Friday, May 10, 2002

ZoNotes: Pop a Top Again...

19 Days Until Ernesto's Graduation
22 Days Until Livy&Sharlene's Wedding
8 Days Until DJ Twist's CD Release Party

Was it over when the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?!
So it appears that high school students have a lack of historical grasp. This, this factor, this factor alone, only this factor, solely this factor, this single factor is the best indicator as to whether or not our fine Republic continues to be the most powerful country on earth, ever. First off, there's Santayana's claim that those who forget history are liable to repeat it. War, pestilence, doom, all that is part of the world's historical makeup. People not aware of this reality will blindly walk off the plank and lead us into the oblivion of unanticipated consequences. Secondly, this shows us the "durability" of the immediate post-9.11 resolve. If high school seniors now fare poorly in history, how will they pass the historical record on to their children? And I'm not talking about the video footage or the newspaper headlines. Those can be preserved. But with history, it isn't merely the existence of a historical text, it is whether it is read or viewed. If the youth of the Republic not point to their successors and say "this mattered," then we are in big trouble.

We Need a Hero
Tonight the Lakers and the Spurs match up in the crucial Game 3 of their best-of-7 Western Conference Semifinals series. Spurs F Tim Duncan earned his first-ever MVP Award, overcoming tremendous season performances by Jason Kidd and ShaqDiesel. Keep an eye on Shaq and his mangled pinky finger. I expect the Lakers to come out strong and present a serious challenge to the Spurs. However, if C David Robinson returns to the starting lineup tonight, it could inspire the Spurs to raise the level of their game. For his part, Robinson's return could echo the valiant efforts of the Knicks' Willis Reed, who played with a painful injury.

If It Hadn't Been for You Stinkin' Kids...
Interesting rant from Livy (C'98) re the "dumbabomber" who was trying to smiley-face-bomb his way across the American heartland:
"Just caught myself muttering "damn teenager." And he's not a teenager...but he might as well be. Sure, I taught at a high school for two years, but often laughed at their antics - reminiscing of my own time in HS, I guess. But now, no, seeing this pissed me off.
Did you read the story on CNN about that twit from U-Wisc. (Stout) who thinks he's cool planting pipe bombs and anti-government letters everywhere? Those events in an of themselves are stupid...but what got me was his t-shirt:
Kurt Cobain? KURT COBAIN? The little twit fancies himself some kind of martyr for the current generation. This kid thinks he is sending a message, he is "commenting" on the sad state of affairs in today's world. No, kid, you're just acting like a 6 year old, with a driver's license and a sick sense of humor. (Sidenote for Old Man Dad: Kurt Cobain was the lead singer of the rock band Nirvana, who blew his head off with a shotgun about 5 or 6 years back, and everybody cried - I don't know why, Nirvana wasn't that good).

I'm old now because it pisses me off how this kid Helder, and the other kids in HS and college today, HAVE NO SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY. Yes, I did just sound like your parents. When Mommy and Daddy pay for everything, and you have no cares in the world (rent; get to work by 8:30, because the boss screams at you if you walk in at 8:31, etc), I guess you can afford to sit around and postulate about "death" and how the "government controls you." Get a life, kid....and quit scaring old people in the Midwest, and quit WASTING MY TIME.

"If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." - Anatole France

Thursday, May 09, 2002

ZoNotes: Her Name is Rio and She Dances on the Sea...

20 Days Until Ernesto's Graduation
23 Days Until Livy&Sharlene's Wedding
9 Days Until DJ Twist's CD Release Party -- and if you go, you could win HFeStival tickets!

The 8 Lives of the Crusader...
The Crusader artillery program met its date of cancellation yesterday by SecDef Rumsfeld. So that is that, right? The $11 billion program to replace the current Paladin artillery piece fell victim to concerns about the 73-ton weapon's mobility and its suitability for rapid deployment and use. However, as large weapons programs go, so does Congress. GOP honcho J.C. Watts (OK), whose state would manufacture this instrument of precision destruction, angrily stated his objection to the killing of the program. Having the #4 Republican in Congress on your side is definitely a good thing.
While I share the skepticism of how you would get brigade-sets of Crusaders from the mainland U.S. to, say, Korea or the SW Asian desert, killing a weapons system because it's a "Cold War relic" is a bit specious. Every major weapon system on the board right now -- the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, the F-22 Raptor, and the Crusader -- have in their makeup and design a salient Cold War influence. The Cold War dominated American planning and weapons procurement for nearly 50 years, it will take at least another 10-15 to procure weapons that don't have the Cold War in mind. Plus, weapons with Cold War dynamics in mind have worked during the Afghanistan campaign -- the F-14, F/A-18, and, in time-defying feats of astounding durability -- the B-52 bomber. As artillery systems go, Crusader was not the only system out there. The Army could look at the Marine Corps' light howitzer program to find a replacement, or look to the international market for mobile artillery pieces. The South African G-series or even some West European and Asian projects come to mind. So, this isn't necessarily about the artillery requirement itself, nor will Congress step into the breach because it understands a need for overwhelming fires support. This is about jobs -- precious, coveted, manufacturing jobs. Expect the Crusader to be resurrected and killed many, many times before a final decision is made.

"God-given talent levels out without practice."

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

ZoNotes: We Were Born to Fly

21 Days until Ernesto's Graduation
24 Days Until Livy&Sharlene's Wedding
10 Days Until DJ Twist's CD Release Party

The Center Holds
The Spurs have achieved their immediate goal -- stealing homecourt advantage from the LA Lakers. In a playoff classic, the Men in Black held firm against a furious Laker rally to win 88-85 at Staples Center. At the end of the game, all-world Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tried to outperform his considerable talent, making a questionable decision to pass the ball and then merely hurling it to himself. Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 27 points, but key bench contributions by Danny "the Dukie" Ferry and "San" Antonio Daniels helped propel the Spurs to a 1-1 series tie. For the Lakers, ShaqDiesel only had 19 points in a foul-plagued night. If anything, this shows you who the Man is in LA -- and it's not Kobe. The all-important Game 3 is Friday night at the Alamodome.

Buffy Recap: Hell Hath No Fury...
What a spine-tingling episode of Buffy last night! Season 6's big bad is indeed not the trio of geekness, but Willow herself! Egads! Brilliant plot execution in the last 5 minutes of the show, I opine. We see Buffy's enemies not succeeding, but actually failing. And, in fiction, it is not an enemy's successes that cause the most distress -- it is their failings. Spike failed to be trustworthy -- and nearly did the unthinkable to Buffy in a horrifically cryptic shower scene. Norman Bates, get out of the way! Plus, Warren's reckless fury with a firearm is perhaps the greatest gun control argument: fire a weapon, make witch angry! The last 3 episodes of the season will prove to be full of violence, vengeance, and rancor! And did you guys see Willow witched out with the black hair? Bravo!

The Sound of Violence
I trust that all of you have seen the film adaptation of Tom Clancy's The Hunt For Red October, when the estimably stentorian Fred Thompson grumbles when American and Soviet forces brush up against each other:"It will get out of control. It will get out of control..."
How fitting his words seem this morning in the aftermath of the latest suicide bombing, this time against a pool hall in Tel Aviv that killed 15 people. PM Ariel Sharon, in DC for meetings with President Bush, hastily returned to Israel after he received the news. Last week I speculated how Yasser Arafat would use his newfound freedom after being detained in Ramallah. We have our answer. Thus, as corpses burn, the New York Times, paying lip service to the destructive products of the moribound "peace process," blithely asserts that it is time that it is "up to the United States and the Arab world to change the subject" from Arafat's status as a terrorist. Indeed, given the current state of affairs, that is simply impossible. As long as we give Arafat credibility, bombs will explode.

"If I begin the batt'ry once again, I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur Till in her ashes she lie buried." -- Shakespeare, Henry V

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

ZoNotes: Oh what a cryin' shame

22 Days Until Ernesto's Graduation
25 Days Until Livy&Sharlene's Wedding

The Diesel and the Franchise
Tonight the Spurs try to tie the best-of-7 Western Conference Semifinals at the Staples Center against the LA Lakers. Tim Duncan is reportedly the NBA's MVP. Let's hope that we don't get jinxed like the Spurs did in 1995 when David Robinson won his award, only to have Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon obliterate the Admiral in a performance for the ages (or infamy, depending on who you were rooting for).

The Dutch Bullet
Our friends across the Atlantic like to fashion themselves as the sophisticate older cousin to our blubbering American neanderthal. Last I checked, it's been quite a while since we last assassinated a political figure simply because we disagreed with him. The execution of Dutch neo-libertarian Pim Fortuyn last night was a seismic event of cataclysmic proportions, given the fact that the Dutch don't engage in this kind of political homicide. And, to extend this, Fortuyn was a qualitatively different type of rightist. The European right would qualify as the American Left on certain issues, so it is difficult to place where Fortuyn would fit in the American political construct. Openly gay and leery of Muslim immigration, his political philosophy was an odd combination of civil rights for homosexuals and skepticism of continued immigration patterns. If it turns out that Fortuyn was executed by far-left elements, then this truly is a crossroads point not only for the Dutch, but all of Europe. Fortuyn's brand of rightism gained momentum precisely because of center-left European elitism that permeates the European Union's leadership. While not exactly a LePen or Haider, Fortuyn represented a departure from the Dutch status quo. With parlimentary elections still slated for 15 May, we will get an immediate accounting of the feelings of the electorate.

