I just filled the car for 1.81 a gallon. I never thought I'd see that again.

Sent from my mobile device

read the "small thoughts" blog



The NFL will be filming and broadcasting next week's Chargers/Raiders "Doesn't Friggin Matter" Bowl in 3D. The broadcast will be closed to the public and will feed three movie theaters outfitted to display the 3D image.

I would watch that. Thing is, I would still much rather have my team's game available on demand, instead of having spring for a sports package + NFL Network.

Thanksgiving by the Party of First Part to the Creator, Hereinafter Referred to as the "Big Cheese"

The legalities of Thanksgiving are somewhat odd. Under Title 5, Section 6103 of the U.S. Code, it is officially a federal work holiday (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/5/usc_sec_05_00006103----000-.html). In addition, the President also proclaims Xgiving a holiday, as he did this year: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/11/20081121-8.html. Now, I understand that, before the statute, a presidential proclamation was necessary. Famously, Jefferson refused to issue such proclamations, believing in a strict separation of Church and State. Ain't no federal functionary gonna declare gratitude to the almight on his watch, nosiree. But now, when there is a statute stating that Thanksgiving is a federal holiday, does the proclamation serve any legal purpose?


Ramen. Pizza. Together at last.

That's a ramen-crusted pizza. It is real. The layer of white is ricotta to stabilize the top cheese layer. The solution is really quite brilliant. The recipe is here.


Port your favorite Meme to real life...and see how long you keep your job. Available at your own risk from LOLMart.

The Big "O"

The NYT has an interview with the design house in charge of designing Obama's campaign logo. Less interesting in its substance than for its, "Neat to think that someone popped open Illustrator to a blank page one day and came up with this design." aspect.

HT www.kottke.org.



Folding OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) displays are something of a holy grail in the screen market. First it was higher resolution, then it was bigger!, and then thinner! (which is pointless because your DVD player is will 12 inches deep). While those are all great, folding is greater still. Folding OLEDs mean screens that countour to whatever shape is necessary. That means fish-eye screens for simulators or desktop monitors, and it means large screens on folding gadgets, like cell phones:

This is Samsung's thumb-our-nose-at-the-competition proof-of-concept. No word on what this tech costs, but it is safe to say that it is nowhere near "affordable" yet.


Um. I Guess My Ears Feel Good Too?

Warning. This is NSFW. Or rather, the audio is SFW, which is the point, but the overall performance is kinda NSFW. Really, this is here because I don't get it. She likes microphones and, apparently feedback. Is this just a case of, "Finally, someone has gone and done it?"

Things You Already Knew Because You Are Smarter Than Me

Most of us have had to use a Notary Public at some point in our lives, though we could not, for the life of us (lives of us?), tell you what value the Notary added.

Most of also know that courts have clerks for the same reason that, say, buildings have janitors or certain movie sets have fluffers. Namely, someone has a dirty job that keeps the whole operation flowing.

Enter Pennsylvania, whose state courts have "Prothonotaries." Prothonotaries, obviously, evolved from Triloclerks, moving out of the Rolodex, erecting counters, and eventually evolving the computerized bar-code filing formats that can only be accessed through the passing of long forms in triplicate with payment under glass that we have come to expect from modern-day clerks.

Actually, the terms is ecclesiastical, coming from the Greek: protonotari, meaning "first scribe." Insert funny closing zinger here.


Blogging Login

Employees are suing several large employers because the employers do not pay for the time it takes the computer to boot up. Imagine a call center bright and early in the morning. Employees shuffle in, hit their respective machines' power buttons, and then head off for a coffee. Estimated boot-time: 15-30 minutes. Once the system is fully logged in, the employees can "punch in" for the day and start working. The employees claim that they are at work and ready to work and only the machine, provided by the employer, stands in their way. Employers say machines are machines, bottom line, the employees aren't working during that time.

First, the boot times do sound high to most users, but I think more than a few of you out there can attest that they are not overblown. My work computer takes 5-6 minutes, and that's on a relatively tiny network without a master contact system that would be found on, say, a call-center machine. If one is working with a Citrix or mainframe-based system, the times seem "reasonable."

Second, the arguments on both sides are also reasonable. The workers see a forced break of sorts. Employers see no work. Seems to me that the problem is one best addressed by technology. Most machines can be booted remotely. On a network this large, why not just power up the machines 15-30 minutes before workers are set to show up? The mvoe might even go a long way to promoting settlement of these actions.


