Thursday, October 30, 2008

Heaven Help Us

Over at Enrevanche, Barry's post today struck a nerve. What follows is my comment, posted over at his place.

See? See, Buck especially? See? This is why I'm fed up with my former party. This is the same BS as claiming that Obama wants to teach kindergartners about sex. Low, dirty, shameful lies. Anyone who allows, "I'm (insert name here), and I approved this message," to go on the air with something like that can't be trusted to wash windshields at a stoplight, let alone serve in public office.

What shall I do? I dislike Obama's policies just slightly less than I despise McCain's, and now Dole's, tactics. Sitting on my file cabinet is a flag flown over the capital for me by Dole. Like Tommy Lee Jones's character from In the Valley of Elah I am tempted to fly it . . . upside down.

God help us all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mountain Bound

Light blogging this week. Mid-term grades were due. Light this weekend. Supposed to do two demo jumps: high school football game Friday night; college game Saturday afternoon. Both in the NC mountains. Neither likely to happen with the rain and low ceilings rolling in, but I'm due a trip to the mountains anyway. May just have to cuddle up and stay in. Life is rough. ;-)

See ya'll on Monday. Maybe.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Banned SNL skit

Apparently, reaction of Dems to this skit was so strong that NBC pulled it and is exerting every effort to make it disappear. But this is not 1984. Yet.

Click on the link. Go see it while you can.

Hat tip: JPL

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More Alike Every Day

"You think your personal tragedy makes you special? It doesn't. What it does is make you like everyone else."
--A third-hand paraphrase of the truest thing I've heard in the last few months.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Al Smith Dinner

This post pretty much duplicates one over at Buck's place, but I don't think there's a whole lot of overlap in our readers, so hat tip to Buck and here goes.

The following two clips from last night's dinner in NYC are worth watching. McCain's is worth watching because if he gives up politics, he could have a job as the next Bob Hope. His writers are awesome, and his delivery not only does them justice, but makes good lines even better.

Obama, not so much. Obama had decent lines, though probably none so good as McCain's, and then his delivery was just off--as if he were reading the stuff for the first time, and getting it with the crowd.

At any rate, here are both clips. Compare and judge for yourself. Heck, McCain's is funny enough to watch twice.

Abraham Obama


From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

An art piece that combines the face of President Lincoln with the face of Sen. Barack Obama can remain on the walls of local businesses.

. . . . . . . .

After a short investigation, the department decided that "Abraham Obama" is art and not a political endorsement, which would have violated city sign ordinances.

"It was decided that it was a mural," said Sue Matz, revocable permits coordinator for Colorado Springs.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Awesome Photos

I'm not even sure how I arrived at this site, but it's worth a visit for the photos.

Photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand will bring his work back to the United States - to New York City for the first time in 2009. Aiming to inspire people to think globally about sustainable living, Arthus-Bertrand has been photographing unique views of our planet, seen from the sky, since 1994 - and has produced an exhibit of over 150 4-ft. by 6-ft. prints which will be on display in New York City at the World Financial Center Plaza and along the Battery Park City Esplanade from May 1, 2009 to June 28, 2009. When completed in New York City, the Earth From Above exhibit will also move on to California in 2010.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jim Cramer on Colbert

After watching JT on Colbert, I decided to catch yesterday's Colbert. The guest was Jim Cramer. To see the earlier meltdown that Colbert refers to in the interview, pop over to Barry's place and see this post. Both are worth watching.

"My last prediction that was cut off was that your ATM will stop working. You'll go and there'll be no cash." --Jim Cramer

James Taylor on Cobert

Remember that trip back across the country in May? The one that included a stop for a James Taylor concert in Raleigh? Well, my daughter pointed out to me that he was on The Colbert Report a week ago. To watch the full episode, click here. The JT interview starts at about 15 minutes and runs to the end.


Why I'm Leaning Toward Obama

Leaning, mind you. Much can change in the next few weeks.

There is an axiom that goes, “Show me a young conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains.” (And it was not Winston Churchill who said it, though he’s frequently given credit.) If it’s true, that axiom, then like most of my life, my politics are backwards.

I’ve been a lifelong Republican. I think, for the most part, I still agree with most Republican principles, though these days, I consider myself an Independent, sick to death of the false dichotomies which rule two-party politics. Politicians of either major party I find to be a lot like too many evangelical Christians I know, backed by a philosophy and principles I can understand and appreciate, but that have too little effect on their daily conduct.

