Archives: February 2004

Sun 29 Feb 2004

Lower MakeFire



Brandy wanted to blog this one, so here's Brandy...

Fire on Aisle 7

Sam recently taught my 8 year old daughter to ride a bike. I know she was a bit old not to have known already, but she's as stubborn as I am and REFUSED to do it until recently. So anyway, it's like her favorite thing now. She is constantly needling Sam to take her bike riding. This time he gave in rather easily, grabbed his helmet, and out they went...only to come running back in quickly to tell me that the place was surrounded with news helicopters.

Cool. Wonder what's happening. There were emergency vehicles directing traffic at a nearby intersection. Were the traffic lights out? Was there a big pile up right under the bridge? Checked the TV, but there was nothing, then checked the radio, thinking maybe there was a big accident on one of the other nearby highways but again, nothing. Strange. I went back into the kitchen to continue what I was doing and they went out to ride, after I promised to follow on foot as soon as I was done.

I went out to find them, and decided first to see what the guys at the corner were doing, and there were a LOT of people walking around, which seemed really kind of strange, but it WAS a nice day. But then I realized...the cops were blocking traffic from coming in OUR direction. That wouldn't be happening if there was an accident on the highway. Curiouser and curiouser. I turned to go back and find the bikers and there it was. Right next to the condo development. Billows of smoke, fire engines, an ambulance. Something big was going down RIGHT NEXT DOOR! I just HAD to check it out! Fortunately, Sam and Amy rode up just then, so I diverted them around the corner, biting my tongue and NOT mentioning anything about Sam misssing what was DIRECTLY under his nose (because it's not like that has ever hapened before). And off we went to watch it burn. Burn, baby, burn! Lots of smoke. Men in uniform. Pretty fire. I like fire. Fire nice...

We watched for a while, actually stood by one of the cart corrals for a little while, and watched the firemen spray away. We took some pictures, since I had the camera to take pictures of Amy riding. There was this "do not cross" tape, but no one seemed to be paying attention, so why should we, right? But then Amy rode her bike right into a tree and the battery in the camera died, so we decided to go back.

I feel kinda bad now, because the last time I went by that store I thought, we should go there next time instead of the Giant. Probably should have done that BEFORE it burned down.

Oops.
Bucks supermarket ravaged by ferocious fire
(Dave Sommers, The Trentonian)
An upscale supermarket known for its distinct selection of foods was destroyed in a spectacular blaze yesterday when a fire that started in nearby shrubbery spread up the building’s outer wall and eventually consumed the entire structure.

Officials said McCaffrey’s Supermarket, one of two anchor stores at the Edgewood Village Shopping Center on Heacock Road, will likely be declared a total loss once investigators get inside and survey the damage.

Police said nearly 200 people were inside the store at around 4 p.m. when some outside bushes and leaves near the building’s southern wall somehow ignited and quickly went up in flames.


Abulsme - Sun, 29 Feb 2004, 11:52:56 PST
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Sat 28 Feb 2004

2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 6 Posted!

Day 6 of the last random trip is now posted! Enjoy!

2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 6

The officer came back to the car and said "Well sirs, I was going to give you all a ticket, but I seem to have lost my pen."

Marilyn said "I think I have one!" and immediately proceeded to search for a pen in her purse.

The officer rolled his eyes and say "You may not have heard me... I *think* I *forgot* my pen!
For those following along, we're getting to the home stretch. Current status:

Days @, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6: Posted
Days 7, 8: Waiting for comments from Marilyn and Chad
Day 9: Done, waiting to post in order

So anyway, should be all out soon, then I can pick the next spot!


Abulsme - Sat, 28 Feb 2004, 07:14:26 PST
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Wed 25 Feb 2004

2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 5 Posted!

Day 5 is finally posted! We are making rapid progress now!

2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 5

First thing, check the GPS.  Altitude...  5957 feet.  I had been at 9165 feet at the top.  This means that I had done a vertical climb of 3208 feet!  Plus a lot of horizontal distance too.  And then back down again!  Go me!  That was a LOT of hiking for Sam!
Status of the whole thing right now:

Days @, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5: Posted
Day 6: All comments received, being prepared for posting
Days 7, 8: Awaiting comments from Marilyn and Chad
Day 9: Finished, waiting to be posted in order

We'll have this thing finished soon! Promise!


