Sunday, October 31, 2004

Trick or treat
Smell my feet
Give me something good to eat

Here are pix of our Jack-o-lanterns this year. M made a likeness of Shrek and I did a self-portrait. Whaddya think?

Halloween was one of my favorite days when I was a kid. The Onigiriman family was never very rich, and things like soda, chips, and cookies were extranvagances that I enjoyed on special occasions, like someone's birthday party or dinner at a relative's house. I remember once being invited to a classmate's house for lunch--no special occasion--and we had pizza, potato chips and soda. I was completely puzzled. What was the occasion, I wondered.

"Is today special?" I asked my friend's mother.

"Yes, of course. You came over to play."

I was stunned, but when she smiled at me, I realized that she was just being nice. Yet, for that brief moment, I felt so special. In that split second I thought the pizza and soda gods were smiling at me finally.

Anyway, treats of any sort were special at home. We weren't living off of bread and water. We ate adequately, three square meals a day. But no extracurricular eats at my place, one of the major reasons why few of my friends wanted to come over to play. So you can imagine how I felt on Halloween. I would get my large brown paper grocery bag, and canvas my neighborhood collecting as much candy as I could. This was my only chance to stock up and enjoy candy at home. I would gorge on butter toffee candy, Abba-zabbas, lemon drops, taffy, much to the chagrin of my mother. All she could do was remind me to brush my teeth, which I would do but then sneak another piece of candy or two before going to sleep. And not brush. A recipe for dental cavitites... But it was worth it for me.

In elementary school, we would always have Halloween parties. We would wear costumes, play games, draw pictures, read stories like Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. In fifth grade, I bobbed for apples for the very first time, getting pointers from some of the girls. Apparently, you had to force the apple down to the bottom or toward the side of the tub, pin it and then take a bite. Of course, I was paying less attention to their explanation and more to their strange affect on me. These were the same girls I had been growing up with since kindergarden, but for some reason they began to stir something in me. I finally figured out what it was when I reached the seventh grade.

Well, that's not really true, I figured it out in the sixth grade, but couldn't really do anything about it until the seventh. By then, games and stories wouldn't do it for Halloween. Fortunately, we were invited to a class dance with the eighth graders. The guys were a fountain of information for us young men. They helped us understand our vague curiousity, allowing us to hone in on our desires, all the while making us hornier by the minute. Certainly by today's standards, we were pretty innocent, but we talked about kissin--using tongues--and the proper technique of "feeling up" a girl. We learned how to tell the difference between real breasts and Kleenex. One guy, an hornery sort, would make it a point to spill water on girls whom he had determined were using tissue to fill up B cups--he believed in "truth in advertising" and wanted to force them to take 'em out.

We also learned the art of "high stepping". This is the technique used while slow dancing. You move your right leg between the girls legs and rub up against her with your thigh. This was to ellicit a reaction--any reaction--from the girl. This also ellicited a reaction from me as well: as you all know, the most sensitive bundle of nerves for 13 year old boys is located in the thigh just above the knee. I remember dancing with a few girls, fine tuning my "knee" step, and realizing how easy it was to distinguish between real and Kleenex enhanced breasts--they're usually harder...

Needless to say, my seventh and eight grade Halloweens were memorable. There was candy and cookies on the table, but for a growing, naive kid like me, the treats were on the dance floor.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

No second half melt down... so far

Final: Stanford 0 UCLA 21

Yup, that's the right score. The Bruins shut out the Stanford Cardinal--in case you're wondering, there is no "s" after Cardinal like the St. Louis Cardinals. The Stanford name is not a bird, it's a color, a name that took political correctness to the Nth degree when they replaced their old name, the Indians. Anyway, the Stanford offense is pretty high powered, and even though their QB was a bit beat up from a shoulder hit last week, a shut out is still pretty impressive against this team.

* * *

We play Stanford University today. I went to both of these schools so many ask me who I root for. Well, the answer is pretty easy. UCLA. I was a Bruin fan way before I even went there, so the loyalty to the team is not only based on the fact that I went toe the school. Of course, when Stanford plays other schools, I will root for them almost as fervently... Almost...

Stanford has a quarterback that is young and incredibly good. To bad he wasn't with the Bruins. Olson is a good kid, but a poor quarterback. I think he is pretty smart, but he cannot throw consistently. So often he will under throw the ball or pass behind the receiver. The results can be awful: Incompletions or sometimes interceptions. Olson's passing yards and completion ratio are deceptive. The Bruins have talented receivers, and they often make great catches on balls thrown behind them.

Vote 2004

Well there are only three more days left. I need for this election to be over with. It's driving me crazy.

But I will watch my football games today and not think about it for the next ten hours or so.

Xanga ettiqutte

I apologize for not going to everyone's site. I have often said, you gotta give 'em to get 'em. That is for me to expect comments I have to give em. But I have been receiving without reciprocating, and I feel rather bad about it. Well, i will try to get to your sties soon. This damn election and school work--which seems to be getting worse and worse--is killing me. But I promise I will try to make time this weekend to visit as many of you as possible... in between grading my Advanced Japanese quizzes and the Pillow Book creative assignments... and hopefully the letters of recommendations I have staring me in the face... and finishing the syllabus for a course next semester I have never taught before... and the program newsletter... and carving a pumpkin for Sunday (that's M and Yoda, last years Jack-o'-lantern)... Aaargh! I'm glad we return to regular time this weekend. It will give me one extra hour... Every little bit helps.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Daily Show...


hope everyone realizes that yesterday's comments were tongue in cheek. I did not mean to dis Canada. I love Canada--even though I've only been there once. It wasn't me, it was President Bush doing the dissing... But I shouldn't make excuses. I was just trying to make a point with a bit sarcasm, a little like Jon Stewart of the Daily Show. Yes, I watch too much TV. Actually, thanks to the presidential election, I'm watching far more TV than I normally would. I don't usually watch politcal talking heads spewing their opinions about this or that. But the record of the current president has gotten me thinkng far more than I would like. So now, I try to get as much information as possible: TV, newspapers, the Internet.

Anyway, I was watching The Daily Show on Comedy Central last night and they showed clips from President Bush's rally today in Michigan. Stewart takes excerpts--many times out of context--and cracks jokes. I realize they are jokes, so I don't usually take hims seriously, even though they are funny. But yesterday's show made some points that piqued my interest so I did a search and found excerpts of Bush's speech on the Internet. At Thursday's rally in Michigan, he made it a point to rebut Kerry's assertion of Bush blew it when he allowed 380 tons of explosives disappear... He accused Kerry of making "wild charges" about the missing explosives and of "denigrating the actions'' of troops in the field.

Hmmm... Well, I don't think Kerry was denigrating the troops. As anyone who has been watching or reading the news and has a modicum of intelligence knows--whether you agree with him or not--Kerry is criticizing the president and not accusing the troops. Bush is trying desperately to deflect criticism targeted at him toward the troops. Now really, how pathetic is that? Besides, Kerry doesn't have to accuse the troops of anything. Bush supporter and all around nice guy, former NY Mayor Giuliani, is doing it for him. In an attempt to criticize Kerry for blaming President Bush for the disappearance of the explosives in Iraq, he said on NBC's Today show--and I quote:

No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?

Hahahahahah. What a joke. Can you believe what he said? I think he had a cranial melt down because the Yankees lost four straight the the Red Sox.

Continuing his thought--well, if you could call it thinking--Bush seized on something said by Kerry advisor, Richard C. Holbrooke, who admitted that not all the facts are in on the whereabouts of the missing explosives.

One of his top foreign policy advisors admits he doesn't know the facts. He said, 'I don't know the truth.' End quote. Well, think about that. The senator is denigrating the actions of our troops and commanders in the field without knowing the facts.... This investigation is important and it's ongoing, and a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief.

