Sunday, October 25, 2009


"fast food got me feeling sick
Them crackers think they slick
By tryin to make this bullshit affordable
I thank the lord that my voice was recordable
For soul food"

-Cee-Lo, from "Soul Food"

from before he was making "Crazy" with that mouse dude.


"Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over".

-Mark Twain (he's quite good for the one-liners, you see)

I wonder if dude would be surprised at how prescient that comment was? probably not. seems to have been a pretty crusty, cynical auld bastard.


the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American, by a pair of California professors (one from Stanford & another from UC-Davis) is on transitioning worldwide to renewable energy by 2030. it is well worth reading, mainly b/c it lays out such a transition in a very pragmatic fashion I haven't seen elsewhere, tho that could just be b/c I haven't been looking. unfortunately I don't think it's available on their website and I know most people probably don't read physical copies of magazines these days. so here's a synopsis with most of the main points.

I can't vouch for their #s, of course, though one nice thing is that they focused on technologies which exist right now instead of those which may/may not exist in 10 or 15 years. anyway.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009


"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
-Mark Twain

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Hurt Locker

I recently saw The Hurt Locker, which I thought was fantastic. I've seen some mixed reviews from vets (& Tom Ricks), mostly complaining about errant details & the implausibility of several scenes - but I reckon it's a movie that is more about capturing the feeling which by all accounts it nails. the, I dunno, zeitgeist, weltanschauung, Jungian complex, whatever. which I guess is what all good war movies strive to do. in this case not creeping jungle paranoia a la Platoon or the suffering/triumph combo of many WWII flicks so much as the endless gnawing uncertainty of not just when to shoot but who to shoot and whether or not to pull the trigger in the first place. as well as the uncertainty of why the hell you're there in the first place, what you're doing, who does & doesn't want to kill you, etc. etc. more than anything else I think it communicated really effectively just how great a burden has been shunted off onto a relatively small # of Americans for the last 7+ years.  

interesting that it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow whose films I'm a fan of - Point Break still kills it nearly 20 (!) years on - she brought that same twitchy nervous constant motion style to a much more serious topic, the Iraq War, & managed to fuse it w/a pretty high level of emotional complexity. keeping politics out helped a lot as well. the acting is largely fantastic too, all the principals certainly & a bunch of the cameos as well. hiring displaced Iraqis (it was filmed in Amman) to play the Iraqi roles & extras was a good decision.

I dunno I guess it really kicked up a lot of feelings in me - rage, sadness, but above all shame. The other day a friend emailed me a quote from a British counterinsurgency advisor to the effect that "the U.S. military is better than the country it serves". I reckon that's well true. Much, much better than the country it serves.

a few more thoughts on war movies (& hopefully some discussion) here for anyone interested

Sunday, July 5, 2009


been thinking lately - the American Society of Civil Engineers' 4-year infrastructure report, there's one coming up for 2009. the one from 2005 is absolutely abysmal. I've seen a few stories lately - a current in the news - about the lack of stimulus $ being put towards infrastructure.  

also been reading The War Within by Bob Woodward, which goes into some detail about the feeling that many American military commanders & civilian officials had about the way to "win" Iraq being to improve water, electricity, sewage, etc. rather than just kill dudes. which was/is true, of course.  

also the failure of Iran to use its oil wealth to invest in infrastructure as a big reason for its shit economy (Russia w/same problem but much worse) & hence a huge factor in fostering discontent.  

anyways, infrastructure:  

1) is one of the many incredibly important but also very boring things that people don't want to think about. see also: tax law, financial regulation, demographics, military/security (not the sexy stuff, the logistics/procurement end of things), etc. 
2) cuts right to the chase - either roads are paved or they aren't. you have electricity or you don't. agendas stop at the door. 
3) has no quick fixes. you have to put in work & $ continuously. also poor infrastructure leads to poor economy leads to poor infrastructure & so on cycle. 
4) often transcends or trumps political/religious/cultural divides. anyone want to recommend some boring but relevant pdfs, books, things to be reading?