Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The experience double standard

With Barack Obama, a lack of high-level political experience is a drawback. With Sarah Palin, it's a deal-breaker*. Why the double standard? Simple. The voters chose Obama. That doesn't necessarily reflect well on their judgment, but it is nonetheless their choice. Sarah Palin was chosen by no voters. Her selection also reflects less than ideal judgment, but in this case, it's John McCain's. You could make the argument that her potential election as Vice President counts as the voters choosing her, but it's at best an indirect choice. If the voters want to chose poorly with Obama, that's their right. However, they shouldn't be expected or even asked to endorse John McCain's poor choice.

* One of many.


Doesn't look very open


I guess they're waiting for the Citi sign.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Who says romance is dead?

Whoever said it is right: it's a fake. But still...


Test Your Knowledge: the Sun and the Moon

Within 10%, in the units of your choice (but not AU), how far away are the sun and the moon?

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Test Your Knowledge: Population of the Permanent Five

What are the populations (within 10%) of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council?

Really, it's two questions, but the first one should be trivial.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

All the news that's fit to print, after some consideration

I want to see a news publication that only covers events at least a week or a month old. There's too much noise in the news. It's distracting. A news organization that waited a week or a month before it even started writing would have the perspective to tell what mattered and what was just the vacuous jabbering of attention-seeking idiots (not that it's necessarily hard to tell the latter). They'd save massive amounts just on printing costs. And my head wouldn't be filled with so much junk.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Can't stop the talk

It's only 40 days until the election. They haven't had a single debate yet. They can't postpone. There just isn't time.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

All 2008 presidential candidates are lacking

John McCain 2008 is not McCain 2000, and even McCain 2000 wasn't someone I'd vote for. He's the most likely to start a war, has been kissing up to the religious right, and, most fatally, does not appear to understand economics.

It doesn't matter how many times Barack Obama says the word "change." His policies are the same tired clichéed Democratic policies. His ability to deliver a speech is overrated, and the importance of such a skill vastly over-estimated. The man hasn't done anything.

I can't even make a protest vote this year. I might feel differently if Ron Paul was still running, but he's not. The alternative candidates in the 2008 election make me think maybe a 2-party system isn't as completely awful as I thought.

Bob Barr of the Libertarian? He found his "libertarian principles" at a convenient time, and his biggest issue is gun rights, which on a tolerant day I'm ambivalent about.

Then there's the Green Party. Cynthia McKinney? SRSLY? The woman who says George W. Bush knew about September 11th in advance? I guess the Green Party is happy with its place as a joke on the sidelines of American politics.

Constitution Party? Haha. I'd rather vote for McPalin than that reactionary fundamentalist they nominated. I don't know what Ron Paul was thinking when he endorsed him.

Ralph Nader? Flawed as he is, I guess he's all I have left.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Bush redux

The religious right's embrace of Sarah Palin demonstrates they have learned nothing from the lesson of George W. Bush. With Bush, they chose rapture over reason, ignoring obvious flaws because he shared their "values." Never mind that his abilities and record were weak at best. Now, while many of them have become disenchanted with Bush, they haven't figured out that the problem wasn't with Bush, but with them. You can't second-guess a result without second-guessing the process. Well, you can, but that would be stupid.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

A brief conversation with the Mrs.

Me: I saw an almost naked man riding a bicycle when I was driving home the other day.

Her: What kind of bike was it?

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Syria in the Gulf War

Syria had 14,500 troops in Operation Desert Storm. Theirs was the 6th largest contingent. All this time I had thought that Syria and Iraq were pals. I've had the wrong idea for 17 years.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Skeptical of "light" foods

With no data whatsoever, I reject the assertion that low-fat or sugar-free versions of foods truly help people lose weight or to be healthier. What I expect is actually effective is one or all of:

  1. Exercising more

  2. Eating different types of foods (cutting out the ice cream instead of switching to low-fat)

  3. Just plain eating less

I suspect that people who lose weight while eating light foods are also doing at least one of the above, and that people who only eat light foods without doing any of the above see little change.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I have made a September 16th resolution to stop adding salt to my food. I have a salt problem. Not physiologically, at least not yet. But still. Too much salt. I'm not going to avoid salt, but I'm not going to add it to anything either. Hopefully, my palate will adjust (ideally by New Year's, making a nice reversolution). I'm 10 minutes into my first lunch since my resolution, and I miss it already.

