Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sorry About That, Gone Golfing


- It's been a prolonged absence, my apologies. A fantastic golf weekend backed up against a three-day holiday weekend back home took me away from the keyboard. This is a good thing. Four rounds of golf on beautiful northern Michigan courses does the body good. A three day weekend split between family, friends, baseball, BBQ, lakes and more golf does too.

- A brief note on the NBA Finals - Miami has no answer for Dirk. None. Dallas has something to throw at Bosh and Lebron, but they lack the perimeter D to lock up both Lebron and Wade for any stretch. Dallas will own the interior, Miami the perimeter. It's tough to make a pick because I will be rooting for zee 7-ft German, but if I were a gambling man I'd take Miami in 7.

- It's good to be back in city, Summer is on! Life is good.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Looking Forward To A Long Weekend

Is that Kendra? I believe so...

It'll be an extended absence due to some much needed time off to go golfing. No current events, work issues or customer complaints for the next few days. Just golf. Oh - and about a thousand or so of these:



Ahhhhh......

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Taj Gibson Welcomes You To The NBA Conference Finals



Hopefully you didn't miss game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday. If you did, the video highlights of the Taj Gibson's two dunks (above) are all you really need to see to know the outcome. After a tight first half, the Bulls came out of the break and completely hand-cuffed the Heat, leading to a breezy 21 point victory. It is a great start for the Bulls, they needed to come out and grab hold of the series and set the tone the way they did. D-Wade and Lebron won't be cold shooters like that every game, but getting in their head with suffocating team D will help things. As talented as they are, they've both shown weakness at times throughout the year. If the Bulls figure a way to exploit that then the series is theirs.

The Western Conference finals begin tonight and have Dallas squaring off with OKC. Both of these teams feature highly skilled point guards that can dish the rock while harboring an affinity for bad shot selection. Each roster also boasts their own versions of a 7-foot freak that handles the ball like a point guard, can run the floor and knock down jumpers from anywhere inside the arena. The biggest difference between these two teams is the age gap. For Dallas, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki are the old guard of the NBA. OKC has Bryant Westbrook and Kevin Durant - the new kids on the block. It should be an interesting subplot to see unfold, especially if OKC kills Dallas on fast break points and causes the media to become hyper-focused on the overall age of the Mav's roster causing them to ask endless age-related questions.

Overall, my NBA playoff preview predictions weren't so bad. I called 3 of the 4 Conference finalists, however my eventual championship pick got swept by the Mavs. People must have bought-in to what I said though, ratings for the playoffs are way up. At this point, I am just hoping the Bulls deliver a solid serving of embarrassment to the Heat who celebrated beating the Celtics in the second round like it was the NBA Finals.

Details Of The Bin Laden Raid Leaked

Here is the link.

Small knots of children were on every level, including the balcony of bin Laden’s room.

As three of the SEALs reached the top of the steps on the third floor, they saw bin Laden standing at the end of the hall. The Americans recognized him instantly, the officials said.

Bin Laden also saw them, dimly outlined in the dark house, and ducked into his room.

It is a compelling read.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Porn and Basketball and Libertarians - Oh My!


Sorry for any confusion over the past 24 hours, Blogger.com had some software issues that caused it to remove posts and block writers from posting anything new. I suppose that is what you get when you use a free blogging service.

A round-up of what we missed:

- Bin Laden had a porn stash. Is this that surprising considering the fact he also had 'herbal viagara'?

- The Bulls closed out the Hawks in 6 to move on to face the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. It's nice to see local writers pivot a little and pick on an easier target - way to enjoy the victory a little boys.

- Ron Paul announced another failed run for the presidency.

- Newt Gingrich had a campaign slogan recommended for him:

Gingrich 2012: He will always love America. Unless it gets cancer

 

And that is about it. Enjoy the weekend!

 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Internet Is Driven By Boobs And I Am Shamless - Thanks Pippa!


The internet is a really great thing that has advanced the way we live, created new commerce and redefined our methods of communication. One simple fact remains though - traffic is driven by boobs.

