Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Maybe it’s because, like everyone else, she doesn’t have a name. That is also true of Saramago’s fable; just because namelessness is a commonplace in modern fiction, however (see Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” for its most terrifying use), does not mean that it translates to the screen. Any attempt to blank out movie characters—after all, we know the names of the actors playing them—feels both precious and, in the case of Meirelles’s film, counterintuitive. If everyone were struck blind, names would surely become more, not less, crucial: as one means of identification was lost, we would grasp eagerly at another.I'm also intrigued to see Gael García Bernal as the bad guy. It's been years since I read the book, but I remember him being a vividly evil dude, which is something García's never been.
Another recurring theme in Mexico is surprise at how weak Bush is. This Excelsior front page features the prez looking like he's watching a beloved animal in its death throws, with the teaser quote, "We have a big problem." One of El Universal's headlines today is, "US, sunken and without leadership." Another said, "Rejection of Bush drags Mexico down." It's not schadenfreude either. No one loves Bush in Mexico, but neither paper is anti-American. The sentiment seems more of one of frustration at the vacuum at the top of the American government.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Everything indicates that a violent answer from the state against the authors of the terrorist act is in the offing. The question is obligatory: now that he's on the other side of the desk, will Calderón keep thinking that a retribution of this type will lead us to an inevitable exitless spiral that will doom the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of Mexicans?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
There's an interesting comment thread beneath Coates' post, with fans offering their picks for the best seasons and characters. Most seem to like seasons two and four the best. I thought Ziggy was way too annoying and way too present to put the second at the top of my list, but I liked the fourth season a lot. I think the third was the best, though; the dynamic between Stringer and Avon was the best stuff the show had to offer.
Not everyone who blames the US at every moment should be accused of blaming America first, but Birns and Bryant certainly seem predisposed to pointing the finger at Washington. Evo Morales kicks Ambassador Philip Goldberg out of La Paz, and its Goldberg’s own fault because “he failed to be helpful.” That’s a pretty high standard. Why is it in incumbent on a foreign ambassador to help in an internal political crisis? Any time there is a crisis in a foreign capital, should the American ambassador be tossed if he fails to be helpful? Also, how could the US help by inserting itself into a complex and longstanding local political issue? Hasn’t that usually been a recipe for problems? Short of endorsing Morales, what could Washington do to satisfy Birns and Bryant? It essentially avoided stepping on Morales’ toes publically, which shows admirable restraint, given the number of times Morales has thumbed Washington in the eye, and that Washington is ideologically more closely aligned with the opposition than with Morales. At the risk of supporting W, it seems like the US played this one right. It’s better to let Latin America solve its own problems without US mediation.
The Birns-Bryant piece is also needlessly (and bizarrely) wordy. For instance, the phrase “the baleful consequences of the inherent disrespect the U.S. historically has exhibited toward the region” has about a third more words than necessary. Later, they refer to the need to “architect a new relationship with the region that can be deemed credible.” Architect as a verb? Why, when the Queen’s English offers us build, construct, create, develop, erect, carve out, and many other possibilities that are, in fact, verbs?
Monday, September 22, 2008
William Saletan on unmanned drones that can see through walls. (I confess that after a childhood of Ah-nold movies, I am not as blown away by this as I should be. Action flicks ruin one's sense of wonderment in regard to military technology.)
Plus, Nate DiMeo on bad audiobook readers. This one includes a great clip from Brad Pitt reading All the Pretty Horses.
As angry as the game made me, it was worth watching for the chance to bear witness to the creepiest sideline-reporter anecdote ever: Tim Tebow spent his off-season circumcising kids in the Phillipines. Thanks for that nugget Tracy Wolfson!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The decision to attack defenseless civilians also shows organized crime groups' capacity to adapt and learn before a government offensive that is trying to limit their spaces with the detention of leaders and the present of more federal and state police and military personnel. The learning process includes taking advantage of the same military mobilization as part of the criminal strategy. In a complex battle, with various adversaries involved, drug traffickers try to provoke the military saturation of the territory of a rival band and, in turn, divert the government forces from other zones that presently are important to the operation of [their own] criminal enterprises.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
The luster is almost all gone now, thanks in part to Spurrier taking off for the NFL, but mostly due to Tennessee turning into a third-tier non-power. The Gators visit Neyland today, the game is televised in Mexico, we're getting seven points at home, and I don't care nearly as much as I should. Apathy sucks; Fulmer must go.
That I remember, Mexico hasn’t had such a bad public climate since that devastating year in 1994. In every area, there is a feeling of anxiety. Wherever you look, the problems that afflict the country are many.The interim includes the country's worst financial meltdown in modern history in 1995 and the grave political crisis in 2006, and it's almost all because of security. Certainly, the economy has played a role, but the American meltdown hasn't harmed Mexico as much as one might expect. Mexico's political parties are stronger than most in Latin America, but if such an environment persists, especially if the attacks in Morelia are repeated elsewhere, it's easy to imagine an Uribe-type figure from outside the normal political sphere gaining a wide following.
