due torre
27 February 2004
Örn cries into his Guinness...
posted by mike d
(...or my first internet date)

So -overcoming all odds- I made my first attempt to translate from cyberspace to meatspace this evening. And y'all (by "y'all", I mean Örn for where it was; Stefan for who it was; and no one else reads this...) would be jealous... I had a pint (or three or four...) at Biddy Mulligans with Felix Salmon and Charles Kenny, two bloggers (I still hate that word...) of higher caliber than I.

In the words of Bill S. Preston, Esq., it was "excellent."

yes, I did have a few beers; and yes, I don't care...
26 February 2004
Seen under the bed...
posted by mike d
An interesting site- perfect for the polyglot ADD lovechild of the information age:
Blogalization | Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it: "Blogalization is an open community of bloggers who post in one or more languages about material discovered in one or more other languages: if I have languages A and B and you have lan languages B and C, we can share memes across barriers of mutual incomprehension."
25 February 2004
Marcha da Quarta-feira de Cinzas
posted by mike d
(Carlos Lyra e Vinícius de Moraes)

Acabou nosso carnaval, ninguém ouve cantar canções
Ninguém passa mais brincando feliz
E nos corações saudades e cinzas foi o que restou
Pelas ruas o que se vê é uma gente que nem se vê
Que nem se sorri, se beija e se abraça
E sai caminhando, dançando e cantando cantigas de amor
E no entanto é preciso cantar
Mais que nunca é preciso cantar
É preciso cantar e alegrar a cidade
A tristeza que a gente tem qualquer dia vai se acabar
Todos vão sorrir, voltou a esperança
É o povo que dança, contente da vida feliz a cantar
Porque são tão tantas coisas azuis, há tão grandes promessas de luz
Tanto amor para amar que a gente nem sabe
Quem me dera viver pra ver e brincar outros carnavais
Com a beleza dos velhos carnavais
Que marchas tão lindas
E o povo cantando seu canto de paz
24 February 2004
Fulfilling the Carnaval Cliché
posted by mike d
Can you beleive it's been eight years since I've been to Carnaval. I gotta get back. O Jornal do Brasil has all the coverage.

Império Serrano looks like they'll win this year, no doubt with the help of this lovely lady and their version of "Aquarela Brasileira"

Of course this was posted from a windowless cubicle on a cold, rainy day...
"The Hispanic Challenge"
posted by mike d
Following on Bush's brief foray into immigration politics, Samuel Huntington (of "Clash of Civilizations" fame) has unleashed a corker of an article in next month's Foreign Policy magazine. Arguing that the challenge posed by hispanic immigration to the US will undermine "the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream," the chattering classes in the United States will be talking about this one for a while.

Continue reading this post over at Southern Exposure
Anarchists strike Mount Pleasant!
posted by mike d
Peruvian Chicken Unharmed

So on the stagger to work this morning, I noticed that anarchists had struck in MtP. First was the stencil spraypainted on the sidewalk reading: "Voting against him is not enough," alongside a crude stencil of what could only be George W Bush. Next, a block away was another stencil (this one red, not black like the first) proclaiming "No More Presidents" as if it were advertising the Fourth of July.

One wonders if we have a bunch of latter-day Charles J. Guiteaus on our hands...
Manhã de Carnaval
posted by mike d
(Luís Bonfá e Antônio Maria)

Manhã, tão bonita manhã
Na vida, uma nova canção
Cantando só teus olhos
Teu riso, tuas mãos
Pois há de haver um dia
Em que virás
Das cordas do meu violão
Que só teu amor procurou
Vem uma voz
Falar dos beijos perdidos
Nos lábios teus

Canta o meu coração
Alegria voltou
Tão feliz a manhã
Deste amor
23 February 2004
So Much for No Backlash
posted by mike d
From Tusday's Washington Post:
Republican officials said that, in a move that will thrill a group of voters whose enthusiasm will be crucial, Bush plans to speak out as soon as this week in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

This seems like poor politics to me. I mean, it's one thing to be against same-sex weddings. It's another to be so fanatically against them that you feel there needs to be a constitutional amendment against them. There's no constitutional amendment against murder, theft (except that by the government), addictive drug use, or other more serious "crimes". Why should there be one to prevent acknowledgement of relationships that even as conservative a man as Mr Bush acknowledges?

