Somebody named Croal is whining about how hard Halo 3 is to play. I'm on the lookout for his gamertag just so I can frag him my damned self.
Halo 3, I have to say, is an overkill of a game. It has so much of everything that it can be downright intimidating. But that's what we want. People who can't handle the complexity should hide themselves way back in a corner of the map and try to throw grenades at the big boys battling it out on High Ground. Well, I guess that's what blogging at Newsweek is, by definition.
But you know what, I think he's man enough to say that he just doesn't like these kinds of online shooters. The online interactive Halo world is brutal and unforgiving. Noobs get schooled hard in Halo, and there's really no two ways about it. Even the best players are accustomed to getting fragged at least 10 times per game. My average lifespan in the beta has been around 30 seconds, but I've seen it down to around 24. I don't even want to talk about my K/D ration. (I sacrifice for the team). But I have to tell you, everybody gets their ass handed to them in Halo sooner or later. It's one of the great things about the game, you never get so good that it gets boring. Never.
Learning curves are one thing, competency and perfection are everything. What makes Halo so annoyingly great is that as you learn and master new techniques.. well, it's like playing a musical instrument, it's simply that involved. I've said this before and it's why I think the Wii is a joke. The kind of manual dexterity mastery of Halo forces you to acquire is daunting and the subtlety of finding new attacks is sublime.
Here's a couple of examples. I've been playing the beta for about 200 games now, and I've just picked up a couple new techniques, one of them dumb and the other fairly clever enough so that I almost hesitate to mention it it public. The first is that in dual-weilding, which was new to Halo 2, you could still throw grenades. It would automatically unweild your left weapon and you could grenade opponents. Now you have to perform a dummy melee attack to unweild your left weapon and toss the grenade. That extra step is tough to remember when your instinct is just to throw.
The second attack is with a new series of weapons never had before. One of them is called an energy drainer. To deploy it, you hit your X button and it basically rolls out a few feet in front of you, but unless you're moving forward you're going to get yourself in it's target radius. So I came up with a way to jump forward, deploy the weapon, move back and then start strafing the area of deployment for quick kills. Now my enemies are seeing the energy drainer in places they don't expect to find it.
These are tricks that noobs are simply not going to figure out even when they are done to them. The gameplay in 3 is a great deal more nuanced and sophisticated with the new weapons and maps, and they enable combinations of tactics that go far beyond just picking weapons and button mashing. But like Virtua Fighter fans before the days of consoles, a lot of us Halo player have always resented the school of twitch button mashing. Halo gives us all the strategies and tactics and speed we crave. But it does make it damned hard to master the game.
Did I mention vehicles?
What is the opposite of red-lining? It's what Bank of America is getting sued for, nothing more or less than blackface capitalism. Well here's an ass-biter right on cue. Michel Martin gives us the following news:
The issue: a group of black professional employees -- personal bankers, financial advisers -- say they were steered to offer their services only in majority black neighborhoods. And when they complained, their employer, industry behemoth Bank of America, told them that's the way customers would want it to be. Now, B of A didn't want to talk to us -- they said they weren't ready and they issued a statement about how they don't discriminate (you can read it here).
But we were interested in the issue of customer preference. Can an institution do that, if it believes that's what customers want?
We heard from the lawyer for the plaintiffs, and a lawyer for the EEOC (NOT a party to the suit, we just wanted the big picture). We still hope to hear rfom B of A. It's an interesting dilemma.
Like I said, it's an ass-biter. Be careful what you ask for, a big, responsive well-managed corporation might actually deliver it to you, and then what will you do? Why you'll sue them for not understanding what you really mean of course. So with any luck, we'll get a Supreme Court decision defining black community service once and for all. Comfy? I didn't think so.
Of course this sword cuts both ways, but I think in the end the employees ought to lose. A company's first obligation is to fulfill its business. So if it makes employees uncomfortable to tend to the business of the company, then they are not really in much of a position to choose. If the company fails its customers, then employees will eventually be laid off. You can smell the racial double standard a mile away. If white employees said they were uncomfortable being assigned to work black neighborhoods, they'd be tarred and feathered and hung from the highest tree, virtually.
But there are some interesting old black empowerment tactics going on here. Here's my thumbnail sketch on four economic tactics for black empowerment that we discussed a couple years ago at Vision Circle:
* Black Capitalism
* Blackface Capitalism
* Invisiblack Capitalism
Blackface capitalism would be Revlon through their 'Dark & Lovely' product line. White owned and controlled but strictly for the benefit of black consumers.
Ujamaa is small time, cooperative economics. It means going to the black owned barbershop instead of Supercuts.
Black capitalism is best exemplified by some of the black owned and operated car dealerships in Atlanta that I hear on the black radio station with black voices using black vernacular to attract black customers.
My position is that they are all good but black capitalism is best. I would add that there is a fourth, which is 'invisiblack' capitalism in which black controlled corporations provide goods and services to the mainstream in which the race of the management team is black but unknown and materially irrelevant. American Express, Avis, AOL Time Warner are all run by black men, few people know, it makes no impact on their marketing.
Be prepared for some character assassination.
If I were B of A, I would put a high level black employee forward to talk about the depth and length of the banks commitment to serve black communities nationwide and basically how these overpaid whiners are sabotaging that commitment because they and their lawyers just want to get paid, and that as long as we don't discriminate it's our business which employees we assign to which markets.
If I were one of the black employees in question I would suggest how demeaning it is for a person of my professional caliber to be summarily assumed to have a career interest in working such weak markets simply because of the color of my skin, and that B of A is trying to use me as window dressing without my knowledge or consent. And I'd keep a hella low profile and get the resume ready, like yesterday.
So maybe we'll get that old discussion going again. I can see Ward Connorly just chuckling derisively.
Cindy Sheehan is bumping up against the edges of reality, and has begun to realize that she has been (gasp) used. Knowledge is pain.
Knowledge is the basis of wisdom, but merely because Sheehan has begun to poke the walls of the media bubble she filled with emotional hot air does not necessarily mean that she is approaching wisdom. But at least she recognizes the dimensions of her immediate prison. I'm not so sure she realizes the extent to which she put herself in it and let it become reinforced.
You see she still says that her son, the soldier, died for nothing.
To accept the premise that soldiers die for nothing is to accept the idea that wars are meaningless. Wars are infused with meaning because people die, but moreover because men are sent to kill. Those men who are soldiers live by rules of engagement, thus killing and destruction are their jobs. To disagree with the higher purpose of those jobs is a political disagreement, one that is also chockablock with meaning. To assert that there is no meaning, actually means that there is no value to those jobs in service of the political aim one has chosen. There are two choices of political aim, one subtle, the other obvious.
The obvious choice in political aim is that of pacifism. Pacifism is the only political aim which squarely says that there is no higher purpose in the job of soldiering. A pacifist must surely look at a soldier as some kind of sick opportunist who can serve no good end. That is something that must be obvious to a pacifist - but then how could Cindy Sheehan be that? If she had the courage of that conviction then she would have disowned her son the soldier the moment he donned the uniform and took his oath. But her tears, were we to take them seriously, would defy that position.
She might have then taken a more subtle aim in her political difference. Perhaps she thought that soldiering could serve a higher purpose, but she was just politically opposed to that purpose. Instead, she managed to be one of those delusional and oxymoronic people who 'support the troops' yet oppose their mission.
There is but one explanation in my eyes. Cindy Sheehan's position as an 'anti-war mom' was that her motherhood was the greatest purpose of all. She could love her son, the soldier, not because of the man that he chose to be, nor the oath he swore to uphold, but simply because he was her son. It didn't matter what kind of man he was, his life would only matter to her as a son matters to a mother. He was her child, always. We are reminded of the kind of face only a mother could love. She could overlook all of the politics, all of the facts of the adult world in service of the emotional commitment and pathos of a grieving mother. Call me a heartless bastard, but I never fell for it.
In the end, Cindy Sheehan must be convinced that her son died for her and her alone. Thus she alone can be the sole arbiter of what meaning his life and death meant. Now that her media campaign has run off the rails established by Democrat operatives and the MSM she is stuck with trying to find some new way to spin 'meaningless death'. Good luck. The real world has already decided. She will never be free of her prison until she realizes that she and Army Specialist Casey Sheehan are symbols and that their meaning is not in their exclusive control.
"But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special."
-- Dashiell Robert Parr
This morning, somebody from the Manhattan Institute was speaking with Bill Bennett on his radio show about a 'second underclass' being formed if immigration from Mexico continues apace. She wasn't exactly breathless but she did ring the alarm. I have to tell you, I agree but I'm not alarmed, but there are some interesting ways to look at a 'second underclass'.
Legal Slavery vs Voluntary Slavery
My main position on immigration is that it must be legal, after that, I am not concerned about the disposition of Americans so long as the rule of law is maintained and the economy is strong. In other words, I'm not particularly concerned about a second underclass, so long as it is not legally enforced. I see that legal enforcement in the breach in considering the fate of the 'undocumented worker'. It is essentially true that a illegal immigrant has no rights a citizen is bound to respect echoing a similar sentiment of the Jim Crow era. The difference is that race discrimination was legally sanctioned and contracts with blacks were not enforced. Today no such legal barriers are in force. So that is why I strenuously argue against illegal immigration, especially when people exclaim about Mexican 'rights' to be here.
Mexicans who disabuse their Mexican citizenship at the risk of running afowl of American law and society are volunteering to be second-class citizens in a country which may or may not honor their rights. This is a calculated risk that I respect, and so I shed no tears for the victims of abuse. I think of illegal labor as indentured servitude. From a moral perspective I find it appalling to have a nation with two separate societies and rules. I would much prefer a society with a clean floor and citizenship should be the bright line.
The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Get Poorer
As I thought about this situation of income inequality the other day, I neglected to put in the population of the US. I think everyone knows that we're somewhere north of 300 million. So 12 million illegals may be a drop in the economic and political bucket, but that's not so much the issue as the principle of two sets of rights. Even so, as the caller noted on the Bennett show, it wreaks havoc on the public schools, jails and hospitals in the most affected areas.
According to the Manhattan Institute caller, the high school dropout rate is about 50% for Hispanics in California, which is roughly what it was for blacks in the 1940s. So in one way it can be said that Mexican immigrants are 60 years behind the black curve. In another way, it can be said that the poor get poorer. I mean that in the following way. If the poor are say 10% of America (30 million) and the poorest of the poor are illegal immigrants making below minimum wage, then the overall poor are poorer than they ordinarily would be. The poorer are not the same poor, they are a larger poor. They include the poor of the Internal Third World who crept across the border because it's better to be dirt poor in America than dirt poor in Mexico (or anywhere else for that matter).
In 1940, by the way, there were only 132 million Americans, less than half of the number we have today, about 15 million were black. In 1960s there was no such thing as credit cards. Financial instruments of that sort were simply not available to the middle class, nor were there things like e-Trade, and most people had never read a word from the Wall Street Journal. Today we talk about the Investor Class all the time. That is because there are a number of new classes of people in America. A great deal has changed in 60 years. America has new upper classes and new lower classes. The question is, how should an American be treated like an American if they are dirt poor?
Double Standards & The Nanny State
I just had to use that subtitle, it's so appealing don't you agree? But if the tally of the foot-vote of California Hispanics say that half don't value a high school education, what part of the American dream are they chasing? I think it is obvious that they are chasing a middle class American dream, but the fact that they do so in the ways that perhaps blacks did back in the days when George Washington Carver was still alive should tell us something. Namely that Hispanic achievement in 2000 shouldn't be measured against what people with an ideological agenda might think, but what is realistic from the class perspective of a people who don't graduate from highschool and are not fluent in English. If that is the flavor of our internal Third World, sobeit. Let's not pretend otherwise. Moreover let's not pretend that this is out of keeping with American or world history.
A path to citizenship is the right way for illegals who touch base and proceed legally according to the 'Pence Provision', but that is not a magic carpet ride to the American middle class. We should not be persuaded that some lack of progress by such folks as constitute an internal Third World is America's fault or the fault of some racist agenda. America's ghettos will slowly turn over, and they are better today than they were in the 40s. There's no Jim Crow at work keeping 'them out of our schools'.
But we should also think about the kind of economies that make sense for the inner city schools of today. They are not all going to be college prep. They shouldn't be, and the idea that they should be serves nothing but the wishful thinking of activists without a grip on reality. The reality is that people from anywhere around the globe whose ambitions end with a high school education (if they go that high) are destined to work in Third World economies, Second World if they are fortunate. But the American education system should not only be for the fortunate, but for a nation of 300 million, and that means we have to accept millions upon millions upon millions of dropouts as productive citizens - NOT as illegals and guest workers and otherwise temporary and disposable people who ultimately constitute a second underclass.
