Sunday, January 31, 2010

A week in review: New burger joint, a few decent laughs, exile looms

Yet another week has droned by for this werewolf in exile. Beyond the standard routine of job hunting, cover letter writing, networking, task list execution, and for the sake of stability and sanity, daily gym trips, the werewolf has a few semi-note worthy things to share.

There is a woman who bears an eerie resemblance to Helen Hunt at his gym. She's always on the same treadmill. If it is her, the last few years haven't been kind. Not from a horizontal perspective, it's just the woman's face has huge bags under the eyes. As Good as It Gets is still one of the werewolf's favorite films.

The werewolf has applied to four distinct opportunities in the energy, extractive mining, and steel industries. He hopes for at least one call-back.

An old flame turned nemesis emailed the werewolf out of the blue bitching about the tobacco industry. It caught the werewolf flat-pawed. He doesn't like being unnerved. She still lacks a sense of humor.

While on a recent visit into NYC, the werewolf discovered something new, the Black Shack: A Burger Joint. Few things excite the werewolf as much as unapologetic greasy burger joints. The Black Shack satisfies. The joint is sparse; service is attentive and quick; the burger is meaty, filling, and cheap; and the fries are crispy and salty. He'll go back. The werewolf actually met the owners while they were pouring over their spread sheets and talking market strategy one booth over. They seemed like nice and driven entrepreneurs. One of them claimed a USC MBA. 

While enjoying drinks at a bar with his brother and a good friend, the trio engaged in a brief but fascinating conversation about what foreign accent on a female is the most seductive. The werewolf's brother, the Shark, voted for an Australian accent. The werewolf recalls his friend, Patrick Bateman, suggesting a preference for a Teutonic accent.  The werewolf is highly predictable. He goes bananas for ladies with either an Anglo or Afrikaans accent from South Africa. They command a very high premium in the werewolf's valuation book.

The werewolf crossed paths with a dear friend from business school who will be completing his JD/MBA this May. Smart guy. He hates the law and has vowed never to practice it. He's looking for a finance job in NYC. Easier said than done. The werewolf and his friend commiserated about an exceedingly debaucherous New Orleans bachelor they both attended in late March of 2009. Few things make for male bonding like recalling shared memories of improbable and grotesque mischief.

It has been colder than an icicle on a polar bear's ding dong this past week. In a fitting twist of fate, the Saabstory's air conditioning died. At least it has heated seats.

As this week ends, the werewolf begins the next week with the hopes of something to liberate him from exile. Here's to something better.

The political face game: Can you tell the difference?

According to the Scientific American, a "New study shows we can tell Democrats from Republicans in head shots."

The article states: "To investigate the basis of these judgments, subjects were asked to rate photos of faces on a seven-point scale assessing personality traits such as assertiveness, maturity, likeability and trustworthiness. Subjects consistently associated Democrats with warmth (likeable and trustworthy) and Republicans with power (dominant and mature). These findings were independent of the gender of the person in the photo." Interesting.

Let's cut to the chase, which group is better looking?

Saluting AC/DC - Shoot to Thrill (Live At Donnington)

It was a year ago today that the werewolf was luckily enough to catch an AC/DC's Black Ice Tour as it rolled through Nashville. What a show! (This clip of "Shoot to Thrill" is nearly 20 years old, but has great sound quality)

Several things caught the werewolf's attention during the concert. Firstly, despite being in the business for nearly forty years, the band still has a commanding presence that radiates primal rockin' energy that left a 27 year-old werewolf utterly drained by nights end. No easy task. Secondly, the diversity of the audience. AC/DC is one of the few hard/classic rock acts that commands multi-generational audiences. In the section the werewolf was in, three generations of a family could easily be spotted, with a gray-haired grandfather telling his young granddaughter about the first time he caught AC/DC back in 1970's. Plus, the werewolf and his two graduate school buddies were seated between a group of wild teenagers and middle aged managers escaping their suburban prisons for a night. The old dudes were arguably as frenetic and wild as the high school kids. Finally, what really blew the werewolf's mind was realizing just how prolific AC/DC has been over the years. Their set-list had about 23 songs, 17 of which the werewolf knew all the words to and recognized immediately. This was not on account of listening to AC/DC everyday, but rather because their music is regularly featured in so many tangential aspects of life from multiple sporting events, TV advertisements, to being prominently featured in movie and television soundtracks.

For anyone who loves shameless rock and roll at its rawest and finest, the werewolf highly recommends catching an AC/DC how before these Australian codgers are claimed by the sands of time.

Loving husband beats wife!

This Google news image of a Reuters headline is courtesy of Instapundit. It highlights the inherent bias of journalists, especially when covering politics. People aren't stupid, but reporters seem to be. As long as coverage is conducted like this, the integrity of journalism will be under fire. Could a headline be more contradictory?

The exemplified bias has contributed to the segmentation of the media/news industry and eroded the profits of old media outlets, and allowed entities like Fox News to not only be economically viable, but to thrive. From a consumer perspective, the creation of choices is good and healthy. The werewolf's only complaint is that the legacy media still pretends that its rank and file are not biased, yet the headlines and tone of the above article prove the exact opposite. Will they ever learn?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Keane: She Sells Sanctuary

For years, the werewolf's ultimate cardio/pump-up/kick ass song has been The Cult's 1984 hit "She Sells Sanctuary." He considers it a perfect rock song. The other day, he stumbled onto this cover from the decent and understated Brit pop-rock band, Keane. As far as tributes/covers go, it gets a Guido paw pump. Enjoy.

Al Qaeda upset over Global Warming

You know your belief in bad science is in deep shit when a radical retrogressive Islamo-fascist terrorist who lives in various caves between Afghanistan and Pakistan decides it is time to jump on your sinking ship and endorse your bad science for the sake demonizing the "Great Satan." The werewolf thought this was an Onion headline at first. Nope, "Bin Laden blasts US for climate change"  is straight from the Associated Press wire. Humor sometimes manifests itself in the damnedest of ways.

Embrace the Bourbon

Via Instapundit. Embrace the Bourbon looks like a book rich with potential. The werewolf has found on several occasions that bourbon is not only a lubricant to righteously good-time, but when gently sipped, while enjoying a good book on Sunday afternoon it is aid to true relaxation and inner-peace. This book is definitely on his queue of books to be read when exile ends. 

Funny Friday: Caddyshack clip

One of many clips that make this film eternal in its humor. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tobacco Control and Free Speech — An American Dilemma

An old nemesis of the werewolf sent him this article, "Tobacco Control and Free Speech - An American Dilemma" recently published in the The New England Journal of Medicine. It provides interesting analysis of how the attempts to restrict tobacco advertising in the name of public health have shaped up recently. For anyone with an interest in free speech, advertising, public health, tobacco, advocacy, and democratic societies this makes for a great read.

A few things struck the werewolf from this article.

-Public health officials hate the 1st Amendment and view it as an impediment.

-People assume that their something virtuous in European social democracies where censorship, conditional speech, and state supremacy all kick around the individual. We have a constitution that guarantees us scared rights and has been cornerstone of our civil society since it was founded. The Europeans lack the same sense of history, document, or tradition. This needs to be highlighted and emulating them needs to be avoided like a case of the clap from $5 Mexican hooker.

-Public health officials still hide behind yesterday's "save the kids" argument. This cynicism needs to end. It's dishonest.

-Tobacco companies have ceded too much of their communications authority over the years and are scared to fight back with full effectiveness. They should be able to transparently communicate efficacy of alternative tobacco products as a worthy substitute.

-A commenter posted that there needs to be an unapologetic tobacco company. The werewolf wholeheartedly agrees. The company should be called 6 Feet Under, have three brands Death, Tumors, and Black Spot, the packs should be black, and coffin shaped,  featuring the grim reaper on them, and the slogan should read "this shit is risky as hell and may kill you, make an adult F*CKING decision, and enjoy."It would usher in a new paradigm for corporate social responsibility.

-There seems to be a desire to obstruct communications about these products or else allow the narrow-minded folks at the FDA and health groups to monopolize all information. Information should never be trusted from a single source, especially when the motives are questionable. What ever happened to the free exchange of ideas and allowing room for debate. Instead of launching new studies and coming to new conclusions, there seems to be a dependence of the health officials on yesterday's data and thoughts. Instead of being permanently adversarial, have public health officials ever thought to partner with big  tobacco in way to shape honest advertising, that allows the market to operate in the interest of the consumer, explains the risk, and allows for inter-brand competition?

Those are just a few thoughts on the article. It is a great read. The werewolf can't get over how strange the times we live in are. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quick reaction to the SOTU.

The werewolf is still waiting to be impressed by the President. He thought Obama would pivot more aggressively toward the center in light of three recent electoral wallopings. Obama seemed flat, condescending, self-centered, vague, combative and a little out-of-touch. But then again, would you expect a classically liberal werewolf to see anything less?

