June 26, 2007

Echos in My Mind

&uotI just got home from taking the kids to see Evan Almighty. It was amusing, even actually funny at times. Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil any of the jokes. I do want to talk a bit about the villain, played by John Goodman. He is the deeply corrupt Congressman Long. I am not quite sure who the character was modeled after, but these days you could probably throw a dart at a photo of Congress, while drunk and blindfolded, and hit someone who would fit the bill.

I have read and heard a great deal of news and commentary today about the Senate action on the Illegal Alien Amnesty Act that Senate leader Harry Reid pushed through the Senate. I am not going to recount the slimy parliamentary tricks that Reid used to foist this travesty on the American people. You will find that well covered, with links to still more at Captain's Quarters, and Powerline. I want to talk about the almost physical disgust I feel when contemplating the malign entity that is the United States Senate.

I guess we should give them some credit for their uncommon display of honest and open government. Typically, they make a lot of noise about listening to the people who elected them, before they do whatever best serves the interest of their careers in Washington. With their actions on the immigration bill, a majority of them have openly displayed their utter contempt for the American people.

The American people, by a wide margin and across party lines, do not want this immigration bill to become law. The American people, by a wide margin and across party lines, do not believe the government will actually do anything to secure the border and stop illegal immigration. The American people, by a wide margin and across party lines, are willing to accept some process of normalization for the illegal immigrants already in the country after the borders have been secured.

What we are offered in the Reid, Kennedy, Bush, McCain bill are the same empty promises to deal with the problem of illegal immigration that we heard in the Simpson/Mazzoli Act. The people have made it clear that this is not what they want and the Senate has made it clear that they don't give a damn.

All afternoon as this story progressed, I kept hearing the echos of some very old words.

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,"
This is a concpet the self-important potentates of the Senate seemed to have forgotten. Perhaps it is time they were reminded. And perhaps it should be done before the echo of these words completely fades away
"and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:44 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


June 24, 2007

Change in Gas Prices Prompts Congressional Outrage

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, noting the impact on working families, spoke today about the recent $.11 per gallon change in gas prices over the last two weeks. Leaders of both parties vowed to investigate and take action.

Wait.

Prices went down $.11 in two weeks.

Never mind

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:54 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Virtual Goodness

A few weeks ago, I shelled out $40 for access to a site called America's Cup Anywhere. It provides virtual access to all of the America's Cup Finals races as well as all of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger Series.

For those of you who don't know the format, all of the yachts that wish to challenge the current holder of the America's Cup sail against each other in a round robin of match races (one boat vs one boat) to determine who the challenger will be. The site was terrific for the LV cup. Every race day there were five races happening simultaneously on two different courses. You could see the races you wanted plus the others were visible in continuously updated thumbnails. At any moment you wanted you could switch to a different race - with almost no delay.

I watched a lot of races, and saw the only American entry eliminated in the semi finals. The eventual winner was New Zealand setting up an America's Cup match that was a repeat of the last race in which the Swiss syndicate Alinghi won the cup from New Zealand.

Alinghi took control of the first race of the series and never let go. NZ never got closer than the 15 second gap at the first mark rounding. The delta at the finish was 35 seconds. Though I do want to note that other than the psychological factor, the margin of victory is meaningless. The Cup is a best of nine series, and what matters is who crosses the line first. It doesn't matter if you win by three seconds, 30 seconds or 30 minutes.

This morning while making our traditional Sunday pancake breakfast I fired up America's Cup Anywhere for race two. Today's race was worth the entire $40.

In an America's Cup match race the boats enter the start area on opposite ends of the start line, five minutes before the starting gun. This morning the Swiss entered with the starboard tack advantage. (For you landlubbers, a boat is on starboard tack when sailing into the wind with the wind crossing the starboard side of the boat before hitting the sails. When two boats approach each other on opposite tacks - as in the start of a match race - the boat on starboard tack always has right of way.) The Swiss held their advantage for less than a minute before NZ sailed safely across their bow. Absolutely the last thing you want to see if you're on starboard in the pre-start of a match race. New Zealand dominated the rest of the start and hit the line at the gun with better position, speed and a slight lead.

Then Alinghi put on a tremendous display of speed and pointing. (Pointing refers to the angle of the boat to the wind) Alinghi was able to outpoint NZ at speed and eventually forced NZ to tack away. This, incidentally, is how the Swiss took control of race one. Alinghi lead around the first two marks, though at the second mark NZ has shaved six seconds off their lead.

