Rick Santorum and the Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition

Burning kittens is wrong. It is cruel, it is illegal and it is, quite simply, evil. No one should burn kittens.

I am, unambiguously and without qualification, opposed to burning kittens. I am also confident that you are opposed to this too. And that latter point is why I cannot join the Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition.

The AKBC, again, is on the correct side of this issue. Its members, quite rightly, are vehemently opposed to something to which they ought to be vehemently opposed. But that isn’t what motivates them. What drives them, their central organizing principle, is the notion that they represent a beleaguered and controversial minority view. They imagine that their stance against burning kittens — sweet, adorable, innocent kittens — is something that separates and distinguishes them from most other people. They imagine that their opposition to burning kittens is a brave and exceptional stance that elevates them above most other people.

In other words, the central concern of the Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition is not a defense of kittens, but an accusation against most other people. They are not driven by their opposition to kitten-burning, but by their opposition to a make-believe faction of other people whom they imagine favor kitten-burning. That this vast bloc of pro kitten-burning people cannot be found and does not exist does nothing to dampen their enthusiastic campaign against these supposed monstrously cruel others. It is a delusion, but the AKBC enjoys this delusion.

This delusion gives their lives meaning and purpose. It makes their lives more exciting. And it enables them to bask in the idea that they are good and righteous people — or at least the possibility that they are better than some imagined faction of monstrously cruel other people.

This delusion has become a central defining trait of American politics. Imaginary monsters — other people who are imagined to favor kitten-burning or other monstrous cruelties — are a greater focus of American politics than jobs, taxes, highways and bridges, or environmental protection. Millions of votes are mobilized and cast based on the imaginary fear of an imaginary faction of kitten-burning monsters.

Here, for example, is Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, describing a nightmare of monstrous cruelty that he imagines is now taking place in the Netherlands:

“In the Netherlands, people wear different bracelets if they are elderly,” Santorum said. “And the bracelet is: ‘Do not euthanize me.’ Because they have voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands but half of the people who are euthanized — 10 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands — half of those people are euthanized involuntarily at hospitals because they are older and sick. And so elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go to the hospital. They go to another country, because they are afraid, because of budget purposes, they will not come out of that hospital if they go in there with sickness.”

The happy truth, of course, is that this is all complete nonsense. Nothing like this is happening in the Netherlands. No such bracelets exist. Santorum’s nightmare is entirely false — it’s a fabricated delusion based on a fantasy apparently invented out of whole cloth by the Louisiana Right to Life Federation.

If you had any doubt about that, if you had for a moment perhaps feared that Santorum was telling the truth, then you will be pleased and relieved to learn that he was not. You will be happy to learn that Dutch hospitals are not killing off the terrified elderly because, rightly and understandably, you prefer to live in a world in which such horrible things are not happening.

That’s the difference between you and Sen. Santorum. You both agree that the scenario he described would be a Very Bad Thing. But for you that means you don’t want it to be true while for him that’s reason to wish it were. He believed this story and promoted this story because he wanted to believe it was true. He needed to believe it was true.

Rick Santorum wishes that he lived in a world in which horrible things like this were really happening. If you confront him with the facts and the evidence proving that his Netherlands nightmare is only the figment of a fevered imagination he would not be relieved to learn that this wasn’t true. He’d be defensive and angry, denying those facts and that evidence because he prefers the horrible fantasy.

Why? Why would anyone want such a thing to be true? Why would someone invent monsters and cling, desperately, to the idea of such monsters? Aren’t there enough real problems in the world demanding our attention?

I’ve been studying the Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition in its various incarnations for a long time now, and I have a few theories in answer to those questions.

1. It’s exciting to believe in imaginary monsters.

Santorum wants to imagine himself doing battle with Dutch death panels for the same reason that I spent hours as a teenager fighting dragons, trolls, goblins and orcs. It’s exciting to pretend that you’re a brave hero struggling against the forces of evil. That’s fine when you know it’s just a game — an imaginary fantasy conducted with graph-paper and multi-sided dice. But it’s a problem when you lose the ability to distinguish between the fantasy role-playing game and real life.

2. A fiendish foil for self-righteousness.

Being good is hard. If I compare myself to Jesus or Harriet Tubman or St. Francis or Dorothy Day then I can’t help but see a vast amount of room for improvement on my part. But if, instead, I compare myself to Hannibal Lecter, then I come out looking pretty good. If I compare myself to Hannibal Lecter, then I can tell myself that I am a saint and a hero and not just someone largely indistinct from everyone else, stumbling along in a self-absorbed routine of quiet desperation. It doesn’t matter that Lecter is a fictional character who doesn’t really exist, not when he’s so very useful as a point of contrast that allows me to bask in my own self-righteousness. Am I really a righteous saint and hero? Compared to Hannibal Lecter, to the kitten-burners and the Satanic baby-killers, you bet I am.

