Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

So, 30, eh? I do not approve, not least because I'm officially dead per Brian Kinney's rules of the world - then again, by that measure so's he and I'd imagine that I would have been out of his good-books for a while over a variety of other stuff anyway!

Apparently I'm embracing this frail dotage I now find myself in, as I'm currently sitting here listening to the "Angel : The Series" soundtrack on repeat and whilst my birthday falls on a Friday this year, my plans for later on seem to mostly include reading Buffy fanfic (distressingly enough, sappy Buffy/Willow seems to be the order of the day - oh, and if anyone happens to know of decent fic repositories including said pairing, links make an awesome birthday present...!), Glee fanfic (...) and possibly some Doctor Who/Firefly crossover fics (finally, stories I don't feel I have to apologise over for reading!), watching some Buffy and listening to the Rolling Stones.

Yup, I seem to be reacting to the fact of my new decrepitude by hiding the hell away in as many fandoms as humanly possible, which given that once upon a time I would have been expected to react to a day like this with a veritable avalanche of partying is probably more than a little sad.

As for my 20s... yeah, there was definitely plenty of good stuff which I wouldn't trade for anything, but overall I have to come to the conclusion that they were rather a festering pile of shite on the whole, so I suppose... alright, I'm not gonna all but beg fate to slap me about by saying that my 30s can only be an improvement, but shall just quietly cross my fingers on that front.

Anyway, regarding other stuff, the less said is probably best... what's that I hear you saying? Those sentiments cover the stuff I wrote before as well? Okay, you may have a point! My grandfather had the first of his cardiac procedures the other month, which led to improvements for a while, though they have apparently by-and-large reverted to where things were before by now, which is... not good. Nor is the fact that there are workmen in the upstairs bathroom and lounge on account of a pipe which burst earlier in the week, destroying the lounge ceiling beneath the bathroom, so there's a hell of a lot of banging going on and again, sadly not in the depraved & debauched birthday celebrations sense! And on that charming note, I shall flee!
  • Current Music
    "My Generation" - The Who

And once more without politics!

So, somewhere in the hecticness of the past few weeks, I seem to have ended up getting my hair cut back down to a vaguely normal length, which is... umm... different, though in a way which I think is generally good. No photos currently exist, and as it's presently rather un-coiffed I ain't taking one right now, plus, I figure it's a good idea to give people time to adjust to the concept before getting hit with visuals ;-) But seriously, it's odd - I don't think that I've had my hair properly short (well, not as in shaved, but smartish/professional short) for about three years now, and that was on account of my father's funeral and didn't stay that way. Mucho Chango (which kinda sounds like it should be an HP spell.)

Moving on to what may be more interesting (though possibly equally disturbing) matters, it came to my attention the other day that there is in fact a romantic get-away hotel in Brazil with a twist - Heart-shaped ceiling mirror: check. Curtains drawn against the bright day: check. Red mattress: check. All guests are dogs: check No, I don't mean that dog thing figuratively, the place is a canine short-stay motel. The world is a strange, strange place.

The world is also a slightly smaller, or at least more watery place than had previously been thought - Sandy Island in the South Pacific is... well, not so much sandy and for that matter, not so much an island as, umm, ocean. D'oh!

The world, in fact, is not the only interesting place - particularly at the moment. Are any of you lot also waiting on absolute tenterhooks for NASA to announce the "Earth-shaking", "one for the history-books" (that last quote is from the principal investigator for the mission) data they've got from the Mars Curiosity Rover. They're taking a few weeks (they think) to make absolutely certain that whatever they've found with the SAM instrument (which performs molecular/elementary analysis of samples) is not either contamination from when the instruments were on Earth or aren't actually whatever they think they are, and that's interesting in itself, as they're not usually anywhere near this secretive and don't tend to hold data of this type for as long as this to make absolutely certain. Anyone got any guesses what they've found? Personally, I think that there's a fair chance that, given the nature of the instrument and what it's designed to look for in particular, plus the way they're acting & talking about this, that it'll turn out to be findings indicating likely existence of life in the past. I don't know enough about the instrument or the science to take a guess at exactly what that could be (I'd guess at chemical residue which shows distinctly similar characteristics to what's left of ancient small-scale life on Earth.) On the other hand, it could always be this:

And on that lovely image, I shall scurry off again *waves*
  • Current Music
    "Life on Mars" - David Bowie

Per NBC:

Obama wins Ohio!

President Obama has been re-elected!!!

