I have to admit, I'm a little timid when it comes to letting people know that I have a blog, especially people that I know. I'm still at that stage where I'm not sure if I want to let all my friends know what's going on with me, or if I just want a private diary where I can blow off steam about my girl, my work, etc.
I just let a bunch of my friends know what's up, and in return I got the address for another friend's blog. Now, I have another reason to be timid. Her blog is really smart sounding and awesomely formatted. It cites studies, has cute pictures of brains and caterpillars, and quotes lots of smart people.
Anyway, whoever reads this blog (or who went to college with me) should go read it. It's great!
I know, I know. You receive about five e-mails a month telling you how urgent it is that you read this or that article full of unbacked theories that will eventually be debunked on www.snopes.com. This, however, is not one of those issues. The following video is a little bit long and the narrator really needs to think more highly of his audience, but still, it's worth a watch. (Note: the issues I'm talking about in this post are pretty old, and will probably be boring for a lot of people. Still, it strikes me as being relevant, given the impending election season.)
You may try and nitpick pieces of the methodology ("Removing a few screws" = removing 20 of them). But I think the overall point is scary - it's very easy to break into these machines and - given some level of technological savvy - steal an election.
There are, of course, a lot of questions about how representative that video was. If it was the only thing that I'd seen, I might not be persuaded about it. For a full, convincing discussion of the potential theft of an election, see this article from arstechnica. Aside from answering a lot of the logistical questions, it breaks the problem down as follows:
a) The use of electronic voting machines presents a vastly larger number of vulnerabilities for "bad apples" to attack.
b) Many of these attacks only require one bad apple, as opposed to a coordinated army of them
This all goes to show that electronic voting machines in their current form are a suboptimal voting solution. That's the part that I think we should be worried about. What I think we should be angry about is that it seems like the companies that are putting these machines together are almost (note: 'are almost' != 'are') actively courting a voting disaster.
For instance, leaked internal memos that were published by Swarthmore students suggest that Diebold was actively skirting state certification procedures by patching the software after the machines were certified. Moreover, when the state of Maryland tried to protect itself by requesting paper printouts, Diebold apparently circulated a memo saying, "As a business, I hope we're smart enough to charge them up the wazoo [for this feature]".
In regards to the leaked memos that were published, Diebold sued the students that posted them. To me, this seems like a clearcut case in which corporate interests are in direct conflict with the public good. Diebold's primary source of profit is entirely dependent on the public believing that it is providing a quality solution. In lieu of actually providing a secure voting solution, it has decided that the cheaper and more efficient strategy is to simply dupe us, regardless of the effect that this could have on the entire political ecosystem. In some cases, I'm for the privatization of government functions, but this is just preposterous.
Anyway. This all makes me very upset. If you're worried about trails, go with an absentee ballot.
This video scares the hell out of me. I don't want to get Parkinson's disease, I don't want to weave uncontrollably without medication.
I'd talk about Rush Limbaugh, but I'm sure that would just be beating a dead horse.
On a happy note, my cousin got engaged in Hawaii earlier this month. After dating his girl for like, five years or something, he finally sacked up and gave her a really, hugely, obscenely expensive diamond with a hoop of metal attached to it.
After listening to his story about how he proposed to her, I have to say this. Guys like him give guys like me a bad name. I really don't know how you can compete with a huge, Hawaiian sunrise and a hotel room full of champagne, rose petals and bubble baths. Actually, I do know how. To rephrase: I don't know how you can compete with all that stuff that I just mentioned when you don't have a ridiculous amount of cash constantly piling up in your bank account. I'm sure that she told somebody about it, who told somebody else, who will tell somebody else, until the story becomes part of the collective consciousness that says, "Hey, it's more or less expected that you blow a fat stack of Benjamins on a special occasion." So thanks a lot, rich boy.
I would put a comment in here about the returns that one gets for laying out cash on events like these, but I think it would only land me in hot water. So instead, I'm just going to allude to the fact that I could have made a comment and let the reader infer what he/she will about what I have to say.
