Thursday, March 27, 2008

Link recycled from 3quarksdaily...

I've changed my mind, at least a bit, about merits of the prominence of race and gender in the Democratic primary. First, Obama's speech on race provided a fantastic treatment of that issue, as well as Americans' treatment of identity politics in general, and everyone should watch it. I think it's still one of the most popular videos on Youtube. Now, we have a honest and informative discussion about gender! It didn't come from either campaign, but it's worth a look.

Friday, March 21, 2008

New Knittings

I'm knitting Jaden, from the latest issue of knitty. I've had to restart it three times- once it was too big, once it was too small, and once I realized I had been doing the lace pattern wrong. This time I think I'm on the right track.

In other news, Franklin's vet says he isn't entirely beagle! He is almost certainly a beagle/basset hybrid, known as a bagle hound.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Local Currency

Today I learned that some places, in the United States and elsewhere, use local currency to foster local economic development. One such system has been used quite successfully in the Berkshires. of Western Massachusetts.

The idea is that people buy local currency from a special bank and use it at participating local businesses. It gives these businesses a way to compete with national chains and keeps capital local.

Obviously this wouldn't work where I currently live, Montgomery County Maryland, because it's far too urban. Keeping money around to foster economic development couldn't be less of a problem. People would see no reason to use the local currency.

However, such a scheme could be interesting on Cape Cod, where I grew up. We don't have a problem getting an influx of capital, due to a booming tourist trade. The problem is that nearly all of the economic activity is centered on tourists, leaving locals feeling like there's nothing left for us. With a local currency, certain local businesses could specialize in serving local people and keep tourists away. Most local businesses thrive on tourist dollars, but certain coffee shops and bars would like to keep their local flavor.

Would it work? Probably.

Am I being unfair to tourists by favoring their exclusion? Definitely.

Would most locals welcome my proposal? Given that we take pleasure in making tourists think that there is a tunnel under the Cape Cod Canal and a bridge to Martha's Vineyard, I'd say undoubtedly.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Big Media and the Election

Generally, it really grinds my gears that media outlets like CNN, Fox News, and even newspapers of record like the Washington Post have brought political dialog down to the level of the sound bite. Specifically, when reading the Washington Post this morning two things caught my eye:

1. The focus on race and gender.
It almost seems like a no-brainer in the democratic primary. These candidates are making history and that is not to be discounted. However, I think (I hope) that most voters do not choose which candidate to support based on whose demographics more closely match their own. One reason that Clinton and Obama are so successful is that she transcends gender and he transcends race in the constituencies that they gain support from and the issues that they address. I think that the most profound difference between the candidates is leadership style. After the damage that has been done by the Bush administration in nearly every facet of foreign and domestic policy, we need a president with the leadership skills necessary to make good decisions, gather political support, and make America great again. Despite all of the blathering about race and gender from the media, Democrats have different ideas about whose leadership would be best to move our country forward and that how we choose whom to support.

2. The notion that this race will divide the democratic primary.
Policy-wise, Clinton and Obama are not that different. I think that the fact that this democratic primary is more hotly contested, and stirs more passion in democrats, than those in recent years is because of opposition to the Bush administration. Democrats are showing such strong support for the candidate of their choice because we realize that this election is important. We have to elect a democratic candidate that will win the general election and rebuild America. Besides, in order for a party to be divided, it needs a dividing element. There must be an issue dimension. A dividing issue may emerge in the future, but right now the best way to characterize the democratic party is united against everything the Bush administration has done.
The Republicans, on the other hand, are divided. Conservatives are splitting from the more moderate wing of the party. John McCain energizes most of the party, but some of the big pundits from its conservative wing have stated that they would vote for Hillary Clinton over him. The fact that he remains the only viable republican candidate while the democrats are still in a heated battle is a symptom of the parties' primary electoral systems, not division.

Is Big Media being lazy, or is it incapable of fostering a dialog with more complex ideas?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Another sock.

There hasn't been much excitement lately in knitting land. I've mostly been preoccupied with other things, like schoolwork and the dog. Tomorrow I'm planning to go to A Tangled Skein in Hyattsville to get some yarn to make a scarf for Ben and mittens/gloves for me. Right now, I'm working on yet another sock, this time for Ben. It's nothing fancy, just your basic ankle-down sock pattern in self striping yarn.