Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Irony

Most anti-Iraq war folks blame Bush for going at it alone. The other way to look at it, of course, is to blame Chirac and Schroeder for forcing us to go at it alone by leaving us high and dry in the UN.

Now, we have two American-friendly administrations in both Germany and France, two administrations (not sure whether they are called that in G and F) who would've supported the Iraq war in the first place. In France, a neoconservative has been appointed the foreign minister. Interesting. Just when the majority of Americans have grown tired of Iraq and the administration is looking for backdoors out, and the Blair government is done in the UK, our other two cold war allies are changing their tune.

The world is goofy like that.

People are waiting 90 minutes to get 2.99 a gallon gas in San Fran. They drove from all over to get the uber cheap gas.

It strikes me as rather stupid. How big is a typical gas tank? Mine is 14 gallons. Normally I fill up about 12 or 13 gallons. So one is saving roughly $12-13 minus the extra cost of driving out of your way. Take of $1 and let's just call it $12. By waiting 90 minutes plus whatever drive time out of your way, you're spending 2 hours to save $12. Would you work for $6 a hour? No. But people would spend 2 hours to save $12. This strikes me as rather stupid.

What is weird, however, is that I think people don't tend to be stupid when it comes to rational economic decisions...for the most part. In this case, the best way I can rationalize it is that people drove out of their way not knowing it was going to be a 90 minute wait. Once they got there, the rest of the costs were already sunk and they decided to wait. Maybe their gas tanks are bigger than mine. Say they saved 25 bucks - still not much to save for 90 minutes. Maybe most people only waited for 30 min-1 hr and the 90 minutes was max. I can see trying to save $25 for 1/2 hour wait.

The other rationale is that people are on fixed income and don't make more money by working more. The only way to "earn" more money is to save money and so putting in time saving is like earning overtime that is otherwise unavailable. I can see that.

But you also have to offset the cost of waiting, which is really boring. And not everything boils down to money saved and money earned...

Like many Democrats, I fully support military and financial assistance to Sudan with or without UN consent to help stop the genocide.

But unlike many Democrats, I also supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

What is the material difference between Sudan and Iraq? That is, why would one support stopping genocide in Sudan and not support the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq?

Point 1: In Sudan there is an ongoing genocide and Iraq there was not. Fair point. But in Iraq there had been prior acts one could easily consider genocidal, ie the mass killing of Kurds and Shiites. Does that mean military force should only be used to prevent genocides and not punish past ones or prevent likely future ones? Is this a wise use of resources? Do we wait until the genocide is occuring to step in? I'm not sure. Is that the argument Democrats are making? Is this a basis for a humanitarian-based (as opposed to interested based) foreign policy?

Point 2: Iraq is a strategically important country, Sudan is not. In short, it matters to the United States what happens in Iraq as a keystone state in the Middle East. In Sudan, so long as they aren't actively harboring Al Queda (as they were in the past), there is little to no material effect to US whether a genocide occurs or not. Sure, it rubs our conscience wrong, but so should most things that go on in various parts of the world.

If one believes we should use the military in Sudan, it follows that we should've done the same with Iraq many times in the past. But most Dems seem to believe we should step in Sudan and NOT step in with Iraq. It's almost as if they believe we should only step in places where we DON'T have an interest to prove our motive is good.

There is something troubling about that point of view.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On Kobe and Shaq

Here is Kobe's side of the story.

Kobe insists he never asked Shaq to be traded and that Buss was going to deal Shaq "no matter what" because of his fitness and contract demands. This is a completely false analysis because it obscures the initial issue that gave rise to the situation - Kobe and Shaq could no longer play together. When this issue became clear, Buss had a choice: Kobe or Shaq. He chose Kobe because he was younger and in better shape.

Anyone with a set of eyes knew Kobe and Shaq weren't able to play together any longer - because Kobe couldn't stand sharing the spotlight.

All the Laker's problems go away if Bryant goes. They all stay and will resurface with Bryant there. It's completely obvious.