Abulsme - Wed, 25 Feb 2004, 22:20:58 PST
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Skittles Too

This morning I noticed that while nowhere near as bad as Cheese, Skittles had hurt her foot too. Was limping a little bit. So made another trip to the vet. Skittles had a little cut and was a bit bruised. Got some anitbiotics for both birds. Will take them BOTH in for follow up in two weeks.

They are both acting basically normal and happy, but both have hurt feet.

Poor little birdies!

Still have no freakin idea how they did it.


Abulsme - Wed, 25 Feb 2004, 12:38:50 PST
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Tue 24 Feb 2004

Cheese Emergency

This morning as I was sitting in my bedroom, I looked over at Cheese and Skittle's cage. They had not been making noise or anything, but the perch was suddenly bright scarlet instead of the normal wood color. I went over. It was clear that one of them was bleeding. A *lot*. I banged on the bathroom door where Brandy was taking a bath, and while she was getting out I determined that while they both had some blood on them, it looked like it was Cheese that was bleeding. From his foot.

I was completely freaking out. I caught Zuri and put her in her cage right away. Zuri had been checking out the little birds, and there was at least a chance that Zuri had bitten Cheese. Brandy doesn't think so though, because for the most part Zuri harrasses the little birds and looks in, but doesn't try to grab them or anything, plus they just step a couple steps away from the side and Zuri can't reach them. Or Cheese could have just caught it on something on the cage. It happens. No way to tell. Whatever it was, the bird hadn't screamed.... I was in the room, I heard nothing. Just looked up and saw blood. :-(

Brandy caught cheese and first told me to get some kind of funky pencil that I had never heard of, must less had, then toilet paper. While she was trying to find the wound on Cheese and start applying pressure, I caught Skittles just to triple check Skittles wasn't injured too. Skittles seemed fine.

While Brandy was applying pressure to try to stop the bleeding, we called the local bird vert and they told us to come right in. We got Cheese into a little box full of toilet paper and started rushing to the vet. I was so scattered, Brandy was afraid I was going to run over her as she was getting in the car.

Cheese was still bleeding in the box. It was his left foot for sure. We got to the vet and it seemed like forever doing paper work and then waiting for the vet. And Cheese was starting to get sleepy. We were trying to keep her awake. Budgies don't have very much blood to begin with, and Cheese had lost a lot. Birds in this kind of situation often bleed to death. Brandy wispered to me that she didn't think Cheese was going to make it.

The vet confirmed that the foot was cut open. Pretty badly. Not just that. The bone was broken.

The vet first gave Cheese intravenous fluids to counter the blood loss. The needle was practically bigger than the bird. The vet tech held Cheese's head and pulled the feathers back, and the vet injected a whole bunch of saline.

Then he took little tiny pieces of surgical tape and splinted up the toe that was broken and wrapped it tight. Both to prevent any more bleeding, and to set the broken bone.

The vet said that Brandy had done good stopping or slowing down most of the bleeding, and the fluids and split should be enough, and that Cheese should recover. The splint needs to stay on for two weeks. For now Cheese needs to be in a seperate cage, although he should be back to himself in a couple days. In the mean time, he'll probably be really quiet compared to normal.

On the way out as I was paying the $90 for the vet visit, Brandy talked to Cheese: "You are one lucky bird you know, that is four times more than you cost!". :-)

We took Cheese home, stopping on the way to get a mini cage where he could hang out seperately, but not have too much room to get rambunctious.

Anyway, everybody is home now. I was very worried and had to work hard to keep it together for awhile, and sort of collapsed as soon as I got home. But it looks like Cheese is going to be OK. If we can just keep him from eating the splint on his foot.

Whew!


Abulsme - Tue, 24 Feb 2004, 10:09:12 PST
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Fri 20 Feb 2004

Pets, People, Pictures

As I sent out blog entries over the past few months announcing the new pets and such, a lot of people asked for pictures. For completeness I thought I'd just show everybody currently in the household as it were. So here is a quick look at everybody.

