Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Mobile Phone Service on the T

Great service from the underground South Station T stop. If only the inbound train would come -- I think three outbound trains have gone by.
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Monday, December 20, 2004

Back to work on Tamale Research. We make software that helps financial analysts and portfolio managers work faster and more effectively.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Home Again, Home Again Much like our luggage, we found ourselves at home, heavier than when we left. After two fairly comfortabl five hour flight legs (Kona to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Boston), and a harrowing cab ride from Logan, we reached home safely. The captain cautioned the passengers that there was some risk of diversion to New York's Kennedey Airport, because of the heavy fog, but we landed despite the zero visibility. The Captain actually got a round of applause from the passenger cabin, because the landing was so soft. T starts on the night shift Monday, and I am off to NYC Monday for work.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Lap Around Hawai'i (pictures only are here) After a more than lackadasical day, Caitie and I fired it up to drive around the circumference of the Big Island. We were strongly advised to take the Northern route, which winds up the west side of the island, hooks around the north side, and winds southward along the east side to Hilo and then Volcano National Park. Another handy map: (these maps come from Best of Hawaii, be sure to check them out) Hawaii has an unwritten rule that all rental cars must be Mustangs, and the majority of Mustangs must be red. Both on Maui and the Big Island we were given the exact same car. So, a short pictoral tribute to our touring car of choice, the red, convertible, 2003 Mustang (1 2 3). Along the way across the northern end of the big island, we could clearly see the snow on top of Mauna Kea, one of the three peaks on the island. Caitie strained above the windshield to photograph the hawaiin snow. Trying valiantly to overcome intense motion-sickness, fear of speed, on-coming traffic, high-winds, and road-bliss, she failed. Instead, she took a picture of some random part of the road. Somehow, I really like the picture. After reaching the East side of the island on 19, we went up the dead-end highway 240, which terminates a Waipio Lookout, a state park overlooking a gulch. A really huge gulch. A really huge and beautiful gulch, Waipio could induce agoraphobia in even the most outdoorsy. In addition to being lovely, Waipio lookout is also apperently the location of choice for in-car marijuana use. When we parked, we were next to a few locals whistling along to their crackling radio, holding their smoke and taking in the view. Dr. Fawcett shouted under her breath that "one joint is the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes", and would ultimately lead to emphysema and/or lung cancer. The local dudes kept whistling, and we took some pictures of the view(1 2 3). After chastising the locals, Caitie and I climbed back in our trusty rent-a-stang, and doubled back over 240, and picked up 19 to head south. Our next stop was the famous Akaka Falls, another Hawaiin state park. The Akaka falls site has a nice hiking loop that passes some impressive bamboo stands (1 2), many streams, and wild Impatients of many colors (Caitie noted that you buy them by color, but they grow wild in mixed bouquets). Leading up to the Akaka Falls, is another, smaller waterfall. Though smaller in stature, grace, and impression, the Kahuna Falls pummels Akaka in the naming category (1 2). After a mile or so of "hiking" on the paved, handicap accessible, made-in-the-USA, sidewalk that leads throughout the park, we reached Akaka. And really, what an Akaka it is (1 2 3 4 5). It is hard for heights to be impressive only an hour or so after looking out on Waipio, but Akaka measured up. The green of the thick fern and bamboo cover and the constant mist from the foot of the falls looks more like a movie set than a state park. After Akaka, we drove and drove and drove on 19 until we reached Hilo. While windy and steep, 19 has nothing on Maui's Road to Hana; all the bridges are a full two lanes. There are few small land slide areas, but by and large, it is a safe road, easily driven in the daylight, and acceptably traversed at night. All that safety evaporates the moment you leave Hilo, and pick up HI 11 to drive into Volcanoe National Park. First of all, the whole area in and around the park is a USGS Fault Zone. This means an earthquake could strike at any moment. Ok, fine you say, same in San Adreas California. That is true, but then you have to consider that the park is also at risk for Tsunami -- giant, freakish waves induced by offshore seismic activity (polite speak for earthquakes) that swell up and engulf miles of shoreline. Doesn't Tokyo have those you protest? Ok, fine. But there are also sulphuric acid rain showers, poisinous gas vents, and of course, molten lava and to quote dr. evil, liquid hot magma. They have signs for the poisonous gases, and you can actually see the steam vents, venting away right there in plain site. Like all great places under the US government's stewardship, there is a very well paved road leading to the most interesting locations. This short panaramic video of Pu'u O'o (I don't make them up) was shot about 25 yards from a veritable highway. As if driving to the caldera of one of the world's most active volcanoes is not exciting (and convenient) enough, there is another road to the coast, where you can actually see new land being created as the lava reaches the ocean. We snapped a few shots from "Chain of Craters Road" (1 2). One experience in the park, however, remains spectacularly remote and rare, despite the best efforts of the US park service to drive you withing feet of every natural marvel. The liquid magma flows mostly underground in Lava Tubes (shouldn't they be magma tubes?), which empty into the sea at the base of Mauna Loa (not kea, loa). So most of the liquid rock stays underground as magma, and never flows overland as