Interesting Vancouver

Posted in Art, Canadian life, review at 9:01 pm by ducky

I got a ticket to Interesting Vancouver from Boris Mann, who uh reminded me that I owed him a recap in exchange.  That’s a perfectly perfectly reasonable request, but that message didn’t sink in ahead of time, so I didn’t take notes or try very hard to remember.  I’ll do a dump on my impressions, but you should note that I seemed to have been grumpy that evening, perhaps because I didn’t have enough dinner.

  • James Sherret from AdHack:  I was about 10 minutes late, so missed his talk completely.
  • Darren Barefoot, laptopbedouin.com: I came in in the middle.  Darren was basically waxing rhapsodic about the value/joy of telecommuting from other countries for multiple months at a time.  His message seemed to be “go, it’ll be fun, you’ll learn, it won’t cost as much as you think, what do you have to lose?”
    • When I was younger, I wouldn’t have found anything at all wrong with that message. I would had little patience for old farts telling me (or anyone) that I should grow up and start being responsible blah blah blah. However, now that I am older and have seen how health issues can trash a life, I would suggest more caution, particularly for people who are citizens of countries without socialized medicine. Part of “being responsible” is saving away the money that you will need for later. When you lose your job. When you can’t work because of your illness. When your partner can’t work. When your mother has a heart attack. When your kid needs rehab. You might be fine now, but someday you won’t be. Running off to live in a third-world country probably increases your risk of illness, complications, accidents, and/or violence at least slightly. It also cuts you off from your family — the same family that you might need to turn to someday.
  • Roy Yen, soomo.com: I think Roy was the one who was arguing that our “vertical architecture” (i.e. skyscrapers) was contributing to loneliness and isolation, and that we really needed a public gathering space in Vancouver.  He said that Vancouver used to have a big public gathering space, but there was a riot in the 70s and The Powers That Be decided that having a big public gathering space was a Bad Idea, so redeveloped it away.  He pointed out that the only public gathering space left is the back side of the Art Gallery, and that the Art Gallery is slated to move to False Creek.
    • When he blamed the high-density development for loneliness and isolation, I was kind of stunned.  “Has he ever lived in suburbia???” I remember asking myself.  I immediately thought of a neighbourhood in Orange County where a friend lived, where I spent a few days once.  It was all snout houses, and my friend said that in a year of living there, she had never spoken to a neighbour.  I think she maybe hadn’t even seen her immediate neighbours — they drove into their garage, and thence immediately into their house.  I am now living in a skyscraper for the first time, and I find the density wonderful: I see people in the elevators, I see people as I walk to the bus stop, I see people as I walk to the grocery store, etc. etc. etc.  It feels far more communal than driving to everywhere in a car by myself.
    • I did think it was interesting to hear about the bygone public space and to think about the back of the Vancouver Art Gallery being the one public gathering space.   However, most of the places that I’ve lived didn’t have public gathering spaces, and somehow we got by.
  • James Chutter radarddb.com:
    • James’ presentation didn’t have a real obvious thesis statement — I don’t know that I learned anything from his talk, but I remember I enjoyed it.  He told the story of his evolution as a storyteller, and in doing so talked about the evolution of the Web.
  • Cheryl Stephens, plainlanguage.com: Cheryl is a lawyer and literacy advocate who talked about how widespread the problem of literacy is.
    • Cheryl lost my attention very, very quickly.  Some combination of her voice level, the microphone level, how far she stood from the mike, and me being in the back of the room (I was late, remember?) meant that I had to exert some effort to understand her words, and I didn’t like her words well enough to pay attention.  In particular, early on, she asserted, “There can be no education without literacy.”  While I  might have been extra grumpy that evening (note my grumpy comments elsewhere), I found that statement offensive.  Um, blind people can’t be educated?  (NB: Only 3% of the visually impaired students at UBC read Braille.  I presume the rest use screen readers.)
    • Later, she talked about how widespread illiteracy was, and said that only about 10% of the population could read at a college level.  I didn’t know about Canada, but right around half of the US population has attended some college.  Um, does that mean that 80% of people in college can’t read at a college level?
    • One thing that I did find interesting was her report that the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that explaining something wasn’t enough, that the plaintiffs also had to understand it.  (She gave the example of someone being offered counsel, and the perp saying he already had a drug counselor — not realizing that “counsel” meant “lawyer”.)
    • I was a little confused as how explaining something verbally related to literacy.
    • At the end, she rushed in about thirty seconds of how to make your prose more understandable.  I personally would have preferred less talk aimed at convincing me literacy was a problem and more on how to address it.
  • Shannon LaBelle, Vancouver Museums: Shannon gave a very quick talk that was basically, “Vancouver has lots of interesting museums, especially the Museum of Anthropology when it reopens, go visit them!”