Cotton Picking Hands
Too much is being made of the 'culture' of Mexicans, their language and heritage. There is nothing to be said in support of a 'culture' of poverty, illiteracy, illegitimacy and other such dysfunctions as are the endemic plague of the Mojado. Even today, thoughtful people decry the association of African American culture with the depravity of hiphop. Why should Mexican Americans be saddled with such essentialist burdens as are the identifiable hallmarks of the Internal Thirds? There is nothing inherently Mexican about picking crops by hand. Sure there is a Mexican subculture that supports that way of life that most Americans forgot. But that is the point of American social mobility, to allow citizens to achieve and forget the culture of menial labor. Mexicans should not be considered grape-pickers any more than blacks today are considered cotton-pickers. It is merely a stepping stone.
American law is not going to be rewritten in Spanish, just the labels on garden tools and janitorial supplies. That is what 'Hispanic' means today, but it is not and should not be considered permanent. But so long as there is an Internal Third World and unskilled labor is going to be part of our economy, we need to make space for it and peace with it. That means we are going to need towns, rural areas and small cities that function well within the American legal framework and yet supply and service America with the low cost labor our economy demands.
I say cheap goods can be and should be made in America. I say cheap services can be and should be provided to our cities and suburbs. I say there should be no second class citizenship, but that America must learn once again how to embrace those members of society who are not educated and not going to be educated. It is a terrible shame that there is now a language barrier and something of a culture barrier between us and them while the law keeps us in an 'equality-like' proximity. I think things were better for Aunt Jemima and Old Joe, because at least we sung the same old spirituals. (I bet a nickel Thomas Sowell makes much of this in his 'Black Rednecks' book). But I seriously worry that some racial rules and radical multiculturalism will undermine the direct relationships Americans form with the lower classes of today and tomorrow. We can't allow such fictions to hold sway. People are who they are, just let them be Americans.
The Inevitability of Segregation
I'm not talking about legally enforced racial segregation. I am talking about what I will just basically call the natural order of things, or technically the social implications of Dunbar's Number. To use another cliche, good fences make good neighbors. We ought to maintain some healthy respect for the differences that allow us to have our circles of friends and associates. We should take our class roles a bit more seriously in the context of our citizenship and our industry. Unless and until we can do that well, we are going to allow the ideology of a classless society set us against each other demanding equality of results and destroying the possibility of ever maintaining high standards. Until we can respect our richer and our poorer, our talented and our unskilled for whom exactly we are in God's eyes, then we will destroy this country by taking it to the lowest common denominator. And if we don't fix our immigration policy and enforcement, that denominator won't even be citizenship under Constitutional law.
It's true that I watch Reality TV, but not Flavor of Love.
It is Bear Gylls that has me nailed to the tube after a week away from the Tivo. He's an ex-special forces Brit who parachutes into some wilderness and then gives himself five days to make it back to civilization. Along the way he gives us all kinds of lessons in survival that we might use if we were somehow stranded on the lava beds of Kilauea or lost in the rain forest of Costa Rica. It's highly entertaining to watch he dig for grubs and eat them as he weathers the horrors of the wild.
I've seen him eat snakes both raw and cooked. I've seen him eat termites, ants, maggots and worms. I've watched him hit a rabbit with a boomerang stick at 10 yards. I've seen him freak out in his lean-to in the middle of the night on the possibility that there might be a grizzly in the area. I've seen him retch in the rain, boil his drinking water, navigate rapids without a boat, (barely) climb out of a crevasse in a glacier, and actually jump through ice into a frozen lake to demonstrate the effects of hypothermia. I've seen him make fires about 4 different ways and make beds in snow, river rock, pine needles and just plain dirt. I've seen him navigate by stars, by an improvised sundial and by following streams. He has faced angry elephants, hippo and fer de lances. I watched him get bucked off a wild horse he tried to tame and get dizzy from volcanic sulfur dioxide gas. I've even seen his shoes catch fire.
I've never heard him explain why.
Presumably, this is all done for our benefit. We eco-tourists do tend to get a little off track sometimes. It is very useful to know that in Costa Rica you can drink the water but in the Sierra Nevada you should not and that on the savanna you should look for high ground instead of low. But the more I watch this guy, the more I think how doofy it is to expect anything romantic about the wilderness in the first place. It's brutal out there, and I have no need to test my manhood against the elements. I would guess the millions in my league of couch potatoes are thinking the same thing. Who is this loony Brit and what's he going to try next? But more than that, what is the value in all this?
Now it's true that I can remember working with a particularly nebbish looking consultant from Andersen back in Connecticut. He totally redeemed himself in my eyes by revealing that he was an ice climber. I grew up in Southern Cal and have been a card carrying member of the Sierra Club. I've climbed Whitney twice. Once the front way and once the back way. And I've done enough hiking to the top of mountains in my youth so that I had to be convinced that skiing was anything but the stupidest, laziest idea known to man. I've even climbed a rock face or two and bodysurfed in 10 foot waves. But that's about the extent of my daredeviltry. If I ever had a desire to continue on that arc, it was halted by reading 'Into Thin Air' by Jon Krakauer. Climbing Everest is an outer expression of an inner compulsion. I have an inner bhudda. Maybe that's why I'm getting fat.
Yet, I understand and am sympathetic to this aspect of manhood. We have to conquer our minds and will and demonstrate that by the proofs of putting our bodies at risk. The moment of facing the pain and the fear in the face of foolish defeat is truly mentally liberating. I can still remember that moment in my life. Fortunately it only came at the cost of a knee capable of running long distances rather than an arm or a leg. There is something very powerful about taking one's own life into one's hands.
This level of self-mastery has many expressions, and I'm afraid that out here in California, leaders of Western culture that we are, we've gone a bit too extreme. Another reality show I don't watch is 'Stunt Junkies'. I'm prone to laugh derisively at the nut-crunching pratfalls of skateboard rail-grinders. Dumbass! This is what we've been reduced to, the whoop of a 360, the meaning of which is entirely disconnected from any civilized virtue. It's all vanity I say. Being on the Pacific Rim, you might think we would entertain a bit more Aikido or Yoga, and we do a fair bit of martial arts, but the depth of that discipline is wasted in our culture. For us it's all about nailing the trick, busting the move and even in martial arts breaking the brick or taking it in the 'nads.
I think Grylls is an admirable fellow, and I'd certainly want him on my team. You know he has good taste in watches, knives and the like. However there is something great lost in our culture that I think is slipping away, or is at least confined to the margins, and that is the tightness of virtue and prowess. In another time I might have called it, after Mishima, the unity of pen and sword. But this time around I think my appreciation is a bit more subtle. It is the virtue of strength and courage without the effeminate and vain pomposity that attends most of our celebrities. And I believe that it is that corruption of our core that makes the kind of testing Grylls demonstrates necessary if only to remind us of what we're missing that causes us to 'adventure'.
We're missing civilization, or more properly, we are missing our appreciation of civilization. One premise of 'Man vs Wild' is If it takes Grylls more than five days to find another human being the deal is off. It's one of those artificial deadlines that increases the drama of such reality series, but you must admit it's a bit more serious than not being able to weld the tank on the next custom motorcycle in time. It's also a clue as to how fast one can get on or off the grid of civilization. But within the span of those five days, minus Grylls' combat survuval skills, we'd be reduced to blithering idiots, if not dead ones. It's something we should keep in mind the next time we complain about taxes, politics, work or the quality of food on airplanes.
2. The chief cause of misunderstanding is the issue of trust. The White House thought that that if they had all sorts of conservative mechanisms in the bill that conservatives would be placated. What they didn't understand is that the anti-"amnesty" wing of the Republican party simply doesn't believe any of these enforcement measures will implemented until they in fact are implemented. "Trust but verify" has simply become "verify." And until there is real enforcement — both in terms of current law and new laws — the base simply doesn't care about any other bells and whistles. "Been there done that" is the de facto official policy of the base when it comes to promises of enforcement, i.e. "No more promises, just enforcement. Then we'll talk" (This basic reality is why I came out in favor of a wall on the border).
If we actually believed that Bush could do what he said he says he wants to do... well that would be quite a world, wouldn't it?
I am fond of thinking of America and many other places as well in feudal terms. One of my axioms of this view is that 'rights are the gift of the strong'. The long translation of that is that if you are weak and unwilling to partner with the strong, you spend a lot of time foraging. Extending this metaphor culturally, such foragers live in Sherwood Forest wherein occasionally a hero will arise. However for the most part people in Sherwood Forest are ill-kept, rude, stupid, loud and essentially uncivilized. Moreover they pretend to enjoy freedom whilst they steal for serfs and any unlucky person of means.
This phenomenon is old and unsurprising. Surely before feudalism there were other ins and outs of society. But let's stick tho this one. I bring this up because I am the unfortunate receiver of such missives from the fringes of Sherwood Forest periodically. A thoughtful reader sent me the following from Thomas Chatterton Williams:
The historian Paul Fussell notes that for most Americans, it is difficult to "class sink." Try to imagine the Chinese American son of oncologists -- living in, say, a New York suburb such as Westchester, attending private school -- who feels subconsciously compelled to model his life, even if only superficially, on that of a Chinese mafioso dealing heroin on the Lower East Side. The cultural pressure for a middle-class Chinese American to walk, talk and act like a lower-class thug from Chinatown is nil. The same can be said of Jews, or of any other ethnic group.
But in black America the folly is so commonplace it fails to attract serious attention. Like neurotics obsessed with amputating their own healthy limbs, middle-class blacks concerned with "keeping it real" are engaging in gratuitously self-destructive and violently masochistic behavior.
Sociologists have a term for this pathological facet of black life. It's called "cool-pose culture." Whatever the nomenclature, "cool pose" or keeping it real or something else entirely, this peculiar aspect of the contemporary black experience -- the inverted-pyramid hierarchy of values stemming from the glorification of lower-class reality in the hip-hop era -- has quietly taken the place of white racism as the most formidable obstacle to success and equality in the black middle classes.
The author essentially demonstrates that he is familiar with the literature, but the breathless tone of all that is just another brick in the wall over here. We've heard the sob stories before. They are as old as Sherwood Forest. Still and all, there is traffic to be made recirculating these stories of sociological woe in blackface. Conversely there is a similarly, less profitable but more sensible job to be done reminding those who forget that black does not equal dysfunctional. Not because it's not polite to say so, but because certain folks are doing the work.
I'll also tell another story I am fond of repeating. This one is more close to modern times. When I was a teenager, I used to hang out at Venice Beach. In fact, I was part of the junior guard program there the summer of my fourteenth year. As most folks know, Venice has always been a hippie hangout, and during all those times of palm readers, doom sayers, numerologists and other flim-flam artists, I never once saw a man dressed sensibly with a stack of encyclopedias explaining the actual truth about the world. I thought it would be a very good, albeit thankless job.
So long as I've got the passion to write, I suppose that will be my thankless job - to recount my own path from the center of a principled blackness to now. Now will always be the time where all kinds of folks will stand to remind us of the psychological, economic, sociological doom faced by African Americans by dint of their music, dress, speech patterns, work patterns, or whatever else PhDs are writing about today. But over here in the Old School, we'll understand the simple fact about people that everybody else seems to forget: they are uncivilized until civilized. It a conservative view as well. We have no reason to believe that man's better nature will express itself absent some structure requiring honor. We know that in Sherwood Forest, there is no honor among the trees. You have to leave that squalor and tend to farming or some such reputable industry.
There are any number of reasons ample numbers of people can be found in civilization's backwoods, but at in America this seems to be a matter of constant surprise. Or perhaps a more charitable view of the intellect if not the character of Americans is that we are too polite to assume those reasons. Or perhaps it is even more fair to say that there are those who profit from the denial of those reasons. Either way it is more important that we deal with the results no matter what the reasons are. It seems to me that the first thing one ought to do in dealing with the uncivilized nature of today's rogue populations is to properly shun them. But this requires an abiding faith in the superiority of cultured men over the uncultured and vulgar which far too many Americans have lost. I understand and respect the Samaritan reflex in all of its sociological sophistication, but did we ever stop for a moment and consider the extent to which the denizens of our moder Sherwood Forests wish to remain there?
