Archive for November, 2008

mumbai

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Over the last couple of days we’ve been hearing and reading about the terrible news from India – the terror and hostage attacks on various locations in Mumbai. It’s not pleasant to read about, and seems quite immediate, especially considering that the first time I went to India I stayed in the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, so I can picture the locations where at least some of this is happening.

manly

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Last weekend, Toby asked Emma if she would knit him a new sweater: “Could you please knit me a rainbow sweater? But with no pink.”

school

Monday, November 17th, 2008

In the car yesterday, Toby was asking why he has to go to school so much. Not totally sure why he would be complaining, because he loves it, to the extent that a few weeks ago he asked if he could live there. But anyway.

Emma’s reasoning for him was was “The President says that you have to go to school so that you can keep learning and get smarter,” to which Toby responded, “Well, the President called me and said that I’m already quite smart, so I don’t have to go to school every day.” Which I think sort of proves his case.

stand back, ladies

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Further to my recent post about the Finnish disco dancers, here are some pictures of Swedish dance bands (as linked to from BoingBoing). A few samples:

Note the clogs. And strange swimming-pool juxtaposition. I bet they\'re all wearing Speedos

Note the clogs. And strange swimming-pool juxtaposition. I bet they're all wearing Speedos

\'Scandinavians\'. Really? You surprise me.

'Scandinavians'. Really? You surprise me.

You\'d have thought that with a name like this they\'d be a punk band. Clearly not.

You'd have thought that with a name like this they'd be a punk band. Clearly not.

Who is the hick? You decide!

Who is the hick? You decide!

basement upgrade update

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

I haven’t posted pics of the basement in a while. Work has been going on, but with the drywall going up and getting finished, it hasn’t looked too different. However we got to the point where the painting could start this week, so tonight I took a few photos, and here they are. I can’t believe how much cleaner the whole place looks – we have to keep looking at the “before” pictures to remind ourselves.

So the plan for tomorrow is that the guys will finish spray painting the ceiling, and hopefully put in some of the new flooring. Over the weekend I’m going to paint the wall on which the laundry tub is going to go, then early next week the plumbers will be in to finish the laundry, and also reset the bathroom. Then it’s pretty much just a matter of a bit of door framing, and I’ll have time to paint the rest of the walls. Finally we’ll have a nice, dry, clean basement, and get our laundry and garage back too!

new toby and dara pics

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

I haven’t posted pictures of the kids in absolutely ages. We have been taking photos, I just haven’t gotten around to posting. Tonight, however, I thought I should just get on with it and posted up the pics I took at dinner time (having a speeeeeeedy new machine certainly helps too). Anyway, here are the photos – enjoy. And here’s a bonus preview:

Dara at dinner time Nov 7, 2008

Dara at dinner time Nov 7, 2008

our new first family

Friday, November 7th, 2008

An amazing set of backstage pictures as the Obama family experience election night. Fascinating, real and moving.

Also I’m enjoying hearing newscasters say “President-Elect Obama”

obama reaction

Friday, November 7th, 2008

I haven’t posted about the Obama victory, because to be honest I’m not quite sure how to put it into words. It feels in many ways, to a lot of my friends, like such a relief and release that a lot of us are quite subdued about it. I’m just really looking forward to some sanity and transparency from the government – I’m aware that a lot of people’s hopes will not be met, but it can’t get much worse, can it?

And on the historical nature of who Obama is, I think this cartoon speaks volumes, and at the risk of being over-sentimental, it gets to me every time:

Tom Toles cartoon

Tom Toles cartoon

I heard that there’s a cartoon in a UK newspaper, also of the White House, with a sign next to a small lake saying “Please do not walk on the water”.

tuesday, continued

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Here’s why he’s paid to do this and I’m not: Andrew Sullivan’s sermon on why Obama should win tomorrow.

tuesday

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

The election is finally coming – Tuesday next week. Unfortunately I won’t be able to vote – my citizenship ceremony is two weeks later, on the 19th, but that of course doesn’t mean I don’t have strong opinions. Plus this is my website so I can say what I like (your opinions may vary) This is going to be something of a screed and a brain dump – brace yourself.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts. First: why the Republicans in general, and the Bush Republicans specifically, must lose:

The way Bush “won” the election in 2000
Bush’s general absence from the White House until September 11, 2001
Secrecy around Cheney’s energy policies
Turning down the Kyoto treaty
The information blackout from the Government in the first few days after 9/11
I have to give some credit for the way the Afghanistan venture started – it wasn’t too immediate, and the initial results were very promising. But clearly that has all gone awry – drug production and smuggling is out of control and the Taliban are resurgent
Iraq: the falsified evidence, complete lack of follow-up planning, the looting, torture of prisoners, lack of understanding of the Sunni-Shiite issue, power vacuum, the maltreatment of prisoners: in general a complete disaster
Vilification of anyone who disagreed with the war as being unpatriotic
Expanded presidential powers, including the over-use of executive signing statements which mean that the President doesn’t have to abide by new laws he has just signed
Allowing Rumsfeld to stay in charge
The tax cuts, which were so lopsided in favor of the rich
Allowing the party to become the party of bigotry, homophobia, anti-non-Christian, anti-science
The economic collapse
The deficit
Lack of investment in education and infrastructure
Contempt for habeas corpus and international standards of treatment of prisoners and endorsement of torture
Cronyism and the valuing of ideology over competence: the nomination of Harriet Miers for Supreme Court, and Heckuvajob Brownie during Hurrican Katrina
I could go on…

And why McCain specifically should lose:
This is difficult, because until about 6 months ago I really liked McCain. I thought he was horribly treated in the primaries of 2000 when Bush beat him. And he seemed a reasonable, likable kind of person. But since winning the party’s endorsement he seems to have turned his back on all of that. He seems to have abandoned almost all of his principles in favor of doing anything to get elected. He has hired the people who slimed him in 2000, and is engaged in (or at least not discouraging) very similar treatment of Obama: the allegations of being un-American, un-Christian, anti-family, socialist etc. In fact he seems to have allowed himself to get swept up in this tidal wave of power grabbing at almost any cost. I know that for a while I hoped that once he was elected he would return to the genial, intelligent, questioning, collaborative person he seemed to be as a Senator. However I can’t help feeling that if he allows himself to be manipulated so extremely, what’s going to happen during his Presidency? And this has expressed itself most in his selection of Sarah Palin for his Vice Presidential candidate. It turned out that he had met her maybe twice before the nomination (which again shows how he was swayed by others – he abdicated his most important campaign staffing decision). While I’m sure she is personable, she clearly wasn’t vetted, which is why the revelations about her personal life kept spilling out. The things which worried me most were her evangelical leanings – the infamous “casting out of witches” video, implying that us being in Iraq is God’s work, being allied to pastors who believe in the end times, and that Alaska will be a haven for the “saved”, creationism (of course), abstinence education, and her association with the Jews for Jesus movement. Then there’s the fact that as a small town mayor she inherited a clean balance sheet and left the town millions in debt. This despite charging rape victims for rape recovery kits. And her association with the Alaska Independence Party, which her husband was a member of for seven years, and which worked with Iran to have the USA denounced at the United Nations. And she calls Obama anti-American and says that he has radical associations. And another thing: since McCain won his primary, he has frequently said things which are either stretches of the truth, or completely untrue. For example yesterday his campaign manager said that he knows McCain is about to win a huge upset. When there is no polling data suggesting this, it’s hard to believe that it’s true or that you are not being lied to.

Phew, so now that’s out of the way.

Now, why Obama should win:
First, and most obvious, he seems to stand for everything in opposition to what was written above. That could be enough, but I want more than just kicking the bums out.
He is a genius orator and writer. This was maligned by the Republicans earlier in the campaign, but I think it really counts for something.
He knows how to work within the system. His rise through the minefield of Chicago and Illinois politics was very smartly handled – he knew how to meet the right people and how to influence and impress them.
He has pulled together a lot of very smart people. He has developed think tanks to address the major issues, and seems to rely on evidence rather than just ideology.
He has pulled himself up from a situation where his father was essentially absent all his life, his mother drifted around the world, and he was raised by his grandparents with not much money. He excelled through university and used his education and intelligence to get on in life.
He has run an amazing campaign, with an amazingly dedicated leadership and staff. He has relied on many tools for organizing, making it feel like a grassroots campaign in which everyone has a stake.
He has proven his smarts with the way he has spoken and acted internationally and at home.
Through the long, long primaries, and since, he and his campaign have kept their focus. They defeated Hillary and Bill Clinton, for goodness’ sake! A relative unknown pulled the Democratic Party along. As Peggy Noonan very eloquently wrote a couple of days ago, “He took down a political machine without raising his voice”

I look forward to him building up this country again by giving us all a voice.