As the clocks shifted and our sense of time warped, as it does semi-annually, my own sense of time shifted as well. Hyperdrive, you might say. The chores, the preparation, the meetings, all are on the verge of piling up for November. The month itself is never long enough, and always seems overflowing. Like an end-of-the year February.

There are moments of downtime in the next four weeks, but they don’t appear to come where I need them.


Voting Process

I’m going to propose a new voting process, at least for Presidential elections, but eventually to be phased in for all elections.

I recently read a survey from Tennessee that indicate that most voters could not correctly match the candidates with their policy perscriptions. As a result, it’s become clear to me that voters are not actually voting for candidates that they necessarily agree with, and for policies that they may not support. This strikes me as a major failing of democracy. After all, the candidate is less important than the policies that candidate plans to implement.

Therefore, all future ballots should eliminate the actual names of the candidates/policies. Instead, voters will now use a matrix to indicate their favorite issues, such as abortion, gun control, tax cuts, the balanced budget, the war on terrorism, etc., and their position on the issue (i.e. for or against). This will lead to a number between 0 and 100. Where the two candidates positions on an issue are measurabley similar, the issue will not be counted in the final tally, in order to provide us solely with contrasts. Each candidate, in the end, will be based at each end of the spectrum, and whomever has more ballots closer to his/her position based on the distribution wins the election.

This will enable us to move closer to voting on what really matters, the issues.


Clear Spin

I have made my decision in the upcoming election fairly clear to anyone who has asked me anything about the election. I’m not shy about stating who I’m planning to vote for or why. But the recent allegations around al Qaaqaa, and the attempted spin by the White House to deny their own responsibility in the matter is simply galling. More info on the Fox spin attempts are available here.

The timeline, as I understand it is relatively well-established, although it may be necessary to wade through multiple stories to see the full picture.

The IAEA had more than 350 metric tonnes of explosives under seal in Iraq, which they monitored over a several year period leading up to the US invasion. These explosives were considered dual-use items, with both non-military (and more specifically, non-WMD) and military purposes. Prior to the invasion, the IAEA pulled out its staff, although they made one last check to ensure that the weapons remained in place under seal up to a week before the invasion. The IAEA also informed the US about the weapons under seal there, and in fact, this had been included in Colin Powell’s UN presentation prior the commencement of the war. Long and short, the US was AWARE of the contents of the facility, meaning ignorance was not an excuse.

On April 3rd to April 4th, US forces passed through al Qaaqaa, but no attempts were made to secure the facility. Some testing was done to attempt to identify if chemical weapons were present, but only more “run-of-the-mill” explosives were found. Offhand reports indicate that the seals were still intact, although no thorough accounting of the inventory was done, to the best of the public’s knowledge.

On April 10th, additional US forces passed through the facility, but again no attempt was made to secure the facility, nor was a thorough accounting of the explosives made at this time. In fact, no real search was carried out, and one of the commanders has publically admitted that to have secured the facility would have required four times the number of troops provided. Additional evidence indicates that the explosives were under seal as late as April 18th, 2003.

Sometime after this, the explosives went missing. Once the Bush Administration was the de facto head of the Iraqi state. And, as far as anyone has admitted publically, no significant effort was made to locate or secure the explosives.

What’s more, the US-run government in Iraq received warning about the missing explosives long before the loss of the explosives was reported to the IAEA. And yet they either informed no one in the White House or no one in the White House card until the Iraqi government informed the IAEA directly, which triggered a process of its own. Furthermore, there was in fact pressure on the Iraqis to not even report the incident at all.

The loss of the explosives is disturbing, as they could be anywhere now, in just about anyone’s hands. But this simply didn’t have to be the case. The Bush Administration KNEW that the weapons were there. They knew before the invasion, they knew during the invasion, and they knew after the invasion. And they did absolutely nothing about it. Until mid-October, 2004, a year and a half later, when the cat was finally let out of the bag. And the weapons had long since vanished.

How anyone could vote for an administration this incompetent is beyond me.


World Series

Presidential Election Day is my Superbowl, my World Series. Every election season I follow the candidates, the policies, the spin, the punditry. I read the commentary, listen to the spin, wade through the policy wonks. And it all comes down to the first Tuesday of November. Months of following candidates and their campaigns either suceeds or fails.

I’m tingling in anticipation. Just five more days.



“Florida voters should have complete confidence in the voter systems we’re using, and for Congressman Wexler to try to erode the voter confidence or put doubt in the voter’s mind does a real disservice to the voters of Florida,” Hood spokeswoman Jenny Nash said.

Why? Isn’t it in our best interests for people to raise issues when there’s a concern? Isn’t that how we move forward?


Password Change Day

I hate the week after network-password-change day.


Lest You Think…

Based on my earlier post, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m still haunted by the events of a few years ago, or that I still wallow about in my own misery. Who has time for it, anyway? There are too many places to go, people to see, work to be done. Truthfully, it would have never even occurred to me that this was the same day if Tammy wasn’t having a dinner party (and I know you read this, but please, don’t feel guilty!). I take it as a sign of my own growth that I could write and post such an entry, as a sign that I’m not the same person I was just a few years ago.


