Only Hunts Blaculas

Aaron has one of those 1000 word pictures that ties in with my previous post about how truly scared the wingnuts are of loosing this election. They’re resorting to slurs and name calling, if not outright crazy talk, flinging poo in the hope that some of it sticks. He’s a Muslim, a terrorist, a socialist, etc. etc. you’ve heard them all already, I’m sure.

But Obama is even worse than all these things. He is the epitome of the wingnuts worst nightmare: a moderate black man with a foreign sounding name. What really has them scared is the possibility that Obama might be a popular and effective leader. That he might undo some of the horrible, horrible mess they’ve cheered on over the last eight years. That scares them more than anything, that a black man might make them and their hate irrelevant.

Everything else is just theatrics

Who Knew Sharks Loved Chum So Much?

There’s a certain perverse pleasure to be had in watching the McCain campaign implode so dramatically right before the election.[1] Who would have thought, chumming for votes from the crazies would have gone so horribly wrong?

We all know by now how bogus McCain’s claim to being a maverick is, but there was, once upon a time, an area where he did buck the GOP system and go against the party. There was a day when McCain kept the Religious Right at arm’s length and told the fundies like Pat Robertson where they could take their special interests.[2] Obviously, you can’t win an election as a Republican by doing this. Your policies simply aren’t popular enough to carry a majority win without the wingnuts on your side. Normally, this isn’t a problem for the GOP, who have successfully used the Southern Strategy for the last 30 years to ensure they had the crazy vote locked up before the primaries even began. But that’s where McCain’s maverickiness got him in trouble. He didn’t count on the crazification factor biting him in the ass.

Previous dunderheaded Republicans bumbled their way into office by sweet talking the fundies, racists, homobigots, Birchers, anti-UNers and gun nuts early on. They throw a few bones to the social conservative fringe while they’re still governing Texas (as an example) and then spend the primaries trying to appeal to the moderates, swing voters and conservative Democrats who are tired of loosing. If you get the 27%ers early on like this, all you need is to win over another quarter of the voting populace.[3] But McCain’s a Maverick. He didn’t appeal to the rabid base before the primaries and so has spent his time trying to do two mutually incompatible things at once: win over the lunatic fringe and the moderates. And we’ve seen how well that’s worked.

It’s become obvious that his biggest gamble was nominating Sarah Palin as his running mate. He bet the whole race on a divide and conquer tactic – She’d throw red meat to the rabid base while he glad handed the moderates and swing voters. That’s why, right after the convention, they were rarely seen together. They were traveling in different circles. But those circles collided once it became obvious that Sarah Palin was too good at her job. Once your supporters start chanting “Traitor!” and “Kill him!” at rallies, you’ve got a mess on your hands that the little lady from Wasilla (wink) can’t handle on her own. So, daddy McCain has to step in and get his hands dirty, telling the base to shut the fuck up or they’ll ruin everything. Which just reminds them that this man, whose name is at the top of the ticket, is not one of them. Never has been.

Which is the real problem. Wingnuts most assuredly are a pack of morons, but they know that Sarah Palin is no Darth Cheney and however much they may want her to be the puppet master of a McCain administration, it simply won’t happen. Which has them even more pissed off than usual.[4]

It must suck to realize that your running mate is more popular than you are but that’s the situation John McCain is in right now, a week before the election. Tough luck, Johnny boy.

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1. Standard democratic voters caveat applies: just because McCain is 8 points behind and flailing like a special needs student who’s lost his helmet, it doesn’t mean we should get relaxed. If the GOP know how to do one thing, it’s throw an election. Vote Obama, as early as you can.

2. Mostly this was because Jon McCain had his hands full with Wall Street lobbyists who wanted him to lead the deregulation brigade, so they could change the rules and make buckets of money trading shitty loans that they had repackaged, artificially inflating the housing investment market. Because hey, what could go wrong there?

