Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Make sure you try all the apps - word, paint, shutdown, etc.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
An interesting video from moveon.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Russia to US: Pot Kettle Black
Putin's re-election has stirred even more doubts about the viability of a Russian Democracy. Despite abuses of government resources, media bias and ballot stuffing, all observed by European organizations, Putin's not ready to have members of the Bush administration tell him what fair election practices are.
Secretary of State Powell had this to say, ""Russians have to understand that to have full democracy of the kind that the international community will recognize, you've got to let candidates have all access to the media that the president has," Mr. Powell told "Fox News Sunday."
To which Putin responded, "No one has a right to think that if they criticize others, they cannot be criticized themselves," he said, adding, "Nearly four years ago we watched in bewilderment how the United States electoral system suffered glitches."
In another article, he goes even further, "Many so-called developed democracies have a lot of problems with democracy, including in their own electoral procedures," Putin said. "Almost four years ago we were amazed to see the American electoral system fail."
Hmmm, if that's not Putin telling the pot to stop calling the kettle black I don't know what is.
Maybe this (which is perhaps more appropriately a candidate for calling for people who live in glass houses to stop throwing stones"): Putin's Cheif of Staff Dmitry Kozak says Russian voters "do not need anybody's advice" and added, "Russia will keep a close eye on this year's presidential elections in the United States."
Bush of course played good cop, personally congratulating Putin, and McClellan, White House Press Secretary, said Bush emphasized Mr. Putin had "an opportunity to deepen Russia's commitment to reform — market-based reform and democratic reform."
Oh yeah, and don't forget Bush said in 2001 "I looked (Putin) in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul."
Polygamy Ok, Homosexuality Not
This article states that a bloc of 50 Islamic States (backed by the Vatican) is trying to put an end to Kofi Annan's plan to grant benefits to partners of gay employees. Annan plans to recognize any gay marriage that is recognized it's country of origin, he also plans to extend support to those engaged in civil unions. Interestingly enough, the UN currently allows polygamous employees to split their spousal benefits among a number of wives.
Oakland Tribune Article
From my favorite political reporter at the Oakland Tribune.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Extra Credit for Voting
Forget bribing teens to bring in Kleenex to make up for education cuts, bribe them to vote against them!
See this recent proposal by outgoing State Senator John Vasconcellos, who wants teens to vote.
I'm not sure how Vasconcellos came up with his calculations - 14 year olds get 1/4 of a vote, 16 year olds get 1/2 a vote.
In my experience, 14 year olds and 16 year olds have pretty much the same level of sophistication, in many cases it's equivalent to that of 18 and 21 year olds.
I do think it's an interesting idea, however, to encourage young people to become more involved in politics. And in fact, at age 14 I was definitely a sales tax paying, public transportation using citizen. At 16, I worked 20 hours or more a week - paying a fair amount of income tax, gas tax, sales tax, not to mention social security.
If you look at the most recent ballot measures 2 of the 4 directly affect 16 year olds - school bonds and increased bridge tolls. Budget fights among our elected officials continuously revolve around school funds. Politicians pontificate incessantly about "the future." Should we let the future have some say?
Most importantly, however, is, I think, the issue of getting young people involved. Vasconcellos is perhaps taking the cigarette company approach - get 'em hooked early! The older they get the less likely they are to start. When it comes to voting, this may very well be the case. As a 14 year old I had much more free time than I did as an 18 year old college student. I was more active in politics, locally and nationally. Many times I actually had to accompany my mom to the polls after work.
Teenagers, simply because they are required to attend school, are more likely to have a strong sense of community. They see the same teachers everyday in a setting where they can discuss at length the issues affecting them. High School seniors in California take Civics/Government, yet much of what they learn is not immediately applicable through voting. It's quite possible that our teenagers could be the most educated voters in the electorate.
The opposition states teens can more easily be fooled. Republican Ray Haynes has this to say, "There's a reason why 14-year-olds and 16-year-olds don't vote. They are not adults. They are not mature enough. They are easily deceived by political charlatans."
"They are not adults?" Thanks for that insight Mr. Haynes! Words of wisdom undoubtedly gained in your adulthood.
Political charlatans? Like who? Arnold? George W? Surely the existance of these charlatans (I'll let Haynes name names) means that they are currently fooling some adults. Our current electorate was fooled into believing Bush's tax cut for the rich was going to help the economy. Kids will be the first to tell you that a tax cut for lower income brackets, e.g. themselves, will result in increased spending.
I say bring 'em on in. What's the worst these kids can do? Elect a movie star into office?
