Various and Sundry 10/5/12

Catching up on the things that need catching up on:

* For those of you wondering how The Human Division is going, it’s moving along very nicely, thank you. I had a brisk 9,300 word marathon yesterday, which finished up the episode I was working on. It’s the equivalent to the series finale, if you will, so I made sure it came with all the things you want in a season finale. However, having written the season finale does not mean I am entirely done with The Human Division. It’s not surprising that this most unconventional of writing projects is being written in an unconventional way. I am getting close enough to the end that writing it now is has been going easily. I know where everything is supposed to go and how everything is supposed to work, so much of what I’m doing at this point is making all the cogs mesh together. I’m supposed to be done on Monday; I’d like to be done then, too, since then I’m off to Austin and then DC.

* One of the nice things about spending all day yesterday in the word mines was that I got the luxury of ignoring everyone losing their shit over the presidential debate, in which apparently, as I noted on Twitter the other night, Romney drank Red Bull, Obama drank NyQuil and Big Bird spontaneously combusted. I didn’t watch the debate, on account of I had writing to get done, but after it was done I flipped over to Andrew Sullivan’s site and was treated to the experience of watching the poor man’s head explode because he thought Obama did so horribly poorly. Then I flipped around other places and watched everyone else more or less losing their shit in the manner most appropriate to their political orientation, and decided it was okay for me not to get too emotionally invested in the “go team go” elements of the event.

It does appear the debate has put some wind back in Romney’s sails; good for him. Likewise, Obama is getting dinged for what I am told was a largely truculent appearance, and well, that’s what you get for being truculent in front of 60 million people. Once again, however, a reminder to all that the elections are a month away, and that anything can happen between now and then, just like, you know, this last debate happened. This is why we have real life, and not just polls and predictive models.

* Appearance reminders: I will be in Austin on Tuesday and Wednesday for GDC Online, which is, strangely enough, a conference for game developers making games you play online. Specifically I am joining Alexander Seropian for a presentation called “Cramming an Epic Gaming Universe into a Portable Phone,” in which we will discuss that very topic in relation to the new, still-secret and totally awesome project we’re working on together (along with the rest of Industrial Toys, Alex’s new game studio). This presentation goes off on Wednesday at 2pm in Room 12, so if you’re going to be at the conference, you should be there, and if you’re not there, really, I don’t know why you’re even at the conference. Sadly, I have no public events scheduled for Austin while I am there, but if you’re at GDC Online, I’ll be happy to say hello, sign books, name your firstborn children, and do all that good stuff.

Then I am off to the Washington DC area, specifically Gaithersburg, Maryland, for Capclave, where I am the Guest of Honor, along with Nick Mamatas, and at which we will have a weekend of nerdy, geeky, dorky fun. For those of you attending, if you go to my reading (Saturday at 11, rooms Salon A&B), you will be treated to an exclusive, never-before-read-to-anyone-ever excerpt from The Human Division. It will be full of conflict, drama and the occasional neck punch. That’s a promise, people. Capclave is my last scheduled public appearance of 2012, and as I currently have no GoH appearances formally scheduled for 2013, if you want to see me, folks, this is the time and place to do it.

69 thoughts on “Various and Sundry 10/5/12

  1. Yeah, it’s crazy how the pundits are reading the debate, conflating performance with substance.

    Anyway, dang wish you were making a public appearance in Austin, but it’s during the week anyway and work will get in the way.

    Have some fun, go to Hippie Hollow, if you dare (or if you bare, I should say).

  2. Seems a little late for Mr. Etch-A-Sketch to try to tack so hard to the center. Sounds like he generally won on style points, but given that one of the big take-aways seems to be that he wants to fire Big Bird, I’m not sure it’s going to affect the polls much.

  3. The only thing that bothered me was the reporting on the “result” of the debate. And I was not shocked, just disappointed. The headlines said things like “Romney Sets a Winning Tone.” If you read the articles, you see that Romney was not exactly honest, not just about the usual factoids politicians massage, but about what he, Mitt Romney, had actually said this year. I can go on stage and strike a winning tone by saying “Yes, ponies and non-allergenic kittens for everyone. That’s an absolute guarantee. Did I say all felines are allergenic a month ago? No. I did not. (You don’t actually have footage of me saying that queued up to run right now, do you?) Again. I said no such thing. Maybe you’ve just lost faith in America’s ability to produce endless supplies of non-allergenic house trained river otters, President Scalzi. I did not say ponies and kittens. Stop living in the past, Mr. Lehrer.” But the headlines are all people are going to remember, until the next debate.

