Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Does It Look Like A Pirate Ship?

Now can you see the pirate ship?
How about now?

I can't decide if this is the coolest birthday activity ever, or just a way to fold, spindle, and mutilate several children.

Random Photos

I dumped all the photos I had kicking around, from my phone and my camera. Here's some of what I found...

What's wrong with this:

This photo was taken during carnival set-up. I don't remember who's booth it was, but when I saw it I thought it was an object lesson in how not to design a support joint.

Then there's this:

Pocomassino breaking her diet at Ninfa's in Houston over USITT. I swear, pics get into the phone and are just there forever.

Next up:

Tech rehearsal for the Commedia Project. Do you think this is what my boss had in mind when she proposed we do a "period Commedia wagon?" Me either, but still it turned out to be a good project almost in spite of itself.

And finally:

This is the first rental car we had in Chicago recently. While stopping for lunch I shut the door and the window exploded. I think I honestly said "now there's something you don't see everyday." I am now living in fear of the phone call explaining I owe for a new window. Wouldn't be fair, as my Aunt said: "you couldn't break a window like that if you tried, there must have been something wrong with the car." We'll see.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Somebody Else Said This Ages Ago...

Galactica Watercooler » Blog Archive » Starbuck Paints Original Series Ship Of Lights?: "Long-time GWCer Solai points out in the GWC forums that Starbuck’s painting from last week’s BSG episode “The Ties That Bind” closely resembles the “ship of lights” that appears in the original Battlestar Galactica series episode “War of the Gods.” As you can see from the screen captures above, they sure look similar."

Oh wait, it was me.

CAD, Dull Today I Think

Some Not Completely Stupid Ideas

Iraq: The ten commandments | Salon: "Bush will face the judgment of history, and it will not be forgiving. But that is not our immediate concern. The most important thing now is to recognize the mistakes that led us into the most disastrous war since Vietnam -- a war that will thankfully cost America many fewer lives than Vietnam, but that has had far worse strategic consequences. If we don't want to repeat those mistakes, there are 10 lessons we must take away from Bush's war. In honor of the recently departed Charlton Heston, let's call them the Ten Iraq Commandments."

*bad and stupid are not the same

I'll Get Right On That

Can renewable energy make a dent in fossil fuels? | Green Tech blog - CNET "4.2 billion.

That's how many rooftops you'd have to cover with solar panels to displace a cubic mile of oil (CMO), a measure of energy consumption, according to Ripudaman Malhotra, who oversees research on fossil fuels at SRI International."

Yeah, This Will Help

Think Progress: "At the cost of nearly $500 million, a Los Angeles-based company is “developing the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience, a massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum.”"

I wonder if I have former students working on this.

I Think It's More Complicated Than That

Speaker Pelosi wants us to stop putting oil in the national strategic reserve. And of course the republicans want us to open up Anwar for oil exploration.

Anyone want to lay odds on whether if after doing that the oil companies would just tell us prices are high because of a lack of refinery capacity?

Or maybe the excuse would be "special summer cocktails" designed to reduce emissions.

It just isn't as simple as supply and demand. Increasing our domestic supply won't bring down gas prices. It turns out that demand for gas across the country is already lower than it was a year ago. It's not supply and demand, its not OPEC production, and it isn't refining capability.

It's speculators, the commodity traders that are investing in oil.

The price of gas kicked up like 100% after Katrina, from a dollar something to two dollar something and it's never looked back. In all likelihood refining capacity has actually increased since then due to facilities being repaired and coming back on line. The problem is that the news never improved. We went from Katrina to the war to OH MY GOD THERE ARE A LOT OF CHINESE and right from there into summer refining formulas. Every one of those things on their face suggests that the supply is in danger, that oil and gas are scarce and that suggestion is enough to get investors to do something about it. They buy futures, the price goes up, we see the price go up and think OH MY GOD THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN INDIA, someone does a news story and the cycle repeats.

It is a self fueling hysteria over fuel.

I am sure that there are legit reasons for fuel price increases. But I have to tell you I am just as sure that we ought to be paying something on the order of $2.25/gal at the pump and that the difference is investment driven.

So back to The Speaker. I don't think we should change procedure on the strategic oil reserve, and I don't think we should open up ANWAR. But maybe we ought to make a big deal out of telling the world we are.

Go ahead Josh, tell me how I am wrong this time.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Finest Health Care System in the World

Dystopia: Life Expectancy Going Down in the United States: "In some parts of the United States, medicine has not improved the average life expectancy — and in fact, the average lifespan has been going steadily downward since the 1980s."


