Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Putin Unmasked

Heard an interesting episode of This American Life recently called "The Other Mr. President" (#614) which explored how Vladimir Putin came into power and how he manages to stay there. Act 1 is chilling, and Act 3 will sound familiar to last year's election and the current "alternative fact" environment in our country. Here's the link:

The Other Mr. President

Saturday, April 01, 2017

I'm Back, Baby!

After a five year hiatus, I've decided to return to this blog and share my thoughts. The Orange Menace, aka Dodgy Donnie has compelled me to. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Big Chill

I was stunned recently, while watching an episode of Fareed Zakaria's GPS, to see a clip of David Cameron (the conservative Prime Minister of the UK) robustly and sincerely endorsing same-gender marriage. He does so, in his words, not in spite of the fact that he's a conservative, but precisely because he's a conservative.

This is a remarkable contrast to the radical, fundamentalist, religious-style extremism we see with "conservatives" on this side of the pond.

This isn't the lie-and-let-live, keep government out of my business conservatism we saw 40-50 years ago, it's now one of exclusion, not inclusion. They want a morals-police officer in every bedroom, and seek to foist their so-called "christian "values" on everyone who doesn't hold the same narrow worldview they have. And just when it starts to seem tolerable, this crowd seems to move further right (do you think Rick Santorum, with his neanderthal social views, could have been a viable presidential candidate 15 years ago?).

And look at how they're trying to roll women's reproductive rights back to the 1940s, and paint Planned Parenthood as a pariah.

Further proof? Last week Indiana voters chose to give 6 term sane Republican Senator Richard Lugar the heave ho to seat this guy:

And let's not forget the great state of North Carolina voting 61% to ban equal marriage rights to a whole community of people (ironically, the civil union ban which was included also affects heterosexuals).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Karma's A Bitch

Tippy Tim Thomas and his team are eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, the same as the Canucks!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fukushima Daiichi Blues

Within 2 months of the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan, and resulting damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, nuclear apologists began defending nuclear as "safe". They claimed this accident was a one-off, and the result of poor design and location.

Part of their argument that nuclear was the clear energy preference of the future was their belief that there were simply no viable alternatives to nuclear as fossil fuels abate to oblivion. In particular, emerging technologies such as solar and wind energy, they argue, are impractical and nowhere near cost effective. Another claim was that even with the toxins released from the damaged plant in Japan, it was far less dangerous to specific individuals than the continuous, collective emissions from all the coal and oil fired plants around the world.

Two things struck me about their position. First, they argued at the time in a frame that assumed the incident was over, the full extent of the resulting impact was known, and the reactors were contained and under control.

Yet here we are over a year later, and we're still getting new updates on how the situation is far from over, the "event" is far from contained, and the extent of the impact is still largely unknown. The point is that mistakes/accidents happen, however, our ability to control such a deadly technology is quite limited. And an accident can threaten the whole globe.

The second thing I found curious about the opinion was that it assumed technology for alternative and renewable energy sources was frozen forever in time, never to advance beyond its current state. It brought to mind my experience in the telecom biz in the 80s. I knew IMTS engineers/operators at the time who dismissed the emerging new-fangled "cellular" technology, giving 4 or 5 good, sound technical reasons why it would never be practical and affordable.

I wonder how that turned out..... Never bet against technology when there is a strong market demand.

Joltin' Joe Biden

From the wise lips of VP Biden:
"Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. Think about it."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wah Mee Revisited

Back in 2005 I posted a blog entry regarding the Wah Mee massacre in February of 1983, in Seattle, Washington. I referenced a freelance journalist named Todd Matthews who wrote a series of articles about the event for a local magazine.

It was a watershed event, a time when an easy going, medium to large sized city lost its innocence.

After further extensive research (including unsuccessful attempts to interview the 3 men convicted of the atrocity in prison), Mr. Matthews published an eBook last year detailing the events taking place in the year(s) leading up to the final showdown at the Wah Mee gambling club in Seattle's Chinatown (or International District).

He proceeds to chronicle the details of that evening the crimes took place, the following trials, the capture and extradition of  Wai-Chu "Tony" Ng, and the appeals that followed.

I'd highly recommend this eBook to any who have any interest in this historical event. He includes "behind the scenes" insight not seen in the media coverage, as well as a comprehensive perspective of the "shadow underground" of the first part of the 20th century in the Seattle Asian community.

It's a compelling, quick, and easy read, at a great price, and supports a dedicated local writer.

I Know What You Like (In MY Wardrobe?)

