Thursday, October 30, 2008
Now, if they could only manage to function that efficiently when killer jalapenos cross the border.
Actually, I shouldn't knock LNA. They're really, really good at doing reactive epidemiology. It's not their job to do the screenings at the borders (that's DHS and USDA's responsibility). If LNA is asked to find the cause of something yucky that has state or local health departments baffled they'll be incredibly tenacious and eventually come up with the right answer, but they're not the guys on the front lines trying to stop the yuck from coming in to begin with.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Took one shortly after walking in the door here and went from being vertical and carrying on a conversation with the S.O. about some minor technical Blogger issue (he's trying to change the colors for his links) to being semi-comatose in the recliner in, I swear, 10 seconds. I'm not sure I want the shoulder to get better.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Restaurant closed after dead deer found in kitchen
HAMBURG, N.Y. — Health officials shut down a suburban Buffalo restaurant after an inspector found employees butchering a dead deer inside the business. Erie County Health Department officials said they got a tip Friday about a dead deer in the China King restaurant in the town of Hamburg, just south of Buffalo. An inspector soon arrived and saw the deer being butchered in the kitchen.
State health laws prohibit butchering an animal inside a restaurant. Officials don't know whether the deer had been killed by a hunter or a vehicle. They said there was no indication the deer meat was served to any customers. The message on the restaurant's answering machine Monday says it was closed because of "family
It isn't me doing it -- I may not have a whole lot of use for aWol, but I'm also a historian and recognize the man does exist and did sign the various Presidential Directives that are driving the project. Much as I'd love to erase him from history in general, I see no particular need to scrub his fingerprints from one of the few sensible things he's done in office. And I do respect the office even if I don't respect aWol as a person. These revisions are coming from people much higher in the food chain, folks who occupy offices in the District, not here in Atlanta. To invoke a cliche, you don't need a weathervane. . .
Heard on the news this morning that nation-wide something like 9% of registered voters have already voted. This definitely is an election that Repugnicans are going to have to work really hard at in order to steal it. (I think they're trying here in Georgia, but sheer numbers are hopefully going to make it impossible.)
"Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedosOnce again, words fail me. Rightwing wackaloon nutcases doesn't even begin to cover it.
and wear top hats during the assassination attempt."
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Rhetorical question: just how ignorant does someone have to be to be afraid of something she can't even pronounce correctly?
But I'm up, and for some reason I'm thinking about the blogosphere and some of the stuff I've stumbled across in the past few years. I started blogging fairly recently (less than a year ago) after it struck me I was leaving comments on so many other blogs I might as well have one of my own, although finding out my brother-in-law blogged may have been the tipping point last winter. And why it would be the thing that nudged me when I'd been reading friends' blogs, like The Retread Ranger Station, for years is a mystery. Unless, of course, it was the universe crying out for symmetry: the BIL is a Ron Paul supporter, and I'm about as far left on the spectrum as it's possible to go.
Think the first blog written by a stranger that I ever read on a regular basis was Pharyngula -- I'm not sure how I stumbled across it -- but I got hooked fairly fast. Don't read it as much as I used to -- it's gotten too popular with some of the shriller voices in the science/atheism community and tends to degenerate too rapidly to about same the level of discourse as third grade boys telling the girls they're not allowed in the treehouse because they're dumb. Even when I'm agreeing with the general sentiment, the tone of the religion bashing makes me uncomfortable. PZ and his acolytes tend to see the world in a much more dichotomous fashion than I do, as well as making the all too common mistake of assuming that because someone is wrong about one thing he or she is an ignorant fucktard who's wrong about everything*. If only life were that simple! (I still love the Friday cephalapod posts, though.)
But I do have to credit PZ Meyers and Pharyngula for steering me to a whole lot of other blogs. It's how I found Evolving Thoughts, Respectful Insolence, and Politits. And those blogs led to other blogs (Utah Savage, Yikes, and innumerable others), some of which turned out to be worth repeated visits and others that were the equivalent of one hit wonders. I stumbled across some where I have almost nothing in common with the blogger and for sure don't share her core beliefs, like Dancing Down the Moon, but was so blown away by the quality of the writing or the photos (Chris Clarke's Coyote Crossing comes to mind) I had to keep going back, and I found others where after dropping by once or twice it felt like I was so totally on the same wave length as the writer that it was like knowing that person forever (Yellowdog Granny). Cyberspace is an amazing place.
