Friday, November 30, 2012

open letter to vimeo

dear vimeo,

i love your videos. really, i do. when you send me notes about staff picks i want to rush right off to put them in my "watch later" queue so i can remember to watch them later.

but the thing is that you log me out nearly every day, and then when i hit that little button that says "log in",  it doesn't work. i guess i could log in with facebook, but facebook sucks and i don't use it.

so i'm concluding that you do not actually want me to be able to log in, else your login button would be functional.

until you fix that, i'll be watching youtube.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

chevy malibu

can i tell you how much i hate this car?

i'm driving one as a rental.

my own beloved car (an '06 subaru forester) is in the shop. i took it in to get snows put on and to have them look at my headlights.

it turns out my headlights need replacing. and, oh by-the-way, the head gasket needs replacing. and the water pump. and the timing belt.

and the clutch.

and the head cylinder.

and yeah, the left-side light that lights up the rear license plate.

at over 111,000 miles, one might expect it to need a few things replaced. the good news is that with this wok done it'll probably go another 90,000 miles.

we hope.

meantime, i am driving a chevy malibu and while there's nothing so terrible about it, it has limited visibility and it's nto built to carry gear and i hit my head getting in and out, and i'm not especially tall.

i hate it.

but i'm driving along and i see this little bubbly thing in the middle of the top of the dash and i think maybe it is some kind of light sensor and i wonder what THAT might do. i speculate that it might auto-dim some lights or something, so i toss my hat up on over it.

huh. that's kind of cool.

here's the video.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

this is what 60 looks like

ok, i want you to know the reason i am posting nearly exclusively about the last days of glitch: it's because most of my non-glitch playing time is spend editing video and stills to document the game and to just plain save the memories of it while i still can.

so stuff about glitch is what you're getting, wich is probably tedious for those fo you who do not play glitch, but for those who do, it's like a blankie, knowing that we're all scrambling to put together something we can save and look at and listen to because when those servers shut down on december ninth, that little world will go dark and all that will be left are the pictures and recordings.


glitch has a level cap. a lot of games do. in glitch that cap is 60, and i was never a level grinder, although by the sheer volume of time spent playing i leveled pretty high, just as a byproduct of playing.

some people have parties even to celebrate it, but i celebrated mostly the way i celebrated every other leveling up i did: i gave out a round of drinks to everyone present in the street where it happened.

what i did differently in this case was i put on a nice outfit and went down to cebarkul and played my conch triumphantly to everyone there.

i didn't mention at the time why i had done this and quite frankly putting on an outfit and handing out stuff isn't behavior that's all that unusual, so i don't think anyone even noticed.

the reason i recorded it is that when you level up there's a cute little kazoo noise and i thought that since this was the last time i'd ever level up, i wanted to save the memory of what that looks like.

the sad thing is that about an hour after i leveled up and logged off for the night, they made the announcement that the game is closing. i came on the next day to find people making their goodbyes and i was confused.

then i was bereft.

today i edited the video so i could post it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

tour of ur: uralia

this will come as no surprise to anybody, eh?

 i am still shooting the tour videos and working an a mapping project, along with making some screenvid of game play.

here's the uralia tour.

the landscape of uralia is hard to capture because it is so deep and weird.

it's also usually crowded in cebarkul.

but this is what it looks like, along with the uralia soundtrack.

Monday, November 26, 2012

tour of ur: underwater regions

i spent a lot of today editing video of a tour of jal and samudra, as well as just playing glitch and enjoying it while i still have it to enjoy.

samudra is a new underwater region similar to jal and accessible only from jal, so even though in its current state it has the default music for all streets, the groddle banjo theme, i believe that if it had been released properly and not post-closing announement it would have shared the jal soundtrack and so for this reason i have paired them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

tour of ur: naraka

i'm working on a project of making some little scenic tours of the regions of ur accompanied by the soundtrack of those landscapes rather than the game sound.

here's the region of naraka.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

rock fans

in a stunning surprise move, i told you i would have pictures and video for you soon, and here are pictures and video.

one of the split rocks
thanksgiving day at john and ellen's orion asked how john splits the rocks for his wall and john said "let's go spilt one", which is a way cooler anser than a simple explanation.

and it's totally awesome for me, because while i often take pictures of people doing interesting things, i really hit the jackpot if people talk while they're doing whatever it is i'm shooting video of.

and john doesn't just split the rock; he shows the tools and explains the process, which is GOLD to me.

more of the inside of the rock
so john's building this rock wall at the house and he's using glacial erratics fome his field and woods. when he splits them open, some of them are very interesting if you like rocks and stuff.

