Grab bag: Still buzzing on leftover candy

Worth reposting: an open letter to American social conservatives

I don’t often repost entire blog posts, but this needs to be disseminated widely. Thanks to Estaminet for saying what I wanted to say. Take a look at this and spread it to your friends and family:

estaminet: an open letter to american social conservatives.

Please stop.

Please stop saying that Barack Obama is Muslim. He’s not. He, and his family, are faithful Christians, and have demonstrated that in word and deed. (And even if he were Muslim, that shouldn’t be a strike against him.)

Please stop saying that Barack Obama is an “Arab.” He’s an American, or he wouldn’t be qualified to run for President.

Please stop saying that Barack Obama seeks to destroy Israel. He doesn’t. He, like every other sane-minded person in this crazy world, wants to see an end to violence in the Middle East. In that vision, he supports Israel’s sovreignty.

Please stop saying that Barack Obama is the antichrist. First of all, the Revelation of John was written in a literary code, and no one can say for sure what the high-flung, apocalyptic rhetoric of that book really means. Second, one of the main points of the book is that, if and when the end of the world comes, we won’t know it’s coming. People have been looking for signs for ages now — since the book was written. You’re using the Bible to fit your own fears and prejudices, and that’s not right.

Please stop saying that, if Barack Obama is elected President, he’ll make everyone in the country do X, Y, and Z. Since when has any President ever been able to make Americans do something? (Not counting the draft for a minute — let’s focus on the so-called “family” issues.) No one will force you to marry someone of the same gender, no one will force you to have an abortion, and no one will force your children to be communist transvestite Phish roadies or whatever. You and your children will have as much ability to intelligently decide your lives’ paths for yourselves as you ever did. If other people in America have the freedom to live their lives as they see fit (which is, after all, what America’s always been all about), the country will be a better place.

Please stop being afraid of people who are different from you, and thinking that, if Barack Obama is elected President, that “the blacks will take over.” (Seriously. I’ve read that you’ve said that. I’ll look up the source later.) Everyone’s afraid, in some way, of everyone else. Let’s try talking to each other, and treating each other as people. And, by the way, things are going to change in this country’s race relations no matter who’s elected.

Please stop objectifying Sarah Palin. Seriously. And yes, you so are. I’ve spent too much time denigrating her myself, in a mean-spirited way. I’ll stop being so mean, if you’ll stop fetishizing her.

Please, please, please stop being so afraid. Your anger and fear is scaring me. It makes me afraid for the future of this country, no matter who wins the election. My own anger and fear scares me, too. Can we both stop being afraid? Can we work together?

Happy Halloween

Random collection of thoughts this morning:

  • I just rode on my first Segway this morning. One of our QA engineers was an employee and got a pre-production experimental model as part of his severance, and he brought it in this morning. My question to him after tooling around a little on it: how on earth did W manage to fall off the thing? His response: a combination of his getting started before the diagnostic mode had finished, and “natural talent.”
  • Listening to the full Black Album for the first time, and while there’s no denying the brilliance of some of the beats, I have to say that I prefer Danger Mouse’s version.
  • How we got such a gorgeous October is beyond my comprehension. We’ve had astonishing sunrises and clear, crisp skies for a few days now. Now the trick is to find some time to get out and enjoy it.

Grab bag: Slightly late edition

A report on the usability testing for WordPress 2.7

Jane Wells at WordPress opens the kimono further on the decision to redesign the administrative user interface for 2.7. I griped a while back that it seemed like the design changes were being made in a non-systematic way, but it turns out there were solid usability testing exercises prior to the surveys we’ve all seen about structuring the navigation menu. She also includes a detailed usability report covering the eye tracking studies and the different stages of the process. Sounds like the new administrative screen is genuinely a usability improvement in terms of the metrics that matter (task success and time on task).

I also found it interesting that participants had a strong emotional connection to the 2.5 admin interface even when the formal usability metrics proved that they had trouble using it! Apparently good graphic design (my attraction to the UI) helps to mitigate formal usability flaws–a point worth remembering.

New mix: Power’s out in the heart of man

As so often happens as I’m putting mixes together, I’ve collected enough tracks for about three mixes since I published “picture of you where it began” back in May (“Blasphemous Rumors” was a one-off theme mix that didn’t dip into this pool). So I ended up splitting out this first set of tracks as the first go-round via a stochastic process of picking the first and last songs and removing every other song from the list. After a little re-ordering, it shaped up into the dark bullet below.

As previously announced, my mixes will no longer be appearing on Art of the Mix, but I’m not sure what the right way is to have them show up in the blog. In this case, the iTunes mix widget was just about right because all the tracks from the mix were available in the store (except for the Elvis Costello cut, which was the original version from Brutal Youth–and now I’m curious about the alternate version in the store). But going forward I’ll probably use some other method to publish the lists. Anyone got a favorite?

Grab bag: All music, no election edition

Google and publishers agree to sit down and make some money

New York Times: Google Settles Suit Over Book-Scanning. It’s good to see the book publishing industry come to its senses.

Now that the parties have agreed to revenue sharing from book sales and library use, it becomes even more clear that Google Books is yet another Internet mediated disintermediation. Google Books is probably the best targeted marketing vehicle for the book industry since the original Amazon, because of its reach and ease of use and its ability to make transparent the previously opaque covers of books to help us find useful content. I’ve personally found it more useful than the usual suspects (book reviews, bestseller lists) when it comes to finding useful research works; sometimes you need to read the original book to decide if it’s useful to you rather than relying on third-hand opinion.

Here’s to a win for all involved–Google, book publishers, and above all, for you and me.

Grab bag: Monday linkfest

The fifty state strategy in action

A piece in the Las Vegas Sun about Howard Dean caught my attention. After the “Dean Scream” got played into the ground by the media, Dean has largely been ignored by the popular press, but I think his actions at the DNC have been substantial in positioning the Democrats in 2008. And it’s instructive to take a look at the actual speech which preceded his “scream”:

Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York … And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!

I linked to electoral poll results for each of the states Dean called out. It’s interesting to see that while many red states have stayed red, Arizona, North Dakota, and Michigan are all clearly in play, while New Mexico has moved solidly into the “safe Democratic” column. And geez, look what’s happened in Virginia and North Carolina.

I think that the overplaying of the Dean Scream may have been one of the biggest injustices ever done to a presidential candidate by the media, but in the long run, maybe the party is better off for having him in the internal role that he’s excelled at.

The really interesting question, raised by Kos this weekend, is: who will the right find to rebuild the party? Who will play Howard Dean for the GOP?

Grab bag: Home stretch

While you’re patching: WordPress 2.6.3 is out

A quick heads up for the publication of WordPress 2.6.3, which I missed yesterday thanks to my site’s slowness. This is a straightforward patch release with an update for one PHP class, snoopy, which has a now-patched command injection vulnerability. Mercifully, the patch files are available directly from the blog post, making this the easiest WordPress upgrade yet.

The reports of this site’s death by entropy…

…are greatly exaggerated. However, I think I’ve fixed the inexplicable slowdowns that have plagued the site since sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday. It looks like the issue was related to a plugin, Google XML Sitemaps. Although there had been a few posts since Tuesday, it hadn’t functioned correctly since Tuesday and I think it had gotten hosed up. Disabling the plugin seemed to fix the slowdown, and I’ve since reenabled it without incident. Hopefully there won’t be any additional slowdowns.