Monday, 1 November 2004
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- Let me be the first to announce it...
I told Jerry Pournelle a couple of months ago that I thought Bush
would win, if not a landslide, at least a very convincing victory. I
see no reason to change that view. When it comes to predicting
elections, no one has a very good crystal ball, but every indication I
see, without exception, tells me that Kerry will be defeated
ignominiously. Kerry is unlikely to win any of the states carried by
Bush in 2000, and will do well not to lose half a dozen states
carried by Gore in 2000.
Based on my own scientific analysis,
I expect Bush to win at least 300
electoral votes, and 325 is not out of the question. In fact, if you're
thinking about going out tomorrow to vote for Kerry, don't bother. It's
a waste of time.
All of that said, I wish both would lose. I'm voting for Badnarik.
Barbara had a bit of a scare yesterday. Her parents were on a bus tour
with her sister Frances and her brother-in-law Al, who was driving the
tour bus. Barbara's mother had been ill for several days. They'd tried
to convince her to fly home from Texas, which she refused to do.
Barbara's sister called when they were in Nashville, on the way home.
Her mother really wasn't doing well, and they tried to convince her to
go to a Nashville hospital, which she refused to do.
Holiday Tours, the tour bus company, is based in Randleman, NC, a half
hour or 45 minutes east of us. Rather than take Barbara's mother all
the way to Randleman and then have to bring her back to Winston-Salem,
Frances and Al decided to have Barbara meet the tour bus in
Winston-Salem, pick up her mom and dad there, and take them directly to
the hospital. They would call Barbara when they were an hour or so out
of Winston-Salem and let her know where to meet the bus.
Barbara figured they'd arrive in Winston-Salem sometime between 5:00
and 6:00, so we had a very early dinner. Sure enough, Frances called
about 4:15, just as we were sitting down to eat. We ate dinner quickly
and Barbara took off to meet the bus. She delivered her mom and dad to
Baptist Hospital around 5:00, and the waiting commenced. Barbara called
me around 9:00 to say that her mom was being X-rayed, but at that point
they didn't know what the problem was. They suspected pneumonia, which
is very bad for an older person, and particularly for Barbara's mom,
who's had lung problems for years. Barbara said she'd come home for the
night, but not to expect her early.
As it turned out, her mom had severe gastritis, so they treated and
released her. Barbara took her parents home and then came home,
arriving here I think around 1:00. She'd already called her supervisor
at work to tell her she'd be late or not coming in at all today. We
finally got to sleep in the wee small hours and slept in this morning.
Barbara went in late and plans to work just until her regular quitting
time. But the important thing is that Sankie is going to be okay.
I sent off the Preface, which was the final element, for the Pocket
Guide book yesterday evening while all that was going on. Now it's all
over but the shouting, which is to say the final edits. I've posted the
draft manuscript documents over on the Subscribers' Page. If you
download them and read them, I'd appreciate any comments, corrections,
etc. We're on a very short schedule. The final edits must be made by
this Thursday, at which time it goes to O'Reilly's layout and
I just did something I almost never do. I signed an NDA. Generally, I
refuse to do that because NDAs raise a whole host of issues. In this
case, though, what I signed the NDA for isn't central to what I do.
This one is for beta testing Xandros 3.0. I haven't seen it yet, but I
assume the Xandros 3.0 "beta" must be very close to a finished product,
because Xandros has said publicly that they plan to ship 3.0 next month.
If you've sent me email recently and haven't received a response,
please forgive me. I've been focused entirely on getting this pocket
guide book finished. My inbox looks like the Augean Stables. I just
checked, and there are nearly 500 messages in there, many of them not
yet read. These are "real" messages, mind you, not mailing list traffic
and so on. I'm going to spend some time today wading through it all and
trying to get caught up. I will read all of the messages, but my
responses are likely to be very short. Thanks for understanding.
- This bites. As I was wading through my inbox, the first
messages I read were those from subscribers, several of whom were renewing subscriptions. I fired up
Mozilla and hit the PayPal site to accept the payments, but for some
reason (presumably PayPal's site redesign), Mozilla had forgotten the
saved password. I keep a master password list in a password-protected
Excel spreadsheet. (And before anyone says anything about that, Excel's
password protection is pretty secure as long as you use a good
password; the Excel password crackers out there use brute force.)
