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Thursday, September 28, 2006
Frank, you the man.

Frank Robinson out by the Turnstiles on 23 July 2006 chatting with the fans . Frank Robinson, Major league Baseball player for twenty years, 1956-1976. Manager of the Washington Nationals. Standing alone down by the turnstiles one day back in July. Shaking hands and talking unannounced - no banners with the ticket-buyers filing in. I was going through the line with my Dad, brother-in-law Doug and nephew Grant when I thought the man in the red shirt looked familiar. I circled back to take this picture. A picture named FrankRobinson_with_fans_s.jpg

They are going to let him go. Robinson Is Elusive After Meeting Robinson doesn't want to make a full announcement until after the season but its hard to hide how you feel. Tom Boswell wrote a column about this a week ago, trying to parse the "new owners thinking as they stopped talking to Frank Thomas Boswell: It's starting to look like Frank Robinson won't be back as manager in 2007. A matter of numbers, Won-lost. Just business, you understand. Boswell has another one out I think for todays paper Thomas Boswell - After So Long, So Long, where he attempts to evoke what a tough few years its been for the Expo/-TBA-/Nationals. Playing home games the way other teams play away games...

Newspaper type coverage of all this here Washington Nationals: DC Baseball (

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Thursday, September 21, 2006
Boger All.

Vietnam has been in the news again recently. This is one of those stories that has evolved slowly in my consciousness as over a period of time. First I saw a couple of BBC articles on release of political prisoners BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Vietnam frees dissident from jail . The articles state this was being done in advance of note-worthy international conference. The 2006 APEC Conference VN. They also said President Bush will be attending final phase of this year long event in Hanoi. The 14th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting 18 -19 November 2006 The official website of APEC Viet Nam 2006

At some point, having these spare facts running around my mind, I asked Tran (Tran of the left nav bar) if she knew about this and what she thought. She noted part they are releasing some political prisoners but not others. Pham Hong Son mentioned in the article imprisoned on non regime threatening charge: translating and promulgating a State Department article on democracy. Another political prisoner is still imprisoned for a more spectacularly subversive activity which apparently involved flying a plane across the border and dropping flyers across the south calling for an end to one party rule in Vietnam. This succeeded in attracting the attention of the authorities. There seems to be a class of political prisoners that are deliberately held on a range of charges for the convenient purpose of releasing them graciously at opportune moments. A congressional hearing held last year while Prime Minister Khai was in the US on a state visit reviews this in some considerable depth Human Rights in Vietnam covering the continuing Orderly Departure Program, related Humanitarian Operation, and Dr. Nguyen Dan Que's 9 point roadmap to democracy in Vietnam (religious tolerance, separation of party and state, multiparty elections...)

I couldn't remember if I had heard of this organization before; the Asia -Pacific Economic cooperative (APEC) Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. There are more of these international conferences than its healthy to keep track of. This one seems to have been started by the Australians in 1989. It bills itself as a Multilateral Economic Forum and has no binding tenants on its members. Its mission to meet the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for developed economies and 2020 for developing economies (if they need a slogan; I suggest 'Boger-All'). APEC focuses on three key areas ('Three Pillars'): (1) Trade and Investment Liberalization (2) Business Facilitation (3) Economic and Technical Cooperation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. With APEC the process is everything. It is a mass set of standing committees on a myriad of topics that move between annually hosting nations like the progress of a medieval king's court. Comparing it to other international bodies: the G8 conference, ASEAN (and its AFTA) it seems most like a smaller and regional based WTO. The WTO's own list of fundamentals WTO | website includes that "A trading system should tend toward more freedom, should be predictable, tend toward greater competition, and should be more accommodating for less developed countries, giving them more time to adjust, greater flexibility, and more privileges." APEC exemplifies the modern international organization of the globalization era, Taipei Times - archives Take an alternative look at APEC.

