Florida post-game

Numbers first. This is it for Rudy – he half-assed it in Iowa and New Hampshire on the firm belief that he could take Florida and then flop a straight on SuperDuper Tuesday. He’s cooked;; the Great Mentioner says he’s coming out for McCain tomorrow. McCain only beat Romney by 3%, but by the rules, gets the whole nut (more on this in a bit). Nevertheless, Romney has enough money and delegates to hang on and see what happens on the 5th. Huckabee is still hanging around, although he has no money and precious little organization, but with Fred Thompson gone, he still has a chance to redneck his way into a nice chunk of delegates on the big day. Which leaves us with:

MCCAIN: Loved by the press in a way that would get a restraining order slapped on them, but largely unacceptable to movement conservatives (Tom DeLay, Rush Limbaugh, etc).

ROMNEY: Derided as “Multiple Choice Mitt” by true believers, unacceptable to holy rollers because he is TEH MORMAN!!!!!, but loaded with cash and clocking enough second-place finishes to stick around for a bit.

HUCKABEE: Still trying to prove that you can win the nomination with nothing but a mildly interesting personal story, a double-handful of good zingers, and Chuck Norris. Unacceptable to the kind of people who want to build a 900-foot fence across the Mexican border, but beloved by holy rollers, and the church angle gives him the potential to coast for a while on less material support than another candidate might need.

PAUL: Is he still living? He might have been better off running a third-party campaign the way he did in 1988, with the Libertarian brand name and plenty of loose cash.

So yeah. First past the post, McCain takes all the Florida delegates with 36% of the votes. And that’s not as many delegates as would normally be there, because the GOP gimped the Florida delegate count to punish them for jumping the gun on SuperDuper Tuesday. The Dems did the same thing only worse; they decertified the primaries for Michigan and Florida and will not award any delegates.

Now, what’s the practical impact of this? Well I’ll tell you:


Not once since the dawn of the primary era has the selection of the Presidential nominee gone down to candidates with less than 50% of the delegate totals hashing it out in the circus of a convention. What happens – over the course of a series of races in Iowa, then New Hampshire, then Super Tuesday, then the other assorted checkpoints over a period of months or (more likely) weeks – is that a gradual sense develops that it’s going to be candidate X. Once the blessed diadem of inevitability is placed on X’s brow, it’s all over with, and there will be a motion at the convention to make it unanimous, and then they’ll play the music and drop the confetti and generally try to pretend that we still have old-style conventions full of pomp and drama and smoke-filled rooms rather than meaningless 4-day infomercials. God, even I don’t care about this anymore.

The point is, Hillary Clinton has a couple of wins in decertified primaries. They mean a whole lot of nothing, because there won’t be any delegates awarded, and Obama is still sitting on more live delegates in hand – but inasmuch as they contribute to the sense that she will be X, they are valuable wins. But they will only contribute to that sense *IF* the results are presented in that matter.

Because right now, Barack has 63, and Hillary has 48. To win, you need…um…TWO THOUSAND TWENTY-FIVE. Yes, that’s right, neither candidate yet has FIVE PERCENT of the delegates they need to clinch the nomination. And the Dems allocate their delegates proportionally, so as long as the Big Two keep finishing 1-2, they can carry this thing an awfully long way.

The Rs don’t generally do proportional representation, but let’s do their numbers: McCain 95, Romney 67, Huckabee 26, Paul 6 (!), Rudy 1 (!!!!). Total needed to win: 1,191. Super front-runner McCain is less than 10% of the way home.

And the fact of the matter is this: our candidates are selected in a series of state elections, all with different rules, and they aren’t even official government functions: they’re private elections conducted by private organizations. And even these private organizations have differences between their state orgs and the national party, or we wouldn’t have this mess in Michigan and Florida. Basically, we have a big cloud of chaos that kinda sorta eventually vomits up a candidate, like Jonah from the bowels of the big fish (the Bible doesn’t actually use the word “whale”), and then we can say “you and him fight.” And if we’re very unlucky, it takes 8 or 9 months.

Seriously, folks – the parliamentary model looks better every day.

It’s complicated

If one thing has come out of the last month, it’s proof positive that the political media in this country are absolutely, positively, butt-worthless. They are pretty much doing what they’ve always done: pick the simplest possible narrative and cling to it like a pit bull to a rival gangster’s leg. Now, who are you going to believe: some spittle flecked idiot who’s full of himself howling at anyone who will listen, or some pundit who isn’t me?

(Remember who told you about Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee back when Cal was a top-5 team? Well then.)

