Thursday, February 28, 2008

California: Present and Past

1984 Republican National, Dallas

"We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late... The science is clear. The global warming debate is over."

- Arnold Schwarzenegger, September 26, 2006

"Don't be afraid to see what you see."

- Ronald Reagan

The Unger Report

Further confirming my deep whiteness, I absolutely love the Unger Report. Check out the Unger Report on celebrities selling pictures of their babies, ranking top ten lists, and how to turn delegates into superdelegates.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Goodbye, February 2008: Various Items Briefly Noted

A few items worth your consideration (i.e., links that will take you away from here to somewhere better):
  • An excellent and thoughtful essay on Kosovo's declaration of independence, and the Serbian reaction, by my friend the Tonic Blotter.

  • Fear and anxiety at the rise of the machines at another friend's site. The post highlights the rise of intelligent webbots that are beginning to "think" creatively to defeat various schemes Google and others rely upon to weed out humans from robots. Along those lines, another article I came across today raised the specter of autonomous military killing machines. The fear is that as we make our military robots more intelligent and more independent, we are setting them on the road to autonomy. (We've all seen this movie. Perhaps we'll soon live it.) It's worth noting here that our recent bombing in Pakistan that killed an Al Qaeda leader was carried out by a remote-control Predator drone.

  • Yesterday's debate: I've decided that the vast majority of the American people don't care about most of the issues, or Obama's and Clinton's respective voting records on various bankruptcy or energy bills, or the largely incomprehensible differences between their health care plans, etc. (Here, you can read "the vast majority of the American people" as me.) Instead, for better or worse, I think most voters are looking for simple things to latch onto. The differing positions of Clinton and Obama on whether we should have gone into Iraq offers one clear, simple difference, and this is ultimately Obama's trump card. Beyond that, some voters will care about NAFTA, and maybe a few other items, but not too much else.

    So, beyond Iraq, voters rely on the personalities and appearances of the candidates: how they look on TV, whether they seem genuine, fake, or trustworthy, whether they're annoying, who seems more balanced, etc. I've thought about this for a while, and I now feel comfortable saying that Hillary Clinton is simply less likable than Barack Obama, for reasons, I feel pretty sure, that have nothing to do with gender or race (hers or mine). I realize this statement is obviously open to the criticism that all personalities are shaped by the individual's gender and race, etc., but I'll leave that discussion for comments. Clinton is simply not funny (at least publicly -- we constantly hear that she's "funny in private"), her timing is atrocious, she seems tone deaf, she tends to raise her voice when trying to make points in a way that is totally off-putting, she's rarely self-deprecating in a human, genuine-seeming way, she often gives her opponents and questioners the evil eye, or her "withering look", her displays of "excitement" are painfully, transparently fake and simulated, and she is irredeemably secretive and paranoid. These things make her unlikable, and I don't think it is sexist to come to this conclusion based on these factors. A male candidate, a black candidate -- any candidate -- with these qualities would be unlikable.

    These were supposed to be brief notes.

Obama Hoops It Up

Obama playing basketball in Hawaii with his high school team in the late 70's (I think that's the date -- I'm dating this based on the length of the shorts). He's number 23. He makes a nice left-handed lay-up (his stronger hand), and misses a free throw.

I'm a big believer in the value of team sports. Basketball seems to have been a major factor in Obama's formative years. Being part of a team may well have helped Obama develop some of his social graces, while also building his confidence, and helping him develop the physical grace he possesses. McCain, interestingly, was a wrestler in high school, in lighter weight classes. Wrestling is, of course, an intensely individualistic sport; that sport would seem to fit McCain's fiery, intense, and "maverick" personality. Hillary Clinton played tennis in her youth.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stuff White People Like

This may be the best thing currently available on the web. Unsurprisingly, after I sent this to my brother, he told me all of these things apply to me. I agreed with him.

Some of my favorites posts include Indie Music, Not Having a TV, Being the Only White Person Around, and Divorce. But there's really no bad entry. They are all the best things ever written by anyone, ever. Maybe the best part of the blog are the comments of people pissed off by the blog. And there are plenty.

