Yes. Hands down. Let me tell you how they operate.
The only games I still make time to play are all from Strategy First. Europa Universalis III, Crusader Kings II, and Hearts of Iron III. I’ve been playing all of them since the original versions, and for lovers of history and seriously in-depth strategy games, there’s nothing better. (I left out Victoria II, because it’s a pale shadow of the original. It’s just no damn fun.)
So I noticed recently the Crusader Kings had new downloadable content — the ability to play as one of the Islamic nations of the Crusades era. Fun!
But the buying process is no damn fun at all. In fact, Gamers Gate made it impossible to give them money.
Instead of going to the website and just buying the damn whatever, you have to make your purchase from inside the game. OK, no biggie, I have my ATM card number memorized. Only, they don’t want your money. They want you go spend “blue coins,” which are for sale at the website.
Leave the game, go back to the website. I need to open an account, of course, so I go through those motions. Problem is, “VodkaPundit” is already taken — I must have started an account there before. I don’t remember my password, but Gamers Gate doesn’t know my email. They don’t even know my old email, so I have no way to recover my password. Fine. I made up a new user name.
I put blue coins in my shopping cart, then went to the checkout only to find there were no blue coins in my shopping cart. Why? Because as a Level 1 member, I’m not allowed to buy blue coins yet. Before I can buy them, I have to become a Level 2 member.
“How does one go about becoming a Level 2 member?” you might ask. I asked the same thing, but the site offers no help, no guide for earning the points you need to get them to allow you to give them money.
“You have got to be [BLOOP]ing kidding me,” you might say. I know that’s what I said.
So I clicked over to their tech support page, where I was presented with a login. I put in my new user name and password, and was informed they didn’t know who I was. Bear in mind, I’m logged in on the main page already. It shows me logged in. I’ve given them my billing address. I’m a (measly Level 1) member. And yet tech support won’t let me in.
The tech support page also has no link for becoming a member (of any level) of the tech support page.
However, I found it was still possible to start a HelpDesk ticket, which I did. I believe I wrote something like, “WHY WON’T YOU PEOPLE LET ME GIVE YOU ANY MONEY???” I also asked quite nicely what to do to become a Level 2 member, although I admitted I was no longer inclined to become a paying customer. But, should I change my mind again, it would be nice to know exactly which hoops I would be forced to jump through before being granted the privilege and high honor of giving some money to this moronic herd of Empty Pocket Beasts from planet Impending Chapter 11 in the Bailout Quadrant.
Within 48 hours, I did receive a nice email reply from someone pleasant fellow, I’d guess in Bangalore. He told me, yes, I would have to become a Level 2 member before Gamers Gate would deign to take my money, and that he was sorry for any inconvenience. What he didn’t tell me were any of the steps I might take — Sack cloth? Prostrating myself in the snow? — to be accorded his employer’s beneficence.
I tried to reply to my helpful tech support person, but was challenged once again by the Login Screen of Doom, which still didn’t recognize my Gamer’s Gate login, and which still gave me no means of registering directly.
Before writing this piece, I went back to Gamers Gate’s main page, mostly so I could see if the proper name of the company was “Gamer’s Gate” or “Gamers’ Gate” or “GamersGate” or “Imbecilic Imbeciles Inc.” There, I saw that I had 750 experience points, up from the 500 I had previously earned, presumably for signing up.
How did I get those 250 bonus points?
How many more do I need?
How do I get them?
Presumably, Gamers Gate is in business to take my money, and as a happy customer of Paradox games, I would love to give them money to buy extra content for those games.
But this is how they expect to get it?
No thanks. Gamers Gate is the worst legit (?) electronic merchant I’ve ever tried to do business with, and I won’t try any longer.
FireDogLake’s Jane Hamsher is getting crazy with the subpoenas:
Last August over 1250 people were arrested for protesting in front of the White House over the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, but the government only pursued charges against one person: Lt. Dan Choi. This Wednesday at 11am there will be a pre-trial hearing in DC Superior Court to determine whether Choi can offer a defense of selective prosecution by the government, and First Amendment protection for his right of free speech.
Former Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was served with a subpoena to testify at the hearing while on his way to a ball game over the weekend. Last week the Department of Justice accepted service for Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to the President.
I for one would love to see Gibbs take the stand and swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, mostly because I’ve always been a big fan of spontaneous human combustion.
