• Archive of "Uncategorized" Category

    The Race to the Moon

    January 14, 2023 // 6 Comments »

    Artemis just took off for the moon. What might become of it?

    I was only three when John Kennedy died, and so his famous 1962 pronouncement that we would go to the moon not because it was easy but because it was hard, was already history. But the picture books I got on birthdays always included him in the history of space exploration. Those books made sure every kid knew the progression that was going to get “us” to the moon. They changed us and with us, America. More than speeches that looked like outtakes from Pink Floyd’s The Wall from Philadelphia, we need Artemis.

    Our past journey started with Mercury, baby steps mostly proving we could launch men into space. Then Gemini, a long proof-of-concept program to try out the technology of docking in space. It only became clear to young me what they were doing many years later; this was an era nearly pre-computer and to see if something would work you had to build it and try it out. No simulations, not even pocket calculators. Can two spacecraft find each other in orbit and connect? Well, you had to send them up and see what happened. And you had, as a nation, to believe first such a thing was possible.

    Then Apollo, those unbelievably large multi-stage rockets topped by a tiny capsule. I knew how they worked, their relative sizes, their roles and details. Gas stations gave out little prizes back then to attract customers, and no one did it better than Gulf. With a fill-up they gave you an actual paper model of the Lunar Lander. I was frustrated to no end trying to assemble it, cutting and folding paper parts. For some reason instead of the obvious Elmer’s glue my mother handed me a roll of cellophane tape. The model died a horrible fire cracker-related death.

    In the 1960s there were only three TV stations and they all had massive news departments aimed at producing the nightly news. Almost every family ritualistically watched “the news” every night. The people doing all the work were serious journalists, mostly unattractive older men who had learned their craft on radio. They did not seek to shock, and took their roles very seriously. We know now they were far too trusting of the government, far too willing to not report on certain embarrassing things, but their intentions were, however misguided, coming from a good place. The space program was the biggest story of their generation, the capstone of the American Century, and the natural end result to Manifest Destiny. It was biased coverage, but with a big heart.

    The unhappy parts of rockets were known, too. We had nuclear war drills when I was in elementary school where at the sound of a siren we’d grab our coats for radiation protection and dive under our desks to wait for the bright flash. This was all taken extremely seriously. Yet little effort was made to explain why Russia would attack our elementary school in Ohio. The insidious thing was we were told the exact same rockets the Russians would use to nuke our school were the ones they were using to try to get to the moon ahead of us. Those sneaks! America on the other hand developed one set of rockets for peaceful space exploration and another for “defense,” which we never thought through enough to realize involved Russian elementary schools, too.

    By the time the Apollo program was in full gear every launch from Cape Kennedy was televised live. We’d watch from our elementary school classrooms. We kids knew when these launches would occur; to get this information was one of my first motivations to starting to read the newspaper. By the time the countdown reached 10 seconds every kid in the room would be chanting the numbers. When the count stopped for a moment to fix some mechanical issue, we all let out a disappointed awww… and then fidgeted while the minutes of waiting seemed forever. Then, blast off! Without fail that night we would demand to be let into the backyard to stare up at the sky and purr about the astronauts being up there somewhere. And someday, “we” would walk on the moon. A long way from today’s Space Force being a punch line on Late Night.

    Things got completely out of hand the weeks before Apollo 11, the mission to put men on the lunar surface. Maps of the lunar surface were in every newspaper, big two-page things, and every kid begged for a lunar globe (no one I know ever got one.) The news was about this event alone, every page, and every kid soaked it up and then when we gathered outside to compare notes in case someone had picked up some minor detail the others had missed, like if you’ve ever heard adults talking serious baseball, all the statistics and photographic details of past games. I then watched Neil Armstrong touch his left foot upon the moon’s surface at 10:56 pm July 20, 1969.

    I was too young to understand the questions now widely asked about the space program. Couldn’t the money have been better spent at home? Did the research really match the outlay, giving us Tang in stores but otherwise devoted to expensive manned spaceflight which would soon fizzle out? Wasn’t it all just a big Cold War stunt, two countries vying to see who had the biggest rocket while the world burned in Vietnam?

