Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pak Tennis Star

Terrafugia Transition 'flying cars'

A cheeky royal smiiiiiiiiiile

Needs no comments.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Taking Traffic Control Lessons — From Ants

If humans took their cues from ants, they might spend less time in traffic.
When opposing streams of leafcutter ants share a narrow path, they instinctively alternate flows in the most efficient way possible. Studying how ants manage this could provide the basis for a system of driverless cars running on ant traffic algorithms.
"They never get stuck in traffic," said Audrey Dussutour, a University of Sydney entomologist. "We should use their rules. I’ve been working with ants for eight years, and have never seen a traffic jam — and I’ve tried."
People have long been fascinated with the ability of ants to organize colonial activities in patterns as sophisticated as any urban engineer’s megalopolis blueprint. In recent years, scientists have turned ant traffic flows into algorithms applicable to data transmission and vehicular traffic.
Dussutour, whose earlier work showed that leafcutter ants organize themselves into separate and tightly-regulated streams of load-carrying and unburdened individuals when traveling in opposite directions on wide paths, was curious about their dynamics on narrow paths such as the tip of a treebranch — the ant equivalent of a one-lane road.
In the latest findings, published in the February issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, Dussutour’s team found that ants leaving the colony automatically gave right-of-way to those returning with food. Of the returning ants, some were empty-mandibled — but rather than passing their leaf-carrying, slow-moving brethren, they gathered in clusters and moved behind them.
This seemingly counterintuitive strategy — when stuck behind a slow-moving truck, are you content to slow down? — actually saved them time.
"Leafcutters paths in particular look very much like car traffic," said Dussutour. "There’s a lot of times on the highway when you’re stuck behind a truck, and sometimes overtaking it is not optimal."
The results are an example of how individual behaviors optimized to serve a collective good can ultimately benefit the individual as well. If humans would let a network take the wheel, these principles might manage our own congested thoroughfares.
"We essentially would have to hand over control of the vehicle to a collectively intelligent system that would move all vehicles from their source to destination," said Marcus Randall, a Bond University software mathematician. People would be reluctant, he said, but "accidents would be virtually non-existent and travel would become much more efficient.
If ants in the experiment behaved like the average human driver, they’d routinely run head-first into each other, causing insect versions of pile-ups and gridlock. Dussutour’s team calculated that patience reduced the average delay experienced by an individual ant crossing a crowded three-meter bridge from 64 to 32 seconds.
"One dominating factor in human traffic is egoism," said University of Zoln traffic flow theorist Andreas Schadschneider.
"Drivers optimize their own travel time, without taking much care about others. This leads to phantom traffic jams which occur without any obvious reason. Ants, on the other hand, are not egoistic."
Another way of understanding the difference between human and ant navigation decisions, he said, comes from optimization theory. In human traffic, "the user optimum is relevant, whereas in ant traffic it is the system optimum, which can be quite different," and produces a different set of behaviors.
Guiding the individual ants’ decisions is their inherited, colony-serving programming and on-the-ground traffic updates, acquired from an immersive cloud of information that takes the form of pheromone trails and physical contact. Though scientists have studied and pheromones for decades, the latter exchange is less understood.
"We have good evidence that encounters between inbound and outbound workers are important," said study co-author Sam Beshers, an entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "It’s not just that they’re managing the traffic flow. They’re managing the information flow, too.
That’s about all we know, but it’s potentially very important."
An experimental navigational system called Inter-Vehicle Communication tries to emulate this, with on-board navigation computers exchanging data as they pass each other and roadside base stations. It’s yet to be deployed in real-world conditions, though, reflecting the difficulty in replacing a culture and infrastructure of solitary driving.
A compromise, said Schadschneider, may be systems that improve communication between drivers and cars. "This has already been achieved by new devices which transmit information about abrupt velocity decreases to the following cars, which then start to brake automatically, before the driver even realizes the need to brake," he said.
Beshers is optimistic about the potential of driverless cars running on ant traffic algorithms, but cautious about the timeline of their acceptance. Embracing such a system, he said, "assumes that humans could agree on an upper speed limit, which has never yet happened."
Citation: "Priority rules govern the organization of traffic on foraging trails under crowding conditions in the leaf-cutting ant Atta colombica." By Dussutour, A., Beshers, S., Deneubourg, J. L. and Fourcassié, V.. Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 212 Issue 4, Feb. 15, 2009.
Source :

Incense fumes

Could do more harm to your health than tobacco smoke
Suzanne Harrison - Jun 29, 2010 
It's one of the familiar smells of Asia, from the temple to the family altar, but the next time you are surrounded by a cloud of incense smoke you may want to hold your nose.

