Friday, March 01, 2002

ZoNotes: Where the Streets Have No Name.

Mr. Jefferson Has a Basketball Team
Let us all pause to sing a song to pay homage to UVA, who beat Duke 87-84 last night in Charlottesville.
Ok, now put down your milk!

Monica Opens Up
Last night I caught the amazingly train wreckish Larry King interview with Presidential paramour Monica Lewinsky. It's tragically humorous now, but this woman helped bring about the biggest extramarital political scandal in modern American history. The King gig was Monica's effort to promote her HBO documentary "Monica in Black and White." The stinker is that we all know her for her affection for the color blue. And you know what? She still has feelings for Bill Clinton! "I've moved on" = "the Secret Service detail won't let me even look at him" ! Of course, this could also be an elaborate ruse. Monica could be playing dumb, and making away like a bandit.

The Daschle Gambit
I don't find Tom Daschle's recent criticism of the war on terror all too distressing. The general thrust and tone of his comments yesterday were of course designed to cause the frontpage news this morning. This is perhaps a small window for the Dems to criticize -- Afghanistan is no longer in the hands of the Taliban, any operations against Iraq will take a couple of months to generate -- so perhaps Daschle is just taking advantage of the downtime to discuss how unhappy he is. All things considered, this will be forgotten by the general public. However, if this summer activity against Iraq or any other undesirable picks up, the Dems will have narrower room to fret, lest they make a Ted Kennedy "body bags" remark. The GOP complained rather loudly during Operation ALLIED FORCE, but it didn't make much of a difference and made them look rather shrill. It's all in how you go about it.

Madden 02
Whenever you watch pro football games, you do it with 3 people in the living room -- you, Pat Summerall, and John Madden. Since Sumerall went out to pasture after Super Bowl XXXVI, Madden was released from his Fox gig and negotiated a deal with ABC to become the color commentator with Al Michaels. Thus ends the Dennis Miller Project and concludes the oracle-like musings of Dan Fouts ("if you block the man in front of you, he is being blocked"). For what it's worth, Miller was never given the opportunity to engage is rants and blistering talk that he is known for. He became, unfortunately, just another guy in the booth. Sideline maven Melissa Stark stays on, but the engaging Eric Dickerson departs. Madden is still the guy I like listening to, and Michaels is a legit straight man. Of course, you might get this mixed dialogue:
I will of course miss Summerall, the dean of play-by-play. His level voice ("The Cowboys staht at the forty-faaaahve") contrasted perfectly with Madden's "BOOM!" calls. Lately though Summerall had been goofing calls. "Emmitt Smith makes the tackle. Oh, excuse me, Dat Nguyen made the tackle."

The Asexual Superpower
That's basically the feeling I got when I read this article about the European Union's bid to become a superpower and balance all that American meanness. Honestly, European diplomat talk can often be reduced to "don't be such a meanie."
Here's a revelation -- being a superpower is dirty work. It is not a global beauty contest. We go and get our hands dirty, risk our troops and our credibilty because no one else in modern Western society can with the sam impact. The Europeans sit down and do nothing and then ask us "where's American leadership?" (See the War of Balkan Succession), and then when we show that leadership (Afghanistan), they complain that we're not consulting them enough. The Europeans are worse than "satellite states," because satellite states shut up and comply when the big country decides to act. No, the Euros are "are we there yet, are we there yet" states. Thankfully, the problem is mainly with the elite leadership components, not the general population. And to their credit, the Brits and Italians are helping to train the new Afghan Army. But the EU can't be a superpower, because basically their approach is that if you have the power to change a bad situation, you shouldn't use it. It's prudence writ ad infinitum.

"Overt discretion discourages initiative."

Thursday, February 28, 2002

ZoNotes: Brotha, whatcha gonna do, when the 24-inch pythons of ZoNotes come down on you!

