Tuesday, July 31, 2012



"So your brother's bound and gagged. And they've chained him to a chair."

Alexei Navalny has been charged with embezzlement by the Rooski gendarme, the latest effort by Poot-poot to silence Russia's best known dissident. In a similar story, Ai Weiwei's appeal of Chinese tax charges was denied.

Mitt Romney ended his European trip designed to burnish his foreign policy credentials today. Said Romney:

“I realize that there will be some in the fourth estate, or in whichever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran."

Absolutely. The fourth estate, the fifth dimension, whatever.

Wow.

Wow, "Mermaids" has leapt to ninth in the T.T. with 886 pageviews, surpassing "Protests in Egypt."  Wow. "Lebron James" is numero uno in pageviews and, in our hearts, with 15,098. Wow. 
Ah, that looks like fun.


One-half of India's population--600,000,000--is without power for the second day in a row, affecting mass transportation, international travel, hospitals, mines...everything. The Ministry of No-Power is trying to figure out why. That's not a good sign if they don't know why because, see, after that they will have to "fix" it. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Go ahead. Look up the Angel Moroni.

Above, a Norwegian bride-to-be in traditional sex education class.  He-he-he. No, actually it's the Mormon "Angel Moroni."

Cut.

Bzzz.*

Above, the symbol of Mormonism.  And of Mitt Romney.

*It is very difficult for me to write about Mormonism without getting aggravated and I am not off to a good start.

Cut.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mitt Romney's Excellent Adventure.

Mitt Romney is a winner.

“Mitt the Twit.” –The Sun.

Romney is a good person, good husband, good father, intelligent, well-educated, wealthy; he has been successful in everything he has ever attempted in life.

How?

“Mitt Romney Would ‘Respect’ Israel strike on Iran.” -msnbc.
“Romney Pulls Back from Aggressive Statement on Iran.” –Washington Post.
“In Jam, Romney Tries Not to Make New Iran Policy.” –Businessweek.

Well, how hard can that be? How hard is it “NOT to make new Iran policy?” How does somebody so accomplished get himself into “jams” so often?

Romney wants the presidency so bad his teeth hurt. He is wound so tight he can’t think straight. Have you ever noticed his eyes when he is being interviewed? They dart, bore, flicker, never at ease; his mind is going a million miles an hour and he can scarcely keep it all in. He is intense and disciplined; so intense and so disciplined that he over-thinks and becomes undisciplined. This excellent adventure overseas was planned down to the last detail. First stop, London. During the Olympics. Perfect. Romney is intent on playing up his experience in every utterance he makes so when he did his interview with Brian Williams of NBC Romney knew just what to say, he would weave in his experience with the Salt Lake City Olympics and talk about the London Olympics. He had done his homework just like the A+ student he was, read his briefing papers, talked knowledgably…and then “Mitt Romney’s Setting a New Olympic Record for Gaffes” -Star-Ledger.

He was so down in the details that he lost the forest for the trees.

Hasn’t this whole foreign trip come across as missing the forest for the trees, as being presumptuous? He’s not the president yet, he’s not a presidential emissary, he’s not a governmental official, he’s not even officially the Republican nominee yet. And yet, there he was meeting with Prime Minister Cameron (and conspicuously being photographed with No. 10 Downing Street in the background), meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu today and presumably to meet with the Polish Prime Minister later in the trip.

Romney wants this so badly that he's trying too hard and annoying even those friendly to him, like the “Republican” Prime Minister of Great Britain, like American conservatives, before whom he described himself as “severely conservative.” It just does not come out right when Romney says it, like when he said “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” He didn’t mean that and the context shows he didn’t mean that but that’s how it came out of his mouth. He had to walk that one back too. Like his father saying he had been “brainwashed” on Vietnam. George Romney didn’t mean that literally either. It still ended his hopes for the GOP nomination in 1968. Voters didn’t think they knew George Romney after that. Just like his son.

We Are...Public Occurrences.



"Mermaids" today entered the Top Ten most-read posts of the last three years, displacing our friend Frank Dikotter's seminal book on the Great Leap Forward, Mao's Great Famine. Never thought "Mermaids" could leap like that. 


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sport Is For Losers.


People like those above did not medal in the Industrial Revolution competition. Guys who looked like this


took home the gold. And the silver and the bronze.

Danny Boyle did a rare thing in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics: he celebrated losers. And why shouldn't losers be celebrated?  If there were no losers there would be no winners. We're indispensable! Even winners lose: the best professional baseball teams in America lose 40% of their games. They compete, Olympians compete. They hate to lose. But they do:  "you win some, you lose some." We all compete in life: for gold, for love, success, power, for survival. We all win some and lose some in life. And death always takes the gold medal from survival.

We are all losers, ultimately. In celebrating losers, Danny Boyle celebrated all of us, our common humanity:

Friday, July 27, 2012

London Olympics, 2012.

