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Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
3:01 am
When one governor declares Confederate History Month without mentioning slavery at all, it sounds pretty bad, but there's a slight chance that it actually was a mistake, and I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt.

When a second governor does the same, after the first became a national news story and involved a presidential rebuke, and then dismisses any criticism as "doesn't amount to diddly," that sounds pretty damn racist, no matter how far you stretch your definition of "benefit of the doubt."

And some people need to study their history a little better:
"The War Between the States was fought for the same reasons that the tea party movement today is voicing their opinion. And that is that you have large government that's not listening to the people, there's going to be heavy taxation," Fayard said Monday from his home in Duck Hill. "And the primary cause of the war was not slavery, although slavery was interwoven into the cause, but it was not the cause for the War Between the States."

Mississippi's declaration of secession before the Civil War said: "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery - the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization."
(the rest of the declaration is in the same vein; it's almost all about slavery, and how much economic value will be lost by freeing slaves)

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Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
4:18 pm - Android love
This is why I love my Nexus One: an HP48 emulator!

Oh, man, I loved my HP48 in high school. It was big and bulky, though, so I could never really justify carrying it around afterward high school, when I didn't really need it as much. Now I can emulate it on my phone!

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Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
11:44 pm - Bang
Heard a bang, sounded like a gunshot.

Looked around, realized the clocks were off.

Went outside. Neighbor had called the power company. He pointed out the stiff squirrel at the bottom of the power pole.

He offered me a set of old indian clubs; he'd seen me juggling on the lawn last summer.

Thirty minutes later, power was back.

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Friday, February 12th, 2010
5:16 pm - Why you shouldn't watch the Winter Olympics
There is so much wrong with all of this that I don't know where to start; I'll just let the quotes do the talking.
Lindsey Van holds the record — among both men and women — for the longest jump off of Whistler, B.C.'s normal ski jump, built for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The 25-year-old skier trains six days a week, 11 months a year and has been jumping for the past 19 years. But when games kick off on Feb. 12, the 2009 women's ski jumping world champion will be nowhere in sight. That's because women aren't allowed to ski jump in the Olympics.
"I don't think there's any discrimination going on," says Joe Lamb, the U.S. ski team representative for the International Ski Federation's (FIS) ski jumping committee. "It may seem like that, but there are hundreds of other issues at play." Vancouver can accommodate only so many athletes, says Lamb, and whenever a new event is introduced it limits the number of people able to participate in others. That, coupled with the IOC's list of criteria that a sport must meet before it is accepted — a history of world championships and a sizable number of athletes participating worldwide — made women's ski jump an unlikely addition for 2010. And yet the IOC allowed Vancouver to add something called ski cross — a freestyle discipline in which multiple skiers race over bumps and jumps, like a snowy version of motor cross — even though at the time of its application the sport reportedly had fewer participants than women's ski jump.
In 2005, Gian Franco Kasper, FIS president and a member of the IOC, said that he didn't think women should ski jump because the sport "seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view."
So will the IOC approve women's ski jump for 2014? "We'll have to wait and see," IOC member Dick Pound said in an interview for an MSNBC.com documentary on women's ski jumping, Frozen Out of the Olympics. "If in the meantime you're making all kinds of allegations about the IOC and how it's discriminating on the basis of gender," he warned, "the IOC may say, 'Oh yeah, I remember them. They're the ones that embarrassed us and caused us a lot of trouble of trouble in Vancouver, maybe they should wait another four years or eight years.'"
Why Can't Women Ski Jump in the Olympics?

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Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
3:37 pm - Leonids
Watched the Leonids last night. It was pretty cool; I saw a half dozen meteors or so, including one really big one that left an afterimage for a couple of seconds (possibly two in parallel; it was hard to tell). Too cold in Vermont at 2 AM in November to stay out for all that long (and I had work in the morning, so needed to get to bed eventually), but it's always awe inspiring to stare up at the heavens for a while and watch chunks of rock whiz by so fast they burn up.

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Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
11:50 am - How does this make sense?

