Friday, October 31, 2008

And as long as we're talking about ... anything ... let's talk about the election because you're not totally sick of it yet.

How the world would vote on the US president if the whole world could vote on the US president.

It is a small sample, sure, it's only of people with internet access who went to this site, and the Obama fans are probably sending this to their friends a lot more than the McCain fans, but it's super overwhelming. It's 86/13 Obama. Counter the sample effect and maybe it's 70/30 Obama. (or maybe it's 60/40, or maybe it's 90/10, who knows! It's probably not in McCain's favor though.) At any rate, voting for someone that the whole world likes sounds like a good idea. Making international friends is good, especially as we (maybe) go from being the world powerhouse to being only one of the world powerhouses.

Also, Fox News doctors photos. THIS IS NOT OKAY THIS IS SO NOT OKAY THIS IS TERRIFYING! I don't know, maybe this is a common practice among news studios. If it is, point me to some other examples. But the fact that Fox News, with all its claims to be a reputable news source, and in fact one of the leading US news sources, would stoop to such a dirty trick to subconsciously demonize some people who wrote bad things about them... this is evil propaganda shit. This is evil evil evil. Oh my god this is so evil and not okay Fox News should be taken off the air immediately.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

As long as we're talking swear words, let's talk sex too.

Ooh! Double the fun, controversial topics. And double the being-a-crazy-hippie. I was born four decades too late. Except I like showers and not acoustic guitars.

The question: should people be allowed/encouraged/neutral to have as much (safe) sex as they want?

Now bear with me. I realize even posing the question is a little Victorian of me. But let's draw a parallel to eating: at one time, sex and eating were both essential to survival, and the more you did of both, the better. Now we can eat as much as we want. Should we? No. Also, we have enough time and energy to have sex as much as we want. Should we?

My straw-man "no" argument: usually, doing the "natural" thing is pretty good. At least when it comes to your body. (see: eating) Safe, frequent sex requires condoms or some other birth control (even between two healthy loving people... babies, etc.). That seems unnatural. It'd be like if we were eating as much food as we want, but we took diet pills so we didn't get fat. If nature has designed us in a certain way (that having sex makes babies), shouldn't we avoid sex unless the possibility of babies is involved?

My "yes" argument: Well, frequent (safe) sex doesn't seem to hurt. And in a lot of (most? some?) cases (that is, where two people are really in love), it really helps. And sexual repression does seem to hurt (see: the Victorian era, Puritans). It seems like regular sex is beneficial to physical/mental/emotional/or some kind of health. Plus, why not?

I guess where I come out of this "thought experiment" (pow!) is a resounding "yes", if you are two people in love, and you're being safe, go ahead and do it as much as you want. It just bothers me a little (only a little) that Modern Science (inventor of high fructose corn syrup, thalidomide, and the Atkins diet) has had to come up with the latex condom for us to be healthy in this way.

post script: okay, on second thought, maybe we've just evolved too fast. Up until 100 years ago, (200? I dunno) having lots of babies was good. Now, with worldwide overpopulation, having lots of babies is bad. That's only 100 years! We wouldn't evolve to be less fertile so quickly (especially because, in evolution, reproduction is weird... those of us that did evolve to be less fertile (despite being good to the greater good) would not survive because the super-fertile ones would out-populate them. tragedy of the commons n'at.). This doesn't really bother me anymore. That's why this is a postscript: if I included this paragraph in the main essay, the essay itself would be rather pointless.

I'm fucking goddamn shit ass frustrated!

Argh! I would kind of like to get out and do fun things, especially as Halloween is around the corner. Check that: I would like to meet fun people, or rather, meet the kind of people with whom I became really great friends with in Pittsburgh (and Cleveland!) and THEN go do some fun things. As it is now, I don't know what I'd even do. Anyway, I'd like to get out in the world and sort of get my 20's started, you know, that decade where you (supposedly) make a name for yourself and have some fun too before you have kids and start living their lives.

