There Is No Cat

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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Things Nineteen through Twenty-six

With eight photos to go on the last day, I didn't think I would make it, but with an assist from my lovely wife, who suggested the shot for "relief", I have now completed the July 2004 26 Things photographic scavenger hunt. And Tracey, the originator of the hunt, hasn't even opened up the ability to post our links to the site yet. I think last time I went down to the last hour or two of the last day as well.

26 Things - popular

The eight new photos are: mechanical, organised, different, dummy, artificial, switch, relief, and my favorite among this group, popular (see above).

Posted at 10:31 PM
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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The immorality of poverty

I saw an amazing thing tonight watching the Democratic convention. I saw a candidate for national office talk forthrightly about poverty in a way I don't think I've ever seen. The last time a Democratic candidate for nationwide office talked about ending poverty may very well have been Lyndon Johnson in 1964 or Bobby Kennedy in 1968. Whenever it was, it was surely before I was aware of politics. I was so impressed that John Edwards talked about poverty and called it by name, rather than saying something like "the middle class and those who aspire to it". Even more impressive was the reason he gave for fighting to end poverty. We must end poverty because it's wrong. It's wrong for a country as rich as America to allow children to go to bed hungry. It's wrong for people to play by the rules and work hard and still not make a living wage. It's just wrong.

Those are family values I can stand behind.

It may not have been the finest speech John Edwards has given. He seemed more at ease when I saw him give his stump speech on C-SPAN in New Hampshire. But the fact that he talked about poverty and called it by name and invoked morality thrilled me.

Posted at 11:40 PM
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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The blogging of the convention

David Weinberger bemoans the lack of access to the really good parties at the Democratic convention for convention bloggers, the people who were officially credentialed by the Democratic party to cover the convention on their blogs. I'm sorry you can't get in to the good parties, David. That is really what I was hoping for from convention bloggers, the kind of stuff that doesn't show up on C-SPAN, reports from parties and the random interactions and such. I'm sorry to say I've been disappointed so far with the blogging of the convention overall. At any convention I've ever been to, the real action occurs in the hallways and at the parties. I've seen very little of this from the officially credentialed bloggers. Maybe the problem is that y'all are neither fish (delegates) nor fowl (reporters), and so you can't really give the perspective of either. Bloggers are most interesting when they can bring a unique perspective and specialized knowledge to the table. For the most part, the bloggers attending the convention just aren't connected enough (within the context of the convention) to be able to do this.

One of the few exceptions to this that I've seen is Dan Perkins' (a.k.a. comics artist Tom Tomorrow) account of his day hanging out with Michael Moore, a day that ended up in Jimmy Carter's skybox, where Carter's daughter Amy mentioned to him that she had just bought one of his books of Tom Tomorrow comics that very day.

But by and large, most of the coverage from Bloggers' Row seems like it could have been done at home by people watching C-SPAN. And sadly, it's just not very interesting. I think what's really needed isn't to credential bloggers to come to the conventions as amateur journalists, but for delegates and other people working on the convention to create blogs. That would have a better chance of being interesting. I don't know what it's like to attend a convention as a delegate, or as a volunteer. Sadly, after this experiment, I still don't know. And it seems to me that that's where the real value in blogging the conventions would be found.

Posted at 8:51 PM
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Monday, July 26, 2004

Fifteen through Eighteen

In between working on the house and putting the finishing touches on the site's new look, I managed to go out and find a few more Things for my entry in the 26 Things photographic scavenger hunt. Four more, to be precise: through, bottom, mug and underground. 18 down, 8 to go.

26 Things - mug

Posted at 12:13 AM
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Sunday, July 25, 2004

Secondary Modern

I suppose one reason I haven't been posting much lately is that I've been preoccupied with a new design for the site. I was getting pretty tired of the old one. I've been reading a lot of books about mid-century modern design, since that's what Laura and I like a lot and are planning to redecorate much of the house in over the next few years. So a couple of weeks ago I started playing around with fifties-ish shapes. This is the result. It came together pretty quickly. There are still some unresolved problems in Netscape 4.x, and given that much of the past week has been devoted to resolving them, I'm pretty sick of them and may never get around to fixing them. The site works in that ancient, decrepit browser, and it shows a reasonable facsimile of what other browsers show, but it's not identical, and there are some things that just don't work there. I'm not going to lose any more sleep over it.