3. Which is where the swing states come in. There’s a reason Florida and Ohio have always been hotly contested and it is only partly to do with these states being the home of so many stupid, stupid people undecided voters. They’ve been rigged to be swing states through a combination of fucked up primaries, redistricting and electoral shenanigans. Voting in these states is such an arduous process that only the most dedicated citizens will bother.The GOP, counting on the poor and disenfranchised not to spend time arguing about IDs, polling addresses and hanging chads, concentrate all their effort in contesting the results in these states so that they maintain a safety zone well inside the margin of error.

4. The wingnuts are already hyperventilating at the idea of a moderate black man with a foreign sounding name becoming president. It should be interesting to see what lunacy they develop during the forthcoming Obama administration. And by interesting I mean repulsive, frightening and sad.

Writing Software

I’ve been having problems finding a good, reliable open source word processing program. MS Office is a bloated piece of crap, so naturally it’s the industry standard, even if you have to rejigger the preferences as it was not intended for creative writing. Also, not OS. OpenOffice 3.0 was just released and there are plans to port it to Aqua for Macs… eventually. All previous versions require installing X11 so it can run in a Unix environment, which is a pain, especially if you want to run a browser at the same time. NeoOffice, the Aqua-native version of OpenOffice, is buggy.

I’ve had mixed results using online word processors. Google Docs, besides having a silly EULA, doesn’t support footnotes* and requires mucho reformatting once it’s exported. Zoho does support footnotes but still requires reformatting, isn’t quite WYSIWYG and ever since they mysteriously upgraded last week, has been buggy.

Even if Zoho gets it’s act together, I’ll still need a program to prep a manuscript for print. Preferably a free one but I’d be willing to pay for an inexpensive program if it worked for my needs. Any ideas?

UPDATE 10/20: I found a nifty little app called JDarkRoom, a light little Jav-based word processor that runs in full screen mode with no distracting tabs or buttons. Just a black screen with green monospaced text, like the old MS Works used to be. It’s simple, elegant and creates a nice environment to play in, just you and the words.

Still have to use MS Office or OO to format text after the fact but that’s not so bad actually. It’s weird: I didn’t realize how much I missed the old green text on black screen. It’s really engaging. Like how you dream about words. How I do, anyway.

Makes me wonder if there will be a minimalist computer renaissance: eschuing all the fancy designerly polish for green on black screen, low rez, minimal GUI and 8 bit design. Functionality and form over excessive processor speeds and pointless Flash doodle. I’d buy that for a dollar.

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* Which I use quite a bit.

Clap Louder, You Swine!

Daniel over at Crooked Timber has a nice little post on the financial crisis and how, contrary to popular opinion, it wasn’t the result of stupid bankers banking stupidly, but from far more complex issues, as financial problems tend to be. As an aside, he linked to this article in the Spectator by Melanie Phillips, who blames the bankers (of course) but also casts the whole predicament in the frame of the culture war, so that it isn’t just the fault of an army of incompetent professionals infiltrating the highest echelons of the financial industry, but also the fault of all us atheists. Again. Our moral perfidity is so far reaching as to have touched even the sacred halls of the banking industry, which, until Richard Dawkins came along, was lily white and motivated purely by Christ’s injunction to take what thou hast and give it to the poor at an adjustable, 30 year rate with high yield dividends.[1]

Continue reading “Clap Louder, You Swine!”

Welcome to the Desert of the Real, Chris

Christopher Buckley, son of William F., founder of the Neocon Rag, the National Review, has “resigned” over the snarling rancour caused by his Obama endorsement:

As for the mail flooding into National Review Online—that’s been running about, oh, 700-to-1 against. In fact, the only thing the Right can’t quite decide is whether I should be boiled in oil or just put up against the wall and shot. Lethal injection would be too painless.

I had gone out of my way in my Beast endorsement to say that I was not doing it in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column, because of the experience of my colleague, the lovely Kathleen Parker. Kathleen had written in NRO that she felt Sarah Palin was an embarrassment. (Hardly an alarmist view.) This brought 12,000 livid emails, among them a real charmer suggesting that Kathleen’s mother ought to have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a dumpster. I didn’t want to put NR in an awkward position.

