Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's a job.

This is what Dear Mr. Supercomputer does for a living (watch the accompanying video). And these kids really make us look good.

They created the golf course you see in the video in DMS's class, among other things.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Audacity of Standing in the Rain for Hours

Usually this kind of mass-hookie and frivolity in Austin is reserved for a special weekend in September. But yesterday, over 21,000 Austinites and Texans witnessed history Democrat Presidential hopeful Barack Obama paid the Lone Star State a visit and Dear Mr. Supercomputer had to be there. The mass hysteria and hype surrounding the Obama campaign was too much to pass up. So DSM skipped work, grabbed a couple friends, and headed down to Town Lake to take in the energy and excitement.

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12:00 PM. We were all encouraged by the Obama people to take public transportation to the event. Makes sense since parking downtown is near impossible. And bus-people are way more interesting than normal people.

12:25 PM. We arrive at auditorium shores and already there’s a large contingent of people even though Obama isn’t going to be appearing for another three hours. By the way, you know you’re not 26 anymore when you are as excited about a political event as you are for a concert festival.

1:45. So maybe the festival comment was apropos. Some band called The Heathens are playing roots rock to the group of youthful political activists. I’m pretty convinced this is 100 times more people than the Heathens have ever played for. And probably a trillion times more black people than the Heathens have ever played for.

Seriously, say what you want about Obama’s inexperience, but this is easily the most racially diverse crowd that you could possible imagine, much less assemble, in Austin. I cannot imagine Mitt Romney being able to bridge racial divides like Obama is apparently able to do. Is that enough to warrant a vote? Honestly, maybe.

2:10. As the Heathens exit stage right, they are replaced by Cyril Neville and his band who migrated to Austin after Hurricane Katrina. He’s wearing a shirt that says “Ethnic Cleansing in New Orleans.” This should be fun.

2:45. It is fun. The Neville band is so fun it almost makes you forget that you came to hear a Democrat make a speech. It starts to rain a bit off and on, but luckily we have “Obama ‘08” signs to shield our carefully disheveled hair from the precipitation.

3:00. Cyril Neville finishes up. We are all anxiously awaiting The Arrival. I wonder if people would be this excited to see John Edwards. (that was a joke)

3:10. OBAMA IS IN THE HOUSE!!!! Major energy. Major excitement. Lots of sign waving. Lots of “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” chants. Camera’s going off like crazy. Ash suggests that we’re about to have a Beatlemania-like epidemic of girls passing out.

3:15. Barack is genuinely impressed by the crowd. “Unbelievable” he utters several times. Let’s compare: ~15,000 at his official announcement rally in his home state of Illinois vs. 22,000 at a rally in the deep South. Hell yeah, Austin!

3:20-4:15. The speech is pretty much what you’d expect. He hits all the high points of things that Democrats are going to be saying over the next year and a half: energy independence, support for schools, universal health care, and of course, stopping the war in Iraq. The highlight for Dear Mr. Supercomputer is Obama’s discourse on Dick Cheney: that he said we’d be greeted as liberators, that he said that the insurgency was in it’s last throes, and that he probably said it was going to be sunny in Austin today. Fucking brilliant. So much so that Dear Mr. Supercomputer can’t help but exclaim, “Dick Cheney is a prick!”

(As an aside, in Cobra II about the Iraq War, Cheney is dubbed, “the most powerful vice president in history.” It’s probably true too. I think Obama referred to Cheney more than president Bush, which should blow your mind.)

4:16. Then it happened. After he finishes his speech, Obama begins shaking hands with all the supporters there. He’s getting closer. Closer. There’s a push towards his direction. He’s shaking hands. Shaking hands. He hugs the person directly in front of me. He reaches out to the dozens of outstretched hands and….

I GET CURED OF MY PARALYSIS!!

OK, not really, but he squeezed like three hands at once, one of them being the hand of Dear Mr. Supercomputer. I can barely move.

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My only regret is that he only briefly mentioned American energy independence. Clearly energy independence isn’t as galvanizing as the war in Iraq, though in DMS’s opinion, as or more important in the long run. Obama did touch on it, astutely suggesting that “we are supporting both sides of the War on Terror” due to our oil guzzling ways. And that he refers to the current regime’s “lack of an energy policy.” I hope as time goes by the Obama campaign will lay out a comprehensive energy policy that will allow us to be energy independent within 30 years.

