Body language.

Yeah, I’m watching the debate.

My impression so far is that Barack Obama is doing much better. He has provided real answers to the moderator’s questions, regardless of what you think of those answers. John McCain, on the other hand, has been vague; when he has provided specific examples, they are almost irrelevant. He has made a couple of good points, but those are commonsense ideas that could have come from either candidate. He has also told multiple provable lies.

However, much more than the content of their speech, one thing in particular has stood out to me. That is the demeanor of the two candidates.

Obama has the appropriate debater’s stance. He appears open and energetic, and he divides his attention between the moderator, the audience, and his opponent. When he speaks to McCain, he looks at him; when McCain is speaking, Obama looks at him.

McCain will not look at Obama. He keeps himself turned away from his opponent. When Obama speaks to him, McCain keeps his head down or turned away. On the few occasions when he has spoken (semi-)directly to Obama, he doesn’t even look at him then. He even has his body turned away from Obama.

That is bizarre. It is either defensive or dismissive. Regardless, it is rude, and displays a lack of respect for his opponent. That violates one of the most basic rules of debating, in which both individuals, no matter their difference of opinion, treat each other with general respect.

McCain is a liar. By this point, his entire campaign is based on lies, which have come almost on a daily basis. It is remarkable that his behavior during the debate is that of a liar: the downcast eyes; the defensive physical posture; the refusal to look at his accuser directly.

So McCain is either displaying the characteristic behavior of someone feeling shame, or he is being intentionally disrespectful of his opponent. Either way, I can’t imagine how that could play well with a general audience, though I’m sure the right-wing racist Christofascist base will love it.

And then there is McCain’s death’s-head smirk.

TAGS: , ,


Up & down - a request.

In August, I got a job. I had been unemployed since leaving the Army, and I was starting to get worried. I had my savings, but they would have run out eventually; what would I have done then?

Then I got the job. It was the one I had been hoping for, and it was more than halfway across the country. For the first time, I got to leave the place of my birth and irrelevance without shackles (the Army may be great in many ways, but it comes with many conditions that put restrictions on your life).

So I moved, and I like my job, my coworkers, and my new home. The only thing that I dislike is the drive to work in city traffic every morning. For the first time, it seems that things are starting to work out for me.

At the same time, two of my friends have suffered serious downturns in their own lives. One of those friends is a real-world, personal friend whom I have known for many years. The other is a virtual friend whom I have known for only about a year and a half, and then only through blog comments and email; nevertheless, I owe her a special debt of gratitude, and feel very close to her despite the fact that we will never meet in person.

It seems terribly unfair, though one could say that I’ve already experienced the suffering portion of life. Just a few years ago, everything in my life was different; my future was only a sliver of hope, and I had no idea what to do about things. If it had not been for my mother, I can imagine what would have happened – though I do not like to do so.

It is because I’ve been there that I believe the things that I do. I have watched religion fail those in need time and again, and I know that the only things we have to rely on is each other. I have seen the self-interest and indifference of those in positions of power, and I know that the hierarchy – any hierarchy – is always going to fail those who near the bottom. I have no confidence in the government to solve our problems in society, because the government is always incompetent – though some shades of governments are worse than others, and we should continue to fight against them.

We live in a world of particles and forces, and the only intelligence comes from our own brains. That is also the only source of goodness, just as it is also the only source of evil. I spent too much time trying to convince myself otherwise, so that I could rationalize the dichotomies in my life. Disillusionment was the result.

I don’t know what to do to help out my real-life friend. However, if anyone stops by and reads this, you can help out my virtual friend, Deb, by going to her fantastic site, clicking the PayPal button, and helping her save her mother. If there is anything else you can do, then please do it.

Remember: if we do not have each other, then we don’t have anything at all.


3 to 2, plus Chrome.

I uninstalled Firefox 3 this week. It was a hard thing to do: to go back to FF2 after I'd gotten accustomed to many of the new features in FF3.

I had to do it, though, because FF3 was sloooooooooow. It took forever to start up, and then it would hang or even crash when I tried to do something. I tried everything I could think of: I thought maybe ZoneAlarm Forcefield could be causing the problem, so I shut it down. No effect. Reverting to FF2 has restored the speed I was used to, and I haven't lost any of the important features since Mozilla still hosts extensions compatible with the older version.

