Thoughts on the Democratic debate, 2/4/16.
I held my nose and dove into the political quagmire a little earlier than I wanted to, because last night’s debate was touted as “likely one of the more substantial debates”. Alas, substance was lacking, as was real debate. Given what I’ve read over the past weeks, the same old porridge served up with a new topping.
First, the debate moderators. Maddow and Todd had great questions, but did not police the debate well enough. Sure, these are famous people. But they’re people. You can tell them to shut up, or you turn off their microphone. The A/V guys would love to do it. Disrespectful? Not as disrespectful as outstaying your welcome verbally. Skilled debaters thrive on limitation, the same as children. So exercise your authority.
The two candidates overall. Oh, how I’m let down. I’d like to get excited this election season; these two are a rum lot. I suppose because Clinton was considered such a strong candidate going into this contest, no really fine Democrats would throw their hat in. After all, because of ’08 she’s “owed” the nomination, right? Wrong. I’ve mentioned the Bob Dole nomination as a previous model. I find significant flaws in both Sanders and Clinton, flaws strong enough to give Republicans a reasonable chance.
Candidate Sanders first. He’s been my favorite, not because I believe he can win, but because there’s nothing wrong with having a leftward candidate to push the likely nominee to make leftward concessions in their platform. We’re allowed to dream, surely. Progressive remorse over Obama is huge and unappreciated. We desperately need some hope.
This is the first time I’ve sat through an entire debate with him, rather than just getting video bites. I am astonished at his verbatim repeats of his platforms. Instead of a One-Note Charlie, he’s like a Six- or Eight-Note Charlie. I can see why Hillary agreed to more debates. This behavior will mitigate against Bernie after one or two more events. Even the clueless media will pick up on it. They’re great notes, but he expresses them virtually identically each time.
For all his good ideas about domestic policies, the gap in his foreign policy knowledge is stark. Even moreso because he is a smart man, surely he understood this would be part of the job qualifications - and yet he STILL hasn’t got any good verbal comebacks for questions that are patently obvious. Come on, Bernie, at least baffle us with some bullshit. It’s better than tonight’s performance. It makes me question his overall judgment. More than anything else, this bothered me the most and makes me question all the fawning support.
Todd’s question about Afghanistan seemed to sail right by Sanders. I know what he was thinking, the ISIS solution of “Muslims fixing Muslim problems” would solve Afghanistan as well, but Sanders cannot assume everyone in America understands these nuances. Only on Todd’s prodding did he meld his ISIS comments with Afghanistan. This … imperviousness … alerted me to his age. I started looking for ‘senior moments’, and thought I caught the shade of a couple instances.
Sanders is what, 75? If Sanders was female, I might not worry so much. Women live longer with their wits intact. Yeah, yeah … reverse sexism on my part. But for men, 75-80 can see a lot of decline. Some might call it inappropriate to point it out, but it is important. That flexibility of mind and opinion can disappear quickly.
I won’t belabor his good points. You’ve heard them a hundred times already thanks to your friends (or former friends) on FB.
Last thing. This whole “I won’t attack Hillary” schtick. Oh, it gets applause. And my derision. He won’t attack her over email, but goes after her for not being a progressive? Drop the BS. Gloves on, or gloves off. Make up your mind, and take the lumps for your choice. Clinton accused you of a smear, and in the doubletalk you took advantage of an ill-chosen ‘out’ she provided you with, and changed the subject to ‘issues.’ I side with Clinton here. Say it, don’t spray it. You claim to be a man of integrity. You ducked this; I never would have. And I judge you wanting for this.
Candidate Clinton. After all these years in the public eye, you would think she would have achieved some eloquence. I can feel her fighting for words (remember, I was a teleprompter for years). Nodding her head, eyes cycling, trying to tack words together (oh so slowly) so as not to sound like a fool. Painful. At some points it felt like English was her second language. If nothing else, these debates (if she uses them wisely) can hone her vocal instrument. Last night was NOT a good performance.
