Friday Highlights

Good morning. -21 F here this morning. Dat’s gettin’ cold. Last night the cold in the steering connections faulted the power assist. It worked when it restarted for the drive home … in a slightly warmer car.

  1. Humor and the incoming President. If humor about the President is a duty of the loyal opposition, perhaps the uniformity of political alleigence of the comedy writers is problematic?
  2. A “window” into pro-life in action.
  3. This satirical piece makes an interesting point. If the “multiplier” idea is dumb … why isn’t it dumb when the Feds do it?
  4. Atheist/Pagan and a little history.
  5. Today in 1919.
  6. A teen alternate history book, the Explosionist reviewed.
  7. Does Shamsia Hsseini = Rosa Parks? Will the mainstream press notice … after Monday when they are allowed to care about reality again?
  8. Plagarism discussed.
  9. (faint?) Singular praise for Mr Bush from a Libertarian.
  10. Or … perhaps akin to listening to atheists describe the faith experience and motivations.
  11. Does that mean that Christians should shed self-control? After all, like St. Paul we would be servants (really slaves from the Greek) of Christ, no?
  12. 3 miles?
  13. Suspecting the enthusiasm … after all look how well that worked out the last time.
  14. Of Cato the Elder.
  15. Mil-tech geekery.
  16. Mommmmmmaaaaaa.
  17. Whence the outrage … bias perhaps?
  18. Some more links.
  19. Getting facts straight.
  20. Fiction, truth and lies.
  21. I recently had discussion on chastity and pledges. Claims were made about the “right’s motivations” … well here is some actual real-live rhetoric and argument from the right … which it seems lacks the qualities claimed for them.
  22. I do need that book.
  23. One reason for the quantity of illegal aliens … Mexico’s problems.
  24. “smart power” as stupid adspeak.
  25. Verse + math.

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  1. Boonton says:

    Whence the outrage … bias perhaps?

    Some interesting data points to note:

    1. Bush 2004 cost $40M now Obama 2009 is $45M. Given inflation we are probably about even.

    2. A huge number of people are showing up to Obama’s. There’s no way around having to spend money on that.

    3. 2009 is a change in the President while 2004 was simply the same President getting another term.

    4. This is a historic inaugeration. Obama is the first African American ever elected to President and that’s a notable moment in our history considering that it was only a bit more than a generation ago that segregation was still the law and custom in many parts of the country.

    On the bias element:

    I tracked down what I think is the original article by AP reporter Will LEster ( Interestingly the article itself isn’t attacking Bush for the inaugeration but quoting critics of its cost. One critic was a Democratic Congressman and the other was a Republican Bush supporter (“Billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks”).

    People (at least some) were saying Bush should have an expensive iaugeration in 2004 and Lester reported it. To date I haven’t heard any Democrats saying Obama shouldn’t have an expensive inaugeration nor have I heard any Republicans.

    So is the reporting biased or is reality biased? Should Lester force himself to find some Dem and some Rep, no matter how low he has to go on the totem pole (“Secretary of the High School Republicans of Johnson High School, Madison Wisconson says Obama should have a lower cost inaugeration!!!”) to even out his story? Or is the reality that many people want to spend a lot of money this year on the inaugeration while people didn’t in 2004….even people who liked the result!

  2. Boonton says:

    #1 on Humor:

    This type of reasoning strikes me as very unhinged:

    There was a huge groundswell when Sarah hit the national scene. She energized the Party in a way John McCain only dreamed of. Here was our Obama: a young, good looking enigmatic speaker, untainted by Washington. There’s something mighty attractive about a girl more familiar with moosemeat than pork. She looked great in flannel and jeans, and unlike all the other candidates, her outdoor gear had all the tags removed long ago. For a while it looked like she might run away with the grand prize.

    But then Tina Fey came on the air one night, with her hair in an up-do, and talking like she was in Fargo. And it was over…..And it was over. The Couric interview followed the first Fey impression, which led to an even more biting parody the following week.

    Note the words I set in bold. Ever notice how certain types of movies follow one on top of another? Like we had that movie Deep Impact about a comet hitting the earth and within a month Armagedon was released with the exact same premise. Or a while ago there was a lot of buzz about attempts to create the next Lord of the Rings movies (the Narnia movies and the Gold Compess were attempts to mimic their success, with the first doing better than the second).

