Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, July 29, 2004 9:57 pm

Overheard at work

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:57 pm

“I was told he had one of the best pornography collections in the state. (pause) Not that I ever saw it, but that’s what I was told.”

Insurrection

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 12:44 pm

Did you know that in 1934, a military coup against the U.S. government was only narrowly averted? Apparently it’s true. And it took a two-time Medal of Honor winner to stop it.

Maybe there’s a reason why your boss is a minion of Satan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Economists searching for reasons why some nations are richer than others have found that those with a wide belief in hell are less corrupt and more prosperous, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Panthers update

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 12:41 pm

Steve Beuerlein, who QB’d the Carolina Panthers from 1996 to 2000 and holds all the team’s career passing records, re-signed with the Panthers Wednesday and then immediately retired.

I loved Beuerlein. He was no one’s idea of a flashy QB, but he got the job done — he went to the Pro Bowl after the ’99 season — and he was incredibly tough, taking huge numbers of sacks behind the worst O-line in the league in ’98 and still coming back for more. I was sorry that George Seifert let him go after 2000, and as miserable as the 1-15 2001 season was, I derived a bit of pleasure from seeing just how badly Seifert’s faith in Jeff Lewis had come a cropper.

My favorite Beuerlein moment was the team’s 1996 home win against San Francisco. It wasn’t flashy; it was a thorough, and thoroughly professional, trouncing. The final — 23-7 — was much closer than the game really was, and the atmosphere of celebration after the final gun gave Charlotte its first taste of what NFL success might feel like.

On a personal level, my fantasy-league team picked him up early in the 1998 season, along with Panther WR Rocket Ismail, and they were a dynamite combination for us. (The Buffalo game, in which we also had Bills WR Eric Moulds, was a jackpot.)

I had been afraid that the harsh feelings from his getting cut after 2000 might sour Beuerlein on the organization. I’m delighted that that wasn’t the case. The man was and remains a class act. And when the Panthers get around to setting up some statues to accompany those of Jerry Richardson and Sam Mills, I hope, and expect, that the next one up will be of Beuerlein.

The bad news is that 1st-round pick Chris Gamble still isn’t signed, and his agent, Carl Poston, has a reputation for holding players out of camp in hopes of a better deal. Panther fans will recall Poston, not fondly, as the guy who needlessly held Tshimanga Biakabutuka out of camp for 27 days in ’96. Just me, but if I were a front-office guy, I wouldn’t even draft anyone represented by Carl or Kevin Poston. Life, and training camp, are too freakin’ short.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004 9:39 pm

Hello, world!

Filed under: Blogroll — Lex @ 9:39 pm

[shameless promotion of employer]

The News & Record has started a sports blog. It’s here.

[/shameless promotion of employer]

UPDATE: URL was changed this morning because of problems with a Sprint domain-name server; link changed accordingly.

You’re not paranoid if they’re really out to get you, or, “Florida is heading toward being the next Florida”

Filed under: Black-box voting — Lex @ 9:10 pm

A lot of very well-meaning people think we don’t need and/or can’t afford voter-verified paper ballots as part of electronic voting machines.

A lot of very well-meaning people are flat wrong:

MIAMI, July 27 – Almost all the electronic records from the first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost, stoking concerns that the machines are unreliable as the presidential election draws near.The records disappeared after two computer system crashes last year, county elections officials said, leaving no audit trail for the 2002 gubernatorial primary. A citizens group uncovered the loss this month after requesting all audit data from that election.

A county official said a new backup system would prevent electronic voting data from being lost in the future. But members of the citizens group, the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, said the malfunction underscored the vulnerability of electronic voting records and wiped out data that might have shed light on what problems, if any, still existed with touch-screen machines here. The group supplied the results of its request to The New York Times.

“This shows that unless we do something now – or it may very well be too late – Florida is headed toward being the next Florida,” said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a lawyer who is the chairwoman of the coalition.

