Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Also, Christmas is coming up, so less incentive to do more...
Monday, November 17, 2008
Just my two cents on the issue: if the US government offers a bailout to Detroit, it should come with conditions on fuel-efficiency and environment. Some people will suggest this will harm their competitiveness… Well, how competitive can they be when they’re completely bust? Even without these conditions they’re not exactly booming, so it’s a terrible excuse.
Most loans come with conditions, these are not terrible ones.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Two states still to call, but it seems like he's going to have 364 electoral votes . All the states I predicted, plus Indiana and North Carolina (I'm assuming they're going to call North Carolina for him, even though he has a minute lead there).
It was a great night, sitting in the college bar as we watched CNN predict everything extremely early. But, I guess, they were mostly right. Good ol' Blitzer.
Now, I guess, we've just got to see how good he is at governing. Here's to hoping...
Monday, November 03, 2008
(Possibly 353-185 if North Carolina switches.)
Basically, everything Kerry won in 204, with the addition of Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Florida and maybe Iowa.
I also think it's going to be a very close popular vote result.
Tune in tomorrow, to see if I was right.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
It's bloody infuriating!
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Like I wrote, that McCain is attracting such supporters who feel it is ok to say these things in public, on the air, is very troublesome. I can't imagine that McCain is happy about it, but he didn't verbally repudiate it, either.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Obama kept stuttering, too, which was disappointing. Both candidates gave a good performance, I suppose. No quality one-liners or anything like that, and nothing particularly new, either. McCain relied a little too much on a small handful of statistics, though Obama wasn't too hot on specifics. Though his claim that 95% of Americans will NOT see a tax raise was pretty good - assuming they believe him.
No idea who "won", though. Guess we'll see on election day.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A vote for McCain will likely keep the war in Iraq going for some years to come. A vote for Obama, assuming he can keep his campaign promises, will likely see a draw down from Iraq and a surge in Afghanistan (the "right" war).
Either way, more young Americans will be shipped out to fight and die in a country many of them probably couldn't find on a map.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
What's most interesting is the coverage about Palin's daughter, Bristol's pregnancy. The Weekly Standard editorial this week discusses the pregnancy, and derides "the liberal media" for misinterpreting conservative viewpoints, for pointing out how accepting the right has been. William Kristol (who wrote the editorial), says the liberal media doesn't understand how conservatives can approve of the situation. Sure, Bristol Palin didn't have an abortion, but it's amazing how conservatives aren't picking up on the sex-outside-of-marriage aspect of the situation. Personally, I don't think it's any of our business (Obama's commendable position, but I'm going to talk about it anyway...), but as Leon Wieseltier writes in his New Republic column ("Against Integrity", TNR, September 24gh 2008), there is a good deal of hypocricy in the approval of the conservative factions of American politics: "I was unaware of the tender feelings of conservatives for sex outside of marriage."
"The fecundity of Bristol Palin is a windfall for Jesus, but the fecundity of black girls is doom of the republic," he writes, pointing to the conservative complaint about soaring teen-pregnancy being one of the reasons America is going to hell in a handbasket.
One of the main, stand-out issues involved here, though is about choice. Conservatives praise both Bristol's choice to have the baby, and also Sarah Palin's choice to carry her down-syndrome baby to term. Ok, but if Governor Palin were to get her way, it would be impossible for any pregnant woman - young, middle aged, old, victim of sexual violence - to actually have a choice. They would lose all ability to decide for themselves whether or not to carry their pregnancies to term. Social conservatives want to take away any element of choice. It still amazes me how they want to do this when the Palins actually highlight the success of pro-choice being the law: they prove that people can choose not to have abortions. Gary Younge talks about this in The Nation ("Sarah Palin's Shotgun Politics", p.10): "The fact is, Bristol can make the decision to keep the baby only because, in legal terms at least, she had a choice. A choice, as it happens, that her mother wants to criminalize... The woman who would like us to keep her daughter's pregnancy a private matter is running for office so that she can make the pregnancies of other people's daughters an affair of the state."
