It’s Sunday morning … and true to the name, the sunlight, roughly eight minutes after leaving its home, is blasting furiously outside. So is the wind. And my honey and I are taking refuge from both in the cool shade of our upstairs bedroom. What are we listening to? Jarabe de Palo, De Vuelta y Vuelta. I just finished downloading the City of God soundtrack … maybe I’ll put that on next.

My poor lady friend has come down with something nasty. Fever, cough, dry throat, head ache – the whole package. She’s not the healthiest cat in the litter and every time she gets sick, I’m reminded how lucky I am to have a batting average of one cold a year.

So, while she sleeps and sweats away her sickness, I’ve got about 30 tabs of today’s New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and open in Firefox and I figure I’ll catch try catching up with the world and jotting down some notes here.

An SAT Without Analogies is Like: (A) A Confused Citizenry…

I, like most other Southern Californian teenagers in the early 90’s, was a pretty regular listener to Love Line on KROQ. And like most other SoCal teenagers, I was mildly disappointed when we were told Dr. Drew would have yet another new sidekick, this time a whiny Jewish kid named Adam Corolla. He was no Ricky Rackman we figured, but we’d give him a shot.

Pretty soon though, he started really feeling comfortable, getting into his groove, and in one show he’d spit out like four or five analogies that completely blew you away. And the next show maybe 10 … and never once have I heard him repeat one of his clever analogies. There is no doubt, Adam Corolla is the maestro of the analogy.

I remember also once thinking that, at one point in my life, I wasn’t so bad with the analogy logy myself. For whatever reason though, I eventually either stopped concentrating on analogies or stopped coming up with them. But I do have to agree with this Cohen fellow that some very shameless or very stupid pundits are coming up with wilder and wilder analogies to support their causes … and it almost always has something to do with the Holocaust or Slavery.

Damn this is a good song … a gustito con la vida – how would you translate that? I have no idea, but it’s how I feel. OK, next article.

Dish It Out, Ladies

Good ol’ Maureen Dowd always reads my mind. I had no idea that there was an “in the trade” scuffle going on about female columnists, but she certainly is right that there is a national shortage. Make that international shortage. Here in Mexico it’s even worse. I’ve been reading El Norte most mornings and if there is ever an Op-Ed piece by a woman it is always about something church or community related. I’ve not once seen a woman write an opinion piece about politics since I’ve been down here. It’s tempting to assume that the El Norte editors are discriminatory and keeping sharp minded female pundits off the editorial page, but when I look throughout the Monterrey blogosphere, the women seem to always stay away from politics. Is this something cultural or has the technology just not fallen into the right hands yet?

Chandrasutra recently posted an extensive (but not close to complete) list of well known female political bloggers. In my opinion, those bloggers should get together and form an action network to, as Dowd says, “find and nurture” more female political bloggers around the world.

New Signs on the Arab Street

Mister Thomas Friedman and his never ending free trade propaganda. He’s right … the Egyptian protests were news worthy items. He’s also right that free trade agreements encourage participation and cooperation amongst a specific class (the business class) across borders. He’s even right that free trade usually gives a boost to the middle class. There’s no greater example of all of this than right here in Monterrey. This is a first world city in a third world country and the reason it has done so well is because it’s situated itself as Mexico’s official trade post within NAFTA. The business class here in Monterrey (those managers and executives I teach English to each week) is aware of NAFTA’s impact and is just as pro-free-trade as Friedman.

But very few of them have traveled to Chiapas or even Vera Cruz to see the hardships endured by coffee and sugar farmers because the technology of their great grandparents can’t compete in a global marketplace (especially with hypocritical U.S. subsidies) And I assume the same is true in Egypt – that in addition to those angry for being left out of the free trade zones, there are those who are even angrier because of the very existence of free trade.

Don’t call me a protectionist though. I’m all for efficiency and all for cross-border cooperation. But if you’re going to take jobs away from the agricultural sector, you need to train those people so that they’re not left jobless to increase profits of investment companies in New York and Monterrey. Maybe Paul can enlighten us on Egyptian free trade.

Partisans Gear Up for High Court Fight Ahead

Association President John Engler said that for too long social and civil rights issues have defined Supreme Court nomination battles, even as economic cases fill most of the court’s docket. “I think the president framed the issue right during the campaign,” Engler said. “We should have justices who interpret the law, not make it.”

That’s an appealing, but misleading statement. I’m no supreme court expert here, but maybe Abo and DD can help me out since they so enjoy surfing through legalese. When has the supreme court ever actually made a law. What Engler is really implying here is that when the Supreme Court interprets a law conservatively that they are doing just that, interpreting. But when they interpret a law liberally, they are making laws themselves.

Anyway, conservatives certainly seem to be ready to pounce once a vacancy is made. I wonder if HP has one of those cards folded up in his wallet.

Shock the Casbah, Rock the French (and Vice Versa)

postmodern North African dance-punk

That’s a genre I’ll definitely have a listen to. (By the way, I’m listening to that City of God soundtrack right now and it’s really good – Afro-Brazilian-electro-funk is what I’ll call it. Damn … this track is incredible – make sure to check out track number 14 if you download/buy the album. You know, sometimes I get upset with myself for setting down the guitar. In the entire past year I’ve probably played about 30 minutes whereas two years before I probably averaged at least an hour a day.

Jihadists Take a Stand on the Web

Hmmm, Ethan Zuckerman pretty much sums up my thoughts about this article here:

And, while there’s no doubt that a robust, distributed, potentially encrypted communications medium is a powerful tool for terror, it’s my contention – and hope – that it’s an even more powerful tool for personal connection, storytelling and international understanding, all of which are longterm ways to attack terrorism and increase security.

