Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!


Happy New Years, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

To my friends, family, blogging friends and incidental readers I wish you a Happy and Healthy 2005!

While 2004 has been full of joy, grief, opportunity and tragedy throughout the world, in the immortal worlds of Lou Gehrig I believe we all have "an awful lot to live for".

I still believe in the future and in people. See you next year!

Posted by mightymerk, 10:16 AM | link | (1) comments |

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Value of A Dollar to anti-Americans

When was a dollar worth a dollar?
I would say the last time a dollar was worth a dollar was right before American independence. Of course I am being somewhat silly here, but one does have to wonder considering the recent focus on just how much aid the U.S. is offering to the Tsunami relief fund, and subsequenly who's brows are raised the highest.

The real tragedy of the Tsunami and its deadly aftermath, as well as the correlating actions of a great many nations to provide relief and aid (in monetary form and otherwise) has once again become a Stage for anti-American agents to get on their soapbox.

It seems like America’s initial pledges of $15 and $35 million is something to raise your nose to (unless of course you are a victim, or a family member of a victim). In what should be viewed as a united show of support for our fellow man, the progressives have seized as an opportunity to find flaws in America’s foreign policy and governance.

U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland (who has also chaired Amnesty International) recently stated that many rich Western Nations were being “stingy”.
As apologetic as Mr. Egeland has been since, the implication that he was mainly accusing America was clear then, and is clear now.

Common Dreams.org, ever friendly to the U.S.posted a nice piece titled “Aid Grows amid Remarks About President’s Absence”.

The Bush administration more than doubled its financial commitment yesterday to provide relief to nations suffering from the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.


Of course the article continues by bashfully referencing Mr. Egeland’s comments (and subsequent retraction) and shamelessly offers a plug to former President Mr. Bill Clinton in the form of a sidebar quote from him. To complete the illusionary tri-fecta there is sidebar box that compares the U.S. pledge of aid for the Tsunami Relief Fund to the 2004 Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, the cost of Bush’s 2005 inauguration as well as a break down of the US per capita Tsunami Relief Pledge as compared to Australia. Interesting enough that MOST of the nations have since upped their pledges within 24 hours is not mentioned, nor a comparison that might also include the whopping $136,000 (yes thousand) that France initially offered. But why let reality or the truth get in a way of a good anti-American rant?

The purpose of course is not to make any good of US efforts but only to portray the US efforts as inconsequential and only an afterthought.

It has been said that statistics can be made to support anything, and in general I agree.

But what does the whole picture look like? As an American should you be happy with America’s spending? As a non-American should you be so quick to throw verbal jabs at America’s response to world need?

Bush noted that the United States provided $2.4 billion "in food, in cash, in humanitarian relief to cover the disasters for last year. ... That's 40 percent of all the relief aid given in the world last year."


Both President Bush and Secretary Powell later elaborated how even more aid, specifically designated for the Tsunami relief effort could be expected (some even speculate up to $1 billion from the U.S.)

So what else has America done in addition to this?
America spent almost $15.8 billion for “official development assistance” to developing countries in 2003. The next closest was Japan, at $8.9 billion. America spends billions more in other areas such as AIDS and HIV programs. This number does not also include an estimated $241 billion that Americans give to charitable causes (both domestic and foreign).

There is no denying that on a per capita basis America spends dead last as compared to other developed nations but anyway you break it down America accounts for over 40% of total aid offered. This European standard, to base everything on gross national product, though is never used when talking about America’s defense budget. On a per capita basis the U.S. ranks 26th in defense spending, but it is the bottom line number that progressives like to preach (how convenient).

Let me go on record now as saying that I am very happy to see a great many nations, and even greater number of people step up and donate what they are willing to. I am never one to spend another mans paycheck or another nations budget.

I am sure the victims are thanking everyone for each and every dollar, and they know the exact worth of each.

