Wednesday, September 15, 2010


There was a time when I thought Newt Gingrich might be better than a thrice married, cheating douche who divorced his wife when she was diagnosed with cancer, but clearly I was delusional. Apparently, Newt and Dinesh D'Souza, who makes me feel shame as an Indian, have decided Obama holds "a Kenyan, anti-colonial worldview" and cannot be trusted. I guess the "Kenyan" reference just means Newt and D'Souza don't like non-white people. A strange sentiment for D'Souza given that he is not white. He could simply be a self-loather?
The "anti-colonial worldview" is what I find most strange. As a former history professor, Newt should know that the United States of America was founded by anti-colonialists. George Washington, the first president and one of the founding fathers, was an anti-colonialist. Apparently he skipped that class. Note to self, do not let friends go to Newt's alma mater.
Their are sure to take on a life of their own now that Glenn Beck has managed to equate anti-colonialism with socialism. One more apt would pair anti-colonialism with freedom. As the Tea Partiers rally, I hope they realize the oppressive federal government which they claim does not heed the will of the people has a lot in common with anti-colonialists desire for freedom from an oppressive government that regards them as less than equal. Although what is worse, the hypocrisy of the Tea Party or the ignorance?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My Reading List

Wow. It's literally been months. But I am back, not sure for how long, but the next ten to fifteen minutes at least. Work really interferes with my ability to blog. However, it has not interfered with my ability to get in the occasional light read. Yeah!

I just finished reading three books, two of which, Atonement and The Blind Side, I was really excited about, and the other The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which I only bought because it was part of a 'Buy 1, Get 1 50% Off' deal at Borders. The Memory Keeper's Daughter was utterly useless. Quite frankly, I am surprised it hasn't made the Oprah Book Club list yet. But I suppose she has been busy campaigning for Barack. Anyway, I don't want to waste anymore time on the book. I already lost two hours of my life to it.

I was a little suspicious of Atonement, especially when the movie previews came out with Keira Knightly pouting around an English estate in that ridiculous green dress. But what can I say, I am a sucker for romance and period novels. By now, I am sure everyone is familiar with the plot - a little melodramatic no? Star crossed, class crossed lovers. Separated by a horrid lie, wrought from a child with an over active imagination, and Hitler's war. But in a period romance, it is unavoidable!

However, beyond the melodrama, the pacing of the book seemed off. I found the first part of the book interesting and well written, but slow. I could skip entire pages without missing anything at all. Especially true during the battle scenes. Not quite sure what was going on there. Despite my issues with the first part of the book, I found the latter half of the book far less engaging. Not only was the plot was completely predictable! it was also rushed.

Character development was another issues. Robbie and Cee, the emotional center of the novel failed to deliver for me. I didn't feel any connection to them what so ever. To the end, Robbie in remained nothing but a hormonal teenager disguised as a chain smoking, Cambridge intellectual. And Cee wasn't much better as a vapid, ineffectual, little rich girl.

Since reading The Blind Side, I have found myself watching football differently. I confess or perhaps compliment myself on being a sophisticated football watcher, in that I have always tried to watch the offensive line and the pocket. But the left tackle. Never really knew who he was, until Michael Lewis told me.

I found the first chapter or so of the book on the "evolution of the game" really interesting. The evolving importance of the passing game, the spread offense, the West Coast offense, etc. The decline of the running back, and the increased importance of the quarterback and hence the quarterback's protector, in the evolving passing game. The second half of the book, the story of Michael Oher was touching, something I would expect to see in the New York Times Magazine, where it was apparently excerpted some time back. But in a way the "rags to riches" story of Oher is troubling. Based on what I know of Memphis, the state of Tennessee, and Harold Ford Jr.'s unsuccessful presidential bid, there is something almost sinister in the way a rich, white, Southern, Christian, Republican family adopted Oher. Would they have adopted him if they hadn't seen his potential as an athlete? I can't help but wonder. I also can't help but wonder if my cynicism is getting in the way of appreciating real love and generosity.

