Wednesday, December 31, 2008
It's snowy and cold and windy in the northeast today. A fitting end to a strange year. It's a bit insulating as long as you're indoors, so that's kind of nice for a day like this. On the other hand, I must venture forth for groceries (one's guests and oneself must ingest at least a bit of something other than good wine and cheese) and, later, to spend the evening with good friends.

To anyone who chances by,
and to my blogging friends,
and to my family (especially t3ccitw),
I wish the best of years
in the up and coming not-quite-prime-number 2009.

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Permalink | 12 comment(s) | posted by jau at 11:45 AM

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Wonderful actors
Laura listed her 20 top favorite actors and it's a yummy list. Worth a visit to the post just to gaze on the gorgeous and evocative faces. Here's her annotated list - I've crossed out the ones I'd change : Cary Grant (he's simply the best), Tyrone Power Humphrey Bogart (how could she leave Bogie off - in his character-driven roles there's no one better), Dana Andrews Gary Cooper, Robert Montgomery (one of my all-time favorites), William Powell (ditto), Joel McCrea (ditt0), Robert Taylor (usually ditto but not the westerns), Robert Mitchum, Richard Widmark, Ray Milland, James Stewart, Stewart Granger Fred MacMurray (early, not once he became silly), John Wayne Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly Errol Flynn (in his not snazzed-up films), Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Charlton Heston Walter Huston, Ward Bond Ronald Coleman / Lawrence Olivier / Raymond Massey (trade-off between them), Fredric March, Randolph Scott (not listed in any particular order). I'll watch almost anything most of these guys are in and thank heavens for TCM!

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 12:10 AM

Monday, December 29, 2008
It's Marianne Faithfull's birthday. She's awesome. Listen to something by her today.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 2:03 PM

Out with the old, in with the new
It's almost fifty hours until 2009 and if the year can start anew then so can I. Heck, the country's government will be new in three weeks, too. Not that I'm disavowing anything I said previously (archived here) but I need a change if I'm going to keep at this blogging - and I'd really like to. I'm not entirely sure how I want to change things so the appearance won't change much (at least for now) and anyway goodness knows it took me long enough to arrive at this look.

I'm going to clear out bunches of the links since I doubt anyone but me uses them anyway. I use them like browser bookmarks and they'll be available on the archived blog if I must have them and I won't clear out the ones I use most of the time.

Anyway, it's a year with an almost prime number - okay, a number is either prime or not but 2009 is not a prime number only by virtue of being divisible by 1 and 7 and 7 is richly prime so I'm going with "almost prime" and purists can yell all they want.

So: so long and bye-bye to 2008 and onward to 2009.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 1:49 PM

A new year . . . .
This is now an archive. The current blog is still muttering by myself.


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:24 AM

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Cancelled tv shows
In case you're curious, you can pretty much figure out what tv shows will be cancelled by checking my level of enthusiasm. Well, not a hundred percent of the time but very nearly. Apparently American Idol's lead-in was stronger than my enthusiasm-of-death for House because it's still doing well even though I've liked it all along. I do hope I haven't jinxed the second season of Damages, however.

I have to wonder what the producers' reasoning is when they give us strong and interesting characters who become part of our lives . . . and then they yank them away without warning or time to prepare. After all, you'd know if you're coming to the end of a book.

I may have inherited this curse from my father. We both enjoyed the Robert Urich "Spenser" series - especially the Hawk characterization. And we both liked Tom Selleck's version of the Jesse Stone novels by Robert Parker. Last year I was a fan of James Woods' Shark mostly because I loved the relationship between Shark and his daughter, difficult and loving and layered. In shows like these, central plots may be clichéd and/or silly but none have clichéd or predictable characters.

The current example is this and last year's Eli Stone. It had some simplistic flaws and even a few wince-worthy moments but it made an attempt to mix drama with humor and even outrageousness now and then, even occasional flamboyance. Watching it was a lot of fun. Who'd have thought George Michael could be charming as a recurrent figment of someone's imagination? Who'd have known that Victor Garber could break into song and dance right after delivering a serious legal argument and be terrific fun? Or that Katie Holmes could be a rousing song and dance girl herself? All that was true, however, and yet last night appears to have been the final aired episode. No warning to the writers so they could wrap up story lines. No warning to viewers so we could wrap up our feelings. It's as if a whole bunch of acquaintances were just vaporized. It's unfair to them, and to us.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 10:37 PM

If HRC, why not CKS?
Not sure why Caroline is being reviled as far as the senate seat. When Hillary moved to NY and ran for that office, her only qualifications were that she had lived in the White House (as did Caroline) and been married to the President (Caroline was his daughter) and been an advocate for health care reform (different cause but similar advocacy). Caroline brings the connectedness of a Kennedy which is good and bad news, of course, but that's like Hillary, too. Caroline's previous reluctance to be involved in politics might even mean that she's only getting into it now because her heart is finally leading her where her head probably still tells her to stay away (or it vice versa?). Anyway, I'm not sure why there's any question.

P.S. Doesn't playing Beg-The-Governor almost guarantee unseemly and/or untoward behavior (cf. Illinois)? Shouldn't replacing a statewide elected official be done with a special election?

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Permalink | 5 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:11 AM

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The Jolly Boots of Santa
This is a bit disrespectful and loony but it's awfully funny - especially if you're not entirely enamored with the insane buybuybuy suffocation. Amazingly, it airs on Nickelodeon where it can alert impressionable little minds to the dangers of Santa adulation. Camille Paglia describes this cartoon as an enjoyable mix of "Brave New World" and "Metropolis". Yes, Virginia, pop culture can rise to the occasion and tease itself and do it well.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:42 AM

Sunday, December 7, 2008
Last night's movie
Watched "Two Men Went to War" last night. We had four dvds from Netflix - a virtual plethora of possibilities - but two were dreadful, basically unwatchable. Kings in Grass Castles proves that angry Irish farmers emigrating to Australia are annoying, uninteresting and not entertaining, even if they might have been historically interesting. Peep Show was billed as terrific by viewers who'd liked The Office and Black Adder but we found it entirely unfunny and, worst of all, mean-spirited.

Two Men, on the other hand, was a surprise. (Spoiler alert : if you want no details, read no further....) This is the true story of two British army dentists who decide, in 1942, to take the war (World War II) into their own hands. They sail a very small boat to France armed with some grenades and wire cutters and, most importantly, a lot of gumption. They manage to make two German transport trains crash into each other (although they don't know it) and then they knock over part of a radar station before they hightail it back to England. They're almost court-martialled as deserters but Winston Churchill himself is so pleased with them that, instead, they are awarded the Military Cross along with a brief absent-without-leave sentence. Definitely an intriguing pair and a nice film for a Saturday evening.

The older of the stars of Two Men is Kenneth Cranham. He was married to Diana Quick (who was subsequently and for a long time has been Bill Nighy's partner and mother of their child) and was Helen Mirren's companion for many years (and father of their child). If his onscreen personna conveyed a sort of rugged sex appeal, I guess I must say it's borne out by his biography. The other star, Leo Bill, a mere 28 years old, played his part with a bit of goofiness that I could have done without, but he held his own well. The real character went on to become mayor of Newcastle-on-Tyne, interestingly enough.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:57 AM

Friday, December 5, 2008
A Cradle Song
Sleep, Sleep, beauty bright
Dreaming o'er the joys of night.
Sleep, Sleep: in they sleep
Little sorrows sit & weep.

Sweet Babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace
Secret joys & secret smiles
Little pretty infant wiles.

As thy softest limbs I feel
Smiles as of the morning steal
O'er thy cheek & o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart does rest.