UPDATE

The U.S. as promised with its earlier pledge of $35 million, has announced that its pledging $350 million in aid for th Tsunamis crisis.

American Corporations themselves have pledge over $50 million in additional aid and private donations from Americans through various outlets such as the American Red Cross, Unicef etc.

Posted by mightymerk, 8:14 PM | link | (0) comments |

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Deadly Tsunami - Human Tragedy and it's deadly legacy.


How it all starts, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

The latest estimates indicate that more than 50,000+ may have lost their lives by tsunami waves that may have measured as high as 100 feet and devastated the coastlines around the Indian Ocean. The toll is expected to rise. These large waves were the result of a large undersea earthquake. This is the largest earthquake to strike the globe since 1964.

White House officials said U.S. relief efforts already were under way to help people in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. They said the United States also will work with the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and other concerned states to provide relief.

The international Red Cross and a host of other nations, including the U.S. have already promised aid (both financially and with emergency equipment and supplies). If you are not in a position to help directly with relief efforts…pray.

Reporting on this great human tragedy continues through mainstream media and these outlets:

Reuters

Fox News

CNN

Some recent history:

November 1, 1755, a series of massive earthquakes leveled Lisbon during the celebration of All Saints’ Day. Fires and stone building that collapsed killed thousands, and the surviving residents sought relief by the waterfront. About 1 hour after the earthquake, a 50 foot wave (tsunami) swept in from the sea, killing thousands more. IN total about 60,000 people lost their lives and only about 15 percent of the city remained ‘somewhat’ intact.

August 27, 1883, Krakatau, a volcano in the Sunda Straits explodes, blasting 20 cubic kilometers of rock into the sky. Undersea cracks allowed massive amounts of seawater into a whit-hot magma chamber. When the water turns to steam, the explosion causes tsunamis that caused approximately 37,000 deaths on nearby Sumatra and Java. Up until this most recent Tsunami, this Krakatau induced Tsunami remained the deadliest in modern times.

April 1, 1946, a large earthquake in the Aleutian chain of Islands creates a huge wave that engulfs a lighthouse on Unimak Island, which stood about 100 feet above the North Pacific. A few hours later, the tsunami rolls across the ocean and slams into Hilo, Hawaii, obliterating the waterfront and killing 159.

May 21-22, 1960, A series of earthquakes in Chile, culminating in one of the three largest quakes in the 20th century (8.9 on the Richter scale) sunk 300 miles of coastline into the sea, activated a volcano, and causes tsunamis that kill 1500 people. 14 hours later, the tsunami arrives in Hilo, Hawaii, killing another 61 people (many of whom ignored the advanced warnings that were offered).

While modern technology has offers us the ability for advance warning of such events in many areas, it does nothing to stop a tsunamis deadly effects. Simply put there is no way to dispel its power once the wave begins.

Links for information on Tsunamis:

University of Michigan's Study of Tsunamis

International Tsunami Information Center




Links for relief efforts and information about the recent Tsunami in the Indian Ocean:

Red Cross

Unicef

A very helpful blog

UPDATE
It now appears that as many as 100,000 individuals may have lost their lives. The U.N. is warning that respiratory and waterbone diseases will likely in areas affected by the Tsunami.

Posted by mightymerk, 5:24 PM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The New - Kraine!!


story.yushchenko.ap, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Good Morning Ukraine!!

The election results have not been confirmed (a the time of this entry) but early poll results show that opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko holds a commanding lead in the presidential bid of Ukraine. Depending on the actual poll, Yushchenko’s lead was anywhere between 12 and 20 points over his rival Viktor Yanukovych.

“ Today, the Ukrainian nation and the Ukrainian people have won. The Ukrainian people have won” – Viktor Yushchenko


Despite the very positive election results, my initial opinion remains. Putin’s Russia will not simply walk away. The political, financial and resource ties run too deep? Will the oil pipeline running from Russia through the Ukraine become a source of contention?
The mostly ethnic Russians of East Ukraine will remain far too skeptical about a more ‘western’ like economy. Will the farmers, laborers and elderly be left out and neglected? These questions need to be answered immediately for any ‘buy-in’ to be expected.