    And remember a lot of challengers win the first debate; then the incumbent remembers how to speak and it goes neutral or tips back again. And some challengers win all the debates and lose the election…cough 2004…cough.

  4. How in the name of all that’s fortunate do you manager 9300 words
    a day – I don’t think even Dickens could do that, and his capacity was
    pretty impressive.

    (Generally I reckon, in technical writing, 250 edited words _an hour_, and
    I doubt I complete 2000 words a day.)

    Will

  5. Lame debate performance from the Prez, well done in avoiding it. Basically he let Mitt lie for 90 minutes, although he did give a great deathug on Obamacare/Romneycare, but let Mitt skate on the $700bn “cuts”, at least twice.

    Mitt presented his policies well, as Farley said. They still suck, however. Although he has now flopped on his 47% comments, a week after they polled badly. Can the American populace be that gullible? I guess anything is possible, just look at the Kardashians.

  6. Feels good when things are getting done, doesn’t it?

    Regarding the presidental debate: I am in ostrich mode right now. For my taste USA-politics are way too much like teamsports opposed, you know, politics.

  7. Regardless of the president’s lackluster performance, his polling numbers have gone up since the debate. I’m not sure if that’s a side effect at people being annoyed how rude Romney was to Jim Lehrer, or the fact that even when Romney is allowed to charismatically lie about his policies, and the Pres. is droning about his own, Obama’s ideas STILL sound better…

  8. It doesn’t help that Romney is now feeding the growing flip-flopper narrative by claiming he didn’t actually mean all those horrible things he said in the 47% video, despite saying the night that they were released that he meant it, it just didn’t come out right.

    Oh, and the jobs numbers report that show improvements in the recovery and a big drop in unemployment essentially wiped the debate news away, judging by the websites and morning shows.

  9. I ended up skipping the debate. All day I was intending to watch it, and when I got home, I just plain forgot. By the time I was reminded, I was elbows-deep in other things. (That and, y’know, I can’t vote in your election.)

    My Twitter feed the next morning, however, was *awesome*. Wil Wheaton, Paul & Storm, Patton Oswallt, Lindsay Ellis… Twitter earned its allotment of my attention that morning.

  10. One talking head suggested than incumbent presidents needs one debate to get over the fact the challenger is going to directly challenge him in his face when that hasn’t really happened for the last several years.

    I don’t really remember watching enough presidential debates to have an opinion on the point but it sounded credible at the time.

    I didn’t watch. I’m already decided my preference, so unless it ends with an “Agent to the Stars” sort of finale, I’m not likely to take interest. I might watch the foreign policy debate just out of curiosity.

    I love that foreign policy gets fairly small share of total debate questions. Presidents and candidates end to want to go on about domestic policy. What presidents actually spend their day doing is foreign policy.

  11. Say, M. Scalzi, talking of video games, do you know the X-COM series (a remake of the original X-COM: Enemy Unknown is coming out really soon)? I’m asking because I just had this flash that an X-COM game with your writing input would probably be oh so very excellent. An added element of character development with your signature snark in that universe would be perfect I think.

    Not that I figure there’s any real chance of that happening, but I thought I’d put that out there. Also, if you do know the game, I wonder what your appreciation of it is.

  12. I didn’t watch the debate; it’s not as if I don’t know who I’m voting for. But I was disappointed to hear that President Obama upheld the age-old Democratic tradition of bringing a Nerf bat to a gun fight. Yesterday morning I made a contribution to his campaign, and had there been a way to send a comment with the money, it would have been, “Heard about the debate–think you’re gonna need this.”

  13. Anne: “…how many [of the 2000 words/day] end up in the finished product?”
    John: “Pretty much all of them, generally speaking.”

    So the old joke goes:

    Isaac Azimov was talking to Arthur Clarke. Clarke tells Azimov, “You must rewrite 3 times. Your book isn’t done until the 3rd rewrite.”

    Azimov, who had just finished a book, takes this advice to heart and sets out to rewrite his book. He makes a small number of very good changes. He then goes back for the second rewrite. This time, he changes almost nothing. But after days of working on the 3rd rewrite, he can’t find anything at all to change.

    Frustrated, he call Robert Heinlein. “Bob,” he says, “I just can’t do it. I can’t find anything to change on this third rewrite of my book.”

    Heinlein is silent for a moment. Then he says, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just get it right the first time?”