UPDATE: Another article outlining the story that Buss told Kobe that Shaq was being dealt no matter what. Say this story is true...why does Buss tell Kobe? If he deals Shaq "no matter what," why pull Kobe into a private meeting and reveal it to him months prior and then insist the conversation remain secret? Because he made a choice - he wanted Kobe to stay and Shaq to leave.
Kobe is a Cancer

I knew it years ago and probably could find an old blog entry on it. The guy is now demanding a trade from the Lakers. Basically, this is the course of events:

1. Kobe and Shaq can win several titles together, not because they have a great team, but because at the time they were two of the top five players in the NBA on a single team and didn't have any great competition.

2. Kobe's young and enormous ego can't stand the idea that maybe he could only win with Shaq and secretly wants him traded away to prove he can win games all by his lonesome.

3. While Kobe now denies that he wanted Shaq gone, it was clear at the time in both the media coverage and the Laker front office that they needed to make a choice: Shaq or Kobe and they chose Kobe. Maybe Kobe never came out and said it, but he never denied it once it became public knowledge. It is what he wanted. No doubt.

4. Shaq goes to Heat and wins Championship with Wade and Riley. And this is a lesser Shaq than with the Lakers.

5. Kobe and Phil Jackson fail to get any other superstars because no one wants to play with Kobe and frankly, Kobe doesn't want to play with anyone who would take the spotlight away from him.

6. Kobe becomes known as the single greatest talent in the NBA, scores 81 points in a single game, seems to be "the best," but never an MVP...come to think of it, he doesn't even win a playoff series.

7. Lakers become a borderline playoff team that can't get out of the first round.

8. Kobe wants to be traded.

Why is Kobe a cancer? Because he got exactly what he wanted - to have a shot at being a superstar and carry his team all by his lonesome. He fantasized about taking a team of shlubs to the championship so he could be crowned a greater player than Jordan by winning with no help at all. But he couldn't - of course he couldn't - if he had half a brain or was taugh the basics, that basketball is a team sport and not about his own glory...but no, he's missing that chromosome. He always has. And that's not something that can be taught.

So now what does he do to the organization that bent over backwards to do everything he wanted? To an organization that placed all their chips in his corner, bet on him by sacrificing everything to please him? He wants to be traded, citing their choice not to go after players that can win.

That is what cancerous people do. They bite the hand that feeds them. They are their own worst enemy, setting themselves and whoever is around them up for failure. I've been saying that for years. It's been obvious for years. And now all the Laker fans who loved Kobe - he'll feel their wrath.

And watch - the Lakers will be better in the near future. Shoot, I might even start rooting for them again. If they really want to win and get nasty, they'll trade Kobe to their rivals - the Suns - because I guarantee wherever he goes, unhappiness will follow.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Some Things Are Morally Grey

But others are not.

An exerpt:

Today, a homophobic mob set upon a group of Russians and Europeans who were trying to present Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, with a memo from 40 members of the European parliament requesting that gay Russians be permitted to assemble freely in the city. The cops arrested the gay activists - not the violent mob.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

This Is Funny

Those Brits are funny.

The Lebanese Army vs. Al Queda's branch in Palestinian refugee camps. Michael Totten breaks it down.

US Military is aiding the army. Good.

Will selling out Lebanon be part of the deal to withdraw from Iraq? Will let Assad step in again in Lebanon in exchange for a deal in Iraq? I hope not.

What is the benefit to us to compromise on these issues?

Thursday, May 24, 2007


You can make fun of liberals all you want, but don't make fun of Marin and expect me not to call you a hoe-bag biaaach.
Dave Chapelle and Imitative Humor

My favorite bits of Chapelle stand up are his voice adjustments into his white friend, Chip, the little black drug dealing baby, and Bill Clinton. He also transforms into R. Kelly, the Niggers Milkman, and a host of other charactictures on his show. The laughs with Chapelle come from his imitations of others...which is high form of interpretative art, taking an existing personality and reshaping and reorganizing elements and morphing into through this goofy, skinny, weed smoking, incredibly intelligent performer.

Chapelle has a unique talent for doing this and is one of the very few that I think are intrinsically funny. Just looking at the guy sit and drink coffee would probably be funny.
Niners Offense

I'm liking the Niners offense this year...

A year wiser Alex Smith. He isn't in the top tier of QBs, but he isn't in the bottom tier, either. He'll improve.

After LD, Frank Gore is the best back in the league. I hope the OL can do as well this year as last year.

Vernon Davis is no longer a rookie and he showed moments of brilliance after a generally underwhelming rookie season at TE.

Darrell Jackson gives us a legit receiver. It'll take the pressure off 2 and 3 whoever they end up being.

I'm saying, we're gonna be solid. Playoffs are a good possibility.
Was WWII Worth It?

An interesting article by Pat Buchanan.

The arguments he makes against US-British involvement in WWII seem to match perfectly with the anti-war arguments against Iraq. Not surprisingly, Buchanan has always been against the Iraq war. Oh, yes, the uber liberals should not forget who they're in bed with - the Pat Buchanan right.

His point: The British reason for entering WWII was to free Poland and Czechoslovakia. At war's end, they were free from Hitler, but under another tyrant who in sheer of people who he killed, worse than Hitler - Stalin. (Iraq parallel: WMDs)

The allies freed Western Europe, but Western Europe was only attacked AFTER the British and French declared war on the Nazis. Perhaps World War 2 was in large part, our fault. (Iraq parallel: US and Brits going at it alone)

Other facts not mentioned by Buchanan...the severity of the holocaust didn't escalate until 1942 after the fighting between Russia and Germany had gotten particularly brutal. (Iraq parallel: Al Queda's brutal presence in post-war Iraq)

Maybe if Winston Churchill hadn't been such a neoconservative, Hitler wouldn't have attacked anyone else, Stalin and Hitler would've never come to blows, and the holocaust would've been much less severe. In short, maybe the comparisons between Iraq and Germany are apt - that Hitler wasn't much of a threat until we made him into one. Plus, lets face facts, Germans elected Hitler...we deposed a democratically elected official.

In any case, was it worth 50 million lives?

I'm being facetious.
Solving Two Problems At Once

Immigration and Iraq troops...why don't we give the option of citizenship to foreign born people who want to serve in the armed services for a certain amount of time.

Seems like a win-win.
Is It True?

Halle Berry and Salma Hayak are both 40. Time just flies...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Styles of Humor

I've been thinking about this for a couple days now and a conversation tonight prompted me to try to chronicle different styles of humor and their characteristics. This could become a very long topic that I continually come back to.

Reaction Humor - Best example: The Office. I consider reaction humor a unique type of humor because of where the comic beat falls. It falls upon the reaction and not the joke itself. The Office is the perfect example of this type of humor, where the Gervais or Carell character says or does something painful and we see the reaction of other characters (often multiple) and sometimes even the Gervais or Carell character himself. And the laugh generally comes from identifying with the uncomfortableness of the reacting characters - rather than anything objectively funny.

Observational Humor - Best example: Seinfeld/Curb. Did ya ever notice? This is the type of humor where you find yourself nodding your head in agreement, totally relating to the exact same situation because it undoubtedly happened to you at some point. Again, more of a subjective form of humor that relies on cleverness and aloofness as opposed to pain, which I think reaction humor relies on.

Clown Humor - Best example: Borat, but also Kramer. I could see Borat falling into a Gervais-like humor category based upon pain and discomfort and also relying upon reaction...however, I think there is a fundamental difference between when you laugh at Borat vs. when you laugh in the Office. I laugh AT Borat because of what he is doing. In the Office I'm laughing WITH the characters reacting to Gervais. When Borat is trying to take the wine glass from the wine taster - I don't relate to the wine taster, I'm laughing at the way Borat is interacting with the wine taster.

More to come later on....

Mike Meyers and Repetitive Humor
Dave Chapelle and Imitative Humor
Stephen Colbert/Chris Rock and Disguised Truth Humor
The Sopranos and Morbid Humor
Tina Fey and Wacky Humor
The Onion and Written Humor

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Good For the Dems

I'll give them props for not stopping funding or requiring an exit timetable.

