Sunday, October 31, 2004

Go John Kerry, Go

It's official. John Kerry just won the election. Of course I'm speaking of my beloved and grevious Washington Redskins (it's always about the Redskins). They lost tonight. Why does that matter? Because since the Skins moved to DC, every time they've lost the Sunday before the election, the Democrats have won. Every time they win, the Republicans win. So, there you have it. JFK, next president. Thank God.

(But while you're at it God, can you please see the Skins through to victory next week???)

Gay People Need ID Cards

No, this is not some radical right argument about how we need to “tag and label deviants”. In fact, the title was more inclined to be an attention grabber, because I don't think I have anything really radical to say.

I write this out of great frustration. Simply, I’m tired of being a jackass. I’m tired of sticking my foot in my mouth. I try to use gender neutral expressions when I don’t know someone’s status, but I don’t always remember. This leads me to conversations like this:

Me: “I’m so frustrated with meeting women and then having nothing good come from it.”

Him: “Yes, that sucks.”

Me: “Do you have trouble meeting nice girls too?”

Him: “Actually it’s boys in my case.”

D’oh. My fault I know, but I didn’t know they were gay. Not that it’s been a huge deal because most guys are cool about it, but I still feel like a total jackass. I mean, if I reversed the roles, I think I would be uncomfortable if I was in that position.

So my plea goes out to gay people everywhere: I don’t know how, but you need to let us straight people know that you’re gay! Now, this doesn’t mean you have to say, “Hi, I’m Paul and I’m gay” or anything like that. But after you get to know someone a little bit, maybe someone who lives in your house that you see daily, you should just casually drop your orientation into the conversation.

Some people understand this. There’s a lesbian girl in the house (who I internally refer to as “The Missing Link” because not only is she studying evolution, but she also has a very large and obvious moustache/goatee thing going on – sometimes people nickname themselves and they don’t even know it). The reason I know she’s a lesbian is because she identified herself as such after about a week. Now, she didn’t knock on every door and shout, “I’m a dike!” and I don't know if she came out with everyone. But the point is, once she got to know me a little, she let me know. I thought that was the way to do things.

At any rate, I went out with the Dead End last night. At least, that's what I refer to her at this point. We didn't actually make the halloween party, instead just had coffee and walked around Leicester square, Picadilly Circus, and Covent Garden. I'm not really interested in seeing her again, but who knows. I have a complete inability to decline invitations from cute girls, even if they are all wrong for me.

Today I have yet to decide what to do. I'm in quite a delightful mood, so I may decide to cook something scrumptous. It is Halloween, after all. I do need to get my study on, so maybe I'll take a look at some of my reading that I need to get done. It's an absolutely goergous day outside, and if the weather holds, I will go to the park. Right now it's blue skies, sun, and in the 50's. Quite nice for London at this time of the year from what I understand. Later, I think Real World and I are meeting up. Not sure what we're going to do. She's a bit preoccupied these days with this Australian that's she's sleeping with and it's a good thing. I enjoy her company much more when she's not recklessly hitting on me or otherwise overly concerned about being single. You just gotta be happy with who you are and where you are, no matter the circumstances. Not easy for everyone to do, and we all have our ups and downs, but some people just can't manage to live in the moment.

Damn I'm in a good mood and I haven't even had any coffee yet. Time to feed the beast.

Short version:

- Stuck foot in mouth (again) with friend who turns out to be gay.
- Met, went out with, and disregarded cute girl.
- Want to: go to the park, make good eats, study, and hook up with friends later.
- Let the good times roll.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

You can find me in the club, bottle full of bub

Went clubbing again last night. Same club as last week. Some girl I met there last week said she would be back again last night, but she wasn't. That was ok because it was a club full of nice girls. I had a great time. Got home at 7 am, so I'm working in the right direction. Last week it was 730...

Today I'm doing mindless chores like laundry and cleaning. Later, a friend in my house is celebrating his birthday. Everyone is cooking up food for all to share. Not sure what I'm going to cook yet. Plus I'm not sure how long I can stay. I'm going to a halloween party with a girl I met last night and that clearly trumps the house party.

Interesting news on the election front. bin Laden has showed up again and he's talking about the US election. Not sure what impact this is going to have but it's already prompted to Bush admin to suggest that Kerry should stop attacking Bush for 12 hours "to give the American people time to absorb this new information". What a bunch of shite. Kerry should step up his attacks because if Bush had been on the ball and actually gotten bin Laden in Tora Bora, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Friday, October 29, 2004

It's Friday!

Hurrah! Friday at last. Work is good, but Friday's are extra nice because I only work a half day. Yesterday at work, on my very 1st assignment, I screwed up. I was asked to flag some things and I ended up way overflagging because I misunderstood which names I was looking for. Definately my fault for not asking for clarification. What a way to start off a job. Now that I've set the lowest possible benchmark, I'll look great when I actually achieve a minimum threshhold of competence. Today I had absolutely nothing to do, so I ended up surfing the web for 4 hours. I'm hoping for more substantive work next week. (And yes, I'm probably in violation of a dozen temp rules right now.)

I had an eye appointment after work today. Guess what? I need new glasses. Yikes are they expensive here too. I have a stigmatism in my left eye again. It's like an old friend, come again to keep me company. Two funny things about the eye shop. They played Outkast's "Roses" over the speakers. Yes, that's the song that says, "You say your shit don't stink, but your roses smell like poo poo" as well as repeating "crazy bitch" about 13 times at the end of the song. And no, it was not an edited version.

The other thing was when the eye doctor described what a stigmatism was (not that I needed yet another description of my malfunctioning eyes) she said my eye "should be shaped like a football, but instead is shaped like a rugby ball". It took me a moment to realize that a "football" is round in this country, because I seriously thought she had just described the exact same thing.

Tonight I'm going to "uni pub" (university) for a 2 hour meet and greet with the new students that just started (they have new students every quarter here). There are like 45, which is totally unheard of from what I understand. Free drinks. Later I'm going back to the same club I was at last week, although I hope to be home before 730 - because I just can't do that again. Too damn late.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


I seem to have not posted since Monday. Not sure what happened to yesterday. At any rate, I started my job today. Everyone seemed nice, should be a good place to work. I have to say, though, the Brits are entertaining. Two associates took me out for lunch (one's actually a Kiwi). We went to this fancy ass place, had an expensive and nice lunch that lasted 2 hours, and, in the traditional British way, had beer with our food. Yes, at 100 in the afternoon, we were drinking beer. Good times. I really had nothing to do all day. I think they planned it that way. They wanted to orientate me or some such thing. So they intentionally start you slow. At 530, the office administrator came around and told me to go home, and I quote, "What are you still doing here? It's your first day. Go home!" I'm like, solid. The whole hours thing isn't anything like the US as far as I can tell. I'm a half-time employee, regardless if I work the full 20 or only 15. Very odd. I feel like I'm getting paid by the hour, but that's actually just a figure to make it possible to figure out what a half time employee would get paid. In other words, I'm not getting paid by the hour - I'm getting paid half what a full time employee in my position would earn.

I'm not complaining. But I do hope there will be some actual work to do tomorrow.

Another thing I noticed right away - the Brits are much more formal in workplace dress. I am required to wear a tie every day. Women are required to dress up. I don't mind much, even if I do feel a little like a trained monkey in my tie rolling to work on the train with other be-tied monkeys. All in all, I think I'm going to enjoy working there and it will be a daily learning experience since they're all Brits or Kwiwis (and 2 or so Americans). It's just a very different environment compared to a US firm.

At any rate, I've slept like crap the last two days, so I'm going to go pass out early tonight. I'm exhausted.

