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That flowchart is so funny!

I have an alternative explanation for some of those "deer in the headlights" moments shown in the Couric interview.

All Katie had to do was ask the questions more than once; after 2 or 3 or even 4 times with essentially the same question, most relatively inexperienced people will stumble for another way to express the same thought.

All Couric has to do at that point is air the bumbling answer, not the coherent answers that preceded them.

More experienced interviewees say, "Asked and answered", and refuse to say more.

Uh, sure. It's all a vast media conspiracy to "censor" Sarah Palin. Including the Charlie Gibson interview.... Dream on, sister...

Seriously, you're just plain wrong. The reason interviewers keep asking questions is to get BETTER answers out of their subjects, not worse ones. It's my job to ask questions, so I do know what I'm talking about on that score, and I've also been interviewed many times myself. Answers that start out fumbling a bit tend to improve with the re-ask; by the second or third time, the subject usually nails their answer -- IF they know the subject matter to start with. It's pretty obvious Palin didn't. You can't cram years of experience into a few short weeks and expect to be able to pass yourself off as knowledgeable even in such a light interview as that one. Couric didn't put her in that position, the McCain campaign put her there. Place the blame where it belongs.

This election season has been completely depressing. It makes me a little ill that Palin's qualifications are that she has a cute smile, winks a lot, and is a religious small town mom. Even worse are the articles suggesting that women who don't support her candidacy must just be jealous haters (Time Magazine I'm looking at you). Apparently lacking a Y chromosome prevents me from deciding who to vote for based on their experience and position on issues that are important to me.

And I think America's problem is not just that Americans settle for "good enough", it's that education and academics are openly scorned. The anti-intellectual atmosphere in this country is going to be at least part of the ruin of us.

re: Linda F

I think very clearly Palin stumbled with Couric because Couric asked her for specifics and didn't let her get away from the question. In the debate, Gwen Ifill let Palin answer whatever she wanted and ignore the question. It's obvious that Palin is learning the talking points as she goes and can't be pressed for specifics because she doesn't know them yet.

Specific example: The Supreme Court question where Palin could not name a single case she disagreed with besides Roe v Wade. In the debate, Ifill would have let her get away with the generic response that there are many she doesn't agree with, especially those that take away states rights and give them to the federal government. Couric pressed her for an example and Palin couldn't come up with one.

Later when on Fox news she was able to list some (I can't remember what she said other than the Exxon case). You can interpret that as Palin just drawing a blank the first time, or that she went home and looked up a few (or the campaign gave her a list).

Jen, you need to look at this from an evolutionary perspective. For the past 16 years, we have elected presidents chiefly on their ability to never admit error. A large part of this is the ability to evade gotcha questions. Clinton and Bush were both masters at not admitting mistakes, not taking responsibility for them, and phrasing things in ways too nebulous to pin down. Given the strong negative selection against people who give falsifiable answers, it is no wonder that performances like Palin's occur. If you though that was bad, have a look at the interview of any major Australian politician. Their non-answers aren't as redneck, but they are just as evasive, and entire half hour 'news' programs can be turned into puerile 4th grade games of gotcha.

Why are you so jealous of Sarah Palin?

Oh yeah, that's the other line of attack: women who object to Palin are "jealous." Even those who have nothing to be jealous about.

Chuck, you are of course correct about Clinton and Bush, but as much as I appreciated Clinton's handling of the economy during his administration, I always hated his inability to admit error and give evasive answers. "Didn't inhale" made me cringe almost (not quite) as much as "I can see Russia from my house." :) Compare that to Obama's classic response when, discussing his high school experimentation with weed, was asked if he inhaled. He looked perplexed and said, "Uh yeah. I thought that was the POINT."

It's time to reverse the trend, at least a little. As for falsifiable answers, there was a study recently that demonstrated those who were told lies that were then refuted, still tended to believe the lies if they were conservative. It was just one study, and I think far-left sorts might have a similar tendency, but the picture is a bit more complicated than that. A certain type of personality will find Palin appealing. Those who value a reality-based outlook? Probably not so much.

It's not that Americans are satisfied with, or want, mediocrity. It's that the GOP, ever since Nixon, has been milking the basic human instinct of resentment. They portray the other guy--with all his fancy "education" and "experience" and high-brow "socialist" plans--as thinking he's "better than you" and the way to fight back is to elect Regular Joe regardless of qualifications.

