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:: Friday, October 31 2008 ::

If you are a translator for road signs, be sure to put your out of office notification in both languages. Otherwise someone might print it on a road sign.
:: David (17:48 in Arkansas, 0:48 in Paris) - Comment

We carved our pumpkin last night, in anticipation of today's festivities. We'll be headed to a party once the youngins have finished claiming their candy. It's pretty darned exciting having a porch that's all our own to put a Jack O'Lantern on!

Some of you may be wondering what I'm going as to the party. I'm not telling you yet, but I will say it's a political figure. Speculate away.
:: David (13:38 in Arkansas, 20:38 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

Another day, another Japan was not the aggressor in WWII comment from Japan's (well, now former-) military leaders.
:: David (9:32 in Arkansas, 16:32 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, October 30 2008 ::

Aw, sad. According to USA Today's results for the 2008 election in Arkansas, Barack Obama has already lost. If you look closely, you'll notice this is not time travel, but someone testing live to the world. Now, if the final results look exactly like this, then I'm going to get really suspicious.
:: David (23:12 in Arkansas, 6:12 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

A new film in France called 'cliente' not only opens the door on women paying men for sex, it also addresses the question of how Joe the Plumber was going to get to the magic 250K income line: "'I told her she was paying the plumber,' [one actor said of explaining the movie poster to his daughter,] 'If I had told her the truth, she would have thought it was disgusting.'" It's actually a very interesting article. Go read it.
:: David (12:29 in Arkansas, 19:29 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

Doing lots of Job-y things this week - a phone interview, pulling together a list of references, pre- and post- interview conversations with headhunters, etc. It will be really interesting to see if anything comes of all this. My personal favourite, as always, are the IT jobs where there is no electronic submission method. Nothing impresses me more.

I'll also be talking to someone on an informal basis about helping develop their website. I always enjoy these conversations, and I like to think that I'm helping. It's fun to talk strategy to folks. Now if only I could find a job where I could get paid to do that!
:: David (11:38 in Arkansas, 18:38 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, October 28 2008 ::

Hey everybody - if you're all done giving money to the campaigns, how about giving money to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and help someone reach their fund raising goal. Let's be honest - you'll probably feel better giving to Jerry's Kids than to politicians!
:: David (13:10 in Arkansas, 20:10 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

I created a panorama of our backyard this morning, to give you an idea of the space we're working with. We're hoping to convert much of it to garden space, with a few other things thrown in. The tree on the left, inside the fence, is a pear tree, and we're thinking of putting some other fruit trees near it, possibly an apple and a peach tree. I've already planted some raspberries along the back fence, and I'm hoping to do several more. Then towards the house lots of herbs, veggies, and whatever else trips our fancy.

I'm fairly certain the tree nearer the house is a magnolia tree, which will mean lots of pretty flowers in the spring. I don't anticipate putting too many flowering plants in the backyard, but it's still early days - we have years to work all this out.

:: David (11:29 in Arkansas, 18:29 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

We voted this morning, as part of the early voting contingent. In the case of our local balloting place (the public library) traffic was extremely heavy, given that there's still a week until the election. We queued for about half an hour to get in. In part this was due to the balloting machines, which were touch screen (with, I am happy to report, a printed paper trail). Before each person could cast their vote, one of the people with electronic keys had to come over and log the voter in. At least while we were there, people were finishing more quickly than the poll workers could log new people in, so there was often a delay of some moments between each voter. On the other hand, the balloting process itself was quite easy to work out, and the printout on the left immediately told you whether or not your vote had been correctly recorded. At least on the paper copy. Either way, I don't think our vote in the national elections will matter - I don't think Obama will carry Arkansas, and the Senator and Representative were running against a green party candidate only. But there was some interesting local stuff, like an anti-gay amendment, and some local elections that I am interested in. So overall a productive morning!
:: David (11:19 in Arkansas, 18:19 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, October 27 2008 ::

The New York Times has brief coverage, and the local paper more extensive, of a shooting on the campus of UCA, the bigger college located here in Conway. The currently known facts are that two people died. Everything else is somewhat less clear:

Witness accounts of the event varied, with some students saying that the gunman got into a light-colored vehicle after the shooting and was driven away by other possible accomplices. Some said the vehicle was a Chevrolet SUV, while others said they saw a large sedan. Others said they never saw a vehicle at all.
There were some security cameras on campus that offer hope of more details.

