Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Most Depressing Comic Ever?

via Andrew Sullivan

I give you "Garfield without Garfield":

Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against lonliness and methamphetamine addiction in a quiet American suburb.
Of course, perhaps Gawker has a point that it's even more depressing of a comic if you leave Garfield in and just erase his thought bubbles.

Arbuckle retorts:

Tough call on which better portrays suburban desperation, but the fact that Arbuckle is a communal effort with redrawn comics strikes me as slightly cooler and less open to legal action.

Past and Future Collide

Saw this on Jonathan Martin's blog on Politico(orginally via the newseum's 'today's front pages' section - which is quite cool).

Michelle's really rocking the Jackie-O thing isn't she? It's quite a striking photo.

I didn't have enough parchment paper to make my corn tortillas (you smash the masa harina/water mixture between two sheets of parchment paper), so I did watch the debate last night while I messed with the music on my phone for ages(a topic for another post). Or I tried to watch anyway, since the MSNBC feed was horrible... a veritable slide show, and it wasn't until the last half an hour that I was informed of a local Cleveland station that was also streaming over the 'net (with no buffering/stuttering) .

So I only have vague impressions: definitely the most aggressive I've ever seen HRC but it didn't work, healthcare mandates are almost as dumb as they are boring to hear them fight about, Obama is cool as a cucumber, Tim Russert is a boor, "I reject and denounce" was pretty clever, Obama's ending was about as nice and gracious a way to tell everyone "It's all over" as can be done.

Last debate; I hope and pray.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In Case You Were Curious

My Buddhist name is Tripitaka Master Immovable Flower Children.

I've done a lot of internet name generators in my day, but this one might be my favorite yet... much more interesting than Porn Star Names or whatever. I am, however, somewhat apprehensive to learn what my duties as the master of "Immovable Flower Children" might be. Do you think I have to guard obese hippies?

via Cogitamus

Ohio Democratic Debate Tonight

Could it be? Could the final debate be here? Well I guess it depends on March 4th, since if a killing blow isn't delivered by Obama then I would imagine there will be a Pennsylvania debate, but a man can dream can't he?

With the Bush comparisons, an increasingly "mocking tone", and holes in the firewall, it seems likely that Hillary is going to come into this debate with the knives out... but we shall see... or perhaps you shall see and I'll read the write-ups in the morning, since at this point I'd rather try making corn tortillas from scratch than sit through another debate, not matter how exciting.

However, I'll probably give in and have it going on in the background. It's scheduled from 9-10:30 EST on NBC and will also be streaming live on Tim Russert(blech) and Brian Williams will moderate.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More Rampant Consumerism!

So I've sort of jumped on this whole "new phone phenomenon" rather more whole-hog than I had previously envisioned.

I mean, it has a microSD slot, so it's not like I can just leave it empty or something, right!? Oh sure, I have headphones too, but they don't fit the jack in the phone, so what to you want me to do buy an adapter for a couple of bucks?! When they've got perfectly good Bluetooth headphones available online... I think not.

So right now I' syncing up a few gigs of music onto my telephone so that I can listen to it via my wireless headphones on the train tomorrow. I wonder if somebody from 15 years ago would even comprehend what I just wrote there... well except for the train part... I'm pretty sure we had trains back then.

"Oh Noes! George W. Bush Is Teh Secret Vietnamese!"

hilzoy at Obsidian Wings pretty much nails the response to the right-wing blogosphere's meltdown regarding a picture of Obama (rumored to be) circulated by Hillary Clinton's campaign. It even made a headline at Drudge, though I don't know how many flashing sirens it may or may not have earned since I don't read Drudge.

People on diplomatic missions are often given traditional garb as a sign of hospitality. It would be rather rude to not wear this clothing, as even our President seems to realize. However, as usual, I wouldn't expect a mea culpa anytime soon from the nutty fringe over this.

Nader's Back

Ralph Nader announced a third party run for president on Meet the Press this Sunday.
He said he is running to draw attention to issues ignored by the major candidates in both parties, citing corporate crime, workers' rights, military spending and foreign policy.
Uhm yeah, I can see how Ralph could consider those poorly addressed issues, because it's not like either Barack or Hillary have detailed plans to protect workers' rights and neither Barack or Hillary ever talk about changing our foreign policy objectives. Though seriously, I guess if "corporate crime" is your one issue then maybe Ralph is your guy.

