Freedom From Quant
June 14, 2010
There's a new master narrative for the history of sports. And it goes like this: We have only just begun to emerge from the superstitious dark ages, where coaches clung to folk wisdom, into the enlightened world of data. The Copernicus and Galileo of sports’ scientific revolution are the statistician Bill James and the Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane.
Better A Bad Press Than A Good Epitaph
June 13, 2010
Actually, the hysteria about the Israeli encounter with the Turkish goons has abated. And it has probably come to the attention of some reasonable people that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is working the seas not exactly for the interests of the Turks but for the Islamic crusade being led by the Iranian clerisy and secret police. I know little about Erdogan but something more about Turkey. The last century of its history is being betrayed in an avalanche of thuggish holiness. Its economy is not doing as bad as that of Greece. But just wait. Tourism is going down, down, down ...
Abbas Doesn't Want the Embargo Lifted Either
June 13, 2010
There's a fascinating dispatch in Ha'aretz reporting that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear to President Obama that he doesn't want Israel's naval blockade against Hamas lifted. This should be no surprise, and it raises difficult questions for both America and the meddlesome Europeans who can produce nothing diplomatically but hot air. In fact, why doesn't Europe attend to its own terrible problems, among which are the survival of the Eurozone itself and the very liquidity of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland? What does that mean? Leave Israel alone. But it won'
All Silent on the Lefty Front
June 11, 2010
Earlier this month, the Pentagon released a 151-page report outlining the increasingly grim situation in Afghanistan. The paper highlighted the Afghan government (and its security services) lack of capability; the enduring challenge of endemic corruption and poor governance; and the Taliban insurgency’s ability to maintain influence—often via intimidation—across broad swaths of the country. These challenges have already undermined U.S. military operations in Marjah, and could threaten the upcoming summer offensive planned for Kandahar, the heart of the Taliban insurgency. The entire U.S.
Beyond the Line
June 11, 2010
In early April, silly flags were already flapping all around Beirut. A non-resident would think that dignitaries from the entire United Nations were about to make an appearance, adding a touch of color to our city. According to numerous sources, the flags had sprouted much earlier. As early as January, my sister made sure to tell me. I don’t think any earlier than that, my mother said. People were too busy with Christmas and New Years, and in 2009, Ashura, the Shiite holiday fell at the same time—far too much going on for anyone to concentrate.
June 10, 2010
In the wake of Israel’s sanguinary assault on the MV Mavi Marmara, much of the debate has focused on the question of whether those aboard the Free Gaza flotilla were humanitarians, peace activists, or Hamas supporters. The benign, and, crucially, the depoliticized interpretation was that they were humanitarians bringing aid to a besieged people desperately in need of it.
Dunga, Diego, and Destiny
June 10, 2010
The World Cup is but a couple of weeks away, and, if you are not trembling with anticipation, now is the time to start. There has never been a World Cup like the one about to take place in nine South African cities: For the first time ever, the greatest soccer tournament is being held in Africa.
June 09, 2010
Tel Aviv, Israel — There once was a very successful campaign in Israel for road safety. Its slogan was, “On the road, don’t be right, be smart." The day after the flotilla raid last week, more than one pundit in the Israeli press brought up the slogan. We’re right, they said, but why can’t we also be smart? The raid was by no means smart. Israel blindly stepped into a p.r. campaign orchestrated by Turkey and Hamas, doing enormous damage to its own international image and credibility. But the raid was not an isolated incident.
With Friends Like Us
June 08, 2010
Japan has a new prime minister, Naoto Kan, but he comes from the same party—the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)—as Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned last Wednesday. He will almost surely want to continue Hatoyama's policies of strengthening Japan’s political democracy and forging an independent foreign policy that is allied with the United States, but not subordinate to it. If Kan follows that course, he will undoubtedly displease much of Japan’s establishment, which still identifies with the defeated Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that Hatoyama's party trounced in last year's election.
President Obama wants it both ways. His dreary international initiative to put finis to nuclear arms is seen as so unlikely and so impossible that Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has already sent the atomic arms reduction treaty, negotiated with the American president, to the Russian parliament, where it has no chances of failure. Obama sent the document to the Senate earlier this month.