In fact, the only example of a constitutional amendment that I can think of that has a normative prescription on behavior is the Eighteenth Amendment, and we saw how well that turned out...
Supercalifragilisticexpialodocious and detente
posted by mike d
(Carnac the Magnificent: What are two words that have no meaning?)

So through the movements of serendipity, today saw two well-read (well, for blogs) blogs (Memefirst and Crooked Timber) predict the demise of certain segments of print media (short articles in popular literary magazines and niche political journals, respectively) to the primacy, speed, and flexibility of the vaunted weblog.

Like Mark Twain ( Hal Holbrook is still doing this! I saw him Saturday!), I think rumors of the death of literary journals are overrated. While subscriber levels may be declining (I don't have numbers, but I imagine along with newspapers they are), printing and publishing costs are no doubt declining as many of the previously-manual processes are automated. And Microsoft's ill-fated attempts at computer notebooks notwithstanding, the computer has yet to be able to replace the pleasure of sitting out on a Sunday afternoon, leafing through (say) the New Yorker.

And while blogs have speed on magazines, written pieces in magazines still have a lot more polish and depth on something tapped out over lunch. I think blogs will form just another rung in the working paper-conference lecture-professional magazine article-book ladder that most ideas work their way up...

However, to put the envelope up to my own head, I predict that as a result of this meme about blogs' roles in public discussion, in about a month's time one of the "major" magazines will have an article discussion the "blog revolution". (unless I've already missed said article, in which case, I'm vindicated!)

And I apologize for such self-aggrandizing blog-talk. It's Monday...

That Carnac the Magnificent page is priceless: "May the Shah of Iran seek refuge under your sister's hooped skirt." Truly America at it's finest...
This baah's for Ewe...
posted by mike d
As a public service to Örn, I'd like to pint out that Dave Barry, in declaring himself for the 2004 Presidential election, sends shockwaves through the artificial ovine markets:
Well, you can call me a man of deep moral principles if you want, but I happen to believe that even a presidential candidate is entitled to a 'zone of privacy' covering his political beliefs, criminal record, recreational use of household chemicals and Internet purchases of inflatable sheep.
US Investors Skittish on Brazil?
posted by mike d
Over the weekend both Marcelo and Cláudio put up interesting posts about how Argentina and Brazil have responsibility for their fiscal straits, in large part because of the failure of the political/economic elite to (as Marcelo put it) "act like a damn elite." While I agree with them, an article in today's Wall Street Journal gives creedence to the other side of the story.

Continue reading this post over at Southern Exposure
19 February 2004
Portrait of the General as an Old Diplomat
posted by mike d
Slate's Fred Kaplan has just published a piece assessing Powell's fall from grace. It's a good read in that it highlights the obvious and not-so-obvious steps that have led to Powell's sidelining in the administration.

Kaplan (or at least, the copy editor) asserts that Powell is a tragic character. But while there is a strong case made in terms of missed chances and failed attempts, there is no try at pointing to a tragic "flaw" behind this fall from grace. Especially for someone who should be well trained at bureaucratic infighting like Powell, his outflanking by Cheney and Rumsfeld begs to be explained.

I'm surprised Powell's role in the administration hasn't been discussed more. Back when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Desert Storm, surly conservative voices questioned Powell's worth, saying he had not risen through the ranks on ability, but rather was pushed through solely on some affirmative-action scheme. His handling of the first Iraq War put those questions to rest. However, it would seem that given the political disaster that is current US foreign policy, Powell's role in the whole situation should be seriously brought into question.

Obviously I'm not endorsing a line of thought that says Powell was promoted cuz he was black. He's very well qualified: everyone I've ever known who has worked under him says he's an excellent leader, and he's one of the best speakers I've ever seen- especially when speaking extemporaneously, he's amazing. It's just no one has answered why he isn't punching his weight in the boxing ring that is Washington bureaucracy.