I know this war is unpopular. And I might be the last liberal hawk on the planet. But I still believe in several things:

1. Wars aren't won and lost by opinion polls. I believe in Representative Democracy, not direct democracy. We elect a President and a Congress and they should make what they think are wise foreign policy decisions, not decisions based upon electoral popularity or what the rest of the world thinks.

2. Which brings us back to what is wise foreign policy. With respect to the Middle East, America has basically two options:

a. Support stability
b. Support reform

Supporting stability means helping those in power stay in power - in Iraq, in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt, in Iran, in Syria. It also means alienating another generation of young Arabs and giving them little option other than to suck it up and live in autocratic, repressive societies or turn towards radical Islam. It is the cheaper option of the two. And it is what most Americans now want. They want the headlines and the death to go away, get out of their face.

I, on the other hand, support reform. I support minority democratic movements in Iraq and Lebannon. I support representative government and not tyrannical regimes. Not only do I support it in moral principal, as most Americans do, but I support it in terms of America's financial and human resources. And I also believe we should continue to support, nurture, and protect these movements and send a firm message to potential democrats in the region - if you stand up, we'll stand by your side. We've never done that in the Middle East - ever. We've always sold them short so we could keep the oil flowing. And maybe those were the right decisions at the time. I just don't think they would be the right decision anymore. Maybe I'm being naive, but we've been blessed with a lot in this country and I think maybe we should be willing to sacrifice some of what we have so that others can have a similar opportunity.

3. Iraq is a keystone state in the region. This is not Vietnam, an irrelevant state from a world scale perspective. Iraq is in the heart of the most volitile region in the world, which also happens to be where 80% of the world's petrol reserves are.

4. Our need for oil is not going away anytime soon.

In order for me to admit defeat and want to leave Iraq, I guess you'd have to convince me that most Iraqis don't want us there. I am still under the impression that it is only a small minority of people committing the atrocities in Iraq, all of which are designed to make us leave. Otherwise, I'm down for sticking it out until there is a political solution whereby the majority of the insurgency puts down their weapons and together we all focus on rooting out the most radical elements, ie Al Queda.
Doesn't Katie Holmes Know?

That imitation is the greatest form of flattery...
Soft on Sex Offenders

I'm a hardass about certain things - doing homework in writing class, Islamic Terrorism, returning phone calls, but I'm soft on other things, and one of those things is sex offenders.

This may sound weird, but bear with...

When I say I'm soft and hard, I mean it in a relative sense. I get much more pissed off than my average classmate when others in a writing class do not read material (or turn in material) before class. It doesn't just annoy me - it angers me. With respect to Islamic Terrorism, I don't give a flying shit about their grievances or point of view, I think they're a bunch of childlike pussies playing religious fascists for sport. And I really don't like people not returning phone calls, so much so that I'll do retributive things like not call them on their birthday. (I actually don't think I've ever done that, but basically, I'm not really friends with people who don't return calls).

When it comes to sex offenders, I don't like them, but I certainly don't share the extreme ire our society has toward them. I see them as victims in need of rehabilitation and not people who deserve to be beaten to death.

I bring this up because I spent my entire day watching Law and Order Special Victims Unit shows at work. For those of you who don't know, the Special Victims Unit is "an elite squad who deals with crimes of a sexual nature, the most heinous in our criminal justice system..." or something to that effect.

I like Law and Order. It's a really well done show. Overdone, of course, but there's a reason it's like the most produced show in the history of procedurals...but the way it portrays sex criminals as the worst of the worst and the sheer terror it tries to instill in the audience at these criminals is pretty creepy. And the media does this well - I think we all fear sex criminals more than almost any other type of criminal, the idea that they take children or women who are innocent and helpless and do all sorts of awful things that are incomprehensible to the rest of us. Of the cases I saw today, there was a murderer who stabbed a woman in her vagina repeatedly, a man who kidnapped orphaned Katrina victims, an old man who molested and killed four young boys 20+ years ago, a parent who adopted a son only to have him killed and collect insurance money, a teenage mother who abandoned her incestously created baby, and a teenage mother who had her boyfriend beat her stomach to have an abortion. Wow, that's a lot.