Ups: The content about the expansion of the nuclear power grid and more off-shore drilling permits, along with earmark reform was long overdue. The werewolf can raise a paw to those in good conscious.

Neutral: Repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. Interesting. The camera shot of Sec. Defense Gates applauding was very telling. The werewolf is deferential to the military on most personnel decisions and thinks certain things should be left to them internally. He's neutral on this issue, but thinks it is a bold move and wonders if it will go anywhere.

Downs: What was so shocking was what went unmentioned by the President. Where the hell was GITMO and the pending terror trials in NYC? Last year, the werewolf recalls these being cornerstones of the President's agenda. He missed his deadline on GITMO and has been perceived as very weak on security with his administration's propensity to mirandize all foreign Jihadists.

The slavish attachment for archaic climate legislation as the quid-pro-quo to being pro nuke and oil exploration. Climate change science gets shadier and less reputable with each passing day. It needs to be ejected, until a relevant and meaningful rationale for it can be advocated with a straight face.

The doublespeak about lobbyists. The president promised no lobbyists, yet, he hired dozens into his administration at the get-go. He should be called out for that.

Are the only advocates of that heinous healthcare bill the president and the Democratic leadership? The president was given the golden opportunity to recognize how ugly his pet project had become, yet, he doubled down on it. Brave or retarded? His ears must really be tin at this point.

The most bizarre and strangest part was the dressing down of the supreme court over the favorable 1st amendment ruling on campaign-finance reform last week. Has a US president ever directly admonished the supreme court during a SOTU? (The werewolf doesn't know) What's really galling is that Obama is the first serious presidential candidate in recent memory to bypass the public financing of his campaign. The hypocrisy and incongruity of his attack on the pro-1st amendment ruling issued by the supreme court has to be one of the most stark moments in political hypocrisy. Even liberals have to cringe at that moment.

There were still some blame Bush diatribes. At this point, with such massive Democratic majorities and an exacerbation of our collective economic woes, blaming Bush displays a lack of internal confidence and is a rhetorical slight-of-hand aimed at the gullible and partisan audiences. If he were half the man he claimed to be, he'd step up and take ownership of his presidency. That's we expect of our leaders.

The werewolf doesn't have the energy to address to jobs double-speak at this point. It all left something to be desired.

Finally, Gov. McDonnell provided a great contrast to both Obama and last year's disappointing rebuttal by Jindal. His star will be shining brighly for some time.

There is much more the werewolf would like to dissect. However, tomorrow's op-ed's and political coverage will do a much better job than your humble exiled correspondent.

Teaching econ is a full contact sport: Meet Owen Professor Luke Froeb

Luke Froeb is the man! Despite being a goofy academic, with a tragically unkempt sense of style, Luke Froeb was a highlight of the werewolf's business school experience. This little promotional featurette from Owen barely skims the surface of Froeb's addictively caustic, yet effective teaching style.

Froeb's blunt personal style, in your face attitude, and take-no-prisoners approach not only made his Managerial Economics class provocative and challenging, but also helped drive the key take-aways home in a stark and memorable fashion. Like the Yin and the Yang, his abrasiveness is balanced by his talent for being appropriately self-deprecating. He's a real gem of an instructor and memories of his classroom will stick with the werewolf for the foreseeable future.

The werewolf has always enjoyed the themes of economics, and the casual informal pursuit of it, but was always disappointed by how poorly the subject had been taught while he was an undergraduate. If the field had more professors like Luke Froeb, he thinks students would be more drawn to it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Encore for the Saab Story?

While it is way too early to declare this a happy ending, it looks like GM's red-headed stepchild, SAAB, is getting a new lease on life and being sent home to Scandinavia. Well, sort of. The WSJ offers coverage here.

Spyker, the new owner of SAAB, has announced its intention to turn SAAB into a lower-volume, more premium oriented car maker. The werewolf thinks this a bold, but troubled move. GM, the corporate king of conformity, has spent the last two decades eroding SAAB's quirky and unique image. Beyond purging its designs of all GM DNA, Spyker will have to invest heavily in reversing the damage GM has done to SAAB's brand image. The werewolf would be a very concerned investor.

However, the real drama in this tale is told in the numbers. Between 1989 and 1999, GM paid $725M to acquire SAAB in addition to assuming all of SAAB's debt and liabilities. In 2010, SAAB was sold by GM to Spyker for $74M.

TALKING HEADS: Once in a Lifetime (Live)

A timeless song. It seems particularly relevant in exile.

The werewolf finds something refreshing in David Byrne's controlled dance spasms. It reminds him of the spiritual folks who really get into their music at AME churches.

Raise your Glass to Gov. McDonnell: Virginia is For (Liquor) Lovers!: The case to privatize booze sales.

Some things speak for themselves. Great move by Governor McDonnell.

The werewolf was in a Virginia ABC last fall and was shocked by how poor the wine and liquor selection were. Needless to say, the werewolf and his compatriots went back into DC to procure the much needed swill to get them through the evening.

That being said, $17K for Scotch! Talk about diminishing returns. Yowza.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dropping the Ball: The College Republicans at George Washington University flinch

Over at the Daily Beast, Meghan McCain recently penned an interesting piece about getting dropped from an event by the George Washington University College Republicans. The GWCR's distanced themselves from her because “Ms. McCain’s views on marriage equality align with neither the Republican Party nor her father’s personal stance." Beyond embarrassingly weak reasoning, and bad politics, it was a poor move kids. You should know better. Debate is healthy, especially in college. Dissent on one issue should never cause you to flinch and cede so much credibility.

The werewolf's inner righteousness manifested during his college years while fighting the good fight against group-think inclined lefty students and myopic school administrators. He's been in the trenches and seen it all. (FYI, if someone's job title has "diversity" in it, their IQ is in the double digits and they are freakin' mean) Some of his favorite collegiate memories include his tenure as Chairman of the Emory College Republicans. Not only did he make great friends, kick liberal butt, learn a fair amount about himself, and how to grow a good organization, but he came to appreciate how valuable input from multiple perspectives is when building and maintaining an effective organization.

What made the College Republicans so great and effective was our broad membership. We had students who were pro-life, pro-choice, libertarian inclined, proud of their faith, would obsessively quote Hayek and Friedman, interested in articulating or criticizing the War in Iraq, while some just wanted to escape the tired group-think of campus. It was a great a group of students. What united us on Emory's campus wasn't a slavish devotion to the charter of Republican party or some concept of ideological purity among our ranks. (Granted we publicly supported the Republican party, which was blasphemous to some and therefore added to the thrill of dissent) Students who didn't like it, bailed. Our value proposition was a combination of rejecting the burdensome and oppressive politically correct culture at Emory, attempting to act as a force of balanced perspective on a macro-level, and frankly, providing a forum for students who felt stifled to come up for air. Along we challenging the status-quo, we hoped that some of these students would appreciate the diversity and tolerance of the College Republicans and that would create a positive association over the long-run. Healthy internal debate was another added benefit of the organization that strengthened it.

There was a heated Republican senate primary in Georgia in 2004. The Emory College Republicans were actively represented in the volunteer ranks on all three campaigns, plus we even had a few kids knocking on doors for the libertarian running. The werewolf would have salivated at an opportunity to co-sponsor an event with an LGBT organization driven by legitimate content that could foster debate. He had the proverbial door slammed on his face multiple times by Emory's Black Student Alliance during his outreach attempts. We had a strict universal policy of pro-active engagement, and would debate anybody, anytime, anywhere.

It saddens the werewolf that the College Republicans at GW are intimidated and scared of a legitimate debate or co-sponsoring something with another group from a different affiliation. Participating in events like those afford an abundance opportunity, and backing down in the manner that they did only serves to discredit and weaken them from an external perspective. Being opposed to gay marriage is an honorable and honest position, and sharing the stage with the advocates of it may give you a perspective to strengthen that position. (The werewolf supports gay marriage, but thinks the leadership of the gay marriage movement are partisan bottom-feeders worthy of scorn) No one is forcing you to change your mind. However, the act of sharing that stage itself speaks volumes about how seriously you take the debate and how comfortable you are with the strength and merits of your own position. Backing down like this was an unwarranted flinch in a game of chicken you should have won. You guys lost this round. The really sad part was that Megan McCain is one of you all.

One Biden is enough.

Beau Biden, the Vice President's son, has decided against pursuing his father's old senate in Delaware. This is a good thing for Republicans and for the national political paradigm.

On the political front, Mike Castle, Delaware's lone congressman, and well-liked former governor, has been virtually guaranteed an easy victory without any credible opposition. The RNC can spend its money elsewhere. Plus, the Republican pick-up of a traditionally safe Democrat seat can only help create more desperately needed political gridlock and power balancing in DC.

