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obama breaks 50% in polling


for the first time, obama has broken through the 50% support barrier, in gallup and other polls.

a post-convention bounce that will dissipate? maybe. but given that the polling time period includes the beginning of the paling of palin, i’m guessing that 50% may be a new low water mark for obama’s polling.

or at least i’m hoping it is. we’ll see a week or so after the republicans finish their convention.

news you may have missed


i know i did. del martin, pioneer for glbt rights, died last week.

Pioneering lesbian rights activist Del Martin, who married her lifelong partner in June on the first day that same-sex couples here gained that right, has died. She was 87.

Along with six other women, they founded a San Francisco social club for lesbians in 1955 called the Daughters of Bilitis. Under their leadership, the group evolved into the nation’s first lesbian advocacy organization.

at least she got the chance to legally marry her partner of 55 years, just before she died.

i’m just guessing here


but i’d imagine that unmarried 17-year-old high school student bristol palin, who was enough of an adult to make the decision to risk pregnancy, was not presented with a range of options and asked what her preference was.

quote of the year


from the daily show’s jon stewart:

“[Michelle Obama] must prove she loves America. As opposed to Republicans, who everyone knows love America…they just hate half the people living in it.”
—Jon Stewart

thank god we have this man to keep us all sane.

the best speech you missed: john kerry


whoda thunk i’d be typing that this morning? you figured bill clinton would be spot-on. but kerry hit on mccain hard, very hard, and more effectively, concisely, and entertainingly than anyone else i’ve seen thus far. and his self-deprecating humor was a bonus. from the huffington post article on the subject:

Kerry, his party’s pick in 2004 who failed to defeat incumbent President Bush, said McCain’s changed positions on the Republicans’ tax cuts, climate change bills and immigration leave him shaken. Kerry paraphrased himself, telling the Democratic National Convention delegates: “Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you’re against it.”

i love it. last night was so entertaining. i’ve been watching until 10:00pm on the good old new mac media centerthe official democratic convention site has a great, stutter-free, beautiful hd feed. very thoughtful of them. and switching over to abc at 10:00pm. i gotta get my fix of punditry — i like to see how it’s spun.

bill clinton was perfect. he did exactly what i wanted him to do — make a powerful and unrefutable case, as an ex-commander-in-chief, that obama is ready to be commander-in-chief.

check. job well done, bill. i [mostly] forgive you for your transgressions this year.

hillary does the job


to my mind, she did exactly what she needed to do last night. she explained why she was in the race, she hit on the themes that excited her supporters, and she pivoted all that to believably encourage her supporters to support barack obama.

it was a great speech, and to my mind laid to rest all the mindless speculation about a rift. she’s gone far beyond what any other “second-place” candidate has ever done, and for that she should be appreciated and congratulated.

the one sore point everyone keeps mentioning is this whole business of not refuting her argument that he isn’t ready to be commander in chief. you know, the 3am thing. i maintain that for her to say something like, “he’ll be ready at 3am, and 4am, and 5am” or whatever would have sounded craven and inauthentic, and would have blunted the effect of what was an outstanding effort.

it makes perfect sense for bill clinton to make that argument tonight. he should be the one to persuade people that obama is ready to be commander in chief, since he was himself, and hillary hasn’t [yet] been.

i’ll be looking for him to do exactly that tonight.

the two convention speeches you must watch


the best speeches often happen out of prime time. even though i line up pretty well idealogically with dennis kucinich, i’m too practical to delude myself into thinking that someone like this could ultimately get elected. that’s a sad indictment of my crappy attitude and pessimism, but that’s how i feel.

but man what a speech. this should have been in primetime. certainly would have been better and vastly more effective than boring ass old mark warner. good god am i glad that he turned obama down for the vice-presidential slot.

the other speech was in primetime, but i’m betting that all the network talking heads just talked over it. i know that abc did. it was brian schweitzer. i guess he was up for veep but didn’t get it. i know that the guy at was constantly flogging him as the best choice. after i watched this speech, i could see why. i really knew nothing about him, but he’s marvelous. he has a great way of taking substantive policy and making it accessible, entertaining, and informative. who knew a discussion of energy policy could be so much fun? he’s the sam kinison of politicians, calmed down a bit and wearing a bolo tie.