But I'm sick! The heck of a cold kind of sick that's been with me for a week and a half now and shows no signs of going anywhere! Wellness Formula pills be damned! I'm so hydrated I feel like a fireplug, I'm sleeping 17 hours each night, and, uh, I'm not licking doorknobs. I mean, I'm supposed to be in good health, with an almost-perfect balance of eating healthily, sleeping enough, and exercising daily. What have I done wrong?

Well. Whining about how I'm sick, or how I'm bored because I'm sick, isn't going to get me anywhere. So instead, I'll talk about swear words.

Okay, point #1, what's the deal with swear words? You know, "shit" and "poo" and "feces" mean the same thing (as do "fuck" and "copulate") but you can say some of them and not others. Okay, yeah, it's silly that a certain combination of sounds is not okay to utter. Fine.

Let's just deal with the world-with-swear-words-in-it, instead of rallying for their demolition. (we can do that later, but it might accidentally take a lot of fun out of life.) The reason I started thinking about swear words is because my dad called me out on it, said he didn't know when I had gotten so vulgar. (ouch. when your dad says, semi-disappointedly, "I didn't know you had gotten so ___", where "___" is a bad quality, it hurts.) I got to thinking about it: why do I swear on my blog (and in real life)? And do I mind?

First question: why do I swear? Part of it is subconsciously to fit in-- nobody doesn't swear. Friends, acquaintances, coworkers, my boss. (as for the last, I've made sure to notice instances when he drops f-bombs casually in meetings-- he sure does. never angrily or anything, just "well, if this happens, we're fucked" or something like that.) Everyone swears. This is okay. As long as they don't mean it in a bad way, I don't care what words they use.

And the other part? Because I can, maybe? Like it or not, swear words are the last magic words we have; they give you the ability to instantly inspire a certain feeling. Is it crass or cheap? Maybe. Maybe if I were an eloquentman, I could toss out a polysyllabic zinger that meant "fuck" without actually saying "fuck." Maybe everyone would look at me like I was from the 1800's. Sure, if you overuse swearing, you sound dumb. But sometimes nothing fits the bill better than dropping your jaw, standing there a minute, and going "well, fuck me!" Sometimes it becomes a personal hallmark: I think I've created the phrases "balls dammit" and "are you fucking me?" (translation: are you joking?) and I love saying them both. Compound swears (cockbadger, crap-in-a-hat, my Moroccan friends' "shit fucking good food", etc.) are usually funny. And I don't think this makes me particularly juvenile. They're just a few more very powerful words in your ol' wordbag, and they should be pulled out if the scene (improv or no) calls for it.

Second question: do I mind? Do I think I should stop swearing? Nah. I don't even do it that much (maybe I do it more on this blog than in real life, because I get angry more in this blog than in real life, but even in the blog, I haven't cursed more than once or twice in as many weeks). Maybe it's a kinda lay-off thing: dear culture, let adults smoke pot if they want, let them have sex with whomever they choose however they choose (if it's safe)*, and don't tell us to stop swearing. So yeah, Dad, I don't want to be confrontational. I guess I'm just a little more freewheeling (west coast software engineer) than you were at my age (midwest lawyer). That's okay for both of us.

* hoo boy, thinking about this opened up another whole bag of fish.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Now, Michelle, you're contradicting yourself.

Inbox today: "There's never been a more important time to support this movement for change."

Well, it beats McCain campaigners, who are apparently robocalling and spam-texting more nonsense about Obama and Ayers.

But this is pretty awesome. Because McCain is just throwing out all the usual dirty tricks, and Obama doesn't care! His lead is widening! Or rather, the voters don't care, and they're seeing through all this politics-as-usual nonsense. Assuming the votes stay as they are (knock on a big ol' tree that McCain and Palin would gladly cut down), this could really be a turning point in campaigning and maybe even politics. Or maybe I'm off on an idealism streak again.

Going to Pittsburgh in a half hour! If you know any good iphone games or anything, let me know, I've got a long flight or two. Wheee!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I did a thing!