3. If the monsters don’t exist, the theory isn’t true.

The Big Theory presents an if-then equation to explain how society works. The theory offers a defense of something — “traditional morality,” sectarian privilege, patriarchy, ethnic superiority, cultural exceptionalism, nationalism, etc. — and says that if that something is not defended, then monstrous consequences will ensue. The absence of such monstrous consequences thus disproves the theory, undermining its defense of whatever it is the theorist is defending.

And so monsters must be invented. And anyone who denies the reality of these unreal monsters must be condemned as an enemy of traditional morality, or of the sect, the ethnic group, the culture, the nation, etc.

4. Imaginary monsters give our fears a face.

We’re afraid. We’re afraid of difference, of financial insecurity, of forces beyond our control, of death. Our fears are amorphous, unsettling and overwhelming. We can’t get a handle on them. So we give them a name and a face and thus can pretend that we’re up against something we can fight. Instead of the amorphous fear of something in the dark, we can pretend that it’s a werewolf in the woods. A werewolf is scary too, but now we have something to do. OK, yes, technically there’s still no such thing as werewolves, but if we pretend there are, then we can take decisive action. We can start making silver bullets. We can start locking up those neighbors we suspect might secretly be werewolves. The monsters may be imaginary, but at least they’re specific.

 

  • Anonymous

    2. A fiendish foil for self-righteousness.
    Being good is hard.
    If I compare myself to Jesus or Harriet Tubman or St. Francis or
    Dorothy Day then I can’t help but see a vast amount of room for
    improvement on my part. But if, instead, I compare myself to Hannibal
    Lecter, then I come out looking pretty good. If I compare myself to
    Hannibal Lecter, then I can tell myself that I am a saint and a hero and
    not just someone largely indistinct from everyone else, stumbling along
    in a self-absorbed routine of quiet desperation. It doesn’t matter that
    Lecter is a fictional character who doesn’t really exist, not when he’s
    so very useful as a point of contrast that allows me to bask in my own
    self-righteousness. Am I really a righteous saint and hero? Compared to
    Hannibal Lecter, to the kitten-burners and the Satanic baby-killers, you bet I am.

    That’s kinda funny, because Rick Santorum does that for me.

    Of course, that anger is toxic and unpleasant and kind of ruins my day, so I’d really prefer if he just stopped saying terrible, terrible things about rape survivors and the separation of church and state and the Netherlands and etc.

  • THE Magpie

    One of my cats had to be euthanized just before Christmas, which sparked a longish conversation between my daughter and I about euthanasia for humans.  She is for it, and has stated that if she was indeed dying from some disease and there was no cure, and the pain could not be controlled, she would want the option. She is young, but she is also pragmatic. She has lost two grandparents in the last five years, both from cancer, and has seen how they suffered.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy


    If you confront him with the facts and the evidence proving that his Netherlands nightmare is only the figment of a fevered imagination he would not be relieved to learn that this wasn’t true. He’d be defensive and angry, denying those facts and that evidence because he prefers the horrible fantasy.

    Count me as one of the many Canadians living in the United States who tried to debunk claims that “up here” in the land of socialized medicine† we had to parade out seniors before death panels.

    The fact that I was a) a Canadian and b) had elderly parents who would be the first, according to such claims, to be deep sixed if such panels had existed made no dent at all on the continued claims that they existed.

    Nor were people happy to learn that such panels did not exist.

    † No, it isn’t really socialized medicine. It is a series of provincial single-payer systems. I know that but even that simple fact across seemed insuperably difficult.

  • rizzo

    “That’s the difference between you and Sen. Santorum.”
    Well, that and I’m not an idiot.  He’s like a child, and all this attention is just egging him on.  Wouldn’t mind seeing him and Mitt split the party at the convention though.

  • Anonymous

    Part of it is also goes back to the carefully cultivated distrust in…well, any institution telling the truth.  It makes it much easier to believe there are death panels in the Netherlands when your media not only doesn’t correct that mistake, but actively implies that anyone not a Republican American or certain types of Israeli are degenerates who only care about hedonism and abortions,. Which ties into the whole conservative Christianity thing.

    It’s really magnificent, how all these different lies and half truths feed into and support each other.  It’s like a whole ecosystem of hate and stupid. . 

