Notes from my five day weekend [10/21/08

First of all, if you don’t post regularly, you lose 50% of your traffic. In my case, that means I go from six to three (all of whom, I suspect, have my phone number).

There’s no overarching reason why I didn’t post, just a list of little ones. My kids went to Disneyland, which left my wife and I under some pressure to use our “quality time” wisely. So we experimented with going a day without computers or TV. I got called into work unexpectedly. We have some friends in town because their daughter is in the hospital. None of which would eat a whole weekend, but it all collectively adds up.

With our chance to see a grown-up movie without logistical obstructions, we chose W. Because you can’t torment the current president enough to satisfy my wife. Oliver Stone’s bio has no information that hasn’t been circulating for some time (he should have given Bob Woodward screen-writing credit), s the only new part is the dramatic re-enactments of it. Josh Brolin does a great Bush, but Stone has him eating or drinking through the whole movie, apparently just out of spite. And they dwell on this process with close-ups, which gets old fast.

So I didn’t learn much about the 43rd President, but I did come away with some perspective on the problems with biographies, especially on film. I’ve always been baffled by what directors include and leave out. W spends tme on Bush’s first campaign for congress (which he lost) but almost no time on his legendary battle against incumbent Ann Richards for the governor of Texas. It is mentioned briefly that Ann richards would be hard to beat. Then cut to the victory party.

He beat Ann Richards the same way he beat John Kerry in 2004 – by stirring up the base and making sure they all got out to vote. Now, the 2004 race was outside the film’s focus (which was largely decisions leading up to the Iraq invasion), but some insight into how this idiot keeps beating supposedly smart democrats would be instructive.

I have the same problem with the John Adams bio that ran on HBO. There were some moments I really wanted to see, that the series just skipped over. John Adams playing bad cop in the treaty negotiations between the new nation, England and France probably saved the union. Two lines.

I know you only have so much time, but show – don’t tell.

The good news is that they left that area open for me to write a play about it. Someday.

OK. This is not intended as a collection of other websites, but I have collected a few anyway over the past five days.

Chris Mathews becomes more partisan everyday, but you can still destroy your political career on Hardball. Here’s a recap from this morning’s Fix.

Trying to get your book on the shelves at the bookstore. Publishing marketer Andrew Wheeler explains on his blog why you shouldn’t take the numbers personally.

Why is your child’s textbook a pile of unreadable crap – the same as yours used to be?  The Textbook League explains, with an extended excerpt from physicist Richard Feyman’s account of his time on the California curriculum committee.

And finally, a return to an old and nearly forgotten obsession of mine: pictures of toilets found randomly on the internet (but these in particular are worth seeing!).

Worth waiting for? Probably not. But thanks for your patience anyway.

Why the Founders Feared the Common People [9/26/08]

I’ve been watching the John Adams miniseries which ran on HBO (and which I have via Netflix). I haven’t leared a whole lot (I read David McCulloh’s book) except a fact I probably forgot. Adams rose to fame (and infamy) in Boston for successfully defending the soldiers who fired in the Boston massacre. Adams convinced the jury that they fired in self defense. (In truth, any mob that rows rocks and sticks at any modern US police force is likely to get gun downed as well). However, as compelling as his courtroom antics were, Adams won the case in jury selection. None of the jurors actually lived in Boston, and more than half had business interests with the British army.

Top political interent search subjects according to a guy on NPR (wrote the book Clicks – name escapes me).

For O’Bama: “How tall is Barak Obama?”

For Sarah Palin: “beauty pageant photos.”

(On that subject, Waxy has the swimsuit competition short, because YouTube keeps pulling it down, They have several clips of Obama playing basketball in about an equal amount of clothing.)

After the debate (of course I watched!) the commenators – on PBS no less – were complaining that is was dull. No name calling – just a serious policy debate on issues of substance. What is the Republic coming to?