Near the top of the second windward leg, New Zealand got a favorable wind shift and closed the gap with the Swiss. The Swiss boat tried to point up and force NZ to tack off again, but NZ was in a strong position and was able to push the Swiss beyond the starboard layline. (The line on which a boat could sail to the mark without tacking.) NZ held Alinghi above the layline until they reached down for the mark, and there was nothing for the Swiss to do at that point but follow them around. NZ had a 75 meter lead at the rounding which they held downwind to the finish.

This was a big win for the New Zealand crew. The last several America's cup finals have been five race sweeps. They have put the defender on notice that they will indeed be challenged. Tomorrow is an off day, with racing scheduled to resume on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to see what tactical and strategic changes the crews make when they return to the water, and to see if this win will translate into momentum for New Zealand or if Alinghi will come back strong.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:33 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 22, 2007

Where's Waldo

Apple today released this 20 minute demo of the iPhone. It may be one of the most linked pages on the web at this moment. Even assuming that not everything in the demo is actually as easy as they make it look, the thing is decidedly sweet. If I had loads of disposable income, I would be disposing some of it at an Apple or AT&T store really soon.

But I don't. So to ease the bitterness of my failure in life, I will point out something that Apple seems to have gotten wrong.

Thanks to our governmental overlords, every cell phone sold in America has a GPS capability. Your phone knows where you are. No doubt this comes in handy on 911 calls, or in helping the man track you down.

Apple's demo highlights two very location specific applications. Maps and Weather. Both of these applications (as indicated in the demo) rely on the user to tell the iPhone where they are.

Yes it's great and cool as hell that you can build a list of cities and flip through their weather reports and forecasts with a flick of your finger but wouldn't it be great if the default first screen in the Weather app. was the current weather and short term forecast for where you are. Wouldn't that be cool for someone who travels a lot?

And the Map application. The iPhone runs Google maps. You can get directions to places. But you have to tell it where you are starting from. Might not be such a great feature if you're lost. Wouldn't it be really cool, and really helpfully if the Map application opened up with green dot on the screen that said you are here? Remember, the phone already knows where you are. Is it impossible to get that info from the GPS to the map?

C'mon Apple. Think Different. Why do I have to tell a device that by law has to know where I am, where I am? You guys really dropped the ball on this one, and until you get it right, I won't be buying an iPhone. (Just don't fix it too fast, it's going to take me a while to save up the $500.00)

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:12 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


Veni Vidi Voni

Translation: I came. I saw. iPhone.

Better than a Drudge Link.

Better than an Instalanch.

Hold the Mayo has been iPhoned.

Phone1Phone2

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:16 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 18, 2007

Learning To Fly

Let me ask you this. How old is too old to take up skateboarding? Would you say it's probably not the most sensible thing for a 36 year old father of two? What would you say if about 40?

OK, 44?

My seven-year old son has a skateboard he got for Christmas. He doesn't really have a lot of interest in learning to ride it yet. Mostly he just lays down on it and glides along the driveway like Superman. For all his abundent energy and "boyness" he is also a very cautious child. At this point he has very little interest in learning to ride a bike.

My daughter, however, is very interested in learning to skateboard. So we have been learning together. And I am sure we have been entertaining the neighbors a bit. I hope they are having a good laugh. I guess it's neighborly of us to brighten their day a little.

We are starting on the very gentle slope of our driveway. It's just barely enough to get rolling. Which is enough to give us a feel for for the balance and to work on turning. At some point we will move out to the somewhat bigger hill on the street, which will likely be followed by a post written in the hospital with a leg in traction.

We are a very long way from joining the punks down at the town skate park and doing tricks on the ramps and grinding the rails. But We've started, and I feel good about that.

Better late than never. Right?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:18 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


June 17, 2007

In Defense Of Women's Rights

From Fox News:

A Manhattan artist arrested by police when she went on a topless stroll two years ago has accepted a $29,000 settlement from the city, her lawyer says.
Jill Coccaro, 27, was charged briefly with indecent exposure despite a 1992 state appeals court ruling that concluded women had the right to be topless if men were allowed to take off their shirts.

I have to say, I have made several trips to New York City since the 1992 ruling and I have observed that to a person, the women of the city are not exercising their rights.

Ladies this was a monumental legal victory, second only to securing the right to vote. You should exercise your rights to their fullest, at every opportunity. And you do so with my full support.

The author wishes to note that as a member of the oppressive white male patriarchy, his weak attempt at humor may be found offensive by some readers. He also wishes to not that he does not care.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:54 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


What Would Macklin Do?

