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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in robertanasi's LiveJournal:

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Monday, June 23rd, 2008
2:47 am
Goodbye to All That
So I'm dumping livejournal for blogspot. The reason: livejournal is not searchable and so my past entries are not particularly accessible to me or anyone else.

The new blog is http://robertanasi.blogspot.com/.

Hope it doesn't it inconvenience any of you, mes semblables, mes hypocrites lecteurs.
1:15 am
Bringing Democracy to the Middle East: Your Tax Dollars at Work

Really funny article from MSN (although it's a Washington Post piece). Glad to know our foreign policy remains in good hands.

Definitely worth reading the whole piece.


U.S. network falters in Mideast mission

Despite $350 million spent by taxpayers, network has failed to gain traction

One news anchor greeted the station's predominantly Muslim audience on Easter by declaring, "Jesus is risen today!" After al-Hurra covered a December 2006 Holocaust-denial conference in Iran and aired, unedited, an hour-long speech by the leader of Hezbollah, Congress convened hearings and threatened to cut the station's budget.

"Many people just didn't know how to do their job," said Yasser Thabet, a former senior editor at al-Hurra. "If some problem happened on the air, people would just joke with each other, saying, 'Well, nobody watches us anyway.' It was very self-defeating."

Thursday, June 19th, 2008
1:20 am
War and Oil
The latest Iraq war wasn't all about oil but it sure had something to do with it.

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
2:07 am
Leaving It on the Field
On Friday I joined a pick-up soccer game late. I was sluggish (i.e. hungover) and played miserably. On the last play of the game, I tried to dribble around this Yemeni kid - maybe eighteen and very quick - who I play with a lot and he gashed me with his cleats, stole the ball, and scored the winning goal. I limped home. It was a foul on his part but that's pick-up soccer. I was so angry that I woke up in the middle of the night furious, reliving the play. I would get him back, I told myself.

I've been playing soccer on the same field for the last twelve or thirteen years. It's mostly Latin guys and  usually a polite game, with a minimum of rough fouls that oafish Americans can't help giving. Generally, I play a mild game and don't go for hard tackles. I appreciate going home without gouges and bone bruises in my shins.

I got to the field early on Tuesday and we started the game. The Yemeni kid didn't show up but about a half hour into it, a Latin guy tackled me from behind. Even in the pros, that's a dangerous play, one that tear ligaments and break bones, and often met with a card. I turned around and shoved him where he sat on the ground.

'What's wrong?' he said, as if he'd just walked out of church.

One of his teammates took offense.

'Why did you hit him when he was on the ground?' he said.

'I didn't hit him,' I said. 'I pushed him. But I'd be happy to hit him standing up.'

On the next play, a big Brazilian forward came running toward me with the ball. I've known him for years too. He doesn't have Brazilian skills but he's a brute, maybe six foot, two hundred. A few years ago he intentionally ran through me and damaged my knee; I still wear a brace from that hit.

I play soft in the pick-up games because I appreciate the artistry and respect we (usually) have for each other. But I made my bones in soccer as a hard defender, marking forwards and cutting them down. So when he tried to bull past me I slid, taking the ball and his legs. It was legal but rough. The Brazilian was pissed.

'You don't come at me like that!' he said.

'That's how your team plays,' I said.

'I didn't do it,' he said.

He was right, and I felt a little bad. But not too bad. After all, he almost put me in the hospital once with zero remorse.

'Get the ball and see what I do to you,' he said. 'I'll take you out.'

'Any time motherfucker,' I said.

The conflict made me tense but the game went smoothly, and nobody else tried to foul me. 
Sunday, June 8th, 2008
1:48 am
Cosmic Slop
Listening to one of my favorite Funkadelic songs, 'Cosmic Slop' when the lyrics suddenly clicked for me and I realized that it was about growing up in the projects with a prostitute mother. The mother begs god to forgive her for turning tricks, saying that everything she did was for her five fatherless kids.
I think 70s funk will be remembered as one of the great eras of African-American music - everything from Sly to Miles - a music that has provided so much transcendence out of tragedy. In the early 70s, black artists were dealing with the failure of the Civil Rights Movement to improve the standard of living for most black, and intuiting the horror to come in the 1980s.

Cosmic Slop Lyrics

Ahhh, ahh-ah-ahhhhh, hear my mother call
Ahhh, ahh-ah-ahhhhh, hear my mother call

I was one of five born to my mother
An older sister and three young brothers
We've seen it hard, we've seen it kind of rough
But always with a smile, she was sure to try to hide
The fact from us that life was really tough

I can hear my mother call
I can hear my mother call (Ahhh, ahh-ah-ahhhhh)
Late at night I hear her call
Oh lord, lord I hear her call
She said, "Father, father it's for the kids (Ahhh, ahh-ah-ahhhhh)
Any and every thing I did.
Please, please don't judge me too strong.
Lord knows I meant no wrong.
Lord knows I meant no wrong."