You’ve seen the articles condemning her “shouting”, “shrill.” I suspect, given the Sanders speaking style, she feels she needs to surmount his volume in order to avoid being perceived as ‘weak.’ It seems to be totally throwing her off her game. She can be an ‘alpha dog’ without the testosterone, very simply. Well-timed quiet, considered responses would be amazing as answers to many of Sanders’ bellowed statements, and she still hasn’t twigged to that. I expect, given her personality, she feels she knows best and wouldn’t give the time of day to a speech-coach. She’s not going to come off well enough against a withering, foghorn Trump or a debate-skilled sniping Cruz. Rubio and she would end up waffling at each other, leaving us with another 50/50 tossup in the fall.
So her delivery of information is staccato, flawed … and reflects what comes across as terrible low self-esteem. Every Sanders answer, at the beginning of the debate, she wedged herself in with the “I did’s”. Nothing gets me more angry than a pushy interrupter. I find her current persona smarmy and insincere. And for what? A laundry list is a laundry list. Boring. Forgettable. TELL A STORY and ONE REMARKABLE, MEMORABLE ANECDOTE that indicates how your experience and knowledge overcomes Sanders’ lack (hopefully not ‘the sniper story’). Learn from Reagan (oh, the irony), it’s what people expect right now. In her flurry of “I did’s”, she made me realize how many cockups of the past she’s been around for (NAFTA, Iraq, financial crises, Benghazi, emails). She needs to seriously rethink how she relates her resume in debates. [For entertainment, check the ‘history’ tab on her Wikipedia page. Busy, busy revisionism. Frankly, I’m surprised Cruz hasn’t started a carpet-bombing campaign in the entry.]
Some quick comments: As was expressed to me by a young lady, once upon a time at a political event in ‘08 - ‘just because you have a vagina does not mean you are a progressive.’ You were against gay marriage before you were for it. Explain why. Be forthright for once. Shock us. You seriously get mad about being called ‘establishment’, and then you use Kissinger as a reference for the job? Kissinger. And not ‘establishment’. Kissinger?!! Am I in a time warp, parallel universe or something?
Then, is being called a moderate so bad, that you attack someone else and accuse them of a ‘smear’? Do you know how idiotic that sounds? All elections are won over turnout and who casts the widest net - towards the center. She wants far left support sans concessions so damned bad she’s willing to throw the middle under the bus? Fodder for the enemy. Terrible strategizing, if she’s doing any at all. And don’t start this “low blow” or “he’s being harsh” stuff. Either you’re a tough broad, or you’re not. Choose. Now.
A point that gave me hope of Clinton subtlety (a seemingly rare beast, and as such, should be appreciated even if mythical) - I was wondering why the hell she referenced Oklahoma City and McVeigh. That seemed a very weird instance to bring up. Very old - dating her own political history. Trying to avoid blaming Obama for in-country ISIS events? Then it dawned on me - could she be making a veiled threat towards the militia types here in America? Woe be to them if they try taking over more Federal lands under Clinton’s watch, methinks. Thatcher may have been the “Iron Lady”, but she’ll be history’s Rousey to Hillary’s Holm, if my assumption is correct.
I threw wadded-up socks at the television over this: “Wall Street guys trying to stop me”. Nice! A few days after a fundraiser WITH those Wall Street guys. I almost shut the TV off.
Loved Todd’s question about releasing the transcripts of the speeches for Goldman Sachs. Bang-zoom! Her face. If eyes could be lasers. She’s not a think-on-your-feet person, either. She could have turned this aside with, “Well, whether I talked to Goldman Sachs or the American Breast Cancer Association, I may have mentioned proprietary information which can’t be made public. Any release is up to them.” How neat that would have been! The irony here is … she complained of retroactive classification in the State Department. She’s retroactively classifying HER OWN SPEECHES now. Pot. Kettle. Black.
My sad conclusion: The Democratic Party offers us also-rans, the Republicans a circus side-show. I suppose we’ll have to settle for Clinton as our nominee eventually. She has too much clout behind her, and she’s been calling in markers like crazy all over media, entertainment and political circles. Even the NY Times is retweeting her talking points during the broadcast, as their editorialists cast doubts upon Sanders. I’m afraid New Hampshire will be Sanders’ high point, downhill from there. The whole ‘endorsement’ brouhaha. Too many new people, too fast, without enough organization. You can throw a lot of money at someone, but it doesn’t mean that someone will use it to best effect.
