Bougie me

In yet another attempt to insure that I will be first against the wall when the revolution comes, today I purchased a subscription to the local musical society for the 2008-09 season. Some highlights:
  • Soweto Gospel Choir
  • Milton Nascimento and the Jobim Trio
  • The Silk Road Ensemble feat. Yo-Yo Ma
At this rate I'm going to have to start wearing a kaffiyeh to lay claim to any radical cred whatsoever.


The Austin Police Department does twitter

It's true. I requested that they let me follow their twitt... twitting? Follow whatever it is, but I wonder if it's official police twittering only.

If I were the police, I'd have an account just in order to follow the SXSW stream, etc. But the APD seems to be following a variety of internet personalities as well. Don't know what to make of it.

That's Hedley!

"My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives...My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention!"


Those are terrible odds

(so-called facts via veegle, stupid smiley faces that are supposed to be "%)" via Apple's iChat)


Drivers Responsibility Program not run responsibly

So for several years I was driving a car with expired registration, no inspection, and no insurance. I'm not proud of this, but I thought it was interesting that the fines for these infractions added up to less than I would have paid to be driving legally all those years.

That calculation turns out to be incorrect, however, because of Texas's Driver Responsibility Program. In addition to the several hundred dollars I already paid in fines, the DRP thing means that I also owe 250 dollars a year, for the next three years.

I don't mind paying for my mistakes, but there is one key thing they forget to tell you when you pay your fines down at the municipal court: They forget to tell you anything about the DRP fines.

I had no idea that I was supposed to pay this money, and I received no correspondence about it until this week, when I got a letter from a collection agency. In fact, I suspect that this is the real reason Texas has not been able to collect these fines and has had to resort to the collection agencies. Nobody, including the clerks at the courthouse, actually knows about it!

Is anybody else familiar with these DRPs? Do they work better in other states?

UPDATE: Others share my woe.
In my particular situation, our fines were paid completely for the first year and we received no notification the second year. The deadline to pay had not expired and when I entered my information on the DPS website, it showed that I had paid my fine and owed nothing. However, when my future father in law, a 20year+ HPD sergeant, ran my license it said that it had been suspended for almost a year. Later I found out that DPS changed your identification number each year, so even if they fail to notify you, and as a good citizen you pro-actively go to the allocated website to pay a fine, the information you are given could be incorrect. Thus leaving you susceptible to being arrested and then paying hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to get out of jail for essentially driving; not because you didn’t pay for whatever violation occurred in the city you received, but because of an additional fine that the state has given you for the same exact violation in said city or jurisdiction. A fine that surprisingly, many drivers have no idea they owe. The financial and economic burden this is placing on hardworking citizens is outrageous.


Now that's stimulating!

Perhaps not the most artful expression of the sentiment, but hooray for this guy!



[from Latin 'ens', a thing]

1. In metaphysics, an existing or real thing.

2. In chemistry, something supposed to condense within itself all the virtues and qualities of a substance from which it is extracted. (obsolete)


To Wii or not to Wii

But the reason I hate advertisers (while simultaneously maintaining terrified, Old Testament awe at their power) is because I'm a total hype sucker. I read somewhere, and I cannot recall where, that Nintendo spent more money on Wii Fit's marketing campaign than they've ever spent on anything. It seems to be working. It makes me excited, like when I call my Mom and tell her she ought to finally buy a Wii because she'll really like this game and she tells me, actually, she was thinking about it.

I'm sort of scared of Wii Fit. I mean, it'll know how much I weigh, and it'll make me look really stupid, like that lady in the picture up there. But everyone seems kinda scared of it, and kinda excited about it, and as much as I roll my eyes, hard, whenever I see news anchors "discovering" the latest game stuff on the morning news, it kinda, just a little, makes me happy.

So, are you getting it?

Yes, I'm getting one today.

(and yes, I know it's a meanie that calls little girls "fat")


The times, they are a changin

RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Hillary Clinton joined the chorus of Democrats who have criticized President Bush's comments about Barack Obama, saying that his comparison "of any Democrat to Nazi appeasers is both offensive and outrageous."
|First Read|



WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush said in an interview out Tuesday that he quit playing golf in 2003 out of respect for the families of US soldiers killed in the conflict in Iraq, now in its sixth year.

"I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal," he said in an interview for Yahoo! News and Politico magazine.

