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the dredwerkz

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In the midst of watching the third episode of 24 last night, which was quite enjoyable, I couldn't help notice a promotional for Fox 5 News which involved playing the audio recordings of people calling 911 in the midst of the sniper attacks. Damn. Considering that the snipers have been caught and that there's no newsworthiness to the story it was quite possible the most tawdry thing they've done. Being caught up in the political winds yesterday, I was equally surprised to see Connie Chung on CNN hype the Homeland Security Bill, and bookend it with something about Michael Jackson. I didn't watch the actual part of the show, but unless Michael has died, there's no reason that the biggest legislation in the last fifty years of the federal government should be bookended by the king of pop. No reason at all, even if it had something to do with a baby.

It's times like this that I find comfort in the cold, calculated neutrality of c-span. It doesn't farcically pretend to be objective, like fox news, or equally ludicrously attempt to be professional, like cnn or even worse, the network news stations. Bias is always going to be there...the only way to deal with it is to either cut out commentary (like c-span) or admit the bias and move on (no takers yet!) When journalists pretend to be "objective" they end up hurting neutrality by advancing tired arguments or presenting outright lies as "the other side" in an attempt to remain neutral. If we're headed for a budget disaster, and one side says we are, and the other says we're not, that's not a matter of opinion. Empirically speaking, the facts dictate one conclusion, and to bring up invalid arguments that strain editor's credibility undermines the objectivity the American public thinks is being presented. End rant.

posted at: 2002-11-20 11:51:25 with 0 comments
The past several weekends have followed a fixed script: a warm, sunny week followed by two days (or three, for that recent holiday) of cold rain during the day. Since I get out of work each day while it's still dark, nothing's more depressing than to have to deal with cloudy skies for the two days that I'm free. It's absolutely spirit-crushing. Which is why I was happy to see that today, a weekday, was cloudy. Because hopefully this means that this weekend won't be. We'll see.
posted at: 2002-11-19 17:51:54 with 0 comments
Yes, the Great Ampersand Problem has been fixed. This means that I now don't have to go back and check every article Brad and Helena post to make sure that every & is actually recorded as & instead. Got it? It's the details that count...
posted at: 2002-11-19 12:48:22 with 0 comments
I've changed a few other items on the site, due to user requests. Check out the reviews section to see if the new timestamp/hyperlink title system looks better than the old one. You will have to click on an individual article to see the effect I'm referring to. I also implemented it over on the news side of things, although since the section itself hasn't been updated except for the blog, there's probably less going on there.

The week is going better than last, so hopefully by tomorrow I'll be fully caught up with all my work. These next two weeks are still looking fairly tortuous in terms of the amount of coding that needs to be done before the new site goes live. Ideally, any cool new features from my work there will trickle down to this side, such as my new method for ensuring that ampersands don't get improperly placed into articles. Yes, it's obscure. And yes, I know no one cares. That's why I'm getting back to work.

On a sad note, it appears that the Bull Moose has finally called it quits. It's unfortunate, as many of his viewpoints echoed my own. Sad to say, the Republican party just isn't interested in being the party of progressive national interests that assume America has not only the right, but the obligation to do what's best for the common man, the country and the entire world. If this means standing up to corporate power, so be it. His thoughts will be greatly missed.

posted at: 2002-11-19 12:31:17 with 0 comments
It's always annoying to get up and realize that you're going to be late for work because of the split-second timing required to get into the shower before everyone else does. It's worse, however, to be late, jump in the shower and realize that all the hot water has been used up. Then, to top it off, the metro system decided to make me wait an extra thirty minutes for a train. Finally, it's far worse to make it to work and be told that you need to redo something that a couple thousand dollars has already been spent on. Something that you had to rush through just to make sure it happened on time. And now I have to plead with them to run the job again, correct the changes and not charge us any money. All for a project that I really didn't care about because, despite having two additional weeks left to finish the website, the stupid cards had to be sent out so far in advance that no other person has even seen the site yet. This week is really getting off to a bad start, considering that the amount of work I left here late on Friday evening has grown in the interim. Grr.
posted at: 2002-11-18 10:13:54 with 0 comments
This piece in the post is s perfect example of the sort of political article I'll continue to blog about here on the dredwerkz site. What a completely idiotic idea: I don't really mind the Homeland Security snafu, because greater managerial flexibility seems like a good idea. But this whole idea that the private sector is better than the public sector is a bunch of hooey. From the article:

Bush wants agencies to "compete out" 15 percent of the 850,000 federal jobs that are considered commercial in nature by October 2003. The administration, which ultimately hopes to put half of all such jobs up for review, believes that competition helps save money and makes agencies operate in a more businesslike manner.

Union officials and some experts dispute the assertions of widespread savings, saying no credible, independent and conclusive studies have been done.

