Archive for January 27th, 2004

We Need to Work on the Parking


The Dowbrigade is off to give another driving lesson to his 19-year-old
son, the one who wants a Hummer so he can crush other cars out of parking
spaces, the one who eats frozen burritos raw to save time.  He claims
if he has a driver’s license he can get a job. We suspect this to be
merely another cruel delaying tactic and are going ahead with our secret plan
to leave the country suddenly without telling him.

So this will probably be out last post of the day.  When we get
back from these sessions we are in no shape to do anything but self-medicate
and lie in a quiet, darkened room for a while….

Mission Impossible


his better judgment, the Dowbrigade has agreed to attempt one of the
toughest tasks he has tackled in his entire teaching career – explaining
NFL Football to a class of foreign college students who don’t know a
forward pass from an actionable offense. We tried to avoid it, having
ventured there before, but they begged.

The job, from a didactic point of view, is somewhat akin to teaching
quantum mechanics to a school
of fish. And, of course, they need to know it by Sunday.

It is not that the subject matter is THAT complicated, although on this
New Hampshire Primary night it is appropriate to note that Sen. Eugene
McCarthy once said "Being in politics is like coaching Professional Football
– you need to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough
to think it matters." This is not the problem; all of my students (3
Japanese, a Korean, 2 Thais, a Brazilian and a Saudi) are smart and well-educated.
But not a one of them has ever seen a single play of a single game, in
person or on television.

The problem is that their old Professor here tends to go off on wild
tangents when addressing the subject of Pro Football.  One minute
we are explaining the line of scrimmage, and the next we’re waxing lyrical
as a Metaphor for Post-Industrial Cultural Domination, or decrying the
racial inequity in football upper management, or obsessively spouting
obscure statistics like points scored off of turnovers or average yards
per penalty.

When we come to our senses, the students are staring at us like we’ve
started foaming at the mouth, and are no closer to understanding the
intricacies of the Great American Game than they were before we began.
Believe us, we’ve been there before.

But not this time!  We’re going to keep it simple this time, stick
to the basics, maintain distance and decorum.  To that end, we have
discovered an entertaining site, Football Basics, from the NFL
for Kids web site
.  It explains everything!  With funny
animated cartoon players demonstrating the different positions, the equipment,
the rules
of the game. Now if we can only remember to avoid the topic of instant
replay entirely.  And the tuck rule.  And the point spread…..



Pander:n., & v.t.
1. go-between in clandestine amours, procurer; one who ministers to evil
designs. 2 v.i. minister (to base passions or evil
designs, or person having these)

Japander:n.,& v.t. 1. a western star who uses his or her fame to make
large sums of money in a short time by advertising products in Japan that
they would probably never use. ~er (see synecure, prostitute) 2. to make
an ass of oneself in Japanese media.

Clever and well-designed (once you get inside) site documenting the
escapades of Western Media Whores chasing their Yen yen in the Land of
the Rising Sun. Try going to the alphabetical listing and look for your
favorite stars – they’re probably there!


Wanted: Comprehensive Political Calendar


After an extensive search, we finally found an iCal calendar called American Politics and Government with most of
the presidential primaries and some of the debates.  However it is
clearly incomplete.  For example it lists only two primaries for
next Tuesday: Oklahoma and North Dakota.  Whereas a static web
site with a simple primary calendar lists eight: the two above plus Delaware , South Carolina, Missouri, Arizona,  New Mexico and Virginia,

Does anyone know of a better primary and political event calendar, preferably for iCal?

By the way, isn’t it weird the way all these guys have been hanging
around New Hampshire courting 180 thousand backwoods eccentrics, while
a week from now 8 states will be awarding 50 times more
delegates.  Appearantly none of them has the balls to go for the
mother lode, out of fear that the press will say they “gave up” New
Hampshire and paint them before a gullible public as a

Bet there’s a happy bunch of candidates tonight, whoever wins the damn
election.  Looking down the lineup of states for NEXT Tuesday, we
don’t see a one as cold and gloomy as the Granite State…

Cultural Dissonance


This article from the New
York Times
covers a company whose role
seems to be to help business travelers avoid costly faux pas when traveling
abroad. Reminds the Dowbrigade of the time we politely accepted a gourd
filled with a viscous liquid during a midnight celebration with a Jibaro
tribe in an Amazonian clearing, and found ourselves talking to the trees about 45 minutes later. At which point the Chief told us he was
very happy and honored we had agreed to marry his daughter. Fortunately,
he was just joking (the Jibaro have a piquant sense of humor).

When I was in Shanghai on business, about the only thing to do on
a free night, after having made the required stroll down the Bund by
the river, was to visit
the Shanghai Circus in a vast Communist-style People’s Auditorium. Being
a Westerner, I was able to buy the most expensive $5 seat: right
the aisle,
down front. Suddenly, I was "chosen" by the circus master and
escorted onto the stage. A large board was wheeled out and an acrobat stood
in front
of it. His partner across the stage suddenly threw a knife at him, and
in a lightning moment it thrust into the board just below his elbow. The
burst into thunderous applause. I stopped smiling.

from the New
York Times

Clinton’s E-mail Total – Two Messages


archives of the Bill Clinton presidential library will contain 39,999,998
e-mails by the former president’s staff and two by the man himself.

"The only two he sent," Skip Rutherford, president of the Clinton
Presidential Foundation, which is raising money for the library, said Monday.

One of them may not actually qualify for electronic communication because
it was a test to see if the commander in chief knew how to push the button
on an e-mail.

Former Ohio Sen. John Glenn has the distinction of being the first American to
orbit the Earth and the only person to receive an e-mail written by Clinton when
he was in office.

The e-mail was sent with the help of Clinton staffers to the space shuttle while
it was in orbit and Glenn was a part of the crew. It praised Glenn for his return
to space after almost 40 years.

"He’s not a techno-klutz. I don’t think President (George W.) Bush sends
e-mails, either," Rutherford said of Clinton,"Most of the decisions
in the Oval Office are made through decision memos."

The 40 million e-mails of the Clinton administration are almost exclusively comprised
of memos, notes and correspondence among his aides and cabinet members

from Yahoo News