Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mister Rogers - Exposing Voting Machine Problems Since 1974

Michael Goldfarb - Cretin

1984: Steve Allen was watching you

For all you geeks who are also history buffs, this should take you back.

Steve Allen and foxy spouse Jayne Meadows (purrrrrrrr) put together this little training in VHS tape format in 1984 - Betamax was soooo 1982.

More than just a cheesy computer how-to offering from two stars who were probably already past their prime when it came out, this tape is like a trip in the way-back machine as you navigate the numerous silly 80s references that some of you only know from watching a certain VH1 show.

Age Old Halloween Question

Just how much candy can you get into a pillowcase?

Apparently, the answer is about 48 pounds.

This article will give you the layouts and measurements, along with tips on how to get that many tasty treats into your sack. Just don't come to my house.

10/30 Campaign Sign of the Day

Moe the Mower

Cutting the grass sucks. A lot.

That's why everyone needs Moe, the robotic lawn mowing sheep.

And what a sheep. Built in GPS navigation. Sensors for obstacle avoidance. Scary-ass lawn mowing teeth. Like all great things, it was developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Moe the lawn mowing sheep.

He's baaaaaaad.

The Sharp Blade of Truth

Roger Cohen, writing in his NY Times column, illustrates the areas in which Barack Obama stood apart from his competitors, and how that has improbably led Cohen to support Obama in the upcoming presidential election.

Cohen points to this passage specifically: Of the countless words Barack Obama has uttered since he opened his campaign for president on an icy Illinois morning in February 2007, a handful have kept reverberating in my mind:

“For as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible.”

It's a very good read, especially if you can see the connection between Obama and the America a lot of us remember and wish to recreate.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Guess it's cheaper than buying a new one

Periodic Table of Vulgarity

Click to make it bigger.

Air Quotes


Ana Marie Cox opines on Sarah Palin's proclivity for veering off in strange, new directions and whether that means she's a maverick or a rogue.

Money quote:

Having observed the McCain campaign for almost two years, I’m inclined to believe Palin’s less-scripted moments are, in fact, less a result of active disobedience than in the governor’s own somewhat McCain-like unwillingness to stick to a script. Here, in Toledo, where she just gave a speech on energy independence, Palin’s own independence took a literal turn: If there is any one place she has gone rogue, it is against her teleprompter.

Why People Hate Windows

Check & Mate

What's a person to do when someone keeps stealing her Obama sign from her front yard?

Paint the Obama sign on her yard.

Damn straight.

This sums up the campaign quite nicely, thank you


Thomas Yunck has a good take on what the GOP is facing, and uses a bit of history to illustrate one way it could turn out:

"In '48 when Truman, though facing a sweeping defeat, decreed a robust civil rights plank for the Dem platform and Humphrey intoned that we must, in Lincoln's words, "do the right, as God has given us to know the right," the racists bitterly decamped. A body formerly known as the Party of Lincoln invited them in, gave them succor, and crafted a cynical "southern strategy." Bad move.

Though for a time they prospered, in the end the infection must prove fatal. This unholy union is now reduced to a mash-up of Dixiecrat legatees and fellow travelers: prairie gunslingers, anti-tax fetishists, end times Rapturists, militiamen and Millenarians, jingoists and misanthropes, survivalists and skinheads, and the odd secessionist witch doctor. The infestation has taken over the organism."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

10/28 Polling


Great Moments in Voter Suppression

More Pennsylvania Ugly

I can't help the fact that I was born and raised there, but these people are pathetic.

GOP Civil War

As often happens at this point in a losing campaign, factions within the trailing party are beginning to eat their own as they look for a new approach to winning. From the LA Times:

The social conservatives and moderates who together boosted the Republican Party to dominance have begun a tense battle over the future of the GOP, with social conservatives already moving to seize control of the party's machinery and some vowing to limit John McCain's influence, even if he wins the presidency.

In skirmishes around the country in recent months, evangelicals and others who believe Republicans have been too timid in fighting abortion, gay marriage and illegal immigration have won election to the party's national committee, in preparation for a fight over the direction and leadership of the party.

My view is that the majority of voters in this country tend to occupy the middle ground, while the extremes of both parties make a lot of noise. The 2006 election was a warning shot to extremists on both sides that they don't represent the salient interests of the population as a whole, and that we're looking for a more centrist approach to governing that's more inclusive of the different viewpoints that exist.

A warning for the GOP - if you proceed down the path noted above, you'll find yourselves out of power for a generation. Soak in the messages that result from the 2008 election results that will appear one week from today. And know that there's a progressive train that's building up speed, and it will run you over without so much as a second thought.

Want to try a new game, John?

Kids have it so easy today

Click to make it big and readable.

Why You Shouldn't Ride a Motorcycle

Good advice!

