Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best New-to-Me Music of 2008

Yesterday my friend Jeffrey blogged his favorite music of 2008. He inspired me to finally blog something. Here goes.

These are things I liked in 2008. I'm sure some of them will end up being from before 2008, since I'm about as far from hip as is possible. Also, some of this is probably supposed to be lame, or only appeal to one particular group to which I don't necessarily belong, or whatever. Again, I'm not hip; I just buy what I like. Feel free to let me know how much this bothers you in the comments.

I was going to make this a list of everything I bought in 2008, since certainly that wouldn't be much of a list... but it turns out Amazon's MP3 Download system was very effective on me. I bought quite a bit this year, probably coming pretty close to the most I've ever spent on music. Kudos, Amazon.

Anyhoo, without further ado:

10. The Reminder by Feist
As you might notice going through this list, if it's in a commercial, there's a good chance I like it. It isn't that I like it because it's in a commercial; I'm a DVR addict, and usually don't realize the stuff I buy is in commercials until after I've bought it. It's just that, apparently, the kind of music people think is good for selling stuff seems to be the music I like. I know that makes me lame, but I don't care.

Feist definitely falls into that category. Her video for "1234" was a piece of single-shot coolness that bought her a long-running iPod commercial. I think I managed to see that video before finally buying the album... on Amazon, so suck it Apple!

9. Oracular Spectacular by MGMT
Something about MGMT music just makes me happy. I think it's that it sounds like they're having fun playing their songs. Or maybe it's the association with the Rock-afire Explosion YouTube videos, like the one I linked above.

8. Carnavas by Silversun Pickups
I don't get the 10 seconds of interference at the end of "Well Thought Out Twinkles," but I love absolutely everything else about this album.

7. The It Girl by Sleeper
I think this is the oldest album on my list, but I had to include it. I don't remember how I randomly stumbled on Sleeper years ago, but I fell in love with them. Last week, I found out they had an album in-between the two I owned already. I don't know how I missed it, but I had to buy it.

6. Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend
They have a song about the Oxford comma (aka the serial comma), of which I am a huge advocate. Sure, they imply that I'm somehow strange for advocating Oxford commas, but their music is awesome enough that I got over their dismissiveness.

5. "Yes We Can" by will.i.am, etc
This one made the list even though, as far as I know, it isn't on any album (if you know of an album that has it, let me know; will.i.am deserves to get some cash from me for putting this together, since I've listened to it about a billion times). This video/song/speech explains in four and a half minutes why I was willing to devote so much time to getting that guy elected. The speech is beautiful, moving, and informative. Listen to it; he isn't just saying we want some glittering generality of "change" like his critics always claimed. He lays out, of course in broad brushstrokes in this few minutes, but still with a fair amount of specifics what it is we're working for. Together, we can continue to strive toward a more perfect union. Beautiful.

4. XO by Elliott Smith
I've listened to "Miss Misery" from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack many, many, many times while feeling down, and something about its sad beauty always cheered me back up. For some reason, I had never though to buy anything else buy Elliott Smith until this year. Sadly, I can't buy anything new; Elliott killed himself (probably; there's still some speculation that foul play was involved) in 2003.

3. Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow by Jonathan Coulton
The best thing about Rock Band is the new music it introduces me to. I really should have heard of Jonathan Coulton before "Still Alive" and "Skullcrusher Mountain" made it into Rock Band, but somehow I'd missed him. I've begun to rectify that with this album and the two versions of "Still Alive" from the Orange Box Soundtrack. He has a friggin' song about the Mandelbrot Set. How could I possibly not love that?

2. Costello Music by The Fratellis
Apparently the Fratellis had a song or three in commercials. Somehow I missed that until after a bartender friend played them at his bar. I went home that night and downloaded their album on iTunes; it wasn't on Amazon, so I installed iTunes and set up my iTunes Store account, because I had to own that album. Their music is just so fun.

1. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (Soundtrack) by Various Artists
If you have not yet watched Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, go do so right now. I love everything about this thing. I'd heard some buzz about it before it came out, but I never expected the music to be as complex and interesting as it turned out to be. And it stars Barney Stinson, Mal, and that Guild geek chick. Could it possibly be more awesome? I don't think so.