    John really is Robert Heinlein reincarnated. :D

    /cool story, bro.
    /tell it again

  14. One of the (admittedly few) advantages of voting for a third party candidate is that the debates seem a lot less important, in terms of whether your candidate “won” or “lost”.
    I’m looking forward to the day/year when The Human Divison is published in a dead trees edition, since I still haven’t found a compelling reason to start reading ebooks. I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

  15. After turning into a bit of a fanboy recently when I discovered “Redshirts”, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that you’ll be mere minutes from my house at a conference I had never heard of (Capclave). But I have to ask, is it fair to have most of your talks on Saturday, which is my wedding anniversary? Sigh….

  16. Just out of curiosity, do you think the “new, still-secret and totally awesome project” will become the “new, no-longer-secret and totally awesome project” after GDC Online? Or is the discussion likely to be more general?

  17. @ J.D. Rhoades:

    Unsurprisingly, the echo chamber immediately started desperately punching the “BLS cooked the books” button as soon as the report came out.

  18. Regarding the first game of the Presidential Playoffs, the results were essentially:

    Romney = 1
    Obama = 0

    Now, in Obama’s defense, even Michael Jordan didn’t always have great Game 1 performances. A lot depends on how much time a player has off between the end of the regular season and the start of the post-season.

    Romney essentially showered after Game 82, went home, slept for 12 hours, got up, had steak and eggs and orange juice, came back for shootaround during Game 1 pre-game, then went out and dropped 38 points, with 12 boards and 6 assists and 4 blocks — on a largely disinterested and disinteresting Obama, who only managed 18 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, and 5 touch fouls. Including a late-game technical where he instructed the ref to move on to another topic.

    After the game all the Republican fans were overjoyed. Having struggled through the last two months of the regular season, Romney surprised even the homers with a display nobody was sure Romney had in him. Sports analysts are still wondering where this All-Star has been for the last few weeks and will he be able to do it again next time and my goodness isn’t it nice to see the man tee up some offense, including several statement-making dunks.

    Meanwhile the Democrat fans were a mixture of apoplexy and denial. Their MVP had laid an egg. He mailed it in. No verve. No spark. He was a step slow all game and never seemed to be able to get traction with his offense, while being able to do precious little on defense. Yes, he did perform some enjoyable slip cuts for his signature, elegant layins, but the energy just wasn’t there. And you could see it on Obama’s face. Having enjoyed too many soft scrimmages with his own team — also known as the media — he wasn’t prepared to get schooled by a determined opponent who performed at 110%.

    Now, Game 2 could be a whole different story. Democrat fans are prepared to believe that this is just Obama’s strategy: sandbag for Game 1, bring it for Game 2, then turn in a truly MVP performance in game 3 and close out the series. Rumor has it Chris Matthews is even coming out of the press box to do some 1-on-1 court prep with Obama, to be sure he’s up to “Hardball” speed when the President needs to be.

    My thought is that the penalty for snowbirding is that you can’t regain ground fast enough to come back on a player who’s clearly saved his best for last. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am wrong. And while even a trio of sub-par performances from Obama won’t dampen the spirits of the Democrat fans, those fans with no specific team in contention this year are liable to be wowed by Romney’s determined, leave-it-all-on-the-court effort. They might be buying Romney jersies come November 6. In fact, I would put money on it.

  19. EWWW. Brad writes Romney/NBA player slash in his spare time. I really did not need to know that. I cannot even take a shower cause that was in the story too.

    Seriously, Brad how are you reacting to the fact that Romney repudiated everything he said before to look moderate? Either you like the flip-Romney and lied about liking flop-Romney’s policies or vice-versa. Or are you in some unholy synchronization with Romney’s BRAINZ (TM)? Actually that would explain a lot about the recent history of the GOP.

  20. John, when you get more time I ask that you elaborate more on the word count thing. As someone who considers 2000 words an exemplary day, I now feel quite inadequate.

    You once said anything over 4000 words turns your brain to jelly. So how many Coke Zeros did it take to stay clear for this marathon? And is this stuff final draft, first draft, somewhere in between?

  21. Having paid attention to Romney for ten years, I am prepared to see him play the game the way it’s always played: run to your base to win the primaries, run to the middle to win the country. I’ve been fairly consistent in telling my lib friends that a Presidential Romney is not the terror they suspect he will be, mainly because he is a failry moderate pol (albeit tilting to the right) and that he’s chosen to work his way up the Republican channels because the Republican mold matches him more than the Democratic mold. Based mostly on economics and Romney’s understanding of how the economy works in fact vs. how it works in theory.