Then the devil sang

"Would you like to dance with me? (Ooh-ahh-ooh)
We're doin' the cosmic slop." (Ooh-ahh-ooh)

She was well known through the ghetto
Tricks would come and then they'd go
The neighbors would talk and call her Jezebel
But always with a smile, she was sure to try to hide
The fact from us that she was catching hell, hey!

Hear my mother call
I can hear my mother call (Ahhh, ahh-ah-ahhhhh)
Late at night I hear her call
Oh lord, lord I hear her call
She says, "Father, father it's for the kids (Ahhh, ahh-ah-ahhhhh)
Any and every thing I did.
Please, please don't judge me too strong.
Lord knows I meant no wrong.
Lord knows I meant no wrong."

(Ahhh, ahh-ah-ahhhhh)
Hear my mother call
(Ahhh, ahh-ah-ahhhhh)
Hear my mother call
She says, "Father, father it's for the kids (ooh-ah-ooh)
Any and every thing I did. (ooh-ah-ooh)
Please, please don't judge me too strong.
Hear my mother call (ooh-ah-ooh)
Hear my mother call (Ahhh, ahh-ah-ahhhhh)
Saturday, June 7th, 2008
2:10 am
I'm a little slow when it comes to economics. So it's puzzling to me that we're told the unemployment rate is currently 5.5%,  which apparently is shocking as it represents a half percentage point increase for the quarter. I mean, 5.5% doesn't sound all that bad.

Yet somewhere far down the NYTimes article I got the numbers from, I read: 'The unemployment rate does not count people who have given up looking for work. Over all, the percentage of working age Americans employed dropped to 62.6 percent in May from 63 percent a year earlier.'

So nearly forty percent of 'working age American' aren't working? Now that is disturbing. We live in a country where four out of ten people not working is acceptable. Shouldn't that rate a headline or two? And what does it mean that they've 'given up looking for work'? Most people I know only give up looking for work when they well and truly discover that there's no work to be had.

Any scholars out there who can clear this up?
Sunday, June 1st, 2008
1:09 am
Heberto Padilla
When I was twenty two I became friendly with a Cuban guy whose father had been driven out of the country (and his father was a professor of Marxism, so...). We'd argue about how much we should criticize Cuba's human rights violations because neither one of us wanted to sanction the loathsome things the U.S. was doing in Central America and the Caribbean. The Cuban guy was left, quite left, and it sickened me that Cuba would drive away a free-thinking radical like him.

I'm a longtime supporter of the Cuban Revolution and the country's right to exist without being screwed by the U.S. on a regular basis. But when they started throwing poets in prison for the content of their work, well, I can't say that warms my heart. Heberto Padilla was a leading Cuban poet when he was imprisoned for lack of ideological purity. He was allowed to immigrate to the U.S. in 1980.

Song of the Juggler

General, there’s a battle

between your orders and my songs.

It goes on all the time:

night, day.

It knows neither tiredness or sleep–

a battle that has gone on for many years,

so many that my eyes have never seen a sunrise

in which you, your orders, your arms, your trenches

did not figure.

A rich battle

in which, aesthetically speaking, my rags

and your uniform face off.

A theatrical battle–

it only lacks dazzling stage sets

where comedians might come on from anywhere

raising a rumpus as they do in carnivals,

each one showing off his loyalty and valor.

General, I can’t destroy your fleets or your tanks

and I don’t know how long this war will last

but every night one of your orders dies without

being followed,

and, undefeated, one of my songs survives.

–Heberto Padilla

Friday, May 23rd, 2008
2:48 am
Beauty and Truth
'The ardor aroused in men by the beauty of women can only be satisfied by God.'
                                                              - Paul Valery

I don't think, though, that men are going to stop trying to satisfy it through women anytime soon.
Monday, May 19th, 2008
10:52 pm
Irish Philosophy
I just a got bunch of boxing books to review, including a bio called SWEET WILLIAM, the Life of Billy Conn. Conn was a light-heavyweight who was easily beating Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship. He was so far ahead on points, all he had to do was stay away from him for the last three rounds. Instead he tried to knock Louis out. Louis knocked him out in the 13th.
When a reporter asked him why he didn't play defense and get the easy victory, Conn replied: 'What's the sense in being Irish if you can't be dumb?'
1:19 am
Beer Plugs
Beer plugs are the auditory equivalent of beer goggles. When you're wearing them, everything that you and your fellow partiers say sounds brilliant, fascinating, and charming. To someone who left his beer goggles at home, you all just sound like a bunch of drunken idiots.

