Happy (belated) New Year!
My New Year's Resolution is 1920x1200. Haha... get it!? Resolution... Computer resolution? You laughed, right? right???
But considering most resolutions barely make it past February, New Year's resolutions are a joke anyways. If you were really committed to changing your life around, you would have already started it, and not waited for some arbitrary date to start doing it.
First Night was awesome, and I managed to get some really great photos throughout the night. I also watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV and was still able make it to the fireworks here in Austin thanks to the 1 hour time difference. And I still plan on one day being part of that crowd freezing to death in the middle of New York.
Tomorrow I'm flying to Tampa to visit high school and college friends. It'll be the first time I've been back since I moved to Austin, so it'll be nice to see everyone and everything again.
I'm currently sitting in the Tampa airport, with another 2 hours until my flight comes in to take me back to Austin. Luckily the Tampa airport is pretty cool and has free wireless internet. I was busy all weekend catching up with friends and having a blast, so I've only now been able to catch up on news and email.
The biggest of which is that Obama won the Iowa caucuses and now looks poised to win New Hampshire tomorrow! One of the "clearest" ways to see the national-turnaround has been with Slates Why Vote when you can Bet? series, which looks at political betting to see who will win the nomination. There more it costs to place a bet on a candidate, the more likely the house feels that candidate will win. Clinton was at ~$66 the entire contest so far (spend $66 to get $100 back if she wins the nomination) until January 3rd, when Obama is now the ~$63 bet and Clinton is at ~$36.
Newsweek also has a really interesting article about Obama's 26 year old speech writer and the process they go through to write his speeches.
They just announced on the intercom that they overbooked a flight and need someone to give up their seat. I really wish that would happen on a flight I'm on, so I could claim the free airfare. I have no problems sitting another hour or two, not when it means I can fly anywhere around the country for free! I've got a long long list of places I want to visit this year, so a free flight would definitely help.
Unfortunately Obama wasn't able to get a second win by getting New Hampshire, but being only 3% behind in a state that, according to polls during most of 2007, he was supposed to lose by 20%, I say that's a pretty good showing. I find it amusing that Hillary calls her win a comeback when up until a week ago, she was the one who was supposed to win!
There's been a million and a half theories about what happened to Obama's lead in the polls, and I don't think we'll ever know. But I think this article might have it closest. Even I felt bad for the way she was getting treated in the media and the nastiness involved. Though that's also the exact reason why I worry if she does win the nomination, that she will be too polarizing and that too many people just don't like her. I personally don't have much of an issue with her and I would have no problem voting her in, but I think a lot of America does.
Also, even though I'm still a huge Obama fan, I am kinda glad that at least the nominating process gets to be extended beyond 2 states with less than .5% of the nation voting. I doubt my vote will matter by the time the primaries hit Texas, but at least Super Duper Tuesday still counts for something. And I honestly believe that once people start hearing, learning, and paying attention to Obama, they'll vote for him.
Speaking of the unfair primary system, I agree with the principle that it's a good idea to have a few states at the beginning, since having to do a nation-wide primary would be prohibitively expensive for all but the richest of the rich candidates. But instead of always having two of the whitest rural states decide who are presidential nominees are, how about doing a lottery system, and pick out like 4 random states each election cycle to start with. And then slowly work your way up to more states, until there's a "Super Tuesday" of all the leftover states. As others have pointed out, I don't think there'd be so much corn subsidies if the first primary state wasn't Iowa.
The other day I tried my very first deep fried snickers. Snickers is my favorite candy bar, and when I saw it on the dessert menu at a comedy club, I felt compelled to see what a deep fried candy bar would taste like. The answer? Pretty bad. The batter used to coat the candy bar just created a weird texture then when mixed with the half melted chocolate. So I'd recommend saving the 500+ calories in that dietary monstrosity, and maybe just ordering a salad instead.
I've been having a lot of nosebleeds again lately, I think due to the dry Texas winter air. I had them all the time as a kid growing up in the super dry Texas panhandle, and had my nose cauterized twice actually, which is was not a fun experience in the least. But after moving to Florida they came only very sporadically, and so far in Austin, which is normally fairly humid actually, I haven't had an issue until the last 2 weeks.
The eventuality of computer-assisted humans is coming ever closer, with an announcement that researchers have put electronic circuits into contact lenses. This brings us one step closer to augmented reality, where you see computer screens overlaid on reality. So for example, a firefighter could view a layout of the building as he's fighting the fire. If my contacts could do that, then I might start wearing them more often!
