28 November 2008

The only way I can explain it.

What I say.  What they hear.

"Oh, an orange.  No thanks, we just had lunch, I'm pretty full."
"Oh, I love oranges.  Yes, I would like it."

"No, really.  Thanks anyway, but I am not hungry."
"I insist you give me that orange.  I am very hungry."

"Well, okay, thank you.  I'll eat it later."
"I want to eat it right now in front of you.  Please beg me to do so."

"Uh, yeah, all right.  I'll eat some of it now, then."
"I was almost dead from hunger, but you have saved me.  I demand another orange."

"Oh, wow.  No, come on!"
"Thank you for caring for this lost American who desperately needs oranges."

24 November 2008

Anthropic

Dinesh D'Souza, partisan pundit, has written a recent column at townhall.com that got me sufficiently irritated as to demand a response. Called "When Science Points to God," it is a case study of fallacious theist reasoning.
Contemporary atheism marches behind the banner of science. It is perhaps no surprise that several leading atheists—from biologist Richard Dawkins to cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker to physicist Victor Stenger—are also leading scientists. The central argument of these scientific atheists is that modern science has refuted traditional religious conceptions of a divine creator.

But of late atheism seems to be losing its scientific confidence. One sign of this is the public advertisements that are appearing in billboards from London to Washington DC. Dawkins helped pay for a London campaign to put signs on city buses saying, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Starting off with his narrative, D'Souza appears to be pushing the notion that the increasing visibility of atheism means that it is somehow losing traction. Following this, he attacks some recent atheism advertising campaigns by smugly noting that their slogans do not mention scientific evidence against the existence of God or anything similar. The notion that a slogan should be catchy rather than a solid rational argument appears to escape D'Souza. It's odd for a Republican to miss the point of bumper stickers - five-word phrases on bumper stickers are the basis for so many of their policies, after all. Haha, snark!

As an aside, one can be a perfectly reasonable scientist and still be a theist; the two are not mutually exclusive, for all Richard Dawkins' priggish insistence otherwise. And this is not to subscribe to Gould's non-overlapping magisteria theory, but rather a simple admission that religion is based in faith, a non-rational foundation and accordingly not one that can be addressed with reason.
If you want to know why atheists seem to have given up the scientific card, the current issue of Discover magazine provides part of the answer. The magazine has an interesting story by Tim Folger which is titled “Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator.” The article begins by noting “an extraordinary fact about the universe: its basic properties are uncannily suited for life.” As physicist Andrei Linde puts it, “We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible.”
My goodness! That old chestnut, the anthropic principle... from Discover?

Checking out the article he referenced reveals that D'Souza wasn't fibbing. Alas for Discover, it does not go much into the philosophy of the matter. I suppose it's not really their purview (nor should this particular bit of sensationalism be, ideally).

It's true that if any one of a billion little universal laws were changed, the universe would be incredibly hostile to life as we know it. This notion of "fine-tuning" is very old, and some people still argue that it implies that the universe must therefore have been made for us. This is not so much a real argument as it is a devastating lack of imagination.

Consider the icicle on a hanging roof. If the density of water were slightly different, or the temperature not exact, or many other things were any different, the icicle would not exist. It would be melted and gone. But was the universe created for that icicle? Of course not. For the icicle to feel that the universe had been crafted just to meet its needs would be absurd: the icicle came to be, but it could just as easily not have come to be. And if it had not, then it could not wonder about the matter in the first place.

In the same way, it's a farce to claim that our fit into our niche is so perfect that it means the niche must have been made for us, when the much simpler and more obvious solution is that we fit the niche, not the other way around! If anything had been different, then we couldn't be asking the question at all. Instead, some other form of life would be asking it - or no life at all. Just because a coin lands on heads doesn't mean that it only has one side.
No wonder atheists are sporting billboards asking us to “imagine…no religion.” When science, far from disproving God, seems to be pointing with ever-greater precision toward transcendence, imagination and wishful thinking seem all that is left for the atheists to count on.
Yeah... it's atheists with the "wishful thinking" in this article. Sure.

23 November 2008

"And death shall have no dominion", Dylan Thomas

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Blitzed

It has been a weekend filled with serendipity.

Friday was the 2008 English Teacher's Meeting, a conference for all of the native speaker teachers in Jeolla-nam (my province here). It was held in the capital, Gwangju, which is about a two-hour distance from Yeosu. It fulfills the "orientation" bit of my contract, amusingly enough: after almost fully half of my teaching is finished (the term ends soon), I am finally getting oriented in what I am supposed to be doing.

