Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Week 4 NFL Picks

BEARS over lions
COLTS over seahawks
REDSKINS over buccaneers
TEXANS over raiders
giants over CHIEFS
PATRIOTS over ravens
bengals over BROWNS
titans over JAGUARS
DOLPHINS over bills
SAINTS over jets
cowboys over BRONCOS
49ERS over rams
STEELERS over chargers
packers over VIKINGS

Last week: 13-3
Season: 37-11

Walt takes down the neocons

A good read.

EU report: Georgia started war, Russia also guilty

An EU report finds Georgia at fault for starting last fall's Georgia-Russia war.

From the Washington Post:

"None of the explanations given by the Georgian in order to provide some form of legal justification for the attack lend it a valid explanation," said Heidi Tagliavini, the Swiss diplomat asked to conduct the probe, in a statement accompanying a report of more than 1,000 pages. "In particular, there was no massive Russian military invasion underway, which had to be stopped by Georgia military forces shelling Tskhinvali," the capital of South Ossetia.

But Tagliavini stopped short of blaming Georgia for causing the August 2008 war, concluding that Russia also violated international law by issuing large numbers of passports to residents of separatist enclaves in Georgia before the fighting began and by sending its troops deep into Georgian territory afterward.

In addition, she said Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent states was illegitimate, and accused the Russian-backed Ossetian militias of conducting ethnic cleansing of Georgian civilians.

This blog has always held that the Russians have a point in recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia, since neither has ever shown any inclination to want to be part of Georgia and ethnonationalistically would probably not be able to function as part of the country. The end result from this report shouldn't be surprising, though: no one in the conflict behaved well, and no one came out of it looking good. Again, from the article:

"There is no way to assign overall responsibility for the conflict to one side alone," she wrote. "They all have failed, and it should be their responsibility to make good for it."

Hillary: I enjoy being President

US Secretary of State and runner-up for the Democratic nomination for President Hillary Clinton today is chairing a meeting in the UN Security Council on women and peace and security today. Because the US is President of the Council for the month of September, Clinton's technical title for the duration of this meeting is "President." Clinton, after reading an impassioned speech about violence against women in armed conflict, got a laugh with this quip:

"I like being President, so this may go on for a bit longer than usual."


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ranking NFL uniforms, 1-32

Due to the popularity of my Ugliest NFL Uniforms Ever post, I figured it was time to take a break from blogging about the UN and the amusing things that happen there and take some time to rank the NFL's 32 teams by their uniforms, best to worst. I care deeply about football jerseys and have since I was a little kid, which is funny because I care very little about fashion and certainly not what I myself am wearing. But at age 6, I was already quite convinced I wanted to root for the 49ers over the Broncos in the first Super Bowl I watched, and the coolness of San Fran's helmets and the crappiness of Denver's was a not insignificant factor.

So here we go. Because there's so many teams, I've divided them into 5 tiered divisions. While I've ranked them according to my order of preference, you can make a strong case for any team within a division topping out another. So if you're a cheesehead and want to explain to me how the Packers uniforms are DEFINITELY better than the Bears, fine, I'll hear you out. Vikings fans, however, shouldn't even try.


You'll notice that I like old school uniforms. Teams that wear exactly what they wore in the 1950s and 60s generally get major bonus props with me. Except for the Steelers changing lettering fonts a few years back (for the better, I think, if you compare old vs. new), these are all as old school as they come.

Most controversial on this list will be the Browns, because of their odd team colors and logoless helmets, but I've always been a big fan of this look. Anytime I watch any of the teams on this list play each other, it takes me back to my childhood, curled up on the couch watching December football and old NFL Films videos with the Chicago blizzards pounding against the windows of my parents' house. It'd do the same for my parents, if they had ever given a damn about football.


Of teams with recent (last 10 years or so) uniforms, the Patriots, Falcons, Titans and Buccaneers are clearly the best. The Jets get props for their switch in the late '90s back to the Joe Namath style, which was vastly superior than the shlock they wore in the 80s. But occasionally they wear these Pop Warner League green pants which are unworthy of pro ball. The 49ers also went retro this year, which are far classier than their recent uniforms. The Ravens' uniforms are excellent and I ding them only because it's hard to tell the difference between the purple and black. The Redskins' uniforms, though fine, were better in the 70s. (And of course, there's the whole name controversy thing.) The Cowboys' uniforms, though classic, annoyingly have a completely different color blue on the numbers than they do on the helmets. (This has bothered me since I was about 8 years old watching Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith lay waste to the Buffalo Bills year after year.)