lava. The underground flows are difficult to track, and it is nearly impossible to predict when or if they will produce visible lava flows. So, going to the volcano park is like going to the beach. You check the weather report to see what kind of beach day it will be, and you check the lava report to see what kind of volcano day you have ahead. As it turns out, we went to the park on a pretty good lava day. To see lava, you had to drive about 5 or 6 miles down to the coast line and park along a now abandoned highway. The highway used to lead to a town, then lava ate the town. So they kept the road up to lead to the lava. Then the lava ate the road (1 2), so the parks service gave up on the road. Now, when the parks service says something is accessible they mean it. Accessible by their standards is paved pathway with railings, signage, and maps. They told us the lava was "mildly inaccessible", and that to reach it we needed in order of priority: water, hiking shoes, long pants, sunblock, hats, and flashlights. We had sneakers and shorts on. Caitie had sunblock, but I forgot to apply that morning. I assumed a somewhat linear scale in accessibility ratings from the park service. Apparently, they use a logarithmic scale. "Mildly Inaccessible" translates to a 4 hour round trip hike over burning hot, razor sharp, frozen metallic lava. You have to move fast, because after sunset, it become nearly impossible to judge where the ocean is. Judging the location of the ocean is important, because the ocean is preceded by giant cliffs formed from partially hardened lava. In addition, there is no telling where the lava is or will be. Your best bet is to follow the trickle of human sacrifices ahead of you, ask every returning hiker you meet where the lava is, and pay attention to the air temperature. When you are withing 50 feet of lava, the temperature jumps very significantly. All that being said, the hike to and from the lava was one of the most exciting excursions I've ever made (not that there have been a lot of excursions). On our way in, we told everyone we met that it was worth it -- if you have a flashlight. All told, we covered 5 miles of the lava fields in about 3 hours, and saw a lot of liquid red lava (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11, and movies crackle, lava). Following our adventure, we drove the rest of the way home on 11, stopping in Kailua-Kona for dinner, and completing our circuit of the big island.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Big Island Arrival (see just the pictures here) We arrived on the Big Island after sunset, and the whole island appeared dark. It wasn't even 11 o'clock yet. We got settled pretty quickly in our new room, which, though extremely comfortable, didn't have the hollywood lux feel (i.e. the bathroom is not a full hectare) of the maui room. This is a good thing, it makes the suite a lot more comfortable and homey (1 2 3). When we checked in, they made a mistake with our room, and accidentally upgraded us to ocean view (we had booked a parking lot view room). So we woke up with a clear line of sight from pillow to surf (1 2). We had the requisite decadent breakfast buffet beach-side, and then settled into a very quiet day. We didn't see another guest until afternoon, but we did see a rainbow. The rainbow lay along the island to the north. The pictures didn't really pick up the color, but you can kind of get an idea that there may have been a rainbow running horizontally along the terrain (1 2). As the day wore on very pleasantly, the sun rose higher in the sky, and hit the air moisture at a different angle. Eventually (I think it was after lunch, hard to say for sure with all the napping), the rainbow stood up vertically. By that time though, we had reached a lotus-eater's pleasant, yet totally lazy, indifference, and didn't even bother taking a picture. Instead, I took another picture from inside the bonnet. Caitie took one of the beach, the pool, and of me swimming. Later in the afternoon, we finally did something cool. The resort has a snorkel and scuba training pool, that is, in effect, a giant human-sized aquarium. They stock it with hundreds of non-threatening fish and manta-rays, and let you swim around with them. "King's Pond" is about fifty yards long, and twenty feet down in the deep end. The deep end affords you the opportunity to dive downward, and look up, so you can see the underside of the rays, and your wife frantically waving for you to return to the surface. The whole time, I was thinking of my tropical-fish-obsessed brother, who has literally proposed the idea of building a swim-in aquarium. I was thinking how mad he would be that I didn't spring for the underwater disposable camera. Sorry man. That's all for our first day on the big rock of hawaii.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Last Night in Maui Well, we took in one last sunset (1 2 3 4 5), which lit the west maui mountains well enough to be somewhat visible (1 2 3 4). We were sad to be leaving, but as Caitie said, it is time to take a vacation from our vacation, and go to the Big Island.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Road to Hana (Pictures only) Today Caitie and I drove the Road to Hana. Maui has east and west sides, joined by a narrow peninsula, so that the island footprint forms a lumpy figure eight. Since we started in Wailea, we covered about 3/4 of the eastern side's circumference. As you can see from this handy map: Our first stop was in Paia, or "Paia Town" as the locals apparently call it. Paia hosts a pretty popular surf spot, with waves that impressed those of us familiar with only Atlantic waves. However, the Paia surf does not qualify as "big wave" surfing in Hawaii. For the truly big waves, you need a jetski, and time to ride a few miles off shore to the reef that is nicknamed "Jaws". We decided pictures of people surfing the normal waves, and a new pair of poser quicksilver surf trunks bought in Paia Town, would be cool enough for now (1 2 3 4). A few miles further toward Hana is a private farm that harbors the "famous" twin falls. The twin falls are proof that tourists can be suckered anywhere. Since the farm is only a few miles into the