It's just another pat on the back for businesses that support the political establishment. Now, instead of the spoils system where political appointees run agencies, we'll end up having entire departments and contracts, sucking money from taxpayers back to their political friends. This is not smart management, it's simple croneyism. As a former outsourced contractor to the federal workforce, I can personally vouch that having tons of work sent to the private sector ends up costing much more money than simply having a government worker handle it. I was three levels down, so that means that three levels of management skimmed from what I charged the government for my services. Had I been an actual federal employeee I would have been off the GS chart in terms of money made. Instead, I ended up making very little, and the government paying dearly for my services. When you throw in all the time spent negotiating contracts, resolving management issues between federal employees and contractors, and even simple questions of inventory, you end up reaming the government, and taxpayers by proxy, of an untold amount of money. End rant.

posted at: 2002-11-15 13:08:39 with 0 comments
Okay, I've gotten some more requests for changes to some of the article markup coding, which I'll make shortly. (It involves displaying datestamps, a fine idea.) In addition, Helena has posted an advance review of the latest Harry Potter flick. Be sure to check out the short and sweet goodness.

I'm now having to work on some hourly blog-like stuff for my new website, so I'm probably going to start losing some of the politically themed stuff from this blog to focus more on the personal stuff. I may continue the more radical themes over here (wouldn't want to get in trouble with my boss for "crazy" views like open borders and the like) but the majority should be at the peyser site. Look for it starting December 1.

Until then, though, check out this piece in the Post which mentions, in passing, that Gore has endorsed single-payer as a health care solution. It's about time! From the piece:

But as he began his book tour this week, Gore already was making political news. On Wednesday night, he told a New York audience he has "reluctantly come to the conclusion" that the only solution to the "impending crisis" in health care is a "single-payer national health insurance plan" for all Americans. That marks a sharp break with his past position, pushing him sharply to the left on what could be an important issue in the next presidential campaign.

In the 2000 campaign, Gore battered rival Democrat Bill Bradley for advocating a health care plan designed to move the country toward universal coverage. He said Bradley's bold plan would wipe out projected budget surpluses and damage the country.

Gore offered no details of what kind of single-payer system he favors. Spokesman Jano Cabrera said yesterday that Gore will address the issue in a speech. Cabrera called Gore's comments on health care consistent with his recent vow to "speak from the heart and let the chips fall where they may."

Three cheers for President Gore!

posted at: 2002-11-15 10:01:37 with 0 comments
I was fortunate enough to take in a sneak preview of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets last night. I went as a chaperone for a charity group that works with kids. I can say firsthand that the movie is just too long for any kids under the age of ten. It runs 2:42 and follows the plot of J.K. Rowling's second book with painstaking exactness and detail. Now, I'm not saying it's not another fun romp through the wizarding world -- it certainly is. It also becomes clear, however, that some of the side-plots that make the books so rich seem irrelevant and detached on the screen. The plot was also difficult to follow for those who hadn't read the book. Still, fun, if a bit rambly and long for the kids. And watch out for the final standoff with the monster -- definite nightmare material if you're with someone who is so inclined.
posted at: 2002-11-14 16:59:44 with 0 comments
Actually, no, it's not. For anyone interested, you can browse over to the following link to check out the new website in advance of it's actual deployment: peyser goes here! Of course, it looks like the old site, does it not? Have no fear, there are some .php pages being built behind that crafty dns name, so if you can guess their names you can see what I've been slaving over the past two weeks.

This brief break will hopefully serve to remind Brad that he owes me a review of Meze and to remind Helena that she owes me a review of the latest Harry Potter movie. If either of you are reading this, get to work! Otherwise steps will have to be taken. Luckily, I have plans after work so I won't have to return to the 'werkz. Why lucky, you ask? Well, a few days ago as the temperature and humidity both climbed into the seventis (at night, no less) I shut our heating system off. Now that it's gotten much colder, no one has noticed the chill in the air, but I'm sure after today the house will be positively bone-chilling. We're saving money, I keep telling myself, even after I spent ten dollars on lunch today. I've got to find a method to stop hemorrhaging money or I'll be bankrupt before the holiday season. I'm sure I'll find a way somehow to stay both liquid and on top of my savings. As long as I don't raid my roth.

posted at: 2002-11-14 16:09:18 with 0 comments
Clear blue skies, cold breezy temps and plenty of sun have combined to make this a great day. I'm stuck inside, but at least I can look through another office window to see the glorious outdoors. Makes me remember my former glory days at the usda locked in a subbasement with no indication ever about what lay beyond the cubicle walls. I also just found out that I can withdraw money from my Roth IRA without any penalty, as long as I'm withdrawing contributions, not earnings. Considering it hasn't earned any money whatsoever, that means I could just steal money from my retirement at any moment. I always thought that the money was locked away and unattainable unless I either purchased a home or reached the age of sixty. Now, though, if I'm in the hole for rent one month...better not think about it. Unlike the rest of my savings, I can't check my IRA level online, so I don't even know how much I could withdraw. Which, I guess, is a good thing. Out of sight, out of mind. By the time I'm that old, I hope I'll be making much more anyway. Damn, I'm in a good mood. Better keep coding...
posted at: 2002-11-14 13:51:23 with 0 comments
First off, I'd like to come out strongly against the proposals of the Gilmore commission the transcript of which will be available here shortly after the hearing finishes. In a nutshell, the man who turned the most fiscally responsible states (with incredibly low taxes) into a budget morass courtesy his beloved car-tax repeal, is heading a commission which is going to recommend that a domestic intelligence agency be created here, to mirror Britain's MI5 service. Why should the UK have a domestic agency and not us? How about a little thing called the Bill of Rights? This is a travesty...the CIA and NSA are forbidden from spying on American citizens...for good reason. Much like the ancient Romans, citizenship is a right that confers certain privileges, such as being innocent until proven guilty. The British system offers no such rights.

