May 23rd, 2004

Stuffness.

Eric's DSL line has been cut again, meaning my email's out. He and Cathy are off at a LARP for the weekend anyway, so they're not particularly inconvenienced. As for me, it's my own stupid fault for not getting the new server on my cable modem up yet. I'm working on that tonight. (In case you care, the problem seems to be that some idiot at Covad is going through the junction box looking for unused wires to hook up new phone lines, and is commandeering Eric's DSL connection because he doesn't hear a dial tone on it. Of course you don't hear a dial tone -- it's DSL. We need to find this service droid and politely convince him not to do it again, with a six foot metal bar and some salt and lemon juice...)

In other news, the "Ralph Nader for Spoiler" campaign is wandering around UT looking for people who want Bush to be president. Oh joy.

What's with Nader? He's the democratic equivalent of Pat Buchanan. The fact that Florida wouldn't have been in contention in 2000 without Nader is water under the bridge, but what does he think he's doing now? El Shrubbo doesn't care what Nader thinks, he's certainly not going to alter any policies to appease him. The guy who might is hurt by his presence, the _charitable_ reading is that Nader's gambling in an all-or-nothing way.

Okay, maybe he's pointing out that our two party electoral system is unnecessarily polarizing and it would be much better to have a first choice, second choice, veto system (concordet, and sequels). But I think people noticed the current electoral college system is horked mightily in 2000, eh? Nader has to know he's working against his own expressed principles, on what has to be an ego trip. Sheesh, people were worried that Howard Dean wouldn't be "electable" even if he got the Democratic party behind him. Does Nader think he might POSSIBLY win? If not, what's the likely effect of his candidacy, and does it advance any of the goals he claims to stand for?

I've noticed several registered republicans signing the petition to get Nader on the ballot, though. It makes sense from their perspective, Bush has been extremely effective at funneling money to Haliburton and its subsidiaries. The "oil man" has gasoline prices up around $2 a barrel, arctic drilling reopened, and of course the oil companies are writing energy policy and claiming "executive priveledge" about it all the way to the supreme court. And don't forget the raw embezzling; the federal budget went from a surplus to a half-trillion dollar annual deficit. When money gets spent, somebody receives it. The Iraqi carbetbagger contracts are just the _obvious_ ones, you know there's way the heck more...

At the start of 2000 Bush was desperately trying to start some kind of foriegn incident to distract people from the damage to the domestic economy. Anybody remember the china spyplane thing? China didn't want to play. They're not stupid. Who do you think is funding the federal deficit; China's buying all our bonds. They can switch off the money supply any time they like, the US can no longer afford to piss off China because they own the federal mortgage. Thanks El Shrubbo, you flaming idiot.

I liked Clinton because he balanced the budget and paid down the national debt. I don't care if he slept with furniture. I _expect_ him to lie; he's a politician. I'm just happy he lied about sex rather than his job (like the previous Bush's literate lips, Regan's Iran-contra stuff, Ford's vietnam policies, and who could forget Nixon? Heck, the last guy we had who _didn't_ lie was Jimmy carter. We elected an honest man to the white house, and he got eaten alive. Big suprise.)

The Clinton team's calming down of the middle east, Africa, and even northern ireland was just a bonus. (Of course they didn't _solve_ anything. But they had a lid on it and let it scab over a bit. That's cool.) I'm fairly certain Clinton could have managed to parlay the worldwide groundswell of support after September 11 when _everybody_ was sympathetic to us into something a little longer lasting than shattering the one non-islamist republic in the middle east into the kind of anarchy that led Afghanistan to turn to the Taliban. Five years ago children in Saudi Arabia were wearing "Nike" t-shirts, and that's the country that contains Mecca! That's way more effective than any overt diplomatic actions we could take; they were absorbing our _culture_. Now we've gone to war with them, and there's no way we'll be out of there in under 10 years without Iraq collapsing into anarchy or militant theocracy. Iraq's right next door to Iran and Saudi Arabia. Gee, they're going to have an easy time maintaining a secular democracy, aren't they?