Telling Court He's Gay, Mob Informer Crosses LineNew York Times

“He didn’t want to make an announcement to the world,” said one person with knowledge of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the dangers facing Mr. Mormando. “He wanted the judge to know what risks he took — why he wasn’t just your average cooperator, someone who had simply broken the code.”

Mr. Mormando’s hearing was, in fact, cloaked in secrecy, listed on the daily court calendar under the name “John Doe.” The documents in his case are under seal and even Pacer, the online federal court archive, has been scrubbed clean of anything related to the matter.

“He’s in an absolute state of fright,” said the person with knowledge of the case. “You have to understand that his partner is totally freaking out. His partner has no connection to any of this. You can just imagine how fraught the whole thing is.”
So, this guy is in fear for his life, and told a judge that he's gay in secret, under seal, with the court hearing listed under a pseudonym... and the New York Times thinks its a great idea to out him in print in one of the most prominent newspapers in the world? Including his name, a mention of his partner, his children, his neighborhood, and some of his associates that he's been close to (along with intimations that this is a stain on their honor)? Am I missing something here, or is this incredibly irresponsible?

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Friday, May 1st, 2009
1:08 pm - Dreamwidth
I'm trying out Dreamwidth, which is a new site based on a fork of the LJ codebase, and has a stronger commitment to diversity and being open and honest with its users about its policies than the current LiveJournal management. They are alos trying to do better about implementing user-requested features, rather than more features for advertisers, the most significant of which is that they separate your reading list from your access list (instead of having just one "friends list" that both subscribes you to read someone's journal and gives them access to your friends-only posts). Now, Dreamwidth is a new site, and will likely be going through some growing pains, so I'm not going to abandon LiveJournal any time soon, but I think Dreamwidth is worth checking out.

You currently need to either get an invite from an existing user, or buy a paid account, to get an account on Dreamwidth, and I do not currently have any invite codes, but once I do I'd be happy to provide them to any of my friends.

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Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
11:36 am - How not to apologize
You know, I've seen a bunch of cases recently in which people have completely and totally failed to apologize, and in fact while in the process of failing to apologize, have managed to dig themselves in deeper. This seems to especially be a problem when someone is called out for making women or minorities feel uncomfortable.

So, just for future reference, some tips for apologizing, and also generally being sensitive to the way other people feel:
  1. Don't blame the victim. "I'm sorry you're upset" or "I'm sorry you're offended" is not an apology. "I'm sorry, I did not mean to offend" may be an apology, but not if you weasel out of it afterwards by saying that what you did was perfectly fine.
  2. Don't dig yourself in deeper. When you respond to someone saying that you're being a sleaze and making women feel uncomfortable, saying "but I love women, and just want to look at their beautiful bodies" does not help.
  3. When being called out for making minorities feel uncomfortable, failing to apologize and then saying "but it's OK because I'm sensitive and like those minorities and want more of them in our community" does not help.
  4. When people are feeling marginalized and speak up about it, it does not help for lots of other random people to pipe up and say "actually, the silent supermajority thinks what you did id A-OK".
  5. Responding to someone who says they feel uncomfortable with whining about being a victim of political correctness does not help make your apology more sincere.
  6. If someone says you made them feel uncomfortable, don't blow them off by saying they "chose to take offense".
  7. People saying that they were offended by what you said or did does not make you a victim of persecution, or mean that anyone has abridged your right to free speech.
  8. When someone is offended by something, it is not helpful to argue about whether they are right to be offended.
  9. If you really, really think that what you said or did is OK, and people felt uncomfortable, hurt, or offended anyhow, then just ignore them or apologize and move on with your life. Learn to live with the fact that you can't please everyone and some people are not going to like you no matter what you say or do. But before doing this, ask yourself if what you did that caused offense is really something that you feel is right and is more important to you than the feelings of the people who are upset, or if you're just using this rule as an excuse for being a jerk.
This is not about just one incident, but a pattern I've seen in some of the flare-ups I've seen online recently. It just really gets me how many people think these non-apologies are a good idea.