  • Anonymous

    Way to show off your international diplomacy skills, Santorum.  Making false, and slanderous, statements about foreign countries is a great way to gain their respect. /sarcasm

    I can not describe how much I would like to see the government of the Netherlands call Santorum out on his BS. 

    And, seriously, what is so wrong with giving people who are suffering from incurable illnesses the ability to end their lives in a controlled and painless manner should they choose to do so?

  • Anonymous

    I think that when Santorum or other political figures go full AKBC they are reacting (as reactionaries do) to the general public not being terrified by what they are terrified by. So they concoct these delusional and elaborate slippery slopes to both justify their own fear and convince others that they’ve been right to be scared all along. “The government wants you to have access to contraception!” crickets “Pre-natal care is a gateway to abortion!” raised eyebrows “Um, well, let’s see, how about…the Dutch murder old people! See, the government is scary! French Revolution! Man-on-dog sex! College is a liberal conspriracy to make your kids listen to Phish!”

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy


    And, seriously, what is so wrong with giving people who are suffering from incurable illnesses the ability to end their lives in a controlled and painless manner should they choose to do so?

    Because it acknowledges that those people own their own bodies. 

    And once that has been acknowledge a number of other things seems to follow rather automatically.

    This is something about which I feel rather strongly since I am 

    TRIGGER WARNING: Death of a parent

    one of those people who sat by the side of a parent who chose “no extraordinary measures” and therefore have some knowledge/opinions that are based on going through it — and going through it in a non-American venue.

    DNR doesn’t always mean “dying right away.” It can mean, as it did in the case of my parent, turning down painful surgery which might somewhat extend life but that extended life would be lived in pain and with minimal quality. The operating room was booked and ready in case my parent made the choice to have the surgery. My parent made the decision not to have the operation and lived some weeks before dying.† Those weeks were spent with zir loved ones at zir side. Reduction of pain and discomfort was the primary goal of the medical personnel. 

    In the eyes of the hospital personnel my parent owned zir body and was given the dignity and respect of making the final determination as to the treatment zie wanted.

    † Further, because my parent was hospitalized in a system where zie knew that zir choice would not cost zir family a cent–that choice was not made out of a fear of financial consequences. If my parent had wanted to “fight” death for months and through a series of operations it would have cost our family no more than the cost of zir decision not to “fight” death.

  • Anonymous

    Way, WAY off topic, I realize, but this hardly the first time I’ve run into a reference to “multi-sided dice” lately.

    Pardon, but aren’t ALL dice “multi-sided”?  Or is there some obscure corner of the gaming world where people are rolling dice made out of Möbius strips?  This inquiring mind wants to know!

  • Anonymous

    So where are the people actively calling him out on his bullshit?  Where’s the articles in the NYTimes and the Atlantic and elsewhere saying ‘Santorum said this … but he’s wrong.’  Where are the TV news hosts who are asking his representatives, ‘Why did he say something that is provably not true?’  Where a sane rational version of Joe Wilson to stand up in the middle of one of these claims and say ‘YOU LIE’?  Gods dammit, I realize this is American politics but where the hell is the accountability?!

    Attention NYTimes editor who had the gall to ask if journalists should factcheck: FUCK YES, YOU BOZO, and this is why!

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    4. Imaginary monsters give our fears a face.

    I can’t state my support for this item enough. Not just a face for our fears, but a course of action, something we can do in the face of fear.

    Human beings, psychologically, don’t do well when we feel powerless, or helpless. Having control, or at least the illusion of control, is powerfully calming and re-assuring. Werewolves may not be real, but the silver bullets you have a in drawer are. I can’t find any of those pro-kitten-burners, but I can at least write a check to the Kitten Flamability Defense Fund of America, and that’s how I can fight this fight!

    Gas prices are set to rise because massively wealthy speculators are attempting to manipulate the market. (some speculate this is revenge for Obama blocking the tar sands pipeline) What can I do if gas prices rise to $5/gallon? I can’t fight these massive companies; they’ve actually shown that with this round of manipulation. Production is up, consumpiton is down, and gas prices are rising anyway! In the face of this, I feel helpless. So when Mr. Frothy Mix comes along and tells me I can pick up a rifle and fight the good fight, I feel better, less helpless. It’s a hell of a way to exploit people, using a seductive illusion like that.

  • Lizzy L

    Rick Santorum really said this? And people believed him?

    Face/palm Head/desk /boggle/ WTF?

    Just when I think I can’t possibly be surprised by anything these d***heads say/believe, they prove me wrong. I do wonder though: does Santorum truly believe this? Or is it simply something convenient to say in the course of his campaign, a montrosity designed to create outrage and fear?

