All Over Bar The Shouting


So they had an election ages ago in the US, but I still keep seeing that nice Mr. Bush on TV and in the newspapers. It seems like the even nicer Mr. Obama doesn't actually get the keys to the Oval Office until this year. I suppose that kind of makes sense. I mean, if you were employing a new airline pilot, you probably wouldn't want to give him or her the keys to a 747 until they'd had a few goes at landing one on a simulator, and proved that that they know which door to go in through when it comes time to do it for real. Especially if they haven't actually flown a plane before.

Maybe Mr. Obama has spent the last few months getting up to speed on his new job. He's probably been taking part in reruns of "The West Wing", rushing about being talked at by six people at once. Or perhaps he's been locked away with a headset on working through a "presidency" simulator where he has to balance the economy and try not to start too many wars. I guess with a job as important as he's got, you need to be reasonably good at it from the start rather than spending the first few months messing about installing the software you need on your laptop, trying to remember important people's names, and discovering where the restroom is.

All this contrasts with our somewhat lackadaisical approach on this side of the pond. When we have an election, we don't get to know the result until the next day. That's mainly because we don't actually trust anything that isn't written down on paper with a stumpy and blunt black pencil (usually tied to the voting booth desk with a piece of string for security reasons), so they have to get a heap of people to count them all by hand afterwards. Still, at least it gives the TV presenters plenty of time to play with their "swingometers" and other fancy CGI stuff. But I suppose they've had two years of that already in the US, so people are losing interest by the end of the process.

Meanwhile back in the UK, once they do decide who won, the boss of that party has to drop in for breakfast with the Queen and see if it's OK for him or her to form a Government. Providing she says yes (I'm not sure what happens if she says no), the new Prime Minister can wander down the road to Number 10 and start running the country. Presumably, if they don't need any training, it must be relatively easy. Mind you, as they were most likely to have been up all the night before partying, they'll probably have a bit of a hangover. Probably best not to make too many huge impact major decisions on the first day. And ask someone where the restroom is.

One thing I never discovered about the US election process is what the difference is between a "Soccer Mom" and a "Hockey Mom" (other than the lipstick). I'd assumed that Sarah Palin doesn't actually play hockey, and that the name comes from her transporting the kids to and from their hockey games. Then I found this post in which Lynn Wilhelm explains that there are other less well-known categories of parenting that I wasn't aware of. Such as the "NASCAR Dad". And as Obama is a basketball devotee, we'll presumably soon be seeing the newspapers full of "Basketball Mom" stories. Lynn even goes to the lengths of explaining that ice hockey is more popular in Alaska than it is in Florida (which doesn't seem surprising), and that ten times more "casual participants" (I assume she means kids) play soccer and basketball than hockey.

Here in the UK, we've already had a political focus on "Mondeo Man" (Mondeo is the name of a mid-range Ford motorcar, and supposedly refers to the middle-class amongst the population). Though, if everyone is downsizing to save money and be green, maybe next time it will be "Focus Man" or even "Fiesta Man". Or maybe, instead, we'll continue our USification by seeing an increasing election-time focus on sectors of the population based on their kid's pastimes? Perhaps politicians will start to aim their policies at "Cricket Mom", "Rounders Mom", "Xbox Mom", "Reading Harry Potter For The Fifth Time Mom", or even "Hanging Around On Street Corners Getting Drunk Mom".

And, after all this, I hear from a colleague in the US that their election might not actually be over yet. It seems that some people are waiting for the Supreme Court to rule that Mr. Obama isn't actually eligible to be President because his Dad was Kenyan, had a British passport, and dual nationality at birth. But don't panic - we can send over our nice Mr. Blair (he's not busy at the moment) to handle things until you make up your mind.

So by now you're probably wondering what, other that a brief mention of Xbox, all this rambling has to do with computers, documentation, and software. To be honest, I don't have any idea either...

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