Sunday, September 07, 2014

Piling On!

A cottage industry is defined as a small and often informally organized activity.  Criticizing Obama has become a cottage industry on steroids.  It may still be informally organized but it’s certainly not small.  Maureen Dowd is obsessed with it.  Fox News is on it 24/7.  The think tankers have jumped in.  Politicians on all sides have added their infinite wisdom.

Tom Friedman is the only voice in the crowd who consistently stands apart from the sound and fury and takes a reasoned, sensible approach when analyzing what’s going on in the world.  He points out how complicated it all is and argues for calm, long-term thinking.  He is not an Obama apologist, but he is sympathetic to the argument that there are no easy solutions and precipitate action in the name of ‘do something’ is dangerous foolishness, not leadership.

I can find plenty of reasons to criticize Obama as President, both at home and abroad.  Certainly he has not communicated with the American people in a way that they can resonate with his thinking.  But much of the anti-Obama rhetoric is driven by spoken and unspoken political expediency, American exceptionalism, ideology and racism.  No way can he win with that crowd, so I make a distinction between justified and unjustified criticism.

Like it or not, and too many Americans don’t like it, America can’t control the world.  Too bad for us, but that’s the way it is.  This will be more obvious as the 21st century continues to unfold.  The anti-Obama mantra is that he wants to win by ‘leading from behind,’ and that isn’t the American way.  Our job has always been to lead from in front.  What too many people fail to recognize is that it is fruitless to yearn for a return to past glories, to want it to be the way it has always been.  This is, indeed, a new day.  Our wisest course is to see the world the way it is before it is too late.

Piling on Obama isn’t going to make this happen.

I'll be traveling for the next four weeks and may not be posting regularly.

Monday, September 01, 2014

What I've Learned Recently!

Some things I’ve learned recently:

There are no trashcans at Burning Man.  Those who attend clean up after themselves – and apparently do a great job of it.

Tens of thousands of (mostly) young people attend events to watch gamers play against each other.

A related item:  Colleges are beginning to award athletic-type scholarships to top-of-the-line gamers.

Medicare costs are going down, not up.

How huge underground caves are created.  (Look it up if you’re interested)

That the Roman Empire and the Han Empire in China were at their peak at the same time (200 BCE to 200 AD) and were similar in many ways even though they were barely aware that the other existed.

The older you get the more happiness you get from ordinary experiences rather than extraordinary ones.  (I probably would have guessed this was so, but never thought about it.)

College football as big business is not a new phenomenon.  It was rampant 100 years ago.

When to eat sushi with and without chopsticks and when to dip it in soy sauce.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Islamic State!

I strongly suggest you watch “The Islamic State,” a 45-minute film produced by VICE News.  It is available on You Tube.  It shows what ISIS looks like from the inside.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Whack-a-Mole World!

We bounce from one disaster/war/horror to another in an endless cycle.  Just pick a starting place, any one will do:

From Ebola in Africa to
Rockets from Gaza in Israel to
Bombing of Gaza by Israel to
Police shooting of boy in Ferguson to
Chokehold death on Staten Island to
War in Syria to
War in Ukraine to
War in Iraq to
Chinese incursions in the South China Sea to
Violent demonstrations in Pakistan to
Violent demonstrations in Missouri to
Family violence in California to
Suicide bombing in Afghanistan to
Rape in India to
Earthquakes in China to
Mudslides in Nepal to
Insider trading on Wall Street to
Influence peddling in Washington to
Ebola in Africa . . .

A Whack-a-Mole World!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Footie!

The football season begins Saturday.  No, not the NFL, the real footie season, beginning with the English Premier League and then moving on to Spain, Italy and the rest later this month.

I think Real Madrid will be dominant in Spain.  They’ve just got too much talent.  I read that the team they played in the Super Cup this week (which won 2-0 against Sevilla) represented $650 million in transfer fees.  Spending a lot of money doesn’t guarantee success, but it does give you a leg up on the competition.  I hope Barcelona surprises me and wins, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

I’m not sure about Italy.  Can Juventus win its 4th Scudetto in a row?  I hope so but doubt it.  I think the other big teams have strengthened themselves and will be serious challengers.

In Germany it’ll be Bayern Munich again.  And PSG in France.

It should be a good season in England.  Manchester United will rebound strongly.  Chelsea will be in contention.  Manchester City will be good, but not good enough to win the title.  Arsenal the same – good but not good enough.  I don’t have a good feeling about Liverpool.  I’d like them to win, but without Suarez they are missing a dominant player.  Tottenham?  I don’t think so.  Everton?  Maybe in the top six but probably not.  So I’m left with Man U and Chelsea as the most likely winners. 

With more and more TV coverage of European football it will be a good season for the growing American audience.  I’m looking forward to it.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Oddities!

With thanks to today’s Wall Street Journal Review:

2013 Ig Nobel Prizes for improbable research include the following:
  
Scientific confirmation that the more alcohol you consume the more attractive you think you are.

Proof that some people can run across the surface of a pond, but only on the moon.

A finding that there is an overabundance of dandruff in the Pakistan army.

Accurate predictions about how soon a cow will stand up after lying down.

Demonstrating why sawing horizontally is easier than cutting straight down.

Evidence that male chess players choose riskier strategies when playing against attractive female opponents even though they know it does not improve their performance.

Wearing socks over shoes reduces the likelihood of slipping on ice.

A new study summarizes 35 years of measuring how fast fingernails grow.

Your ears continue growing throughout your life.

It’s not true that you can get drunk by soaking your feet in alcohol.