A number of us on chat were discussing this little gem (which is just a link to a link, but the description is worthwhile). Perhaps a few people were being snotty about the quality of Olive Garden (which I don't quite get, I found it to be perfectly serviceable and tastier than plenty of independent Italian restaurants), but what really struck me is that Sioux Falls could be so pre-cosmopolitan that the opening of a middle-of-the-road chain restaurant would be deemed newsworthy, and generate some excitement among the citizens. It really does read like an Onion article.

Naturally, we're all abuzz today at McCain's choice of running mate. My own sense is that this is a clumsy attempt at being shrewd: as the joke goes, "attracting all those Hillary Clinton supporters who love guns, hate abortion and want to drill in ANWR". It's richer than that, of course: she's a woman, she's more solidly conservative than McCain (though "confused about gay issues", as author Warren Ellis put it), and she's young enough to be McCain's granddaughter. On the awkward side, she has even less experience than Obama, which undercuts the Republicans' assertion that Obama is too green to lead the country; this isn't helped by the inevitable subconscious thought that McCain is statistically likely to die in office. (Life expectancy for males born in 2007 is 75 years; McCain is 72.) And I think it undercuts that assertion more than Joe Biden's selection undercuts the Obama "we need change from outside Washington" motif. Plus, if there's one thing Joe Biden can do, it's talk, and it's hard to imagine an Alaskan mayor, even a smart one, not being torn to shreds in a Biden debate. Everything the McCain campaign does just has this chaotic, flailing feel to it, and this is just the biggest one yet.

Food for thought: McCain is decades older than the State of Alaska.

One of the guys at the dojo, who tends to be cranky at the best of times, has an infection in his right cornea, causing near-blindness in that eye which may turn out to be permanent. I noticed he was angrier today than a few days ago, and asked how it was going; he grunted and motioned at his eye. "Well, as long as there's the eye...I mean, until I know if I have to just live with it." That seemed a little grim, from my inevitably Buddhist point of view, so I said "It kind of seems like you have to live with it right now, no matter what happens." Then he said, "I guess there's the alternative, but I'm not ready for that yet..."; and he was in a much lighter mood the rest of the evening.

I like that I can do that.