Friday, January 29, 2010

Awkward Phrasing

"Obama Will Give You $2,500 To Go To School."

Really? It seems to me the future taxpayers are paying for it, not Obama himself. The headline ought to read - "The US Government Will Force Your Future Self To Give You $2,500 To Go To School." Something very strange about how suddenly everything seems to be about Obama -- the line that struck me as weird in the State of the Union "I WON'T QUIT." Gee, really. Is this something that needs to be stated? If someone in my office went around saying "I WON'T QUIT," my immediate reaction would be, "Were you considering it?"

And quit what? When I'm being sexually harassed (which happens a surprising amount, dear reader) and the harasser says, "I WON'T QUIT," it isn't exactly what I was hoping for. Or when we're talking about the President spending my tax money to bail out Wall Street Bankers who were taking unnecessary risks and he says, "I WON'T QUIT," again, it's not something I'm pleased with. Or "I WON'T QUIT," holding beer summits. See...the whole "I WON'T QUIT," presumes he's doing the right thing. In which case, it is pretty much a statement of the obvious.
The "Situation"

Ab-shots work for men on dating sites. If you have good abs, that is.
Are You Kidding?

Obama administration is looking into the legality of the BCS.

Jesus, you'd think they have something more important to do. Didn't Obama make a joke about this during the campaign? Oh vey.

I could see myself starting to drink it.

When I was young, my grandparents used to come visit from Chicago every Christmas for a week or two. I remember every day at 6pm, they'd each grab a glass of bourbon with ice and a splash of water, some form of salty snack, and watch the news. Our generation will never develop this habit as we all get our news via email and twitter and blogs.

Our loss.
What a Phony

From LeVine News.

BIN LADEN BLASTS U.S. FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has called for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming, according to a new audiotape released Friday. In the tape, broadcast in part on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden warned of the dangers of climate change and says that the way to stop it is to bring "the wheels of the American economy" to a halt. He blamed Western industrialized nations for hunger, desertification and floods across the globe, and called for "drastic solutions" to global warming, and "not solutions that partially reduce the effect of climate change." Bin Laden has mentioned climate change and global warning in past messages, but the latest tape was his first dedicated to the topic. The speech, which included almost no religious rhetoric, could be an attempt by the terror leader to give his message an appeal beyond Islamic militants.

This guy is such a douche bag. He doesn't give a shit about climate change or hiroshima or any of this shit. He's a loser trying to be popular by glomming on to cheap anti-Americanism. Too bad he's just charismatic and rich enough to get other losers to sign on with him and kill themselves and as many of us as possible.

Interesting Time article on Saliger. Hat tip, Phil.

Money bit:

Here's his character Franny Glass outlining the dilemma of someone like Salinger who wants to abandon the ego, the will to "succeed."

"Just because I'm so horribly conditioned to accept everybody else's values, and just because I like applause and people to rave about me, doesn't make it right. I'm ashamed of it. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody. I'm sick of myself and everybody else that wants to make some kind of a splash."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One 'Dem Good Problems

There are such things as good problems such as "What do I do with all this money?" or "I can't decide which hot chick to bone" or "Should I go to Europe or South America for summer vacation." See? These are good problems.

Are the problems in American today actually "good problems?"

Certainly not superficially. We feel broke. We feel like we're involved in two endless wars. We've got massive pressure on the middle class from jobs, to college cost, to healthcare cost to retirement costs. But let me posit another thesis - all of these problems are actually good problems.

Healthcare. The reason healthcare is a problem is cost. But the reason it costs so much is that we have some really awesome procedures, knowledge, and technology that allows us to live a lot longer. Living longer is more expensive than dying young.

Take the example of Lasik surgery. It is costly, something like $5000. For a middle class person, that is a lot of money. I personally could use Lasik, but don't want to spend the money. Is this a tragedy? No. Can you imagine someone with awful eyesight from the 1930s being launched into the future and explaining this problem to him. "The problem is this - I'm a low paid Hollywood assistant. It really isn't practical for me to get this medical procedure that would be useful. I'd have to save up a bunch of money for like a year or two and maybe even borrow a little from my parents..."

"Hold on a minute...what is this procedure you need?"
"Lasik surgery. It fixes your eyesight."
"What do you mean, fixes your eyesight? Like a pair of glasses? Are glasses that expensive now?"
"No, no. You get a laser procedure that gives you 20/20 vision. No glasses. It literally fixes your vision."
"You mean, so you can see perfectly?"
"How much does this cost?"
"$5000. A couple months salary."
"So you're telling me you can completely fix your eyesight for the rest of your life at the cost of a couple months salary."

A good problem.

To be continued...

This is the best article I've read on the Middle East in years. It reframes 9/11, America's role, and all the subsequent events- ie Iraq, etc through the lens of Arab politics and how Arab security services use terrorist groups and Islamic organizations to further their own regional goals.

I'm reading the book.
Word of Mouth

Did you hear about the itablet?

Three people already today.

Why do people get such a boner over Apple? Whatever IT is, Apple has it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Tidbits from the Hillary campaign. They tried to use race as a factor. Had the Republicans tried to pull this, Democrats would be flying out of their seats in anger. Why the double standard?

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Few Images From PV

Steriod Externality

It is obvious many if not the majority of NFL players are on steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. Beyond the obvious ethical issues of cheating, the issue of being role-models, and long term health questions, there is another problem - they are making the game too violent. Not only are the guys who take the 'roids shrinking their balls and giving themselves teenager-like acne, the speed and strength these drugs collectively give to the players are causing the game to be become too fast and too violent. Did you see how hard Favre and Warner were getting hit by the Saints defenders? Everyone knows I sports hate Favre, but he was taking an absolute beating out there in the 1st quarter. Safeties were flying in on delayed blitzes - it looked like a car accident. Combine astroturf, the good pads, the raw talent, and mix in the juice, and these guys are going too fast. They modified the rules to protect the QB and the pass interference rules to protect the receivers, but these are bad fixes to bigger problem. A) they are not good for the flow of the game and b) they are bandaid solutions to larger problems of inhuman speed and strength caused by performance enhancing drugs.
New Problem, Same Solution

Whereas Republicans seems to think the answer to every economic problem is a tax cut, Democrats seems to think the answer to every economic problem is...also a tax cut.

Both parties are basically BIG and BIGGER government. The solution to basically every single economic problem in the last several years is - spend more borrowed government money and cut taxes/give credits to disgruntled other groups.

Am I the only one who thinks this is just shifting balances to new credit cards?

Iraq spent 85 mil on phony bomb detecting devises.

Don't you think you'd check such a devise before spending that much money on them? Hat tip, Naveen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Even I was surprised by the ineptitude of Brett Favre at the end of the NFC Championship. Twelve men on the field after a timeout while in field goal range? Alex Smith ugly. A throw across your body interception when you need six yard for a field goal try? Did he skip quarterback 101? Rex Grossman wouldn't even do that. What is wrong with the Vikings? What a spaz of a team. Two interceptions, another throw that hit the hands of a Saints defensive back, five fumbles, three of them lost?

Here are two prescient articles from two years ago.

1. Brett Favre: Another Awful Performance In a Big Loss
2. Overhyped: Favre didn't deliver in second half of career

Today wasn't an aberration. It is a pattern. From two years ago:

In two of his last four postseason appearances, Favre threw two of the most unthinkable playoff interceptions in NFL history, both in overtime -- to Brian Dawkins of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003 and to Corey Webster of the New York Giants in January.

Add in today's interception and last year's Jet's total four of the last six seasons, Favre single-handedly ended his team's season. I'm not even talking about having a subpar or mediocre game or not rising to the level of a champion. I'm talking about straight up choking-did-the-mob-pay-you-to-throw-the-game bad plays.

Notice the Jets this year. Sanchez is by no means a good quarterback, but the guy got the Jets to the AFC title game. Favre didn't even get them to the playoffs last year.