    What I remember was a country that saw a single, good thing happen together. While in 2022 when the majority of young people say their most desired job is Influencer, kids then wanted to walk in space. Few of us ever did of course. What if dreams don’t come true? Are we better off for having dreamed them at least for one hot Ohio summer?

    For me, it all mattered. I saw something unfold, felt a part of it however naïve that was to think. It allowed me to see what smart people could accomplish, kind of like climbing a mountain just to do it. I’m much less sure about the greater good, the long run impact, but I know I took something with me from that summer I still have. This isn’t nostalgia, it’s history. Things worked then in America. It sounds like an exaggeration but it isn’t. We didn’t yet live in a society that had given up on itself. We put a man on the moon, after all.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Negotiations Continue on Guns and Abortions

    August 1, 2022 // 1 Comment »

    We don’t really negotiate much in the U.S. and so we’re bad at it. Even when we are forced to “haggle,” we employ rituals, like the salesperson at a used car dealership “checking with his manager” on our offers, or the dance between real estate agents that goes along with buying a house. Car offers come back from the mysterious manager as impossible, and offers on a house are just refused, no chance to talk because two layers of agents stand in the way. That’s why we cannot find any common ground on abortion and gun control. We do not know how to be reasonable.

    The American style of negotiating is to demand everything and settle for nothing less. So we’re taught to make our first offer the final offer (it works a little different when the issue is simply money, then we ask for an outrageous amount and “bargain down” after the other side offers an equally outrageous small amount. Starting anywhere near your actual price is considered a sign of weakness.) We don’t like gray areas and we don’t like to feel we’ve lost out on something. So being asked to support something on its face reasonable like allowing two people in love living together in a home they co-own to marry means buying into a whole LGBTQIA2+ agenda that somehow includes forcing kids to listen to drag queens read stories aloud about sexually ambitious caterpillars and their same-sex tadpole pals. Seeking restrictions on abortion ends up cruelly forcing rape and incest victims to carry to term.

    We do the same thing in broader swathes, when reporters who misuse pronouns or support the Harry Potter author are not just sidelined or argued with, but canceled, deleted, defunded, disenfranchised, literally thrown down the memory hole to just take their opinion and go away, leaving only your opinion standing. The presumption is even on the most ideological of arguments there is a clear right and wrong only. We have evolved speech to match this mindset, things like “my way or the highway,” “all or nothing,” and “in or out.”

    Back in the day when I worked for the State Department every summer embassies abroad had to ask for funding for summer hires to help us catch up on clerical work. There was only so much money around and not everyone could get all they wanted. At first I did what was standard, ask for ten people knowing I only needed five, with all sorts of silly justifications I had to eventually walk back. One year I played it different. I wrote in detail what five people would do, what would not get done with only four, and why six would be a waste of personnel. That year and the ones that followed were the easiest ever; Washington and I jumped right to the meat of the problem and nobody was forced to belittle the other on the road to negotiating a compromise.

    That’s what did not happen recently in overturning Roe v. Wade. Though Roe was poor jurisprudence and Constitutionally hilarious, it was the product of negotiation. First trimester abortions were basically allowed, second term were generally allowed, and third was more or less up to the states.  Roe produced a workable solution to a very complex problem, uniquely American as it combined religious, moral, and Red and Blue thought into what was often falsely presented as a binary decision — abortion was legal or not. The compromises in Roe were far from perfect or widely accepted, simply the output of a beleaguered Court willing to talk about something the rest of America would not.

    The problem was Roe’s supporters and opponents almost from day one set about trying to take a compromise solution and make it an absolute. States latched on to their freedom to dictate third semester rules by gleefully promoting gory end term abortions where a viable baby was aborted. There can be good medical reasons to consider this, but the issue was not presented that way, it was “a woman’s right.” Same on the other side. Clever legal tricks were deployed so that, sure, you can get a first trimester abortion, only not where clinic regulations and hospital affiliations were manipulated to make it near impossible to meet the standards. As was intended. No one was going to sit back and allow compromise to stand.