Law and Order uses only a sparce amount of music and beats and does so really effectively, often creating quite intense moments of sheer creepiness when you realize the calculated and awful acts of these criminals.

Another show that really disturbs me is that Catch a Predator reality TV show where they stage traps for sex predators and then catch them while the host wags his finger in disgust at the humiliated criminal. The host acts self-righteous and horrified, even though he staged the entire thing.

I'm not defending the acts of sex predators. But why does our society get so up in arms about the whole thing? Even prisoners seem so far as sex offenders and rapists "get it" the worst in prison. We all seem to like this fact. It gives us some sort of secret warmth about the retributive nature of human beings.

Why does that comfort us? It's not as if it stops sex offenders from offending. We all know that sex offenders can't be fully deterred by being threatened prison or harsh punishment. We know that they were almost alway abused themselves as children. The pattern is more clear, I think, in this type of criminal than in any other type of criminal. So we know there is some sort of psychological explanation to the behaviour and yet we insist upon a retributive form of punishment - knowing full well it won't cure anything or deincentivize others from doing the same. It is almost as if we enjoy, in the cases of sex offenders, cruelty for cruelties sake.

We have millions of in this country who claim high moral ground for mistreatment of terrorist detainees and I'm guessing most of them would - if it were up to them - seriously consider cutting the balls off of sex offenders. Maybe I'm wrong.

But what about the crimes? What is the solution? I don't know. I just know we as a society hate sex offenders more than any other type of criminal and I don't think the statistics would bear out that sex offenses hurt society very much at all compared to other crime.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fundamentally Contrarian?

Is the Atlantic known as a contrarian magazine? Maybe that explains why I like it so much. Just read an interesting article summarizing recent historical writings on WWII and an increasing wave of historical sentiment which credits the Soviet Eastern Front as being the principal theater of the war. To put it in perspective, for four years 400 German and Soviet divisions clashed in the East whereas no more than 15 Allied and 15 German divisions clashed in the West at a time. 80% of German soldiers died on the Eastern Front. The premise of the article is that WWII is known as "The Good War," but the fact is, the war was decided upon by genocidal ferocity which the Germans and Russians waged against each other. One of the authors says Stalin's steadfastness and ability to radically change the Russian military after getting their asses handed to them in 1941 was the principal reason the allies won the war.

On another note, the main article this month is about the army interogators who led to the killing of Zarqawi. A perhaps uncomfortable fact is that they used the threat of being sent to Abu Gharib to scare informants...and it worked - because the informants knew they didn't want to go there.

It worries me a bit that I'm pretty sure the world is a whole lot uglier than many of us care to admit.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


The only problem with dancing is that it is incredibly stupid.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

ReThinking Middle East Policy

Some people say we need to get out of Iraq. Some people say we should have always just left them alone. How is that different from saying: We do not support democrats in the Middle East - who we all can agree are in the minority?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Belated Best Picture Vote

I don't know what movie I was rooting for this past year at the Oscars. I think I wanted United 93, but since it wasn't nominated, I may have ignored the best picture category. Anyway, I finally saw The Queen, which was the only one I didn't see in theaters and am now casting my vote for it as best picture of the year.

Admittedly, I am biased because I saw Stephen Frears speak at the DGA and it was a total delight...but the movie itself was, I thought, incredibly well done, had resonant themes, and painted a character that was different and yet familiar to me.

One of the greatest women I know is my grandmother - my father's mom who is from the same war generation as The Queen and Helen Mirran reminded me, in this movie, of my grandmother. Her quiet, almost immovable, strength. You just don't see that today. They way she carried herself, with dignity - it seems like such a stupid word, but how many people do you see around you that you can consider dignified? It's odd.

But the movie is also about something else, it's about how you react to what people think of you. To see this incredibly strong character being forced into acting against her will is pretty awesome. And then there are the two best parts of the movie - great acting and great filmmaking, where the Queen cries to herself and the camera is behind her, so we can't really see and into the stag....and then, the scene when she goes to see the flowers for Diana and asks the little girl if she can place the flowers down for her and the little girl says, "No. The flowers are for you."

