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Voters Undecided About Biden? - By the Numbers Blog - NYTimes.com →

The comments on this blog post arrive at the crux of this argument: is Biden unknown because he is unremarkable, or because our knowledge of the members of the representative branch is so narrow (or at least localized)?

Quick - how many senators can you name? Forget their parties or even their home states, just try to name 51. Can you do it?

Isn’t that so true? I know that many times, in my life, while living it, someone would come up and, because of I had good readiness, in terms of how I was wired, when they asked that—whatever they asked—I would just not blink, because, knowing that, if I did blink, or even wink, that is weakness, therefore you can’t, you just don’t. You could, but no—you aren’t.
DFW: The reason why doing political writing is so hard right now is probably also the reason why more young (am I included in the range of this predicate anymore?) fiction writers ought to be doing it. As of 2003, the rhetoric of the enterprise is fucked. 95 percent of political commentary, whether spoken or written, is now polluted by the very politics it’s supposed to be about. Meaning it’s become totally ideological and reductive: The writer/speaker has certain political convictions or affiliations, and proceeds to filter all reality and spin all assertion according to those convictions and loyalties. Everybody’s pissed off and exasperated and impervious to argument from any other side. Opposing viewpoints are not just incorrect but contemptible, corrupt, evil. Conservative thinkers are balder about this kind of attitude: Limbaugh, Hannity, that horrific O’Reilly person. Coulter, Kristol, etc. But the Left’s been infected, too. Have you read this new Al Franken book? Parts of it are funny, but it’s totally venomous (like, what possible response can rightist pundits have to Franken’s broadsides but further rage and return-venom?). Or see also e.g. Lapham’s latest Harper’s columns, or most of the stuff in the Nation, or even Rolling Stone. It’s all become like Zinn and Chomsky but without the immense bodies of hard data these older guys use to back up their screeds. There’s no more complex, messy, community-wide argument (or “dialogue”); political discourse is now a formulaic matter of preaching to one’s own choir and demonizing the opposition. Everything’s relentlessly black-and-whitened. Since the truth is way, way more gray and complicated than any one ideology can capture, the whole thing seems to me not just stupid but stupefying. Watching O’Reilly v. Franken is watching bloodsport. How can any of this possibly help me, the average citizen, deliberate about whom to choose to decide my country’s macroeconomic policy, or how even to conceive for myself what that policy’s outlines should be, or how to minimize the chances of North Korea nuking the DMZ and pulling us into a ghastly foreign war, or how to balance domestic security concerns with civil liberties? Questions like these are all massively complicated, and much of the complication is not sexy, and well over 90 percent of political commentary now simply abets the uncomplicatedly sexy delusion that one side is Right and Just and the other Wrong and Dangerous. Which is of course a pleasant delusion, in a way—as is the belief that every last person you’re in conflict with is an asshole—but it’s childish, and totally unconducive to hard thought, give and take, compromise, or the ability of grown-ups to function as any kind of community.

Here's to judging a book by its cover →

This is the #1 Amazon.com search result for “Patriots”

I heart the internet: edition 23,408,001 →

You know how people always say that confidence is the sexiest attribute a person can have? Q.E.D., my friends.

The Associated Press: Poll: Obama tops McCain as football-watching buddy →

Tough call. I’m not surprised it’s so close.

McCain would be a pretty enjoyable guy to watch a game with. I’m sure he’s got some good stories and he’s probably more likely to call bullshit when Kornheiser or Phil Simms goes off the rails. Or ask, “Why do they insist on calling it 'The National Football League' when they’re trying to emphasize a point?” And he’s a drinker.

Of course, Obama is the next president of the United States. That’s pretty cool, too.

Hauntingly beautiful photos of North Korea in the Globe’s Big Picture feature. To say that these look foreign doesn’t begin to describe it. Modern life in Pyongyang must be like living in a dream. I’ve posted the oldest photo from the series here - it’s from April of this year but could just as easily be dated 1948.
Recent scenes from North Korea - The Big Picture - Boston.com

Hauntingly beautiful photos of North Korea in the Globe’s Big Picture feature. To say that these look foreign doesn’t begin to describe it. Modern life in Pyongyang must be like living in a dream. I’ve posted the oldest photo from the series here - it’s from April of this year but could just as easily be dated 1948.

Recent scenes from North Korea - The Big Picture - Boston.com