Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boston You're My Home

Oh Yeah, Baby!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bright Day, Gloomy View Saturday

Oh, what beautiful morning. Strikingly bright sunshine is lighting up the green and reddening leaves, and the geese are honking loudly on their way farther south this beautiful, early morning in Atlanta. Hot coffee in hand, I step outside, onto the back porch, in the crisp, chilly sunshine to enjoy the moment.

It's a bit too cold, so I make the moment a quick one. But it was a good little dose. I feel a little better for it.

Life can be good. We have two little league games today, and I may be the one looking forward to them the most. More so, even, than our two young players. We have decided not to be a football family, a minority view here in the South, so we appreciate the fall baseball season that the church league provides for the kids. Watching my young sons play has given me an appreciation, and even a thankfulness, for the game that I had never fully developed until now.

And so it is that at 47, I am still able to find new sources of joy in my life. And those sources are, more and more, my family. A Saturday devoted to watching little league. That's probably not an easy sale to a cool teen or a twenty-something hipster. But I'm looking forward to it in a way that I would not, and did not, anticipate as a younger, single man.

But there looms gloom around the periphery of this lovely day. It comes in through our portals to the world. Television, the internet, radio. All the excited chatter about what is going wrong, what has gone wrong, and what is surely about to go wrong. It is intrusive. And it weighs upon me so I think it must weigh upon others as well, somewhat poisoning the mental atmosphere of our daily lives.

Nukes in Iran.

Terrorists in Iraq.

Mexicans in Texas.

The North Pole is melting.

Atlanta's running out of water. Really.

The bees have all disappeared.

The dollar is going down in value. Way, way down. This makes it look like the stock market is going up, allowing Wall Street hucksters to convince us that the economy is booming.

Gas and oil cost a fortune. But don't worry, because some crazy scientists have now discovered that the Earth actually makes more oil all the time.

We are still at war against someone in Iraq. Possibly Al Quaeda.

Pakistan. Burma. Darfur. Congo (Again? Still?). Bad things are happening in all these places.

North Korea has nukes, but nobody seems overly concerned. A peace treaty may break out there. Go figure.

The Russians are up to something, as usual.

And China seems poised to supplant us as the most important country in the world. Shanghai will soon be the new New York, the world's new financial center. Soon New Yorkers will know how Londoners feel.

Meanwhile, here in the USA, our old, wrinkled and tanned, draft dodging leaders have narrowly saved us from recklessly spending money to let all of our kids see a doctor. Boy, talk about dodging a bullet. It sure would have been fiscally irresponsible to be paying for that.

So, we look to the future. In terms of our Nation, what that means is focusing on our upcoming Presidential Election, with corresponding legislative and state elections. And the future looks very bleak, indeed.

Republicans claim to be more hawkish on war issues, which they apparently consider a virtue. But it was Democratic Presidents who led the US into World War I, World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam. But not this time. Those hawkish Republicans got us into a war with Iraq. Twice. You know, because it went so well the first time that all Americans did was complain about Bush I's crazy strategy of quitting while we were still ahead. This is called being greedy. So now we are at war in Iraq again, and all Americans do is complain, for all kinds of different reasons. There is no pleasing some people. But there's not much to be pleased about.

Meanwhile, here in the South, the lakes have dried up and we are about to run out of water. The government is doing zip. Except, of course, to complain. That is doing about as much good as the complaining about Iraq. There is crazy talk about building an aqueduct or a seawater pipeline. But those ideas are all deemed way too expensive. Plus, such proposals have a faint sniff of environmentalism about them that Republicans instinctively dislike. So mainly we all just hope it will rain, for 6 months straight.

If only we could get about 100,000 guys and a trillion dollars, I bet we could solve this water shortage problem in less than 5 years. But that would be crazy. Or we could invade Canada. Apparently they have plenty of water. And a lot of them speak French. We all know what that means.

Bush wants to fly men to Mars, and teach Arab nomads about political science at the business end of a rifle. But getting clean water to the city, that's just too hard for him.

Malaise, thy name is Bush.

