Thursday, 28 February 2008


The only thing to do today while the car gets fixed and I’m stuck at home: grade my American politics exams. There’s no point in dealing with job stuff until after Friday afternoon, by which point the wave function will collapse and I’ll either have options or not. So I’ll grade my exams quietly and wait for Pep Boys to call.

Update: This would have been a better theory had I not left the exams in my office yesterday night, even though I could have sworn I put them in my bag.

Friday, 22 February 2008

HD DVD is dead, long live HD (upscaled) DVD

You know, Toshiba won’t exactly be helping Blu-Ray adoption anytime soon by dumping a raft of players on the market that, in addition to playing HD DVDs, are extremely good upscaling DVD players in their own right, including being the only dedicated players I’ve seen that handle pillarboxing of 4:3 DVD content over HDMI correctly. At sane viewing distances, I suspect most non-videophiles couldn’t tell the difference between an upscaled DVD and high-def anyway—Jennifer Morrison doesn’t look any different in HD and upscaled DVD that I can tell.

That said, I can’t figure out why you’d even spend $50 at this point on an XBox HD DVD add-on, since it doesn’t upscale DVDs any better than the built-in DVD player on the box.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Resistance is futile

Marvin King, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Mississippi, my graduate alma mater, has just launched a blog focusing on African-American politics and political science; as someone whose research and teaching interests in Southern politics overlap that area, it’s good to have another voice contributing to the blogosphere’s coverage of black politics from a scholarly perspective.

McCain rounds up 43 of 47 delegates at La. convention

The Times-Picayune reports that the end result of last month’s Louisiana caucus and last week’s primary is that John McCain has pretty much swept the state’s delegates who were appointed at today’s state GOP convention, adding another 43 delegates to McCain’s prohibitively large total that’s now somewhere in the mid-800s depending on exactly who you ask.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Adventures in UPS package shipping

Just in case it isn’t clear, this package is supposed to be coming to my house. Which, when I checked this morning, was not in Mississippi.

February 15, 2008       04:35:00 AM     JACKSON MS US   Departure Scan
February 15, 2008       01:09:00 AM     JACKSON MS US   Arrival Scan
February 14, 2008       09:53:00 PM     NEW ORLEANS LA US       Departure Scan
February 14, 2008       07:59:00 PM     NEW ORLEANS LA US       Departure Scan
February 14, 2008       06:48:00 PM     NEW ORLEANS LA US       Arrival Scan
February 14, 2008       10:14:00 AM     MESQUITE TX US  Departure Scan
February 14, 2008       08:23:00 AM     MESQUITE TX US  Arrival Scan
February 14, 2008       03:41:00 AM     OKLAHOMA CITY OK US     Departure Scan
February 14, 2008       12:27:00 AM     OKLAHOMA CITY OK US     Arrival Scan
February 13, 2008       08:55:00 PM     TULSA OK US     Departure Scan
February 13, 2008       08:38:00 PM     TULSA OK US     Shipment picked up from seller's facility

I guess I won’t be reading The Last Colony on my trip to [interview location redacted] after all.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Free at last

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down Texas’ anti-sex-toy law, presumably also invalidating the previously-mocked similar law on the books in my former home state, Mississippi.

QotD, primary elections edition

Steven Taylor on the primary process:

Of course, it would be nice if we could trash this byzantine process and construct a better one, but then again, a magic pony would be nice, too.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Translating from Student Evaluationese to English, part 1

“The professor is disorganized” → “the professor doesn’t use PowerPoint™ and give us the notes in Blackboard™ so we can sleep through class.”

Monday, 11 February 2008

Excitement of a sort

I managed to get through all of The Ghost Brigades while working the polls Saturday; we averaged a measly 7.4 voters per hour, mostly Democrats enthralled with Obamamania.

In other news, I have a job interview next week; it’ll make for a very busy week, since I have to go to San Jose for TLC just after getting back from the interview, but I’m looking forward to it and the people there seem very excited to have me come visit.

Last, but not least, this isn’t the news you want to read the first day you use the streetcar (and a ¾-mile walk) to get to work.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

More Obamamania

The Times-Picayune reports on Obama’s visit to Tulane this morning. I was somewhat tempted to go but my desire to sleep in today (since I have a 15+-hour day on Saturday, in addition to the regular 8 am class and the tornado warning that resulted in me getting no sleep Tuesday night) outweighed my desire to stand in line at the crack of dawn.

Meanwhile, Tubby will be here in New Orleans tomorrow to further his apparent goal of running his wife’s campaign into the ground.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Obamamania hits NOLA

Barack Obama is coming to Tulane tomorrow morning. I doubt Hillary Clinton will bother with Louisiana, symbolism or no.

I wonder if any of the Republicans will make an effort to get over the 50% hurdle and the 20 pledged delegates that come with it; Romney, who probably needs it more than anyone else at this point, would just be wasting his money, and getting that absolute majority probably isn’t worth it to either McCain (who with the Fredheads’ delegates from the caucus will control the state convention anyway) or Huckabee (who will probably get a plurality, but no majority, if McCain doesn’t campaign here).

