Saturday, May 03, 2008

And the campaign goes on

In case anyone was wondering, Senator Clinton wasted her momentum from her 9.4% win in Pennsylvania by losing the Guam caucus by seven, yes 7, delegates.

Senator Obama had a 204 vote lead before Guam counted votes in its most populous village. The final count:
Senator Obama: 50.1%
Senator Clinton: 49.9%

Caucus Delegates:
Senator Obama: 2,264
Senator Clinton: 2,257

DNC Pledged Delegates:
Senator Obama: 2
Senator Clinton: 2

I believe that Obama will win the Super Delegate count in Guam by either 3 - 2 or 4 - 1. But with elections like these we will reach the total of 2,025 in February, right after the inauguration.

Eight Belles

Exciting, wasn't it? Eight Belles, a rare philly in the Kentucky Derby this afternoon. But then--after coming in second--she fell, broke both of her ankles, and had to be euthanized right on the track. Two years ago, Barbaro had a similar fate, after falling and suffering medical treatment for months.

I love the excitement of the Derby as much as the next girl, but one has to wonder about the ethics of a race in which two front-runners have died in three years. So I did a little research. PETA, expectedly, is opposed to horse racing in general. While PETA can sometimes be over the top, its argument on this one is solid:
Thoroughbreds are bred to have unnaturally delicate legs, are forced to run at ever-younger ages, and are drugged to mask injuries, which leads to horrifying and life-threatening injuries like Barbaro's. As a New York Daily News reporter remarked, “The thoroughbred race horse is a genetic mistake. It runs too fast, its frame is too large, and its legs are far too small. As long as mankind demands that it run at high speeds under stressful conditions, horses will die at racetracks.”
If you're interested, here's what PETA recommends, in terms of social action:
PETA is campaigning to get the Breeders' Cup's 2-year-old juvenile race, which is particularly harmful to young horses, canceled; many horses who have won that race have been forced to run injured or became “broken down” within the following year. Please call 1-800-RACE-CUP to voice your objections to this cruel event.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Obscure notes from the edge of the Universe...

If anyone was wondering what was the most useless human gadget ever invented, you can stop now as the contest is over. It appears that a few inventors, and marketing geniuses, in Switzerland created it: a $300,000 watch that does not tell time. From the WSJ:
Swiss watchmaker Romain Jerome just launched the "Day and Night" watch. The watch won’t tell you what time it is. That’s so yesterday. But it does tell you whether it’s day or night — helpful, I guess, for billionaire types who can’t afford windows.

As the company’s Web site boasts: “With no display for the hours, minutes or seconds, the Day&Night offers a new way of measuring time, splitting the universe of time into two fundamentally opposing sections: day versus night.”
What’s most impressive about the Day&Night is its complexity, given its absolute uselessness. The watch features two tourbillons — devices that overcome the ill effects of earth’s gravity on a watch’s accuracy — connected by a differential mechanism. Instead of hands, the watch has a “contemplative tourbillon operation whereby the ‘Day’ tourbillon operates for 12 hours to symbolize working life, while the ‘Night’ tourbillon takes over afterward to represent an individual’s private time.”

Like other Romain Jerome watches, the watch is made in part with steel salvaged from the sunken Titanic, along with material from the shipyard where it was built. That sounds creepy to me, but maybe today’s buyers prefer morbid metals.
And, if you are wondering, the watch sold out in 48 hours.

Oprah says. . .

According to Oprah the upcoming SATC: The Movie does not disappoint. This is one time that I really hope I agree with Oprah.

Appeal to Not Destroying It All

"The Gunner's Dream." Applied to our current moment, is this song a cogent refutation of John McCain and the many others who subscribe to the school of "thought" holding no world at all preferable to a world not thoroughly dominated by American market economy?

Or, just a naive little song?

Harrogate reports, you decide.

Visual Rhetoric and the American West

Yesterday in conversation with his Dissertation Chair, Harrogate said something which reminded his Chair of this lovingly murderous painting by John Gast, rendered in 1872. The Title is American Progress.

Later Harrogate found the following anonymous precis online:


Thursday, May 01, 2008

File Under Not Bloody Likely

In Campaigns and Elections, Joe Trippi, the former campaign manager for John Edwards, argues, rather unpersuasively, that if Edwards remained in the race he could have amassed enough power to broker the convention and a nomination for himself.
I didn't tell him what I should have told him: That I had this feeling that if he stayed in the race he would win 300 or so delegates by Super Tuesday and have maybe a one-in-five chance of forcing a brokered convention. That there was a path ahead that would be extremely painful, but could very well put him and his causes at the top of the Democratic agenda. And that in politics anything can happen-even the possibility that in an open convention with multiple ballots an embattled and exhausted party would turn to him as their nominee. I should have closed my eyes to the pain I saw around me on the campaign bus, including my own. I should have told him emphatically that he should stay in. My regret that I did not do so-that I let John Edwards down-grows with every day that the fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continues.
Yep, anything could happen. The Democrats could nominate Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, or AL Franken. However, since Edwards didn't win a state and your polling, self admittedly, looked worse and worse, maybe it was a good idea he dropped out. In 04 he could not win against a weak set of candidates; in 08, he could not win though he polled well against McCain, heh. And I liked Edwards and wanted him to do much better in 04 and 08 than he did. But there is a point...

But my favorite line has to be this, which symbolizes the problem with Edward's campaign:
It's not only painful for those still on staff to part with friends and colleagues, but it's very tough to take the level of your campaign down in order to survive. A campaign gets used to flying around in a chartered jet and using an air-conditioned bus. Now you're looking at staying at a Motel 6.
A Motel 6? No, you couldn't stay there could you because you would have actually have to had been like the average middle class voters you were trying to reach. Nope, it is easier to say there are "Two Americas."

But why this piece, now? Well, it is in the hypothetical:
That would mean Edwards, Obama and Clinton would go into the convention without any of them close to sealing the nomination. You would have had months of Obama and Clinton banging away at each other, with Edwards able to come across to weary Democrats as a welcome, fresh face.? You'd have the electability argument begin to play to Edwards' advantage, since he always did well against McCain in polling. These possibilities and more played through my mind.

If the Supers will be the ones who choose, meaning democracy through elections does not matter, then why not choose the fresh face who polled better than McCain in January. Now that would be democracy...

The HIstory of the Democratic Race

In Seven Minutes. Relive the glory, the agony, the defeat.

Well, Cross off Kentucky,,,

It appears that Senator Obama will not win the Kentucky primary or win Kentucky in the General Election. Any guesses why?

What Obama Wishes He Could say About Clinton

While Senator Obama is "weathering" William Ayers and Rev. Wright, Politico posted an article, "What Obama Wishes He Could Say" but somehow never does.

Back in April, Politico published "What Clinton Wishes She Could Say," which discussed why, according to the Clinton perspective, Obama could not win the general and should not win the primary. The beginning of the new article rehashes some of it.

Now, in the guise of fairness, Politico returned the favor and published an article damning Senator Clinton from the Obama perspective. This articles makes Wright and Ayers seem relatively minor.

I am still waiting for what Obama and Clinton would say against McCain but I do not think that is going to happen any time soon. Cynics may say that Politico may want to damage both Dems and leave McCain out of this struggle.

I still maintain that no matter who wins the Democratic primary, most signs point to a Democratic President. (See here, here, and here). But the games must continue.

May Day- Labour Holiday

Today is an international holiday, though you will probably not read or see too much about it today.

May Day,or International Workers Day, celebrates the social and economic achievements of the labor movement, such as the 8 hour work day.

For some reason, I just can't explain why, it is not a major holiday in the US and it gets more respect in Europe. Usually, there are marches in major cities, such as NYC, New Haven, and Portland.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some Reflections

I know I have been talking with a few you folks about my experiences with the job search. For those of you who don't know I had ridiculous amount of interviews during this years job search--I should preface this by saying I was not picky about where I applied so there was tremendous variety. Part of the reason I did this, was the fact that I had been through this before last year, while I was ABD at which time I had some interest in my work but nothing came of it--so to my ABD friends on here don't fret it if it does not pan out on the first go around, you all will get the props you deserve when degree is in hand--but I had the bulk of the materials together (again thanks Solon and Southpaw for a bit of help on the job letter) so I just shoveled the information out; I also sent things out very, very early to avoid excessive mailing costs and I sent everything electronically when I could. In hindsight I think my eagerness to apply to any and every job was an utterly stupid idea. For one I never realized how damn difficult it actually would be to have 13 conference interviews followed by 8 campus invites (I did not go to 3, 1 of those if you recall was the CA trip that was terminated that left me a free ticket, 2 I turned down once I received my 2 job offers). I basically spent all my time prepping and traveling (the joke that is). I did not realize how much actual research/work I would not be able to do, nor did I realize how far behind and horrible my classes would turnout to be (a couple of my courses I did not see my students for 3 1/2 weeks). But I guess, as I have been repeatedly told by my colleagues) the job stuff is ok considering that things were on the out at my current institution, despite what guilt I feel for not being an effective teacher.

Despite their reassurances this is still a tough pill to swallow because I do not feel that I have done my job as I should, and likewise, how can I fairly grade my student's when I have not been around to effectively evaluate their performances and give them proper feedback (I still have exams and papers that I'm grading that I received at the beginning of April and finals are in 2 weeks). How do I compensate for this in my grading; do I bump all my class grades up? How can I scold them and stick to the attendance policies (3 days missed letter grade deduction, 6 fail the course) concerning their excessive absences when I have probably missed 6 or 7 days of class if not more? How can it be ok that I missed this much as a result of my job search (which turned out be very successful) when I have not necessarily delivered on the product that my students (ok, their parents) paid for?