I'm just gonna turn that tv off right now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Old News That's Still Vaguely Interesting

Copying and Pasting Is Easier Than Writing Your Own Stuff
(With thanks to Stephen Glass)

Report: Laura Bush in 1963 Car Wreck
By JIM VERTUNO, Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - At 17, Laura Bush ran a stop sign and crashed into another car, killing her boyfriend who was driving it, according to an accident report released to The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Mrs. Bush is the wife of Republican presidential nominee-to-be George W. Bush, the Texas governor.
``It was a very tragic accident that deeply affected the families and was very painful for all involved, including the community at large,'' said her spokesman, Andrew Malcolm. ``To this day, Mrs. Bush remains unable to talk about it.''

Mrs. Bush did say in March, when asked at a campaign stop about the crash, ``I know this as an adult, and even more as a parent, it was crushing ... for the family involved and for me as well.''
According to the two-page accident report released Wednesday by the city of Midland, Laura Welch was driving her Chevrolet sedan on a clear night shortly after 8 p.m. on Nov. 6, 1963, when she drove into an intersection and struck a Corvair sedan driven by 17-year-old Michael Douglas.
Although previous news accounts have reported Douglas was thrown from the car and broke his neck, those details were not in the report.
The speed of Laura Bush's car was illegible on the report. The speed limit for the road was 55.
Neither driver was drinking, the police report said.
Laura Bush and her passenger, Judy Dykes, also 17, were taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries, according to an accident account printed at the time in the Midland Reporter-Telegram.
The police report indicates no charges were filed. That section of the report was left blank.
``As far as we know, no charges were filed,'' said Midland city attorney Keith Stretcher. ``I don't think it's unusual that charges weren't filed.'' The police report was released after an open records request was submitted to Midland officials in March. City officials had declined to release the records because the victims were under 18.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Thomas Friedman Not Wrong Today

Normally annoying, but inexplicably influential, Thomas Friedman makes a good point today that it's time to get over 9/11. It's been seven years. There is a time for grieving and a time for living. We accepted Japan's surrender 4 years after Pearl Harbor, and Japan murdered tens of thousands of American POW's. Now we think they are on our side.

Let's live again.

Go Red Sox!

Throwing copyright caution to the wind, here is Friedman's column.

September 30, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
9/11 Is Over
Not long ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion ran a fake news story that began like this:
“At a well-attended rally in front of his new ground zero headquarters Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani officially announced his plan to run for president of 9/11. ‘My fellow citizens of 9/11, today I will make you a promise,’ said Giuliani during his 18-minute announcement speech in front of a charred and torn American flag. ‘As president of 9/11, I will usher in a bold new 9/11 for all.’ If elected, Giuliani would inherit the duties of current 9/11 President George W. Bush, including making grim facial expressions, seeing the world’s conflicts in terms of good and evil, and carrying a bullhorn at all state functions.”
Like all good satire, the story made me both laugh and cry, because it reflected something so true — how much, since 9/11, we’ve become “The United States of Fighting Terrorism.” Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there’s no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.
What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.
It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.
Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”
You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.
Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association, told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11 — even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. “Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today’s world,” Mr. Dow said.
Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industry’s recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that “the U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting America’s image abroad.” Those who don’t visit us, don’t know us.
I’d love to see us salvage something decent in Iraq that might help tilt the Middle East onto a more progressive pathway. That was and is necessary to improve our security. But sometimes the necessary is impossible — and we just can’t keep chasing that rainbow this way.
Look at our infrastructure. It’s not just the bridge that fell in my hometown, Minneapolis. Fly from Zurich’s ultramodern airport to La Guardia’s dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. I still can’t get uninterrupted cellphone service between my home in Bethesda and my office in D.C. But I recently bought a pocket cellphone at the Beijing airport and immediately called my wife in Bethesda — crystal clear.
I just attended the China clean car conference, where Chinese automakers were boasting that their 2008 cars will meet “Euro 4” — European Union — emissions standards. We used to be the gold standard. We aren’t anymore. Last July, Microsoft, fed up with American restrictions on importing brain talent, opened its newest software development center in Vancouver. That’s in Canada, folks. If Disney World can remain an open, welcoming place, with increased but invisible security, why can’t America?
We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.