I probably have a bit more angst than most about Ralph's legacy as a third party candidate, as I was one of those people who actually bought the nonsense that "Bush and Gore were no different, so why not vote for Nader as a protest?" Well after 8 years of Bush, I think I can say that that sentiment has been as thoroughly debunked as any statement can be. Now, I lived in Massachusetts then as I do now, so I don't feel super awful for supporting Nader since it really didn't matter here... and truth be told, I didn't end up voting at all (typical twenty something) because I had screwed up my registration.

I don't imagine Nader will have the slightest impact on this race, but it does sadden me that he has seemingly learned nothing from 2000... or only cares about his own ego and not at all about liberal values. He was certainly a fine consumer advocate in his day, but it seems to me that even he should realize how drastically he is sullying whatever is left of his reputation.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mmmm Chili

I don't know how appetizing it looks, but here is the finished product of my Texas Chili machinations. Garnishes of homemade corn tortilla chips, onion, and extra sharp cheddar.

It was delicious, so I guess having to substitute canola oil for pork fat didn't ruin the dish. The conventional wisdom is also correct: chili the next day is even better.

Today is a CoD4 day, methinks

I haven't played for about two weeks though, so I imagine "BOOM! Headshot" is what people will be saying to me as opposed to the reverse.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow Day

Pretty decent snow storm today... I went into work, but left at lunch time so I could make it to the grocery store on the way home. The above was taken from the front door to my apartment building an hour or two ago. Not terrible, but not nice.

I've been making an attempt at Texas chili (chiie con carne) this afternoon... authentic chili con carne reportedly consists of only beef and chiles... none of those namby pamby beans or vegetables that others endorse!

New Mexico, Anaheim, and Ancho were my dried chiles of choice... and 4 pounds of chuck roast constitute the beef. Four pounds is a lot of beef, quite frankly, and getting all that browned for the stewing part was a bit onerous. Also, whenever I have a recipe that calls for using bacon to render enough fat to brown the other meat and whatnot... I always fall woefully short. I'm not sure exactly what I'm doing wrong, but I was 3 tablespoons short of bacon fat... and that stuff couldn't get any crisper. I'm not sure if I got lean bacon or what.

But I threw in some canola oil and hopefully it'll turn out.


With my old phone, from the Dark Ages, there was no way to transfer pictures I had taken to any other device without emailing them... which is both convoluted and costs money. Hence, being the intrepid internet explorer that I am, I asked the Google to find a solution. BitPim was the Internet's unanimous answer; home-brewed code that allowed you to interact with the inner workings of your cell phone data, providing you buy a cable from some shady internet dealer to connect your phone to a computer.

That was several years ago. My brand spanking new phone comes with a USB cable.

And yet, BitPim is still the best way to transfer pictures to and from my phone!?

WTF indeed.

Austin Debate

So I watched most of the Democratic debate in Austin on last night, but I faded in the second half... I had it going on in the background but stopped paying as much attention.

For the first half, I thought that Obama made a nice distinction on Cuba policy, though I'd like to see him go farther towards normalization of relations. There was also meat in the immigration talk (as one would expect in Texas) but they both agreed with each other pretty much verbatim. And that pretty much encapsulates the "new information", as the rest seemed to pretty much be talking points with occasional snark... and I now, more than ever, agree with Obama that we've seen enough of these.

That said... at first, it seemed that this was going to be a completely civil debate(what's up with them when they are sitting down?) but Hillary Clinton did go on the offensive in the second half. She went pretty hard after the accomplishment, plagiarism, and mandates memes... and I thought Obama deftly parried everything but mandates where Hillary's knowledge and passion for the subject really outshine his. However, healthcare mandates have been a sticking point for about eleventy million debates, and if that was going to bring Obama down it would have been before now. Interestingly, she refused to say that he was not ready to be Commander in Chief, which as Marc Ambinder notes, may be because she finally realizes she might not win and doesn't want to give McCain any ammunition in the Fall. Certainly it seems to be a counter my fears of win-at-any-cost-even-if-it-destroys-the-Democratic-Party attitude from Clinton.

So anyway... it seems like it was pretty much a draw. Obama had his soundbites, and Hillary had hers. However it seems to me she need to draw more blood than that to make up the ground she is losing.

Well she still has another shot next week in Ohio... but honestly I think I'm pretty debated out unless they're going to add an obstacle course with hungry hungry hippos.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chimpanzee Piano Moving?

Apparently PG Tips, a UK tea company, ran "Chimp Tea Party" ads in the 70's... which, as you can see, involve chimps dressed as humans with an insatiable desire for tea.

