ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms

September 2008

Musings26 Sep 2008

I just watched the first of the US Presidential debates, streamed live on the internet. (Yes, American politics is considered a spectator sport up here in Our Home And Native Land.) I thought McCain was strong in this debate, and I thought Obama started poorly but rallied towards the end. Hard to pick a winner, but if I had to I would say McCain had the better performance.

I was struck by one difference of style between the candidates. Obama tended to say “we” a lot, as in “We need to make sure our veterans are taken care of,” while McCain tended to say “I” – “I’ll make sure our veterans are taken care of”. This different manner of speaking cuts to the heart of each candidate’s approach. Obama has put healing the rifts between red and blue America at the front of his platform. He wants to restore America’s image in the world, and rebuild alliances. When he says “we”, he means a unified America with himself as her leader. McCain, on the other hand, has always presented himself as “the right man for the tough job.” When he says “I will deal with America’s enemies”, he emphasizes what he himself can do in the White House.

McCain’s manner of speaking carries more rhetorical force. It is more definite. It sounds better in a debate. It sounds, well, more Presidential. Obama sounds less direct, less like a Commander in Chief and, dare I say it, more like an Organizer. This is not necessarily a bad thing for Obama, and a strong organizer might be precisely what America needs to help it out of its present difficulties. But Obama, in choosing this style, is taking a great risk: he has to overcome the deeply-held picture of what a president should sound like, and convince the voters that the next president must be one who sounds different.

Links and Musings and Software09 Sep 2008

Somebody recently put me on to a neat monospaced font called Inconsolata. A monospaced font is one where each letter takes up the same amount of horizontal space (meaning that ‘l’ is the same width as ‘w’), and programmers love them because they make it easier to read source code. I’m not entirely sure why this is, beyond the obvious reason that it makes formatted text line up cleanly. What I do know is that when I started using Inconsolata in my code editors I felt… well… suddenly happier.

Looking at the screen became easier on the eyes, and the code seemed to flow more effortlessly out of my fingers. Amazing what a font can do for you. If you, like me, are in the habit of doing a bit of haxoring, go download this font and give it a try.