U.S. Election reception, Ljubljana

A few shots from a U.S. Election reception hosted by the U.S. Embassy at the Hotel Union in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Tuesday night. Above a life-size Obama cut-out.


Foreshadowing? The expression on the McCain cut-out.


Yousif B. Ghafari, U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia.


Katarina Kresal, president of Slovenia’s LDS party.


The last picture of Sarah Palin I ever want to see.

Before Expatriating, Some Considerations

We’ve all heard someone say it: “If that fascist/socialist/weasel/liar/idiot/etc wins, I’m gettin’ the hell out of the country.” Here’s a quick, short and entirely un-researched checklist for the 0.2 % of those who may actually consider following their convictions when the results are in on Wednesday morning.


If the outcome of an election is your primary reason to move on, bear in mind that escape won’t necessarily help. It’s something you obviously feel strongly about, so don’t think you’ll ever stop paying attention. Depending on where you choose to go, the consequences could be even worst. In Europe, watching debates live meant staying up or waking up at 3 am. My sleep cycle is still screwed up. Suggestion? Stay in roughly the same time zone.

If you’re from the right and want to escape the ludicrously bizarre hysteria of an America taken over by Obama’s “socialism”, suffice it to say that the chances are quite good that you won’t be very happy almost anywhere else.


When your anger/shock/despair subside enough and you start planning your move, consider some practical matters before booking that one-way ticket (VERY expensive, by the way).

Choose your expatriation destination extremely carefully. Laws, rules and regulations on immigration and foreign workers vary wildly from country to country. Jobs aren’t that easy to find. The global economy is in a tailspin at the moment, remember?

Everyone’s situation is different. Although it was on the list, politics wasn’t my primary reason for moving. Work was. And the simple fact that I always preferred Europe in general. I was born in Slovenia, and although my family moved to the US before my second birthday, I had ties here. Immediate relatives, and a few good friends. I visited quite a bit as I was growing up and later in life. I was fluent in the language. I enjoy drinking and eating lots of meat.

No-brainer: have real steady work lined up and a decent place to live before you leave. You’re not stuffing a backpack for a vacation, remember? You’re not going on an extended couchsurfing tour, remember? And don’t even consider boarding that plane until you have, at minimum, enough cash on hand to cover at least six months of living expenses, plus pocket money. Six months fly by. Six months in a profoundly different environment fly by even faster.

Socializing. You’ll be leaving your family, best friends and other relationships you’ve cultivated over your entire lifetime behind. Email, photo and video sharing, phone calls and text messages won’t begin to fill that void. The older you are, the more difficult it is to create those sorts of relationships in far off and unknown places. Virtually all expats agree that this is the most important consideration, one that will make or break your move.

Moving boxes. You’re not packing your stuff for a vacation, remember? Moving sucks. Packing shipping containers sucks even more.

A few months ago Adventures in Wheelsville’s Camille linked to a great expat adjusting write-up here, a good starting point to begin your planning. Good luck!

bleed the sky (Oslo 18), originally uploaded by pirano.

Didn’t I See This Voting Machine in a Cartoon?

Or was it in a film?

From the Charleston, West Virginia Gazette on Oct. 18:

Three Putnam County voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans when they cast early ballots last week.

Shelba Ketchum, a 69-year-old nurse retired from Thomas Memorial Hospital, described what happened Friday at the Putnam County Courthouse in Winfield.

“I pushed buttons and they all came up Republican,” she said. “I hit Obama and it switched to McCain. I am really concerned about that. If McCain wins, there was something wrong with the machines.

And a week earlier also in the same area:

Virginia Matheney, one of those voters, said Friday, “When I touched the screen for Barack Obama, the check mark moved from his box to the box indicating a vote for John McCain.”

Retired factory worker Calvin Thomas of Ripley said he experienced the same problem.

“When I pushed Obama, it jumped to McCain. When I went down to governor’s office and punched [Gov. Joe] Manchin, it went to the other dude.

“After I finished, my daughter voted. When she pushed Obama, it went to McCain. It happened to her the same way it happened to me,” Thomas said.

monaco-carnival06, originally uploaded by pirano.


In this Atlantic piece, David Sedaris wonders how anyone in the U.S. could possibly still be undecided:

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

Udine 05, originally uploaded by pirano.

10 Reasons Why Sarah Palin Shouldn’t Give a Press Conference Before Nov. 4

I can’t think of one. Can anyone? Please, just one?

Would the far-right base the she was selected to appease not demand the same if the Democrats had selected a virtual unknown as the second in command, someone who in their few media appearances has only shown how clearly out their league they are? Plenty of conservatives have, and clearly aren’t impressed.

Picking up on The Daily Dish‘s call, Christopher Hitchens writes in Speak Up! Stop covering Palin until she gives a press conference that without a forum in which to raise her dubious nonsense from the campaign trail, that

continued media coverage of her appearances is no better than lending a megaphone to a demagogue, the better to amplify her propaganda.