Research in Taiwan has lent credence to suspicions that the joss sticks and incense that are burned as offerings to the gods may get you to heaven far quicker than you'd like.

Medical professionals have long suspected that joss sticks and incense - usually containing a blend of plant extracts and oils - emit harmful fumes when burned. Now, researchers from Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University in Tainan say joss fumes contain particulate matter, gases and organic compounds that could be more harmful than tobacco smoke.

"On average, incense burning produces particulates greater than 45 milligrams per gram burned, as compared to 10mg/g for cigarettes," says a report by Cheng Kung University's department of engineering.

Researchers studied the make-up and fumes from incense, joss sticks, cones and coils, and analysed smoke from a Taipei temple, which was found to contain high levels of compounds blamed for causing lung cancer.

Emissions levels were higher than at a city road junction. The toxins found are harmful to the lungs and can cause allergic reaction to the skin and eyes.

Lin Ta-chang, a spokesman for the Cheng Kung group, likens incense and joss-stick fumes to second-hand smoke.

"Pollutants emitted from incense burning in an enclosed environment are harmful to human health," he says.

"While it is relatively difficult to directly study the effect of incense smoke pollutants on health, several epidemiological studies have suggested that they do cause health problems."

Incense burning produces volatile organic compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylenes, as well as aldehydes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the study found.

The scientists, who conducted their study research in 2008, noted that during some major ceremonies, hundreds or even more than 1,000 joss sticks are burned at the same time.

Britain's National Health Service, which reviewed the Taiwanese study, said: "Smoke is smoke, and cigarette smoke is not the only type of smoke that is harmful."

A multinational study in 2008 also found that exposure to incense fumes posed significant public health implications. Jeppe Friborg, of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, and colleagues in Singapore and the US studied associations between exposure to incense and a spectrum of respiratory tract cancers.

They sampled 61,320 Singaporean Chinese who were free of cancer and aged between 45 and 74 from 1993 to 1998, studying respondents' living conditions and dietary and lifestyle factors until 2005.
They found 325 upper-respiratory tract cancers - including nasal/sinus, tongue, mouth, laryngeal and others - and 821 lung cancers during the follow-up period.

The American Cancer Society said at the time that "incense use is associated with a significantly increased risk of upper-respiratory tract cancer" although there was no overall effect on lung cancer.
"It also considerably increased the risk in `never' smokers, which points to an independent effect of incense smoke."

The Taiwanese researchers also cited a 1996 report in the journal Cancer that showed a high incidence of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in male Hong Kong patients who burn incense, compared with other malignant cases.

They found that 74.5 per cent of the nasopharyngeal cancer cases studied and 52 per cent of all other malignant cases were exposed to incense smoke, and concluded that incense smoke could be a factor.

Ko King-tim, an engineering professor at City University now in remission from the cancer, says the public must be aware of such risks although he doesn't link his disease with incense-burning.
"Most people are not aware of the causes of various cancers. Some are genetic, some are [linked to] substances or stress-induced," says Ko, who created a website for people with nasopharyngeal cancer.
"Most people in Hong Kong are unaware of the early symptoms of different cancers. Awareness of these early symptoms could save a lot of lives," he says.

"Air pollutants such as incense smoke or car exhaust fumes are hazardous to health, whether [they cause] cancers or other illnesses."

Although various "herbal" and "natural" incense options are also sold on the internet, the Taiwanese researchers stopped short of calling for an end to the deeply rooted tradition of burning incense, with Lin recommending devotees "keep the room well-ventilated" while they burn it.

"It will effectively dilute indoor air pollutants and hence reduce the risk of exposure."