Since then, it appears that stuffed monkeys have proven a more cost effective spokes-species.

New Phone!

An LG Voyager. I'm not going to do much of a review, since I only got it last night, but so far so good. I'm not even really sure why I got it to be honest, since it has tons of features I really have trouble believing I'll get much use out of. However, my old phone pretty much sucked and would hold like 2 minutes of charge these days, and it was either buy a new battery or Save America through Consumerism, so it was pretty clear where my patriotism would take me.

I'm not much of a text message guy, and while it may be the phone keys that were holding me back, I tend to think it's because I'm over 30. Regardless, it's nice to be able to type things like a normal person, even if it is a normal person with tiny elf like fingers.

The touch screen is kind of neat, but it certainly took a little practice to actually make it do what I want... the weirdest aspect being menu scrolling which seems to be done by touching the bottom and pushing up instead of touching the top and pulling down... if that makes any sense. Oh, and no I have no idea how it compares to an iPhone. I've never even seen an iPhone in real life.

It seems like it doesn't come with much storage space out of the box, so I have to get one of those 8 GB microSD chips to utilize any of the multimedia capabilities. I tried loading some songs on it last night, but it filled up after only a handful, so I just deleted them.

Oh, and you can apparently watch TV on it. But not in Boston you can't, so I've got no impression of that until they expand the network. Believe it or not, I was actually looking forward to watching the Daily Show on my phone since that's one of the few things I miss about not having TV in my apartment. Oh well.

What I would really like is a phone that came with normal ringtones that sounded nice. It seems that my only choices are between really shrill ear bleed inducing tones, bad MIDI music, or paying $5 for "Baby Got Back"... and while I loves me some Sir Mix-a-lot, I don't think I need a train full of people to know that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Accomplishments Question

Christopher Beam over at Slate has a rather scathing appraisal of Obama supporters' knowledge of their candidate. This, beyond the standard "cult of personality" meme, has arisen from an extremely embarrassing deer in the headlights performance by Texas state Senator Kirk Watson when he was asked about Obama's legislative accomplishments. Perhaps something you might want to be familiar with, when your candidate is being questioned about his experience daily.

Beam kicks them while they're down with:

Some of this can be blamed on the campaign. Obama spends an inordinate amount of oxygen on lofty generalizations—perhaps no more than his colleagues do, but certainly more effectively. And when he does talk policy, it’s not about what he’s done, but programs he would like to see. Hard-core Obama fans could rattle off details of his health-care plan and economic stimulus package, since he repeats them in ads and on the stump. But ask them about the minutiae of his Senate ethics reform package and their eyes begin to dart.

Supporters themselves deserve flak, too. A similar moment occurred on Hannity & Colmes a few weeks ago, when a roomful of Democrats couldn’t name an Obamaccomplishment beyond “ethics reform” and “community organizing.” When the camera panned to him, one guy proudly declared, “Inspiration.” That is just sad. I’ve heard the question asked at parties, with similar responses.

Fair enough I suppose... as an Obama supporter, I'm only aware of his ethics reform bill and work on nuclear proliferation in the Senate, and vague notions of health care reform and the video taping of confessions at the state level. I don't know the details of any of that beyond the superficial, so no doubt Chistopher Beam would find me worthy of scorn... and I have no idea whether Chis Mathews would consider that a suitable portfolio of accomplishments for someone running for President.

However, why do Hillary Clinton and John McCain and their supporters get a free pass on this question? The latter has 25 years in the Senate, and pretty much nothing to show for it. Honestly, what does a McCain supporter point to other than that and the fact that he was a POW? And Obama is running on his biography? Please. Hillary is even worse it seems, with a disastrously failed health care plan, a vote for the Iraq War, and the naming of some post offices I think.


Update: What hilzoy said.


Sadly I think Anna has heard something akin to those words a few too many times. But as the alt-text says "What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!" Ah xkcd... nerds of the universe unite!

Morning After: Landslide!

So as I sip my morning coffee and check the election results it appears that, not only did Obama win in Wisconsin, but he won big. 17 points big. Ouch. Not to mention his 3-1 showing in Hawaii.

I suppose that means I have to stick by my prediction that Obama has got the nomination in the bag now. Despite the fear that I just jinxed him, it's hard to see how the math could work out in HRC's favor for pledged delegates, baring some sort of farm animal hanky panky in Obama's past. However, as Mathew Yglesias notes McCain is definitely going to have all his guns aimed at Obama for the next two weeks... if just to keep himself in the news with his otherwise all-but-over contest. Clinton and McCain will both be flinging all the mud they can between now and March 4th.

