banks MUST be stopped.

  10. Smallville - Dude, the guy playing teenage Clark Kent is like 30 years old. Michael Rosenbaum, the real star of the show, has left. It's time to put this turkey to bed.
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Today's post is all about entertainment.

First, I must start on a sad note. R.I.P. George Carlin. I'm not going to be able to say anything that won't be covered in his various obits around the web, but I will note that a critical American voice has been silenced and it is a sad day for all. Carlin was a boundary tester, a man who pushed the limit of acceptable speech. People like this are crucial in a free society - they intentionally shine a light on cultural taboos, to make us question whether those taboos even make sense anymore.

Moving on, usually there's a flood of "best of" lists around New Year's, but apparently people are getting in on the game early. Entertainment Weekly put up a list of their "1000 New Classics from the Last 25 Years" online, as well as dedicated a double issue to it (I just got mine in the mail). Conversely, Television Without Pity just put up their 10 Worst Shows of the New Millennium. I'll be going over the EW list in upcoming posts this week (I will just address the Top 25 in each category), but here's my problem overall with these lists: by what criteria does one judge the "greatness" or "terribleness" of a piece of pop culture?

For the 10 Worst Shows list, do you count shows like "Viva Laughlin" which were so bad they were cancelled after 1 episode? Do you count shows that are on terrible networks that no one ever watches, like the Flavor Flav sitcom on My20 (and really, isn't that shooting fish in a barrel)? Or do you count shows that are undeniable shitty and yet unexplicably draw huge audiences, like "According to Jim"?

For the 25 Top New Classics list (they do the top 100 per category, but I'll stick to the top 25), what defines "classic"? Do you pick something that's a great work of art, though it may have had a limited audience (a la "The Piano")? Do you pick something that changed the cultural lexicon, like Seinfeld? Do you pick huge blockbusters that everybody saw and will probably re-watch a million times (like Titanic)?

This week will be dedicated to commenting on the EW lists (to start) as well as suggesting my own "Best/Worst" lists. Stay tuned for that.

Lastly, the final sign of the apocalypse is upon us:
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Andrew Sullivan's outrage at the latest torture revelations
Friday, June 20, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I'm not necessarily a fan of Andrew Sullivan, but I find his perspective very interesting. He might be one of the few rational conservatives left in the world.

You all must go to his blog and read this post in its entirety. Sullivan discusses his rage at the latest torture revelations. My favorite line:

My rage at Bush has not caused me to accuse the man of war crimes. Bush's war crimes are what caused my rage. I started this war not as a Bush-hater, but as a Bush-defender. I started it dismissing the first rumors of torture at Gitmo as enemy propaganda. But no one with open eyes could have believed that it was made up even four years ago, let alone now. But, yes, with every new revelation and every spurious defense and every new lie, it is impossible not to feel anger. In fact, in my view, it is vital to feel anger. And not to let it subside.
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Viva Habeas Corpus!
Thursday, June 19, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
There's been a lot of back-and-forth between the Obama and McCain camps this week about the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding extending the writ of habeas corpus to the prisoners locked up at Gitmo. According to McCain:
"The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country. Sen. Graham and Sen. Lieberman and I had worked very hard to make sure that we didn't torture any prisoners, that we didn't mistreat them, that we abided by the Geneva Conventions, which applies to all prisoners. But we also made it perfectly clear, and I won't go through all the legislation we passed, and the prohibition against torture, but we made it very clear that these are enemy combatants, these are people who are not citizens, they do not and never have been given the rights that citizens of this country have. And my friends there are some bad people down there. There are some bad people. So now what are we going to do. We are now going to have the courts flooded with so-called, quote, Habeas Corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material. And we are going to be bollixed up in a way that is terribly unfortunate, because we need to go ahead and adjudicate these cases. By the way, 30 of the people who have already been released from Guantanamo Bay have already tried to attack America again, one of them just a couple weeks ago, a suicide bomber in Iraq. Our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation, and the men and women who defend it. This decision will harm our ability to do that."
This is of course, ridiculous. #1, Habeas Corpus is about the right to know why the government is detaining you. It doesn't have anything to do with challenging your right to release due to diet or reading material, as McCain suggests. #2, there's the bizarre notion among conservatives that every single person in Gitmo is automatically guilty.