The 'benign' assumption is that any human given a choice between civilization and feral existence would chose civilization. Given a choice between good music and vulgar hiphop they would choose the good. Between calling women 'ladies' and 'bitches' they would choose the former. Between taking a few years out of one's adult life to gain an education or a skill they would choose that over ignorance and indolence. But no. People continue to be other than who they might be. And some of us are shocked about this. I am not.
I have looked into the eye of the sinful, slothful man and I have called him that to his face. And he laughed and pretended that his kind were the majority. They might be. They might be. Over here we try to keep our eyes on the prize. And so we try not to mind too much, the business of Sherwood Forest other than to acknowledge straightly that it exists and is to be traversed only when armed and alert. Pity the poor man who makes his living studying that Forest.
Every once in a while, some Progressive politician will look at 'the world' and find a way to make the US look bad. I've grown accustomed to the style. Now we're coming to a sacred cow of mine, which is mobility. Yesterday I was too busy hanging out with my son to be bothered commenting. Today I feel marginally more wonky.
The relationship between parent's and children's income is the indicator of relative mobility. I'm going to make two basic criticisms and then let this sleeping dog lie.
1. Scandinavian countries are not good benchmarks for America. I'm not sure that they are for Europe either, but they always lie at the up end of some hockey stick of arbitrary predictors of the good life. In their socialist way, I suppose such things are predictable like cost of living increases mandated by the state, but they are also relatively small countries. Their isn't a lot of dynamism at work in those places. I tend to think of them as partial demographics. That is to say, anything you can say about Finland, you can say about any particular American suburb or university. It's small and isolated enough to be artificial.
2. The difference in mobility (as defined) in America is always going to be harder to make upward given the breadth of income disparity we have. Which is to say that if you take me as an example, I think it might explain a lot. Right now I'm making a relative ton of bucks. Or I should say that I have consistently, over the past decade, made better than 70k every year, to be conservative about it. That's pretty good. In a country like Denmark, I think it would be damned spectacular. Last year I did way better. I'll say that I paid something like 32K in taxes (so way better than 70K in income). Now if my kids grew up and only made 60K a year, I'm not going to sweat it.
So in absolute and relative numbers, there are a lot more high income Americans whose children are not going to make high incomes, and that's OK. That doesn't say so much about mobility as it does about high income, the upper end of which is uniquely American. I think this is a significant fact that father/son mobility in these terms doesn't account for.
I would note that that, macroeconomically speaking 1974 is a significant year. Even I have heard that the American boom ended right about a the beginning of the Carter years. I still remember the inflation and the shock when I left high school to find that everything I knew got priced out of sight. So I'm not particularly surprised about the macro trend. I'm also very much aware of how the employment picture has changed in America, relative to what was business as usual in the 70s. The idea that I wouldn't work for Xerox, the way we used to think of Xerox, for my entire career and get promoted predictably in a meritocratic way, is a new idea. Contract employment, virtual corporations and global outsourcing are all new phenomena, as are the way public corporations are evaluated by the market. All of that makes for less predictable patterns of employment in the US, and I think very little of that is happening in Scandinavia.
I can't find my copy of 'America Alone' which is guiding my belief that these native populations are not reproducing, so I'll leave that and the gay marriage tangents alone.
Note the following populations:
Such are the size of controllable populations.
Note also some ugly truth:
The myriad successes of the Nordic countries are no miracle, they were born of a combination of Lutheran modesty, peasant parsimony, geographical determinism and ruthless pragmatism ("The Russians are attacking? Join the Nazis! The Nazis are losing? Join the Allies!"). These societies function well for those who conform to the collective median, but they aren't much fun for tall poppies. Schools reign in higher achievers for the sake of the less gifted; "elite" is a dirty word; displays of success, ambition or wealth are frowned upon. If you can cope with this, and the cost, and the cold (both metaphorical and inter-personal), then by all means join me in my adopted hyggelige (home). I've rustled up a sorrel salad and there's some expensive, weak beer in the fridge. Pull up an Egg. I hear Taggart's on again!
I am on record saying that the current immigration bill is like a swiss army knife, no matter which way you stand it stabs you in the back. It is an unlovable thing. But I'm not sure that it deserves so much scorn. In the end, it is going to be the best our Congress will do.
In one way there are some real strengths to it. What I'm calling the Pence provision echoes exactly what I wanted when we went over these matters last time. You can't really do better than voluntary self-deportation.
But before I go praising the bill, let me get all my gripes on the table.
Gripeset One: Lax Current Enforcement
1. We were promised a wall. Where's the wall?
2. We were promised anti-tunnel provisions. Where are they?
Gripeset Two: Probable Future Lax Enforcement
Gripeset Three: Building Compromise into the Bill
But while I was lost on the freeways of Houston yesterday, desperately trying to get to the Continental President's Club, I listened to Dennis Prager defend several of the bill's provisions fairly well. I'm beginning to think that this bitter tasting salad may just have enough iron and vitamins to make us healthy.
Anyway, the roughneck provisions of the law that appeal to me are:
1. January 7, 2007 is the drop dead date. Anyone who crosses illegally never gets back in legally.
2. No aunts, cousins, parents or various other hangers-on get in. Only minor children.
3. You must touch base if you're busted. File papers in your home country and go to the back of the line.
4. Applicants of the sort busted in #3 have to wait at least 13 years to get citizenship.
5. Such applicants must prove 5 years of continuous work. No welfare loafers allowed, no major crime allowed.
As for this bill being 'amnesty', I don't see it, quite frankly. Point it out to me. The statute of limitations on second degree murder is four years. That's not amnesty. Class B Scofflaws have to wait an additional 5 years and pay a $5K fine. That's a fairly hard line.
So basically now somebody has to prove to me that this is more than just an unfunded mandate, or other holes. Despite the fact that I see all kinds of difficulties in its implementation, so far it sounds like good law. Since it substantially does Pence, I'm for it.
Now the other side of this equation is border security. I'm all for having that handled separately. The overlap of course is of great concern, but I am willing to believe that this Immigration bill does right by Immigration, if not by national security. Mojados are not a threat to national security, they are a threat to the rule of law. If this law is enforced, I believe that threat will be greatly diminished.
There's another important disambiguation we've got to deal with which is the entire infrastructure question. Assuming that the Twelve Million are every bit as loathsome and butt-draggy as we spew, how are states supposed to deal with that many more legal Americans in 13 years? That is to say, since it's obvious that they're flooding emergency rooms, how many more are we planning for? If it's obvious that they're overcrowding the classrooms, how many more are we planning for? It seems rather obvious to me that $5K is a puny fee if you get to pay it over 8 years, so are legislators just going to punt to another bond measure to upgrade America to handle 12 million new Americans? Seems pretty short sighted to me.
The citizenship problem may very well be solved by this bill, so if people still have complaints aren't they just piling on? If not, then where are the other plans?
And, since I tend to see the world with the eyes of a poet, I'm always
alert to the subtext of experience. I say "I" because I don't know any
other way to name the observing presence that seems to always be riding
on the saddle of my self-awareness. It really doesn't have a lot to do
with me as a person and there are plenty of times I could do without it
quite nicely, thank you. But I heed it when it has something of value
to point out..
-- Gerard Van Der Leun
My dreams have been pleasant of late and yet I know it cannot last.
I'm worried about my children's future because I know of mankind's past.
Jeez what a heartbreaking game. I was expecting Pennant to make one of his unstoppable runs get an assist or two but it never happened. Instead AC Milan just took all the wind out of Liverpool who had dominated the first half with possession. Just no precision on Liverpool's strikes. Pshh.
Alan Berliner has a better office than I, and when his wife gets upset with him, she calls him sweetie.
I'm watching his movie, Wide Awake. It's dense. It's personal. It's self-inventive. This is a guy I'm connected to because he buzzes in the same way that I do. He ought to find this blog and freak out, but chances are that he won't. I'll try not to care about that for the time being, but I'm thinking of two other people at once and that's problematic. The people are Spaulding Gray and Joe Frank.
At this very moment. The highlighted text flashed his name. Shit. Spaulding Gray. I had it on Wikipedia to make sure i spelled it right.
The difference between a filmmaker and a writer is that a filmmaker is more generous. He allows other people's images to talk. He allows other people to collaborate and work. He has to collaborate. Writers are more megalomaniacal. We're more hermetic. We don't. We don't have to sell, I suppose. We don't care if people get it. We have to own the worlds in the words, to suck them in, warp them around, decon, recon, craft it out. Can I do it without a cliche? Can I?
I'm watching HBO for the first time in about two years tonight. They are advertising their new dramatic season. It's a deep dark off balance world. It's artistic. It doesn't need to care because there are angles and reflections and splinters of interest. You can keep looking and keep asking questions. Its inventive design compels you to tilt your head and enjoy the mysterious quirks. It is therefore infinite. It can't be political. Politics has to make sense. Bill Maher never has to make sense, he has to make you laugh which means he has to invent. Good politics don't make you laugh. Good politics make you weep. Sound rhetoric is the reason. Sound rhetoric forms the partition between privacy and tragedy. Sound rhetoric makes discernible silhouettes of bloody bodies about to fall, outlining yet masking the gore. Sound rhetoric is the essential abstract central to good politics. It cannot afford to be inventive. Politics is finite because it is about men. It is therefore never funny. Yorick is dead.
Today while listening to the local Right Radio station announce its love for this book, I extended the lunch and found a Borders. So I bought it and while I was having dinner for the second night in a row at Houston's it occurred to me that I should give it to the father and son in the booth next to me. But I wanted to consume it even though it was mostly familiar and give it to my own son and nephews. That was the original purpose, though it is perhaps the fifth book I own which describes the battle of Hastings. Yet now I know it was October 14th, another 1A2D callsign (O14) that I could use in extending the brotherhood of English speakers around the world.
Like Berliner, I need black file cabinets, but with small drawers. That will be my birthday present to me. The question is where will I put them.
I've been thinking about my friend Larry. He pretends not to know me, and perhaps it is for my own good that he doesn't bother. He's the most powerful man I know and so I am rightly fascinated by him and scared to death of him. Still I know that he is just a man who is as frail as any man. I'm reading C.S. Lewis, you know, and I admire the way he speaks - for he was speaking what I'm reading - and he too is a man to be greatly feared. For he has been taken up as a prophet, and he speaks of the packages that God has left on our doorsteps, and he reads his own package, frail genius he is and he nails us all to the same cross. Because we are all men, and we know it. And we're all going to die and we weave strengths while we may.They fascinate. They frighten.
The truth of self is negotiable. Beware how many people you listen to. Try to find a politics or else you'll ask too many questions. You'll need to many bookshelves. You'll never get any sleep. Too many people are out there trying to be inventive and entertaining and they don't give us any sound rhetoric, they only give us sounds.
This Berliner. I like him because he is serious and frail. He asks questions of himself without being transparent. For all the faces he makes, he gives us a backlit screen. It is his eye staring into the camera at 4 in the morning feeling pain and negotiating between his own life and that of those he has pledged to protect. He knows to let his baby crumple the work of photojournalists because some questions need to end right there instead of in black boxes to be referred to at a time to be named later.
But that is the curse of the filmmaker. He must assemble his vocabulary from the public domain because he cannot turn the camera inside. Except Alan Berliner did, in that moment with images totally incoherent outside of his dilemma. That's good work.
The book is entitled 'The Dangerous Book for Boys'. It is dangerous because it contains facts which have survived for centuries. It stares directly at the reader and tells what is, and how to master some part of that. It could be massive but it is not. It needn't be. It is a good abstract, well told. That too is good work.
And now one more thing.
Along with C.S. Lewis, I am reading murder mysteries. I just came to realize why I allow it. Because I know there is a hero. The same is true of the books I've read by Marcinko, and Littel and others. They get deep into the brambles and thorns these writers. They come out OK because they accept some finality. Their acceptance of that finality makes their frailty disappear, it makes them eternal instead of eternally asking clever questions. Just to write the fiction is to accept that are times when questions must be settled and that we all know the right thing to do. To do it about self is even a greater undertaking, for even as we weave, we are frail in the telling, and sometimes the words never quite get out.
Like many people half my age, I've got Halo 3 Beta fever. I've already played about 70 games online and have ranked up a bit, but not up to my usual standing. This week I'm out of town again and away from my console. Now that I've heard that they added a banshee to Valhalla, my fever temperature has risen again. So last night I looked for a gaming cafe in Houston.
Oh the pathos.
Somehow I just don't understand PC LAN party style gamers. I mean I think I understand what they are trying to do, but the very idea of paying 40 bucks or so for all the fun you can have on a rented PC in some dark room that's not your own dark room? How sad. And these guys are out there still playing Counterstrike. How absolutely pathetic.