End result is a blogroll and favorites lists that includes feminism, science, politics, life in general, blogs that are small and intimate (a handful of regulars dropping by to comment), blogs that attract zillions, blogs that serve as forums for serious professional discussions, blogs that are a place to share mutual frustrations, blogs that started out as one person's way to let friends and family know what was happening in their lives and then morphed into a giant on-line community, and blogs where the writer intended from day one for it to be a soap box.
I'm not sure where this one falls. Not exactly a soap box, definitely not a showcase for either writing or photography, more or less still a memo pad for random thoughts and an occasional rant. I'm still debating things like just how much self-revelation to do in terms of a profile -- being anonymous has always struck me as odd because my initial experiences with the internet, back before it was the internet, all required using variations on my real name for a user ID. I participated in on-line discussion groups, listservs of various types, for years as myself, so making up a user ID to blog felt weird. Even the nicknames I've had over the years were all variations on my actual name, so I stuck with who I actually am: Nan.
I wasn't sure just how interested I am in having random trolls drop by, so I said No to letting search engines find this blog (although I said Yes to the same question on my other blog, I See Dead People, which is rather contradictory), but haven't bothered with Comments moderation since about the first week. Yet. I've seen enough nastiness and weirdness crop up on other people's spaces to understand why doing comments moderation or even blocking comments entirely can be a good thing. I can also understand how annoying it gets when a commenter decides to hijack a comments thread to use it as a soapbox for his or her personal obsessions, but figure if I get sufficiently annoyed that's what the delete key is for. If someone says something too off topic, rude, or just plain stupid, there's always the metaphorical trash can.
Is it time for C-SPAN yet?
(*think it's only true if you're the Republican vice presidential candidate)
There's a reason home schooling rates are climbing, and it's not religious fundamentalism. Kids don't drop out -- they're pushed out. One of the unintended consequences of legislation like No Child Left Behind, which looks at schools in terms of aggregate data -- the overall average of how the students perform -- is that schools are going to start doing their damnedest to shove the marginal students, the low performing students, the students who might drag the average down, out the door as quickly as possible.
NCLB does say schools have to improve graduation rates, but the bar is set pretty low -- according to the AP it's as low as 1/10th of a percent annually -- and with the emphasis set a lot higher on improving test scores than it is on retention, it's not surprising test scores would win.
Friday, October 24, 2008
In an ongoing effort to continually improve and effectively manage LNA's network resources, and to alleviate the current saturation of LNA's Internet connection, we will begin to block generalized access to the YouTube and Google Video Web sites, as of Tuesday, October 28.Obviously, I'm not the only cyber-slacker taking up office space here at Large Nameless Agency. (The previous filtering was to block high band-width advertising, i.e., ads with animation and video instead of just a static block of text and graphics.)
While the steps outlined in the previous announcement below beneficially reduced bandwidth usage and Internet connection congestion, additional filtering is required for YouTube and Google Video sites, which currently account for the highest percentage of Internet bandwidth usage at LNA.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The poor sap thought he had a long term contract, but of course (as usual) it was employment at will on the part of the mall. . . and they didn't even have the decency to tell him he was being replaced. He found out when he called to confirm the starting date for this season.
Anyone want to bet his replacement is going to phone it in from Bangalore?
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Although it's going to be a short one for me. I did take yesterday off, but The Project is coming down to a major deadline, so I'll be doing hard copy redlining at home this afternoon and will be at the office worshipping the computer tomorrow. I'm busy feeling guilty because Utah Savage tagged me several days ago with one of those getting-to-know-you-better sets of questions and I haven't responded yet, I owe a bunch of people actual, hard copy snail mail letters, the house is a mess, and I should call my kids and my mother sometime today. So what am I doing? Sucking down coffee and feeding the C-SPAN addiction.