Joe "The Mouth" Biden may be one of the more amusing politicians on the national scene. His bizarre utterances are never predictable, and the werewolf values that, despite disliking the man's politics. However, the werewolf hates extreme political nepotism and political dynasties from both parties. He thinks it fosters a detachment from the people, erodes the integrity of the office, and smacks of the landed/entitled aristocracies that are best left to fester in Europe. This time last year, it looked like by virtue of his name, Biden was a sure thing for his daddy's senate seat. "Hope" and "change" have manifested themselves in the most beautiful of ways in the state of Delaware.

Too much of a good thing? Haiti flooded with doctors.

Here is an interesting CNN report out of Haiti indicating that too many doctors and not enough nurses have availed themselves to the relief effort. The article touches on some of the problems caused by an excess supply in available doctors.

"Among the problems with the large number of doctors, Auerbach said, is that patients can have their dressings opened three or four times in close succession as one and then another crew of doctors come to evaluate their wounds."

At one point over the weekend, a mass of 12 medical workers gathered around a tiny premature infant. Someone called out, "If you're not a doctor, step away!" Immediately someone else responded, "We're all doctors!"

The werewolf thinks that overkill is clearly better than underkill when it comes to the question of answering the call of those in need. (He also thinks overkill makes a great military strategy) He thinks that all of these medical volunteers need to be saluted for their willingness to step-up and contribute. However, other questions are begged by this phenomena.

Why is there such a disequilibrium between volunteer nurses and doctors in this case? At least suggested by the article.

Also, the the plighted sections of the 3rd world are rather extensive and are no-doubt in need of medical professionals, yet, there seems to be an impulse to only step-up when crisis occurs, and ignore the low-intensity situations. This isn't meant as a criticism, but rather an observation, as it clearly leads to the disequilibrium of resources clearly occurring in Haiti. Would it be more efficient, in terms of meeting macro-humanitarian objectives, to ask the glut of doctors in Haiti to be willing to finish their volunteer terms out in places like Liberia, Congo, Bangladesh, or some other derelict zone. The werewolf wonders, expense concerns aside, how many would actually answer that call?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How to help Haiti: End Aid

The Wall Street Journal's Brett Stephens has a great op-ed about how to help Haiti rebuild following the end of the humanitarian aid episode.

"A better approach recognizes the real humanity of Haitians by treating them—once the immediate and essential tasks of rescue are over—as people capable of making responsible choices. Haiti has some of the weakest property protections in the world, as well as some of the most burdensome business regulations. In 2007, it received 10 times as much in aid ($701 million) as it did in foreign investment.

Reversing those figures is a task for Haitians alone, which the outside world can help by desisting from trying to kill them with kindness. Anything short of that and the hell that has now been visited on this sad country will come to seem like merely its first circle."

The question is will "western white guilt" trump the imperative to enact tough, but meaningful reforms that may lead to tangible results. Likely.

Haiti has been a basket-case for generations, perhaps the best thing the United States can do to help Haiti stabilize is lift all import-export tariffs for the next five years on goods from Haiti and perhaps provide low-interest loans to entrepreneurs whom want to take a stab at trying to create something more meaningful than another aid dependent kleptocracy floating on a legacy of anarchy. Wishful thinking.

The Business School Experience: CPR or UPS?

This clip sums up the werewolf's business school experience. Well, not really, but close.

It was shortly after business school started, during one of those intense study sessions where nothing makes sense, while realizing the scope of the pending disaster that was Corporate Finance, that the werewolf's good friend, and partner-in-crime, the Saint Bernard, fired up this video. It immediately alleviated the asphyxiating pain of weighted average cost of capital calculations and gave the werewolf the gift of hope for the first time in a couple of weeks. Sayings like "knocking the truck window out," "givin' the man UPS," and "that's the way it was" became a coded vernacular for gauging how a particular class, day, event, was going at b-school.

The werewolf doesn't believe that having an emotional circle jerk with an over-educated therapist or binging on pre-packaged pharmaceutical wonder pills is a solution to any credible problem we face as humans. However, staring the cosmic joke that is life in the face, laughing, and moving on to the next challenge is. However, this video was a great secondary coping mechanism.

Someone very smart aptly described the b-school experience as drinking from fire-hose. Anonymity precludes the werewolf from giving credit where it is due, but rest assured, that quote is understated in its accuracy. It really only applies to the first year, and more accurately the first-half of the first year, but boy, does that quote hit the nail on the head.

The werewolf was always more of a "dreamer with an attitude" than the "master of the universe" that traditionally pursues an MBA. He certainly fits the bill as an atypical MBA searching for a career. B-school changed the werewolf in several ways, mostly for the better. In hindsight, it was a grueling, but worthwhile experience that he is thrilled he undertook. It has given him, coupled with exile a unique perspective on life. At the moment, the werewolf feels "like the man was dead" but is eagerly searching for "some UPS." Please bear with him as he tries to reflect, make sense of, and place value on his b-school education.

Smokers: Social subversives and the threshold of societal tolerance

The werewolf can't even begin to list the reasons why he loves Jeremy Clarkson's latest Times of London column "The worst thing about the smoking ban." The article masterfully hits at several important themes about the erosion of society, freedom, individuality, tolerance of permissible decadence, the expense of having free-loaders bumming a stick off you, etc. However, one observation from the article struck the werewolf as particularly poignant:

Smoking, then, has become like freemasonry or homosexuality. We have our secret signs. Our equivalent of funny handshakes and gaydar. We use tricks and nods and winks to establish a bond with other smokers. We coerce them into lighting up first, to gauge the reaction, and then we huddle around the lone ashtray, feeling lost in the room but somehow emboldened by one another’s company.

That paragraph got the werewolf thinking about modern society's threshold and tolerance for certain behaviors and lifestyle choices. Why do some formerly taboo behaviors gradually gain acceptance, while others formerly in the norm get continually more marginalized? During the werewolf's lifetime, homosexuality has evolved into a mostly accepted societal norm (a good thing for the most part) while smoking has grown more subversive, taboo, and been pushed further out to the periphery with each passing year.

The werewolf isn't suggesting that there is a direct correlation between being gay and smoking; as one is a clearly human trait, whereas the other is a lifestyle choice. He is suggesting that modern society may have problems in terms of allocating tolerance with what it wants to deem acceptable, and where it feels the need to be punitive can get a little haywire. He is also not saying that the two generate the same negative externalities. Smoking clearly has the edge on that front. However, informal observation over werewolf's lifetime and his inner MBA sees a direct correlation to the advancement and mainstreaming of homosexuality and the stigmatization of smoking. To graphically chart it, one has increased drastically, and the other has decreased. It fascinates him.

The werewolf was privileged to grow up in the heart of Los Angeles. Growing up in Southern California afforded the werewolf two observational social extremes. One of being on the cutting edge of tolerance for gays, the other being at the epicenter for the no-fun crowd and anti-smoking zealots. As a whelp, the werewolf was raised around smokers. His mother was a relentless smoker, as was his aunt, plus his best friend's father, just to name a few. It was a normal behavior and it was still kosher to smoke indoors back in those days.

He also grew up a few miles from the west coast's most famous "gay ghetto" outside of San Francisco, West Hollywood. In the late 80's and early 90's there was no shortage of decent folks who fit the modern "flaming gay" archetype constantly in the background of the werewolf's neighborhood. You know, those who float instead of walk, wore frighteningly tight jeans, were a little too toned, sported names like Troy, have lethal lisps, and displayed a variety of softer traits that in no way conveyed a sense of masculinity. God bless them. They always made the young werewolf chuckle (still do). Also, they were always present in the background and therefore integrated into the normal acceptable bandwidth of what he grew to expect from fellow humans. Perhaps the heavy exposure to both from an early age created the sense of being perfectly comfortable with each of them as a facet of a fully functioning society.

As the years progressed California prided itself on being at the forefront of inventing Jim Crow for smokers by aggressively banning most indoor smoking, insane taxes, social stigmatization, and worst of all forcing us school kids to endure ridiculous seminars from no-fun mandarins on the perils/sins/evils/villainy of smoking at the expense of school time that should have been devoted to something meaningful. One of the werewolf's fonder memories about smokers getting squeezed was during a summer internship with a financial services firm located in a downtown LA sky-rise. The werewolf's manager was a crusty old chain smoking Vietnam vet who liked to have someone to speak with when he'd go out for a smoke which was about once an hour. Given that the young werewolf was the dip-shit intern with nothing of import to do, he'd frequently be grabbed by the old salt dog, take the elevator down twenty-three floors, and go to a special zone outside and listen to stories about how since smoking helped this guy kill the v.c. for his country, it would also help serve his clients better. The werewolf also realized that his manager collected about three additional weeks of annual vacation just by virtue of the time taken to get outside to enjoy a heater.

