Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Israel,

Please stop the bombing. I'm going to ignore the areas complex history for the moment (though it should be noted that Israel took control of it after the 1967 six day war until they left three years ago) and just concentrate on the current situation. Massive air strikes against an impoverished nation is in no one's interest, least of all your own. Remember when you did this to Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon? Remember how that turned out?

I understand the frustration with the rockets. I do. But bombing targets that will inevitably kill civilians in an area that you yourselves have kept in poor supply of medical supplies because of economic sanctions is counterproductive.

Hamas was elected because the Palestinians in Gaza were angry. Depriving them of material goods has only angered them and emboldened them more. Hamas becomes stronger the more you use violence against Gaza. It reminds me of the fishermen who used to cut starfish in half in an effort to get rid of them.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses Staying Home

Immigration, both the legal and illegal kind, is way down it seems. According to the Economist, in "the year to September 2008 724,000 fewer people were caught trying to cross into America from Mexico, the lowest annual tally since the 1970s."

Now this really either means that we have gotten really bad at catching people crossing the border or that less people are attempting the dangerous affair. Given that enforcement is supposedly up, it seems that the latter is the more likely explanation. According to the same article, "Border cops have naturally claimed credit for the drop. But the heavy hand of the law is probably much less of a deterrent than the invisible hand of the market."

Simply put, now that there is less demand for labor here in the U.S., especially in the construction industry (because our economy is in the toilet), the supply is increasingly deciding to stay home.

So next time we have an influx of illegal immigrants, before we build a fence, maybe we should remember to count our blessings, because the willingness of foreign workers to cross the border is also evidence that our economy is booming (at least relatively).

In a somewhat counter intuitive way, as the article points out, immigration reform might now be more difficult, despite the drop in number of illegal immigrants. Despite the fact that minute men might not have as much to crow about given these new statistics, it is the slackening labor market that might put a wrench in the works, as it will be tough to convince conservatives that more immigrants should be allowed in the country when the U.S. has an economy in recession and a rising unemployment rate.

In any event, I think it is amazing how quickly we have forgotten. It was only 2006 when Americans rated immigration as the nation’s second-most-important problem after the Iraq war. Now it's barely on the radar at all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sean Hannity-Douche of the Year

Media Matters, a self-proclaimed liberal institution that watches the tv, radio, and other media for conservative misinformation, proclaimed Sean Hannity as "Misinformer of the Year."

I don't particularly like pundits either way. While the Fox news people enrage me, some of the "liberal" ones also irk me, not so much because of the content, as because of the condescending nature of the tone.

And none of the talking heads add to the conversation because, as they are biased at the outset, the "result" of their "analysis" is a foregone conclusion. They all also flaunt survivorship bias , and keep unwary viewers captivated with their amazing post hoc ergo propter hoc conclusions which really does nothing but confuse and does not promote the dissemination of real information, IMHO.

Actually, if you read this article about Mr. Hannity, though, he takes distortion to another level and definitely has earned this award. Congratulations!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Like a Blogrolling Stone

Dear Blogrolling,

You were my first. And up until recently, my only, well...blog roll. You were there when I wanted to reciprocate when people linked to me. You were there when I wanted to post links that I like and that I thought other people might like.

That seems so long ago now. I just don't feel like I know you anymore.

I mean, communication was never our big thing, but you never talk to me anymore.

I had made some new friends on teh internets. But you wouldn't let me link to them. Did you feel threatened? Insecure? And I couldn't get myself out of old dysfunctional relationships or broken links.

I guess what I'm saying, is...this just isn't going to work out. I've found someone new.

See, blogger came out with a blog list. And it works just great. It gives me the space I need, and updates me when important things are going on. You were never there for me.

I know I wasn't much, but you couldn't even seem to handle what we had. I wish you luck on your future endeavors. I really do. And I hope you find someone with more patience than I.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Throw a shoe at double u

Well it took the internets about 30 seconds to come up with this game:


At first I was a little shocked, but them I remembered that there have been those irritating flash games where you get to punch bush 4 times to win an ipod or something that have been around for years.

This is pretty funny though. Good find Dianne!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I think W's best attribute is his reflexes

When I first saw a headline involving an angry Iraqi and a shoe, I thought it involved someone paying homage to Khruschev's tantrum incident at the UN.

But no. This reporter actually took his shoes off and threw them at Bush. He had decent aim, but Bush was just too quick.

Unsurprisingly, he was not given a high five and allowed to leave the building in his socks. A bit more surprising, but not totally shocking, the shoe hurler is now a pan middle eastern hero. From Jordan to Palestine, most look at the journalist with a nasty slider to be a brave man.

I have some mixed feelings about this. First, this is not the first time W has had stuff thrown at him. Second, though this is by definition a violent act, it is pretty tame compared to what most normal Iraqis might encounter during their daily routines, and is probably as close to "non-violent" protest as Iraq has ever seen. In any event, the purpose (notwithstanding the velocity of the left one), I think, was symbolic, as in Arab culture, showing the soles of your feet to someone is an insult. And, as here at home, Bush just doesn't speak with people who don't agree with him, so maybe a little reality check is a good thing.

On the other hand, like him or not, I don't like people throwing hard objects at the President, because if you hit him, it will cause a major shit storm here at home.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Vitamins Are Bad For You and Cancer Just "Goes Away"

The New York Times has had a few health related articles over the past few weeks that made me want to throw up my arms and exclaim, "Well fuck it all then."

The first was an article entitled "News Keeps Getting Worse for Vitamins." As you can probably imagine, the article basically says that studies have shown that vitamins don't really do squat for you. This quote was the real brick to the head for me:

And recently, doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York warned that vitamin C seems to protect not just healthy cells but cancer cells, too.
I take a multi vitamin everyday as well as quite a few other supplements (Omega 3 oils, grape see extract, etc.). I don't take the daily recommended dose of my multivitamin (6 pills a day, for fuck sake) because I just don't think I really need 3,000% of my RDA of vitamin B6. I mean, not only is it a waste of money because you probably just pee it out anyway, but I have to imagine that's got to be rough on your body to digest that. Your body is not made to ingest 3,000% of a vitamin. There is no food source in nature that I know of that would have that much vitamin B6. It's not like there's a "B6 bird" out there somewhere that humans have been killing and eating for millennia.

But still. Vitamin C has been billed to be this great killer of cancer-causing free radicals. And now it turns out it could actually protect cancerous cells? Well fuck it all then.

Better yet, this NYT article suggests that some cancers will just "go away."

I give up.