Stories like this one are why I fell in love with the news:
State Rep. Mike Horner, a Republican from Kissimmee, has abruptly resigned his seat in the Florida House following reports linking his name to a prostitution investigation in Central Florida.
“I deeply regret decisions I made that are causing my family unjustifiable pain and embarrassment,” Horner said in a statement. “While current press accounts from this morning are erroneous, my family still deserves better from me, as do all my friends, supporters and constituents. So today I am announcing I will no longer seek reelection to the Florida House.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that Horner — Horner, Weiner, what is it with these guys? — wasn’t regretting anything at all while he was busy playing the Brothel Bouncy-Bouncy. And I really couldn’t care less what Horner does in his spare time. Better that he’s screwing the prostitutes than his constituents.
But here’s the thing. If you’re going to present yourself as a social conservative, the very least, the very-very least you should do is stay out of brothels. I’m not asking anyone to live a perfect life. I’m not even saying so much as “go forth and sin no more.”
I’m only saying that if you live in the public eye and think the law should regulate people’s sex lives, the turning “La Grange” up to 11 in your Camaro of Love is probably asking for trouble.
Harsh words then:
Negative campaigning in America was sired by two lifelong friends, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Back in 1776, the dynamic duo combined powers to help claim America’s independence, and they had nothing but love and respect for one another. But by 1800, party politics had so distanced the pair that, for the first and last time in U.S. history, a president found himself running against his vice president.
Things got ugly fast. Jefferson’s camp accused President Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”
On Sunday morning, BuzzFeed correspondent Michael Hastings emailed Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide and personal spokesman at the State Department, asking a series of pointed questions about State’s handling of the Benghazi fiasco, and Reines’ over-the-top attack on CNN. The exchange quickly got personal, with Reines calling Hastings an “unmitigated asshole” before an exchange of harsh words on both sides.
The exchange concluded with Reines writing that Hastings should “Fuck Off” and “Have a nice life.”
It’s not what you say — everybody gets angry and flies off the handle now and then. And tempers are sure to flare in an election year. But it is still how you say it, and I’m afraid by that measure we’re a nation in decline.
President Empty Chair is committing even more smart diplomacy, this time on 60 Minutes:
As the United Nations General Assembly gets underway and leaders from around the world begin to congregate in New York City, President Obama seemingly downgraded Israel’s traditional status as the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East. In a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday night, Obama simply called Israel “one of” America’s closest allies in the region.
Responding to a question about Israel’s request that he explain his “red lines” on the Iranian nuclear program, Obama said, “I am going to block out any noise that’s out there.” He continued, saying that despite the “noise,” he is “in close consultation with the Israelis” because “they’re one of our closest allies in the region.”
Who’s closer? Iraq? Egypt? Hamas?
Anyway, if you really want to keep the peace in the Middle East, a very good way to start is to show daylight between Washington and Jerusalem. Because nothing soothes the soul of an angry radical quite so much as seeing Israel dangling out there alone.
Some in Canada aren’t too happy with Ben Bernanke:
He just declared war on your job, and the whole Canadian economy.
Of course, so did the European Central Bank, the central bank of the Peoples’ Republic of China and others.
All of them are engaged in the same practice. They’re printing money. Gobs of it, in programs that have no end point.
Some are doing it to apply stimulus to revive their economies. Some are doing it to play extend-and-pretend games to hold their banks together.
For a country like Canada, with an economy in reasonably good shape, a government that’s not out of control, banks that are healthy and dependent on exports, it’s a declaration of war.
The game everyone else is playing is “beggar thy neighbour.” All this excess cash, whatever its stated purpose, is designed to bring their currencies down.
Like a see-saw, as they push their currency down the honest Canadian currency goes up. That’s why the Canadian dollar is worth so much more lately relative to the U.S. dollar and the other world currencies. It’s a measure of their weakness more than it’s a measure of our strength, but it doesn’t matter. It kills our exports just the same.
Must be more of that “smart diplomacy.”
Will Collier read the same story we all did, about Romney holding a whopping 14-point lead with middle class voters. And that lead to the following email exchange, starting with Will:
You see this yet?
I don’t have the nerve to post this (since it’s possible I’m kidding myself), but if that’s close to accurate, dude is WAY ahead, and we are just being flat lied to by almost every pollster/media outfit paying pollsters.
Another thing: R^2 are leading among Indies in virtually every poll, and usually by wide margins. If that’s the case, how could they NOT be ahead overall?
