Sunday, December 31, 2006
If you drink, please do not drive. And if you drive, please do not drink. Most of all, if you do go out, drive safely and watch out for those that do not heed this warning.
(I will be back to regular posting soon. Thanks for all of your patience.)
So, with some apprehension, I have started a new blog that can and will deal with such topics and have named it The Psychological/Philosophical Theology Of God. It will primarily be written from a Judeo-Christian perspective, but anyone from any faith (or those without a faith) is welcome to comment. Please read the opening post for the specific objectives and ground rules for commenting.
As always, thanks for reading.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Well he did. And he posted it on my previous Light Blog Alert post. (And it comes at a time where I am down for holiday visits and activities.) As a result, I want to to highlight it and open the discussion by giving it a full post for any and all that care to reply. So, without further rambling from me, here it is, in its entirety:
KNOWING THE ENEMY
Can social scientists redefine the 'war on terror'?" by George Packer, The New Yorker, December 18.
An important and insightful article relevant to some discussions we have had here at PYY. It points to the fundamental shortcoming or fallacy of the current rhetoric and policies. The basic question tackled is, how you conduct a successful counterinsurgency operation on a global scale. And the simple answer is, you first define the enemy as narrowly as possible. This naturally means "enemies" of various stripes with mundane fears and concerns rather than an "enemy" animated by a grand ideology; people are not pushed to insurgency by ideology, but rather pulled into it by social ties (family, friends, associates). You then engage each "enemy" group separately. Here engagement is to be understood expansively: it is quite different than making "nice" with 'em. It is sometimes that, but more often, it is about showing to the target populace that they can gain by cooperating with you and lose by doing the opposite. And, some elements among the "enemy" ranks are going to be too hardened and beyond reach, and they are to be defeated by all means but with caution not to create more enemies.
All this essentially suggests an information war superstructure overriding or guiding wars that may be fought using bullets and missiles, and PYY readers may ask "what's new here?" Well, maybe nothing; it sound pretty much like common sense. But, despite my deliberately generic summary above, the article does name names, steps on toes if you will (in a non-partisan way, mind you), and draws from concrete historical examples. For example, it starts off with a comparison of two counterinsurgency operations in Indonesia: the first one is little known but successfully fought in the fifties against a Muslim Darul Islam insurgency in West Java; and the second is the unsuccessful campaign against the Christian insurgency in East Timor. Also, the whole cold war saga and lessons from it are not forgotten in the article. At one point, the article points to a possible likening of Bush to Truman, who was reviled towards the end of his term but was later vindicated by history. But, it also likens Bush's uplifting speeches for freedom and democracy against forces of dark and evil to the "last paragraph" of Churchill's speeches. Whereas the latter's last paragraph was preceded by 19 pages of substance, the former's speeches lack such substantiation.
Also argued is the fact that the mindset is starting to change in the US administration along the lines discussed in the article (in the State and Defense Departments, if not yet in the White House). In the end, someone is quoted as comparing our situation vis-a-vis the global terror threat today to where our comprehension of the cold war was back in 1953. So, what lies ahead is a long, long struggle, which is in apparent contradiction by the impatience prevalent in the society today, says the article.
May make a good New Year's eve reading? No?
Happy New Year to all.
Monday, December 25, 2006
But, a lot is still going on here and activity surrounds me like a a swarm of bees. So as a result, it will be hit and miss for the next few days. I hope to be back full speed soon and hope you will be here, when that happens.
Until then, thanks for reading.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
In response to Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong's decision Friday to drop charges of rape in the Duke lacrosse case, President Richard Brodhead questioned Nifong's conduct and called for the district attorney to relieve himself of his duties in the case.
Most reasonably decent people have already questioned the conduct of Mr. Nifong and called for his recusal. The question in this case is: Why has it taken so long for the Duke President to say something?
But I will take it one step further.
Any president of a major university, like Duke, has a lot of clout in the community. Why isn't he calling for the removal of Mr. Nifong, from office?
Thursday, December 21, 2006
So, politics, culture, sports, or whatever are all fair game here. Pick a topic and go to it.
As always, thanks for reading PYY.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Here is an appalling and disturbing occurrence being reported by Haaretz.
A woman who reported a vicious attack by an ad-hoc "modesty patrol" on a Jerusalem bus last month is now lining up support for her case and may be included in a petition to the High Court of Justice over the legality of sex-segregated buses.
Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City early on November 24 when a group of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus. She is now in touch with several legal advocacy and women's organizations, and at the same time, waiting for the police to apprehend her attackers.
Here at PYY, the nation of Israel is given a very fair shake. When others have unfairly criticized it, denigrated it, and attacked it, I have been one to condemn the perpetrators. I am a friend to Israel. But this kind of right-wing hatred cannot be condoned, nor tolerated. If this story is accurate and this did occur in a manner consistent with her version of events, this needs to be stopped.
A society cannot condemn those that engage in genital mutation, the harsh subjugation of women, and other atrocities, and yet allow this kind of action to go unpunished. More importantly, how is that in 21st century Israel that there are social mores that dictate women are second-class citizens to men?
Not only are women's fundamental rights being violated, take a look further in the article:
Throughout the encounter, Shear says the bus driver "did nothing." The other passengers, she says, blamed her for not moving to the back of the bus and called her a "stupid American with no sechel [common sense.] People blamed me for not knowing my place and not going to the back of the bus where I belong."
Now, I could write a whole post about how America has been there for Israel, since 1948. But let me just say that not only do we stand with them in numerous political and military affairs, a lot of tourist revenue comes from Americans. We spend a lot money there. We buy things, we take tours, stay in hotels, eat, and you know, all of the usual things that aren't cheap. If an American is going to be treated like a second-class citizen, he/she may, very well, decide not to visit. He/she may take their money elsewhere.
First, visitors must endure the usual threat of terrorist violence when touring the Holy Land. And now, there is the prospect that they may have deal with a bunch of angry reactionary thugs that believe they are better than others. If I were the government, I'd be putting a stop to this, and fast. And the first thing I'd do is, catch and prosecute these guys to the fullest extent of the law.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games Monday and six other players were penalized as commissioner David Stern came down hard on both teams after the Nuggets and Knicks brawled at Madison Square Garden.
