Rhidiculous Rhescue

This is an actual drill run at this Japanese zoo. How can I not post it?

HT: www.Gizmodo.com

Gun, Bait, Rod, Ballot

VA election code Sec 24.2-411.2 requires that the Department of Game
and Inland Fisheries provide voter registration opportunities. DMV,
armed forces, and even food stamps I understand, but registering to
vote at the local ranger's shed? God bless 'em.

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We are finally online everywhere

On the train, businesspeople all around me are online using cellular
modems. It has finally become cheap enough. Cheap cellular modems may
sound the death nell for free citywide wifi - several such efforts
have already stalled or failed.

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DC to NY

Sitting in a big seat watching the fall foliage drift past is
mesmerizing. I had more time to do it back when I was doing BOS to NY
once a week to consult - my workaholic days have not sunset (ed?). I
stepped into the station at 1:50 and was on by 2:15, even with the
delay. I'll get off in the middle of town, and sis I mention the big
seat? Flying this corridor is for suckers. The delta door to door is,
at most, 30 minutes and I get a lot more work done.

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Anglers for Obama

Yeah, but he's clearly an elitist. Only fishes in the "great" lake - won't reduce himself to fishing in the streams with the rest of us. He doesn't know what its really like.

The Tuesday After the First Monday Before the Last Tuesday After the First Monday of the Year

The reason:

General Election Day. Elections for all federal elected officials are held on
the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years (November 5, 2002 for the next mid-term congressional elections, and November 2, 2004 for the next presidential election); presidential elections are held in every year
divisible by four. Congress selected this day in 1845 (5 Stat. 721); previously,
states held elections on different days between September and November, a
practice that sometimes led to multiple voting across state lines, and other
fraudulent practices. By tradition, November was chosen because the harvest was
in, and farmers were able to take the time needed to vote. Tuesday was selected
because it gave a full day's travel between Sunday, which was widely observed as
a strict day of rest, and election day. 7 Travel was also easier throughout the
north during November, before winter had set in.

January 17, 2001 CRS Report for Congress
"The Electoral College: How it Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections"
Thomas H. Neale
Analyst, American National Government Government and Finance Division

HT www.volokh.com

New Pepsi Logo

Pepsi has, apparently, rebranded. This is a version of their old logo. What do you think?
In my design classes in college, we'd mock up designs like this - clean, modern, and usually unworkable in a world where packaging has to include color tests, nutrition info, copyright, contact info, sales promos, etc. The old, busy design could accomodate the weight of this information. The newer, cleaner design will look set upon by those additions. That said, it will provide more contrast for yellow ribbon sales promos that often ring the top of these labels.

Early Voting in DC

You can vote early in DC during business hours at:

Board of Elections and Ethics
Government of the District of Columbia
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street NW Suite 250 North
Washington, DC 20001

Voter Protection In VA

VA voters received a phony flier stating that, per an emergency session of the VA General Assembly, the GOP would vote on Nov. 4th and Dems, Nov. 5th, due to high expected voter turnout. Some friends have made the comment that this should carry a stiff sentence. On the one hand, there is no serious injury to these persons. On the other, these people are intentionally preventing people from exercising one of their explicit constitutional right and preventing a key aspect of their participation in a democracy. Now that does sound pretty serious.

HT Matt


Economic Downturn = Great Deals

I know the economy is down, but I still have presents to buy and I'll still want to take a few trips this winter. Difference is, I'll be looking for bargains that make those of years past seem like (gasp!) retail.

Exhibit A: http://www.blackfriday.info/ - Posts of all the big shots will appear here. Slowly populating.

Exhibit B: www.Bargainist.com - Deals every day.

Anyone know of great ski deals?

