Scott Bradford: Off on a Tangent

Welcome to Off on a Tangent, the online repository where I share my creative endeavors with the world. Inside you will find fiction, news, commentary, poetry, music, and more that I have produced over the years and am still producing today. I am always open to feedback, so please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Robort Novak: How a Tumor Is Changing My Life

September 6th, 2008

I’m no particular fan of conservative columnist Robert Novak, nor am I a fan of liberal Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), but both have found themselves in dire medical straits with recent diagnoses of serious brain tumors. I wish both of them the absolute best, and my prayers go out to them.

Novak, who announced his retirement from being a full-time columnist shortly after his diagnosis, returns with an interesting piece in today’s Washington Post about his condition and what has happened since things started going downhill for him in July. You may remember that shortly before his diagnosis people were condemning Novak as a criminal who had hit a pedestrian in downtown Washington with his Corvette (which he was known to drive a bit too fast) and tried to drive away without stopping. It turns out that Novak really didn’t see the man he hit, and was likely disoriented due to a tumor he didn’t even know he had until days later.

Most touchingly, Novak—who is ideologically unfriendly toward Sen. Kennedy, and vice-versa—has found support from the Kennedy family, including the Senator. It is nice to see a couple of opinionated folks on opposite sides of the political fence put their differences aside and be human toward one another; something that happens fairly often, but rarely gets attention.

Republican Party Officially Nominates McCain

September 4th, 2008

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been formally nominated by the Republican Party as their Presidential candidate to stand in the November general election against Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). McCain has been the presumptive nominee since securing a majority of pledged party convention delegates in March, but the delegates to the Republican National Convention have now made McCain’s nomination official.

Sen. McCain is joined on the Republican ticket by Vice Presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), who McCain announced as his running mate last Friday.

Palin is only the second woman on a major-party national ticket, following Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. If McCain is elected, Palin would become the first female Vice President (and, in the event of McCain’s death, resignation, or removal from office, would become the first female President).

Thoughts on Gov. Palin

September 3rd, 2008

My good friend Wes left a comment on my entry reporting Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) selection to be Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) Vice Presidential running mate in which he asked:

“What is your opinion on Sen.John McCain’s pick of Gov. Sarah Palin for his running mate? I know this may be a loaded question, lol.”

It is a loaded question. Palin is certainly an intriguing and interesting choice. She has a pretty impressive (though short) resumé—in many respects, more so than Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) similarly short resumé. This is not a dig at Obama…as a 1st-term Senator he is really the ‘low man on the totem pole’ and doesn’t get to sponsor the big-name bills and such. That’s just because the Senate is based, mostly, on seniority, while executive positions (like the mayoral and gubernatorial roles Palin has played) get much more attention and can pad a political resumé much quicker.

Both Palin and Obama have been criticized (sometimes, humorously, by the other’s campaign organization) for their lack of experience or ill-preparedness for the office of President, but I really see ‘experience’ as a non-issue. Leadership is largely an innate quality—you either have it or you don’t—and an ‘inexperienced’ politician can easily surround themselves with ‘experienced’ aides and advisers and make good executive decisions just as well as an ‘experienced’ politician can. I’m much more concerned with basic qualities of leadership and, more importantly, policy (which will be the primary basis of my endorsements, which are coming later this month). Read the rest of this entry »

Google Launches ‘Chrome’ Web Browser

September 2nd, 2008

Google, the omnipresent search firm that has managed to stretch the Internet in ways previously unimaginable, has just launched their own open-source web browser: Google Chrome. Chrome builds upon technologies developed by other open source projects, like the Apple-led WebKit effort (which is used as the core renderer) and other technologies that originated at Mozilla and elsewhere, but also brings several innovative features of its own. Because Chrome is open source (BSD License), its most innovative features and technologies can be used by other browsers like Firefox, Safari, and even proprietary browsers like Internet Explorer and Opera.

Chrome uses the same rendering engine as Apple’s Safari browser, so it is no surprise that most web sites—including this one—seem to work just fine. In fact, I’ve already added Chrome to my list of supported browsers (although there are sure to be minor incompatibilities; let me know if you find any).

The beta that Google released today is available only for Microsoft Windows operating systems, however Google promises Mac and Linux versions (though they provided no schedule for their release). If you are a Windows user and are dissatisfied with your browser universe, Chrome might be worth a look. All-in-all, the technological ‘under the hood’ innovations we see here are likely a harbinger of things to come in the web browser universe—and it never hurts to have some competing open source products, since Chrome, WebKit, and Firefox can all ’steal’ from one another and move the entire Internet forward (except for the poor souls still using Internet Explorer).