The united nations is a tool. They're not supposed to do anything by themselves, things are done _through_ them; the purpose of the UN is to air greivances. It's used to coordinate the activities of the member countries, and the main function is to let everybody know what you're going to do and vent any major objections before you do it. It's a channel, not a mover and shaker in its own right. A poor workman blames his tools. An incompetent workman breaks them. Bush being unable to accomplish anything through the UN isn't the UN's fault, it's _always_ been a dysfunctional squabbling committee. This is not new.

China's just flipping thrilled that the international influence of the US is declining, they're expanding as we contract. China has an active space program, you know. They're going to be back on the moon before we are, and in 50 years that's probably going to matter in a big way. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan are underbidding our tech industry, and taking advantage of anti-US sentiment to land contracts with the whole rest of the world, which isn't too thrilled to do business with us right now. OPEC raises prices every time we piss them off a bit more, they're not hurting. Russia is thrilled about the $2 a gallon gas price too, oil's a big cash export for them; they've got to quietly be investing in infrastructure and getting back on their feet. Who knows, even Europe may get its act together someday (I'm not holding my breath).

I'm not raising "doom and gloom" scenarios, I'm just pointing out that there are a lot of things we SHOULD be focusing on. But we're not. What IS our domestic policy? The (in need of) "education president" gave us the "no child left behind" mess, that's the closest thing we seem to have right now. Don't let any student go faster than the slowest student in the class, and then bury they in standardized tests to make sure there's no time to actually teach anything. Brilliant. It's so bad states are opting out of federal funds entirely because it winds up _saving_ them money...

Unless you count the various pointless constitutional amendments forbidding gay people to marry and, yes, flag burning is back. Religious organizations now qualify for all sorts of federal funding, and on the abortion front it's now a federal felony to cause a woman to miscarry. (I'm waiting for a woman to be charged for causing herself to miscarry. Just wait...)

I like the bumper stickers around Austin. "Not Bush in '04". Pretty much sums up my position on the issue. I'm not pro-Kerry, I'm anti-Bush. I'd happily vote for a cocker spaniel if it had the best chance of defeating El Shrubbo. I despised the man when he was just governor of texas. (And "just" is right, the lieutenant governor actually runs the state, the governor's just a figurehead.) It was bad enough when he was a local problem...

Nader. Sheesh. Yeah, he has the right to get his political rocks off, but that doesn't make it a good idea, and I have the right to hold the resulting mess against him for the rest of his life. After he loses (and that much we KNOW is going to happen; either Kerry will defeat him or Bush will; either way the winning side isn't going to be too sympathetic to the man), I seriously hope nobody ever pays any attention to the idiot ever again. Any brownie points the guy had left over from his 1970's crusading are now spent, and then some.

Tired.

I used up the rest of the liquid nitrogen I took over to Steve Jackson's house on saturday. I wanted to demonstrate to the Linucon concom, but we only ended up making two batches (honey, and chocolate. The cholocate turned out okay, not great. The honey was a learning experience: if you cook honey the taste gets a LOT stronger. The recipe called for heating the milk and adding the honey afterwards; now I know why.)

We played around with the liquid nitrogen a bit afterwards, freezing and shattering some weeds out at the edge of his driveway, but I still had half a 30-liter container to take home, so at home I whipped up another two batches; more random chocolate (with ingredients like ovaltine and carnation chocolate instant breakfast mix, in addition to the standard hershey's chocolate syrup and nestle baker's chocolate powder), which strangely seemed to take Reese's headache away for a bit. A few hours later I tried honey again, and it was definitely cooking the honey that made it taste much more like honey. (Not _bad_, just nice to be able to control it...) Both batches are still in the freezer.

There was still some left this morning, and I basically poured the rest on the floor to empty out the container so I can return it tomorrow. Lots of cool fog ensued...