These teams have generally inoffensive but meh uniforms. Whether it's general boringness, weird design weird alternates, or a new look that's worse than the old look, all of them could be better than what they are.


Now we're getting into unfortunate territory, teams who look like they belong in NFL Europe or Arena League. Denver's helmets, for example, have the best logo in the team's history (some of their past ones are, um, best forgotten) but the jerseys are a bland betrayal of the team's identity. Denver's primary color is and has always been orange, and there's more than enough teams with navy as their main color. I would rank Denver far higher if it wore these alternates all the time. The Jaguars, meanwhile, need to go back to 1998. The Rams need to go back to LA. The Lions' slightly improved uniforms are still irrelevant, and the Dolphins' wacko colors could only be pulled off by a Miami drug kingpin.


These are the only teams where I literally do not want to watch the game if they are playing, because the uniforms are so dreadful. Minnesota's bizarre and spacy design makes me miss the Fran Tarkenton era. They look like storm troopers from Star Wars except with purple helmets. The Bengals' uniforms, never the best, have in recent years acquired garish accoutrements, and their alternates are epically awful. The Buffalo Bills took a great thing and turned it into a hideous thing (yet another team trying to use multiple shades of blue and failing). And then there's the worst of the worst. Seattle's regular uniforms are actually pretty good, although the home uniforms make them kinda look like giant condoms. So why the worst ranking? This is why. The Seahawks entered heretofore unknown territory with their ectoplasm-green Power Ranger/GI Joe Eco-Warrior/traffic cop alternates they trotted out on Sunday Sept. 27 against the Bears. (See the Worst NFL Uniforms Ever post from Sept. 28.)

Got a gripe? There's a comment page below. Let's hear it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ugliest NFL uniforms ever

In light of the atrocious, horrifying new development of the Seattle Seahawks ectoplasm-colored green alternate jerseys, Ambassador At Large's blog presents:

The 5 Ugliest Uniforms in NFL History

#5. While I don't hate them as much as other people do, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' pumpkin-colored jerseys of the 1970s, 80s and early 90s were just downright silly. It didn't help that Tampa lost its first 26 games as a franchise and won one playoff game in 30 years while wearing them.

Cincinnati Bengals "halloween" alternate orange jerseys. The Bengals have never had exemplary uniforms but these are the worst. I mean really, should you wear this to play football on Sundays or to go trick-or-treating? Bill Parcells once said that "All uniforms look good if you put good players in them," but even the able Carson Palmer cannot make this look good.

#3. The Denver Broncos of the 1960s were most famous for wearing striped socks, but let's also give fair mention to the comically bad helmets that the Broncos worn from 1962-1965.

#2. The road unis currently being sported by the Buffalo Bills are an atrocity on the eyes, and unnecessarily so. The Bills' classic blue-and-red color scheme should not have been corrupted this way, but sadly it has. Where do I begin? The block navy shoulder pads and clashing royal blue numbers that make this team look like an also-ran in the CFL? The dueling blue shades on the helmet? The red-and-blue piping up the pants that turn into garish straight red going up the side of the jersey? Hideous. And until last Sunday, the worst uniforms I'd ever seen in the NFL.

Then came...

#1. The Seattle Seahawks green alternate jerseys. There's really no argument here. Even the XFL and the World Football League would not have tolerated this. Maybe the United Football League would, but that doesn't help Seattle's case. It's not just the electric green that makes them look like Power Rangers or Planeteers. It's the dull blue helmets clashing with the navy pants... or the dull blue piping virtually invisible against said pants... or the blue sleeves that make the jerseys look like one of those vests you wear in the woods during hunting season. A nightmare. An abject nightmare. And the matching shoes worn by some Seahawks on Sunday do not help.

Most alarming from this list is that 3 of these 5 aesthetic abominations are still being used by the franchises in question. Is it possible that football uniforms are getting worse? Several teams -- Minnesota, Jacksonville -- are currently sporting uniforms noticeably uglier than any they have had in their franchises' histories. And in college ball, things have just gotten wacky.