But seriously, I'm really happy for the guy. He couldn't have picked a sweeter girl - they're really perfect for each other. They're seriously two of my favorite people in the world and I can only wish them the best. And I'm going to be the best man! Which means I have to give a speech!
Holy Crap! I have to give a speech! Sigh.
This is going to be a terrible, terrible admission to my adoring public. I have been wearing the same undergarments - socks and boxers - for roughly three days. I would like to say that this is not my fault. I've been staying somewhere that does not give me access to clean items of clothing. While I could technically just stay close to my clothes, I have a nagging suspicion that I would get flack about it.
In any case, I don't think anyone's discovered me yet. The current count puts me at zero disgusted sniffings. I haven't seen anyone quietly backing away from my stinkily-clad person. No one's asked, "Does anyone smell that?"
Of course, this isn't to say that I don't smell. The albino that sits across from me definitely has B.O. issues, but I am too polite to mention them. Instead, I simply control the distance between the two of us, politely ignoring his persistent requests that I come near to him so that I can help him with his Excel work.
Still, tonight I will go home and get socks. And wash my feet. And it will be amazing.
It's been a while since I've written a sad/depressing post - just about two weeks. I'm going to put a hold on the sad/depressing for a bit longer and switch to irritable/cantankerous.
There's a certain class of people that I work with that are persistently making small talk. These people seriously irritate the hell out of me. I really couldn't care less about how serendipitous it is that fifty percent of the room went to Harvard (eech). Now, I don't want to be that guy that makes the workplace less fun or what not. But there's a difference between having fun and making small talk. Small talk is made in order to avoid being rude. It's a societal obligation that really should be kept to a minimum, unless it's going to lead to fun. I'd describe what having fun is like, but I've sort of forgotten what it consists of. I vaguely recall that it has something to do with midgets, booze, and large bears in party hats riding tiny tricycles.
Unfortunately, I think that most of those things are frowned upon in the workplace.
Another irritable note: they're banning tag at schools. This follows the banning of games like dodgeball or soccer. I swear, over-protective/litigious parents are freaking retarded. My prediction: kids will just start having sex earlier.
Lee's gone for the weekend. It's really hitting me how much I've lost touch with all the friends I used to have in the city. I don't even know who to call right now.
I am trapped inside of my office. Not by bars, not by any sort of working obligation. I'm trapped by torrential rain and a $900 dollar suit. Such is life.
Last night marked the end of my first year together with Lee. We went out, ate a nice meal, and went home. I was worried that things wouldn't come together, but everything worked out. It was a nice night.
On the ride home, I began to think about fairy tales - Cinderella in particular. It struck me that the tale of Cinderella may have the most resonance among all the fairy tales that I remember. Red Riding Hood speaks to our fears about the beasts that may be hiding in the dark and in plain sight. Sleeping Beauty has the "One day, my prince will come" aspect, which really only appeals to women, which is probably why it's a second-rate fairy tale. Snow White has weird stepmother/stepchild relations and freakiness with dwarves.
But Cinderella speaks to everyone's desire to be suddenly discovered, seen for our special qualities and pulled away from our daily drudgery. Again, the telling of the story is highly chick-oriented and the part of me that wants to be masculine is yelling at me to abort the writing of this post. But still, I think the Cinderella story is out there in full force, especially with the advent of reality TV. Now everyone has a chance to be discovered (except for that Daniel Lue guy from Survivor, who sucks).
All that being said, the one part of the story that I kept thinking about was the stroke of midnight, when the magic wore off, and Cinderella realized that her dress was really just a bunch of old rags, her horses were just a pack of field mice, and her carriage was a giant pumpkin. The part that saddened me was that for those of us not living in a fairy tale, no matter how much magic you cast over a night, there will always be the stroke of midnight to bring us back to the reality of daily life.
I think it says a lot that the most damaging thing to happen to the Republican party's chances for re-taking the House are not:
a) Initiating the war on Iraq
b) Lying to the American public about the reasons for going into Iraq
c) Totally bungling the rebuilding of Iraq at the cost of thousands of lives and billions of dollars
d) Huge mismanagement of fiscal policy, leading to a huge ramp-up in federal debt
e) Utter mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina
Instead, the thing that is probably going to get them is the fact that one of their representatives sent dirty text messages to a Congressional page.