    The Court itself is not immune; in combination with the gutting of Roe (another all or nothing type decision) Judge Clarence Thomas opened the door to ending Federal law allowing for same sex marriage. If you can’t have all the rights you should have none of them he seems to be saying to the Left. Specifically, Thomas was threatening Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that declared married couples had a right to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case invalidating sodomy laws and making same-sex sexual activity legal across the country; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case establishing the right of gay couples to marry. How again are those directly related to the hyper-complex issue of abortion?

    More importantly, has anything changed in society that requires a new look, something gone amiss? No, the only thing that has changed is a different side now holds a majority on the Court and wants to run with it. They have no more interest in compromise than the demonstrators massing around Justices’ homes in hopes of harassing them into compliance with the mob, or AOC on TV screaming people are going to die.

    Same for gun control, the other recent Supreme Court decision. In New York State Rifle v. Bruen, the Supreme Court again swung widely. The existing law, basically saying the right to bear arms in the 2A did not automatically mean a right to openly carry arms in public, had been misused by anti-gun states. In Hawaii, for example, every single open carry permit had to be approved personally by the chief of police. Multiple chiefs over a period of recent years found no reason to approve even a single permit and in the past 22 years there have been four open carry permits issued in Hawaii; all or nothing, as if somehow not one applicant in recent memory was capable of safely openly carrying a weapon. So the response from the now-conservative Supreme Court was to do away with provisions governing carrying a weapon. The counter-response from those states who are anti-gun, such as Hawaii, is to promise to jerry-rig their laws with outrageous training requirements or exorbitant fees to somehow get around the Court’s perceived free-for-all, and to cite recent mass shootings (which had nothing to do with handguns or open carry laws) as fear-inducing excuses. Nobody sees any of the middle ground of reality.

    And that is why the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion and gun carry law resolve nothing. In the extreme progressives will simply wait it out until it is 1973 again, and the Court will have turned over to a more liberal group of jurists who will reinstate black to replace white or vice-versa. The real answer on abortion, a rough and robust debate in Congress followed by a set of compromises, or an equally rough and robust debate at the state level, will never come. Americans are not very good at negotiating and so usually pay more at the car dealer than they should. The same problems plagues us on much more serious issues regarding abortion and the Second Amendment and that ends up costing us a lot more.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Some New Still Shots

    April 21, 2022 // Comments Off on Some New Still Shots

    Courtesy of the Reason Foundation, and the Soho Debate Forum in New York.





    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Olympic Drinking Game Fun

    February 13, 2022 // 3 Comments »

    The thing I am looking forward to the least right now is more Olympics, and I have a colonoscopy scheduled. The only answer is a drinking game.

    So enough with “politics by sportscasters for those who only care about politics every four years.” I threw away my Mao (and Che) T-shirt sophomore year. We all know Beijing is not a democratic regime. So for some sort of balance, can we agree for every hundred references to the Uyghurs, Tibet, and Hong Kong, how about one reference to where and how Covid all began? Or will the MSM continue their coverage détente? Bottoms up for every reference to bats, pangolins, and Chinese wet markets.

    Speaking of Covid, a drink every time announcers insist China’s Covid crackdown is autocratic draconianism while ignoring much of the same was done in America. A drink for every explanation China’s Covid  autocratic draconianism crackdown is actually keeping the athletes safe, except when it makes China look bad, such as in the case of Belgian Kim Meylemans, who arrived in Beijing positive and was sent to a hotel for three days of isolation. When she was not released to the Olympic Village, she went on social media and cried enough that she was then sent to the Village, where she lives in a single room and eats alone, raising the question of why any of this is happening at all. Somehow despite the pandemic canceling schools, jobs, travel, supply lines, and lives, we’ve had two Olympics in the last six months.