I've tested the site in IE 4, 5, 5.5, and 6 for Windows; IE 5.1 for Mac OS 9 and 5.2 for Mac OS X; Mozilla 1.2.1 for Mac OS 9, and various other more advanced versions for Windows and Mac OS X; Mozilla Firefox 0.9 for Windows and OS X; Safari 1.2.2 for Mac OS X; and Opera 7.x for Windows, and it worked okay in all of them. There was a crashing bug in IE/Win for a while, but I think I've resolved that. Please let me know if you come across it.

One thing that's new is the use of alternate stylesheets. The stylesheets are basically identical, with the exception of the colors used. I've got another design that I'll probably incorporate as an alternate in the next few weeks using different graphics, but it needs work yet and I just wanted to get this out because I was sick of looking at the old design.

When you visit the site now for the first time, a random stylesheet is selected. If you choose to stick with the random default, the color may change every time you look at a page or at the site. If, however, you settle on one color, that selection is saved in a cookie and you'll be presented with that color on all future visits (at least until you change the color).

I first noticed the approach to changing stylesheets I'm using over at Shelley Powers' blog Burningbird. She had an exlempary explanation of how she implemented it using an approach originally detailed on A List Apart by Paul Sowden. I altered the styleswitcher.js script slightly to make it not kill Netscape 4.x. Basically, any time the script accessed document.getElementsByTagName, it wasn't testing to see if the getElementsByTagName function was supported. That was causing Netscape to choke. So I just surrounded those calls with if(document.getElementsByTagName) {} calls so that Netscape wouldn't attempt to execute those portions of the script. Very simple, and I was surprised that it wasn't in the original script. Feel free to download my version of the script.

Posted at 5:45 PM
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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Day and Night

Not that I want to turn this in to a photoblog, but it seems like I spend a lot of time taking photographs lately. Two more things: at night and out of reach.

26 Things - at night

Posted at 10:47 PM
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Sunday, July 18, 2004

Things ten through twelve

I'm finding this 26 Things harder than the previous one, I think. Or maybe I just don't remember how difficult the last one was, because I know I went up to the last hour of November on it. But I'm not as happy with the photos I'm getting this time, so I think it is harder. There are some that I like; I've even had the photo from liquid printed for framing so I can hang it once we start decorating the house. Three new ones today: stretch, button, and delicious.

26 Things - stretch

Posted at 10:27 PM
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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Thing number nine

It's not that easy being green....

A green flower in the foreground, with a blurry purple one and green leaves in the background

Posted at 10:32 PM
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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Eight things

I've been holding off on posting this, because I wasn't sure I was going to go through with it, but I think I have enough shots now that I'm sure I'm not turning back. Last November, I participated in the 26 Things photographic scavenger hunt and had a wonderful time. There's a new one going on, and I'm doing it again. The words are more difficult this time, but I've managed to find eight of them so far. The month's almost half over, so I'll have to pick up the pace a little....

I really like this shot of the water at the banks of the Navesink River. It almost looks posterized (like I removed colors), but I didn't; this is how it came out of the camera in the early morning light.

Brush and water

Posted at 8:06 AM
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Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Bird is The Word

One of my friends from work took half a day on Friday to protest the visit of pResident Bush to his area in Pennsylvania. He told me later that day about how the protesters were shunted away from where Dubya was appearing. So it was interesting to read this account of a protest that actually reached inside Dubya's zone, and what his response was. (via Medley)

These guys are toast. And they seem to understand that they're toast. Otherwise they wouldn't be so testy. They're really losing it, and it's only July.

Posted at 12:25 AM
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Saturday, July 10, 2004

Blurry photos

A few days ago, I stumbled across the Lensbaby. I wrote about it here, saying I was tempted. Well, I was tempted enough to buy one, and it came today (boy, that was quick). Here are the results from my first attempts to use this oddball lens.

Twin Lights lighthouse

Posted at 11:32 PM
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It's not the money, stupid

A few days ago, Dave Winer suggested that Joe Trippi, former campaign director for Howard Dean, needed to get a clue. This was based on Dave's reading of the introduction to Trippi's new book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, where Trippi talks about the importance of raising a whole lot of money to run for President. Dave says that Trippi thinks that you need to raise the money to run TV ads. Well, Trippi's book showed up on my doorstep yesterday, and I spent a good part of last night reading it. Trippi gets it, no question. Raising money is only partly about raising money. Sure, it's great to have and is useful for things like buying TV spots and renting cars and airplanes to move your candidate around, but that's not the most important thing. Money is a proxy for support. It's a metric.