While all of the aforementioned was going on, California was on the forefront of celebrating an easy place for gays to be mainstreamed.

To the main point of this long rambling post, does modern society have a limited amount of tolerance it is willing to distribute, and does the advancement of one cause get equalized by the stigmatization of another? Have we created a new class of subtle subversives who are getting short shrift of what society has to offer while legitimately empowering another?

Are the new social agitators and freedom activists those who dare to light up? Is the rest of society beginning to feel so constrained by do-gooderism that we'll drive smokers to bankruptcy when we want to bum a smoke from them in an attempt to express solidarity? Have we eased the natural tension of accepting a broader sexual paradigm into the norm by restricting voluntary and formerly acceptable social behaviors? The werewolf knows there are two parallel themes running in tandem here, but he can't help but feel that something is amiss with society's distribution of tolerance.

Zulu - Final Attack - Great Scene

The werewolf didn't want to leave the few readers of this blog hanging after the powerful, but gloomy opening of the film Zulu, so above please find the famous last battle sequence. Although this portion of the Battle of Rorke's Drift is considered the most fictionalized part of the film, it is still poweful in conveying essence of what makes the battle so epic in the annals of military history. There is also something captivating about the two opposing forces dueling via song and chant that captures the humanity of this scene so well.

Here's a little trivia for the true film connoisseurs out there. You'll notice chant used by the Germanic tribes featured at the beginning of the film Gladiator is the exact same chant used by the Zulus. It's a neat tribute to Zulu.

Finally, for the audiophiles, get a taste of the score from Zulu here. Awesome.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This Day in History: Battle of Rorke's Drift and the opening scene of Zulu.

One of the greatest war film openings of all time somehow seems fitting. Today marks the 131st anniversary of the Battle of Rorke's Drift. It was one of the defining moments for both the British Empire, and some historians argue the west writ large. The werewolf is an unapologetic military and imperial history buff, and a huge fan a classic war films. Richard Burton's dour voice-over along with the scenes of the devastation of the annihilated British column pave the way to one of most timeless cinematic experiences out there. Not to mention, it was one of Michael Caine's breakout roles.

Imagine roughly 130 English soldiers at a trading post in the middle of hostile Zulu country, about forty of whom are wounded or ill, getting the news of the total annihilation of their main force a few miles away. On top of that bad news, they learn that 4000 Zulu's are bearing down on them and Zulu culture does not permit prisoners to be taken. They are low on ammunition, in a weak tactical position, and going up against an emboldened warrior nation that outnumbers them more than 35 to 1. Intense.

It many regards, Rorke's Drift is a Victorian era version of the Battle of Thermopylae. The legacy of the battle showed that extreme discipline and cohesion allowed the British to successfully repel enough Zulu assaults to allow time for reinforcements to arrive. A great moment in military history when David routes Goliath. Can you dig it? The werewolf sure as hell can.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Who are the real enemies?

Bashing bankers is always fun. Despite being an MBA, and a righteous advocate of free markets, the werewolf harbors a natural skepticism towards both bankers and lawyers. They make profoundly easy targets, mostly on account of their natural arrogance and insular thinking. Still, the werewolf realizes that bankers, more so than lawyers, offer one of the most valuable services to the health and prosperity of this nation and the world. They enable people to take risks and create opportunity by extending lines of credit and providing financing. That is why he is alarmed by the President's aggressive pivot, and new populist assault on this country's larger financial institutions. The Financial Times has solid coverage here.

The werewolf feels that these moves to create bogeymen via the bankers is a cynical attempt to play politics with this nation's crucial drivers of growth. As long as the bankers are beaten down and paralyzed by reckless and punitive legislation, they will be unable to lend or extend credit that is needed to drive growth. It speaks very poorly to the president's intentions about enabling opportunities for growth and reinforces the notion that the policy wonks in his administration have been sidelined by the political hacks.

Don't get the werewolf wrong. He actually doesn't like most bankers on account of their arrogance, master of the universe persona, stunted short term thinking, and militant alpha dog attitude. While pursuing his MBA, the werewolf briefly flirted with the banking profession, like all good unoriginal MBA's, but quickly realized that he and investment banking would be uglier than watching a great dane mount a chihuahua in heat. They screwed up by taking the TARP money and proceeding to pay huge bonuses, despite the macro-challenges facing the nation. That's their arrogance that he resents so much and the subject of a different post. Still, he loves the invaluable service bankers provide and knows that despite being easy targets, they are the farthest things from being the enemy, in fact, they are one of the most important allies to growth and prosperity this county and the economy have.

There is also this desire by the populists and the left to squirt all of the blame on bankers for the macro-crisis. This is a grand and dangerous illusion that if continually pimped, will exacerbate our collective woes. The bankers deserve a solid portion of the blame, and believe me you, the recent slaughtering of banking titans like Bear Sterns, Lehmen Brothers, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, and Merrill Lynch is evidence of that. However, let us not forget that a raft of thoughtless government policies that pushed the banks to issue risky loans or face punitive action, government sponsored entities like Fannie and Freddie Mae that distorted the market place, or the fact that millions of borrowers willfully misrepresented themselves on financial disclosure loan documents, all served to be the catalyst for the perfect storm that struck sixteen months ago. It's time to adjust the incentive structure and perhaps require different capital ratios for banks to make loans, etc, but beating them down even more helps no one at this point.

Assaulting and hating bankers isn't the solution. The president should know better. Shame on him. We have real enemies in the form of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Mullahs in Iran, Hugo Chavez, and the North Koreans. Let's keep that in mind as we move forward.

Funny Friday: News Blopper of the Decade, Shep Smith at Fox.

The werewolf doesn't laugh enough in exile. Funny Friday is an attempt to remedy this ill. Youtube helped get the werewolf through the tougher quarters of b-school, it ought still be a great crutch. Clips like this are timeless. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Air America crashes for the last time.

Several hours ago, Air America announced it has ceased all programming and is terminating operations, effective immediately. That's fine by the werewolf. From all reports, it possessed heinous programming. Even the werewolf's liberal friends trashed it.

From it's very inception, Air America struck him as an unviable business operation because it wasn't founded to fulfill a legitimate market need. Beyond all other things, business is only worth pursuing if there is demonstrable market demand for it on some level. Air America, spat in face of common business sense and the marketplace, and was founded because a few liberals, accustomed to their inherited print and television media monopolies, couldn't figure out why they didn't have a stronger radio format presence. First of all, the fact that these investors were blind to the publicly subsidized presence of NPR as the 800lb gorilla of liberal radio makes the fact that they got cleaned out and lost their money very amusing. He's impressed that it took six years for Air America to crash for the last time. The werewolf listens to NPR semi-frequently, and thinks on occasion their programming is decent from a human interest perspective, although anyone with a GED could spot their analysis is unabashedly left-of-center. (Not a bad thing, just the way it is, as most talk radio formats are right-of-center) They are unquestionably the voice of uninhibited liberalism on America's airwaves and most of their market is the hoity-toity urbanites and other liberals making their morning and evening commutes. From a corporate governance perspective, it shocks the werewolf that this facet of the strategic landscape was not considered before launching Air America and it stinks of a professional liability suit somewhere along the line. The market Air America went after was fully saturated. The proof is in the pudding as the nails have been driven into the coffin of Air America and NPR is trucking along just fine. The question the werewolf has, would NPR be able to survive if it weren't publicly subsidized? Alas, he gets ahead of himself.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

David Bowie - Heroes (live)

David Bowie just gets better with age. Watching this performance of "Heroes" confirms that. If you're feet aren't tapping by the second minute, you have no soul.

Sure he's a strange cat, but who in that industry isn't part freak show? He's been an active musician since 1964 and has held up remarkably well. Bowie, along with Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, and Axel Rose of Guns N Roses,(both werewolf approved) may have one of the most distinctive and memorable voices in rock.

Anyhow, the werewolf's younger brother, the Shark, used to rib the shit out of the werewolf for being a David Bowie fan back in the days of Napster. (The werewolf was shameless and got his hands on more music than he cares to admit.) I think we can all agree that the 1980's were a tad rough on Bowie(with the exception of Labyrinth), but his glam-rock songs like "Heroes," "Rebel Rebel," and "Suffragette City," have earned him a place in pantheon of great rockers. Enjoy.

GlaxoSmithKline sets a great example.

The Guardian is featuring an article about GSK's CEO, Andrew Witty, who recently announced that GSK will open its internal research findings on malaria drugs to the global health community to hopefully expedite the search for a cure. It's a brilliant move on GSK's part and it clearly showcases the power of disciplined corporate social responsibility as a management philosophy. Given the time consuming, capital intensive, and complex trial and error research approach with a variable hit ratio that yields successful drugs, it makes sense from a moral, ethical, financial, and strategic perspective to release this data. GSK doesn't have the time, money, or will to bark up the 13,000 research leads it is releasing to the world, yet, releasing them undoubtedly increases the chances of producing aproduct that can measurably improve peoples lives. It's a win-win of the best sort.

