Friday, February 07, 2014

Interesting Perspective On The War On Terror

It started with tribal issues:
As he sees it, the use of unmanned aircraft as a leading counterinsurgency weapon has morphed into a campaign against tribal peoples generally, with the US president disposing of “Zeus-like power to hurl thunderbolts from the sky and obliterate anyone with impunity.”

...The fundamental error, according to Ahmed, is that US leaders believe they are facing a threat from enemies whose motivation is primarily ideological. This was clearly stated by President Obama in his speech at the National Defense University last May, when he said that most, though not all, of the terrorism faced by America
is fueled by a common ideology—a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam. And this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims, who are the most frequent victims of terrorist attacks.

...Apart from the brief reference to “tribal affiliation,” the September 11 report skates over the fact that all of these “muscle hijackers” hailed from the contiguous regions of al-Bahah and Asir or from the Wadi Hadhramaut in southern Yemen where Osama bin Laden’s own family came from. ... It goes so far as to state that “ethnicity generally was not a factor in the selection of operatives unless it was important for security or operational reasons.”

Ahmed, by contrast, sees ethnicity or tribal identity as the crucial factors in the recruitment of the hijackers. “Bin Laden,” he states, “was joined in his movement primarily by his fellow Yemeni tribesmen,” ten of whom came from the Asir tribes, including Ghamed, Zahran, and Bani Shahr. Indeed the only one of the nineteen hijackers without a tribal pedigree was Mohammed Atta, the Egyptian architect who led the operation and had much to do with its planning.

The Asiri background is highly significant because of the region’s history. ...In short, says Ahmed, while Western countries were appeasing the Saudis in order to secure their oil supplies, the Saudis were systematically destroying the Yemeni-Asiri culture. During the 1960s this process was exacerbated by the civil war that brought into Yemen 70,000 Egyptian troops who used poison gas alongside conventional weapons. Represented in the West as a Spanish-style conflict between “progressive” republicans backed by Egypt and “reactionary” royalists supported by Saudi Arabia, the war was really a conflict between tribal systems that had been drawn into supporting different sides.

The strategic demands of that war prompted the Saudi ruler, King Faisal (who had led the conquest of Asir on behalf of his father, ibn Saud, in the 1920s), to build the famous Highway 15 linking Mecca with the Hadhramaut valley in southern Yemen. The construction magnate who undertook this formidable feat of engineering was Mohammed bin Laden, father of Osama. Twelve of the September 11 hijackers came from towns that lie along this highway, a key strategic asset in the program of Saudi repression that accompanied the destruction of Asiri culture. Ahmed sees “resentment against the Saudi centers of power” as a “constant undercurrent of Asir society.”

...In contrast to Obama and his advisers, who identify “ideological extremism” as the primary motive for terror, Ahmed looks to the complex interactions between national state systems and tribal identities, as the latter react to the imposition of state authority. Like Hadji Murad, tribal leaders are torn between collaboration and resistance. While bin Laden himself may have become an ideologue, driven by a vision of global jihad against America, the Asiris and Yemenis who signed up as his “muscle hijackers” were motivated, he suggests, more by local considerations of honor and revenge, the usual responses of tribes that feel themselves threatened.

...It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the United States has been fighting the wrong war, with the wrong tactics, against the wrong enemy, and therefore the results can be nothing but wrong.

Breaking Your Neck

A 90-year-old doctor becomes a patient:
During that procedure, the drop in blood oxygen caused my heart to stop. I would certainly have died then had it not been for the medical team, who immediately started cardiopulmonary resuscitation efforts as oxygen was being pumped into my lungs through the tracheostomy. I was also given injections of drugs to stimulate my heart. Within two minutes my heartbeat resumed, but during the next fifteen minutes or so, my heart stopped twice more—each time responding within about a minute to CPR.

Seriously? Four Inches?

Our first significant rain storm since December, 2012. I seriously doubt we're going to approach four inches of rain with this storm, as they say here, or 4.4", like they were saying last night on the teevee - but I'd like to try!:
The main event will begin Friday evening when a bigger, wetter storm blows in from the Pacific Ocean, bringing with it a significant amount of subtropical moisture.

Officials expect half an inch of rain by Saturday morning, two inches by Sunday morning and a total of nearly four inches when all is said and done. The storm will taper off Sunday night and linger until Monday morning.

Jay Leno's Last Night

It was fun. Jimmy Fallon will be a good replacement.

There's Gold In Them Thar' Hills!

Who wants to be a gazillionaire!:
The Gold Rush of 1849 it isn’t. But the real possibility of finding new gold – even a few flakes – has people giddy. Prospectors say unusually low rivers are opening up areas that haven’t been touched by man in decades, if not over a century.

...The patch of Bear River near Campground Road resembled a creek, containing exposed rocks and small islands. Prospectors in waterproof boots walked through the gentle current with ease.