I never cry in movies and this almost moved me to tears.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell

I know she's already leaving the View, but how are her comments on 9/11 Conspiracy Theories any less offensive that Don Imus or Michael Richards. I mean, come on...there are awful and hateful implications to what she is saying - much worse than any botched joke. I don't see how liberals can possibly feel comfortable attacking Imus the way they did and sit silent and let Rosie mouth off. What does it mean to be a liberal anymore?

And as far as debunking stereotypes, the young, hot, blonde is by far the smartest chick on the View.
Lindsay Lohan Has a New Beau

Some C-rate British celeb.

Phil and I have an ongoing debate about whether Lohan is a slut. He says yes, I say no.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How CNN is Turning into The Onion and Why I Love This Country

Watched the end of the Warriors season this evening and after it was over caught a bit on CNN. Apparently a cop in Dearborn, Michigan lost his job after he and his wife decided to use some of the pot he conviscated off a perpetrator. How did they catch him? He called 911 because he thought he and his wife might be dying. They played the phone call on CNN. It was absolute hilarity. The guy was worried the pot they baked into brownies was laced. He wanted help right away. He thought he and his wife might be dying, but she was just passed out on his lap. He kept asking the score of the Red Wings game because he wasn't sure if he was hallucinating or not.

What do I find so lovable about this situation? First, pot is illegal, but no one takes the law very the cop goes through his routine, but spots an opportunity to take advantage. But pot makes people stupid (which is basically why it's illegal) and the cop after smoking the pot, essentially gets himself into to trouble by being too paranoid (again a symptom of pot itself). But the topper is that the news - the news - plays this story, which plays like a comedy bit and Anderson Cooper acts like a stoner on air mocking the idiocy of the whole situation. There is some strange genius about a country whose laws and media interact in the way they did tonight.
A Proud Homophobe

Sullivan calls Kaus a proud homophobe.

Since I've been wrongly accused of being a homophobe, I feel as though I'll defend Kaus...although I really just defending myself.

I think a lot of the homophobia you see in places like LA coming from the highly educated crowd is a reaction to a gayafied city - more accurately - a gayafied industry. The entertainment industry has long been homo-friendly and at times been paranoidly assumed to be run by the gay mafia. This is not true, of course, but there is a certain fagginess about the entertainment industry which permeates not only the industry, but the entire Los Angeles upper middle to higher class scene.

It is the in-your-face-gayness of LA that makes the word homo more funny that derogative...even though there is certainly an element of both. But there is also an element of using homo self consciously because anyone using it in LA knows they are opening themselves up to critique. It is in many ways a futile reassertment of a masculinity that we all know no longer exists - the good ole boy no tolerating gays if we actually ever knew them - we didn't. Or at least I didn't.

Faggot is almost always said with some sort of intonation as if to indicate it is not being said with anger, but with some sort of tonal acknowledgment that we're not supposed to be saying it, but it's still fun to say...

Who knows? Is all the gay humor just a disguise for homophobia? I don't know. It seems to me more observation humor than anything else.
Goddammit I Hate That Shit

Click this link and you'll know what I mean.

I hate hot transvestites. They always get me to look and think - damn, she's hot. Goddammit. Fuck. A transvestite. Shit. Dammit. Man.

There was this place in San Francisco called Asia SF that had all these transvestite waiters/tress who would serve you blow job shots and other sexually themed concoctions. The females at my office seemed to get a huge kick out of my reactions to going to this place for happy hours. I hated it. Because you'd look across the room and sure they look slutty hot - but slutty hot is still hot and then you're like, fuck man, if I were drunk and in a regular-type place I could totally get Crying Game fooled.
The American Office

We've got them at work and they are a great pleasure to watch. My favorite episode thus far is Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. Excellent seeing the varying characters react to children in the office. Funny, touching, and sad.

Saw the replay from the end of the game last night. Real shame if Stoudemire and Diaw stay suspended for wandering off the bench towards the flare up. They didn't even get involved. This is one of those cases of intent of the rule vs. the actual rule. Let 'em play. Jeez.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Charlie Rose

Check out the website full of Charlie Rose interviews. He might be the greatest interviewer of our time.