Sanders’ contention that the only way any of this matters - by throwing out the monied interests, bodily riding them out of the Beltway on a rail - is the true bottom line of this debate. And one of the few in which Clinton did NOT wedge herself in with a rejoinder. Her silence here spoke volumes. Very establishment GOP.
Here’s hoping she hires a speech coach. Now I have to get a barf bag out and sample a Republican debate, and write a similar piece.
Have a great evening. I need a drink.
Later: Suggested study material for Ms Clinton.
And our van blew its parts all over the highway on my way to the first client meet.
So my day’s sort of nuked. Links, commentary *if* I can today. Sorry!
Meetings this morning, but a commentary on the debates coming later.
I held my nose and dove into the Democratic debate last evening. One of those situations where my thoughts are dragging me kicking and screaming to the keyboard in order to mind-dump. See you all a bit later.
East of the Sun(set), West of the Moon.
Nice Marmot: Election Thoughts.
Depressing, but something you have to read. Dave’s comment: “Within ten years, I’m fairly certain it will be clear that things have become dramatically and unequivocally worse.” This reminds me of how we viewed the first Reagan Presidency, esp. when Kemp-Roth was passed. I was just getting out of college; a friend and I walked down along Nassau Street in Princeton, and as the deficit began to burgeon we discussed the fact that America was ‘over’. Given that experience, ten years may be too short; America is uniquely resistant to reality. We stutter and start, choke and hobble forward in this country. 20, 40 years on, the fetid breath of imminent extinction may generate effort, likely all too late. Humanity, nothing more than a might-have-been. Watch Nick Bostrom here.
Great piece, Dave.
Every client had a question this morning.
Links as I have time, now that I get to catch my breath a bit.
Discover Magazine: No, GM Mosquitoes Didn’t Start The Zika Outbreak.
Saw the original article on the ‘net, smelled more than one rat. A lot of allegations, with no discernible trail of breadcrumbs from one sensational fact to another. Jeremiah, your years of enforcing good skepticism paid off here.
euansemple: A plague of managers.
This makes me think of today’s project management software (a la Basecamp, Asana, Trello, etc.). Metadata is virtually required to make it all worthwhile; keeping the system up to date is a job in itself and kills production time for workers. Minimal solutions such as Slack seem the better bets to me.
SF New Mexican: Road extension stirs fears in Eldorado about increased crime and traffic.
“I’m not doing anything anyone should be alarmed about.” Every additional road, another wedge.
Speaker selection update.
Logitechs going back. Overdone thunderous bass, booming midrange and fragile tinny highs ... and nothing between those three. They sounded like music played through yogurt containers in the bottom of an empty ship.
Bought a pair of Mackie CR3‘s, and they sound fab. Not overbalanced in any of the three ranges (tweet, mid, woof). For entertainment purposes, they could use a subwoof. But for what I want them for (quiet background music and judging audio accurately), I’m pretty damned impressed so far. I can even hear the MP3 compression noise floor when turned up. Not as pleasing an overall sound as my old Bose MediaMates, but their accuracy for audio analysis is much better. After years of working with audio engineers, they’ve drummed two things into my head - clean highs and clean mids.
Possible caveats: They’re large. Almost the size of bookshelf speakers. And I have a bit of a channel thing going with them, I had to move the balance over to the left a bit when at quiet volumes. I’ll update if I feel the need to return these.
“How to tell you’ve taken a great photo.”
So, the Ferrari shot I posted yesterday, I put on Tumblr, Flickr and 500px. Four shares on Tumblr, 27 views two faves on Flickr, and fifteen ‘likes’/a pulse of 81.9 (and climbing)/44 views on 500px. And listed in “Popular”, the best of the selections.
But IS IT A GOOD PHOTOGRAPH? I like it, but its not where I want it to be, yet.
I can post a bad cellphone sunset and get likes and links out the wazoo. These sites are very poor judges of what makes a great photo.
Listen to your heart.
