Just a little panicked

I nearly lost data permanently last night while trying to merge master and dev branches in my web server’s document root. Thankfully I had a not-so-recent backup that included all the uploaded media that I’d intentionally excluded from the git repo.

facepalm
Flickr/striatic (Creative Commons)
Seems all is well now, but like every technology, Git is both wonderful and horrible.

Football is dead to me

Being a fan of the New England Patriots isn’t always easy. That’s an understatement. Not like how habitually losing teams never seem to build enough expectation to let down their fans to a significant degree, the Pats like to really show how great they are before pulling the rug out from under you. The shared pain of the loss was all too familiar again on Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game. This is not about any traditional disappointment, though.

What I want to say is, while watching the game, I was struck by the lack of sportsmanship. Watching hit after vicious hit, it became obvious that causing harm was more of a goal than out-playing the opponent. I saw a beast of a man, running back Stevan Ridley, while taking the ball up just past the defensive line and fully expecting to be hit at any moment, get knocked out cold on the field. The impact spun him around completely, folded him up, then he sprung open, face up and limbs splayed. Lights out. It seemed like he hadn’t even come to rest before players began to form a pile two feet from his head, trying desperately to acquire the ball that lazily rolled away from his limp body. Is football too violent? You bet it is.

Please, please, please inform me that this is not new. Chide me for being so naive about how things are done in the NFL. Or just stop it. I’ve seen and heard enough to know this isn’t new. I know there have been players who were outright encouraged if not directly told to try to end the careers of others on the field. The hit on Ridley, as well as other choice moments of contact in the game, solidified an idea in my mind: that some things never seem to change.

Violence and brutality as the subject of focus in a massive stadium is certainly nothing new. We’re at the circus maximus, watching gladiators fight for their lives and hopeless souls being thrown to hungry lions. We’re eating it up and cheering for more. Only now, it’s broadcast to millions of TVs, so everyone can enjoy the “sport.” Count me out.

I sincerely hope that anyone currently in the NFL retires without too much damage done, but in reality, we know that’s not going to happen for a significant portion of players. The money and fame may seem worth it now, but at what cost later?

Term Limits

I am aware that at least some term limits on political offices are mandated by the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like spouting off about some injustices that I feel are detrimental to our political processes.

First, I think that any elected official should only be given a single term. Crazy, right? The pandering and playing at centrism isn’t doing the electorate any favors, yet that’s exactly what so many in office do solely because they know there’s an election down the road and they don’t want to lose the money, perks, status, power, whatever. Take those distractions away, I say. Force folks to act more on their conscience by replacing their ambitions with the certitude that they won’t be in office once the term is over (and I’m not saying they can’t re-run, but it will have to wait until the term after next). The existing two-year terms for congressional representatives is probably too short in this scheme, so I would recommend extending it. Continue reading “Term Limits”

We Won!

Finally, the politicking is over. Yes, I know this post is absurdly late, but in a few tight races, they’ve only just recently finished recounts and whatnot, without any surprises.

In my post on the Capillary Man, I echoed the assertion that Obama winning a second term was actually a far more significant measure of the integrity of the country than winning the presidency initially. In terms of the electoral college, his win was solid, but the popular vote was close. Luckily, the numbers showing the large percentage of whites that voted for Romney won’t be as much of an issue in the next election, since the country as a whole is becoming increasing less caucasian.  Continue reading “We Won!”

The False Promise of Having Multiple Candidates

People say that we need to have more folks appear on ballots to make elections fairer and get the right person elected. That’s all fine and good, and I’m 100% behind this effort to break out of a two-party system that is so inured in our culture.

There’s only one problem: You can only pick one candidate in most of these elections. The two-party system has defined how the elections are conducted, so why would we ever need to do anything but pick our first choice on the ballot and be done with it? Easy. If you can only pick one, and multiple people are on the ballot, all of sudden people start to ask themselves if they shouldn’t vote for a candidate who may not be their first pick in order to prevent a strongly-disliked candidate from winning.

This was the very same kind of discussion I had with some friends prior to the 2010 gubernatorial race in Maine. The Green candidate had dropped out and the Democrat fell under a cloud of disgust and resentment from her own party members for the dirtiness of her campaign. This gave an enormous boost to Cutler, the independent, but it wasn’t enough to counter the combined Republican and Tea Party support for LePage. He won with 38% of the vote, but the third-, fourth- and fifth-place candidates had an aggregate of about 25% of the vote. If the folks who voted for them or Cutler had been able to mark others as their second, third or fourth choice, would LePage have won?

I sincerely believe he would not have won. Of course, it’s impossible to tell since the alternative rankings were never recorded. This is why I will never support having more than two candidates unless the race has alternative (ranked choice) voting. I think everyone would get fairer elections if they did the same.

The Green Elephant

The missus and I went out to dinner tonight with our very good friends to the Green Elephant restaurant, across from the State Theater. I must confess I am usually apprehensive about places that are exclusively veg / vegan, but tonight everything we tried was right on the money.

Great food, great company and fantastic conversation catching up with wonderful people. It doesn’t get much better than that.