Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Truth express....Indeed

The Real McCain has a fascinating collage of McCain contradicting himself time and time again. I am not suggesting that a person cannot change his mind but as you watch the video, the question is not one of changing opinion, it is that of saying what is convenient at that moment.

Friday, May 02, 2008

What's not to like about Hillary Clinton?

A few weeks ago, during the debate in Philadelphia George Stephanapoulous and Charles Gibson were having a field day muckraking and continuing to drag non-events on and on. Along the way, they fed Hillary Clinton with several chunks of yellow journalism and she ravenously lapped it up.

However, at one point, GS & CG gave Barack Obama a rare opening to attack Hillary Clinton. The topic was Hillary Clinton "misspeaking" about her trip to Bosnia time and time and time again. They asked Obama what he thought. After endless slanderous accusations against Obama up until then anyone would have excused Obama if he had keelhauled Hillary Clinton on this one. But he took a serious high road. Here's the relevant part of the exchange:

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Obama, your campaign has sent out a cascade of e-mails, just about every day, questioning Senator Clinton's credibility. And you yourself have said she hasn't been fully truthful about what she would do as president.
Do you believe that Senator Clinton has been fully truthful about her past?
SENATOR OBAMA: Well, look, I think that Senator Clinton has a strong record to run on. She wouldn't be here if she didn't. And you know, I haven't commented on the issue of Bosnia. You know, I --
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign has.
SENATOR OBAMA: Of course, but --
SENATOR OBAMA: Because we're asked about it.
But look, the fact of the matter is, is that both of us are working as hard as we can to make sure that we're delivering a message to the American people about what we would do as president.
Sometimes that message is going to be imperfectly delivered, because we are recorded every minute of every day. And I think Senator Clinton deserves, you know, the right to make some errors once in a while. I'm -- obviously, I make some as well.
I think what's important is to make sure that we don't get so obsessed with gaffes that we lose sight of the fact that this is a defining moment in our history. We are going to be tackling some of the biggest issues that any president has dealt with in the last 40 years.

And off he went talking about policy issues! Wow! What a difference. That, to me epitomizes his campaign.

I know that both candidates are well rehearsed before they ever get in front of the camera for the umpteenth debate. However, Hillary Clinton's performance -- yes, performance -- at the debates is so choreographed, it is revolting. Her head nodding when she is listening to the question (especially from viewers) and the concerned look is nothing short of affectation. Every-time I see her doing that I am reminded of the episode from Everybody Loves Raymond where Ray pretends concern when he and Debra go to a marriage counselor.

Then, there is the latest holier-than-thou sermon from Hillary Clinton about repealing the gas tax for 3 months. That's like the "stimulus package" all tax payers are being given by George Bush. What good does that do? I'll tell you what good it does --- it helps Hillary Clinton's campaign that is counting on myopic voters. Obama again, took the principled high-ground at the risk of losing serious political capital. He called this gas tax gimmick for what it is -- a political, opportunistic stunt.

Hey look! Its Hillary Rodham from Illinois, no she's from Arkansas y'all; she's from New York, Yo! Naah she is from Scranton PA...she's super Hillary! Don't you know she's gone to 80 countries? She has 35 years experience.

In the past 20+ years when she wasn't in the Governor's mansion, she was in the White House and then lived as a senator. Last year the Clintons filed taxes for $10,000,000! And she wants to tell me she is one of us!!! I hope her supporters have been paying attention to how the tune of her song sheet has changed over the months and just how much she values "us".

Pursuit of Happyness

I just watched this movie yesterday and boy, what a movie it was from various perspectives!

Firstly, it is a powerful story. A true story of perseverance against seemingly insurmountable odds. Yes, I realize it was a movie that was inspired by a true story; meaning that the screen-writer may have taken liberties. However, I have also read that it was pretty close to how it happened.

In this day and age where people feel entitled to everything, complaining at the first sign of trouble, trying to point the blame at the government, foreign workers, predatory banks -- in short, anything but the man in the mirror, Chris Gardner's attitude was inspirational. He could very easily have quit, gone wayward or taken any other easy route but persevered.

