Archive for September, 2008

This is too serious to be nice about it

September 30, 2008 7 comments

Remember, she has to be able to step in as president.  Here she is explaining why she’s never met a foreign head of state and only got a passport in the last two years:

“The way that I have understood the world is through education, through books, through mediums that have provided me a lot of perspective on the world.”
- Sarah Palin

I thought anti-intellectuals disparaged “book-larnin’” as opposed to dirt under your fingernails.  But, uh, OK, she has book-larnin’.  Which books, pray tell?

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?
PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —
COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.
PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

OK, so she reads either ‘most of them’ or ‘all of them’ but can’t name even one of them.  Fine.  So could she, say, name some Supreme Court decisions?  Apparently, she can name one. Supreme. Court. Decision.

Sarah, how many of your favorite publications can you name?  How many Supreme Court decisions can you describe by topic, if not actually name?  Loving vs. Virginia? Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad?  Brown?  Kitzmiller? Dred Scott? Barnette? Bush vs. Gore??? Ring any bells? (*snaps fingers repeatedly*)

Maybe Joe Biden will come off as a big ol’ meanie-head if he debates her and reveals her as the empty-headed fraud she is.  So let’s have a proxy: I want Sheryl Kershenbaum to debate Sarah Palin!


  • One possibility that’s been suggested for her reticence about reading is that she does read, but material that wouldn’t play well.  Here she is in 1995 with a John Birch Society magazine.  McCain’s handlers may have looked at that and said “best not to mention it at all”.

  • Interviewed much later in the warm embrace of Fox News, Palin rattled off a list of Supreme decisions and revealed that she reads New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Economist.  She claimed that her inability to discuss these things during the Couric interview was that she was ‘irritated’ by the questions.
Categories: Uncategorized

Monday Morning Music: Theremin Crazy

September 29, 2008 4 comments

What’s a theremin?  Sure, it may sound like a vitamin-enriched hot drink for flu relief, but it’s actually a rather futuristic musical instrument invented by a Russian of the same name.  It has the distinction of being the only musical instrument that is played without being touched: the performer moves his or her hands within an RF field, which feeds back to the instrument as an astonishing range of sound.  Here’s a thereminist playing Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”.  Watch how the performer moves his hands:

If you have heard the original vocals it’s almost impossible to hear this version without being struck by the resemblance to a particular human voice.

I’ve often wondered, if you showed the outre video of the original song to an audience back in, say, 1920, what would they make of it?  How much of the virtue we find in a given work of art is universal, and how much contextual?
(HT Lucas, who finds the damndest things)

Categories: music, Reviews

Selective perception

September 28, 2008 4 comments

The setup: Oscar is sleeping in his favorite window.  I’m just outside that window, installing a new piece of siding.  Five 2.25-inch nails, five or six hammer blows each.  And here is his response:

He didn’t even open an eye.  Mind you, this is the same 13-year-old cat who will wake up, jump off his perch and come into the kitchen if he detects the faint sound of a Rubbermaid container being opened… 

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I really want to see a no-holds-barred debate between Biden and Palin

September 28, 2008 6 comments

We’d love to have a similar bit with Sarah Palin to post here, but as usual, she was being kept from the press.  However we may be seeing more of her soon, as her daughter and future son-in-law are to wed before the election.  As if the nation is going to be enraptured by the sight of a couple 17-year-olds forced to marry to bolster mom’s political campaign.

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Back in the time of Lincoln and Douglas…

September 26, 2008 5 comments

Living back in Lincoln-Douglas’ time must have been no picnic.  No Tylenol!  No modern medicine, no Internet.  It was right before our bloodiest war took place (around 10 times as many US fatalities as in Vietnam). So time travel?  No thanks.

But one good thing… when those debates took place, people read them.  Sure, they saw pictures of the participants but the ideas took center stage.  It wasn’t tone of voice, it wasn’t who was better-looking or had the best makeup. The smooth delivery of a talking point didn’t have advantage over halting delivery of a thoughtful reply.  They could go over a paragraph again and again if they wanted to.

I’m not watching tonight’s debates.  Will look for transcripts tomorrow.  Will watch video clips after I’ve read the transcripts.