    I’ve got $20 on the table in front of me betting someone will later claim the Chinese manipulated the quarantine system to favor their own athletes, and eliminate the competition in crucial matchups, the way the Bulgarian judges always seemed to give U.S. athletes low scores turning the Cold War.

    A drink if we ever hear again from U.S. bobsledder Kaillie Humphries, who whined of all the unknowns surrounding the aftermath of positive tests “It’s so confusing. It’s very frustrating. It’s scary” after no doubt being tested a zillion times in the last year so she could live in America. Humphries tested positive and is staying in a hotel isolated from everyone except her bobsled partner, who had to sign a waiver. The whole U.S. bobsled team is a mess, with multiple athletes testing positive, and others demanding to replace them and calling in the Court of Arbitration for Sport to basically sue to be added to the field.

    Actually, new rule, just drink as much as you want anytime Covid is mentioned during the Olympics.

    There is no value to hearing a twenty-something whose greatest achievement is skating in circles fast offer up her opinions on world events like this was the Oscars. Have a drink the first time you hear someone from Team USA say “As a…” (Latinx, first something, gay man, etc.) Of course the award for the least effective political statement of the Olympic Games goes to Joe Biden and his “diplomatic boycott.” Nothing sends a stronger signal than for the Chinese not see Kamala Harris in the stands.

    Things have gotten so annoying I find myself agreeing with the Chinese government’s ruling athletes are not allowed to make political statements. The New York Times reports “China’s Communist Party has also warned that athletes are subject not only to Olympic rules, but also to Chinese law. The warnings have had… a chilling effect on dissent inside and outside the Olympic bubble.” There is no medal for dissent. They’re athletes, not spokespeople. Take a drink right now because the NYT misses the point.

    Have a drink every time someone gets emotional talking about American skater Timothy LeDuc, who has already claimed the title of first openly nonbinary Winter Games athlete, a surprise considering nonbinary status is self-proclaimed and why didn’t anyone think of doing that earlier? LeDuc skates as the male in the male-female pair event. He says he and his partner ditched the romantic tropes that dominate pairs skating to focus on personal empowerment in their routines. Have a drink if you understand that.

    In fact, enough with all the sexuality. That is so 1980s. Gay people of all flavors have been winning and losing since the Greeks invented the Olympics. Same for women and trans people; each sporting victory does not really mean something significant in the advancement of human rights. Everything does not always need to be about social engineering all the time. Each reference equals a drink.

    If Chloe Kim or any other American quits or blames a poor performance on all the pressure, drink. Heavily.

    Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka won’t be at the Games. Have a drink.

    Any mention of global climate change and China making artificial snow for the Games, throw your drink at the TV.

    Free-drinking is allowed during any mini-documentaries about all the adversity an athlete had to overcome. Does the U.S. Olympic Committee screen for misery as part of the selection process? Double-shots every time someone says she snowboards to honor her abuelita. Same for every omission from the biography of how mommy and daddy forced their child to hyper-train into an ubermensch, messing with her growth, and sacrificing her childhood to their show pony dreams. After the tenth utterance of “my journey” or “giving back” finish the bottle and throw it at the screen.

    Like in every Olympics some kind of Jesse Owens comparison must be found. The most likely choice will be Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis player who largely disappeared from social media after making sexual abuse accusations against a political official. It doesn’t matter that Peng is not even competing in these winter games. Drink every time her name is mentioned.

    The least likely candidate for the Jesse Owens comparison is “American” Eileen Gu. Gu, an 18-year-old born and raised in San Francisco with an American father, decided to compete for China based on mom (who has lived outside of China for the last 30 years) being born there. Gu has millions of dollars in sponsorships inside China, showing the world what the true Olympic spirit looks like in 2022. Every time someone not Chinese tries to justify Gu’s choice, take a drink. For any mentions of heritage, roots, or representation, make it a double. If she falls and fails to medal, stop drinking and switch to heroin as a reward.

    The Winter Olympics runs until February 20. Cheers.


