28 February 2008

LOST's Excellent Adventure

LOST has jumped the shark. Desmond and Sayid are the Wyld Stallyns! Excellent! *Air guitar* I'd say Farady's new 'do makes for a good Rufus.

... I'm still watching it.

26 February 2008

Scraping THOMAS

I thought my legislative opinion idea was pretty clever. Dani did not. She said it would be a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. I could use clarification on that waste of taxpayer dollars part. (I should add that I think this should all be electronic.) Unfortunately, I cannot disagree with her about the fact that the opinion would probably be relegated to an intern; all I can ask is for congressional peer pressure (hah!) to hold legislators to the expectation that they write their own opinions.

Dani suggested two alternatives: seek out legislators' newsletters (which I haven't yet done), and "dig around" to find transcripts of the floors' debates. For the latter option, I have found this gem. It updates once-a-day-ish to serve out the Daily Digest (=summary) of the Congressional Record. Who knew?

I used Page2RSS to setup this RSS feed for the page, since I couldn't find one. (It's the aughts people! What the hell?!) The results can be pretty cryptic, but at least I get notification whenever the site changes – that is, whenever Congress does something. If anyone can manage to scrape a better feed – or knows where to find one – please do let me know!

(I hope this is legal.)

I haven't discerned if the precise transcript of the floors' activities are available through THOMAS. That sure would be nice. Dani – maybe you can elaborate on your "digging" suggestion? Perhaps C-SPAN? Thanks for the suggestion to seek this out.

And another

This one is less impressive, but way more throw-back. It's old school in its simplicity and characters, too. SNESish.

23 February 2008


Not Safe If You Need To Be Productive. Tycho linked to Iron Dukes, and damn him for doing so.

Don't give me that "I'm an adult, I don't play games" cruft – click through and enjoy.

We $hall see

I really liked this. I know next to nothing of Lupe, but I have enjoyed the work of Kanye and Pharrell before. Maybe that means they're like Mos Def? Quality stuff all around.

Even beyond the music, that video is killer. I'm with the RCRD LBL author looking forward to more outlets for Va$htie.

[Thanks to Rory for passing that one along.]

22 February 2008

I've been found out!

I absolutely hate Mario Party. From Tycho:
[Gabe] was trying to figure out why he likes Smash but not other pieces in the Nintendo oeuvre, specifically Mario Party, though he's troubled by the communist tendencies of Mario Kart as well - but Smash is nothing like those games. In the two titles I've just mentioned, a suite of "balance mechanisms" designed to promote fairness or randomize outcomes assert themselves. Enforced fairness has a way of feeling unfair to those who excel. If you're playing to have fun with your friends, these are all opportunities for joy. If you play videogames to express your dominion over others, they are impediments to your regime.

21 February 2008

A moment of awareness and an admission of self

Heavy title for a post about a band. What I realized is that I will not acheive the persuasion of Dan or Lindsey. I just don't do that sort of thing. So I'll let SPIN.com do it for me Re: What Made Milwaukee Famous. I like this band. The song on that page is from the upcoming album, which I've never heard, but I really like the first album. The album I know and love is probably low brow and repetitive compared to the new one, but I like repetitions of good. And, once again, those captives in my car have asked about WMMF before – so I'm not totally crazy.

Though I'm not selling the band, I can tell a story. One that might even shake the very foundations of marriage. Might.

Kyle loves Katie Daryl. It was love at first television. Short story even shorter, since I lived with Kyle I ended up watching a bunch of HDNet's True Music. WMMF was on one of those episodes (note: she has her own theme music!) along with The Blue Van and Toby Lightman – both of which I like, though The Blue Van is a bit sloppy for my taste. I digress.

Katie Daryl is cool (and beloved) and WMMF makes good music. In searching for a "representative" song from Trying to Never Catch Up, I couldn't really find one. So maybe my repetitive comment is way off base. Paying no mind to that, I'll throw "Idecide" out there as a rep along with "Hopelist" as a demonstration of some breadth. The album has many great lyrics (due in part to sonorous and compelling delivery, but the words do indicate a keen, young wisdom) and "Hopelist" contains more than its fair share.


19 February 2008

"That Guy" is actually awesome

[Sorry about misspelling both the first and last name. It's late.]

I do realize this is my third post in about an hour, but this one is the only one truly of the moment, so bear with me.

I have just found that freakin' guy. I went to Ashley Parsons' blog because of her amazing work regarding... recent events. That's how I got there: curious if she'd joined in on the press release. I immediately became derailed from my search when I read about her super hero husband, Jeremy. Dude's got big ups. Skills, even.