Monday, October 25, 2004

London Weather is quite fickle

Well, so much for my plan to go for a walk down to the Thames. London weather changes fast and yesterday was no exception. So instead, I met up with my friend Evan and watched Manchester United stop Arsenal's 49 game unbeaten streak. Really sloppy futball by both teams and ManU won by the virtue of a phantom penalty in the box and a non-called offsides score. Still, quite exciting with the 130 or so Brits that filled the pub.

I couldn't sleep last night so I ended up watching the second half of the World Series. Funny how Channel 5 has now decided to play US sports - even going so far to call it the home of North American sports. They're showing basketball starting in November, not that I'll get to see much because I'm not usually going to be up for a 130 am start time. Funny thing about the show is that they have two guys - 1 brit and 1 american - both wearing tuxes providing commentary during commercial breaks. Brilliant.

Today was back to class. My IPE class looks good. It goes at a very fast pace and deals with a lot of interesting issues. Tomorrow is research methods and I start work on Wednesday. Busy week.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


I woke up this morning aspiring to make a real, down home breakfast. I had stayed up late to watch about half of game 1 of the World Series (Finally on TV!), so when I say "morning", I really mean 1215 this afternoon. Quickly mobilizing, I went down to the local Sommerfield (grocer) and picked up some eggs and bacon. I was going to get sausage, but they have a terrible selection at this store and all I could find were the really fat sausages, which just don't fit for breakfast. Anyway, I made a fruit salad, cooked up my bacon, fried up my potatos, and fried up two eggs. I was all set. Only problem is - British bacon tastes like SALTY ASS. Seriously. No good at all. Lesson learned. The Brits know their sausage, but they just have completely objectionable bacon. It was so salty I could hardly eat it. And, since it was a 2 for 1 special, I have an entire pack uncooked in my fridge. I'm debating on whether to throw it out or not.

Today happens to be a rarity in London this time of the year - absolutely gorgeous. So I think I'm going to go for a walk down to the Thames and maybe Battersea Park. I'll conclude this short post with today's Horoscope from The Independent:

"Aries 22 Mar - 20 Apr
Chatter will dissipate your energies. Gossip will eat away at your moral foundations. Less conversation, more action. The only dialogue you should undertake is physical. Your bombastic sexuality needs expression; encourage your partner to adopt a submissive, admiring posture (kneeling, probably)."

I'm the Nob Chief and I approve this message.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Fun, fun, fun

Last night I had the best time. Real World called me at about 1 and said that her boyfriend in the states broke up with her. To me, this was no shocker because he's clearly gay (he can't get it up for girls, but can for boys, how much clearer can it be?). So, she wanted to go out and party. Well, actually, she wanted to meet up in the day so she could go on and on about it. I wasn't having any of that because just the day before, she'd gone on and on, and while I'm generally a good listener and a good friend, I had shit to do.

Anyway, I called her later and she told me about this club she read about with 80s and 90s music (and, as it turns out two live bands). I was a little nervous about going out to the club with her for two reasons: 1. She's the type of girl that will try to jump you, even though you've made it clear that you're just friends; and, 2. She's the worst sort of drunk (and I'm not interested in babysitting people that can't hold their spirits).

But, I went anyway. Her friend from Sierra Leone picked me up at Earl's Court and then we all rode down to South London (almost to Brixton). It's pretty getto-licious down there, but in a safe way. We ended up getting to the club at about 1030. Real World wasn't having a great time and kept fiddling with her impossibly short skirt so I told her to lighten up. Over the course of the night, I ended up meeting two girls (one from Poland, one from the Czech Republic), danced like crazy, and just thoroughly enjoyed myself. I think it was just a reflection of my mood. I was in very good spirits, I was wearing some new threads (that increase my sexiness 10 fold, I must say!), and I was completely committed to having a great time, even if Real World was a Real Downer.

Fortunately, Real World got the idea when I was dancing with the Polish girl. She found herself an Australian boy and spent the rest of the night getting all over him. That worked for me.

Anyway, after the club closed (about 230), Real World, her Aussie, and two African friends and I piled into the car and went to an "after hours" spot. That's apparently jargon for "illegal nightclub that you must know people to even know about, not to mention get into". It was fun. The outside was totally dark, it looked like an office that was closed for the night. But you go inside and it's actually a really nice place. Of course, the first thing I noticed was that the place absolutely reeked of Reefer. Lots of Jamaican's around. Go figure.

I was there literally like 2 seconds before this british girl started trying to pick me up. She was nice (and nicely hot), but I had a mental block on this one. Bear with me - her name was Michele. Sorry. I just can't get with a Michele (or an Anne - I think). Too weird. (For those of you who may not be aware - Michele is my sister's name.) But I chatted with her for about an hour until the place closed. I also have vague memories of this total wierdo giving me his business card, but I'm not sure why.

After that place closed (about 430), Real World, the Aussie, and me went back to his flat - which was about 5 minutes away. He lives above a warehouse with about 12 other people (all Aussies). It's very Real World 1995 (and I had a private chuckle when I made that observation) and a pretty cool place. I had to hang out there until 630 because the trains weren't running until then. But there were 2 other people up and we sat around drinking beer and chatting. Real World had it in mind to stay with her fellow (as I knew she would), which is just how she rolls.

I got home at about 715 and promptly collapsed until 230. I'm not a huge fan of staying up all night, but this was an exception. I went to a new part of London, met 3 pretty girls (two of whom I'll be seeing again), went to a totally dodgy nightclub, met some Aussies, and didn't get that drunk. All in all, a great night.

Friday, October 22, 2004


Yesterday, I met up with Real World for lunch. Afterwards, we went shopping in Knightsbridge (an expensive idea) and then later to Oxford Street (a much more reasonable idea). I bought a couple nice peices of clothing and ended up spending about 90 pounds ($180).

Real World, spent a little more than that, but that's because she bought a pair of "hooker boots". Even though I'm not remotely attracted to her (physically or personally), I encouraged her a bit. She needs to loosen up. I tired of her after a couple hours, but here are some memorable lines Real World used to start conversations:

- "I've only been pregnant once - no, wait, twice..."
- "My boyfriend is bisexual and can't get it up for me..."
- "I got a B/B+ on my paper" (FINALLY owning up to it! I hate liars.)
- "Do you like girls to make a lot of noise during sex?"
- "I've never been with a black guy." (She's black - go figure.)
- "I've had sex with over 30 guys."
- "I feel like you know everything about me and I know nothing about you."

Since Real World is the world's worst listener (something I told her yesterday after about 3 hours of her only hearing what she wanted to hear), the last statement was the most true thing she said all day. She's the type of person that likes to think when she says stuff she's being provacative. Really, she's just putting her business out their because it brings attention.

At any rate, we met up with some classmates at the university pub for some pints around 730 or so. I had tired of Real World (to the point that I felt like smacking her) so I bailed on our table and hung out at the bar with Evan and Dave (both of whom's tolerance of Real World is vastly lower than mine - about 5 minutes).

All in all, a pretty good day. I got some things done that needed doing, had some pints at the pub, and got rowdy. Can't ask for much more on a thursday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Just about time for Sox-Yanks Game 7

Ok, I promised I would address Kerry's "liberalism" and I will in a second. First, a little story of annoyance. Today, I went to the mobile phone store to get a contract phone - a 12 month deal like in the states. The deal I was going to get was cheap, had lots of minutes and texts included, and came with a nice new phone for free. After about 40 minutes of entering information into the system (something that took longer because the clerk was incompetent), I was rejected by the company because I haven't been in the country long enough. Mind you, they were going to require me to pay a 150 pound deposit to deal with that fact. The whole "credit" thing in the UK is so Fing stupid. Anyone can get a Pay as you Go phone (which is what I have), but to get anything, anywhere, you have to have either a utility bill or a bank statement. Well, I haven't gotten a statement yet and I don't get utility bills. This is probably the single greatest thing that has annoyed me since I've been here.