The five or six of you who actually come here to read this and aren't here as the result of some random Google search are probably wondering what would Macklin do about the current Palestinian situation.

Simple. Nothing.

There are two big problems affecting the Palestinians right now. One is called Hammas the other Fatah. It's beginning to look like when this is all over they will be left with one problem. One problem is always better than two.

Actually, I wouldn't do nothing. I would assure those nations bordering the Palestinian territories, particularly Israel, that this conflict would remain confined to those lands.

Beyond that terrorists fighting terrorists results in more dead terrorists. And to paraphrase the President, it's better to have them killing each other over there than killing us over here.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:05 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


June 16, 2007

When You've Got Nothing - Steal

I've got four partially written posts on the Treo (two of which are hopelessly out of date) and I don't even have the sync cable to get the good ones off (it's an Treo 90 - from the days before the Treo was a phone and a wireless internet device.) So having nothing of my own I'm stealing this meme from Michelle.

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Possibly Saint Stephen since I was born "On the Feast of Stephen."

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? When my father died two years ago.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? When I can actually read it, I think it's quite nice.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Roast Beef.

DO YOU HAVE KIDS? two.

IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? What's not to like?

DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I have this sign in my office - what do you think.

DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes.

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? I haven't drank that much since college.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Honey Combs.

DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Only the good ones.

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I think I am pathetically out of shape. (wait was the physical or spiritual strength?) Eh it would be the same answer.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Cherry Garcia.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Their face.

RED OR PINK? neither

WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? Too much waste and too much waist.

WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Dad.

WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Khaki shorts bare feet.

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Grapes.

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Thunder. Great big loud glorious thunder.

IF YOU WHERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Any color but orange.

FAVORITE SMELLS? The Ocean. Freshly cut grass (that someone else cut)

WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My wife.

FAVORITE SPORTS? Yacht Racing

HAIR COLOR? i believe the technical term is salt and pepper

EYE COLOR? Grey

DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No.

FAVORITE FOOD? All of it!

SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? As long as the ride is good I don't care how it ends

LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Shrek the Third.

WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Green!

SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer

HUGS OR KISSES? Yes please!

FAVORITE DESSERT? Ice Cream

MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? some anonymous stranger.

LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Michelle - since she already did it.

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Raising Wild Boys Into Men: A Modern Dad's Survival Guide, by Tony Wooddlief.

WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I have a Wacom tablet. I don't use a mouse.

WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? House.

FAVORITE SOUND? The creaking of the rig as the sails fill with wind and the boat powers up.

ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? No thank you.

WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? California

DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Yes. But a gentleman never tells.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Maine.

WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? Anyone else who had nothing of there own and want to steal this.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:33 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


June 06, 2007

Debating the Debate

There are a lot of sites that are debating who won the latest round of debates. Some of them even have self-acknowledged statistically meaningless polls to figure out who won. But here's the thing these weren't debates and there were no winners or even the possibility of winning. All there was was the hope of not losing.

It was a group press conference and all the candidates had to do was get through the time without saying something incredibly stupid and damaging to their campaign. Like this, "We're not going to build fences and barriers" Other than that these things are useless. They are almost completely devoid of any meaningful content and the "winner" is usually the one who is described as "appearing the most presidential."

We need something better. We deserve something better.

First - eliminate the moderator and replace it with a referee.

No more of this question and answer crap. One issue to be announced at the start of the debate. Each candidate gets five minutes to outline their position on the issue of the night. Any candidate who strays too far off the topic or starts rebutting other candidates positions during this time will be asked to leave the stage.

Candidates would then get to speak in two minute intervals, in an order chosen at random, during which time they can rebut other candidates, attack other candidates or expand their positions. this will continue as long as time allows. Any candidate who strays too far off the designated topic will be asked to leave the stage.

At the end of the evening those candidates still on the stage will be given 3 minutes for a final statement. This statement must address the topic of the night or a relevant point made by a candidate during the course of the debate. Any deviation will result in the candidate's closing statement being brought to abrupt end and they will be asked to leave the stage.

Do you think there is a candidate in either party who would have the courage to agree to this format - even if it were not held on Fox?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:04 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment


A Brief Moment of Honesty

The old joke is "How do you know when a politician is lying?"

"You can see their lips moving."

It is an all to rare occasion when a politician, particularly one in the middle of a campaign, opens their mouth and the truth come out. For people who's every word, act and gesture is carefully crafted to achieve the objective of winning office, such moments of candor are probably met with an internal admonition to "Shut the F* Up."