There are about three gaming cafes in Houston if google is to be believed, but all of their websites appear out of date. None of them have XBox 360s and none of them appear to have more than 30 PCs. It basically means you'd be gaming with the same folks, which I suppose is not so bad if you're 13 and your mom wants to know where you are at all times IRL and virtually. But I can't even conceive of gaming without thousands of folks online. I mean, my Friends List on XBox live is 77 long and I've taken a lot of time to pare that down from 100. I could easily have 256 friends, I wonder if XBox Live might let me, some time in the future.
I understand Warcraft and all that. I understand Second Life and all that. What I don't understand is how gaming cafes manage to stay open or how their business model will remain useful. As a kid and young adult who has been to all of America's greatest and seediest arcades, I've seen the end of that era. Gaming cafes are just extended life support. Broadband to the home is real and the need to go to the local cafe can only continue if they become part of a network of semi-pro and professional competitions.
I haven't been much of a sports gamer, so I can't tell you how successful the XSN (Xbox Sports Network) has been. I do know that XBox Live gamers continue to complain about EA's server network. But there might still be some reasonable expectations from the conventional tournaments held online by all of the gamers. Bungie's enablement of video sharing for Halo and the Heroes' Channel for Project Gotham Racing are good ideas. But none of that matches the thrill of a real sports venue with megascreens, glitz and chatter.
So I think I can manage to survive a week without buying myself a travel XBox, but I didn't think that gaming cafes, the alternative, would be so far behind the console times. Their loss.
Let us presume the inevitability of three things.
1. America forgets about Iraq.
2. One terrorist attack succeeds on American soil through Mexico.
3. The coming immigration bill is loaded with compromise.
This is the nightmare that awaits.
There is a world of backlash spring loaded in the politics of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. If you thought Pete Wilson and prop 187 were harsh, you've seen nothing yet. This time, other states will get into the action. Employers who hire illegals will be punished. Public companies will be trashed. I-9 forms will become de-rigeur. American business travelers will start using passports instead of drivers licenses. English-only initiatives will resurge.
It's going to be ugly.
From the WSJ:
Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn't you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.
American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.
With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.
I always liked this guy better than John Kerry, but that's easy to say.
Neoconservatism has been giving me a headache now for several months. Ever since the wind came out of the Republican balloon, we've had our backs to the wall. And the nastiness keeps coming, even to the point of sacking Wolfowitz for essentially being Wolfowitz. No good deed goes unpunished, but maybe punishing neocons deserves some punishment back. This afternoon I am sorely tempted by Gerard. Maybe we ought to take our football and go home. After all, that's what all those selfish Democrats want - out of the world so we can crank up welfare at home.
8) Oil? We'll be drilling the entire states of Alaska, California, Texas, and Oklahoma for two years along with the Pacific and the Caribbean. After which we'll clean them up better than before because its what we do and we do it best. (Eco-nuts protesting this will be given honorary Swedish citizenship and deported via the alimentary canals of polar bears.)
But if we need extra oil and we ask, you'd better think twice before you say no. We'll always have enough in the strategic petroleum reserve for B-52's and our carrier groups. If we have to send them out, they will be, we promise you, in a very bad mood. Very bad.
But, hey, it's a free world. Make our day.
9) You got that part about the Navy (surface fleet at least) coming home, right? This means we'll no longer be guaranteeing the safety of the sea lanes throughout the world, so if any of your tankers get lost or you see a big fleet of ships coming across the straits towards, say, Taiwan, well, call up North Korea and see if you can get a witness.
10) We're sort of tuckered out here and not a little bit cranky because of it, so please don't do anything that interrupts our picnics and naps. Should any of you take it in your little pin-heads to bug us, please understand that we reserve the right to, well, "over-react" and give you a live demo of how to turn sand into glass in your own backyard. (See below) Learn the inner meaning of our temporary national motto: Noli me tangere.
See? People make a big deal about the difference between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, but we're all Americans and we're after what suits us best. When Republicans get completely fed up with making the distinctions between Sunnis in Al Anbar and Shiites in Basra, you will all fall to the lowest common denominator: Them. And guess what, that means our attention to you all will basically be whatever PBS says, and the majority of us don't care about PBS.
As long as the US military was in your dirt, you had a chance at the American heart, or at least the most principled and Christian of us, the Conservatives. But we've about had it up to here with all the spitting we've been getting in return for our willingness to sacrifice blood and treasure for the liberty nobody seems to give two camel shits about.
That means it's going to end bad for you all. Whoever you are. Because when we lose, and if we become a minority party, it's going to be all about us again. You won't have the benefits of our boots. Maybe we'll launch a cruise missile or two, but the troops... they'll all be back home playing Halo 3.
For now, I feel guilty as hell for adopting this attitude. But I also respect the rule of the majority in the world's greatest democracy. I know we tried our best to maintain neoconservative foreign policy, but we cannot sustain the political momentum at home. That means.. well, you'll figure out what 'America Alone' means the hard way
I am perfectly willing to acknowledge two classes of illegal immigrants and I wouldn't mind if the immigration bill in the sausage-making phase were to reflect this difference. I would use this analogy.
Class B Illegals - The Scofflaw
These are the folks who come over legally and for whatever reason overstay their welcome. They perhaps had an H-1B or a Student Visa and are now overdue to a trip to the INS to bring their papers up to date. They are certainly technically here illegally, but they have made I think in most cases, a good faith effort. Some are better or worse offenders, but they were essentially on the legal track.
I think of these folks rather like the car owners who bought and paid for their cars, but maybe don't have insurance, or didn't renew their registration. I think they should be fined and charged with a misdemeanor under any new immigration law. But we should not deport them - we should impound their car and not let them get it back until they fix their papers.
Class A Illegals - The Mojado
These are the people who have decided that they are not even going to try to go the legal path. Notice that this is, essentially, the 'undocumented worker'. No papers. These are people who would attempt to insinuate themselves into the System by having all of the other accouterments of American life except the most important one, citizenship.
I think of these people just like car thieves. They are using the vehicle for their own ends with no regard to the legal process of purchasing, registration or insurance. Or perhaps they are attempting to fraudulently legitimate their use. These people should be charged with a felony and deported.
I don't think we have too many cars on the road, but everyone who subverts the system destroys the commons and undermines the rule of law as well as respect for it. The only way to establish respect for the process of immigration in America is to insist on enforcement for the law. You simply cannot drive around with no plates and tags. If this system isn't fixed for real, then there is going to be road rage.
1. I have yet to see any lag. Sometimes it takes a little long to get a session started, but once it does, Halo3 is pretty much lag-proof. I noticed one tiny glitch on my second day of playing hours at a time, which is what made me think of it. Wow. A lag. It was gone in a second and it made me realize what a good job had been done.
2. Return of the MA5C
Aww. I get all sentimental over this gun. What a sweet thing to do. It's back and it's just right. In fact, it's so cool that you'll forget that there are no pistols in this game.
3. Power Drainer
I have yet to use this wisely. One of my tactics now is just to use grenades and devices to limit were my opponents can hide. This is an excellent tool for just that. It's especially excellent in cramped spaces, other people's gun dances and on King of the Hill. So, never say I didn't give you a clue.
Always starting with two grenades is a huge plus in my book. This may have been the old difference between slayer and slayer pro, but I'm not interested in checking that difference out. There is nothing so lovely as running up on a huge cache of grenades strung out it a row. Spike grenades are great and they do exactly what I've been needing grenades to do forever, stick in one place while an over-zealous pursuer is on my tail.
Snowbound is a great map because there are so many different and challenging environments a great combination for close in battles and outside sniping. What is clearly evident is that the level design in Halo is far beyond that of any other kind of game. The placement of weapons and the size of the playing field and the kinds of battles that are generated because of the environments are evidence of the genius and testing behind this game. Some of the setups are just astounding. It took about two days for there to be a battle in the large cave, the one in the center, but that was very excellent. Right now people are shying away from the underground for more than 2 or 3 people, but I expect some awesome battles.
6. High Ground
HG is my new favorite map. I took an instant liking to it just like I did with Zanzibar. If there is a designer with a name, then you can definitely feel his touch here on the details as with Turf which became a favorite. There are new materials and surfaces and new places to get that provide good targets. The broken concrete is great on the right side of the wall and the bunker. It has the feel of a military base, and the amount of decay is good too. This is classic Halo.
A good map as far as large maps are concerned, but very boring for four on four. I was surprised to find how quickly a single sniper can cover most of the field, however. In BTB, this one should rock. On the waterfall side, the rocks over the river look like half a star. OK we get the joke. Lose it, it's corny.
8. The Needler
Finally tuned properly. It is now the deadly weapon it was always supposed to be and acts like I expected it should have in the first Halo. You don't need two (it can't be dual wielded) and you don't need to land 30 needles in someone for them to pop. About 6 or 7 will do. I've been waiting for this weapon to be right since the beginning. Thank you Bungie.
10. Dual Wielding.
It takes a long time to get used to the new system, at least for me. I'm probably going to stop playing Halo 2, just to deal with it. It does make sense to use the bumpers to grab weapons and to reload, but actually it feels less natural than on Gears. I think that is especially the case because so few games use the left bumper. Overall however, the system works well enough. No complaints.
11. First Person Details.
My hands! They're so cool. My SMGs ave such detail. My sniper scope wireframes the whole battlefield. This truly enhances game play.
12. DPad Intercom
I hate it. Yeah the sound is good, but it's just clumsy. I'll get used to it because I'd rather have this clunky thing than somebody's crappy mic humming in my ear, but I'm used to talking while I'm running and strafing and turning around. Can't do that any longer. Makes tactics kinda feel like NASA talk from the 60s, Over.
13. Name Extensions
Very good idea to have Clan names as a letter and 2 numbers. Simple, effective. Non-corny.
Is it me or is the melee amped up just a touch in this game. Perhaps it depends on the weapon but I very much like the way melee is timed and executed in Halo 3. I can tell it has been tweaked just a touch, and I like that touch.
15. Big Guns
My nephew likes domination weapons. So he'll go looking for the biggest whatever in the map. Now he's going to be a pig in slop because there's a mobile 50 cal, something called a
There are a hundred little details in H3 that are noticeable to long time players. The way the King circle lights up is a big obvious one, but the little ones in the sound are very cool. The Power Drainer has absolutely the coolest sound in the game.
Now a few suggestions for the Beta Team.
In the latest message, al-Qaida No. 2 Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri clearly seeks to sow political and racial discontent among African-Americans. He makes frequent references to what he calls the "martyr" Malcolm X, and says "I want blacks in America to know that we are waging jihad to lift oppression from all mankind."
There's a joke in there somewhere, but perhaps I have lost my sense of humor. If you wanna talk about it, be my guest. But seriously, why would anybody even begin to believe that blacks in America are intersted in the oppression of all mankind? Please. We got other fish to fry, homie. You want to take on the Marine Corps? My name is Paul, and that's about y'all.
I mean sure, we have campus radicals and we have Harry Belafonte, but.. I mean we have Harry Belafonte. Besides having absolutely radiant teeth, Harry didn't even fight in movies. Blacks in America aren't interested in fighting. Those that are... well, they're in the Marine Corps. Sorry Ayman, I thought you knew.
Besides, we all know that Malcolm X was killed by corrupt Muslims.
I woke up this morning thinking about love.
Love must be felt, not simulated, not imagined or faked. This is the first and most important thing about love.
Love must be singular. There can only be one object of your loving affection. Love must be faithful, gladly.
Love must be voluntary and not coerced. You should not feel obligated to love but genuinely desire to love.
You must love the person for who they are and who they want to be, wholly. Not because of their car. Not because it feels good to be in love. Not for whom you wish they would be.
You must desire their physical company. You physically change in the presence of your lover.
Love must affect you profoundly, make you willing to make sacrifices. You cannot merely turn it on and turn it off, it must be something near the center of your life.
Love must be something you want to hold on to, not something to experiment with or just to pass the time.
Well I got a smile for everyone I meet
As long as you don't try dragging my bay
Or dropping the bomb on my street.
-- The Pretenders
I've listened to Hewitt badger Tony Snow this afternoon on the mysterious immigration reform package with McCain's name on it. It sounds like a Swiss Army Knife with a main blade that's only 3 inches long, just a whole lot of crap thrown together so that it looks attractive from every angle.