    Yes, it would be nice to have a political process which did not require a degree of contortionism out of its pols. I will note that Obama was doing his fair share of contradicting himself during the debates, compared to statements he’s made in the past. Just as his record has contradicted his promises he’s made since he ran in 2008.

    Of the two men, I find Romney less contradictory and far more likely to kickstart an actual economic recovery vs. the slow-coma-wakeup recovery of the Obama era, when a piddly 0.3% “improvement” in unemployment (with an actual adjusted number somewhere above 12%) gets cheers.

    Shows you how low the bar’s gone in the last decade.

    We can set our sights higher.

    Romney = 1
    Obama = 0

    Playoffs, baby!

  22. I have no idea what Brad is saying there, mainly because the metaphor is mostly wrong. Both Reagan in 1984 and Bush in 2004 had disastrous first debates by all accounts–there were serious concerns that Reagan was “too old” to be President, and Bush was actually behind in the polls a couple days later–and last I checked neither Mondale nor Kerry are ex-Presidents.

    And “fans with no specific team in contention this year”? In the snap polling that night, half of undecideds were unconvinced by either candidate, even though they thought Romney did better by a wide margin. In follow-up polling the next day, Romney had gained all of single point due almost entirely to conservatives regaining a bit of enthusiasm, which was balanced out by independents switching just enough that they went from majority Romney to majority Obama. Rasmussen’s 2-point lead for Obama in their tracking poll is unchanged, and Obama’s lead actually went up a point in Gallup’s.

    And as mentioned above, apart from the big takeaway from the debate in the media being that Mitt wants to kill off Big Bird, Romney’s debate win has essentially been erased from the narrative today thanks to the job numbers. Hilariously, it wouldn’t have been as big a deal if the wingnuts hadn’t claimed that there was a conspiracy to “cook the books” that several elected Republicans and Fox News jumped on board with and made a big stink about. The poor Romney spokesperson who went on Fox News this morning had to back away slowly lest the campaign get tarred with the same tinfoil hat brigade brush.

  23. Of the two men, I find Romney less contradictory and far more likely to kickstart an actual economic recovery vs. the slow-coma-wakeup recovery of the Obama era

    If you can name several major differences between Romney’s economic plan and Bush’s, I’d love to see it.

  24. telling my lib friends that a President BushBush is not the terror they suspect he will be, mainly because he is a failry moderate pol

    And we’re back to 2000.

    I am enjoying, by the way, that the main thing coming out of this playoff game is that Romney started it by kicking the mascot (Big Bird) between the legs.

  25. Darn! I can’t make it to GDC (it’s only tangentially related to what I do so the boss won’t pay for it) I’d offer to buy you lunch/dinner but that might be creepy coming from some random fan on the internet. If you haven’t before, try Chuy’s (it is the best Tex-Mex you can find). It is the closest thing to food porn that is socially acceptable.

  26. Just to give you an idea about how similar this year and 2004 are in terms of the debates, I’ve copied and pasted from this article from 2004 and combined the names of the challengers and the names of the incumbents. It’s amazing how much could be used almost word-for-word for this year, all the way down to the looking distracted and the stammering and even the tie colors. Here’s some choice quotes:

    Kerry/Romney came off as more presidential than the president last night as the two candidates met for their first face-to-face debate, televised live on all the networks
    […]
    President Bush/Obama did not appear to have a firm grasp on the major issues being discussed, opting instead for the repetition of sloganlike remarks and repeated attacks on his Democratic challenger.
    […]
    Kerry/Romney acknowledged a bit of flip-floppery by conceding, “I made a mistake in how I talk about the [issue],” but said that Bush/Obama’s mistake, actually [going ahead with issue], was worse.

    Jim Lehrer of public television did a first-rate job of moderating the debate, fighting against the stuffiness imposed by debate negotiators. The audience in the hall was kept so emotionally and spiritually distant from the proceedings that there was really no reason for them to be there at all (one forthcoming debate will use the “town hall” format and presumably concede that an audience exists). Lehrer also proved productively flexible with the rules about 90-second statements and 30-second rebuttals — letting the candidates finish their thoughts rather than rudely cutting them off mid-sentence.

    Bush/Obama wore his traditional blue necktie, though a darker shade than the usual robin’s-egg hue, and Kerry/Romney wore the classic TV-red necktie
    […]
    But he gave one of his best public performances ever last night, just lively enough, just respectful enough to the president and yet aggressive enough to, at times, make Bush/Obama appear confused by his own answers. Bush/Obama did more stammering and pausing than Kerry/Romney.