Also, Kaplan assumes that Powell should be eyeing for a ticket position with either party in the future. My understanding is that in 1996 or 2000, the Republicans would have fallen over themselves to get Powell on the ticket (frankly the Dems should have acted likewise). Powell, however, has made it clear that he will not run out of consideration for his wife, Alma Powell*, who I understand (i.e., I'm passing on rumor here...) does not want to undergo the scrutiny, stress, and drama of a protracted campaign (a lá Dr Judith Steinberg Dean).

*fun fact: Alma Powell grew up in the same neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama, at about the same time as Condi Rice.
Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man
posted by mike d
I came around to this site through Brad Delong (who does an excellent job parsing economic policy issues). Near as I can tell, Teresa Nielsen Hayden (and her husband) are editors at Tor, a sci-fi publishing house here in the US. The whole post itself is worth a read, in that in a roundabout way she provides a way of looking at the "quality" of what people produce (be it writing, music, programming, etc). She even gives it an amusing 1-14 scale (I'm stuck at 10 - I hope...).

But what I found particularly amusing -in a large part cuz it kinda hits close to home- is her take on people whose comments form non-sequitirs in discussions:
Those of you who've hung out in Usenet newsgroups for any length of time will have seen the phenomenon of a tone-deaf poster exploding in fury and frustration because all he can tell is that he's somehow being left out of some part of the conversation, and that for no reason that he can see, his posts don't get the same reactions that other people's do.

The whole post makes for great lunchtime reading...
Brazil @ National Geographic Magazine
posted by mike d
National Geographic Magazine -on newstands in the US today- has an article on the mata atlântica, the subtropical rainforest that used to cover the east coast of Brazil, and spots of which can still be seen in downtown Rio de Janeiro:
The once vast Atlantic forest of Brazil survives only as a scattering of green islands in a sea of human sprawl. Now scientists have plans to save its remnants from the rising tide of development.
18 February 2004
The greatest marriage of TV generations since Matt LeBlanc did the "Lost in Space" movie...
posted by mike d
As a service to those of you who didn't catch it, I heard this on the radio this morning:
Sherman Hemsley of 'The Jeffersons' fame is lending his voice to the title character in Fox's updated version of 'Mister Ed.'

Hemsley joins David Alan Basche, who was previously to play Wilbur Post, and Sherilyn Fenn, tapped as Wilbur's wife. "Mister Ed" is a remake of the 1960s talking-horse sitcom in which the equine title character has an urban sensibility.

Sherilyn Fenn, is, of course of Twin Peaks fame. Twin Peaks being another one of those shows I've never seen...
The choice America has been waiting for
posted by mike d


So people who get paid to think this stuff think that it was too little, too late from Edwards yesterday (yes, this is penance for my mawkish post last night).

But there was an odd juxtaposition of American-style democracy that I think went overlooked last night, and has gone overlooked for every Tuesday primary so far. Last night more than ten times as many people (over 10 million, compered to 820,000) voted in the "primary" for American Idol (to select the top two from the eight to go onto the final rounds) than voted in the primary for American President (to select the top two from the eight to go onto the final rounds).

These numbers (or rather, these orders of magnitude) have been tracking for the duration of the Democratic and American Idol primaries. And while 100 million (give or take a few, right?) voted in the 2000 election -which is maybe twice those who voted last year for AI- I'd be interested to see how many people vote this time around, and how that compares to the season finale for AI.

In additon to these generally snarky comments, though, I think the election could benefit from one American Idol trend- having the candidate meet, a lot. Two times in October really isn't a good chance to see them present their policies, critique each other, and (most importantly) respond to those critiques. All these campaign appearances where candidates talk about whatever they want to talk about however they want to frame it is a bit of a waste of time to me...

And the Idol recap is priceless for the faux Television Without Pity feel they're trying for. Anything bylined "The Jaded Journalist" has to be the product of too much botox to the brain.

Fotos thanks to Fox.
17 February 2004
I coulda been a contender...
posted by mike d
So I just got home and saw the results from Wisconsin, where Edwards nearly bit Kerry in the ass, and, for a "regional" candidate outside of his reigon did really well. Can Edwards do it? Is he a contender? The solutions to these problems are left as an exercise to the reader...

