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:: Tuesday, September 30 2008 ::

Apparently the (most likely underpowered and understaffed) website of the house of representatives has been overwhelmed by people trying to email their representatives, to the point that the number of emails that can be sent per hour has been capped. There's something ironic here, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
:: David (16:30 in Arkansas, 23:30 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, September 29 2008 ::

Kerblooey! In addition to the rejected bailout, today also hosted the largest single day drop of the US stock market ever. As CNN notes, "$1.2 trillion in market value is gone after the House rejects the $700 billion bank bailout plan." You win some, you lose some. Things are also getting interesting in Europe, prompting this editorial in Le Monde:

Comparant l'action des autorités américaines et européennes vis-à vis de la crise financière, Nicolas Sarkozy s'était interrogé, jeudi 25 septembre, à Toulon : "Si ce qui s'est passé aux Etats-Unis s'était passé en Europe, avec quelle rapidité, avec quelle force, avec quelle détermination l'Europe aurait-elle fait face à la crise ?" Moins de trois jours plus tard, la chute de la banque Fortis allait apporter un premier élément de réponse : en la matière, l'Europe bricole.Comparing action by the U.S. and European authorities vis-à-vis the financial crisis, Nicolas Sarkozy was interviewed Thursday 25 September in Toulon: "If what happened in the United States happened in Europe , How fast, how strong, and with what determination would Europe have faced the crisis?" Less than three days later, the fall of Fortis Bank would provide the first part of the answer: in the main, Europe tinkers.
Of course, to say the US has taken action is not precisely accurate. More accurately, the US has talked about taking action.
:: David (18:18 in Arkansas, 1:18 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

I've posted the pictures from Petit Jean State Park. I've used a new tool to make the web page - Picasa has a new version (3.0) in beta, so I'm trying that. Hopefully I'll be able to edit the template to make it work better with the rest of my website, which would be fun. I'm trying to get all the new web pages to use the same color and layout scheme, but I've not yet perfected what that scheme will be.
:: David (11:16 in Arkansas, 18:16 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, September 28 2008 ::

We went hiking in Petit Jean (that's the word 'petty' and 'jean' like trousers - the French pronunciation will get you nowhere) state park today, which is about an hour from the house and has lots of hiking trails. We hiked down to the bottom of Cedar Falls, where I shot some video on my phone (hence the quality), and took lots of pics, which I will hopefully post before too long. Lots of fun.
:: David (0:19 in Arkansas, 7:19 in Paris) - Comment

Watched the debate. Drank beer. Cheered whenever a particular voting block was targeted by either politician. Overall it was a wash, I thought - McCain had some odd moments, Obama rarely pulled his massive charisma out, and in some cases neither one even bothered to answer the question. The campaigns would both like me to believe otherwise. Oh well.
:: David (0:12 in Arkansas, 7:12 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Friday, September 26 2008 ::

Well, the good news is, we got two whole squirrels out of the attic. The bad news is, they were babies. Adolescents, actually. The guy picking them up actually asked me if I had a BB gun, because it was pretty clear she was planning to eat his face if he came up the ladder. She finally went away, and while I stood watch he climbed the ladder and got the cage with these two. Now we wait for her to come back and get trapped herself. Hopefully soon.
:: David (15:28 in Arkansas, 22:28 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

I don't know how I missed this, but apparently Paris has lifted the rules restricting new buildings to 37m, and the first one to be approved is a giant triangle. There's a big article in Le Monde about it, where he notes that he wants it to be one meter taller than the Tour Montparnasse (which would be that tall black monstrosity, seen here from the top of the eiffel tower). Another place has more photos, which really show how crazy the project is. It could be this will all work out (the lifting of the height ban), but I don't really see how.
:: David (14:53 in Arkansas, 21:53 in Paris) - Comment

Yarrr! Pirates! With tanks!

