Thursday, 12 July 2012

Nothing nada rien

Apologies for being boring. Not much too report, except that for the past two days I have been craving Laura Secord buttercream chocolates constantly. Who knows why? I mean, as chocolates go, they're OK - a bit too sweet and cloying. But they're all I can think of. I will probably have to make a Laura Secord pit stop on my way home tonight, to make the craving go away. Weird.

Thursday, 8 December 2011


esterday I met a chef during a ride with the Rotations Cycle Club in Southampton, Long Island. Like me, he's new to the sport. Like me, he's been riding a lot and has become fitter over the past few months. In fact, he tells me he's shed about 35 pounds and has just completed his first triathlon.

Then he asks a "medical question."

He asks if I have an explanation for why his libido has diminshed since be began his training. The devil in his eye, he admits that this change might be for the better. He admits that his prior libido may have been a little too much sometimes.

During the ride, I cannot think of a medical explanation for this phenomenon. Hormones? The effect of the bike seat? We discuss our training and our goals. He shares a recipe.

We finish our ride and part ways. But I can't help but think about his question. Why, indeed, did his sexual appetite change? Why has my appetite for food and alcohol changed? Why do I find myself craving more healthy foods? Why do I want to retire and rise early, even on the weekends?

Perhaps our bodies are smarter than we suspect. As we demand more of them in our athletic pursuits, they demand more of us. Our appetites change to reflect what we need. And when we are in tune with what we need, we can be a stronger and more efficient machine. The trick is to listen to this visceral advice.

With food, this makes perfect sense. Donuts and cheeseburgers do not a triathlete make. But sex? One would think that better health would improve or increase libido. In the case of my new friend, it may be that his prior libido was unhealthy. In the same way his training has caused him to lose excess weight, it has freed him from the weight of unhealthy sexual cravings. No longer does he feel the need to binge on empty calories. His body has decided to eschew the donuts and cheeseburgers of junk food sex and to instead opt for better, healthier choices. Now it's up to him to decide whether he wants to listen.

I'm learning a lot from cycling. Not just technical stuff like when I need to lube my chain and fill my tires. I'm learning about patience and pacing. About saving some energy for the end of the ride. About not needing to be first or to win, even though it's fun do perform well. The gift of cycling (or yoga, for that matter) is in the doing. The psychic and physical benefits surround that.


AIDS and Terrorism in Africa: A Theory

I’m not sure what to make of this theory…while I think it merits a stronger looks, this may be another case of somehow blaming the US for the AIDS crisis in Africa. I’ve seen theories that US covert action in Iran in the 50’s set the framework for today’s Islamo-fascist (I pointedly disagree), so an AIDS conspiracy theory tying US action (or lack of action) to terror would not surprise me. Anyway this short piece is worth the read.

“In order to protect our country’s future, we must do a far better job of addressing the root causes of terrorism. All of the signs exist that AIDS may create conditions for terrorism to thrive in Africa during the next decade. Yet we are doing precious little to address the symptoms – political, economic, and social - underlying these potential threats. A massive pre-emptive strike against the greatest cause of hopelessness and misery on the African continent will help protect America from the next generation of terrorists in the decade to come.”

Dostum almost dead and the Two Levels of the Taliban

This is all very interesting. Like Karzai, Dostum worked closely with SF during the initial phases of OEF. Though I often questioned his character and loyalties, he and his men did fight admirably. This whole event shows how difficult reform is in Afghanistan, and how Karzi is really doing an amazing job holding together an alliance of warlords from varying ethnic groups despite desperate attempts by the remnants of the Taliban.

“Afghan Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostam survived an assassination attempt on January 20 in a mosque while at Eid al-Adha prayers in Shibirghan, Northern Afghanistan. Posing as a beggar, the suicide bomber, who had strapped explosives to his body, blew himself up as he was held back from Dostum by two of the strongman's bodyguards.
The assassination attempt could be intended to create a political vacuum in northern Afghanistan and re-fragment the Afghan system. In this context the Taliban connection may still hold water.

An interesting study last September in the Asia Times detailed the existence of "two levels" of Taliban: the active Afghan and Arab fighters numbering a few thousand, and the Taliban-in-waiting in Pakistan's Balochistan border province, where vigorous madrasa expansion underpins ideologically a swelling resource of future "cannon fodder" for a renewed”

A Reminder

A colleague sent me a reminder today about this:

“In his meeting with Tenet, Berger focused most, however, on the question of what was to be done with Bin Ladin if he were actually captured. He worried that the hard evidence against Bin Ladin was still skimpy and that there was a danger of snatching him and bringing him to the United States only to see him acquitted,” the report says, citing a May 1, 1998, Central Intelligence Agency memo summarizing the weekly meeting between Messrs. Berger and Tenet.

In June of 1999, another plan for action against Mr. bin Laden was on the table. The potential target was a Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan known as Tarnak Farms. The commission report released yesterday cites Mr. Berger’s “handwritten notes on the meeting paper” referring to “the presence of 7 to 11 families in the Tarnak Farms facility, which could mean 60-65 casualties.”According to the Berger notes, “if he responds, we’re blamed.”

On December 4, 1999, the National Security Council’s counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, sent Mr. Berger a memo suggesting a strike in the last week of 1999 against Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Reports the commission: “In the margin next to Clarke’s suggestion to attack Al Qaeda facilities in the week before January 1, 2000, Berger wrote, ‘no.’ ”

In August of 2000, Mr. Berger was presented with another possible plan for attacking Mr. bin Laden.This time, the plan would be based on aerial surveillance from a “Predator” drone. Reports the commission: “In the memo’s margin,Berger wrote that before considering action, ‘I will want more than verified location: we will need, at least, data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place.’ ”

In other words, according to the commission report, Mr. Berger was presented with plans to take action against the threat of Al Qaeda four separate times — Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999, and August 2000. Each time, Mr. Berger was an obstacle to action. Had he been a little less reluctant to act, a little more open to taking pre-emptive action, maybe the 2,973 killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks would be alive today.”

This article continues with an examination of giving free rein to a special prosecutor against the President, and the potential ramifications…