Archive for December 27th, 2007

Eli’s Obsession With The Google

Oh dear. #3 search result for laura bush not wearing underwear.

Someone must be very disappointed. Or relieved.

3 comments December 27th, 2007 at 08:46pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

Krugman Says Democrats Need To Be More Like Bush!

And I agree with him!

Here’s a thought for progressives: Bush isn’t the problem. And the next president should not try to be the anti-Bush.

No, I haven’t lost my mind. I’m not saying that we should look kindly on the Worst President Ever…. Nor am I suggesting that we should forgive and forget; I very much hope that the next president will open the records and let the full story of the Bush era’s outrages be told.

But Bush will soon be gone. What progressives should be focused on now is taking on the political movement that brought Bush to power. In short, what we need right now isn’t Bush bashing – what we need is partisanship.

(…)

[I]f you look at peoples’ views on actual issues, as opposed to labels, the electorate’s growing liberalism is unmistakable. Don’t take my word for it; look at the massive report Pew released earlier this year on trends in “political attitudes and core values.” Pew found “increased public support for the social safety net, signs of growing public concern about income inequality, and a diminished appetite for assertive national security policies.” Meanwhile, nothing’s the matter with Kansas: People are ever less inclined to support conservative views on moral values – and have become dramatically more liberal on racial issues.

And it’s not just opinion polls: Last year, the newly liberal mindset of the electorate was reflected in actual votes, too. Yes, some of the Democrats newly elected last year were relatively conservative. But others, including James Webb of Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, have staked out strikingly progressive positions on economic issues.

The question, however, is whether Democrats will take advantage of America’s new liberalism. To do that, they have to be ready to forcefully make the case that progressive goals are right and conservatives are wrong. They also need to be ready to fight some very nasty political battles.

And that’s where the continuing focus of many people on Bush, rather than the movement he represents, has become a problem.

A year ago, Michael Tomasky wrote a perceptive piece titled “Obama the anti-Bush,” in which he described Barack Obama’s appeal: After the bitter partisanship of the Bush years, Tomasky argued, voters are attracted to “someone who speaks of his frustration with our polarized politics and his fervent desire to transcend the red-blue divide.” People in the news media, in particular, long for an end to the polarization and partisanship of the Bush years – a fact that probably explains the highly favorable coverage Obama has received.

But any attempt to change America’s direction, to implement a real progressive agenda, will necessarily be highly polarizing. Proposals for universal health care, in particular, are sure to face a firestorm of partisan opposition. And fundamental change can’t be accomplished by a politician who shuns partisanship.

(…)

So, here’s my worry: Democrats, with the encouragement of people in the news media who seek bipartisanship for its own sake, may fall into the trap of trying to be anti-Bushes – of trying to transcend partisanship, seeking some middle ground between the parties.

That middle ground doesn’t exist – and if Democrats try to find it, they’ll squander a huge opportunity. Right now, the stars are aligned for a major change in America’s direction. If the Democrats play nice, that opportunity may soon be gone.

Amen to that. I’m worried that if Obama is elected president, there will come a day when the Republicans demand that all liberals be imprisoned – and the next day, President Obama will proudly announce that he has brokered a Grand Compromise, in which only half of all liberals will be imprisoned.

The Democrats must remember that the halfway mark between sane and insane is still pretty crazy. Otherwise, the Republicans will get everything they want, simply by always demanding twice as much. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much evidence that the Democratic leadership realizes that compromising with lunatics is not a winning strategy.

(h/t Caro Kay)

2 comments December 27th, 2007 at 07:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Politics

In Happier News…

This story is actually from Christmas Day, which seems appropriate:

ARAHUAY, Peru (AP) — Doubts about whether poor, rural children really can benefit from quirky little computers evaporate as quickly as the morning dew in this hilltop Andean village, where 50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago.

These offspring of peasant families whose monthly earnings rarely exceed the cost of one of the $188 laptops — people who can ill afford pencil and paper much less books — can’t get enough of their “XO” laptops.

At breakfast, they’re already powering up the combination library/videocam/audio recorder/music maker/drawing kits.

At night, they’re dozing off in front of them — if they’ve managed to keep older siblings from waylaying the coveted machines.