Incense sticks have a slender bamboo stick onto which the mixture of ingredients is attached, while joss sticks come without the stick. Stick incense is the most popular in temples in Asia.

While the exact content of incense sticks is a commercial secret, most are made from a combination of fragrant gums, resins, wood powders, herbs and spices, the report says.

A typical stick of incense comprises, by weight, 21 per cent herb and wood powder, 35 per cent fragrance material, 11 per cent adhesive powder and 33 per cent bamboo stick.

Source :

Monday, June 28, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saudi Mullah Gone Mad !

I happened to stay and work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1984 to 1987 as a foreign exchange assistant in the defunct Al-Rajhi Company for Currency Exchange and Commerce.  Thus, I have a certain understanding of the pattern of thinking of Saudi clerics.

The kingdom has been through some revolutionary social (of course not political) changes in the recent past.

However, a mullah's recently issued bizarre fatwa has caused real tremors in the Saudi media.  Since I read this story, I have been thinking about what would happen if a Pakistani qualified religious scholar had issued such a stupid fatwa?  

The following story will reveal his creative perversion of thoughts.  

Many were stunned when Saudi cleric Sheik Abdel Mohsen Obeikan recently issued a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, calling on women to give breast milk to their male colleagues or men they come into regular contact with so as to avoid illicit mixing between the sexes. But a group of Saudi women has taken the controversial decree a step further in a new campaign to gain the right to drive in the ultra-conservative kingdom, media reports say. If they're not granted the right to drive, the women are threatening to breastfeed their drivers to establish a symbolic maternal bond.

"Is this is all that is left to us to do: to give our breasts to the foreign drivers?" a Saudi woman named Fatima Shammary was quoted as saying by Gulf News.

Obeikan argued in his decree that if the women give their drivers their breast milk, the chauffeurs would be able to mingle with all members of the family without having to worry about violating Islamic law. Some Islamic scholars frown on the mixing of unmarried men and women. Islamic tradition, or hadith, stipulates that breastfeeding establishes a maternal bond, even if a woman breastfeeds a child who is not her own.

Drawing from the cleric's advocacy, the women have reportedly chosen a slogan for their campaign that translates to, "We either be allowed to drive or breastfeed foreigners."

The current driving ban applies to all women in Saudi Arabia, regardless of their nationality, and it's been a topic of heated public debate in recent years.

The ban on driving was unofficial at first but was introduced as official legislation after 47 Saudi women drove cars through the streets of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in 1990 in an attempt to challenge authorities.

The incident brought harsh consequences for the women, who were jailed for a day and had their passports confiscated. Many of them were said to have been forced to leave their jobs after the driving protest.

Still, every now and then, reports of Saudi women driving in defiance of the ban emerge in the media.

Two years ago, 125 women in Saudi Arabia signed a petition that called on the Saudi interior minister to lift the ban.

One of the Saudi female signatories, Wajeha Huwaider, posted a video of herself driving on YouTube in a direct appeal to the Saudi authorities to allow women to drive.

"For women to drive is not a political issue," Wajeha said as she sat behind the wheel. "It is not a religious issue. It is a social issue, and we know that many women of our society are capable of driving cars. We also know that many families will allow their women to drive."  -- Alexandra Sandels, in Beirut

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life without tick ticks

The digitalized era has deprived us of many small and simple fascinations that we used to enjoy till four five decades ago.  One of these enthrallments was a rhythmic tick … tick … tick of pendulum clocks.

At the age of six, and being the only child of my parents, I was all alone in the house to rule my world of toys and not allowed to go out to play with the street kids for longer times. So, I fell victim to indulging in my own wishful fantasies and pendulum clocks were my chums and buddies of total solitude.

Sometimes I wanted to take down a clock to place it among my characterized toys to watch them closely.  I never expressed this kiddish desire to my mother for fear of admonition. 

I had created characters of my own choice; both friends and rivals except the clocks.  It never occurred to me to tag them with some names like toys.  

My mother would say "Look at the clock, when it strikes the hour, your play-time would end".  We had two Howard Miller pendulum clocks encased in very beautiful wooden frames that were sent to my father, as a special gift, by a friend who resided in the U.S.

