Re: More Than You Care To Hear About Government IT

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What a shock that McArdle would pass on an argument that blames efforts to make government websites accessible to the disabled. (And, as you note -- and this was my experience too -- anyone who thinks that 508-compliance means "ZOMG NO BUTTONS!!!1" is doing a crap job.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 2:36 PM
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Somebody is a jackass.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 2:39 PM
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In my paralegaling days I had occasionally to deal with some poorly designed webpages; FERC's was among the offenders. While I can't recall the precise details of the site's offences and the way it made getting any data extremely difficult, I can recall enough to say that there's no way that difficulty came about as a result of attempting to make the site accessible to the blind or whatever. That is frankly unbelievable—I mean you'd really have to be crazy to think it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 2:42 PM
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I mean, really. "We would have had terrific government IT if it wasn't for those meddling cripples!"

You have crappy government IT because it's a massive (the massivest, maybe) legacy (the legacy-est) environment with (just taking a guess here) a recent history of terribly poor leadership and (again, taking a flyer) severe problems with proper funding and allocation.

But no, it must be the disabled!

I mean, come on.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 2:43 PM
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Somebody who shall remain nameless

Kirsten Gillibrand? Hillary Clinton? Paris Hilton?

Someone and her readers

Monica Bellucci? Helen of Troy? Marie of Hungary?

All the talk about "you can't have a button on your web page!" is a misinterpretation of the guidelines

[Diggity, diggity.] Apparently the 508 web page standards are a rehash of the W3C accessibility standards. So Eliizabeth I there has a beef with the W3C? It makee the government wastee, unlike the private enterprizee which is free to maketh with the shitty web pages?

Neat.

and not only for the small minority of people using our websites who are blind and have to use a screen reader.

BUT! For that sight-impaired minority, Queen Vic there has a message: 'FUCK YOU BLIND CLOWN!'

It also creates funding nightmares -- there are a lot of great mashups of data between 2 or more departments that could provide a lot of value to the taxpayer that aren't being done because nobody can agree on which department should pay for them.

Ya know, from listening (over the years) to various IT people working for private businesses, that sounds like par for the course for any bureaucracy.

So like a good liberal, I of course believe that government IT would be greatly improved by more government regulations and standardizations, not fewer.

Well, better, at any rate. It took me a bit to figure out what the 508 site wanted to say.

But along with that, I think there should be a big push to make as much data public as possible in easily-consumable formats so that people can create their own visualizations or mashups or whatever.

Yay! Becks for Senate!

max
['Why not?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 2:43 PM
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Yeah it's kind of like the rule that keeps someone from linking to parts I & II of a series of posts from part III.

And any intellectually honest discussion of "why government IT is terrible" needs to start with "why large organization IT is terrible".

I do agree that there is a huge opportunity for the government to improve their interagency presentation of data. In my experience many departments have come a long way and are really quite excellent now. For instance NOAA lagged in the early days of the Internet, but really runs a lot excellent stuff now. For instance, the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center stuff on snow is a wet dream come true for me (a cold wet dream). But I would really love to see a government-wide common use of GIS data and presentations that would allow mapping everything they had (and was so compelling that states and municipalities willingly participated.)

And then we could bomb anyone else in the world who did not join in.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 2:50 PM
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And then we could bomb anyone else in the world who did not join in.

As long as intend to help the blind visualize data by doing it, it'll be fine.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 2:53 PM
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Anecdata:

I've sat in on meetings lamenting our own terrible processes for handling data, accepting grant applications and designing webpages. I've heard turf protection, lack of funding, lack of imagination, and reliance on what we've already done. But I had never heard of 508 anything until this post.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 2:57 PM
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Okay, so reading up on Section 508, it went into effect in June 2001. So presumably (a) government IT was wicked awesome prior to that point and (b) the fact that some significant function of government was a manifest failure during the term of the Bush administration was not, actually, the fault of the Bush administration, but was in fact part of a devious plot on the part of the disabled lobby. Totally.

Is there some way she can blame Katrina on blind people?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 2:59 PM
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I think there should be a big push to make as much data public as possible in easily-consumable formats so that people can create their own visualizations or mashups or whatever.

Amen. I don't think the Washington D.C. Apps for Democracy contest was linked here, was it?

