Friday, May 09, 2008

Beginner’s Mind

Happy 5-year Blogiversary to my friend Robert Shearer and his blog Beginner’s Mind.
Robert hasn’t been posting a lot recently as he has had a lot of medical issues to deal with, but he is hanging in there. His blog focuses a lot on his interests in Buddhism.
We also have a joint blog called Theme and Variations that we use to explore our interests in classical and jazz music.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The other “surge”

This is a deeply disturbing story that hasn’t received much attention:

No Afghan troop surge

The Pentagon has said that any sizeable increase in much-needed US forces in Afghanistan will depend on deeper troop cuts in Iraq than currently planned.

Military commanders, worried about a persistent and growing Taliban challenge, have said they require up to three more brigades, or about 10,000 troops, to fill gaps in a NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

But Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell made clear that relief in Afghanistan can only come from Iraq, where US forces now find themselves embroiled in a bloody struggle with Shiite militias.

"We really have to get down in Iraq below 15 brigade combat teams for us to consider adding multiple additional brigades to Afghanistan," Morrell told reporters Tuesday.

"So, not until we get to that point can we even consider that prospect," he said.

So, we can’t take care of business in Afghanistan because we are stuck in Iraq. This pretty much sums up the sorry state of our national defense right now and the total mismanagement of our troops by the near-criminally negligent and incompetent Bush administration.
How can anyone say that Iraq is not, by definition, a quagmire at this point? A quagmire that is negatively affecting our military operations in other parts of the world. We can’t afford to be there if that is the case. The fact that Republicans got us into the mess and are now doing nothing to get us out of it is a clear indication that they are not fit for political leadership. Before anyone casts a vote for a Republican for any position above dogcatcher, they need to consider this very seriously.

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

The Democratic primary race is over. The elite, Washington establishment, conventional wisdom, talking heads declared it so last night. It doesn’t matter what Hillary does now, it’s officially over.
Actually, it’s been over for some time now, at least as far back as before the Texas primary. But this is the first time the opinionmakers in Washington have been willing to acknowledge that truth.
It was really quite amazing to watch last night as it slowly dawned on the talking heads that Obama was doing much better than they had anticipated. Rather than a blowout win for Hillary in Indiana and a tight race in North Carolina, it had gone the other way. Obama did better in North Carolina than Hillary had done in Pennsylvania and Indiana was considered too close to call until well past midnight. I mostly watched MSNBC because CNN’s coverage is so atrocious (their political analyst team consisted of two Hillary supporters and two Republicans). So the first person I heard state the obvious was Tim Russert, and after that it was like the scales fell off the eyes of the other pundits and they could see clearly for the first time. They started to acknowledge a grudging respect for Obama. After weeks of pounding him relentlessly with the Rev. Wright, “Bittergate” and other manufactured controversies, Obama had surprised them and done better than expected.
From this point on, if Hillary stays in the race she will be treated with the same disdain that Mike Huckabee saw after it was clear to everyone that John McCain had the Republican race sewed up. Before last night, she was still viewed as a viable candidate. Now she will be seen as a pretender, an annoyance, a “why are you still here? candidate. And the longer she drags it out, the worse it will get. It’s over.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Something amiss

I hate watching the Spurs lose. I just can’t handle it. I get too worked up about the game and it just becomes unenjoyable. I just have to walk away and change the channels.
Of course, I’d never do that if I were watching the game live - I’m no 2 percenter. But I have no qualms about changing the channel. I usually record the games on my DVR, but if it was a blowout loss, I just delete it with out watching.
Maybe I’m being a bad fan, but I can’t help it. The point of watching a game if for the enjoyment and it just kills me to see the Spurs fall apart like they did in the 3rd Quarter last night.
The Spurs represent all that is goodness and light in the universe. If they lose then something is terribly amiss. It’s like watching Barack Obama fall behind Hillary Clinton in the polls. It’s just not right!
Oh well. Maybe the Spurs will come back on their home court. Maybe Tim or Tony or Manu will have a good night. There is always hope. And if not, they had a good season anyway and got further than a lot of people thought they would.
It won’t be the end of the world, even though it might feel that way.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Is Our Kids Reading?

A new study purports to show what school children are reading these days.

My kids aren’t old enough to read on their own yet, but I read a lot of books to them every evening and I was happy to see I’ve already got almost the enitre First Grade reading list covered.
We read lots of Dr. Seuss including many that are not on the list. I was surprised to see The Foot Book so high up on the reading list, however, (going all the way up to 2nd Grade) since it is so basic and there are many other Seuss books better suited to those age levels.
Seuss is represented on the list by Green Eggs and Ham; The Foot Book; Hop on Pop; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; and Cat in the Hat.
Then they have several other favorites of our including Clifford the Big Red Dog; The Very Hungry Caterpillar; If You Give a Mouse a Cookie; and Goodnight Moon.
On the Second Grade list we read Where the Wild Things Are and on the Third Grade list we read The Polar Express.

Some of my kids’ other favorite books include:
Owl Babies
Big Red Barn
Put Me In the Zoo
A Zoo for Mister Muster
Poky Little Puppy
Scruffy the Tugboat
Many Moons
Curious George
Winnie the Pooh
and lots of other Disney books.

Great Derangement

This sounds like a fun book:

Kind of sad that it had to be written. Let’s just hope there won’t be a need to write a sequel after November rolls around.