bluntlysaid


All Moved In
August 22, 2008, 11:25
Filed under: MBA | Tags:

I woke up at 4:20am, took a 6:30am flight, landed, got a taxi, dropped my bags off at the dorms (studio, really) and then rented a car. I spent the next hours buying an obscene amount of things (Clorox wipes, toilet bowl cleaner, trash bags, etc etc etc) and spending an even more obscene amount of money. Then I had the pleasure of unpacking 3 suitcases and 5 boxes jammed with clothes.

And.I.Am.Done.

I also met some very cool people along the way; however, I think this is a little like camp. The people you befriend during the first days never, ever turn out to be your friends by the end of the summer.
In the beginning you forge friendships out of desperation. You find common ground, no matter how common it may be (i.e. “HI! You like the color red? ME TOO!!!!”).  Eventually, you get comfortable with your surrounding and start making deeper friendships.
Lets see which of these new friends stick and which ones don’t. One is pretty cute, but absolutely 100% not my type.



I’m leaving, on a jet plane….
August 21, 2008, 11:25
Filed under: MBA | Tags:

I have to be up in 4 hours because I am flying up north for my MBA.  I’m going to miss my home. My family. The constant company. The great food. The comfort. The way my bed is mysteriously made about one hour after I wake up.  My dog. Happy hour by the pool with my parents. Working out on the treadmill then playing Zuma for an hour. My morning routine (wake up at 10am,  pour some coffee, read the WSJ, blog, visit gossip pages).  Having a full sized bed (I’ll be living in a dorm once school starts). The safety net of being at home and knowing that everything will be alright and that there will always be someone to catch me if things get hard.
I know they’ll be there for me, but distance is distance…it’s not the same thing.

I’m extremely excited about the next two years, the friends that I’ll make, the good times, the incredible education, etc etc etc. I’m happy about my future, but the little girl in me is sad to leave home. I think that part of me knows this will have been the last time that I spend a significant amount of time at home with my family.  We’ll see.

My next blog will be from _______.  I’ll think of a fake name that protects my identity and location.



1950’s Attorney Time Travels, sues University for “keeping up with the times”

This was just printed in my local newspaper:

Columbia Sued Over Women’s Study

A man who is already crusading against ladies’ nights in bars has sued Columbia University, saying its women’s studies program is unconstitutional. Attorney Roy Den Hollander filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court in New York. The lawsuit claims the college program is discriminatory because there’s no comparable men’s program. It says the university uses government aid to promote a religious belief system known as feminism. The suit seeks a men’s program or an end to the women’s program. Columbia University spokesman says he had no comment. Hollander last year sued over ladies’ nights at Manhattan nightclubs saying they were discriminatory because they offered women free or discounted admission and drinks. That lawsuit is pending.

Women's Study is synonymous with Cooking Classes, alleges the plaintiff.

Women

Reading this article made me insanely angry. I’ll rebut the idiot’s claim.

  • “The program is discriminatory because there’s no comparable men’s program.” Men do not need a “men’s study” program because history has largely been recorded through the eyes of men. We remember Presidents, military leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs and great thinkers—baring a few exceptions, the vast majority of these historic figures are men. If the plaintiff wants to take a men’s history class then all he has to do is enroll in any of the many courses offered by his university. Unfortunately, the word “men” does not have to precede “history of WWII” even though 90% or more of the course will revolve around the decisions and actions of the world’s male leaders during the war.
  • Baring a course that studies how history effects a class of humans (women) could have a major chilling effect on the University’s program to create innovative courses. There is African American history, Latin American studies, GLBT Studies, Asian Studies, etc etc etc. Every major university in the country offers diverse course offerings that educate students on how the general actions of a country or time period affect a specific group of people. Specialization is a necessary function of attaining a degree because the fields of history/science/literature/etc are too vast for any one student to graduate with an adequate level of knowledge on everything that field entails—specialization ensures that the student knows enough of at least a part of that field.
  • The university uses government aid to promote a religious belief system known as feminism.” What? Since when is feminism comparable to a religious belief system? I always thought that belief systems required the acceptance or rejection of a powerful deity. Feminism is no more a religious system then military theory or physics.
  • “Ladies nights are discriminatory.” What? If that’s the case, then he should go ahead and sue all female specific clothing stores (i.e. Victoria’s Secret) because they do not cater to men either. Also, he should sue all and any convenience stores that fail to carry genital itch creams for men, such as Monistat, since men also run a risk of contracting an itchy fungus on their penis. That, or he should just grow a set of balls.
The irony is self explanatory.

The irony is self explanatory.



Presidential Debate Preview

The WSJ slammed Obama for the manner in which he answered some deep questions this weekend at a Mega-Church Event. Rev Rick Warren asked Obama and McCain identical questions. McCain answered in quick, sharp, black and white responses:

  • At what point should a baby’s rights be defended? BOOM!!! At Conception, said McCain.
  • Is there evil in the world and what should we do about it? BANG!!! Yes, defeat it, said McCain.
  • Why do you want to be President? POW!!! To inspire Americans to serve a greater cause, answered McCain.

