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Monthly Archive for January, 2008

inner mind

where does it go from how crazy is that
should it go crazy
off into the eon dance
should it go sane

what is hunter thompson’s message
what was his freedom

sponsored by Do Not Click dot Org

poker teaches

off to new york city for colbert with fern and andrew and gang along


Q from mookie99: Charles Nesson, a Harvard Law school prof has started advocating the use of poker as a way to teach strategic thinking. He has proposed that the current presidential candidates play a tourney with WPT-style hole card cams (I saw him propose this while being interviewed on the Colbert report, but he seemed totally serious about it).


If Romney, McCain, Guliani, Obama, Clinton and Edwards sat down for a six-handed shootout, who would win?

# California Jen Says:
January 29th, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Colbert is hilarious.

Presidential candidates playing poker would be priceless.

Republicans: Huckabee would be the Jerry Yang of it all, praying to God for help. Romney may invoke a little Mormon religion of his own and use his breaks to comb his hair. McCain would be the slowest player; the others would have to call the clock on him every time. And Giuliani would fold his way out of the race. Ron Paul would win for the Republicans and have a large cheering section to celebrate with.

Democrats: Clinton would have to consult with her husband on every hand. Edwards would play too tight and be blinded off while staying out of the way of Clinton-Obama showdowns. Obama would play a tight-aggressive game, and with his previous poker experience, would be the favorite to win.

(Yes, I’m avoiding other work by doing this sad analysis.)

ken stalter writes:

What is a mask? The word refers in its narrowest sense to an artificial face. The mask emphasizes some features of the wearer’s face and obscures others. Understood more broadly, the word “mask” refers to anything that performs the same function but is no longer limited to a physical objection placed literally on the face. A mask is any device that one uses to present oneself to the world in a chosen fashion. Masks can be means of expression and deception.

A mask, by definition, cannot work a complete transformation on its wearer. It can only refigure what already exists. The power of a mask is derived from the ways in which it harmonizes the wearer’s inherent attributes, heightening some and suppressing others. The mask has the power to both purify and corrode—a fact that was well demonstrated by the cases analyzed in our class.

Our class’s departure is the virtual world known as Second Life. It should not strain the imagination to realize that Second Life avatars are masks.

Second Life is a masquerade. People from all over the globe create artificial identities for the purposes of interacting with others who have also done so. The anonymity and the ability to connect with people who are geographically distant allows Second Life users to do things that they can not or dare not do in the physical world.

Second Life avatars may look like ordinary people but most do not. The humanoid avatars tend to have the physiques of Olympian gods and be dressed in uber-stylish club wear. Other avatars may look like robots, animals, angels, demons, or aliens. The number of avatars that resemble their users must be negligible. The fantasy look gives users the freedom to behave in new ways. Perhaps more importantly for the purposes of our class, the avatar gives the users the power to be treated differently. By adopting the image of the opposite gender (or no gender), or of a different race, we experience in a limited fashion what it might be like to exist in the real world as that race or gender. We can experience how such people are treated. This is one power of the mask—to show us what it is like to be someone else.

The inevitable question is, what if that someone else were far superior to our ordinary selves? One of our early class sessions engaged the meaning of superheroes. Superheroes, super-villains, and other super-humans have a deep association with masks. Whether or not the super-humans’ particular mythology draws a direct connection with the mask and the super-power, the mask often functions as the source of power. When masked, the superhuman can exercise his or her extraordinary talents. Without the mask, the superhuman is restrained. Super-humans also show the purifying power of the mask. When the mask is donned, the complexities of ordinary humanity are washed away and only an archetype remains. Masks give people the means to crystallize aspects of their personalities and present the crystal archetype as the whole. The superhero is made good by his mask and the super-villain made evil. They are both able to hide their weaknesses and complexities.

The power of the mask to reduce or reconstruct complex human affairs is why attorneys must in a sense become superheroes. When the advocate puts a face forward on behalf of a client or cause, he must suppress his own doubts and the weaknesses of his own case. His cause must become an archetype. The attorney must craft and secure his mask even as he struggles to unmask his adversary. In the superhero film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne realizes that he must become an idea in order to become invulnerable because a mere human can silenced and oppressed. A true advocate is also an idea, a principle.

One of the most powerful masks in the legal world is prestige and it is fitting that Harvard Law School was often a topic of conversation in the class. The school relates to masks in at least two ways. First, the training received at this school is often practice in masking. Second, the school itself is a mask.

The legal training of law school is, in the terminology of theater, a form of mask-work. The honed ability to deftly switch sides in an argument is changing masks. Good argumentation is masking because ambiguities and complexities inherent in the tangled web of the formal law must be purified into workable ideal principles. This process is nothing other than the donning of an intellectual mask. Just as the superhero’s mask yields a personality archetype, legal argumentation brings forth the mask of principle.