The Editors on Ethanol on National Review Online: "Congress has created an artificial demand for ethanol to satisfy the farm lobby, which is one of the most powerful in Washington. To make matters worse, almost every major candidate for president in the last 20 years has supported ethanol subsidies because of the program’s importance in the capital of corn, Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential caucuses. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are not exceptions to this rule. Both voted for the 2007 energy bill, and both declared their support for ethanol while campaigning in Iowa. Obama, from the corn-growing state of Illinois, has been singing ethanol’s praises for a long time."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Japan is out of butter... I fixed my car this week, for $4... Girl, do NOT hook up on the first day of Real World, that's trashy... I do wish I could vote for Sig Hansen for President, maybe I will write him in... I am not even caught up with this year, why would I start working on the summer, or the fall for that matter? I guess someone has to do it... I am really looking forward to Speed Racer... Maybe the news people should stop reporting that gas prices are high and start reporting on why gas prices are high, supply is up, demand is down, and prices are soaring. Might be an interesting story... If they put OJ on the Celebrity Apprentice, NBC and The Donald should be arrested as accessories after the fact... Did you know when you move from one state to another you have to cancel your auto registration? Me either... If I ever have a choice, I won't interview five head candidates in three weeks... What happened to Berak? He got his butt kicked by a girl... I want to care about the basketball playoffs, I really do... We can no longer say safety factor, only saferty factor... Once again, if there was any remaining doubt, the only real problem with assigning homework is that you do in the end have to grade the homework... America's Port is no Deadliest Catch, it's barely Ice Road Truckers... I need to find a way to bring Ultimate back into my routine... It's really very hard to read the news and not be depressed. Things are really screwy. I am really ready for a change up... I think I might have to resurect my short lived facebook account... In case it comes up, the Illinois DMV destroys their records after ten years... Those sandwiches from Real McCoy do taste good, but you inevitably regret it in the end... I submitted something to NOCOT, but I think they're not going to use it... The new Harbor Freight is cool, and they had a half dozen dino puzzles I didn't have yet. I smell another dino workshop... Next week I think I get to build a playground pirate ship... That 10am CNN anchor - he's an embarrassment... If I didn't have to fly again this weekend I might tell you how much flying last weekend sucked... Do I want to teach drafting again? Think anyone else wants to teach it? Unlikely... OK, back to the feeds...

Monday, April 21, 2008

From My Very Good Friend Berak - I Hate to Remind him I am an Independent

David --

I wanted to get in touch with you one last time before tomorrow's primary.

We've had a long journey together in Pennsylvania. For more than a year, you have been dedicated to the idea that when ordinary people come together, we can do extraordinary things.

It's been inspiring to see our movement grow in the Keystone State, and it strengthens my faith that the American people -- not just here in Pennsylvania, but across the country -- are ready to stop settling for what the cynics tell us we must accept and start reaching for what's possible.

Tomorrow's our chance to make history.

But the election is going to be close, and it's vitally important that you vote, and bring your family and friends to vote with you.

Find your polling location and vote tomorrow:

When Michelle and I talked about my running for president, one of the core goals we both had for this campaign was to leave the political process better off than we found it.

That's just what you've done in Pennsylvania. You have shaken the political status quo and built a grassroots movement that is sweeping this country.

If you get out and vote tomorrow -- and bring others to vote too -- our movement will continue to grow. The world will know that Pennsylvania stood up for a different kind of politics. And real change will be within reach.

Find your polling location:

Let's bring real change tomorrow.


P.S. -- Here are a few details and rules that will help make the voting process run smoothly. Make sure to share these with your friends:

  • All Pennsylvania Democrats who registered by March 24th and who are 18 years of age are eligible to vote.

  • Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. All voters in line at 8:00 p.m. have the right to vote as long as they remain in line.

  • Only people who are voting in an election district for the first time must show identification. Approved forms of identification include a valid driver's license, passport, student ID, employee ID, voter identification card, current utility bill, current bank statement, paycheck, or government check.

Find your polling place

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Today's Pharaoh

We are descended from slaves, from people who staged the first successful slave revolt in recorded history. Ever since then, our people have kept alive the story of liberation: cruelty and oppression are not inevitable facts of life, but conditions that can be changed. The message of the Exodus is revolutionary. The way of the world is not the way it has to be. Everything can be changed the potential for improvement lies everywhere once we realize that an omnipresent God who created the world also granted us the power and responsibility to transform the world and make it better.

