Saturday, April 23, 2005

Quote of the Day - April 23, 2005

My Siamese is smarter than your honor student.

- bumper sticker

Friday, April 22, 2005

Baby Tigers

Whatever you do, don't let them kneed.

Induced Hibernation

All the fun of cryo without the risk of frostbite. This must be like the stuff River and Simon Tam on Firefly took in Ariel (actually, that trick was used three times in Firefly, though one episode they used it in, "The Message", didn't air). I wonder what hibernation is like? If all of your cells slow down, presumably your brain doesn't work as it normally would, so you might not dream. How long could artificial hibernation last? I doubt it could last years as cryo is suppose to, but a few weeks could be just what someone waiting for a transplant needs. They also suggested this could be used on cancer patients. Would they put patients into hibernation for a couple of hours, just during a radiation or chemo treatment? Intriguing, Captain.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

U.S. Courts Sued for Not Dismissing More Lawsuits

The Bush administrations filed a lawsuits against the United States court systems today, including courts in all fifty states and the federal courts, for not doing more to stop frivolous lawsuits.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan stated, “The court system is out of control. The cost of healthcare and the cost of doing business in general in this country is skyrocketing because of frivolous lawsuits. The court system is not doing enough to dismiss lawsuits with little legal standing before they drain the pocketbooks of law-abiding citizens, including the taxpayers themselves.”

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft said, “It’s like they’re letting these things through just to have something to do or have a good laugh. Don’t they realize there are terrorists out there that they should be prosecuting instead?”

McClellan insisted that passing new laws would not fix the problem. “The courts would merely find a way to interpret their way out of following the law as intended. We have to sue them, fight fire with fire, to get the message across.”

Reached for comment, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid expressed disbelief at the White House’s latest move. “It’s like the system of checks and balances put into place by the Founding Fathers is being tossed aside like a dirty napkin. Military tribunals for “enemy combatants”, eliminating filibusters for judicial appointees, overriding state court decisions with emergency legislation, and now taking on the court system in it’s own territory… Why didn’t we think of this stuff when we were in control in the early ‘90’s? No wonder we lost the election. The Republicans are simply craftier than we are.”

A federal judge is currently considering the case and should decide whether to dismiss it or let it continue within the week.

Trauma Society

Check out George Will's article today and Joel Achenbach's response. Mommy! Daddy! Stop fighting! I feel an attack of PTSD coming on...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Quote of the Day: April 20, 2005

I need an alarm system in my house
So I know when people are creepin about
These people are freakin me out (these days)

- "I Just Wanna Live" by Good Charlotte

Hello, new viewers. Guen ta vid ye.... Er, good to see you.

CGF, Revisited

For my non-VTACO readers (hi, Anonymous Jason) who have heard me talk of the Christian Goat Fund, Jody has posted some of his flyers from that campaign on Polyscifi.

Airborne Ranger

This is completely random, but the song's in my head. Maybe I can get it out by writing it down. File this under "unique childhood memories".

When I went on walks with my dad when I was a kid, he used to sing this little marching song (tune? chant? Help me out here, Walt...) when he would jog:

I want to be an airborne ranger (I want to be an airborn ranger)
Livin' a life of heck and danger (Livin' a life of heck and danger)
Airborne... Ranger... Heck and... Danger.

He was drafted during Vietnam, but spent most of him time in the military in Kentucky where he took a bunch of correspondence courses and learned how to fix cars (up until a few years ago, we were still using one of the Heathkit TVs he built). So it's possible he picked this up in basic training. I have no idea if this is a cleaned up version of an actual marching song or what, but whatever it is, it gets stuck in my head every time I jog.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Yoda's brother elected Pope

After an unusually short conclave, Yoda's brother was elected as the new Pope today. Reached for comment at his home on Degoba, the old Jedi master said "Proud, I am. Strong and certain leadership, he will provide."

(pictures blatantly ripped from and some message board site)

Update: This just in! Yoda's brother is really Senator Palpatine!

Monday, April 18, 2005

What English Do You Speak?

Here's my profile.

Your Linguistic Profile:

60% General American English

20% Dixie

20% Yankee

0% Midwestern

0% Upper Midwestern

Though, honestly, there were a couple of questions where I wanted to give multiple answers (like, I'll say "soda" or "Coke"). There was one where none of the answers looked familiar (an easy class is an easy class... I don't have another name for it). There's nothing in there about "nor do I" versus "neither do I". I am continually in search of where I got "nor do I". My sister says it, too, but my parents don't. Best I can figure, she mimiced me. But where did I get it? Too much Star Trek, I tell ya.

Also, my accent changes depending on who I'm talking to. I'll even change terminology if I'm familiar enough with the terminology of the given accent. But the true weirdness? I write a bit British. Ever notice how I spell favourite and behaviour? British accents are also the most contagious. The Girl Scout camp I went to as a kid always had counselors from England, Scotland, Australia, and I think we had one from South Africa. I had to fight so hard not to adopt their accents.

Which reminds me, I still need to finish that book on the English language that I started about 2 years ago...

Run-off Elections

While I'm on the subject of politics, let's talk about election reform. [Looks at watch] Okay, we're forever away from the next election. Which is why I won't be drowned out by thousands of other election reform advocates! I'm not talking about new methods of counting ballots. I mean a reform of methods.

The current system lends itself not only to a two-party system, but to having the extremes of those two parties running for office. As it is, any number of people can run. But if more than two run, you run the risk of a split vote – TR might have had a third term and Bush I a second term if they had had only one opponent. This is one of the reasons third parties have a hard time surviving. Few are willing to waste their vote on a long shot, so they pick between the two highest profile candidates.