"I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf," he said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them." |Yahoo News>|

Discipline and self-sacrifice truly are the watchwords of this President. In case you were wondering, mountain biking is still okey dokey:
Although Bush says he has given up golf, he is a mountain-biking enthusiast who has been photographed taking part in rides. He took up biking after an injury sidelined him from running. |Washington Post|

Alec Baldwin can read my mind

Inexplicably, we never got to our fourth big Who want's to be Shatner nominee, Alec freakin' Baldwin. We must return to this topic soon, but here is Alec racking up a few more Shatner points:


West Virginia, thy mighty voice hath spoken

FB: Well that sounds pretty good, Hillary Clinton, but what if I wanna vote for someone with even more experience, like John McCain or Zombie Strom Thurmond or Andrew Jackson's collection of antique spittoons? Those spittoons have been in the White House for a long time an I hear they got a formidable command of foreign policy.
CLINTON: Ha haaa! Well you know, anyone off the street with a scary black pastor can talk about change, but it takes a fighter to fight for change. And I'm a fighter. I'm tough. And if you lived my life you'd be pretty darn tough too. I mean, I had to go to Wellesley. That was my safety school. But I was strong anyway and I endured. And as president I'll fight the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry and the health care industry, just as soon as they stop giving me millions of dollars!
FB: That's that no-nonsense down-to-business style I like about you, Hillary Clinton! You don't just talk about change. You talk about how much you don't just talk about change!
CLINTON: That's just the way I am, I guess. Oh, hang on a second, I have to wrestle a hog in a giant trough of grits. It's just something I do!


Via egg, this blog is entirely made up of photoshoppies where the heads of child and father are swapped:

ManBabies.com - Dad?



[From Late Latin 'holographus', from Greek 'holographos', from 'holos' meaning whole + 'graphos' meaning written]

A document written wholly in the handwriting of the person whose signature it bears.
2. A negative produced by exposing a high-resolution photographic plate, without camera or lens, near a subject illuminated by monochromatic, coherent radiation, as from a laser: when it is placed in a beam of coherent light a true three-dimensional image of the subject is formed.


Because I'm a sucker...

...I decided to pass along some viral marketing.


This link is worth following

Robot Screening Megathread


Lately I've taken to watching a lot of the Community Television Network. Of the four channels CTN operates, my favorite is 16, which bills itself as, "The meeting place...where Ann Arbor watches its City government in action."

I haven't seen a full fledged city council meeting yet, but have seen all manner of commissions and the odd advisory board. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd go with the Commission on Disability Issues. It's broadcast live the third Wednesday of every month and then rebroadcast the following Thursday and Saturday.

Sometimes the subject matter of the meeting is itself interesting -- this is most often true of the zoning board of appeals, I think -- but even when not, I find myself taking an interest in various aspects of meeting dynamics. I remember one meeting in particular where the idea was to create a set of rules for an upcoming festival. One participant suggested that they base the rules on one or another set of widely accepted guidelines. Another launched the principled objection that no attempt to establish adequate guidelines can ever succeed, and kept insisting that no guidelines should be consulted even when it became clear that everyone else disagreed. The Chair deftly resolved the matter by creating a subcommittee.

Relatedly, there was a time when I thought of meetings as an impediment to getting things done. More and more, I tend to think of meetings as a very important kind of work in their own right, and that having good productive meetings is a key component in the success of just about any cooperative endeavor.


Call me when scientists have developed a bionic brain

Smoked Salvia can be a brute of a drug depending on the dose, as this FAQ on the Erowid drug site explains. (The drug can also be consumed orally.) "Generally, smoked salvia effects come on quickly, peak for 5-20 minutes, and then begin to subside," the FAQ notes. Users report visions; feelings of fright; loss of physical coordination; uncontrollable laughter; confusion; feelings of being underground, or underwater, or flying, or floating; experiences of "non-Euclidean" spaces; and more, according to Erowid. |Slate|

Some of you will probably be interested in this link.

Random science Thursday

That looks like it hurt. But luckily for the eagle, it's getting a bionic beak! (The eagle's future prey did not respond to a request for comments on this blog post).

Meanwhile, this dolphin already has a bionic tail. No word on whether it makes the six-million-dollar sound.


Repeating myself

The Last Poets y'all.

Election day nausea

Sweet zombie Jesus, I'm glad I voted for Obama. In the run up to the to today's primaries, Hillary has decided that the way to win is to double down on the right-wing's war on expertise and science.

Meanwhile, her supporters are launching more thoughtful attacks, such as this one:
James Carville, meanwhile, said that if Hillary “gave [Obama] one of her cojones, they’d both have two.”

Stay classy!

(photo is apropos of nothing, via sexy videogame land)

The long campaign

I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that insofar as Obama really is running a different kind of campaign, a long primary season is likely to help rather than hurt him in the general election. Naturally, I'm going to insist on a narrow reading of what might count as a different kind of campaign.

A shallow way of describing the Obama difference is to say that he is running a campaign in which you don't say mean things about your opponent. A better description would contrast Obama's strategy of enlarging the electorate with the Clinton strategy of zeroing in on the median voter. The most accurate description, from my point of view, would be to say that Obama is running an organizing campaign.

If that description is right, then the implication is that Obama's chances of victory are strongly tied to the strength of his organization on the ground. This is where the long campaign comes in. In a normal year, we wouldn't see competitive primaries in Indiana or North Carolina today, nor would we have seen most of the contests that have occurred over the last few months. In each state, having a contested election has given the Obama campaign a opportunity to set up offices, recruit volunteers, iron out wrinkles, identify voters, and establish inroads into local social networks.