Today this task may seem more overwhelming than ever. In todays world the forces of evil are not as easily identifiable as they once were. We are hard pressed to identify modern day Pharaohs with any degree of certainty, while our own relative comfort may blind us to the misery of others. Today we must be more vigilant than ever.

Every one of us reads the news. We listen to it on the radio and watch it on TV. We discuss it over lunch with friends, and overhear snippets of conversation among others. We know the news, but do we really experience it? Do tidings of war, famine, poverty, and disease evoke more than just a furrowed brow and a sigh of consternation among us? Could we do more to eliminate oppression than simply recognizing its existence its evil. Are we willing to confront these modern-day Pharaohs even though, like Moses, we may stutter? Can we really be free unless we do?

The Haggadah teaches us that every generation must see itself as if it is being liberated from Mitzrayim. We must not simply remember the Exodus, but we must relive it.

-Taglit-birthright israel Haggadah

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ID on the Offence

Reason Magazine - Flunk This Movie!: "The film is being bankrolled by Walt Ruloff, a Christian evangelical software millionaire. A resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, Ruloff hooked up with another Expelled producer, Logan Craft, when Craft was studying with evangelical theologian J.I. Packer at Regent College in Vancouver. Ruloff claims that he was shocked when one of the leading genomic researchers in the U.S. told him that as much 30 percent of research in his field is never published because it points toward intelligent design theory. Just how this much research is hidden from view goes unexplained."
Didn't these guys see "Inherit the Wind?" Evolution does not exclude the possibility of God. Didn't they watch Nova? ID is a load.

They probably don't watch Nova, do they.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Don't Be Stupid

George Carlin has this routine, I think it's about kids and bicycle helmets, where at one point he declares that it's all about evolution: "the kid that swallows the most marbles doesn't grow up to have kids of his own."

Something tells me that most of the people discussed in this article aren't Carlin fans...

News - Investigative Report: Nail gun safety under fire as injuries soar - "As the tool's popularity surged during the building boom of the 2000s, a Sacramento Bee investigation found, nail gun injuries also took off despite decades of warnings from researchers and doctors that the guns are dangerous, especially in the automatic mode known as 'contact trip.'"
They make contract trip sound like fully automatic, like you pull the trigger and fire an entire clip of nails. Although I've seen it happen due to fasteners getting jammed together in the gun; regardless of how the trigger is configured the gun is only designed to fire one fastener at a time.

I have the utmost sympathy for people with injuries, but after a read of the article I didn't really see anything that was more attributable to the trigger mechanism that it would be to laziness or foolhardiness. And, as the article itself says, often even when the triggers are configured in that awful pull the trigger hit the safety release the trigger per fire mode, people on the job often alter the tools to fire more freely anyway - just like they take the guards off of saws, or weld without gloves, or, or, or.

The strangest assertion in the article is that the vendors want the guns to free fire because they sell more nails that way. I guess maybe you fire a few more nails that way, but thats not about the tool or the trigger, that's about being a noob. People just learning to use air tools like to fire a lot of fasteners. After a while you realize that's stupid and you use as many nails as you need, regardless of how they fire. I am not sure that altering the way the tool works to offset injuries by people that might maybe should not be using the tool unsupervised is the best idea.

They say "suchandsuch was injured while carrying the gun by the trigger and then contacting his leg." Don't do that. It's a trigger, not a handle.

"suchandsuch left the tool on contact fire and hanging at chest level over the scaffolding and then bumped into it." Don't do that, you could get hurt.

"suchandsuch was injured wile trying to fire a fastener through a metal fitting." I cannot tell you how many times I have been tempted to do this and haven't. Know why? Because it is stupid and you could get hurt. Don't do that, wrong tool for the job.

Unfortunately I think they're more right here than wrong, it's just that the wrong people are taking the rap. The guns are too dangerous I guess, but it's the fault of the users and the supervisors not the manufacturers. When Joe Weekend Warrior decides to use a nail gun instead of a hammer and nails or a screwgun he is assuming a larger risk, and one he may not be trained to handle. When Attila the Site Manager makes his guys go faster or use the wrong tool, that's on him, not on Senco.

But changing Joe or Attila will be operationally more difficult than forcing the manufacturers to alter their designs. So, I guess we have more convoluted safeties to look forward to. Bummer that.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Link of the Day

So this is pretty cool. Unfortunately I discovered I already had the best plan I could get. Also, I seem to never use my cell phone on Mondays. I wonder what's up with that.

Find The Best Cell Phone Plan For You | BillShrink

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stump Speech

I am starting to hear what sounds to me like a stump speech in my head...

