Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Speaker of the House now blogsl
The Speaker of the US House of Representatives now has a blog:
"This is Denny Hastert and welcome to my blog. This is new to me. I can’t say I’m much of a techie. I guess you could say my office is teaching the old guy new tricks. But I’m excited. This is the future. And it is a new way for us to get our message out... [more]"
Yes, Denny, this is
the future, and I note, that if you'd enable comments on your blog - it would be a good way for the rest of us that you supposedly represent - to get our message IN
RSS would be nice, too.
Greg and Cherie meet Wilma
Greg and Cherie
had planned to go to the Florida Keys this week, but are holed up near Miami... wednesday's report:
Just wanted to send a note out to everyone about the hurricane. Cherie, I and Brian flew into Miami on Sunday, the day before Wilma struck south Florida. We stayed with Patrick and Patsy in Broward county. The hurricane was a bit stronger than the typical hurricane we expect in South Florida and did quite a number on things in this corner of the country. After it passed we spent Monday afternoon pulling Scirocco [greg's boat] off the rocks in Miami, and pumping out the seawater that was a few inches above the floor-boards. The winds broke the mooring lines (not sure if it was the result of another boat dragging into us or not) and somehow a porthole on the stern got busted in and the boat took quite a bit of water. Luckily the manual pump cleared all the water out and the motor fired up and we were able to return the boat to the dock. Scirocco should be alright after a thorough rinsing out with fresh water and a drying out of everything inside.
98% of the residents of Broward and Dade counties (Ft Lauderdale & Miami) do not currently have power, and power is expected to take 1-4 weeks to restore to these areas. West Palm to my understanding is not much better, and Monroe county (the Florida keys) is in bad shape as well. No electricity means things like water, gas, groceries, or anything else you can think of are only available the very few places there are generators. For example, out of the 20,000 traffic lights in Dade (Miami) only 18 are functioning.
Since Monday though this morning we stuck it out at Patrick & Patsy's in Broward. Supplies have been sporadic. An attempt made yesterday to pick up ice and water at a designated distribution point was thwarted by a screw-up at the county's main distribution point; the ice/water trucks never showed up! Meanwhile Cherie and I waited in a gas line for three hours, moving hardly 10 car lengths. We counted up the cars and multiplied by the number of minutes per car and figured out we had 10 to 20 hours to wait for fuel. So we went home empty-handed.
(Land line) Phone service has worked on and off over the last few days and we were able to get in touch with our friend Lisa, who was to meet us in Key West. She was able to drive down from Vero Beach and pick us up to bring us north, where things are a bit more normal. Things in the Keys are still up in the air. US1 to the keys is open, but a third of the homes in the keys are still flooded.
So that's the update! We are currently in Vero Beach, which has normal services. Obviously our original plans are a bit up in the air right now. We are all healthy, and luckily there was very few injuries due to the hurricane.
Sigh. I've noted recently that my number of incoming links has fallen to an all time low. I guess I have to start writing about sex and politics
Voting Fraud - Are you paranoid enough yet?
I have been reading google news
's long list of largely positive reports about the Iraqi election. (600+ articles) I have been re-training myself to ask questions, to think more critically, so I did a google news search for voter fraud on the same subject
. 1200+ articles. I don't know what algorithm google news' main pages uses, but I'm beginning to be certain it can be affected by spin control.
Along the way, found two Brad Blogs on the security of california's voting machines...
, with a nice podcast, and an old post on Diebold
and a very, very long list of posts on the same topic in the US.
I was proud, fiercely proud, last week, when Estonia (where my family came from originally) conducted the first ever internet election, on software written on Linux
A totally open and fully audited voting mechanism is a requirement for democracy to flourish. I don't know if Iraq had that, and I don't know if americans do, either
The GAO has released a report on the flaws of our voting machines and systems. Read it
Cleaning up the conversation
Blogger has finally instituted a means of preventing blog spam via the classic "type in the characters of this picture" method. I like it, except that I would prefer not to have to type it in when writing drafts, just on the final post.