Originally, there was supposed to be a bus of some kind to take the Yeosu elementary teachers to the conference that morning, but as it turns out the person in charge forgot to requisition the bus or some other such nonsense. So I had to haul myself up at six that morning and schlep my butt to the express bus station, to catch one of the ones to Gwangju. They're very cheap (10,000 won or about $6.00), but it was an enormous hassle. My feet already hurt, since I experimented with walking to my Thursday school this past week (the first and only time I will attempt such.)

The conference itself was not too bad; it lasted until shortly after noon, with three lectures and a distributed little bag of Korean "pizza-toast." I actually received some pretty useful information that reminded me that I had absolutely no formal training; these education majors blew me away in their use of applied theory. It made me reflect that teaching here wasn't the same for me as it is for a lot of people: it's something I'm doing, not what I do. Next year at this time, I'll have moved on.

After the conference, I was just going to catch the bus back home. There's not really a whole lot I wanted to see in the city, and I just wasn't feeling it at the moment. But instead, I met up with a fellow teacher named Mark with whom I was acquainted, and he offered me a lift home in his car later that day. I was pleased to accept, kicking in a bit for gas. Mark is a big guy with three years residence in Yeosu and an amiable temperament.

Mark had two other people also carpooling, one of whom I had recently met, Robyn, and another who was new to me, Fazil. All three of them are extremely pleasant and happen to be gamers/roleplayers, and so as we wandered around town going to markets, we had a very good time. In the evening, we had sushi for dinner, and then went on home. I was pretty tired, so I puttered around playing a new game, Dead Space.

To digress for a moment, Dead Space is one of the best games I've played in years. It's your basic horror survival game, set on an abandoned industrial spaceship. One of the most immediate things that jumps out is the combat system: almost all enemies must be dismembered in order to kill them, a feat achieved with saws, laser cutters, and the like. It necessitates a lot of blood, of course.

What really makes the game stand out, though, is the immersion of it all. The graphics, sounds, and the interface make it very easy to get sucked into the tension of it all without becoming tedious. Unlike Silent Hill, which was also frightening but tended to grind on interminably in my experience, Dead Space keeps a much better progression of rising tension and conflict.  This is aided by the sci-fi setting, which allows the game to justify shortcut mechanisms to eliminate tedium.

On Saturday, I was supposed to take Lizzie to go see one of the big Yeosu attractions, Odongdo.  She's only been in town a month, and had never seen this staple of the city: an island park, Odongdo has a lighthouse and a "dancing water show" of a music-and-light-accompanied fountain display.  The idea of the trip was relatively simple: I meet her at her place, and then we take the bus to Odongdo.  Ah, the hubris of planning.

Lizzie and I actually ended up at the end of the wrong bus line at a famous local temple called Heunguksa instead.  Fortunately, the place turned out to be damned beautiful, with immense golden Buddhas and elaborate carvings preserved from the ages for our view.  And even more fortunately, when we left a few hours later, the same wrong bus took us straight to Odongdo.  And yet more fortunately, we were just in time for one of the water shows.  Blasts of water, lit in a dozen shifting colors, lifted and fell to strains of Tchaikovsky.  After dinner, we went back to her place and watched Labyrinth.  Bowie becomes more awesome with every viewing.

So, pleasantly wearied, I settle down tonight to work on some lesson plans for the upcoming week, and consider the beneficience of some surprises in life.

Oh, and Lizzie found four buttons while I was with her on Saturday.  Damndest thing.

20 November 2008

Beach volleyball

I could really see myself becoming a dedicated fan.



19 November 2008

Danticat's "Ghosts"

Edwidge Danticat has written a short story for the New Yorker that is rather like one of her books in miniature: her focus - the regime changes and subsequent chaos in Haiti - is related through the usual peripheral figures. Like much of her short work, it uses this technique to examine a single concept: in this case, uncertainty. Notice how the pigeons within the story come to represent security in one's place as their presented form varies. Check it out, and if you like it then grab The Farming of Bones (or the more accessible Krik? Krak! if you don't want to work too hard.)