I watched the Chris Hitchens interview. I love listening to the guy talk about Iraq.

Hitchens admitted that we will probably leave Iraq because of the mounting public pressure to do so. He says it will be yet another example of the US abandoning our friends in the region to slaughter. It will again demonstrate that in the Middle East it pays to an enemy of the United States much moreso than being our friend.

Rose asked a great question - why has Hitchens been so unsuccessful at convincing his intellectual friends that Iraq was/is worth it? And I thought Hitchen's response was interesting...most people want to wish away the problem of Iraq and more generally, the problem of the Middle East, Islamic Terror, and the United State's incompatability with totalitarian regimes. They would just rather not have to think about it. But history shows that the United States and more generally, free societies are incompatible with autocratic ones...eventually, although we try to avoid it, it does come down to bloodshed and war.

He argued we should've dealt with Saddam in 1991 but acknowledges if we had, we'd still be dealing and debating the fallout. A lot of people would be bitching about the high cost and American lives and criticizing how the United States handled the situation. But by delaying what he believed was inevitable - confrontation with Saddam - we only made the situation harder to deal with because Saddam stroked ethnic tensions for ten more years, the sanctions failed to weaken his grip on power, and he was able to slaughter many of his political opponents in the meantime.

In any case, the man is always interesting to listen to.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

Widespread Fear of Google

Interesting article.

I write on my blogger (owned by google) site.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Around dusk...

It was much bigger than this picture makes it seem.

Walking out onto my front porch, above the garages at my complex tonight, one couldn't miss the bright orange flames on the hills across the way. It was insane. The entire ridge smoking and flaming, all across Griffith Park. Is this what Tokyo looked like in early 1945?

I can't believe I all my cameras are broken or screwed up in some way.

I know it's a bad excuse not to be writing, but the heat makes it tough to be in the apartment, much less working. Not to mention basketball playoffs.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Jeez, that's bad enough to make you worry about the future...

I'm glad incompetence generally follows self pity.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

That's A Nice Thing to Say

The new French President says the US can always rely on their friendship.

I must admit, I'm a sucker for politeness and grace.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

If I Change My Position on Iraq

It will be based on the logic Sullivan outlines in this post.

Simply put, it won't be worth the risk/cost. Maybe the fact is, Iraqi (and more broadly, Arab) society simply isn't capable of functioning as a democracy or in a remotely fair and decent way. Say we were asked to invest 20 more years, fifty thousand lives and trillions of dollars and we had a 25% shot at success, I'd say No Way, let's get the f--- out and leave those douche bags to themselves and just whack them on the head if we think they get WMDs or if they work with terrorists.

And with respect to the WOT, the same thing, if it can be demonstrated that really this whole terrorism thing is a bunch of wealthy losers funding a small group of madman to create the perception of chaos...well, we've got to try to stop them, but not give them more credit than they know?

I just honestly don't know how a culture can be so good at creating chaos, pity, and civilian death and not be good at anything else.
Sports and Allegiance

Just talking to my sister and watching ESPN (I'm a big time double tasker) and I put some things together...I noticed Tim Hudson is 3-0 this year for the Braves. Hudson was my favorite player on the A's, back when he was on the A's. Now that he's on the Braves, I don't even follow him. In baseball and football, I follow the A's and the 49ers - no matter who they have on the team. I generally like the players on the teams or grow to like them. But when they leave, I don't really follow them - even my favorites - like Huddy.

But with soccer and basketball, it's different. I love players and follow and root the teams my favorite players are with. For instance, when I was little, I absolutely loved Magic Johnson. Next to Joe Montana, he was my favorite player in sports. I got in fights with kids at school who were Larry Bird fans. My favorite article of clothing at one time was my Lakers Starter jacket. I mistaked my love for Magic at the time for a love of the Lakers and I followed the Lakers into the Eddie Jones era, even though my heart really wasn't into it.