For the record, I can't believe I just wrote that. I was at Tryst earlier today, and there must have been six people there, several of whom I'm sure were blogging- one of them had a damned Blogger sweatshirt on! (oh, one day, he'll get his...)

I have no doubt all of them are writing similar entries tonight, and feeling all smug and thinking about themselves as the next Josh Marshall for being able to inform the
hoi polloi from "inside the Beltway"; where they have their finger on the political pulse... yechh.
16 February 2004
iCan't Believe it...
posted by mike d
So totally ignoring my promises forty-five minutes ago, I just needed to post my ...shock and awe... that the iTunes Music Store -an otherwise impressive collection of music- has almost nothing by the Beatles. I was jonesin for an Abbey Road hit, and now all that I can do is hum "Oh! Darling" to myself (and if you've ever heard me sing, you know how much worse that is...)

I can't believe Steve Jobs hasn't succesfully used his reality distortion field on Messrs et Mdmes McCartney, Ono, Starkey, Mottola, and Jackson (although I suppose the last two are the ones that matter) to get them into the 21st Century...
You scruffy looking lot, over there...
posted by mike d
To both of you Europeans who swing by occasionally, you'll notice the complete lack of posting of late. Well, it's President's Day weekend (quick quiz: which presidents are we talking about here, and why this weekend? the answer is typically American and lame...), and house-cleaning (literal and metaphorical) and friend-visiting are all in order. Further, I'm off work tomorrow as well (interviewing to collect SAIS welfare), so I don't expect to get round the 'net till Wednesday. and I'm overdue to fine-tune SouEx, so I won't be my usual-lame-attempt-at-witty self.

(Although, Örn, if you want to post something instead of just periodically lurking on the site, you're more than welcome to- I'd in particular be interested in hearing you elaborate on your potentially inflammatory comments of last week.)

However, I saw this post over at Dan Drezner's site, and found the attached graph from the Economist surprising, if nothing else than for the amount of "developing world" resources that go into agricultural subsidies:

13 February 2004
O caso Staheli
posted by mike d
Stephen at Southern Exposure has followed the Staheli murder case thoroughly. But recently the case seemed to have petered out with no leads. So I was surprised to see an article in today's JB about the case, with some indications as to where the investigation was leading.

It no longer looks like a crime of passion (there was some speculation about a daughter's boyfriend, stress with teenagers kids, etc.)- instead, it seems to be related to Todd Staheli's work at Shell on the Brasil-Bolivia gas pipeline. The pipeline (which, as my old boss invariably liked to point out: "has been planned since 1936, but work on it was only started in 1996") I think has been a dissappointment for the players involved- Petrobras (as the lead investor) has been locked into what it considers an unfairly high price for the gas; and the Bolivian govt. (as the supplier -in part- of the gas) is dissappointed that Petrobras is buying so little. I'm not sure the role Shell has in the pipeline, but I would assume it's as a member of the consortium PB put together to buy the gas and distribute it to Brazil.

Additionally, there's some mysterious "American, with oriental characteristics" [sic] who according to the article bought a place behind the Stahelis in their gated community, never moved any furniture into the place (but still slept there), and then hasn't been seen at the place since the murders (possible explaination: it's summer- he's on vacation). Now his house is supposed to be on sale. Curiouser and curiouser...

My theory of the day (and this is pure speculation): Staheli, in charge of Shell's part of the gasoduto, decided it wasn't a money-making operation for Shell, and wanted them to pull out. Someone else in othe deal wanted Shell to stay in...
12 February 2004
Tech Notes, part deux...
posted by mike d
Following an email exchange today, I wanted to direct your attention away from the man behind the curtain, and towards the UT Austin Perry Castañeda Library Online Map Collection. It's a mouthful. It's also a great collection of maps, of just about every part of the world. In fact, the only place I can't easily find a map of there is Washington DC. Which probably reflects Texan attitude to Washington...