Cat in a Plaid Igloo

August 31st, 2008

Melissa bought Mei Mei some funky little plaid cloth igloo thing, since, you know, we spoil the cat. Luckily, unlike some of our other efforts to spoil her, she loved this one. Before Melissa even got all the way into the apartment with it, the cat was trying to get into it. In the week-or-so since we got it, the cat has been sleeping in it nearly every afternoon. I guess we (well, Melissa) did good.

The only problem is that now we’ve got another piece of cat junk sitting around. Oh well.

Nagin Orders Evacuation of New Orleans

August 30th, 2008

Mayor Ray Nagin (D-New Orleans) is indirectly responsible for over 1,000 deaths.

In 2005, as the category-5 Hurricane Katrina approached his city—much of which was located on land below sea level—he failed to order a mandatory evacuation until less than 18 hours before the hurricane made landfall. He failed to mobilize established evacuation plans, failed to provide buses and other governmental means to evacuate those who couldn’t leave on their own, and ordered those who had stayed behind to gather at a ’shelter of last resort’ in the Louisiana Superdome without having provided sufficient food, water, and sanitation for the people who came. In the aftermath, his government went missing in action, leaving the entire relief effort to state and federal authorities that were designed to operate at the behest of the local government, not in its absence.

And, incredibly, the people of New Orleans re-elected him in 2006. Personally, I’d have preferred to charge him with a thousand counts of involuntary manslaughter and dereliction of duty.

Thankfully though, it looks like Nagin might have learned his costly lesson. As Hurricane Gustav bears down on the New Orleans area, potentially destined to repeat Katrina’s 2005 devestation, Nagin has ordered an evacuation of his city more than 36 hours before the expected landfall. Obviously, I hope that New Orleans doesn’t get slammed again after they’ve spent three years rebuilding, but at least if the city gets hit anybody who dies will have died because they chose not to leave, not because their city government failed them.

McCain Selects Sarah Palin for VP

August 29th, 2008

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, announced today that he has selected Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) as his Vice Presidential running mate.

This selection lays the groundwork for an historic election. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), the Democratic Presidential nominee who is mixed African- and European-American, would be the first non-white President. Gov. Palin would be the first female Vice President and is only the second female VP nominee by a major party (following Rep. Geraldine Ferraro [D-NY 9th] in 1984) .

Palin, a gun-owning, ‘hockey-mom’ mother of five (including one newborn with Down syndrome and an oldest son being deployed to Iraq in the United States Army), is known as a reformer who rose to the office of Governor in Alaska following a series of political scandals in that state. She quickly ‘cleaned house’ and initiated a series of major political and ethical reforms. Palin has maintained consistently high approval ratings in Alaska, and is considered a social conservative (more in-line with the Republican base than McCain, who is considered a moderate).

Democratic Party Officially Nominates Obama

August 27th, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has been formally nominated by the Democratic Party as their Presidential candidate to stand in the November general election against presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Obama has been the presumptive Democratic nominee since securing a majority of party delegates on June 3, but Democratic National Convention delegates have now made his nomination official.

Sen. Obama is joined on the Democratic ticket by Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who Obama announced as his VP pick on Saturday.

Obama, who is mixed African- and European-American, is the first biracial major-party Presidential nominee. If-elected, Sen. Obama would be the first non-white President.

Light Posting This Week

August 26th, 2008

Hey, just wanted to drop a quick post letting you all know that posting will be light this week. I’ve done a pretty good job since April (and the Website 20 launch) of posting at least five entries per week, which was my goal, but it’s probably just not going to happen this week. I’m planning to resume normal posting next week.

First, I’m in the midst of training for a new position at work, so for the next few days I don’t have much flexibility with my hours during the day.

Second, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, but there has been an unexpected death locally in my extended family. That has had me (and will continue to have me) tied-up whenever I’m not at work.

If you are desperate for something to read in the mean time, check out some of the sites I enjoy on the links page.

They’re Paying Attention Now

August 24th, 2008

Always-interesting Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal about the current state of the Presidential race and why it’s suddenly starting to look like a close contest between Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) when—earlier—it had looked like an Obama-blowout was in the making.

Noonan’s central thesis is that people are just now starting to look at the race, and so things are just beginning to settle enough that the polling reflects (to a point) how people will actually be voting in November. The ‘paying attention’ aspect of Presidential races seems to get short shrift by the media, but what happens before the moment people start paying attention is essentially inconsequential. Even what’s happening now, though more relevant to November’s outcome than what has happened previous, isn’t that important—most people decide who they will vote for in the final month before the election.

The current state of the election could not have been predicted last fall—a mere nine months ago. While the Democratic campaign had already settled into an Obama vs. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) race, it could easily have gone either way. The changes on the Republican side were more drastic, with the race appearing at the time to be between Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), Mayor Rudy Guiliani (R-New York City), and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR). McCain, now the presumptive nominee, was being written off by the pundits as an also-ran with no chance of winning. Read the rest of this entry »

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