Sunday, October 31, 2010

I May Have Overdone It

Beautiful morning for biking, a little brisk at first. Got to Midway and decided that, since I'd eaten at Azur twice in the past week, I should keep going. So went on to Spring Hill Station, then back through downtown Versailles, 43.4 miles, 3h25m. Legs not great, butt definitely hurts.
Early on saw two huge red-tailed hawks, on Van Meter and on Redd. The 2nd one paced me for a while, it was doing 16 mph stoking real easy. Saw a third hawk up in a tree on Military Pike when almost home, couldn't tell what kind it was.
Took a pic of a stand of sycamores west of Paynes Depot about 1/2 mile north of Old Frankfort Pike.
I noticed riding that I'm thinking about politics, blogging, taking pix, music, and not spending near enough time in the Here and Now. Prolly need to do some yoga or otherwise adjust my neuro-receptor mix to get the self-plex to quiet down some.
Internationally renowned guitarist, the inimitable Ben Lacy was playing at Azur last night. He's added "Today's Tom Sawyer" by Rush to his repertoire. He finished the set with Steely Dan "Aja", probably one of the most complex songs in the modern pop corpus. In the 5 or so years we've been listening to Lacy, he has continuously improved. That's what comes of lots of practice.
Speaking of which, I have had the misfortune to see 8 or so videos of myself performing. Ouch. Off-key singing (way beyond blue notes), never a clean solo. My rhythm guitar playing is probably what I'm going best, far less suckish than the other two. I am thinking I will refrain from playing in public until I can practice more regularly.
Time to call some voters. I really don't like doing this, but, soldiering on ...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Random Paul's Top 10 Randomisms

I named him "Random Paul" because I was guessing no one would be able to predict what came out of his mouth. He surely did not disappoint. We don't just have a top 10, we have a baker's dozen!

I have also given each randomism a rating from 0 to 3 points in the following categories, which reflect various aspects of the simple yet complex package that is Random Paul:

  • sense of entitlement (E);
  • self-serving (S);
  • naivete/cluelessness, often from those Libertarian principles of his (N);
  • not from around here (Kentucky, not the planet Earth) (F for furriner);
  • delusional (D).
So, let's get started!
#13. "I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business."

??? Obama administration officials are critical of British Petroleum creating the largest oil leak in history, off the coast of Louisiana, and its un-American ???

E+1, N+1, D+1

#12. Aqua Buddha

Yes, the attack ad was smarmy, but: you do stupid stuff in college, you run for national office, you will get called on it. You then say "I was young and stupid and I'm sorry I did it" or "It was just youthful hijinks" or "I didn't inhale". But not Random, no sir. He calls everyone liars and affects great outrage. He probably had just finished the Faux News "Outrage 101" course and wanted to practice.

E+2, D+1

#11. "Medicare deductibles need to be raised to $2000."

Sure, he was just speaking hypothetically.


#10. "I don't think anyone's going to be missing a hill or two here or there."

Unless you grew up there. Or hunted there. Or watched the sun set there.

Mountain top removal mining is visible from space.

E+1, N+1, F+2

#9. "Repeal the 16th Amendment and replace the graduated income tax with a sales tax."

Sales taxes (31% in this case) are well known to be regressive -- the less money you make, the greater a percentage of your income you pay.

S+1, E+1, N+1

#8. Drug abuse in Eastern Kentucky: "I don't think it's a real pressing issue"

And we don't need any Federal funding to try to do something about being the oxycodone capital of the US.

N+2, F+3, D+1

#7. "Keep Kentuckians' tax dollars home."

Instead of sending them to those wastrels in Washington. The only problem is, Kentucky is a poor state and receives back from Washington $1.50 for every $1.00 it sends in.

Oops. I would have thought a doctor would be a little better at math.

N+3, F+2, D+1

#6. "Physicians deserve to make a comfortable living."

The rest of us, not so much???

This was in opposition to lowering Medicare reimbursement rates. Government programs bad, bad, bad -- unless they're putting money in Random's pocket.

E+2, S+3, N+1

#5. "It's famous for, like, The Dukes of Hazzard."