Mental note - if you're going to be sending a large shipment of tanks (with ammo!) by boat, be sure to steer clear of the Somali coast.
:: David (14:34 in Arkansas, 21:34 in Paris) - Comment

Interesting. For those of you paying too much attention to the presidential elections, you may be aware that John McCain 'suspended' his campaign to go be all economic in Washington. He cancelled a television appearance on a late night talk show (and David Letterman was not happy at all about it), and announced he would not be participating in the debate Friday. That was yesterday. Today, the debate is back on. Depending on who you read, either:

  • McCain Decides to Participate in Debate (New York Times), or
  • McCain Says Yes to Debate in Miss. (Washington Post), or
  • McCain proves leadership in time of crisis (Chicago Sun-Times)
So there you go. Either way, come this eve I'll be sitting on top of a very cool old cement factory drinking beer and watching the two candidates beat each other senseless over something - either foreign policy (the subject of the first debate, before the economy became important to everyone), or the economy (because it's not like we have troops overseas or anything).

By the way, if you read the New York Times with any regularity, I would like to remind you all of bug me not, a website that supplies log in credentials for websites with annoying log in requirements like the Times.
:: David (12:26 in Arkansas, 19:26 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Thursday, September 25 2008 ::

And the verdict is: no bailout yet. We'll see what the markets think about that, especially when combined with the failure of WaMu. Does anyone else hear Queen playing? Something about 'and another one's gone, another one bites the dust'?
:: David (23:26 in Arkansas, 6:26 in Paris) - Comment

You may remember the Kitty Kam from back when I had it pointed at Mina's food dish in Ann Arbor. Well, after much fiddling with network settings the camera is back up and running, thought it's currently not very interesting. Hopefully at some point in the future I'll figure out something fun to point it at. Maybe I could get it up in the attic and you could watch the darned squirrel. At least then he'd be serving a purpose....
:: David (13:20 in Arkansas, 20:20 in Paris) - Comment

Jalopnik is reporting that General Motors has just announced a big new engine plant to be build in Flint, Michigan. For those that don't recognize the location, that would be the city featured in Michael Moore's film Roger and Me, which was all about how (wait for it!) General Motors' closing of an auto plant in Flint destroyed the city.
:: David (10:37 in Arkansas, 17:37 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, September 24 2008 ::

It appears I should not mention animals in my blog, as last night they had their revenge by sending in one of the 3 inch (that's seven plus centimeters!) cockroaches to delight and amaze us. This was not the first time we've had gargantuan insects in the house, as a large green beetle came to visit a couple weeks ago. The beetle left the house alive. The cockroach not so much.

In other animal related news, we've got someone working on the house right now to clear our little rodent friend out. The company we went with is less thorough than the other guys, but as I told Sasha, we can call him back pretty often for 2600 dollars....
:: David (10:54 in Arkansas, 17:54 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, September 23 2008 ::

Today is the wildlife edition of my blog. As I may have previously mentioned, we have squirrels, and possibly other furry beasties living in the attic. So I called up some folks to come take him away. Easy, right? So they went through the attic, crawled under the house, went up on the roof, looked at all the places critters could get in, told me how they'd fix the holes, put fence over the vents, etc. etc. And then they gave me a shiny pamphlet they insta-printed in their truck, which had all the photos they had taken (oh yes - they took photos) of the various points of entry, rodent damage, etc. And they gave me a quote to make it all go away. I had been steadily increasing my guess as to how much they were going to ask for as he continued to explore the house. But two thousand six hundred dollars was still more than I had expected. I'm afraid my poker face didn't work, as he gave me the 'I'll give you time to think about it' look.

So that's the rodents. Then there's the spiders. I thought we had another black widow, hanging out on the front porch, so I grabbed the camera to get some pictures. It wasn't a black widow, as it turned out, but the pics turned out very well, I thought. Be warned if giant images of spiders freak you out, don't open that link.
:: David (10:22 in Arkansas, 17:22 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[9]

:: Sunday, September 21 2008 ::

A fun video was posted today, showing a mass arrest at the Republican National Convention. The tape is a wonderful reminder that the stage managed images shown in the press weren't the only thing going on.
:: David (14:16 in Arkansas, 21:16 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Saturday, September 20 2008 ::

I found a nice analysis of the proposed plan to bail out the markets today, and it noted that section 8 should lead to a really wild ride:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
On the one hand, I understand what they are thinking here, but on the other hand, that's a mighty scary (and seemingly not legal) provision. The post also notes that the 700 billion is a rolling figure - as soon as the treasury unloads some of the crap it buys, it can take that money and buy more crap. Paul Krugman of the New York Times is also unimpressed.
:: David (18:42 in Arkansas, 1:42 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Friday, September 19 2008 ::

In honor of me big day, google has a new lingo you can choose to do yer searchin' in: Pirate.

