31 August 2008


Politics, End of August, 2008

(1) Our Dems had a great convention. Mrs. Obama's speech was great. Senator Clinton's speech was great. President Clinton's speech was great. Senator Biden's speech was pretty good. Al Gore's speech was great. Senator Obama's speech was excellent.

My gut feeling had been all along that Senator Obama was comfortable with his role as his own happy hatchet man, and he played it perfectly. It was Reagan vs. Carter with the parties swapped. (I know many of my Dem friends still hate Reagan, but I still believe we all ought to learn from his ability to capture the good will of a goodly-sized majority of the American people behind his agenda, whether we agreed with his agenda.)

Of course, as a gay man, I regret that Senator Obama choose not to speak more forcefully for the rights of LGBT folk, even as he affirmed what, for some, remains a revolutionary concept, that our relationships ought to be respected. But, I don't want him to lose the election because of support for us, either.

(2) Senator McCain's nomination of Governor Palin ought to point out what an arrogant nutcase the Senator is. Or "becomes" if that suits your narrative better. The man doesn't have the right constitution to be President of the United States of America. I'm nearly certain that if you rounded up all the other POWs from the Vietnam era, you could find somewhere between five and fifty who would be better suited to the job of POTUS than McCain. And he has the balls to keep reminding people that he was a POW. He wasn't alone in that situation, and I look forward to some number of former POWs of the North Vietnamese reminding us of McCain's innate lack of good judgment, and, even, character.

(3) If Governor Palin had the judgment and temperament to be President, which the Vice President ought to have, then she would have rejected Senator McCain's offer, telling him, "You've got to be kidding?" That she didn't is face-value evidence of her not being suited for the position. And one doesn't even have to raise the degree to which McCain's offering her the position in hopes of bringing Senator Clinton's supporters to his side is insulting.

(4) Experience?

None of the candidates for executive positions have Federal executive experience, and Governor Palin's experience as governor as Alaska is hardly evidence for her being able to manage the Federal bureaucracy. Being a Senator may expose one to the workings of the Federal government, but it doesn't give one experience in managing that beyond the broad scope of helping pass laws.

(5) As none of the candidates have experience in the Federal executive, I turn to judgment and temperment as a discriminator between the candidates for President. It wouldn't surprise me if you, the reader, did, too. In those dimensions, Senator Obama is, and I use this word with a great deal of caution and reluctance, obviously the better candidate, regardless of one's Party affiliation.

(6) The chicken-sans-head activity of the GOP with a major hurricane bearing down on the Louisiana coast is laughable. There's not one whit of evidence that the GOP has learned any lesson except "try better to get away with being totally clueless about what to do" when it comes to disaster management, than they did when Katrina struck. GWB can go avoid the GOP convention by being at FEMA headquarters for photo ops all he wants. but there's no real reason to believe that they GOP has developed any greater empathy or concern for poor folk in harm's way than they had in the fall of 2005.

(7) There remains no evidence that the candidate who manages the campaign best, who expresses opinions in the most bellicose manner, or who appears to be "toughest" will make a good President. Consider again GWB.

Now I don't want to take away from Obama's managing a superbly run campaign, but neither that nor his ability to bitch slap Senator McCain (which I expect he'll be surprisingly (to the GOP commentariat) good at), or vice-versa, is evidence that he—or Senator McCain, should it turn out that he's better at that game (something I don't expect)—would make a great President, including as Commander in Chief. Again, let's turn back to temperment and judgment.

(8) When the hell will the left and Dems get their own network? MSNBC doesn't count, since GE is unreliable as a source of funding for left-of-center politicking. Back in the day (much of the 19th century into the first half of the 20th), it was common procedure for the party—or the executive of that party—to have a house-organ publication. In this day and age that means cable news network. Where is the sustainable response to Fixed (Fox) News?

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30 August 2008


Creeping Soylent Greenism

Hair Mayonnaise

I'd like some toenail mustard for my sandwich, too, please.

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29 August 2008


McCain's Choice

Sarah Palin, America's first trophy VP candidate.

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28 August 2008


Obama's Speech

Near perfect.

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26 August 2008



"Every 16 year old should be gifted with a copy of [The Replacements'] Let It Be; it'll help their world make much more sense."—Noel Murray in this week's "Popless," at the Onion's AV Club.

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23 August 2008


Humble (2 of 2)

I was wrong that the only inspired veep choices for Obama were either Senator Webb or Senator Clinton.

Presuming his speech today in Springfield, Illinois, is indicative of how he's going to play the role of Vice-Presidential candidate, Joe Biden is going to do just fine.

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Humble (1 of 2)

I will never poo-poo a tropical storm again. One has to remember that the total effect of a distributed phenomenon is basically rate density times volume times time. Whatever TS Fay lacked in rate density, it sure made up for in size and duration.

Here's Fay, getting close to a week later from when it first made the Florida scene.

TS Fay has yet to leave Florida! I think Lawton Chiles walked across the state faster.

The area here in the western part of Volusia County got between 12 and 15 inches of rain—depends on who you ask—and, as you can see from the radar image, we may get even more rain from Fay.

Luckily, our neighborhood has a good drainage system. Others have not been so lucky.