Let's see how long the hilarious Canadian people behind this blog are able to keep this up. My suggestions for future posts:
  • Food Allergies
  • Dave Eggers/The Believer/McSweeney's
  • Ordering Clothing from Catalogs
  • Graphic Novels
  • Hiking and Hiking Apparel
  • Finding Hardwood Floors We Had No Idea Were Under that Gross Old Carpet
  • Rashomon
  • Vermont
  • Walking Tours
  • Adopting Chinese Babies
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • The New Yorker
  • Will Smith
  • Audio Tours
There are so many possibilities. If anyone deserves a book deal, it's these people. And an adapted screenplay.

Hat tip to Captain Colossal.

Update: Chanchow informs me that the site already mentions Dave Eggers in the David Sedaris post.

Update 2: There's an entertaining NPR "Talk of the Nation" interview, with listeners' phone calls here (one caller mentions the ever popular Wearing Shorts in the Winter. Also see this article on SWPL in the L.A. Times. Also, I wanted to add the following to my list of suggestions: The Beastie Boys, Horseshoes, Canvas Tote Bags, Health Scares that Turn Out Fine, Horses, Wearing Shoes in the House, and Ultimate Frisbee.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nuestro Gran Amigo

Brought to you by Amigos de Obama (hat tip to Middle Brother Octopus). I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this video is more effective, and more likely to move people on the fence to go out and vote for Obama than's "Yes We Can" video. The "Yes We Can" was like catnip for the faithful -- preaching to the choir to make all of us in the Obama camp feel good about ourselves; the "¡Viva Obama!" video introduces voters to Obama in a way the feels more genuine and more inclusive than the collection of cool kids shot in black and white in the "Yes We Can" video, which reinforced the "Obama is a Mac and Hillary is a PC" motif (which I don't think is a helpful theme for Obama at this point).

Tejanos: ¡Viva Obama!

De te fabula narratur!

A miniature model of the Near-Earth Asteroid Eros at the Griffith Observatory.

I should be outside running. When I eat anything fatty or oily these days, I feel a pain in my chest, like some sort of psychosomatic instant angina. Depending on lifestyle, thirty-something can be prime heart-disease time for South Asian men.

Many people around me have been getting terribly sick over the past year or so. Some have died. Much too early, much too quickly -- before most of us were able to come to grips with what was happening. It's made me feel like life is sometimes just too fucking hard, too fucking tenuous. There are so many things that can go wrong. It's amazing that we continue to operate and function from hour to hour, from day to day, bombarded with teratogenic radiation from the sun, blanketed in thick clouds of diesel particulate matter, imbibing leaching plastics, jet fuel runoff in our water, antibiotics in our meat.

We're all built to fail, I guess. This is why Buddhist monks would medidate on decaying bodies. In some cases, Tibetan Buddhists chop up the bodies of the dead, lay the pieces out in an open place, and watch vultures swoop down to snatch up the meat. (The practice is known as the "sky burial".)

But then, on the other hand, what could be more amazing than grain, meat, and water being converted into the machinery of a living thing? In our reproduction, we seem like perpetual motion machines: living things beget other living things, needing only the input of outside energy and materials. Machines designed to turn proteins and sugars and liquids into energy, thought, imagination. (I've been reading too much Marx lately.)

The sky burial.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Feel Better Soon

Barack Obama has a cold. We may actually see him blow his nose during tonight's debate. I actually think this would help him.

Also, I wanted to say this: WE ARE GOING TO WIN THIS YEAR!

Monday, February 18, 2008

What's Happening to Me?

For the past few weeks, I've been really into Chicago. How into them? Windows down blaring "Feeling Stronger" out onto Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock on a Sunday night. Belting out "Saturday in the Park" to myself on the 10. Trying to figure out when and how I could get my friends to go sing karaoke with me so I could bust out with "If You Leave Me Now".

As with my recent Pink Floyd/Billy Joel outbursts, I don't know whether to be concerned. Am I going crazy or is Chicago one of the greatest bands ever? Is there anything better than that horn line in "Just You and Me"? It must be my goofy transition into full-blown middle age. I have always loved Steely Dan -- I'm sure that love will just grow stronger now. It may be my latent Connecticut middle-class roots beginning to fully effloresce. A pair of Stan Smiths, a brushing up of my tennis game, a Saab 900 convertible, a new set of clubs, a pair of red pants, a trip to the Vineyard, a kid at Hotchkiss, and an August tour of Italy organized through my alma mater cannot be far behind.

This is just going to goad my family into saying I'm too white again. I should never have brought up Pierre Bourdieu....