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Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
11:36 am - Gay Marriage in Vermont!
I am so proud of my state! First state in the nation to allow gay marriage by a legislative vote and not a court decision.


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Friday, March 13th, 2009
8:40 pm - In Boston
trilobites and I are in the Boston area this weekend. Anyone want to hang out? We're thinking of checking out the Roadhouse BBQ in Brookline tomorrow night, the new place opened by the owners of the Publick House. Or anyone want to go out for coffee or the like Saturday or Sunday afternoon?

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Thursday, February 26th, 2009
11:52 am - Happy Birthday
Happy birthday to the love of my live, trilobites.

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Sunday, January 11th, 2009
2:47 pm - What do you do when...
...you have sliced the bread and broken the eggs for French Toast, and then realize you have no milk?

Beer French Toast!

It actually works surprisingly well. Half a bottle of good beer (Smuttynose Old Brown Dog, in my case), two eggs, a splash of sweet cider, and a tablespoon of flour to thicken it (a little salt might have helped; I forgot about that). Soak some stale bread in that, fry it up in butter, and serve. I had pepper jelly on mine, while trilobites went with the traditional maple syrup. Not a bad brunch.

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Friday, December 19th, 2008
5:38 pm
About sums it up: http://snowpocalypse.com/

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Sunday, December 14th, 2008
2:18 am - Mouse oil
The other night, I was getting a bottle of vinegar out of the cupboard over the stove where we store our oils and vinegars. trilobites noticed that there were a few mouse turds up there. "Oh, great," we thought, "just what we need, mice getting into all of our food." After checking all of the other cabinets, including the ones with many bags of flour, dried fruits, and so on, we saw no sign of any mice in them, and we were busy, so we didn't do anything about it immediately but decided to clean it out and set a Havahart trap as soon as we got a chance. We also stopped at the general store to get some glass containers for storing our flours and sugars, in case mice did manage to find them.

Well, today we had a chance to clean out the cupboard, so I took each bottle out and gave to to trilobites to wash off, while I cleaned up the turds that were in the cupboard. There were quite a lot bottles; we like having a good selection of oils and vinegars on hand. As I was going through them, I noticed a stray cap lying there. "Huh, where'd that come from?" I worked my way further back, and then noticed that the cap was missing from the peanut oil. And the threading and plastic mouth had been chewed off. And in the bottom of the bottle, submerged in peanut oil, was a dead mouse. I guess that explains why I hadn't seen any evidence of him having gotten into the other food.

Anyhow, that's generally not something you expect to see every day. It's a good thing we noticed the turds and started cleaning up; I can only imagine what would have happened if I'd reached for the peanut oil without being prepared for what was inside...

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Thursday, November 27th, 2008
10:11 pm - Rickrolling is dead
Long live Rickrolling.

Yeah, when Rick Astley officially rickrolls the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, you know that meme has reached the end of its life cycle.

Actually, I've been fairly glad for rickrolling; it means that random forum trolls have done a lot less linking to goatse, which is definitely appreciated. I hope that whatever replaces rickrolling is equally innocuous.

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Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
11:43 pm - America
Fuck yeah!

current mood: dancing

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Monday, October 6th, 2008
12:35 am - Barack Obama
I don't like to bother my friends with political advocacy, but the more I follow the news, and think about this election, the more I realize that this is a critical turning point in the history of America, and that it will take everything we've got to make sure we don't go down the wrong path.

Barack Obama is the only chance we have to take this country in the right direction. He's not perfect (I'm as upset as anyone about his vote on FISA), but on the vast majority of issues and votes, he's done the right thing. He's smart, kind, hardworking, and inspirational. He will help mend America's tattered image in the rest of the world. He opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, and continues to push for us to reduce our presence there and focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the actual threats to this country are. And what he doesn't know himself, he knows who to go to; he has a very tightly run team with a wide variety of very sharp advisors. This is only the smallest sampling of the reasons why I think it's essential that Obama be elected president; you can find plenty more written elsewhere that will go into much more detail.