O, the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep.
When thy little heart does wake,
Then the dreadful lightnings break.

From thy cheek & from thy eye
O'er the youthful harvests nigh
Infant wiles & infant smiles
Heaven & Earth of peace beguiles.
--William Blake

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Permalink | 2 comment(s) | posted by jau at 11:26 AM

Talk about an important day. Many children, movie makers, movie goers and people in general should celebrate today and honor the 107th birthday of Walt Disney (the man, not the studio).

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 6:28 AM

Thursday, December 4, 2008
Chocolate for coughs
I have recently been reliably informed that chocolate may help relieve intense coughs.  How magnificent is that?!  It's meant to be dark chocolate, of course.  Here are a couple of links about this: here and here.  Even the sometimes skeptical Dr Weil says it might work (here).

As someone who has always gagged on cough syrups (have you ever tried Buckley's?!?), I am thrilled to learn that there are even chocolate cough drops such as this.

Everyone seems to agree that efficacy depends on it being good quality chocolate with 70-80% cocoa content.  I think I can bear up under that strain.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 12:59 PM

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
New person
The number of my descendants increased by one on November 22nd. There are now 3 cutest children in the world and since, conveniently "three" begins with the same letter as "two" I can continue to refer with amusement and joy to TTCCITW. I am fortunate indeed.

Some of those with whom the new little one shares his day are Erasmus, Thomas Cook, George Eliot, John Nance Garner, André Gide, Charles de Gaulle, Erik Lindahl, Hoagy Carmichael, Benjamin Britten, Robert Vaughn, Terry Gilliam, Tina Weymouth, Jamie Lee Curtis, Mariel Hemingway and Scarlett Johansson. So he'll be clever, verbal, gorgeous, funny and powerful, right? Cool.

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Permalink | 3 comment(s) | posted by jau at 7:20 AM

Sunday, November 30, 2008
A new season
It's one day away from December now.  A new season (early winter).  And it's time to haul out the advent calendars and count down to Christmas.  And the election is over and a new administration is soon to take office.  Cold weather, wool clothes, boots, sweatshirts, early darkness, frost on windshields . . .  and tons of new faces on news shows and all over downtown Washington DC. 

For your amusement and edification, I refer you to this article in the L.A. Times.  I admit to bafflement as to why Hillary would take the job since her power base is thereby immediately nullfied and as sec'y of state she's basically Obama's employee, than which I'd have thought nothing would have annoyed her more.

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Permalink | 3 comment(s) | posted by jau at 10:45 AM

Perhaps I'm back
After a brief hiatus, I'm going to try and revive my blogging. I've enjoyed it enormously in the past and appreciate the words of blog friends while I've been gone. And let me add just just a brief note by way of explanation.

I had been enjoying the campaign enormously in that it was a rare time of actual choices, not merely one party hack versus another, or at least so it seemed. I began the primary season optimistic about Obama running and possibly winning. As time went on, some of his statements and actions nibbled at the edges of my enthusiasm, however, and I also began to be disturbed by what seemed like endorsement morphing into idolatry in nearly all media coverage. Since most of what we voters know comes from what journalists tell us, we must rely on thorough and in-depth reporting, but electronic and print journalists alike failed to ask questions of or about him, let alone probe as hard as they probed McCain or Clinton or Palin. As a result, I wrote what I intended as questions - about him, his positions and, particularly, the moral center that is so pivotal to his campaign and himself. Quite evidently, however, I did not convey what I thought I thought, nor did I say what I meant to say. I can only blame inelegance and inadequacy as a writer, demonstrating again, I suppose, that many bloggers are not professional writers or, at the least, that Yours Truly is not. In any case, I was literally stunned into silence by the intensity and personal negativity of some reactions to what I wrote. All else aside, I very much hope that Obama is every bit the leader we need and want. And I hope that he galvanizes Americans' hopes and energies, and proves to be one of our smartest, most statesmanlike and courageous presidents.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 10:37 AM

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Election day
This country has many millions of people.  At times it seems that each of us has different ideas and different convictions from everyone else. That is the marvel of America.  That somehow we have so many differences and yet have a government that works (sometimes better than others, needless to say) and a social fabric in which most of us proceed through daily life even occasionally successfully and happily is just amazing.  Cheers!


Permalink | 2 comment(s) | posted by jau at 2:28 PM

Monday, November 3, 2008
Question time
Good column on the puzzles of the McCain campaign here.  Good piece on the probable success of the Obama campaign here.


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:20 AM

Sunday, November 2, 2008
"The Last Enemy"


My friend and I watched the final episode of "The Last Enemy" tonight - a five-part miniseries on PBS. It was entirely absorbing to watch, if much too long and drawn out. It was great to see Robert Carlyle again as he did his usual super job as a menacing (probably rogue) government gun-for-hire but most of the acting was cardboardish if not downright leaden.

The plot has been described as near-future fiction rather than science fiction because it starts from the five million surveillance cameras proliferated on the streets of London and other cities around the U.K. (one for every twelve residents, according to some). That amount of being watched is indeed horrible, unacceptable, beyond Orwellian stuff and if this movie helps to alert people enough to be sure to keep governments from going this far, then good for it. The fact that human inattentiveness and error would almost certainly prevent such eyes from working much of the time does not in any way mitigate the unacceptablenss, it just means that whatever does get done will not work as it is meant to.

My serious problem with the miniseries, however is that some plot lines were left dangling and the overall resolution was altogether lacking, unless my own i.q. points have fallen. Here are my questions for which I would be most grateful if any reader has answers and/or can make me feel less cheated. It's one thing to suspend disbelief because someone can hide, undetected, behind a door, and entirely another when things just do not make sense.

-- Why did they fake blow up Michael?
-- Why would it matter that Yasmin thought he was dead? Faking his death wasn't necessary to test his reaction to the "tag" and it seems like an awful lot of work to have gone through.

-- Why kill all those medical workers when they were supposedly looking for the doctor? Especially when it turned out in the end that he was working with them??!!

-- Why was Carlyle running his operation separately and seemingly in intense opposition and hiding from the government? Apparently he was working for - or with - James, Beasley and Harewood, given that they knew where his warehouse was and that he assisted James in that last scene with the Doctor, so that whole conceit seems utterly pointless.

-- Who was the black haired assassin? Who did he work for? What became of him?

-- At various moments, Stephen was highly aware of all the ways in which he was or could be watched - and yet at other times (as when he ran his assault on the Brompton hospital for blood samples), he was surprised that "they" knew where he was. As a savant who was so aware of what was going on, it seems completely nuts that he'd just forget about the cameras.

-- Why kill Michael? He's no longer any danger to T.I.A. or Project Tab since they can keep him out of England with his new tag. And, conversely, surely they should have killed Stephen since he knows everything and can join or even arouse resistance. It's not as if they were reluctant to knock off pretty much anyone.

-- Most importantly: who is the grand manipulator running James, Beasley and Harewood?

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 10:49 PM

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Work.  Traveling.  Sorry about the lag in posting.

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Permalink | 2 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:13 AM

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Naming websites
Website names are a tricky - though interesting - business. Some site names are amusing, some are cute, some are evocative, some are informational, some are funny. It all looks so easy when you just go to them, but try and come up with that perfect word or phrase and you discover how hard it is. Naming my blog seemed like a piece of cake compared with coming up with something catchy and just right for a jewelry site. I don't want too cute and I don't want my name and I don't want something with numbers and letters that you have to read aloud to understand. It could be a wonderful name or word, possibly misspelled, since some terrific words catch your attention and maybe even make you want to know more. I mean, Tiffany didn't used to equate with fine wonderful things and there's no intrinsic reason for Goodyear to be about tires. On the other hand, Yarn Market sells yarns and Country Curtains markets window treatments with a homey tone. The more I think about it, the less anything sounds acceptable let alone good let alone something I want to put out there for all the world to see. Anyway, thoughts or suggestions gratefully welcomed.