The U S secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson made a scheduled pass through APEC vn. Underscoring its practical relation to larger trade regimes, he used the occasion and example of APEC to call for a renewal of the WTO's grounded Doha round US Treasury Secretary to push trade liberalisation at APEC meeting. Earlier APEC was credited with kick starting a stall in the WTO's  Uraguay round. Normal trade relations between Vietnam and the U S are an effective prerequisite for WTO membership for Vietnam. Its seems it is desired to have this achieved ahead of the Leaders meeting in November. Not normally following economic news (despite an econ minor in college) it was instructive to see that Paulson next went to China on this trip where he pronounced on the fragile nature of the Chinese economy Why US speaks softly with China on trade | and tried delicately to interest the Chinese on a minor devaluation of their currency In China, Paulson's Currency Is Patience - On which success hinged forestalling punitive tariff bills in congress on his return Paulson Ends China Visit With Little Progress but Gratified to Be Talking - New York Times.

Going back to my earlier discussion with Tran. I had taken the position that trade and globalizing ties are always better than no ties. A position that even Paul Krugman might hold Enemies of the WTO Bogus arguments against the World Trade Organization.. In simplest terms investment and development will equal jobs and increased standards of living. Her response took me a little aback. On investment she claims Vietnamese leaders are accepting Asian investment, EU and American investments and even, if not especially, from Vietnamese ex pats. French-Vietnamese, British-German-Australian-Vietnamese, but (she claims) pointedly not American-Vietnamese investment. This may have been true, but  may be in the process of changing. As an article in the Washington Post Sunday magazine from last year suggests (Ellen Nakashima, "Coming Home," Washington Post Magazine 12 june 2005. 10) and more recently this Asia news roundup from a Honolulu radio station Asia News - ASIA: Thursday, September 14, 2006- HANOI, Vietnam: - "...Yet, at the same time, many thousands of those who fled over the past two and a half decades are starting to return, and the Vietnamese government is welcoming them, and their money, with open arms" [the context here is the UN's Orderly Departure Program where those Vietnamese unwilling to forbear lifelong discrimination and reeducation to communism were gradually allowed to emigrate].

Further regarding jobs she pointed out: If the Party controls who gets the jobs in the economic growth initiated by this investment. This does not and will not help the poorest minority populations within Vietnam (particular those populations in the south associated with the former regime) It goes to those already favored and exacerbates existing divides. Over all she seemed troubled why Americans in general and President Bush in particular don't seem understand this. Tran does not like communists much.

As the President prepares for his trip to Hanoi in November which seems scripted already as a triumphant welcoming of Vietnam into the realm of free trading nations lets review a few practical considerations. For any investment U S interest should strive for comprehensive economic development investment schemes. Tying factory building to education and urban affairs (such as housing). Investment should look for assurances giving corporate factory operators autonomy in hiring. Further the President should voice specific requests for allowing American Vietnamese who constitute the greatest part of the 470 000 Vietnamese have left since 1975 to participate economically in Vietnam's future.

A minor coda to this post. One of the things the APEC conferences are known for is having gathered dignitaries dress in the national costumes or clothing of the host nation. Note the picture of Secretary Paulson in this BBC story BBC NEWS | Business | Apec urged to push trade talks on. The thought occurs that if Laura Bush accompanies the President on this trip she may find herself wearing an Ao Dai at some point. Who says economics has to be dull.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006
cc Boxer

Working at a library that has a Federal Documents Depository component. I recently came across a memo outlining the FCC's document retention policy.The FCC may want to review this; however, in its current rough form it gets the real job done.

The protocol, which does not seem to be for outside dissemination, seems to go like this. Assign report, review draft Draft of FCC Paper, fly into blind stultified panic (there are specific steps and directions given here) when it puts forth facts that don't agree with your idealogicaly driven policy. Stop study, reassign writers, unrecord its very existence, destroy original and most known copies. Send archival copy to Senator Barbara Boxer NPR : FCC Study of TV Ownership Comes to Light. And lastly: patiently await hearings Senator calls for investigation of buried FCC study.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006
Hawks and Handsaws

"If six monkeys were thrown into the air..." I suppose it's even odds they would land their tails as much as their heads. If they landed on their tails they might take up writing plays. On their heads; they might get work as guitarists for the Rolling Stones.

I saw the DC company Longacre Lea's mount of a Tom Stoppard play the other weekend at the Callan theater, Catholic University Longacre Lea Productions - Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. My niece Nicole knew one of the production assistants (I think through the Folger Shakespeare theater's drama workshops). The six monkeys are from a speculative line from the first act. You gotta think these things through, and it always helps to do this with monkeys.