What is clear is this: in the NFL, old school is usually better. The best uniforms in the NFL are the ones that have undergone little or no change over many decades.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week 3 results

Correct in bold

PATRIOTS over falcons
RAVENS over browns
packers over RAMS
TEXANS over jaguars
EAGLES over chiefs
giants over BUCS
steelers over BENGALS
VIKINGS over 49ers
redskins over LIONS
bears over SEAHAWKS
saints over BILLS
broncos over RAIDERS
CHARGERS over dolphins
JETS over titans
colts over CARDINALS

COWBOYS over panthers

This week: 13-3
Last week: 10-6
Season: 37-11
vs. ESPN experts

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ahmadinejad: "Obama is not a nuclear expert"

Iranian President Ahmadinejad, in response to this morning's shocking news of a new secret Iranian nuclear facility.

The controversial Iranian leader denied that the facility was secret or in violation of IAEA rules. He claimed that the IAEA allows 6 months before the use of a facility to register its existence with the IAEA, and that the mountain site revealed last night is 18 months from coming online.

Ahmadinejad also responded to US President Barack Obama's statement that that the "size and configuration" of the facility does not match a peaceful nuclear programme. "I don't think Mr. Obama is a nuclear expert," said Ahmadinejad.

Regarding Hugo Chavez's comments yesterday that the General Assembly podium smells of "hope" and not "sulfur" since Obama has become President, Ahmadinejad said, "The sweetest smell is that of justice." He also dismissed British and French leaders Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy as "not important" and suggested that the US government had misinformed Obama. "They should take care not to mar Obama's image," said the Iranian leader.

Somehow, I don't think this is the tone the West is hoping Iran will strike when negotiations commence Oct. 1.

Zardari: me, exploiting my wife's death? never!

Pakistani head of state Asif Ali Zardari is giving his speech to the General Assembly right now. Next to him is a huge framed photograph of Benazir Bhutto. Really, Mr. Zardari? You don't think this is a little manipulative to curry political support for yourself?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bibi's not here to make friends

I don't think Benjamin Netanyahu came to the UN to win anyone over, or else he would have given a slightly less inflammatory speech than this. Really Bibi, "Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists" might have been a little over the top.

Hugo Chavez and the One-Country Arms Race

Sadly, it looks like Venezuelan President's relationship with his Colombian neighbor is on the rocks, and his formerly warm relationship with Hillary has grown more distant.

Q. President Uribe of Colombia is worried about the arms race in Latin America. What do you say to him?
Chavez. I have nothing to say to Uribe. He is a liar. A compulsive liar. What do you say to someone like that? He has the arms race!

Q. What would be the basis for renewing relations with Colombia and Venezuela?
Chavez. ... The Colombian media, they slander me. They call me all sorts of things. And I have extended my hand, like Jesus, I have turned the other cheek. ... With Uribe I made 100,000 efforts. I extended my hand, when I got accusations, lies. ... I think Colombia deserves a better government. As long as that government is there, it will be difficult. No, it's impossible. It's a government of lies, of slander. No, there will not be a restoration of this relationship. No, it won't happen. Trade is reduced to zero. Political relations are frozen. Venezuela will trade with other nations. There are no relations with the government of Colombia but I love Colombia. ... I appeal to the UN to set up a peace plan for Colombia.

Hillary [Clinton] says we have an arms race. I don't know what's the matter with Hillary. I don't know. Maybe it's papers the pentagon passes to her. I also said hello to Hillary when she was there. She was very cordial. She was attacked in Congress for it and she said I was very cordial. She said something nice about me. I gave her a hug, a kiss. ... We haven't been able to talk [Hillary and I, lately]. And now she is saying we have an arms race. We don't. We only want a defense force. All countries have it. ... Hillary pay attention to this, it's the US, it's the US who has the largest arms race in the world. It's not Venezuela.

Hugo Chavez and the Atomic Bicycle

More from Hugo Chavez, this time from his press conference in the UN basement. Unbelievable...

Q. Do you think Obama will change US foreign policy towards Latin America?
Chavez. I think that one of the serious failures of the US has been that for a long time it has underestimated and undervalued Latin America and the Caribbean. It has not only undervalued but it has mistreated. You may remember the Mexican president who said 'poor poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.' I hope that Obama turns around the vision of the White House, of the Dept. of State, of Latin America. ... The Pentagon is a state within a state. It is its own government. Obama should dismantle it. It remains to be seen if they'll let him. That is why I say may God protect Obama from the bullets that took Kennedy. They are saying he was not born in the US, that he is black, that he is crazy, I don't know what else.