Shortly after posting the latest update on Pippa last night, traffic for this humble site went through the roof. While I'd like to think my smooth writing has drawn people in, the truth is my last post from yesterday included the following words:

Pippa
Pictures
Topless
Sunbathing

It's not magic, it's voyeurism. Post the right mix and - voila!! Traffic.

Hello to all you wandering perverts of the internets! Welcome to the site - feel free to read a thing or two outside of the Pippa links. By the way, here they are again - yes, again:

Pippa, topless while sunbathing (there is another link to them within the link) is here.
Pippa, dancing in her bra is here.

Thanks for the traffic!

The NFL Lockout - A Must Read

I'll spare you more pictures of guys in suits walking in and out of buildings.

Please go visit Deadspin and read the lovely summary of the state of the NFL lockout. It's the most entertaining thing to be produced from work stoppage I've ever read.

A highlight:
I love football. Football is pretty much what I live for, and it seems to me that only the players are interested in making football a reality this fall. So if you're somehow on the side of management in this NFL dispute, please know that you are wrong and that you are stupid and that I fucking hate you.

Nice work, Mr. Magary.

Link.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oh Pippa, Ctd

Is Pippa a closet hipster? Hmm...

Out of respect for Pippa (scoring points!) and my readers who may be at work, I'll only link to the new topless pictures released just yesterday. Remember - NSFW!

It's been quite an event filled few weeks for Ms. Middleton. Royal weddings, dancing bra party pics and now topless sunbathing pics. Of course these are all kind of run-of-the-mill occurrences when compared to my life. She could never handle the responsibilities of making her own travel arrangements, touring about the Midwest in a car to visit customers and watching television in the evenings. Hell, I'd like to see her try.

Hey, Let's Gin Up Some New Outrage


I can't say I'm surprised by these developments, but Fox News and Sarah Palin are ginning up OUTRAGE at the fact the First Lady has invited rapper Common to an event at the White House. For those that don't know, Common isn't exactly the kind of 'gangsta rapper' that would have upset impressionable old white people the way NWA or Public Enemy did in the the early 90's. He did write one song that is disagreeable to police officers, so Palin and Co figured - hey, we can't let a good opportunity to subtly use race as a divisive issue pass us by!!

As you can tell from the screen grab above, Drudge is doing his part to turn this into an actual talking point. Notice the none-too-flattering picture of Mrs. Obama. The Fox-Drudge-Talk Radio axis is impressive when it comes to creating issues out of thin air. Hammering home a miniscule detail about a musician's lyrical catalog in order to tar the First Lady and the White House displays their savvy political skill set. This particular line of attack requires a little more mental jujitsu that their previous attacks on Michelle's 'Eat Healthy' programs. However, it also exposes them as grasping for straws in light of the past few weeks the White House has enjoyed. Not that previous smears of a Kenyan birth, being a secret Muslim Manchurian Candidate or a blood thirsty Socialist out to kill your grandparents were ever arguments based in reason. But hey - if focusing on sideshows and innuendo are meant to demonstrate they're ready to lead again, they're doing a bang up job.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Unoticed News Of The Day

Note: This is not a picture of the condom from the story. This is just funny.

Hmm....this is some interesting news. Headline: Could New 'Viagra Condom' Encourage Safer Sex?


Now don't get too excited (har har), trials and regulatory approval are only taking place in the U.K. for now. Also, 'Viagra Condom' is a bit of a misleading name - the product is not designed for old farts who have lost their mojo. Instead, marketers are targeting a common excuse dudes use to side step the use of rain coats - maintaining their, er, prominence.

Hopefully our English brethren across the pond get their groove on so that the American market can have a go of it.

Michigan City Stripped of Democratic Rights

Realistic Dream Jobs Are Out There


For those of you stressing out at work - Time ran a list of the 10 least stressful jobs for 2011. It can be found here. Some highlights:

#1 Audiologist  - Well, duh. Pretty low stress environment when your clientele can't argue with what you're saying to them because they're deaf.

#2 Dietitian - "Hey fat ass - eat this, not that." I think I've got it down!