Random was trying to figure out why Harlan County was famous. All he could come up with was that it was near Hazard, famous for "the dukes of". Never heard of Bloody Harlan.

"There exists a virtual reign of terror (in Harlan County), financed in general by a group of coal mine operators in collusion with certain public officials: the victims of this reign of terror are the coal miners and their families." -- Governor Ruby Laffoon, 1935.

N+2, F+3

#4. "Maybe sometimes accidents happen."

And miners die. Or oil workers die. But hopefully, the CEO of BP has "gotten his life back" now that he's been fired.

E+2, N+1, F+2

#3. "You’d try to make good rules to protect your people here."

In saying why the federal government should not be involved in mine safety and inspection. The mine owners own the local government as well as the mines, in addition to having considerable clout at the state level. But, I'm sure that the mine owners are all kindler and gentler now.

Random continues "If you don’t, I’m thinking that no one will apply for those jobs.” Yah, there are lots of other jobs for them to apply for in most coal towns.

E+2, S+1, N+2, F+3, D+1

#2. "It's a crowd control problem."

Random's supporters/Brownshirts throw a defenseless woman to the curb and one of them stomps on her head. Random's campaign disassociates itself from the stomper -- their Bourbon county chairman -- but doesn't return his $1900 contribution.

It's not "a crowd control problem" when teabaggers nationwide engage in thuggish behavior. Faux News and Rush Blowhard and their ilk scream "get mad, get outraged, get angry" 24x7. And they're surprised when things like this happen? I think not.

The stomper wants the stompee to apologize to him. I guess it's the Republican way -- the guy Darth Cheney shot wound up apologizing to him.

E+2, S+1, N+1, D+1

#1. "I R A Certifying Board"

Random Paul doesn't think it's fair that The American Board of Ophthalmology is grandfathering in older diplomates (who were given undated certificates) such that they don't have to recertify (but he does). So he creates his own certifying board (7 diplomates so far), with himself as president, his wife as vice-president, and his father-in-law as secretary. He creates his own certification board, and hangs a certificate on his office wall saying he's "board certified" -- to me, that is fraud, pure and simple.

Libertarians I have discussed this with say:

  1. "Patients should be responsible for researching the certificate he hangs on his wall."
  2. "I admire that, he figured out a way to beat the system and took it."
The more I find out about Libertarianism, or Anarcho-Capitalism as my niece Julie most astutely labeled it, the more it seems to me to be a form of sociopathy. I wonder if there's a genetic component? Maybe they have fewer mirror neurons, which cause us to feel what others feel, and are the source of our natural empathy?

E+2, S+3, D+2

Of course, as his handlers reined him in and muzzled him, he's repudiated probably half of these statements.

Let's see how those ratings turned out (drum roll; results being tabulated by spreadsheet). And the winner is:

  • naivete/cluelessness (N) 16
  • sense of entitlement (E) 15
  • furriner (F) 15
  • self-serving (S) 9
  • delusional (D) 8
If Random does get elected, I would expect we won't have to be embarrassed too long. A year tops, he will get his book deal, pull a Palin and quit, and go to work full time for Faux News. Random's adherence to that most sacred of Libertarian principles, selfishness, demands nothing less.

One last piece of random Random coverage: the toupee!

I thought that it was just a bad perm until my sister pointed out that googling "Rand Paul toupee" gets 15,000 matches. (Googling "rand paul stomp" now gets 23,200,000 matches. Millions spent for World Equestrian Games, and now we go from being Horse Capital of the World to Head Stomping Capital of the World.) Wow, it has its own Facebook page! Here he has a chance to bond with his fellow male-pattern-baldness sufferers, like me, and he instead decides to live in a pretend world of "I still have hair". Tsk, tsk, tsk -- we should have added "narcissism" to our list of personality traits above. A number 2, 1, or 0 all over is the answer, not a rug.