He ain't perfect, for sure, but compared to the alternative, thank God!

Edit 1: And per MSNBC projections, with Joe Biden continuing as President of the Senate, the Senate can be called for the Dems (though realistically, they'll get several more seats.) Unfortunately, the House looks to be staying fairly similar to its current state - Dems may eek out an increase in their numbers, but Republicans will retain clear, though not massive control. Given how cohesive they've been in passing extreme legislation and opposing Obama as a matter of 'principle' on a massive range of issues (cf. the debt-limit debacle, etc.), gridlock could well continue for the next two years. Then again, Democrats might start actually hitting them hard on it consistently in the media and try to peel off enough votes to make progress on important matters where Obama has already made some degree of concessions (which is pretty much all of the time anyway!)

Edit 2: Not entirely unsurprisingly, both the Romney Ohio campaign director and Karl Rove say that they're not conceding Ohio - wonder how long that'll last. Wonder who gets the fun task of getting Mitt to go out and give the speech.

Edit 3: Way to go Wisconsin for electing an LGBT Senator!
  • Current Music
    MSNBC election coverage
AK Obama

So, it's that time of the election-cycle again...

And yup, that means me dusting-off the ol' LJ even if I'm honestly not sure how many of you folks are still using our ancient blogging platform! Hope that regardless of where you all are, you're doing well and having a good time (and that a few of you are having a good time watching the election coverage!)

I haven't been following this election as closely as the previous couple for various reasons, but of course I can't help but keep an eye on it. As for predictions, hmm... my head says Obama wins 332-206 - namely, the president carries all the battleground states except North Carolina and wins the popular vote by 2% or so, even if my heart is holding out for 348-190 (Obama holds N. Carolina and Nebraska district 2).

I figure that the Dems pick up a net 2 seats in the Senate, leaving it 55-45 (with the two indies caucusing with the Dems) - specifically, I think the Dems pick up Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts & Nevada, whilst the Republicans pick up Nebraska & N. Dakota, though I'm holding out some hope for the Dems in N. Dakota. Everything else stays in the hands it's currently in.

As for the House, like I said, haven't been following the election closely enough to give solid predictions there, but I think the Dems are going to gain seats and run the Republicans close, but that the Republicans still hold a slimish majority. On the other hand, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if it ended up not too far from where it stands now.

Governors... God, I've no idea!

Anyway, anyone out there have any thoughts or any interesting experiences at the polls today (for you Yanks!)? I hear that it's a tad chaotic in some of the voting locations in battleground states, as well as various areas hit by Am-I-a-Hurricane?-Am-I-an-Extra-Tropical-Storm?-Am-I-Actually-a-Cunningly-Disguised-Gerbil? Sandy. Oh, on that front, I hope that all of you Americans are okay after that one - I would probably have posted checking in on you, actually, despite the whole not being around like ever, but some pretty difficult (though certainly not in same league as life-threatening storms!) stuff was happening on my end at the same time and I never got around to posting - sorry!


Edit 1: BTW, to my fellow amateur (and at least in my case, decidedly amateurish!) psych folks (and for that matter, the couple of professionals on the flist), am I alone in thinking that Romney... umm... well, would score pretty highly on Hare's Psychopathy-Checklist (Revised)? A few months back I tried running him through it from what public info I could find, along with observations, and thought that he came out in the mid-to-high 20s, but with a definite possibility that he'd make it above 30 (which is usually the cut-off for a straight-up diagnosis of psychopathy, though the UK actually tends to use 25, IIRC). Whether he's diagnosable or not and whatever the diagnosis would be in the event that he were, he's umm... fascinating from that perspective. Gotta admit that I'm kinda looking forward to his concession speech on those grounds, assuming of course that he gives one.

Edit 2: And with people Breaking their legs, being in labour and being briefly FRICKING DEAD!!! and insisting on voting, I'm guessing that turnout will be relatively hight (though possibly the aftermath of Sandy will drive it down somewhat.)

Edit 3: ALRIGHT! Senator-elect Warren is gonna be awesome, I suspect! Also, the candidates who made seriously messed-up statements on women's-rights matters seem to be losing their Senate races, which is good to see (as is being able to point out that Claire McCaskill, whilst I'm not overly fond of her, has 'shut down' Todd Akin...) Oh, and Obama seems to just about be performing above what is required to win Florida according to bellwether counties - if he does so, even if Romney wins every other remaining battleground state, Obama wins, if I'm doing my maths right!

