18 January 2007

Hillary, Barack, Iraq, and 2008's Prospects

Those of you who've known me or have been reading my writing for a while will already know quite well my opinion of Hillary Clinton as a senator and as a presidential candidate. Now that Barack Obama has, essentially, thrown himself into the fray, I think some further discussion needs to happen.

First and foremost, this country seriously lags behind not in minority rights, but in minority status. Whereas minorities in this country have less and less every decade that holds them back, the fact of the matter is that the distribution of income and status in this country is neither uniform across race nor across genders. This is definitely the right time for more women and more people of all colours to get into politics. While I think it's fantastic that an increasing number of women are getting into politics (kudos and propers go out to Nancy Pelosi, our first female speaker of the house), I think there's cause for some caution in the 2008 elections coming up. Just as it would be wrong to vote for someone in a presidential election only because they were a man, it is equally wrong to vote for a woman only based on her gender. I feel like, with things the way they are and with Hillary Clinton running, there's a good probability she will get swept up by the gender vote.

This is a problem for me, because while I do think that Mrs. Clinton is very intelligent and certainly qualified for the Presidency, I disagree with so many of her policy decisions, stated opinions, and political allies that I could not bring myself to vote for her in '08. I think there are a tremendous amount of others in this country that, while perhaps not for the same reasons, do feel the same way. I disapprove of her record on the Iraq war, for one. Only just now is she saying that troops need to be redeployed away from Baghdad, and she voted in 2002 to approve the war to begin with. She has also ardently opposed any set timeline for troop removal. As if that weren't enough, she is buddies with Joe Lieberman and Tipper Gore, and supports their calls for censorship of video games—policies that I cannot abide.

It is definitely my opinion that, barring a serious coup from Obama or Edwards, Hillary will get the Democratic nomination, possibly by a wide margin. I don't think that she would perform well in a national election, though, and that's really the problem here.

Let's talk about Obama for a minute. Let's make this clear right off the bat: I like Obama. His continued, consistent opposition to the war in Iraq, work on improving Pell Grants (even though that bill got pigeonholed), and his immigration reform notions (which I found to be slightly more sensible than many alternatives) have all been pretty good. As a junior senator, though, the big question on everybody's minds is, is he experienced enough to be president? That I'm not so sure about. Even though I do think he'd have a pretty good chance of being elected, I'm not 100% sure yet whether or not he'd make a good president at this point. He's a junior senator here in Illinois, and he's only been in that national office for less than two years now. He did also serve in the Illinois state senate, but is that really enough? I believe it's possible, but I can't really know for sure.

We've still got a ways until it all throws down. For right now, let's focus on not letting this decaying republic fall apart. Until then, space cadets!

16 January 2007

Restoring Power to UCSC's Campus

Excerpt from a conversation I just had with Thom amid the power disruptions today at UCSC's campus.

Tom Gerdes (work)
11.50 it's dark. I'm tired of it being dark.
11.57 damn it max
11.57 make it less dark in here

max stahl
11.58 *starts a fire*

Tom Gerdes (work)
11.58 wooo... you rock. (power's back on)
11.59 that was actually kinda magical.

05 January 2007

On Safari

I wrote a long while ago about standards compliance and how the ACID2.0 test really is a valid thing to strive for, but today's experiences with Safari, which is ACID2.0 compliant, have shown me the other side of this argument. Standards, when you're talking about the world wide web, are by this point a constantly fluctuating near-consensus. This consensus, like any, is derived from the collective feelings of a lot of different users, web developers, and application developers. Since these can't agree (I'm looking at you, Microsoft) or can't keep up (that's right, Mozilla Foundation), what you get to develop for is a "standard" that is really just a mean value of everything everyone is doing right now. Browser vendors can't break existing, non-compliant sites by being too strict and web developers can't either. So things slowly, slowly, crawl.

Here's a conversation I had just earlier with Brandon while fighting with a web site that looked flawless in Firefox 1.5 and in IE6/7, but looked unbearably ugly in Safari. (Some editing was performed to clean up language and protect the innocent.)

Max: I cannot stress this enough. Real people with real lives shouldn't use Safari. It's shit.
Brandon: eh?
Max: Standards-compliant my aching ass.
Brandon: hahaha
Max: No I'm serious here.
Max: I do very little testing in Safari because every fix for Safari breaks everything else because nothing else complies to the standards like Safari does.
Max: So all the tricks I have to use to get things to work in IE totally break in Safari.
Brandon: ok, well that's IEs fault :P
Max: doesn't matter.
Max: You can't just sit back on your ass and be all like "Well, *we* comply with the standards" because it's not that simple anymore.
Brandon: yeah
Max: Like . . . Safari almost flawlessly conforms to CSS 2.0 and the XHTML 1.0 and 1.5 standards. Rockin'. That's great news. It still renders every non-compliant page out there worse than Henri Matisse without his glasses on.

The lesson to be learned here is that standards-compliance isn't everything, and until everyone in the whole world can bite the bullet and conform to just one standard, the internet's going to continue to be a frustrating place. I will say, however, that Brandon's right: this isn't all Safari's fault. It's IE's fault, maybe moreso than any other culprit out there. IE is always just far enough off the mark to make it really challenging to make richly styled pages work in both IE and Firefox. My point with Safari is that Firefox manages to be off the standard in similar enough fashion to IE that you can develop for both much easier than you could develop for Safari and IE simultaneously. That's the problem I've had today.

Until later, space cadets, I hope you're having more fun than I am.