Note: A friend and I came up with this term last year or the year before. I found the term on someone else's blog from 2006, but he was referring to the volume of drunken conversation. I prefer the definition above but of course, I invented it.
Friday, May 2nd, 2008
12:18 am
My Cat, the Necrophiliac
I have a small yard which also serves as my cat, Scratchy's, jungle hunting preserve. There's a large bush in the middle of the yard and it's something to watch her go airborne and plunge into it to catch a bird (so far she hasn't landed any, thank god).

The other day I noticed her nuzzling a small gray lump on my landing. I looked more closely and saw that it was a mouse corpse. And not just any mouse corpse, no, this was a dried and mummified relic that she'd obviously been treasuring for months, like a Jibaro headhunter or Jeff Dahmer.  I quickly tossed the carcass and she became frantic, scrambling everywhere to find her trophy.

Dear Scratchy, I'll never think of you in quite the same way again.
Thursday, May 1st, 2008
9:11 pm
In Case You Forgot ...
...What an asshole George W. Bush is. The banality of evil, personified.

Bush pays price for 'Mission Accomplished' sign

White House admits fault on banner seen to declare Iraq victory 5 years ago

President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, on Thursday, May 1, 2003, following the ship's 10-month deployment which included "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON - The White House said Wednesday that President Bush has paid a price for the “Mission Accomplished” banner that was flown in triumph five years ago but later became a symbol of U.S. misjudgments and mistakes in the long and costly war in Iraq.

Thursday is the fifth anniversary of Bush’s dramatic landing in a Navy jet on an aircraft carrier homebound from the war. The USS Abraham Lincoln had launched thousands of airstrikes on Iraq.

“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” Bush said at the time. “The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on.” The “Mission Accomplished” banner was prominently displayed above him — a move the White House came to regret as the display was mocked and became a source of controversy.

After shifting explanations, the White House eventually said the “Mission Accomplished” phrase referred to the carrier’s crew completing its 10-month mission, not the military completing its mission in Iraq. Bush, in October 2003, disavowed any connection with the “Mission Accomplished” message. He said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later said the ship’s crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor.

“President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said ‘mission accomplished’ for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. “And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.”

She said what is important now is “how the president would describe the fight today. It’s been a very tough month in Iraq, but we are taking the fight to the enemy.”

At least 49 U.S. troops died in Iraq in April, making it the deadliest month since September when 65 U.S. troops died.

Now in its sixth year, the war in Iraq has claimed the lives of at least 4,061 members of the U.S. military. Only the Vietnam War (August 1964 to January 1973), the war in Afghanistan (October 2001 to present) and the Revolutionary War (July 1776 to April 1783) have engaged America longer.

Bush, in a speech earlier this month, said that “while this war is difficult, it is not endless.”

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
1:51 pm
Hemingway Wasn't All Wrong
The rich were dull and they drank too much, or they played too much backgammon. They were dull and they were 
repetitious. He remembered poor Julian and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that
began, "The rich are very different from you and me." And how someone had said to Julian, "Yes, they
have more money."
- Snows of Kilimanjaro

'Julian' is F. Scott Fitzgerald, who started off one story, '[They] are very different from you and me.'
Friday, April 25th, 2008
3:00 am
Hitting Soft
One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in the many hard lessons of boxing, was how to hit soft. Young fighters always try to throw every punch as hard as they can. The problem with this is that they leave themselves open, and they put their opponents into a defensive shell. For me, it was almost impossible to pull the second punch in a combination so that I could put more force on the third (or fourth) punch. Yet pulling a punch serves a double purpose - it causes the opponent to think he has the space to throw a counter (and thereby leave an opening for the big punch), and it allows you to get better leverage for your big punch. I got to where I could do it on the heavy bag, but it was always difficult for me in the ring.
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
2:10 am
Russians on Love
My two favorite Russian proverbs about love.

"Love isn't a potato. You can't throw it out the window."

"Love is an ugly thing: you'll even love a goat."
Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
3:22 am
The Velvet Underground, '69 Live
This was the first Velvets record I owned after I figured out that they were much cooler than The Grateful Dead. I think I got it when I was fifteen. I downloaded it a few months ago and was struck by how it holds up. I wore those vinyl sides out. While I'm not quite as enamoured by 'Heroin' as I was at fifteen but for the rest. ... The cryptic ballads of lowlife New York City are as compelling as they ever were. Lou Reed's singing is truly moving - poignant, expressive, intense. I don't think he ever sang better. Sterling Morrison's lead work matches Reed in mood and is especially graceful - his obbligato is swing songesque. Reed plays rhythm guitar like a motherfucker, too.
Saturday, April 12th, 2008
2:26 am
The 'Real' Economy

This piece from the Times is interesting, especially for what it says - unintentionally - about how the world economy functions.