Hmmm.... someone who "jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief." Who jumped to the conclusion that there were WMDs in Iraq without knowing the facts? Who insisted that that there was a link between Hussein and al Qaeda by making faulty assumptions?

Well, Bush is absolutely right, I wouldn't want a commander in chief like that. Would you?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Kudos to the BoSox...


know that there were a lot of skeptical people, but after they beat the Yankers four in a row, I knew they were going to win the world series. I mean, we're talking about a feat that has NEVER been done in baseball history. So when the Red Sox did it, you know they had something special. So congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, baseball World Champions.

In other developments...

Flu Cruise...


lu season will soon be on us. I think it is imperative to get a flu shot. I hate getting the flu. Then I heard on TV last night that in Seattle, someone is running a "flu cruise". For $105, you can get on a ferry to Victoria Island or Vancouver, cross national boundaries at sea, and receive Canadian flu shots. This is outrageous. Don't these people know how dangerous Canadian pharmeceutical products can be?!?

In the second debate, Bush questioned Canadian drugs.

QUESTIONER: Mr. President, why did you block the reimportation of safer and inexpensive drugs from Canada which would have cut 40 to 60 percent off of the cost?

BUSH: I haven't yet. Just want to make sure they're safe. When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you.

Bush said we need to check the pharmaceuticals being imported to the US to protect the people. This suggests that there is a high degree of possibility of contamination. I guess Bush really is concerned about protecting the nation. You know, there are all kinds of terrorists working in Canadian pharmaceutical companies. Of course, if that isn't what he's talking about, then isn't he kinda insulting our neighbors to the north by suggesting that their drugs need to be tested by us? That we don't trust them? to the point where we cannot import them? Or is it just a ruse to protect the pharmeceutical companies?

In the debate, Bush and Cheney gave Kerry and Edwards a lot of grief about them not respecting the Iraqis because of their statements of US involvement/casualties in Iraq which did not include Iraqi soldiers. While Kerry and Edwards were referring to the multinational group of soldiers sans Iraqis, Bush-Cheney misrepresented them by insisting they disregarded the sacrifices of the Iraqis.

But forget about misrepresentation. What about the 50 Iraqi soldier trainees who died over the weekend. These are soldiers under US training. Why were they not adequately protected? Is it not the responsibility of the US military to protect them in a dangerous area while they are still in training? Is this not an insult to the Iraqi? An insult that far exceeds anything Kerry might have said?

I must admit that I don't consider Kerry the best of options, but I'm willing to give him a chance. 20 years in the Senate must count for something. I already know what Bush can do, I don't need to be convinced any further...

Monday, October 25, 2004

Rainy Days and Mondays...


ctually, it's not raining, but it is Monday, the beginning of another week. It is now officially the 9th week of the semester, which means there are seven more weeks to go. One of the perks of being a teacher is the joy of looking forward to vacation. Of course, since I teach summer school, it is rather pointless. But still, teaching summer school is more laid back than the regular semester. And I still look forward to other long breaks, including winter break and spring break.

Officially, I should be working on my research or course prep for the following semester, but, hey, I still get to take time off, and my time is my own so I can schedule things the way I want it. In any event, 7 more weeks till finals and then winter break! Yahoo! I love being on the backside of the semester.

Thanks for the input.

I changed yesterday's comics a bit, consolidating a variety of the ideas offered. Thanks, guys. I knew I could count on you. See below for the new version...

On Xanga, lately, I've been kinda sidetracked. I know that I have some senryu to judge--yes, I haven't forgotten--and I want to continue my reminiscences of my summer vacation back in 1965. But school has kept me busy, and the presidential election has motivated me to express my opinions like no other election in recent memory. I am tempted to write more, but I don't want to talk about Swift Boats or Sinclair Television or the Backdoor Draft or Dan Rather or Voter Fraud or any number of other topics related to this election. But I will say that you should all vote. I don't care who you are voting for. I just hope that everyone looks at all the facts, the records and the positions and votes in an informed fashion.

I hope I don't have to stand in line too long...

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Comic Challenge


know, I'm actually supposed to be pretty busy grading papers and preparing for our in-class poetry match. But I get bored so easily. So I decided to try something I've been thinking about for a while: an Onigiriman comic. I'm no comic writer, nor am I an artist. But I thought I'd try it anyway, just of the heck of it.

So here's my first one, but I don't have a punch line.

I thought of: "I don't have anything to write." But that was pretty lame. Then I thought: "I lose my concentration." But that was lamer. I tried to come up with something wittier, like: "I always get thrown for a loss." But that was simply pathetic. I even thought: "I can't reach the keyboard." While funny, it doesn't make sense... So I came up with another idea. I'd have to say that many--if not all--of my readers are wittier than I am.

So can you come up with a good punchline?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Praying for no melt down

Final: UCLA 42 ASU 48

Update--The Bruins' QB sucks. Drew Olson is just not the guy, He underthrows too often and throws behind his receiver. His stats are deceiving because all the receivers are catching balls behind their backs. He threw three interceptions today, one when they were in the red zone, antoher that put ASU in their red zone, which they converted into a touch down. Take those two away and the Bruins win.

Excuse me while I go sulk....

* * *

plays the Arizona State Sun Devils today. Another team that lost to USC the previous week and is dying to prove that they are better. Great. ASU is ranked #22, so there is a good chance that we'll get another ass whoopin' as we did last week at the hands of Cal. I will keep my fingers crossed and my hopes high...

Today there is a Korean colloquium on education sponsored by a colleague of mine and so I am more or less obliged to go... on a Saturday. As if I didn't have other things to do in my life, like grading or exercising or grocery shopping. Now that I have to shift these responsibilities to tonight or Sunday, I can't partake in my single weekend luxury and stress-reliever: Watching football... Anyway, I'll be back. Later, I think...

So, what are you doing this weekend? Whatever it is, have a great time.

Andropause vs. Midlife Crisis


ome of the comments I received the other day suggested that a few are confusing andropause--male menopause--with a midlife crisis. If only it were that simple. *sigh* As I mentioned previously, andropause is a reduction in testosterone, that hormone that gives us the energy and will to go out and hunt and gather. Of course, in the 21st century, it takes much less energy to hunt for Hormel ham or gather Dole bananas, leading to weight issues... but that's another post.

In any event, andropause is a biological event that leads to lethargy, depression and lowered libido--something that bums me out even further. But a midlife crisis is--as I understand it--strictly psychological, usually triggered by a sudden change in circumstances. This change, of course, is not so sudden; it just feels like it. It is really the change in circumstances we all experience everyday. But when a male reaches his 40s and 50s, he comes to the realization that he's either running out of time to achieve his goals, or he has no more "tangible" goals left because, interestingly enough, he's had a successful career--in other words this affects virtually every male on the planet. In either case, the man tries to transform himself with the trappings of yout--a sports car, a young mistress--in an attempt, unconscious or not, to rekindle the fire that used to be in his belly.

I have lots of goals that I still need to accomplish and so should be experiencing this midlife crisis, but I don't really feel it. Perhaps it is my profession. I am always surrounded by young people. Every year, I coddle my 20 to 22 year-old students, watch them graduate and then the following year, I get a new bunch. While the discrepancy in years between us grows, I still feel young. I'm not as hip as I'd like to think I am--I don't know any of the music anymore--but still, I can hang with them and have a good time, in class and out. And still maintain, to a degree, a sense of teacher-student separation. Damn, being a teacher is good. It is certainly better than working in an office where your bosses and peers get older and gray with you, and the young people who come in are usually afer you job.