It's not sophisticated, but it seems to work on some percentage of the population.

I have been seriously puzzled by the reaction of the women of America to this empty headed, singularly unimpressive woman. The only explanation for the rabid support she has received is that she is a woman and that is sufficient reason. I find this deeply troubling. Ms. Oullette, you have very eloquently expressed what I have been thinking and wondering if I was out here alone. Thankfully, I am not.

For what it's worth, it's looking reasonably likely that Palin will end up being more a drag on the ticket than a help.

I actually tend to suspect that McCain may have made a strategic error in keeping Palin in such a hermetically sealed bubble. If you're going to bet your campaign on a "Hail Mary" pass, you might as well go all the way. McCain might have done better to send her out on LOTS of interviews. If he's lucky she learns how to SOUND convincing before she says anything that sinks his campaign.

(If he's not lucky, he's sunk but he wouldn't have picked her if he didn't think he was losing.)

After reading this post it sure sounded to me that you were talking about this Obama guy, his lack of experience and inability to make sense and stick to one position for more than two days. He changes like a vermilion. Does not this sound familiar?---

"He garbles facts and figures, gives nonsensical answers, can't offer a single concrete specific example (of anything -- not even his favorite newspapers and magazines) and seems genuinely put out when you gently ask a few follow-up questions in a vain attempt to get something coherent out of him"

"Given the opportunity to rectify that, he still doesn't answer questions about his own qualifications; instead, he spends the entire time trashing all the other applicants to make himself look better in comparison".

To me you've been talking about this younster who knows nothing and brags about being a community organizer and did nothing to lift up his own community and after 2 years in the Senate thinks he is qualified to be President and a World leader.

So the fact that anyone, regardless of political orientation, still considers Barak Obama to be a viable candidate for president just boggles the mind.

Think again if you think Obama will be good for this country. Just hold on to your wallet. Lets see if you are big enough to allow this comment to be posted on your blog.


But of COURSE I will allow your comment on my blog; it will provide comic relief for so many of my readers...

I'll admit, like "disagree" I thought you were making an Obama parallel at first too. While I do like that he seems to tackle certain tough questions head on, thus seeming less politician-like, I have too found it rather perplexing that I cannot seem to give many concrete examples of what he would actually do in office. But it is beyond me that people can still be not only FOR Palin, but EXCITED about Palin. I myself have taken a firm stance of a-politicality (?) this election season (I was a big Ron Paul guy, but well, we see how that went) and from an objective point of view, I just don't get how people are still sticking to the "a mayor is like a community organizer but with actual responsibility" thing. I just come back with "you know, getting a law degree is a lot like being a hockey mom... but with actual education." Sexist? Maybe. But I'm beyond caring.

Has it occurred to you that you were meant to think that at first? :) At least until the sentence about the OTHER inexperienced candidate who'd nonetheless had a stronger education and had proved himself capable by doing well in the grueling interview process? The post is not about who has the thinnest resume. Palin's resume would be fine if she had demonstrated any actual knowledge or understanding about the complex issues she'll be dealing with as VP. She hasn't met the bar on basic competence; instead, the bar has been lowered to make her look better (or feel better). Nobody did that for Hillary Clinton. Or for Obama. That's the point of the post....

I can't vote in the upcoming presidential election because I'm not an American, so I like to think of myself as an independent observer. I will admit there were a few weeks after Obama clinched the nomination where I would have voted for McCain if I had been able to. He is more experienced. He has a track record. He has served his country in many semi-anonymous ways (one of many in Vietnam, in the Senate). Obama right away positioned himself for the presidency and couldn't be bothered to actually pass meaningful legislation. But the swing to the right to court hard-core Republican voters has been a mistake on McCain's part. Thanks to one of your previous posts, I got a chance to compare the two candidates' plans when it comes to research funding, especially in science and engineering. I also think Obama's VP pick was well-advised, given that he needs someone who knows how to get the job done, once he's called to implement all that lofty talk of change.

And then McCain picked Palin. The fact that people think they should vote for the person they like most is ridiculous. When did likability, "she's one of us" become a reason to vote for someone? Bush (George W) comes across as a friendly back-slapping kind of fellow too, and look at what he's done to the country. Would the homemaker mother of five on the school board feel competent to be #2 in the country? Would she like her next-door neighbor to be the next in line if the President becomes incapacitated? Friendliness should not replace competence. There has to be a Republican woman with family values and actual executive experience somewhere in the United States, don't you think?