i’m happy with joe biden, but in a less close election this guy would have been a perfect veep choice.

hillary clinton, veep?


andrew sullivan thinks maybe, and he’s the biggest hillary hater on the planet:

Texting the selection of Hillary at 3 am this Saturday morning would be the coolest campaign gimmick of all time.

i’d go even further, and say that given we know that obama has made his choice, if we haven’t heard the pick in time for tonight’s evening news it probably will be (in true clue-style) hillary at 3am with the text. there’s no good reason to hold on to the info at this point.

my mac mini media center


since i posted yesterday about my wonderful new over-the-air hdtv antenna, i thought people might be interested in what it’s hooked up to.

namely, my recently assembled mac mini media center.

first, the relevant equipment:

» a Philips 23PF5320 23-Inch Flat Panel Widescreen LCD TV, which i’ve had for a number of years. positives: it’s a great picture, it’s just the right size for our apartment, and it has a vga pc port. negatives: it’s older, it doesn’t have a digital tuner, and it only has dvi, not hdmi.

» a 1.83ghz core 2 duo mac mini with a combo drive, which we purchased recently. i chose to get a mac mini rather than an apple tv because i wanted to be able to watch internet video content (hulu, and the like). positives: came with leopard, just works perfectly with no hassle, no viruses to worry about. negatives: although it has a dvi port, it doesn’t play nice with the dvi port on the tv, so it’s hooked up via vga.

» elgato eyetv hybrid, which is both the digital tuner that the tv lacks, and a dvr to record shows. positives: perfect picture, easy to use software, easy installation. negatives: none.

» philips fr994 receiver, which i’ve had for i think 8 years or so. positives: new enough to have digital audio inputs, wide variety of other inputs, programmable display. negatives: so old that there’s no video inputs or controls, only audio.

i can’t tell you how perfectly all this works together. the hookups are: mac mini vga to tv vga port, mac mini audio out to digital port on receiver, elgato eyetv hybrid usb stick plugged into the back of the mac mini, antenna coax lead screwed into the hybrid. i get broadcast tv, dvr, and internet video all in 1080i hd and 5.1 surround sound, and the only monthly fee i have is the internet access from the cable company. i don’t care about cable channels, so i don’t pay for them and i don’t feel i’m missing out.

i’ve ripped all of my cds, so i don’t need to use the cd player anymore. everything’s in itunes on the mac. and if i did need to play a cd, i’d just stick it into the mac mini and play it. same with the dvd player. we have a vhs player/dvd recorder that we used to dub a lot of kirk’s old tapes, but there’s no need now. just stick the dvd into the mini and play it.

if i choose to get cable somewhere down the road, the hybrid can work with the cable channels, with or without a cable box.

at some point i may want to get an all-in-one remote like the logitech harmony one, but for now i’m good with the remote for the receiver + keyboard and mouse.

i think i’m covered on entertainment for the forseeable future.

unsolicited recommendation:


we (well, mostly me, because i’m the cheap one in the family) decided when we moved to riverdale to not get cable tv. we’d turned it off before moving from inwood, and had not missed it. a couple of months ago, we had a brief flirtation with getting basic cable tv channels (just broadcast channels), but then i thought, why pay for that when it comes over the air for free?

or so i thought. free is relative. the catch to this was finding an indoor antenna that would pick up the signals. it has to be indoor, because i don’t want to mess with getting my building to allow me to put an antenna on the roof. an outdoor antenna would get me signals with no problem, but that’s way too much trouble and expense.

time is money, and antennas aren’t free, and i spent a lot of time and money trying to find the right antenna. we live in riverdale, in the bronx, about 14 miles from the empire state building, from where the local stations broadcast their signal. and with all the tall buildings and such, it’s tricky to find the right indoor antenna. i tried the terk hdtva, and got nothing, zilch, nada, bupkus. i tried the rca ant525, and got some stations, but not others, and was constantly getting up to adjust the antenna.

