Archives: December 2007
Mon 31 Dec 2007
Curmudgeon's Corner: The Importance of Third
Sam talks about:
- Sam's Computer Woes
- MacWorld Prospects
- Iowa Democrats
- Iowa Republicans
- Third Place Matters
- Hoping for Chaos
- That Odd Interholiday Time
- Graphic Violence Redux
- Multiple Sources
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Sun 30 Dec 2007
So I did the system install and that took a couple of hours. Then I went ahead and did Migration Assistant to move stuff over from my old system. That took about 28 hours or so. It looks like all the normal user stuff is there. I haven't spent time making sure everything is all happy though. I had assumed it wouldn't transfer over my trash, which is where those bad files are, but it looks like it did. I'll have to investigate that later. I essentially now have a backup though, so I'll feel more confident doing more aggressive things to get rid of those files.
Right now I have it doing software updates to get back up to speed with the last few months of updates.
After that I'll have to work on restoring the webserver, php and mysql stuff I'd set up before, which I'm pretty sure is not there at the moment... but which is of course all on the old drive. I should be able to move it all over pretty easily I hope.
But all that will probably wait until morning.
DVD: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 2nd Season: Disk 5
It has been a long time, so it was time for another Buffy. The next in line was Disk 5 of Season 2. This had four episodes.
- Passion: Everybody still reacting to evil Angel. Angel kills Ms. Calendar. That's about it.
- Killed by Death: Buffy in the hospital, a death thing is killing children
- I Only Have Eyes for You: Ghosts at the school relive a murder suicide
- Go Fish: The swim team turns into murderous fish things
Anyway, of these the first one is the only one that really moves forward the overall season arc. The rest are just one offs for the most part (with the occational scene pushing the arc). Decent episodes, but not great. And that's all I have to say about that.
Sat 29 Dec 2007
Very interesting analysis of how much exposure the various candidates got in the debates. Well worth the read:
Graphing Debate Time by Candidate
(Charles Franklin, Political Arithmetik)
A brief break from polls to comment on graphics and politics. Today's New York Times has an op-ed by NBC's political director Chuck Todd and a graphic designed by Nicholas Felton. The text and graphic are here. The text describes the data (quite completely-- an unusual but welcome touch!) noting that candidates are stratified by time in rough line with their poll standing and that debates played a part in both the rise of Mike Huckabee and the slippage of Hillary Clinton.
When what we want to compare are magnitudes, rather than shares of a whole, the data are more clearly presented as distances rather than areas. It is easy to compare which distances are longer than others, and relatively difficult to see differences between the areas of pie slices, especially when the slices are not adjacent to each other.
So let's look at the same data in a different format and see what we can see.
I am now in the process of doing a completely clean system install on my external drive for my Mac. After that I will semi-manually start transferring everything over from my internal drive. (OK, maybe I'll use the Migration Assistant for some stuff.) But I'll have to do tons of stuff from scratch. Wish me luck, I may be offline for awhile. (And of course my webcam and the wiki will be down while this is in progress.)
Now, I don't actually no for sure that my recent woes are because of my iunternal drive having issues, or that they are because of years of cruft built up through multiple OS upgrades using the upgrade process rather than archive and install or clean installs. But I'm willing to give it a try and see what it does.
Also, when recovering from my mail meltdown I found that one version (I had several) of a mailbox file from October 1999 was corrupted. That original mailbox file could not have been more than a few hundred meg max, but the system now thought it was 33 Gig. And when I try to open the folder... or empty the trash with the folder in the trash... Finder chugs for an hour or two then crashes and restarts with nothing done. It did let me COPY the directory though, so now I have 66 Gig of unusable messed up directory. And I know I have other copies of the content that was in that now messed up directory. So I'm not too concerned about it. But I couldn't figure out a way to kill it in a way that didn't make me nervous given that at the moment I have no recent backup of my system.
So, although I guess it may be overkill, I guess reinstalling the whole system on a new hard drive and then copying everything EXCEPT the corrup directory might do the trick. :-)
We shall see. As I type (on another computer obviously) the initial system install is about 30% done. After it comes up I then will migrate my relevant content and settings, then reinstall needed applications, then start working on getting the webcam and wiki and such all operating again... this could take quite awhile. I am starting early Saturday to allow the worst case of this taking all weekend. I hope that will not be the case.
