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Friday, October 29, 2004

Roger Waters

of Pink Floyd has some interesting comments on our President and our current elections (from an interview on this site

"Institutionalized hatred is only an expression of fear.. George Bush is obviously a deeply frightened man...and always has been his whole life...thats what he gives off. He exudes fear to me..thats why he finds it necesssary to dress up in air force uniforms and parade around on the decks of aircraft carriers. cause he's a frightened little kid.. you know..he's an infant..that politically is the problem. that you have this frightened infant you know in the most powerful position in the western world.."

"If Bush wins this election I won't just be aghast I will be struck dumb..You know..that the american people could reelect this disaster..this total disaster in every way as far as i am concerned.."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

arianna huffington

i think her current column makes some great points..

good article on john peel

Transcript of Bruce Springsteen's Speech Earlier Today in the largest event in the history of Madison, Wisconsin

Thank you! Thank you.

As a songwriter, I've written about America for thirty years. Tryin' to write about who we are, what we stand for, what we fight for. And I believe that these essential ideas of American identity are what's at stake on November 2nd.

I think the human principles of economic justice -- just healing the sick, health care, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, a living wage so folks don't have to break their backs and still not make ends meet, the protection of our environment, a sane and responsible foreign policy, civil rights and the protection and safeguarding of our precious democracy here at home -- I believe that Senator Kerry honors these ideals. He has lived our history over the past fifty years. He has an informed and adult view of America and its people. He's had the life experience, and I think he understands that we as humans are not infallible. And as Senator Edwards said during the Democratic convention, that struggle and heartbreak will always be with us. And that's why we need each other. That's why "united we stand" -- that's why "one nation indivisible" -- aren't just slogans, but they need to remain guiding principles of our public policy. And he's shown starting as a young man, that by facing America's hard truths, both the good and the bad, that that's where we find a deeper patriotism. That's where we find a more complete view of who we are. That's where we find a more authentic experience as citizens. And that's where we find the power that is embedded only in truth, to make our world a better and a safer place.
Paul Wellstone, the great Minnesota senator -- he said the future is for the passionate, and those that are willing to fight and to work hard for it. Well the future is now, and it's time to let your passions loose.

So let's roll up our sleeves. That's why I'm here today, to stand alongside Senator Kerry and to tell you that the country we carry in our hearts is waiting. And together we can move America towards her deepest ideals. And besides, we had a sax player in the [White] House -- we need a guitar player in the White House.

Alright -- this is for John. This is for you, John.
[Bruce launches into No Retreat, No Surrender]

80,000 people turned out to see John Kerry at a rally earlier today (October 28) in Madison Wisconsin.. a very special guest turned out...Fire Chiefs estimated an additional 20,000 were on sidestreets.. this makes this even the largest in Madison history!

Springsteen said his songs were about "who we are, what we stand for, what we fight for now. I believe these essential ideas about America (are) what is at stake on November 2. I believe Senator Kerry honours these ideas, he has lived our history for 50 years. He has formed an adult view of America and its people. The future is now and its time to let our passions loose."

saying "This is for you John" the Boss launched into "No Surrender"

"I am here today to stand alongside Senator Kerry and say that the country we carry in our hearts is waiting, and together we can move America towards its deepest ideas."

Bruce hits the stage in Madison Wisconsin earlier today at a rally for John Kerry!

Bruce getting ready to rock for Kerry!

John Peel can now be found spinning records for Marc Bolan, Ian Curtis, and Nick Drake on Radio Heaven

John Peel, one of the more important DJs of all time (certainly of my time), passed away earlier this week....Would I have been able to listen to much of the great music I've come across in my lifetime without the contributions of this man? I doubt it. As Bernard Sumner of New Order said: "If it wasn't for John Peel, there would be no Joy Division and no New Order. He was one of the few people to give bands that played alternative music a chance to get heard, and he continued to be a champion of cutting-edge music throughout his life."

for more information check out

Quote of the week

"About a year ago, when things weren't going so well in my campaign, somebody called a radio talk show and they said, thinking they were just cutting me right to the quick, they said 'John Kerry won't be the president until the Red Sox win.' Well, we're on our way."
John Kerry October 28, 2004

Boston Red Sox World Series Champions!

Woo hoo! Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918.. goodbye curse..hello nightclub

I don't have the time to provide an exhaustive analysis of the World Series... my earlier post on the Curse of the Bambino provides some background (scroll below).. but i thought i'd jot down a few post-euphoria notes:

The Red Sox outplayed, outpitched, outhit, outran, outsmarted, outcoached and just about did everything better than the Cardinals who put forth an embarassing performance uncharacteristic for a great baseball franchise..

its interesting that before the season started way back in april conventional wisdom held that the Red Sox starting pitching made them a prime candidate to win the World Series while the Cardinals starting pitching would hold them back....well it took the entire season for the Red Sox pitchers to pitch the way they were expected to and they picked a great time to do so.. from game 4 of the American League Championship Series the Red Sox starters were phenomenal (with the exception of Game 1 of the World Series).. meanwhile the Cardinal pitchers proved ineffective...

The big Cardinals surprise was their woeful hitting (What happened to you Rolen? 0-15?? Edmonds?) and poor spark

on the Red Sox side Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz provided some quality hitting but key efforts from a number of Red Sox were the difference...Cabrera and Bellhorn provided some quality clutch hitting while Johnny Damon's home runs in game 7 against the yankees were critical....even Trot Nixon managed to get an important hit in Game 4 after looking like he had lost his swing following his comeback from injuries

Schilling.. what can I say that has not been said... workhorse....stud... an unbelievably gutsy performance...a tremendous ballplayer.. a winner.

its nice Pedro managed to settle down for uncharacteristically smooth sailing in Game 3.... my feeling is he's on a downslope of his career and should not be re-signed by the Red Sox.. the guy is a trubblemaker and unless he is expected to regain his Cy Young form of a few years back there is no point to resigning him.....Lowe however gave me reason to pause before letting him go

the only positive for the Cards? Larry Walker did just about everything he was supposed and expected to.. what a solid performance.... he put it all on the line..

Larussa: never liked him and I ain't going to start now... I don't know what his problem is .. does he get too tense at playoff time? whatever the reason Larussa and post season wins go together about as well as unbiased reporting and Fox News... and if you can't win when it counts what good are you?

it seemed during this World Series that everything went Boston's way.. in fact since Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees its been a dream ride.. 8 straight post season wins establishing a playoff record!

although Manny got the World Series MVP I think the Red Sox relief pitcher Kevin Foulke may have been more deserving what with critical saves in all Red Sox World Series victories...

Nomar Garciaparra??? who dat??? the heart and soul of the Red Sox (and my favorite ballplayer over the past few years) was jettisoned 50 or so games before the end of the season in THE key decision by the Boston brass... after that move, for whatever reason (is Nomar a bad apple??) the Red Sox clicked and made a run at the Yankees for the division...basically they never looked back with the exception of the momentous hiccup against the Yankees in the ALCS...

Red Sox victory ----> John Kerry victory!!!!!!!!!!

the key plays if there were any to the World Series? the home run by Bellhorn in Game 1 after the Cardinals had finally managed to claw their way to a tie ballgame or the Manny Ramirez (yes manny!) throw to home plate to get Larry Walker out (on a momentous cardinals baserunning miscue) with the bases loaded and pedro about to crumble

Monday, October 25, 2004

Pick of the week

The little more than a year between Miles Davis' classic "Milestones" and "Kind of Blue" sessions has to be one of the more rewarding in jazz. Some of my favorite jazz recordings of all time were made in this brief period. Namely:

Milestones (February and March 1958)

Somethin' Else (March 1958)

Miles and Monk at Newport (June 1958)

Porgy and Bess (July and August 1958)

Miles 58 (May and September 1958)

Jazz at the Plaza (September 1958)

Kind of Blue (March and April 1959)

This was the period when Miles Davis was transitioning from his original great quintet which featured Coltrane on sax, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on the drums. Over the course of a few months Bill Evans would play a couple of historically crucial sessions, Cannonball Adderley would join as a second saxophone player and Jimmy Cobb would replace Philly Joe Jones. The lineup, which began exploring so called modal jazz, proved unstable but managed to cut perhaps the greatest jazz record of all time: Kind of Blue. As Miles himself would write in his autobiography "I don't think any group ever had two saxophone players who could compare with Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane."

Sometimes lost in the mix is the Cannonball Adderley Blue Note recording "Somethin' Else." I say lost in the mix because it is a recording credited to Cannonball. However, and while I am taking nothing away from Cannonball I believe this record is in actuality a Miles Davis project. From the selection of tunes which includes "Love for Sale" of which Miles led his own recording a mere two months later, to Miles in his patented gruff manner saying right after the performance of One for Daddy-O "Is that what you wanted Alfred?" (i.e., Blue Note label chief Alfred Lion), to "Autumn Leaves" which is all about Miles, to his decision to sit out the fifth track as recounted in Leonard Feather's liner notes: "'I made him play this,' says Miles, 'because I remembered hearing Sarah Vaughan do it like his.'", to titling the album after the Miles original recorded especially for this album (and which Miles never recorded again), etc.