The magnetic appeal would frequently take me to a class-fellow’s house mostly to sneak a close peek at a beautiful German chiming clock hanging in the majestically decorated drawing room.  His parents were rather more fascinated at my watching their clock and termed it “so romantic”.

When I had nothing to do, I used to gaze at the huge dark brown clock in our living room. Its tick ... tick ... tick mesmerized me.  I would move my eyes with the movement of the pendulum in a very soothing, tranquilizing and spiritual rhythm.  And, after a few moments of that hypnotic phase, a kind of very strong energy wave would start radiating in my body moving in a circular motion from head to toe and vice versa.

The hourly striking sound of these clocks also caused a little scare in the mid of cold frosty nights breaking the reign of silence and suddenly disrupting the peaceful sleep in the warmth of silky quilts.

Being the ring master of my very own circus, I always got myself engaged in my universe of toys, each of which was labeled as a special character, to such an extent that my mom had to yell at me to say something or a clock’s hourly striking would break my deep absorption.  The sound always detached me from the rest of the surroundings for a while.

In later years, these clocks kept reminding me of their lively presence in the house.  Every moment of 365(6) days of the year recorded, sometimes low and sometimes loud, tick-ticking during home-studies, listening to radio programmes, lethargic thinking, relaxing or inducing sleep and of course in all weathers and seasons.  There was no escape from those perfectly and mechanically set stubborn sighs of exquisitely designed clocks.

Now while writing this, I feel that those pendulum clocks, part of every urban household in those days, made us feel the flow of time and let the echo of life play a soft but awakening tune for us.

The digitalized era has definitely made some chores of life exceptionally easy, convenient and comfortable for us, but then it has also devoured the mesmerizing tick … tick … tick of pendulum clocks that were a constant source of reminding us of passage of time and evolution of life.

Besides memorable happy moments of childhood, I also miss those tick ticks.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Makkah Clock Tower to be inaugurated

MENA Infrastructure last year reported on the Makkah Clock Tower Royal Hotel that, once it is finished, will be the tallest clock tower in the world. That time is getting closer and closer as it was announced that in the coming weeks, Makkah Clock Tower is to be inaugurated.

The Makkah Clock Tower Royal Hotel is part of the seven tower Abraj Al-Bait Complex, that is being constructed opposite the Grand Mosque of Mecca. When we reported the story last year, there were concerns that the super-luxurious hotel would 'cheapen' the Hajj, considering that the fifth pillar of Islam is meant to be about hardship, struggle and sacrifice.

Once it is finished, the tower will stand 402 metres tall and will be seen from up to seven kilometres away. It will boast the world's largest clock (4.7 times larger than Big Ben) on each side, and will be among the world's second tallest tower. Two of the clocks will be 80 meters tall, 65 meters wide and 39 meters in diameter. The other two clocks will be 65 meters tall, 43 meters wide and 25 meters in diameter.

The entire complex is rumoured to cost USD$3 billion and the hotel is said to feature 24-hour butler service, segregated gyms, beauty parlours, grooming salons, a spa and a chocolate room where chefs will prepare bespoke pralines and truffles.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Manisha Koirala weds Samrat Dahal

Indo-Asian News Service
Kathmandu, June 19, 2010

In a fairytale wedding, Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala tied the knot with Nepali businessman Samrat Dahal in a traditional Nepali ceremony on Saturday morning after an elaborate engagement and mehendi ceremony a day before.

The 40-year-old was wedded to the 33-year-old entrepreneur at the picturesque Le Meridien resort in Kathmandu on Saturday morning.

Though her first hero in Bollywood, Vivek Mushran, flew to Kathmandu to attend the four-day extravaganza, as did Manisha's friend and director Deepti Naval, there was not much of a Bollywood presence besides Sunita, who stood in proxy for her husband Govinda.

There was also virtually no sign of the Nepali film industry that has impassively accepted her return almost after two decades. Manisha returned to the Nepali film industry a few months ago, playing wife to its superstar Rajesh Hamal.

Nepal's bigwigs, including political heavyweights, are expected at the wedding feast on Sunday, to be held at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza hotel.

