Gears and Dials, True Results

If you’ve ever harbored doubts about the reliability of touch-screen voting machines, then Clive Thompson’s article in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine will turn those doubts into certainty. Thompson spends thousands of words lambasting the touch-screen machines, their makers, and the local elections boards that purchased them. Near the end, Thompson puts forth an alternative system that has proven far more reliable in the past than touch-screen machines: optical scan ballots. In the interest of postulating diverse solutions to an important problem, I offer this: Continue reading “Gears and Dials, True Results”

Sports Do Not Matter

The reverberations from the Mitchell Report released last month will be felt for some time in professional baseball. One of the most prolific offensive eras in baseball history, one in which personal performance soared and the records associated with it fell, has now been tainted. In a sport that maintains a direct connection to its century-long history through its statistics, its holy numbers, anything which could damage the validity of those numbers threatens the very integrity of the sport. The report contained few surprises, but it set forth in writing just how widespread the use of performance-enhancing drugs had become in the major leagues. Most compellingly, the report named names. Continue reading “Sports Do Not Matter”

Jackasses at the Helm, Oval Office Thunderdome

Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, and Dennis Kucinich, all Democratic candidates for president, have withdrawn from the January 15th Michigan primary. The reason? Michigan violated Democratic National Committee rules by moving its primary forward of February 5th. In addition, all the Democratic candidates, including the frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, have vowed not to campaign in Florida for identical reasons. The DNC itself has added injury to insult, vowing that no delegates from the two states will be seated at the party’s nominating convention in Denver next year if the states go through with their early primaries. All this begs the question: Have the Democrats gone insane? Continue reading “Jackasses at the Helm, Oval Office Thunderdome”

In the City, the New Immigrants

The beeping had gone on for days. Once every minute. Loud. It hadn’t bothered me at first. I noticed it during lunch. Later that day the beeping was still there, and I left the living room, retreated to my bedroom. It was strange. The only time I could remember when my bedroom was more peaceful than my living room. I’m not being a pig. Swear. My bedroom faces the street. The living room is nestled in the middle of my apartment. It’s a sanctuary, a place of peace from the noise of the street, a great buffer of contentment, and rarely was there disturbance. But that damn beeping. It was regular, dependable, and loud, in every negative and annoying way a sound could be. But after that first night, I forgot it. Parked in front of the machine, the living room took a back seat. Less living there than there should have been. But that’s the way in the age of technology, right? Continue reading “In the City, the New Immigrants”

Please, Not Another One

The man in the Oval Office smiles. The great coup in the Bush administration this past week was the visit to New York by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A man who was elected, yet rules by permission from the Mullahs in Qom, came to this country and caught nothing but flak. From the right, from the left, did not matter. He received an invitation to speak at Columbia University, and in return for accepting this invitation, was greeted with a profoundly insulting introduction by Columbia’s President Lee C. Bollinger. Bollinger, after catching flak of his own throughout the week for extending the invitation to Ahmadinejad, felt it necessary to repulse that criticism with such choice sentiments from the podium as, “Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” and, referring to Ahmadinejad’s statements regarding the Holocaust, “You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.” Free speech remains safe for us all. Continue reading “Please, Not Another One”

An Ugly Tactic for an Ugly War

From the category labeled “Be Careful What You Wish For,” the Washington Post reported on Monday that some Army snipers have been baiting targets. The snipers were given such objects as AK-47 ammunition and wire that could be used in bombs by troops from the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group to place in conspicuous spots around a target area. The snipers would then hide and wait for anyone to pick up the materials. Those that did were greenlit and were engaged by the snipers. It’s not clear at this point how many Iraqis have been killed using such tactics, or if the baiting is an ongoing program. What is clear is the visceral nastiness of such an idea. But, send an army to war, and they will find creative ways to not only kill, but also identify, and perhaps create, targets. Continue reading “An Ugly Tactic for an Ugly War”

Jackasses at the Helm, Part Two

A strange thing happened this past January. The inauguration of the new Democratic majority should have been a cold day for the Iraq War hawks in the Republican Party and the White House. The Democrats rode a wave of discontent about the war to victory in the midterm elections of 2006. There was much high rhetoric and bold pronouncements that the end, if not all that near, was at least foreseeable. Continue reading “Jackasses at the Helm, Part Two”

One Giant Leap Backwards

Today, the X Prize Foundation announced its latest competition, the Google Lunar X Prize. In a follow-up to 2004’s Ansari X Prize, which was awarded to a team that successfully launched a privately funded suborbital manned flight, the foundation would seem to be raising the bar. The finish line in this latest competition is the moon itself, the conditions calling for a robotic rover, similar in concept to those exploring Mars today, to land on the moon, travel more than 500 meters, and transmit high definition video and images back to earth. No easy task. The $25 million prize more than likely will not cover the cost of development and execution of a successful mission, but it has never been the goal of the X Prize to make money for the competitors. Instead, the competitions are meant to foster innovation and development, leading to the betterment of mankind. That being said, the Google Lunar X Prize does none of this. Continue reading “One Giant Leap Backwards”