#5 Dental Hygientist - Hmm, another job where the clientele can't talk back. Except instead of deafness you get to shove sharp objects in their mouth to get them to shut up - shouldn't this be listed higher? An obvious trend of silent customers is emerging within this list.

#7 Philosopher - Huh?!? They list income at $61k and tie it to teaching or professorial work. Seems like a reach, used to fill out this list if you ask me.

#9 Mathematician - C'mon, this is just getting silly. I know when I need to relax, the first thing I do is turn to number crunching - it really soothes the soul.

#10 Chiropractor - "We don't crack backs, we make adjustments. Now please lie down so we can begin. You're going to hear a slight cracking noise..."

So if you're stressed, maybe its time for a career change to one of these exciting, stress-free fields. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to spend the next few hours surfing Monster for philosopher positions at UIC.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Oh Pippa

This news is very disappointing!

Not only is Pippa Middleton dating a cricket player, but she has been exposed for dancing in her underwear. For weeks I have been touting Pippa as the hotter sister and the one the future King missed his chance with - anyone could have landed that ice queen Kate. This totally blows my planned summer trip to London to coordinate a 'run-in' with her and sweep her off her feet.

C'mon, Pippa! Dancing in your underwear? I am so put off - how dare you not wait for me?!

And a cricket player? You should relax a bit and give American Cheese a try.

Anyway, for all you perverts out there, here is the pic of her dancing. Be still, my broken heart. You guys are sick for demanding to see this - you know that right? But I can only take so much arm twisting before I have to give in. I don't enjoy posting this one bit. Seriously.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Going For The Jugular


Wow.

The US launched it's first acknowledged drone attack within Yemen in over a year and it's target was no less than the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Make no mistake, the momentum of the Bin Laden raid is carrying American foreign policy right now.

Anwar al-Awlaki is the American-born leader of AQAP - considered the most active terror cell in the world right now. You may recognize his plots by recalling the attempted underwear bombing on a NWA flight to Detroit on Christmas Day a few years ago. 


I must say, this aggressiveness is welcome, as are the tactics. The Yemen attack, combined with the drone attack in tribal Pakistan on Friday, signal a renewed aggressiveness towards wiping out the AQ hierarchy. Obama has been escalating the use of drones within Pakistan for years, but he and his team are hitting the right buttons by pressing the issue at this particular moment.

Any action that takes advantage of our huge technological edge and does not commit 50,000-100,000 soldiers to the effort - a la Iraq and Afghanistan - is a win-win. The USA will never have more national unity behind such actions than it does right now.

An interesting twist to consider when reading these stories - how is the intelligence recovered from the Bin Laden compound playing a role in these stepped up attacks?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Part-Time Blogger and Now - Photographer

It's official, I am now a published photographer! My favorite blog, The Dish, occasionally runs a series of pictures called 'The View From Your Airplane Window'. I submitted the photo above and was published earlier this morning! Here is the link.

A little history about the photo - I took this while flying out of Portland PDX, heading back to Chicago on April 13, 2005. This is looking south down the Cascade range with Mt. Hood in the foreground. At the time I was tasked with sales coverage for the PNW on a temporary basis for my previous employer. I went for two weeks in February and then two weeks in April. After a brief pause in my travels, the company came back in December 2005 and offered me the position permanently. The rest, as they say, is history. Actually, its all history at this point.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Bulls Received Some Trophies, Continue To Win


I don't mean to deceive you with that truth telling headline, because if you tune into either local paper the narrative is much different.

The hand-wringing continues amongst the Chicago sports press.

This week at the Tribune,  all those pesky awards the Bulls earned this year had better be through getting handed out. Really, enough already. Why won't the NBA just let them concentrate on playoff basketball? Accepting awards and doing prep for the game is like walking and chewing gum - Derrick Rose isn't cut out for that!

Not to be left behind, the Sun-Times chimes in with their own animosity towards this particular squad. Did you know the last time the Bulls received both the Coach of the Year award and the MVP was 1996? Guess who that team had - Michael Jordan. Derrick Rose is no Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan won 72 games that year and was able to accept the MVP award while shooting a 3-pointer in the middle of the first quarter. None of this 'ceremony' nonsense for Michael!

