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December 07, 2014

Sidekick Alzheimer's and the Duration of Infamy

The Japanese attacked the United States in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (which was not a State at the time) on December 7, 1941: a day which will live in infamy because there was no notification of termination of diplomacy and no declaration of war.

How long does infamy last? What's the infamy shelf-life?

  • 21 years later (October 11, 1962) a television show called McHale's Navy debuted. The light-hearted comedy was about a zany bunch of miscreant sailors - who among other things, covered for a friendly Japanese sailor (actor Yoshio Yoda playing the role of sidekick Fuji Kobiaji).
  • The 1964 World's Fair in New York City included displays from Japan and Germany
  • 24 years later (September 17, 1965), another comedy show called Hogan's Heroes was introduced - including actor John Banner in the role of sidekick Sergeant Hans Schultz, a bungling affable good German.

There were both international business and Cold-War government rationals for the normalization of relations with Japan and Germany within 20 years. American business was expanding globally, the governments we placed in Berlin and Tokyo were disposed to cooperate, and the new strategic schism between (former Allies) Russia/China and the Free World™ took precedence over nurturing grudges.


The current question, of course, is the duration of derogation after 9/11/01. How long will it be before we see television webstream comedies with zany, friendly Saudi engineers, turning a tolerant eye to our attempts to drone-target the 'bad' Saudi's?

More to the point, when will Pakistani media include depictions of us? When will there be a misplaced American grad student, hiding out in the Tribal Areas, taken in by the mufti and shielded from the NSA? Maybe his neighborhood will be nicknamed "Snowdenstan" and his hosts will try to keep him from running foul of sharia law, with zany twists and laughs.

Applying the same timeframe from Pearl Harbor to McHale's Navy to the 9-11 re-accomodation, I expect there'll be a friendly-Saudi television show in the States in July 2122, and applying the Hogan's Heroes timeframe I expect there'll be a good-American in Pakistani media in June 2125.

Really, July 22 is only 7.5 years away. As soon as business figures out when the time is right, media will declare rapproachment and we'll see zany, madcap sidekicks. It'll be more complicated, what with the ascent of Tribalism over Nationalism and the fact that American's still can't keep Shia and Shiite straight.

Perhaps we'll get to see the zany Pakistani, constantly striving to keep the friendly American out of trouble, texting to his family, "these people can't tell Shia from Shinola" with a laugh-track overdub that includes a sidetone of ululation.

November 27, 2014

Pittsburgh Survivor: Bike Commuter Assaulted by Driver

On Monday the Twitter brought this thought: a cyclist is just one driver away from being a Hashtag and getting a Ghost Bike. #OnlyTakesOne

Tuesday morning my friend Stu was riding his bicycle to work, which he does routinely, and encountered that unusual driver, riding inbound on Perrysville Ave at Marshall when he was attacked by a Pittsburgh driver who got out of the car and knocked the cyclist off the bike.

Trigger warning: violence

Stu is an accomplished, disciplined bicyclist who really does obey the law and operate very safely and conscientiously. He's a better cyclist than I am. Stu rides his bike to work because he's living lean, putting a kid through college. JAPD: Just another Pittsburgh Dad.

The driver (license plate JJV-1316) probably didn't expect that the cyclist had front- and rear-video cameras rolling.

This is the rear-view camera, and it's turned 90degrees so you'll have to adjust. Watch the white car. Stu's narractive is:

JJV-1316 comes into view at 7:30 of video, passing a church. At 7:37, I cross stop line at Marshall Ave; at 7:39, he crosses stop line. I traveled about 200 feet (hydrant by Milroy Street to stop line) in 7 seconds, about 20 mph. He traveled about 500 feet (church to stop line) in 9 seconds, about 38 mph. Posted 25 mph. Continuing south from Marshall, slightly downhill, I am going about 23 mph. This is where he decides to pass me with only a couple inches of space.

7:30

This is the front-view camera. There is audio, if you have speakers. Stu's narrative:

JJV-1316 passes me at 6:58 in video with only a couple inches to spare. No oncoming traffic. He pulls over, jumps out and immediately pushes me off the bike.

Stu's position in the lane was absolutely appropriate given the parked cars along the curb. You can go back further in the video to get a sense of the larger context.