You want to stick it to The Man? Businesses get fined for hiring, 5k per pop on first offense, and a progressively harsher. You want to defend business? High skill workers get extra points. Want to stem the hoards? Family members who aint kids don't get to come. Want to keep millions here? Nobody has to go back? Hate Spanish? You have to pass English proficiency.
As soon as I heard there was a point system involved, I knew that this was a bastard tar baby of a bill. So I hate it. I also think that it's probably the best that the numbskulls in Congress can do. It punishes everybody, including people who wanted the wall and were promised we'd get one. Considering how little has been done on that (and this bill requires less wall), I have no kind of faith that this one will get done. Get passed, yes. Get signed by Bush, sure. Get done? No freakin way. It's full of holes.
First of all, if I had 5000 cash to spare, I would get in line and get one of these new biometric foolproof ID cards. I mean what a great deal. Who cares if I don't get citizenship for 13 years. I've got an unassailable ID. I'll be Marcus Biko from Botswana. Who's going to prove I'm not? I was clever enough to get over here, sorry I don't have any records of that, I destroyed them out of paranoia. Do I have any relatives in Botswana? No my family was killed. Try the embassy. Do I have a bank account? No. I just show up, wait in line and get certified as Marcus Biko. Who's going to check when there are 12 million others in line too?
Speaking of the who's gonna question. Who's gonna go to which employer and start busting illegals? Some new agency with new employees? The first business with half a testicle is going to sue that proper procedures have not been followed and that every business in the country hasn't been properly notified of what those procedures are. The whole thing is going to get sidelined by some judge on the 9th Circuit as soon as Gloria Allred gets a nice juicy case. DHS is going to be stepping on INS' toes and the FBI is going to get sucked it and sidetracked. SAIC is going to get a no-bid contract on the database and the ACLU is going to go buck wild and start plinking the provisions. The whole thing will come apart in five years.
The only way to do this is one hard rule after another. Not some omnibus BS that promises half a loaf to everyone on the mount. This Congress is incapable of that miracle.
Last night I got some Chinese BBQ Ribs which is one of my favorite meals when I'm on the road and feel like crashing in the hotel room instead to checking out the local flavor. So that means I need a UCR, a Utility Chinese Restaurant. There's a good one in Philly, I have yet to find a good one here in Houston. But I did notice something in the one I went to last night, an advertisement for exchange students.
As you know I talk about black culture and politics a lot. I've known some black exchange students - by that I mean Americans who have gone abroad, but I don't think I've known any black exchange students from abroad who end up here. At least I am not aware of any African friends who told me this about themselves. I am almost positive I don't know any black families who have sponsored an exchange student.
There's a big hoohah about whether or not Obama's daughters ought to get Affirmative Action. I think it's a stupid question on its face. When Pops is a Senator, even a State Legislator, there are lots and lots of doors that open up that Affirmative Action counselors don't even know exist. Whereas most blackfolks (I guess) have never even had their friendly neighborhood cop or fireman over for dinner, Obama could have any number of hotshots over. It's a class question. Who feels privileged to be invited to your house?
I have to confess that if there's anything at all that I might come close to regretting in my life it's not having bought a condo in LA back when I lived at the beach. I did manage to save a little money but I've always hated the idea of living in complexes. So instead of buying a studio condo in Culver City where some of the cool folks hung out, I rented a duplex two blocks from the ocean where the ubercool folks hung out. Socially? Great decision. Economically? Dumb as dirt. So I'm equity poor and don't have a great big mansion of the sort a man of my distinction deserves.
No au pair, no exchange student, no nanny, no butler.. just a part time maid.
I think this is an excellent class indicator, and I've long thought about such matters in the context of organics. So let me throw out a controversial question. As a black on black uplift strategy (since we all agree with Carol Swain) shouldn't we make efforts to offer such jobs to our less fortunate brethren? The implied snarky question is or are we too crabby and hateful to allow other blackfolks to do this kind of work?
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) has waded right into the debate over Internet broadcasting, introducing a bill that would overturn the recent ruling requiring webcasters to pay a flat rate per song streamed, rather than the traditional percentage of their revenue.
The Copyright Royalty Board recently raised rates on Internet webcasters, who will soon face greatly-increased fees for streaming music on their stations. The issue affected not just Internet broadcasters but noncommercial groups like NPR, and the broadcasters filed an appeal of the decision earlier this month, but were denied.
Inslee's bill, the Internet Radio Equality Act, would toss out the Board's decision and return the webcasting industry to a percentage-of-revenue model. In this case, the percentage would be set at the same rate paid by satellite radio, which is 7.5 percent.
Support the bill. I do.
Conservatives should because free internet broadcasting is yet another avenue for free expression. We all know the Democrats are angling to force their opinions on everyone with their proposed legislation re-enacting 'Equal Time', but most sensible people agree that there is more than enough broadband for everyone to get their points across. Even Hezbollah gets our attention.
Fisher and I are having a great philosophical and theological discussion and he has hit on a theme that I think requires some digging into. It's an interesting theory that I'm thinking about here which gets into a lot of interesting corners of thought. He says:
At the core of everything all matter is the same. In [fact] at one point all matter is not only identical, but becomes movement in and of itself. Thus there is no fundamental difference between a granite rock and an organic being such as a human.
Now SOMETHING has to organize these completely identical basic components into a rock on the one hand and into a human being on the other.
That something [might] be innate to these components and thus self-organizing, or it might acts upon the components from outside of the components. Whatever it is, it MUST exist.
OK now we're getting deep. Part of this logic goes directly to the question and theory of Intelligent Design, which I consider to be an interesting if misguided and undisciplined set of arguments for the existence of God which spites the theory of evolution. Firstly, I would say that as a Christian, I disagree that the theory of evolution is heretical. I make that point of disagreement with Dr. Arnn. I don't believe that man will evolve beyond a need for those things which are fundamental to our spirituality, but I understand the fear implied in the idea that mankind might have evolved from apes who have no spirituality. All I can say to that is why did God bring Jesus into the world at that particular moment? If apes needed God in their image, who is to say there is not Jesus of the Apes? And if we evolve beyond what we think of as humanity, who is to say that Jesus' second coming wouldn't be that of some trans-human being? I am not concerned with the idea of the changing or evolving nature of the soul or of intelligence and that is because I do not believe in an anthropomorphic supreme being. One of the things that leads me into strange waters is based upon my conceptualization of consciousness. When I was an undergrad I read The Mind's I which had a profound effect on my thinking. Indeed what is thought if not computation of some sort, and what are the physical rules of computation? I extrapolated this idea vis a vis Moore's Law once and made the conjecture that God might be the Sun. Huh? What? What if the nuclear vibrations of the massive fusion reactions in the Sun made patterns? Some physicist might help me out here, but if all of the nuclear activity of all the atomic particles in the Sun could be thought of as a computer, what kind of compute power would a star have? I'd say it would be infinitely more powerful than the "infinite monkeys" theory. The Sun does indeed absolutely provide for and sustain life on earth, but might it not be a super intelligence which only spends a fraction of its energy doing so? The conjecture of God as Sun also depends upon a theory of emergent behavior. Ants don't recognize the beauty of the lines they make across the forest floor. They only smell the butt of the ant in front. Humans don't recognize the patterns they make across history, we can't even all speak the same language. (I don't mean to imply Sapir Whorf here, just accounting for dissonance across time and distance). Intelligent behavior is only intelligent when there is intelligence to perceive it. In that regard the morality of human history only makes sense to God. The fate of the city only makes sense in the context of the state. The fate of the one in context to the many. A robot cannot be a human being because a robot is powered by electricity. It therefore can only simulate hunger, its emotions are of a different character. It needs what it needs but not things that humans need. If humans each had multiple sexual organs we would behave in completely other ways. So one has to be human to interpret human intelligence. Again, this is consistent with Christian ideas about God.
OK now we're getting deep.
Part of this logic goes directly to the question and theory of Intelligent Design, which I consider to be an interesting if misguided and undisciplined set of arguments for the existence of God which spites the theory of evolution. Firstly, I would say that as a Christian, I disagree that the theory of evolution is heretical. I make that point of disagreement with Dr. Arnn. I don't believe that man will evolve beyond a need for those things which are fundamental to our spirituality, but I understand the fear implied in the idea that mankind might have evolved from apes who have no spirituality. All I can say to that is why did God bring Jesus into the world at that particular moment? If apes needed God in their image, who is to say there is not Jesus of the Apes? And if we evolve beyond what we think of as humanity, who is to say that Jesus' second coming wouldn't be that of some trans-human being? I am not concerned with the idea of the changing or evolving nature of the soul or of intelligence and that is because I do not believe in an anthropomorphic supreme being.
One of the things that leads me into strange waters is based upon my conceptualization of consciousness. When I was an undergrad I read The Mind's I which had a profound effect on my thinking. Indeed what is thought if not computation of some sort, and what are the physical rules of computation? I extrapolated this idea vis a vis Moore's Law once and made the conjecture that God might be the Sun.
What if the nuclear vibrations of the massive fusion reactions in the Sun made patterns? Some physicist might help me out here, but if all of the nuclear activity of all the atomic particles in the Sun could be thought of as a computer, what kind of compute power would a star have? I'd say it would be infinitely more powerful than the "infinite monkeys" theory. The Sun does indeed absolutely provide for and sustain life on earth, but might it not be a super intelligence which only spends a fraction of its energy doing so?
The conjecture of God as Sun also depends upon a theory of emergent behavior. Ants don't recognize the beauty of the lines they make across the forest floor. They only smell the butt of the ant in front. Humans don't recognize the patterns they make across history, we can't even all speak the same language. (I don't mean to imply Sapir Whorf here, just accounting for dissonance across time and distance). Intelligent behavior is only intelligent when there is intelligence to perceive it. In that regard the morality of human history only makes sense to God. The fate of the city only makes sense in the context of the state. The fate of the one in context to the many.
A robot cannot be a human being because a robot is powered by electricity. It therefore can only simulate hunger, its emotions are of a different character. It needs what it needs but not things that humans need. If humans each had multiple sexual organs we would behave in completely other ways. So one has to be human to interpret human intelligence. Again, this is consistent with Christian ideas about God.
Apparently the Geico Cavemen are going to have a comedy series on ABC:
ABC said Friday it had ordered a pilot for a comedy, tentatively titled "Cavemen," that features the characters used in a series of ads by the insurance company.
In the ads, cavemen appear insulted by a Geico pitchman's claim that the company's Web site is so easy to use that "even a caveman can do it."
The potential series, one of 14 pilots that will be produced by Touchstone Television this spring, features the cavemen as they "struggle with prejudice on a daily basis as they strive to live the lives of normal thirty-somethings in 2007 Atlanta."
This is absolutely great. I love the commercials, I love their attitude. There is such great potential in this premise. All you have to do is steal some of the situations from Frasier and you've got it made. What I like about the Cavemen is that they refuse to be condescended to which is such a turn from ordinary sitcoms in which the character wallow in a kind of funky stupidity or callow naivete. Over the years, my favorite sticoms have always had in common the main characters' sense of dignity and importance, even when faced with their own confusion. From Fred Flintstone to Marlo Thomas in That Girl to Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt in 'Mad About You'. They were smart, serious people.
This is absolutely great. I love the commercials, I love their attitude. There is such great potential in this premise. All you have to do is steal some of the situations from Frasier and you've got it made.
What I like about the Cavemen is that they refuse to be condescended to which is such a turn from ordinary sitcoms in which the character wallow in a kind of funky stupidity or callow naivete. Over the years, my favorite sticoms have always had in common the main characters' sense of dignity and importance, even when faced with their own confusion. From Fred Flintstone to Marlo Thomas in That Girl to Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt in 'Mad About You'. They were smart, serious people.I kinda think 'Mad About You' wouldn't succeed today. Smart, serious people can't be funny on TV nowadays. They're all crawling around crime scenes or otherwise being paranoid.
Let's hope the Cavemen change all that.
Baldilocks gets a bit of dander up over Christopher Hitchens' predictable tirade against the life of Jerry Falwell.
What Hitchens forgets about the only faith-based religion he could be talking about--assuming he ever knew it--is that if faith were not the sole criterion to get into Heaven, then no one could go since no one is capable of not doing wrong whether accidentally or willfully.
Perhaps Hitchens does take this into account but, as many do, finds it easier to believe that there's nothing else but the physical world. Understandable. However, judging from his many tirades against religious persons, especially faith-based Christians, I suspect that Hitchens does believe in the existence of God. And hates His guts.