Lyrics | Genesis lyrics - I Know What I Like lyrics

Thursday, May 19, 2011

De-constructing Arnold

They seem to get more attention than the killing of bin Laden, the sex "scandals". The latest, Arnold Schwarzenegger's admission that he fathered a son 11 years ago with a housekeeper, not his wife.

Why do we care, and why do we blame?

It would seem this "scandal" involves and affects a limited number of people: His wife, his kids, the "mistress", their biological son, and Arnold himself. But why is it getting more attention than that?

The answer is simple: We Americans love to be in charge of everyone's business. We love to judge, regardless of our own situation, holding others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves (or how we pretend to hold ourselves).

Pundits pontificate about how we can't trust someone who is "dishonest", yet we support folks who've abandoned more important and relevant campaign promises. We put a higher price/value on sexual dalliances, where a politician has followed his other brain.

No excuses, but whom would we rather have leading the country? One who rails against gays and for "family values", yet has gay clandestine and adulterous relationships, or a realist?

I like him. I like Maria.

Leave the 16th century religious mentality behind.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Can't Have It Both Ways!

For more than three years now the USA has been going through the most harsh economic conditions in recent memory plagued by unemployment, home foreclosures, economic recession & resulting stagnation, and mounting national debt (among other things). The causes are complicated (beyond my comprehension), but several thing are clear: we probably dodged a big bullet due to some questionable remedial decisions, we don't know for sure when the seed to this problem was sowed, that it probably started in the 1990s (during the Clinton years), but that the GW Bush administration. The latter group broke all records for running the country off the cliff, including the unprecedented move of slashing taxes while starting 2 expensive wars.

When the revisionists were quick to blame President Obama for the current economic situation, they cited the fact that he's the President now, he should own it, it's time to stop blaming Bush. They conveniently ignored the fact that the economy and unemployment are a lagging indicator.

But let's give them the benefit of the doubt, like they were acting in good faith.

Enter the location and execution of Osama bin Laden.

Now the Bush apologists are tripping over themselves to trot before the cable "news" shows about how the W agenda is directly responsible for the OBL killing. No matter he gave up on OBL in 2005. Responsible for getting OBL, not responsible for the economy. Hmmmmm....

And, with regard with the popular discussion on the torture thing, consider the following story on WaPo. We miss the point. Whether it works is only one of the 3 questions. Does it work (answered above), is there a more effective method (not torture), and do we want this to be what defines us. Don't forgot we executed Germans and Japanese after WW II for it.

Neighborly Feud

Courtesy of the Seattle Times
I'd bet a Hollywood screen writer could not write a storyline more incredible than the following real life story outlined in this recent one from the Seattle Times. Each development becomes more unbelievable than the last. Dozens of lives negatively impacted, hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds needlessly spent, hundreds of thousands more dollars of private money squandered. All over a stolen and crashed motorcycle. If after reading the story you think there are no more surprises, take a gander at the website of one of the neighbors. Don't miss the "about us" page.

It's stories like this that make me wish that there was a higher power who could step in at some point, stop it, and say "ok folks, you obviously don't have the ability to behave like civilized adults on your own, so I'm taking over the day-to-day operation of your lives", sorta like this episode of Star Trek TOS.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The "Cowboy Way"

There was an interesting "guest editorial" in a local small city paper recently, apparently by a regular citizen without journalistic experience.

It embodies the problem-solving gap in this country, substituting one-dimensional swagger and bravado for informed, nuanced solutions.

First off, though terribly tragic, the occupants of the Quest would be alive today had they followed the guidelines to stay in the outer shipping lanes far off the East Africa coast. Sure, it's their "right" to sail where ever they want in international waters; much as it's my right to walk across the street with a green light while a car is running a red light.

Second, violent escalation will not only fail to solve this issue, it will make it much worse. This is not a collection of street gangs in the image of West Side Story. The folks behind this are well organized syndicates who have access to lots of big weapons, and we're playing in their backyard. They make hundreds of millions off this biz, and have no qualms taking it up a few notches. The kids they send out to sea have no other options, are expendable, are seeing money beyond their wildest dreams, and are plentiful.

Third, the writer naively and conveniently ignores 2 other things: The killing of just a few pirates in this latest incident drew a swift and disproportional response, they are nearly tripling the number of personnel and weapons on ships currently being held, and are threatening to kill more hostages. Oh, and then there's that other nasty fact that they currently hold about 35 vessels and crews (they have little incentive to keep them alive, it's labor intensive, expensive, and they still have the ships as leverage). Do the math.

A John Wayne imitation is simple to do. Solving complex, real world problems is far more sticky.