Google Analytics just launched a lot of features at a conference called eMetrics. Here's a post about it, from a totally independent blog, that apparently has like a lot of readers and stuff. I'm responsible for part of it! (maybe I don't have to be oblique about this, I dunno, whatever, but the exact thing that I did is not the point.) Part of a sentence of this article (in this post from a super big deal blog) would not have been written, if not for me.

I still can't demo what it is that I did, because it's not out in the general public (only for some special people who signed up for all the new features), but pretty soon, I will be able to point you to a site in Analytics, and be like "click this, I did that, it is a useful thing that you can do now that you couldn't do before, and like 92809890483097 other people can do that too, and maybe like 1% of them actually want to do it, but that's still 928098904830 people, and their lives are all a little bit better, thanks to me." And I started work almost exactly two months ago. Hey, you should go into software, it's a pretty cool business. Better, you should work at Google, our products launch really fast.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Old fudd hears new pop, enjoys it; also, Boogieman

as I do every now and then. (see, as most pop is aimed at like 15-year-olds, I am way old for this demographic. And I'm still at the age where I will be proud whenever I can call myself old. (Actually, I hope I'm like that my whole life.)) Apparently "American Boy" by Estelle featuring Kanye West is already a super-mega-platinum hit, but I just heard it for the first time. Good song! Maybe it's just the chorus. What can I say, a catchy hook, huh?

Other news: super sandwich eaten before they could measure it. Jajaja.

And go Devil Rays!

Okay, and Boogieman: the Lee Atwater Story. (warning: link starts a video which makes noise) The story of the guy who wrote the Republican playbook of mudslinging campaigns and underhanded Machiavellian tricks. This guy is terrifying! He's so ruthless! And all his tactics are still in use today: if you say "Obama pals around with terrorists" a lot, even if it's not true, people will associate "Obama" with "terrorist", and that's what McCain and co. are trying to do. Argh!

See this movie, it's pretty worth it. And think twice whenever you say you think so-and-so is a bad dude because you might have heard it from somewhere.

But instead of just going "Republicans are so evil!" which is what this movie will make you believe, I'd like to hear the other side. Is there a Democrat Lee Atwater? Is it more of a committee or something? Is it just that Democrats are more reluctant to fight dirty, and sometimes lose because of it? Or is it just that Republicans are slimier? If the last is true, then geez, vote Democrat all day long, because even if you agree with the Republican goals, the ends don't justify the means in this case.

And one more footnote: Lee Atwater is an interesting guy, or at least the movie makes him out to be. Even though his actions were pretty dirty, they don't portray him as this great Satan. Instead, he's just an insecure kid who got a chance to play with the big boys, and ultimately becomes this tragic anti-hero. And whoa, he reminds me of Sam McUmber. I think it's the hair.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A really appropriate dream

I was on stage in a Scotch'n'Soda show, and it was some adaptation of Shakespeare or something, and I didn't know my lines. Well, that's not true, I did know my lines. I just realized like halfway through the show that I wasn't sure if I had ever read the script. But I was doing fine. Everything I said just happened to be the right thing, even though I was improvising. But I was worrying that the next thing I say might be wrong, but then I'd say it, and it'd be fine.

(Huh! Sounds like my life right now. But let's hope it's not prophetic:)

Then there was a scene where we pretended to be audience members, and we would all shout out stuff, and I wasn't doing so well there. Then there was intermission, and the tech people all had to come fix up the stage, and I kept getting in everyone's way, especially Ankur and Matta. (sorry, guys!) And then act 2 didn't happen.

Uh oh. Oh well, like I said, going fine so far. And, doomly prophecies aside, that's the best I can hope for.

Speaking of Scotch'n'Soda, I'm going to Pittsburgh next weekend! (The only Scotch'n'Sody thing I will do is watch their show.) Weird, I first wrote "I'm going home next weekend." I guess it's because, if you picked my family up out of Cleveland and transplanted them, there would be nothing homelike about Cleveland for me. Anyway, I'm super excited!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barack-campaign, I have caught you in a lie!

