The Emotional Pumpkin


Thursday, December 09, 2004

This is....weird

According to a new study published in the UK journal Human Reproduction, men who regularly use laptops actually on their, er, laps are at risk for decreased sperm production or infertility.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Damn, I'm good.

Permit me a bit of self-congratulation here. As of later today, I will officially be done with all of my Christmas shopping. Maybe you're not impressed, but I'm really proud of myself. I'm never done before the eleventh hour. And sometimes not until April. Of the next year. This is quite an accomplishment for me. Go me! It's my birthday.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Interesting goings on

at the DNC. It looks like the Democrats did get a wake-up call, after all. (Via InstaPundit)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Microsoft gets in on the act

with its new blog publishing service: MSN Spaces. (Via InstaPundit)

While we're on the subject,

here's another take on what's wrong with the Democratic party and liberalism in general today. Not sure I entirely agree with it*, but it's certainly worth reading.

* I don't know that there is in general a problem with liberalism or liberal ideology itself. I think it's more of a case of the fringe getting ever more of a voice and shifting the entire Democratic party over to the extreme left.

Eugene Volokh writes

an excellent op-ed in today's NY Times about journalists, the First Amendment, and confidentiality. (Via InstaPundit)

On cynicism: a corollary

In light of my post yesterday, I thought I'd offer my much-overdue election post-mortem. In my mind, it is the lack of idealistic behavior that lost the election for the Democrats. And I mean every person in this country who affiliates him/herself with that party, not just the party players. From the national Democrats on down to those oh-so-worldly-wise voters, there was widespread insecurity, loss of the forest for the trees, and just general ideological bastardization. They were so focused on winning that they forgot to play the game.

I figure this election was like Michael Jackson's latest album. According to an interview I saw on TV some time ago, Jackson went to Quincy Jones and said something to this effect when asking him to produce the album: "Here's the album. We think people will like it; we think it will sell." Not surprisingly, Jones wanted nothing to do with it. He said music wasn't about engineering something that was guaranteed to sell. Doing that fundamentally violated the spirit of creating music in the first place.

That's just what the Democrats did in this election. They tried to engineer it. They didn't find a candidate, or perhaps more importantly, a message, that could inspire the public. They cobbled together a series of opinion polls and focus group test results and called it John Kerry. They violated the spirit of democracy.

Jay Rosen on

the media-as-election-losers meme.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

On cynicism

Regular readers of this blog will know about my personal struggle when it came to choosing a candidate to vote for in the recent presidential election, and my eventual conclusion that I could follow my conscience and not vote for any of the candidates, and still have made my voice heard. I had thought it was a pretty obvious decision, but after having talked about my choice with various others in the weeks both preceding and following the election, and having heard, with varying (but always some) levels of condescension: "Oh, I wish I was as idealistic as you, but I had to blah blah blah", I have concluded that maybe I'm the only one (or at least one of a very few) that realizes that, in the case of democracy at least, behaving idealistically just makes more sense. I contend that these others, these people who second-guess the system, are precisely the ones who foul it up for everyone else.

I'm not saying that this is true of the general population (and considering news reports, I'm pretty sure that my observations cannot be extrapolated to apply to all), but every person I know who voted for Kerry wasn't voting for him so much as against Bush. Among my acquaintances, at least, it was universally acknowledged that Kerry was a pretty bad candidate. But they voted for him anyway. Some because they thought they'd be more likely to agree with his policies than Bush's, some because they actually liked one or two of his positions (although how they were able to tell what his positions were is beyond me). And some (this applies more to the primary elections than the final one, because by the latter he was the only guy available) because they thought he was a likely winner. It is this last group of people that I address this post to.

Dammit, a candidate is not electable because he has been carefully calibrated to be the most inoffensive! A candidate is electable if he or she cares about fixing the problems our nation faces, has a vision of how he/she wants to do it, and can communicate that passion to the voters effectively. I mean, come on: did anyone really vote for Kerry in the primaries because they thought he had a compelling vision of the path this country should take? No. They thought he had a better chance than the others (why, I still don't understand) of going up against the AntiChrist...I mean, Bush, and emerging victorious.

Where was the faith that a candidate could win on the basis of his ideals? Where was the conviction that standing up for what you believe in (as terrible naive as everyone seems to believe it is) would actually make a difference?

It has now become the conventional wisdom, it seems, that individual votes don't count. In fact, it has become so widespread that I believe (extrapolation caveat blah blah) a significant number of opposition voters, especially in very red or very blue states, don't bother voting because they figure they are raindrops in the face of a flood. But this is what I don't understand. They assume they are the only ones who think that way. But all these individual raindrops have become a flood in their own right, a flood of the voluntarily disenfranchised. And I say disenfranchised because they had made a choice for a candidate and then chose not to make that decision known. As I specifically decided to choose none of the candidates, my abstinence does not put me in that category.

Both these groups of people, those who voted a certain way because of a perceived likely outcome, and those who didn't vote because they assumed their votes wouldn't count, are (permit me a little melodrama) monkey wrenches thrown into the great clockwork of democracy. I think that the number of people in these two groups would be sufficiently large, had they actually voted their consciences, that we'd be dealing with a very different America today.

As I've said before, democracy is a system that only works well if people behave idealistically. You vote for the guy you like, and you hope that enough others will do the same. It's as simple and as complex as that. If you vote for someone who you don't particularly like, but who you think may win, or if you don't vote at all because you don't think your vote matters, you have only yourself to blame if your desired outcome doesn't come to pass. If you second-guess the system, you break it.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Write a comment; let me know.

If you know me,

you know how much I hate those jewelers' commercials that are constantly on TV; I can't stand how they portray women as grasping and materialistic. Apparently I'm not the only one.