Sunday, April 27, 2008

McCain engaged in bombing, killing innocent people

Tonight I heard John McCain on TV talk about being "engaged in bombings which could have or did kill innocent people." That caught my attention, but it turned out that he wasn't reflecting on or repenting for his past war crimes bombing Vietnamese civilians from 35,000 feet, but was trying to insinuate some kind of slur against Barack Obama for some acquaintance of his who was once a member of the Weather Underground. I haven't had a whole lot of time to keep up with news -- particularly this kind of news, which I would normally skip right over, but it seems that neither Obama nor the former Weatherman (which Obama has been cordial to and has not condemned and denounced as is the custom) have been bombers, whereas Johnnie has been a mad bomber, both literally and figuratively.

McCain will have a lot more to answer for than that. I can see that he is already getting the old man pass that Reagan used to use. You can take many of the lines Jellybeans Reagan used to use and try to imagine Carter or Mondale or Papa Bush using them and you know they would be laughed off stage. Conversely and perversely, Obama is getting hit with the scary-black-man construct where everything he has ever done is seen as ominous explained further here:
Old Man McCain
Grandpa McCain
I especially appreciated this post originating from Cogitamus.
and just for fun, Younger than McCain

Image by News Corpse.

Reforming the American Presidential Nomination System

In the past, I have mentioned the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would have states agree to cast their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. It seems like the minimally necessary reform to the presidential election process -- assuming you accept the elective dictatorship model of democracy practiced in the Republic of Armed Desire.
What about the Presidential Candidates nominating process currently going on? It may be worthwhile to take a good look at it and think about changes at this point in the four-year cycle.

The process seems to have a few flaws. Some of the proposed solutions would actually make the system worse. A series of rotating regional primaries and caucuses would give the regional candidate an advantage. We should try to have all different regions of the country at all different times, both early and late, not just one region at a time.

Similarly, holding a large number of primaries (and caucuses) on one day (super-duper Tuesday) was also a Very Bad Idea, exactly the opposite of what should be done, because it created a large pool of voters, voting on one day, who could not be reached individually but only by television advertising, robo-calls, and cash-heavy campaigns. We should try to spread them out, have the candidates focus on one or two or five or ten at a time, not twenty on one day.

I don't think the proportional representation is a problem, but the number of superdelegates could be reduced. Also, the party convention should be held soon after the last primaries and caucuses. If the Democrats are going to use super-delegates as potential tie-breakers, they should be defined by some clear rules. Sitting members of the Senate, House, and a few similar folks from each state (state governors, speakers, etc.) seems reasonable. The resulting number might be 200 or 400 rather than 800.

I propose that a decision be made as to how long the process should be allowed to last at the outside. Suppose five months, possibly six, is reasonable. We have 50 states, DC, and some territories. Ten vote every month (or a few more). If you wanted to micro-manage it, you could spread the 50 states(+ DC and some territories) over the 150 days and give each one a "No-earlier-than" start-up date. Have an average of one state every three days (Wouldn't CNN love that?). You start with the small states and power up each month. By the end of May, beginning of June, the intra-party thing is done. It's summer. Have your convention and get into the general election campaign.

The best thing is that there are enough votes cast in February to overturn January, even if January votes 100% for one candidate. As time goes on, the size of votes scales up, so that each state has a chance to throw its weight around in proportion to its weight. If small states come too late, they would be demotivated. Big states can still tilt the system dramatically right up until May unless candidates have already dropped out by then. This system would have been ideal for 2008.

There could be a conflict deciding which states are "small", since you could use the census, electoral votes, or the number of party delegates. I suggest going generally by the census. States would then end up in 5 quintiles. Here is how it might look:

In January, WY, DC, VT, ND, AK, SD, DE, MT, RI, HI, and NH would have their caucuses and primaries. These 11 states all have 3 or 4 electoral votes, for a total of 36. Maybe for old time's sake, we could let NH go first, even though they are the biggest of this group. Sorry, Iowa, you are to big to really belong here (believe it or not, ranked 30th, between the second and third quintile going from smallest up). One disadvantage is that there is a bit of regional clustering in this approach, in the Montana-North Dakota-South Dakota axis of boredom, and the NH, RI, New England thing. But there is Delaware and DC in there for a little variety. Three regional clusters, really, which is not unfair at all, but it would be nice to get more of the south and southwest represented early on.

