Friday, January 29, 2010

That's how it seems to me too

Yes, use of the filibuster has been increasing, but it really just went nuts in the last couple years since the GOP has found itself uncomfortably in the minority...

Quote of the day

The opponents of reform have found their bumper sticker, their slogan, their rallying cry, it's one word: No. You can read that on a bumper. Our bumper sticker has -- it's just way too many words. And it says, "Continued on next bumper sticker."
- Sen. Al Franken,
speaking with health care activists on Tuesday

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Warm weather faces of Speck

The family went to Aruba for a stretch right after Christmas, and Speck greatly enjoyed the pools, ocean, sand, zipping around on local golf carts and buses, and all the novel fun. Here are a few shots from along the way (all at a little over 22 months).

Silly look of Speck in (Gammy's) specs...

Speck's first wading pool -- the expression stems from challenges of stepping down a step, not from any lack of enthusiasm!!! She loved it.

An inner tube lets Speck join Mom and Dad in the big pool.

Another first, the hammock ride appears to be a success!

Ah, warm weather with cool breezes -- I sure miss it! Speck seems just fine with the renewed opportunity to stomp puddles under a cold grey sky...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Virtual becomes reality

Was just fascinated by this article about how real football players are improving their performance by spending time playing video games, specifically Madden NFL football. The simulations are good enough that it's increasing offensive players' ability to read defensive positions, defenders' ability to recognize plays, and ball-carryers' ability to work the clock. Even high school and college teams are coding in their plays for some off-field practice. Amazing!


Poem of the day

The Gift

Time wants to show you a different country. It's the one
that your life conceals, the one waiting outside
when curtains are drawn, the one Grandmother hinted at
in her crochet design, the one almost found
over at the edge of the music, after the sermon.

It's the way life is, and you have it, a few years given.
You get killed now and then, violated
in various ways. (And sometimes it's turn about.)
You get tired of that. Long-suffering, you wait
and pray, and maybe good things come - maybe
the hurt slackens and you hardly feel it any more.
You have a breath without pain. It is called happiness.

It's a balance, the taking and passing along,
the composting of where you've been and how people
and weather treated you. It's a country where
you already are, bringing where you have been.
Time offers this gift in its millions of ways,
turning the world, moving the air, calling,
every morning, "Here, take it, it's yours."
- William Stafford
(via whiskey river)

He sees you when you're sleeping...

row of colored capsules...or at least whether or not you're taking your pills as directed. Ok, maybe there are some neat tricks to this "smart pill" technology, but it feels like just another personal boundary done away with...

(via rebecca's pocket)

Link heap, Tuesday edition

So much going on, so much frustration, outrage (post-Bush edition), uncertainty. Here's a bunch of it...
  • Stupid underwear-bomber made my trip home from the holidays hellish. One anticipates another round of pointless reactionary upping of intrusiveness, further diminishing my interest in flying. The best reaction to the whole thing that I've seen is by Fareed Zakaria: Don't panic. Fear is al-Qaeda's real goal. Indeed. His suggestion that breaches of security be treated like airplane crashes -- dispassionately, with a view to learning what could be done better -- is an excellent one that will probably go unheard.

  • Lots of panic, wavering, uncertainty on healthcare reform in the wake of the Great Lost Supermajority. I like Krugman here: the best way to disprove the lies is to pass something and let people see it in action. That's certainly preferable to letting things continue to suck, which will likely benefit the Republicans (and none of the public). The Washington Monthly has a telling observation about how Dems and the GOP respond to defeats; perhaps it's time to learn not to run scared, especially when poll after poll says that the public wants relief from our crazy healthcare morass...

  • The economy seems stalled, with stimulus money still trickling out and unemployment stuck at the painful 10% level. Nothing more that can be done, or is it just that stable prices are more important than people's livelihoods? I'm ready for Bernanke to move along. Leaks about the Obama spending freeze (bleah) appear designed to set up some saner proposal in the State of the Union tomorrow; I hope to hear something promising on both that and the prospects of health care...

Monday, January 25, 2010


line drawing of a computerYes, I really laughed: a typical incendiary blog post.
(Don't miss the comments!)

(via a Medley tweet)

Edit: See also this self-referential song video... Just cracks me up...
Edit2: The (now much longer) comment thread to the "incendiary blog post" above has now moved that link into my list of All-time Favorite Internet Things.

We live in odd times

Maybe America has always had its contingent of wackos. But apparently now they think they deserve some respect from the establishment too....

(via Talking Points Memo)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We could all use a little baby cuteness right now

From the latest batch of videos, now with recorded evidence of Speck talking a mile a minute...

A little game that Speck and Dad have developed, here revisited at 21.5 months...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On politics, healthcare, and closing the barn door after the horses are gone...

Nancy Pelosi has an excellent grasp on things that the average voter can afford to overlook: politics has to be done when possible, lest circumstances change in an unforseeable way. Every aspect of the painful course of healthcare reform have made that clear, including the fact that the moment might have already zipped past us.

Jon Stewart summarizes the situation best, as he so often does -- the strategic lapses, the ridiculous double standard of Washington, the head-banging frustration of it all. Gotta watch the whole thing.

