Why Howard Laughed
Question: Will anyone read an architecture / cycling / global warming / peak oil / housing bubble bursting blog? Answer: Don't care, therapy is therapy. Looks like it's gonna be a long hard slog, uphill, into the gale, with rusty gears and a bad attitude.
Friday, October 31, 2008
What Does a Crowd of a Million Look Like?
Officials and law enforcement authorities are preparing for a crowd to celebrate Barack Obama's historic election night victory in Chicago's Grant Park of upwards of a million people.
Is this even possible?
What is the largest crowd ever in history?
I've seen photos of huge masses of pilgrims flocking to Mecca (I'm very much aware that this isn't the best example), and I know that cricket matches in India and Pakistan can have massive crowds of a quarter-million fans, plus I saw 50,000 people crammed into Colorado State University's Oval to see and hear Obama... in a city of about 120,000. They were only expecting maybe 20,000.
But 1,000,000 people? Seriously?
Who has a Guinness Book of World Records? I'm too lazy to Google it.
Update: Okay, I caved. It's 70 million people. Last year. In India.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A New Generation -- We
My wife and I were born at the very tail-end... no, the butt-end of the Baby Boomer Generation. As such, we didn't get to partake in the spoils, we joined the work force when it was already saturated, we had mediocre and/or highly partisan politicians to choose from, and we participated in very little of the decision-making that led to the blaming of our generation for much of contemporary society's ills. But we did get to watch with great consternation.
Now, there's another demographically-defined generation that is beginning to make itself known, the largest generation of Americans -- those born between 1978 and 2000 -- and it will be led by President Obama... Generation We.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Syncronized Presidential Debating
Wow. Just... wow. I'm speechless at how good this is. Check it out.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The Day that Barack Obama Visited Fort Collins
We awoke much too early Saturday morning -- at 9 a.m. We woke up so early to go see Barack Obama, who was speaking in Colorado even though Colorado is a Red State.
Our son, Gogan, a high school senior and not quite old enough to vote yet, wanted to come along with us.
We told him we would be riding our bikes to the campus of Colorado State University where The Great Man would be speaking, and if Gogan wanted to come with us, he would have to ride a bike as well. This was a test. Gogan passed it with flying colors. So off we rode, with Gogan riding my 64 cm Fuji Touring bike. He's a tall boy.
And just so you know, it was 11 a.m. and Gogan never wakes up on weekends until at least noon.
When we got to the CSU campus at 11:15 -- yeah, four miles takes a long time -- we parked the bikes and went looking for the end of a very looooong line. A mile later, we found it.
Barack Obama wouldn't be speaking until 3:30 p.m., so we were in for a looooong wait. While we waited, Obama volunteers walked down the line telling us that we had to fill out information cards so we could get the backs of our hands marked with 'Xs' so we could be admitted. "You can't get in without the X on your hand." I asked why it wasn't an 'O'. The volunteers thought about it some, smiled, then announced that they would be marking hands with 'Os' instead.
The line finally began to move, and worms began to move in. Meaning, those of us who had waited three hours for the line to move learned how stupid we were as others who showed up at 2 p.m. just jumped into line ahead of us. Never fear, we thought, they won't have 'Xs' or 'Os' on their hands, so they won't be able to get in.
Forward we moved to the security gates, where Federal screeners were Federally screening us using Federal screening techniques such as setting our cameras and cell phones aside (turned on so they could be verified as REAL cameras and cell phones) while we walked through metal detectors. One friend of ours had his Bowie knife confiscated. I'll bet he learned a thing or two about Federal screening techniques.
Passing the screening, we walked into the promised land -- our personal patch of grass barely 60 yards away from the lectern! It was 3:00 and Senator Obama was surely on the way!
About this time, we realized that nobody once checked to make sure we had Xs on our hands. The whole X thing was a ruse to get us to fill out the information cards -- it was a name/address/email harvesting scheme. Sad.
Looking back, the Federal screeners were no longer letting anyone through even though there was still plenty of space behind us. After about seven or eight minutes, we looked back again and people were running and scrambling into a fenced-in grassy area well behind us without being Federally screened. Apparently, as far as we could tell, the Federal screeners decided that they were incapable of screening another 30,000 people within 20 minutes before the Senator spoke. So they just let them into an overflow area far from the lectern. From this distance, they apparently weren't a threat, no matter how many Bowie knives they had in their possession.