While DSM isn’t ready to give a full endorsement a year and a half before the presidential election, it’s hard to imagine desiring to vote for anyone else. While Obama is surely inexperienced as far as Washington goes, isn’t that a good thing?

(Update: Major props to Hans Klinger, spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas for getting douchebag-of-the-month for his statement about the event:

From the Austin American Statesman:
“Not every politico is intrigued. Hans Klingler, spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas, likened the hubbub to preparations for Austin's annual celebration of Eeyore, a character from A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" stories. Austin "famously celebrates the birthday of a donkey from a children's book every year," he said, "so this sort of makes sense."”)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

In Another Life, I Work for The Onion

But in this one, I'm not nearly as witty as they.

One of the funniest Onion articles in the past few months.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wait, Wait, Wait, Wait....

I hate to detract from the previous post, but..... Rudy Giuiliani was married to his second cousin?!!
The Revolution Will Be Blogged

As I'm reading through and coming to grips with The World is Flat, Dear Mr. Supercomputer will wrestle with what "Globalization 3.0" means for all aspects of life. Perhaps it's not the most logical place to start (or maybe it's the perfect place to start), but I'd like to bring attention to Josh Wolf, who just recently broke the record for a journalist being imprisoned for refusing to divulge privileged material.

As a quick intro for those unfamiliar with the story, Wolf is a video blogger. His website can be found here. He taped footage from an anarchist's (unpermited) protest. The Feds wanted the raw footage so as to charge one of the protesters with arson, based on the fact that a policeman's car was damaged. Since the car is partially paid for by federal dollars, the Feds subpoenaed Wolf for the footage.

Josh Wolf refused and is now serving time.

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Regardless of what you think of Josh Wolf, the World is Flat question is this: what information, in this new, flat world is privileged? Could Dear Mr. Supercomputer be subpoenaed one day for something posted here? What if I think about gerrymandering again and say something awful about Texans for a Republican Majority again? Will the ghost of Tom Delay come for me in my sleep? Could one of you leave a comment and have to answer to that in court one day?

The advent of the blog is just one of the many undiscovered countries that we simply do not know how to deal with yet when it comes to this new, flat world.

Seriously, can you imagine posting a picture or a video or even text on the Internet one day and the next morning you wake up an the FBI is knocking on your door (which is exactly how they came for Wolf)?

Here at Dear Mr. Supercomputer, I hope to engage in a discussion (usually between me, Baby Supercomputer, and the voices in my head) of this new, flat world and the conflicts it will create in the near term. The primary concern of most Americans is outsourcing of their jobs, which we'll get to. But perhaps this story of some independent blogger getting hauled off to jail is as good a place to start as any.
Author Thomas Friedman posits a question in his book: Where were you when you realized the world was flat? If you hadn't yet, you were right here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Revisiting Bush v. Gore, 2000

In 2004, Mrs. Supercomputer and Mr. Supercomputer got into a very heated argument about the Presidential election between Democrat Senator and sad-sack John Kerry, eventual winner and Letterman/Stewart fodder incumbent George W. Bush, and then the third through fifth party candidates, Ralph Nader, David Cobb, Michael Bednarik and probably someone else that you've never heard of.

It was Mrs. Supercomputer's contention that the candidate you vote for should be nearly absolute in your support. It was Mr. Supercomputer's contention that you should be willing to make concessions and, in some cases, vote for the "lesser of two evils." We both knew that our votes from Texas meant very little on the national scale. The only way Bush would have lost Texas is if he pissed on the Alamo or something. And even then...

But beneath our convictions was another point of contention: should you vote according to principal or vote for what you think would practically benefit the country (and world) most. It was Mrs. Supercomputer that an anti-war candidate was the only way she could vote. And since Mr. Supercomputer shares similar, if not identical, views he should vote similarly. However, Mr. Supercomputer voted in a pragmatic mindset. Mr. Supercomputer looked at the Supreme Court and saw that Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist was at death's door, and that the next four years could result in multiple Supreme Court vacancies in addition to the Chief Justice opening.

The thought of George W. Bush being able to stack the court with his own brand of neo-conservative justices was as frightening to Dear Mr. Supercomputer as the threat of terrorism. There's no telling what kind of appointees he would put forth.

So, once the Mr. and Mrs. began discussing our votes and, well, let's just say it was a long night.