Meanwhile the BBC has coverage of a Little Rock news anchor who died after suspected burglery. Once again, there is also local coverage.
:: David (9:23 in Arkansas, 16:23 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, October 26 2008 ::

The times has an article on the grand tradition of dressing like a pirate. With a byline from the Tybee Island festival, the article notes the growing popularity of pirate themed... everything, and the influence of the Pirates of the Caribbean films on them. The article also comes with a slideshow. The most exciting part for me was finding out there exists a pirate magazine: No Quarter Given.

On a side note - to see ads for Realtors etc. who dress as pirates, you can check out the flyer for the Tybee Island pirate festival (7MB pdf). It also includes the calendar of events, which is... amusing.
:: David (21:14 in Arkansas, 4:14 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, October 24 2008 ::

Via the consumerist, I learn that one of my better investment strategies has paid off: about a year or so ago I decided National City, a regional bank, was a good takeover target, and so I bought 10 shares of stock at about 36 dollars per share. Then the banking crisis happened. Now I learn that my initial premise was correct - NCC has been taken over. At 2 dollars a share. If I ever give you a stock tip, ignore it.
:: David (12:30 in Arkansas, 19:30 in Paris) - Comment

Today's OIA (only in America, or at least one hopes)(and not to be confused with the country music song of the same name) comes from the BBC, which reports on a company that will rent drug sniffing dogs to parents so they can search their house for drugs. I remember going to one of the drug stores a couple years back for a prescription and being horrified at the assortment of drug tests you could buy (though in reading the reviews, it seems people are more likely to test themselves). When I was living in Scotland back in 1996 my non-American friends were all horrified when I told them I had to take a drug test to get my internship with Ford. I think it was like boiling a frog - you slowly increase the heat, and nobody notices. I have to assume somebody somewhere thinks this whole 'war on drugs' thing in working, because the laws keep coming, but I can't imagine anyone really believing it.
:: David (11:02 in Arkansas, 18:02 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, October 23 2008 ::

Alan Greenspan testified before congress today, and was asked when he first thought the bubble in housing might be a problem. He replied that it had been 2006. I really hope that's not the case, because it was pretty obvious to a lot of people before that. I shall instead assume that he misspoke.
:: David (19:20 in Arkansas, 2:20 in Paris) - Comment

The job hunt is back on - I've had a call about a job in Little Rock. We'll see. Meantime it's back to the crazy stuff one does when otherwise unoccupied, like watching game one of the 'World Series'. To be fair, I was eating in a sports bar, and only really paid attention to the last inning, but still, weird for me.
:: David (11:02 in Arkansas, 18:02 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Wednesday, October 22 2008 ::

Finally! A way to escape the drudgery of having to respond to your email! Let gmail write the response for you! It seems they've created a new context-sensitive autoreply that will let you send automatic responses to certain senders. So that stalker guy who keeps contacting you will now get 'I'm forwarding your message to the police, stop contacting me' without you having to do anything!
:: David (17:06 in Arkansas, 0:06 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, October 19 2008 ::

Jamaica says people in the tourism sector must be behind the recent theft of a beach from a resort that was under construction, but I think they should look further afield - Paris has to get the sand for Paris Plage somewhere, right?
:: David (18:09 in Arkansas, 1:09 in Paris) - Comment

So Thursday through Sunday was Hendrix's Fall break, and rather than hang about in town Sasha and I escaped to the mountain resort town of Eureka Springs. In addition to looking out at the second largest Jesus statue in the world from our hotel room each morning, we did lots of artsy things, ate good food, and generally spent the weekend relaxing (if going to a massive arts and crafts fair can be called relaxing).
:: David (18:02 in Arkansas, 1:02 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Wednesday, October 15 2008 ::

Special thanks to CNN, for providing me with the complete video of Obama meeting Joe the Plumber (who, by the way, we were speculating must be polish, since as we all know Polish plumbers are responsible for all crazy political things in the western world. And no, Joe looks nothing like the hot polish plumbers used by the Poland tourism board. (thanks to the Polish Blog for having that photo up)

For those that didn't see, Joe was pretty much the entirety of the third debate between McCain and Obama. It was... weird. But that's politics. Overall, another wash - I thought Obama won, but I'm biased. We'll see in about three weeks what the verdict is.
:: David (23:46 in Arkansas, 6:46 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[4]