...which i do. and apparently john's a big rock fan, too.

so here are some of my pictures of the rocks and my video of the splitting.
drill holes
feathers and wedges

Friday, November 23, 2012

it just isn't thanksgiving

it just isn't thanksgiving without video of whipped cream being dispensed into a dog.

later on i will have video and pictures of rock breaking, because it's never a dull moment with us.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


None Of The Above.

do you remember that movement for political reform? ron paul used to back it, you know, in the days before he got in bed with the whackdoodles.

he still makes sense on some things.

i haven't heard his retirement speech yet, but i heard some excerpts and he makes some good points.

anyway, the idea behind None Of The Above is that this should be a choice at elections. there are a number of proposals with different mechanics, but the general idea is that if None Of The Above wins the majority share in the election, the whole thing has to be done over with new candidates.

when i first heard about this ages ago, i remember opponents saying "you can't do that!!! it would cost too much to redo elections! it would be mayhem!"

well, not after the first time.

the first time NOTA got the majority vote those guys running the parties would finally have to sit up and take notice and provide real choices.

as long as they know they're still going to be in power, they don't have to provide real choices. they just have to mount enough theater and go through the steps.

if we make them uneasy about whether the demmicans or the republicrats will be able to retain their mutually agreed upon positions at all, they'd have to be concerned. they'd actually have to DO something.

and nobody would be able to shrug their shoulders and say the system is too entrenched for there to be change.

likewise, if the voters have NOTA as an alternative and do not use it, that will function as a mandate for business as usual. it will take away a lot of the excuses out there.

next time you see the proposal, endorse it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

nationstates: a report from the glitch diaspora

glitch isn't closed yet, but the players are out looking at other games and reporting back.

there is nothing like glitch out there, but there arge games we might enjoy to a lesser degree and go together to some of them just so we don't lose touch completely.

one game a number of us are now playing is nationstates, which is fun if you like politics, a slow moving theoretical game, or diplomacy roleplay.

i am enjoying it, but it is not glitch.

have a look at my nation if you want. if you decide you'd like to give it a try and you'd like to play in the same region as me and the rest of the glitch diaspora, when you get logged in simply move your nation to the region of glitch.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ilmenskie miners

i am trying to parse out why we are so heartbroken with the end of glitch.

if you're following my story at all you know that i play a lot of games.

the thing about glitch is that it is a rich environment.

do you remember the first time you went into middle earth? or narnia? or hogwarts? or went through the phantom tollbooth?

i remember the first time milo left through the tollbooth and i felt as if i had lost that country. the message of the book is that you can find that country everywhere but still- you're never going back, not really, not as intensely as that first time when you inhabit the land.

and glitch was a  land that was rich and complex and had stories brewing in it that were created by the developers: artists, musicians, and a real team of writers, but it was also a story and a lanscape that was being created on the fly by the characters in it.

in most computer games a finite set of things happen, and you only are able to watch.

in glitch we were citizens of a world and characters in many stories, each of us living a story on the same landscape, but singular for each one of us.

my story was that i loved the lands. i loved the streets and my homes (i have had three) and i loved gathering and harvesting and crafting and going about my little business and seeing all the other little people and knowing that they represented real people out there, living their little glitch lives.

a long time ago before the Great Housing Reset i was dreaming of saving up enough currants to buy a beautiful little house in groddle meadow, and at the time the best way for me to make money was to go down into the mines.

so i wrote this song, and as part of our farewell to our world, a group of miners came with me yesterday to make this short video.

Monday, November 19, 2012

flexible flyer

not, this isn't about my sled.

i DO have a vintage flexible flyer, though. i have a sixty year old sled.

but this is not about that.

it is about my bike ride today.

if you are flexible in your thinking you can tell yourself that this is what you wanted anyway, or at least that this is acceptable.

this afternoon i was having trouble deciding whether to ride my bike or go for a run. i sorta didn't feel like riding all the way over the preston pond trail and i thought a run would just be simpler.

so because it's early enough in the season that i CAN still ride -because there's no snow cover yet- i got on my bike and i rode it all the way to the top of the preston pond trail and then instead of riding across and home i just turned around and ran the mile and three quarters home.

why, you ask, would i run a perfectly good bike? downhill?