Nearby, truck driver Michael Albin, 33, was settling down into a spot with his friend and fiancée. Thursday was Albin’s second stab at prospecting, but he quickly found a gold chip in his pan about one-fourth the size of a pea.

“When you see the black sand, you’ll see the gold,” said Albin, reciting a tip he learned from experienced prospectors.

So far, Albin said he’s purchased $100 worth of equipment, including multiple buckets, pans and a sifter. By summer, when the water falls even more, he expects to shell out $1,000 more for a sluice box, which can process much more material than a pan.

No one expects to strike it rich. For most, panning is just a hobby and a way to enjoy the outdoors. Professional miners are all but nonexistent in the region because of a moratorium on dredging, the act of using a motorized machine to suck and sort sediment.

I've Been Experimenting With Taking Fewer Showers

With this intense California drought, 2014 is going to be a tough, tough, tough time! Time to start adapting, just like the Iranian who hasn't taken a bath in sixty years.

I went four days this week without a shower (although I do wash my hair and face daily in the sink) - not yet up to a sixty years hiatus. Still, the period did encompass two Fierce Funk workouts at the gym.

In years past, I've developed a rash on my calves every winter: usually at its worst in March. Despite my upper-body greasy skin, the rash seems to develop because of (or is aggravated by) too-frequent bathing. This year, the rash is quite mild. Less bathing is good for you!

I still haven't taken up smoking a pipe filled with animal dung. The trending term for pyrolyzing any old garbage leaf is "biochar". I'll leave that habit to take up in 2015. The ultimate in recycling!

Australian TV Commercials of the Sixties

Australians have colorful expressions that work well in advertising. I remember a can of dog food of the discount variety. The label featured a terrier and proclaimed "CHUM - with Chicken." Chum's motto was: "So Chumpy, You Can Carve It!" Best slogan ever!

"Her" As Eliza Doolittle

Good point!:
Samantha grew with Theodore until she began to grow outside of him. When she starts to focus on her own needs, when her existence no longer depends on Theodore, he becomes increasingly unhappy — even jealous.

Report On "Metástasis"

Here's an interesting report on the Spanish-language version of "Breaking Bad", called "Metástasis". Since "Breaking Bad" was so popular in Spanish-speaking countries, there was lots of skepticism to overcome regarding this knock-off. Myself, I think it's a nearly-impossible task, which I guess is what makes it an interesting project:
"The hardest part of the show to translate, though, may be the defining trait of "Breaking Bad": its moral complexity, the way it leaves your sympathies constantly seesawing between Walt and his victims. In this, it could hardly be more different from that staple of Latin American programming, the telenovela, with its frothy mix of dashing heroes and dashing rogues."

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Chinese New Year, Of Course!


Missouri Rules

States Rights for me but not for thee:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's attorney general has asked a federal court to strike down a California law regulating the living conditions of chickens, setting up a cross-country battle that pits new animal protections against the economic interests of Midwestern farmers.

The lawsuit by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster takes aim at a California law set to take effect in 2015 that prohibits eggs from being sold there if they come from hens raised in cages that don't comply with California's new size and space requirements.

Koster said Tuesday that the California law infringes on the interstate commerce protections of the U.S. Constitution by effectively imposing new requirements on out-of-state farmers.

"If California legislators are permitted to mandate the size of chicken coops on Missouri farms, they may just as easily demand that Missouri soybeans be harvested by hand or that Missouri corn be transported by solar-powered trucks," Koster said.

...California voters approved a ballot initiative in 2008 that required egg-laying hens, pigs and calves to be raised with enough space to allow the animals to lie down, stand up, turn around and fully extend their limbs. The measure gave farmers until 2015 to comply with the provisions.

...Missouri farmers produce about 1.7 billion eggs annually and sell about one-third of those — about 540 million eggs — in California, according to Koster's lawsuit. He said that makes Missouri the second-largest egg exporter to California, behind only Iowa.

Many of Missouri's hens are raised in tight cages that won't meet California's new standards. Koster said Missouri farmers would have to spend about $120 million to remodel their cages or forgo sales to one of their most important markets, which could force some Missouri egg producers out of business.

Ruben Navarrette Unimpressed With The GOP

Legal status would do, but there is no assurance of getting that:
In the preamble, there is the absurd claim that immigration laws "are not being enforced."

Really? With President Barack Obama and the Department of Homeland Security on track to have deported 3.5 million people by the time Obama leaves office, how much more enforcement would Boehner and other Republicans like? Unless, of course, their goal is to remove every single illegal immigrant from the United States — all 11 million — and anything less than that signals a lack of resolve. If so, good luck reaching that goal.

Also, Republicans declare that border security and interior enforcement must come first.

