Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I see where I am wrong

Once again, I've let my blog go too long without an entry. But I'm starting to see what I'm doing wrong. One thing I found out a while ago was that I should never say what my next entry will be about. This would be fine for a real writer who can write on demand. But I'm a poor writer who needs to think about things too long in order to write about them. Realizing this mistake doesn't keep me from making it. I will try to just write what I want to as often as I can. I will try not to limit myself by saying beforehand what I'm going to write about next.

Today I realized another problem - I'm trying to write great, profound pieces each time I write. Again, that would be fine for a good writer but it doesn't work for me. I need to take a cue from my wife's blog and write more often about every day things. She has an entertaining blog and sometimes it is really profound. But she doesn't try to make every entry an opinion piece worthy of The Atlantic. It is nice to be able to look back at her blog and be reminded about something we did. It also helps us remember when we did certain things.

So, paraphrasing something we used to say in the 70's, this is the first blog entry of the rest of my life.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My idea to increase voting rates

Well, this election is over and we voted in very high numbers. Some say it was the highest voter turnout in 40 years and others say it was the highest percentage in 100 years. But this was an especially compelling election with big problems to fix and with a big backlash against a very unpopular President. How do we keep these numbers up?

As I was watching the election coverage last night, I thought about how we divide up the electoral votes for each state and how we divide up the number of representatives each state can send to the House of Representatives. They are both based on the relative populations of the states. That's why the Census is very important that we run every ten years. Each state goes to great lengths to make sure all of its people are counted. But I was thinking that, even with the great turnout we had in this election (about 64% according to some), that means we are dividing up our representation by including 36% of the people who don't even vote. And that's on a record breaking year! If they don't care enough to vote, why should they count in deciding representation? Just because someone is sitting there taking up space shouldn't be a reason to give one state more representation than another. How do we get more people to vote?

My idea is to divide up electoral votes and Representatives to the House based on the number of people that voted in the last national election. Then it would be in everyone's interest to go out and vote. The states would do a much better job of encouraging people to vote and to make voting an easier and more pleasant experience. Another advantage to this would be that the representation would be recalculated more often and be closer to the real number. Right now we're working from data that was calculated during the last census in 2000.

One problem with this would be voting fraud. It would be much more important to guard against this and it would be tougher because the state government might be tempted to encourage it or at least not try as hard to stop it. There would have to be better ways to prevent voting fraud. But I think that is a problem that could be overcome. My idea is kind of like when Major League Baseball decided to make the All Star Game mean something by giving the league that won the game the home field advantage for the World Series. Now the players have an additional reason for playing hard in the game.

Anyway - congratulations Mr. Obama. I think you make a fine President and I will be praying for you and your cabinet.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A quick story

Yes, yes yes - I know- I've been lazy about my blog. I've got some great stories to tell but there just isn't time. But I just reminded myself of a story that I have to write down before I forget it again.

One of my (minor) responsibilities at work is to handle the installer for our software product for the Apple Macintosh. Whenever we release a new version, I have to make sure we can install it on OS X - the operating system for the Macs. One day, we were having trouble with the installer on a certain version of OS X and we had one test machine with that version. I hadn't used that computer before so I had to create an account for myself. I noticed that two of the other guys in our group already had accounts on this machine and they had small pictures by their name in the start-up screen to help identify their accounts. I liked that and thought I'd add a picture to my account when I was ready.

I went through the set-up procedure and when it was done, it offered a picture for me to use for my account. It was the picture of a not very nice looking old man who seemed to be in a bad mood. "Why in the world would they offer me that picture?", I fumed. Then it dawned on me - this nice, new Mac monitor had a built-in camera and, while I was setting up the new account, it had taken a picture of me setting up the account! It offered my picture as the one to identify the new account.

I shifted from admiration for Apple's software for setting up a new account to disgust for what I've come to look like in unguarded moments. When did I become an old man?