As it turns out, Mr. Supercomputer's fears were greatly exaggerated. John Roberts seems to be doing a nice job. And apparently George Bush was too much of a liberal when he nominated Harriet Miers. And even if Bush had nominated DMS's worst fears, DMS should have considered history first.

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Hugo Black was a reformed Klansman who became the Court's greatest champion of Civil Rights. Sandra Day O'Connor was nominated by the president who helped politicize the religious right and she ended up being as centrist as anyone. But the value of a lifetime appointment is, I believe, characterized best in Rehnquist.

The Supreme Court Chief Justice was highly critical of two decisions made by an earlier court: Roe v. Wade and Miranda vs. Arizona. Yet, when presented with opportunities to overturn both decisions, he abided by precedent.

So that should give us all hope that justices can exercises restraint in their own political views.

Except....

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For all of the grousing by conservatives about the judicial activism throughout the Civil Rights movement and criminal rights cases such as Miranda, there is probably no better example of judicial activism in Bush v. Gore which determined, as it turns out, well, everything that's happened in the past six years.

The Supreme Court reached down into Florida and told them that they weren't allowed to recount their votes anymore, despite the last recorded margin of victory for Bush being just 327 votes.

327.

327 votes.

There are so many ways this blows my mind, I'll try to stay on the subject at hand: the Supreme Court.

Anyway, the Supreme Court said that a recount was unconstitutional since A) all the counties weren't abiding by the same recount standards (debated), and B) there just wasn't enough time.

How did Rehnquist and all the other justices vote? That's right: not with political restraint, but just the opposite. They all voted according to the party of the president who nominated them. A straight party ticket for a Court that prides itself on being impervious to political sway thanks to their lifetime appointments.

Six years later, think about how different the world is because of Bush v. Gore. It's hard to overstate the gravity of that decision. And sure, while a favorable decision for Gore would have not ensured his presidential victory, we'll never know.

No Child Left Behind. The Iraq War. $1.3 trillion of tax cuts. The rejection of Kyoto. "You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie."

I don't know if the country and the world would be better off with Gore. But the Rehnquist Court, which prided itself on judicial restraint and states' rights, threw those values out the window in 2000 with Bush v. Gore.

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It was this thought in my mind that caused DMS to vote for "the lesser of two evils" and compromise some of my beliefs in favor of avoiding a packing of the Supreme Court with politicized neo-conservatives. I'm still not sure that was the correct decision. But in my opinion Bush v. Gore was clearly was not.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

And the current leader in this weekend's vitriol is...



OK, so I haven't A) read more than 100 pages in The World is Flat, B) watched War Photographer (I ended watching Season 3 of Arrested Development. I have a problem.), or C) spent much time on my application to get my "I'm a Bad-Ass Teacher" Certificate.

So the target of my rant is Guinness Draught. While it's kind of by default, let's not kid ourselves: this is how beer would taste if you ran it through your car's motor. It's like a beer-latte with all that foam. Only you don't get a rush of energy afterwards, but you do get the weird stomach problems for hours. Seriously, I had a coffee with cream at 8:00 and the Guinness at 9:00. They pretty much tasted the same, except the Guinness made me want to throw up.

Look, I like the dark beers and all, but this is going too far. It's like they took Newcastle Brown, washed their bodies with it, removed all the carbonation, and put it in a can with one of those paint-can shaker thingies.

If you're asking why I bought it in the first place, well, it was on sale. And I thought I'd give it another try. I'd only had it like once at a bar and had a similar reaction to it. And I have a friend who drinks Guinness exclusively (he's the scraggly looking one with the facial hair and the blue mittens). Look, you're not supposed to be able to chew your beer. I wonder if this is what brought down the IRA.

(Update: Never ever, under any circumstances, drink two Guinnesses in one night. Ever. Are we clear on that?)

Friday, February 02, 2007

You've been warned.

This weekend Dear Mr. Supercomputer has on tap the following:
  • Book: Cobra II: The Inside Story on the Iraq War.
  • Book: The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century
  • Movie: War Photographer
  • Application: National Board of Certified Teachers
  • Football Game: Super Bowl XLI
  • Beer: Guinness

Surely, this weekend will not have gone by without an expletive laced rant about something. I can't say what. I can't say when. But it'll probably happen. And it won't be pretty. Don't say you weren't warned.

(This will get things started: The ugliest sports jersey conceivable.



I mean, seriously. Would you ever be caught in something like this? Would you let your children wear this?)