Philosophy over coffee

Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page

Part 2: Georgia responds

In On Headlines, Size: Venti on August 28, 2008 at 8:15 am

This was an article written by Georgian president Saakashvili presumably as a response to yesterday’s column by Medvedev. Also from the FT.

Moscow’s plan is to redraw the map of Europe

Published: August 27 2008

Any doubts about why Russia invaded Georgia have now been erased. By illegally recog­nising the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, made clear that Moscow’s goal is to redraw the map of Europe using force.

This war was never about South Ossetia or Georgia. Moscow is using its invasion, prepared over years, to rebuild its empire, seize greater control of Europe’s energy supplies and punish those who believed democracy could flourish on its borders. Europe has reason to worry. Thankfully, most of the international community has condemned the invasion and confirmed their unwavering support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Our first duty is to highlight Russia’s Orwellian tactics. Moscow says it invaded Georgia to protect its citizens in South Ossetia. Over the past five years it cynically laid the groundwork for this pretence, by illegally distributing passports in South Ossetia and Ab­khazia, “manufacturing” Russian citizens to protect. The cynicism of Russia’s concern for ethnic minorities can be expressed in one word: Chechnya.

This cynicism has become hypocritical and criminal. Since Russia’s invasion, its forces have been “cleansing” Georgian villages in both regions – including outside the conflict zone – using arson, rape and execution. Human rights groups have documented these actions. Moscow has flipped the Kosovo precedent on its head: where the west acted to prevent ethnic cleansing, in Georgia ethnic cleansing is being used by Russia to consolidate its military annexation.

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Part 1: Russia talks back

In On Headlines, Size: Venti on August 28, 2008 at 8:13 am

This appeared in The Financial Times yesterday Aug 26 and was written by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev

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Why I had to recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions

Published: August 26 2008

On Tuesday Russia recognised the independence of the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It was not a step taken lightly, or without full consideration of the consequences. But all possible outcomes had to be weighed against a sober understanding of the situation – the histories of the Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples, their freely expressed desire for independence, the tragic events of the past weeks and inter­national precedents for such a move.

Not all of the world’s nations have their own statehood. Many exist happily within boundaries shared with other nations. The Russian Federation is an example of largely harmonious coexistence by many dozens of nations and nationalities. But some nations find it impossible to live under the tutelage of another. Relations between nations living “under one roof” need to be handled with the utmost sensitivity.

After the collapse of communism, Russia reconciled itself to the “loss” of 14 former Soviet republics, which became states in their own right, even though some 25m Russians were left stranded in countries no longer their own. Some of those nations were un­able to treat their own minorities with the respect they deserved. Georgia immediately stripped its “autonomous regions” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia of their autonomy.

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Delayed Update

In Life Matters, Size: Grande on August 24, 2008 at 8:31 pm

It has been almost 2 weeks since I left Los Angeles, since I last blogged. Though I should have more time to do stuff, and I actually do, I seem to have less time to do a variety of things. Ever since getting here in Chicago, I have been focused on pretty much 2 things: job hunting and TV. Yes, I have been watching so much TV given I have one in the room where I sleep in. While I do spend a lot of time writing cover letters (still), I still do find A LOT of time to watch the boob tube. And my viewing is focused on two: CNBC, which is the financial TV network of NBC and is like Bloomberg, and the mundane- dating shows, hollywood news, reality shows… those you’re more likely to watch if you’re in Los Angeles.

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The War in Georgia

In On Headlines, Size: Venti on August 12, 2008 at 6:20 am

A friend posted a link as his status on facebook leading to an editorial written on the Wall Street journal by Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili about the ongoing war against Russia. I thought it is something worth sharing.

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The War in Georgia Is a War for the West

As I write, Russia is waging war on my country.

On Friday, hundreds of Russian tanks crossed into Georgian territory, and Russian air force jets bombed Georgian airports, bases, ports and public markets. Many are dead, many more wounded. This invasion, which echoes Afghanistan in 1979 and the Prague Spring of 1968, threatens to undermine the stability of the international security system.

Why this war? This is the question my people are asking. This war is not of Georgia’s making, nor is it Georgia’s choice.

The Kremlin designed this war. Earlier this year, Russia tried to provoke Georgia by effectively annexing another of our separatist territories, Abkhazia. When we responded with restraint, Moscow brought the fight to South Ossetia.

Ostensibly, this war is about an unresolved separatist conflict. Yet in reality, it is a war about the independence and the future of Georgia. And above all, it is a war over the kind of Europe our children will live in. Let us be frank: This conflict is about the future of freedom in Europe.

No country of the former Soviet Union has made more progress toward consolidating democracy, eradicating corruption and building an independent foreign policy than Georgia. This is precisely what Russia seeks to crush.

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The Greatest Song Ever Sung? :P

In Music, Size: Grande on August 7, 2008 at 9:49 am

I haven’t really been mushy lately so permit me to be so now. Just posting the lyrics of a song anyway. I thought this was a really good song.