Finally have time to go in and re-edit some stuff from Concorso.
Love the thighs on this car, but not sure I’ve captured ‘em well enough. Crop from a full-rez 5DRS shot, colorized a bit and bokeh added. More experimentation needed.
SF Reporter: Was the disclosure of Acoma traditions exploitation or scholarship?
“... his decision to publish without consulting the Pueblo — even after promising he would do so — raises the question of an ethical or professional failure on his part.” There’s a turn-of-the-last-century arrogance about this, that goes beyond the moral/ethical question. The pueblos have their own native scholars, museums, research facilities. This history, this knowledge is not in danger of being lost. And they are more than willing to work with non-native scholars. This information will probably become available at some point in the future, given demographic trends among the pueblos - why the urgency to publish now? Noone’s life depends on seeing it in print. This whole thing feels wrong, beyond just the broken promise.
I realized today why I don’t bother to make Spotify playlists and just save entire albums. There’s no tactility. The fun of making mixtapes was the physical act of dropping the needle perfectly, tapping the pause button on the tape player. There was endless pleasure in having crafted a mixtape (a cassette, of course) that had perfect pauses between songs, that one had calculated the song selections to maximize Side A and Side B. Every time I shoved a custom mixtape into my player, I relived the crafting of that tape, and experienced once again the sense of satisfaction. The digital equivalent loses all that. Dragging to assemble a list, with unlimited length is just that ... a drag.
Ars Technica: The slowly fading art of flying—and maintaining—Cold War fighter jets.
Reader Ray L. points this out to me, knowing I’d love it. I remember walking over to downtown Princeton with my father and brother, just getting to the lower parking lot below the old IDA building, when a ripping/tearing/shredding sound made us look up - three F100 Super Sabres in formation zooming northeast. Totally cool.
Meetings this morn.
NY Times: The Wreck of Amtrak 188.
The image, 2/3 of the way down the page, of the wet grey/browns of the NE Corridor is exactly why I had to make a break for the West. I’d done that commute for 13 years. It was enough. Oh, and the article’s good too.
More odd thoughts in the shower.
Thoreau is out of date. Men don’t live lives of quiet desperation anymore. They live lives of noisy repetition.
Tampa Bay Times: Florida lizard that survived being made into a salad becomes New Jersey class pet.
Riverside Elementary in my hometown of Princeton. Cute.
Photo: A gentle morning three.
ArtDaily: National Drama Centre production of Richard III gets suit of French porcelain.
Wow. As some of you may remember, I worked at Edward Marshall Boehm creating porcelain figurines and flowers for a summer. I can fully appreciate the craftsmanship behind this. Porcelain is wonderful to work with, but terribly difficult to mold into larger pieces. One has to work in the mold - so there were a lot of throwaways before the mold would take up liquid at a reasonable pace. And the armor itself has to be the correct thickness, or it cracks. *Applause*
Yep, that’s it.
Getting to be that time, time to wander around the SW.
Once the Sun gets a little higher in the sky, it’s time to spend some weekends, perhaps a weekday or two, roaming for photos. Normally I invite folks to tag along, but it often drives people insane. Long drives, lots of starting and stopping at locations, long slogs to good spots, often long waits for light/clouds, and ridiculous amounts of turning around and rescanning previous ‘good’ spots. When I get focused on a subject, I become a machine. Bright spot is interesting convos, and creative DJ’ing on the way.
Anyway, if anyone’s in the area and interested, email me privately [my first name at the obvious domain] and I’ll let you know when I’ve got a venture planned. Oh, and it probably goes without saying ... you have to be comfy with emptying bladders and such behind bushes, etc. I do try to hit bogs, but they’re not always within range when you need one. This is NM, middle of nowhere, after all.
f.lux Forum: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Interestingly, I believe I experienced this effect. Correlation is not causation, but it was the only factor that was altered in my normal daily routine. My SAD got significantly worse after about a week of use. I think f.lux is great - I was sleeping peerlessly - but I’m saving it for summertime. If you’re using it, and you notice an uptick in melancholy/depression/‘downs’, you might want to experiment a bit over a few days.