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Permalink | 4 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:12 AM

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
E.D. minus 3 weeks - vote now
Here's the weekly pre-poll - now on Tuesdays just like the real thing.

If the election were held today, who would you vote for?
John McCain
Barack Obama
Third party or write-in
Wouldn't vote free polls

On what do you mostly base your vote for or against? (multiple answers okay)
Candidate's views
Candidate's advisors
Candidate's past voting record
Candidate's party affiliation
Candidate's character
Candidate's family
Candidate's education
Candidate's promises
Candidate's likeability
Candidate's temperament
Candidate's apparent trustworthiness (or lack thereof) free polls

Three weeks until the election.


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 12:01 AM

Monday, October 13, 2008
Gorgeous fall weather all weekend and today. Temperatures in the mid-seventies, bright sun and sparkly air. Would that it could be like this for months and months. I get up in the morning in the dark now, and unless I leave work before 5:30 also arrive home in the dark. So recently it was bright and day lit until 8:30 or 9:00. For some reason I dislike it more this year than last. Inexorably, we now move into the long dark (tea time of the) fall and winter.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 10:43 PM

Sunday, October 12, 2008
Slow computer and busy week.  I've done all the onboard speed and functionality tests, with marginal improvements but many websites are still loading so slowly that it's insane.  Or timing out altogether.  So frustrating.  Like much technology, once you're used to it, you really really depend on it and regret its absence or laggardly performance.

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Permalink | 2 comment(s) | posted by jau at 8:24 AM

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Now I *KNOW* the sky is falling
Qantas Air, long famous for its utterly unblemished safety record - even remarked upon by Dustin Hoffman's savant in Rainman - has had four incidents in the last 90 days including one this morning. El Al has an equally amazing record but the assumption is that Israeli security explains much of their success. Qantas was simply far and away the cream of the crop with unassailably top-notch with materials and maintenance. What can one do but conclude that up is now down and red is now green and day is now night?

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:28 AM

jmbm   poll results @ E.Day minus 4 weeks

Who'd win if the election had been held yesterday, 10/6/08

Why people choose a candidate
(multiple answers allowed)

McCain -
Obama -
3rd party or write-in -
Won't vote -
Views -
Advisors -
Past voting record -
Party Affiliation -
Character -
Family -
Education -
Promises -
Likeability -
Temperament -
Trustworthiness -
Next jmbm poll : Monday, October 13th.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:11 AM

Sunday, October 5, 2008
E.D. minus 4 weeks - vote today!
If the election were held today, who would you vote for?
John McCain
Barack Obama
Third party or write-in
Wouldn't vote free polls

On what do you mostly base your vote for or against? (multiple answers okay)
Candidate's views
Candidate's advisors
Candidate's past voting record
Candidate's party affiliation
Candidate's character
Candidate's family
Candidate's education
Candidate's promises
Candidate's likeability
Candidate's temperament
Candidate's apparent trustworthiness (or lack thereof) free polls

Here's Monday's poll. Just one month to go until the election.


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 5:31 PM

Saturday, October 4, 2008
Paris photos
Linda has been showing some terrific photos of Paris recently as she strolls around and looks at all kinds of things. The Art Deco grate cover in the shape of a butterfly is oh-so-Parisian and quite lovely. I often recommend checking her out but now is particularly good because it's a clear reminder that beauty for both eye and soul can and do and will persist.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:30 AM

Friday, October 3, 2008
Vice prez debate afterwords
Thanks for participating! I'll leave this up through the weekend.

Who do you think won the debate?
Biden by a mile
Palin by a mile
Biden by a small amount
Palin by a small amount
It was a tie
I didn't watch free polls

Did the vice presidential debate
change your opinion?
(multiple answers allowed)
Like Biden more now
Like Palin more now
Like Biden less now
Like Palin less now
Feel the same about them as I did before free polls


Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 8:51 AM

Pulling out / counting down
McCain pulled his campaign out of Michigan yesterday. Last week, Obama withdrew his campaign from Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Alaska.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 6:10 AM

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Vice presidential candidates debate poll
Let's see how good we are at predicting this. My current guess is that it will be interesting and might be informative but might be something approximating a bloodbath for either person.

How do you think the vice presidential debate will go? (multiple answers allowed)
Biden will trounce Palin
Palin will trounce Biden
Biden will embarrass himself
Palin will embarrass herself
It will be a draw
I have no idea what will happen
It will be fascinating
Ifill will go hard on Palin
Ifill will go hard on Biden
Ifill will go easy on both candidates
Ifill will be fair to both candidates
It will determine who I'll vote for free polls


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 3:25 PM

jmbm   poll results @ E.Day minus 5 weeks

Who'd win if the election had been held yesterday, September 30:

Why people choose a candidate(multiple answers allowed):

McCain -
Obama -
3rd party or write-in -
Won't vote -

Character -
Background -
Advisors -
Views -
Trustworthiness -
Next jmbm poll : Monday, October 6th (e.d. minus 4 weeks).


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 1:46 PM

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Casting votes
First the primaries went on for twenty-five years or so (or did it just feel that way?) and one kind of primary (Republicans) counted votes by state so the winner in each state got it all while the other kind of primary (Democrats) counted votes by individuals so the winner was just whoever got the most votes. Then there were other crazinesses such as some states getting convention delegates voided because held early primary voting (Michigan). But now, today, it's apparently fine and dandy to start real voting early in Ohio. Yes, voting began there today, a full five weeks before Election Day and the votes are going to count just like real votes. Which would be unlike the military ballots that were disallowed in 2004 in Florida, so that's good, but really, seriously, how can it possibly be legal to start voting for a president five weeks before Election Day? And they're even announcing who's ahead!? . . . . And to think Cole Porter thought his world was going mad.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 10:04 PM

E.D. minus 5 weeks - vote today!
If the election were held today, who would you vote for?
No one - I won't vote
A third-party or write-in candidate
John McCain
Barack Obama free polls

Why do you vote for one candidate over another? (multiple selections are allowed)
Candidate's education
Candidate's character
Candidate's background
Candidate's advisers
Candidate's views on the issues
Candidate's likeability
>Candidate's trustworthiness
Candidate's children
Candidate's temperament
Other (please specify in the comments) free polls
Monday morning poll - postponed from yesterday - sorry - enjoy! Results tomorrow morning.


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:11 AM

Saturday, September 27, 2008
Debate goes on
They baited each other . . . . ok, ok, it's a bit lame but at least I tried.

There is a certain ridiculousness in using debates to learn a lot about what candidates think, because it's all about media coverage and zingers and comfort (or lack thereof) and necktie colors and all kinds of other irrelevancies. I suppose there's a chance we might learn something or see something in a candidate that persuades us to -- or not to -- vote for him or her but mostly I think people watch in order to confirm that their opinions are valid. "See, he/she just can/can't cut it because [fill in the blank]!"

I thought Obama seemed slightly nervous and a bit annoyed, and I thought McCain seemed a bit testy and determined to show how much he's done and knows. Neither made me want to vote for him or like him but maybe liking someone shouldn't be part of the mix anyway. It might seem pleasant but is it a requisite for a good president that people like him/her and want to be friends? How could anyone be friends with all the (vastly different) people in this country?

