Friday, December 07, 2007

Bush Trashed in Tyrol (Also)

"Bush unbelehrbar: nach irak-luege jetzt auch der iran -luege ueberfuehrt"

(Bush never learns: after the Iraq lies now come the Iran lies)

This is the succinct judgment of my local Tyrolean tabloid, the Kronen Zeitung, following the December 3 revelation of the National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003. An American abroad reads such a headline and blinks not an eye. It is, after all, a rather milder judgment than those rendered in the U.S. press itself, to say nothing of the blogosphere, following Monday's news. We now take it for granted that the rest of the world thinks our president is a bald-faced liar. What else should they think?

How we have sunk! Were we not once a proud nation? Did we not once have self-respect? When did we learn to cringe when we see our president give a televised new conference? He steps up to the lectern in well-tailored suits and correctly-knotted ties and a flag in his lapel. For a moment he looks almost believable -- until he speaks. Now we hear utterances that boggle our minds and turn our eyes glassy. Bad enough that the content is delusional, worse that it is delivered in a phony texas twang with carefully-coached diction that ends every sentence on a down note. There is a chip on his shoulder, but nary an idea in his head.

In my lifetime (FDR was president when I was born) we have had no president of this kind. Apart from the sleazy criminality of Richard Nixon, who at least had the wits to conceive and carry out real crimes, there is no parallel to George W. Bush. His father was no giant of intellect but was a decent man who at least had the good sense, based upon advice from the then-still-sane Dick Cheney, not to invade Iraq (see my post, Obama does Cheney, below). Gerald Ford did not score high on the Stanford-Binet (LBJ once said that Ford could not chew gum and walk at the same time), but was an affable lunkert. LBJ got Vietnam terribly wrong, but got other important things right (e.g., voting rights). I could go on to profile the other 7 presidents of my lifetime (excluding George W.) and find something good to say about all of them. One struggles to find something seriously good to say about George W. Bush: he is a liar, he is unscrupulous, he is duplicitous, he is lawless, he is daft, he is easily manipulated, he is delusional, he is clueless, he is incompetent, he is a dangerous twit -- the adjectives leap from the dictionary and beg to be included.

Consider the case at hand: the National Intelligence Estimate said last Monday that in the judgment of the 16 participating intelligence agencies (are there really so many?), rendered with something they call "high confidence," "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." (I urge you to read the NIE for yourself. I have provided a link to the NIE summary above. The Key Judgments section of the report is only 2 1/4 pages long.) That is, "halted" in "fall 2003." In other words, four years ago.

What has Bush done in those four years? Unleashed incessant threats against Iran. For example, in May of this year the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis sailed into the Persian Gulf so that the now-no-longer-sane Dick Cheney could climb aboard and issue more threats to Iran.

This is but one of dozens of examples of sabre-rattling by the administration over the past four years. The most astonishing of them all was, of course, the infamous statement by the president on October 17 of this year:

"I've told people that if you're interest in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

The highlighted words say it all. This is reckless, mindless gamesmanship at the end of its tether. Standing alone it would be cause for a psychiatric commitment of Mr. Bush, or -- better yet -- impeachment. It does not stand alone, however, because we now know that in August of this year, two months before he uttered the words "World War III," Bush was briefed by Mike McConnell, the National Director of Intelligence, to the effect that they had new intelligence on Iran's nuclear weapons program. Here they are together. How should we read the look on Bush's face? Is he pleased with Mike? Is he planning what he is going to do to Mike when the furor dies down?

On December 4, the day after the NIE was released, Bush held a news conference. In answer to the question what effect this new information has on our Iran policy, Bush replied, "Our policy remains the same."

Why does this statement not seem very smart?

Might the Iranian high command not respond by saying, "what the hell, we might as well ramp up our nuclear weapons program?"

As is often the case, Seymour Hersh called this entire scenario over a year ago in the New Yorker. He took a lot of heat for it. The then official state of the intelligence was that Iran was busy at work developing a nuclear weapon. If you missed Wolf Blitzer's "vindication" interview of Hersh on CNN's The Situation Room on the day after the NIE was released, then you can see it here (scroll down on the page).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Undeniable Greatness of Marie Curie and Her Family

Eve Curie Labouisse

The death earlier this week of Eve Curie Labouisse in New York at the extraordinary age of 102 merits a look back at Marie Curie, Eve's mother, and the remarkable Curie family -- a family so much larger than life it is almost mythical.

No less that five members of Marie Curie's family, all within two generations, received a total of four Nobel Prizes, one in Physics, two in Chemistry and the Peace Prize:

  • Marie, together with her husband Pierre and Henri Becquerel (not a family member) received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 for their discovery of radioactivity;
  • Marie, alone, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 for her discovery of the elements Radium and Polonium (the radioactive element used by the Russians to fatally poison Alexander Litvinenko in London last year);
  • Marie's eldest daughter Irene, together with her husband Frederic Joliot, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 for their synthesis of new radioactive elements (in particular, they made a strip of aluminum radioactive by bombarding it with alpha particles from a lump of polonium); and
  • Eve Curie, though she did not herself receive a Nobel Prize, nevertheless married a man, Henry Labouisse, who as executive director of UNICEF received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965.
A greater concentration of Nobel Prizes in such a short time within a single family has not been seen before or since.

To appreciate the singularity of Marie Curie's achievements, one only needs to note that her Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 was the first Nobel Prize ever to go to a woman. The next award in physics to a woman did not occur until 1963 -- 60 years later! Similarly, her Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 was also the first in chemistry to go to a woman, and the next did not occur until 24 years later, in 1935, and it went to her daughter Irene! To this day, only Marie Curie has won two Nobel Prizes in science. An achievement matched by no man. (Linus Pauling later won two Nobel prizes, one in chemistry and one for peace, the latter worthy in its own way, but not comparable to a prize in the natural sciences.)

Please recall that Marie accomplished all of this in France, which makes her achievements and recognition all the more remarkable. In the first place, she was not French -- she was Polish. She was born and raised in Poland. And, in the second place, France is hardly the most egalitarian country in the world when it comes to the rights of women -- women did not even acquire the right to vote in France until 1945. And for all the stunning achievements of Marie and Irene, neither was ever admitted to the French Academy of Science although both of their husbands were admitted, even though their personal achievements were equal to or less than those of their wives.

