Well its over and Im mostly happy. Maybe ecstatic is a better word. No I do not think I am kidding myself with what Obama can get done in the next four years. I am mostly happy in that I believe this presidential election, while being about many things, was primarily a national referendum on the course of our country. The choices being continuing down the road towards anti-intellectualism increased theocracy and intolerance or changing course and embracing rationalism and secular principles to promote the rights of all Americans.
First John McCain's concession speech:
This is the John McCain I remember. This is the John McCain I disagree with on many policies, but have the utmost respect for. This is the John McCain who I will argue cares more about his country than himself. This is the John McCain who, I feel, abandoned his principles and took on the rethuglican playbook written by Rove during much of this election. This is the McCain that Bush and company tried to smear by suggesting his adopted child was due to a wartime dalliance. I guess since this approach worked for Bush, McCain was convinced it would work for him when a straight approach wouldn't. This is why negativity was the highlight. I am not suggesting negative ads are improper, but there are lines. Attacking a policy position and putting it in a bad light is stock and trade in an election. Ads stating your opponent wants comprehensive sex education for kindergarteners is evil. Divisiveness "Real America" "Pro-America" etc, is not uncommon in an election, but it is draining and depressing to see the level we can be reduced to. Of all the speeches I do not recall hearing catcalls from the audience of Obama's supporters, scratch that I do remember a number of boos at one televised speech and Obama immediately saying something to the effect of 'we don't need that, we need to vote.' I will also give credit to McCain when he immediately shut down the woman stating her distrust of Obama because he was Muslim. But the rift caused by the tone of the McCain/Palin campaign will be difficult to heal. We elected a president with an immediate African lineage, however racism is strong and ugly and I believe the tone from the republican campaign fueled those fires. I understand the disappointment of McCain supporters, but the boos during McCain's speech were saddening.
Second Barak Obama's acceptance speech:
Saying that Obama gave an excellent speech is redundant at this point. However, for me, this was the highlight:
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.
And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.
Yes we can.
Yes we did, but now the real work begins. The solutions to our problems are not solved by an election, are not solved by one man, are not solved by one party. We have taken one step in a long trip, but damn this was one nice step!
The clearest essay on physics I have read: The beauty and clarity of Paul Dirac's prose
1 hour ago in The Curious Wavefunction