Yushchenko will face the very real challenge of uniting a divided country. He will also face the challenges of building a healthy relationship with Russia, rooting out the mass corruption, and weeding through foreign intervention (requested and otherwise) in shaping the Ukrainian identity.

Yushchenko must accomplish all of this in rapid fashion if he is to prevent possible civil war and bring prosperity, or at least the hope of, to a very frustrated people.

The major sidebar component of this story of course is how this event will be viewed. Foreign subversion from Russia has been longstanding, but the more recent financial and advisory intrusion that Western Europe and the United States has been part of has raised eyebrows. Particularly I am curious if some 'progressives' can view these elections as a cause of celebration that a nation, just over 10 years into the democratic process has taken such an advanced step. Or will it be scrutinized further because America has been part of the process? Can these progressives get beyond their contempt for America (often times their own host nation) and rejoice when Democracy Works?

Let's see what the next few days bring in terms of editorials, reports and developments concerning the Ukraine.

So, I say “Dobry Den” to the people of the New Ukraine. Your quest for independence has been long, but it appears you have taken a giant leap forward.


Posted by mightymerk, 8:22 PM | link | (0) comments |

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas to All!!


Merry Christmas to All!!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

"And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid ... And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord."

"And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men."

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." - Linus Van Pelt

Posted by mightymerk, 6:01 AM | link | (0) comments |

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Rumsfeld in Kuwait...the whole exchange.


The general media has been fairly crafty the way they have depicted Secretary Rumsfled the past few weeks.

Most notably is the way the exchange between Secretary Rumsfeld and a U.S. soldier during his Townhall meeting in Kuwait on December 8th. Putting aside the "fact" that the question itself was embedded by a reporter, what needs to be looked at is the actual answer given.

The soundbite world we are now living in has reduced the exchange to the soldier essentially like this:

Question:
Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. My question is more logistical. We’ve had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we’ve always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don’t we have those resources readily available to us? [Applause]

Answer from Rumsfeld:
"As you know, you go to war with the army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

Sounds rather arrogant and smug doesn't it?


Let's look exactly how the exchange was handled from the official transcripts:

Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. My question is more logistical. We’ve had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we’ve always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don’t we have those resources readily available to us? [Applause]

SEC. RUMSFELD: I missed the first part of your question. And could you repeat it for me?

Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We’re digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that’s already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I talked to the General coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they’re not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I’m told that they are being – the Army is – I think it’s something like 400 a month are being done. And it’s essentially a matter of physics. It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It’s a matter of production and capability of doing it.

As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe – it’s a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.

I can assure you that General Schoomaker and the leadership in the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable for it to have, but that they’re working at it at a good clip. It’s interesting, I’ve talked a great deal about this with a team of people who’ve been working on it hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and, the vehicle, the goal we have is to have as many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that is what the Army has been working on.

And General Whitcomb, is there anything you’d want to add to that?

GEN. WHITCOMB: Nothing. [Laughter] Mr. Secretary, I’d be happy to. That is a focus on what we do here in Kuwait and what is done up in the theater, both in Iraq and also in Afghanistan. As the secretary has said, it’s not a matter of money or desire; it is a matter of the logistics of being able to produce it. The 699th, the team that we’ve got here in Kuwait has done [Cheers] a tremendous effort to take that steel that they have and cut it, prefab it and put it on vehicles. But there is nobody from the president on down that is not aware that this is a challenge for us and this is a desire for us to accomplish.

SEC. RUMSFELD: The other day, after there was a big threat alert in Washington, D.C. in connection with the elections, as I recall, I looked outside the Pentagon and there were six or eight up-armored humvees. They’re not there anymore. [Cheers] [Applause] They’re en route out here, I can assure you. Next. Way in the back. Yes.