Quote from my inbox today:

You already know how it feels to own a piece of this incredible movement. Will you watch the video and -- when Barack needs you most -- make another donation of $25 or more?

Quote from my inbox, September 30:
The need for your support today is more urgent than it will ever be.

Ah! Granted, the first one was Michelle Obama, the second was David Plouffe. But Barack-campaign, make up your mind! I'm afraid the need for my support has already been more urgent than it is now or will ever be, so I am not donating again. (I did donate the first time, though, cynic though I am. Partially because I have the same warped mindset as everyone else, that somehow my vote will count for more than 1 if I pay for it. Partially because I wanted an Obama T-shirt.)

Still vote for him. But pay some attention to your local politicians! I'm thinking of setting up a table somewhere and handing out candy to people if they will discuss state and local politics with me. That way, my vote can count for way more than 1, in races where it will matter a lot more. First order of business, though: I need a table. Seattlers, if there are any of you reading this, would you like to join me? (and do you have a table?)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Google Analytics is great

and not just because I work on it. Thanks to GA, I've been able to find that people have searched for the following things and landed on this humble blog. If any of these are you, thanks for making my day a little brighter, thanks for stumbling on the Snail Shell, and you're awesome at searching.
super disclaimer: nothing is personally identifiable. nothing. all I know is "someone searched for these things." I work at Google, and I probably couldn't figure out who you are, and if I tried, I would probably get fired. We are so all-about privacy, it is not even funny.

"Hyland Software" salary -- i probably shouldn't post this, but if this was you, let me know and i can tell you
"Oedipus Rex and the Motherfuckers" -- twice!
"Where the hell is Matt" "spoiled kid" dancing -- yep, that's pretty much my entire life
lucid dreamer summit county colorado -- ... and that's my ideal life.
Boyles bar slane -- who are you? were you there? that's awesome!
dress code at Hyland Software -- t-shirts and shorts. it's a software company.
in der yablons -- remember WASP?
Oedipus and the Motherfuckers -- close, but no cigar
Buses in Donegal -- hey, they're pretty weak, you should maybe rent a car.
rambutan circus jarred snail -- four unrelated things. what could this query be about?
"wenis mcgee" -- not quite a googlewhack... this guy also used those two words. i hope this was adam, though, bored late one night.
snail shell poetry -- good luck!
snail shell (for cars) -- it's not so useful.
is there another name for a snail shell? -- err, maybe?
snail shell nutrients -- Oh god, no! Stop! It's crunchy and it doesn't digest so well-
what is a snail shells door -- they, uh, don't have one, they just live in-
why snail shell is living things -- well, it's sort of like your bones, they're not living, but they're part of this living thing...
why snail have there shell so hard -- I have no more answers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty

It's blog action day! The theme is poverty! I'm sick of blogging for today, so I'll just shout out to Kiva. Hey, I was just going to donate there, but it looks like everything is just about funded. What's up? Are they out of people who need loans? If that's the case, I imagine they'll get more soon enough. Geez, this is the most dysfunctional Blog Action Day post ever.

Let me try again. Hmm. Poverty. I don't really have any big ideas on the issue. Greg Mortenson does, though, and after reading that book about him, I'm pretty convinced that he's doing a pretty good thing. I think I blogged about it before. He's building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kids can go to those schools and learn how to help their people out of poverty. (also, they won't go to the radical madrassas who will pay them to become angry fundamentalists. whatever you think about the USA's "war on terror", fundamentalists aren't great no matter how you slice it, and education helps prevent fundamentalism.) Throwing money at a problem won't solve it, but if you throw money at the Central Asia Institute (Mortenson's foundation) and they build schools for kids, maybe that will solve it.

