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you did a heck of a job, indeed


if former fema director michael brown wasn't acting like such a pompous ass, i think i would be starting to feel sorry for him.

today new orleans congressional representative charlie melancon published a number of emails sent by brown during the crisis following hurricane katrina in order to illustrate exactly how much of a tool the guy is. the emails are stupid and boorish, with him asking questions about the appropriate attire for his television appearances and how he could "tweak" his organisation's disastrous response.

the emails are very effective in proving that brown was tragically wrong for the position, although they hardly do a better job of discrediting him than he's done himself. here's the issue that i have with publishing them, though: most of us occasionally say and do things that are inappropriate. if we're smart, we keep these comments off email, but even spoken comments can be overheard. i like to think for myself, and for others, that we have some inborn instinct that will stop us precisely at the point when we are about to cross the line into purely offensive, but even assuming that is mostly true, we sometimes cross the line without meaning to. some people don't have that instinct at all. calling brown out for his admittedly insensitive comments doesn't prove he's worse than most of us, although they may prove that he's not the brightest candle on the birthday cake for sending these brain farts out for others to read and preserve for use against him.

by concentrating on the failures of michael brown, i'm worried that the larger point will be lost. a man like him has no business being at the head of an emergency response organisation, because that is precisely where it is going to be important to have someone who is smart and sympathetic and focused in a crisis. what happened in new orleans is sad but rather than looking to blame the guy who resigned, there should be an effort to analyse the process by which a professionally and personally inappropriate candidate ends up in a position of such importance.

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the world at war?

in my semi-smug but genuinely curious way, i posted a question on my facebook page earlier: how much of the world has to be at war before it counts as world war iii?



the first response i got raised the very legitimate point that this is the sort of question that gets answered by historians, once the haze of the present has faded. the other important factor is that people don't just declare war on each other the way that they used to. major powers entered both the of the world wars with the blessings of their own parliaments, whereas conflicts since world war ii have happened in coded language, sometimes circumventing the political process in the interests of expediency. president reagan never declared war on the nicaraguan government in the eighties, for example, but the united states was clearly in a state of armed conflict, even if most of the arms were being carried by their proxies, the contras.

whether or not we are living in a world at war is a tricky question. despite what…

diet diary, part 2

so the battle with the bulge continues. i'm actually becoming used to the pace, although for some reason my stomach still seems to think it needs far more food than it actually does.

week days, when eating is more of a functional than a festive activity, are fairly easy to cope with. weekends are a challenge, especially living in a city that has as many good restaurants as toronto. i'm not restricting myself to the home, but i am finding that i have to pay careul attention when i go out. last night, i overindulged on injera atthe ethiopian house. injera (the soft, moist, spongy bread that serves as food and cutlery in ethiopian cuisine) makes food fun by forcing you to eat with your fingers. it's hard to exercise restraint in such conditions.

when i first moved to toronto, i was expecting to find it much as i remembered it from years ago- with a dearth of good eating places. apparently, things have changed. there are great places to eat just about every kind of food you&…

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.