'cause flat tire, that's why.

and although the shoes i was wearing have ankle support and recessed cleats, they're not really intended for running and when i was forced in the last quarter mile to run on pavement sometimes i sounded like some goofy half-a-horse loping along.

and they're not excackly cushiony either, so there's that.

and i passed a guy walking out with his rifle and by way of answering the question he hadn't asked yet i said "this is not nearly as much fun as it looks" and he was fixing to offer me a ride home but without even breaking stride i told him i was nearly home and we both kind of laughed as i went on my way.

it's the late fall backwoods duathlon, i told myself.

i do not have to decide between the run and the ride.

i get both.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

games within games

as the world of ur comes to its end, those of us who love it are scrambling to save the pictures, the text, the music. this morning another player was looking for someone to play the ticket games so he could see and photgraph them, so i took video while we payed.

i hadn't played the ticket games since before the housing reset, so it was fun to go back and play them.

that was the thing about glitch: it was less *a* game than a platform on which a lot of games were played. it was rich and complex.

there are still some days left before the world ends, but already we are beginning to speak of it in the past tense.

we are in mourning and we are at a loss to describe exactly why it matters so much to us.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

more of ur

if you're not a glitch fan, i'm sorry about this: from now until closing there are going to be a lot of posts about glitch.

here are my two videos:

the first one is a general tour of the glitch lands that i was preparing just for the heck of it to show you when the announcement came out and i stopped processing it, so it has no awesome sound and no captioning, but it will talke you through the different lanscapes, most of them.

this second one is my song "last farewell to groddle", which is a song i started to write when the housing was reset and i lost my little groddle cottage at 5117 estevan meadows, but then i was busy making my new groddle cottage at the new homestead that for all its flexibility and convenience did not have the placiness of my groddle forest or my groddle cottage homes.

anyway, when they announced the closing that idea for a song about farewell to groddle became my farewell to glitch and while i am at heart always from groddle, the bortolans and fireboggers all know what i'm talking about here.

maybe it is an imaginary landscape, but it is one that we all at least partly LIVED in. we hade hopes for it and we dreamed in it and it was unlike any "just" game we'd ever seen because of the richness of it.

so here is my farewell song.

Friday, November 16, 2012

farewell to groddle

you know i have been playing glitch.

i was preparing a video to show you, and some pretty pictures but thursday night the announcement came that glitch is closing.

it's not just a game to many of us; it is a place rich in our imaginations and the residence of part of our souls.

some of you live at hogwarts or in narnia or whatever fictional places hold your attention and populate your dreams.

today i wrote and recorded this song.

later on i will get you those pictures.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

open letter to the united church of christ

dear united church of christ,

why is it that when i go to your site and use the search term "report misconduct" most of what comes up are pdf documents from the insurance board?

if you go to the united methodist church and search"report misconduct", you actually get resources on what the definitions and terms are and how to file a complaint should you need to. they don't leave it on their front page, but the resources are there to help both the churches and other concerned parties.

where are your resources to help those making reports? or behind your happy shiny fa├žade are you more about protecting the church politic than the members?

just askin'.


two questions

from formspring:

do you ever get tired of glitch?

sometimes. then i go do something else.

it's less of a smashing and more of a scraping. i am hand shaping a rock for decorative use in a garden. modern art, ancient tech.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

open letter to gdad

dear gdad,

this morning just before i woke up i was dreaming that i was posting to your blog and that certain words were being highlighted by little pastel-colored circles that were links to other things, which maybe isn't so farfetched, except that what had just happened was that the words "they're", "their", and "there" had just been conflated into "thr" and abolished completely and the little dots were telling me about it.

since we are nearly complete strangers, i thought you would like to know about this.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

beaver river detour

one day last october i woke up in the morning and decided to do a pair of geocaches by the stillwater reservoir. if you're interested in reading those logs, you can pick them up here.

but then i came back into the parking lot and it was full up and there were all these people milling about like they were waiting for something. maybe a boat?

so i marched right on over to where they were waiting and asked them what they were waiting for.

it turned out that they were waiting for the tour boat over to beaver river (which i am informed properly is beaver river station) and i wanted to know what the deal was with that and nobody could give me any information other than it's fifteen dollars and it leaves in fifteen minutes.

it was, i think, an appalling lack of information regarding an activity they were about to engage in, but we were all still in the parking lot and the parking lot has good wifi, so i just looked it up.

and okay, that sounds awesome and it turns out it's the last day they're running the tour this season so i don't have time to think about taking a later boat.

so i stand around with the rest of the folks and wait for the boat.

when it comes, we all troop onto it and take seats. it is a very lovely ride and i don't know what all else i might have been doing this afternoon, but it wasn't this cool.

on the way i struck up a conversation with a woman on the boat and she said i MUST come with her to visit her friends in beaver river and i was hesitant about dropping in on strangers with someone i only just met, but sometimes you just take whatever opportunities present themselves.