In the meantime, I've been hunting pirate songs. George Harrison has one, sorta, and I managed to find a nice French one. And of course, there's a variation on the classic drunken sailor.
:: David (12:02 in Arkansas, 19:02 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Thursday, September 18 2008 ::

This post is pure geek juice, so if you're easily frightened, skip down to the next post, which notes what a totally awesome day it is.

I recently discovered fark.com works very well on my mobile phone. This has lead to much wasted time, and significant levels of amusement. Recently an entry pointed to a random blog post which details 10 Unknown Facts about Wil Wheaton. Now the circle is complete, as Wil Wheaton has also written about the post.
:: David (23:57 in Arkansas, 6:57 in Paris) - Comment

So I guess with timezones I'm now a year older. That's kinda fun!
:: David (23:19 in Arkansas, 6:19 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, September 16 2008 ::

Oh hell yeah!

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is to appear on US satirical TV show The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
I'm going to don my 'awkward question crash helmet' now.
:: David (23:23 in Arkansas, 6:23 in Paris) - Comment

Looks like the Fed is going to hand AIG (a large insurance company) 85 big ones to help it get back on its feet. Apparently (probably due to inflation) a 'big one' is now one billion dollars. [Dr. Evil Pinkie] (be sure to scroll thru all the pics on that one - mind blowing, it is). Anyhoo, CNN has been kind enough to let us know why we should spend... let's see... 85,000,000,000 divided by 300,000,000... drop the zeroes... 850/3... nearly $300 for every man, woman, and child in the United States on an Insurance company. In short, they say 'it's really big' and 'noone gets a loan if AIG goes down'. I think I'm still with Jezebel on this one: Dear Ben: Seriously, Next Time, F*** Wall Street. Though, to be fair, at least now it's more like a game of Russian Roulette, what with Lehman actually going down.
:: David (22:39 in Arkansas, 5:39 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, September 14 2008 ::

The national education minister of France has led me to a new French word, which I will use with gusto. It was not actually he who uttered the wonderful syllables, but rather Florian Lecoultre, président of a high school union, in response to the minister's proposal to offer medals to people who finish high school (that's a loose translation). Said M. Lecoultre:

"ce n'est pas du tout une demande des lycéens". "C'est du bling-bling, c'est insignifiant. On peut multiplier les annonces inutiles comme celle-là, reste que pendant ce temps on ne s'attaque pas aux vrais problèmes"
The word, in case you missed it, is le bling-bling. I am now complete.
:: David (23:59 in Arkansas, 6:59 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[4]

Will they, or won't they? According to the New York Times, Lehmen Brothers is set to fold tomorrow. According to the BBC, it's "too big to fail".

In terms of size, Lehman trails behind its big three rivals in the US securities market - Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. But financial experts still see it as too big to be allowed to go under.

"The US government cannot let Lehman fail, because the systemic ripples would be too big," says banking analyst James Hyde at European Credit Management in London.

We'll see what really happens tomorrow morning. Also for our viewing pleasure - the continued meltdown of the global economy, as a result of this news.
:: David (20:25 in Arkansas, 3:25 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

Well, Hurricane (now tropical depression) Ike has arrived, and it's pretty exciting out there - the wind is whipping the rain into a crazy fog-like mist out on the highway, and there are more than a few tree branches down. It looks like the house will once again not fall down, so with any luck we'll be fine until the next one hits, presumably in a few weeks....

By the way - a little note to the corporations around here - you probably don't need to run your sprinklers when there's rain strong enough to warrant flash flood warnings. Just a tip.
:: David (1:32 in Arkansas, 8:32 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Saturday, September 13 2008 ::

I hadn't realized the LOLcat people had made a LOLnews site. These are a few of my favorites.
:: David (11:29 in Arkansas, 18:29 in Paris) - Comment

The Economist has a really interesting article this week asking 'where is Britain's Sarah Palin?' They make a very compelling case for someone who is "able to speak in the demotic lexicon of cross rednecks and others disenchanted with mainstream American politics", and wonder why British politicians are unable to do the same for the 'pikeys', 'chavs' and 'white-van men'.
:: David (0:05 in Arkansas, 7:05 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, September 11 2008 ::