The top three comments from a lengthy blog discussion:

  • I kept waiting for Rand Paul’s hairpiece to rise up and say “I can haz cheeseburger?”
  • Now that I think about it, though, it’s wonderful that someone has finally found a practical use for a Tribble.
  • Somebody stole the tail off that poor man’s Davy Crockett hat.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Yellow Lines

What a beautiful day to be on a bike. Temperature perfect, but headwinds all the way home. I decided to try the Legacy Trail again. 15.7 miles from my house to the Horse Park. The trail is nice and flat, but on the whole trip, I had to stop for lights and come out of a clip 3 times. I think I prefer the county roads. Came back Ironworks to Yarnallton -- headwinds 5-10 mph as soon as I turned onto Yarnallton to head south.

The new yellow lines were an accident. Instead of going right on Greendale off of Spurr, I went right on Sandersville. Residential, but it connects Georgetown to Leestown, right? Wrong. I had to take Masterson Station to Leestown and come in to Alexandria rather than out.

Fell over on Parkers Mill. Tried to go around on the right a minivan stopped for the light at Lane Allen. Front wheel went into the grass, which sloped down pretty steeply. Over to the left I went, on the road in front of the minivan. The woman driving it (about my age) got out and was concerned. "I'm OK, totally my fault, sorry." Small scrape on the left elbow, slightly sprained left wrist (worse than the last time I did this). Worse injury was of course to my pride. Hopefully I can play Wednesday. I played my political song last Wednesday at Lynagh's. Off-key singing worse than the 2 bars where I forgot the chords, I wanted to try again. Last sprained wrist I had I did not play the following Wednesday.

New music wise, the new Clapton, "Clapton", is really good. All over the place, some nasty swamp boogie grooves, and two (2!) Fats Waller songs, oh yeah!. Also got two more Sufjan Stevens: "Michigan", very nice, 3 stars, and his brand new one, "The Age of Adz", way weird techno and electronica backgrounds, also 3 stars. "Illinoise" remains his best.

Working on "Random Paul's 10 Best Randomisms" for next weekend. Want to make sure and not miss any. His handlers are muzzling him better lately.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Keeneland Kids

So I was at Keeneland today, with one of my wife's groups of coworkers. Beautiful Sunday afternoon, high in the upper 70's, bright sunshine, mild cooling breezes.

I would estimate that 15-20% of the patrons were children, of all ages.

Growing up, my dad loved to bet on the horses, and would go to Churchill Downs, occasionally accompanied by my mom. Going to the track involved Gambling, which was well known to be A Dangerous Adult Activity. There was never, ever any question of the kids accompanying them to the track.

So what do I make of today? I don't think that it's a function of, I am older than dirt. I would guess that this is an attitude unique to Lexington, KY, The Horse Capitol of the World. Keeneland has a special place in the heart of Lexington. It only runs 6 weeks a year. And a disproportionate number of local residents make some or all of their livelihood from the horse industry. Hence, hell yeah, bring the kids out to the track ?!?!?

Comments? Is there any other city in the US where parents would vaguely consider taking their kids to the racetrack to be a fine, respectable Sunday afternoon activity?

Alexander Jablokov

Phew, finally finished reading the Ruby/Rails book, now for something fun.

Alexander Jablokov was a sci-fi author who wrote some very good novels in the early '90s. "Carve The Sky" was an art murder mystery. "A Deeper Sea" gave us talking dolphins that everybody wished would just shut up. But then he kind of disappeared.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I was browsing in Joseph-Beth Booksellers during my brother Mark's signing of his novel "Shine", to see a new Jablokov novel. I started reading "Brain Thief" yesterday. I'm halfway through, so far a lot of fun. Breakneck pace, new characters practically every chapter, nice cheap detective feel.

According to Jablokov's website, sounds like he did a day job and kids for 12 years. Great that he's back writing, Joe Bob sez, check it out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sci-fi Recommendations Off the Top of My Head

The Uplift Trilogy, David Brin.

Anything by Dan Simmons. "Hyperion" and "Fall of Hyperion" are literary, I am rereading soon, for the 4th-5th time.

Gregory Benford "Great Sky River" has several sequels.

Charles Stross is the best new author of the last 5 years.

William Gibson -- "Neuromancer" in 1984 created cyberpunk. Some of the sequels to that were weak, his last 3 novels are totally back in his prime.

Bruce Sterling. Lucius Shepard. Greg Egan. Alexander Jablokov.

Jack McDevitt -- astro-archeology. John Barnes.

Every year, I buy "The Year's Best Science Ficton", edited by Gardner Dozois, currently in its 27th year. That's where you spot the up-and-comers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Rest of the Story

So I posted this to Facebook after playing last night. In the interest of being kinder, gentler, reconciliatory, etc, I pulled it and removed the last two sentences. Here's the original rant.
Random Paul
wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and replace the graduated income tax with a sales tax -- the less money you make, the greater a percentage of your income you pay! Wow, fabulously forward-thinking idea!

I bet the rich people are really mad that they would have to pay so much less than the somewhat less than fair share they pay now!

Teabagger, Republican, Conservative, Libertarian -- I think it's a sliding scale of how far back they want to set the Wayback Machine. It's an increasing scale of sociopathy. Greater good? F### that, me, me, me!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

WHAT’S NEW by Robert L. Park

You can still only get his Friday newsletter by email, so I can't link to it. Here's the first item from yesterday, very well said:

The most essential qualification for a Nobel Prize is often longevity. Now 85 and in failing health; Prof. Edwards was a graduate student at the University of Edinburg in Scotland when he conceived the idea of in vitro fertilization. His colleague, surgeon Patrick Steptoe, died in 1988. The Catholic Church, which opposes IVF, invented the superstition that, at the moment the haploid male and female gametes intertwine in the womb to form a diploid zygote, the Holy Ghost assigns it a soul, thus making it a person. The head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which speaks for the Vatican on medical ethics, criticized the choice of Edwards as, "Completely out of order... Without Edwards there wouldn’t be freezers full of embryos waiting to be used for research, or to die abandoned and forgotten by everyone." Poor things. But he’s not talking about a person or even an embryo; this is a single, undifferentiated cell, human only to the extent that it contains human DNA. So do my nail clippings – but I do not mourn for them. The world needs neither the archaic superstitions of religion, nor more unwanted children. Every IVF child is a wanted child.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Music In

Erica has chided me for communicating with her privately about recent "Music In" rather than blogging about it here. So, I will correct my error.

In particular, after Erica had recommended it for years, I finally purchased "Illinoise", by Sufjan Stevens when it was on sale at amazon for $5. 22 tracks, catchy tunes, great variety in orchestration, instrumentation, and time signatures -- I like one song that alternates between 5 and 6 beats per measure, reminiscent of the Radiohead that alternates between 7 and 8. Really nice album, 4 stars.

I followed that up with "The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album". 21 more tracks, still $5. And the 3 remixes of "Chicago" are different enough that I don't mind them, as I normally do remixes.

The only thing not to like about these is that per Wikipedia, Sufjan (which means "comes with a sword" in ancient Persian) was raised by cultist parents; occasionally has somewhat religious overtones; and actually published a "christian" album. Hopefully he will outgrow this.

Note, this was seriously emo stuff (don't hear that too much anymore), as is our next group.

Greatly enjoyed "The Rhumb Line" by Ra Ra Riot, out of Syracuse. Reviews say reminincent of Vampire Weekend, but they're contemporary or before, so I don't think they should be labeled as just a copy. I really like the cello and violin that are permanent members. Track #5, "Winter '05", really struck me. I am almost embarrassed to post the video thereof, as it demonstrates me to be a hopeless romantic. Sad, sad, sad. 4 stars for this album. I think only three for their next album, "The Orchard".

Also got the latest Of Montreal "False Priest". Not as good as the prior, but still some LOL lyrics from the gayest music that I have ever heard. Three stars.

All over the place -- rap, hip-hop, dance, R&B -- is "The ArchAndroid", by Janelle Monae, an Of Montreal collaborator. 18, tracks, quite an effort, and also on sale for $5 at amazon (ouch, also now back to $7.99, should have posted sooner, sorry). Three stars, probably a few will go to four.

The New Pornographers, "Together". A very nice album, after just a few listens some of the songs felt like old friends. Three stars.

Interpol, "Interpol". Didn't do much for me, three stars (just barely).

Finally, "Lonely Avenue", by Ben Folds, to lyrics by Nick Hornby. If you like Ben Folds, highly recommended, it is vintage stuff. Hornby is at least as much a smart-ass as Folds. I particularly liked "Levi Johnston's Blues" -- a great american saga. Four stars.

I've been trying to use iTunes Ping, without much luck. I can follow artists, but I like stuff (which you have to do at the track level rather than the album level) or post stuff and it seems to go in the bit bucket?!?!? I did a one line review of one album, that seemed to stick. I see where one of my Ping friends bought an album -- presumably on iTunes, which I never do. So far, so bad.

Very Nice. Completely on Point. Not a Single Distracting Digression.

My brother Mark just emailed me this. I really like it. The title says it all.
To the Editor:

Rand Paul recently quoted Ronald Reagan thusly: “Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Still, Republicans across the country are blasting Obama and the Democrats for not creating more jobs, as if they want it both ways.

Which is it? Should government stay out of the private sector and let business run unchecked and unfettered? Or, should government keep a firm hand on the tiller of American commerce to stimulate job growth and ensure we don’t suffer another catastrophic economic meltdown?

Wall Street and the financial sector fought for 30 years to have their industry deregulated. But once their deregulated house of cards collapsed, they all clamored for and received multibillion-dollar bailouts from the federal government. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

Sure, we’re all frustrated with the lackluster state of the economy just now, and Rand Paul and the Tea Party movement have done a great job of capitalizing on that frustration. Unfortunately, they offer little more than bluster and balderdash at a time when we need professionalism and sound policy making.

Rand Paul is not a professional politician. Aside from his nomination to run for senate, his main political accomplishment has been his creation of what is essentially his own private licensing board which certified him as an accredited ophthalmologist.

Rand Paul is certified by the National Board of Ophthalmology, which is an organization led by Rand Paul. Rand Paul’s board has recognized just seven doctors to do ophthalmology as opposed to the 16,000 certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.

That sort of rakish individualism might appeal to some voters, but it clearly illustrates Rand Paul’s disinclination to play by the rules, any rules. Apparently, he wants to make up his own rules as he goes along, rules which are entirely self-serving, and rules that ignore traditional morays and values.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, on the other hand, strongly defends and advocates those rules and laws which ensure the public good. He is a seasoned team player, not a flash-in-the-pan maverick like Rand Paul.

Jack Conway is a conservative Democrat, whereas Rand Paul is not a conservative anything. Rand Paul is a radical, plain and simple, with radical and dangerous ideas such as increasing the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare, and placing a huge deductible on Medicare.

Now more than ever, we need proven and professional politicians in the U.S Senate. We need Jack Conway to serve as our next senator from Kentucky.

Very, very well said. I hope the Courier-Journal prints it.

Random Paul's act of founding his own medical certifying board (which I blogged here) totally sticks in my craw . He creates his own certification board, and hangs a certificate on his office wall saying he's "board certified" -- to me, that is fraud, pure and simple. Libertarians I have discussed this with say:

  1. "Patients should be responsible for researching the certificate he hangs on his wall."
  2. "I admire that, he figured out a way to beat the system and took it."
Self-serving to the point of sociopathy is my diagnosis. :-(

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Things Bears Love

Laughed until I cried. Given to a coop by one of our senior developers as a reward for getting some cool new stuff working.

Surely Not

I'm going try and change the posting style, more to shorter, single topic posts. Hopefully more of them.

So, I can't get over the US Supreme Court's decision to allow unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns, so as not to infringe their right to free speech. This is so contrary to any common sense approach to the Bill of Rights that it totally boggles the mind. And we are already seeing the effects in this midterm election. There are numerous attack ads on Democratic candidates by national groups that no one has ever heard of.

So the question is, did the Supreme Court somehow get bought off? I would have thought that that was impossible. They have lifetime tenure. You would think that achieving what I would guess is the ultimate goal of every legalist would make them very sensitive to their legacy.

I guess I should find the decision and read it -- but that's definitely not my cup of tea. Oh well, I guess I'll just hope "surely not".