Once again, these writers prove they know how to ruin a good time. Both columns were written following last night's win for Christ's sake.

The OBL Bump?

 
What a week. 

Osama Bin Laden sure knows how to suck the air out of the room. Maybe he really was the 'charismatic' leader of al-Qaeda - who knows? It's not like we could understand what he was saying. Considering the national catharsis and the several long days of digesting this monumental event, there hasn't been much else going on around the country. 

Talks of the debt ceiling and conflicting long term deficit reduction plans were quickly swept away.

The destruction from tornadoes was only a blip on the national radar.

And hey, remember when almost half the country doubted whether Obama was born in the USA?

Instead of all that, we've somehow returned to a debate about torture circa 2007, with pro-torture elements from the previous administration touting the false information obtained from water-boarding as some sort of vindication of their actions. Go ahead and brag it up if you think that's a strong position, I suppose. The rest of us will be over here in reality.

I can't say I agree with not releasing some sort of video or photographic imagery of a dead OBL. There must have been a middle ground that would have satisfied most - then again I'm happy to not be the one making that decision. The notion of not 'spiking the football' resonated with me.

What is really surprising, though, is the economic data trickling out today. Commodities finally took a hit with oil, gold and silver all retreating. The dollar surged. These are trends our manufacturers could use, stabilization of oil and other commodities would do wonders for the growth of business right now. Could the death of OBL be providing an economic bump for the country? Maybe this national sense of closure has shifted the collective thinking of the markets back into a mode of getting things done. A major cause of anxiety has been removed from our lives. Although he may have only been a symbol and his network lives on, there is no denying the pivot in our outlook as a country since Sunday. Even with al-Qaeda operatives active around the globe, taking out OBL was like knocking the golden arches down at every McDonald's restaurant. We didn't just kill Osama, we killed their brand.

It still feels good.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Torture Meme

Before a narrative of 'Enhanced interrogation tactics led to this victory' can take hold, please read this review of the facts - Andrew Sullivan piecing it together here.

Were the detainees in American custody? Yes. Were some at Guantanamo? Yes. Did torture lead to the evidence? An empirical NO.

I won't waste time repeating Andrew, but to attempt to tie this to torture and somehow spin that as something to be proud of is sick and wrong.

UPDATE - Andrew chimed in with more detail here

Monday, May 2, 2011

Educate Yourself Fool: The Bin Laden Reading Guide


I've spent a considerable amount of time consuming information on this event since last night. I thought I'd create this post as a place to house the links I found interesting to save you all the time of searching. I'll try and update as new information comes about.

Books for background:
- If you want to understand how 9/11 came about and have a better appreciation of what we pulled off on Sunday, read this. Once considered 'the bible' on background for al-Qaeda.
- This book gives a good perspective of our initial invasion of Afghanistan and how we fell short at Tora Bora. Fair warning - the author is pretty defensive.
- Dexter Filkins is an excellent author that has spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan. His work is here.
- The photographer/videographer of 'Restrepo' and for this book died last week in Libya - both the book and the movie give a good sense of the endless game we're involved in over in Afghanistan. Let's hope bin Laden's demise changes our direction there.

News Links:
The background on the raid here and here.
Did you know the code name for Osama was 'Geranimo'?
Details on the JSOC team and equipement here and here.
I guess he didn't use his wife as a human shield.
Some myths about 'The Sheik' debunked.
Photos of the compound here and here.
Video inside the compound here.
Cool photos of the Prez and National Security team watching the raid here.
This is the helicopter used.
Obama may have watched live via helmet cam. How sweet is that?
Good conscience reflection of initial reactions here.
Dexter Filkins weighs in on Pakistan here.
Author of the Looming Tower weighs in here.
They scored a lot of data and computers too.
Great coverage overall here.
They better release photos. Did the birthers teach them nothing?

5/3/11 Updates
Story on Abbottabad here.
Column from Ali Soufan, a true cog in the intelligence wheel and major character in 'The Looming Tower', is here.
More notes on the Special Ops evolution here and here.

Target: Geranimo

 
What a flood of emotions and memories this country has experienced since late Sunday evening.

