Monday, 5 April 2004

MidSouthCon 22

It’s taken a week for me to get around to posting about it, after a lightning strike fried a modem, a hub, and a network card, leaving chez Sides with only one fully functional computer, but last weekend I attended MidSouthCon 22 here in Memphis.

Unlike previous years, when I spent most of my time playing D&D, this year I spent most of my time playing and running board games: Settlers of Catan, Princes of Florence, Ra, Pirate’s Cove, and New England.

I ran a game of Settlers of Catan that Mark from the Conservative Zone played in.

I also extended my collection of dragon art with a print of Cherry Blossom by Maia Sanders, part of her “Dragon Garden” series. I wish I’d picked up a print of Black Pine as well. They would make a nice pair.

Wonderfalls cancelled

Wonderfalls, a new show on Fox which I blogged about here, has been cancelled after only four episodes.

Fox really didn’t give this one a chance.

Yeay, it works!

I won’t spoil the whole Midwest paper for you, but here’s the pretty path diagram of the LISREL model. Guess the coefficients and standard errors—it’s fun for the whole family!

Actually, the most amazing thing about the paper is that the model works, despite the suboptimal polling data it’s based on—almost all of the manifest variables are dichotomous or trichotomous.


Back in September, I put a note on my philosophy papers page to potential plagiarists and their professors:

Hey, philosophy professors. If you've come to this page because you've found that a student has plagiarized one of the papers below, drop me a note, philarete at mindspring dot com. I'm curious as to how widely these papers are being plagiarized.

Hey, philosophy students. Don’t plagiarize these papers. For that matter, don’t plagiarize at all. It’s better to fail honestly than to cheat and get an A. Besides, you’ll probably get caught.

Today I received my first email from a philosophy professor confirming that a student has been caught plagiarizing my work. A undergrad at a California university plagiarized two of my papers, one on Bernard Williams on personal identity, and a shorter piece on the Lockean theory of personal identity.

I’m pleased that the professor told me that the student would have received an A, had he or she not been caught.

Two lost posts

I’ve managed to kill two posts in the middle of writing them today (one of which was no-thanks to Windows XP SP 2 deciding to pop up a dialog right before I pressed Enter). I think that’s a sign that I need to take a break…

Coming tomorrow: the semi-legendary Midwest paper (once I figure out why my sem specification isn’t working—I think I know why now, but I had to think about it all afternoon), a semi-review of the Windows XP Service Pack 2 beta, and probably more rants and ravings on the state of the nation and the world as I work off nervous energy prior to the two phone interviews I have scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Non-endorsement of the day

I think this bug report contains the most glaringly obvious statement in the history of software:

I’ve been trying out reportbug, and it’s not perfect. [emphasis added]

Not that I recall ever claiming that reportbug was perfect, mind you, but still…

Coup plotters

Via Electric Venom and InstaPundit, it looks like things are taking a bit of an ugly turn in Baghdad today.

Update: Wretchard at Belmont Club has some worthwhile thoughts on the matter.



Everyone’s favorite ex-Klansman, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), is back in the news, on the occasion of casting his 17,000th vote in the United States Senate (rumors that the vote was the one completing the wholesale transfer of the federal government to West Virginia are greatly exaggerated).

As when Trent Lott got a bit effusive in praising the longeivity of Strom Thurmond, though, this has become an event where a number of Senators decided “to heck with nuance,” and got a bit too enthusiastic about all of Sen. Byrd’s life.

One such quote is from Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Ct.). Unfortunately, there’s a bit of controversy regarding the provenance of the quote. So, to set the record straight, here is the complete text of Sen. Dodd’s remarks, from Thursday’s edition of the Congressional Record:

Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I add my voice as well to my seatmate, if I may. I sit in this chair by choice. Senator Byrd sits in his chair by choice as well, but he makes the choice before I do. I wanted to find out where he was going to sit so I could sit next to him. I did that because I wanted to sit next to the best, to learn everything I possibly could about the ability of this institution to provide the kind of leadership I think the country expects of us.

Several thoughts come to mind. This is a day of obvious significance in the number of votes that have been cast, 17,000, but it is far more important to talk about quality than quantity. Quantity is not an insignificant achievement, but the quality of my colleague and friend’s service is what I think about when the name ROBERT C. BYRD comes to my mind.

I carry with me every single day, 7 days a week, a rather threadbare copy of the United States Constitution given to me many years ago—I can’t even read it well now; it is so worn out—I may need a new copy—given to me by my seatmate, ROBERT C. BYRD. I revere it. I tell people why I carry it because it reminds me of the incredible gift given to me by the people of Connecticut to serve in this Chamber, to remind me of the importance of an oath we all made, and that is to do everything we can to preserve, protect, and defend the principles upon which this Nation was founded. ROBERT C. BYRD, in my mind, is the embodiment of that goal.

It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great Senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. ROBERT C. BYRD, in my view, would have been right at any time. He would have been right at the founding of this country. He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this Nation. He would have been right at the great moments of international threat we faced in the 20th century. I cannot think of a single moment in this Nation’s 220-plus year history where he would not have been a valuable asset to this country. Certainly today that is not any less true.

I join my colleagues in thanking the Senator from West Virginia for the privilege of serving with him. He has now had to endure two members of my family as colleagues. Senator Byrd was elected to the Senate in 1958 along with my father. He served with my father in the House. I have now had the privilege of serving with Senator Byrd for 24 years, twice the length of service of my father. That is an awful lot of time to put up with members of the Dodd family. We thank Senator Byrd for his endurance through all of that time.

There is no one I admire more, there is no one to whom I listen more closely and carefully when he speaks on any subject matter. I echo the comments of my colleague from Massachusetts. If I had to pick out any particular point of service for which I admire the Senator most, it is his unyielding defense of the Constitution. All matters come and go. We cast votes on such a variety of issues, but Senator Byrd’s determination to defend and protect this document which serves as our rudder as we sail through the most difficult of waters is something that I admire beyond all else.

I join in this moment in saying: Thank you for your service, thank you for your friendship, and I look forward to many more years of sitting next to you on the floor of the Senate.

I yield the floor.

In any event, you can find potentially embarassing quotes from about half the Senate in the series of effusive comments about Sen. Byrd.