November 23, 2016

Goodbye Barack, Good Luck Donald, and Forza Schumi!

My thoughts of Michael Schumacher's career with Ferrari are book-ended by two memories, neither of which involve him actually doing anything in a race car. The first comes from before he had even turned a wheel of one of the scarlet cars in anger, and the second follows his retirement from his penultimate race with the team. Schumacher joined the Scuderia in 1996 having left the Benneton team as a two time world champion. Arriving at Madonna di Campiglio in 1996 for Ferrari's winter retreat/press event, he stunned the Italian media by addressing them in their native language. In the interim following his signing with the team in late summer, finishing the current season, winning a World Driver's Championship, transitioning to a new team and maintaining his rigorous personal fitness regimen and sponsorship responsibilities, he had managed to find the time to learn Italian. Broken, untrained, and heavily accented Italian, but Italian nonetheless. Thus began a love affair with the Italian media that, despite a contract dispute or two, continues to this day.

Flash forward to 2006. Ten years and 5 World Championships later. Suzuka, Japan. The fourth-gear Degner Curve, specifically, for those who care about such things. Even on points with Fernando Alonso. Leading by over 8 seconds with 16 laps to go. His retirement already announced and only one race left in the season and his career. As the smoking Ferrari coasted to a stop, V8 engine blown along with his championship hopes, there were none of the radio outbursts that we've come to expect from drivers over the last few years. As Fernando Alonso wound down the laps, the World Championship all but his, there were no shots of a stony faced Schumacher glaring from beyond the Armco, cursing his luck at his first engine failure since 2000 (that would be at Magny-Cours, back when there still was a French Grand Prix, for those who care about such things). There were no shots of Schumacher walking briskly through the paddock, ignoring his team, too indignant to face the creators whose creation had let him down at the most crucial time. We were treated to none of the scenes we've come to expect from sullen and disappointed race drivers because Schumacher did none of those things. Instead, the world feed director cut away from a coasting Alonso to show us Michael Schumacher as he made his through the Ferrari garage, mechanic by mechanic, engineer by engineer, embrace by embrace. Steve Matchett later said that Schumacher's display of gratitude towards the Ferrari mechanics during the most crushing loss of his career had left the team with tears in their eyes, shaking their heads and asking each other "where in the world are we going to find another one like that," along with the inevitable melancholy that followed the unanswerable question.

As I watched Barack Obama handle his final turkey pardon today with grace, class, inimitable self-deprecating wit and presidential demeanor (at least compared to what's following) I found myself reminded of that hypothetical question the Ferrari mechanics asked themselves that day in Japan. I don't know what the next four years have in store for our country, and while I'm hopeful, and thankful, I can't help but think that we're starting a little below the mark, but there's certainly a lot of room for improvement. Regardless of how we feel this Thanksgiving, I hope we all have more to be thankful for next year.


April 2, 2011

Rick Sanchez' Childish Assessment of Terry Jones' Quran Burning

Of all of the irritating traits that emanate from the far left, the two most disagreeable have to be intellectual snobbery and liberal guilt. For better or worse, Rick Sanchez will never be accused of the former.

In his piece on Huff Post "Burning the Quran Is No Childish Game", (suggesting that book burning is best left to serious minded adults) the former CNN anchor who was fired for his anti-Semitic remarks, rambles on for 645 words talking about a basketball game between his son and daughter (heartwarming, but striking one as an anecdote inserted only because it fit the title of the piece), a mock court case, and his previous interview with Jones, before finally saying,
As much as I dislike giving Jones any more attention and a 16th minute of fame, silence and inaction in the face of bigotry don't work. Worse, they can unfortunately -- and incorrectly -- signal approval or at the very least acceptance.

There we have it. Rick Sanchez with his complete array of faculties and firing on all intellectual cylinders is hardly an archetype of lucidity, but when he allows himself to be completely blinded by guilt, here's what slips out...
Jones needs to realize that his words and actions make him the very thing he despises: He is no better than the fringe of Muslims who hate.

This comparison is nothing short of obscene. This is as close to a concession to sharia that one could possibly make, and shows exactly why fundamentalist Islam and western democracy are, and will always remain, absolutely irreconcilable.

Sanchez' ignorance is on display again when he writes,
The lesson he needs to learn is that he has every right to express his opinion about Islam or to disagree with Muslims, but he doesn't have to spit in their faces to do it. He didn't need to desecrate a book that one and a half billion people hold sacred in order to make a point. He shouldn't needlessly put the lives of our armed forces at greater risk.

I assume he's speaking metaphorically here. Why should we care about pissing these guys off? Why should we capitulate to these maniacs? Why should we infringe upon the first amendment rights of our citizens, bought and paid for with the blood of patriots, to kowtow to a bunch of backwards, ninth century barbarians? For safety? I thought we learned that lesson, again, after 9/11. Ben Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." People who are burning up the blogosphere with calls for Jones to be charged with murder, saying he needs to be stopped, and that he's no better than a bunch of murdering jihadists need to know one thing: Stopping someone from burning a Koran won't make them like us. It will simply be the first in a long line of capitulations. You'll have to allow them to stone unveiled women in Afghanistan. And while you're at it, don't tell them they can't throw acid in schoolgirls' faces in Kandahar, or they might get mad at you. And for heaven's sake, don't ask them not to kill cartoonists in Denmark for printing satire on the prophet Muhammad. Because, at the end of the day, what appeasers like Rick Sanchez fail to realize, is that burning a book is protected speech, burning an book's author is not.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it
-Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Chewbacca: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh!
C-3PO: He made a fair move. Screaming about it can't help you.
Han Solo: Let him have it. It's not wise to upset a Wookiee.
C-3PO: But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid.
Han Solo: That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.
Chewbacca: Grrf.
C-3PO: I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2: let the Wookiee win.