Remember, the goal here is not necessarily to prevent fraud (although VVPBs will make it harder, for sure), but to create an auditing system so strong that any fraud inevitably will be discovered. Congress and your state legislature will have to act to make that happen. For more information, go here. To join in an online letter-generating campaign (which I don’t endorse; I think personal letters are more effective), go here.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 8:29 pm

Just in case anyone thinks I’m … well, extreme on the subject of voting machines …

Filed under: Black-box voting — Lex @ 8:29 pm

… I’m really not.

This is extreme.

(Link via Phred)

Monday, July 26, 2004 3:29 pm

Memo to self

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 3:29 pm

When nursing a rotator-cuff injury to right shoulder, do not, under any circumstances, use right arm to pull lawn-mower starter cord.

That is all.

Sunday, July 25, 2004 11:26 am

Urgh

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 11:26 am

An avalanche of work Thu/Fri plus lingering digestive upset beginning Fri night = no posting since Wednesday. But I’m getting over it.

Slowly.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004 9:56 pm

All hail

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:56 pm

There’s a lot that divides us, particularly in an election year, but some things are so masterfully created, so artistically performed, that they unite us despite all our differences.

The JibJab.com adaptation of “This Land Is Your Land” (possibly NSFW: language) is one such creation. Now comes another. It’s The. Best. Poker. Game. Ever. But it’s so much more, as well.

I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that this wins funniest blog post of the year.

Bev Harris, “Black Box Voting” and the public trashing of reputations

Filed under: Black-box voting — Lex @ 7:23 am

So, I’m back from the wilds of South Carolina, and I’m prepared to have my say on the whole Bev Harris/”Black Box Voting” deal.

And my say is this: First, every American who values his right to have his vote counted owes Bev an enormous debt. Many, many people helped make the book “Black Box Voting” a reality and, more importantly, worked very hard to get the issue out in front of the public so that even the laziest media outlet could ignore it no longer. But if Bev hadn’t stumbled onto this story, and realized that it was a story that needed to be told, America might be at a very different and much more dangerous pass today.

To repeat my full disclosure: David Allen, a longtime friend of mine and the owner of Plan 9 Publishing, the book’s initial publisher, hired me to edit the book on a freelance basis. I took on this project with the prior knowledge and permission of the editor of my paper, with the understanding that doing so would bar me from involvement in any N&R coverage of the issue.

I took the assignment for several reasons. Although I’d been a newspaper editor for years, editing everything from breaking news to in-depth projects, I’d never edited a book and was curious to try. David was a friend and his enthusiasm for the project was infectious. Once David explained the book’s thesis to me, I knew enough about computers and their vulnerabilities to grasp at once the potential for enormous problems – put another way, yes, David sold the project to me, but its merits also allowed the project to sell itself.

I thought the likeliest outcome was that the book would sell a few thousand copies. What I hoped was that so many of those copies would find their way into the hands of political leaders and influential journalists/commentators that the issue might catch enough fire that the shortcomings in America’s voting system and the Help America Vote Act could be addressed in time for the 2004 general elections. Put another way, it might become the Velvet Underground of political books. The old saying about the Velvet Underground was that they never sold many records but that everyone who bought one went out and started a band. I hoped “Black Box Voting” might generate voting-rights activists at a rate of at least one or two per copy sold.

And although this wasn’t a big part of my thinking, I thought there was an outside chance that the book might be successfully marketed, via the Internet (particularly some influential Web logs), to a lot of people who wouldn’t ordinarily buy political books and become a bestseller. An outside chance, I emphasize, but a chance.

(I also thought there was at least a 40 percent chance I would never see a dime, although I can’t sit here and tell you now that I knew then what was going to happen.)

If you asked me to prioritize all these reasons, I’m not sure I could except to say that I believed this was a legitimate and crucial news story, one all the more remarkable in that the way Bev was getting help from and double-checking her work with computer experts in online forums made “Black Box Voting” arguably the first open-source investigative journalism project. So it had that little extra coolness factor going for it. In any event, it was an important, unique story, one in which I could play little or no role in my day job or a significant role as a freelancer. I signed on.