But fighting in the NBA isn't new. Remember the Pacer/Pistons brawl that spilled over into the stands after a fan threw a cup of beer at Ron Artest? David Stern, at that time, thought he was sending a message, then. But apparently all of it was for nought, because these high-paid millionaire thugs on both the Knicks and the Nuggets either do not remember, or they plainly do not care.
At first glance, one may be inclined to think that these are two entirely different events that occurred, under an entirely different set of circumstances. If you are one of those people, you may be partly right, but you may partly wrong too.
So, let's take a closer look at a commonality between both of these displays of extra-curricular pugilism. The key player that was involved in the Pacers fight, was Ron Artest. Artest was brought into the Pacers organization by Isiah Thomas, who just happens to be the Knicks coach now. And although the Thomas did not coach the Pacers at the time of the now famous brawl, Thomas was one of the most influential basketball mentors in Artest's life, up to the point he was fired by Larry Bird, the year before the brawl.
Fast forward to now. Thomas is both the president and coach of the NY Knicks and it seems a bit odd that this kind of behavior has occurred again, with some kind of fingerprint, leading to him.
There are many that are carefully scrutinizing as to whether or not, Isiah may have been indirectly if not directly responsible for this fight. Here is a sports commentary piece entitled Bad Apples .
Isiah Thomas isn't the only one in the wrong here. But his postgame press conference performance was the most disappointing, if telling, of them all. He blamed Denver's perceived running up of the score, complete with a highlight reel dunk, as simply too much for his humble guys to handle.
Here, Coach Thomas is doing what is so pervasive in our society today, he is blaming someone else for the problem.
"Up 19 with a minute and a half to go, (Carmelo Anthony) and (Marcus) Camby really shouldn't be in the game," Thomas said. "We had surrendered. (Those)guys shouldn't even be in the game at that point."
Because the other team was smoking them in their own arena. Does he expect reasonable people to buy this, as a valid excuse for a hard foul that was certain to provoke something? To quote Dr. Phil, "let's get real here".
If that is not enough to illustrate my claim, try this:
The NBA is investigating whether Isiah Thomas, the president and coach of the New York Knicks, ordered a hard foul that touched off a brawl with the Denver Nuggets Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, several people involved in the investigation said Sunday.
The Nuggets, according to those people, are pointing to an exchange between Thomas and Carmelo Anthony --part of which was captured by the MSG Network -- that seemed to convey a threat. None of the people who spoke about the exchange wanted to be identified, because the investigation was ongoing.
Now, let's go further into the article.
There is no audio of Thomas, but he appears to say: "Hey, don't go to the basket right now. It wouldn't be nice." Seconds later, Thomas cocks his head, holds out his right palm and, with a slight smile, adds, "Just letting you know."
Calvin Andrews, Anthony's agent, confirmed Sunday night that Thomas had told Anthony to stay away from the area under the basket. Andrews indicated that Anthony gave that account to NBA officials earlier Sunday. Thomas also spoke to league officials.
So, absent any solid proof that a threat was issued, this is murky at best. But it still raises some serious concerns about Isiah Thomas's approach to basketball.
As a member of the team in the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boy" days, he was not the most hostile player, as a rule. One usually thinks of Dennis Rodman and Bill Lambeer, when that team's image is discussed. But overall, there appears to be a certain philosophy that is manifesting itself, as Thomas molds young impressionable players. Rewind back to a statement made by Artest, when he was with the Pacers. In a ten-second sound bite that was played over and over, Artest stated that (at the time of the interview) the Pacers were "the bad boys".
In all of the suspensions handed down in this melee, one was conspiciously missing. Thomas, in my view, should be sat down and fined. He is the leader, he has to assume some control of his young and easily influenced team. Yet, he didn't. He jawed with Anthony prior to the whole debacle unfolding and then blamed George Karl for leaving his starters out there, to finish the game.
Maybe Karl was trying to pay back Thomas for firing his good friend Larry Brown, by giving them an old fashioned whooping. But even if true, he was doing it on the court. He wasn't instructing his players to take out his frustrations on the Knicks' players. To do that would have been a blatant case, of misdirected anger.
But Thomas? Well, it's fairly obvious that he wasn't too worried about his misdirected anger, as is evidenced by his misdirected blame placing. The bad boy image in the NBA is a cancer and Thomas is a catalyst. This is one very good reason I shall submit, as to why I have not watched any NBA games yet this year. And at the rate this is going, I may not watch one damned game.
Monday, December 18, 2006
From everything I am hearing and reading, it looks like this was caused by the norovirus, also known as the "cruise ship virus". One lady I know ate there a week ago, fell ill within a day or so, and then proceded to pass it on to her entire family, who did not eat there.
By virtue of this bit of information alone, it would appear that this was not e-coli, which is contagious if it is ingested. It is very likely that this was generated by a sick employee, who passed it on to other employees that all came to work sick (and then passed it on to the customers).
Tests are still pending. But from my experience, it sure sounds like this is the case. And if this turns out to be the case, I have this piece of advice to everyone as the flu season is getting underway:
If you are sick, stay at home. Do not come to work, do not give it to me, or I will contact a voodoo specialist and contract with him/her to cast a spell on you, that will include a horrible rash.
Health Department officals have confirmed that it was the norovirus.
One brief shining example is the President of Iran. Take a look at this:
No country in the world looks upon America as a friend. When the U.S. name is mentioned, usually people are reminded of war, aggression and bloodshed, and that's not a good thing.
Is that why so many people are trying to get into the U.S.? I mean, let's look at this thing honestly and clearly, here. Other countries want our money, people from those same countries want in here. The ones that are want to harm the U.S. are the only ones that don't like us regardless of what we do (or don't do). They are the ones that are openly supporting and actively promoting hostility against us.
And from where I sit, Iran is one of those countries.
But I suspect there's more to all of this. Polls may show there's a rift between Arabs and the U.S., and spinmeisters can tie it to Iraq to their hearts' content. But, I cannot accept the fact that this is the primary reason for this.
