oh my goodness please count the votes already!
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2008-10-31 13:42:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 420

This cheery bit by CNN asked people to say something nice about the candidate they're not supporting. Here's mine: John McCain served our country honorably. I can't imagine being locked up in a POW camp for five and a half years. I appreciate what he tried to do with campaign finance reform. I like that he believes in global warming. I think he really would try to reduce lobbyist influence. Sadly, before this campaign this list would have been a lot longer...

Here's my list of things I want to happen on Election Night, in order of importance:
- Obama is elected, preferably by a fairly wide margin to avoid shenanigans.
- Prop 8 in California (the one banning gay marriage) fails - the polls show it will be a tight race and I'd like to stay up until it's called. Prop 8 passing would be a huge huge setback for the gay rights movement.
- Democrats get to 58 senate seats (60 is required to stop a filibuster but 58 is probably close enough for most issues) - seems pretty likely.
- Larry Joe Doherty wins our congressional district (TX-10) - seems fairly unlikely now.
- Rick Noriega wins the TX senate race - seems pretty unlikely now.

I'll post my predictions on Monday. In the meantime there's this neat Google electoral map to play with.

Looks like abstinence-only education is losing support. (I wrote about abstinence-only education pissing me off a while back)

"Spreading the wealth" as an attack on Obama doesn't seem to be catching on. I would add that raising the tax rate on income above $250,000 from 35% to 39.6% is not "socialism". If you're against higher taxes on those making more than $250K a year, fine, but is it too much to ask to have a reasonable discussion about it? (yes is it, mostly) I also read an editorial (well, OK, the first few sentences of an editorial) in the paper this morning about how raising taxes lowers the incentive of entrepreneurs to make more money. I see how this is true in the abstract sense, but who says "well, I was going to make millions but it's not worth it if I might have to pay slightly more of that extra money in taxes! I'll just keep watching football or whatever."?

We drove by the early voting place at Randall's (183 and Braker) and the place was packed - the line to vote was well out the door. Burnt Orange Report has been tracking the early voting stats - here's their latest.

Happy Halloween!


closing ads
Mood: cheerful
Music: scaaaaary Arabic music
Posted on 2008-10-30 12:31:00
Tags: 23andme genetics politics
Words: 65

Work is being stressful, but I'm eating lunch and happy for now...

Interesting ads from both sides: here's Obama's hitting McCain on the economy and (for the first time I can remember) Palin:

and here's McCain's hitting Obama for wanting to talk to Iran without preconditions, complete with scary staticy backgrounds and Arabic music. Grrr.

The Retail DNA test is Time's Invention of the Year.


Attacks on Obama vs. attacks on McCain
Mood: thoughtful
Posted on 2008-10-29 12:24:00
Tags: essay politics
Words: 678

I've been reading a lot about politics this year, although my sources range from relatively neutral to "in the tank" for Obama. But even so, I've noticed that the attacks on Obama seem to be far crazier than the attacks on McCain. It's hard to say whether this is true since the sort of sites I read tend to highlight the crazy attacks being made Obama, and I guess I don't entirely know where the crazy attacks on McCain are coming from. (I read dailykos.com which definitely had some questionable things, but still not as bad as what's being flung at Obama)