Edit 4: And with Minnesota being called for Obama, if he also wins Ohio (which he currently is), Romney can only get a 269-269 tie by winning all the remaining battleground states, and if Obama wins Florida he wins the election. Again, assuming I'm doing the maths correctly.

Edit 5: Okay, the maths is now getting very clear; with Iowa going for the President, if he picks up one out of Florida, Ohio or Virginia, he wins.
  • Current Music
    MSNBC election coverage

Kay Dekker.

As many of you who, like myself, have been privileged (and oh, what a privilege!) enough to know Kay (mhw) are aware, we all became far the poorer a few days ago on account[NB/ I believe that stgpcm has, understandably, been getting a lot of calls/comments on this and is, equally understandably, a bit overloaded] of his death.

But it's not just us. It’s not just us or his family and other loved-ones (alright, I think that Kay truly loved a whole lot of people in a whole lot of ways, but I refer to those closest to him – and to those on my flist who fit this description you, especially, have my profound condolences) or all those thousands of people in, I suspect, hundreds of social-circles upon whose lives Kay left his glittering, magical, beautiful mark. It's the over seven billion-odd people whose lives he never got around to intersecting with, who'll never get the chance to know who he was.

The man was phenomenal, incredible – he seemed to have achieved more in his years on Earth than was conceivable in such a too-short period; there were myriad accomplishments, great and small, in a truly shocking range of areas, but I think that what transcends any and all of them was what he did with/for people.

The sheer volume of people who can look back with a sparkle in their eyes and think upon times when he cheered them up, gave them something new to think about or clarified something they were struggling with, when he helped them in one way or another is staggering – I know a lot of people who fit this bill but I also know that they don't make up even a hundredth of the total.

Still, despite this he had his limits and as such until a couple of days ago there were billions of people out there who had never shared some part of their lives with this wonderful person and who never knew it, but might one day have been fortunate enough to do so. And now they never will.

Even at this horrible time, we're the lucky ones. We were lucky enough to have had those times, even if they were fewer than we would have wished. We were blessed.

Goodbye, Kay. You will be missed.

- Greg & Heike
  • Current Mood
Oops - problem at 1 O'clock

Umm... UK folks, this is a *serious* problem, right?

Heya, folks! Long-time no-see, eh? This post is for UK folks (or for that matter other interested parties who fancy sticking their oar in - I can hardly complain what with my American Politics fixation now, can I?)

Okay, I will try to keep this brief, but I think that we have a really genuinely serious problem. I haven't been around much of the day, so am not sure if this is all over the news and if so, whether someone more knowledgeable than I may have pointed out that my fears/analysis are/is incorrect/incomplete (if anyone feels this to be the case, please let me know, as I'd really like to be wrong about this one!)

Basically, as some of you are aware, as part of the pact forming the new Conservative/Lib-Dem government they propose to shortly bring up (and presumably back with the whips) legislation to change the percentage of MPs needed to win a no-confidence vote in the Government (ie. a vote which if it is called and goes against the Government, leads to the dissolution of the house, fall of the Government and a new election being called.) Previously this has had a 50% threshold. The new legislation would increase this to 55%.

As I see it, there are the following issues:
  • It would mean that 54% of MPs, currently representing around 2/3rds of the UK public would be unable win a no-confidence vote! This is bad enough in terms of representative democracy front, but on the principles front surely this impressively manages to be both opposite in spirit of the PR reforms the Lib Dems want and yet the opposite of Tory reservations against PR on the 'stops people bringing down an unpopular government.' front.
  • Even worse than that, it leads to the potential for situations where, were the Lib Dems to exit the coalition then the Government would be unable to win votes as they would have less than the necessary 50% of MPs, the other parties would be unable to win the no-confidence vote which would normally result from a Government which was frequently/persistently unable to meaningfully pass legislation as they'd have less than the necessary 55% of MPs for this.
  • For that matter given that there's also legislation in the agreement for fixed-term parliaments, then the Government in the situation described previously wouldn't even be able to call a new election to try and remedy the crisis described above by booting it back to the voters.
The only way out of this that I see is potentially having MPs of the governing party joining the no-confidence vote in whatever numbers would be necessary to get above 55%. However, in many circumstances (one example being if the party wasn't doing too well in polling which indicated that they would be likely to lose seats if a new election were called) this is likely to be opposed by the Government and its whips, especially as there'd be a temptation to try and blame the other parties for 'paralysing' the Government and trying to capitalise on that blame, thus only furthering the paralysis.