    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    What are We Losing our Sh*t About This Week?

    July 2, 2019 // 12 Comments »

    What are we losing our sh*t about this week?

    — Trump tried to make peace with North Korea;

    — Ivanka is a living version of Pokemon Go and thus destroying the global liberal system;

    — The goddamn stock market continues to do well dammit;

    — Busing from the 1970s;

    — Whatever AOC tells us to be upset about (currently concentration summer campers or something);

    — A really important hashtag;

    — The president is going to participate in July 4 stuff with tanks;

    — The U.S. census may undercount the number of illegal aliens represented by Democrats;

    — A typo in one of Trump’s tweets;

    — Betsy Ross flag on sneakers means another 250 years of slavery for Nike child workers;

    — Old VHS tape found in the closet was not rewound, no way to fix that now.

    BONUS FUN! Elephants eat vegetation, have legs, and breathe air. So do grasshoppers. There are so many similarities!

    But elephants are not grasshoppers. The differences matter. So stop sounding ridiculous claiming a military-themed July 4th event and detention camps as we’ve had for multiple administrations mean we are at the same threshold as the Germans in 1933.


    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Top Five Havana, Cuba Travel Tips

    July 14, 2017 // 12 Comments »

    Though the rules governing travel to Cuba by Americans are expected to tighten back up this fall, that shouldn’t stop you from traveling there. I just got back from Havana, and the place is well-worth what little extra effort it takes to get there. Here are a few things I learned that will help your trip…

    1) You can’t use U.S. credit or ATM cards. You have to bring cash.

    You really do. I know that one blog said you could use your U.S. debit card, and your friend’s cousin’s old boyfriend claims he hit up ATMs across the island, but because of the American government’s six decade long economic embargo on Cuba, U.S. folks cannot do any business electronically. Your credit cards and ATM cards will not work. Nope. No way. Most everyone else, no worries, ATMs are available, at least in bigger cities. But as an American you have to arrive in Cuba with the money you will spend, in your pocket, in cash. You simply cannot access your money at home (maybe via Western Union if mommy will wire you) from Cuba. Scour the web for prices for your style of travel, add some extra for extras, and roll up to Cuba with a (literal) bankroll.

    2) Changing money (CUC versus CUP)

    With the exception of at the few duty free shops available at the airport as you exit Cuba, all tanned and happy, everything you buy will be bought in one of the two local currencies. So you’ll have to change your foreign money. U.S. dollars (alone) are penalized for the exchange (it’s all politics, friends) at 10%, so it is better to get Euros, Canadian dollars or even Yen outside Cuba, and then exchange those.

    It is relatively quick and easy to change money at the airport upon arrival. You already have your passport with you, and the workers there are used to the whole messy process even though you may not be. Change what you think you’ll need for the whole trip at once. Otherwise, once in town, changing money means either a lower rate at the big hotels that may help you, or a typically long wait at a local bank where clerks seem to draw mysterious strength from working s-l-o-w-ly and enjoying watching you burn away your vacation hours in their lobby.

    There are two currencies circulating, convertible pesos (known as CUC) and “local” money (known as CUP.) Do some Googling on the difference. The short answer is CUC is used nearly anywhere you’ll be as a tourist, is desired by local people as a tip or payment, and is what you will receive anyway when you exchange foreign currency. The coolest part about the local money, the CUP, is the three peso note has Che’s picture on it, a great souvenir. You can change any leftover CUC — but not CUP — back into foreign currency when you depart Cuba.

    3) Taxis and negotiations

    A lot of things in Cuba are negotiable, none more than taxis. For practical, casual, tourist purposes, there is no such thing as public transportation. You’ll travel around by taxi. They have no meters. Taxi drivers have been doing this longer than you have.