At any rate, it's raining cats and dogs outside - the hardest it's rained since I've been here.

Now to the business:

1. "Kerry's the most liberal senator in Congress as ranked by the independent National Journal" - This is the most common argument made by the GOP. An "independent" magazine ranks Kerry as the most liberal in the Senate so it must be true. Not so fast.

Ranking "liberal" or "conservative" votes is highly subjective and the NJ's system was incredibly flawed. Eight (42%) of the votes the NJ ranked as "liberal" were votes by Kerry to repeal Bush's tax cut to those making $200k or more a year - hardly the bastion of liberalism. Four votes were against oil development in Alaska - something that the non-partisan GAO (government accounting office - but it has a new name now) agreed with in the most authoritative study on the issue. We're up to 63%. One vote opposed Bush's plan to scale back overtime pay. One vote extended unemployment benefits. The rest were votes for fiscal discipline - hardly a "liberal" issue (ahem Newt Gingrich).

The other big problem with the "study" is that Kerry missed a ton of votes because he was campaigning - so his ranking was skewed by the low number of votes considered.

2. "Kerry's a tax and spend Democrat" - This one is an outright lie.

Kerry has supported deficit reduction since the 1980s - something the GOP didn't warm up to until the 90s and something most Democrats opposed.

Kerry supported the centrist 100,000 cops bill (1994 Crime Bill) which most liberal democrats opposed and which received large support from the GOP.

Kerry has always supported the extension of free trade agreements (like NAFTA), which most Democrats have opposed.

Kerry was a leading proponent of the 1996 Welfare Reform Bill, something that SCALED BACK government funded welfare in favor of "welfare to work" - also something about half of Congressional Democrats (wrongly) opposed.

Kerry was in favor of the 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement, something many liberals opposed, but was largely supported by the GOP.

Kerry isn't liberal on any of these issues. He's a centrist.

3. "Kerry's liberal on social policy" - This one is a little trickier, so I'll deal with it by issue.

A. Health Care - Don't really need to say much - Bush's claim that it will ration health care is a joke. Kerry's plan is a supplement, much like medicare or medicaid that would only go to those who needed it (i.e. the 40 million uninsured). In fact, many organizations have criticized Kerry for not going far enough.

B. Gay Rights/Marraige - Kerry isn't in favor of authorizing Gay marraige because, rightly, he's stated that its not a federal issue (the GOP used to care about states rights). He is not, however, in favor of a constitutional amendment to define "marraige" as only a man and a woman. That's also a good idea. The Constitution should not set out to exclude things - it's defined to include things. The last time there was an amendment to exclude it ended terribly.

C. Guns - Another area the GOP tries to hit Kerry on, but is wide of the target. Yes, Kerry is in favor of the assault rifles ban, but no, this doesn't ban them. The fact that the NRA is against waiting times and background checks removes any credibility the organization has. Kerry is not in favor of banning guns or any such nonsense. He's been an avid hunter. But it's not good policy to let terrorists, criminals, or extremely angry people buy guns and ammo on the spot so they can turn around and use them against the public, their spouses, or just to knock over the local kwikie mart. There is no public harm to wait times and background checks for buying deadly weapons and there's a great public good to using that type of stuff. Anytime that a drunk ass redneck husband gets pissed off, goes down to the Kmart, buys a gun, goes home, and shoots their wife is one time too many. This does happen and this is something that Bush has allowed to recur with the expiration of the assault rifles ban.

D. Abortion/Women's Rights - This one is the toughest for those on the right, so I'll try to explain why I think the issue is bigger than just abortion and then deal with some specifics.

Roe v. Wade did more than just establish abortion as a fundamental right reserved to women. It established that the constitution included the idea that each individual has a right to a personal sphere that should not be messed with by the government - i.e. privacy. If Bush gets re-elected, nominates conservative Justices, and they overturn Roe, it's not just abortion that goes. It means what goes on in the bedroom, your personal residence, etc. are all open to government investigation. It may not seem like an Orwellian nightmare to you, but Animal Farm was built in steps, not all at once. American's privacy rights are already under fire from the Patriot Act, overturning Roe would just give the government a blank check to go wherever it wants, whenever it wants. Think about it - they can tap your phone now only if they have probably cause. Roe protects each and every one of us by forcing the government to pass through a series of tests before it can invade our constitutional right to private lives.

I'll go further. On the abortion issue in particular, I feel there are strong arguments on both sides of the aisle. But I feel very strongly that government should not have the right to intervene in the lives of individuals unless there is CERTAINTY that they are doing the right thing. For example, people shouldn't be allowed to kill themselves. Assisted suicide should be out also. But abortion has NO such certainty. Unless and until abortion has the same moral authority as suicide and near universal agreement with the population, the government shouldn't tell people what to do. (I feel the same way about some drug use, by the way.) If abortion is "murder", then the individuals are the ones that will pay the piper at the end of the day. But they should have the choice to make that decision.

Not only that, Bush's assault on abortion is part of a fundamentalist Christian assault on reason. There are some devestating results:

- He forced the CDC to stop providing information about preventing HIV/AIDs except for abstinence.
- He denies aid money to third world nations whose family planning programs include anything but abstinance.
- He made it legal for pharmacists to deny providing emergency contraception if it violates the pharmacists morals (in the process inserting the government into every pharmacy in the country).
- He signed the Laci and Connor bill that provides legal status to fetus' in the womb, which is really just a back door to overturning Roe.

Regardless of how you feel about abortion, the fundamentalist approach to family planning is wrong headed and represents policy at its worst. Instead of telling youngsters (that are going to have sex anyway!) to protect themselves, the message is to abstain or run the risk. Instead of telling 3rd world nations that are desperately overpopulated and have AIDs' epidemics on an unprecedented scale to use condoms, the US says don't have sex or run the risk.

Good policy making is about assessing a situation and making a decision based on reason and principle. In this case, the stark reality is that cultural attitudes guarantee that people all over the world are going to have sex. They need to be protected. The abstinence message is like trying to plug a damn with your thumb.

Errery' Day (say it out loud if you don't get it)

I know how this blog thing works. You post every day and people come back every day. So I've got to be more aggressive with my posting.

That being said, my life the last couple days have been dominated by 2 things: sleep deprivation and a growing frustration that I can't watch the greatest postseason baseball series in memory unfold on TV. Instead, I've been "watching" the Red Sox-Yanks series online and getting updates via instant message. Last night's game ended at 520 AM, my time. Thus, the sleep deprivation. Tonight is game 7, so this will be the last time I'm up all night (until Nov 2).

I have several political comments to make, but won't get to them until later. Probably much later. Suffice it to say, when you go into a room full of like minded individuals and instead you see a pack of wolves, that should tell you something about the party you support. Forthcoming will be a discussion of Kerry's "liberalism" and Bush's "conservatism".

Monday, October 18, 2004

Train Wreck

Tonight I went out with some people at the house for dinner. It's a funny cultural thing, I think. When I asked my Spanish friend what the plan was, he said "dinner". Well, it turned out to be dinner and a free concert at a pub after. Not that I was complaining. It's just interesting. When I asked my British friend, he told me the full story.

At any rate, two of the three bands that played were a joke. One of them was so bad I felt that they must have been trying to be bad. It could only have been a poor attempt at irony. At least, that's what I tell myself.

The third band, however, was really really good. They didn't have a singer, though, which was their one fault. Musically, they were fantastic. All in all, a fun night.