They hate our culture. They are still in the Middle Ages, we are not. No matter what we do or don't do, we still are the object of their disdain, as long as we count Israel as a friend. The stark truth is, they hated us well before Iraq was ever thought of.
They teach their children to hate Israel and the U.S., as part of the school curriculum. Don't believe me? Read what Hirsi Ali has to say here. (HT for this one: Booker Rising)
If one speaks and teaches lies enough, it becomes a reality in the people's minds that hear them, regardless of the facts that demonstrate otherwise.
Now, I fully understand that many of my readers aren't into the NFL. Many are French (or from some other Euro country), but I suspect that many are Americans that just do not like sports, as well. So now that I have eliminated the vast majority of my readers in one swoop, here is something that I will try to do for the 3-4 that do like it.
I didn't get to watch much today, but caught a glance of the Bears vs. Bucs, as well as Philly and NYG. But after seing some scores and some highlights, I can honestly say that the elite teams in the league are the ones playing well now, not the ones that started out of the gate fast.
Here is a list of those that are playing good now and could make some noise in the playoffs:
These guys have won 5 in a row. They beat a good Jacksonville team today, with defense (3 defensive TDs). They are proving that they can get on a run, by getting on a run. Their defense is proving they can get the job done, even when Vince Young has a so-so/all out bad day. I see these guys as dangerous and wouldn't take them lightly if they pull one out of their hat and make the playoffs, after such a dismal start.
New England Patriots
The Pats have been too inconsistent, to effectively gauge how they will do in the playoffs. Yet, there's the TBF (Tom Brady Factor). Experience helps them in most positions, they always have a way of turning it up a notch, when they need to. They have not had all of the attention that other teams have had, early on. Radar had not tracked them. But they definitely could sneak up on some teams and send them home earlier than expected. Whether they will or not, is another story.
The Colts got the attention early, Baltimore plugged along and won, under the radar. They have certainly had a better than expected year.
Defense is always a focal point with the Ravens and they have looked pretty good at times. Can they make a run? I'd say, "possibly". If Steve McNair can be efficient and put just enough points up, they could be one to watch. Ray Lewis will have the defense ready. Question is, "will McNair have enough oomph to get the wins?"
Cincy is cooking right now, too. They have won 4 in a row. They have a test tomorrow night, in the RCA Dome. How they handle Indy on the road will be the test to see if they belong in the elites.
If they beat the Colts, they stay two games behind the Ravens for the division. Thta will be tough. The Bengals will have to win out and the Ravs will have to lose out. That's a tall order, but it's not out of the question that if they win 2 of the last three they would likely win a wild card spot.
They started out good, then had their slippage in the middle. But now they appear to be turning it up, at the finish. Pittsburgh did it last year, and did it by winning on the road.
The once hot and mighty Colts have cooled and weakened, as they traditionally do this time of year.
Many teams have legitimate shots at winning with great defenses and efficient offenses. But Indy has a great offense, with a merely efficient defense. And to top it all of, their defense has been hit with a lot of injuries, both early on and of late.
Tony Dungy has gotten a lot from these guys, it's not easy when your job is to get the ball back for Peyton. But in the NFL, it has to be done by stopping the run and forcing the opposing team to punt, once in a while (and they can't seem to get that done). They cannot win a title that way.
San Diego Chargers
What can I say? Seven in a row. They have a premier RB in LaDanian Tomlinson. He definitely takes a lot of pressure off of a talented, young QB. Plus they have a pretty hard hitting defense that can stop the run. They held KC to 90 yards, for the whole game. Larry Johnson only got 84. Contrast that with SD's 265 on the ground, with LT's share, 199.
They are clearly the team to beat in the AFC, maybe even the league, at least until someone else says they are not. They may drop one between now and the end of the playoffs, but they still should get the number one seed. They may win it all, if Marty lets them play. I must say, I was shocked to see a fake punt by him so early in the game.
After getting a run, they shot themselves in the foot last week against New Orleans. But they bounced back this week. They may have lost at the right time (to get that long streak monkey off of their backs), but they picked it back up. Parcells has these guys playing pretty much up their potential. The question is, will that be good enough.
The NFC is a bit weaker than the AFC, but someone will come to the big dance from the NFC, anyway. I say these guys have a legitimate shot at being in the Super Bowl.
New Orleans Saints
Whooped the Cowboys in Texas Stadium. They can play, but looked on the poorer side of mediocre today. They will have to eliminate some mistakes and not have let-down weeks after big wins. You cannot get a big head because you beat a team that was on a roll, you have to act like you were expected to win that game; then you have to re-focus on the upcoming game like they are standing between you, and where you want to go.
You have to look and act like serious contenders to send a message to all that may future opponents that may face you in the playoffs. You have to plant that seed of anxiety in their minds, by following up wins with wins. The Saints failed to get that done, today. Now, many see them as vulnerable. So do I.
They have managed to pull some close ones out. They have tried to give away games, only to pull them out. (Like today, for instance. They stopped playing in the 4th quarter)
But, they are the number one seed in a mediocre conference. Whether they win pretty or ugly, they've managed to lose only two games this year, so far. I think they can make it to the NFC Championship, but if they have to play the Cowboys, I think they will lose.
If I had to choose today, I'd pick Dallas and San Diego, in the Bowl. But as always is the case around here, everything is always subject to change.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
The head of a private DNA laboratory said under oath today that he and District Attorney Mike Nifong agreed not to report DNA results favorable to Duke lacrosse players charged with rape.
You can read the rest if you want. I did, and I have to say that this is looking like these kids are going to have a case for a blatant violation of civil rights. The only reason they have been targeted, is simple. They are from rich and affluent families. I cannot figure out any other possible reason for it. If bias can be shown, these guys may come out pretty rich after their names are cleared.
I usually do not get too nasty in my opinionated critiques of public officals that do bonehead things, like this. You have to admit, even those that do some of the most despicable things in the realm of politics (and otherwise), get some pretty fair breaks here. So forgive me for a moment, because I am about to cast that self-imposed philosophical policy aside, just for this one moment.
From every new turn in this case, I am finding it more and more difficult to ignore the fact that this quite possibly one of the worst district attorneys, I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. And I have read about some real shady dealings involving prosecutors, before. But this one is one of the worst cases I have ever seen.