Honorable Mention 1: "MyHope" by sweetafton23
For some reason she doesn't have an mp3 of this available yet, so I can't listen to this easily enough on repeat to figure out if I'd still love it... but I really don't have enough ukelele in my playlist. Mostly I love that people can just do this now, putting out music without a studio, let alone a label. Good stuff. Now let me give you money for your mp3!

Honorable Mention 2: "Keeping the Dream Alive" by M√ľnchener Freiheit
I still can't find an mp3 of this (in English, at least), but I actually bought two somewhat crappy covers of it earlier this year when somehow it randomly came to mind. God I love this song. I have listened to this one on repeat (back in the early 90s), but it's not at all new to me; it's just something I dug up when I realized YouTube would let me do so. Thank you, YouTube!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why I'm Both Happy and Pissed about Warren

Background: Obama picked a homophobic prick named Rick Warren* to invoke the sky giant at his inauguration. Rick Warren is the stereotypical evangelical asswhipe, who, for example, thinks that, if we allow gay marriage, we have to also allow incestuous marriages and pedophiliac marriages. 'Cuz, you know, homosexuality is exactly the same as incest and pedophelia in his eyes.

People are very pissed that Obama has invited such a jackass to his inauguration. There are certainly reasons to be pissed, but there are also reasons not to be.

1. Obama is able to use this outrage as cover to say things like this:
It is no secret that I am an advocate for gay and lesbian Americans.
Without this controversy, there's little reason for Obama to make such a statement, which, btw, is something no president-elect has ever said before.

2. The coverage is all about what a jackass Warren is. Some Americans knew before all this that Warren was a dumbass. Now, a larger percentage have heard about the quote comparing gay marriage, incest, and pedophilia. The coverage is making sure he continues to appeal only to the intolerant jerks that he already appealed to.

3. This is going to work on some percentage of people. Idiots who agree with everything Obama says other than the "fact" that he's Muslim can say, "Oh, if an evangelical idiot like me invokes God for him, I guess he must not be Muslim." Maybe they can leave the idiotic side of their personality behind and vote for the stuff that matters, and maybe they can even listen to Obama and learn something.

4. It's the part of the inauguration where they ask the sky giant to pay attention, and Obama picked someone who he does not agree with. In other words, Obama doesn't give a shit what the sky giant thinks. He's doing this for politics, and the religious side of it doesn't factor into his decision. That's great.

All that said, Warren is a big pile of idiocy. He was a big supporter of Prop 8, which was already a kick in the teeth to LGBTs on election day (I mean, it was also a kick in the teeth to those of us who think that kind of thing is evil, but not as directly aimed as it was at the LGBT community). So I can see how this makes people continue to think they aren't wanted. 

But here's the other part of all of this: it is our job in this play to be pissed off. Numbers 1-3 rely on as much of the left being pissed off about this pick for a meaningless post as possible. So, fuck Warren. And dammit Obama, why did you pick someone so bad that I'm considering digging through the Urban Dictionary to find an insult scathing enough to fit him. You should have picked someone who didn't matter at all.

* People keep calling this fucktard "Reverend" Warren. Fuck that. Reverend means "worthy of reverence." Why do we still use that term for idiots who clearly aren't worthy of reverence? Tell ya what, if people will agree to refer to people who work in education as "The Brilliant Jon Harmon," for example, perhaps I'll start calling these jerks "Reverends."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 12/15

I haven't done one of these recaps since Friday, but it doesn't look like I shared too much over the weekend, so this shouldn't be too huge.

Science and Medicine:
Software and the Internets:
Politics:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas with Woodrow Wilson

I just learned something interesting from last night's Rachel Maddow Show

The election of 1916 was very close. It took several days to figure out whether Democratic incumbent Woodrow Wilson had won, or if he'd lost to Republican Charles Evan Hughes. During this period of doubt, Wilson sent a letter to his Secretary of State, informing him of the following:
  • If Hughes won, Wilson would immediately name Hughes as his Secretary of State, and push through his confirmation.
  • Wilson and his VP, Thomas R. Marshall, would immediately resign.
  • Being third in line, Hughes would immediately become President, cutting out the lame duck phase.
Bush should really, really consider this. I want my bike.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 12/12

I skipped yesterday, so there will probably be quite a few shared items here. So, without further ado...

