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Wednesday
Sep292010

Gladwell on Social Media

The New Yorker has an excellent, thoughtful piece by Malcolm Gladwell on the relationship between social media and social change.

Read it here.

Saturday
Sep252010

Colbert's Testimony - Symbolic of This Congress

Stephen Colbert (in character) testified before Congress today. Either this was a failed attempt at humor from the Democrat who invited him, or a misunderstanding as to what kind of celebrity testimony he would bring. Colbert, whose actual testimony is quite funny, brought a lack of seriousness to the Congressional committee than is unfortunately all too common these days. I thought it was an unnecessary overreach for Congress to bring in Major League Baseball players to testify about steroids. But this? This takes it to another level. What's next, representatives citing news reports from The Onion on the floor?

Colbert's testimony is symbolic of what this Congress and this administration have done in the past two years. It would all be funny if it weren't so sad.

Wednesday
Sep222010

Google's Election Map: Excellent and Surprisingly Not Creepy

Google's 2010 interactive election map is very cool. I could go on describing it, or you could just play with it.

Thursday
Sep162010

It's Like, Awful

Leon H. Wolf authors a devastating takedown of Meghan McCain's new book-- Dirty, Sexy Politics. I suspect Mr. Wolf enjoyed himself a little too much, going above and beyond the necessary book review length because, let's face it, it is just too easy. It is clear reading even the book jacket of Ms. McCain's book is a waste of your time. Mr. Wolf's review, on the other hand, is classic. Some highlights:

"It is impossible to read Dirty, Sexy Politics and come away with the impression that you have read anything other than the completely unedited ramblings of an idiot.  This being a professional website for which I have a great deal of respect, I searched for a more eloquent or gentle way to accurately phrase the previous sentence – but could not find one."

"The most obvious problem with Dirty, Sexy Politics is that grammatically, the book appears to be the work of a high school sophomore.  To be more accurate, it appears to be the first draft of an essay written for a high school English class; the one turned in before the teacher makes all the pretty red marks in the margin that helpfully keep students from turning in final papers riddled with comma abuse, sentence fragments, and incorrect punctuation.  Each subsequent page of this book contains one grisly crime against the English language after another."

"I stopped counting the number of times she informed me that she was wearing UGG boots on a given occasion at five. Dirty, Sexy Politics is 194 pages long; if you removed the descriptions of outfits and hairstyles so-and-so wore when such-and-such was going on, I doubt it would have scraped 120 pages.  I wish I could say the preceding sentence was gross hyperbole, but if you have made it this far in this review, you deserve the truth: it isn’t."

"Meghan’s real talent, however, is not in manufacturing facts, but rather in manufacturing enemies. Sizeable portions of Dirty, Sexy Politics are dedicated to defeating a shadowy conspiracy of Republicans who are attempting to railroad her out of the party. Lurking around every corner in this book is a pasty old Republican wanting to burn her voter registration card because she has a tattoo, because her hair is bleached, because she supports gay marriage, or because of a whole host of other imagined grievances that unnamed Republicans allegedly have with her. Who are these people? Can you name one, Meghan? Tell us about one single Republican who has suggested that your tattoo makes you unfit to vote Republican; I have three myself and I want to be on the lookout. What specifically have they said? Dirty, Sexy Politics leaves us to wonder."

"On the whole, I am simply not a talented enough writer to express how truly horrible this book was."

Friday
Sep102010

Claiming an End to Combat, Obama Admin Hits New Low

On 29 June 1950, four days after North Korea invaded South Korea, President Truman was asked how he would describe the American forces being sent to defend the South.  "Would it be possible to call this a police action under the United Nations?" asked a reporter.  "Yes," Truman answered, "That is exactly what it amounts to." Three years and over 30,000 American deaths later, the Korean War ended in stalemate.  

Though Truman may have insulted the troops sent to Korea by downgrading the war's importance, he was doing so out of concern for America's best interest. At that time, Truman's administration was worried about sparking unnecessary conflict with the Soviet Union.

Obama has made a similar mistake as Truman, though for different reasons.  Looking out for his own political interests, Obama is cynically claiming combat has ended in Iraq and "it's time to turn the page."  As scores have pointed out, however, we still have 50,000 troops in Iraq and many of them elite special forces. They are still fighting and some are still dying.  It's insulting for their Commander-in-Chief, in a bid to charm his base, to pretend otherwise.