In order to get Obama elected, though, everyone needs to do a little. Obama is the first candidate I have donated money to, and I encourage anyone who is able to do the same. Obama opted out of public financing to let millions of Americans donate a small amount at a time to show their support for him, while McCain is taking public money while also raising money for the Republican party who can then spend it on advertising for him and attacking Obama. Donating to Obama's campaign is very important, to make sure he can keep up the fight, so I've set up a personal fundraising page. Please donate what you can afford, be it $5, $10, or $100; every little bit helps, and you should consider it an investment in this country.

Besides donating, you should also make sure you're registered to vote, and make sure you get to the polls. Those of you who live in New Hampshire especially should look into making sure you're registered there; New Hampshire is a swing state, and leaning slightly towards McCain right now, so every vote will make a difference. For those of you who are Dartmouth students, you can register to vote there very easily; just get a note stating that you are living in New Hampshire from ORL, then go to the Hanover town clerk's office with that and a photo ID. You can find some more information here.

If you're not sure if you're registered to vote, the Obama campaign has set up a website that will allow you to check your registration status, register, and/or request an absentee ballot. It should also allow you to look up your polling location, at least in some states.

Oh, and to make this post a little more fun, and since I said I'd be trying to post the occasional juggling video here, here's a video about Barack Obama by Anthony Gatto, the world's top technical juggler and multiple world record holder.

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Saturday, September 27th, 2008
12:13 am - Loaner garb
Don't know how many people are going to check LJ before coronation, but Altani and I are bringing my brother to coronation, and forgot to grab loaner garb for him. Would anyone happen to be able to bring any loaner garb that might fit my brother (approximately my size) to coronation? Or know if there will there be any gold key available at the gate?

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Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
12:58 am - Topology & Modern Art
I just spent the last few hours finishing sewing up the hood that I started before last Pennsic. I have some nice green wool, and a linen lining, and I got everything cut out, the wool and linen sewn into hood shapes, and then I put them together right side to right side, sewed the faces together, and sewed the bottoms together. I even thoughtfully left the liripipe off the lining, so I'd have a gap that I could pull it through to turn it right side out. I did not, however, think my cunning plan quite all the way through. Since, if I sew it all together right side to right side and evert it, the lining attaches at the face, and then comes around on the outside to attach around the bottom. Basically, it looks like two hoods, joined together at the face and at the bottom; it could almost be a piece of modern art, if you hung it up and wrote a bunch of meaningless stuff about how it represented the id and the superego devouring each other.

Anyhow, it's late, so it looks like I'll be spending some quality time tomorrow with the seam ripper, and actually thinking in a bit more depth about the topology and how to get those seams sewn so that it comes out right when I turn it the right way around.

Speaking of which, who all is going to Pennsic? Is there anyone I should be meeting up with while there? trilobites and I will be heading out this weekend, and staying through both peace week and war week, though we're not sure exactly if we'll be showing up on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

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Sunday, July 20th, 2008
11:45 pm - What I'm watching
I'm thinking about starting a series of posts of links to the best juggling videos I come across. There's a lot of amazing juggling, and fascinating new ways of using juggling as an art form, that most people don't know about. I figure that if I post the best videos that I see, with some commentary, then maybe it can help people appreciate the art of juggling, and get a sense of the range and variety of juggling.

First up is Viktor Kee in Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion." This is a beautiful act, that I've watched over and over again for inspiration. Viktor Kee blends acrobatics, dance, and a bit of contortion with juggling, in one of the most graceful juggling acts I've even seen. I really enjoy the sheer playfulness of the routine, the flawless choreography, and the groundbreaking use of his body. Michael Moschen (who you may know as David Bowie's hands in Labyrinth) pioneered a style of juggling known as contact juggling based mostly on rolling balls around his hands and arms, while Viktor Kee uses his torso, legs, feet and head, while integrating dance and acrobatics at the same time. Many of the individual tricks he does are standard tricks performed by many jugglers, but choreographed and executed flawlessly with his wonderful sense of movement.

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