13 November 2007

Happy Fantasia Day!

The greatest animated movie of all time (sorry Pixar, but you've got nothing on Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, and the Philadelphia Orchestra) turned 67 today. Everyone knows it because of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, but the real reason to watch it is for the 30s-style dinosaurs plodding across the screen during The Rite of Spring. Good, if outdated, fun for the whole family.

12 November 2007

Obama '08!

Though I imagine I'm mostly preaching to the choir with this post, I just want to do my own small part to try and sell people on Barack Obama. It's very rare for me to actually get excited about a politician: as a rule, I find them disingenuous and more interested in toeing the party line or garnering campaign contributions than in actually doing the job to which they were elected. American government was devised by some of the greatest minds of the Enlightenment, and it is a triumph of rationalism. However, a rational government only works when the politicians that compose it and the people that are represented by it are also willing to be rational (I would argue that voter ignorance - both on the right and the left - is one of the main reasons the country is in its currently lamentable state, but I'll save that rant for another day; suffice it to say that every American really should read - and understand - the Constitution, as elegant a doctrine on government as has ever been written). As we will all hear in the months between now and next November, the country is at a hugely significant crossroads, and what we need more than anything else is politicians who actually understand the precepts on which this country was founded. I can honestly say that of all the current presidential candidates in both major parties, Barack Obama seems to be the only one who does. His opponents like to claim he lacks experience. The Obama camp often counters that this makes him less beholden to special interests. I think this is true, but I also think that experience is used as an excuse by people who fear the change that Obama represents away from politicians who pander to their base and hedge their bets on difficult issues. There are a number of very thorny, but also very important, issues facing the country, both foreign and domestic, and to approach these with the same dogmatic, divisive attitude that politicians have adopted for the last few decades will almost certainly lead to disaster. I would support Hilary Clinton (her husband, after all, was far and away the best president we've had in my lifetime) or John Edwards (though I am distrustful of populism, which too easily devolves into demagoguery), but the one quality I admire most in a politician is rationality, and Obama has the ability to be a truly great rationalist president in the mold of FDR or Kennedy. That's my two cents, and I hope I've convinced at least a few people out there that Barack Obama is worth taking seriously.
Incidentally, whether or not you support Obama, everyone should check out the video I've appended below of the speech he gave yesterday to Iowa democrats. It is, admittedly, largely devoid of concrete plans, but it is the most stirring political speech I've heard in a very long time.

06 November 2007

Democracy Stumbles On

Today was Election Day, and the local media are all very excited that Oregon voter turnout has reached 50%; only Oregon Public Broadcasting has had the wherewithal to point out how laughably low that is. Fortunately, those few voters that did go to the polls today made a good decision by resoundingly supporting a measure to reinstate land use rules (in all fairness, they made a bad one as well by voting down an initiative to fund children's health care by taxing cigarettes; can't win them all, I guess). Now, I realize that land use sounds like an appallingly boring topic when first mentioned, but effectively what this amounts to is the rescinding of a blank check that had been given to developers to ruin some of the most beautiful scenery on earth. I happen to appreciate beauty, and seeing it preserved is, to my mind, something worth celebrating. Score one for the greatest landscape on the face of the earth!

02 November 2007

Change of Pace

I've been awfully remiss lately in keeping the Oregon Trail updated, and I intend to change that. Since this summer, I've been mostly using it as a means of recounting stories about trips I've taken; effectively, it's been an online diary. That's all well and good, I'm sure, but it's not all that exciting just to recap what I've done, and I'm sure it's even less thrilling to read. My original purpose in creating this blog was partly to share stories about what I've been up to, it's true, but I also wanted a place where I could post whatever random thoughts came into my head. While I realize that many of you may care even less about my opinions on life than you do about my experiences in it, I enjoy blogging much more when I spend time trying to follow the careening, random line that is my train of thought, so I'm going to try to get back to more of that in the coming weeks.
In the mean time, I'm curious. Who out there (aside from my family) is reading this? Frankly, even if the answer is no one, I won't care: blogging is as much a chance for me to break the monotony of everyday life as it is to share my thoughts and experiences with the world, and there's a pretty good chance I would continue to post even if I knew I was effectively talking to myself (and yes, I realize how that could be construed as creepy). Still, it'd be nice to have some inkling of how many readers I have and who they are; after all, the #1 rule of writing is to know your audience.