Saints-Vikings was a weird, ugly, dramatic game.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


DRONES SLAM PAKISTAN: Pakistani militants are under heavy fire from drone attacks in response to their suspected involvement in an attack on a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan that killed seven Americans. According to the New York Times, the CIA have carried out 11 strikes, killing about 90 suspected militants, since the December 30 attack, including a raid on a mud fortress that killed 17 people and a second missile attack that killed at least 20.

Make 'em pay, boys!
Long Titles

Generally, long titles for movies don't work. Example - Master and Commander: Far Side of the World. Great movie, bad title. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Have you ever heard of anyone referring to Pirates by it's full title? There is one exception, however, coming up:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

I really like this title. It makes the movie sound like a 70s funk Parliment rip-off. I might even see it just because of the title.

A good article on why McDonalds is a good stock investment. I am a complete buy-and-hold person. I like to do my due diligence on things and commit to a good value and just ride out the storm. I hate gimmicks and trends. As Chris Rock says, I'm liberal about some things and I'm conservative about some things. With investing, I'm conservative.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Special Comment - Keith Olbermann's Name-Calling
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

One of the funniest John Stewart bits I've seen. Stewart is one of the better ones we have these days...I suppose many noticed this before me...but I can safely say, he holds all jackasses to account, not just Republican ones, and you gotta respect that.

And Olbermann is a jackass. A huge jackass. I don't care anymore about his ESPN creds. The guy and Rachel Maddow are so full of snark, it makes you want to conk their heads together like Larry and Mo. Where did they get the idea that they're the smartest people in the room? Have liberals descended so far that just spouting the party-line with a little flash passes for intellect? When did being liberal become so dull?
Honda CR-V

When I was a little kid, I wanted my first car to be a Honda CRX. By the time I was 16 I grew out of love with the CRX and through no choice of my own, drove a Pontiac Station Wagon. The new Honda CR-V looks pretty cool.

Statistics on why women earn less than men.

Their conclusion: while gender discrimination may be a minor contributor to the male-female wage differential, it is desire — or the lack thereof — that accounts for most of the wage gap.

So it's by choice.
Jersey Shore

The best line of the season, "I'm not angry because Mike pulled a prank on me, I'm angry because he wasted two pickles."

Thanks, Snooks. I turned off the final episode midway through because I simply could not watch any more commercials. What is wrong with MTV? It's like talk radio and the end of NBA games. There are more commercials than show. I really don't care enough. Jersey Shore is funny, at times, but they milk out 3 good moments per episode for an entire hour. It isn't really worth it.

Sammi is now my least favorite person of the show. How fucking boring is she? How retarded is her reaction to Ronnie being locked up in jail? "Now I have to sleep alone tonight." Are you serious? Your boyfriend is in jail. JAIL! And you're self-pitying about sleeping by yourself. Sammi sucks. She sucks on a level so deep, she can never stop sucking. It is a good lesson on being careful what you wish for...being treated as the hot chick for a certain amount of time makes people unbearable. This, I think, happened to Sammi.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is Snooki. What a disaster. I'd give her about 10% odds of living a half decent life. Bear in mind, she has a 10% chance of killing herself also. Maybe not. Maybe I'm being too harsh. She sometimes displays a bit of character. But man, is it depressing to watch her at times.

I want to like J-Woww more than I do. It was funny her reaction to seeing a few "Gorillas" on the beach. She got all amped up and stoked her boyfriend wasn't around to go find some juiceheads. Hilarious. What is wrong with these people?

I like Pauly. Everyone likes Pauly. There is a certain lesson in his character as well, though. He gets looped into hanging out with the crazy Israeli chick even though he doesn't like her. It's the nice-guy syndrome. He's too nice and allows himself to get sucked in by her weirdness. He can't just be asshole to her. Or maybe he likes her, I don't know.

Ronnie is a bore.

The Situation-Vinnie developed into an interesting rivalry. The Situation is such a creep, pulling a "robbery" on Vinnie. What a strange, strange dude.
Feud Brewing?

Rumors of a Clippers-Lakers feud?

I would love this and side with the Clippers, but even I'm not delusional enough to think this rumor has any merit...

...unless LeBron came to the Clippers.
Bob Lawblog's Lawblog (Twitter Account)...

...gets death threats for making fun of Michelle Obama.

Good god, first NBC pays Conan 45 mil to not make fun of him, now death threats for Scott Baio. When did we become so humorless?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

If You Need Another Example

Of incompetent American elites -

I haven't been following the NBC-Conan-Leno saga because, well, who really gives a shit...but as far as I can tell this is the sequence of events:

NBC decides to cut costs by dropping in Leno at 10pm followed by Conan at 11pm. Who would watch two hours of this kind of TV...I don't know (note - isn't there a late, late night guy as well? So really - who would watch 3 hours of this kind of tv?) This brilliant experimental plan was hatched and they doled out enormous contracts to both men. Then 6 months into the plan, it becomes apparent it is a total bust and all the NBC affiliates are losing audience share both in their 10, 11, and 12 o'clock slots. Not only did the plan fail, it had reverberate effects on other programming surrounding the show.

So what does Zucker and NBC do? Blame Conan. Act all weird and secretive and make behind closed door decisions about Conan. Alienate Conan. Piss him off. Then fire him, but leave him on the air to talk shit about NBC for two weeks. Then pay him $45 million to NOT work and get out of the contract, and the only stipulation NBC seems to get out of it - Conan isn't legally allowed to make fun of NBC anymore. I didn't realize you could get paid NOT to make fun of a TV Network. Jesus. I want that job. NBC can pay me a cool mil and I'll never make fun of them again. And that goes for anyone who reads Public Musings. I can be bought. For 1 million dollars I will not make fun of you. I'm cheaper than Conan.

If I could vote for NBC Presidents, I'd vote for the other guy.
A Race to the Bottom Part II

My postings on female movie directors stirred up major anxiety from female readership.

Now, some loony dude is trying to make an all-white basketball league.

"There's nothing hatred about what we're doing," he said. "I don't hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here's a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like."

Lewis said he wants to emphasize fundamental basketball instead of "street-ball" played by "people of color." He pointed out recent incidents in the NBA, including Gilbert Arenas' indefinite suspension after bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room, as examples of fans' dissatisfaction with the way current professional sports are run.

"Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?" he said. "That's the culture today, and in a free country we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction."

Notice the arguments in favor of a white-only basketball team mirror exactly the arguments for making more female movies by female directors. I don't see how proponents of affirmative action can argue against a white-only basketball league or against quotas for white-american NBA players. Sometimes it takes a loon to demonstrate the absurdity of a belief-set.
Let's Be Clear

Tariq Ramadan
is being allowed to enter the US after years of denial. He is the most influential and visible European member of the Muslim Brotherhood. And let's be clear - he is one of the bad guys.

This is typical of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is eager to use the freedoms that would never exist under the caliphate is so desires to create, in order to promote its totalitarian vision. It demands the right to be heard while being unequivocal in its unwillingness to view as equal anyone who does not embrace its view radical Islamism. While it is willing to use the democratic process to achieve its goals, often putting it at odds with militantly violent groups such as al Qaeda, in the end the Brotherhood and Osama bin Laden share an identical vision of what the world should look like under Allah's rule.

Whereas Al Queda is like the movie studio, providing infrastructure, ideology, and money for terrorism (Hamas, Hizbollah, etc being competing studios), the Muslim Brotherhood is like the theater chains, exhibitioners of radical political ideology the world over. They create a framework and space and opportunity for Islamic radicalism to grow and get their message out. Every step of the way, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood tries to deflect attention away from fighting radicals and instead whispers into our ears things we ought to be doing differently. The most visible group in the US is CAIR - the Counsel of American-Islamic Relations - who the minute a new terrorist attack occurs is the first people on TV warning against racial profiling or US overreaction. You might think a self-reflective Islamic organization would ask themselves why so many young Muslim men and woman are attracted to Islamic Radicalism...or why Muslim grievances lead to murderous rage followed by celebration in communities in Palestine, Pakistan? You might think an Islamic organization interested in being peaceful, democratic, and at ease with the rest of the world would be at the forefront of fighting radicalism. You might think they would condemn terrorism and turn in radical members of their own organization. Or call murder and assassinations what they are - as opposed to "acts of justice." You might think they'd stop funding Hamas and stop blaming the West for acts of aggression against the West by Islamic Radicals.

