Sunday, August 29, 2004

I think the government is doing a crappy job of protecting us all from terrorism. For instance, I'm not aware that it's doing much at all about the (high) risk of someone loading a shipping container full of explosives and/or a little nuke and blowing it up in a harbor. But to be fair, that's a hard problem.

BUT some things are easy problems, and the feds are failing at those too. I think Congress did well to bring all airport screeners into the federal government. But since they're all now under Tom Ridge, why is it still a disaster? I think an emblematic problem is the ongoing debate over whether one should take one's shoes off before going through the x-ray machine. Why is it that they can't come up with a rule? Either it is or it is not safe. Either shoes should or should not be passed through the x-ray machine separately. Why the ambiguity? If shoes should be x-rayed, they should be x-rayed every time. Period. Not at some airports, or only at big airports, or only if you tick off the guy who runs the machine (this seems to be the rule in San Francisco--if you're advised to take your shoes off and you don't, you're inevitably pulled aside, your shoes are removed, and they give you the Wand Treatment).

Granted that the shoes thing is a small issue, but it's also an ridiculously simple problem to solve. The feds have had three years since the attacks of September 11 to come up with a policy for an extremely simple situation. Why should I trust that they're making better progress in more complicated issues?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I'm in Phoenix for a conference. What an odd place. Why did human beings build a city here?

This is a big hotel. Surrounded by a donut of golf holes (it has an 18 hole course). And outside that is desert nothingness. I've gone running the last couple of mornings and there's sure nothing going on anywhere near here. It's a bizarre place and I won't miss it.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Well, I think I can add another item to the list of things I just don't care about. The next thing I don't care about is gymnastics. I just can't make myself care. I gather there was some sort of controversy about the American guy who won. Whatever.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Generally, I like sports. Generally, I don't like sports coverage. I'm not a big fan of schmaltz, so obviously NBC's Olympic coverage leaves a lot to be desired from my perspective. Give me athletes competing! I don't give a crap about, say, competitive weightlifting, but every four years I want to cheer for some pipsqueak Turkish guy who can lift like 800 pounds over his head! And I especially want to see rowing, but that's just me.

But my point here ties together two other things I don't like about sports reporting. The first is the over-focus on race. The second is lazy reporting. I've been reading about how the US had this guy Aquil Abdullah in the heavyweight doubles (sidenote: a double is two people with four oars, a pair is two people with two oars) is . the first black US rower. That would surely be news to Anita DeFrantz. What's stupid here is that she's pretty damn prominant IN OLYMPIC CIRCLES! She's Vice President of the IOC! She probably sitting in the stands rooting for Abdullah! It's just stupid reporting.

(I'll stipulate that sports aren't all that important, and that it's more important for non-sports reporters to check their facts than for sports reporters. But still.)

Monday, August 16, 2004

In Year 1 PSS (post steroid scandal), Bonds is still dominant. Maybe he was clean after all. Giambi has been hurt, and Sosa has dropped off considerably.

Of course, there could be extenuating circumstances in both cases. Giambi has his mysterious illness and tumor--it's like the old time Kremlin over there, any pronouncement of his health is always guarded and very little information leaks (a suspicious person would suspect that the public isn't getting the full story and that something is going on, but I don't have any idea what). Sosa may be suffering the ill effects of a dearth of cork in his bat. That's enough to slow anyone down....

Saturday, August 14, 2004

I took some advice and requested half pound of buffalo last night for my burger. I kept a little of it for pasta sauce and made myself yet another fantastic burger for dinner. (Mmmm, buffalo.) The "point forty" butcher wasn't there so I didn't have a chance to try that.

...and a related three cheers for Whole Foods. I love it because it's half a block from my house, even if it is filled with the kind of ever-diligent liberal people (and foods) that I normally mock. But now they've started stocked Pabst, my favorite beer. Yes, in cans. Whoo-hoo! Pabst!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I'm certainly no historian, but I just have to think that today's press conference in which a married male governor resigned from office while admitting to having an affair with a man is fairly unprecedented.

I mean, has anything like this ever happened? Ever? In the world?

Monday, August 09, 2004

I read today that the administration is going to go ahead and keep buying oil for the National Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Now why are we, the taxpayers, buying oil when it is the highest price it's ever been? Why is this a good deal for us? I would submit that it is not. It is, however, a great deal for the House of Saud, who do better and better the higher oil goes.....

And finally, this is over-dramatic and doesn't tell us anything we don't already know, but it's also worthwhile as art, I think, because it makes one think.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

>Bush told the minority journalists that he opposed quota systems in college admissions but "I support colleges affirmatively taking action to get more minorities in their school."