And yet, this may not necessarily be good. Since I don't feel the crisis, I lack the urgency to acheive my goals, perhaps one of the leading causes to procrastination? I need to light a fire under my butt to get me going.

Anyone gotta match?

Note: I am not a medical doctor and so everything I've written here is the opinion of a layman, and carries no more weight than my farts. Well, if you ask my son, he'd probably tell you my farts weigh more, given the sensory overoad his olfactory senses experiences when I laugh too hard and lose my concentration.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bosox beat Yankees!


he game was too much to ignore. I couldn't watch it at home in a vacuum. M enjoys sports and will watch any game with me. But I needed to see this game with others who understood its historic significance. So we went to our local watering hole to watch the game. The place was packed and it was fun to scream and root with other sports fans. When Ortiz hit the two run homer in the first, everyone was cheering, but when Johnny Damon hit that grand slam in the second inning, the place erupted. By the eight inning, we all revelled in a few choruses of:

Who's your daddy *CLAP-CLAP clap-clap-clap*
Who's your daddy *CLAP-CLAP clap-clap-clap*

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Yanker fans--those hornery, no class buffoons--have been screaming this chant at the Redsox and specficially Pedro Martinez all season long. Yanker fans felt it appropriate when Pedro lost to them in New York. Adding fuel to the flame, Curt Schilling said he wanted to shut the fans up in New York, and when he couldn't do it in the first game of the series, the Yanker fans began the same chant. But Boston got the last laugh. And it was a privilege to join in. God, who wouldn't love to dog pile the Yankers?

Anyway, this victory was HUGE. In a best of seven series, no team in baseball has ever lost the first three games and come back to win. (I think it happened once in basketball? I remember hearing something like that but I'm unsure. Anybody know?) I mean, seriously, if a team is dominant enough to win three in a row, then it is unlikely for them to lose four in a row to the same team. So this feat, in and of itself, is amazing. But on top of that, it's a Redsox-Yanker game. These two are bitter rivals and while I'm not a Bosox fan per se, I am a Dodger fan. And as the adage goes, an enemy of my enemy is my friend.

In any case, the Yankers, having lost four in a row after winning the first three in a best of seven series, are now official members of the Hall of Shame as the biggest chokers of all time. At this moment in the Onigiriman time-space contiuum, all is right with the world. Peace reigns and love abounds. It is as if history has come full circle, and everything is perfect. Go Bosox. This is your year. If you guys don't reverse the curse of the Bambino this year, you never will...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004



m pushing the upper limits of middle-age and I find myself a little lost. Yes, we all get a little lost from time to time--I don't want to finish my paper, I don't know what to wear on my date, I can't stay on my diet, blah, blah, blah. But seriously, I can't seem to focus very much these days and find my self procrastinating to no end.

Am I going through some sort of depression? Maybe it's the so-called mid-life crisis? M suggested that it might be menopause. Menopause? Hmmm, isn't that a female thing? The pausing of the mestrual cycle? But M said maybe men get it too. So like an idiot, I google "male menopause". And what do I find? Apparently, it's an actual physical phenomenon. It's also called Andropause and is marked by ;a reduction of the male hormone, testosterone. It's symptoms:

The symptoms of male menopause are similar to the ones women experience and can sometimes be as overwhelming. However, the male menopause does not affect all men, at least not with the same intensity. Approximately 40 % of men between 40 and 60 will experience some degree of lethargy, depression, increased irritability, mood swings, hot flushes, insomnia, decreased libido, weakness, loss of both lean body mass and bone mass (making them susceptible to hip fractures) and difficulty in attaining and sustaining erections (impotence). (From: Andrology)

Lethargy? Depression? Increased irritablility? Mood swings? Difficulty in attaining and sustaining erections?!? Crap! And here I thought it was just an age thing... Well, this is not a medical diagnosis. It is my own interpretation of my condition and isn't worth a hill o' beans. So what do I do to make myself feel better?


Sorta. It's nice to know that most of my subscribers read my site, and having my share of subscribers is nice. Also I just found out that the Onigiriman blogring has hit 50. And just to set the record straight, I did not start the blogring. Even I don't have the cajones to do something that narcissistic. It was started by a UCLA kōhai--Thanks girl! And 50 blogring members is not too bad, I suppose, making me feel a bit loved, which alleviates, to a degree, the lethargy, depression, irritability, and mood swings I experience. Now, if it could only take care of that last symptom on the list. *sigh* Oh well, a guy can dream, can't he?

Bosox win three in a row


kay, I will admit it to the world. I hate the Yankers. As a born Dodger fan, it is my birthright to hate the Yankers to no end. They are evil incarnate. I can't believe that a good guy like Jow torre would go there to manage. I simply can't believe it. It is the home of money grubbers and fame seekers. Heading the list, of course, is the owner George Steinbrenner. But the list is long with villains who just as bad: Reggie Smith, Tommy John, Billy Martin, Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens (both former Bosoxer! Traitors!), Roger Clemens, Dave Winfield, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi. Aaaaargh. I hate these guys. I hate them more than the Giants...

Anyway, the Boston Redsox were down three games to none in a best of seven series, and I figure they were dead. But now they've won three in a row and the rubber match is tonight! Can you imagine if Boston wins tonight? It would be the most dramatic choke in HISTORY. No, no, no, it will be beyond history.

Anyway, lets pray for a Bosox victory!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004



or the past few weeks, a large number of my posts have been about the presiential candidates and the debates. I am normally pretty apolitical. But the war in Iraq has stirred my feelings of citizenship. When the US first went into Iraq with shock and awe, I was in LA to attend my mothers memorial service. My feeling then was that it was the wrong thing to do, but I said little as I wanted to trust our president's decision.

But as we all know now, his reasons for invading Iraq--WMDs, terrorist connections--have proven to be incorrect, and I can't help express my disapproval now. This is, of course, my opinion. And everyone else is entitled to their own. But please, if you're goning to leave a dissenting comment on my page, could you be a little more succinct. In my comments of the last debate, CaptainGaijin provided me with this insightful one-word opinion:


Gee, how heartfelt, strong, and resolute. Just like our President. Pixie125, using a few more words, suggests that Kerry lies as much as Bush and is unrealistic in his plans to get us out of this crisis. Now, I provide evidence to support my opinions. I wish you would provide evidence to back up yours, otherwise your words are just empty accusations. Just like our President. But Pixie's point is interesting. While accusing Kerry of falsehoods, she recognizes that the President has an equal share of falsehoods as well.

Which bring me to my next point: Kerry's falsehoods. I'm not sure what Pixie was referring to, but I do know that there are many who point to the Swiftboat Veterans' accusations when calling Kerry a liar, a man unfit for duty. I truly hope that none of my readers count themselves among these people. Bush supporters pointing to the Swiftboat ads would be like me pointing to Michael Moore's "Farenheit 9/11" and saying, "see!" That is laughable. I am not gullible, and you shouldn't be either, so I hope that everyone does their homework. Everyone should look into the records of each candidate. What did they do? What did they say? Please don't be led around by your nose like cattle. Read the newspapers, watch the news. When I pointed out Bush's untruth/memory lapse in the last debate about not being very concerned about bin Laden, I left a link to the very press conference when he made this statement. And the transcripts are not from some left wing liberal site like The Nation, but on the President's own So, yeah, I look for information to understand and confirm things I hear and read.

Now, Capt.Gaijin and Pixie may be well informed, but I think you will agree that by not articulating a point well, one may ultimately look uninformed, or worse look like they are simply following whatever crowd he/she finds him/herself in...