Hardware:
Astronomy:
Politics:
Science:
Zombies:
  • Holy crap, it's Zombie Friday again already! The third one is hilarious. The first is pretty funny, but just wrong. The second is awesome but I didn't re-watch 'cuz I'd already seen, and the fourth is way too long.
Software and the Internets:
As always, comment on these or any other shared items (or items you'd like to share with the rest of us) below.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interlude: Trivia at Pluckers

I've long been a trivia addict. In the last few months, some friends and I have started attended pub quiz trivia at Pluckers Wing Bar, a local Austin wing chain/bar. The trivia is normal pub quiz rules, in this case a $50 gift card for the first place team after 8 rounds of 10-12 questions each, each round with a theme (TV, TV theme songs, movies, sports, etc).

However, Pluckers has a special way to break a tie: the wing-off, with a member of each tied team racing to eat five of their "Fire in the Hole" wings. I tried a batch early in the night to see if I'd be up for it, but decided they were the kind of thing you want to take slow.

My teammate Phil was up for the challenge when we tied, though. Here he is gloving up to begin the wing-off, already looking forward to the beer he'll drink triumphantly when he wins.

Pluckers serves these extraordinarily hot wings drowned under the sauce. Clearly they didn't pay attention during Saturday morning cartoons when they were a kid. I believe this stuff qualifies as "goop."

Phil attacked the wings with style. He chose to go one-handed when one of his opponent's gloves ripped.

Unfortunately, his opponent used two hands, and kicked Phil's ass... winning the third-place $15 that we had tied for.

Phil finished the wings anyway, and came to regret it. He didn't even finish the beer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 12/10

I'm sleepy, but that doesn't mean I won't get today's shared Google Reader items out of the way before drifting off to early sleep.

Austin:
  • Yesterday it hit 80 during the day in Austin, then snowed at night:
  • In other Austin news, a teacher in Austin sent an angry letter to a charity that gives away Linux laptops, chiding the charity for fraudulently telling children the software was free, when "No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful." For those who aren't sure, yes, Linux and other free and open-source software really is free. The teacher is an idiot. Also, Ubuntu is awesome and way easier to use than Windows, and I really need to start using it on more than just my backup desktop.
Technology:
The Internets:
  • Google has published it's year-end zeitgeist round-up. My personal favorite is the large number of international top-tens which include "google" as a search term on google.
  • This image "evolution" system is fairly cool, but, after running it for a bit, I found it did what the weak version I wrote several years ago in Javascript did: it bloats and bloats, and starts to take over your memory. I'm still hoping to borrow from their idea (which, in turn, borrows from someone else's idea) to get my version up soonish, but I still think Flash would be a much faster way to go.
Politics:
That's it for today. As always, comment below!

Coming tomorrow: A blog about something else, with photos!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 12/9

Holy crap, I haven't done this since last Thursday. These are my favorite Google Reader shared items in that timespan.

Zombies:
Politics:
Science:
  • This article was entitled "Scientists Achive Mental Body-Swapping," but it's about getting people to essentially think as if they're in another body. It's not nearly as sci-fi cool as I thought it must not possibly be.
Technology:
  • The summary of this article about Hawaii's plan for a state-wide electric car network on Slashdot annoyed me. An electric car grid encourages/allows more efficient power generation; it takes the power generation step out of the car, so you can do whatever it takes to make the power generation clean on a statewide basis. It doesn't rule out wind and solar, it just puts that step in a centralized place.
  • I'm very annoyed that I didn't hear about/see the 3D NFL broadcast.
Biology:
  • There's some evidence that the herpes simplex virus (the virus that causes cold sores, among other things) causes Alzheimer's. It would be awesome if this pans out and leads to treatment and/or a cure.
Atheism:
  • Techskeptic (via Pharyngula) has a list of Atheist/secular charities. I've often wanted something like this myself, so it's nice that someone else compiled it for me.
The Internets and other Computeriness:
Programming (but the first one is awesome, Libby):
  • This evolutionary algorithm to create the Mona Lisa is stunningly amazingly awesome. It dovetails with something I've wanted to do, and might inspire me to finally get that project moving.
  • Google has announced Google native client, which promises to put code written for x86 processors onto the web. That's very, very cool, and opens up all kinds of possibilities.
Finally, uncategorized, I shared this old video of "Keeping the Dream Alive" by Munchener Freiheit (huh, I always thought the band was just "Freiheit"), because I missed it and randomly searched to see if it was on YouTube... and it was. Enjoy. Or, ya know, don't, if you don't like cheesy music. In any case, comment below.