At any rate, I don't want an argument about whether the Central Asia Institute is going to save the world, or whether they're The Best place to donate money. They are doing some good, and let's leave it at that. I'd just like to say that my personal Blog Action Day thing to do is to donate some money to the Central Asia Institute, and I'd encourage you to do the same. It's a tiny gesture, but every little bit helps.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

... because everyone knows I hate gay people on the internet

Oh my god, oh my god, if you don't get the context of the title line, it's an inside joke from summer 2006. I do not hate gay people. I like gay people as much as any other people. I absolutely think gay people should be allowed to marry: maybe your religion doesn't allow two dudes or two ladies to get it on, whatever; but separation of church and state etc, and legally there are benefits to being two people who want to spend their lives together, and it's not fair if some people are oriented* towards that other person being the same sex. Hell, the state should only allow civil unions for any couple, straight or gay. "Marriage" seems like a religious term, and the state shouldn't worry about it.

*I am accepting as an axiom that gay people don't "choose" to be gay. If you disagree with that axiom, either we can agree to disagree, or you can show me evidence that it's false (I have yet to see any), or you can meet some gay people and talk to them and maybe you will be convinced.

OKAY! Now that's out of the way, we can get on with the content of the post. (note that most of the time, people who have to say that they like gay people, or that they have gay friends, actually don't. Please take this post as an exception to that rule.)

Huuggh. Right. The issue: adoption. Now, in the current world, I say hell yes, let gay people adopt, because orphanages exist. If there are two loving men or two loving women who want to give a poor kid a chance at life by bringing him/her up in a family, why are we stopping them? Even someone who thinks gay people are weird should agree that some parents are better than no parents!

BUT! Say the world were different. Say there was a shortage of babies, and a surplus of parents who want to adopt. Should we give equal adoption rights to gay and straight couples? I say no, from the perspective of balance. Men and women are different, and having two perspectives on life, from two people who are different in one of the most fundamental ways that two people can be different, is better than having an overly masculine or overly feminine perspective. Yin and yang n'at. Are there exceptions? Sure- there are tons of gay couples who would be better parents than straight couples. But, all other things being equal, I'd vote to give the kid to the man and woman.

Why am I even posting this? This is apropos of nothing: it's not like I'm in an argument with someone over this. I guess I'm feeling a conservative backlash, because I'm getting sick of politics in general. Hey, diehard Obama-ers: you're no easier to take than diehard McCainers. Okay, maybe a little easier to take because I agree with you usually. But still, there's a lot of smugness and sarcasm, and if I were a McCain supporter, I would say fuck off! There's no way you'd convert me to vote Democrat with the kind of attitude I've been getting. Give me a soft-line approach, or an argument that doesn't demean the other side, and I'll give you more than six seconds of my time.

So here it is: my little dash of conservatism. Of course I'm still supporting Obama- please vote for Obama. Today's reason is because McCain is super anti net neutrality, and Obama is for it- but geez Obama folks, lighten up!

(... aaaaand I just alienated 100% of Seattle. I do not think I have met a Republican here. Yeah, great, we Emerald City dwellers are the enlightened ones. But don't get smug about it.)


1. Two friends, with whom I interact on a regular basis (although independently of each other), are loud eaters. Arrgghh!

2. I spit on the ground sometimes while I'm riding my bike. And I blow snot rockets out my nose.

Now, #2 is much grosser than #1. But nobody has to put up with me expelling bodily fluids onto the pavement. And have you ever ridden a bike in cold weather? I swear, all the moisture in your body condenses in your nostrils. So I'd say it's justified.

This has been gross/not-gross! What do YOU do that's gross?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recipe challenge, round one

Fans of the formerly-at-CMU-but-now-not blogosphere may be familiar with the recipe challenge between Julie and me. If not, a quick recap: person A picks 3-5 ingredients, with which person B must make a dish. Then person B shall pick another 3-5 ingredients, and so on.

Julie's first challenge: beets, yellow mustard, angel hair pasta, cinnamon.

I'll walk you through my mental process to make it sound like I am a totally sweet chef: Okay, angel hair, first. So, noodle salad, or noodles and sauce, or noodle casserole, or noodles with something on top. Options "sauce", "casserole", and "something on top" all don't mesh with beets in my book, and certainly not when you throw in mustard and cinnamon. And angel hair doesn't have much flavor, so anything goes with it.

