Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from October 2003

Sell your stocks and send $$ to Bush?

October 30th, 2003 · 2 Comments

Campaign Contributions and Post-War Contracts

CONTRACTOR Total Contributions
1990 thru 2002
Contract Total
Iraq plus Afghanistan
Kellogg, Brown & Root (Halliburton) $2,379,792 $2,329,040,891
Bechtel Group Inc. $3,310,102 $1,029,833,000
General Electric Company $8,843,884 $5,927,870

Why does anyone waste money on stocks? Check out the fantastic returns being paid on campaign donations.

The Center for Public Integrity just released figures showing that Halliburton pulled in more that $2 billion in bid-free contracts for a measly $2 million campaign donations. OK, this doesn’t include the $1,000,000 a year Halliburton pays our Vice-President, but it’s still a good rate of return.

Poor Bechtel got only $1 billion dollars in post-war contracts, despite $3 million in donations –but before you pity this mere 33,333% return on investment, you should realize that their total government windfall since 1990 is some $11 billion. Here’s hoping they do better work abroad than they did for the Big Dig in Boston.

And what about General Electric? They gave more money in campaign donations than any other company, and the CPI figures suggest they got less than they put in. GE’s $5,927,870 is just for work in Afghanistan–so far they’ve managed to block access to info about their contracts in Iraq, where it is known to be supplying generators and cooling equipment. They also have lots of other lobbying goals.

I don’t think Campaign Finance Reform did much to fix things like this. But if you want to fix it, send money to Howard Dean. Let’s get rid of Bush/Cheney and their Axis of Looters.

Tags: Invisible primary

Apologies to Gelett Burgess…

October 28th, 2003 · Comments Off on Apologies to Gelett Burgess…

PurpleFrog: Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, "a snouted frog the color of a grape popsicle."

I never saw a purple frog,
I never thought I’d see one.
But over in my daughter’s blog
Good grief! A BBC one!

The BBC says Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis looks “more like a squat, grumpy blob than a living creature.”

What, you thought Brits were polite?

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

To Feedster, or not to Feedster…

October 27th, 2003 · 2 Comments

I’m still figuring out how it’s supposed to work–now that I’m working.

You know I think Feedster’s ultra-enormously-cool. (Would I go to work for them otherwise?) So do the Scobleizer and Search Visibility Report and a bunch of other people.

Still, for propriety’s sake, I plan to make Feedstery comments mainly at the Feedster blog.

If I get it wrong, I’m counting on you guys to tell me.

Scott: Scott Johnson of Feedster, with Michelangelo background.Scott: Scott Johnson of Feedster, with Michelangelo background.Scott: Scott Johnson of Feedster, with Michelangelo background.

In other news? Look for me in this picture–perhaps as an extra angel–when I have time.

Tags: Feedster

Feedster search to understand Dean campaign

October 27th, 2003 · Comments Off on Feedster search to understand Dean campaign

Feedster power-users–can you help?

Gary Wolf needs help with a Wired story he’s writing about Howard Dean. Wolf lays out some hypothetical rules for the Dean campaign, and asks his blog readers to send him

… examples and counter-examples – confirmation and correction. Are these really the principles that underlay the architecture of the campaign? Are there concrete examples you can suggest?

So how can Wolf find examples of first-hand reports from the Dean grassroots? Feedster, of course! Instead of asking the few hundred people who read his blog today, Wolf could be querying millions and millions of blog posts by thousands of bloggers.

This is where Feedster’s many power users come into the picture. Figuring out what to ask isn’t always simple.

The Rafester, the Scottster, and I were IMing about this.
I thought that “I met Dean” would find first-hand reports. That worked surprisingly badly–somebody dreamed about meeting actor Dean Cain, that’s the top result of 11. Hmmmm.

Then, remembering how I actually met Dean at a houseparty in somebody’s NH back yard, I tried “Howard Dean” + “back yard”. That turns up 10 posts, one of them mine. “Howard Dean” + “living room” turns up 21.
Feedster found people, not all of them fans of Dean, talking in blogs about their own experience.

If you can find better searches, and help Wolf illustrate other points about Dean’s grassroots outreach, please add your suggestion to his list of comments.

I do like Scott Johnson’s suggestion–do a Feedster search on Howard Dean changed my life.

Tags: Stories

MIT kids gaming copyright monster

October 27th, 2003 · 2 Comments

Corporate heavyweights like Disney and RIAA have been gaming copyright law for years. Congress played along, giving the big guys one “feature” after another. Now the whole system is an ugly mess.

Two MIT students, Keith Winstein and Josh Mandel, just set up a music-sharing network that deftly dodges every copyright bullet, or do I mean bully?