Decide for yourself if the answer itself is appropriate, valid, whatever, but it what is not in question is that a full explanation was offered to the soldier and it certainly sounded like the problem was actively being addressed by the DOD.

Now I must admit to you. I have always maintained a liking to Donald Rumsfeld and I have been for some time (well before the current war). He is the person most responsible for modernizing our military to such an extend that we could militarily defeat a hostile nation in 3 weeks, and with relatively little loss of human life on both sides of the conflict). I encourage anyone the least bit interested to read about Donald Rumsfelds entire history, in addition to the daily consumption of the "sound bite" lessons offered by the media.

At the same time, it must be observed that Secretary Rumsfeld has fallen short with regards to handling modern occupation in a hostile environment. To say that we have thus far been grossly unprepared for the visciousness and strength of the insurgent forces would be a gross undestatement. From all that I know and have read though, it is virtually an impossible task to perfect this type of 'governing' given the circumstances. This is increasingly difficult when one wants to remain 'humane' in this effort.

Make no mistake about it though. A majority of Rumsfelds critics are inspired not by Abu Graib, or Kevin Sites video of a U.S. marine shooting a dying Iraqi in a Mosque. As deplorable as these acts may have been, the most viscious critics of Donald Rumsfeld are more fearful and concered about the success that "Rummy's Army" has had to date and its immediate impact on "World Politics". It seems that an American Military, up for any challenge, is unsettling to some, despite the great good it is doing.
Posted by mightymerk, 7:00 AM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Pinochet - a lesser of two evils?

A reuters article reports that former Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet was in a hospital on Sunday recovering from a stroke. A court ruling is due tomorrow regarding the human rights violation charges against him.

A quote from the article:
"More than 3,000 people died in political violence during the Pinochet era, and more than 27,000 were tortured. Many more were forced into exile after the 1973 coup encouraged by the United States launched Pinochet to power."


I do not dispute these "facts".

Pinochet in my words:

In Chile, the United States helped overthrow a pro-Castro Marxist government headed by Salvador Allende. Allende wanted to install a regime modeled after Castro’s Cuba. After a successful coup, that the U.S. supported, Augustin Pinochet became the new leader (albeit another Dictator). Pinochet was a brutal dictator by all accounts, ruling with an iron fist and suppressing all critics. Yes, Pinochet is one of those brutal Dictators that the U.S. tolerated/supported from time to time that did lead to a happy ending (so to speak). Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan is another example of this.

Pinochet had always justified his military regime to his people and the world as a temporary measure in much the same way that Castro had defended the revolutionary dictatorship. It was necessary to defend the regime, restore stability, and create the economic foundations of a true democracy.

In time, Pinochet introduced free market policies and eventually transformed Chile into a multiparty democracy. After 15 years of Pinochet’s rule, Chile had become one richest in Latin America. Pinochet lost the first free election in Chile. Pinochet stepped down. His dictatorship had indeed been a temporary measure.

At the same time, socialist in Europe wanted to hold a similar election that would create a democracy in Cuba and approached Fidel Castro. Castro refused.

Some quick Q&A with myself: (why not?)
What is Castro's human rights record? Deplorable, far worse then Pinochet.
Why is Castro a hero? Because he is the proverbial David to America's Goliath. Human Right's watchers tend to look the other way to those who act in supposed 'defiance', of America.
What makes Pinochet so different? His affiliation with America.

In your individual 'stack rank' of bad things and bad people, rank the Pinochet regime where you feel appropriate.

Final thoughts:
In a world governing body full of selective enforcement, Pinochet's handling shall remain interesting. Despite political insignificance (the past 15 years) and ambiguity with regards to this relationship with the United States, one must wonder just what is to be done with him.
Posted by mightymerk, 7:46 PM | link | (0) comments |

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The ACLU...another loss for parents and children!

