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2008 February Archive at Three Roads Blog
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Archive for February, 2008 Page 2 of 2



Inspired

barackobamaisyournewbicycledotcom

Maybe it’s a superficial measure of a candidate, but it seems that Obama’s supporters are much more inspired and creative than are Clinton’s and McCain’s.

Click the image above to learn about the other nice things Obama has done for you lately.

Yay for adverbs!

I love it when really smart people take down other smart people for acting like snobs.

Here’s Language Log’s Geoffrey Pullum embracing adverbs and shunning their snooty detractors:

A beautiful Valentine’s Day to all our readers. For my philosopher partner I managed to find a card which had the words passionately, devotedly, fervently, completely, utterly, and absolutely on the front (with the first person singular pronoun as subject and adore you as the predicate). It seemed ideal. When a grammarian loves you, you should expect adverbs. Lots and lots of adverbs.Adverbs do have enemies; Stephen King has said (in his On Writing) that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs”, and his hostility to them follows in a long tradition. A long tradition of pontificating fools who should shut up and write rather than telling us how (nearly all of them unwittingly use adverbs in the very paragraphs in which they condemn them; on this, see chapter 2 of Ben Yagoda’s lovely little book If You Catch An Adjective, Kill It, published in 2006). There were adverbs, daffodils, morning tea, and breakfast in bed this morning. And a kiss, of course. When a grammarian kisses you, you stay kissed.

I admire Stephen King and can even understand (though not agree with) his distaste for adverbs, but I can never forgive him for his mean-spirited dig at, Nicholson Baker, one of my favorite writers, who is twice the writer that Stephen—Pontificating Fool—King is.

John McCain, coward

From Mathew Yglesias:

The Senate’s green stimulus package was blocked last night by a minority of Senators. Not voting was John McCain, erstwhile maverick, erstwhile environmentalist, and the sort of guy inclined to say things like “we’ve got to give them some stimulus” didn’t bother to show up.

Other presidential candidates showed up — Obama was there, Clinton was there. Other Arizonians showed up — Jon Kyl was there. Other contrarians showed up — Joe Lieberman was there. Indeed, ninety-nine senators thought it was worth taking the time out of their busy schedules to show up and vote on an important piece of legislation. But not John McCain. He’s too mavericky for that.

I’m sure his absence had nothing to do with the fact that he’s been frantically trying to suck up to the CPAC crowd. Nothing at all.

Hat tip: Con Queso

[UPDATE]

Add phony to the list of McCain modifiers. This also from Mathew Yglesias, who’s really hammering our favorite maverick lately:

After a generally conservative career, the John McCain who emerged in the 107th Senate really was a moderate Republican. According to the Poole-Rosenthal “optimal classification” algorithm, only Lincoln Chaffee, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins were less conservative among members of the GOP caucuses. But by the 108th Senate he’d decided not to run for Vice President on John Kerry’s ticket, George W. Bush had been re-elected, and McCain decided to shift back far right en route to the nomination. Suddenly only Don Nickles, Jeff Sessions, and Jon Kyl were more conservative than McCain. And in the 109th Senate, only Kyl has been more conservative.

Time to reprise the windsurfing commercial (this time with McCain’s jowled mug Photoshopped in).

After the tsunami

I’m curious to know how things would be if the Democratic primary had the same winner-takes-all approach to awarding delegates as the GOP primary.

Obama has won more states but they have fewer delegates than the states that went for Clinton.

Any one with some math skills (not me, I’m afraid) want to take a stab? My own casual glance at the delegate totals for each state leads me to suspect that Clinton would be farther ahead of Obama than she is.

Obama, Clinton, health care

From my point of view, Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s health plans have more similarities than differences, but there is one fundamental point of departure between the two proposals: Hillary would impose an individual mandate, requiring everyone to buy health insurance. Obama would not.

He argues that his plan is more pragmatic on a political level. Any proposal that includes an individual mandate, he believes, simply won’t get enough support to actually get through congress and to his desk.

But Obama also believes that his plan will result in de facto universal coverage: Since everyone really wants insurance, they’ll rush to buy it if it’s affordable.

Paul Krugman disagrees:

“An Obama-type plan would also face the problem of healthy people who decide to take their chances or don’t sign up until they develop medical problems, thereby raising premiums for everyone else,” Krugman said in a New York Times column recently.

Despite my oft-neglected inner libertarian telling me not to force people to do the right thing, I’m tempted to agree with Krugman. A lot of people won’t get coverage, even if it’s inexpensive. That’s clear even now, as many middle class people who can afford coverage have opted out of the system. Still, Obama has a point about the slim likelihood of a mandate making it through our dumb congress. I’m at a loss.

Observation: It seems that Hillary’s plan is more hopeful, doesn’t it? Isn’t Obama supposed to be the hopeful, “yes, we can” candidate? I think he is, but this issue appears to be an exception. Or is it? I suppose that Obama is hopeful that people will opt to get coverage. Clinton is hopeful that congress can do the right thing and pass health care reform that includes a mandate.

Cynical, defeatist thought: They’re both delusional.

USA slogans

The Freakonomics blog is running a contest to come up with a six-word slogan for, as Borat would say, the U.S. and A.

Here are a few submissions that stood out:

Still Using Fahrenheit, Feet, and Gallons.

Hubris: it’s not just for Greeks!

Intelligently designed to constantly evolve.

When in doubt, whip it out!

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Democracy.

IN UR KOUNTRY, STEALIN UR OILZ

Link

Retronyms

According to Schott’s 2008 Desk Almanac:

Retronyms are terms that has been created to clarify an exiting word rendered ambiguous by evolutions in technology or social practice.

I’m currently reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which is a beautifully written and thoroughly researched lament about our evolution (or degeneration) from eaters of food to consumers of “food-like products.”

With that book in the forefront of my consciousness, the following retronyms, listed in the Feb. 1 entry of my Schott’s page-a-day calendar, took on a timely significance:

  • Organic food
  • Conventional oven
  • Free-range eggs
  • Fruit in season

These terms came into being with the advent of the industrial food supply. Before chemical fertizers and factory farms and free trade agreements and cheap oil, all food was organic, free range and/or seasonal.

And it was cooked in a conventional oven.

Now we must specify.

[UPDATE]

In the near future, we may have to add a modifier to ‘cheeseburger.’ As in, “This conventional cheeseburger is much better than the canned cheeseburger I had yesterday.”