Forget the debate.

The entire debate made it clear that Obama is an entirely better candidate for the highest office in the land and that McCain, despite his age and passion for his work, is basically able. But, for that murky middle of voters who can’t seem to decide, all they should do is watch this:

That Great Depression.

It’s so completely difficult to stop shaking my head in amazement at the tripe being pushed out of the Bush and McCain sausage factory. Here’s a government and party that got us into the worst economic crisis since 1929 and they want to take a break until they’re feeling better.
Instead of venting further personal anger and disgust, here are more sane, intelligent voices from the past day’s news cycle:
Crash, Timothy Egan

Today, with more than 90 percent of all homeowners paying their mortgages on time and on budget, the parallel question arises: how could this minority of bad loans drag down Western capitalism? It may be news to Joe Biden — with three gaffes this week, he’s approaching a record, even for him – but Franklin Roosevelt was not yet president during the crash. Herbert Hoover was, and there we have the reason why so many people cringed when John McCain said last week that the fundamentals of the economy were sound.
In his first days in office, Hoover said, “Americans are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of the land.” Oops. And just before he was swept to the dunce corner of history, Hoover said, “No one has yet starved.” At the time, people in rural America were eating brined tumbleweed and road-kill rabbits; the unemployment rate was 25 percent.

Palin’s American Exceptionalism, Roger Cohen

I’m going to try to make this simple. On the Democratic side you have a guy whose campaign has been based on the Internet, who believes America may have something to learn from other countries (like universal health care) and who’s unafraid in 2008 to say he’s a “proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.”
On the Republican side, you have a guy who, in 2008, is just discovering the Net and Google and whose No. 2 is a woman who got a passport last year and believes she understands Russia because Alaska is closer to Siberia than Alabama.

Would You Believe, John Marshall

One of the advantages of running a presidential campaign is that roughly half the country is deeply committed to believing or at least saying that virtually anything you do or say makes sense. And so it is here. But, look, if you were living in the real world, if you were some hotshot young executive at a Fortune 500 company trying to rise in the ranks, and you pulled some whacked crap like this, it would probably get you blackballed permanently. People would think you were either deeply unreliable or maybe just had a screw loose. And yet here he is — is he kidding? He can’t debate Barack Obama because he’s got to go to Washington and save the economy? It’s like the biggest ‘dog at my homework’ in history.

Where is the Outrage?, Garrison Keillor

Poor Larry Craig got a truckload of moral condemnation for tapping his wingtips in the men’s john, but his party proposes to spend 5 percent of the GDP to buy up bad loans made by men who walk away with their fortunes intact while retirees see their 401K go pffffffff like a defunct air mattress, and it’s business as usual. Mr. McCain is a lifelong deregulator and believer in letting brokers and bankers do as they please — remember Lincoln Savings and Loan and his intervention with federal regulators on behalf of his friend Charles Keating, who then went to prison? Remember Neil Bush, the brother of the C.O., who, as a director of Silverado S&L, bestowed enormous loans on his friends without telling fellow directors that the friends were friends and who, when the loans failed, paid a small fine and went skipping off to other things? Mr. McCain now decries greed on Wall Street and suggests a commission be formed to look into the problem. This is like Casanova coming out for chastity.

Our Troops Don’t Get a Time-Out for the Financial Crisis, Todd Soltz

When you’re Commander in Chief, I don’t think there’d be a worse signal to send to our troops in harm’s way than to say, “Hey, hold on guys. I know you’re getting killed over there, but I have to get a time-out here to deal with Wall Street.”
If troops need to multi-task without a break, is it so wrong that we demand that a potential President-in-waiting prove that he can manage a financial crisis, and still address crises around the world for 90 minutes? And, if a potential President-to-be can’t manage that, is it wrong to think that maybe he ought not just suspend a debate and the campaign, but move aside and get out of the race?

Doesn't have to be.

President Bill Clinton spoke to David Letterman tonight. With regard to the market collapsing, he said “there’s plenty of blame to go around.” He further elaborated that, if you multiply all of the houses that may go into foreclosure in the near future, you have a situation unlike any other. When Dave said, “It sounds pretty scary,” Mr. Clinton, in the most relaxed, gentle, and persuasive voice, said, “It doesn’t have to be. We can solve it. It doesn’t have to be.” And he smiled, calmly.
At that moment in time, I fully believed Clinton, despite everything. He was a full light in a dark room of lies and speculation and back-room, shady handshakes.
Clinton: “It’s a mistake to bet against America. We can turn this around.”
P.S. Chris Rock, on ten minutes later, jokes “Did he do everything he could not to mention Barack Obama?” And it’s true – a few mentions of “Hillary” and an almost weak-sounding endorsement of McCain and no mention of Bill’s younger and better successor, Mr. Obama.