Why do I say that, you ask?
He has totally ignored any and every red flag imaginable, for the sole purpose of making a name for himself and securing his re-election bid, this past fall. By taking a racially-charged case, using the local black community as political pawns, and not looking at the facts; likewise, he has used these three men as political pawns and taken it one step further by smearing their otherwise good names into the ground. These are young men, whose only crimes appear to be, being from affluent families, playing a sport associated with that status, and getting a stripper (from a highly questionable background) to provide them with some ill-advised, cheap entertainment.
He is the lowest common denominator, I have found in my years of following dumbasses and their idiotic antics. He was sworn to uphold and enforce the law. But for pure political gain, he has violated his sworn oath. So now, it's time for him to be removed from office, have his assets liquidated to pay all three young men (and their families) for unnecessary pain and suffering, and (if there is any way possible) prosecuted.
Friday, December 15, 2006
The Marion County Health Department in cooperation with Olive Garden, has closed a Castleton area restaurant after three people were hospitalized and nearly 300 people said they got sick after eating there.
Complaints continued to pour into the department this afternoon from people who ate at the restaurant from last Saturday through Wednesday. The cause of the sickness has not yet been determined, but health officials said earlier they believe it is a food borne illness.
My daughter used to work at this restaurant. She left because of the management, which was very poor according to her experience. So, in my inherent sarcasm, I'll say that this couldn't happen to a finer group.
But with that said, the illnesses are being investigated and regardless of my personal feeling about this executive crew, I am not sitting in a puddle of glee over this. Because, I could have been at that restaurant. I could have been one of those sickened, as I have eaten there before.
This couldn't come at a worse time from a business point of view. This particular store is right next to a mall and would have counted on this weekend's shoppers for much needed revenue, usually generated at this time of year. And it wouldn't be so bad, if it hadn't come so closely on the heels of the Taco Bell incidents on the east coast, earlier.
But it does raise the question, is anywhere going to be safe to eat?
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union accused Iran on Friday of destabilising the Middle East with its nuclear programme and threats towards Israel, in a significant hardening of the 25-nation bloc's tone towards Tehran.
A tough statement drafted for adoption by EU leaders at a summit also condemned Iran's questioning of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews.
"The European Council expresses its concern about the negative impact of Iranian policies on stability and security in the Middle East," the draft statement said.
Absent from the statement are the usual condemnations and generalized blame-placings directed toward the U.S. and Israel. That is a feat, within itself. But, before we all jump for joy at this new found cathartic epiphany, it is also important to note that this is well past the time, it was due.
Not only that, the EU felt it more important to discuss ways to stall Turkey's entry, first. Putting their collective heads together to come up with a good excuse to delay the process was the lead-in, and should have been the afterthought that this issue was relegated to.
One word comes to mind here, priorities. In my view, political triage has long been a deficiency in European foreign policy. But hey, as late and misplaced on the agenda as it was, we'll take it. "Better late than never", I always say.
NEW YORK (AP) - Ahmet Ertegun, who helped define American music as the founder of Atlantic Records, a label that popularized the gritty R&B of Ray Charles, the classic soul of Aretha Franklin and the British rock of the Rolling Stones, has died, his spokesman said. He was 83.
Many already have an idea how old I am. But for those that don't, I am about to put any uncertainty that may remain, to rest. You see, I am an avid rock and roller, to this very day. I like most any kind of music (with the exception of metal and rap), but rock and roll of any style or genre, is purely my favorite.
Not only did this man's record label carry the Stones, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin, but here are few others, as well:
Led Zeppelin - The band that has influenced more alternative bands than you can shake a grunge at. Bands like Soundgarden are heavy on the early-Zeppelinesque riffs, found in their first three albums.
Genesis - These guys had some staying power, well into the 80s and early 90s. They had two lead-singers that became quite popular in solo careers. Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins (who was also on Atlantic).
Stone Temple Pilots - Popular and very creative band whose lead singer got strung out on heroin. Many of their influences were from Led Zep, as well. Despite the misfortunes placed on it by this guy, Interstate Love Song still gets my rock and roll spirit flying.
Matchbox Twenty - This band was probably the best band to come out of the 90s. Their style is unique, creative, and their musci is very versatile. The CD Yourself or Someone like You was a masterpiece with the song, Real World, as one my all time favorite songs and one of the absolutely best set of lyrics, I have ever heard.
Jet - An Aussie band that really kicks. You cannot be a rock and roll fan and not like Jet. They have a classy but raw style that will get your foot tapping and put a smile on your face, when you hear them. Their song, Are You Gonna Be My Girl, is exceptionally good.
These are just a few of my favorites that were at one time or another on Atlantic records. There are certainly many more, maybe even a few that you might like. But the man that pioneered all of this, is now gone. The record industry has truly lost a great one here. Our thoughts and prayer go out to the family.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota underwent surgery on Wednesday, a source said, after suffering what a doctor called "symptoms of a stroke." The actions prompted concerns about his fellow Democrats' razor-thin majority in the incoming Senate.
While there was no immediate word on the condition of the 59-year-old senator, the source, who is familiar with Johnson's situation, said surgeons sought to remedy an unspecified medical problem.
Surgery is not usually a viable treatment option for a stroke. But, it is for an aneurysm, which can cause the same kind of symptoms if it is located in the brain.
PYY wishes the Senator a speedy recovery and thoroughly condemns all of the political chatter of how this may affect the balance of power in the Senate. It is much too early for that and is very tacky, at the very least.
Senator In Critical Condition
Johnson suffered from bleeding in the brain caused by a congenital arteriovenous malformation, the U.S. Capitol physician said, describing the surgery as succesful.
A cerebral AVM is different from an aneurysm. It presents the same way an aneurysm does, but is a much more difficult problem to fix.
At any rate, CNN is reporting that he did in fact hemorrhage as a result of this. In the case of either an aneurysm or an AVM, surgery can and often does correct this anomaly. But, the fact that he bled does not look good at this point. More complications can and often do arise if there is a bleed. Survival rates drop, when there is a bleed.
Many people have AVMs and never have a problem. But that is of little consolation, for Sen. Johnson. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family, today.
