Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

happy news!

August 24, 2007

progressive is the most favorable ideological term in america!

party at my place

August 14, 2007

beer and chips… oh heck, i’ll go buy a keg!

oooh, great printable invites.

and we’re back…

July 18, 2007

sorry for the break…  (apologizing to my reading audience of – me).  its just that, being in the amazing and beautiful land of montana… i didn’t really want to spend much time inside.

alas, i head to the east coast in a month and so i’m acclimating by spending time inside, and reading various and insulting online articles to get my blood pressure up.

654 965

October 17, 2006

the estimated death toll from our invasion of iraq.

if you follow the links to the report, the methodology is absolutely solid.  maybe they’ll find another way to dismiss this as democratic nonsense intended to skew the election (seriously, is that their best response to everything?  sure, the republicans are guilty, but… the other guy tattled?)

countdown to the election

October 14, 2006

steven colbert’s advice for candidates

on healthcare:
democrats: Tell story of poor, uninsured mother of three to support your push for Universal Coverage.
republicans: Tell story of Tiny Tim to support your push for Christmas Miracles.

on firing up the base:
democrats:  Get Clintons on TV as much as possible.
republicans:  Get Clintons on TV as much as possible.

on jobs:
democrats: Support honest crusaders for workers’ rights, like the Teamsters.
republicans: “I hear the Army’s hiring…”

win $1mm for being a geek

October 12, 2006

as noted on data mining, netflix has announced a challenge to improve their movie recommendation system by at least 10%, with a $1mm award.  (which makes solid economic sense for them, as noted at the long tail.

at least as of dec 2002, there is one way to make an improvement:

while Netflix stocks Paramount movies, it doesn’t promote them in any way. No matter how many Mel Gibson romantic comedies you rate highly, What Women Want will never be recommended to you. The Netflix effect? What Women Want was the second-most rented film of 2001 overall but didn’t even make the top 100 on Netflix.

allow me to lament for a moment that facebook’s database isn’t public.  man, what i could do without these silly restrictions.

while browsing i ran into theory-edge, which features an extremely cool list of links… including one that led me to simpson’s paradox.

shiny steven

October 2, 2006

found on pandagon… which (for once) had something that didn’t make me angry.   limiting this to 8 entries was terribly hard, sorry if you didn’t make the cut.  petty grievances – always funny.

there is now an unfortunately high probability i won’t be getting anything done at work today, or at home later.

i highly recommend the ‘last 100‘ section… as of posting, it features one guy with 7 entries of ‘ruffy’ and one ‘Explosive Diarrhea’.  and more than one person listed ‘Non-Baryonic Dark Matter’ next to ‘Scarlett Johansson’.  which, yeah, i totally see.

reality has a well known liberal bias

September 29, 2006

by now, i suppose almost everyone has read this Intel-Dump post, “National Insecurity”, on how dire our national security situation has become.  more interesting than the article, though, are the comments.  the whole tread is fascinting… (crooked timber labels the event “Like Pasting feathers together and hoping for a duck”) the commenter (Diogenes) is eventually reduced by the force of facts to support the iraq war with a defense of torture.  yeah.  brilliant.

geek-off, phaser optional

September 8, 2006

last night at dinner, my friend called me a nerd every 5-10 minutes.  this is not uncommon.  my poor roommates have the same response cycle, generally alongside some comment like “i really don’t care that you’re doing an end of history markov chain as a fukuyama spoof, i just want to watch football”.  my attempt to ‘relate’ to football stats by attempting to aggregate and test ecological inference techniques doesn’t do much better.

all the same, it seems i’m doomed.  i knew i should have spent more time posting about math… nothing hurts more than missing a geek-off.  the challenge was issued a couple days ago.  some basic questions have been outlined at questionable authority.  (the cutoff is 1/3, i hit 12/25… i’m not going to lie, thats a poor showing.)

man, i’m no good at this nerd-off.  79%, and a mid-level nerd.

in my defense, however…

  • sitting outside on a perfectly beautiful day, i noticed black spots on the bottom of the fountain i was sitting by, and decided to calculate the size of the eddies that generated them.  the only thing notable about this event was my disturbing lack of graphing paper at a critical moment.
  • i know more computer programming languages than human ones
  • i played both the star trek and the star wars collectable card games… while maintaining my magic deck.  oh, and if they invented a science collectable card game, i’d be down
  • i’m currently looking up data documenting procedures – largely for fun.

Books, my love

September 3, 2006

Wacky posts are best on Sundays, I guess.  Book memes, however, are tons of fun

A book that changed my life:  Going for something profound?  The RepublicThe Art of Happiness?… oh!  of course!  Critique of Pure Tolerance.  Changed the way I view the world (provoked a minor emotional breakdown in the process), but I’m the healthier for it.

