September 30, 2008

Getting to the good stuff

Ever try to watch a YouTube video where someone said, "Skip for to the 5:20 mark to see..."? Yeah, that first 5:19 usually blows great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts. Anyway, here's something that will make the viewing a lot less painful: Splicd. Check out this description from Lifehacker:

Web site Splicd creates custom links to embedded YouTube videos that start and stop at any time you define, allowing you to skip straight to the good part and avoid the rest. Let's say, for example, you've stumbled onto a gem on YouTube but had to suffer through 10 minutes of complete boredom to get there. You want to share the video with a friend, but you don't want her to have to sit through the whole mess for 20 seconds of pure gold. Just paste the URL of the video into Splicd, give it your desired start and end time, and it generates a custom link that starts and stops the video where you told it to (like this one).

Pretty cool stuff.

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September 25, 2008

Required reading

I am truly in awe of what Iowahawk manages to do on a regular basis. If Mother Jones syndicated his column, I would subscribe to the commie pinko rag, just to get my fix. Excerpt:


Linda, we both know that credit is the lifeblood of the American economy. But today millions of Americans like myself are saddled with enormous adjustable rate mortgage debt which we can no longer pay, through no fault of our own. We were suckered in by deceptive easy-money advertising come-ons, confusing refinance deals, and free igloo coolers. And now, with a slowdown in the blog economy, some of us can barely make the payments on our quad-runners, let alone a crushing $1.2 million debt on a house that our appraiser says is worth $40,000 in scrap lumber, tops. America's economic future depends on us having the peace of mind to know our homes and 56" 1080 HD big screens won't be yanked from under us. That's why I oppose the proposed bailouts being discussed in Congress. Instead of paying trillions to Wall Street insiders and corporate fatcats, shouldn't Congress be targeting those trillions directly to needy Americans like me?

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Free ice cream!

Got a Coldstond Creamery near your house? Be sure to stop by between 5:00 and 8:00 tonight to get a free 3 oz. serving. Any donations that you make will benefit the Make A Wish Foundation.

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Coming soon

Well, this year's trip to Denver will mark my 10th mostly annual (my daughter was born GABF weekend one year) pilgrimage to the Great American Beer Festival. As yet, I don't know which section I will be volunteering in, although I can predict with a great degree of certainty that it will be somewhere within the 50 (or 57) states. In any event, if any readers or fellow MuNuvians are in the Denver area Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, October 9-11, look for me in the Colorado Convention Center or in the downtown area. Outside of the GABF, I'll be wearing my Ace t-shirt or my Nuke the Moon! t-shirt. Inside the hall, I'll be wearing a volunteer t-shirt over my nasty conservative credentials. However, once I find out what section I'll be pouring in, I'll post it on this blog.

One final thought: we typically head down to Old Chicago's for a Thai Pie and pitcher of Fat Tire after the festival ends, so I can be found down there between 10:30 p.m. and midnight most days.

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September 24, 2008

Required reading

Orson Scott Card not only adopted the town in which I grew up, he's a pretty fair writer. Excerpt:

Is Obama really so stupid that he believes that Bush is merely doing what Obama called for a year ago?

Of course he's not stupid. He's lying. He's pretending that there's no difference between his position then and Bush's (and McCain's) achievement now. He thinks that the American people are so dumb that they will take his obviously-false claims at face value.
Obama ludicrously claimed that running his campaign for the past year is somehow comparable to governing a state. What a laugh! In the campaign, everybody serves at the candidate's pleasure. In the executive branch, most of the employees are under civil service regulations and can't be fired.

If Obama doesn't understand the difference, he really is unqualified to be President, because he clearly doesn't have a clue.
Where and when has Obama taken anybody on in his own party? Where is his vote that flew in the face of his party's discipline, like many of McCain's? Obama liked to claim that McCain voted with President Bush ninety percent of the time. But that means McCain voted against a President from his own party ten percent of the time.

Meanwhile, Obama has voted with the extreme left of his party, right in line with the party leadership, one hundred percent of the time.

That ten percent of McCain's votes that went against his party is actually a remarkable record of independence. One that Obama has never even attempted.
f we wanted to elect a man who yearns for America's defeat and can never admit to making a mistake, we could have elected John Kerry four years ago.