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Cultural Pursuits of the Bourgeoisie

Cornelis Pietersz. Bega, De Alchemist (1663)

We've been on a cultural tear through Los Angeles over the past few weeks, determined, like well-trained truffle pigs, to root out high culture wherever it could be found in Los Angeles. We visited the MoCA for the Murakami exhibit a few weeks back; this weekend we visited LACMA and the Hammer Museum.

As always, the visits to the museums were educational, edifying, etc., but as we were walking through the Hammer today, it did strike me that the cultural pursuits of yuppies like ourselves (and other factions of the bourgeoisie) have a distinct tilt toward the humanities. Through school and college, we are presented with a well-rounded, balanced diet of subjects: science, arts, literature, math, languages, athletics, music, etc. Over time, it seems, Americans tend to be losing their interest in a large segment of these subjects; specifically, math and science. So more and more of us studiously avoid science and math courses in college, and this trend continues as we assume our positions in the aspiring, comfort-seeking, and always highly-conventional middle classes. Our cultural pursuits are almost exclusively focused in the humanities: music, film, visual art, novels, gastronomy, etc.

I guess this makes sense. Math and science do not quite lend themselves to casual, amateur appreciation; they tend to require more involvement, or work. That said, the natural affinity children have for science museums, large mechanical models, biology, the inner workings of machines, astronomy, zoology, etc., seems to be largely lost by the time we have been processed through higher education. (There are, of course, many exceptions: the amateur computer scientists, the hobbyist inventors, mechanics,and astronomers, etc.).

I don't want to belabor this -- I already feel like this sounds too much like a college sophomore babbling about the xeroxed excerpt he just read from a Pierre Bourdieu book. But it is a phenomenon that interests me. Some places have museums dedicated to science that are as extensive as the greatest art museums -- and these science museums are for adults. It's odd that science, and an interest in science, is seen as somehow juvenile or emotionally stunted in our society (i.e., think of the common view of the astronomy buff, or the guy that's really into writing his own code, etc.). The Museum of Natural History is for kids (they have slumber parties there under the blue whale), but the Met and the MoMA are for sophisticated adults. It's as if we want to expose kids to the anatomy of the body, the solar system, the functioning of an helicopter, etc., in the hopes that they'll become cancer researchers or theoretical physicists, but when they grow up and end up as transactional attorneys or hedge fund managers, they just want to check out the Jasper Johns exhibit or the new conductor at the Philharmonic.

This imbalance, this bias toward the right brain at the expense of the left, is probably totally unsurprising to most people, and probably makes sense. Maybe the humanities are generally more interesting and pleasant to take in for fun; it just makes me feel a little stunted sometimes. Perhaps it's the daunting sense that I have little idea of how all this stuff around me works; it might as well be magic, for all I know. Maybe it's the feeling that arriving as a final destination in the realm of art is, in some ways, a dead end of sorts.

Friday, February 15, 2008

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year . . . .

I'm not sure what's come over me. I was walking to the bus stop on Hill Street last night, and I found myself singing "Wish You Were Here" (although I felt relatively happy as I did this). This morning, at Java City, they were piping in "Just the Way You Are" and, as I poured milk into my coffee, I found myself singing along -- like out loud.

Maybe it's spring creeping up on me. Maybe it's an early descent into senility. Or maybe, deep down, I'm just irrepressibly cheesy.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

True Love, part deux

Brought to you by the DNC.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hillary Clinton Will Drink Your Milkshake

First, Happy Valentine's Day. The Clintons for President 4Eva Campaign sends you the following wet, sloppy Valentine:

As I noted somewhere else, it's like North Korean propaganda meets Romper Room. Watching these paid performers straining to create a sense of spontaneous fun, the "dancers" in the "audience" keeping regular spaces between each other in order to create the impression of a "packed" "dance floor", listening to the canned "cheering" edited in at the end, is chilling, dispiriting, and deeply disturbing. This simulation of "fun", this bought and paid-for assemblage of weak-ass, passionless, corporate, blanched, vapid, insulting, infantilizing bullshit is just another sign of what the Clinton campaign is. It is a simulation of authenticity. It is a simulation of emotion.

Hillary orders us to "chat" with her as the expensive tripod-mounted camera pretends to be handheld by "erratically" panning left to right.

It is, ultimately, and sad to say, a simulation of humanity. The Clinton campaign is profoundly terrifying to me because of its deep, bottomless, inhuman emptiness. I'm speaking of the vapidity of Hillary Clinton declaring in a simulated "victory" speech after nothing was won, in Florida, that "this election is about people." I'm speaking of the vertiginous emptiness of Clinton reminding us that "it's about our future, it's about our kids."

