Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Vizio television -- don't buy one!

A chronology of events in the life of my 50" Vizio plasma television:

April 2006 I win a poker tournament.

June 2006 After shopping extensively, I purchase a 50" Vizio plasma television from Costco for (gulp) $2,000. The contrast ratios and picture quality seem equal or better to those of the name brands, which were about $1,000 more.

July 2006 -- January 2007 Sweet, sweet television viewing bliss, peaking during the NFL season with the SundayTicket package in high definition.

February 3, 2007 Screen inexplicably darkens across the lower hemisphere. Vizio promises to have technician on-site to fix television within 10 working days.

February 20, 2007 Ten working days pass, no word on the repairs. I call Vizio again, technician announces that screen cannot be fixed and that Vizio will send me a new television within...10 working days. Through use of clever lawyerly tricks I manage to get shipping expedited.

February 28, 2007 New television arrives! Hallelujah! Plug DirecTv into new television via expensive HDMI cables and...nada. HDMI inputs on new replacement television don't work! Bummer! Call Vizio technical support again. Can't be fixed. Third replacement television ordered. Estimated arrival time? Ten working days.

The shame of it is, it's a fantastic television set...when it works. Which is not very often lately.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Observations

Again ducking the responsibility of posting substantively on Cheney's surprise trip to Pakistan -- quick take: he's there because Dems are threatening to cut off funding unless Pakistan goes after Al Qaeda more aggressively, ergo, the Dems are arguably more effective at fighting terrorism than the GOP -- here's my take on last night's Oscars.

Best dressed: Reese Witherspoon in purple.

Worst dressed: Jennifer Hudson's jacket looked like it was designed by Frank Gehry. Also, Ellen's purple valour suit looked like a rejected costume design for The Joker.

Best unintentionally awkward moment: The presenter (Rachel Weasel?) who made the crack about Mark Wahlberg getting arrested 25 times by the Boston police. Turns out, Marky Mark actually has been arrested, numerous times, for race-based assault and battery.

Worst unintentionally awkward moment: Clint Eastwood's "Admiral Stockdale" declaration that he'd misplaced his glasses and couldn't read the teleprompter. This in turn leads us to the...

Second worst unintentionally awkward moment: Clint Eastwood's translation of that Italian director who won a lifetime achievement award (I think). In case you missed it, it went something like this:

Italian guy: Un'offerta vasta e differenziata, che comprende le soluzioni economiche e quelle più lussuose, le più semplici e quelle più raffinate: tutte, comunque, in linea con la tradizionale ospitalità italiana, fatta di attenzione, cortesia e premura.

Eastwood: "Thank you, Academy."

Italian guy: Alle nostre banche dati nazionali, che per ora comprendono alberghi e campeggi, si aggiungeranno presto le informazioni riguardanti gli altri tipi di alloggio.

Eastwood: "I am honored by this award."

Not pretty.

Best Picture: The Queen. I know I'm out on a limb here, but I think The Deparated was the worst of the five nominees, and that includes the bafflingly pointless Letters from Iwo Jima.

Surprisingly worst speech: Alan Arkin for Best Supporting Actor. He seemed like a guy who would do something interesting with his 90 seconds, especially after I saw him threaten to punch Ryan Seacrest while walking the red carpet (seriously). Instead, he fell back to the tried-but-horrifically-boring list of shout outs.

Surprisingly decent host: Ellen. I can't remember ever being that annoyed with her. Which, for Ellen, is saying something.

Biggest riddle: How could Pan's Labyrinth win in every category except Best Foreign Language film? Though, for what's worth, that German flick is supposed to be phenomenal. Speaking of which...

Best speech: That German guy for the German movie. How pumped was that guy that he won? Answer: pretty f***in' pumped.

Most intriguing partner: Melissa Etheridge's wife stared at Melissa with the intensity of a mass-murdering psychopath. My girlfriend of course thought it was "sweet" but I say "creepy."

Guy who you should probably add to your death pool: Peter O'Toole.

Awkward Man-robot who irritated me far more than he should have: Random wandering guy Chris Connelly, who served no function whatsoever other than to awkwardly be on camera while the winners were being wisked back stage.

Thing we learned about Will Smith's family that we didn't know previously: His son can't read or improvise. Sure, he's only six, but you'd expect more from the Smith family, wouldn't you?

Guy who remains funny, yet somehow tainted by Michael Richard's racism: Jerry Seinfeld, with pitch-perfect timing, delivered the funniest introduction.

