Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome, Gene Wolfe

Lesch Nyhan and "Gene Wolfe" yields nothing in google. See this excellent report by Richard Preston in The New Yorker for a description of the syndrome. People suffering from the genetic disease are compelled to hurt themselves - they eat food they hate, they say no when they want to say yes, they bite off their fingertips, they rip off their own faces.

When I was perhaps thirteen I read Wolfe's _The Shadow of the Torturer_. In it, a character is subjected to a device called the revolutionary, which is described as waking an enemy in the condemned. The effect is exactly that of Lesch-Nyhan. The subsequent events in the novel disturbed me enough that after I finished the book I never thought about it again until, in college, I accidentally read another work by Wolfe and was lead back to _The Book Of The New Sun_. Surely he was thinking of Lesch-Nyhan.

Side-note - in college some friends played a game in which they asked each other if they would rather have x or y happen, where x and y were horrible. Something like L-N was x or y once. I never understood the appeal of the game, though they each had some self-destructive tendencies. Sadly one of them later drank himself to death.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Best post title ever nominee


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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


As usual, click to get a larger version.


Hendrick Hertzberg now officially a hack

I was sad to see this remarkably mendacious and small-minded essay by Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker, but I've not been in the business of collecting the informed-only-by-groupthink attacks from liberals on HRC, and I figured that, ok, he's got a little problem, but after the nomination process he'll get back to being ok. But, no. Here's the great Digby on Hertzberg's praise of Chris Matthews.

This is the kind of post I've been not wanting to write, which is a big part of the reason I haven't been blogging much. The whole enterprise of public comment is just too depressing.

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Clinton, Obama, McCain

This interesting site runs simulations of the 2008 election based on recent polls (weighted by size and freshness). Currently Clinton wins 62% of trials vs McCain; Obama wins 53%. Basically the polls claim that HRC's old victory map trumps Obama's new map. November is far away, and I doubt McCain would do even this well against either, but the result is an even better argument for HRC than winning the popular vote in the primary according to metrics M, N, and O. And of course it's an argument in favor of the Unity Ticket BTD is (perhaps half-tauntingly) pushing on a more data-point-driven basis.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

and I'm remembering Andrew Olmsted. It feels like very long ago that he died, and it's not even half a year.

In the obligatory lilacs from seque, Mrs. R. and I are looking forward to the imminent arrival of a little brother to Rilkekind - we refer to him as π', aka the Prime, for uninteresting reasons. I had proposed "Andrew" as a first name, but Mrs. R. wanted a clean slate, a name without associations for us, and really I didn't know him nearly well enough anyway, and I never will.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Don't look back

- something might be gaining on you. [Satchel Paige]

Rilkebruder is reading a book called _The Name of the Wind_, so I checked out the back cover blurbs on amazon. Someone named Kevin J. Anderson writes, "Jordan and Goodkind must be looking nervously over their shoulders!" I see the book was published 27 March 2007. Robert Jordan died 16 Sept 2007; Goodkind died - wait, no, turns out I'm wrong, he didn't - his series just ended to "thank god it's over" reviews from loyal readers (Jordan's fans having been clamoring for an end for years - maybe a decade - now).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Another What Clinton Should Do Post

I think Obama's campaign's most effective tactics have been despicable, and HRC has a pretty good case that she'd be the better candidate in the fall given Ohio and Florida and all the ammunition Obama has handed McCain lately, but I take it that the party (though not the Democratic voters) will chose Obama. So what should Clinton do now?

BTD has a good post on the subject here - basically saying that it would be reasonable for her to continue her campaign but run against McCain. He also suggests Wes Clark as Obama's VP, which makes sense, because Clark would be a good Clinton proxy, a good attack dog, and would add geographic/cultural balance while providing unquestionable experience.

I was wondering what Clinton could buy with a promise to effectively suspend her campaign for the nomination as above, and it occurs to me that in that case Obama could freely drop his strategy of disenfranchising MI/FL. This (presumably tacit) quid pro quo would help both of them save face and would go a long way towards healing the wounds in the party.