Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This is a heck of a hammer. A primer on the garbage social engineering and rotten regulatory horseplay which helped create the current economic crisis. It may not be there when you click through, though. Apparently Obama's corporate backers have started playing whack-a-mole on copies of this, on account of some copyrighted music used in the background. Someone's working on replacing the copyrighted stuff with public domain music.

I just had the opportunity to organize my thoughts on the bailout failure & the Pelosi speech, which I'm basically cutting-and-pasting from a comment over at Jason's blog.

Think of it this way: the Republican congressional fence-sitters were being asked to do something which violated their principles & their own understanding of their constituents' opinions. Then they were told by the individuals on the other side who were soliciting this marginal betrayal of their principles and their constituents "oh, yes, and by the way? we're going to use your aid as a club to beat you over the head with in the press."

Speaker Pelosi stood up & told the Republican waverers that there was *no* cover for them in voting for the bill. It was a violation of their principles, against the reported will of their constituents, and on top of that, the Democratic leadership was promising to use their aye votes against them in the coming campaign.

She changed the equation from '(claimed national interest + bipartisan cover) - (principles + constituent opinion) = 0' to 'claimed national interest - (principles + constituent opinion + partisan PR shitstorm)= LOSE' with that speech.

Hell, now that I've laid it out myself, I would have changed my vote, too. I wager the only reason Peterson voted 'aye' was that he's retiring, and he doesn't need to give a damn. The equation works out for him - his expected successor G.T. is running around yelling his opposition to the bailout as loud as his lungs will allow.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh, and by the way? True Blood is a mess of an adaptation. Very disappointing. Tonally all over the place, and way too strident & shrill for the source material. Part of the charm of the Southern Vampire books was the dry, underplayed country humor & setting. The books are very much flyover country material. The HBO adaptation's tone is closer to "Anita Blake" cut with a Hollywood-style condescension towards Southern Gothics. Oversexed with an emphasis on trailer-freakery. It's like a trash-off between the unsympathetic, predatory, amoral supporting cast and the incidental vampires that just kill people and feed off the bodies.
Took a break off from politics last weekend, and went down to Lancaster County to spend some time with old roommates & celebrate Big Dave's birthday. I lasted until Saturday morning before I went out for a 'walk' to find the closest thing to a morning paper & see how the debate went.

Back to the phones tonight.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gurren Lagann is the best thing Gainax has ever done, bar none. It's like FLCL without all the emo and motormouth, Abenobashi without the self-indulgent genre-parody, Evangelion without the clinical depressive at the helm. It's almost uniformly gorgeous (excepting of course the infamous fourth episode, which really was just a bad-art episode, all things being equal), endlessly enthusiastic, *serious-minded*, smart, quick-footed, well-structured, and just flat-out fun. It is an almost-perfect mecha anime.

Now if market gotterdammerungs were only susceptible to deus ex Spiral Power...

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The Glorious Mirrorball, folks. He and his staff will be here for the next four years and change, if you so wish it.

Of course, Palin's people managed to start their message off with a bad typo, so YMMV.
Well, it's been a quiet week in Puddle Soonbegone, on the edge of karst country. I got a call on my answering machine when I got home last night, from my opposite number asking me to vote for the Glorious Mirrorball. Interesting presentation, a good deal more tribal & demanding than our approach, which emphasizes the merit of our candidates over any direct request for the recipient's vote. I'm divided over whether their approach is tactically more effective. The professionals say that you do need to actually straight-out ask for the voter's vote, explicitly. We tend to talk about "support" rather than baldly laying out the v-word.

It's not a happy thing, calling and interrupting private lives for tiny fragments, which put together into the whole, might possibly add up into some sort of transient public advantage - if everybody down the line has done the right thing, maybe. I suppose it's simpler if you hold some sort of corporatist or collectivist ideal: that it's the duty of the vanguard to lead the proletariat, or something about the masses uniting to throw of the shackles of etcetera, or the soul of the nation uniting to throw off the chains of international capitalism. Fascists are, after all, ideologically better suited to harassing the common man into dropping his private concerns and concentrating on the wider arena. To the individualist, what they were doing before you called them *is* the proper and right use of what little time they have. Any possible cause to which you might direct their precious time and attention will be, at best, of secondary importance.

This is why these campaign seasons should be sharp, furious, and above all, short. It's just a shame that it takes so long to get a GOTV operation up to speed. There's no such thing as a running start.