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Just being me...


or the past few weeks, a large number of my posts have been about the presiential candidates and the debates. I am normally pretty apolitical. But the war in Iraq has stirred my feelings of citizenship. I realize that not many are interested in what I have to say--I don't get a lot of comments--but say it I must. It's who I am.

I also write about sports a lot. During the fall, my attention is preoccupied by the UCLA Bruins. It's not only my alma mater, but a team that I have followed since I was a wee lad. Win or lose, I can't help but think about them. M also roots desperately for the Bruins. The other day, she told me why: When the Bruins lose, my mood sours and I brood a lot. I talk about other baseball as well, the sport I loved as a kid. When I talk about these topics, I get the fewest number of comments.

I also, occasionally, talk about racism and what it's like being a Japanese/Asian American. This is a touchy topic and as a result, I get relatively few comments on these as well. It is too bad as it is a topic I feel passionate about.

I seem to get the most comments when I'm sick or I talk about my own personal past, which isn't all that often. What is puzzling to me is the fact that I have reached 200 subscribers recently. This is a minor milestone for some Xangans, but for me, it is pretty amazing. Thanks to all of you who subscribe. But I often wonder... Given the dearth of comments--a reflection of how many people actually read this site--how did I manage this?

Hmmm... Well, it really shouldn't matter. If this is truly a log of my life, a journal, then I should write about what I want to write without concern to comments or visitors--which is one of the reasons why I discontinued e-props. But still, being the narcissistic person I am, I still wonder... So in an attempt to comprehend this situation, how about a informal poll?

Which of my entries do you enjoy reading the most? Stories of my past? Entries of my day-to-day existence? Tidbits about Japan? Senryu? Talking narcissistically about myself (y'know, like lists and personal reviews)? Anything else I'm not aware of? Just curious. I feel sometimes that I have lost my way on Xanga. I originally started this Xanga site to talk about J literature, but I seem to have strayed away from this...

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Final: UCLA 21 Cal 45

plays big brother today, Cal Berkeley. Cboy said that my boys in powder blue are going get whooped. While I hate to admit it, he may be right. The Bruins have been winning, but they've also played against inferior teams. A 4-1 record is pretty good, given the low expectations of the all the pundits. But still, none of the teams are close to Cal's caliber. Man coach Tedford at Cal must be some freakin' genius. He has turned around that program in three years. Cal was pretty much the doormat of the Pac 10 for years, but now the Golden Bears are roaring prety furiously...

Cal has perhaps the best offense in the Pac 10 if not the best in the country--even thought they lost to SC last week. Cal leads the Pac-10 in rushing at 247.8 yards per game and is second in the nation in total offense at 510.3 yards per. Great. And the Bruin defense? What defense? UCLA is 115th of 117 Division I-A teams against the run, allowing 250 yards a game. The Bruins also rank last in the conference and 91st in the nation in total defense, giving up 415.4 yards a game. This is not a good match up.

But that doesn't mean that I've thrown in the towel before the first punch is thrown. I have hope, slim as it may be. What else can a fan do? And it has nothing to do with the New York Times football ranking which has UCLA ranked higher than Cal.

Say what?

Yes that's right. The NYT ranks UCLA at 18 and Cal at 25. I always thought the Times was one of the most respected papers in the nation. I may have to readjust my opinion. They either have a UCLA partisan manipulating the computer ranking formula, or they have a monkey doing it.

The reason for my optimism is the Bruins improved offense. Last year, the Bruins sucked major in offense, it was--if you will pardon the pun, offensive. Last year, in 13 games, they ran for 1,195 yards for a 92 yards per game average with 11 touchdowns, Thins year in only 5 games, my boys in blue have rushed for more yards (1,207) for an average 2 and a half times greater (241.4) and the same number of touchdowns (11). And Olson, the QB, is no superstar but he is adequate and is beginning to master the system they have implemented--the West Coast Offense.

So, as I see it, the best way to approach this game is to keep Cal's offense off the flield by keeping our offense on. That would be the best defense for a team that has none.

Go Bruins!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Final Comments...


n the debates. I didn't major in polisci, and I'm no political analyst, in case, er, you couldn't tell. Hehehehhe... But I have my opinions and this political race between Bush and Kerry has stirred my civic juices. Hence, my comments. Although born and raised a Republican, I consider myself truly independent now, independent of the jargon and rhetoric of either parties. And in spite of what you may think, I am one of those honest to goodness undecided voters.

Well, until Wednesday night...

At the third debate, President Bush avoided a number of questions.

SCHIEFFER: Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

BUSH: You know, Bob, I don't know. I just don't know. I do know that we have a choice to make in America and that is to treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity. It's important that we do that. And I also know in a free society people, consenting adults can live the way they want to live. And that's to be honored.

But as we respect someone's rights, and as we profess tolerance, we shouldn't change -- or have to change -- our basic views on the sanctity of marriage.

The President has proposed a Federal ban on gay marriages. While his "basic views on the sanctity of marriage" is fine, it is exactly that: his views. How does a Federal ban treat gays--as he says--"with tolerance and respect and dignity"? He is talking out of both sides of his mouth. This is really apparent because he couldn't speak from the middle of his mouth and answer the question directly: Is homosexuality a choice? He couldn't and wouldn't answer this question. If he wanted to reflect most conservative thinking and appeal to his base, he would have had to say, "yeah, it's a choice." But he didn't because that would alienate a large portion of middle to left voters. And if he said it wasn't a choice, he would alienate his base. Ulitmately, this President, so firm in his thinking, so resolute, so strong--in his head--couldn't resolve this issue.

When it came to abortion, he wouldn't even accept the question.

SCHIEFFER: He (John Kerry) said that you had never said whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. So I'd ask you directly, would you like to?

BUSH: What he's asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I'll have no litmus test.

He totally ignored the question and responded to a question he made up himself. In fact, the President was obviously so unprepared for this question that the above quote was his entire response when he had three minutes to talk. Since when did the President--or any politician--not take up the entire time allotted to speak? Some would call this deflection of the question deft. Others would call it lacking resolve. Even others might view it as simply gutless...

But when he did speak, President Bush continued with many mistatements. As one talking head put it, he looked like a college student who crammed for an exam the night before and was just trying to get all the information he had in his head on paper in any shape or fashion. With the flu vaccination situation, he obviously jumbled the information.

SCHIEFFER: Suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?

BUSH: Bob, we relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States citizen, and it turned out that the vaccine they were producing was contaminated. And so we took the right action and didn't allow contaminated medicine into our country.

We're working with Canada to hopefully -- that they'll produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season.

First, the company is a US company with a factory in England. Secondly, Bush did not take any action to disallow the contaminated vaccine to get to the US. English inspectors deemed the vaccination contaminated and they disallowed its distribution anywhere. The President, our President, makes himself out--wittingly or not--as a major cog in the machine of disinformation. Further, I thought he slammed Kerry in the second debate for dissing Tony Blair for not recognizing England's contribution to the efforts in Iraq. Isn't blaming England for contaminated vaccine when it's really a US company and trying to take the credit away from English inspectors an insult to England, too? And what's with Canada? Didn't he say in the last debate that we couldn't trust Canada? That we had to check every pharmeceutical product from Canada to protect US citizens, even though it denied us access to inexpensive drugs? And now he wants the their drugs? He is speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

But mistatements are one thing. Contradictions--or lies--are worse.

KERRY: When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of them, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, and Osama bin Laden escaped. Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?"

He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned." We need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war on terror.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.

Of course, anyone who has been watching the news knows now that the President indeed made the statement previously.

BUSH (3/13/2002): Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network is -- his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I've mentioned in my speeches, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death, and he himself tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.

So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you... I truly am not that concerned about him. (click here for the transcripts of the official White House Press release.)

