Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

M31, the closest spiral galaxy to ours. From Kitt
Peak Observatory.
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The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"It is the largest part of a man that is not inventoried. He has many enumerable parts: he is social, professional, political, sectarian, literary, and is this or that set and corporation. But after the most exhausting census has been made, there remains as much more which no tongue can tell. And this remainder is that which interests. For the better part of every mind is not that which he knows, but that which hovers in gleams, suggestions, tantalizing, unpossessed, before him. This dancing chorus of thoughts and hopes is the quarry of the future, is his possibility."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

"Puppet Theatre" by Paul Klee
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Clinton and the Media: Just the Same Old Story

The apparently intense resentment the Clinton campaign is expressing for how the media is covering the campaign spilled into Tuesday's debate in a fairly bizarre way, with Hillary attacking the questioners for--of all things--always asking her questions first. That this is a disadvantage is by no means obvious.

But on the larger point, it's true that the Clinton campaign is getting a bad press these days. Why? Because they're losing.

For much of this year, the media narrative was Clinton the Inevitable, the virtual incumbent, with unbeatable credentials, political machine, message discipline, etc. Well, as I've pointed out many times before, the media knows only one story arc: the rise, the fall, the resurrection. It's their version of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl (with the appropriate 21st century gender variations.)

So they gave her months of 'the rise to dominance', and then the story was 'alone at the top, swatting the knats around the throne.' But "happily ever after" is boring, and once that clearly was no longer the way things were going, then the Clinton story became "the fall," while the Obama story took over the "rise" storyline. With 11 straight victories, most of them lopsided, the rise of Obama was kind of a no-brainer, especially for the news media.

Sure, the fall of Hillary Clinton liberated some bias, both conscious and unconscious, against women, but also liberated resentment against the Clintons (especially when Bill Clinton got so deeply involved), and specifically against how Hillary's campaign hectors the press, responds to questions by belittling the question itself, and so on. People will take that as long as they have to, when they were covering the rise of the Inevitable. Now they don't have to.

The media is covering dissension within the Clinton campaign and among her supporters. Nobody cares much about dissension in a winning campaign, where there is likely to be less anyway, though reporters store up those stories for later use. (There was a story recently about the Obama campaign being less accessible to the press: expect this to be resurrected... if he starts to "fall.")

At the debate, Tim "The Ferret" Russert turned his beady eyes and gleaming teeth on Hillary early and often, partly because she's been making the most provocative statements and exhibiting the most provocative behavior. What she's been saying and doing is new and news. I don't discount a certain amount of payback, and I don't like Russert in the first place (if you couldn't tell.) But if she's such a fighter and a survivor, she can't also be the victim.

Insofar as the pushback by the Clinton campaign is tactical, trying to force the press into different behavior, good luck. Clinton can get better press by changing the storyline. And she can only do that by winning Texas and Ohio by Obama-sized margins next Tuesday. Then they're happily off to the Resurrection. The story continues.

For more on the debate and campaign news: American Dash.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Posted by Picasa my book

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This North Coast Place: Interregnum

Places in the northeast and midwestern states have been having their late winter snow storms, but the weather is also a little confused here. It's been raining and blowing here for more than 12 hours straight. Normally we would call this a winter storm, which aren't abnormal in late February. Seasons are kind of indefinite here in the first place, at least along this coastal strip where the difference between summer and winter temperatures is on the order of ten degrees. At any given moment of the year, something here is blooming.

But things do seem a little unhinged. This storm started very early this morning with thunder. We were guests for dinner in a house overlooking Arcata our first year here (Sept. 1996) with a fine vantage point to view some lightning. Our host told us to enjoy it, because we wouldn't be seeing much of it here. He was right. If we saw lightning or heard thunder once a year, it was a lot. But a few years ago, that was no longer true. Thunder and lightning storms aren't frequent or even seasonal, as they were in my western Pennsylvania summers. But they are no longer rare, and they occur at any time of the year.

Earlier this week there was ample sun and spring-like warmth. Which came after a series of rain storms, our brief winter a bit late this year. So it's both spring and winter, and therefore neither. At least the rain held off until after the candlelight Vigil last evening commemorating Indian Island. That's always a beautiful occasion and I'm sorry I missed it this year.

I've noted that our hummingbirds are still here. The last time I saw two was about 10 days ago, but I saw one yesterday, and the day before. I'm not a good enough observer to say if it was the same one, but I would guess it wasn't. My recollection is that in past years I started not seeing them around Valentine's Day, when the feeder would be untouched, the red liquid slowly losing its color over the following months.

The total eclipse of the moon the other night was unaccountably visible here. At this time of year especially, but even in the summer, you learn not to get your hopes up about observing celestial phenomena because the nights are often cloudy or blanketed with high fog. The clouds and fog hover at the horizon even more often, but the big rising moon was clearly visible as the eclipse began: quite a sight. I was doing errands in Eureka, and the moon was dead ahead of me as I started driving home. Later I could see the eclipse ending over the house across the street. Pretty neat. I still remember the first eclipse I saw as a boy, peering out my parent's bedroom window, and the awe I felt trying to get my mind around what I was seeing.