Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Foreign Exchange: Sunni v. Shia, Palestinian Olives, and Post-Blair Britain



Sunday, April 22, 2007

Evening Chuckle: Top Ten Bush Moments

Enjoy...or cry...either response is appropriate.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Evening Chuckle: Bob Uecker HoF

This is a little bit different than what I normally put up here but it's pretty funny (which I think we could all use after this week).

Bob Uecker's Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech.

"I bought a box of flame-treated bats and they sent me a box of ashes."



The Good Kerrey May Return to the Senate

Could Bob Kerrey, the Kerrey who should have run for President, make a run for Senate in Nebraska again?

I would guess no. Plus, having lived in NYC for the last several years probably wouldn't sit real well with most Nebraskans. If Chuck Hagel decides not to run again, this seat could be up for grabs IF Democrats can put up someone like Kerrey.

Unfortunately, there really isn't anyone like Kerrey.

(Maybe Hagel and Kerrey should consider Unity 08.)

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Foreign Exchange: China's Economy, Iraq Insurgency, and Northern Ireland


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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Selling Science to the Public

Author Chris Mooney and Professor Matt Nesbit of American University have an op-ed piece in the Sunday Washington Post calling on scientists to do a better job of communicating the facts they learn in the lab to the public.

They touch on evolution, climate change, and stem cell research.

I don't necessarily agree with everything they say, but their main point is dead-on.

Let's hope someone listens.

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Bi-Partisan Appeal for a Sensible Cuba Policy

In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, Congressmen Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) take on the idiotic, entirely political, failed American policy toward Cuba. They call for opening up political and economic co-operation with Cuba to help support positive change on the island for the Cuban people. I agree.

I like Flake. I'd feel a lot better if I thought people like him (i.e., sensible people) were the future of the Republican party.

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Foreign Exchange: Iran, Chad, and Iraq with Bonus Zakaria

This episode of Foreign Exchange features an interview on Iran, a report on how the violence in Darfur is spilling over into neighboring Chad, and a very good interview with an author who has spent the last several years in Iraq. Also, one of the best Fareed Zakaria monologues I've every seen.


Plus, here is Fareed's latest Newsweek column on a Global Carbon Tax.

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The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie Is Out!

Remember the giant freak-out in Boston a couple of weeks ago over a couple of Lite-Brites?

Well, the movie that was the source of all that consternation has finally come out:

Watch the trailer, the go see the movie (if you can find it).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Turkey Cracking Down on Kurds

I've been waiting for this.

Even more terrifying, the head of the Turkish Army asked for permission to move into Northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan).

So long, mostly stable Northern Iraq.

Next stop: Kirkuk.

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Kurt Vonnegut Dead

The writer of my favorite book, "Cat's Cradle", died yesterday at 84.

And so it goes...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tours to Be Extended for Army Personnel in Iraq

DoD announced today that Army troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will have their tours extended by three months to a total of fifteen months.

So, this is the latest manifestation of the failed policies of this administration. Once again, the only people being asked to sacrifice during this time of war are the people in our military.

That is all...please continue shopping.

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Stem Cell Bill Passes Senate (Again)

The Senate passed a bill tonight that overturns the President's almost six-year-old stem cell ban.

Of course, he will veto it but I still say Congress should make him veto it a hundred times.

This veto needs to be overturned. Enough (six...#@&%ing...years) is enough.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Evening Chuckle: Baghdad, Indiana

This one's for V.



Crazy Crap That I Rank High on in Google

ivf and hitching #4

when will mugabe die #1

dollar coin liberal conspiracy #1

Jimmy Carter Bunny #3

"everybody hates america" #1 (Google Belgium) (Again, unintended consequence.)

Jimmy Carter rabbit boat #4

Kirkuk resolution #1 (This one is actually pretty surprising.)

gary the fox blades of glory #1 (Go Ben!)

you smell like taco meat #5 second page

crazy crap #8 (AWESOME!)

"Chuck Hagel" "Jim Webb" #2 second page (Unity 08!)

fidel castro death cause #2

things you should know before you babysit #4

cloned meat riggle #3

Monday, April 09, 2007

More Turkey v. Kurd Saber Rattling

[More on where I've been later...]

I just wanted to put up this article about renewed tensions between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey.

There are some pretty strong threats being thrown around.

Stay tuned...

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Get Your I Heart Chuck Hagel T-Shirts Here!...Seriously

First of all, I am making no endorsement nor am I saying anything other than I think this is hilarious:

They also come in short sleeve for summer!:

My little automatic ad generator at the bottom of the page showed me this yesterday. It is supposed to show you items that relate to your content. I have been on Hagel lately; so, I guess it works. But one time it listed "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science" (which would be accurate if they dropped "Politically" from the title); so, it ain't exactly batting 1.000.

Buy until it hurts!


Maya MacGuineas on Budget Reform

I had a busy night last Wednesday because, in addition to seeing the Chinese Ambassador to the US speak, I also went to a talk by Maya MacGuineas of the New America Foundation.

She is a budget wonk (in a good way) and her talk was very interesting. One of the points that really struck a chord with me was about entitlement reform. [Disclaimer: The following views are mine and not Ms. MacGuineas'.] This is probably the area of the budget most in need of reform as the imminent increase in the cost of entitlement programs (and the interest on the foreign [hint: foreign = China - it always comes back to the Chinese, although Ms. MacGuineas was dubious as to whether or not the Chinese owning so much of our debt is actually dangerous. I vote yes.] owned debt that is used to fund them) will increase rapidly in the coming decades.