This is why the "Vote Different" ad struck such a nerve. The Clinton campaign is a profoundly artificial, empty, and prefabricated product. It, and the candidate at the center of the program, have been rendered inert and lifeless through years of betrayal, triangulation, and capitulation. The Clinton campaign relies on blathering hacks to try to stumble toward the campaign's raison d'être.

Hillary's Potemkin Party in Florida: "People really care . . . ."

But that is the point: there is no point to the Clinton campaign. There is no principle motivating the campaign. It is an empty, soulless machine that exists to perpetuate itself; theoretically, for the neverending Clinton campaign, the ends justify the means, but those ends become so hopelessly lost in the means, that it becomes impossible to disentangle the the two. (What were the fantastic ends that justified the Bill Clinton's famous means of triangulation? You know, besides the end of welfare as we know it, AEDPA, etc.? Oh, I know! The FMLA!) The Clinton campaign is simply a process by which to perpetuate eight more years of the Clintons in power. That is it.

So now that the presumed Clinton Restoration is in doubt, what will we get? We will get the Clinton campaign insisting that rules must be changed after the fact. We will get the Clinton campaign trying to polish turds and call it gold. We will get the Clinton machine destroying the brightest hope the Democratic party has had in nearly half a century. All to ensure that we have no choice but to see Hillary Clinton feign happiness and excitement as she assumes what she has presumed to be hers for years now: absolute power for its own sake.

"It's not easy.": Clinton winning New Hampshire and an Oscar, while reminding us that this election "is about our country" and "our kids".

I want you to consider this: Hillary Clinton may be able to take the Democratic nomination after winning fewer votes, fewer states, and fewer pledged delegates. The Clintons may be able to do this by exerting fantastic pressure on the Democratic party to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates, and/or by using their connections and vast political machine to persuade or intimidate the Superdelegates into disregarding the popular vote and installing the Clintons to resume their dynasty. There will be a "celebration" featuring paid dancers and feigned "excitement". And we will call that "democracy," just as they do in the new Hillary song at the top of this post. People will clap mechanically and force smiles. Pre-inflated balloons will drop. It will be the final, triumphant Clinton Campaign simulation.

Do not let it happen. Let's fight to make sure Democracy and not bullshit wins out this time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Michelle Obama: Be Not Afraid

Paul Krugman's Crusade

I used to really love Paul Krugman's columns in the NYT. But lately, he seems to have become obsessed with an all-consuming hatred for Barack Obama. His last few pieces have been shameless hack jobs on Obama while giving Clinton a total free pass.

What's going on? I suspect that Krugman is hoping to be appointed to Treasury Secretary or something in the Glorious Clinton Restoration. I don't know of any other way to explain his shameless shilling for Team Clinton.

I've blogged about this before, but I think it's worth reporting at this point.(Paul, I hope you stumble upon this.) This is from Krugman's NYT column on December 8, 2006. In this piece, he offers praise to those who had the foresight and judgment to oppose the Iraq War from the very beginning and asks why we should believe that anyone who supported this war has any "foreign policy expertise":
Unlike The Weekly Standard, which singled out those it thought had been proved wrong, I’d like to offer some praise to those who got it right. Here’s a partial honor roll . . . .

Al Gore, September 2002: “I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.”

Barack Obama, now a United States senator, September 2002: “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.” . . . .

Senator Russ Feingold, October 2002: “I am increasingly troubled by the seemingly shifting justifications for an invasion at this time. ... When the administration moves back and forth from one argument to another, I think it undercuts the credibility of the case and the belief in its urgency. I believe that this practice of shifting justifications has much to do with the troubling phenomenon of many Americans questioning the administration’s motives.”

Howard Dean, then a candidate for president and now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, February 2003: “I firmly believe that the president is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time. ... Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.”

We should honor these people for their wisdom and courage. We should also ask why anyone who didn’t raise questions about the war — or, at any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly — should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national security.
NYT (emphasis added.)