so when the boat dropped us at the causeway to take the shuttles into "town" (the year round population of beaver river station is nine), i just got off with my new friend at her stop.

ater the initial social awkwardness of "hi, i'm a total stranger showing up kind of randomly" i got a lovely tour of the beautiful old adirondack cabin and the adaptations that make it liveable in modern times.

potable water is still trucked in by sled or handcart, and it is heated in milk cans next to the woodstove.

but there are solar panels! and storage batteries!

and on the afternoon i am there the program of entertainment involves digging holes to drive posts and build a platform for another solar panel.

so actually i don't get to go into beaver river to see the hotel or the restaurant, but i DO get the unique opportunity to do yard chores with local folk, which both gives me the pleasure of being useful for a little while and it sets me on the landscape in a different way than if i come just as a tourist.

and then it's time for me to catch my bus back to the boat; we stand out on the causeway and flag it down as it passes. it's a pretty ride back to the parking lot and i go all the way into croghan to get me some dinner before settling down for the night.

later on i get an email from the woman i had been digging holes with, and she sends along a photo of the completed project.

Monday, November 12, 2012

lantern waste

in october i went to a geocache in the adirondacks and i can't think of ten i've enjoyed more in all the time i've been playing that game.

if youd like to read my log for the cache, you can find it here, but if you don't mind spoilers and/or you maybe aren't ever going to go do that cache, there's a more detailed telling of it here.

lantern wastei'm experimenting with photobucket's new storytelling format; i'm not sure yet if i like it.

if you're still unfamiliar with the concept of geocaching, the idea is that the coordinates to a hidden thing are published on the web. then using your GPS device, you go find it. i've heard people ask what the challenge to that is, since ostensibly you know right where it is, but just you try it a few times and see if you don't see the challenge.

as far as this particular cache goes, you follow your GPS until you get to the box with the maps and from there you have the choice of carrying on by map or by GPS.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

fish mountain in the civil war

i was at a geocache in in lake pleasant, ny, and at the back of the fish mountain cemetery are buried these two men who are civil war veterans.

i have written to you before about civil war veterans, so it probably will not surprise you to learn that i went ahead and looked up each of these men's service records and between the terse wording of the personal service record and the regimental service record, you can make some pretty good guesses about how the war went for them.

the war was very different for these two.

joseph's mother was a fish, of fish mountain. he was a blacksmith and carpenter and wen he was mustered in for his intended three years service he was posted to mostly noncombat duty around sharpsburg. maybe his first "real" battle was at fredericksburg, where he was wounded and sent home.

the 1890 federal census of surviving soldiers lists him as having been held as a prisoner and lists his disability as "weakness about the loins". that census lists his discharge for disability on december 10th, before the fredericksburg battle.

the vagueness of "weakness about the loins" gives much latitude for speculation. is this a battelfield injury? the result of a mine? it could also be injuries sustained by a common torture  used on prisoners of the day. we don't know how long he was held prisoner, or where. 

he may have been taken prisoner before fredericksburg and not fought there with his regiment, which makes sense if you look at the given date(s) of his discharge.

121st Regiment Infantry "Orange and Herkimer Regiment"

Organized at Herkimer and mustered in August 13, 1862. Left State for Washington, D.C., September 2, 1862. Attached to 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac and Army of the Shenandoah, to June, 1865.
SERVICE.--Maryland Campaign September 6-22, 1862. Duty at Sharpsburg, Md., until October 30. Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 30-November 19. Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15. (source)

N I C H O L S,  J O S E P H F.—Age, 21 years. Enlisted, July 29, 1862,
at Salisbury, to serve tliree years; mustered in as private, Co.
A, August 23, 1862; discharged for disability, December 13,
1862. (source)


[Full name Joseph Franklin Nichols]
Enlisted 29 July 1862 at Salisbury, NY, age 21 as
Private, Co. A, 121st NY Infantry
Mustered in 23 Aug 1862
Discharged for disability 13 Dec 1862

Filed for Invalid pension 10 April 1886
Application #570780, Certificate #851375
Widow (Alinda Nichols) filed for pension 28 Oct 1900 from NY
Application #732799, Certificate #535654

1850 census: Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY
1860 census: Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY
1870 census: Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY
1880 census: Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY
1890 Special schedule census: Arietta, Hamilton Co., NY
1892 State census: Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY

Born: 1842 in Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY
Father: Willis Nichols
Mother: Elizabeth Fish
Married: abt 1866
Spouse: Alinda Wilbur
Died: 15 May 1899 at Lake Pleasant
Buried: Fish Mountain Cemetery, Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY
Occupation: Carpenter, Blacksmith
Additional: at least 5 children (source)

paul nichols, the older brother,  enlisted for a year's service and was sent to the areas around petersburg and then richmond, which involved a lot of digging and guarding and supplying punctuated by a number of battles. 