Was he telling a lie? No, he isn't as sharp as Cheney. Did he forget it? Probably. But this flip flopping is a reflection of an accusation made by Kerry agains Bush: That the war in Iraq was a diversion. He wanted to divert out attention away from Al Qaeda and to Iraq, the war he wanted to engage. Why else would he make light of the whereabouts of bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11. He wanted us to focus on Saddam and Iraq.

When he spoke of joblessness, he really showed how out of touch he is.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?

BUSH: I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century. And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college. We've expanded trade adjustment assistance. We want to help pay for you to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century.

Does he really believe that a 40 something unemployed man can go to a community college, get a years worth of training and then find a job? His "trade adjustment assistance" may help with his tuition, but it won't go far if he has a family and a mortgage. And who will hire an over 40 man when a twenty-something likely has better and more flexible skills and will cost less? I personally felt insulted when I heard this. He has absolutely no concept of what it is like for the average man.

Of course, John Kerry has not lived in the shadow of the middle-class either. He has led a privileged life, as well. But there are two types of rich. Both will take advantage of their largesse, but in different ways. Some will use their influence and take advantage of it, like going to the National Guard and staying out of Vietnam. Others will use their influence and speak out against what they believe are government's policies gone awry, like speaking out against the Vietnam War.

I am now strongly leaning toward Kerry. This is not because of what Bush-Cheney has said. I think I have plenty of reasons not to vote for Bush-Cheney. They obfuscate, they misrepresent, and they have saddled us with the largest Federal debt ever. But not voting for Bush-Cheney does not, to me, mean that I should vote for Kerry. I lean toward Kerry now because of what he said in the third debate.

SCHIEFFER: Do you see a need for affirmative action programs, or have we moved far enough along that we no longer need to use race and gender as a factor in school admissions and federal and state contracts and so on?

KERRY: No, Bob, regrettably, we have not moved far enough along. And I regret to say that this administration has even blocked steps that could help us move further along....

The fact is that in too many parts of our country, we still have discrimination. And affirmative action is not just something that applies to people of color. Some people have a mistaken view of it in America. It also is with respect to women, it's with respect to other efforts to try to reach out and be inclusive in our country. I think that we have a long way to go, regrettably.

If you look at what's happened -- we've made progress, I want to say that at the same time. During the Clinton years, as you may recall, there was a fight over affirmative action. And there were many people, like myself, who opposed quotas, who felt there were places where it was overreaching. So we had a policy called "Mend it, don't end it." We fixed it. And we fixed it for a reason: because there are too many people still in this country who feel the stark resistance of racism, and so we have a distance to travel. As president, I will make certain we travel it.

Well, as a person who was directly affected by affirmative action, I would like to say that I am somewhat relieved that there is a white male in the the US who will actually recognize that racism still exists. While relations have improved, conditions have improved, there are still those who practice racism--often covert, barely recognizable racism--but racism nonetheless, and most of my Asian brothers and sisters know what I am talking about, as we are subjected to it more frequently than even righteous, understanding non-minorities can imagine.

In any event, this is not the only reason why I lean towards Kerry, but it was a moment on Wednesday's debate that grabbed me...

Thursday, October 14, 2004

No energy...


ello. The cold's gotten a bit better. My coughing has diminished and my body aches are virtually gone. But I'm still not 100%. I am such a loyal teacher that I didn't take off of work last week. Instead, I fed myself handfuls of Tylenol and gutted it out. I had to cut one class short when I couldn't stop coughing, but other than that, I was able to last through my classes. Oops, actually I canceled one class, the senior proseminar. First time in my career I've canceled a class due to illness...

Anyway, getting through classes under the weather is exhausting. I'd get home and just go to sleep. I barely had enough energy to grade papers and prepare for class... oh yeah and some Xanga, no TV... well, the debates and maybe the UCLA game... but nothing else, I swear! The best thing about this cold has been that I slept 6-8 hours a night! That's dreamland for me. And after a relaxing weekend, I feel stronger and I'm no longer taking Tylenol or other pain killers to get me through the day. And my cough has more or less subsided.

But since I did little else but teach last week, I'm now confronted with a mountain of undone work. Ugh. And I'm still trying to catch up. I will return to Xanga soon and hope to visit every single one of you when I can. Promise.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Final: Arizona 17 UCLA 37

plays the University of Arizona today. They finally got rid of their pretty boy coach, John Makovic, and replaced him with Mike Stoops, the younger brother of the Oklahoma coach, Bob Stoops. Makovic was relatively successful at Texas, but when he took his act on the road, it did not play very well in Tuscon. In fact, it was a disaster, and the Arizona student-athletes were the losers. But now they have Mike Stoops, former defensive coordinator at Kansas State and he is a good one.

All week long, we raised issues that were first brought up by SD State coach Tom Croft, that UCLA uses the illegal chop block. That's a block where an ofensive lineman first engages a defensive man up top in a normal blocking position, then another offensive player--o-lineman, tightend, runningback--blocks the same offensive player at the legs. Since the defensive man is engaged (locked) on top, the possibility of fall the wrong way when cut from below is great and often leads to injury. Coach Dorrell is offended by the accusation, but UCLA was called for one illegal chop block against SD State last week. Where there's smoke, there's fire? Maybe. New offensive coordinator Tom Cable has implemented a different blocking scheme--zone blocking instead of man-to-man--which includes cut blocking. This is a block that aims at the feet to up end defensive players. this is a completely legal block. What probably happened was that the timing was off and the cut block occured before the first blocker could move away, which is the basis of zone blocking--movement by the offensive line who block whoever is in front of him then if the play calls for it, to move again into another zone. Oh well, Pac-10 officials have checked film and they have determined that the chop block is not integrated into the Bruins' blocking scheme and that the illegal call was an anomaly. Thank God for small favors.

Enough football...

The second debate was on last night, and as usual the talking heads were all over this. My personal opinion, which doesn't amount to a hill of beans (Bogart, Casablanca) is that Bush looked much better than he did in Miami, but that I am even more frightened by him than ever before. He just seemed angry.

In a recent article by Jonathan Alter in Newsweek, Bush is depicted as a "snap judgment" kind of president. In other words, he relies on his instincts to make decisions--which he believes to be right and true--and he sticks to them regardless of whatever other information may come to bear thereafter. This is, in many ways, due to his divorce from reality. As Alter indicates, Bush is perhaps the most secluded president we have known. He is surrounded by men who share his vision and will protect him at all cost. He is kept away from uncontrolled press conferences and interview. If you'll remember, his one-on-one interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press las winter was a disaster. For the 9/11 Commission, the administration insisted that Bush AND Cheney be interviewed together. Why is that? Can't Bush do it alone? The appearance is that even his administration understands his failings. The proof, of course, is in the pudding. Since the Meet the Press fiasco, he has not appeared in public without strict control. He has not interviewed alone since. When he goes out to rallies to make stump speeches, all member of the audience must sign a pledge stating they fully support the president. Because of this coddling, Bush rarely needs to answer tough question about his decisions.

And yesterday's debate was proof of that. When one woman asked him to give three instances in which he realized he had made a bad decision and what he did to correct it, Bushed looked very upset. He started talking about how he made some bad choices in appointments, but on the larger issues, he has not made a mistake. Indeed, he said:

But on the big questions, about whether or not we should have gone into Afghanistan, the big question about whether we should have removed somebody in Iraq, I'll stand by those decisions, because I think they're right.

That's really what you're -- when they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about. They're trying to say, "Did you make a mistake going into Iraq?" And the answer is, "Absolutely not." It was the right decision.

The Duelfer report confirmed that decision today, because what Saddam Hussein was doing was trying to get rid of sanctions so he could reconstitute a weapons program. And the biggest threat facing America is terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.