The people's Olympics.

London Olympics, 2012.



"And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?"


President Obama had three pretty, pretty girls to sing Happy Birthday to him yesterday. President Kennedy had a pretty girl sing to him on his birthday, too. Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iH3oOVKt0WI

China.


Continuing our coverage of corrupt, secretive regimes, the People's Republic of Dungeon announced yesterday that Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, had been formally charged with the murder of Briton Neil Heywood.  Who the Chinese originally said had died from over-consumption of alcohol. Which everyone knows is impossible.  Who turned out to be a teetotaler.  Who they now say was poisoned. Whose body they cremated before they could determine, like, the cause of death.

Image: Heywood, Gu, Bo and...Bo Junior whatever his name is. 

What Is The Matter With Him?


"Mitt Romney's Olympics Blunder Stuns No. 10 and Hands Gift to Obama." -The Guardian.

"Romney's Adventure Abroad Begins With Stumbles." -Reuters.

"PM Rebuffs Romney Over Readiness For Olympics."  -Times of London.

"New Olympic Event: Cameron vs. Romney." -New York Times.

"Shaky Start for Romney Overseas Trip." -Wall Street Journal.

"Come Home, Romney." -Washington Post.

"[Romney] also mentioned that he had met with the head of the MI6 foreign intelligence agency...[F]oreign dignitaries typically do not discuss their private meetings with the MI6 chief."  -New York Times.


Thursday, July 26, 2012



Barack Obama with family. Today is the President's 51st birthday.

North Korea State.

I think "Making Life Better" is North Korea's official motto too. I'm not sure.  I said I think.  I could be wrong. 

North Korea State.



Continuing our coverage of isolated, corrupt, secretive regimes that deserve the death penalty and the games they play, the North Korean Olympic women's soccer team beat Colombia 2-0 yesterday in Glasgow, Scotland. Congratulations to Song Hui Kim and teammates. Cool flag. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Penn State.

Look at what Penn State's official motto is:


Pennsylvania State University

The Pennsylvania State University, commonly referred to as Penn State or PSU, is a public research university with campuses and facilities throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States. Wikipedia
MottoMaking Life Better
AddressUniversity Park, Pennsylvania, 16802
Enrollment96,519 (2011)
MascotNittany Lion
ColorsWhite, Blue

Bob Costas' Nightmare.



I don't see how playing football and especially televising it this year is in Penn State's interests.  There will be 100,000 or so fans in that stadium on September 1.  And the pretty cheerleaders will perform and sparkly smile. And the students will act like excited students.  And the crowd will cheer touchdowns. And there will be chants of "We Are...Penn State."  And the band will play on.

This is going to be awful.

Bob Costas' Nightmare.



"Touchdown Penn State!"

Bob Costas' Nightmare.


Bob Costas' Nightmare.



"Another capacity crowd of 108,000 on hand..."

Bob Costas' Nightmare.


"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another season of college football on ESPN.  I'm Joe Tessitore and along with super-analyst Rod Gilmore we are here in Happy Valley..."


Cut.

Bob Costas' Nightmare.

If you are ESPN’s announcers, how do you call that game?

Bob Costas' Nightmare.

Saturday, September 1


12:00 PM ETOhio at Penn StateTickets

Colorado mass murder.



Oh, that's better.

Monday, July 23, 2012

NCAA to Penn State: Game on!


Two of the six entities investigating Pennsylvania State University announced their sanctions today. The National Collegiate Athletic Association allowed the university to continue playing football uninterrupted by suspension. It put the team on five years probation;  fined the university one year's profit from the football team (payable over the five years); prohibited the team from playing in honorary and lucrative post-season "bowl" games for four years; reduced the number of future football players that the university could give free tuition to; permitted current players to transfer to other schools without penalty; and post facto vacated the team's football victories since 1998, when the school first learned of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's pedophilia. Yesterday evening, David Jones, the sportswriter for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania newspaper referred to here in a previous post, wrote that if Penn State football could escape without a ban on its games being televised it would be a "victory." There was no TV ban.

Penn State plays its games in a group, or "conference," of universities called the Big Ten (which has 12 members). Conference members share the profits from the post-season games in which members play.  The Big Ten also sanctioned Penn State today, announcing that it will take Penn State's share of this profit for the next four years and donate the sum to child protection agencies (For post-season profit purposes the next four years the Big Ten thus becomes...the Big Nine, or Eleven...B1G.)

So there you have it from the college sports entities. "In progress" as they say on TV are the investigations by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office, the United States Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, in addition to the civil suits by Penn State's victims.


Image: Penn State players carry Joe Paterno off the field in celebration of victory.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Seeking the Soul: Moshe Silman, Rest in Peace.