Obama took more time answering the questions and the WSJ makes it seem like that’s a bad thing. Rev Warren asked the candidates very loaded questions. Complex questions with embedded assumptions that are more intricate than the questions themselves.

A five second response to a deep question sounds foolish to me. Does it play well in the media? Yes, because the press gets a sound bite. Does it reflect the true thoughts of the individual asking the question? No. Probably not, unless that individual is very simple minded which is untrue of either candidate.

Of the three questions asked above, I think that Obama did well answering the first and third question. He evaded the second abortion themed question, which is weak but understandable given that he’s Pro-Choice and didn’t want to alienate the people in the Mega-Pro-Life-Church he was in. Evading was expected (but weak).

Why do you want to be president? He told an anecdote about his mother that introduced his deeper feelings on the matter. It wasn’t a perfect answer, nor was it clear, but it seemed genuine. Remember how you felt during your college graduation when everyone asked what you wanted to do with your life. Tough question, and I think anyone would have laughed in your face if you responded with a catchy five second response: Make the world a better place!!!! Be the richest man on earth!!!! Bullshit. I still meander around the question when people ask me what I want to do. I touch on past experiences, try to draw conclusions, and project what that means in the future. Obama’s responded to the “Why do you want to be President” question in a similar way, and I respect that because it seems genuine to me given that’s how I respond to questions too.

The better question was “Is there evil in the world and what should we do about it.” This question is at the root of philosophy. Religions were founded on this question, philosopher’s remembered, martyrs made, etc.

In reality, Rev Warren phrased the question in a way that alluded to the Axis-of-Evil and whether the United States should “negotiate with it, ignore it, contain it, or defeat it.” I think “it” referred to Iran.

This is a huge question, and a three word response simply does not suffice. McCain’s answer “yes there is evil, and we must defeat it” is BULLSHIT.

Is this how McCain views evil? Black and White? Simple?

Is this how McCain views evil? Black and White? Simple?

Obama deconstructed the question and recognized that yes there is evil, and it manifests in different manners: An abusive home, genocide across the world, and in the depths of poverty. EXCELLENT response. He admits there is evil, but clarifies by saying that it comes in many shapes and sizes. That can be as close as your own house, a city, or on the other side of the globe. That response also lets you realize that evil comes in different magnitudes—the suffering of one abused child versus the suffering of a million individuals annihilated in a genocide. Different problem, different response, all evil.

Again, this is an excellent response because it is nuanced. It doesn’t try to wrap evil up with three words.

Obama then went on to say that evil must be confronted. He didn’t explain how or when it should be confronted. This is an adequate response unless Rev Warren had 13 hours to discuss foreign policy. There is no “one size fits all” response to international crisis. Period.

McCain’s response is horrible. We will “defeat evil.” What the hell does that mean? Defeat it? You’re going to end all evil? By defeat does he mean go to war with evil? Does this mean that if McCain were President then the United States would go to war with any state that performs an act of evil? Will the United States get involved in every single human rights conflict? Attack every possible rogue nation? What about evildoers at home? Are we going to defeat all of them here? Surely, the Catholic priests that sexually abused children did something evil. Is the United States going to tell the Catholic Church how to defeat that evil?

Obama’s response is better. “We must confront evil.” Confront is open to interpretation, which makes sense since there is no “sure fire” response for combating evil since evil comes in so many forms.

I wish Obama had quoted Martin Luther King:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. … Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Evil must always be confronted, but not always through force. Going to war with Iran will very likely produce more evil (death, destruction, hatred). The President of the United States has almost unlimited resources for fighting evil, but because those resources may have profound effects on others then the President must ensure that he has a deep understanding of the problem at hand and a very clear measure on how xyz solution will reduce evil (not produce more). Defeating evil requires a nuanced view on the matter.

The next President of the United States should have a nuanced view. Obama has a more nuanced view on evil than McCain. Obama should be the next president.



Getting Nervous
August 14, 2008, 11:25
Filed under: MBA | Tags:

I move up North for my MBA in exactly one week. I’m getting really nervous. I have so much to do!!!!!! And I’m nervous!!!!

-What if this whole MBA thing is more than I can handle

-What if I hate my room

-What if I don’t like the people

-What if…..I’m getting in my head, so I’ll stop…but you get the drift.



McCain and the Axis of Evil
August 13, 2008, 11:25
Filed under: Market Trends, Politics | Tags: , ,

This is why I do not like McCain:

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has outlined a plan to confront and isolate American nemeses such as Russia and Iran.