Beets are sweet. They're kinda like apples. Apples like cinnamon. Rock on. But yellow mustard? Dearest Julie, how cruel. I was tempted to substitute some mustard seeds and go Indian (with the cinnamon) because I'm on an Indian kick and mustard seeds are fun to cook, but she did say "yellow mustard." Yellow mustard! Some pedestrian Plochman's French's Heinz junk mixing with the furious beets and lithe noodles. Huh. I won't stand for this! I bought a little jar of Colman's (of Norwich) Original English Mustard, which must be better because it costs more.

Okay, so we have this noodle salad (sounds so much more enticing than "pasta salad") that's gonna be sorta appley sweet with beets. Toss in a cucumber for more crunch without changing the flavor much. Break the pasta into small pieces so it's easier to eat. We have our food. Now for the sauce.

I don't know from sauce, but I do know that you can mix oil and vinegar and get a sauce. Plain vegetable oil (olive oil sounds awful here) and apple cider vinegar (there are the apples!). We need mustard and cinnamon, so throw them both in. How's it taste? Hmm. Uhh... hm. Now the culinary hero in me says "it's sweet, it's tart... it needs something to balance the flavor towards salty and meaty... soy sauce." The actual me just says "I like soy sauce," and pours some in.

And it's pretty good! I would eat it again! I might even make it for guests! But I have no taste buds. Please, make it for yourself, and tell me what you think; I'm quite interested.

And Julie! Round 2 is cranberries, squash of your choice, milk, and peas. Ooh, that might be bitchy. In keeping with the fun spirit of things, of course, cool recipes are more important than necessarily using all of those four particular ingredients. The gauntlet is thrown, take it up at your leisure.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Fall Friday!

The sun is shining, the brewhouses are making pumpkin ale, football players are getting fined for celebrating*, umm, leaves are turning colors, Traders Joe is stocking novelty decorative gourds, people are buying haystacks for the first time in their city-slicking lives.

(*NFL: lay off. Geez. Take a lesson from Usain Bolt and let the players have a little fun.)

Fall is here, it's nice, and it is super nostalgic. It's the season of high school football, weekend trips home when you don't like your current existence (I'm talking about college, not now), trick or treating in your nicely-sized 60-house neighborhood, awkward dates at high school dances (boy if I had a dime for every time some writer picked up THAT tired theme...), things burning, the Panther Hollow bridge a good view, listening to your new ipod as you walk through dark Shadyside streets, new opportunities! classes! plays! and you're not sick of it yet, your family putting out Halloween decorations, sweatshirts, baseball games and the smell of hot dogs in the air before you knew that hot dogs are terrible things to eat, pumpkin picking at an actual farm where you get as many pumpkins as your dad can lift, running up and down stairs so you'll be "in shape for ski season", and I dunno, chestnuts roasting on an open fire or something. Wait! That's not till Easter.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

O Internet, you fail me!

For once, I know what I want. A duvet cover. Queen size. Solid lime green like #00FF00 none of this fake lime stuff if I saw a lime like this I would throw it away. Either organic cotton or cheap as hell, because it does not touch me. My luxurious bamboo sheets caress me so gently the duvet cover could be made of porcupines. This is entirely decorative.

Do not also sell me a duvet; I already bought this bag o' synthetic fill from a couple of honest but incorrect garage salers. They told me it was down I only found out later it was not down it was more like synthetic like from a polyester not a duck. NO SHAMS what is a sham I DONT WANT ONE. No sheets, or three-piece sets (of which two are undoubtedly shams), my sheets experience is complete but for a duvet cover.