    At times, Bush/Obama sounded plaintive and anxious. Bob Schieffer of CBS News told anchor Dan Rather after the debate, “The president was somewhat defensive at the beginning” but that he grew more comfortable as the 90-minute debate — or “joint appearance,” as Rather absolutely insists on calling these things — went on.

    Brit Hume, Fox News anchor, said of Bush/Obama after the debate that “he looked annoyed” about the whole thing, and he did; he gave the impression that the debate was an intrusion on his time, much as his father had done when he famously or infamously glanced at his watch during a debate way back in the 20th century.

    Mark Shields, commenting for PBS, seemed impressed that “Kerry/Romney showed no nervousness at all. . . . He got stronger as it went along.” Commentators generally agreed it was a smooth and confident performance but one that happily lacked glib slickness or any sense of smug overconfidence.
    […]
    One longtime political observer — among the friends canvassed by this critic — was more irreverent about the debate and how the two debaters came off: “It was Andy Griffith meets Barney Fife,” he said, with Kerry/Romney in the Griffith role — solid, sanguine, sensible — and Bush/Obama as the nervous Fife.

  27. Oh, and Brad, it’s less than impressive that your “one post and out policy” is apparently actually “when my team is losing it’s hit and run, but when we’re winning, I’m going to be here regularly”

  28. Genufett, as usual with Brad he’s mostly trolling (or he wouldn’t say things like “Democrat fans” – he couldn’t resist putting in that little dig). He’s saying most of these things not because he believes them himself (though he may, who cares knows?), but in order to irritate.

    I also note that he went back on his “one and done” posting policy here.

  29. Are there any numbers out there that show that presidential debates have a significant influence on decided/undecided voters? I have not met anyone who changed their vote due to this first debate, but of course that’s all anecdata.

  30. Did anyone expect anything different from the debate? I honestly did not think Obama would do well, but I didn’t really expect Romney to stomp (rhetorically) all over him.

    Anyways that my two cents for the day, I am sure some will disagree, but I really don’t think Obama does so well when it comes to these kind of situations, especially when there is some one challenging him, the way Romney did.

  31. Are there any numbers out there that show that presidential debates have a significant influence on decided/undecided voters? I have not met anyone who changed their vote due to this first debate, but of course that’s all anecdata.

    Not really, but there’s tons of articles that say that it has little to no effect, but usually helps the challenger regardless of the results on Election Day. Here’s a sampling:

    How much will the debate move the polls?

    How Much Will the Debate Shift the Polls? Here’s One Calculation.

    Presidential Debate Holds Slim Chance Of ‘Game Change,’ Polling Shows

    The number of presidential elections decided by debates? Zero.

    Do presidential debates usually matter? Political scientists say no.

    First debate often helps challenger in polls

  32. The problem with this “Romney won” business is that nobody really knows what constitutes “winning” in a presidential debate. More talk time? More confidence? More likability? More zingers? I think many people perceive Romney as winning because he seemed very dominant and pushy, while Obama seemed kinda low-energy — but Romney’s pushiness did not go over well with female viewers. They didn’t like it. It didn’t make them more likely to vote for him. That’s hardly a win in this context, is it?

    Also, it seemed to me that Romney was able to throw Obama off quite a bit by refusing to stand by any position he has previously expressed. Brad’s extended metaphor above implies that Obama went in unprepared, or with a deliberate “lose the first one” strategy, but I think he went in ready to argue with the Romney who’s been campaigning all year, not a Romney who’s all, like “no, I never said any of those things, what are you talking about?” So Obama was distracted by the need to come up with new arguments on the fly. (And also, I would venture, by the existential disorientation that tends to accompany somebody lying blatantly right to your face.)

    I would think, if you were a Romney voter, that you might be a little disturbed by the fact that he seems to have no legitimate platform — that he’ll claim to do one thing on the campaign trail, another thing during the debates. When he’s so ready to change direction at a moment’s notice, what makes you think he’ll do any of the things he says? Including the ones you like? So all this right wing crowing about Romney’s win seems a little misguided too, because he only “won” that particular debate by proving he’s the flip-flopping creature of whim and deception that his opponents paint him as.

    I guess it’s like this. You could see two guys fighting over a girl, and one of them punches the other one out, guys watching the fight will think the puncher “won.” But if the punchee is the one who goes home with the girl, he won.

