Monthly Archives: July 2009

Death in the Morning

Pamplona, Spain. San Fermin. From July 7 -14, every morning at 8:00am, Spain’s national station RTVE, as well as other local ones, televise the encierros or “running of the bulls”. Viewers tune in for one morbid reason: to see if anyone gets killed. Later throughout the day, the coverage is focused on the morning’s statistics as if the numbers injured were part of an encierro scorecard.

Today for the first time in years a runner was killed. Tomorrow morning’s ratings will surely go up, giving RTVE a death to celebrate.


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Filed under Living la vida española

Above the Fray

In today’s Washington Post, the Mexican Army is accused of using “torture to battle drug traffickers.” The Mexican government itself has recognized the abuse, what the Post describes as “forced disappearances, acts of torture and illegal raids in pursuit of drug traffickers . . .” It is telling that the exact same behavior when perpetrated by the U.S. is not described by the Post or our government as a human rights abuse, torture, or in need of investigation.

The so-called liberal NPR has even admitted that when torture is perpetrated by foreign governments it is torture and when the U.S. government engages in the exact same behavior it is a valid information gathering technique. In a recent response to criticism by Glenn Greenwald for NPR’s official refusal to use the word “torture” with respect to American actions, NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard argued that the U.S. tactics are not torture because the tactics are used to “get information” whereas other countries torture because they use these same tactics as punishment.

Though I am not completely clear on how she would apply her “beating it out of him” is legit standard to the common criminals in Abu Ghraib who had nothing to do with the “War on Terror” and had no “beans to spill”. So, how would the NPR Ombudsman apply her standard to the Mexicans who have said that the entire purpose of the tactics was to get information. Would the Mexican activities therefore not amount to torture either?

So while the Mexican National Human Rights Commission is investigating these abuses as torture, our beloved President Obama, with the full support of the American Mullahs, is letting bygones be bygones and claiming all evidence of abuse is a state secret. The mainstream liberal press (the Post and NPR) is fully on board. Need I say more? It’s good to be above the fray.


Filed under Essays, Obama 44

Tropic of Not Reading


I am in a bit of a reading funk and have been stuck on Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer for over a month. Part of the problem is that I can only get myself to read the book when I travel. For practically a full month, it has been over 90F (+30C) in Madrid and I don’t have air conditioning. The last thing I need is to have the lights on at night to read, making the whole house even hotter.

The other problem is that, while the story is well written and interesting, once I put it down I am simply not motivated to pick it up again. Sure, part of me must have subconsciously (or consciously) bought the book because of the naked girl on the cover. But what made the story controversial, groundbreaking and exciting a few generations ago, now makes it feel vulgar and misogynistic. It is almost as if we’ve gone full circle: from shocking because it was vulgar to no longer shocking, making it just plain vulgar.

In any event, I think I have gotten to the point of the book where I’ve gotten the point of the book. Also, because the story really has no plot or suspense, I don’t feel compelled to learn how it ends. Add to the fact that I have a very interesting roster of books on deck, and things don’t look so good for the Tropics. Only the summer heat is keeping me from moving on. Well, that and maybe complaining about torture.

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Filed under Digressions, Literature

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World


I often look at people of all ages and think about who they’ll become or who they were at previous times in their lives. And I think about the different stages and manifestations of beauty throughout the course of their lives. I wonder whether little kids will maintain, grow into or lose their beauty, and whether old age will reveal the beauty in their youth and vice versa. I wonder whether there is an eternal quality to beauty that continues to make us recognizable even when our earliest and most recent portraits bear almost no resemblance to each other.

Last night my wife (I am legally married, but that’s another story) showed me photos that I had never seen before of her as a child. I was left speechless. Of course, I see traces of her present posture, gestures, and features. But most of all, when I look at that little girl in the photographs, I can see clearly everything that is beautiful about the woman that is today my wife.

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Filed under Digressions, Friends / Family

Let the Show Trials Begin

Welcome to the Obama justice system where you can be found “not guilty” and still stay imprisoned for as long as the president wants. Now it’s hard for me to believe that Obama, with all of his legal training, does not understand the inherent dangers and inconsistencies in this position. But, like with the War in Afghanistan, Obama’s policy is completely based on political expediency — to prove he’s a tough guy and appease American blood lust and childish anxieties — and not on the validity of the policy.


Filed under Essays, Obama 44

Costly Rivalry


So it might not be the most civil of rivalries, but this sign at today’s Real Madrid/Cristiano Ronaldo presentation in front of some 85,000 people was pretty funny:

Benzema = 35m
Kaka = 65m
C. Ronaldo = 96m
Screwing Laport [president of FC Barcelona], priceless.
For everything else, Florentino [president of Real Madrid] !

Especially considering that Laporta has been complaining to the press about how much Real Madrid has spent, and even the Spanish President, Zapatero, has publicly criticized Florentino, it is all the more priceless. Real Madrid has indeed spent an offensive amount on these new players, and will most likely spend more, but still Zapatero, as an avid and vocal Barcelona supporter, has once again proven himself to be a total buffoon.

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Filed under Football/Soccer, Living la vida española

People with Guns Kill


The incredibly powerful lobby, the NRA, is constantly reminding us, especially when there is yet another senseless murder, that guns don’t kill, people do.

That is true. But it is also true that while alcohol doesn’t drive a car into an accident, people who drive under the influence of alcohol do. We therefore heavily regulate the consumption of alcohol to save lives. But unlike alcohol, which is not specifically designed for driving, guns are made to kill.

Guns and people just don’t mix because while guns don’t kill, people with guns do.


Filed under Essays