Bush looked right at the questioner and began to say, "That's really what you're..." He fortunately caught himself, but it was obvious that he was taking it personally. Poor lady. But that's not the worst of it. He still insists that going into Iraq was the right thing to do. He is even convinced--or probably his handlers have convinced him--that the Duelfer report confirmed his decision--he said it at least twice during the report. Of course, if any of us reads the same report, we would come to the conclusion that the Duelfer report suggests just the opposite. First there were no WMDs in Iraq. And while Bush focuses on Saddam's attempts to get rid of sanctions so he can reconsitute his nuclear program, Kerry had already stated the obvious: The fact that Saddam tried to get rid of sanctions to reconsitute the program suggests that the sanctions actually were working, something the Bush blindly ignores.

While I am an Independent, my heart is actually more Republican than Democrat and it really hurts to see a man such as this at the head of the Republican party.

So did you see the debate? What did you think?

Friday, October 08, 2004

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

I'm still sick but... thanks for the Bookmark!

Thanks to Nefarious_hatter for bookmarking me on the Riceball... er, I mean the RiceBowlJournals. It's a place for Asians to connect through blogs. I have met a bunch of great people here on Xanga--not just Asians, of course--but through RBJ, I have connected with some Asians I might not have met otherwise, such as yenly, steve, shiz, spygirl, aznquarter, and hyojin, just to name a few. Anyway, Hatter, thanks for the bookmark; I added you to my Tomodachi list on both the main page and the comment page.

BTW: I've taken the liberty of putting your mugs in my gallery (bottom of main page). Its just a link from RBJ, but if you would rather not have you face on my page, let me know and I will take it down. I have NOT put links to the face to protect your identity...


m still sick. Being at school all day yesterday did not help me. I wanted to get home early but was unable to due to students needing some help. I'm so loyal to them that it kills me... literally! Just kidding. Anyway, I'm not much better today, but I will go and definitely go home early today to sleep ALL weekend... well except for my Xanga fix, and the Swinging Sam joke, if anyone wants to hear it.

Anyway, yesterday I left you guys without discussing the two things that stood out to me in the debates. Actually, there were three. One about John Edwards and two about Dick Cheney.

First, Cheney is one ruthless son of a bitch. There was a portion of the debate when Edwards stated that 90% of the casualties in Iraq are U.S. casualties, a statement that was meant to underscore the Bush administration's inability to create a significant coalition of allies. Cheney comes back with Iraqi figures. According to the Vice-President, if you include Iraqi casualties, the number of US casualties make up far less. Edward, trying to clarify what he meant, stated that he was referring to the coalition numbers. Right when he said it, I thought, "He shoulda said prefaced his statement with something like, 'in addition to the number of brave Iraqi'". But he didn't and this is how Cheney responded.

CHENEY: Classic example. He won't count the sacrifice and the contribution of Iraqi allies. It's their country. They're in the fight. They're increasingly the ones out there putting their necks on the line to take back their country from the terrorists and the old regime elements that are still left. They're doing a superb job. And for you to demean their sacrifices strikes me as...

EDWARDS: Oh, I'm not...

CHENEY: ... as beyond...

EDWARDS: I'm not demeaning...

CHENEY: It is indeed. You suggested...

EDWARDS: No, sir, I did not...

CHENEY: ... somehow they shouldn't count, because you want to be able to say that the Americans are taking 90 percent of the sacrifice. You cannot succeed in this effort if you're not willing to recognize the enormous contribution the Iraqis are increasingly making to their own future.

When Edwards had his chance to speak again, he should have responded directly, and in fact acuse Cheney of distorting his words, that it was a "classic" example of how Cheney misrepresents other people. But he didn't, and John Edwards, in my view, came off as a lightweight. He lacked the gravitas that Cheney or many other politicians have. When Cheney sucker-punched him, he rarely punched back, or he punched back ineffectively.

Cheney sucker punched him again when he talked about Edwards record in the Senate. He accused him of rarely showing up. And as Vice-President, he is also president of the Senate and said:

CHENEY: You've missed a lot of key votes: on tax policy, on energy, on Medicare reform. Your hometown newspaper has taken to calling you "Senator Gone." You've got one of the worst attendance records in the United States Senate. Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session.

This was a hard blow by Cheney. Highlighting Edwards poor showing on the Senate floor calls into question his responsibility as a senator. And this would have been a legitimate slam had he not followed this comment with:

The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

All of us who have been watching the TV news shows know that this is a lie. He may have not met Edwards on the Senate floor, but this meeting at the debate was not the first meeting. They had met at least twice before at a prayer breakfast and in the studios of Meet the Press. Cheney's comment exposes him as a cheap-shot artist. And I'm not sure I want a cheap-shot artist in the White House, a heart-beat away from the presidency. But what puzzles me is why Edwards did not retort. He surely remembered they had met, but he said nothing. Did he purposely keep mum to let the news people find the mistake so they would spend an entire news cycle focusing on Cheney's lie? Nah, I don't think he's that nimble. At least he didn't seem like it on Tuesday. But deliberate or not, it worked out in his favor as all the presidential election news focused on Cheney's lies.

That's right, "lies", plural. While the "first time I ever met you" was a cheap shot, his other lie has much deeper implications. Either he is a true bastard who will stoop to any level to win, or he is forgetful and out of touch with reality, as Kerry and Edwards have insisted. When Edwards stated that the Bush Administration has taken us to war claiming that there was a tie between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Cheney responded: "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11. But there's clearly an established Iraqi track record with terror." But after that statement, all the news services and talking heads--well, maybe except for those at Fox--showed tape of Cheney's Meet the Press gig where he specifically stated

In September, he told NBC anchor Tim Russert on "Meet the Press'' that "if we're successful in Iraq ... we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."

Now I don't know about you guys, but this is really starting to get ugly for me. While John Edwards truly seemed like a lightweight with little experience, I'm not sure I would want a ruthless bully as Vice President either...

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I'm Sick


he Vice-Presidential debates were eye-opening. All the pundits said that Vice President Dick Cheney more or less steam rollered Democratci nominee John Edwards. And I have to admit, it sure looked that way. Cheney, as usual, looked serious. He was--as he often is--articulate. And there is no doubt that he is a bright, if not brilliant man. But I already knew this before the debate. What struck me was how inexperienced in debates, John Edwards seemed to be. I had heard he was an experienced trial lawyer and he would give Cheney a run for his money. But he didn't. Cheney probably asked for a refund later.

So in tone, and style, Dick Cheney won the debate. Not even close, I think. However, there were two things that stuck out to me rather clearly.

But I will talk about this later. I am sick. I have a rather nasty cough. I had to cut one of my classes short yesterday when my cough became uncontrollable... Well, I cut it short by only 5 minutes... Anyway, I will go to school today, since I only have one class--maybe wear my mask!--and have the students discuss among themselves and report their impressions of Kagero nikki, the Gossamer Journal.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004



he current election compels me to comment because it will directly affect me and you. We have an incumbent president who believes that it is sad but inevitable for American soldiers to die in Iraq, a nation that did not pose a direct threat to us. Now, I spoke of what seemed to be Bush flip-flopping last week, but I am compelled to take it up again because of comments that were made over the weekend. Please bear with me.