Yeah, about seven times a day I think I must be kidding myself, to think Romney has a shot at this thing, but then I remember what I wrote back to Will:
D samples are ridiculously high. As in, most outfits are sampling Ds at a higher rate than they turned out to vote in 2008.
As if 2010 never happened, as if the Tea Party never happened, as if somehow the last three years had made the Democrats more popular than they were when Obama was still hopenchangey Black Jesus.
It’s absurd, and the MSM and the polling outfits are going to lose whatever is left of their credibility, in the attempt to hand SCoaMF a second term.
I don’t know if you remember it or not, but in 80, all the way up to election day, the mantra was, “It’s very, very close.”
Back then I wondered if they just didn’t believe what they were seeing. The media class didn’t take Reagan seriously, and I always suspected they couldn’t bring themselves to accept (much less report) their actual poll results.
Today, I don’t wonder that. This time they’re just mashing down on the scale with everything they’ve got.
Of course they are. Now, I don’t actually believe for one moment that Mitt Romney is the guy to pare DC down to its constitutionally-correct size of maybe — maybe — one-third of what it is today. In that kind of world, one where Washington isn’t picking winners and losers, and isn’t robbing Peter’s grandkids to pay for Paul’s grandparents, what’s it worth being a George Stephanopoulos or an Ezra Klein?
Not much. George would be a goofy weatherman in Seattle, and Ezra would be a hanger-on to some gerrymandered liberal Democrat congressman from a bankrupt blue state. Same holds even for the good ones, like Jake Tapper. Take the money away from Washington, and they lose the limos and the perks and the high salaries and all the rest. They’d lose their status, heaven forbid.
DC was a sleepy little town before the vile progs got a hold of it, and someday it will be again. It must be again, or it will strangle the rest of the nation out of existence. We’re too deep into that boa grip already.
The MSM and their pet pollsters are in full Blazing Saddles mode: “We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs here, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately!”
And the entire chorus is harrumphing happily along. But behind each happy harrumph is a touch of panic because they know they’re losing their hold over the American people — and with it, they’ll lose everything else, too.
You might have already seen Althouse’s post today about law professor Tim Wu’s (not so) novel idea to abandon free speech in favor of “regional experts,” so as to not hurt the tender widdle sensibiwities of anyone anywhere. But you might not have seen this comment from Seven Machos:
Academics are hilarious. The successful ones are typically adept at the goofy but vicious politics of the faculty lounge. They begin to think of themselves as pretty good at this game, politics, and they have a try at it in the hard, real world.
And this treacly pool of shit is the result
We used to think of academics as too endearingly incompetent to live in the real world, but we’re starting to see them as too dangerous to do so. The befuddled professor is now the would-be tyrant.
It starts around one minute in, but watch the whole thing for the setup. And it’s amazing. Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé presenting together at the 1976 Grammy Awards, but performing a scat duet of “Lady Be Good.”
A couple years later, Tormé would record this number with Buddy Rich, with the lyric re-written as “Ella Be Good.” What an amazing record.
But this live performance? I can’t put it any better than one of the YouTube commenters, who wrote, “OH MY GOD. My face hurts from smiling SO HARD.” Yeah. That. The best part is, every single person in that auditorium, including that year’s winner, knew they just got absolutely schooled by two of the finest vocal performers in all of jazz history. And the ones who didn’t know it? They didn’t deserve to be at the Grammys.
To drink, we need something smooth, sophisticated, and sweet enough to match all the smiles.
Only — only — a Manhattan will do.
2.5 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1 maraschino cherry (preferably with the stem still on, but my jar didn’t have any like that)
A cocktail shaker
Plenty of ice
Fill the shaker halfway with ice, then pour in your bourbon and vermouth. I happen to like Maker’s Mark for my Manhattans — anything fancier tends to get lost in the vermouth, so why bother?
Stir slowly and gently for ten seconds. Thou shalt not count to 11, nor count to nine, excepting as to then proceed to ten.
Do not break or chip the ice.
Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a single cherry.
Now rewind the video and play it again with your Manhattan. You’ll find both are improved immeasurably, along with your attitude.
Here’s the one I just made.
It’s pop! It’s blues! It’s funk! It’s Chaka Khan, and she’s awesome here with the song that launched her solo career away from Rufus.
This song — was that originally Stevie Wonder on harmonica? — opened up whole new musical worlds to me on its release in 1984. And as you can see from this 2008 concert footage, she’s still got it.
Most amazing is that the song was originally written and recorded five years earlier by Prince, and it’s a pretty awful record, pedestrian and uninspired. And that from Prince, no less. Anyway, Khan saw that there was a gem hidden in there somewhere, and just recorded the hell out of it.
Turn it up.
Here is where Gallup has found incumbent presidents at this point, i.e. roughly mid-September, since 1956.
Through 2004 every incumbent who was above 50 percent at this point won, and every incumbent who was under 50 percent at this point lost. As of today, Obama is under 50 percent.
Now get to work.
The original 1986 Ford Taurus next to its modern descendent.
A delicious photoessay from TTAC’s Sajeev Mehta.
The heat wave back in July convinced me that I couldn’t keep driving an impossible-to-air-condition 1997 Jeep Wrangler. Also, I’d long ago torn out the back seat to make more room for camping gear, and eventually — like, after the second child — it also becomes impossible to justify having a two-seater as dad’s only car.
Well, I always did enjoy driving old Mercedes, so I looked around for a good deal on a Mercedes ML 350, or maybe the 500. Problem? The truck is just too damn big. I know the Wrangler is tiny, but I do intend on taking the thing off-road. Also? Mercedes seems to have gotten rid of the Low Range gearing on the newer versions (the W164 and W166) of their light SUV.
So I found a 1998 old-school W163 version, for less money than I paid six years ago for the ’97 Wrangler — and with fewer miles on it, too.
It’s still bigger than I’d like, but it’s not nearly the behemoth that the W166 is. I mean, that thing rivals a Soviet T-72, only with a slightly more-bulbous top.
I took the new-old ML camping last month, and it had plenty of room for me, the boy, all our gear, plenty of food, with lots of room left over. And that was without putting anything on the roof rack. Next summer, I’ll bring both boys and the 75-pound Golden, and all four of us will still enjoy plenty of lebensraum.
And believe me when I tell you: I don’t pack light. I used to fill every nook and cranny of the Wrangler, passenger seat included, going camping all by myself. But in the ML, even a cargo hog like me has more than enough truck, driving one of the smaller SUVs on the road.
So tell me: Why are our cars getting so much fatter, especially with gas prices ramping up and CAFE standards clamping down?
Because I don’t get it.
I’m not upgrading phones this year, but maybe that puts me in the minority:
A survey of lines at Apple stores in New York, Boston and Minneapolis found that crowds for the iPhone 5 are 83 percent larger than they were for the iPhone 4S, which has led one analyst to predict sales of 8 million iPhones this launch weekend.
Apple sold two million units — not AT&T, not Sprint, not Verizon, just Apple — on the first day for pre-orders. That’s twice as many as the sold of the iPhone 4S not even a full year ago. I guess consumers didn’t get the message from all the smart tech writers that the iPhone 5 is a letdown and a bore.
Looks like a wash to me. Which is as it should be, since Apple and MS both produce stable, good OSes. What remains to be seen is if Windows users can get past Microsoft’s odd effort to graft a mobile UI on top of the Windows experience. New PC buyers won’t have a choice, but Win7 users — a happy bunch, if the massive sales records are any indicator — might be tempted to put off upgrading if they don’t like the UI.
Jim Geraghty interviewed GOP pollster John McLaughlin about the crazy polls this year, which are crazy like a fox:
On what a realistic partisan breakdown would look like: The 2004 national exit polls showed an even partisan turnout and Bush won 51-48. Had it been the +4 Democratic edge of 2000, John Kerry would have been President. 2008 was a Democratic wave that gave them a +7 partisan advantage. 2010 was a Republican edge. There’s no wave right now. There are about a dozen swing states where in total millions of voters who voted in 2008 for Obama are gone or have not voted since. There are also hundreds of thousands of voters in each of several swing states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and others who voted from rural, exurban or suburban areas in 2004 for Bush who did not vote in 2008, because they were not excited by McCain or thought he would lose. They are currently planning to vote mainly as a vote against President Obama.”
That last bit hardly plays into the Democrats’ RAAAAACIST meme. Obama being black wasn’t enough to get them to the polls last time around, but the Democrats sure are worried about them coming out to vote against fore more years of job-killing vile progressivism.
Most interesting was McLaughlin’s assertion that “there’s no wave right now.” It’s interesting because we have a professional pollster confirming something I wrote about recently:
At this point, the thing maybe moving most against Mitt Romney is political exhaustion. 2006 was a midterm wave election. 2008 was another wave, this time in the biggest-ever presidential election year. 2010 was yet another wave election — the unprecedented third in a row.
Can Americans summon the energy for a fourth wave election in just six years?
We’re at the point or soon will be, where if Romney is going to pull this thing out, he has to start moving more of Obama’s 2008 state gains back into the R column. If there’s no wave, that’s more difficult to accomplish.
But we measure a wave but reading the polls, and the polls are crazy. On Twitter the other day, Nate Silver wrote, “The. Polls. Have. Stopped. Making. Any. Sense. Whatsoever.” Or something very close to that — I forgot to bookmark the tweet. Nate has great models, but at this point even his are deep into GIGO territory.
So is there a wave or not?
All I can offer is anecdata, which might be as a reliable an indicator as we’re likely to get in this silly season of rigged polls. The data here in Colorado look good for Romney. In terms of yard signs, Romney is all over the place in exactly the way John McCain wasn’t. This is in an area heavy with Evangelicals, so if you’re worried Romney can’t get their vote — don’t be. I’ve seen exactly one Obama signed, festooned with an American flag on each side, as if to reassure the neighbors that they aren’t really America-hating vile progs.
The bumper sticker war is similarly lopsided, again in stark contrast to 2008. Oddly, I’m more likely to see Obama-Biden 2008 than Obama-Biden 2012. Sometimes the hope dies hard, and the change never came.
I’m hearing from frustrated local GOP voters. They’re frustrated at all the damn-near-push-polling calls they’re getting — and this is in Colorado Springs. This looks to me like a telecom part of Operation Demoralize, because I’m not hearing complains like these from anyone in Democrat-friendly Denver or Boulder.
But is there a wave or not?
When I first started this season’s Wargaming the Electoral College series, Colorado looked to be one of the toughest of Obama’s 2008 nuts for the GOP to crack. Indiana and North Carolina were safely Red again; New Mexico wasn’t going to budge from Blue; and Colorado was going to be Virginia-tough. But that’s not how things look on the ground these last couple weeks. That’s not what the last couple polls out of Colorado have indicated, either. And it’s certainly not how the Obama camp or the mainstream pollsters (but I repeat myself) are behaving.
The feeling on the ground is that Colorado is Romney’s to lose. He certainly could lose it, especially since we haven’t had a debate yet. But if what I’m seeing with my own lyin’ eyes in any indication, this election might be moving towards a fourth consecutive wave election.
The other question that remains is whether Romney can catch the wave.
I’m pretty jaded, but these numbers shocked even me:
Current federal regulations plus those coming under Obamacare will cost American taxpayers and businesses $1.8 trillion annually, more than twenty times the $88 billion the administration estimates, according to a new roundup provided to Secrets from the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute.
And it could grow, warned the author of the report, Clyde Wayne Crews, a CEI vice president.
Complying with Health and Human Services Department requirements alone, he revealed, costs $184 billion a year, yet regulators are still drafting the rules for the 2,400-page Obamacare law that kicks into gear in 2014.
It’s almost as though low growth and high unemployment were a part of some plan to maintain a permanent underclass dependent on handouts.
That is not Captain Morgan the President is meeting with. That is Captain Morgenstern, a high-ranking officer in the Israeli Navy.
Tyler Durden reports from the slipperiest part of the slippery slope:
From Bloomberg: “Governments should regulate food companies on unhealthy ingredients in products that contribute to obesity, an epidemic that now affects 1-in-3 Americans and costs the U.S. $150 billion a year, said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. More than education and voluntary action by companies is needed, Farley said. New York’s limit on sugary soft drink sales is one example of the steps governments must take to stop the rise of obesity, he said today at a press conference on the topic held by the Journal of the American Medical Association.” Punchline #1: “Publicly traded food companies, charged with making a profit for their shareholders, can’t be relied upon to make their foods more nutritious, Farley said.” In other words, Uncle Sam knows what is best for you, always. Punchline #2: “There is a clear role for government in the solution,” Farley said. “Obesity rates have been rising considerably for the last 30 to 40 years. If we don’t do anything, I think it is a fair prediction that they will continue to rise.” Surely, when it comes to things that are soaring which will not stop soaring unless something is done, the US government knows best.
Try cutting food stamps in half. That’d be a good start.