I actually thought the two strangest things last night were (1) the pink and white neckties and (2) the way they spoke to each other.
  • They both wore pink and white neckties, one striped and one polka dotted. What was that about? Do you suppose they worked that out ahead of time? Was it a signal to the inhabitants of Mars or Jupiter that we come in peace - or that they can?? I mean, really.
  • And why did Obama call McCain "John" while McCain called Obama "Senator"? I wasn't sure whether Obama intended to sound friendly or casual/disrespectul but it came off mainly as puzzling and a bit patronizing. I swear sometimes he doesn't have a clue (remember the jokes he tries to tell?!). And was McCain being respectful by calling Obama "Senator" or was he being sarcastic?!
I think I pick at Obama's statements more than McCain's because McCain seems more "usual" in his approach. It would be great if there were a way to shake things up and change something almost fundamental so our daily lives could be more livable and more pleasant. So I guess I'm hoping to find that Obama makes sense to vote for and would really have ideas that could get us somewhere good. But I keep feeling disappointed and thinking maybe he just isn't the one. When he said he wants the country to be a place people want to come to again, I said "yes!" but then he added that he meant to a place like the one his father wanted so badly to come to in the 1960s and I stopped in my tracks. The sixties were probably our social and military nadir; the Vietnam War had everyone here and around the world in utter disarray and loathing us. One wonders if he adlibbed that line because sure he didn't think about it before he said it. (And then there's the minor detail that his father deserted his family, left them in that wonderful America he'd wanted to come to and went far far away. Is this whole exercise for Obama an attempt to regain his father??) And, by the way, it's not as if immigrants aren't still flocking here by the gazillion so I guess they didn't get the memo about how bad it is. I certainly don't want a jingoistic president, but realistic would be nice.

I thought McCain seemed knowledgable and determined. Certainly more assured than Obama. Perhaps the expectations were very low because neither is known for good debating skills but Obama seemed downright nervous at times and never conveyed the calm secure tone that drew so many to him in the first place.

Most distressing was that neither was straightforward even about his own positions (some details here).

Well, one down, three to go. Next is Thursday: Palin and Biden.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:32 AM

Friday, September 26, 2008
James Meredith
Today is quite a historical moment in America. The first black candidate for president will be participating in a debate held at the University of Mississippi where the first black student was enrolled at a southern U.S. university in 1962 after horrible riots and much violence that injured over a hundred people. Times do change for the better in some ways.

I looked up James Meredith's biography because I didn't know what he'd done after those eventful ten days between September 20th and October 1st forty-six years ago. He finally got to attend classes, graduated, earned an MBA and became a stockbroker. Fascinating to discover also that he and the civil rights movement came to a huge parting of the ways, however, because he found it "insulting" and demeaning. I've heard that occasionally before but didn't realize one of the major figures saw it that way. Definitely food for research and thought. After graduating and earning an MBA he became a stockbroker and then moved to Jackson, Mississippi to run a small used-car lot. He still lives there, interestingly enough. I wonder if any of the commentators or either debater will mention him. . . .

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 5:48 PM

The 1st debate of 2008
I wonder how tonight's debaters will fare... and whether the event will have any impact. Predictions?


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 5:10 PM

Bill defends John?!
I, like Betsy, have been startled at Bill Clinton's magnanimousness and generosity about McCain. But she says it so much better than I would have:
Democrats must be pulling out their hair as Bill Clinton makes his apologia tour for the McCain-Palin ticket. He's talked about why Americans like Sarah Palin. He went on The View and talked about why Americans admire John McCain so much. He was quite kind to McCain when Clinton was on Larry King. . . . In describing their relationship, Clinton said of McCain: "I like him and I admire him." He went on to note that the Arizona senator had helped him normalize relations with Vietnam and fight the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo.
What especially caught my eye in her post was her pointing out that Clinton "defended McCain on postponing the debates to work on the financial crisis and reminded us that McCain was the one who wanted more debates" because I thought I remembered that "McCain wanted more debates" and indeed that turns out to be the case. So if McCain's behavior the last few days is a ploy on his part, I guess it's in hopes that voters will believe how very serious he is about the financial situation.

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Permalink | 2 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:17 AM

Thursday, September 25, 2008
The times they are a changing
The British government has proposed some earth-shatteringly major changes to accession to the throne of England. Among (of course I meant to say "amongst") them are that Roman Catholics could be king or queen and that the first-born child of a reigning monarch would be his or her heir regardless of its gender and that the Privvy Council's powers be limited especially where Scotland and Wales are concerned. These are astonishing changes to conventions that have been in effect since late in the seventeenth century (yes, that's over three hundred years ago), a mere snap of the fingers in the duration of the universe but a very long time in British history.

If he is in any way aware of such things, Henry VIII must be spinning in his grave like a router blade - his and Catherine's daughter Mary would simply have been his successor and oh so many heads wouldn't have needed to be felled.

Despite low approval ratings, Gordon Brown may have a permanent place in history, after all.

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Permalink | 3 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:19 AM

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Suspend the campaign?!
McCain has just announced that he's suspending his campaign to go to Congress and work on the financial crisis. He's called on Obama to do the same. It sounds responsible but one wonders. Suppose it doesn't get solved over the weekend? Suppose it doesn't get solved in two weeks? What's the Constitutional requirement for the election's timing? And loads of other interesting questions . . . .


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 3:31 PM

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Even Joe Biden thought the anti-McCain technology ad was bad (here). One in-the-know friend of mine thinks Biden is the cat's meow and that this is an example of what a decent and clear-headed guy he is. Hope it doesn't get him into trouble with his "boss". Hope it isn't just the first pebbles of a foundation about how they can't be a team any longer - say it ain't so, Joe.

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Permalink | 4 comment(s) | posted by jau at 1:52 PM

jmbm  poll results @ E.Day minus 6 weeks

Who'd win if the election had been held yesterday, September 22:

Why people choose a candidate(multiple answers allowed):

McCain -
Obama -
Won't vote -

Job experience -
Character -
Trustworthiness -
Views -

Monday, September 26, e.d. minus 5 weeks : next jmbm poll.


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 8:54 AM

Monday, September 22, 2008
Kinda makes you wonder
Could Bill Clinton be sincere when he says he "gets" why Sarah Palin is so popular (article here)?  Let me rephrase that.  I believe he understands her popularity because his popularity is at least partly based on the same ordinary-person identifications as hers.

I think he's might be saying this because he wants to lower the volume on the democrats' attacks so sympathy and defensiveness don't send voters flocking to Palin.  Or he might be saying it so people look more kindly on Palin and vote for McCain and put him in office for that famous one term before Hillary runs in 2012.  Either way, don't you have to smile when you read what he said, for all kinds of reasons?
"My view is ... why say, ever, anything bad about a person? Why don't we like them and celebrate them and be happy for her elevation to the ticket? And just say that she was a good choice for him and we disagree with them?"
Kind of applies to him and to Hillary, too, doesn't it?  How calmly generous, right?  Sure, let's acknowledge each other's strengths and go on from there.  But then why did Hillary refuse to speak at the U.N. on tomorrow's panel when it turned out Palin was speaking too.  She said some nonsense about partisanship but in this spirit of generous acknowledgement, it would have been much better to spin it as unpartisan because they both were speaking.  As I say at least a hundred times a day (okay, maybe sometimes it's only ten times), if the noise and ridiculousness and lies were removed, then the voters could listen to the issues and decide who they really want to elect.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 6:00 PM

E.D. minus 6 weeks – Vote today!
I'll put up these polls each Monday for the next six weeks and post the results the following morning.

