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November 22, 2003

Kennedy's View on War

On Salon.com:

He believed in the domino theory. With hindsight, I think it was wrong. He believed that we would lose. If we were to lose South Vietnam, as Eisenhower said, we'd weaken the security of the West across the world. Eisenhower believed it, Kennedy believed it, I believed it, we all believed in it; I think we were wrong.

But despite that he would have withdrawn, because I think he felt -- and on this I think he was wiser than many others -- that even if the domino theory was correct, the security of the West would be weakened across the world if we lost Vietnam, he believed it was unlikely we could retain it by the application of external military power. And he was absolutely correct in that. The issue was never properly debated. But that was the reason why I think, had he lived, we would not have had 500,000 men there.

That's Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy, speaking about the Vietnam conflict, but more importantly and more broadly, about the security of our country and the security of the world.

The key point is that regardless of whether security would be weakened by the loss of one front, the maintenance of overall security can not be achieved by fighting a war. We must stop believing we can kill everyone that threatens our security. Peace does not have to come through war.

PGP Signed Entry

Inside the Minds of the RIAA

Along the lines of the last entry, one can apply the same myopic vision to today's recording industry.

They are, like our government, treating symptoms of a problem whilst totally ignoring the fundamental nature of the situation. Instead of spending millions on lawyers and, frankly, giving themselves a negative image among their consumers, they should be pouring those millions into making music more accessible to the people. They should be developing new means to deliver the entire music experience.

Instead, the state of the art in music distribution technology was apparently reached twenty years ago with the advent of the Compact Disc. We have seen no significant effort to improve upon this mechanism for two decades. Instead, we have seen the wallets of record label executives get fatter and fatter while artists, rather than the music, became the product.

In fact, music distribution has taken many steps backward in those two decades. A two hour long DVD with innovative special effects and a cast of hundreds plus crew of thousands, with added bonus materials like the making of documentary, audio commentary, historical background, etc., costs less than a plain jane CD these days.

RIAA, the reason you're losing money is not because people are stealing your product. It's because your product is not a good value. The consumers are voting with their dollars, and they're sending you a message: get with the times or die. Spend your money, which was given to you by consumers who worked very hard for it, on improving your product instead of persecuting those same consumers.

PGP Signed Entry

Inside the Minds of Terrorists

I read in another blog, and have heard voiced elsewhere, that the terrorists only want to see Americans (or whoever they're up against) die. That there is no negotiating with terrorists, that they are all just crazed madmen and women who want to kill.

Is this true? I doubt it. Yes, I agree that it takes a certain level of insanity, or at least dischord with reality, to believe that killing other people is a justifiable act (I believe this to be true in all cases, but this is a topic for another entry). However, I would like to propose that terrorists are not simply after the deaths of Americans, that there is a greater purpose to their actions. In other words, they believe that by acting the way they do they can affect a greater outcome.

The fundamental issue I am getting at is that we are treating the symptoms rather than tackling the underlying causes of the problem.

At their core, the terrorists want to kill people because they believe doing so will, in the long run, achieve their political goal. bin Laden's stated political goal, which I'm not sure most Americans know, is more or less to have the United States out of the Middle East. But why?

They wouldn't want us to leave if we were being all nice and fair would they? It's hard to organize a group of people to hate another without them having some perceived injustice done to them. The reason why every government in the Middle East aside from Israel only halfheartedly believes in helping America in the "War on Terror" is because they only halfheartedly believe that helping us will ever benefit them in any way. In fact, I'd argue most of them only help us enough so that they don't get labeled with the terrorists and can ride this thing out.

But again... why is this so?

I don't have the answer. But I'm thinking about it. I wish others would think about it more. It distrubs me that we react to terrorist attacks with such myopic vision. I really do feel like we are spending gargantuan amounts of money on building walls around our fort, while our foundation sinks below us because we don't realize we built the thing on a bog. One day, the bog is going to swallow us whole, including all the grand walls and everyone inside.

All I want is for us to start looking at the greater picture. To think. It begins with you, and my hope is that it will go all the way to the top.

PGP Signed Entry

November 19, 2003

The Meatrix

Klar sent me this amusing link to The Meatrix.

I find it amusing, certainly, and agree with the creators on the principle that corporate farming is destroying all that is good and decent about farming. I'm not a vegetarian by any means, though, so hopefully I'm not inadvertently supporting some leafy cause...

PGP Signed Entry

November 16, 2003

Sushi Overload

Living across the street from a sushi restaurant is extraordinarily dangerous. I mean, being able to say, "should i heat up a $2 frozen pizza and eat nasty fat food or go across the street and eat yummy sushi?" is just ludicrous. Sure, sure, I end up spending at least $10 on sushi every time I go (okay, fine, more like $15...) but maaan... it's yummy. Especially blowtorch-seared salmon. Mmmmmmmmmm.

PGP Signed Entry

November 7, 2003


After a good twenty-four hours of thought on the matter, several dreams and nightmares influenced by The Matrix Revolutions, I have decided that I really do like this movie. Spoilers follow.

Although I wasn't particularly impressed by the story, I was very satisfied about the themes upon which the conclusion were based. In particular, I was very pleasantly surprised by the negotiated peace. Very refreshing in the world of movies which are so set on their "victory or death" endings where either the good guy or the bad guy wins through brute force or sly cunning. This movie presented a conclusion that was far more realistic in our world: peace achieved through diplomacy. Peace without the necessity of crushing one's enemies. Peace that is tenuous, certainly, at first... when the movie ends, you don't know what will happen. The cynics will say that the peace has no chance of lasting. But all peace that is achieved through diplomacy is like that. The important lesson to our world is that we don't have to destroy the other guy to achieve peace.

The second theme which may be controversial to others, but which I found heartening, was Trinity's death scene. She said some important things there. About love. About telling your loved ones how much they mean to you every day. About second chances and not counting on them. Sure, the scene was over the top and took too long, blah blah. Say what you will about it cinematically, but in terms of themes, I enjoyed it.

Not the happy fairy tale ending I thought was going to happen, but even better. A great way to end the trilogy.

PGP Signed Entry

November 1, 2003

Shaken, not Stirred

In my opinion, the single most important kitchen implement is not the knife, nor fork, nor microwave, nor oven, nor plates, nor glasses...

it is The Bar Shaker.

PGP Signed Entry