I know that some people stress that a vote for party rather than person is, in effect, a proper vote for those principles. I’ve bellied up and bought into that in the past. I don’t think I can this year. As much as I find myself on the side of Republican principles, I don’t think I can find myself on the side of Senator John McCain. I think that probably, once upon a time, there was a man and warrior named John McCain who would say exactly the same thing about the person the politician has become.

The reason an ad hominem argument is considered a logical fallacy is that it substitutes attacks on an opponent’s character for worthwhile disputation on the issue(s). Admittedly, in a presidential race, character is an issue. Sadly though, every attack I’ve seen thus far (in mainstream ads or chain mails) on Obama’s character has done more to turn me against the attacker than against Obama. The end result has been to make me a somewhat reluctant Obama defender. And in those instances where the attacks have come from the official McCain campaign apparatus—the ones that finish with “I’m John McCain, and I approved this message”—those have convinced me, in the end, that McCain made a conscious decision at some point that honor was a thing he could dispense with in order to win the White House.

Earlier today, I got a link to a video from a good friend. I’ve not hyperlinked the foregoing phrase because I want to qualify the video before anyone heads off to it. About the most insightful thing you’ll find on the page with the video may be this comment left by someone who had seen the video earlier: “Just one more proof that racist, idiotic ideas are not the province of one race or gender. This guy is a nutcase and his momma was a nutcase if she instilled vicious racism into her son. Sickening.” I couldn't have said it better. While certain historical facts contained in the video rant you’ll find there may be truthful, the interpretation of them, laden with prejudice, name calling, and utterly despicable inferences about the character of a woman the speaker never knew, are worse than sickening.

And, as near as I can tell, a number of the historical assertions made about specific events are true, but the conclusions one draws from those events can vary widely. I don’t recommend watching the video, but if you do, and if you’re curious to know more about the facts behind it, I would suggest going here, to a January 2007 article in the Daily Mail. The gist of that article is that most of the assertions in the more recent video are true. So? (Of course, the Daily Mail itself deserves some qualification as a source. I had thought of lamenting that journalism is not what it used to be, but then I decided, more likely, it is exactly what it has always been. See here for information on the Daily Mail, including details of more than one episode of its having been sued for running stories that were less than factual. So it goes.)

I can hear some of my friends already protesting a double standard. “How can I take McCain to task,” they ask, “for furthering falsehoods about Obama, and yet let Obama off the hook for being less than truthful about his father?” Well, how shall I answer? Like so: In the one case the falsehoods are designed to make a political opponent appear a less decent, less admirable person than he probably is, and to attribute to him actions he didn’t take and views he doesn’t hold; in the other, the falsehoods are designed to cast a family member, the teller’s own father, in a better light than he probably deserves. Can you seriously question the difference in degree of these two falsehoods? For me, they are telling.

The argument can also be made that, in some ways, the somewhat mythical construct of father that Obama has offered to the public has more relevance to his character than does his true sire with all of his human flaws. Obama appears to have had a loving mother who, for whatever temptation she may have had to give Obama the brutal truth about the man who sired him (and I’m sure there were moments when she was tempted), gave him instead an image of a father that gave us the Obama whose fate voters will decide in November. The truth is that both are relevant: the real Barack Sr. and the maternally constructed absent-but-better man each had a role to play in the creation of Barack II.

The Daily Mail article offers two good reasons to suspect this, both equally related to the roots of Obama’s ambition:

A family friend said: "He is haunted by his father's failures. He grew up thinking of his father as a brilliant intellectual and pioneer of African independence only to learn that in Western terms he was basically a drunken lecher."

This ugly truth, say friends, has made Mr Obama ruthlessly determined to use every weapon that he has to succeed, including the glossily edited version of his father's story.
And the article's observation on a passage from The Audacity of Hope:
This tome contains one telling paragraph, in a section in which he fumbles to try to justify his abrupt leap into the national political arena: he is, he says, chronically 'restless'.

"Someone once said that every man is trying to either live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes, and I suppose that may explain my particular malady."
So, bottom line, while I might be a Republican at heart, in another month, I’m likely to cast a vote for character, and I find Obama’s more admirable, in the end, than McCain’s, or, more accurately, less suspect than what McCain, whatever he may once have been, has become. Because let’s face it, American politics of late has become even more a science of what to vote against than what to vote for.

Perhaps it was always so.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

So Many of Me

[Note: It was a dark week last week, and this was written in the middle of it. But things got better by week's end. Exercise, I think, may have cured it--helped anyway. Did Crossfit workouts four of five days (more about that later). Too sore to be depressed. Thanks Lex.]
There are so many of me these days.