As an aside, I must relate what just occurred seconds ago. Some of us were in the computer room which is in the basement, below the assistant warden's residence. Her husband is this vile man with no manners and a foul temper 24/7. I suppose that we were making noise, I don't really know how thick the floor is, but it must have been enough to disturb this fellow's slumber. He just came down, picked out one guy, and just yelled at him in the most ridiculous way. He's so obnoxious. I'm thinking about saying something to the warden. He's a pretty reasonable guy all in all and this aggression should not stand. It's one thing to come down and say, "Can you keep it down, it's a little noisy". It's quite another to act the asshole and virtually shout "How many times must I tell you...I'll make you understand...etc". So ridiculous.

2 weeks

That's right - 2 weeks and counting. Zogby has the count now at 50-47 for Bush in Virginia. It's close. All you Virginia voters should seriously vote for Kerry. Each vote counts.

I'm off to dinner with the house. A guy is leaving for India tomorrow - he's finished his program and he's done, so we're all going out to celebrate. Well, not all of us - because there are like 50 people in the house. But the dozen or so that hang out.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

I've outdone myself

I have to provide comment on tonight's meal. It was most tasty and excellent. I made Tuna with soy-ginger-lime glaze - an original Nob production. Not only was it fantastically delicious, I accompanied it with italian seasoned pasta and fresh fruit salad (banana, orange, kiwi, and pineapple). Mmm, mmm. I can't wait to eat the leftover tomorrow. Clearly one of the tastiest dishes I've made in recent memory and probably the best meal I've had since I moved to the UK (including restaurants). I can make it better the next time, especially if I have better cooking technology.

At any rate, I was thinking about some subtle cultural differences between the Brits and the Yanks. Here are a couple observations:

1. Children/Discipline - How many times have I walked through a store in the US and seen kids getting spanked, yelled at, or subjected to embarrassing scolding? Too many to count. How many times have I seen the same here in the UK? None. Nada. Zilch. I don't know if it's a representative trend or not, but it looks to me like the Brits have a much better handle on their kids than Americans do. It's a pleasant occurrence. Out of control parents/kids are embarassing not just to them, but also to the other shoppers.

2. The wrong side of the road thing does make some sense, especially for buses. Instead of having to make extremely tight right turns, they have more room. Going left is easy as well too because they have "on ramps" that are like soft turns. So, it's not completely insane.

3. London is extremely diverse, so this probably isn't a reflection on the Brits, but it is pretty damn funny to see a woman with a winter hat, scarf, gloves, boots, and thick coat on when it's like 53 degrees outside. I mean, it's chilly here; there's no doubt of that. But it's not cold yet.

4. Everyone (and I mean everyone) drinks bottled water here. I've been told that the London water system uses a lot of chlorine, so people don't like drinking it because it dries the skin. Whatever. A recent study concluded that was BS. And while i'm on the subject, here are 7 words that don't inspire confidence: Authorized by the French Ministry of Health.

5. The myth of the Brits being "polite" has been exposed. Just go to the Tube or the grocery store. People don't wait for passengers to exit trains, they don't get up for pregnant women (like 3 stories in the newspapers about this one), and they aren't curteous at all at the grocery store. Once again, London is not purely "British" because it's so diverse. But still. I find shopping at Tesco on the weekends entirely distasteful because of the inordinate number of rude shoppers.

Quarter Over

Finals are over and I'm happy about that. I think I did well on my Intro final and I know I aced my Japan final. So we'll see how the grades turn out in a week. One note about my paper situation. Where my Intro professor marked me down because of theory, my Japan professor not only loved my paper, she requested that I provide a pristine copy that she can use as an example for future students. I'd say we have a bit of a disjuncture here.

I got the job at Baker Botts, meaning that I'm once again returning to the legal world. I don't start for another week, which kind of sucks, but it will be nice to earn some money. Plus I'll meet some actual, real live Brits along the way.


First, more scandal. Youth voter participation group Rock the Vote is urging Bush and Kerry to have a debate on the likelihood of a draft being instituted to keep the US in Iraq. It's a real issue because at current force levels, the US can not continue to maintain 130,000 troops in Iraq and hope to deter North Korea, as well as maintain forward deployment capabilities in the future. The other trend is that reservist recruiting is down because when before, recruits knew there was a possibility of going to war, now they know there is a certainty. The President, in all his wisdom, says that we don't need a draft and that the all volunteer army is working. But that's not what military leaders are saying behind the scenes. It's going to be a stark choice - drawdown US forces in Iraq or find a way to increase the size of the US military.

At any rate, Rock the Vote has been publicly asking for this debate because they think it's an important issue, especially to young voters. Well, apparently RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie didn't like that much and he issued a cease and desist order to the organization threatening to remove it's 501c3 status (tax-exempt) if it did not stop talking about this issue. Ladies and Gentlemen, your Republican party. That's right, when a non-partisan group raises policy issues potentially damaging to the President, the GOP says "stop or you're going to be sued". I don't think this is the Republican party of yesterday. This is the Karl Rove party.


This goes out to all potential Bush voters that read this blog (Mother).

This election is about Iraq. On the domestic front, the differences are subtle (small changes in the tax code, funding priorities will change, one likes to spend and not pay for it, the other likes balanced budgets). The one exception is the environment where Kerry would actually give enforcement money to the EPA so that they can stop polluters. (No one talks about the environment, but Bush's admin has been the worst environmentally in the history of the EPA.) There may be a Supreme Court justic or two in the next term, but it's silly to base a vote on that because it's completely unpredictable and the Senate check on nominations usually prevents true radicals (like Robert Bork) from getting to the Court (Scalia excepted). On the "hot button issues" like abortion and gay marraige, the next President is unlikely to have any effect because those are primarily state issues - not federal.

SO, the issue is Iraq and the War on Terror. Like him or not, there's no doubt that Bush has the country entangled in a war that we can not win, in a nation that will not become stable, and a quagmire that will not go away. Therefore, America must select the candidate best prepared to deal with Iraq and the ever looming war on terror (and al Queda's 18,000 new recruits that they now have because the US went into Iraq).

As some of you may have picked up in the debates, and as this article makes clear (and since you need to be a subscriber, you can read the relevant portions by scrolling down to Oct 14, 3:31 pm here), there is a HUGE difference between the two candidates on this issue. The basic point is that the Bush administration sees the conflict as one between states and the Kerry team sees the post cold war era as particularly dangerous because of sub-state actors. See, the war on terror is NEVER going to be won if it attempts to take on nations, because nations are wise enough to know that aiding terrorists leads to grave consequences. Deterrence still works. This is exactly what General Wesley Clark was talking about and it's still a relevant problem today.

Traditionally, foreign policy has been a GOP strength. That's largely because of Nixon, Reagan, and George Bush I. While each had their domestic shortcomings (and two of the three had huge scandals - not a good batting average), they each achieved good policy. After failing in Vietnam, Nixon opened up China, something that proved an effective counter balance to the Soviets in Asia. Reagan successfully played power politics with the Soviets and brought a quicker conclusion to the Cold War than most expected (even after failing in the Middle East). And George Bush I effectively prosecuted Gulf War I as well as being generally solid on the transition from Cold War to his labeled "New World Order".

The thing is, though, whether by choice or because of domestic scandal, Clinton topped them all. The world was much more unstable during Clinton's terms than it was during the previous administrations. State sovereignty broke down across the globe, terrorism rose up (for the first time in the US), and regional divisions on trade rose up. It was a much more difficult environment to manage and while he started slowly, he rose to the challenge admirably. Think about it - Clinton was instrumental in bringing peace to Northern Ireland, he kept the Israel-Palestinian peace process on track (and had a final settlement on the table in December of 2000 that the Israeli's were ready to sign but that Arafat just couldn't bring himself to), he effectively combined military force and peacekeeping in the Balkans and former Yugoslavia, and he refocused US foreign policy toward sub-state actors and terrorism in response to the World Trade Center bombing of 93. You can criticize Clinton's policies, but as Bush says, foreign policy is "hard work", but "it's necessary" and it doesn't always work out the way you intend.