Saturday, December 06, 2008

Blogless

No blog today, probably no blog tomorrow. Too much to catch up on.

Instead... puppies!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 12/4

It's time to play catch-up on my Google Reader Shared Items.

Technology:
Computers and the Internets:
  • I think this "friend connect" thing is neat. I haven't decided for sure yet, though.
  • A Windows download lets you search your photos by filters like "snow" or "yellow." I wish someone would make something like this for online books and such. It'd let you find a page of an electronic book the same way you remember/scan for a page in a print (text)book.
Politics:
Science:
As always, comment about these or anything else below.

12/3/2008ish

No blog today. Or is there??

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 12/2

Another day, another couple dozen shared Google Reader items. Here are my favorites.

The Internets:
  • Microsoft's Live image search now lets you find images similar to other images. That's potentially quite useful.
  • A new browser-based OS is on the way. I like. I think we're at the point that computers could be ubiquitous; you should have a computer or three in your kitchen for checking recipes, for example, and one by your window for things like identifying birds in your feeder. Super-light-weight OSes (geared toward super-low-power computers) are a big step in that direction.
  • Apple now recommends that Mac users install antivirus software. I have to congratulate Apple. That means they're finally getting popular enough that people bother writing viruses for them. It's sad that they can't claim that they're more secure anymore just because nobody bothered to write viruses before, but that's the price of popularity.
Education?:
Politics:
Those are the highlights from today. As always, comment below.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 12/1

I'm going to try to get back up to daily (or more) posts, at least 'til Newtonmas or so. So, without further ado, here are today's shared Google Reader items.

Life:
The Internets:
Biology:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shared Items through morning of 11/29

I haven't had much to share lately. Here are a few:
  • A Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in New York. I've never understood why people would want to go out shopping on a day that's so crazy that it's generally known as Black Friday, just to save a few bucks. It just isn't worth it. This has me even more dumbfounded than usual.
  • Scientists have found the mechanism for how resveratrol slows aging, and have demonstrated that it also works in mice. This could be huge. In the meantime, drink some wine and/or grape juice. Wow, we really loved run-on sentences when we wrote that thing (I can't remember whether I wrote it or edited it, but it was one of the first things I worked on at my current job).
  • Foundation movies are coming! It'll be interesting to see if they pull them off. If I'm remembering the right book in the series, Foundation spans hundreds of years (the series certainly does). That's a tricky series to make.
Hopefully that's enough to let everyone know that I'm still alive.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Barack Obama is Center-Right... nudge nudge, wink wink

There's a meme going around that Obama's policies are surprisingly center-right, supposedly to the consternation of those of us who supported him. At first my reaction was to resist that, since, ya know, it's BS. But I realized I'd rather embrace it. Here's why.

As far as I've ever been able to tell (and I have no good data to back this up, mostly because I don't feel like spending a lot of time researching this post), Americans tend to gravitate to the center without necessarily knowing what that means. That might be just as unfair as the Obama=center-right meme, but it feels true. I even thought I was moderate until I started to really learn what words like "liberal," "conservative," (politically) "left," and (politically) "right" meant.

So, what the heck, let's call Obama center-right. Closing Gitmo? Fine, let's call that a center-right position, and pretend that the real centrist position is fixing the FISA courts (nudge nudge, wink wink). Putting people to work through a public works program that simultaneously repairs our infrastruture? Sure, what the heck, that's a center-right position. Raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment, that's the real centrist position.