I Know the Feeling Well

Want to Blow Your Mind? Give It Space Into Which to Expand

Ganzfield-induced Hallucinations.

- 1 ping pong ball, halved
- 1 rubber band or plastic to hold halves about nose-width apart
- 1 Set headphones
- 1 recording of white noise

Just sit in a lit room with the ping pong balls and headphones in place and do...nothing for 10-30 minutes. See what happens.

Or you can read this research account. The hallucinations are widely reported and quite vivid. It is not news that sensory deprivation causes this; it is news that it is so easy to induce. There is no need for a deprivation tank, just a chair, a ball, and an iPod.


@#!)$ In, $)#@ Out.

People are growing more and more skeptical of the bailout, or really the bailouts; or maybe there is just one bailout and the skepticism is just growing in proportion to its estimated cost. But, that is neither here not there given that, in the time it has taken me to pen this, the financial situation has no doubt altered course again.

That said, I have a little praise for Sec. Paulson. He and his boys over thar in Treasurah have realized that buying MBS from the banks is neither prudent nor, in an economic value sense, possible. Instead, they fed the money directly to the bank's general coffers. While that doesn't get me, the taxpayer, any equity, MBS was equity that neither I, nor anyone I knew, wanted. That is a waste of several billion averted. Let's stay on this track.

Mirror's Edge

For a long time now, designers have opted for the "hazy twilight" look to help smooth over the rough spots in their graphics. Mirror's edge takes the opposite approach - the bright daylight that animators like Pixar prefer. I think it works and it signals an important shift in the way these games are envisioned. Wii has shown that interface is more important that pretty pictures, but looking at this shows that the pretty pics don't hurt. Wow.

Wizards of the Coast

For more than a few of us who grew up in the nineties, there is a large black hole of time that we can't seem to fill in with memories. That is, until someone mentions Magic, the Gathering. We spent so. many. hours. dealing, drawing, tapping mana, casting spells, summoning creatures. We oohed at Beta decks and ahhed at rare artifacts. We swapped apocryphal stories of tournament shenanigans. "Did you see the guy who tore up that super-rare card that you have to toss across the table? It buries whatever it lands on, so he tore it up into tiny little pieces and wiped the other guy out in two rounds." The lore was somehow enough to compete well into the gameboy/GameGear era. Does it come as a surprise that I went to an all boys school?

If reading this made you tear up or the economic downturn has turned you off to the idea of working as a a socio-economic construct, this link is for you. Wizards of the Coast is giving away Magic Decks. Next up, 8-tracks, snap bracelets, pogs, Furbies, and Tamagachis.


Tivominos. Loading...30 minutes.

Tivo is now offering the ability to order pizza from dominoes through the Tivo interface. Hm. I'd still have to navigate away from my shows to order. Could you at least provide picture-in-pizza?

I own a Tivo, and I like it. It is fast and does exactly what you ask. It also has the perk of permitting online show scheduling through a pretty reliable interface. What I don't like is that, despite my monthly fee, I am subjected to offers for additional services, so that I have effectively purchased and continue to subsidize a billboard in my home. I don't like it, but I am also pretty good at ignoring it. C'est la video.


Braindroppings Comma Langauge.

I have noticed that many people when using paranthetical phrases, will put in the second comma, but not the first - as in this sentence. There should be a comma between "people" and "when." I think that if they stopped and thought about it, they'd hear the natural pause that damn-near requires the little ticks. It is annoying, isn't it?

Braindroppings - Close isn't the word.

In the AK recount, the Dem (Begich) was up over Ted Stevens as of 8pm last night...by three votes. There are still a lot of ballots to count, so that will change a lot. My question is: why release that information at all? Just tell us who wins at the end.

Braindroppings - Pixar Drops Up

"Up" is the new Pixar film. Flying house; 3D; color me fan-boy as usual.

Braindroppings - The Electric Marshmallow Roasting Test


It is Friday, so I won't do a lot of thinking - I'll just pass along some fun tidbits.

First, a fair so long to Carlin, whose book title has been "adapted" to this post. Our very gracious friends took us him receive the Mark Twain Prize posthumously at the Kennedy Center this week. Lesson learned: SCOTUS has deemed the "fleeting explective" permissible. I never would have *&!#@ ing guessed it.