Liveblogging the debate:

  • BBC News

  • Vote For Science
  • I’m also not planning to watch W The Movie, a bio on GW Bush from Oliver Stone.  That’s just what we need in the current debate, isn’t it?  An over-the-top bio on the lame duck.  Regressives will seize upon any perceived inaccuracies and rally their base as if it had anything to do with anything what some Hollywood producer has to say.
Categories: Uncategorized

Is Katie Couric a schoolteacher?

September 26, 2008 2 comments

I’ve been misunderestimating Katie Couric.  She always seemed like a lightweight to me but I should have known better – it isn’t like the network lets star camera personalities dress themselves or choose their own hairstyles.  Or, at least not if they are female.  Turn the dial; It’s one channel after another of NILF.  Except the Fox news anchors, no thank you;  brrr!

But Couric’s interview with Sarah Palin, the little bit I’ve seen of it, was good.  She kept her cool while the candidate bluffed her way through one question after another, giving her just the right amount of rope.  And maybe she’s told the network executives to bugger off – she was dressed very professionally for the interview.

(Oh, and Sarah?  Since May the president of Russa is Dmitry Medvedev, not Vladimir Putin.  Please try to keep up.)

Maybe we should have some schoolteachers interview Sarah Palin.  Who knows more about bluffing than a schoolteacher?  Ask an incurious student about some point of world history, and you get back a cloud of words, not much content.  Next best thing is the analysis of a schoolteacher who watched the Couric interview:

…Like I said, I actually feel for a bluffer when I see them at it. My first reaction to watching the video wasn’t political, it was much more like how I feel seeing this as a teacher: a sympthetic wince. Whomever is sitting down and trying to cram with Palin is making a bad mistake. She’d be a lot better off if she didn’t to try to seriously talk about how Putin is rearing his head and floating into Alaskan air space and so on. I suspect that her personal instincts about how to answer these kinds of questions are better than the staffers who are trying to infuse her with Stature™ at the last minute…

Easily Distracted: Trade secret of teachers

(HT Chad Orzel at Uncertain Principles)


  • Ed Brayton has a bit more video for us in Why they don’t want Palin talking

  • This MSNBC Videoincludes the first Couric bit, but has more.  The interesting thing for me was at the end where a WSJ poll found “more than half said she was qualified to be Vice President, but 49% said she was unqualified to be president”.  Presumably not the same half of respondents, or someone’s “not clear on the concept”.
Categories: Uncategorized

History on Vice Presidential qualifications

September 25, 2008 6 comments

Sarah Palin says her level of experience is comparable to other VP’s in history.  Turns out she’s right… in only two instances since George Washington.  And who are those two?  Lawrence Lessig looked at all of them to find out…

(Can’t remember where I saw this but HT, whoever you are)

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Marcy Kaptur kicks ass on the blank check

September 25, 2008 3 comments

In an interview of some astronaut, that I saw a long time ago, the interviewer asked; “Suppose you only had ten seconds of air left.  What would you do?  The right-stuff guy answered; “I’d spend eight seconds thinking and two seconds acting.”

A friend of mine in high school grew up in a logging camp.  He told me; “If I had ten minutes to cut down a tree, I’d spend seven of them sharpening my chain.”

So we’ve got this big hairy financial crisis, and the only solution is to make up some big-assed random amount of money and throw it at the problem and run away screaming.  And it has to be done RIGHT NOW!

Seriously, what’s the rush? The game we’re playing is stacked in favor of fat cats.  Fine-tuning the rules makes some sense, but Rep. Kaptur is pitching a whole new game:

Ohio is lucky to have Marcy Kaptur, kicking ass and taking names.

HT Mike The Mad Biologist

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Only his makeup artist knows for sure

September 24, 2008 6 comments

So it turns out McCain paid a Hollywood makeup artist over $5500 for a makeup job.  I’m thinking maybe, before the 60 Minutes appearance, because there were a lot of closeups, and he looked surprisingly young for a 72-year-old torture and cancer survivor.

Anyway, $5500 is just about the combined value of… both my cars.

Categories: Uncategorized

Barack Obama on the financial crisis

September 24, 2008 2 comments


HT: Greg Laden

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