Biggest winner: Wes Anderson/American Express. Yeah, I know, Scorcese finally got his Oscar -- for arguably his worst movie of the last 20 years, and that includes that crap Nic Cage ambulance movie. I think the director who really won was Wes Anderson, who made an absolutely hilarious AmEx commercial that made me (1) remember why I like Wes Anderson so much, (2) get excited to see his next movie, and (3) vaguely made me want to sign up for an AmEx card. Which is the point of a good commercial. So, kudos.

Friday, February 23, 2007

"Meet the Morons": Profiles of our Presidental candidates, Vol. I

As a courtesy to my international reader(s), I've decide I will provide profiles of the weird, obscure people who run for President every election cycle. Up first: Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.

Here's all you need to know about Dennis Kucinich: he's a fruitcake moron that the far far left inexplicably likes, mostly because he's a vegetarian. Kucnich's main goal is to create a "Department of Peace" that will serve "as a tool to tap the infinite capabilities of humanity to transform consciousness and conditions that impel or compel violence at a personal, group, or national level toward creating understanding, compassion, and love." Like I said, fruitcake moron. But until I read this post by Kos, I didn't realize that:

-- As mayor of Cleveland, Kucinich ran the city into the ground. He was so bad, he was named America's 7th Worst Mayor for the last 70 years.
-- Until he ran for President in 2004, Kucinich was staunchly pro-life and anti-stem cell research.
-- He thinks he met Shirley MacLaine in a former life

The scandal is not that this guy is running for President (he doesn't have a prayer). The scandal is that he's an elected representative for the people of Ohio.

Oh by the way, that's Kucinich on the right, his (new) wife on the left, and some aging hippy in the middle. And way to go all out on that sign , "National Peace Lobby Project."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Memo to Cheney: Al Qaeda is not Iraq

Vice President Vader gave an exclusive interview with ABC News yesterday. Here's one choice tidbit, relating to Speaker Pelosi and Rep. John Murtha's disapproval of the "surge" strategy:

I think, in fact, if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we'll do is validate the al Qaeda strategy. The al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people. In fact, knowing they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit.

I think that's exactly the wrong course to go on. I think that's the course of action that Speaker Pelosi and Jack Murtha support. I think it would be a huge mistake for the country.

Cheney knows we are fighting a Sunni insurgency and Shiite militias, right? And that al Qaeda will attack us no matter what happens in Iraq? He gets that, right? He can't be both pure evil and this stupid, can he?

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what you get with an 18% approval rating. The inmates are running the asylum.

Troubling developments

I managed to find David Geffen's quotes about Hillary Clinton, as reported by Maureen Dowd in her column today:

"Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is -- and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? -- can bring the country together.

"Obama is inspirational, and he's not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family. Americans are dying every day in Iraq. And I'm tired of hearing James Carville on television." [...]

"I don't think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person," Mr. Geffen says, adding that if Republicans are digging up dirt, they'll wait until Hillary's the nominee to use it. "I think they believe she's the easiest to defeat."

She is overproduced and overscripted. "It's not a very big thing to say, 'I made a mistake' on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can't," Mr. Geffen says. "She's so advised by so many smart advisers who are covering every base. I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms." [...]

It's sort of scary when you agree 100% with David Geffen's political analysis. He's completely right.

Random Predictions

I'm too lazy to write anything of substance, so here's some random, almost-sure-to-be-wrong predictions to tide over TPV loyalists (all three of you):

1. "Babel" will win Best Picture. Biggest upset? Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu beats Scorcese for Best Director. Forest Whitaker, Helen Mirren, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson round out the remaining big five categories.

2. Libby will be convicted of one count of perjury. He will eventually be pardoned.

3. Oakland A's will win the World Series. [I'm essentially picking this at random, by the way.]

4. Hillary will not, repeat not, be the Democratic nominee for President.

5. This year's World Series of Poker will have fewer enterants than 2006, the first decline in 25 years.

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Ennobling with the Enemy"

As the House nears a vote on its nonbinding vote to finger wag at the President's "surge" tactic, some Republicans, including Joe Lieberman, are claiming the vote will "embolden the enemy." I wonder if the politicians who say this really mean it. Do they seriously think Iraqi insurgents are sitting around watching C-SPAN? "Hey Muhammed, do you want to play foosball or what?" "Hold on Faisal, I'm waiting to see how the House vote goes. If they vote to disapprove the use of force, I'm setting off an IED! I feel emboldened today!"

