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DaveNet: A system unravels?

As I call it quits after a fantastic day filled with lots of lessons and questions and a sense that maybe US politics are starting to get out of the doldrums they've always been in, in my experience, I leave you with a survey that asks a philosophical question. Before you answer the question, remember what Jerry says. "I know the rent is in arrears, the dog has not been fed in years, it's even worse than it appears." Now answer the question.

This afternoon I ran into a friend who's one of the people Al Gore visits when he comes to Silicon Valley. Of course we talked about the situation in Florida. My friend said he was upset with the way the candidates were dealing with it. I was surprised. I imagined that partisanship would rule. This person has raised a lot of money for the Gore campaign. I imagine Gore would return his phone call. I said I was hopeful our country would emerge stronger for this experience. My friend wasn't so sure. I'm going to make a phone call right now to tell him why he has to just look inside himself to see why I'm right.

What a year it's been. The dot-com collapse. Napster. A Subway Series. And now the US political system is shaken to the core. Murphy and Y2K, all the way. Do we have a philosophy?

The Tampa Tribune has a county-by-county table of Florida recount data. "With votes in 65 of 67 counties recounted, the tally collected by The Associated Press shows Republican George W. Bush leading Democrat Al Gore by 225 votes."

CNN: "However, the Associated Press, which has stationed reporters in every Florida county, put Bush's advantage over Gore at only 362 votes, a number drawn from results in 64 counties."

Jimmy Carter: "The American people should be patient."

Here comes an opinion. The time to be partisan is past. If the recount says Gore won, he won. If the recount says Bush won, same deal. Elections always have flaws. Our first responsibility is to support the republic and the Constitution, but stay politically interested, informed and active. That would be a true revolution, and totally legal, and totally powerful. The system of powerlessness is the one worth unraveling.

The user interface issue is fine for computer scientists (such as myself) to debate and learn from. But there are probably thousands of flaws similar to the one in West Palm Beach. We'll wait a decade to get all the glitches out (we should do it). In the meantime, the call for a revote is ridiculous. If it were done in West Palm Beach, to be fair, the whole country would have to have a chance to change their vote. When will the demands stop? The time to be partisan is past.

More mail. Excellent stuff!

I just noticed that an old friend, Nat Goldhaber, is on the West Palm Beach ballot as the Natural Law Party vice-presidential candidate. What a trip.

Nelson Polsby: "A close election does not amount to a constitutional crisis. A constitutional crisis results when the Constitution provides no guidance about what to do next, and politicians and officials must fly blind. But the US Constitution is far from silent on how to proceed in the current situation."

Physics Today: Nations Argue over Climate Treaty.

News.Com: "Yahoo's president warned investors Thursday not to be fooled into thinking the Web was a passing fad just because so many companies had withered along with Net hysteria."

Washington Post: "George W. Bush's margin over Al Gore in make-or-break Florida dwindled to fewer than 1,000 votes Thursday in a continuing recount that held the presidential rivals and the nation in agonizing suspense."

Inside.Com: "It dawned on the television types that they had lost custody of the process and that what they thought would be a nice, tidy, made-for-TV movie had turned into a 12-hour math problem."

On NPR last night a commentator said that what was new in this year's election return experience is that there was actual news. Are professional news people prepared for this? There are lessons here for the tech press, whose appreciation and understanding of technology is just as weak as that of the political reporters. It's inescapable, technology is part of every story from now on. Do we question what the technologists tell us? It's time to stop believing everything everyone with a propeller on his hat says. In other words, Murphy is running everything now. Just because the computers didn't melt down on Jan 1, doesn't mean we're home-free. There's a technology angle to every story.

Regular Expressions: Specialty Scripting Languages.

Perl Monks: "So I'm in my webtech class and rather than listening to the lecture on XML I thought I'd write a Perl script to poll CNN and find out who was ahead and by how much."

Curmudgeon: "I don't think you can overturn an election because some people weren't as careful as they could have been. But it is frustrating, at least if you were for Gore. Like the ball going through Buckner's legs."

Joel Spolsky: "Is Bush going to actually be the next president because of a usability bug?"

Brad Pettit: "Sorry, but this 'Butterfly Ballot' causing so much consternation among Gore supporters in Palm Beach is nothing new; millions of us throughout the country have used the same type of ballot during elections before."

Jerome Camus: "Shift 60% of Nader votes in New Hampshire & Oregon into Gore's camp and the whole Florida mess would be a non-issue: Gore would have 271 electoral college votes."

King Kaufman: "If it were Gore vs. Ghadafi," I said to my co-workers as they stared at me the way you stare at a crazy person, or at least the way they stare at a crazy person, "I'd have still voted for Nader."

William Safire: "Rather than taking to the streets, sleep-deprived voters are taking this stupendous civics lesson in stride, happily proud to be participants in making American history."

I added a new section to the What is Scripting News? page.

Getting ready to celebrate. Manila shipped on 12/1/99.

Today's song: Theme from Shaft.


A correction for today's DaveNet.

Yes, it is clear from reading the Gore website and the transcript of the debates that Gore is pro-choice.

I retract the statement that I couldn't tell that Gore was pro-choice. I hope the larger points made by the piece are not missed.


Last update: Thursday, November 09, 2000 at 8:48 PM Eastern.

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