Regarding #1 - What Habeas Corpus is:
The Anonymous Liberal has a great post up discussing why even Bin Laden is entitled to Habeas Corpus. The whole thing is a great read (and you must all go consume it in its entirety), but here's the key passage:
But beyond that obvious point, there's a deeper ignorance at work here. Embedded in Hayes question is the bizarre and completely unamerican notion that your legal rights should somehow depend on how "bad" a person you are. The more serious the crimes for which you stand accused, the less rights you should have under the law. But that's quite obviously not how any system of rights is supposed to operate. Hayes' question is like asking whether a serial killer has the right to counsel or the right to a jury trial. Of course he does. The whole point of due process is to determine whether someone is guilty. It's the punishment that is supposed to vary depending on the seriousness of the crime, not the process.
Seriously. Does anyone in their right mind think there isn't enough evidence for the U.S. Government to make a case in open court that Bin Laden is guilty? Habeas Corpus is about the government stating why they are detaining the person - to prove that the detention isn't arbitrary, and to make sure that the legal process gets started.

In her article "McCain's terror errors", Rosa Brooks makes the following point:
Obama's point boiled down to common sense: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Our federal courts have been in business for more than 200 years. They've tried brutal Mafia bosses who controlled entire American cities, violent drug lords, Nazis, spies and the Oklahoma City bombers. U.S. courts have procedures for handling sensitive national security evidence, and they have already successfully tried Al Qaeda terrorists, including "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid and 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui. These men had their day in court, made idiots of themselves, and now they're locked away in a U.S. supermax prison.

Better still, they're now rightly dismissed by the rest of the world as megalomaniacal thugs -- not the kind of guys anyone would want to emulate. In contrast, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his buddies remain untried at Guantanamo, insisting proudly that they're "warriors" against the mighty United States -- and as Obama commented, that has "given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, 'Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.' "
To me that's the heart of the problem I see. Despite the occasion mishap, overall, I think we have a solid legal system. There's this undercurrent of distrust for the legal branch, with people slinging around words like "activist judges" that betray a serious misunderstanding about how our legal system works and what the roles of judges, juries and lawyers are. Sure, it's not perfect, but by and large, THE SYSTEM WORKS.

As for point #2, the assumed guilt of the people at Gitmo, well... that runs contrary to both the spirit of the American legal system (innocent until proven guilty), and more importantly it's contrary to the apparent facts on the ground. McClatchy's - the only news source out there that seems to remember what their job/responsibility is as news people - has a fascinating (and depressing) article on just how many of the people who were/are at Gitmo were actually completely innocent or at worst, minor players. A brief excerpt:
McClatchy interviewed 66 released detainees, more than a dozen local officials — primarily in Afghanistan — and U.S. officials with intimate knowledge of the detention program. The investigation also reviewed thousands of pages of U.S. military tribunal documents and other records.

This unprecedented compilation shows that most of the 66 were low-level Taliban grunts, innocent Afghan villagers or ordinary criminals. At least seven had been working for the U.S.-backed Afghan government and had no ties to militants, according to Afghan local officials. In effect, many of the detainees posed no danger to the United States or its allies.

The investigation also found that despite the uncertainty about whom they were holding, U.S. soldiers beat and abused many prisoners.

Prisoner mistreatment became a regular feature in cellblocks and interrogation rooms at Bagram and Kandahar air bases, the two main way stations in Afghanistan en route to Guantanamo.

While he was held at Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, Akhtiar said, "When I had a dispute with the interrogator, when I asked, 'What is my crime?' the soldiers who took me back to my cell would throw me down the stairs."
Remember people, these abuses are being commited in your name.
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Suck it, Pittsburgh!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
This article made my morning:

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell loses sports bet on Stanley Cup. The terms of the bets? As punishment, he had to take the following picture while eating a famous Michigan meal of sausage:



Hilarious!

In other news, Tiger Woods offers further proof that he is, in fact, a robot. It must be frustrating to be other golfers and know that 1) a major injury to your opponent and 2) playing the best game of your life, still might not be enough to best Tiger.
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Katherine Heigl needs to Shut The Hell Up.
Friday, June 13, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Remember that episode of Friends, where Joey sort of threw his writers under the bus during an interview with a soap opera magazine? And remember how the writers got their revenge by having Dr. Ramoray fall down an elevator shaft and die? Well, I think Katherine Heigl's character Izzie better start watching herself around elevators.