How did Miles Davis come to record this album anyways? After all this must be the first session he did not get top billing in a while and the last one I can think of. Miles writes in his autobiography (after mentioning how he and Cannonball used to hang out as opposed to Coltrane who was "..only really concerned about playing his music and growing as a musician"), and it truly is amazin how little he has to say about it: "Back in New York, Cannonball, who had signed a deal to do a record for Blue Note, asked me to play on the date, which I did as a favor. The record was called 'Something Else' and was very nice."

Curiously enough the spines on the album read "Cannonball Adderley - Miles Davis." Another interesting fact about this record is that in addition to Miles providing support, Art Blakey plays the drums in one of his last appearances as a session musician.

review of record to follow

"Somethin' Else" indeed!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

And the numbers are in!

Transparency International's annual "Corruption Perceptions Index 2004" was released today. What does it measure?

From (check it out for the details/methodology/notes)

"The Corruption Perceptions Index is a poll of polls, reflecting the perceptions of business people and country analysts, both resident and non-resident. This year's Corruption Perceptions Index draws on 18 surveys provided to Transparency International between 2002 and 2004, conducted by 12 independent institutions."

Transparency International notes that it includes only 146 countries as there is not enough data for many countries. It is interesting to observe the listing of the least corrupt countries:

1. Finland
2. New Zealand
3. Denmark & Iceland
5. Singapore
6. Sweden
7. Switzerland
8. Norway
9. Australia
10. Netherlands
11. United Kingdom
12. Canada
13. Austria & Luxembourg
15. Germany
16. Hong Kong
17. Belgium & Ireland & USA
20. Chile
21. Barbados
22. France & Spain
24. Japan
25. Malta
26. Israel
27. Portugal
28. Uruguay
29. Oman & UAE
31. Botswana & Estonia & Eslovenia

and let us look at Latin America in particular

20. Chile
28. Uruguay
41. Costa Rica
51. El Salvador
59. Brazil
60. Belize & Colombia
62. Cuba & Panama
64. Mexico
67. Peru
87. Dominican Republic
97. Nicaragua
108. Argentina
112. Ecuador
114. Honduras & Venezuela
122. Bolivia & Guatemala
141. Paraguay

I don't know if one would go so far as to call it a correlation but it does seem that the less well off, the poorer a nation is the more corrupt it is...Chile's position is a remarkable achievement in a continent rampant with cronyism...

And whats with the United States? I thought the US was tops at everything.. the "envy of the world" as Bush said with respect to our health care "system" (45 million uninsured...oh, i guess they do not count!)

It might be interest to correlate GNP per capita with the corruption indices and see what happens....

is he showing tonight?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Presidential Election Forecast

our model is churning out the following based on all available information.. we believe that give or take the die is cast:

Popular Vote
John Kerry 51.23
George Bush 47.34
Ralph Nader 1.09

State by State

For Bush:
Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Arizona (10), Georgia (15), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), Nevada (5), North Carolina (15), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (34), Utah (5), Virginia (13), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3)

Bush Electoral Votes: 207

For Kerry:
California (55), Colorado (9), Connecticutt (7), Delaware (3), Washington DC (3), Florida (27), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), Iowa (7), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (17), Minnesota (10), Missouri (11), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (15), New Mexico (5), New York (31), Ohio (20), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (21), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (11), Wisconsin (10)

Kerry Electoral Votes: 331

Turnout: 56.8%

Note: Our Model has the most difficulty predicting the behavior of the State of West Virginia.

Note2: We may elect to provide an update...

47west63rd calls Presidential election!!

we know the readership of 47west63rd counts on us for something special..something extra it can't get elsewhere:

after extensive analysis and use of our Election Forecasting Model 2004 we are now able to call this election in favor of Senator John Kerry.

John Kerry will become the 44th President of the United States

George Herman Ruth

Fall Classics

the baseball playoffs this year have been spectacular.... particularly the american league championship series between the boston red sox and the evil empire..a rematch of last years epic 7 game rumble.... there is not much i can say that has not been said.. given that i watched the yankees dismantle the sox in games 1 and 3 (game in which the red sox did not only lose but put in one of the most embarassing and disgraceful performances i have seen) and did not watch games 4 and 5 which the red sox won i fear i will not be able to watch game 6... or dare i say it an eventual game 7....what can i say? this is a cruel fate but i do not want to take any chances here... forces beyond our understanding may be at play!

for those that don't follow baseball the "rivalry" between the bosox and the bronx bombers is one of the more storied in all of sports with one key ingredient missing: some boston wins!.. as the story goes the owner of the red sox, at that time more succesful than the neighboring yankees, decided in 1920 or therein, after a night of binging on crack cocaine, to sell george herman ruth to the yankees in exchange for $150,000 he needed to stage a production on broadway... in pinstripes "babe" ruth became the greatest baseball player in history (yes barry even greater than your ego) all the while creating the yankee mystique..over the next 80+ years the yankees won 26 world series while the red sox have yet to win one.. ergo the curse of the bambino....the bosox have found unusually cruel ways to lose such as the 1986 world series when they lost to the mets in a sure thing that unraveled in game 6 when there were but a few outs standing in their way and a grounder slipped by bill buckner's legs....

to this "historical mix" you have to add a couple spicy condiments:..the current red sox and yankee organizations behave like bitter ex lovers..from red sox brass calling the yankees "the evil empire" to steinbrenner telling to red sox so shut their yap to catcher varitek mauling arod with his glove to last year's 10 rounder between pedro and octagonerian don zimmer and on and on.. these two teams really do not seem to care for each other and their fans like each other far fans copiously breathe green bile whenever they think of the yankees... and speaking of yankees their fans are not particularly known for their appreciation of high art and fine manners...

this year people were particularly high on the red sox primarily due to their vaunted 1-2 pitching punch of curt schilling and pedro martinez.. but curt is hurting and pedro has been ineffectual in this series... somehow, primarily due to the exploits of david "PAPI" ortiz the red sox have eked out wins in games 4 and 5 (both came deep into extra innings in as dramatic as they come fashion: game 4 was the longest american league championship series game in history at over 5 hours.. the next night's game was the longest championship series in history at about 6!!!) and the series is now yankees 3- red sox 2 with the action returning to the house that ruth built: yankee stadium...tonight curt schilling will attempt to take the mound, seek redemption for his game one let down, and even the series sending it to what would be one of the greatest game sevens of all time but lets not get ahead of ourselves....if the gods of baseball so deem it the skies may open tonight giving schilling an extra day to rest his ailing ankle but also giving the yankees some time to recover from the wallop they just received in boston....the yankees led both of the last two games only to borrow a page from red sox history and find ways to thing is for certain: if the boston red sox are to finally bury the curse its going to take something mega dramatic...something along the lines of games 4 and 5? perhaps....

Friday, October 15, 2004

New United Nations Security Council Members selected..

In a secret vote 189 UN members selected the five new Security Council members that will have a seat on the council for two years beginning January 1, 2005. The new members will be:

Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Tanzania and Japan

In the past two years the members of this council took some important votes concerning the invasion of Iraq.

vote pairing? (i.e., strategic voting)

this election looks like it is going to be real close between john kerry and george bush... if you want kerry to become the next President of the United States of America, and agree with ralph nader on most issues (other than perhaps the issue of him running for president), perhaps it might make sense to vote for nader, if you live in safe democrat state (such as Washington DC), in exchange for someone in a "swing state," who would otherwise vote for nader, agreeing to vote for kerry...

i hope that makes some sense..

lets say i live in dc and i like nader but think bush is a danger to human civilization... and lets say someone else lives in washington state and wants to vote for nader badly but also thinks bush is a lunatic.. well then we contact each other and talk about it.. and i guess agree to pair ourselves or in a sense "trade" votes (yes it is legal)..that way its a win win.. nader gets a vote where it does not matter to the final outcome and kerry gets a vote in a state where it is critical he get the votes necessary to pick up the electoral votes...

i welcome thoughts on this as its an idea i'm seriously considering.. i don't believe i have anything to lose given kerry will carry dc's 3 electoral votes overwhelmingly.. at the same time i respect nader's constitutional right to run for president and frankly agree with most of his positions.. there is nothing wrong with a person wanting to serve his fellow fact it is commendable.... instead of kerry blaming nader perhaps he ought to work harder to appeal to those voters attracted by nader... obviously, i would respect a nader decision to drop out (i am hoping he will do so)

check out this site for more info on so called "strategic voting":

and here find their FAQ on vote pairing:

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I present you God's gift to the chip lover....

Kerry 3 Bush 0

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bill O'Reilly's Caribbean Shower Fantasies..

