Daily Archives: May 25, 2009

Venezuela shipping uranium to Iran

Obama is “very disappointed and, yes, deeply hurt.” Threatens Chavez with a “time out” with Dear Leader.

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I rejoice that I have lived to see, my rival nailed up on a tree

Oxford’s first female Professor of Poetry resigns after admitting she spread sexual harrassment rumors about rival for the post.

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John Bolton – Neo-con kook and warmonger

So way back on May 20, 2009, the derided and discredited John Bolton penned an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal and Legal Insurrection has this to say: 

Will The Left Apologize To Bolton?

On May 20, 2009, John Bolton wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal titled “Get Ready for Another North Korean Nuke Test” in which he noted that the complacency of the Obama administration about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions (and Iran’s) was misplaced:

“The curtain is about to rise again on the long-running nuclear tragicomedy, “North Korea Outwits the United States.” Despite Kim Jong Il’s explicit threats of another nuclear test, U.S. Special Envoy Stephen Bosworth said last week that the Obama administration is “relatively relaxed” and that “there is not a sense of crisis.” They’re certainly smiling in Pyongyang.”

As usual, the Left lashed out at Bolton, who may be third after George Bush and Dick Cheney in being portrayed as crazy and paranoid. Bolton has been derided as “the neocon’s neocon” who “laps up the hosannas of fellow knuckle-draggers.”

Allison Kilkenny at Huffington Post applied the left-wing attack on Bolton specifically as to Bolton’s North Korea position, in a post titled, Update: John Bolton Still Crazy:

You have to hand it to the Wall Street Journal. At a time when the newspaper industry is desperately trying to remind America it’s important and relevant, the WSJ has carved out a nice little niche for itself as a halfway house for discredited political figures. I think it’s really humane of them. Their most recent charity case is John Bolton, America’s former ambassador to the United Nations….

Today, Bolton chose to growl at the old, but reliable, enemy of North Korea. This is a particularly vintage move when one considers North Korea already tried to strike fear into the hearts of Americans last month when they tested a missile that fizzled and fell into the ocean 1,300 miles off the east coast of Japan. Bolton’s stance is pretty brave because his frenzied ideology flies in the face of scholarly counsel.

Which gets me to Iran. Here is what the Left is saying about the Iranian threat, the same psycho-political babble as Kilkenny, as in this guest-post, Break Out The NeoCon Fainting Couch, at Attackerman. The author argues that since Iran’s religious leaders have said nuclear weapons are bad, Iran’s military and intelligence leaders could not possibly want nuclear weapons:

The Supreme Leader [of Iran] can not get up and preach against the morality of nuclear weapons and call them “un-Islamic” and then wink and nod to his followers and have everything work out fine. One of the consequences of a theistic society is that the citizens follow the leader’s spiritual teachings for better or for worse. So how would they even find someone to work on a program that they have been taught will guarantee them a corner of Hell?

Let’s hope that the North Korean nuclear test is a wake up call for the Obama administration on Iran. So that we are not in a position of demanding another apology from left-wing bloggers when Iran detonates its nuclear device, or announces that it has constructed a device based on the North Korean testing.


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“knowledge workers” or mechanics? We made the wrong choice.

Business Insider links to a new book by a guy who received a PhD in Philosophy, tried academia and Washington for short spells a became a motorcycle mechanic instead. Sounds like he made a wise choice. From the book (excerpted in yesterday’s NYT Magazine)

High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.

When we praise people who do work that is straightforwardly useful, the praise often betrays an assumption that they had no other options. We idealize them as the salt of the earth and emphasize the sacrifice for others their work may entail. Such sacrifice does indeed occur — the hazards faced by a lineman restoring power during a storm come to mind. But what if such work answers as well to a basic human need of the one who does it? I take this to be the suggestion of Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use,” which concludes with the lines “the pitcher longs for water to carry/and a person for work that is real.” Beneath our gratitude for the lineman may rest envy.

