The YDD Annex

Because One Blog Is Never Enough

Monday, September 26, 2005

Back To The YDD

The YDD Annex is closed for now. Please visit the main Yellow Doggerel Democrat site for further posts. I will leave the Hurricane Rita posts up here rather than moving them to the main YDD site, but I will close comments on them to reduce comment spam. I hope to see y'all on the main site!

"Gee, but it's great to be back home..." (Simon and Garfunkel)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Blog maintenance etc.

The Yellow Doggerel Democrat site is almost ready to go again. I have never been one to release something until I had tested it at least a bit... "thoroughly" is usually out of the question in the real world, because of pressure from people who never tapped code in their lives, but I have the luxury on my own site of taking my time. Tomorrow (at least) I'll still be posting here. If I'm satisfied with the result, specifically, with the stability of my host's changes, I'll move back in. It's a bit like returning home after a hurricane evacuation: you may want to push on the beams a bit to make sure it doesn't topple over easily.

Today we entertained three "evacuees": Catherine and her cats Lotus and Mitchell. The power (and hence the air conditioning) was out at their house until late afternoon, and it was an unseasonably hot day... 98°F was the prediction. We all had a delightful visit. Stella cooked up some curried rice and vegetables with medallions of Quorn veggie roast; it was well beyond delicious. Lotus and Mitchell were very polite guests, though Mitchell, always a skittish kit, attempted an escape over the permanent shower curtain to... well, you'll have to ask him where he thought he was going; we stopped him before he landed in the tub. Many of you have seen pictures of Lotus; she is as affectionate and playful as she is beautiful. I entertained at the piano... once I got the piano set up and all the plugs in the right place again. That sucker is heavy: I don't know if it actually weighs more than the harpsichord, but the harpsichord is mostly air, and the digital piano... you get the idea.

One wishes there were more time for such visits; it's a shame it takes a hurricane to get us all together.

Bloglines On Possible FEC Blog Regulations

You knew I had to post something political sooner or later... in this case, political but not partisan. Well, not too partisan...

Mark Fletcher, founder etc. etc. of Bloglines, the aggregator service I occasionally use, just testified before the Committee on House Administration about the FEC's review of whether or under what circumstances blogs should fall under campaign finance regulation. What he says is short and sensible; here's an excerpt:

We urge Congress and the FEC to ensure that the Internet, particularly blog activity, remains free from campaign finance regulation. While regulation of campaign financing plays an important role in maintaining public confidence in our political system, we believe the significant public policy interests in encouraging the Internet as a forum for free or low-cost speech and open information exchange should stand paramount.

Linking to campaign websites, quoting from or republishing campaign materials and even providing a link for donations to a candidate, if done without compensation, should not result in a blog being deemed to have made a contribution to a campaign or trigger reporting requirements.

Blogs permit the expression of and access to a diversity of political opinions and other information on a scale never before seen. This speech must remain free and not be discouraged by burdensome regulation. As such, it should be explicit that the activities of bloggers are covered by the press exemption of Sections 100.73 and 100.132.

Just so. My feelings about campaign finance regulations have always been mixed, in part because it is clear that the party of wealth will never allow a legal distinction between spending and speech. Of course the purported equivalency (most conservatives reference Buckley v. Valeo) is absurd; speech is speech and spending is spending. But as long as the alleged equivalency is made, there will be attempts to abuse the regulations to favor one party and suppress another. Guess which is which.

Democrats got pretty good at using the blogosphere in 2004 to connect the rank and file to candidates' campaigns, in some cases with substantial direct participation in campaigns (e.g., Kos) and in some cases just links to campaign and party sites (e.g., the YDD). Republicans have a lot more money, but were not in my opinion as sophisticated in their use of the right blogosphere... a well-oiled message machine, but not so much an effective campaign tool... as the Democratic Party and its candidates were in using the center-left blogosphere.

The Dems' success in fundraising etc. via the blogosphere provides an irresistible temptation to executive branch Republicans to squelch speech on blogs to shut down the Dems' source of funds by claiming a violation of campaign finance laws. Ultimately, though, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and the First Amendment is part of the Constitution. Suppressing Democratic speech about fundraising is unconstitutional.

The campaign finance laws contain a journalist exception. I've often said that bloggers by and large are not journalists, but for purposes of campaign finance law, the distinction is without a difference. Bloggers intend to convey information and opinion to the public. They must be allowed to do so unfettered by restrictions intended to cover baldfaced monetary influence of campaigns by interest groups. Any regulation of such is an infringment of free speech. Period.

And now we return to my regularly scheduled Rita recovery...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Qualm After The Storm

I'm having just a bit of survivor's guilt; many, many other people were and are affected far more dramatically than we are. On the other hand, I haven't called about my late parents' mobile home near Lake Livingston, TX yet...

Nothing of ours was damaged in the storm, and it's a good thing: I am fatigued beyond belief. Most of it is stress, and the rest is moving stuff, packing stuff, securing stuff, deciding what is essential and what is not, etc., then reversing the process with whatever is left after the storm... which in this case is everything.

But this was nowhere nearly as bad as any one storm Bryan experienced in recent years. And my heart goes out to the people in Lake Charles, LA and Beaumont, TX; they're the ones who got pounded.

I'll continue to post at the YDD Annex for a few days. My web host has the complete, current YDD site up now, but I can't access FTP or even receive email. They will be history the next time I have to renew; unfortunately, I just paid for a whole year last month.
Thanks for all your kind words as Rita approached; you really helped us both.