Monday, March 08, 2004
Grades for Sale
I thought we were well past offering extra credit for classroom monetary contributions or the equivalent. Apparently, Cupertino and Palo Alto are still living in the dark ages. This story was run here in the San Jose Mercury, and on local news stations. There was no mention of discrimination on NBC local news, and just a brief mention in this article. A teacher says she will allow a student to write two paragraphs if they don't have the money - somehow I think this is more difficult than ordering mom to pick up some kleenex at the store, or asking your parents to bring home some latex gloves from their medical practice. Even the teacher admits this.
"``In six years of teaching, I've got to tell you I think I've read two to three of those papers -- total,'' McElwee said. It's probably easier for students to ``just raid their mom's pantry.'' "
I'm pretty disgusted by this. I know there's a budget crunch (I thought Arnold would help with this) but I truly believe if the teachers appealed directly to the parents, they'd get the kleenex and the latex gloves they needed. Let's get a little more creative here. Try asking local merchants. How about starting a campaign - teens for tissues! I'll donate a box if they make it easy online.
If they want the kids to do the work, then set a goal for the whole class - ten boxes of tissue donated total equals extra credit for everyone. Twenty boxes equals one free late pass for EVERYONE. How hard is this?
The best part is that the teachers who engage in this accuse the teachers who don't of being theives. From the article,
"Teachers who offer the incentive say it's the easiest way to stock up on often overlooked school necessities -- items that teachers regularly whip out their own wallets to buy. One South Bay teacher says colleagues who don't offer extra points for supplies sometimes swipe tissue boxes from those who do."
Ironically enough, one teacher is said to have BEEN creative in acquiring tissue. His imagination led him so far as to engage in guess what? Thievery.
"This year, Harker English teacher Mark Mitchell went with the extra-credit option for tissue. Before that, he resorted to another creative tactic.
``I used to steal them from the office,'' Mitchell admitted, thinking back a few years to when he taught at The King's Academy, a Sunnyvale private school."
Sunday, March 07, 2004
CNN tonight will air “Life Inside the Dean Campaign” at 8pm. I’m curious. I’ll watch. Especially after having been on the receiving end of Dean’s end of campaign email barrage, which in a lot of ways, was a metaphor for all of the things that were so right (standing up for what you believe, bringing people back to politics) and so wrong (fragmented organization, inexperienced workers, no central command, and a general “conflction” based perhaps on the inability to meld front runner status and the accompanying politics with off beat support base) with the campagin.
Sometimes when a guy gets dumped (or even a girl) he pretty much freaks out and a) will do anything he can to get the girl (or dude) back or b) spends lots of time espousing the woes of a dumpee or finally c) promotes a new self to show why it's ok he was dumped and why the relationship was in some way, shape, or form, useful.
Many will, in fact, do all of the above. As did Governor Dean.
He lost. Let's face it. He lost. One on his mailing list wouldn't expect too much communication after Wisconsin - maybe a rudimentary "Thanks" or perhaps, a "Help! I'm out of cash!" (Although, in Dean's case, the latter seemed unlikely considering they’d raised a LOT of money.)
Dean started off his post-campaign correspondence with an email deceivingly titled “Thank You.” Really, it should have more appropriately been labeled, “Jilted techies Jilt Dean,” as it is one of the worst peices of writing I've seen in a while, and I’m assuming someone wrote it on behalf of the man himself.
"As the fight moves forward, I have some things that I specifically want to ask of you." Seems okay. From this line, one would expect to be told three things he or she needed to do, three discrete tasks, directed “specifically” by the man himself. In short, three things to get on immediately.
Well not quite. Task one seemed viable, "First, keep active in the primary. We are still on the ballots…" Okay, so he wants us to vote for him anyway. Definitely doable. Smart? I’m not sure, but he’s giving orders here so we'll go with it. The next task wasn’t quite actionable. "Secondly, we will convert Dean for America into a new grassroots organization, and I hope you stay involved." Stay involved – what should I do exactly? That’s kind of general. Finally, the third “task” was simply an observation. "Third, there have been a lot of people who have decided to run for
office locally as a result of this campaign." To his credit, he followed it with this line, "I encourage you to run for
office and support candidates like you who run for office. " No action items here unless you’re one of probably at most 1000 who is running for office. Thanks for taking the time out to get specific with your requests, Governor.
(Read – we got dumped but we can still get back together! Or read – I’m not sure what’s going to happen now that we got dumped, I’m just getting comfortable with the feeling that I got dumped and in doing so I need to share this with you)
The thank you email goes on to further lose it’s way in discussing "change."
“Change is hard work. Change does not happen simply because you go to a rally and simply because you make phone calls -- and I know how hard everybody has worked. But change is a process that you can never give up on.”
(Read – we screwed up but we can make it better second time around if we just stay together!)
So, how do we continue on with this process of change? Should we stop going to rallies? He knows how hard everyone worked making calls, did they screw up? Were they not supposed to be making those calls? If change is hard work but it doesn't simply happen because you work hard then what's missing?