The powers that be are trucking flood water in from nearby neighborhoods and dumping it into our local storm sewers (see below), where it runs into our retention ponds, where it seeps into the ground, and where, eventually, it runs into the Floridan aquifer. The aquifer can use the water.

Trucks Dumping TS Fay Flood Waters Into Our Local Storm Sewer System

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22 August 2008


Official John McCain "Get Out of Gaffe Free" Card


Here, from tbctbc on Daily Kos.

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21 August 2008


Request for Comments Regarding a New Grading Scheme

Earlier this summer, I participated in a Course Makeover class that was offered by ERAU's Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. The courses that got the facelift were CEC 410, Digital Signal Processing, and CEC 411, Digital Signal Processing Laboratory.

As part of the makeover, I'm moving away from a homework/problem set with exams for grading model to one where section outcomes are assessed at the start of the next meeting via a short quiz with a couple of problems on it. The problems will directly resemble practice problems assigned that ought to allow students to develop mastery of the content corresponding to the desired outcomes. Each problem is an Assessment, and each Assessment is graded on an Excellent/Exceeds, Satisfactory/Meets, Unsatisfactory/Needs Improvement basis.

I've come up with a grading scheme based on the performance on the Assessments, and I'd like comments on it. In words:
Grades are based on the fraction of assessments scored Satisfactory or Excellent. A putative grade will be assigned as follows:
• In order to pass, a student needs for 50% or better of all assessments, less excused absences, to be Satisfactory or Excellent;
• If a student passes, and if the fraction of Excellent assessments out of Satisfactory and Excellent assessments is less than 10%, then the putative grade will be a C;
• If a student passes, and if the faction of Excellent assessments out of Satisfactory and Excellent assessments is 10% or better but less than 50%, then the putative grade will be a B;
• If a student passes, and if the fraction of Excellent assessments out of Satisfactory and Excellent assessments if 50% or better, then the putative grade will be an A;
• Each student is allowed one unexcused absence. The actual letter grade will be the putative letter grade decreased by one for each unexcused absence beyond the one allowed.
The draft information sheet is available here, complete with a nifty C/Java implementation of the above, and the course schedule, for those who want to see what the section outcomes are, is here.

I'm curious as to what people think about this, particularly students. So, feel free to flame away in the comments, or send e-mail to timatollah@mackandtim.net.

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20 August 2008


Obama 1995: Discussing Dreams from My Father on "Connie Martinson Talks Books"

Presented, as here at Old Man McCain (link via Sullivan), without comment.

Watch it all, if you can, but if you have to pick just one, go with the third one.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

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18 August 2008


Veep, Veep!

Department of "If I were the nominee..."

Obama: First choice would be Jim Webb. I know he supposedly begged off, but that might be a great distraction for the press. Second: Mrs. Clinton. All the other choices seem rather uninspired to me.

McCain: Pawlenty. First and only choice.

Remember, the object of the game is to win, not to be proven insightful by history.

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17 August 2008


Memories of Hurricane Charley



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Obligatory Tropical Weather Post

Buy bottled water! Buy milk!! Buy bread!!! Buy plywood!!!! Monitor storm's every motion!!!!! BE VERY EXCITED!!!!!!

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16 August 2008


Last Week's Travel

Mack and I went to the Oklahoma panhandle last week. His niece Sarah was getting married, and we were installing a new HDTV and home theater for his dad. Here are a few pics:

Mack on the way to Amarillo (on the plane to DFW where we had to change):

Mack on the Way to Amarillo

Mack's folks, Stanley and Gaynor, at the wedding:

Stanley and Gaynor

Mack, up on the tower, making some changes to Stanley's over-the-air wiring:

Mack on Tower

Complete set of wedding pictures here, and complete set of around-the-farm pictures here.

Part of me wants to rant really badly about this whole marriage thing. I know the numbers, and the defaults follow from the numbers. When you're 2% of the population, you don't expect the rules to be bent around you. But, as a living breathing human being, you also get sick of having your inability to participate fully in the civic and religious culture of the nation shoved in your face. That's not the problem of any of the fine folks getting married: It's just kind of frustrating. More some other time, possibly soon.

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Death Star Over San Francisco

From Current. Thanks, Al Gore!

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Time to Move On

Time to Move On

Addendum: As I noted on Flickr, there's more than one sticker on that car that the title above could refer to.

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06 August 2008



Why am I shouting? (ALL CAPS!) Because I think I've finally uploaded the last of the Alaska pictures, only, what?, six?, seven? weeks after we got home.

"Good things come to those who wait."

For all of you who've looked at these, please accept my deep and sincere gratitude. It was a wonderful trip, and it's been my/our pleasure to share what are only tidbits of it with you. If ever the opportunity presents itself to go to Alaska, I very highly recommend it. In fact, let me be presumptuous and say that you would be well-advised to go out of your way to make that opportunity happen.

Last pics, from my iPhone, in the stream here.

Last full set, our last day around Anchorage, here.

Example pics?

Anchorage Visitor Center:

Anchorage Visitor Center

Everything is big in Alaska:

McKinley Mac(k)

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03 August 2008


Anchorage Pics

The penultimate set of Alaska pics is up here, on Flickr. Not as many this time, as we were having a great time bicycling around Anchorage. Here are some representatives:

Anchorage from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Anchorage (I)

Sunset (11:38 p.m., ADT)

Sunset (I)

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