“The students say the system, which they plan to officially announce today, falls within the time-honored licensing and royalty system under which the music industry allows broadcasters and others to play recordings for a public audience. Major music industry groups are reserving comment, while some legal experts say the M.I.T. system mainly demonstrates how unwieldy copyright laws have become.”

NYTimes, October 27, 2003

“It’s almost an act of performance art,” said Jonathan Zittrain, one of the Berkman Center’s gurus of Internet law.

Sensible rules–like “Thou shalt not kill” or Sergey Brin’s “Don’t be evil”–are simple. Simple rules are easy to obey and hard to dodge.

“More isn’t always better, Linus. Sometimes it’s just more.”

Tags: Good versus Evil

Halley says….

October 27th, 2003 · Comments Off on Halley says….

When I learn a new UI, which you can assume I DO NOT WANT TO LEARN BECAUSE MY LIFE IS COMPLICATED ENOUGH, why do I have to spend any time learning it, why isn’t it learning ME … in other words, as I start using TypePad and I keep hitting certain buttons on a regular basis, or stroking certain keys, why doesn’t it make those keys grow larger? Just like WORD remembers the last documents I was working on and has them in the bottom of the file menu — can’t a good UI learn me and remember what I do? Come on UI guys and gals, take a cue from the natural world. God’s a fine designer. He came up with a great piece of hardware that gets bigger when you stroke it.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Food is not trivial

October 26th, 2003 · Comments Off on Food is not trivial

food festival and liver sashimi.

My mom’s New England version of cheese souffle

And in conclusion, may I just say food is not trivial–any more than love is, or sex is trivial. Any more than you, dear reader, are trivial.

I, of course, do reserve the right to be trivial when I want to.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

My mom’s cheese souffle

October 26th, 2003 · Comments Off on My mom’s cheese souffle

Advance preparation: (can be done hours before)

Cheese–Swiss and cheddar– grate 1 1/2 cup. Toss with 1/2 tsp cornstarch and 1/2 tsp flour.

Cream sauce–Melt 3 T butter, stir in 3 T flour. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk. Season to taste with pinch salt, 1/4 tsp basil or garlic or both. Stir in grated cheeses, then let sauce cool.

One hour before serving, preheat oven to 425.

Then, butter 2-quart soufflé dish or straight-sided casserole.

Separate 4 eggs. Beat whites until stiff. Beat yolks until thick. Stir yolks into cream sauce first.* Then, gently fold in whites. Pour mixture into buttered casserole.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 until done, about 20 more minutes. Serve immediately.

* The fluffy, stiff egg whites are the last thing you add to your soufflé. So why do you beat the whites first, just to set them aside while you mix and add the yolks? Because, after you use your mixer on the yolks, you’d have to wash the beaters with care before trying to whip up egg whites. But, you can take your beaters right out of the whites and use them to froth up the yolks without any problem.

Tags: Stories

Hymn 258: “Nearer My Blog To Thee”

October 25th, 2003 · 3 Comments

“If blogs are printing presses, and if Big Media is the Catholic Church, then clearly Dave Winer must be Martin Luther!”

Footnote: Buzz Bruggeman blogged this remark from a recent chat with Steve Garrity.

Footnote on previous footnote:
My previous footnote is nothing compared to Gary Turner’s quote of Frank Paynter’s quote of my quote of an unblogged remark by Kevin Marks.

Tags: Metablogging

Anonymous was a blogger

October 24th, 2003 · 1 Comment

“…no matter how bad and bloody things got on the streets of Blackhill, it was pretty much on par with the rest of Scottish history…

I still remember the blood-spattered walls of the house where several dozen [wedding] guests fought, and the verse that sprung to my mind from The Hunting of the Cheviot,
when Earls Percy and Douglas got into a ding-dong battle around 1424.

They closed full fast on every side,
No slackness there was found.

And many a gallant gentleman,

Lay gasping on the ground

John Nolan, a Scotsman now living in Farmington, NH, recently finished his series on “Poets Who Matter” with praise of Anonymous.

Nolan’s ostensible subject is the ongoing search of Rochester, NH for a local Poet Laureate. Between the lines, he recalls how poetry helped him make sense of life as a young Glasgow policeman. Nolan treats both Glasgow and Rochester with humanity and humor,

Recently, the Perseus Project compared our blogworld to an iceberg, with most of its bulk invisible to outsiders. Under the mass of almost-invisible bloggers, I think there’s a much larger group of bloggers-to-be. John Nolan–and I blogged about this before–ought to be up here blogging with the rest of us.

Read the whole series, and see if you don’t agree.

Tags: Learn to write good