Thursday, April 24, 2008

Not Today

I'm an Obama supporter and I'll tell you why. I like that at least for a period of time he ran a somewhat clean campaign focused on what he had to say as opposed to what Hillary has said or done wrong. That's obviously changed, but way back when I voted in the Utah primary it was still true, and even if I was voting now I'd still vote for Obama in the dim hope that it would send a message to politicians and commentators alike. I also like him on certain issues. When Hillary Clinton was voting to support the Iraq War, Barack was speaking at anti-war rallies. But that's not a deal breaker for me with respect to Hillary Clinton at all. She was basing her vote on inaccurate information and at the time I agreed with her. They're so close in other respects that it doesn't really matter to me.

That is the heart and sole of the problem with this primary. If they are so close on policy then what is there to talk about? Well the news media is happy to fill that gap with questions focused on controversy. The Pennsylvania debate was a serious travesty. All of the initial questions had to do with not just old news, but previously covered missteps. I already know about Hillary's sniper fire debacle. I already know that Barack has attended church with a pastor who said "G** D*** America" they've both had several opportunities to talk about it--why do we need to ask them again? Because asking them about policy is boring. Because bickering gets higher ratings than meaningful discourse. Because health care doesn't make for a decent sound bite.

Here's a quote from that same debate:
SENATOR CLINTON: Well, Charlie, I'm going to do everything I possibly can to make sure that one of us takes the oath of office next January. I think that has to be the overriding goal, whatever we have to do.

Obviously we are still contesting to determine who will be the nominee. But once that is resolved, I think it is absolutely imperative that our entire party close ranks, that we become unified.

I will do everything to make sure that the people who supported me support our nominee.

I will go anywhere in the country to make the case. And I know that Barack feels the same way, because both of us have spent 15 months traveling our country. I have seen the damage of the Bush years. I've seen the extraordinary pain that people have suffered from because of the failed policies; you know, those who have held my hands who have lost sons or daughters in Iraq, and those who have lost sons or daughters because they didn't have health insurance.

And so, regardless of the differences there may be between us, and they are differences, they pale in comparison to the differences between us and Senator McCain.

So we will certainly do whatever is necessary to make sure that a Democrat is in the White House next January.

It didn't make the news summaries, even though both candidates expressed a similar sentiment. What do we get instead? We get Charles Gibson asking them if they would commit to being on a ticket together regardless of the primary outcome and both of them being silent. It's funny, and it seems to be making a point that they don't like each other. The real point is that Charles needs to address questions to a candidate by name in a debate.

Now according to this story it seems that race is an issue for 18% of Pennsylvania Democrats, so much so that 68% of that group wouldn't support Barak Obama in a general election. That sounds like a staggering number. A damning commentary on our current opinions about race and the electability (which is not a word btw) of Barack Obama. But let's unpack this number a bit 68% of 18% is about 12%. 12% doesn't sound quite so edgy and divisive but man 68% sure makes the eyes pop out. I say let's stop making the Today Show news writers the biggest swing vote. I say stop trying to make news and just freaking report it.

The news is that both these candidates want a Democrat in the White House, but the "story" is that they are tearing each other apart and that their supporters would rather vote for McCain than the opposing camp. Here's my pitch to the commentators/chief political correspondents/White House Bureau chiefs: If you talk about what's actually happening, you'll be novel enough to get those ratings you're trying to drum up.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Falling out of bed

So several years ago I was first exposed to Mac OS when I taught development courses at Lehigh University (specifically on Director, which I would loosely classify as an abomination of a development environment--an assessment largely based on Lingo) and on Flash, which I still teach to this day (also in a Mac Lab here at USU). But I've never run Mac as my primary OS until just a couple of weeks ago.

So far, so good. I did break down and get a license for End Note because after a day and a half of searching for an open source alternative it looked like the Tex based alternatives weren't quite what I need them to be. Which is really too bad because Office is not exactly my favorite piece of software. Allegedly the next version of open office is going to have bibliographic support built in, and that's kind of the "last mile" problem I'm having right now. I need to be able to insert citations into a word processor that I could use on a daily basis, and mimicking the cite while you write functionality of End Note is also an important feature for me.

I'm slowly breaking down my dependence on SPSS. I got R running and I've successfully been able change the default packages and to import SPSS data. A CSV file generated by Excel hasn't been quite as easy to do.

I do have to say that as a machine (I'm using an old PowerBook Pro with a PowerPC chip (not intel based) this thing has a lot of nice mechanical features out of the box. For instance, if I hook it up to my external display while it's in sleep mode but the cover is still shut, it comes out of sleep mode with the external monitor as the sole display. Which is especially nice because I hate the way dual displays runs on the mac (with program menus always at the top of the screen, I wind up going back and forth--although I did find a keyboard shortcut utility to pop up the current program menu on either screen).

Mostly, I have yet to have any sort of trouble hooking up to a wireless network. And even though it's only been a couple of weeks, I've connected to 3-4 networks, all of which my Dell (which had dueling drivers from XP and my wireless card) had non-stop trouble with.

Oh, and I have a logitec wireless mouse and keyboard that I use in my office. It was plug and play with this PowerBook. After telling it the keys adjacent to my shift keys it was off and running, including use of the volume/mute play/pause buttons on the side of the keyboard. As David Wiley would say, using this thing is like falling out of bed.

Now if only I had the new touch pad on this thing. I'm still not used to having to press the button w/ my thumb.

Monday, April 07, 2008

"Riot" Police

Ok, so don't get me wrong, I like the French. I've only been to Paris and Avignon and I was just a kid in middle school, but it was a fun time (considering I was a typical middle school kid) and I think we as Americans often give them far too hard of a time. So it's with a great deal of reluctance that I point to this picture (you'll have to click on pic #9 yourself) in which I couldn't help but notice that the police who are set to protect the Olympic bus are wearing inline skates!

I'm all for bike cops, and I'm sure inline skates have their place in police work (on say a TV show involving swimsuits and Michael Hasselhoff). But if you're expecting to do crowd control, is it really a good idea to strap a few wheels to your feet? I'm no hand to hand expert but I think that might affect your game a bit.