But, they don't. Because that's what friends would do and enemies would not. Does the Obama administration understand this? I hope so. And I hope this is a godfather like tactic to bring our enemies closer. But I do wonder...
War Against Suburbia

An interesting analysis of the environmental movement against suburbia.

Politics are sets of interests vs. other sets of interests. I don't trust it when it's framed any other way. This article does a good job of exposing "environmental" policies for what they are - city-centric interests vs. suburban/rural interests.

TALIBAN OVERHAUL IMAGE TO WIN ALLIES: The Taliban have embarked on a sophisticated information war, using modern media tools as well as some old-fashioned ones, to soften their image and win favor with local Afghans as they try to counter the Americans' new campaign to win Afghan hearts and minds. The Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, issued a lengthy directive late last spring outlining a new code of conduct for the Taliban. The dictates include bans on suicide bombings against civilians, burning down schools, or cutting off ears, lips and tongues.

Wow. A ban on burning down schools and cutting off ears...that's what passes as sophisticated these days. Too bad I'm such a heathen and don't practice such things...
30 Rock Is Back

I just caught up on the last couple episodes and really enjoyed them. Don't Lemon-It!

Cerie is looking a lot less hot for some reason. What happened? And yes, the show still swings and misses a lot. Jokes miss. But 30 Rock goes up to the plate and takes big cuts.

Parks and Rec good as usual. Loved the one-off character Aziz finds for Ron Swanson's assistant. And excellent idea for Rashida Jones plotline with cool dude she is "saving."

Two best sit-coms on tv are female protagonists and are not really chick-shows. These funny girls are rocking the stereotype that chicks aren't funny. Good for them.
Where Tony Blankley Is Wrong

Generally on Left, Right, and Center I am sympathetic to Tony Blankley. It isn't always his positions, but more his approach to argument that is normally based upon facts and answering the questions posed vs. Bob who goes off on nutty tangents and talking points. But catching up on last week's episode, he argued it was none of his business how the banks run themselves and the idea of the federal government having a permanent say over the bank business after the bailout is a bad idea. In short, he didn't think it mattered or was any of our business about the huge bonuses being paid out, especially because most of the banks paid back the taxpayers already.

I disagree.

Tony advocated the bank bailout because to not do so would have resulted in world wide financial crisis. When North Korea and Pakistan ask for this type of money from us, we call it what it is: blackmail. The banks blackmailed us for short term, no-interest, no strings attached, loans. They threatened us with worldwide economic catastrophe unless we bailed them out.

In most cases of blackmail, the issue isn't the money. When a tourist is kidnapped and threatened to be killed for $30,000, if you look at the calculation and say, is this person's life worth $30,000? The answer is always yes, especially if you can afford it. The blackmailers know this. North Korea argues - isn't it worth it for you guys to pay us millions of dollars so we don't build nukes? Or in the case of Pakistan, billions of dollars, so we don't let the Islamic Crazies take over. Yes, if you look at each individual case as a single issue, it is worth it to pay the people off.

The problem is that you create a moral hazard. You create a framework for blackmailers to continue the practice. That is why North Korea has built several nuclear bombs, despite paying them not to. It is why Pakistan continues to let the Islamic Crazies operate, despite paying them to fight. It is why tourists got kidnapped in Colombia for 25 years. And it is why the banks will continue to recklessly lend money and reward risky behavior. Because they know they have a bailout option. It's like telling a gambler to bet the rent on the NFL Playoffs. If he wins, he keeps the money and hails himself a genius for knowing what others didn't. If he loses, he puts his hat out and asks for his rent money from the Federal Government. And we give it to him. If I need to explain why this is unhealthy and unsustainable, well, I give up.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What To Make Of Scott Brown?

I was out of the country and returned to noise of Scott Brown, Scott Brown. I've caught a little up on the story and am trying to interpret the meaning of his election. I don't think it's about healthcare or a referendum of Obama or a conservative movement or the Republican resurgence or the Democrats ineptitude. All of these things might be contributing causes, but I think there is a larger mega-trend going on, a trend that became painfully clear last fall and it coalescing right now -

America no longer trusts our elite.

There is a natural resistance to elites in any society and certainly in American society with our pull ourselves up by our bootstraps conception of self. Normally this manifests itself as class resentment and/or questions of fair allocation to resources and opportunity, etc. But what's going on right now is something much different -

Americans - rightfully so - no longer believe our elites know what they're doing.

It's not that America objects to elites - we need our best and brightest to run complicated institutions and prefer to have smart, well-spoken, good tempered men and women exercising political power. We love our sports stars to be the best, we want to watch the number 1 movies and tv shows, we want our companies to be the most well run with the most profits, we want our army to kick ass, we want to be number 1. And we don't object to paying for all this. We know it is preferable to stupid, irrational fools running the show. But what's become painfully clear in the past two years is that our elites are an insular, self-protecting, irresponsible, and cowardly lot. No one gets fired for doing awful jobs. No one takes responsibility for their own mistakes. We have cultivated a cultural of elitism who only cares about preserving their own status and that of their friends and family and American - as a whole - is suffering and now angry.

In the political arena - Barack Obama was elected President because of an overwhelming dissatisfaction with the candidates in both parties. Year after year we see the same faces exercising political power across America because there are incredible institutional and financial benefits to incumbent candidates. It isn't about political is about incumbency. Incumbents win 90% of all elections. The only way we get rid of these people in any meaningful way, is by term limits or retirees or death. Politicians know this. It is why they talk in circles and take safe or no positions and cover their asses. They are fighting for their job and they, like a public school teacher in the union, know so long as they don't totally fuck up and run off with a mistress to Argentina or get caught sleeping with prostitutes or smoking crack, they'll probably get re-elected. Or wait, even if those things happen, they still have a 50/50 shot. Obama won the democratic primary because people were sick and tired of the Clintons and the Bushes and other representations of political dynasties - where these career politicians beg and assuage us with just enough promise to do a little, not rock the boat too much, and toss in a little dab of fear to get their 51 or 52% of the vote. The mess in Iraq and the financial crisis rocked our confidence in our political elites and made us long for something new.

Scott Brown is a continuation of this trend. He was not voted in because we're sick of Obama. We're sick of status quo and heads need to roll.

It is elsewhere, too.

Who trusts newspapers? The entire reason I have a blog and that blogging exists is because of the colossal failure of the newspaper industry to provide information - good, truthful, timely information - to it's customer base. They slacked, tried to get clever and make a ton of money with mergers and cost-cutting and synergies and all that crap and then: BOOM. 9/11 hit and everyone wanted answers and information and to know where the fuck Afghanistan was and all you could get from most of the newspapers around the country were AP reports and a Tom Friedman op-ed. So what happened? Blogs. And then what happened? Newspapers go bankrupt. Why? Because they didn't maintain their core competency. Because the elites running the newspaper industry got too caught up trying to be big-shots and weren't just content being sources of information to consumers. And then they protected themselves when the walls started crashing and blaming technology and the internet and doing everything except figure out how to get and report good information.

The financial industry. Supposedly the heartbeat of world capitalism. The puppeteers of capital flow, enriching us and the rest of the world via easy access to cash for trustworthy businesses. Turns out they were used car salesmen trying to pass on broken cars to the next fool. Everyone knew about the shadiness, no one stood up and did anything about it and they let it get to the absolute crisis point where the world financial system is about to crash and they call up their people in Washington with their hat in their hand begging for a bailout.

