richmond virginia hates left turns

3 rights turns could equal a left, so what’s the point in turning left directly?  This was the thought running through the head of whoever designed traffic flow in this city.  If you have to come to Richmond on business, and drive the ultra powerful (sarcasm) and thoughtfully laid out (sarcasm again) Saturn Ion, prepare yourself for the delight of your life.  The concrete median that divides every major street in this city provides many opportunities for people that don’t like anything to do with the left, to go straight.  Not even at stoplights are you allowed to turn left.  Do you see a store you want to go in across the street?  It’s easy and convenient to drive 5 miles down the road where you can wait in line for 29 minutes for the opportunity to U-Turn (but you can’t turn left there because there is no street to left turn onto) in front of a speeding Semi.  Or maybe it’s fun and exciting to park across the street and Frogger your way across to your destination (maybe this is why the Vick brothers are so good at not getting tackled).  Richmond Virginia hates left turns (because they don’t go Right… Wing).

Door-Knocking for Darwin

I like this guy’s style. Is it any surprise that Mormon’s don’t like it when someone knocks on their door early on a Saturday morning to convert them to a religion they don’t believe in?

I hadn’t heard of John Safran until I saw this video linked by Sullivan. To my Australian family: he’s now on my Christmas list for import DVDs along with The Chaser’s War on Everything. 🙂

Another Scheme for Waking Up in the Morning

When I was in college, I tried various methods for waking up in the morning. I found that having the alarm clock next to the bed made it too easy to turn off and go back to sleep. Putting the clock on my desk at the foot of my bed still allowed an easy return to horizontal and, thus, slumber. During a couple of times that I didn’t have a roommate in the second bedroom of my apartment, I put the alarm clock in the bathroom so that I’d need to stand upright and navigate a couple of doorways to make the noise stop.

Even that location had some routine to it that, after a while, I’d probably have been able to do half-asleep with more practice. Technology has an answer: Clocky.

Clocky is an alarm clock that wheels itself away from you and your reach. Alledgedly, it will find different locations each morning. I can imagine after too much drinking and not enough sleep wanting to silence the noisy rodent with a firearm.

O Happy Day!

I think all of us were just too nervous to blog in the lead-up to the midterm elections, for fear of jinxing it. But yesterday’s results exceeded my expectations. I really did not believe we would win the Senate. I stayed up late last night watching the numbers trickle in, growing ever happier. (I’m still convinced that Darcy Burner might beat Dave Reichert–how is it that only 50% of the returns are in yet?)

I was almost giddy today. Imagine how that giddiness became sheer wonder when I learned that newly re-elected Senator Maria Cantwell was visiting my office for a meeting! She’s headed on a trip to China that our public affairs team help put together. We were all invited (not commanded, in case there were a few Repubs in the office) to greet her when she arrived. About 75 of us crowded into the lobby, surprising her with thunderous applause and whoops of joy. Though she was a bit shocked at the reception–and no doubt exhausted after the end of a grueling campaign–but she launched into some great impromptu remarks and the early news that Montana was considered a done deal. I was positioned perfectly to get one of the first handshakes when she decided she wanted to meet everyone who had greeted her so warmly.

I interned in the Senate and have been around a lot of politicians… I am, frankly, pretty jaded. But when Senator Cantwell asked me what I did, I had a hard time getting the words out. She radiates poise and intellect–no surprise–but she has an almost (Bill) Clinton-esque personal charm that surprised me. Shaking her hand was the perfect memory to seal the joy I felt as the great American pendulum paused weightless at its scary apogee and began to swing back toward sanity.



Four Minutes of Fame

If you go to WGBH Morning Stories and click Home Alone you’ll hear – hey, wait! That’s me! I start at about the six minute mark, but you should listen to the whole thing.

I am giddy with delight to find that I don’t sound like a complete idiot. It is odd to hear the edited version – we talked for probably half an hour and this is just a few minutes with big chunks cut out. Still, the sentiment of the conversation is very much intact and wait ’til you hear what Tony Kahn says to me. I really want to do it again.