    Not that it matters.

  • Lizzy L

    Sorry — monstrosity. Better brain cells, please.

  • Michael Cule

    Not all dice are multi-sided: some joker produced a perfectly round dice that none the less woould roll between 1 and 6 fairly reliably. I think Fred is referring (carelessly: careless Fred!) to the many varieties of polyhedral dice (not just cubes but all sorts) used in (some) fantasy role-playing games.

    Be that as it may, the issue here would be that Mr Santorum, in order to make this allegation has to be either

    a) very gullible
    b) very careless or
    c) a deliberate liar.

    There are no more explanations I can see and none of those explanations make him a man who should be trusted to run a whelk stall let alone head the Executive Branch of the US Federal government. 

    Is there any way they can spin this to make it look good? Other than stuffing their fingers in their ears and going laaa-laaa? Or looking huffy that anyone could DARE challenge the suitability of their candidate?

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Pardon, but aren’t ALL dice “multi-sided”?  Or is there some obscure corner of the gaming world where people are rolling dice made out of Möbius strips?

    Outside of an obscure corner of the gaming world, dice are all six-sided. The land of polyhedrons beyond the humble cube is rare to most of the muggles out there, who think that Yahtzee is exotic because you roll six dice instead of two.

    When I say “dice”, most English speakers assume I mean “six-sided dice”. When I say “multi-sided dice” or “polyhedral dice”, then people think of the wierd “D&D dice”.

    (Oh, and there is an ancient section of the gaming world where “dice” are actually paper chits in a bag!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

     Next Santorum will warn us about this chilling documentary he watched called Logan’s Run.

  • rizzo

     Of course they are, but it’s a term generally used to refer to any non d6(that’s a 6 sided die for all you not nerds out there)

  • Anonymous

    Next Santorum will warn us about this chilling documentary he watched called Logan’s Run.

    And the “objective” press would let it slide because pointing out that there’s no such place as the City of Domes and that “this shit is made up” would be “taking sides.”

    On the other hand, I’d love to see Santorum questioned so forcefully on this and other issues until he’s reduced to creepily moaning, “There is no Sanctuary!”

  • Anonymous

    “Pardon, but aren’t ALL dice “multi-sided”?  Or is there some obscure
    corner of the gaming world where people are rolling dice made out of
    Möbius strips?  This inquiring mind wants to know!”

    Back in Ye Olden Dayes before 1975 or so, when Dungeons and Dragons began its march toward cultural dominance (eventually getting, oh, 5% or so of the way there before collapsing in exhaustion) the only dice available were the standard six-sided variety.  Then D&D and its innumerable imitators (which in many cases vastly improved on the original)(and yes, I am oversimplifying the history by ignoring, for example, Chainmail) came out, requiring the use of dice in the shape of all five Platonic solids.  The dodecahedron was the most important, as a pair of different colors, each numbered 0 to 9 twice, are used to generate random numbers from 1 to 100, working well with percentage tables.  Indeed, in retrospect a better design would probably have used only percentile dice, but the others were cool (for some deeply nerdy value of “cool”).  Obtaining the dice presented a problem for us early adopters, but somewhere I still have my first set from 1976. 

    So in any case, and to actually address your question, yes, all dice are multi-sided:  even the boring old D6.  “Non-standard” would have been more accurate.  For whatever reason, “multi-sided” is what caught on.  One possible explanation is that it is the collection which is multiple:  that is, a collection of dice of multiple numbers of sides, with this concept getting reduced to the dice themselves.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Reason 5: Rick Santorum doesn’t want to fix the real problems. He has no desire to address “jobs, taxes, highways and bridges, or environmental protection.” Okay, so why should Rick Santorum have a job in government? Why, to protect us from the death panels, of course! And if he happens to enrich a bunch of corporations in the process of protecting us from the death panels, that’s just the glorious free market at work.

    This applies to the entire GOP, needless to say.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy


    Rick Santorum doesn’t want to fix the real problems

    I would agree that Santorum does’t want to fix the things that most of us see as the real problems but I do think that he want to fix the things he thinks are the real problems. I believe that Santorum genuinely believes that there should not be a wall between church and state (and therefore he needs to fix it) and I think Santorum genuinely believes that women should go from father to husband and therefore all these laws and regulations that encourage women to enter the workforce should be repealed.