Moshe Silman, an Israeli, set himself on fire on July 14 in Tel Aviv to protest government policies that had left him on the brink of homelessness.  He died Friday. Some other Israelis have self-immolated since.

Pain.  Imagine the pain of burning to death. And the psychic pain to decide to burn oneself to death. Today there is pain in the great, good soul of Israel, founded as a home for homeless Jews worldwide. Imagine the pain of Israel today that Moshe Silman, whose parents escaped Hitler's ovens, died in his own, in the heart of the country founded as refuge for Jews who might be burned to death by others.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Creepy looking guy, huh?


Police...Colorado shooter's apartment... Read it.

U.S. Air Force sergeant...20 years...rape...  Nah.

Clashes grow in Syria...Maybe later.

Tony Robbins event ends in 'wails of pain' as attendees walk on hot coals.  ?


"Carmen, have you ever heard of Tony Robbins?"
"Timothy Robbins. No, not Tony Robbins. Why?"
"It says he's a motivational speaker and some followers walked on hot coals and got burned...There was some rally or something...Who is this guy?"
"Do you have a picture?...Oh, I know him."
"Is he a televangelist?...Sued...franchises...What kind of franchises do you have if you're a motivational speaker?"
"Why did he have people walk on hot coals?"
"I don't know, it says 'The Power Within'...I guess he gave them the power to walk over hot coals....21 people burned.  I guess they didn't get the power..."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Creepy looking guy, huh?  The man with the devil's horns hair and devil's smile is James Holmes who has been arrested in the Colorado movie theater shooting. This is not Holmes' mugshot. This is a photograph from the University of Colorado. I would have arrested him on that look alone. That look is probable cause.

Below are Holmes and Jared Loughner (Loughner was in custody) side-by-side. Loughner was the shooter of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.

The jury may now retire to consider its verdict.
Speaking of...Manhattan's loss of Jeremy Lin is not only Houston's gain, it's Brooklyn's too. Brooklyn has its own basketball team, the coolest logo in the game, a brand new arena to play in and an owner who has spent something like $300 million on salaries for better players. Brooklyn is so cool right now it's chic.

Isn't that great?  It's from this awesome site brooklyntheory.com, sent our way by that awesome guy Dr. Weimin Mo. Dr. Mo was painting in front of the library on Fifth Avenue when a photographer asked if he could take some pictures of him. The photographer was from brooklyntheory. Hope they publish them on their site. Check out brooklyntheory, you'll like. Dr. Mo never steers us wrong.

Well, that didn't last long.

When last we saw Jeremy Lin he was lighting up Broadway and enchanting the world for the New York "Knickerbockers."  Lin had the right at the end of the season to "test the waters" to see if he could earn more money playing for another team and New York had the right to match that offer and keep Lin. He did, they didn't, and now Lin is playing for Houston. There are hard feelings all around.

Ramadan.






Thank you, and a touch of blessing to you.


Shooting at movie theater in Colorado.


At midnight local time James Holmes, 24 years old, walked into a movie theater in Aurora Colorado. The theater was crowded for the premier of a popular movie. Holmes was heavily armed and wore a chest protector. He first set off a type of smoke bomb and then opened fire. At this writing 12 people have beenmurdered and that toll will likely rise. Dozens were wounded. Holmes was captured and made no statements to police. There is no motive at this time.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

They Did It!

Vitaly Churkin left, Russian ambassador to the United Nations and Li Baodong right of China. On behalf of their despicable regimes, both permanent members of the Security Council, Churkin and Li vetoed a British resolution calling for economic sanctions--not military, economic--against Bashar al-Assad's despicable regime. As American ambassador Susan Rice said, the Security Council had "failed utterly." Due to those two. 

Where's Bashar?

Bashar al-Assad, who runs an optical concern in the Middle East, has been away from the store since competitors blew up the store yesterday, killing three assistant managers. Anyone with information can call Bashar's guardians Vitaly Churkin or Li Baodong at the United Nations. 

Are you kidding me?



"Penn State alum and school employee Kim Ranck touches the Joe Paterno statue Wednesday."
                                                                                                                  -USA TODAY.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Som Sabadell ("We are Sabadell" (Are you kidding me?))

Please watch this (you will like):

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=GBaHPND2QJg&feature=youtu.be


Thanks to Dr. Weimin Mo for sending it along. 

Rebels Bomb Damascus, 3 Regime Leaders Killed.


Syrian rebels detonated one or more massive car bombs in Damascus earlier today, targeting military leaders attending a crisis meeting. Dozens of civilians have been killed in addition to Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, Deputy Defense Minister General Assef Shawkat and former Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani. Reports are unclear on whether this was a suicide attack. Some reports have it that the rebels had assistance from an inner-circle bodyguard.  Syria has been in civil war.  The rebellion started 17 months ago. Ophthalmologist in Chief Bashar al-Assad may want to commune with the ghost of Muammar al-Gadaffi on the path from here.