Friday, September 19, 2008
The Mexican state is attacked today through a sort of war of guerillasThat sounds logical, and I hope he's right, but I've read some stuff about the Family (the group presently suspected) that made me think it had quasi-ideological pretensions. I'm thinking mostly about a bizarre interview with a representative of the criminal group that was included, I think, in Cursed Inheritence, by Ricardo Ravelo. The guy went on at length and seemingly in all honesty about how the Family contributed to a safer Michoacàn. From that absence of cynicism, it's a short leap to believing you are justified in confronting the government with bombs in public spaces. Shorter, anyway, than it would be were greed the only motivator.
without any ideology or political party. The response should come from that
viewpoint and the absence of ideological content behind it should make that
challenge easier to confront.
The situation didn't improve and, one night, Chris left a message in Shirripa's voicemail: "Call me or they're going to kill me...Fucking call me."
The flip side for Republicans of losing most of their attack lines was supposed to be a series of virtues Palin would bring to the ticket: She's a reformer, a steadfast opponent of earmarks, a proponent of transparency and clean government. Subsequent reporting has revealed that Palin embodies the precise opposite of every one of these virtues. She appointed unqualified cronies, abused her power to punish personal enemies, and has displayed a Cheney-esque passion for government secrecy. Her boast of having put the state airplane on eBay was undermined by subsequent revelations that she failed to actually sell it on eBay.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The message was clear when two explosions ripped through crowds of Mexican Independence Day revelers: Anyone, anywhere, is fair game when it comes to Mexico's intensifying violence.If W was an AP reporter, this is the kind of thing he would write. That's not a compliment.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
*Whoops, he's not on the Champions roster, silly me. I guess I'll have to wait 'til next year.
Experienced leaders can certainly blunder if their minds have rigidified (see: Rumsfeld, Donald), but the records of leaders without long experience and prudence is not good. As George Will pointed out, the founders used the word “experience” 91 times in the Federalist Papers. Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared.
Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.
The idea that “the people” will take on and destroy “the establishment” is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right. Surely the response to the current crisis of authority is not to throw away standards of experience and prudence, but to select leaders who have those qualities but not the smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Mention a name or theme -- Brett Favre, the Patriots under Belichick, Lance Armstrong's comeback, Venus and Serena -- and anyone who cares about sports can have a very sophisticated discussion about the ins and outs and myth and realities and arguments and rebuttals.More:
People who don't like sports can't do that. It's not so much that they can't identify the names -- they've heard of Armstrong -- but they've never bothered to follow the flow of debate. I like sports -- and politics and tech and other topics -- so I like joining these debates. On a wide range of other topics -- fashion, antique furniture, the world of restaurants and fine dining, or (blush) opera -- I have not been interested enough to learn anything I can add to the discussion. So I embarrass myself if I have to express a view.
What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the "Bush Doctrine" exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years.
A further point. The truly toxic combination of traits GW Bush brought to decision making was:
2) Lack of curiosity
That is, he was not broadly informed to begin with (point 1). He did not seek out new information (#2); but he nonetheless prided himself (#3) on making broad, bold decisions quickly, and then sticking to them to show resoluteness.
We don't know for sure about #2 for Palin yet -- she could be a sponge-like absorber of information. But we know about #1 and we can guess, from her demeanor about #3. Most of all we know something about the person who put her in this untenable role.
Mexico says it has arrested 12 people on terrorism charges in the years since the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S., but an official said none were linked to Muslim extremist groups like al-Qaida nor were any planning to strike in the United States.Michael Chertoff follows up with a dispatch from the Department of Duh:
Officials from both nations say there hasn't been any sign of the southern U.S. border becoming an entry point for terrorists, as had been feared after the suicide jetliner hijackings that struck New York and Washington.
In a speech Wednesday on international terrorism threats, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the biggest threat in Mexico is likely the powerful drug trade, in which gangs target both police and civilians and often behead their enemies.
"These enterprises may currently be criminal enterprises, but we cannot rule out the possibility in the future that they may take on a more political coloration," he said.
In the other bouts, I like Sergio Mora to repeat his win over Vernon Forrest, and I think Juan Manuel Márquez gains a decisive decision victory over Joel Casamayor.
Gancho Boxing Inc is 10-4 in 2008 predictions.
Palin attempts to fake it for 25 seconds with a swirl of generalities before Gibson, showing all the gentleness of a remedial social studies teacher, interjects.Later:
But she can't answer the question, and she won't dismiss it. Instead she slows the interview to a crawl again, dribbling and dribbling the ball but refusing to take the shot.The interview showcases a big difference between Obama and Palin. Both are riding higher than their résumé would warrant in part because of a celebrity-type public fascination, and neither has the ideal amount of experience, but experience and preparedness are different. Obama's never given such a shallow, uninformed answer to such an important question. Maybe it was just nerves or a desire to avoid slamming the president, but flailing on the Bush Doctrine raises some enormous questions.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
What is absolutely worrying is that the efficiency showed en the case of this criminal band hasn't been seen in many other cases of kidnapping in Mexico City.If they can do it for Martí, why not for everyone? Obviously some crimes get more attention than others, and the kidnapping and murder of a 14-year-old heir will get the police's attention more than a dead prostitute, but why does the distinction have to be so great? Clearly, Mexican police are capable of police work, so why the 1-2 percent clearance rate? Ebrard (and anyone else with a presidential ambition) should be looking for answers.