HOYA METER: When you put on the Blue and Gray, you put on a legacy of excellence and tradition. The colors never fade in the deepest of valleys, they do not falter in the dark of night. The Hoyas begin their "destiny surge" to the NCAA Tournament by beating hated rival West Virginia in Morgantown, 87-77. The Next Georgetown Big Man and Playboy All-American Mike Sweetney scored 20 points for the Hoyas as they head back home for the season finale against hated rival Rutgers. At 17-10, (8-7 Big East), the Hoyas must win out all the way to the Big East Final. The dye has been cast

It's A Beautiful Day...
...for U2 and Alicia Keys, who won a combined 9 Grammys last night in one of the epically long awards show broadcasts in modern history. A major surprise was the way old-timers' country music made off like bandits, with the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou. It's good to know that even in a world of glitzy rockified country, the pure good stuff rises to the top. For a complete list of winners, check the corresponding link.

Georgia On My Mind
Here are Aaron Ammerman's (F'00) thoughts on the upcoming deployment of Special Forces to Georgia.
SAY!!! Putin and Jiang let us know right away in mid-Sept:
We knew from the get-go that Russia would use W's
attacks on Afghanistan to go after Chechens on a
Baghdad-Kurds basis... and that we'd encourage Beijing
to take down the rebels in Xinjiang and Tibet, cuz
obviously the "green menace" is all the same
threat, cleverly plotted by a single diabolic mastermind
MUHAHAHAHAHAHA. that is very similar to what i
believe the French would call "simplicity."
A quid pro quo was obvious from the start.
On the other hand, in practice, I don't believe
that that's what's going on here in Georgia. The U.S. is
going to Georgia to protect the Chechens, believe it
or not. I can't find the article from earlier, but
Maskhadov released a statement saying "THANK GOD
THE AMERICANS ARE COMING.. they have a reputation for
*ahem* being more "humane" to civilians than the
Russians," which is all true. I don't know if
we're getting duped here, but the intent as best as I
can tell is to pull a reverse of what the Russians
pulled back in Yugoslavia, dispatching a few rifle
companies to Serb territories to "ensure order" and
prevent NATO troops from occupying the Serb
It also has the extremely postive effect of
reinforcing[Georgian President and former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard] Shevardnadze's position within the region,
particular wrt Abkhazia et al.
If the Russians are honest, they'll show that they
respect the U.S. involvement as a sincere
terrorist-hunting effort. If they display any
disappointment whatsoever, you can be damn sure it's because they
wanted to move into the Pankisi Gorge and start
slaughtering civs."

I hadn't thought of the Georgia deployment being a reversal of the Russian action of protecting Serb territory. But I do like the analogy.

Call the Hogs
Watch how the University of Arkansas treats basketball head coach Nolan Richardson after his comments to the media regarding race and his own status earlier this week.
Richardson is suffering through a lackluster 13-14 season, and unless the Razorbacks win the SEC Tournament next week, then they will not get an invite for only the second time in the last 16 years. Rumors of a $3 million buyout are circulating. Richardson's record is impeccable -- a bid to the 1990 Final Four, the 1994 NCAA title over Duke, an appearance in the title game in '95, and a first-round classic against Georgetown in 2001. Plus, the way the SEC is beating itself up, Arkansas could plausibly make a run to the SEC Final. It would be too bad if Richardson was forced out of Arkansas, because I think he brought good fortune to the Razorbacks' hoops program. Then again, as a former UTEP player (back in the days when it was Texas Western), maybe Richardson could come in and bring prominence back to that program. Richardson, as we all know, played on the 1966 Miners' team that shocked Adolph Rupp's Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Final

"Patience should not be excused for gullability."