drive toward Hana, newbies like us don't know what to expect. If the sign says waterfalls, and there are a few cars and some fresh fruit for sale, it seems like a good place to check out. The twin waterfalls are about a quarter of a mile "walk" through dense and muddy jungle cover. Exposed roots jut one to two feet up from a fairly steep hillside leading into the falls. There is actually several interlinking, looping trails that crisscross the whole farm. The place was crawling with other suckers like us, and we kept passing the same people. There was a gaggle of english tourists cheerio-ing there merry way up the hill, who were kind enough to give us directions. There were several newly wed couples, including one that had waded through a waist-deep stream to see one of the falls (Caitie politely told me n-w). After about thirty minutes of what I thought was the greatest hike in history, Caitie started to get nervous that we were lost. Ok, she was actually nervous we were lost when we were still in the parking lot, actually while were still in the car. She got extra nervous when she spotted another couple heading toward us on what appeared to be another path about fifteen feet above us. The gentleman in the pair wore a powder blue terry-cloth leisure suit, and his bride wore a white spaghetti strap tank top with a rhine-stone "just married" across the front. His sneakers were powder blue to match his suit, hers were identical except pink to match her shorts. As they approached, he boomed out "Pa-lease tell us ya know where the freakin' waterfalls are". I replied "Thank god we found the other couple from the east coast". Danny and Karina turned out to be the funniest two people in Hawaii. They were on their honey moon, and they had been walking around for about an hour in search of these waterfalls. Caitie and Karina hit it off, probably because they hadn't been able to speak at full speed since they reached Maui (speech speed decreases as you travel further west in the US). Danny and I hit it off, because he was hilarious. In the twenty-five minute walk to the fall (we did finally find the twin waterfalls), he told us five good stories, including the time he bought poinsettas for Christmas to decorate his new condominium in Long Island. He figured they were Christmas plants, and that they would look good out on his front porch. Only fifty or so poinsettas died of exposure before he figured out they were native to Hawaii, and not good in the cold ("So why are they for Christamas?"). He was handy on our walk back, pointing out various interesting plants that he tends indoors at home ("Karina, this is what we have in the kitchen on the windowsill"), including some wild poinsetta. We parted ways with Danny and Karina at the farm stand, which was a shame because they later told us they had a CD with an audio tour for the road to Hana, and we were welcome to ride with them. Still, we saw them four or five more times on our way to Hana, and we definitely won't forget them. After the farm, the road to Hana really starts to earn its reputation. The pavement narrows, the hills steepen, and the situation generally gets very dangerous. The road reminds me of Route 101 on the northern Californian coast -- really fun (read: scary) driving. My hands were at 10 and 2 O'clock for the whole 100 mile round trip. About 5 miles (and 2 years off your life) after the farm, there is a major lookout point, complete with dirt parking lot and port-o-lets. The view is impressive (creek,1,2,3,4), but you can't really photograph the road to Hana. The hills, ocean, sky, twisty road, rainforest, narrow bridges, and the "yield to oncoming traffic signs", don't fit into the viewfinder. About twenty or thirty miles into the trip, we reached another roadside waterfall. Only, this was really a waterfall, at it flowed under the road. Instead of hiking around in circles on the farm for the twin waterfalls, we took great shots of this one, practically from the car (1 2 3 4 5 ain't it a great country, america?). After about 2 1/2 hours of driving and picture-taking, we reached the town of Hana. This is going to sound crazy, but if you ignore the cliffs down to the ocean, and the really warm trade-winds, and the really attractive local people, Hana reminds me of central Maine. It is a rural, blue-collar, farming community. Farming and surfing I guess. Now, most people stop at Hana, eat some junk-food from the Hana Ranch Store, and head home. Caitie had a hot tip from the hotel hair-dresser, whose husband was a big wave surfer (occupation unknown, irrelevant), that the best place to go swimming was at the seven pools. The Seven pools, she said, were a mere ten more miles past Hana. We waffled a little bit considering driving further, as we munched Taro chips and drank cans of iced coffee (yes, they can it here, yes it is awesome). What was ten more miles, we had already driven forty? The ten miles to the seven pools took nearly as long as the first forty. The road past Hana makes the road to Hana look like I-95. The road actually got narrower, it went from "you could call this two lanes" to "please God, stop all oncoming traffic". Caitie developed a keen eye for the local drivers. You could easily tell them as they whipped past us, because the beeped politely to get your attention, apparently so as not to scare you. About a mile past Hana, they just gave up on painting the yellow line for the center. All the bridges have dates carved into them. At the start, they are all circa 1940, and the date slowly drifts downward as you drive outward. The last four were, 1911, 1911, 1911, and 1910. Caitie wondered, "I bet they all used to be 1910, but the first three fell down, and this one is ready to go any minute". Needless to say, we reached the seven pools safely, and it was well worth the extra life-risking. The pictures tend to distort the proportion of the cliffs and the waves. I think it is because your eye tends to assume the waves are 10 or 12 feet at most. I'd say the cliffs were a solid 60 ft, so these waves, in which Caitie's hairdresser recommended we swim, were probably around 30 ft. (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 swim?!-->11 tt laughs at danger).