The Washington Post dissed the play in an early review Slow Death for 'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern': They had two supposed reasons. Length - aye, seeing that they were staging a minimalist production to start they might have aimed at a certain brevity. Three hours ain't brief. Their other concern was - "Jonathon Church's overly twitchy interpretation of Guildenstern." I am not a theatre person, nor was an english major. (iantp|em), but I didn't notice this at all. I thought he did an excellent job. Perhaps he did not give the sense of claustrophobic fate Guidenstern needs to bring to the role, while at the same time maintaining the appropriate forward verbal momentum. I tend to think of Samuel Beckett in terms of dread, and Pinter for uncomprehended fate. You can't deny these to Stoppard, but I don't he wants to jam ashes in your eyes either.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are characters from Shakespeare, old friends of Hamlet's that the King has sent for to try to find what his mal-affliction consists of. Hamlet claims: "I am but mad north north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw" (Hamlet, MIT). However; Hamlet is quite mad. He is a man who fate has dealt an unfortunate turn. He has lost his main chance in life, a prince set to become king, when his father dies and his uncle takes the throne. There is nothing really that favors Hamlet's version of things from more ordinary explanations that yet strip him of future kingship. Hamlet does nothing that deserves our according him status of trustworthy viewpoint. The hawk from a handsaw comment featured in both plays forms the critical nexus. Folded double-meanings that rather than speaking to Hamlet's strategic purpose and clarity are indicative of doubt and a paranoid state of mind that colors his entire uncharitable and mistrustful dealings with Rosencrantz & Guildenstern. A henshaw is a small bird that a hawk will catch and eat: Brewer, E. Cobham. Dictionary of Phrase & Fable. Hawk and Handsaw.. Predator and prey. Alternately a hawk is a name of a builders tool the board a bricklayer holds mortar with. Hamlet tells us he can differentiate one thing from another. In the 'recorder' passage that follows (playing the stops etc) there is nothing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can say to Hamlet, or do, that is not put uniformly into the worst light. He never attempts to differentiate or measure things. His statements to everyone are hostile caustic riddles, launched with insinuating aggression. Rosencrantz and Guilderstern, the lead charactors of Stoppard's play, have every reason to feel unease as they wander through Shakespeare's drama unaware the events around them are hurtling towards a fixed violent conclusion. You get a sense from the title that things will not end particularly well for our heroes.

This is the significance of the coin flipping scene that begins the play. Called from the ether into being in a world of no even chance, no free will, of determined and tragic fate. Their lives in the hands of an angry and confused man. Placed into this world by a writer intent on illustrating the intractability of tragic course. They discover at the outset that Guildenstern can flip a coin any number of times - it will always come up heads. Dimly this brings awareness that they are not living in a normal world where reason and other experience dictate this ought not happen. The one thing left open to them is to grope forward to an understanding of the narrowness of their world and fate.

Some of Tom Stoppard's other works include 'the Real Inspector Hound' (which this same company did last year), 'Jumpers', 'Every good boy deserves favor', 'Doggs Hamlet', 'Cahoots Macbeth'. There is a theme of plays within plays that runs through a lot of this Tom Stoppard - Wikipedia. In addition to directing the film version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. he co-scripted the unique movie 'Brazil' with Monty Python's Terry Gilliam. As well he scripted 'Empire of the Sun' based on JG Ballard's novel. That movie was autobiographical of the Ballard's own childhood. I was unaware of the way that Stoppard's life (born Tomas Straussler in the current Czech republic) paralleled Ballard's in some aspects until looking over his Wiki bio. That and another Wikipedia article also indicate that recently he wrote a script, which apparently is not going to be used, for the seemingly troubled motion picture production of Philip Pullman's trilogy. His Dark Materials - Wikipedia (also  His Dark Materials - imdb).

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Mercury Rising

 Forty plus pages open in my browser - I think that's a record. I wouldn't have thought that Firefox on a iBook could keep that many pages open at once. Somewhere towards the back of that stack I had a page I opened on this years Mercury awards - the british pop music award Muse - Mercury awards . The big news this year was that they decided to give it to a British band. Novelty is everything in the music biz. The award went to the Arctic Monkeys Mercury falls for Arctic Monkeys' tales of street life - Home - Global - Times Online. Who certainly are a fun and energetic band. I mean after all; they're monkeys and they're from the arctic. Or possibly Sheffield.