Q. Would you like to meet Obama to see if he has 1 or 2 faces? Also, recently the US government has become alarmed over what they say is the South American arms race. Some accuse you of collaborating with Iran on nuclear programme.
Chavez. Well, one day they said, actually somebody in Colombia said, a minister, that they had seen through satellite a bicycle factory which belonged to Iran and Venezuela factory, because under the bicycles they were enriching uranium. I said to Uribe, aren't you going to set that record straight? And he said no, that's a personal opinion. ... Obama compared me with, who is this lady who sells a lot of things here, Oprah? Obama said that I resembled her because I gave her a book and the book I gave him "The Open Veins of Latin America." [It went from 177,000 to #1 in sales in hours.] The next day Obama told me, you're like Oprah! ... And I said let's do business, Obama. Socialist business. And those bicycles? We now call them "atomic bicycles" and they are very popular. We are selling through the Caribbean. They are good for children, pregnant women, and available with or without uranium!!

I don't think he is two-faced. When we met there was chemistry between us, there was affection. ... We shook hands. Because he smiled, what, you think we were going to threaten each other with a hammer? We were human beings. Last night I met a friend of Oliver Stone's who is a Japanese boxer and she almost punched me in the face, but that's what people wanted, they wanted to see us punch each other in the face. He came over and said hello how are you Chavez and I said how are you Obama? Obama and his labrynth, Obama president of a country that is not African, that is not Latin American. It is an empire, and it is the Pentagon, the Imperial Power. And there is Obama. God help him. I hope he can solve the major contradiction in which he lives.

Hugo Chavez and the Socialist Biscuit Factory

Live blogging Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's speech to the General Assembly!

3:10 - Chavez arrives at the podium with a very large book. Last time, it was Chomsky's "Hegemony or Survival." What is it this time? The Bible? Webster's English Dictionary?

3:12 - Chavez explains how last night he went to see Oliver Stone's new movie "South of the Border," which featured himself. And a lot of his friends. He recommends that we all should see it.

3:15 - The leaders are filing in late, so Chavez stalls for time. "Ah, President of Gambia just showed up to see my speech. I'll let him put his earpiece on. Viva Africa! Don't worry, I'm not going to speak any long than Gaddafi. Gaddafi has said everything there has been to say. But I'm not going to speak any less than Obama. Or Lula."

3:19 - "Oliver Stone told me that pressures have been put against the release of his movie. What are they afraid of? It's just a movie." No word on Chavez's shutting down of opposition radio stations in Venezuela.

3:22 - "I see the light is still green," he says, looking at the podium to check how much time he has left. He looks at his watch. "It's only been two minutes!" Actually, it's been 13.

3:23 - "Some workers told me their biscuit factory had shut down and they said, why don't you buy our biscuit factory. Maybe I will, if Obama gives me permission, and then it would be a socialist biscuit factory." Chavez claims there was no socialism in the Soviet Union, and that the USSR "lost its way early on."

3:24 - Invokes Einstein. "Einstein convinced the American president to build the atomic bomb before the Nazis. Later he regretted what he'd done when he saw Hiroshima and Nagasaki. ... But after all the studying he had done, he was a great scientist ... he wrote, why socialism? And he came to the conclusion that the only way for the human species to live on this planet is socialism. Capitalism is the road to ruin." Um, is this true?

3:26 - And now a journey into natural history. Life began 3 billion years ago at least, "but we've only been here for 150,000 years and we're going to wipe our life on this planet? ... It's only through socialism that we can bring about change. The revolution in Latin America has it all.

3:28 - Oh dear, another world leader invokes JFK's death. "I hope God protects Obama from the bullets that took JFK's life."

3:29 - Callback! Back in 2005, Chavez said it smells of sulfur at the podium because Bush "el Diablo" had spoken there a day earlier. But now? "It doesn't smell of sulfur here anymore. It's gone. ... It smells of something else. It smells of hope." Fox News is going to have a field day with this.

3:30 - Jack Kennedy apparently said "Those who close the door to a peaceful revolution open the door to a violent revolution." Chavez tells us to look it up on the internet. "You can find everything there nowadays." 21 minutes and counting for Hugo.