Social security was designed to be a safety net for individuals who were past the point where they could reasonably be expected to earn a wage to support themselves. At that time, that age was determined to be 65. In 1930, five years before social security was signed into law by FDR, the average US life expectancy was 58 for men and 62 for women and 5.5% of the population was 65 or older. Today, average US life expectancy is 78 and 11.5% of the population is over 65. In addition, the impending retirement of the "Baby Boomers" (or as I like to call them, "the Worstest Generation") is going to swell the percentage of individuals receiving social security even more. Furthermore, social security was meant to help those who could not help themselves. It was not meant as a way for everyone to plan their retirement around.

So, one of the most sensible (from looking at those numbers) and "politically poisonous" ideas (as Ms. MacGuineas termed them) would be a two-fold approach of, first, raising the age at which people can receive social security benefits and, second, to institute means testing as a way to ensure that people only get out of the system what they need. Social security was designed as a safety net, not a forced 401k.

While social security is a pressing problem, the larger issue is the Medicare/Medicaid monster that is waiting to consume the budget. Oddly, Medicaid is often a sacrificial lamb when it comes to budget cutting, particularly on the state level. (Apparently, taking money away from poor children who need it to see a doctor is more palatable than taking money away from senior citizens who may not necessarily need it.) One of the best ways to remedy the skyrocketing cost of this entitlement would be to spend more money on preventive care for all Americans. This would decrease the burden on the US medical system and should help keep costs down.

All in all, both the Congress and the President need to move quickly to keep entitlement programs from wrecking the budget and burying future generations in the debt because this generation was too complacent and comfortable with the status quo to take action.

Kissinger on China's Inevitable Rise

"What is so mysterious about China? There are 900 million of us and it is not mysterious to us."

[This was 30 years it is more like 1.3 billion. Or 1.6...but who's counting?]

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Ha Ha Ha America

This is weird (it was recommended by a commenter in my previous post).

I'll provide it without comment, except to say that it says a lot of true things about Chine and America. (Warning: Some vulgarity and profanity.)

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We're China: #^&% You!

Last Wednesday I went and listened to the Chinese Ambassador to the US, Zhou Wenzhong, speak at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

I didn't get my question about China's intentions towards Africa answered but there were still many interesting points.

Ambassador Zhou touched on several major points during his speech but the overarching theme concerned the idea that China is building a "Harmonious society". "Harmonious society" is the name of the ideological campaign that was developed in response to the impression among the Chinese that their government was over emphasizing economic development and ignoring the importance of social justice. The ambassador re-iterated the stated goals of the "Harmonious society", which were initially proposed by Chinese President Hu Jintau, that China is committed to the development of "democracy, the rule of law, justice, sincerity, amity, and vitality".

The Ambassador stated that China is at the "primary stage" of socialism and that it will remain there for a long time to come. He characterized the "primary stage" as one of underdevelopment and said that China recognizes that its system of socialism is not perfect and that it needs and will receive improvement. He called improving economic development and achieving social justice the two historical tasks for China.

Since instituting market reforms, the quality of life of Chinese citizens has improved greatly but China still has significant challenges to overcome. Challenges include increased economic gaps between urban and rural Chinese as well as increased corruption. The government had overemphasized economic growth without enough of a focus on increasing social justice. "Social fairness and justice lack sufficient safeguards."

The Ambassador listed major tasks for the government to complete by 2020: to build a comprehensive socialist democracy, legal system, and rule of law. To provide better protection for the people’s rights and interests, to gradually reverse the trend of widening disparity between urban and rural areas, to build an income distribution structure and social security network to cover both urban and rural residents, to improve basic public health services and education, to increase the efficient use of natural resources and to noticeably improve the environment. The overall goal is to allow all Chinese to enjoy the benefits of reform and economic growth.

The Ambassador also made the case that building a harmonious society in China will have implications on the world stage, with positive impact on world peace and prosperity. "When reflected in China’s foreign policy, the concept of 'Harmonious society' point to an inevitable choice of firm adherence to the role of peaceful development, a choice that is based on our judgments of the current situation in the world and our historical heritage and the realistic national conditions." It is the Chinese view that peace and development are the trend of the times. They believe it is unlikely that a major war could breakout in the near future and that they can use their economic development to help promote world peace.

The Ambassador stated that China builds relationships with all the countries of the world based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence (mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence). China treats all countries as equals regardless of size and strength.

"China opposes hegemony and will never seek hegemony." (This one I find particularly hard to believe.)

The talk was mostly cordial but there is an unmistakable air that China believes their ascension is inevitable and, while they try to not say too many inflammatory things and try to portray themselves in a good international light, they will pretty much do as they damn well please.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Evening Chuckle: Cloned Meat

"Daily Show" correspondent Rob Riggle explores the issue of cloning animals.

Just one note: Everything the anti-genetic engineering hippie guys says is bull$#!#.



"Blades of Glory" Tops Box Office!

I attribute the success to Ben Wilson's riveting performance as "Gary the Fox" in the Grublet's Ice show!

Actually, we went and saw it this weekend and it was damn funny. Now I have "My Humps" stuck in my head, though.

"You smell like aftershave and taco meat."

"You still look like a 15-year old girl, but not hot."

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