O Bountiful Internet, get me a lime green like duvet cover now or I may be forced to do something tragic.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

In the real world, you don't have to take work home with you

... so I don't. But I take my mental state with me. Wow! On a good day, I can go run a hundred miles after work! On a bad day, I can barely slink back to bed and curl up with a mug of tea. (or "Macafe", this bizarre root product I found at the Madison Market, which sure doesn't taste like coffee. it's not a bad taste, but it isn't coffee.) The Peter Bjorn and John album has helped my bike rides significantly.

It seems better for mental health to drop everything at work. Come on, zen zen zen. Oh also, I've been meditating daily (almost... probably 6 days/week) for ... 2 1/2 months? No real progress there, but patience patience patience, right? Fellow meditators: do you find that you sit down and time flies by without you actually focusing on your breath at all? I don't mean I get distracted from it, I mean I never get there in the first place.

If you know how to cook Indian food, I'm always open to tips, recipes, ideas. That's my new culinary venture. That, and a cooking contest with Julie.

At any rate, welcome to Relocation, Month 1.25. It only gets easier from here. (and in 2 weeks and 2 days I get to go back to Pittsburgh! not to say that everything is bad here; it's just difficult. a couple months from now, i'll be cruising along in this brave new world. for example: there is an awesome coffeeshop on every corner. i can count five places within four blocks that i can get killer coffee with atmosphere. how neat is that! if starbucks tried to start up in seattle today, it wouldn't have a chance.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It's called "mudslinging"

and it's awful. Chill out, McCain and Obama! And here the blame falls maybe 50/50. I'd say it's 60% on Obama, because of his big push once upon a time to unite people, not divide them. But then, yeah, there's this "Obama is friends with terrorists" nonsense from Palin. What?! Haven't we moved past this? What's next, "Obama hates white people"? "Obama burns flags and also babies"? Come on, McCain campaign, as long as it's a knock-down drag-out war, why don't you come out and say it: "Obama is a Muslim. And all Muslims are terrorists."

But I guess the answer to my earlier rhetorical is no, we haven't moved past this. *sigh* And I guess I'm not helping here, by calling out McCain on his negative ads. This post is as partisan as any.

We need Jesus to run for president. Turn the other cheek n'at. Plus, he'd sure get the evangelical vote. At least, I hope.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Contacting voters inobtrusively

All you readers are pretty political. At least, some of you are. I have a question:

I'd like to try to convince people to vote for Barack Obama. But I don't want to go door-to-door, and I don't want to call people. It's a matter of principle: I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE telemarketers, and like it or not, calling people for Obama is just as annoying as calling people to sell them a thing. Same with going door-to-door; it's a little nicer because you get some human contact, but it's still bothersome. (almost. maybe 75% as bothersome. still more bothersome than I want to be.)

What should I do, dear readers? I'd like to email voters, but that's as insincere as it gets: it'd just be a form letter. Plus, I don't have an email list. Another option is standing out on the street and talking to passersby if they look interested in talking. Actually, I'd like that: stand out with a sign that says "Talk to me about voting for Obama" or even just "talk politics with me!" and people can talk to me if they want. Basically, I want an opt-in, not an opt-out, method of convincing people. It seems more civilized that way.

The Best song length?

This guy wrote an article claiming that the optimal length of a song is 2:42.

It's a nice argument, but it's wrong, and I present one solitary but irrefutable bit of evidence:

"Our House" by Madness clocks in at 3:23.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The ups of edit/test/debug, and the downs of being That Guy

Let's start with the downs, so we can end on a high note. I was That Guy twice tonight. No, not that That Guy, or that That Guy, or... well, nevermind. That's not very descriptive, is it? I mean the wimp-out guy. The guy who doesn't want to do a thing.

First I canceled plans to meet some friends on the East Side, because it was far and buses and waah waah. To be fair, it is far, and I don't have a car, but that's not really an excuse. I think, if you're going to go carless, you have to be willing to get around on your own (via bike or bus), or else you become That Environmental High-and-Mighty Guy. Anyway, I felt kind of bad about that. Being the wimp-out guy just undercuts everyone else's plans. It's hard enough to make plans to do a thing these days without people undercutting your plans. Sorry, friends I was going to meet on the East Side!