 You hear them on the radio and you think this is what rock and roll should sound like. You don't find yourself thinking - someone should find these boys other work, don't they have guidance counselors in England?  More and more I find myself thinking about exactly what reaction a new band provokes in me. Not so much 'kicking beat, great tune', because after all that may have been true when the Jam did it in '77 or the Buzzcocks, the Who, Kinks, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry etc. I listen, and ask myself: do they give me the feeling they know what they're doing?  Not just that they've studied the last few back issues of [insert user supplied content] and have determined how create this month's hit. But do they understand what its about, do they intend to say anything with it? Have they staked out a plausible new direction?  I often decide to retain a musical acts name by drawing a line between various songs I've noted on the level of just the composition itself. The feeling I get from Carl Newman for instance.

 There was a piece in the paper the other day about the short life spans any particular songs or albums have at the top of the Billboard charts  No Longer the Loneliest Number - As record sales fall it's easier to hit the top ten, harder to stay in the charts long enough for it to mean much to the public conciousness. That's the Billboard charts. Alt and indie have lived in a world of fickle and low volume sales since the first DIY manifestos were mispelled onto paper.

 I'm happy for the Arctic Monkeys it's just that , well. I really thought that maybe this would be the Country Teasers year. I know they didn't even have a recording out this year - or last year - and may not next year. If I may drop down into a diplomatic gear for a moment. I might suggest that such year a describes the best chance the Teasers will ever have.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Another anniversary of September 2001 is come around. I guess the last one was overshadowed by the gulf hurricanes. This one had many preplanned and formal observations 9/11Anniversary Observed with Moments of Silence. The President was at most of these. On someone's advice he had adopted the affection of not speaking at any of these, just another President of the United States standing silently off to one side of the crowd. At least it kept things simple, (I noticed he took his wife with him). Plus he knew he had booked an hour of prime time later in the day to talk all he wanted. With no Monday night football on broadcast tv who could complain, certainly not the Redskins. I confess I was actually watching the Orioles game on a Baltimore channel.

I remember coming into New York City at night on the train a few years ago. It was during the period when they had those pillars of light emanating from where the World Trade towers once stood. You could see it as soon as you came across the New Jersey flats and up by the Hudson. I saw this view on television tonight. It was quite impressive at the time, not a skyline or substitute for one - which has a fixed profile, delimited and finite. This; open ended extending as far as the light would travel. Light, shadows opposite, pouring out of wounded ground.

One thing I continue to take away from all this is the sense that America is not removed from the world at large. Untouchable by it and at end unconcerned. With the worlds problems never as elastic as our attention span. I have the sense now that festering problems; unsavory and violent ideologies, epidemics, famines, not only large, but small, have to be paid attention to. That we may need to present ourselves in their parlor, calling card in hand, before they do the same to us. This must be done mindful of the principle of self determination - that everyone has the right to oversee their own affairs and that no one can do that better than those whose affairs they are. In a world in which so much has changrd some things will never change. If our affairs are well managed and rightfull, our example will speak more effectively than any politicians speech, any soldiers gun.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006
Not left to chance

The Valerie Plame cause celebre appears to finally collapsed, imploded even under its own weight New Questions About Inquiry in C.I.A. Leak - New York Times. The only question on most people's minds was why  it took so long. The case had ground to a halt that much was obvious. When Richard Armitage's name started coming up a week ago, people (pundits) fell over themselves to declare it the 'worst kept secret in Washington'. I did a brief check over my recollections I can remember his name circulating through this even critically - a briefing document on a plane flight (see the 'timeline' side bar to the first Times article). But I do not recall the turn-out-the-lights,-shut-the-door surety everyone demonstrates now. Still it seemed apparent that this issue had run its course and had run it for no reason.  I wondered briefly on what had let it go on as long as it did, particularly when Armitage finally went public at the end of last week he indicated he explained all this to Mr. Fitzgerald a year ago Armitage Says He Was the Source in C.I.A. Leak - New York Times. It seemed like Fitzgerald was pursuing a secondary or obstruction charge in lieu of a primary charge. David Broder speaking for the majority pronounced "all of this...a tempest in a teapot." Further adding ..."These and other publications owe Karl Rove an apology. And all of journalism needs to relearn the lesson: Can the conspiracy theories and stick to the facts." One Leak and a Flood of Silliness . Here Mr. Broder himself may have stepped further then he had light to illuminate his steps.