Bleh. And then if I end up continuing to run on the external drive for the semi-long-term, I'll probably snag a second external drive to to backups too. Cause I'm not sure I'd want to backup back into the external drive even if I could.
If I get this all working though, at some point I might try reformatting the external drive then restoring back onto it to see if that works smoothly again or not. (Separating out the possible bad drive issue from the crufty upgrade on top of upgrade potential issue... I've done nothing but upgrade installs since OS 9... well... and one system migration to a new machine as well I guess... so maybe only the last upgrade really counts... but whatever.)
Anyway, wish me luck. :-)
Fri 28 Dec 2007
In the days after the beginning of the current gulf war (before the days of this blog) I remember talking to several friends via email about the radical difference in the coverage of the war on the mainstream US news networks and what one was being shown and reported in the rest of the world, specifically in middle eastern news outlets. Because of the internet it was now possible to find and see some of that coverage. Due to language barriers the TEXT was often not easily accessible, but one thing that stood out immediately was the PICTURES. The US versions were cropped, sanitized and heavily censored. Usually not by any governmental authoority or anything, this was self-censorship by the major media outlets. You would look at some middle Eastern news site covering the results of some bombing and you would see blood and gore and mangled body parts and pictures that were often downright horrific. Horrific, but obviously reality. On CNN or the like you would see a close up of someone crying or whatnot, but you would rarely see the horror and gore that surrounded them.
I felt that this was dramatically distorting how we viewed this war, and conflicts we were involved in generally. (I felt the same thing by the way on the more explicit pictures of the September 11th aftermath.) The various bombings and casualties inflicted by us might well be justified. And perhaps some of that can be viewed by observing the results of the attacks ON us and balancing them in some way. But one can not make an honest deliberation on that by just looking at "X number were killed today". Yes, it is a number, it is a measurement, and measurements are important. But they allow one to gloss over the reality of what is actually happening. Actually SEEING it, and seeing it directly, without filters or sanitization, gives one the real picture. It is much easier to say, for instance, that collateral civilian casualties are "unfortunate, but necessary" when it is just a number than when you actually see the remains of the child that was killed with all the mess of reality. Now, it may sometimes actually STILL be truly a necessity for some larger important goal... but if one is to make that judgment, one really needs to do so with one's eyes wide open, staring that reality straight in the face, rather than hiding from it behind numbers and euphemisms.
Wonkette has been mostly useless and annoying since Ana Marie Cox left, but in the last couple of days Megan Carpenter has taken up this exact topic mentioned above in a "snark free" way, and it brought me right back to those thoughts I had back in 2001 & 2003. Her two recent posts:
This is of course in the context of the Bhutto assassination and some of the pictures taken there. The first post has a gallery of some of those pictures, unsanitized.
Now, basically mainstream news in the US is almost completely useless at this point. Definitely TV news. Except when big breaking news like this happens the front page of cnn.com for instance is usually filled with meaningless uninportant crap. (I mean, even now with Bhutto still leading the news, above the fold on CNN are stories about the Tiger escape in California, something about a murder/suicide in PA, a freak accident a toddler was involved in and some other random stuff that may be interesting from a fark.com sort of perspective, but which in no way is actually important or informative on larger issues.) Some of the newspapers are still a bit better, but are a shadow of what they were decades ago. It is a shame.
But in any case, they are showing the cleaned up stuff because they can tell you the facts, but not have the sort of image that would potentially make someone upset and change the channel (or decide not to buy the newspaper again the next day, or go to the website, or whatever). And of course because kids might be watching and we want to protect the kids. Yeah, OK, whatever. But it also doesn't really give the full reality of the situation. Of whatever happened. It doesn't make you as mad, or as upset, or care as much. It lets you sit back fat dumb and happy, looking at things clinically without understanding or caring about the human reality.
Now, if every day we saw graphic images from the wars we are involved in (or for that matter other wars, or just plain crime scenes in our own cities) would we get completely immune to it and still not care? Maybe. And maybe most people would just decide to look away because they would rather not see the reality. But perhaps also it would just enable us to have a better perception of the reality of situations, and be better able to evaluate the consequences to what we are doing. Because we would take away the soft focus filter and be able to see something a little closer to "truth" (whatever that is).
Of course, there are still issues of such things distorting things in other directions... the horrible thing we have pictures of suddenly being far more vivid and consequential than the horrible thing for which there are no available pictures, or which aren't even capturable in pictures...