I look forward to a time, with your help a time very soon, when we can stop discussing the process of Iraqi Debathification Reform and get down to the work of American Debushification Reform.

We certainly have a lot to do. The current administration has taken us places no reasonable American could have imagined, and although Goodling, Myers, Gonzalez and others are now gone, for each of the Bushies we've managed to move out there are many more entrenched throughout the apparatus of our government. My administration will make it an urgent priority to root out the remainder of this partisan army and to undo the changes they have made to the greatest country in the world. We will recalibrate the American experiment. Reboot and restore the system settings as the framers set them out.

All is not lost however. This Debushification process allows us to deliver on one of recent history's most woefully dashed promises, because as the agent of change I get to be a uniter, not a divider. Restoring the integrity of our government is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it is an American issue. Without looking very far one can find legislators on both sides of the aisle to explain how the combative, litigious posture of the past several years has eaten away at the very credibility of our nation. Rebuilding the credibility and integrity of our nation is not an issue for the right or for the left, it is an issue for all the people of this nation. Without scanning too far up or down the dial one can find outlets from Fox News all the way to NPR explaining how the concept of the unitary executive has eroded the very foundation of our democracy. The country can and will be united in setting things straight.

It will not be enough that the term will end and the leadership will retire back to their privileged, corporate lives. In their path they have cut a swath of destruction through our government; a selfish child's mess for the help to clean up, and so we must roll up our sleeves and get to it. Every single Presidential Signing Statement must be disavowed. Every single no bid contract must be audited. Every single person being held without charges must be charged or released. Every single regulatory change and the funding of every singly regulatory agency must be revisited. Every single treaty obligation must be reviewed, and every single person who has broken the law of the land under the guise of the war on terror must be charged and plead their case in front of a judge. Perhaps some of them will be acquitted, and that would be a great thing, but to not charge these so called patriots can only be described with one word: un-American.

And every single one of the administration operatives that enabled these policies, they really ought to brush up their resume this evening.

Eight years ago a candidate for the office of president came before the people in the wake of a prior administration that stood in shame over embarrassing personal peccadilloes. That candidate said to us all: "Vote for me and I will restore honor and dignity to the office of the President." This day I don't think I can improve on that sentiment. Ladies and gentlemen, vote for me in November and I will restore honor and dignity to the United States of America.
I wonder who's voice it sounds like?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Well, That's One Way

Life In A Subprime Ghost Town: Not Paying The Mortgage Feels "Great!": "
Sinclair: We went through months of being skinflints, because we knew that we were going into the red, so we didn't buy anything. All the sudden, we had a bank full of money and we're living rent-free, but we know that's not really our money.

Vigeland: How does that feel?

Esmeralda Sinclair: Great! Like he said, we were so tight with money..."


Another KBR Rape Case: "Jamie Leigh Jones, whose story made the news in December--when she alleged that her 2005 gang rape by Halliburton/KBR co-workers in Iraq was being covered up by the company and the US government--also initially believed hers was an isolated incident. But today, Jones reports that she has formed a nonprofit to support the many other women with similar stories. Currently, she has forty US contractor employees in her database who have contacted her alleging a variety of sexual assault or sexual harassment incidents--and claim that Halliburton, KBR and SEII have either failed to help them or outright obstructed them."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

We Don't Even Have a Barn

Know the old saw "I've got a barn, let's put on a show!"? Well, this time we don't even have a barn:

The School of Drama presents "The Commedia Project."

It's amazing how much something can change from inception to execution. More than a year ago I sat in a meeting where we were trying to figure out how to make the prospect of a "styles piece" more interesting. My boss said "What about a period Commedia Wagon?" and we were off.

What we've finished with isn't so much what I think we saw in our heads back then, and the "period wagon" well, as you can see, is something else entirely.

It is closer than it was along the way though. This project had an earlier incarnation where the trailer became an antique truck. After putting about a month or so into that solution we changed designers - and concepts, moving somewhat closer to the original intent.


In many ways we really haven't delivered this time. What the designer had in mind starts here:

But we were a little bit bigger, and then we decided it needed to be "over the road" legal, and we wind up a little heavier, and, and, and...

So we were unable to get the bike on the front to work (the trailer had so much momentum that you would turn the bike and the rig would just keep on going, folding the bike up under the unit as it went, oops). The last 10 days or so has been a never ending opera of getting the thing to steer. I think in the end it will be workable, but I am a little disappointed that we weren't able to properly deliver. Although for the first time I remembered today that when we planned the darn thing I had the project calendared with like an extra 6-8 weeks so we would be able to adapt and get the bugs out, only to lose it all to the previous concept. Maybe if we'd had the time we started with we would have delivered more on target. Or maybe it didn't matter. Still...