Pascal’s parents had moved to Bel Air at a time when the neighborhood was inhabited mostly by peasants, living there temporarily so that their children could finish primary school. But as the trees in the provinces vanished into charcoal and the mountains gave way, washing the country’s topsoil into the sea, they, like the others, stayed and raised their two sons and at least a thousand pigeons, which, over the years, they sold both alive and dead.
If you're interested in Danticat herself, she wrote a short bio sketch for the same publication.

Adam Smith needs him a bayonet

Somewhere in the Congo, there's a libertarian wondering why the free market hasn't sorted everything out by now.

Buttons

I had drinks with a girl last night. I'm not sure if it was a date or not - to be honest, my whole instincts with that sort of thing kind of went to rust some time ago. But I figured it was time I dust myself off from rejection and quit torturing myself imagining things on another continent, and move on at least a little.  It sure as hell helps that Lizzie is pretty damn amazing.  There was one particularly notable thing:

Lizzie's an atheist and empiricist, she says. But she also says she keeps finding buttons, and it's making her question the world.

She doesn't know why it happens, but all the time she finds lost buttons. She used to live in Prague, and over the course of a year and a half she found hundreds of buttons. Lizzie's been here a month, and she's already found twenty-one. No explanation.

I'll be damned if I can explain it, either. Assuredly confirmation bias doesn't cover it because of sheer volume. All I can figure is that she tends to consistently look for them throughout the day because of her past history, and maybe she has unusually sharp eyes. It bears more consideration, but... very weird, and not something I can explain yet.

18 November 2008

SecState

So Clinton will be Secretary of State. Considering how she was so fiery and hawkish during the debates and campaign, this may continue his good-cop-bad-cop strategy that he has used so effectively. Of course, she still agrees with him on most of the issues - which was actually why she had to be so hawkish, to set herself apart from him. People make a lot of fuss about Bill Clinton, especially the right, but I think that he will only have a slightly higher soapbox than other peripheral figures in the administration. If anything, he will be an asset; another gun to deploy when clout is needed, but one that will be sure of his place.

Overall, I am somewhat dubious but tending towards liking this move. And it certainly will put Hillary solidly in the administration's corner - she will have every reason to use all the Clinton resources to make sure the Obama terms succeed.

16 November 2008

Everything must GO!

That's right, folks, everything must go, go, GO! We've got pristine national landmarks - yes that one right there on Utah's stamps - and they are going to FLY off the shelves! We've got untouched land next to national parks, acres and acres of them, clean and ready for the thrust of your drilling platform! We've got redrock acres, large plateaus, forested areas... and they all MUST GO! We're changing locations here at Crazy Uncle Dubya's House of National Resources and everything has to be sold!

15 November 2008

Joe the Capitalist

First I was just a guy who called myself Joe, and who worked as a plumber without a license. But now... holy shit! My little conversation with Obama made national news... and now McCain has mentioned me three times in that debate! People are calling me up for interviews and banging on my door, and Palin is talking about me in her stump speeches! This is awesome!

Quick, I better write a book. No one will think my co-author actually wrote the whole thing, even though it's going to already hit the presses by the first of December. Totally realistic. Plus, what if people forget about me?

And quick, let me launch a subscription website. People will pay to read "Joe the Blog" and access "Joe the Forum," certainly!

Get a scrap of celebrity and fight to milk it for every ounce it's worth: truly the American dream.

Softer

I'm pretty much addicted to A Softer World now. Check it out.

13 November 2008

Lemon Tree

Everyone at Ssangbong is obsessed with this video. Not just the song, but specifically this video. They watch it all the time between classes, so it's always playing at the beginning and end of class. It's stuck in my head and I hear it all the time and I'm starting to really like it and why won't it stop stop stopstopstopstopstpstpstppss~!/sdhgahrdig..............................................................................

12 November 2008

And the hits keeping coming...

Obama has just laid out the ethics rules for his transition team, a pretty important step.  He's made the whole transition a pretty big deal, trying to avoid the nasty missteps of Clinton (who notoriously waited until a few days before inauguration to fill some important posts). Obama's ethics rules are the most strict there have ever been - and that's nothing like hyperbole.
Obama Ethics Rules
* Federal lobbyists cannot contribute financially to the transition.
* Federal lobbyists are prohibited from any lobbying during their work with the transition.
* If someone has lobbied in the last 12 months, they are prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied.
* If someone becomes a lobbyist after working on the Transition, they are prohibited from lobbying the Administration for 12 months on matters on which they worked.
* A gift ban that is aggressive in reducing the influence of special interests.
I'm still cynical, but I'll be damned if he isn't hitting the ground running.