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A short, irrelevant interlude while the world burns

I'd like to interrupt TPV's ongoing coverage of the Axis of Evil with a brief note on the occasional stupidity of the NY Times. Today, the Times ran an unnecessarily long piece on whether people with Tivo's watch commercials. Here's the summary:

It turns out that a lot of people with digital video recorders are not fast-forwarding and time-shifting as much as advertisers feared. According to new data released today by the Nielsen Company, people who own digital video recorders, or DVRs, still watch, on average, two-thirds of the ads.

The critical piece of information that the Times fails to mention is that Neilsen Company is paid by television advertisers for the data it collects on their viewing habits. Thus, we might expect the Neilsen Company to be proverbially "shitting bricks" at the prospect of migration of viewers from live television viewing to Tivo. Trusting Neilsen as a source on this subject is somewhat akin to relying on the Marlboro-Camel Institute of Health for statistics on smoking.

The other reason I'm linking to the piece? Why, this pointless photo of Emma and Jeff Staples and their dog, Sable, that inexplicably accompanies the article:

Looks like a fun couple, don't you think? Even the dog is bored.

In support of the Iraqi civil war

In the latest edition of Current Affairs, Professor James Fearon of Stanford argues that for things to get better in Iraq, they must get worse:

Whether U.S. forces stay or go, Iraq south of the Kurdish areas will probably look more and more like Lebanon during its long civil war. Effective political authority will devolve to regions, cities, and even neighborhoods. After a period of ethnic cleansing and fighting to draw lines, an equilibrium with lower-level, more intermittent sectarian violence will set in, punctuated by larger campaigns financed and aided by foreign powers. Violence and exploitation within sects will most likely worsen, as the neighborhood militias and gangs that carried out the ethnic cleansing increasingly fight among themselves over turf, protection rackets, and trade. As in Lebanon, there will probably be a good deal of intervention by neighboring states -- especially Iran -- but it will not necessarily bring them great strategic gains. To the contrary, it may bring them a great deal of grief, just as it has the United States.

Horrible, yes. But Fearon goes on to argue that once the civil war plays itself out, Iraq may stabilize into something resembling a coherent state:

Despite the horrific violence currently tearing Iraq apart, in the long run there is hope for the return of a viable Iraqi state based on a political bargain among Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish leaders. Indeed, they may end up cooperating on terms set by a constitution similar to the current one -- although only after a significant period of fighting. The basis for an Iraqi state is the common interest of all parties, especially the elites, in the efficient exploitation of oil resources. Continued civil war could persuade Shiite leaders that they cannot fully enjoy oil profits and political control without adequately buying off Sunni groups, who can maintain a costly insurgency. And civil war could persuade the Sunnis that a return to Sunni dominance and Shiite quiescence is impossible. Kurdish leaders have an interest in the autonomy they have already secured but with access to functioning oil pipelines leading south.

What role should the U.S. play in all of this?

To facilitate either outcome [i.e., a power-sharing agreement among Iraqi actors or a dominant military leader capable of controlling competing factions], the U.S. government would have to pursue a policy of balancing, using diplomatic, financial, and possibly some military tools to encourage the perception that no one group or faction can win without sharing power and resources. A balancing policy might be pursued from "offshore," implemented mainly by supplying monetary and material support to tactical allies, or "onshore," possibly drawing on air strikes or other forms of U.S. military intervention originating from bases in Iraq or close by. The mechanics would necessarily depend on a complicated set of diplomatic, political, and military contingencies. The important point is that the only alternative to some form of balancing policy would be to support decisive victory by one side or the other, which would probably be undesirable even in the unlikely event that victory came soon.

I'm persuaded. Read the whole article.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Woops, back to Iran

Exciting week inside the Axis of Evil. Earlier this morning, President Bush argued by insinuation that the Iranian government is arming the insurgents. As quoted by the New York Times:

Mr. Bush said it had been established beyond a doubt that a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps known as the Quds Force is supplying Shiite groups inside Iraq with particularly deadly, Iranian-designed weapons known as explosively formed penetrators, or E.F.P.s.

The United States regards the Quds Force as part of the Iranian government, since the force has historically been under the command of Iran’s senior religious leaders. And even if the highest officials in Tehran have not directly ordered the Quds Force to supply weapons to Iraqi Shiites, they are still complicit, Mr. Bush said.

“What’s worse?” Mr. Bush asked. “That the government knew, or that the government didn’t know?”