Pharma has long been in a bind. They perform an invaluable service to humanity and have been doing so for the most honest of motives, profit. Regressives, left-wingers, and even some liberals have long wallowed in the sea of their ignorance of basic economics and shamelessly hounded pharma for "not doing enough." Well, given the FDA has increased the barriers to research through insane bureaucratic standardization, that pharma is inherently a high risk, high reward industry, and that profits reaped are in part needed to sustain these various research initiatives since most flop, pharma has had to be judicious in guarding their intellectual property. GSK gets a huge image improvement, paves the way for pharma to reassess how they manage their internal research flows, shuts up the ignorant lefties(wishful thinking), helps sick populations, and allows itself to focus on drugs with high profit returns that can sustain the cycle.

In an age of changing consumer expectations, increased corporate transparency, and broader stakeholder constituency awareness, the werewolf has long realzied that the opportunity of a well integrated CSR strategy, and the upside it presents to the bottom-line, is too important to leave to the anti-capitalistic, self-loathing do-gooders who frequently claim to be stewards of CSR. They are the enemy. Capitalism and free-markets are the path to humanity's prosperity. CSR, properly executed, reaffirms that very notion.

Mort Zuckerman: He's Done Everything Wrong!

Mort Zuckerman, the impressive media mogul, publisher, entrepreneur, and staunch Obama supporter, lays out an incredibly thoughtful and detailed analysis about the President's massive failures in his latest article for The Daily Beast, "He's Done Everything Wrong." It's a quick and thought provoking read. It's remarkable how tone deaf management in both the White House and Capitol Hill are these days. Here's a quick glimpse of a highlight from the article:

"In the campaign, he said he would change politics as usual. He did change them. It’s now worse than it was. I’ve now seen the kind of buying off of politicians that I’ve never seen before. It’s politically corrupt and it’s starting at the top. It’s revolting.

Five states got deals on health care—one of them was Harry Reid’s. It is disgusting, just disgusting. I’ve never seen anything like it. The unions just got them to drop the tax on Cadillac plans in the health-care bill. It was pure union politics. They just went along with it. It’s a bizarre form of political corruption. It’s bribery. I suppose they could say, that’s the system. He was supposed to change it or try to change it."

The no-fun crowd across the pond.

Via The Economist, there is a movement currently afoot in the United Kingdom to legislate price floors for discount alcohol. In an attempt to "save lives," (that's the worst lie these people will ever tell you, it's all about power and control) they are considering mandating a price increase for bottom-shelf booze by more than a factor of three, in order to curb the consumption of the bottom-shelf booze by increasing the acquisition threshold. What ignorant sluts!

Firstly, this is highly punitive against low-income earners. Why limit their access to something they enjoy? It seems highly elitist and classist. This law will not change middle and high income earner consumption patterns. The werewolf firmly believes that all decent citizens of any civilized nation should have access to alcohol. It's a human right.

Secondly, this assumes that these people whom they are maliciously targeting will be dissuaded by the new cost barrier. They are likely to reallocate the funds from elsewhere in their budget and switch to a mid-tier brand to consume at the same rate. Being a hard drinker is like being a smoker, you'll find ways to support your habit. Additionally, it may give rise to home-brewing or other alternatives. It may even give rise to a small black market for the current inventory to be moved. Therefor nothing has been achieved except anti-poor people taxes being passed in the name of do-gooderism.

Thirdly, it targets the manufacturers of cheap swill. What have they done wrong other than find and fulfill a market need? While the bottom shelfers get hammered, other producers of mid and higher shelf brands and products may experience an influx of new consumers as the consumption hierarchy realigns itself. It will also likely impact retailers, as the ones who moved the cheap stuff in volume will likely see their primary market vanish. It is a perverse meddling in the market, that will benefit some producers at the expense of others, while sodomizing low-income earners. Where's the justice in that?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The SCOTT heard around the world!

The werewolf's tail is wagging with uncontrolled joy and he can barely keep his paws still. To think that one year ago today, President Obama was being inaugurated on the empty wave of "hope and change" and now the bluest of the blue states has elected a semi-conservative Republican to fill the sloppy Kennedy's seat is truly a historic moment. Incredible. *Guido Fist Pump!*

While this is an important and historic victory, with profound ramifications, it is by no means license for the GOP or the various voices of rational thought to get complacent or ahead of themselves. There is still much to do before November. Watching the fallout and how the dust settles over the next few days ought to be interesting. Also, the werewolf wonders if the profound shock waves of this election may save the Democrats from their own suicidal approach to politics as the gravitational pull anchors them back to reality. He hopes not.

Kabul Assaulted: The Taliban's Tet Offensive?

Given the saturation of Haiti coverage and the whirlwind of excitement around Scott Brown, this disturbing development in Kabul has gone largely unnoticed. According to The New York Times, a well coordinated multi-faceted assault by Taliban suicide bombers and soldiers came very close to penetrating key Afghan governmental buildings. Green Aghan soliders, with limited support from a contingent of New Zealanders, were able to repel the attack and restore order. However, perception is everything and it must be very disturbing to have terrorist insurgents waging war in the streets of that fledgling nation's capital. The Times is clearly pushing the point of view that the Taliban is resurgent, however, the werewolf wonders if the opposite isn't true on some levels.

Sometimes spectacular attacks, such as these, are the throws of desperation, trying to mask weakness by marshaling every resource in a show of false force. It smells of classic slight of hand strategy and deception 101. Is this the time for the President to double down and go after the Taliban with everything we have? It was pathetic that the President played petty politics with Afghanistan by authorizing only a partial release of the troops requested by General McChrystal after months of of empty debate(Better something than nothing, but still). Yet, he releases 10,000 troops to Haiti in a heartbeat. We need to shit or get of the pot when it comes to deciding if we are serious about helping the Afghan government we installed and eradicating the Taliban. The werewolf firmly believes it is high-time to double down on some horse laxatives and to purge our bowels in an explosive fashion with the Taliban on the receiving end. Nothing would shame the werewolf more than America abandoning our allies and replaying the failure of Vietnam.

Although the werewolf was still more than a decade away from even being conceived, this reminds him of the 1968 Tet Offensive. Despite suffering substantial tactical defeats and the severe loss of manpower and leadership, the Viet Cong(the bad guys in the Vietnam War) were able to spin their failed assault into a huge PR victory, breathing new life into their almost lost cause. Idiots like Walter Cronkite, failed to read between the lines, and saw the Tet Offensive as symbolic victory, doing the VC's dirty work and laying the ground work for American failure. The werewolf just hopes that Vietnam doesn't repeat itself, with the Americans and their allies winning the tactical and military conflict, only to lose the PR and strategy conflict. He hopes people keep history in mind when they read these stories. So much is at stake.

Haiti: Thinking about tomorrow & Avoiding mission creep.

Haiti is broken. It is the most pathetic example of humanity at work on the face of this globe. Statelessness, confusion, anarchy, and emptiness fail to adequately capture Haiti's prospects at the moment. As the 21st century dawns, the world looks to Haiti to understand the rawest form of Hobbes' "state of nature". It is not pretty. The werewolf firmly supports the humanitarian relief being spearheaded by the United States at the moment. However, this relief is not enduring, and eventually it will have to end. Herein lies the problem. What the hell happens next?

The most recent Haitian government, under President Perval, has proven it is more useless than a flaccid penis on a eunuch since last week's devastation. Any semblance of government was totally wiped out and is nowhere to be found. Pathetic, but telling. One of Haiti's former dictator's, Baby Doc Duvalier, living a pedestrian life in exile, has pledged money that isn't his to aid relief efforts, and there are even grumblings about a comeback. Hopefully any chatter about bringing the criminal Aristide back from his exile in South Africa ends before the thought is complete. Here lies a major problem for tomorrow's Haiti. There is no credible source of domestic governance.

The werewolf chalks this up to several things. Firstly, Haiti has such a broken sense of civil society, that without a violent cult-like strongman, a la Papa Doc, there is no civil respect for central authority(This is NOT an endorsement of Papa Doc, just an observation). Secondly, it seemed as if Haiti's most recent governments have outsourced most of their management and governing duties to NGO's and the UN. That is why they vanished when the quake struck. They were virtually invisible to begin with. Herein lies the real problem, Haiti as it recently/currently exists, is a slave to both NGO's and the UN. There is an ugly downside to do-gooderism of those who want to help the world's blighted people. You make them dependent and strip them of their sense of self. As long as these forces are present, Haiti can never make a stab at being a state again (Perhaps it shouldn't, but what then?). The werewolf doesn't want the dedicated soldiers of the 82nd Airborne or the Marine Expeditionary Force, currently trying to stabilize Haiti, to be permanent facets of Haiti's near-term future. What's the solution? It is a really ugly picture.