People Don't Watch the World Series Just Because It Is The World Series

ESPN and Fox report low ratings for this World Series compared to series past. The two examples? STL/DET in 2006 and BOS/COL in 2007. Two words: Fan Nation. Either STL or BOS fans could be swept in a World Series (though I doubt it would happen) and still get higher ratings because they care. The Rays...they have a fan base after this season. They just got to the post-season. It takes time to ingrain fandom. On the other side are Phillies fans. Poor, jaded, Phillies fans, who - in contrast to their ever-the-underdog counterparts in Chicago - took a look at their lackluster team and just gave up long, long ago.

That leaves the rest of us...and, quite frankly, there's football and the Sprint Cup to watch.


Sure, but, tell me again, why?

That's not a cheap photoshopping job - that's the new GameBoy theme for iPhone. Look, if you really want one, I am sure eBay has a ton, cheap. More shots and the theme here.

Proud to Un American, Cuz At Least I Know I'm Free

"Are you a real American? Quiz."

Best question: Which is your favorite Amendment?
(A) The First
(B) The Second

Free Advice

This might be worth $.99 per download.

www.DoINeedAnUmbrella.Com - enter your zip and learn whether the collapsable covering should accompany you. Simple, elegant, and screaming to be an iPhone App.

HT Flippish.


Client/Matter/State of Matter

There may be a new state of matter. Electrons, which normally travel around the nucleus of an atom on a 2D plane (a disk, or an orbit), were seen to shift to a "quasi 3D plane" when subjected to massive magnetic forces at near 0 Kelvin.

Practical uses: use the shift in state of a matter to store bits of data, allowing bits to shrink to the single particle level. Well, perhaps "practical" isn't the perfect term.


Conservative Elite

During this election cycle, the conservatives may have alienated their most prized possession: the elite that run their own party. Today, the Chicago Tribune endorsed Obama. "But that's just the elite mainstream media," you'll yell. Not so fast:

This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

[10-20-08 ChiTrib]. Add to it the Weekly standard's call for Palin to step down, etc. etc. etc., and, my friends, one might argue that the elite - the successful and the educated, democrat and republican - have been turned off my a hard-charging, all-too-folksy attempt at populism.

* and now to throw some cold water on that. I am a staunch Democrat, but I would seriously encourage Obama to take a tough stance with Congress when he gets into power. POUTS + 60 votes in the Senate is a recipe for excess and scandal. It could, if marshalled responsibly, be a ticket to faster recovery.

* And my final pitch: I hope the infrastructure stays the name of the game for a long time after the election. Let's create government-funded jobs rebuilding roads, water-handling facilities, power structure, communications lines, and so on for the coming 10 years. That is money we'd actually be investing in America. This project is not sexy, so the charge will have to come from an exciting man like Barack.

Mars Lander

NASA is planning to deploy the next Mars lander with a sky (if you can call it that on Mars) crane.

First, isn't it great that NASA is hiring video game cut-scene designers to create these videos? Changes in focus, camera shake, and variable angle are a lot more likely to elicit "ooh"s and "ahh"s than the old "track the object as it comes closer to the camera" view we got in the early 90s.

Second, um, why do we need a sky crane? The last one, if you recall, hit Mars using a pyramid shaped set of inflatable orbs. It then opened and the rover rolled off. That, in my mind, left a lot less room for error. No rockets to fail, and if one of the bubbles didn't inflate, the rest would still be there to protect the vehicle. Here, if one of the retro rockets or one of the girdles, or the umbilical were to fail, the rover would topple down to the planet with no protection.

Can anyone (who actually knows about space science - not someone who is happy to surmise, as I am) explain it to me?


Like the Candidacy

No, no, it's not that it is a joke. Sarah Palin got to show up, say two words in the opening, followed by, "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!" Then, she "did" this sketch. It's like her candidacy: She got to show up and do the fun part, without doing any of the work.



A cheap shot, I know.

Senate Politics

Al Franken, of SNL and "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" fame, may actually win a Minnesota Senate seat. This is not a joke and, actually, he is not a joke. Long a humorist, Franken has longer been a political junkie. I actually think this would be a good thing for him, for Minnesota, and for the Dems.


