Monday, July 21, 2014

Tragedy Competition!

It’s like there’s a race on to decide which tragedy is more horrific:

A Russian missile knocks a passenger airliner out of the sky.

Deaths and injuries mount in Gaza as Israeli ground and air forces continue their offensive.

The Islamic crazies in the newest Caliphate escalate their atrocities against non-believers.
Boko Haram continues to kill, maim and kidnap.

Children trying to escape poverty and violence in Central America are locked up, turned back and/or otherwise mistreated at our border.

Suicide bombers in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and more are responsible for more indiscriminate killing.

Millions of Syrians are refugees or displaced and the number grows daily.

I could go on, but that’s enough for today.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Bastille Day!

Frenchmen who were willing to start a revolution to get rid of the monarchy stormed the Bastille 225 years ago today.  I think it’s interesting that on that July 14 the medieval fortress and prison known as the Bastille, which was the symbol of royal authority, only contained seven inmates.  No matter.  The Revolution was on.

On this July 14 we are in the middle of multiple revolutions.  There are many Bastilles to storm and thousands of revolutionaries around the world are on the march.  Hatred and dissatisfaction are the fuel.  Our revolutions take many different forms.  Some are classic battles with arms, atrocities and deaths.  Others are more subtle.

Close to home we have a relatively peaceful revolution in process.  It is fueled by dissatisfaction with a dysfunctional political system and a growing number of have-nots.  There is not yet a critical mass that will overthrow the system, but it will happen if the dysfunction continues and income inequality continues to expand.

Overseas, dissatisfaction and hatred have combined to form a toxic mix everywhere we look.  In the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia.  Much of the hatred stems from religious bigotry: Jews and Arabs; Buddhists and Muslims; Christians and Muslims; Sunnis and Shias; and more.  Add in autocratic, repressive regimes and the revolutions multiply.

All this is not inevitable.  It doesn’t have to happen.  But to turn around this tide of lethal unrest would require people to change their ways.  History gives little hope that this will happen.  More likely we will succumb to the old adage: If we don’t change the direction we’re going we’re likely to get where we are headed.

Happy Bastille Day!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Test

Testing for iPad use

Sunday, July 06, 2014

World Cup!

What I’d like to happen:

Brazil beats Germany
Argentine beats The Netherlands

Argentina beats Brazil in the Final

What I think will happen:

Germany beats Brazil
The Netherlands beats Argentina

Germany beats The Netherlands in the Final

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Change of Pace!

It’s a quiet 4th of July weekend, a good time to reflect on what’s right rather than what’s wrong.

There’s a lot wrong with this good old country of ours, now 238 years old, but there’s also a lot right.  Arguably, still the best place on earth to live.  It’s easy to take our freedom for granted, and the spirit that has motivated us.  So this is a good time to remember our blessings and be thankful for them.

The bad guys get the headlines.  But there are many good guys who labor without fanfare.  Good guys who save lives, help their neighbors, give their time and talent for the greater good, expecting nothing in return.  So this is a good time to remember and honor them.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.  The mother who puts the well-being of her children before her own – every day.  The kid who goes out of his way to make the new kid in class feel welcome.  The nurse in a V.A. hospital who doesn’t let the inadequacies of the system prevent her from taking good care of her patients.  The parents who love and support their child whose sexual orientation is different than they expected.  Heroes all.  So this is a good time to remember and acknowledge them.

If we stop to take a look, we’ll see that we are surrounded by beauty.  The sunshine on this summer day.  The flowers that weren’t there last week.   The blue sky.  Two young people in love who walk past us totally unaware that we or anything else exists.  An elderly couple holding hands.  So this is a good time to remember the beauty, the gift, of living.

Have a great day!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Enemy of My Enemy, etc.!

Let’s see if I’ve got this right:

We would like to see Assad out in Syria.  But then when he bombs ISIS (who we don’t like) in Iraq it looks like a good thing?

We don’t want to see Iran expand its influence in Iraq.  But then when the Quds commander visits Baghdad for the purpose of providing support from Iran to Iraq it looks like a good thing?

After three years of being unable to sort out the good rebels from the bad rebels in Syria we’ve decided to give $500 million to the good rebels (whoever they are) and that looks like a good thing?

The Iranians (bad guys) have been supplying arms to Assad (bad guy) through Iraq (good guys?)  Now that ISIS (bad guys) control the Iraq/Syria border does that help or hurt the good/bad guys?

We would like to keep Iraq in one piece.  The ISIS Sunnis (bad guys) already control the north and west of the country.  Other Sunnis (anti-ISIS good guys) are opposed to the current al Maliki (bad guy) government.  Kurds (good guys) want their own government.  Shias, the majority, are divided with Shia militias (bad guys) more powerful than Shia army (good guys) and a lot of Shias just want to be left alone.

If Kurds (good guys) get their own government it will upset countries with Kurdish minorities like Turkey (good guys) and Iran (bad guys) as well as Iraq.

I hope this clarifies the situation. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Observations!

The World Cup is going well.  Some surprises, like Costa Rica.  Some disappointments, like Spain.  Some predictable failures, like England.  And some really good games.  Unless you’re a Yankee-hater, Portugal’s last minute goal against the U.S. yesterday was a dagger in the heart.  But with the tiebreaker in play, it is still likely that we will go through to the next round.

Iraq continues to go down the toilet.  To repeat what I’ve already said – for the U.S. there are no good options.  History will be the ultimate decider.

Would I like to see another establishment Republican incumbent, this time Thad Cochran, go down at the hands of a Tea Party renegade?  On the one hand, yes.  It will throw more fuel on the civil war within the Republican Party.  On the other hand, no.  It will likely put yet another crazy in the U.S. Senate.

I notice in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that 7% of Americans have confidence in Congress.  I think they’ve stuffed the ballot box.  7% seems awfully high.

I just finished reading “Narcopolis,” short listed for the Booker Prize in 2012.  Too much drug-addled stream of consciousness for me.  Why are Booker Prize nominees so often weird and hard to follow?

San Francisco is out of the running for the next America’s Cup.  Fine.  Let it go to San Diego or Chicago or Bermuda.  From a sailing and scenic point of view, no location beats San Francisco Bay.  From a financial point of view, no way as a taxpayer do I want to cover Larry Ellison’s shortfall.  So good riddance.

I’ve been a critic of the California Legislature forever.  But gotta give credit where it is due.  They got a decent budget passed on time and the Governor signed it.  Given how it has been in the past, this qualifies as a genuine breakthrough.