Thursday, December 02, 2004

After a good night's sleep (in our room with a view 1 2 3 and deck chairs), I set up the Tamale Hawaii HQ (1) and proceeded to hold a conference call (1 2 3 4). I wish I were kidding. Anyway, with that pesky work out of the way, we finally went down to beach. The seating is very dramatic, with plenty of cabanas and bonnets overlooking the ocean -- tt seems to think far too few, as she insists on getting up at 6.30am in order to get the "right one"(1 2 3 4). The view facing the ocean is SPAG-tacular, looking across to the West Maui Mountains (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13). While there aren't any real land-born predators, or pests, we did have a quick visit from a small lizard (1 2). I think Hawaii was granted a land predator pass, due to the absurd number of very large and very scary ocean predators. Despite the talk of gray sharks, and one-armed surfers, we took a nice swim in the ocean. On this side of the island we are in the lees of the wind, so it is actually very flat. The waves are probably only a foot or two at the faces. After insisting that I not photograph her, Caitie finally let me snap some pictures of her enjoying the view from the balcony (1 2 3 4). After working hard on the beach all day, we watched a pacific sunset (we liked it: 1 2 3 4 5 favorite-->6 7 8 9 10 11 12 and a movie). Caitie was overwhelmed by the dramatic Hawaiin sunset, and started to wax poetic. Then we ate dinner at the Four Seasons' restaraunt "Ferraro". It was good. The table was ridiculous, we were practically sitting on the beach, and they have these awesome, giant, umbrellas, which kind of offset the awesome, giant fountain. The food was impressive too :).