I immediately found myself back in front of the 24-hour news channels in the same way we all were that Tuesday in early September 2001. Text messages, tweets, emails and phone calls flowed in a manner that I can't recall since that day either. This is a huge moment for this country and for many people more directly involved it provides a sense of closure I can't begin to understand.

Let me state that the pursuit of Osama bin Laden had held my imagination and attention for quite some time. Over the years, my belief that we'd ever find him began to wane and the possibility of this event began to escape the realm of what I thought to be reality. Last night's news floored me with unexpected emotion - a mix of astonishment, satisfaction, pride and wonder.

Thinking back to 9/11/01, I remember exactly where I was as I'm sure most every American old enough does. A third year sophomore at MSU, I was working my regular Tuesday morning 8-12 roofing shift. We had to stop by Administration to do a roof check before heading to the Old Horticulture building to button-up some work that was on-going there. On the walk out from the Admin building, the two-way radio crackled with a message from another of the roofers, "a plane crashed into the World Trade Center, crazy shit!". It didn't really register that it could be an attack or even a commercial jet - we all shrugged it off as sad but random news. By the time we were on the Old Hort roof we were getting more panicked updates over the radio about a second airliner into the WTC and another at the Pentagon. It wasn't long before we were in front of the nearest TV experiencing history.

There are funny things to consider when you compare 2001 to today. Back then I didn't speak to my parents until after my shift was over and news only got to me as quickly as it did because I worked with two-way radios. Cell phones were just spreading at that point, email was computer based only and texting was completely out of the picture. Last night, my iPad scooped live television with confirmation of bin Laden's death via an automated news alert as I furiously texted as many people as I could to get them to turn their TV's on. The whole chain reaction began with a text from a friend to give me a heads-up. The speed of information is an amazing thing now, making the secrecy and execution of the mission pulled off in Pakistan all the more miraculous.

The target of Sunday's mission has affected the lives of ordinary Americans more than any other modern figure. The TSA, Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, the Afghan War, the Iraqi War and 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques' can all be tied to him. Anyone in high school or the early stages of college today likely don't know what its like to have someone waiting for you at the gate as you step out of the tunnel leading away from the the airplane. Guzzling your water ahead of security while simultaneously fumbling for your laptop, taking off your belt and tripping to take your shoes off is regular procedure for them - not something they keep waiting to be rolled back. On the whole, the acts of bin Laden caused America to abandon some of the very freedoms that set us apart in pursuit of him and al-Qaeda. Hopefully his demise will allow for some national catharsis and a path towards more sober security procedures within our airports and surveillance apparatus.

I've written it before and will reiterate it here, I am full of pride and express my congratulations to CIA, JSOC and all other branches of intelligence and military involved since October 2001 when we first set foot in Afghanistan. The details of the mission are truly exceptional and sound like they're out of a Tom Clancy novel. Congratulations to the President for making the call to execute this specific mission and to reassert the American effort towards killing bin Laden back in early 2009.

Osama bin Laden's final actions should give his mythology a significant blow. A man that spent decades coercing and training others for suicide missions reportedly used his wife as a shield as Navy SEALS stormed his $1 Million dollar Pakistani compound. He resided not in a cave amidst the jihad he inspired, but nestled in an affluent retirement community for Pakistani military officials. The widespread myth of a special team of bodyguards that were told to shoot him rather than let him be taken also proved to be false. The location and details of his final hiding place put his narrative back in line with it's wealthy beginnings. Privileged, sometimes spoiled and always playing warrior, it may have been a fitting conclusion. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he met his end tasting American lead.

Gloat Of The Day

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Justice


It's taken just short of a decade to pull off, but Osama bin Laden has been brought to justice. US Navy SEALS stormed a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed bin Laden in a fire fight. They also recovered his corpse which is crucial for proof in a Muslim world rife with conspiracy.

Congratulations to CIA, JSOC and other branches of the military that have dedicated their service to this goal. This is a victory for them and for America tonight.

More thoughts tomorrow, but I am excited to hear more about this amazing raid and the details around it. Tonight, we celebrate and bask in a sense of accomplishment.