Friday, August 29, 2008

History is Made

My daughters and I watched a historic moment last night. Here is a video of Obama's speech.

This was not the speech I expected, but I thought it was fantastic. He came out swinging hard against McCain and the Republicans while weaving some of his airier hope themes throughout and even laying out quite a few policy objectives. Anyone doubting that he is ready to be C-in-C after this speech should be assuaged.

Of course, many on the right were not so enamored. But that is not surprising at all; Obama is very liberal in policy if not in temperament. He talks about compromise and bipartisanship, but that doesn't mean he's a middle of the road guy. He is a liberal.

But after the last eight disastrous years, I don't see how the Republicans can expect the American people to give them another chance. And I don't see how McCain and the Republicans can top the oratory in the Democratic convention. I don't expect a blowout in November, but after Obama's speech, I don't know how he can win.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quote of the Night

Bill Clinton went a long way toward redeeming his image with tonight's speech. He buried his narcissism for a moment and surprisingly talked more about Obama than how great his record was. It started off a little slow, but by the end, he had nailed it. My favorite bit was:

People around the world have always been more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Unfortunately, most Republicans and especially the neocons seem to have no grasp of that. They would rather smash any potential opposition with our military.

I'll also echo the chorus in praising John Kerry's speech. He was excellent, much better than anything he did four years ago.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Against Air Conditioning

It's two-years old, but this Will Saletan piece criticizing our overuse of AC is still quite good.

All over the country, power consumption is breaking records, and air conditioning is a huge reason why. We use about one-sixth of our electricity to cool ourselves. That's more than the total electricity consumption of India, a country whose population exceeds 1 billion. To get the electricity, we burn oil and coal. We also run air conditioners in our cars, which reduces urban fuel efficiency by up to four miles per gallon, at an annual cost of 7 billion gallons of gasoline.

More burning of oil and coal means more greenhouse gases. Based on government data, Stan Cox, a scientist at the Land Institute, calculates that air-conditioning the average U.S. home requires 3,400 pounds of carbon-dioxide production per year. The effects of this are particularly bad at night. Over the last five summers, very high minimum daily temperatures—those that score in the top 10 percent historically—have been far more widespread in this country than during any other five-year period. This is what's killing people. Outdoor air used to cool at night, allowing us to recover from the day's heat. Now it doesn't. To fuel our own air conditioning, we're destroying nature's.

I think this only one piece of our growing hubris as a species. We constantly try to avoid anything difficult like taking a pill to lose weight without worrying about long-term consequences. We live in the moment. If it feels good right now, then do it. Unfortunately, this typically does not have good consequences (see: the current credit crisis). We as a society need to do some serious self-examination and ask ourselves, "What do we truly value?"

Monday, August 25, 2008

What is a Good Blog?

A blogger makes a list of what he thinks good blog. Not a bad list. I agree with some of it, disagree with others. I'll just say that I've learned in my time blogging (just over a year) that it requires a lot of work. Being relevant requires a lot of reading, a lot of thought processing, a lot of half-starts and rewriting. It would certainly be easier if I didn't have a full-time job. Getting paid to blog full-time would be nice. I do enjoy it, however, and it has been rewarding for me in that it helps me process my own thoughts.

California Sends a Message

The California State Legislature passed a resolution allowing health professionals to be prosecuted if they participate in interrogations that violate "international standards."

Senate Joint Resolution 19 instructs the state’s licensing boards to inform California doctors, psychologists and other health professionals of their obligations under national and international law relating to torture. The boards will warn the licensees that they may one day be subject to prosecution if they participate in interrogations that do not conform to international standards of treatment of prisoners.

“The resolution calls attention to the intolerable dilemma that torture presents when those who are supposed to be the healers in our society are involved in the abuse of prisoners,” said Eisha Mason, associate regional director for the American Friends Service Committee, one of the organizations that sponsored the resolution.

State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) introduced the resolution in response to evidence that – despite the medical oath to “first, do no harm” – some physicians, psychologists and other health personnel have been complicit in abusive interrogations of detainees by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency.

This part was rather alarming.
A survey of medical students conducted by the Harvard Medical School, published in the October, 2007 issue of the International Journal of Health Services, found that one-third of the respondents did not know that under the Geneva Conventions, they should refrain from participating in coercive interrogations.

Thank you, California. Now, who else is going to get on the bandwagon? It's going to take more than one state to stop these practices. Don't just sit there. Write your representatives. Talk to your neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends. If we want this to stop, we need to stand up and make our voices heard.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who Doesn't Love Jon Stewart?

He is one of the most trusted (fake) journalists in America.