And sometimes seeing the full reality of a situation can just inflame people's emotions and lead toward further escalations, when perhaps a little careful censorship could keep a lid on things by just keeping people a bit calmer...
So there is no perfect answer.
And hey look, I don't WANT to look at the extremely graphic pictures of human beings killed or maimed either. It is not pleasant. It is horrifying. But I think when trying to formulate opinions on events, it is IMPORTANT to see that reality ANYWAY. And I think every time the media blurs something out of a picture, or crops it to not show the "disturbing" bits, or chooses not to show anything at all, they are doing a massive disservice... because they are letting their viewers/readers/whatever develop an internal viewpoint on the events that is cleaner and less horrifying than reality... and which therefore is a fundamental misrepresentation of what is happening... and therefore results in opinions and viewpoints... and then actions by decision makers... that are fundamentally divorced from the facts of the situation. And while there may of course be exception cases, and of course nobody can ever have a complete omnicient view of all of the facts and reality of a situation... it seems like willfully excluding a significant part of the reality of a situation from the picture is not the way to produce eduicated viewpoints that can lead toward good decisions on the right course of action.
And you know, no, it is not good enough to just say something was horrible or horrific. That just does not have the same effect as SEEING it. It is important to SEE these things.
Now, in this particular case, the aftermath of the Bhutto assassination, does it fundamentally change or alter my opinion on the events in the region? No. Perhaps not. But does it give me a better and more complete view of what went on? Yes. I think it does. Is it worth it? I think it is.
At least these days with the wealth of sources available on the Internet, one gets to see events like this from many different perspectives, including some more graphic than others. It is no longer the case that if the big media outlets don't say it or show it that it becomes a lot of work to find alternatives. This is a very good thing.
Thu 27 Dec 2007
For the last couple of hours I've been half sleeping, half watching BBC World with breaking news on the Bhutto assassination. (The breaking news alert woke me a couple of hours before I would normally wake up.) No big comments at this point, other than the perhaps obvious note that this will increase the odds of chaos and trouble coming out of Pakistan. And those odds were not exactly low to start with.
Wed 26 Dec 2007
Dalek Thay and Human Amy
I finished recovering my email and am thus reading and answering email regularly again. Although of course if I didn't answer any emails you may have sent within 48 hours of you sending it, it probably means that it has rolled into one of the categories that means I won't be answering it for a long long time, so if it was important, maybe send it again. :-)
There was indeed one corrupted folder, but I believe it was a duplicate of others that were not corrupt, so nothing was lost.
I'm thinking though that as a separate thing, since I've had so many issues lately, I'm going to try a completely clean install on my external drive, then migrate things a bit at a time from the old drive as needed. That is a lot of work, but I find myself hankering for a nice clean system. If I do that, it probably won't be until this coming weekend, but if I do it it will probably put me out of commission for awhile as well. We shall see.
Tue 25 Dec 2007
Mon 24 Dec 2007
I'm actually at work today. There are very few people here today. I have no meetings today. Well, OK, there was one about half an hour ago, but only two (including me) of the usual six people were there and it took about 30 seconds. I have some email to catch up on, and I'll do that. And I"m sure I could figure out some other things to work on. I'll try. But it is a SLOW day. It will probably be a slow week. But for now, it is time for lunch.... uh, if the cafeteria is open. I guess I'll go check.
Edit: Nope, no cafeteria, although the little coffee thing is open. I got some donuts from there earlier when I first got to work. For lunch, I'm having chips from the vending machine. Woo!
Sun 23 Dec 2007
Curmudgeon's Corner: Stupid Positions for No Reason Whatsoever
Sam and Ivan talk about:
- Washington State Primaries and Caucuses
- Huckabee's Appeal
- Hope vs. Bitterness
- Goodbye Tancredo
- Republicans on Immigration
- Huckabee not that Nice?
- Unpredictable Iowa
- Happy Holidays (In a Secular Way!)
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I was just scanning my stats for the first time in awhile and noticed that in terms of visits referred, all of a sudden it isn't all search engines and the occasional website of someone I know or one of the handful of blogs that have linked to me over the years. No, all of a sudden there is something new. Wikipedia is in the list. All of a sudden the #4 source of visits to my site (behind images.google.com, google.com and search.msn.com) is en.wikipedia.org. That is of course the English Wikipedia site. Lower on the list are the German Wikipedia, the French Wikipedia and the Italian Wikipedia.