11 November 2008

Oblie

Keith Olbermann's usually full of crap (he recently said his job as a journalist was to "help the administration") but he really hits one out of the park with this comment on California's Prop. 8, the ballot measure that made gay marriage illegal again in California.  He says, in part:
[U]ncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing -- centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children... All because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.
I'm sure few readers of this page will be surprised or disagree with such sentiments, so I won't preach to the choir.  The solution remains, as I have always maintained: eliminate marriage from government altogether.  It's a religious ceremony and doesn't belong being granted by the government at all.  Instead, everyone should just receive civil unions, and let whatever church pleases perform its own ceremonies of marriage.

Faith

I'm not much for "faith" when used as a substitute for reason.  When I use the word, I mean it more in the sense of "trust."  But it's a poetic word.  And sometimes, apt, as in the case of Obama.

I was expecting major disappointments from Obama, simply because he promised so much.  Virtually every President who has promised the things that Obama has promised has failed to deliver on much of them.  There have been few exceptions, and we can't expect a Lincoln every term.

So it was with pleasant surprise and a surge of emotion that I read that Obama was planning to close Gitmo as soon as possible and bring the detainees out from the extra-legal and insane position to which they had been condemned.  And it was with pragmatic wonder (if such a thing can be) that I read about how he has called for Lieberman not to be cast out of the Democrats, even though Lieberman just spent the entire campaign casting aspersions on the now-President-elect and working hard to get his rival in office.  Lieberman's garbage, but he's just been doing his job the best he can and in the way he thinks it should be done, and ultimately I am hard-pressed to give in to the vengeful feelings so many Democrats have been encouraging in their leaders.  To be honest, I don't really care very much about punishing him if keeping him around will help get more done.

I may have to get ready to have my expectations met by Obama.

10 November 2008

09 November 2008

Dear Mr. Bok:

You recently published a cartoon wherein a young black man announces to his parents that he has decided that aspiring to the NBA is unrealistic. His parents appear happy, but then their faces fall when he informs them that he is instead aspiring to be President. Presumably they are unhappy he is still being unrealistic.

My question to you is fairly simple: do you really think it would be a bad thing for the young people of America to aspire to be Presidents of the United States? Obviously they won't all succeed, but in what sense are scholastic excellence, military service, community leadership, and the other traits for which we search in our Presidents ever going to be a bad thing for our youth?

I suspect you haven't really thought this through.

Sincerely,
Alexander of Tampa, Florida

I'm only putting one of these up, and this is it.


08 November 2008

Summary of "Who's Nailin' Paylin?" from Hustler Video

Subtitled: "Adventures of a Hockey MILF."  I am not kidding in any part of what follows.

As the movie, set in Alaska begins, we see the protagonist, Governor Serra Paylin, standing proudly in a pantsuit that is more risque than most.  One foot is planted on the head of a dead polar bear.

The doorbell rings.  She answers it, discovering two Russian soldiers in Soviet-era uniforms.  They are cold, complaining that their ride broke down.  The governor peers outside to see an ancient tank cracked up and broken, having run aground on what appears to be a very leaky natural gas pipeline.

Paylin is only too happy to allow them to use her phone to call the Kremlin, in what she calls the "spirit of foreign relations."  She even offers them a drink, which they politely decline, explaining that they are "already very drunk."  In return, they offer her a pick-up line.  It's the standard "rearrange the alphabet" line, which I have to confess shows a poorly-edited script, since Russian uses Cyrillic.

A few more jokes follow, until the Russians hit on the perfect line.
"Knock-knock."
"Who's there?"
"Sherwood."
"Sherwood who?"
"Sherwood like you to come over here and suck our c----."
"You betcha!"
Sex follows, to my complete lack of surprise.

Afterwards, they fade out, then back in to reveal a newspaper headline:  "PAYLIN ENDORSES RUSSIAN PENETRATION."  I am sure there is some sort of joke there.  I just can't figure it out.

From there, the movie moves straight to an oddly familiar-looking news set called "The Orally Factor," where the host decries the liberal media for being "hypocritical" and wanting to have it both ways.
"First they criticize Governor Paylin for not having enough foreign policy experience.  And then they slam her because she's trying to show those godless vodka-swilling neighbors a little down-home hospitality.  They make it sound like full lips, great t---, piercing brown eyes, and an ass that won't quit are a bad thing.  Well, excuse me, but if they're a bad thing, then cut off my d--- and express-mail it to the nearest gay parade."
Hard-hitting political commentary, indeed.