    So research a bit and get a general idea of what prices are from the airport into old Havana, or from Vedado (a popular AirBnB location) into town. For the latter, we paid at times US$5 and US$20 for the same trip. Nicer cars, time of day, negotiating skills, official taxi or not, and maybe just luck all affected price. If you are a group, make sure the price you settle on (and settle before you get in the cab!) is for the whole group. Some unscrupulous drivers will offer a group of say four a low price, only to demand x4 that price upon arrival. Negotiations are soft-style, a smile, a little sigh, a lower number, another smile, that kind of thing. You’re not Liam Neeson trying to get his daughter back, you’re on vacation.

    4) Spanish words, every one helps

    Speaking of negotiations, every word you know in Spanish will improve your trip to Cuba. English is not widely spoken, and in most cases you will have a better/easier/smoother/more culturally mindful time if you can tell drivers your destination in Spanish, and settle a bill in Spanish. So go, right now I’ll wait, and write down the Spanish words for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25… and so on. Know the street address of where you’re staying in Spanish, and thrown in an hour of review online somewhere for a few handy phrases. It’ll all pay off. Tourists who already can communicate well in Spanish are in for a real treat because…

    5) Hit the Beach (Playa de Este)

    …because the Cuban people I met were uniformly friendly, warm, and interested in chatting. We were held back only when language walls were reached. Not everyone was willing to talk politics, but if you want to, so do some others. Local baseball fans seem well-informed about what was happening in the U.S., and young people have reasonable access to the web and are aware of music and fashion trends, at least in Miami and the Bronx.

    One can’t miss way to mingle is to hit the beach. About 30 minutes’ taxi ride outside of Havana is the Playa de Este area, a string of great beaches. Pick one (we liked Santa Maria), go on a Sunday, and it will be mostly Cubans of all types. Go on a dull Monday afternoon, and there still will be plenty of local people. Everyone is in a good mood, beer and rum may be involved, and it was easy to strike up a conversation. The beach trip also gives a short-term visitor a (albeit) brief glimpse outside the city itself.

    You can also easily find people to talk with at Havana’s outdoor WiFi spots, as well as the usual places like bars, cafes, restaurants and the like.


    Otherwise, I encountered no crime, and never felt threatened or afraid. Drink bottled water. Wear good walking shoes, and sunscreen like it’s the tropics because it is. Bring pocket tissues as some public toilets don’t have toilet paper. Enjoy the fact that there are no fast food places cluttering up the streets.

    And say hello for me to the Cuban people. I already miss being in their company.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    It’s Father’s Day, Call Your Dad

    June 21, 2015 // 3 Comments »


    You called your dad, right?

    As a public service to those waking up late, call your Dad. Some tips:

    — Don’t let him pass the phone to mom for at least 60 seconds;

    — You may only discuss the weather for 20 of those seconds. If you have recently experienced a hurricane or major earthquake, you can take 45 seconds. If Dad recently experienced a hurricane or major earthquake, you get 20 seconds on “weather” and then you have to roll the rest into the “So, really, how’s it going?”

    — You must listen to his health update as long as he wants to run with it. It’s Father’s Day, so sack up buddy, and hear all about that hemorrhoid the size of a Polish sausage, how he can’t pee anymore, or how Mom is making him eat yoghurt and “whatever the f*ck kale is” for his bowel thing.

    — You must listen to at least one “When I was your age…” story. You are, however, permitted to steer this toward safe-topics like bands he listened to that were better than the crap you listen to, sports team franchises that no longer exist, or, if you are lucky, stuff about his girlfriends before Mom as long as he keeps it clean. Dad!

    — Somewhere in the conversation you must mention one or two details of your own life. Actual details, not just “Yeah, work is OK.” This is an easy one. Complain about your boss. Something about computers not working. If you are unemployed or after Dad paid for four years of undergrad so you could study English your job is working fast food, best to make something up. It’s Father’s Day, after all, save him the coronary until another week.

    — Tolerate, just this once, any old-timey racist or sexist remarks, or jokes. He means well. He grew up in a different time and era. He doesn’t yet know about your new life partner of a different race or the same sex. Mom is sort of waiting for the right moment on that to tell him, such as maybe never in hopes you see the light and break up before Dad finds out.