  • Irwin Oostindie, creativetechnology.org: Irwin talked about his community, the Downtown East Side, and in bringing pride to his community through culture, especially in community-generated media.
    • I wanted to like Irwin’s lofty goals.  He was a very compelling speaker.  But I have done a lot of work in community media, and know that it is extremely difficult to make compelling media.  It sure seemed like he was getting his hopes up awfully high.  Well, best of luck to him.  Maybe.
    • He seemed to want to make DTES a vibrant, interesting, entertaining place.  I worry that if it becomes entertaining, it will quickly gentrify.  I think a lot of people in DTES don’t need entertainment, they need jobs.  They need housing.
  • Jeffrey Ellis, cloudscapecomics.com: Jeffrey gave a very quick talk advertising a group of comic artists who were about to release (just released?) another comic book.
    • Sure, fine.  Whatever.
  • Tom Williams, GiveMeaning: Tom told the story of how he used to be making big bucks in high finance, and thought he was happy until someone he had known before asked him a penetrating question.  I don’t remember the question, but it was something along the lines of “Are you really happy?” or “Does your life have meaning?” and that made him realize he wasn’t happy.  Tom quit his job and went looking for his purpose and couldn’t find it.  He came back to Vancouver, found that guy, and said something along the lines of “You ruined my life with your question, how do I fix it?”  The guy said, “Follow your passion.”  Tom said, “How do I find my passion????”  The guys said, “Follow your tears.”  From that, Tom started a micro-charity site.  (Think microlending, but microgiving instead.)  People can create projects (e.g. “sponsor me for the Breast Cancer Walk”) that others can then donate small amounts to.
    • I don’t mind giving people a little bit of money sometimes, but I do resent being on their mailing list forever and ever after.  When he explained his site, it made me think of all the trees that have died in the service of trying to extract more money from me.  🙁
    • His friend’s advice, “Follow your tears” has hung around with me since.  I told my beloved husband that it probably meant that I had to go back to the US to try to fix the system.  Unfortunately, I find activism really boring.  🙁
  • Naomi Devine, uvic.commonenergy.org: I don’t have a strong memory of this talk.  I think she was arguing for getting involved in local politics, especially green politics.  I suspect that the talk didn’t register because it either trying to persuade me of something I already believe, or teaching me how to do something I already know.
  • James Glave, glave.com: I have very weak memories of this talk also.  I think again, he was trying to persuade me on something I’m already persuaded on.
  • Colin Keddie, Buckeye Bullet: Colin gave kind of a hit-and-run talk about the Buckeye Bullet, a very very fast experimental car developed at Ohio State University and which runs on fuel cells.
    • I would have liked to have heard more about how the car worked, the challenges that they faced, etc.  However, he only had three minutes, and that’s not a lot of time.
    • (Slightly off-topic: I got to see a talk on winning the DARPA challenge when I was at Google.  It’s a great talk, I highly recommend it.)
  • Joe Solomon, engagejoe.com: I don’t have any memories of this talk.  Maybe I was getting tired then?  Maybe I’m getting tired now?
  • Dave Ng, biotech.ubc.ca: Dave’s talk was on umm science illiteracy.
    • Dave gave a very engaging talk.  He put up three questions, and had us talk to our neighbours to help us decide if they were true or false.  All of them seemed to be designed to be so ridiculous that they couldn’t possibly be true.  I happened to have read Science News for enough years, that I was very confident that the first two were true (which they were).  The third was something about how 46% of Americans believe they are experts in the evolutionary history of a particular type of bird — again it looked like it couldn’t possibly be true.  It was a bit of a fakeout: it turned out that 46% of Americans thought that the Genesis story was literally true.
    • The audience participation was fun.
  • David Young, 2ndglobe.com: David talked about Great Place/times and wondered why Vancouver couldn’t do that.  He pointed out that Athens in Socrates’ time, Florence in Michelangelo’s time, Vienna in Beethoven’s time, the Revolutionary War-era US, and several other place/times had far fewer residents than Vancouver, so why can’t we do the same?
    • I have thought about this, and maybe I read something about this elsewhere, but I believe there are a few factors that account for most of why the great place/times were great:
      • Great wealth (which means lots of leisure time).  Frequently this wealth came by exploiting some other people.  The US Founding Fathers and Athenians had slaves, for example.
      • Lack of entertainment options.  We are less likely to do great things if The Simpsons is on.
      • Lack of historical competition.   Michelangelo showed up at a time when the Church was starting to be a bit freer in what it would tolerate in art.  (Michelangelo’s David was the second nude male sculpture in like 500 years…)
      • Technological advances.  Shakespeare wasn’t competing with hundreds of years of other playwrights, he was competing with around 100 years of post-printing-press playwrights.  The other playwrights and authors’ work didn’t get preserved.   The French impressionists were able to go outside and paint because they were able to purchase tubes of paint that they could take with them and which didn’t dry too fast.  (They also had competition from the camera for reproducing scenes absolutely faithfully, so needed to do something cameras couldn’t do.)