his regiment was sent to to north carolina for the amphibious assualts on fort fisher and the campaign to take wilmington. there was a lot of fighting, a lot of marching, and a lot of disease. his regiment saw the surrender of johnston, which after lee's surrender was what was left of the confederate army. the regiment drew guard duty at raleigh until it was mustered out june 7, but nichols was already in the hospital and it is unclear how much duty he carried before he was mustered out.

since there is no record of an invalid pension, it may be guessed that her recovered from his illnesses and returned to farming. 

142nd Regiment Infantry "St. Lawrence County Regiment"

Organized at Ogdensburg, N. Y, and mustered in September 29, 1862. Left State for Washington, D. C., October 6, 1862.[...]1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 10th Army Corps, to December, 1864

SERVICE. [...]Duty in trenches before Petersburg and on the Bermuda Hundred front until September 27. Battle of Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30. [...] Duty in trenches before Richmond until December. Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C., December 7-27. 2nd Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C., January 3-15, 1865. Assault and capture of Fort Fisher January 15. Cape Fear entrenchment's February 11-13. Fort Anderson February 18-19. Capture of Wilmington February 22. Campaign of the Carolinas March 1-April 26. Advance on Goldsboro March 6-21. Advance on Raleigh April 9-13. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. Duty at Raleigh until June. Mustered out June 7, 1865. (source)

N I C H O L S ,  P A U L  A . — A g e , 38 years .  E n l i s t e d at Schenectady,
t o serve one year ,  a n d  m u s t e r ed  i n as  p r i v a t e , Co.  D , September
1, 1864;  m u s t e r ed out,  J u n e  1 0 , 1 8 6 5, at  h o s p i t a l,  R a l e i g h ,  N .  C . (source)

Enlisted 1 Sept 1864 at Schenectady, NY, age 38 as
Private, Co. D, 142nd NY Infantry
Mustered in 1 Sept 1864
Mustered out 10 June 1865 at Raleigh, NC

1860 census: Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY
1870 census: Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY
1880 census: Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY

Born: abt 1826 in NY
Father: Willis Nichols
Mother: Elizabeth Fish
Married: 1st, abt. 1851
Spouse: Dorcas A. 
Married: 2nd, bet. 1860 - 1870
Spouse: Adeline Dunning
Died: 19 March 1890
Buried: Fish Mountain Cemetery, Lake Pleasant, Hamilton Co., NY
Occupation: Farmer
Additional: at least 1 child with 1st wife (source)


Saturday, November 10, 2012


you want this.

this morning i saw this awesome map by jonah adkins.

it is a cartographic representation of sufjan stevens' illinois album, which i adore.

later on i am going to listen to the whole album and gawk at the map.

you should, too.


Friday, November 09, 2012

this is just too good

sorry for more election analysis, but this one is really, really good and it shows very clearly what really happened out there.

it does not go into the reasons; it just shows how the votes really stacked up and where the balance actually is, which is way cool.

see the whole thing here.


open letter to the republican party strategists

dear republican party strategists,

i am not writing this to gloat over election results.

okay, i am writing to gloat a little.

but only because against advice you decided to hand over a perfectly good political party to a bunch of ravening whack-a-doodles.

but here's the thing i want to talk with you about: you all seemed mystified- completely baffled by your losses in the recent elections and i heard more than one republican analyst tell us confidently that it was going to be an awesome win for you because america just doesn't have any self-identified liberals anymore and that everyone is all conservative and everything.

i heard more than one of you shake you head in disbelief as election returns trickled in. "how could this happen?" you asked each other. "there are no liberals out there".

well, there's no point in you acting all surprised about it. i think you created this problem yourself.

d'ya remember all those years when you started heaving the word "liberal" around like it was a word that meant at worst "traitorous baby-killing godless foreigner" and at best "loserly soft-in-the-head patsy"?

do you remember making the word an epithet so extreme that perfectly good liberals elbowed each other in the face while trying to dodge out of the way and call themselves something else?

people mostly didn't change their way of thinking; they just used different labels, labels that were more difficult for you to group together and track.

so when you called up random americans and asked them if the were conservatives or liberals and they understood you were asking are you conservatives or are you addlepated losers, very few people jumped up to say they were addlepated losers.

here's where you made your mistake, though: you believed your new polling data.

you redefined the labels and then you fell victim to your own backspin and believed poll results based on your stigmatized definition.