What the hell? In any case, looks like a few weeks ago someone added a few links to my site (specifically this page) on a few different Wikipedia pages where it is sort of semi-relevant.
Who knows if it will last, but still kinda cool.
And it wasn't me who did it... really! :-)
Sat 22 Dec 2007
Missed a day blogging for the first time since May 8th. I suck. Well, I got all of June, July, August, September and October... and most of May and December. But I still suck. I had been doing so well too.
I didn't think about it in the early part of the day 00-08 UTC when I usually try to do it. Then I slept. Then I thought about it once around 18 or 19 UTC, but I was busy at work. Then I completely forgot about it until about 01 UTC today, but by that time there had been no post on Friday.
Thu 20 Dec 2007
Short Personal News Items
There are several things worth noting from the last week or so that I haven't posted about yet, so here is a quick post with a few notes on those things:
- The visit from my mother, just under four days, was good. We didn't *do* a huge amount. We basically hung out for a few days. We went to one of Amy's choral performances. We played a board game my mom brought. We sat around at home and played with the dog. We went out for meals a few times. Unfortunately Brandy had a cold through most of the visit, and I was still recovering from my own maladies (still am) but we managed to have a good time anyway. There are pictures, but they are in my email, so I haven't done anything with them yet.
- As soon as my mom left, Amy caught whatever Brandy had over the weekend and missed a couple of days of school. She insisted on trying to go to school today, but is probably still on the edge, so we'll see how that goes. Meanwhile, neither Brandy nor I are 100% either.
- Earlier this week my sister Cynthia shared the news that she officially got word that she had been accepted by her first choice college, the one she had done the early application thing for. That would be Oberlin. She should be starting there in the fall. Congratulations to Cynthia. I know she is more than ready to start. For now though I imagine it is all about fighting Senioritis.
- While my mom was here we got a tree up and decorated it and all that kind of thing. Roscoe proceeded to knock it down the next day. We put it up again, but in a new spot which would be harder to knock down.
- Amy's hand is still in a brace thing after she hurt it chasing a boy at school more than a month ago. But we got word last week from the doctors that it looks like she needs physical therapy rather than surgery, which is a good thing since we'd been told earlier that might have been a possibility. I imagine she'll start having to go to the therapist after New Year's. She had recovered enough to play her bass again a few weeks ago, but then went into the Doctor for more tests and they reinjured something in the process, and so she's once again not able to play, which frustrates her. But hopefully she will be able to again soon.
- The mail issue continues, but not because I don't know how to fix it, but because lately when I get home I've just wanted to lie down so I haven't done anything very productive at home in weeks it seems. I need to get that mail stuff done soon though.
- Um, that's it for now.
Wed 19 Dec 2007
Foiling the Evil Greg
Notwithstanding Greg's mean comment on my last post, it looks like I will indeed be able to retrieve everything. It will just be a fairly long semi-manual process where I have to reimport each old mailbox one at a time rather than grabbing a bunch at one time (because mail.app spins for an hour or two then crashes when I do that). And there is still a chance that I will find a corrupt mailbox in the mix somewhere. But I think I already verified that the ONE mailbox that would have had content that wasn't duplicated elsewhere (in either a day old partial backup I had, or a two month old full backup I had) is fine. I may still be missing something, but I think at this point I feel confident I can retrieve everything, it will just take some work. I'll do a little each evening and then try to finish up on the weekend I think.
In the mean time, I'm still not checking email regularly.
Tue 18 Dec 2007
By the way, for those who haven't listened to the podcast this week yet, over the weekend I had an email meltdown. This is a client side meltdown this time rather than a server side one. And I don't THINK I have lost anything based on the copies I have in a few different places. I hope. But I can't get to my mail the normal way at the moment because my client is very confused, and I can't get to my long term email archive at all at the moment. (The long term archive is ONLY on my local machine, not on the network.) I can get to my current mail and my short term archive (which are on the network) using alternate clients on other machines, or via the web. But I am not doing so actively or regularly until I fix my local client. So if you really need to get ahold of me for something in the short term, you're better off calling me.
Anyway, at this point I've tried the two or three simplest default ways of getting mail.app unconfused, and they have not worked. So after having completely backed up my mail folder, I'm off to go try more drastic things. I'm still pretty upbeat about this at this point, because I don't think anything is actually lost. However, if over the next day or so I start discovering that I am wrong about that and part of my long term email archive actually is lost, I will get very very upset.