To illustrate why this country is so polarized at this point in our history, one need not look any further than comments at Steve Benen's blog, The Carpet Bagger Report.
(Steve is also the managing editor at the Daou Report, while Mr. Daou is working as Hillary's blog advisor.)
Note my comment (#4) to Steve's post:
It sounds like he has an aneurysm. Very rarely, would a stroke require a surgical intervention. If this is the case, recovery will likely be a long tough process, if he survives.
I am not pleased with how people on both sides of the aisle are already talking about how this affects the balance of power in the Senate. Our first thoughts should be with the Senator’s health and subsequent recovery. We do not elect D’s or R’s, we elect people.
Then note a specific reply (#8) to that comment:
kumbayah, #4, kumbayah.
I was about to ask what world you were living in… then I noticed it’s LA. I slapped my forehead and said “Of Course!”
Just kidding. Your comment was nice. Cute, quaint and totally unrealistic, with just a whiff of self-serving, self-gratifying, indignant self-righteous piety, but nice. Just kidding again. I mean when hundreds of thousands of people are being killed because of which party is in power, we should really focus on the suffering of one man, and ignore the balance in the senate, which is the reason the story has legs in the first place, and why we’re talking about it now. Totally you’re right. Good point.
…OK Now I’m really kidding.
So, the talk of the town in Democratic circles has centered on their fear that they may lose control of the Senate. Very little care and consideration has been given to the fact that a family is grieving and a man is fighting for his life, right now.
Their fear is that they will lose power.
While it is true that this story would not have legs if the balance was not teetering, right now, there is a certain coldness and callousness in people's hearts when it comes to politics. If there wasn't, we would not see comments like I just cited.
So, just where is the self-serving part of my statement? He doesn't say. But with a multitude of implications, he certainly shows who has the more self-serving comment, of the two.
Russia, however, appears to be using heat in the winter time as a means to extort higher prices from its neighbors.
Russia is preparing to cut off natural gas supplies to neighbouring Belarus and Georgia unless the two former Soviet republics agree by the year-end to pay much higher prices in 2007.
I recommend reading the rest of the article. Read it, and see how the mob mentality has made its way to the everyday business affairs of Russia, and how it now includes the way they do business with their neighbors.
Yet, it is the U.S. that is the subject of many speeches of condemnation, not Russia.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
A North Carolina congressman has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong's handling of the Duke lacrosse case.
In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones said Nifong may have engaged in prosecutorial misconduct and violated the civil rights of the three lacrosse players charged with raping an escort service dancer hired to dance at a team party in March.
"May have engaged in prosecutorial misconduct", the article says. May have?
It's quite evident that he has abused his power, for the specific purpose of getting re-elected. Laws may have been broken, policies and precedures certainly appear to have been disregarded. I think that calling it misconduct, may be the understatement of the year.
All I can say is, it's about time that someone looks into this mess and makes a fair determination as to what is going on here. And if it found to be a situation where Mr. Nifong has been less than honest about this case, he needs to be removed from office, prosecuted, and sued. And if it is found that he violated these guys' civil rights, his personal assets need to be liquidated.
Here is another little tidbit that raises the question of prosecutorial misconduct:
DNA Does Not Match Players
No hard evidence, yet Nifong still refuses to drop the charges.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Shell is being forced by the Russian government to hand over its controlling stake in the world's biggest liquefied gas project, provoking fresh fears about the Kremlin's willingness to use the country's growing strength in natural resources as a political weapon.
After months of relentless pressure from Moscow, the Anglo-Dutch company has to cut its stake in the $20bn Sakhalin-2 scheme in the far east of Russia in favour of the state-owned energy group Gazprom.
Come on now, everybody sing it with me:
Back in the US..,
Back in the US..,
Back in the USSR.
First, she looked towards Alcee Hastings who was impeached as a judge. But when that fell through due to much opposition from her own party, she bypassed Ms. Harman again, this time for Silvestre Reyes of Texas. Well now it seems she has picked another dud, because the Honorable Mr. Reyes has flunked a simple test.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
When asked by CQ National Security Editor Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda is one or the other of the two major branches of Islam -- Sunni or Shiite -- Reyes answered "they are probably both," then ventured "Predominantly -- probably Shiite."
That is wrong. Al Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden as a Sunni organization and views Shiites as heretics.
Putting someone that does not have the most basic knowledge of al Qaeda, in an advanced position, in an area as important as intelligence, is ridiculously foolish. Not only are we about to see the Culture Of Corruption II (The sequel), we about to see the Culture Of Incompetence II, as well.
And speaking of corruption, now we see the voters of the 2nd district of Louisiana have voted to re-elect William Jefferson, the man we all saw take the money on national TV.
U.S. Rep. William Jefferson easily defeated his fellow Democratic opponent in Saturday's runoff, despite an ongoing federal bribery investigation.
With 44 percent of the precincts reporting, Jefferson, Louisiana's first black congressman since Reconstruction, led with 61 percent of the vote over state Rep. Karen Carter, who had 39 percent.
And some of you wonder why I am so cynical?
We'll see how Nancy handles, this mess. It's hard to sell yourself as the new sheriff in town, when you have to deal with a clown like this.
The Chinese government is encouraging its citizens to openly discuss the prospect of it becoming a world superpower.
China's Communist Party has a new agenda: It is encouraging people to discuss what it means to be a major world power, and has largely stopped denying that China intends to become one soon.
It's not that new. This has been discussed within the Beijing government, since it took control of Hong Kong. Hong Kong provided Beijing with a shot of instant revenue to jump start its venture into the world of free markets. Once they were able to complete the transfer, they became instant lottery winners.
The sleeping giant is stirring and will be fully awake in a few years. Now would be a good time, for a policy on China. Not later.
Monday, December 11, 2006
But based on what I have read and heard from a variety of sources, I am not so sure about it. To top it off, Iran loves it.
The Iranian government has responded more positively than the Bush Administration has to the Iraq Study Group's proposal for talks between the two. And government sources in Tehran tell TIME that this reflects a sincere and calculated desire among the Iranian leadership for improved relations with Washington.