So I watched a segment of the Daily Show last night with interest, a segment where John Oliver went to Obama and McCain rallies and found people saying crazy things. Here it is:
As I was watching, it struck me that indeed the attacks on Obama were crazier. Let's break down each one by true/reasonable, grain of truth, and not true:
on Obama: If he is elected, we will have terrorists in our country. Didn't say he was a terrorist, so she could be saying he won't defend our borders, which is a reasonable concern. grain of truth
on Obama: He'll put a turban on, go in the White House and "we'll all be shot". not true
on Obama: He's a Muslim, we don't know enough about him. He is not a Muslim! not true
on Obama: It would be a takeover of our country, he doesn't understand the radical Islam perspective. Close to saying he's a terrorist, but this is a valid concern. grain of truth
on McCain: Idea of McCain becoming president is terrifying. This is pretty vague... grain of truth
on McCain: The conservative turn the country would take is scary. "Scary" is subjective, obviously, but McCain is obviously a conservative. true/reasonable
on McCain: The pick of Palin scares the living daylights out of me. Again, too vague to be true grain of truth
on McCain: Palin has proven to be most ineffectual and unintellectual woman out there. Hyperbole but there's a valid concern in there grain of truth
on McCain: McCain's out of touch, doesn't know about Twitter, Flickr, Youtube. Probably true but not a totally valid concern grain of truth
on Obama: Been tied up with a lot of "groups like that" like ACORN. Technically true, although I have a feeling if they hadn't suddenly cut the interview this would have gotten crazier true/reasonable
on McCain: Pals around with Keating Five people. "Pals around" is a bit iffy but he was one of the Keating Five... true/reasonable
(skipping two incomplete thoughts, one on both sides)
on Obama: Scared to death of him, have thirteen grandchildren, there will be no America left. Um, OK. not true
on McCain: Have a ten year old daughter who's grown up with war, would like her to have four years of peace. Borderline but McCain is definitely more hawkish than Obama, and he supported the war in Iraq where Obama didn't true/reasonable
on McCain: Roe v Wade would definitely be "under threat". Seeing as McCain now supports overturning it... true/reasonable
on Obama: We have to realize killing babies is out of line. Inflammatory language, but at least there's an issue behind it true/reasonable
(skipping McCain should have left the party when he's still having fun, because I don't understand)
(skipping Obama: "show me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are" because it's not specific enough)
on Obama: isn't living in a realistic world when it comes to his Islamic views again, didn't say he's a Muslim, and a valid concern true/reasonable
on Obama: if he becomes president, America as we know it is gone. not true

So, to summarize in table form:

Attacks on ObamaAttacks on McCain
grain of truth24
not true40

Obviously it's impossible to do this objectively, but I did my best. Innuendo was flung around at McCain, but no one said anything like America would be destroyed if he was elected.


hodgepodge of whatever
Mood: okay
Posted on 2008-10-29 11:22:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 275

NBC is back on Time Warner! Yaaaaay! And just in time for 30 Rock, too! (first episode is Thursday, I believe) A sure sign the dispute is over: thetruthhurtskxan.com is no more.

More Thriller: another video of the Austin event and an a capella version all done by the same guy with 64 tracks. (too bad his voice isn't that great) I think I'm done with Thriller links for now.

Charles Barkley might run for governor of Alabama in 2014. From the interview:

Brown: So are you going to run for governor?

Barkley: I plan on it in 2014.

Brown: You are serious.

Barkley: I am, I can't screw up Alabama.

Brown: There is no place to go but up in your view?

Barkley: We are number 48 in everything and Arkansas and Mississippi aren't going anywhere.

An old report on the disaster in election coverage that was Florida in 2000.

Obama is sorry to see McCain stoop so low:
We've tried it John McCain's way. We've tried it George Bush's way. It hasn't worked. Deep down, Senator McCain knows that, which is why his campaign said that "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

That's why he's spending these last few days calling me every name in the book. I'm sorry to see my opponent sink so low. Lately, he's called me a socialist for wanting to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so we can finally give tax relief to the middle class.

By the end of the week, he'll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in Kindergarten.

1 comment

where's lunch rolls on
Mood: awake
Posted on 2008-10-28 11:07:00
Tags: whereslunch projects links
Words: 108

Finished the adding of restaurants last night! Now I just need to add an editing interface and do some more testing...

A long lipdub of Thriller - impressive camerawork! I wish I could keep the camera that steady while I walked. (obviously I should have combined all my Thriller links into one post, but oh well)

A federally funded group is sponsoring a contest to find an engaged couple who hasn't had sex yet. No takers yet...

Election data: lots of people have already voted early. Deadline in TX is Friday, and I'd recommend doing it today or tomorrow because I bet Thursday and Friday will be quite busy...


