Saturday, November 22, 2008

Because Attractive Girls Don't Have Enough Power On Our Own

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Generational Feedback

There are some habits of my age cohort (I was born in 1981) that have always annoyed me, so I just want to put this on the record:

1. Princess Bride references
2. Typing on your phone (or phone-like device) during meals.

That's it for now. I'll be back.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pride & Disbelief

I am still in disbelief that Obama won yesterday and so proud that he did. We still have a long way to go to see King's promised land, but Obama's election last night shows how far this country has come and how much people really can change. In 1972 one in four Americans would not vote for a black person as President. This year, we are celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Only forty years ago, it was essentially legal to allow discrimination in housing in this country! It is amazing.

As wobs noted, my prediction was way off. I made the decision yesterday morning to drive down to Philly to meet up with E. who was already there and knock on some doors. I wasn't going to get anything done anyway and this election was too important not to do anything. I knew things were going to be good last night when EVERY door in Southwest Philly had an Obama "Vote TODAY" door hanger and there were sound trucks with high school students and campaign volunteers rolling down the streets with stereos and music blaring.

E. and I, with our friends and E.'s co-workers Iris and Catherine, knocked on doors all afternoon (well, actually, they went out all day -- I was driving down in the morning). Every door but one that we knocked on and got somebody said that they voted that morning or were on their way to vote that afternoon. And they did, too. Turnout in our division was over 60%, over 66% in the next district over. Everyone on the block knew if their neighbors had voted - helped us by letting us know which houses were vacant and when people got home. We got several "thank yous" for helping to get out the vote that day (Iris and Catherine were, in fact, saluted for their work, literally). No one was annoyed that we kept knocking on doors or were out (except the one guy who's nap we disturbed...can't say I'd be happy either).

Some of the stories were amazing. I talked to another one of E.'s co-workers who told me that he knocked on an older African American woman's door. He said told her that there might be a line and she might have to wait. "Are you kidding," she replied, "I've been waiting for this moment my entire life, I don't care how long I have to wait. I'll bring a chair and a book and I will wait until I get to vote." Iris and Catherine had an amazing exchange with a woman in our district. It was inspirational.

Then, as we were driving back to headquarters just as the polls closed, we heard that Pennsylvania was already called for Obama. We didn't believe it until we got confirmation from three separate sources. The only thing left for us was to try to get back to the City before the elections were called. We raced up the turnpike and got to the NY Hotel and Motel Worker's Trade Council three blocks away from Times Square twenty minutes before the election was called. The room erupted when the polls closed and NBC called the election for Obama. We ran to Times Square to see what was going on there and people were yelling in the street, cabbies honking, bellmen and doormen high-fiving passers-by. We could hear roars from the crowd two avenue-blocks away.

It was a truly amazing day and I am tired today and have had difficult concentrating. My knuckles are still soar(thanks, E.!), but I am so happy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Obama wins with 311 Electoral Votes - I think he'll pick up Ohio and Virgina and come up just short in North Carolina and Florida and well short in Indiana. But, in the surprise, I think that he will pick up Nevada in a close race.

Dems have 59 Senate seats at the end of the night including a Franken win in Minnesota.

In the end, I predict very gracious speeches by both McCain and Obama.

Update: I hope that I am wrong and that Obama wins by more, but this is my pragmatic prediction.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Lesson is in Here Somewhere

I use Firefox. I am not sure that I am going to keep using Firefox. I am having so many problems with my browser crashing, hanging, and disappearing from my taskbar. They seem to be mostly related to Firefox because, when it's not open, my computer runs much more efficiently.

I know that others, whose opinions on these matters I trust, have already given up on Firefox. In all likelihood, however, I probably will not. If for no other reason, I have shifted to using zotero reference management software. It is an incredible program and, with the new beta sync version, I can (and do) use it on multiple computers. It is excellent software that allows you to automatically download citations from Firefox's location bar, allows iTunes-like menu control, notes, annotations, drag-and-drop citations (great for putting citations in e-mails) and excellent integration with Word that avoids many of the annoying characteristics of both Refworks and EndNote. In other words, I'll be sticking with Firefox for a while, unless Zotero is released on Google Chrome anytime soon.

Speaking of EndNote, Thompson Reuters—EndNote's parent company—is suing Zotero and George Mason University over copyright infringement disguised as a contract violation[1]. The obvious complaint with large corporations controlling products is that they capture such a large portion of market share that they require everyone to use their products with inflated prices and deflated quality (see, Microsoft). I hope Zotero wins the suit, not only because they offer a far superior product at a far better price (free!), but also because it would set an awful precedent if they lose for all kinds of other products.

On the other hand, open-source products like Firefox seem to me to have a different problem. They seem to try to do too much. The value of Firefox was that it was a very simple platform on which one could add, as one wished, extensions that improved the user experience rather than proprietary formats, like Word or Explorer, that put everything in the program and then dumb it down to the least common denominator. But, with Firefox 3, it seems like they tried to put too much in and it bloats both computer memory and CPU usage, making my computer run too slowly.

Anyway, as I say, I am sure that there is a lesson in here about software lock-in, open-source versus proprietary software, or business models in here somewhere. I'm just too tired to figure them out.

[1] For more on the suit, see here, here, and here. The basic consensus, it seems, is that first EndNote is using contract law to dispute that their proprietary style formats were reverse-engineered by the Zotero team and second Thompson Reuters should hire new lawyers given the incompetence displayed in the suit filed. h/t dr for the heads-up on the suit.