The Europeans, the French in particular, have the temerity to accuse the American's of trying to occupy Haiti and create a colony. Up yours, jerks! Where are your carriers and massive aid flotillas? That's right, you wouldn't dare sully your uniforms and get your hands dirty unless their was some direct benefit to you. The French still suck. Here's the latest insincere apology over that ridiculous flap. This post will ignore the vile commentary from Venezuela's ignoramus-in-chief, Hugo Chavez.

Back to the point, there are endless op-eds, articles, and musings in all media about what to do with Haiti. The werewolf doesn't know. He's just an unemployed MBA looking for purpose. He fears that America will suffer from "mission creep." If it isn't careful, it may find itself stuck with Haiti as a new, and unwarranted, appendage. The werewolf isn't comfortable with nation-building, and believes that America lacks the will to do it right(despite having the resources), should it elect to try, and therefore nation-building should be avoided. However, making Haiti a permanent ward of the NGO's and the UN smacks of colonialism in the worst hands, and doing nothing may create a barbaric vacuum of anything decent a few hundred miles from our shoreline(back to the status quo?). It's a lose-lose. The question remains, where and when, is it acceptable to cut losses as it relates to Haiti?

The werewolf is curious what the few readers out there actually think.

Goldfrapp: Fly Me Away

Exile has forced the werewolf to make the local Starbuck's his de facto office. He usually finds their ambient music selection strange and forgettable. However, this song was played yesterday and it stuck with him. There is something extremely intoxicating and soothing about Goldfrapp's voice. Beyond being simple, catchy, and a tad too electronic, the werewolf finds he likes this song the more he listens to it. It's very easy to sway to this song.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brown Rising? Let's hope so.

The blogosphere has been ablaze with speculation about tomorrow's special election in Massachusetts. For good reason, it's the most remarkable political story this country has seen in some time. A little known Republican state senator, Scott Brown, is challenging the chosen successor to Teddy Kennedy's former senate seat in the bluest of the blue states. In some ways, Brown's spectacular rise is not dissimilar to the origins of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But the werewolf doesn't want to get ahead of himself.

There are multiple dynamics that make this race remarkable. Many perceive it as a national referendum on the vile health cae legislation currently under consideration, some see it as a referendum on Obama himself. The democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, has been subjected to heinous attacks from her own party as they preemptively write her obituary to mitigate the fallout from a potential defeat. (If she wins, payback could be a bitch to key national democrats) She has also run a lazy and gaffe prone campaign. Whereas, Brown has run a highly disciplined and impressive campaign that has propelled him to the national spotlight.

As for predictions, this is a toughie. Turnout for special elections is always tough to gauge. Plus, this race is a real barn burner. It's shocking that Brown leads in most polls in a state where Democratic registration outweighs Republicans by more than a 3 to 1 ratio. It's legit, just shocking, and speaks to how poorly Americans view those in power. This may also lend some steam to the notion that Democrats have severely misread their mandate and are futher out of touch than anyone fathomed. Beyond a natural registration advantage, Democrats are also extremely gifted at stealing elections, so if it is close, the Democrat machine may tip the scales for Coakley. Plus, Massachusetts hasn't had a Republican senator since Edward Brooke left the senate in 1979.

The werewolf is pulling for Brown. He thinks he has all the momentum, is amazed by his discipline and prowess, but isn't ready to call it for Brown because it feels premature, and he learned long ago, to hold your hope in reserve. Regardless of tomorrow's outcome, 2010 looks to be a very bad year for Democrats. That unto itself gives the werewolf cause to grin.

The werewolf also wonders, if Brown wins, does it merit consideration for something larger in 2012?

Jack is back: 24's 8th season launched

It was during college that werewolf was sucked into 24. Season 3 was his point of entry back in the day. Although each season requires further suspension of an already exhausted disbelief, the werewolf obediently complies and gets ready for the whatever new ridiculous thrill ride the writers at Fox have in store for him. The show centers around the trials and tribulations of counter-terrorist bad-ass and modern day Captain America, Jack Bauer. Given the status of that name in pop-culture, it needs no introduction.

So much has happened over the last seven seasons, including African frogmen seizing the White House, Southern California getting nuked twice, Jack shooting his boss, Jack coming back from the dead multiple times, renegade Air Force officers shooting down Air Force One, Jack shooting his good friend, Jack being a heroine addict, Jack killing his brother and father...all too much to process properly looking back on it. Did I mention that African frogmen seized the White House at one point? Yes, the show is beyond ridiculous, and this season doesn't seem any less so...

The first two hours of season 8 have had Jack come out of retirement and embed an axe in a bad guy's chest; introduced us to an evil one man Russian army, who works as NYC cop by day; a reform oriented Iranian president, too good to be true, and his duplicitous brother; the return of Hillary Clinton as President of the USA; the requisite self-promoting and immoral counter-terror chief who will doubt and thwart Jack, despite the fact that Jack is never wrong; plus the the large chested blond chick who wears a cocktail dress to work as government functionary at the counter intelligence office. Yes, it sounds like several other seasons of 24. Older, wiser, and harder to impress, the werewolf is buckling up for another season of 24. That's the best he can do in exile.

Lazy sartorial analysis from the Financial Times.

Once upon a time, the werewolf considered himself somewhat savvy when it came to the realm of traditional men's style. He hopes that exile hasn't dulled his sartorial sensibilities. However, this article (registration may be required) from the Financial Times, by Vanessa Friedman, shows that Ms. Friedman possesses an embarrassing ignorance of American style trends in politics over the past decade. She's vapidly attributes the blue-tie craze to Obama, when in fact blue-ties were the hallmark cravat of the Bush administration. It was under President Bush that "blue became the new red" in terms of displaying power ties. The media extensively covered Bush, as the outgoing blue-tie president, here and here. In fact, one fashion photographer thought that Obama replicated Bush's style so much, that he put together a quiz. Take it. (The werewolf bets you fail). This isn't even a partisan jab. The werewolf loved Tony Blair's style, and finds Gordon Brown drabness just cause for blinding himself.

Neither Bush nor Obama are particularly stunning with regards to their suit selections. Bush seemed to wear slightly fuller suits, whereas, Obama's seems to have slightly trimmer cuts to fit his more slender frame. However, as President's of the United States, both seem to appropriately error on the side of understatement in their professional presentation.

The werewolf thinks the banking CEO's, (also featured in the article) knowing that they are in deep poop, deliberately picked the most boring ties and dullest suits they could find in order to minimize any point of contention during their senate hearings. Recall that the auto CEO's were roundly criticized for flying to DC in their corporate jets to beg for their bailout money. Bankers have a reputation as flashy dressers, so raiding the nearest Jos A. Bank's was both a prudent and logical PR move on their end. Well executed, gentlemen. The werewolf will now wonder where the hell you are spending the trillions of dollars in bonuses and bailouts you have received, because you're both dressed like an impoverished sales associate at the Men's Warehouse.

The media seems to love to find reasons to fellate President Obama. They usually miss the mark by a wide margin, but missing it by this far, well, that is just embarrassing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Substance versus Style

Michael Barone, the political virtuoso and author of The Almanac of American Politics, has a interesting article contrasting substance versus style as it pertains to current state of American politics. It begs some interesting questions in light of recent revelations pursuant to Obama's governance style. His rhetorical talent and ability to leverage his lack of a record and experience clearly helped him clear the hurdles to victory in 2008. However, the great gamble on Obama was betting that his style would eventually translate into substance. Given the opaque and shady heath care reform process, the blatant buy-off by the unions, the punitive tax proposals, the abandonment of the gays, and the increasing government encroachment in the private sector, Obama's actions scream to the lack of substance being derive from his style. At his best, he's another empty suit parroting yesterday's failed liberalism, and the longer his style is adrift and doesn't jive with the substance it allegedly pimps, the quicker his brand will erode.