Paylin isn't taking these attacks lying down, though. In the next scene, she is sitting with an aide, "learning new words to express [her]self."
"Repeat after me: absolutely."
"You betcha!"
"No, listen carefully: ab-so-lute-ly."
"You betcha!"
Bless her soul, though, Paylin doesn't stop trying. She listens patiently to the aide tell her about a guy named "Lincoln," and has the keen insight to point out that "Alaska doesn't have slavery." Eventually, though, she tires and heads home to her husband, who she is sure is waiting for her.

Immediately after Paylin leaves, her husband emerges from behind a screen in the room. He has sex with the aide after they spend some time discussing how stupid his wife is, and after the aide promises that no matter what happens in the future administration, she'll stay "extremely flexible, even if she has to resort to backdoor politics." Bob Paylin promises to "make a large contribution to her fund." They have sex.

Back in her hotel room, Paylin is lying in bed. She's naked in bed except for a tiara and a sash reading "Ms. Alaska," fantasizing about the past. We see a long dream sequence in which she is buying a snow-mobile from her future husband (who looks like a completely different person at this time, oddly enough). The salesman is reluctant until she strips and tells him to "Drill, baby, drill!"

"Come on, you tree-hugging hippie," she says. "What are you waiting for? Congressional approval?"

Her dreams continue, back to when she was in college at the "University of I-da-ho." She's in a lecture hall with a history professor. The board displays a surprisingly accurate summation of the Jurassic period, which is in sharp contrast with the professor's dialog with the young Paylin. When he asks how old the Earth is, the other students foolishly guess "Four millions years." Only Paylin is intelligent enough to proclaim proudly, "Ten thousand years." She even answers in the form of a question.

Paylin is right in tune with the professor, in fact. When he moves on to discussing dinosaurs, she is the only one clever enough to reply correctly that "they never existed, and the fossils were placed here on Earth by Satan to trick mankind." Absolutely correct, and the end of the lesson.

Serra gets her reward, in which she is taught a "ritual to protect against witchcraft." I'll give you a hint: it involves "speaking in tongues" to Paylin's poonani.

Back in the modern day, though, she is giving a rousing speech.  She promises to create jobs to boost the economy, by boosting the economy (which, as she explains, will create jobs).  She gives the speech very well, considering how under the podium a blonde woman named Hillary is ministrating to her.

"I'm so tired of bi-partisanship," says Hillary.  "Why can't we just be bi?"

They go backstage.  But as they begin to get knocking on the couch behind the curtain, a curvaceous black woman bursts in on them.

"Condi!" stammers Paylin.  "I didn't even see you there."

"Shit, there goes 2012," groans Hillary.

But all is not lost.  Condi wants to make a trade.

"As soon as Bush is out of office, there's going to be a video of someone who looks a lot like me doing some things to some guys who look a lot like Cheney, Rove, Wolfowitz, and Chuck Norris.  So I would appreciate if you would tell the press to look the other way."

They seal the deal with some fun, and agree at the end to leave by separate doors.  Hillary insists on leaving first.

The end.  God bless America.

07 November 2008

Stepping Up

So what lesson can really be taken from the Obama campaign?  Really, it can be summed up in five words:

You have to step up.

At every junction there were troubles.  Obama was lucky to even be in the race: black, relatively inexperienced, with a Muslim father and name, a product of Chicago politics... all of these things were serious impediments, and some of them justly so.  And yet he's now going to be the President of the United States, after a series of events and a campaign so far-fetched that it would have been laughed out of a scriptwriter's office.

It's equal parts inspirational and terrifying.  He rose from obscurity in the blink of an eye on the basis of equal parts sheer political talent and incredible luck.  Obama seized his Senate seat through a remarkable confluence of events.  First there was the (justified) disqualification of all other Democrats in the primary.  Then his Republican opponent had to drop out because of incredibly dirty secrets coming out of his divorce papers.  And then his new opponent was Alan Keyes, the straw-man of the Republicans practically built to be hated.  These events were all lucky, but it was Obama's immense skill and leadership ability that allowed him to capitalize on them with astonishing dividends.

From there, Obama climbed the direct ladder to power, impressing just a few of the right people with his consistent political ability and public speaking skills.  That got him on stage at the DNC in 2004.  And after that, everyone was offering a helping hand to get him on the campaign trail.