    I think it is reasonable to argue that some of those backing Santorum (financially and otherwise) are using Santorum in order to further their own ends–but I think it oversimplifies Santorum to write him off as simply trying to enrich corporations.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like people to think that I was a brave, good person. I’ve had the usual saving-puppies-and-orphans-from-an-erupting-volcano type of fantasies but I can state with 99.9%* confidence that in real life I’d be wringing my hands and wailing, “Somebody DO SOMETHING!” But I’d have more sense than to tell a barefaced lie about saving puppies etc. because I would be discovered as a Lying Liar Who Lies in about three seconds. Why indeed aren’t the supposedly liberal media all over this?

    * The other 0.1% is just in case the adrenalin kicks in. You never know.

  • Anonymous

    The irony is that in chasing these imaginary monsters, Santorum & Co. become more monstrous in turn.
    If he could, he’d outlaw not just abortion but contraception, condemning millions of women to agony, to death, to carrying the burden of unwanted and unneeded children. 

    And it’s not just Rick. Thanks to the imaginary Islamic Super-Terrorist, Americans are perfectly comfortable with Guantanamo and the drone bombings all across the Middle East. We put up with Iraq for eight years because of the Islamic Super-Terrorists, and now we’re gearing up for a war with Iran to prevent the creation of Islamic Nuclear Super-Terrorists.

  • http://twitter.com/Afuckwad A fuckwad

    Am I allowed to say words like ‘eliminationist’ here or is that too inflammatory for this here forum

    anyway the phrase ‘real america’ is a two-word summation of the seeds of a dictatorship of eliminationism, and things have only become more and more extreme from there

  • Lori

    I think it’s  true that Santorum doesn’t want to address the real problems we’re facing. His ideology really doesn’t allow it. However, it’s also true that he doesn’t remotely have the ability to address them and on some level he must know that. When you know you don’t have the chops to deal with reality but you still want to be president in the worst way you’ve got to do something to keep folks distracted from your short-comings.

  • http://twitter.com/Afuckwad A fuckwad

    Also, I think the OP fails to address what I think is the central psychological process that underlies this whole ‘deal’. The fallout of Sarah Palin’s comments re Paul Revere illustrated it perfectly, though the recent shit with Komen did a good job of it as well (especially the disgraced woman’s resignation letter).

    These people are completely incapable of publicly admitting that they are wrong. About anything. Because they believe that showing any sort of public weakness or vulnerability is the worst possible thing. They believe that you never ever admit that there’s anything wrong with you.

    So for them, and the people that think like them, confront the fact that the world is not perfect, all the negative energy must be turned outward onto others. The facts don’t matter; what matters is the emotional truth that Other People are the cause of everything wrong, and Other People are the source of all evil and fuckedupness. They are psychologically incapable of admitting to weakness or that their side might be incorrect in some fashion, because they are above all else afraid to look weak, to anyone. So they’re always looking for someone to blame.

  • Lori

    I believe that Santorum genuinely believes that there should not be a wall between church and state (and therefore he needs to fix it) and I think Santorum genuinely believes that women should go from father to husband and therefore all these laws and regulations that encourage women to enter the workforce should be repealed.I think it is reasonable to argue that some of those backing Santorum (financially and otherwise) are using Santorum in order to further their own ends–but I think it oversimplifies Santorum to write him off as simply trying to enrich corporations.   

     

    I definitely agree with this. I absolutely believe that Santorum is sincere in his longing for theocracy and that his mysogny is genuine. Some of his supporters agree with him on those points, others are hoping to use him for personal gain.

    It’s the real problems, like unemployment and foreign policy, where he has neither the interest nor the capacity to be part of the solution.   

  • Guest-again

    ‘…but I think it oversimplifies Santorum to write him off as simply trying to enrich corporations.’
    Well, it depends on whether you consider the Vatican a theocratic relic still hoping for world domination or a corporation with incredible cash flow and truly stunning assets.

    I find it so amusing that Santorum has all but declared that a former German Hitler Youth (technically accurate, though it is not the same as calling the current pope a Nazi) celibate theocrat who has apparently fabulous taste in slippers will be in charge of Santorum’s policy making. And to think, back in the time Kennedy was getting elected, he was careful to emphasize that such a scenario was just the delusion of anti-Catholic bigots.

    Of course, Kennedy did get elected – Santorum can rely on prayer to have a chance, but really, that is all he has going for him in November, if the Republicans, the fading party of WASPs and rising party of fundamentalists, finally decide to pick him as a candidate. Though who knows – that the Republicans are deciding between a Mormon, two Catholics, and a flat out racist shows that they are diversifying in ways that prove that traditional affirmative action ideals are better than whatever it is the Republicans are attempting. 

