I haven't posted much about this election: I generally have better things to do. But something has been bugging me for a few weeks now, and this morning I finally had the time to sit down and look at the numbers. What I discovered was that Obama's primary victories are almost all in states the Democrats aren't going to win in November. It's all well and good that Obama trounced Clinton in North Carolina but there were almost exactly the same number of votes cast in the primary as were cast in favor of John Kerry in 2004, and the Democrats lost that state by 400k votes, a 13 point spread.
Same with South Carolina. Obama got 295k of the 532k votes cast, but the Democrats lost that state by 270k votes, a 17 point spread. Georgia too. Obama won 704k of the million votes cast--an electoral rout by any reasonable standard--but Kerry lost by 550k votes, a 16 point spread. Obama won Louisiana by almost 90k votes, a 22 point spread, but Kerry lost it by 280k votes, a 15 point spread.
Meanwhile, if you look at states that the Democrats are going to win in the fall, they line up pretty neatly in Clinton's camp. She took California, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey by comfortable margins. She also won the major swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and the importance of that can't be underestimated.
There are a few outliers, but those aren't all encouraging. Washington is definitely a feather in his cap, as that state will definitely vote for the Democrat in the fall. So will Illinois, but as that was Obama's home state, it's not surprising he won there.
Let's be realistic: people in reliably Red states--particularly in the South--aren't necessarily happier about the war, the economy, or massive federal fiscal irresponsibility than anyone else is (Congress has an even lower approval rating than the President), but they aren't going to vote for either Democratic candidate in the fall. Both Clinton and Obama, and particularly Obama, represent the far left wing of the Democratic party, and that dog won't hunt in Alabama. It may be closer than it was last time, but the electoral map is going to look a lot like what it did in 2004. Obama is winning Republican states and losing Democratic states in the primary. He isn't going to win Republican states in the fall. Clinton may well wind up being the better candidate.
Result? With Barack Obama the all-but-presumptive Democratic nominee (Slate gives Clinton a 0.5% shot today), the Democrats may well lose this fall. The damage to the party could be incalculable.
My thoughts on the new Prince Caspian cinematic adaptation are basically that I didn't like it much. My reasons for this can't be adequately explained without some pretty big spoilers, so if you haven't seen the film, do that before proceeding.
Caspian should have killed Miraz. Actually, no, that's not it. Peter should have killed him. It was a duel to the death, and he, not Miraz, broke the rules by giving his sword to Caspian. You don't challenge someone to a duel to the death unless you plan in either killing your opponent or being killed by him. Miraz's life was his to take: the rules of the challenge were agreed upon, and the loser was to pay with his life.
But if Peter was attempting to solidify Caspian's place as rightful King in Narnia, I can forgive handing the sword over to accomplish that. But having been given the sword, Caspian should have executed him on the spot. Why? Because failing to do so establishes a precedent that one may commit fratricide and regicide with impunity. Miraz's life was arguably Peter's to take, but it was Caspian's to take: justice is granted by the sovereign, and rightful King of Narnia, justice comes from Caspian's hand. Even if--hypothetically speaking--Caspian had turned Miraz over to a judge who convicted him, the judge is dispensing the King's justice, and the fiction would be that the executioner wields the King's sword. By refusing to kill his uncle, Caspian establishes that there is no justice in Narnia, and that her laws may be broken without fear of reprisal.
What of mercy? When mercy ignores sin, it is not just. How, then, are we forgiven? God's mercy is just because our sins are not simply ignored, they are paid for. God is just to forgive us our sins because the penalty those sins have incurred has been satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus. When Miraz killed Caspian IX, he incurred a debt which could only be satisfied by his execution. No one except Caspian X, as the sovereign in Narnia, could pay that debt, and the only way for Caspian to satisfy that debt would be for he to accept death himself. Clearly this is not a viable option.