Much of what we know about Marie Curie and her family we know through the classic biography, Madame Curie, written by Eve Curie in 1937. She won no Nobel Prize for Literature for the book, but she did win a National Book Award. It is a timeless masterpiece -- equally because it is so well done and because of the great story it tells. I worry that it is today almost forgotten and too little appreciated.

[to be continued]

Monday, October 22, 2007

James Watson: A Nobel Prize-Winner -- An Ignoble Man

James Watson's grotesque gaffe last week provides an opportunity to revisit his inexcusable treatment of Rosalind Franklin in the early 1950's in the process of his taking credit, with Francis Crick, for the discovery of the helical structure of DNA. Fifty years and more have passed, but Watson's character has maintained its regrettably low level.

As reported by the N.Y. Times last week, Watson was quoted in the Times of London as saying:

"While there are many people of color who are very talented, I am inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa. All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.” (There was more, but this gives you the general idea -- petty racism wrapped in puerile condescension.)

A predictably perfect storm thereupon broke over poor Jim's head, his speaking engagements in England were canceled, he was suspended from his job as Chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and he fled home to the U.S. in disgrace.

Upon returning home, he issued a "retraction/apology":

“I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said. There is no scientific basis for such a belief.” (Well said, Jim, but Flip Wilson said it better -- "The devil made me do it!" You could learn something from such "people of color," however less intelligent they may be. )

This brings me back to Watson's ruinous treatment of a wonderful woman and surpassingly brilliant scientist -- Rosalind Franklin.

In the early 50's Watson and Francis Crick at Cambridge, Linus Pauling at Cal Tech and Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins at Kings College in London were all racing to discover the structure of DNA. Watson and Crick were biologists, but approached the problem primarily as molecular model builders. Franklin and Wilkins were x-ray crystallographers. Pauling was, of course, the greatest chemist of his day.

Rosalind was the leading crystallographer of her time and preferred to work alone in her laboratory, intensely focused on producing through long x-ray exposures the most revealing and beautiful images of the DNA molecule. Her most famous image was Photo 51:

Although Rosalind was not herself, so it seems, convinced at the time she produced this photo that the structure was helical, her images nevertheless spoke for themselves. Wilkins was nominally her collaborator at Kings College, but was in fact subordinate to her, in rank and ability.

Wilkins had meanwhile developed a friendly relationship with Watson and Crick, who were making progress with their clever model building, but their approach was top-down, so they had no experimental data to guide them through to a final understanding of the structure of DNA.

Then, one fateful day in London, while Rosalind was absent from her laboratory, Wilkins, without Rosalind's knowledge or consent, showed Watson the print of Photo 51. Watson immediately understood that it was the definitive evidence he needed to show that DNA was helical: "The instant I saw the picture my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race." (From Watson's best-seller, The Double Helix.) In short order, Watson and Crick completed their model and published their epochal short paper "A Structure for Deoxyribonucleic Acid" in Nature. Here is their limp-wristed acknowledgement of the key contribution that Rosalind Franklin's work, and Photo 51 in particular, made to their final result:

"We have also been stimulated by a knowledge of the general nature of the unpublished experimental results and ideas of Dr. M.H.F. Wilkins, Dr. R.E. Franklin and their co-workers at King's College, London."

[Let me restate this as it should have been phrased: "We would not have reached our result but for our unauthorized viewing of an x-ray image produced by Rosalind Franklin, shown to us surreptitiously by Maurice Wilkins, which showed, as we were ourselves unable to show, the helical structure of DNA. We would be happy to give her full credit for her contribution but for the fact that we prefer to take the credit ourselves, having clearly in mind that one day this discovery will certainly earn a Nobel prize."]

This was in 1953. Rosalind Franklin died of ovarian cancer (thought by many to have resulted from her long hours of unprotected exposure to x-ray radiation in her laboratory -- cf., Marie Curie and Richard Feynman) in 1958. Watson and Crick, joined somewhat undeservedly by Wilkins, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

Sad enough that Watson leveraged his own fame on the work of Rosalind Franklin without due credit, but worse that he gratuitously disparaged her appearance in The Double Helix:

"Momentarily I wondered how she would look if she took off her glasses and did something novel with her hair...Though her features were strong, she was not unattractive and might have been quite stunning had she taken even a mild interest in her clothes...There was never lipstick to contract with her straight black hair...."

Utter drivel, of course. No surprise that Harvard refused to publish the book (for this, among other good reasons). Any man with an eye for women can recognize here Watson's underlying attraction to Rosalind and his wounded vanity that she treated him as an unimportant toad. Was she so unattractive? I don't think so.

The story has an ironic if not a happy end. Watson's reputation has spiralled (pardon the pun) steadily downward over the years, reaching its nadir last week with his pathetic white supremacist remarks in England. Rosy's repute and estimation in the eyes of the public in general and the scientific community in particular has on the other hand risen steadily. (It is a beautiful analogue of the DNA helix itself -- one coil spirals downward and the other spirals upward.) As a scientist, she is now recognized as one of the greatest contributors to one of the most important scientific achievements in the history of mankind. As a woman, she is recognized as one of the most remarkable in a long line of brilliant women (Marie Curie, Lise Meitner, Cecilia Payne and Jocelyn Bell, to name just four) who have achieved greatness in science notwithstanding the oppression, opposition and obstruction of the many swinish alpha males with whom they were surrounded. See, for example, the Nova website, The Secret of Photo 51 , the excellent biography by Brenda Maddox, Rosalind Franklin -- The Dark Lady of DNA, and the more recent article, "Rosalind Franklin and the Double Helix," by Lynn Elkin in Physics Today (Prof. Elkin, to my delight, chose the same two photos as did I to depict Rosalind).

Coda: The book Watson was in England to promote is or was called, Avoid Boring People and Other Lessons from a Life in Science. I assume it will now be re-titled: Avoid Boorish People and Other Lessons the Author Never Learned.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Good Advice to Senator Obama

I cannot resist this short video delivering the ultimate commentary on the revelation of the familial relationship of Senator Obama and Vice-President Cheney.

