Since I spend nearly every waking minute working on it, you'll find me posting much more on Slog than here on Slapnose these days. Slapnose will be revived, and occassionally updated, but if you're looking for what's what, check out Slog.
November 5, 2008
A Beautiful Day
Though I haven't posted here in, oh, 19 months or so, recent events I think warrant some kind of update.
So here goes.
HOLY SHIT! Obama won!
What a great day. We had a blast last night, celebrating with 1000s of folks at The Stranger's election night party, and in the streets of Seattle afterwards.
In much sadder news, California's Prop 8 appears headed for approval. It's a terrible tragedy that some seem so determined to replace discrimination against one group with discrimination against another group. A black man is president, but gay people can't freely marry. Hopefully one day we'll run out of people to discriminate against.
So it's not all good news, but it's progress. We have a long way to go.
Continuing my one post per month tradition, here's a post about space.
On February 25, NASA was calibrating the camera aboard their new STEREO B spaceship when they happened to catch the moon transiting in front of the sun. The resulting images and video are pretty dang nifty. The sun is captured in four wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light, and you can see solar flares!
Oh, how terribly boring this will be to most of you. And on Valentine's Day no less! Then again, my near complete lack of posting in the past, oh, 6 months, means there really is no "most of you" anymore. Pity. Shame on me for squandering the ear of what was once a vibrant and argumentative group of shut-ins.
Anyway, this is a geek-ish post, so be warned. It's not as geek-ish as what Luke's been writing lately, but then I'm not nearly as smart as him. (As him? As he? See what I mean?)
The basic scheme is to create a separate blog for polls. The possible answers are put into the Extended Entry field, and a PHP template parses that and creates a poll form, assigning each answer a number and using the comments of the post to store the votes. That is, the poll form submits to mt-comments.cgi, which stores the number associated with the selected response. Clever.
It works quite well, though Dan's implementation had some key flaws that prevented us from using it as is.
Blocking people from voting again by using IP addresses. This is pretty heavy-handed, considering how many people are working on some kind of private network, and share an external IP with tens or hundreds of their coworkers. I didn't want to block an entire company after one person voted.
Dan's system relies on going to a completely separate page to vote on a poll. Once you've voted, you see the results. Then you have to click back back back to get back to the original post you were reading, assuming you started in a different blog. We wanted our readers to be able to vote right on the page, without leaving.
Dan's system was effectively limited to 10 response choices by using an array of colors for the results bar, and having no way to start over once the array was exhausted.
Used cookies to block re-voting. Possibly easier to circumvent than IP blocking, but on the whole more elegant, in my opinion.
Stripped down the poll to the bare necessities, and then include a poll the main blog via an iFrame. This allows all the voting to take place inline (see below). Downsides: Sizing the iFrame is a bit of trial and error, depending on how many choices the poll has (have yet to find a reliable way to dynamically size iFrames), and on some browsers, iFrames can exhibit some very strange caching behavior. Doesn't happen often enough to be a great concern, though.
The color array resets when it gets to the end, allowing unlimited choices.
Changed some styles to make the results a bit cleaner and slimmer. I would still like to fix this more, allowing more flexibility, but it works well enough for now.
Using an iFrame is of course not necessary, having unadorned polls like these would work nicely in a pop-up window. If you prefer adornment, adorn away.
More flexible results display, with the background color bar independent from the text. Right now, including more text than the percentage (number of votes for that choice, say) breaks unless the bar is long enough to cover the text. Dan solves this by keeping the text out of the bar, but I like it in.
Animated results bars. Spiffy.
A way to have an "other" choice, with a text field to store the response.
Exercise more, eat better.
That's about it. Most of the basics are exactly as Dan laid out, so all credit to him for working out this system. This just represents some small refinements to suit my needs.
Local hamlet Federal Way (Motto: "It's not Tacoma, but we can see it from here!"), has joined the ranks of the tragically stupid by subverting the education of an entire town's school children because one delusional parent complained.
This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert "An Inconvenient Truth."
After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a PowerPoint presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists' findings.
"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."
Goddamn it, I hate these people. Seriously, what the fuck?