Barney's in Barney

...Rubble...trouble. (Ocean's 11 and the most Cockney areas of London). In case you haven't heard, there was room post-election for a man-bits-dog story. The dog in question: Barney, the White House pooch. He bit a reporter who reached to pet him.

More surprisingly is that bloggers now had time to assess the legal impact of this bite instead of churning through possible cabinet appointments. Conclusion: The rule that "every dog gets one bite" applies in D.C. and Barney, well, he's bitten someone before. I wonder if Bush can assert executive privilege for simple torts?

Cost of Laziness, $50. Cost of Awesome, also $50

Belkin has released a "switch to mac" cable. Plug one USB end to your PC, the other to your shiny, new Mac, and sit back while the migration software moves all your personal items to your new rig. Do we really have so much stuff on our computers that we require e-Movers? Still, if your time is valuable - i.e., Gossip Girl requires your absolutely undivided attention - or you have ever called MS install support with a question and expected a real answer, this cable's for you.

Mortgage Reform - One Tooth Removed

Mortgage regulation was set to have teeth when first proposed. Among the changes was a proposal to requre the closing agent to read a script to the buyer, including the payment terms, the type of mortgage, etc. The exercise would slow down closings and, in theory, force the buyer to focus on the relevant terms and hear them in plain English. The mortgage industry's lobbyists recently announced that HUD had backed off the script requirement. The mortgage lending industry didn't like the scripts because, well, they would slow down closings. Apparently, even in a down RE market, time is still money.

Perhaps a cleaner loan summary sheet would do equally well to convey the terms to a buyer. In my mind, though, this already exists in the form a HUD-1. While not "clear" in the "apple product packaging" sense, the HUD-1 is one legal-sized page that lays out exactly what you are borrowing, what type of mortgage you are taking on, and what your monthly payment will be. It could be edited to include more detail on the date of adjustable rate resets and to cut out many of the other items that clutter the page, but it is not all that complex. That said, I understand that I am - to my chagrin - considered a sophisticated buyer.

It is for that last reason that I thought a script would be a bold change. I admit that a purchase as large as a house requires a certain level of sophistication and, thus, permits a certain level of "caveat emptor;" however, realpolitik requires that we admit to ourselves that all types of people buy homes and that they don't have the sophistication or attention to read through their loan documents. Their inability to understand the terms is now hurting all of us, and if you are going to hurt me, I support regulation that protects us all from you (including yourself.) That is an instance in which regulation lowers the overall cost to society, regardless of the increased closing costs incurred by realtors and title companies. If they charge us another $1000, that still only represents at most about .5-.7% the price of the property. Consider it the cost of insuring against living through this again.


Obama has expressed to Sen. Reid his desire that Leiberman be permitted back into the fold, or, rather, that he not be forced out of the fold. Or perhaps that the Democrats permit him to retain his positions on various committees as well as his position squarely between the rival parties.

Ambiguities aside, I had championed Leiberman as the GOP VP pick because McCain was best at 'being McCain' and that McCain wanted to run with Joe. Still, I can't help but think that Joe lucked out as the GOP machine balked. I doubt he'd be welcomed back if he was on the ticket.

[There is a smattering of good stuff out there today, so I'll keep my comments short.]


Olberman Feigns an Even Hand

MSNBC removed him and Chris Matthews as lead election correspondents because even the left thought they were too liberal -- the elites didn't want to out-FoxNews FoxNews. He's the cornerstone of MSNBC's nightly lineup primarily as an answer to Dobbs and O'Reilly. The man can't wait to go on a tear against anyone who offends his liberal sensibilities - Hillary, Sarah, Bush, Bush, Bush.

But Mr. Olberman sees himself as a journalist of the old creed. He's honest, fact-driven, and independent. He wanted the hosts of "The View" to know that. His proof? He doesn't vote.

Keith, I am pretty certain that - despite our secret ballot system - everyone who has seen even your sports broadcasts knows who you'd vote for, so you can stop the charade. Second, it is a secret ballot. Wouldn't you accomplish the same by voting and then not telling us who you voted for? At least then you'd be setting a good and very public example of the importance of the franchise, even in bleedin'-blue New York. I mean, seriously?! How can you cover the campaign night after night, getting to speak directly with the most prominent political figures in American politics, and then not vote? Perhaps you'll get it if I dress it up as "Football Night in America" for you: It's like you're an offensive coordinator. You watch film, you go to practice, you analyze every one of the opponents plays, and you do this all day and all week, only to decide when Sunday comes around that you'd rather hang out and play catch in the backyard. It doesn't just seem incongruous for you Keith, it hurts the team.