What a story

let me say it again

WHAT A FREAKING STORY!!

Parents....be concerned.

In this case a mother tried to stop her daughter from heading down a potential path of crime. The mother, clearly alarmed that the boyfriend, and subsequently her daughter, were "out of control", listened in on her daughter's conversation on night and found out that the boyfriend had been involved in a purse-snatching crime. The mother reported what she heard and testified against him in court.

Hold on, the ACLU in all of its wisdom and supposed concern for the wellfare of children has something to say. Attorney Douglas Klunder, filed an amicus curaie supporting the boyfriend on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Court ruled that: "[b]ased on the subjective
intentions and reasonable expectations of [the boyfriend] and [the daughter], their
conversation was a private one." And Mrs. Dixon violated Washington's privacy act when she listened in. The boyfriends conviction was overturned. Hail Justice!!

Douglas Klunder (ACLU) went on to say, "I don't think the state should be in the position of encouraging parents to act surreptitiously and eavesdrop on their children".
This all sounds nice in the land of cake and ice cream. Of course it seems like being a parent and taking responsibility only involves the actual conception and financial support.

I am sure some of you, non-parents especially, might not see the harm in this. You may even feverishly support such a ruling. A true victory for childrens rights.

Of course this decision is just another meter down the slippery slope of the ever expanding government control of our minds and souls.

Quick check list:

Tooth extraction at the dentist for minors: Parental permission needed
Abortion for a minor: Parental permission not needed

Child does not wear bike helmet while riding on public/private property : Parental Responsiblity. Parent will face fine on first infraction, possible court sentence with further infractions.
Child discussing criminal activity on private phone (owned by parent): Not Parental Responsibility

The federal wiretapping act has been interpreted to except communications where a parent acts to protect the welfare of the child. The Washington Supreme court failed to recognize that interpretation. Parents, Good Parents, want to protect their children. Too bad it seem that it needs to be a Government Approved event. And yet everyone claims to be worried about the lack of parental discipline.

Let's just imagine that the parents of Columbine Killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had been a little more intrusive in their childs lives.

Perhaps they could of taken a serious look at their internet activities. "Hey Eric why all the lists of people and things you hate in life?"

Or perhaps their home library. "Hey Dylan, why are you reading Mein Kampf? Is it for a school project? It Isn't? Then what is it for?"

Heaven Forbid they took a look under the bed to find the arsenal of weapons!! No doubt young Eric and Dylan had a reasonable expectation that their parents would not be searching their rooms as they were their private quarters.

The more I imagine this, the more I see Eric and Dylan's parents testifying in court in their own defense (for parental spying), while a great many of the teachers and students at Columbine continue to live.

Posted by mightymerk, 6:27 PM | link | (3) comments |

Saturday, December 11, 2004

One Borshch, hold the Dioxin Please!!


BadSoup, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

From the Associated Press...

VIENNA, Austria - Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned with dioxin, doctors said Saturday, adding that the highly toxic chemical could have been put in the opposition leader's soup, producing the severe disfigurement and partial paralysis of his face.

Viktor Yushchenko is the pro-West candidate for Presidency in the Ukraine. His opponent Viktor Yanukovych is supported by the largely Russian speaking population of the east, departing President Leonid Kuchma and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Can the Ukraine gain full independence (and not just in name) from it's Russo/Soviet past? Unlike Georgia for instance, despite being the birthplace of Stalin, the Ukraine is a very resource intensive interest (in terms of raw materials, weapons production, and people) to Russia, and of significant geo-political interest to the West. Often in such cases the will of the people is just the 'sidebar issue'. Can the planned elections on Dec. 26th proceed honestly? What is to happen if Russia simply does not let go? Three forces are at battle once again. East, West and the native populations. Some party, if not multiple parties are not going to be happy come Dec. 26th.

