Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Enlightened Electorate, and a New Respect

Two stories here:

First, an interesting Zogby poll of Obama voters. In this poll, they didn't seem, well, very knowledgable. More than half (way more than half) could not identify which party controlled Congress. Seventy-two percent did not know that Biden had quit a previous campaign over charges of plagiarism. Almost 90% did not know about Obama's stance on the coal industry.

They were pretty informed on Sarah Palin, though. Most were convinced (falsely) that Palin said she could see Russia from her window. And over 90% knew that she had a pregnant teenage daughter.

This is not about how dumb Obama voters are; there are obviously Obama voters out there who are much more informed about our government (although the majority of this sample were high-school and college grads). And there were plenty of examples of McCain supporters during the campaign who were most likely dropped on their heads in the delivery room. It's about the meme that by and large, Obama voters were somehow hipper and smarter than those racist Neanderthals who voted for the other guy. The idea that Obama voters are more focused on the "real issues" is maybe not so true after all.

Second, the #2 guy at Al Qaeda (vice-president? deputy CEO? assistant to the regional manager?) used a racial epithet in a message to President-elect Obama, referring to him (along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice) as "house negroes."

And you thought we were going to be respected now . . . awwww . . .

Monday, November 17, 2008

Michael who?

So we're riding in the car a few days ago, listening to some Christmas music that I had playlisted on the iPod. The usual stuff, of course, but I like to find some more obscure stuff if I can (how 'bout "Dominic the Christmas Donkey" or James Brown's "Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto"?). So a mashup comes on, mixing Lennon's "Imagine" with a very young Michael Jackson singing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." It's actually pretty well done; try Googling Santastic II; it'll take you to a bunch of interesting holiday downloads.

THe kids asked who that girl was that was singing in the song. Anya and I laughed, and thus began a rather long discussion about who Michael Jackson was, how he was a superstar both as a child and an adult, how he had been fabulously wealthy (we didn't go into detail about his rather spectacular fall from grace). The girls were particularly fascinated by his pictures that we showed them on the internet. Emma still has trouble understanding what happened to his nose and how can he still sing without a nose and why did he not want his nose anymore.

The saddest thing for me, though, was the fact that just a little over 10 years ago, Michael Jackson was wall to wall world famous. There wasn't a kid on this planet (and probably a few others) that didn't know who he was. And yet here were two little girls (4 and 8 1/2) who had no clue of his identity--none at all. What happened?

Obviously, Michael was a talented individual. Songwriter, dancer, performer--he did it all, and sold millions, if not billions of records. But was his talent that deep? Will he be regarded as a classic? Some hugely popular artists withstand the test of time. I predict that we will still be listening to the music of Lennon-McCartney "many years from now;" the same goes for the song stylings of Bing Crosby or Sinatra.
I am not so sure that Britney or L'il Wayne will be part of anyone's classic canon down the road. American cultural history is apparently littered with "sensations" that find themselves beached and forgotten when the popular tide recedes. Who really remembers Paul Whiteman, or George W. Peck?

I actually feel sad for Michael Jackson, as strange and creepy as he was (is). It is amazing what fame can do to people. Sometimes the changes aren't just internal.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vincent Taylor

A while back, I posted about a guy named Vincent Taylor. He was a guy in some unfortunate circumstances who found himself stuck in Rayville. He helped us out with some odd jobs around the house. Finally, we helped him catch a bus back to Seattle so he could be back with his family.

I thought about him every once in a while--did he make it all the way back to Seattle? How was he doing? Did he reunite with his family? I was not sure that I would ever hear from him again.

Well, my wife has been dabbling around on Facebook recently. One morning, she gets a message from--you guessed it--Vincent Taylor. Seems that he has landed on his feet back in Seattle with 6 months of sobriety under his belt. Awesome! The guy has a whole slew of friends on the Facebook site, too.

And as I was pasting in the html code for my original post, I realized that he had left a comment back in October.

So now I'm the one with tears in my eyes. They say miracles do occur in this program; I don't doubt that for a moment.

Mr. Taylor, thank you. One day at a time . . .

Monday, November 10, 2008


This Is Some Funny Stuff.

No, I don't have those mad skilz as a text hero. But I did find these cool texting acronyms for old folks, over at McSweeney's:

BIMD: Back in my day

ROFLACGU: Rolling on the floor laughing and can't get up

ML2N?: Matlock tonight?

OMGWTF: Oh my. Gee whiz. Tutti-frutti.

MBDC: My bad. Damn cataracts.

WIOLATS: Wore it out like a turn signal.

GTALNINFTCW: Gee, thanks a lot, now I'll never finish that crossword.

Not that I'm old or anything.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nicole's blog

Nika has started her own blog! For a truly brain-bending tour of the mind of an 8 year-old, you should check it out.

You'll swear someone slipped something in your drink.

President-elect Obama

Obviously, Tuesday was an historic day in the United States. Congratulations to President-elect Obama on his victory.

I was supporting McCain (could you tell? could you tell?), so this is not the outcome I wanted to see. But it is not the end of the world. I sincerely hope that Obama can bring some of the change that he talked about to our country. I want to believe that he actually has a viable and articulate vision, and that he (and the Congress) won't take our society too far to the left.