Bollywood director Subhash Ghai, who first launched the doe-eyed Manisha in Bollywood with Saudagar in 1991, has been invited.

The newly-weds plan to throw a separate bash for tinsel town stars in Mumbai, where Manisha will continue to keep a foothold.

Her plans for Nepal had included opening a film city in Kathmandu and persuading Bollywood to shoot more of its films in Nepal.

Though the plan was shelved as well as the venture to make a Nepali remake ofMother India with Manisha in the lead, with an additional tie to her motherland now the old plans could be revived.

Dahal, an MBA from Texas, comes from a non-filmi business family that is into education as well as leather goods.

He himself is involved in launching a bio-gas factory in Pokhara city, where Manisha did a little bit of shooting recently for her new Nepali film Dharma.

The alliance has plunged him from relative obscurity into limelight, thanks to Manisha's Bollywood career as well as family background.

She is the granddaughter of B.P. Koirala, Nepal's first elected prime minister, and though she herself has not yet shown any inclination to join politics barring a misjudged campaign for deposed king Gyanendra's government four years ago, her family boasts of three prime ministers, two deputy prime ministers and two MPs.

Her father Prakash Koirala was a minister in king Gyanendra's cabinet in 2005.

The deposed monarch has been invited to Sunday's reception, as has been his arch-foe, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. If both of them attend the reception, it would be the first time they would come face to face.

Manisha, who had been busy shooting in India less than a week before her wedding, has not made her future plans public as yet.

The couple will reportedly move out of Dahal's family home in the Bansbari area of Kathmandu for a pied-a-terre of their own.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Media, Academia Destroying Themselves Over Israel

June 15, 2010 - by Barry Rubin

It is no accident that there are so many sayings warning against the dangers when perceived wisdom becomes nonsense. And they all agree that this mistake leads to the destruction of those who refuse to see reality accurately.
Sophocles, the ancient Greek playwright, noted: “Evil sometimes seems good to a man whose mind a god leads to destruction.”
The Jewish Bible warns: “For the waywardness of the thoughtless shall slay them, and the confidence of fools shall destroy them.”
And what form does that madness take? The German Socialist leader, August Bebel, explained it: “Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools.” But, claim those who purvey its most modern form, we are against anti-Semitism.
Such arguments are merely propaganda for Israel. What is happening at most, however, is that all the traditional anti-Semitic themes are being introduced with merely the change of one word: “Jew” becomes “Israeli.” The implications often leak into “Jew” anyway.
Rather than teaching democracy to the Arab or Muslim-majority world, the “teaching” has been in the opposite direction.
The leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reports that in the city of Anne Frank, those who appear to be Jews are spat on and harassed in the streets. In one neighborhood a secret synagogue exists, since if the mostly Muslim population found out it would come under violent attack.
When a single Palestinian, who was not even known to reporters, claimed that there had been an Israeli massacre in Jenin, the world media trumpeted that fact, despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever.
It is not merely that Israel is presumed guilty until proven innocent. The problem is that many institutions are making it impossible for Israel to be proven innocent, and will ignore that verdict if at all possible. How else can one explain how a planned violent assault on soldiers by a radical jihadist group — that included their kidnapping (bragged about by the participants) — for the purpose of making the world hate Israel, did in fact lead to worldwide condemnation of Israel?
Even when the truth was documented on video?
“Can the whole world be wrong?” asked Kofi Annan in April 2002, talking about Israel. Annan has no idea that a century earlier the Jewish essayist and Zionist Ahad ha-Am asked that question in precisely the same words. Yes, answered Ahad Ha-Am, the whole world can be wrong, because we know that we don’t use the blood of little Christian children to make matzos.
Only when the “best and brightest,” including many Jews among them, recognize that they are perpetrating the modern version of such historical arguments and reclaim their own professional ethics and Enlightenment methods of reasoning will there be hope for them to do better.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition, Viking-Penguin), the paperback edition of The Truth about Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).