This brings us to a second point, the tea party movement. Barone hits the nail on his head with regard to the fact that the so called intelligentsia has long ceased to generate new ideas. It's as if they grew content with John Maynard Keynes and yesterday's failed notions of high liberalism, like LBJ's "great society." Throwing a new coat of paint on a rusty old jalopy, doesn't change the fact that the car in question is still archaic and out-dated. The werewolf doesn't like it when someone pisses on his leg and tells him that it is raining outside. This is the vibe he gets from the ideas that drive modern liberalism, and it scares him because of the monopoly they hold on political power at the moment. (This observation doesn't bestow automatic regard or credit to the Republicans, they to, have grown lazy and complacent) This is also what is fascinating about the tea parties. They are clearly a third rail that has formed in the modern political scene. They may have common cause with the Republicans in some elections, but they are hardly reflective of mainstream GOP thinking or establishment ideals. In fact, the werewolf's friends in the RNC are very concerned about the tea parties. However, the idea that average Americans, provincial to their very core, are the new leaders when it comes to forward-thinking and idea generation is worthy. The werewolf doesn't identify with the tea-parties that much, but he does identify with an anti-incumbency, anti-status quo, movement that prioritizes substance over style. That is what make the tea parties such an interesting phenomenon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reel Big Fish: Take On Me - EXIT/IN 1/16/2009

One of the highlights of life in Nashville was the smorgasbord of perpetual music acts always rolling through town. The werewolf had the good fortune to actually have attended the concert featured in this youtube clip. He can't believe it has been a year already. The frenetic energy and juvenile hi-jinx of Reel Big Fish make their shows an incredibly good time. Plus, what's not to love about a ska-punk cover of a goofy Norwegian 80's hit? Enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bacon: Keeping mankind smart.

Can you dig it? The werewolf sure as hell can. This Daily Mail article, via Instapundit, suggests that eating bacon is good for gestating babies in their mama's womb. It makes them smarter. Nobody wants dumb babies.

What are vegetarians going to do?

Finally, there is some health news that makes sense to werewolf. If only bourbon could work itself into this equation.

Lonnie's: The best place on earth.

Catholics have the Vatican, Muslims have Mecca, kids have Disneyland, gays have San Francisco, and the werewolf has Lonnie's Western Room in Nashville, Tennessee. When the werewolf passes from this earth, his one request may be that the memorial service be held at Lonnie's.

This clip captures a remarkable specimen of humanity that is frequently on display at Lonnie's. The dude's name is Omar and the stomach slap is epic.

For better or worse, the werewolf spent a lot time engaging in tomfoolery and his second favorite pastime of blitzed karaoke on that stage. Exile has caused the werewolf to look back on the fonder moments of his odd life, and Lonnie's is regularly on the recall register. There will be a forthcoming post about karaoke, werewolf style, along with more thoughts on the legendary nature of Lonnie's. In the meantime, the werewolf assures his readers that the 40-second clip above is well worth their time.

Truths We Dare Not Speak: The subtle Orwellian shift

Victor Davis Hanson's latest post, "Truths We Dare Not Speak", hammers home some of the great unmentioned aspects about what is "permissible" to discuss in the modern political paradigm. The werewolf has always thought how tragically amusing it was that "collective memory" transfers certain topics from "tip-of-tongue" outrage, to the dustbin of the deliberately forgotten or intentionally neglected. Hanson's article focuses on illegal immigration, the Iraq War, affirmative action, Ivy League elitism, and the "Middle East." Here are a few highlights from each subject covered in the article to whet your appetite:

Illegal Immigration and California

I’ll pass on increased per capita rates of crime, gangs, etc. that are considered too illiberal to mention. But if studies are correct that anyone who comes north, without English, legality, and education, over his life-cycle will have to draw somewhere between $50,000 and $70,000 more in entitlements than he contributes in various taxes, and if we were to prorate that on an annual basis, and if we were to multiply that by several million, then one can envision an annual outlay of several billion in state expenditures.

Instead, illegal immigration is never much cited as a contributor to California’s fiscal implosion. To mention all this is considered racist. Yet, to take one instance, the cost of incarcerating the state’s illegal aliens alone exceeds the budget of the new UC Merced, a campus intended to serve mostly minority communities of the central valley.


We are tired of Iraq and have Trotskyized it out of our existence, given the huge cost and 4,000 dead.

But consider: not a single America died in Iraq in December (38 murdered in Chicago during that period); three have been lost this month (24 murdered so far this month in Chicago).

No one has officially said they were wrong in alleging “No Blood for Oil.” But we got no oil from Iraq. The price rose after we invaded. The Chinese, Russians, and Europeans got the contracts in free and fair bidding.

(Contrast Saddam’s rigged pre-war, quid-pro-quo oil concessions to the corrupt French). There was no Halliburton conspiracy to steal resources. The left often now, mirabile dictu, accuses us of being na├»ve in bleeding to give others the resources that they once accused us of wishing to steal. Barack Obama still talks of Iraq as a mistake, even as he quietly ignores his own prescriptions to have gotten out by early 2008, and to have stopped the surge—and continues to follow the Petraeus/Bush plan.

Affirmative Action

The concept was noble, but now antiquated and mostly absurd. It requires the logic of the Old Confederacy to determine racial purity among the intermarried citizenry. Jet-black Punjabis get no preferences. Light-skinned Mexican-Americans of the fourth-generation claim privilege. Poor whites from Tulare don’t rank. The children of black dentists do. I see very little logic here.

Asians? We both claim them as minorities, and yet we discriminate against them at the University of California admissions process on the basis of their own superior achievement. (Apparently, the deplorable record of discrimination against Asians is now deemed irrelevant due to the community’s own success. Ponder the ramifications of that for a bit: should Asians have been struggling at UC, they would be considered suffering from the legacy of oppression; since they are excelling, they need to be quietly discriminated against).

The Ivy League is a Naked Emperor

By Ivy League I do not mean just Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, but the entire concept of high-priced elite schools like a Stanford, Duke, or Columbia as well. We know a BA from such institutions does not ipso facto any longer, as it once may well have, guarantee knowledge or competence. We know the race/class/gender craze has watered down the curriculum, and ensured therapy and empathy trump recall of facts and adherence to the inductive method. And we know that one’s first two years will probably mean instruction largely by graduate students and lecturers.

Had we national exit requirements, I am convinced those leaving a Hillsdale College or St. Thomas Aquinas or St. John’s would do better than the average Yale BA.

The “Middle East” is a Fraud

Why do we beat ourselves up over Israel and the Palestinians? Why not occupied Cyprus? Or the Kuriles? Or South Ossetia? Or the divided city of Nicosia? Is there a “Falklands Question”?

Why are not Germans blowing themselves up in Gdansk, the former East Prussia, the Alsace, or old Silesia to recover “lost” land?

Were there no Israeli-Arab wars before the “occupation” of 1967? Does anyone think that, should the West Bank simply take a 30-year break from the violence, emulate Western business and government, draw in Gulf capital, a few thousands acres here or there would then be still be relevant?

Are the far poorer people of Chad blowing themselves up? Is the world crying for those in the slums of Lima? Does want and famine drive those in rural China to capture the world’s attention by virtue of their terrorist acts? Do we send special envoys to occupied Tibet? Is there a Green Line there?

Sorry—take away three things, and the Mideast “crisis” is relegated to Cypriote status. If there were no oil in the Arab Middle East; if there were no Islamic terrorists; and if there was no endemic global anti-Semitism, we would be as likely to have a “Mideast czar” as we would an “Ossetian Czar.”

Although the article itself is not too long, the aforementioned reflects the best excerpts from it. If you have the time, it is highly recommended reading. Pursuant to the topics themselves, the werewolf thinks their relegation to the tertiary rings of the public discourse represents a dangerous trend for thought and perspective in this country.

Growing up in California, the illegal immigration debate was always front and center. The werewolf vividly recalls the intense debate around Proposition 187 which occurred when he was in junior highschool and he fondly remembers Governor Pete Wilson's respectable and tough stance on the issue. Although there is some talk about amnesty these days, addressing the actual issue of illegal immigration seems no where as present as it once was. Plus, the frequent and hateful hurling of "racist" by the left has diluted the merits around this important discussion. It the republic is to sustain itself, this issue will need to be addressed. The werewolf thinks the intense desire expressed by the blighted populations of the world to get to America by any means necessary speaks to America's exceptionalism and reaffirm his belief that America is unquestionably the greatest nation. Cubans and Haitians face the shark infested waters around Florida in rickety rafts and inner-tubes, Asian boat people spend months in utter squalor in the cargo holds of merchant vessels, and Latin Americans face dangerous desert crossings all motivated by the intrinsic ideal and that something better awaits in the United States. While the extreme efforts displayed touch his heart, the werewolf recognizes the costs of tolerating an unchecked inflow of human capital is unsustainable and needs to be halted. He thinks the issue needs to be moved to foreground promptly, and America should still entice those who want to make their home here, but in a regulated and orderly fashion that incentivizes assimilation, meets America's internal human capital needs, respects our sovereignty and the rule-of-law, while still making the American dream attainable. There is no direct policy prescription, yet, but the issue isn't about being racist, it's about sustainability and responsibility, and that needs to be hammered home.