My dealings with Bev started well. They didn’t stay that way. The biggest problem was that she blew deadlines like Linda Lovelace, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Originally, the project was supposed to be finished by the end of 2002. Then April 2003. Then September 2003. I didn’t finish editing and proofing until February of this year, by which time the primaries were under way and editing had to be limited pretty much to typos and misspellings. Those who know me professionally know how I feel about deadlines. Moreover, for purely practical reasons I had needed her to adhere to her deadlines: I already had a full-time job, kids and a wife who was working full-time and pursuing an MBA at the time, so I couldn’t just drop everything to edit a chapter immediately whenever Bev felt like dropping one my way.

Meanwhile, Bev’s relationship with David started to deteriorate. In hindsight, this began right around the time Bev and Jim March filed their qui tam suit in California, although I didn’t find out about that until it was unsealed a couple of weeks ago.

About the same time, Bev and David jointly decided to begin posting draft chapters of the book online for free download to deflect criticism that they were “only in this for the money.” I went along with this, even though it probably was going to mean less money for me, because I believed the issue was more important than my making a little money on the side. In fact, because of server problems Bev was encountering with bbv.org and because I wanted to make sure the book remained available even if voting-machine companies sued Bev, I posted copies for download on this blog, something neither of them asked me to do. (I took them down once enough mirror sites had cropped up that I was confident the book couldn’t be squelched.)

Long story short, earlier this year, Bev accused David of shortchanging her in some way. I don’t know the details, and I don’t want to know the details because I don’t want to have to spend time being deposed. And I don’t know who’s right, but I know this: I’ve known David Allen for more than 10 years, and if he took even one thin dime to which he was not legally and contractually entitled, I’ll be the most surprised person on the face of the planet.

Meanwhile, David directed me to some forum discussions at Democratic Underground, a Web site on which I’d never spent much time because, well, I’m a Republican. And to judge from what I read there, it seems that Bev has been accusing a lot of people who helped her with the book of a lot of things, including filing qui tam lawsuits themselves behind her back (no such suits have surfaced), and that these people are all loudly and publicly denying Bev’s accusations. (Read through this thread at Democratic Underground to see what I’m talking about. And you can see David’s response to Bev’s allegations on this thread.)

So, where are we today? Bev will be employed by a voting-rights nonprofit and stands to make a fair bit of money from her lawsuit. She has been either minimizing or denigrating, in public forums, the work of people she earlier had credited with helping her. Those people include me – depending on which Bev is talking, I either gave her no editing or lousy editing. (David Allen elaborates on this here, among other places.) David, who even Bev has conceded took a chance on the project when no one else would, appears to be headed to court with her. She’s getting pro bono legal representation, but David is having to pay a lawyer, out of consideration for which I haven’t pressed him yet for any payment under our agreement.

That’s pretty much the end of my part of this story. I’ll be happy to answer any questions. And don’t feel sorry for me. I never expected much out of this personally, and that’s what I’ve gotten. I’ve had false and uncomplimentary things written about me by better-known, more credible writers than Bev Harris in my career, and I’m still standing. I’m a big boy, and now that this post is about done I’ve pretty much moved on.

As for the other players, other than David, who’s still hanging in there, I never even met ‘em. I hope they’re all as OK as I am.

Bev comes out of this with a decent job, a decent shot at a jackpot (even after lawyer’s fees, her take in the California suit could run into the millions) and success at her primary objective: Most importantly, she has raised public consciousness on an issue crucial to the survival of our democracy.

All it cost her was a couple of years of her life, a few thousand bucks and her soul. Based on my looks at the latter over the past 18 months or so, I’d say she got off cheap. But the cost to the country could be a lot greater: After the way Bev appears to have treated a number of her fellow activists, I bet a bunch of them stay home the next time democracy needs saving.

And if there’s one constant in this nation’s history, it’s that there will always be a next time.

Monday, July 19, 2004 9:32 pm

Talk? Me? Aw, twist my arm

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 9:32 pm

I was the featured speaker on Sunday at the 50th reunion of the descendants of John and Peggy McDill Peden at Fairgrove Presbyterian Church in Fountain Inn, S.C. – the same location and occasion at which my father and my late great-grandfather have spoken. You can read my speech, pretty much as I delivered it, here.