Though this spot is the program’s mocking sendup of itself and the news media’s mania for self-promotion, it inadvertently gets at one very real truth: the emergence of “The Daily Show” as a genuine cultural and political force. When Americans were asked in a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press to name the journalist they most admired, Mr. Stewart, the fake news anchor, came in at No. 4, tied with the real news anchors Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw of NBC, Dan Rather of CBS and Anderson Cooper of CNN. And a study this year from the center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism concluded that “ ‘The Daily Show’ is clearly impacting American dialogue” and “getting people to think critically about the public square.”

I am a huge fan of The Daily Show. Not being tied down to a 24-hour news cycle, asking tough questions on serious issues, and the obviousness of Jon's heart behind his biting humor serves to make The Daily Show one of the best programs on TV. You can probably learn more about what's going on in the world than by watching any other program.

Here's a great clip from a recent show where Jon takes a look at the John Edwards affair, the Russia/Georgia conflict, and Bush's gold medal in "lack of self-awareness."

"You've Got a Helluva Lot to Learn About Rock and Roll!"

Apparently "Guitar Hero" is responsible for "saving" rock and roll.

A few years ago, rock music was struggling on the charts. With hip-hop and teen pop ruling, rock was finding it hard to break through with new music -- or sell more of the old.

But "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" have prompted kids born in the '90s to discover artists from the '70s and '80s such as Aerosmith, Twisted Sister and Pat Benatar. The games' amazing popularity -- last year, the two brought in more than $935 million in revenue, according to the NPD Group market research company -- has helped create success in other markets, according to observers.

Parents, what is wrong with you?! You shouldn't need video games to teach your kids about the awesomeness that is rock 'n' roll. Sure, my daughters listen to Hannah Montana, but they also listen to Queen, Meat Loaf, Evanescence, Guns 'n Roses, and Nightwish. Damn it, they're gonna know what good music is and I don't need no stinkin' video game to do it for me. Stop abdicating your duties, parents, and instill in your children a love of the finer things in life.

Like Led freakin' Zeppelin!

A Republican Bows Out

Susan Eisenhower quits the Republican Party and has some harsh words for them.

My decision came at the end of last week when it was demonstrated to the nation that McCain and this Bush White House have learned little in the last five years. They mishandled what became a crisis in the Caucusus, and this has undermined U.S. national security. At the same time, the McCain camp appears to be comfortable with running an unworthy Karl Rove–style political campaign. Will the McCain operation, and its sponsors, do anything to win?
As an independent I want to be free of the constraints and burdens that have come with trying to make my own views explainable in the context of today’s party. Hijacked by a relatively small few, the GOP of today bears no resemblance to Lincoln, Roosevelt or Eisenhower’s party, or many of the other Republican administrations that came after. In my grandparents’ time, the thrust of the party was rooted in: a respect for the constitution; the defense of civil liberties; a commitment to fiscal responsibility; the pursuit and stewardship of America’s interests abroad; the use of multilateral international engagement and “soft power”; the advancement of civil rights; investment in infrastructure; environmental stewardship; the promotion of science and its discoveries; and a philosophical approach focused squarely on the future.

Ouch. I think true conservatives should probably be hoping for a Democratic victory in the Presidential race and big gains in Congress. The Republican party has shifted wildly off course and needs to be smacked down - hard - so they can come to their senses and become the party they once were.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

Sick 'Em, Biden!

As everyone knows, Obama has selected Joe Biden as his running mate. I think this is a good pick for Obama. Not because Biden has solid foreign policy cred and can possibly connect to working class voters, but because he is a fierce debater who speaks his mind. Granted, his mouth has landed him in trouble before, but I think he's the perfect guy to go to the mat against the Republican/Karl Rove slime machine. Biden is not one to take any hits sitting down; he'll get right back up and hit back hard. Obama has talked a lot about moving beyond this kind of politics, but unfortunately that's hard to do when you're the only one wanting to do that. With Biden on the ticket, though, Obama can focus on his strengths - big speeches and staying cool - while letting Biden get his hands dirty.

I think it's a big win for Obama and the Dems. McCain is going to have to become a lot craftier now with his negative ads. Biden will tear him up if he doesn't.

McCain Keeps Going Lower

The McCain campaign has released a new ad that wonders why Hillary Clinton is not Obama's VP pick. I like McCain less and less as this campaign goes on. Between bringing up his time as a POW no matter what the question is, his black and white view of foreign policy, and now his low-blow campaigning, I'm getting really fed up with him.

Weekly Music Video

I'm not a huge Sublime fan, but this song is incredible.

Sublime - "Santeria"

Weekly Secret