Death to America the Great Satan, or we want better relations. Which is it? The holocaust never happened or we want better relations with the U.S., which is it?
And why is it necessary to play this game, anyway? Anyone with any understanding of today's realpolitik knows that we have nothing of any value to bargain with.
With all of the bad news comes some good news (well, at least it's promising), out of Iran.
The Arab News reports that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be headed for a setback.
More people are letting their displeasure with the Iranian president be known.
BEIRUT: The center of Beirut was packed Sunday with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, pressing their call for the government to resign in a jubilant mass of protest and carnival.
And inside the prime minister's office, on a hill overlooking that joyful, pulsing crowd, officials acted as though all were normal, though they were having trouble understanding what was happening on the street outside.
"I don't understand what is this great cause that is making them create this tense political mess and stage open- ended demonstrations," Prime Minister Fouad Sinoria said.
Could it be that Pallywood was filming a new propaganda project? I think it's a valid question. We have seen their techniques before. But, what if it's not?
The opposition, led by the militant Islamic group Hezbollah, is continuing to press hard, staging demonstrations that have already proved its ability to mobilize and motivate large crowds, with the sheer numbers alone calling into question the legitimacy of the U.S.- backed government.
They have shown they can take out pretty much whoever they want in Lebanon, by killing them. Very few people are safe. That, in itself, is an intimidating factor. But now they can call mass rallies/street parties to demonstrate for supposedly no good reason?
I guess the world is ready for more bloodshed, because we have all of the signs that the Saudi king was right. We see them, yet we become resigned to the fact that there is nothing that can be done to stop the growth of violent organizations.
Somewhere, somehow, if there is ever to be peace in the Middle East, these people are going to have to choose the path of peace. They are going to have to recognize the state of Israel, then they are going to have to put down their arms and talk, with them.
There is no way this can be solved, in any other way. If this doesn't happen, you can talk about the possible deals and scenarios all day long. This will never get to any true resolution, if it doesn't happen. It must get to this point, before anything else will ever work.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi King Abdullah opened the annual summit of Gulf leaders with a warning that the Arab world was on the brink of exploding because of conflicts in the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Lebanon.
"Our Arab region is besieged by a number of dangers, as if it was a powder keg waiting for a spark to explode," he told the rulers of the oil-rich monarchies gathered in Riyadh for a two-day meeting to the backdrop of mounting sectarian violence in neighboring Iraq.
No kidding? What gave it away?
Was it the fact that Hamas, the entity that tries to kill Israelis at every opportunity, gets support from the king's oil revenue? Or was it the fact that Iran's oil money supports Hezbollah, Israel's other sworn enemy, to the north?
They have something that the world needs and they use the spoils to support groups that wish to push Israel into the sea. But Israel isn't shrinking fast enough, so I guess it's going to be a bit tense until they do. But we can all pretty much count on the fact that Israel isn't going anywhere without a fight; and the radical elements that seek Israel's destruction are not going to give up the fight, either.
The answer to all of this can be found in a quote from the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick that I recently posted:
We have war when at least one of the parties to a conflict wants something more than it wants peace.
I threw this up in that post without comment, merely as food for thought that day (and because I was pressed for time). But if we look at it closer, we can see that there is much truth in this statement.
One side can want peace so very badly. They can give in and succumb to pressure from all areas around them. They can sign pacts, withdraw troops, release political prisoners, and can even offer up almost everything the other side is asking for except for control of a capitol city. And yet, if the other side does not want peace, it's all for nought.
The bottom line is this:
As long as one side views war as a better option than peace, we will have war. When one side will begin to love the lives of their children more than they love to kill innocents on the other side, we will then have peace, and not until.
So, when the Saudi king says the entire middle east is living in perilous times, we must accept the fact that he knows what he is talking about. Because in his country, schools teach their children to hate one of the nations, in that region. His country also rakes in astronomical amounts of money from oil revenues and yet finds little to spend it on except for superfluous palaces for its royal family. What little is given to his Palestinian brethren is not used for education, not used to build an economy, and not used to strengthen the general well-being of the population. But it is used to acquire rockets to shoot into Israel and other destructive tools.
Until that changes, this speech he made will be able to be used (and re-used), anytime the Arab community gets together to talk about why the region is ready to "explode".
Saturday, December 09, 2006
When they don't get their way, they get angry. Someone says something (or doesn't), does something (or doesn't); whatever the case, there are people that will react by getting irritated or mad. If they do not let it die out naturally, they begin to resent (which denotes bitterness).
Sometimes, when resentment gets out of hand, we see certain people react and over-react. Angry reactions can go from pouting, all the way to second-degree murder (and all points in between). When this becomes a way of life to a person, it becomes an integral component of someone's personality. And if this happens, the line between constant resentment and outright hatred, gets real thin.
One casy study is Cynthia McKinney, the outgoing Congresswoman from Georgia's 4th District. You might recall that Ms. McKinney is the representative that slugged a Capitol Policeman. This incident was just one of a long line of angry reactions, but this one was the one that lost her whatever slim thread of credibility, she may have ever had. (And she didn't have much, to start with.)
It also led her to a resounding defeat in the primary election, earlier this year. Since that time, Cynthia McKinney has been virtually a no-show on the Hill, to vote or do anything that would give the impression that cares about the voters in her district. In essence, the people she was elected to represent have had NO representation in the House of Representatives.
That's political pouting. That's Cynthia's way of saying, "I didn't get what I want, so I am not even going to honor my commitment". "And, you can't make me!" But even though she didn't show, you can sure bet she cashed her paychecks.
But wait, she did show up at the end of the session. Why? To introduce a bill to impeach Bush.
In what was likely her final legislative act in Congress, outgoing Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney introduced a bill Friday to impeach President Bush.
The legislation has no chance of passing and serves as a symbolic parting shot not only at Bush but also at Democratic leaders. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear that she will not entertain proposals to sanction Bush and has warned the liberal wing of her party against making political hay of impeachment.
Her last day she shows up for something that isn't going to be voted on and couldn't be successful until next session (which she won't be a part of because she is an angry woman and the voters have rejected her), anyway. A brilliant way to go, wouldn't you say?