So I had an interview today for a job, working for the state government. I was mixed about how it went - there were some things I just didn't really know how to respond to, and others I felt very comfortable with. It would be interesting, because it's not a tech job, and I've been thinking for a while that (as Sheryl Crow tells me) a change would do me good.
:: David (23:19 in Arkansas, 6:19 in Paris) - Comment

Every now and again I encounter a store so completely beyond my belief I have to share, and today, that store's (very swanky) catalog arrived in my mailbox. As with many of the catalogs we receive these days, this catalog was intended for the previous tenants, or perhaps more accurately their children. Called Posh Tots, it caters to a particular crowd - the type that pays $1,200 for a butterfly chandelier, for example.
:: David (23:14 in Arkansas, 6:14 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

The big question - how will you know when it changes to 'yup'?
:: David (0:08 in Arkansas, 7:08 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Tuesday, September 9 2008 ::

To get Rock Band up and running, we would have to spend a lot of cash:

  • Cost of a 32" LCD TV: $500
  • Cost of a Playstation 3: $400
  • Cost of Rock Band/Guitar Hero: $190
Which is to say, mostly, that I can't believe anyone buys a PS3, ever. Holy cow. But even an XBox or Wii will still break the bank. I'm going to need a better job (than sitting at home speculating about the cost of video games).
:: David (23:21 in Arkansas, 6:21 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Monday, September 8 2008 ::

Apparently today was computer glitch day. The London Stock Exchange opened for about an hour before their trading system died, and they were down for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, an error somewhere in the Tribune company's news pipeline led to a story from six years ago being published. That story: 'American Airlines Files for Bankruptcy'. Hilarity ensues, as the stock price of American falls from twelve dollars a share to three, before people figure out what happened. The stock price rebounded (mostly), but I suspect a round of lawsuits is in the works.
:: David (23:28 in Arkansas, 6:28 in Paris) - Comment

Another interview this week - the job would be quite exciting, if things work out. Of course, now I'm trying to get all the other stuff done, just in case I find myself with a job. Life is like a giant to-do list at the moment! But that's ok.

I was able to vanquish the backyard lawn over the last two days - it seems that not mowing for a month leads to exceptionally long grass. Who knew?
:: David (22:43 in Arkansas, 5:43 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, September 7 2008 ::

Sadly, the opening game for the Wampus Cats did not go well.

Honestly, how could you not be a fan of a team called the 'Wampus Cats'? Even if every game resulted in something similar to the "42-3 thumping" they took Friday night, I'd still be rooting for 'em!
:: David (1:06 in Arkansas, 8:06 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

I updated the blog program to note that I am no longer in Michigan, and no longer in the Eastern Time Zone. One of these days I'll spend the time to figure out how to tell time using a computer - it's much too complicated!
:: David (0:41 in Arkansas, 7:41 in Paris) - Comment

The Economist makes me happy. They sent one of their people to the Republican convention, and they posted a daily update. One bit made me particularly happy:

I’m a little bored of interviewing delegates, to be honest. Unlike the Ron Paul people, few at either convention have said anything surprising. But I stand on the floor, pretending to check my Blackberry, to overhear a television crew interviewing a Colorado delegate. I want to see how they do it; maybe they know something about getting a more newsworthy response.

Only the reporter, a medium-sized blonde woman whose back is to me, seems to be antagonising the tall, gangly Coloradan. I can barely hear her questions, but he repeatedly gets annoyed: "Can we have a real discussion about politics?" On Mrs Palin: "No, I had heard of her. No, I didn’t Google her. I mean, I did Google her, but months ago. You want to check my computer?" I think, crikey, this is what they mean by the agenda-bearing liberal media? What on earth is she asking him to annoy him so?

Finally, when she gets the Coloradan to say "yeah, OK. She’s attractive. There. You happy?" I get it. The interview breaks up, and everyone moves off, and I see the reporter: Samantha Bee, from "The Daily Show", a comedy news programme. You win another one, fake news.

:: David (1:34 in Michigan, 7:34 in Paris) - Comment

Saturday seems like a good time to drop a massive bombshell on the economy, and so, today the US government announced its plan to nationalize Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Yes, the big companies with the weird names will now be run by their Uncle Sam. The presidential candidates, helpfully (?), weighed in with their support of the bailout. The Times is also reporting that (you should sit down if you're standing, 'cause this will come as a shock) there may have been some financial 'irregularities' at the companies.

