Imagine if you knew you were going to have a party for the 2012 presidential elections here in the United States. If you started planning for that party today, then by the time the election actually rolled around, you would be hosting the most badass party in the history of time. You would have all sorts of booze and drugs and party favors. Every person you know would have their schedule cleared for the party, and you would have a full three years of building anticipation behind it. And no matter what the result of the election was, you could be sure of one thing – your party would be totally out of control.

Well, that’s exactly what Kenyans, who don’t have another presidential election until 2012, are doing right now, except instead of planning a party, they are planning a riot. And no matter what happens politically, we can be sure of one thing – with months of planning, resource gathering and anticipation to go, Kenya is T-minus three years away from the Most Batshit Insane Riot Ever.

An interesting poll you can check out here on TPM shows that the biggest Democratic health care proposals is not what is in them, but an ongoing campaign of disinformation against them.

So this is the point where I’m supposed to rail against the big, bad Republicans for being lying liars and and using scare tactics and political bogeymen and bullying and shouting down opposition. But here’s the thing: of course they did! This is American politics – no holds are barred, and every ludicrous lie you can make up is fair game if people will buy into it. And when you’re dealing with a system in which 39% of people in one poll think the government needs to stay out of MEDICARE, it is not, in point of fact, all that difficult to fool some of the people all of the time.

If health care reform goes down in flames because Dems and progressives were unprepared or unwilling to push back against it, then frankly, we’ve got no one to blame for that but ourselves. If your opponent is making something into a shouting match, and you keep talking softly, then yeah, you might be the more mature person and have the better points – but if no one hears what you’re saying, then you have lost that argument in a public sphere. Passing any sort of meaningful health care reform at this point – even if a bi-partisan bill is as dead as disco, which seems to be the sentiment coming from the white house today – is going to be a fight. And the left can either gear up to win it, or keep playing Mr. Nice Guy and end up swallowing their teeth.

Is that a pleasant notion? No. But it’s the reality of the situation, and progressives better get used to the idea that they can’t stay out of the muck forever if that’s the only place that anti-reform advocates are willing to fight.

Oh, Barney Frank, you make my heart sing. And I’m comfortable enough with who I am to admit that I get more than a little hot when you say things like “It is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated.”

Now that Frank has stood up to these jackasses without the sky falling, hopefully more Democrats will develop the fairly minimal balls it should take to say that the stupid bigots coming out to these town halls are just that – stupid bigots, whose opinions are not worthy of our attention.

Attention, anyone was wondering how the final battle between humans and zombies will end up! Canada has done the math for you!

And I’m afraid the news is bad: We do not fare well.

According to Dr. Robert Smith? (no, that’s not a typo – he spells his name with an interrogative, in order to avoid being confused with the lead singer of The Cure, who is, as we all know, also concerned with mathematics and zombies) of the University of Ottawa have created a statistical model of what a zombie plague would look like, positing that after an outbreak has begun, infection will progress through the population at a fantastic rate. Teeming hordes of undead could overwhelm a major metropolitan area in just a matter of days.

Smith and his colleagues used the classic Romeran “shuffling zombie” as the example for their case study, which paints a bleak picture of human survival. They do,however, make the point that the best chance we would have for survival against a plague of zombies is to “hit them hard and hit them often.” In other words, the zombie apocalypse is not a time to try and cure beloved relatives of their unseemly condition or acquire a specimen for scientific study. As any right thinking person with a zombie contingency plan knows, the best thing you can do for a zombie is to release them from their hideous unlife by crushing their skull like an overripe melon. With the publication of this report, we have all officially been warned. Memo to people who live without a heavy, blunt instrument at hand – you are on your goddamn own.

Kudos to Dr. Smith? and his colleagues for their important research into this oft-ignored field, and kudos as well to the BBC for the single greatest news quote of 2009 so far:

“According to the researchers, the key difference between the zombies and the spread of real infections is that “zombies can come back to life.”

Which is, of course, a pretty big difference.

Hats off to Professor Masatoshi Ishikawa of the University of Tokyo, who has turned his scientific prowess in the field of robotics toward a subject  we can all get behind – creating the next generation of android athletes, superior to their human counterparts in every way, except for their inability to feel love.

Ishikawa’s laboratory is now home field for a robotic pitching arm that can throw strikes 9 times out of 10 and and a batting arm that can never swings at anything outside of the strike zone, and bats almost 1.000 on pitches inside the zone. Of course, that’s a tainted sample size at best, as right now it’s only swinging at 25 mph lobs across the plate.

But Ishikawa hopes that future iterations of the technology will be able to throw curves and sliders at upwards of 90 mph, hit with power to all fields and spout situationally appropriate baseball cliches. Which is great, but it’s still a couple generations of technology and a laser gun arm away from the ultimate sport – baseball played by fighting robots. Fighting robots that we can also train as gangs of ninja crime fighters.

Still, it’s a step in the right direction, and that’s nothing to scoff at.

I have it on good authority that scuba diving is a relaxing, often beautiful pastime. And since I’ve heard this from multiple people who I have no reason to disbelieve, I choose to take them at their word.

But frankly, I have a hard time believing that any activity in where one encounters the possibility of being attacked by cephalopods the size of a large dog can be called altogether soothing. The recent spate of attacks on divers by swarms of enormous Humboldt squid of the coast of California are, thus, forcing me to question the trust I put in certain friends and loved ones

Humboldt squid are creatures pretty much staright out of a nightmare – they can grow to become 5 feet in length and weigh in at as much as a hundred pounds. Carnivorous and often cannibalistic, the creatures are  strong enough to drag divers and fishermen out of boats or into deep water, using their tentacles  – which are lined with suckers and sharp teeth – to drag prey towards their beaks. Also known as jumbo squid or red devils for their coloration, size and generally unpleasant temperament, the squid usually live in deeper waters off the coast of Mexico.

But whether it’s ocean acidity levels, climate change or a drop in the numbers of their natural predators, the squid are venturing out of their traditional environs, venturing up and and down the west coast of North America and being found as far north as Alaska. The change in range has been accompanied by a mass migration of the enormous squid to the shallow waters off of San Diego, where some divers are avoiding the water out of the perfectly natural fear of being attacked by something that is rather large and has many arms, all of which are lined with teeth.

Video after the break.


The friendly fellas over at The Speed Gamers are 30 hours into their most epic charity event so far – a full seven day marathon of Final Fantasy, featuring live streamed marathon sessions of Final Fantasy 1 – 12.

These guys will be up all hours slaying monsters, summoning deities and saving the world more times than is reasonable to ask of them, and all they’re asking of you is to pitch a couple dollars towards autism research while you watch their minds slowly shatter under the stress of sleep deprivation and HP grinding.

You only have to watch for a little while to know that this is turn based roleplaying at it’s highest level – it’s like the All Star game of dorky pastimes. Except, you know, worth watching. Anyhow, I urge you to check it out and toss a couple bucks and a kind word their way. Cause sure, there are more soul crushing ways to raise money for a good cause by playing video games, but there certainly aren’t many.

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