A book I’ve read more than once:  Patriot Games by Tom Clancy.  I could have taken the easy way out, but I’m not going to lie, I love the Jack Ryan series.  I’m generally reading at least one of them.

A book I would take with me if I were stuck on a desert island:  if I can take a collection, the Complete Works of Shakespeare.  There is something in there for all moods, and I figure I’d want something insightful into the nature of humanity.

A book that made me laugh: The Man Who Loved Only Numbers – my poor roommates had to put up with me laughing at math jokes all through a biography of Paul Erdos.  I keep telling others to read it.

A book that I wish had been written:  My own.  Or, if someone else feels up to it, an excellent copy introductory textbook to American Political Science (advanced level).  Something that can serve, as in biology, to really introduce the field.

A book that I wish had never been written:  I’m a fan of JS Mill, you have to be kidding.

A book I’ve been meaning to read:  Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Sean Carroll.to me right now… taunting me.  It is actually sitting next I’m also thinking of the Diskworld series, but not sure if I want to take all that time.

I’m currently reading: The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy.  Four Essays on Liberty by Isiah Berlin.  A Solution to the Ecological Inference Problem by Gary King.  And I just finished Rousseau’s Dog by Edmonds and Eidinow.  And people think this blog is chaotic…

tragedy, farce, hangover

August 28, 2006

some time ago, i linked to an article by father gregory v coyne (then director of the vatican observatory) arguing that intelligent design actually diminished God to being “too small and paltry”.  it was impressive, well thought out, and led me to reconsider my longstanding dislike of the catholic church.

so, of course, it turns out he’s been replaced.

and the current pope is looking into embracing creationism reborn, intelligent design.  perhaps the church would like to revisit that matter of the planets.  you see, pluto wasn’t the only one THEY wanted off the list…

wish i had said that #103

August 23, 2006

“If by ‘candy,’ you mean ‘ancient forbidden evil,’ then yes, I told you not to put it in your mouth.”

-scifi channel

wish i had said that #101

August 8, 2006

“hate the game, not the player”

its practically my political philosophy.

525,600 minutes

August 8, 2006

lyrics for days like this. alternate title: these are a few of my favorite things

To days of inspiration
Playing hookey, making
Something out of nothing
The need to express-
To communicate,
To going against the grain,
Going insane, going mad
To loving tension, no pension
To more than one dimension,
To starving for attention,
Hating convention, hating pretension

did i mention i do community development finance? please let me not be benny.

Hello world!

July 22, 2006

Woo! falling_upstairs is migrating over from blogger, we lost an understore, but now – at last – tags. Oh, this makes me happy

this message brought to you by facts

July 20, 2006
From C&J on DailyKos:

CHEERS to breaking the spell. (via Raw Story) Congressman Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) on Iraq June 15:

“Members, now is not the time to go wobbly. Let’s give victory a chance.”

Congressman Gil Gutknecht on Iraq after actually visiting the place:

“The condition there is worse than I expected. I have to be perfectly candid: Baghdad is a serious problem. […] Baghdad is worse today than it was three years ago. […] We learned it’s not safe to go anywhere outside of the Green Zone any part of the day. […] All of the information we receive sometimes from the Pentagon and the State Department isn’t always true. […] What I think we need to do more is withdraw more Americans”

Welcome to the reality, kiddo. Ain’t it a kick??

and this is exactly why the bush administration has to censor all the facts, and filter out the bad stuff. this is why the media’s seeming inability to get behind the story, and do substantial analysis, this is why that matters. a congressman shouldn’t have to go to iraq and see reality firsthand to get the facts.

lieberman’s camp

July 7, 2006
reading through the comments at dailykos (yes, thats how slow today has been), i found this comment

[lieberman is] kind of like a train wreck that you shouldn’t look at but that you stare at anyway. He went from being a decent, honorable senator (even though I disagreed with some of his positions) to someone who so valued “collegiality” that he sacrificed his principles in order to cozy up to the powerful to, now, someone who’s desperately grasping to keep his power. It’s almost Shakespearian.

this touches on why the lamont-lieberman story has such a blogfrenzy around it. lieberman’s story is the story of far too many dc-dems (and repubs). the particular reason is always just a bit different (sen clinton spent a bit too much time thinking about politically smart, and not enough on principles – powell with loyalty, so on). but the powerful in the party lack a principled core. those who can fill that gap [obama] meet with general praise.

i guess the general objection to this is that there aren’t enough liberals to elect a president, so candidates have to be politically savvy. (and spawn a small army of consultants). in CT, of course, nobody can make that claim. the CT senators should be some of the most liberal in the country.