Obama and Cheney are Cousins

When I wrote on August 21 (see below) that a video clip from the 90's showing Dick Cheney explaining why it made no sense to invade Iraq after the Gulf War was in reality a sly performance by Barack Obama in white-face, some readers took it for tongue-in-cheek. Think again.

Lynn Cheney discloses in this video that her genealogical research has revealed that Dick Cheney and Barack Obama are cousins in the eighth degree.

So far as we know, Lynn is still alive. I conclude from this that she disclosed her research to Dick and went public with it with his approval.

A Family Gathering

With this revelation we can now understand how Obama was able to do such a convincing impersonation of Cheney in the video clip from the 90's. It was in his genes.

My hat is off to Bill Burton of the the Obama campaign who made the obvious but unavoidable quip when informed of Lynn Cheney's discovery:

"Obviously, Dick Cheney is sort of the black sheep of the family."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Achy Breaky Heart

I have adopted this classic old country ditty by Billy Ray Cyrus as the theme song for my latest encounter with the Reaper.

On a recent Sunday I went for a ride in the Tyrol on the Killercycle.

It had been some time since the Killer and I had been out together. Our route began in Ellmau, ran through Going, Oberndorf, St. Johann , Going again and back to Ellmau. A pleasant two hour ride, with a few serious hills. On the last serious hill, coming out of St. Johann, something inside began to flash yellow warning lights. I hate to stop once underway, but this time I did. There was a convenient bench along the route, so I took a minute to sit down. At that moment, my brother Joe happened to call me from somewhere in Utah, so I took the call and we chatted for a few minutes. That was enough to give me a rest. I mounted the Killer and rode easily back home.

I was overdue anyway for my annual cardiology check-up, so the next day I called my cardiologist Dr. Zahi Ibrahim's office and set an appointment for the following Thursday at noon.

(Dr. Zahi Ibrahim)

I arrived on time, atypically, parked illegally across the street and entered. I hardly had time to scan the latest Golf magazine when I was called to the EKG room. A nurse took blood, and I reclined on the exercise table for a resting EKG and then an exercise EKG following. Midway through the resting EKG the door opened and another nurse called out "don't do the stress EKG!" Dr. Ibrahim thereupon appeared and asserted that my blood showed a suspiciously high level of an enzyme called troponin and he was calling time out to check it again.

Computer model of the complex crystal structure
of the human protein c
ardiac troponin.

This beautiful but nasty little glob of protein is emitted from heart muscle cells when they are worried. And when heart muscle cells are worried the owner of the heart has reason himself/herself to worry also. (I did not know this then.)

Dr. Ibrahim, who is a very class act, walked casually back into the EKG room, reported that the second test also showed heightened levels of troponin, sat down at his desk, picked up the phone, asked for the intensive cardiac station at the Klinikum rechts der Isar around the corner, advised them he was sending a patient immediately and ordered an ambulance. After I peeled myself off the wall I told him that under no circumstances was I going to a hospital with a latin name or any other name. I raised many fundamental objections: I felt fine, my car was illegally parked, I had other plans for the day, I had no toothbrush, etc. He smiled sweetly and gazed upon me as a savant looks upon a fool. ("In patients with acute coronary syndromes, cardiac troponin I levels provide useful prognostic information.... If a blood test for cardiac troponins is positive, coronary angiography is typically performed on an urgent basis, as this is highly predictive of a heart attack in the near-future.")

Within minutes, an ambulance and crew and emergency doctor appeared in the doctor's office and gently guided the sputtering, idiotic patient into the van:

There I was, like it or not, back at the damned Klinikum rechts der Isar, where I had already spent one or more visits for similar reasons.

Still protesting, I was wheeled into the cardiac instensive care station, there to be greeted by the redoubtable Prof. Josef Dirschinger:

Der Kathetermeister

After a quick blood test, he confirmed my troponin reading, nodded gravely, and recommended that I give thanks to Dr. Ibrahim for getting me to the clinic in record time. (I took his advice and later sent Dr. Ibrahim a case of 'La Pieve' Chianti Classico from Fabrizio Ferrucci's shop in Radda in Chianti.)

With my troponin running rampant Prof. Dirschinger advised there was no alternative but to do an angiogram and have a look inside. I surrendered. I had been there before and knew the angiogram itself is a non-event from the patient's point of view. Entirely painless -- only 15 - 40 minutes of boredom.

Two hours later I sailed into the heart catheter OR on my gurney, slid into the arms of the snazzy new catheter machine they had installed with the help, in part, of the fees I had paid after my last outing. A two-nurse team, kindly, well-trained and bossy, did the prep, shaving me and swathing me in bilious orange disinfectant. The Kathermeister entered and called for a catheter.

Heart catheter -- an expensive roto-rooter

As the procedure began, so did Beethoven's Seventh Symphony (at the Klinikum rechts der Isar they are civilized enough to provide tasteful background music) on the stereo system in the OR.

The Seventh Symphony

Step 1 brings the slight sting of the injection of a local anesthetic where the femoral artery passes through the groin. Then the catheter slides up the artery (you know it is happening but you cannot feel it) and injects the inky fluid which gives definition to the coronary arteries -- the back of the brain registers a sudden rush of hot fluid, but it quickly passes. On the monitor at the upper left the patient can watch it all as the x-ray scanning arm passes back and forth over his chest, but to the patient's untrained eye it is a meaningless, gray, throbbing video landscape.

In Step 2 the catheter re-enters the femoral arter
y and crawls up and videos the arterial lay of the land on the surface of the heart, looking for problems, i.e., arteries narrowed or closed. The Professor now reports that he has found a badly narrowed artery and proposes first to open it and then to implant a coated stent to keep it open, assuming I consent.

Frame from my angiogram showing narrowing where
middle artery joins saddle

Well, what choice do I have? (Are you sure? How much will it cost? Can I see your license? I want a second opinion. Have you done this before? What happens if you screw up? Is your insurance paid up? .....) Bring it on!

A colleague of Prof. Dirschinger's
holds a stent up for view

So steps 3 and 4 proceed. The balloon opens the artery. The catheter goes back and forth. The 7th symphony plays on. The stent goes in. Shortly, the Professor sings out in a satisfied tone, "fertig, es hat geklappt!"

