Jim Moran’s Town Hall Meeting

I recorded about half of Jim Moran’s town hall meeting from C-SPAN Tuesday night and just finished watching it.  Am I missing something, or are these things a total waste of time?  Have they always been this animated or is this a recent development?

It looked to me like average Americans were severely under-represented in the town hall audience.  (By which I mean, people who get up and go to work every day and don’t spend all their time actively engaged in changing public opinion.)  Everyone in attendance looked like a Democratic or Republican activist there for the sole purpose of getting on camera with a sign or getting their hands on a microphone so they could deliver their “message.”  Nobody was the slightest bit interested in “debate.”  Certainly nobody was going to change their opinion on health care reform because of that meeting.

I thought Jim Moran missed some opportunities to nail some questioners.  One woman, clearly opposing health care reform, said something like, “I have friends in France (or wherever) on socialized healthcare and trust me, it isn’t working.” She was playing to the crowd, which responded by erupting in applause for like an hour.  (Most of the questioners seemed to enjoy the attention they got.)  I would have liked to see Moran respond to her with some tough questions like, “What isn’t working? Why isn’t it working? What were your friends doing?”  Because you know that woman would have stumbled and bumbled and been all like, “um.. well.. you know.. I didn’t really ask them.. but it definitely wasn’t working so just shut up you damn socialist!”

One questioner (a supporter, I think) spoke great wisdom when he chastised the media for emphasizing the controversy surrounding the bill instead of the substance and policies of the bill itself.  I would hope that all political parties could band together and agree with that.  (If not, then there’s definitely no hope for America.)

I thought it was interesting that you could see tons of people running around with their little cell phone cameras taking pictures and video all over the place.  (Based on the number of videos on YouTube afterward, I would estimate that roughly half the crowd was there just to record and post it.)  Everyone’s still looking for the elusive video clip that’s going to dominate the news and drive public opinion.

It was enlightening (in a disturbing sort of way).  Jim Moran and Howard Dean handled themselves pretty well considering the general unrest.  But overall I think America would be much better off if people did a lot less talking and a lot more listening.

“Grudgingly Committed”

I heard this excerpt on Gamers With Jobs Episode 149 and I thought it was so funny I should post it.  They were responding to a listener who asked what their families thought of their podcast and gaming.

“Grudgingly committed” is exactly what my wife thinks about my gaming.  Well, except for the committed part. :)  I keep trying to tell her about the benefits that games have for cognitive abilities and hand-eye coordination but she doesn’t really buy into that.

An Actual Recording: Loop 90823 1.0

I’m trying to get back into recording some music, so I’m starting with short loops to get the hang of it again.  This particular piece consists of bass and electric guitar, along with my relatively new Roland V-Drums, which are quite fun to play.  I’m licensing this recording under the Creative Commons BY-SA license… click the button below to find out what that means.

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

Aggravator 3.0 Plans

I’ve started working on a major update to my RSS feed aggregator.  With this new 3.0 version, I hope to resolve a lot of outstanding problems and polish things up.

The new system will harvest feeds to a local database and then replicate the relevant data up to the web server.  I’ll be switching from MySQL to SQL Server, and I’m planning to re-write the entire web application in ASP.NET 3.5.  Gotta keep the skeelz up-to-date.

Technology Bits

Updating the status of technology in my life, in no particular order.

Browser Wars.  I’ve more-or-less fully switched to Firefox 3.5 as my default browser.  For web development it’s hard to beat the Firebug and HTML Validator plugins.  And for web browsing in peace, the NoScript plugin is pretty awesome.

I tried Chrome again recently for general web browsing, and, while it is noticeably faster than Firefox, I found that I just couldn’t live without NoScript — there are soooo many scripts out there that really need to be blocked.  But for sites that I trust, I’d have no trouble using Chrome.

I still occasionally use Internet Explorer 8, mainly for bank sites that are horribly coded and don’t work with anything else.

Media Center.  I now have an older Windows XP box hooked up to the television in the living room to serve as an Internet media center, for watching YouTube, Hulu and Netflix on the TV.  I use Miro for watching Revision3 and Mevio video podcasts, and I also use XBMC to stream music and picture collections to the living room, which I’ve shared on the network with TVersity.

I tried Ubuntu on the media center, but it was just too much of a hassle.  Maybe it would work better with a newer PC.  Linux on the desktop isn’t quite ready for non-tinkerers yet.

My favorite Internet shows, by the way, are Cranky Geeks, Tekzilla and Film RiotSystm was also a favorite but they’ve discontinued it.

Zune.  I’ve enjoyed my Zune 8 a lot more than I expected I would.  I use it mainly for listening to podcasts in the car on the way to and from work, and occasionally for listening to music at work.  The Zune desktop software could be better, but it covers the basics.  I don’t use the Zune marketplace — I get my music from Amazon right now.

I’m really looking forward to the Zune HD… if it works like they say, it could entirely replace the aforementioned Windows XP media box.  A portable web browser in the palm of your hand — and it’s not an evil Apple product, or chained to an evil cell phone company!

The Buddy On The Mend

The Buddy is back to eating regular dog food after a week featuring vomiting, diarrhea, trips to the vet, IV fluids, antibiotics and bland food.  Since he couldn’t eat, he also couldn’t take his pain meds so his arthritic hips flared up pretty bad.  Don’t really know what happened to him but he’s getting back to his normal cheery self.

UPDATE: It saddens me greatly to append that The Buddy relapsed a week later, developed pneumonia and was put down on September 21. Rest easy, Tristan.

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Fallout 3 – A Bit Disappointing

I basically finished* with Fallout 3 a few weeks ago, which I got from Steam for like $25.  I’m actually glad I didn’t pay full price for it because I didn’t think it was that great.

Back when Fallout 3 first came out, I read somewhere that it was basically Oblivion with guns — it turns out that assessment was 100% accurate.  It felt exactly like playing Oblivion again, which probably contributed to my lackluster response to it.  I was expecting to be blown away, but in fact I found it somewhat uninteresting and sometimes even tedious.

This is coming from a huge fan of the first Fallout, too, which I thought was one of the most innovative RPGs I’d ever seen.  Fallout 3 was definitely a descendant of that game, but it didn’t feel very innovative.  Honestly it felt like they just slapped the Fallout intellectual property into the Oblivion engine and called it a day.

On a side note, a lot of people complained that the gruesome violence was way over-the-top, but I didn’t think it was that bad.  Sometimes it helped to make the game interesting. 🙂 It was a hallmark of the original Fallout, too, if I remember right.  It was just too cartoonish to take seriously.

Anyway, I give it a 3… out of 5.

* It’s a massively open-ended game, so technically I haven’t “finished,” in that I have not been to every single location possible, but I did finish the main quest, which took surprisingly little time.