I just stumbled on the website for TED, a conference series that has cool people talking about stuff. Watched the video of Malcolm Gladwell's presentation from 2004 about consumer demand, and JJ Abrams's presentation from 2007 about magic and mystery. Both are really, really worth watching. And they will probably suck you in to start clicking on all sorts of others. It almost feels educational, which is why it's so hard to stop watching.
Also, writer video-commentaries on each of this season's episodes of Psych on USA. I like Psych a lot.
There's still some airings on today, so I wanted to post this quickly -- watch last night's Colbert Report episode, because it was terrific. He interviewed Andrew Young, a civil rights leader who negotiated a settlement for a hospital workers strike in the '60s, and sang a gospel tribute to his striking writers. I'm not doing the show justice with that description. Just a really good half hour of television.
Economist Tyler Cowen, who has a blog I haven't read nearly enough but just added to my Google Reader, has written the best of the post-Freakonomics pop-economics books. I still have 50 pages to go, but I felt inspired to post about it, because it's terrific.
Much too civil. The candidates were all pleasant to each other, well prepared, and have basically no differences between them on any of the issues. The only funny line didn't even get noticed by anyone, and no one's reporting on it. Obama on guns: "We essentially have two realities, when it comes to guns, in this
country. You've got the tradition of lawful gun ownership, that all of
us saw, as we travel around rural parts of the country. And it is very important for many Americans to be able to hunt, fish, take their kids out, teach them how to shoot. And then you've got the reality of 34 Chicago public school students who get shot down on the streets of Chicago."
Those must be some big fish!
In all seriousness, none of the candidates seemed to make any mistakes or say anything noteworthy. I much prefer debates where people attack each other. Also, negative ads are so much better than these pledges people make to run a positive campaign. I like negative ads.
"I just saw Hillary Clinton on the television, she had tears and she was getting very emotional, how much this means to her, how much has to be done in the world. I think she's getting desperate and now she's putting on an act. She never acted like that. And to be honest, I'm not ready for a woman president. And even if I was, it wouldn't be her. I never liked her. I think she's one of the biggest phonies. I feel things about people. And I never liked or trusted her."
"But she's smart."
"Oh, sure she's smart. Oh, there's no doubt she's smart. But this is a whole other image. She's a tough cookie, I'm telling you. And for one moment, she had
her hand up against her chin, and her voice shook for just a second... I think it was all staged. I didn't believe it one bit. She thinks that'll bring her what she's
looking for, some sympathy, get people to see another side of her. Like she's suddenly got a heart. I'm surprised they never show her with her husband though. I mean, a lot of people don't trust him, but you never see him. You hear that he's campaigning, but they're never together. That makes me wonder.
"But you know who I do like? Obama. He's coming across very well. He's a very good speaker. And Edwards. I can't see him as President, but he's very handsome. I kind
of like him. He has a nice way about him, a nice smile. He's very
personable. But I really don't see how he can have the will to take on the
Presidency when his wife is ill. You'd think he'd be desperate, at home, unable to focus on a Presidential campaign, just the things he has to do in the campaign. And to
have that on his head. But maybe he needs to drown himself in the work not
to think about it. He does have a nice smile. He looks like someone you'd
trust. I can see how he was a good lawyer, how he'd influence a jury,
he just looks like such a nice guy, someone you'd trust. And how old is he?"
"Really? I'd have
thought 44. Or even younger. He's just so handsome. Frankly, I think any of them on the Democratic side seem better than the Republicans. The Republicans, none of them seem as Presidential."
"Huckabee is too religious. I don't feel much for him. He doesn't look like someone I trust. I don't think he'd ever be elected."
"Bush is religious."
"I know he says he's religious, but I don't think people generally want someone who's so religious. Bush, I think, I never really believed he was truly religious, I think it was mostly a way for him to cure his drinking. He needed some sort of way to stop his alcoholism, so he turned to religion, but I never really took it seriously. But Huckabee, it's a little scary when someone talks so much about their religion. And I think he lost all that weight just to run for President. You know, you never really see a fat person getting elected to anything."
"Bill Clinton was husky but he wasn't fat. I don't think you'd call him fat. So I think that Huckabee went on a diet to run for President. Who was the last President you'd call fat?"
"Who? Spell it."
"Oh, William Taft. Of course. I remember him. He was chubby."
"He was more than chubby."
"But that was before television. See, there's a reason. Appearance nowadays makes a big difference. They're always on television. It
shouldn't make so much of a difference, but it does. That's why when you look at Obama talking, he
sprightly, he's thin, he has a good image. He presents himself really well, talks well. And, you know, I think maybe people are ready for a President who's black. Or, I think a lot of people want to believe they are, and he certainly seems like the kind of person I'd trust as President."
"What about John McCain?"
"He looks too old lately. And he's only 71. That's not that old. But, I don't know. The way he looks and walks. All of a sudden, he looks too old. He never used to. But he looks frail. Do you feel that? He comes across as being an old man. And so when you imagine him up against any of the others. Up against Obama, or Edwards, or Hillary Clinton, he looks like he's a different generation."
"You don't hear as much about him lately. He kinda slipped. But, you know, he, and the other one, what's his name, Romney? Like I was saying, I don't think Romney will win, he's too religious. For all the Republicans, I just don't think I can see any of them as President the same way I can see the Democratic candidates. They just haven't, to me, been coming across as well. And, you know, your grandfather was a big Republican, but I was more in the middle, I'm open to any of them, but of this bunch of contestants. (laughs) I mean candidates. I just don't see any of them putting up much competition.
"And it's been going on so long! How many times can they repeat themselves? How many new ways can they say the same things? There have been so many debates! And it's still such a long time until the election, I suppose anything can change. Even just in a day, with Hillary Clinton crying like that, any of them, it can all change."
I'm remiss in not posting this sooner, but I wanted to encourage whoever's reading to check out the new ABC show Cashmere Mafia (premiered tonight at 10 -- so, in an hour on the West Coast, but two hours ago on the East Coast), but they're re-airing the pilot Tuesday at 10, and the next new episode is Wednesday at 10 (with a second airing Friday at 9). The regular timeslot will be Wednesday at 10. The reason for my encouragement -- one of the executive producers is my co-writer on the Anonymous Lawyer pilot, and he's an incredibly talented writer (and, just as important, an incredibly decent and kind person). I saw the initial pilot and liked it -- I believe it's been re-tooled a bunch since, with a lot of it reshot. So I'm excited to see it, and look forward to the second episode on Wednesday. And, really, any new TV shows at this point make me pretty excited, since there hasn't been much. In any case, Cashmere Mafia is about four high-powered women, friends since business school, coping with balancing work and personal lives. Sex and the city-esque, for sure -- Darren Star is one of the other executive producers -- but should be worth watching.
The other new show I'm really excited about is also an ABC show, Eli Stone, premiering at the end of January. Loved the script, loved the pilot. It's a Greg Berlanti show -- he did Everwood, Jack and Bobby, and Brothers and Sisters -- and there's something about pretty much everything he does that resonates with me. Eli Stone's about a corporate lawyer who starts to see visions and transforms his practice into something more meaningful. Should resonate for most people in law school or at firms.
Apparently she's on the cover of this week's Parade magazine supplement. Except they went to press before she was assassinated and the magazine makes no reference to it. Oops. Read more here. It's pretty insane. Like, someone should be fired insane. Really.
I almost wrote a post after watching the Democratic debate last night. And again after watching the Republican debate tonight. But I realized I have nothing to add to the discussion. I am moved by none of the candidates, and yet can see almost all of them having a viable chance to win and not being complete disasters. After watching the debates, if I was playing Primary God, I would think we should end up with a McCain / Obama contest. But it's not like I think Romney / Clinton would really be a substantively different pair of choices. I guess what struck me watching each debate is that it seems like as far as policy positions most of the Republicans basically agree with each other (with the notable exception being Huckabee's flat tax, I guess), and most of the Democrats basically agree with each other. Obviously there are nuances, but it definitely seems like they agree more than they disagree and it's all coming down to personality and the intangible factors.
"If that's imagination -- if I were a producer I would have turned that down so fast. He died, but it's like he's still alive, they're acting like he's still with them. It's idiotic. The Great Debaters, that was very good. This one, I didn't like at all. People were walking out. It's so imaginary, it's ridiculous."
"It's gotten terrible reviews."
"I'll bet! If I'd known that beforehand, we wouldn't have gone. I don't know who'd be idiotic enough to make a picture like that. I saw people walking out of the theater, and I didn't blame them. Imagination is good -- but only to some extent! But when you take it to this extent -- he left notes before he died, he's supposed to be with her and everyone is pretending like he's still alive, it's just so stupid and so detached from the reality of anyone's life. It was just idiotic! The Great Debaters -- at least that made sense! It's the best picture of the past half-year or so. This one, I wouldn't even bother. Whoever wrote it has imagination -- but too much."
I'm experimenting with Google Reader this morning, after realizing I am way behind the web-reading times, and should really have a more efficient system than "go to sites when I think of them, and see if they've updated." On the plus side, my system avoids me reading things I'm not interested in, since if I don't think about a site, I don't go there (I don't even have bookmarks). On the negative side, I often go to sites that haven't been updated. So I went through my browser history for the past week, and anything I've been to that I like reading I added to the Google reader (except for the two things that somehow don't have a feed). I was surprised that you can add things like "Slate," although I assume what will happen is too many articles will show up and I'll just find it easier to go to the site anyway, and delete it from Google Reader. In any case, I'll let you know if I stick with Google Reader or if I decide my old system is better.