Subsequent frame showing
artery now expanded as it joins saddle

Having delivered his verdict, he turns and exits the OR. At that moment the 7th Symphony ends and the 8th begins. So we know exactly how long it took -- the precise length of the 7th Symphony -- the "apotheosis of the dance" it is called, but it was no dancing matter in the OR that day.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Una Furtiva Lagrima per Luciano Pavarotti

The news of the death today of Luciano Pavarotti in Modena of pancreatic cancer moves me to post this video of him singing my favorite aria, "Una Furtiva Lagrima," from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore. He was such a great artist, whose voice we instantly recognize from the first notes we hear him sing, and, though I never met him, was such a huge and human personality. I think back upon the hundreds of hours I have spent listening to Pavarotti and shed una furtiva lacrima of my own for Luciano tonight. CNN says that his greatest achievement was to "bring classical music to the masses," which is of course nonsense. He was an artist and his greatest achievement was his art.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Thinking Soldier's Man -- Return of the Video

The video of Col. Nagl's appearance on The Daily Show included in my post "A Thinking Soldier's Man," of August 26 , 2007, below, has apparently been pulled by YouTube and can no longer be accessed from my blog. The community of YouTube users is, however, irrepressible and the video has already re-appeared, so here it is again.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Thinking Soldier's Man

I did not see this intriguing interview when it appeared on Jon Stewart's show on August 23, but caught up to it today on a remarkable website called I was led to this site by today's article by Fred Kaplan in the NY Times. The article is entitled "Challenging the Generals." It is an eye-opener. Kaplan has opened a view of a culture of intellectuals within the US Army who are challenging the generals and questioning our policies in Iraq, and elsewhere.

I have to admit that I discount the US Army and the other services so deeply in view of our disastrous conduct in Iraq (and in view of my own experience in the USAF from 1955 through 1959) and have such a strong prejudice against all of our military leadership, that it comes as a real challenge to open my mind and listen to voices such as that of John Nagl. Take note of his performance on Stewart's show. Note how respectfully Jon treats him.

I went to the website of the Small Wars Journal, cited by Kaplan, and learned that John Nagl is a West Point graduate, a Rhodes Scholar and has a Ph. D from Oxford. The list of bloggers and contributors to Small Wars Journal have, in general, similarly impeccable academic and professional credentials. I am sufficiently impressed with the Small Wars Journal, as a kind of Foreign Affairs for military intellectuals, that I will add a link to it to my blog and hope that readers will take note of it.

Pardon me, but I did not know we had such people a Nagl in our armed services. I take responsibility for my own ignorance. I now know how little I know. Somehow we should learn that we have such people in our armed services and open up our channels to their thinking and find a way to support them and let them know they are heard.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Obama Does Cheney

This post continues the intriguing theme begun with the last post -- namely, the confusion and mystery concerning the true identity of Dick Cheney. Just as Nick Kristoff discovered and revealed that Cheney is the lost twin of Ahmadinejad, I have discovered that Barack Obama, in whiteface, has been passing himself off as Dick Cheney, giving interviews and making the Vice President look like a fool.

Have a look at this video. Obama gives a good impression here of the Vice. But if you look and listen closely you will see immediately that this is not Dick Cheney. The demeanor is just a little bit too sincere to be Dick. The argumentation is too calm and reasonable. Cheney has never expressed himself in this way. Obama has the gestures down, but not the mentality. We can forgive Senator Obama for this shortfall, however. It is not easy to understand the dark side of the Vice President, let alone mimic it.

The give-away, however, comes in the final minutes of the "interview," wherein Obama/Cheney expresses himself so tenderly over the potential loss of American lives should we invade Iraq. Note the sly use by Obama of the phrase " how many dead Americans was Saddam worth?" Then note the wicked answer he puts into Cheney's mouth: "...not many." At a time when the death toll of American military men and women in Iraq approaches 4,000, it is not merely diabolic, it verges on bad taste, for Obama to put such words into Mr. Cheney's mouth.

I think we must conclude that this kind of vicious jab at a sitting Vice President, while perhaps satirical in intent, lies at the very outer edge of fair campaigning. One wonders whether Obama has perhaps hired Carl Rove.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cheney and Ahmadinejad

Nicholas D. Kristof

Twins Separated at Birth ?

Nick Kristof revealed today in a brilliant column in the N.Y. Times that Dick Cheney and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may in fact be twins separated at birth. The circumstantial evidence mobilized in support of this stunning finding by Kristof is persuasive. The two are clearly working in close harmony to stir the Iranian passion for nuclear weapons. It is a toss-up to decide which of the two deserves more credit for driving the Iranian nuclear program. Kristof's column speaks for itself and deserves to be read.

What is astonishing to me is not Kristof's discovery of the relationship between Cheney and Ahmadinejad per se, which I had long suspected in any event, but the comments posted in the Times in response to his column. Do read them. Two clear conclusions emerge:

First, there is in America an almost frightening pent up animosity toward Dick Cheney, and

Second, there is a palpable hunger for a genuine impeachment movement.

I have written earlier about the legal foundations for an impeachment proceeding against Bush and Cheney in a post in this blog, when referring to my classmate Elizabeth Holtzman's book on the case for impeaching Bush and, by extension, Cheney.

Can it be that the time is coming?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quote of the Week

Jim Redman
is one of the great motorcycle racers of all time. He was a six time world road-racing champion and a six-time winner of the Isle of Man TT, and in 1995, at the age of 64, he won the race at Daytona on an MV Agusta 350.

On Saturday of last week, Redman was inducted into the Moto GP Hall of Fame at a ceremony held on the eve of this year's German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring. A well deserved honor for Redman, who is also, by the way, a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Redman, who is 75, appeared at the ceremony at the Sachsenring with his 17 year old German girlfriend, Lisa. (See above.) He grinned at the press and quipped:

I raced at a time when motorsport was dangerous and sex was safe.

I have the feeling that today the reverse is true.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

China Overtakes Germany

An Historic Moment

In a front page article on July 16, 2007, The Wall Street Journal reports that, based upon results through June 30, China will overtake Germany in 2007 to become the third largest economy in the world, after the U.S. and Japan.

