Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No Soy Un Soldado

There is an old Chinese saying: "Do not point out the splinter in your brother's eye when you have a log in yours." It's a pretty fucking bizarre saying. First thing, what sort of woodshop are you running when you've got wood floating around in each other's eye? Second, if you got a log in your eye, you wouldn't be saying "Hey bro, you got a splinter in your eye" but "HOLY SHIT I'VE GOT A FUCKING LOG IN MY EYE CALL FUCKING 911!!!!"

But the point is simple: don't be messing around in other people's business when there's stuff going on nearby which is going to seriously mess your life up, such as a log in your eye. That'll mess your life up worse than drugs.

I read this article on MSNBC about this dude they call the "Stewmaker." Sounds interesting. Interesting morphs into curious/morbid when I drop the fact that he works with the Mexican drug cartels into the mix. Apparently, his job was to dissolve the victims of whatever drug related violence the cartels ran into acid to dissolve the bodies.

The Mexican drug war has been sailing under the radar while the United States has been basically earning the ire of anyone who adheres to the Muslim faith. Mexico has always been fairly nutty (if you've seen Man on Fire with Denzel Washington, you know what I'm referring to). Now we've got Mexican drug cartels who have their fingers so far up the rear end of the government that their fingernails are tickling the tonsils running a little too close to the border of the United States. Incursions have occurred as well, an issue that should be addressed.

Now the United States did try catching the last guy who seriously tried dicking around with the United States (it was during a war as well) and it wasn't the most effective thing in the world, but at least the United States did something drastic. It's understandable that the United States has limited capabilities right now, but it's less understandable to let the Mexicans pose a threat so close to the national borders.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Congratulations to the Arizona Cardinals for making it into the Super Bowl. Honestly, I don't know how you maintained a semblance of the ability to play football, after essentially mailing it in for the second half of the season, with a QB who was 10 years removed from his last Super Bowl and bounced around more than a rusty pinball in a Coney Island arcade. In addition, the last time they made the playoffs they were still in the midwest somewhere. Furthermore, they were supposed to lose to the Falcons, the Panthers, and the Eagles.

And congrats to the Steelers. Big Ben managed to not colossally mess up (unlike some other QBs) and also had a defense lead by Polumalu, who is most likely certified insane (have you seen his hair?). Also have to give props to their coach, who is actually a year younger than Kurt Warner.

And they meet in the Super Bowl. The geratric Cinderella leading a team who was futility personified for decades and also the backup to some pretty boy in the beginning of the season meets the team led by Big Ben and his team of crazed defenders and some other dudes who are on the field the other half of the game.

I'm calling it now: the Cardinals might pull it off. It's a very similar situation to the last season's playoffs: a team who was supposed to lose at every juncture goes up against the team that is supposed to win and pulls it off. That's right: the Cards are this year's Giants. They've got something going on for them, their record and second half play be damned. It's basically written out: the old timer leading his team after a long and sort of embarassing hiatus away from success and his wide reciever who is doing things that defy the laws of physics.

Cardinals will be Super Bowl champs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Of Cart and Caddies

Anybody out there remember Afghanistan? You know, the country we invaded before Iraq (with an actual reason)? Well, things were picturesque there for about a month or so before everyone got so hopped up and excited on Iraq and neglected to try to fix Afghanistan. Well, now things are rearing their ugly head again. A story from the Washington Post describes the growing disconnect between the rich and poor in the nation.

Anyone who has studied world history probably knows that if a nation has a sizable portion of the population in severe poverty things get a bit testy and people start agitating for pretty radical things so they can get food on their table and a wallet with some weight to it. This is starting to become the case in Afghanistan. All of a sudden, a select few individuals (with either government, tribal milita, drug, or some combination of any of the three) are becoming increasingly wealthy as the country's poor are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the current system and are actually thinking about how things were during the Taliban era.

Much of this has to do with the government in place in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai has had little control beyond many of the "urban" "centers" of Afghanistan, and even that is questionable. While he should have some way of trying to combat the growing inefficiency and corruption, there's only so much he can do. Just look at Pakistan and its ability to try to rein in parts of its own nation. Afghanistan is essentially an entire nation made up of those rogue western parts of Pakistan.

At this point right now, the US is in poor shape to try to bail out Afghanistan, with the problems it already has with Iraq right now and trying to help establish Iraq's government/get the hell out of there in as good of a shape as possible. But even its assistance would have to be immediately effective in order to make any sort of headway; otherwise, it would look like the current regime is an American puppet, thus increasing the popularity of radical factions in Afghanistan in a manner reminiscent of Iran. There has to be more than monetary assistance poured into Afghanistan; people have got to spend some time there to supervise and run the infrastructure smoothly before the government itself can function properly. I mean, who cares if you don't have a democracy when you don't have food or shelter?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Va, Pensiero

A lot of people get really touchy-feely/excited for being back in some land where they feel some sentiment. Good for them. I'm not one of them.

In Verdi's opera Nabucco, perhaps the most famous song out of the entire work is "Va, Pensiero" or "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves." It is about the yearning of a lost homeland. Some people have interpreted it as an anthem for il Risorgimiento, but recent scholarship has disproven that notion and Verdi's role as a whole as the aristic paton of il Risorgimiento has been downplayed.

I can sort of understand. It sucks being a stranger in your own place, especially if you've been attached to somewhere for a while. I've grown up not really growing an attachment to where I was. It was a place to me. There are millions of places around the world. It was just another place, and I could always find somewhere better/more interesting. Something happens to the place I am, whatever. I'll cry about it when I'm dead.

As such, I really don't understand why people develop attachments. Yes, it feels nice to be grounded, but all things are pro tempore. It'll probably go away before you do or something else might happen and then you're out of luck and wandering around lost. So what's the inherent point?

Who knows. Maybe we're just programmed that way, despite the logical problems it presents.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pakistan: Stop Fronting

Pakistan has made several moves and announcements recently regarding how they're going to "fuck shit up" if India does anything. Right.

Let's face it: India will probably not do anything for fear of the Pakistanis firing off nuclear weapons because we all know that Pakistan has as much control over its own country as your local 7-11 manager does and because an unsafe minority of people in Pakistan are what we can probably safely call "bat-shit insane." Pakistan, if they do anything further to piss off India, will probably be wrecked. Taking a look at the CIA World Factbook statistics, the number of troops India could muster in addition to its decently technologically sound infrastructure (ships, aircraft) isn't something to sneeze at either. The end result of anything happening would probably be something of a mess.

Any sort of saber rattling by the government of Pakistan is talk that shouldn't alarm anyone. As for those fellows in the mountains, well, that's a different story...