accountabilitybloke (old blog)

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Rant and found art….

You are probably wondering about the following picture. Can you guess what it might be? Read on for the sad story behind this rant-filled post.

Filter thread as found art

Although I cannot locate it now, I think in some post many months ago I’ve mentioned my hate/love relationship with our swimming pool — actually, mostly hate….

When we moved to New England eleven years ago we had a specific community in mind (where my spouse worked) as well as the need for access to commuter rail since (at the time) I was working in New Jersey. Well, after being shown five houses — all, I believe with swimming pools — we purchased our current residence and along with it came a 40,000 gallon in-ground vinyl swimming pool.

[By the way, the “swimming weather” in our area is three months long, if we’re lucky, and we live one mile from the beach and a quarter mile from a YMCA with a world class swimming pool… Also, I don’t swim — I float. My spouse wades in maybe two or three times a year. I don’t think either my son or daughter have been in the pool in all these years. In short, our pool is an absurdity…]

Taking care of this albatross is a costly, time consuming and utterly valueless activity. I cannot tell you how much I despise this monster – even while looking forward to a good float on the one or two very hot days we might get in a summer….

I tell all this because we have been having a problem with our pool filter, and recently we came to the conclusion that it was time to change the sand in the filter. There are different views on how often to make the change, but every five years seems the average advice we get. As it turns out in the eleven years we have lived here we had not replaced the sand once — and probably the folks who had the house before us did not do so for probably several years.

So we arranged for the service call, and two kids from the pool service came and vacuumed out the dirty sand (it really was disgusting) and put in 200 pounds of fresh sand.

But then as they finished up they realized that there was a leak in the dome cap, and upon inspection it was evident that a thread had worn out and required repair. Unfortunately, the possibility of a simple “repair” is unlikely, and so we might have to waste another $700 or so replace the upper dome structure of the filter….

To say the least, I was not pleased with this news, and so I asked the pool service folks to send out their top technician to take a look. To help matters along I asked Randi to take a picture of the broken unit so we could email it to the technician to see what he thought.

Which brings me to the second point of this post (the first: having an opportunity to vent about how much I hate this pool!!!!).

The picture Randi took was actually pretty interesting, and my son and I convinced her to use it for her daily blog. She mumbled something about “found art” and “the role of the artist” — but she posted it nonetheless.

Pretty interesting — and if you zoom in a bit you can see the damaged thread.

Now I have to hope that the technician decides there is an easy and cheap fix for this….

July 2nd, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments

MSNBC as the new Fox News….

In our household we’ve developed a taste for MSNBC as the anti-Fox News cable station, but the folks there seem to be engage in a left-leaning emulation of Fox News rather than providing an alternative model. Put bluntly, they seem wiling to do anything to keep those growing numbers up, even if it involves manipulation of the storyline to stir the juices….

Case in point is the obvious push of the MSNBC crew to label Obama as just another politician who is heading to the right and away from some imagined position on the left. Rachel Maddow [who, despite this evening’s performance, deserves a regular spot of her own (hear her interview on On The Media)], sat in for Keith Olbermann tonight and was clearly engaged in spinning the current Arianna Huffington argument that Obama is abandoning his established positions. Much of this can be seen as an effort by the MSNBC folks to offset its growing image as the anti-Bush, pro-Obama station (which it certainly deserves), while at the same time maintaining its credibility among the blogging left headed by Huffington, Kos and company. Not that there is anything wrong with that…. But perhaps they are carrying this a bit too far.

July 2nd, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments

The chutzpah of audacity….

It is a point so basic to constitutional law that every textbook on American government makes note of it — and a point so inspired by “common sense” that one would question the sanity (if not intelligence) of anyone who argues to the contrary.

In any social context there are no absolute rights. Period.

Perhaps the best known expression of this “duh!” principle is Oliver Wendell Holmes’ famous observation that even the “most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic….” And despite the ground-breaking nature of Justice Scalia’s opinion in the Washington DC gun case that finally established the existence of a “right to keep and bear arms” in the Second Amendment, his opinion clearly acknowledges the limited nature of that right.

But, of course, had you listened to most of the media headline blaring coverage you would miss that point. As usual it was over simplified or the qualifier was handled with speed and little or no comment.

The same is true of the sound bite coverage of Obama’s statement on the decision which now seems to have him abandoning his supposed long-standing position on the far left as another pandering move to the gun-toting right. It would have been one thing for him to come out with some little tidbit about having gone out shooting a rifle at his grandparents home in Kansas (or Hawaii, or wherever), but it is another for him to make the “constitutional-law-professor” statement he offered on the subject. When

“asked about gun rights, Obama said, “I believe the Second Amendment means something.” Weighing in on a long-running debate among scholars, Obama said he believes the Constitution confers on individuals the right to bear arms, and was not intended by the framers to simply provide for militias. The senator once taught constitutional law.

“There is an individual right to bear arms. But it’s subject to common sense regulation, just like most of our rights are subject to common sense regulations,” said Obama.

The statement, by the way, was reported on February 15, 2008 while he was on the campaign trail in Wisconsin. It was a position he reasserted on the day the Supreme Court decision came down in DC v. Heller.

But that is not the point of this post. Rather it is the news in this morning’s New York Times that a Georgia gun rights group (self described as “Georgia’s no-compromise voice for gun owners”) is going to court to get the folks at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to allow folks to carry legally concealed weapons onto the premises. It seems that the Georgia state legislature had recently lifted some restrictions on the right to carry concealed weapons in public transportation facilities, and armed (pardon the unintended pun) with that and the Heller decision the gun rights folks have asserted their claim. The airport manager’s response was a no-brainer, noting that the airport’s policies are subject to federal law which maintains legal restrictions (like those given a thumbs up by Scalia in the Heller decision).

One wonders, however, about folks like those pursuing that lawsuit. Is it that they just don’t get it — or is this another (albeit distorted) example of the “audacity of hope…”?

July 2nd, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments