This is some interesting analysis of the WikiLeaks data in terms of how the U.S. and other nations may deal with Iran. David Frum writes:
But here’s the ghastliest irony of the leak. If it was Julian Assange’s intention to use information hacked from U.S. computer systems to protect Iran from U.S. military action, he has very likely massively failed at his own purpose.
The leak makes military conflict between Iran and the United States more likely, not less. The leak has changed the political equation in ways that reduce the restraint on U.S. policy.
I don't have any idea why Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has made this his mission in life. I don't want us to go to war with anyone, much less Iran, but there is more support for explicit action against Iran than was previously supposed.
29 November 2010
This is some interesting analysis of the WikiLeaks data in terms of how the U.S. and other nations may deal with Iran. David Frum writes:
28 November 2010
I'm not sure if many people are familiar with the WikiLeaks website (I think that name is stupid). It's aim is to reveal the unrevealed and the classified, regardless of the costs. It is run by a shady character, and over the last 6-9 months has been releasing in lumps the secret communications of the U.S. Military and now, the State Department.
As an American, some would say a jingoistic American, I view this as a net negative for the country. It reveals a weakness in both our systems for safeguarding data AND weakness in the character of at least one person with access to it. I hope he rots in jail. Just the same, some of the information contained in this most recent release is very interesting. Since it is out there, why not read it?
The New York Times has a helpful summary of the more interesting parts of these diplomatic cables. They cover a large period of time, with the vast majority dealing with 2007 to the present.
As with any setback, this event CAN be used to our advantage. A little more honesty is a good thing. Unfortunately, this is unintentional honesty, and that creates some treacherous dynamics. Where we have our more skilled diplomats we should be in good shape. I just don't have any idea where that happens to be the case.
BYU lost a heartbreaker to the Utes. Miami lost in overtime, at home, and is looking for a new head coach. Not a lot of be happy about, football-wise, but you will love this amazing play by an Oklahoma State defensive back:
They lost the game, but what a play!
27 November 2010
These are scenes from last years overtime victory of BYU over Utah.
I don't know that we are good enough to beat Utah this year. We have improved dramatically. It should be a good game (3:30 EST on CBS College Sports).
26 November 2010
If your Black Friday shopping has included an automobile, you might be interested in this discussion of how the new, all-electric Nissan Leaf has it's mileage calculated by the Federal Government..
Electric cars won't eliminate pollution, at least they can't yet. They just cause that pollution to come at a different point and through a different means (your local power plant). Whether THAT energy is more desirable than burning gas depends on many factors.
25 November 2010
We have a tradition in our family to spend a few minutes during Thanksgiving dinner sharing some of the things for which we are thankful. As we did that today, I was impressed by something that my brother-in-law said. Hopefully he doesn't mind me sharing it here.
He mentioned how he has been amazed at how the capacity to love is not limited. In other words, love is an open sum game. There is not a finite quantity of it available. As family members are added, through childbirth or marriage, the ability to love is increased. I have felt this in my life, especially at the birth of one of my children. It also extends to those friendships that have and continue to enrich my life.
I have a lot to be thankful for, my health and country included, but my family is most important.
24 November 2010
In other words, when politicians claim that the only way to reduce the deficit is to combine tax increases with spending cuts, we should be skeptical, BECAUSE IT NEVER HAPPENS. Their research has shown that for every dollar of tax increases, more than one dollar of spending follows.
Some might say, "this time we will do better, this time we will learn from the past." We should be very, very skeptical, especially when Congress has such a terrible record. Cut spending, and then I will be willing to co sider other remedies.
23 November 2010
This is an interesting story about how the efforts to plug the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico were affected by one single photograph. It is a nice look into how complex processes can be shaped by the smallest inputs, and this includes major events like the oil spill and the financial crisis. This is an interesting excerpt:
Before the cap was put in place, officials had established pressure levels that would tell them whether everything was OK, there was trouble and the cap had to be removed immediately, or whether it was a wait-and-see situation. The pressure readings were in the wait-and-see zone, but political appointees discussed it further and there was a push to remove the cap. Coast Guard Admiral Kevin Cook urged officials to give the cap more time, then Hsieh's analysis swayed them.
To Paul Fischbeck, a professor of decision science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, this part of the report was scary.
"It became a political decision that they didn't want to risk having this big blowout," said Fischbeck, who wasn't part of the commission. "You set up a logical reasonable process and in the heat of the moment all these factors creep in and it pulls you off what you had logically decided to do. And that is very dangerous when it happens."
I have only eaten fried turkey once, at my brother-in-law's house a few years ago. It was probably the best turkey that I have ever eaten, helped no doubt by the marinade injected into the bird.
