Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy 80th, Kid

Willie Mays, the "say hey kid", turns 80 today. It is not an exaggeration to call him the greatest baseball player of all time. And certainly one of the classiest.

On afternoon back in May of 1964, I was sitting in a grade school classroom, when my Father showed up. He told my teacher that I had a dentist appointment, and took me out of class. But he didn't take me to the dentist. Instead, we went to Candlestick Park, where my Dad got us center field bleacher seats. My first baseball game. Dad told me to watch Willie, as he was (according to Dad) "the greatest ballplayer you'll ever see." 47 years later, Dad was still right. I've never seen another player who's as good at every facet of the game. Willie Mays remains the greatest baseball player I've ever seen.

If you doubt me, take a look at the Willie Mays page at Baseball Reference. Other players may have been better at one part of the game or another. But Willie was among the best at hitting, power, speed, fielding, and throwing of all time. He was the complete package.

So, Happy Birthday, Willie. Thank you for letting me watch, and learn to appreciate, the greatness of baseball.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I don't care what day you say it is. I am not putting my mayonnaise in my sink.

Keeping it Simple

Seems like the whole (never) right wing is freaking out that Obama got Osama. They feel that shrub should be getting the credit.
Here's the simple response:
Shrub disbanded the CIA's bin Laden task force in 2005.
Obama reinstated the bin Laden task force shortly after taking office in 2009.
Those are the facts. Deal with it, wingnuts.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Geek Humor

May the Fourth be with you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Few More Thoughts on bin Laden's Death

Obviously, this is major news. But like most major news stories, the killing of Osama bin Laden will have ramifications and repercussions that will take time to play out. Still, I have some thoughts that I want to express.

First, a little personal background: I first took interest in bin Laden in the late 1990's after the African Embassy and U.S.S. Cole bombings. I'd been interested in Middle East politics and history for many years, and began trying to learn Arabic in 1995. As I read more of bin Laden's fatwas and began to understand more about Al Qaeda's brand of Wahhabi extremism, I became convinced that his threats were quite real. Osama was a quite complex man, an extremely wealthy, western educated Saudi elite who embraced a primitive fanaticism for an Islamic caliphate coupled with extreme anti-Americanism. In his many fatwas, he was strikingly clear about his plans for jihad against the U.S. and the types of tactics he intended to utilize. When 9/11 occurred, my immediate reaction was "damn, bin Laden pulled it off" (ask Sweaterman, who was stuck listening to my rants hours before the media made the Al Qaeda connection) as it was the type of attack I had been expecting. Really, he told us what he intended to do long before he actually did it, in accordance with Islamic laws of war, but it certainly seemed that the shrub administration ignored his words as the 'ravings of a madman'. Which was a frustrating issue; it was easy to dismiss bin Laden's threats because they sounded 'crazy' to our world view, but I never doubted that he was honest about his intentions nor doubt his capabilities.

Obligatory reading: the much more knowledgeable Juan Cole at Informed Comment has posted his thoughts titled Obama and the End of Al-Qaeda, which has both a very complete history of bin Laden and a thoughtful look at the implications of his death. A small sample:

Then he and his number two man, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, came to the conclusion that the reason they could not overthrow the governments of Egypt (Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship) and Saudi Arabia and so forth was that these were backed by the United States. They decided it had been a mistake to hit the “near enemy” first. They decided to hit the “far enemy” on American soil. Bin Laden thought that if only he could entice the US into the Middle East, he could do to it what he thought he had done to the Soviet Union.

One salient fact that most Americans don't understand, and would vehemently deny: Osama bin Laden is winning his war. He made quite clear that his strategy was to destroy the American economy, and thereby empire, by dragging us into a prolonged occupation and warfare in the Islamic Middle East. Shrub did exactly what Osama desired by invading Iraq, and the subsequent draining of the American economy has been exactly what he intended to achieve. His death does nothing to change that reality.

After 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, bin Laden ceded all operational control of Al Qaeda. He became a figurehead who hoped to inspire the offspring of multiple regional splinter groups, and again he has been successful. Killing him may seem like a symbolic victory for America, but his martyrdom is also the symbolism he intended. The only way this will benefit America will be if it hastens our withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and if we change our counter terrorism strategy away from military intervention towards greater intelligence gathering and very carefully targeted operations.

Killing Osama was necessary for the American psyche, but we're still in the same mess today as we were yesterday.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Interesting that Osama bin Laden has finally met justice. I'm surprised by a few of the details. Near Islamabad. In a mansion. In a firefight. Lengthy intelligence operation.

The media seem to forget that bin Laden issued his Fatwa against America long before 9/11. They do remember shrub saying "dead or alive", but will they notice that it was actually Obama who got Osama? And if what Obama said is anywhere close to the truth, they're actually engaging in useful intelligence. And some old fashioned spywork.

One big factor is that ISI was clearly involved. That will have some serious political implications in both Pakistan and Afghanistan,

Al Queda will still exist, but without bin Laden it will be weaker. So today's news is good.

May Day

Sorry about the paucity of posts. Between 'blogger malaise' and my internet service being down repeatedly, there hasn't been much activity here. Just a brief note to Verizon: 'upgrading' is a term that usually means improving service in some way, not making it crash every other day.