Pets and People


Abulsme - Fri, 20 Feb 2004, 08:30:40 PST
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Thu 19 Feb 2004

(Minter vs Page) and Mathematics

My father's site is apperantly getting some attention. One of his posts was talked about in comparison with a Clarence Page piece in the Washington Times. The person doing the comparison was a Professor from Indiana University in an opinion piece in the Indianapolis Star.

A link between reparations, forgiving African debt
(Philip Rutledge, Indianapolis Star)

A few days later, William Minter's somewhat crusading AfricaFocus Bulletin (africafocus@igc.org) arrived, with the headline, "Africa: Who Owes Whom?" In addition to Minter's own analysis of the debt situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the electronic Bulletin reposts extensive material from the Web site of the American Friends Service Committee (www.afsc.org/africa-debt) and other sources, painting a sordid picture of "odious debt" and alleged misdeeds by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, with some myopia by U.S. officials.
(via AfricaFocus)

The article where my father mentioned the editorial, is also interesting, highlighting some arward winning Internet efforts coming out of Africa, where Internet penetration is still far less than in other parts of the world. My favorite part of the article are actually the added notes on the Botswanan Basket Weavers, where the patterns are linked to Mathematics!

Africa: Internet Creativity
(AfricaFocus)
The intricacy of the patterns are illustrative of a subject that also well represented in sources on the web: the history of mathematics in Africa. See, among the many sources:

(1) African Mathematical Union, Commission for the History of Mathematics in Africa
http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/AMU/amuchma_online.html

(2) Plaited strip patterns on Tonga handbags in Inhambane (Mozambique), by Paulus Gerdes
http://www.mi.sanu.ac.yu/vismath/gerdtonga
Non-mathematicians can enjoy the patterns and skip the math.

(3) Review of Women, Art, and Geometry in Southern Africa, by Paulus Gerdes
http://www.maa.org/reviews/wagsa.html
My father and I do have *some* interests in common you know. :-)


Abulsme - Thu, 19 Feb 2004, 13:26:08 PST
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Primary Methods

An interesting thing is going on in Washington State right now. Due to court orders invalidating the system they have used in the past, they are redesigning the process used to pick candidates for various state elections.

Third option pitched for new state primary system
(David Ammons, Associated Press on Seattle PI)

The latter approach, strongly backed by Secretary of State Sam Reed, has been dubbed the "Top Two" plan, or a modified blanket primary. It would allow the top two vote-getters for each office to advance to the November runoff.
I really like this system. Basically, anybody of any party (or no party) who meets a minimum criterea that is the same for everybody appears on an initial primary ballot. Then the top two vote getters (and only the top two) appear in the general election, which effectively becomes a run off. The top two could be of the same party, or of different parties. Doesn't matter. Some see this as a downside, I see it as a positive. It makes the process completely independant of the parties. It takes them away from the priveledged position they have occupied, and puts them back into the position of being private organizations that happen to push candidates, rather than semi-official governmentally recognized units. All the better.

Now, it still isn't as good as a proper preferencial voting system whereby when people vote they don't just pick one person, but instead rank all the candidates in order by preference, and then sequential runoffs are held automatically knocking off one candidate at a time until the winner is choosen... That would give much better results, but is typically considered too complicated for the average voter and will never happen.

The kind of setup being proposed in Washington (and already used in some places I believe) is the next best thing. I hope it happens!


Abulsme - Thu, 19 Feb 2004, 11:50:31 PST
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Brandy Day

The silly calandars we use would have the anniverary being yesterday. But that doesn't properly take into account of how leap years affect things, or the non-integer number of days in a year. So according to my calculations, it was ACTUALLY this morning at 05:51:45 UTC (12:51:45 AM Eastern Time) that Brandy was an even number of years old. I shall refrain from mentioning the exact number of years.

In any case, Brandy just passed a birthday milestone TODAY, and she is kind of bummed because she is under doctors orders to stay in bed for four days straight because her back is acting up. So we were not able to go out or do anything fun for her birthday. And I messed it up more by running out with Amy to buy presents... which took way longer than I thought it would... so therefore she was home alone stuck in bed for longer than she should have been. My fault, my bad.

Anyway, since she is all stuck in bed and bored out of her mind and such, email Brandy and wish her happy birthday and keep her entertained and stuff.