Finally some more of everyone's favorite topic, politics! Huckabee is trying to woo the South by saying if you think the government shouldn't support the best known symbol of slavery, he'll want to stick a pole up your butt. But this is also the same person who wanted to quarantine gays in the mid-90's, links allowing gay marriage to allowing bestiality, and thinks that America should "amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards". Because I'm sure that's exactly what the founding fathers had in mind when they created the doctrine of separation of church and state.
But on a happier note, some more articles on Obama, including one on his record , and another on his work in Illinois. The point repeatedly made out is how his goal was to get things done, and not just make headlines. So if that means he didn't get his name on a bill, then so be it. That's a big part of the appeal of him, he doesn't behave like a regular ol' politician and focus on soundbites or hollow victories, but on creating the most good that he can, being aware of the realities of a situation, and getting things done.
I'm putting my money where my mouth is in regards to not hating the Earth, and am signing up for Austin's Green Energy program. It increases my cost per kilowatt of electricity by about 1.8 cents, which means it'll add about $5 a month to my electric bill. It doesn't directly pump in electricity generated from wind into my apartment, but instead pays for the extra money that it costs to add that kind of power into the electric grid. I actually wanted to do this when I first moved here, but they weren't allowing any new people into the program. So now I can do that little bit more to help save the environment, one bit at a time.
I know I keep harping on how amazing the Alamo Drafthouse is, but they once again do something super cool, and get the deaf guy in There Will Be Blood to come to the theater and do an interview in sign language after a screening of the movie. Also they recently had a showing of Real Genius (best 80's nerd comedy EVER) where they handed out laser pointers to shine on the screen whenever a laser was shown in the movie, and replicated the big finale by shooting air cannons full of popcorn over the audience to simulate it raining popcorn.
The people who started the Drafthouse were also named one of 35 people who Will Shape Our Future. I suppose they meant in a fun kind of way.
It's so cold, wet, and miserable outside. And has been for the last few days. And will continue to be until the weekend. Ugh. It makes me want to just curl up in my warm bed and read a book for the rest of forever.
And now, time for more Why Barack Obama Should be the Next President of the United States!
The Washington Post has a piece on the stimulus plans of each of the major candidates and even Bush's own plan. As she correctly points out, all this will (hopefully) be moot by the time the inauguration happens a year from now, but it is a good pop test for the candidates. And Obama ends up leading the pack with his plan of tax credits. This is why I like him so much, he's smart, knows what to do, and has a history of getting stuff done!
Also I love his new FactCheck website, which actually rebuts all the fudge that Hillary has been making about him. If only there were some sort of profession dedicated to investigating and clarifying these situations, one that had access to print and television dissemination.... ABC at least got to a good start with reporting on the infamous Reagan comments, ending with "Bill Clinton is spreading demonstrably false information." Well yeah, someone finally calls him on it!
I need to add an Obama section to the website to keep track of all the updates that mention him, since it's been shown time and time again, that the more people learn about him, the more they like him and want to support him.
I was watching The Daily Show (er, well it's now A Daily Show during the writers strike) from last night and they aired a montage on Fox News about the cause of the economic downturn. And apparently it's not the subprime mortage crises, falling house prices, credit woes, or $100 a barrel oil. No no, it's the possibility of a Democrat winning the White House. Silly Fox News! It also reminded me of their infamous practice of making statements in the caption at the bottom with a question mark at the end, thus turning a blatant lie into an innocent question. For example, "The sky is green today" turns into "The sky is green today?" and bam, now it's no longer an outrageous claim but a news worthy question! How anyone could possibly think they aren't horrifically biased is beyond me.
The Onion once again reflects reality with their latest scoop, "Bill Clinton: 'Screw It, I'm Running For President'"
There's a lane merge on my route back home from work everyday, and for whatever reason, the sign that signals that the right lane is ending and to merge left, is over a half a mile before the lane actual ends, or about 30 to 40 seconds. So at least once a week I see a car forget that the lane is going to end, move over to the right lane, and then suddenly find themselves in running out of lane and swerve back to the original lane. I wonder how much work it would take to get the sign moved so it's a tad bit closer. Anyway, just a random observation.
I should be in bed already, but I just wanted to post some excerpts from Barack Obama's South Carolina victory speech after crushing his competitors yesterday, getting 55% of the vote from a wide coalition of voters to win by 28%.
I could go into the usual links about his experience , and having 3 more years in elected office than Hillary, a law degree from Harvard in Constitutional law, and spending his first years out of school working on the streets of the South Side of Chicago helping the poor and disenfranchised bring themselves up, instead of cashing in on a cushy job. Or mention his years spent overseas getting exposed to other cultures, so America can get past the Cowboy rouge "diplomacy" of the last few years, and instead regain the respect America has lost to our overseas friends.