My advice to Ms. McKinney is to find a good therapist and get to the root of why the anger is allowed to ferment. Then she should be prepared to make some changes in her life. Otherwise, she will die an angry woman, forever dealing with the hatreds she has allowed to form in her life. That will be her legacy.
But not to fear, even at that, Ms. McKinney will not be totally worthless.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
No one is completely worthless. At the very least, they can serve as a bad example.
Which brings me to what many socially progressive apologists want us to believe about criminals that commit heinous crimes against humanity.
Many, that fall into this category, make excuses for the behaviors of anti-social types that have no conscious, whatsoever. They cry for rehabilitation, despite the fact that the recidivism rate is astronomical. One example is the child molester.
While it is true that many anti-socials were children that were abused and treated badly, not all were. But once there is a trial for someone that has committed such a heinous crime, we can always expect this kind of defense to be brought into the courtroom. Denying responsibility has become a sport, of sorts. It's a "let's see if we can beat the system" kind of game.
But I am here to tell you that while my childhood was better than many, it wasn't without some dysfunction. Being the child of two alcoholic parents was not fun and has left a lasting impression, that I will never forget. My teenage years were not filled with the love, patience, and understanding that I have tried to show towards my two children, throughout their lives. Nor was it filled with a lot of teaching, but with lecturing, ass-chewings, threats, and intimidations.
Regardless of my childhood and teenage years not being the best, I still think I turned out okay.
Other than a little misunderstanding with the MPs while in the Army (that cost me two weeks of extra duty) almost 30 years ago and another one with some local police (that cost me a few bucks)around 25 years ago, I have been a fine, upstanding citizen that has held a job almost my entire life, and excelled at almost all of them. When I stood in front of my company commander and the blind judge that could smell BS a mile away, I did what I thought everyone should do. And that was own up to my lapse in judgements, take my punishment like a man, and learn from my mistakes. Despite these errors, I still was discharged from the Army honorably and with several medals for meritoious service and have made a name for myself among those that I live and work with.
So to those people that cannot/will not learn from their mistakes, always remember this little saying here. And as you sit in your jail or prison cell contemplating and reflecting on why you deserve what you have, I also ask you to remember to accept your lot in life as society's bad examples. Because of this, I can continue to teach my children what you look like and how you act, so they will not go down that same path. In spite of the fact that you have caused many people great pain and suffering by continuing to commit crimes against your fellow man, you actually do us all a service by serving in this capacity.
While my children are far from perfect, they have a set of core values planted in them. Yes, I still bail them out of financial messes from time to time and yes, my son is wanting to change his major after one semester due to some indecision. But, both are good solid people that have these same values that I have worked so hard to teach to them. But beyond that, I realize that all it takes is one slip in judgement to screw up what was otherwise, a stellar existence. And that is why they are still in my prayers, daily.
Furthermore, allow me to say, there has been no role that I have enjoyed more in my life than the role of fatherhood. And now that I have been blessed with a little grandson, I have resumed a variation of that role, all over again. I couldn't be more enamored with him, nor could I love him anymore than I do. So needless to say, I wouldn't trade it for all of the world.
I do not say this to garner praise, because in many ways, I feel that what I have done has been just adequate or the bare minimum. But if I can do it, most anyone that has enough desire to do so, can do it too.
Hamas officials have managed to smuggle more than $66 million in cash through the Rafah border crossing in the past eight months, a member of the Hamas-led government revealed Wednesday.
This isn't new. Oil money from our "so-called" friends in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states has been flowing into the Palestinian Authority, since its inception. Most of it is used to promote anitsemitism and train terrorists to kill Jews. And of course there's Iran, which has been stirring the pot with their donations, as well.
The sad thing about this is, the emirates that give this money to this terrorist group could do more to up the standard of living for the Palestinian people, as well as their own. If they would do this, there could and would not be a need for a cult-figure like a Bin Laden or other heinous individuals.
But for the real disturbing parts of this article, let's read on:
Meanwhile, sources close to the Hamas-led government claimed that Hamas representatives recently held talks with officials from the US Democratic Party at a secret location.
I would like some names and some more information. I think this should be cause for one of Nancy Pelosi's "witchhunt" oversight investigations, she is promising, as the next Congressional session nears. But we all know that this will not happen, because the Dems are not going to investigate other Dems. That is, not unless there is a public outcry loud enough that they will fear for their majority.
The sources told the Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency that Hamas representatives have also been holding secret talks with European government officials, including Britain and France.
This is nothing new either.
Europe has long romanticized the plight of Palestinian terrorists, evidenced by the love affair they had with Arafat. They have confused the plight of the people, with the blood-thirsty terrorists that have killed innocents indiscriminately, for years.
So as I look over these three paragraphs, I can honestly say that I am not surprised at any of these allegations. When you have such a bleeding heart for things that you think you understand (but don't), you can fall prey to people that want to use you to advance their sinister agendas. And if you think for one minute they can keep a secret, guess again.
We'll see how this pans out. Either someone will look into this further and blow it wide open (someone other than the MSM, of course), or it'll do what always it usually does, when the Dems are shown to have egg on their face. That is, it'll quietly die out.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
World Powers Fail, Again
PARIS — Six world powers made "substantive progress" but failed to reach an accord on a U.N. resolution to punish Iran for defying U.N. demands to halt its nuclear program, the French Foreign Ministry said after talks in Paris Tuesday.
Can anyone define "substantive progress"? Is it diplomatic jargon designed to sugar-coat? Is it relative? Is it reality?
I only ask these things, because while I am having a little trouble understanding it, I do know what the phrase, "failed to reach an accord", means. We are all used to that one.
World Condemns Fiji Coup
After months of threats, Fiji's military leader Commander Voreqe Bainimarama ignored international warnings and staged the coup arguing drastic action was needed against Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, who he has accused of corruption.
In a small country, he who controls the military, controls the country. In fact, this is true of any country, small or large. (SEE: Pakistan) But the chances that the new leader is going to care that the world is not happy with him, are slim to none.
Search Continues For Missing Man In Oregon
Searchers scouring a rugged canyon Tuesday found a pair of pants matching the description of those worn by a missing man who struck out for help after his family's car got stuck in the snow.
