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redbeardsghost [userpic]

a constitutional amendment to fix congress

March 11th, 2014 (10:51 pm)


Congress is broken. Every two years, we keep sending the same people back to the same building, where they say the same incredibly stupid things, and we wonder how in the world they could have been elected once, let alone multiple times.  The problem is bad in the Senate, but it seems worse in the house. How do they keep getting reelected?

 

One answer, of course, is gerrymandering. The district lines are drawn to give the party that holds the seat the best chance of keeping it.  One solution, of course, would to mandate a more fair boundary, say a law that in each state the district boundaries must be drawn so that they each contain the same number of voters, and have the smallest total length that allows for that even division of voters.

 

What would really help, though, and this would require a constitutional amendment, would be to limit how many terms a person could run from a given party. That way, if a person is doing a fantastic job in Washington, and is really popular in his or her home district, they could keep going back.  They would just have to do it as an independent.  If a person is just a party hack, they would not be able to rise to high leadership. Those in high leadership would not be in a party. I would suggest on term for senators and two for representatives, before they had to stand on their own record.  That would give them plenty of record to stand on.  If they are unable to raise enough money and interest based on that record, they clearly have not been doing their job.

 

Now, they will still have their own beliefs to guide them, so some will be further to the right and some to the left, but they will not be beholden to the party, and not stuck owing their whole career, and especially not their future career, to the party.

 

Another potential benefit to this is that if there is a very popular incumbent, all parties will get a voice at debates, not just the (independent) incumbent and the d and r. this is all to the good. and the law would apply to all parties, so that if the green party manages to get a senator, that senator would have to run as an independent the next time around.  A republican second term representative couldn't run for a third term as a libertarian, but a first termer could run for his second term as from a new party. 

 

So that's my proposed amendment for the day.  Comments? Questions?

 

redbeardsghost [userpic]

New 'Puter, part next

December 15th, 2012 (05:02 pm)

Just some more thoughts on moving to an Android tablet from a Windows laptop. I've now been using it for around a week, I guess, and I'm finding that there are some definite plusses and minuses, and some differences that are neither positive nor negative. On the minus side, I do run into things I just can't do. I can't see any flash video, or let my kids play flash games. If I had a computer, even one that mostly just took up space, I could pull up ones that really seemed interesting. This isn't really a strong negative, but it's an annoyance. Sometimes it's even a plus, because it keeps me from getting too distracted. My understanding is that there is no effort any longer to make flash work on android or iOS, so that's more or less a permanent thing. There are other things i find, though. Some websites force you to use their mobile sites if you connect using a tablet, and the mobile site is, by design, more stripped down. It has fewer options, so that it can take less space to load, and not use up your precious data allotment. I have a WIFI only device (that was a requirement I put on it) so I am never worried about data limits with it. I haven't tried to connect to the internet via my cellphone yet 9because I am running dangerously close to the data limit just now) but I know I could, if I needed to. Similarly, there are some websites that don't play well with android. I was used to this on Windows, used to needing multiple browsers, but there is one site I need to connect with regularly that doesn't work in any browser but explorer. How do I use that on an android device?
On the plus side, I love the size. I have been lugging a laptop around for roughly five years. It gets old. My most recent laptop bag was a backpack because most motorcycle saddlebags won't fit a laptop, but i always felt a little unbalanced riding with it. It wasn't enough to make riding dangerous, but it did take some of the pleasure out of riding. This device (which is currently nameless) is in a camera bag, because all the tablet bags were just a little too small for my keyboard, but it still is a bag that will fit in most motorcycle saddlebags. Of course, that means it looks like I am carrying a medium-sized purse around with me, but that's a non-issue to me. That what I am and what people think I am don't always match up is something I have just learned to accept, so what's one more. If I am somewhere with limited space, I can pull out the tablet without the keyboard, and work that way. Sometimes I enter quick notes on my phone instead, if even my tablet seems too bulky. For short notes, Everyone is my location of choice, so it really doesn't matter where I write it. On a similar note, I am finding that the smaller size is fantastic when it is time to work in a public space, like a restaurant or coffee shop. It takes up almost no table space, and has great flexibility in how I set it up, so I an not worried about having room for my food. Also, with the tablet on it's stand, the only thing that will be damaged by a spilled drink on the table is the keyboard, which was only $70, and which could be replaced with any other Bluetooth keyboard.
I'm also finding I like how responsive it is. With no boot-up time, and the ability to flip between open apps, it really is pretty quick to use. I also love having my screen in portrait mode while writing. It's just a more natural way to see a screen, and it's pretty hard to do with a laptop.
There are some differences that are neither good not bad, just different. Using a touchscreen instead of a touchpad is an adjustment, but it is one that was likely to have to happen sooner or later, just like I got used to using a touchpad instead of a mouse when I switched to a laptop, or got used to GUI when I switched away from text-based OSs. Also, autocorrect is a much greater presence on my new device than it ever was on my laptop. Almost everywhere I can type has autocorrect turned on by default, and there is a reason DamnYouAutocorrect is a real website. OTOH, since I regularly scan back through my typing for spelling errors, it's not hard to catch these too, and sometimes autocorrect speeds things up, especially on long words, where it acts like a text predictor. A different neutral change is that the distractions are different. If I have less ability to randomly view flash videos, and some other content doesn't always load right, I have access to apps that I couldn't install on a laptop (I have a maze one that is a real time-waster). In all, I guess it shows that when I want to let myself be distracted from being productive, I can always find a way.
There are some things I am learning. ESC is the back button. I didn't know it, and it's nice sometimes to be able to press back from my keyboard instead of my device. Typing is almost always more effective with the keyboard, because I can navigate the text field more effectively to correct errors. Bluetooth is not a good way to transfer files from my phone to my tablet (that surprised me). The only profile supported on that connection is using my phone as an internet connection.
All in all, the longer I use my new computer, the more comfortable I am with it. I think that will continue to be true. I think this really will be the next step in the evolution of the computer, and I think it will probably last through about two devices for me.