Or I could talk about his policy that shows he's not just words but the real deal.
Or the endorsement from Caroline Kennedy, who wrote that "I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president ó not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.".
Or mention his capability to get more people to vote for him in yesterday's election than the number of people in the entire SC primary in 2004.
Or that it's been shown that the more people learn about him, the more likely they are to support him. Such as when they find out the inexperience typecasting is wrong and he actually is a thorough candidate. Or find out, oh wait, that he's actually not a Muslim (which the idea that that should even matter is a whole other issue in itself).
Instead, I wanted to highlight some of the parts of his speech last night that really struck out to me, as someone who IS tired of the distractions and drama that gets passed off as politics. And as someone who thinks the problem is too often arguing over petty things to score cheap political points, instead of working to solve the real issues.
The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. Itís not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.
I highly recommend to watch the speech, or read the entire transcript and see for yourself what the excitement is about.
Itís about the past versus the future.
Itís about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation - a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.
Donít tell me we canít change.
Yes we can change.
Yes we can heal this nation.
Yes we can seize our future.
And where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the American people in three simple words:
So basically I can already tell you the next few days are just going to be posts about Obama since the February 5th primaries (aka Super Duper Tuesday, what a nifty name!) is coming up and I'm sure there are people who read this site that live in one of those 22 states.
Besides, hopefully it'll encourage at least one person to donate online to help him get elected. He's the first and only politician I've ever given money to, and he's supporting his entire campaign through individual donations. Not PACs, not 527-type special interest groups, and not even his own money, but through hundreds of thousands of individual Americans. By the midpoint of January he had had over 100,000 donors just in 2008 alone, and in all he's had over 600,000 people donate toward his campaign, many for the first time in their lives. Which includes the woman he mentioned in his SC speech:
I think of that elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day, a money order for three dollars and one cent, along with a verse of scripture tucked inside the envelope. So don't tell me change isn't possible. That woman knows that change is possible.
The big news today was Ted Kennedy's endorsement. However one I discovered today that was far more interesting to me personally as a computer guy is Lawrence Lessig's endorsement. Lessig is the founder of the Creative Commons license, and the fact that he feels comfortable endorsing Obama should be an important point. It shows once again that Obama actually understands the issues unlike any other politician. For another example of this, listen to his podcast on net neutrality, another issue held very dear to the tech crowd that Obama is on the side of the public and not the corporate lobbyists. For more information on his tech views you can read his website or a interview he gave on them.
Actually the reason I found those links is because I was reading an article about how all the candidates were vague and didn't have a lot of actual positions on tech issues. And yet Obama has talked lots about it, which is why I really wonder where people keep getting the idea that he's all inspiration and no policy...
And in a side note on the Republican side, you know they have issues when they start attacking each other over how to properly eat fried chicken.
Wow, just wow. I watched the Republican debate, and these guys are the best the Republicans could come up with? Rommney implying we were right to go to Iraq because of 9/11... Huckabee completely bombing a question about Putin (to the point I'm not sure he even knows who Putin is)... McCain expressing his desire to spend a 100 more years in Iraq... and that was all in the last 30 minutes. Not to mention the name Regean was mentioned 59 times in a 90 minute debate, including Rommney's crazy Reagan barrage at the end. Heaven help the person who decided to do the "drink every time someone mentions Regan" drinking game, they're probably dead of alcohol poisoning now. The basic theme seemed to be "Republicans: The Party of 30 year old ideas."
In other news, 13,000 people were at the Barack Obama rally in Denver today.
For comparison sake, 12,000 people showed up to the 2004 Democratic Colorado caucus.
I also did my very first ever phone banking today, to help support Obama. On his website you can volunteer to call people in other states that have given their phone number to the campaign. So in my case it was calling people in New Mexico to let them know Obama was going to be there on Friday. They provide a script, and you click on a button depending on their responses to take you to the next thing to say. It was really easy, I'm going to definitely have to do more of this.
And hey look, a photo update with Matt Bonner, who played for the Gators during my first two years of college. He currently plays for the Spur's, and the San Antonio Gator Alumni club put together an event to buy tickets to the Spur's game and then meet him afterwards for a Q&A. I asked him about the Rowdy Reptiles, since I spent many, many, many hours waiting in line throughout my college career, and he expressed his appreciation of us rooting them on. He's a pretty cool guy in person.