What do you think, would that work?

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 11/26

I skipped yesterday, so here are some shared items from the last couple days. I'm going to try to limit the ones I post to my very favorites, so check my shared items for the rest if you're interested.

Technology:
Atheism:
Politics:
The Internets:
That'll do it for today. Comment on these or any other shared items (or, really, whatever) below.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No Blog

I'm dog-proofing. I'll cover shared items tomorrow night. Feel free to comment here if you're itching.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 11/24

Oops, I almost forgot to post today. Here are today's shared Google Reader items.

Miscellaneous:
  • I don't often share the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, but I read everything they post, because grammar mistakes make me point and laugh. When said mistakes occur on the sign for an elementary school (not even, semi-excusably, on the part that changes; no, this is on the permanent part), I have to share it.
  • This isn't a shared item, but I'm watching Rachel Maddow without a DVR buffer since the Daily Show and Colbert were repeats, and I just saw a commercial for some hair-removal device. If you act now, you get a smaller one for "lips, chin, and sensitive areas." Do you really want to use the same hair-removal device on your lips, chin, and "sensitive areas?"
Atheism:
Politics:
  • Palin 2012! No, seriously, there are still people who want to get Palin on the ticket in 2012. I may have to give them money.
  • Somehow it surprised me that Biden was replaced in the Senate by his former chief-of-staff, rather than by his son, Beau. Apparently everyone knew this was going to happen; that the chief-of-staff is holding the seat for 2 years presumably to allow Beau to run for it when he gets back from Iraq/finishes his term as Delaware Attorney General. How did I miss that?
  • Bush has begun his end-of-term pardons. I shared this mostly for this sentence (emphasis mine): "Those issued reprieves had been found guilty of mostly garden-variety offenses, like Leslie O. Collier, who was issued a pardon for a 1996 conviction for the unauthorized use of a pesticide in killing bald eagles.
Science:
  • A study has shown that napping boosts "sophisticated memory." I don't really have anything to add to that, except that it's awesome news; I'm not being lazy, I'm just pumping up my memory. Oh, and in the other story linked from that page, it says not to watch TV and/or read stuff off of a monitor just before going to bed. So, of course, I'm blogging and watching MSNBC before heading to bed. Oops.
  • We're going to Jupiter in 2011, but not Europa. Why not Europa?? We know Europa is probably the best bet for finding life in the solar system. I can't imagine a bigger scientific find than extraterrestrial life. Why aren't we checking the place that we think offers the best chance of finding life??? To answer my own question, I know they're terrified that they won't properly sterilize the mission, and we'll find life only to have it killed off by bacteria on the probe. Well, that and we need to send some sort of drilling machine if we do it, because it'd have to go through tons of ice to get to the possible ocean. But we should at least plan to spin any probe that goes to Jupiter over to Europa to help us map that moon out for a future mission.
Technology?
That's it today. Comment below.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 11/22

I have people coming over at 7 for Rock Band and football (go OU!), but right now it's the calm before the storm. So, without further ado, here are today's shared Google Reader items.

Politics:
  • I choose to read this url as "22 asses s." David E. Sanger of the NY Times editorial page took a break from trying to stir up a war with Iran to point out that picking competent people like Hillary (State) and Geithner (Treasury) means Obama plans to govern from the center-right. While ready the rightwing nuts trying to claim (now) that Obama is center-right, after claiming throughout the campaign that he was dangerously liberal (or even Marxist), is annoying, it's also hilarious.
  • 538 has an argument for why Obama should strike down "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" right away (replacing it with "Don't give a shit, you morons"). I agree. The part he leaves out, though, is that Obama should do things like this because it's the right thing to do.
Science:
Food:
  • [Most recent; this tag is just so I can figure out where I left off, now that I'm breaking things up into categories] Lifehacker links to a story about how to make hot sauce (Tabasco-ish stuff, not salsa). The article itself is nice, but the early comments have some great tips, as well.
That's it today. Comment below!