I don't know why more people aren't using MSN as their home page. They're so cutting edge! Why, today, the lead story explains 'what is a LOLcat?' and offers a history of internet memes.
:: David (13:20 in Arkansas, 20:20 in Paris) - Comment

Apparently the Obama campaign is doing some serious last minute fundraising, trying to get people who have already given to match pledges with new donors. If y'all feel the need to be on either side of that equation, now's the time! I can't believe the election is so close!
:: David (10:34 in Arkansas, 17:34 in Paris) - Comment

Just in time for halloween, it's Coffin Couches! Awesome, awesome, awesome! And the great thing is how good they look! Special thanks to Scoundrel π for pointing that out.
:: David (10:31 in Arkansas, 17:31 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, October 13 2008 ::

Chuck Norris has nothing on Obama: President of Awesome. Cheers to Meg Cabot for pointing that pic out.
:: David (10:30 in Arkansas, 17:30 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, October 12 2008 ::

Hey - did one of y'all borrow my xp disk? I can't find it, and it runs my telephone system (courtesy of this little device, which doesn't have mac drivers, darn them all to heck).
:: David (18:43 in Arkansas, 1:43 in Paris) - Comment

It was the UCA Homecoming here in town yesterday, so after a trip to the green expo in Little Rock we came back to Conway to experience HD (that's Heavy Drinking) at the pre-game tailgate, followed by up-close and personal football, courtesy of the overflow crowd, which resulted in our group being seated almost directly underneath the goal posts, just past the end zone. The game was quite close, but in the end the bears pulled it out 48-46. A little bit of love for the local college which is otherwise consistently embroiled in scandal.
:: David (16:57 in Arkansas, 23:57 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, October 10 2008 ::

The consumerist pointed me to a couple of interesting videos. One explains Credit Default Swaps using a champagne fountain (and some clever whiteboard drawing), and the other explains Credit Default Swaps, using a Ferrari.
:: David (13:13 in Arkansas, 20:13 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, October 9 2008 ::

So today the unemployed spouses of Conway area college professors (what's that acronym? USCACP? Would that be pronounced 'uskakip'?) headed down to Little Rock for a presentation at the Heifer Foundation on the upcoming Natural State Expo (worth noting: Arkansas calls itself 'the natural state', hence the name of the expo). Heifer's headquarters is certified LEED Platinum, which in addition to meaning it is environmentally friendly, also means people will come to see your building, which is nice if you have a gift shop and take donations. It is a very interesting building, actually, and seeing it in use was quite revealing. The building is designed to use ambient lighting, capture rainwater, and has natural plants and a water-friendly parking lot. It was also constructed from a large amount of recycled material (it was what is called a brownfield reclamation, which meant there had previously been a building on the site).
:: David (22:36 in Arkansas, 5:36 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

If there's a financial crisis, there must be recriminations! The UK has frozen the assets of a collapsed Icelandic bank over questions of whether UK depositors are protected.

[Iceland Prime Minister] Haarde, asked if he felt there was a crisis in relations between Britain and Iceland, said: "I thought so for a few minutes this morning when I realised that a terrorist law was being applied against us.

"That was not very pleasant. I'm afraid that not many governments would have taken that very kindly, to be put in that category and I told the chancellor that we were not pleased with that."

It's only going to get more fun as we move forward. Another big loss on Wall Street (now we're below 9000), and I suspect people are pretty scared about tomorrow too. I don't really know what else the government can do, short of suspending trading for a while, and think of the chaos that would cause in the short term. It'll be fun to see what they come up with next!
:: David (17:34 in Arkansas, 0:34 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, October 8 2008 ::

When speaking a second language, be sure to pronounce the letters correctly. Otherwise you might be quoted as saying Israel could eat Iran.
:: David (22:19 in Arkansas, 5:19 in Paris) - Comment

I know it's trite, but I really do feel this headline says it all: US debt clock runs out of digits. It seems the makers didn't think the national debt would ever reach 10 trillion dollars.
:: David (22:01 in Arkansas, 5:01 in Paris) - Comment

My new macro lens arrived today (hooray!) and I immediately headed outside to our tastiest (to insects) bush to see what sort of pics it would take. It looks like the Canon has a little larger magnification on the close-ups, which is nice - I'm not sure how much bigger I would want to make these guys - being able to see the hairs on a bee is a little weird, honestly.