There is much more I could say about the whole interview process and the unethical questions that are asked that should not be like: are you married (maybe I'm a homosexual is that ok?); oh what does mrs. weight do (like I can tell you she is an academic too and expect to get a call back); oh you have a lite-weight as well (oh no one has kids here, guess I'm not getting that job either); oh who are you voting for (never mind I just told you that I'm a card carrying member of the NRA)? I know the flip side to this is that they are looking for people that will fit but these questions are not appropriate. But I'm still having issues about what I have put my 200 students through this semester and how it makes me feel as an educator.

Corn Politics

So as we all know our government has made GREAT policies in our increasing efforts to save our planet. Of the bone-headed ideas has been the increased production of bio-fuels--particularly corn-based ethanol--to reduce our dependency on that "evil foreign oil." Curiously these efforts have an unusual effect on the economy: the price of products connected to the corn industry have sky rocketed because corn farmers are now selling their corn bushels to ethanol planets for $5.50 or more --this includes eggs, beef, pork, poultry, salad dressings, pet food, you name it. Moreover, the production of corn ethanol and other forms of agriculturally produced bio-fuels actually causes more damage to the environment due to the increased carbon emissions that are the result of production and manufacturing processes . Although it is nice to see farmers finally make a buck for their hard work, the catch is that commodities increase, famine begins (not in our country but in others throughout the world dependent on our corn exports), and the pressures on the environment increase. Thus, nothing good comes of this: so why the hell are both parties' presidential candidates (I cannot speak for Obama) continuing to fund such ridiculous fuel efforts? I guess we can just take Bush's lead and start drilling oil in Alaska instead of making the automakers and oil companies finally realize that they need to make changes: GM has recorded another quarterly lose with its love for the Suburban and Exxon-Mobil is in the middle of a governing shakeup--the Exxon issue was brought about by the Rockefellers, who founded the company because the company has been paying scientist to create false counter arguments that there is not such thing as environmental damage nor have they explored other fuel alternative energy sources, which will eventually kill the company.

Well must go educate the masses but just had to stand on my soapbox a second and vent!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

By Request

Solon asked that I post this blurb from a piece I stumbled across at Wondertime (where I faithfully read the Dalai Mama every week). Apparently, it can be found in an anthology, Blindsided by a Diaper. The excerpted essay, "Harried with Children: Communication Breakdown," was written by Kermit Pattison:
I liken my marriage to a once-great civilization that was sacked when a horde of Viking dwarves came ashore and had their way with us. Since then, it's been a saga of trying to communicate while the barbarians are at the baby gate.
Yup. I totally get it! (And the teething-but-still-charming Viking dwarf, by the way, is in large part the reason behind my recent disappearance from the Situation. That, and the necessity of finishing another dissertation chapter--not yet begun--by the end of July.)

It's Called Being Pregnant; or, Celebs are Human Too

Warning: Bitchiness ahead. is reporting that Angelina Jolie is having a very difficult pregnancy: “The babies are heavy, and she’s exhausted from the weight. The pressure can make it hard for her to breathe at times, and she tires out very easily.” Really? That's so unusual! I've never heard of a pregnant woman having such experiences. How did things go with Shiloh? Did a stork deliver her?

Newsflash: Pregnancy is physically demanding--for some more than others.

End bitchiness (for now).

Save Knut and the Polar Bears (who lived where it was cold)

According to The New Republic, a California judge ordered President Bush to declare, in the next sixteen days, whether or not polar bears are endangered animals due to global warming.

I do not know what to say.

Debate over the Debate

Here is an interesting take on another Democratic Debate from Mr. Tuesday Morning Questerback (TMQB), Greg Easterbrook.
Record ratings for series finale of "Debate Friends": Jon Stewart says Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama debated so many times, their smackdown was a reality series. Now the 21-epsiode series has ended -- but without a series finale. Here is the tear-jerking series finale episode:

Shown: A familiar apartment. Scattered around are various sentimental objects: a foosball table, coffee cups from Central Perk, a deck of pinochle cards, bowling balls, travel brochures to Hawaii, Bibles, camouflage hunting suits and lots of shotguns. Hillary Clinton is seen dabbing back tears.


In the final reel, they made up and made out. The Barack-Hillary series finale may be somewhat different.

HILLARY: I can't believe I went to the wrong airport! I thought he was arriving at Dulles, but it was Andrews Air Force Base. I went to the wrong airport and missed him! I was going to beg him not to take his new job as president, and just go on debating me forever. (Throws back a shot of Crown Royal.) Maybe I should shoot some ducks to take my mind off this. (Picks up a shotgun.) I wonder which end the bullets go in? (Pours another shot of whiskey and throws her head back.)