Heigl recently withdrew her name from Emmy contention. When asked why she did it, she replied:
"I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention," she tells Gold Derby. "In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials."
Nice. She pretty much blames her writers for giving her crappy material to work with. Still, let's talk about all the ways that this was a colossal dick move:
  1. She had all season to work with her writers to try and get better material, so I'm not sure why she's whining now.
  2. It's incredibly poor form to call out the people you work with in such a public setting. Especially since they were responsible for the writing that got you the damn Emmy last year in the first place.
  3. She also seems to think that's she SO awesome, her performance might still garner a nomination, despite the writing she's had to endure. This is also an indictment of the Emmy voters themselves, as she seems to think that they'd be so overwhelmed by her awesomeness that they'd vote for her, versus an actress who had better material.
Keep in mind that Heigl has shown a pattern of shitty behavior like this before. She was quoted in the press somewhat bashing Judd Apatow for how she felt women were portrayed in Knocked Up (a movie she STARRED in, mind you). I wonder if she's going to start getting a reputation in the industry as a person who bites the hand that feeds her.

As a closing point, I'd like to note that she hasn't had a bad word to say about that cinematic masterpiece "27 Dresses" she recently starred in.
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Congratulations, Junior!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Yesterday, Ken Griffrey Jr. joined an elite club of men, hitting his 600th Home Run of his career. This is a momentous occasion and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Sports Illustrated has a great article up about why it's an important milestone and how Junior did it the right way. Key quote:
Griffey, who belted 40 homers in his 2000 return, has had just two 30-homer seasons since. He's been chronically injured, hamstrung by hamstring woes in particular. Blessed by good genes and bad legs. "General soreness" is how the Reds' recent pre-game notes describe his physical condition.

Yet he's rarely alibied, and never honked his own horn. Never had to. When Griffey hit his 600th, his was a dignified, major-league loll around the basepaths. Not too slow, not too fast, not showy in the least, before hugging his oldest son, Trey, in the dugout. It was the antithesis of Bonds' preening, look-at-me sashay after his 756th dinger.

[snip]

Come late July, the question may be this: Will Griffey, the sixth man to belt 600 homers, become the first to be traded in the same season? The eight-year extension he signed in 2000 has a club option for 2009. Whatever the Reds decide, Griffey, at 38, still has aspirations to join the 700 club. Who knows how high they'd have been had he not been injured so often this decade? Say, 800? The one 800 club member? Who'll know?

Know this: Junior's achievement was not only extraordinary, but untainted. Welcome him home properly, Cincinnati.

I'm reminded of an Onion spoof article from a year or so back, when Barry Bonds broken the career home run record. It's called Nation to Ken Griffey Jr.: "We Wish It Were You Hitting 756 Home Runs". Now, this is supposed to be a funny article (and it certainly is, you should read it), but on the other hand, there's certainly a grain of truth to it. Because for all Barry Bonds's bluster about how people didn't want him to break the record because he was black, I think the truth is for around 90% of us that we just thought he was a giant dick, and we don't like to see giant dicks win stuff. I think had it been Griffey Jr. (and believe me, without some of the injuries or bad luck of the strike happening when it did, it could have been), the nation would have celebrated and there would have been no controversy.
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Team Fortress 2
Friday, June 06, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
There's a great interview up over at Gamasutra with a member of the Valve development team (they're the guys who make Team Fortress 2, my current favorite game). He talks about how he envisions Valve as providing a service to players, versus just a product. That's an interesting model and I like the way that they approach this. An example is the endless cycle of game patches that they have put out for TF2 on the PC. These aren't just bug fixes, they are game tweaks based directly on feedback from the customer. Players can look forward to continually improving gameplay (most of the time) as well as new content when purchasing a game like that. The recently released set of Medic achievements and unlockable weapons is another example. This makes it possible for the game to continue holding player interest long after they would have abandoned a standard FPS.

I'm excited for the new Pyro achievements and unlockable weapons that are due out soon. The class needed a bit of powering up, as the Pryo often dies a sad and lamentable death due to the fact that he doesn't have as much upside as some of the other classes. The one thing that I was worried about was having another round of silly achievements put out there that derailed gameplay. When they released the Medic achievements, some were reasonable (i.e. "accumulate a certain number of healing points", "Kill assist a teammate in killing xxx number of people"), but others were ridiculous and made people play in a selfish, rather than team-oriented, fashion (i.e. "Uber a Heavy who then punches 2 people"). However, this quote shows me they've learned from their mistake with the Medic achievements and hopefully will release better Pyro achievements:
Walker said the lessons the company learned about achievement design, will be rolled into the next pack, for the Pyro. "In particular," he noted, "one of the interesting things we learned is that the degree to which an achievement is earnable through general play versus specifically trying to earn an achievement is a key component to how likely customers are to game it versus earn it legitimately. This exposes how we can learn specifically from our customers from having a conversation with them about game design."
Outstanding. I'm looking forward to causing flaming havok soon.