But the election itself is the last step in a long process. Each party has primaries in which members of their own party (and, depending on the state, anyone who cares to participate) vote for potential nominees. Then, they hold a convention where the final nominee is chosen. Because the candidates start out running for a party nomination, they tend to try to appeal to the extremes of their own party. Democrats lean left and Republicans lean right. Then, once a candidate is nominated, they rush back to the center in an attempt to appeal to everyone else.

I say, turn the primaries into run-offs. Let anyone from any party run in the first primary (and, while we’re at it, let’s move them all to one day – staggering the primary dates gives undue power to the first few states). Shave off the bottom third of the candidates, then have another run-off about the time the conventions would have been. Shave off the bottom third again and have another run-off if you feel like. Now take the top two and have your final election.

By having a true run-off (as opposed to an instant run-off, which would probably be too confusing for voters anyway), you still get the vetting process that primaries provide, but candidates start out running for President instead of “top ranked member” of a given party. The question becomes, however, how does the Electoral College fit in? Does it only matter in the final face off? Or do you consider it for every run-off (thus further complicating the situation)? I don’t propose getting rid of the Electoral College. It’s there for a reasons that are still relevant today (perhaps more so now that cities have become even larger and therefore more likely to dominate a popular vote). But the extremism in both parties (which, relative to other countries isn’t that extreme, but still) is frustrating at best, destructive at worst. Something needs to be done.

Political Rant 1 of 5,497

My apologies for blatant inaccuracies and liberal/conservative stereotypes. It’s a rant. I don’t care to do research just now.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this: politicians in Washington need to learn how to play politics again. Politics is not mudslinging, name calling, pushing, and shoving. It is the art of tactfully implying your opponent doesn’t know what they’re talking about out of one side of your mouth while convincing your opponent to do things your way with the other. It’s all about subtlety – something politics has been lacking as of late. The Democrats are being a bunch of sore losers who can’t seem to pick their battles or articulate what would make them act less disruptive. Republicans, on the other hand, are ungracious winners trying to change the rules to their liking and even to make it harder for the Democrats to play the game.

Democrats: If you’re gonna pick a fight, don’t do it just to pick a fight, or just to annoy the guys who just kicked your sorry butts in the last election. You want to know why you lost the freakin’ election? You can’t come up with your own ideas, that’s why. You never got past the “anybody but Bush” mentality to actually come up with a plan you could execute should anyone actually start listening to you. Don’t like Bush’s Social Security plan? Instead of insisting it’s fine the way it is (which it isn’t), come up with your own fix. That’s where negotiations start. I have an idea, you have an idea, now let’s talk and maybe reach a compromise. Don’t like Bush’s judicial nominees? Have some very specific reasons for filibustering each one or sit down and speak with your vote. Filibustering is a last resort, not an excuse for a public temper tantrum. What can Republicans do to convince you to stop? If they present three new candidates out of the six you’re protesting, will you sit down? Two new candidates? Know the answer because someone is bound to ask it eventually.

Republicans: Hooray. You’re the majority. Congradu-freakin’-lations. This doesn’t mean you get to stop listening to the minority opinion. Don’t go changing the rules just because they’re “inconvenient” for you because you will not always be in the majority – and you speed the demise of your majority by pulling bonehead moves. Changing ethics rules back to the way they were before you changed them and disallowing fillibusters for judicial nominations makes you look like a kid who won a game and now wants to rig the rules so you can stay on top. But it looks downright suspicious to the voting public, so it may backfire on you. So first, get rid of DeLay. It’s not like he’s the first House majority leader to be taken down by ethical questions, and he won’t be the last. He’s doing you more harm than good at this point. What of loyalty? Well, give him a nice cushy committee seat away from prying media eyes. Next, if the democratic filibusters are doing so much damage, say so. The constitution says the President "shall have the power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate..." to make these appointment. Saying the President is entitled to a simple yes/no vote ignores the "advice" part. This is where the Democrats rule over you. Whether the MSM is liberal biased or not, the Democrats know how to use the media to their advantage (maybe they learned it from their friends in Hollywood, who knows). But you need to learn to do the same. And I don’t mean the Bush method of going over the head of the media. Meet the press on its on territory. Go on Fox, MSNBC, CNN, Meet the Press, whatever, and politely point out that the Democrats have no legitimate reason to filibuster Bush’s nominees. And don't pull this "they hate religion" junk, either. Be the adults. Let the Democrats pull themselves down. It’ll take time, but as soon as DeLay is out of the picture, it’ll be the biggest political news story out there. Push those poll numbers against the Democrats. It may be painful short term, but you’ll benefit long term.

Both: Stop “energizing the base”. Represent your constituents first, your party second. By listening to the twenty people on the far left or the far right who have lots of money and influence, you’re alienating everyone else. Remember that we all live in the same country and living together involves compromise. We can’t just divorce each other. We’ve tried that already. It’s messy.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

This Call May Be Monitored

An article on IEEE's site about talks about software used to monitor the emotional state of customers and customer service agents during a call. There is also word recognition software that can tell when a customer mentions a competitor or says they know where they can get a better deal. Unfortunately, this method of monitoring customer service (like many surveys I've gotten regarding customer service - Compaq didn't give me any surveys) seems to be focused on making sure individual employees are doing their job as opposed to fixing systemic problems that individuals have no control over. But it has the potential to help fix systemic problems if companies are willing to use it that way.