Okay, first things first. Primaries since 1984. I was there. Every single one. People tend to forget, because the last seriously contested primary season before 2004 was the Dems in 1992, and the sort of idiots who get on TV don’t have a memory past about six weeks, so expecting them to know what a real primary is like is rather like looking for a seven-leaf clover. Mondale and Hart went right down to the wire in ’84. Super Tuesday in 1988 was supposed to select a nice safe moderate and instead kept Jesse Jackson in the race all the way to the end. And in 1992, the leading Democratic contenders were a has-been, a never-was, a nutter or five, and a well-fed country boy, all overshadowed by the guys who didn’t run. And they threw elbows, too – people always think of Lee Atwater as the mastermind of the whole Willie Horton furlough story that helped sink Dukakis, but that little nugget was first thrown out in the Dem primary – by Al Gore. Dukakis himself leaked the tape that branded Joe Biden a plagarist. Gary Hart savaged Mondale for the “failed policies of the past,” four years removed from Mondale’s turn as Vice-President, and Mondale’s famous “Where’s the beef?” reply basically ended Hart’s campaign (of course, his digs against New Jersey in the run-up to June didn’t help).

Yes, June. It used to take six months, boys and girls. In fact, time was, Iowa was in January, New Hampshire in February, Super Tuesday in March, then on to Illinois, then New York, some others, and California and New Jersey in a bicoastal parlay that sealed the deal. Not everything in one mad dash of less than 40 days, with a year’s worth of run-up and a nine-month campaign to follow.

I say all that to say this: under normal circumstances, a primary race lasts a long time, goes through several states, involves multiple participants, and is generally not conducted on the level of high tea at the Savoy. There is absolutely nothing going on in the Democratic primary right now that is unprecedented, unexpected, or out of bounds for the game in question. The attempt to suggest otherwise says more about the press than it does about the candidates.

Also, I make it a point never to pay at the Savoy.

More later.

No business like shoe business…

So I finally got around to putting the Dubbin to all my pairs of DMs. I have 8 pair, broken down as follows:


Brown classic shoe, ~2002

Black square-toed casual shoe (doesn’t even look like Docs), Nov 2001

Black industrial steel toe boot, mid-2005 (my daily work wear for the last 2 1/2 years)


*Brown industrial steel toe (as above), mid-2006

*Black industrial steel-toe shoe (otherwise as above), mid-2007

Low fashionable Euro-style brown lace-up, 2006

*Brown and black slip-on industrial moc, 2004

Classic black 1460 boots, ~2003

The steel toes all came from the fact that the company paid for a pair of safety shoes every year, so I stockpiled – but they are a lot less important than they used to be now that I’m not doing warehouse work anymore, so at least three pair of those are probably going into storage. I’m not spending nearly enough time in the Irish bars anymore, so the classic Docs look is less useful to me than the days when we closed the pub at 2 AM on a regular basis. And those 1460s seem to be just a half-size too big, it seems – they pull the socks right off my heel when I try to take them off and they seem to have just a tiny bit too much room in back when work and laced up. And since I don’t need the toe protection anymore, I would really like to replace them.

Which leads me to the question: while I would like a shiny new pair of 1460s, are DMs from some sweatshop in Thailand or Vietnam or China really, you know, Docs? (Most of the classic UK Doc-wearing subcultures have said no – punks and skins and the like have gone to something else.) Would I be better off with a pair of Solovairs (assuming I’m willing to buy shoes from another continent without trying them on)? Is it the name? Is it the style? Is it more important to just have a good solid pair of clunky working-class industrial footwear made classic through its ugliness, irrespective of name or brand or location? Or do I just want the Docs because they’ve been the anchor of my footwear supply since 2000?

(If anybody knows where there’s a pair of never-worn 8-eye cherry 1460s in size UK 11, let me know…)

I haz a tux.

In retrospect, they should have just carried out tuxedo fittings at freshman orientation. If you were one of the 85% of guys in a fraternity (I wasn’t), that’s 4 formals. If you’re dating one of the 95% of girls in a sorority (I did), that’s 4 formals. If you’re in the band (I was) that’s 4 spring shows, and if you’re a varsity athlete (nope) or a booster (yup), that’s four end-of-year banquets. Hell, the booster club was called the Black Tie Club.

So math it up, add in the fact that I didn’t join the band for a year or the alumni boosters for two (yes, joined before I graduated), and you still have nine instances requiring a tuxedo. NINE TIMES. Only an idiot would rent rather than buying at that point. Granted, it took me a rental or two to grasp this, but I latched on soon enough and bought something serviceable. Actually hung onto it and got use from it all through the 90s, including a number of uses after undergrad.

In fact, the last time I wore it out in public was the last NGS Prom in 2001. I could still (mostly) fit into it, which was good – not as well as I’d fit in it back in 1997, though, for real. And when I moved out here in 2004, I reluctantly left it behind for my brother in case he needed it. And I always had in the back of my mind that I’d have to buy another one…but I missed the obvious opportunity (my own WEDDING) and then didn’t have anything else come up. When you’re in the tech sector, anything with a tie is exceedingly rare…until now.