3:32 - "Please don't anybody show me a shoe," says Chavez, apologizing for a lack of notes. At this point, the translator cracks up for the first time. "If you're going to have a shoe please throw me one of those rubber shoes."

3:35 - Here we go. Onto the Honduras crisis. Chavez claims that only the Israelis have recognized the coup government. Chavez likens the coup government to "old dark magicians." That's right: Roberto Micheletti is... Voldemort.

3:36 - First invocation of Lenin. Oh dear.

3:38 - Chavez book club time. "Yesterday I was reading a book by Juan Bosch, the Dominican who was overthrown by the Empire, called Pentagonism." Chavez claims the Pentagon wants to run the world and not recognize Obama, and wants to recognize the Micheletti regime. If by "pentagon" Chavez means "Wall Street Journal," then he might have a point.

3:40 - "Is there one Obama or are there two? The world is hoping that the Obama who spoke here is the only Obama and that he prevails."

3:41 - First invocation of Che. Claims this revolution is different. "It's a peaceful revolution. It's a democratic revolution. Please do not fear democracy. I'm paraphrasing Noam Chomsky, on a book I read just now when I was visiting my friend the King of Spain in Madrid. ... I said, I'll go to the summit if you don't tell me to shut up, and he said 'I won't.' Actually, we're good friends, the King and I."

3:43 - "Imperialism has to end! At times I wonder. I was asking Lula, my friend Lula, what would Latin America be like today if the Americans had not imposed their model with firepower and blood." Yes, I'm sure we've all wondered this.

3:44 - On to the Cuban Embargo. "Obama, lift the blockade! Be consistent! Or are there two Obamas? ... Which Obama am I speaking to?" Actually, neither. Obama decamped for Pittsburgh a couple hours ago.

3:48 - On nonproliferation: "Kindly destroy all the nuclear weapons you have," Chavez suggests cheerfully. "Go ahead."

3:49 - Calls for peace in Colombia. That's nice. "Is it peace Obama is hoping to find with seven military bases in Colombia? It is a threat."

3:56 - Global warming now. Global warming is "because of overconsumption," explains Chavez. The solution, obviously, is socialism, because socialists don't consume anything. 37 minutes and counting for Chavez's speech. Announces he will analyze in detail the Stieglitz report on the financial crisis, prompting groans from the press room.

4:00 - "We're in favor of socialism, but let's discuss it." Must we? "Obama, come over to the socialist side! Come join the axis of evil here and we'll build a real economy on the service of the people. Capitalism is just for a small number. It excludes the majority. It eats up the life. I think I've spoken for 10 minutes now." Try 50.

4:02 - Another book recommendation. This time it's "Beyond Capital: Toward a Theory of Transition" by István Mészáros. Turns out, that was the huge tome El Presidente had brought with him. Chavez calls it "one of the great works of the 21st century." Mészáros, he says, quotes "another great person, Karl Marx. He was the Einstein of politics. Oh yes, he was demonized, but he's right about so many things."

4:05 - Invokes Jesus, who said "my kingdom is not of this world." Um... how does this fit into dialectic materialism?

4:06 - He sings the last part, from a song by a revolutionary singer. "Let's be a tiny bit better and a tiny bit less selfish," sings Chavez, who reveals himself to have a deep and resonant baritone. And with that, he's done! 56 minutes. Well done.

Foreign Policy blog is also in on the act.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 3 picks

So last week wasn't so good, but I'm still ahead of most of the ESPN experts. Here's my best guess at how next week will go. Home teams in CAPS, as always:

PATRIOTS over falcons
RAVENS over browns
packers over RAMS
TEXANS over jaguars
EAGLES over chiefs
giants over BUCS
steelers over BENGALS
VIKINGS over 49ers
redskins over LIONS
bears over SEAHAWKS
saints over BILLS
broncos over RAIDERS
CHARGERS over dolphins
JETS over titans
colts over CARDINALS
COWBOYS over panthers

Last week: 9-7
Season: 24-8

This revolution is televised

What can be said about Muammar Qaddafi's unreal speech to the General Assembly? First, before he could even start, 10 minutes elapsed while half the membership congratulated him and the most of the high level Western delegations walked out. Then the Assembly President, a Libyan named Ali Treki, introduced Qaddafi as "the leader of the revolution."