My ancestor James Alexander married the Pedens’ eldest child, Mary; their son, John, joined with about a gazillion of his Peden kinsfolk to fight the Tories and British, all the way from Cowpens and Kings Mountain to Yorktown. John rose through the ranks to major and led the “Tyger Irish” battalion at Kings Mountain. He’s buried at a different Fairgrove Presbyterian — one he helped found in Lawrenceville, Ga. – and I went down there a couple of years back to attend a ceremony at which a Sons of the American Revolution medallion was affixed to his gravestone. It wasn’t  much of a payback for 228 years of liberty, but it was the best I could do.

(Sorry about the formatting miscues. I experimented with both Netscape Composer and MS Front Page, couldn’t get either to work the way I wanted and didn’t have time to go back and code manually.)

Hog Steer heaven, or, Lex plans his first special for The Food Network

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:47 pm

You would have to know me in real life to know how happy this news makes me: Did you know there are places in America where you can get a deep-fried, cheese-stuffed cheeseburger? Yes! Shut up, you can, too! It has been authenticated by no less an authority than the food critic for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, who risked his life and health to bring us the glad tidings.

Two words, baby: road trip.

The essentials

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:02 am

Because your life wouldn’t be complete without it: How to make a globe out of LEGO® bricks.

Hog Steer heaven, or, Lex plans his first special for The Food Network

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:32 am

You would have to know me in real life to know how happy this news makes me: Did you know there are places in America where you can get a deep-fried, cheese-stuffed cheeseburger? Yes! Shut up, you can, too! It has been authenticated by no less an authority than the food critic for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, who risked his life and health to bring us the glad tidings.

Two words, baby: road trip.

Friday, July 16, 2004 8:44 pm

I didn’t even know we were looking for him

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 8:44 pm

Twelve years after his indictment, we’ve finally caught Bobby Fischer.

Who’da thunk it?

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:33 pm

What’s more bizarre — that the Incredible Hulk has a blog or that it’s been out there for 2 1/2 years without my stumbling upon it?

(Thanks to Tony for the link.)

Quote of the day

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:17 pm

From Heather “Dooce” Armstrong: ” I was supposed to get my driver’s license renewed the week we moved to Utah 20 months ago, but doing so would have been lawful and responsible, and I left that church a long time ago.”

Thursday, July 15, 2004 9:52 pm

Speaking of jw …

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 9:52 pm

… I’m taking the position that shoulder problems are transmissible over the Internet and that I got mine from her. Never mind that I’ve had problems with my right shoulder since an unfortunate softball-related incident almost 20 years ago.

A faithful exercise routine and the occasional Aleve had kept the problem at bay for 18 months or more, but a few weeks ago the problem got too big to ignore. Sure, everyone at my age loses a little pop off his fastball and a little snap off his curve, but when the pain wakes you up in the middle of the night, it’s time to call in the professionals.

So I went to see my regular doctor, Dr. P., who took X-rays and said, “I think you’ve probably got a slight rotator-cuff tear. You’re probably going to need a cortisone injection, and believe me, you don’t want me doing that.” I took note of the fact that I’d just heard a doctor admit to a shortcoming for the first time in my life, and then, the next day, I trundled my X-rays across the driveway to the orthopedic specialist, Dr. D., who administered the shot (actually Kenalog, mixed — thank God — with a numbing agent), threatened to ‘scope the shoulder (i.e., perform arthroscopic surgery) if it hadn’t gotten much better within a month, and sent me on my way.

“Walk towards the light … “

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:49 pm

… and jw definitely was not ready.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004 10:18 pm

The road not taken

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:18 pm

If they’d taught philosophy like this when I was in college, I totally would have majored in it.

Only the beginning

Filed under: Black-box voting — Lex @ 6:10 am

As regular readers know, I edited the book “Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century,” by Bev Harris with David Allen, which was published a few months back. Unfortunately, the release of the book wasn’t the end of the story behind the scenes.

Yesterday I read this story:

SAN FRANCISCO – Electronic voting critics are suing Diebold Inc., alleging that the hardware and software company’s shoddy equipment exposed California elections to hackers and software bugs.California’s attorney general on Friday unsealed the lawsuit, among the first e-voting cases to rely on a legal provision for whistle blowers who help the government identify fraud.