Mood: worried
Posted on 2008-10-27 17:38:00
Tags: politics
Words: 27

Stories like this are why, when I wake up and see a CNN Breaking News alert I wasn't expecting (like, say, this morning), I get involuntarily nervous.


life keeps rolling on
Mood: irritated
Posted on 2008-10-27 14:14:00
Tags: whereslunch projects links
Words: 192

Thanks for responding to my where's lunch poll! As I had hoped, it motivated me to code some more this weekend. I implemented the suggested restaurants (although it's pretty weak right now since there's not a lot of data) and am about halfway done with the adding new restaurants thing. Once I get that done and put it through another round of testing (haven't tested on IE for a while...*shudder*) I'll post it for real!

We voted this weekend, and while it was a little anticlimactic at the time, I'm still pretty excited by it. We went to the Randall's at 183 and Braker - happily it was during the UT game so there was no line. Voted against Prop 2, for Obama and Noriega and Larry Joe and most of (but not all) the other Democrats. Election Day is only 8 days away!

As a followup to Austin Mayor Will Wynn dancing to Thriller, this weekend Austinites shattered the Guinness World record for the largest synchronized Thriller dance. The previous record was 140 (only 140?) and we got 881(!). Here's a video of the whole thing although it's of disappointingly low quality.


politics, whereslunch, magazines: an entry in three parts
Mood: awake
Posted on 2008-10-24 10:19:00
Tags: whereslunch projects poll politics links
Words: 410

Will Ferrell was on SNL last night as George W. Bush and it was pretty good (although maybe not "one of the best skits ever"). It still looks like Obama is way ahead. It warms my heart that someone who wants to investigate all members of Congress to see whether they're pro-American or not (hello, Joe McCarthy!) can suddenly find that most people won't stand for that crap. Obama makes a good fantasy football partner. Also, politics has always been sleazy - this is not a recent phenomenon.

Where's lunch:
This is my project for a google map of lunch places in Austin. It's kinda stalled out, because I haven't had a lot of free time and I can't decide what to do next. Right now you can view restaurants, rate them, leave comments, color the markers based on rating and some other things, and filter which markers are shown. (if you're interested in trying it out, drop me a line and I'll hook you up) Things I want to add at some point:
- letting people add restaurants themselves. This is kind of a pain to do, and raises some security issues and means I have to police the data to some extent.
- suggesting restaurants you might like based on other people's ratings. This isn't too hard to do but since there are few ratings in the system it won't be interesting for a while.
- add user profiles where you store where you work and you can limit lunch places by their estimated time for lunch (2 * travel time + time it takes to get food).
- putting ads on the site to make $$$
So, how interested would you theoretically be in these features?

Time vs. Newsweek:
When I was a kid, I had a penchant for stupid rivalries. We got the Houston Chronicle, a friend got the Houston Post so I immediately assumed the Chronicle was better, "rooted" for it, and was not exactly happy when the Post folded but I felt victorious. Same thing for Newsweek and Time - we got Newsweek and it was clearly better for no particular reason.

But now I'm wondering - maybe Time is the better magazine? I like some of the columnists Newsweek has (Fareed Zakaria, Anna Quindlen) but Time has Joe Klein, and I read a copy randomly this week and it was pretty interesting. I barely get through the magazines we have, so getting both is not a reasonable option. Which should I get?


more early voting info
Mood: blah
Posted on 2008-10-23 11:51:00
Tags: politics
Words: 109

As a follow up to my previous early voting post:

Here's the Austin League of Women Voters Guide (20 page pdf). Part of the irritating part is knowing which local things you get to vote for - this Travis County voter registration lookup tells you what congressional and state senate district you're in, as well as your county commissioner district, and even your polling place on election day if you're unable to early vote. Here's a sample ballot lookup for Williamson County.

Interestingly, the Austin American-Statesman voting against Proposition 2 (the "Stop Domain Subsidies one") this morning. I was planning to vote yes on it, but now I'm not sure...


I picked a bad week to quit sniffing glue
Mood: sick
Posted on 2008-10-21 14:16:00
Words: 190

Last night: played Rock Band 2 for the first time (fun! remarkably similar to Rock Band 1!), hot tubbed. All was well.

