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September 2008 Archives

IN A WORLD...

...where Don LaFontaine has passed away, our movie trailers will never be the same again. The man died on September 1, but I never got around to posting it on my blog. I just saw a movie trailer on TV, though, and it made me miss him. :(

Here's a little video about him:

YouTube link

Reading and Writing Text Messages while driving now illegal in California

The Governor just signed Senate Bill 28. Relevant portion:

   23123.5.  (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using
an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read
a text-based communication.
   (b) As used in this section "write, send, or read a text-based
communication" means using an electronic wireless communications
device to manually communicate with any person using a text-based
communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred
to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.
   (c) For purposes of this section, a person shall not be deemed to
be writing, reading, or sending a text-based communication if the
person reads, selects, or enters a telephone number or name in an
electronic wireless communications device for the purpose of making
or receiving a telephone call.
   (d) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a
base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty
dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.
   (e) This section does not apply to an emergency services
professional using an electronic wireless communications device while
operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section
165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.

According to this Sacramento Bee article, it goes into effect on January 1, and the $20 and $50 will actually be more like $76 and $175 after factoring in court fees. However, as with the hands-free law, it will not result in a "point".

Techniques for polling about a sensitive subject

Here's an interesting article about the techniques AP used to get accurate results about the impact of race on the election. Their estimate is that Obama would get about 6% more votes if he weren't black. (The real questions in my mind are how much the polls reflect that, and how it varies in each of the swing states.)

Fey '08!

SNL Link

Freak like me

freakonomics-headings.jpg Sweet. My cousin informed me that the Freakonomics Blog at New York Times has remixed my photo of the back of my friend's head. :) Here's the original.

This marks the second instance I know of someone remixing one of my photos. Here's the first. :P (And here's the original of that one.)

Proposal Fail

YouTube link

The best part is at the 1'12" mark. I wish I had a mascot to comfort me every time something traumatic happened in my life.

Comcast announces a 250 GB/month bandwidth cap as of October 1

I'm a few days late with this, but Comcast is going to put a 250 GB/month bandwidth cap on their cable Internet service as of October 1. I think this is good thing. For background, what they're been doing so far is that if you use "too much" bandwidth, they warn you without telling you what line you've crossed. 250 GB/month is a reasonable cap (unlike the 5-40 GB caps that some ISP have implemented), and people are increasingly demanding an explicit cap instead of a secret one. (I think maybe their fear was that, by announcing it explicitly, people would be tempted to use more bandwidth just so they're not "wasting" any in a given month? But I think ultimately most people wouldn't go downloading stuff just for the hell of it.)

The Curious Case of Vice President Richard Johnson

So the latest electoral-vote.com report [scroll down] mentioned Vice President Richard Johnson who served under Martin Van Buren. The man's got an interesting story.

During the 1836 election, Van Buren chose Johnson because of his record as a war hero, having been credited with killing Indian leader Tecumseh in the War of 1812. The only trouble was Johnson's relationship with his slave Julia Chinn (of mixed ancestry). Many men had such relationships at the time, but they kept them on the down-low. Johnson had it in the open and considered her to be his common-law wife. According to this page [i.e. random person on the Internet], he said, "Unlike Jefferson, Clay, Poindexter and others, I married my wife under the eyes of God, and apparently He has found no objections."

Johnson and Chinn had two daughters together, and he insisted (often in vain) that they be accepted in society. There was an incident where he was giving a speech and asked his daughters to sit with the white women. When the white women kicked his daughters out, Johnson gave an abbreviated speech, grabbed his daughters, and left.

So in large part because of this, he barely got the Democratic Party's nomination even though Van Buren was popular. During the general election, Van Buren won, but Virginia's 23 electors refused to heed their state decision and did not vote for Johnson, leaving him one electoral vote short. This led to the only time in history that the Senate had to vote for the Vice President (there being no one with a majority electoral college vote), and he won along party lines there. In 1840, Van Buren didn't ask him back on the re-election ticket, running without a mate. (Van Buren ended up losing.)

Back to his interracial family: Both of his daughters married white men, and he gave them a lot of land. One of his daughters died young, in 1936. When Johnson himself died, the courts ruled that his other daughter was not a legitimate heir

So I was reading this, and it sounded like he was a pretty stand-up guy on the whole standing up to racism thing. But the I read this bit: After his wife's death, he had a relationship with another slave. When she left him for another man, he had her captured and then auctioned off! So much for slaves' rights.

About September 2008

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in September 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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