To top it off was Will Smith's performance. Bravo! What range! Over the years we have seen him in various larger-than-life personae. He was Fresh Prince the rapper, agent J the alien fighter of the MIB and the teflon fighter pilot Steve Miller -- again fighting aliens in Independence Day. What a switch for this movie. He was completely believable as the down-and-out, destitute Chris Gardner. His acting was very controlled and powerful. It's a shame he didn't win the Oscar.

In the off chance that you haven't seen the movie I won't go into specific details other than saying that you owe it to yourself to watch the movie. You will not be disappointed. However, you may go through some Kleenex.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

2008 Democratic Primaries

I am convinced that Hillary Clinton is where she is in the race for the White House primarily because of her last name. Were it not for that, she would not have the muscle or the staying power for the campaign. Why I don't think she would even have run. I can't recall a memorable thing she has accomplished as a senator that would have suggested that she has the national recognition that would propel her in a presidential campaign.

No, I can't point to a thing Obama has done in the senate either, however, he energizes me when I read what he has written, he inspires me when he speaks. Barack Obama stands on his own merit. I strongly dispute Geraldine Ferraro's claim that melanin has a lot to do with his appeal & staying power. Let me present Iowa as exhibit #1. Exactly how many blacks are there in the corn fields?

I believe that Obama's campaign resonates with the population for he offers hope. If there is anything fortuitous for him it is timing. His message of hope, his exhortations are uplifting to the current American psyche that has been battered in more ways than one. Such a message would probably not have had the same effect in say 1988 -- for a country that was giddy with 8 years of Ronald Reagan.

But now in 2008, the headlines are filled with news of recession, the falling dollar, collosal climate changes, housing crises and we haven't even talked about Iraq, Afghanistan and terrorism. The title of Obama's second book "Audacity of Hope" epitomizes his message. Surrounded by doom and gloom he is audacious enough to offer...hope. And that is the job of a leader. To inspire, to lead, to guide.

That is not to say that he is a starry-eyed optimist seeing the glass as half full. He is not shy to call a spade a spade. He tells auto workers that their jobs aren't coming back. He talks of retraining. He acknowledges we have problems. That's the other thing that is refreshing about him. The honesty. His consistency. Not a message tailored for the campaign.

Hope and rah-rah chants alone won't ameliorate the problems, calls to keep hope alive only go so far. It does however inspire people, it is a call to action that energizes the population. The president alone cannot do much. In fact in reality, the president cannot do much at all. It is the Congress that has the power. The president is the head cheer leader and the coach that motivates and drives the team. It is the team that has to do the work.

His book (Audacity of Hope) shows a learned, educated man; a man who understands the constitution of this country. Hillary Clinton says she has 35 years of experience; that means, as George Will put it, every year since she was 25 counts as relevant experience. Experience is a good barometer of a person's mettle. However, the key measurement with that barometer is whether that person accomplished something with that experience. Given a choice between a person with decades of experience with nothing to show for it and one who is light on experience but made decisive moves during that short tenure, I would always go for the latter.

The US faces enormous challenges some cyclical and others not. We are not going to hear solutions during a stump speech any more than you are going to hear a game plan from a coach on ESPN. The point is, does you candidate have a plan and is it to your liking? I can't say I see eye-to-eye with every Obama proposal. It is however, superior to the other candidates'.

Another major distinction between the Hillary Clinton campaign and that of Barack Obama is that Clinton goes to great lengths to say why not to vote for Obama. Obama on the other hand spends most of his time with his stump speech and less lambasting his opponent. He seems to get into the fray only to dispute a Clinton claim. I know the campaign is only going to get dirtier, I just hope that Obama stays on the high horse.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I smell burnt rubber

No, I am not talking about a thrill ride in a fancy sports car.

Far from it, it was a ride in a dentist's -- ahem, an endodontist's -- chair. I was there for a root-canal; something I had never had before. The thing that stayed with me the longest, alright second longest (more on that later), is the smell of burnt rubber. I still don't know what it was -- was it burning dental pulp as she was excavating away on my 6-year molar or was it accidental burning of the plastic/rubber film that they spread across the mouth to capture the debris. For much of the day I couldn't help but keep smelling it. Glad that that's cleared.

The procedure itself was quite painless allaying the dread with which I walked in. Never before had I felt the commonly held fear of the dental facilities. But Nov 7th was not a date I was looking forward to. After the always awkward shot of Novacaine took effect making me feel like I had 3 inch thick lips to match a just as thick a tongue, everything was smooth sailing. It was just like your garden variety cavity filling only lasting much longer -- about an hour. Even the fact that it was cold as a meat locker didn't seem to bother me -- maybe because I went prepared wearing 3 layers of clothes.

