The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, Debtember 01, 2016

Meow meow meow meow …

Ah, Debtember 1st! Time once again for missing National Novel Generation Month.

I never did come up with decent idea for a generated novel. And I never did get around to doing that English As She Is Spoke idea. I could have written a program to write the word “meow” 50,000 times, and while it's within the letter of the rules it does feel like cheating. Then again, this year's submissions were not up to the caliber of last year's submissions. Perhaps the idea of computer generated novels has run its course? Who knows?

There's always next year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

“I find the lack of six-fold symmetry disturbing”

I arrive to my office at work only to find some seasonal decorations have been hung about the room. On the window was this “snowflake”:

[This mutant red snowflake is an abomination!  An Abomination I say!]

I know of no snowflake that is red (yellow yes, but not red) nor has five-fold symmetry. I have to wonder if the person who hung this has ever seen snow …

Saturday, November 26, 2016

And here I thought Saint Nicholas was supposed to be larger than life

Bunny and I went shopping for a Christmas tree, and at the tree lot, I saw this:

[You must be at least this high to buy a Christmas Tree.  Really?  Height restrictions on purchasing a Christmas Tree?]

I was a bit surprised. I would have thought Kris Kringle to be taller, to tell the truth. Five and a half feet? That's pretty short for a Storm Trooper Santa Claus.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Presidential Predictions II

A decade ago, I linked to An Algorithm for Determining the Winners of U.S. Presidential Elections and I thought it might be interesting to see if it still has predictive power (whether that's a Good Idea™ or a Really Bad Idea™ remains to be seen).

So, here we go:

Presidential electability of the candidates for President in 2016
TicketPresidentRepresentativeGovernorOtherTotal
Trump/Pence 0/00/100/3-110 (Divorced)/--97
Clinton/Kaine0/00/0 0/4-110 (Lobbying Organization)/--106

Looks like we get the Howling Monkey by 9 points!


It's really just turned into one long, ever extending, dark national nightmare by now

Ah, Election Day! The end of our long, dark, national nightmare is finally over! We now can look forward to a short, dark, national nightmare until January 20th, quickly followed by a very long, dark, four year long national nightmare election season leading up to Election Night 2020! Woo hoo!

Kidding aside, I would love to see the following changes to our national elections to spare us the “national nightmare” feel:

  1. Limit Presidential campaigns to the year of election only.

    No more two year (or even four year) election cycles. There is no reason for a Presidential election requiring more than eleven months to run (and even there, I'me being generous). Personally, I'd like for it to be even shorter, but I will concede that there should be some time prior to the Conventions.

    But yes, eleven months, tops. Starts in January, ends second Tuesday of November.

  2. No pre-results until all polling stations across the entire country have closed.

    And yes, if that means results aren't announced until 2:00 am Eastern due to Alaska and Hawaii, then so be it. It must really suck to be voting for President in those two states, because by the time the voting stops there, the Main Stream Media has pretty much already called (and possibly swayed) the results.

    This should also put an end to exit polls. We don't need to know who's elected this instant! We can wait a day. I mean, how did we survive Presidential elections a hundred years ago?

    Oh, and any TV or radio station that announce results early will have their broadcasting license revoked by the FCC. Make it really hurt for violators.

  3. The Electoral College needs to be addressed.

    The current system (48 out of 50 states) of “winner take all” is not good. Outside of abolishing it (requiring a Constitutional Amendment and the mess that takes) there are two methods I see to make it a bit better:

    1. Apportion electoral votes per popular vote in the state. That means, if one candidate gets 60% of the popular vote in a state, that candidate will get 60% of that state's electoral votes. This currently happens in two states (Nebraska and Maine).
    2. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is another solution (whereby the states will award their electoral votes to the overall winner of the national popular vote), but it's one I would only feel good about if all states followed this and not just enough states to give 270 electoral votes.

    Or, you know, we could keep the current system, as hated as it is.