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Cabinet Picks

Since Obama picked the two people I endorsed yesterday, I guess I should go ahead and finish picking. Let's see how I do! Let me know in the comments if I've missed any confirmations/strong rumors of positions being filled already, or, really, even weak rumors.

Already filled, or strongly rumored:
  • Secretary of State: Hillary Clinton. I approve.
  • Secretary of the Treasury: Timothy F. Geithner. I approve.
  • Attorney General: Eric Holder, Jr. I strongly approve. He has lots of background in anti-corruption trials. This is a very, very interesting pick, and likely made Bush's pardon list longer.
  • Secretary of Commerce: Bill Richardson. I approve, although I wouldn't have picked him specifically for this spot.
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services: Tom Daschle. I approve.
  • Secretary of Homeland Security: Janet Napolitano. I don't know enough about her, but it sounds like she's a good fit.
"Cabinet-level" positions (attend Cabinet meetings, but not Secretaries):
  • Vice President of the United States: Joe Biden. I called it in August 2007 when Biden defended Obama at a debate, but somehow people thought Biden had been harsh on Obama in debates. I don't get it. Anyhoo, I approve.
  • White House Chief of Staff: Rham Emmanuel. I strongly approve; it shows Obama plans to get things done through Congress, not through signing statements.
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget: Peter Orszag. Krugman likes the pick, that's good enough for me.

Predictions/Preferences:
  • Secretary of Defense: Probably will remain Gates until we get out of Iraq, or move strongly in that direction. I wouldn't be surprised if he's replaced with Chuck Hagel eventually, though, if Hagel doesn't fill any other roles.
  • Secretary of the Interior: Raul Grijalva would be an interesting choice, mostly because either Napolitano or her replacement would get to name his replacement in the house.
  • Secretary of Agriculture: HuffPo says Vilsack. No thanks. Let's get a SecAg who won't be all about corn ethanol. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin intrigues me, but I'm not sure why I'm hearing Ag for her; it sounds like she needs a position that lets her be heard by the public. If this position is what it takes to get her going, though, it sounds to me like she's good at just about everything she tries to do, so sure.
  • Secretary of Labor: The only name I've seen other than Granholm (see Energy, below) is Dennis Archer. I don't really know much about him, but in general a Labor Secretary from Michigan just makes sense to me. Growing up the son of an autoworker can do that to you.
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: The only name I've seen is Valerie Jarrett. She seems like a long-shot to me, but I can't find or think of anyone else. What, exactly, does HUD do?
  • Secretary of Transportation: I expect this to be someone who has been vocal, preferably before the Minnesota bridge collapse but definitely since, about infrastructure development. I don't have a name yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was someone higher up than you'd normally see taking this appointment, a governor or a powerful member of Congress. Edited to add: Oh, I like Earl Blumenauer as a pick. Apparently he's big on public transportation and biking. 'Twould be interesting in SecTrans.
  • Secretary of Energy: Jennifer Granholm (current Governor of Michigan). I had her picked for Labor, but my sister pointed out that she'd been talked about for Energy, and I definitely prefer that. Bringing her in basically makes this the Secretary of Making Detroit Work on Fuel Efficiency. Plus it gets a guy from (but not born in) my hometown into the Governor's seat in Michigan.
  • Secretary of Education: Colin Powell. I've heard rumors of this, or I never would have thought of it, but from what I can tell he'd be a great fit. And I don't only think that because he advocates student use of new technologies. Only mostly because of that.
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs: This could be what Hagel is given, at least for a year or two before moving to Defense. I'm not sure Kerry would accept it, or I'd think he'd be likely.
"Cabinet-level" positions:
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Please, please, please don't pick Bobby Kennedy, Jr. He's an anti-science buffoon. I wish Gore would accept this one. Since he says he won't, I'm afraid Kennedy will probably get the job. Edited to add: I just read Lincoln Chafee as a maybe. I like.
  • Director of the National Drug Control Policy: No idea. This is cabinet-level? Really? I expect this one to be someone with treatment cred, other than that who knows.
  • United States Trade Representative: Again, this is cabinet-level? Isn't this kinda Commerce? Again, no clue.
I'll try to solidify my picks as I hear more rumblings and can get a bit better informed. But something struck me working on this: there are multiple articles about virtually every position, and I've heard about quite a few of them. Other than talk of Powell as SecState for Bush, I don't remember hearing anything. It's exciting that we're paying so much attention this time; it'll be hard for a craptastic pick to sneak through (except Kennedy, because people don't realize/accept that he's a dolt).