A helicopter with heat-sensing equipment joined other helicopters, snowmobiles and foot patrols Tuesday in the hunt for 35-year-old James Kim of San Francisco. His wife and two daughters were found Monday after being lost for more than a week.
Let me say that just a little over a year ago, I was right in the area they are searching. It's very beautiful, but very rugged and mountainous country, with lots of dense forest. It is unforgiving, if you are lost.
The longer this goes on, the less chance that he will be found in time. I sincerely hope, he will be found soon and will be in reasonably decent (if not good) condition, when he is found.
NYC Bans Trans Fats
The New York City Board of Health voted yesterday to adopt the nation’s first major municipal ban on the use of all but tiny amounts of artificial trans fats in restaurant cooking, a move that would radically transform how food is prepared in thousands of restaurants, from McDonald’s to fashionable bistros to Chinese take-outs.
I know it's healthier this way. But doesn't anyone else have trouble with Big Brother interfering in our daily lives, more than it already does? Will this be challenged in court and if so, will it hold up?
What ever happened to free choice?
Missing Man In Oregon Found Dead
He was a brave man to go out and risk his life to find help, in order to save his family. But in the end, the Klamath Mountains were too much. This says a lot about the character of this young man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and co-workers.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Now, please note that PYY supports no candidate, because the editor-in-chief is not a French citizen and cannot vote. But even if he did, he still wouldn't support a candidate. But that doesn't mean we won't be observant, lauditory, and critical, when the situation avails. And it looks like, in what appears to be a long campaign of punches and counter-punches, the IHT is reporting that Segelene Royale (Sego), Socialist candidate for president, has made a mistake. And two of her closest rivals have taken full advantage of it.
Ségolène Royal traveled to the Middle East hoping to show that she could shine on the international stage as brightly as she did at home as she became the Socialist Party candidate for the French presidency.
She waded into the intricacies of the Middle East crisis with gusto - only to get tripped up in Lebanon.
Royal failed to react immediately when a Hezbollah lawmaker with whom she met Friday compared Israel's former occupation of Lebanon and that of the Nazis in France during World War II.
Then the response.
The next day, as criticism mounted, Royal insisted that she simply had not heard the remark, which was made in Arabic and translated for French reporters covering her trip. Royal, who had a different translator, said she would have left the meeting in protest if she had heard. The comments, she said, were "unacceptable, abominable and hateful."
The camp of Nicolas Sarkozy, Royal's leading challenger on the French right, led the criticism. Sarkozy's party said Royal's five-day trip had been "poorly prepared" and "useless for peace."
Defense Minister Michèle Alliot- Marie suggested that Royal might have endangered French lives in Lebanon, where France has 1,500 troops in the peacekeeping force sent by the United Nations to monitor the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah.
In sports (most notably basketball and football), mistakes can and often do, cost teams games. Turnovers are the worst kind of mistake and while you never want to put your opponent in a better position than he/she would have been in anyway, these things still have a way of happening. Turn the ball over and you give your foe, an opportunity that he/she did not earn.
One of the best ways to lose any game is to commit too many of them. So, when you do fumble or lose your dribble, you must find the handle and correct the mistake, or regroup after your opponent has effectively made you pay for the error.
Whether politics is a metaphor for sports or sports is a metaphor for politics, makes little difference. What does matter is, they are so very similar and much can be learned about how political consultants conduct campaigns, from drawing an analogous comparison. They do the coaching, the candidate does the playing, and so on.
One thing to realize is, an inexperienced coach can be made to look good, if he has people playing for him/her that are experienced. By contrast, an experienced coach can make a bunch of inexperienced players look good. But when you have an inexperienced coach and an inexperienced team, it's a recipe for disaster.
I am not sure who is running Ms. Royale's campaign, much less how much experience he/she has. But in my view, her decision to even meet with a Hezbollah official (elected or not) was ill-advised to begin with. By appearing with a member of a terrorist organization that calls for the total destruction of the state of Israel, she has put herself at risk, politically, in a European country that prides itself on sound and smart foreign policy.
As one of Sarko's handlers says:
"Accepting to speak with a member of Hezbollah, which advocates the destruction of Israel, was already a mistake,"
"Letting him insult France's allies, whether they are the United States or Israel, without reacting, is another serious mistake."
It's clear that Sego does lack a certain amount of experience, on the world stage. But that doesn't necessarily translate into a loss, either.
Many leaders have gotten themselves elected not on their resume, ideology, or stances on the individual issues; many have gotten themselves elected, because they sell themselves primarily as a populist candidate that offers new ideas/solutions to the issues that face the people, doing the voting. Often times, the new ideas are not discussed at any great length, neither are they explained fully. This is one of the biggest criticisms, I have heard about her
You see, populist candidates spend a lot of time traveling around, getting photo-ops in here and there, generally manipulating the news soundbites. But they shy away from substance, due to the fact that they are riding a wave of "star" status and do not pay a proper amount of attention to the details. That, in turn (sometimes) creates an enormous risk for mistakes, mainly, because they (can and sometimes do) get caught up in the moment and are mesmerized by all of the newly discovered attention.
So Sego, the aesthetically pleasing populist candidate, has just turned the ball over to her more experienced and better skilled opponents (due to inexperience) and her critics cannot let the opportunity slip by, without a response. It's a fair response and it's not unexpected.
Now, the questions become:
Can she recover? Probably. But if she does, at very least, she's going to need a better translator. Will she work to cut down mistakes like this, in the future? I have no answer, but one thing is for sure. She had better.
Because if she cannot effectively run a campaign for president without committing grievous errors along the way, we have to wonder, how would that effectively persuade the French electorate to entrust her with such an important office? That's the million euro question, everyone would love to know, right now.
And then, how would she conduct the more serious foreign affairs that the French have long prided themselves on? That's what the French people need to decide, when they make that cast that vote, next year.
But even more importantly, we must all ask these questions:
With the last two presidential elections in America and the last German election being so close, it has shown that there is a trend towards divided political landscapes; and assuming that Sego will maintain her popularity in the coming months, will France follow suit?
And if so, how will it affect the tone of the French election as the big day/days gets/get closer?