The school board has decreed that when presenting "controversial" issues, teachers must present a "credible opposing view." The problem, of course, is that there is no credible opposing view. Science is not an opinion. Why are we losing ground on this issue? Soon we're going to be throwing witches into the lake to see if they float.
Asked whether an alternative explanation for evolution should be presented by teachers, Barney said it would be appropriate to tell students that other beliefs exist. "It's only a theory," he said.
While the question of climate change has provoked intense argument in political circles in recent years, among scientists its basic tenets have become the subject of an increasingly stronger consensus.
These morons think that their policy prevents schools from being used for indoctrination when in fact it does exactly the opposite. Not showing the film--knuckling under to pressure from religious fanatics--indoctrinates children in the idea that all ideas are equal, mistaken ideas of what scientific fact is, not to mention a fundamental misunderstanding of what the word 'theory' means.
A nice little reminder of what's been going on around here for the past 6 years. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you support George W. Bush at this point, I fear for your mental health. I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm serious. See a professional. You are delusional. Do you believe in unicorns, too? (Ok, that last bit was snarky.)
I'm totally nervous about tomorrow. The Democrats have a great chance, but after watching Hacking Democracy the other day, I'm convinced that anything can happen. The systems that count our votes will be revealed to be a great scandal at some point, I just wish we didn't have to live through so many questionable elections before that happens.
Anyway, VOTE. Be smart.
The Slog, among many others of course, will be covering the results live.
Due to the rampant assholery of comment spammers and my decreasing ability to keep up with their pathetic asses, I've closed comments on all posts more than 30 days old. So if you have something to say, say it fast. You know, within a month.
And so we come to the end of a long chapter in vehicle ownership.
That's right, the venerated Badunkadunk has been sold. The old girl served us well, but alas was lonely and neglected these past couple of years, yearning for new adventures we could no longer provide.
We've found a cheerful young fellow named Henry to take over Badunk's care, and we're happy that he's getting it. May his adventures be tangy and his breakdowns minimal.
I'm not a particularly big fan of symbolic remembrances, but it's impossible not to think about 9/11 today, and my prevailing emotion is one of sadness. Not (only) for the loss of innocent life on that day, but for the continuing loss of innocent (and not-so-innocent) life using that day as justification.
Mostly, I'm sad that we squandered a rare moment in time when the world was united and ready to stand together, instead cynically deciding to use that moment as a launch-pad for a deceitful war.
This video pretty well sums up what we've given up.
In brief: Focus on the Family, James Dobson's rabidly anti-gay, anti-everything good, and highly politically-connected group, will send you just about all the bullshit propaganda you want for FREE!
Everything in their "resources" section (follow instructions in the article) has a "suggested donation" price. As long as you keep each shopping trip under $100, you can enter a donation amount of $0 and get it all for NADA.
So go, waste their money. Do it everyday! They make great conversation pieces and super gifts!
I ordered several copies of "Someone I Love is Gay," "You Don't Have to be Gay" and the sure to be useful "A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality." Oh, and a couple copies of the Chronicles of Narnia DVD to sell on eBay.
If you read it, the justices are actually pretty careful not to say anything about whether or not gay marriage should be legal, only that the current law does not violate Washington's constitution. A lower court had ruled that it does. The justices lay the responsibility of bringing equality to the state on the steps of the legislature.
(Actually, if you read the whole thing, which I didn't at first, the justices suck.)
Here's hoping they (the legislature), or SOMEONE, will do the right thing, and soon. I'm getting tired of this shit. Those who resist equality are guaranteed to be judged harshly by history. Just knock it the fuck off already.
Please, if you haven't seen it yet, go see it as soon as you can. Please. It's extremely important. I would be particularly interested to hear the reactions of any of my occasional right-wing readers who may currently be drunk on the "global warming isn't a real problem" Kool-Aid. I defy anyone to walk out of this movie unchanged.
Also, while you're watching it, I invite you to revisit the horror that was the 2000 presidential election, and to consider what a profoundly different country and world we would be living in if a single Supreme Court justice had made a different choice.
I really hope Al Gore runs for president again. If the moronic Democratic party leadership can possibly resist destroying his candidacy and let people with a little balls run the thing, he would win in a walk, and he should. Brilliant man.
