Friday, January 30, 2009

OK or Not OK?

Speaking of the Bush administration and neo-conservatives role in the plans to invade Iraq, a professor (who is NOT in my department) said in class today:
...there were some Episcopalians, but they were mostly Jewish and so they had a lot of experience with occupations in the Middle East and wanted to avoid those problems.
Not OK. The strange thing about this statement was that the professor singled out Jews, as if to say there is something inherent about being Jewish that brings that kind of experience. Weird man.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Inaugural Thoughts

1. Concerning string-syncing. I understand that the cold made it very difficult to play outside and it may have even been detrimental to the instruments. In that case I see no problem with announcing that a recording of "Air and Simple Things" will be played in honor of this auspicious event and have the four musicians stand by the dias. If lip-syncing is considered deceptive, then so is string-syncing. I understand that they did not intend to deceive, but then they should have at least announced what they were doing. If they actually played their instruments for those that could hear on the dias, but recorded the audio-out feed I would be more conflicted, however that would also undermine the technical reasons for not playing (though if one of their strings had snapped in the middle of the performance when the audio feed was being broadcast I guess the feed would have masked it).

I do not buy the excuse that the, "occasion’s got to be perfect. You can’t have any slip-ups." That would entail that every time a musician were to play for a dignitary this excuse could be employed, which just seems ridiculous. Would you want Roberts to have recorded the oath of office before the ceremony?

2. I think it is silly that Obama needed to swear in again. Rather, I think it plays right into those strict constructionists on the court that Obama argues with. Obama should have just said no. In the language of the gemara, it is a konam or certainly a yad, and I believe that kulai alma would hold that the neder was good.

3. On transcripts. This NYT transcript of the inauguration speech delivered by Obama inserts an "applause" after the line at the beginning, "I thank President Bush for his service to our nation..." Firstly there were also some boos, which is ignored by the transcript, which for the sake of etiquette I am ok with. The problem with the transcript is that there was a lag between Obama's words and the reaction of the audience due to the scale of the event. We were applauding at the very beginning of the speech and were silent for the thanks to Pres. Bush. The transcript invents a event that never happened (though I can only really speak for those of us near the Washington Monument).

4. A cautionary note. While it is fun to sing "Got 99 problems and Bush ain't one" just remember that we elected Nixon after we elected Kennedy, which was in part backlash to the the crazy youth culture of the 60's. Celebrate, don't gloat, otherwise we'll get Cheney45.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Winning, yet again

I like winning, and I particularly like beating Europeans. I also enjoy beating Canadians, but there is no real sport in that. This makes Tuesday all the more sweet. You see, we in American find ourselves consistently competing with our older brother. Who will develop the next new industry, the next political paradigm, the most powerful army? We always win, but it is always close.

For a while there Europe looked like it was going to out liberal us, which was just plain unacceptable. We invented liberalism. Well England did, but we did it way better than they did and they have been playing catch-up for some time now (France is all turned around on that account, but you have to feel mostly sorry for them). But recently it looked as if Europe was going to lead on environmental policy and global responsibility. Then we elected a minority person of a minority racial/ethnic heritage (isn't minority just easier?) to the highest office in the land and out liberaled Europe yet again. They can only look at their feet and say, "Oh yeah, we are really liberal too, except we don't like minorities. But other than that we are awesome." And not only a minority, but a super-cool one of whom everyone else is envious. That's right, we won again. U.S.A.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Longer it Lasts

the more likely it is that someone will say/do something stupid.

First my indignation towards the left:
“Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp,” Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Council for Justice and Peace, said in an interview published Wednesday in an online publication.

He defended his comments in the center-left daily La Repubblica on Thursday. While noting that Hamas rockets into Israel were “certainly not sugared almonds” he called the situation in Gaza “horrific” and said conditions there went “against human dignity.”
After all, the Vatican would know about concentration camps. If you want to say that, "people are subjected to inhuman conditions and starvation because of military action and it is a form of collective punishment" then say it, don't be stupid and incendiary.

Now towards the right. The Israelis are not letting the ICRC have access to gaunt, starving children 80 meters away from troops? Learn when not to follow orders.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Parental Intervention

Your younger brother is a terror. He bites, kicks, steals your CDs, capriciously deletes your downloaded music and ravages your room whenever you step out. You have had it. The easiest thing would be to have your parents intervene somehow (putting a monitoring system on the border of his room, preventing violations to your sovereignty) but they are busy. You pick a week, a week where you can be grounded with impunity, and beat the crap out of Johnny. You don't kill him, but you wail on the brat, and wail good. Your parents are incensed. You are the older and more mature child, how could you do something like this? They ground you for a week, maybe the whole month, and reluctantly send your brother to therapy, recognizing that the satus quo is unacceptable. And you have successfully brought an end to the terror.

Unfortunately the UN/EU are not as reliable as my parents, but it is better than the status quo.