I noticed a passage about 16 paragraphs into the first of the New York Times articles:

 Mr. Armitage spoke with Mr. Novak on July 8, 2003 those familiar with Mr. Armitage's actions said. Mr. Armitage did not know Mr. Novak, but agreed to meet with the columnist as a favor for a mutual friend, Kenneth M. Duberstein, a White House chief of staff during Ronald Reagan[base ']s administration. At the conclusion of a general foreign policy discussion, Mr. Armitage said in reply to a question that Ms. Wilson might have had a role in arranging her husband[base ']s trip to Niger.

At the time of the offhand conversation about the Niger trip, Mr. Armitage was not aware of Ms. Wilson[base ']s undercover status, those familiar with his actions said. The mention of Ms. Wilson was brief. Mr. Armitage did not believe he used her name, those aware of his actions said.

Mr. Armitage, I'm sure, is aware of of his actions. I don't know much, I'm just a library clerk with a web log. But I've seen the name Ken Duberstein come up before. Probably a nice guy. He is the sort of person you turn to when you do not wish to leave things to chance. I do not believe anything was left to chance. I do not think anyone owes Karl Rove jack, let alone an apology.

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Monday, September 4, 2006
Looking Back Wards

Twice in the last three days I have been awoke at an inconvenient hour by a helicopter landing across the street. Some of you might be saying - well that's what you get for living next to a helicopter landing pad. This is just the point; however, I don't live next to a landing pad. The first time, last Friday, was at 0730. I suppose I should have been up, but I have a miserable cold (which is why I haven't been writting as much) and have only been getting ragged sleep. Some 12 ambulances, firetrucks, and the helicopter settled that. They had to airlift one of a group of children out because a van had spun out of control around the corner on Piney Branch and ran through a school bus stop. Fortunately no one was killed, although I understand one of the children had to have her leg amputated 10 Children Injured as Van Crashes At Bus Stop. It happened again on Sunday night at around 0115, I never got much of a sense of what that one was about, although I saw people loading a stretcher onto the helicopter. I clung to sleep longer on that occasion. There is something about a large helicopter flying slowly a hundred or so feet above your head and landing across the way which will get into your dreams and get you out of them. I find now that the sound of helicopters fills me with dread.

What I had been hoping to accomplish over the Labor day weekend was to finish reading Edward Bellamy's novel "Looking Backwards 2000 - 1887". At one point, I am led to believe, this was one of the most widely read books in America Edward Bellamy - Wikipedia. I can not for the life of me understand why. In the book a man falls asleep in Boston (this much I can follow) then wakes up to find it is 113 years later. The world, the United States -- Boston, has been transformed into a socialist paradise. This much you get in the first few pages. Then follows 200 or so pages of exposition by the charactor who awakens our hero, Julian West, explaining how all this came to pass. I'm aware that this fictional framework was merely a device for the essay and that the styles of the time may have determined, even rewarded this approach Literature Resource Center, Author Resource Pages -- edward bellamy. It is just that so much of it reads like this:

"I suppose," I said, "that the real reason that we rewarded men for their endowments, while we considered those of horses and goats merely as fixing the service to be severally required of them, was that the animals, not being reasoning beings, naturally did the best they could, whereas men could only be induced to do so by rewarding them according to the amount of their product. That brings me to ask why, unless human nature has mightily changed in a hundred years, you are not under the same necessity."

"We are," replied Dr. Leete. Looking Backward, 2000 to 1887 by Edward Bellamy - Project Gutenberg

He writes like a man who spent all his life in Chicopee Massachusetts. But I'm more than half way through it now, and I have a rule that if I manage to get far through a book I finish it. The socialism he envisions - and this was in 1887, he did not have the example of any existing dictatorship of the proletariat at hand to compare too - he calls National Capitalism. He seems to have imagined it as being a cross between the US Army, Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward.

So unlike today's grand vision: the US Army, Haliburton, and Wal Mart.

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