Honestly. What the f***.
I know, there's a lot there. Incredible hypocrisy on their part, abuse of power for pedophilic purposes, gross gross gross, etc. But in terms of the actual costs to the nation, how does this even remotely compare to any of the other things I just mentioned?
The voting public is craaaazy.
When I was a kid, we used to have storytime at the school library. It was awesome, it was more or less like watching TV, except the only picture you get is of an old, shrivel-some lady hunched over an excessively colorful book. If you closed your eyes, you could sometimes get her to look like Levar Burton.
There was one story that I'm remembering in particularly vivid detail at the moment. It was called Alex and the rotten, stinky, terrible, no good, completely awful day. Or something along those lines. And the story started off with Alex, or whatever his name was, waking up on the wrong side of the bed, with gum in his hair, his mom yelling at him, his homework undone, late for the bus, and all sorts of terrible things. The way the book went, he'd have probably dropped a fudge-covered twinkie in his sheets too if the book was written for adults.
The reason I'm remembering this book (which doesn't exist as far as Amazon is concerned) is because as far as mornings go, this one was pretty much shit. For all of you voyeurs out there, I'm going to give my apologies for not letting out any personal details. No, I did not crap my pants. Whatever it was that happened, it was stressful and made me unhappy.
In The curious incident of the dog in the night-time, or whatever that Mark Haddon book was called, the narrator needs to see how many red cars vs. yellow cars there are on the way to school in order to make a judgement about whether the rest of the day is going to be good or bad. I would have thought the character was an idiot, but he was autistic, so I guess the proper thing to do is cut him some slack. Still, having signs tell you that a day is going to be bad is really just a half step away from having tea leaves tell you that you should kill your parents for insurance money. Days aren't made bad because of random morning occurences. Days are made bad by bad things happening constantly throughout the day.
Hell, even if you have a bad morning, that should have very little bearing on the rest of your day. At least I hope, because my morning sucked and I want it to go away. Hurray for work.
This posting stuff is a lot easier if you commit yourself to writing no more than a paragraph or two. It gets even easier if the alternative is working.
Lately, I've had a problem committing myself to a book. I'm reading no less than three books at the moment. And by reading, I mean that I've gotten through the first chapter and not much else. The books include:
1) That book by Ignatieff that I wrote on about, Oh, two months ago.
2) The Life of Pi, which had a really captivating introduction and a really boring first chapter.
3) Blindness, which actually seems like it might win this particular horse race.
I blame all of my reading difficulties on my girlfriend, who always makes it difficult to be near the book that I want to read.
So, what I didn't get was that if I started writing something a week ago, but posted it today, it's published as if I posted it a week ago. This will probably make my last post confusing for anyone that hasn't look at this site in a while. All one of you (for some reason, this phrase sounds really awkward if the number is < 3).
I'm sneezing a lot today.
I have a big problem with finishing my posts. They're all really long and end up being kind of boring. In fact, they're so boring that by the time I've reached the 80%-completion point, I'm too bored to finish writing them. They start becoming like a phone call that's taking up too long, but you're too polite to tell the other person to stop yapping about how their pear tastes and let you go.
The problem with not finishing your posts is that some of them are time sensitive. The post that I just posted says something like, "I haven't posted anything in a while, I feel bad, blah blah blah." Of course, I posted a bunch of Colbert clips within the last week or so. But when I started writing the last post, that was clearly not the case.
Anyway, I think that trying to write down my serious thoughts might be too time-consuming. Maybe I'll switch over to fluffier topics like, "I've eaten at the same Japanese restaurant at the same time (10:45pm) for the past three days and they all think that I'm Japanese." This would be a bonus, because then I could start going at all of those thoughts that are only one line long, yet still equally pressing in my mind, e.g. I have to stop drinking alcohol - beer in particular - because it makes me really gassy on the following day and will probably end up getting me fired.
I wonder if Kant ever had this problem while he was writing his critiques. Oh well.