Rich Lowry’s Idiocy

On NPR, Rich Lowry gave one of the dumbest defenses of McCain ever. It’s not even a defense of McCain. It’s allegedly why McCain might win the election after all, but there’s nothing in there to support it. It tells us what a great guy he is, it tells us how unfair the media coverage has been, it tells he’s been through worse, but not one word about why he might win.

Well, fine, I’m used to that. But surely the editor of the National Review can spot this doozy in his own piece?

In our imaginations, we always yearn for political candidates who demonstrate bravery and independence, who put conscience above expediency and don’t take partisan marching orders. Among current national figures, John McCain — for all his flaws — might be the closet approximation to this ideal.

Not bad, a very reasonable point.

Sure, his campaign has been negative, but how else is he supposed to beat a vastly better-funded candidate in a hostile media environment when his party’s image is in the pits?

Conscience above expediency, eh? That’s exactly what conscience would be, avoiding an incredibly sleazy campaign because it’s the right thing to do. Poor McCain. He wants to run an honorable campaign, but Obama is making him be a dirtbag! Oh, how horrible it must be to be John McCain, suffering day and night over your decision to run this election through every mudhole your team of Rove proteges can find! Cry me a river.

2008 World Series of Poker

Last years post was so popular, time to get some WSOP commentary going. Sadly, I don’t have much interesting to say yet.

* I’ve been rooting for Phil Helmuth. I want to see a pro win, I want to see someone interesting win. I guess it’s not to be. My next favorite is Mike Matusow. What on earth happened to him, that weight loss put a new brain in his head or something.

* Guess who sponsors the Planters Good Instinct Moment? Go ahead, try. I’ll give you a hint. It says “Planters” on the screen, there’s a picture of a giant gentleman peanut, and the announcer is saying the word “Planters”. If you guessed Planters, you were right. This is a direct quote: “This Planters Good Instinct Moment is brought to you by Planters! Planters – Instinctively good.

* That Russian string bet was ridiculous. It couldn’t have been more illegal. That tournament director should be crying in his beer right now.

* Helmuth was clearly a jackass in last weeks episode. They said that he was penalized 9 hands, appealed it, and the penalty was overturned. So he gets no penalty at all? What is the point of having these rules if no one ever has to play by them?

Obama’s Negative Ads

I was beaten to the punch by my commenter, I was going to post almost the exact same thing.

His comment about Obama spending more on negative ads than anyone in presidential race history is probably accurate, and yet 2-to-1 people think that McCain is running a more negative race. Why – probably because Obama is also doing more positive ads than anyone in presidential history too, while McCain doesn’t have the cash for the ads to actually improve his reputation.

There’s a lot of detail about their advertising spend and how it breaks out here. A nice graphic is here.

As a percentage, McCain is running much more negative. And most of that negative is what’s called “character-based”. His top three ads (1) call Obama dishonorable and lie about a quote, (2) talk about William Ayers and blind ambition, and (3) paint Obama as a compulsive tax-cutter. Two out of three are “character-based”. In contrast, Obama’s are all about McCain’s policies, none of them are “character-based”.

Obama is spending about four times as much as McCain on advertising. Obama has announced even more record donations, so the margin is growing ever bigger. Of that, 41% is negative. So he sets a record. McCain is much more negative. If he had the money, he would set a record. But he doesn’t, so he complains about it. Another weak talking point that falls apart.

The Election: It’s Over

It’s really been over for over a month. But this just put the final nail in the coffin.

WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama on Sunday captured a forceful endorsement from former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and announced he had shattered campaign finance records in September, gaining an immense financial edge that will allow him to overwhelm Senator John McCain’s efforts in every corner of the country.

Fiscals and Financials of the Economy

This post from Ezra Klein (sourcing the CBO) lays out another interesting relationship between our fiscal and financial woes.

We have a fighting shot at avoiding a large crisis by the various interventions we’re doing now. All these interventions cost money. The money is not money we have, it’s borrowed. It’s borrowed in the form of bonds that are sold to whoever will buy them. Right now, there are still plenty of buyers. But as our fiscal problems continue to get worse, we will have to offer more money (in the form of interest) to keep finding buyers.

The core driver of our fiscal problem is spending more than we got. The area where this is getting the worst and biggest the fastest is health care. In other words, fixing the health care systems is not just a medical and social issue, it is an economic one.

Links o’ Interest

The customer is not always right (truly hilarious stuff. Go to the top quotes and start reading).

Guaranteed workmans comp

World Sunlight Map

A great update on a great experiment about the beginnings of life.

Roger Ebert’s review of “W”

The Morality Test. Well worth taking, find out more about yourself and others.

Metallica vs. AC/DC

Religion

Loser says what?

More on Joe the Plumber. Who isn’t Joe, isn’t a licensed plumber, doesn’t plan to buy the business, doesn’t pay taxes, etc.

Photo guidelines for the economic crisis

Interactive map of the US, where’s the economic troubles?

John Cleese on Sarah Palin

Tips for new paupers: First hand Poverty research

Dissent

Warren Buffet: Buy stocks now

Another Weight-loss plan

The other day at work I had a four-hour meeting. Two hours in I looked down and realized my leg was pumping. I am a fidgeter. Always have been, always will be. My leg had been pumping the entire time. Did you ever wonder how many calories are burnt by fidgeting?

It turns out a good fidgeter burns an extra 350 calories a day. That’s not bad — 10 days of that is worth a pound of fat. My inner fidgeter is going to get out more.

(The post title refers to my other post, with another dose of dangerously illiterate medical theorizing.)

Poker Update

I had five hours sleep last night. I gave blood in the morning. I went to play poker. I stunk.

Early on, I limp in with J-9 suited. The flop is J-x-x, turn is nothing either. We raise each other a couple times until he puts me in. I suspect he has J-A. He probably has J-A. What the heck, I’m calling. He had J-A. I bought in again.

Still early, I get A-A. I raise preflop and get three callers. The flop is J-J-x. Player one bets out. Did my Aces hold up? What are the odds that one of them has a Jack? Pretty good. Nevertheless, I stay in and lose a lot of money to the set of Jacks. Very poor discipline.

I stayed low stack for the rest of the night. I won just enough pots to stay alive. Other people knocked each other out. Somehow I found myself in the final three. I was waking up and playing more aggressively. I knocked out the short stack. Down to headsup! The very first hand, I called a 4-4 all-in bet with K-J suited. Didn’t make it. I was now down 28K to 2K in chips, with blinds at 2K and 4K. The next two hands were dealt up since I had to go all-in in the dark. I won them both. I made it back up to 12K. I called an all-in with the best hand, but he caught the flush and knocked me out. I was very happy with second place.

Some other hands were interesting, but I’m too tired to remember any of them.

Tonight: $32
Running Total: $570

Morning after update: I remembered my favorite hand of the night. I was in the big blind. Everyone folded except the small blind who limped in. I checked the option without looking at my cards. The flop was A-4-3, the 4-3 was suited diamonds. The small blind bet big. I figured he had A-x or a set. I looked at my cards and found a nice pair of aces underneath. Now I had trip aces. The only likely hands that could beat me were 2-5 and a flush draw. I was sure he didn’t have 2-5, he would have folded the blind to me. I didn’t think he had a flush draw, he would likely check with that. I figured him for a set of 3s or 4s. As it turned out, he had the set of 4s and I took most of his money with the better set. Fun!

Later I tried the same thing. I was short-stacked in the big blind and checked my option without looking. I needed to look on the turn and by then I had to fold. It’s interesting to not look at your cards. If your opponent doesn’t have premium cards, they don’t know how to play you. And because you make your betting decision after seeing the flop, if you make a big bet, they have to figure you for a much wider range of hands. They can’t assume away the terrible starting hands that got lucky.