I can't believe Bush asked this rhetorical question. It's (theoretically) much, much worse if the Iranian government sanctioned and supported the transfer of weapons from the Quds to the insurgents. If they didn't know, then responsibility cannot be imputed to them.

Incidentally, I use the word "theoretically" because even if the Iranian government is actively supporting the insurgents, what do we plan to do about it, other than what we are (or should be) doing already? I've yet to hear anyone supply an answer to this question. This doesn't stop our President from making empty threats, of course:

I intend to do something about it,” Mr. Bush said, alluding to the armor-piercing weapons.

Yeah. Bring 'em on! Yee-hah! I love living in Dr. Strangelove's America!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

North Korea: Some good news, finally

Sure, Iraq is complete chaos, and we have no coherent approach to Iran, but at least we are making some progress with Axis-of-Evil charter member North Korea. Yesterday, the Administration announced a deal that would bribe transfer $400 million to the North Koreans in exchange for inspections and dismantling of its nuclear program. Predictably, the neocons are against it:

“I am very disturbed by this deal,” former US Ambassador to the UN John "Walrus" Bolton told CNN. “It sends exactly the wrong signal to would-be proliferators around the world: ‘If we hold out long enough, wear down the State Department negotiators, eventually you get rewarded,’ in this case with massive shipments of heavy fuel oil, for doing only partially what needs to be done.”

Bolton is right, of course. On the other hand, the alternative is to have a rogue regime with starving citizens continue its production of nuclear weapons. Which is worse? Call me crazy, but I'd take the deal.

The North Koreans, by the way, probably won't uphold the deal, since it's basically the same one Clinton negotiated in 1994. But it's better than no policy at all, and the Bush Administration -- and the State Department -- deserves credit for coming to the table and brokering a deal.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Iran: Here we go again!

Until today, I've sort of assigned the saber rattling regarding Iran to the sidelines. "Surely," I thought to myself, "the disasters in Iraq have destroyed any serious thoughts by the Bush Administration toward attacking, or even credibly threatening, Iran."

Well, it's getting pretty hard to ignore what's happening. Today, the NY Times reports that U.S. officials are presenting evidence of Iranian support for insurgent activity. Here's the nut paragraph:

In a news briefing held under strict security, the officials spread out on two small tables an E.F.P. and an array of mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades with visible serial numbers that the officials said link the weapons directly to Iranian arms factories. The officials also asserted, without providing direct evidence, that Iranian leaders had authorized smuggling those weapons into Iraq for use against the Americans. The officials said such an assertion was an inference based on general intelligence assessments.

What's most fascinating about this is that, for me, it doesn't matter whether this true or not. First, I have no trust -- none -- that my government is telling the truth. Second, even if the Iranians are supporting the insurgents, what can we do? We can't credibly threaten to attack them, and it's hard to diplomatically isolate a country already so isolated. So what more can we do besides what (I hope) we are doing already, namely, trying to stem the flow of weapons into the country and arresting Iranian operatives? What is there to be gained from making this case publicly, except to showcase our complete helplessness due to the Iraq fiasco?

Do they -- meaning the neoconservative cabal -- really want a war with Iran? Have we learned nothing, nothing at all?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

San Francisco State University violates the First Amendment

Ah, San Francisco, that shining beacon of tolerance and acceptance -- unless you happen to desecrate the wrong flag (that of Hamas and Hezbollah) instead of the Stars & Stripes.

Here are the facts: In October, the College Republicans held a rally on the San Francisco State University campus. During said rally, some of them apparently stomped on the flags of terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas. Unbeknownst to them, allegedly, these two flags contain the Arabic name for "Allah." As a result, various Muslim groups complained to SFSU officials, who are now investigating the incident. Here's the email from SFSU to the College Republicans (hat tip:

I am writing to you as President of the College Republicans to follow-up with you regarding the letter of complaint that was received by the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development on Thursday, October 26, 2006, notifying the office of alleged violations of University policy. The complaint is in regards to alleged actions at a College Republican sponsored event, "Anti Terrorism Rally," that occurred in Malcolm X Plaza from 12-2 PM on October 17, 2006. The complaint describes alleged actions of walking on a banner with the word "Allah" written in Arabic script. I am writing to inform you that the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development has concluded its investigation into the events that occurred on October, 17, 2006 in Malcolm X Plaza. The investigation was put in place to review the following alleged violations of University Policy as were addressed in the written complaint:
1. Allegations of attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment
2. Allegations of actions of incivility (Standards for Student Conduct Title V, 41301)

The only problem with this, as Prof. Volokh notes on his site, is that this investigation blatantly violates the First Amendment. Flag desecration is not a crime, even when it contains religious imagery that certain religions consider sancrosanct. Last time I checked, we lived in a secular democracy, not theocratic Iran, so what exactly is SFSU planning to do? What if SFSU concludes the flag stomping was "incivil" -- will it sanction or disband the College Republicans for engaging in political debate?