In soccer, my favorite player is Zindane and I followed his French teams and Juve and Real when he played with them. Also liked Berkamp a lot, Henry. I generally follow players and styles of play more than one particular club, although Aresnal is my favorite. In hoops these days, I'm a big fan of Nash. I also like Iverson. Love the way Golden State is playing in the playoffs, but feel like a bit of a poseur being a Golden State fan because I was never a huge one growing up. I can't help but get excited about these guys now, though.

Why is this? I think it has to do with the different style of games. Basketball and soccer are remarkably similar in the type of passing, movement, positioning, and space. They are free-flowing, unstructured games. When played immaculately, they transcend victory and turn into beauty - if not art. Baseball and football are much more structured and involve more strategy, planning, etc. They are more like battles of will and determination, representations of human accomplishment and building, but not really artistic.

I don't know, it might be a bunch of mumbo jumbo...but just some thoughts I had.
Most Memorable Movie Characters of My Lifetime

My movie lifetime starting with Return of the Jedi...

Not necessarily in any order -

1. Luke Skywalker. This one is tough because so many memorable characters from Star Wars - Chewy, Han Solo, Darth Vader. But I think Luke Skywalker is kinda the most memorable because he's the main character and Mark Hammil isn't associated with anything else other than Luke and paradoies of Luke.

2. Rocky Balboa. Toss up between this and Rambo, but I think Rocky is more memorable.

3. Gorden Gekko. Wall Street. Easy choice.

4. Jules from Pulp Fiction. Samuel L simply cannot play anything other than variations of this role anymore. It's as if the role took over his life.

5. Jack Sparrow. I've just been watching and re-watching Pirates. Goddamn is Depp watchable.

6. The Terminator.

7. Anne Wilkes in Misery. Not just an obligatory women, Kathy Bates had the performance of the year when this came out.

8. Kaiser Soze...a little credit also must be given to the serial killer in Se7en where Kevin Spacy in the span of a year or two had two of the most badass bad guy roles in my lifetime.

9. Tony Soprano. Okay, I know it's not a movie, but it's damn close and to me, he rivals Michael and Vito Corleone in American gangster lore.

10. The Big Lebowski. A cult figure for every frat guy and wannabe frat guy on earth.

I know I must be missing a ton. Thoughts?

Update: Obvious misses - Hannibal Lector, Indiana Jones.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Watched Pirates of the Carribean again last night. Johnny Depp is incredibly good in this movie. I didn't love this movie the first time I watched it. I still think it is overlong, has a lot of lame parts, and is only decently plotted.

BUT, the character of Jack Sparrow is a fantastic example of a writer-actor collaboration. This is an incredibly well conceived, fun, original character and then Johnny Depp nails it. From the point he's trapped on the desert island until the end, Depp single handedly carries this movie not unlike Dwayne Wade in last year's playoffs.

He was nominated for an Oscar for the part, so I'm not offering anything new here, but it's one of the few movies I will re-watch for a single performance. Can anyone think of another?

ps - last moment of the movie - incredible.
We Really Ought to Be Able to Exploit This

Sunni Tribes increased fighting against Al Queda in Iraq. Al-Masri reported dead.

If we were really smart, we'd parlay this into a political solution. Join forces with the Sunni insurgents to root out and kill Al Queda in exchange for fair representation in the Coalition government, protection from Shiia militias, and a gradual US troop pullout. Everyone wins.

I hope the Sunni tribes have finally come to accept that there is no way, under any circumstance, that they can return to minority power in Iraq. Even if the US left, the Shiia and Kurds are too strong to allow it.

We need to have high level discussions with the US, the Shiia, and the Sunni Tribes and explain the goals of each:

1. The US wants to leave, but we won't leave Iraq in chaos or in Civil War. We cannot and will not leave if the perception is that we ran away.

2. The Sunni need to convince their hardcore members that it is impossible to return to the status quo under Saddam. Simply impossible. But if they take advantage of the Coalition government, everyone in the long term will benefit. We're talking generations. The Sunnis want to ensure they will be protected from slaughter if they put down their arms.

3. The Shiia need to be willing to forgive. They must be happy with having more power than they have had in generations and forswear reprisals to avoid civil war.

Where is a national political leader that has the ability to sell this idea to the people?