A lot of us really wanted to elect you as America's first African-American president.

But there are things more important to our future than mere tokenism. You should only be our President if you are the best person for the job, and you clearly are not.

We don't need a president who hasn't the courage to admit that his previous policy failed and openly change his mind -- the way President Bush did when he determined to change strategy and execute the surge.

We saw your true colors when you sneered at white middle-class voters who cling to guns and religion because they're bitter, as if an entire class of "those people" can be analyzed and dismissed in a sentence.

McCain was not my choice for President at the beginning of the campaign a couple of years ago, Mr. Obama. You were. I rooted for you. I voted for you as recently as the North Carolina primary.

Obviously, I have changed my mind. Why?

I learned a little more about McCain. I learned a lot more about you.

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Food for thought

As I mentioned, I cannot quit politics entirely, especially in a presidential election year. Anyway, Patrick Reddy types an article that posits Eight Keys to 2008. Excerpt:

2. Will race sink Obama?
The problem for Democrats is that the last two elections were decided by less than three points, and this year is that close, so even a small racial vote could tip the balance here. As of September 14, the average of national polls complied by showed the horserace essentially even. Assuming that undecided white voters will break heavily against the black candidate in the privacy of the voting booth, Obama is actually behind right now. As my former boss, CNN Analyst Bill Schneider used to say, any black candidate below 50 percent in late polls in a two-way race is extremely vulnerable.
#8 Is Obama’s support too geographically concentrated? Obama will probably carry New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia by a total of 5 million votes, but in an electoral-college system where each state’s winner gets all the state’s delegates (except in Maine and Nebraska), it wouldn’t make any difference if he carried these states by one vote each. If the national popular vote is close, that means that McCain is ahead in most other places: Generally speaking, Republican votes are more efficiently spread across the small states of the Heartland. By carrying battleground states by one percent or less, McCain could win the election without winning the popular vote.

I made point #8 to some friends recently about the popular vote versus the electoral college. States like CA, NY and MA have become even more Democratic the last few years, meaning that a Lamppost-D would probably win a huge majority of votes in those states. However, those votes do not translate to other states, meaning that a handful of states will almost definitely decide the election. I don't have a feel overall on how things will go, but I'll make a stab at a couple of states:

1) Virgina: I predict that McCain will carry the state, albeit by a small margin. Fairfax County, a Democrat stronghold, has grown a lot the last few years. However, polls in VA historically under count that final GOP vote tally by 5%-8% (Dole was behind by a couple of points, but won by 4% against Clinton). Even if that discrepancy is now down to 4%, McCain will almost certainly win the state's electoral votes if polls going into election day show him within 2%-3% of Obama.

2) Colorado: Right now, I think that Obama will probably win the state's electoral votes. If he does not, I think that it's over for Obama. The possibility exists that the debates will cause a shift, or Joe Biden will make another spectacularly Bidenesque gaffe to turn the tide, but I'll go with my gut.

3) Florida: McCain wins here, unless he goes on an axe-wielding rampage in a retirement community.

4) Ohio: It's gonna be close, but I think that McCain wins here as well. Too many 2nd Amendment voters live in that state, I believe, for Obama to win. Also, I think that we could see a 1%-2% Bradley/Wilder (for us VA residents) effect at play.

5) New Hampshire: This one's tight and could go either way. I might change my mind, but McCain is popular in this state and I think that it will flip into the GOP column.

6) Pennsylvania: If the election were today, McCain would almost certainly carry it over the "no clean coal" ticket. Also, there are a large number of blue collar Democrats in the state who appear to be less than fond of Obama, although this group's antipathy will be offset quite a bit by the fact that the state is strongly pro-union. Kerry won PA by a narrow margin over Bush in 2004 and I would normally expect a similar result this year. However, the anti-coal message of the Democratic ticket, the anti-elitist sentiment against Obama, combined with, again, a small Bradley/Wilder effect will flip this state to McCain by a slim, slim margin.

7) The rest of the states remain their election day 2004 color.

That's my political analysis of how the race stands TODAY. How it will look after the debates is anyone's guess. Also, I have way of predicting what national and/or world events might occur before election day that could influence the race. I'll revisit this analysis right before the election and, afterwards, compare it to the actual election results.

Update: I almost forgot: I think that New Mexico will flip back to blue this year. Just an FYI.

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September 23, 2008

Because I can't quit politics

Okay, I give: I can't entirely ignore politics on this blog because I'm too much of a news junkie. I'll make a few points and then go back to boring everyone with whatever amuses me:

1) The 50 state campaign was a fool's errand. Obama, not being a fool, is concentrating on the 10 states likely to decide the election.

2) I still don't like McCain the politician; actually, I loathe him, although I respect him both as a man and for his service to this country in the time of war. However, I like Gov. Palin a great deal.

3) Those of you who continue to claim the Palin is unqualified for Veep while simultaneously claiming that Obama IS qualified for President are, to be blunt, full of shit and fooling no one. The best quote that I've seen on the topic is from a liberal commenting over at Rick Moran's site:

Note to my fellow Obama supporters:

Obama has accomplished essentially nothing in the public sphere. It’s a fact. Live with it.

My reasons to support Obama over McCain are 1) I prefer Obama’s positions to McCain’s, 2) I think Obama will do a better job of uniting the country, 3) I think McCain is a man of the past and Obama is a man of the future.

Stop pretending Obama is something he’s not. It’s waste of time and you’re playing a losing game.

The appropriate response to accusations about Obama’s lack of experience is to laugh and say, “You gave up that argument when you nominated the mayor of Wasilla.” And then talk policy.

I'd quibble about his final sentence comparing the Dem #1 to the GOP #2, but he's pretty much spot on otherwise.

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A worthy goal

Aldawen created the Tolkein Reading Quest blog with the stated goal "to read through Tolkein's works on Middle-earth". You can find the list here; it's quite extensive. I'll admit to having more than a little head start on this list, but it looks quite doable.

BTW, it's a good time to start: The Hobbit turned 71 two days ago.

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Old school gamin'

As good as computer games are today, I sometimes feel a twinge of nostalgia over games that I played long ago (the 1980s and 1990s). My current computer thumbs its electronic nose at these games, and will not allow me to play them. At least, it didn't allow me to play them. I give you DosBox, a DOS emulator which will play some/most/a lot of old DOS style games. You can find lots of games to download here.

Here's how you setup and install DosBox, including how to run your old games.

One thing that I'm not entirely clear on is whether or not I can install my old games via DosBox. I'll give it a try and report back to you. Feel free to try it yourself and let me know.

Yeah, that last part was a nudgenudge-winkwink sort of a hint.

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September 22, 2008

Updating the blogroll

Rosemary has new digs, which was good to find out. I was wondering where she had gone and now I know.

Thanks to docweasel for the update.

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Well, this sucks

Maybe he wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but I always found Bane to be interesting and entertaining. I was horribly shocked to see that he has died.

Go in peace, Bane. Y'all should stop by and offer your condolences to the family he left behind.

Update: From Vox, who first introduced me to Bane, comes this poem in memoriam.

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September 18, 2008

Legend of the Seeker

I, for one, look forward to the television event that I hope the television adaptation of Wizard's First Rule, The Legend of the Seeker will become.

Just to whet your appetite, here's an image of Kahlan and Richard.

For the record, I won't have my Ral Partha figurines out on a map of the Westlands and D'Hara. At least, not so far as you know.

Update: One more picture.

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Well, this looks promising

Eoin Colfer has been given permission to write a 6th book in the Hitchhiker's Guide series.

Maybe it'll be good, but I think that six books is just too long for a trilogy. Five I can stomach, but six is right out.

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Important announcement

Don't forget that September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

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September 15, 2008

Load movies onto your iPod

I don't actually own and iPod, but a friend of mine asked me last week how to go about converting DVDs that she owns into video viewable on her itty bitty screen. There are several methods that I'm aware of; here are a few:

  • Use DVD Decrypter and Videora iPod Converter. Note: While I use DVD43 a lot, I'm not certain that its' entirely necessary for this to work, as DVD Decrypter does a fine job removing the protection from commercial DVDs. Also, I don't own an iPod and am therefore unfamiliar with Videora. However, here's one site for you to download from.
  • Use DVDx, Xilisoft and iTunes 6.0. This article is several years old. For all I know, iTunes 60.0 is available for download.
  • Use Handbrake (Mac OS only): Okay, there is a version of Handbrake for Windows available, but it shat itself rather spectacularly on my laptop, which means that I won't recommend it. For Mac people though, it might be your best bet.

And there you have it.

This political season, while quite entertaining, is starting to bore me. It's become so predictable on both sides of the political aisle that I can make more accurate predictions than Nostradamus. Except for this year's winner, of course, because I have no freaking idea. Anyway, I'd much rather post entries about geeky computer stuff, beer and stale jokes In fact, I plan to get back to my Brewing Beer series, which I left woefully incomplete.

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September 11, 2008

Seven years later

It's been 7 years since the Towers came tumbling down, and I still want to believe that it's a dream that I just cannot wake up from. Anyway, Ace reposted his 2007 memorial. It's worth reading in its entirety, but I'll excerpt a few bits below to whet your appetite:

For a time, for a week after, we were all united. There is no tragedy that does work some small amount of good by bringing people together, if only for a time, if only because the pain of enduring is too much for any one to bear alone. It was a false unity, of course. We would later learn that we had not come together closer -- at least, not more than superficially, and not more than temporarily -- and had in fact moved further apart than ever before. The problem was, of course, that 9/11 had profound implications for Americans' divergent worldviews. For conservatives like us, it confirmed -- like nothing, nothing had done before, at least not since World War II -- that there were monstrous evils in the world for whom the only acceptable solution was purposeful and relentless violence.

For another group, the liberals, 9/11 was a blip, a short-term disruption of their worldview. For a while we believed we were united, but we were not. Liberals held that greater than any enemy was warfare itself. The necessary implications of this were that all possible courses of action were preferable to the United States engaging in acts of warfare, and further, that it must be true that the United States had within it the power to avoid all war simply by modifying its own behavior. One must believe that if one is truly pacifist: If one believes war can and must be avoided at all costs, one must by implication believe one can and must avoid war at all costs by changing the behavior of one's own country, for changing the behavior of other countries can only be accomplished via war and lesser, but still warlike, means.

Update: No 9/11 remembrance would be complete without a link to Michele's Voices Project, a great collection of stories and essays. Be sure to check out her PJM article as well.

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September 10, 2008

And now for something completely different

Rather than discuss -again- the ugly nature of politics, I'll mention something that's a great deal more important to me: my wife and I are expecting child #3. It's an exciting time, to be sure, but I'm already preparing for the inevitable comments at his/her high school graduation:

"Oh, isn't that sweet. Your grandfather came to your graduation."

For the record, I consider that a feature, not a bug.

Update: All of you are making be blush. Thanks for your well wishes. Like I did with #2, I'll post a newborn picture as soon after birth as I'm able to take a breath. Considering that I'll be caring for 2 other children, that might be sometime around 2020.

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September 05, 2008

Common sense

From an expected source.

John Scalzi and I differ quite a bit politically, but he's always given the impression of being a decent guy, and not just at his book signings. Anyway, he makes the following comment, which I think everyone should read:

And at the end of the proverbial day, this election is the guys who are the headliners: about McCain and Obama, and their policies and plans, or lack thereof. One of these guys is a rock star, and the other isn’t — and to be honest, I hope that doesn’t matter, either. What should matter, and what I hope will matter, is the substance of the two candidates. Substance is not what people come to “rock stars” for. But it should be what we look for in a president.

Update: He also doesn't take kindly to anyone, regardless of political stripe, crapping in his sandbox:

Also remember that this site gets lots of people of all sorts of political persuasion visiting, including persuasions that aren’t mine, and I see that as a feature, not a bug. Also, you know what? Each of them are my guests. Please don’t be rude to my guests. Because then I might be compelled to be rude to you. And as we all know, I’m really good at being rude.

I've seen Mr. Scalzi angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

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What he said

Frank J. echoes pretty much what I was thinking while watching McCain's speech last night:

He's McCain; what else can you say. You may not like him, but it will be hard to meet anyone half the man he is.

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September 04, 2008

Back to politics

And humor. Sweet, delicious, wicked humor.

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