Apps for Democracy will feature 60 cash prizes from $2000 to $100 dollars for a total of $20,000 in prizes. Developers and designers will compete by creating web applications, widgets, Google Maps mash-ups, iPhone apps, Facebook apps, and other digital utilities that visualize OCTO's Data Catalog, which provides real-time data from multiple agencies to citizens -- a catalyst ensuring agencies operate as more responsive, better performing organizations.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 3:33 PM
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Kirsten Gillibrand? Hillary Clinton? Paris Hilton?

This, speaking of design, is why I am happy to be using Firefox all the time now (I had been lazy about migrating from Safari, but then Mozilla allowed me to transfer my history and bookmarks, and I've never gone back). With a mouseover, I was able to see where the link was leading and choose not to follow. My blood pressure thanks you, Firefox.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 3:37 PM
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Speaking of awesome crowdsourced stuff, the interactive Google Map about what happened to the purple ticket holders on Inauguration Day is fantastic. So awesome that a random person can put something together these days that's way better than a newspaper.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 3:42 PM
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the bit from the 'government IT worker' quoted makes zo sound like a tool, partly from something the McFuddled argument is eliding: is she complaining about gov't IT that isn't usable/reusable, or is she complaining about websites that don't look stylish?

I am mildly open to the importance of looking stylish, but with this caveat: if the data was really reusable, really separated content and layout/design, then her stylesheets (whatever) could have as much bling as she wanted -- just as everyone else's could match their own desires. (Mod some cases in which this is harder than it seems, but not actually many, IME.)

Shorter: anti-(Microsoft+advertisers) was right all along.

Next could we talk about how adopting public-key cryptography would probably have adverted the spam scourge?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:03 PM
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It doesn't show the bar on C street where purple ticket holders who gave up went, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:03 PM
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Man. I'm really glad I had a blue ticket. We walked through the tunnel going the other way; I can't imagine spending any longer than I did in there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:06 PM
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if the data was really reusable, really separated content and layout/design, then her stylesheets (whatever) could have as much bling as she wanted

I've done quite a bit of web design. All the browsers I've used have had little to no support for this part of CSS. (Well, more part of what the W3C was hoping for for CSS rather than the actual standard.) Besides, that level of generality is just a pipe dream at this point anyway.

If browsers would just stop supporting measurements in px, (and support ways to do designs that currently require them,) things would be better.

All of which leads me to add another reason that IT is often such a mess: because web programming sucks metric tons of ass. (And unfortunately, web programming is a huge part of IT in general, currently.)


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:13 PM
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16: little to no support for formatting via stylesheets?!? I mean, huh?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:16 PM
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17: Little to no support for user stylesheets overriding the site's.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:19 PM
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With a mouseover, I was able to see where the link was leading and choose not to follow

You can do that in Safari too (View->View Status Bar).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:20 PM
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(And unfortunately, web programming is a huge part of IT in general, currently.)

It keeps the lights on and my liquor cabinet stocked, brother.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:21 PM
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18: ahh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:22 PM
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Note that when I say in 16 that level of generality is just a pipe dream at this point, I'm talking about presentation rule composition, rather than separation of data and presentation, which is most definitely achievable now. For instance, you already see companies like Google and Flickr offering public APIs to access their data programmatically. That kind of thing is what the government should be doing, as others have said.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:26 PM
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22: rather than separation of data and presentation

Yeah, that's what I was confused about. Separation of data and presentation is, like, so last millenium.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:30 PM
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16: Amen. px is evil.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:30 PM
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It's all Andreesen's fault, of course.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:34 PM
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ObBOFH: Any web site than doesn't render acceptably under lynx is not worth fixing.

I grant that the unbookmarkable-within, un-right-click-copy-or-save-address-able flash monstrosities are not all still as bad as Jakob Nielsen proclaimed ten years ago.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:36 PM
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But if it renders acceptably under lynx, how broken can it be?

This is just an attempt to get out of doing work.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:40 PM
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Yes, section 508 compliance is also why every major corporate website and major commercial software product sucks.

For Christ's sake.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:44 PM
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Is there some way she can blame Katrina on blind people?

The levees were built by the Special Corps of Engineers.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:44 PM
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I bet if I said I made some kickass chili, some punk who hates grapefruit would be all "nuh uh".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:51 PM
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17: Well, I just edited one of Unfogged's stylesheets and asked my browser to override Unfogged.com with the edited copy and hey presto! It worked. (Omniweb.)