you can't use polling as both spin and information gathering. if you try to do that and you end up with bad information, there's no point acting all surprised about it later.

sorry about that.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

tides and maps

a few days ago while i was working on my geocaching logs, i was writing up an entry for this earthcache, which is about the differences of tides as they can be illustrated by the exposure of one particular sandbar in maine.

and i thought: wow. this would be so much awesomer if only someone would map all the data do we can look at trends.

you know, because i'm nerdy that way.

so here's my map:

View tidal earthcache in a larger map

you should probably view it in the larger version if you want to understand it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

why i was scared.

see here, this woman here and many like her are why it was terribly important for the party of angry shouting people not to get anywhere yesterday.

the video isn't embeddable and is definitely NSFW.

please remember this lady in 2016.

meanwhile, she's entertaining to listen to.

alternate realities

d'ya remember when john sununu said the republican party wasn't going to be bothered by "fact-checking"?

it seems to be a defining characteristic of the present-day formation of the republican party.

for instance, the denver post complied some interesting election predictions from republican commentators, which all had romney winning.

that was worth a giggle to me, because the site i follow and it's conservative data-driven counterpart both predicted an obama win at 303 electoral votes with a couple states still up in the air.

most of the election coverage i watched was from fox news, "america's election headquarters", where the implication, i guess is that if you're not a fox news follower, you're not a real american.

...which is sort of the impression you get from todd akin's concession speech, in that "americans believe" as he does.

but the thing i loved abotu the fox coverage watching karl rove insist loudly as the returns came in that this was all good news for governor romney and that the loss of pennsylvania didn't hurt his chances of winning at all because obviously everything else was falling into place just as they planned, which i think smacks of not letting facts get in your way.

but then the awesome moment came when fox news decided to go ahead and call the election for obama and karl rove exploded.

never mind the amazing failure to grasp actual facts, but let's address this: fox news was not awarding the election to anyone. they were simply reporting the news and even though fox news very much likes to deal in things that aren't true, at some point you can't continue to declare romney the winner as the actual facts keep coming in.

then there began fox new's awesome backpedaling and their attempts to explain away the loss:

romney lost because he didn't spend enough money.
he lost because he had bad campaign advice.
he lost because he was a victim of negative ads.
he lost because obama spent more money.
he lost because he didn't moderate his message early enough.
he lost because hurricane sandy gave free advertising to obama.
he lost because of liberal coverups.
he lost because some fact checkers ruined it.

there was no mention that he may have lost because enough of the american people just didn't like him, his politics, or his messages. there was very little talk of how the republican party might come more into the mainstream and not be so frightening to many of us. there was very little talk of the republican party's steady alienation of black and latino voters. there was no mention of the republican party's anti-woman agenda and how maybe those things aren't working for them.

their approach to politics is very like their approach to science: let's make up some stuff in line with our world views. we will not examine our world views if things go wrong, but we will insist louder than ever that we hold reality itself in contempt.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

precincts reporting

it's bothersome to me that the polls in vermont have been closed for a half hour and with ZERO percent of the precincts reporting, the news outlets have called our elections already. please, can you call the election based on SOME precincts reported? it's not a huge mystery to us because we live here, but still.

play along!

be obstructionist: VOTE.

sample ballot
this morning i went to vote.

but i get tired of having this argument with idiots:

they say they're not voting because they don't like the candidate choices, or that both parties are corrupted by business, or that one vote isn't going to bring about real change.

your excuse sucks. 

i don't like the candidate choices. i think both parties and government in general are corrupted by big money. i think the electoral system is broken. and i think that my one vote probably won't bring out any real change.

but tell me this, idiot smugly sitting at home not voting because "the government needs to be abolished and all my problems would be solved": what's your plan for an alternative?

what do you think will happen in the vacuum created by an abolished government while you sit home and watch tv and make snarky comments?

what's your realistic plan for abolishing the government? armed insurrection?

ok, that may be a viable plan, but it will require a great deal of planning and effort and you will not be able to bring it about by complaining on twitter.

and failing that goal of starting over from scratch in your magical happy perfect governmentless society that's going to spring up spontaneously out of nowhere, let's look at your claim that the government is hopelessly corrupted by big money and huge corporations and that voting won't stop it.

well, maybe if you vote you won't be able to stop it, but if you don't do anything more meaningful than making smug facebook updates about how you're not voting, you're really not presenting much in the way of an obstacle to those bastards, now, are you?

by removing yourself from the conversation all you are doing is letting them go right ahead and do the things you hate.

so can't you just trouble yourself to get out of your TV chair for a little while and go down to the polling place and maybe go on record about something?

because maybe you can't personally fix what's wrong with it, but you snarky auto-surrender does nothing but fulfill its own doom.

let's say for a moment that i agree with you and that government is bought and sold for cash and the voters are largely disenfranchised.

the people who wish for you to be disenfranchised, the people who buy and sell governments would like nothing better than for you to  keep your lazy ass at home and make smug blog posts, because it gives them carte blanche to run roughshod over you if you can't be bothered to at least go through the theater of speaking up.

make them at least have to make a show of explaining themselves.

get in their way.