At some point, the book became a bit tedious. It lacked the wit that I expect from Lewis. Towards the end it becomes clear that there are kids like Oher all across America's cities with the talent to make it as professional athletes. But they lack the access to education, to scouts, to a strong support structure, etc. You cannot help but wonder what the right market clearing price for talent would be if all these kids could be "adopted" like Oher. Or what it could mean in terms of uplifting entire families and breaking the cycle of poverty that pervades the inner city. On the whole though, the book ended up feeling a little more Reader's Digest, which is not a bad thing per say, just unexpected. So reader beware, this is no Liar's Poker.

Still I am look forward to seeing Michael Oher play next year either for Ole Miss or as a first round draft pick. Who would ever have thought the block and tackle would be worth more than the golden arm!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

I almost couldn't believe it when I opened up my e-mail and saw the WSJ alert on Karl Rove's resignation. I thought he would stay until the bloody end. But perhaps he realizes that he has already inflicted the maximum amount of carnage possible on this country. After all, a sinking ship can't really attack those around them. Or perhaps, more simply, Rove is trying to protect whatever is left of his legacy as a brilliant political strategist. The 2006 mid-term elections did not leave much. But it is unlikely he would have survived the remaining one year plus unscathed. If I was Bush though, I would be a little hurt by Rove's resignation. The Captain is supposed to stay with his ship, even when it is sinking. Apparently, Karl Rove was one of the few who missed Leo and Kate's 'Titanic'. I wonder how long it will be before Cheney and Condi take the last life raft. So it appears that without his most vociferous pit bull, Bush is being backed even further into a corner.

Somehow the current state of Bush's administration reminds me a bit of Richard the III, abandoned by his men on the battle field, alone and without a horse. I wonder when Bush will be willing to trade his "kingdom for a horse". Both men cut rather pathetic figures, but strangely Richard the III, who allegedly murdered his nephews and tried to marry his niece, is more sympathetic to me. I guess that goes to show what I think of GWB.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Return of the Gilded Age?

Reading the paper these days makes me feel fatigued. I am tired of reading about the misery in Africa - Darfur, the Congo, Sierra Leone - where nothing ever seems to change, of New Orleans where Bush probably still thinks that Brownie did a "heckuva job", and Edward's two Americas - honestly, since when did Fortress care about high school educated textile factory workers? Perhaps my renewed cynicism is unjustified. But I am inclined to think not.

The newspapers are full of articles discussing the growing inequality between the rich and the poor. They allege that today's concentration of wealth rivals that of the Gilded Age - the age of monopolies, Standard Oil, and the Vanderbilts (who were famous for their balls, especially the one where they dressed as "the poor"). They quote statistics where CEO pay is over 1000x that of the average employee. And if that isn't disturbing, one only has to look at the earnings of hedge fund and private equity managers. My parents used to say, if it's too good to be true, it is. And I believe them!

These private investors claim to be creating value, and no doubt they are indeed creating value for themselves, but what about the business they shut down, the communities they hurt, the people they fire? I have no doubt that Cerberus will manage to make a fist full of money on Chrysler but it will be on the backs of Chrysler's employees and the community.

People, including some of my friends, argue that the best way to give back to the community is not to volunteer through organized programs, but to amass enough wealth such that you are able to distribute it at your discretion. So perhaps that is what guys like Schwartz and Ross plan to do, but will that make up for the costs associated with accumulating that wealth? Also I can't help but wonder who is a better redistributer of wealth - the individual or the government. I recognize government is not a particularly inefficient vehicle, but I am inclined to think it is best for the average American. Individuals tend to give their money to pet causes that certainly to benefit some people, but perhaps not as many as they could.

But why even bother trying to determine if there is a better way. The people who have the money control the politicians who control the law. And the hypocrisy is unbelievable. Chuck Schumer, who is all about protecting the poor and the middle class, does not think it is reasonable to tax private equity/hedge fund carry as income. One can't help but wonder if that has anything at all to do with the fact that hedge fund managers are among his biggest supporters.

I am not really sure what it is that I am talking about anymore... so I am going to stop.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bourne Again

Yesterday, I went to see the latest installment of the Bourne series - The Bourne Ultimatum. I confess I was a bit disappointed, especially after all the hype it received from the reviewers. Especially Magnolia Dargis or whatever her name is... but then I tend to discount her opinion a bit. She likes everything. But I suppose on reflection that it was Number 3 in the series, it wasn't half bad. In comparison to Pirates of the Caribbean 3, it was gem. Matt Damon really does play Bourne well.

