Monday, April 30

runoff politics

Another fun thing to do here in Texas is to play the Runoff Politics Game when voting in an election. The goal of the game is to select a weak opponent for the person you really want to win the (final) election. Texas doesn't require us to designate a party affiliation, so this makes it much easier to cross party lines and effectively gerrymander an election without rigging district boundaries.

Here's how to play (the rules are simple enough that even products of the Texas Education System can participate):

1- Consider the final race, not the current one.

2- Choose the candidate least likely to win against your desired winner of the general election (it helps if this is a partisan race, but is not required.

3- Make sure that General Election Loser is well funded enough (or well organized enough) to place 2nd, so that he'll make the cut for the runoff but stand almost no chance against the desired winner.

This is how the Republics win most races here. In the first election they cross party lines and vote for a weak challenger to their desired election winner. The only trick is to not overdo it, since you still want your candidate in "the finals".

An example is the 2007 race for Dallas Mayor (mostly a figurehead position, since the mayor here has the same vote -- 1 of 15 -- as any City Council member). There are ten candidates. The chance of any of them getting 50% of the vote in the upcoming (May 12) election is zero .. simply because none of them have broken away from the pack (an apropos metaphor, given Saturday's Kentucky Derby). Mathematically, it's possible they could each receive 10% of the vote, but odds are that the Dallas Southern Sector (mostly black) will support the only serious black candidate (who happens to be under an FBI Cloud Of Suspicion, but that's another rat hole). I fully expect those precincts to have high turnout because the (underlying?) City Council seats there have attracted many candidates and voter interest is high. The rest of the city will split their vote among the top 3 White Christian Republicans and one of them will run in the June 16th runoff election.

So, that's how I'll cast my vote: for the candidate who will provide the weaker opponent for the winner of the upcoming May 12 vote. Golly, this is such good sport. Speaking of good sports .. the Dallas Stars lost in the first round of the hockey playoffs, and the Dallas Mavericks are now poised to do likewise in the basketball playoffs. Like anyone really cares.

Saturday, April 28

Texas Voter Suppression Act of 2007

Yet another example of the moral turpitude that defines Texas Politics: Todd Smith: "I Did it Because I'm Republican"
Note to William-Bob: This is not the famous Plano Bowler. This is the Fort Worth attorney, graduate of the right-wing Southern Methodist University (future home of the Bush Liberry).
Some background: Texas already has the 6th worst voter participation in the country (citation). For many years, the Republics have gerrymandered districts (think: Tom DeLay) to maintain control. Now that such bad behavior has become common knowledge, the Republics have resorted to scare tactics to create what's affectionately being called "The Voter Suppression Act of 2007" which will prevent additional (low income, minority) voters from casting their vote, due to the higher entrance barrier erected against a Don Quixote-type adversary (the "illegal Mexicans who are trying to vote" - of which there are none).

For those of you voyeurs (!) who'd like to actually read the bill (something that our elected representatives are NOT required to do), here is the text of Texas House Bill 218 (2007). Once it's signed by Governor PrettyHair, it'll take effect in September 2007. I fully expect Texas to rocket to 50th (read: dead last) place soon thereafter. The good news: Texas is still #1 in executions.

Thursday, April 26

all cancers must be cured, right?



The venerable grid.org is pulling the plug at noon tomorrow! I noticed a blinking exclamation mark in the icon and it pointed here: All Good Things Come To An End… (no clue how long that notice will remain online).

Since my collective PCs have provided many years (7 years, 278 days) of compute power, I'll have to think where (or if) to redirect their energies (Literally. Running the CPUs at 100% requires more electricity than normal workloads).
Click the label: grid.org (below) if you'd like to see my musings on the topic over the past few years.
They're recommending these alternate projects:
  1. World Community Grid
  2. Distributed.net
  3. Compute Against Cancer
  4. Folding@Home
  5. fightAIDS@Home
  6. LHC@home
  7. Distributed Folding
  8. SETI@home
They're also recommending these sites to learn more about these and other projects:
  1. EnterTheGrid ("The world's largest directory on Grid computing")
  2. Grid Cafe (CERN)
  3. Open Grid Forum
  4. The Israeli Association of Grid Technologies
One of the things that kept me going for so many years was the team of which I was a member: Team Shield. It looks like I'll finish in 5th place:

Wednesday, April 25

now how will I know who to loathe?

buyblue.org (which showed us how to channel our money away from The Radical Right) has gone off the web. I suspect a conspiracy.

Tuesday, April 24

pond scum sinks to the bottom, right?

From time to time, I've opined here about the correlation between a Fine Texas Education and the likes of Karl Rove; Tom DeLay and George W. Bush (collectively determined to destroy this country). This is not to ignore the current crop of pond scum working its way into the national limelight .. their day will arrive soon enough.