My point exactly. So, Paul, if "[w]e should ask why anyone who didn't raise questions about the war" "or . . . acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly . . should be taken seriously . . . [on] matters of national security" why would we even think about supporting Generalissimo Hillary Clinton, proud cheerleader for the Iraq war in 2002, supporter of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment nudging us toward a new war with Iran, and champion of cluster bombs? I don't quite understand. I'd like to see Krugman try to explain what changed and why he thinks it's now okay to regularly trash Obama, who was on Krugman's "honor roll" not long ago. Shouldn't we be honoring Obama and other prescient opponents of this disaster for their "wisdom and courage"?

Top Dog

Congratulations to Barack Obama and Uno the Dog!

I've always wanted a beagle.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Obama Is a Mensch

Roger Cohen on why Obama is good for Israel and for peace in the Middle East.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What if Our President Could Dance?

I'm just saying. It would be a change from stuff like the below clip of "MC Rove" (viewer discretion advised):

I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The View from the Tank: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le papillon) (2007)

This was, hands down, the best movie I've seen in the past year. I hadn't rushed out to see this movie when it came out. It is kind of a hard sell: a French movie about a magazine editor who becomes totally paralyzed and then composes his memoir by blinking to an assistant.

But it is not in any way a bummer. You realize that the movie is going to be not simply heartbreaking, but hilarious as well, within the first few minutes, as you hear the voice of the narrator, Jean-Dominique Bauby, trying to communicate to his doctors, and coming to the horrific realization that he can't speak and can't move anything but his eyes. This doesn't hold him down for long: the next day he is ogling his young, pretty speech and physical therapists, straining his eyeball to look down their cleavage.

There are other moments where Bauby's state and frustration caused me to laugh out loud: when he's trying to watch a soccer game and someone turns off the TV, when a fly lands on his nose when no one is there to brush it off, and he struggles to move to get it off. The mood of the movie is kept from sinking into morbidity and darkness through a suffusion of light in many scenes, and a delicate, pastel palette, featuring lightly blue-tinted glaciers falling into the sea, butterflies emerging from chrysalis,and sun-drenched memories in the French countryside.

The diving bell is the perhaps too literal metaphor for the locked-in syndrome Bauby is a victim of, unable to move or feel anything (besides his eye), but with his mind fully aware and active. His imagination and his memory, he notes, are the butterfly that allow him to escape his diving bell. A little clunky, I admit, but you try blinking that out.

This is something of a digression, but much of the movie made me want to go to France, to speak French -- to be French. There seems to be an element of French pride and camaraderie running throughout the movie: Bauby revels in French authors like Dumas; his friends come to read to him from Balzac; Bauby's speech therapist tells him on her first day that his case is the most important one she has ever had and she vows to do her best and promises to help him communicate. It's touching, but there is also a sense that his speech therapist feels that this is her duty, as a Frenchwoman, to help this fallen Frenchman. Of course, that could be totally off: that's like saying My Left Foot had to do with being Irish, or that Forrest Gump had to do with being American; on second thought, maybe they did. Or maybe, for me, I was simply overcome with the feeling that everyone is way more attractive in France.

The life-affirming aspects of the movie did nag at me a bit: when he is first spelling out words by blinking, Bauby says he wants to die. His speech therapist rejects this, and says he should be ashamed of himself. The story is about the joys and beauties of life -- even a "prolonged life" -- but I was a little disturbed with how blithely Bauby's request is dismissed in the film. Someone left in such a terribly compromised state, with little hope of recovery, should have some say in what becomes of them. They have no duty to soldier on in their near vegetative state to make other people feel good and wholesome about continuing to care for them. I guess the film sort of addresses this by suggesting that there is some possibility for recovery, but it seemed like an issue not properly dealt with.

In any event, the film was strange, funny, and ultimately wonderful -- better than anything I've seen in much too long.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Professor Michael Dorf on Barack Obama

A former professor of mine who went to law school with Barack Obama gives his endorsement of Barack Obama, and notes the weaknesses of HRC's candidacy.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Flashback: Barack Obama Questions Howard Dean About Iraq in 2003

This is fascinating, looking back: Obama on a radio program asking Howard Dean questions about the war in Iraq.

Some interesting bits in there. As a Deaniac for life, this warmed my heart.

Hearts or Minds

First, Michelle Obama is my fucking hero.