Next paragraph is even weirder.
"Change is the state of America and change is the state of humankind. The history of humanity is that determined people overcome obstacles. It is natural for people to resist, but it is also inevitable that we will win."
If it's inevitable that we win then why do we have to work so hard? If change is the state of America then why doesn't change simply happen? WHO IS WRITING THIS STUFF? DUBYA? (Read – we got dumped, but we might be okay. People get dumped all the time)
Okay so email #1 was bad. But I had no idea it would get worse. Less than 24 hours later comes another message - same sender "Gov. Howard Dean, M.D." Same reply to address. New subject line. "A message from Howard Dean." Well, duh - it's From Howard Dean. How many email clients these days only show subject line? And who sends emails and refers to themselves in the third person?
This message is much more brief, which is good considering it’s redundant. It starts off with:
"We can still send delegates to the convention, and we should. If you are in a state with district, and state conventions, please make sure everyone goes, so that we send all the delegates we are entitled to. If you are in a state that has not yet voted, be sure to vote. We'll have a great time at the convention."
Thanks for reminding me to keep active in the primary. Apparently today doing so is fun. Yesterday it was hard work, and it was about how feeling like losers is part of this struggle. Today we're deserving and we're gonna party like it's our birthday, or something like that. (Read – we got dumped but it’s okay we got dumped because we’re all the better for it)
Oh wait – nevermind!! I take that back. We have worked hard - Second paragraph gets into tha, and reminds us we did lose, but it’s okay to lose. No no hold on, not so fast there - we might still have a chance at winning:
“Thank you all for how hard you have worked, and how much money you raised. And thanks for getting involved. It feels a hell of a lot
better to try and lose than not to try at all. In any case I have to say that I don't really feel like we have lost. We only lose if we
quit. There is an enormous amount of power in numbers, and we can still change this country (and that is exactly what we're going to do!).”
What is going on here!? Did we lose? Are we going to win? Should I make phone calls? Should I go to rallies? I am so confused.
And did he just say “hell?” Did he scream “hell?” I want to scream hell! What the hell is going on here!
(Read – Ok, now that I’m comfortable having been dumped let me tell you - this is what it feels like to be dumped – and I’m transitioning to (c) – almost there but not quite. Soon I can tell you WHY it’s okay we got dumped)
Maybe Generation Dean can clear things up. Twenty four hours later, I get an email from Amanda Michel, Generation Dean. If I thought the previous emails exuded dumped boyfriend syndrome, an email every day for three days is borderline stalking! Let’s see if she has any words of wisdom. Opening paragraph:
“You are Generation Dean. You built this network from the ground up, at high schools and colleges, at punk shows and bars, through your network
of friends and even through your Buddy Lists.“
Punk shows?! What? Punk was 80’s wasn’t it? I mean yeah there are some die hard punk rockers out there but they sure aren’t mainstream. No wonder we lost. We were campaigning at PUNK SHOWS! Not to mention HIGH SCHOOLS! I turned 18 the first semester of college. No wonder we lost! Our “network” couldn’t vote!
(Read – We got punks and kids into politics and this is why the relationship was worthwhile even though we got dumped)
Maybe Dean’s planning to run in 2008? Is he starting the kids early? Hoping punk will make a comeback? Oh well it’s gonna be four years before we find that out.
So, now that Amanda cleared up why we lost out of the way, let’s move on to how we can still “win.”
“If your state’s primary or caucus is coming up, think hard about whom you’ll vote for. Howard Dean will still be on the ballot, but
you’ll also have to make a choice about whom you want to take on George W. Bush in November.”
Now I have to think hard? This hard work is tiring me. But anyway, I guess this means don’t vote for Dean, cause there’s now way he’s taking on Bush in November.
“It’s now down to a two-man race: Senator Edwards versus Senator Kerry. It’s more important than ever to vote your conscience.
This is still about taking on the special interests. This is still about changing politics as usual in Washington. And, most importantly, this is
about removing the most right-wing politician America has ever seen.”
(Read – shoot, I thought I’d transitioned into (c) but it looks like I’m regressing back to (a) – we can still get back together!)
Wait. Vote my conscience? Changing politics in Washington? Taking on special intereset? Does this mean I should vote for Dean? Two man race? As of this email Sharpton and Kucinich were still in. Thanks for dissing them. My conscience tells me that this is politics as usual – ignore everyone in the race but the front runners. Oh yeah – but vote your conscience – consider voting for the guy who dropped out! The guy who dropped out like typical politicians would – because he wasn’t going to win. Don’t vote for the guys who really are about change – the guys who risk embarassment to have their issues heard. The guys who work tirelessly for this notion that you call change.