So fear not! There should be plenty for me to get nervous and anxious about. Yay?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Hate Myself For Searching for Leaked Exit Polls

I should be patient. Play some video games, watch a movie, or clean the apartment... but yet I find myself irresistibly drawn to some reports of a "big night" for Obama. Of course, early exit polls have a nasty habit of completely wrong as President Kerry can well attest. They have tiny samples sizes and need to be weighted by actual votes before they start becoming meaningful (which is, from my understanding, how networks determine when to "call" a state)... and generally just mess with your head.

So yeah, I still have a bad feeling about Wisconsin.

UPDATE: Well CNN just called it for Obama, so I LOVE EXIT POLLS!

Would it kill pollsters to use error bars?

Here is the latest Gallup Daily Tracking Poll showing the national numbers for the Democratic primary. If we lay aside the fact that well over half the country has voted for the nominee, so national numbers are somewhat meaningless, it's a pretty cool poll. They interview roughly 1000 each of Democrat or Republican likely voters each and every single night, which obviously gives them a ton of data all sorts of ability to do zany analysis that makes pollsters go weak in the knees. One problem: sampling error. Now, it's not like everybody doesn't know it exists, since you will certainly hear "within the margin of error" or "statistically tied" a fair amount when people report about polls... but why even show a graph like this without making it clear?

A few minutes in SigmaPlot, adding in their plus or minus 3% sampling error, produced:

Now, my graph isn't nearly as pretty as Gallup's, but I think it's fairly straightforward for the layman to interpret. We're at least 95% certain that the true percentages are in between those bars. If the bars overlap then we can't be certain that the values are different, with more overlap meaning more uncertainty.

Keeping that in mind, it seems clear to me that Obama's been edging on getting some separation in (relatively useless) national numbers the last week. but it certainly hasn't been massive.... and getting in a tizzy about today's numbers seems a bit much... but I guess that isn't a very sexy conclusion.

Wisconsin Primary Today

As an Obama fan, this primary scares the bejeezus out of me. It seems like it would be a major blow to Obama's momentum (if that even exists in this primary) heading into Texas and Ohio. I guess I'll go on record as saying that if he wins handily tonight (i.e. they call it relatively shortly after polls close) that the nomination is his, but if he loses, even a squeaker, it is going down to the convention and it might not be pretty.

EDIT: Oh yeah and Hawaii has their caucus tonight too... presumably a large margin win for a native son, but who really knows?

Monday, February 18, 2008

What is a Chimpanzee Tea Party?

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Chimpanzee Tea Parties were a fixture of zoo life in the early 20th century. Chimps pretending to be high society as they read the newspaper upside down and embarked upon various choreographed routines of easily ridiculed "aping".

We are all primates here, and irony abounds.

I don't mean too make to big of a deal of the primate aspect, but I do have a tendency to think of all Internet Arguments as illustrations of apes putting on airs.

Thus: Me.

Secret Blogging Identity?

I decided against an alias, obviously, and chose to formally link my online life with my professional one. One odd thing is that I have never once been called "J.W." in casual life... I am Jason to everyone I know and that is how I introduce myself, and yet I chose J.W. as my my nome de plume and here we are.

The middle initial stands for Wingfield btw. Weren't expecting that one, were you?

Over the years I've gone by Racer X, AhhhFresh, and Mr. Sparkle... so those who have heard such names... 'tis me, for better or worse.

It Begins

The idea of starting a blog has been knocking around my empty skull for quite some time, and obviously the scales tipped towards "FINALLY!" today. I don't have a clue what I am doing here and am not anticipating that anyone is actually going to read what I have to say... but I don't think I can write as if what I type is only for me, so I will pretend for the moment that the echoes are other people talking.

Over there to the right(where my picture will eventually be) is a macaque from Japan, in case you were wondering. (The picture itself was brought to my attention at Andrew Sullivan's site) A monkey, not a chimp, but a primate that has taught us a lot about the evolution of culture. The evolution of culture, and specifically the perspective of Frans de Waal, is something I hope to comment more on in the future.

As I mention in my "About Me" section, my interests are varied, though I should note that I qualify as an "expert" in none of them. I will, nonetheless, as a Stoic Hero of the Internetz, offer my uninformed opinion about any number of subjects. This is because I like the klickity clack of my keyboard more than anything else. Also, my mom likes to know what I'm up to and this might help.