Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

John is NOT my friend.

Here's a freebie for the Obama campaign -- "John is NOT my friend" t-shirts:

Somewhat subtle here, but for "JOHN," I used Optima, the same font the McCain campaign uses.

It's a take-off that works on two levels -- the first, obviously, is for anyone bothered by McCain's overreliance on the phrase "My friends" (going by some versions of the presidential debate drinking game, you'd be completely hammered on this one alone).

The second, deeper level is for the MySpace-savvy (playing to younger folks, one of Obama's strengths), who would know about the "Tom is NOT my friend" parody t-shirts that came about as part of an anti-Tom Anderson/MySpace backlash (I know Busted Tees had them, though I don't know if that's where it originated. They don't carry them anymore, though. Here it is.)


I did watch (well, listen) to the debate. I giggled at Obama's "green behind the ears" comment, but I'm a fan of mixed metaphors. Especially purposefully mixed ones, though I don't think that's the case with Obama here (Especially since that kind of nuance is, at best, wasted in a debate setting. Yeah, I'm an elitist.)

Also, I was amused by Tom Brokaw having to tell a candidate (Obama, I think W0zz says it was McCain), to move because he was blocking the teleprompter during Brokaw's closing script.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

On Consuming TV Series on DVDs

I had a Chipotle burrito for dinner tonight. It pretty much put me out of commission for the rest of the evening (heartburn), which is why I'm staying in and watching a Firefly mini-marathon on Sci-Fi channel. Which is kind of dumb, since I already own the series on DVD.

I also received the Band of Brothers boxed set this week (Amazon, $25), even though it basically runs on the History Channel in a continuous loop. So I have new additions to the evergrowing-pile of unwatched DVDs -- the one that you might think I would have whittled down during my enforced downtime. But no.

(Incidentally, I'm now fully and officially unemployed -- Friday was my official separation date from AOL -- up to this point, I've been technically on the payroll, without actually having to go to work. It was pretty sweet. I will be talking more about it and my AOL career. Eventually.)

Anyway, unless you're one of those people who've ripped their entire DVD collection to a gigantic media center hard drive, you've probably encountered this little problem with TV series DVD boxed sets -- namely, how do you go about choosing which episode to watch?

(Actually, even if you're ripped your DVD collection, it just makes consumption a little more convenient -- it doesn't solve the whole choosing side of things. I'm sure someone [Corey] will tell me about this great Linux/Open Source/Media PC/Ginormous Hard Drive solution, though there's also the problem of bonus features and such. And do they even make DVD jukeboxes that actually, you know, use the actual physical media? I'm old-fashioned that way.)

For something like Firefly, it's relatively easy, since the series tops out at 14 episodes that mostly stand alone (despite having an underlying story arc). But what about something that was actually, you know, successful, like Friends, Star Trek, Seinfeld, whatever, that ran many seasons and had hundreds of episodes? Or something where episode order really matters, and you can't just snack on individual episodes (24 being the ultimate example of this)?

Unless you're going to do your own mini-marathon, or you're actually disciplined/OCD enough to keep track and watch the episodes in order, how do you keep from just cherry-picking the best-known episodes? Especially for a series that you, say, liked well enough to buy the boxed set when it was on sale for really cheap at Best Buy, but you don't have the episode list memorized?

I guess what I'm looking for is some sort of media management system -- something like a Netflix (with a little bit of iTunes) for your personal collection, to keep track of your personal viewing to show you how many times you've viewed an episode, and what's next in the queue. Which would pretty much mean ripping the DVD and forgetting the physical media -- wouldn't really be workable any other way.

My own DVD player is a now-ancient Apex player which doesn't have many features, save for one of the least intuitive remotes ever made. It also occasionally tries to die on me. However, its saving grace is that it's a 3-disc carousel, which I find helps with serendipity and flow -- I can pre-load it with 3 discs and get around to watching them (or not) when I feel like it.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Two Dumb Ideas to Improve Congress: Remote Voting and Random Drug Testing

Today's Post article on the upcoming legislative calendar ("A Daunting 3 Weeks Ahead for Congress") has this gem about how the travel schedules of the presidential candidates are throwing a wrench into actual lawmaking:
"In the Senate, where schedules are famously unreliable, leaders have to jump at any opportunity to hold final votes. On Nov. 8, at 11 p.m., when such a window opened suddenly to confirm Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general, not one of the five presidential candidates was on hand to vote.


Even before the sprint to the Iowa caucuses, the senator-candidates have been increasingly absent from the chamber. McCain has missed more than 53 percent of roll call votes this year and has not cast a single vote since Oct. 24. Biden, Dodd and Obama have missed more than a third of all votes this year, according to washingtonpost.com's congressional database. Clinton has missed just 18 percent of votes, but was on hand for only three days of voting in the month leading up to the Thanksgiving recess."
This is nuts. Are we still living in a world where messages travel via horseback?

To remedy this, I suggest that we allow remote voting for members of Congress. Naturally, you'd need to enforce some kind of limits, and to ensure some measure of transparency, you might require telepresence or secure videoconferencing.

I'm sure others can tell me how many people have previously suggested this and why it's a bad idea.

In return for this revolutionary measure to ease the lives of members of Congress in the 21st century (no doubt linked to generous contributions made to me by the electric telegraph and horseless carriage lobbies), I would extract one significant concession:

Mandatory Drug-Testing for All Members of Congress.
Naturally, a testing regime would have to be ironed out, but there would be regularly scheduled drug tests, with additional random tests to keep members of Congress... honest.

If members of Congress objected to the indignities of monitored urine tests (though I don't see why any patriotic, non-drug abusing person would -- I think the American voting public has the right to know that their representatives are not voting under the influence of illegal drugs), they could make provisions for using hair tests (which have the bonus of substantially longer detection windows).

I've never had to take a drug test either for school or work, but it always irked me that the people who said mandatory drug testing was such a great idea were rarely the people who actually had to piss in cups.

So in the grander scheme of things, if you're a legislator, elected official, school administrator, athletic commissioner, senior executive, whatever -- if you're pushing for mandatory drug testing, you also have to undergo mandatory drug testing.

Mandatory drug testing in return for remote voting. What say you?

(Because of the ridiculous pre-emptive presidential primary scheduling situation, I was going to throw in a third idea about how a state's position in the primary schedule should be determined by its number of electoral votes -- with the states with the fewest votes going first -- but that's already been covered by people more politically in tune than me.)

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