As long as I'm sitting here, though, I could do a quick response to the getting-to-know-you-better questions:
Where do I buy my clothes? Wherever I spot a bargain, but rarely thrift stores. The stuff in the closet came from everywhere from Pamida to Nordstroms. The fake leopard fur slippers I'm wearing at the moment came from Family Dollar, and I hit Marshall's and T. J. Maxx on a regular basis. The one thing I don't do is buy clothes at thrift stores -- I recognize the amazing bargains that are possible, but I think I wound up wearing too many hand-me-downs from cousins when I was a kid. About the only time I can wear a garment that's been worn by others before me is when it's handed to me by someone I know, like the S.O.'s well-worn National Guard field jacket. I wore that ratty field jacket while doing a research fellowship in D.C., and I'd hear the doorlocks on cars clicking when I entered the crosswalks -- obviously, it made me look homeless (and the expression of someone lost in thought when getting close to defending a thesis proposal no doubt looks deranged). Turned out to be great protective cover for an urban environment -- I never got asked for spare change when I was in that jacket.
Furniture? Mix of thrift store, yard sale, hand built, and heirlooms. We've got a blanket box in the bedroom that the S.O.'s oldest brother made in high school wood shop circa 1950, an American Empire mahogany dresser I bought for $10 in college, and a brand new chest of drawers from Ikea. My father made the desk I use here in the living room, the printer stand is a steamer trunk that probably came from Finland in the early 1900s, the S.O. made one set of bookshelves while I was in grad school at VaTech using plans in a book called 2 x 4 Furniture (they're made so they break down easily so are highly portable; a handy feature considering they've since been moved at least half a dozen times), the china cabinet in the dining area was a $40 find at a yard sale (it's not really my style, but it serves its purpose). Our "entertainment center" is a heavy slab of wood I picked up dumpster-diving in Madison many, many years ago. Over the years it's functioned as a coffee table while perched on cinder blocks (industrial style years before it was trendy?), a computer desk, and gathered dust in a storage shed. In Omaha it was a computer desk; here's it on shorter legs and holds the tv. The S.O. is fairly handy with tools; over the years he's built quite a bit of our furniture (various iterations of a platform bed with storage beneath, bunkbeds for the kids, loft beds for the kids and grandkids, bookshelves, benches in various styles, storage cabinets, a hutch for my desk).
Live? Current domicile is in northeast Atlanta, just over the DeKalb County line off Buford Highway, in an area known as "Little Mexico" and right on the edge of Congressman John Lewis's district. (Lewis is one of the few positive things I've got to say about Georgia -- in this election I'm actually going to be able to vote for at least candidate I respect and who is not the lesser of two evils.) In the words of Hank Snow, though, I've been everywhere.
Favorite book? Hard to say, but if I had to pin it down to ones that have had an actual influence, I might go by authors -- Thor Heyerdahl, Richard Halliburton in nonfiction, Harlan Ellison, Louise L'Amour, and Robert A. Heinlein in fiction. Neither of the last two produced what you could call great literature, but they crafted aphorisms that tended to stick. L'Amour I can still go back and re-read, Heinlein not so much when it comes to his later work. As for Ellison, he has written great literature, although it's usually discounted because it's speculative fiction. In recent years I've discovered James Lee Burke, although his world view tends to be pretty grim. If I were to be stranded on a desert island, though, and told I had to limit myself to reading material, I'd take Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire novels. Pure escapism.
Incidentally, I blame Thor Heyerdahl for my "Survivor" addiction. I'd read Fatu Hiva multiple times when CBS decided to film the fourth season of "Survivor" there. Could not resist watching due to the setting, and have been a fan since. Which answers the question about favorite tv show.
Favorite movie? Hands down A Boy and His Dog. Post-apocalyptic with a Mad Max feel four years before Mad Max, super cheezy acting (Don Johnson starred -- that says it all), Jason Robards proving again that an alcoholic actor will take any gig in order to pay the bills, but I still love it. Loved it, loved the original novella -- and the only real gripe I have is that they cast a mixed breed classic shaggy dog (Tiger from the Brady Bunch) as Blood when he was a different breed in the novella. I loved showing this movie when I taught science, technology and society courses: you could hear the students jaws drop at the end. I know Ellison always gets nailed as being misogynistic, with this particular story being trotted out as a prime example, but you could reverse the genders and the outcome would be exactly the same: a girl/boy loves her/his dog.
I also used A Boy and His Dog as a great example of the way we take technology so much for granted that even in post-apocalyptic films there's almost always an assumption it's going to be possible to scrounge for canned goods and ammo indefinitely, but that's the subject for a different post.