Speaker Bug Eyes wants her own plane

Apparently, there is a stupid mini-scandal brewing over Speaker Bug Eyes and her need to fly on the taxpayer's dime back to San Francisco, and then another meta-scandal on top of the mini-scandal as to whether the Department of Defense is trying to punish Nancy Pelosi for being a Democrat. It's all so stupid and annoying, I can hardly see straight, but I did like this quote from Speaker Bug Eyes on MSNBC:

"This is really something that is very strange," Pelosi said, "The Department of Defense - the Pentagon - which I have been a constant critic of [on] the war in Iraq - and where I understand Mr. Rumsfeld still has a desk, even though he is no longer the secretary - has decided that they would go public about a conversation - I mean issue - that applied to the previous speaker."

Wow. They let the former Secretary of Defense keep a desk? Bastards! No wonder Pelosi is getting pilloried in the press -- Rumsfeld still has a desk! "This is really something that is very strange."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Zimbabwe Disaster

This New York Times piece chronicles the ongoing disintegration of Zimbabwe. Rarely can the suffering of so many be traced to one single individual, Robert Mugabe, who is essentially killing his own people with his idiocy. And the world watches, either helpless or spineless or both.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Disengagement in Iraq

Edward Luttwak, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has a bluntly written editorial in today's New York Times calling for "disengagement" in Iraq. To summarize:

There is a promising, long-term policy ready and waiting for President Bush whenever he decides to call off the good old college try of his surge: disengagement. By this, I don’t mean a phased withdrawal, let alone the leap in the dark of total abandonment. Rather, it would start with a tactical change: American soldiers would no longer patrol towns and villages, conduct cordon-and-search operations, or man outposts and checkpoints. An end to these tasks would allow the greatest part of the troops in Iraq to head home, starting with overburdened reservists and National Guard units.

The remaining American forces, including ground units, would hole up within safe and mostly remote bases in Iraq — to support the elected government, deter foreign invasion, dissuade visible foreign intrusions, and strike at any large concentration of jihadis should it emerge. This would mean, contrary to most plans being considered now, that United States military personnel could not remain embedded in large numbers within the Iraqi Army and police forces. At most, the Americans would operate training programs within safe bases.

What would be the result of disengagement along these lines? First, it would not be likely to increase the violence afflicting Iraqi civilians. The total number of American troops in Iraq — even including any surge — is so small, and their linguistic skills so limited, that they have little effect on day-to-day security. Nor have they really protected Iraqis from one another. At most, the presence of American soldiers in any one place merely diverts attacks elsewhere (unless they themselves are attacked, which is a sad way indeed of reducing Iraqi casualties).

I am sympathetic to Luttak's argument, but I'm just a tad skeptical that the removal of 125,000 armed American soldiers would not lead to an escalation in violence against Iraqi civilians. True, our soldiers may have limited linguistic skills, but they also have advanced weaponry and support capabilities unparalleled in the world. My guess is that, if and when we do disengage, it will be am absolute bloodbath in Iraq, far worse than what is happening now. That doesn't mean we shouldn't disengage, if the alternative is having more American soldiers die for a lost cause. But we should be realistic about what is going to happen to the Iraqis. It will be horrible.

Astronaut in diapers

From today's New York Times:

A NASA astronaut who drove hundreds of miles to confront a romantic rival, wearing diapers on the journey so that she would not have to stop to use the restroom, appeared in court today facing charges that included attempted kidnapping, and was ordered released on $15,500 bond.

Read the whole story.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq

So I just finished reading the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, released earlier today. Didn't take long, since the government is only producing a two-page summary. As with the Iraq Study Group, the consensus is grim: security in Iraq is deteriorating rapidly and exhibiting signs of civil war. Unlike the ISG, the NIE authors do not think Iran, Syria or other neighbors can intervene to stop the sectarian bloodshed. Instead, the NIE opines:

Coalition capabilities, including force levels, resources, and operations, remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq. If Coalition forces were withdrawn rapidly during the term of this Estimate, we judge that this almost certainly would lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq, intensify Sunni resistance to the Iraqi Government, and have adverse consequences for national reconciliation.