If you use only the front brake, you will fly over the steering wheel and be killed. If you try to use the back one, you will use the wrong foot and change into third gear instead of stopping. So you’ll hit the obstacle you were trying to avoid, and you’ll be killed.

Then there is the steering. The steering wheel comes in the shape of what can only be described as handlebars, but if you turn them — even slightly — while riding along, you will fall off and be killed. What you have to do is lean into the corner, fix your gaze on the course you wish to follow, and then you will fall off and be killed.

As far as the minor controls are concerned, well . . . you get a horn and lights and indicators, all of which are operated by various switches and buttons on the steering wheel, but if you look down to see which one does what, a truck will hit you and you will be killed. Oh, and for some extraordinary reason, the indicators do not self-cancel, which means you will drive with one of them on permanently, which will lead following traffic to think you are turning right. It will then undertake just as you turn left, and you will be killed.

What I’m trying to say here is that, yes, bikes and cars are both forms of transport, but they have nothing in common. Imagining that you can ride a bike because you can drive a car is like imagining you can swallow-dive off a 90ft cliff because you can play table tennis.

Tax Cuts Don't Stimulate - Note to GOP Prostates

Isaiah Poole has an interesting piece that details the GOP fallacy that our economy is stimulated by tax cuts, which is essentially their whole approach to trickle-down economics that's been disproven over and over, yet magically survives as worthy of consideration.

As money is spent, it creates beneficial ripples through the entire economy. The evidence is that most of the money from the recent tax rebate was saved rather than spent, thus blunting its stimulative benefit.1 By comparison, other options—such as infrastructure spending, aid to states, food stamps, and unemployment insurance (UI) benefits—are much more cost-effective because they target the needs most likely to channel money back into the economy. Mark Zandi from Moody’s estimates that each dollar of refundable tax rebates only boosts GDP by about $1.26, while each dollar of infrastructure spending could provide a $1.59 boost. Not only are many of these stimulus options more effective, but they also have the added benefit of assisting those hardest hit by the downturn and tackling long-standing infrastructure needs that would lower transportation costs, decrease traffic, and increase business productivity.

Zandi’s analysis also shows what doesn’t work as stimulus: a variety of tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals, which cost over twice as much as they return to the economy.

What's wrong with us?

As usual, The Daily Show points it out clearly.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pessimistic Optimist

10/25 Polling


Sweet Candy Corn

I've heard of niche blogging before, but this is pretty extreme.

Sweet Candy Corn is a blog that's dedicated to - Halloween candy. That's right. From regular candy corn to those orange fake peanuts to vegan candy corn, this blog is all sweet, all the time.

If you haven't heard this, check out Lewis Black on Halloween and candy corn.

Hodgman on Obama

Nice interview with John Hodgman, including this about Barack Obama:

"Do I like Obama, personally? I do. Do I think he's got good policies? Look, I'm like everyone else, I hope so. They sound good. They sound like something I believe in, so I think based on his performance and the way that he has run his campaign, I feel that it is reasonable to feel confident that he is going to take the same discipline and smarts and lack of drama and apply them to the very serious issues today and I think that makes him a good choice for President. Do I think that his candidacy is historic? Sure, that's exciting too, but what I think it's really amazing that he exists in the same world that I also inhabit and no other political candidate lives in that world right now. They live in a made-up world that is not reality. I think that that's why you see Obama surging right now. It's that the people like the fact that Obama lives in the world that they live in."

Friday, October 24, 2008

10/24 Polling


Dumbest Decision Ever

If you're a voting machine vendor and you're touting the security of your systems, what's the absolute dumbest thing you can do?

How about advertise and sell spare keys to open the machines? That's right...I can buy keys and open the cases to compromise the systems any way I want. I don't even need to rely on my fancy hacking mad skillz.

In fact, you don't even need to order the keys. You can look at the pictures and see what they look like, trace a blank and make your own. What the heck is wrong with these people?

More Brilliance

Brilliant Campaign YouTube


You would think that in this time of financial strife, dual wars, healthcare cost increases, and high unemployment, John McCain would do the prudent thing and bring in policy wonks and highly intelligent experts in each of these areas to bring their expertise to bear and present the American people with sound solutions to the myriad of problems we face.

Instead, the highest paid person in McCain's camp is Sarah Palin's makeup artist. Seriously.

Good Marriage Equality Ad from California

Thursday, October 23, 2008

10/23 Polling


10/23 Photo of the Day

Enveloped by a Social Movement

An interesting comparison of the 2008 presidential election to that in 1932 that resulted in the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. History buffs will dig this.

The Governor's New Clothes

Clash Fans Will Appreciate This

Microsoft Issues Off-cycle Critical Patch

Hey, all you Windows people. Microsoft has released MS08-067 to plug a zero-day vulnerability in the Server service of essentially all Windows operating systems.