[Edit: Fixed a typo in Brandy's email address as per Al's comment. Thanks Al!]


Abulsme - Thu, 19 Feb 2004, 07:04:07 PST
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Wed 18 Feb 2004

2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 4 Posted!

At long last, another day of the 2003 Q3 vacation is complete and posted. I know a lot of you had almost given up and stopped asking, but here it is. Enjoy!

2003 Q3 Random Vacation - Day 4

Right about then, I was looking up and saw a HUGE fireball go by over head. Not just a shooting star, but a big blazing fireball.

I got excited and tried to point it out to Chad and my arm darted out to point...

And I slapped Chad hard on the back of his head.

Oops.
OK, for those wondering what the hold up is, here is the current status:

Days @, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4: Posted
Days 5, 6, 7, 8: Waiting for Marilyn's Comments
Day 9: Done, just waiting for the other days to be done first

So, everybody, please feel free to bug Marilyn to tell her to just spend a few minutes a day and get her part done, so this thing can be posted and we can get on to picking the next random vacation!!!


Abulsme - Wed, 18 Feb 2004, 11:50:20 PST
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AfricaFocus Donations

My dad recently initiated a voluntary donation / subscription for his African issues related mailing list. He is doing it out of pocket right now, not supported by any grants or foundations or anything, so donations would be useful! I sent in a donation as soon as his email about it went out.

From his email to his subscribers:

I am writing to announce a new subscription policy and to request your support. After three months of publishing AfricaFocus Bulletin, I find your messages of encouragement convincing evidence of the continuing need for such a publication. But continuing and expanding AfricaFocus Bulletin and the companion AfricaFocus website also require more tangible support.

Therefore I am asking all readers who are able to afford it, particularly those living in North America and Europe, to make a voluntary subscription payment to support the publication. The payment is not required - in this sense the information you receive will remain free. This is essential to meet the objective of wide availability, including continued service to the estimated 15 percent or more of subscribers who are in Africa, and outreach to students and others outside Africa just beginning to seek out information about African issues.

However, those of you who regularly rely on the Bulletin will be asked at intervals to pay for your subscription. As an independent publication AfricaFocus Bulletin is not subsidized by any government, foundation, or organization. Instead, I am seeking your support as readers to make this service sustainable. The business model is similar to computer shareware for which the creator seeks voluntary payments from those who appreciate the product.

The minimum payment suggested ($10/year) comes out to less than 10 cents an issue. I hope that those of you who have told me you find the information particularly valuable will consider sending a larger amount.

I know most of those who read the stuff I put out are not into following African issues, but if you are even curious, check out his site AfricaFocus, and visit the Support Page.


Abulsme - Wed, 18 Feb 2004, 08:34:23 PST
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Sat 14 Feb 2004

Well, duh!

Isn't one of the very first things one learns about doing research involving human sources, even the normal non-classified, non-sensitive kind, that one needs to know the motives of your sources and what their agendas might be in order to evaluate the information coming from them?? This holds for evaluating the information you hear on television news, that you read in the newspaper, and when you are looking things up in old books at the library. Who woulda thunk it also applies when you are the administration of the world's most powerful country and you are talking to people whose whole lives have been dedicated to trying to arrange the resources to go back to their country and overthrow Saddam? They exaggerated and told them what they wanted to hear to justify an invasion? Oh my gosh!!! I never would have guessed that was even possible!!!!

Exiles' prewar data assailed
(Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay, Philadelphia Inquirer)

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that almost all of the Iraqi defectors whose information helped make the Bush administration's case against Saddam Hussein exaggerated what they knew, fabricated tales, or were "coached" by others on what to say.


Abulsme - Sat, 14 Feb 2004, 07:20:21 PST
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Goodbye Angel

I didn't watch Angel from the beginning, and haven't been completely religous about making sure to watch all the episodes, but it is one of the shows I've watched the last couple years, and I even have some of the DVDs. Goodbye Angel!