-Wall Street Journal 8/13/2008

  • The 80s are over, the Soviets fell, and the world has grown out of the red vs. white mentality that was the cold war.
  • Russia is not a replica of the United States, but it is a democracy of sorts. The current Russian government exists today because it provides for its people. Russia is increasingly prosperous and its global position has strengthened since the economic and political debacle it experienced in the 90s. Governments that provide for its people are legitimate—they have popular support.
  • Russia has access to oil and controls, in many ways, the passage of this commodity to the rest of the Western Hemisphere. That is the reality of its location. The United States is a “price taker” when it comes to oil, and short invading oil territories (again) or making a scientific discovery that replaces oil, there is nothing the US can do about it.

In other words, Russia is not the enemy of the United States and it is completely inappropriate to consider them a nemesis or associate them with Iran. Russia is a trade partner. Russia is a political partner. The United States shares the world stage with Russia—-this is a rude awakening from the good old’ days when the US ran the show, was the hegemonic power of the world.

Save a seat for Russia?

Save a seat for Russia?

Now there are competing powers. The combined force of the EU, China’s rising stature, Russia’s positioning in the oil markets, and Japan’s sheer force (second strongest economy on earth) all challenge the United State’s global titles (#1 economy, #1 military force, #1 etc). The USA has to learn how to share the stage, and let me tell you that calling the other players “nemesis” does not win over any friends.

McCain is stuck in the 80s. He has an outdated mentality. He still sees the world in black and white, but we’ve had high definition color for a long time now. He needs to appreciate the nuances in the new global order, or else….the United States will enter the new era with an inadequate economic and political strategy that will only ensure problems.



Georgia vs. Russia—What If

Russia says that it is escalating its actions against Georgia because it wants to create a buffer zone between Georgia and the Pro-Russian separatist areas in the South East portions of the country. Or (because I am skeptic of Russia’s excuse):

  • Russia was clearly prepared for an attack. In fact, it seems to me that they have executed a near perfect military invasion in just five days. They know what they are doing.
  • Russia was waiting for an excuse to attack Georgia. The Georgian president’s anti-Russian rhetoric and order sending Georgian military into the Pro-Russian zones became the excuse.
  • Russia says that it acted against Georgian led genocide (perhaps true, but that doesn’t seem genuine if you assume that Putin is calling the shots. An ex-KGB-man is more likely to use an anti-genocide campaign to his advantage rather than as true moral imperative).
  • What Russia Really Wants: Control of the Baku-Tbilisi Ceyhan Pipeline, which links eastern Europe to the Black Sea.

It is wrong that Russia attacked a sovereign nation, wrong for them to push for regime change when the current Georgian government was democratically elected and wrong for them to take what is not a Russian pipeline. However, wrong does not matter here, Realpolitik does…in other words, the needs of the Russian state.

Russia has the military prowess to sustain this campaign until it gets what it needs. The UN and any other Global Diplomacy Group is going to try to negotiate a cease-fire, but there efforts will be unsuccessful unless they manage to get Russia the pipeline or a third-party jumps into the conflict and fights on the Georgian side. The US and China, in my opinion, are the only two states that can possibly fend Russia off and I don’t think either has the political capital or interest to fight a war that is not theirs.

In light of this analysis, what if the global community negotiates a cease-fire that “leases” the pipeline to Russia for 50 years at a cost of $XYZ (or whatever Russia is willing to pay). Perhaps an interest rate that varies depending on the cost of oil.

Georgia can rent the pipeline to Russia

Georgia can rent the pipeline to Russia

Yes, losing the pipeline will be a blow to Georgia, but it’s that or annihilation.

UPDATE: Russia and Georgia agreed to a cease-fire not even 12 hours after I wrote this post. I was way off base.

The six-point agreement — which the Georgians had endorsed in an earlier draft — would withdraw troops to the positions they occupied before fighting broke out Thursday. It would grant unfettered access to humanitarian aid, cease the use of force in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a second disputed territories, and begin the delicate process of negotiation over the future of the two breakaway enclaves.

I still think that what Russia ultimately wants is control over the BTC Pipeline. Perhaps they will still get their way or the international community threatened Russia with sanctions that made the whole BTC attack seem pointless. Time will tell, but I will admit that I was wrong. Big time. I’m somewhat of an alarmist;p

UPDATE: Sneaky, sneaky. The Russians signed the cease-fire then continued to push for control over Georgia. They pummeled further into the country and even bombed the BTC Pipeline—there was no damage.  A few thoughts:

1) I guess “yes” means “no”, “stop” means “go” and etc in Russia

2) Back to Realpolitik—It seems like Russia will do whatever it feels like doing.

3) I once had a friend who used to run IPOs for Russian companies. He says those people are sketchy and never to be trusted. I think he may have been right.

4) What can anyone do to stop Russia? Fight them? Lend the Georgians military equipment and money to run that equipment (this is doable, maybe)? Pro-actively bomb the pipeline, demoralize Russia, and then pay for the clean up (also doable, maybe)? Impose trade sanctions (in this weak economy? No way)?

5) Lets see what happens tomorrow—always a surprise.