Collapsing World

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Busy?

When you have some time, check out Inaccessible Sites Tested by Users of the Real-Time Testing System Real-Time Testing of Internet Filtering in China. It's a LONG LONG list. And pretty interesting, some of them.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Toilet kitty.

Pic #1.jpg

Testing my new cameraphone. What did we ever do before the ability to
instantly transmit the image of a cat with its head in the toilet?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Introducing the Collapsing File Cabinet

And now for something completely different.

I'd like to draw your attention to the file cabinet on the left, just below the blog archives. That's the Collapsing File Cabinet, an entirely new blog that will serve as a clipping service for this blog. Too many of the posts here have begun to consist primarily of uncommented links to other articles, and that bothered me. If this blog becomes little more than a series of time-sensitive bookmarks, then what's the point? I want Collapsing World to be about my thoughts and words, not someone else's. For that reason, all of the articles and other blog entries I come across that I want to share but cannot substantially expound upon, will go into the Collapsing File Cabinet. Please, visit it frequently. There's good stuff in there, just not perhaps a good fit for in here. I hope that in the posts to come you'll get to see more of me and less copying and pasting. (And no, Albert, by that I do not mean that I'll be posting nude pictures of myself!)

Oh, and get yourself a Bloglines account. It's worth it. You'll wonder how you managed all of those blogs and newsgroups and news sites until now.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Errata

--The NYT calls upon China to save Tiger Leaping Gorge.

--I didn't know I was unAmerican. Watch Ian Rhett's music video, then figure out what you're going to do for the next four years.

--This story, like Charlie the parrot herself, is a bit musty but still funny.

--I want one!

--Remember the currency exchange fountain that was intended as an experiment in integrating aesthetically-pleasing data feedback into our surroundings? This IM flower pot adds itself to the further goal of "softening" our hard-wired environment. Whenever its owner's girlfriend logs on to IM, the flower opens and blooms, then closes again when she logs off. Imagine a large, multi-colored bouquet for someone with a large friends list! What color and type of flower would you like to be?

Friday, November 05, 2004

One more thing

I recently received the best gift from Hekate: a copy of Change Your Underwear Twice a Week: Lessons from the Golden Age of Classroom Filmstrips by Danny Gregory. I thoroughly embarrassed myself in her living room by hooting like a chimpanzee as I thumbed through it. Even if you aren't old enough to remember these filmstrips (heck, most of them were before my time), get this book. It's seriously worth it. I'm still giggling over it.

Thank you, Hek. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

49% of America to the world: we're so sorry.

Click the link in the title, dammit.

Florida redux after all?

The reality of e-voting shenanigans that everyone feared has begun to trickle in. Apparently a voting machine in Franklin county recorded 4,258 votes for Bush in a precinct where there were only 638 total votes cast. One wonders: if this is discovered to be a consistent error pattern throughout the state, will the reduced total for Bush be enough to push Kerry over the top? Realistically, probably not; but I still believe in a place called Hope.

I'm including the entire article because it's short and the Columbus Dispatch requires registration. You can get a bugmenot sign-in and read the original article here.
Computer error at voting machine gives Bush 3,893 extra votes

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A computer error with a voting machine cartridge gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a Gahanna precinct.

Franklin County's unofficial results gave Bush 4,258 votes to Democratic challenger John Kerry's 260 votes in Precinct 1B. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.

Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said Bush received 365 votes there. The other 13 voters who cast ballots either voted for other candidates or did not vote for president.

Damschroder said he received some calls Thursday from people who saw the error when reading the list of poll results on the election board's Web site.

He said the error would have been discovered when the official canvass for the election is performed later this month.

Damschroder said after Precinct 1B closed, a cartridge from one of three voting machines at the polling place generated a faulty number at a computerized reading station.

The reader also recorded zero votes in a county commissioner race.

Damschroder said the cartridge was retested Thursday and there were no problems. He couldn't explain why the computer reader malfunctioned.

Workers checked the cartridge against memory banks in the voting machine Thursday and each showed that 115 people voted for Bush on that machine. With the other machines, the total for Bush in the precinct added up to 365 votes.

Eno on America

--I came across an editorial written by musician Brian Eno. It's from early 2003, but still very relevant. An exerpt:
When Europeans make such criticisms, Americans assume we're envious. "They want what we've got," the thinking goes, "and if they can't get it, they're going to stop us from having it." But does everyone want what America has? Well, we like some of it but could do without the rest: among the highest rates of violent crime, economic inequality, functional illiteracy, incarceration and drug use in the developed world. President Bush recently declared that the U.S. was "the single surviving model of human progress." Maybe some Americans think this self-evident, but the rest of us see it as a clumsy arrogance born of ignorance.

Europeans tend to regard free national health services, unemployment benefits, social housing and so on as pretty good models of human progress. We think it's important — civilized, in fact — to help people who fall through society's cracks. This isn't just altruism, but an understanding that having too many losers in society hurts everyone. It's better for everybody to have a stake in society than to have a resentful underclass bent on wrecking things. To many Americans, this sounds like socialism, big government, the nanny state. But so what? The result is: Europe has less gun crime and homicide, less poverty and arguably a higher quality of life than the U.S., which makes a lot of us wonder why America doesn't want some of what we've got.