The intelligence industry. Can't figure out how to stop a group of 1000 or less Islamic Fanatics from attacking the United States over 10 times in the past 20 years. Our best defense against these guys seems to be their own stupidity.

I could go on. But the point is - no one is getting fired. Our CIA people are the same bozos that didn't pick up on 9/11 before it happened and can't stop a stupid 23 year Nigerian kid from almost blowing up a plane. The financial industry titans dare to reward their executive class with billions in bonuses after the taxpayers protected their nest eggs by propping up failed institutions. All around, all Americans see are their friends and families losing jobs because our overall economy is sick and predicated on debt. Meanwhile, the elites, who don't NEED the money, hang onto positions of power through networks of cronyism and favoritism and glad-handing and they can't run companies or the country.

When I worked at a litigation consulting company at age 24, a team of us could have built a tracking database system that would have caught the Nigerian terrorist trying to board a plane. There were so many opportunities to flag him. And if we failed, we would get fired and hired by a more competent consulting company. Yet, 10 years after 9/11 and who knows how many billion dollars spent on security, we don't have a simple system that can do the same?

I could go on, but I'm tired. But this is why people voted for Scott Brown.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


SI gives USC a D in their coaching hire.

In an attempt to replicate the Pete Carroll era, USC hired an immature 34-year-old who's gone 12-21 as a head coach. Football insiders seem to respect Kiffin, but it says something when the new coach's biggest calling card is the assistants (his father, defensive coordinator Monte, and defensive line coach/recruiting czar Ed Orgeron) that came with him. It feels desperate and shortsighted.

I'm not happy with the Kiffin hire. But a 12-21 head coaching record. Yikes. But then again, I thought Sanchez and Favre would implode each of their respective teams by now, but they're both in the final four.
Expensive Joke

The Wizards may use Arenas gun incident as a way to get out of his ridiculous contract.

It could cost the guy 80 million bucks. Sorry, Gilbert, but I ain't losing any sleep over it.
Los Angeles

We are under tornado watch per the National Weather Service. Whoa. Never thought that would happen.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


VDH slams the taboo subjects no one is comfortable talking about.

1) Illegal Immigration and California

To summarize - illegal immigration is costing the state a lot money. It is one of the reasons we are bankrupt.

2) Iraq

The surge worked. Will it's opponents recognize it?

3) Affirmative Action

It is a sick system. It benefits middle class blacks and hispanics (who just get lumped in with mexicans) and disadvantages asians of all financial backgrounds. He sums it up best:

It provides psychological alleviation of guilt, without the need to be tutoring in the ghetto, sending your kids to a mostly Hispanic school, or living among the lower classes.

4) The Ivy League is a Naked Emperor

You can get as good an education at San Jose St as Stanford or the Ivies if education is the goal. What the Ivies provide is the network and contacts - such an education should now be considered the equivalent of a debutante ball.

5) The “Middle East” is a Fraud

The grievances we hear about land in Israel and Palestine are a crock. There are tons of historically disputed lands all around the world from Europe to Africa and no one blows themselves up over it.

Summary -

He brings up a point about Iraq I never thought about before...the opponents of the war always argued it was about oil. Really? Why then has the price of oil gone up since the invasion? How come America isn't getting rich off Iraqi oil? Opponents of the war love to bring up the WMD point - there were no WMDs - ipso facto the war was unjust. But then what was the war about? Oil? If the war was about oil, then why hasn't oil gotten cheaper? Where is the ipso-facto?

Fact is, we didn't control either of these things. We didn't know for a fact Saddam had WMDs. We now know, he was making an elaborate deception that he had WMDs so Iran wouldn't mess with him. Ironic, yes. But lies by the Bush Administration. No. Incompetent intelligence. Yes...although not totally incompetent. Saddam played his hand like he had something. He didn't. But was it worth the risk if he did? And aren't there external benefits to him being out of power. I think so.
What We Need Is...

...more failure?

I'm moving over from NPR to ESPN radio for the morning ride to work. Colin Cowherd was talking today about why American Idol is a great show. *disclaimer - I do not watch* He argued, American Idol isn't about the singing. It is about winners and losers. America, he said, is a country of winners and losers. It is full of pain and desperation, but also full of people rise above it because they are hungry to succeed. You want to live in a country where everyone makes 36,000 a year and gets health coverage? Go to Canada. Go to Scandinavia. You want a country where a poor ass kid from backwards Georgia struggles for years to practice guitar so she can get one shot at American Idol and knock the socks off Mary J. Blige? Come to America. You want to see kids from the ghetto make it as NBA and NFL superstars, come to America. He argued, it is the pain and desperation and competition that makes people become the best. Because they have to. He says we love sports and competition reality shows and all this stuff because we see this drama play out. We love seeing underdogs with chips on their shoulder beat favorites. We love seeing guys who come from nothing and work their asses off for years and years for one shot at making it against the best competition in the world.

Interesting points. It got me thinking about the financial industry bail out, the mortgage bailout, the stimulus, and all of it. It strikes me, as a country, we all of sudden became afraid of failure. Let me ask this -

So what if the entire world financial industry collapsed? How difficult would it be to re-grow it? Seriously. It isn't some sort of black magic secret how the system ought to operate. You borrow money at X rate and loan it out X+1 rate. If you make money, you survive. If you lose, money, you don't. Maybe I'm being glib or flippant or ignorant here. But since when did it become so vital to preserve particular institutions? Since when did we become so afraid of failure? Hasn't anyone seen that Dwayne Wade commercial? The one where he keeps getting knocked down. And then the music rises and it says something along the lines, "It isn't how many times you fall..." and rises...and then there are shots of him getting off the floor..."it's how many times you rise."

Boom. Maybe what we need is a little more failure and little less bail out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

From the UK to the US

A rather nice letter from a Briton.

Yes, this is the bright secret of life in the United States: Americans are not just friendly and polite — they are also charming. And the most charming thing of all is that it rarely looks like charm. The French put a rather charmless emphasis on charm, are consciously or unconsciously persuaded that it is either part of a display of sophistication or — and it may amount to the same thing — a tool in the service of seduction.

Er, thanks...
Who Are We Getting?

What a bummer Pete Carroll left USC. Why in the world he would do this -- I haven't a clue. Head coach of USC football is basically the best job on the planet. It'd be like inheriting prime California coastal real estate and then finding an oil well in your backyard and being blessed with a hot body. USC is at a competitive advantage in relation to all the other Pac-Ten schools. Here is USC's pitch to the vast pool of Southern California talent:

1. Historically, we are the top 1-2 programs in the entire country.
2. Here is our Heisman trophy cabinet.
3. Here is our list of alumni playing in the NFL
4. You are close to home.
5. We have the best looking chicks in the conference.
6. We have a gigantic stadium that can fit 80,000 people.
7. We are in LA and you WILL party with movie starlets and Kobe Bryant.

No other Pac-Ten school can claim any of these things.

Why would Pete Carroll leave? My theory:

1. He can't imagine coaching a team with Matt Barkley as quarterback for another season, let alone three.
2. He seeks revenge on Mark Sanchez.
3. He's sick of dealing with guys who think they're more talented than they are like Joe McKnight.
4. He lost all his trustworthy assistant coaches.
5. His best players are jumping ship for the NFL - Damien Williams

All true. But Carrol built up the program from mediocrity and into the most exciting program in the country (until Tebow came along). All his coaches got sucked away from him, true, but none of them are very successful once they leave. Couldn't he get Norm Chow to return if Kiffin can? And plus - Seattle? They suck. Why would he go to Seattle? He's going to get beaten up by the Niners and Arizona for another couple of years.

And now we have Lane Kiffin and the hatred coming out of Tennessee is palpable.

If there were a stock car race between all the frauds, egomaniacs and two-faced weasels I've ever covered, Lane Kiffin would have the pole position all to himself.

