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rebecca's pocket

.: 2004 --> october


@ So. I'm not sure why I watched the debate last night. I guess I did it as due diligence--an act of citizenship. But honestly: my candidate could have come out drunk and thrown up on the podium, and it wouldn't change my vote, so opposed am I to the other guy. I'll bet that 90% of the other people watching could say the same thing. [more...]

Afterwards, one of the presidential historians mentioned that this was one of the most substantive debates in recent history, which is surprising given the strictures laid out by the campaigns. Credit for that goes to Kerry, who consistently brought up concrete details in his responses to the questions. That's fitting: as the challenger, it is Kerry's job to demonstrate that he has the knowledge and judgement to do a better job than the incumbent.

Bush, by contrast, stuck relentlessly to a few talking points, a tactic which has served him well in other debates. One of his themes was that, as the sitting president, he naturally has a better understanding of what it takes to do the job. Unfortunately, his opponent has 20 years experience in the Senate, and Kerry was quick to demonstrate equal knowledge and experience in dealing with issues of national policy, so I think this tactic failed. For me, Bush showed real conviction only when expressing opposition to Kerry's plan for bilateral talks with North Korea. The rest consisted mainly of platitudes.

I appreciated all the reaction shots. I would judge that Kerry came out ahead on this one, but I have long since realized that there is a huge slice of the population that has a very different set of standards than I. For once, immediate consensus seems to agree with me.
[ 10/01/04 ]

@ Relaxing with the kings of poker.

Although pitiless when they sit across the table from one another for a game of Hold 'Em, the three, Doyle Brunson, T. J. Cloutier and Gus Hansen, are friends, as friendly as professional card players get. They had mixed results playing the seven-card game at the tables that day, in part because they had to play through a clutter of amateurs that the poker craze has created. Now that the pros finally had some time to themselves, give or take a reporter, they could unwind at last. And play some cards.
Away from the television cameras and clamoring fans, they opted for a change of pace, plopping down on the king-size bed as Mr. Hansen dealt 13 cards to each player. Chinese poker was the name of this game, and it required that they arrange three hands of poker out of the cards they were dealt, in progressively better hands. The room went silent for five seconds after the deal as each man clicked through mathematical possibilities measured in thousands. And then they played nickel poker, with the word "nickel" meaning $500 and "dime" meaning $1,000. Many thousands of dollars changed hands in a matter of minutes.

[ 10/01/04 ]

@ Fascinating Weekend Reading: Satellites, alcohol, and his-and-her condos. Behind the scenes at the Trinity Broadcast Network. [more...]

I will admit to getting sucked into TBN over and over again, while flipping through the channels. Again and again, I would come into the middle of some sermon, and stop to find out what lesson the preacher was going to draw from the Bible story he was telling. That can take a while--these guys are not afraid to tangent off numerous times before they come to their point. It's an amazing form of folk theatre, and the best practitioners are tremendous storytellers, on par with the best in any other form. And Jan's Bible readings: she has a great gift for making the Bible sound like a personal letter from God to you.

This article does not touch on their sincerity. But it seems that making money always becomes its own thing, no matter who does it. The complexity of this thing--the successful, sincere evangelist--has always fascinated me. Is lucre filthy? Does power corrupt? (Or are those just myths ordinary people cling to, to provide themselves with some sense of superiority?) If you become wealthy from the tithes of poor people to whom you have provided real comfort, are you doing a good thing in a bad way, or a bad thing in a good way? Neither? Both?
[ 10/01/04 ]

@ Motley Fool: How much will you need when you retire?
[ 10/01/04 ]

@ Kevin Drum notes that, which Vice-President Cheney mentioned in the debate, redirects to George Soros' site. That's not where it went during the debate. [more...]

I visited the site during the debate, expecting it to redirect to, the site Mr. Cheney meant to refer to. It didn't go to Soros' site; it went to some educational (software?) site that looked a bit like a portal. Beware the lefty webmaster, I suppose....
[ 10/05/04 ]

@ Dear Networks: Can you please stop wasting your time and mine with partisan responses to the debates? The Republican partisan always praises the Republican, and the Democrat partisan always praises the Democrat. Both of them always think the other guy was weak. Maybe, on your cue, we can all spend a moment imagining the partisan responses, and then you can use the saved time to do some fact checking or something. [more...]

Gwen Ifill was tough. I expected the candidates to really go after each other, and they really did, but I didn't expect Gwen to go after them, too. I was squirming as she lobbed some of those questions--to both candidates. I'm very impressed. Best line of the night, when Cheney said he'd need more than 30 seconds for his rebuttal: 'Well, that's all you've got.'

I was surprised at how personal the candidates got with each other--and how well prepared each of them was for that. While this debate will certainly reinforce decided voters' existing positions, it didn't strike me as a mind-changer for undecided voters. The next few days will tell.
[ 10/05/04 ]

@ Note to everyone using email (especially editors and reporters, for crying out loud): When writing email, use the subject line. A good subject line will allow your recipient to quickly and accurately determine whether they should read your note immediately, it will serve as a to-do reminder if it sits in their inbox unanswered, and it will make your email easy to locate once it's been filed, should that become necessary. Most important, a < no subject > email is always in danger of being mistaken for spam and discarded without being read.
[ 10/05/04 ]

@ Holy mackerel. It's like a utilikilt for mugs. (via 43 folders)
[ 10/05/04 ]

@ Hey, Ben and Mena made the Wall Street Journal! The coolest part? They did stippled portraits of them (scroll up for examples). Note to the WSJ: weblogs were about links before they were ever online journals.
[ 10/12/04 ]

@ I suppose you've already heard that Sinclair Broadcasting is forcing its affiliate stations -- many of them in swing states -- to air an anti-Kerry film.