The previews they showed before the movie were quite disturbing. One was about an FBI investigation of a terrorist bombing in Saudi Arabia. I am quite sure this movie won't be screening in Mecca, Medina, or Riyadh. If by some freak chance it does, I have a feeling it will do nothing to improve US-Middle East relations. Following up that was a preview for the movie 'Rendition'... yeah, a real upper. I wonder if we as a country are ready for movies where are country condones and encourages the torture of men who are very likely innocent. I remember wondering the same thing when 'United 93' or whatever that movie was came out. Then came the preview for the movie 'Beowolf'. Wow. I don't remember British Literature being like that... certainly there was no Angelina Jolie. If that movie makes any money, it will likely be on the backs of high school kids who are failing English.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Tragedy of TV Summers and Other Nonsense

After the mosquitoes come out, summer evenings end up being nothing more than a huge bore. To make matters worse, there is absolutely nothing on TV. It's like going to the mall with money and the intent to shop and finding nothing to buy or going to the candy store and finding it closed or just full of sugar free crap. Honestly, the state of summer television is truly distressing, unless you are a fan of random reality TV like Joey Fat-one and the 'Singing Bee'. I think there has only been one interesting show this summer, and that is 'Psych'. It has Charlie from the 'West Wing'. He's so cute, I just want to pat him on the head.

In other related nonsense, I had the opportunity to watch Poker on a 46" LCD HDTV. I am not sure that Poker does the TV justice. I am also not sure why anyone would watch such crap. It is just as bad as bowling. As for the commentators. I almost pity the fools, what did they do to deserve such a gig, and do they have writers or do they come up with their own inane drivel? God, I miss the fall. I miss football. I miss real sports!

I can't begin to tell you how excited I was to see 'Wicked'. I read the book and loved it, and while I had heard mixed reviews about the musical's fidelity to the novel, I was hoping... well talk about misplaced hope. The musical destroys the book. Utterly and completely. And the songs, I am sure they were good, if only I could have made out the words. Definitely not the super fabulous production I was hoping for.

I have been trying to pay attention to the latest administration scandals, but quite frankly Alberto Gonzalez spews so much garbage, I just can't keep it straight. In fact, listening to him talk gives me a headache. I wonder if that is why GWB keeps him around... he annoys people so much, they forget that they should really be frustrated by the president who condones his very existence.

Oh, and about Harry Potter. What was up with the LOTR theme? How could they let ***** kill *********. It was supposed to be ******* dammit! And *** and ******** and ***** and ***** could JK have been any more predictable? Yeah, and the whole thing with the elder wand? How was its master *****? I thought for sure it would have been ***** or *****. Gotta say, I was a little let down by the whole production. So much for Harry and Luna ending up together forever or the raising of the dead with the end of the Dark Lord. Sigh...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who Will Die?

I saw the latest installment of the Harry Potter series today. It was actually my favorite one to date. Things actually started happening and there was no quidditch. (Thank god! That game is worse than cricket!) Watching today's movie made me wonder though, which two characters are going to die in the final book. I believe that there are supposed to be two main characters who die...

Harry Potter? Unlikely. If he dies, will anyone bother to see movie six and seven? Little kids all over the world will be heartbroken. The Queen will have to take back the knighthood or whatever it is she conferred on Rowling.

Ron Weasley? I think very likely. The best friend and sidekick tragically dying to help his best friend save the world. Seems appropriate. Besides Ron doesn't really do much besides occupy otherwise empty space.

Hermione Granger? I hope not. She is the only real main female character... they can't kill her. It's sexist I tell you!

Neville Longbottom? The boy has suffered enough. Crazies for parents, an utter and complete lack of social skills, and that name! Ach!

Severus Snape? Quite likely, and my sister will probably agree. The most hated man at Hogwarts will be beloved once everyone finds out he was only doing Dumbledore's bidding.

Draco Malfoy? He's pretty useless. I am not sure Rowling even plans to redeem him. If she isn't going to redeem him, then he is not important enough to go down in a blaze of glory...

So who do you think will die? I wonder if I should pre-order book seven... I seem to have succumbed to Potter mania.