So this post is really just a high ten (hiyo!) to Jeremy. Well done, sir! While your actions obviously mean so much to her, they also mean a lot to others: hope and inspiration. Keep on keepin' on.

Legislative Opinions

Judges write an opinion explaining the reason for a court decision. This document situates the current case within the expanses of legal history and identifies the salient features and premises which formed the final conclusions. It's a judge's job to decide, and the opinion is how they explain that they're doing it well.

I would like written opinions from our representatives and senators. It's a member of Congress's job to vote; I would appreciate an explanation. Legislative opinions would identify insights along with confusions. Even indications of kowtowing to lobbyists or the party line might surface. The opinions must be accessible: one to two pages of plain English. The reasons described ought to be the legislator's own, concrete reasons specific to this vote. Lack of citation would be cause for impeachment; we the constituency need to know how those reasons were developed (interviews, statistics, texts, etc)¹.

As far as I know, legislative opinions don't exist. I've never even heard of the idea. (Which seems a bit ridiculous.) Of course, every campaign includes the politician's general opinion on a per issue basis, but these are undelivered speeches, persuading instead of explaining. They're too abstract and tailored to be of much use and geared on what the politician will do once elected. But the opinion I want to read justifies what the elected official has done. An opinion for each vote would help legislators share concrete, specific beliefs with the public. It would answer the questions: What was right with this bill? What was wrong with this amendment? An opinion leaving these questions unanswered would indicate the absence of understanding, of research, and of respect for accountability.

I would immediately sign up for my representatives' and senators' opinion newsletter.

¹ The sneaky computer scientist in me knows that data mining citations would identify references of particular import, pangs of the party line, and even traces of opinion-plagiarism.

18 February 2008

Minutiae from the Tubes

Daniel LaRusso, anyone?

I must partake before my death.

Alfred is my prediction with regards to the Kellen of the future. (Sorry to ostracize so many of you, but it's just so true.)

Whoever lives near this place ought to leave, ASAP – pretty, yes, but creepy.

Philip Zimbardo wanders a bit outside of his stomping grounds in the presence of the Mighty Colbert Hammer of Truthiness. (Watch at least from 3'45" to the end).

14 February 2008

From Bobby Long and Lawson Pines

I just watched A Love Song for Bobby Long. It was (sternly) recommended to me by Parker's father, and it was quite good. The front half certainly coasted on volition's momentum, but by the end the film had become quite a nice story to know.

Travolta plays the cracking, empty shell of a literary professor, retired and retreated to New Orleans. He and his trapped protégé toss quotes back and forth throughout the film; I'm sharing here the recitations that struck me as deftly placed dialogue.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

That though I loved them for their faults
As much as for their good,
My friends were enemies on stilts
With their heads in a cunning cloud.

One dies only once, and then for such a long time!

Molière, Le Dépit amoureux

13 February 2008

Voluntary Simplicity duplicity

My new book is Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin. I'm only part way through the first chapter, but I'm already loving and hating every other paragraph. One will summarize most of my current thoughts on life and the next will coat the idea in such blatantly proselytistic, existential, spiritual unity fluff that I'm almost put off from my own ideas.

For instance, Table 1 contrasts the Industrial-Era View's belief that "Identity is defined by material possessions and social position" with the Ecological-Era View's belief that "Identity is revealed through our loving and creative participation in life." Well, no shit that sounds better. Or "The individual is defined by his or her body and is ultimately separate and alone" versus "The individual is both unique and an inseparable part of the larger universe; identity is not limited to our physical existence." My reaction, Mr. Elgin.

The seemingly good chance of finding a holistic presentation of the principles I've gathered and developed as I struggle for my own two feet in this world is certainly enough to keep me reading. Hopefully he stops switching between drab and pastel palettes during his contrasts. And hopefully he doesn't use spirituality as the ultimate source of purpose. I'm looking for thoughtful, illuminating, applicable expressions of these notions, not a one-size-fits-all Hallmark card.

... That sure sounds caustic. I am looking forward to reading more.

12 February 2008

The other end of YouTube

Adrienne passed along a link that her mother shared with her to an NPR story about the classical music on YouTube. Turns out, there's lots of great stuff on the NPR website for music wonks, including concerts and songs of the day. (Note the RSS feeds on those pages, people!)

06 February 2008

Emails instead of RSS? Yes, yes, right away!

The kids are all hip to RSS and Atom, nowadays. They are really helpful if you're comfortable with them and you're tracking many websites, but they can be a bit overwhelming if you're following just a couple websites.