Granted, Texas isn't completely filled with vacuous neanderthals, since this is also home to Ann Richards; Molly Ivins; LBJ; Dan Rather and Bill Moyers* (to name a few) .. but, the statistics presented in January's "Texas on the Brink: How Texas Ranks Among the 50 States" are certainly chilling.
* okay, Bill Moyers was born in Oklahoma. But he was Raised Up here in Texas.
And it ain't a gittin' any better, given what I've read about the 2007 Texas Legislature and the new cavalcade of insanity that is about to be laded upon us, like so much cream gravy. With that in mind, I hereby point out today's recommended reading: A Race To The Bottom. Amazing.

If you have the time for more, yesterday's post on The Bush Library Blog ain't half bad, either.

Sunday, April 22

a few less pundits : where's the harm?

I find it fascinating that the likes of Tom DeLay; Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh are advocating arming everyone, to prevent more Virginia Tech massacres.

In the "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" mentality, I have yet to hear any of these sociopaths advocate bringing more guns into their own insular worlds. Whatever could go wrong if everyone entering Comedian Rush Limbaugh*'s studio of horrors came packing a 9mm handgun? Hell, he should Loan A Glock to anyone who enters without one. Eventually (a week or so), we'd end up with one less radio host, but at least we wouldn't stray from the Radical Right's reinterpretation of the Second Amendment. This is one place where they and the KKK are in complete agreement.
Everybody Knows™ that "well regulated militia" == "arm all the White Christian Republicans"
Ditto for the US Senate: I can't see a problem if everyone entering the Senate chambers was armed, just in case. If Gingrich and DeLay are so willing to arm every college student ...
well, okay, not all of them. Not the Darkies. Or the Women. Or the Orientals. Or the Mexicans. Or the Muslims (A-rabs).
.. why not go the extra step and remove all those metal detectors from government offices around the country? We'd surely save a bundle by sacking the security staffs .. maybe enough to fund Bush's Oil War another week or so.

* description courtesy "Countdown with Keith Olbermann", MSNBC (MicroSoft National Broadcasting Company)
Everybody Knows is a trademark of the state-run media (Fox "News"); Rush Limbaugh Productions; and the Christian Fascist Republican Party.

Saturday, April 21

Earth Day 2007

I moseyed over to Starbucks tonight, and happened to notice that my receipt contained a pointer to Planet Green Game .. so, having a few extra cycles today, I gave it a whirl and earned a merit badge of sorts:

I'm not sure I learned anything, since I'm already ├╝ber-knowledgable about Being Green, but .. the music was nice to listen to while I bicycled through their faux city, watching a few mini-movies and such.

They mentioned something about bringing my own coffee cup, to spare a few of those cardboard cups in which they insert my favorite delicious hot beverage. I have to wonder whether my own cup would hold a tall, grande or vente. Hmmm.

Friday, April 20

what she said

I can't do The Virginia Tech Massacre much more justice than In the Pink Texas did already: Aiming into the Wind. Sure, I have some issues with the posting. The part about how it's okay to kill birds with a shotgun is repulsive; the solution of banning all pistols is horribly naive (and the "citation" remedy is straight out of President Quagmire's "How To Be A Good Precedent" [sic] handbook).

That said, there are parts of this posting that are worthwhile, especially the last paragraph. Yes, the gun lobby has paid off far too many politicians (under the guise of "targeted campaign contributions") to ever be reigned in, so the chance of a solution is z-e-r-o. Oops .. Zero with a capitol [sic] Z.

The "Pink blog post" reminds me of how conflicted I remain whenever I waddle over to the KKK's Blog .. I find myself agreeing with about half some of the stuff (President Quagmire's Regime), but the other half rest (primarily a series of racist rants) bears no semblance to sanity/reality. Example: their take on The Massacre is that it's the fault of our immigration policy which allows Asians (oops .. they say "Orientals") into this country in the first place. The KKK are absolute morons .. 98.6% of the time.

Thursday, April 19

150 and counting ...

Tonight, I'll post the 150th episode (!) of Sundry on Thursday. Woo hoo.

Wednesday, April 18

(beep) beep BEEP - enough already!

I have a UPS (not the parcel company) on each of my PCs at home; they don't cost much more than a surge protector and provide nice, clean power so my computers won't gag with the over/undervoltages provided by TXU.

So, after adding Yet Another Random Patch to one of my Windows XP boxes (and the subsequent obligatory reboot), the UPS monitor (APC PowerChute) complained - once too often - that I hadn't replaced the battery in 3+ years. Wanting Instant Gratification, I waddled over to BatteriesPlus with the old battery and waltzed out with a replacement in about 48 seconds, my wallet a mere $29.99 lighter.

I came home, plugged in the 2 connectors (red to red and black to .. uh .. black?) and suddenly the world is a somewhat quieter place. Until at least April 2010 (3 years from now, for you Math Wizards).