It's Over in Five for 'Angel'
(Kate O'Hare, Zap2it.com)

Early Friday (Feb. 13) an announcement was made to the cast and crew at The WB's "Angel" that this season, the show's fifth, will be its last. "It's official enough to know it's real," David Greenwalt, who co-created the series with Joss Whedon, tells Zap2it.com, "but I haven't talked to anybody at the network or the studio. I can tell you that it's real, that it makes Mr. Whedon and myself very sad, that we wish it had kept going and we thought it was only getting better.
(via TivoCommunity)


Abulsme - Sat, 14 Feb 2004, 07:06:20 PST
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Fri 13 Feb 2004

Skittles and Cheese

The menagerie is now complete. I've had Nacho the budgie for years. I got Nala the anole for Christmas. In early January I got Zuri the ringneck.

But Nacho still needed a friend her own size. Last week when I was at a petstore getting crickets for Nala to eat, I was looking in the budgie cage, and saw one spunky little budgy pulling a sprig of millet across the floor, and fighting off all comers tug of war style to keep his millet. I almost got him right there, but was not quite ready. I remembered what he looked like, and decided that if he was still there next time I got to that petstore, he would be coming with me.

So, of course, today I was at the petstore with Brandy and Amy, and sure enough, that budgie was still there! He had a little yellow spot on the back of his head, and a pretty bright green tail, and was smaller than most of the rest, so he was pretty easy to recognize. But there was also a pretty blue guy there too this time.

So I got both.

The green one I had seen initially, is now named Cheese, because he looks very similar to Nacho (except younger and thinner) and so together they will be Nacho Cheese.

The blue one is now named Skittles, because on the way home in the car, he was skittering around in his box the whole way.

Cheese was one of the smaller budgies at the petstore. Skittles is almost a head smaller than cheese! He is a little guy! And they are both really babies. Skittles walked on my hand as soon as we got him out of his box back home though. He seems like a friendly little guy. And cheese is all feisty.

Anyway, this is *IT* for pets. Really!

Well, maybe a glofish or two later.

I know a lot of people have been asking for pictures. I'll try to post some photos of the whole bunch before too much longer.


Abulsme - Fri, 13 Feb 2004, 20:48:31 PST
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Thu 12 Feb 2004

Phatback

Al has a blog now! Go Al! I am looking forward to all the fun posts. I'll be adding this to my blogroll on the left shortly.

Phatback

Is this thing on?

# posted by Albert : 7:11 PM


Abulsme - Thu, 12 Feb 2004, 20:56:02 PST
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Wed 11 Feb 2004

100 Months of Sam's Email Top Ten!!!

As many of you know, for the last 100 months I have held a monthly email contest. I kind of can't believe I've been doing this silly thing for a whole 100 months. That is eight years and four months! Wow!

In any case, to celebrate the 100th month of the contest, I took a suggestion made by Rebecca, and created a retrospective on all the winners of the contest during those 100 months. Check it out!

First 100 Months Retrospective

Below is some information on each of the 16 people who over the last 100 months have found themselves at the #1 spot on the monthly email top ten lists.  It is in order by the month the person first made the #1 spot.  Thank you to each and every one of these people for sending email and making my computing life fun over the years.  You guys are all great.  Looking forward to the next 100 months...
If you are reading this, and have not yet won, perhaps now is the time to start sending me more email!


Abulsme - Wed, 11 Feb 2004, 19:53:06 PST
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January 2004 Top Ten Posted

A little bit ago I annouced the results to the winners, but they are now public. Here are the results of the January 2004 email top ten contest. (Which was, by the way, the 100th month of the contest!)

January 2004 Top Ten

January was the month that Erica Livingston decided that she really wanted to win the month. She started out the month sending around 30 messages a day. Sometimes less, sometimes more. As the month progressed she started increasing her pace. Then on the 24th of the month she went into overdrive and sent 321 emails in a single day. This compares to the 246 emails she send in ALL of 2003. After that, she started putting the brakes on again as the end of the month approached.


Abulsme - Wed, 11 Feb 2004, 16:58:17 PST
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Strategic Voting Bubbles

Coming back again to the difficulties caused by "strategic voting" rather than people just voting for the candidate who is closest to their own views. It just leads to all sorts of heisenbergian effects and distortions of the process. I'm not sure the "bubble" posited below will come to pass, but it might, and is just another example on the process feeding on itself in unhealthy ways.