This explains why Örn's purse beeps every time he walks by the microwave...
posted by mike d
From Slashdot: "While reading this piece about designing 'experiences' in the Globe and Mail, I came across this interesting tidbit: If you're a frequent Prada shopper (and who on /. isn't?), the loyalty card in your wallet or purse contains a RFID tag that announces your arrival in the store. When you encounter a saleswoman, her handheld computer brings up your tastes, buying history, vital statistics and personalized suggestions from in-stock and coming inventory; the handhelds also place orders and book change rooms. Every item for sale bears an RFID tag. The RFID tags are courtesy of IDEO, and their website has a nice write-up of all the RFID-powered stuff at Prada, including the changeroom! I'm guessing this isn't coming to Wal*Mart's changerooms when they implement RFID. (Another write-up can be found here.)"
Crazy like a Fox...
posted by mike d
following up on my post Monday, the investigations into Vamos México are heating up... Now the Office of the President at Los Pinos (the prez residence in Mexico City) has been accused of providing public funds and employees to support Vamos México.

This changes the tenor of the accusations: previously, Sahagún was being charged with using Vamos México as a vehicle for a possible 2006 presidential run, instead of as a charity. Now Fox himself is being brought into the investigation, and instad of just being indirectly hurt by his wife's ambition (like Bill Clinton was hurt among conservatives by Hillary's ambition), his office is to be audited for the improper use of funds... which will be a direct hit to his political support.

as of yet, it's unclear why the Presidency is involved...

Here's a summary article from the AP in English
11 February 2004
Tech notes...
posted by mike d
Get Firefox So I try not to shill too much for products, especially not ones I'm not getting paid to shill for, but I thought it would be remiss not to mention Firefox to the three of you out there (Jim doesn't count- he uses my computer, so he's already using it) who read this thing. Based on the old Netscape code, Firefox is a free (as in beer) webrowser that:
  • is half the size of IE
  • is twice as fast (at least) as IE
  • blocks all ad pop-ups, but still allows new links to pop up in new windows, if you want
  • can allow you to brows on multiple tabs in the same program.
  • doesn't crash- either itself, or bringing your whole system down with it.
    It can be installed in less than a minute, and makes the internet that much more pleasant
  • Oscar Nominees
    posted by Örn
    Why do actors in Hollywood gain weight and put stupid plastic teeth in their mouths in order to look ugly when they are preparing for serious roles? Would it not be more simple to get British actors to do the roles?

    Anyway, Monster is a bad movie and gaining weight and using stupid fake teeth does not hide the absence of acting skills.
    Brazil to decriminalize drugs?
    posted by mike d
    According to the Jornal do Brasil, the Justice Committee of the lower chamber of Congress has moved to decriminalize possession:
    A Comissão de Constituição e Justiça da Câmara aprovou, há pouco, o projeto do deputado Paulo Pimenta (PT-RS) que extingue a pena de prisão para os usuários de drogas. Pela proposta, a pena atual de 6 meses a dois anos de detenção é substituído por uma advertência, prestação de serviços à comunidade e encaminhamento a programas educativos e de tratamento.

    The Constitution and Justice Commission of the Chamber [of Deputies] just approved the proposal of Dep. Paulo Pimenta (PT-RS) that would eliminate the prison sentence for drug users. According to the proposal, the current penalty of six months to two years of detention would be replaced by a warning, community service and "guidance" [I can't tell if this is mandatory] on treatment programs.

    This is interesting. The deputy is a member of the ruling Workers' Party, from a state the party is traditionally strong in. So I wouldn't initially dismiss this as some crackpot scheme that won't go anywhere. If this were to get approved and signed into law (it's too early to say what it's chances are, but it's not impossible), I imagine the dynamic between Washington and Brasília would get bad, quick.

    Popular foreign policy in the US views 99% of all (North)American issues with Latin America through the prism of the War on Drugs. If Lula's government were to approve this measure, the US would feel no incentive to work with the Brazilians on their (Brazilians) demands on the FTAA.

    Obviously there are lots of details still to be clarified- whether the government formally endorses the proposal, whether coalition partners will get on board, what drugs are covered, where the possession/intent to distribute line falls, etc. Still...