See, the wife’s company is having their holiday party Saturday in the city. I don’t know precisely what holiday this is for – Burns Night? Australia Day? The Feast of St Alberic? – but what the hell, it’s black tie, so I went out to Nordstrom and let them do their thing with the tape and the chalk, and now I have a nicely-altered tux that should work for me for the next ten years, easily.

Now I just need somewhere else to wear it…

Steve Jobs changed my life.

24 years ago, on January 24, 1984, Apple debuted the Macintosh. It was supposed to be “The computer for the rest of us.” The problem is, the rest of us took to it like a duck to water, including some people who probably never should have been let near a computer. However, it was accessible enough that a grad student in a completely non-technical field could learn its secrets well enough to provide support for that “rest of us” – and for over a decade now, my entire livelihood has been bound up with the Mac.

So yeah, when people talk about how the Macintosh changed the world: exhibit A, right here.

I could be wrong…

…but I’m not.
And another candidacy goes chunk-chunk. Don’t worry, Fred – you can still find work – after nuclear war, there won’t be anything left but cockroaches, Mike Cassidy, and Law and Order reruns.

Well, well, well…

…blink, you little weasel! BLINK!!

NBC CEO Jeff Zucker puckers up to Steve Jobs’s posterior [Apple]:

Looks like that “go it alone and do without iTunes as a distribution mechanism” is going JUST GROOVY for the Nothing But Crap network. I guess giving away the resource that made The Office work in the US is the sort of blunder that can be covered by a rousing season of Celebrity Apprentice, right? RIGHT?

I have a vision of Steve sitting on his throne, watching Phil Schiller wrench Jeff Zucker’s head in a full nelson, saying “Not just yet, Phil.”

I like this vision.

Overheard in my house…

WIFE: Do you want some of the teriyaki meatballs?

ME: Only if you’re going to fix some anyway.

WIFE: It’s no trouble, they just pop in the microwave.

ME: They’re pre-cooked? Hell, if I’d known that I would have fixed them for lunch this week.

WIFE (sing-song voice): Read, mother-!!!!er, reeeeead…

Well, look at that…

…a rare opportunity to prove that I’m not totally in the bag for Apple.

I didn’t get to see the keynote – I was following it online, like the rest of the peasants, idly hitting refresh every 5 minutes or so while listening to a podcast and waiting for a callback from somebody who’d installed Google Earth and thought their available hard drive space had dropped from 97 GB to 24 GB. (The truth is too saddening to relate so I won’t.) As they checked off every rumored point (turns out even the leaked video of the 1.1.3 update was spot-on), I said, wait for it, wait for it…

And sure enough: MacBook Air. I saw the device, and I saw the specs, and I immediately thought:


The MacBook Air (MBA – what a perfect choice of initials) is sleek, stylish, woefully underpowered compared to its peers, and a horrible value for money for 99% of the consumer public. Hell, by the time you pay to add 1 GB of Apple’s expensive RAM to the cheapest MacBook, you’re still getting out for $750 less than it would cost to add Ethernet and DVD pieces to the MBA – and you wind up with a faster system in the MacBook without having to carry any extra bits.

The MBA is basically the dream machine for CEOs, CIOs, other C_O douches and VPs who wish they were. It’s fashionable, it weighs nothing in the designer carry-on briefcase, you can check your email in the first class lounge and watch movies in flight. And that’s it. No FireWire port, so forget about any serious video work. Only one USB port, so forget about any peripheral work heavier than syncing your iPhone. And if you want to use the disc sharing feature to borrow somebody else’s DVD drive, you’ll need to carry around the installer DVD everywhere.

Workstation support staff of the world, I feel your pain. Every prima donna senior manager on earth is going to want one of these things.

At least with the iPhone, you can say yes, overly stylish and expensive and attractive to the kind of swine who became Republicans because of Alex P. Keaton, but it also completely replaces a laptop for two weeks at a time. Mostly, though, it’s a secondary device. The bottom line on the MBA is this: you could not get by with it as the only computer you owned.

Apple’s done some amazing things in the last decade, but this would be the most stunning of all if it works: creating an entirely new market segment for mid-life crisis computers.

Spring already?

You wouldn’t have thought it this morning – winter fog, the dense kind that makes it unnerving to drive around here where people can’t even cope with rain – but as of 3 PM, the sun is out and there’s blue sky and while there’s a damp sort of cool in the air, it definitely feels like spring felt growing up – well, maybe not proper spring, but the way it used to get around the last week in February when you’d actually break out shorts and a T-shirt…right before a foot of snow two weeks later.
But I guess that’s par for the course. Spring normally starts here in February, so I guess we’re ahead of schedule. Could be worse, though – at least it’s not pouring rain.
Anything happen in the tech world today?