Mon 17 Dec 2007
Curmudgeon's Corner: Failing to Discuss Huckabee
Sam and Ivan talk about:
- Sam: My Computer Sucks
- Ivan: Maybe I could live with Hillary
- Hillary's Collapsing Campaign
- Hillary's Self-Inflicted Wounds
- More Stuff Goes Missing
- Divided Republicans
- Path to a Brokered Convention
- Newt Returns?
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Sun 16 Dec 2007
Now the R's
OK, the Republicans are looking completely fragmented, and that is tons of fun. Here they are on the states pollster.com tracks, using as the numbers the (pretty conservative) trend line they generate using the results from all the available polls:
- IA: Huckabee leads Romney by 6.3%
- NH: Romney leads McCain by 16.2%
- NV: Giuliani leads Romney by 4.8%
- SC: Romney leads Thompson by 3.0%
- FL: Giuliani leads Romney by 15.1%
- MI: Romney leads Giuliani by 1.9%
- CA: Giuliani leads Romney by 15.6%
- NY: Giuliani leads McCain by 31.7%
Now, on the Democratic side, there were only two people who were in first place in any state, and even if you count number 2 placements, it was still just Clinton and Obama with a lock on 1st and 2nd place on all of these early/important states.
But the republican side? There are 3 different candidates who are currently polling in first place in at least one of these states. And if you add in second place there are five candidates who are polling in first or second place in these states. FIVE. And in a lot of those states the gap between first and second (and sometimes third) is VERY SMALL.
What does that mean? It means crazy dynamics in the race. At least possibly. If Iowa and New Hampshire happen, and anybody who doesn't win there collapses, it could still be over pretty quickly. But if we have different winners in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the strength of a third candidate manages to continue despite those losses to then compete in later states, then we could still have three viable candidates getting to Super Duper Tuesday and perhaps beyond.
So here is hoping for fun and excitement in the Primary season. Giuliani seems to be in some trouble lately. I don't want him to be president, but I'd like him to stay strong enough so that we can get Huckabee, Romney and Giuliani all winning some important states and keeping this race alive as long as possible. It would be fun to see McCain come back and win a few too, but I'm not sure he still has it in him unless the others self-destuct (which is certainly possible).
Sat 15 Dec 2007
Getting Interesting Fast
The chink in Hillary's armor in Iowa has been expanding rapidly these last few weeks. The trend has been clear for a bit, but as of now even on pollster.com's really conservative trend line she has lost the lead (but barely). And her lead in other states has started to slip now that her weakness is showing in Iowa. Most of this has been due to one good speech by Obama at the JJ Dinner a few weeks back, followed by a series of missteps by the Clinton campaign. (Who thought that Kindergarten thing was a good idea, really? Come one...)
Anyway, from the pollster.com trend lines in some significant states:
- IA: Obama leads Clinton by 1.5%
- NH: Clinton leads Obama by 6.0%
- NV: Clinton leads Obama by 22.1%
- SC: Clinton leads Obama by 9.7%
- FL: Clinton leads Obama by 30.9%
- MI: Clinton leads Obama by 25.4%
- CA: Clinton leads Obama by 32.0%
- NY: Clinton leads Obama by 31.9%
Uh, OK. In most states Clinton is still blowing away Obama. However, as Ivan and I have discussed on the podcast
a number of times, these early states matter a lot and can change the whole dynamic of the race. Hillary has always been weak in Iowa, her lead has always been smallest there. But now it has evaporated. Although Obama's trend line is now higher, really Iowa is now a dead heat between Clinton and Obama with Edwards in spitting distance.
And Hillary's lead is getting smaller and smaller in New Hampshire too.
If she loses in both of those, then other states where she has huge leads right now will also suddenly be in play.
If Obama wins both he will be in a very strong position. If Edwards gets Iowa and Obama gets New Hampshire then things will just be wide open and potentially VERY interesting in January and February even on the Democratic side.
Meanwhile, and I'll get to this in another post soon, the Republicans are a mess. Things will almost definately be VERY interesting on that side.
But it is very nice that it is starting to look like the Dems might put on a show too.
Fri 14 Dec 2007
We still don't really know what we are going to do. So after a morning just being at home, I think we are just going to wander and explore a bit in the afternoon.
