Hillary's getting some really bad advice

Or getting good advice and not listening. One or the other. Because she made two really serious strategic mistakes in this evening's televised "debate" and if she continues to do that she'll pay for them big time in the end. IMHO.

She made them both right off the mark by digging in to Obama on his health care plan. By doing that she tacitly acknowledged Obama as the front runner - or, at the very least, her principle opponent - and guaranteed him more than an equal share of time for the remainder of the session. Going first, she'd have been better off if she'd simply described her own proposal clearly and directly and forced the others to run from behind by attacking her. And she should, as far as possible, force her now three opponents to share time equally. Doing so would diminish the appeal of her strongest opponents and emphasize the weakness of the others.

And all four of them should decline to answer situational questions that come without context - hypotheticals, in lawyers' jargon - by simply saying "I don't intend to get myself into that situation." Period. A "ticking bomb" question and a question about attacking terrorists in Pakistan without the Pakistani government's cooperation fell into that category. A third, having to do with imagined difficulties in withdrawing from Iraq, Edwards nailed perfectly by saying he would listen to the the generals' advice directly but policy decisions would be made by him, not them.

There may have been more but I didn't stick with the show until the end. There is only so much of that blabber I can take in a given evening and I had watched part of the Republicans' fearfest already. Enough is enough.

I bug out

I only made it through 20 minutes of the Republican "debate" on ABC; they seem to be stuck on arguing about who's most afraid of Muslims. I'll let them fight it out among themselves.

Maybe I'll go back and watch some of the Ds, see if they do any better. But for now I'll just listen to a book.

A stealth win for Willard

Mitt Romney captured his first win of the Republican presidential race, gaining most of Wyoming's delegates at stake in GOP caucuses on Saturday.

(AP via Raw Story)

Wyoming? It's some state way over there. Cheney's state, if that narrows it down any. Also one of Willard's kids owns a ranch there. They moved their primary - actually, caucus - up. Surprise!

Wyoming had scheduled its GOP county conventions earlier to attract candidates to the state but had only modest results.

Romney apparently won mostly because no other candidates paid much attention to the race "but also he's the right person for the job," says Leigh Vosler of Cheyenne, reportedly some city there.

Oh yeah, and...

RNC rules require the punishment for states that hold their nominating contests earlier than Feb. 5. Iowa, which held caucuses on Thursday, will not be penalized because, technically, the caucuses are not binding on convention delegates.

No word on what the punishment is but if it's the Rs involved it must be baaaaad.

So it's the geezers then

The poll workers, many senior citizens who had spent decades setting up low-tech punch-card systems, were baffled by the new computerized system and the rather poorly written manuals from Diebold and the county. “It was insane,” one former poll worker told me. “A lot of people over the age of 60, trying to figure out these machines.”


In a remarkably condescending fashion some guy named Clive Thompson (who writes frequently about technology) tells us all about those new-fangled electrical voting machines just in time to once again do nothing much about them (yeah, right, California, Colorado, one county in Ohio, something something). Must be getting close to election time again.

The earliest critiques of digital voting booths came from the fringe — disgruntled citizens and scared-senseless computer geeks...

Thanks, Clive.

It’s difficult to say how often votes have genuinely gone astray. Michael Shamos, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University who has examined voting-machine systems for more than 25 years, estimates that about 10 percent of the touch-screen machines “fail” in each election. “In general, those failures result in the loss of zero or one vote,” he told me. “But they’re very disturbing to the public.”

Really? Go on.

Of course if ten percent of the voting machines in some states fail by one vote it could make a considerable difference. And if just a few...well, even Clive can see...

Most famously, in the November 2006 Congressional election in Sarasota, Fla., touch-screen machines recorded an 18,000-person “undervote” for a race decided by fewer than 400 votes.

Here's the bottom line. Until the software in those machines is made public, if you vote on one your vote is being counted by a third party who you do not know and whose count you have no way to observe or verify. And as long as that's true there is really no way you can trust the results.

Also no grammar

“I’m not happy about any of these events,” Federline attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan said when he left a closed-door emergency hearing yesterday afternoon. “There’s no winners here.”

(AP via Boston Herald)

Yeah, like I'm the one to talk. Anyway its nice we have this little break between borrring political events so we can catch up on Britney news.

So who was that woman...?

An obituary on Dec. 19 about the record producer Joel Dorn, using information provided by a spokesman for a record company with which he was affiliated, referred incorrectly to a survivor, Faye Rosen. She was Mr. Dorn’s wife, not his companion.

(NYTimes, Corrections)

Oh thanks, way to make my day

Bring on the jack boots and brown shirts

Go read Spiiderweb™


Spring is right around the corner

And here's proof from our Midwest Bureau, shot in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Philip Compton.

(All rights reserved)

File under More Stuff I Never Finished Reading

If, a year or so back, you had told me that that’s what I would be doing come primary day, I would have politely told you that you’re nuts—there’s no way I could vote for the “maverick” Arizona Senator. So what has happened? How could I possibly be supporting somebody that gets regularly panned by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and others that I respect....