Kiffin is a spin doctor without a medical degree. He thinks truth comes in different shades of gray. He demands loyalty, but gives none himself.

Kiffin is a used car salesman with a whistle. Wait, that's not fair to used car salesmen. He ditched Tennessee for USC after just 13 games. The remaining five years on his contract, the players he left behind, the nine high school recruits who planned to enroll early, they all meant nothing to Kiffin.

According to someone who was in the room, the Tuesday night farewell meeting between Kiffin and the Tennessee players was "very, very, very hostile." Kiffin told them that coaches come and go, that USC was his dream job. The players, orphaned after less than 14 months, responded angrily.

If not for interim coach Kippy Brown, who calmed the players down after Kiffin's appearance, the tension and anger could have redlined. Put it this way: Kiffin is lucky no one took a swing at him. That was the level of betrayal felt by the players in that meeting room.

Not a good sign. I don't like this guy already.
Racism Ain't What It Used to Be

On the pathetic-ness of Reid's "racism."

Racist remarks just aren’t what they used to be. In 1976, on an airplane, the singer Pat Boone asked Earl Butz, President Gerald Ford’s Secretary of Agriculture, why there were so few black Republicans. Butz replied that “the only things the coloreds are looking for in life is a tight pussy, loose shoes, and a warm place to shit.” (Or, as the New York Times put it in Butz’s obituary in 2008, “satisfying sex, loose shoes, and a warm bathroom.”) Now that is what I call a racist remark. It was deliberate, insulting, vulgar, cruel. And it didn’t even answer the question. If all you wanted in life were these three items, the Republican party might be just your foot size.

To be fair, it doesn't sound all that bad to me, but I'm easy to please.

On Meth.

"It Is Not A Recreational Drug. It Is Death"
Oh Boy

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How About Better Jobs Instead?

A new bill -

Decades ago, poor children became known as "disadvantaged" to soften the stigma of poverty. Then they were "at-risk." Now, a Washington lawmaker wants to replace those euphemisms with a new one, "at hope."

God forbid they do what we pay them to do and actually, you know, govern effectively. I swear the best argument for big government is provide value to the customers. Not this type of nonsense.
Who Cares?

Republicans are making a mountain out of a molehill over Harry Reid's "racist statement."

Republicans look for liberal utterances of racially-tinged commentary in the same way liberals long for an innocent man to be executed to prove the unfairness of the death penalty. They are like the holy grails of hypocrisy.

But honestly, who really cares?

Monday, January 11, 2010

One Day It'll Be Red Meat

I heard Rush Limbaugh on Jay Leno a couple months ago talk about why he feared government take over of health-care. He thought that once government gets their hands on healthcare, it'll incentivize government to make all sorts of lifestyle requirement on the citizens. They'll tell us to stop eating transfats (or else health insurance goes away), or calories, or sodas, or salt. By the way - NY Dept of Health is already doing it, see link.

One day it'll be red meat.
I'm In the Wrong Business

CNN's list of 25 big movies to look forward to in 2010.

I can safely say I am looking forward to NONE of these movies. Can the studios even make a non-Michael Mann movie for me to get excited about? Jesus.
But He Won't Give the Money Back

McGwire regrets using steroids, but I'm sure he won't be giving the money back.

I'm not generally a fan of "reparations," as it is pretty difficult to calculate who is owed what after the fact. But it could be said the fans were ripped off by baseball during the steroid era and the players and owners got money as a result. Then again, did the fans really get ripped off? They enjoyed themselves watching McGwire hit those 70 home runs. Of course, that's sort of like telling Elin Nordegren she shouldn't of taken a 9-iron to Tiger's face because all-in-all they had a good domestic life despite the cheating.

A new book about Palin coming out by McCain campaign strategist:

PALIN THOUGHT VP BID WAS 'GOD'S PLAN': McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt apparently has an endless stash of these things: He told 60 Minutes that Sarah Palin believed that John McCain chose her because of "God's plan." That wasn't the only jab aimed at her on the televised segment, which was linked to the much-anticipated release of Game Change, a book about the 2008 presidential campaign by New York magazine's John Heilemann and Time's Mark Halperin. During the campaign, Panicked Republicans evidently forced Palin to take a crash course on 20th century American history because she didn't understand basic policy facts, like why there is a North Korea and South Korea. Palin also distorted the truth on a regular basis. As Heilemann put it, during the campaign "she was still regularly saying that Saddam Hussein had been behind 9/11."

Oy Vey. How far have we sunk? These guys should be quitting in protest before prepping someone this unqualified to be Vice President. There is a certain level of trust, we, as a citizens, must have in professionals. We trust our doctors to diagnose our ills, in our accountants to provide legal tax advise, our architects to design sturdy structures. We can't be experts in everything and can't go around our whole lives questioning everything - is this building safe? Is this road safe? Is this computer secure? We'd never accomplish anything. We need to trust our professional political strategists that our VP candidates meet certain basic requirements - such as knowing American History. Seriously, this is a joke. There is a difference between Joe Biden making gaffes, or general slips of the tongue, and Bush mispronouncing words, than what is described above. Palin seems to be an actual ignoramus. That is scary.

People like me are partially to blame. I didn't realize the depth of Palin's stupidity. Perhaps I was blinded by her hotness. But I don't think it was really that. I guess I figured she was a governer of a state and didn't run it into the ground, and was vetted by some professionals who thought her qualified, McCain included. It's hard to move up and make it in the world. You have to be pretty darn good at something. Is it such a stretch to think that she was pretty good at what she did to get where she did?

And further, remember, we'd be listening to the press for 8 years yammer on and on about how stupid George Bush was. And that really wasn't and isn't true. He was inelegant and brash and smarmy and maybe not a great President. But stupid, he was not. Criminal he was not. The devil he was not. Yet, this was customary talking points for the left regarding Bush. So was I a bit hesitant to listen to lefties rail on and on about Palin's stupidity and lack of qualification.

The real disappointment, here, however is the Republicans sucking up to this woman who by the accounts coming out now, her quitting the governership, and her new deal with Fox, is that our country is becoming so completely unserious it is worrying.
NFL Thought Experiment

I only caught glimpses, but by all accounts, yesterdays Packers-Arizona was one of the greatest quarterbacked games in recent memory. Imagine if Brett Favre had the game Kurt Warner did yesterday. Or if he had the game Aaron Rodgers did. Would the entire ESPN staff be collectively fellating the "old man."

Why is Favre fawned over and Warner relatively ignored? Both have multiple MVP seasons and one Super Bowl ring. Both are playing well into old age for professional athletes. Warner, it seems to me, has a more interesting personal story, going undrafted from a small college and playing in Arena league and not even getting into the NFL until he was 29 years old. Favre on the other hand, fits the stereotype of an old-boy Southern Cowboy Quarterback (even though he's become a diva and after retiring will probably run with Paris Hilton). And Warner is...religious.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Terrorist Chic

BRITAIN'S GRADE-SCHOOL JIHADISTS: Britain's police have placed 10 grade-school students in a special program for expressing a desire to take part in terrorist activities. Some students have been inspired by visiting jihadist Web sites; others have viewed extremist books in Islamic book shops. One student told his teacher, according to The Times of London, "I want to be a suicide bomber." More than 200 people have been referred to Britain's anti-terrorism project, which was begun after the attacks in London in July 2005. Most are young men.

Oh boy.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Now they scramble fighter jets when a drunk passenger won't leave the bathroom.

I suppose it was obvious we'd overreact to this stuff, but come on, man...
Undies Bomber Missing the Point

Joe Klein article on the importance of the Jordanian double-agent attack in Afghanistan.

"This was an extremely sophisticated, well-thought-out operation," a former senior intelligence official told me. "It took years to set up. And quite frankly, we didn't think al-Qaeda had that capability." (Several intelligence sources told me they thought the operation was run out of the al-Qaeda high command — Osama bin Laden's headquarters — which would make it a departure from the recent trend of decentralized al-Qaeda operations, like Undiebomber's, which was run out of Yemen.)