So much tremendous anger, frustration, and violence on the part of the driver. What any driver should do is: slow down and wait for a safe opportunity to pass - or else, stay in line. Just like you would with a bulldozer or a truck.

Do you think he would have acted that way to a police horse, a bulldozer, or a heavy truck? I don't. And so this is vehicular bullying, picking on the vulnerable because: who can prove anything?

The cyclist with a camera can prove what happened. Or their survivors can.

Stu followed up by pedaling over to the Zone1 police station, which he found to be in need of a bike rack.

November 15, 2014

My Next Tattoo, NPR Edition

After years-long intermittent consideration, I believe I've found the source of my next tattoo: Public Radio Tattoos

November 06, 2014

Conflict Kitchen Pittsburgh : breaking Palestinian bread


  • The first rule of Occupation is, don't talk about Occupation.
  • The second rule of Occupation is, no discussion of the subjects as human beings.
  • The third rule of Occupation is, don't let on you're afraid of them.

Conflict Kitchen is an awesome project that also produces wonderful food. The sharing of meals is a universal common reference (see, The Last Supper). Breaking bread together is always a path to understanding and cooperation.

I've enjoyed the Venezualan, Afghan, Cuban, North Korean, and Palestinian projects at Conflict Kitchen.

In October this article conveyed messages from some Israel-supporting partisans. They suggest this phase of the project is one-sided, because it presents Palestinian food and views without including Israeli food and views.

That's like saying: it's a bad Italian cultural display, it doesn't have any Irish food and completely ignores The Troubles.

The brouhaha has legs. The Jerusalem Post headline reads, US Jews outraged over Pittsburgh restaurant's Palestinian menu and then shows a photo of a Palestinian cook pouring oil over a fire (which is totally not a metaphor or a suggested framework, no nothing of the sort):

Thursday brings a Post-Gazette article and also the Conflict Kitchen response to the PG article.

Cui bono? This bit of controversy benefits these factions:

  • Militant Israeli supporters who are unwilling to see Palestinians portrayed as human beings to an American audience.
  • Zionists who are unwilling to see any civil discussion about American support for Israeli actions.
  • Fundraisers who benefit from churning controversy.
  • Those who want to discredit John Kerry and his 2016 Presidential campaign, because his spouse's endowment gave Conflict Kitchen a 50K grant a few years ago to move to their current location

The volatility of the response to the Conflict Kitchen project shows they're afraid of something. What are they afraid of? Just a guess: they don't want increased public awareness of the BDS campaign, a movement to divest from the Occupation just like ethical people divested from South African apartheid. They're afraid of Americans viewing the Occupation as Apartheid. (BDS: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.

You can support Conflict Kitchen without weighing in on whether the Israeli's are occupying the Palestinian population, banning their political organizations, denying human rights, and violating international standards by subjugating a population for 40+ years.

It's pretty clear to me that Palestine is a place, that Palestinians are occupied by Israel, that Palestine is in conflict with Israel, and that America is supporting Israel's actions and policies. To me the presentation of Palestinian food and views is completely consistent with Conflict Kitchen's mission.

People who say, don't talk about that and don't eat their food are afraid, and I wonder if that means they know they're wrong.

September 17, 2014

Fri 9/19 PARKing Day: Arrghh, Matey

In addition to being International Talk Like a Pirate Day, this Friday is PARKing day - when creative free spirits use PARKing spots to make mini-parks.
View 2014 PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh in a larger map
August 07, 2014

Sarajevo 2.0 with Air Travel this time

Something missing from 1914's pissing contests that gave us World War One was air travel - navigation in those days was surface-bound, so all the contretemps played out at altitude=zero. Now we've got a European and near-Euro sky filled with a weave of airplanes and airspace boundaries, so the petty squabbles of nation-states and tribes can indeed project into the heavens.

And there's also this:

There's two problems - problems of intent and problems of chaos. Problems of intent occur when a Ukranian plane strays into Russian territory and now it's an intruder and subject to shoot-down. Problems of chaos occur when non-standard routes and congestion cause confusion and complexity, leading to errors and tragedy. Because all those planes that aren't flying over the restricted areas are flying somewhere non-standard.