People began pouring in by the thousands, but they were still very far back. We were very close. Later, we heard that 50,000 people were in attendance.
Then Senator Obama came out and spoke... for 35 minutes.
He was brilliant and heartfelt and wonderful and inspiring and almost--but not quite--spontaneous and impromptu, for he was still giving his standard stump speech using Tele-prompt-er technology, though with slight variations for local flavor.
For example, at one point, he referenced Republicans' campaign rhetoric about "real America", which implied that other areas were "fake America", and this gave Obama the opportunity to riff on his greatest and most famous hits from his 2004 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address and his acceptance speech of the 2008 DNC:
As you could see and hear, we weren't terribly close. But the sound was terrific, and the crowd was great. It's amazing how much better the vibes and kindness of a crowd can be when they are all Democrats.
If we'd only gotten there another hour earlier. If we'd only awakened at 8 a.m. instead!
Oh yeah, and with a Democratic Governor, two Democratic Senators, most of our CongressCritters now Democrats, a Democratically-controlled state House and Senate, and now with Colorado's electoral college votes going to the Great Senator from Illinois, I'm pretty sure Colorado ain't no Red State anymore!
Oh Beautiful Day!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Delegitimizing the Election
The Republican Party is about to go into the wilderness. But don't worry for them. They like it there, because they get to purge the infidels, the moderates, the non-believers, the temperate, and the reasonable.
The Republican Party feeds on fear and a sense of victimization and outrage and martyrdom. Which is why ACORN has become such a boogieman and important symbol to them. Millions of American citizens -- often minorities, the poor, the voiceless -- are being enfranchised into the full rights of American citizenship by registering to vote. And this is a tremendous threat to the Republican Party, which depends on minimal turn-outs on election days.
Here's a very important video that presents the facts about ACORN, while touching on the Republican Party's goals -- though those facts will surely be dismissed as opinion, rhetoric, rant, and cant:
Barack Obama will get no honeymoon, no 100 days. His hands will be tied by the right-wing and by the media who buy into the claims that there's no money left. They will say in unison that Obama must govern from a point of fiscal austerity, that the deficit has only NOW become most important (and only by coincidence, now that Democrats are governing.)
But more than this, he will be attacked, smeared, slandered, and delegitimized as President of these United States, same as the Republican Party did with President Clinton. And the anger and outrage will start with the "evils" of ACORN.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Honesty and Dependability a Plus
Yes, this is a real ad that appears on Craigslist:
IT Support Position - 6 Openings:Now this can't really be serious, can it? Certainly this county has 6 people on staff... oh wait, make that 10 people (as the header doesn't match the text)... who can schlep computer components around and set them up the day before the election, right? RIGHT?!!!
We need 10 people on Monday, November 03 to go out and setup all the Voting Centers. The position will start about 6am and go to about 5pm. You will be responsible for setting up all the components for a PC and need to be able to take instruction. You need to know how all aspects of a PC and how to hook up peripherals. Must have a clean MVR. They need to be agreeable, take direction well. Must be able to lift 40lbs (the position is all manual). THIS POSITION IS JUST FOR ONE DAY! Pay is $13.00 to $15.00. If you are interested please send your resume!
Let's Play "Mind-Boggling Republican Trivia"!
This amazing question/observation comes to you via Steve Benen at Washington Monthly who got it via Mark Halperin at Time, and it goes like this...
When was the last time the Republicans won a presidential election without a Nixon or a Bush on the ticket?
Think about it first...
1928 with the Republican ticket of Hoover and Curtis!
You may now let your head explode.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Lance is Back Because He Can't Win Them All
This is NOT a photo of Lance Armstrong, by the way. This is retired pro mountain biker Dave Wiens -- the reigning champion of the Leadville 100 mile off-road race. This year he went head to head with retired pro road cyclist Lance Armstrong. The New York Times published a great story about it a couple days ago. Read it here.
Also, a stunningly good video about Dave Wiens and his 2008 Leadville 100 victory over Lance Armstrong can be found here.
The wheels of Howard's little mind are now turning...
Friday, October 17, 2008
Debate III in 60 Seconds
Jobs, "spread the wealth around", hatchet, scalpel, Joe the Plumber, "go vote now".
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
McCain Did It Again!
He mentioned the $3 million projector! How out-of-touch can one Presidential candidate be?!