No Leadership, No Solutions, No Clue:

Obama Speech Resurrects Jimmy Carter Era


About two-thirds of the way through President Obama’s speech, leaves and twigs twitched erratically amid late-spring gusts of wind outside the windows of the Oval Office. Symbolism is integral to a presidential address, and Tuesday night was no exception, with solemn flags standing behind the history-heavy and timber-laden Resolute desk. But faltering branches was not the imagery desired for the moment.
In his opening comments, the president reassured the public:
From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history.
It hasn’t felt that way. Obama didn’t personally visit the Gulfuntil May 2, more than 10 days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the catastrophic mile-deep oil gusher. Original estimates on the extent of the oil spill drastically underestimated the enormity of the damage: in late April the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) put the estimate at 5,000 barrels a day, a number which originated with British Petroleum scientists. Within short order, government officials were scrambling for more accurate assessments, and this week’s estimate places the damage at 60,000 barrels a day (2.5 million gallons).
President Obama either badly misunderstood the scope of the calamity, or he deliberately downgraded threat assessments so as not to upset the grand-scale ambitions of his administration. Perhaps it was a combination of both. By late May the political backlash was bipartisan, the most memorable outburst when former Bill Clinton strategist James Carville blew his top on Good Morning America. Responding to George Stephanopoulos,Carville excoriated the president:
George! George! George! The president of the United States could have come down here. He could have been involved with the families of these 11 people. He could have commandeered the things. … He could be with the corps of engineers and the Coast Guard with these people in Plaquemines Parish, doing something about these regulations. These people are crying. They’re begging for something down here. And it just looks like he’s not involved in this! Man, you have got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this and get this thing moving! We’re about to die down here!
Carville’s passion was absent from Tuesday’s Oval Office address. Instead, President Obama sought to “securitize” his response to the crisis, with martial rhetoric fitting of a commander-in-chief ordering troops into battle: the administration had a “battle plan”; Obama pledged the “deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast”; he promised to have the “governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.”
If only the White House had such a fighting spirit when Gen. Stanley McChrystal sought 40,000 additional troops for the Afghan deployment throughout 2009!
It wasn’t exactly clear what kind of “battle” these troops would be fighting. As long as the BP gusher remains unplugged, clean-up operations will be a band-aid on a wound from a sniper rifle. What’s the plan, Mr. President? Appearing on the The O’Reilly Factor, Sarah Palin argued that Americans “haven’t had the assurance by the president” that capping the BP gusher is job #1:
Instead, what his top priority is, Bill, is cap and tax.
While the hard-left progressives at Firedoglake and Media Matters took heavy exception to Palin’s instant analysis, it’s not easy for anyone to discount how animated — almost messianic — the president becomes as he starts talking about “America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels.” Here is where President Obama’s clearly not willing to let a crisis go to waste. The president implored the nation to ” … embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.” He assured the public that his administration was committed to “a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill.” Clearly returning to the rhetoric of his perpetual campaign, Obama attacked “oil industry lobbyists” and pledged to push for “increased efficiency standards for the automobile industry.”
And to top it off, Obama elevated his pitch by hearkening back to the glories of the Greatest Generation:
I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet. You know, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny — our determination to fight for the America we want for our children.
Well, at least he didn’t ask us to go without air conditioning this summer. Or, maybe he did. Any change away from a petroleum economy will impose short-term costs on the economy and could potentially lower the American standard of living. Perhaps by December the president will don a cardigan and ask us to lower our thermostats to 68 degrees.
Humor aside, folks are now making serious comparisons between President Obama and President Jimmy Carter. It’s easy to dismiss attacks on Obama as “Jimmah” as cheap political points, but when newscasts are opening with counts marking the crisis’ longevity — “Gulf Oil Spill, Day 57” — can it be long before one of the major networks gives Ted Koppel a lifeline for the original Nightline?
It is, of course, a solemn time in American politics, and the president may have missed an opportunity to demonstrate genuine leadership and originality. Economic uncertainty is unabated across the land, and American forces continue fighting foreign conflicts of uncertain resolution. Perhaps the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico has become the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Unfortunately, bland speeches offering refurbished climate change initiatives probably aren’t going to thrill a lot of pressed and worried voters.
And in that sense, Americans will increasingly see this administration as no more steady than those wavering branches.
Donald Kent Douglas is an associate professor of Political Science teaching in Southern California.