Ummm... yeah, I could go on (and on and on and on) on just this issue alone as there are other really troubling scenarios which could play out in future parliaments depending on their make-up, and it really worries me, but I figure I should open up the floor to discussion (as I said, hopefully of the "calm down, Greg - this wouldn't play the ways you're describing because of X, Y and Z fronts!) I may post later on my thoughts in general (ha ha) on the election, but at the moment, this issue is kinda dominating for me.

Edit : Links are here (full text of pact, relevant section about 1/3rd of the way down under "6. Political Reform") and here (BBC condensed bullet-pointed version, about 1/4 of the way down under "Political Reform")
  • Current Music
    "Anarchy in the UK" - The Sex Pistols


So, I've been out in Central London for a while now and have to say that whilst I'm ecstatic about #44, whilst I'm pretty happy with what currently looks like 57 (in practice) Dems in the Senate with outside possibilities for more, whilst I'm glad about the pretty decent numbers from the House, not to mention various other results, I shan't be posting the "Mission Accomplished" banner on this post, as I have to say that I feel worse now than when I headed out of the house.

Why? Well, I'm sure that you've guessed a big part of it. Proposition 8 in California looks set to pass. Yeah, there are still lots of votes to count, but it'd be very unusual at this point if enough broke our way to defeat it. This thing is frankly an abomination. folk has made some very good points regarding this, which I entirely agree with. Still, from what I'm told, this thing has set a new and ugly precedent; a group has had its rights first recognized and then taken away by a majority vote. And not just that, but it has been done primarily by voters swayed by a downright vicious campaign steered by a religious group (the LDS using the Catholic Church as a front, by my understanding.) Seriously, folks, I know that we're all reveling in other results, but there are a lot of people hurting in CA right now and this execrable measure can not go unchallenged. I've seen discussion already on how that might be done, but I'm too tired (not to mention tipsy) to seriously look over it at the moment. Definitely something I'd urge us all to have a think about.

However, sadly, there's more. An incomplete list would include the following: Arizona and Florida have both also passed gay marriage bans, Arkansas has banned gay adoption, that crazy McCarthyite Michelle Bachmann has been re-elected, Alaska looks like it may send a convicted felon back to the Senate and the list goes on. Oh, and there's also still one hell of a lot of work to do to sort out the immense mess Bush and others have made, not to mention that turnout was actually pretty low, which may be partially down to another problem, namely the bloody voting machines.

I guess what I'm saying is that I really wish that tonight had gone just a little better and that as great as what has been done is and how much respect I have for all of you who have done it, there's still a fair bit of work to do. But not today.
  • Current Music
    "Blowin' in the Wind" - Bob Dylan
AK Obama


Crying now!

Good morning President-Elect Obama

Edit 1: Florida goes for Obama per MSNBC. Landslide/Mandate looking entirely possible both in Presidential & Congressional terms.

Edit 2: Still really rather worried about the civil rights propositions - come on, America, don't put a black lining on a very silver cloud. Also, MSNBC just said that Kenya has declared a national holiday tomorrow :)
  • Current Music
    "Celebrate" - Kool & The Gang
PacMan election

"Free at last; free at last"

Thank you, Americans! Truly, thank you! Screw it, I was going to wait until we get likely get new results on the hours but MSNBC has Obama at 200 Electoral Votes, CNN has him at 199, etc. There are 73 votes between CA, OR & WA on the West coast that are going to go to Obama, as well as a few others that are pretty certain unless the pre-election polling was all truly insanely off by tremendous margins - McCain can't win. I'll confirm this when new data comes in, but if I were in charge, I think I'd be calling it.

Something I whipped up earlier, hoping for the best. I know, I know, the "mission" isn't even nearly accomplished yet – it's only just started in many ways. However, I guess I'm saying what Churchill said (far better); "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." And that's something to celebrate, IMO.

Thank you, guys! Now, let's see if there's a mandate.

Edit 1: Iowa goes blue for 207EVs per MSNBC.
Edit 2: MSNBC is saying that the South Dakota abortion ban has been defeated. Edit 4 As has Colorado. For that matter Michigan has approved medical marijuana and Massachusetts decriminalized the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, per NBC.
Edit 3: With Jim Himes defeating Christopher Shays, there are no Republican Representatives in New England.

  • Current Music
    "Celebration" - Kool and the Gang