"This is a real kick in the teeth," says Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution, a former CIA analyst. "You have to understand that the CIA considers Afghanistan its most successful arena. This is where the CIA believes it has won two wars, in 1989 and 2001. So this has to challenge a lot of assumptions." As a result, there will be two immediate and contradictory reactions to the attack. The more overt will be a flash of spook machismo. A published comment from a CIA official included this threat: "Last week's attack will be avenged. Some very bad people will eventually have a very bad day."

First off, it is not the first time Al Queda Central has pulled off an operation like this. One of their more impressive strategic moves was the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance several days prior to 9/11. They masqueraded a journalist into his lair and blew him up, knowing he was going to be the go-to man for the US to unseat the Taliban and Al Queda. Make no mistake, this Al Queda leadership is clever, patient, and highly capable. To pull off something like this, should not be a surprise.

Clearly, this is a tragedy. But I also think there is a silver lining. We thought we were getting close to AQ central, but almost more importantly, they thought we were getting close to Al Queda central. They don't send a major asset in to blow himself up and all his handlers if they aren't scared. The drones are working. I don't know how far this sets up back. But to me, this is like Texas's touchdowns last night...a wake up call...for the US to keep pounding AQ Central. They will collapse. This is a war of attrition and so long as we define it correctly and fight it courageously, we cannot lose.

What motivates Clint Eastwood.
A Fly

I wish I were on a fly on the wall during this conversation:

Alec Baldwin bumped into Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie while they dined and discussed Third World poverty at Alto


What metrics are we supposed to use to evaluate whether the stimulus is working or not?

The job outlook is still grim. Unemployment numbers are evening out because they aren't counting "discouraged workers." Emergency claims are up. But proponents of the stimulus claim "things would have been worse." Really? How can we know that? You could almost make the same claim for any bad policy. What would Democrats have argued in 2007 when the Iraq War was in the tank if Bush had said, "things could have been worse." The claim is unknowable in an economy this complex.
And Now Where Are We?

VDH slams Obama's WOT policies in this interview.

On the administrations hubris:

FP: You mentioned Napolitano, her moronic statements, and how she might not be around much longer. What’s the psychology here of this administration and its overall dance with denial?

Hanson: They seem very naive and inexperienced, almost as if to say: “This is not supposed to be happening to me; I was elected to undo George Bush’s anti-constitutional, so-called war against terror, not actually fight real life terrorists.” In this administration everything is “isolated” and “allegedly,” unless you’re the Cambridge police, and then we really can snap to instantaneous judgment.

Again, I think the Obama administration felt that it would prance in, and end the bad war in Iraq, finish off the good war in Afghanistan, and dismantle the unnecessary Bush crusade against mythical dragons. Instead, they learned that Iraq was essentially won by Bush, Afghanistan is heating up, and there are thousands of al-Qaeda terrorists who hate us for who we are, and don’t give a damn that our President’s middle name is Hussein. We are no longer dealing here with college deans and TV pundits who are wowed by split-the-difference, hope-and-change soaring rhetoric.

and on the fact that 2 of the 4 Yemeni handlers were release from Gitmo:

FP: Two of the four leaders behind the Northwest Airlines passenger jet appear now to have been released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007. Significance?

Hanson: It reminds us of what happens when the Bush administration caved to the popular slur that Guantanamo was a veritable Gulag, and also reminds us that those in Guantanamo were there for a reason.

We have this la-la land fantasy that there are perfectly good and bad choices. But there are no such things. We are targeted by premodern killers, out of uniform, who are keen students of Western doubt and guilt. And in dealing with them, there are no easy solutions, as is always true when the postmodern meets the premodern.

Guantanamo was a bad solution amid far worse alternatives. Candidate Obama demogogued the issue, as he did tribunals, renditions, and the Patriot Act, and now, invested with responsibility rather than mere rhetoric, can’t close it when he promised. ‘Guantanamoize’ is a good verb for incessant rhetorical deadlines that are never met.
Predator Drones vs. Water Boarding

There is an interesting talking point brought up in hawkish counter-terror circles right now regarding water-boarding. The question boils down to:

How is more justified, legally or morally, to kill a terrorist via predator drone than to water-board a terrorist for information about future plots?

They argue, killing a terrorist via drones is essentially summary execution of the individual. How can that be considered morally and legally justified while water-boarding (which we actually subject our own armed services people to as a form of training) ought to be considered morally and legally unjustified?

Who is being loose here with distinctions? Those who consider water-boarding torture and all torture wrong? Or those who consider water-boarding enhanced interrogation? Who is being euphemistic?

Josh Cribbs is insulted by his small raise offer by the Browns and insists he'll leave.

Cribbs is widely considered the best player on the lowly, but improving Browns team. Last year he made 900,000. They offered to bump him up to 1.4 mil.

In the scheme of professional sports, I'm pretty amazed at the relatively small amount Cribbs makes. Fact is, NFL dudes really don't make all that much money. Granted, it is a lot by the standards of regular folks, but consider this: an average NFL career is around 4 years. Even the top guys play 10-15 years. Their "work experience" doesn't really prepare them for much else other than possibly coaching. They will have medical bills in the future, you and I can barely imagine.

Cribbs is right now in his prime. He needs to earn enough in the next few years to secure himself and his family for life. He is also a popular, explosive player who makes big plays. In the NFL today, big plays are the difference between top teams and mediocre teams. Then again, his primary function is a kick returner and therefore is only on the field for a minority of offensive plays (although they did incorporate him into the wildcat offense and use him as a receiver).

I actually find this situation pretty fascinating. The 49ers let go of a good return man Alan Rossem in order to make space for Crabtree on their roster. Their new return guys were terrible and I think, cost them the Seattle game by changing the momentum via a botched trick punt return reverse. I guess NFL teams seem to think return guys are replaceable or not important. Often, if a player is good, teams don't use them to return kicks for fear of injury. They view return people as part of "special teams," and special teams are always overlooked. But why not view return men as part of the offense? Their yards count the same as other yards. Field position is such a huge component these days, it amazes me the return guys aren't viewed as being more valuable.

A smart, cost-conscious team would take advantage.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Most Civil Liberties questions regarding terrorism are the same under Bush and Obama, precisely because those positions are entrenched amongst most mainstream Americans.
Outright Misinformation

U.S. DISCOVERED BOMBER MIDFLIGHT: American intelligence was closer to stopping al Qaeda operative Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab than previously thought—but it was still a case of too little too late. U.S. border security found out about the bomber's identity when he was already aboard the plane and en route to Detroit; they planned to detain him when the plane landed. The Los Angeles Times reports that, had the intelligence been discovered sooner, Abdulmutallab could have been interrogated before he boarded the flight in Amsterdam; however, even then, American officials' actions would have been limited by Dutch authorities, who would ultimately decide whether the intelligence was strong enough to search or ground the man.

Wait a second. If this were true, why didn't they inform the pilot? The crew? This information opens up more questions and still doesn't make me feel comfortable they know what they're doing or know how to act on intelligence.

Also, there is already politicization of "Obama's response." See this.

The official said the president believes that previous administrations would "play hide the ball" and not come clean with the American people when things go wrong, so he wants to be direct about what needs to be fixed, but the official said the president does not want this process to devolve into finger-pointing.

Eh? What are they talking about? The 9/11 Commission Report was completely open, detailed, and comprehensive. And what about the Iraq Study Group? A bi-partisan Congressional analysis of the Iraq War. On what level did the Bush Administration not "come clean" with the American people? Is this guy getting his information from Michael Moore movies? Jesus frigging Christ, the whole reason the country elected Obama was because everyone was sick of talking about Bush and they instinctively go back to it. Really saddening.
Netflix Deal

Netflix makes deal with WB to stream movies after the "sell-only" period.