Imagine what would have happened if Bristol has (legally) decided to abort the baby...? Would her parents have stuck by her and supported her decision as strongly as they support the one she has made?
Of course, the GOP slashes all funding for anything the child might need after it's born, but I suppose it's more important that unwanted babies are born into unloving families than keeping wanted babies (and these unwanted babies) cared for and properly provided for in the form of child care, healthcare (congratulations, President George "I'm Pro-Life" Bush, on slashing SCHIP!) and so forth.
Anyway, that's all I'm going to say about abortion, now. It's not a good issue on which to choose a president/vice-president. Apparently, McCain's top two choices for the VP slot (Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge) were rejected by the GOP elders because they were actually pro-choice.
Then again, maybe it is a good indicator: Clinton was very good, he's pro-choice. George W. Bush is anti-choice, and he's been... well, not so good. Something to look into, I think.
So, let's all move on to what really matters - healthcare, energy, environment, defense, the deficit and retirement. These issues matter. Sadly, though, they're not very interesting and spittle won't really fly during any discussions about them. Watch as media coverage of the election continues to focus on issues that don't really matter.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
- "She brought down Alaska’s governor, attorney general, and state Republican chairman... She killed the 'bridge to nowhere.' She used increased tax revenues from high oil prices to give Alaskans a rebate. She slashed government spending. She took on the biggest industry in Alaska, the oil companies, to work out an equitable deal on building a new gas pipeline." (p.10)
Time will tell whether or not either Obama or Palin are decent picks for such high office. It is interesting that Obama (young, energetic, attractive) picked an old, crusty back-up, while McCain (old, crusty) picked a young, energetic and attractive back-up...
Stop tacking to the right! Come back to us in the centre, and all will be forgiven!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Is it just me, or is the art (left) open to massive interpretation? There's something that pops into mind, when you see Senator Obama - accused of being inexperienced and unworthy of being president, not one of Washington's players, ready to change the whole environment in the capital, and behind him, an old white dude, who's been in Washington since time began... To be honest, though, I like Senator Biden - he'll be good for Obama's administration, as long as he's not treated like someone who just needs to have a pulse. Anyway, I like him, so now Obama's looking like an even better choice: superb Foreign Policy team, good VP choice, suggestions that he's actually going to be a sensible president (not the raging, scary liberal frequently in the pages of The Weekly Standard).
As for McCain's choice? Well, I'm not so sure it was as inspired. I know there's been an MASSIVE reaction in the blogosphere - my RSS feeds are going crazy, being updated every couple of minutes with another revalation about Sarah Palin (usually not a good one) and how she is a really strange choice for McCain (The New Republic, especially has had a lot to say). If you're picking opposites, then McCain's done a good one: younger woman. Her support for Pat Buchanan makes me want to run for the hills, but we'll see. Not one to usually like the slur of "not enough experience" as a reason to dismiss a candidate, I think in the case of Palin, we just might have the dictionary definition of "inexperienced". She served as a mayor for 9,000 people... Oh yeah, she's also the Governor of Alaska (which is probably pretty good practice for something). Even if it is an attempt to steal the women's vote from Obama (unlikely, given Palin's pro-life, repeal-Roe-v.-Wade urges), I think this was a batty choice from McCain. Way to steal the media's attention, though (Michael Crowley points out that McCain's pick is receiving almost wall-to-wall attention on newspaper frontpages and so on). Feeding the beast...
At least one way or another, though, this election will definitely have a whole new something: either 1st Black President, or 1st Female Vice President.
In slightly related news, as the Economist says on this week's cover, "Bring back the real McCain"! He's being a little dotty at the moment. (More on this after I've read the rest of the article...)
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I'm trying to get everything rearranged, so this will be the homepage for all my other blogs, with a ribbon of links at the top (if anyone knows how to do this...). I will rearrange some of the posts, too, into their new places. The categories that will be featured:
- Politics & Current Affairs - this will remain on the frontpage, as it is now.
- MWRI - the music review site I've been running for years.