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 11/21

I liked yesterday's experiment with tagging the blocks, so here are my nicely categorized shared Google Reader items:

Entertainment:
  • Being down-in-the-dumps in the demo, the demise of Daisies was destined. Dammit, dimwits! Don't Dr. Seussian stories scripted semi-seriously stand-up to your "standards?"
Politics:
Technology:
Atheism:
  • Apparently the decline of the American economy is due to atheism. Or at least an idiot thinks so. PZ says it all better than I can, with a great icon for the quote.
Science:
Internet:
That's it today. Chances are good I'll miss tomorrow, and possibly Sunday as well, but the feeds are slow on weekends anyway so hopefully there won't be too much to catch up on Monday. Comment away to convince me to finish making my layout awesome.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In Which I Endorse Hillary for Secretary of State

Many of you probably know that I was not only pro-Obama during the primary and election, but I was anti-Hillary. Mainly this was because Hillary had showed in the past that she was a big supporter of the imperial presidency, from asserting executive privilege as First Lady to, darnit I can't find the quote right now, but mixed up in the whole "vast right-wing conspiracy" thing was an assertion that she didn't think they should be able to prosecute a sitting President. With the raping that Bush has given the Constitutional separation of powers, I didn't think Hillary was a good choice for our next President. It seemed very likely to me that she would not only keep the extra power that Bush had claimed for himself, but expand it. Obama, on the other hand, seemed like he might actually restore the Presidency to its Constitutional bounds, and still seems to be on that path.

But today I realized something important. If Hillary runs in 2016 (assuming both that Obama is a good President and that he is re-elected in 2012), she'll be coming into a White House that just went through restoring those bounds. She would be significantly restrained in her ability to re-assert the imperial Presidency; she'd have to undo what her Democratic predecessor had just worked so hard to do.

Since that was the only thing I didn't like about Hillary, even if it was a huge thing in my mind, eliminating that option would make her a great potential President. Which leads me to my endorsement of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State.

The one and only thing Republicans ever gain any traction on in Presidential campaigns is foreign policy. The Republicans know what they're talking about for foreign policy, people seem to think, and the Democrats do not. If she stays in as Secretary of State for somewhere close to 8 years (a surprisingly rare feat; the average shelf-life of a Secretary of State is just over 3 years, and only 14 of 66 have served more than 4 years, one of those being Powell by 6 days), she'll have more foreign policy experience than any conceivable opponent. Of course, I think there is a distinct possibility that she'll be Obama's running mate in 2012, but that would just shore up her experience even more.

In case you're wondering, the last time we had two consecutive, full-term, Democratic Presidents was, well, technically 1809-1825 (Madison and Monroe, Democratic-Republicans), although you could probably count 1933-1953 as close enough. Something similar to either of those spans would be just fine with me, minus, ya know, the near-nation-ending wars.

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 11/20

I'm going to try something new in my shared items today, mostly to allow my sister to skip the "Programming" block. Let me know what you think.

Programming:
Politics:
Science:
As always, comment on these or other shared items (or, really, anything you want) below.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blog Edit in Progress

I have to run off for trivia, but I'm starting to update the look. Thoughts? I'll probably change things far more drastically, but at least I have a 0.1beta version of the header done...

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 11/19

Hey, it's tomorrow already! That means it's time for more of my shared Google Reader items:
That's it for now. As always, comment on these or any other shared items below. Or, ya know, really anything. I'm not picky.