I had been thinking seriously about putting adwords on my blog in recent weeks, in part because I'd like to be able to justify to myself the effort required to write bigger pieces... when I discovered that many of my old entries had 10 to 15 entries of blog spam on them. Yuck! How am I going to clean all this up? I hope there's a bulk comment editor in the works....
And do I really want to add to the noise level on the net?
Naw, I'm just going to clean this up and remain ad-free for a while. I wouldn't mind doing some sort of combination scheme - make a micropayment and get no ads, don't and get ads, but I don't know how to make blogger do that. (I've also long thought about getting off of blogger, too, but I don't have time... highest on my list is getting dragon dictate working again so I can do larger pieces more effectively)
Another idea - commercializing and leveraging the power of a blogroll association - where there is one login across a huge number of bloggers - would perhaps make the micropayment idea a reality.
Wilma heads for the gulf coast
My parents are based on the gulf coast and are fleeing in-land. I asked my mom, "OK, now which do you prefer, earthquakes or hurricanes?" She replied: "At least there is plenty of warning for hurricanes!".
I still wish there was better hurricane prediction software, stuff that was so good as to be able to predict the exact location of the hit more than a few hours in advance.Some friends of mine are going to the keys
for a big festival. Hope they don't get rained out. They are going prepared however - see pic (left)!
I wish I had time to take off for a big festival, but after spending a week in conferences I have a lot of work to do at work, and my tree-laden property has dumped an entire truck's worth of leaves on the driveway in the last month, so I have to spend today digging out from Fall's fall.
Far better to dig out from fall than a hurricane, though, I believe. Here's hoping the damage is minimal!
I've watched the overall reaction to Harriet Miers with some amusement. According to the mainstream media this morning, it's looking doubtful she'll be confirmed
- but I'm always dubious of the MSM. It always comes down to a vote sooner or later.
Two paranoid thoughts struck me first about her nomination.
1) Someone so obviously a crony and so obviously unqualified for the position on the court must have been nominated as a means to distract the media and the public from something else
I tried to pay extra attention to the other news stories of the day - am I the only one who noticed that the broadcast of Saddam's trial was 20 minute delayed (so that, presumably, anything he said that offended the US, or could incite the Arabic world, could be cut).
Not one American media outlet I could find documented the differences between the broadcasted tape and the reality of the trial. I got kind of weirded out, actually, when the first facts I got from google news
about the delay were from news sources in China
and in Yemen
I think justice would best be served in all cases by a fair and speedy trial - and, if broadcast, an uncensored one. It reeks of soviet-style oppression and of show trials for our supposedly open democracy to ever do otherwise.
2) The most important disqualification for Miers was not that her opinions on Roe vs Wade were unknown, but that she had spent her entire life mired in corporate law
. The Supreme Court is the last recourse for persons to face down injustice
... and I regard the change in American law that gave corporations the legal rights of people
to be seriously flawed. Putting a corporate representative in the supreme court bothers me at fundamentally deep level.
So I'm going to digress off the topic of her nomination for a while, and trust that the rest of the democratic process still works, even in what has largely been a rubber-stamp congress, and talk about the problems of corporatism.
... the British colonies were corporations chartered by the king and given the right to govern—such as the Virginia Corporation and the Massachusetts Bay Company—and that British law forced the colonists to trade under disadvantageous terms with the East India Company, the mother of all British crown corporations. So the American Revolution overthrew not only King George III's sovereignty over the colonies but also the power of the first huge corporations, and people of the era understood this. The distrust of corporations ran so deep that Thomas Jefferson proposed, unsuccessfully, that freedom from monopolies be included in the Bill of Rights. He later wrote, "I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
In Miers we have the near-certainty of a justice that has bought completely into the legal fiction that corporations are people under the 14th amendment. If, in her record, was some balance of representation between the rights of corporations and rights of people, maybe even a youthful indulgence or two in ambulance chasing, I'd be more inclined to trust her sense of balancing the scales of justice.