I also had an interesting time talking with Ray-last-name-unknown, who I met at some event a few months ago and who I’d spoken to at length at Third Tuesday just a few nights before.  We walked back to downtown together and didn’t have any dead spots in the conversation.

Californians: please vote NO on Prop 8

Posted in Gay rights, Married life, Politics at 9:37 am by ducky


Please vote NO on Proposition 8 on Tuesday.  It is a bad law that would hurt people.  People I care about.

The backers of Prop 8 like to say that they are trying to “protect traditional marriage”.  That’s a dogwhistle.  What the Prop 8 supporters are really saying is that marriage equality is a threat to traditional gender roles, as I discussed before.

My heterosexual marriage is stronger because of exposure to a particular loving, committed gay couple, Rich and Chris.  They were my housemates and landlords for four years total.  I first lived with them  immediately after they bought their house together — which for gay couples at the time was the event that was about as close to marriage as you could get.  They had some rocky spots, would have arguments and stomp around the house mad for a few days, but they would work through it.  They would negotiate in good faith and strive for win-win resolutions.  They grew to understandings, made adjustments, and released preconceived notions. This was not always smooth, especially in the first year, but they ended up with a truly harmonious relationship, in a house full of laughter and love.

Their good example not only gave me courage to get married, it showed me how to get through my own transition.  When my husband and I fought, I remembered both their example of “fighting fair” and that there was a huge eventual reward for working through the arguments.

It was grossly unfair that this couple, my role models, were unable to get married when we did, despite being together for 11 years already.  It was a wondrous thing when they finally were able to get married this summer.  It would be a grotesque miscarriage of justice if their marriage were rent asunder by Proposition 8.

If you can, please give money to the campaign — NOW.  Our opponents have raised a huge amount of money, it’s been a scramble to try to match them, and the last possible media buy is happening tomorrow (31 October 2008) at noon.

And please please please remember to go to the polls and remember to vote NO.  Leave the law the way it is, leave equality in place, leave Rich and Chris’ marriage intact.


Sarah Palin, shared context, and code-switching

Posted in Politics at 2:00 pm by ducky

Anil Dash has a posting where he takes Sarah Palin to task for her use of language (and rightly so, IMHO).

He also talks about the phenomenon of code-switching, the practice of switching languages or dialects:

[O]ne of the most interesting traits about [code-switching] is not merely how easy it is for people to switch language on the fly, but rather how the choice of language actually informs the meaning and the nuance of the words being said.

I read a fascinating paper on formality and language which pretty convincingly showed that informality in language is an indicator of shared context, and as such a indication of intimacy. You use formal language with the CEO of your company or the Queen because to use informal language would be uppity — it would say that you thought you had a lot in common. Conversely, if you started speaking very formally to your spouse, he/she would wonder what was wrong.

I see this in myself. Because my home dialect is very close to “newsroom English” — educated upper Midwestern — I don’t really have a home dialect to switch into. Thus sometimes in the US when I want to demonstrate intimacy, I will switch into AAVE even if both I and the other person are white! Most Americans are at least partially versed in AAVE, so that is a way of demonstrating shared context. However, I would never use AAVE with a Canadian, as that would emphasize our difference, exposing context that we did not share.