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 11/18, part II

Holy crap, I cleared my Google Reader list! I shared another half dozen or so stories in doing so, though, so let's go ahead and get those ones posted, too:
  • Wired has a piece on why Apple won't ever allow Flash on the iPhone, and their reasoning is sound. In short: allowing Flash would remove Apple's control of apps, since there are already a bazillion apps in Flash and more could easily follow, posted out there on the "real internet" for iPhone users to access without downloading them from the store.
  • I've wanted a Roomba for a while, mostly because I want to own a robot, and it couldn't hurt. But now, apparently, I also need a cat:
  • Burnt Orange Report dug up Obama's announcement from 1/16/2007 that he was going to form an exploratory committee and think about maybe running for President. That got me wondering, so I dug up the text of Bush's announcement on 3/7/1999. It's interesting to compare what Bush said back then to how things turned out. I'll have to remember to virtuablog or whatever we're calling it in 8 years, comparing Obama's speech to how things turned out. He's done a good job so far of sticking with the same message, but who knows what might happen over the next 8 years. I mean, who other than James Dobson.
  • Indecision 2008 over at Comedy Central has discovered Time magazine's pressing question for this year: Who will be Time Magazine's Barack Obama of the Year?
  • Finally, this photo that PZ Myers found at Scientific American is simply stunning. Number 15 is also pretty cool, but I share PZ's enthusiasm for #4.

Edited to add: This was my 42nd post this year. Arrrrrr!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Biggest Month Yet!

I hadn't noticed that I passed my one-month record (set last month, with 15 posts) on Friday. Woot! Thanks for the inspiration to post my shared stuff for comments, Jon and Jeff! Suck it, October me!

Today's Shared Google Reader Items, 11/18

I'm back in Austin. Well, I technically have been for over 24 hours now, but now I'm back and nearly settled back in. I still have 103 105 107 unread items in my Google Reader (which gives me an idea what those of you who are on my shared list go through), but I'm catching up. I think. Anyhoo, here are the shared items from the last few days:
  • I haven't had a chance to use Lifehacker's Complete Guide to Speeding Up Your PC's Startup yet, but I'm looking forward to doing so. Mmmm, fast boots.
  • Barack released his first YouTube weekly address. Just about everything about that sentence makes me smile.
  • According to a study linked on Slashdot, unhappy people watch more TV. I've been happier overlapping with the time that I've watched less TV, but I can't figure out which came first.
  • I can't wait to try my hand at making gummy candies. If that turns out well, I might cut out TV entirely.
  • I grabbed this guide to liberating yourself from old email addresses mostly for McCarron (Yahoo mail as a primary? Seriously?? Do you like spam??), but I think I'll also use it to get rid of my own extras.
  • This story about antimatter creation made me smile a lot. In a science fiction novel I just finished, a major plot point involved production of anti-matter. I'm pretty sure this discovery puts us ahead of where the author saw us in 2020.
  • This video of the development of sand dollars linked at Pharyngula is amazing.
  • Lieberman is still a "Democrat." Dammit. I almost would have prefered us having no chance at a filibuster-proof Senate. Now Lieberman gets to continue being more important than he should be.
  • Speaking of filibuster-proof Senate chances, Ted "Series of Tubes" Stevens has lost. Alaska didn't quite elect a convicted felon to the Senate. They just came very close. Of course, some of the outrage of that is silly. John Ashcroft lost a Senate race to a dead man, which I'm pretty sure makes you even more clearly inelligible for the Senate than being a convicted felon. I'm hoping at least some of the people voting for Stevens in Alaska were really voting for "whoever Caribou Barbie appoints to replace Stevens." Hmm, wait. I guess voting for the felon on purpose might be better.
  • Microsoft is going to offer free anti-virus software starting late next year. This should be interesting. I agree with the idea in principle; having antivirus software on all PCs would cut down drastically on the spread of viruses. On the other hand, this pretty much spells the end of other antivirus program makers, and I can't imagine MS's free system will be very good without competition. My solution: people should start programming more viruses for Mac, to keep those other companies active.
  • Firefox 3.1 is going to have tab tearing, a feature that I love on Google Chrome. I never noticed that it was missing in Firefox until I got in the habit of tearing off tabs in Chrome whenever I need to see things side-by-side, such as when I'm copying links from my shared items to my blog. If they can make 3.1 run for a whole afternoon without crashing, I might finally switch back.
That'll do it for today. Now off to work on some more of those unread items. As always, comment below so I know you're there!