Qaddafi then walked to the mic in his usually dusty colored robes, black cap, and a garish black Africa pin, and held for one hour, 36 minutes, with such observations as:

- He "applauded" Obama's speech and would be quite content for President Obama, the "son of Africa" to be President forever
- The General Assembly should be moved from New York, because Qadaffi suffered from jet lag on the way here.
- Swine flu was a bioweapon that was cooked up in a laboratory and escaped.
- If the European colonialist powers do not pay reparations of $7.77 trillion (he was very specific here) Africans will come to Europe and take the money.
- The General Assembly should immediately pass a resolution making the Security Council a subsidiary power to the "democratic" GA. "This is justice, this is democracy!" thundered Qaddafi. He continued:

Now the Security Council is security feudalism, political feudalism for those who ahve a permanent seats, protected by them and used against us. It should not be called the Security Council. It should be called the Terror Council.

Qaddafi would like this resolution passed now, "on the fortieth anniversary." Anniversary of what, you ask? Of Qaddafi coming to power, of course. He is the leader of the revolution, after all.

- Qaddafi idly thumbed through the UN Charter, observing that the preamble says all nations are equal but the veto is not equal. Disapproving of Chapter 7 of the Charter, which allows for sanctions, he tore the UN Charter and then tossed it aside.
- Manuel Noriega should be released.
- The Iraq War is "the mother of all evils" and should be investigated by the General Assembly immediately. George Bush should be tried by the UN and put to death.
- The Taliban, what's wrong with them really? They're kind of like the Vatican, in that both are religious states.
- There are civil wars everywhere. There was a civil war in the US and no one interfered. Why not Iraq?
- Swine flu was made in a laboratory by the companies that make the vaccine. All medicine should be free so capitalist companies don't have the incentive to create disease. If we're not careful, next year they'll hit us with "fish flu." No, really.
- Mines are okay for defense. "If you invade me, you could be killed, but that's okay because you're invading me. And there is a website where you may hear me speak." Yes, Qaddafi just hawked his own website.
- "This two-state solution is not practical. For now the two states are overlapped. They are not neighborly. They are interlapped, overlapped, from the population, from a geographic point of view. The solution is a democratic state without religious fanaticism. The Sharon and Arafat generation is over." It is time to create one state called "Isratine." At this point, Qadaffi throws a book on the two-state solution back at the General Assembly podium.

Reactions ranged. The poor American diplomats required to sit in the US seats sat in largely shellshocked silence, but cameras caught a Chinese delegate cracking up. As soon as he saw himself on the screen, he stopped, rather mortified.

Foreign Policy blog has more, including live updates. So does the Guardian.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week 2 Results

Correct pick in bold:

FALCONS over panthers
vikings over LIONS
PACKERS over bengals
TITANS over texans
raiders over CHIEFS
patriots over JETS
saints over EAGLES
REDSKINS over rams
JAGUARS over cardinals
BILLS over buccaneers
seahawks over 49ERS
BEARS over steelers
CHARGERS over ravens
BRONCOS over browns
giants over COWBOYS
colts over DOLPHINS

Week 2: 10-6
Week 1: 14-2
Season: 24-8
ESPN experts

Friday, September 18, 2009

Week 2 NFL picks

Home teams in CAPS:

FALCONS over panthers
vikings over LIONS
PACKERS over bengals
TITANS over texans
raiders over CHIEFS
patriots over JETS
saints over EAGLES
REDSKINS over rams
JAGUARS over cardinals
BILLS over buccaneers
seahawks over 49ERS
BEARS over steelers
CHARGERS over ravens
BRONCOS over browns
giants over COWBOYS
colts over DOLPHINS

Last week: 14-2
Season: 14-2
ESPN experts

Thursday, September 17, 2009

mini T Rex found


Doubly neat is that, in the sketch, they include proto-feathers that it's increasingly apparent that most tyrannosaurs and raptors possessed. Imagine... T-rex, the giant chicken from hell.

Fox News: UN peacekeeping is too expensive

Over on Fox News, George Russell has a piece trashing the UN for its $13.9 billion operating budget. Russell points out that although the UN's "core" budget stays low, at $4.9 billion, additional political and peacekeeping missions nearly triple that figure. Russell also is unhappy with the US's bill in that: over $2 billion in peacekeeping costs alone.