Since my Obama endorsement, Kathleen and I have become BFFs and now trade incoming hate-mails. No one has yet suggested my dear old Mum should have aborted me, but it’s pretty darned angry out there in Right Wing Land. One editor at National Review—a friend of 30 years—emailed me that he thought my opinions “cretinous.” One thoughtful correspondent, who feels that I have “betrayed”—the b-word has been much used in all this—my father and the conservative movement generally, said he plans to devote the rest of his life to getting people to cancel their subscriptions to National Review. But there was one bright spot: To those who wrote me to demand, “Cancel my subscription,” I was able to quote the title of my father’s last book, a delicious compendium of his NR “Notes and Asides”: Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription.

Welcome to the world you and your dad created, Mr. Buckley. You and he spent 30 years riling up these dingbats, force feeding them Free Market Fundamentalism, racism, anti-liberal nincompoopery and general selfishness and now are surprised that they’ve turned on you for endorsing the embodiment of all they fear: a moderate black man with an ethnic-sounding name.

I’d cry for you, but thanks to the economic meltdown you helped champion, I can’t afford a hanky.

But. Look on the bright side: you’ve learned a lesson. Conservativism has failed. And there is a viable alternative. A few more decades, we’ll make a socialist of you yet.

Viva la Revolucion!

I was hoping to live long enough to see the US adopt some Socialist ideas, I just didn’t expect it to happen like this, or this quickly. Yikes. John Quiggin:

A couple of days ago, I thought my call for full-scale nationalisation of the banking sector would remain beyond the pale of political acceptability for at least a week. But in today’s paper I read the following, very sensible assessment

“Inevitably, the US, Britain and Europe are going to end up with nationalised banking systems in one form or another, and with governments guaranteeing not only their deposits but probably all their liabilities. The nationalisation will be a temporary emergency measure. But for some time at least the systemically important banks effectively are going to be public utilities and must be regulated accordingly.

This taxpayer rescue of banking systems opens up a new and potentially very important avenue for unfreezing bank lending and restoring the flow of credit. If governments effectively control the banks, what is to stop them from demanding that they start lending again?”

And what wild-eyed socialist wrote this? Alan Wood in the Australian.

Meanwhile, calls for a guarantee of bank deposits are gaining force.

Of course, none of this constitutes a shift to socialism in any meaningful sense of the term. But it does mean, for quite some time to come, the end of neoliberalism (or free-market liberalism or whatever you want to call the set of ideas centred on the proposition that markets can do a better job than governments in managing risks of all kinds).

As John Quiggin points out, this isn’t Socialism in the usual, “let’s feed everybody and make sure we have health care and education” sense but in the, “let’s make sure the rich don’t suffer the depredations we gladly heap on the poor.” We being the Bush administration, which means that, as usual, it’s Conservative ideals turned all wibbly wobbly, so that now Free Market Capitalism = Socialism for the Rich. Swell.

The upside being that the next time some jackass politician* gets on TV and tells us that gollygee, we’d love everyone to have Universal Health Care but we just can’t afford to go down that road just yet, sorry, they are, as usual, full of shit. 700 Billion for bank bailouts is a hell of a lot more than Universal Helathcare would ever cost. I mean, that’s only slightly more money then we’ve burned in Iraq.

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* Sadly, that jackass politician may turn out to be Obama.

Is This The Greatest Library Ever?

There are libraries and then there are the shrines that super nerds build:

 Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker’s library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects—on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor—the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels. Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.) That edition of Chaucer … is it a Kelmscott? (Natch.) Gee, that chandelier looks like the one in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. (Because it is.) No matter where you turn in this ziggurat, another treasure beckons you—a 1665 Bills of Mortality chronicle of London (you can track plague fatalities by week), the instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket (which launched the Apollo 11 capsule to the moon), a framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II. In no time, your mind is stretched like hot taffy.

My only question is, does he need a librarian?

Via Cory Doctorow @ Boingboing.