Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Rise of ISIS!

This week the PBS program Frontline aired a show titled "The Rise of ISIS."  It is a MUST SEE for anyone interested in what's going on in the world.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Thoughts for Today!

Halloween is still three days away, but as we await Game 6 tonight, Giants fans are haunted by the specter of Game 6 in 2002.  With a 3-2 lead in games over the Angels and a 5-0 lead in the 7th inning, we blew that Game 6 and lost Game 7.  A horror show of the first magnitude not to be repeated in Kansas City – please.  Go Giants!

Ebola confusion abounds in the land.  It typifies the state of governance with which we are afflicted these days.  Individual states are deciding on their own how to handle real or perceived threats.  The Feds are sending out conflicting messages.  The CDC is proving to be incompetent.  And of course for many people Obama is to blame for this and all other viruses.

I’m pleased and not surprised that the tax breaks San Francisco gave in 2011 to Twitter and other businesses willing to locate in the perennially rundown mid-Market Street area are paying off – big time.  More taxes being collected.  And a now unstoppable turnaround in that part of town – with housing, restaurants, stores large and small, etc.  For decades the experts had come up with good ideas that went nowhere.  Finally, common sense prevailed.

I read today that Israel stuck another finger in the eye of world opinion by announcing yet another housing settlement to be constructed in East Jerusalem.  Another unnecessary provocation.  Common sense does not prevail with these guys.  And the US response?  A mild “tut, tut, you boys are being naughty again, tut, tut.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Good News!

In a policy change, Turkey will now allow Kurds to cross its border to support fellow Kurds fighting ISIS in Syria.

Nigeria declares itself Ebola-free.

Since 2006 worldwide malaria deaths have dropped by 40%.

Finally, political candidates are targeting voters concerned about energy and climate change.

OPEC no longer has the power to dictate oil prices and production.

A new study shows that drinking coffee protects the liver.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation, a new cultural center and art museum designed by Frank Gehry, is a hit in Paris.

The market made big gains today.

The World Series begins tonight, and the Giants are in it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Competition!

An unfair competition for people’s attention is underway in the media:

All consuming:  Every last detail having to do with the three Ebola cases in the U.S.
Eliciting a yawn:  The thousands of people dying in Africa.

All consuming:  Every last detail about NFL players being arrested/accused of something.
Eliciting a yawn:  The NFL culture that spawns such behavior.

All consuming:  Whether the Democrats will retain control of the Senate.
Eliciting a yawn:  The midterm elections in general.

All consuming (at least in California):  The drought in California.
Eliciting a yawn:  The environmental reality behind it all.

All consuming:  The daily ups and downs of the stock market.
Eliciting a yawn:  The overall state of the economy.

All consuming:  The latest ISIS beheading.
Eliciting a yawn:  The societal pathology that is the breeding ground for ISIS.

All consuming:  The scandal du jour, be it political, celebrity, business, etc.
Eliciting a yawn:  Good works being done quietly by well known people. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Go Giants!

Again, the Giants are defying the smart money, odds makers and who’s best on paper.  Like they say, the game is played on the field, not on paper, so we should know better.  A repeat of 2010 and 2012?  Possible.  But whatever happens, they’ve done themselves and the city of San Francisco proud.  Go Giants!

On the subject of sports, a different kind of example in Turin last Sunday when Juventus hosted Roma in a Serie A clash to determine who would stay undefeated and stay on top in Italy.  I was traveling when the game was played, so I watched a rerun the other day.  These were two very good teams who played a mean-spirited, ugly game.  Why?  The referee lost control of the game early and never regained it.

Gianluca Rocchi is supposed to be one of Italy’s best.  Didn’t look like it Sunday.  Three questionable penalties given.  Allowing players to go too far and then waving yellow card after yellow card in a futile attempt to impose order.  Finally, tossing two players out with red cards.  A beautiful strike near the end by Bonucci which gave Juve a 3-2 victory was overshadowed by Rocchi’s incompetence and petulance by players on both sides. 

It could have been a hard-fought, aggressive display of excellence on the pitch.  It wasn’t.  It was ugly.  Shame on everyone involved.


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Ludicrous!

Ludicrous is defined as “something so foolish or unreasonable or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous.”

It is ludicrous to think that had the US intervened in a limited way in Syria a few years ago it would have made a difference.  One, compared to Assad and the Sunni extremists like Al Nusra there were few good guys to align with.  Two, we weren’t sure who those good guys were.

It is ludicrous to think that a few Americans combined with bombing will be enough to turn the tide in Iraq.  We were there for years, trained their army, spent billions of dollars and lost thousands of lives, and when we left they didn’t have the ability or the will to deal with their own problems.  Nothing we do now will change the basic equation: they need to own their situation.

It is ludicrous to think that Afghanistan is going to turn into a democratic country.  Those who say it is a mistake to pull out and if only we’d keep a presence there then everything would turn out OK are forgetting history and common sense.  Accept it, guys.  We can’t fix it.

It is ludicrous to think that if only America was a more aggressive leader on the world stage other countries would respect us more and therefore pay more attention to what we want.  If there is an overlap of self-interest then we can have a productive partnership.  If there isn’t, forget it.

I was in Sicily recently.  It is just as ludicrous to think that Antonio, the Mafioso down at the end of road, will change his localized world view and become a global citizen as it is to think that the United States of America is living in a world in which we can have our way.  That’s a ludicrous pipe dream, true maybe back in the middle of the 20th century, but a ludicrous fantasy today.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The More Things Change, etc.

I've been traveling for the past two weeks, in touch with the world, but not focused on it.  So what's new?  Not much I'm not surprised to say.  I've seen this phenomenon before.

Go away for a while.  Take your attention off day to day happenings and when you return to catch up you find there's really not much to catch up on.  Trouble spots around the world are the same.  The same people are killing the same people.  Problems at home that we're intractable are still stuck in neutral or have become worse.  So welcome to the way it is.