Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Fear of a Dumb Nation

Is it just me, or is there a rising tide of anti-intellectualism in this nation?'s not just me. You can see this in the presidential campaigns, in which Bush presents himself as a regular guy and Kerry as a smarter-than-thou elite. There are two things wrong with that assertion. First, nobody named "Bush" is a regular guy. GWB's father was a president, and his family is rich as hell. That doesn't make anyone a regular guy in my book. Second, so what if Kerry is really smart? Isn't that what we want in a president? I don't propose that high intelligence is the only quality a good president should possess, but for Pete's sake, it's at least one of them.

I guess it's an outgrowth of the media society in which we live. News is hollowed out, re-packaged, and re-shaped to be short, simple, and easy to remember, and that in turn has shaped the way we view our political candidates. We prefer slogans to sophisticated strategy, which IMO explains by George Bush is in the Oval Office and not running the pumps at an Amoco. There's a difference between a simple approach and a simplistic approach, folks. One includes reason and forethought; the other does not.

Friday, September 17, 2004


I am long back from Beantown (or the Hub, as I understand we're supposed to call it), and I can report that it's a neat city. It's small, admittedly (population: 600,000), but it's certainly more visually attractive than Philadelphia. It's also got that old-city look and feel, which means it's walkable. Well, it would be walkable if the "walk" lights actually came on more than once every fifteen minutes. A travel guide Dan bought advised vistors to jaywalk, and it was good advice; otherwise, you get nowhere.

We had so-so Chinese food, great Thai food, and lots of yummy ice cream. Our hotel was nice, although the airconditioner was noisy and super-powered, resulting in waking up lots at night to a frigid room. The convention was fun, too, particularly because I got an eyeful of geeks who make even me feel mainstream and manly. And that's not an easy thing to do.