Other good reads:
--John Updike reviews Robert Alter's new translation of the Pentateuch

--After Arafat, What? by Dennis Ross

--Thomas Friedman, Two Nations Under God

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Twit happens

Congratulations, Mr Bush, you won the election. For the first time. Last go-around, I was disgusted and appalled at the manipulation and treachery of the Republican election machine; this time, I'm disgusted and appalled at my fellow citizens. Obviously, critical-thinking skills are sorely lacking in the populace. Of course, hats off to you and your skillful emotional manipulation of their shallow minds. Somehow you managed to ride to victory on the basis of nearly 20,000 deaths: the 3,000 killed in the Sept 11th attacks; 1,269 coalition fatalities in Iraq; and approximately 15,000 civilian deaths (those 15,000 are not counting actual terrorists and insurgents--the people who deserved to die--those are people trapped in the paths of the falling bombs and flying bullets). It all reminds me of your campaign against Texas gov Anne Richards, when you called her soft on crime for executing prisoners too slowly and promised that you would kill prisoners at a faster rate (which you did--horrifyingly).

You actually managed to rob our citizens of their humanity by making them feel morally right and superior about corpses in the street. The funny thing is, you call yourself a Christian. I'm an athiest myself, but I've found that I've read more of the bible than most Christians, and my personal moral compass follows that of Jesus more closely than 95% of folks who claim to be members of his following. From what I can tell, most of your biblical inspiration comes from the Old Testament, which really has nothing to do with Christianity, it's mostly old-school Judaism. I don't think that if there is a god, that it is on your side. I don't think it annoited you to the White House, as you do. I think that if there is a god, it is looking upon you and your ilk with revulsion and searching the back of the pantry for the D-Con. No wonder the rest of the world is angry with us. You've denigrated half the world's religions, and made a mockery of the other half's.

I can only take the choice of 51% of my fellow Americans as an indication that they see your administration as validation to hate. Your policies make it ok to hate brown people*, homosexuals, or anyone who makes less money. As long as it's cast in the light of moral superiority and rabid patriotism, the most vile attitude is ok. Don't like the sight of two men or two women kissing? Does it make your mind automatically go to the picture of them doing the nasty beneath the sheets? Just claim that it's destroying your loveless, sexless heterosexual marriage and you have a green light to scrawl bigoted discrimination upon our sacred Constitution. Personally, I think your attitude towards gay relationships comes from the fact that they are undeniably based on love and caring and not your women-as-property dogma. You see, when you love someone you don't want to suppress them and force them to set aside their goals and ideals for yours. This is the only way in which I can see that your so-called "defense of marriage" defends marriage--which doesn't actually defend marriage at all; it defends your Old Testament, chattle-based ideal of marriage. If we suddenly have marriages based on love, it makes it harder for you to defend emotionally imprisoning your spouse in a life of servitude.

The other reason I think a lot of Americans voted for you is that they are under the delusion that someday they will be rich and will benefit from your economic policies. Too bad the poor sods are blind to the fact that 99% of them will never possess enough wealth to take advantage of your tax loopholes and generous legislative corporate gifts. They believe that if they elect you, they'll pay less tax (they won't) or that their stocks will go up (even though most won't own enough to see a tangible profit). It's really funny to see the looks on their faces when they praise the eliminatin of the estate tax and I point out to them that estates aren't taxed unless they're worth more than $1.5 million. Too bad they'll never have an estate worth that because you crushed their union, eliminated their overtime pay, reduced their unemployment benefits, caused their cost of living to go up, and frittered away their Social Security and pension reserves. Whoops, guess they voted for the wrong party! But at least they can feel good about all those dead brown people.

When I read Mark Morford's column in the SF Gate today, Wallow in Chaos and Laugh, he said something that fit my thoughts perfectly:
It simply boggles the mind: we've already had four years of some of the most appalling and abusive foreign and domestic policy in American history, some of the most well-documented atrocities ever wrought on the American populace and it's all combined with the biggest and most violently botched and grossly mismanaged war since Vietnam, and much of the nation still insists in living in a giant vat of utter blind faith, still insists on believing the man in the White House couldn't possibly be treating them like a dog treats a fire hydrant.

Inexplicable? Not really. People want to believe. They want to trust their leaders, even against all screaming, neon-lit evidence and stack upon stack of flagrant, impeachment-grade lie. They simply cannot allow that Dubya might really be an utter boob and that they are being treated like an abused, beaten housewife who keeps coming back for more, insisting her drunk husband didn't mean it, that she probably had it coming, that the cuts and bruises and blood and broken bones are all for her own good.

I guess to sum everything up in a sound-bite-sized phrase: fuck you, Mr Bush.


*Seriously, can your average right-winger differentiate between a Sunni Muslim, a Shi'ia Muslim, a Christian Egyptian or a Hindu?

Notes from a train

10-28-04, somewhere between Rugby, ND (geographic center of North America) and Minot, ND:

I think it's great that the Red Sox won the World Series last night. First time since 1918. Think about that: the last time they won the World Series, ballgames were not even broadcast on the radio (that didn't happen until 1923); television broadcasts didn't even exist. WWI (known then as The Great War) had just come to a close. The sinking of the Titanic and the Lusitania were still as fresh in people's memories as Sept 11, 2001 is to us today. The Soviet Union was one year old.

So that's great. The Sox can drop their whole curse silliness, and we can move on to wallowing in the eternal heartbreak that is the Cubs. 86 years is a long, long time to not win a World Series, but I can think of a few teams who have never even made it there, let alone had a chance to win. Why aren't we rooting for them? Why aren't we lamenting the curse of the _____? To be honest, the four games that composed this year's Series weren't that great. The Cardinals didn't put up much of a fight. After the "can they do it?" excitement of the League playoffs against New York, the four-game rout of the Cardinals was kind of a letdown. I would loved to have seen St Louis make a comeback last night and unexpectedly win the next three matches, making game seven a real edge-of-your-seat game. Even one game would have been nice. It was the dangling two-ton weight of knowing that flubbing even one game would spoil their long-hoped-for chance that made Boston's playoff against the Yankees so dramatic. I believe this is one series where, first Series win in 86 years aside, the seven games leading up to the Series will be remembered more than the Series itself.