So many words, so little time....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Rainy Day Election Musings...

Somebody flipped the Winter Switch here in Seattle sometime last week. We went from a long string of golden days baking the tattered tan end of summer into the dust to three days of rain marching back and forth across the sky and hitting the pavement like the heels of polished jackboots.

I stood at the bus stop this morning with the maple tree dripping water and wet brown helicopters into my hair. The invisible residue summer's travels left on the road sparkles on the puddles and runs down the gutters in oily rainbows. That'll be gone soon and flat gray will be all that remains. What a perfect day for the serious business of pondering an election.

I'm not sure where this going to go. I'm doing my part working on the issues that matter to me, and in November we'll see where this all ends up. I see it as a mechanical system in need of some work, and the metaphor carries through this whole process.

You don't get too far tightening a bolt if you are putzing around with that hose clamp off to the left. People spent a lot of time blowing smoke about "election fraud" this last couple years, when an obvious culprit is the stupid ways partisan regulations have crept into the election system that lock people into voting specific ways. It never says it in so many words, but if you stack all the stupid rules together you effectively can't vote for anyone who isn't Republican if you declare yourself a Republican in the state of Washington. Or even better is the rules/traditions that allow an incumbent to run without opposition from his own party and to actually avoid a real primary election in many cases. If you're a member of that same party you're effectively disenfranchised. Where this really bites is where it applies to many federal elections like Senators, Representatives, and the President. I know this affected my voting patterns and I believe it's a huge factor in these close presidential elections where in order to vote for the candidate of the opposite party you literally have to not be able to vote for anyone in your current party anywhere else on the ticket. What say we stop going on about chads and supposed weakness in voting machines and fix the concrete and demonstrated problems in the election rules.

The whole system is connected so you have to be careful how your change is going to affect the rest of it. Trying to get an ordinance passed about jobs for people in low-income housing while slashing the funding for the bus system in that area and cutting funding for subsidized child care isn't going to have the effect you're hoping for. Unless all you're trying to do is shut up some vocal group and not do anything really effective.

If you don't use the right tools you can't turn it. The best you're going to get is hand-tight. And that's just not good enough for most applications. My favorite one is the people who try to tell you that there's a right to privacy in the Constitution. Or a right to education. Or any number of other indicators that they don't know what their problem is so they can't bring to bear the right effort to fix it. I have an acquaintance who is all up in arms about some of the content in the "health" book her child brought home. So she wrote a letter to her Congressman. Real helpful. You want to fix local education issues, try talking to your local school board and get on the Curiculum Committee.

If you don't even know which way to turn the wrench then you're really up a crick. I've run into a bunch of those. A bunch of absentee ballots here in my state are going to be invalidated because people didn't indicate their party affiliation on it (see that section up there with the hose clamp and the partisan election regulations). This is plainly marked on the page but they didn't follow the directions. It's not just their fault - it's hard to wade through the verbiage. I don't know how it's going to affect some races

I'm not a fatalist about it. I just know that to make real change in a system involves acting on the system itself and doing it intelligently.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hollywood is doing it again....

Quint over at Aint It Cool News had a great visit on set with the Transformers movie. I definately don't feel any better about the film, though.

Partway through the article he gets a quick interview with one of the key human actors.
QUINT: Which Transformer is your personal favorite?
JOSH DUHAMEL: Good question. You know what? I gotta say... I haven't seen any of the Decepticons really. I've seen Devastator, the tank... and I guess I've seen the helicopters and stuff, but I haven't seen what they look like (as robots). As far as the Autobots, I gotta go with Ironhide, the truck. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's because I own a black truck. But I was thinking... If I was a kid, if I was 10 years old, and I wanted one of these to play with the first one I'd get is probably Ironhide.
I also like Bumblbee just because he's a cool Camaro. Plus, I drive the old Camaro on LAS VEGAS, so I have a real affinity for that, too.

Except if you have even the tiniest clue about the original materials you know Ironhide is not supposed to be a big black truck, and Bumblebee is supposed to be a VW Bug. And now apparently their faces are going to work like Bionicles. And they blew up a truckload of Furbies. And apparently the token female they've added isn't all that great but the kid is.

Sigh. I've got more from other reputable sources, but it's spoilers and honestly there was enough there to make a fan cry, don't you think?

Please. I beg you guys. Just finish the film. Don't try to tell me how much you "get it". Because you don't. And what little glimpses of getting it you have you purposely avoid acting on.