  33. Last post in the thread and then I will quit.

    When I say I want to restrict myself to a single comment so as to avoid excessive “butter churning” I am accused of being a n’er-do-well because I am “trolling” and won’t let myself get placed on the dunking machine over and over. Then when I do stick around and engage, if even for a single follow-up . . . I am accused of being a n’er-do-well who breaks his promises and is therefore insincere.

    Right.

    All I can say to this conundrum is that I absolutely believe in what I write, otherwise I’d not write it.

    Not that this will deflect critics.

  34. Does this mean the secret project will be publicly announced at GDC Online and become ‘somewhat less secret’? If so does that mean you get to start spilling some juicy details to get us all excited?

  35. Regarding the debate, I was extremely disappointed that Obama and Lehrer (who to be fair probably was napping instead of moderating) let Romney lie with impunity instead of calling him out on it. Romney sounded very confident and for a voter who doesn’t know that he has been saying the exact opposite thing for the last 8 months or that his claim is mathematically impossible it is a very appealing claim. I really think Obama needs to memorize and pull out at every opportunity the following line “Were you lying then or are you lying now?”.

  36. Oh, FFS, BRT. No one raised eyebrows about your multiple comments until after you yourself came out with a long-winded, overwrought, hand-wringing manifesto about how you were changing to “one-and-done”. This invited some regulars to offer thoughts on the significance and utility of such a policy, not to mention accompanying posturing. Subsequently, you have demonstrated either an unwillingness or inability to stick to that, and in a rather schoolboy-on-the-playground manner. This, too, has invited thoughts from some of the regulars, a normal person might expect it would. It’s not “Liberal Persecution Squad – ATTACK!” But, by all means, leave your hand stapled to your forehead if it’s more comfortable there.

  37. I hadn’t quite noticed that pattern, David. But I think it’s mostly that Brad isn’t interested in having conversation, because he thinks he has nothing he could conceivably learn from any such interaction, and is absolutely certain that nothing anyone else says can possibly change his mind about anything. He’s only interested in disrupting conversation by dropping a big pile of BS into the thread so that we’ll waste our time refuting it. As JS has pointed out in another thread, we do that not to impact Brad, who presumably is no longer reading, but for other readers who may read his stuff less critically.

    And Brad, stop whining. As Eric points out, you set this up yourself. Your “poor me, look how mean they are” isn’t fooling anyone.

  38. Seems more like Obama was caught flat footed by Romney’s shameless lying.

    Paraphrasing:

    R: No one will be uninsured under my plan.
    O: !? er… Your plan leaves millions uninsured.
    R: Not it doesn’t, what are you? Nutz?
    O: !?!? [sparks fly out of his ears]

    Somewhere I saw the suggestion that Obama should practice with Steven Colbert for the next one. Which sounds about right.

  39. I think Brad has caught on to the essential chaos which lies at the heart of our modern complex society. Nobody can possibly understand the world enough anymore to govern it; so we just have to trust to our divinely inspired faith in our chosen candidate. And Romney, of course, has taken this one step further. Just like Two-Face, even he does not know which path he is going to take at any given time. (Though you kind of get the impression that somehow, someway either option is going to lead to some evil doing…for Two Face obviously, I meant Two Face there.)

  40. I totally plan on hie-ing up to Capclave for y’all. Ashburn -> Gaithersburg is a pain in the ‘tocks, but I CAN DO EET. Plus, my movie is premiering that Sunday night in Silver Spring, so I’ll have to be up there anyway.

    The last Capclave I went to… there was NOBODY at the bar. Crickets. :( Total sadface.

    Let me know if there’s any sort of baked good, or non-junk food, or Coke Zero, or Whatever that I can bring you. Next week is the last delivery of farm share, so I’ll have a passel of apples if you like pie.

  41. If we had “Likes” here, I would give one to Julie at 4:06 for the existential disorientation that tends to accompany somebody lying blatantly right to your face.

    That is a beautiful, beautiful turn of phrase.

  42. Was actually busy being a mom when the debate was on. The pundits act like Romney won the race instead of just one debate. Hey, didn’t that Bush guy blow it against Kerry the first debate? Look what happened with that race. I read somewhere that Al Gore actually introduced the fact that Obama flew in to Denver two hours before the debate? And blamed the altitude? Of course, I’m one of those people that doesn’t deal well with altitude at all, so I could see his point if this story is true. And Obama does have a real job right now. I do not think that Obama will let that debate define him.

    I have been getting lots of laughs off the Big Bird/PBS debate. Every comic around has been making jokes about Mitt and Big Bird.