China had already passed the U.K. and France, but in 2006 its GDP came in at $2.8 trillion, just behind Germany at $2.9 trillion.

In the first two quarters of 2007, however, China grew at 11% and Germany at 3%, and those numbers are expected to hold for the year. The result is that in 2007 China's GDP will grow to $3.1 trillion and Germany will come in at $2.987 trillion.

To put these numbers in context, consider that the 2006 GDP of the U.S. was $13.2 trillion and that of Japan was $4.4 trillion. It gives you a sense of just how big the U.S. economy really is and why until recently every uptick of the U.S. inflation rate caused investors around the world to tremble.

Now as the emerging markets of Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe surge forward, and as the EU economies grow, the weight of the U.S. economy is becoming balanced by other world economies, with the hopeful result that these economies will prosper and remain stable despite downturns in the U.S.

Two other interesting GDP numbers are those of Russia, which we often think of as in some sense a co-equal power to the U.S., which has a GDP of a mere $975 billion, less than a 13th of that of the U.S., and of little South Korea, with a population of only 49 million, which has a GDP of $877 billion, making it the world's tenth largest economy.

As the emerging markets guru Antoine van Agtmael observes in his new book The Emerging Markets Century, prior to the industrial revolution China and India were in fact the world's largest economies. China's leap over Germany thus resonates with the past.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Final Argument of James Martin MacInnis

A speech prepared but not given

Sometime in early 1979 for reasons now lost in the passage of time the great San Francisco trial lawyer, James Martin MacInnis, drafted a set of rough notes for a speech on the art of final argument in the trial of causes before the courts. MacInnis was himself a master of final argument and knew whereof he wrote. Sadly, before he could complete his draft he was killed in an automobile accident at Gough and Pacific streets in San Francisco when a car driven by a drunken driver broadsided his car, killing him and his wife. The Bar of San Francisco mourned the loss of one of the greatest among them.

MacInnis' notes in due course came into the hands of Bill Newsom, MacInnis' long-time friend, colleague, admirer and mimic (MacInnis once said to him, "Bill you tell this story, you do me better than I do myself."). Newsom took the notes and wrote the speech MacInnis had intended to write. He delivered it on MacInnis' behalf on the occasion of the dedication of the James Martin MacInnis Moot Court Room the Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco on October 21, 1981.

Here then is the speech conceived and drafted by MacInnis but written and delivered by Newsom -- the lawyer may learn from it, the layman may savor it (click on the image):

Friday, July 06, 2007

More on Gore

The Run-Up to Live Earth

In the run-up to Live Earth tomorrow Al Gore appeared on Larry King today looking extraordinarily well and handling Larry's questions beautifully. He looked indeed like a president-in-waiting. I take back everything I said in my earlier post about needing a new tailor and a drama coach.

Gore had a quick answer to Larry's question, "well, why don't you run for president?", which was, "I am involved in another kind of campaign now and it feels like I am doing the right thing." Full stop. Answers the question but rules nothing out. The only hint of what may really be on his mind came in answer to Larry King's question, "what do you think of the possibility that Michael Bloomberg will run for president as an independent?" Gore made it clear he was not happy about that possibility at all and obliquely warned Bloomberg away with the admonition that no one has ever been elected president as an independent. In addition, he remarked several times that, "there are 500 days left until the election." Now why would he be keeping track of that, unless....?

Gore goes out of his way to avoid negative comments about other political figures, but makes an exception in the case of Dick Cheney, with respect to whom he puts on his most serious mien and intones, "the Vice-President has done real harm to this country."

If Live Earth is a success, as it appears it will be, Gore will have global superstar status. He will be an almost certain Nobel Peace Prize winner. He will occupy a commanding position in the world. With his film, his best-selling book and Live Earth behind him he can remain above the domestic U.S. political wars, concentrate on climate change, and let the presidency come to him. A very smart strategy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Scooter Scoots

Tonight George W. has commuted Scooter. Not pardoned, as we all (including Scooter) expected, but commuted. Scooter remains a convicted felon and will soon be a disbarred lawyer. But he is spared jail time.

By any measure this is a spineless solution. Typical of George W. The people will despise him. Scooter will hate him. A pointless and idiotic decision by the president.

What negotiation must have gone on behind the scenes. Did Cheney press hard for a full pardon? Scooter must be wondering this tonight? Does Cheney stand up for his people, or does he let them twist in the wind? Cheney's appearance on Face the Nation on April 15 (reported earlier in this blog) suggests that he is no stand up guy.

Scooter must be thinking over his book tonight. What possibilities lie before him?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Gore Administration

I have Al Gore at 3 to 1, Hillary at 5 to 1, Obama at 6 to 1, Edwards at 10 to 1 and no one else worth rating.

Gore is not just a wannabe president, he is a should-have-been president. That must weigh on his mind each minute of each day. And he has some scores to settle. (One of them is with himself, for running such a lame campaign in 2000.)

Hillary and Obama will cancel each other out with their mutual popularity, their fat treasuries and their lack of electability, standing alone.

Gore will have to step in. If he does, and if gets a new tailor, a new hair stylist and a decent drama coach who can tell him how to talk, tell a joke and act like a genuine human being, he will be unbeatable. He has substance: he thinks, he acts, he leads, he writes, he is decent, he is not an asshole, he has relevant experience, he moves people. He is better than the American people deserve.

The Republicans have no one. McCain could have had it all, but in the dumbest political act of the last decade tied his star to George W. and became a sycophant for the religious right. He got what he deserved and disappeared into a political black hole. He is history. (This assessment of McCain was confirmed by the report in the N.Y. Times of July 3 that McCain raised only $11.2 million in Q2 [a third of what Obama raised] and as a result has had to lay off dozens of campaign workers.) Giuliani is a jerk and a joke, and it is impossible to imagine a president named Rudy. Fred who? Nothing could be better for the Democrats than that the Republicans should nominate Newt. George has left a wasteland behind.

So, the case for Al Gore is overwhelming. What next? His ticket and his cabinet. Now the fun begins.