If, instead of figuring what RSS is all about, you'd just like to receive an email whenever there's a new post, try SendMeRSS, BotABlog, or RSSFwd. These services use an RSS feed behind the scenes to monitor a website for you and send an email whenever there is something new on it. This isn't so much a "recommendation" since I haven't used any of them myself, but I tracked them down for a friend who requested such a service and they seem pretty solid. Maybe you'll find them useful. But read the fine print, because you can't blame me!

Even as I suggest alternatives for the reluctant, I really must encourage you to join the syndication crowd by finding yourself an aggregator, especially one that is web-based. That is really the only step you need to take. Choose an aggregator and then just keep an eye out for the syndication icon: . This is like the shift from film-based to digital cameras – don't get left behind!

A gentle explanation from What Is RSS?:
RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site's email newsletter. The number of sites offering RSS feeds is growing rapidly and includes big names like Yahoo News.

Not the war, not the economy, not the Fair Tax, not health care...

My concern is ubiquitous corruption. Representative Waxman, chairman of the House committee on oversight, spent 40 minutes with Bill Moyers discussing how the executive branch's tactics have hindered Waxman's oversight duties.

While Moyer's interview focuses on corruption within the scope of government contracts in Iraq, please recognize that corruption is everywhere. It subverts every attempt at soundly achieving any public good. The interests of the free market, in its perpetual search for profits, have naturally infiltrated government agencies in order to subvert the oversight that would restrict the profits of irresponsible and unaccountable private entities such as Blackwater and First Kuwait.

Many politicians and civil servants harbor interests in conflict with the duties of their public office either directly through personal and financial relationships or indirectly through the private sector sponsorship and influence that helped them attain the office. Until such undue influence is ousted, no enacted public policy will solely serve the public good.


To do: write will and choose epitaph

"Life, you are fine. Death, you stink." – Claudio Villa's gravestone.

04 February 2008

Another mystery named

The dilemma at the heart of qualia really unsettled me as a child. How did I know that my red and your red were the same red? The colors of the world, the rapidity of depth's vanishing act, the smell of burning cookies (sob), could all be completely different to you than they are to me.

That still freaks me out.

Win a cookie!

Of Montreal's The Party's Crashing Us Now has two lines that will forever catch my attention. Whoever guesses those lyrics first wins a cookie. (Seriously, I'll buy you a nice one.)

I fail my words

I feel a bit like an ass when I link a word to its definition as I do in some of my posts. When I do so, it is my way of saying, "Hey! Did you know this word? I didn't." Just had to get that out there.

I mentioned Benjamin Barber's book Consumed in one of those lifestyle posts. He's smart. He used big words. Here's the ones that were new to me. While I "had a feeling" for some of them, there was never much confidence.
  1. Something exhibiting exigency is something urgent.
  2. A depredation is a raid.
  3. Succor is synonymous with relief.
  4. A crass person has less than honorable intentions.
  5. To redress is to make right.
  6. By dint of means the same as because of.
  7. A paean is an expression (a song, it seems) of triumph.
  8. Someone with fealty has some serious loyalty.
  9. To limn is to describe.
  10. Mendacity is untruthfulness.
  11. Something coterminus has the same boundaries as the primary subject.
  12. A coeval is a contemporary, and anything coeval is also contemporaneous.
  13. Seditious words support rebellion.
  14. Establishing hegemony attains a strong position of control.
  15. Something facile is too simple, too easy. [An ironic definition considering this post, eh?]
  16. Something fustian is presented as if it's really important, like inspirational and grand words.
  17. Imprimatur is one's approval, the "go ahead."
  18. Something fecund is fertile or prolific, especially with regard to intellectual matters.
  19. A polemic is an ardent refutal of an opinion or principle (or the author of such a counter argument).
  20. The commonweal is the public well-being. Weal can also occur by itself just as would well-being.
I'm glad there was a round number of these words. I Googled for these definitions, so they are gleaned from Merriam Webster, the free dictionary, and others. Merriam Webster was pretty awesome.

01 February 2008

Great film, great music

It seems Big Night is referred to as a food film; apparently I need to watch more of those. It's slow at parts, but you will be soundly rewarded for mustering a little patience. The last scene is a keystone conclusion the likes of which I haven't seen recently. Simple, pertinent, poignant, and reassuring – just how I like my finales.

I recommend the film if you have the slightest romance with food. That's not to say there aren't plots running the drama gamut, you'll just need to have a soft spot for food to enjoy all of this one.

What's more, the music is amazing. I need a name for it so I can track down more of it.