There are already exploits in the wild for this, and it's capable of turning into a rapidly propagating Internet worm. If that happens, mitigating controls like blocking ports 139 and 445 on firewalls won't help much.

This vulnerability does NOT require authentication for execution, and it will then allow the running of malicious code without intervention by the user.

Get out there today and run Windows Update or Microsoft Update and patch this thing, or you'll regret it.


I Hope His Grandmother Sees Him Win

Why He's Winning

How Pundits Continue to Get It Wrong

Salon gets all high and mighty in a piece titled The Punditocracy's Seven Biggest Blunders in 2008. This is pretty rich, given that Salon is basically made up of...pundits.

During the primaries, the political prediction business -- all those glib quasi-certainties spouted by TV talking heads and embedded in the opening paragraphs of newspaper and magazine articles -- gave us such fantasies as Rudy Giuliani masquerading as a serious presidential candidate and mistakenly consigned John McCain to the GOP dust heap. Remember when Hillary Clinton was prematurely anointed as the nominee or the dire warnings that a protracted Clinton-Obama primary fight would, in a typical burst of Democratic self-destructiveness, cost the party the White House?

It's essentially a narrative of concepts and ideas that, in hindsight, look pretty foolish, but this election cycle has been transformative in many ways, and I don't necessarily fault the pundits and talking heads for missing the mark. Risk taking and breaking new ground in the various media outlets has not been a keystone of their offering for the last 10 years or so - it's all been about talking points and on regurgitating inane phrases, all the while abdicating their responsibility to probe and question the power structure and provide common citizens with facts and truth that we can use to push accountability.

Wow - nice little ranting paragraph there, Kev.

Airport Security Antics

Bruce Schneier, working in concert with The Atlantic magazine, demonstrated the concept of security theater by showing numerous ways to defeat airport security because, well, what they do is dumb. And ineffective.

Kip Hawley, head of the TSA, has responded to the story in true government fashion - in vague generalities, according to Schneier.

Unfortunately, there's not really anything to his response. It's obvious he doesn't want to admit that they've been checking ID's all this time to no purpose whatsoever, so he just emits vague generalities like a frightened squid filling the water with ink. Yes, some of the stunts in article are silly (who cares if people fly with Hezbollah T-shirts?) so that gives him an opportunity to minimize the real issues.

It's a good read, both the original article and Schneier's commentary on the TSA ignoring the real issues.

McCain - Obama Dance Off

We're Doomed, Robot-Style

I always thought that the concept of humans being destroyed by robots was out of the realm of possibility. I was wrong.

The Pentagon has put out a request to contractors to build a "Multi-Person Pursuit System" to "search for and detect a non-cooperative human." Umm....FREAK OUT!

I tend to be non-cooperative at times. Ask anyone. And soon there are going to be these creepy killer robots running around.

So straighten up. Fly right. Or they'll be paying you a visit, too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dare to dream...

David Sedaris

David Sedaris on undecided voters:

I look at these people and can't quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. "Can I interest you in the chicken?" she asks. "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?"

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

John Hodgman & Jon Stewart

Liquidity vs. Solvency

TechDirt has a good piece on liquidity versus solvency as it pertains to the current financial crisis.

If you're like me, you may have a rudimentary idea of how the whole financial system works, but this article did a good job of illuminating some oft-overlooked points.

Basically, many of the banks have liquidity (cash), but are so afraid that the others they lend to are insolvent (unable to pay back loans) that they won't loan. That's why you may have heard more and more people talking about the (until recently) obscure "TED spread," which basically represents the difference between the interest rate at which banks are lending to each other (the LIBOR -- or London InterBank Offered Rate) and the interest rate on US treasuries. It's a quick measure to determine how secure banks feel about lending to each other vs. putting money in the proverbial mattress. In normal times, this is pretty small, because lending short term money out to other banks is considered pretty damn safe -- almost as safe as lending to the US government. So, it's usually well below 1%. Over the past few weeks, it's been sitting above 4%, on many days -- which basically means that banks are simply sitting on their cash because they don't trust other banks at all. This week, it finally started dropping, representing at least some easing of concern (though it's still pretty high).

NBC Hammers McCain-Palin

Microsoft - Stop Making Fun of Us

10/22 Polling


While there are plenty of individual results for Matt Drudge to get excited about (or for that matter the Huffington Post), the fact is that the overall trend in this election is roughly flat, and has been for about a week or so. That is bad news for the candidate trailing in the race, which in this case is John McCain.

Now that's a bad wall design...

It's not how you feel, it's how you look!

That line will work on those of you who remember Fernando, a Billy Crystal character. For the rest of you...feh.

Anyway, word is out that the Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 on wardrobe, makeup, hair, and accessories for Sarah Palin and members of her family since she was named to the McCain ticket.