Intitially, President Bush and his administration suggested that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons, then was down graded to any weapon of mass destruction. Every intelligence agency--including the CIA--has concluded that Iraq does not have WMDs. His next argument was that Hussein had the capability to create WMDs and so it was right to prevent him from doing it. This was based in large part to the aluminum tubes they found, claiming that they were procured to create nuclear weapons. If this is truly his stance--and we all know that he is resolute, we all know where he stands and that he would never flip-flop on important issues in defense of our country--then what about countries such as Iran and North Korea, countries that we know to have nuclear capability, capabilities far greater than Iraq's. When do we invade to Iran? When do we attack North Korea? But wait. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has stated that this was not necessarily the case. They could be "suitable" for nuclear weapons. Then our own State AND Energy Departments stated:

In INR's (State's Bureau of Intellignece and Reseach) view Iraq's efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors. INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose.

So let's recap: Bush says we must invade Iraq because there are WMDs, but there are no WMDs found. Then he says we invaded Iraq because Saddam had the capability and materials to create nuclear weapons, but our own State and Energy departments dismisses the very evidence used by the administration.

This forced the administration to whistle a completely different tune. They have flipped their position and talked about Iraq's relationship to terrorism. According to this administration--Cheney, Rumsfled, Rice, you name it--terrorists were tied with Saddam Hussein. This has since been disproved by the 9/11 Commission. And lest any of you forget, the BUSH ADMINISTRATION INITIALLY OPPOSED the creation of an independent committee to analyze the government's response to 9/11. Why would they oppose it? Did the Bush administration fear that they would be proved wrong? And now, Donald Rumsfeld, Bush's very own Minister of Defense, iced it. He stated in a Monday news conference: "To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two (Saddam's Iraq and Al Qaeda)." Did he come to this conclusion before or after the invasion?

Does it look like they're talking out of both sides of their collective mouths? Or is it just me?

But Bush--perhaps in anticipation of this admission by Rummy--has flopped toward a new reason: the removal of a bad man--Saddam Hussein--in the name of freeing the Iraqi people and establishing democracy in the Middle East. This is truly an honorable goal. But if this was his goal, why didn't he state this in the beginning? And if this is his "doctrine" shouldn't we be removing president Kim Jong Il from North Korea and freeing the North Koreans? How about those ugly warlords in Africa? If so, wouldn't we need more troops?

Speaking of which, Howard Dean said something interesting this weekend on the Tim Russert Show. He "guaranteed" that if Bush is re-elected, he will reinstate the draft. According to Dean, the current situation in Iraq demands more troops. In response, the administration is already implementing a non-draft draft. That is, he is lengthening rotations for our soldiers, and requiring inadequately trained National Guard to serve in Iraq. Should the conflict remain at current levels, more troops will be needed. But where will he get the manpower that will allow him to "keep his word" and "stay the course"? The draft.

Do you want to be drafted? Vote Bush. Or so Howard Dean seems to suggest.

But hey, Dean can be maniacal, right? And Bush, at least, is striving for a noble cause: To free the people, to establish democracy. And the reasoning behind this is because democracy in Iraq will be a defeat of the terrorists and Al Qaeda who never had any connection with Iraq before the war--as Rummy admitted--but does now because we invaded it. Whew, are you getting all this? The Bush administration's position on Iraq is pretty complicated. And perhaps it is not so much a flip-flop as it is a shift in perspective. Fortunately, they are no longer trying to convince everyone that Saddam had a nuclear weapons program in place...NOT.

On Sunday (10/3/04), Condaleeza Rice on This Week indicated that the administration still believed that the evidence points to a nuclear program, despite the fact that virtually every other agency in our government has conlcuded otherwise. Man, I thought we were over this. But if the National Security Adviser is still saying this, then the administration obviously still harbors these beliefs regardless of what now seems to be mere lip service in the face of John Kerry's challenge.

Free Iraqis. Establish democracy. Yeah, right...

So we have a flip, a flop, and another flip. No wonder they are harping on Kerry's flip-flops. It's to take attention away from their own. This gets better every day, and today is the Vice-Presidential debate. You can be sure that Cheney will be asked to comment on both Rumsfeld's and Rice's comments. His response will be interesting.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Standing up


y UCLA Bruins win. And while the win was satisfying and decisive, it was against a battered SD State team, so cries of "We're back!" are premature. We will see what happens in two weeks when we play Cal. For those who haven't figured it out yet, I am a passionate Bruin fan, and have been since I was 10 years old, back in 1965-66. Why? Well, I always enjoyed rooting for a team that represented the city I lived in: LA Dodgers, LA Rams, UCLA. I have more pride in LA than I do with some generic notion of a regional Southern California or an overly specific South Central.

I have rooted for these Bruins way before I was a student. I used to love the way they would stand up to the Trojans across the city. True, the Trojans were alway a better football team, they were always ranked higher. But the "Guttly Little Bruins" always fought hard, and I am always rooting for the underdog, win or lose--and admittedly we have been doing a lot of losing lately. Anyone can root for a winner. When USC was losing through most of the 90s, NO ONE admitted to being a Trojan fan. Just compare their attendance record between winning and losing seasons. The numbers don't lie, and it is pathetic. And now when they start winning, they come crawling out of the woodwork. Well, they may win on the field, but those are the athletes. They are winners. But the fans? Well you can come up with your own adjective.

But I am stating the obvious. My true problem with students from the school located in South Central LA is personal and the story would be long and tedious, so I will refrain from boring you. Suffice it to say that there seems to be too many who attend this university that convey an attitude that is at best sophomoric--high school sophomoric. It is self-centered and manifests little regard for others. Some of the evidence is right here on Xanga. There is on USC blogring that introduces its self as:

USC University of Southern California students and for people who fucking hate f/ucla. fuck ucla!!! USC FOOTBALL KICKS ASS!! USC FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPS BABY!! OUR QUEST FOR THE 9TH COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL TITLES BEGINS NOW

Now, how's that for class? What does it say for a school whose identity is based NOT on their academics, or Nobel prize winners, or cutting edge research--for which, by the way, UCLA is renowned--but on football? Worse, much of this school identity is grounded in insulting another school. What does this say about those who are members of this blogring? Or about the owner of the Xanga site called fuclasucks? If you go to USC and see shit like this, are you proud of those who represent you and your school in such a way? But talking about it is futile. In my experience, every Trojan I have met has claimed to be different, but has simply ignored those who cry "fucla" and never shown the courage to stand up to these people who represent them in such a base manner. Could this define most Trojans? Brave in a mob setting but timid as individuals? Well, I would like to think not, but until proven otherwise...

Speaking of standing up...

Has everyone already made up their mind for whom they will vote? Is everyone watching the debates as if it were a sport and simply rooting for their team? Hmm... more tomorrow. And comments to be used as fodder are welcome...

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Final: SD State 10 UCLA 33

plays the San Diego State Aztecs today. SD State seems to be improving and will perhaps be a force in the Mountain West. They actually played Michigan pretty tough a few weeks back, although I think it is obvious by now that Michigan was overrated. Still, Michigan is Michigan, and the Aztecs played them tough in their house, which is not an easy thing to do. They have an imaginative coach and their QB Dlugolecki is no slouch. To further exacerbate the situation, The Bruins' defensive front line has suffered some injuries--against the run, it was already like a sieve to begin with--and the linebackers are not 100% either. The saving grace is that SD States offensive line and its star running back is injured so maybe its a wash.

Ultimately, it will be strength against strength. SD State defensive showed it could hold its own against Michigan, and Coach Dorrell's West Coast Offense seems to be functioning this year--although Craig Bragg is out with a separated shoulder. But more importantly is the running game. Mo Drew ran for 322 yards in his last game against Washington. In his first four carries he had over 100 yards and three touchdowns. And he's like an inch taller than me! This guy is incredible. I have a feeling that he'll do more of the same against the Aztecs.

