Friday, February 24, 2006

A scene between two children

Danny: I'm going to throw rocks to break a window in that house! It will be cool!

Robbie: I want to be cool, too! I'll throw rocks, too!

Robbie's conscience: Umm, do we really think that breaking windows is a good idea?

Robbie: I want to be cool! I'll throw rocks!

Replace "Danny" with "Democrats" and "Robbie" with "Republicans", and you have my analysis of this week's news around Dubai Port World handling containers at US ports. Of course, "Robbie's conscience" is a fictional device I invented to make the story marginally more interesting.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What is the world coming to?

First I was agreeing with the RNC, now I'm defending Dick Cheney.

I am now officially annoyed by the media coverage of the vice-president's hunting accident. The righteous bleating over Cheney's neglect of the "public interest" is absurd. The reason this story is the public interest at all is because the press have decided that they are offended and/or can score points against a notoriously uncooperative official, and therefore they will give what really is a terrible, personal accident top billing.

Don't get me wrong, it was shockingly naive for such a Washington insider as Cheney to think that he could simply notify the local paper that he had just shot his friend in the head, and that would be that. The ongoing foofaraw makes that foolishness clear. But to claim that was an offense against the nation is really a bit much.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I hope I'm alone in not getting this

As the violence inspired by the publication of cartoons insulting to the Muslim prophet Muhammed spreads, I am becoming more and more surprised. The conventional wisdom is that the violence is being led and propogated by extreme Islamists, not the average Muslim drawn into the streets in pious outrage. Nonetheless, we're still talking about thousands of people, in numerous countries, marching, shouting, burning, and attacking embassies. It's very hard for me to grasp the desire or willingness to reject entire nations on the basis of a handful of newspapers.

The growing storyline is that certain states (eg, Syria, Iran) are instigating the worst riots. That sounds plausible; they are certainly at fault for utterly failing to protect the foreign embassies they host. Be that as it may, it is still striking that so many people are ready to respond to the instigation. What lie would the government have to tell you for you to march on, for instance, the Egyptian embassy?

That's the last bit that strikes me about these riots: the rage is focused on the Nordic countries. I'd understand burning the US embassy, boycotting US goods, etc, etc; in fact, I'm surprised not to see more of it. But the Swedes? The Danes? What has Denmark ever done (other than give the most foreign aid, as percentage of GDP, of any rich country)?

I'm not writing this thinking I should have known better, that I shouldn't be surprised by any of these events. The more I think about this, the more I think there are truly deep differences at work, issues contained in the assumed and the taken-for-granted.

Monday, February 06, 2006

One for the thumb

Hooray for the Steelers, who finally got their fifth Super Bowl championship yesterday. I won't bother trying to recap the game, but to say that it was closer than 21-10, and that both teams had some pretty great plays. (wide receiver reverse pass option, anyone?) It was unfortunate that the two critical interceptions were both just terrible throws, and that the Seahawks had big plays called back for cheating - I mean, on penalties - but no more so than the embarrassing black-and-white ad spots of various Steelers cradling the Lombardi trophy. (Could ABC not sell any ad time for that game?)

Thanks to Angus and Julie for having us over for a great viewing, full of delicious food from them and other guests, and for being gracious in defeat. And thanks to Psos for the buffalo chicken dip recipe. Mmmm, creamy, cheesy buffalo chicken.