All of this is true, of course, but begs the question: will the continuing presence of coalition forces do anything to reverse the sectarian violence? If not, then staying in Iraq simply forstalls the inevitable, to the tune of 25 to 100 dead soldiers a month (and $8 billion).

So is there any reason to think the situation might improve? According to the NIE, "a number of identifiable developments could help to reverse the negative trends driving Iraq's current trajectory." (NIE's italics, not mine.) These absurd fantasiesoptimistic developments include:

(1) "Broader Sunni acceptance of the current political structure and federalism"
(2) "Significant concessions by Shia and Kurds"
(3) A "bottom-up approach--deputizing, resourcing and working more directly with neighborhood watch groups and establishing grievance committees"

Of these , only #3 is prescriptive; the first two are simply hopes, dreams, wishes, equivalent to saying "The security situation in Iraq will improve if everyone stops fighting and behaves reasonably" -- a true but worthless point, since the question is how to make them stop fighting. And as for the neighborhood watch committess, sure, great idea -- but how will the continued presence of U.S. troops support the development of such committees? Perhaps that mystery is solved in the full NIE report. Color me skeptical.

Super Bowl Prediction

They said I was crazy to pick the Colts to win it all. The defense can't stop the run. Marvin Harrison disappears in the playoffs. And all Peyton Manning does is choke. Yet, here they are, poised to win it all, after beating the likes of the Chiefs, the Ravens AND the Patriots.

Which is why I'm taking the Bears, of course. Here's six reasons why:

1) The Indy defense is regressing to its mean. That’s not good.
(2) In addition, the Indy secondary is seriously banged up.
(3) Grossman’s played well against the Seahawks and the Saints. He fared poorly against AFC defenses with confusing schemes (Dolphins, Pats). Dungy’s cover-2 is effective, but not confusing.
(4) The Bears will emphasize the running game.
(5) The pressure on Manning will be absurd. He’s played one good half in the playoffs, otherwise, he’s sucked.
(6) At the end of the day, crappy quarterbacks with great defenses win Super Bowls (Ravens with Dilfer, Giants with Hostetler). Great quarterbacks with crap defenses don't.

You know what really swung me? Realizing the Bears are -- and it pains me to say this -- last year's Seahawks. Not in terms of style of play, but in the respect they are due. This team went 13-3! But because they play in the NFC, and because they have a quarterback who looks like he might shit himself at any given moment, no one gives 'em any respect.

They will after Sunday. Bears 28, Colts 17.

Big Bunnies

This Brit is breeding giant rabbits to feed the people of North Korea. I am not joking. And I have no idea what to say.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Chirac speaks le truth about a nuclear Iran?

French President Jacque Chirac is catching intense heat for his on-the-record remarks to a French newspaper regarding the prospect of a nuclear Iran. Here's a summary from the New York Times:

“I would say that what is dangerous about this situation is not the fact of having a nuclear bomb,” he said. “Having one or perhaps a second bomb a little later, well, that’s not very dangerous.

“But what is very dangerous is proliferation. This means that if Iran continues in the direction it has taken and totally masters nuclear-generated electricity, the danger does not lie in the bomb it will have, and which will be of no use to it.”

Mr. Chirac said it would be an act of self-destruction for Iran to use a nuclear weapon against another country.

“Where will it drop it, this bomb? On Israel?” Mr. Chirac asked. “It would not have gone 200 meters into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed.”

It was unclear whether Mr. Chirac’s initial remarks reflected what he truly believes. If so, it suggests a growing divide with American policy, which places the highest priority on stopping Iran from gaining the capacity to produce nuclear weapons.

Chirac may be guilty here of what some people call a "Kinsley gaffe," when a politician is flagellated for accidentally saying the truth in public. Because Chirac is largely correct. While no one relishes the prospect of a nuclear Iran, the reality is that Israel's nuclear arsenal ensures that Iran will be deterred from actually using said missile. The situation is the same with India and Pakistan -- no one's pleased they've joined the nuclear club, but the world is not in full crisis mode because of it.

Instead, as Chirac rightly notes, the real danger is proliferation. Should Iran acquire the capacity to make nuclear weapons, there is a very real danger such a weapon could fall into the hands of a group that cannot be deterred.