So what is Sarah Palin’s use of dialect doing? She is showing, “I am like you.” And, since she is using a white dialect, she is implicitly saying, “I am white like you.” I completely agree with Anil that Palin is trying paint Obama as Other and McCain as Not-Other, and think that her choice of a very white dialect is part of that.


open letter to Senator Obama: please keep the volunteers

Posted in Politics at 11:33 pm by ducky

Senator Obama —

I am writing to plead with you to keep your volunteer organization in place after the election.

The articles that I have read about the ground operation (e.g. here and here) sound like your volunteer organization in the US has been just amazing. I’ve witnessed this to a lesser extent myself while volunteering for different (specialized) volunteer work I’ve done for you from my home in Canada.

Please keep the volunteer effort alive after the election. This organization is a hugely valuable resource to the country, to the Democratic Party, to you, and also to the volunteers themselves. It would be a real shame to let it dissipate into the wind.

There are many valuable activities that volunteers could do after election day:

  • The volunteers could organize to do charitable work, much as my friend and your staffer Eric Loeb attempted to do with the Good Works PAC. They could paint schools and homeless shelters, and could also organize for disaster response.
  • There is an enormous amount of data in the world that is not yet on the Web. In addition to doing even more voter database cleansing and analysis, volunteers could work on e.g. transcribing the mountains of historical data living in paper books in federal depository libraries. (Or better, spend their time double-checking OCR scans of the books.)
  • There is a great deal of technological infrastructure that would serve the public good, especially if coupled with large data-collecting operations. Two examples (I have more, just ask!):
    • I had the fortune to get a seminar in “Government 101” from Joe Simitian ten years ago where I was amazed to discover just how many governmental or quasi-governmental bodies I was part of. Ever since, I have wanted a Web site where I could click on a map and get links to all of the legislative, educational, utility, and emergency services districts for that geographical point.
    • You have talked about “Google for Government”. I suggest that something like a “Wikipedia for Government” would also be useful — a place for analysis of bills, legislative history of those bills, reports on how the voting went, legislators voting records, information about campaign contributions, and some data mining to show correlations between campaign contributions and voting records. This would need some software infrastructure to run well.

There would be many parties that could benefit:

  • You. I presume that you will be running in 2012, hopefully as an incumbent, but possibly as a challenger. You would benefit from having a well-developed organization in place before the election. The volunteers also potentially could provide you with feedback “from the ground”, in case you get concerned that you’re living in an echo chamber. You could potentially do polls of the volunteers quickly and easily.
  • Whoever brands the Web sites that the volunteers develop. Every time a random person goes to one of the sites, they could see the logo of the volunteer organization. (I think it would be better for America if it were branded something like “Liberals for America” instead of “Obama for America”. Partially I think it would help the long-term viability of the organization, but partly I worry about the appearance of demagoguery.)
  • The beneficiaries of the good works and disaster responses.
  • Us, the consumers of information that the volunteers create.
  • Us, the volunteers. This can give us purpose and community. This is not a small thing, but this is not the place to make that argument.
  • Potentially the rest of the world. Especially if the “Wikipedia for Government” system is effective, it could be adopted by people in other countries to shine a light on their systems.

To keep the volunteer organization going, I think you need three things;

  • Some money. I’m not sure how much you need, but you need a small number of people to nurture the organization. This might be as small as one, but more likely it’s on the order of ten paid staff. That might be all you need; you might be able to run the rest on love.
  • Some direction and leadership. Someone needs to give the organization some direction so the organization doesn’t succumb to centrifugal forces. It’s probably okay — perhaps even desirable — to have ten different projects, but not ten thousand.
  • Cheering. There are lots of things that people can do individually, but getting some recognition for it — no matter how small — is a powerful motivator. You can move a lot of the cheering downstream if you are careful, but you need to be careful about it.
    • You could build positive reinforcement into the tools: when someone gets done with a data entry session, have it say something like, “Thanks for your hard work! You did X amount of work today, which brings us to Y% done! It’s volunteers like you who are making this good thing happen!” (It’s cheesy, but works.)
    • I suggest that, whenever possible, the online tools have a chat session built-in, so that people could see who else from their neighborhood was working on it, and so they could ask questions of the community and provide assistance.

You have a chance to change the face of politics forever by keeping around a volunteer organization. Please don’t skip the opportunity.


I'm against UBC joining the NCAA

Posted in Canadian life, Married life, University life at 3:31 pm by ducky

UBC is considering joining the NCAA’s Division II.