Then I went to a swing dance, actually went to it, and then wimped out. I mean, I guess having no swing experience beyond a few moves Jared was kind enough to show me doesn't help. But I should have realized how ill-prepared I was; I could like stumble through a basic lindy hop step (or "swing-out", I guess it's called) which is fine if you're dancing for 8 counts and then stopping, but it makes it pretty painful to try to dance a whole song. I'm signing up for a class (or at least trying to; they still haven't gotten back to me) and after that I'll give it another go.

Argh! So, on to the brigher side of life: work is pretty fun. I say only "pretty fun" because I haven't actually programmed anything world-changing yet; other than that, it's a blast. Now that I feel like I can make changes somewhat competently, I'm just going to town. Hacking and slashing code wherever I want. (Sorry to the rest of my team if it's getting obnoxious!)

And every line of code I change, I can compile and run it, and then see my changes happening. Edit, test, debug, repeat hundreds of times. It's really thrilling! It's like Legos: I'll build a few blocks, then build a few other blocks over there, then click them together. Hey, it looks good, cool. Whoops, it broke, let's pick up the pieces and start again. I think CS is an unusually lucky field in that you get so much instant gratification. If I were an engineer building a bridge, I'd have to wait until the whole thing was done before I could see if it worked or not. Or if I were a biologist with some cells in a petri dish, I'd have to feed them and stuff, and then weeks later they could get bumped by a carelessman, and then you're ssssssssunk!

But programming is like eating candy. Make a change, get an M&M. Make a change, get an M&M. Make a bigger change, get a little fun-sized 100 Grand bar. Every two weeks, get a Payday. It's pretty great. You should try it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I'm unsatisfied!

Grump grump grump! I wanted Sarah Palin to drop an f-bomb or something! (... still, more on that later) Instead, it was a bunch of 2-minute stump speeches. "What did they say that was different, really? ... There's all this talk about change, change, change. It's all gimmicks." I guess that's bad, if the only reason I'd watch a debate is to hope for a meltdown.

Maybe it's because I (like you, probably) don't follow local or state politics, really. It's just this one shot every 4 years, and by the time you have enough consensus to have half the country behind you, you have to be this inoffensive boring person. Glenn Beck wrote an article about how partisanship is the death of everything, and also you should follow politics more often than the Olympics. (I support the first half of this article, and not the second)

Tom Robbins seems appropriate, as ever:
"As any of the learned professors would explain, plied with sufficient tequila, no matter how fervently a romantic might support a movement, he or she must eventually withdraw from active participation in that movement because the group ethic- the supremacy of the organization over the individual- is an affront to intimacy.
As for magic, there's none at all because the aim of any social activist is power over others, whereas a magician seeks power over only himself: the power of higher consciousness, which, while universal, cosmic even, is manifest in the intimate. It would seem that a whole human being would have the capacity for both intimacy and social action, yet sad to say, every cause, no matter how worthy, eventually falls prey to the tyranny of the dull mind.
Dullards can put a pox on the most glorious moral enterprise by using that enterprise as a substitute for spiritual and sexual unfolding. Finally, it is dullness and not evil that begets totalitarianism, although some... go so far as to contend that dullness is evil." - Still Life with Woodpecker, chapter 53

I think this is appropriate. Maybe it's just a case of me agreeing with every zany thing Tom Robbins says, and forcing a quote where it doesn't really fit. Either way, with two-party politics, I am dissatisfied!

So vote Obama, but don't do it just because he's a Democrat. Or vote Tom Robbins. Or Optimus Prime, or Mickey Mouse, or Richard Nicklaus Hoesdown. I don't even know anymore. I'm voting for a good night's sleep.

Man, this is weird.

You know how sometimes you'd just really like to hear a certain song or album?

All day, I've had this urge to listen to James Taylor.

If I'm ever making fun of your music, just claim the nostalgia defense, and I will stand down immediately.

Well, it could be worse. My dad could have been into Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow.