Monday, May 23, 2011

The Morning Blog

Peek-a-boo! This would explain why the news out of North Korea has been uncharacteristically sedate of late. I can't help but wonder what sort of protocols come into play when you're hosting a world leader who's so...eccentric. I think of Van Halen demanding that there be no brown M & Ms in their dressing room and can only wonder what sort of things Kim Jong Il might insist on. I'm sure it's not completely over the top though.

More on Obama's proposal for Israeli and Palestinian peace here. What's striking about it frankly, is that it's basically the same proposal that's been pushed by the United States (and advocated as well under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert), since the Clinton administration. There's nothing remotely radical about it, save that it's being discussed openly rather than behind closed doors. And clearly, if we're going to keep defending Israel in the UN, they need to work with us:

“He basically said, ‘I can continue defending you to the hilt, but if you give me nothing to work with, even America can’t save you,’ ” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and a fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.

At least nobody's getting trapped in their embassy yet.

An Arab Spring whose time has definitely come:

There is this odd view of women in the kingdom as being always on the cusp of dissolute behaviour – reminiscent of an attitude towards slaves who would rebel and murder their owners if not kept perpetually oppressed. This is a ghastly spiral, where the worse the victim is treated, the worse they are likely to be pre-emptively repressed. When arguing against allowing women to uncover their heads or faces in public, some (men and women) respond that if that if this were to pass, women would surely walk around in semi-nudity.

It doesn't occur to these people that public codes of dress do not exist in most other Arab countries, and women still manage to dress in a culturally appropriate way. Women are allowed to drive throughout the conservative Arabian Gulf, and these societies have not imploded in moral degradation.

2012 Watch: Run away Mitch! Run away! Daniels is out of the race. Honestly, the way things are going I don't think that the question is whether or not the Republicans will be able to field a candidate that can compete against Obama. Rather, I think the question is whether or not the Republicans will be able to field a candidate at all.

At any rate, I'm pretty sure it most definitely won't be this person.

Whoever ends up in charge, here's a bit of fat that can be cut from the budget. To begin with, I can't think of any reason why the Post Office isn't privatized. The fact that tax money is paying their lawyers to fight against a Burger King ad is just insane.

Your Daily Wow: You are very, very tiny. Thanks to the always awesome Girlfriend for that bit of wonderment.

Nice initiative from the Los Angeles police: Two detectives are interviewing people that were involved in standoffs to determine what could be done to better defuse the tension. I would argue that a militarized SWAT response should always be the last resort and probably only used in hostage situations. Otherwise, I can't help but think that they only escalate the situation immensely. The last I checked, 4.5 SWAT raids were being conducted daily in the United States. If that's not overkill, I don't know what is.

Well, mandatory minimums for one. Those are definitely overkill. The idea that judges can't use their discretion in sentencing is patently absurd to me. Determining what constitutes a just sentence seems to be part of their job description, no?

Getting rid of it certainly might help alleviate prison overcrowding at any rate. The Supreme Court just ruled that due to overcrowding, conditions in California prisons are inhumane and unconstitutional.

Wikipedia is lobbying to get a place on Unesco's World Heritage List. I think it makes total sense. If the Library of Alexandria was still around, we would definitely take steps to preserve it. Though Wikipedia certainly doesn't need any protection, it's hard to argue that it doesn't represent a massive accumulation of human knowledge. Might some of that knowledge be faulty? Most certainly. But hey, Herodotus claimed in his "Histories" that storks in Egypt kept the world from being overrun by flying snakes. We give him some leeway and I think something as significant as Wikipedia deserves the same.

I suppose it's obligatory since I'm a Pittsburgher and loyal Steelers fan... Vote for Hines Ward on Dancing With the Stars. Because who else would you vote for? Kirstie Alley? Please.

Simply terrible. Times like these make me glad to live in Pittsburgh. Our hills make tornadoes extremely unlikely.

Here's another disaster. I believe Iceland's major exports are dried herring and ash. On a personal note, my father and his family are visiting my sister in London. I certainly hope this doesn't mess up their flight plans. It looks pretty bad to say the least.

An excellent reason to not want to be famous is that sooner or later, someone's going to make a crappy statue of you. Yeeesh...I have to say though, even if they did decide to portray the pope as a phone booth, I've seen worse. I think you need to do a free registration for that last link but it's for Foreign Policy magazine so it's well worth it.

A Personal Aside: Does it depress anyone else to think that in about 10 years, give or take, kids won't have the slightest idea what I'm talking about when I say 'phone booth'? Superman won't make any sense at all.

As if we didn't have enough to worry about: Not only do we have to stay up nights worrying about the apes taking over or failing that, evil robots running the show but now we have to keep a wary eye on the octopus?

Well, the world didn't end on Saturday. But maybe history already has. A good interview with one of my favorite thinkers, Francis Fukuyama is available here.

Mick Jagger is launching a new band. It sounds like a bit of a weird mash-up to be honest but that's what you get when you put something together with Bob Marley's youngest son and an Indian film composer. I'll remain cautiously optimistic. With luck, it won't be another "Chinese Democracy".

In the event you have a Bat Cave (and who doesn't?), here's a guy that can hook you up.

Hoisting a pint with O'Bama. I like to think that a proper, drunken bar brawl broke out immediately afterwards. Tsk! Seems to have led to a bit of awkward driving at any rate.

I only hope that whoever bought this freakish bonnet can blame it on the Guinness as well.

Wait...what? NASA has undercover agents? Huh. I guess there really are 'men in black'.

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