In other camera news, my old camera did sell, but the person may or may not actually pay - they've been in contact about not having the cash, so we'll see what happens. Either way ebay took their (massive) cut, so I'll just try to get out of this as painlessly as I can.
:: David (13:01 in Arkansas, 20:01 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Tuesday, October 7 2008 ::

Why does the Gini coefficient matter? Because sooner or later, it'll get you punched in the face. Seriously, in the end this is why equality matters - there's plenty of research that indicates fairness is wired into the brain, and if, as the UCLA study indicates, unfairness can be perceived as insulting, then it's fairly easy to see how violence can result from (perceived) unfairness. Get enough people together who think a government is unfair, and down it will go.
:: David (15:55 in Arkansas, 22:55 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, October 6 2008 ::

You know, I keep watching it happen, but it doesn't even seem that interesting anymore, as everyone is talking about it and it's all running on autopilot now. I refer, of course, to the continued economic chaos. I did enjoy the testimony of Richard Fuld (of Lehman Brothers) when he explained that people had seriously overestimated his pay, which was only a quarter of a billion dollars in the last eight years.
:: David (22:41 in Arkansas, 5:41 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, October 3 2008 ::

Two interesting stories today - first, we just spent all the money in the US coffers in one fell swoop. Yay! Now here's where it gets interesting: also today, Wells Fargo offered 7 times what Citigroup had offered for Wachovia, and Wells Fargo isn't insisting on help from the FDIC. Why would anyone be buying a bank that has tons of bad debt on the books? Could it have something to do with the aforementioned bailout, and an assumption that the US government is going to overpay for those bad loans? I think it could.

I heard an interesting interview on NPR today, with people from some of the major ideological economic think tanks, where one person noted that, by definition, the bailout intended to overpay, because it's the market that sets the price. This theory would work better if the market for those loans wasn't so small, and the barriers to entry weren't so high, but still, it raises an interesting point. It appears we'll be given the chance to find out, since the bailout is on.
:: David (17:10 in Arkansas, 0:10 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Thursday, October 2 2008 ::

There's an interesting opinion piece in the NY Times today which notes the existence of a plan created by the US government to help people with their mortgages. The details include the following:

Under the program, the government will insure up to $300 billion in new, more affordable loans for troubled borrowers. For the insurance to kick in, however, lenders must first voluntarily refinance the delinquent mortgages by reducing the loan balances to 90 percent of the home’s current market value.
Now, this is one of those plans that I could see people feeling kinda ooky about. Should I, a homeowner who is not in any trouble, get into trouble so my loan balance will be reduced? I recognize this is a crazy question, but from an economic standpoint it makes perfect sense. My debt level exists in two places at once, depending on my behaviour. So how should I, logically, behave?

Of course, this only applies to people who have a loan that is more than 90% of their house's value, but that's pretty much anyone who bought in the last (long period of time).
:: David (11:08 in Arkansas, 18:08 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

Mental note: if you're writing a law intended to allow parents (I think the general assumption is 'teenage mothers') to abandon babies at hospitals, be sure to specify a maximum age. "The biggest shock to public officials came last week, when a single father walked into an Omaha hospital and surrendered nine of his 10 children, ages 1 to 17, saying that his wife had died and he could no longer cope with the burden of raising them."

The article goes on to note that, like all social services in the United States of Just Friggin' Deal, services for parents are spotty, and sometimes difficult to locate even when they do exist.
:: David (10:27 in Arkansas, 17:27 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, October 1 2008 ::

So I got a call from a group called 'Banker's Life and Casualty', inviting me to an interview today. So I went. It was... interesting, if not exactly what I expected. I thought it was a job I had applied for contacting me. Rather, it was a cold call, and my 'interview' was more along the lines of a sales pitch. It felt very pyramid-scheme-esque. So I listened for half an hour, then bailed. I had to drop off yet more stuff for the guy fixing (or is that 'fixing') my mac (this was perhaps the 7th trip I've made to drop off or pick up the mac or pieces thereof). In this case, it was nice to have a purpose for going to Little Rock - otherwise I would have felt my morning had been wasted. I went hunting for more info on the company and found this thread, which I think details the concept nicely.
:: David (19:13 in Arkansas, 2:13 in Paris) - Comment

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