W ought to notify John Ashcroft that he actually favors affirmative action. W might be surprised to learn that his own solicitor general argued against affirmative action in the Supreme Court in the University of Michigan case a couple of years ago. So which is it? Does he support it or not?

Saturday, August 07, 2004

I know that the second "anonymous" is Cho, but who's the first?

The reason i just get enough for one burger is that I walk past the grocery every day on the way back from work. If I want something, I stop in a get it. I store very little food at my house. This is the part of urban life that I love--walking to get things, especially now that there's a store near me (no thanks to Chris Daly, who opposed it because corporations are bad). I don't even make a weekly trip to the store. I just go whenever I need anything. (Right now, for instance, I'm going to get a cantelope for breakfast.)

Now, as for asking for half a pound of beef, that's an idea. I'll have to test the mechanics of a half pound burger (as they get bigger, it's tougher to make sure they stay together on the grill). I'm going to try the "point forty" idea first. Most importantly, they were out of ground buffalo last time. This is a more serious failing. I like the beef, but I love the buffalo.

As a sidenote to this sidenote, I don't eat as much as I used to. The days of a pound of linguini are over.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

More trouble at the butcher yesterday. I attempted to order "four tenths of a pound of ground beef". Apparently for a graduate of the US school system this is tricky.

"What, you want a quarter pound?"
"No, four tenths--for a burger."
(looking at me like I'm crazy) "Four tenths?" "That's not enough for a burger"
"Yeah, it is. Four tenths of a pound."

I think I figured out the right way to ask for 0.4 pounds of ground beef. One asks for "point forty". I'll try it next time.

The burger, of course, was delicious. I make fantastic burgers.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

This Google IPO thing is somewhat interesting.

I'm a bit of a simpleton when it comes to financial matters, but it looks to me like Google's trying to discourage small investors. And for the life of me I can't find a single article talking about this possibility. But everything points to them keeping the little guy out.

One must have an account at a specified brokerage (I think that, an E*Trade customer, I could, if I wanted to). This is a small deterrent. The big one is that they're selling shares for over $100 each. Now obviously, it's stupid to make one's decision based on that, but apparently people are in fact that stupid. I've seen all this criticism of this move, something about how it's too high a number (n.b. if you read the prospectus they're obviously in love with Warren Buffet). Well, yeah it's too high a number if that's what's going to be the deciding factor for you! If so, you're a dumbass, and you shouldn't be setting the market value of the company!

At the same time, the price shouldn't drop. There are going to be lots of people who could have got in if they'd paid just a little more, so presumably if the price drops these people are going to be ready to jump in and buy at the price they wanted.
Like I say, I'm a rube when it comes to all this, but it's interesting.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I'm starting to think the Nomar trade might work out all right. This season, I'm reading that he wasn't going to play, and wasn't happy. Next season, with an infield of Youkilis, Cabrera, Someone-at-Second, and Mientkiewicz, with Ortiz DH'ing. That looks pretty good to me. Pokey Reese is a fantastic utility player. Not too bad.

Now if Larry Luccino can stop his stupid sniping (it's detailed in the Globe). I'm really starting to think Luccino's an idiot. Don't snipe at Nomar. Wish him well. Say he's terrific. Never, never badmouth a guy. That's the Dan Duquette way of thinking. He was yapping in the offseason too. I don't know exactly what is entailed by being CEO of the Sox, but it seems to me that there's no reason he couldn't do his job and keep his damn mouth shut too.

And yes, I'm very proud of my hotlinking skillz.

Monday, August 02, 2004

It appears as if the insurgants in Iraq are going to emulate Robert Mugabe and chase all the Christians out. If they succeed, they might also end up copying Mugabe in other ways, as their country loses a large part of its economy. Not that Iraq will turn into Zimbabwe--it takes a special kind of person to do that!--but it could well turn into, say, Nigeria or Venezuela or (ha ha) Russia.

This is a problem I didn't anticipate (I was, and remain, fixated on the Kurds as the source of long term instability and ungovernability). But I suppose this is another good one. An it shows up the fundamental point that one really can't predict what's going to happen when one creates a new nation. Which is why we should be really careful and hesitate long and hard before doing so. Because it ain't going well. And Dick Cheney aside, there weren't any weapons of mass destruction there, and there was no reason to invade.

And perhaps another thought. Maybe it'd be a good idea to NOT assume the best case scenario, but prepare for the worst.