Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Archive for July 18th, 2007

Shake, rattle, Osama?

Posted by metaphorical on 18 July 2007

The fire in Manhattan today (CNN.com story here) was a little disconcerting to those of still in the office, a mere seven blocks away.

Though it turned out to be a steam explosion leading to a transformer fire (with at least three people injuredUpdate: One death), our thoughts immediately turned to past disasters, especially given the obvious proximity to Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building, two obvious potential targets.

A little after 6:00pm EDT, I heard a rumbling, which I took to be thunder, since it had rained in the morning, heavily enough for several trains between Queens and Manhattan to be out of service from flooding. The rumbling continued, though, and eventually I looked out my window to see smoke billowing from what looked to be Grand Central. A minute later, the sounds of firetrucks and then police cars could be heard, and they I can still hear them every few minutes as I write this, about 8:00pm.

The view from my office was excellent:


and that from my editor’s office even better. Our photo editor took a shot from there and sent it to CNN before heading home to Brooklyn, as best she can. By 7:20 or so, it was up on cnn.com as the third of three pictures of the event.


Commuting is going to be quite a nightmare tonight and, surely, tomorrow. My own train lines uptown have been re-routed, so I’ll end up on a bus, in a taxi, or just walking (60 blocks). It’s the people in Queens who have the big problems though. The 7 train runs through Grand Central and has been re-routed as well, so Queens people have very few options, given the flooding problems of the day. My mother drives in most days and at 6:10 was stuck in terrible traffic near the 59th Street Bridge. I’m sure the local news will have shots tonight of people walking across the bridge.

It looked bad for a while, but it turned out to be just another day in the Big Apple.

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Elizabeth III – American style

Posted by metaphorical on 18 July 2007

Does it seem as if Elizabeth Edwards is campaigning harder than some of the candidates?

First there was her call into the Chris Matthews interview with Ann Coulter (YouTube, here), then there was yesterday’s Salon.com interview in which she goes after Hillary, calling her “”not as vocal a women’s advocate as I want to see.” It got reported in many other outlets, including the NY Times.

Finally, she has a new 30-second ad that will be running in New Hampshire.

The Salon interview is pretty interesting in its own right. The angle that’s being picked up is the attack on Hillary. Newsday’s coverage was about the same as the Times, for example, saying, under a headline “Edwards’ wife takes aim on Clinton”:

She went on to question Clinton’s commitment to defending abortion rights, making a veiled reference to the former first lady’s recent claim that abortions are tragedies.

But the interview includes a lot more, including some great details about the decision to go after Coulter to her face.

well, I knew she was doing “Hardball,” and I knew it was a call-in show. So I called the [Edwards] campaign about getting the number, and they were like, Oh, that’s a good idea. And then I mentioned the 2003 column [where Coulter mocked John Edwards’ discussion of their son Wade’s death in a car crash] and you could see them get worried, like “Oh, my God, she’s carrying around in her mind a 2003 column? Maybe we don’t want her calling …”

She says she got some direct advice not to do it.

I understand the advice — if you were advising somebody you might say that — but that exact attitude is what protects somebody like Ann Coulter. Nobody wants to jump in the mud puddle with her.

Among the interviews wide range of topics, I particularly liked this bombshell nugget:

I have blogged using other screen names before. Before the Whole Foods guy got in trouble [the Wall Street Journal revealed last week that CEO John Mackey used pseudonyms to deride competitors online] I decided that that wasn’t such a good idea.

She seems also to acknowledge that husband John is having trouble getting his message out:

But what I said was, what John said was, there is a need to get the debates more serious. You have these formats with 60-second answers, and in 60 seconds, John’s position on healthcare sounds just like Hillary’s answer, when it couldn’t be farther apart. So we need to find a way to have serious debates, that’s all John is saying. Maybe it’s two candidates at a time. Maybe it’s three hours, but nobody would go for that.

So it’s a little ironic that she would turn around and make a 30-second tv spot (YouTube here).

And to tell you the truth, the commercial itself is a little creepy. Elizabeth looks good—that is, healthy, particularly for a woman with terminal cancer—but it begins with her saying, “I’ve been blessed for the last 30 years, to be married to … ” There’s something about the particular past tense phrasing, and the music, that makes her seem to be talking with one foot in the grave.

Some have criticized her decision to support the campaign despite her illness. It would be interesting if she can actually make it work to the campaign’s benefit. But in the meantime, she’s a campaign dynamo, currently generating more attention than some of the Democratic candidates and just about all of the Republican ones. Good for her.

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