In my brother’s blog today, he asks whether, after beating top metal contender Spain by almost 40 points, the U.S. national basketball team, dubbed the Redeem Team, is better than its 1992 predecessor the Dream Team. I commented as follows:
I read an interesting statistic in the Spanish sport’s paper Marca today that during the ’92 Olympics, the Dream Team beat Spain by 41 points. Today the Redeem Team beat Spain by 37 points.
There is no doubt that today’s Spain team is far superior, as is the international competition overall, to its ’92 predecessor. That can only mean two things: first the U.S. team today is better than the ’92 dream team, or that the U.S.’s defeats during the last 16 years was due more to the U.S.’s fault than the rest of the world’s achievement.
So now my question is, is the 2008 Spanish team better than its 1992 predecessor? Or better yet, has European ball really improved or were recent U.S. teams simply too arrogant in not taking international play seriously? Continue reading
Check out my brother’s cool new blog: Robustus Sed Malitiosus. I have no idea what that means, but it covers a interesting mix of topics from social change, politics, propaganda, dating, living in Brooklyn, and his dog.
And so sayeth George W. Bush:
Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected . . .
Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century . . . Only Russia can decide whether it will now put itself back on the path of responsible nations or continue to pursue a policy that promises only confrontation and isolation.
For the reasons stated in the previous post, W. can’t really think that he has any right to tell anyone how to conduct foreign policy? You’ve gotta be kidding me!
I suppose that the first thing we could say about the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia is how President Bush and his State Department have once again dropped the ball. When you look a little closer, it reveals some basic facts about the decay of U.S. authority in the world:
- The U.S. has no moral authority to tell the Russians or anyone else not to unilaterally invade another country, especially a region of strategic oil importance (which Georgia is). The U.S. did something very similar in Iraq. Furthermore, the U.S. lacks the authority to criticize Russia on the “collateral damage” of civilian lives. There has never been a serious conversation in the U.S. (by the government, citizens, or the press) about the hundreds of thousands of civilians who were directly the victims of the U.S. bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Georgia has sent a large percentage of its armed forces as troops to Iraq, and yet the U.S. is unable to protect its ally from Russia (either in the form of military or political support).
- The U.S. has limited bargaining / diplomatic weight in the matter. France’s Sarko has powdered his nose and is running around doing all of the diplomatic work that the U.S. used to do. This trend, as we have seen with Turkey and Qatar in the Middle East, highlights the U.S. diminishing role as a power broker.
- The U.S. is, at present, ill-prepared to deal with potential military threats. Regardless of what John McCain may think, the U.S. needs to get out of Iraq. It is over-exposed in Iraq and simply does not have the resources at hand to deal with any new, foreseeable or unforeseeable conflict that may arise. Compromising security by keeping soldiers in Iraq (to protect oil fields or so that McCain can say “we won the war”) is grossly irresponsible.
- The U.S. has no moral authority to criticize either Russia or Georgia on human rights. The Bush Administration — through its policies of torture and foreign detentions — has the worst human rights records of any developed nation.
- No matter how you look at it, the U.S.’s efforts to get all of Russia’s neighbors to join NATO — a cold war military alliance with military bases and missiles pointed at Russia — from a Russian standpoint is very threatening and feels like intentional isolation.
- While I do not promote nuclear proliferation or would ever want countries like Iran to have nuclear capabilities, the U.S.’s insistence that only selective nation’s have the nukes, together with its record of unilateral invasions, make it very easy for nations to convince their people that the U.S. is a real threat. Think about it. You live in the Middle East. The U.S and Israel have the most state of the art armed forces in the world and say that no one else is allowed to have similar technology. Everyone now knows that the U.S. invaded Iraq based on false pretenses just for oil. What stops it from bombing another country (say Iran) in the region based on false evidence? And if one country gets the nukes, then the other ones need them too. Meanwhile, as mentioned above, the U.S. is getting all of Russia’s neighbors and former members of the Soviet block to join NATO and some of them — Poland and Georgia — to fight in U.S. wars. Has the Bush Administration, through its draconian foreign policy, unwillingly started a news arms race?