1. Don't turn off the Sox deep into the 5th inning.

2. The NFL confirmed that tix for the superbowl will reach $1000 for the first time. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/football/nfl/10/16/tickets.ap/index.html?eref=si_mostpopular). Um, actually, they reached well above that for years. Oh? You mean that the *NFL* will be charging $1000 face. Yeah, I don't think that will have much effect on what they actually sell for.


When there are this many cameras around...

...don't make any silly faces.

Crossing Party Lines

I make no bones about my political affiliations, but let me toss the skeptics a bone here:

1. I thought McCain was right that, to solve the underlying economic problem we are having, we need to stabilize home-ownership. I even thought he had a good idea when proposing that the government take direct steps to buy mortgages - at least in a vacuum.

The current bailout plan allows the goverment to buy both mortgage backed securities (the CDOs, RMBS, and CMBS that caused this mess) as well as to force lenders to write down mortgages (i.e. take a "haircut"). What the bailout did not do was set up a mechanism for the government to go from the first step to the second - i.e., to buy MBS, unpackage them to get at the underlying mortgages, and then have lenders write those down.

McCain's idea could have gone there. Instead, in the 2 weeks since the second debate, the plan turned out to be a $300B plan to replace Fannie and Freddie with a new federal home-loan lender. I liked the original sentiment, more than I like this, but this is not a terrible idea. (Note, many have argued that the idea was actually part of Hillary's campaign first.)

2. Sticking with our two themes: crossing over and Hillary - I didn't like Obama's recent statement on the campaign trail that he would call for a three-month moratorium on home foreclosures. This was a bad idea when Hillary and McCain were for it last year, and it is a bad idea now. At best, it is a stopgap. At worst, it artificially delays a lot of foreclosures that will happen anyway regardless of the bailout.

If Obama wants a moratorium, lets use the scalpel he talks about. Identify those properties that will clearly be foreclosed on (i.e. those having lost 30% or where the reset payment is well beyond the person's ability to pay) and let those continue, holding the rest at bay. Something like that.

Tech Posts

It has been a while since I waxed geeky. A few hardware thoughts:

1. Korean company, Nanovision, just released Mimo (in Korea). $80 gets you a 7" screen that plugs in to your USB 2.0 jack. $150 gets you the same thing with a webcam and touchscreen. Awesome! A place for your widgets/skype/chat.

2. Apple released the new Macbook, which is really closer to the MacBook Pro. (www.apple.com) The rig is neat and includes a glass multi-touch trackpad that acts like a button for clicking. My take:

a) The only thing I have to add to this is that the new Macbook (http://www.apple.com/macbook/) looks like HP's MiniNote (http://h40059.www4.hp.com/hp2133/)

b) Hopefully the brick will mean fewer hardware hangups than there were with the plastic MacBooks. They weren't a big deal, but we could do without.

c) The base price is up to around $1300. The tech/speed/graphics certainly mandates such a price and is actually better than most $1300 PC laptops. Still, there is a move in the market to create low-end lappies as well. That was a huge growth sector. I would expect Apple to have something in the $1000 price range as it did with the original MacBook.

3. www.mint.com Looks like a good idea for centralizing your budgeting. Still, I am skittish at the idea of adding another party to the pool of those that have electronic versions of my financial information.


W is for Wookie and that's good enough for me.

Star Wars ABC cards. Mmmm. Pretty. Let the nerd-indoctrination begin. The them all here.

HT: http://www.kottke.org/


Yes, they lost big time. Here is what you won't read on ESPN:

- Deltha O'Neal sucked. The cornerback couldn't stay with his man all night. Worse, when he realized it, he began to commit passing interference violations. Those three or four long passes you saw - that was O'Neal's blown coverage. The Chargers just ran it for a few series and then aired it out over his head - again and again and again.