Bill O'Reilly, self professed mr "who's looking out for you," has been hit with a sexual harassment suit.. .the smoking gun has the suit on their web site..

check it out...we'll find out if there is any truth to this (although it seems O'Reilly's on tape..) but i don't think you can make this stuff up!

for the real fun stuff go to the site above but i can't resist including most of paragraph 41 of the lawsuit:

On or about May 2003, Defendant BILL O'REILLY took plaintiff ANDREA MACKRIS and her college friend to dinner at Da Silvano's. During the course of the dinner, O'REILLY repeatedly propositioned the women, singing the praises of telephone sex, offering to telephone them both, and suggesting that the three of them "go to a hotel together and have the time of [their] lives." O'REILLY further suggested that the women needed to be trained so they'd be equipped and ready to go when a "real man shows up in your lives," and offered "lessons."

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Impressions from last night

we were fortunate enough to be at the vote for change tour finale here in washington dc last night and here are my scattered thoughts about what ended up being a five and a half hour show...

  • john mellencamp kicked things off.. obviously its always tough to be the opener as people are busy shuffling in... boy am i glad we got there a few minutes into his all too brief set.. the set was anchored by three well known numbers: paper in fire, authority song and pink houses which was one of the highlights of the night.. it was evident mellencamp no longer has the range he did 20 years ago but he more than made up for this in spades with smarts... the band arrangement's were quite tight... we were left wishing he had played more...john summed up my thoughts when he finished his set with a reference to how it just is not right that in today's america your patriotism is questioned when you question your government...
  • bonnie raitt played some mean slide guitar.. she shared the stage with keb mo (no guitar slouch himself) and jackson browne who was elated to be a part of this....bonnie though stole the show on this bill.. her personality just overpowered all around her...
  • REM came on and got the house rockin' with a wonderful "the one i love".. michael stipe flailed around like a lunatic but what stuck in my mind is how well his voice has held up... his voice sounded exactly like on the record 20 years ago.. "losing my religion" really got the crowd involved.. there is no doubt that other than springsteen stipe was the best frontman of the night.... eddie vedder came out rather sheepishly for a duet as did springsteen.... the cries of "bruuuuuuuce" made it amply clear that a large contingent of his fans had made the trip down from jersey/philly.....
  • it was nice to hear james taylor..another old guard singer songwriter clearly glad to do what he can..he made a few astute observations which i paraphrase: "i really hate hearing people say we should not change horses in midstream... i mean when he's drowning and clearly in over his head.. and we've got a perfectly good mule (kerry)".. and "people ask me what you say to undecided voters about how to pick a president... well i say.. you look at the two candidates..and.... you pick the smart one! its not that hard!"..the dixie chicks played a nice arrangement of dylan's "mississippi" utilizing an arrangement closer to the sherryl crow version than the dylan "love and theft" version
  • dave matthews played a pretty long set (definetly the longest set of the night without guest stars)... at the beginning on "don't drink the water" i thought the DMB sounded like a bad imitation of peter gabriel era genesis but as the set went on and they began to throw in some of their classics they really won me over and they really had the crowd going....
  • if you notice i've skipped over pearl jam its because their set for one reason or another was largely forgettable... i am convinced that they are one of the best live bands around but last night i just did not get into them.... vedder closed with dylan's "masters of war" which made me think "where is dylan anyways?".. i don't think the parallels with the bush administration were lost on anyone..
  • and then springsteen and the e street band came out... what most everyone had been waiting one left the MCI center before the boss finished up around 12:30.... springsteen began with a semi-solo (some keyboard backing) rendering of the star spangled banner on steel string guitar.... i appreciated this as i think republicans have this horrible tendency to seek to appropriate the symbols of our country for themeselves (all the while weakening the country) and challenging the rest's patriotism... from the star spangled banner springsteen moved to a passionate goose bumpage causing "born in the USA", "badlands" and kerry's campaign song "no surrender"..... at this point the crowd was going crazy...john fogerty came out after a nice introduction and played his new anti-irak war song "deja vu all over again"... which took the crowd down about 10 notches... however he kicked it back up for a rousing "fortunate son" (could there be any better song to describe bush and his policies?).... then the boss proceeded to convert himself into a minister for john kerry..

(to be completed)

The odd couple?

Bruce Springsteen watches as Michael Stipe does the "lightbulb" at last night's Vote for Change Tour finale here in Washington DC. (picture courtesy of and

Monday, October 11, 2004

Kerry wins second debate but media too chicken shit to give him the victory

Gallup confirms what I already knew. Kerry beat Bush handily in the second debate (the town hall debate held Friday). Too bad the media has been busy spinning the debate into a draw.. by the time they are done who knows what people will think?

from gallup's poll conducted over this past weekend and just released this afternoon...

30. Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you think did the better job in last Friday’s debate: John Kerry or George W. Bush?
------------Debate 2-----------Debate 1
Kerry-----------45 --------------- 57
Bush------------30 ---------------25
Neither----------1----------------- 1
Both equally---10-----------------5
No opinion-----14----------------12

please excuse the formatting but i need to learn the html for BLANK SPACE

Old News

I don't always agree with Thomas Friedman. Specifically, I think we should not have invaded Irak while he was a strong advocate for it but these words in his Op-Ed piece October 3 ring true:

"Sorry, I've been away writing a book. I'm back, so let's get right down to business: We're in trouble in Iraq.

I don't know what is salvageable there anymore. I hope it is something decent and I am certain we have to try our best to bring about elections and rebuild the Iraqi army to give every chance for decency to emerge there. But here is the cold, hard truth: This war has been hugely mismanaged by this administration, in the face of clear advice to the contrary at every stage, and as a result the range of decent outcomes in Iraq has been narrowed and the tools we have to bring even those about are more limited than ever."


"For all of President Bush's vaunted talk about being consisten and resolute, the fact is he never establishd US authority in Iraq. Never. This has been the source of all our troubles. We have never controlled all the borders, we have never even consistently controlled the road from Baghdad airport into town, because we never had enough troops to do it."

you want more?

"Mr Kerry's own views on Iraq have been intensely political and for a long time not well thought through. But Mr. Kerry is a politician running for office. Mr. Bush is president, charged with protecting the national interest, and yet from the beginning he has run Iraq policy as an extension of his political campaign."

Jon Stewart book signing in Washington DC

Friday October 15
1 pm Comedian Jon Stewart and Ben Karlin sign copies of America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, created by Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," at Politics and Prose, 202-364-1919

catch up post via this sunday's washington post book world

so i have not been blogging much lately...been reading a bit more.... there's a lot of interesting stuff out there as of late.. just look at this sunday's washington post book world:

"naked airport - a cultural history of the world's most revolutionary structure" by alastair gordon... basically a history of the airport... a subject that never gets much ink....definetly need to read this if only for professional reasons...

"exuberance- the passion for life" by kay redfield jamison... a book about exuberant personalities (i.e., people who are passionate about life)..

then three books about the modern pharamaceutical industry (i.e. racket) in the US.. indeed: why do americans take so many pills?

"chronicles: volume one" by bob dylan....i'm not sure what i think about this book based on what i'm reading... seems like a book of writings by bob dylan but don't look for an autobiography here. the man is obviously extremely private.. anybody who refuses to mention his wife by name can't be called open.. however, some of the things that might turn off more casual dylanistas appeal to me.. for example, reading that two chapters are devoted to the underrated "new morning" lp... but i'm not particularly interested in reading bob quotes of the "goons were breaking into our place all hours of the night. at first, it was merely the nomadic homeless..."..whine whine and "i owed nobody nothing. i wasn't going to go deeper into the darkness for anybody. i was already living in the darkness" variety...

then joel kotkin reviews a few books about the european/french view of the world... he seems very concerned with economic growth figures but seems to miss the point.. if they don't want four giant screen tv's/four cars per household . if consumerism is not what they are about why do they need GNP growth a la USA... GNP growth figures adequately measure progress USA style (i.e., increased production) but do they measure anything else.. if you do not want to consume more why do you need to produce more?. i mean check what kotkin says here "worse, the many structural flaws in its economy- the generous pensions, extra leisure time and early retirement praised by rifkin- are precisely what limits future euro-growth to less than 2 percent annually, widening the gap with the United States and potentially placing europe behind burgeoning asian economies.".. geez maybe i prefer to see the gap widen so long as i can spend some time in the french riviera or retire at 50...

"the double" by jose saramago.. this is the new book by nobel prize winner saramago.. i once tried to read saramago's "blindness" and nearly fell into a coma... seems things have not changed per jonathan carroll's review: "what's more, if the subject of a novel is a dull man, there must be something at least a little itneresting in his everyday existence to keep us interested. Unfortunately, in The Double it takes close to half of the novel's 300 pages for the protagonist to even get up the nerve to send a letter..."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The emperor has no clothes

On November 2nd Americans will go to the polls and hold an election. Hopefully this time the votes will be counted but alarm bells ring when we hear the Governor of Florida ridicule former President, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and all around good guy Jimmy Carter's concerns about the electoral process in Florida. This is particularly distressing because Mr. Carter has overseen and certified dozens of elections all over the world and is recognized as an eminent authority on holding fair elections! Given Florida's inability to hold fair elections last time around Jeb Bush would better devote his time (1) consulting with Mr. Carter on how to hold elections, (2) explaining butterfly ballots to senior citizens in his state, or (3) checking state rolls to make sure floridians are not being illegally disenfranchised. We absolutely want freedom for the Iraqui and Afghani people, for all people's really, but we also want to be free to vote in the US.