The Economist actually had a story this week recommending the nationalization (actually, they may have recommended the 'nationalisation' - I'm not sure) of the giants, followed by their liquidation (over time - it'd be tough to sell several trillion next week). We'll see what happens. It should be interesting, as given the time frame I expect we're talking about we should see two administrations getting in on the plan.
:: David (1:28 in Michigan, 7:28 in Paris) - Comment

:: Saturday, September 6 2008 ::

Hooray! The new couch finally arrived! It is apparently in the style of Duncan Phyfe, and makes the living room feel pretty cool. It also means we have seating for more than just Sasha and I, which will make everyone happy should they decide to visit.

And visit they probably will, as we have been being very social of late, and therefore one presumes at some point we will need to reciprocate. We got home at about 3am this morning, and were effectively woken by the delivery people. More delivery people are expected in the next couple hours, and then we will have a guest bed!
:: David (16:50 in Michigan, 22:50 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, September 5 2008 ::

You know, I tend to think of roofing as one of those high-value occupations, where each customer brings in thousands of dollars. So I therefore would have guessed that, for example, if a potential customer called, a roofer might, I don't know, say, perhaps, return the call? But oddly, that has so far not been my experience. Rather, my list of 'left a message, never got a callback' is slowly growing (slowly, because I tent to wait for the callback that never comes).
:: David (17:40 in Michigan, 23:40 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

By the way - for those following Detroit politics (which was getting to be quite a list there towards the end), the mayor who was in so much trouble has plead guilty to obstruction of justice and stepped down. Now all they need to do is get someone to pick up the pieces and make the city work again. Good luck with that.
:: David (0:27 in Michigan, 6:27 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, September 4 2008 ::

I went exploring in my house's attic yesterday, and discovered that when a vent was added for the hot water heater, they simply cut a hole in the roof and ran the pipe through. So there was more than a little (but thankfully not a great deal) of water getting in to the attic. I love all these fun little discoveries!

Speaking of discoveries, you may remember that Mina discovered we had some uninvited squatters living in the house when we moved in, specifically, fleas. I found a good (if slightly depressing) article on the University of Kentucky's entomology department website, which tells me all the steps we need to take to clear the house. Joy! I think we're going to initiate the battle this weekend, with some serious cleaning and spraying.
:: David (15:20 in Michigan, 21:20 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Wednesday, September 3 2008 ::

A moderately ironic moment - we wanted to watch the Republican VP candidate give her speech this evening, so we headed on over to the Republican National Convention website. Right on the front page is a nice 'watch live' link. Which apparently doesn't work on Macs. So we headed over to CNN. Same thing - video wouldn't play on our mac. There's a vaguely funny joke in there somewhere, something about being different and Republicans, but I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader.
:: David (23:03 in Michigan, 5:03 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

Some guy with a long beard and flowing robes came by this morning, said he was building a boat. I hope he gets two of everything from around here, 'cause otherwise it's all gonna drown. The National Hurricane Center has confirmed everything I said: it really is coming for us! And the rain has been just intense - there's a flash flood warning until noon:

(emphasis added) You can see the band of heavy rain on the weather map, which has been carefully modified to indicate our location.
:: David (11:29 in Michigan, 17:29 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Tuesday, September 2 2008 ::

I know Obama said we shouldn't talk about Palin's family, but I think the New York Times speaks for a lot of people when it wonders 'did anyone actually vet Palin?' She's certainly got everyone talking about the Republicans, I suppose.

Meanwhile, after a lovely sunny day the edge of hurricane Gustav has just arrived here - I can hear the wind and rain outside. With all respect to the National Hurricane Center, looking at recent radar images I'm inclined to think, in the immortal words of that guy from South Park, 'it's comin' right for us!'
:: David (0:48 in Michigan, 6:48 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, September 1 2008 ::

A random drive took us over near Hot Springs, where we found several archaeological sites devoted to Civilian Conservation Corps camps. I hadn't known much about the corps before, so it was interesting to see the sites. Then we headed in to Little Rock for dinner and drinks. A nice day, all in all, which wrapped up pretty late (even though last call on Sundays is at 9:30!)

Much of the day was spent, of course, periodically checking hurricane news. Apparently the local fire department will have sandbags available if things get too crazy from the rain, which may or may not come our way.
:: David (3:49 in Michigan, 9:49 in Paris) - Comment

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