...Massey notes that the walls and fences we've built in the last 20 years have made it more difficult for undocumented immigrants in the United States to return to Mexico even for a visit because they're afraid that it will be too difficult to re-enter. So they stay put on this side of the border, where they start families and put down roots.

...As for what we should do with illegal immigrants who are already here, the Republicans hit the sweet spot by offering what the undocumented really want (legal status) without bothering with what many of them don't care about (citizenship).

For so-called "dreamers" — young people brought here by their parents — Republicans do even better by offering a path to legal residence and citizenship if they join the military or get a college degree. Sound familiar? It's the DREAM Act that the majority of Republicans voted against in 2010. Now the GOP leaders are onboard.

Or are they?

Lots Of Weather Records Were Set In January

Tom Meyer cartoon.

Too many records were set:
The capital city broke record high temperatures on eight days and tied four records, according to the National Weather Service. Another astonishing fact: Daytime high temperatures were above normal every day.

“We rewrote the history books,” said Brooke Bingaman, a weather service meteorologist in Sacramento. “The fact that we had so many record-breaking phenomena in one month indicates an abnormal situation.”

California's Sudden Vulnerability Means Political Attack

It's going to be a grim year:

Meanwhile, the House Republicans have decided to rip into California's soft underbelly:
The agricultural interests that are behind the Republican bill see the water that is being allocated to environmental protection as wasted. There are a number of complicated issues involved in California's water problems. However, this is a major environmental issue and one that will continue to be at the center of the political controversies.

Memory From 1970, And A Hope

During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, my dad bought the family a portable radio, to help us survive nuclear annihilation. It sat in storage until 1969, when I discovered it could receive stations from nearly a 1,000 miles away, and thus was a portal to a much-wider world. I started listening to rock-and-roll AM radio (KQEO - Albuquerque).

This song was extremely popular in early 1970, but for some reason is rarely-mentioned when Oldies come up. It's never played on the radio these days. It represents my hope for the approaching storm this weekend in northern California:

Still Annoyed By The Fairly-Xenophobic Reaction To The Super Bowl Coca Cola Ad

Still annoyed by the fairly-xenophobic reaction to the Super Bowl Coca Cola ad. One of the singers, Christy Bird, is from Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico. She sings America the Beautiful in Keres, a language only spoken there:
Many in the Native American community are rallying around Christy Bird, who sang in the Keres language in the commercial, saying they’re proud of what she did.
Several of the scenes in the extended ad were filmed in New Mexico. It's part of the United States! It's been a state for a century! Widen your horizons a bit!

Fun Historical Photos

Fun stuff!

"First morning after Sweden changed from driving on the left side to driving on the right, 1967"

Oh, Tennis!

Seven a.m. E. wakes me up to make a Big Announcement:
"The Sacramento Kings are leaving town, for Las Vegas"
M.: (Mmmppphhh? That doesn't make any sense. They've kept the NBA out of there for years, because of the gambling.)

(Later, I get up and look at the paper.)

M.: Where does it say the Sacramento Kings are leaving town?

E.: Right here. See?
The Sacramento Capitals of World Team Tennis called it a match Tuesday, saying they would leave town after a lengthy run that included six league championships but plenty of financial turmoil, especially in recent seasons. The team has been renamed the Las Vegas Neon.
E.: Oh, tennis! Never mind!


E.: MMMMMAAAARRRRCCCCC! Am I going to die?

M.: No, you're not going to die.

E.: What are these psychotines?:
In H1N1, the country is confronting a particularly virulent strain of influenza. Once in the lungs, it replicates more quickly than other strains, triggering the body’s immune system. The immune system then overreacts to the force of the virus. A phenomenon called a “cytokine storm” kicks in. Cytokines are proteins that promote inflammation in response to infection.

Normally, cytokines help the body by flushing out fluids from blood and lymphatic vessels. But, Kasirye said, “When the vessels are inflamed, they start to leak fluid, and so people get more fluid in their lungs. It creates a perfect storm. The immune system reacting to the virus goes haywire and attacks the body.”
M.: It's like an inflammation. The flu doesn't kill you directly. It gets your body to overreact, and that's what kills you.

E.: You and C. are barbarians! You go outside and touch the rake and the ground and then you come inside and touch the food!

M.: (Blowing nose) Well, that's how....

E.: Eeeee! Germs!

RIP - 31 Years Ago

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Colbert On The "It's Beautiful" Coca-Cola Video

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Canadian Health Regulator Scorned

Global Pharmacy Canada was revealed to be based in Belize, with the drugs shipped from India, and offices in Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic (June, 2013 link). There is also now a booming business in dogging online pharmacies on behalf of Big Pharma. The logic has some merit - maintain high standards in drug regulation - but the effect is to maintain indefensibly-high drug prices in the United States. So, the ethics are complicated. Real complicated.