Americans by now have had nearly four years of George W. Bush's service as president. As he is an incumbent we can benefit from consulting his track record in weighing if his performance makes him deserving of four more years.

Nobody believes that being president of the United States of America is an easy task. We understand, Mr. Bush, that, as you so often reminded us during the first presidential debate, "'s hard work." But, when we elect our president we privilege that individual by depositing our collective trust in him to act in our best interests.

Because George W. Bush is an incumbent the first question, even before looking at possible alternatives, is if he interprets and executes our wishes appropriately. Unfortunately, it often seems that this President and his administration fail to realize that they work for us. They don't appear interested in hearing from us on what we wish for them to do and this makes the job, yes, harder than it need be. Rather, this President seeks to minimize contact with us and limit accountability for the actions undertaken. He has held the fewest press conferences of any sitting president in recent memory and when he actually meets with a select few of us (I stress he is working for us- he is our "public servant") he does so in carefully scripted, tightly controlled and pre-packaged townhall meetings open to those in agreement with and supportive of the president. Then when he, and his vice-president, are forced to debate on, and yes even defend, THEIR track record and future plans for US they seem peeved and unhappy. They emit a "how dare we have to stand up here and talk to these other pretenders to the throne" vibe all the while making faces. During the first presidential debate George Bush, public servant number one, visibly appeared to resent providing answers and defending his record in keeping us safe. Meanwhile, his Vice-President, Dick Cheney, on numerous issues simply refused to provide any answers as opposed to other issues where he simply answered questions of his own imagination (Mr. Cheney, the question was about AIDS in the US not Africa! the question was about JOBS!). The President and his team apparently believe that "democracy" is an exercise we undertake every four years while during the rest of the time we blindly follow their directives. Lucky for us we know that in reality democracy is a constant process where they follow us!

September 11, 2001 was a very bad day for americans. I am not as sure as the President and Vice-President, however, that because of September 11 everything must change. There were terrorist attacks on the US before September 11 and there will surely be attacks afterwards. Its not always popular being top dog. A lot of things have had to change and a lot more will continue to change. Yet life goes on despite September 11 and I still check to see if the Red Sox won last night, or Bob Dylan is still on the "never-ending" tour just like I did on September 10. There is little doubt that September 11, 2001 represents a huge failure of the government to keep us safe. I do not think much is accomplished by debating wether we should blame one administration or another. Yet however painful it may be for the administration to acknowledge the attack of September 11 happened under George W. Bush's leadership. A lot has happened since September 11th. Sometimes it seems another lifetime and sometimes I am a bit fatigued thinking back on all that has happened. But one of the things I believe we must do in deciding wether to reelect George Bush is look back at his response to September 11.

There is no doubt that attacking the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was the appropriate response given the fact the Taliban was providing safe-haven to Al Qaeda terrorists that attacked us (Mr. Bush, and I know you probably know this but just in case, the mastermind of September 11 WAS Osama Bin-Laden NOT Saddam Hussein). However, there is also little doubt that George W. Bush has been unable to bring Osama Bin-Laden to justice. The man who masterminded the attacks on us is at large. This constitutes failure. The inability to bring to justice the man responsible for killing 3000 citizens and destroying the lives of tens of thousands more is the second biggest failure of the Bush administration. Again, Mr. Bush, we understand its "...hard work" but thats why you get to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and drive around in fancy cars! Currently, opinion on the success of the war in Afghanistan is divided. The Bush administration emphasizes that Afghanistan is free, that women are free to go to school, that the Taliban has been destroyed, and that Afghanistan is about to hold democratic elections for President for which more than 10 million afghanis have registered to vote including millions of women. Some observers however point out that large sections of Afghanistan are under the control of warlords that in the past were sympathetic to or openly allied with the Taliban. Others mention that the number one afghani export consists of poppies used to make illegal drugs- heroin- sold to, among others, our people. Still others point to the fact that many international development non governmental organizations have left Afghanistan citing security concerns, or that the President of Afghanistan's helicopter was nearly blown up on a recent attempt to campaign outside of Kabul while the Vice President was very nearly killed this week, as ominous signs that a battle still rages. Regardless, it is clear that the Taliban are in hiding, and that President Bush has been able to somewhat internationalize efforts to rebuild Afghanistan and this must be recognized.

