Books Lying Open
Answer of the Day:
Curse of the Day:
of the Moment:
Hey, it beats, "Shut up!" which is what we used to yell, which had about as much effect on the cat as you might expect. -- August 16, 2004
|Wednesday September 29, 2004|
of the Day -- QotD Archives
"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out...without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable."
--H. L. Mencken
was going to get through two book reviews today; Middlesex, which I just finished a few days ago, and The Color of Magic, which I finished a month ago and keep putting off reviewing. However, when the bit of surfing and blogging I did Tuesday evening grew in size and time consumption, I decided to hold the reviews off until Friday when I'll have time to write them with due consideration and analysis, rather than just throwing up some quick comments and categorized scores.
Also, I did blog yesterday, after being very late with Monday's blog, so click here if you missed it and simply can't live without hearing Malaya's take on my chapter 2, my comments on writing length and editing, and the shocking revelation that I am eagerly-anticipating the special extended edition release of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King DVD.
For today, there's some Olympic mascot commentary, and then a bit of discussion of the ridiculous format of this year's Presidential Debates. And I only call them "debates" since that's what they're being marketed as; if you read on you'll see that they are actually nothing of the kind.
I'd provide some personal stuff here except that I was up late Monday night writing, writing, slept late Tuesday morning, and hardly did anything all day (except blog what you see below), which means that 1) I've got nothing to talk about, and 2) I need to stop dicking around and get to work. I'd talk about the weather, which has become gloriously autumnal with highs in the upper 60s (we actually had the windows closed Tuesday afternoon) and lows in the 50s at night, except that my only comments are the following. 1) I could light the pilot light and turn on the heat, except that 2) it's easier just to put on a bathrobe over my sweatshirt. Fascinating dilemma, isn't it?
And now for some semi-news.
¤ Continuing the recent trend of overly-cute and embarrassingly-bad Olympic mascots, here's Guz and Neve, the official mascots of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics. Yes, Turin, formerly famous solely for that infamous shroud. No, I didn't know what country it was in either, but apparently Turin, AKA Torino, is a city of nearly 1m people in northwestern Italy, near France and Switzerland, in the Alps, which will certainly come in handy what with all of the snow and skiing the winter Olympics is known for. Anyway, here's a quote from the article about the new Olympic mascots.
Let the jokes begin. Monstrous snowmen? S'mores monsters? Albino jack-o-lanterns? The homunculus offspring of the Stay Puft marshmallow man from Ghostbusters?
And if you're wondering about my mention of past bad mascots, here are the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics mascot(s), which I never once saw at any point during the actual Olympics. They're enough to make you nostalgic for those Disney-fied cartoon animals from Salt Lake City 2002! Okay, not quite.
Fortunately, as a glance through the last half dozen Olympic mascots will remind you, these things exist only in advance to entice children into watching; they're never actually seen during the telecasts or games themselves, so aside from providing easy blog material for lazy cynics such as myself, they're largely harmless and without function.
Stay away from the official website if you want to retain the above opinion, since it's simply infested by the things, in numerous eye-jarring poses. The story of the mascot page has several more images, including a few that show Gliz's head to be partially transparent. Best of all in one shot they're both wearing ice skates on their swollen, toeless, sausage-like feet, so be sure you click here and join me in spending the rest of your life haunted by that image.
news story doesn't really explain things very clearly, but here's a
quote from it just to get things started.
In other words, the document the two candidates (Bush and Kerry, since this is America and we certainly can't allow any 3rd party candidate a sniff of publicity) signed says that there is to be no cutting away from the one talking to a reaction shot of the one not talking. And as the article recounts, that's been an issue in the past. What the article doesn't contain is any discussion or analysis of the actual 32-page agreement itself. In fact, I've yet to see any coverage of that document in the news, nor have I seen a link to an HTML version of it. The best I've seen is a link to an Adobe version of it on John Kerry's website, and you can view that here.
About the only blog post I've seen anywhere on it, other than a few referring to the above-quoted news article about the networks refusing to honor the strange "no reaction shots" provision, is this post by Bob Harris on ThisModernWorld.com. It's not a very good post; too much ad hominem (he refers to Bush as "monkey" half a dozen times), but he does point out a few of the more interesting requirements in the debate agreement. Here's an edited quote of his post:
This seems pretty ridiculous to me. I mean why even call it a "debate" if there's no actual debating allowed? It's basically a 90-minute joint press conference, where the candidates take turns answering softball questions in any manner they see fit, with no worry about being called on it by follow up questions. So it's all about who's more telegenic, who can twist a question to fit an answer they have prepared in advance, who can look more presidential, etc. This isn't a friendly conversation at a back yard BBQ with no consequences, this is a debate to decide who best to lead the most powerful nation on earth for the next four years. I want hardball questions and political and verbal skill on display. I want to see Bush grilled by questions about Iraq, the economy, his anti-environmental policy, his false pre-war excuses for invasion, etc. If he can't stand up to it and give reasonable answers under pressure, then what the hell is he running the country for? What would he do if there were an actual emergency that required decisive action? Sit still and read a children's book for 8 minutes and then scamper around the country in Air Force One all day like a frightened rabbit? (Oh wait...)
By the same token, Kerry should be hit with tough questions about Vietnam, his senatorial record, what he will do to turn the economy around, what he'll change in Iraq to make things better than they are under Bush, etc. And if he can't impress with his answers, he's not qualified for the job either.
It's hard to see the current "debate" format as anything other than a huge boon for Bush, given his famously inarticulate speaking style and inability to deal with direct questioning, but I would assume his handlers insisted upon this format or they wouldn't debate at all, and Kerry had to take what he could get. You'll also recall that 4 years ago everyone thought the lightweight Bush would be blown away by the much more intelligent and experienced Gore, yet when the lights came on Bush bumbled through well enough with his effected "aw shucks" mannerisms and smirk, frustrated Gore with his meandering, evading replies, Gore was the one sighing and frustrated by Bush's technique, and most of the post-debate discussion was about Gore's behavior, rather than Bush's performance. It's largely about expectations, and last time everyone thought Bush would embarrass himself. When he managed not to, it was seen as a win for him. I don't think Bush's people can set the bar so low for him this time, but with the incredibly-wimpy "debate" format, especially the rules eliminating follow up questions, it's hard to imagine how anyone could look too bad if they came in at all prepared.
It's not exactly about the debates, and it's as ugly as all of Ted Rall's artwork, but this recent comic, which I am reproducing in direct defiance of all copyright law, seems to sum up the debate issue pretty well.
All site content copyright "Flux" (Eric Bruce), 2002-2007.