(NYTimes politics blog)

Since 1972, no Iowa winner has become President

A chart from the Boston Globe.

Great moments in science

Women and gay men are likely to be the worst drivers, a new study has shown.

Research has revealed that both perform poorly in tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness when compared to heterosexual men.

(Story from the Telegraph accompanied by a freeway photo captioned "Be afraid: Women or gay men could be behind the wheel of any car.")

But they always get there first because they ask for directions, so it all works out.

Iowa goes away again

To return in four years like some sort of fast-forward Brigadoon. Meanwhile, if the first primary-year event were in, say, New Mexico, the result would have been different, not to mention warmer. Not to mention Utah. Or Alabama. Or, for that matter, Maine. It would be nice, IMO, to start in one of those other states sometime, just for the change of pace. 

What's missing in this picture?


Woohoo! It's perfect!

Day starts with 0, ends same way.

CNN say Obama.

Good night.

Well that didn't take long, did it?

CNN has already called the Republican vote in Iowa for Huckabee. So much for my predictive acumen. And it's only 9:00.

The 3 Ds - Obama, Clinton, and Edwards - are tied, essentially, each with a third of the vote. The odd fraction goes to either Obama or Edwards, depending on whether you're watching CNN or KCCI.

Personally, I'd be delighted if Huckabee goes on to win the R primaries. I'd love to see the Rs crash and burn. But I suspect this little blip will be corrected before too long.

So there's one thing about Iowa, anyway

When they say Win Windows they mean win, well, windows.

(From a link on the web site of KCCI, Des Moines)

Iowa, not that it matters much

It's the Iowa caucus this evening. I don't even feel like I should care. Yeah, I know, blah blah. I still don't.

It's just coming up on 7:30 EST so there are no results yet; I'm predicting Clinton and Romney just because they were always going to win it and - did I mention this? - I don't care. I will have to decide which candidate I'm voting for in the primary here and when I do that, you can pretty much bet, it'll be somebody without the slightest chance of being nominated, ever, for anything. I can't count the number of doors I've knocked on in my day for losers. All of them, by the way, were better than the guys who got elected but nobody ever said this would make sense.

Whatever they think in Iowa, they're welcome to it. It just doesn't matter much to me.

Amazing! A YAME product review!

When it comes to new stuff I'm not a slipcover kind of guy. I don't know what buying a new car is like these days but in days of yore it would always bring in the mail, soon, a catalog from some company that sold all sorts of seat covers guaranteed to keep your car seats looking new. Apparently, such products were much in demand. And some people bought slipcovers for new furniture, too. OK, whatever. I understand about resale value and all that. But I'm not buying stuff to sell, I'm buying stuff to use and I figure, who wants to sit on slipcovers - the time for slipcovers is after the nice new seats are all worn out. Why not enjoy the new seats myself?

So, then, it's a little weird I just bought a slipcover for my iPhone, possibly one of the sexiest, most beautiful objects on the planet. The thing is, handsome though it is, the phone is slippery. And it can be difficult to hold, partly because there's not much of it to grab on to but mostly, I'm guessing, because its slipperiness makes me unconsciously hang on more tightly than I really need to. So I bought an iSkin and it's fine.

The iSkin comes with a lot of extra gizmos and gadgets that will quickly get either lost or tossed. The basic case part is the thing. It fits like it should and adds just enough but just a little bulk and a nice, sticky, secure feel. Plus, it adds a little cushioning against the trauma of setting the darn thing down on a hard desk. And it looks cool (the one I got is all black), even though it's covering up something cooler still.

Cases and covers for iPods and the iPhone are a mixed bag because holster-type cases, the kind you wear on your belt, are a tight fit and the skin-type cover makes the device too big to fit. There are some products that attempt to cover both bases by adding a belt clip to the back of a skin but they all fail, IMO - you have to unclip the whole thing from your belt in order to use it, and then you wind up with the clip in the palm of your hand. The skin-style case is for carrying in a pocket or a bag and has to be removed if you want to wear it on your belt. I have a holster case too and I like it, but I will probably use the iSkin more. And with a skin you can't use a dock any more - it won't fit. You have to use the docking cable directly.

But all in all, in this case, the case works. Unless I change my mind, I like it.

S34RS will 0wn you

If a kid with a scary hacker name did this sort of thing, he'd be arrested. But this is Sears, so who knows what will happen to them. But what should happen is that the anti-spyware companies should treat this as the malware it is, and not ignore it because it's done by a Fortune 500 company.

(Read more at Schneier on Security)

Oh please, please make it stop

Did you see that hockey game Tuesday, the one played outdoors at a Buffalo football stadium, the one romanticizing the face-chapped, teeth-chattering joys of Northerness?

Right. Teeth-chattering joys. Columnist Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times enthuses about this outdoor NHL game...

It was an artistic triumph, with a sport largely left for dead reminding us of its core beauty: players growing up on ponds in the U.S. and Canada, wearing head sleeves and toques, dealing with snow swirling in their faces...