I tried listening to the AM station in town. AM radio is so low-tech, and kind of hard to listen to. There's all that atmospheric buzz, and the ads are mostly schmuckbait for goldbugs, far as I can tell.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Argh. I was arguing with a retired instructor in international law on Friday about Palin's knowledge or lack thereof of the subject, but it seems we were both arguing from false premises. ABC chopped the hell out of that interview. Naked bias. Every afternoon I drive into State College to make campaign calls, listening to NPR news is like listening to the opposition's summation of the day's events. They're barely pretending any more.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ye gods. It's the Obama Nation's very own fish symbol! How very, very - wait a minute, is this a Republican dirty trick? Doesn't look like it at first blush. No hits on Snopes yet, though.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Useful list of Palin rumors & some attempts at explanation.

Link stolen from the Instapundit, as has some others recently. Hey, it's getting to be busy around here.
Michael Yon article on the Kajaki engineering convoy mission last week, with impressive photographs from a combat photographer who was with 3 Para during the fighting that cleared the Taliban positions along and around the convoy route.

Friday, September 05, 2008

John Judis thinks that Obama a) implicitly rejected the community organizer approach to problem-solving in the late Eighties as he left Chicago for law school and b) did so because he thought that Alinsky-style "self-interest against entrenched power" led directly to squalid, irrational, racist identity politics. I think it's a brilliant attempt to project Judis' own analysis of Alinsky's anti-politics onto the perfect ideological mirror which is Barrack Obama, but I can't say I'm convinced. All the actual quotes from Obama are oblique and abstract, which could easily be re-intrepreted by an unsympathetic auditor as an orthodox left-political argument in the traditional manner of old-school Fabian socialism, instead of the almost neo-conservative critique which Judis wants Obama to have embraced.

But the stuff about Alinskian community organizations like SON/SOC degenerating into blatant white-flight race-baiting is interesting and new information, at least to me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Well, I'm here at work waiting on a DNS propagation issue for a botched server switch, and contemplating my 8 AM customer support shift starting later this morning, and wondering if I should just skip going home whenever we actually get some action on the DNS thing.

Caffeine. I need caffeine.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This is the very definition of cool. But it's also a nasty sign of just how out-of-control southern Afghanistan is. We've almost won in Iraq, but Afghanistan is a nasty, unpalatable mess. One of the worst problems is that we can't put that much more in-country more than what's already there, for fear of collapsing the various extremely tenuous supply conduits into the country. The Russians have just shut down the northern supply route, and the one through Pakistan is going through the heart of what's shaping up to be a really ferocious tribal war. I'd say civil war, but there's precious little central government in the NWFP for anybody to rebel against. Right now, it looks like the militias of one tribe or coalition of clans against the Taliban and the militias of the other tribe or coalition of clans. (I don't understand the cultural structure of the NWFP enough to tell if the two "tribes" I've seen mentioned are exhaustive, or just the particular combatants in the dogfight.)
Check out the blackshirt brigade. This is the world you made: faceless goons spraying poison in the face of octogenarians as a form of political expression.

The modern freikorps at play in the streets of St. Paul.
So the Republican campaign office in State College is a cramped set of rooms above a child-friendly toy store on Allen Street. Down Allen a half-block is the Obama regional headquarters. When the press reported this fact, I had assumed that the Obama people had snapped up that storefront that the Bush-Cheney people used back in 2004, right on the street, friendly open full-length windows - used to be a video shop that specialized in anime rentals back in the day. Surprisingly, this is not the case. The landowners have leveled the old building - a fifties semi-classic hugging the line between charming chrome-tailfin and concrete brutalist monstrostity - and are in the process of putting up a brand new two-story monstrosity in its place.

No, the Obama people went and rented the old AT&T building, a frowning, severe, two-story monument in dark brown brick and smoked glass. It's as inviting as a bunker, an impression which they're trying to off-set with a cheery explosion of posters and hand-written notices plastered all over the front door, which looks like it could hold off Summer Glau for at least a minute or two.

But they're definitely burning the midnight oil in there. Lights were on after 8 PM on Labor Day.
Dude. Palin's a hacktivist. Well, OK, not really. But she's got sharp knuckles and doesn't pull punches. Given yesterday's news about her precocious engaged-and-knocked-up seventeen-year-old daughter and this, I'm going to upgrade the "Heinlein juvenile heroine" to "mid-career Heinlein protagonist". Let's just stay away from the Number of the Beast, though, OK? That'd be going a bit too far.

Via the usual.