very no

I just can't believe someone would design it this way on purpose. This is a one line task.
DocumentBuilderFactory docBuilderFactory = DocumentBuilderFactory.newInstance();
DocumentBuilder docBuilder = null;
try {
docBuilder = docBuilderFactory.newDocumentBuilder();
} catch (ParserConfigurationException e) {

Document doc = null;
try {
doc = docBuilder.parse (new File(fileName));
} catch (SAXException e) {
} catch (IOException e) {
Seriously? DocumentBuilderFactory.newInstance()?

more "the family" news

And today we have news of yet another C Streeter falling off the fidelity wagon.

Now it's the turn of former Rep. Chip Pickering (R) or Mississippi, who appeared to be in line to grab Trent Lott's Senate seat and was allegedly offered the gig by Gov. Haley Barbour (his office denied this to TPMmuckraker), but decided instead to leave Congress altogether.

Pickering and his wife divorced soon afterward and now she is suing the novelistically named Elizabeth Creekmore-Byrd for "alienation of affection," i.e., for stealing her husband. What's more, according to legal papers filed by Leisha Pickering, some of the "wrongful conduct" between Pickering and Creekmore-Byrd (I guess that's what they call it down there?) took place at ... you guessed, the C Street group home up on Capitol Hill.

I mean, I don't know about their politics. But these dudes know how to party. I don't see how you get around that.

my contribution to wikipediaéndez&diff=302536030&oldid=298996974

* Juan Mendez, alleged inventor of the [[burrito]], Ciudad Juárez, Mexico (circa 1910)

wait no really

self-serious downloadable board games

Unfortunately, 3mm is too thick for the Ellison, and 2mm is too thin for InterSpace hex tiles. So you will need to cut 216 hexes (42 cuts of 6 hexes each) from 2mm foam and glue hexes together in pairs to produce 108 4mm hex bases.

InterSpace hex tiles TM demand that you manufacture them from the highest quality materials. Do not attempt to use inferior materials or processes.

my god it's full of stars

People are great. The internet is great. I wanted to put these links here, most of them are board game / evil geniuses related.

print on demand custom board games
pre-cut hex tiles
more game parts
custom steel rule dies
scrapbooking is a real hobby!
OMG Chart!

and the quote of the day:

craft robo paper cutterCraftRobo might be Japanese. Seems to be listed on overseas shops more than USA ones. , for UK, in Japanese

epic wtf

I'm just gonna quote the whole post.

Ensign's Weirdest Moment

Yes, I know that's pretty bold billing given the recent news out about Sen. Ensign (R-NV). But beyond all the salacious detail there's a picture emerging of the man -- who, remember, is a high-profile senator and had been considered a serious presidential candidate -- that combines deeply manipulative traits with an almost childlike approach to those in authority around him.

Ensign is a member of something called the C Street group, which is part of a highly secretive religious outfit called 'The Family'. It's a combo religious fellowship and Capitol Hill group home where a number of Republican members of Congress live. And it's run by a guy named Doug Coe. (Because the comedy never stops, remember that Gov. Sanford too is a member of the C Street group/Family.) In one of the more surreal episodes in this whole drama, while folks from 'The Family', including Sen. Coburn (R-OK), were trying to get Ensign to end his relationship with the girlfriend and write her and her husband a big check.

So Ensign agrees to do this. But the members of his fellowship had so little trust he could follow through that they had him write out a letter to the mistress that he was ending the relationship and then drove him to the local Fedex office to make sure he actually dropped the letter in the box. So he does that. But then after he shakes them loos he calls the mistress to tell her his friends made him write the letter and to ignore it.

It makes having his parents pay the couple off sound far less out of character.

And this was a man who was going to run for president.

I heard a piece on 'The Family' and this Doug Coe character a while back on NPR. They're pretty good conspiracy theory fodder; one of their key beliefs is that greatness is not a matter of morality or faith, it is a matter of being chosen by Jesus Christ. I'm probably misrepresenting them, but...meh!


It's still kindof neat that I get paid a lot of money mostly to know what the hell people are talking about.

incentive engineering

I've read (I don't remember where, and I'm paraphrasing) that there's a belief that's arisen since progress was invented, some few hundred years ago, that humanity's natural habitat has not yet been invented. That is, that the ideal environment for human beings does not yet exist, but that we are designing and building it as we move forward through history, and especially with the advance of science and engineering.

Of course as an engineer I find this very compelling... I love the idea that my work is part of a larger human project to understand ourselves and our universe.

This concept leads us right into the field of incentive engineering, which I think of as the intersection of politics, religion, and game design: how do you write the rules of a system in order to encourage certain behaviors?

It's surprisingly difficult to balance a multiplayer game and keep it fun for everyone. There are always hackers or griefers or exploiters, and they are amazingly good at getting around your rules. The best games try to set up incentives against this kind of behavior, or at least try to shield the bulk of their user-base from the most abusive behavior.

Civil society uses an escalating ladder of social pressure, laws, police, and prison to keep things from getting too broken. There's a lot of negative-punishment in that list, and once you're on the punishment track it can be difficult to get off of it. Taking a cue from modern game design, perhaps there's a more positive-reinforcement way of looking at the problem.