In other news, they've got some great strategy articles up for TF2 over at GameReplays.com
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Webb's Assets Put To Good Use
Thursday, June 05, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Regular readers are by now familiar with my almost unholy love for the Democratic Senator from Virginia, Jim Webb. I've spoken about why I ultimately feel that Webb needs to stay right where he is right now, instead of becoming Obama's VP. That seat is too important and he's been too good in it so far for the party to lose that seat and voice.

However, I still think Webb can help Obama in other roles besides VP - namely as a very public surrogate for Obama's talking points. The Huffington Post has a great interview with Jim Webb up right now. He does a great job framing why McCain's recent attacks on Obama are groundless, and demonstrates his own understanding of history and politics.

A few money quotes:

"John McCain's comment about Barack not having sat down recently with General Petreaus means nothing," Webb said. "If you know who to listen to, if you know how to make judgments, if you know how evaluate information, you can do that. I don't think Franklin Roosevelt was ever at the front in France during WWII in order to help end the war."

On the other major foreign policy debate of the day -- whether or not a president should talk to hostile foreign leaders -- Webb again offered up a historical defense.

"Under the right circumstances, you have to [talk to your enemies]," he said. "My model for Iran is China in 1971. China was a nuclear power, it was a rogue state, it had American war on its border with Vietnam, it was spouting the same kind of hostile rhetoric. We took none of our military options off the table, we abandoned none of our alliances, but we reached out in a aggressive way diplomatically to bring China into the world community."

This is powerful commentary from a man with an impressive background (one that should appeal greatly to those voters in demographics that Obama has had difficulty courting) - former military man, son serving in Iraq as a Marine right now, etc.
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Century mark surpassed!
Thursday, June 05, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I just realized that yesterday's post was #100 for me. I'm excited, because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to keep up with a blog and posting on a regular basis. But I'm pleased to report that I've been pretty steady the last few months, trying to post at least 4-5 times a week.

This morning's post is just to do a little self-congratulations (check) and to link to this great op-ed from the Huffington Post from Hilary Rosen, a self-professed Hillary Clinton supporter. Ms. Rosen makes a powerful statement about why Hillary blew her chance to be graceful on Tuesday night, and why that's so disappointing. A key quote:
She had an opportunity to soar and unite. She had a chance to surprise her party and the nation after the day-long denials about expecting any concession and send Obama off on the campaign trail of the general election with the best possible platform. I wrote before how she had a chance for her "Al Gore moment." And if she had done so, the whole country ALL would be talking today about how great she is and give her her due.

Instead she left her supporters empty, Obama's angry, and party leaders trashing her. She said she was stepping back to think about her options. She is waiting to figure out how she would "use" her 18 million voters.

But not my vote. I will enthusiastically support Barack Obama's campaign. Because I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat.

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Yes He Can!
Wednesday, June 04, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Congratulations to Senator Barack Obama who clinched the Democratic nomination for President last night. Now, on to the general election. Huzzah!

I've been holding off for awhile now on donating, because I didn't want my dollars going into a fund to defeat another Democrat. But now that the contest is essentially over (shame on Hillary Clinton for not conceding gracefully, even though she's been given every chance), I am ready to start sending money Obama's way. If you support Obama's message at all, please consider getting involved in the campaign at http://my.barackobama.com or by at least donating $20 to the effort.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the McCain prebuttal speech that's been making the rounds. Apparently it's so bad, it's already a bit of a legend among political wonks.
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Sip, Don't Guzzle
Tuesday, June 03, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
GM to close truck and SUV plants. They're also looking at selling off the Hummer brand. This is the inevitable response to the current gas price crisis. While it's bad for the folks at the 2 American plants, the fact is, GM needed to get with the program and change their business model to reflect consumer preferences. We don't miss the Model T and I sure as hell won't miss the Hummer either.

I will be paying off my car this August. Hooray! We're still a one-car house, though, and while I absolutely freaking love my Subaru Impreza, it gets merely adequate gas mileage (21 mpg in city, 27 mpg on highway). I'm considering purchasing a hybrid this winter. I've long desired one, and now they've been around long enough that I feel comfortable that most of the major kinks have been worked out with the technology. I'm waiting to see what the new 2009 models will be offering, and then I'll make my choice. I envision using the hybrid for my daily commute (I drive a lot for work), and using the Subaru for trips that require the extra trunk space (camping, etc).
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