Former FCC Chair Reed Hundt is eloquent on the matter:

Part of this tradition is that broadcasters do not show propaganda for any candidate, no matter how much a station owner may personally favor one or dislike the other. Broadcasters understand that they have a special and conditional role in public discourse. They received their licenses from the public -- licenses to use airwaves that, for instance, cellular companies bought in auctions -- for free, and one condition is the obligation to help us hold a fair and free election. The Supreme Court has routinely upheld this "public interest" obligation. Virtually all broadcasters understand and honor it.
Sinclair has a different idea, and a wrong one in my view. If Sinclair wants to disseminate propaganda, it should buy a printing press, or create a web site. These other media have no conditions on their publication of points of view. This is the law, and it should be honored. In fact, if the FCC had any sense of its responsibility as a steward of fair elections its chairman now would express exactly what I am writing to you here.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall and his readers explain how you can politely and effectively encourage your local station to refuse to air propaganda against or in favor of any candidate in the weeks before the election -- contact their sales managers and their advertisers.

This is a matter of principle. If Sinclair were going to follow the airing of Stolen Honor with Fahrenheit 911 the following night, you might be able to make a case for it -- maybe. Television stations have a public trust to wait until after the election to air polemical documentaries on any of the candidates.

Because it is a matter of principle, the disgusting spin Sinclair is defending its actions with should seem merely idiotic...but I must confess it has lowered my opinion of them even further.
[ 10/12/04 ]

@ Do infant multivitamins induce allergies and asthma?
[ 10/12/04 ]

@ With vaccines low, and winter just around the corner, what is the best way to ward off the flu? Get enough sleep, eat your vegetables, cover your cough, and wash your hands.

I've never gotten a flu shot. I was thinking of getting one this year, but since I work at home, and am generally healthy, I would consider myself at low risk for getting the flu in the first place, and for dying from it if I do. So, because there's a shortage, I'm going to skip it again on behalf of those who need it more than me. I'll be washing my hands a lot instead.
[ 10/12/04 ]

@ I find this just plain creepy.
[ 10/29/04 ]

@ Where do I vote? [more...]

When can I vote? Polling times vary by state. You may be eligible for time off work to vote. State Voter Leave Laws. Even if you are not, polls usually are open a couple of hours before and after normal work hours. Check to see.

They say I can't vote. Bring your photo ID to the polling place. Before you leave, check voter's rights for your state. Now listen: If you are a registered voter, you have the right to vote. If your name isn't on the list, ask the poll worker to check again. If you really aren't there, ask for a provisional ballot, and use that to vote. The League of Women Voters has a nice guide in English [pdf] and Spanish [pdf] explaining what to expect on voting day. (Note to the LWV: make these available in HTML please, so that people can easily access them on the Web.)

I want to make sure everyone gets to vote:

There's still time to volunteer.
[ 10/29/04 ]

@ You had some question, perhaps, about whom I endorse for President this year? [more...]

I didn't think so.

If you are undecided and your concern this year is mainly about the threat of terrorism to the United States, I encourage you to read Kevin Drum's succinct explanation of rogue states versus failed states--and why the Bush administration's approach to the war on terror neglects the most dangerous threats.

If you are unenthusiastic about President Bush and a strong supporter of conservative values, you may be interested in the American Conservative's presidential endorsement:

Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation's children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor: it is as if Bush sought to resurrect every false 1960s-era left-wing cliché about predatory imperialism and turn it into administration policy. Add to this his nation-breaking immigration proposal--Bush has laid out a mad scheme to import immigrants to fill any job where the wage is so low that an American can't be found to do it--and you have a presidency that combines imperialist Right and open-borders Left in a uniquely noxious cocktail.

Finally, the New Yorker has the most literate presidential endorsement I've ever read.

The damage visited upon America, and upon America's standing in the world, by the Bush Administration's reckless mishandling of the public trust will not easily be undone. And for many voters the desire to see the damage arrested is reason enough to vote for John Kerry. But the challenger has more to offer than the fact that he is not George W. Bush. In every crucial area of concern to Americans (the economy, health care, the environment, Social Security, the judiciary, national security, foreign policy, the war in Iraq, the fight against terrorism), Kerry offers a clear, corrective alternative to Bush's curious blend of smugness, radicalism, and demagoguery. Pollsters like to ask voters which candidate they'd most like to have a beer with, and on that metric Bush always wins. We prefer to ask which candidate is better suited to the governance of our nation.

[ 10/29/04 ]

@ And me? I've just been happily engaged with my life. Fall housecleaning, canning apple butter, writing, chatting with my family, and otherwise enjoying myself. I hope you're having as pleasant an autumn as I.
[ 10/29/04 ]


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