Friday, January 16, 2009

Uber-Competence In the Hudson

Thanks parlty to NY Governor David Paterson, people have started calling the landing and rescue of the US Airways jet yesterday a "miracle." This bugs me. The pilot and flight crew took heroic action to save the lives of the passengers. They deserve all the credit they are receiving. In fact, they deserve more. What I mean is that when we call their bravery and extreme ability a "miracle" we are taking some credit from them and giving it to God (or Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster). We do this a lot in this country. When a doctor takes heroic action to cure a cancer patient, some will call it a miracle. When a volunteer firefighter saves lives, some will call it a miracle. Not only does this take away from the accomplishments of the very human people who save lives, it also denigrates miracles. Parting the Red Sea is a miracle. If you choose a different religious tradition, bringing Lazarus back from the dead is a miracle. If God wanted a miraculous ending to the US Airways crisis yesterday, the plane would have floated down like a feather with no explanation. That would be a miracle. What we saw was not a miracle, but a spectacular act of expertise and steel nerves. Why isn't the amazing accomplisments of mere mortals enough for us.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

No One Ever Said They Were Smart

Apparently, the leader of Hamas has said that any settlement with Israel is now impossible. I can not imagine a more idiotic thing to say at this point in time. Think about the current situation for Hamas. A much stronger force is decimating Hamas' infrastructure, and killing many of its fighters. Hamas, as is usual in its fights against Israel, is winning the PR battle. So what is the best result for Hamas? A settlement that is at least as good as the situation ex ante, with strong support from the international community. But now, if Hamas will not settle what is Israel to do? All it can do is to fight until Hamas is mortally wounded. And what of those Americans, like me, who is a supporter of Israel's existence, believes there is no moral equivalence between the ends sought by Israel and Hamas, but who supports some sort of negotiation because he is uncomfortable with Israeli tactics, to do? If both Hamas and Israel are saying ther will be no negotiation or settlement, it seems to me I am left rooting for Israel to fulfill its goal of using force to finish off Hamas. If you have to pick a side in a fight that both sides are determined will be a fight to be the death, you pick the one with the better moral position. Here, that is Israel.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sports Break

So, Brett Favre is "leaning toward retirement." Remember last winter when Favre cried while announcing his retirement? And then he screwed with the Packers until finally deciding to return and expecting to be welcomed back with no repercussions. And then he demanded a trade to teams that played the Packers twice a year. And finally was traded to the Jets. Only to play poorly when it mattered most. I vote for the media entirely ignoring Favre's retirement "to be or not to be" schtick until a season goes by without him playing. Then someone can give him a car and a rocking chair at a half-time ceremony. Then he can go away again. For good. Please.

Explanation Please

Can someone, anyone, please tell me what the Hell is going on in Israel and Gaza? And why I should support or not support the Israeli invasion (incursion) into Gaza? And please, no "we haev to support Israel because of the special relationship between the US and Israel." And also, no "Israel is an aparthaid state." Look, Hamas was sending rockets into Israel, and you can be damn sure that any other country would go haywire if a neighboring country lobbed rockets onto its citizens indicriminately. But Israel seems to have an insatiable appetite for West Bank settlements. And why isn't Israel biting off its nose to spite its face by going into Gaza? I guarantee you that the world reaction will be overwhelmingly anti-Israel. More money will be funelled to Hamas, and any anti-Hamas sentiment in Gaza is officialy dead. Dammit, what is goign on? And what should a rational person do?