In February, ME, ID, NE, WV, NM, NV, UT, KS, AR, MS, and IA would have their caucuses and primaries. Although Iowa is the biggest in the set, maybe they could go first so they get the attention they grew accustomed to in the late 20th century. I threw 11 states into this set, too, just to get Iowa in there.They have 4 to 7 electoral votes each -- about 57 total. There are plenty of sunbelt states in this set.

March would have the medium-sized states voting: CT, OK, OR, PR, KY, LA, SC, AL, CO, and MN. They wouldn't be able to completely overturn the combined votes or January and February, however. These ten states all have 7 to 10 electoral votes (2000-2010) and about 74 electoral votes. Populations are from three-and-a-half to five-and-a-half million.

In April you would get WI, MD, MO, TN, AZ, IN, MA, WA, VA, and NJ. These states have 10 to 15 electoral votes and populations between 5.6 and 9 million people. They have about 113 electoral votes in this group.

In May you would have NC, GA, MI, OH, PA, IL, FL , NY , TX, and CA, These states have populations between 9 and 37 million, and electoral vote power from 15 to 55. I think there is a total of 256 electoral votes in this group!

If American Samoa, N. Mariana Islands, US Virgin Islands, and Guam haven't voted yet, they should vote now. Have the convention in June, not August 25-28. <-That was an almost guaranteed way for the Dems to waste the summer. They should not have taken that chance. All of these dates I have proposed in this plan are the earliest possible dates. I mean that the states would be free to go later, but not earlier, in order to participate in their party's conventions. The penalty? I guess cutting the delegation in half (oor more) as the Republicans did might be a deterrent. Maybe that's not enough, though. The party really doesn't want the campaign to get scrunched back into the previous calendar year. This is just the nomination I am talking about, not a real election. I only refer to the electoral votes because the populations will change, and the parties' delegate rules and numbers will change, but the electoral votes are stable for at least a decade and don't change all that much in one decade. The delegate numbers are very roughly proportional to the EV numbers. I don't think a proposal as logical, simple, straightforward, and clean as this could ever become law, especially since it makes the big, populous states wait for the smaller ones to go first. (Little states would like it more than the big states.) The usual actual result of negotiations around this kind of thing is wormier and more sausage-like.

Update 2008-04-27: FairVote has been exploring several variations of reform of the primary process, including the "American Plan" and the "Delaware Plan", which have some similar conclusions to mine. Be sure to read "Who Picks the President," regarding the 2004 campaign, available as a DOC or PDF.

  • More money was spent on television advertising in Florida during the period covered than in 45 states and the District of Columbia combined.
  • More than half of all campaign resources were dedicated to just three states-- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  • Iowans are the most coveted voters in the country.
  • 18 states saw neither a candidate visit nor recieved a cent of spending on TV advertisements.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


As hard as it is to believe three detectives can pump 50 bullets into an unarmed man in New York City, it is much worse to find that the legal system can find no fault with that act.

April 26, 2008
3 Detectives Acquitted in Bell Shooting
Three detectives were found not guilty Friday on all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens, in November 2006. The verdict prompted calls for calm from the mayor, angry promises of protests by those speaking for the Bell family and expressions of relief by the detectives.
Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 bullets the night of the shooting and faced manslaughter charges, said Justice Arthur J. Cooperman had made a “fair and just decision.”
Justice Cooperman delivered the verdict in State Supreme Court at 9 a.m. Describing the evidence, he said it was reasonable for the detectives to fear that someone in the crowd that night carried a gun. He added that many of the prosecution’s witnesses, including Mr. Bell’s friends and the two wounded victims, were simply not believable. “At times, the testimony of those witnesses just didn’t make sense,” the judge said.
Several supporters of Mr. Bell stormed out of the courtroom, and a few small scuffles followed outside the courthouse. By midafternoon, there were no suggestions of any broader unrest around the city. Mr. Bell’s family and fiancée left without making any comments and drove to visit his grave at the Nassau Knolls Cemetery and Memorial Park in Port Washington.
The verdict comes 17 months to the day since the Nov. 25, 2006, shooting of Mr. Bell, 23, and his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, outside the Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens, hours before Mr. Bell was to be married.
It was delivered in a packed courtroom. Mr. Bell’s family sat silently as Justice Cooperman spoke from the bench. Behind them, a woman was heard to ask, “Did he just say, ‘Not guilty?’ ” Detective Oliver and the two other defendants, Detectives Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Cooper, were escorted out a side doorway as court adjourned.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