  4. Congress could grow a spine and claw back Executive (President) overreach.

    Congress has over time let the Executive Branch take more and more power. If Congress grew a backbone and learned to say “No” then the Office of the President wouldn't be quite so powerful as it is today. Congress write the law, not the President. Then it would matter a bit less who was President, like a goat for instance.

  5. Ban the 24-hour news cycle.

    Not strictly necessary it is something I wish for though.

    And the lack of a 24-hour news cycle could only help.

A wish list for sure. But it would be nice not to have to endure a multiyear national nightmare every four years.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

What? Me, worry?

The most important presidential election in American history was the fourth presidential election. Against this there can be no argument.

The election of 1860 resulted in a four-year referendum where the surrogates of the winner and his opponents gathered together in large groups and fired muskets at each other. The election of 1876 undid much of the great work of that four-year referendum and consigned many of the subjects of that referendum and their offspring to 90 years of not being able to enjoy the fruits of that particular hard-won victory.

The election of 1800 was still more important.

The election of 1932 was an existential question about to what extent the federal government should step in to assist in times of economic crisis. The outcome of that election gave us nothing less than the New Deal. The New Deal, in turn, gave us Glass-Steagall, the FDIC, the SEC, Social Security, legalized unions, took us off the gold standard, gave us a ton of organizations that functioned as the government giving people money for shit, and probably did a bunch of other stuff I’m totally forgetting.

Oh, hell, it even ended prohibition, improbably enough.

The election of 1800 was still more important.

The election of 1800 was nothing less than a referendum on the question, “Do we actually want to do this democracy thing anymore?”

The Election of 1800 Was Way More Important Than This One

With the election a week away, it's important to keep perspective. This isn't the end of America. We're still here after Bush II. We're still here after Obama and if Congress (who's approval rating is still lower than any of the Presidential Candidates, by the way) would step up and do their job instead of ceding power to the President, we could sleep easier at night knowing that the septuagenarian reptilian criminal about to take office won't do much damage.

It's also important to keep in mind that no matter how low this election campaign has been, there have been worse.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

I should have known better than to look up Nostradamus on the Intarwebs …

Ah, November 1st! Time once again for National Novel Generation Month.

I don't have a decent idea for this month. I've already done the Markov Chain, and the two chatbots fighting it out (which included writing a partial clone of MS-DOS to run one of the participants). Where do I go from there?

A quick idea I had was a cross of Time Cube with the prophecies of Nostradamus. The downside is that Time Cube already reads like a computer generated conspiracy rant and Nostraudamus … nojust no

Sigh.

I always have my fall back of English As She Is Spoke approach if nothing else comes up.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Notes about an overheard conversation about the finer points of gardening about the house

“Sweetums?”

“Yes?”

“Could you do me a favor?”

“Sure.”

“You know the bougainvillea out front?”

“Um … ”

“The large bush with the purple flowers?”

“Oh, yes. That bougainvillea.”

“I couldn't reach the top branches to trim them off. Could you finish trimming it for me?”

“Sure.”

“The gloves and clipper are on the table saw in the garage.”

“Okay … ow! Ouch! Ow! Ow! XXXX! XXXX! XXXXXXXXX!”

“Everything okay?”

“Why do bougainvilleas need spikes? One just went through my shoe!”

[And this is one of the smaller thorns on the darned things (and it's 3.5cm for those of you who are metrically savvy)]

”Is your foot bleeding?”

“Um … no … ”

“That's good. You won't need a tetanus shot.”

“What? Aaah! Again, why does this bougainvilla need spikes anyway?”

“Well … you know … protection from predators.”

Predators? What? Here? In Boca? Predators?

“Yes.”

“What, is a giraffe just going to stroll down the street, see the bougainvillea and think ‘That bougainvillea bush is too spikey to eat. I shall mosey on down the road for less thorny fare.’?”

“You don't see any giraffes around here, do you? And because the giraffes aren't interested in this bush and stay away, that keeps the lions away. Thus, protection from predators.”

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

Obligatory Picture

[Don't hate me for my sock monkey headphones.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

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