It's been a bad couple of weeks for browsers, actually. I thought I'd try out Google Chrome, but it crashed at install. Today, I've been getting errors from Blogger every time I tried to update my blog template; doing the same thing in Internet Explorer worked just fine (I keep IE around just for times like that).

Ugh, maybe it's time to clean the computer out. I certainly need to defrag the hard disk, but I've got a lot of software running that could go away without causing me any heartache. I have no intention of reinstalling Windows, but I should make a list of unnecessary applications and do some uninstalls. Maybe I could get Chrome to work then.



I have been having problems with my blog templates.

"Open Threat" is not formatted properly. Blogger continually ignores my commands, so what you see on screen is not what I have selected behind the scenes. This is problematic: the design of the blog is very important to me, and I cannot be happy with it until it looks the way I want it to.

As you may or may not be aware, I recently closed my old blog, "(adventures of) Ponzo", and stripped it bare of all my old posts. You may or may not be aware of why I did this. Anyway, I decided to resurrect "adventures of Ponzo", and have been struggling with the template there as well. I never could get Disqus to work there, so "aoP" is running Intense Debate.

I have no idea why I am having this much trouble, and I have considered switching over to Wordpress. I like Blogger, however, because it gives me more and faster control over the template, and Blogspot is a more widely used host. If my recent tinkering has worked, then I should have trackbacks installed for Blogger (use Greasemonkey and the script you can find here).

As far as the two blogs go, I am going to post to both of them for the time being. I will decide which one to keep eventually. I know that this probably falls into the category of "theatrics", and I apologize; what happened a couple of months ago happened at the worst possible time. It caused me to overreact, but I think it also gave me an opportunity to reassess the attitude I had had with this whole blogging thing.


And so it begins anew.

I came back online last week. I’ve not posted, though. I wish I could say that it’s because I’ve been busy, but that’s only partly true. The main reason is that I’ve just felt overwhelmed lately by the present state of affairs in America and the world.

It feels like trying to dig yourself out of a mountain of shit with a toy shovel, while every shovelful of shit you manage to displace results in many times that amount being added in its place.

The sheer mendacity and malevolence of the Republican Party is only to be expected. Is it not John McCain’s daily lies, but that so many Americans are prepared to believe them. It is not the shallow Christian corruption of Sarah Palin, but that so many Americans have been distracted by McCain’s new shiny thing. Polls now show a tight presidential race: how could this be? Are people so blind? Are they so stupid? Are they so evil?

Sure, it might not be that way if not for the fecklessness of the Democrats. Barack Obama has had so many chances to prove himself the better candidate (and, next to McCain, he remains such), but he has failed again and again. Once he got the nomination, another Obama arose to take the place of the first one. For me, it was his vote on the FISA bill that did it. I swore after that that he had lost my vote; if McCain were not such a fucking mess, that might still be true.

For the record, I have been unimpressed by Obama and the Democratic Party since that fateful vote. Obama is not a “progressive”, nor is he a “leftist” or a “socialist” or a “Marxist”. I am all of those things, to varying degrees, and he can only disappoint. I am also an atheist, and the Democratic embrace of religiosity at the DNC did not go over well with me. Like we needed anymore, that was just more evidence that the Democrats are “Republicans-lite”; there is no left-wing in American politics.

It’s enough to make you want to throw up your hands and walk away from it in disgust. We Americans live in the wealthiest country in the world, which shares far too many vital statistics in common with third-world countries. If this election goes the wrong way, then that will be it for America’s relevance in the world; the country at that point will exist only to be feared and hated, to fear and hate.

John Edwards always talked about “two Americas”. I never really liked Edwards, but at least I can say that that precluded any disappointment on my part regarding his affair. He was right about the “two Americas” thing, though. How can you tell the difference between the two? One of them doesn’t have to surrender their civil rights to get on an airplane.

So, this has been my “back from hiatus” post. Not quite as brief as I had originally intended, but it got the job done. Now I can write without having to explain my absence (though I will do that soon).