Now, why is it that doctor's facilities have the distinct feel of the polar caps. Why this dentist's office even had a sign that said "Please let us know if you are cold. We have blankets!". I was incredulous! You have blankets!! Why don't you just shut down the freaking cryopump! Now, if I had a dentists facility -- or for that matter any kind of medical office I would make it comfortably warm. I would the sound of babbling brooks. Birds chirping. Whatever it takes to make the patient feel happy to to be infirm! I would bake some muffins, make it smell like a bakery -- for cryin' out loud!

Getting back to the subject of the dredging of my mouth; after the fifth time reiminder to open my mouth wide, I was ever so greatful when they gave a bite guard. It kept my mouth in the unnaturally wide open position. The effects of which are my most lasting memory of the procedure. Two days later, my jaw still complains to open wider than to chew on a slice of pizza!

I have always marveled at my general dentist's ability to babble away merrily with his assistant while working on my teeth. It was his way of distracting the patient from the ongoing gore (if I could just tune out the drill). The endodontist took this banter to another level. She kicks things off telling her assistant "let's get the show on the road". Then she goes headlong into a explanation of a recipe for cooking chicken. She goes into the preparation of the chicken, lists the ingredients of the dish and the cooking instructions. All the while she has two hands in my mouth looking through a microscope kind of device. I wanted to stop her and say "Can you please focus on the patient at hand, please?!". But how could I? I had hands in my mouth and a tongue that was as thick as my pillow!

Every once in a while she would break off her story and ask "How are you doing there" or "You ok?". I was so engrossed on the story de moment -- it went from cooking chicken to sibling rivalries to kid's jobs -- that it took a second or two to realize that she was talking to me! I'd respond with the A-OK, thumb to forefinger or thumbs up indication that I was peachy as can be -- under ths circumstances.

After a while of listening to their banter I found myself getting distracted. Maybe it was my inability to participate in the conversation, I couldn't roll over to the side to break the monotony let alone possibly boff off and take a walk. It was then I suddenly noticed something. The doctor was peering through a microscope-like device while working on my teeth. I noticed that if I focussed just so, I could see a reflection of my teeth in the microscope's lens -- albeit inverted and shrunk. Just as quickly I wanted to look away -- you see gore and I don't go well together. But how could I look away. Recall my aforementioned captive state.

Now, the whole tooth saga could not have come at a more importune time. I had been training for the last 4 months to run the Raleigh marathon on Nov 4. However, in the days leading up to the marathon -- as I was awaiting an opening at the endodontist's I was popping Naproxen and Vicondin like any good druggie would. When I wasn't holding my jaw in agony waiting for the medication to kick in, I was in a drug addled stupor. Running even one mile was out of question.

Also inconvenient about this episode was the fact that I had been harping on my 7-year old to brush for longer than 15 seconds. My writhing in agony was putting a serious kibosh on being a role model. Telling her that daddy doesn't have filthy teeth and that the problem was owing to my grinding my teeth wasn't passing muster.

Nevertheless, all that is behind me now. As soon as I can open wide once more, I need to exchange pleasantries with the dentist again -- this time to put a crown on this tooth. And that, I am told, is a royal pain!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mac IM woes

Back in my PC days, I had been using a combination of Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger to see and talk to my parents. This meant that come chat time every weekend there was a fair amount of fumbling with the microphone and webcam. This was one of my things I was looking forward to avoiding with my shiny new iMac. After all it has a built in camera and microphone.

However, I have been sorely disappointed -- for no fault of Apple.

Yahoo messenger (v3.0 beta 1) for the Mac supposedly supports video and chat. However, I have had no luck getting it to play nice with the messenger (on Windows) being used by my parents. While they can see my video I see nothing from their side.

After a bit of Googling, I found that a lot of dissatisfied users have switched to Fire or Adium. While Fire has been put out (hehe), Adium clearly states that it doesn't support voice or video and -- for the foreseeable future -- won't do so. In fact, they refer the reader to gaim-vv.