(…)

[The XO] is hard drive-free, runs on the Linux operating system and stretches wireless networks with “mesh” technology that lets each computer in a village relay data to the others.

(…)

Peru made the single biggest order to date — more than 272,000 machines — in its quest to turn around a primary education system that the World Economic Forum recently ranked last among 131 countries surveyed. Uruguay was the No. 2 buyers of the laptops, inking a contract for 100,000.

[One Laptop program founder Nicholas] Negroponte said 150,000 more laptops will get shipped to countries including Rwanda, Mongolia, Haiti, and Afghanistan in early 2008 through “Give One, Get One,” a U.S.-based promotion ending December 31 in which you buy a pair of laptops for $399 and donate one or both.

The children of Arahuay prove One Laptop’s transformative conceit: that you can revolutionize education and democratize the Internet by giving a simple, durable, power-stingy but feature-packed laptop to the worlds’ poorest kids.

(…)

Antony, 12, wants to become an accountant.

Alex, 7, aspires to be a lawyer.

Kevin, 9, wants to play trumpet.

Saida, 10, is already a promising videographer, judging from her artful recording of the town’s recent Fiesta de la Virgen.

“What they work with most is the (built-in) camera. They love to record,” says Maria Antonieta Mendoza, an Education Ministry psychologist studying the Arahuay pilot to devise strategies for the big rollout when the new school year begins in March.

(…)

Teachers will get 2 days of training on the laptops, Becerra said. Each machine will initially be loaded with about 100 copyright-free books. Where applicable, texts in native languages will be included, he added. The machines will also have a chat function that will let kids make faraway friends over the Internet.

(…)

The XO machines are water resistant, rugged and designed to last five years. They have no fan so they won’t suck up dust, are built to withstand drops from a meter and a half and can absorb power spikes typical of places with irregular electricity.

Mendoza, the psychologist, is overjoyed that the program stipulates that kids get ownership of the laptops.

Take Kevin, the aspiring trumpet player.

Sitting in his dirt-floor kitchen as his mother cooks lunch, he draws a soccer field on his XO, then erases it. Kevin plays a song by “Caliente,” his favorite combo, that he recorded off Arahuay’s single TV channel. He shows a reporter photos he took of him with his 3-year-old brother.

A bare light bulb hangs by a wire from the ceiling. A hen bobs around the floor. There are no books in this two-room house. Kevin’s parents didn’t get past the sixth grade.

Indeed, the laptop project also has adults in its sights.

Parents in Arahuay are asking Mendoza… what the Internet can do for them.

Among them is Charito Arrendondo, 39, who sheds brief tears of joy when a reporter asks what the laptop belonging to ruddy-cheeked Miluska — the youngest of her six children — has meant to her. Miluska’s father, it turns out, abandoned the family when she was 1.

“We never imagined having a computer,” said Arrendondo, a cook.

Is she afraid to use the laptop, as is typical of many Arahuay parents, about half of whom are illiterate?

“No, I like it. Sometimes when I’m alone and the kids are not around I turn it on and poke around.”

Arrendondo likes to play checkers on the laptop.

“It’s also got chess, which I sort of know,” she said, pausing briefly.

“I’m going to learn.”

I absolutely love this, including the mom taking an interest (no parent left behind). I’ve been dimly aware of this laptop even before the NYT reviewed it (video here), but I wasn’t so sure how it would pan out in the real world, where things have a tendency to, well, not pan out. I’m thrilled to see that the early returns are positive, that third-world governments are buying the XOs, and that the kids (and some parents) are stimulated, engaged, and enriched by them.

1 comment December 27th, 2007 at 06:46pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

Benazir Bhutto Killed

Call me cynical, but I kinda thought this was the only reason Musharraf let her back into the country in the first place.

Hell, maybe he called in a favor from al Qaeda – they kinda owe him.

In any case, I’m sure Musharraf has full deniability, and will declaim about what a terrible tragedy this is, but the democratic process will not be intimidated, and the elections will carry on as scheduled.

Nawaz Sharif, watch your back.

2 comments December 27th, 2007 at 09:13am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Terrorism


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