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

There are two ways to look at the Pentagon's decision to close the Office of Strategic Influence yesterday. The first is that a notoriously secretive Administration believed it could get away with deceiving not only the American public but international media as well by planting false information in a machiavellian attempt to subvert public opinion in favor of unlimited military operations against Iraq. The media tended to buy this line of reasoning, and engaged in the usual righteous indignation that it is known for employing against conservatives. The second way of looking at it is that the afmorementioned media was duped into chasing a story flamboyantly spectacular and in essense OSI itself was a piece of a greater operational deception campaign that is already well underway. Honestly, do you think that the Government needs a special office dedicated solely for the purpose of lying because without it, it could not conduct a disinformation campaign successfully? This doesn't hinder the American capability to mold the truth. Indeed, OSI itself was so Dr.Evil-like in its mission and its profile that it became a strawman. The Maureen Dowds of the world went after it with reckless abandon, which proves that no matter how intelligent your dog is, it will always go after a bone when you throw it. For what it's worth, it makes you wonder whether or not we really exhausted our arsenal of the necessary precision-guided munitions for the overthrow of Saddam, as some commentators seem to believe.

Buffy Recap: The Life of Riley
Last night's brand-spankin' new episode of Buffy was a great display of why the lead character is so messed up. Marc Blucas' "Riley Finn" character comes back with his new wife to kill a nasty demon. Riley was the only non-vampire with which Buffy has had carnal relations, and when Riley offers to kill the vampirically impotent yet still naughty Spike, Buffy turns it away. And even though at the end of the episode Buffy refuses to continue the lust, she calls Spike "William" -- his pre-vamp name. Oh great, now she's falling in love with another monster! Yet again, we were "treated" to the raunchy carnal interaction that defines the Buffy-Spike axis of lust. Happily, the show also returned to the blam-smack action instead of the angst that we had to watch for a couple of weeks. Next week's episode is the Anya-Xander wedding. The previews looked entertaining.

Movin' On Up, to a Deluxe 5A District, in the Sky
Simon Torres (F'00) sent me this link regarding Dallas Jesuit's efforts to secure a spot in Texas' University Interscholastic League. If DJ got in, it would be the UIL's first private school, and that could create a maelstrom. Or would it? Daniel Alvarez (F'00) notices the difference between the large DJ and the smaller private schools in the state:
"What caught my eye was when the DJ representative said that he wouldn't mind if all private schools would be put into 5A. I'm sure that it wouldn't make a hoot of difference to DJ, since they would be playing in 5A anyway, and they'd be competitive to boot. However, the idea of Antonian or St Augustine or any of these smaller private schools playing teams like Churchill, Judson, and Clark strikes me as quite funny in theory, and completely ridiculous in practice.
That said, I would have to acknowledge that, under the current districting rules, private schools would have an advantage. Although, it should be noted that these districting rules didn't keep Jerod Douglas out of Judson, even though he lived in the Cole district, and I'm sure he's not the only one who's mom or dad got cushy jobs in a District Office so their kid could go to school in that district. I kind of like the Georgia and Alabama(??) idea of counting more than 1 'spot' per child as it regarded what classification a Private school was given - it takes the built in advantages of the private school into account, without going overboard."

What did the Russians ask for in exchange for American operational latitude in central Asia during the opening phase of the Afghanistan war? Perhaps, as Livy Keithley (C'98) suggests by emailing me this link, we are helping to fight the Chechen rebels . Here is some more information on the Special Forces' midnight train to Georgia.

Assorted Miscellany
Be sure to check out Sean Mullaney's (B'00) own blog, which focuses presently on campaign finance/incumbent protection "reform."

"Constant movement alone does not make you busy."

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

ZoNotes: Read 'em first on Monday. Read 'em with your drinks on Tuesday. You are reading them on Wednesday! And on Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Chill on Sunday!"

Watching MSNBC last night I caught the tail end of the discussion regarding the mess of the Boston Diocese of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Bernard Law is immersed in a scandal of monumentous proportions, with allegations and confirmed cases of priests abusing young people sprouting out of the silent woodwork. If I were the Pope, I would go about establishing a Consejo de la Suprema or something like it to purge the Church of undesirables, with unlimited power to identify and liquidate priests who have violated their vows.