Now gaim-vv seems pretty dead since the last update was made in Oct 2005. The last note there said that they are going to merge back to the parent gaim project. So I tried their web site which and found that they are now calling themselves Pidgin. Reading about it brought me back a full circle as they redirect Mac users to...Adium :-(.

However there seems some hope albeit requiring a bit of manual work. I need to try it out.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Supplies for school -- What a racket!

This is a subject that rankles me every time we have to deal with it. I am talking about bringing stationery supplies for "your child" (I'll explain the quotes in a bit).

Here is the verbatim list for 2nd graders at my daughter's school. This is representative of what it is for all other grades too:

3 100 ct black marble composition books
1 16 ct. Crayola crayons
2 Pocket folders with brads (red)
1 5" blunt scissors
4 2 each pocket only folders (blue and yellow)
1 100 ct wide rule notebook
36 #2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencils
24 Ziploc brand quartz bag (A-L)

OK, this is too much, I can't go further. Why do they need three composition books? That is in addition to 100 pages of wide rule notebook. In first grade we were asked to bring in two composition books and by the end of the year they had gone through less than half of one. What happened to to the other one?

This brings me my earlier statement : stationery supplies for "your child".

I believe that everyone is asked to bring in supplies to supplement for those you are unable to. I am sorry, why am subsidizing everyone else's kids' education? And the gall to demand that I bring Crayola crayons and Ziploc bags only to be pawned off to other kids. Why should I bring in black composition books. What's wrong with blue? Do you really think each kid is going to go through 36 pencils in 180 days?!!

If schools paid more attention to what they teach and how well the kids are learning and less on the supplies our kids would be much better off.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Access a PC from a Mac

As I had recently written, I am a recent Mac emigre having been a long-time PC user. One of my main concerns was being able to access the data from my PC. Sure I had the fallback option of burning things to a CD and then copying it off of the CD. However, it would be nice to directly be able to access the files; 'cos you know there is going to be that one file (or more) that you forgot to burn onto the CD and you'd have to repeat that process.

I had read assurances of the ease of migrating. Apple spends a lot of ink (and resources at their stores) helping folks with the migration. However, I have had problems with my home network -- even to get my Windows PC and Windows laptop to play nice so I was understandably nervous.

Sure enough, my first few attempts to get the iMac to see my PC were futile. Tried Go > Network, Go > Connect to Server... to no avail. Finally a bit of Googling gave me the hint I needed. In Windows-land they keep saying how only machines in the "same workgroup" can see each other. All fine and dandy. But how does one set the workgroup in Mac-land? Here's how (tip of hat to jlgnyc11):

Finder > Applications > Utilities > Directory Access > Services (tab?) > SMB/CIFS. Then, press "Configure..." and provide the same workgroup name as you have set for your PC. And there it was, my PC in all its glory!

There was still some quirkiness with accessing things in certain folders in my PC (those under my %userprofile%). On my PC I had to drag 'n drop the folders I wanted to share to c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents). Oh! Well.

I'm a Mac

My iMac is about a week old and I'm loving it! After ogling one for years the process of getting one was quite sudden and fairly unexpected.

It was caused by the collusion of several events: First was the over 90 minutes of video I had amassed during my vacation. I needed some way to "manage" it. By that I needed to be able to edit it, splice it and do all things you always do with home videos. I did realize that I needed to get a Firewire card for my long-in-the-tooth PC . However, it looked like I would need to purchase (alright "need" is too strong, want is probably right) some video editing software. Also, the aforementioned long-in-the-tooth computer....well, it was going to be a sloth.

Coupled with all that, even the wife suggested "why don't you just get a Mac"? Well then, who am I to argue?!

My initial desire was to get a Mac mini. The reasoning was went along the usual lines -- well, I have a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse, and I feel guilty of spending too much on a computer and the mini looks compact and all. Well, long story short, turns out I would have needed to soup up the mini. That coupled with the fact that I would be needing a monitor after all(is it freaky or what that my 14-year old monitor died on the very day I was going to go to the local Apple store to check out the computers) resulted in making the iMac an attractive proposition.

I had heard of Apple refurbished products being of good quality backed by the same warranty as a brand new product. Colleagues who had purchased refurbs from Apple also egged me on. So I decided to get a refurbished iMac. And I kid you not when I say that I cannot find a scratch/dent/blemish on the product! The baby looks brand spanking new! At 85% of the price.