The American Taliban is at it again.. This time, the city council of Black Jack, MO voted 5-3 not to change a law that prohibits more than three people from living together unless they are related by "blood, marriage or adoption."
Olivia Shelltrack and Fondrey Loving were denied an occupancy permit after moving into a home in this St. Louis suburb because they have three children and are not married.
The town's planning and zoning commission proposed a change in the law, but the measure was rejected Tuesday by the city council in a 5-3 vote.
"I'm just shocked," Shelltrack said. "I really thought this would all be over, and we could go on with our lives."
Mayor Norman McCourt declined to be interviewed but said in a statement that those who do not meet the town's definition of family could soon face eviction.
Black Jack's special counsel, Sheldon Stock, declined to say whether the city will seek to remove Loving and Shelltrack from their home.
I'm sure most people have already heard about the new USA Today spying story, which details how the NSA has been monitoring the phone calls of tens of millions of Americans. All the big telecommunications companies -- with the notable exception of Qwest, which I'm now proud to have as my phone provider -- gladly handed over their records to the government's most secret agency.
According to a new poll, great numbers of Americans just don't care.
A majority of Americans initially support a controversial National Security Agency program to collect information on telephone calls made in the United States in an effort to identify and investigate potential terrorist threats, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.
A slightly larger majority--66 percent--said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made, the poll found.
Underlying those views is the belief that the need to investigate terrorism outweighs privacy concerns.
Of course, completely ignored by these idiots is that THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH INVESTIGATING TERRORISM.
This is just too depressing for words. And on my birthday no less.
(There's a movement on for people to switch their phone service to Qwest. A good idea.)
Rolling Stone's cover story this month is an analysis by Princeton historian Sean Wilentz on just how horrible the Bush administration is, really. (Answer: Oh, so horrible.)
While not revealing anything new, the article puts Bush's presidency in historical context, laying out each of his major failures (it's a long article) in the arenas of foreign policy, domestic policy, and personal credibility and competence and how they compare to the deeds of some of the other jerks who have held that office.
Bush is a particular tragedy as his presidency comes at such a critical time. The worst possible man to govern at the most important possible time.
How does any president's reputation sink so low? The reasons are best understood as the reverse of those that produce presidential greatness. In almost every survey of historians dating back to the 1940s, three presidents have emerged as supreme successes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These were the men who guided the nation through what historians consider its greatest crises: the founding era after the ratification of the Constitution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression and Second World War. Presented with arduous, at times seemingly impossible circumstances, they rallied the nation, governed brilliantly and left the republic more secure than when they entered office.
Calamitous presidents, faced with enormous difficulties -- Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Hoover and now Bush -- have divided the nation, governed erratically and left the nation worse off. In each case, different factors contributed to the failure: disastrous domestic policies, foreign-policy blunders and military setbacks, executive misconduct, crises of credibility and public trust. Bush, however, is one of the rarities in presidential history: He has not only stumbled badly in every one of these key areas, he has also displayed a weakness common among the greatest presidential failures -- an unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology that abjures deviation from dogma as heresy, thus preventing any pragmatic adjustment to changing realities. Repeatedly, Bush has undone himself, a failing revealed in each major area of presidential performance.
And then there's this...
No other president -- Lincoln in the Civil War, FDR in World War II, John F. Kennedy at critical moments of the Cold War -- faced with such a monumental set of military and political circumstances failed to embrace the opposing political party to help wage a truly national struggle. But Bush shut out and even demonized the Democrats. Top military advisers and even members of the president's own Cabinet who expressed any reservations or criticisms of his policies -- including retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill -- suffered either dismissal, smear attacks from the president's supporters or investigations into their alleged breaches of national security. The wise men who counseled Bush's father, including James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, found their entreaties brusquely ignored by his son. When asked if he ever sought advice from the elder Bush, the president responded, "There is a higher Father that I appeal to."
And that's really the problem right there. Not just the higher Father thing, which frankly is too scary for me to even deal with right now, but the arrogance of dismissing opposing viewpoints when faced with such complex and critical issues. Lincoln filled his cabinet with people who HATED him, Bush fires anyone who even slightly disagrees. And his supporters are the same way, arrogant to the point of lunacy. Pride, I might remind all of them, the president especially, is not something to be proud of.