"At this point I still think the odds of the school being shut down or crippled by the DOE is more likely."


That (the quote) is from John Infante who is the Assistant Director of Compliance at Loyola Marymount University.* "DOE" is the federal Department of Education, which is conducting its own investigation into Penn State. The legal vehicle for the action Mr. Infante refers to is the "Clery Act" which Mr. Infante contrasts with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of college sports.

The Clery Act requires all American colleges and universities that receive federal student aid to report on-campus crime which Penn State, as Judge Freeh wrote in his report, manifestly did not in the Sandusky rapes. Clery Act violations are punishable by a "civil penalty" of $27,500 per violation which manifestly would not bankrupt Penn State even when multiplied by the number of Sandusky failures-to-report. The Department of Education has ultimate power, according to Infante, to withhold all federal student aid.  In 2009 that amounted to $476 million at Penn State. That might bankrupt the university.

Yesterday Mark** Emmert, president of the NCAA, said in an interview with the Public Broadcasting Service that he would not rule out suspension of the Penn State football program and the Chicago Tribune editorialized in favor of suspension. For Penn State people that is the worst imaginable scenario.  The problem for Penn State is that that is the worst imaginable scenario for Penn State people. Penn State is now being investigated by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of Education, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (accreditation).  And the NCAA.  

In a related development the artist removed the halo from over Joe Paterno's head on the campus mural he painted.



*The quote can be found here: http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2012/07/title-ix-could-lead-to-penn-state-death-penalty/

**Corrected from "Max," July 23.

Image: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," Wizard of Oz (1939)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Penn State.


Mi amigos and mi enemigos, there is mucho pain in America over this. I read an article today by a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania newspaper sports writer who wrote of the pain he feels over having loved covering Penn State’s beloved football team in the past and how he hates it now and how he did both because of money, that was what paid his salary.  He feels an enabler. $50,000,000, that was Penn State football’s “profit” last year. One year. That will pay the salaries of a lot of people. I’ve read other sports writers and the guilt they feel for going along with the contradiction between a university’s mission and big-time college sports.  They feel like enablers.

They were enablers. All of us were.  All of us who supported college sports by buying tickets, just by sitting on the couch watching college sports on TV (and increasing the Nielsen ratings) were enablers. I haven’t done it this millennium but I’ve admitted it here, I did it the last millennium so this is not to absolve me or to dilute blame by spreading it around. Penn State football’s $50,000,000 didn’t come from one Sheldon Adelson, it came from the students who went to Penn State because of the reputation Paterno had given the school. It came from the Penn State alumni, what is the figure, 500,000?  800,000?

I’ve read in a couple of articles that this could have happened at many universities.  I disagree and have written here also that I think the breadth and depth of this scandal happened at this university because of factors unique to Penn State. The larger point of these writers however is demonstrably true: college football particularly has led to scandals over money and power, all traceable back to sports fans, at many other places.

And I’ve read opinions on “what should be done.”  Should the statue of Joe Paterno be taken down?  Should the football program be suspended temporarily?*  This last I’ve read is highly unlikely given the power structure in college athletics so I hadn’t given it much consideration until I read a nationally prominent sportscaster say something like, “Can you imagine if September rolls around and there are 100,000 people in Penn State’s stadium cheering on the team?” (I gasped.)  But others have written that the football team and the university are inseparable given the unique circumstances here and I agree with that too. Suspending the football team for a year or two doesn’t get to this identity.  I’ve read (and I’ve written) that Penn State should be prosecuted civilly and criminally under racketeering (“RICO”) laws. That’s what I think should happen.

Prosecuting Penn State under RICO laws gets to the identity of the university and the football program. Prosecuting Penn State under RICO may destroy Penn State. That’s what I think should happen. Leave the statue stand and let the grass and weeds grow around it next to the rusting stadium. Show them, and the rest of the campus, to others as an example and lesson to all of us. Give guided tours, and charge for admission.

*This option is known universally to sports fans as the “death penalty,” which one writer pointed out is the best example there can be of how out of whack priorities have gotten.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


These are excerpts from three articles, the first from the New York Times on New Gingrich's former money man Sheldon Adelson, the second from the Times on Romney contributors Laura R. Schwartz and Rody Mehdizadeh, the third from the Daily Kos on the same Hamptons fundraiser that Schwartz and Mehdizadeh attended:


“The question of what motivates Mr. Adelson’s singular generosity toward the former House speaker has emerged front and center in the campaign. People who know him say his affinity for Mr. Gingrich stems from a devotion to Israel as well as loyalty to a friend. A fervent Zionist who opposes any territorial compromise to make way for a Palestinian state, Mr. Adelson has long been enamored of Mr. Gingrich’s full-throated defense of Israel.

“…Mr. Adelson experienced something of an awakening after his first visit to Israel in 1988, when he was in his mid-50s.

“‘He fell in love with the country,’ said Ted Cutler, an early business partner.

“This coincided with his divorce from his first wife, Sandra. Not long after his trip, he encountered a friend, Sara Aronson, at a Boston restaurant. Mr. Adelson talked excitedly of Israel and mentioned that he was interested in meeting Israeli women, Ms. Aronson recalled.
“After the couple [Adelson’s second wife] married in 1991, Mr. Adelson’s visits to Israel became so frequent that he told friends he was contemplating settling there.

"He also became one of the biggest donors to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, and joined its executive committee.”
_______________




"A woman in a blue chiffon dress poked her head out of a black Range Rover here on Sunday afternoon and yelled to an aide to Mitt Romney. 'Is there a V.I.P. entrance? We are V.I.P.' 
...

"Laura R. Schwartz, the woman inside the Range Rover and a fund-raiser, complained that Mr. Obama had not visited Israel as president, a slight to the country, in her eyes. 'I don’t think he is good for Israel,' she said. Mr. Romney, she said, 'is a fresh face.'

"Her companion, Rody Mehdizadeh, who said he manufactures laundry detergent, praised Mr. Romney’s business acumen, calling him 'somebody who can lead the country in a more enterprise-driven way.'”
_______________

"A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. 'I don't think the common person is getting it,' she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. 'Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

"'We've got the message,' she added. 'But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies -- everybody who's got the right to vote -- they don't understand what's going on. I just think if you're lower income -- one, you're not as educated, two, they don't understand how it works, they don't understand how the systems work, they don't understand the impact.'"

_________________


This is Republican greed, elitism, selfishness and arrogance.  In the case of Adelson, Schwartz, and Mehdizadeh, it is also American Jewish greed, elitism, selfishness, and arrogance. I resent both. I particularly resent the primacy of the interests of a foreign country, Israel, in the political decisions of Adelson and Schwartz in a presidential election in America. It is not right and it is not fair to America. But then, these are not fair people. 


Image: The first Google image with search keyword "Rody Mehdizadeh."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hugo


What a movie. Martin Scorsese directing, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Chloe Grace Moretz acting.
Gustav Klimt's 150th birthday
In honor of Gustav Klimt's 150th birthday Google has put this image of The Kiss on its homepage. Klimt's Jurisprudence was posted here a little while ago.  Adele Bloch-Bauer I (below) is Klimt's finest work and is on display at the Neue Galerie museum in New York. At the time of its purchase for the museum by Ronald Lauder it was the most expensive painting ever sold.


Friday, July 13, 2012




You tell 'em, folks!  JoePa all the way!  On three:  WE ARE...GUIL-TY!

This is an excellent photograph of Penn State people. You can see the native intelligence in these faces. And the diversity!  There's white, pale, pale white, and one...I see one black person, is that another black person back there just above the "J?  It may be!  That would be two!  

Grief cancelled.

"I just don't think anyone could have dreamt this. It would be like finding out that Mother Theresa was a drug dealer."

-B. David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University, on the Penn State scandal.

That is the quote of the day. Wish I had said that. Damn.

Penn State Scandal.



You know, when this first broke in November there were times I would have to go back to whichever article I was reading and re-read it. “Did it really say…”  I had just read it and I don’t have reading comprehension difficulty. I couldn’t believe it. Or sometimes the scandal would pop into my head when I was doing something else and I’d just get a sick feeling in my stomach.


Penn State people are to blame for this. Those who attended Penn State in the last 40 years went there because of the image Joe Paterno had given Penn State. No, no, they are to blame too. 

I’m devastated by this. 

Penn State people are to blame too but I feel so, so bad for them... heartsick. I am so, so sorry for them.

Did this really happen?


Image: "Grief," sculpture by Andrassy Kurta Janos. 

Search Keyword of the Day.


"tenement square 1989."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Heroes.


“We don’t need another hero.” 

That was the refrain in a song a long time ago. Yes we do, we need heroes. We need individual human beings who are better than we are because they can inspire us to be better. To a lot of people Joe Paterno was a hero. That evinces a character flaw in Penn State people, for a football coach should not be a hero of a university. And Paterno came to define the university. Outrageous.

People like to knock the heroes of others off pedestals. “See, they’re only human like the rest of us.” Paterno has been knocked off his pedestal by this scandal and there are more knocks to come against Penn State.  Paterno should never have been there, not because he was a flawed human being “like the rest of us,” because he was just a football coach. Penn State was, is, a cheap imitation of a university that was built on a foundation of sand.

But he was a hero to them. And so there is sorrow today too for Penn State people who grieve the loss of their heroes. Here’s to heroes and the people who have them.

Penn State Scandal.


Whoever she is, good for her. If she's a Penn State person, better. That's who Penn State should be.

Image: Sports Illustrated.

Penn State Scandal.