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    But I’d have more sense than to tell a barefaced lie about saving puppies etc. because I would be discovered as a Lying Liar Who Lies in about three seconds.

    but that’s the beauty of the AKBC myths. You don’t have to paint yourself as being awesome, you just have to paint yourself as someone who opposes those awful kitten-burners. And that’s easy!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s interesting how the elements of childrens’ fantasy tales map rather neatly into Republican politics. Children are well-known to imagine themselves bravely fighting the monsters of the tales they read, or having great adventures in Whateverland. I used to imagine myself in Enid Blyton’s worlds, for example, or that I had my own Wishing-Chair, or that I might be in Narnia, or even solving mysteries with the Hardy Boys.

    But none of that was real, and pretending it was would have been more than a little silly.

    Yet Republicans have somehow managed to convince grown adults that Fantasyland thinking is perfectly acceptable as a substitute for dealing with actual problems.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Pardon, but aren’t ALL dice “multi-sided”?  Or is there some obscure corner of the gaming world where people are rolling dice made out of Möbius strips?  This inquiring mind wants to know!
    Once upon a time Ernő Rubik made a puzzle.  It was called the Rubik’s cube for it was a cube.  (The prototype was a truncated cube, but that is neither here nor there.)

    There never really was a name for the kind of puzzle it was*, and that presented some oddities when trying to describe what came after.  The 14 sided cube and the 26 sided cube are the first ones that come to my mind.  In either case the name made a certain amount of sense when you saw how it came about** but the name was still impossible.  If it has a number of sides other than 6 it isn’t a cube.

    In other cases the names didn’t make sense at all.  A “12 sided cube” might be used to refer to dodecahedral puzzle that was built off a strictly dodecahedral design, no cube anywhere near it, but since it was the case that the Rubik’s puzzles were called cubes so too were these ones.  Even though the Rubik’s cubes were called cubes because they actually happened to be cubes.

    Of course math was never all that strong in the whole Rubik’s thing anyway.  The advertising was billions of combinations.  Ok, that’s true.  43 quintillion is billions, it’s 43 billion billion.  Kind of an understatement though.  Like saying there are tens of people on earth.  Except more misleading.

    And then you end up with stuff like this thing that I made, which is known as a “Fully Functional Extended Cuboctahedron”.  It is neither a cuboctahedron, nor one that has been extended.  It is fully functional, but the only reason that that needs to be said is that it used to be the case that extended was a term that explicitly meant “not fully functional.”

    The story goes like this.  The “extended cube” was made by gluing a layer of cubies (the little cubes that a Rubik’s cube is made up of) onto each side of a standard cube.  Thus producing a shape that was not cubic, and a puzzle that was not fully functional.  (The added layers were simply glued on, they could not turn.)

    Then one day someone figured that they could do the same thing but instead of adding standard layers to the sides they’d add layers from the outside of a cubeoctahedron puzzle (also known as the misnamed “14 sided cube” mentioned above) they did that, did a little extra work (the corners from the original standard cube the stuff was being glued onto needed to be cut down somewhat) and the “extended cuboctahedron” which is neither shaped like a cubeoctaherdon nor a cuboctohedron that has been extended, was born.

    Then I decided it was about time we make one of those where the outer layers could turn, and created my puzzle which has the same thing involving not matching the shape, and the added inaccuracy of not really being extended.  The “Fully Functional” is the only think in the title that is actually accurate.

    But, at least within the right circles, people know what I mean when I say it.  And thus saying it is a lot easier than trying to figure out an accurate terminology to describe it.

    So, I guess the takeaway from this is, it’s not just dice.  Inaccurate yet useful terminology is applied to other polyhedra as well.

    -

    * It’s a sequential move puzzle, but there are many sequential move puzzles that are clearly not the same type of puzzle.  It’s a twisty puzzle, but not every puzzle that involves twisting is really a Rubik’s cube like puzzle.  And given that Rubik is a brand name now (and the name of a brand that includes some things that are nothing like the cube, no less) using Rubik in the name of a generic class of puzzles doesn’t really work that well either.

    **  Both were straightforward modifications of a simple Rubik’s cube mechanism into a different shape.  The “cube” in the name referred to the original puzzle, or in the case of the 14 sided thing which was actually mass produced and thus not a modification, the design on which the puzzle was based.  The “14/26 sided” referred to the final shape.

  • Anonymous

    “And to think, back in the time Kennedy was getting elected, he was careful to emphasize that such a scenario was just the delusion of anti-Catholic bigots.”

    Don’t get Santorum started on Kennedy. Here he is explaining why JFK’s famous speech “makes you throw up”:

    Because the first line, first substantive line in the speech says, “I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.[...]
     
    Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate. Go on and read the speech. I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.[...]

    What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up and it should make every American who is seen from the president, someone who is now trying to tell people of faith that you will do what the government says, we are going to impose our values on you, not that you can’t come to the public square and argue against it, but now we’re going to turn around and say we’re going to impose our values from the government on people of faith, which of course is the next logical step when people of faith, at least according to John Kennedy, have no role in the public square.

    It is amazing how Santorum can get “only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case” from “I want a Chief Executive whose public acts are responsible to all groups and obligated to none.” Not amazing. Dishonest is the word I was looking for.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    To be fair, I think that “government-administered single-payer system,” whether at the national or the state/provincial level, *is* what most people who use the phrase “socialized medicine” mean by that phrase.

  • Anonymous

     Santorum don’t care about no stinkin’ diplomacy. That might involve thinking that other people are … you know, PEOPLE. That everyone who disagrees with him are not demons in disguise.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    I think that “multi-sided dice” is gamer shorthand for “dice with multiple numbers of sides,” as opposed to “dice all of which have six sides.”

    Edit: there sure are a lot of us around here. I do want to nitpick something rrhersh said: the dodecahedron is actually the little-used 12-sided die, probably the one least often rolled, at least in the latest incarnations of D&D (and its offshoot, Pathfinder RPG). The percentile dice have ten sides, and are the only standard RPG dice that actually *aren’t* platonic solids.

  • Anonymous

     Fact check … just don’t use Politifact to do it. Since they appear to have a little problem with the definition of “fact”.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy


    To be fair, I think that “government-administered single-payer system,” whether at the national or the state/provincial level, *is* what most people who use the phrase “socialized medicine” mean by that phrase.

    Well, and speaking only from my own experience, most Americans seem to be unaware of the difference between the NHS (UK) and single-payer (as in Canada) or the health care system in France.

    And, also in my experience, most Americans I talked to about it thought that the Canadian system was either like an HMO (where one went, was billed and then sent the bill in to be approved or denied) or they imagined that all the doctors in Canada were hired by the government and paid directly by the government.

    Or, confusingly, they managed to think both at the same time.

  • Dave W.

     That should be the icosahedron (20-sided, each corner has 5 equilateral triangles coming together) that makes the percentile dice, not the dodecahedron (12-sided, each corner has 3 pentagons coming together).

  • Anonymous

     I had some electronic dice that were kind of cool … about 30 years ago. I’m sure there’s an app for that now, but way back when, I had a gadget that looked kind of like a remote with a double line of little lights. You set the number of ‘sides’ for the die, press a button and it would ‘roll’ them for you. I think it might have been called a Dragon Bone. Anyone remember this?

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    This is an ancient game in many ways; the insistence that hierarchal morality is the only possible morality and the only alternative to the most savage Lovecraftian chaos.  It isn’t particular to the modern US culture war, disheartening as that never-ending nonsense can be to US liberals.  Though in some ways the AKBC may be considered the dark side of American individualism, a side effect of every American child being encouraged to think of themselves as heroic by nature of birth and full of epic promise and import.  In other words it may be considered to be the right wing version of that evil self-esteem thing they go on about from time to time.  

    Fred’s fourth point is a very important one because it is the most dangerous aspect of this mindset.  The desire to believe that pain and danger come mainly in the tangible form of evil people is a Huge part of our obsession with being ‘tough on crime.’  And in some quarters the obsession with foreign enemies real potential or imagined.  

    This mindset is dangerous because it leads a belief that basic mortal vulnerability is in itself proof of a failure to be strong against ‘Them’.  That attaining safety is a simple matter of fighting and punishing hard enough and long enough until nothing can hurt you and that only cowardly fools who would betray us to exposure would deny this.  Not to be a moral drama queen about it myself, but the AKBC can easily be fuel for fascism, as those of us who lived through early 00′s America may well remember.  

  • Mrs Grimble

    Right now, the Patheos sidebar is showing me an ad saying “Immigrate to the USA!”
    Um…. NO.

  • http://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K


     I think Santorum genuinely believes that women should go from father to husband and therefore all these laws and regulations that encourage women to enter the workforce should be repealed.

    Should “encourage” change to “allow”?  ;)  

    The wink is because women have always worked. Pre-industrial revolution they primarily worked in brewing, agriculture, textiles, and service industries. Their income may have legally belonged to their father/husband, they may have been legally or practically been banned from some fields, but they worked. Actually banning women from the workplace may be somewhere in right-wingers’ brains, but I doubt the results would be what they think – or result in a sustainable society.  Even The Handmaid’s Tale had women workers (assigned by the government and paid in room and board, but workers). 

