Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Before I Forget (again)

The International Medical Corps emailed me (repeatedly) to ask if I could help them out by letting my readers know that they are in the running for a generous donation from American Express. The catch is that the amount they receive will be based on who has the highest number of votes.

IMC's mission is to:

International Medical Corps (IMC) is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs.

Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, IMC is a private, voluntary, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization. Its mission is to improve the quality of life through health interventions and related activities that build local capacity in underserved communities worldwide.

By offering training and health care to local populations and medical assistance to people at highest risk, and with the flexibility to respond rapidly to emergency situations, IMC rehabilitates devastated health care systems and helps bring them back to self-reliance.
So if you could find time in your busy day to drop by and vote for them (simple sign up required) both they and I would appreciate it.

Thanks to The Political Cat for linking to this post.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Debate Reax

I watched the debates (and covered them on Twitter). I was surprised at how little actual debating there was. It seemed to me to mainly be a recitation of the policies listed on their websites. Both candidates gave decent performances. Personally I thought it was a draw. However that may be all Obama needs to win over a chunk of swing voters. By not losing to McCain Obama may have proved to many that he at least has the chops to keep up with him. For some independents that may have been just enough to tip the scales.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Back from the Grave

The whole family has been under the weather this past week. Strange thing is everyone had something different. However everyone seems to be on the mend now. Regular blogging will resume as scheduled.

Meanwhile tonight I will be covering the Presidential debates on Twitter. If my history from the nomination acceptance speeches is any indicator that'll pretty much be me alternating between heckling the candidates and complimenting them on their more astute answers. I can be found here on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Carter Poll

I've seen a few comparisons between W and Jimmy Carter over the last year in regards to which one was the worst president. However given that the current financial crisis happened on W's watch I think a few opinions might have changed so I thought I'd test the wind with a completely unscientific poll.

Is George W Bush

the worst president since Carter
worse than Carter
still better than Carter

(View Results)

Create a Poll

I'll leave it up for a week.

Familiarity, Meet Contempt

I thought the flavor of McCain's recent ad campaigns seemed familiar. Looks like his campaign is now primarily being run by W's old campaign staff....

From the WaPo:

a handful of McCain's longtime allies -- including his closest aide, Mark Salter, and two former lobbyists, Rick Davis and Charlie Black -- continue to hold senior posts in his campaign, many of his advisers from his first presidential bid now play tangential roles at best. In addition to Weaver, McCain's 2000 campaign manager, Michael Murphy, and press adviser Todd Harris are largely out of the McCain circle. The housecleaning, aides said, has been conducted largely by Schmidt, whose own Bush credentials run deep: He helped run the communications shop in the 2004 campaign and went on to work for Vice President Cheney and to shepherd the president's controversial nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. Schmidt then ran California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's successful reelection campaign before withdrawing from national politics -- until he joined the McCain campaign in December 2006.

The personnel shift has become a cause of distress for some Republicans, who had hoped for a new brand of Republicanism to take hold, fueled by players who had experience outside Washington. "It's insane to me that at the same time that it's running saying it's not going to be the Bush administration, this campaign looks like the Bush campaign on steroids," said one Republican strategist.

The tone of McCain's campaign has taken in regards to Obama is pretty similar to the campaign run against Kerry. We're seeing the McCain Campaign jump on anything that could be potentially construed as a gaffe, insult, or flip flop. I refer to this tactic as Attack and Distract because the ultimate purpose of it seems to be to keep the presses eye negatively on the opposition thereby keeping the other campaign playing defense. It worked well enough on Kerry but given how poorly a similar stratagem worked for Clinton during the primaries I have to wonder if it won't ultimately come around and bite McCain in the posterior. I know several independents that are really turned off on McCain due to the campaigns recent negative turn.

Additionally the fact that McCain has surrounded himself with so many Bushies really makes me wonder what his staff is going to look like. Given the errors and overreaches of the current administration I'd like to see McCain's administration full of fresh (and competent) faces. The distinct possibility of that not being the case gives me grave cause for concern.


Fall always makes me homesick. As I have mentioned before I'm originally from Virginia. And if you haven't seen the Blue Ridge Mountains during the peak of fall you are truly missing something.
Pictures don't really do it justice because they have borders. If you get back far enough in the mountains the view is like that for as far as the eye can see in all directions. And if you get that far back before sunrise it almost looks like the world is completely ablaze.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Time to Upgrade?

