September 2008 Archives

Crashing Back To Earth

Via Mark Hurst, a very good way to understand how the prices of American homes have changed over the last century.

Great post from Bruce Schneier on airport security.

There are two classes of contraband at airport security checkpoints: the class that will get you in trouble if you try to bring it on an airplane, and the class that will cheerily be taken away from you if you try to bring it on an airplane. This difference is important: Making security screeners confiscate anything from that second class is a waste of time. All it does is harm innocents; it doesn't stop terrorists at all.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Once again, The Big Picture is very, very good.

Read My Lips: No New Taxes

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At a loss for words, really.

The Bush administration asked Congress on Saturday for the power to buy $700 billion in toxic assets clogging the financial system and threatening the economy as negotiations began on the largest bailout since the Great Depression.

Star Tribune

This is the party of accountability, right? The party that treats any candidate who talks about raising taxes as though they're in favor of puppy and/or kittenicide? The party, if my horrible medium-term memory serves, entered office in 2000 with a budget surplus, all the while bemoaning the evils of "tax and spend" liberals?

Can't wait for somebody on the "conservative" side of the aisle to have the courage to acknowledge that our government can't keep spending money we don't have, or to question the value of building up the infrastructure of other countries while ours slowly crumbles. I won't hold my breath, though. I'm sure this crisis is all the fault of the Clinton administration, anyway.

The Best of the Worst

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io9 brings us a respectable list of twenty so-bad-you-love-them movies. And, yes, I own at least a couple of these. Not saying which ones, but Doogie Howser comes to mind.

Congress Finally Takes Bi-Partisan Action

Fantastic news for Jenny:
WASHINGTON--Overturning a law that has been in place for 24 years, Congress approved a temporary repeal of the Minimum Drinking Age Act Wednesday upon learning that Benjamin Harrison High School student Jenny Larsen is celebrating her 17th birthday with an unsupervised party at which attendees are expecting to consume alcohol.

H.R. 874, more commonly known as the Jenny's Turning 17!!! Bill, will go into effect Friday, Sept. 19, 2008, as soon as Jenny's parents leave for their weekend trip to Vermont. Until the bill expires on Sunday afternoon, it will be legal for any American aged 17 or older--or 16 if they have a birthday coming up--to consume alcohol within the confines of 128 Longfellow Rd.

"Our system of laws is not inflexible, and at times it is necessary to make adjustments to our federal statutes to more adequately serve the interests of the American people," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said. "It is therefore the Senate's opinion that Jenny only turns 17 once, and that she deserves to have a party that is both totally awesome and permitted under United States statutory law."

The Onion
The whole thing is hilarious. I love the dig at Norm ("A proposed rider by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) to secure invites for himself and two of his friends was defeated in committee.").

Near Dark

While killing time at the Atlanta airport this afternoon, I had a chance to revisit a favorite vampire movie from the late eighties: Near Dark. Bonus points for starring a young Nathan Petrelli, plus one of my favorite Bill Paxton characters after Hudson and Chet.

Opening Soon

There's a new bridge opening over the Mississippi River early tomorrow morning, replacing one that collapsed last summer. Live camera footage here.

Picturing Devastation

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Amazing photos of Ike from The Big Picture. Number eleven. Wow.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Even though Ike is "only" a category two hurricane, it sounds like it has every opportunity to be very destructive, primarily due to the insane size of this storm.


The NHC warns of a significant and very dangerous storm surge of up to 20 feet could occur near and to the east of where Ike's center of circulation makes landfall. A surge of 25 feet could occur at the heads of the bays.

[...]

Along with the surge comes powerful, damaging winds. Hurricane-force winds extend 120 miles from the center while tropical storm-force winds extend and astounding 275 miles from the center.

Because of this massive size, it is very important to emphasize that tropical storm and hurricane conditions will be felt well before Ike's center of circulation makes landfall. Conditions will deteriorate along the Texas coast and the southwestern Louisiana coast by this afternoon.

Preparations to protect life and property should be completed by this point but there is still some time to evacuate.

Weather.com


Red, White, and Blue

flag_and_water.jpg

We didn't see any whales late last month, and it was overcast most of the time, but I like how this photo turned out -- sun, water, and a fortuitous flap of the flag from the back of the boat.

Seven Years Ago

Past, present, and future images from The Big Picture.

Karate Kid, Part 2

So, yeah, this would be one of those rare times that I scooped Oprah by about a year.

Somehow, though, I suspect she reaches a somewhat wider audience than yours truly. Video courtesy BWE.

This Political Season

Very much looking forward to the next couple of months.

Out of Memory

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Another in an ongoing series of error messages that continue to alternately irritate and amuse me. This one appeared, seemingly at random, after I came back to my desk after a meeting.

out_of_memory.jpg

Hard To Believe, But True

Heard this on the radio this morning: there were only twenty-four episodes in the original run of The Jetsons.

Something You Don't See Every Day

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Driving back home after some errands on Saturday, I was passed by a Bentley.

bentley.jpg

Colors don't do this justice, though -- it was at least several shades paler. Somewhere between lime and puke green. Can't imagine spending that much money on a car in the first place, let alone painting it such a hideous color.

Wildflowers

Best part about hiking Mt. Rainier in late summer has to be the abundance of flowers.

wildflowers.jpg

New Things

Might pick up the Stephenson book at a local bookstore, but the rest will likely need to wait for another day.

Anathem

The Next Avengers

Spore

Good Advice

Nobody needs to see your lousy photos.

I had a photography teacher (Richard Stromberg at The Chicago Photography Center) tell me once that if you get one good shot on a roll of 36, you were doing good. That's the ratio: 36:1. When you edit ruthlessly like that, you come out with great results. People think you're better than you are. It's not that you became a brilliant photographer, it's just that you started exercising taste and restraint.

It's one of the biggest challenges in the digital age: When you can bombard people with everything, it's tempting to do so. That's why taste, restraint, and editing are so important. Sometimes it's about throwing out the 35 bad shots and revelling in the one great shot.

Signal vs. Noise

With the freedom of digital photography, I sometimes feel lucky if I get one great shot out of a hundred. Makes it all the more frustrating, then, to still look through a series of photos and realize that there's not a single good one in the lot -- everything is underexposed, or out of focus, or any number of countless amateur mistakes that continue to ruin my photos now and then.

Special Reserve

So it turns out you can buy coffee at the original Starbucks. Who knew?

special_reserve.jpg

Prepared Much?

Ouch. Caught this on TPM last night after McCain's speech, and thought it was a fairly humorous snafu regarding the unflattering green screen. Short version: not all "Walter Reeds" are medical hospitals.

walter_reed.jpg

Longer versions here and here.

Designing a Better Ballot

Wired Magazine took a stab at something similar a few years back, where they suggested an ATM-like voting interface, including a nice "paper trail" that's all but essential for any decent electronic voting system. But I also very much like the ideas in this NYT article from last week.

ballot.png

And they don't even call out the problem on the sample ballot where the ovals in the first column appear very close to the ovals in the second column, and people might be inclined to fill in the wrong blanks. But the improvements are spot-on, especially when it comes to the referendums. What a striking "before and after."

Voting should be dead simple. It's worth it to spend a little time to make sure that's the case, instead of just doing things the same way as they've always been done.

OK For Me, But Not For You

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Man. Why does it take a "fake news" show to highlight stuff like this? The Rove bit is absolutely priceless.

Via Think Progress.

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