Those who don't watch West Wing are doomed to repeat it?

Maybe this will become an ongoing series of life just being better on the show the West Wing as opposed to the real world of the West Wing. Here's my first entry on pardoning turkeys.

This one is more subtle, but watch at about 4 minutes into this video. With the polite tone that is befitting the setting, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen delivered a stunning rebuke of a question posed by a senator.



Here's the better version. The sound quality is rotten, but it's the only one I could find on YouTube:




"The problem is that's what they were saying about me 50 years ago. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed."

If only Fitzwallace could have been there to smack down the senators.


Denver Public Schools (DPS) Calendar update

I just finished updating the DPS calendar for next school year.

This year they actually released it at a reasonable time, and didn't wait until well into February (after most summer camps require a deposit) to let us know when school would start.

I do this each year for myself, not wanting to refer to the ridiculously obtuse official calendar. (Do green-and-black checkerboards mean early release and blue octagons mean assessment day, or is it the other way around?) Last year I figured it could help a lot of other parents, so that's why I post it here on my blog. If there's something I can do to make it more useful, please let me know.


The New New New Technology Examiner, Peaches and Crowdsourcing. Confused Yet?

Sometimes I just can't help myself...

This morning I'm cruising through my blogs, and I read a great post by Nate Silver about some very fishy survey results about Oklahoma students.

I've been meaning to write in this space about how I'm now the new "new technology" Examiner over on Examiner.com, but I haven't.

So, do I compose a nice post here, introducing my work over there? No, I gotta go mixing things up and helping Nate solve the problem of not having enough data to show that the survey results are bogus. How? Using crowdsourcing, something I've been reading a lot about lately.

Totally confused? Yes, sorry, I understand. I'd sit down and write a post explaining it all, but I really want to get to the Farmer's Market before they run out of peaches. I'll have much more in the coming days, but at least now you have some explanation of why I wrote on Examiner.com this morning that we could use Crowdsourcing to prove that Oklahomans are not that dumb.


Gay Marriage, Marijuana, and the march of time...

Several quick odds and ends before my next post, which will be a big and very positive review of The Unlikely Disciple...

  • Two excellent posts in a row from the FiveThirtyEight guys, showing how gay marriage and marijuana are on an almost inevitable march toward legalization. Those guys nailed it during the election, and they are still finding their footing now with no election to talk about, but with those two posts I expect to learn a lot from them in the coming years.
  • In the marijuana post, it points out -- without comment -- that my generation (X) smoked less pot than either the boomers or the millennials. Doesn't really surprise me... even at NYU in the 80s, I saw very little pot smoking. Maybe I just ran with a nerdier crowd. I'm not advocating for or against legalization here, but I will say that I think smoking pot in general is somewhat narcissistic, which is why it makes so much sense that both the boomers and the millennials toke up. 
  • My post from April Fool's Day was, mostly, a joke. I am not crowdsourceing my life. I have to say, however, the idea was posted as a joke but the more I thought about it the more it grew on me. I guess I want it both ways: I don't want to do it right now, but I do want to be thought of as the first person to ever crowdsource his own life. Hmmmmm.
  • Baseball is back. Ahhhhhhhhh.

Drudge let's me down a second time

The first time Drudge let me down, I figured he just had a bad source. He announced to the world that Evan Bayh would be Obama's Veep.


This time, though, he's really shooting himself in the foot.

Comeback Through headlines and pictures, he's trying to create the illusion that McCain is making a big comeback. He's not

(And remember, I like Drudge. With a friend, I invented the Drudge Widget!)

There's also some noise that he may or may not come out with a big new plan to help the economy.

The problem is that McCain is in a trap that Obama has laid down. He did this with the Clintons, which was masterful. Now he's done it with McCain without even breaking a sweat.

The trap? He's made the case that McCain is "erratic." So, now if McCain sticks to his same (losing) strategy he'll lose, and if he tries to make a big change, well, he'll just be more erratic. McCain really may never know what hit him.

I'm certainly glad to see, by the way, that McCain has started in small ways to tamp down some of the anger out there. I've been banned from talking on this blog about anything that could be perceived as a threat by anyone against any potential new president. I'm not allowed to talk about it, but let's just say that I'm really really glad that McCain is saying that Obama is a good, decent, family man and a citizen.