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Chris Matthews is an idiot but at least he gives me a lecture topic

I am now officially tired of Chris Matthews continually pointing out that John McCain is winning GOP primaries in states the GOP does not do well in at general elections—he did it with Mel Martinez, and now he’s doing it with Tom Brokaw. Somebody needs to slap him upside the head with a copy of Downs, although it’s not heavy enough to penetrate his skull unfortunately.

Then again, a $60 book would probably be wasted on Matthews.

I feel left out

With all the excitement about Super Tuesday and Mardi Gras, all I’ve really done today is get woken up by a parade down Jefferson, have a phone interview for a job, and work on prepping for classes Wednesday. The real voting action here is on Saturday, where the two big questions will be whether somebody gets 50% statewide in the GOP primary and some delegates to go with it and how big a margin Obama wins by, and I’ll be spending my 14 hours of poll work down at Ben Franklin Elementary as always.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

MDS on the left coast

The Right Coast blogger Mike Rappaport lists the following bill of particulars against nominating John McCain as the Republican presidential candidate:
1. Not only does McCain support McCain-Feingold, it is one of his signature issues. This will infect many aspects of his presidency, including his appointment of judges. It will be devastating to have a President and a Congress who strongly support this issue at the same time.

George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold despite believing it to be unconstitutional. I’ll take the guy who believes that the laws he proposes are constitutional over the guy who expediently decides to ignore what he believes the constitution says any day.

2. McCain opposed the Bush Tax Cuts, and what is worse, used class warfare rhetoric to criticize them.

Fair enough. I’d have preferred to see the Bush Spending Cuts than the Bush Tax Cuts, and generally think that we’ve ludicrously expanded the idea of a “middle class” income, but maybe I’m weird that way.

3. McCain has taken strong positions against doing anything about illegal immigration. I don’t believe his recent “conversion” on the issue. For the record, I favor a large amount of legal immigration, but I believe that illegal immigration needs to be addressed.

I think that’s a misstatement of McCain’s position, which after all was initially the same as the president’s.

4. McCain opposes strong interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, for top members of Al Qaeda like Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Yeah, we really need to have another president who supports torture. That will surely help America’s standing in the world.

5. McCain wants to close down Guantanamo.

If you believe the Bush administration’s public statements (nobody does, but that’s beside the point), so do they.

6. McCain favors reimportation of drugs.

Yeah, free trade is a bitch. And Big Pharma is free to stop exporting drugs to countries that reexport the drugs if they aren’t paying a fair market price for them.

7. McCain takes a strong position on opposing global warming. For the record, I think that the evidence probably supports taking some actions now, such as establishing prizes for the development of technology reducing greenhouse gases, but not the kind of strong regulatory actions that McCain seems to support.

8. McCain opposes drilling in ANWR.

Those “strong regulatory actions” include, by the way, actions supported by Mitt Romney too (such as respecting the right of the states to regulate greenhouse gas emissions within their own borders). That federalism’s a bitch too.

9. McCain generally favors regulating American business, including pharmaceutical companies and transportation companies. This is his instinctual reaction to actions he does not like. He does not seem to understand economics. Recently, he spoke about the subprime problem in terms of “greedy people on Wall Street who need to go to jail."

Is there anyone in the race who doesn’t favor regulating American business? Well, except Ron Paul, but his priority is more on keeping brown people out of the country than deregulation.

10. McCain would not be good on judges. Despite his claims to the contrary, there is strong evidence that he would not have appointed Alito. And he is not likely to appoint people who think campaign finance is unconstitutional.

Would anyone other than George W. Bush have appointed Alito?

Friday, 1 February 2008

Out of the jungle

The Times-Picayune reminds us that voting in the primaries for Bobby Jindal’s replacement in Congress will take place on March 8, with the voter registration deadline being next Wednesday. The special elections in the 1st and 6th districts will be the first held in Louisiana since the legislature abolished the nonpartisan “jungle primary” system for elections to federal office introduced in the 1970s—given the Republican leanings of the 1st district, this is a race that is likely to be decided either in the March GOP primary or the potential April runoff (if no candidate receives a majority), both of which are only open to registered Republicans.

Replacing the FUBAR CD/tape deck

I finally had it with the messed up factory tape deck in the car and ordered the Sony MEX-BT2500 to replace it. In the end, for the money I decided that the built-in Bluetooth connectivity would be more useful than competing units with either HD Radio (which is going nowhere fast and only seems to be available built into a half-dozen head units) or iPod control (which is apparently clunky on most units, and which probably isn’t any safer to use while driving than just fiddling with the click-wheel), and there wasn’t any point to migrating to an integrated XM or Sirius receiver from my still-serviceable SkyFi2. I may, however, pick up one of these dealios to get my iPod to integrate wirelessly with the Bluetooth stuff in the receiver. Allegedly even a technical incompetent like me can install it myself; I guess if I can build PCs from components putting a radio in a car shouldn’t be too hard.

Now watch my car completely self-destruct the day after I install it.

How liberal is Obama, really?

I look at Barack Obama’s voting record today at Outside The Beltway, on the heels of the declaration by National Journal that he was the most liberal senator in 2007.