I don’t have a problem with people voting their conscience and voting for Dean – but leave out this two man race talk! It flies in the face of everything for which the campaign seemingly stood.
Alas, we shall see if CNN has any to insight offer on the matter – what really was going on behind the scenes? Or rather, if it will be a nostalgic walk through overused footage, politics as usual, and a whole lot of (c).
Friday, March 05, 2004
No Small Fry!
A great reason to shop at Fry's!
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Quite interesting that all of the photos including people in Bush's "compassion" photo album are simply of colored people. For George W, interacting with blacks and latinos is being compassionate. I can only figure that these photos are here for the voters who are not minorities, so they can point to them and say "See, George Bush supports minorities!"
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
What We're Up Against
Bush's TV Ads. He has over 100 million dollars to spend versus Kerry's ~3. If there is ever a time to donate, I think it's now.
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
I saw Senator Kerry last Friday evening. He came to my hometown, Oaktown, for a rally at the Teamsters Hall on Hegenberger, near the Oakland Coliseum. Lines of supporters stretched around the corner. I couldn't believe the crowds - surely all of those people couldn't have been there to see Kerry!? Was there a special guest attending? I peeked in the window, and there I saw Cruz Bustamante. No special guests in sight.
Slowly, people passed through metal detectors, and eventually the rally began. Phil Angiledes, one of the few courageous Democrats to stand against the "bipartisan" effort put forth by Arnold and Steve Westly, started the ceremonies. Meanwhille, twelve hundred people stood outside, noses pressed against the glass (well not all of them of course, only the front row). It felt much like a fish bowl, and sadly, the windows fogged up from the inside, leaving the onlookers with only a cloudly view of Insurance Commissioner John Garimendi's two, yes count them two, black eyes. Little explanation was given for his black and blue, and little cover up was applied. Something about a fence on his ranch, lots of jokes about "fighting" the HMOs. I'm not sure why they felt Garimendi needed to show up in his condition. Puzzling.
On the heels of Garimendi's appearance came Bustamante's. Phil Angiledes belabored the words "honest, decent, inegrity" before bringing out Cruz. He didn't use these words just once, but some of them 3 times each. "A decent man, an honest man..." "Gee," I thought, "he must be talking about Cruz because no one else would allow such an introduction." Cruz bounded out on stage, in an unusally bouncy and giddy Mr. Spacely moment. He said something about peope voted no on the recall and elected him governor. Someone else used this line too, thing is, I think they should have left it at No on Recall. I doubt many people voted for Cruz and voted Yes on the recall. In any case, Cruz was greeted by what sounded like BOOOOOOOO to me. He told the audience "You know what the press will think you are saying. You guys are so funny." This indicated to me that the guy thought they weren't booing him but instead were saying either "Cruuuuuuuz" or "Buuuuuuuuste." I have met the guy, and he did seem just that out of it. Oh well, maybe they were cheering for him, in a funny sounding sort of way.
On to the guest of honor - for whom apparently most of these 1500 plus (including those outside) people turned out to see on - get this - a Friday night! I watched Kerry walk, pracitcally unnoticed, around the rear of the room on his way up to the stage. The man could use a few ballet lessons, maybe some yoga (Teresa - would you get on that please?) - his shoulders are hunched, the look is perhaps exaggerated by his height (6'4" I'm guessing) and his lanky build. However, for the first time in my life, I actually think a hunch suits someone. I still haven't put my finger on why It is Kerry can carry off (no pun) a slumped shoulder walk - but he does, and boy does this guy do it with style. I'm not talking argyles, either.
Kerry donned a tie of course, one of a collection of what I've come to term his Hot Ties. It was somewhere near a celadon color - went quite well with his pale blue shirt and navy suit. Kerry really is his own man when it comes to fashion - strays from the norm - white shirt, red tie. I'm curious what Queer Eye would have to say about Kerry. (I'm guessing they'd tell him to lose that mustard colored barn jacket, or at least go with a different color.) Unfortunately, his belt lost me. I termed it a "Crossover belt" chosen perhaps, to unite the constituencies - it was some sort of shiny black leather or possibly a very subtle snake skin - this aspect was fine with me, as was the width - an appropriate inch and a half, or slightly less. The problem was it had simply too much metal, so much that it crossed over into western wear territory. The buckle, of course, was metal, but so was the keeper and the end. The latter in particular was very shiny, itself comprising at least an inch and a half square. Overall though, the man looks good. He's flattened his hair a bit, so as not to look to French (commentary from the pre Dean days when Kerry was the front runner), and his appearance was generally dapper and Lincolnesque.
Now, for one final observation - American Girl, by Tom Petty - great song, but John, do you really want this to be your campaign theme song?! Perhaps William Hung can come up with something. A crossover tune.