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

After landing on Mauii, we rented a car (red mustang convertible, because you can take the kid out of Lowell...). The drive was cool, save a few traffic encounters. We drove through a sugar cane farm, and you could smell the sugar-smoke molasses-scent from the burning they use at harvest (Ok, I didn't actually see them burning it, but I've seen discovery channel footage of sugar cane harvesting. It was also once featured on Magnum PI. You really could smell it.). There were some dramatic clouds rolling over the very green (verdant even) hillsides. Driving on Mauii is like driving a cart on a golf course. Small windy roads, low speeds, nice scenery. We reached the Four Seasons and checked into our room (1 2), which has a nice king size bed, and simply the largest bathroom legal in the US (take a virtual video tour). The sun was down when we got here, so we put off exploring the grounds until tomorrow. Tonight we are eating at one of the three restaurants on the grounds, under an open sky. Right this minute, T and I are passing out for 45 minutes before getting ready for dinner. All the sitting, reading, and movie watching on the flight out ruined us.

Monday, November 29, 2004

So here we go... T and I are tucked into our seats, and we are about to take off for Chicago. T predicts we miss our connection to Mauii, as we have all of an hour lay-over. We agreed we don't care, as Chicago must have nice hotels. Getting here was a bit of an adventure. I started the morning by taking our trash out to the rear alley. Unfortunately, my luggage and keys were in the foyer of our building. So I had to run around our block to find T. I got there just in time to help with our ginormous rolling bag, which I rolled directly through dog s***. We noticed when I lifted the bag into the trunk, because I put my hand directly in canine feces. Luckily, T caries a small hospital in her hand bag, and autoclaved my hand. A call to Mom reminded me that any mishap with dog-doo is “good luck”. She actually had to clarify. “Well, stepping in it is good luck, I'm not sure about handling it.” -------------------------- Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Caitie packed up a storm. Our luggage is packed and ready to go to Hawaii (1 2). And so are we...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

My wife works at a hospital near fenway park, and got off her shift just as the sox won game 7 of the ALCS. We met near fenway, because she was advised not to drive home (that was excellent advice). The walk to and from Fenway was amazing. Every car horn blared, every person smiled. Complete strangers were high-fiving and clapping for one another. It's a cliche, but the crowd was electric and completely spontaneous. People just walked out of their apartments and started cheering; the crowd naturally streamed toward Fenway. The spontaneity made the night fun for me, but I think the complete lack of direction ultimately made the crowd dangerous. Morons and hoodlums take advantage of moments like last night. 98% of the crowd is just caught up in the moment, jovial, and full of camaraderie. Because the crowd's energy is undirected, the bad actors in the crowd tend to pull everyone into trouble. For the World Series, the city needs to plan more than police presence. They need to plan a direction for the crowd -- something for everyone to do besides milling around in the streets. That way, the police will be better able to remove the riff-raff from the crowd. When was the last time someone lit a fire inside Fenway? Most of the crowd is focused on the game, so the morons are easy to eject. The city shouldn't expect things to be safe if they are just going to watch as people "have a little fun". Everyone knows that Kenmore is the place to be after a series victory -- so the streets should be closed in advance, and police should be in control of the crowd as it forms. A successful plan would keep things tame and prevent the need for riot control techniques like the one that killed Victoria Snelgrove. Boston.com / News / Local / Mass. / College student dies after police shoot projectile into postgame crowd
"We're going to party for a little while." - Johnny Damon

Sunday, October 17, 2004

DNC still raising money

So, remember all the hoopla about John Kerry's fundraising disadvantage? The basic argument went like this: because there were so many democratic primary candidates, and because the DNC wanted a unified effort in the presidential election, the Democratic convention was scheduled early in the summertime. As soon as John Kerry reported for duty and accepted the nomination, he could no longer raise campaign money. Hence, he was supposed to be at a desperate disadvantage to Bush, who started with a higher base of funds, and who had a late Republican convention, which allowed him more time to continue raising cash.