Senator McCain had one of those moments in last night's debate when he spoke the truth about immigration reform and border security.

Let's go to the video tape:

Thank you, Senator, for clarifying your position on border security, and welcome to the "second tier."

UPDATE: When you get two such moments, on the same day, on the same issue, from politicians on both sides of the aisle, you might be tempted to start looking for other signs or Armageddon. This moment of revealing honesty comes from Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid who described his desire to "bring 12 million undocumented Americans out of the shadows." Video here.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:45 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


June 05, 2007

Justice Is Blind as a Bat

Compare and contrast.

Lie to a special prosecutor investigating a crime for which no one has been charged nor will anyone EVER be charged, because there may have been no actual crime committed. Sentence: Two an half years in prison. Quarter of million dollar fine.

Steal classified documents from the Nation Archives. Hide them under a trailer in a construction site so that you could retrieve them later, take them home and shred them. Sentence: Community service and temporary suspension of security clearance.

For the record, I have no real issue with the sentence in the first example, but maybe it's time for justice to pull of the blindfold and see what she's been missing.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:40 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 04, 2007

Ask it Forward

I caught a little bit of that movie Pay It Forward the other day while I was flipping channels. I thought, if that annoying whiney little kid can do it, so can I. But I'm not really that into doing good things for random heroin addicts. I into finding the truth.

There's a whole movement of people out there who honestly seem to believe that 9-11 was an inside job. They refer to themselves as the 9-11 Truth movement. I say good for them - let's find the truth.

In case you're lucky enough to have not seen the movie - I'll explain to you how this works. I'm gong to ask three people a simple question:

Were you directly involved, or do you know someone who was directly involved, in a plot to destroy the world trade center on September 11, 2001?
Then each of those three people will ask three people. Each of those 9 will ask 3 more and it just grows and grows. Eventually we will either find someone of thousands who would have had to been involved in the plot who's conscience is eating at them to point where they'll confess, or we will have asked everyone and found no one. Either way we will have found the truth.

And if along the way some Truther nujob stabs me in the gut - I expect a few thousand people to show up outside my fence with candles.

For the record, I'm asking:
Wayne, Ted, and Tuning Spork.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:38 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment


June 03, 2007

I Want This

I want it bad.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:36 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 02, 2007

Kos Kid Blames Clinton For 9-11

Over at LGF I read this little rant from a lunatic posting at the Daily Kos. It may be one of the first incidences of a leftist acknowledging Bill Clinton's complete failure on international terrorism:

9-11—failure to prevent what anyone with a lick of sense could see coming for years (ask me why I wasn’t surprised that day—shocked by the massive slaughter, but not the attack)
Since Bush had been office only eight months I guess the failure to see that coming and do anything about it for years has to belong to his predecessor.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:04 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


My Daughter is Cool

My daughter was complaining that her bedroom was too hot. That the air conditioner was just not doing enough to keep it comfortable. Since her room is the furthest away from the fan, I at first figured the problem was due to the distance the air traveled - and the fact that she kept opening the windows. Even though it had been explained that the windows needed to be shut for the AC to have any effect.

Well we shut the windows and cranked the thermostat to levels that would made al Gore faint and waited. Sure enough, it was freezing cold in the living room and an oven in hers. We were going to go out an buy a cheap window unit to supplement the ineffective central air flow to her room.

I decided to check one last thing. I pulled up the cover on the floor vent and shined a flashlight down the duct. There at the bottom of the duct (in other words in the basement) was the problem. There was stuff. A lot of stuff. My young son had been busy filling the duct probably for most of the winter. The problem is that from the vent in the floor of my daughter's bedroom to the curve in the duct where his treasures had collected was about 13 feet. Short of a trip to Home Depot to buy some tin snips, there was no access to the spot in the basement.

But our trust Kirby vacuum came to the rescue. The hose attachment is about seven feet. Add on the two tube attachments and is was long enough to reach the bottom. I pulled out a dozen or so pens and pencils. Eight of those plastic Easter Eggs. One Pair of socks. Many scraps of paper. Several Hot Wheels cars. $1.28 in change. And that's just what didn't get sucked all the way through to the bag.

The whole process took almost an hour of fishing around with the vacuum until it picked something up, then carefully pulling it out. It didn't take long to master the right way to do it without kinking the hose and dropping whatever it was carrying.

But the AC works in her room now. I didn't have to shell out for a window unit and the electricity to run it. We're both cool with that.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:35 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


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