March 25, 2011

They're Back! 2011 F1 Season Starts Today

Well it would have started 2 weeks ago had it not been for the unrest in Barhain and Bernie Ecclestone's penchant for doing business with corrupt theocracies, but better late than never.

March 24, 2011

How Well Do We Know The Libyan Rebels?

In his latest piece in Slate, Christopher Hitchens makes a case for intervention in Libya, saying
The stand of the "realist" school, and its objections to further or faster involvement in the Libya crisis, can be fairly summarized as follows:

1) Libya contains too many unknowns for us to be sure whom we would be supporting. We thus run the risk of breaching the principle of primo non nocere, or "first do no harm."

2) The relative calm of Tripoli, when contrasted with the upheaval in Benghazi, points to a historic east-west divide between the former provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, which predates the formation of the modern Libyan state and might itself be destabilizing. The West might inadvertently ignite a sectarian regionalism culminating in fragmentation or partition.

He says these points assume the "persistence of power of the Qaddafi clan" and counters them, pointing out that Quaddaffi has reached his Ceausescu moment; a one-way, full blown descent into "paranoia, megalomania, and delusion," and warns of the consequenseces of the regime falling with Quadaffi still in charge. Far be it from me to disagree with Hitchens, except perhaps to emphasize that Ceaușescu lived only 4 days after his "moment" before being executed, but in the interest of knowing exactly who we're supporting, lest we regret it later, here's an editorial from the Barutiwa Daily Times by Baruti M. Kamau

The murder and rape of Black African migrants in Benghazi (East Libya) reduces the value of anti-Qaddafi rebels' claim to justice. An old friend of mine commented that the revolution going on in North Africa and the Middle East is patterned on the Civil Rights movement of Black America in the 1950's and 60's. I vociferously disagree with my friend's comment. The contemporary protest of Arab civilians against their "oppressive" governments does not deserve such lofty comparison because they lack certain liberation virtues that Black Americans enjoyed and thus translated into a high success story. The struggle of the Black Americans during and after slavery received significant help from White Christians and Jews because there were liberation virtues, a spirit and principles in the Black American struggle. In contrast, the Arabs have allowed their peaceful protest to turn into bloody violence, sexual assault on black and white women and the taking up of arms against the state, ie. Libya and Yemen. Black Americans did not engage in revenge rape and murder of White Americans nor did "We" take up arms against the state because that would have destroyed "our" movement for freedom and democracy. The Arabs are trying to gain the sympathy of the Western world for assistance against their oppressive governments. The Western world is primarily made up of White Christians and Jews. They will not respect any move degrading into activities that counter the people's claim to freedom and democracy. The efforts of the Benghazi rebels, in our opinion, are unfounded due to the assaults carried out against Black African civilians in East Libya. Thus, we argue that the Obama administration is in error for supporting the Benghazi rebels against Muammar Qaddafi. The Benghazi rebels are like the Egyptians in Tahrir Square who brutally raped Lara Logan, a well-known International journalist.

Julie Burchill, referring to the Egyptian revolution in The Independent, wrote
It would be wonderful to think that what replaces Mubarak will be better. But here's the thing about Middle Eastern regimes: they're all vile. The ones that are "friendly" are vile and the ones that hate us are vile. Revolutions in the region have a habit of going horribly wrong, and this may well have something to do with the fact that Islam and democracy appear to find it difficult to co-exist for long.

Red State concludes
But meanwhile, the Libyan Rebels remind us of why war must be carefully planned and thoroughly researched prior to opening the latches that secure Hell’s gates. Barack Obama failed to plan. He had a (redacted) tee-time or something. Taking his adorable children to see Mayan Pyramids was far more important than getting American foreign policy right. Our finest jet aircraft and Tomahawk Missiles fly in support of bigots, rapists and reprobates hunting down Black Africans. It makes one fine legacy for America’s first African-American President.

I still support his decision to intervene, however belated, aimless, and irresolute it may be. However, in a presidency plagued by hasty and clumsy decisions, I hope that this "Kinetic military action" doesn't result in even more unintended consequences. Getting fooled by Andrew Breitbart is bad enough. If the coming weeks and months show him to have been fooled by rapists in Benghazi as well, can Chavez and Ahmadinejad be far behind?

Burger King Spring Break BK Bikini Brawler

“We tore the Burger King up. I don’t play no games.” - Kimesa Smith

Describing herself as a “first time spring breaker,” Smith, a mother of four, said she had traveled Friday to Florida with friends and three of her children, the youngest of which is two and has cerebral palsy. In anticipation of a night of drinking, Smith, said she went to the Burger King to “get something in my stomach.”
I wonder why these things don't happen in Arizona or Texas.

Read the rest at The Smoking Gun here