I was thinking about this in the car on the way home. Who are these people, Barack and Michelle Obama? Where did they come from? I'm not a religious person -- FREAK ALERT -- but it really does feel to me sometimes as if they have been sent to us, in these darkest of times for our country, to lift us up, to give us reason to have hope for what our great nation can become, to give us reason to believe that we can once again be a light to other nations. I full well realize that this all sounds ridiculous -- some have referred to this state I'm in as being "Obamatarded". I know I'm ridiculous when I get weepy listening to Michelle Obama talk about her hopes for this country. I know we are simply electing a mere politician to be president, not a pristine savior. But Barack and Michelle Obama really do seem like just what we all need right now.

There will be let downs, there will be doubts raised, and there will be crises and mistakes. There may even be failure in the end. But let me suggest this for today: no matter what happens from here on out, savor this moment. Savor this moment: this is what it feels like to have hope for your country again. This is what it feels like to watch history being made. This is what it feels like to see a movement build that makes people want to get out and give -- their time, their effort, their creativity, and, sometimes, their hard-earned money -- all to make this country great again, and in a new and brilliant way. This is what it feels like to see a new generation of Americans rise to take their place leading the nation. This is what it feels like to believe.

So there you have it: no policy arguments, no analysis of "electability," just my raw emotions. I don't think I've ever felt this way about any political campaign -- and I think that applies to millions of people out there. These people seem like decent, intelligent, hardworking, honest, and strong individuals. I trust these people. I believe that Barack Obama will do great things for our nation. These are the people I want representing my country.

Other items: I am happy to report on the triumphant return of the legendary Opposition Report.

I also recommend to you the on-going life-blogging series at South Oxford. For the next month or so, The Widge is writing up one post for every year of his life, working from Year 1 to Year Thirtysomething.

I'm going to go blow my nose now.

Update 2/10/08: Joel Stein delves into his own Obamaphilia and urges all of us Obama supporters not to embarrass ourselves.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Day After

Bernini, Ecstasy of St. Theresa 1647-52.

I'm trying not to post about politics today.

Two items of interest I came across this week:

First item: researchers are testing out an experimental simulation that would use laser pulses at specific frequencies to shake viruses to death
Scientists may one day be able to destroy viruses in the same way that opera singers presumably shatter wine glasses. New research mathematically determined the frequencies at which simple viruses could be shaken to death.

"The capsid of a virus is something like the shell of a turtle," said physicist Otto Sankey of Arizona State University. "If the shell can be compromised [by mechanical vibrations], the virus can be inactivated."

Recent experimental evidence has shown that laser pulses tuned to the right frequency can kill certain viruses. However, locating these so-called resonant frequencies is a bit of trial and error.

The second item: marketers are working on a new system that, relying on the GPS trackers in everyone's cell phones, will allow merchants and marketers to call or send text messages to the phones of potential customers who are, say, approaching certain retail locations:
Say you're walking down the street and your cell phone buzzes. Not a call. It's an ad. Maybe a dollar off a latte. Lo and behold there's a coffee shop right there. It's like they knew where you were. Well they do. GPS tells cell phone companies your whereabouts. That's old hat, but CBS Mobile announced a way for advertisers to sell into the mobile market.

The last thing I'll offer today is a big shout out to the Great State of Connecticut.

Update: Also see the Tonic Blotter's latest for some good day-after analysis, along with some useful smacks to the NYT for their continued idiocy in their reporting and editorializing on this race.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

First Out of the Gate: Obama Wins Big In Georgia

Update 2/6/08: Clinton loans $5 million from her personal fortune to her campaign. I hope she's getting a good rate of interest. Why didn't she just donate to her campaign as she's asking everyone else to do?

I guess after her much touted "35 years of public service," since the age of 25, with, oh, just a 16-year stint at a corporate law firm, Clinton somehow still manages to have a good chunk of change on hand.

I'm not really sure the Clintons want everyone to start following the money.

I guess the question I have for Clinton supporters out there is this: do we really think restoring a multimillionaire former first lady and corporate law partner (and her former president spouse) to the White House to perpetuate a two-family reign over this country for a third of a century is, in any way, real change? Or is it just business as usual and more of the same?


Monday, February 04, 2008

Senators Obama and Clinton and Cluster Bombs

In the fall of 2006 Obama voted in the U.S. Senate for a ban on the use of cluster bombs in areas populated by civilians.

Clinton voted -- with the Republicans -- against the ban:
Cluster bombs and landmines are particularly terrifying weapons that wreak havoc on communities trying to recover from war. They are fatal impediments to reconstruction and rehabilitation of agricultural land; they destroy valuable livestock; they disable otherwise productive members of society; they maim or kill children trying to salvage them for scrap metal.

