Friday, August 29, 2008

Is this bad for Obama, you want to know?

John McCain has announced his VP choice, and it's none other than Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Um. Who? You know, Sarah Palin, the former Miss Alaska runner-up who was mayor of Wasilla (population 5,470) before losing a race for Lieutenant Governor and finally scoring an upset win for Governor of Alaska in 2006 (population 683,478 - 47th largest state in the Union!).

Apparently, this move is supposed to cinch the election by attracting all 18 million of Hilary Clinton's supporters to the Republican ticket.

There will be a few former Hilary supporters who's main objective is seating a woman in the White House, regardless of party or policy, who will be swayed. But I believe they are a tiny sliver of HRC's former supporters.

Anybody who was for Hilary for what she stood for will back away in horror from the McCain-Palin ticket, and specifically from McCain's "appeasing" of them by selecting a pro-life, big-oil connected, NRA member who returned to work last April only three days after giving birth to a premature baby with Down syndrome.

That Palin is willing to hit the national campaign trail at this time in her family's history says volumes about her ambition and priorities, but very little for her judgment - or McCain's.

(Just forget the fact that she's served less than two years as governor of a state with fewer people than most mid-sized cities - We will not play the "experience card").

I applaud McCain for choosing a woman (24 years after the Democrats nominated a woman VP candidate), but why Palin? Christine Todd Whitman would have attracted many more crossover voters and independents, to name one possibility.

So, I'd be tempted to say, this is good for Obama and bad for McCain, but in the end, the VP choices don't mean all that much (how do you spell "Quayle?"). The battle is between the two at the top of their party's tickets.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First thoughts on the Biden choice...

I like Big Joe. Earlier I was hoping for Jim Webb, but he took himself out of the running. So, good choice. I have no complaints.

The criticism of Biden that I've seen so far (and this is just from a few hours of the news being out) do not focus on Biden (he's hard to find fault in), but on Obama.

The same people who two weeks ago were saying that "Obama needs to shore up his outsider status and domestic policy expertise with somebody who knows how Washington works and has foreign policy expertise" are now saying "This shows Obama knows he's weak, and is really another DC insider."

Look, these people were not going to approve of Obama's VP choice, no matter who it was. Another outsider would have been criticized as lacking experience or depth. Another minority or a woman would have been criticized as "asking for too much" or "insulting the mainstream."

Senator Obama did the right thing by "balancing the ticket" - something every nominee strives to do, no matter the party or situation.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Invisibility, Anyone?

Way back, a few decades ago, I was in a screenwriting class, and the assignment was to do an adaptation of a classic short story. I chose "The Damned Thing" by Ambrose Bierce; the story of an invisible beast causing all sorts of havoc. I loved the opening scene of the coroner examining the latest victim spread out on a table in a room full of onlookers, and that chapter's title: "One does not always eat what is on the table."

The instructor for the course said I did a good job of translating the narrative into action, and succeeded in being faithful to the original story, while still making it my own, and yet he still graded me down for my choice of story. "The damned thing about it," he said, was that it was "just completely unbelievable." Perhaps Bierce could fool some 19th century boobs into thinking an invisible creature or some sort of invisible material could exist, but not a mature audience three-quarters of the way into the 20th century.

Well, here in the 21st century, researchers at the University of California Berkeley have just invented a light-deflecting technique that could one day be used to make materials that would render objects invisible. Yep. The invisibility cloak. Real. And the scientists say that "there is no fundamental reason why the same principles cannot be scaled up one day to make invisibility cloaks big enough to hide a person, a tank or even a tanker."
The work at Berkeley is the latest development in the 40-year scientific quest to make light, and other electromagnetic waves, jump through hoops and bend to human will.

In essence, the Berkeley scientists created two unimaginably tiny mazes using nanotechnology that, by virtue of the materials used, exert subtle electromagnetic effects that confuse light waves into developing the physics equivalent of a split personality.
Yes. It is now theoretically possible to create a material that bends light around it, giving it the appearance of whatever is behind or beside it. "And the Damned Thing is of such a color."

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