Friday, August 02, 2002

ZoNotes: There Must Be Some Misunderstanding...

Well, the Associated Press released its preseason Top 25 for college football, with Miami scoring the #1 ranking and Texas trailing at the #2 slot. If you root for the Longhorns, this is a golden opportunity for you guys. Texas' schedule is far more favorable than the Hurricanes' -- Miami has to play Tennessee, Florida, Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse. The 'Canes will likely be hit hard somewhere along the way, even with its NFL-caliber roster. The Horns' only real speedbump this season is the Oklahoma game in Dallas. I'd include Texas A&M, but the Aggies have to come to Austin for the game, so I don't know how their chances rate. If the Horns don't secure a Fiesta Bowl bid for the national championship, Mack Brown's job may not sustain the cantankerous eccentricities of the fans and alumni. If somebody wants to expand on this for the Pride of the Fall blog, drop me a line.

With Friends Like This...
A few months ago I did a brief write-up on Jordanian King Abdullah, and how his country delicately balances its healthy relations with the West and Israel with a nonfriendship friendship with Iraq. The Left and the editorial boards of the Fourth Estate, charmed by King Abdullah's crisp English and moderate demeanor seem to think that Jordanian support is essential to a military operation against Iraq. If the last conflagration is any indicator, then that conclusion is misguided. Abdullah's father King Hussein took the unusually bold step of joining the Saddam-Arafat minority, criticizing the coalition for the campaign against Iraq in 1991. King Hussein escaped Washington's wrath given the first Bush Administration's Arabist bent. Such a tendency doesn't exist in the same form that it did back then, given that the stakes for all the involved parties are much higher. King Abdullah's meeting with President Bush this week was designed primarily to "expedite" the declaration of a Palestinian state. Abdullah's timing was either horribly executed or cynically calculated, depending on how you view his intentions. Given the Hamas attack on Hebrew University in Jerusalem that killed 5 Americans, Washington is in no position to hear about the expediting of anything to the Palestinians. King Abdullah can only carry water for Iraq and the Palestinians for so long until his advice becomes irrelevant to the planning. Eventually a man of King Abdullah's intelligence would realize the consequences of alllowing Iraq to manifest a serious WMD arsenal.

Wordplay, Explained
More on the Wednesday wordplay that sparked all sorts of commentary from some readers. Here is Mom's original commentary, uncut and unedited:
"Comment on wordplay: That is a self-righteous,
shallow and thinly-veiled commentary about your
feelings about the suicide bombers in Israel. Who
we to determine who is unholy and not worthy of our
compassion? Seems to me that Jesus would preach
those with the most sin are those most worthy of
compassion by true believers. Leave it to a
right-wing conservative to point fingers -
Would you recognize it if it hit you in the face?
With that line of thinking, would you have
on your sinful mother? Maybe you should address
2,500 deaths that have occurred in Israel and
Palestine (wishful?) in the last 22 months. Is
Israeli/US policy working? Maybe Israel should
ALL Palestinians - would that make them any safer
make self-righteous, religious, right-wingers feel
better in the process? Is world opinion on the
of right or might? Is the US starting its own
propaganda program (at the tune of millions of $$$)
change our image? If we were right about
would we have to?"

Thus, Livingston Keithley (C'98) sent me some feedback:
"On the Wordplay thing, its interesting to hear
your Mom's take on yesterday's Wordplay. Being the
Jesuit-raised, guilt-ridden Catholic that I am,
however, I posit the following retort to yesterday's

Compassion was designed specifically for the

This week Pope John Paul II wrapped up his swing through the Americas, capping his trip with an emotional trip to Mexico, a country the Holy Father has visited 5 times during his tenure and the first place he ever visited. Addressing the throngs of the faithful, the Pope said:
"I Go, But I Do Not Leave..."

Thursday, August 01, 2002

ZoNotes: I'm a Cowboy, on a steel horse I ride, wanted, WANTED, Dead or Alive..."

Many thanks to Simon Torres (F'00) for inviting me to see the first installment of Hard Knocks -- the documentary covering the Dallas Cowboys. Wearing the star, gentlemen, is a tough job!

Premature Evacuation
Bantering with Simon last night, I posited my latest opinion as to why the baseball players' union is contemplating a 16 August strike date. I think that the players feel that if they strike early, they can avoid a worst-case scenario -- cancelling the World Series. Plus, given the emotional ramifications of 9.11, the players cannot hope to set any date in September that won't remind the fans and casual observers of the most difficult month in the Republic's history since December 1941. Plus, the NFL will be kicking off its season at the end of the first week in September -- the Cowboys play on the 8th against the Houston Texans -- so baseball borders on irrelevancy, as Simon and Peter Renz (C'00) argued in their own conversations. However, a 3-week strike that begins on the 16th and then ends sometime between 4-6 September would coincide directly with opening week for the NFL which starts with a Thursday night game. The timeline therefore is much narrower than both the owners and the players realize.

Yesterday Victoria Vergara was very very unhappy with yesterday's wordplay, implying a connection between the commentary on the Hebrew U. bombing and the assertion that the unholy can be beyond compassion. Well, that wasn't necessarily the case, as the wordplay was conceived a full 10 minutes before I heard about the attack in Jerusalem. Now that it is clear that Americans died in the strike, perhaps there can be a connection made. But that was not the main thrust of the quote.
That said, today:
"Our understanding of truth sits on our opinion."

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

ZoNotes: Going Down, In a Blaze of Glory...

Check out Pride of the Fall for football musings from the ZoNotes readership!

ZoBro Ernesto Cortes turns 18 today! Happy Happy Happy Birthday!! Ernesto is now only 3 and a half weeks from beginning classes at Texas A&M-Kingsville. Many happy wishes for decadent debauchery!

The Rain of Glass and Flesh
Last week, Israel unfortunately fired a missile that kills both Hamas military leader Salah Shehada and a group of civilians that he may have been using as protective shields. Villification from the "world community" and mild criticism from the White House ensues. Terrorists detonate a bomb at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, with the death toll currently at 7. Where, may I ask, is the outrage? I don't agree with everything that Martin Peretz believes in, but he's dead on with this article, which preceded the lunchtime strike at HU's cafeteria.

These events, separated by a matter of days, show how far both sides are to a workable peace settlement. The state of war here isn't declared, it's the de jure state of affairs in this part of the world. Critics point to Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount as the spark that lit the current intifada. Honestly, though -- the Palestinians and their apologists in the western media would have found some justification for this round of attacks. It is just a matter of picking what event that would be. Plus, every time the Israelis opt to ease up on operations in Gaza or the West Bank, they get hit with an attack.

"Compassion is wasted on the unholy."

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

ZoNotes: Love Me Love Me Say That You Love Me...

Not much happening on my side of the fence this morning, save for a few self-promotional items of somewhat major repute. ZoNotes' subsidiary football blog, Pride of the Fall, is now operational, featuring a small post by Sean Mullaney (B'00).

"People confess to sins they will perform again later. It's like going to the gas station."

Monday, July 29, 2002

ZoNotes: So Baby Run...

Austin Powers: Goldmember smashed July box-office records, reeling in a bountiful $71.5 million in its opening weekend. The opening sequence is a treat for moviegoers, a collection of action sequences and comedy that sets the tone for the best film in the Powers series. Plus, who can miss out on a movie with a shagadelically enhanced, Union Jack-endowed Mini Cooper! Yeah, baby!

The Power of 9
The survival of 9 trapped miners in Somerset, PA is a true miracle -- one of those times where the Lord himself extends His protection to those in the most trying circumstances. Consider for a moment all the obstacles encountered during the rescue effort -- the broken drill bit on Friday morning, the loss of contact with the miners, and the voluminous saturation of water. That the men emerged from the collapsed shaft with only minor injuries and were in good spirits speaks to something about the strength of those men and the power of forces that we cannot comprehend on this plane. The rescue crew showed tremendous determination and a steady professionalism that obviated panic or pessimism. That is not to say that there wasn't any fear, but the success of the rescue did show that both the rescue workers and the trapped miners confronted and overcame it. The relatively satisfactory health condition of the miners was also astounding, with only a few of them suffering from any hazardous maladies. I heard on CNN yesterday that the Nation needed a happy ending, something to make it feel better about itself, and that this provided it. I prefer to look at this another way -- that a "9 for 9" rescue isn't an exception to American grit and steel will, but a rule. We didn't "need" a happy ending, we expected it -- demanded it. And that is why the rescue crews went all the way for 72 hours.

Tyrants and Their Successors
Since the fall of the Communist regimes in 1989, the problem for emerging democracies around the world has been sustaining free ideas, markets, and people. In Latin America, the age of the unelected despot was followed by the age of the elected one. Numerous leaders -- Fujimori of Peru and Hugo Chavez come to mind -- harnessed the victory at the ballot box to enforce draconian and stifling authoritarian mechanisms on their populace. Much of Fujimori's successful endeavors -- the counternarcotics campaign, the dismemberment of the Sendero Luminoso Maoist terrorists as a viable force, the daring attack on the Japanese Embassy in Lima against Tupac Amaru terrorists -- were mitigated by the excesses of his intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. Chavez of Venezuela is a stooge who would me merely a minor irritant if he hadn't won an election that lanced the undisciplined establishment. For their vote, Venezuelans received one of the most backwardly assembled and ham-fisted regimes in the history of the Americas, and that is no small feat considering the region's history. This is why democratic elections are only one piece of the puzzle in a liberal (small "l" liberal!) civil society. It helps to elect people who believe in elections in the first place, not unreconstructed thugs riding the wave of convenience. But then who do you blame for the wave of ballot box authoritarianism? The voters. At the risk of sounding rather cynical here, there is nothing more dangerous than a group of voters willing to compromise freedom for familiarity. It's becoming a sick excuse to argue that the reason people vote for tyrants is because that is all they know. Wouldn't it help to learn the benefits of another system, one that will rely on your vote more than once but not forever?

"Training camp is where fantasies are diagrammed."