There is the teacher. He enjoys what he does. He enjoys his students, the freshmen particularly. He enjoys the works. The craftsmanship of Shakespeare never ceases to astonish. Things yet to comment on, unnoticed by others, and no time in which to do it.

There is the colleague. A recluse, mostly, these days. In early, office door closed. There late, office door closed. Wan smile and untrue answers protocol requires of polite questions. Deflection as defense against the rarer real concern. Never before so private. Never.

There is the neighbor. Friendly enough. That guy walking the beautiful dog morning and night. Politely conversational, yet unprying. Hardly gregarious, yet kind enough. Comfortable. Gone early most days. Home in the late afternoon and then home all through the evening. Quiet. Gone nearly every weekend. No one knows where.

There is the father. What to say? “The most important thing a father can do . . .” wasn’t enough. Now just to stay. To ride it out. To one day nap on a couch with a grandchild’s sleeping head tucked under his chin as once its mother’s was. Sustaining vision.

There is the son. There are two even. One almost his father’s clone, in mannerisms, in voice, in aspirations and resignation. Not wounded there, whatever Eldredge may think. Exception that, in so many ways. The other, wounded to the core in ways he’ll likely never fully understand and labeled “angry” over it.

There is the soon-to-be-ex. Him, I have no idea how to describe at all. He just wants it over. He isn’t bitter; just sad. He isn’t determined; just resigned. He wouldn’t go back; nothing has changed. He failed, somehow, at the one thing he thought most important. He isn’t procrastinating; he is paralyzed. He will be seeking help for this, for inertia he must yet cannot overcome. As fascinating, that, as psychosomatic pain. Phobia in another form. Shameful. Infuriating. And no object for disdain or fury but self.

Lou was right.

But there is one more. Tender. Hopeful. Sheltered. Understood. Under repair. If not whole, then at least gathering the pieces. Focused on, mindful of, longing for the one place where everything works.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin as Palin

It seems only fair, if I'm going to post Tina Fey's genuinely wonderful skits as Palin, to also post this video, edited for The Huffington Post, of some of Palin's own genuinely solid moments in past debates:

I think this is likely to be one of the most, if not the most, widely watched debates in American political history. It may be that there is nothing less than the election itself at stake. I don't believe the McCain/Palin ticket can win it tonight, but I think they could see it slip completely beyond their grasp if Palin doesn't redeem herself. High stakes.

Tina Fey is a Genius

Tonight's debate will no doubt either help dispel this image or seal it for good. In the meantime, enjoy:

Hat tip: Barry

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Under All

With the Air Force vs Navy game approaching, it seems the Navy's exchange cadets in Colorado Springs came up with an answer to the new Air Force slogan, "Above All." Over at Lex's place, he posted this today.
Now that is potentially the best inter-service spirit mission I've seen in 31 years.

Guest House

There are those to whom explaining ourselves is useless. There are those to whom we can explain ourselves and rejoice that they get it. And, for some lucky few of us, there are those who get it so well that they explain us to ourselves. This, from such a one to rescue me from my own all-too-frequent-lately dark days:

Of course there are days where you would feel depressed. You have had the rug ripped out from under your feet. It's the shock of facing of reality versus expectations you once had. At 49, you would have thought you would be willfully sharing your retirement and second career with the original Campbell Clan under one roof, that you would be there to coach into flight your youngest as she begins preparations for college, that when you came home there would be someone who had likely at least started formulating an idea about supper and who could not wait to see you, you thought you would be Christmas shopping for your wife and with your wife, you thought you would still be jumping out of airplanes (THAT is what is wrong with you right there), and you thought you would be living in a place surrounded by good friends. Even your transitional aspirations of a yellow walled cottage with a porch have shifted considerably.

Instead, you are working for peanuts, up to your eyeballs in debt, getting a divorce, living in a white walled box with just your dog, working for a place that pretends to be more military than it really is, you have no idea where you'll be next year, there is no warm body in your bed (regardless of whether it puts out or not), and when you walk in to your apartment it is the wrong kind of quiet. Both your kids live far, you are constantly shifting your schedule to put others' needs before your own, the weight of tax and divorce paperwork presses, student grading and curriculum planning presses, and day to day, you go without the healing touch of another human. Swats on the back don't count.
And with the diagnosis came a prescription:
You need to re-read Rumi's poem Guesthouse. It is just for times like these.
So, for those of you who've never read it, here is Rumi's "Guest House." Peace ya'll. Doc.
The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks