Friday, October 03, 2008

Rambling in Many Directions

You should have known a long post was coming after a few days of being short and sweet because I was too tired to sit up and type. Writing has become a habit and that part of my brain didn't like the fact that my fingers were too tired to press the stupid keys to enable its daily workout.

I was going to save this link for the end, but most of you probably won't make it that far. My buddy Hank sent me a link to a very interesting compilation of facts, figures, and resources for the 2008 presidential election. It's worth checking out if you take your decision in the matter seriously.

It looks like we're not canceling our Savannah weekend. I woke up this morning with only a 99 degree temperature and unlike yesterday it hasn't bothered rising with the sun. I'm still not in perfect shape, of course. I still get out of breath a little walking to the bathroom and when I talk, I punctuate my sentences with occasional wheezing gasps. My back is sore from the coughing and my head hurts every time I cough, but that's not complaining. I'm in a good mood today. I couldn't make it through a day of teaching (and the doctor told me to stay home anyway), but the fact that the fever is on it's way out is enough to make me feel immeasurably better.

It's always bugged me with the way our body deals with illness. It's rarely actually the direct result of the invading microbe that kills a person or even causes most of their suffering while sick. Instead, it's usually the result of one's own body's reaction to the invader. The swelling and fluid in my lungs and the fever that was closing in on the amount of heat needed to reduce my mental faculties aren't directly created by the bacteria in my system. Instead it's my body's attempt to defend itself against those little nasties. If for some reason my defenses ramped up too much, my body would basically kill me in the process of trying to save me.

Of course in cases like these, I have to be content with it. While far from a perfect system, the things my body is trying to protect me from are dangerous. If left unchecked they would eventually do enough damage to kill me on their own. Too bad for them that I cheated and flooded my system with bacteriocide to poison their microscopic asses. And yes, bacteriocide is a made up word. It sounds more sinister than antibiotic.

Allergies, on the other hand, should be exhibit A in any argument against intelligent design. Pollen, pet dander, and most other common allergens aren't actively seeking the destruction of our bodies. In most people these things are expelled without really getting the immune system involved. And seriously, peanuts? How does one's body confuse one of the world's greatest food sources with an invading single-celled army? There's no real explanation for this except that in our much more sterile world that our immune systems just get bored and like undersupervised teenagers, they form a gang and start shooting up the neighborhood for kicks.

And speaking of microbes, did anyone else watch the VP debate last night? VP debates are usually pretty pointless given that the guy who ends up in the office is pretty powerless. Sure he gets a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, but he's going to vote the way the president wants him to. The only problem now is that with McCain's age and Cheney's redefining of the office over the past eight years, the VP pick actually matters for once. Honestly, they both did a good enough job last night. Biden sounded confident and informed without being cocky or condescending (something they were apparently worried about with him), and while she started out with a bit of a quiver in her voice and she was occasionally slow to collect her thoughts when her turn came, Palin sounded fairly convincing by the middle of the debate, and at least she was honest about her intentions to pretty much ignore the questions that were asked and give her prepared speeches in her allotted time. It kept her from looking like she is clueless like she did on her few press interviews (there's a reason they won't let her talk to the press anymore). By answering the questions with answers to other questions, she was able to come across as informed and confident to the less critical viewers, which is probably most of them. There's wasn't a journalist there to pin her down when she went off track and point it out when she wasn't answering the question. But like I said, at least she pointed it out clearly and didn't pretend that she was answering the questions.

It did bug me a little the way she referred to his wife's experience in education with a fairly flippant tone. The quote in question was "And God bless her, her reward is in heaven, right?" Honestly with the tone she used there, that sounded a lot like the condescending "Bless his heart" that old women in the South use to say mean things about lovable idiots, but what really struck me was that I initially thought this was a reference to his first wife who died with his daughter in the accident that seriously injured his two sons back in the seventies. Her flippant demeanor shocked me and my impression was reinforced when he seemed to sincerely choke up when referring to his late wife later in the debate. Turns out that Palin probably was referring to Biden's current wife, but the wording sure sounds like she's talking about someone who's already passed on.

And I'm led to believe that Biden's attempt to hold back the tears at one point in the debate was sincere. I've seen him get choked up before when talking about his wife and daughter and, while doing so during the debate could possibly have highlighted the negative interpretation of Palin's comment, not enough people seem to know the back story well enough to make it an effective ploy. Also, I know that if something similar happened to K and E, I wouldn't have been able to choke back the tears even after 30 years. I can still get choked up talking about my grandfather who died 10 years ago if I'm in a solemn enough mood. I don't even want to think about what losing my wife and child would be like.

But moving on to a less morbid note, is anyone already tired of the catchphrases besides me? Palin seems to be a real big fan of "maverick" and will tout McCain and herself as such at any irrelevant time she can. Of course I'm getting a little sick of Obama's "change" as well, although it's easier to work into a speech without sticking out like a sore thumb as a stock phrase than "maverick" is. Let's just say that some of the e-mails the campaign sends out aren't as carefully crafted, however. Plus, they're both nearly meaningless slogans. Jeffrey Dahmer was also a maverick. He wasn't necessarily presidential material. Plus, it's not even that true. McCain does score better on a lot of liberal measures than most Republican presidential candidates, but he only bucks the party line a little more often than Obama when it comes to his voting record. They both have an agreement rate of over 90 percent with their party voting stances. Obama's is about 3 or 4 points higher, but then he also came into the Senate just as the Democrats were finally finding their balls to stand up to a president that really needed to be stood up to, so I'd actually think his voting trend there would be more supportable than McCain's, especially now that a significant number of Republicans are even voting against the President's wishes on a regular basis. And as for change, the installment of a government modeled after the Third Reich would be change, as would lowering taxes by bringing extra revenue by renting out federal buildings for frat parties. Of course Obama and Biden have done a relatively decent job of backing up that mantra with examples of what they'd do in the debates, but it's still painfully vapid as a stand alone sound bite.


Mickey said...

Your description of our bodies' attempts to defend themselves makes me think of chemotherapy. It's basically the same thing. The effect is killing both the disease and its host; it's just a question of which one holds on longer.

And you remind me of another reason not to be a teacher: all the damn germs those kids are carrying around.

And couldn't McCain characterizing himself as a maverick be interpreted as saying he's more like Obama? If McC is a republican and he bucks the party line, doesn't that mean he's voting with the opposition?

Julie said...

I'm glad you're feeling better. Sickness sucks.

I didn't watch all of the debate. Perhaps I'll act like a college kid again next presidential debate and do one of those drinking games. It could be funner that way.