It is my contention that only dark forces have made this a wierd and rare desire, and if common sense had prevailed, one would not have to run a strangely standards-friendly browser for this to be so easy. And then a pile of the stuff that does keep web programmers in business would be kind of moot, but people would be sharing their default stylesheets on Facebook to show how sophisticated their tastes were.

As you say, this is a pointlessly 20th-c argument, although it's worth having again if we might win this time. Maybe the data-phones adn netbooks and HDTV all together will be enough motivation.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:53 PM
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Wiki?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:53 PM
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32 to 30.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:53 PM
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...Not that I've actually checked that other browsers don't let you override stylesheets, but wevs.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:56 PM
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It is my contention that only dark forces have made this a wierd and rare desire

I am pretty sure the fact that most people don't know what a style sheet is nor do they want to know, and the fact that most people suck at graphic design is what has kept this a rare desire.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:56 PM
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Gagh! Section 508 of the Rehab Act is part of my day job and yes it requires me to think about it, but it isn't hard. Staying aware of ease of navigation on a page is good for everyone. Oh, and buttons are perfectly fine with descriptive tags and such. I use JAWS and Dolphin to test them fairly often and Lo! buttons work when my blind colleagues use them. Good grief, even PDFs and Flash animation can be made 508 compliant. 508 doesn't mean you have to make the blind see.

Here's an interesting article on the (blind) guy who made PDFs accessible.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:56 PM
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35: But! But! If the principle of user-control-when-wanted had stuck, there would be wizards and things called 'YourLook' or 'YourEyesOnly' or whatever, and someone would probably have come up with a clever UI making it considerably easier. And actually, most people only need to choose among a set of what, a dozen?, optimizing for different screens and eyes and allowing for a little bit of taste.

I'd much rather argue about whether the PGP/spam problem was innate in original sin, or whatever.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:59 PM
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Snopes.com has a bit of javascript to disallow selecting any of the text on their pages. I wrote to them about it, and they said it was to prevent people from copying entire articles without attribution.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 4:59 PM
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I'm a big fan of accessible design in general. I used to live in a handicapped-accessible apartment and it was fantastic, even though I don't have any physical impairments. The kitchen and bathrooms were laid out so they were easier to get around and I loved having the handles on the doors instead of knobs when my hands were full. The wide doorways also made it really easy to move in the furniture. I became a big believer that accessible design helps everyone. When my parents did a renovation of their house, I encouraged them to put in as many accessibility features as possible because, while they don't need them now, they'll probably come in handy as they get older.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:04 PM
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A lot of journals seem to downgrade their eprints for the same purposes. DRM; threefer.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:04 PM
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You're right, that is way more than I ever wanted to hear about government IT.

But speaking just as a user, government IT seems pretty good to me. Sites are generally OK to navigate and lots of info is easily downloadable.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:05 PM
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And what is it with the McArdle linkage? Seriously, history is shifting into overdrive all around us and the best linkage available is to glibertarian nonsense about some totally obscure technical issue?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:07 PM
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Here's a deep question. Is there a difference between glibertarianism and schmibertarianism?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:15 PM
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32: fine.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:15 PM
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42: Becks put up a new post. Be grateful. The music thread is actually about bombing, so.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:19 PM
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44: Yay!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:23 PM
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I will not be making chili with a pound of heart in it tho.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:24 PM
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Is it stupid and gross to consider making it with faux chicken? I generally eschew meat substitutes when they are not Buddhist mock duck. Real chicken is traditional in pozole/posole/??, but soy curls* obviously are not. I'm not sure I'm ready to serve up a dinner composed entirely of hominy and sauce, though, so I feel some temptation in that direction.

*What an appetizing name, too! I kind of like them, though.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:33 PM
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48: I think it sounds rather delightful. I'd eat a bowl of it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:35 PM
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I will not be making chili with a pound of heart in it tho.

What, then, will you do with your heart?

It is too late for it to love, when it is in your freezer.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:36 PM
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Love yes, heart no.

Ingredient-wise.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:37 PM
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I've been eating Iranian yoghurt soup for the last four days. That recipe isn't as awesome as it could be: it's lacking the fenugreek, tumeric, and oniony meatballs that make the soup really delicious.