Yet one wonders what happened to the "we will hunt them down in their caves and kill them" cowboy spiel we used to get from the President.

to be continued/updated/edited

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

In case you are keeping score

I am not sure what the Government of Israel is thinking.... As Gandhi said "an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind." I think of my grandfather who when the state of Israel was created would send in his monthly contribution to support Israel. I think of my jewish roots. I can't help but feel that the current State of Israel has become its own worse enemy. I may not like the palestinian leadership (Yasser Arafat) but that does not excuse the things Israel is doing in Palestine.

The first interesting weekend read was in this Sunday's New York Times (p. 8 International). I quote fully and freely:

Intifada's Four Years
The second intifada has cost nearly 4,000 lives so far. Figures are from Sept. 29, 2000, to Sept. 15, 2004 and do not include 138 suicide bombers.

Palestinians * Killed By:
Israeli security forces 2,827
Israeli civilians 32
Palestinians 130

Israeli Civilians Killed By:
Palestinians 632
Foreign Citizens 3
Palestinian citizens of Israel 3

Israeli Security Forces Killed By:
Palestinians 284
Palestinian citizens of Israel 1

Foreign Citizens Killed By:
Palestinians 40
Israeli security forces 10

Palestinian Citizens of Israel Killed By:
Israeli security froces 17

*figures do not differentiate between Palestinian combatants and civilians

Sources Btselem, an Israeli human rights group; Israeli Foreign Ministry; Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group; BBC

Source for 47west63rd: New York Times, October 3

In addition yesterday, October 4, on NPR it was reported that 75 palestinians had been killed in Gaza (in the past month) by israeli security forces including 19 children (including a four year old girl). The source given was also Btselem the Israeli human rights group.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Debate Post-Debate

I find presidential debates fun to watch.. Andrew Sullivan on his blog over at makes some good points. I include some quotes here but please go over to his blog...


  • In tone and bearing, he seemed calm, authoritative, and, yes, presidential. I watched the C-SPAN version on a split screen, and in that context, it was particularly striking. In stark contrast to the Bush-Gore debates, it was Bush who was grimacing, furrowing his brow, almost rolling his eyes and at the very beginning, looking snippy and peevish.


  • His best line was in asserting very clearly that he has had one position on Iraq all along; that Saddam was a threat and that there was a right way and a wrong way to remove him; and the president chose the wrong way.


  • But the missed opportunities were stunning. At one point Kerry even got Bush to agree that terrorists were streaming over the border. And then he failed to ask why Bush hadn't sent enough troops to secure the border! He kept implying that the goal was to bring the troops home, and only at the very end did he assert that we were there to win, not to withdraw. Uh-oh. His assertion that WMD proliferation was the major threat to the U.S. was, on the other hand, very convincing - and by that point of the debate, the president was reduced to echoing him. In fact, Kerry was strongest, it seemed to me, at the very beginning, when his stature rose merely by being there, and at the very end, when he seemed commanding. He had the best closer.


  • On the more general point about alliances, Bush did well - espcially on the International Criminal Court, and on the need to base foreign policy fundamentally on the defense of the American people. More Americans will agree with him on this than with Kerry. Still, there were major weaknesses. If you believe, as I do, that the Iraq war is beginning to spiral downward, Bush was not reassuring. He seemed as out of it as ever. When Kerry rightly pointed out the failure of Bush to revamp the CIA or to secure Soviet nuclear material, Bush simply and sadly responded that every morning some guy comes in and briefs him on national security. Now I feel better. And you don't want to be the president who is forced to say, "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us." Moreover, his fundamental critique of Kerry - that by criticizing the war, he had made himself unworthy to be commander-in-chief - was dumb and border-line offensive. It implies that if you've ever criticized the president's war conduct, you cannot succeed him in office. Huh? By that logic, the only credible alternative to Bush is someone who has agreed with him every inch of the way. Memo to Bush: we live in a democracy.


  • Kerry has to gain, I think. At the very least, this was a draw on the president's most favorable turf. Afterward, only the Bush supporters seemed concerned that their candidate had lost ground. They should be. Watching Bush last night, I saw a president who sometimes didn't seem in control of his job, a man who couldn't and didn't defend the conduct of the war except to say that it was "hard work," who seemed defensive, tired, and occasionally rattled.

  • In some ways, this might turn out to be a version of the 1980 Carter-Reagan match, when Reagan was able to convince people, by his persona and presence, that he was up to the job. Yes, Bush is not as bad as Carter and Kerry is, of course, no Reagan. But the dynamic was somewhat similar. In other words, Kerry gets back in the game, reassures some doubters, buoys his supporters, and edges up a little. Oh, and one young man in the audience had just returned from serving his country in Iraq. Yes, he'd seen the war upfront. He knows what were doing over there first-hand. And he's voting for Kerry. - 2:04:19 AM

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