There is, of couse, a loop-hole. The Democratic and Republican parties can continue raising money to spend on unendorsed advertisements. For example, negative ads.

You can see contribution links on www.democrats.org, and www.gop.org
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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Blackberry Post

T's birthday, but she is on call. So I am doing really cool stuff like blogging.
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Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

I love boston.
The New York Times > International > Middle East > U.S. Acquiesces in European Plan for Talks With Iran The most disturbing aspect of this extremely unsettling article is "Not only are China and Russia opposed to sanctions, but a group of so-called nonaligned countries including Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia also oppose anything that might suggest that countries cannot have peaceful nuclear energy programs." The opposition from the nonaligned countries illustrates the inflated importance of energy production in international politics. Oil is a tight commodity with shrinking availability. Nuclear energy is unacceptably dangerous in a terrorist infected world. The world needs safe, abundant, and clean energy. Our national security and economic outlook are aligned with world interest on this point -- the surest way to eliminate the temptation for nations to pursue nuclear energy programs is to discover an alternative. For the first time since the space race, and perhaps in a more tangible sense, we need an aggressive scientific policy that focuses the nations intellectual resources on this specific goal: safe, abundant and clean energy. Unlike rocket science, however, it would be in our best interest to give energy technology away as quickly as possible.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I think Friedman raises the most important domestic facing the US (if you consider anti-terrorism to be Foreign Policy). Over time, I believe a rebalancing of labor to other nations is a very healthy development. Eventually the countries with the lion share of the world population have to also have the lion's share of jobs and world economy. Trying to artificially prevent that development is foolhardy. This rebalancing also means that world markets will be much larger, so that our smaller percentage of the world economy will translate to a far larger total. I am also skeptical that wealth will disperse. If the world economy resembles the US economy, we can expect wealth to continually concentrate in the richest nations. Right now, that is the US. The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Losing Our Edge?

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Someone must be following me around. I haven't quite reached the point of charging my friends and family for PC support, but sometimes I do get the feeling that I should be wearing a headset. "Hey, how's it going? How's work? Life? yeaaaaaaah. So the reason I am calling is I am browsing the internet and my back button is gone. It is just gone. How do I get it back?" Worse still are the angry ones. "Why the *&^@# can't I just !@#$&* save this *&%$^$ file? I hate computers." Yeah, me too sometimes. Personally, I think the problem is most people learn to use computers by forming habits or memorizing steps. "Advanced" users usually have a sense for the metaphors used in interfaces, and can think laterally when they encounter a problem. You average cursing-at-the-internet-connection user prefers to memorize actions and associated outcomes. When attempting to help someone with a memorization usage pattern, you can't "explain" anything, instead you have to list the steps. With a multi-component system, like a wireless internet connection, there are numerous failure points, and memorizing all possible resolutions isn't feasible. So, people memorize a phone number. It isn't just "unsavvy" users. I write software professionally, and the association of a person with a blackbox task like "fixing the internet connection" is a very common habit for software engineers. My best working relationships are with people who can tell me when I am using their knowledge as a crutch, and who can take it when I tell them the same. One last thing. I really enjoy helping friends and family learn about computers/software/internet. I do get a small amount of satisfaction from having a large informal group of users that I "support". If any of my supportees are reading this, and you certainly know who you are, I will still be providing 24x365 click by click support. If nothing else, I can really make my geek friends laugh with my paper-jam stories. Geeks Put the Unsavvy on Alert: Learn or Log Off