Checking In

So far, so good. Stella, Tabitha, Samantha and I are safe. Wind and rain were less than anticipated. Heaven help the people in places more directly in the path of Rita; we were mostly spared. We're staying put in Stella's apartment; there may yet be rain bands and possibly significant flooding. I'll check in again when possible.

Aside to andante: it's kitchen blogging, not bathroom blogging. :) My ancient laptop will not fit in the bathroom, and the kitchen has both a power outlet and a phone jack.

Later, folks...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Shutting down

I've stowed my own computer, and am about to do the same with Stella's. I hope the bathroom closet stays dry... the computers are on a high shelf. We're almost ready for this thing, if anyone can ever be said to be ready for a storm like this. Anyway, this is mostly to say that I'll soon be limited to what I can do with my laptop.

An aside: the YDD site is completely defunct at the moment. Don't even bother visiting. And for a while, you can't even send me email. I plan to fire up the laptop when there's power and a phone connection; you can leave messages on this thread if you like.

Thanks for all the kind words and offers of assistance. We appreciate that.

After All, It IS Friday

At least someone is taking it all calmly...

Signing off for tonight at least

I need to shut down my main computer so I can take it to Stella's early tomorrow morning. This is my last post for tonight, and possibly for a while. I wish I had Bryan's level of experience with preparing for a hurricane, but I wouldn't like the process of acquiring that experience that he has gone through!

It's showtime...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Right Turn

The 4pm CT forecast is up, and this old liberal is uncharacteristically glad to see anything make a right turn. Of course it's all tentative, and even if the new forecast is correct, we'll still get hurricane force winds. But we can handle 90-100mph, and so can our apartments.

As always, if it works out that way, our fortune is still someone else's misfortune, and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who gets the brunt of this storm. I just hope it stops shifting to the right before it reaches a point which would affect New Orleans.

Household Triage

Consider all of your household possessions. Which ones could you bear never to see again? That is what I'm going through at the moment. Multiply that by the hundreds of thousands (a million?) Houston and coastal residents already evacuated, and a comparable number of those of us who are staying... it's a staggering amount of stuff to be decided upon. In my instance, I'm moving my essentials to Stella's place. I don't know if my criteria are interesting, but here they are, more or less:

* If it's huge but valuable, protect it and leave it. Both harpsichords and the digital piano are in their cases, on their stands and away from windows. It's the best I can do. I used my oldest working computer (vintage 1992) as a weight to stabilize the piano stand.

* If it is personally valuable, easily portable and irreplaceable, take it. A few photos are in that category; most of them, though, I'm wrapping thoroughly and stashing in closets. Recent photos, of course, are backed up on CDs; I'm taking those. My late father's paintings of course go with me, however inconvenient they may be.

* Take the main computer, well-wrapped in plastic. Take every backup CD for the past year. Wrap but do not take monitors, printers, routers, keyboards, mice, etc. Take the DSL modem because it cannot be bought at most computer stores. Take the laptop because it is small. Unplug everything else.

* Take a few CDs, almost at random, to listen to during the storm. Over the years I've collected too many of them; there's no way to sort through them all without making agonizing decisions.

* Books are like CDs, though I will take a few quasi-rare items. But mostly I'll take what I plan to read, and hope for the best for the rest.

And now I must return to my household triage. With luck, I'll post a couple more self-obsessed posts today and maybe even tomorrow before I have to shut down.

YDD Site Is Screwed Up

The main YDD site is screwed up. My host apparently reloaded some earlier snapshot of the site, but their FTP is rejecting connections, so I can't fix it. Please stick with the YDD Annex until explicit further notice.

Update: my email through my host is not working either. Apologies.

Scary Stuff

Well, that's not an auspicious beginning. I tried to post this on the YDD; they seem to have already shut down the server that hosts my site. So I'm posting it here. Please forgive some of the disconnected references...

I admit it: I'm frightened, for all of us. As of 4 AM CT, Rita seems to be taking better aim at us, though there is still some uncertainty. I don't even know if that's good or bad, i.e., whether it's enough to place us on the "good" side of the storm... right now it looks like a direct hit. But when I read a headline like
Many evacuation routes turn into parking lots, I have to wonder if our decision to stay is any worse than a decision to try to evacuate would have been.

A few practical matters. I may switch to the YDD Annex (see link at top of column) sometime soon; please bookmark it now. My host is a local company, and I assume they will go down during the storm. I also assume our own power and/or telephone service will vanish at some point. I'm taking my laptop to Stella's in case I'm able to blog, but for the worst part of the storm, likely Friday into Saturday, we will probably sit it out in the windowless bathroom of her apartment... no blogging from there. At some point in the next few hours, I'll shut down my main computer and move it to what I hope is a more likely dry location, so this may be the last YDD post for a while.

My thanks to all of you loyal readers who have offered good wishes and assistance. If Stella and I, and of course Tabitha and Samantha, are still alive after the storm, I look forward to resuming posting and discussing life, the universe and everything. If not, so long, and thanks for all the fish. We intend to survive this. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Testing before the storm

This is just a test post to see if I can post here remotely while I'm not at home during Hurricane Rita. If this had been a real post, you would have been directed to call your local FEMA office...

(For some reason, posts are being shown in a crazy order, and with Pacific time zone. No time to fix it now. Scroll down if necessary.)