    Ryan and Biden? Now that is gonna be one to watch. Will they have a few second delay just in case Biden throws in a swear word? Where’s the popcorn?

  43. @xopher, I don’t think that’s fair. Brad is not, as far as I have ever seen, trying to troll or actively disrupt the conversation; he really is stating an opinion he thinks is relevant. The unfortunate thing is that his cast in doing so tends to be a very patronizing, lecturing, Golden Mean tone; I doubt he’s really doing it deliberately, that’s just the mode he naturally falls into.

    re Romney: seriously, he could not have shot himself in the foot more than bringing up Big Bird. Abolishing PBS will not balance the budget. Yes, many conservatives have a thing about certain government programs (like PBS) that they perceive as part of the great lefty conspiracy; but he could have achieved the same thing by saying that NPR gets enough money from wealthy donors to stay alive, or that private charity would be enough to support the arts. Whether or not it’s true is irrelevant; the point is that Big Bird is a third rail. You threaten PBS, you just gave the media a nice easy headline and you look like the Grinch, and to name check Big Bird? Was the dude feeling like he needed to give Obama a freebie?

  44. Mythago, I’m going to agree with Xopher on this one. Brad’s first appearance in this venue was one of smug preening condescension, and the only times he’s (briefly) amended that are when our host has called him on for being especially egregious. And then all he did was wring his hands while pumping out hot tears over how he “sometimes falls short of his standards,” while assuring everyone that people in the real world all tell him what a swell guy he is. And then all is quiet for a few threads until he resumes the same sneering assholery all over again, peppering every post with references to “facts” and “reality” in a way that gives every indication that he has no idea what those words even mean, often resurrecting standard right-wing talking points only a few threads after the very same people he is currently engaging have debunked them.

    (As an aside, the irony of conservatives running all over the Internet to non-conservative sites to complain about how non-conservatives are Just So Mean To Them And Won’t Let Them Say Anything boggles the living fuck out of the mind).

    I know a hell of a lot of good, decent, honest people – of varying political stripes, even – and not a one presents themselves, online or off, the way Brad does here. The only thing I can conclude from the way he has chosen to behave is that he is NOT a good man, or a decent one, or an honest one. I’m not saying he mutilates kittens in his spare time or anything, but he’s certainly not a man of integrity. And that matters.

  45. It’s accepted that most of the presidential debate material is prepared and rehearsed. Even the most famous zingers are unlikely to have been ad libbed by their speakers at the time of the debate. So isn’t it likely that the whole Big Bird thing was prepared by the Romney campaign? If so, that falls into their pattern of having a point that they could sell, but presenting it in a manner that often does more harm than good for the campaign.

  46. Guys.

    Brad is not a troll.

    He is someone has insufficient rhetorical skills to argue his positions well, and compensates for that by employing particular strategies that allow him to believe he is making a point and adding something valuable to the discourse. Part of that strategy is a tone which (as Mythago notes) he probably intends as reasonable and who is not necessarily aware sometimes comes across as smug and dismissive. This is different from trolling, even if you find it frustrating and annoying. Please note the difference.

    Also, stop talking about Brad because he’s not the subject of the thread.

  47. @Jack Lint, though either Romney goes off-message with painfully stupid ad-lib comments or he has a Democratic mole in his campaign (or, I suppose, both). Conservatives regularly tear out their hair at the “you hate Big Bird!” meme as unfair, which, to a point, it is: Sesame Street and PBS are closely intertwined but are not funded from the same pot. But a long and complicated explanation of the difference just doesn’t have the sound-bite funding of “They want to kill Big Bird!” Again, I think if Romney wanted to pander to the Norquistians who are enraged at any tax dollars trickling down to poor people, he could have talked about private patronship of the arts, or tagged NPR and called up the stereotype of the wealthy latte-sipping liberal. I just can’t see his handlers carefully vetting that one. “Yeah, take a dig at Jim Lehrer and Big Bird! Everybody hates that welfare canary!”

  48. Really bummed that you’ll be in Austin this week. It’s my hometown and I won’t be there as I will be working in Georgia that week. But if you’re ever down there again, I’ll take you out for some good BBQ (not that crap that the tourists go to either). Lot of Egyptian tourists here in the comments BTW

  49. I think Romney’s aggressive manner didn’t poll well with women, because a woman doing the same thing (hell, even half as much) would be immediately labelled a “shrieking harpy” or a “ball-busting b****h” and perceived as bullying in order to dominate.