- The front four are still unable to protect Cassel. Madden made the comment that Brady didn't require a pocket to hold for 3-4 seconds. Perhaps, but one in every 4-5 snaps he *did* need time and he got it. Cassel's pocket collapsed like an old flan, forcing him to scramble for yards several times. That worked last night, but it won't work next week and for the rest of the season. We need to figure out the pass protection or we will dip below 500.

Here is what you will read on ESPN: We are a very injured team. We can't expect to play like last year's Pats with Brady, Marony, and Green out and a lot of others playing at less than 100%.


That was ugly, this is dangerous.

The McCain campaign has taken to rousing anger at its rallies in the past week. Repeatedly calling Obama, "Barack Hussein Obama," constantly referring to Ayers as an "unrepentant terrorist," and naming Obama as a "leftist extremists," have led crowds to jeer and yell, spouting epithets and, in some cases, promising violence.

You want a negative campaign, fine. But, I will remind you Sen. McCain, that more than one man seeking change in the United States has died because those on the other side stoked the fires of hate. You had to live through that. I don't want to have to live through it.

Sometimes you make a request that will on deaf ears because conscience demands it. I ask the McCain campaign to back off the rhetoric. It is dangerous.

Flavor Balls in Pocket Bread!

The Lebanese government has sued Israel, claiming that Falafel, Hummus, Fattoush, and other ME delicacies are actually Lebanese. Stop smirking. The EU courts ruled that Greece was the only country that could sell "Feta," after it won a case claiming that it was a traditional food. Thing is, the Greeks never registered that food name with anyone.

Why you might worry: What is a company like "Sabra" going to do when the millions of dollars worth of products it sells in Europe have to be rebranded if Israel loses?

Why you might not: I don't know who would be bound by an international court decision on this matter. I don't think the U.S. would. Indeed, Israel might just refuse to answer the claim. Still, it is fun story.

Guilty Knowledge

Dylan Rattigan of CNBC (shown in this clip from yesterday's MSNBC Morning Joe) was on *today's* show calling for FBI investigations of every highly leveraged bank and insurer. He said, and I am paraphrasing, "There must be emails out there that say that we can't do this or we can't cover these policies. That is criminal."

Mr. Rattigan, you are wrong . Three points:

1. If you want to hunt people criminally, there are actual criminals out there to hunt. There were so many mortgage lenders that used underhanded techniques to lend that we could just reconceive the FBI as the "Fraud on Borrowers Investigatorium" for the next ten years. Of course.

2. The institutions that you are talking about were regulated and had capital requirements - i.e. the amount of cash they had to have on hand in order to lend or insure what they did. If you don't like those requirements, just wait - they're changing. If there were those that violated that requirements, I don't think there were many of them, and I think the litigation, etc. will bring that to light. Bottom line: most of this was legal per the rules of the market at the time.

3. The emails you cite would come from people who realized that the emperor had no clothes. So, if you were stupid enough not to notice, you get off scott free. If you were smart enough to sound a quiet alarm, we throw the book at you for not speaking up louder. Seems to me we should promote you instead. Sure, you could have spoken up, but if you have this kind of vision - which is both clear and relatively conservative - I think we want you on the executive floor for the coming few years instead of warming a cell in a MinSec block somewhere in Kansas.

Which brings me to my final point: This media, the same one that didn't sound any alarm until the market was well beyond recovery, is now looking for its next story: a high-profile trial. That won't help. It will turn into a witch hunt and distract us all from the real work that needs to be done on Wall Street. You want to "hurt" these people? Have the companies fire 'em. Trust me, they had all of their money in the market so they are bleeding with the rest of us.


Testing a Joke

Marriage is indeed a sacred institution, just like the church. The people in charge are celibate, nobody listens when they talk, and most of them believe that they'd be happier if they were dead.