The Greatest Story Ever Told by Oliver James

Thank you for this moment
I’ve gotta say how beautiful you are
Of all the hopes and dreams I could have prayed for
Here you are
If I could have one dance forever
I would take you by the hand
Tonight it’s you and I together
I’m so glad I’m your man

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20 Most Annoying Songs

In Interesting, Size: Grande on August 3, 2008 at 2:46 am

The song “Tubthumping” played on my iTunes and even after years of hearing it, I never really understood what it meant until I googled it today. In my search, not only did I find its meaning (politicking, tubthumper being a politician), I also found a reference in Wikipedia to the 20 most annoying songs complied by the Rolling Stones.  Apparently the song was part of the list as #12.  Of course I looked at the rest of the list and was surprised some of the songs I actually like. 😀

1. Black Eyed Peas, “My Humps”   — This is a rather fun song. 😀
2. Los Del Rio, “Macarena” — I kinda understand.
3. Baha Men, “Who Let The Dogs Out” — Kinda understand too.
4. Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On” — This really ain’t bad, if only it weren’t overplayed.
5. Nickelback, “Photograph” — Well, I don’t like it for being too noisy to the ears.
6. Lou Bega, “Mambo No. 5″ — I’m 50/50 on this.
7. James Blunt, “You’re Beautiful” — This is annoying?!
8. Spice Girls, “Wannabe” — Um…
9. Sisqo, “The Thong Song” — Quite a fun song, IMHO.
10. Cher, “Believe” — Is it really the song? Or how Cher looked in the video?
11. Aqua, “Barbie Girl” — LOL. They could have easily said ‘Aqua’; I’m sure this isn’t the only one. I’m not really hatin’ them though.
12. Chumbawumba, “Tub Thumper” — Nah.
13. Rednex, “Cotton-Eyed Joe” — Never heard.
14. Eiffel 65, “Blue” — I thought this is cute.
15. Crash Test Dummies, “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”
16. Meatloaf, “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” — I almost love this song…
17. ‘NSYNC, “Bye, Bye, Bye” — HAHAHA. Boyband hatred?
18. Ricky Martin, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” — I guess more annoying than Maria or La Copa dela Vida.
19. Semisonic, “Closing Time” — I love this song. C’mon now.
20. Wham!, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” — This puts a smile on my face. Always. So I disagree.

I guess that says I’m not so much of a rock person, as perhaps most of these Rolling Stones fanatics are.

MovieMania: Feels Like Heaven!

In Interesting, Size: Grande on August 2, 2008 at 10:21 pm

I couldn’t be amazed enough at how addicted I got to watching movies. Ever since I (almost) finished school last week, I’ve already seen more than 10 movies…in a span of about 6 days in fact. More than half of them are classics- and I mean those that were made decades ago. I CANNOT stop watching movies anymore! I am definitely putting the blame on my roommate who’s doing (or just finished) a film summer program at USC. Whenever free, he pretty much just hangs out in the living room, enjoying a movie or two. There was even a time he did some serious movie marathon- starting at around 9 or 10 at night and ending at around 2-3pm the following day; he was still up when I came back from school. I joined him in several occasions but I actually can’t remember the first classic film that I joined him in watching. I can only remember one called Walked with Ed Harris in it. In no particular order, here are the movies I’ve seen the past several days:

  • Casablanca (1942)
  • Notorious (1946)
  • Rope (1948 )
  • Rashomon (1950)
  • Vertigo (1958 )
  • Yojimbo (1961)
  • 8 1/2 (1963)
  • Repulsion (1965)
  • Le Samourai (1967)
  • Army of Shadows (1969)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) – Leo DiCaprio was brilliant, and I mean BRILLIANT in this film.
  • The Rock (1996) – Yes, just last night… Say no more.
  • L’Auberge Espagnole (2003) – Not a classic but a fun flick
  • Children of Men (2006)
  • The Devil Wears Prada – I already saw this weeks ago, but as I was trying to chill one night, I decided to give it a go again
  • Atonement (finally completing it after I fell asleep while watching it on the plane)
  • Step Up 2 (apparently not one of the classics)

I have some more I’ve already downloaded and are waiting to be seen:

  • Rope (1948 )
  • Rashomon (1950)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
  • Repulsion (1965)
  • Chinatown (1974)

Vertigo and Notorious are both Alfred Hitchcock films. I never really saw any of his flicks until I saw Notorious the other night. And now I am contemplating buying a 15-disc DVD set of his greatest movies, which include 2 more I am thinking about downloading- Rope and The Birds, perhaps to help me decide whether I should get it or not.

My roommate Brian also introduced me to The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films on DVD. Being a film freak himself, he apparently has some from that collection. Last night, I found myself going through the collection and the top 10s of some critics- until 6am. But the time and effort wasn’t in vain. Not that it’s bad but I found several other movies I want to buy and see:

  • M (1931)
  • Tokyo Story (1953)
  • Seven Samurai (1954)
  • The Leopard (1963)
  • The Shop on Main Street (1965)
  • The Honeymoon Killers (1970)

I love finally having the luxury of time to spend –THIS– much time on movies. Strangely (and maybe even sadly), I’ve seen about twice as many movies in the past week or so in the apartment than I have in the theaters all throughout my whole year stay here in LA.

So little time, so many movies to see. I. Am. Screwed.