Hail to Thee, Dean

I was not a Deaniac, so I only got to know "Screaming Howard" once he chaired the DNC. Then, of course, I got to see the product of his "50 State Strategy" in the most recent election. It put blue bodies on the ground in every state - permitting the Obama campaign to step into an existing mold instead of trying to both install ground operations and then expand them in a single campaign cycle. The campaign and the party become one when the former absorbed the DNC into campaign headquarters in Chicago - leaving DC out of the equation almost completely. I give Dean credit for this as well. He understood that what the party and the candidate needed above all was a unified, disciplined brand, and he had the good sense to allow it to happen quietly, without the turf wars we're used to hearing about. So, as he announces that he's ready to move on to his next project, count me a Deaniac.

The Inner Sanctum

Photos from inside the Obama family suite on election night. What amazes me is how low-key the whole get-together appers to be. See the whole set here: http://flickr.com/photos/barackobamadotcom/sets/72157608716313371/

I Am Going To Regret This, I'm Sure

Behold, the LED menorah. Sure, it doesn't have flames, but that's what ANGRY EMAILS are for. $25 (+ tax, dignity). Avail at: http://www.fredflare.com/customer/product.php?productid=4320&cat=103#


Licking My Knees

Spirit Air. Budget, budget travel. The seats are leather, cracked and
dirty.  Water is 3 dollars. My knees are touching the seat in front of
me.  The ad on the back of my tray table offers perhaps the only
solace - a beat up point of view photo of kayaking in the cool green
waters of the Bahamas.

I didn't pay 5 dollars per leg to select a seat ahead of time. I
didn't pay 10 dollars per leg to sit in the aisle, or 15 to sit in an
exit row.   You start doing that, and the 50 dollar difference between
this fight and the next one up in price evaporates - and you're still
on this beat up plane in these beat up seats.

Still missing the feel? Think city bus - and not the circulator or
even the newer busses places like LA, PHI, or DC - old ("classic") NY

Conservatives Want to Paint Bush a Moderate

People like Tony Perkins of the Center for the American Family says
that the success of ballot measures discriminating against gays shows
that the electorate was not leaning left, but rejecting the Bush
administration. Perhaps. And why does Mr. Perkins think Bush flopped?

The war. The global gag order. The rejection of Kyoto. The
deregulation, tax cuts and war on the estate tax.

Where in any of this or the myriad other policies espoused by this
President was there a shred of moderation. If anything, this was a
rejection of big government social and neo-conservatism. For Tony,
that is just not conservative enough. Forget his side's cries of
socialism, this form of conservatism is just despotic.


Sent from my mobile device

read the "small thoughts" blog


I Get That I Don't Get It, Which Means It's Working

I get Jesse Jackson's reaction, and Oprah's, McNabb's, all of DC outside the affluent NW enclave, and the millions of people in church's, community centers, homes, and streets two nights ago. I have felt that feeling before, the one that makes my skin prickle up a bit just thinking about the first shots of people praying at the Western Wall when Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967. I've re-written this sentence six times, and I cant' capture the feeling. It is big and heavy and almost painful, but you feel light while tingling connections between you and your kinsman stretch out from the tips of your hair and fingers to theirs. That's the best I can do.

I also don't get the Rev. Jackson's reaction, and that, too, is beautiful. I am not black, and I did not grow up in a legally segregated America or the civil rights movement. My heroes have not been assassinated then, and I have not watched nearly 20% of my kinsman wasting their lives away in jails now. But, because of all that, it is also no big deal to me that Pres.-Elect Obama is black. Sure, it is momentous, but equally momentous is that his blackness has no bearing in my mind or the minds of many in my generation on how he will lead. That is equality amidst diversity. That is what America told me it has fought for in the past 100 years, and I see that my reaction is the product of the struggles of hundreds and thousands - quietly, from soup kitchens to corporations, and loudly, in Congress, on the field of play, and on the streets - and I feel a deep gratitude.

What I do get is that the struggle is not over.


Nuf Sed.

