25 April 2007

And now I direct you towards a lovely poem

Remember when I got old and cranky not so long ago? A friend of mine picked up on the theme of the "me generation" again last week. Now, another friend has unrelatedly written a poem for Earth Day, which also picks up on the "me" theme, and which you should read.


24 April 2007

Communist plot stymied! Butterstick stays!

In fabulous news this morning, we learn that Tai Shan, nee Butterstick, won't be deported this year. We'll probably get another two years of cuddly rumbly fun with him.

Personally, I think that since Butterstick was born in the U.S., he's entitled to American citizenship, and thus shouldn't even be threatened with deportation. Of course, anti-immigration types are gonna bitch about an unending sea of pandas pouring across our borders to get free health care and good educations for their cubs. These people are clearly deranged and hate children, puppies, and the American way. Nonetheless, look for a silly proposal to build a 700 mile wall along our border with China sometime in the near future. I think Tian Tian and Mei Xiang have earned their keep, and should be entitled to some sort of guest worker status. They did, after all, provide millions of Americans with the chance to view the cutest baby ever.

21 April 2007

I'm here, but distracted

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, kids. I'm busy finishing my final project so I can graduate and move onto a new life completely lacking in promise or fulfillment. :) This endeavor will take me a few more days to complete (at least in draft form).

In the meantime, there are two fun things in the world you should pay attention to:

First, we have the elections going on in Nigeria. Now if these go well, and aren't totally rigged, all will be good. If, however, these go badly, and are totally rigged, shit will probably go down. And that means lots of things, including higher gas prices for the American driving public. So far, so shaky.

Second, we have elections going on in France this weekend. It'll be curious to see who emerges for the second round of voting next month. The Post ably pointed out this morning how France continues to play a major role in the world, but how the French feel their nation is in steep decline.

Entertain yourself with these fun events. I'm gonna get back to frantically writing now. The woman riding a Segway up and down Harvard Street, though, is a distraction. I'll be back after Tuesday.

16 April 2007

Fun quotes from foreign policy land

First up to bat, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, talking about why she won't run for president:
I understand American politics very badly. I've always said I'm much better at understanding international politics than American politics. I just know that I've got a job to do for the rest of this president's term. That's what I'm concentrating on. . . . I haven't thought much about it myself. I'm thinking more about these days how to get other people to hold elections that are free and fair around the world.
Well gee golly, Condi. Your stellar grasp on international politics has led to a quagmire, a resurgent Tali-terrorist threat, a nuclear North Korea, and a really really cranky Iran. Top that all off with a completely stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process and a now four-year old genocide in Darfur. As for getting other people to hold those free and fair elections, I have two questions: 1) Florida and Ohio, much? and 2) the current elections in Nigeria, from whom we buy a lot of oil, are turning out to be a smashing success, aren't they?

If this is what your excellent command of international politics gets us, I'm quite glad you're refraining from giving us your thoughts on Social Security and immigration reform. Lord knows they'd be stunning policy failures that would make your current boss look brilliant.

Now let's move on to round two, with General John J. Sheehan (USMC, Ret.), talking about why he turned down the job of coordinating the Iraq and Afghanistan wars among several government agencies (which, by the way, is the National Security Advisor and President's job):
It would have been a great honor to serve this nation again. But after thoughtful discussions with people both in and outside of this administration, I concluded that the current Washington decision-making process lacks a linkage to a broader view of the region and how the parts fit together strategically. We got it right during the early days of Afghanistan -- and then lost focus. We have never gotten it right in Iraq. For these reasons, I asked not to be considered for this important White House position. These huge shortcomings are not going to be resolved by the assignment of an additional individual to the White House staff. They need to be addressed before an implementation manager is brought on board.
Translation: "Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent." Alternatively, the Administration is clueless and they're not gonna find some savior for their debacles until they figure out just what purpose their debacles serve.