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

redbeardsghost [userpic]

new "puter"

December 9th, 2012 (08:29 am)
Tags:

It's been a real pain in the behind to not have a computer. I lost my HDD, as I detailed last time, and it took all my recent work with it. Since then, I've been trying to decide what the optimal move forward for me would be. I have decided to try replacing the laptop with a tablet, and after careful consideration of the options available to me a several stores, and considering that I don't like to jump into something this different with an online purchase, I opted to buy the Acer Iconia A200. It's biggest factor was that it, alone of the tablets available to me, could recieve a standard USB plug, thus allowing me to plug my flash drives into it and access the backup files I had there. I am hoping soon to have a case to turn my failed HDD into an external hard drive (not one I would have much faith in) and this also could, I presume, be accessed through the same port. Along with the tablet, I purchased a logitech bluetooth keyboard. It's not built int a case. I looked at that option, but all of them I could find had two problems. First, the keys were too small. I have fat fingers. I haven't learned to touchtype, but I am close, and having the keys smaller and closer together would have slowed down what is already a slow process. Second, having the tablet in a case with a built-in keybouard would have made it difficult to do what I am doing now, which is typing with the screen in portrait orientation. I am finding that this is a much more natural way for me to interact with the tablet. It wasn't really an option with a laptop, but as I go to the smaller screen and other changes associated with having a tablet instead of a computer, I figure I may as well get the advantages as well as the disadvantages.
I'm sure there will be a bit of a learning curve. For example, in writing this post, I have discovered that holding down the shift key locks the keyboard into all caps mode, and caps lock won't turn it off (tapping shift again does, though. It's like an old-fashioned typewriter). I'm looking forward to learning what other idiosyncracies there are to this new way of computing, even as I watch the old way pass by, and I can start to laugh at the oldsters, stuck in the 2000s using laptops like a bunch of geezers.

redbeardsghost [userpic]

RIP to my computer

December 5th, 2012 (02:42 pm)

I had been getting hints for months that my HDD was going out. I figured I would replace the whole machine after this or that event, and I would do it in a way that I would have both machines running at once for a couple of days, thus easing the transition. Then I got a warning that failure was imminent, and I initiated a last minute backup. Before the backup could complete, the drive failed completely.
I have a spare drive, so the machine is not dead now (I'm a level 12 cybernetic necromancer- it's been undead for years anyway) but I have a quandary. Should I pass this computer to my kids now, or move back into it for a month and then pass it down?