Later last night: in bed, started itching in odd places, like (for example) all over my body. Dozed on and off sorta. Got up at 2 and showered to try to get rid of the itching, which helped a little but not a whole lot.

This morning: woke up exhausted, called in sick. Watched Daily Show and Colbert Report, then napped in the morning, had some intense dreams. Walked to Walgreens for Benadryl (ooh, I should take some) and Food Shui for lunch. Brought Newsweek along to read on the way, which worked well. While waiting for my food at Food Shui, glasses screw fell out. Recovered the screw and lens, ate lunch with one eye then walked home. Crossing the street is hard with one eye! (it's not the traffic, it's the curbs...)

Back home, can't fix glasses by myself but djedi (what would I do without him?) reminded me I have an old pair which are almost as good. Going to relax for real now. Yeesh.


Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama
Mood: groggy
Posted on 2008-10-21 11:39:00
Tags: politics
Words: 354

Here's the video. The best part (to me) was this:

I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.


seriously, is it election day yet?
Mood: content
Posted on 2008-10-20 13:11:00
Tags: politics
Words: 126

Two things I forgot:
- Here are the Sarah Palin bits on Saturday Night Live which I couldn't watch because of stupid KXAN and stupid Time Warner. The skits are pretty funny although Palin has a very small role in each. Also, at this point Tina Fey dressed up as Sarah Palin and Sarah Palin herself are indistinguishable to me.

- There's some email going around about how if you want to vote a straight Democratic ticket you have to first do that and then separately vote for Obama. This is not true (selecting a candidate cancels the straight ticket vote). But, don't vote a straight ticket because it's kinda dumb. In any event, be sure to check your vote at the final confirmation screen before casting it!


early voting starts today!
Mood: awake
Posted on 2008-10-20 09:55:00
Tags: politics
Words: 252

Early voting opens in Texas today and lasts until October 31. According to the paper, the busiest days are the first one and the last three, so avoid those if you can! The Austin American-Statesman's voting guide is here and here's a list of Travis County early voting locations. (pdf) For my Houston friends, here's a list of Harris County early voting locations. (pdf) For people in other places, Googling "(county name) county secretary of state" is usually a good place to start.

Why early vote? Well...

I do miss the camaraderie of everyone voting on the same day, but early voting is much more efficient and awesome.
(if you're wondering why to vote at all in Texas, see my previous post)


offered without comment
Mood: surprised
Posted on 2008-10-17 21:59:00
Tags: politics
Words: 129

From fivethirtyeight:

So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the n***er!"

Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the n***er."

In this economy, racism is officially a luxury. How is John McCain going to win if he can't win those voters? John Murtha's "racist" western Pennsylvania district, where this story takes place, is some of the roughest turf in the nation. But Barack Obama is on the ground and making inroads due to unusually strong organizing leadership.


I will not miss election season when it's gone
Mood: calm
Posted on 2008-10-17 15:20:00
Words: 36

Sure it was fun for a while (it's fun to win!) but reading political comments from people (on YouTube, CNN, WoW) is depressing. So much anger!

The Austin Chronicle released their Best of Austin 2008 results.


Dear "the media":
Mood: irritated
Posted on 2008-10-16 16:27:00
Tags: politics
Words: 82

When I first met Joe the Plumber, I was interested. When John McCain mentioned him 20 times (and Obama a few) at last night's debate, I was bored. Now that I learn more about him (he's not actually a plumber!) I can't begin to describe how much I don't care about this guy.

It was amusing at first but it's already old. If I have to sit through two more weeks of this I'm going to become a plumber myself. Please stop.


last debate
Mood: calm
Posted on 2008-10-16 09:31:00
Tags: politics
Words: 132

Well, that was actually a pretty good debate. I thought McCain did better than the other two, but the snap polls show Obama winning by a wide margin. (58-31, 53-22, etc.)

I almost posted the video of Obama talking to "Joe the Plumber" yesterday since it shows Obama having an intelligent discussion for like 4 minutes about tax policy. After McCain mentioned him like 20 times last night, he's famous! Here it is:
A video of McCain's angryish reactions.