Finally, the Russian / Georgia crisis also says something about the E.U. and its inability to manage its surroundings. Regardless of Sarko being “out and about”, the fact of the matter is that the E.U. continues to be a compelling idea but not a reality.
I remember the war years, the Star Wars years. Back in my FON days when I was working with the Hombres de Negro (Guille, Juantxo and Aitor), I used to watch these new generation kids praising 70s icons like Darth Vader or Kiss. Hey, I lived Star Wars. I went to see it in the movie theater in 1977, before my girlfriend was even born. I remember the whole Star Wars craze, everyone in the streets sporting space age fashion, and my childhood thirst for the action figures and accessories (some of which I still have today). I even went to a Kiss Dynasty tour concert in 1979.
Just to put it all into prospective, my old Star Wars sheets have survived . . . twenty-nine years later.
Because of Spain’s contemporary history of being sheltered from the rest of the world during much of the 20th century, its people lack any sense of cross-cultural sensitivity in dealing with foreign cultures. Consequently, Spanish people will frequently make remarks or use gestures in reference to foreign cultures and races that would be considered offensive, inappropriate and outright racist in any other modern, dynamic and heterogeneous population. Nonetheless, the Spanish will laugh off these usages as being terms or signs of affection. The offended should learn not to take offense, and the proponent of political correctness should learn not to be so hypocritical.
The latest example of this is the Spanish men’s olympic basketball team’s photograph with all of its players making their eyes slanted. What is remarkable is how innocently naive and childish their gesture believes itself to be an act of “appreciation” towards the Chinese. While most Spanish newspapers are never color blind (they always refer to the race, religion, or nationality of their subject matter as long as it is not the majority in Spain), at least this time El Mundo asks whether the team pose was appropriate.
What is shocking is that in Spain, absolutely no one will find the photograph troublesome in the least.
Update: Just read the story covered in Yahoo!.
Update 2: Apparently, the Spanish national basketball team isn’t the only Spanish team to define Asians by eye shape.
On Friday, I took the train up to New York from DC to spend the weekend in Brooklyn with my brother and to also see my grandmother in the Bronx. On the train, I started Netherland by Joseph O’Neill about post 9/11 New York as seen from the viewpoint of a Dutchman who discovers the West Indian and South Asian cricket playing world. I thought the novel would serve as a good backdrop to visiting my brother’s very West Indian Brooklyn neighborhood on the south side of Prospect Park near Flatbush. As a matter of fact, it was — most of which though I finished on the train ride back to DC.
On Saturday, my bro and and I took the Q train to Coney Island to check out where both my grandmother and father had enjoyed spending summer days when they were children. I suppose I don’t have to mention that Coney Island is not what it used to be. Nevertheless, it (as well as the ride there) is definitely fascinating with its mix of cultures that outside of New York would never logically inhabit the same space. And that is pretty much what Netherland is about. O’Neill writes, Continue reading
Last week I spent a few days — as I try to do each year — in Bethany Beach, Delaware with my padres. I made this video in honor of its peaceful shore and the favorite of my recent acquisitions: Soulnik. The song is “One Guy” by Doug Watkins and Yusef Lateef. Last year a produced a similar, but different Bethany video.
Apparently a now defunct affair from two years ago by former presidential primary loser John Edwards is breaking news. How is that breaking news? Who cares? The press has known about this relationship for ages. Who cared about it then and why can’t I get anything valuable from CNN? King and Blitzer should get real jobs! Why is Edwards deserving so much scrutiny all of a sudden? How many mistresses did Guiliani have? How many ex-wives does Sarkozy have? How many (very open to the press though not to the public) relationships has Bill Clinton had since he left office (not including the ones in office) and no one has since mentioned them? Did John McCain start his relationship with his second wife before he divorced his first one? Who knows, who cares?