Iraq has all but vanished from the headlines. The werewolf recalls the multi-year stretch where the front page of every newspaper splashed pictures of the violence, U.S. casualty counts, and how hopeless the situation was. He also recalls the bigoted left and their anti-enlightened bumper stickers screeching about "NO BLOOD FOR OIL." Well, as anyone who reads the paper knows from articles deliberately buried on the last pages, or as indicated in this article, the U.S. did not win an contracts for oil, and the violence from the insurgency aimed at the US has all but vanished. Iraq is still a tough place, has many hurdles and growing pains ahead of it, but, it looks like President Bush, General Petraeus, and the "surge" worked and a degree of victory can be claimed. The werewolf is of two minds why the latest news out of Iraq has been banished to the innards of the newspapers. One, Bush is no longer president, and therefor Iraq can't be manipulated to discredit him any longer or used as a pugil to bash the GOP. Secondly, the werewolf really thinks the over-emphasizing of negative and depressing events, and spinning the darkest elements of any tale, is still a crucial component to generating buzz and moving news products. He is all about full transparency, doesn't view the world with rose-tinted lenses, and is a realist about how twisted and broken the world can be, but there is always a Yin to the Yang, and that needs more attention as portraits of the world are painted.

Affirmative action has become a cottage industry for the likes of Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, and other race hustlers. The moral bankruptcy of it as concept occurred a generation ago, yet, with all of those invested in pimping racial acrimony and tension, it'll be here to stay. One would think that a half-black president getting elected by a nation that is majority white would silence the tired and vapid chorus of the racial preference industry, but sadly, too many people have welded themselves to yesterday's dead causes, at the expense of tomorrow's honesty and betterment. Oh well. Just call bullshit where you see it.

It's interesting to watch the decline of the Ivy League. As the product of decently reputable -but not Ivy league- schools himself, the werewolf is fascinated by the gradual decline. There are many things to attribute to it, however, the cost paradigm is what he thinks will eventually do them all in. (The elitist crap has side-effects, but will not be driver) As the population continues to grow, capital for the middle class gets reallocated differently, and there ceases to be a justification for the excessive tuition charged by the elite private schools, especially as the return-on-investment (ROI), gets harder to calculate. The werewolf is convinced that flagship state institutions that offer the same measurable and perceived quality, will become the new preferred destination and hyper elite school sets. With the exception of a few highly specialized graduate divisions, he thinks the Ivy's will have to work harder than they think to stay relevant. Many of the Ivy's and elites schools have poorly managed huge portions of their endowments. This will drive even more people away as they raise tuition to cover their poor investment choices, while cutting back on programs that may have distinguished them. It'll be interesting to watch.

The werewolf is an Africanist by education and passion, and everything that comes out of the middle east, exacerbates his migraines. He thinks that Hanson calls out the bullshit beautifully. That being said, as long as the middle east commands a large portion of the commodity oil, is the focus of western diplomatic efforts, and is a source of global jihad, putting up with the ridiculous terms and realities of it are a de facto headache the world will have to tolerate. He would like to see more intellectual challenges to the perceived understanding regarding the rest of the world's flash points. Wishful thinking.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Disaster Cubed: Haiti's Plight.

The magnitude of yesterday's devastating earthquake in Haiti is becoming clear. The cataclysmic scale is heart retching and disturbing. Drudgereport estimates nearly 500,000 dead. Here's the latest from the Associated Press. Every resource that can be spared from the United States, should be directed to helping the Haitian's regroup. Herbert Gold wrote a great book, Haiti: The Best Nightmare on Earth, that paints a profound portrait of Haiti's permanent societal and civil dysfunction. After yesterday's calamity, Haiti may have just become the most squalid, miserable, portion of the earth that hosts human habitation. Here's a great link on how to help via The Anchoress. If you're a person of faith, some prayers couldn't hurt either. Anyhow, godspeed to the Haitian's in recovering from this catastrophe.

Good for Google

It looks like Google is growing a pair. According this NY Times article, Google may be withdrawing from the Chinese market. A series of Chinese state-sponsored hacks into Google managed email addresses for anti-Chinese government agitators has prompted this move.

The werewolf has no problem with doing business in China, as long as you are honest about the pros and cons. China is a growth market on some levels, can potentially offer cost-savings to American companies, can offer American consumers cheaper priced goods, and can even emerge as a destination market for American exports at some point. He believes businesses have a responsibility to consider it as an option, if serious production synergies and value can be created. However, the werewolf also thinks the politburo in Beijing is loaded with some really nasty customers, that the mid-level bureaucracy is woefully corrupt, and that there is a moral cost do doing business with a murderous totalitarian regime. Just be upfront about your business decisions. We live in an age where businesses need to leverage all options to succeed and create the value that benefits us all. Plus, China isn't the only nasty regime where companies do business, it just happens to be the biggest nasty regime in world.

Herein lies the rub for Google. First of all, the werewolf thinks Google is managed by some of the most pretentious falsely moral hippie capitalistic butt plugs in the world. (He loves the hippie capitalist part) However, despite always being angry at them for their pretentiousness and empty moral preening, he uses a bunch of their products. The werewolf has a gmail account, he likes Chrome, and despite an effort to try and use more often, he still finds himself reflexively using google as his primary search engine. What can he say, the butt plugs make some excellent products.

However, the butt plugs at Google have an informal motto "Don't be evil." Google is really proud of that motto and wears it like a tramp stamp on their lower back. Fine. The werewolf actually agrees with the component of the ethos that drove the motto that emphasizes long term strategic considerations over quarterly profits. Evil can be construed as many things, and there isn't enough space to deep dive into that philosophical debate. Although, there is very little wiggle room when you strike a deal with a severely oppressive regime to enter their market and agree to completely comply with that awful regime's obscene censorship regulations. In a bid to enter the Chinese market, Google dropped their trousers and allowed Beijing to rough ride everything Google claimed to stand for. That hypocrisy never sat well with the werewolf and he resented the continual moral posturing and preening from the company, despite being a willing accomplice to Beijing's oppression of its people.

Google learned firsthand that Beijing takes you for a bad ride in more than one way. He thinks Google's decision to voluntary vacate the Chinese market is a bold and impressive move, that has begun to restore some of their damaged credibility in his eyes. He also thinks it is great for an iconic American company, like Google, to send the signal that avoiding the Chinese can be a good thing. He wishes there was more perspective on the whole China debate.

Here's to unexpectedly raising a paw in salute of a good move from Google.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reason: Tobacco Truth Gets Smoked

This article from Reason magazine paints one of the most thorough and honest pictures of the alternative tobacco market landscape. It is a must read for anyone interested in how out-of-whack the government and public health officials are when it comes to understanding the war against smokers and peoples health. FYI, cigarettes can be very hazardous to your health!

Despite being a non-smoker, the article hit home for the werewolf on multiple levels. Let the werewolf declare it here, during the summer of 2008, the werewolf was officially a vassal in the tobacco castle. The werewolf spent his MBA summer internship working on alternative tobacco product marketing strategy and corporate social responsibility initiatives for one of America's largest tobacco companies. Being the misanthrope that he is, playing Nick Naylor lite for summer was a dream job. Anyhow, the article states all of the key take-aways from the werewolf's experience with both an eloquence and accuracy in its writing that the werewolf hopes to achieve someday. You'll be spared all of harm reduction, reduced risk mantra that became the werewolf's second inner dialog at one point in his life, as it is all spelled out in the article.

The werewolf has many amusing stories from his experience that he'll indirectly share at some point. (He'll have to be nuanced though, big tobacco NDA'd him out the wazoo) He will say that he learned just how vicious the folks in public health advocacy are and how their anti-smoking crusade is more like a jihad than anything else. One of the werewolf's responsibilities was performing corporate social social responsibility outreach, which involved communicating with hostile stakeholders (public health advocates). During a conversation with a senior apparatchik from a leading and well-known public health advocacy organization involving smokeless tobacco concepts, the werewolf was told to pound sand and that "we are more interested in driving you a**holes out of business than saving lives at this point." The hate filled rage, disregard for the organization's health charter, and blind questioning of yesterday's cause really shocked the werewolf and drained him of all respect for those who claim to be champions of health. When these guys win the war against big tobacco(and they will, sadly), I pity whomever they target next, because for them, it's about winning at any cost, not saving lives, nor helping people. Never forget that.

She's Waiting: Eric Clapton (live)

The werewolf is grateful to have had a healthy respect for rock 'n' roll instilled in him from an early age. Eric Clapton, (a.k.a Slow-hand) and his ever changing band membership, was one of the staples of his childhood music education. "She's Waiting" is a remarkable song, not because it's boring lyrics are essentially 90% chorus lines, but rather it contains unbelievable face-peeling guitar riffs in the second half. Watching Clapton work the strings is like watching a Chess Grandmaster work twelve chess boards to victory simultaneously. It's awesome. (Plus,the song has been stuck in the werewolf's head for two days now and he hopes this post will allow something else to takeover)

The werewolf has a question for any music savvy readers out there, is the drummer in the white shirt Phil Collins? Answer: Duh! Yes.