What has she brought to the table besides the resurrection of Saturday Night Live and material for a Larry Flynt porn flick? Not a whole lot besides copy for a growing number of Obama campaign endorsements.

Gov. Palin, stop hiding. You want to be Vice President, and you think you’re up for the No. 1 spot as well. Hiding isn’t very presidential.

From recent Obama newspaper endorsements -

Houston Chronicle:

Perhaps the worst mistake McCain made in his campaign for the White House was the choice of the inexperienced and inflammatory Palin as his vice-presidential running mate.

Los Angeles Times:

Indeed, the presidential campaign has rendered McCain nearly unrecognizable. His selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was, as a short-term political tactic, brilliant. It was also irresponsible, as Palin is the most unqualified vice presidential nominee of a major party in living memory. The decision calls into question just what kind of thinking — if that’s the appropriate word — would drive the White House in a McCain presidency. Fortunately, the public has shown more discernment, and the early enthusiasm for Palin has given way to national ridicule of her candidacy and McCain’s judgment.

Washington Post:

And we find no way to square his professed passion for America’s national security with his choice of a running mate who, no matter what her other strengths, is not prepared to be commander in chief.

Dayton Daily News:

His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate was stunning. She is shockingly lacking in presidential qualifications. Some of Sen. McCain’s most enthusiastic supporters have been forced to admit this. Her defenders say her resume compares well with Sen. Obama’s, but it does not.

Kansas City Star:

Despite his age and previous health problems, McCain chose a vice presidential candidate who is so clearly unqualified for high office that the thought of her stepping into the presidency is frightening. That irresponsible decision casts serious doubt on McCain’s judgment at this point in his political career. And over the past eight years, Americans have come to know, all too well, the high price of carelessness and ineptitude in the White House.

Chicago Sun Times:

Most egregiously for a man of advanced age who knew how important this decision could be, he chose the unqualified Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice president.

San Francisco Chronicle:

McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has been largely sequestered from the news media since her selection in late August. She has yet to have anything resembling a traditional news conference, where the full range of her knowledge and views can be explored. Her avoidance of questions and reliance on cue-card talking points in the one vice presidential debate did nothing to allay doubts about whether the 44-year-old governor of two years is capable of assuming the reins of the presidency. Her selection was but an act of political calculation by McCain.

And the Chicago Tribune, in its first-ever endorsement of a Democrat for president in its 161 year history:

McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate–but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin’s exposure to the public. But it’s clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment’s notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.

Parliament, originally uploaded by pirano.

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Empty Prayer, Empty Mouths

No, this has nothing to do with McCain-Palin.

Here’s a silver anniversary memento I’m looking forward to: a remastered two-CD 25th anniversary edition of REM’s Murmur, their first full-length release, to be released just in time for the worst shopping season of a generation (or two).

Murmur was actually released in April of 1983, but this year’s November 25 release makes more sense as far I’m concerned since it wasn’t until the fall of ’83 that I finally listened to the album start to finish. Over and over on my roommate’s headphones in my freshman year dorm room in Athens (Ohio, not Georgia). My brief experimentation with the campus Young Republican Club was already resigned to the dustbin; other more appealing experiments awaited.  And REM has been along for the ride ever since.

The second CD is a live recording from July 9, 1983, at Larry’s Hideaway in Toronto. [Set list here.]

Coincidence being what it is, here’s a live video of Talk About the Passion supposedly taped on November 25, 1983, at the EXO 7 Club in Rouen, France, birthplace of the fictitious Opera Ghost of Phantom of the Opera fame. [The evening's set list via REM Chronicle.]

It was their first time out of North America, their first European stint, and just the seventh gig into the tour. So this was early on, and the growing pains are clearly visible here. Patience, please. The song finally begins about 1:45 in. And it’s a decent recording.

via The Regular Guy

Powell Endorses Obama

Former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, a Republican and one of the few –if only– widely respected figures from the Bush Administration, today formally endorsed Barack Obama for president.

Here’s a seven minute clip from today’s Meet The Press which is most interesting not so much for his endorsement, but moreso for his take on how the McCain-Palin ticket, along with the Republican party, has made a mockery of this campaign.

Worth watching.

Les Americains, originally uploaded by pirano.

Study: Blinking is Bad for Electoral Health

John McCain blinked a lot at last night’s debate. A whole lot. Which apparently doesn’t bode well for his election chances.

According to a study, Eye movements and U.S. presidential elections, published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology, blinking at debates goes over about as well as three-day old tripe stew.

For eight U.S. presidential elections during the period 1960–2004, the rapid blinker during debates received fewer overall votes than his opponent. In seven of these eight elections, the rapid blinker also lost the electoral vote and was defeated at the polls. Furthermore, in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, seven out of ten presidential aspirants have shown elevated EBRs [eyeblink rates] (over 50 blinks per minute) and have been defeated in their candidacies.

[via Huffington Post]

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bad news, originally uploaded by pirano.