(Unseen by Hillary, Barack Obama has stepped into the doorway and has been standing behind her the entire time.)

BARACK: I can't leave you. I just gave my ticket on Air Force One to John McCain. He can be president -- that seems to be what the Democratic National Committee wants, anyway. We'll go on running against each other forever.

HILLARY: Are you bitter?

BARACK: There's a campaign bus outside waiting for us. I heard there's a primary in Manitoba. It's nonbinding -- but let's go!

HILLARY: Oh Barack, promise me there will be sniper fire!

(They leave hand in hand. Schmaltzy music plays, and we see the apartment door close.)

Update on Michigan Vote in Democratic Primary

Democrats in Michigan proposed a 69 - 59 split in favor of Senator Hillary Clinton for the Michigan Delegates. This proposal finds some balance between the original elections in January, the desire of Senator Clinton to seat the elections as is, and the suggestion of a 50-50 split by Senator Barack Obama.

This proposal is an attempt to provided representation for the citizens of the state but there are a few unanswered questions. First, What happens with the popular vote? I am not what happens with the popular vote or the Super Delegates. Since the elections were illegitimate, the popular vote in Michigan cannot contribute to the popular vote total.

Second, will the Super Ds still possess a voice in the process? Since the political officials in Michigan caused the problems to being with, then it may not be a problem if they lose their vote.

Finally, if both the pledged and super delegates are seated, what is the punishment? If the Super Delegates were to be seated, then there will be no punishment for Michigan, making 2012 ripe for problems. This exercise would represent bad parenting on the part of the DNC, which may be just another knock on the Democrats (bad) desire for eternal parentalism.

Neither candidate may desire this though they may need to accept it. If there is no resolution, the DNC credentials committee will decide the fate of Michigan and Florida on May 31st.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Rhetoric of Miley Cyrus

Because we here at the Situation read all things rhetorical I wonder what my fellow bloggers make of the "controversy" surrounding Annie Liebovitz's recent portrait of Miley Cyrus. It seems that the photos are being read as too sexual for a 15-year-old girl, and Cyrus has publicly stated that she is "embarrassed" by the photos and she has also admitted to being excited to work with Leibovitz. I want to present these photos in the context of the celebrity gossip cites and in the context of the Vanity Fair article.

First, MSNBC is running a headline on its homepage that reads "Miley Cyrus embarrassed by photos." (For the record I clicked on the link because I had read on Vanity Fair's website last week that Liebovitz was photographing Cyrus for May's cover story and wondered if these were the same photos.) When you click on the link you're directed to one of MSNBC's gossip columns which displays this picture. The picture displayed is grainy and oddly cropped. I have to admit that I didn't click on the video link because I assumed it was a clip of one of the entertainment shows and didn't want to see it.

Second, Vanity Fair's website has all the photos from the shoot online. First, in the context of the shoot, it becomes immediately clear that Cyrus was not nude for the photo in question; she was simply made to look as though she was nude. Second, according to Vanity Fair and Leibovitz, Cyrus and both of her parents discussed the concept of the shoot with Leibovitz fairly extensively and agreed to the tone of the shoot. Her parents had been on set most of the day, and although they were not present when the photo in question was taken, her teacher and her grandmother were. From the slide show on Vanity Fair, it seems clear that Cyrus agreed to the shoot, was not pressured in any way, and had fun while taking the shot that has caused all sorts of controversy.

I understand that part of the issue with the portrait is that Cyrus is famous for being a Disney star. She has made her career out of being as wholesome and likable as her television persona. That said, I feel like this story and photo shoot were probably intended to portray Cyrus as capable of taking on more diverse, more difficult, and, possibly, more sexual roles. After all if this young woman intends to make it as an actress, she will have to prove she can do more than star on a Disney show. From that perspective, this seems like a fairly smart move to me. Vanity Fair is a reputable magazine, and Leibovitz is a well known and well respected photographer. What doesn't seem so smart and what confuses the rhetoric of the photograph is Cyrus's decision to say she's embarrassed by the photo and to apologize to her fans. Why the confusing message? Why take the photograph, one that she clearly agreed to, if she is only going to apologize for it as soon as it hits the press? This is one rhetorical move I don't understand.

Mixing News and Fashion

Can any explain the rationality behind CNN Shirts?

According to CNN, you can order T-Shirts with CNN headlines.

My favorite so far is: "Smuggled Workers Turned into Slaves." A close second: "Barracks aswim in feces, ickiness."

Now that is fashion...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Question of the Day....

Would anyone like to guess the meaning of the phrase, "Vatican Roulette?"