So I double-clicked on the master password spreadsheet, which brought
up StarOffice. That promptly told me there was a file error because the
spreadsheet was password-protected. Shit. I thought StarOffice would
open password-protected MS Office files. Apparently not. I didn't have
a single machine in the house with MS Office installed, so there was
nothing for it but to install MS Office 2000 on my main Xandros desktop
box. After I did that, I was able to open the password-protected
spreadsheet in Excel, copy the data from it, paste it into a StarOffice
spreadsheet, and save that with password protection. Geez.
Tuesday, 2 November 2004
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Geez. I just drove over to vote and the line was outrageous. There were
cars parked for three blocks on both sides of both streets of the
corner where the polling place is located. I managed to find a parking
place and walked up toward the polling place to find a line out the
door, the full length of the building, along the full length of the
parking lot, all the way to the street. A polling official happened to
be walking out as I approached. I said, "Geez," and she remarked that
there was a two-hour wait. That's simply outrageous. Once again, Kathy
Chastain Cooper, who runs the Board of Elections, has screwed up.
I considered my options, and decided just to come home and try again
this afternoon about 2:00 p.m. I thought about making an announcement:
"Attention. All Kerry voters. Your polling place has changed. Please
proceed immediately to ... All Bush voters. Your polling place has also
changed. Please proceed immediately to ..."
Next time, I'm getting an absentee ballot for sure.
- From an article
Forsyth County precinct, the first voter in line said he got there
before dawn and soon was joined by several hundred more people."
I think that must be my precinct they're talking about. I'm going to
head over to the polling place again around 2:00 and see what the lines
are like. Frankly, I'm not sure why I bother. Nationwide, for the last
20 years, ballots marked for LIbertarian candidates have routinely been
"lost", "misplaced", or otherwise gone uncounted. As far as I know, no
one has even lost his job for these activities, let alone been jailed.
I've never had any confidence that votes are counted accurately, but
the widespread deployment of electronic voting machines with no
provision for providing an audit trail takes us to an entirely
different level. I can't believe the things are even legal, or that
anyone would even consider using voting machines based on Microsoft
Windows. Have they learned nothing from the plague of exploits over the
last several years? If electronic voting machines cannot be trusted,
how much less trustworthy is an electronic voting machine running
We need to return to the way things used to be done. Paper ballots.
Actually, we should return to the method used before the so-called
Australian Ballot became popular in the late 19th century. Prior to
that, one didn't fill in a government-provided ballot at the polling
place. One brought one's own ballot, previously filled out, and
deposited it in the ballot box. Completed ballots were distributed by
candidates, political parties, newspapers, and so on. Anyone who wanted
to split his vote created his own ballot, listing the candidates for
whom he wished to vote. We would be better off returning to that
method. No hanging chads. No problem doing recounts. No overvoting. No
problems at all.
- I just got back from voting. I arrived at 2:00 p.m. just as it
began to sprinkle, stood in line for a few minutes in a light rain,
voted, and left at 2:25 p.m. with it raining a bit more heavily. That's
not too bad a time, but longer than it should have been. The problem
wasn't the poll workers. They were doing an excellent job at moving
people through. The problem was that, incredibly, there were only eight
voting stations set up.
As it turned out, the long lines earlier today were deceptive. Turn-out
wasn't heavy at all. I was voter number 607. In other words, voters
were being processed at little more than one a minute. The bottleneck
was the voting stations, eight of which was totally insufficient even
during the slack period that I was there. Eyeballing it, I'd say they
needed at least 20 voting stations, along with a few more poll workers
to keep things flowing. Had they done that, there would have been at
most a short wait even during the heaviest periods.
Of course, in one sense, I'm happy they made voting more painful than
it needed to be. Anything possible should be done to discourage voting,
because it's the easily discouraged voters who shouldn't be voting in
the first place.
- Overheard earlier today: an aside from President Bush to the
head of the Secret Service. "Listen, I don't mean to be a sore loser,
but when it's done, if I'm dead, kill him."
Oh, wait. That was Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid. Or was it?
Wednesday, 3 November 2004
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Years Ago Today]
- Bush indeed won a convincing victory yesterday, receiving
about 3.5 million more votes than Kerry. Although many of the left-wing
so-called news sources are refusing to admit it, Bush won Ohio and its
20 electoral votes, which put him well over the top. By my count, Bush
probably has at least 286 electoral votes right now, and he should also
win Wisconsin, for a total of at least 296.