Foreign subversion from both Russia, the United States and members of the EU is certain. While millions of dollars, and hundreds of 'advisors' flow in from the West, someone quite possibly from the East have added Dioxin to these key ingredients of Borshch:

100g or 200g of meat with rib bones (prefferably beef)
1 big onion
1 beetroot
1 large or 2 small carrots
50g of pork fat
half a lemon

Dioxin

1-2 tbsp of tomato paste
3or 4 large potatoes
200g of cabbage
bay leaf
salt,pepper

I myself have had a few bowls of Borsch, even a nice bowl in Moscow. I love it dearly, but it is certainly not to die for.

Posted by mightymerk, 6:08 PM | link | (0) comments |

Noam Chomsky: Deconstructing Christmas (1998)


noam-chomsky-image2, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

This PBS/WGBH special featured linguist and social commentator Chomsky sitting at a desk, explaining how the development of the commercial Christmas season directly relates to the loss of individual freedoms in the United States and the subjugation of indigenous people in southeast Asia.

Despite a rave review by Z magazine, musical guest Zach de la Rocha and the concession of Chomsky to wear a seasonal hat for a younger demographic appeal, this is known to be the least requested Christmas special ever made.

From The Ten Least Successful Holiday Specials of All time - by John Scalzi

Segway into a a new blog from yours truly, The Chomsky Review.

Enjoy

Posted by mightymerk, 1:03 PM | link | (0) comments |

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Muslim World Without it(s) America & Israel(s) campaign is Lost

Take a look at the above sentence. Add the commas and inflections as you see fit.

Is it:
The Muslim plight without it(s) America and Israel(s) campaign, is lost?

-or-

The Muslim plight, without it(s), America and Israel(s) campaign is lost?

Did the way you initially read the title of this blog fit your ideological thinking? Or did you originally comprehend this in direct opposition?

This example, and I may be stretching it, fits in nicely to a little exercise I encountered while studying critical thinking and linguistics. The actual example I encountered went like this:

A woman without her man would be lost

So how did you read this sentence?
A woman without her man, would be lost.

-or-

A woman, without her, man would be lost.

So why this little exercise in linguistics. It had to do with this recent article I read by Ami Taheri who is an independent journalist I sometimes read in the New York Post (amongst other places). As many of you know I continually argue that U.S. foreign policy can not be argued independently of the 'real world'. Those who oppose this view, counter that U.S. policy is the primary catalyst for most of the instability in the world.

The central theme of Mr. Taheri's article questions whether the Muslim World is against the United States because it is pro-Israel, or if in fact the Muslim World is anti-Israel because it is pro-U.S. So is the Muslim world, Israel and the United States too caught up in the Palestine-Israel conflict? Or has it become the "default" explanation for the unrest and misery for much of the Arab world? Are the elites of one or more of these nations banking on the Palestine-Israel conflict for carte blanche governing status?

A quote I found rather striking, and I hope encourages you to read the full article is:

"Right now there are 22 active conflicts across the globe in which Muslims are involved. Most Muslims have not even heard of most of them because those conflicts do not provide excuses for fomenting hatred against the United States.

Next time you hear someone say the US was in trouble in the Muslim world because of Israel, remember that things may not be that simple."



Posted by mightymerk, 5:54 PM | link | (3) comments |

Monday, December 06, 2004

Age of the "Asterisk Athletes"


def-asterisk, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Big News was made last week when it was learned, if not confirmed for many, that Major Leage Baseball greats Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi were using steroids. The only shocking thing about this may be the fact that it took so long.

Shockwaves were sent around the sporting community. For Giambi, he is being accused of tarnishing Yankee pride and honor. Some people have short memories and seem to forget these examples of "Yankee Pride" here and here.

For me personally the Pride of the Yankees still belongs to this great man, Lou Gehrig. As my father would say though, "Lou Gehrig came from the day when they built Iron Men and Wooden Ships". I would have to agree.

