Why I’m Not Proud To Be a Democrat…

I’m sitting in my living room on a Sunday morning, and the urge to yap about something political has just become too strong to ignore. This week has given me another political realization: the realization that I’m really not proud to be a Democrat.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to go all Zell Miller on you. The prospect of turning my families future over to the Bush administration frankly sends cold chills down my spine. The prospect of seeing Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft rape the national character and coffers for another four years sends me to the Internet to scan housing prices in Alberta. But again, I’m not proud to be a Democrat.

I don’t believe that the Democrats are the tax-and-spend boogeymen, or that they are pursuing an evil and immoral social agenda to promote homosexuality in the schools. It’s not that they fund the Maplethorpe while taxing poor small businessmen. It’s not that they will hand the keys for the country over to terrorism.

Quite frankly, it’s just their bold incompetence in handing the keys of the country over to Bush.

Honestly, have they given America any reason to vote for Kerry? Certainly Bush has. The economy is pitifully weak. It’s entirely possible that during the administration of both Presidents Bush, not a single net job will have been created for Americans. We’ve alienated many of our key allies, and tried to fight a war in Iraq on the cheap by cutting benefits to military personnel to fatten the wallets of energy producers and defense contractors, nominally to save us from the threat of WMDs which do not exist.

And in the light of all of these revelations: Kerry now trails Bush in most polls.

The DNC have got themselves all knotted up in responding to the Swift Boat Veterens for Truth, perhaps one of the most ironically named groups of all times. The DNC tried to shame Bush into admitting that they were authorized by key Bush campaigners and to denounce their statements, but they forgot: you can’t shame someone without shame. Bush stayed the course, pretending that he wasn’t involved, but not renouncing their tactics either, and the net result: a win for the Republicans, despite the absolute transparency of the the lies.

But more than that, let’s review the wisdom of running someone who has tried to portray himself as a war hero and as a war protestor at the same time with both messages. Particularly a candidate that the opposition will like to portray as someone who “flip flips”. Does that sound like a good idea to you?

Frankly, the Democrats are not just incompetent: they are out of ideas. They simply don’t know how to win. It isn’t the media bias, or the fact that the country’s political ideas have shifted to the right: it’s that they simply don’t have any message. The Republicans do: they want you to be scared. They want you to fear terrorism, to fear socialized medicine, to fear change. Don’t change captains in the middle of the voyage. Don’t rock the boat. Take off your shoes so that we can check you for bombs. Don’t worry about those people in Abu Ghraib or at Guantanamo. If they weren’t bad, they wouldn’t be there.

In the face of this crap, the DNC is out of ideas. It is simply tragic.

DVD Experiments, with a recipe…

Well, I’ve burned a few DVD blanks today just to see what I can do. For source material, I decided to go to the feature film section of archive.org. They have a bunch of films available in MPEG2 format, all fairly good quality and ready for download with minimal transcoding. For my experiments, I chose Max Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels, first released in 1939. I didn’t have a copy in my collection, and I thought it would make a good addition.

The first thing I found was that these films aren’t quite ready for inclusion on DVD: they lack space to insert a VOBU, whatever the heck that is. But a few minutes with some commonly available utilities will change that. I ran:

mpgdemux -b gulliver gullivers_travels.mpeg
mplex -f 8 -o gulliver.mpg gulliver-0.m2v gulliver-0.mp2

These commands split the original mpeg2 into sound and video, and then remultiplex them for DVDs. Then all I had to do was use dvdauthor to build a directory that contained the final DVD image and built a table of contents.

dvdauthor -o gulliver_dvd -a en gulliver.mpg
dvdauthor -o gulliver_dvd -T

This creates a new directory called gulliver_dvd, and copies in the resulting mpeg as a VOB file. I then use growisofs to burn the directory onto a DVD blank:

growisofs -Z /dev/cd0c -dvd-video gulliver_dvd

And voila! It works. Well, almost. I’ve had difficulty using DVD-R media in my HP laptop, but DVD+RW media seems to work just fine, and is eraseable to boot. You need to format DVD+RW media first, using the command:

dvd+rw-format /dev/cd0c

Then you can use it with the growisofs command above. I haven’t tried DVD+R media yet, but I suspect it will work just fine in my laptop. Both kinds of media work in the Sylvania TV+DVD player I have upstairs, but neither appears to work properly in my ancient Apex 500 DVD player I have downstairs. I’m not sure what the deal is, it just might be too old to be really compatible.