Over 150 nations have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. It pains me that our great nation has not. But in the autumn of 2006, there was a chance to take a step in the right direction: Senate Amendment No. 4882, an amendment to a Pentagon appropriations bill that would have banned the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas.

Senator Obama of Illinois voted IN FAVOR of the ban.

Senator Clinton of New York voted AGAINST the ban.

Analysts say Clinton did not want to risk appearing "soft on terror," as it would have harmed her electibility.

I'm not a single-issue voter. But as Obama and Clinton share many policy positions, this vote was revelatory for me. After all, Amendment No. 4882 was an easy one to vote against: Who'd want to risk accusation of "tying the hands of the Pentagon" during a never-ending, global War on Terror? As is so often the case, there was no political cost to doing the wrong thing. And there was no political reward for doing the right thing.

But Senator Obama did the right thing.
Huffington Post. And Senator Clinton didn't. Supporters or potential supporters of Senator Clinton, please consider this: Senator Clinton's triangulation on the Iraq War authorization, her vote in favor of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment designating the Iranian army a "terrorist organization", and her cluster-bomb ban vote all strongly suggest that Senator Clinton fears very much that she will be seen as weak on defence or national security. Do we really want someone in office who feels the need to demonstrate that she is not weak on defence? Am I alone in fearing the prospects of having someone in office who feels the need to prove how tough she is on the Global War on Terror?

How Hillary Clinton "Found Her Voice"

She paid for it:
After her big upset in New Hampshire last month, Hillary Rodham Clinton famously declared, "I found my own voice." What she also found was her own voice coach.

According to Clinton campaign's latest federal campaign disclosure report, the Democratic presidential candidate paid $7,500 to voice and drama coach extraordinaire Michael Sheehan in October.

Sheehan, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama who once was the associated producer of the Folger Theater Group, also helped shaped the voice and image of Bill Clinton, who Sheehan features prominently on his web site. If anyone could help Clinton soften her style, as the campaign sought to do in the weeks leading up to the New Hampshire primary, it would be Sheehan.

According to Campaign & Elections magazine, Sheehan is "a political candidate's best hope for developing the techniques to appear confident and in-control in front of a television camera or a live audience. While some pundits criticize candidates for using this type of service, people like Lloyd Bentsen, Ann Richards and even Bill Clinton have all benefited from his expertise."

Sen. Clinton also sought Sheehan's guidance for the publicity tour for her memoir, "Living History," in which she describes her upbringing as well as her "terrible, painful experience" in the White House.

Sheehan's clients include such media companies as the Washington Post and AOL, as well as big oil companies, HMOs, insurance companies and defense contractors.
[Washington Post - emphasis added] So that new-found emotion from Hillary Clinton? Her own voice, her honesty? All brought to you by the same people that groom big oil, big insurance, and big defense contractors.

Yes We Can

Obama Now Leading in National Polls

CNN's latest national poll, released today, shows Obama with a three-point lead over Clinton -- this new result shows that Clinton's former double-digit lead has evaporated in the last few days, as Obama has been surging across the country, in both blue states and red states.

If you are supporting Senator Obama, please do everything you can between now and tomorrow to get your friends and family out to support Obama as well. Please try to call or email or text five people and ask them to support Obama.

A tremendous, historic change, the likes of which this country has never seen before, is within our grasp. Let's get it done!

Update: As Michael Chabon tells us all in today's Washington Post, don't be afraid to hope.

Newsflash: Erica Jong likes Hillary, thinks Obama is a nice, attractive token

Meanwhile, if you feel like throwing up, take a gander at Erica Jong's self-absorbed and radically stupid and offensive, while conflicted and self-contradictory love-in to Hillary Clinton in the same paper today. Here's a taste:
As a senator she has learned compromise and negotiation. . . . She knows this country is full of "security" moms as well as soccer moms. Since she is a woman, she has to show she's ready to be commander in chief. Hence her "triangulation" on Iraq and her signing the absurd Lieberman-Kyl resolution, which calls on our government to use "military instruments" to "combat, contain and [stop]" Iran's meddling in Iraq.

By the time it came up she must have known the Cheney-Bush war profiteers would never embrace even partial peace. She had to win over her America and theirs.