Earth to Russell: nearly all of the budget increases in Ban Ki-moon's tenure have been on peacekeeping missions which are approved by the UN Security Council... mostly at the US's urging. AND THAT'S A GOOD THING. UN peacekeeping is amazingly cheap and solves problems where I'm fairly confident he wouldn't want US troops to go. The $7.9 billion peacekeeping budget -- about a week's worth of Iraq money -- keeps over 100,000 UN peacekeepers in uniform in such inhospitable places as Darfur, Eastern Congo, and southern Lebanon. The utility of some of these missions (Congo springs to mind) is worth debating, but the biggest, in Darfur, is largely responsible for keeping the peace in an anarchic, war-torn region with millions of refugees. Multiply that by 17 missions, and UN peacekeeping quickly emerges as the most cost-effective solution to security problems that we've got. What's to complain about?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goldtsone report is out

And it's pretty damning to both sides, but particularly the Israelis, who are accused of using disproportionate force towards civilians, employing collective punishment, targeting civilian installations for no military reason whatsoever, and committing "war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity." Read all 575 pages of it here.

Or you can go here and get the summary.

Or read the New York Times story here.

All I can say is, Richard Goldstone is a very well-respected South African judge, noted for his work in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And he's also Jewish. So it's going to be very hard for the Israelis to accuse him of bias against them... probably one reason why he was selected for the job. The odds of the Security Council actually referring either side to the Hague, as is recommended in the report if neither side cooperates with investigations in the next six months, is approximately nil, but the truth is worth something, I suppose.

shoe-thrower is out... and leaving

The Iraqi shoe-thrower, freed from prison, said he was tortured in jail and that he is fleeing the country because he fears for his life.

Mullen says more troops are needed in Afghanistan

Admiral Mullen today, at a morning hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee:

A properly resourced counterinsurgency probably means more forces, and, without question, more time and more commitment to the protection of the Afghan people and to the development of good governance.

Good governance in Afghanistan? Really? We're going to stick around until we get that? It might be a long, long time. The Obama Administration has shown ample understanding that Afghanistan can't really have a strong central government, let alone a viably democratic one, and that holding out for such utopian ends will require massive resources and will almost certainly fail. I can't say I'm an expert on troop levels and counterinsurgency, so I won't claim to know how many troops we need to accomplish x or y in Afghanistan, but I hope that the military doesn't try to strong-arm the administration into doing something that makes no strategic sense.

P.S. Yglesias weighs in on the whole "what does victory actually mean?" question.

flying mice!

In what sounds like an evil science experiment but is in fact just an ordinary non-evil science experiment, NASA has used magnetic fields to levitate mice.

As some science fiction writer observed, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Somalia and the death of Responsibility To Protect

French forces -- or, at least, troops wearing French insignia -- launch helicopter raids into Somalia. Somehow, I don't think this will go very far towards making the Somalis less xenophobic.

Week 1 results

STEELERS over titans
FALCONS over dolphins

BENGALS over broncos
vikings over BROWNS
COLTS over jaguars
SAINTS over lions
cowboys over BUCS
eagles over PANTHERS
RAVENs over chiefs
jets over TEXANS

GIANTS over redskins
CARDINALS over 49ers
SEAHAWKS over rams
PACKERS over bears
PATRIOTS over bills
chargers over RAIDERS

*In advance of tonight's game, I have CHANGED my pick from the Raiders to the Chargers, having recalled that the Raiders never beat the Chargers. All other picks remain unmodified.

bold = correct
italics = yet to be played

This week: 14-2
Season: 14-2

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NFL is back!

And so is Super Bowl Joe's NFL picks. Note that I almost never follow the off-season, so I'm basically going in with 20 years' worth of football-watching blind gut picks here, but my picks nonetheless:

Thursday: STEELERS over titans
Sunday:FALCONS over dolphins
BENGALS over broncos
vikings over BROWNS
COLTS over jaguars
SAINTS over lions
cowboys over BUCS
eagles over PANTHERS
RAVENs over chiefs
jets over TEXANS
GIANTS over redskins
CARDINALS over 49ers
SEAHAWKS over rams
PACKERS over bears
Monday: PATRIOTS over bills
RAIDERS over chargers

Season: 0-0

Here we go!