Archive for April, 2008

Highways and Whole Grain

Posted in Zen and Modern Life on April 29, 2008 by cheappaper

When it comes to our highways, America likes it big.  For instance, there is Salem Sue, the worlds largest Holstein cow. There is the world’s largest tire and the world’s largest catsup bottle. There are all sorts of large people standing around, including vegetable eating celebrities, religious figures, and respected lumbering icons. (Lumbering icons also found here, here, and no doubt lots of other places).  As we all know, these monuments are simply the bait set out by the tourist traps that lurk near by.  I am not one to be fooled.

With these things in mind, I recently went shopping for bread.  To my delight, there was a new whole wheat bread with 12 grains.  (As best I can tell: wheat, millet, oats, barley, sunflower seeds, brown rice, flax, lentils, soy, spelt, malted barley, rye).  Without hesitation, I put it in my basket and head for the cash register.  I know that if 2 grains are better than one grain, then 12 grains must be better than 2.


We’re out of Ammo and the Battle’s Just Getting Warm

Posted in The Middle Ground, Violence on April 4, 2008 by cheappaper

The New York Times today reports that Al Qaeda’s latest HIPO is a brash leader named, Abu Yahya al-Libi.  A focus of the article was on a video released by Abu Yahya on  September 10, 2007.  In the video, Abu Yahya offers six strategies the U.S. and others might take in their fight for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.

Quoted in the article is Jarret Brachman, who has explained Abu Yahya’s strategy behind the video.  Dr. Brachman calls the ploy brilliant.  I agree.  He believes the action helps inoculate Jihadists from propaganda produced by countries seeking to discredit Al Qaeda.  I agree again.  Noticably absent from the discussion, however, is the issue of credibility.

In an information war, credibility is the ammunition that wins battles.  As Dan Rather knows, an error of information, a loss of credibility, and the battle is lost.  In this era, an error of information is not long hidden.

Credibility is gained a yard at a time.  It can be lost in an instant.  An error need not be intentional.  Dan Rather did not intend to lie.  He simply screwed up.  The result, in the language of labor relations, was his industrial death.

I think Abu Yahya’s stategy is more than brilliant.  He taunts the U.S. and his other enemies.  Like a school yard bully, he goads us to come fight him on his turf.  The turf at issue?  It is the hearts and minds of the moderate Muslim community.  That is, the battlefield of ideas and information.  On this battleground, bullets and bombs will do us as much harm as good.  Our best ammunition is credibility: being believed by those we are trying to convince.

The current administration, with its focus on bullets and bombs, has tossed away its most valuable weapon as worthless.  It has squandered our credibility as if it were nothing more than a fistful of sand.

I have no doubt that Abu Yahya understands that we are out of ammo and it’s time to fight.  He is aware that we are as far behind in this arms race as we were at the onset of WWII.   Unfortunately, we cannot this time rebuild our arsenal simply by cranking up our factory production or asking the public to invest in war bonds.  Credibility is not manufactured.   It is earned.  And slowly at that.

As One Might Expect, a Human Cow Hybrid

Posted in Late at Night on April 4, 2008 by cheappaper

As one might expect, the pictures of Eliot Spitzer’s prostitute hookered me my highest visit rate to date. (I was an English major. I am licensed to create new verbs).

As one might expect, being one of a few million new blog posts each day, traffic has been light. Every silver lining, however, has its cloud. Family and friends seem to click through uninvited. Too impatient to comment, they pick up the phone and give me an ear full.

One so-called friend — an urban, meat eating, cow loving, metrosexual — told me he was offended by my cow post. I really didn’t think I was talking about cows.

But in deference to my cud loving friend, I decided I would research and report back cow intelligence. To this end, I set aside ten minutes on Google.

As one might expect, the news is old. Another WordPress blogger, who clearly has more free time than I do, reports on a human-cow hybrid. Science appears to have triumphed over nature again. Closer examination, however, shows that it has done nothing more than create a genetic template that has existed for years in the natural environment.  No matter its pretense, no matter how hard it hopes to rise above its Newtonian roots, science will never be anything more than a journeyman to nature.

Bovine genes have long been combined with human genes. They long ago made the leap between the species. Evidence you ask? One need only spend a few minutes in commuter traffic before the evidence becomes indisputable.

I hope that my research will reassure my cow loving friend that cows and humans have long had a close genetic heritage and existed in an intellectual parity. Today, we have finally reached the point were we can create this hybrid artificially in the lab. In just a few short years we will be able to do so in the comfort and safety of our own homes. No doubt, a patent is pending even as I type.