South Hall Palm Tree Has Fallen

SIMS, berkeley, education, iSchool
image of a fallen palm tree near UC Berkeleys South Hall

Around midnight Jan. 9 2008, the large palm tree on the southwest side of South Hall fell down. From the look of it, a steam pipe underneath the root system essentially cooked the palm's root system. I took some pictures of the magnificent shrub, click on the image above to see the Flickr set.

Random Thoughts (2008-01-08)

music, wtf?, education, development
Neurosis Given to the Rising image (a horse with antlers affixed to the side of its face)
  • Neurosis' new album Given to the Rising is drop-dead gorgeous... some of the best music I've heard in a long time. A dude at Lanesplitters tells me that the vinyl version has a DVD inside that explains the artwork and the arc of the album. A-freakin'-mazing art... probably their best album (no shit).

  • Re The Wire's new season: Why doesn't it ever snow in their version of Baltimore? Does that make for bad TV or do they only film from Spring to Fall?

  • I just got my Merkur "hefty classic" and am taking bets on if I'll cut myself (and how many times) on it's first use tomorrow.

  • My XO laptop makes a great ebook reader.

UPDATE [2008-01-09T11:27:25]: Well, those of you who put your money on the possibility of me cutting the living crap out of my face were right on the money. Lame.

Wetshaving is a good thing...

hacks, photos, research

Yes, I'm now a wetshaver... Well, it's probably no doubt a lingering influence from the very wonderful Mr. Burton's Sweeney Todd, but I recently decided to get a bit more serious about shaving.

After a bit of research, it turns out that you can get a better shave by just using a good brush and a decent shaving soap or cream (you can tell by the picture I'm using a Kingsley badger bristle brush and L'Occitane's Cade shaving cream). The concept of a wetshave is just that: the idea is to make sure your face is wet as possible with hot water before you apply warm shaving cream while making sure that you use more cream if you have to make another pass of the blade.

The end result is a smooth, close shave with no irritation whatsoever. I've even decided to discard my cartridge razor for a real safety razor. Shaving is now joy! Thanks goes to the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Daily Mammal is totally impressive

blogging, friends, development

A friend, Jennifer at the Daily Mammal, just completed what can only be called a mammalathon: she illustrated 24 mammals in 24 hours. The idea was to have people sponsor a mammal by donating to $25 each to Defenders of Wildlife, then Jennifer would illustrate roughly one mammal per hour. Ted, her husband, kept updating the blog with status posts (check out the pics of Jennifer right after starting and then right before finishing!). I asked Jennifer to illustrate something obscure that would be fun to draw... so she did the very weird Gerenuk or giraffe-necked antelope.

A very cool idea for a very good cause. I don't know if I have a skill that I could do for 24-hours to do a similar fundraising event... hacking? baking? running?

Definging "random" in Ohio

elections, reform, standards, wtf?, problems, friends, research, policy, legal

Ohio is one of the many states that has a paper trail (VVPAT) requirement but doesn't also conduct post-election audits (hand tallying of the paper records as a check against the electronic records before the results of the election are certified). However, as part of any recount in Ohio (whether triggered or requested) precincts corresponding to 3% of the vote must be randomly selected and hand counted (if the hand and electronic tallies agree, the rest can be recounted by machine; if not, all ballots must be hand counted).

The OH Secretary of State has recently issued a Directive that specifies how precincts are to be chosen randomly in a recount "Directive 2007-30: Recount Procedures".

Here is the scheme specified in that directive (this is from page 6 of the Directive):

  1. Draw a "political subdivision" (township, city, etc.) within the electoral district by lot.
  2. Choose the lowest numbered or lettered ("A" being low) precinct.
  3. Go to the next political subdivision and choose the lowest numbered or lettered precinct.
  4. Do this until you encompass enough votes to make up 3% of the votes cast in the race being recounted. When you run out of political subdivions, start over choosing the next highest precinct.

This is decidedly not random. The selection of which political subdivision to start with is; it's chosen by lot. But the precincts chosen will always be those that have low numbers or letters.

UPDATE [2007-12-23T16:12:29]: This was originally published last month with a snarky, disrespectful tone. I've since edited it to be more objective. In case you are wondering, yes, I believe that the OH SoS is aware of this issue and why it's a problem.

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