Quick Hits -- August 30

I realize it won’t last, but I still think it was good of John McCain to air an advertisement congratulating Barack Obama on his nomination. It certainly raises the tenor of this election above the dirty politics we saw during the 2004 campaign. For now, anyway.

Here in Canada, it seems unlikely that we’ll be getting any sort of expressions of mutual respect going any which way anytime soon, and that’s unfortunate.

I watched the speech on CSPAN’s live feed, and it was excellent, though par for the course on what we’ve come to expect from Obama. The fact that my greatest fears weren’t realized — that this speech would fall short of previous expectations, and the fact that it was taking place on the 45th anniversary of King’s “I have a dream” speech (no pressure, eh?) — makes it a success, in my opinion. Again, why can’t Canada have a politician like him, right now?

I especially loved this bit:

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton’s Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She’s the one who taught me about hard work. She’s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she’s watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don’t know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

On John McCain’s Pick for VP

I’ll give McCain credit for picking a woman, governor Sarah Palin of Alaska to be his running mate. I was wondering if he’d do that, as a neat little tweak at Obama over the continued alienation of some Clinton supporters. However, while Ms. Palin seems a decent enough individual, I have to question if McCain really picked the best woman for the job.

Nunc Scio puts it best:

John McCain repeatedly attacks Barack Obama’s experience, suggesting the 47-year-old does not have the background required to lead. However, Obama has eleven years of experience as a State and US Senator, while Palin has only ten years experience as a mayor of a tiny town and less than two years experience as governor of the least-populous state in America. I guess experience isn’t that important after all.

Now, Palin does have experience. She started her career as a city councillor in 1992, but a first term governor of Alaska doesn’t quite compare in experience to a multi-term state senator from Illinois. I think of the fine women McCain could have nominated, who have a lot of political experience under their belt. Condoleeza Rice, for instance. The blog site Tech Crunch suggests former power CEOs Carly Fiorina or Meg Whitman, who certainly have experience in running large organizations. Even Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has more experience. So why Palin?

It’s worth noting that, if elected, McCain will be 72 when he assumes the presidency, making the phrase “a heartbeat away” take on a whole new relevance. Given that McCain is statistically unlikely to survive his first term, it’s easy to see a situation where a first time governor and small town mayor that almost nobody had ever heard of gets elevated to the highest office of the land.

Yes, few people heard of Obama four years ago, but he does have enough legislative experience for me to take the leap of faith and say, “yes, he’s ready.” Can the same be said about Palin?

(P.S., from Wikipedia: “Palin was elected Governor of Alaska in 2006 on the theme of governmental reform, defeating incumbent governor Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary and former Democratic Alaskan governor Tony Knowles in the general election. She gained attention for publicizing ethical violations by state Republican Party leaders.” So she is on brand, then, as a maverick reformer. That’s a point in her favour)

(P.P.S. Turns out, I’m not the only one worried about Palin’s lack of experience. Conservatives too are upset. This could be McCain’s version of Harriet Miers)

Maybe Air Canada Can Charge For Life Jackets

According to Cory Doctorow, Air Canada has given me another reason not to fly. To shave fuel costs, its planes on its cut-price airline Jazz will no longer offer life jackets.:

Jazz spokeswoman Manon Stuart said Thursday that Transport Canada regulations allow airlines to use flotation devices instead of life vests, provided the planes remain within 50 miles of shore.

Safety cards in the seat pockets of Jazz aircraft now direct passengers to use the seat cushions as flotation devices.

Stuart says Jazz is a transcontinental carrier that doesn’t fly over the ocean.

Jazz planes do fly over the Great Lakes and along the Eastern seaboard from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Boston, Massachusetts, and to New York.


The Mythbusters Create a Giant Ink-Jet Printer

Just watch this. Watch the whole thing. You’ll thank me.

(hat tip to Nunc Scio)

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