This morning we take a brief look at Venezuela, where military officials are gradually coming out against the leftist regime of current President Hugo Chavez. If this sounds familiar for a Latin American country, indeed you are correct. However, what strikes me about this particular situation is that the generals and colonels are actually going against someone who served in the military. Chavez's bluster as a fiery paratrooper who is in touch with the people always struck me as overdone and cynical. He stepped on the masses' backs to consolidate near-complete control of the political system in Venezuela and then went about cozying up to Fidel Castro's Cuba. That kind of raw political power is dangerous to have, because it's so volatile that someone might tap the same reservoir of popular sentiment to promote his/her own agenda. That is not to suggest that a coup is inevitable, but Chavez now has to deal with the embryonic phases of an organized, armed opposition.

News comes to us today that the U.S. is negotiating with Pakistan for Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the mastermind of the grizzly Daniel Pearl kidnapping and murder. It is in this respect that I think we might get Sheikh and have a free hand in how we liquidate him. Imagine for a second if he was in Britain or France. We would have to get into particulars over whether or not we could use the death penalty. I take it that the Pakistanis don't want problems that they can't manage -- and would therefore gladly see him to his doom.

Gay And Happy
Jim Mullaney, younger brother of Sean (B'00) and Tom Mullaney, was in town this past weekend for the Georgetown GAAP weekend for newly admitted students. As I read in The Hoya today, he was there during the Lesbian-Gay-Bi-Transsexual protests to Vice President for Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez's decision not to establish a gay resource center on campus . Here is an interesting quote from the article, regarding the sardonic counterdemonstration where some students noted their straight pride:

“I think it’s obvious that there are different races here at Georgetown as small a number as they are. It’s not so obvious that there are gay people here … [for example] half the students involved in the campaign were straight and felt no need to defend that fact.”

For goodness sake, homosexuals are not a race. The demographics play different than they would if you were looking at it in "racial" terms. Perhaps there is a dynamic to all of this that VP-SA Gonzalez misses, and that if there were to be a center on campus, which gays would run it? I mean, gays come in all sorts of political, social, and economic colors. Would an atheist lesbian run it, or a Jewish gay man? And if so, what is the center's focus? Would it be on sex, or the lifestyle, or both, or neither? Will it focus on "queer" studies? Is Gonzalez's trepidation due to the Catholic dynamic, or is there something else? And if there is something else, what is it? Take the current Women's Center for instance, nestled in Leavey Center. Is it really a "women's" center, or is it a "womyn's" center? Does the institutional focus change when someone takes over? Thoughts? Anyone?

More Georgetown
Simon Torres (F'00) sends his regards re the creator of the Single Most Horrifying Film of All Time:

"Great piece on the Exorcist, Zo, but is that woman from the National Review and her editors really as ignorant as they seem to be, or where they asking questions about Georgetown that begged for a ripping, scathing response from Blatty? I'm not sure I want any part of the Georgetown he claimed used to exist, and whose fall NR seems to bemoan. His point has nothing to do with an open dialogue at a university or a "classical" education, but out and out wanton moralizing and bigotry. It's a shame such an important and eye-opening movie was based on a book written by such a kook. His literary (and spiritual) message is lost when he opens his mouth."

Back in the Saddle
After a 12-day break for the XIX Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, UT, the NHL is back in action, with Zo's Colorado Avalanche hosting Calgary tonight. The Avs sit in 1st place in the jumpy Northwest Division, with a record of 33-20-6-1.

"The more you learn, the less time you have to use it."

Monday, February 25, 2002

Here are the ZoNotes that were lost in cyberspace. Enjoy!

The Maple Also Rises
Pass the Poutine and give me some Molsson's! So we had an all-NATO final in men's hockey. During yesterday's broadcast of the USA-Canada gold medal game, uberbroadcaster Gary Thorne mentioned that there is no comparable sport in the U.S. that impacts its society as hockey does Canada. Perhaps this is true, and the Canadians ended a 50-year drought and scored a 5-2 win over the Americans yesterday. It was kind of nice to see Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche win tournament MVP with his performance, but I wanted America to win. Still, with 34 medals, America had its best Winter Games ever. Even the men's hockey team should be a bit reassured -- the team improved dramatically from its dismal 1-3 finish in Nagano back in '98.