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

redbeardsghost [userpic]

Christmas music

November 28th, 2012 (12:37 pm)
current location: Earth.

Years ago, when I actually posted here regularly, I described how ridiculous some Christmas lyrics were. I want to know, now, what the most insane lyrics in a Christmas carol or other holiday song are that you know. I don't mean irritating, I mean just absolutely crazy, like snow in Africa insane. Or you can tell me the one that irritates you the most, as well. If I get enough suggestions, I'll create a poll so you can decide on the most ridiculous and most irritating holiday songs in existence. Be creative - don't limit yourself to English! I'm sure that people can be stupid in other languages.

redbeardsghost [userpic]

(no subject)

November 20th, 2012 (07:45 am)

This is a poem my daughter tossed out about a picture of a kitten in a wineglass


A playful kitten falls into a glass
and wonders what on Earth occurred to cause
this strange, unseen blockade his little claws
do not affect. How could this come to pass?
It all went quickly, suddenly, so fast!
A flash of orange stripes, his little white paws,
while prancing, had made one minuscule flaw.
The lonely kitten knew his fate was cast.
But then came I! With my camera in hand.
And when I felt I had pictures enough,
I made that kitten my number one fan
by scooping up that ball of soft, orange fluff.
My Goodness! Kittens sure do have it rough.
And on the table, the kitten now stands.

redbeardsghost [userpic]

Telephone Game in your Head

November 19th, 2012 (01:13 pm)

When we were kids, or when we were adults and someone wanted to prove a point, we have all played a game called Telephone. Since we have all played it, we all know how it works: the leader says a sentence in the ear of the first person in line, often reading it from a paper, but not letting anyone see the written sentence. The first person repeats it to the second, and so on. You are not allowed to ask for clarification, or for the person to repeat it, so you will generally transmit a small error when you repeat the sentence, and over numerous transmissions these errors add up. When I played, there was almost always someone in the chain who thought it was funny or clever to intentionally garble the message, sometimes quite seriously. I never did this, I was very competitive, and always wanted to prove that I transmitted it perfectly. I often tried to find a way to prove that what I said was exactly what the person before me said. This is petty, of course, just like the boy (somehow it was always a boy) who changed “the cat in the hat shovels pink snow” into “Billy is a lesbian” just to see is Billy will repeat it.
What I realized earlier this week is that we often do this in our heads. We aren’t saying things out loud and depending on our ears to hear them on the first take, but we have thoughts that build on previous thoughts often without challenging them. Some of these thoughts are ones we hear a lot, even if we never speak them aloud: “I deserve failure” “I deserve better than the world gives me, but am always cheated” “People can’t be trusted” “Those people can’t be trusted” I could go on, but I don’t want to guess what yours are, and I’m not exploring what mine are in this exercise. That was a list of statements I hear from others that make me angry because of their obvious falsehood, by the way.
What we do with these automatic statements is change our experiences, and alter the narrative of our life. Most of the time, it’s like I was in the game: we try to sincerely and accurately move the story through, honestly and unchanged. We take pride in having not misremembered anything, and we believe that our interpretation (a more acceptable word for storytelling) of the facts is the most reasonable or accurate one. What we don’t notice is that every time we review the experience, we fine-tune the data, just like a sentence going through a telephone game.
Sometimes, though, we have something like the clever comedian kid pop up. He just can’t leave it alone. He’s not just unconsciously refining the facts, he’s blowing them out of the water. These would be thoughts like the ones mentioned above, that are so strong as to approach values, but not quite get there. They are Ego. They are the self-concepts or world-concepts that we have chosen over the years to help us protect ourselves from the disorder of a random world. They often are mistaken. Experience has shown that they are more likely to be wrong than right, but they are often only a little wrong, so we still use them because they work, like using a 13mm wrench on a ½ inch bolt. It will turn it, but over time it will destroy the bolt, rounding the corners so that no wrench will work.
I’m not sure whether the clever kid does more damage than the slow, less visible wearing of our experiences as we change what we know with stories, but there is one significant difference. We can take control and ownership of the kid, effectively making him a grownup. Now, this grownup has seen the paper on which the original sentence was written, but it has been a while. Our adult self, though, can still throw the analysis back to being closer to what really happened, and can also remind us that it’s been a while since he saw the original, so even his memory is suspect, though it has been through less filtering and is likely to be more correct than anything else we have access to. If we are honest with ourselves, this will allow us to come from a position of power, because we will know better what is really going on, and we will be able to have some ability to judge how well we know.
The end of the paradigm shift, then, is that we play the telephone game in our heads every time we replay a memory, and by being brutally honest with ourselves, neither giving ourselves a pass nor beating ourselves up, we are able to have someone who has seen the original sentence whisper to the last person in line, circumventing the damage that comes from all the repetitions. This requires giving up much of our ego and trusting that in place of that 13mm wrench, we will find the ½ inch wrench we need for the problem of today. This trust is never misplaced. I am confident of that.