- Civilian-Reader - my book review site
- Gubbins & Gizmos - a technology blog, where you'll (eventually) find posts about technology, like the one below about the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader.
- General - this is where I'll put all my posts about life, coffee, travel and so forth. Lighter in tone, shorter posts. I suppose this would be the closest I get to having a "Twitter" site.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
- Scott McClellan, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House & Washington's Culture of Deception" ($27.95)
- James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge, "The Dangerous Days of Daniel X" ($19.99)
- Fareed Zakaria, "The Post-American World" ($25.95)
- Brad Thor, "The Last Patriot" ($26.00)
- David Sedaris, "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" ($25.99)
- Stephanie Meyer, "Breaking Dawn" ($22.99)
- Coffee cups/mugs are considerably smaller in London than they are in the same franchise in Durham and Cambridge. I was in a Cafe Nero's a month or so ago in London, and the cup was noticeably about 1/3 smaller than usual! No comparative reduction in price, I might point out...
- Starbucks have improved their coffee a great deal - it used to be way to strong and be far too bitter. Now they appear to have discovered a better strain/species of bean. Highly recommended.
- Don't go for Starbucks' coffee-of-the-day unless you're there really early in the morning. If you get it by the end of the day, it's stewed to the consistency and (I imagine) the flavour of warm tar - this is true for, at least, the branches in Cambridge and New York.
I'll write about coffeeshops again tomorrow. I spend enough time in them, after all. Maybe I should write my thesis about coffee and not US Foreign Policy...
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
It makes it really tempting to just have this as my chapter:
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
So writes Lily Huang in the latest issue of Newsweek (p.10 for European readers). The UK sends six billion text messages every month, apparently (of which I send a hefty proportion, I must say). While it is true that most people use "textese" contractions, I've managed to avoid it at all costs. The shortest text I'm willing to send is "ok", but I often think that's a waste of the 160~ characters you're allowed per text. So, I usually expand on the message, in full prose.
My response is to Huang's question, though is: It will, but it deserves only half the blame. The rest of the blame rests on the way children are taught in schools. Certainly, this is true for UK schools, but I can't speak for any other countries. One of my former flatmates was doing a PGCE at Durham, and he was doing his marking in the kitchen one day.
I flicked through the stuff he'd marked, and noticed that he hadn't picked up on the rampant misspellings throughout every child's exercise book. When I asked him why he didn't correct their spelling, he said that he was told not to, because it "diminishes the child's momentum", and as a teacher, he's not allowed to tell a student that they've done something wrong.
Funny, I thought that's EXACTLY what a teacher was supposed to do. You know, teach the child how to spell!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
- "Well, look, when I was doing ethics reform legislation, for example, that wasn't popular with Democrats or Republicans. So any time that you actually try to get something done in Washington, it entails some political risks. But I think the basic principle which you pointed out is that I have consistently said, when it comes to solving problems, like nuclear proliferation or reducing the influence of lobbyists in Washington, that I don't approach this from a partisan or ideological perspective."
Gerson goes on to write about how this isn't a very good response in terms of content ("weak tea" are his exact words), but what strikes me most is the garbled nature of his reply. I have no idea what he's really saying. I think he's saying that he's reached across the aisle repeatedly, and that each time it was a political risk. If that's accurate, why didn't he just say that? (Ok, Gerson makes the argument that it's because it's just not true, an argument I think is pretty accurate.)
Another worthy sentence in the article - this time for its quality, rather than Bush-type garbling - is how Gerson says McCain isn't a moderate, but "a conservative with a habit of massive, eye-stretching heresy".
Anyway, this wasn't meant to turn into another Obama vs. McCain comparison. I just thought Obama's weird answering style was worth mentioning. That said, I think Gerson's questions about Obama's liberalism do warrant answering, too:
- "[H]is lack of a strong, centrist ideological identity raises a concern about his governing approach. Obama has no moderate policy agenda that might tame or modify the extremes of his own party in power. Will every Cabinet department simply be handed over to the most extreme Democratic interest groups? Will Obama provide any centrist check on liberal congressional overreach?"