I've been watching Hitchens closely enough to know that he doesn't hate God, in fact I don't think Hitchens cares whether or not there is a God. And unlike more foolish folks like, Hitchens doesn't bother to try and disprove God's existence. Rather Hitchens is an historian, and a damned good one who has a remarkable memory and candor about man's inhumanity to man. Where Hitch goes off the deep end in when, based on such evidence of evil, religious leaders or followers claim divine inspiration.
Hitchens, I believe, like the most thoughtful philosophical readers of humanity is perplexed by the awesome silence of God. And like most atheists he is absolutely intolerant of the supernatural. This combination makes him fundamentally question the validity of revelation. He is very precise and logical about that condition. I remember enough of my symbolic logic to recall that accepting the truth of a false premise justifies everything. It is a sufficient condition to doubt the truth of claimed revelations which justify any sin or barbarity. One needn't go all the way to God. Logically, one could argue that 99.9% of humans throughout history have been false prophets without denying the existence of God. This would put you exactly in Hitchens shoes as an extreme skeptic.
What Hitchens does not do is go out of his way to denounce spirituality or to hubristically spit in the face of blameless holy men. I doubt you'll find him saying much against the works and deeds of MLK. And it is in that regard that Hitchens is useful completely outside of any religious influence. For if there was ever any unanimity of religious opinion we would be doing our duty to challenge their conclusions a great disservice without a neutral or dissenting party.
From my perspective, I find it a revelation accepted on faith and reason that God created in man a fully developed sense of morality. The tree of knowledge let us know our nakedness and the meaning of our sins. It's not remote controlled. It's a feature of our design. It is a feature of Hitchens' design as well, one he has nourished as we all should. I cannot imagine that Falwell has lived a blameless life, and I don't think that just because he, or anyone, is dead, that they should escape criticism. He was 73 and his death was not some great tragedy, probably less so than MLK's eldest daughter who also died this week at the age of 51. We are right to respectfully debate the political contributions of such people, and I'm not sure that the basis upon which Hitchens would judge Falwell merit the outrage I'm hearing.
Apparently Dobson on Hugh Hweitt's show today was very upset that Hitchens called Falwell a 'toad'. Oh horrors.
Tangentially, yesterday Dennis Prager, who is stumping for Giuliani against the putative conservative majority on the issue of abortion sat for an hour trying to reason with the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention. It may well have been Rush Limbaugh who also weighed in on the matter. But this leader suggested very forthrightly that Giuliani would not have his vote if it came down to a choice between him and Hilary Clinton because of Giuliani's position on abortion. My sympathies are with Dennis Prager who is trying to talk sense into Republicans who are having such a difficulty.
But this only illustrates a sentiment that I think has gained legitimacy through the success of the electoral machinations of Karl Rove. I continue to believe that the very notion that the soul of the Republican party is what Hitchens appropriately calls 'Christianist' evangelicals is a myth. That 2% (or whatever) of the American electorate has been motivated to swing the Right way and that may be the critical difference in many states, but don't mistake a swing minority for a core majority.
I do not know how much credit to give Falwell for politicizing evangelical Christianity. Nor do I know exactly how much credit to give political evangelical Christianity for energizing conservatism. But it's clear that conservatism has made Republicans the majority party. Surely Richard Vigeury and Ralph Reed had something to do with it. Surely Newt Gingrich and Lee Atwater had something to do with it. Surely Thomas Sowell and Alan Keyes had something to do with it. Surely Colin Powell and Condi Rice had something to do with it. Surely Richard Sciafe and Rush Limbaugh had something to do with it. Surely Tom DeLay and Trent Lott had something to do with it. Surely Ronald Reagan and Ross Perot had something to do with it. I could go on. My point is all of these folks are not of a piece and they don't all pray the way Falwell did or Hitchens might believe them to.
Despite all of the noise, the principles of Conservatism do not originate whole cloth out of Christianity, evangelical Christianity or Falwell's brand of evangelical Christianity. The more political defense I hear of Falwell, the more annoyed I become.
Oh. And a 'Christianist' is one who thinks politically the way his church tells him God would have him think politically. That is one who is more likely to ask what would my Bishop say, rather than what does the Constitution say. I've mentioned my beef before.
At any rate, there is no question in my mind that Hitchens' irreverence is a net benefit to Western Civ, because despite his pet peeves, even Sharpton could see that Hichens is not on about God so much as he is about false prophets and evil deeds done on the basis of dicey revelation.
I can say that I am one of those millions of Americans whose life was pretty much untouched by the life of Jerry Falwell and unmoved by his death. God hasn't changed. My church hasn't changed. My faith hasn't changed. I'm really going to have to read about what people thought to even begin to have an opinion.
In that, I think of Boris Yeltsin who also recently met with his demise. These individuals doubtless had historical roles to play, but they largely existed on the periphery of my political vision. I didn't attribute as much to them as I think others did.
So all I can say is that this is one Conservative Christian that is not weeping and wailing, although every man's death diminishes me.
The story is everywhere that Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York and undisputed heavyweight kingpin of information science is socking away 1 billion dollars (Dr Evil) for a presidential campaign. I don't ever want to be in the position we are in today with GWBush, which is to say, I want no interesting presidents in office based on the assumptions that it would be cool to have this kinda guy in for a change. Real global emergencies emerge and you want somebody who is prepared to handle the worst, period.
That said, it would be cool to have this kinda guy in for a change.
I haven't followed up, but Bloomberg promised the city of New York a call center paradigm for city government. Which is to say he took some of the best customer service principles from private industry and applied them to the municipality. Got a pothole? Call the City and you'll get a case number and the action request is put into a database. You can call anytime to check up on the status of your complaint, and they will call you back when the problem is solved. In the meantime city managers are looking at the number of calls, logging times to completion and being graded on objective performance measurements. As familiar as this scenario is to all of us consumers, it had never been attempted on that scale before Bloomberg. Amazing.
Bloomberg's own corporate story is legend, especially in my industry. I've long been an admirer even back to the days when he first took on Wall Street and revolutionized trading with his proprietary information network. I've got to get his bio if there's one out there. Like Walter Wriston, Bloomberg was a great innovator in global finance and information technology. He's the man I would pick to run Homeland Security. I guarantee you there would be no silos.
Bloomberg the company had an extraordinary type A accelerated work ethic. He liked people ultra competitive with unleashed personalities. It could be bruising. I must admit, especially now at this particular inflection of my career, that I regret not making the effort to go and work for Bloomberg. I was never invited, unlike for Microsoft and Wal Mart IT, but I should have given it a shot.
Anyway. I hold out hope for heroes and outsized, non-tap dancing personalities in politics. Right now only Senator Thompson has that kind of look and feel. I expect that perhaps he will get tapped for a fine cabinet position. And so too for Bloomberg. But President? I haven't seen a real President since Ronald Reagan, and I hated him during his first term.
According to the Buffalo News, there's going to be a new CEO of Xerox Corporation soon.
Chief Executive Officer Anne Mulcahy, 54, in April named Ursula Burns, 48, president with the expectation that she would move up when Mulcahy steps down, analysts say.
Burns, who grew up in a housing project in Manhattan, also became the only inside director besides the CEO.
Burns “is to business what Condi Rice is to government, in terms of someone who never grew up expecting to be a president of a major corporation,” said John Engler, a former Republican governor of Michigan and president of the National Association of Manufacturers, where Burns is a director. “It’s hard, regardless of color and gender, to reach the high level of responsibility she’s reached.”
This is not unexpected from Xerox. I learned a lot about management philosophy at Xerox which was my first corporate gig out of school. I had three internships there, in one I built the Affirmative Action and Manpower Planning reporting system. Xerox has always been serious about succession planning and management by objective, rather than by personality. So the culture of advanced meritocracy have always been present. Additionally, the company has had a strong black executive and management presence for decades. Starting with Bernard Kinsey in the 80s.
I have my own little stories about black managers at Xerox and today they are still being written. Congrats to Burns.
I took Boy to Leimert Park this weekend. I'm trying to teach him rhythm and assertiveness and dip him in the waters of black manhood. It was all kind of spontaneous but it worked out nicely.
The first thing we had to do was get him down to Shelton's because he's basically been wearing the sheep's butt hairdo all year. Since he's a handsome kid, he can pull it off. He's got that Gary Dourdan thing working, and since he's been in the sun, he's getting reddish blonde tips. Just like his old man used to when I had the 6 inch fro. But he's also starting to dread. Now that looks good in the front where he had a crown of pointy looking things but in the back it's all mat. So the Spousal Unit took the initiative to get a kiddy kit and comb him out. The result was less than stellar. He looked like he had a 3 month old Jheri curl, which in the back was a marked improvement, but in the front had him looking like Lionel Ritchie after a party that went all night long. Not good.
So I had to take control of the situation and suggest that it was time to get all that crap off. So we headed to Nicky's chair at Sheltons whereupon Nicky had him comb the whole thing out. Heavens to mergatroid. I had no idea how folded up his head was. Seemed like a good seven inches up there. Well we took care of that in a hurry, and it turns out that he's got the family head. We just didn't realize. It had been about 18 months at least since the last cut. This time we burned it down to an old school fade. You could actually see that his scalp was three degrees lighter than the rest of his face and neck. Nick squared it up and left him a little flip in the front. Suddenly my 13 year old boy started to look like a man. Freaky that. But he liked it, as did everyone else.
Fresh from this event we headed back across town through the old neighborhood but not before we stopped off for a massive pastrami at Johnny's. The flavor and grease were all up to par. As we headed south on Crenshaw I started telling him about all the old joints that used to be around there, including the original Chinese laundry where the proprietor wore the queue and the whole black suit. We landed over at Liemert Park while the grease and pickle juice ruined the bottom of the pastrami bag, grabbed a table over where brothers were slammin' bones and proceeded to 'grease', as Pops used to say.
After finishing half a sammich, we headed over to the fountain and watched the drum circle. There were about 8 dudes jamming, including a couple rather inchoate chinese flutists. Boy got the fever and we eventually chatted up a big brother with a grey goatee and mirroshades who was a flute and piccolo player. (Do you remember that joke from Robin Harris?). Anyway after some conversation we agreed to head back to the South Bay, get his instruments and come back. When we finally arrived two hours later, the vibe hand changed.
Now that he actually had his instruments and needed to pick up the rhythm and play, Boy was dumbfounded. He's an academic player, not a natural. Or rather I should say he's naturally academic. For him all he needs is a fingering chart and he can play flute, sax, trumpet or french horn. He reads the music, he plays the song. Not great, but good enough for middle school band. He has only recently tried to play alongside CDs that he has and basically lacks the instincts for improv. But I hold out a lot of hope for him. His favorite song to play on the flute is the Beatle's "Paperback Writer". His favorite song to play on the trumpet is Joe Zawinul's "Birdland". It's true that he can appreciate Louis Armstrong but in fact he's a lot better with the Lennon and McCartney songbook. I just thought of something. Maybe my buddy Bill will have time to kick with him this summer. Brilliant. Anyway, now I'm trying to get him to feel the rhythm.
I imagine it's intimidating to try and improvise in a drum circle of crusty old dudes when you don't really know where the rhythm begins or ends, but he gave it a try. I had to interrupt between jams to introduce him and beg some indulgence, but he still didn't really get into it until a couple of the drummers called him out by name and invited him closer. He was really freaking out when we got there because Mirrorshades had disappeared and the quick rapport he established with him was what got him started. But despite the derelicts whose yelping added to the street mix, Boy managed to get into the circle for once and improvised well. Interestingly he was trying to build a song that was much more complex than the situation demanded and so he lost his way. I kept saying for him to play two or three notes a la 'So What' until he really mastered the rhythm but he went on to try arpeggios in shifting chords. He's all melody based, which ain't a bad thing, but not advisable when joining a drum circle for the first time in life, especially when your Euro melodies ain't swinging with the African beats. But nobody cursed him out and it was a good day.
After that, we headed over to the Bridge and took in the latest Nicholas Cage movie. I'm just getting used to the fact that he's officially able to watch PG-13, although there are some wildly differing standards in my house than in the houses of MPAA and the video games rating boards. 'Next' however was not a disappointment at all, as time-travel movies go it was actually very well thought through. I liked the ending too.
Boy is shy. That's because like a lot of suburban kids with stay at home mothers, he is over mothered and on the receiving end of a lot of orders and rules. It worries me from time to time but I think I know how to balance it out, and that is through self-expression through skills. So I am building in him a creative rebellion, one in which he gains independence by spending more time doing his thing, which I ensure is a good thing. Getting him out there in *his* world is my way of showing him. I think it's working.