There is only one possibility for the Vice Presidential position -- Barack Obama. It is not even close. The chemistry between Hillary and Al would be toxic. They would destroy each other. Edwards would add nothing to a ticket led by Gore. Obama brings brains, style, glamour, excitement, novelty and tons of money. It is a perfect fit with Al. The southern white candidate with a northern black running mate -- it is the realization of the American dream. And look -- the southern white is a global environmental superstar and the northern black was president of the Harvard Law Review. This is American power and possibility at its acme.

Now to the cabinet. Some picks are easy.

Patrick Fitzgerald must be the Attorney General.

Hillary must swallow her pride and become Secretary of Health and Human Services, finally to be in a position to drive this country to a sane national health care program. If she has integrity she will not pass it up. Moreover, look how it positions her for a future run if she succeeds here.

Secretary of State: my candidate is Bill Clinton. If you forget that he was the president and made a giant fool of himself, he has superb credentials for the post of Secretary of State.

Dept. of Treasury: I would leave Hank Paulson in place -- for the time being.

Dept. of Labor: John Edwards. It is not a perfect fit, but he is the only one to speak out on the ruinous issue of income inequality in America and this is as good a platform as any for him to address that problem. If not Edwards, then Robert Reich again.

Dept. of Defense: A tough call. Colin Powell might be a candidate. A chance for him to make a comeback from the shadows. Does he have the guts? He flinched last time around and played the whore at the UN. He might come back with a vengeance.

Dept. of Homeland Security: Abolish it.

Dept. of Interior: Candidate to be nominated by William A Newsom, Jr., of San Francisco.

Dept. of Housing and Urban Development: Why not Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco? He knows urban issues first hand. He needs executive experience at the cabinet level. (All the others are learning on the job. Why not Gavin?) This gives him a national platform and gets him out of the no-win cul-de-sac of San Francisco politics. He could do a great job here and later cross over to the governorship of California, after Arnie, or to the vice-presidency in Gore's second term or under Hillary in her first term.

All other cabinet positions are open.

The first Supreme Court position should go to Laurence H. Tribe of the Harvard Law School faculty. Any scholar writing an article entitled, "The Unbearable Wrongness of Bush v. Gore," should be appointed to the Supreme Court.

The open question is whether Gore can put together a winning campaign organization, by which I mean a Kennedy-style campaign that means to win and brings together the talent, organization, money and winning attitude to do it. Our recent Democratic candidates have failed horribly on this score.

This is a work in progress and all comments are welcome.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Newsom Does MacInnis

While in Dutch Flat recently I had an opportunity to create this video clip of Bill Newsom recounting some of the courtroom exploits of the inimitable San Francisco trial lawyer, James Martin MacInnis. There are many more stories where these came from, and I will post some additional videos as soon as possible.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pelosi's Visit to Syria -- Cheney Carps

"Bad behavior" says Dick Cheney

"Impudent" is too good a word to describe Cheney's "bad behavior" accusation. In German one would call it a "Frechheit." A Frechheit is several levels of opprobrium above "impudence." "Frechheit" combines "impudence" with "shameless." Cheney's remark is an example of shameless impudence.

Cheney, on the other hand, certainly kno
ws something about bad behavior. In his long and regrettable career he has shown himself a master of it. But expertise in the practice of bad behavior does not imply expertise in the theory of bad behavior. As a Harvard faculty member opposed to the appointment of Vladimir Nabokov to the faculty once sniffed, "One does not invite an elephant to teach zoology." Similarly, one does not look to Dick Cheney for informed criticism of the conduct of others.

Let us consider a short list of some examples of Vice's bad behavior:

  • He is an architect of the war in Iraq, a war in which the United States, contrary to all of its best principles and traditions, invaded and ultimately devasted a country with which it was at peace.
  • He and the President, George W. Bush, conspired to lie to the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq, namely, that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein was implicated with Al Qaeda in 9/11.
  • Together with the president he participated in the decision to withdraw from the Geneva Conventions to the extent necessary to clear the way for the torture of prisoners taken in Iraq and elsewhere in the prosecution of the War on Terror.
  • He and the president, though warned in advance of the oncoming Hurricane Katrina, failed to heed the warnings and thereby paved the way for the unspeakable disaster that followed and continues to follow.
My law school classmate, Elizabeth Holtzman, in her book, The Impeachment of George W. Bush, and in her address of March 8, 2007, at the Woodrow Wilson Institute of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, has laid out the legal case for impeaching the President on the basis of this course of conduct, and, by implication, the Vice-President as well. If the case laid out by Holtzman is well-taken, and if the House of Representatives were to act upon it and carry out the impeachments, we would have the elegant result that Nancy Pelosi would be President.

The bad behavior examples listed above occurred at the level of public policy. Cheney's behavior at the personal level is similarly wretched. Take the case of Scooter Libby.

The Vice-President, whose right-hand man Libby was, undertook to gain revenge against Joseph C. Wilson for writing a report that concluded that the claim that Iraq was obtaining uranium in Niger for use in building nuclear weapons was totally bogus by "outing" Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA officer. (That Plame's CIA job status was not in any way relevant to the issue -- whether Iraq was or was not building nuclear weapons -- only illustrates how mean and small-minded was the "outing" project.) In due course, Scooter Libby, was indicted, tried and convicted of perjury committed in the course of the investigation of the outing of Valerie Plame. No one doubts that Libby took the fall for Cheney. (See the comment of one of the Libby jurors, for example.)

Libby now knows his former boss is no stand up guy: in a brilliant interview of Cheney conducted by Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation on April 15, 2007, Schieffer asked Cheney whether he had spoken to Scooter Libby since the trial. Upon receiving Cheney's negative answer on the basis that he did not want to interfere in a pending legal action, Schieffer asked:

"Have you not even called him as an old friend to express your regrets?"

To which Cheney replied:

"There has been no occasion to do that."

So much for the behavior of Richard B. Cheney, 46th Vice-President of the United States of America.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Serious about Syria

Nancy Pelosi's Visit to Syria

I am filled with admiration for Nancy Pelosi for having the courage and audacity to visit Syria this week. In one brilliant step she has moved from the speakership to the world stage. It was a stunning move that showed the world a better side of America than the one they have been seeing in recent years. Nancy's visit demonstrated to the world that America is not all about Bush and Cheney. After the dark, dreary, disastrous night of George Bush's ruinous presidency it is refreshing to watch the woman who is second in line to the presidency make such a bold, independent and unexpected move -- a move that is, moreover, right in the face of Bush and Cheney. Bush is, predictably, apoplectic. Mentally muddled as ever, he charges that Nancy's visit sends mixed signals to Syria and the world, not getting it that that is exactly what we want and need.