What we'll do is randomly pick one night - every week - where we will kill whoever crosses the border. Step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it's your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun...[I'd be] happy to sit there with my high-powered rifle and my night scope.
James claims this is "satire" and has not apologized. The Arizona Attorney General has filed a complaint with the FCC.
This is not free speech, this is incitement to murder on the public airwaves. James never disavowed violence or claimed that he was kidding. In fact, when a caller said that he must not really mean it, James responded that he in fact did mean it.
I've said it before, but it certainly bears repeating: If you voted for this man, you have done a very terrible thing. If you think this even approaches acceptable behavior from our president, you're nuts. Dangerous and nuts.
For the past four nights, I've been attending the world premier of Mike Daisey's Great Me of Genius at the Capitol Hill Arts Center, and filing post-show debriefings on The Slog, The Stranger's blog. Daisey is writing his impressions of the performance, and I'm writing mine.
The show is a series of four monologues, each about a different "great man of genius"—Bertolt Brecht, P.T Barnum, Nikola Tesla, and tonight L. Ron Hubbard. I have varying degrees of fascination with all of these men, particularly the last two, and particularly the last one, as many of you probably know. It's been a lot of fun and kind of crazy to see all four in a row, and I can only imagine what it must have been like to perform them. Congratulations to Mr. Daisey for a brave and remarkable run.
Anyway, the first three posts are on the Slog now with the fourth to come tomorrow morning. The pieces are also being moved into the theater section here after they're posted.
I guess I should have posted this before this whole thing started...
That being the book that dear, dear Laurel Snyder edited and to which she so kindly allowed ME to contribute. So here it is, in my hand, a for-real book with my name in it and junk. It's pretty neat, I gotta say.
Here's a picture of me holding the book..
Anyway, that's all. Just wanted to share. You can (please?) buy the book from the following online book-places, or go to your local bookmart and be all, "Dude, you don't have any copies of Half/Life?!? What the crap! Please reserve 12 for me and get with the times, man!" or something.
Don't buy it just to be nice (seriously, do), buy it because it's great and interesting and has lots of way better essays than mine in it, and because Laurel deserves every bit of success in the world, as she rocks.
Rep. Tom DeLay, whose iron hold on the House Republicans melted as a lobbying corruption scandal engulfed the Capitol, told TIME that he will not seek reelection and will leave Congress within months. Taking defiant swipes at "the left" and the press, he said he feels "liberated" and vowed to pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign aimed at promoting foster care, Republican candidates and a closer connection between religion and government.
"I'm going to announce tomorrow that I'm not running for reelection and that I'm going to leave Congress," DeLay, who turns 59 on Saturday, said during a 90-minute interview on Monday. "I'm very much at peace with it." He notified President Bush in the afternoon. DeLay and his wife, Christine, said they had been prepared to fight, but that he decided last Wednesday, after months of prayer and contemplation, to spare his suburban Houston district the mudfest to come. "This had become a referendum on me," he said. "So it's better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what's important for this district."
DeLay's fall has been stunningly swift, one of the most brutal and decisive in American history. He had to give up his title of Majority Leader, the No. 2 spot in the House Republican leadership, in September when a Texas grand jury indicted him on charges of trying to evade the state's election law.
Ha ha. What an asshole. After "months of prayer" he wanted to spare the poor people the "mudfest." What a jerk.
The mudfest, Mr. DeLay, started when you broke the law. The only mud that's being slung is from you, towards anyone who cares about this country. Good riddance. And your wife can kiss my ass, too. MMMmmmwah!
Of course, the Republicans had to get DeLay out of the way well before the elections this fall. Hopefully the Democrats can somehow—SOMEHOW—manage to not completely blow this opportunity.
Unfortunately, Jon Stewart's interview with Sharon Stone from a couple nights ago isn't online. Probably because her publicist realized that she came off like a vapid, unfunny hooker, and had better sense than to let them post it.
She thought she was standing up to Stewart, but he was toying with her on 800 levels she had no idea about. And that's not to mention how unbelievably stupid her new movie—Basic Instinct 2, yes, seriously—is sure to be.
Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right... an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers.