Archive for November, 2006

Welcome to the world, Shoshana!

November 15, 2006
On November 5th, my sister-in-law birthed her second child, a girl.  For those of you interested in baby statistics, you’ll be delighted to know that she was 8 lbs at birth and was 20 inches long.  She is Shoshana Peninah, named for her father’s mother and her mother’s great-grandmother.  Her big brother Avi is proud to have a sibling, though he’s had a rough time this week since his daily routine is very disrupted.  Welcome to the world, Shoshana!  (Evelyn says she is *very* cuddly!)


We took Evelyn’s parents to the National Geographic museum, the Hall of Explorers.  It was a lot smaller than I expected, but the stuff they had was neat.  I respect the NGS for their ability to present information in a striking and memorable way without diluting its intellectual quality.  The museum is presently 4 semi-permanant galleries, and it only takes a few hours to take it all in, but it’s worthwhile.

On the other hand, the second floor of the National Portrait Gallery was too large to see in one sitting.  It’s really part of the National Museum of American Art.  This to me is the best art gallery in DC (since I’m not into folk, medieval, or modern art).

As an interesting anecdote, I found $7 in paper money in the gutter on the walk there.  Weird.  What’s also odd is that the Metro vending machines rejected my Sacajaweas… and my Susan B’s.. and my half dollars!  I was both miffed and irked by this.


My brother Neil, in his junior year at Indiana State University, will be studying abroad in Italy next spring.  Mom says the visa application process (the travel papers, not the credit card) have been a corker of an ordeal.  Neil will be spending the first half of 2007 in the eastern town of Macerata.


Internet Toys: Penguin Baseball and How Computers Work.  I’ll admit that I gathered statistics on the first; you should have your speakers on for the latter.

Nifty Wikipedia Thing: Gonzalo Guerrero

What I’m Reading: "Lost Chance in China" by John S. Service

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Some thoughts on Election Day

November 8, 2006
Some thoughts on Election Day:

  • When I was younger, the red states were Democratic and the blue states were Republican.  At some point since 1997 the color convention got reversed.  I still think of it the old way, and it bugs me when the new system is used.
  • I still prefer old-fashioned paper ballots over the electronic machines.  Would you trust your vote to your personal computer?  But really, if the Diebold machines are so error-prone, then that tells me that the market is wide open for a better designed competing product.  I’m sure there’s a lot of Democratic precincts out there who would by them.  C’mon inventors of America, it’s time to build a better mousetrap!
  • Speaking of voting machines, have you heard about the ones used in India?  Maybe if we used those machines, we’d have fewer of these problems.
  • Remember the Iraqi elections in January 2005?  Remember that purple finger dye?  That was a good idea, and I’d like to see it done here.  Andy Looney tells of its benefits better than I: "[It’s] easier to prevent multiple visits to the voting booth […] you have this lovely purple reminder of being part of a democracy on your hand for the next few days [and] you can see who the non-voting slackers in the community are, and chide them for not voting."  It would work a whole lot better than those childish "My vote counted" stickers they hand out.
  • I hate those campaign signs all over our roads.  When they are in private citizens’ yards, that’s okay.  It shows me who supports who and helps me get to know my neighborhood.  But when they are on road medians it’s only a matter of money, who can afford to cluster 30 or 40 signs in as many places as possible.  It’s rude, unsubtle, irritating, an eye-sore, and damages my respect for that candidate.  And as a conservationist, it sickens me how much litter and waste those signs create.
  • My thoughts on ‘Republican vote stealing’ and throwing votes out on legal technicalities: it’s a symptom of a weak voter registration system.  I don’t blame the exploiters of technicalities and loopholes as much as having a system with so many technicalities and loopholes.  After all, when the bus is on a bumpy road, should you blame the bus driver for the bumpy ride?  It’s time we had a less bureaucratic and more streamlined voter registration system.  (You’re guess is as good as mine on how to do that, though.)
  • I heard no candidate talking about Congress taking back its exclusivity on committing US troops abroad, something that both Republican and Democratic presidents have done since 1950, leaving Congress stuck with the bill.  Doesn’t Congress care about its own sovereignty?  It’s time to give back to the legislative branch the power that has been slowly usurped from it.
  • Did you find yourself staring at the ballot this year, looking at those two names and asking yourself, "7 million people in this state, and these are the best two clowns we could come up with?"  You don’t have to decide between the lesser of two evils.  You have more options.
  • Okay, enough politics for today.

    In other news, Evelyn and I held a Hitchcock film festival for Halloween.  We and friends watched Psycho and The Birds.  Psycho was better.  Evelyn’s car had $1900 of work done to it to remove carbon deposits and replace some values and sensors.   The car vibrates at rest a lot less than it used to, and it runs much quieter.


    Nifty Wikipedia Thing: the Hands of Victory

    What I’m reading: "Lost Chance in China" by John S. Service