Yes, they are and last year they donated $208 million, the second most in the history of the Harvard of central Pennsylvania. This is what the "Freeh Report" (for former FBI director and federal judge Louis Freeh), released today, says about them. These are excerpts from CNN:


"Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University -- President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno -- failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."

"These men concealed Sandusky's activities from the board of trustees, the university community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001."

"... In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at the University -- Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley -- repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the University's Board of Trustees, the Penn State community, and the public at large. The avoidance of the consequences of bad publicity is the most significant, but not the only, cause for this failure to protect child victims and report to authorities."

"These individuals, unchecked by the board of trustees that did not perform its oversight duties, empowered Sandusky to attract potential victims to the campus and football events by allowing him to have continued, unrestricted and unsupervised access to the University's facilities and affiliation with the university's prominent football program."

"Indeed, that continued access provided Sandusky with the very currency that enabled him to attract his victims. Some coaches, administrators and football program staff members ignored the red flags of Sandusky's behaviors and no one warned the public about him."

"The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims. As the grand jury similarly noted in its presentment, there was no 'attempt to investigate, to identify Victim 2, or to protect that child or any others from similar conduct except as related to preventing its re-occurrence on University property.'"

"The investigation also revealed:

-- A striking lack of empathy for child abuse victims by the most senior leaders of the University.

-- A failure by the Board to exercise its oversight functions in 1998 and 2001 by not having regular reporting procedures or committee structures in place to ensure disclosure to the Board of major risks to the University.

-- A failure by the Board to make reasonable inquiry in 2011 by not demanding details from Spanier and the General Counsel about the nature and direction of the grand jury investigation and the University's response to the investigation.

-- A President who discouraged discussion and dissent.

-- A lack of awareness of child abuse issues, the Clery Act, and whistleblower policies and protections."

Sandusky:

"A decision by Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley to allow Sandusky to retire in 1999, not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy, with future 'visibility' at Penn State and ways 'to continue to work with young people through Penn State,' essentially granting him license to bring boys to campus facilities for "grooming" as targets for his assaults. Sandusky retained unlimited access to University facilities until November 2011."

"Before May 1998, several staff members and football coaches regularly observed Sandusky showering with young boys in the Lasch Building (now the East Area Locker Building or "Old Lasch"). None of the individuals interviewed notified their superiors of this behavior."

Paterno:

"Paterno told a reporter (regarding the 2001 allegations) that 'I didn't know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was.. So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I though would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn't work out that way.'"

Spanier:

"By not promptly and fully advising the Board of Trustees about the 1998 and 2001 child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky and the subsequent Grand Jury investigation of him, Spanier failed in his duties as President. The Board also failed in its duties to oversee the President and senior University officials in 1998 and 2001 by not inquiring about important University matters and by not creating an environment where senior University officials felt accountable."

"Spanier said, in his interview with the Special Investigative Counsel, that he never heard a report from anyone that Sandusky was engaged in any sexual abuse of children. He also said that if he had known or suspected that Sandusky was abusing children, he would have been the first to intervene."

Penn State's Board of Trustees:

"Once the Board was made aware of the investigations of Sandusky and the fact that senior University officials had testified before the Grand Jury in the investigations, it should have recognized the potential risk to the University community and to the University's reputation. Instead, the Board, as a governing body, failed to inquire reasonably and to demand detailed information from Spanier."

"The Board's overconfidence in Spanier's abilities to deal with the crisis, and its complacent attitude left them unprepared to respond to the November 2011 criminal charges filed against two senior Penn State leaders and a former prominent coach. Finally, the Board's subsequent removal of Paterno as head football coach was poorly handled, as were the Board's communications with the public."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I feel more sadness now after writing that post than after anything else I've ever written.

China.


The handsome man above is Han Han (I'm going to go out on a limb and guess...I know this may be stereotyping of me...but I'm going to guess he's ethnic Han-Chinese), a Chinese blogger, if memory serves, the most popular blogger in Han-China. From this charming essay republished on China Digital Times it's easy to see why he's so popular:


During a race a few days ago, a friend who I had not seen for some time came to visit. He currently works as a  agent. He spent the entire weekend with my team in our tent. As we parted on Sunday, he told me I hadn’t developed myself properly and that my image was mismanaged. If a professional agent were allowed to clean things up a bit, my career would look nothing like now. “How about this: I’ll go home and send you an email to sum up how you can improve things,” he said.

“Professional Celebrity Agent”
He called me by phone a few moments later and said my problems were too numerous to detail properly in an email. “For example, on the day of the race you were ‘double backwards’ the whole time. Did you even notice?” I blanked. I’d heard of double regulations and single lens reflex cameras, but “double backwards”? I had no idea. After a long while, I finally understood what he was talking about. As it turned out, “double backwards” means wearing your clothes not only backwards, but inside-out as well. I left the house in too much of a hurry, I explained. I really didn’t notice. No one pointed it out to me, either. No wonder my neck felt a bit tight all day.