    — Practice in the mirror: “Sure, put Mom on the phone. We should talk more.”

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Help Wanted: Saudi Arabia Advertises for New Executioners as Beheading Rate Soars

    June 18, 2015 // 8 Comments »


    Saudi Arabia, one of America’s bestest friends in the fight against extremists like IS who behead people, was ranked third in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, of all countries in numbers of executed people, according to Amnesty International.

    The neat thing is that while the U.S. is at war with IS, screeching about how they behead, the Saudi’s just keep sending people into really fair Sharia courts and then whacking away as the U.S. sits silent.

    Now, Saudi Arabia is advertising for eight new executioners, recruiting extra staff to carry out an increasing number of death sentences, usually done by public beheading. Authorities have not said why the number of executions increased so rapidly, but diplomats have speculated it may be because more judges have been appointed, allowing a backlog of appeal cases to be heard.

    No special qualifications are needed for the executioner job, whose main role is “executing a judgment of death” but also involve performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences. The work seems to require some physical labor, is done outside and it looks like you have to buy your own sword.

    The job announcement was posted in Arabic on a Saudi civil service jobs portal. It is open to Saudi citizens only. You begin the application process with a downloadable pdf application form for the executioner jobs. The jobs apparently are classified as “religious functionaries” and start at the lower end of the civil service pay scale.

    Still, while the take home pay may be low, you just can’t beat this kind of thing for job satisfaction. Find something you love to do, and it’ll never be work.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    The Ritual of Moving Out of the Dorm — With No Long Speeches

    June 6, 2015 // 7 Comments »

    This time of year everybody talks about the ritual of college graduation. But no one seems to focus on the other college right of passage that’s unfolding now, the move out of the dorm and back home for the summer.

    Perhaps the dorm thing gets less attention because it happens more than once; three or four times (we hope not too many more times) for most traditional students. But humping boxes and suitcases out of my daughter’s dormitory like I’m a roadie for KISS had as much to say about college, life, and parenting as any commencement. And without the long speeches.

    Making sense out of moving-out of the dorm only makes sense in the context of moving-in to the dorm. That far back in history, everything was folded neatly, socks were in pairs and kitchen supplies still smelled of Walmart. Roommates were all friends-for-life to be, full of fun comments about how much the same/how different everyone looked from the Facebook profiles that had been stalked mercilessly all summer. Empty notebooks, clean dorm rooms, all that hope and promise ahead stuff.

    We parents moved-in heavy things, and exchanged friendly chat about how all that could fit into a dorm room, about how we were all sure the girls would become friends-for-life, and said “Oh, this is nice” in a tone of voice we hoped sounded credible in reference to the bathroom. With our kids, quiet words about some silly thing from their childhood we just recalled were exchanged even as they turned to ignore us after some kid stuck his head in to announce a crucial floor meeting, and a tear or two (ours exclusively) marked our being shushed out the door. There seemed to have been so much to talk about on the way up here. It was a long trip home with my spouse to have suddenly not a word to say.

    And now nine months later we were back.

    If any packing had preceded our arrival, it consisted of tangled clothes, some still damp from the gym, stuffed into suitcases. New things – clothes we hadn’t bought her ourselves, including a very adult black dress – made an appearance. A fresh coat of grime had been applied to the tub. What one hoped was part of that hard-won A- in Advanced Biology we’d heard about was left in the refrigerator. No, we didn’t need to take the Tupperware home, thanks.

    The friends-for-life roommates had turned out to be people, with all the good things and bad things people bring along into dorm rooms. Some goodbyes seemed to mean more than others. We parents watched awkwardly; we had heard it all, or at least a very, very one-sided version of it all, from our kids. Parental eyes did not meet. The tales I heard about so-and-so and her acrobatic boyfriend might have had twin sister versions that involved my own kid. It was better to simply ask the other dads about traffic on the way up, until –

    Damn, I just saw her not too long ago for a visit, and we had two weeks together at Christmas, but what happened to my daughter? The kid who needed to be pushed and shoved a year or so ago to finish a university admissions essay that tragically failed to tie together the symbolism of the river in Mark Twain and some boring summer job now wants to talk about the Cold War mistakes of the Truman administration (cool) and 19th century French poetry (I just nod.)

