American Elephants

Obama, Transparency and His Own Words by The Elephant's Child

How Can This Election Be Close? by The Elephant's Child

We have never in all of our history had a president who has failed so spectacularly, yet there are those who want to give him another four years. How is this possible? I would expect a divided country, for there is a committed left, and a large number of them live in my state. Obama got at least a small bounce from the three raucous nights of the Democratic convention in which:

In his renomination acceptance speech here on Thursday night, he told us that America’s problems were tougher to solve than he had originally thought.

And that’s why he has kindly agreed to give us more time.

Because, after all, it’s our fault.

“So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me,” President Obama explained. “It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the change.”

We were the change!

Um, that’s Maureen Dowd.  The New York Time’s Maureen Dowd? Is the Liberal media beginning to question the litany?

POLITICO’s John Harris and Jonathan Martin charge Obama with failing to present a coherent policy platform, failing to use his pulpit in creative ways, and failing to reintroduce JFK-level power and glamour to the White House.

The New York Times’ Jodi Kantor writes that Obama has “turned out to be a voraciously competitive perfectionist” whose “quest for excellence can bleed into cockiness,” and adds that “he tends to overestimate his capabilities.”

“Just a few months before the election, Obama is suffering from an engagement gap,” The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim and Sam Stein write. “Obama is no longer regarded by the majority of voters as a constructive reformer.”

I think it’s a kind of pity. Obama was so perfect with the dazzling smile, the mellow baritone voice — the first black president. He’s tried so hard, but things were just so bad, the Republicans were so intransigent. Probably wasn’t anyone that could have done anything under the circumstances, maybe if we give him another four years, it will get better? We can’t just desert him now after he has tried so hard.

How can this be? The national debt is over $16 trillion and higher than the Gross Domestic Product, and Obama cannot stop spending, and destroying jobs. Over twenty-three million Americans are unemployed, or have stopped looking for work. And it is not getting better, it is getting worse.  Manufacturing is declining, not growing.  368,000 workers dropped out of the labor force in August.

On Friday, the White House said it will miss the legal deadline for delivering a report to Congress on the spending cuts from  sequestration that are scheduled to take effect in 2012. The Office of Management and Budget has repeatedly failed to make legal deadlines. Oh well, deadlines…

GM may or may not survive. Obama raised their union costs, rather than cutting them, and they’re not making cars that anyone wants, the Volt costs more to sell than it does to make them, and even at that, no one wants any, but Joe Biden called it a great success. If anything remains of GM, Obama’s new fuel economy requirements will put paid to that.

Hilda Solis, the embarrassing Labor Secretary asked us to believe that “our recovery remains on a stable trajectory of positive job growth. Smart and steady wins the race.” There is no stable trajectory, it is getting steadily worse. We gained about 95,000 jobs in August, but lost 368,000 workers who dropped out of the labor force.  Can no one do basic subtraction?


When Cutting-Edge Technology Meets The Texts of The Ancient World. by The Elephant's Child
September 10, 2012, 2:41 pm
Filed under: History, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

A team of scientists with cutting edge technology has traveled from Washington to an isolated, fortress-like monastery in the middle of the Sinai Desert that is the home of the oldest continuously operating library on the planet.

They are there to turn their high definition cameras on the monastery’s rare and priceless ancient manuscripts. The ancient animal-skin parchments have been scraped so the earlier texts can be erased and new texts can be written on the old skin. Such erased texts are known as palimpsests. I had seen the word before, but never known the meaning.

In 1999 a policy director from the National Reconnaissance Office which designs spy satellites and imaging systems read about a project at the Walters Art Museum. An anonymous bidder had paid $2 million at auction for a prayer book handwritten in Europe in 1229. The value came from what the prayers had overwritten: 10th century copies of key works by the Greek mathematician Archimedes. They knew there was a hidden text, but they couldn’t read much of it. It has been a ten year project of photographing pages with special lights and filters, and computerized enhancement to discover the lost words.

The monastery has existed in a valley at the base of Mount Horeb since at least the 4th century. In the 6th century, the Emperor Justinian I called for the construction of a monastery at the site of what is to believed to be the biblical Mount Sinai, where the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses rested. The monks preserve their ancient traditions, they have just added some iPads and PowerBooks.

The monastery holds at least 130 palimpsests, all from medieval times. The main enemies to document preservation are mold and insects, but humidity in the desert is so low neither is an issue. There are months or even years between rainstorms, and no rats to chew pages. The library’s isolation has added to the preservation of the documents.

This is a fascinating story of  bringing together the newest technology and the oldest written words. You can find the whole article here in The Washington Post.

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