It’s not often I discover something profound on Digg (a social networking site seemingly inhabited by every freshman boy on a college campus in the U.S.), but it does happen. Today somebody quoted a piece of the transcript in which Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President:

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave.

And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

So, when I look at all of this and I think back to my Army career, we’ve got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities–and we have to take that into account–as well as his substance–he has both style and substance–he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure.

I think both of the Presidential candidates are fine choices, despite the histrionics from either side. It’s these histrionics, which seem to be most pronounced right now from the Republicans, that drive me nuts.

So, it’s refreshing to hear Colin Powell speak evenly about both men, and to offer a reason for supporting Obama that transcends the mudslinging. And it’s refreshing to have found this on Digg!

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Last fall at Animal Intelligence, I shared a two-minute video of a cat who was raised by a crow. A reader recently pointed me to a longer video with a more complete story on this unlikely friendship:

There is nothing I like more than stories of interspecies friendship. I love the idea that different kinds of animals can communicate and empathize with one another. Now if only our cats would be nice to the blue jays…

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As you know, I don’t do a great job of keeping up with the news. Kris often shakes her head and mutters to herself when I reveal my ignorance about current events. This has especially been apparent during the primary election season.

Fortunately, Slate has produced a great nine minute video that summarzies the events of the 2008 Democratic primary:

I was enamored with Obama after his 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention. I’m still enamored with him. But that’s probably not enough to make me vote for him. (I think McCain’s okay, too, but I like Obama better.)

As usual, I’ll be voting for the strongest third party candidate — a small and feeble expression of my discontent with our current political system.

Tags: Interesting · YouTube  → 13 Comments

19 March 2008 — How to Speak (3)

Somebody — David Hatch? — sent me a link to a great video presentation a couple weeks ago. In this lecture, Patrick Winston of M.I.T. offers tips on how to give an effective talk. Winston’s remarks are geared specifically toward new teachers, training them how to give collegiate lectures. But I think they’re applicable to everyone.

As I delve further into this full-time blogging gig, I’m going to be required to do some public speaking. Just this past Sunday, KATU e-mailed to ask if they could interview me about the recession. I was busy and so declined, but it’s just a matter of time before I’m going to find myself in front of a camera. I want to be ready. I don’t want to crash and burn like I did on live radio in Seattle.

During my senior year of college, I took four speech communications classes. I loved them. I did well. Had I realized I enjoyed speech earlier, I would have tried to complete a fifth class, which would have given me a speechcom minor.

Because of this past experience, I’m not worried about speaking in front of small audiences. Later this month, I’ll give a presentation to a small group in San Francisco. I can do that. But the thought of speaking to many people — such as a radio or a television audience — paralyzes me.

It’s likely that I’ll join Toastmasters at some point (Dave, are you still going?), but until then, I’m researching other methods of learning. This video presentation is a great start.

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