Ever since that Thanksgiving I have wanted to enjoy it again, but just haven't gotten around to it. This year my parents are on turkey duty, and it will be the traditional roasted kind. Maybe next time we will opt for the fryer.
If you plan to go the fried route, here is a helpful guide from Popular Mechanics.
21 November 2010
I studied the FARC, a Colombian terrorist group, while a college student. For decades they harassed the Colombian government, eventually gaining control of a large swath of territory in the late 90's/early 2000's. According to this report, the FARC have lost another leader due to Colombian military action.
This is a serious blow to a group that has seen significant hits to it's leadership in recent years. It is u questionably good news. The FARC is an evil organization, and their continued decline is good news for Colombia and the United States.
20 November 2010
19 November 2010
I've never had serious depression. I don't typically feel sad for prolonged periods, though like everyone, I've had occasion to be melancholy in my life. I am certain I have never been clinically depressed. This makes it hard to conceptualize the mental processes of someone in that situation.
SI has an article about Kenny McKinley, a Denver Broncos wide receiver who took his own life earlier this year. His death provides a reminder that money, athletic performance, and fame cannot provide happiness where deeper and more pressing voids remain.
18 November 2010
BYU has greatly improved since the beginning of the football season. Jake Heaps, our freshman quarterback, seems to have found his stride. A win this weekend will make us bowl eligible, and I still hold out hope for a surprise victory over Utah to end the regular season. Here are some pictures from my trip to the game.
In other good news, the University of Miami has received a $5 million donation to its athletic program that will allow some nice improvements to their facilities.
16 November 2010
The TSA is in the news these days, and it is not a pretty sight. Despite many claims that images from body scanning machines would not, could not be saved, according to this report they have.
A Forbes blogger advocates for the abolition of the TSA, on the basis that it has not improved safety and more often violates civil rights. I think he makes some good points, though I'm not sure abolition of the agency is possible or beneficial.
There is an interesting story anout a man who refused both the body scan and the pat-down. Apparently, it is against the rules to leave a screening area once you have entered it if screening is not complete.
More to come, I'm sure.
14 November 2010
I want to post two interestIng opinion pieces from the Washington Post. The first one is by columnist Charles Krauthammer, who defends the president's recent trip to Asia as both necessary and appropriate, expensive or not. You can find it here.
The second is a piece by two Democratic strategists, who had worked for the Clinton and Carter administrations, who suggest that, to be successful as a president, Obama should declare that he will not run for President in 2012. I think this is highly unlikely to occur, and might not yield the results that they hope for.
For one thing, who would believe him? As the authors state, he doesn't have a lot of credibility with the right. I woud also argue that, having been less than stringent in adherence to his campaign promises, some might suspect that he would decide to run at a later time if his fortunes improved. Maybe the authors intend this to occur.
Secondly, would it really make him a better president? Would he be able to compromise? Or would it make him more strident. Coming from my admittedly Republican perspective, I don't think he has demonstrated capacity for compromise thus far, despite ample opportunity.
It could work. I'm just doubtful.
13 November 2010
I'm in Denver, CO right now. A few years ago we decided that we (my college roommates and I) would get together to watch a BYU football game at least every other year. We live in Florida, Canada, Missouri, California, Colorado. This is the first year some of us have been able to do so, and we will be attending the BYU-Colorado State game later today.
It is very cold here. My Florida bones are not used to it, so I sit here at 6:30 contemplating whether I should do my customary 2 mile run at 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
We're having a great time. We saw the movie Unstoppable which was excellent, ate some fantastic burgers at a place called Smashburger, played pool, got some wings, hit laser tag and then played cards until late.
Aside from spending time with Lacy and the kids, there is hardly anything better than spending time with some of my best friends. I may post a video later today for AweVidSat. We'll see.
10 November 2010
Depends on who you ask. This post was prompted by an article on the subject of gender-neutral names, for boys in particular. The piece is so full of inane quotes by parents obsessed with their own self image (and self loathing?) that I could not hope to expose you to their fulness. But here is a sample:
I was a child of the ’70s, my parents were children of the ’40s, and I’m trying to teach my sons you don’t have to be so traditional, to reflect more of a global culture, to open them up to different family structures and different orientations...
“With the new masculinity, wanting men to be involved fathers, to have close friendships, to really be compassionate, are all things my husband and I thought about when we gave our son his name,” said Katherine Woods-Morse, who works for a foundation in Portland, Oregon, and whose now 12-year-old son is named Paxton.
Woods-Morse chose names for her children—she also has a daughter named Torin—before she knew their genders, an effort to counteract stereotyping. “We very specifically wanted to not put a lot of gender role pressure on our children with their names, though we also didn’t want to embarrass them by going with something too feminine for a boy or too masculine for a girl.
