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Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Dallas Wackeyness



I do read the online version of the Dallas Morning News to keep up with the goings on in my old home town. Today's paper brings a cautionary tale from the suburban town of Rockwell. It seems that a 22 year old fellow was bragging on the internet that he had built a nuclear reactor in his parents garage. He claimed to be making plutonium, the synthetic element used as a trigger on thermonuclear, or "thermonuculur" as said in Texas, device. That little post got some very serious people in dark suits interested, and they paid him a visit. The young man had gotten a bit of americanium he had purchased online. The alpha emitter americanium 241 is usually found in inexpensive battery operated smoke detectors. The "reactor" was dismantled and carted away at the request of the amateur scientist's parents. Actual reactors require more shielding than is found in your average suburban garage.

Does this sort of thing happen everywhere, or is it just Dallas?

I hate Best Buy

Best Buy should change their name to "Gotcha!". Their prices on little bits of teck fluff are abusive. I couldn't find my firewire cable, and the local discount house hadn't heard of such a thing (Fred Meyer) so it was Radio Shack, guaranteed to screw you, and Best Buy, also guaranteed to screw you. Sure if you need a 55" HDTV BB is a place to look, but if you need a cable to hook it up, you are screwed.

As you may have gleaned from this post, I was not happy about paying forty bucks for a six foot cable, and after I cool off I will probably delete this entry, but it eases my pain for now.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Primary vs. Caucus

Here in Washington State we select our State Delegates to the Democratic Party National Convention with caucuses in every precinct. The Republicans sort of do the same, but only select half their delegates this way, and the other half in the state primary.

The results of the public declaration of support required by caucuses and the secret ballot of the primaries account for the disparity between poll numbers (collected by live people via phone) and the actual outcome of the primary. A percentage of my people (white folk) have a hard time coming out against a black person in public. Some out of guilt, some out of prejudice. In the privacy of the voting booth such social pressures evaporate. Don't trust the polls and caucuses because the one that counts is taken behind that cheap curtain of the polling booth the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Obama would have to be polling at at least ten points ahead of any Republican to have a chance, fifteen to be comfortable.

Democrats, being just regular people, like to think of themselves as unprejudiced, but secretly envision Rap Stars, sullen baggy panted thugs, criminal NBA players and a host of negative images when they see an African American man. The image of an African American woman is Oprah. Run Oprah run!

I realize that African American males have come to equate respect with fear. That is our fault. Two hundred years of slavery, lynching, and enthusiastic rates of imprisonment for black men has taught them that fear is respect. Obama is a new sort of black man, but prejudices die hard. The boomers are the last generation that grew up bathed in cultural racism, and with any luck it will die with us, but the public black man must learn that respect means valuing the individual as a unique soul with faults and a history. Not every snub is racism.

If you say you support Obama in the state caucus, then vote for him in the general election. It's only fair.