Monday, December 1, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
OK, I didn't see Sen. Clinton getting a cabinet offer, so there's a surprise. It makes sense though, if one wants to keep her out of the running in 2012. Apparently, she had a visit with Obama in Chicago (out of her way to just say 'howdy').
Sen. McCain was also reported to be meeting with Obama. McCain in the cabinet would also make sense, both as an act of bipartisanship, and as a way to get another Democrat in the Senate (AZ Gov. Napolitano, a Democrat, would appoint his successor).
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I always get a gut feeling about elections that seem to be in no way connected with reality. This year is no different. What follows are my projections of the outcome of the 2008 General Election.
House: Major Democratic pick-ups, but I won't quote a number. I'll just extrapolate two Michigan campaigns to the average Republican incumbent: MI-07 and MI-09, held currently by Tim Walberg and Joe Knollenberg respectively. Both face almost certain defeat--Knollenberg in middle-of-the-road Oakland County, where he should really be cruising to another victory (but for the war, the economy, the bailout, etc.). Tonight on the local news, it was reported that Obama had EXPANDED his lead in Michigan, and this can't help these two very much. A very favorable weather report for Election Day also bodes well for Michigan Democrats.
Senate: I expect the Democrats to pick up seats, but I am more optimistic than just about anyone else out there. My gut tells me that the democrats will pull off a 60-seat majority in the next Congress. Most are predicting an 8 or 9 seat gain, putting them at 58 or 59 seats. I have faith that three candidates really stand a chance to beat the odds and pull off victory.
First, Al Franken in Minnesota, because Norm Coleman has worn out his welcome, topping it off with a very negative campaign against Franken. The polls have placed them in a bitter struggle over one or two percentage points, but I anticipate Obama's coattails, as well as dissatisfaction with the GOP in general, will break the race in Franken's favor. Additionally, the weather for Election Day looks to be fair through much of the day.
Second, Ronnie Musgrave in Mississippi. In this case, I think that a surge in African-American voters coming out for Obama will help out.
Third, Jim Martin in Georgia, for the same reason as Musgrave. I really feel that there is a vastly underreported and underanticipated surge in African-Americans who haven't had a reason to go to the polls quite as special as Obama's campaign, and I don't expect them to split their tickets. Additionally, this one could go to a run-off election. I don't anticipate Chambliss to be victorious after Obama's sure-to-be victory.
If two of these three win, they hit 60 seats. If John Cornyn (R-TX) loses, then it would be 61, and they can safely cut loose the dingy called Lieberman.
President: This is a no-brainer. Obama wins. However, rather than win with the 353 that seems to be a good average from the various sites, I think it is possible for him to break 400 electoral votes, based on six close states:
1. Indiana (11 EV): the polls are tightening in Obama's favor, and I think undecideds are going to break for the candidate of hope.
2. Missouri (11 EV): Obama has been running ahead with occasional hiccups in polling data for some time.
3. Georgia (15 EV): Georgia really seems to want to go for Obama. I have a feeling that African American turnout will, again, put Obama over the top.
4. North Dakota (3 EV): ND has been flirting with Obama, making it appear to be a Red-turned-Blue-state candidate. The polls are close enough that I feel an energized turnout of first-time voters will swing it for Obama.
5. Montana (3 EV): See ND, above.
And, the potential icing on the cake:
6. Arizona (10 EV): McCain only leads by 4-5 points in his home state, which is NOT a good sign. That, alone, heartens me enough to consider AZ a possible 'get.'
So, adding up the EVs, we get 52 Electoral Votes for Obama from these States. This brings him to 405 Electoral Votes.
Of course, all of this comes down to who has the better GOTV operation, and I have been very impressed by the Obama organization for some time. I have no doubt that they will bring a lot of people out to vote, a lot more than usual. The only question is will it be "a lot more" enough?
Thems my prognistications. Take them as you will. I will probably be proven wrong in several ways by Tuesday night, but I think I am safe in making most of the important calls. ;-)
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Well, I'd been holding out for Biden as Secretary of State, but I'll take him as VP, instead.
Most pundits missed the best part of the new arrangement, though, until the joint appearance from Springfield, IL, when Biden began speaking: Biden provides chops.
He is the attack dog (or, these days, does one spell that "dawg?" I'll have to ask my 20-something year-old housemate when he gets back to town...). Biden will be Bad Cop to Obama's Good Cop. He came out swinging, which I think is a good thing, both for the ticket and, oddly, for Biden.
From the standpoint of the ticket, Obama can make the case for their own ticket, while Biden can keep reminding people why the other side is flawed every which way.