Those are serious advantages for an organizing campaign, and the upshot of the long campaign may be that the Democrats in 2008 find themselves in position to make Dean's fifty state strategy from 2006 look like small potatoes.


Funky dollar bill

Now the red was the color of the Indian man
White was the devil's who stole the land
Blue was the eyes that hypnotised
with the tricks and traps they sprung
and even to this very same day
they all speak with forked tongue!
And so the power is in the hand of the ruling classes
playing god with the fate of all the masses
so the people don't get any in the land of the plenty
because E PLURIBUS UNUM means One Out Of Many.

Had I only known! Consider this a public service announcement. If you ain't already got 'em, get some Last Poets records.


How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

A short argument about Hillary Clinton:
  1. The War in Iraq is extremely unpopular.
  2. Faced with an unpopular policy, a President has three choices. She can: (a) persist in the policy despite its unpopularity; (b) expend political capital in an effort to change public perceptions; or (c) change the policy.
  3. Hillary Clinton won't do a or b.
  4. Hence, if Hillary Clinton were President, she would end the war in Iraq.

Seems right to me.

Meanwhile, I can't find a transcript, but you should have seen Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday yesterday. He went from 'Obama has been damaged by Wright' to 'Obama is no longer inevitable' to 'Obama is weaker than he was' to 'Obama is weak' to 'Obama reminds me of Dukakis' to 'If the Democrats nominate Obama, it looks like another in a long line of weak nominees -- Humphrey, Dukakis.'

Lovely. With a simple equivocation on 'weak', Williams was able to split the difference between Obama as a figure of fear, a secretly angry black man, and Obama as the subject of scorn, another weak Democrat.

For my part, I've been thinking that what I'd really like to see is a debate between Obama and Wright. Maybe it could be moderated by Sister Souljah.


Compare and contrast

I knew I forgot to pay one a the bills yesterday but I just thought it was the cable or the internet or somethin an I guess it musta been worse cause when I step outside this mornin somebody's shut off the time. Now everything's happenin all at once an there's all this history spilled all over the lawn. Now I got all these crusaders sackin the mailbox an morlocks hibernatin under the porch an at least a dozen Louis the Sixteenths grazin on the azalea bushes. Look at the mess! I try to clean things up a little by sortin past people an future people into different piles but nobody's helpin out, what with all the drunk Winston Churchhills harassin the cave people an the mastodon steppin on Jesus an the radiation zombies wanderin off to chew on parts of Harry Truman. |fafblog|

Once upon a time there was a man who laid linoleum, a fantastical fellow, who did not believe in clocks. He would get up from the floor, his measuring foot in hand, and stare at the clock. Sometimes he would move his hand through the air in the neighborhood of the clock as though he were trying to feel something, a current or stream. "Nothing there," he would mutter as he returned to his linoleum on the floor, patting the linoleum, pleased to rest his hand on something tangible. He'd go on taking measurements and at intervals he would caress his measuring stick and would talk to it. A few minutes later he would look up at the clock, almost angrily. The clock went on ticking. At times he'd clench his fist. Whole mornings he would pass in this way, making love to his foot-rule and fighting the clock. He would speak scornfully of everything pertaining to the clock, calling it an imposter. "Time," he would say, "time, seconds, minutes, hours, days, knights and their ladies. Bah!" He was grim. Then he'd look at his ruler. "Tell me, tell me, how many inches in an hour?" And he'd look at the clock and come down hard on the next nail in the linoleum. |O.K. Bouwsma|

The ponies

Apparently, the Kentucky Derby is this weekend. I haven't heard much about the race itself, so if I were a betting man I'd be forced to resort to my normal Derby practice of putting my money on the horse whose name most closely resembles the name of a sandwich.

People seem to think that horse racing would suddenly become immensely popular if some year some horse were to win the triple crown. I don't see it. The annual trinitarian mystery is pretty compelling on its own terms, but what would change if one horse won all three races? Nothing that I can see. The next year the Derby would roll around again with a field of horses that nobody has ever heard of.

If the powers that be in the world of horse racing were to ask me, I'd say that if you want people to follow horse racing then what you need to do is make more races matter to the casual fan, and that you do that by having more races featuring horses that the casual fan might have heard of. It turns out, though, that this is pretty much the idea behind the Breeder's Cup. Worse, the sport has become less popular in the 35 years that the cup has been around.

Probably there's nothing to be done and horse racing is going to remain a niche sport. All I know for sure is that horse races are spectacular and that off track betting should be legal in each of these United States.

Missed opportunities

Do you know what I just learned? The secret code that gets you unlimited lives (or whatever) when playing Contra on the original Nintendo is a generalized cheat code for any Konami game on that console. Not sure what any of those other games are.

I learned that fact from this thread, which I came across while searching for images of Shaq Fu.
eXTReMe Tracker