If you anything like me then your computer probably isn't a top of the line recent model gaming system. My machine is a five year old HP that despite having a 2.4ghz processor has been seeming a little slow lately despite the fact that have my computer configured to use as little memory as possible. So I decided it was time for a few upgrades. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how cheap it was to upgrade 512 megs of Crucial brand RAM 29.99 , a new ATI video card with 256 megs of RAM 39.99, and a Turtle Beach 5.1 surround sound audio card (I had on board sound) 29.99. I got free shipping on eveything by Googling (website name) coupon code

I just thought I'd share my bargains with you in case your puter is acting a little pokey too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Take Exception

To Fred Thompson's last comment in this video...


I believe that distinction belongs to Teddy Roosevelt.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Palin: Email Hack Attack

By now you have no doubt been made aware that Gov. Sarah Palin's personal email account was account hacked. But what you may not have heard is how it was done. So here are the gory details of how exactly her email account was hacked:

  1. The perpetrator logged into the proxy server Ctunnel.com to cover his tracks.
  2. Then he went to yahoo.com clicked the "Forgot your password?" link
  3. Once Yahoo asked the security questions he then Googled the answers
That's all it took. The full story is posted over at Wired including the panic that the "hacker" went into after he realized how stupid his actions were (for doing it and for not covering his tracks better) It is however worth noting that someone from the message boards he posted to did go into the account reset the password and then emailed Palin's office about the "attack".
By now its patently obvious that anyone with enough will could have broken into Palin's email account at any time. Additionally since Yahoo doesn't actually encrypt your mail session only the login page (same goes for AOL, Hotmail, and Gmail*) her account could have hacked at anytime by anyone with the right skills.

The irony is that it was her attempt to get around public accountability that led to her emails, family photos, and daughters phone number being spread on the web. If she had done the right thing and not tried to escape being accounatble to her electorate and used the vastly more secure email system that being governor afforded her this would have never happened in this fashion. Ultimately by trying to eschew accountability she jeopardized information security. Take from that what you will.

Now as for securing your email account first beef up your password, then make the answers to your security questions harder there some good tips on doing both here. Then consider using a password manager to securely store your new and improved passwords that way all of your passwords are instantly available by using one master password. A list of the most popular password managers is available here.

*If you are a gmail user (like myself) you can 128 bit encrypt your entire mail session by logging into your account, clicking on settings (located in the top right hand corner), scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click the circle next to "always use https", then click save changes and your done.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Constitution Day!

Today is the anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. It officially became a holiday back in 2004 "the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day" Not exactly a replacement for Civics class but its a step in the right direction. If you'd like to refresh you memory of its exact contents a downloadable version is available here.

Beating a Dead Horse

It looks like I'm not the only person who thinks that Andrew Sullivan's attacks on Sarah Palin have gone overboard. Over at The Debatable Land occasional Daily Dish stand in Alex Massie thinks so too.

Personally I think his "vetting" of Palin has become so weird and harsh that I'm starting to wonder if she didn't fly from Alaska to Sullivan's house batter his door down with a frozen moose carcass and then proceed to personally pee in his Wheaties.

Sullivan had the following to say in his defense...

All I am doing is exposing as many facts and arguments about this Manchurian candidate that I can find. I am committed to putting the truth out there, especially when it debunks my assumptions and have done so promptly on the sole occasion when some clear evidence rebutted a question I was raising. I am airing all sides of the issues. But I will not relent until we have a better idea of who this person is. And I offer no apologies or regrets for persistence.

If you really think you now know all you need to know about her, read someone else.

Facebook vs Porn

Facebook wins.

From Reuters:

Bill Tancer, a self-described "data geek," has analyzed information for over 10 million web users to conclude that we are, in fact, what we click, with Internet searches giving an up-to-date view of how society and people are changing.

Tancer, in his new book, "Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters," said analyzing web searches did not just reflect what was happening online but gave a wider picture of society and people's behavior.

"There are some patterns to our Internet use that we tend to repeat very specifically and predictably, from diet searches, to prom dresses, to what we do around the holidays," Tancer told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise, an Internet tracking company, said one of the major shifts in Internet use in the past decade had been the fall off in interest in pornography or adult entertainment sites.

