(un)informed confusion
~ and other odd oddities ~


More woes for the CCP as it tries to push the Olympic Torch across the globe:



This man

Has a wall of skulls in his office. Clearly a must.



strange things vol. I

An otherwise normal-looking man standing next to me at one of those "make your coffee unhealthy" Starbucks station-things emptied no less than four sugar packets, one after another, into his coffee, vigorously shaking each packet for several seconds before carefully pouring it in, stirring the results after each dump with a different stir stick.

..the stranger part: I stood by watching, idle, engrossed in the whole affair as if witnessing some unique, coffee-inspired modern sacrament, one part ancient Teotichuacan ritual-cum-Fordist manufacturing assembly line, two parts OCD-engendered dementia.


I've taken a break from blogging to get some thing done — including a book on North Korea — but now I am back. O Ye nonexistent readers.


Russian 'democracy'

Is catching up with Gary Kasparov.

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A few good links, vol. MXVII

Couple oddities in today's New York Times.

First up is this article, by liberal columnist Maureen Dowd, about the recent spats between Democratic Presidential nomination front-runners Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton over their respective foreign policy experience. The title of the piece — "She's No Morgenthau" — looks to be an on-topic reference to Hans J. Morgenthau, an international relations theorist and University of Chicago professor who immigrated to the U.S. from Poland after living through World War II.

But there are no further references to Morgenthau in the story proper, nor would a candidate's possession of foreign policy experience necessarily make he or she "Morgenthauian."

(Morgenthau's main claim to fame is setting out the fundamental precepts of classical realism in his influential 1948 tome, Politics Among Nations, a school of International Relations theory that identifies the consolidation of power, maximization of security, and the protection of core national interests as the predominant responses of nation-states to what the theory argues is a fundamentally anarchical international order. So, basically, realpolitik, but dressed of for academes.)

Pardon my ignorance on the details of the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination campaign, but the realpolitik doctrine doesn't seem all that applicable to the foreign policies of either Obama or Clinton. And with no mention of Morgenthau after the first reference, Dowd leaves us guessing as to why she had his name put up in the hed.

(In the public policy sense of the word, Morgenthau was not a foreign policy practitioner, either. Although influential, he was, by trade, an academic — a little far off from what usually makes for a President of the United States.)

So what is Dowd trying to do? Compare Clinton to realism? Attract some IR theorists to her column? Was this a desk editor trying to be clever?

Second up isn't so much an oddity as an interesting piece on Hollywood producer Brian Grazer. As the article points out, Grazer isn't well-known — he certainly isn't a household name — and for someone who has been behind such major projects as Eight Mile, Inside Man, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, and American Gangster, his Wikipedia entry contains scant information. I found this bit of the NYT story most fascinating, though:

For the last 20 years, Mr. Grazer has met each week with a person who is an expert in science, medicine, politics, fashion, religion — anything other than entertainment. He is so serious about the meetings that he has a staff member whose job it is to find interesting people.

The weekly get-togethers have led to some of Mr. Grazer’s most successful ideas. After meeting with five of the top trial lawyers in the country, Mr. Grazer came up with the idea for “Liar Liar.” “Eight Mile” came about because he had met Chuck D, the lead singer for Public Enemy, and Slick Rick, a rapper from the 1980s. A meeting with a former F.B.I. agent, Christopher Whitcomb, led to “The F.B.I.,” a new show for Fox.

“I like learning stuff. The more information you can get about a person or a subject, the more you can pour into a potential project,” Mr. Grazer said. “I made a decision to do different things. I want to do things that have a better chance of being thought of as original. I do everything I can to disrupt my comfort zone.”

Read away.


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Domo Arigato, Michelin-San

Revealing something I've always had a sneaking suspicion was true (or, in the least, truthy), Michelin Guide today declared Tokyo the world's top city for cuisine.

Ze quote:

Eight of Tokyo's restaurants won the maximum three stars — only two fewer than Paris itself. Another 25 got two stars and 117 one star.

To add to Paris's embarrassment, three of the top eight restaurants in Tokyo serve French food. Three more offer traditional Japanese fine dining, and the other two are sushi houses.

"Tokyo is becoming the global city with the finest cuisine, the city in the world with the most stars," said Michelin guide director Jean-Luc Naret.

In other news, it turns out it is possible to clean blood off a knife with soap and water (or, preferably, bleach).

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