Beyond providing training in a type of professional masking, Harvard Law School itself is a mask. The name carries such prestige that it has the power to overshadow to a large extent the actual attributes of the individual invoking the name. This process can be external, working in the minds of the public. But it can also be internal, giving those who are entitled to don the mask a source of confidence or perhaps of doubt, if they fear they will not live up to the mask they are wearing and will expose themselves.

The prestige of the Harvard Law School is a mask worn not just by the students. The professors of the school likely wield the power of that mask even more effectively.

Professor Nesson’s nascent movement on behalf of poker, another frequent topic of the course, is an excellent study in the power of masks. As I understand it, there are at least four layers of masks at work in the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society.

Professor Nesson reveals to us that one of his primary motivations for launching the poker movement was to protect the open Internet. His theory is that if legitimized in the public perception, the online poker industry could become a powerful ally of Internet deregulation and freedom. So we already see that the poker movement, even if it can be justified on its own merits, was conceived of as a mask for the larger goal of digital freedom.

A second layer of mask is added when the education rhetoric is adopted to convince parents and teachers to embrace poker. Again, this move may be justified on its own merits, but it is nevertheless a mask because it is an attempt to tie a currently stigmatized activity with an important public good. Once an activity manages to wriggle into the “educational” mask, it will enjoy wide public support.

don’t click that

Don’t click here!‘s power lies in its simplicity. The project’s main argument is that actions taken on the web have real consequences. When I initially saw this argument, my first thought was, “well, duh.” Obviously what I do on the internet affects the real word – when I buy books on, they show up on my door (with SuperSaver™ savings!) 5-9 business days later, as promised; when I register for classes on the Harvard MyPlan website, I get stuck in the queue for forty minutes and them am booted from the interface, just as expected. But as I read deeper into I found that my opinions about the nature of the internet weren’t as objective and informed as I had imagined.

It is the implicit position of most internet users that actions taken on the internet have no consequences. The nature of the internet fosters a set of assumptions and attitudes that can make a user feel that he or she inhabits a space of complete anonymity and, as shows, this sense of (false!) anonymity can have expensive, even disastrous consequences.

What makes this argument so effective is that it presents an overt message that seems so intuitive as to be obvious, and then shows just how counterintuitive that message actually is.

Visitors to inhabit both sides of the argument by first presenting a position that almost anyone can agree with (clicking has consequences) and then showing how the person being argued to is, in fact, you, the internet user with all your assumptions about anonymity – a really nice, satisfying, and powerful maneuver.

Hillary plays gaming card against Obama

were the gambling issue to come to the surface of the presidential campaign it would test the vision, character and good sense of the candidates as no other issue. here is an opportunity to take a divided america and bring it together with civil discourse.

Sam Morris / Associated Press

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has embraced the gambling industry and its executives.

By Peter Wallsten and Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
January 18, 2008
LAS VEGAS — Barack Obama has warned about the dangers of gambling — that it carries a “moral and social cost” that could “devastate” poor communities. As a state senator in Illinois, he at times opposed plans to expand gambling, worrying that it could be especially harmful to low-income people.

Today, those views are posing a problem for Obama in the gambling mecca of Nevada, which holds its presidential nominating caucuses Saturday. While his top rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, also talks often about aiding low-income Americans, she has embraced the gambling industry and its executives, and her campaign has used Obama’s past statements in an effort to turn casino workers and other Nevada voters against him.

he [or she] who controls the space controls the universe

the spice must flow
these the words from a techno album by eon
music in my ears from long ago
the spice must flow

read flatland
watch the movie
watch reimann’s spere bounce up and down and roll around descarte’s plane
one a projection of other from another dimension observed from yet a fourth

vidence in context projects meaning to the mind and heart observing which shines through in character to intelligence in yet another dimension

john bracken doubles down on obama


omar and obama



*** SHOW DOWN ***

jidong shows [9d 3h] a straight, Six high
wormzy mucks
jidong wins the pot (8,722) with a straight, Six high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 8,722 | Rake 0
Board: [4c 2c 5d 6d 6s]
Seat 3: jidong (big blind) showed [9d 3h] and won (8,722) with a straight, Six high
Seat 8: wormzy (small blind) mucked [Jc 6c] – three of a kind, Sixes

so ends the first online tournament played with my class

i am eager to meet jidong and wormzy
looking forward now to walking to class
passion to publish in realtime to feel recursion
of vibe coming back

motion for declaratory judgment in the courts of public opinion

we meet to prepare our witness

using the opportunity to raise your question as a way of putting your answer across
seeing legal process as an opportunity and not a bane as long as you are building audience for your argument as you go along

the idea is to produce ourselves
project our mode of discourse
use the tools and power at our command



we want to be in the game with him
he is an avatar for people of color everywhere
he knows how to play the game

obama loves playing poker

obama’s poker face comes into play

gambling buddies: obama flush with poker prowess

obama’s poker skills highlighted

clues about obama found in his poker game