He said surfing for porn had dropped to about 10 percent of searches from 20 percent a decade ago, and the hottest Internet searches now are for social networking sites.

"As social networking traffic has increased, visits to porn sites have decreased," said Tancer, indicated that the 18-24 year old age group particularly was searching less for porn.

"My theory is that young users spend so much time on social networks that they don't have time to look at adult sites."

I propose a different theory: They decided to stop watching sex and actually have it. Succesful social networking does increase one's odds after all.

H/T The Daily Dish

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Cavalry Arrives

Look like at least one PAC has answered the Obama Campaign's call...

Pretty tame compared to some of McCain's ads. Its more of a shot across the bow than an actual attack comparatively speaking. Odds are the real heavy handed ads won't be rolled out till a few weeks prior to the election. Just in time to have an effect but close enough to the election that by the time the fact checking is done the votes will have already been counted.


Weird Fact

Texas is one of few states that doesn't allow its citizens to carry handguns unconcealed in public.

That kinda blows the Texas stereotype out of the water now doesn't it?

Monday, September 15, 2008

I've Got the Blues

I've got them low down dirty working seven days a week because of Hurricane Ike, wife is sick, and the big screen TV crapped out blues.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tired of the Endless Spin

Sept 12 2006:

Press Secretary Tony Snow:

Osama bin Laden, mastermind of September 11th, the person that many people talk about and still have concerns about, calls this fight, the fight in Iraq, “the third world war.”

Sept 10 2008:

Press Secretary Dana Perino:

Q: But Osama bin Laden is the one that — you keep talking about his lieutenants, and, yes, they are very important, but Osama bin Laden was the mastermind of 9/11

PERINO: No, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind of 9/11, and he’s sitting in jail right now.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bob Barr to Change His Veep?

To Ron Paul? Considering how much money Ron Paul raised compared to how much Barr has raised (less than a million) it makes a whole lot of sense. However given the fact that Ron Paul's supporters haven't already flocked to Barr's banner and Paul endorsed all third party presidential candidates rather then Barr specifically I'm doubting that Paul will accept.

However it would be really interesting if I were wrong.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Gaffe Master B Strikes Again

Remember what I said about Biden's negatives as a VP choice? He has serious problems staying on message. Here's an example from today of what I meant by that...

From the Politico:

I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy, because there's joy to it as well, the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect. Well guess what folks? If you care about it, why don't you support stem cell research?
I'm left wondering if Biden's support of stem cell research is based on the hope that they'll eventually find a cure for foot in mouth disease.


Obama Calling in the Cavalry?

Looks like the RNC and McCain have finally caught up with Obama financially. The problem? The 527s aligned with McCain have put them over the top. Apparently Obama's campaign has opted to stop pressuring the Dems 527s to lay low.

Courtesy of Marc Ambinder:

An Obama adviser privy to the campaign's internal thinking on the matter says that,with less than two months before the election and with the realization that Republicans have achieved financial parity with Democrats, they hope that Democratic allies -- what another campaign aide termed "the cavalry" -- will come to Obama's aid.

The Obama campaign can't ask donors to form outside groups; it can only communicate, through the public and the media, with body language, tells and hints.
While I was hoping for a cleaner campaign season than this given how tight the race has been I suppose it was bound to happen. Although I have to say that while I understand how important having a monetary advantage over ones opponent is I can't help but wonder if this decision might backfire on Obama. After all its hard to sell yourself as an agent of change if you're doing the same thing every nominee in recent history has done.

H/T Memeorandum

Sliming Sarah

I think its important for bloggers to lay their biases out in the open.
Particularly if one happens to be a moderate/centrist/independent.
Moderates are supposed to be more objective than their more partisan counterparts. Having said that here's my latest bias. I don't like Sarah Palin. Not one bit. And I don't have a good reason for it. Literally as soon as she came onto my radar the alarms started going off. The last time that happened during a presidential race was in 2000 when W declared his candidacy. So I'm going to trust my instincts about her but for the purposes of this blog try to be as objective as possible.