Barry Bonds finds himself in more of a hot seat though as he is perhaps just one season away from shattering one of the ultimate records in all of professional sports, the Lifetime Home Run record. With 703 home runs, Bonds trails only Babe Ruth(714) and Hank Aaron (755).

Hank Aaron admitted himself that he is somewhat disturbed by Bonds disclosures. I can't say I blame him. Hank Aaron, in breaking Babe Ruth's standing record, had to endure the endless shouting of racial insults and death threats as he was about to eclipsse Ruth's records. When Aarong did finally pass Ruth he did so honorably and in fine baseball tradition (even if all of baseball didn't love him at the time). The shame in what Bonds is doing is that he is surpoassing a monumental milestone in less then honorable fashion. Aarong was a selfless individual as Bonds is completely selfish. Bonds defied the laws of nature by hitting 73 home runs in a single season, but he also defied the laws of the game and ethics in general. Some are suggesting that asterisk's be put on the records of athletes who are known to have used performance enhancing drugs. I could not agree more.

Are Giambi and Bonds alone in baseball? Of course they are not. And baseball is not alone in sports. Professional Cycling has been riddled with riders using performance enhancing drugs and techniques like blood doping. Although the big ripple in the Olympics came when Ben Johnson was stripped of his Gold Medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics , the history of Performance Enhancing Drugs in the Olympics is long and robust.

A popular slogan from players on the football team at my high school were "If you want to get bigger you have to pull the trigger", meaning injecting yourself with steroids. I fine it impossible to believe that the pressure do not become much larger, even as verbiage becomes more muted in the higher ranks.

As the athletes and their records get bigger, so will the list of records containing asterisks.

Posted by mightymerk, 8:23 PM | link | (0) comments |

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Blog - Addictive Fad or Communication Medium of the future?

The term BLOG tops dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster's list of the 10 words of the year.

Article here:
http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=6957386

While I have no problem professing my fascination, if not fixation at the moment, of blogging and the blogging community I do wonder whether this is fad or an actual new communication medium being developed. Does running a blog add any more legitimacy to a person, or does the fact that anyone can have run actually detract from an individual?

Unlike most other communication and reporting mediums no degree in journalism, or level of relative work experience is necessary. I am often amazed at just how much traffic some of even the most amateur blogs get. Keep in mind the mighty blogs are equally amateurish, it just doesn't get all the traffic of others!! ;)
Some people, Andrew Sullivan for instance, are actually making a living off of this. Others supplement their income through their blog. Blogger.com just showcased a woman's blog that is being published into a book, all about broken relationships she had.
The Blog has allowed individual people through 'cut & pastes', linking and referring web sites etc., to become virtual publishing houses and opinion bases. Individual editorials are occurring in the tens of thousands each day. For those of you who blog frequently now, do you not admit your bookmark list has grown drastically recently?

I myself have even contemplated seeking contributors and make something a little more of this blog so it becomes something of a super hobby to me and more appealing to others. I am not sure this will get beyond the concept phase however.

With all this great news I do have some general concerns. Not fully developed thoughts I will list them in bullet point fashion:

· Will the written record (on paper) be lost to some extent? Will future generations be able to access this information/work/opinion base?

· Yes, at least in America, we have the freedom to express ourselves in virtually every way, but how will the accessibility to the general rants of people (controversial and otherwise) affect future job candidates, spouses, law enforcement officials, teachers etc.?

· People freak when they lose some work data or an unfinished email. How will the potential loss of one's life work/thoughts/memories etc. impact them? Who is liable?

· Legal ramifications are coming. Many blogs are vehicles for slander pieces regarding ex-lovers, employers, teachers etc. Talks is cheap but what happens when things go over the line?

As with most things, blogging will continue to take a life of its own and shape itself in large by cultural preference, social attitudes and increasing general acceptance. While caution is a solid virtue to uphold, I believe the far greater good outweighs any potential risk we may or may not be considering today.

Posted by mightymerk, 1:43 PM | link | (3) comments |