Thu 13 Dec 2007
Mom Visit Starting
My mom's flight will be here shortly. She is visiting for a long weekend. I've taken today, Friday and Monday off (absent any emergencies). We haven't really determined exactly what all we will do once she is here, but we will figure it out.
Wed 12 Dec 2007
Months of Dragging
I just realized that ever since I made this post on August 21st, I have STILL been draggiing in one way or another ever since. Sometimes just lack of energy. Sometimes an outright cold or flu. Sometimes kidney stones and UTIs. But in any case, it has been OVER THREE MONTHS since I actually felt fully healthy and like there wasn't one thing or another I either had or was getting over.
That just sucks.
Tue 11 Dec 2007
Gave up on Time Machine
Well, I finally gave up on time machine. I only had it actually working successfully for a few days. Even then, it was only doing "hourly" backups every few hours. But then my computer crashed at some point while it was doing one of the hourlys. And it could never recover. It would think for a couple days, then Time Machine would crash. And then it would try again. Wash Rinse Repeat. If I zeroed everything and had it start from scratch, it would start an initial backup, but it would go slowly (at a pace to do my whole 500GB drive in about a week) and some random thing or other would crash the computer before it was done, and once again it would never recover.
I used to use Super Duper! to do my daily backups, but it is not yet Leopard compatible, although the developer says "soon". So I am now in the process of trying out Carbon Copy Cloner. As I speak it is doing an initial backup of my drive. The computer crashed last night while it was doing things, but CCC was able to just pick up and do a new incremental backup instead of getting confused. So crossing my fingers that I'll get a new good backup again, and then nightly backups will resume.
I really really wanted to use Time Machine. It was one of the BIG things I wanted from Leopard. And I still really want to use it. I will probably try it again when Apple releases 10.5.2, and 10.5.3... etc, until hopefully eventually it works well for me. Sigh.
(And yes, I've tried all the things I've found on a bunch of different forums for making Time Machine work faster/better/at all, but no luck.)
In the mean time, CCC for now.
Mon 10 Dec 2007
Curmudgeon's Corner: Dog Coats and CIA Tapes
Sam talks about:
- Election Update
- Holiday Shopping
- Snow in Seattle
- Dog Coats
- CIA Tapes
- Dem Leadership
- Time Machine Woes
- Being On Call
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Sun 09 Dec 2007
Sorta the Weekend
I still have work stuff to do today. But I ended up sleeping almost all the daylight hours on Saturday. So that is kinda sorta a weekend. I am awake now. Now that it is dark outside again. Awake is good. Next I'll be working on productive. That is harder.
Sat 08 Dec 2007
Not Really the Weekend Yet
Still doing stuff for work. Monitoring one issue over there, waiting to look at another one in another couple hours. Sleepy though. It will be nice once the holiday season is over. Then I'll be able to sleep.
Fri 07 Dec 2007
I have barely even opened my home email at all, let alone answered any. I have barely done any of the things I usually do at home in the evenings (email, paying bills, reading, genealogy stuff). I've been on call for work, plus it is December and given where I work that means everything is going nuts and people are all on edge because it is the busiest time of year, and so every little thing matters more than it would any other time. So I've been taking more work home than I usually do. And when I haven't been doing that, the last thing I've wanted to do is sit at my desk and be productive. So a little TV watching has happened. And some sleep has happened.
But basically. Busy and exhausting week at work, means nothing gets done at home.
That is OK I guess. I'll catch up eventually.
Maybe. Don't know why I think I'll get caught up. Last time I was caught up on all my basic routine tasks was something like 2003.... and even then there were long term projects outstanding.
Thu 06 Dec 2007
So I was playing with a suction cup...
Oops. It looks like it will last for days.
Wed 05 Dec 2007
Just saw this bit:
The Federalism Issue
(Matthey Yglesias, The Atlantic)
In practice, arguments about federalism are almost universally made opportunistically. People favor devolving power to the states when they think doing so will produce policies they approve of, and people favor concentrating power in Washington when they think doing so will produce policies they approve of. Everyone knows this. And while one might condemn the hypocrisy of it all, this always strikes me as a good thing to be hypocritical about. I don't really have a principled view about the appropriate division of powers between states and the federal government and don't really intend to develop one. The congressional policy being enacted here seems to me to be a good one, so that's good enough for me.
