Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thoughts of the day

For future Columbia ROTC cadets and midshipmen, what is the definition of leather? If the fresh skin of an animal, cleaned and divested of all hair, fat, and other extraneous matter, be immersed in a dilute solution of tannic acid, a chemical combination ensues; the gelatinous tissue of the skin is converted into a nonputrescible substance, impervious to and insoluble in water; this is leather.

More about future Columbia midshipmen (and cadets). CNAS's Keeping the Edge: Revitalizing America's Military Officers Corps, AEI's UNDERSERVED A Case Study of ROTC in New York City, and Navy's A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower. Maybe look up this guy, a Columbia grad.

Killing Osama bin Laden and the lawfare of outlaws. Lawfare is an application of Saul Alinsky's guidance to radicals to "make the enemy live up to its own book of rules" with the implicit understanding the enemy's rules don't constrain the radicals. The claim by Omar bin Laden that the U.S. broke international law when we killed his dad, Osama, is an interesting challenge for International Law. Omar advances the frame that his father was an alleged criminal who should have been protected by criminal justice standards, and arrested for trial rather than killed. He calls on the United Nations to hold the United States accountable for murder. The American position is that bin Laden was an illegal combatant who was killed lawfully during a military, not a law enforcement, operation. The fundamental tension in International Law is the exigency of sovereign politics versus the pursuit of a world order where every international legal person (nation, organization, or individual) is subject to international law without exception. National or municipal law is tempered by real considerations whereas international law is theoretical and ideological. Customary international law has steadily encroached on the formerly inviolable ground of sovereignty and I'm sure many international lawyers with dreams of becoming the litigator who definitively established the supremacy of a "just world order" based on international law over national sovereignty are enthusiastically willing to take on bin Laden's case. The bin Laden killing is the ultimate test case to make the ultimate sovereign nation submit to international law for the "extrajudicial" killing of the ultimate person-who-deserved-to-die. I predict this story won't die quietly; in a legal culture that cares more about holding no one above the law than stopping the threats that operate outside the law, the U.S. could lose the case if bin Laden's legal personality is determined to be criminal rather than combatant. My take: As Judge Higgins told us last summer, what is legal doesn't always seem right and what seems right is not always legal. I'm with John Yoo and John Bolton on this issue. If it comes down to it, I would love to volunteer for the legal team that defends the U.S. from the UN's legal myopia and the lawfare of bin Laden's heirs.

Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island of Saturday Night Live fame are pretty good. They're not as funny as short-lived MTV parody hip-hop act Scratch & Burn but are perhaps more technically proficient. Check out "Lazy Sunday" which was partly filmed in my neighborhood.

Recent TV commercials with emasculating portrayals of Asian males. The socially retarded Asian guy treated like an immature child by the hip spokesgirl in the T Mobile 4G commercial and the Asian guy toiling anonymously in the background while a pregnant Asian woman with her white husband speak with Flo in the foreground of the Progressive commercial.

What a stupid trade by Danny Ainge. The trade shocked NBA observers when it happened and the mortal damage Ainge caused to his team was obvious. Bill Simmons explained the harmful effect of the Perkins-Green trade on the Celtics' special team chemistry and post-season chances. Before the trade, the team relied heavily on their continuity. Celtics players and coaches knew exactly who they were, how they fit together, how long this particular team had to compete for the championship, and the meaning of this season. Danny Ainge collapsed the Celtics' 2010-11 season by overthinking himself into a trade that ripped the soul out of the team and proved to be a complete failure in the post-season.

After Dwyane Wade busted Rondo's arm, Rajon Rondo impressed with his toughness like Glen Davis did last year and kept playing, but predictably, the Heat went after Rondo's injured arm and eventually knocked him out of the elimination game. Without Rondo at his best, the Celtics didn't have a chance to beat the Heat. The Heat proved their championship mettle by proving they understand that champions must be able and willing to play dirty when talent, skill, and execution aren't enough to win.

Bill Simmons says good-bye to Phil Jackson with Simmons's typical intuitive insight. Yes, if he had clairvoyant foresight, Phil Jackson could have left coaching last year on the high of winning his 11th championship. But when it comes to doing something you love, I support leaving on the downslide, like Michael Jordan on the Wizards. We only get one life. It's better to leave knowing for sure you're done rather than wonder if you could have squeezed out one more opportunity to do what you love. A second-round series sweep with a 36-point blow-out loss in the elimination game, and two of his players taking cheap shots to finish the game can't tarnish the unequaled legacy Jackson earned in his career as an NBA coach.

Kevin Durant has an offensive game that can lead the NBA in scoring in the regular season, but lacks the power, moves, and toughness needed to reliably lead his team as the alpha dog in the post-season. He doesn't get separation from defenders which results in a lot of foul shots in the regular season, but turn into many rushed off-balance shots against superior defenses and more permissive officiating in the post-season. Durant's offensive game reminds me a lot of a young Dirk Nowitizki - elite mid-range and 3-point shooter, superior off-the-dribble skills for their size, but lack of strength and poor post-up game that allows smaller defenders to take away their shooting space. When the team leader, the player the team is built around and relies upon, can't deliver reliably in the post-season, he caps the competitive potential of the team. Durant is like Vince Carter in that regard. Durant's strong regular season but weak post-season makes Russell Westbrook's job extra difficult. Westbrook is a strong post-season scorer but as the Thunder point guard, he gets blamed for Durant's weak post-season performance. Either Durant needs to figure out how to be a post-season leader or the Thunder need to fully transfer the alpha-dog scorer role to Westbrook in the post-season. If the Thunder can do neither, I'd recommend for Westbrook to leave the team or else he'll continue to take blame for Durant's post-season shortcomings. Another option is to give control of the ball to James Harden, who emerged in these play-offs as the next-generation Manu Ginobili (unlike Ginobili pretenders Rudy Fernandez and Marco Belinelli). The younger Nowitzki improved on the weaknesses that the play-offs exposed - it remains to been whether Durant will follow the same championship path.

Reminiscing blog post by a Stuy 92 grad.

The Village Voice updates the tragic story of a Stuy 98 grad, Eric Bellucci, who killed his parents. It appears that Kendra's Law failed Eric and his family.

I wonder if I should start using the label/tag function to help searches.

Maximalist. Apocalyptic. Millennial. Any others?

El Tango de Roxanne from 2001's Moulin Rouge, featuring Jacek Koman as The Narcoleptic Argentinean. The movie musical really needs to be adapted into a stage musical and performed on Broadway.


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