Following the report of the Baker-Hamilton Commission we have watched the government dither over the desirability or lack of it of talking to Iran and Syria. Nancy says, "no this!" She steps on the plane and goes to Damascus. There she sits down and talks to Assad. Mission accomplished! (Thanks for that, George.) As Dylan says on his last album, "things have changed."

What does this tell us about Nancy Pelosi? Did anyone think she would take this kind of electrifying action so early in her term? Not I. Barely three months have elapsed since she took office and she has made herself a global political player. What nerve! What next? Taking stock, the Speaker is mature, beautiful, articulate, intelligent, imaginative and bold. Do Hillary and Barack have cause for concern?

Postscript: As we watch Nancy Pelosi's ascending star, we should also take note of Germany's prime minister, Angela Merkel, who is surprising people who had sold her short with her astute and successful diplomacy. Angela has a Ph.D. in quantum chemistry and is not to be sold short.

Martin Luther King Remembered

I cannot let this day pass without remembering that today is the 39th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King at age 39 by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. King's assassination was the second in the series of three assassinations in the '60's that deprived America of its best and brightest leadership -- John F. Kennedy in 1963, Martin Luther King in 1967 and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. It is hard to imagine today the murderous history of America in that decade. And it is all the more painful to reflect upon it at a time like the present when the country suffers under the degraded and failed leadership of George Bush and Dick Cheney.

It is an odd coincidence that all of the three great and stirring speeches I have heard in my lifetime also occurred in the 1960's: John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address (text) (video) of January 20, 1961; Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963; and Abba Eban's speech to the U.N. Security Council of June 6, 1967, defending Israel's Six Day War.

The full video of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech of August 28, 1963, appears at the head of this post. It is well worth every one of the 17 minutes it takes to view it. It is as moving today as it was on that hot, humid day in Washington 44 years ago.

Postscript: I cannot let a tribute to Martin Luther King on the anniversary of his assassination end without mentioning Robert F. Kennedy's moving extemporaneous statement on the night of the assassination. The link will take you to an audio recording of Bobby's remarks accompanied by a photo montage of the times.

Friday, March 30, 2007

A Nuclear Waltz

Iran's Nuclear Ambitions and the Views of Kenneth Waltz

We are looking down here through the lens of Google Earth at Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, located in the desert 129 air miles south of Tehran and 37 miles from the ancient oasis city of Kashan, heretofore more famous for carpets than bombs. The facility is like the ocean -- smooth on the surface, but everything interesting lies underneath. Here is a what some western experts think is underneath:

Iran is here assembling the centrifuges that enable the enrichment of weapons-grade uranium. No one knows quite how many they have assembled and linked to date, but it is probably not more than 500 of the 3000 they need in the first stage. But just because we do not know, the International Atomic Energy Agency wishes to install additional cameras underground at Natanz in order to monitor activity at the plant and has made a demand on Iran to permit the installation of such cameras. Iran has predictably refused. The crisis continues. Iran is demonized. The angst of the West rises and the US pitches for a nuclear shield in Europe.

This brings us to the inimitable Kenneth N. Waltz, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley, now Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, and one of the world's most influential international relations scholars, whose views on nuclear arms are provocative, interesting and far out of the Bush-Cheney mainstream. According to Waltz, we can sleep well even if Iran acquires the bomb.

Waltz's perspective can be best heard in his recent debate with Scott Sagan of Stanford University. The debate is available on Princeton University's excellent University Channel, which makes a collection of public affairs lectures, panels and events from academic institutions all over the world available online to view, listen to, stream or download. The easiest way to access this superb resource is to subscribe to it (without cost) in the iTunes Music Store (select Podcasts and search University Channel). It will then download to your iPod when you next synchronize it with your computer. This gives you a continuing stream of lectures, debates and discussions to listen to in your car or on the plane when you are underway. You can pick and choose, of course, and accept those of interest to you and delete the others. It is best to keep an open mind, however, and listen to what is offered, whether or not you thought you were interested.

Here is Waltz's view, as I understand it:

First, in the 50+ years of the nuclear era we have not in fact experienced nuclear proliferation. There are today just nine nations with nuclear weapons: the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Iran would be the tenth. Waltz calls this "glacial creep, not proliferation."

The countries with nuclear weapons have, to date, for over fifty years, uniformly behaved with moderation with their weapons. We can even say "responsibly." And bear in mind, not all of the nuclear powers are nations that generally get high marks for stable, responsible, non-aggressive behavior. One can think about a rogue Red China in an earlier era, the Stalinist Soviet Union with its mad generals in the depths of the Cold War, and a wild, islamic and unstable Pakistan today. These were and are nuclear powers, after all. Some might add the Bush-Cheney United States to the list of dangerous rogue nations. Consider also that Pakistan and India fought a war and neither used nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of states can only serve one purpose according to Waltz -- deterrence. They have almost no offensive value. Take the case of Iran and Israel. Many in the west seem to assume that once Iran has the bomb Israel will be its first target. But that is nonsense. Israel, we understand, possesses at least 200 nuclear weapons. Iran could not possibly knock them all out in a first strike, and if it did not Iran could count on certain obliteration in the Israeli counter-attack. What is in that for Iran? Annilihation, pure and simple.

Even less is it plausible that Iran would initiate a nuclear war with the US. The Iranians might just as well drop their bomb on themselves and end the suspense. The "nuclear shield" the US is presently trying to impose on Europe would constitute a colossal, unnecessary waste of money.

If an Iranian bomb would serve no offensive purpose, then we might ask does Iran have a legitimate need for deterrence? Of course it does. As Waltz points out, in 2002 Bush declared the Axis of Evil, naming three states, and then proceeded to invade one of them. Might Iranian planners not be thinking, "maybe we're next?" Iran has a US-occupied Iraq on one border and a nuclear Pakistan on the other. And 980 miles down the road from Tehran sits Israel, an aggressive nuclear opponent of Iran.

