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March 16th, 2004 - Phil's Rambling Rants

March 16th, 2004

March 16th, 2004
03:39 pm

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Book Review: This Rough Magic
Today's occasional book review is This Rough Magic, by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer.
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Overall, it was well enough written to keep me turning pages, and (with the one exception I noted) faithful enough to the first one to maintain the excitement. But the world was already built, and the new things we discover are much less of a feast for the sense of wonder than Shadow of the Lion was. And the plot fell victim to a lot of the "well, the good guys have to win" predictability that is found in all but the best fantasy novels exhibit. To be fair, its worst failing is probably just not being up to the expectation set by Shadow, which I tought was outstanding. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed it and I'd call it a good book. It just wasn't a great one. I give it an 8 out of 10.

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04:40 pm

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Voting equipment
I voted this morning. I was surprised to find that my rural Vermilion Country precinct had been upgraded to (I assume) state of the art mark-sense ballots.

A very straightforward, easy-to-vote paper ballot, the only drawback being that it's the fill-in-the-oval sort, and the ovals are excessively large, requiring more scribbling than they should. (Much easiler to tell what you're voting for than the Vote-o-Matic machines that I've used in every election I've ever voted in before.) Then, when you're done, you slide the ballot sheet into the slot on the big shiny box, which slurps it up. I trust that if I had double-marked any of the races, it would in fact have spit it back out at me as it was advertised to do. It gave me a little bit of local pride that we have updated equipment, when my mom the election judge told me that Champaign County's still using the tired old Vote-O-Matics.

I chatted with the election judges about voting machines a bit. I told them that I program computers for a living, and I know how easy it would be for a touch screen terminal to claim to be recording your vote one way and really going the other way. And without a real paper ballot that can be counted if there's a question, there's no way to tell and nothing you can do about it anyway if the touch screen is rigged. The judges' reaction, as I read it, was a little "Wow, I never thought of that" light bulb. Maybe I gave a few people a clue today.

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08:10 pm

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Sigh.
It had to happen sometime. I've put my first ding on my new car. Considering that I've had it since June '02 and I've put over 50K miles on it, not doing too badly. But still annoying, because it was 100% boneheadedness on my part.

So, Phil, what did you do to your car?Collapse )

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