Category: Night Life
I just got this from Schneier:
In 1970, American economist George Akerlof wrote a paper called "The
Market for 'Lemons,'" which established asymmetrical information theory.
He eventually won a Nobel Prize for his work, which looks at markets
where the seller knows a lot more about the product than the buyer.
Akerlof illustrated his ideas with a used car market. A used car market
includes both good cars and lousy ones (lemons). The seller knows which
is which, but the buyer can't tell the difference -- at least until he's
made his purchase. I'll spare you the math, but what ends up happening
is that the buyer bases his purchase price on the value of a used car of
This means that the best cars don't get sold; their prices are too high.
Which means that the owners of these best cars don't put their cars on
the market. And then this starts spiraling. The removal of the good cars
from the market reduces the average price buyers are willing to pay, and
then the very good cars no longer sell, and disappear from the market.
And then the good cars, and so on until only the lemons are left.
In a market where the seller has more information about the product than
the buyer, bad products can drive the good ones out of the market.
I think this explains a whole lot of things. I have seen it in stereo components, in political debate, in enterprise software (to a certain extent), in web analytics, in theology and even in the diet and exercise business. It's absolutely fascinating. I will use the Lemon Market Theory going forward.
Barnett really nails a thought I've been thinking, which is what Democrats think the Pentagon is all about:
To be honest, I don’t hope for a Democrat win in terms of our military’s evolution, because I expect it to suffer under any Democrat. Yes, they’ll be all sorts of tough talk, but once in power, the deference begins. No Dem wants to look soft on defense, so they give the military what they want, and across Clinton’s eight years, that meant lots of stuff that doesn’t work particularly well in the world we live in, because, left to their own devices, the military will focus solely on the war and avoid the postwar as much as possible. A tough Dem who comes in now is likely to let the military “heal” after Iraq, or buy lots of stuff it wants to buy and avoid making the changes it needs to do the next one, which will come inevitably. That stance will be cast as “tough realism,” but it will really be escapism of the worst sort, simply delaying solutions instead of dealing with problems. We’ll be told we’re getting ready to win America’s “real” wars, but kicking ass during war nowadays, as we’ve proven in Iraq and Afghanistan, really doesn’t add up to much. You either master the postwar or schedule the next drive-by regime change for seven years hence. I honestly think Kristol’s got it right: the winner will combine the “change” quotient with an acceptance that we’re at war and need to improve our military on the basis of the wars we’re stuck with, not the fantastic conventional ones we’d rather wage. To me, the person who most likely delivers that package is Giuliani.
I started loving Christopher Hitchens when he started talking about Empire. I thought we were, and I think I've been proven right on this, a half-assed empire. Some of that was because GW Bush was entirely unprepared for and campaigned against nation-building. Some of that was because Americans themselves have no interest in fighting for territory and sending young military families and associated Second World functionaries into another country for advanced missionary work. We used to have a Peace Corps, but not any longer.
But as Barnett says, the impending failure in Iraq is inevitable if the Democrat vision of America at war prevails. That is a vision that simply doesn't include a permanent American military presence to guarantee the stability of fledgling nations in the American stake in the global economy. Part of the American stake is that the global economy itself flourishes, which requires some democratic reform and suppression of dictatorial regimes. But that has to mean more than no-fly zones. It means, in the case of Iraq, an integrated occupation. It means the ability of the US Armed Forces to move and work in the contexts of civil wars, genocides, factional wardlord struggles and similar low intensity conflict and terror. Always. That is the kind of war, in strategic areas, we will have to engage, meaning we will have to strategically plan to be there.
I believe no Democrat has such strategic plans in mind, and when it comes down to it, they are driven to provide pork in traditional areas and put lipstick on that lazy pig calling it 'support for the troops' or 'strong on defense'.
(I think I have discovered in answering Barbara's question, a good preface for my book)
I'm glad that you make the connection between gayness and misogyny. Think of that anytime someone proposes Gay Marriage as an advance in society. Not many people do, and I'd think that as defensive as black women can be we'd hear more beef.
As for literature, I would say there are three kinds aside from simply bad literature. There would be that stuff which is of the nature of 'why the caged bird sings'. Poems of pain that give illumination to the suffering... aahh. I can't be so flip.
The last book by a black woman that I read was called 'Pushed Back to Strength' and that was somewhere back around '96. Up until that point I had read pretty much everything that black women wrote that Masters in English were reading at the time. I can't say that I have any expectations of writers because they are black women, but I am sure that whatever lesson is to be learned by the insinuation, I have already learned it. Which is to say I cannot imagine any 'upliftment' that genre writing can possibly give me. I've already been as high as it pushes. Which leads back to a number of difficulties which I am accustomed to.
In the first place, one you've read all of Toni Morrison, you have to recognize that there isn't much out there of her caliber. She spoils you. I could go on about her gifts, but the point is that there is no other writer quite as talented as she is sui generis, and really to hold other black women to her standard is not fair to them. Secondly, the implications of what she has written still fall on deaf ears. Then again we are reflecting on the *purposes* of literature to inform and shape character. But in that narrow light let us call black literature a tool for moving people forward. With regard to positive existential karma I refer to this as 'the sound of the drum'. If you hear it enough, sooner or later you get the beat and you begin marching rather that groping around in circles.
How many millions of done their marching? How many have reached the mountaintop and are now truly free? Now what are we to say to the truly free man?
So then let us come back to reduction. There is bad literature, which does nothing for anyone and there is 'up the mountain' drumming, there is 'top of the mountain' drumming and there is 'beyond the mountain' drumming. But only great literature survives multiple generations.
It is towards this greatness that I am aimed, because my intent is to inherit all that is great about Western Civilization. I am investing in the fact that I am in full possession of the language of the most advanced civilization the world has ever known. I am free to pursue it unfettered by poverty or any other sort stumbling block that might hinder me. In fact I am at the point of consumption at which I find myself speaking in tongues foreign to most of my company. In other words I am practically academic, which is to say I know things that I'll never use and spend time outthinking my circumstances. Rather like E. M. Forster (except not gay) I have more literary tools than arms with which to swing them and as I stop to select them, the time spent wastes the opportunity. Cast in the mold of 'up the mountain' literature, why can't (black) folks be as well-read as me, that is because they.. blah blah blah. What they need to do is.. blah blah blah... until one day.. I am Oprah!
As you might realize, I am Cobb. I've written my own up the mountain story within the narrative of this blog, the struggle to articulate and defend black conservatism. I've been playing around on top of that mountain for a year or two, which would have been a lot more fun if the president were Dwight Eisenhower instead of GW Bush, and I've only recently decided to ramble in this mode of alternative mental provocation loosely pertaining to myself as a (black, male, straight) writer beyond the mountain of political economy.
I don't think gay literature has anything to tell, rather something to prove. But I think of culturally sophisticated homosexuality in the context of a society of luxury and excess. Indeed when there are millions of us in Western Civilization who can afford faux decadence as part of a lifestyle oriented around disposable income, we ought to be watching our backs. Not as in what backs baby got, but as in clash of civilizations. So I find it both ironic and silly that blackfolks, among the millions only recently legally sponsored to enjoy the full privileges of Western society have not more altogether pushed themselves towards the task of fully understanding its structure, undertaking its maintenance and investing in ownership of it. Instead we flaunt our difference within it, even to the point of subversion and curse its origins even to the point of historical revisionism. This is the legacy of hard multiculturalism of which the entirety of gay pride is but a forward, loud section. You'd think the gay critics might have taken some loyalty from the movie '300' but we got little of that in defense of Western Civ.
It is my estimation that the great lesson of the African American is expressed completely in the three words 'Up From Slavery' and that is a narrative that independently confirms the value of the society in which we live. And yet for all the greatness that Frederick Douglass and those who lived and wrote like him have shown, there are no material heirs of his estate. Perhaps it's just me but I should think that the Douglass family estate ought to be out there somewhere in Newport, RI. Alas it is not. We are free and symbolic of freedom, but our journey is not complete. We are 'diners' at the American table, but we don't own any farms, distribution chains, restaurants or even table manufacturers. Sure, we eat fine and there's plenty of 'got mine', but we're not as responsible for the good life as much as we consume it.
That is why I would name my book 'Up From Freedom'. I want my strength raising that American flag, and I'm trying to figure out the way, given the few and short lessons I have inherited, from consumption to production. Many of those lessons were from the wrong sort of drum, and were meant for landing me on a shorter or alternative mountain than that of Western Civ. But some of my life experiences were princely despite all that. When my running buddies were saying 'you da man' in the late 80s, that's what we meant. We weren't trying to stick it to the Man, or get as much as possible from the Man, we were trying to be the Man. I'm not sure how popular it is to maintain such an unselfish attitude about The System, and as long as the term 'Uncle Tom' has currency, then there will be a fraction of people who still are listening to the wrong drumming. I can't tell you how much blackness of the sort we informally ascribe to blackness survives the transformation from Black Man to The Man. I think that may all be in the eye of the beholder, but I am not beholden to it. My direction is clear, and furthermore I must be reconciled to my own failure so that my children aren't poisoned by some new form of hateration which is bound to emerge. I never thought it would be easy. Once you stand on top of the mountain, you gain a new class of enemies.
I am a nationalist. I want to belong to a nation more than I want to belong to a church, or to a race. My soul is my own business, as is my family. But my citizenship is public business and I like it that way. As we negotiate our way forward, as we decided how to prioritize the work of the nation, I am always glad to take part in that conversation. But I don't think identity is part of that equation and if it is, then there is some self-actualization that hasn't taken place. Somebody needs to get back to drumming their way up until they become confident that their own feet are moving them up the mountain and that gravity acts on us all equally. Some folks are dragging a lot of existential baggage up the hill and lots of Jacks and Jills break their crown on the way down. My writing is my hiking song. You can hear me hum it as I take a break and enjoy the view. You can hear me huff it and puff it as I blow by slackers. You can hear the tremble in my voice as I grunt it hanging by bleeding knuckles on the sheer face. I sing because I'm happy. I sing because I'm free.
Dell Gines Returns
Dell Gines is blogging again. I just thought you should know. He thought he could escape. Hmm. I did the same thing last year. Dell has decided to go to the real ghetto of North Omaha. I love the fact that he uses zip codes to stake out his turf. He's going house to house.
Constructive Feedback States the Dilemma
CF was one of the few sensible voices in a puddle of mud I engaged two years ago when I gave up on Black History Month forays into the hoi polloi. He's gone bang on in dealing with the dilemmas of black politics.
Forgotten: Black White
Last year about this time, there was a new show on Fox produced by Ice Cube called 'Black White'. It was useless, and that's what I predicted. Now it has been forgotten. I just wanted to remind you.
Like most folks in my demographic, I can remember when Classical music went from a curiosity to an obsession. I can remember hanging around the classical section sheepishly wondering if any of these people I never heard of would be any good. I can remember the condescending suggestions from the music snob at Tower Records in Westwood, my favorite record store of the 80s. Hell I can even remember the speakers that they had hanging from the ceiling. They were DCM Time Windows. I can remember years later at the grand opening of the Virgin Superstore in Times Square when the guy in the classical section was just the opposite - younger than me and willing to bet I couldn't whistle a classical song that he couldn't identify from the first few notes.
He was right. And somehow that shamed me. But while I still had a dozen or so favorites, I really hadn't delved much deeper into the music until late 1999 when I happened to buy a stack of cheap CDs for the hell of it at Fry's in Santa Clara. They were the Millenium Collection and I finally started putting composers and styles and music together. Some of it was surprising and I fell in love with it instantly, others of were completely boring to me and odd at that, some of it grew on me and some of it impressed me tremendously but I never really listened to it again. A few, I'm trying to remember and will probably go back and find.
I had never heard the Death of Thibault before. It was Strauss that surprised me. My new favorite is Fruhlingsgruss. And it might surprise you, but that's all I have to say.
I've been out of town and therefore not under the direct influence of media barrages regarding the clash between protesters and police in McArthur Park on May first. But I did hear the first interview with Larry Mantle and Mayor Villaraigosa on Airtalk the other day.
The mayor cut short a trip to get back to LA and he has expressed complete confidence in Bratton. Of course there's a lot of bloviation going on but the general consensus seems to circle around the following factoids.
That's about all I know about the facts, and about all I have attempted to discover.
What I know is that a great deal of smoke is going to blow around this controversy and dead bodies and conspiracy theories will be exhumed for the benefit of the Coalition of the Damned and whatever coalitions coalesce around them this time around. Patterico also singled out John Mack for criticism for not attending a commemoration of officers who were to be commended in an unrelated event, but will be loud on matters of police failures here.
