Russell's Blog

New. Improved. Stays crunchy in milk.

Bad Django, no cookie

Posted by Russell on September 25, 2008 at 4:54 p.m.
A few days ago, the new Django 1.0 packages got installed on our colo machine. Evidently, the Django people decided to break a whole ton of stuff. It took me a couple of days of desperate hacking to get the site up and running again before classes started.

Bad Django. No cookie.

Weak sauce

Posted by Russell on September 25, 2008 at 3:17 p.m.
So, it looks like once again, the Democrats are letting themselves get stampeded into yet another colossal Whitehouse-hyped fiasco. Everyone is so very impressed with Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, and their wonderful credentials, that they're willing to take their bullshit at face value. Remember Colin Powel's photos of Iraqi mobile weapons labs? Remember the incredible haste with with which Congress was forced to ram through amnesty for treasonous telecommunication companies? Remember the $300 billion we blew on the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008? Like most Americans, I sent most of mine to the Saudis. Pfft.

I am continuously astonished by the ability of conservatives to refuse to, you know, conserve. When difficult times come along, there is somehow always a refusal to prioritize and make sacrifices. That doesn't make the difficult times go away, so instead we end up sacrificing important things instead of unimportant things. For example, when it was clear a few months ago that consumer spending was flagging, it was decided that putting a few extra dollars in the people's pockets would help.

What did Congress do, at the urging of the Whitehouse? It borrowed the money. If that were the only way to put a few hundred bucks in people's pockets, then so be it. But it wasn't. One of the things that was taking money out of people's pockets was the spike in gasoline prices. Push prices down, and everyone who uses gasoline would be that much richer. What's the simplest way to reduce gas prices? Why, to use less of it, of course. What's the simplest way to do that? Impose a speed limit. Duh.

A conservative financial decision would have been to lay it out to the American people this way: We can either borrow the money to give to you, and then make you pay for it with higher debt maintenance payments and higher taxes, or we can impose a 55 MPH speed limit for 200 days. Now, driving 55 sucks, but don't you think it'd be worth it to avoid running up the debt? Don't you think it'd be worth it for lower prices and a little extra money in your pocket every week?

But no! Driving huge vehicles far, fast and for no reason is the American Way of Life! It's evidently more important to protect the sanctity of the gas pedal than to safeguard the solvency of our republic.

First actual week of grad school

Posted by Russell on September 24, 2008 at 1:28 a.m.
When it rains, it pours! I've been hanging around all summer wondering what to do with myself, and now suddenly there is a huge explosion of activity. After a four day expedition to Davis to sign paperwork at Graduate Studies, register for classes, look for a job, look for an apartment, and get a sense of what it will be like to live here, I drove back to Los Angeles for my cousin Nathalie's wedding (Sunday) and my great aunt's 88th birthday (Monday). Both were beautiful. Then I packed my car and drove back to Davis this afternoon.

Tomorrow, I have a job interview and tour for an on-campus job working in one of the Department of Entomology greenhouses. Not quite as good as a TA position, but it would pay for rent and get me outside and moving around on a regular basis.

I still haven't found a place to live yet, but a very nice fellow from my department is letting me crash on his living room floor until I do. Classes were supposed to start Thursday, but evidently the professor for that course isn't here yet.

Off to Davis

Posted by Russell on September 15, 2008 at 2:36 p.m.
The student affairs officer at UC Davis said that there are possibly some TA fellowships still available from other departments. I want to make sure I get one, so I'm jumping in my car and driving to up to Davis with a couple of crumpled bills in my pocket, a shopping bag of canned soup, and an empty bank account.

Ah, adventure! I'll try not to get E. coli poisoning this time.

Copy editors needed

Posted by Russell on September 14, 2008 at 10:36 p.m.
It looks like the New York Times was seriously shocked by Sunday's news. So shocked, it seems, that that they left grammatical errors all over their headline story about Lehman Brothers :
A.I.G. will be the next test. Ratings agencies threatened to downgrade A.I.G.’s credit rating if it does not raise $40 billion by Monday morning, a step that would crippled the company. A.I.G. had hoped to shore itself up, in party by selling certain businesses, but potential bidders, including the private investment firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and TPG, withdrew at the last minute because the government refused to provide a financial guarantee for the purchase. A.I.G. rejected an offer by another investor, J. C. Flowers & Company.
I think the copy editors must have been on the phone to their brokers.