Morning Stories is doing some fundraising; you might think about sending them a nickel or two.

The original story is here.

Oh, and while I’ve got your attention, it costs 63 cents to mail in that absentee ballot. Don’t forget!

More unbelievable hypocrisy

I just read this article in the NY Times and it made me audibly gasp.  I just can’t wrap my mind around how this president can say he supports life–more than the rest of us mind you–, and then do this.  The “this” I refer to is a new Medicaid policy where newborns born in this country (and thus, under our Constitution, citizens) are being made to apply for benefits by showing a birth certificate before receiving care.  For the past 22 years the policy (and the law) have been that an infant born to illigal immigrants in this country is automatically covered. 

The last time I went to the ER a lady came in to admitting in labor and they just sent her on up to maternity–no questions asked.  Even though I was terribly weak, I thought to myself “Thank God we are getting right on this.”  No matter how you feel about immigration, I would hope that simple kindness, simple humanity, would tell you that this was not the time for politics or for paperwork.  It is a baby coming into the world.  That trumps everything.  I don’t care if it is Eva Braun having a baby, a woman in labor deserves kindness. 

And once that baby, a U.S. citizen, is born, that baby deserves health care.  Where exactly does it get us to deny that baby care?  Hmm, let’s not treat a condition for the first three months and let’s see if it gets less expensive to treat–not likely.  These babies are citizens, so it will wind up that they are eligible for coverage, so why make it more expensive to treat them?  (Wait, I know, we are hoping that the parents will take them “back where they belong” instead of applying.  Or maybe we can get lucky and they will all die before the paperwork goes through.)

This is vindictive, cruel and short-sighted.  Not to mention directly contrary to federal law.  How can they keep getting away with this sort of thing while proclaiming their goodness, righteousness, and moral superiority?  How can Kerry’s misspeaking be bigger news than deliberate cruelty and mind-blowing hypocricy?  Why are Americans swallowing this?

This is the democracy the US wants to export to the Middle East?

We should be very, very worried about the elections on November 7. Not for fear that the Republicans will win — things seem to be looking good for the Democrats in the House at least — but that the election process will be such a shambles that the country could be thrown into disarray for weeks. Think Florida in 2000 and then multiply that all over the country.

With a scant few days to go, independent reviews of the election results for the recent midterms in just one Ohio county have revealed a plethora of problems caused by poorly designed electronic voter machines, lack of volunteer training, and plain shoddy processes. The discrepancies in the voter tallies reported in this Wired article mean that a challenge to the result is inevitable, whatever the outcome. There’s more analysis on Ars Technica, but the bottom line is this: it will be impossible to audit results of any election using these machines — machines that count over 80% of the vote in this country. You can trust the results of an election in a banana republic more than you can in this “bastion of democracy”.

By the way, there’s no suggestion of fraud in the Ohio case, but the potential clearly exists, from 29 machines simply disappearing, to the ability of any voter to vote multiple times simply by pressing a button on the back of the machine. But if there is attempted fraud, or even if someone just claims it (and can you name an election where the claim has not been made?) then we’re in big trouble. With no possibility of an audit, there’s no hope of resolution.

These problems aren’t confined to Ohio, either. See this list of the 10 Worst Places to Cast a Ballot for other problems besides voting machines, from restrictive voter registration laws to voter discouragement and extrapolate them all across the country. (This was written before a California Republican illegally sent letters to naturalized immigrants telling them it was illegal to vote.)

For more, set your TiVo for Hacking Democracy on HBO tonight. Diebold doesn’t want you to see it, so it must be good.

Dublin for the 2008 Bingham Cup

Competition to host the 2008 Bingham Cup (the bi-annual rugby event named for United 93 hero and gay rugger Mark Bingham) is fierce. The Dublin team has produced this professional and appealing proposal:

Although I played in the inaugural event in San Francisco 2002 and Jay and I both played in London in 2004, I’m afraid our days of competing at this level are past. But if Dublin wins, I’ll go to cheer on the Quake!