If the election were held today, who would you vote for?
I wouldn't vote
A third-party candidate
Barack Obama
John McCain free polls


Why do you vote for one candidate over another?
(multiple answers are allowed)
Candidate's likeability
Candidate's job experience
Candidate's education
Candidate's character
Candidate's trustworthiness
Candidate's advisors
Candidate's views free polls
Belatedly and apologetically I realize there could of course be more / other bases upon which a person might choose a candidate so future weeks' polls will include an "other" line. Today, please use the post or poll comments for that purpose as well as for, er, commenting.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 8:45 AM

Sunday, September 21, 2008
PBS poll on Palin
Not sure why PBS is conducting polls, but they are. It all comes off their PBS Now page. Seems a little odd on a non-profit tv station's website but what the heck. A friend of mine received an email urging her to vote about whether Palin is qualified to run. One should not assume that friends or people we like share our tastes or beliefs. Be careful what you wish for and what you urge on others.

The same website has an interactive electoral map. It's really interesting to hover over each state and learn about 2004 and polls there. On the other hand, this map might make us all think it doesn't matter whether we vote. Since no one has voted yet, the assignments of states to either candidate are a tad premature and full of assumptions. They may be correct assumptions but human beings have been known to throw prognostication to the wolves. (Can you say Dewey?)

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 11:50 PM

An uncivil war
What do you suppose will happen on November 5th, the day after the election? This year's election will almost certainly be at least as close if not closer than that of 2000. The aftermath of that one was dreadful. This year the two camps are so divided and so angry at the other that I cannot imagine either one shrugging off defeat gracefully and resolving to march on to the next quadrennial contest, can you? This year's civil war isn't civil.

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Permalink | 2 comment(s) | posted by jau at 11:57 AM

Saturday, September 20, 2008
Say it ain't so. . .
I wanted to discount it as right-wing lunacy but now I've read in more than a few people who are hearing or at least predicting that the "October surprise" will be Obama dropping Biden and putting Hillary in as v.p. While it might originally (i.e., at the convention) have made sense to pick her - from a vote-getting and even a fairness standpoint - it remains hard to imagine how they could govern together. How does a president manage a vice president who's stronger than himself? and whose husband has already had the job to great acclaim? It seemed and continues to seem like a bad idea. One hopes that even an increasingly-nervous candidate can remember that the end result of all this is governing.

On the other hand, Obama may be as passionate about winning as the Clintons. And what made the Clintons go along with the nomination so quietly and relatively pleasantly?

On the other hand, Hillary does have huge and continuing negatives, so adding her to the ticket might not do the trick particularly in the so-called undecided states. (Don't forget that the election actually turns on electoral college votes not on the popular vote, not unlike the Republicans' winner-take-all primaries.)

More to the point, such a crassly and overtly manipulative gesture would reveal his need to win and pretty much erase any residual sense of him as a leader of change. Worse, it would generate voter disgust. Since October is dangerously close to Election Day there would be too little time for the negative feelings to fade and I'd bet many voters would commit themselves to vote for ABO (anyone but Obama). So in the end, my sense is that the end results away from him would far outweigh any benefits of the switch, were he to pull this stunt.

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Permalink | 3 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:41 AM

Friday, September 19, 2008
Vice presidents
In the ongoing and important discussion of what experience qualifies a person to be vice-president and/or president, and keeping in mind that Theodore Roosevelt had less than 4 years work experience before becoming vice president and, one year later, president, consider Lyndon Johnson, than whom no one was even close to as experienced when he became Kennedy's vice president. Furthermore, he is widely regarded as having been the most agile and able at getting members of congress to do his bidding of anyone in the history of the U.S. government. We should read this and think long and hard about the qualities and experience we want a candidate to have before we decide to vote for him or her:

There was no more experienced politician selected to be Vice President than Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson served as a United States Representative from Texas from 1937-1949 and as United States Senator from 1949-1960, including six years as United States Senate Majority Leader, two as Senate Minority Leader and two as Senate Majority Whip [that's more than 23 years], before being selected by John Kennedy to be his V.P. With all that "experience" he expanded the Viet Nam [sic] War on the advise [sic] of Kennedy's "wiz kid", Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, which resulted in the death of over 58,000 American troops and the first defeat in U.S. military history. Obviously, it takes more than experience in foreign policy and meetings with heads of state to make good decisions as Commander-In-Chief.

(H/T to Incidental Remarkings' mother for the quotation and my friend who drew Johnson to my attention in this respect.)

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 2:37 PM

As if things aren't bad enough
In case you don't already know that racism is alive and well and living in the whole world, despite what we may hope and think. And in case you don't already know that the U.S. is deeply, profoundly divided into completely separate and contentious groups about the candidates in this election. Nevertheless, these headlines and the events the articles describe (click to read the article) sure as heck don't help.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 2:31 PM

Will the real Barack Obama please stand up
Have you found the last weeks puzzling too? I mean, Obama's meteoric rise to exciting prominence was in large account because of his expressed and new approach to political discourse as much as his views. As a bright young Democrat, his points of view seemed clear even if they weren't a matter of record since his record is thin. But his post-anger, post-negative, post-antagonistic attitude thrilled me and others. I felt hopeful, thought maybe there was a fresh breeze in American politics, a new way to solve and prevent problems. It felt calming and rational and renewing.

The first warning shot was the revelation about Jeremiah Wright's fiendishly angry diatribes. Even if they were somewhat misinterpreted, they were dreadful. And when Obama said he'd never heard Wright speak like that before, my stomach lurched because either he'd lied about being there or he was ridiculously inattentive or he he was lying about not hearing the previous rants. Evidently I'd succumbed to the mania, I realized, because I suddenly felt off balance.

Then there were incidents and a changed tone of voice over following weeks, all documented elsewhere and not worth rehashing right now. Even meanness and nastiness, weirdness, anger. But each seemingly minor moment was greeted by Obama with a back-track or an explanation an excuse. But in the end it came down to the pedestal crumbling and Obama no longer being the fair-haired child, no longer being the post-anger, post-negative, post-antagonistic figure he claimed and seemed to be. I'm afraid it's back to politics as disgusting and as usual.

So who on earth do I vote for? I am between a fairly hard rock that I know somewhat and a hard place that might be all right or might be dreadful but who the heck knows. Do I vote for a man who's been part of the government for decades and who has a moderately good record but is most likely to be a caretaker? Or do I vote for a man who's less seasoned than almost any have been and who also has the infamous Chicago machine behind him? They both dissemble and exaggerate and make promises they'll never be able to keep. It's all too familiar a choice between people I don't feel great about. But the times are worse than usual, or so it seems, so the president might matter more than usual.

A friend suggested a political science-y way to choose. Ask myself whether I want a president who (A) is the same party and "flavor" as Congress and therefore can (presumably) get anything done he wants, or (B) is the other party from Congress and therefore must persuade and cajole to get things done. Keeping in mind our revered and generally successful three-part government structure, would it be preferable if two of the parts can operate as one, or would it be better if they are in dynamic opposition?

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Permalink | 2 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:12 AM

Thursday, September 18, 2008
"It's time to be patriotic"
If this moment wasn't on tape, I be making excuses for him because I'd be sure he was being misquoted. But Biden actually said "we want to take money and put it back in the pockets of middle class people" which sounds lovely and noble, except that you have to start asking yourself where they're going to get the money they're going to take and give. And how are they going to take it to give it? And what do they mean by "middle class"?

When the interviewer interjected that she understood Obama's plan for getting this money to be to tax people earning more than $250,000, he leaned forward into her space (does anyone but me still use that phrase?) and said "you got it, it's time to be patriotic, Kate ... time to be part of the deal [what does that mean?], time to help get America out of the rut...." and he smiled one of those lips-only smiles that body language experts warn you about. Anyway I wondered if anyone but me find this equation of paying taxes and being patriotic weird. I could understand words like obligation or duty or even "the breaks" especially considering what other countries' taxes are often like, but patriotic seems like an odd choice of words. I wonder what the hundred-plus million voters think of it.


Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 4:22 PM

Can I say how sick I am of hearing people quote Carly Fiorina's statement about Palin not having enough experience to be a CEO? What she actually said - and how many times will this have to be corrected??? - was that none of the four candidates has enough experience to run a company. She didn't make the point felicitously nor did she phrase it so it would avoid being misquoted, unfortunately. I guess she couldn't be an advertising copywriter, right? The far more important point, however, is that Fiorina said that neither Obama nor McCain - the two candidates for president - do not have the experience to run a company. Is it relevant? Is the United States a company? In some ways, I suppose, but not one for one. And in any case, Fiorina's disparagement of Palin, if it really was disparagement and not simply a statement of fact, equally applies to Biden, McCain and Obama.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 3:43 PM

I think there must be a few Calvinist bones lurking in my body because it always feels like giving in if I even consider admitting I'm sick. But after a coughy and sneezy night, I took a sick day today, my first this year. The plan is to watch some of the Kay Francis movies I've recorded and see how much chicken soup I can eat. Doesn't chicken soup taste wonderful when it hits the spot perfectly? And thank heaven for Tylenol Severe Cold which seems to keep the drippy nose under control without making me stop breathing, bless it.

Update - 4 pm - Definitely feeling better. Thanks for all the good wishes!!!

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Permalink | 4 comment(s) | posted by jau at 11:43 AM

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Try though I might
Sometimes I give in and say something personal. Can't keep it dignified all the time, right?! This time it's because if I could get my hands around the neck of whoever gave this cold to me I'd throttle them. My nose is stuffed, but only on one side which means I can breathe kind of, and my lips are dried out mostly on the inside because of the air that passes over them since I can't really breathe through my nose (does that happen to you when you have a cold or is it just my problem?) and I'm drinking so much water and tea that I have to go to the loo every two or three minutes and my eyes drip every so often just to remind me they're involved in a head cold, too, I guess. Then I get cold one minute and warm and stuffy the next (thank heavens I have a shawl) but the good news is that my throat isn't sore any more so that's progress. I've taken Quantum drops and they taste okay which is a plus but I'm not sure they do anything. I keep smearing Burt's Bees on my lips which helps a little and I suck on a Cold-Eze and/or a Tylenol every so often to try and stop the outright unpleasantntess but I don't think they help much either. I suppose I just have to accept the inexorable march through the symptoms but it's so annoying.

All right, I think that's all. That felt good. One just needs to to moan and groan sometimes.

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Permalink | 9 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:27 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Talk about misleading headlines
I would be glad to make a stink about misleading headlines about Obama, not just about McCain, if there were any that I've seen. The headlines are complimentary and generous about him. That may be fallacious, too, but it's not as annoying. I don't agree with McCain and Palin on most issues but until we walk into the voting booth and pull the levers, we haven't actually made a decision. The press (print or otherwise) shouldn't be controlling my opinion of the candidates - the candidates should be doing that - yet every day this keeps happening.

Here are the top "Latest News" headlines on CNN's front page this afternoon.

That ticker headline clearly implies that someone on the McCain/Palin team, probably someone not very important since they're not named but referred to as an aide, derided Palin's abilities to run a company and, by extension, the country.

So you click on the Ticker and see the article headline that says "Fiorina: Palin, McCain not qualified to run company" so now you're figuring that someone important thinks little of McCain or Palin as far as their qualifications for high office. But it turns out that the person speaking is Carly Fiorina, the former successful CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and that she's not an aide at all but the chair of a McCain committee. So you read the article:

And it turns out that Fiorina said something altogether different from what the Ticker or the article headline said or implied. Fiorina actually said that none of the candidates could run a company, none of them (neither Obama nor Biden nor McCain nor Palin) but not because they're incompetent, no, because none has any business experience. And she also says that business experience isn't necessarily relevant or germane. All those words and disinformation for that unsurprising - and not negative - assessment.

The "ticker" could have stated that "Obama couldn't run company" just as accurately and just as misleadingly. Or Biden or McCain. Why did it single out Palin when that wasn't what Fiorina said?

ENOUGH! The press should let us decide what we think about what Obama and McCain propose to do and/or not do if they become president.

It's utterly ridiculous that it's so difficult to find out what the candidates for the highest offices in our government really say or think without being pointed away from them. The whole point of headlines is to alert readers or viewers to what we might want to read or view, not to mislead and skew us away from facts and statements that might help us make reasoned and informed decisions.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 5:35 PM

Good movie
We watched The Counterfeiters last weekend. It's an Austrian film that won the foreign film Oscar for 2007 and it's terrific. A master forger is arrested and held in a concentration camp and one day the Nazis decide they are going to forge British pounds and attempt to undermine the British economy. Apparently this idea occurred to Roosevelt and Churchill, too, other way around of course, but they didn't put it into action. The prisoners were so good at it - linen in the paper, complicated printing presses, numbering system of the Bank of England, etc., etc. - that they floated nearly 400 million pounds (~9 million physical pieces of money). After the war the Brits had to change the paper and the size of the bills lest the fake bills inflate their economy. Apparently they were truly indistinguishable from the real ones.

There are slogans on the walls of the forgers' workroom and print shop that are never translated but are a perfect touch of the sadism we all know abounded. "Mit Halbheiten wird nichts Ganzes gewonnen" (Half will never become whole - presumably meaning you must work full-tilt, not half-heartedly), and "Jedem das Seine" (Everyone his own - presumably meaning you get what you put into it) and "Mehr tun als es die Pflicht befiehlt !" (Do more than your duty commands you to). The intensity and uses of such slogans are hard to deal with.

The movie also poses a challenging dilemma. Should you sabotage an enterprise run by evildoers, your enemy, simply because they are doing it? Or should you resist sabotage because your fellow 145 prisoners will be killed if you do? Might it have stopped the Nazis sooner if they had sabotaged the effort? Would sending comrades to their death although foiling the Nazis be the using bad means to accomplish a good end? Would it have been justifiable?

There's also a wry telling of these events in a British series called Private Schultz. Very funny because it shows the utter absurdity of the horrific events and manages to be smart at the same time while yet never ignoring the miserable situation.

The Counterfeiters skillfully presents its story and questions while being neither preachy nor somber and all the while telling an enthralling tale. I highly recommended both the tv series and the film.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:24 AM

Peter Falk is only 3 years younger than Lauren Bacall??!!! And they are, respectively, 81 and 84 today?? Wow! Well, happy birthday to them both.

It's also Henry V's 621st birthday today. If you've never seen Kenneth Branagh's film of the same name, you must. It's fantastic.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:09 AM

Monday, September 15, 2008
Weekend polls
Zogby's September 13th electoral college projection has Obama at 234 and McCain at 226 with 78 uncertain. (Of course technically they're all uncertain since the election is 49+ days away.) The projection last week had Obama at 278 (270 is needed to win). And Gallup's September 14th poll shows McCain 47% to Obama's 45%, obviously well within margin of error.

Hey, perhaps individuals' votes will matter on November 4th!