After reading Trippi's entire book, I have to say, he's not a fan of TV. He sees quite clearly the corrosive effect it's had on the political process, and explains it in some detail. And he knows his stuff, because he spent some years in the business of creating TV spots. But his first love in politics, the experience that really defines him, is field work. That's where the rubber meets the road, talking to voters and trying to win them over, the most elemental form of politics. Trippi got his start in national politics organizing for Ted Kennedy in rural Iowa, and he never forgot the lessons he learned there. Trippi truly gets the impact the Internet can have on politics. He's been talking about it since 1984. It's not about the money.

The key passage in the book on this reads as follows:

If six hundred thirty-one wealthy individuals can raise more than a hundred million to elect George Bush -- it will only take two million Americans contributing less than a hundred dollars each to defeat him.

Call it Jefferson's Revenge.

Call it the $100 revolution. It doesn't matter what you call it, now is the time for it to happen.

No one can change America for you. You have to do it. If just two million of us give what we can in time and money, we can take back the White House and the Congress. A hundred bucks from two million Americans. That's all it will take to send George W. Bush packing. To return America to the principles that it was founded on.

And the great part is this: after you raise the $200 million, I don't even think you'd need to spend it. Just the act of raising two hundred million dollars from two million Americans over the Internet will be enough to turn the country on its head. The mobilization of that many Americans... the sheer engagement of that many people in politics again will signal to lobbyists that their days of writing policy are over, that the days of a few hundred billionaires and millionaires choosing the president are now done.

It's not about the money. The money's useful, sure, but the most useful thing is bringing all those people into the political process. By getting two million people to donate, you've just awakened two million activists. Those people are now invested in their candidate in a way that the people who don't give money (or time) aren't. They'll talk to their friends. They'll talk to their neighbors. Some of them may even run for office locally, something that's been happening with Dean supporters.

The kind of people who typically donate $1000 or $2000 to a presidential candidate often spread their money around to multiple candidates. That money is pocket change to them, and it doesn't really mean anything more than money. They give that much money because it's all they're allowed to give; they would happily give more. But someone who donates $25 or $50 or $100, they don't spread their money around as insurance (or manure). They're signalling that they've made a choice, that this person they're giving money to is the person they want to see as president. It's more than money; it's a committment. These people are invested in their candidate. They're giving more than just money and just a vote. So when Trippi talks about the importance of raising money, it's not really about the money. And Trippi knows that.

Dave, I think you should read the entire book. It's a quick read; it took me about four or five hours last night. I think you'd find that Trippi is a lot smarter, more engaged, and more of a bomb thrower than you think.

Posted at 10:04 AM
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Thursday, July 8, 2004

Lens me, baby

I've already got one of the best lenses available for my Canon Digital Rebel. Now I'm intrigued by one of the worst. The Lensbaby claims to bring Lomo-like randomness and weird focus to high end single lens reflex cameras. I love this quote from their home page: "You will get a unique new look, with gorgeous blurring and subtle, prismatic color distortions, all without software manipulations." Some times, blurring and distortion is what you need. PhotographyBLOG likes it. And Alain at Outback Photo has been using one with a Digital Rebel/300D and getting decent results. I'm really tempted.

Posted at 12:46 AM
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Friday, July 2, 2004

And don't bother with the Cybermen, either

I had no idea either that the BBC was going to be making a new series of Dr. Who, or that it didn't completely own the rights. Apparently, the estate of Terry Nation, the creator of the show, own the rights to the Daleks, and the BBC has been unable to reach an agreement with them on the use of the characters. So there will be no Daleks in the upcoming series. To which I say, about time. The Daleks were always a ridiculous, pathetic enemy. After all, how scary can it be to deal with a bunch of single-minded ("exterminate! Exterminate! EXTERMINATE!") robots when all you have to do to win is go upstairs? Jeez. Good riddance to the Daleks.

Posted at 11:27 AM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi. (E-mail address removed due to virus proliferation.)

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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