    This could be very interesting...
    Alexander Solzhenitsín
    posted by Örn
    I watched a little TV last night. There should really be some international law that bans US citizens from making documentaries about certain people.
    Kerry - In Rock
    posted by Örn
    Although John Kerry has a face that looks like it was carved out of Mt. Rushmore I, unlike most Europeans, do not believe that the current trends in American foreign policy would change much if he is elected president.

    It is likely that he would appear to the rest of the world as more of a cultivated leader than the current one. But appearance is one thing and policy is another.

    Washington’s reaction to the post 9/11 merely manifested the geopolitical trends that had been brewing during the nineties and were slowly and silently shaping its grand strategy for the forthcoming century – the reaction made those trends visible. And as the story unfolds it is becoming clear that new geopolitical realities are making it harder for the US and Europe to carry on the comfortable arrangement they had during the Cold War. This fact will not disappear with the election of a new president. But one thing is for certain. Europe’s political elite will find it more easy dealing with the lingo coming from a Kerry-administration that the current one. The understanding of the different geopolitical realities facing the US and Europe might increase in Europe with a democrat in the White House. But who cares - we got Deep Purple!

    And now for the quiz of the day: from which movie is this quote? “Ten years ago I wrote a short story about my mother. It was called the castrated Zionist.”

    10 February 2004
    Fox vs Braceros
    posted by mike d
    In addition to his wife's public travails, Mexico's Vincente Fox recently was recently caught out in an akward position: the braceros raised the stakes to get further attention to their cause.

    Continue reading Fox vsBraceros.
    Eff the Washington Post
    posted by mike d
    So disappointingly, but unsurprisingly, the WP now requires you to register with all sorts of invasive personal information (it's a good think I'm the CEO and a doctor with a major defense/aerospace company that employs over 10,000 people). All the jokes related to what they'll ask in the future were already covered; I just wanted to make fun of their registration slogan:

    "Register Now. It's free and it's required."

    Yay! mandatory fun!
    09 February 2004
    Doña Marta
    posted by mike d
    Being distracted with housekeeping, both online and off, I haven't had a chance to keep as close tabs on events in Mexico as I would like to. But there's been a lot going on: investigations into a charity headed by the First Lady, a land invasion of the President's ranch, and a much-ballyhooed convention on fiscal reform. Ladies First:

    Vamos México The evolution of Marta Sahagún de Fox, from succesful campaign manager, to mediocre presidential spokeswoman, to active presidential wife has been fascinating, especially in a country as socially conservative as Mexico.

    The most recent chapter in Marta Sahagún's career began last week when the Financial Times reported that Vamos México, the charitable foundation Sahagún heads, had only given one-third of all the money it had raised to other charities. With another third of that money spent on overhead, that left 50m pesos in donations unspent and unaccounted for.

    The FT article (sorry- it's a subscription link now, and I don't have a subscription!) implied that some of the unaccounted for valuables were jewelry and clothes that Ms Sahagún may have worn in the 15 months the foundation has been open. The FT also suggests that business contributions (such as a $2m contribution by the largest shareholder in the bankrupt Estrella Blanca bus company) may have been motivated to buy political influence with the administration.

    Needless to say, Sahagún has denied the accusations, pointing out that charities often need large endowments to succesfully operate. Over the weekend the PRI caucus in the Senate recommended that the Hacienda (Treasury) and the SFP (an anti-corruption watchdog set up by Fox) investigate Vamos México's finances.

    As a side note: in many ways this is all kabuki theater in preparation for 2006, in which Sahagún is being discussed as a candidate to succeed her husband, the current President Fox. Given that she has never held elected office, that Fox is currently conisdered a weak president, and consequently the PAN is in many ways on the defensive, at this point I'd call her a long shot.

    However, the left-wing La Jornada made an interesting suggestion last week: the fight for the second most powerful position in Mexico -mayor of Mexico City- could be contested between three women in 2006. Those women are: Sahagún for the PAN, Rosario Robles Berlaga -former acting Mayor after Cuautehmoc Cardenas resigned to run in 2000- for the PRD, and Sen. María Moreno Uriegas for the PRI.