In a related note (wha??) Drew-Bob sent an email asking if I wanted to Do Lunch on Wednesday. Sure, I mused .. knowing that I'll get about 15 minutes warning as he leaves his employer's parking lot. Hmm .. what burger establishment will get our business today? (1:45pm answer: Sonny Bryan's BBQ - not exactly a burger place)

Monday, April 16

60 years ago: the Texas City Disaster

This is surely covered in Texas History class, but since I ain't from here, I hadda readabout it online:
On 16 April 1947, America's worst harbor explosion occurred in Texas City, Texas, when the French ship Grandcamp, carrying ammonium nitrate fertilizer, caught fire and blew up, devastating the town.
There's a lengthy citation on Wikipedia .. but, who knows how much of that is true, and how much is conjecture?

Lesson learned? When fertilizer catches fire, do NOT "steam the hold".

Sunday, April 15

historical rewrite

It's not often that I blog about one blogger blogging about another blogger, but .. today I'm making an exception.

A spot on read may be found on Geoff Arnold's blog:
Pharyngula on the impossibility of honest pandering

I wonder what kind of a world we'd live in today if President Morass Debacle Quagmire and His ilk were correct about this being a [White] Christian [Republican] nation? Since their world is only 6100 years old, the museums would first have to be purged of anything suggesting an older age. We could start with most anthropology including ancient Chinese relics; anything inferring the age of The Grand Canyon; various dinosaur exhibits, and work from there.

Rewriting history reminds me of the premise behind George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).
Aside: I have added Swastika Night (1937) to my wish list, for the next (inevitable) purchase-o-books. It's said this was the basis for Orwell's epic.
We'd also presumably be living in an Amish Paradise, sans 98.6% of the stuff surrounding me at this moment, including these pieces of shaped plastic that my fingers are touching.
Deep thought: I wonder how Karl Rove would do without his "surgically attached Blackberry"?

Friday, April 13

Look out, Tulsa

A story in today's Dallas Managed News says:
"The Dallas-Fort Worth area is No. 2 on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s latest list of the 100 most challenging places for allergy sufferers to live.

Tulsa leads the list."
I'm guessing our local politicians are working on a plan to make Dallas #1 .. so the Tulsans (Tulsians? Tulsicans?) had better watch their back. Meanwhile, will someone pass me another tissue? And some eye drops? And some sinus meds? And ...

Tuesday, April 10

Recommended: Countdown with Keith Olbermann

I can't believe it myself. After test-driving Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MS-NBC for the past month, I've decided to add it permanently to my TiVo Season Pass™. This is all the more noteworthy because I'd normally ignore this network altogether -- because it is the creation of The Evilest Empire In The World: Microsoft.

Alas, Countdown is definitely Good Stuff, Highly Recommended, Yadda^3.

More info's on wikipedia if you're so inclined.



For those of you who like to read Both Sides, here are a couple pro-Keith and anti-Keith sites.

Saturday, April 7

all shopped out

Jill was in own this week, to visit her dentist and take in a Stars game, and .. to shop. We started off at Kampai (sushi), then moseyed to Northpark Center (Eddie Bauer and the Apple store), then onto West Elm (furniture); Trinity Hall (nourishment); Pokey O's (dessert) and Half-Price Books (to buy vs. sell). No idea when she leaves or gets home.

Today it was Judy's turn: we fed at the Waffle House, then onto Saigon-Taipei (grocery); Hiep-Thai (grocery); Gateway Travel; watch a DVD (A Good Year); and Half-Price Books (to sell vs. buy).

I now think I'm All Retailed Out for awhile. Tomorrow, most stores will probably be closed (Easter Sunday in The Bible Belt) and it's a bit chilly (1°C tonight) so I'll probably be able to kick back and Read A Good Book tomorrow.



Unrelated: today's Texas Idiot Of the Day is Dan Patrick, who walked out on a different (than His own) religion's prayer. Patrick is a Texas state senator from Houston, and fulltime White Christian Republican radio talkshow host. I'm guessing he'd like better ratings, which is why he pulled this stunt.

Friday, April 6

hide the children!

I found a rabbit gnawing on one of my Cat6 cables today. Turns out it wasn't a problem. It was just (drum roll please) ...

... The Ether Bunny.

Monday, April 2

The Mathematics of Revelation

Well, isn't that special?

Not only are Texas legislators considering gutting the public school system, so that Rich White Christians can channel their money to School Vouchers (and private, White Christian Schools) but now they want to mandate an elective course in the Christian Bible in Texas schools.

House Bill 1287 would mandate that every high school in the state offer an elective Bible course. Unbelievable. I guess they must think that their own White Christian education every Sunday isn't enough, so they now must encroach on the public school system (or whatever is left after James Leininger and his School Voucher Nazis take every last dime).

When was the last time you heard a realtor say "your property values will increase because this neighborhood has a great private school system? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Wouldn't it be easier to mandate a law where English and Trigonometry are taught by the White Christian schools? Certainly Real Texans don't want Liberal Readin' Rightin' and Rithmetic (the Texas 3 Rs) to be tot in non-Christian schools? Oy, vey.

I'm guessing that these new White Christian classes will not teach how to add 666 and 666 together?