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10 December 1999

I tell you this, young people, listen to me now. You get older and you realize something in life: you realize that happiness is always in the small details. People who study the Larger Picture, they're always gloomy people. Look at academics, look at economists: all of them depressed. But people like me, we wake up in the morning and we think: "Hot toast!" "Toast, with butter!" and we start to feel good right away.
-- Garrison Keillor, "Things For Which I'm Thankful", 27 Nov 1999 radio broadcast

I'm in the home stretch of Big Project #1, so that's why it's been quiet here (...too quiet...) I hope to be back on a more talkative schedule next week.

Do not miss this. This is not a news story, merely a simple audio clip, but nonetheless...

First, I appreciate most greatly the fact that A Prairie Home Companion archives its shows on the Web for later listening, since I almost never catch it in real time. In fact, they even split up the shows into easily-linked discrete chunks, which is really far more than most sites do even now (and I sincerely hope that'll change over the years).

Anyway, just after Thanksgiving this year Garrison Keillor used the purchase of a new shower knob as the basis for a wonderful little musical meditation on happiness. I was thrilled to find the archived version so I can go back and hear it whenever I need some renewing. If you've got RealAudio, a decent connection and about ten minutes, give this a listen:

  • Things for Which I'm Thankful (RealAudio, 9' 32") [PHC]
    I sing because I'm happy
    I sing because I'm free
    I sing because I'm in the shower
    And it feels so good to me.

I've been pulling all-nighters lately, and this bit is one of the little comforts that's kept my attitude cheerful. If APHC isn't your cup of latté, fair enough, but I think you'll like this.

There's a transcript available, but it's a poor, poor substitute for the actual audio experience, so you'll have to track that link down y'self if you want it.

Political stuff:

Al Gore invents the use of e-mail for ... communication! Salon inserts judgmental words as ... reporting! Film at 11.

  • Al Gore takes on challenger online [Salon]
    "I've challenged [Bradley] to debate these issues, I want a debate every week on a different topic," Gore explained to reporters after his e-mail stunt. "But he hasn't been willing to accept that, so this is kind of an e-debate."

    Gore said that further e-debates "would tend to illuminate the policy differences and would tend to sharpen both campaigns. I mean, campaigns can get away with murder if they just deal with vague generalities."

  • The Actual E-mail Message [AlGore2000]
    Since independent experts agree that more resources will be necessary to assure Medicare is strong for the future, my question is "what specific measures do you propose to compensate for not dedicating any of the surplus to strengthen the Medicare Trust Fund?" Thanks, and I look forward to your reply.

(Hmmm, maybe Gore's the owner of and is trying to up the value of the name? Probably not; that would be crass and opportunistic, which doesn't rule it out, but it would also be fiendishly clever and therefore unlikely. As expected, it's in fact owned by an ordinary domain squatter.)

Though I'm making fun of it, I actually do think that reading what candidates write about an issue (even in abbreviated e-mail form), versus listening to what they mouth in front of cameras might be a better way to understand what they would actually do and to clarify their differences.

When reading you can skip over the paragraphs of BS and zoom in on the actual answer to a question. Then you can, say, extract just the important quotes and post them on a web page so other people don't have to spend all that time...

I'd love to watch Bush himself write an e-mail sans ghost-writer. Jacob Weisberg at Slate thinks he has trouble forming coherent sentences while debating; I wonder if that applies to writing as well:

  • The Arizona Debate: Bush Brought to Book [Slate]
    When he gets even slightly worked up, he can't arbitrate between his seeming need for a plural verb and his seeming need for a singular one. So he uses both, as in his favored expression "are is." Bush also commonly removes the "to" from infinitives, as with "in order promote the peace."

    ...[the] more significant criticism of Bush's answer is that his comments on whatever Acheson book he is reading couldn't have been more trite and banal. They are, in fact, simply Bush's own platitudes about the present attached to a book he claims to be reading. Marshall and Acheson didn't believe that communism could be contained, or the peace kept, by a policy of "free-trading." They argued for line-drawing and military confrontation--a point John McCain made it clear he understood in a glancing reference to Acheson and Korea in his own answer to a foreign policy question.

Recipro-link to a photo Dan Hartung added the perfect caption to (link may not last long):

One more on Gore:

I have nothing to add to this...

  • Win 2K Migration? Life in the Slow Lane [Computerworld]
    You can lead an IT manager to Windows 2000, but you can't make him deploy, at least not until after the first service pack ships.

    "All the promised portions for the modules or units have been taken out," complained another respondent. "The things people were looking forward to like clustering have been taken out."

    "(We're) still completing our Windows 98 migration, so the cost of migrating again will be a factor."

Next week: I turn 29! I've felt 29 for a long time now; luckily I still have a whole year left before I have to feel 30.

Will I be 'back' for real next week? Will I catch up on my backlog of links and start posting about things that happened less than three days ago? I'll find out when you do. Have a good weekend.

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