Still, everything was arrayed against him.  So much of what made Obama an amazing candidate also made him seem an impossible one.  A seemingly genuine man, he disliked the press, treating them coldly and keeping them at bay.  He didn't think or speak in sound bytes, making his views complex but almost impossible to disseminate in the infamous and necessary ten-word-statement.  He was rather left of center, and elections are always won straight down the middle (because that's where the people are).  And he had many "flaws" when it came to identity politics (black, identified as a Muslim, etc.)  In short, he had all the makings of an amazing leader but an abysmal campaigner.

So how did he do it?  He knew that he had to step up.

When the Rezko scandal broke earlier in his career, Obama took some nasty hits in the Chicago press.  He had been associated and had a deal with a criminal money-man, and while it was all on the up-and-up, it was the kind of stink that never left some men.  What did Obama do?  He called a meeting with the Chicago press, sat down with them, and told them he would answer every question they could think of about Rezko and the deal.

And he did.  As the Tribune recounts, he sat there and hit every pitch that came sailing in.  He walked out of the room with the issue defeated: he'd taken every hard question and answered them consistently.  A lot of it comes back to his skill and luck: he'd been savvy enough not to actually do anything dirty, and lucky enough that there wasn't much linking him to Rezko.  But the gap between what was provided by fortune and what he needed to move beyond: that was grade-A, high-test grit.

Another example might be the Reverend Wright scandal.  It was the worse kind of calamity: Obama was a black candidate, and here he was linked to everything the middle-class white people feared about such a candidate.  He risked becoming the other, something he could not afford to be.

Obama stepped up.  Rather than trying to spin it or change the subject, he spent three days writing a speech, and then he went to Philadelphia and spoke entirely about race.  That speech, A More Perfect Union, was one of his best.  It knocked the ball out of the park, by completely changing the dialogue away from what people feared about "blackness" into what people loved about America.

We're going to see how Obama does.  I think he'll be a pretty good President.  But we can certainly take away the lesson of his campaign: luck and ability aren't enough.  You have to be ready to step up.

05 November 2008

Yes, we can.

President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama in Chicago:
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

04 November 2008

Welp

I sent in my absentee ballot a couple of weeks ago, a process way more annoying than I would have thought.  I voted for that Hussein Obama guy, even though he's a Muslim who pals around with terrorists.  It doesn't really matter to me that he's not an American citizen and that he supports killing babies, because the most important thing to me is that he implements his socialism and gives in to all of Iran's demands.  I'm informed enough to know my priorities.

01 November 2008

Prop 8 in CA

If Proposition 8 doesn't pass in California, then schools will have to teach their students that gay marriage may result in children, defying all we know of anatomy! Our good and hard-working teachers will be forced by the city liberals to try to make kids understand homosexuality! If Proposition 8 doesn't pass, then the gays will abuse their children and tell them that marriage as an institution is meaningless!

They're just trying to intimidate people who are devout and religious!

Even the children are spontaneously singing songs to support Proposition 8! (This is the best one.)

Of course, supporters of Proposition 8 aren't saying that gays can't love each other, nor are they saying that gay unions are any less meaningful than straight unions. They just want a special privileged and government-sanctioned label for straight unions that singles them out for employer benefits and for tax purposes. What is so hard to understand about that, people?!

DRUDGE

The Drudge Report is one of the most-updated and wide-reaching news pages, but I am going to have to stop reading it. Matt Drudge's bias has been long-obvious; he posts any conceivable new "evidence against global warming" story that pops up on BreitBart, he ignores huge swaths of news that he dislikes (like almost anything about Gitmo), and various other libertarian-conservative trends. But of late he has gotten so bad that it's just become unconscionable; he can't be trusted anymore if he is going to try to personally change the news to make it what he wants.


I wish I'd gotten a capture of it, but yesterday one of the infamous Drudge "Flashes" came up as the headline, asserting from an unnamed source that the Obama campaign ejected three news organizations from his plane for the last week in retaliation for them endorsing McCain. Half a day later, this story is gone. All trace of it has vanished. There is no admission by the site that the story was actually false, as we must now assume.

It's a shame; the site is a great resource. But I will set up Google News instead to suit my needs. I damn sure don't need Matt Drudge trying to decide what news he wants me to see. Here's Nate Silver on why the current headline (screencapped above) is such absurd cherry-picking.