Monday, September 17, 2007

33; youtube and politics

So the important US politics-YouTube article would be about the Democratic candidates answering questions about their policies from YouTubers last evening. However, besides Edwards' stating that he doesn't support gay marriage, I don't really care this early on in the game what they're saying. Undoubtedly opinions will change, and statements be reneged.

The more interesting story combining US politics and the time-wasting YouTube phenomenon is that of a post from CSN 2 of Robert Byrd, Senator of West Virginia, also 90 years of age, speaking out against dog fighting. Byrd is a very senior citizen, a Democrat, and third in line if Bush is shot (after Cheney and Pelosi). He is also a comi-tragic speaker. He repeats himself after enormous pauses, often three times. His mind seems to wander from the subject and he begins talking about other things. A speech which would normally be covered in 5 minutes takes over twenty. Watching the old man speak about a subject he is obviously passionate about, a decries many, many times as barbarous is, sadly, at times humorous.

For the actual videos of YouTube: and

Part of the problem is that his timing in the speech is that of a comedian. The awkward pauses and unexpected deliveries, that's the backbone of spoken comedy. The unusual meanderings are the same gold that make Robin Williams and Eddie Izzard so funny. (He at one point begins to relate that he has seen a man electrocuted. Why this is of relevance is not mentioned, and starts back in on dog fighting.)

There is some tragedy, though, in it as well. You can't help but feel embarrassed for the old man up there, speaking out to a mainly empty room, about the atrocities of dog fighting. He is adamantly against it, and gesticulates wildly. Many speakers know to mention things in threes to make an impression. Byrd seems aware of this, but employs the trick every few words with semi-ludicrous results. Part of the transcript from the second half:

"The training of those poor creatures...Weigh those words...The training...of these poor creatures...weigh them...The training of these poor creatures...To turn themselves into fighting machines is simply barbaric....Barbaric...Barbaric!...Barbaric! Let that word resound from hill to hill and from mountain to mountain, from valley to valley, across this broad land! Barbaric! Barbaric! May God help...those poor souls...who'd be so cruel....Barbaric!...Here me! Barbaric!"

The speech may have been inspiring if it didn't take nearly three minutes to get across those three muddled sentences.

In other news: I'm now 21. So I can now legally drink. Of course, I choose not to, but the sentiment is nice, I suppose. I still can't run for office or rent a car or motel room, but I can drink! No longer is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms only 2/3 of a bureau to me! Is there a Bureau of Porn? How about a Bureau of Renting Cars?

We can judge a society by what they accomplish, and what they build. Or we can judge them on their rites of passage, and what they deem responsible for adults. What does that say about our society?

There's a third option, and my personal favorite: We can judge societies based on how they treat their citizens and other human beings. As a matter of fact: I'll drink to that.

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