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Growing up outside of Boston, the democrats I knew were from an old mold: Pro-death penalty, pro life, pro union, Irish, French Canadian, Catholic, Greek. Civil rights was a very distant movement for a town of one hundred thousand that segregated beyond race into fourteen catholic parishes and one greek orthodox. These democrats cared about the day to day struggle to make a living, not the high minded movements that defined the Democratic party on a national level. The national republican party stance increasingly mirrored the very conservative social stance of most of these third and fourth generation democrats. Locally, the party mechanics of the long entrenched democratic party keeps the majority of city councilors, mayors, state representatives, and state senators democrats. However, republicans have started a bit of a dynasty in the executive branch, based largely on their stance toward social issues. Where else besides Massachusetts, could then president of the State Senate, democratic demi-god Billy Bulger, make a stand against school busing and integration? As the republicans are keen on pointing out, what exactly do democrats stand for? gay marriage? While I think that same-sex couples (that is two human beings, for all you conservative readers hoping to make the slippery slope argument) should be permitted to legally bind, it is not exactly the most morally or ethically energizing of issues. It seems more like a final step in a long progression. To the republican conservatives, however, it is the perfect bogey man. Marriage is one of the many points of state and church that seem impossible for many to disentangle. "It's a sacrement" I have heard said by the devout catholics I know. (Aside: With all due respect, that is like saying a birth certificate equates to a christening.) The point is, the issue has become a defining point of the democratic party stance because the republicans have used it as the slogan issue for how far out in left field the democrats are playing. So, I admire the article below. But I disagree. We are being forced to polarize because of the rise of a conservative movement, which is fracturing, by the way, between neo-cons and traditional conservatives (redundant I know I know). The majority of the country is in the middle on social issues like criminal justice, abortion, and civil rights. However, when it comes to education and class mobility, I don't think I have ever met a single person who thinks the current disparity and rigidity of american economic classes is ethical. So why can't we take it to the republicans on a issue everyone really cares about? Op-Ed Contributor: The Dead Center

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The article below articulates, not without a certain penash, the rise of American imperialism -- both under Clinton through the auspices of international coalitions and organizations, and under Bush through sheer might and force of will. What strikes me about american imperialism are nuances like theworldvotes.org. Citizens of other nations seem to be asserting pretty clearly that our government, our politics matter deeply to them. That realization is, for many I expect, deeply frustrating since they have no input whatsoever. As I understand it, the philosophical dispute underlying the American Revolution was Parliament's authority to dictate law to all of the British Empire, while only drawing its members from the English districts. Until 9-11 transformed American foreign policy, we were using the local federal governments to channel US will to those nations' policies (or so I interpret the article below). Our pre-emptive actions in Iraq shook that balance. Obviously, the old approach of using the local government as a more direct means of representation and participation for the local residents could never work with a dictatorship, but in the process we disengaged from the UN and our coalition building and have threatened the stability of international relations. The New Yorker: The Critics: A Critic At Large

Sunday, January 25, 2004

The quote below from Time articulates the essential argument against Dean. He made his case for the Democratic nomination that Bush needed to go. Nearly every democrat agreed. Unfortunately, nearly every democrat also asked "How do we get Bush out?". The answer, apparently, is not by nominating Dean. Kerry has surged on the "electibility" focus, but that theme's days are numbered. Edwards has the "Everyman" play -- what does Kerry have? The nomination, I think, will come down to Kerry and Edwards, and will be won or lost in Missouri, barring any embarrassment for Kerry in NH or Edwards in SC. TIME.com: What Becomes a President Most?: "In fact, the issue of style and temperament has everything to do with how Dean earned his front-runner position in the first place. He was the first to correctly read the Democratic electorate and channel its anger?not just at President Bush but at the Democrats in Washington who were still playing nice with a President who was playing for keeps. But this meant he could least afford to make a mistake. Once the conventional wisdom challenged his electability, the rationale for his candidacy started to crumble, and voters went searching elsewhere. 'Six months ago, they were all looking for straight talk,' said Joe Lieberman pollster Mark Penn. 'Now they're looking for someone who is serious enough to be President of the U.S.'"

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I recently signed up with Theworldvotes.org, because I consider the experiment they are conducting to be quite interesting. Given the tiny number of registrants, I don't think the experiment will yield much data, but I nonetheless I am interested to see the result of a far flung poll. One issue I take with the site is the language of "voting" versus "polling". As I see it, the results of the voting on the site is simply information, not a mandate on par with the results of the US election process. As a US citizen entitled to vote here, I am interested to see what people in other parts of the world think about our candidates. The results on the site may impact my decision, which I think is legitimate. However, it is completely illegitimate to suggest that the results should impact the official results, the process or any other aspect of the election.