G.E. Earnings Drop, Raising Broader Fears


This particular quote is telling: “If you think of all the banks that were in trouble last quarter, that’s likely to move into the real economy now,” said Tobias M. Levkovich, chief United States equity strategist at Citi Investment Research.

Aside from the Orwellian nature of Mr. Levkovich's job - 'equity strategist at Citi Investment Research' - it speaks to how the 'real' economy of major concerns operate alongside the banking system. And yes, it means a real downturn , severe, long-term, when even the biggest corporations can't find a safe position from which to keep making money.

It's funny how financial forecasters are unable to accept these truths when making their predictions. Or maybe they do, personally, and move their investments but are forced by their jobs to keep preaching sunshine. This quote from the article speaks directly to that point.

'Wall Street has, in general, been overly optimistic about earnings over the last two quarters, although analysts have lowered their estimates in the last three months. But there is a growing divergence between what analysts think will happen with company earnings and the more negative outlook by economists, says a recent Goldman Sachs report.

The Goldman report predicted that many companies will lower their earnings estimates for the year during their coming first-quarter earnings calls — saying this would be a “profit recession” along with an “economic recession.”

'Profit recession.' The language is too ridiculous to be believed.
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
3:52 am
Hong Kong Action
In the early 90s in San Francisco, I would sometimes go to Chinatown movie theaters with my friend Ying Guo, the ultra hetero Chinese transvestite. We would watch the latest Hong Kong action and fantasy films together, with Ying providing commentary on the cultural background for the films. Seeing 'Swordsman II' completely blew me away. The budget was probably what it would have cost for a day's snacks on the 'Lethal Weapon' set, and yet it was the most exciting cinema I'd seen since Citizen Kane. All those theaters are closed now, so I hear.
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
12:42 am
Archie Shepp

Listening to an Archie Shepp cover of ‘Sophisticated Lady’ from ‘The Way Ahead.’ A trio – drums, bass and Archie. The drums and bass in separate speakers and Archie floating over them. All three musicians incredibly expressive - I didn’t think a cymbal could have so much emotion in it. It isn’t a particularly big mp3 file but the sound incredibly textured, I can feel the grain of the bass. What I like about Archie’s playing, I guess, is the fact that the blues is always there, so close to a human voice. Coltrane’s a purer sound maybe, more technically perfect, but something about Archie at his best that just gets me.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008
2:21 am
Story of the Week?
This is almost as good as the one where the child molester's defense was that he'd been previously molested by Sasquatch.

(racier British link: http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/3003_nazi_orgy.shtml)

Mosley involved in Nazi sex scandal

Max Mosley, president of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, F1's governing body, is facing intense pressure to resign from his post after being implicated in a Nazi role-playing orgy according to British tabloid News of the World.
The report detailed a five-hour "Nazi-style" orgy between Mosley and five prostitutes at a house in Chelsea. In a video on the newspaper's Web site, it shows a man identified as Mosley arriving at an apartment. The man is then greeted by a woman playing the role of a Nazi prison guard, checking his hair to see if he has been kept free of lice "at the other facility."

Later, another woman in mock death camp garb enters the video and the man said to be Mosley is heard speaking German.

At one point during the video, the man yells "she needs more of ze punishment!" while brandishing a leather strap over a woman's bottom before striking her with it and counting in German, as other women in Nazi-style uniforms look on.

The report is even more disturbing because of the fact that his father, Oswald Mosley, was a former British politician who served in Parliament for both the Labour and Conservative parties. Before World War II, however, Oswald led Britain's fascist organization according to the Times of London.

Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said the sport shouldn't be affected by the report.

"Assuming it's all true, what people do privately is up to them," Ecclestone told the Times in a story posted late Sunday on its Web site. "Knowing Max it might be all a bit of a joke."

Still, the pressure is mounting for Mosley to step aside, particularly from Jewish groups, according to the Times.

This report comes mere months following a scandal in Barcelona where Lewis Hamilton, Formula One's only black driver, was verbally taunted by fans. Mosley came out shortly after the incident and threatened to impose penalties on tracks if any racially-themed incidents appeared in the future.

The FIA not only governs Formula One, but helps establish appropriate standards for all other motor racing championships, including NASCAR.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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