Angry donors don't seem to have been placated by the RNC's promise to donate the clothing at the conclusion of the campaign. With the economy still in the tank and the jobless rate soaring, you'd think conservatives would want America to have the absolutely best dressed unemployment line.

I'm out of work and nearly homeless, but I feel mah-va-lous!

Breaking News from The Onion

Muslim McCain Supporters Confront Intolerance

The Wisdom of Cab Drivers



I wish everyone solved problems this well

Robert F. Kennedy on "Blocking the Vote"

Monday, October 20, 2008

In case of terrorist attack...

10/20 Polling


The Idiots That Rule America

If you're in the mood for some shrill, shrieking commentary on what's wrong in America, TruthDig has a pretty deep article on what some people think is the root cause.

Our oligarchic class is incompetent at governing, managing the economy, coping with natural disasters, educating our young, handling foreign affairs, providing basic services like health care and safeguarding individual rights. That it is still in power, and will remain in power after this election, is a testament to our inability to separate illusion from reality. We still believe in “the experts.” They still believe in themselves. They are clustered like flies swarming around John McCain and Barack Obama. It is only when these elites are exposed as incompetent parasites and dethroned that we will have any hope of restoring social, economic and political order.

There are some interesting concepts floated, but I'm not sure I agree with most of them. It makes for a novel bit of thinking, though.

Upside Down Dogs

I like dogs. I like upside down. Therefore, I like upside down dogs.

Now there's a blog that's devoted to the subject. Because you can never have too many upside down dogs, dig?

This blog will either make you chuckle, or judging from this pic, haunt your dreams. Let me know which way it turns out for you by leaving a comment.

Crime Scene Scarf

If someone asks you which Winnie the Pooh character you relate to most, and your answer is Eeyore, perhaps this scarf is for you.

The crime scene scarf will keep you warm while you wait for the ambulance, police, or coroner.

Because you know it's only a matter of time before something tragic happens to you. You just know it.

Longest Limo in the World

Hey, all you crazy kids looking to do something rad so that your prom lives in infamy - check this out.

The world's largest limo is more than 100 feet long, has 26 tires, a hot tub, sun deck, swimming pool, and some beds. It's like a Hampton Inn that's mobile.

If the jocks try to crash your party, you can always escape using the built-in helipad.

Republican Arrested for Voter Registration Fraud

Well, well...with all the Republican posturing and wheezing about how Democrats in general, and ACORN specifically, are engaged in voter registration fraud, how rich is it that officials in Ontario, CA have arrested a Republican and charged him with...attempted voter registration fraud.

In case you're keeping score here, that's Republican Voter Registration Fraud 1, Democrat Voter Registration Fraud 0.

Seems that the owner of a firm hired by the GOP to register tens of thousands of voters as Republicans fraudulently registered himself to vote at a childhood California address where he no longer lives so he would appear to meet the legal requirement that signature gatherers be eligible to vote in California.

This is completely separate from other allegations that have been lodged against his firm, including scores of people who have accused the firm of switching their registration from Independent or Democrat to Republican by tricking them by saying they were signing a petition to toughen penalties against child molesters. The firm was paid $7 to $12 for every Californian it registered as a member of the GOP.

Where's the Republican outrage at this?

The Gentle Light

When I was in Army basic training back about a thousand years ago, the worst, most sickening feeling was when the bright overhead lights were switched on and you were instantly awakened to the glaring, harsh reality of another day.

Enter the Gentle Light. It slowly closes when you turn it off at night to lull you into a comfortable sleep, and then begins a slow, tulip-like opening to welcome you to morning.

I don't see the 18th Airborne investing in a gross of these, but the rest of us can enjoy.

Hover Scooter

I don't see me getting one of these until better healthcare benefits kick in or there's a substantial increase in the amount paid for long-term disability, but the hover scooter will elevate you into the stratosphere of geekdom.

This sucker will set you back $17,000, and I'm not convinced that little bicycle helmet will do anything to prevent the inevitable brain injury, but it's nice to dream.

I'm guessing that the people who would drive this thing aren't particularly concerned about hurting their melon.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Growing up with racists in PA

A new Daily Kos diary.


Mmmm, burger

A Clearfield PA man was able to finish off a 20.2 pound burger in 4 hours 39 minutes, for which he was rewarded with $400, 3 tshirts, and a complimentary angioplasty.

The enormous meat slab was 15 pounds, but with bun and toppings, it weighed in slightly over the 20 pound mark.

From the report: The burger included a bun, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, mild banana peppers and a cup each of mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and relish, pub owner Dennis Liegey said.


This is interesting, although slightly creepy.

The plantbot creeps around, constantly seeking bright sunlight. That should freak out your cat.

If I hear that thing moving around at night, I'm shooting it.