The Pot Calling the POTUS Black

Brown of CNN has penned a plea to the candidates to keep the last month of the campaign civil. This, coming from an anchor at a news organization that flashes "Breaking News" as each negative ad is posted. Ms. Brown, next time one of these flashes across your screen, perhaps you should say, "I strongly believe this degrades the level of discourse in the country," instead of the noncommital softball, "Could this hurt McCain/Obama in this campaign?" Then, just stop reporting it.

If you can't do that - and, trust me, you can't at CNN - I'd stop wizzing in your own trough.

Change vs. Country

There were two shirts at the checkout counter of my local convenience store - one McPalin, one OBiden. The background on one repeated the word "Country", the other "Change." It's hard to imagine the underpinnings of a campaign message being any more abstract. 2004 was a referendum on the war that became a war over patriotism. 2000 was health care vs. anti-Clinton. 1992 was foreign policy for Bush vs. "it's the economy stupid" for Clinton. Today's themes seem one step further removed: change everything vs. put the U.S. first.


Turns out it is a fake!

Click on the image for a larger view. She's holding up two fingers, not one. Not a bad shot to 'shop.
Thanks to BP for the tip.


Anyone know if this is real?

Click on the image for a larger view. It certainly looks real - and funny.

...and before I get lambasted for it. This is the act of a small child. I am not making a political statement. I just find the image humorous.

Army Ten Miler

I know it is strange to say this when I have not hit 30 yet, but I am not in the shape I once was. This morning was my second Army 10 Miler (Last year, I was rehabbing a broken foot), and my fourth 10 miler overall. It was not my best - likely because I have been working more and, thus, eating and exercising less well.

Still, I finished.

A few thoughts from the finish line:
* Before the race starts, they normally have the Golden Knights (Army Parachute) Demo Team drop in. This year, the Canadian drop team, the GKs, and a third group all dropped in separately. Overkill? Perhaps. But I have never seen three teams jump side by side so as to permit one to compare styles. Some fell in formation; others did stacks (when you attach yourself to another jumper; and still others used a looser form focusing on the flying itself.

* There is nothing like overtaking a runner who with racing with a prosthetic. I have mixed feelings about it - and nothing but respect for them and the volunteers who run with them.

* Under the Kennedy Center Overhang, I overtook a piper/runner. He was tooting out "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and so forth, while running not that much slower than I. Damn. It was good for morale on a course that does not permit mp3 players.

* Mile 8's time-clock did not work. My sense of well-being took that as a bad sign.

* Mile 9 was a mass of white noise and the thought that "I really ought to train better for these things. (You didn't have time). I really ought to train better for these things. (and so on)."

* 10 miles seems to be the minimum "long" distance - delineated by the chance that you'll rub a nipple raw in the course of the run.

* I stretched, dawdled, got some schwag - Army 10 Miler = best schwag for a run - and got on the yellow line. It went over the river and could still see thousands of runners pouring over to the Pentagon. It's like seeing another train fly past after you've just gotten off the roller coaster, they're in the throes of it as you watch through residual endorphins.


Really Pretty

It's Going to Be a Wee Wee Day

I was going to title this "Corn Fail," but I imagine the corn - or the Jolly Green Giant - would rather enjoy this. Along with the bris this morning, this is going to be a wee wee day. Stroke 'em if you got 'em!


What They Didn't Predict

When futurists thought about society's progression, what they miss if often of greater impact than what they capture. The famous example is that of Buck Rogers, flying to space with rocket engines at the turn of the century...using a slide-rule. Today, we think of the world with more computers in more places, with better transportation, and with greener technology. What futurists often miss are the fundamental advances in things like materials science.

Take this breakthrough in the production of carbon nanotubes. Even after plastics and fiberglass, nobody drew up plans of a composite-laden future. Spaceships have always been metal, as have most large ships, etc. But now we are looking at the possibility of cars whose bodies can be made of a single slabs of material, lighter and stronger than steel, with transparent portions in place of windows. The point isn't that I know what the future will look like... I am just saying that with carbon fiber and, now, nanotubes, it will look fundamentally different from what we'd envisioned.