Also interesting is that most Global Pharmacy customers were well-aware the drugs weren't coming from Canada. Apart from the Canadian address, the company has been honest and forthright about what it does. The Robin Hoods of the world often are forthright:
Global Pharmacy is in business to assist our global customer base with access to low cost worldwide pricing on medications. Many of our customers are on a limited incomes, finding room in their budget for medications sometimes is a difficult one. People should not have to make the choice about putting food on their table or purchase their needed medications. By using our services they do not have to make this choice.

Working On The Non-Functional Sprinkler System, With Joe The Plumber

Sitting in the Carl's Jr. on El Camino, near Del Paso, on Superbowl Sunday:

M: Do you have a favorite in the game?

Old Man: No, not a team; just the sport. I was a high school athlete! I just love it!

M.: That's nice!

J.: Like I was saying, things were fine in America until the Europeans came. Then they whipped our asses. But that's only because the Hebrews were whipping their asses. That's why, when Hitler first came along, he made a lot of sense. People didn't get that he was going to whip their asses too. Like I'm going to do with this guy here.....

(All this time, a patron at a nearby table was laughing. And twitching. Laughing and twitching. Twitching, and laughing, and nearly falling over. In most restaurants, patrons would slowly get up and ease away and maybe even call the police. This was the 'hood, however, where people are made of sterner stuff. So, families with little children quietly sat and politely ignored the Laughing Twitching Man as he stood up, bent over as if pretending to be a bull, and started running up and down the aisles of the restaurant.)

J.: Did I ever tell you that I had amnesia?

M.: That time you got beat up at the Stoney Inn and went to UCD Med Center for a week.

J.: No, not that time. When I was in the military!

M.: No.

J.: They feed you food that makes you forget. So you never, ever question orders.

M.: How do you know for sure?

J.: Good point.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Inappropriate Nazi Analogy Of The Day

"Naze Jedi" (Marysville Blvd. & Bell Ave., near Del Paso Heights).

Can't these people spell?

Prairie Oysters!

You know you're missing the "Cabaret" cast when all you think about when trying to decide what to do with the show's leftovers are Prairie Oysters.


It's Albuquerque!

Highly-amused that at least one image in the extended highly-controversial Superbowl Coca-Cola ad is taken from the immediate neighborhood of "Breaking Bad" sites in Albuquerque, NM (4th & Pacific SW: h/t Miguel S. Jaramillo), and there may be others. I was a supporter of this ad before, but now I'm a raging supporter!

Update: Continuing to stoke the New Mexico patriotic theme in the extended Coca-Cola video:

Stop and Eat Drive-In, Highway 84/285 & Oñate, Española, NM.

Moonlight Rollerway, 5110 San Fernando Rd., Glendale, CA.

1960 Australian Coca-Cola Ad

Hard To Believe The "It's Beautiful" Coca-Cola Ad Is Controversial

But it is!

There has been a vigorous discussion regarding the ad over on Nick Gerlich's Facebook page (Gerlich is a Marketing professor, so it's right up his alley). Most of the negatory posts concern whether a potentially-controversial ad should be aired at all when it should have been known in advance that there might be trouble.

I maintain that controversy was the point. Pepsi and Coca Cola are locked in eternal combat, and it's hard to make an advance without taking risks.

"The average Mexican drinks more Coke products than the average American, British, Indian, and Chinese combined. On average, Mexicans drink 665 servings of Coke products each year. Americans drink 399, British 202, Chinese 32, and Indian 9 -- which comes out to 642 servings"

I went hunting for Australian Coca-Cola controversies involving ethnicity or nationalism. They've had controversies involving environmentalism, gay marriage, and casual sex, but so far have avoided others (witness a studious avoidance of aborigines or immigrants in their ads). This is about the closest, where a potentially-controversial rhetorical question is posed (and answered) but as far as I know, not controversial:

[Update 1: Highly-amused that at least one image in the extended highly-controversial Superbowl Coca-Cola ad is taken from the immediate neighborhood of "Breaking Bad" sites in Albuquerque, NM (4th & Pacific SW: h/t Miguel S. Jaramillo), and there may be others. I was a supporter of this ad before, but now I'm a raging supporter!]

[Update 2: Continuing to stoke the New Mexico patriotic theme in the extended Coca-Cola video:

Stop and Eat Drive-In, Highway 84/285 & Oñate, Española, NM.

Moonlight Rollerway, 5110 San Fernando Rd., Glendale, CA.]

[Update 3: Still annoyed by the fairly-xenophobic reaction to the Super Bowl Coca Cola ad. One of the singers, Christy Bird, is from Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico. She sings America the Beautiful in Keres, a language only spoken there:
Many in the Native American community are rallying around Christy Bird, who sang in the Keres language in the commercial, saying they’re proud of what she did.
Several of the scenes in the extended ad were filmed in New Mexico. It's part of the United States! It's been a state for a century! Widen your horizons a bit!]