    The problem is that repeating the formula is not quite the same as repeating the substance. Palin was good as a flash in the pan but she was and is hardly the “GOP Obama”. By formula I mean the stuff that can be objectively measured (age, experience, some style elements). Substance, though, is a bit more subtle and difficult to extract. People viewed Obama as the more serious candidate and Palin as the non-serious one. This was an honest judgement that a large number of people felt, even McCan voters, but it doesn’t lend itself to objective measures. It’s not quite about tallying up years in government or books written.

    Now what’s unhinged about the analysis above is the assumption that Fey and Couric single handedly killed Palin’s chances. I’ll go along with the fact that they did but what the author doesn’t seem to comprehend is why. He seems to assume that everything is style over substance. A good parody will kill a serious candidate. But look at the example of Reagan. A lot of comedians went after Reagan and many of the parodies of him were fantastic. Yet that didn’t magically stop voters from examining the substance and deciding to vote for Reagan while laughing at the parodies.

    Palinites have never told us why Palin should have been taken seriously. I’ve heard Palin say that her handlers shouldn’t have done a second Couric interview when the first one went badly but neither Palin or her supporters seem capable of explaining why the interview went so badly in the first place. What Fey and Couric did was not destory Palin’s seriousness as a candidate but reveal her lack of seriousness.

  3. Mark says:

    Hmm, I find it interesting that I saw that article more about Mr Obama and the lack of humor and satire regarding him than about Mrs Palin.

  4. Boonton says:

    #1 Again

    If humor about the President is a duty of the loyal opposition, perhaps the uniformity of political alleigence of the comedy writers is problematic?

    I’m sorry, is there some comedy writers guild that bars conservatives from entering? Off hand I can think of two funny comedians that lean right; PJ O’Rourk and Jackie Mason. I notice whenever some obscure liberal writes something like “the uniformity of talk radio hosts is problematic” the right is quick to whip out the free market surmon.

    Well it’s a hell of a lot easier to break into comedy than talk radio. Aren’t there comedy clubs in all the major and minor cities and even suburbs? Don’t they still do open mic nights? Amateur nights? Last I checked Youtube was open to any funny right wing comedian who wanted to put his material up. If you guys aren’t funny whose problem is that?

    Hence, Democrat political figures seem serious, and almost anonymous. Certainly the Left is ripe for parody. The slow lisping cadence of Al Gore, the cartoonish voice of Barney Frank, or the arrogant stuttering President Elect are all characters begging for comedic attention

    Al Gore has been parodied on several shows, Futurama comes to mind off the top of my head. I haven’t watched SNL in over a decade but I’d be surprised if Gore never made it in their skits….

    But “arrogant stuttering”? What the hell is that? How does one stutter arrogantly? Clue to the wise, good comedy requires an eye for reality. I understand that some on the right thing Obama is arrogant but you have to pay close attention to what it is exactly you are trying to parody. Is his stutter itself arrogant or is it a stutter?

  5. Boonton says:

    Hmm, I find it interesting that I saw that article more about Mr Obama and the lack of humor and satire regarding him than about Mrs Palin.

    That is interesting considering that Fey was in the first sentence…and Fey is known for her Palin impersonation and I doubt she could pull off an Obama one (although it could be interesting if she tried). Also there’s two big pictures at the top of Palin and Fey side by side….Obama isn’t mentioned until the last two paragraphs. All the other material is about Palin over and over and over again.

    One element here is intersting:

    Whether it’s fear of perceived racism, or simple idol worship, there have been few Obama jokes aired.

    Comedians do have to confront the fact that a white person performing in black face has a lot of cultural baggage with it. That means the portion of comedians who can do Obama impersonations are limited to African Americans or to comedians who are skilled enough to pull off a cross racial impersonation while also navigating the whole ‘black face’ issue. This is going to make it harder but I suspect one of the benefits of the ‘post racial’ meme is going to be that we will see more of this with time. To make it trickier Obama himself seems to have perfected the art of being very low key. In this I think he’s a bit like NYC’s mayor Mike Bloomberg. He projects the air of the intelligent and sensible leader but he removes a lot of distinctive personality tics from his presentation that makes one memorable. Contrast this with Bill Clinton who all but screams “yeeee haaaa!” or Bush’s “awe shucks” mannerisms that make the comedy almost write itself regardless of your political leanings.