“Pax means peace, but it’s got a strong feeling and a very masculine ending without being too butch,” said Woods-Morse. “It doesn’t leave behind the best parts of traditional masculinity—strength and taking responsibility—but it still keeps you guessing about who is this individual.”
I am a traditionalist at heart. My son is named after me, and I am named after my father, so it makes sense that I would be dismissive of this trend. The article mentions how the name trend is not always an overt expression of the supposed "new masculinity," just an effort to be creative. I don't have a problem with the names, just the belief that they will imbue the child with the ability to somehow live up to this ideal that may or may not ultimately be a good thing.
Whatever. The bottom line is that a child's view of the world will depend on much more than their name.
09 November 2010
Everyone. Unfortunately we do not always cultivate and maintain the kinds of relationships that provide real happiness. Even more than that, deep friendships may provide health benefits according to this article from the WSJ.
Things like Facebook provide the illusion of intimacy. They are useful, and often enjoyable, but they should not be mistaken for the kind of friendship that can change our lives for the better. The article focuses on a study done using 2000 women, but I think similar conclusions can be drawn for men as well.
08 November 2010
He ate food like Doritos and Twinkies, with the only restriction being his daily caloric consumption. Interestingly, many of the other indicators of health, such as cholesterol and blood pressure, improved after his experiment.
In sum, if you want to lose weight, EAT LESS. Shocking.
07 November 2010
I thought this was an interesting "compare & contrast" from the WSJ. I can't fault the aims expressed here by Rand Paul. On the other hand, I think Roy Blunt is emblematic of all that has been wrong with the Republican Party, and this interview does nothing to reassure me.
06 November 2010
05 November 2010
Palin is a "nincompoop."
President Obama is "This wet blanket, this occupier of the least interesting corner of the faculty lounge, this joy-free zone, this inert gas."
In this WSJ column Peggy Noonan minces no words.
I like quite a lot of what she wrote, especially this:
Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can't just bully them, you can't just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.
04 November 2010
Lacy is out of town for a getaway with her mom and sisters. They are in Las Vegas and expect to relax, eat lots of good food, and see some of the shows.
03 November 2010
There are elements of Tea Party philosophy that I identify with, but I don't feel that movement defines my politics. I think deficit reduction will have to be more incremental at the outset, and many tea partiers are in favor of some drastic measures that I think would be harmful at this point. I admire the grassroots nature of the movement, and I am glad that they helped make yesterday successful for conservatives.
Jim DeMint is one of the few Senators who embraced the Tea Party movement. He has some advice for incoming conservative senators, and I think it is wise counsel.
02 November 2010
I like to stay up late on election nights. Up until the 2008 election, the news was often to my liking. I didn't realize that only two years would need to pass before I saw the result that I would prefer.
Barack Obama is responsible for his political misfortunes. Whatever the state of the Union when he assumed office, his talk of political cooperation was belied by his abdication of leadership during the crafting of the early 2009 stimulus package. He allowed the partisan leadership of the House and Senate to push an ineffective and huge spending bill through Congress, giving his implicit (by silence) and explicit (by signing) approval to the process.
This pattern continued with the opaque health care reform and the massive and uncertain financial reform bill. A good insight comes from Howard Dean, of all people:
There was a misunderstanding of the kind of change people wanted. DemocratsI feel comfortable saying that the President didn't do anything to meet that last desire. His idea of non-partisanship was for Republicans to go along with his party's initiatives. Now that there is a change of fortune for the Democrats, we will hear the same theme.
wanted policy change. Independents and Republicans wanted to change the way
business was done in Washington, and that really hasn't happened.
It is now incumbent on the Democratic party, not Republicans, to offer their willingness to compromise. The President needs to change his strident and incessantly politicized message machine to reflect our current political reality.
If he doesn't, the GOP can stymie him until he loses in 2012. I think it is that simple.
Republicans didn't win every possible race. They had good chances in California (Senate & Governorship) and some other states. I don't mind a bit that Christine O'Donnell lost, though I do wish we had defeated Blumenthal in Connecticut.
The National Republican Party is not responsible for much of this success. The Florida State Republican party might be even more inept. Neither will see a dollar from me at any foreseeable point.
I hope that Obama takes a lesson from Clinton post-1994. I don't know if he has the personal strength to make that adjustment. I hope that he does.
I won't be happy until some beneficial legislation is passed. The Health Care reform needs to be amended (at minimum). The Bush tax cuts should be extended, as they will stimulate economic growth and tax receipts as well. Still, this is a pretty good night.
01 November 2010
I enjoyed this article about Republican Senatorial candidate Marco Rubio. He is the only candidate or party to which I donated any money this electoral season.
He is a clear favorite in tomorrow's election.