Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

All I can say is "post-racial, my ass!" I would like to point out that America does not look like the guys standing behind Obama.

This picture is from the NY Times article about how Obama is closing secret prisons and detainment camps. Which I planned to submit to the Germans who mock me as Exhibit A in the case for "why the world really will be better now that Obama is in office."

But I was distracted by the big crowd of old white guys behind the new president. Oh well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

9 hours left: Past Inauguration speeches

I think that even the Obama's are probably still asleep (It's 3 am EST), but I'm sure that many people are busy scurrying around trying to finish stuff up. I saw a think on CNN this morning about the Secret Service snipers on the tops of buildings. I wonder if they're out already? Seems cold.

Okay, so on my last day of pre-Inauguration coverage (tomorrow the post-Inauguration coverage begins) I thought I'd take a look back at previous inauguration speeches. I actually didn't realize how many memorable presidential lines had been delivered during the inauguration. If you'd like the full text of all of them (and I'd avoid reading William Henry Harrison's) you can find it here.

The Washington Post considers Abe Lincoln's 2nd inaugural to be the best speech ever given by an American:
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

-Abraham Lincoln, 2nd Inaugural Address

I don't have anything particularly wise to say about this LBJ quote, except that I like the line about freedom.

"If we fail now, we shall have forgotten in abundance what we learned in hardship: that democracy rests on faith, that freedom asks more than it gives, and that the judgment of God is harshest on those who are most favored.

If we succeed, it will not be because of what we have, but it will be because of what we are; not because of what we own, but, rather because of what we believe.

-Lyndon Bains Johnson

When he was a child, my brother memorized this Clinton quote and would recite it over and over again. Very cute.

"Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America."

-Bill Clinton, 1st Inaugural Address

Probably almost everyone recognizes this FDR quote, but it seems appropriate since it was given during the depression.

"This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

-Franklin D. Roosevelt 1st Inaugural Address

And finally, from the president to whom Obama is most often compared:

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

-John F. Kennedy

We'll see how Obama's speech compares. I imagine he'll do alright.

Monday, January 19, 2009

33 Hours to Go!

Happy MLK Jr. Day! As you might imagine, it's not a holiday here in Germany, so I'm at work. Bummer. I'd really like to be celebrating the civil rights movement. So to protest, I'm blogging.

I don't know if you've heard, but starting tomorrow we (the citizens of the United States of America) have a new president. As part of my "Countdown to the Inauguration" series, I'd like to point out the series of inaugural poetry commissioned by NPR. You can find it here here. There are three poems, but I'm only going to share the one by Calvin Trillin. I find it a little concerning that I've chosen the one white man in the group, but I like Mr. Trillin because he writes poetry like me - only better. Which is to say his poems have a limited use of literary devices (metaphors are overrated) and you can pretty much figure out what they mean after reading them once. Plus, I find this particular poem pretty impressive because every singly line rhymes with "day."

So here it is:

Inauguration Day: Hooray, Hooray!

Inauguration is the day
The nation's hopes go on display —
When through one man we all convey
Our dream that things will go our way.
His resume we can't gainsay.
In politics, we know, his play
Is worthy of the NBA.
He proved that in the recent fray,
Though he had help from Tina Fey.
And now this solemn matinee
Awards the winner's bright bouquet.

First, Pastor Warren's going to pray
For everyone who isn't gay.
Obama then will stand and say,
"I take this oath that I'll obey
The statutes of the U. S. A."
In his address, he might portray
The dragons he intends to slay:
How Wall Street's sky will turn from gray
To blue as blues are chased away,
How workers will collect good pay
For turning out a Chevrolet,
How in Iraq we'll end our stay
With shortest possible delay,
How pay-to-play will be passe
So K Street suits will not hold sway.
Yes, how we'll triumph, come what may:
We'll rise up like a good souffle
'Til life's just like a cabaret.

Obamacans will shout hooray
And toast their man with Chardonnay
As commentators all make hay
Comparing him to JFK.
The Beltway types, those still blase,
Might think that soon, with some dismay,
We'll wonder if his feet are clay.
But that's all for another day

Sunday, January 18, 2009

2 Days and counting....

Okay, fluffy piece of Obama news number 2: CNN's "puppendential" debate. So, so ridiculous. Also - so, so hilarious. Here's the Daily Show's highlights.