i tried buying an antenna amplifier, but as i later learned, if the antenna isn’t getting a good signal, the amplifier can’t magically make it better. all it does is make your intermittent signal stronger, but still intermittent.

so then i called the folks at — their number is 877-825-5572. the very friendly, helpful, and informative agent (wish i had her name…) spent several minutes on the phone with me, asking me questions about my specific area and situation. she then recommended the clearstream 2, which she said should work for me just fine. if it didn’t, she said it would be no problem to return it, and there’s no restocking fee.

well, hot damn. the thing is amazing. i get every channel i could possibly get, at full strength (100% signal quality, nothing less than 85% signal strength), with no picture breakup or dropout. i put it by the window, on an old mike stand, and the thing is like a magnet for hdtv signals. i never have to move it ever to get a signal.

antennas direct designs their own antennas, and as far as i can tell they are doing a very good job of it. the best part is, the antenna is so good it doesn’t need an amplifier, which means that you don’t have to plug it in, like all the other ones i tried. so, it’s a green product on top of everything else.

awesome products + outstanding customer service = unsolicited recommendation.

obama’s veep


my dream person? al gore.

oddly enough for me, i think that i’d be happy with hillary clinton as well. i’ve calmed down a bit over the last few weeks, and she’d be a great attack dog, which for me is the best quality a vice-president can have.

i like joe biden a lot, so i’d be very happy with him as well.

the rest? i’d need to be convinced. i’m signed up for the text message, and i’m waiting for my cell phone to beep.

kristen hall sues sugarland


from an associated press article a few days ago:

A founder of the country band Sugarland is suing the two current members of the popular group for $1.5 million.

According to a lawsuit filed late last month in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Kristen Hall was to get a cut of the group’s profits even after she left in 2005 for a solo career. The lawsuit says Hall, who founded the band in 2002, has an agreement with Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush to equally share profits and losses.

Hall says in the lawsuit that she has been excluded from the group’s profits since she left.

this somehow seems un-kristen-like to me, but i suppose she’s entitled to the money if they promised it to her. does this mean that she should continue to share in profits only from work when she was with the band, or that she should get a share of the profit for work that sugarland did after she left? i can’t say that it makes sense to get money for work you haven’t performed, so to speak, but if that’s what they agreed on then give her the money.

i hope she has that in writing.

mccain unable to stay on message


even when the message itself is pretty idiotic:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday taunted Republican candidate John McCain for agreeing on the importance of keeping tires inflated as an energy-conservation measure after having joined the GOP in mocking the idea.

“It will be interesting to watch this debate between John McCain and John McCain,” Obama said as he campaigned in Indiana with Sen. Evan Bayh, widely considered a top-tier candidate for running mate.

When asked about the air-pressure issue during an appearance Tuesday night, McCain said: “I agree with the American Automobile Association. We should all inflate our tires.” Obama had noted that keeping tires inflated and cars tuned was endorsed by both NASCAR and AAA and should be part of any comprehensive plan to reduce reliance on imported oil.

However, McCain had spent recent days ridiculing Obama’s remarks about tire pressure, telling a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D.: “My opponent doesn’t want to drill, he doesn’t want nuclear power, he wants you to inflate your tires.” The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, poked fun at the idea, sending reporters tire gauges with “Obama Energy Plan” emblazoned on the side.

his campaign staff must be ready to slit their throats. completely undercutting your message must do wonders for staff morale. i’ll bet the guy who spent long hours sourcing and distributing those tire gauges must be especially pleased.

obama talks up high speed rail


amen to this:

“If you think about the Midwest, think about right here, what we’ve got is all kind of towns that we could connect,” Obama said. “All of these cities are, they basically take in the air about 45 minutes to an hour to fly.”