  • Anonymous

     I recently was down in rural parts of Ohio for a funeral and I found it disturbing how fearful all those people seemed to be. Most of the men talked about break-ins and how they would so have shot those people (most of whom were, of course, local) if they could have been there when the sheriff caught them. Someone was house-sitting because they knew that robbers would break in if people were out at a funeral. You got the impression that all these guys sat around with their shotguns and rifles in their white-knuckled clutch just waiting for bad guys to show up.

    Kind of belies that whole small town friendliness and honesty stereotype.

  • Lori

     

    Kind of belies that whole small town friendliness and honesty stereotype.

    I suspect rural Ohio is pretty similar to the semi-rural part of Indiana
    where I’m living and there are two issues at work. Part of it is definitely people externalizing their general anxiety and imagining something to shoot. That’s not all of it though. The other issue is that small town friendliness and
    honesty are simply no match for 5+ years of grinding recession with no
    end in sight.

    I know one of the local sheriff’s here and he was just
    commenting the other day about how things have changed, especially in the last year or so.
    Crime is genuinely up here. It used to be that if you worked the night shift in the winter you
    would often go your whole shift without taking a single call. Now they have
    multiple calls every night. Domestic disturbance calls are way up, many of them totally terrifying because they involve alcohol or drugs and firearms. The county used to deal with a couple runaways a month, now there’s one nearly every day. Other drug-related issues (mostly meth) and drunken fights of all sorts have increased and so have break-ins. We’ve had 2 armed bank robberies in less than a year after not having any in the previous 5 or so.

    Folks are poor and desperate and getting poorer and more
    desperate. Worse, they’re starting to think things are never going to get better and that there’s no hope for them. When you put people in that position and leave them there eventually the social fabric is going to fray.

    Anyone who thinks that the response to the recession has been even close to adequate needs to come on out and pay us a visit. Anyone who does, and who has any sense at all, is going to get a least a little scared. There’s a limit to how long things can go like this until the shit really hits the fan. Desperate, hopeless and armed is not a good combo.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking that an icosahedral die had to be what was meant.  And though I don’t know what the deal is with the colors, you can combine an icosahedral die and a regular cubic die to get a random 2-digit decimal number simply by tossing out any results with a 6 on the regular die.

    FWIW, I’m familiar with D&D dice; it just amused me that the terminology apparently being used to distinguish them from regular 6-sided dice didn’t actually do that.

    And thinking of the spherical die that Michael Cule brought up, I’d tend to regard a sphere as a polyhedron with infinitely many sides, since if you have some sort of bound on the relative difference between the areas of different sides, then as the number of sides goes to infinity, the polyhedron converges on being spherical. 

    Yeah, lots of us geeks of various sorts here.  Some are mathematicians, some are carpenter’s wives.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     As a friend of mine once commented, after a certain point we generally consider it inhumane to let a cat or dog we know to be incurably injured or ill continue to suffer instead of painlessly euthanizing it.  But come parties consider it inhumane NOT to let a human continue to suffer when in the same position.  It’s sort of weird when you think about it.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a thing of such terrible beauty isn’t it?

    Like Barad-dûr.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I remember a conversation I once read on an Internet forum where someone insisted that she’d be dead in the UK because she has a medical condition that sometimes requires immediate medical attention.  She’d heard that they have long waits for treatment in the UK and somehow seriously thought that meant that if someone comes into the emergency room bleeding to death or having a heart attack or whatnot, then they would schedule that person for an appointment 3 months down the road and then stand around watching them die. 

    Really.  She really thought that.

    The flip side is that one the same forum I read conversations with British members who were clearly just as uneducated about the American health care system… but in the direction of not being able to believe it was as effed up as it actually is.  “‘I know you have uninsured adults, but the government pays for health care for children if their parents can’t afford it, right?  You don’t let CHILDREN go uninsured.  Er… do you?”  “Wait… you mean people there can actually go BANKRUPT because of medical expenses?  I will never complain about the NHS again.”  And so on.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think ‘eliminationist’ is too inflammatory.  In fact I don’t think it’s inflammatory enough.  When someone calls Ann Coulter ‘eliminationist’ I want her to stand up and desperately defend her rhetoric for trying 25% of the country as traitors; because to me it’s a kind of a goddamn big deal to call for the execution of your countrymen.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Normally two ten-sided dice are used in place of a d100. They do manufacture d100s, though. They’re a little smaller than a baseball, and they do not reliably sit still. They’re largely novelties, not incredibly useful for actual gameplay.


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