“Double Backwards”
This wasn’t a big deal, my friend explained. “You’ve always been quite careless, and this makes it easy for others to laugh at you. But what’s really bad is that you fell asleep in the team tent and were tossing and turning. A total of twelve people came and took pictures of you sleeping. Five of them had press passes, four of them were your team members and three of them were other drivers. Two of those people purposefully took pictures from angles to make you look as ridiculous as possible. Five of them posted the pictures on Weibo: I checked. One of the pictures is really ugly. This is the kind of thing that affects your image. And you didn’t have anyone around making sure no one takes pictures of you. This would be absolutely unacceptable for us in the entertainment business.” But there was nothing I could do about that, I explained. I hadn’t been getting enough sleep lately, staying up late watching the Eurocup and all. How am I supposed to look like Sleeping Beauty?

“Sleeping Positions”
My friend continued to educate me. My facial expressions were a minor problem. The major problem was how I was sleeping: in the fetal position with my hands tucked between my legs. Such a pathetic posture would surely affect my image, he said. Had pictures been uploaded to the Internet, it would surely get negative attention. “It’s not like I stuck my hand in their crotches,” I said. “What do they care if I touch my own dick? I’m not dicking them around.” It’s not that simple, my friend explained. “You’re a public figure, and this is the age of Weibo. Anyone can take your photo at any time, and the more preposterous the image, the faster it will travel. You have to make sure not a single photo taken of you will affect your image. For example, the placement of your hands as you were sleeping was all wrong. Images like that get shared thousands of times, easily.” But there really was nothing I could do about this, I explained. The air-conditioner was set too low, and as soon as I get cold, I automatically shift into this position. I’ve been like this ever since I was small. And there’s no way I’m going to hire some guys to make sure no one takes my picture while I’m sleeping. What kind of poser would that make me?

“The Crotch Cover Position”
My friend continued to point out a whole heap of problems, like how I’m willing to take a picture with anyone who asks, or how I’ll  autograph anything that’s put in front of me. There’s hidden danger there, he said. But I disagreed. If someone gave me a hundred-kuai bill to sign, I would refuse. “Not bad,” my friend affirmed, “At least you know better than to do that. One of our celebrities signed his name on a banknote that was given to him, and people really tore into him online. Defacing currency is clearly a bad idea.” “Not like that,” I said. “It’s because I wouldn’t want my name associated with Old Mao.”

“Taking Random Pictures—Bare Feet Allowed”

“Random Autographs”
Exasperated, my friend replied, “See? You can’t say things like that. You’ll offend too many people. You spoke with your teammates the same way, saying all kinds of things and cussing all the time. You should know, all it takes is just one person in the room who doesn’t have your best interests at heart to record you and put it online. That would make for some pretty bad press. Do you know how many people were in the tent with us? There were eighteen. Did you know them all?” There were a few didn’t know. My friend nearly dropped the phone. “You didn’t know a few of them, and you were still talking like that? Had you thought about the consequences? You had a mean cowlick going on after you woke up, too, yet you still took pictures with people. You looked like a Teletubby. And they used flash! Just imagine what that looks like. Not to mention your mismatched clothing. You looked like a hick. But the sloppiest part of it all was that you forgot to zip your fly! You’re too nonchalant, and you don’t have a professional agent there to help you. Without systematically managing your public image, you won’t be able to maintain any feeling of mystery or air of celebrity. If you set a good image for yourself and have qualified personnel help you with your take care of things and regulate your social media presence, you could make so much more money than you do now. Let me ask you: How do you plan to manage yourself? What are you thinking?”

“Teletubby”
I hung up. It was the dead of the night. I thought about what my friend had said. He was right about some things. I put no breaks on what I said in the tent, no barriers between others and myself. If someone did secretly snap a photo, record me or stream video onto Weibo, it would definitely cause trouble. Whether or not you’re on guard with strangers is determined by your default factory settings. I like to assume people are good, and then sift out the bad people as I go along. Some do the opposite. But my method for sifting out the bad is simply to wait for a wrong to be done to me. I believe in treating others sincerely. I also believe in admitting misfortune when it hits you.
As for clothing, I bought ten white T-shirts this summer. In the winter I usually wear just two leather jackets and one or two pairs of shoes. After all, I’m a racer, not a beauty contestant. I care about driving safely, not how my clothing looks.