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 12:16 PM

Strong words
Dr. Sanity, always fascinatingly verbal and verbally fascinating (yes I intend both separately) has written a long and detailed article today about where we find ourselves at this point in the campaign and, perhaps more importantly, in the overall scheme of things. You'll need to read the entire article to understand where how she gets here, and it is well worth the time.
A complete unknown named Barack Obama has managed to capture all this hysteria at its peak and parlay it into an unprecedented run for the US Presidency. In him, the left has found the personification of all their fantasies. According to their pre-set script, his election would vanquish the evil infecting the land; slow the rising of the ocean and heal the entire planet. If he were not to be elected, then it is already predetermined that it will happen because America is racist and evil. Quod erat demonstrandum.
I agree that much of the fuss is "just another way of avoiding reality" - how else explain the recent financial messes and Iraq and the endless cult of meaningless celebrity. Perhaps she is correct that "we are witnessing the tragicomic demise of the glib and pretty postmodern man of inaction" but I'm not sure.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:17 AM

Sunday, September 14, 2008
(J)Lo and behold accuracy
Is anything reported accurately? Does any public figure tell unembellished facts about themselves?

The headlines this afternoon report that Jennifer Lopez completed the Nautica Malibu Triathlon today in 2 hours, 23 minutes and 28 seconds. I read that and my mouth fell open. That was superhuman time, along the lines of something Superman could accomplish if he rewound the world after each portion of the triathlon. 2:23.28 would be awesome marathon time so how on earth, I asked myself, did she finish a triathlon that fast? Was it a half triathlon, I wondered? But the headlines said "triathlon" so . . . what?

Then my inner skeptic took over and I looked up the facts of regular triathlons as well as the Malibu Triathlon. A usual full-on triathlon consists of:
- 3.8K swim (2.4 miles)
- 180K bike course (112 miles)
- 42.2K run (26.2 miles - a full marathon)

And it turns out there were two events in the Malibu, one Saturday (the "olympic") and one Sunday (the "classic"). (J)lo and behold, Lopez ran Sunday and, hmm, the classic consisted of:
- half-mile halfswim
- 18 mile bike course
- 4-mile run course
Not easy unless you're in decent shape but basically a quarter triathlon.

And just as a point of information, the so-called olympic part of Malibu's triathlon wasn't. It consisted of:
- 1.5K swim
- 40K back bike course (along Pacific Coast Highway!)
- 10K run (on Zuma Beach)
Gorgeous and certain grueling for any ordinary person but less than a half triathlon and certainly not "olympic".

Oh and while I'm being snide and skeptical, the stated reason of an injured foot caused JLo to withdraw from being the celebrity judge at the finale of Project Runway on Thursday and Friday last week. I guess the really impressive thing, then, is that an injured foot on Friday prevented her from sitting in a chair and assessing clothing designs but was so much better two days later that she could complete in a quarter-triathlon on Sunday.

Would it make her sports accomplishment any less impressive if she said straightforwardly that she competed in a quarter triathalon? Especially considering that it's only a few months since she gave birth to twins? Doesn't the misleading report just make her seem self-aggrandizing and silly?

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 6:52 PM

Anyone can be disingenuous
The current head of the Roman Catholics is in Paris this weekend and appearing to huge crowds. Pope Benedict XVI may be a wonderful human being but when he spoke to a couple hundred thousand at an outdoor mass Saturday, his words fairly shouted a do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do attitude. I don't mean to be disrespectful but his remarks were breathtakingly hypocritical and disingenuous. He condemned

unbridled pagan passion for power, possessions and money as a modern-day plague. . . . [and] he called the faithful to “flee idols” such as “money, thirst for possessions, power and even knowledge”. . . .
While it is true that in the past few commoners had much money or possessions, noblemen and monarchs sought and gathered wealth beyond measure. Remember the Medicis? Catherine the Great? The gold room of Peter the Great? Elizabeth the 1st? Henry VIII? The Russian Revolution? European courts through the centuries were driven to amass power, possessions and money. So it's hardly accurate to say this is the most materialistic time in history.

Furthermore, excuse my sarcasm but he thinks we deserve condemnation for having a "pagan passion for power"?! The pope is the singular and revered head of state of Vatican City as well as the bowed-to head of the R.C. Church. As such he is one of the wealthiest humans on earth. Furthermore, Catholics are instructed to take his word as equivalent to God's because he is the "elected monarch" (nice phrase) of Vatican City, the small territory inside Italy which issued its own money until 1999 when it adopted the Euro. The Church does not pay taxes despite a huge revenue. The basilicas and churches in Vatican City contain some of the world's most valuable art and decorations (the Pieta, the Sistine Chapel being only the most renowned) and some floors and walls are literally covered in gold and gems. In official ceremonies, the pope wears gold- and fur-edged robes as well as the jeweled and gold mitre, not to mention the large and heavy "ring of the fisherman" which he wears all the time and which visitors kiss with obeisance. In some ceremonies, he is carried in a throne held aloft (by human beings, for goodness sake). But we should be less craven in our lust for possessions, power and money. Right. It really is a blatant case of do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do. And it's particularly unfortunate that this man whose words are heard as complete and utter truth and with uncritical acceptance by many would speak such incorrect and hypocritical words.

The pope and his church, after all, have had for centuries and continue to have enormous power, billions of possessions and wealth beyond measure.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:46 AM

Saturday, September 13, 2008
Free rice expands
The terrifically fun and occasionally instructive click-and-give application, Free Rice, has added many subjects. Where once there was only vocabulary, there are now lots more. My personal favorites are grammar, famous paintings and multiplication tables.

They're very cool, too. When I wrote and expressed frustration because they stuck to American rules when it came to words like "none" being a singular collective noun and a dependant clause being acceptably written as a separate sentence, they changed or removed them. Which is only fair since there are no do-overs!

So just click, play and give here (<-) or on the right sidebar. And I'd love to know which category you like best. But by the way, a warning: Free Rice is highly addictive!

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 10:49 AM

Issues: general
John McCain on several subjects - July 13, 2008 interview in the NY Times.
Barack Obama on several issues - March 15, 2008 interview in the Chicago Sun-Times.


Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:24 AM

Issues: e-mail
As a philosophical / linguistic matter, I have problems with the logic that singles out one or another skill as so pivotal that not having it makes it impossible for someone to be able to perform the duties of the presidency. There just isn't a job description for being president that includes anything all that specific. Plus, in terms of basic physical abilities, there are so many assists for problems (e.g., Braille and cd's allow a blind person to "read") that I can't think of any abilities whose absence would flatly disqualify someone.

In recent days the Obama campaign has fired ads that say that McCain doesn't use e-mail or spend time online and therefore is clearly too old and out of touch to be president. But in an interview in the NY Times earlier this year, we learn that he does read e-mail, it's just that he doesn't send e-mail nor read newspapers online and for two pretty interesting reasons. Here's the first:
Q: Do you use a blackberry or email?
Mr. McCain: I use the Blackberry, but I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail. I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone. I have the luxury of being in contact with them literally all the time. We now have a phone on the plane that is usable on the plane, so I just never really felt a need to do it.
He doesn't read papers online but for a reason that's not a bad one since his interest would largely be the impact of events and the cited "prominence of the story" is a function of the editors' opinions and therefore would tell him something about the attitudes and opinions that influence people:
Q: You read newspapers then.
Mr. McCain: I read them most all every day.
Q: You and Obama are both newspaper and book readers. Do you read them in the old paper version or do you read them online?
Mr. McCain: I love to read them in the print form, and the reason why I do is because so much, the prominence of the story matters. If I read a story and say, Oh my God, did you see this? But it’s back on A26, it doesn’t have the impact of what are still – even though it’s declining – what are still, what are hundreds of millions of American picking up an looking at today.
And it turns out there's another reason he doesn't send e-mail. An article on points out that he doesn't type comfortably because injuries to his arms and hands "prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes." But "he passed the Navy physical" after extensive physical therapy.

Presumably he can be at the independent ready by keeping his hair short and wearing non-tie shoes and having voice-recognition software.