Obama had a good response to the Ayers question, which he had obviously planned since he basically dared McCain to bring it up. Nate at fivethirtyeight.com thought McCain was doing well up to that point but pushed too hard on the cheap sleazy stuff. But he was behind and had to try something...


what's a good subject for the same old collection of politics links?
Mood: happy
Posted on 2008-10-15 12:08:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 127

This account of Republican-leaning voters is pretty amazing:

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."
She thinks he's a terrorist! And still voting for him over McCain!

Just in: White House attempted to influence congressional elections in 2006 by traveling to campaign events with taxpayer dollars. Somehow I'm not surprised.

A CNN account of a guy doing The Great Schlep. Obviously anecdotal but still kinda neat.

Counterinsurgency tactics: running a laundromat in Northern Ireland back in the day. Pretty clever/awesome!


gay marriage ban _ahead_ in CA
Mood: sad
Posted on 2008-10-14 14:39:00
Tags: gay politics
Words: 46

Bad news - Proposition 8 (banning gay marriage in California) is now apparently ahead. This would be a huge step backward if it passes in November. I just gave some money to fight it - I hadn't done so before because it was losing by a lot! Blah.

1 comment

the usual mindless collection o' links
Mood: busy
Posted on 2008-10-13 13:40:00
Tags: links
Words: 112

I heard on NPR this morning Weird Al Yankovic just released a song about the current economic crisis. The neat part is that since he did it digitally it's very relevant, instead of having to wait a year or two for a whole album.

The famous Obama "Hope" poster with many many parodies.

Austin mayor Will Wynn does the Thriller dance and he's actually pretty good!

While listening to This American Life's "Another Frightening Show About The Economy" (which helped me understand what's going on) I checked on my 401(k). Bad bad idea. Thank goodness I'm not retiring anytime soon...

A nice story about Obama that may or may not be true.


deep thought
Mood: sick
Posted on 2008-10-13 08:18:00
Tags: health
Words: 10

If mucus were currency, my nose would be causing hyperinflation.


finally, FINALLY, McCain scales back the ugliness
Mood: relieved
Posted on 2008-10-11 10:48:00
Tags: politics
Words: 60

See here - he corrected some of his reporters at a rally. Video here along with an analysis that seems a little unfair. I don't care why he's doing it, but the tone of his and Palin's rallies over the last week has gotten a bit frightening and dangerous.

(also, I didn't post about politics yesterday! Anyone else proud of me? :-) )


two quick politics articles
Mood: busy
Posted on 2008-10-09 15:44:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 148

Work = good. Throat = about the same as yesterday = meh.

The Obama Surge: Will it Last? - good short article that highlights the fact that Americans might be ready for the real change in health care Obama is proposing.

Rage in the Town of Bethlehem - more ugliness at McCain rallies. Includes this bit:

Even the opening prayer was politically charged. "O God, we are in a battle that is raging for the soul of this nation," the preacher said. "You, O God, have raised up Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin for such a time as this." The preacher went on: "Help them, O God, to strengthen our economy, to keep our taxes and spending low . . . and grant them the privilege of being elected the next president and vice president."
I guess God is for lower taxes and spending. Who woulda thunk it? (actually, this makes me kinda mad)


colbert report!
Mood: amused
Posted on 2008-10-08 10:09:00
Words: 51

(knew I forgot something!)
Last night after the debate, we watched the Colbert Report, which had Nate Silver (the founder of fivethirtyeight.com) as a guest. The interview part was fine, but the rest of the show was hilarious - Colbert was clearly on crack or something! You can watch it at Hulu.

1 comment

nope, incoming boring debate
Mood: okay
Posted on 2008-10-08 09:41:00
Tags: politics
Words: 241

Nevermind - that debate was pretty boring. No Rezko or Ayers or Keating 5, just a lot of similar stuff from the first debate.

Things I'd like to see Obama stop saying:
If you enjoy horrible things, you'll enjoy this boy band pitching Microsoft PDC (developer's conference). Who creates this crap?


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