The studios strategy is to keep various "windows" of release. They seem to think, and I tend to agree, the window strategy is the way to keep profits going. They are adjusting with the times, however, as DVD sales are dipping and theatrical audiences are down. It won't surprise me to soon see super early releases for movies charging $40-50 a head, they are already bumping up prices on 3D, and then they are obviously trying to carve out a "sales-only" window for streaming to avoid the audience paying $1.99 to see Avatar on the first weekend. They want the audience to spend $15 in the theater and then $15 more on the DVD before getting the $1.99 itunes or on-demand payment.
Attack in Afghanistan

What we learned about Al Queda by their most recent attacks.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Racial Profiling

I keep hearing rumblings by various Republican groups about racial profiling airline passengers. Why would they be so eager to support such a massive bureaucratic and stupid idea?

For a party who prides itself efficient markets and disdain for government bureaucracy, I fail to see how adding yet ANOTHER layer of stupid airport procedures is going to help security.

Like most things, good execution is the key, not the addition of numerous, duplicate layers of less-and-less perfect security.

Theoretically, how was the Christmas Bomber Supposed to Be Stopped:

1. Name on the terrorist database/no fly list

I thought it was clear after 9/11, we make one list. There is no point in having multiple lists, especially if there are not being checked. I suppose, there could be an argument made for 2 lists - a) the absolute, you are not allowed on a plane list no matter what and b) the double-triple check list where you get patted down or totally fully inspected including up your butt-hole before being allowed on the plane.

To me, we err on the side of caution here and use the "no fly" list rather liberally. And in the case of a father calling out and warning about his son's fundamentalists beliefs, he goes on the no-fly list. If it is important to him, he'll do the necessary procedures to remove himself. If he can't "prove" his innocence, well, sorry buddy, don't sign up with Islamic Terrorist groups and expect to be able to fly. Is this potentially unfair to some radical muslims who do not intend to blow up planes? Yes, it is unfair to them. I'm not losing sleep over it.

2. Caught At The Airport Security Procedures

*say the bomber gets through the database check by a mistake or a bomber is not on the list (undoubtedly a future possibility)

How could airline security stopped the Christmas bomber? From my understanding, they would need to do a heavy pat down search, or a strip search, or some type of chemical scan that could detect the explosives he was using. I take it the technology is too expensive or nonexistent that could detect all potential explosives in a scan. Therefore, a pat down or strip search (both tedious and invasive) would be required to catch a potential bomber.

Those advocates of racial profiling, therefore, suggest we need to strip search or pat down search every young Muslim man. And obviously, if we are to do this procedure, since Muslim is not something branded on one's chest, we would need to apply the procedure to every POTENTIAL young Muslim man and probably expand it to women and maybe even to some older men. You see how this quickly gets impossible. Further, it we apply the procedure to too many people it will inevitably become watered down and bad. We might as well just stop flying in airplanes in the name of safety.

The other option is not exactly racial profiling, but country profiling and strip searching or patting down everyone who passes through a "terrorist" country like Yemen, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, etc, etc. the list goes on and on. This is what Bill O'Reilly suggested last night. I thought the Christmas bomber originated from the Netherlands, so I don't see how this procedure would have stopped him. Further, there is such an easy work around if a potential bomber could fly to a neutral country without a bomb and then assemble the bomb in the neutral country (note, getting the terrorist no fly database would help on multiple levels here, by potentially capturing him and/or his handlers in trying to get to a neutral country) Then again, flying isn't the only way to get into a neutral country. Nevertheless, such procedures might make it harder for potential bombers to succeed.

Lastly, there is behavioral profiling - strip searching or patting down people who do things like buy one-way tickets in cash and act all shady and weird and have creepy eyes and give us the heebie jeebies. As arbitrary as this sounds, I actually think it is the best of all the above options. If someone exhibits weird behavior, they go through "enhanced" security, ie butt-hole level search and actually talking to a security official. That's what El Al does. (*also note, behavioral profiling should extend waaaaay beyond just airport ticket purchases, which is only the very last level of shady behavior. In the new Superfreakonomics, they talk about counterterrorism folks trolling through bank data for suspicious activity - putting in large amounts of cash into an account and then withdrawing small amounts incrementally, for instance. We need to be using all sorts of smart procedures like this to identify potential suspects and then have smart teams of people who dig deeper into such shady data and I'm sure you will quickly find out whether it is a real "hit" or not. So, if you notice the large cash and small withdrawals are made by a woman whose social security number says she grew up in Des Moines and has four children, we can safely assume she's getting money from her rich relatives or a suger daddy. Or, if it is a young man who recently is visiting us from Yemen on a student visa, yeah, we should dig deeper and not let the fella on a plane without a butt-hole search).

As for our current procedures -

The metal detector scanners and no fly liquids and shoe removal, as far as I can tell, has robbed the public of a lot of perfectly good contact lens solution, lotions, and swiss army knives and at the same time, never, not even once, stopped a terrorist.

But lastly, we need to face a sad fact - we will not be able to stop terrorists from attacking via technology or search procedures alone. If there are continued safe havens for terrorists, they will get advanced weaponry and well trained enough individuals to crack our system. One day, they will figure out how to incubate someone with small pox or some awful disease - how could you ever stop such a person from getting on a plane and entering the country? A really smart terrorist could simply arrive at the departures gate at the airport and infect an innocent person unknowingly and they could "safely" enter a specific country. The only real long term solution is attacking at (i'm coining a new term here) Status Centers. So long as being a "terrorist" provides some sort of Status upon disaffected individuals, we are going to be addressing this problem. This is why state sponsors and terrorist organizations are problematic. They provide the terrorist infrastructure. It's just like the movie business - it works because there is a studio structure - where money can be found, experience technicians, theaters, etc. Young filmmakers need all of this infrastructure to imagine new movies. Imagine if we got rid of movie theaters and new tv sets, etc, no one would make movies because no one would know how to watch them. Same idea with terrorism, if the infrastructure for it disappears, disaffected young men who long to murder or find acceptance or self-sacrifice in the name of religion won't have an outlet.

Which is why we invaded Iraq.
Facebook Revenge: Brother 1, Sister 0


Hat tip, Andy.
Thanks, Obama

I know it's a funny 30 Rock joke about the Democrats taxing us to death. But it also happens to be true - my first '10 paycheck was a little less than usual and it turns out the Feds are withholding more dough from us. Note, California decided to do this last summer as well, so now my real wages have taken a double hit.

Is it merely a right wing talking point that Democrats will make us less safe when it comes to National Security and Tax us more heavily to pay for entitlement programs? Or is it precisely what is happening with the three recent terror attacks or attempts against US targets and this new withholding. Is it spin or is it real?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Decade War Review

A round up on the status of wars throughout the world in the past decade.

In case you were only reading the newspapers, it turns out there were a lot more than Iraq and Afghanistan (and a lot more bloody wars than Iraq and Afghanistan, too).
Uh Oh

CIA suicide bomber was also a blogger.

They'll probably start strip searching bloggers at the airport now.
Curious Math

I love this "surprising" sex statistic -

According to a survey of adults aged 20 to 59, women have an average of four sex partners during their lifetime; men have an average of seven.
{italics mine}

I wonder what gender those three (on average) other "partners" are for the guys...
New Year Resolutions

Tame ones, but resolutions nonetheless -

1. Eat Smaller Portions. This isn't about losing weight. It is about bad habits developing over time. I can best put it this way - when I go to Bay Cities there is a temptation to get a large sandwich. It is 33% bigger and generally costs only about 20% more. It is a good deal, I rationalize. But you know what happens when I buy a large? I eat the whole thing. And I feel a little gross afterward. You know what happens when I order a small sandwich? I'm still totally full afterward and don't feel like a pig. The lesson - get a small sandwich. I save 20% in money and don't feel gross. Win/win. And apply it across the board.