Incidentally, I found this information by typing "McCain email using" into the search bar, so why didn't the Obama people find it too? Don't they fact-check? Will Obama have to make a statement amending the ad, as he amended Burton's first reaction to Palin? And since this is the third or fourth time they've had to backtrack, do you suppose it's possible that someone in Obama's campaign is sabotaging him?

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:13 AM

Friday, September 12, 2008
Two questions after the interview
Q1. Is it just me or was the “hubris” question astonishing for its, er, hubris? And if it's an acceptable question, then he'd better ask Obama and Biden whether they displayed hubris in thinking they could run considering that Obama's experience is pretty thin and Biden's is entirely as a member of the Senate, hardly a place where one learns how to manage budgets and people.
Obama (running for
14 years' experience
4 as director of Developing Communities Project, 1 as Project Vote director, 6 as an Illinois state senator, 3 as a U.S. senator

McCain (running for
50 years' experience
7 in the Navy, 3 as Navy liaison to the Senate, 4 as a U.S. represenative, 21 as U.S. senator

Biden (running for vice president)
38 years' experience
1.5 as a corporate lawyer, 1.5 as a Delaware County councilman, 35 as a U.S. senator

Palin (running for vice president)
15 years' experience
2 as a sportscaster, 3 as a city councilman, 4 as mayor, 2 as chair of a gas & oil commission, 2 as chair of an ethics committee, 2 as governor
There's not much in the way of job training for the White House, when it comes right down to it. This year there are two oldish guys running who have a heck of a lot of experience though only as senators and two youngish people running who each have very little experience, the weaknesses differing but perhaps balancing each other out. Ergo, the question - and concern - is every bit as germane for Obama.

Just as a point of comparison, keep in mind that the revered and adored JFK had spent almost four years in the Navy and thirteen years in the Senate when he ran for the presidency. Not even as much as Obama or Palin. Hmmm.

Q2. Why is Palin practically the only focus of attention and questioning? Is it because the journalists didn't see her coming? (I did, but I don't register on their radar.) Because I wonder why they've decided to grill just this one v.p. candidate within an inch of all our lives? Is anyone grilling Biden? If history books and my memory serve, no one grilled or even paid much attention to Garner, Wallace, Truman, Barkley (who?), Nixon, Johnson, Humphrey, Agnew, Ford, Rockefeller, Mondale, Bush the elder, Quayle, Gore or Cheney, did they? Not to mention Biden.

So, please. ENOUGH. Let's discuss ISSUES. Remember them? The things that actually matter in terms of who we elect? Please.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 2:20 PM

Considering the hurricane that utterly devastated Galveston on September 8, 1900 (details here), it seems particularly frightening to consider what Ike might be like today and this weekend. The path is eerily similar but Ike's size actually seems wider. At leat 6,000 people were killed in Galveston and, altogether, the hurricane killed more than any the Johnstown Flood, the San Francisco Earthquake, the 1938 New England Hurricane and the Great Chicago Fire combined. It's alarming to think that some residents aren't leaving when you consider what the consequences can be. Even non-alarmist weather guru Alan Sullivan thinks it's going to be pretty bad due to the water surge which may reach 25 feet according to some estimates. (That's like four normal height men standing on top of each other.) He says "[m]any structures will fail in the prolonged wave action of Ike. Don’t be shy about summoning help now, during the last few hours in which it might be possible." The excessively alarmist coverage of the last few hurricanes may have lessened the probability of many people taking them seriously this time. I hope this will be over reaction too.

Incidentally, just in case there aren't enough controversies and arguments about things like pigs and lipstick and resumé substance, apparently the intensity of some of this fall's hurricanes may be on account of the relatively cool summer we've had this year and the interplay of various water and air temperatures and moistures. Oh boy.

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Permalink | 1 comment(s) | posted by jau at 1:36 PM

Thursday, September 11, 2008
Lipstick and pigs
I have to say that I think it's a ridiculous phrase no matter who uses it or about what. But what was Obama thinking to use the word lipstick at all right now, only ten days after Palin's popular speech? More to the point, why isn't he completely focusing on McCain? Why isn't he saying over and over that voting for McCain/Palin is like continuing the Bush administration? Why is he engaging in personality politics? There are important and serious issues for voters to weigh and this election shouldn't come down to who is better liked. And Obama shouldn't be playing into that possibility.

And although his use of the pig/lipstick analogy was silly, it was also neither meaningless nor irrelevant. He wants hundreds of millions of Americans to trust his judgment enough to elect him president. So either he didn't realize what effect the phrase would have (in which case his perception is questionable) or he did realize it and used it anyway (in which case he was abandoning his avowed intent to keep above the silly fray and was exercising questionable judgment). (Which is not unlike the whole Jeremiah Wright fuss, come to think of it. He says he attended Wright's church for twenty years, during which Wright said and wrote many of the things he says and writes now. He says Wright was a close friend and mentor. So either he didn't hear what Wright said and wrote (in which case he was wearing his iPod the whole time or just being inattentive or maybe not actually attending church when he said he was) or he did hear what Wright said and wrote (in which case he was exercising very bad judgment in continuing to ally himself with Wright given his political plans).)

But back to the pig and lipstick. I was almost able to blame extemporaneous speechifying and on-the-stump tiredness for Obama using the silly phrase. It seemed foolish to have used it and the video shows him pausing and seeming to consider whether to say what he's about to say. He could have skipped right over to the fish wrapped in newspaper analogy, after all. But last night on the David Letterman Show, Obama wasn't the least bit apologetic or embarrassed or regretful. Instead, he clarified the goofy thing by saying that the pig represented McCain's policies and therefore the lipstick was Palin (as in: you can't pretty up their policies). But for the life of me I can't figure out why he didn't just smile and say something along the lines of "silly me for engaging in schoolyard taunts, now let's get back to serious discussion of the (very serious) issues we have to confront."

Why isn't Obama asserting (re-asserting, actually) the dignity and seriousness that excited so many of us because he seemed to be bringing a new kind of politics and politician smack dab in the middle of the new election? If he doesn't get back to that and if he continues these nervous and, let's face it, nasty, little jabs, it will indicate that he may just be the same old politics in new sheep's clothing and all those many of us may have to accept being deeply disappointed.

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 9:29 AM

Joseph Vitale, one of 2996
Reprinted from 9/11/06 and 9/11/07. My very small part in bloggers' tribute to the 2996 is posting Joshua Vitale's profile originally published in the NYTimes on 10/28/01.

Joshua Vitale and Ina Weintraub had been best friends since they were seventh graders in Syosset, on Long Island. Two years ago, when they were 26, Mr. Vitale made a confession as they left the movies. " He said he'd been in love with me for many years and that if he didn't tell me this now he would always regret it," Ms. Weintraub said. "I was so blown away I didn't talk to him for three months. "When the dust settled, the couple's life together quickly fell into place. They got engaged and moved into an apartment in Great Neck, N.Y. Mr. Vitale, who had been a wanderer, a party animal and something of a lost soul for much of his 20's, got a job at Cantor Fitzgerald's trading desk."Once we got together it was like we were shooting for the stars," Ms. Weintraub said. "We were so happy."

Two days before Sept. 11, [2001,] the couple tried to get tickets to the United States Open tennis tournament, without success. Josh said: 'Forget the Open. Why don't we go to the zoo?'" Ms. Weintraub said. The couple communed with the gorillas at the Bronx Zoo, and then Mr. Vitale, his wandering instincts intact, found a path where they had a picnic together. "There was nothing left unsaid between us," Ms. Weintraub said. " He knew how much I loved him and I will always know how much he loved me."

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Permalink | 0 comment(s) | posted by jau at 8:23 AM