My honey has been waxing rhapsodic recently about another Iranian soup he grew up eating. You start with a tomato and lamb shank and potato soup, and then you pull out all the meat and most of the vegetables and mash them into like a meaty hummous. You still eat the soup, but the lamb-hummous is the real treat. I am unconvinced that I will love this.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:50 PM
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The reason so many web pages suck is that the majority of people think that the ability to make a web page is qualification to actually put together an informative set of hyperlinked information. The basic principles of good web page design are not complicated and are widely available, but people ignore them because there are all these tools that make it seem so simple to put together a website.

Also I second 39. I'm hoping to build my own place in the not too distant future, and it will be build according to accessible design principles. Wide doors, lots of handholds, large, easily accessible actuators for things like windows, curtains and lights. A little recognized fact about accessible design is that all those extra handholds in the shower/bath are a major convenience if you have company IYKWIM.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:50 PM
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You mean like when your parents come visit, togolosh?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:51 PM
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54: Exactly. Do you know how badly it sucks having to take your mom to the emergency room because she fell over and hit her head while fucking in the shower? I hope you do not, because it sucks a lot.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 5:59 PM
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And what is it with the McArdle linkage?

Ahem: She Whose Name Is Not Mentioned was linked. If you must, McAntoinette works.

47: I will not be making chili with a pound of heart in it tho.

How sad, especially when it's supposed to be kidney. But this error can be corrected by having a nice bowl of heart & kidney stew.

Is it stupid and gross to consider making it with faux chicken?

Chili? Real chili? Yes and no. Spicy chicken is not a problem, but chili is supposed to be cooked for a real long time. The chicken (or faux chicken, or venison or whatever) sorta turns into mush.

max
['Which is sad.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:07 PM
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Not "real chili," but the dish Ben posted on the wiki, which is posole-ish.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:09 PM
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I don't think AWB, Vegetarian, will be having heart or kidney, in any preparation, any time soon.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:09 PM
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And good!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:10 PM
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||

Happy New Year! My brother reports from Vancouver, BC:

I should say: "Gung Haggis Fat Choy" for our special west coast fusion of Chinese New Year and Robbie Burns Birthday. At the opera last night we had sitting next to us an old Chinese guy in full kilt with the sporan bag, a tailed coat, argyle socks, the full shebang.

|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:15 PM
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So like a good liberal, I of course believe that government IT would be greatly improved by more government regulations and standardizations, not fewer.

It's only a good liberal policy if it involves raising taxes too.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:40 PM
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Government websites: There are some good ones. The Park Service one is particularly nice, both well-designed and informative. The BLM site is also well-designed, so much so, in fact, that it takes a while to realize that it has considerably less information on it than you might expect. The BIA, on the other hand, has a terrible site.

Accessible design: I'm all for it. We often get compliments here for being a lot more accessible than most national parks. One thing people tend to say in that context is that a lot of other parks could very easily redo things to be more accessible, but they don't.

Posole: Vegan posole is excellent. My mom's been making it pretty frequently since my sister became a vegan.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:45 PM
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A lot of individual national park sites are easy to navigate, but don't provide a lot of in-person-visit-like info to online visitors, sad to say. They probably don't have the resources to do elaborate online exhibits.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:49 PM
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Yeah, the parks do their own websites and the quality varies considerably.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:52 PM
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Vegans should not be allowed to take over families and bully moms.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:55 PM
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With pigs and cows off the table, John, who are vegans to bully other than moms (and dads)? Bullying livestock isn't ethical.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 6:58 PM
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Reclamation's site doesn't have much on it. The Army Corp's site is horrifyingly bad.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:00 PM
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66: That false dilemma tastes like chicken.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:02 PM
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If you can't bully bulls, who can you bully?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:03 PM
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||

Google maps: Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh.

|>


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:03 PM
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They can bully themselves, just as the rest of us do.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:03 PM
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Well, bully for them!


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:04 PM
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The Army Corp's site is horrifyingly bad.

Par for the course for the Corps, eh? Badum-ching!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:04 PM
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70 gives me faith in the abiding silliness of our nation.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:05 PM
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Vegans should not be allowed to take over families and bully moms.