QR Codes

Recently I have been monkeying around with QR codes a little. I have always liked codes, even bar codes, in a way. I wasn't interested in QR codes, though, because, first of all, I didn't use my cell phone for internet. Using your cell phone for internet is like eating a gourmet dinner through a small straw. I am sure there are some good applications like translation, GPS, other services, but I have a cheap service and just want to text message, e-mail, and take pictures with my phone. Sometimes I use it to speak to someone. too. Secondly, I had the impression that it was just for advertising, for a print ad to cause you to go to their site and waste your bandwidth charges there.

Years have gone by and I still didn't know what it was. I heard it was coming to America, and was the same codes they use here in Japan. I read the wikipedia article about it, found an online QR code generator via, and realized I have both a reader and encoder in my phone. Hey, there's a OCR scanner in there, too. It sure doesn't work. The online encoder and the one in my phone seem to create different version, using a different amount of error correction and redundancy, I guess.

I got kinda obsessed with it for a while. Something about the chunky pixelation. (Chunky Pixelation would be a good name for a band. They would be an electronic 70s punk-funk-chunk six-piece out of Philadelphia if only they did exist.)

Something about watching the phone convert it is cool, too.

Code Monkey up there is FUBARed, unreadable. I overdid it. Found the limit. You could maybe take a black magic marker, fix it up a little, and get it to scan. It is my school email address. I was trying to blend it with a picture of me and still have it readable, but I was having trouble and searching my hard drive, found some 2002 desktop pictures from the Iowa Primate Research Center (I think it was) and used that instead. I like the way it came out -- useless.

The one on the left is for the wikipedia qr code page. It works. In the right column is a chalk-and-charcoal filter photoshop version of the blog that scans well and looks better IMO, too. This crystaline-looking one was a dud, reaability-wise.

Looking at the bottom range for smaller sizes, this 23-pixel square gif contains "Blues Tea-Cha". My phone is able to scan it from the screen with no problem. Text takes less space than URLs.

Where have I been?

It's funny that when I have free time, as during the recent holiday, I don't do much blogging. Instead, I turn to constructing a massive to-do list, which does include blogging, but at a lower priority. Free time is actually busy time for tackling my on larger projects, while blogging is a smaller project better for tiny slivers of time. Too busy or too free both reduce my blogging.
Well, I don't usually post posts about the frequency of my posts. I will move from the spring vacation to the busiest time of the year.

What have I been doing? Not traveling. Flying kites. Making kites. Out of garbage. Bought a new bike. I want to say "Specialist" but the brand name is "Specialized". Driving in to Tokyo, surprised that it sometimes takes under an hour, faster than the train. Moving shelves out of my office to the third floor of our house. Fixing up the third floor to be a study. Taking pictures. Facebook and other totalitarian imaginary friend anti-social nutwerx. Tried to buy an Asus EEE PC for ¥19,000 but the store ran out. Mac OS 10.5. Broke my iPhoto. Will go back to 10.4 which remains on the internal HD. Various other things. And now my work is getting busy again.

Update: Oh, yeah. I also transferred 20-odd tapes in the obsolete "Hi-8" format (dating from 1995 to 2005) to the hard drive of the DVD/HDD video recorder, from which they will be burned as DVDs. DVDs are easily scratched and becoming obsolete as well, but still a better archival option that the Hi-8 tapes. I got some little screwdrivers and dismantled the old video camera to remove a jammed tape. I think the flaw was entirely with the tape, since it also almost jammed the newerSony which replaced it. I also notices how the old Sanyo recordings were much better quality than the Sony. We also have a small HDD DV camera now that I never use. I never look back at old tapes although I have to admit that after 10 or 13 years, they are getting interesting. I generally just capture small segments of cellphone video these days.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston is dead

You can pry his gun from his cold, dead hands now, you damn dirty ape!