At the very least, this election marks a new chapter in race relations in this country. President-elect Obama was elected our first black president, largely because of white voters. With the apparent demise of the Bradley effect, and the obvious mischaracterization of many whites as bitter closet racists, I believe the idea of Amerikkka can be laid to rest. Racism did not end on the night of November 4th; perhaps it never will. But the change in this great country of ours is vast and powerful and positive. I hope that as a nation we can continue to rise above our past failings.

So now the right side of the blogosphere will enjoy a season in exile. It will be interesting to see how people react. From what I can see, most of the blogs have been offering their congratulations. And I'm not seeing a lot of gloating from the left, although Chris Matthews emphatically stated that his job as a journalist was to make sure that the Obama presidency succeeded.

(BTW, here's a piece from the Washington Post which talks about that nonexistent media bias. That's right--the Post actually admits [post-election, of course] that their coverage heavily favored Obama. Isn't that special?)

How do we keep from descending to the level of the "Bush=Hitler" robots who populated the left the last 8 years? I think that we have an opportunity to offer criticism in a way that many on the left seemed incapable or unwilling to do. I hope that we can express our disagreements in unified pro-American tones, rather than anti-Obama screeds. There should be no conservative counterparts of Bill Maher, Michael Moore, or Al Franken (who's still losing apparently). There is a vast difference between criticism and personal hatred. And don't talk to me about Ann Coulter, at least not until the day she is idolized by Hollywood.

Perhaps this will mark the beginning of an impressive and important change in American history. I hope so, like many others in this country; but I'm smart enough not to be holding my breath.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Wife, American Citizen

This morning Anya and I drove over to the high school gym and cast our votes. It was Anya's first time voting as a United States citizen; I think she was actually excited. She said she had voted before in elections in Russia; the first time she voted, they presented her with a flower. I made sure I told the poll workers that today was her first time voting as a US citizen; they smiled, but alas, no flower.

We voted for President and Senator. And there were about 5 or 6 propositions (amendments), too, all worded so as to completely confuse anyone who read them. I think Anya took her time and read them, because she was in there a lot longer than I was. This makes her about 150% more informed than I was.

So. A flower to my lovely, Russian-born wife.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tomorrow's THE day

At long last, we come to an end (I hope) of this dismal election season. I hope that things can be resolved tomorrow night without the controversy that marked the 2000 election. I have to wonder about the charges of voter fraud that have been made, and how that will play out. I hope that these allegation have been political BS as usual.

When Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, there were fears that the New World Order was about to be made good. There were UN forces massing in Mississippi, unmarked troop transports spotted all over the Southeast, and of course, the infamous Black Helicopters everywhere.

When Bush was elected in 2000 (and more so at the time of his re-election in 2004), the talk was of loss of our basic rights--you know, political speech shut down, the FBI monitoring your library habits, Bush=Hitler, etc.

None of these things happened. And despite this being the "most important election of our lifetime" (aren't they all?), no matter who is elected tomorrow, I don't think the country will look that much different 4 or 8 years from now.

This article talks about how a conservative might respond to an Obama presidency. "The actions of the left over the last eight years, and the behavior of Obama's supporters and the press over the past few months has made me angry," he writes. "It's not Obama himself who fuels my anger - it's the way the media covers for him. It's the fact that if he wins, I'll spend the next four years being accused of racism for disagreeing with his policy proposals."

It will be interesting to see how our MSM relates to Obama (if he is indeed the winner). My guess is that it will be quite a contrast to the last 8 years. Which brings up this, as a temptation, at least:

This is surely small of me, but if Obama wins, I plan on giving him as much of a chance as the Democrats gave George Bush. I will gleefully forward every paranoid anti-Obama rumor that I see, along with YouTube footage of his verbal missteps. I will laugh and email heinous anti-Obama photoshop jobs, and maybe even learn photoshop myself to create some. I'll buy anti-Obama books, and maybe even a "Not My President" t-shirt. I'm sure that the mainstream bookstores won't carry them, but I'll be on the lookout for anti-Obama calendars and stuff like that. I will not wish America harm, and if the country is hurt (economically, militarily, or diplomatically) I will truly mourn. But i will also take some solace that it occurred under Obama's watch, and will find every reason to blame him personally and fan the flames.

Not my cup of tea, necessarily, but surely tempting and attractive in a way. Or maybe these are the new rules of engagement. I sincerely hope not; the last 8 years of Bush hatery has been tedious, predictable and far from edgy.

Jerome Cole,writing about Obama Derangement Syndrome, adds this polite request:

Presidents are just people and have all the faults that go along with being human. They are also dealing with a huge number of nearly intractable problems while under intense scrutiny from all quarters. Shouldn't we be more forgiving of their mistakes? Even if we can't bring ourselves to be less critical, being less shrill would also be quite welcome.

Well. I don't know how tomorrow night will go; I suspect that a definitive call will not come until early Wednesday. I look forward to something else to occupy my blogging for a change. We won't shed our political fur at the end of the day, but it is my hope that we can set aside some of our pointed and shrill differences.

Less shrill would be real nice.