As someone who has attended as many US universities as Sarah Palin, let me say that I feel that joining the NCAA Division II would be dangerous. I can’t say that it would be unequivocally a bad idea, but it is likely to be a bad idea. (If it were Division I, I would have no reservations in saying that it would be a bad idea.)

At Division I universities, “revenue sports” — i.e. ones that people hope can bring in more money directly or indirectly (football, basketball, and sometimes baseball) — corrupt in many obvious and non-obvious ways. It might be that Division II doesn’t have revenue sports, so maybe it wouldn’t have the same problems that revenue sports bring.

While revenue sports do not always result in all of these things, these things tend to happen:

  • Weakening of admissions standards. While academic standards for athletes have gotten slightly stricter, they are still pretty weak. While there are many athletes who are fine scholars, there are also numerous cases where admissions and grading standards have been bent into pretzels to accommodate star athletes in revenue sports.
    • I saw this hurt minority students, especially those of African descent. People I respected admitted that when they saw a black face on campus, they assumed that it was an athlete, and hence less academically qualified. (Note that these were not people who harboured animosity towards blacks. They were upset at their own reaction.)
  • Bad behaviour excused. Universities tend to have their own police department. (UBC has sort of a hybrid.) Those departments get pressured to not press charges against star athletes. There is a history of really frightful behaviour on the part of athletes in revenue sports being overlooked.
  • Abuse of the athletes. Star athletes in revenue sports get surrounded by sycophants and encouraged to engage in extremely hazardous behaviours either explicitly or implicitly — playing while hurt, taking performance-enhancing drugs, etc. Almost none of them will get pro careers. The fraction is so close to zero that it is stupid… and they get completely ignored the minute their college career is over. (Go see Hoop Dreams to understand the mechanism.)
  • Overbuilding. Bear with me. When a revenue sport does really well, alumni donations go up. In particular, really rich alumni start to give big hunks of money to construct buildings. (I grew up in the hometown of the University of Illinois. For about fifteen years, the team was crummy, and there were essentially no buildings built on campus. In my fourth year, the football team did extremely well. In the next ten years, the building square footage doubled.) Nobody ever gives huge chunks of money to the maintenance fund, so what happens is that the maintenance and salary gets stretched. Tuition tends to go up as well.
  • Tribalism. Revenue sports can create a highly competitive “us-against-them” mentality that is bad news for anyone who ends up on the “them” side. This is very un-Canadian.
    • Ten years after I graduated, I was put on a work project with a University of Michigan alum (the University of Illinios’ main athletic rival at the time). Much to my surprise and dismay, I had a very strong, visceral, irrational dislike of him because he was from Michigan. (I got over it; he was totally wonderful to work with.)
    • Murray Sperber, a Canadian-born professor at the University of Indiana, received death threats because he dared to voice the opinion that the basketball coach’s was so bad that he should be fired.
    • My fourth year at the University of Illinois, the backup quarterback threw three interceptions in an important game. A friend who lived near him said that for weeks, cars would drive slowly past his house. This seems threatening and uncalled for to me.
  • Expensive tickets. If a team is consistently successful, the tickets become desirable, so the price goes up. Students cannot compete with alumni: they just don’t have as much money. The university might set aside a block of cheap tickets for the students, but at least at the University of Illinois, they were crummy seats.

One argument people make in favor of joining Division II is that it might help keep the top Canadian athletes from going to the US. I say let them go. The percentage of athletes at a university is very small; the number of “top athletes” will be even smaller. I do not thinkk it is appropriate to change the culture of a university on the hopes of attracting five people per year? Five people who are good at something other than the university’s core mission? I would much rather that UBC work on attracting the top scholars instead of the top athletes.

I believe that revenue sports are a dangerous, corrupting, un-Canadian institution.


Hire me!

Posted in Canadian life, Eclipse, Hacking, programmer productivity at 3:28 pm by ducky

I am looking for a job. If you know anybody in the Vancouver area who is looking for a really good hire, point them at this blog posting or send them to my resume.

Ideally, I’d like a intermediate (possibly junior, let’s talk) Java software development position, preferably where I could become an expert in Java-based web applications. (Java because I think it has the best long-term prospects. My second choice would be a Ruby position, as it looks like Ruby has long-term staying power as well.) I believe that I would advance quickly, as I have very broad experience with many languages and environments.

Development is only partially about coding, and I am very, very strong in the secondary skills. While studying programmer productivity for my MSCS. I uncovered a few unknown or poorly known, broadlly applicable, teachable skills that will improve programmer productivity. Hire me, and not only will you get a good coder, I make the coders around me better.