ny state supreme court ruling

July 7, 2006
From the decision:

First, the Legislature could rationally decide that, for the welfare of children, it is more important to promote stability, and to avoid instability, in opposite-sex than in same-sex relationships. Heterosexual intercourse has a natural tendency to lead to the birth of children; homosexual intercourse does not. Despite the advances of science, it mains true that the vast majority of children are born as a result of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman, and the Legislature could find that this will continue to be true. The Legislature could also find that such relationships are all too often casual or temporary. It could find that an important function of marriage is to create more stability and permanence in the relationships that cause children to be born. It thus could choose to offer an inducement — in the form of marriage and its attendant benefits — to opposite-sex couples who make a solemn, long-term commitment to each other.

The Legislature could find that this rationale for marriage does not apply with comparable force to same-sex couples. These couples can become parents by adoption, or by artificial insemination or other technological marvels, but they do not become parents as a result of accident or impulse. The Legislature could find that unstable relationships between people of the opposite sex present a greater danger that children will be born into or grow up in unstable homes than is the case with same-sex couples, and thus that promoting stability in oppositesex relationships will help children more. This is one reason why the Legislature could rationally offer the benefits of marriage to opposite-sex couples only.

so if i understand this, they’re saying:

(a) babies need stability
(b) straight-people-sex is the dominant means of procreation
(c) straight people sexual relationships are too casual
(d) to ensure stability for baby-making partnerships, the legislature established the institution of marriage
(e) this doesn’t apply to gays because
(1) queer relationships don’t make babies by accident
(2) if a gay couple has babies, its planned, and the relationship is already stable

going that way, i think, is a kind of scorched-earth victory. it certainly deprives marriage of meaning, if thats all it is. imagine if “Four Weddings and a Funeral” adopted this attitude to marriage. and by leaving aside the richness of marriage, the court opinion really fails to meaningfully enagage the debate. which is sad, because thats one of the primary functions of the courts.

you have to wonder about the level of scrutiny employed here. as determinations of fact by the legislature, they don’t survive critical thinking. there are to many “but what about…” moments. but its not even that the NY leg said this, the court is inventing justifications. “the legislature could have found…”. this is several layers below the weakest scrutiny in conlaw. its bad jurisprudence.

instead, one could imagine the court demanding the legislature give a justification for the law, one that passes at least intermediate scrutiny, forcing the legislature on the record, on the issue. my bet is this would inevitably open the way for court-remedy civil unions (i honestly don’t understand objections to civil unions). and if we could get some thoughtful people to discuss this, honestly, i’d like to think a solution would present itself.

fair-minded words

July 7, 2006
obama has always struck me as a powerful speaker. that or he at least has a great speechwriter. my only disappointment has been his inability to translate this into equally impressive actions. his call to renewal keynote on the 28th did not fail to impress, of course, but the best part was the letter he quoted:

I sense that you have a strong sense of justice…and I also sense that you are a fair minded person with a high regard for reason…Whatever your convictions, if you truly believe that those who oppose abortion are all ideologues driven by perverse desires to inflict suffering on women, then you, in my judgment, are not fair-minded….You know that we enter times that are fraught with possibilities for good and for harm, times when we are struggling to make sense of a common polity in the context of plurality, when we are unsure of what grounds we have for making any claims that involve others…I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.

the writer was responding to a section on obama’s website that said he would fight “right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose”. strong words. party words. they’d probably get cheerleaded on dailykos. i’ve probably said them a hundred times in conversations with others. i know i’ve written more than a few articles along those lines as well. [goodness, i just thought about this blog.] i’ve certainly mocked the anti-choicers more than once.

but responding to the letter, obama took down those words. and felt a certain sense of shame.

i have to say, i do too.

[update: i went through the archives, and found a link to this. i can’t say which is the better path to walk. i’ll puzzle, and hopefully add an entry later]

right wing humor

June 8, 2006

yesterday i’m in line for x-men III (for the second time) with a republican and a dem. we get to discussing john stewart ripping bill bennett apart on gay marriage. nothing bennet said made any sense – america stands for progress like no other nation has in history (yey), but we should outlaw gay marriage because nobody else has done it (huh?). bennet’s worst argument was the comparison to polygamy. (since the question is really whether these are human relationships or mere fettishes).

so the republican starts arguing this raises the question whether you can marry your parrot. and the gay guy next to us jumps in, thinking this was a joke. sadly, while the argument is laughable, the sentiment is sincere.

so i got to wondering – do they have a sense of humor? to test, are these jokes? check it out.

anchor babies and toddlercide
legal follies

maybe its time to speak only via satire