obama reaction

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

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.


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.

what’s for lunch?

October 31st, 2008

On the menu at our work cafeteria today: Aviyal Wrap w/Spinach, Saffron-Mango Basmati Rice, Minted Yogurt Dressing and Pineapple-Mustard Salad or Potato Chips. Sounds pretty good to me.


October 28th, 2008

My Facebook status post from this morning has generated a few comments, so I thought a quick blog post would be in order.

On the walk in to work this morning I noticed that the street a couple of blocks from the house was full of trucks and trailers. It turned out that the street was in the process of being transformed into a movie set, and that it’s for the new Coen Brothers movie, A Serious Man. In fact as I was walking by and checking out what was going on, Ethan Coen himself walked right by me (he seemed fairly preoccupied, or maybe just cold, so it didn’t seem the right time to be quoting Big Lebowski lines at him (warning – sweary words in that link)).

It looked like they were planning to film in and around this fantastic building on the corner of LaSalle and Blaisdell:

View Larger Map

they like to move it

October 21st, 2008

Some funky middle-aged Finns:

busy day

October 18th, 2008

For a Saturday, today turned out fairly eventful. After a great dinner with friends last night at the Quang Vietnamese restaurant round the corner, the kids slept pretty well, and as a result so did we. After breakfast I had to do some home repair – I think that the plumbing work in the basement caused the kitchen tap to get some gunk in the workings, so it was leaking a lot. A quick dismantling and reassemble and we were all set.

We had to go out to get some supplies, so a Costco trip was in order. We also needed to go to the Post Office, but on the way we had a bit of an accident – I was just outside the parking lot, when the driver of the car in front and to the right of me must have realized that she missed the Post Office parking lot entrance, so swerved into my lane, then stopped and reversed right into the front of us (even though I was honking the car horn as she was reversing). It was a low-speed impact: some scratching, minor denting and a turn signal broken on our car, but still a bit of a pain and enough to make you a bit shaky. Toby was kind of upset, so Emma took him to the Post Office to do what she needed to do while I called the insurance company. Fortunately the other driver was hugely apologetic and cooperative, so here’s hoping that there are no issues.

Anyway, we went for a bit of lunch to regain our collective cool, then did the shopping, then hung out at home for a while, followed by a trip to the park, then dinner, bath for the kids, and now they’re quietly asleep. We also trimmed Dara’s hair for the first time. It seemed a bit of a shame when she doesn’t have much, but she was developing a bit of a mullet, so it was more just a tidy at the back, and looks a fair bit neater now.

Actually I’m re-reading this post and realizing that the day was really neither busy nor eventful. Still, we’ve gotten this far and I’m not really in the mood for editing.


October 16th, 2008

Update to that bizarre picture I linked to earlier. Firstly, McCain was indeed not wearing a flag pin – with all the fuss the Republicans were making about Obama not wearing one earlier in the campaign, how come it’s OK now for McCain not to wear one?

Also, the AmericaBlog ran a caption/photoshop contest for people to update the pic. Here’s my total favorite – apart from it being funny, it’s a neat metaphor (I’m sure you could have worked that out for yourself). Click the image to embiggenate:

Evolution to Obama

Evolution to Obama

almost done

October 16th, 2008

Well the last presidential debate was last night, and by various measures the debates have been good for Obama. The instant polls from various news outlets, particularly CNN and CBS, showed strong support for Obama’s performance. In fact you could say that at this point the following image sums things up:

It’s from Reuters: “US Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage after shaking hands with Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 15, 2008.”

UPDATE: Just a minor detail but it looks like only Obama is wearing a flag pin. Does that say anything about being there for the country?

new basement progress

October 13th, 2008

Well the basement renovation is continuing apace. So far we’re really happy with how it’s going. Overall here’s what’s happened:

Demolition of all the walls, shelves and bar. Tear out of old wiring, replaced with new. Installation of drain tile and sump pump flood protection system. Removal and improvement in sewer piping. Moved the gas meter to outside wall, removed old gas piping and replaced with copper. Removal of all old water piping, replaced with copper and PVC pipes, with huge improvement in water pressure to the upstairs bathroom. Vapor barrier installed around walls. Wood framing installed for walls. Insulation installed for walls. New lighting and power outlets installed.

Next steps are for the new walls to be built, and the new laundry tub to be installed, then new flooring, then painting.

First week pictures are here; latest (week three) are here.