“Old Shoes, White T-Shirts”
Life as I see it is about creating all kinds of things, not just rumors. To me, good fortune is determined by the amount of culture I have created. Thirty years ago, I beat out 100 million other sperm. That I was born at all is pretty damn awesome. Having come into this world, I should at least leave my mark. Sure, fashion and elegance are a kind of creative enterprise, but I’m not very adept at them. Admittedly, there are many people in this society who believe that so long as you don’t swear, you can lie, talk idly, speak in clich├ęs, start rumors—big rumors, crazy rumors—and your morals will still be intact. But I think the opposite. In fact, I would like to say one word to those stupid, self-righteous cunts out there: “fuck.” That’s right. This will surely get those sanctimonious assholes shaking with rage, ripping me to shreds, yelling and screaming, rolling on the floor. Then, suddenly, they’ll stand up straight and begin to judge—and the solution is to say “fuck” again. Just fuck it. I’m not fucking you, and I’m not fucking everyone in your family, I’m fucking this world, this world where it’s fine to frame someone as long as it’s done in a genteel manner, this world which allows people who don’t curse but who lack ethics to act as moral judges, this world which allows those whose words are clean but whose hearts and deeds are not to be in positions of power, this world where black is white and right is wrong, this world which believes that a public figure, or anyone else for that matter, should under no circumstances utter a single “fuck.” Let’s fuck this world upside-down.
Life as I see it is about doing what you like to do and taking care of yourself and your family. Living life isn’t about climbing tall mountains or diving into deep-sea trenches. Living life is as simple as sleeping your imprint into a standard-sized bed. I don’t think having regrets means having shortcomings. On the contrary, I think failure is beautiful. The things I enjoy are not limited to writing and racing. I do so many other things. Some of those things I don’t do well. Some I fail at miserably. I tell my friends directly: I really love to do this, I’ve done it before, but I’m not cut out for it, I embarrassed myself doing it. The most annoying thing in the world is to hear someone say, “If I were to do this, I’d definitely do it better than Blah Blah Blah.” Fuck off. You see me victorious on stage once, but I’ve failed at it ten other times. So what? I’m still alive. As long as you keep at it, you’re fine, and people will only remember that one time you succeeded.
Life as I see it is about being together with all the things you enjoy. One time at a fast food place I spotted a beautiful girl. I hesitated for five minutes and never mustered up enough courage to go talk to her. In the end she left, and to this day I regret it. In that moment, I was an idiot. What if I had talked to her? Worst-case scenario: her boyfriend walked out of the bathroom. If you were to die one day, it would be much better to brag and say you did something well or to jokingly recall your failures than to regret not doing this or that. I do plenty right now. I spend time with my family, my spouse and my child. I compete in around twenty races per year, and I’ve begun writing a novel and a travelogue. But besides the occasional photo shoot, I really don’t have energy to think about my style, let alone worry about my image. If I give a bad impression, I can only move forward. I’m only responsible for the writing, not the customer experience or after-sales service. I won’t change my writing based on other people’s preferences. If you like it, it’s a sunny day. If you hate it, it’s still a sunny day. I’d like to thank my friend for his earnest advice and meticulous planning. I know I’ll suffer immeasurable losses because of my character and lifestyle, I’ll swallow uncountable numbers of bitter pills. But at least, from my ideals to my passing thoughts, I haven’t let anything go. So even if my life is full of defeat, I still won’t feel sorry. My friend, I thank you for everything. There are hundreds of thousands of kinds of love and countless kinds of human hearts in this world. To win them over would be my good fortune. If not, I still have nothing to feel sorry about. But I do agree with one point: no matter how hurried I am leaving the house, I have to make sure my pants are zipped.
Translated by Little Bluegill.

One of my Chinese friends (who recommended me to others as an "honorable foreign devil." Ahh. I was touched) once wrote to me that the Chinese regime were "assholes" (his word, in English). Couldn't have put it better my own foreign devil self but I wrote here that I knew no Chinese assholes, knew of very few. Han Han is tremendous. Love that guy. Yet he and Chinese I know are not representative. There are assholes in China and they're not all in Zhongnanhai. The Chinese people support the asshole regime. I have written that repeatedly in the recent past. I think I wrote it so frequently to really convince myself. Then I read "Addressing U.S. China Strategic Distrust" and I don't have to write that anymore to convince myself. They, the Chinese people (as a whole) and especially the leadership, don't respect or like America and Americans. I think that was the last thing I wrote on China until today. I lost some interest in China after reading that. I've had ups and downs in my feelings toward China over the years. "Addressing" has been the low point, maybe...yes, the lowest point. I don't find China as interesting as I did and that monograph nudged my feelings about the Chinese people in a negative direction. I used to wonder why I never came to "love" Chinese the way I loved the Cuban people after I visited there for a couple of weeks. "There's something missing," that's what the voice inside me said. I could not get close to the individual Chinese I do know well, the way I did Pablo in Baracoa. "You're not a loveable guy," I would also say to myself (and it's true!) but then I would realize you can love and still not be loveable. In other words, I wanted to love my Chinese friends but I couldn't, whatever their feelings for me. After "Addressing" I haven't wanted to love the Chinese people.