... listening to: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Gimme Some Salt ...

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Test Your Knowledge: Einstein's Miraculous Year

For a long time, I've been wanting to post a sampling of things that I think you should know off the top of your head if you consider yourself well educated. Test Your Knowledge, or, Things Y'oughta Know. I know, it's rather presumptuous. Who am I to say? Of course I'll pick things that I already know. But you're here, so...

First up, Albert Einstein's "annus mirabilis," 1905. In that year, Einstein published not one, not two, but four amazing and ground-breaking papers in physics explaining physical phenomena or proposing new theories. What were the topics of at least two of the four papers? I only remembered three; only when I was checking my answers on Wikipedia did I learn of the one published September 27. I'm reading a book that mentioned the second one listed in the Wikipedia article, which prompted this post, but I would have known that one anyway.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ike in Austin

A complete non-event. Very disappointing. It didn't rain. I didn't have a single branch fall, which is amazing, since our trees drop limbs if you sneeze at them. Luckily, we have no cedars, so there's not a whole lot of sneezing. Although if we did, I'd sneeze them all down, solving that problem. Er, yeah. So Ike didn't do nothin'.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

iTunes spurs a cleanup

iTunes doesn't respect existing directory structures and isn't very useful for files without good ID3 tags. I had little luck finding good alternative mp3 players for the Mac, so I bit the bullet and cleaned up my mp3s.

MusicBrainz was a real time saver. It's a site that stores fingerprints of mp3 files. You can use software such as their Picard to identify your mp3s. Then you can use it to group them by album, set the ID3 tags, rename the files, and move them somewhere, all in bulk. It knows what songs go in an album from its database, so if it can't automatically figure out what song/album a file goes to, you can drag-and-drop it to the right place.

Picard makes this whole process a lot simpler. What would have been days of work was only a couple of hours (for ~1100 files in ~100 albums). It is only at version 0.10, so it's still pretty rough, but it's free, and it gets the job done better than anything else I've tried.

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Sarah Palin's reproductive judgment

The big story with Sarah Palin's son Trig is how she had him even after she knew he would have Down's Syndrome. My question is different. How responsible is it for a woman who already has 4 children to decide to have another child at the age of 43, knowing the risks of things like Down's Syndrome? And, if it was an accidental pregnancy, how does a 43-year old woman with 4 children let such an accident happen? I know that no birth control is 100%, but do you really see Sarah Palin using contraception anyway? There's a 1% chance that it was pure accident, and a 99% chance that it was just plain bad judgment.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Did you know four of the longest rivers in the world are partly or completely in Russia? They are the Yenisei - Angara - Selenga (#5), Ob - Irtysh (#7), Amur - Argun (#9), and Lena (#10).

Also from that same page... You know that the Amazon is the largest river by volume, but did you know by how much? Its discharge is fully five times the discharge of the second largest river, the Congo, and seven times that of the might Yangtze, the third largest.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Mac laptop as iPod

You should be able to plug a Mac laptop into anything you can plug an iPod into and have it work just like it was an iPod. For instance, if and when I get my iPod-capable car stereo, I should be able to plug in my work MacBook Pro and be able to control iTunes from the stereo's buttons just like I could an iPod.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Presidential Portmanteaux

McCalin and Joe-Bama.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin, Guns Blazin'

Do you suppose that John McCain considered Bristol Palin's pregnancy to be a good thing? He knew it would invite controversy, which would then give Sarah Palin a justified platform to rant and rave and bash and boom. It would also cause Republicans to rally around her, just like they rallied around George W. Bush to defend his numerous flaws. Wheels within wheels.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Zell Miller (2004) ==Joe Lieberman (2008)

I don't see Lieberman challenging anyone to a duel, though.