Category Archives: Politics

Snow Emergency Soliloquy

Saint Paul declared a Snow Emergency last night. I had to do some driving yesterday and I know how bad it was, so the snow emergency was a good thing.

For those of you out in the suburbs, I’ll explain that Saint Paul keeps snow emergencies simple so that anyone can handle them. The night of the snow emergency you move your car off of any street with a Night Plow sign. Between 6:am and 8:am you get up and move your car back to the Night Plow streets (which have already been cleared) so that the plows can finish their work. All done in less than 24 hours.

This morning my wife got up early and moved the cars, took my son to school, did some shopping, and came home to find that a Chrysler Steroid Le Behemoth had been left in front of our house. We have a double lot, but the plows had to skip our entire section of street because of this thing. That means that we had a big pile of plowed snow where we usually park, where neighbors usually park, where the folks who go to the church at the corner on Sunday usually park, etc.

Continue reading Snow Emergency Soliloquy

Tech Rating Politicians

Let’s face it, the elected offices in the US government are filled with mostly technologically illiterate people. That means that those who are representing us on important issues like net neutrality, spam laws, video game restrictions, patent laws, and other technical issues are, in many cases, the least qualified people to do so. A couple of recent examples:

Jon Stewart, fast becoming America’s most trusted new source, examines the controversy around video game violence. How is an expert in ‘pong’ qualified to make decisions about games like Worlds of Warcraft or Counter-Strike. It’s like a bicycle repairman from the 1800s commenting on hybrid cars.

Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) finds himself forced to explain the internet. “It’s not a truck. It’s a series of tubes.” Thankfully, we’re all clear on that fact.

And so, seeing that the problem is out of hand, and that the American voter has little or no means to quickly assess a candidates level of technical knowledge, I propose a standardized rating system (clever acronym TBD). If we could pick a standard way of rating someone’s technical capabilities, we would all be able to make more informed choices.

Now, there are several requirements here:

1. It must be a normalized number (1-10 or such).

2. It must be objective.

3. It must be repeatable (i.e. same score, different scorers).

I think we could come up with a simple formula that would do the trick based on time spent computing per 24 hrs, average complexity of tasks undertaken, and perhaps a little weight based on usual operating system.