redbeardsghost [userpic]

merry whatever

November 27th, 2010 (05:47 pm)

From us ("the wisher") to you ("hereinafter called the wishee") Please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all

... and a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2001, but with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and having regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or dietary preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting you are bound by these terms that-

This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal
This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged.
This greeting implies no promise by the wishor to actually implement any of the wishes.
This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.
This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first.
The wisher warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wishor
Any references in this greeting to "the Lord", "Father Christmas", "Our Saviour", or any other festive figures, whether actual or fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect of this greeting, and all proprietary rights in any referenced third party names and images are hereby acknowledged.

redbeardsghost [userpic]

my invisible blog

December 7th, 2009 (03:05 pm)

So those of you who are my friends on facebook, and I think that's most of you, know that I have another blog. I was updating it pretty regularly until I went to New York, but since I got back, I have not had as much time.

The real problem, though, is that I bought a new computer when I went to New York. I bought it because my old one had a motherboard failure, and I didn't feel like buying a motherboard for an old computer. My new computer is pretty nice. It has Windows 7 (and I swore I would never be an early adopter again), which is surprisingly pretty cool. I find that the features they changed are actually useful to me. The problem is that for some reason the combination of my computer, my ISP, and my blog is not a good one. I can surf the web just fine. I have not found any other pages I can't see. I can see it from my wife's computer at my house, so it's not just my ISP. I can see it on my computer when I am anywhere else. And since all three components have to be there for the problem to exist, none of the companies involved will help me troubleshoot it.

So here's my question. Have any of you had a similar problem? Anyone have a clue what the problem might be? I can tell you some things it's not. It's not an issue with cache. It's not a browser compatibility issue. It's not a virus, nor virus software. it just won't load.

redbeardsghost [userpic]

The latest plot from conspiracy theory central

August 30th, 2009 (09:42 pm)

I love coming up with these things.

OK, so we know that North Korea has the bomb.
It is commonly thought that Iran is trying to get the bomb
It is widely accepted that should Iran get the bomb, it will trigger an arms race in southwest Asia.

And now we hear that a boatload of detonators, explosives, and other munitions were seized by a member state of the UAE, en route to Iran.

OK, on the surface, it looks like NK is selling weapons to Iran, but look closer.  First, we aren't told what kind of detonators or explosives, but these could be parts of nuclear weapons (I don't think it's a secret that most nuclear weapons are ignited by high explosives?).  So what is Iran buying from NK?

Well, on this trip, they got nothing.  Do you know who did?  The UAE.  And it wasn't Dubai, where most of the trade goes through.  No, it was in a more out-of-the-way place, where there is not so much shipping.  Which is exactly what you would do if you wanted to get caught. 

My conspiracy theory, then, is that the UAE is trying to buy the technology for the bomb from NK, because they are afraid that Iran will succeed at building one on their own, and they want to be prepared.  The "arms deal to Iran" was just a smokescreen, covering up the fact that the arms race has begun.

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