Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Seriously. The Election.

There are now only 8 shopping days until Election Day, and holiday spirit is in the air. Friend turns against friend, and fan page against fan page. As always, people seem to think their side is the only remotely reasonable one, and people supporting the other side must be crazy.

But all this rancor is counter-productive (except for some really funny videos), so, as a public service, I’d like to remind everyone of the following:

  1. Both parties are full of it. Really. No matter what they say, they are both basically in the business of hustling for contributions, and that means sucking up to the organizations that can really pour it on. And now, thanks to the Supreme Court, that means every corporation, with no limits. A corporation’s priority is to make as much money as it can, and now the political parties’ priority is to help them do it.
  2. All candidates are full of it. But I’m not that cynical. I’m sure some of them actually believe what they’re saying, that they’re fundamentally virtuous people who just have to make a few compromises, like building a pipeline to move environmentally disastrous oil sands oil across the U. S. because hey, Exxon Mobile can really heap the simoleons on our campaign. See item #1.
  3. Nobody knows how to fix the economy. It’s true. Nobody. The Democrats obviously don’t, and the Republicans don’t even think it’s broken. This is what they’ve been trying to achieve for over 30 years. It’s called “starving the beast.” Google it.
  4. Campaign ads, and especially quotes taken out of context by the other side, are always meaningless. Everybody’s looking for ways to make the other side look bad. Of course they’re going to slice and dice every random comment a candidate ever made to try to make it sound damning. It doesn’t matter what these guys say because a) their jobs are not about talking, and b) they’re all lying anyway. (See item #2.) When a campaign ad starts, hit the Mute button.
  5. Yes, the welfare state is expensive, but so are cars. You don’t hear anyone talking about dismantling roads. 
So, if all this is true, does it really make a difference which side wins? In a word, YES. Yes, it absolutely does, for one very important reason.

There’s one big distinction between these parties. The Republican Party embraces ignorance! That’s the deal breaker. This party actively condones and encourages the denial of biology and meteorology. They welcome the evolution deniers and climate change deniers and rape deniers as if these were equally valid opinions. They’re not! Plain and simple. Ignorance is not just a different opinion. And it’s not something to be proud of.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Debate Highlights

For those of you who missed the recent presidential debates, or simply want to enjoy them again, we present selected highlights.



Romney: We’re opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother.
Moderator: Let’s move on.
Romney: Wait. I have to respond to my last statement.
Moderator: Governor Romney, you agreed to these rules.
Romney: Why are you attacking me instead of focussing on the issues?

Romney: Of course corporations are people. When I was at Bain, we bought and sold them just like congressmen.

Obama: Earlier, you took a position to the far right. Now we see you’re moving back to center.
Romney: This is where the TV people told me to stand.
Obama: I’m talking about your policies.
Romney: So am I.

Moderator: Gentlemen, we've seen a number of mass shootings in schools, in movie theaters. Don't you think it's finally time to take some serious action to control guns?
Romney: You see, we don't need more teachers. We just need to ensure that our existing teachers are better armed.
Moderator: Mr. President?  Mr. President?
Obama: I'm sorry. Could you repeat the question?

Romney: As I've said repeatedly, the President's biggest strategic mistake is revealing his timetable for withdrawing from Afghanistan.
Moderator: So you would not commit to a deadline?
Romney: Oh, we'll be out of there by 2014. Absolutely. I'm just not going to announce that.

Obama: Governor Romney, you said that we should just let Detroit go bankrupt.
Romney: No I didn't.
Obama: Governon Romney, we have copies of the New York Times op-ed piece in which you said that.
Romney: Why are you attacking me, instead of focussing on the issues?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

HPL

In an earlier post, I compared some of the magic in the Harry Potter stories with technology that's available today. It occurred to me that the best use of this overlap would be to implement a computer programming language whose built-in operators are spells from the Harry Potter books. We will call this, naturally, HPL (Harry Potter Language). As I first step, I'm proposing the following:

CommandEffect
AccioDownload file
AlohomoraEnable access
Avada KadavraCtrl-Alt-Del
ConfundusDisplay engineer-written help message
EngorgioFill available memory.
Expecto PatronumLaunch a new process
ExpelliarmusEject CD
Imperiosudo
LegilimensShow stack trace
LumosBrighten screen
ObliviateDelete
Patrificus TotalisFreeze computer1
Prior IncantatoUndo
RiddikulusCan be substituted for any program written in HPL
Wingardium LeviosaUpload file

1Redundant on Windows systems.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pre-Game Show


Just as thrill-seekers take up extreme sports for the excitement of putting their lives at risk, Mitt Romney, a serious contender for Most Boring Candidate of the Year, has found a way to relieve the monotony by committing near fatal gaffes. Of course, neither he nor the President are up for any charisma awards. They both lack the winking wit of Bill Clinton, or even the Gomer Pyle gosh-iness of George W. Bush. So how will they manage to entertain us during the debates?

Perhaps they will resort to discussing issues. In that event, we want you to be prepared. So here is a sneak peek at likely topics for the upcoming debates.

The Economy - We’re all familiar with this one. Obama wants to improve the economy by investing in our future. Romney, like any good corporate executive, would deal with it like a corporate executive.

The Middle East - Given the turmoil in the Middle East, and the association with terrorism, this is a very hot topic. Obama will stabilize the Middle East by investing in our future. Romney, in contrast, would deal with it like a corporate executive.

The Environment - This issue has remained on the front burner, despite the fact that most Americans have forgotten what it means. Obama will address our environmental concerns by investing in our future. Romney will solve our environmental issues like a corporate executive.

Wealth Distribution - We’re waiting to see if this actually comes up, given the lingering vestiges of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Obama will, of course, invest in our future. Romney … well, you know the drill.

Hmmm. Maybe they could learn to juggle.