Ironically, the vegan in question has no intention of bullying anyone, but the mom in question has a tendency to fuss over things like this.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:05 PM
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Coming at Emerson's question from the other side, if vegans don't bully moms, who will? It's increasingly unacceptable for dads to.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:10 PM
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I think the Powers That Be should finally bite the bullet and turn this place into a bulletin board.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:29 PM
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That reminds me, did everyone in DC for the inauguration buy a warm winter hat a few days ago? I've been trying to find one and lots of stores are completely sold out.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 7:37 PM
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62: I'm told that NPS is about to be handed ~$2b., which must be spent in eighteen months. Accessibility -- along with basic maintenance -- will be high on the to-do list.

78: Now that Teo has spurned my advances, what are you doing with the next five-six years of your life?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:02 PM
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78, didn't get your O-hat ?


Posted by: Econolicious (Haberdasher) | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:11 PM
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80: I'm not a donor.

79: You know I was a grad student in history already, right? Or do you have some other nefarious plot in mind?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:13 PM
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81.2: And? We're giving away free hats if you sign up now.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:17 PM
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Does the rest of the admit committee know about these activities of yours, ari?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:18 PM
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81: I'll have you know that I'm eating delicious pie right now. And that is why you should become a historian. Seriously, this is very good pie.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:20 PM
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I seriously doubt time to degree is 5 or 6 years at most places, anyway.

What about 78 made you bring that up, anyway?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:22 PM
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86

Anyway, anyway. Anyway.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:22 PM
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I'm currently the chair of the graduate program, ben. If I say we're giving out hats, we're giving out hats.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:22 PM
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86: Someone recently described you in a thread as "peripatetic". Or perhaps "peripatetic." I can't remember.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:24 PM
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Right. Because I'm going into archives/library science, and that needs a little more schooling.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:25 PM
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eb and teo are a pair o' pathetic peripatetics.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:26 PM
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I'm not actually opposed to finishing my Ph.D, but only if I'm working in something history-related. I'd probably try to pick up with my old program, though, if it hasn't been too long (i.e. my adviser is still there).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:30 PM
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91: Oh. Okay. No hat for you. (frowny face)


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:47 PM
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91: Oh. Okay. No hat for you. (frowny face)


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:48 PM
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Weird. At least I still have my pie.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:49 PM
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I'm sorry I hurt you enough to lead to two frowny faces. But it's unlikely I'd ever go back to coursework + exams when I left ABD.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:49 PM
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Hey, I'd take a Ph.D. Got anything in the formal verification of software?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:50 PM
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That's very reasonable. Like I said, I (and my pie) will be okay.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:51 PM
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I bet your pie differs in its assessment of its prospects.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:52 PM
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Pies are like cows at the end of the universe. They want to be eaten.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:53 PM
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What does pie exist for, if not the enjoyment of others?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:53 PM
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To be an object of disinterested contemplation and appreciation, obviously.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:56 PM
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Pies have a strange effect on you.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 9:58 PM
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Something of a hypnotic effect, in fact, tending to dissociative personality disorder.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 10:00 PM
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Tomatoes, too. Tomatoes are best fresh, with salt.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 10:14 PM
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I'm told that NPS is about to be handed ~$2b., which must be spent in eighteen months. Accessibility -- along with basic maintenance -- will be high on the to-do list.

Interesting. Can I have some of that money?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 10:22 PM
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You personally? Or your park? If the former, I don't know. Depends on your supervisor. If the latter, and if I'm right, then I'm sure the answer is yes. Presumably there's a maintenance backlog there, as with every other park, right?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 10:36 PM
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They're doing a total renovation of the Visitor Center starting next year, but I think they already had that funding lined up. Aside from that, yeah, there's probably a bunch of stuff they've been putting off for a while.

As for me personally, things are looking good for a seasonal job, but funding is tight.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 10:46 PM
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funding is tight

Maybe not for long. How's the weather there now? Must be beautiful.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 11:14 PM
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Eh. It's been really warm lately, so all the snow has been melting into a muddy mess. It's mostly dry by now, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 11:29 PM
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This is storm season, isn't it?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 11:34 PM
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Not really. The main time for storms is the late summer monsoon season. This is more of a secondary season, with occasional storms moving through and dropping unpredictable amounts of moisture.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 11:38 PM
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Huh, February and March in Denver are the months when heavy snow can fall. I assumed it was the same there.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 11:41 PM
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Having storms in the monsoon season is so played out.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 11:45 PM
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113: Well, when you become God you can have storms in any season you wish.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 11:51 PM
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But that's the thing: wherever I put the storms, people will start calling that the monsoon season. You can't win, except, I guess, by being asystematic.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-25-09 11:55 PM
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Huh, February and March in Denver are the months when heavy snow can fall. I assumed it was the same there.