And, although the instructions were to infect five other persons with this particular meme, I can only think of three bloggers I read regularly who haven't already done a lot of self-disclosure along these lines: Ranger Bob at the Retread Ranger Station, (is there anything in your house other than Newfoundland accoutrements?), DaveO at The Lake is the Boss (anything non-kayak related?)(Dave spends so much time on the water he probably has webbed feet), and Tracy at Possum Living (where I already know some of the answers, but other inquiring minds might be curious).
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
He also does something that most of the analysts and talking heads fail to do when it comes to discussing the whole subprime mortgage morass: he reminds readers any loan is a two-way transaction. There's been a lot of venting in the news media about people incurring debt they could not afford -- "Good Morning America" is running a tease about talking with a couple who did that even as I type; I'd like to see their mortgage broker sitting next to them, but you know that's not going to happen -- and not nearly enough slamming of the banks for writing all the bad paper in the first place.
The fundamental premise of a loan is that the lender knows what he is doing. It is up to the lender to ensure that he is lending money to a borrower who will be able to repay it, either by securing it with physical assets as collateral or through having sufficient income to make the payments. The borrower relies on the lender to not lend more than the borrower can manage to repay. After all, why would any rational person make a deal that was guaranteed to fail? The answer, of course, is the mortgage broker making the deal didn't care -- he or she wasn't going to be around to deal with the consequences.
Stiglitz then goes on to note that the reaction of the banks to the mess they created is even more illogical: foreclosing on property in a stagnant or sinking real estate market is flat out stupid, although he doesn't phrase it quite that bluntly. Pushing people out of their homes simply increases the inventory of unsold houses on the market, as well as creates inventory that is sitting there empty, unmaintained, subject to vandalism and theft, and decreasing in value with every passing second, more or less guaranteeing that if and when it does sell it'll be for a fraction of what was owed on the mortgage, depressing the real estate market even more. In short, creating a death spiral.
Of course, the huge mega-banks don't care -- they no doubt believe they'll still be able to keep passing around pieces of paper backed by nothing indefinitely, especially now that Congress has made sure the lifeboats are in the water for them -- so my own feeling is it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Part of me thinks this is hilarious -- the worst thing they can find to say about Obama is that he's acquainted with a guy who helped create the Weather Underground back when Obama was 9 years old -- but another part recognizes just how incredibly stupid the the average American can be. I look at Ayers and see someone who sold out big time when it comes to being a radical -- he's a college professor living a comfortable middle class lifestyle now, after all, who as far as I can tell has avoided being on the front lines of activism for the past 30 years. Unlike a number of his contemporaries who remained radicals until the day they died, Ayers seems to have figured out early on that given a choice between risking prison again and blending into the woodwork, blending looked good. For sure he's never been spotted risking re-arrest by pouring blood on missile silos or picketing the front gate at Fort Benning during the annual protests against the School of the Americas. Ayers should be a complete nonissue.
The McCain slime machine is doing its best to change that, though. To hear some of the comments going around you'd think Ayers was holding pipe-bomb building classes in kindergarten classrooms even as I type this.
At least, and I will concede this to the Republicans, the Ayers slur has a marginal basis in fact: Ayers was a radical long, long ago; Ayers has been rather stupid in his comments about the good old days; and he and Obama do know each other. Some of the other weirdness that's been popping up on C-SPAN this weekend, though, has me thinking it's definitely time to pass out the tin foil hats to the wackaloons on the far right.
Example: Michelle Obama isn't an American. She was born in Iran. That's definitely going to be news to all her relatives in South Carolina. Where does this stuff come from? Just what sort of drugs is Rush Limbaugh still on? Because any time I hear something truly screwy I figure the source has to be Rush -- he's got that long, long history of making crap up (remember Hillary murdered Vince Foster?) and then claiming later it was intended as parody or satire. That Michelle Obama isn't an American has to be one of his latest efforts because several different people called in to recite the same claim in almost identical language -- and once again I was wishing the moderator would break out of the very careful objective pose and react with a nice blunt "Are you fucking nuts?!" I do admire the ability of the C-SPAN moderators to refrain from telling people they're delusional, but there are days. . .