Monday, November 05, 2012


i started out wanting to write a post on fracking. i also wanted to write one on wind turbines.

but the thing is you can't just talk about those things without talking about the other things. climate change. NIMBYism. environmental safety (which is different than but related to environmental conservation).

let's start with the wind power. i live in a state where there are a couple of wind projects and some contested wind projects and some companies that make wind power equipment. it's local politics for me.

and i found myself traveling on other people's landscapes and looking at the giant white wind turbines on their hilltops and skylines.

i thought they were beautiful. beautiful and practical.

but not everybody loves them.

if you go through a town like searsburg, VT, you will see signs that people here are still very angry about the wind project. they don't like the noise. they don't like their view spoiled. i think more than anything they don't like outsiders coming in and changing their landscape without their assent or control.

because let's face it, these pristine mountaintops everyone wants to protect? a hundred years ago theywere clear-cut logged out.

i've been looking at the ridge to the east of my house (and when i say east, i mean that i live right at the bottom of those mountains. it's a mile or two walk to the top) and i've been thinking how much i would enjoy the view from here if it had wind turbines on it.

my favored ski mountain has a wind turbine at the top that partially powers the resort, and i don't notice that i find the mountain less beautiful.

but a large scale wind project? i might feel different about that.

in searsburg, they're very much in favor of fracking and the keystone pipeline and keeping vermont yankee running.

a couple of years ago i found myself on a road up near the maple ridge wind farm. some people don't like them.

but while i was up there taking pictures, a couple of people stopped to ask me if i was lost. no, i was just looking for some geocaches. and taking pictures. and i told them that wind projects are controversial where i'm from  and wondered if they might tell me about how these projects are affecting their community?

what these people said was that this is agricultural land, and wind is a crop. the one guy said that when he hears the sound of the turbines, he thinks of that much more of an economic cushion if the price of milk falls again.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

in case of a tie

here's c.g.p. grey's explanation.

i think it's worth posting in case you hadn't seen it. i have nothing useful to add to it.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

open letter to the weather channel

dear the weather channel,

last thursday i signed up to receive weather channel alerts from your service because your new interactive map looked super cool and i thought: yes. i would like to receive daily emails about my local weather.

my first warning sign should have been that when i click the "help" button because i just want to know about one thing, it takes me to the really super video tour, which is awesome THE FIRST TIME. you know, if i want an overview of all the cool interactive features but then i couldn't actually interact with any feature that could simply answer specific "how do i..." questions.

then i ran into your super friendly and helpful interative trupoint™ location thingy and tried to save my town as a location.

turns out that because your computer has arbitrarily decided that it will use the zipcode of my address instead of my actual address, my only option is to use a town a dozen miles away and of very different elevation or to use the golf-specific forecast for the golf course nearest my house, neither of which are convenient or accurate for me, and certainly not interactive in a good way.

it's the kind of interactive where you ask for one thing that is supposedly on offer and the interaction consists of being given a thing you don't want.

here are things for you to choose!
i'll take this one.
ok, you get this thing.
but i don't want that thing. can i delete it?
no, but you can have two of them.
and here's a third thing i decided you should have.
i don't want any of them. can i delete them?
no. you have used those things most frequently. they are your favorites.
the only reason i used them more frequently is because you decided i should have them.
you like them.
what if i just type in a more accurate address closer to my home. you know, a location that's actually on your map?
ok, this is your new favorite location.
no, it's not! it's the same location i keep trying to delete!
you like it. it is what you want.
ok, please delete my account.
you will not be able to use any of our services.
yes, i know. delete my account.
but if you want to use our services you will have to sign up again.
yes. just delete the account.

in short, while this is technically interactive, it is not interactive in any pleasant way, so instead of using the weather channel's "interavtive trupoint™ map", i'll be looking for a weather map and maybe even some email alerts that are interactive in a way in which the company offering to show me weather for my location actually lets me pick my location.

i realize that the weather halfway between postal codes 05465 and 05477  isn't that critically different and in fact you're only reporting what comes off a weather station farther away and not located in either postal code, but if i'm going to sign up for an account so i can have the tiny pleasure of seeing my town's name on my weather map and the little pin thingie by my home, that's what i want.

i'll be getting my weather from any source but you in the future.