I was surprised to discover that our own high school no longer has an auto shop – something I learned when I tried to arrange a donation of $40,000 Mercedes computer diagnostic equipment on behalf of a fellow GHS alumnus who was earning a six figure salary as Mercedes’ head mechanic in Manhattan, supervising 85 workers. It seemed to me then, and still seems so today, the the high school was doing some students a real disservice by eliminating that kind of career choice. We not only don’t need more lawyers or cubicle occupants, there are kids in our schools, of all economic strata, who just aren’t meant for book learning. Nothing to do with intelligence, based on my knowledge of friends of mine like that, they just didn’t have the temperment, nor did they processs information the same way a rapid reader might.

That’s a totally unscientific explanation, of course, and probably hogwash, but the idea that a college degree is the only path to success and happiness, especially happiness, is just as wrong. I think.


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Here’s a new marketing twist: bomb shelters

Says here that suburbanites, frightened of the coming doom, are stocking up on survival food and gear. As a backpacker/hunter type I figure I’m okay (going to have to do something about replenishing my ammunition supply though – so many looters, so little time) but it occurs to me that homeowners could, with just a little reconfiguring of their home, make it more attractive to panicked city folks. Add a bunker or two, a generator, twin 1,500 gallon fuel tanks, a safe room, gun closet (stocked, of course) and presto! The perfect haven for an East Sider. I do wonder at the ignorance of some of these types who seem to think that having equipment, be it tents or weapons, is a substitute for knowing how to use it and survive outdoors, but we’re selling the dream here, just as always.  Ever hear that tip about naming your house? I never thought much of it but now I don’t know. “Fortress Riverside”, for instance, has a nice, reassuring ring. Try it and see.


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Simmons Lane Russians – still here?

New York Magazine is out with a lengthy profile of the Mad Russian and his plans for Simmons Lane. I suppose it wouldn’t be legal, but it would be a good idea if the town required performance bonds from people like this whose fortunes are tied so closely to Russia and Putin’s whims. So far, ground hasn’t been broken although the house itself is gutted. If Kogan is destined for bankruptcy, I hope it happens before the bulldozers tear up the place. This article doesn’t build my confidence that the man will stick around to finish his dream:

Valery Mikhailovich Kogan is, by competing accounts and seemingly depending on the day of the week, either the 499th or the 157th richest man in Russia. His worth, according to the Fortune-like Russian magazine Finans, fluctuates wildly—$300 million in 2006, $90 million in 2007, $600 million in 2008. In his homeland, where oligarchs tend to be heavily gossiped-about public figures with fun holdings like soccer clubs or regional governorships, even rumors about Kogan are surprisingly sparse. He had served in the navy, come up through the ranks in Soviet times, and got rich in the chaos of the privatizations that followed the collapse of the USSR; his official bio makes reference to his “vast experience in the diplomatic field,” without elaborating. Whatever it was, in 2004 Kogan found himself with one of the strangest and cushiest jobs in Russia: a principal in East Line, the private company that controlled Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport. The company’s structure had been called by analysts “complex and nontransparent.” By 2005, East Line was embroiled in scandal. Among the accusations was a jaw-dropper, widely reported in the Russian press, about faked plane-engine repairs, billed by a subsidiary of East Line. The Russian authorities had made a move to nationalize the airport—and that’s when Kogan went house-shopping in the West. As the scandal continued to unfold, it certainly looked like the tycoon wouldn’t mind relocating Stateside not just his assets but himself. Acting through another company, Kvoda Group (an anagram, one future neighbor noted, of vodka), Kogan was about to close on a $10 million duplex at 515 Park Avenue while his wife, Olga, sized up mansions in Greenwich.


Even if the suit doesn’t succeed, the project may yet stall for a very different reason. One of the strangest things the Kogans did with their purchase was leverage the living daylights out of it. In August 2005, they took a $10 million loan from Eastern Savings Bank against the house. Less than year after that, they used the same property as collateral in a $15 million loan from the same bank to Kogan’s Kvoda Group. The house cost $18.5 million in 2005; its price, considering it has been stripped, has at best stayed level or, much more likely, hovers around $10 million to $11 million. It’s hard to say whether Valery Kogan’s oft-changing fortunes are at fault, but the would-be oligarch pleasure pad is currently leveraged two to one. Both loans mature on June 1. Much like the bubble itself, the would-be bane of Simmons Lane is now a castle in the sky, in hock to a hope for a brighter tomorrow.


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