Having said that I do think that the feeding frenzy the media and blogtopia has gotten in over Sarah Palin has reached unprecedented levels. Certain actions of hers have been misrepresented and then in turn presented as the truth repeatedly
by both liberal and moderate bloggers. In particular the book banning inquiry and subsequent firing of the questioned librarian has been woefully misconstrued. The latest blogger of note to propagate that myth (and others) is Juan Cole over at Salon. His recent post, "What's the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick" presents several half truths as fact. So below are a list of his assertions contrasted with what FactCheck.org has to say on the same matter.


while mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin inquired of the local librarian how to go about banning books that some of her constituents thought contained inappropriate language. She tried to fire the librarian for defying her
Fact Check:
Palin never asked that books be banned; the librarian continued to serve in that position; no books were actually banned; and many of the books on the list that Palin supposedly wanted to censor weren't even in print at the time, proving that the list is a fabrication.

It's true that Palin did raise the issue with Mary Ellen Emmons, Wasilla's librarian, on at least two occasions.
Palin never asked that books be banned; the librarian continued to serve in that position; no books were actually banned
Moreover, although Palin fired Emmons as part of a "loyalty" purge, she rehired Emmons the next day, and Emmons remained at her job for two-and-a-half more years. Actually, Palin initially requested Emmons' resignation in October 1996, four days before the public discussion of censorship. That was at the same time she requested that all four of Wasilla's department heads resign.
Palin argued when running for governor that creationism should be taught in public schools, at taxpayers' expense, alongside real science.
Fact Check:
On Aug. 29, the Boston Globe reported that Palin was open to teaching creationism in public schools. That's true. She supports teaching creationism alongside evolution, though she has not actively pursued such a policy as governor.
The GOP vice-presidential pick holds that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape, incest or severe birth defects, making an exception only if the life of the mother is in danger. She calls abortion an "atrocity" and pledges to reshape the judiciary to fight it. Ironically, Palin's views on the matter are to the right of those in the Muslim country of Tunisia,
Palin's stance is even stricter than that of the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In 2005, the legislature in Tehran attempted to amend the country's antiabortion statute to permit an abortion up to four months in case of a birth defect. The conservative clerical Guardianship Council, which functions as a sort of theocratic senate, however, rejected the change. Iran's law on abortion is therefore virtually identical to the one that Palin would like to see imposed on American women
Saudi Arabia's restrictive law on abortion likewise disallows it in the case or rape or incest, or of fetal impairment, which is also Gov. Palin's position.
Fact Check:
*crickets chirp*
(OK, he's right on that count.)

There are real issues that Palin can be taken to task on like fiscal responsibility, accepting earmarks while claiming to be a reformer, CCing her husband on all executive level emails. In fact if you'd like to see a conservative do a fine job of it check out the blog Eunomia over at American Conservative magazine. He smartly points out her faults without ever once propagating a single falsehood. Ultimately that is what separates vetting from sliming. We need more of the former and less of the latter. I may not like Palin but that doesn't mean I don't want her to be treated unfairly.

However at the rate mistruths are being propagated about she may eventually catch up with Obama on the slimed scale. And given how heated things get during presidential election that might be about as fair as blogtopia can manage.

Thanks to Northloop Neighborhoods for linking to this post.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Turning 42

On this day forty two years today go geeky history was made.

The launch of the starship Enterprise...

P.S. The next movie about the original crew is set come out on 05/08/2009

McCain's Post Convention Bounce

Is pretty impressive...

From RCP:

PollDateSampleMcCain (R)Obama (D)Spread
RCP Average09/05 - 09/07--48.645.4McCain +3.2
CNN09/05 - 09/07942 RV4848Tie
USA Today/Gallup09/05 - 09/07823 LV5444McCain +10
Rasmussen Tracking09/05 - 09/073000 LV4847McCain +1
Hotline/FD Tracking09/05 - 09/07924 RV4444Tie
Gallup Tracking09/05 - 09/072733 RV4944McCain +5

Look like its going to be an extremely close race since all polls save USA Today are within or close to the margin of error. Although I for one am curious as to how much of his recent gains are a post convention bounce and how are due to Palin.

