Work update: my project works! At least, it works as well as what we've got now, and is surely more reliable, so it's pretty much a guaranteed success. It's a bit of a trip that I proposed a project, did the implementation, and soon the company will spend a few dozen thousand dollars (small change) for licenses and hardware to put it into production. In addition to having done a cool thing, I get even more street cred at a place where they were already highly inclined to hire people based just on my recommendation.

I brought some hard cider to a friend's place to watch the debates tonight. Biden and Palin both definitely brought their A-games: Biden was disciplined and good-humored, her lines well, I guess? She talked fluently as long as she was on script, though even then a couple times she looked down at the script while she was talking. She certainly beat her abysmally low expectations, but in the final judgement I think even the middle-class voters she was connecting with will compare her debate performance to her Katie Couric interviews and understand that she's an ignoramus even by right-wing standards, and on issues fundamentalists care about. For example, during her train-wreck answer to Couric that revealed that Palin doesn't know a single Supreme Court case besides Roe v. Wade, she gave some very strange answers that appear to reveal an intellectual void around her anti-abortion stance. I'm just getting up to speed on this myself, but the decisions leading up to Roe v. Wade were the ones that established our rights to privacy, and the legal argument of anti-abortion activists seems to be that those were bad decisions, and because the Constitution doesn't explicitly name a right to privacy, we shouldn't extrapolate one.

[Never mind that Alexander Hamilton, among others, objected to the Bill of Rights because they feared people would interpret it as an exhaustive listing:

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colourable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?
In other words, a bill of rights invites the view of a constitution as granting all the rights allowed to the citizens (and no more than those stated), rather than as granting all the powers allowed to the government (and no more than those stated).]

[As an aside, in reading about this today instead of doing work, I realized how little I know about what our society used to be like: one of the key precedents for Roe v. Wade was Griswold v. Connecticut, which overturned, on privacy grounds, a Connecticut law making it illegal to give contraceptive advice or married couples. That was just 1965, 43 years ago, just 12 years before I was born. And then we just had Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, finally declaring that there's no legitimate government interest in what kinds of sex we have. I mean, wow. It took a while to turn the ship of American society, but once it got moving, look what changed.]

I had a good time watching Palin's face. I'm pretty good at reading faces, and she had a lot of moments of being angry, confused, or frightened: her eyes would go wide as her smile fell away, or a few times her mouth set and her lips pursed. Biden had a bit of the rage too, but he smiled and stayed relaxed.

Anyway. Obama's a bit naive and hand-wavey, Biden's a loudmouth, Palin's an idiot, McCain is confused, dishonest, volatile, and all the more so in having to defend the indefensible positions he creates for himself. You hear the same news I do (except for the unhealthy amounts of time I spend tracking the housing crash).

I had a nice talk with a friend of mine on Saturday, a highly liberal woman who supported Clinton and dislikes Obama so much (or thinks she does) that she says she's likely to abstain from picking a President. This is a mindset one hears about in the news, and I think Doonesbury stated it quite elegantly. I can't say as I understand it, or even respect it all that much: I understand that I'm a white male in America, and I'll allow that for women, there may be a very deep level of anguish in seeing a woman come so close to being the presidential nominee, losing through a combination of her own unforced errors, and being up against the most freakishly talented politician since JFK. But, really--and I'm not sure there's a kind or PC way to say this--stand up and get over it. It's not like four more years of Republican kleptocracy will do anything except make women's lives even harder (one noisy contingent of Clintonites was saying they'd vote for McCain over Obama, which is so idiotic and stereotypical that the generations of women who have worked to get women to be respected intellectually are either rolling in their graves or bashing their heads against their desks, as appropriate). So I don't quite get that one, and no one's been able to explain it to me. Hopefully they don't live in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Minnesota.

McCain is pulling out of, every day, I absorb a lot of information, because it's fun, and while I can sing and do some other things well, my primary gift is to learn stuff. What happens when I absorb a lot of news information, from a few dozen different sources, is that I do a sort of semi-conscious triangulation of everything I get, and from a lot of half-assed reporting, get a clear sense of what's going on. So in 2003, it was clear to me that Iraq wasn't a threat to us, and in 2005-2006 that the housing market was eventually going to crash, and early this year, that Clinton was going to lose the Democratic nomination. It's not rocket science, just keep reading and don't be attached to what you want to happen, just learn stuff and let the conclusions emerge out of the information.

I think...I think...that between the polls (here and here, Palin and McCain's other erratic choices, the McCain campaigns scattered strategy of baldfaced lies, and their pulling out of Michigan...which I realize is something campaigns do around this time, and Obama has downsized in hopeless states of his own...I think we may have reached the tipping point. Cross your fingers.