On a humourous note: it appears that we might not have to invade Iraq, as long as we wait for them to die of cancer from cigarettes illegally funneled to them courtesy our friends at RJ Reynolds. Gotta love the sheer "we're pure evil" aspect to the whole deal. They really put the greed in the "greed is good" mantra.

posted at: 2002-11-14 10:01:14 with 0 comments
I finally managed to throw up this review of Spices on the site. Yes, I went there on Sunday. Yes, it's a little late. I've been super-busy working on the new website that has to be finished sometime tomorrow, at least from a functional perspective. I also added a few more uses for goats to the list, so there!

In the outside world, I guess it's good that I'm not working at the USDA after this morning's incident. Nothing stinks worse than milling about in the cold weather. For hours. Unless it's the prospect of the government being slowly run aground by the Republicans. Who would've ever thought that I'd partially find solace in Alan Greenspan's words? Oh wait, I'm supposed to really be jumping for joy over William Webster resigning. As if they'll replace him with someone like Levitt. I wish.
posted at: 2002-11-13 15:33:07 with 0 comments
Spices Asian Restaurant & Sushi Bar is one of those rare restaurants where you enter with high expectations and leave pleasantly surprised that it managed to beat the spread. After seeing this post review I was expecting some solid food choices, and I wasn't let down. Although I stuck with sushi over their Thai offerings, I did catch sight of several dishes as they passed me which were mouth-watering.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I came with two other people (one a guest from New York City) on a Sunday evening thanks to a friend's advice. As I'd already frequented several other sushi places in the district including Kawasaki, I had a good context for judging Spices, which is located across the street from the Uptown theater in the Cleveland Park strip. Every sushi place is different, and Spices appears on the surface to be a regular Thai restaurant which happens to serve sushi, rather than the other way arond. A spacious interior was a welcome respite from previous crowded locales like Uni or Cafe Asia. Unfortunately, going on the middle night of a three-day weekend ensured that the restaurant itself was quite crowded. Nevertheless, we were able to walk right in, pick up a seating tag for three, and be ushered to the sushi bar within minutes. Had we wished to wait for a table, I'm sure the delay would've been lengthy, yet we managed to leapfrog past several larger groups at the door, which felt good.

Once at the bar, we quickly ascertained that we had no need for their Thai offerings, instead choosing to markup our sushi card with style. After having chosen an arrangement of sashimi, sushi and rolls, we handed the card to the friendly chefs working hard behind the bar. It's always a special treat to see your food prepared right in front of you, and this time was no exception. Oddly, throughout this point we had yet to see any sort of server, so our decision to go with the sushi was probably best anyway. The lack of a server prevented us from consuming any beverages other than water, which worked out well since I actually wasn't in the mood for anything else. If we'd wanted some saki, etc. it would have been awkward though. Our water glasses, however, were refilled early and often.

The sushi was prepared quite quickly, and although the sashimi took a minute longer, both were ready by the time all were hungry. Each dish was prepared well, with enough style for sushi-snobbery and enough taste for the roughest palate. We had chosen to go with items composed from tuna, yellow-tail, squid and many others. The spicy/crunchy tuna rolls were the first to be snatched up, and they were a special treat. I'd definitely recommend them to anyone who likes a little spice in their sushi. The other more vanilla offerings were all done well in accordance with standard sushi practice. The sashimi, unlike at Cafe Asia or Uni, came with a small bowl of sesame-covered rice, thus negating my favorite pet peeve of sushi places, namely: they often serve sashimi without any rice whatsoever.

After the meal we were allowed to sit at the bar indefinitely, receiving refills of our water every few minutes. This was a welcome change from the cramped places that pressure you to move out in order to move the next group in. It did prove slightly strange when we wished to receive our bill, though, because only one of the chefs spoke english. After displaying the universal check symbol, they argued for a few seconds and then summoned a manager who managed to take care of us. The prices were attractive as well, which was a nice change of pace from Kawasaki's large fees. Overall, Spices was a great place to go with friends, if you can handle yourself well at a sushi bar without needing any handholding. It may appear to be an ordinary restaurant from the outside, yet everything from the wait to the water was done flawlessly, a feat almost impossible at any eating establishment. If you're in the mood for sushi and can stand the always crazy Cleveland Park parking scene (we ended up parking a couple blocks away in a residential neighborhood) it's definitely worth your money. And the next time a friend comes in from out of town, it'll serve to impress. Just remember that if you're able to order 60 pieces of sushi, you'll be treated to a giant wooden ship containing several rolled divisions. It's the sort of challenge that, having learned of its existence, I'm going to have to tackle upon my next visit.

posted at: 2002-11-13 15:05:03 with 0 comments

go back a week...

...go forward a week