Good choice, General. Besides, you're probably making way more money in the private sector anyway, and probably also have time to see your family. Lack of family time has been a key motivator for those jumping off the H.M.S. WhiteHousePanic.

There you have it folks. We're totally fucked, and nothing will change until we get some personnel changes at the top, and/or an infusion of intellectual capital in the capital.

09 April 2007

Slight chlorine taste?

Thanks, Army Corps of Engineers, for dumping every YMCA, YWCA, and other public pool into DC's water supply.

We all remember (or not) that little blurb last week about the chloramine in the water being replaced with straight chlorine for a month. In a brazen move yesterday, I took a brief sip of tap water, only to feel like I'd taken a brief sip of bleach. I then turned on my shower, and instantly my little bathroom smelled like a public pool. The scent didn't dissipate either.

Yay! for a month of DC residents smelling like professional swimmers. I hope we all enjoy.

Sidebar: I woke up this morning to a car sitting perpendicular across the sidewalk on Harvard Street, at a bus stop. Harvard Street in one way in my neighborhood, and there are no driveways or anything else to turn into on the right side, given there's a huge retaining wall along the sidewalk. A cop investigated for awhile (couldn't see a car owner), then it got towed off. If anyone has any information about his bizarre development, or wild speculation about people parking on sidewalks, I'm curious.

08 April 2007

A weekend of bad Africa policy

Yesterday we got the lovely news that there may be a major food crisis for impoverished Zambians unless aid groups get a swift infusion of cash to buy food, which is, admittedly, available. However, the money for such a move is most readily available from the U.S. (or Europe), but U.S. law insists that food aid be purchased in America, not local producers. In spite of shockingly reasonable and appropriate Bush administration proposals to change the law, at least for dire circumstances like this one, Congress under both parties refuses to do so. Their rationale is that the bottom would fall out of corporate America's support for international aid, because they would no longer get rich off it, and we all know the general population doesn't care.

So there's that.

Then today we get the joyous news that the U.S. allowed the Ethiopians to buy military equipment from North Korea, after sanctions against such purchases had been put in place at U.S. insistence. Granted, few countries still produce parts that are compatible with old Soviet tanks, and those that do are probably also vile human rights violators, but, still. This revelation makes the whole War on Terror thing seem even more like the Cold War. In this case, alleged terrorists in Somalia were our enemy, and the Ethiopians didn't like them either, so Ethiopia is our friend and we should give them the leverage to do whatever they need to fight terror. Even if that means violating the very sanctions we wrote. Meanwhile, State Department lackies are gingerly suggesting that Ethiopia find a new supplier, which they've been doing for over a year.

And what caps it all off? Assistant Secretary of State (and official useless mouthpiece) Jendayi Frazer went to Somalia to express support for the recently beleaguered Somali government. She made no mention of the revelation that Somali, Ethiopian, and perhaps also African Union forces committed war crimes during last week's campaign against Islamic Courts loyalists (or, perhaps more precisely, anti-government fighters resisting perceived clan favoritism). I'm pretty sure open messages of support for weak governments by the United States will only make said governments weaker, given the super popularity of the U.S. at present.

07 April 2007

Conversations on weather

Me (waking up in the middle of the night): It's snowing out. Shit.

Later (like, 9:30)...

E: Come on, get up.
Me: No.
E: But it's snowing!
Me: I'm morally opposed to snow in April.
E: It's supposed to snow some more this afternoon.
Me: Then I guess I'll sleep all day.
E: Why don't you like the snow?
Me: It will keep the Easter Bunnies from doing their work.
E: So we'll send in snow bunnies.
Me: The snow bunnies are otherwise engaged in Alaska and Canada. You can't deprive the poor children of northern climates just because this town can't handle snow.
E: Then we'll have Buster do it.
Me: Buster hates snow.
E: No he doesn't. He eats it and plays in it.
Me: When we brought snow in for him, he just ignored it.
E: Buster loves snow!