Friday, November 02, 2012

campsite entertainment

if you've been following the story a while you may recall that when i was in stratton, maine last may  i had an encounter with some of the locals. five days later when i returned to the same site in the evening,  it was occupied by pretty much the same crowd, so i went ahead and pulled in.

i knew it would be entertaining and i knew they wouldn't stay long.

and i asked one of the women: what's up with the fireworks? do you guys do this every clear night?

and she told me that fireworks were only made legal in maine THIS WEEK and one of the guys was so excited about it he went to new hampshire and bought a truckload of fireworks and when he got it all home he realized he had too much for the 4th of july, so they were setting them off on nice nights.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

climate change

i wanted to talk with you about energy (you know, because it's really important that both of you know what i think about it) but i realized that you can't really even have that conversation without talking about climate change, which is a separate although related thing.

first: climate change is real. there is a lot - and i mean a LOT- of scientific evidence to support this and also a great deal of anecdotal evidence as well. there are only two kinds of people who believe it's not happening: the willfully ignorant and the hopelessly stupid.

the issue of WHY it's happening and the related but different questions of whether anything can or should be done about it are somewhat more complex.

let's start here: geologists and paleontologists all know that the earth has at times been much, much warmer than it is now. and even in our recorded history there have been cycles of temperature change.

it is possible that our present warming trend is part of a general warming period taking place without any causation by us.

let's assume this is true. there's no real way to prove or disprove it, but let's just say it's true.

just because there's a global warming cycle going on independent of our action does not mean that we can't do things to accelerate and increase the process. just because there's a thing going on we can't stop or slow down does not mean we need to pile on and make it worse.

if i happen to have radon in my basement because i live on a granite deposit, there's no real need for me to start taking in nuclear waste.

for just a moment, let's assume bill mckibben is at least partly right. it's what i'm assuming in general, because part of what he says makes total sense to me and part of what he says still falls into the "i'm thinkin' 'bout it" category.

we know that our oceans are absorbing more and more carbon dioxide, resulting in changing ocean pH. this much is fact. we also know that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere has a high correlation with higher global temperature. also fact. we also know quite firmly that warmer global temperatures mean more water in the atmosphere, which means less water on the ground. we KNOW that ocean levels are rising and that glaciers are melting.

we think rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not just correlated with rising temperatures, but causative. we think more water in the atmosphere will lead to more drought on land and more severe weather. there are a lot of things we THINK may happen that range from the unpleasant to the downright deadly. we think we may be on the brink of another mass extinction.

we do not know, in this (our planet's sixth mass extinction that we know about) which species will survive or if one of the surviving species will be us.

let's just assume for a minute that all that global-warming-as-a-result-of-human-carbon-emissions stuff is true.

let's assume it's true because it gets me to the next point: a significant number of people just don't care.

here's a selection from the why of that:

  • apathy
  • jesus is coming SOON and the faithful needn't be concerned
  • the consequences come too far in the future to affect me personally
  • i assume that if it was really a problem, the government would take care of it
  • i make way too much money to care about future events 
  • doing anything about it would be too inconvenient or too hard

i imagine there are other reasons not to care, but that i think covers most of the main concepts. here's the thing, though: it's a pretty sweet little planet and this is a pretty nice gig we have for ourselves in a biological niche that includes actually being able to modify our environment, what with power tools and information technology and the ability to make fire and stuff.

and the planet, of course, is in no danger. the planet will be just fine if it gets a lot warmer and we lose biodiversity and the ocean levels rise and coastal real estate markets crash because the coasts have moved. the planet will be just fine it there's no fresh water for us to drink, or if there are no clams for the clam bar anymore because the oceans are too acidic for the little buggers to make shells.

the planet will be just fine. the planet was fine before we showed up and it will be fine after we're gone.

maybe it's oversentimental to care about what the planet will be like after our own lifetime, but i prefer to think that we might extend this pretty sweet gig we've got as long as we can, and it's possible that the choices we make now about environmental change will not be reversible and we're not choosing for ourselves but for some other, future people and it will suck to be them.

so if you're going to talk about energy and "energy dependence" you can't just talk about how you're going to keep the prices of gasoline and heating oil and electricity down. you also have to talk about the environmental costs of shale oil or natural gas or wind farms or what have you and it's stupid and dangerous not to consider the separate but related possibilities.


Related Posts with Thumbnails