Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I'll thought I'd share a few thoughts about him with you, in no particular order:
- Overall, I was disappointed. I don't want to vote for a president just because he has stage presence and charisma, but boy it sure would help to have a little bit if you're going to be on the world stage. Unfortunately Richardson came across as your kooky uncle who regales you with anecdotes that bear only passing resemblance to relevance and was pretty forgetful on top of it all.
- I'm a technology snob (see some previous posts) and I have to say I couldn't believe that http://billrichardson.com does not go to Bill Richardson's election campaign! Instead it goes to a landing page that I'm sure is making someone lots of money.
- When you do go to his actual website at http://richardsonforpresident.com/ there's no search box! The feeling of panic I had in the pit of my stomach when I figured this out is obviously extreme for a normal person, but still, this is pretty egregious.
- On the other hand, his website did have a few really funny ads where he pretends to be having a job interview.
- Richardson started his speech by telling us that he wasn't going to give us his stump speech because we were too smart for that. I have to say, I'm too smart to fall for the "you're too smart" speech too.
- He then went into a rambling discussion of some of the issues that he thinks are important. Often throughout the talk he would say he had three points to make and only make one or two. He also discussed a lot of issues about things that were relevant to New Mexico but not really important in Seattle (like water rights)
- Every once in a while he would turn on the charm and say some pretty funny things, like "I’m not a rock star" (if you'd seen him you'd know why this is funny) and "my consultants hate me to use the word 'sacrifice' as part of my energy policy because it sounds like I'm turning into Jimmy Carter...are you going to wear a sweater?" and “Chavez is not a stable guy”
- There were a few areas that he seemed really passionate about, but the one he kept saying he was most advanced of all democratic candidates on was about his energy policy. When you read his website it sounds reasonable, and he kept saying that we need a policy like Kennedy's race to the moon to solve it, which of course I agree with. Unfortunately several people asked him questions about it but he never articulated any substantial ideas other than saying we need to mandate carbon limits and that NM was the only state that was following the rules of the Kyoto Protocol. This was the same for his policy on education.
- Twice during his talk he forgot words and had to yell for his advisors to help him remember what various things were called (for instance, he forgot the name for the "100 mpg car" that he claimed credit for - the name is "100 mpg car" so it's not like it's really hard to remember)
- In the intro, the gentleman introducing Richardson said that he'd been nominated for the Nobel peace prize four times. As has been pointed out, though, nominations for the Nobel peace prize are kept secret for 50 years so we have no way of confirming this, and furthermore all it takes to get nominated is for any government employee to add you to the list.
As I look back on this list of random thoughts, it sounds like the talk was worse than it actually was. However overall I was disappointed and I'm hoping that the other candidates who come through (especially the democratic ones of course) impress me a bit more. If you have any thoughts on Richardson and why I should re-evaluate, I'd love to hear them.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
*I tried to find something to like about Twitter and the only thing that seems remotely amusing is the fact that it lends itself to a new art form - Twitter Haiku. Here's apparently a real one:
very crazy day
please don't ask me about work
Not a lot of redeeming value (especially since in spoken English you'd elide the second and third syllable of the last word and end up with a 4-syllable line instead of 5 as a Haiku demands) but it's as much as I could find.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I'm happy to report that NPR doesn't always just report on stuff we can feel superior for knowing, but occasionally, it does cover lame pop culture. Today on Day to Day, they did a fun piece interviewing a bunch of Gilmore Girls fans and covering topics like the show's recent ratings, why the show sucked the past year (apparently the main writer quit last year right after making Luke and Lorelai break up) and spoilers about the finale. I kind of felt like I'd been sneaking a read at People magazine in the supermarket checkout, but I have to say, I really enjoyed the piece.
- They make Mohitos there - yum
- Americans aren't supposed to visit*
- Castro is sick but his previously unknown brother doesn't seem to be any less into crazy communist theories than he is.
Okay, so really I know a few more things, but those were the main ones. What I didn't know was that, as part of the Communist mantra, all Cubans get a house. However, they're not allowed to buy or sell houses because they've been granted them by the government, so if they want to move, they have to find someone who's willing to swap houses! Every day there's a house-swapping spot (isn't this a great opportunity for Craig's List -Cuban edition?) where people gather to discuss who wants to move where. If people want to move in together they have to find two people who live together and want to split up. If people want to move out of a neighborhood (as long as they're not in one of the areas that the government has declared dead zones and can't be traded into or out of) they have to find someone who wants to move in and is living where they want to go to. And after finding a match, they need to get government approval! There is of course a black market of people swapping houses and offering or demanding money in exchange, but either way this was a fascinating glimpse into a very different culture.
* When I told him about this story, J mentioned that Michael Moore was doing a documentary about health care and took a bunch of Canadian journalists to Cuba to get their opinion on Cuba's free health care system and now he's getting in trouble with the US government for having visited. For some reason this struck me as funny.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
- Damn, I knew I was doing badly at my "eat local" goals when I tried that mango last week, but I really hadn't thought through bananas. Bananas are a staple at our house. J will only eat them when they're at the perfect ripeness but I like them in almost any condition - in cereal when under-ripe, on brown rice crackers with peanut butter when perfect, and in banana pancakes when they're past their prime. Mmmm. I'm not giving them up, even if they do get carted all the way from Guatemala. So much for my ideals.
- The fact that the carbon output of a banana is the same whether you stick it in the garbage disposal or in the compost pile isn't the only thing to consider, and I'm disappointed that they wouldn't have reported that of course it's better to compost it and re-use the remains than to stick it in a landfill (or in the Juan de Fuca Straight if you're in Victoria)
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
So what's not to love? Well, the fact that it's not all jolly in the world of micro-loans. Time did a great story on them back in April, and while they included several success stories, they also talked about the darker side - namely that many people are using their micro-loans to pay off debt rather than start a business, or even worse, to buy consumer goods. By the time they're done they're even more in debt than when they started. As micro-loans become more popular, for-profit companies are getting into the game, and their screening process to make sure that the money will be used wisely is much less strict because ultimately they just want to loan the money out (and get up to 60% interest because the borrowers are so high risk!) Also, all the charity money going into micro-loans means that much less is going towards developing infrastructure and other necessities in these countries.
While I like the idea of giving directly and potentially seeing immediate results, I think if people really want to help, they should sponsor a child's education through one of the many programs available - long term that will help raise a generation who can support themselves.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
A couple of hours later as I was driving to C's house for TNFN, I overheard the BBC News doing an in depth story on the Dow Jones offer as well. However, in a story that seemed equally long, they only covered the offer and why Mr. Murdoch was interested in Dow Jones, leaving the listener (if they hadn't heard David Folkenflik earlier in the afternoon) convinced that the offer must be on the verge of going through. It was an interesting case where you could clearly see the difference in quality between the two stories. I have to admit, given the BBC's biased coverage of almost all stories regarding Israel, that I wasn't too sad to see them look a bit silly.