So if you're around town, we're taking our show on the road to Station Square, South Side Works, and to Heartwood Acres (oh, and we'll do some shows on campus too):

(click to enlarge)

Interestingly, just about 20 years ago I was involved in a Commedia project when I went to CMU. Our approach wasn't quite so elaborate:

I guess the program has changed just a little bit in a generation.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Good News Everyone..."

APR. 07, 2008 | News | SCI FI Weekly: "Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release the second of four new Futurama movies, The Beast With a Billion Backs, on DVD June 24.

The company described the movie this way: In their latest extraterrestrial exploit, Bender, Fry, Leela and the crew encounter a repulsive, planet-sized creature with billions of probing tentacles and find themselves involved in a disturbing--yet sensuous--interplanetary love story."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Got MLE Tix?


And not a moment too soon.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

CNN Could Not Be More Wrong

I just can't disagree more. The folks at CNN are building their election coverage around the idea that the economy, that our money is "Issue #1."

Do they watch the news?

I know the credit crunch, and the markets, and the housing bubble, and the price of gas are all important. I get it, those are the things that all hit us on an everyday basis. But they really aren't, can't right now be Issue #1. Actually I think it might really be nice if they could be, but we don't have that luxury.

The only thing that can be anywhere near the top of the page, the only thing that has any business being called anything like "Issue #1" is the war.

As long as we have men and women in the field in harms way, as long as people are being killed every day, as long as we are waging war in the world that is all that can be Issue #1. There can be nothing more important than the policy decisions and the operational readiness in support of our soldiers and our allies, and no, the way we support the troops, the way we support our allies is not to spend.

And really, if you want to be crass about it, the dollar impact of the war is far ans away more significant than any of the current economic issues. The waging of the war is causing us to borrow something on the order of $2 Billion dollars each and every day. If the bill came today, each family in the country would owe over $16,000. Your stimulus check isn't going to cover that. And those of us with student loans, car loans, or mortgages can tell you that when the bill does come it will be way, way more than that 16k.

You want to do a real economic story? Cover the war.

One of the most insidious things about our current world stand is that the government is spinning as hard as it can to make sure that if you don't have family in the war that you don't notice the war. It is irresponsible for the news media to collude with the administration to bury the story. CNN should be ashamed that they are calling anything but the war "Issue #1."

We all need to stay focused. We are all party to an immense undertaking both terrible and celebratory, it must be the most important thing on our minds and in this election.

This guy says it better.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Most Liberal?

Have you heard all the talking heads running on about how Barak Obama is "the most liberal senator in the senate?" It's really been pretty difficult to miss. Regardless of how you come down on that statement, would you have the same confidence in it if you knew that the same study group proffered the same criticism of John Kerry just prior to the last election calling Kerry the most liberal senator?

Well they did.

I have to say that in my own experience I was ready to believe, probably I did believe that Obama was being correctly labeled. However, when I heard that the same people had given the same label to Kerry my thoughts changes - maybe not all the way to ratfuckers, but certainly to shenanigans.

I got that bit listening to Counterspin. It's a great but hard to find show on NPR stations. You'd think they were a liberal source, but they are sorta like me: they hate everyone. Well, hate is probably too strong; but they are very much balanced in their observations.

They went out and got non-partisan data which says that Obama and Clinton are nearly ideologically identical and just barely to the left of center for the current group of Democratic Senators. It turns out that there are several senators further to the left than Obama. In order to come to the conclusion that he is the "most liberal" you have to cook the books. Probably if you dig deeper you will find their results are consistent with their methodology, but based on what I heard on the radio I believe you would also find the methodology was created to produce that result.

There were two other interesting tidbits on the show. Looking at McCain they discover that he almost defies an idealogical label, vacillating widely throughout the spectrum. I guess that could be interpreted in multiple ways. You could say that he has no convictions or you could say that he makes his decisions based on the facts at hand. How do you think the opposition will portray it?

The other thing they brought up was that the entire Democratic caucus is to the left of the entire Republican caucus, there is no idealogical overlap whatsoever. So we'd be best to adjust our filters such that when someone is called "a liberal republican" or "a conservative democrat" that it's really meaningless across the entire continuum - just within the group itself.

Find Counterspin and listen.

I Think Not