    This has also been posted to Southern Exposure.
    Drop in the dollar
    posted by Jim
    This week, The Economist features an article on the recent depreciation of the dollar, and goes as far as saying the dollar has not dropped far enough. Hasn't dropped far enough AGAINST WHAT? The pound is the most overvalued currency in the world right now, so certainly we can't have the dollar pushing much more than the current $1.90.

    The fall against the Euro has been wonderful for the US economy, but how much longer can the ECB stand idly by? Given their previous penchant for inaction, quite a lot, me thinks. I really think the Euro was introduced to be at 1:1 parity with the dollar, but that looks years off now. Also, ask Örn to tell you an interesting story about Condi Rice, coffee, and the Euro.

    Has anyone watched Austin Powers 3 lately? I hate to admit it, but I saw the thing this weekend and the things freaking brilliant. Favorite line (from Michael Caine, of course): "They are only two things in the world I can't stand. One -- people who are intolerant of other cultures; and the Dutch!"
    Books and Fish
    posted by Örn
    It was raining outside so decided to order books from Amazon. I got Paradox of American Power, which is written by that idiot that runs the Kennedy school at Harvard. I also got that new Perle/Frum thingie, along with Ferguson´s Empie, Mandlebaum´s laters (I have read it but I want to own it), The Mind and the Market and The Future of Freedom. I guess I will have to wait for a week or two for the books. So I guess I will continue to read about the Byzantine empire.

    After I ordered the books I crossed the street to visit my fishmonger. I got "Plokkfisk". It used to be considered a dish for the poor and the filthy but in recent years people have discovered that it is dēlicātus.

    Now I am just waiting for the woman to show up so I can start making dinner.

    posted by mike d
    They're raising the Graf Spee...

    (ok, so it's just the telemetry reader... but, still...)
    Haiti on the brink?
    posted by mike d
    One of the limitations to my view (and I think the view of lots of others) of Latin America is that I only look at the region through the prisms of English, Portuguese, and Spanish. So I haven't been paying attention to the situation in Haiti.

    Continue reading Haiti on the brink?...
    05 February 2004
    I'll take those odds...
    posted by mike d
    Actually, according to this paper, the odds are roughly better than 1 in 150 (if you ignore the Americas) that Oliver Kahn is related to Genghis Kahn:
    "LOS ANGELES, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A new population genetics study may have identified history's greatest lover, at least as measured in millions of descendants in his direct male line.
    This individual man's Y-chromosome is today found in an estimated 16 million of his male line progeny in a vast swath of Asia from Manchuria near the Sea of Japan to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in Central Asia. That's one of every 200 males on Earth today.
    "Within the last 1,000 years in this part of the world, these conditions are met by Genghis Khan (c. 1162-1227) and his male relatives. He established the largest land empire in history and often slaughtered the conquered populations, and he and his close male relatives had many children."

    [UPDATE] Much to my surprise, some people have started taking that 150:1 number seriously. I pulled that number out of a hat- if you knew how I did in math & statistics in school, you'd know that his horoscope would be a better predictor of Oliver Kahn's origins:

    You are, in many ways, an eternal child. Your mind is bright, alert, curious, flexible, playful, and always eager for new experiences - and your attention span is often quite brief...
    One thing that should be clear
    posted by Örn
    Oliver Kahn, the goalkeeper for Bayern München, is not at all related to Gengis Kahn.
    Still outswimming sharks
    posted by Örn
    Yes, it is true! The boy who outswam a shark is back. But I am to busy to write anything right now because I am writing a script. It is called "The Thailander" and it is about a Thai insurance salesman that cannot die.
    I want to be... Annie Key
    posted by mike d
    A six-year-old's response to being introduced to The Doors'"Touch Me": "Is this Beethoven?"
    The Wind Howls on the North Atlantic
    posted by mike d
    One of the unstated goals of this blog (as opposed to the stated ones, such as undermining the Greco-Bolivian Alliance) is to look at issues that affect both sides of the Atlantic (in addition to my rambling on issues on both sides of the Caribbean). But, this is common to the point of being gauche.

