Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why you should learn to drive a manual early in life

Continuing on the James Bond theme, here's an perfect example of how embarrassing it can be when you don't have a particular skill that was once ubiquitous. Daniel Craig the actor couldn't drive the Aston Martin DBS.
A look inside the new Bond car, which is based on the current DB9, reveals upholstery in a soft dark suedelike material, quilted in a diamond pattern; the instruments and shifter gleam from every carefully machined corner and curve. That shifter reportedly presented a challenge for Daniel Craig, the new actor playing Bond. Reports from the set were that filming shut down for several days while Mr. Craig learned to drive a manual transmission.

Parents, teach your kids how to drive a stick! (As well as other modes of transportation: bikes, swimming, motorcycles, trucks, etc.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Casino Royale

Big weekend, with the release of Casino Royale, the new 007 movie staring my namesake, Daniel Craig. I'm split about how I feel about it. It's pretty cool being named after James Bond, but it's hard not to be a little selfish with your own name. But hey, at least I'm not named after Michael Bolton, like the guy in office space :)

But this (below) is too cool not to pass on. Some nice photoshop work by my buddy/coworker Ryan. Except that I actually am that ripped. Haha.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Making the Switch

After many months of contemplating and one returned order, I'm now a Mac person for good. Last night night, I picked up a new MacBook.

So far, I'm thrilled with it. It's sexy and quiet (unlike the mini that I bought earlier and ended up returning because it sounded like a jet engine). Even though I only had the mini a couple days, it was enough to get me hooked on OS X Tiger. It really is a thing of beauty. I was intimidated by Macs for a long time, but the more time I've spent in the business of user interfaces, the more I've come to appreciate the elegance and the detail put into the UI. There are a lot of good ideas in the UI that are transferable to the avionics world.

A couple of surprises so far: I'm very impressed with the quality of the speakers. Usually laptop speakers entirely suck, but these are pretty good. Obviously don't fill out the low end, but from mid-range up, they sound great. I also found what could be the coolest text editor, in the form of TextMate. I'm just using the trial for now, and really most of the text editor use I have is at work. Anyone know of an equivalently awesome editor for Windows?

While I love the UI in general, I do have a couple gripes. There's the standard one about the lack of a two buttons on the touchpad. Having to press Ctrl seems a little odd to get to the right click stuff. Although, they did do the two-finger scrolling right. I also wish the home and end keys worked like they do in Windows, where you can press Ctrl-Home to go to the beginning of the line or Ctrl-End to go to the end of the line. I saw on a forum where a mac snob asked contemptuously, "who uses that feature anyway?" I do! But, all in all, it's awesome.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wrong About Rumsfeld

Looks like my post-election predicting has gotten off to a poor start, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned today. Perhaps President Bush is sensitive to public opinion after all? Or maybe he didn't want to go through the ordeal of having his embattled Defense Secretary hauled up before the committees and held accountable for the disaster than has become Iraq.

I still don't trust any of the president's words about working with Democrats, though I suppose he'll have to whether he likes it or not. Maybe he knows what's coming and is trying to ingratiate himself with the public as a bipartisan champion before the investigations begin.

One more post-election thought...

If I were Bush and the GOP for the next couple years, I would be doing my best to do what the Democrats should have been doing for the last six: split the opposition. A lot of the new Democrats are conservative on social issues, so the president, and possibly the Senate if they retain control, should be pressing wedge issues against the Democrats that are not an issue for the GOP. This will likely take form in gay marriage, which is the most explosive, but could come along in other vehicles such as the estate tax and gun control.

Democrats would be wise to focus on what unifies them and splits the GOP. Specifically, economic and corruption issues. Democrats should investigate every possible aspect of Republican corruption, along with less black and white issues like excessive earmarking and the lobbyist scandals. Democrats should push hard to balance the budget and get in good with the financial markets. Force the distinction between responsible free markets and corrupt business using insider government contacts to win favors and restrain competition.

They should also focus on defense. Investigations into corruption and mishandling of the Iraq war would be good topics. Hearings on how the GOP sold out our troops to enrich their cronies. Other legislation could be to require open and transparent defense contracts, or specifically high-profile appropriations for purchasing body armor for the troops. Perhaps and even more dramatic move could be to pass legislation for increasing the size of the armed forces, something that Bush has resisted. These kinds of actions could put the rest the notion that Democrats are the sissy party and replace it with the notion that the Democrats are the party of responsibility in the face of Republican free-for-all.

Bedtime Election Notes

As of 12:27 AM EST, the news outlets have called the House for the Democrats, but the Senate is still up for grabs. I'm amazed at the late resurgence of Jim Web, who has about a 2000 vote lead with 99% of the precincts reporting. If George Allen loses, then what remained of his possibility of a run for the White House is done. All the better, he is an odd character, a son of privilege who doesn't come across as very talented and has an all-too-creepy love for the confederacy. To me, he was the next possible George W. Bush to come along. Without him, the other possibles, McCain, Romney, Frist, at least are articulate.

I'm also excited to see Jon Tester coming out with a solid lead, even though there are still a lot of votes to count. It's cliche now, but the future of the Democratic Party is in guys like him. The next Democratic presidential contender won't come from out there, but maybe in '12 or '16. I'm still hoping for Obama to run in '08. I also think Deval Patrick, the newly elected governor here in Massachusetts, has huge potential to become a national Democratic star. He'll need to prove himself in office first, but he certainly has the prerequisites and it's his for the taking.

CNN Results
NYTimes Results

Other thoughts:

The next two years will be a period of stalemate in terms of laws passed. But don't be surprised if Bush pushes some conservative base pleasing bills that make the Democratic congress reject them. Think a reverse of the Defense of Marriage Act, where Congress passed the law and Clinton felt compelled to sign. I bet Bush pushes, at least as talking points if not as bills, all the issues that will stir up the base, forcing the Democrats to come out against them, so that their statements get used in the next election cycle.

But, the big thing the Democrats will have is the subpoena power. Finally, we can hold some investigations into the utterly corrupt dealings of the Republican-led government. I'm not really sure what will come out, but I bet there are some nasty, embarrassing things coming out of the GOP under oath.

Some are saying that Rumsfeld will go, but I doubt it. Bush doesn't care about congress and he's not running for reelection. The Democrats should and will rake Rumsfeld over the coals, but I would put money on Bush standing by him. Bush doesn't value competence, he values loyalty. Plus, if he were removed, he'd have to go through a confirmation process that would rightly be pretty rough.

What will really be interesting is to see how Bush handles subpoenas. Given the administration's attitudes toward executive power, I wouldn't be surprised to see some legal battles over government power, likely in the form of the administration refusing to obey the subpoena. Likely this will be due to some national security justification.

Late Update:
I sure hope that there isn't another recount fiasco in Virginia like the 2000 election in Florida.