I have been wasting an hour or so since I got up rambling through a number of thoughts which led to some interesting places. All in service of my Barbershop trip tomorrow morning.
It starts with a photo gallery on Obama from the NYT. I sent a copy of the URL to my daughter who is quite comfy, thank you, with taking 100 photos a day, even if it's just of herself. She's going to make something of that, I think, and is getting better at composition every day.
Drama & Entertainments
I then considered why I've been getting most of my info second-hand on the Denver fracas. Fact is, I'd rather watch the new Don Cheadle movie, speaking of triumphant black men. Instead I watched David Lynch's Dune with Boy. The book itself was one of his summer reading projects, and so now we're enjoying the flick. It's fascinating how so much of it holds together visually despite the level of (now) cheese, and the absurdly bad dialog. Also I'm watching Spartacus for the first time, recovering the name of that oddly familiar tune, and various unsophisticated stereotypes of Rome and Romans. These dramas can at least be entertaining and instructive, but I cannot be entertained by the Democrats, although I've heard good things about Michelle.
A New Paradigm of Political Speech
Still, it was Kucinich that got my goat up, but we hashed through that mash yesterday. I'll certainly watch and read Obama's speech today. I'm certain it will be a magic moment. Speaking of which, I've always thought, though never said, that his stadium address is an excellent idea, and I think it is perfectly in keeping with an age old tradition. We all could use more of that, epic sized events that are more than just entertainments. If the trend in megachurches was right, why should preachers have all the fun? I expect that the occasion will be wonderful, but I also expect that we will learn nothing worth turning a decision, as has been the case all week thus far. Obama would do well to stay very, very large and speak a good distance away from hot button issues and policy. This must be his finest hour. He has the ego for it. What did LaShawn Barber say about Obama's interpretation of Matthew? Let's hope it doesn't sound too socialist, but anything to change the paradigm away from the likes of Chris Matthews and Jon Stewart.
In reviewing what I've said already before I go to the next fragment let me add this new summary observation. Barack Obama has done something fabulous to American politics, which is that he has given us a taste of what is to come. He has broken something that needed breaking (aside from the Clinton stranglehold) which was the expectation of the ordinary. He has done so with forces that still need a lot of explaining because nobody was quite prepared for it. I think that 12 years from now, we will be able to look back and recognize what he started, but now that we're in the middle of it, it all feels odd.
In a way (and this is going to sound crazy, but I mean it in a positive way) Obama is to politics what Janet Jackson has been to pop music. Or maybe he is Michael Jackson and the Janet has yet to come. But when I think of Janet, she made her breakout with Janet in 1993. Obama is still at Rhythm Nation, dynamic, forceful, clunky, dependent, corny on the verge of sublime with a beat you cannot forget. Almost but not quite. What Janet finally did in 1993 did was edgy and classy all at once, and no female pop artist has been able to handle that mix ever since - they all crashed and burned. But she changed everything. Obama is changing everything, the pace, the venues, the distribution channels, the center, the style, the attitude. It's not Obama's world, but you can see it spinning in the direction he is defining.
I was at the LA Coliseum when Nelson Mandela came to speak. Mandela never did a thing in American politics - he never handled the reins of power, but he filled that stadium in June of 1990. I kept the red black and green black power flag I got on that day for many years. I cannot remember what he said there, and of course nothing that he did made any difference in the affairs of Americans, but it was nevertheless a very powerful affair. We remember how he made us feel, what he inspired in us.
It doesn't take much imagination to see that Obama is an inspiration to millions of Americans, but we have no purchase on the content of their dreams, and I suspect that Obama himself is no more clued in than any of us. His ambition is clear, ours are our own. I have no doubts that the machinations of the Democrat party will limit, as would the office of President were he to achieve that, will limit what dreams can be made possible. The business of running the Executive Branch is a discipline that owns its driver, especially a government this size. We don't need the kind of catastrophe that loosens any grip on that discipline and lets imagination loose - well, Leftist imagination. So what I'm saying is that while I can appreciate the sort of conversation we are having as it evolves out of the tired old mainstream media's structure and rhythm, as practical matter I cannot and will not vote in favor of the one who represents the sort of change Obama has given us to consider. Would that he were the one to make our government as nimble as he himself has been.
So I take consolation in the pace and dimensions of the new political conversation despite its old harangues and misrepresentations a la Kucinich.
Obama Like Who
Someone asked who Obama was most like between Jack Kennedy, Jackie Robinson, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and a few others who made no sense at all - Colin Powell and maybe one other. I thought maybe Kennedy but then dismissed the idea because of the huge differences in background. In the end I thought Jimmy Carter because he came out of nowhere and took over before anybody realized what he might do. Carter in the end, thought wrong. He was an engineer who though he might be able to control all sorts of things, but a nation is too stochastic to engineer - you have to leave it be. How ironic that the man who at his highest point of credibility, when he calmed the nation's fears over the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, left as a legacy the changes in standards that killed that industry - regulated into improbability. Now 30 years later we stand a generation behind.
Nobody knows if Obama would be like Carter. He's young enough to throw us a wildcard. But it's obvious that he is trying to be like Kennedy and King all wrapped together. Meanwhile, those of us who loved those two have grown old and cynical. It's not worth the risk says this old man, exactly as old as Obama.
About Carter there is no doubt that inflation was his legacy. It destroyed all sense of proportion for me as a young man who loved cars growing up. When I entered high school in 1974, a brand new Mustang cost 3500. By the time I would have graduated from college in 8 years, the price had doubled, the car performed more poorly and looked uglier. In California, the price of houses doubled too. We had to find a new way out of this mess. Reagan started it. For me the IT revolution finished it. Now the things I love get cheaper, better looking and perform better over time.
But there's still that energy crisis staring at us once again.
Once upon a time, just before the Arab Oil Embargo, Detroit was thinking about putting rotary engines in the new Corvette. Guess what. They're simpler, smaller and more powerful than piston engines. If you read on about their engineering, as I did this morning, you'll discover that they can burn hydrogen. They also have problems with detonation, so they generally run richer than ordinary engines, which means more unburned hydrocarbons get out and mileage is worse. So while they could get 400hp out of 2 liters, the Crisis brought all that investment to a halt. So today it's a technology that's just laying around being only innovated at Mazda and basically nowhere else.
If you look at the amount of horsepower and fuel efficiency we've gotten out of piston engines over the past generation, it's very impressive. Imagine where we could be if we got with the Wankel program. The RX-8 is our first clue, plus the fact that Le Mans has basically outlawed rotaries from their competitions. The next generation Renesis engine from Mazda is on the drawing boards. It could be fabulous. BTW, we use rotary engines in UAVs and very small ones have many applications too.
Jobs is Not Dead
Yes he has been battling pancreatic cancer, but he's not dead. Bloomberg accidently published its ever-handy obituary. Hmm.
Last But Not Least
I'm looking for the name of a song, a slamming sparse hiphop cut that Cinemax is using to advertise their new HD channel MaxHD coming September 1. That's what hiphop used to sound like.