Kerry 36,000
(Noam Scheiber, The New Republic)

Kerry is clearly benefiting from the fact that people think other people are going to vote for him down the road, which is why they're voting for him now; they're not voting for him because he's the candidate they personally want to be president. As Chait points out, this is classic bubble behavior--you buy a stock not because it's intrinsically valuable, but because other people are buying it and the price is going up (and you think both of these things is likely to continue). The problem with bubbles, both in politics and in financial markets, is that they tend to deflate just as rapidly as they inflate.


Abulsme - Wed, 11 Feb 2004, 11:16:01 PST
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Mon 09 Feb 2004

Abulsme vs the Jackal

Now that Rebecca has registered her blog Home-Schooled By a Cackling Jackal on the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem I've added a line for her on my chart of my own Ecosystem ranking. We can see over time how our two blogs fare. Now, I don't write much that others would want to link to, and I don't go fishing for links from other people, so I'll probably just continue to drop. Rebecca may rise. We shall see.

TTLB Rankings Graph

One thing is odd though. Right now both of us link to each other. That should be reflected in our stats at the ecosystem, but right now it shows both of us linked to by nobody. Our links to each other should be showing up! Darn it!

I update this graph periodically (every couple weeks or so) but I don't usually post to the main blog about it unless something interesting is happening. So if you are interested in the graph, remember to check it occationally on your own.

Now that Reb is on TTLB, next thing will be to get her to add the ICBM metadata to her meta data so she can show up automatically on localfeeds and the various other geographical based systems. If you want to Rebecca, I have your latitude and longitude info! Just ask! :-)


Abulsme - Mon, 9 Feb 2004, 21:04:23 PST
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Earpiece Conspiracy

This is kind of funny. Probably just another conspiracy kook, but on the other hand, I could *so* see W doing this! But only in certain situations. Meet the Press is not one of those.

Bush The Articulate - Hearing Voices
(Jay Weidner, Radio Free USA)

Watch the next speech. Notice how he pauses between sentences. His eyes veer robotically left and right. He then begins his next sentence. It is clear to me that these pauses are placed into the speeches on purpose so that the earpiece voice prompter does not get too far ahead of the President. Our beloved President has become an articulate spokesman for the ruinous destruction of our country. Isn't showbiz grand?
More evidence that Bush wears an earpiece
(Editor, Radio Free USA)
An email to Meet The Press asking whether Bush wore an earpiece during the interview received a lightning quick response from Executive Producer Betsy Fischer: "The President was not wearing an earpiece at any time during the interview."
(via Anthony Trumbo)

I haven't actually watched the Meet the Press Interview yet. It is on the Tivo though.


Abulsme - Mon, 9 Feb 2004, 05:43:47 PST
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Sun 08 Feb 2004

Final 2003 Email Rankings

The complete email results for 2003 have now been posted. This includes not just the top ten for the year, but as usual, the full counts broken down by month for anybody who sent me at least one personal email any time during the year. Enjoy!

Final 2003 Rankings

* I received 23663 personal emails. (Up 124% from 2002)
* On average that is 1972 messages per month, or 65 messages per day
* That email came from 258 different email addresses. (Up 26% from last year!)
* The top ten accounted for 85% of the email. (Up from 81% in 2002)
* 22 addresses made the monthly top tens this year. (Up from 18 in 2002)
* The lowest ranked monthly top ten winner on the annual list was ivanbou@compuserve.com (Ivan Bou) who came in at #25 for the year
* The highest ranked address that never made the monthly lists in 2003 was renshine@yahoo.com (Rеni Gorman) who came in at #19 for the year.


Abulsme - Sun, 8 Feb 2004, 16:45:33 PST
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Sat 07 Feb 2004

December 2003's Top Ten

Those who made the list found out several weeks ago, but now, posted for the public, December 2003's Top Ten Email list.

December 2003

Meanwhile, Matt decided he really liked keyboard shortcuts. Based on one message as a template that he could reply to, he would hit the shortcut for reply a few dozen times, then the shortcut for send a few dozen times. Shooting off absolutely identical emails very very quickly. I was online when this started, and immediately called him on using automation, which is against the rules of the contest, and is not counted. He explained his little keyboard method, and insisted that it was manual and not automated, and required work for each email. I was not overly impressed, but grudgingly admitted that some manual work had occurred. They were however completely identical emails, sometimes with many coming in a single second. There was no way to distinguish real emails for extra duplicates created by a filing error or various other things. I informed Matt that his actions were borderline, and he needed to be creating like other people who have tried over the years, and like Erica this month.