    Which other than the gender-specific slur parts, seems like a pretty accurate assessment of Romney’s behavior to me. Riding roughshod over the moderator, talking over people, insisting on talking time that isn’t his isn’t manly leadership, it’s rude, condescending bullshit. If I’d ever behaved that way in view of my grandmother, I would have expected to be pulled away by my ear and sent to my room until I figured out how to behave like a civilized person.

  50. I also avoided the debates, because it’s all about the Protest Vote for me. Here in Texas, whoever is on the Republican ticket will get our electoral votes. Romney, Palin, an inanimate carbon rod, doesn’t matter.

    So I’ve made a deal with a friend in a swing state: I’ll vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party and she’ll vote for Pres. Obama. Per online research, etc… we both track pretty close to Stein’s views on the issues, but her vote for Obama actually has a chance of mattering in her state. Mine ? Not so much. Of course, I’ll still be voting Democratic for other Federal and State positions, and GOP for a few County spots (since I know the folks running & have experience of them doing a good job).

  51. @Mythago: PBS is basically a non-issue for most people. I was a kid during the 1970s, and I found Sesame Street to be unspeakably boring. To kids today, it must seem incredibly so. What was cutting edge in 1969 is out of date today. Put Big Bird on chopping block, I say.

    PBS’s adult-oriented documentaries are watchable; but there are far better options on the History Channel, A&E, etc. No need to have the government funding that sort of programming when there are private sector alternatives. PBS may have served a worthwhile purpose prior to cable TV and the Internet. But it has outlived its usefulness.

    The issue of funding for PBS isn’t going to win Mitt Romney many points, but it won’t lose him many, either. Not that many people really care about PBS one way or another.

  52. @ mythago

    Yes, many conservatives have a thing about certain government programs (like PBS) that they perceive as part of the great lefty conspiracy;

    Big Birds’s just a foot-sixyearold in the vast yellow left-wing conspiracy to subvert our youth until they’re cavorting with dumpster-diving hobos.

    Hehe…left-wing

  53. Todd: “Not that many people really care about PBS one way or another.”

    Then why bring it up? I’m really curious here. I’m trying to figure out the strategy. Either Romney ad libbed the comment, which I can accept having listened to some speeches where he kinda wings it, or this was a specific point prepared by his team to be brought up in the debate.

    My one theory is that everyone is talking about Big Bird and not concentrating on anything else he might have talked about in the debate. The other theory is that coming down hard on NPR and PBS still sells well with a certain core group of Murdoch conservatives and that Big Bird (or one of the other well-known Muppets) is the only recognizable PBS personality.

  54. I found Sesame Street to be unspeakably boring. To kids today, it must seem incredibly so.

    I’ll see your supported supposition and raise you this anecdote: I have four kids, aged 3 to 12 years, all with reading skills at or above grade level. If the littlest is watching Sesame Street (and she often is), and any of the others come in the room, they will sit and watch with her. Yes, even the pre-teen. This may come as a huge shock to you, but your views and experiences are not universal.

    there are far better options on the History Channel, A&E,

    You mean like Ancient Aliens and Pawn Stars (History) or Duck Dynasty and Storage Wars (A&E)? Yeah, the invisible hand of the free market is really working to raise the culture up there.

  55. Unfortunately, Doc, PBS responded with Market Warriors, so they are not above reproach.

    PBS does offer things not offered on other channels. (Is there an equivalent of the Koch-funded Nova on basic cable on a regular basis?) Judging by the Peabody awards they win every year, they’re doing a little more than producing “watchable” documentaries. However, it’s not all educational or even highbrow. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  56. @Doc Rocketscience –

    You mean like Ancient Aliens and Pawn Stars (History) or Duck Dynasty and Storage Wars (A&E)?

    Hey, you forgot Big Shrimpin’, Hoarders, and Dog The Bounty Hunter! And there’s a Bigfoot Hunters show out there, too. That’s right – Keep up the good work, Private Sector; your country’s proud of you!

  57. The only reason PBS is an issue is because right wingers with no sense of perspective are looking for proof of reckless left wing government spending while simultaneously incapable of noticing the ginormous corporate welfare they defend.

    i.e. communist socialist left wingers handing out $450 million for public broadcasting
    versus
    right wing plutocrats defending $4 BILLION dollars of tax subsidies just for Big Oil companies alone

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-october-8-2012/children-s-television-chop-shop

    It would be like a doctor seeing a cancer patient and focusing on his athlete’s foot.

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