Now that the Republicans have control of the House and the Senate and
the possibility of appointing two or three Supreme Court justices over
the next four years, I think it should be a high priority for them to
concentrate on disenfranchising the fringe voters that make up the base
of the Democrats.
I would like to see them introduce means tests for voting, as well as
literacy tests and a poll tax. Also, anyone who is a net tax consumer
should be ineligible to vote. That includes government employees at any
level as well as anyone who's on the public dole, which often amounts
to the same thing. Allowing tax consumers to vote is a conflict of
interest. It doesn't include retired people who are on Social Security
or other government pensions. They paid for those.
Most of the problems this country faces result from the enfranchisement
of fringe voters who vote themselves bread and circuses, in the process
shifting the entire political spectrum far to the left. We no longer
have the opportunity to vote for right or centrist candidates, just
left or lefter, soft-core socialist like Bush or hard-core socialist
like Kerry. This must be stopped, and the Republicans are now in a
position to do so. Disenfranchising the poor and the stupid, who
invariably support the Democrats, would benefit all of us, ultimately
including the poor and the stupid.
That would leave the Democratic Party as an empty husk, and therein
lies an opportunity. Rather than continuing to attempt to establish
themselves as a viable third party, the Libertarians should move into
that husk, redefine it, and begin challenging the Republican Party on
an equal basis. We'd then have the refreshing prospect of Conservatives
challenging Libertarians, which is what politics should be about. The
Socialists and other left-wingers would be out in the cold, where they
4 November 2004
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- I'm writing and beta testing Xandros 3.0 on various systems.
Not much to say about the former. Not much I'm allowed to say about the
latter. It is public information, though, that Xandros intends to ship
Xandros 3.0 in December, so clearly this isn't going to be a long beta
5 November 2004
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An Air National Guard F-16 rolls in on a strafing run and cuts loose
with its Vulcan rotary cannon against a school building. Unfortunately,
this didn't happen in Fallujah. It happened in New Jersey. Fortunately,
only a janitor was present and no one was hurt. I guess the school
district should consider itself lucky that the pilot was practicing
strafing runs with inert projectiles instead of launching missiles.
I'm sure this accident has doomed the career of the pilot in question,
his commander, and probably his commander's commander. But it begs the
question, why was the ANG expending live ordnance within just a few
miles of a residential area? The intended target was about 3.5 miles
from the school building that was actually hit. Although 3.5 miles
sounds like a fair distance, in fact an F-16 covers that distance in
literally seconds. And, in the dark and from the 7,000 foot elevation
at which the strafing pass occurred, 3.5 miles isn't a great distance
at all. Even a tiny navigation error or a moment's inattention by the
pilot can result in ordnance striking something miles from its intended
So, although I'm sure the pilot will be blamed, the real question in my
mind is why a range so close to a residential area is still being used.
- One of my correspondents suggests, in jest I think, that the
recent initiation of the air war against New Jersey was the result of
its choosing Kerry in the recent election. Hmmm. Heute Neues Jersey.
Morgen die Welt. Nah, I don't think so. Although if Illinois, the New
England states, the upper Midwest, and the Left Coast suffer similar
attacks, I may be forced to reconsider.
6 November 2004
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- Last night was clear, and moonrise wasn't until 0020 this
morning, so Barbara and I headed up to Bullington to observe. We got
the scope out and set it up, but as it turned out we barely used it all
evening. Instead, we worked on our Deep
Sky Binocular lists. Barbara logged 15 new objects on her list, and
I logged 14 new for mine. I'd logged one more than Barbara when we
started the evening, so we're back to even, with perhaps 20 or 25
remaining on the 60-object list. Most of the objects on this list are
challenging, either difficult to locate or difficult to see, and often
Barbara is off to a Border Collie trial today, where she'll have a
table for Carolina Border Collie Rescue.
I'm working on incorporating final edits for the Pocket Guide book. Forsyth Astronomical
Society is doing a "sky tour" event up at Bullington tonight. I'm
not entirely sure what that means, but I believe FAS contributed the
event as a prize in a fundraising event at a local private school.
People bid on the prize, and the winning bidder basically gets a couple
hours of private instruction. Barbara and I may or may not go up
tonight, depending on how tired she is when she gets back from the BC
7 November 2004
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Thompson. All Rights Reserved.