    I think we may be one of the first sites, however, to provide a "neutral" voice, from the middle of the Atlantic.

    In what will no doubt simultaneously raise and lower the quality of discourse on this site, Örn the mad Icelandic bomber has come aboard. A man who describes his times of reflection as "Vodka, Nick Cave, and reading the Old Testament or Hayek," he will -if nothing else- provide fuel for the anti-"New" Europe bonfire raging in the hearts of American neo-Cons.
    Borges on the Right
    posted by mike d
    Searching for something totally different, I came across this a great article from 1977 on how Jorge Luis Borges, supporter of the Spanish Republic in the 1930s, became a source of legitimacy for the Argentine dictatorship ("El Proceso") in '76:
    Borges objected to Peron's fascistic policies and in particular to his support of Nazi Germany. When Peron became President, he demoted Borges from his post as municipal librarian to the rank of poultry inspector. He even imprisoned the writer's mother and sister. While Peron remained in office, after the coup which deposed him, and during all the intervening years, Borges's opposition never diminished. When the Peronists were again elected in 1973, he called it a 'government of scoundrels.' In an interview with a Brazilian newspaper in 1975 he said: 'When I think of the cases of torture [in Argentina] I have the impression that my country.is disintegrating morally as well as economically.' In March 1976, when a friend informed him that Isabela Peron had been overthrown, Borges embraced him and wept. When he met Videla, he thanked him for 'having liberated the country from the infamy which we bore.'

    I've noticed, but never really explored, the weight literary figures (and artists generally) have in Latin American politics. Gilberto Gil, rock superstar, is the Brazilian Minister of Culture. In Brazil, Jorge Amado and Oscar Niemeyer were prominent members of the Communist Party at midcentury. In Perú, Mario Vargas Llosa lost the 1990 presidential election to Fujimori (imagine how diffirent the country would be today if he had won as expected) after a public shift from the political left to right in the early 80s. And in Colombia, Gabriel García Márquez runs a prominent magazine (internationally, his support for Castro has given the old Cuban a lot of mileage, too).

    Yet when I think about the English-speaking world, artists don't seem to have as much influence ("artists" such as Arnold and Jesse "the Body" Ventura aside). In fact, the only person off the top of my head I can think of to make his name both as a writer and as a politician is Jeffrey Archer in the UK, and, well, we saw how he turned out...
    04 February 2004
    SouEx v2.1?
    posted by mike d
    For the four* of you that regularly read this site, you'll notice the recent lack of posting. I've been bootstrapping myself into MT to work on refining the Southern Exposure site. It's finally (more-or-less) done, so please go check out Southern Exposure and join in the discussion.

    *I'm being charitable...
    03 February 2004
    The Midwest is suddenly cool again
    posted by mike d
    Gene Weingarten, the literary man's Dave Barry, just had a revelation in his weekly chat:

    Britney Spears is an anagram for Presbyterians.

    That'll make you a believer in conspiracy theories...
    02 February 2004
    Two's company, three's a crowd...
    posted by mike d
    Over ice cold Olde English 800 and King Cobra (how all good decisions are made), promises were made last night to bring a third bold-yet-smooth voice in here. Details to follow...
    Kindness after criticism...
    posted by mike d
    The tittlelation (*rimshot*) over JT's defrocking (*rimshot*) of Janet Jackson last night during the Super Bowl is well covered (*rimshot*) elsewhere, but I just wanted to point out that the foto editor showed up sober this morning after the game over at the Washington Post. After slagging him off earlier, mad props for the following caption to the family friendly picture of the action in the Post:
    Janet Jackson slams the door after Justin Timberlake had let the horse out of the barn.


    The accompanying article to that foto is one of Tom Shale's usual diatribes about how TV has done nothing but go downhill since the days of Red Skelton. Much better is Lisa de Moraes' assessment: " CBS really needs to swear off the Jackson family."

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    Jim's been cranky because what he writes gets drowned out by Mike's logorrheic flood. So if you're looking for the pearls amongst the swine, read:
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