It's hard to deny that Anderson Cooper is adorable.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

3 Days 'till we have a new president

I thought that maybe until the inauguration, I'd try to post something Obama related every day. I expect that there's about a 15% chance of that happening (that's, like, 3 days in a row). I think the theme of these stories will be "fluffy, feel good, happy stories about the Obamas." Hey, everyone else is doing it. Anyway, here's today's tidbit.

I ran across this NY Times article today. It's kid's advice to President Elect Obama. Cute, huh?

Here's an example:

Dear Pres. Obama,

Good job on winning. I heard about Area 51. I wanted to ask you if there are any U.F.O.’s there. I think that you should tell people in public the truth about Area 51. You would just maybe say, “That we will take care of it.” And do it.

— Edwin Jara, age 9, New York

I've been concerned that the aliens in Area 51 weren't more of an issue during the campaign. Thank you Edwin for bringing it to everyone's attention.

The other exciting thing about this particular article is that many of the children also submitted portraits of Mr. Obama.

Renea Harris-Peterson, Age 9

This was my favorite. I think it captures his essence. Something about the eyes. Nice work, Renea.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Love is a many-splendored thing

And by that, I mean "a chain of biochemical reactions."

Just in case you were looking for a way to procrastinate today, here's a Nature essay on the neuroscience of love. And here's a NY Times commentary about it.

It makes me feel justified in my cynicism. You romantics can have your love. I'll focus on the cold, hard biochemistry. And then I'll go home to watch Star Trek and knit. Alone.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Computer Virus

I haven't had access to my computer all day, because it acquired a rather unfortunate virus. Or fortunate, depending on how you look at it.

Every time I clicked on one of the results from my Google searches, it redirected me to porn. Yikes! I'd include a link to the website, but I've spent enough time looking a porn at work today already. Feel free to look for yourself. It was called something like "PornTube" and had a layout very similar to YouTube. Except that the videos were all, you know, porn.

I have learned a couple of things from this experience. Not how to avoid such things in the future (I'm not sure what I did), but still a few things. One is that I will love Charles forever, since he spent about a day and a half trying to sort things out. And two is female porn stars have fake boobs. Neither of these are exactly new knowledge (although I refuse to elaborate on my previous experiences with Charles and porn), but both were more firmly established today.

Okay, I'm going to do non-porn related activities on my computer now.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy 100th Post!

I'm sorry I haven't posted recently, it's just that the first post of the new year and the 100th post seemed to call for something really good and interesting. And I was home, so I thought it was more important to spend time with people and watch crappy TV in English than post a blog. But I'm back now, and the crappy TV is in German, and it's SO FREAKING COLD HERE that I don't want to be outside. But it is sunny, and the snow is sort of pretty. I'll give you that.

Right, so as you can probably tell by now the pressure of making this post interesting was too much, so I'm going with the same stream of consciousness style I usually use. Saves actual editing.

So, on to important things. Katy had a baby and I got a haircut on the same day! Amazing right! Two major life events happening at once. Here's a picture of both, taken with Katy's camera at the hospital. I think I like the baby better than the haircut, but I'm trying to remember that some bald child will be happy.

Here's another picture of Tracey, Melissa, and me on New Year's Eve. I guess it was actually New Year's Day at this point. What's really alarming is that this is by far the best picture of me from that evening. I think in the future photographs should be taken at the beginning of the evening. As Melissa points out, we make glasses look sexy.

The other good news is that my friend Sara defended her dissertation on Tuesday, and I got to see it right before I left. She did a fantastic job. And Amisha (my former roommate) flew in for it, so I got to see her too.

Other than the bitter cold (I don't have long underwear, so I'm wearing two pairs of pants right now) things are back to normal here. I'm over the jet lag, I think. It's good to see everyone again, but it's really sad not to know when I'm coming home again. On the plus side, Dr. Sara sent me an e-mail asking which week is good for her to come visit me, so I have something to look forward to. Plus, I'm going to a conference in Nice at the end of January. Overall, life is good.

Happy 2009!