Friday, July 4, 2008

A list of everything's that on my desk right now, in no particular order

22-inch LCD monitor
MacBook Pro (closed)
bluetooth keyboard (in use)
bluetooth mouse (not in use)
USB mouse (in use)
Computer speakers x2
1/3 full cup of coffee
three coasters
small stack of business cards I've been meaning to file
two 500GB external HDs
USB hub
iPod connector
Richard Rorty's Philosophy and Social Hope
one empty bottle of Twilight Ale
one mostly full box of Triscuits
one unused butter knife
ear buds
fine point Sharpie
$15 (one 5 and one 10)
mostly full tin of Altoids
one burned CD (Giants Citizen Kabuto Disc 1; it doesn't work)
empty plastic water bottle
crumpled receipt from Fred Meyer
two AA batteries in a small plastic case
the power pack for the MacBook charger

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Who Knew?

CASA GRANDE, AZ -- Today, Dennis Dugan formally announced his candidacy for Pinal County Supervisor in District 3.

Found via Whozat, which I heard about here.

Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein on freedom and music

Major kudos to Carrie Brownstein for the Stiff Little Fingers reference.

And yes, it's a light post. But I like SLF, so check it out =)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I've been wordled:

Click the picture to make it bigger.

(The code given to me by the world site did not work, so I had to do it this way.)

Update: As my intrepid commenter base notes, Wordle only uses the last several posts, or perhaps the main page, to generate the cloud, meaning this is a representation of what I've been blogging about recently. I wish it was comprehensive...

When having a memory pays off

Clark’s remark: So?

On the networks and cable TV, the flap over a remark by Wesley Clark shows just how shallow and vacant our politics has become.


All he said was that wartime courage and senatorial experience were not enough to qualify McCain for president. Everybody knows that.


Clark is a politician who made a commonplace point. That’s all he did. (hh)

Good on Hering.

Blast from the past

While looking for information on the MIME website for work, I ran across a familiar face:


I wonder how he's doing...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I need waders, it's so deep


The 2008 presidential contest is turning into the same old thing, the thing we’ve had every four years for generations, which is disappointing. But there’s a way to rescue it, if only Barack Obama would grab the chance.

The growing sameness comes from the candidates themselves and their supporters. It comes from the attention on money and who can raise how much from whom. It also comes from the campaign promises by the candidates, especially the policy statements that change depending on which group they are addressing. And the growing sense of sameness also comes from the nasty tone that the campaigns have adopted in statements about each other.

All this could be overcome and pushed into the background if Obama changed his mind and agreed to the suggestion by John McCain that the two candidates meet in a series of town hall-type meetings between now and the fall.

Wow. All of that? The entire way the campaign is being run could change if only Obama would agree to a series of town-hall meetings?

Who knew?

A short note on criticism (with apologies to faris for my sloppy use of language)

For me, criticism of something can be divided into two general camps:

1) Criticism regarding whether or not the process is working. For example, the utter failure of the U.S. government to maintain the physical infrastructure of the country, as noted by the bridge collapse in Minnesota, the Katrina levees, and what's starting to come out about the state of the infrastructure in Iowa. These are failures of following through on what is generally understood as the responsibility of the government. Most people agree on the goals and process; what the disagreement tends to be about is whether or not they are being properly carried out.

2) Criticism of the idea or principle behind something. Continuing on the same topic, an example of this would be a wingnut asking whether or not the government should even be in the business of maintaining public facilities like roads, schools, sewer systems, etc. In other words, it's questioning the usefulness of a practice in general.

I bring this up, yes, because of my recent posts regarding the GT and the OSU CoE rankings. In this case, I see the GT as having failed to do an understood part of their job: Sourcing a fact, and, where appropriate, providing context (like the fact that OSU is defining their own metric). I don't see myself as asking the GT to do something different in principle - I'm not criticizing journalism or reporting per se, but more how it was carried out (or not carried out) in this case.

What do all four of my readers think, either about the GT example specifically or the idea of viewing criticisms in this way in general?