The Power of Christ Compels You
Everybody has an Exorcist story. One ZoNoter slept with the lights on after seeing it. Another waited in line for three blocks to see it when it was released in Laredo back in 1973. Yet another laughed at the now-dated special effects. Another one's mother prayed after he got back from the theater. Mine is admiteddly humble and purely incidental. After my first complete week at Georgetown in 1996, a couple of friends rented the movie from the video store in Leavey Center. My first viewing of the most chilling film of thus came with ZoNoters Daniel Alvarez (F'00) and Melissa Ryan (F'00) in a small Harbin Hall dorm room with a bunch of dorky freshmen crowded in. Yesterday I caught TNT's showing of the Single Most Horrifying Film of all time -- William Friedkin's The Exorcist. This film has a place in the storied Georgetown mythos -- note the gratuitous shots of the campus. We get a good shot of Harbin Hall, Walsh, the ornate stentorian trappings of Healy Hall, and the solemn dignity of Dahlgren Chapel -- torn asunder as it were. And of course, the infamous steps that lead from Prospect Street down to the Exxon on M Street long ago became a Georgetown staple. It is sad that the author of the original book and screenplay, William Peter Blatty, no longer has ties to the university.
The acting is first rate. Linda Blair gripped me as the tormented Regan, and I enjoyed the work of Max von Sydow as Father Merin. He played the role with the right blend of tender sensitivity, spiritual resolve, elderly frailty, and steely determination fitting of a Jesuit priest. And did you know that the actor who played the detective in the movie was the same man who played the last juror who changed his vote to "not guilty" in Twelve Angry Men?
Watching this film over again, I realize that the final duel sequence -- starting with Karras discovering Max von Sydow's Father Merin character dead and ending with Karras taking the demon and himself to death in the stairs-hurl -- is very Hamletish. It has a deus ex machina quality -- many of the major combatants die, but the problem is solved, and Reagan is freed from the possession. The ending, bloody as it was, destroyed the evil. The entire movie immerses in doubt and despair -- Regan's mother unable to comprehend the depth of the evil facing her, Karras unable to believe that it really is a possession, almost buckling during the opening phases of the exorcism, Merin dying, Karras arguing "take me!" The scenes are terribly graphic -- the urination in the living room, Regan's "spider walk" in the 2000 rerelease, the pea-soup vomiting, the head-twisting, the masturbation with a crucifix -- not to mention the original version's brutal analog audio track, which heightens the fear factor. All of these factors make The Exorcist the best of the horror genre. Just don't watch it at night.
HOYA METER: Do you smell that? That is the smell of victory, the sweet aroma of triumph that resonates around after slaying the enemy upon the fields of battle. Winning is like drinking a cold glass of water and relieving your parched throat, like waking up on Saturday morning and going back to sleep for an extra 3 hours. Riding the momentum of Gerald Riley's 3-point shooting and Wesley Wilson's Skywalkerish slam dunk, the Hoyas defeated Syracuse at the Carrier Dome for the first time in 5 tries, 75-69. The Hoyas keep the dream for a return to the NCAA Tournament alive, now standing at 16-10, (7-7 Big East).

Noticia de un Secuestro
The kidnapping of Presidential candidate Ingrid Bentancourt by Marxist FARC rebels is the latest chapter in the bloody story of modern Colombia. Bentancourt displayed courage in running for president, but she had to do so at great personal risk to her family. Her children aren't even in Colombia right now. The timing and audacity of this kidnapping is clear -- the U.S. hasn't really extended its war on terrorism to the Americas. Apart from the aid we give to the Colombian Government -- helicopters, guns, money -- formal introduction of American forces beyond the advisory capacity has been absent. Could this trigger the Colombians to ask for more?

"Defeat is the fuel that drives motivation."