Whatever the case, we hope that, with the expectation of winning support for an eventual presidential candidacy in 2012, the Ebrard government keeps offering results in combating delinquency. He'll win, and the citizens will, too.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The United States says that in order to end kidnapping in Mexico, it's necessary to eliminate drug trafficking. Do you agree?So far, 60 percent of respondents are in the wrong, i.e. answering yes, they do agree.
I'm not familiar with the statement that the question refers to, and it's possible that the person making it meant that Mexico should look at drug trafficking and kidnapping as related phenomenon, that it should treat them as part of the same broad problem. That's laudable. However, the poll seems to imply that Mexico will always have kidnappers until it no longer has drug traffickers. That's laughable. Drug-traffickers and smugglers have thrived in northern Mexico for more than a century; rampant kidnapping is a relatively recently trend. The United States has its own problems with drug traffickers, but kidnapping syndicates like those operating in Mexico don't exist. Essentially, the opposite of the poll's premise is true: eliminating drug trafficking will almost certainly cause a spike in abductions. As Mexico cracks down on drug trafficking, cartels look elsewhere for sources of cash, holding rich folks for ransom being a logical option. As we have seen in Tijuana, Torreón, and other cities that don't begin with the letter T, separating drug smugglers from their product often precipitates a rise in kidnapping.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I don't know what the context of Calderón's comment was, but I'm inclined to think it all but indefensible. The Mexican press jumps all over splashy arrests and drug seizures, so if he's talking about beat reporters, the criticism is simply false. If Calderón was talking about opinion columnists and security analysts, he is right that may be inclined to take a more critical view of Mexican security, but their job is to put news stories like those linked above into the proper context. Right now, that context is a downer.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Rule No. 1 of boxing -- never, ever, ever, ever, ever match your fighter with a Colombian puncher. They have pulled numerous upsets and this one is just another to add to the list (think Alejandro Berrio and Epifanio Mendoza, for example).I'd bet no one else is going to make that mistake with a cash cow like Khan again for a long, long time. The decision looked questionable beforehand, and insane afterward.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
When I win both of these picks, I'll be 10-4 on the year.
The country isn't trapped only by disagreements, but also by the fact that the implementation of the solutions that arise turns in an additional problem. When you look at the traps into which the already agreed-upon reforms have fallen, it's frightening to think that they are still lacking.Fittingly, Excelsior ran a story yesterday about the roadblocks tripping up security reform in various states, now two weeks after the 75-point agreement was signed, and 85 days until the self-imposed deadline for reform legislation. This reflects a dilemma for security officials: Mexicans want change right now (witness Excelsior's and Imagen Radio's 100-day countdown), but reforming a nation's security policies and ensuring that 32 states with very different levels of development and standards of government are on the same page is a monumental task that maybe shouldn't have a 100-day timeline.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
LPGA Players Now Required to Know English; There Is No Rule for Commissioners: Announcing the tour's new language-proficiency policy, LPGA deputy commissioner Libba Galloway said last week, "We think it is important for our players to effectively communicate in English." That statement contains a grammatical error! If English were mandatory in the NFL, no one would be permitted to say, "They're giving 110 percent."I guess he's talking about the split infinitive. Or maybe he means that "for," as a preposition, shouldn't initiate the subordinate clause "our players to effectively communicate in English." It would be better introduced by the subordinating conjunction "that", as in, "...that our players communicate effectively in English." But maybe I should first string together two days of blog posts without a spelling error before I go off nit-picking. In any event, a fair point.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
[The power televised politics] is something many politicians in Mexico haven't understood. Instead of accepting this media-related reality, they deny it. Instead of working under this premise, they want to change it, as if it could be erased by decree. Absurdly, they wish to return to the eras where TV didn't exist. They enact ridiculous regulations to "dignify politics." As if it was TV's fault and not that of the public that's on the other side of the machine. In Mexico, it would seem that the politicians want politics to be basically boring. And the only thing they will achieve will be that the people see it as such and keep away from it.
I think he's overreacting. The informe was theatre, and boring theatre at that. It did nothing to foster communication between Congress and the president. If they were determined to get along poorly (see the sexenio of Fox, Vicente) putting them together in the same room once a year for an interminable speech didn't change anything. If both branches are serious about working productively (see Calderón, Felipe), a watered-down informe won't impede them.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Tennessee just hit a last-second 47-yard field goal to send their opener against UCLA into overtime. If they win, I'll still be disgusted with the outcome. If they lose, anyone who wants a damaged Mac can look in my front yard, because mine's going out the window.