Ichiro Suzuki

In another sports related matter--sorry you guys who don't follow sports--Ichiro Suzuki broke the single season mark for total hits. The old record held by George Sisler then of the St. Louis Browns (later to become the Orioles) stood for over 80 years. I first heard of him when I lived in Japan. He was the only player to have his first name sewn on his uniform. I am a bit of a traditionalist and baseball is a game of tradition, so I found this arrogant. When he came to the States, I was hoping the team over here would compel him to follow suit. But he still has his first name on his back. what would you think of a Red Sox player with "Pedro" on his back. A Cub with "Sammy", a Jint with "Barry", a former Yanker cum Astro with "Rocket"? Would most Americans would find this arrogant? I would. So how does Suzuki rate?

Well, regardless of my thoughts, I must acknowledge his ability. He has proven me wrong everytime. When he came to the US, I thought he was too small and would never succeed here except as a utility player. But he was rookie of the year and MVP in his first year. Subsequently, he has accumulated hit after hit each year but always seems to run out of gas in September--Japan plays a 130 game season, America 162 games. That's over one month's worth of baseball. So when he needed 40 some odd hits in September to break Sisler's record this year, I figured he wouldn't, he couldn't. Wrong again...

But I hope he appreciates his place in baseball history, for history is not just one man but the accumulation of many men. The record was Sisler's, but the breaking of records is a history unto itself. As such, I think he owes a debt of gratitude to his predecessors, such as Roger Maris. When Maris broke Babe Ruth's home run mark of 60 in 1961, baseball put an asterik next to his name because Ruth hit 60 in 154 games. Maris hit 61 in a 162 game season. The same situation holds true for Ichiro. Sisler did in 154; Suzuki in his 160th game. But because the asterik was finally taken off of Maris's record--after years of controversy--Suzuki's record will probably not have an asterik as well.

Suzuki also owes some gratitude to Hank Aaron as well. Back in 1974 when Aaron--an African American--was chasing Ruth's lifetime record of 714 home runs, he received a lot of hate mail, including a number of death threats because he was black. I have not heard anything this time, so I presume that Suzuki has not received anything significant for being a record breaking "Jap". This is attributable to an evolving society, one made better by men like Aaron whose situation brought to light the bigotry and hatred still simmering in the 70s, ultimately resulting in measures to address this ugly environment.

Of course, this has nothing to do with Suzuki. He is only the recipient of their legacy. But it would be nice if he showed his understanding of this and acknowledged it.

Friday, October 01, 2004



esterday, I thought I would witness a train wreck of a debate. I was wrong. I saw a president who was single-minded in his message: I am resolute, Kerry sends mixed messages. He seemed so focus on this that he sometimes did not answer questions. He simply made sure that he could use his two minutes to convey what he wanted to. This was obvious early on.

For the second question of the debate, Jim Lehrer--obviously with Vice-President Cheney's ridiculous statement in mind--asked if Kerry were elected, would ther be another 9/11 like attack in the US, Bush side-stepped the issue.

No, I don't believe it's going to happen. I believe I'm going to win, because the American people know I know how to lead. I've shown the American people I know how to lead.

That is, the US will not be attacked because he would continue to be president. He didn't field the question, prefering to avoid an answer that might either give credence to Kerry and contradict Cheney or sound as idiotic as Cheney did when he said that if Kerry were elected we would be attacked by terrorists. Some might say this was deft. Others might call it was gutless.

But he did manage to convey that he thinks he know "how to lead."

Later, Bush avoided another point by going in a completely different direction to get his other message across.

BUSH: My opponent just said something amazing. He said Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq as an excuse to spread hatred for America. Osama bin Laden isn't going to determine how we defend ourselves. Osama bin Laden doesn't get to decide. The American people decide. I decided the right action was in Iraq. My opponent calls it a mistake. It wasn't a mistake. He said I misled on Iraq. I don't think he was misleading when he called Iraq a grave threat in the fall of 2002. I don't think he was misleading when he said that it was right to disarm Iraq in the spring of 2003. I don't think he misled you when he said that, you know, anyone who doubted whether the world was better off without Saddam Hussein in power didn't have the judgment to be president. I don't think he was misleading. I think what is misleading is to say you can lead and succeed in Iraq if you keep changing your positions on this war. And he has.

Bush begins by stating that Kerry said Osama uses the Iraq invasion to spread hatred against America. But Bush doesn't address this directly. At least not that I can tell. Instead of providing proof to the contrary, he goes into a tirade about how Osama does not determine "how we defend ourselves." I must admit that I was watching the TV trying to figure out what he was tyring to say. What does "Osama spreading hatred" have to do with "how we defend ourselves"? I thought he was avoiding the issue because even people like George Will--a staunch conservative--believes that the Iraq situation is increasing the number of terrorists in the world. (Newsweek, 9/27/2004) But it soon became clear that Bush was actually trying to steer the conversation toward his message: Kerry sends mixed messages, Kerry flip-flops.

But he is wrong. Kerry may have changed his mind, but he gave what to me was a valid explanation:

KERRY: Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq.

Which is worse?

I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that war I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I stood up to say no, but I did. And that's what I did with that vote. And I'm going to lead those troops to victory.

Finally, a coherent response. Yeah, he made a mistake. But he is owning up to it. He is trying to address it. He doesn't ignore it. Isn't that part of what a leader is? Certainly, being wrong too often could be a problem, but having a problem and not admitting it is worse. I was going through my formative years during the Vietnam War. I remember Presidents Johnson and Nixon strenuously insisting that we were right to go to Vietnam, they we had to be resolute and stay the course. We all know how the Vietnam War ended, now don't we. Do you think that being firm and resolute is the only quality a president should have?

Speaking of flip-flops: Bush seemed to mispeak at one point, but in reality it might have been a reflection of his true intentions.

LEHRER: Does the Iraq experience make it more likely or less likely that you would take the United States into another pre-emptive military action?

BUSH: I would hope I never have to. I understand how hard it is to commit troops. Never wanted to commit troops. When I was running -- when we had the debate in 2000, never dreamt I'd be doing that. But the enemy attacked us, Jim, and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people, to do everything I can to protect us.

What? Bush didn't want to commit troops to Iraq, but he couldn't help it because "the enemy attacked us"? Did Iraq attack us? Wasn't it Al Qaeda? Did he just mispeak? Or did he let out a Freudian slip. I've always suspected that he simply wanted to invade Iraq, to accomplish something greater than his father. This might explain the Bush administration's constantly shifting position on why we invaded Iraq.

On July 15, 2003, Vice President Cheney repeatedly cited an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that warned Saddam Hussein was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Those charged with the security of this nation could not read such an assessment and pretend that it did not exist. Ignoring such information, or trying to wish it away, would be irresponsible in the extreme. And our President did not ignore that information--he faced it. He sought to eliminate the threat by peaceful, diplomatic means and, when all else failed, he acted forcefully to remove the danger. Listen to segment.

Okay, I was willing to believe Bush. Saddam did kill Kurds with WMD, so this intelligence is not so far fetched. But as it became increasingly clear that there are no WMDs in Iraq, the administrations position began to shift. It wasn't the presence of WMDs but the possibility of creating WMDs that justified our invasion of Iraq. Then in July 2004, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence produced a report that said "intelligence used to justify the conflict was wrong, flawed or exaggerated in the lead-up to the conflict." Bush defended the invasion by saying,

Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq," he said during a visit to Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take.

Okay, first we went to war to get rid of WMDs, then we went to get rid of the possibility of WMDs, and finally went just to get rid of a "declared enemy of America." If Bush were criticizing himself, wouldnt he call this a flip-flop as well? Or is this shift--like Kerry's--an admission that he realized his mistake and is doing something about it? No, wait, he hasn't admitted that it was a mistake. He's resolute. He's staying the course. He's leading us right into another Vietnam.

Don't forget to vote on November 2.