    We’ll all be together for the summer, but only the parental side of the equation can see the clock running. There used to be a lot more summers. Now there are just a couple more dorm move-ins and move-outs to watch as time runs away. One of those moves will mark commencement, and that’ll be an emotional day of its own. But everybody knows commencement is a big deal. My worry is it is too easy to miss the three years of early warnings signs that precede it.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Chuck Norris Campaigns for Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu

    March 17, 2015 // 5 Comments »


    …But before we get to that, here are a couple of favorite Chuck Norris jokes:

    Chuck Norris can light a fire by rubbing two ice-cubes together. Chuck Norris doesn’t flush the toilet, he scares the poop out of it. Death once had a near-Chuck Norris experience. Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door. There is no theory of evolution, just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live. Chuck Norris does not cough, nothing escapes Chuck Norris.

    OK, back to what passes for reality. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is struggling in his effort to win a fourth term in this week’s elections (still held in Israel.) His recent stunt — traveling to the U.S. on a Republican invitation to insult Obama in front of Congress — came off as way more pathetic Sarah Palin than crusty John McCain. So desperate times call for desperate measures.

    How desperate? Former Walker, Texas Ranger star and human action figure (with the brains to match) Chuck Norris made a last-minute video to boost the endangered premier. See the video below.

    “I watched Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before Congress, and I saw a man who loves his country with all his heart and soul,” Norris says in the video. “I have done three movies in Israel, Delta Force being my favorite, and I formed many friendships while there. You have an incredible country, and we want to keep it that way.”

    Well, that certainly is convincing. Because what could a Netanyahu campaign need more of at this critical stage than a washed-up B-movie American actor speaking directly to the electorate in a monotone at a slow enough pace that you wonder if the United States ran out of coffee?

    BONUS: It was the philosopher Voltaire who said “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Diplomatic Security Warns on Shooting: “May be subject to Discovery”

    November 8, 2011 // Comments Off on Diplomatic Security Warns on Shooting: “May be subject to Discovery”

    Following the gunning down of a man in Hawaii by an off-duty State Department Diplomatic Security (DS) special agent bully-boy, the director of Diplomatic Security, Scott P. Bultrowicz, sent this message to his entire DS staff, several of whom immediately leaked it (thanks, please stop sending additional copies, and emphasis added):

    Dear Colleagues,

    I regret that my initial message to the organization is about the tragic incident involving Special Agent Christopher Deedy early Saturday morning in Honolulu. Many of you know that Agent Deedy was involved in an altercation that ended in the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old local man. The story has been widely reported.

    I am not at liberty to discuss the investigation. However, I want to let everyone know that DS has been in communication with the Honolulu authorities from the time we were first notified about the shooting. We will do what we can to ensure Agent Deedy’s well-being, and have already provided assistance to his family. We also are mindful of the terrible loss suffered by the deceased’s family and friends.

    I remind everyone that there is an ongoing investigation of this matter by the Honolulu Police Department. Discussion about what happened in Honolulu, Agent Deedy’s state of mind, and/or whether his actions were justified should be limited to the agents investigating the matter.

    Also, please keep in mind that communications over the internet that are publicly available (such as blogs, tweets, and bulletin boards) and are on matters of official concern (which this case is) must be reviewed by the Department. Additionally, all written communications, on either government or private accounts, may be subject to discovery in legal proceedings relating to this incident.

    I look forward to communicating with you on other matters throughout my tenure. Please do not reply to this message.

    Takeaway message:

    When in doubt, begin the cover up immediately. Remind everyone everything they write is gonna end up in court.

    Still no word about whether Agent Deedy’s security clearance has been suspended or not.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Uncategorized