These are questions I asked in my participation in a recent panel about foreign policy after 2008 (and previously on this blog). A Democratic House and Senate will no doubt be able to pass a lot of legislation that I approve of (e.g. I'm hoping they'll get their butts into gear to move towards an end to the whole abortion question - "Pro-Choice" should be the law, people can still choose not to have an abortion, as is the case in reality). I worry about his trade protectionism and the spectre of massive spending increases that the US can't sustain, but ultimately a Democratic law-making system is far less scary than the nutty wing of the Republicans getting ("keeping"?) their hands on the levers of power.
Another thing: what's interesting about the GOP primaries is that of the three front-runners at the beginning, none of them were the new, favoured brand of "conservative": McCain, Romney and Guiliani were all moderates before they started running for president. (Romney could be accused of being a liberal, and Guiliani just slightly eccentric.)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
- Obama - 2.5
- McCain - 1.5 (they share latest issue)
- Obama - 2 (two where he shares with Clinton)
- McCain - 1
- Obama - 5
- McCain - 2 (both 2007)
- Obama - 5.5 (one shared with Clinton)
- McCain - 3
- Obama - 1.5 (one shared with Clinton again)
- McCain - 1
Newsweek (US Edition)
- Obama - 6
- McCain - 2
Time (US Edition)
- Obama - 6
- McCain - 4
But, why are they now releasing (one and a half months later) the 901 model, with MUCH better processor, longer battery life and lower price?!
This is not treating customers well, or fairly. Not impressed at all.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
- Clinton: 67%
- Obama: 26%
- Edwards: 7% (I love that there are people still voting for him, considering he dropped out months ago - true, it's probably mail-ins, but it's still admirably hopeful)
So, the Democrats will continue to beat the living crap out of each other for another few weeks yet. With 2,025 delegates needed to claim victory, Obama (1,875) will need to win 139 of the remaining 189 delegates (from Oregon, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota's primaries) - Hillary (1,697) only needs to win 27% of the remaining delegates to keep Obama from reaching this total. If my (admittedly poor) maths is correct, this should be easy considering she has already won on average of 41% in each state (she has 45%~ of total delegates to Obama's 50%~).*
I'm sure a lot of this maths is completely wrong, but it was momentarily fun to pretend I was a pundit and try to work it all out.
*Some states she's won massively, and the same can be said for Obama, but I think they balance each other out, to make this average not too absurd or arbitrary.
Monday, May 12, 2008
- why I think people are selling Obama short by "blaming" racism on his success
- why the increased media focus on "race" is likely highly insulting to the vast majority of Americans
- why I'm reconsidering Obama (again)
- why I think McCain as president won't be as scary as many are making out
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
It’s posted somewhere on Obama’s website, if you want to find it, and can also be found here (where I spotted it).
Below are the particularly noteworthy exerpts, that need addressing:
- “Christian, husband and father” – Hillary is a Christian, wife, and mother. How is this any different? Unless you’re sexist.
- “Universal healthcare, employment and education” as primary issues – well, as has been made clear by almost every media outlet in the world covering the primaries, Obama and Clinton are essentially in the same place for all these issues (and more).
- “know the level of unemployment in their community or the number of people losing their homes” – well, I’d say that Hillary has proven that she has an amazing capacity for policy and for data, so I’d say she would probably be more likely to know not only her own community/district’s unemployment rates, but also those from obscure communities around the whole country.
And one other thing – Barack is a “real man”? Surely Hillary is a “real woman”? I’m not coming down on either side here, but seriously, this endorsement is the emptiest load of fluff I’ve ever read. If anyone is swayed by this, they deserve to be disappointed.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
A good movie, sadly let down by a small budget? Considering the movie was directed by Doug Liman, this is unlikely - he directed Mr & Mrs Smith and The Bourne Identity. Also, considering it stars the young Darth Vader (the marginally-improved Hayden Christensen), this should have been given a relatively generous budget. The special effects were cool, and very well done.