Abulsme - Sat, 7 Feb 2004, 20:34:29 PST
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Fri 06 Feb 2004

Goodbye Old Bull

Today in the mail I got the pay stub confirming that the last severance payment from my old employer has been direct deposited in my account. So at this point I am completely done with that part of my life. Goodbye Old Bull! Shall I say good riddance? Nah. They did a lot for me, especially in the first few years. Out of the just under 7 years I was there, I'd say the 3 were really good, 1 was horrible, and 3 were "bleh". But overall, it was a good experience, and there are certain aspects of it I will miss. But it was definately time to move on.

There is one opportunity that is percolating right now that looks very good, and would involve a move away from Pennsylvania, even though I just got here. I have mentioned it to a few people in person and in email, but I won't be saying anything more here until it is certain. I give it a good chance right now, but nothing has been finalized yet. So we shall see. With luck, it will come through and I can start there before I run out of available funds and have to start selling kidneys to pay the mortgage. (Not that anyone would want mine. :-)

More news when there is actual news. :-)


Abulsme - Fri, 6 Feb 2004, 15:12:19 PST
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Thu 05 Feb 2004

Presidental Succession Issues

I've always liked looking at the details of things such as the succession laws, electoral college procedures, and things like that. Because often times we think so much about how things NORMALLY work, that we forget that what really happens in extreme situations is not determined the way one might guess if one didn't know, but instead by all sorts of arcane details that just never normally come into play in a way that makes a difference. The two articles below talk about some of the currently exisiting "holes" in the rules for what happens when there is death or disability in the Presidential or Vice-Presidental slots. Very interesting stuff.

Constitutional Accidents Waiting To Happen - Again
(Akhil Amar and Vikram Amar, FindLaw)

America cannot always prevent tragedy, but America often can, with relative ease, minimize the constitutional damage resulting from political assassins and the like. Yet the country's current legal framework is notably flawed - a series of constitutional accidents waiting to happen, and in some cases waiting to happen again... we shall briefly catalogue some of the problems that can occur, and some simple nonpartisan solutions that lawmakers should adopt now - before tragedy strikes again. In future columns, we will offer more details; today we paint the big picture of continued constitutional unpreparedness.
(via OxBlog)

And also pointed to by OxBlog, even more in an earlier article by the same folks and some discussion in the New York Times of similar issues for the Congress.


Abulsme - Thu, 5 Feb 2004, 07:46:43 PST
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Poor Little Penguins

Penguins Take Precipitous Fall From the Top
(Joe Lapointe, New York Times)

Twice the Stanley Cup champions, in 1991 and 1992, the Penguins are caught in hockey's perfect storm. They have a low budget, the National Hockey League's oldest arena, poor attendance and the worst record among the 30 teams. On this night against the Lightning, most of the scattered customers sat quietly, as if frozen. Even the beer stand behind the center-ice seats was closed.
I don't follow sports. I don't follow hockey. I don't follow the Pens. But I do remember with fondness back in 91 and 92, my friends Chad, Al and Ivan, and perhaps others, sitting in my apartment sometimes to watch the Pens playoff games. I would sit behind my computer and pretend not to watch because sports was beneath me and all, but I watched, and watching Mario do his tricks was indeed fun, even if I had no conception of the rules of the game at all. It even prompted me to watch a few more Pens playoff games in later years, and even go to one in person a couple years ago with Rebecca and Chris. It was fun. I enjoyed it. I saw Mario do his thing, although not quite as nice as in 91 and 92, and they lost.

Anyway... shame to see this kind of story about them. Sniff. Oh well! Now I'll go back to knowing absolutley nothing about this sort of thing for the next year. Just happened to stumble on the article. :-)


Abulsme - Thu, 5 Feb 2004, 07:35:38 PST
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Cheney and Scalia Sitting in a Tree

I don't have too much to say other than this really should be a straightforward issue here. There is obviously a personal relationship of some sort here, what with the hunting and flying around on Air Force 2, and Scalia should remove himself from the case. Even if it isn't technically required, not doing so does not look good, and he should do it as a simple matter of his own integrity, and that of the court.