Since I'm not a cop, I have the liberty of pointing out the irony of celebrating May Day and complaining about police misconduct. There were no greater police states in the history of mankind than those that made May Day into national celebrations. It's one of those amazing blind spots - you know, like the celebration of Mayan heritage in Mexican culture when we know that they practiced ritual sacrifice.
All that is to get to the political point of agitating on May Day and the resonance the intent of those agitations will carry in those who are interested more in the symbolism of LAPD screwups than the actual performance of the organization. It gets right back to what we were talking about last week with regard to institutional reform and the fire and brimstone politics that distort the actual process of reform.
So all I'll say is this. All the exclamation points coming out of official mouths points to the fact that this was an aberration. And of course I use that word purposefully. The standard and professional procedure to deal with hostiles within a crowd of protesters is for experienced commanders to direct officers towards the agitators and separate them from the innocents and thereby limit their capacity to unduly influence the crowd. This is the best practice in policing. Guess what. It's also the best practice in policing the police. Let's see if critics of the LAPD are capable of not trampling on innocents in their politics.
An organic is a person who resists leverage. It's a very simple concept. If you can get something for nothing, you shouldn't trust it. For example if you go to a big name school, you shouldn't boast about it. Or better yet if you have a choice between competency and celebrity, choose competency. That's not all there is to it but I don't want to get into details in definitional directions.
The point is that I've noticed that there are a lot of American cultural things that I have never bothered with or even considered. So I've decided to make a list of Americana that I've not really done. This is not a commentary on their quality so much as it is a definition of my apathy. I'm not consciously avoiding them, just sayin eh, whatever. In no particular order, here are things I know a lot of people know and care about that I've never made it a priority to really check out. Movies I haven't seen, bands whose sound or songs I am completely ignorant of. Foods on the menu I never order.
1. Field of Dreams
2. Dixie Chicks
3. Spring Training
4. Italian Food
5. Gone With the Wind
I can't remember the rest of the things I don't know. Sports I don't play, I suppose. I know all the rules except for Hockey and Cricket. But hockey has got to be like soccer, like field hockey, like lacrosse, like all the games with a goalie. I don't know CPR or Lamaze. I don't know any of the people on American Idol or any soap opera. I don't know how to say thank you in Portuguese.
Abiola Lapite has noticed a fascinating thing by asking a simple question. Who exactly is public broadcasting for, and to what audience is it supposed to cater?
...If a public broadcaster's programming is targeted at the more educated classes, how can its support from taxation of the entire public be justified? If, on the other hand, its goal is to chase ratings and appeal to as broad a swathe of the public as possible, what is it doing that the private TV networks aren't? These are questions for which I've never once seen decent answers from the apologists for taxpayer funded television, and the impossibility of giving satisfactory answers to them is what lies behind this article about a recent BBC internal report.
Clearly when you think about it, such broadcasts are for decidedly highbrow folks of an educational bent. Nothing wrong with that. But is that really a public service? Only if there is no alternative. Growing up, I always watched PBS for the documentaries and specials. I would never miss one of Carl Sagan's shows, Jacques Cousteau's adventures or the National Geographic specials. But now all of that is handled quite aptly by The Learning Channel, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel and of course the National Geographic Channel. I think that they're all part of Discovery Networks, but there's nothing left but Frontline that even vaguely interests me in PBS. My kids are beyond Sesame Street.
This is not a right wing screed aimed at a liberal jugular nor do I desperately need those few scraps of tax dollars, but in light of the things the public really ought to know which would be a true public service, PBS is nowhere near doing the job.
In Los Angeles, a relative paucity of sympathizers showed up to demonstrate for the politics of illegal immigration. The LAT reports:
The first of today's two demonstrations gathered steam through the morning as it moved along Broadway, yet even at more than 25,000 strong it remained far smaller that last year's demonstration, when about 650,000 poured through the streets of Los Angeles in the largest demonstration in the nation.
"It's smaller than we anticipated," Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Louis H. Gray Jr. said at about 11 a.m. "Last year at this time, I'd say there were at least 300,000 to 400,000 people."
Officials last year were caught off-guard by the size of the demonstration and were determined not to be surprised again. Plans were made to close roads, the police presence was beefed up and some owners closed their stores along the march route.
Vanderbilt prof Carol Swain has some things to say about this matter. From Booker Rising.
Vanderbilt University's website says that Professor Swain argues that black Americans are losing more jobs to illegal immigrants than other racial or ethic groups, yet low income black workers don’t have political input in the debate. “African Americans have been left devoid of a strong black voice in Congress on a topic that affects them deeply, given their high unemployment rates and historic struggle to get quality housing, health care, education and other goods and services”, she said.
Professor Swain used a study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, which found high unemployment rates among blacks and Hispanics was partially attributed to the large number of low-skilled immigrants. She added that lax or non-existent immigration rules help businesses get away with hiring illegal immigrants instead of legal workers.
There's not much else to say about this. My Old School soundbite is that illegal immigration sustains two unequal societies. It's virtual slavery. Although I have no great love for the 'living' wage, I say that the standing of non-citizens is too weak.
In some ways I feel that the exploitation that goes on for illegals is just part of the bargain that they have struck. I am tempted to say to hell with them and their rights. But I recognize that there is a substantial body of law that outlines the rights of 'persons living in the United States' regardless of their status as citizens. So we cannot merely ignore their rights. And yet the fact that the law has not been enforced and everybody knows it and a lot of people don't like it, forms the defacto case for vigilantism and exploitation. If we don't solve the problem the Mexican will have no rights an American citizen is bound to respect. And that means Mexicans, not just mojados. Because that's the identification, right or wrong.
One of the things I haven't done in quite some time is write with any particular flavorish flavor. Once upon a long ago, it was all I cared to do, in lower case. The rush of stage poetry kept me dizzy and spinning out swoopy phraseology, but Papa's not always on stage. I caught a dose of raw ugly unleashed humanity. Remember that Malcolm quote, the one he said scared whitefolks to death? He said he would consider for the sake of his freedom anything whitefolks might consider for the sake of his captivity. Have you ever looked off the edge of a 50 story building? Have you ever held a gun in your hand? Have you ever stared at a footlong line of cocaine? Have you ever come face to face with your ability to will yourself into extremity? That's what happened to me after I already had babies. So I quit being a lover and started being a fighter.
The ability to stay beautiful despite the presence of reproductive superpotential is not the exclusive province of the homosexual nor of the prude, but it helps if you find the willpower to denounce breeding and that state of selflessness it commonly bestows. Staying beautiful is an artificial childhood, and those who extend that state beyond ordinary reason remain oddly interesting, even fascinating if they play it. To be fabulous. To create artifacts for the the curious. To entertain the senses beyond instinct. These are the callings of the Creative. Aldous Huxley said that the Intellectual is someone who has found something more interesting than sex. I'm sure he meant it that way, but what if he meant marriage? Then he would be talking about the Creative as well. While its a conceit that all Creatives are intellectual, you cannot deny that they are anything Erma Bombeck or Andy Griffith.
The difference between Creatives and Intellectuals can often be expressed in the dissonance found by kneejerking critics of Michelle Malkin. She looks like a Creative, she acts like an Intellectual.
Creatives, the superset of producing aesthetes that would include many bloggers, rappers, singers, songwriters, playwrites, screenwriters, subway bombers (in the Hiphop sense), sculptors, buskers, performance artists and multifarious bourgeois types who bother to whiten their teeth or sculpt their toenails used to be more gay than we are. We Westerners are all descendants of the castrato, heirs to the jester and children of the men who would capture the world's imagination with instruments like pens for diversionary reasons rather than with weapons like cannon and laws and canon law. Creatives are the running buddies of power, and so they get prestige instead. Prestige tends to make one fabulous.
In the empowered world more than men can be creative. More than men can act and frolic and capture the attention of more than men. It's a whole industry and the gay tradition is subsumed. It ain't just singing cowboys any more. But I've been looking for black bloggers and creative writers and flavors other than the few that I've been knowing so long, and they're all gay, or at least seven out of seven tries have sent me down to the same keywords.
The urge to be black, fabulous and creative has a heavy pull and that's no bull. There's a sixteen beat behind you and something about the music gets into your pants, but it's not just enough to do the same dance as everyone else on the block. It's your Soul Train Line, remember? You can't be just another Negro, you have to aim for honorifics and kick other crabs out of barrels and into curbs. It ain't enough to just rap, you have to be Flavor Flav. Don't be a Do Bee, this ain't Miss Mary Ann's Romper Room, you in America now Kunta. You have got to be bigger than Mantan Moreland, bigger than Daddy Grace, bigger than Diana Ross. A little bit creative is not enough juice, and an ordinary brotha's romantic fantasies don't make for art.
It's not strictly only a black fabulous thing of course, but extra extra is the byline when you're coming from the basement. Extra. Like the models on Deal or No Deal that confessed that nobody took them to their prom, you have to dedicate yourself to be extra glitterlicious so that the contrast between before and after confirms your artistic transformation. Extreme makeover begins at home, and creativity doesn't come from homely people, well except for Jay-Z and Elton John.
I've been saying that black culture is over the table and therefore somewhat over. Oh but black gay creative culture, there's something filthy dirty fascinating huh? Still under the table, but peeking up periodically. Why, we don't even have the right myths and stereotypes down for that do we? I mean what if tomorrow we found out that Lawrence Fishburne was gay? Well, that's besides the point which is there's still some confounding mystery and a deep well of darkness that remains from the hole of soul. There's still yet to be our Big Black Gay Star, and RuPaul doesn't count.
In the meantime, there's a slim little comfortable alley to hang out in, still digging on the beats and vibes of the 70s, well trod ruts in the deep soul. It's frightening to learn how to play the bassline for Knee Deep and liberating at the same time. Such joy from such simplicity; my God our souls were purer than we ever imagined.
I don't know where the overproduction of gay lib takes us. It's still considered outre to out the closeted gay. What if Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion, was gay? Shouldn't we know? Shouldn't we care? Me? I say no. I don't want to ask and I don't want to hear tell. That's because I'm still with Huxley if not with Greek Dualism. I don't think there's much of a conflict nor much of a synergy between mind and body, between Intellectuality and Creativity, between being fabulous and being interesting. The beauty of the performer is a trick, you see. If you're looking at the person and that is part of their creativity, their appeal is instinctual but they are denying the instinct. The beauty of humans is its own reward, to translate it into art is the discipline of the performer. You don't have to be a homosexual or a prude but it helps. Somebody out there may have produced a ballet for pregnant women, but it will never be a classic. Somebody out there might call The Brady Bunch or Good Times art, but that's not what really cuts it.
The Special and the Extra, these are qualities borne by those Creatives pulling their faces into the picture, and those are the faces of those dedicated not to the humdrumeries of domesticity.
Who has time for the finery and frippery of aesthetics beyond the ken of the man on the street?
1. We shouldn't have gone in the first place.
1a. Because Bush is an idiot.
1b. Because Bush is a warmonger.
1c. Because Bush is a war profiteer.
1d. Because Bush is deceptive.
2. We should have gone but got out already.
2a. Because Iraq is never going to be a democracy.
2b. Because we already hurt AQ enough.
2c. Because we can't hurt AQ enough.
2d. Because they're all going to kill each other anyway.
2e. Because it's too expensive.
3. We should not have gone at all.
3a. Because AQ was not in Iraq
3b. Because we're rallying Jihadis.
3c. Because we didn't have enough in the coalition.
4. We can't afford to lose Iraq
4a. Because it would reneg our promise to the Kurds.
4b. Because genocide will ensue.
4c. Because we have strategic interests in the Middle East.
4d. Because it hurts the American military.
5. Democracy In Iraq
5a. Is possible only with American help
5b. Is not possible at all.
5c. Already existed before the War
5d. Is possible without American help.
From the NYT:
Mr. Wolfowitz was given until Friday evening — two additional days — to make his case in writing to the board, and it was expected that he would appear before the board as early as Monday. The board is to vote on whether he deserves a reprimand, a vote of no confidence or outright removal.
But even those plans could change. Discussions continued Wednesday on whether to proceed with a vote next week. Many bank officials continue to hope that Mr. Wolfowitz will resign, making a vote unnecessary.
Last weekend, a special committee of the board concluded that Mr. Wolfowitz violated bank rules and the terms of his contract by directing that Shaha Ali Riza, his companion, be awarded a large pay and promotion package when she was transferred to the State Department in 2005.
What a soap opera.