Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Great Scott" McClellan

So a Bush insider finally spills the beans on these guys...the blatant marketing of the war, the use of a national tragedy for despicable political ends, the secrecy, the crushing of the Wilsons for blowing the story....all revealed from someone deep inside the Bush circle. What George Bush and Dick Cheney have done to our country is unconscionable. They can no longer dismiss Scott McClellan with the casual "disgruntled employee" approach they took when Richard A Clarke and Paul O Neill both wrote their tell all books. This is serious stuff and will have an impact in Novemeber.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Al Qaeda waning

This week CIA chief Michael Hayden made headlines with his statement that support for AlQaeda in Iraq was waning...while this is fantastic news for our troops in Iraq from a long term threat perspective this is a red herring. The guys that have the ability to hit the US homeland are not Al Qaeda in Iraq but the Al Qaeda in Pakistan. These bad boys have prospered under Bush' misguided policy for the last 5 years. OBL is still alive and so is Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Who knows how many thousands of jihadis have been created to join forces with these people against the United States and the western way of life we stand for. Only time will tell

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Some thoughts on the IPL

If Test Cricket is a Kurosawa, Bergman or Satyajit Ray movie with deep plots, complex characters and sometimes tragic endings and if ODIs are more Jerry Bruckheimer or Scorsese then the IPL 20/20 format of the game is pure "dishoom-dishoom" Bollywood.

It is a spectacle engineered to be entertainment with the sad result of not actually being entertaining….at least "not entertaining to me"

Those of us who grew up watching and playing a game where clunk of bat on ball was rewarded with a smattering of applause as it crossed the boundary line and the opposition slip fielders saying "nice shot old boy" are in for something of a shock.

IPL is NBA meets Rio Carnival…..every shot is celebrated in a similar manner to the citizens of Ayodhya cheering Rama's return with Sita from Lanka. There is a mad euphoric quality about the whole deal. Firecrackers go off, people break into unbelieveable merriment for any edge through the slips that goes for four. There is no strategy other than to hoick the ball around.

If the ODI version killed the outswinger then I can safely say that the 20/20 version of the game has killed every other ball except - short of good length on off and middle and slightly leaving the batsman. Any other trajectory is pretty much hit (or attempted to be hit) to the boundary. This version has effectively also killed the maiden over. (In fact I recommend a rule change that if a bowler bowls a maiden his team should get an extra 5 Runs) Even an astute practitioner of the art of bowling like Glenn McGrath is happy to only conceed 10 runs or so an over.

The on field interviews are funny. (This is where the TV commentators actually ping the on field captain who has some device in his ear and is asked for his realtime comments). The articulation of some of the team captains make Azhar sound like Barack Obama.

The Cheerleaders are also rather wooden. Pretty girls wearing skimpy outfits and carrying pom poms (and a few guys albeit without skimpy outfits - Thank God)but unlike the classic US version they are very un-athletic. There are no pyramids, no back flips and actually not much cheering either (its probably the 40degree C heat) other than an anemic wave of a pom pom during aforementioned edge through slips.

Ok so enough of the slamming what is good about the IPL?

Well for the first time in crickets history it allows very good first class cricketers to make a decent living even if they do not have the chance of representing their country. (A decent first class player with very little test representation or none at all can probably earn about 1 crore ($200K USD) a year not including endorsements).

It does bring people who are international rivals onthe field together on the same team. That dynamic is fantastic. For example who would ever have thought that Ponting and Saurav would ever be mates.It also reprsents the future of cricket.

Old fuddy duddys (like me) lovers of the classic version of strategy and patience are out. At least with the ODI version there was some method to the madness. Some skill and concentration and technique required of the batsman to best a bowler if he had his tail up.

IPL is cricket not just for the masses but for the masses of the sub Continent. Like Bollywood movies it is escapism of the most absurd degree.

The success of the IPL is also symptomatic of the larger rise of India and its integration into the world. The Indians have learned marketing from the Americans and they are now running with the concept. In a few years the IPL will be bigger and richer than any US or European professional sports league.

The baton is being passed and we are watching the transition. Indians work hard and now have disposable income. They want to spend that income and what better way to spend it then on the ultimate Indian obsession.

Friday, May 16, 2008

California Supreme Court says Gays have right to marry

Finally. California becomes the second state in the Union (after Mass.) to allow gay marriage. This is not judicial activism by men in black robes. The judges were all elected by landslides (69% and over). The California Legislature passed 2 bills allowing gay marriage which were struck down at the ballot box and the executive Gov. Schwarzenegger has agreed to abide by the SC decision. So all three branches of government are in agreement.
Of course the right will fight this and will take it to ballot again in November (they already have a million signatures) but I think this time they wont win at the ballot. Its time we grew up as a nation. Its time we realize that our fellow citizens who are gay have a right to unions and a right to protection under the law. The gay couple who lives down the road from me does not threaten my heterosexual marriage. Its silly to say that. Its the same argument that racists used to prevent miscegenation in the South. It is truly fitting that this bill passes a few days after Mildred Loving (Loving vs. Virginia 1967) breathed her last. We are slowly overcoming and regardless of what the bigots on the right say we are becoming a more just and less prejudiced society.

Bill O Reillys Flipping out is now a rap song

Some people have too much time on their hands...funny though

When a blowhard gets cut down

Today a very angry and very right wing blowhard named Kevin James (not to be confused with the roly poly and pleasant Kevin James, the actor on King of Queens) was on Hardball with Chris Matthews)...He was yelling, screaming and practically foaming at the mouth about Obama and appeasement....Chris Matthews like a surgeon weilding a scalpel completely lacerated him and got him to admit that he knew not what he was talking about.
These days the Right seem more and more to be complete ciphers about history....first Dana Perino (Bushs WH spokesperson) didnt know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was, Bush himself didnt know the difference between Sunni and Shia and now this fool didnt know what exactly was the crime of appeasement

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Neural Buddhist

"Neural Buddhist" - I think this is an appropriate title for my current mindset about God and religion. Ironic that it takes a staunch conservative like Brooks to articulate such a liberal view of God belief. The advance of Science Brooks posits will end belief in the Bible but not in God...

"First, the self is not a fixed entity but a dynamicprocess of relationships. Second, underneath thepatina of different religions, people around the worldhave common moral intuitions. Third, people areequipped to experience the sacred, to have moments ofelevated experience when they transcend boundaries andoverflow with love. Fourth, God can best be conceivedas the nature one experiences at those moments, the unknowable total of all there is."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The American People and their Intelligence

I know you will accuse me of being elitist after reading this post but I think I have had enough of the political discourse in this is just downright stupid on both sides. I think the reason why the level of the debate is so stupid is that the American people are stupid and politicians being opportunists need to play to their constituencies.

This gas tax holiday debate is the breaking pt for me.

Having had to hear all the pandering from both sides and the simplistic thinking, whether it be "they hate us because we love freedom" or whatever I’m realizing that I’m more in love with the idea of America than America I am in love with the idea that was put forth in the Bill of Rights and The Federalist Papers.....the implementation of the grand American experiment leaves a lot to be desired

This disillusionment with our politics, which I thought could not go lower after the swift boat attacks at Kerry is being sorely challenged in the Dem primaries as Hillary morphs into a more right wing version of Maggie Thatcher with a Mike Tyson streak of underhanded fighting (I think she will one day reach across the podium and bite the guys ear off.

Sometimes I think I will eventually leave America and go live somewhere else for awhile. I came here so idealistic, so full of belief in our system and I thought that belief was unshakeable. It is amazing that eight years of Bush, Cheney and Rove have managed to do to my American Dream. One part of me knows that America is greater than these three cynical individuals and they will eventually be treated the way history always treats bad guys but my patience is wearing thin.