Computer programmer Jim March and activist Bev Harris, who filed the case in November, are asking the state and counties to join the lawsuit. They’re seeking full reimbursement for Diebold equipment purchased in California. State election officials have spent at least $8 million on paperless touch-screen machines.

Because the suit relies on an obscure provision called “qui tam,” March and Harris could collect up to 30 percent of any reimbursement.

“This is about money now – a case of the capitalist system at work,” said March, a Sacramento computer enthusiast. “The laws on voting products and processes are unfortunately unclear. But the law on defrauding the government is really, really clear. Going after the money trail is cleaner than going after proper procedures.”

I will have much, much more to say about this in a few days. Unfortunately, I’ve got more pressing demands on my time at the moment.

Monday, July 12, 2004 3:09 pm

Circumventing election-day terror

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 3:09 pm

Froz Gobo, taking a hint from Jerry Bremer, has come up with a plan:

We’ll have to be REAL quiet about it, but I’m sure we can pull it off. We hold elections on Sunday, October 31, two days early, BUT DON”T TELL ANYBODY ELSE what we’re doing. Especially France.

As my father says, it’s so crazy it just might work

Saturday, July 10, 2004 5:12 pm

In which Lex and Snoop catch up

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 5:12 pm

Lex: So, what’s new?

Snoop: A high school, actually.

Lex: What, near you?

Snoop: Well, no. Chapel Hill is building a new high school. But it’s going to be in Carrboro.

Lex: So are they going to call it Chapel Hill High, or what?

Snoop: I don’t know, but they should call it Carrboro High School … and I know what its mascot should be.

Lex: Uh, the Liberals?

Snoop: Close. The Carrboro Communists.

Lex: Oooooh. I like it.

Snoop: The Fightin’ Commies.

Lex: The marketing possibilities alone are almost limitless.

Snoop: Yeah, I figure the football team could be called the Red Menace. They’d, you know, wear red uniforms.

Lex: Sure. With a hammer and sickle and a star on the helmets.

Snoop: And instead of having their last names on the backs of the jerseys, all the jerseys would just say “labor.”

Lex: Because “proletariat” wouldn’t fit. And, like, the entire athletic program could be called the Global Threat.

Snoop: And at pep rallies there’d be this huge bust of Karl Marx, and the players would all run out of its mouth.

Lex: And they’d call pep rallies mani-FEST-oes.

Snoop: Or maybe the dances.

Lex: And the homecoming king would have to wear this enormous fake bushy beard.

Snoop: And the principal would be called the General Secretary and we’d get all the teachers to call one another “Comrade.”

Lex: I’m sure they’d go for it.

Snoop: Cuz here’s the thing. Everyone thinks of Chapel Hill as liberal. But the truth is, there’s a fair number of limousine liberals and a pretty good base of moderates. But really? All the people you’d think of as Chapel Hill liberals are in Carrboro now.

Lex: So: the Carrboro Commies.

Snoop: Yes. And the alliteration? Really cool, as well.

Lex: And Jesse Helms now has a different town he can wish for people to build a fence around.

Snoop: But the thing is? It wouldn’t matter whether we were serious about proposing this or whether we were joking. Because there’d be a big group of people who’d get upset if we were serious and a big group of people who’d get upset if we were joking.

Lex: So everyone’s a winner.

Snoop: Precisely.

Lex: Excellent. Begin preparing a marketing plan. I’ll alert the media.

Snoop: At once, Comrade!

Breaking the code

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 8:40 am

Well, it took a couple of weeks, but we’ve finally deciphered one of Hooper’s recent favorite phrases.

“Chocolate bones”? = Twix.

Friday, July 9, 2004 6:30 am

More things that make you go, “Hmmmm … “

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 6:30 am

This Fafblog post by Giblets made me realize something: You notice how you never see Michael Moore and Joe McCarthy together? Kind of like Peter Parker and Spider-Man.