Hey, speaking of family man, I think all those people that are so afraid of Obama are mostly older, and they have a lot of fear about the economy, and just change in general. Change is scary! All of those who are scared should look to none other than the heartthrob of Wasilla, Levi Johnston. There's a guy who should be scared. He's a high school drop-out with a pregnant girlfriend, and a mother-in-law-to-be who is a lifelong NRA member and has a lot of guns and may, in fact, be crazy. (She certainly is delusional.)

But is he afraid? Doesn't sound like it to me:

"We're up for it. I'm excited to have my first kid. It's going to be a lot of hard work but we can handle it."...


What about Johnston's politics?

The young man said he wasn't an expert on politics by any stretch. Asked about Barack Obama, he replied: "I don't know anything about him. He seems like a good guy. I like him."


Sure, he says he will be voting for the Republicans. I would be to, if I was him; having the Palins several thousand miles away probably sounds like a good idea!


On The Road

246652498_5a0b047d6a Like any political junky, I've been watching the polls. My new favorite poll watching site is put together by a couple of baseball stat freaks who have turned into political stat freaks. (They are liberal, and want Obama to be elected but they treat politics like baseball in that they have favorite teams, but they really just love the game and the stats.)


They do lots of great analysis of all the polls, having recently helped debunk the whole myth of the Bradley Effect. I love a blog that's not afraid to use terms like "regression analysis."

One of the writers has started doing something that big newspapers used to do back when they had decent size reporting staffs and travel budgets. He's hit the road.

In true blogger style, he's doing it while quoting Jack Kerouac plenty. I read yesterday that he was going to be in Denver, so after doing some politicking of my own last night (more on that later) I went over to the bar where Kerouac would go to celebrate stealing cars with Neal Cassady, My Brother's Bar. 

(You know, I never thought about this, but the bar is called My Brother's Bar and it was Cassady's brother who was a bartender there. Did the bar have the same name then? I better head back there and ask!)

So I figured that if the 538 guy is in Denver, and he's a Kerouac fan, he's gotta be there, right? Well, if he was, I missed him. I did run into an old friend I hadn't seen in years, though, so that made it a great night. 


Wall St. Journal Imitates the Onion

Over on the right of this page there is a link to my contributions to James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" column from the Wall St. Journal.


I haven't made as many lately, I've just been busy, but one of his best ongoing jokes is "Life Imitates The Onion." It's when the Onion is funniest, when actual headlines prove prescient, such as this pairing:

  • "Estate Sale Proves Everything Man Worked For in Life Worth $5,235.78"--headline, Onion, May 17, 2006
  • "Man Auctions Life, but Disappointed at Bid Price"--headline, Associated Press, June 30, 2008

    Normally I might clip this article about Barack Obama being too skinny to be president and send it to Taranto urging that he put it in his column paired with the video below, but because the article was actually in the Wall St. Journal, I'm guessing that just isn't going to happen.



    As Obese Population Rises, More Candidates Courting The Fat Vote 


  • Do you know knols?

    Knol-logo

    I wrote about the new effort by Google to create a Wikipedia killer when I first heard about it late last year.

    At the time I compared the effort to the National Enquirer. Most major media refuse to pay for actual news, but the Enquirer does. 

    The difference between Google's new thing "Knol" and Wikipedia is that it pays for content. As I wrote then, I don't see anything wrong with that. If someone wants to write something and get paid for writing it, then I know why they are writing it. If they spend a bunch of time on a Wiki article, well, are they just doing it for their 15 minutes of fame, or what?

    Well, Google has been working on this for at least six months, and it just came out.

    First impressions? It's amazing how few articles they have, and how much they pay attention to health. Is the doctor business really so bad that they can write articles to go on the Internet in hopes of making 10 bucks for some clickthrus?

    That said, where most journalists, even really good ones, are predicting that the best way to make money in Knol is to write articles about popular topics, say Obama and McCain. That's what TechCrunch wrote. But I would actually predict that the field that will get flooded first is the articles about health, especially those conditions that can either be treated with a fancy pharmaceutical or that some lawyer can sue someone for. I read once that "mesothelioma" is the highest possible Cost-per-click word you could use because people type that looking for lawyers to sue in the junk science cases against asbestos manufacturers.

    In spite of the people out there willing to sell their vote on ebay, I don't think a lot of people are following a lot of text ads for candidates. They do follow links for stuff they think will make them healthy or rich without having to work. I'll try to check back in another six months and see if my prediction comes true.