Joe the Plumber
I love the thought that right-wingers all across the country are searching this out now, thanks to John McCain, and seeing the brilliance and, frankly, the strength of character and confidence displayed here by Barack Obama.
'Joe the Plumber' wanted to hammer on Obama, but came away with a certain respect, though perhaps not agreement.
Remember, the guy doesn't own the company yet. He was just saying that he was about to buy it, but would pay more taxes under Obama if his taxable income was over $250K. Obama said the taxable rate would increase from 36% to 39% -- the rate it was under Clinton -- but only for any income amounts above $250K.
By the way... 3% more tax on $30K above $250K is $900.
If you ask me, for a guy making $280K to be whining about $900 in extra taxes is obscene (and unpatriotic, as Biden says). I'm not saying 'Joe the Plumber' was whining, and he has every right to be concerned. But Obama was most impressive to take the time to explain it to Joe (the Plumber).
The whining will come from those right-wingers who don't respect Obama's intelligence, don't share his sense of fairness, and can't understand why so many other Americans DO, particularly on November 4th.
Even when McCain made Joe the Plumber his centerpiece of Debate III, he still lost!
Update: According to many sources, including the Toledo Blade newspaper, Joe the Plumber, aka Joe Wurzelbacker of Holland, Ohio, is not only NOT a licensed plumber (you can't represent yourself as a plumber, just as you can't an architect or a doctor, without the license), he's NOT undecided as portrayed by the press (a registered Republican), and the company that he works for and 'says' he wants to buy makes LESS THAN $250K a year (the cost of a company that produces over $250K in taxable income a year would be well over a million to purchase, by the way). So he's just plain Republican Joe who would benefit more under an Obama administration... like the other 95% of us. Go figure.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
You Have My Liver Spots... For Shame!
Karl Rove is famous for advising politicians to attack their opponent's strengths. But apparently, the rule now is to project your own weaknesses onto your opponent... and then attack those with gusto (and some hypocrisy).
From Garrison Keillor via Salon.com a few months ago...
And it's an amazing country where an Arizona multimillionaire can attack a Chicago South Sider as an elitist and hope to make it stick. The Chicagoan was brought up by a single mom who had big ambitions for him, and he got scholarshipped into Harvard Law and was made president of the law review, all of it on his own hook, whereas the Arizonan is the son of an admiral and was ushered into Annapolis though an indifferent student, much like the Current Occupant, both of them men who are very lucky that their fathers were born before they were. The Chicagoan, who grew up without a father, wrote a book on his own, using a computer. The Arizonan hired people to write his for him. But because the Chicagoan can say what he thinks and make sense and the Arizonan cannot do that for more than 30 seconds at a time, the old guy is hoping to portray the skinny guy as arrogant.
Good luck with that, sir.
Meanwhile, the casual revelation last month that Mr. McCain has never figured out how to use a computer and has never sent e-mail or Googled is rather startling. It's like admitting that you've never clipped your own toenails or that you didn't know that toothpaste comes out of a tube because your valet always did that for you. It's like being amazed at the sight of a supermarket scanner. What world does Mr. McCain live in? Where does he keep his sense of curiosity? My 94-year-old mother has sent e-mail. Does somebody plan to show him how it's done and will they explain to him what "LOL" means?
My parents and my wife's parents are all quite computer savvy, thank you very much.
And thank you, Mr. Keillor, for that breath of fresh perspective.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
A Collision of Fear and Hope
Eight years ago, during a bitter and divisive fight for the White House, I saw the viciousness of a small, vocal, and potentially violent cadre of extreme right-wing brownshirts emerge, gloating in victory.
My dark confession: I believe it's likely that if Al Gore had somehow come away with the 2000 electoral victory, he would have been assassinated by a lone gunman, urged on by his brownshirt brethren... even before Gore had the chance to prevent 9-11 -- which I am also quite confident he would have prevented.
The world went off its tracks in 2000 and the Republican Party -- not bin Laden nor al Qaeda -- destroyed America over the following eight years.
But then in 2004, I was astonished to watch as a total stranger gave the best political speech I'd ever seen -- even better than Cuomo's 1984 DNC keynote address or Clinton's 1999 State of the Union address -- during the keynote address of the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
Everyone who cared about such things had the same thought as I: This man could become President of the United States. Followed by the next thought as an addendum to the first... he could be the first black man to become the President of the United States!