Zuckerman also has an interesting post on Kofi Annan’s speech at the Madrid Meeting on Terrorism.


We’re talking about TV, radio, Internet ads, large-scale direct mail and e-mail and telephone alerts. And the telephone alerts, for example, are extraordinarily inexpensive. I can call every household in South Dakota in just four hours. And it would cost only $10,000.

The New York Times Magazine interviews are so good. Takes about two minutes to read and well worth it. I have to admit, I find witty conservatives endearing. There are so few of them.

Saturday Night Lite

Brooks is almost always referred to as one of the key highbrow mouthpieces for the Neo-Con movement. He certainly does use big words (pusillanimous and an allusion to TS Elliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock), but what I find frightening is how often I agree with him.

I blame the titans of corporatism. Fitness is now the prime marker of capitalist machismo, so the higher reaches of corporate America are filled with tightly calved Blackberries in human form, who believe that extremism in pursuit of moderation is no vice. They have become such obsessive time-maximizers that all evening, in what used to be known as social life, they keep an eye on the need to be up, fit and early, for the next day’s productivity marathon.

I once took a medical anthropology class at UCSD with some 80 year old sex freak named Lola Ross. She was probably the wittiest professor I had in college, but also god damn competent and respected in her field. (still today, well into her 80’s she’s still teaching Human Sexuality on campus) Anyway, on our last day of class before our final I assumed we’d have an intense review and she’d give one of her witty, well versed, lectures tying it all together. But instead she went on for about 30 minutes warning us to never let ourselves get addicted to stress.

It seemed like a strange warning coming from a woman who would go off on tangents about orgasms for 30 minutes while lecturing about indigenous Guatemalan healing practices. But then about a year later, driving from one part time job to another, drinking my fourth cup of coffee, half listening to NPR, half thinking about the midterm I had that same night, which I would take after a fifth cup of coffee and then go to the gym to work out obsessively … and all of a sudden it hit me, holy shit, I’m completely addicted to this. I don’t even know how to stop. I’ve completely forgotten how to relax.

I still let myself get sucked back into it, but I think I’m more vigilant now about forcing myself to lay on the grass and do nothing for a day. Which is today.

‘I Have a Nightmare’

This is true with every movement – from environmentalism to feminism to animal rights – the extremists almost always do the movement more harm than good. There is a post sitting in my drafts section which deals with Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus’s essay, The Death of Environmentalism as well as what is often dubbed as the “Rise of the Creative Class,” but it’s not quite finished and I don’t know when it will be.

Apple Can Demand Names of Bloggers, Judge Says

Apple is absolutely killing its reputation with this case. Especially amongst the A-List Blogger crowd which has done so much to push Apple’s image these past few years despite practices which are often just as protectionist as Microsoft.

I have to admit, I want a powerbook just as badly as the next 20-something geeky weblogger because they’re so damn elegant, but I would never call myself an Apple enthusiast until they start breaking the silo mentality.

The Two Faces of Rising China

Everyone’s predicting China VS Taiwan to be the major international affairs conflict of the 21st century. One thing for certain is a major, international, transparent diplomacy effort should begin as soon as possible to avert war at all costs. This is an example of where soft power (visa quotas, trade agreements, etc.) should be used to encourage peace treaties.

Battle Splits Conservative Magazine

This seems much less an ideological debate than a fight for publishing power. Anyway, Fukuyama’s new journal looks like it might be interesting:

In an interview, Mr. Fukuyama said that, to carry on the debate about the war in Iraq and American foreign policy, he now planned to start another journal, The American Interest, with three others from the National Interest board: Zbigniew Brzezinski, a liberal and President Carter’s former national security adviser; Eliot A. Cohen, a military scholar and neoconservative, and Josef Joffe, a leading German editor.

For Young Artists, All Roads Now Lead to a Happening Berlin

Maybe by 2001 Prague was already out of fashion, but I do remember a certain cultural and creative buzz about the city while Emily and I spent three weeks there in the late summer. If you were an aspiring artist, DJ, writer, or self-appointed young philosopher seeking cheap beer, good jazz, and meaningful late night conversation, Prague seemed like the place to be. Hemmingway’s Paris. And now it seems like Berlin is the spot. I never made it to Berlin during that short week I was in Germany, but it’s always called my attention. And now that I have a couple acquaintances in the city, hopefully I’ll pay it a visit before too long.

Latin America’s Forbidden Debates

Wow. This peace really sums up a lot of my political reflections these past few weeks here in Monterrey. Creating policy which encourages production without leading to an increased concentration of wealth is tough, but it needs to be done. And until it is, how it will be needs to be debated vigorously.

Making Old Age Less Safe

Moreover, Bush’s proposals won’t fix social security – unless they are accompanied by drastic benefit cuts. For how could they? He proposes diverting almost a third of the Social Security tax to private accounts. That means less money coming in. If benefits are not reduced, the gap between receipts and expenditures will increase. One doesn’t need a Nobel Prize to figure that out.

If there was a time to privatize social security (which I am neither completely for nor against – I think it would be an interesting experiment), this certainly is not it.

Political Evolution

I’m impressed. This is the first thing I’ve read of George A. Papandreou, but I’m going to keep my eyes out for more. Reminds me of a response Ray Bradbury once gave when asked what makes him angry:

It makes me angry when people stop thinking. When they become part of a true believing society. I hate political people. I don’t like knee-jerk Democrats or knee-jerk Republicans. I hate people who think politically, which means they don’t think at all. If you belong to a political party, you stop thinking. I don’t believe in playing politics. Just live your life and see what happens. But you can’t take your advice from communists or fascists or Democrats or Republicans or Catholics or Baptists or anyone who is a true believer. Go your own way.