Why I care about journalism, the short version

A few people have asked me why I'm so into this whole OSU College of Engineering ranking thing. One reason is the simple fact that OSU is being disingenuous insofar as they are not necessarily broadcasting the fact that the ranking Ron Adams gives out is determined by... Ron Adams!

The other reason - and the ostensible point of this post - is that I care about journalism, and I see the GT as having fallen down on this one.

1) The free flow and dissemination of information is, I believe, paramount to the functioning of any kind of democracy - direct, radical, representative, faux, etc. People cannot make good decisions without knowledge. (Note that this does not lead directly to the necessity of newspapers, or even journalism as we currently understand it. Also note that knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition for good decision-making.)

2) Journalism is one (historically contingent) way to spread information. I am not blind to the fact that media consolidation, capitalism and the Internet have wreaked havoc on the practice and economic feasibility of, say, newspapers. Neither am I blind to the fact that this is not entirely a bad thing, as providing new channels for the distribution of information (blogs, indymedia) has been awesome. Neither am I blind to the fact that corporate overlords like Lee Enterprises are hurting what I would consider the practices of good journalism as much as they are supporting the existence of newspapers.

3) That said, I still think there is a role for the practice of professional journalism. I would like to see professional journalism continue, as I still think it can play a large part of the role of spreading information, and thus in maintaining some semblance of the ability to make informed decisions (even if the idea that America is actually democratic is laughable, which it is).

4) Ergo, I am concerned when I see the GT do something that does not follow what I understand to be good journalistic practice. To be honest, I am surprised others are not as concerned.

Monday, June 30, 2008

OSU's internal College of Engineering ranking system

Look what I found:

Innovation capacity metric = 40 x (number of BS degrees/average number of BS degrees for top25) + 10 x (number of MS degrees/average number of MS degrees for top 25) + 20x (PhD degrees/average number of PhD degrees for top 25) + 30 x (research expenditures/average research expenditures for top 25)

As was pointed out to me, there is no mention of quality here. In fact, there is no mention of anything besides "more" - more students pushed through and more research dollars spent, with no way to take in to account quality of education or success/type of research.

In other words, it's not a very good standalone measure of the quality of a College of Engineering. It's a decent measure of productivity alone, but that's it. Also note: It says nothing about the faculty.

Second, the Corvallis Gazette-Times made a few mistakes on this one (as I not-so-subtly insinuated here). It has printed a number claiming to be the ranking of the CoE based on this metric at least once, if not twice (and in the second case, you don't even want to know where the writer of that piece initially claimed to have gotten the number for OSU's CoE ranking; it's all I can do not to post it, it's so unprofessional). In neither case did the GT even bother to mention where OSU's supposed ranking came from. That was mistake number one - sourcing a number like that should have been a no-brainer.

Mistake number two happened in at least the first case: If the GT knew that OSU was using an internally-devised number (and I have reason to believe they did), they should have asked how the metric was devised, and upon figuring that out, spent a sentence or two noting that - even in an article about the death of Martin Kelley.

I'll be honest: I don't actually get frustrated with the GT very often. It's got a pretty low reputation among almost everyone I know not in journalism circles, and I usually find myself defending the paper. Not today.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Completely coincidentally, filed under "things that caused me no end of angst as a teenager."

Richard Rorty, from Philosophy and Social Hope, page 19:

I take this near unanimity among my critics to show that most people - even a lot of purportedly liberated postmodernists - still hanker for something like what I wanted when I was 15: a way of holding reality and justice in a single vision

Oh, was that ever me.

Continuing on directly:

More specifically, they want to unite their sense of moral and political responsibility with a grasp of the ultimate determinants of our fate. They want to see love, power and justice as coming together deep down in the nature of things, or in the human soul, or in the structure of language, or somewhere. They want some sort of guarantee that their intellectual acuity, and those special ecstatic moments which that acuity sometimes affords, are of some relevance to their moral convictions. They still think that virtue and knowledge are somehow linked - that being right about philosophical matters is important for right action. I think this is important only occasionally and incidentally.

I like Rorty already. Thanks, JAO.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.