Since then, I've watched with muted excitement and amazement as Barack Obama overcame all doubts and doubters -- doubters like my own father, who said it was too early, that Obama needed a few more years in the U.S. Senate. His point? We all know the history of Democratic candidates for President, right? They only get one bite at the apple.
But relative newby that he is, Barack Obama still went for it... and became the Democratic nominee, derailing the well-deserving Clinton-Family Express, which was eager to one-up the Bush-Family Express. And in the process, Obama replaced the best political speech ever with another in Denver, even better.
During the entire Democratic Primary season, I pulled for him. But I resisted becoming too emotionally invested. Why? Because I have been deathly afraid... Remember what I said about Al Gore?
Now I am all in.
Here is a remarkable and courageous essay by New York Times columnist Frank Rich that touches all kinds of nerves with me. But also helps explain why I once was nervous and resistant to whole-heartedly joining Obama's history-making movement. Please read it. Especially if your name is John McCain.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Such Big Days Looming Before Us and Nobody Knows
Friday, October 10th and Monday, October 13th will be interesting days. Friday is the day of the Lehman Brother credit default swap auction, when we all find out whether the American economy gets to live or die. At best, tens of billions of dollars of stock will be liquidated to pay off all the unregulated insurance policies bought by investors hedging their bets that Lehman wouldn't go belly up. Of course, it did, so now it's time to pay the piper. At worse, Monday could be a Very Bad Day on the Dow Jones, and it would be a Very Bad Day to be a member of the Investor Class.
By the way, here's a link to a little primer from 60 Minutes on what a credit default swap (CDS) is... and why they are responsible for the worst of our economic travails.
When Washington Mutual has their own CDS auction 10 days later, more stuff will hit the fan. Hopefully, there will still be stuff available.
According to published reports, the Treasury is now considering the possibility of nationalizing portions of the American banking industry.
My advice: Have some cash on hand. If nothing becomes of all this, put it back in the bank.
Update: As you can see by the chart posted above, hardly two hours after posting this, the Dow Jones took a nose dive to finish the day on Thursday, Oct. 9th. Looks like the great liquidation has begun in anticipation of major cash needs to pay off debts on Friday... Also, GMAC is deep into the CDS quick-sand.
Another Update: When all the books were opened up, Lehman Bros. was still in the black... by about $0.09 on the dollar, and all the credit default swaps betting on Lehman's solvency were covered (to the tune of $400 billion or so) without any more banks going belly up. Happy days are [soon] here again?
$3 Million for an Overhead Projector? Is Government Insane?
John Sidney McCain is such an idiot...
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Gonna get an ass full of pipe wrench
Monday, October 06, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Dangerous Safe is Bicycling, Really?
Take this test and find out!
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
We're Days Away
In case you missed it, that website is DeclareYourself.com
Childhood Innocence is a Wonderful Thing. Don't Ruin It.
I've told the story here before of the amazing compliments I've received while riding my bike.
There have been other compliments received that happened away from my bike, but I still believe they came as a result of the physical "upgrades" due to bicycling 25,500 miles in the past three years (as of October 12th -- an anniversary I won't ever forget).
Last week, my youngest son was at a tennis tournament, and a mother of one of my son's teammates saw me cheering my son and asked me if I was his brother. Now granted, something like that says as much about her as it does about me. But I choose to focus on the "me" part.
But what happened today was a horse of a different color. Not so much of a compliment, I'm pretty sure.
I was in the midst of a 24-mile time trial ride -- one where I pretty much peg my exertion level right at the edge of sustainable (AKA the "lactic threshold") and keep it there for over an hour. The only stop I made during this entire time trial was at an intersection and red light. Stopped next to me was a little old white beater car with a woman driving, a man in the passenger seat, and three young boys in the back seat. I stood there waiting for the light to change and noticed the three boys looking at me. Wide-eyed curiosity. I smiled at them and tried to look tough.
When the light turned green, I took off, standing on my pedals and accelerating quickly to 23 mph. As the car passed me, the man yelled out the passenger window, "Faggot!"
I was completely dumbfounded. It was the first time ever that I had been insulted or verbally accosted on my bike in Fort Collins. Now Loveland to the south and Laramie, Wyoming to the north are different stories. But never Fort Collins.
Needless to say, the pace of my time trial became a bit faster and more furious.
For the ignorant redneck with the three pitiable boys in his care, all I can offer are two fabulous divas: Streisand and Garland...