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      In game development there is a distinction between toys and games.   A ball is a toy. Soccer is game.  You can do many things with a ball, which are fun, which are not games. It is when you add rules and the ability to win or lose, that a toy becomes a game. Really life [...]
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Lazy Saturday News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!! I don’t know what’s wrong with me this morning–I just can’t seem to get myself going. I don’t know if it’s all the bad news or just a hangover from my long trip home. Anyway, I’m going to throw out a grab bag of news stories and hope you can help me out with some more. Here are the stories that caught my eye so far this morning.

From the New Scientist: 24-week fetuses cannot feel pain

Fetuses aged 24 weeks or less do not have the brain connections to feel pain, according to a working party report published this week by the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

Its conclusion is the latest to challenge the rationale for a law introduced in the US state of Nebraska in April. This law, which bans almost all abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, was introduced primarily on the grounds that the fetus feels pain.

The report, which reviews recent scientific literature on the subject, also concludes that the fetus is sedated throughout pregnancy by chemicals such as adenosine contained in the amniotic fluid that surrounds it.

This probably won’t convince the anti-science crowd though.

The NYT on the endless BP gusher: How Much Has Spilled, and How Far? Seeking Answers as Questions Mount This piece is in question and answer format and provides basic info on the current state of the emergency.

The Seattle Times on Tropical Storm Alex: Storm could be latest problem in spill cleanup

Forecasters can’t say yet if Alex – which blew into a tropical storm early Saturday – will hit the northeastern part of the Gulf, where the spill has spread over the past 10 weeks.

Somewhere between 69 million and 132 million gallons of crude have spewed into the water since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.

Most storm prediction models show it traveling over the Yucatan Peninsula over the weekend and into the southern Gulf by Monday. Where it goes next is the question.

CNN: Tropical storm plus oil slick equals more fear and uncertainty

The disaster thousands of feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico may be exacerbated by a different type of calamity in the coming week — a tropical storm — that could push the oil farther along Florida’s pristine Panhandle beaches.

Tropical Storm Alex — the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season — formed in the Caribbean on Saturday. Alex had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was about 250 miles away from Chetumal, Mexico. It was moving toward Belize and over the Yucatan Peninsula.

“The greatest nightmare with this storm approaching is that it takes this oil on the surface of the Gulf and blows it over the barrier islands into the bays and the estuaries,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, told CNN. “And that is where you really get the enormous destruction, because it’s just very difficult to clean up those pristine bays.”

Will that make it a National Emergency, President Obama? Will anything shake your inertia or will you continue to fight for your right to par-tay?

The Wall Street Journal: Judge In Moratorium Case Sold Exxon Stock This Week

The U.S. federal judge who struck down the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling sold stock in Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) on the same day he issued his ruling, according to documents released Friday.

Exxon Mobil was among the companies affected by the administration’s moratorium. It used a rig whose operations were suspended under the ban, according to Exxon spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman White.

The judge in the moratorium case, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman, says he only learned of his holdings in Exxon Mobil on Monday, the day before he issued his ruling.

Global Post: Troops wonder what McChrystal was thinking

Soldiers knew more than anyone else what damage had been done when news broke that their commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the U.S.-led international force’s 140,000 troops in Afghanistan, had criticized his commander in chief in an inflammatory Rolling Stone article.

They knew because they abide by the same rules McChrystal has to: the military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice. The code subjects an officer to a court martial if he uses any “contemptuous words against the President, Vice President, Congress,” and other civilian leaders in the U.S. government. Any one of the soldiers in Afghanistan would be removed from their positions, if not face a court martial, for a similar offense.

At No Quarter, Larry Johnson opines on the McChrystal firing: McChrystal versus Obama

Consider this–Barack Obama has taken more vacation days in the last 18 months than Stan McChrystal has taken in the last seven years. Why? Stan put his mission above all else, including family. This stat alone tells you the difference between the General and the manchild who inhabits the White House.

And why the hell do pundits and the media continue with the absurd meme trying to compare General McChrystal to General Douglas MacArthur. Mac actually challenged the authority of Harry Truman. McChrystal never did. Although he is reported commenting to his staff that Obama appeared intimidated by the roomful of Generals (and the boy from Hawaii was) at no time and in no way did McChrystal ever suggest or state that Obama was not legally entitled to be President. Never did he refuse to obey an order. And never did he suggest the policy he was implementing in Afghanistan was any other than that ordered by Obama.

McChrystal also is getting blamed for the Rules of Engagement, which have imposed strict conditions for shooting suspected insurgents in Afghanistan. Those rules did not originate with Stan McChrystal. Nope.

They were the result of demands from the Afghan leader, Karzai and Ambassador (retired General) Eikenberry. But it is McChrystal, charged with implementing the guidelines, who gets the blame.

Found at Truthdig:

Is the BP gusher really the worst ecological disaster in American history? Well, we really don’t know yet, but here are a couple of articles that debate the issue: From Reuters and The Seattle Times.

I have to say, I think this disaster could end up being on the scale of the 1930s Dust Bowl, forcing people to set out in search of jobs in other parts of the country. Since there are no jobs most places, lots of people could be in for really tough times. Grapes of Wrath, anyone?

So what are you reading this morning? If you can snap me out of my daze, I’ll be very grateful! Have a great weekend everyone!

What’s Going On Between Obama and the CIA?

President Obama speaking at CIA Headquarters

A kind of war of leaks appears to be going on between Obama administration and the CIA. I realize that it is nothing new for Presidents of the U.S. to have conflicts with the CIA–Presidents since Truman have struggled to control the intelligence apparatus he set in motion after World War II.

I’m certainly no expert on this kind of thing, and I’m hoping someone like Joseph Cannon will be able to explain it eventually. But for now, I thought I’d just post some of the things I’ve been reading in the hopes that together we can make some sense out of the situation. So here’s the deal.

First we had crotch bomber Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, who managed to get through multiple airline security systems and come close to detonating a bomb in his underwear on Delta Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day. For a full examination of what is know about the crotch bombing incident, you can’t beat the two excellent posts that Joseph Cannon has written so far. Scroll down for the earlier post on the many strange questions about case.

President Obama’s first response to the aborted bombing attempt came on December 31. Here is a portion of the statement from the White House web site:

I wanted to speak to the American people again today because some of this preliminary information that has surfaced in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns. It’s been widely reported that the father of the suspect in the Christmas incident warned U.S. officials in Africa about his son’s extremist views. It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect’s name on a no-fly list.

There appears [sic] to be other deficiencies as well. Even without this one report there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together. We’ve achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attacks. But it’s becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have.

Had this critical information been shared it could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. The warning signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America.

Obama then went on to praise the intelligence community and to say that he understood that even the best people weren’t infallible. This was apparently interpreted by members of the CIA as an attack by Obama on their competence. Continue reading

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