Everybody stop, what's that sound, everybody look what's goin' 'round.
Whoever is setting pipe bombs in midwest mailboxes is riding the coattails of the anthrax attacks from last fall, and at the same time revealing a glaring vulnerability in the lifeblood of our Republic -- the mail system. Modern capitalist economies that augment free, pluralistic constitutional republics require a host of things to keep afloat -- minimal state interference, a consumerist society willing to commit capital to products, and geographic flexibility over lage swaths of land. If an actor/actors can degrade any one of those factors, then we have a problem, because then consumers and citizens begin to question the wisdom of doing something so simple as buying a carton of milk or checking to see if they got their books in from Amazon. The mailbomber is riding the same system that the anthrax attackers did to frighten and terrorize Americans. It doesn't matter so much that the attacks have yet to kill anybody -- the prospect of someone in Iowa opening his mailbox only to be greeted by the shrapnel of death puts the slightest amount of fear in the back of one's mind. Plus, the ease and coordination of these attacks shows how diverse the threats to homeland security are. In sum, the question we have to ask ourselves is at the same time both ominous and necessary -- are we seeing the opening stages of the "Israelization" of the American body politic?

"People who live in glass houses must reeeeeallly trust their neighbors." - Gregoire

Monday, May 06, 2002

ZoNotes: I'm much too young to feel this damn old...

23 Days until Ernesto's Graduation
29 Days until Livy&Sharlene's Wedding
Spurs Down 1-0 to Lakers, lose Game 1 86-80

Cinco de Mayo, God Bless America
Cinco de Mayo is fast becoming an American holiday, a time of celebration that we share with our Mexican bretheren. As with St. Patrick's Day, you don't have to be Irish to partake of the festivities. And on Sunday, I partook alot. Yesterday's bash at the Harper resdience was again a winner, where I tasted my first chocolate nipple. It was a very smooth shot, as I drank it to soothe the burning fire I felt after downing consecutive tequila shots. I usually don't drink this much, but I was among friends, so I felt more comfortable imbibing myself with various spirits. Thankfully, I woke up this morning without the slightest touch of a hangover. Yay me.
At yesterday's party, ZoNoter Nazanin Razavi passed me a flier for a CD release party at Bridges in Fairfax, VA. DJ Twist, known to rock the microphone (or, more accurately, the turntables) from time to time in the DC club scene, is releasing his third CD on 18 May. All are courteously invited to come on over and shake their groove thing. For more details, email me and I'll be happy to provide more details. DJ Twist himself was at the party yesterday, and he is a nice guy.

It's your Green Destiny...
I didn't realize I had over 375 channels on cable. All the way down the list on channel 375, I caught a special showing on the Starz network of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This is a tremendous film, utilizing the combination of myth, adventure, scenic beauty, captivating plot, and some of the most demanding action sequences in the history of modern film. Unlike The Matrix and the Blade franchise, Crouching Tiger's fight scenes are less kinetically furious and more graceful and, dare I say, artistic. Seeing this movie on television doesn't quite do it justice -- I am grateful for having seen this in the theater, too. Chow Yun Fat does some of his best work as the tormented yet wise Liu, and Michelle Yeoh delivers a knockout performance as well. The movie is epic, with battles taking place over deserts and lush green forests. Yo-Yo Ma's musical score hits the right tone and adds wonderful texture to an already superb movie. Of course, as this is a foreign film, it requires English subtitles. However, it is better to do that than to dub the film with mechanical English. This is one hell of a popcorn movie, entertaining, tragic, and definitely unforgettable.

The War on Terror: The Absurdist Phase
Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia became more than royalty upon the successful completion of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday -- his newly acquired horse War Emblem stormed to victory against 20-1 odds. The scene on the winner's platform crystallized so many things, perhaps the NBC producers weren't totally aware of the dynamics involved. Here we were, at a undeniably American event, where a Saudi prince with lots of cash was able to fulfill his dream of winning a major race. Prince Salman is now that much closer to a Triple Crown. In his euphoria, Prince Salman raised high the winner's cup and said: "This is for the people of Saudi Arabia. I love you guys in America." First of all, what with all the fundamentalist Wahabbiism and general discontent in Arabia, would the Saudi people really be happy about Prince Salman's achievement? Aren't we being bombarded with poll numbers saying how Arabs loathe we infidels and our sick decadent culture? Thus, wouldn't the footage of Prince Salman and his entourage bear-hugging trainer Bob Baffert come off as a bit unseemly? Now I have no personal beef with Prince Salman, but let's say he means what he says when he "loves" us guys. Couldn't he put a call in to Crown Prince Abdullah and say "hey, we love America!"
What is the saying, that tragedy is repeated as farce? As we approach the 9-month period since the 9.11 attacks, the successful overthrow of the Taliban was followed by an overambitious "to the East, Iraq" story, then accompanied by the "let's get the Saudis, too" chapter, which was then followed by the rotten, malignant fruits of the second intifada against Israel. Even as Israeli PM Ariel Sharon arrives in America to show Washington the documentation connecting Yasser Arafat to extremist terrorism, we float the idea of a big SW Asian summit that would include notoriously anti-Israeli European Union officials. If this phase proves to be merely an interlude between catastrophic attacks on American civilians, then we have cheated ourselves from the initial victory in Afghanistan.

"When you build a successful team, your detractors say you "bought it." Thus, make sure every penny counts."