Saturday, February 23, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering...

From the Asia Times
The Iranian oil bourse - the first oil, gas and petrochemical exchange in the Islamic Republic, and the first within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - was launched on Sunday by Iran’s Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari, flanked by Minister of Economy and Financial Affairs Davoud Danesh Ja’fari, the man who will head the exchange...

...Transactions at this early stage will be in Iran’s currency, the rial, according to Nozari, ending worldwide speculation that the bourse would start trading in euros. The Iranian ambassador to Russia, Gholam-Reza Ansari, has said that "in the future, we'll be able to use the ruble, Russia’s national currency, in our operations". He added that "Russia and Iran, two major producers of the world’s energy, should encourage oil and gas transactions in various non-dollar currencies, releasing the world from being a slave of the dollar."

Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said last week that "the ruble will de facto become one of the regional reserve currencies"...

...The trillion-dollar question is if, and when, most European and Asian oil importers may stampede towards the Iranian oil bourse. OPEC members as well as oil producers from the Caspian may be inevitably seduced by the advantages of selling at Kish - with no dreaded middlemen. Europeans, Chinese and Japanese will also see benefits if they can buy oil with euros, yen or even yuan - they won’t need US dollars – and the same applies to their central banks.

It would take only a few major oil exporters to switch from the dollar to the euro - or the yen - to fatally bomb the petrodollar mothership...

...The symbolism of the Iranian oil bourse is stark; it shows that the flight from the US dollar is irreversible - and so, sooner rather than later, is diminution of Washington's capacity to launch wars on credit. But at this early stage in the game, only one thing is certain: the empire will strike back.
And what form might the empire's actions take?

Well, back in 2000, Saddam Hussein insisted that Iraq's oil be paid for in Euros. By June 10, 2003, after the US invasion of Iraq, the transactions were switched back to dollars.

Friday, February 22, 2008

(cont...) Football, My Secret Shame...

As previously mentioned I love football (the American version). I'm a little embarrassed by this at times. The culture surrounding it (the frequent misogyny), the horrific violence (there's a reason football players tend to die young), all those stupid beer and Viagra commercials...

But I still love it. The strategy and athleticism. The soap opera. There are "story lines," with heroes and villains. Defeat and redemption. Destiny.

Plus, I've always been amused by the sorta repressed homo-erotic aspect. You know. The male bonding. The tears. The ass-slapping and talk of penetration.

But none of my mild snarking on the topic prepared me for Michael Silver's hilarious article about the NFL scouting combine:

Walk the halls of the Indianapolis Convention Center adjacent to the Dome, and you’ll hear scouts and coaches throwing out compliments like, “That guy’s (expletive) pretty, now.” You’ll see write-ups lauding a prospect’s “big, bubble ass” or “great explosion in his hips.”

Go to the bars at night, and you can’t walk five feet without encountering a 60-something-year-old man with a gleam in his eye who’ll talk about how he has “fallen in love” with one player or another...

...For NFL prospects, the ogling begins at the Shrine Bowl, then continues later at the Senior Bowl when participants are trotted into a Mobile, Ala., hotel ballroom and weighed and measured while wearing glorified Speedo swimsuits.

“I’ve seen guys with some horrible physiques,” agent Gary Wichard says. “One big guy this year, I kid you not, had C-cups. I’ve seen man-boobs before; these were woman boobs. They looked like implants. I felt so bad for the kid, having to walk around that room with 650 people looking at him and gasping.”

Conversely, the excitement that an exceptionally cut prospect provokes is unnerving in a different way. Two years ago at the Senior Bowl, Wichard’s client Brodrick Bunkley, a former Florida State defensive tackle now with the Philadelphia Eagles, practically had people drooling as he cat-walked through the middle of the crowded ballroom.

“They talk about ‘Winning the Beauty Contest’ – that was Brodrick Bunkley,” Wichard says. “When he weighed in, there were murmurs throughout the room. His legs were exploding out of his shorts, and it looked like his skin was swathed in Saran Wrap. You had a bunch of grown men who acted like they were at a strip joint outside of town. I thought they were going to offer him money for a lap dance.”
Yeah. I love this game.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Testing the Waters...

Howdy all! 

Another draft in the can. I feel pretty good about it. I know I fixed some problems, am not sure about a couple of other spots. But whatever is left to do won't be too much. I don't think.

I'm still really really happy about My! Agent! (okay, thrilled), who has made a difficult process, well, pretty fun, actually. Now I'm at the point where most of the hard work is done, and the stress associated with rewriting and hoping that I was getting it right and going to get signed is pretty much over too. 

I celebrated signing the contract and finishing the draft by taking a road trip up north to visit my sister and other assorted cousins. I really like it up there. Somehow the Bay Area seems like a better fit for me than image-obsessed Los Angeles. Plus, I like seeing the Chinese street and shop signs all over the city. It makes me feel at home.

Right now, however, I'm happily settled on my couch in Venice CA, cat on my lap, fighting for space with the laptop. Life ain't half-bad...

So, no more excuses. Back to blogging, I hope with more substantive posts than this one.