In Memory of Bryan Batista

Regular readers of my blog may know that the personal items I post are usually superficial. If you know me, you may give them some deeper meaning, but rarely do I write anything deeply personal. Given the five year anniversary today, I’m making an exception to that rule. For some, this may be a difficult topic, but it’s important to not forget.

From the Daily Targum, October 24, 1999:

Early Saturday morning, University police, responding to a call, found an 18-year-old College of Engineering student dead after he fell nine stories from the McCormick residence hall on the Busch campus.
Bryan G. Batista was pronounced dead shortly after 7:25 a.m. on Saturday, according to a statement released by the University.
The initial call to police was made by a preceptor, according the statement.
Batista apparently jumped from the 10th floor of the residence hall, Leslie Fehrenbach, vice president of administration and public safety, said.
According to the statement, University police said they found Batista on the roof of the first level.
A note, which has been classified as a suicide note, was found in his room in the Davidson residence hall on the Busch campus, Fehrenbach said.
“We really don’t know much more than that at this point, the investigation is ongoing,” she said.
University Police Chief Anthony Murphy said that, based on the investigation and the evidence, they believe the death to be a suicide, but “there are still some people detectives have to speak to.”
“Some people who knew him saw him that night,” he said. Murphy said speaking to those people will “help us establish a time line.”
Fehrenbach said she believed it happened between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.
But members of the family said they did not believe the 18 year old had committed suicide.

“He was definitely the support system for myself and my family,” his sister, Cassandra, said. The 22 year old described him as “completely grounded, so sincere and really self adjusted.”
His sister said that while she was older, she often felt as if Bryan was the older brother.
She said the North Brunswick High School graduate played guitar and composed piano music.
Cassandra Batista said her brother was “incredibly outgoing and social, (he) had such an engaging personality.”
She said he was “incredibly sensitive, I think really beyond his years.”
Even in his first year of college, she said he had no trouble adjusting.
Cassandra Batista said she had expected her brother to have the same anxiety about starting school that she did, but found that he adjusted quickly and was very happy.
He was pledging a fraternity on campus and participating in activities on campus, she said.
The family is planning a memorial service for tomorrow morning at 11:30 a.m.
The family said they will most likely be having the service at St. Michael’s Church on Davidson Road, but they could not confirm plans until this morning.

The phone rang shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday morning. Elias, the graduate student in charge of our staff, was on the phone. He needed me to come down for an emergency staff meeting. I recall saying something about not caring much for these emergency staff meetings (this was already the second significant emergency staff meeting in the two months I’d taken the position as a preceptor). I can’t recall if I was the first one down, but shortly after those of us who were still around over the weekend were assembled in the staff office in our building. The mood was not upbeat.

Tammy had found his body, outside her window on the roof of the connecting passageway between the lowrise and the highrise buildings. Her residents had woken her up coming home from New York City, as they saw someone lying outside on the roof. She’s recalled saying that she was hoping he was ok, maybe just drunk. People had been sneaking on to McCormick roofs for years, after all. To top it off, it was her 21st birthday that day. Elias, as he was coming over from the building where his apartment was, had seen the broken window from the 10th floor lounge and suspected immediately what had happened.

Those of us who were there were dispatched to watch the floor lounges until the emergency services crew completed their work. As residents were waking up we didn’t want them congregating, although there were still plenty of vantage points around. At least one of my residents was watching, and although she couldn’t recognize him at the time, they were friends from high school.

The next few days were a jumble of meetings, appointments, counseling sessions for everyone involved, his funeral service, which was attended by a huge number of students and staff from Rutgers. His death affected many people, and there were many people wondering how he could make such a choice.

From my own experiences, I didn’t feel a need to ask that question. Sometimes, there doesn’t feel like you have any other choices. It’s an escape, certainly, but sometimes you don’t feel like there’s any reason not to escape. Coping becomes too exhausting.

For several years, I had a firm belief that I wouldn’t live past twenty. I had been in counseling off and on for a few years, and I’d alternately felt sad, hopeless, and tired. My depression spanned a seven year period, and while there were repreives, moments when I was happy or when I was enjoying myself, it was always there. It was the motivation behind some of my more irrational behaviors. Therre were moments I’d just wanted to give up. I would lie in bed thinking about being erased, about dying. I would be driving on Route 18 over the Raritan River between campuses at night and have visions of steering off the bridge. I was haunted by moments like that, and I wasn’t able to express myself to others.

By the morning of Saturday, October 23rd, I had been living and working through my emotions and was finally coming out the other side. I still had the dark, difficult days, but on the whole I was coming to terms with myself. But while other people were asking why, I found I could understand to a certian extent the whys. I am still here today, and for that I’m quite happy. I saw firsthand how his death affected so many people, including those like myself that never knew im in life. I can say now, though, that I love being alive. I may have my down moments, but I also believe better days are around the corner. That I am strong, and can cope with what life brings my way.


Site of the Day

Today’s clear winner in the site of the day contest.


We apologize for the delay

We apologize for the delay. Unfortunately, we’re currently experiencing technical difficulties which prohibit us from sending e-mail.

This actually happened about a month or two ago, when all outgoing mail through the mail server stopped sending. Pointing at my optimum online server helped temporarily, but that looks to be blocked now too. Which is inconvenient, to say the least. JCentric has not been responding to support cases, either, which has annoyed me beyond mere words.

Switching hosting providers again, although a pain to do, is looking better and better.