The Bush admin, however, has fundamentally misread the war on terror because it fails to acknowledge that the day of sovereign states challenging the US is over. Until and unless a great power emerges that could compete with the US capabilities, the greatest threat is from sub-state actors. That's why building a missile defense system is assinine. The nuclear threat isn't from North Korea - nothing changed in the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine. New nuclear powers are a problem, but they don't represent a "grave" threat to the United States because they could never hope to destroy more than one US city while we could devestate every inch of their country with the push of a button. No, the greatest threat to US national security is from terrorists sneaking nuclear weapons across the border on ship or truck and blowing up a city. Only one candidate understands that. Only one candidate is likely to focus on that mission. It doesn't mean that you need a "plan", it's more of an attitudinal shift in all levels of the federal bureaucracy. George Bush is leading the nation as if the "war" on terror can be won by trouncing regional powers. Not only has that strategy failed, it's created 18,000 new recruits for Osama bin Laden.

That's why John Kerry is the ONLY choice in this election.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Cold Water

Today I had some mediocre news, some good news, and some really good news. Which I suppose is the way you want those sorts of things to come together. Always good to have the best things happen last. In order.

Mediocre - I scored less on my paper than I expected. I'm very disappointed, but I understand his criticism. A B+ is still a good grade, but I expected an A- at the worst. What really chafes is that I read two of my classmates papers and they both scored higher than me. To me, that's ridiculous. I'm considering telling him that (and my friend David says I should), but I'm not sure if it will matter. He's gone on holiday all next week for break and I think he has to turn in grades before hand. I talked to him briefly about it tonight and I understand his problems with my paper. I just don't think I deserved a B+. It was a very well written paper, even with some flaws. The other papers I read were not well written and had major problems. I feel like he had an expectation for what I could do and when I did not meet that expectation, he penalized me more harshly than he should have. That says all that it needs to about what he expected from my classmates. Either way, I will have a lengthy discussion with him about it because I literally have 1 class a quarter with the man and I need to know what I need to do to get an A. Ok, enough bitching.

Good - I had my final for the same class today and it turns out I was very well prepared. I was a little concerned about it because there was a lot of information and it was not a predictable exam. I ended up being correct on my predictions in only 2 instances (1 essay and 1 short answer). That being said, I felt well prepared and I think I did a good job. I may lose a couple points on one of the short answer, but I feel like it's an A. Of course, that's what I said about the paper...

Even Better - I got the job at Baker Botts. They called me during the exam, so I didn't get to speak with them. But I'm calling them in the morning. Hopefully this means I can start Monday and work a full 40 hours next week. I'm pretty happy about that because I need to make some money and it looks like a really good situation.

All in all, a pretty good day. I'm pretty much ready for my Japan exam tomorrow, but I'll refresh myself tonight and in the morning. The good thing about that exam is that it's incredibly predictable. There are 12 essays and you pick 2. Over the course of the class, she's told us "this will be on the exam" on several situations. So, I've studied three different eras - the Tokugawa Shogunate, The Meiji Restoration, and the Yoshida Doctrine. I'm so anal about this that I wrote out the questions I predict will be on the exam (and there's only so much flexibility here) and then gave myself the test. I've already taken the exam in practice and I checked my answers versus my notes and I'm solid. I feel confident that I'll ace this one.

Random Thoughts

First, I think that Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata is probably the most incredible piece of music ever written. Truly fantastic.

Second, this blog was not intended to be a political rant. It has become a regular political diatribe because of the impending election and my fascination with American politics. But, at this point, I feel like I've said too much, so I'm going to scale it back a bit. I'll still write about the new stuff that happens, but I'm going to try to focus on what's actually going on here and in my life.

Third, I haven't seen the debate yet and won't until Saturday at the earliest. So I won't be commenting on that for quite a bit.

Fourth, there are two interesting historical facts that I think should be considered:

1. When a sitting President is in a statistical tie a month before the election and there are a large number of undecided voters, the incumbent ALWAYS loses. The reason is that the "undecided" know they don't like the current Prez, but they're not sure about the new candidate so they wait until the last moment to decide. It will be very interesting to see if this repeats itself this year.

2. Since 1938, incumbents ALWAYS lose if the Washington Redskins lose their last game before the election. The Skins last game prior to Nov 2 is against Green Bay and since the Skins basically suck, I'd say there's a good chance they'll lose that game.

That being said, I'm calling this election for Kerry.

Ok, I have to run. I have my Intro final in about 3.5 hours.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

More Politics

It rained all day yesterday, the first time (I think) since I've been here. All in all, it wasn't a big deal because it was a steady, light rain and I spent most of the day inside studying.

To continue the theme, I have several more comments about the politics of the day.

1. One reader suggests that the Dems are the problem because they are "the other guys" and not a great choice. While that is certaintly true at the moment, I'm not so harsh on the Dems. They're still reeling from the stunning losses of 02 and their leadership is not great. Bill Clinton was a great political leader (with one giant weakness - big girls), but the nature of his presidency left a bad taste in the DNCs mouth. The other problem the Dems have is that they've given up the most important issues that distinguish themselves from the GOP - Gun control, Death Penalty, Abortion, just to name a few. They do still pay lip service on abortion, but they rarely defend it on the national level. Gun control is almost never talked about, and these days, most Dems support the death penalty.

2. The Dems don't engage in the same type (or as bad) dirty tricks:

a) Voter Registration Fraud - According to an investigative report by the CBS affliliate in Las Vegas, thousands of newly registered voters are unlikely to be able to vote because they registered as Democrats. The firm involved was hired by the GOP and "lost" or discarded the Dems that registered. Read it here. It's also happening in South Dakota.

b) Using airwaves for political message under the pretext of "documentary" - Some may have heard of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group's plan to air a "documentary" produced by the Swift Boat people. Sinclair controls 1/4 of the nation's TV affiliates - so that's a huge market. There would be no problem if the Swift Boat people were buying the air time, but they're not. Instead, the republican head of the company is ordering everyone to play it as if it was "news" or even remotely accurate. To put this in context, the group that produced this "documentary" also produced a film defending The Reverend Moon (a crazy fuck). The current FCC Chairman, an unsavory sort - just ask Howard Stern - has written a letter to Sinclair stating that this move violates the public trust since the airways are public property.

3. Both sides play it "loose with the truth", but the GOP side is worse, in my opinion. They intentionally take things out of context, they just flat out ignore that the situation in Iraq is getting worse, every report that is critical of the occupation they flatly state proves their claim that the war was necessary, and they are incredibly anti-democratic in that when former power players in Iraq (like Paul Bremer) state that the US never had enough troops on the ground, the admin forces him to recant (partially - he stuck to his guns, which I thought was admirable).

I really think that the "difficult" choice that Americans are facing are the result of two problems:

1. John Kerry's inability to connect with voters on important issues like economic policy.
2. The GOP's incredibly dirty assault on Kerry and his record. I have no problem with the flip flop strategy - I don't agree that he's a flip flopper, but it's a legit strategy. I do have a tremendous problem with lying to the American people in a desperate attempt to secure a second term for the least common denominator.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Political Vitriol

Some people have suggested I've come down too hard on George Bush. I'll try to put my opposition in context. Here are reasons why I think this is the most dishonest President and campaign since Nixon.

1. Campaign Lies - A new Bush ad that intentionally takes a Kerry quote out of context is the best example of this. Here's the actual quote:

''You know, when your buildings are bombed and 3,000 people get killed, and airplanes are hijacked, and a nation is terrorized the way we were, and people continue to plot to do you injury, that's an act of war, and it's serious business."

