Friday, January 4, 2008

My one thought on the Iowa caucus

In the wake of Obama's victory speech after the Iowa caucuses, I was bemused to read this take by Matt Yglesias:

The Obama who gets panned in Paul Krugman columns and sundry blog posts -- the one who just wants to make nice with Republicans and doesn't care about progressive values -- doesn't seem to be on the podium tonight.
Now, I have no doubt that this is what Matt saw when he heard the speech -- but compelling political speeches are often like Rohshach tests -- you see what you want to see. The speech I heard was one where Obama certainly touched on a lot of progressive themes, but one in which he also took pains to speak in very nonpartisan terms:
You have done what America can do in this New Year, 2008. In lines that stretched around schools and churches; in small towns and big cities; you came together as Democrats, Republicans and Independents to stand up and say that we are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come.

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that's consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that's been all about division and instead make it about addition – to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. Because that's how we'll win in November, and that's how we'll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation.

We are choosing hope over fear. We're choosing unity over division, and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America....

Hope—hope—is what led me here today – with a father from Kenya; a mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.

That is what we started here in Iowa, and that is the message we can now carry to New Hampshire and beyond; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down; the one that can change this country brick by brick, block by block, calloused hand by calloused hand – that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things; because we are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.

Now I'm not saying Matt is wrong and I'm right. What I'm saying is that a politician who can make different people hear what they want to hear -- or just be compelled to actively listen -- is not someone who is going to be brought low easily.

Or maybe it's me. Watch for yourself and post your reaction:

posted by Dan at 02:04 PM | Comments (17) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Worst student sentences...revealed!!!

Last month, I asked professors to "post, in the comments, the single-worst sentence you have read in a student paper."

And lo, academics from around the land heard of this contest, and proffered their best quotes. And, lo, the results are in.....

And the result is..... a three-way tie!!!

Reading through the entries, it quickly became apparent that there were three different kind of bad sentences, each deserving of their own award.

The first kind relies on a really bad malapropism. The winner in this category is... from David Sousa:

Given politicians' efforts to maninpulate coverage, citizens cannot easily distinguish between fact and fornication.
The second kind relies on really, really bad writing. And the winner in this category is BN, who submitted the following sentence:
The Civil War lasted no more than four years, but the red and blue blood that was spilt will last a life time.
In the final and most difficult category, the writer must demonstrate a near-complete lack of factual or analytical control over the subject matter. And the hands-down winner in this category is Diodotus, with the following grad student sentence:
In order to make an intelligent argument, I determined that I first had to have a genuine understanding of the conflict. I sought this information in several books because I felt that they would be the most unbiased and factual.
Thanks to one and all for participating -- and students should not fear, as their opportunity to strike back will be coming tomorrow.

posted by Dan at 09:34 PM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, December 31, 2007

Your 2008 predictions.... today!!

Greetings from the year 2008!

You poor people who have to wait... uh... several hours before the new year have no idea what awaits you!! You'll commute to work by helicopter or jetpack and wear aluminum-colored clothing. Curiously, the communication devices will be clunkier than current cellular phones.

In the waning hours of 2007 and the beginning hours of 2008, however, it seems appropriate to provide loyal readers with a place to post predictions for 2008. So, the bold amongst you are asked to hereby predict the following:

1) The presidential nominee for the Democratic Party;

2) The presidential nominee for the Republican Party;

3) The winner of the 2008 presidential election

4) The Academy Award Best Picture winner for 2008 (not who should win, but who will win)

5) The winner of the 2008 World Series

6) The winner of the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize

My submission is below the fold....

1) Barack Obama (I'm sticking with my original prediction on this, but I'll admit that I can think of way too many land mines over the next few months)

2) Mitt Romney

3) Obama

4) No Country For Old Men

5) The Boston Red Sox over the Arizona Diamondbacks

6) Bono

posted by Dan at 09:59 PM | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)