I am particularly good at seeing how to solve users’ problems, sometimes problems that they themselves do not see. I am good both at interaction design, at seeing the possibilities in a new technology, and seeing how to combine the two. I have won a few awards for web sites I developed.

I also have really good communication skills. I’ve written books, I blog, and I’ve written a number of articles. I even have significant on-camera television experience.

If you want a really low-stress way of checking me out, invite me to give a talk on programmer productivity. (I like giving the talk, and am happy to give it to basically any group of developers, basically any time, any where in the BC Lower Mainland. Outside of the Lower Mainland, you have to pay me for the travel time.)

Do you know of any developer opportunities that I should check out? Let me know at ducky at webfoot dot com.


Vancouver's ambition

Posted in Canadian life, Random thoughts at 10:15 pm by ducky

Paul Graham wrote an interesting essay called Cities and Ambition, in which he put forth the idea that different places had different messages about what was important. He said that in the following places, the following goal was most valued by the community that lived there:

  • New York: being rich
  • Silicon Valley: being powerful (which I would rephrase as “changing the world for the better via technology”)
  • Boston (Cambridge): being smart
  • LA: being famous
  • DC: being connected
  • Berkeley/SF: living better (which I would rephrase as “becoming a better person”)
  • Paris: appreciating art better
  • London: being high-class (aristocratic)

There’s no way you can prove or disprove something as fuzzy and general as this, but it feels correct to me. I remember how right it felt to move back to Silicon Valley from LA. In LA, I was on the sidelines, what I cared about was just not at all what LA was interested in. In Silicon Valley, everything aligned with what I cared about.

I naturally thought about my current home, Vancouver. What does Vancouver say? My immediate thought was that Vancouver tells you that you should have work/life balance.

My friend Michelle Chua has a slightly different take. She thinks that Vancouver tells you that you should have fun.

Michelle pointed out that there were ten game companies within a two-block radius of my house. She thinks that the game and film industry do well here because they are all about having fun, and fun is legitimate here. Interesting.



Posted in Politics at 12:30 pm by ducky

After the Troopergate came out, Sarah Palin says she feels vindicated to be cleared of wrongdoing?  Excuse me?  The report said clearly that she violated Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, which states,

“… each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”

Palin is living in some strange alternate reality universe, where interacting lightly with one person who had been violent 30 years earlier is bad but marrying a separatist is okay, where reports that say she violated the law say that she didn’t, where being governor of a small state gives you foreign policy experience…. WTF?

I have picked on Palin a lot on my blog because I feel like she is one of the major issues of the campaign.  Picking Palin was a terribly irresponsible thing for McCain to do. If McCain were 30 and in great health, it wouldn’t bother me so much, but the dude is old and has had cancer four times.  I don’t want to have someone suddenly be president who is so

  • inexperienced at national and foreign policy issues
  • incurious
  • willing to bend the ethical rules when it suits her
  • basically lie about her opponent to trigger extreme emotional reactions in her followers
  • unwilling to face reporters.

I think the press has been incredibly kind to her under the circumstances.


Who is palling around with un-Americans?

Posted in Politics at 10:08 am by ducky

So.  Sarah Palin is accusing Obama of (basically) being un-American because he “palled around” with “a terrorist”.

Um.  She’s referring to William Ayers, who was part of a violent activist group which targeted buildings and not people.  That’s not really what I call terrorism, but okay, fine.  It was also a long time ago — in the 1970s — and Obama isn’t exactly pals.  They worked together very briefly.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin married someone who belonged to the Alaskan Independence Party — a separatist group — as recently as 2002.   Um, isn’t seceeding from the US kind of sort of a little bit anti-American?  And isn’t marrying someone rather a bit more intimate than working on a foundation board together??

VP debates

Posted in Politics at 8:46 am by ducky

I have been a little surprised, after the body-language analysis of the McCain-Obama debate, that nobody has mentioned the camera work on the VP debates.

Both cameras kept the top of the candidate’s head and the top of the lectern at about the same position.  Because Palin is so much shorter than Biden, the camera was zoomed in quite a bit more on her than on Biden.  This meant that she looked closer — and warmer.  Biden looked farther away — and emotionally more distant.  This reinforced her warm body/facial language.

I will watch for this in the next presidential debate as well.  McCain is much shorter than Obama, so perhaps that also will make Obama look “distant”.