Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Which mentally impaired president are you?

The June issue of the Atlantic Monthly (subscription required) has this neat piece regarding the Psychiatric disorders of presidents 1776-1974.

Personally, I'm a pich of John Adams, a dash of Jefferson, and a little bit of Nixon, but in a fun way.

Afghanistan: What the fuck?

It should be embarrassing that nearly five years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, almost no meaningful progress has been made in bringing Osama bin-Laden to justice. It is not difficult to find fault with the way the Bush administration has handled its so-called “Global War on Terror.” The administrations standard response has been to point to Afghanistan, bin-Laden’s reported hideout, as proof of its success in the war on terror. However, recent reports of the resurgence of the Taliban in the south, and the forthcoming handover of security operations in Afghanistan to NATO control belie the administrations contentions.

The security handover has been described as a potential boon for the Taliban forces in the region. Indeed recent reports describe the increased brazenness of their attacks. But the issue is not so straightforward. An item in the New York Times of May 10, 2006, states that although some nations contributing to the NATO forces do not intend to fight the Taliban or other militants, some, including Canada, said “they consider the NATO mission to be more than just peacekeeping and would operate under the same rules of engagement as the Americans.” Clearly the British commanding officer of the NATO force, Lt. Gen. David Richards, will have a difficult task accommodating the policies of all member nations.

Still, this development is not without its benefits. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, NATO Secretary General Lord Robinson stated, “An attack on one is an attack on all.” And even though the Bush administration has sullied America’s reputation world wide and lost all moral high ground it may claim to have, I contend that Lord Robertson’s statement, and NATO’s commitment, still stand.

When American forces come under the auspices of NATO command in November, Lt. Gen. Richards should seek to fulfill the role of NATO as America’s ally, and to quote Lord Robertson, “provide the assistance that may be required as a consequence of these acts of barbarism.’’ That assistance is the elimination of Osama bin-Laden.

As awkward as it may sound, a NATO force may be the best chance for the American people to see the man most responsible for the September 11th attacks brought to justice. How ironic too, give this administrations penchant for eschewing international cooperation. Politics and ideology, not rational military strategy, have directed the Bush administrations reaction to the attacks. Perhaps a military command not leashed by political motives will be more successful.

America needs to be saved from itself.

The Bush administration has used success against terrorism as its chief campaign platform in 2004 and as boilerplate justification for its wantonly irresponsible foreign policy. There was an opportunity to correct America’s mistakes, but the American people, to the dismay of much of the rest of the world, elected Mr. Bush to a second term. Since then, the situation in Iraq has continually worsened, and recent poll numbers show that the President, and Republicans in general, are trusted less and less by the American public on this issue. A NATO led capture of bin-Laden would eliminate any remaining legitimacy the Bush administration may have in the war on terror. It would display President Bush as a failure in yet another aspect of his duties - so much so that he would not have the political capital to push forward with his disastrous policies, such as considering a nuclear attack against Iran.

The world needs to be saved from America.

The elimination of Osama bin-Laden will make the world a safer place for two reasons: First, the world’s most dangerous terrorist network, al-Qaeda, will be crippled. Second, George Bush will be unable to recover from the obvious ineptitude of his rule, so the rest of the world will be safe from his attempts at retribution – which so far have claimed tens of thousands of more innocent lives than bin-Laden has.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Nothing is going to happen - Journalism meets the Uncertainty Principle

I don't know enough science to get all metaphysical and explain Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle to you, Wikipedia is better at that. In very layman's terms it says that one cannot know both the momentum and location of an electron. This is because in order to determine the location of the electron you need to see it. To do so you would use an electron microscope. The problem comes when the light photon from the microscope hits the electron. You have just transferred an unknown amount of momentum from the photon to the electron. Thus you can never know its precise momentum.The act of observation affects the outcome.

I would like to examine Seymour Hersh's article The Iran Plans, which appeared in the April 17th issue of the New Yorker, as a potential example of this phemomena.
My assertion, which is based partly on creative thinking, partly on denial, and partly on a six-pack of Hoegaarden imbibed at a recent ecumenical council, is this:
The United States will not nuke Iran.
The United States may not even attack Iran at all.
Jason Kropsky can stop worrying.
What possible basis can I have for this assertion save perhaps some rancid wheat and a fall from my bar stool?
Hersh's article was the biggest cock block this administration has seen. And that term is appropriate because we all know why Bush really likes wars.
As I am sure you can infer from the explanation above, the amount of attention caused by Hersh's article is similiar to the light photon hitting the observed electron. With so many focusing on the planned nuclear assault, and with so many against it, the administration's momentum has been changed. Therefore the attack will not happen.

I hope.

Otherwise it's game over.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Gas Wall

Last summer I paid just under $1,000 for a flight from JFK to Florence, Italy. I left on July 1, and returned August 28. This year the same flight, according to an Orbitz seach will run about $1,100.
Similarly, flights from JFK to rome have gone up from about $1,100 to $1,600 for a non-stop flight. If you are willing to make one or two layovers you can still do the trip for about $1,100.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airfares out of New York/Newark have increase 8.2% over last year's prices god for 46th place. Cincinatti takes top honors with a whopping 26% increase over last year; so New Yorkers aren't doing that bad.

Articles keep popping up about skyrocketing airfares due to high fuel prices.
According to ABC News

"I have seen a 20 percent increase in ticket prices," said Ines Lormand, a frequent business flier in Houston.

Her recent $900 round trip ticket to Detroit was a shocker. Last year, she says, the same trip was $300.
Analysts say recent fare increases are only the beginning as the skyrocketing fuel prices threaten the airlines' already shaky balance sheets. For the nation's biggest airline, American, every penny increase in the price of jet fuel adds another $28 million a year in costs.


According to the Energy Information Agency, jet fuel cost about 82 cents a gallon three years ago. Today it costs $3.45.

To save fuel, airlines are taking unprecedented steps to lighten their planes. American cut onboard water by one-fourth, saving $3 million this year. Taxiing with only one engine running has saved another $8 million. Airlines are also saving millions each by removing extra dishes and catering carts. But those savings aren't enough.

In the US, as we approach the summer road-trip season, many are finding that it will be cheaper to fly than to drive. The Wall Street Journal urges traveles to take the bus.
These are neat little interest/advice articles, but they don't really address the bigger issue, if I can be forboding for a minute.

Consider the summary of price increases on trans-Atlantic flights from the San Luis Obispo Tribune:
Besides the supply-and-demand factor, all airlines are adding fuel surcharges to their tickets - $110 to $130.

Here's an example of how fares rise and fall. If you were to fly Chicago-London round-trip on British Airways April 26-May 3, the fare, including taxes, fees and a fuel surcharges, would be $587.39. Fly the same route June 13-27 and the fare totals $978.39, a $391 difference. If you were to do the trip from Sept. 2-13, the fare would be $738.39, $240 less that the peak season summer fare.

We are approaching what I call the Gas Wall. I fear fuel prices will continue to go up and up until fewer and fewer people can afford them. I am not even concerned about the bankruptcy of the airlines and the inevitable goverment bailouts. I am worried that we are going to be trapped in this country. I think that if we do not remove this neo-con cabal one day they are going to come for all of us dissenters with national id cards, rf or gps tracking microchips, and the only way you will be able to leave the country is when they send you to fight a war.

Dios mio

Harlan Goldberg points out that Vincente Fox decided not to give us an early Cinco de Mayo present afterall.

Bummer, dude.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Natural Anthem

There has been debate not only over the question of whether the national anthem should be sung in Spanish, but whether or not we should even be debating this. I think we should because it is illustrative of the larger issue of framing.
What does the question even mean? Should the national anthem be sung in Spanish? Does this mean that there is a movement to replace Francis Scott Key's Star Spangled Banner with Nuestro Himno? No. It doesn't. And there isn't
But the question is framed to make it appear that there is some sort of coordinated attack on "traditional values," whatever that phrase means. Since according to the Boston Globe there have ben several other foreign language versions of the Star Spangled Banner, including two in Yiddish.
The question that is really too rediculous to ask is "Can the national anthem be sung in Spanish?" As in, "is it permissable to do so?"
And of course it is.
I have no problem with Feliz Navidad either. I think it's a catchy tune.
But since I never miss an opportunity to contradict myself, i have to say that I do understand come of the uneasiness of, what for lack of a better term, I will call purists. Perhaps some immigrants can't appreciate the national anthem because they are too new to the country or due to the language barrier. I recently became an Italian citizen. The Italian national anthem doesn't mean a damn thing to me. But I also am not asking them to change it to the Sopranos's theme song. I should learn the culture and do the work to learn to appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Alliterative Blogging Series: Wine Tasting Wednesdays

I like wine. I find it goes better with meals than Pepsi. I don't really know much about wine but I like to pretend that I do. I have a wine dossier. Whenever I have dinner with my aunt we try and enjoy a nice bottle. We prefer reds.

Tonight we had a Luciani Brunello di Montalcino, 1998.