We in the west may think Israel is a benign neighbor who poses no nuclear threat to Iran, but then again maybe we are wrong. Perhaps Bibi Netanyahu has a covert team of first-strikers sitting in a war-room deep underground in the desert. Do we know? Israel has shown before that it is prepared to make pre-emptive strikes in its national self-interest, in the Six Day War in 1967 and with its bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osiraq in 1981. Leaders in Iran might well think Israel is a threat.

And even if Israel is not a threat to Iran the US plainly is. Hardly a week goes by that the Bush-Cheney team does not issue a threat or send a carrier to the waters off Iran. Putting the lunatic Ahmadinejad aside, Iran has legitimate cause for concern. Waltz asserts that it would in fact be strange if Iran did not want to develop nuclear weapons.

So, accepting that Iran is en route to becoming a nuclear power whether we like it or not, and recognizing that there is some merit in Iran's position, we can take on board Waltz's contention that, realistically, it does not matter.

Cheer up my brothers,
Live in the sunshine.
We'll understand it,
All by and by.

("Farther Along," - traditional American hymn)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Interview with Gavin Newsom at Davos

This is a short video from Always On of a high-spirited interview at Davos with Gavin Newsom, the Mayor of San Francisco and an old friend, in which the interviewer claims Gavin is responsible for Kerry losing the election to Bush. Click on either link below.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Effects of Origami on Psychopathic Killers

The New Yorker has an admirable tradition of publishing articles on subjects which at first seem uninteresting or unimportant, or both, but which in the hands of artful writers become interesting, at least, and important, often. Such is the category into which an article in the February 19 & 26, 2007, issue, entitled "The Origami Lab," and written by one Susan Orlean falls. (Susan is apparently a specialist in the arcane -- she is currently writing a book on -- ready? -- Rin Tin Tin.)

This article is ostensibly about a fascinating character named Robert J. Lang. He has a Ph.D. in applied physics from Caltech -- credential enough in my book. In the Internet collapse of 2000 he bailed out of a normal tech job in (or near) Silicon Valley. He had been doing Origami since the age of six and now became one of the first full time professional Origami scientist/artists. You see above a sample of what he can do. See his brilliant website for more. It is worth the trip.

At Lang's level Origami is no longer about paper hats and paper airplanes (which is about where I left off). It is about advanced mathematics, very special papers and the use of industrial laser cutters to crease paper into complex folds. For example, look at his crease pattern for a dragonfly:

And here is his dragonfly:
Now you do it.

Lang has developed his Origami skills to such an extent that he has been commissioned by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (sanitized from its toxic former name the "Lawrence Radiation Laboratory," which is how it was known when I grew up in Berkeley in the 50's), for example, to plan how to fold a telescope with a hundred meter diameter lens so that it could packed into a rocket and fired into space. Wow!

The story of Lang's development and his achievements is beautifully told in the Orlean article. Fascinating though it is, it is not the point of this blog.

At one point in Orlean's article, near the end, we read that an unnamed "mental-health professional" presented a paper at a 1991 conference on "Origami in Education and Therapy" in which she asserted that her "most rewarding of experiences was that of observing the effect that Origami had on psychopathic killers."

I will pause while your mind boggles, as did mine when I read this. Having surfaced this astounding observation by a "mental-health professional" Orlean drops the subject and moves on to a humdrum account of a meeting of the West Coast Origami Guild in Orange County. You can skip over this part of the article.

Excuse me, Susan, but what effect did Origami have upon psychopathic killers? You owe us.

What about Ted Bundy (at least 30 murders)?

Or Jeffrey Dahmer (17 murders)?

Were they, or others like them, driven to serial murder by the maddening frustration of finding themselves unable to make proper Origami storks? Did they plan their murder sprees while maniacally folding paper into obscene or violent shapes? Did they torture their victims by forcing them to fold paper? Or, once in captivity, did they become immediately becalmed by the pacifying pleasure of partitioned paper? Did they lose all interest in murder and transfer their savage impulses to folded paper? While sitting on death row at the Florida State Prison did Bundy make Origami models of Old Sparky?

It is gross, I admit. But some mental-health professional has written of the "effects of Origami on psychopathic killers," and Susan Orlean has quoted her, but we are left to wonder.

Postscript: A Case in Point -- perhaps

Charles Ng, P- 46001,
San Quentin State Prison

I am indebted to Robert J. Lang himself for a reference to at least one psychopathic killer who does origami -- Charles Ng. Ng was one of two perpetrators of the Motherlode Murders in the foothills of California in the 1980's. He and his partner, Leonard Lake, were thought to have committed upwards of 25 murders in which they kidnapped, tortured, sexually abused, videotaped and murdered 26 or more people, the exact number remains unknown. Lake ultimately did the decent thing and killed himself. Ng fled to Canada, was apprehended and returned to California where he was finally convicted of 11 murders and sentenced to death.

Ng now resides on death row at San Quentin. You see him above. You see him below as he looked then. A Canadian group opposed to the death penalty, the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty, which offers free web pages to death row prisoners, has taken up Ng's cause and provided him with a web page. We learn therein that Ng does indeed do origami because he says that he does.

His text makes interesting if slightly demented reading. He characterizes himself as a victim of injustice: "My case, from inception to verdict, has been both a travesty and outrage of mistreatments and miscarriage of justice." He flirts with the spectre of racial persecution (or is it a macabre form of racial pride?)-- "I am currently the only Chinese prisoner" on death row, then lapses into New Age sentimentality: "To me, art is a universal emotional expression of all cultures, and wildlife art a spiritual reference for all things wild and free; and a way for me to immortalize my love and intimacy to those who are dear and special to me...." Perhaps, Charles. But then there is the matter of those videotapes where you are shown debasing young women. "In captivity, Brenda was seen on tape tied to a chair, pleading for her life as her husband, son, friend Stapley, and others watched in horror. The Asian untied her and she was forced to strip naked before being put in leg-irons and sexually abused by both Lake and the Oriental." Here, apparently, origami is a way for the psychopathic killer to say, "see, I fold paper, I cannot be all bad...."