McCain Speech Reaction

Yeah I know its a few days late. I watched (and Twittered) the McCain acceptance speech (then went to bed and dreamed that John McCain had moved his campaign's national HQ to my house while I was at work. Hilarity and strangeness ensued.) in full. Personally I thought the speech was mediocre. It seemed very disjointed. Considering that McCain is not the best at giving speeches I expected his speech writer to at least rev up the quality of the speech itself to help him out.

As for the actual message most of it was pretty much what I expected from any GOP presidential candidate drilling, lower taxes, victory in Iraq, etc etc etc. Having said that there were a few points in the speech in which McCain v2000 seemed to have worked in a few lines...


Finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it over the next two months. That's the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. We're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn't be an American worthy of the name if I didn't honor Senator Obama and his supporters for their achievement.
You know, I've been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it's meant as a compliment and sometimes it's not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you.
and also:
I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.
and of course:
Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn't think of them first, let's use the best ideas from both sides. Instead of fighting over who gets the credit, let's try sharing it. This amazing country can do anything we put our minds to. I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.
Like I said all in all was a fairly boilerplate speech designed to assure GOP supporters that McCain is a safe candidate with a few gems tucked into it for independents. Unfortunately for McCain I don't think it caused anyone to gravitate towards him or away from him anywhere near as much as VP pick did. And how exactly that plays out remains to be seen.

On a side note he did appear before a big blue screen again which really makes me wonder if he's looking to get some more Stephen Colbert "Make McCain Interesting" action.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Unintended Consequences

Looks like Palin is a cash cow.

The only problem is that its Obama who is reaping the rewards...

Obama's coffers have been filling since Sarah Palin attacked him repeatedly in St. Paul last night.

An Obama aide confirms Drudge's report that Obama has raised about $8 million from more than 130,000 donors and is on pace to raise $10 million by the time McCain reaches the stage tonight.

Hypocrisy Watch

The Daily Show doing what it does best p@wning partisans...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Saving Superman

Or at least the house in which the idea of him was born.

More information is available at Neil Gaiman's Journal.

Also if you'd be so kind as to Digg that post I'd greatly appreciate it. Its also on Reddit.

As always I put my money where my mouth is.

*Further Update*
According to a tweet from internet icon Jonathan Coulton Mr Rogers is in a bit of danger too. Looks like its a bad day to be a classic American icon.

Thanks to Papa Mikes Blog for linking to this post.

Palin Bikini Pictures

Looks like somebody whipped one up since none seem to exist online. The original is here and the photoshopped one is here.

Don't you just love what passes for political discourse during an election year?

H/T Polimom

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Google Releases New Browser

Google beta released its new browser called Chrome today. I of course downloaded it and took it for a test drive.  While its decidedly minimalist browser I give it really high marks for speed. It opens fast and loads multimedia laden pages like CNN in the blink of an eye. I've yet to get it to crash which is impressive for a beta version of any program. 

Given the fact that Google can market the crap out of its browser for free and the fact that Google is known for high quality useful products Microsoft has some serious cause for concern.

The Palin Drone

In case you haven't noticed the coverage of McCain's veep pick has all but dominated the news cycle over the holiday weekend. And if the MSM's coverage has been excessive then the political blogosphere's coverage has been to the saturation point. One benefit of this flood of coverage has been that much was made known about Palin in a very short period of time. Unfortunately both the MSM and and many in blogtopia went beyond sifting Palin's past and also put her family under a microscope. That's a line that shouldn't be crossed. The result has been days of ad hominem attacks on both Palin and her family, rank condescension by the MSM, and a stream of vitriol on the left that is normally reserved only for W himself. In fact the treatment of her family became so bad that even Obama tried to reign it in.

A side effect of this has been that the base has circled the wagons around Palin and by extension McCain. Additionally I think the nonstop coverage of McCain's decision to make Palin his second forced many independents to reevaluate their position on a McCain presidency. How that pans out remains to be seen although early polling suggests Palin polls more positively received amongst men than women. I've seen many question the judgement of McCain in picking Palin. I myself said it was risky. Its obvious that he needed someone socially conservative enough to get that demographic behind him. I said earlier that she was a risky choice. But I can't help but wonder if McCain's campaign suspected that this would happen. By that I mean that by picking Palin they would bring out the worst that the left has to offer and therefore give them just enough rope to hang themselves.

We'll have to wait for the post convention polls to see if that proves to be true.

Thanks to The Big Stick for linking to this post.