Friday, June 26, 2009

Can't "Say" Enough

What needs to be noted, and you cannot count on cable news to do it, is putting some true pop culture context to how big a deal Michael Jackson was. Sure, we can talk about how many albums he sold and all kinds of stuff.

But you have to go deeper than that. Lots of people have sold a ton of records. But, not everybody gets to collaborate with Paul McCartney.

Seriously, imagine you're a Beatle. You don't just work with any schmuck out there. Sir Paul and MJ worked together often, but rarely as good as this:

Say Say Say - Paul McCartney And Michael Jackson

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thoughts on Iran...

I have a few opinions about all this Iran stuff. So let's have at it:

  • Many Americans are confusing their issues here. Standing up for the right of the Iranian people to protest is fine and dandy. Asking for the overturn of the election entirely... this might be a bit flawed. First of all, maybe Mir Hossein Mousavi is more moderate than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad... but seriously, it's not like he's the shiite Obama. If he took power, it might be more of a Krushchev to Kosygin shift: not the crazy shoe-banging guy, but still not taking down the big red flag. And this whole backing one horse over the other...
  • ...could be a flipping disaster! All these people anxious to see the election overturned need to remember that Ahmadinejad isn't exactly unpopular in Iran. They could hold a flipping election overseen by the Swiss and he could still win. Well, won't that be good for foreign relations if we push on this issue too much?
  • What no one is talking about needs to be discussed: this could not be happening if McCain had won last year. Since Bush took power, the U.S. has only had a hardline stance toward Iran. And it created a situation that galvanized the Iranian people. Even the most moderate Iranian could hear the Bush rhetoric and say "hey screw off, America, I'm voting for the crazy, mildly militaristic guy who drives you up a wall." McCain was clear in his campaign that he envisioned no change in the general diplomatic approach to Iran. If McCain wins, it's fair to say Iran's population puts aside their internal differences in the interest of defending against American rhetorical attacks. Instead, we've got Obama. And the only thing he does better than give speeches is make incredibly quiet-but-calculating decisions that work in America's favor. Seriously... the guy has been in office five months. he has mentioned a willingness to start talking with Iran (provided some generally-understandable conditions can be brokered) and starts making ovations to the moderate Islamic world. And here we are, not even into July and Iran is a mess! We couldn't have done this with guns. We have appealed to the intellectual spirit of Iranians. They look at us, find fault, but see we're not being unreasonable. In fact, maybe their guy is being unreasonable. Maybe they need to vote him out. They try to. Someone smells fraud. Now they're fighting in their own streets. You think we could have done any other way? Puh-lease. Obama has started - not fully succeeded, but started - to make the people of countries like Iran accountable for the ways they are viewed by the West. And we're seeing a good number of them care greatly about that.
The bottom line to all this... we should leave our cards in the deck. Let this game play out on its own. Either the population's discontent will ferment over coming months and years and there will be another Iranian revolution or Iran will isolate itself through tactics that even its current allies cannot abide.

In other words, reform will come organically or Iran will become another North Korea. And, despite all the sound and fury, North Korea is one mistake away from not even having the Chinese fighting for its interests. With no electricity.

There is nothing to be gained from America asserting itself in Iran's current turmoil.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Heat it Up

Wow, how has it been a month since I last blogged. Yikes.

I'm all for heat. For whatever reason, I like extreme weather as much as a nice, mild 65-degree day. When it's cold, I want it to be cold. I once walked across my college campus when the temperature, not the wind chill, was -12. And I liked it.

So this week, we've finally hit the time of year when the South turns into the South. I mean that in terms of summertime weather. It's going to be 97 here today. And, to me, the only thing that could be better would be 98.

Sure, it's roasting. And you need to drink fluids every 10 minutes or risk dehydration. But, for me, the heat defines summer. It was always roasting in Philadelphia growing up. Without fail, it was roasting in NYC. In fact, NYC often gets hotter than it does here (gotta love the heat island effect).

But the heat is conducive to a number of things, such as:

  • Laying out in the sun - I mean, if you sweat just by going outside, might as well sit as still as possible.
  • Drinking - Hot weather requires cold beverages
  • Eating - Grilling out over a 400-degree fire makes 95 degrees outside seem cool.
  • Wearing very little - Sure, winter layers are nice, but right now, you can get away with wearing as little as you feel comfortable with. And really, I don't care what anyone says, we all prefer fewer articles of clothing.
  • Turning your house into an icebox - When it's 97, my 72-degree house feels like a damn freezer. That's outstanding.
And then there are idiots like me who believe there is nothing better than doing lawn work when its ridiculously hot. I mean, sure, it's easier when it's 70 degrees outside. But it's more fulfilling on days like we're going to have this weekend (though I think I will hold off on the lawn until tomorrow when it cools down to 92).