Here's Bush-Cheney's TV ad (text):

Voice Over: First, Kerry said he wanted to protect America. . .
Now John Kerry says he wants "buildings. . . bombed," the "nation. . . terrorized" and he will "continue to plot to do you injury." John Kerry says terrorism is his "business."

This is not the exception. This has been going on for months (the commercial that equates Kerry to bin Laden, for example).

2. Misappropriation of Federal Funds for Reelection - Bush just commissioned the Department of Health and Human services to send out a fake "news report" to local TV stations extolling the virtues of No Child Left Behind. That's right - they hired actors, wrote a script, and produced it as if it was a real news story you would see at 6 pm. All paid for with your tax dollars immediately after Kerry nailed Bush on underfunding the program. The company that was contracted to make this video, according to the AP, earns extra money for mentioning how strong the GOP and George Bush are on education - ensuring that this tax payer funded video is little more than a campaign video.

3. Dirty Tricks -

A. After the 1st debate, the Bush team announced to the press that he was going to hold a press conference announcing "major new developments" on the war on terror. This prompted CNN to show the speech live in its entirety. Guess what? It was just a stump speech from Ohio. He got a free hour of media time by using his position as President to deceive the media.

B. Phone Jamming - A traditional "get out the vote" tactic employed by both sides every election year is making phone calls to prospective voters to implore them to go vote. In 2002, the GOP committed massive fraud by hiring a company to place hundreds of automated hang up calls - i.e. the phone rings, you pick it up, it hangs up - repeat. Thing is, they were caught and two people are going to jail. Did that deter Karl Rove and Bush-Cheney 04? Of course not, a motion was filed in New Hampshire last Friday to prevent the key player in 02 from using the same tactics in 04. He's the head of the New England GOP.

4. Personality - We have an arrogant, combative President that has repeatedly refused to acknowledge that he has made even one single mistake in 4 years. Not only is he surrounded by "yes" men, but he's so used to hearing only positive things about the catastrophe that is Iraq, that he visibly bristles when questioned about it. I, for one, don't want a president that can't admit mistakes.

5. Policy - Oh jeez, where to begin...

A. Iraq - I've rehashed this repeatedly over the last month, so I'll be brief. I believe that Iraq is turning into a Vietnam style quagmire. We have no real plan of how to solve this issue aside from training the Iraqis and then turning them loose. If Bush had anything to offer on this issue (i.e. we've made mistakes, but we've learned from that and we think we can fix this), he would have some credibility in my mind. But to continue with "everything's fine" smacks of incompetence or ignorance or both.

B. Foreign Policy in general - Let's see, in 2000 there were 8 nuclear states, now there are 10. Looks like he took one in the loss column there. At least Clinton kept North Korea and Iran at the table. Bush called them the "Axis of Evil", which put a damper on the whole diplomacy thing and pretty much guaranteed nuclear proliferation.

Not only that, Bush has turned his back on the Israel-Palestine issue as well. Clinton's presidency will be remembered for its extensive efforts in Northern Ireland (success) and Palestine (failure). The Bush presidency will be remembered for starting a war of preemption.

International agreements are also a problem. While the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Treaty were not great treaties, pulling out of them did a disservice to US diplomacy. See, this administration can't see that there's a difference between not signing onto a treaty and pulling out all together. Pulling out altogether just pissed off our allies and made the US look even more like a rogue leader that can't be asked to make sacrifices.

C. Economics - A tax cut for the wealthiest Americans and $400 cash back in 02 didn't exactly stimulate the economy. The GOP still believes in trickle down economics, even though there are 12 years of evidence that it doesn't work. Maybe this is a philosophical thing for some people, but just look at this "recovery" for results. Bush is the first president in 72 years (i.e. since that whole Depression thing) to actually lose jobs over the course of his 4 years. (And no, you can't blame it on the internet bust - we've had time to recover.)

D. Environment - Bush is, without a doubt, the worst environmental president in the modern era. Even Tricky Dick saw it necessary to have an EPA and clean up the air. Not Mr. Bush. He gutted the enforcement budget, meaning that even if the EPA saw non-compliance, they couldn't do anything about it. Administrator Whitman, a republican, was so fed up with it that she quit 2 years ago. The list could go on, but the point is, he pays lip service to the environment because he's in bed with the polluters.

E. The Budget - Deficit spending is not always a bad thing, but this is ridiculous. The budget was effectively balanced in 00. It's now something like $4 trillion in debt. That's not sustainable and it represents a net drain on the economy. The GOP wants smaller government, and then they go make sure of that by spending so much that the size of our debt payments become a quarter of the annual budget. That's poor policy.

F. War on Terror - Bush has done little right here. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (based in London) estimates that the occupation of Iraq has helped Al Queda recruit 18,000 more members than they had previously. That's right. Whereas before it was a relatively small organization, it's become a giant one spread across 60 countries because of Iraq. Not only that, switching focus from Afghanistan to Iraq meant that we never got Osama.

At home, the problems are a little more acute. I get the feeling that Bush is not a detail guy. So when there's a problem, he throws money at it and doesn't think about it anymore. That's a problem when you think about the number of ports we have unprotected, as well as how vulnerable US infrastructure is to attack. The most likely venue for a terrorist to import a nuclear bomb is through those ports.

At any rate, that's the quick version. Add it up and I think we have an arrogant president with backwards policy who is surrounded by "yes" men who continually engage in seriously dirty tactics with the intent of deceiving the average voter. Sorry, I prefer the other guy.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Yesterday, I spent most of the day studying. I have exams this week, so I'm probably overdoing it a bit. I feel like I'm ready to take them right now - which is probably the first time in my life I've been ready for an exam 3 days in advance. But, I'm not going to stop studying. There's always more to learn.

I filled out my absentee ballot on Saturday. Very sketchy. I just read an article in the Washington Post that said that the GOP in Virginia sued to get Nader on the ballot and won. Guess who wasn't on the ballot? That's right. No Nader, but there was Badnerik and some other guy. The other thing about voting is that I have no idea who I just voted for in the school board category. Not only that, there are several referendums on the ballot that I'm clueless on. Changes to the Virginia constitution. I voted yes on one and no on the other.

Last night I stayed up watching the Redskins game until 430 in the morning. What a waste. They lost and really didn't play that well.

Christopher Reeve died yesterday. I wonder if Kerry will mention him in the next debate. He did mention him during the stem cell portion of the 2nd debate. It's too bad Reeve passed away. He did a lot for his cause (along with Nancy Reagan) and I hope the drive to conduct more stem cell research won't be stymied by his death. Sports fans out there must also notice that Ken Caminiti died yesterday at 41. He had a heart attack. Let this be a lesson - don't do steroids.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Politics Redux

The GOP has switched strategies on Kerry after his debate bounce and are now casting him as a tried and true liberal. This strategy shift was largely predicted by the Democrats and they're prepared for it. The reality is, Kerry is a pretty moderate guy and his record speaks to that. The real issue I'm having, however, is that I don't understand why Kerry doesn't just riddle Bush on the flip flop issue. Here's the deal:

1st it was "Iraq has WMDs",
then, it was "Iraq sponsored Terrorism",
now, it's "Saddam had illicit intent".

That's called flip flop. That's called wishy washy. The only thing that didn't change was Bush's drive to war. The reasons to justify going to war have changed with each subsequent report that has been issued that indicts Bush's position. Apparently, "illicit intent" is enough to go into Iraq, but ACTUAL intent and carrying through on that intent, isn't enough to go into Iran or North Korea. Where is the consistency?

One thing to watch out for is the impending "October Surprise". Karl Rove has already said that he has "several surprises in store for the Democrats". I don't think he's referring to the conspiratorial idea - that the administration has already captured a high level al Queda officer but isn't announcing it until just before the election (which is EXACTLY what they did during the DNC Convention in July) - but still. It sounds kind of shady to hear Karl Rove, the dirtiest man in politics, talk about surprises.

I filled in my absentee ballot today. It may not matter in Virginia, but I'm hoping it does. The latest Virginia poll (Zogby, October 6) has Bush at 50% to 47% for Kerry. It's time to through down the gauntlet. Virginia is in striking distance. Every vote counts. Get out the vote.

Respek yo' self, Sister!

Yesterday was the most rediculous day. After class, our last class before exams, about half the class went down to a local pub to celebrate. This was at 1 pm. We didn't leave until 7 pm. That was simply uncalled for. But this one guy, Khaled from the United Arab Emirates, is a relentless drinker. Every time you turn around, he's bought a new round of pints for the entire table. I went home after that, ate some food, took a shower, and then headed out again. It was my friend Dave's birthday, so I had to meet up with him. We hung out at a pub for awhile and then ended up going to Club 5, which is a very posh and expensive pub. Fortunately, I know people who know people, so we got in free and got treated like royalty.

While we where there, I saw this one girl who made out with like 7 guys. Later, she found her way upstairs to where we were hanging out. Somehow, she started talking with us. I asked her if she wanted some water (because she was trashed - i mean, barely standing). Apparently, she didn't want any water, but she did propose, quite unexpectantly, that quote "I want to take you home and fuck you because you're so sweet". Needless to say, I declined.

Later, after we had left, we ran into the girl again with her flatmate. They were trying to hail a cab. It was the wrong time for a cab, though, so it took awhile, but I finally hailed a cab for them. During this time, the drunk girl was making out with my friend Evan on the street (who was also completely trashed). As they were getting in the cab, I couldn't stop myself from telling this girl's flatmate that she needed to teach her friend to "Respek herself" (Ali G style). Seriously, this girl did not respect herself. No one that gets that trashed and makes out with 8 guys and propositions at least one fellow for sex can respect themself.

At any rate, I really didn't have that good of a time. On the other hand, I spent less than 20 pounds for the entire day, which isn't bad since I drank more than my share. My friend Victor at the club kept buying drinks, which was absurd because I didn't want or need any more. He wouldn't let me buy drinks either, which I can only assume has something to do with Mexican machismo.

I'm watching the debate from last night right now on and I have to say, I really think that Bush is a flat out liar. I'm not really doing much fact checking for what Kerry says because I'm more attuned what Bush has to say. Just this week a final report was issued that stated that the inspections in Iraq worked prior to the war and Saddam not only had little capacity to build WMDs, but also had no interest because he was focusing on the regional security threat that is Iran. Kerry mentioned this in the debate and Bush's response was something like, "That report showed that inspections weren't working." There's no situation in which what he said was true. It was the most clear and bold lie I've heard out of him so far. That's not just spin, that's just completely untrue - the final conclusion of the report was that inspections DID work. Not only that, I'd like to hear John Kerry ask the President something like, "If the inspections weren't working, where are the WMDs?" Of course, the only response is that Saddam would have gotten them inevitably, but it's a nice rhetorical device.

I also think that Kerry really skewered Bush on the tax cut. He made a couple arguments that I thought were very strong, namely that 1% of the richest Americans received most of the tax cut, that he's the only President to give a tax cut during war, and on the policy specifics (child tax credit, etc).

For the most part I thought Bush was trying to play up his homey Texas style. At times he appeared gruff and combative. He also continued his blinking problem. Those that missed the first debate may not realize that Bush has a serious blinking problem. He blinks non-stop, especially when Kerry is talking. Real World thinks that the blinking is related to Bush lying - it's a well known tell. But I think it's more likely that he so angry and pissed off underneath that he's blinking so much in an attempt to stop from jumping up and strangling Kerry. In general, I don't think the President is a likeable guy. He came across to me as a real jerk.

Overall, I'd say that no one really won this debate, primarily because American's aren't great on substance. Substantively, there wasn't much new on International Relations - Bush pretty much repeated his litany of lies, half-truths, and complete fantasy. Kerry pretty much skewered him on those issues and offered little in the way to solve, aside from bringing the allies to the table. Domestically, I thought Kerry was way ahead on the economy and the budget. It belies credibility to suggest, as Bush did, that Democrats aren't fiscally conservative. Over the last 30 years, the Democrats are the ones that swallowed the tough medicine to balance the budget, not the GOP. The GOP likes to believe that they stand for balanced budgets, but that's because they always use wildly optimistic estimates for tax revenue 3 to 5 years down the road - which, as we all know, doesn't always work out because things like recessions crop up and revenues go down.

I really don't like the way Bush just asserts things as if they are self evident. For example, he said something like 90% of businesses are S-type corportations and "they just are". It shows a very surface level of knowledge and he uses those phrases all the time. "Axis of Evil" for example, was another use of that type of communication. North Korea, Iraq, and Iran are just evil because "they just are". That type of thinking is antithetical to problem solving and completely ignores the real considerations of those nations to prolif.

Finally, I think this debate helped Kerry. Those that are really paying attention know that Kerry did well. But those that aren't really that clued in saw a resolute Kerry and an irritable President that didn't knock Kerry down. A draw only helps Kerry. Bush needed a win and didn't get it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bad Mood Story Time

I'm in a bad mood tonight. It happens. But I wanted to relate a story of complete and utter NOBBERY that deserves preservation.

On Tuesday in class, my friend that I've discussed in this space before decided she was going to start a fight. My professor laid out a criteria for what constitutes a "revolution" compared to a "revolt" or a "war of independence". This criteria excluded cases where there was a colonial power because the revolt didn't change the home government, it only led to independence for part of the nation's territory (which is why there was no American revolution). It was a very straight forward, and if I may be so bold, reasonable argument.

My friend, however, decided that the professor's definition excluded the Haitian "revolution" because she studied Haiti before and she knows that it's been referred to as a "revolution" before. After getting incredibly uppity about it and COMPLETELY ignoring that the definition presented in class was designed for a specific context (and that the role of the social scientist is to discern between dissimilar events), she essentially accused the entire class and the professor of being racists because we refused to acknowledge that a "revolt" involving black people could be a revolution.

Not only that, at one point, she said, "I know it's true because I've seen it on the internet" which of course prompted unpreventable laughter from my friend Dave and I. Her response to the laughter was to ask us if we didn't believe her or, more accurately, if we thought she was "lying". I was sure for a moment there that we were going to have fisticuffs - that is, violence from her against the rest of us. It's then that I realized (after writing several "kill me"s in my notebook), that I know who she is. In the everlasting memory of the tempini, my friend is the 1st person to get kicked off the Real World every season. She's the girl that hears one thing but never listens. She's the girl that resorts to violence because her mental deficit is so severe that she has a complete inability to express her primitive thoughts in any fashion except "RACE" or "Are you calling me a liar?". For these sins, I forever dub her:

Real World.

Everyone needs a nickname and her's suits her perfectly. From now on, if I mention Real World, you know whom I'm talking about.

Now, there is another issue that deserves attention. Some (especially those located in Silver Spring, Maryland) would suggest that this person is not my "friend", she is my "associate". It's a good assertion. If I wasn't forced to interact with this person on a regular basis, I'm sure I wouldn't. So, every time I've called her my "friend", just replace in your mind with "associate". Because that's more accurate. Alternatively, you could just think of her as a useless piece of garbage that is driving me slowly insane.

At any rate, I'm quite tired and it's quite late. I'm also somewhat perturbed that I can't watch any baseball playoffs and that the Redskins, much like my pessimistic and good friend Dave predicted, suck ass. Someone asked me what I miss about the States tonight (excluding family and friends - because that's a given). The answer was easy. I miss the sports.

I promise more positivity in the next post.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day. After my interview (which went quite well), I walked down to the Thames. The sun was out, it was awesome. Since I brought my camera, I have some pictures, which you can see below. As you can see, simply fantastic weather for October.