Denver's pretty far north of here, and the topography is quite different. Chaco actually lies right on the boundary between two rather different weather patterns; to the north, precipitation tends to come in roughly equal amounts of summer rain and winter snow, while to the south most of the precipitation comes in the summer with much smaller amounts in the winter. The boundary moves around a bit from year to year, so the storm patterns in the immediate Chaco area can be quite variable. This liminal location for the canyon plays a key role in some theories about the nature of the Chaco system.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 12:17 AM
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115: nobody expects the asystematic monsoon season!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 12:29 AM
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A bit late, but as someone who has worked with government IT for 25 years, I endorse every dot and comma of Becks' post. And for PGD at 42, part of history going into overdrive ought to be that simple concepts like web accessibility stop being a fucking battleground with idiots who have no idea what they're talking about.

Web designers who think that things like W3C are too hard give me the pip. They want to be artists. They're not, they're technicians whose job is to make other peoples' information readily accessible to a bunch of users they'll never meet, and who couldn't care less about them unless they've done their job wrong. If they can't get on board with that, they should be reassigned to maintaining legacy COBOL forever.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 1:42 AM
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Occurs to me that 118 could read as if I was calling PGD an idiot. In which case I apologise. The idiots are on the other site.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 3:28 AM
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It's all Andreesen's fault, of course.

Why? Is Andreesen disabled?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 5:31 AM
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I'm a little torn here. OTOH, I concur with everything Becks wrote. OTOH, I have made a lot of money by extracting* impossible-to-find-and-even-harder-to-interpret data from poorly designed government web sites (I'm looking at you, Bureau of Transportation Statistics), so I might have to find a new racket if Becks' recommendations were implemented.

*More precisely, I made money from certain eager, talented 22-year olds in my employ thrashing the data on my behalf. I was probably commenting on unfogged or something.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 5:39 AM
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121: I would have thought that if it made things easier for Krauthammer, you'd be totally onboard, no reservations.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 7:51 AM
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Here's a deep question. Is there a difference between glibertarianism and schmibertarianism?

Sure: A glibertarian believes that "the market will take care of it" is a sufficient answer to any question about public policy -- any bad results of a privatization program are the consequence of insufficient privatization, et cetera.

A schmibertarian is a libertarian who thinks that torture, extra-legal detention, and aggressive wars are fine as long as they're directed against scary brown folks.

Obviously, one can be both a schmibertarian and a glibertarian.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 9:12 AM
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As for government IT, yet another reason for problems is the wide variety of end-user skills and goals. Individuals or small businesses can tailor Web sites or other systems to their audience, but the government and medium-sized-to-big businesses can't do that so easily. Something that needs to be accessible to both a twentysomething contractor with an IT degree and a sixtysomething CEO with a career in the military will look very clunky to one of those people, and the latter is usually giving orders to the former rather than the other way around.

And as for the map in 12: Jesus. My poor planning that day looks not poor at all in retrospect. I didn't leave the house until 9:30 or 10 a.m. and even took the wrong metro line in, making it about six stops to the closest possible station instead of two. But my roommates left five hours earlier or the night before and simply had a view of a different Jumbotron than I did, and that map shows why.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 9:27 AM
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Thanks, Tom. I thought it was something like that.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 9:41 AM
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Web designers who think that things like W3C are too hard give me the pip. They want to be artists. They're not, they're technicians whose job is to make other peoples' information readily accessible to a bunch of users they'll never meet,

This inspires guilt because, while I do think of myself as a technician, I have spent too much time working on websites that don't meet accessibility standards.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 11:46 AM
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I would have thought that if it made things easier for Krauthammer, you'd be totally onboard, no reservations.

You think Krauthammer does data research? Silly, silly M/tch!


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 1:13 PM
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Our government made a database of all the GSM base stations. They put it on the WWW behind an interface that lets you search by postcode and view them on a map.

However, they refuse to let me get postcode by base station ID because of terroriss criminos or something.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-26-09 4:36 PM
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