2010-04-16 – Reading

A History of the Polticization of Washington Think Tanks

Intresting to see this explination of the think tank ecosystem. I would of loved to have heard how much of the same stuff was happening to the more liberal leaning ones.

What People actually Pay in Income Tax vrs. Popular Perception

It’s hard to take the Tea Party Protesters seriously when they seem to live in an alternate reality.

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Getting the ical/ics feed from a King County Library

I’ve been working on being an event calendar curator ala Jon Udell’s system and was stuck getting a good calendar feed from the King Country Library System for my local Snoqualmie library. As in most projects, you start with some HTML page of calendar entries. In this case a search for Snoqualmie Library leads to this URL:

http://eventinfo.kcls.org/evanced/lib/eventcalendar.asp?ag=&et=&list&cn=0&private=0&ln=36

Which is missing the ICS feed. So the next step in the process is to try fusecal, which had done the trick many times before. However this time the page formatting was preventing fusecal from having useful event titles.

Today I came back and looked at the problem afresh. My first thought was that I could have something scrape the VCS links on the page and build a ical, but I really didn’t want to own any automation on my own servers (and I wasn’t ready yet to write a service on something like azure). So I poked into the link to the software maker of this calandar: Evanced. Fortunately there I discovered that some ical feature had been added to an eventsxml.asp. Putting that on the KCLS url I got:

http://eventinfo.kcls.org/evanced/lib/eventsxml.asp

Yay, I can see one event in XML. This is progress. Some sample code for client side rendering of eventsxml.asp gave me a couple parameters to try:

http://eventinfo.kcls.org/evanced/lib/eventsxml.asp?dm=xml&lib=all&alltime=1&nd=14

The next step was to filter to my specific library. Back on the HTML page there was one url parameter that seemed to be relevant; that ln=36. On the eventsxml.asp the same parameter doesn’t work, but lib=all was a tempting place to put my magic number “36:

http://eventinfo.kcls.org/evanced/lib/eventsxml.asp?dm=xml&lib=36&alltime=1&nd=14

Bingo! Now I’ve got a nice xml feed for local library. However I need ics. and trying dm=ics didn’t work. Remember back to the feature list calling it ical, I tried

http://eventinfo.kcls.org/evanced/lib/eventsxml.asp?dm=ical&lib=36&alltime=1&nd=60

Which along with the North Bend, Carnation, Fall City and Duvall is now in my delicious events curator list for Snoqualmie valley.

2009-02-08 – Economic Tidbits

  • Apparently Republican Economic Theory has returned to the Treasury View which is summed up as “Government spending crowds out private spending or investment, and thus has no net impact.” which is sorta weird since it’s a return to the macro-economic theory of the 1920/30s.
  • We dodged a bullet called Bush’s Social Security Privatization which had an implicit assumption that 1) the market only goes up on a 10 year basis and 2) you can trust the risk evaluations of securities. Both of which has been proven false in this current crises.
  • The recent crises is destroying the illusion of increasing wealth/lifestyle afforded by credit. This leaves the stagnation of medium incomes, which demonstrates that trickle-down theory is BS.

Random Links for 2008/01/22

  • Lilly’s Big Day
    I’m left speechless that the republican version of being business friendly is to attempt to uphold a technicality that destroys such a common sense law (capped at $300,000 btw).
  • A Stimulus For Today And Tomorrow, And That’s OK

    the Director of the CBO estimated the multipliers for both "purchases of goods and services by the federal government" and transfers to states for infrastructure spending at 1-2.5, for transfers to persons at 0.8-2.2, and for "temporary, well-targeted tax cuts" at 0.5-1.7.

  • Principles of the American Cargo Cult
    A set of underlying popular media assumptions.
  • Life at Wall Mart
    A wired chief gets a different view of Wall Mart employment. I’d have to say that I think he focuses exclusively on the positive in the assumption you’ve read the negative in a different book.
  • On the Slate Political Gabfest this week, they did a good job explaining the disincentives for republicans to work or vote for any stimulus. However after years of ignoring fiscal responsibility, it’s bizarre to malicious to swing so hard the other way on a stimulus bill in the midst of such a problematic economy. Even worse is to again show that they only have one “solution” to any situation.
  • Airlines Defining Anyone Disruptive as Terrorists
    This was 100% predictable.

Turnabout?

Regarding the message “There’s probably no God".” on 800 London Buses (in response to a religious one telling people to look up a biblical verse telling them they are going to hell), there was a woman tourist from LA is quoted: “I think it’s dreadful,”  … ”Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t like it in my face.”

I really enjoy the irony, and the bonus irony that the “probably” was added to meet advertising guidelines.

Snoqualmie I-90 Exit

One of the not so good things about living out in Snoqualmie Ridge is that we share an exit with the north end of 18, a bypass around Seattle and frequent location for traffic backed up onto the highway, which has actually led to a number of accidents and I believe a few deaths. The government has done a lot of work on the exit, making everything two lanes, having left versus right turn lanes, etc. However the problem of all the traffic heading south on 18 from Eastbound I90 remained and cutting over at the last minute could get you some nasty honking and a ticket. Until a couple days ago that is. Thanks to some quick work, the right lane of the highway is exit only with the next lane an optional exit directly into the left turn lane.

NIST on Electronic Voting

The NIST has released a draft white paper on electronic voting machines. Washington Post summarizes:

Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country “cannot be made secure,” according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

NIST says in its report that the lack of a paper trail for each vote “is one of the main reasons behind continued questions about voting system security and diminished public confidence in elections.” The report repeats the contention of the computer security community that “a single programmer could ‘rig’ a major election.”

Fears about rigging have animated critics for years, but there has been no conclusive evidence that such fraud has occurred. Electronic voting systems have had technical problems — including unpredictable screen freezes — leaving voters wondering whether their ballots were properly recorded.

Computer scientists and others have said that the security of electronic voting systems cannot be guaranteed and that election officials should adopt systems that produce a paper record of each vote in case of a recount. The NIST report embraces that critique, introducing the concept of “software independence” in voting systems.

NIST says that voting systems should not rely on a machine’s software to provide a record of the votes cast. Some electronic voting system manufacturers have introduced models that include printers to produce a separate record of each vote — and that can be verified by a voter before leaving the machine — but such paper trails have had their own problems.