From Biden's standpoint, this can only be a free ticket to blissville for the next two and a half months: the man likes to rail against bullshit, and, with a ticket position assured, he can stop selling Dems and start selling it to everyone else. He seems to thrive in a campaign setting, which adds energy to his talent in the Senate, which is in-your-face debate and boldly calling bullshit for what it is ("Don't listen to Rumsfeld! He doesn't know what the Hell he's talking about!" he once told someone in a committee hearing).
This, in turn, absolves Obama from getting his own hands dirty. He can remain above the fray, doing what HE does best. Call it what you will, "broadcasting optimism" or "blowing rainbows up people's asses," he does it best when not also having to get dirty.
In any case, I think this is likely the best ticket possible for the Democrats in 2008. I am looking forward to the debates...
Friday, August 1, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I was wondering how to go about noting the end of Jesse Helms, when an Americablog post directed my attention to this obituary in the Guardian.
I figure Satan finally opened a new administrative wing, and Jesse's suite was ready and waiting for him.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I have been trying to adopt the behaviors of hypermiling, now that I have a car again. Early results are rather interesting, as two fill-ups (at 1/2 tank and 3/4 tank, respectively) have resulted in calculated mileage of 37 and 40 mpg. Of course, I have new spark plugs and fuel cleaning additives, so that may have contributed to the results. Driving conservatively may also be having a big impact. Hypermiling is certainly easier, I would think, having a manual transmission.
At any rate, I am trying to empty the gas tank as much as possible so that my next fill-up results in a more accurate calculation of mpg. Of course, I just got an oil change, and they futzed with the tire pressure, so who knows what my numbers will be this time.
All this talk about insane mileage has me chomping at the bit to take a camping trip. It looks like I am headed for the Upper Peninsula, with the destinations narrowed down to the Keewenaw Peninsula, Pictured Rock National Lakeshore, and Isle Royale. Of these, Isle Royale would be the most interesting, and most taxing. First, it's an island in Lake Superior, and therefore pretty damn far from urban light pollution, which appeals to the amateur astronomer in me. Second, it is almost purely rustic, so no weak campers need apply. Third, bugs bugs bugs.
That said, I am all shagged-out, having moved a lot of my crap from my brother's apartment to my own--something postponed by the lack of a car, in part. I am way out of shape, which would seem to bode ill for any trip to Isle Royale, too. Harrumph.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Over a year ago, I interviewed for a job with an arts group which, as part of it's overall marketing plan, sponsors a winefest.
Now, I like wine and other intoxicants as much as the next guy. However, should any non-profit group ally itself with what could arguably be considered a social scourge? What inherent connection is there between art and alcohol that makes such a connection legit?
Arts groups often get funding based on educational objectives. What is educational about connecting art and alcohol? What are children being taught? Funders are winos? Wealth means getting tipsy? Art belongs to the elites?
Sure, such a strategy brings in funding, but, I ask, at what cost to society?
Friday, June 6, 2008
The Moonbeam has been absent for a few days. Seems the power plug in my PowerBook has deteriorated further, in the latest development growing from a tripping hazard event a couple years ago. For now, the plug has been reseated, and seems to be functioning, but it is very precarious, and I fear jostling the laptop even a little bit. A job cannot arrive too soon for me.
In brighter news, Moonbeam has a new car. Well, new to me. A 1999 Escort Wagon SE. It needs a tune-up, and maybe detailing, but it is much better than the rotting hulk it replaces.
And, just in time for 90 degree heat, I cleaned the filter of my recently-purchased window a/c unit. So now my room is cool without the musty smell the a/c came with.
Of course, incense is hardly ever a bad idea.
Speaking of which, less than a month to go to the Rainbow Gathering, a.k.a to the Moonbeam as the Hippiefest in the Woods. If the car proves worthy, there might be a road trip in Paullie Moonbeam's near-future. Let us hope!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Here is my nominee for coolest damn picture outta NASA in a long time.
It is an image of the Phoenix Lander as it parachutes to the surface of Mars. The picture was taken by a NASA satellite orbiting the Red Planet, and which happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture this bit of coolness.
A lot more radical than the picture of one of the lander's damn footpads!
Had tech rehearsal tonight for MorrisCo's production of Ghosts, where I am running both the light board and sound. Afterwards, I got lured into telling my tale of agony regarding my recent involvement with a local Gilbert and Sullivan production group. Now, I have a few good stories, and this tends to be one of them (perhaps not as amusing as my "I chased a state trooper for over two miles because he almost t-boned my car" story). Unfortunately, it still gets me riled, and I hoofed it back to my apartment, uphill, building up a sweaty fit of pique as I mulled over the bitter taste left with me.
I am not good at letting go of things when I am convinced I am right, and that the offending party is more full of shit than a hippiefest outhouse after three days of peace, love, and togetherness. So, I spent some time cooling off (literally, as it is getting to be muggy Michigan again). Took a moment to update my Facebook profile. Rejoiced in my cooler-than-fuck friends. Drank my last Boylans Birch Beer (like root beer, only with more ZING!).
Now, I am fairly well cooled off.
How are you feeling tonight?
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I've mentioned this to a few people over time, but I am particularly (and, I guess, strangely) offended by television and radio shows that "play" with food. These would include shows like Iron Chef, anything hosted by a 'name' celebrity chef, and NPR's "Splendid Table."
Now, I feel strange about hating on an NPR show, seeing as I am a political progressive (not a talking points spewing 'liberal,' as I do have entirely rational conservative views), with Michigan Radio bookmarked in my browser and listed in my iTunes playlists. However, I was raised Catholic, which means I was taught about all those kids around the world who didn't even HAVE brussel sprouts to eat (note: I love my sprouts now). Whenever I left food on my plate, I got the short course in third-world poverty, aided by news images, flickering on the TV, of kids with bloated bellies which were, strangely, empty of food.
And it stuck.
Food is a deadly serious issue. I think we (Western societies) take it entirely too much for granted, as if there were a grove of trees somewhere, from which beef loin and macaroni noodles were plucked by happy (and well-fed) field laborers, singing Kumbaya and otherwise basking in the warm harvest sunlight.
Being a true cynic and fair-to-moderate pessimist, I often find myself thinking thoughts others would consider nutty. In this case, I recently found myself walking home from the corner store with a couple of Cherry Cokes, thinking, "what would I do if food stopped being delivered tonight?" Most people do not think along these lines, which is probably very good for national morale. I do, though, and it is not a happy vision.
Imagine if, for the foreseeable future, there were to be no more boxes labeled 'Kraft' to be found on the store shelves. Imagine candy counters full of empty boxes waiting for refills of Mars bars and Hershey King Size chocolate bars. The cooler normally full of energy drinks and high-fructose iced teas were empty, allowing you to see clear to the back wall.
No big deal, you might think, so I'll expand it: imagine that the same site awaits in the store a block away. And in all the stores on the outskirts of your town and beyond. Impossible? No. Unlikely? For the moment, perhaps.
Food is not a toy or an entertainment. People starve every day, for no other reason than the circumstances of their birth (yeah, there's a 'god'). And they aren't starving for lack of roast beef, lemon merengue pie and whole milk. They are starving because they can't get their hands on a lousy fistful of rice. They are slowly dying because they can't get a mouthful of clean water.
Meanwhile, we in the developed world have created entertainments which celebrate the cornucopia of food and drink available to us all, and the creation of new and more succulent ways of broaching salmon and taste-testing burgundies, etc. We have contestants battling over the best way to cook rare seafood. We have professionals who advise us as to the proper wine accompaniment to our pastas. Well-fed individuals delight or commiserate over the outcome of some Iron Chef-inspired competition. And we have a show on NPR where the host takes calls which attempt to 'stump' the chef by listing some LEFTOVERS in the caller's fridge, challenging her to create a meal from the soon-to-rot overabundance.
That is playing with one's food. I was taught as a child the sinfulness of such play. And I cannot watch or listen to shows like this without bitching out my radio while I flail for the tuner (not the tuna).
I don't know really why I posted this rant. Largely, I guess it's because I think this quite often, but I relate those thoughts rarely, if ever, to those around me. Well, here they are now, for your consideration. I'm not angry at you for eating a cheeseburger (I love them down at the Sidetrack). I just want everyone to stop and consider how fortunate they are to HAVE food in front of them, and to consciously attempt to do their part to reign in society's capricious attitudes towards sustenance.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
DIRECT is a Space Transportation System derivative launch framework, designed as a follow-on to the Shuttle (STS) program. The concept is something of a rehash of past NASA studies into next-generation launch vehicles derived from the STS hardware and infrastructure.
I won't say too much more, but leave it to you to check out their site. Suffice it to say that I think it has potential, but is encumbered by silly presentational snafus such as misspelled or entirely wrong words/terminology (something I am somewhat critical of). It comes across as a first draft, really, although this is version 2.0 of the DIRECT plan.
It makes sense, however, which makes it all the more confusing that the concept hasn't naturally flowed out of the Shuttle program. Oh well. Perhaps more on this later.