My immediate response is that this is probably a very good example of one of the major problems of politics today. All politics SHOULD start with a core vision of what comprises good government... completely independent of any specific issues... completely blind to who may or may not be in power... as both issues and who is in power shift over time... then when looking at how to address any specific issue, that discussion should be framed within the constraints of that model.
When politics starts with individual issues and is organized only on trying to find the optimal way to game the system to get results on those issues, then of COURSE the system is going to get horribly corrupted over time. Maybe you will get results on those specific issues. The desired policy result in the short term will perhaps be exactly as desired. But over time, the shortcuts and distortions to the process eventually come back on some other issue in the opposite direction. It all becomes a muddled mess instead of a functioning system.
Now, it is one thing if there really was a fundamental disagreement on what constitutes good government... in terms of balance of powers between state, federal, local and between executive, legislative and judicial... perhaps even between national and international... and of course on the fundamental of which things government should be involved in at all, and which it should not be... but I think Yglesias actually has it correct. The real case is that most people actually don't care and don't have a principled opinion on those issues. They only use those things in whatever way happens at the moment to push their own view on some specific issue.
Yglesias seems to think that is OK. I think that is a horrible problem and perhaps core to the increasingly divided and dysfunctional political culture we see today.
Having some sort of national consensus -- or at least real discussion -- on what the proper roles, functions, and interrelations of the various parts of government -- divorced from the specific issues of today -- would be very healthy.
Unfortunately, it won't happen.
Tue 04 Dec 2007
Just a quick thought about the effort going on to change the way California selects electors. First of all, fundamentally I have no problem with the notion itself. States should be able to select electors any way they see fit. Winner take all, proportional to an election, or even with methods that don't involve elections at all where the electors are selected directly by the legislature.
My radical proposal? Much like jury duty, select electors completely at random from the entire adult citizen population of the state. Unlike jury duty, excuse people from it ONLY for physical or mental inability to participate. It would be absolutely compulsory. Do the choosing only 48 hours before the electoral college votes, with absolutely no vetting in terms of who the newly chosen electors support. Make lobbying the electors on behalf your candidate illegal. An exception would be the electors themselves. The electors would be able to talk amongst themselves and lobby each other for the 48 hours before they have to vote. Sequester them at the moment they are chosen, deliver them to the state house to perform their vote, and then see what kind of results you get.
I imagine it would be a very interesting way of doing things. :-)
But in any case... if changes are made, although there may or may not be anything already enshrined in law to prevent it... I think any changes to how electors are selected by the states should be made one full election cycle in advance, so that all potential candidates can make their plans knowing the state of affairs for the full four year campaign cycle. That is only fair.
Mon 03 Dec 2007
Curmudgeon's Corner: Sam's Super Short Sick Show
Sam talks about:
- Being Sick Sucks
- Iowa Iowa Iowa
- Republican Field
- Democratic Field
- Chances for Fun
- Being Sick Sucks Redux
- Kasparov's Transformation
- The Rain
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Sun 02 Dec 2007
Fever maxed out Saturday morning at 312.1 K (for the Kelvin impaired, that is 102.1 °F or 38.9 °C). It has been dropping since then and at the moment I'm actually below normal. Which is good I guess. The infection isn't gone though. I am still in a bit of discomfort. But things are definitely better that a day ago I guess. Hopefully this will all work itself out by Monday.
Sat 01 Dec 2007
OK, so you can't tell from the horrible cell phone picture, but it is snowing heavily right now. Some of it is even sticking and accumulating a bit.
But it is supposed to change to rain later and wash it all away.
Suddenly at about 22 UTC yesterday I started rapidly feeling unwell. Standard UTI/Stones symptoms for me. I had just recently (within the last few days) been fully back to normal after the last round at the end of October. Grrr. Not happy about this.
I had someone fill in for me at a meeting I had at 23 UTC and headed home a bit early.
Now, about 5 hours later, I have a fever of 311.0 K. It has been rising over the past few hours. I took some Rx pain killers and some fever meds, but I am still a decent bit uncomfortable. And I'm doing what I have been told and drinking a LOT, so staying within arms reach of the facilities is of course mandatory.
Lovely. Just lovely.
On the bright side, it is supposed to snow here today... for a little bit before it turns into rain.
I am eating a hamburger and fries Brandy made now. Then I am hoping the pain killers kick in fully soon and knock me out for the night and everything feels better in the morning. That would be nice.