Political thought of the day: Now that it's evident that Kerry got a nice bounce from the first debate, the Bush people should seriously think about cancelling the remaining debates. Reason being, Democrats traditionally do much better with domestic issues. Seeing how Kerry housed Bush on foreign policy, I can only imagine how well he's going to do on the economy and social policy. Seriously, I can't imagine what W. is going to do when Kerry says that allowing the assault weapons ban to expire increases the risk of terrorists walking into airports, shopping malls, etc. and opening fire. That incident at the LA airport isn't that distant of a memory, is it?

(Note: I'll ignore the factual nature of the argument that I've made above. Politically, Kerry can score points by explaining the assault weapons ban as critical to making it more difficult for terrorists to get automatic weapons. Realistically, they can probably get them quite easily with the ban in place.)

At any rate, seeing how the next debate is on at 3 am my time this friday, I probably won't get a chance to watch it. If CSPAN has it on their website, maybe I can catch a replay. I think Bush is in trouble.

A better view of the pedestrian walkway.

Not really sure what this was, so I'll call it the British Capitol Building. Imitation is the root of flattery.

Millenium Bridge and some really odd structures. Looks like they either had another bridge here or are planning to build one.

Millenium Bridge and the pedestrian crossing. You can just see the figures of people.

Cool looking building and the Thames Walk. I'm on the North side of the Thames looking West.

Southwark Bridge seen from the Thames Walk.

River boat on the Thames.

Random tower in the midst of modern office buildings. Makes one wonder if there was more to this structure before World War II.

The London Bridge in the distance, as seen from Southwark Bridge.

View looking west on Southwark Bridge.

Cool looking building near the Bank of England.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Quick Addendum

I left out two details from yesterday's post.

1. Evan's flat is totally awesome. He really lucked out. His grandmother bought the place about 30 years ago when the market wasn't totally insane over here. It's in Russell Square, which is a nice area, very close to Piccadilly and other popular spots. It's a really beautiful flat, obviously well taken care of. I asked how much it would go for and he said that she bought it for 100,000 - 125,000 pounds - somewhere in that range. Today, it would sell for a minimum of 300,000 pounds - yes, that's $600,000 for a 1 bedroom apartment. That's insane.

2. I often see people here that are so ridiculous I just want to photograph them to preserve the memory. Unfortunately, they would probably be offended and insulted, so I have to log those pictures in my brain instead. Yesterday at Tesco (the supermarket), I saw this woman, most likely Russian, probably 6'4" or so, and pale as can be (I mean, I look tan next to her). But that wasn't what made me almost drop my groceries and fall over in hysterics. No, what really got my gander was that she was wearing a floor length, white fur coat (it was like 55 yesterday), and a matching white, furry Russian style hat. I felt like I just walked by the Ice Queen. I really wish I had my camera.

At any rate, I gotta run. I have my 2nd interview at Baker Botts in just over an hour and I gots to primp. Bon chance!

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Frustrate me not!

Today I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get the Redskins radio or video broadcast. Finally, I managed to secure a jerky video broadcast that...has no sound. D'oh! This sucks.

Anyway, last night, I went to my friend Evan's house. Some friends of his came over and we sat around drinking Columbian liquor and talking up a storm. Good times.

Today it's been rainy and wet, so I thought it would be the perfect day to do some cooking. I've decided that I don't get enough fruits and veggies, so my new plan is to eat a fruit salad for breakfast/lunch every day (going on 4 days straight now!). Making fruit salad lead me to a simple conclusion: Including grapes in fruit salad is just plain stupid. Either you have to cut each grape in half individually, which takes too damn long and isn't worth the effort; or, you have to struggle to spear a slick grape with your fork, an equally annoying proposition. No, grapes don't make the cut. Kiwi, however, is extremely easy to peel and slice, it's tasty and delicious (passing both tests of excellence), and it provides the green color that the grapes were really there for. Mmmm, kiwi.

For dinner, though, I was really really craving Thai food - something sweet and spicy. So I hopped on line and got a recipe for Basil-Chili Chicken. The recipe wasn't great, and I was forced to modify it a little bit, but it was a good start. I made it really spicy and the basil made it great. I now have tons of leftovers.

Not sure if everyone out there has the time or inclination to read some of the links I put up, but Talking Points Memo had a great explanation of why Bush's claim that there will be "150,000" trained Iraqi troops and policeman is a total lie. Not that deception is anything new to this adminstration (or any Republican administration in the last 40 years), but this is particularly troubling. Central to Bush's claim that the US can win the peace is the idea that Iraqi's can police themselves. That's likely to take a very long time, however, and Bush knows it. The truth (as discovered by Reuters and admitted by the Pentagon), is that they're not likely to reach 25,000 trained troops by December, not to mention 150,000. The training program for police is an 8-week course. So far, around 8100 have been trained and about 46,000 are listed as "untrained" (i.e. useless) and the Pentagon estimates that it won't be until July 2006 before those Iraqi's are trained.

Not only that, 6 of 71 army battalions have received initial training, 8 of 71 have reached "initial operational readiness", and a whopping 57 of 71 battaliaons have no training or equipment or PEOPLE (as in, on paper, Bush can say there are 71 battalions, but they have yet to recruit enough Iraqi's to make it past 20 battalions, not to mention 71). In sum, the math works out to 12,554 actual Iraqi soldiers that have received some level of training. Not exactly ready to defend their borders, are they?

Just to beat a dead horse a moment longer, the Pentagon estimates that, AT BEST, they'll have 25,000 "ready" troops, police, border guards, etc by December. And you wonder why Bush doesn't have press conferences.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Post-debate wrap up

I've read a good bit today about the debate and I find it interesting that most of the coverage seems to be about appearance and not policy (style over substance). I really wish it wasn't so. Policy-wise, Bush got taken to the House. It was very remeniscent of the 1992 elections when Clinton has a policy take (he called it something like a "vision for America") and Bush I really didn't have much but negative personal attacks. The election wasn't really that close and a lot of people say that Bush's failure to explain what he would do for the country was at a root the cause of his loss (especially since he had big explaining to do about the economy being in recession - explaining he couldn't or didn't do).

That being said, Zogby (yeah, the guy who does polls) has been arguing for quite some time that Kerry is going to win this election because of the exact same thing - he has an agenda, Bush doesn't. One of the interesting things, however, is that just before the debate, Zogby criticized the Kerry campaign for not energizing the democratic base by attacking the President on Iraq and the War on Terror. Well, I think the 60 million Americans that watched the debate can now see that JFK isn't exactly a pushover on the Iraq issue. Perceptually, it was extremely important that Kerry stood his ground on the issues and quipped back against the "you're a flip-flopper" by saying that it's better to make reasoned, principled decisions then be an arrogant ass that can't ever admit you made a mistake even as more troops are dying every day.

Another interesting thing about the polls after the debate is that, not surprisingly, Democrats overwhelmingly said that Kerry won, Republicans said Bush won, but over 58% of "undecideds" said that Kerry won (that's a 20 point margin). That's good news to the Kerry people. According to Zogby, if Kerry mobilizes his base (and they come out to vote in droves), then all he has to do is demonstrate that he's no pushover and he's a sure winner. I'm not 100% sold on that yet, partly because I'm anticipating an "October Suprise" from the Bush administration that could shake things up at the end of the race.

BUT, it does seem VERY likely, that at this point, Kerry is going to be the next president. Bush looked annoyed, tired, combatative, and at times, just clueless. I really wonder if the Bush camp thought the whole debate would be about Iraq and the War on Terror. Because it's hard to believe that they just goofed on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. But hey, at least he was certain.

Political Favorites
Guilty Pleasures
My Global Position