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Biden our time

17269942 Drudge did me wrong. So many times I've learned things first from Drudge, and I know why he went with the story he went with, but anyway it turned out to be wrong, and that's OK with me. That guy's hair really is weird, and I'd never be able to get the IM handle BayhCurious out of my head.


Biden is a slightly better pick than Bayh, but he's so tone-deaf on racial issues. Remember, Biden came closer than any of the other candidates to calling him "boy." He didn't, but it felt awfully close to me.


And then there was this:


All of which makes me wonder if that's part of why Obama picked him. Obama wanted someone who is still essentially in the old patrician model of race relations to help assuage voters who are still stuck in the old ways of thinking about race. He brought the guy along that -- of the real contenders -- probably needs the most work on entering a post-racial world. Obama wants to use him first to get elected, and then to help bring him, and so many of those in his generation, into the new world.


I'm reading Dreams from my Father now. Obama's personal story really is remarkable, and does give me hope that we are moving into a really post-racial society, but the pick of Biden essentially to me means that election of Obama would be a big -- but not huge -- step forward.


There's traffic. And then there's traffic. And then there's TRAFFIC.

My first startup -- the late, great MyTrafficNews, (now part of the NavTeq/Nokia/Traffic.com empire) -- had to do with, you guessed it, traffic. 


I fancied myself an expert on traffic even before I started that company, and then quickly learned how little I knew. I thought it would be somewhat predictable, and some aspects of it are, but many are not. The main thing I learned, however, is that it is a very emotional issue. People really will add 20 minutes or more to a drive to avoid the chance of a slowdown that may add at most 10 minutes of slow driving.

Traffic is in the news some in these Dog Days because of what looks like a great new book, and of course a slew of interesting blog posts about the book, including this great one from the incomparable Ben Casnocha.

Left Turn

I won't go into my traffic theories, but I do want to tie in a couple of other memes: Traffic and the Google. I wrote recently about Google's new thing called Knol, reporting on the prediction that the big money in Knols would be for those who write about popular topics, say Obama and McCain. I predicted it would actually be in more stuff where there were quick bucks to be made.

I said I'd check back in six months, but it didn't take that long to prove my point. 

If you do a Knol search for traffic, the results, as of August 12, are all about Internet Traffic, and how to get more people to visit a site. Most people, I think, asking about traffic are looking for information about the road-clogging stuff, not getting a bunch of clicks. But the Knol results don't have that because they have so many people clamoring to be an expert on getting "eyeballs on pages" (yewwww) that they are trying to be the Knol expert. In other words, they are trying to game the system for some easy money. 

My new prediction: Google will figure this out soon enough, and you'll see the results improve, or the project will be killed.

One last thing: When I first wrote about Knol, I compared Google to the National Enquirer. I even put up a picture of some outrageous claims from last year about John Edwards. Then a candidate, Edwards denied it, but it sure seemed likely to me, which is why I posted it. Turns out the Enquirer did have the story right. 

Does this prove that Google's Knol is a good idea? In a funny way, yes it does. It proves that sometimes it does actually make sense to pay for something rather than try to get it all for free. Checkbook journalism has it's drawbacks, but it got that story nine months before any of the more ethical journalists. 

I'm not spending any of my money at the Supermarket to pay for it, though. No Dilbert.

Eureka!

One of the worst parts about the loss of Tim Russert is that I just couldn't imagine someone else taking over the seat on Sunday mornings.


Well, finally I can imagine someone. Check this out:

A long time ago Bob Costas had a show on after Letterman when Letterman was after Johnny Carson, and then after Conan O'Brien. The show was SO good. He sat down and talked to one person for a half hour. It was late night, so there weren't a lot of politicians, but Costas' preparation was amazing. The people interviewed seemed just delighted by questions that they really had never heard before.

What was great about Russert, and does Costas have those traits? 

Fair? Check.

Does great research? Check.

The right combination of gravitas and lack of self-seriousness? Check.

An ability to question the Conventional Wisdom? Check.

I like the idea, so it probably won't happen. Maybe Costas couldn't take the pay cut, or maybe Sports wouldn't let him go, but he could still take the time off to work the Olympics.

Look, a guy can dream...


Wall St. Journal Imitates the Onion

Over on the right of this page there is a link to my contributions to James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" column from the Wall St. Journal.


I haven't made as many lately, I've just been busy, but one of his best ongoing jokes is "Life Imitates The Onion." It's when the Onion is funniest, when actual headlines prove prescient, such as this pairing:

  • "Estate Sale Proves Everything Man Worked For in Life Worth $5,235.78"--headline, Onion, May 17, 2006
  • "Man Auctions Life, but Disappointed at Bid Price"--headline, Associated Press, June 30, 2008

    Normally I might clip this article about Barack Obama being too skinny to be president and send it to Taranto urging that he put it in his column paired with the video below, but because the article was actually in the Wall St. Journal, I'm guessing that just isn't going to happen.



    As Obese Population Rises, More Candidates Courting The Fat Vote