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August 23rd, 2004

the only earth?

media nightmares

Am I the only one who thinks this is a huge mistake?
Kerry released a television advertisement yesterday blaming President Bush for a campaign by a "front group" of veterans that Mr. Kerry said had smeared his Vietnam record, as he intensified his drive to gain control in a fight that some Democrats said could undermine his campaign for the presidency [nyt]
I am amazed at how good the Republicans are at changing the focus of the election: did anyone really believe that Vietnam would be an issue in the 2004 election? That the issue would be anti-Kerry instead of anti-Bush is just freakish evidence of some sort of media strategy voodoo (/pact with the devil?). The SBVFT ads seem to be getting more play on the news than anywhere else: more than half of all Americans know about the ads even though they're only playing in a few markets.

I think it's a symptom of a greater problem with the Kerry campaign: use of his Vietnam service as the central metaphor for his candidacy actually echoes his (possibly undeserved) flip-flop reputation. See also: supporting the war, denouncing the war, embracing the war wrt Iraq War II.

It seems like the Kerry people should have noticed that voluntary Vietnam service wasn't enough to get Gore to the White House in 2000.

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see also: "Must-reads bonus, Swift Boat edition" [salon]
i am not a stuffed tiger.

redbrain/bluebrain

Having trouble relating to your conservative friends? Maybe it's because their brains are defective different:
Consider this possibility: the scientists do an exhaustive survey and it turns out that liberal brains have, on average, more active amygdalas than conservative ones. It's a plausible outcome that matches some of our stereotypes about liberal values: an aversion to human suffering, an unwillingness to rationalize capital punishment and military force, a fondness for candidates who like to feel our pain. [nyt]

Steven Johnson writes about the (sparse) evidence for differences between the brains of conservatives and liberals and discusses what it all might mean; particularly, how do we choose political affiliations, and is neurobiology involved?
chair, apartment

there is no crying in gymnastics

Riding the bus home from a return to pub quiz at the Irish Emigrant that had ended in a not so spectacular defeat -- was it really too much linguistic optimism to think that the Golden Gate Bridge could be painted Flaming (instead of International) Orange? -- I saw this person that I'd met several times. Partially because I can never remember his name, but mostly because I was in the middle of an interview with Slavoj Žižek1 from the July issue of the Believer, I didn't really make any attempt at conversation other than to say hello. I didn't feel especially bad for being possibly aloof, since he was with a friend anyway.

That is to say, the cover price for The Believer is high, but the contents are almost always worth it, often unexpectedly so. I want to say that it's the best periodical on the market, but I don't have any evidence or ambition enough to find something better. It's definitely my favorite of the moment.

There was also the matter of discovering that I was on an entirely different bus route than the one that I thought I'd boarded. This wasn't a big deal, but it was disorienting.

Finally, the Daily Show is the only thing lately that makes me feel that I am not going insane.

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(1) The Zs are meant to have upside-down circumflex marks, but I can't find the HTML. (update: a look at page for the July issue of The Believer[blvr] reveals a way to achieve the effect using & #381 and #382)