Arkansas - Equal Rights for "Idiots" but not for Sinners

AR passed a ballot measure that prevents those living together out of wedlock (in AR law) from adopting or acting as foster parents. It is aimed at gays, but includes heterosexual couples. Here is the text:

Section 1: Adoption and foster care of minors. (a) A minor may not be adopted or
placed in a foster home if the individual seeking to adopt or to serve as a
foster parent is cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage which is
valid under the constitution and laws of this state. (b) The prohibition of this
section applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex and same-sex individuals.
So if you are single and have sex with random strangers, you can adopt, but if you live together and choose not to get married, no kids for you. It is not strange for, say, an aunt to take custody of her troubled nieces kids - and auntie may be divorced herself, but living with her boyfriend. Even in my short stint of pro bono family law, I have seen this over and over. Well, not any more in AR.

On the other hand, AR has amended its constituion to remove language in Article 3, Section 5, which says: "No idiot or insane person shall be entitled to the privileges of an elector."[anyone who can vote in AR is called an "elector"]. Based on the results above, it seems to me these people can already vote.

Election Day Wrap Up

At four p.m., I moved to a second precint across town, back near my motel. I stopped in the parking lot for a 10 minute nap, which landed on me like a pile of cheap tan motel blankets. The next half an hour was a set of snippets. I met Justin - the other attorney volunteer at this new location. He told me about their six-hour lines that morning as we passed out Doritos and water down the line. The line still stretched the long length of cinder block hall in the center of this elementary school. VA had closed down the schools for the day and the beat up chairs from classrooms lined both sides so people could take a load off.

To this point, I hadn't said much. When I am that tired, I have been known to just spurt out gibberish as I try to talk. I had the presence of mind not to try.

I met Bob Ralls, the precinct captain. He explained that the crew of canvassers, some of which stood in our circle as the sun finished setting on the cul-de-sac, had turned about nearly 100 percent of his 3,000 voters. Many had come at five a.m., waited for two or three hours, and left when they had to make it to work. At around five p.m., they started trickling back in.

There wasn't even a Republican presence at this second location. They knew the make up of the neighborhood, so I assume they didn't bother.

We answered a few voter ID questions, some absentee questions, and had one gentleman fill out a provisional ballot. And we waited for the after work rush. It never came. I left around six to book it back to DC, my friends, and my bed. There were now more volunteers than voters; we just guessed that everyone was afraid that their vote would not be counted - so they had voted early, either before November 4, or that morning. Nobody wanted to risk a late-night chance at the franchise.

The Virginians all headed to the Granby in Norfolk to watch returns. I can only imagine their jubilation at the announcement four hours later, and the acceptance speech that soon followed.


Election Live Blog

Four AM wake up is catching up to me. We are in that slow section of
the afternoon. Oof - cold fatigue.


Sent from my mobile device

read the "small thoughts" blog

Election Day Live Blog

I met a ROTC/National Guardsman who was tired from putting up door
hangers for Obama. He, and his four roomies, were up at midnight in
C-Tach ( a black neighborhood in Norfolk). Then they woke up at 3am to
start again. He showed up at 10 to take his friend to the polls.

The totals here are near 1700 - daily totals used to be 200ish. It's
cold. I had the worst Tuna sandwich ever. Still, we're clapping out
every first time voter. It really feels like a movement.

Sent from my mobile device

read the "small thoughts" blog

Election Day Live Blog

Our one hour plus line has dwindled to about 10 minutes. One in every
20 was a new voter and I've seen a lot of curbside voters - those who
can't stand in line that long. One woman works with the mental ill.
She drove one of her patients here. She waited an hour in line. He
waited an hour in the van. I bet she was a lot colder.

This district seems to splitting at least even, if not Dem. The
election officers tell me that, in the last election, they saw a
couple thousand all day. Some hours, they saw just a handful of
people. We've seen that many already.

Election Live Blog

I came down last night, stayed in the all-tan America's Best Value
Inn, for about 4 hours. The desk clerk who checked me in, checked me
out. On the way in, he cracked that not all folks around here are
rednecks. This morning, he was listening to Keith Olberman's
countdown. My landsman opened breakfast early for me. He, the janitor,
and I shared Krispy Kremes. I imagine that if you broke down the
campaign calorie intake, KK would make up a good piece of the pie
chart. It certainly put me in the mood.

It is dark and wet. Out here, I met my first Obama voters at the 24
hour Wal-Mart. A golf umbrella, 3 PowerAdes, and a poncho later I am
at the local high school. It is 5 and the line is just out the door of
the building.

Sent from my mobile device

read the "small thoughts" blog