Reasons I completely dislike Twitter:

  • It reminds me of the word “twit.”
  • It has all of the panache and weight of a Cliff Notes book.
  • It exudes a lack of confidence in the permanence of our experiences.
  • It smells like teen spirit.
  • It takes the place of blogs, which are now the more-thoughtful electronic communication tool, which, in turn, is hard to believe.
  • It creates a kind of enforcement of followers.
  • It further glamorizes celebrity at the risk of shunning important content.
  • It places urgency above explication.
  • It creates new demands on our mental space, which is increasingly limited by the detrititus of impoverished, short-term thinking.
  • It is cute.

I signed up for an account and you can follow it at


What with the stock market crash, the Palin surge, and the all of the sabre rattling going on, I’ve found myself not able to focus on the immensity of the Ike hurricane. Like most people, I get a lot of information out of photographs and the ones at Big Picture are highly informative. Parts of Houston look like what I saw after 9/11 in New York.

Seinfeld and Gates.

The new Microsoft campaign, fronted by funny man Jerry Seinfeld and rich man Bill Gates, has arrived.
Here’s one of the longer videos, so far:
On the surface, we see Seinfeld and Gates, two of the most known characters in our culture, enjoy some time together with an average family. The marketing team at Microsoft wants us to laugh at that the company has been mildly out of touch with the technological needs of Americans—and that nothing less than the ex-CEO visiting your home will help rectify its customers’ distrust for the company. Companies like Apple are nipping at the coattails of Microsoft, and the Mad Men of Microsoft want to make sure to tell people: “Hey, we get it. We’re not the big and powerful monopoly we once were. We’re nimble and kind of quirky, just like Apple. We even know that we’re a bit out of it. See?”
The mom asks for financial advice. The pre-teen girl pulls a prank on them. The pizza guy is shunned by men who, together, have billions.
But what the marketing campaign is really telling us is much more powerful: The growing inequality between the very rich and the very average has grown beyond anyone’s expectations. And there’s no way to easily rectify it, except through hope and mockery. David Frum, conservative author, wrote a lengthy piece about this yesterday. In it, he writes:

As long as all Americans were becoming better off, few cared that some Americans were becoming better off than others. But since 2000, something has changed. Incomes at the middle have ceased to rise. The mood of the country has soured. Conservatives who disregard the mood of unease may forfeit their power to defend the more open and productive American economy they did so much to build.

At the end of the video, Seinfeld and Gates, walking off into the sunset, their bags in tow, do a little dance—and we laugh at our expense.

Save As.

Today, my daughter came home today, explaining that she learned how to “Save As” at school on the computer there. Besides for the fact that kids are learning to make a duplicate of a file on a word processor, I thought it would be great to use “Save As” in our political predicament.
De-spite all of the gloomy stories, Gail Collins’s good piece and David Broder’s (weaker) piece today read Save As.
It was a pleasure to read that Obama, and the United States of America, has a chance.

Movies '08.

For my movie fiend friends who keep track of what’s hot and what’s not in the air conditioned confines of cinematic entertainment, take a look at thisUS 2008 chart of box office receipts.
The visualization of these receipts is insanely detailed but, what’s powerful about the way the information is structured is that you can gather a quick, week-by-week understanding of what people liked and how quickly interest dropped off. For instance, Iron Man had incredible staying power (of course) the first week of May. The Dark Knight even moreso during July and August. Cloverfield, on the other hand, dropped precipitously after its first week, perhaps because there are only a few strong stomachs for such fare. I saw all three movies and my favorite, by a small, rounded, green squiggle was Iron Man.
Thanks to Ask H&FJ.

Meta Serif.

I don’t use the font, FF Meta, very much, in part because Apple uses it so beautifully and consistently that it’s hard to compete. (Apparently, Apple actually uses a customized version of the font.) Meta Sans has been around since 1984, and was designed by the inimitable Erik Spiekermann, the founder of Font Shop, one of the most important companies selling fonts today. (One more aside: Spikermann, who teaches in Bremen, Germany, also designed Berliner Grotesque, a font I used for the original branding of MANOVERBOARD.)
Today, FontShop created a beautiful, elegant and informative small site dedicated to its relatively recent release of FF Meta’s serif sister. Everything about the design screams “buy me” – the large type at the top, the cute twins below the fold, haloed in pink, and the smartly crafted facts and figures page. To font-heads like myself, the story of the design of Meta Serif is a soap opera with multiple threads, leads, starts, and stops. Three of my most favorite designers collaborated, including Spikermann, the brilliant Christian Schwartz, and Kris Sowersby of New Zealand, to design and build this font.
The site even validates, a very unusual occurrence for any site, but especially sites dedicated to typography for some reason.
Kudos Kudos to FF.