No idea how the election in MA will turn out, but very much afraid that meaningful healthcare reform, one of the most pressing issues of our times, might never happen. (And then things only get worse.) Happy to be wrong!!!!!

(first link via a Medley tweet; last via Atrios)

Twitter quote of the day

No, I'm not a pessimist. At some point the world shits on everybody. Pretending it ain't shit makes you an idiot, not an optimist.
- shitmydadsays

Friday, January 15, 2010

And now for something a little lighter...

T-blockoh. my. lord.
First-person tetris. An inspired re-envisioning.
My cerebellum prepares to be rewired!! :)

(via kottke)

Three bits on Haiti

  • Doctors Without Borders arrives on the scene with instant hospitals ready to inflate. Yay for the good guys! (and a good place to give funds)

  • Jon Stewart reprimands the haters and those attempting to "make hay" politically from whatever response is made to this major disaster. So much putziness, so little humanity...

  • The inimitable The Bag notes a color inversion of the usual media narrative, as local police help excavate trapped U.N. workers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good news, bad news, interesting stuff...

Just a few striking links for the day, escaping my usual efforts at grouping or categorization...
  • I consider this report to be pretty good news. Fingers crossed.

  • I really don't want to think about this scenario. Democrats need to get busy in MA!!

  • Enjoyable and thought-provoking: 100 Skills Everyone Should Master, from MightyGirl. More extensive than the classic list from Heinlein, and a little more broadly applicable, even if not perfect -- probably some things there that we should all aspire to. In addition, it led me to the sublime How to Give a Eulogy. Wonderful perspective for those who foresee giving a eulogy and also for those who never will.

Nothing beats a good metaphor

The unstoppable Cory Doctorow makes a great analogy between innovation in music and the proliferation of online media, generating insight into both: close enough for rock-n-roll. Good stuff.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Belated Christmas pics

Just finished processing a huge batch of photos and videos that spanned Christmas, some post-holiday travel, and more. Whew! Will dole them out over a couple of weeks, but thought I should start with a record of our first Christmas tree, Speck opening some presents, etc.

tree (decorated) and fireplace (with candles) on Christmas morning
Here's how our tree and fireplace looked on Christmas morning. Speck helped decorate the former, and then insisted that she have some minutes to admire the lit tree each day and/or evening. "look! look!"

baby with Dad, train track, and present
Speck, surrounded by yield of former presents, gets ready to "tear ope!" the next...

crazy colorful bristle blocks, with baby!
Surprise fun: some wacky bristle blocks from Papou.

Mom, Dad, Speck, all in holiday finery
Finally, a rare family shot from Christmas brunch with Gammy.

Quote of the day

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.
- Diane Ackerman
(via whiskey river)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Where good health really comes from

thought pyramidOne of the most inspired things I've seen in a long time is this "food for thought" pyramid (pdf). It points out all the factors that contribute to our long-term well-being that don't come out of a bottle, book, or even necessarily our determination. A good reminder.

(via Alas, a blog)

Too much to hope

Lieberman is super-unpopular in Connecticut, even with the Republicans who elected him in the general last time. Still, 2012 is a long way off, and voters tend to have very short memories...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Year's link-dump

A new year, a new decade (I leave the pedantry to others), a ridiculous heap of tabs open on my browser. Time for a clean slate! Here are a number of things, from the serious to the ludicrous, that have caught my interest in recent weeks. Apologies that I've lost track of where I found most of these!
  • Face recognition software (for which, I'll admit, I don't have any application) appears to fail for black people. Oops!! I like the mix of humor and incredulity here.

  • Healthcare reform isn't just an abstract policy issue -- it's life and death for people whose current coverage is running out for one or another inhumane reason. Insurers don't want to carry people with chronic conditions, even if straightforward interventions keep them healthy; I guess that the stratospheric costs of covering them after their (uncorrected) health collapses don't really matter, as long as they're off the books and somebody else's problem...

  • Speaking of healthcare, there's a delicious (snarky) irony in the fact that Rush Limbaugh got such great medical treatment from HI's highly unionized, socialized medical system (i.e., one of the most progressive in the country). Sure, Rush, if we all had care like that, we probably *wouldn't* need reform...

  • Atrios has some good points on US industrial policy (or lack thereof). Often the same guys who argue loudest for free-rein capitalism are those getting the most from the antiquated set of incentives and subsidies we already have.

  • Amusing, and not without truth: Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy -- the complaints of this first-world modern life...

  • I'm not a phone texter, yet anyway, but the value of this application is immediately obvious to me -- really, I'd like a similar application for a book reader, since I'm more likely to be reading while I'm walking my daily commute, but so far peripheral vision has been enough.

  • A good tip for anybody at any time: 10 words you need to stop misspelling. Am tempted to buy the poster of this one, but that just wouldn't help with emailers and other folks in the e-world...
    (via Lou at work)

  • And finally, for your amusement, a touching tribute to the lesser kudu from the late Brad Graham. I hope we'll all use the gift of another year to be the best damn kudus we can be!