I'm waiting for the Lieberman/Bloomberg ticket myself. At this point, given the two major choices, I need to pick which said I am less disgusted by.

For those of you who think Obama isn't specific enough about his positions, or what he would do if/when president, or you think you somehow lucked into finding out what his funding plans are for science/engineering...

One word: wow.

How can you be so worthless with a computer and still figure out how to post to this web page? All you have to do is type the candidates' names into Google and the first hits take you to their respective web sites, where you can find literally dozens of position pieces on all the top issues.

It boggles my mind that in this day and age, a person can consider himself an informed, responsible voter and not realize that this stuff is out there.

In all honesty, I am going to vote for John McCain. It pains me to even type it. As a former rabid Republican who now cares more about kid's basketball, volleyball and soccer than national elections I just can't bring myself to vote for Obama. Wright, Ayers and his abortion stance sealed the deal. Having said that, McCain is not a great choice for me either. I really, really thought Palin might be the answer. My first impression of the pick was OMG what has McCain the Idiot done now. After spending a couple hours with it, learning more about her son in the military, her hands on knowledge of the energy problem and pro life position I came to embrace her. Ha. After seeing several of the interviews and the debates I am now convinced I was duped. She is an amateur. At best. I don't want someone whose definition of success in a debate is not to screw up. I expect more. She did NOT deliver. Much like B. Obama wouldn't have delivered in a debate held two years ago. He is NOW a polished candidate. I just wish I had more faith in him and the people he has associated himself with. Despite now being polished he has no chance of fixing our economy or effectively combatting a war on terror. McCain is only slightly more qualified. Go ahead. Flame me if you wish. It's honestly how I feel about the election.

So Biden's announcement (during the debate) that we drove Hezbollah out of Lebanon, and offering to go to Katie's restaurant, somehow doesn't put him in the running for Dummy of the Year?

Hezbollah is still in Lebanon, and neither we, nor the French, have driven them out.

Katie's Restaurant closed in the 1980s.

We could go on about Biden's odd sense of reality. He was also one of the prime movers in opposing the best UN ambassador we've had in a long time: John Bolton.

Palin has an admirable record as Alaska Governor. And as far as we know, neither she nor McCain have accepted millions in campaign contributions from the people behind the FNMA debacle.

BDG: " McCain is only slightly more qualified." OK, I'll go with that, but I'll drop the "only". And I'll vote for the man who served his country rather than the man who only served himself. Obama has done almost nothing during his entire terms in the Senate (Illinois and Federal) other than run for the next office. And let's not forget his sage advice for us to solve our energy problem: inflate your tires.

He's all show, and whatever substance there may be is most likely provided by the people in power behind him.

He even thought he was on the Senate finance committee - which he wasn't.

Consider also his tactics. These are typical Democratic moves, so they're not surprising (to anyone who knows Chicago history), but they are revealing:

"CLEVELAND - Volunteers supporting Barack Obama picked up hundreds of people at homeless shelters, soup kitchens and drug-rehab centers and drove them to a polling place yesterday on the last day that Ohioans could register and vote on the same day, almost no questions asked.

The huge effort by a pro-Obama group, Vote Today Ohio, takes advantage of a quirk in the state's elections laws that allows people to register and cast ballots at the same time without having to prove residency."

Then there's the infamous "Obamashirts" YouTube videos:


(I completely disagree with the title - I just can't find an alternate)

The drones say "Because of Obama, I aspire[?] to be the next [white-collar profession engineer, architect, &c]".

And just what's keeping them from doing that already?

During the next section, each extols one of the virtues of Obama's so-called health plan.

That is beyond scary, especially when seen alongside this one:

Those of us old enough to remember the 1940s are deeply troubled.

Hey folks, I'm probably going to close this thread, just because it's degenerating far away from the original topic/point -- the artificial lowering of standards for Sarah Palin to make up for the fact that she's simply not ready for primetime, and why this is damaging to women in male-dominated fields in general -- and pretty much turning into yet another political gutterfest. There's so many other places you can indulge your whims on that score. Stick to the topic at hand, please....

I think this qualifies as part of the thread: lowering standards. I submit that the standards have been lowered appreciably more for Biden than for Palin - and will post only the link and the title:,2933,433314,00.html
Did Biden Get It Wrong? You Betcha

Over and out.

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.