Scalia Was Cheney Hunt Trip Guest; Ethics Concern Grows
(David G. Savage and Richard A. Serrano, LA Times on Yahoo)

The revelation cast further doubts about whether Scalia can be an impartial judge in Cheney's upcoming case before the Supreme Court, legal ethics experts said. The hunting trip took place just weeks after the high court agreed to take up Cheney's bid to keep secret the details of his energy policy task force.


Abulsme - Thu, 5 Feb 2004, 07:27:45 PST
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Tue 03 Feb 2004

OK, *Now* Kerry is Ahead

OK, with the results of today's primaries, Kerry *has* pulled ahead on delegates. In the comments to my last post on the delegate count, Randy posted lots of quotes about how Dean was dead, and asserted such himself. I just want to clarify that I was not disputing that fact.

I was complaining about the meta-talk in the media. All about the horserace. It all gets to be self-furfilling prophesy and all that. Everybody keeps hearing about how such and such is the front runner, or such and such is dropping, and people reevaluate their opinions of the candidates based on that sort of thing rather than on which candidates they actually agree with. Shame really.

Some of this would be alleviated if all the primaries were on the same day. But of course that would be less interesting. It would make brokered conventions much more likely though, which would be a REAL blast. I'm still hoping for one this year, but I guess things will probably consolidate like they usually do. We'll see.

Anyway, I found another delegate total page. I like this graphical chart from CNN. I'll probably be dropping it in my blogroll on the left and checking it regularly until things are settled. Check it out.

CNN Delegate Scorecard

The information on this page represents the current delegate count for each candidate by state. As candidates drop out, state parties refine their count or assign additional delegates, and unpledged delegates make their preference public, these numbers will be updated.


Abulsme - Tue, 3 Feb 2004, 19:21:21 PST
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Political Book Mapping

This is a great analysis. Wish I'd thought of it!! It is tempting to go out and do a similar types of maps on different groupings of books. In any case, check it out. Fun analysis. And it uses graph theory!

Political Patterns on the WWW

I used the political books on the New York Times Bestseller List as a starting point for 'snowball sampling'. In the network map above, two books are linked if they were bought together. The network is organized and displayed by an algorithm that looks at the pattern of connections and finds the emergent structure. Nodes with only one or two links, and unrelated clusters that had no bridging role, were removed for clarity.
(via BoingBoing)


Abulsme - Tue, 3 Feb 2004, 18:29:01 PST
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I Am A Pennsylvanian

A few hours ago I went and took care of the last thing related to my move from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. I had already moved where I slept. And I moved all my stuff. And I got PA plates on my car. I did address changes on all my bills. Today I got a Pennsylvania drivers licence. They actually looked up the old licence I had in Pittsburgh, and I got the same drivers licence number as before. And so here I am, once again completely a resident of the great state of Pennsylvania.

At least for now.

I do regret that I forgot to take a picture of my NJ licence before I turned it in. Drat! Oh well.

But I am now fully Pennsylvanian! I guess. :-)


Abulsme - Tue, 3 Feb 2004, 18:00:22 PST
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Mon 02 Feb 2004

Delegate Counts

The way the media has been going talking about Iowa and New Hampshire, and Kerry's wins there, you'd think he was crushing, and nobody else was even really in the picture, although there is some looking toward how Edwards will do in the round of voting coming up in the next 24 hours. But, one must remember that the vote totals in the primaries and such are not really what matters. What matters is Delegates to the convention. Some of those are allocated by primaries and caucuses. There are also superdelegates who are just prominant members of the party that can vote for whoever they want.

In terms of total numbers of delgates who are already committed, Dean is still ahead. It may not stay that way. But the situation right now is actually much closer than you would gather by looking at the reports.

Cumulative Delegate Totals
(USA Today)

114 - Howard Dean
103 - John Kerry
41 - John Edwards
31 - Wesley Clark
25 - Joseph Lieberman
That's the current top 5. Of course, we'll see how that changes after the voting today.


Abulsme - Mon, 2 Feb 2004, 17:20:01 PST
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