So what if 71,000 history-watchers were reduced to icicles by the overtime period? So what if falling snow left a steady layer of wet stuff that made it difficult to pass or even see the puck? So what if they occasionally tripped on holes in the ice? So what if the game often was stopped for the Zamboni machines, which tried to smooth the mix into a manageable glaze? This was hockey in its natural habitat....

Which is why anyone whose brain isn't frozen solid (Canucks excepted here) plays it indoors. Duh.

Mariotti, you can bet your puck, watched it on TV.

What's the matter with kids today?

Strayer's study, based on three dozen students driving in simulators, found that drivers on cell phones are far more likely to stick behind a slow car in front of them and change lanes about 20 percent less often than drivers not on the phone.

Overall, drivers using cell phones took about 3 percent longer to drive the same highly traffic-clogged route (and about 2 percent longer to drive a medium congested route) than people who were not on the phone.

(Chicago Tribune)

I once watched a woman put makeup on her eyes using the car's rear view mirror while driving 70 mph on Chicago's Eisenhower Expressway. Let's see these phone wimps try that.


George Orwell describes the newest TSA inspection technique:

In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called. (Nineteen Eighty-Four, Part 1, Chapter 5)

(Read more at Boing Boing)

Braincrime next?

Goose egg

It's an exact dead-center 0 on the weather widget. Any sane person would go back to bed.


Metaphorically speaking, Willard's a numbskull

Romney says in a TV ad that the U.S. will see more change in the next 10 years "than in the last 10 centuries." More than since the Dark Ages? More changes than the advent of the printing press, railroads, constitutional democracy, penicillin, electricity, telecommunications and the Internet all put together? We don't think so....

Romney spokesman Matt Rhoades said the candidate didn't mean what he said as a statement of fact. "It's a metaphor about the future," Rhoades told FactCheck.org.


Wouldn't that be undersight?

Little oversight of tunnels under private buildings

(Boston Globe)

On the crime beat in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. -- A 19-year-old Tampa man is facing charges Tuesday after police say he threw eggs at another man.


And in other news...

WELLINGTON, Fla. -- Five family members, who got involved in the arrest process of a relative because of his droopy jeans, spent New Year's Eve behind bars, according to police.


Speaking of Florida, if you haven't read Dave Barry's year in review piece yet, here it is.

They may be a little crazy in Florida but at least they're warm. Yeah, sure, I know, they seem to be worried their oranges will freeze too soon.

Farmers rushed to protect citrus and other crops Tuesday as Florida braced for plunging temperatures, with the governor even lifting certain agricultural regulations as a precaution....

Dive shop operators, too, were looking at potential high winds later in the week and the possibility they could create choppy seas and stir up sand, which affects visibility.

(AP via Raw Story)

Here, I'm more worried about my toes. We're having a nasty spot of cold for the next few days, the weather prophets say. Of course, that makes it easier to keep the oranges frozen, so it's not all bad.


Happy New Year

Get your year off to a good start with our latest entry on the work avoidance list.

Save the bunny.


December 31

December 31, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Noooo! Don't tell us! We might get depressed!

NASA begrudgingly released some results Monday from an $11.3 million federal air safety study it previously withheld from the public over concerns it would upset travelers and hurt airline profits. It published the findings in a format that made it cumbersome for any thorough analysis by outsiders.

(AP via Yahoo! News)


Check-in, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Do not clink on licks

Storm and Nugache are actually Trojans. The Storm creator, for example, sends out millions of spam messages on a semi-regular basis, each containing a link to content on some remote server, normally disguised in a fake pitch for a penny stock, Viagra or relief for victims of a recent natural disaster.

(Scheier on Security)

Or lick on.... Well, you know, whatever. Just don't.

File under Stuff I Really Just Didn't Want to Finish Reading

New York City is suffering from an unprecedented epidemic of blood sucking bed bugs....
But if you're really up for it, the rest is here.

Temporarily, I need a woman

No no, not even for that long. Just long enough to tell me what color shirt I'm wearing. First time I looked at it I thought it was chocolate brown. But then I saw it in the sunlight and it looked blue. Now it looks black. Going with two out of three I'm thinking it might be Navy blue, but as it's a scientifically proven fact only women can actually see Navy blue I'm only guessing here. Maybe I should go to the grocery store or something and just ask around.

PS. She could also sew on a couple of buttons if she has time, but that's optional.
It's the end of the year, I'm told, and I'm still looking for a more versatile blogging solution than Blogger's, although that's not bad. So I'm just making a test post here from Google Docs to see what happens.

Why it's maybe not a great idea to pay too much attention to Iowa

This argument [that Iowa caucus results are "unofficial") has actually been used to float the idea that rigging the Iowa caucus results for the media might not actually be an election crime. Hmm.

(And a whole lot more from BlackBoxVoting.org)

Always assuming, of course, there actually is some place called Iowa.

Year end

Year end, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

And I don't suppose you could have a designated signer either