I will describe this wine by way of anecdote. Back in February I went to Siena, Italy for a week. During my stay the museum Santa Maria della Scala had an exhibit entitled: "Siena e Roma: Raffaello, Caravaggio, e i Protaganisti di un Legame Antico"(the protaganists of an ancient bond.) It was a great exhibit. There were many works by Girolamo Mei, Bernardino Mei, and others I had never heard of. I could be wrong, but I counted one Raffaello and three Caravaggio's. At first I was disappointed that there were so few works by these masters. But what the exhibition really brought out was the superiority of their work. After seeing a hundred paintings, give or take, all of a sudden one snaps you out of your museum induced fatigue syndrome. That's a Caravaggio.
Music, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610) from

Well, that is what a Brunello is like. It tasted like there were grapes bursting in my mouth. It was rich and smooth. A little oak was discernable, but the fruitiness was much more prominent. It's the kind of wine you enjoy drinking. Not because it gets you drunk, thought that is quite nice too. Because it makes your mouth feel good. It's like drinking velvet. You can feel all of your tastebuds firing as you slosh it around in your mouth.

Overall, it is highly recommended.

For the sake of completion" Johnny Damon bashing and NL predictions

Okay, so the Yankees are no longer in Boston but that does not mean I hate them any less.
The Yankees acquisition of Damon is the equivalent of the Gore 2008 campaign hiring Karl Rove to be its chief strategist; I know you really want to win, but there are some things you just don't do. If I had had any respect for skankees fans to begin with I would have lost it when they cheered Damon on opening day. I cannot even put the the sheer vitriol and adium I feel over this into words.
I just spit at the computer screen. That's the best I can do.

2006 Major League Baseball Predictions Based on Emotion and Spite Rather Than Objective Analysis: National League Version
Eastern Division
1)Braves - And next year I will pick them to win their 16th straight division title. Tim Hudson may have lost something, again proving that Bill Beane is smarter than you. The 14 rookies that debuted last year need to avoid a collective sophomore slump. Too much is made about the departure of Leo Mazzone. I will believe in him more when Daniel Cabrera becomes an ace.
2) The Mets - For once they made off-season moves that make sense. Billy Wagner solves the Braden Looper blowing saves problem. Carlos Delgado is the power bat they were missing even during Piazza's heyday. I am convinced that Carlos Beltran will remain a bust. I'd rather have Jason Bay.
3) Phillies - the loss of Jim Thome will barely be felt because Ryan Howard is 10 years younger, 5 lbs lighter, and will hit 40hr. Chase Utley is one of the best power hitting infielders in the game, and Jimmy Rollins has turned into an elite player. Last year Brett Myers had the break out season many had stopped expecting, he needs to continue that.
4) Nationals - They finished at .500 last year but will struggle to repeat that unless new ownership commits some money.
5) Marlins - They are right smack in themiddle of their boom and bust cycle. Which means they will be World Series contenders in 2008 and back in the cellar in 2009.

Central Division
1) Astros - Even without Clemens the pitching staff is solid. Lidge is the best regular season closer you can get.
2) Cardinals - I just don't believe that Chris Carpenter is this good. Albert Pujols is though. In fact he probably has had the best 4 years of a career that anyone has had in the history of baseball.
3) Brewers - They have a lot of young up and coming players and could contend for the division in a year or two as the Cards pitching staff gets older. Rickie Weeks hit close to .500 for his college career, JJ Hardy projects to be an Edgar Renteria type, without the one random year of 25 hr, Prince Fielder may soon be as feared as a hitter as his father is at a Chinese buffet. Ben Sheets has filthy stuff, and may be the most underrated pitcher in baseball.
4) Cubs - When they drafted Mark Prior all the scouts said 'Look at his delivery, he will never et hurt.' famous last words. Maddux will keep doing his thing, but can't anchor the staff when Prior and Wood are hurt. Derrek Lee will get fat after getting a big free agent deal after last years run at the triple crown.
5) Cincinnati Reds - There is no question that this team improved themselves, but Bronson Arroyo is not Josh Beckett.
6) Pittsburgh - They have Jason Bay. He is Canadian, Eh

Western Division

1) Giants - Bonds is cheating at baseball. Re-instate Pete Rose, ban the Bonds.
2) Los Angeles Dogers
3) San Diego Padres
4) Rockies
5) Diamondbacks

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stephen Colbert saves the world

See his speech/smackdown/utter trashing of the Bush Crime Family at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
Watching this I wasn't sure if it was all real.
As much as I hate the Emporer in Chimp I am not sure if I would have the guts to trash the man to his face like Colbert did.
It's like The Simpsons said the Talmud said, "Who will bring redemption? The jesters."
Say thank you.