Who ever got elected in the United States without moving to the center? Not Ralph Nader the narcissist, nor Ross Perot the spoiler, nor certainly Adlai Stevenson the "egghead," nor Ronnie Reagan the red-baiter from Hollywoodland. Dubya presented himself as a "compassionate conservative" and our dopey press bought it. They inflicted him on us because they thought Al Gore was a nerd. The right-wing media barons happily smeared the better man for no good reason. Noam Chomsky predicted all this 25 years ago, when he said that the concentration of the media would rob us of real news.

It certainly has. We can read all we want about Britney, Paris, Heath, Tom Cruise, the Spice Girls and all their buds -- dead or alive -- but we can't read about how many children have been maimed in Iraq, or their dead and legless or armless mothers and fathers who were shocked and awed. But we know it's happening. And we feel the great weight of our complicity.

You will point to Hillary's complicity. You will quote crazy-like-a-fox Ann Coulter, who claims to be voting for her.

You will also quote left-wing bloggers who love Barack Obama, and peaceniks (I am one) who see no evil in him (nor do I). But I see little experience either. Obama is smart and attractive. Maybe he'll be president someday.

He was lucky enough not to be in the Senate when the Iraq war resolution was floated after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell lied about WMDs. That was the true tragedy of race: a black man lying for a corrupt white administration that was using him as a token, much as they use Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice now.

Obama is also a token -- of our incomplete progress toward an interracial society. I have nothing against him except his inexperience. Many black voters agree. They understand tokenism and condescension.
I couldn't believe this shit as I was reading it. See, Erica Jong knows what black voters think, and she knows that they understand that Obama is just a token. What the fuck does the segue to Colin Powell have to do with Obama?? And does the piece even make any sense? Jong's piece is truly one of the most repulsive, stupid, disgusting, and vile things I have read in recent months. Clinton supporters, you can feel good that you have such a conflicted, condescending, smugly racist jackass like Erica Jong in your corner!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

¡Sí, Se Puede!

A crucial endorsement:
El martes los californianos votarán en la elección primaria y decidirán numerosas iniciativas electorales. Esta es nuestra recomendación:

Partido Demócrata: Barack Obama

El senador Barack Obama tiene las cualidades para cambiar el tono agrio que predomina en Washington e impide tomar las acciones que necesita nuestro país. Nadie duda de la capacidad y la experiencia de la senadora Hillary Clinton, pero es insuficiente ante la necesidad de renovación que necesita la nación. Obama tiene convicciones como mostró en el área de inmigración y la sensibilidad de un origen humilde y multicultural. Él es la mejor opción para un cambio visionario.
La Opinión

Friday, February 01, 2008


Yet another reason why my adopted hometown's newspaper is miles better than the once-great paper that gave front page leads to Judith Miller, is home to Thomas Friedman, hired Bill Kristol after his slime helped ooze us into war, and, most recently, endorsed Hillary Clinton:
With two candidates so closely aligned on the issues, we look to their abilities and potential as leaders, and their record of action in service of their stated ideals. Clinton is an accomplished public servant whose election would provide familiarity and, most important, competence in the White House, when for seven years it has been lacking. But experience has value only if it is accompanied by courage and leads to judgment.

Nowhere was that judgment more needed than in 2003, when Congress was called upon to accept or reject the disastrous Iraq invasion. Clinton faced a test and failed, joining the stampede as Congress voted to authorize war. At last week's debate and in previous such sessions, Clinton blamed Bush for abusing the authority she helped to give him, and she has made much of the fact that Obama was not yet in the Senate and didn't face the same test. But Obama was in public life, saw the danger of the invasion and the consequences of occupation, and he said so. He was right.


Obamamania, meet Hulkamania

The Hulkster is in Obama's corner, ready to jump in when Bill Clinton tries to distract the referee and whack Obama over the head with a folding chair.

Some interesting back-story on the Hulkster (real name Terry Bollea) -- he was trained by Hiro Matsuda (real name Yasuhiro Kojima), who has this "Karate Kid" story about the perseverance of the Hulk:
As a trainer, Matsuda was famous for being very stiff with his trainees to toughen them up and teach them to respect the business. His most famous story involved him being very tough on a young Hulk Hogan in his first day of training and breaking his leg. After Hogan healed, he came right back to Matsuda's school, looking to continue his training. Matsuda was so impressed by his display of "guts" that he trained him properly from that day on.

How's this for range? People supporting Obama: Sen. Patrick Leahy, Toni Morrison, Gov. Janet Napolitano, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Hulk Hogan.