Friday, September 26, 2008

Notes on the debate

  1. This was one borrrrrring debate.
  2. Obama actually pronounces Pakistan as Paak-ees-taan, not Pak-is-tan, as most Americans do. I guess that's because of his upbringing -- one would think the Republicans would use that to paint him as a clandestine Muslim, no?
  3. McCain actually has good voice modulation -- and his sing-song style, which put me to sleep during his Convention acceptance speech, worked particularly well when he went in for some (mostly crass) emotional pitch. Still, the jibe about sitting at a table with Ahmadinejad had great rhetorical power -- though it didn't make much sense,
  4. One thing is clear though. I thought that there was bad blood between Obama and Hillary Clinton when they debated each other during the primaries. Let me just say that that was nothing compared with what exists between Obama and McCain. McCain clearly detests Obama, views him as some sort of upstart. I was really struck by the remark he made at one point -- something about how on his subcommittees at least, they do the business they are supposed to do -- his voice dripped with venom that at least I thought was unfeigned.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Against the Machne: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob

So, today, I got Lee Siegel's Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob from my library to browse through and yes, the book really is as awful as they say. It's petty, full of self-regard, vicious, argument-less, sometimes unintentionally hilarious and seemingly written in a hurry. It was a pain even to browse through and I pity the people who actually had to read it word-for-word.

If you're interested in reading the only interesting essay Siegel wrote (IMHO) then click here.

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin

I must say that while I've always liked Tina Fey, I never thought that she was much of an actor. Accomplished writer and performer of comedy, yes. Actor, as in the kind that disapears into a role, no. But watch her uncanny impersonation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live; even as simple mimicry, it's probably one of the most accomplished I have seen.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

David Foster Wallace, Writer, Is Dead at 46

The news is that he hanged himself.

I never read Wallace's novels but I loved loved loved this essay he wrote for The Atlantic Monthly. Called "Host", it is essentially the profile of a right-wing radio host called John Ziegler. The great thing about it is that it's extensively footnoted -- with footnotes within footnotes within footnotes -- a beautifully constructed piece of non-linear reading that managed to be the profile of a man as well as an analysis of a phenomenon (right-wing talk shows). The Atlantic's website has a nicely formatted hyperlinked version of the essay but to see how it looked in the magazine itself -- and trust me, it's worth a look! -- click here. (It's a big pdf file - almost 11 MB).

Also read Jack Shafer of Slate raving about the essay.

UPDATE: Oh - and also here is Wallace on the phenomenon that is Roger Federer (this was, of course, before we knew that Federer is human after all).

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Via Matthew Yglesias:
A Danish chain of gyms is now offering membership free of charge, with the only caveat that you have to show up, in order for the membership to be free. If you fail to show up once per week you will be billed the normal monthly membership fee for that month. This should solve the problem with incentives that gym-membership normally carries - there is suddenly a very large (membership is around 85$ per month) incentive to show up each week.