2. Cook More Often. It requires a little more work, a little more planning, and I'm not sure whether you end up saving money or not. But I think it is healthier and in some ways, more fun. Also, cooking more will improve my cooking skills.
Pull Out Method

I'm not sure what the point of our long term strategy in Afghanistan is...however stories like these makes it seem wise not to just blindly pull out:

TALIBAN BRAINWASHES KIDS WITH VISIONS OF VIRGINS: The Taliban set-up Brainwashing centers for children. The children aged 12 to 18 were turned from innocent youngsters into cold-blooded killers, willing to blow themselves to bits as suicide bombers. Part of the compound consists of four rooms -- each wall adorned with brightly colored paintings in clear contrast to the barren and harsh landscape surrounding it. The children were told that this was what awaited them in heaven. Each of the images has a river flowing through it, these are rivers of milk and honey, that the women are the virgins that await them in heaven. The children were told that they will live in the company of the holy prophet and be served feasts. But for the children from this part of Pakistan they are captivating. They grow up in abject poverty surrounded by dirt-colored mountains with treacherous gullies and valleys with no exposure to the outside world. They are gullible and easily manipulated.

Some folks say when we fight these guys, we create more terrorists. I find this concept a bit dubious as best. What's more certain, is if we don't fight them, they ARE MAKING more terrorists.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A Damn Good Question

Now that Al Queda in Yemen is openly trying to attack the US Homeland, it bears noticing that several active Al Queda in Yemen members were former Guantanamo detainees.

Letting these guys out is totally beyond me. What was the Bush Administration thinking? And does the President even have full jurisdiction over this? I know he is commander in chief and I know he has the right to pardon people...but is not clear to me that an enemy combatant can be just be let go. While all the journalists castigate Cheney and Bush on their ill treatment of detainees, frankly, I'm much more upset with this kind of softness.
Does Spanking Work?

Supposedly children who were spanked grow up to be happier and more successful.

I'm skeptical our entire goal in life as adults should be "happiness and success," but I know I'm in the minority. So...people...who want to be happy and successful, line up, I'll do the spanking.
The Drone Program

I didn't know this, but it turns out the suicide attack on the CIA officials in Afghanistan was targeting our Drone program.

"We attacked this base because the team there was organizing drone strikes," a commander allied with the Afghan Taliban told the Wall Street Journal. He said the attack was timed to kill the woman who led the team, since the Taliban knew she would be there that day. A Pakistani Taliban commander told the AP a similar story and added that the bomber was recruited as a "CIA agent" but turned against the agency.

The upside of this story - the CIA are apparently doing their job if they were getting under the Taliban's skin. It is of course terrible the Taliban were able to hit us back and that 7 people died serving the country. But I don't suppose we can be in a war without expecting some casualties. It is somewhat refreshing to hear someone is out there on the front lines fighting these guys and causing them to loose sleep.
Good For Them

An online dating site bans 5,000 fat people for putting on the pounds over the holiday.

More leadership like this and I may have to rethink my ban on internet dating.
In Case You Missed It

A rundown of Jersey Shore.

I guess I didn't miss anything over break as it seems like no new episodes aired.
Iran on the Brink of Collapse?

Their ex-spy chief seems to think so.

In light of the recent terror attacks, any type of major disruption in the mullah regime would be welcome news in the overall WOT.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

How To Flirt With Nerds

This made me laugh. Funny -

MAURA: Are nerds more or less likely to make the first move?

MATT: A male nerd is just as likely to make a first move as any other dude. The key difference, however, when it comes to nerds, is that you may not recognize what he's doing as making a move. For example, if a hunger policy expert comes over and, out of the blue, starts telling you about food insecurity issues in rural Texas, he’s probably hitting on you — but just doing it very poorly.

MAURA: If a nerd does make the first move on you, should you be extra-careful about how you respond — so as not to scare him away, set off some kind of dork-tastic panic attack, etc.?

MATT: Nah, don’t be shy. Be calm and confident.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Obama Report Card

Worrisome patterns emerge.

Obama turned out to be masterful at launching new policies but inconsistent at getting them to work. His presidency threatened to fall into a worrisome pattern: the announcement of a lofty goal, the delegation of implementation to second-rank officials, a missed deadline or two, last-minute intervention by the president to rescue the effort from collapse, and, finally, mixed results -- followed by a statement claiming victory.

The article concludes, however, Obama suffered no outright disasters so by historical standards, he's doing okay.

This is the most worrying to me:

Take the $787-billion economic stimulus plan that Obama muscled through Congress as his first item of business in February. It was big, bold and ambitious -- but in political terms, it's been a failure. Most economists say the stimulus has saved at least half a million jobs, but Obama hasn't convinced most voters that the impact is real.

Spending $787 billion in order to save 500,000 jobs.... I'm not a math major, but isn't that about $1.5 million dollars spent per job saved? I know the stimulus wasn't entirely designed to save jobs, it was also meant to save the net worth of several thousand incredibly wealthy financial industry executives...I mean...stop the financial free fall. But seriously, I don't see how the numbers here add up. Wouldn't those 500,000 people just be better off getting a 1 million dollar check from the government? We'd be saving money overall.

I should find the article, but I read something about a large number of mortgage owners who were given temporary relief from the government still end up in default months down the line. This is the same problem with rescuing GM and the surge in Afghanistan. All these solutions are designed to kick the can down the road and stave off the inevitable. It's paying for things on credit card. There is no sustainability to the plan. Come to think of it, healthcare is the same issue. They want to extend coverage to uninsured and pay for it with 10 years of revenue for 6 years of coverage. Of course the numbers work, it'd be like me spending double my salary this year under the theory that I'll be making enough money over two years to pay for it. No one in their right mind would do this, but for some reason, this is what we're told by our government is the solution to our problems.

If a mortgage owner gets temporary relief from the government, what reason do we have to believe in 6 months or a year down the line when the relief runs out they are going to be able to afford the mortgage. What reason to we have to believe by loaning GM money that they will turn into a profitable car company in a year or five? Aren't we creating incentives for these people and companies to continue operating in an unsustainable fashion? Aren't we implying that in another year or 6 months they are going to get bailed out again? And then what happens when we run out of money? Or when we start taxing the producers (people who are running profitable businesses) too much and they decide it is no longer worth producing? What then? Who do we go to pay for all these things? What do we do in Afghanistan in 2011? Leave? Stay? Pour in more troops? Even in the best case scenario where the Taliban are "pushed back on their heels," if we leave, what happens? How are we in a better or worse position? How is our overall security different? Neither of these two recent terror attacks - at Ft. Hood or on Christmas were a result of Taliban or Al Queda operating in the Af-Pak theater.

Isolated, any one of the issues is justifiable. You can justify mortgage relief as temporary until the real estate market stabilizes and the economy stabilizes and keeps people in their homes and not create a wave of folks losing their homes leading all sorts of other social problems - homelessness, kids falling out of school, crime, etc. (although there is no evidence to suggest these things would necessarily follow). You can justify the stimulus and bank bailout on similar grounds, that is a short term fix to get the economy "back on track." Or the GM bailout, that it is a short term loan to get the company profitable again and avoid other secondary social problems - bankruptcies, unemployment, etc. Likewise in Afghanistan, you can say the Afghan center has a better chance to hold if we push the Taliban back. But all grouped together, another picture emerges. What evidence is there to suggest we are making any choices here? Is there any evidence we are prioritizing resources? Is there any evidence the Obama administration intends to ever pay for any of these things? Or are we simply buying people off? Isn't that another way to look at the pattern? They bought off Wall Street by propping up the banks? We're buying off homeowners who can't pay their mortgage (at the expense of people who a) can or b) want to someday)? I don't know exactly who they are buying off with Afghanistan, it appears there, Obama got stuck into his own campaign thesis that Afghanistan is the good war and Iraq is the bad war? And with healthcare, well, we're buying off everybody - the insurance companies are getting paid and the uninsured are getting paid. Everyone is getting something and we're told no one is paying for it. Why am I suspicious?