As a bit of a digression, this is why I strongly believe in the death penalty. Though I have grave reservations about the process by which execution occurs in this country, not executing those criminals that deserve it is a grave injustice that cuts to the core of any system of law by refusing to acknowledge the seriousness of capital crimes. It essentially says that the law is without teeth, and will not punish sins as they deserve. Caspian refusing to execute Miraz reflects a growing sentiment in our culture--a sentiment already firmly established in Europe--that nothing people do is deserving of death. This sentiment is utterly incompatible with any faithful interpretation of Christianity. Lewis clearly understood that certain things can only be paid for by blood: it was part of the Deep Magic from before the dawn of time, after all, and imposing 21st-century squeamishness on his stories does him a disservice.
But back to the film, the filmmakers seem to have significantly departed from some of the most important aspects of Lewis's books. Even though I'm not as fanatical about the Narnia books as many are, I do have a tender place in my heart for them, and I was sorely disappointed at the degree to which Aslan was subject to deemphasis. Themes of faith and sight are pretty much absent, as are the related themes of doubt and belief. And though Eddie Izzard is a talented comic and voice actor, concepts of chivalry seem to be entirely lost upon him, which is too bad, considering he voices Reepicheep. Despite the fact that Aslan instructed Susan that her arrows were for defense only, here Susan is a wannabe valkyrie. Which may be why Caspian goes for her (?!?), but doesn't fit at all with her characterization in the books.
I do understand that Prince Caspian doesn't lend itself nearly as well to adaptation as earlier or later books, as much of the novel is wandering around in the woods listening to stories. But by changing the plot in the way they did, Aslan appearing at the end becomes, if you'll pardon the pun, a deus ex machina, as he seems entirely accidental to the characters and story.
Oh, and if the producers can afford to retain Weta Digital to do their VFX, there's no excuse for the river god looking as hokey as he did. Particularly as the waves are coming down the river, before the humanoid form coalesces, it looks really fake. I expected better, and there's no reason a movie with this kind of budget should have any thing less.
I give it a C-. It was reasonably entertaining at times, and though I usually don't object to movies simply if they "aren't as good as the book" (the best novels don't usually make good films anyways, though some pretty terrible books have made some amazingly good films) or alter plot points for cinematic reasons (yes, Caspian was blond in the book; no, I don't care), I do take issue when filmmakers change fundamental themes, or sacrifice good storytelling for action sequences. On balance, it's just not that good of a movie.
Apparently BioWare, producer of such genius games as
This is a fantastic idea. Reasons it will succeed:
- Though most people do have broadband, not everybody does.
- People on restricted networks, e.g. college campuses, will be unable to activate as the connection won't have been approved by IT.
- The inevitable keygen will inevitably bork real CD keys.
But the real reason this will fail is that it undermines one big reason people buy software instead of pirating it: it's more convenient. If using a legitimate product is a pain in the ass, people are just going to get the crack off of BitTorrent, and considering that crack will probably take about 12 hours to release. . .
If I do wind up getting a legit copy of this game for some reason, I'll definitely crack it, but the DRM means I probably won't.
Pity. I like BioWare games.
In research I've done for a Regulatory Innovation class this semester, I've come to the conclusion that most of the current net neutrality proposals would probably do more harm than good. That being said, I think that the rumor that Comcast is considering metered bandwidth couldn't come soon enough. It's time the ISPs stopped pretending they could deliver unlimited data when they weren't really willing to do it. Choosing ISPs will be easier when you've got a fixed download limit upon which to base a decision.
I use a lot of bandwidth, but even I would have to work pretty hard to hit 250GB in a month. That's 8GB a day. I might do that once a month. I can see myself averaging 500MB a day, possibly even 1GB, as things like YouTube continue to suck bandwidth. Even if my two roommates used as much bandwidth as I do--and they don't--that's still only 3GB a day, a mere 90-100GB per month. 250GB is plenty, today, and though I'm not going to be silly enough to suggest that this will be plenty forever, it should last long enough for more robust infrastructure to be deployed.