If you're looking for a clear and fascinating article that explains the current global financial crisis affecting all of us, then read this. And if you want to read an intriguing piece on scientific study that affects the breaking of human hearts as well as finance models, then read this. I enjoyed both and benefited from reading them tremendously. Both are easy to read too!
Yesterday's South China Morning Post provided a great read. One of my long standing Sunday traditions is to read the newspaper front to back. When I am in the States this is always the Sunday New York Times, but we can only get a copy of that in Hong Kong a few days later and for a pretty penny. So when I am in HK I settle for the SCMP. Sometimes I save articles from other newspapers I read throughout the week or magazines just to read on Sunday afternoon. Well, this week the Post had a great edition and it included a few pieces that connected with me. They are:
Fantasy football starts soon with the drafts. I am in two leagues. The BTL drafts this coming Monday and AJs league drafts next Saturday. Time to pick a roster that will take me to the top! And this can only mean one thing: football is back. The Patriots kick off their regular season on Sept. 7th. Notre Dame gets underway the day before.
Quite the typhoon yesterday and it cancelled my theology class in its first week. Well, now we're down to a four-week class and there's so much to cover. Maybe God doesn't control the weather?
And finally, my evening at the Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian event was outstanding and far exceeded my expectations. "Why have I not been a fan of horsing jumping until now?" I asked myself several times during the premier performance of these HK Games. The ticket was given to me by a friend I had only met once and I am grateful for the opportunity both to see an Olympic event live (this was the final event in Hong Kong) and to cheer on some very gifted riders and the strongest, most beautiful horses I have ever seen. (For those of you who do not know, one of my favorite animals is the horse and the horse's face, nose, snout, and mouth is a work of art. I hope one day I'll be able to own and ride my own horse. Maybe someday.)
What impressed me Thursday evening was the hush that falls over the crowd when the horse and its rider start their run (you could literally hear a pin drop, which is a miracle if you've ever heard excited Chinese speaking Cantonese), the sheer power and might of the horse, and the skill, concentration, and physique of the riders. This was also an event I went to by myself. There is something deeply spiritual for me when I do this from time-to-time. I remember going to a USC college football game by myself some years ago in California and I had the same experience there. Just me, myself, and I sitting in a huge crowd - in some ways seen and acknowledged - and yet in other ways completely unknown. What is it about this alone and yet very much a part of the crowd that I find so appealing?
Anyway, here are some photos:
I was in the bank the other day, standing in line to exchange some money for a friend, when I started tapping my feet on the floor. I realized when I did this that banks have a very distinct feel (not just their floors, but the whole ambiance - the whole experience), particularly when I'm standing there waiting for the teller. Now this was HSBC's mammoth headquarters in Central so that added to the allure, but would you agree banks have a distinct feel? And what else has a certain feel? Airports do. Hospitals do. So do supermarkets (especially the produce section). What else?
So long to two other friends and a great show.
I love to read, and there's nothing like the feel of a real book. But it's different for kids these days. Or is it?
OK, I admit it. When I saw the interviews and big whoop-dee-doo featuring Scott McClellan's book What Happened about his years as the White House press secretary, and how he was turning his back on George W. Bush, I thought McClellan was probably a money grubbing, back stabbing weasel that pulled a truly Judas like move. Why should I read about this guy joining the hit parade on Bush Part II: The Big Disaster? But then I saw the book in a bookstore here in Hong Kong and I just couldn't walk away. Yes, I want to read what everyone else is reading. Otherwise I fear I may be missing out. (Besides, I like to judge for myself.)
Let me make clear from the outset: Bush is a disastrous U.S. president. McClellan confirms this. But I am the type of guy who would probably not have written a memoir that slashed the tires of the car that drove me to arguably the most important job of my life. In this case that car is a person, Bush, and Scottie doesn't hold back in his critical assessment. He keeps ripping at the rubber and has the tires down to the rims by the time he is done. And yet, he has a point. And he doesn't overdo it, as many in the interviews I watched or read, made it sound. At several times throughout the 300-plus pages McClellan notes that he still respects Bush the person and he is thankful for his shot at the press secretary's job.
Here are McClellan's major points/what struck me:
1. The Valerie Plame investigation destroyed his trust in Bush, Cheney, and more importantly Rove and Libby. It was the old honest question responded to with a complete lie. McClellan to Rove: "Were you involved in this in any way?" Rove to McClellan: "No." (All of this on page 181.) He was lied to, took that seriously, felt badly betrayed, and that only ratcheted up his main angst...
2. The White House operated in a permanent campaign mode that destroyed its ability to be honorable, honest and to make real, sustained positive change in how things get done in the American government. Bush had promised to "change the way things are done in Washington" and he failed miserably. I must admit Scott comes across as a bit of a nitwit for believing Bush on this point. I mean, come on. Should prospective presidents even make such a promise? Is this realistic? Apparently this author's favorite book is The Permanent Campaign and Its Future. After a while it seems like Scott and his wife might sleep with the book and that he would be pleased to see all of his readers drop What Happened and go out and start reading it. Trust me, this issue of presidents in permanent campaign mode is a big deal for McClellan. Big.
3. The best parts of the book (as is always the case when an insider evaluates a president) is when McClellan tries assess the Bush he saw in action everyday. For example, he writes that "My knowledge of George W. Bush suggested several reasons for his inability to admit a serious mistake on his part (207)." Or the classic question the now deceased Tim Russert asked Bush, "Do you believe the war in Iraq is a war of choice or a war of necessity?" "I remember talking to the president about this question following the interview. He seemed puzzled and asked me what Russert was getting at with the question," notes McClellan. Or the opportunity the administration had to make change at the start of Bush's second term, but "the administration did not infuse fresh blood (247)."
4. The book ends with some interesting "principles" practiced in "concrete terms" that he thinks can change the White House for the better. I applaud Scottie for beaming up these ideas to us, but it will be up to future presidents and their staffs to implement them. Fat chance (in my view).
I am glad I read this, but I'm not necessarily recommending it. My guess is this one drops to the growing pile of anti-Bush books that have hit and will continue to hit the shelves, especially as people rush to cash-in before the president leaves office. Maybe I'll drop it off at a second hand bookshop some day and you'll pick it up?
George Carlin died today. I wasn't much for his comedy, but he could be very funny. Jerry Seinfeld remembers him here. Apparently Carlin didn't believe in God, heaven, or hell. In this act he tells us that himself. A couple of warnings about this video: 1) it's crass, 2) it's blasphemous, and 3) it's very funny, because sadly much of what he says about the church and believers is true and it's our shame. Listen for the audience reaction. They laugh the most when what he says connects with their experience. It has always interested me what this tells us about their experience! But now that George has passed from here to there, George knows. He's finally found out if there's a God and if so, what kind of God is.