“But by the time you get to the airport,” Obama continued, “take off your shoes, get to the terminal, realize that your flight’s been delayed two hours, go pay $10 for a cup of coffee, and a sandwich for another $10, come back, you get on the plane, you’re sitting on the tarmac for another 25 minutes, you finally take off, you’re circling above the city for another half hour, when you land they can’t find your luggage, and then you get to where you’re going — by the time it’s all done it’s a five-hour trip! …So the time is right now for us to start thinking about high-speed rail as an alternative to air transportation, connecting all these cities and think about what a great project that would be in terms of rebuilding America.”

getting around europe is so much easier, because they have trains and a complete mass transit infrastructure. having given up my car, i can tell you that there’s nothing better than being able to get everywhere with someone else doing the driving. i hate it when i have to drive somewhere, such as when i visit my mom in florida.

let’s hope this is more than just campaign talk.

wake me up


…when john mccain breaks 44% in a national poll.

obama leads mccain 47% to 41% in this recent poll.

there have also been some polls that show mccain in the lead.

what do they all have in common? obama goes up and down, but i haven’t seen him go lower than 45% in any poll. mccain stays more steady, but never seems to break 44%. this tells me that there’s a significant chunk of people that lean toward obama, but haven’t solidly decided for him yet. if mccain’s percentage rises above 44% without a corresponding rise in the lead for obama, that means that those obama leaners are starting to break for mccain, which may be trouble. so i think 44% is the target to watch for. when he breaks that, everyone will need to take a hard look at what that means. until then, the polls can bounce around and it won’t mean much.

in my opinion. i’ll put the crystal ball away now.

my quirks


great post over at rands in repose, where he (and many others) list their superstitions/ocd quirks. lots of stuff in the post and in the comments, many of which i do myself. here are a few less obvious ones that i recognized in myself:

» volume levels on TV/stereo/etc must be even or divisible by 5

» I always wet the toothbrush before putting toothpaste on it.

» Even after I *know* I’ve put my keys into my bag, I must double-check that they’re there before closing car door or trunk

» I have to start walking with my left foot

and here are a few of my own:

» french fries are eaten in groups of three

» i smell a glass before putting liquid in

» check and recheck that the alarm is set, even though i always wake up and turn it off before it goes off

how many of them do you recognize in yourself? what are yours?

how not to be a douchebag tourist in nyc


via digg, this guide to not pissing off the natives while visiting new york city, if you care about such things. ok, so the title is too provocative, and the author has waaaaay too much attitude. but for the most part, the tips are spot-on.

many people don’t care if they piss off the locals. that’s fine. just don’t expect much assistance, and do expect to get barked at, at a minimum. you know the saying, “when in rome…”? that’s good advice. kirk and i act differently in new york than we do in paris, say, or tampa. it’s good form to adapt to your surroundings, and pick up on local customs. it shows that you are sensitive about ethnocentrism. kirk and i have traveled in many cities that famously hate tourists, and we consistently have no bad experiences and are frequently mistaken for locals, or at least people don’t think we’re american. i think that’s a good thing. you may not think so. if you don’t, do me a favor.

stay home.

it’s fun to read the comments at the linked article, by the way. so many people miss the point entirely. you can tell who the travelers are, and who the new yorkers are. not impressed so far


via daring fireball and others, there’s apparently a challenger to google’s search supremacy.

i’d love for someone to get traction in this space — google is really difficult to work with. they have that same attitude that aol had years ago: we’re king, and you have to do things our way, and the customer is always wrong.

obviously, it’s an uphill climb.

i tried googling, er, cuiling myself yesterday and got no results for either “jamie howard” or “queerspace”. tried later in the day, and got a message saying that their servers were down.

great start.

i tried again today. i’m near the top in google results for “jamie howard”, and for “queerspace”. i used to be #1 everywhere, but i’m not complaining.


i’m on the first page of results for “queerspace”. i’m nowhere to be found for “jamie howard”, at least not on the first few pages.

as the owner of, you’d think i’d figure in there somewhere.

maybe they will get better. the search results are certainly prettier, though i’d argue not necessarily better for some other things i searched.

good luck, cuil. hope you aren’t tilting at windmills. change has to start somewhere, and your timing is good.

headline of the day


New McCain Ad Bashes Obama for Not Visiting Troops Using Footage of Obama Visiting Troops.

via daily kos. there’s not much this guy can do right, is there?

there’s something to be said for voting for someone using the effectiveness and cohesion of their campaign organization as a criteria.

the balcony is closed


via daring fireball, roger ebert says goodbye [to the old] and hello [to the new]. wonderfully written, with a moving comment section.