Thursday, July 8, 2004 8:27 pm

Judge rules voter-verified paper-ballot requirement is constitutional

Filed under: Black-box voting — Lex @ 8:27 pm

A federal district judge has ruled in favor of California’s new paper-trail reform in electronic voting:

Los Angeles – A federal judge ruled [Wednesday] that California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley’s requirements for additional security on electronic voting machines do not violate federal or state law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, California Voter Foundation, VerifiedVoting.org, and Voters Unite! submitted a friend-of-the-court brief and a sur-reply in support of Secretary Shelley. The case is Benavidez v. Shelley.”This decision is a landmark,” said [Electronic Frontier Foundation] Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “The court said – in clear, unambiguous terms – that requiring a paper trail for e-voting machines is consistent with the ‘obligation to assure the accuracy of election results.’ That’s an enormous victory.”

Judge [Florence-Marie] Cooper wrote that the “defendant’s decision to decertify touch-screen voting machines and to withhold further certification until he is satisfied that manufacturers have complied with specified conditions is a reasonable one. It is based on studies conducted and information gathered which convinced him that the voting public’s right to vote is not adequately protected by the systems currently in place.”

This ruling is particularly significant because Secretary Shelley’s e-voting reforms are setting the tone for the national debate on this issue. He was the first state election official to issue a blanket requirement for voter-verified paper audit trails (VVPAT) on e-voting machines, though Nevada later followed suit. On April 30, after further review and a scandal with embattled voting machine vendor Diebold Election Systems, Shelley decertified all of the state’s e-voting machines until additional safeguards could be implemented. His responsiveness to the growing evidence of problems in e-voting systems has led to pressure in states like Maryland and Ohio, where similar evidence has been downplayed.

The ruling certainly is consistent with the facts and the law as I understand them. But this issue has been so obfuscated by opponents of reform that it’s still a bit surprising to see someone actually doing the right thing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2004 8:49 pm

Trippin’, or, Who the hell is Jenny Turpish and why is she saying all these horrible things about me?

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 8:49 pm

No offense to Big Arm Woman, with whom I share both a political philosophy and an alma mater, but this is the last time I am ever going to take an online quiz that she links to.

Because this thing, which is kind of like Myers-Briggs, is just wacked (my annotations in italics):

Wackiness: 14/100 (I’ll buy this; my humor is more cerebral … and corrosive. Although I love the Three Stooges or a good Warner Bros. cartoon as much as the next guy, if not more.)Rationality: 50/100 (Only 50??)

Constructiveness: 64/100 (Whoa. On what planet?? In what dimension?? Seriously. Ask anyone who knows me: My WHOLE FREAKIN’ LIFE has been about BLOWING STUFF UP, metaphorically and, in some cases, literally.)

Leadership: 54/100 (Traditionally, I’ve been the kind of leader you fear at least as much as you respect, if not more. But that’s kind of in transition. I’m trying to develop pitches besides the fast ball, so to speak; whether I’ll succeed is still open to question.)

You are an SECL– Sober (sober??) Emotional (yes, in terms of expression; no, in terms of function) Constructive (see above) Leader. This makes you a politician. (You have GOT to be kidding me.) You cut deals, you change minds, you make things happen. (Uh, one out of three ain’t bad?) You would prefer to be liked than respected, but generally people react to you with both. (In fact, generally people do NOT.) You are very sensitive to criticism, since your entire business is making people happy. (Actually, no, I’m not because my entire business, if I’m doing it right, is making some people UNhappy. In service of a larger good, but still.)

At times your commitment to the happiness of other people can cut into the happiness of you and your loved ones. This is very demanding on those close to you, who may feel neglected. (This might have been true eight or 10 years ago. Then I learned to say no. And I think this is no longer true.) Slowly, you will learn to set your own agenda–including time to yourself. (I’m already doing that, or else I wouldn’t be closing in on 1,500 blog posts in just over two years.)

You are gregarious, friendly, charming and charismatic.(When I’ve had a few drinks; sober, I’m pretty much a stiff these days.) You like animals (preferably grilled), sports, and beautiful cars. (But I wouldn’t spend money on beautiful cars. If anything, I’d spend it on an Addams Family pinball machine in good working order.) You wear understated gold jewelry (untrue; I wear one piece of understated silver jewelry when my kids haven’t broken it) and have secret bad habits, like chewing your fingers and fidgeting. (correct on both counts — well, I bite my nails, not my fingers)

You are very difficult to dislike. (No, that would be the GOOD Lex, who, so far as I know, is but a rumor.)

As I said, wacked.

Now: Two of the four attributes are close to the midpoint. If you change Sober Emotional Constructive Leader to Sober Rational Constructive Leader, then I become:

… an Ayn Rand ideal. Taggart? Roark? Galt? You are all of these. You were born to lead. You may not be particularly exciting, but you have a strange charisma–born of intellect and personal drive–that people begin to notice when they have been around you a while. You don’t like to compromise, but you recognize when you have to.

You care absolutely nothing what other people think, and this somehow attracts people to you. Treat them well, use them wisely, and ascend to your rightful rank.

Hmm. Uh, no. Well, maybe. Hell, I don’t know. The “strange” part sounds right, anyway.

If I flip the other borderline attribute, I become a Sober Emotional Constructive Follower, which, in the vocabulary of this quiz, makes me …

a hippie. You are passionate about your causes and steadfast in your commitments. Once you’ve made up your mind, no one can convince you otherwise. Your politics are left-leaning, and your lifestyle choices decidedly temperate and chaste.

You do tremendous work when focused, but usually you operate somewhat distracted. You blow hot and cold, and while you normally endeavor on the side of goodness and truth, you have a massive mean streak which is not to be taken lightly. You don’t get mad, you get even.

Please don’t get even with this web site.

If you don’t want me to get even, then don’t call me a hippie.

But we might be getting warm here. I’m politically left-leaning only to the extent that what’s traditionally thought of as far-right has become so mainstream in the past 25 years or so: I still define myself as a conservative c. 1978, when I turned 18 and registered Republican, which is to say, low taxes, individual freedom, free markets, active but not necessarily interventionist foreign policy, limited and accountable government and so forth.

On the other hand, my lifestyle choices are indeed “decidedly temperate and chaste” now. Twenty or 25 years ago? Not so much. No, not so much at all.

“Somewhat distracted”? It’s called multi-tasking, ya moron. And the rest sounds right. Especially that part about getting even. I can nurse a grudge like Pamela Anderson can nurse a rock star.

Now, if you flip both of the borderline characteristics, you get Sober Rational Constructive Follower, or, in the quiz’s language …

a White House staffer. You are a tremendous asset to any employer, cool under pressure, productive, and a great communicator. You feel the need to right wrongs, take up slack, mediate disputes and keep the peace. This comes from a secret fear that business can’t go on without you–or worse, that it can.

If you have a weakness, it is your inability to say “no.” While your peers respect you, they find it difficult to resist taking advantage of your positive attitude and eagerness to take on work. You depend on a good manager to keep you from sinking under the weight and burning out.

Feh. Not even close. I’m not a mediator by nature; I’m the fast ball, the blunt instrument. And I know damn well that the business can go on without me.

Sigh. Well, “hippie” it is, then.

Sheesh. As Popeye would say, how embarrassking.

If you love sports …

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 8:40 pm

… you’ll probably love Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s blog, to which a helpful Mr. Sun pointed me. In particular, this entry about how Cuban fought for, and lost, point guard Steve Nash is way cool.

I wish the Carolina Panthers’ owner, Jerry Richardson, had a blog. Oh, the questions I’d be asking him …

Nothin’ in there but coffee stains

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 7:01 pm

Went to the dentist today, which is nothing unusual except that my regular hygienist, whose name really is Candy, was out, about to have a baby. The replacement was a woman who was just out of school and had just passed her boards, and I might’ve misunderstood her but I think she said I was her first “real” patient. Given that her certification on the wall was dated June 22, this was not implausible.

“Is that OK?” she asked, meaning was it OK that I was her first patient, I think.

“Well, I don’t know,” I said. “Do you know what a tooth is?”

“Uh, yeah … ” she said doubtfully in a I-don’t-know-what-the-punchline-is-but-I’m-pretty-sure-the-joke’s-on-me kind of way.

“OK, I’m good, then,” I said. And away we went.

The good news: No cavities, no problems, nothin’ in there that shouldn’t be except coffee stains. The bad news, some of the spaces between my teeth are so wide that regular floss won’t do. They had to give me the fat floss.

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