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Monday, November 22, 2004


Random Thoughts

The old joke used to be that you went to the fights and a hockey game broke out. Now it could be baseball, football, and, of course, pro basketball. What can you say about Friday night's fisticuffs that hasn't already been said? Sure pro players are spoiled from high school, trained to believe they are above the rules and the law, that they will be excused for any behavior because of their importance to their teams. Sure fans do not belong in the action or on the court, and should not be throwing, spilling or otherwise projecting things at the players. Sure pro athletes are grossly overpaid and under supervised. The suspensions handed out today by Commissioner Stern are absolutely appropriate and warranted. You have to hit players in the pocket when they act so barbarously. Saddest of all are the comments by teammates and player union officials that the punishments are too harsh. They just don't see it, I guess.

The Pistons' skirts aren't clean either. They play an extremely physical, aggressive, intimidating game and react obnoxiously when opponents retaliate in kind. That leads to intensity of the kind that can get out of control. It used to happen to Pat Riley's Knick teams too, though not to the same extent. Unfortunately, today's players, while great athletes, lack the shooting skills of players of years ago, so defensive intimidation has become the key to winning. This does not bode well for the game.
The news from McDonalds tonight is very sad. Following the sudden death of its CEO earlier this year, new CEO Charlie Bell was recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and now has had to resign because of that illness. One has to infer that his prognosis is guarded. Say what you will about the obesity causing products McDonalds offers, the Company has executed an impressive turnaround, and it is awfully bad luck to have two young CEO's go down this year.
Through pure luck, I happened to buy a few shares of Sirius earlier this year, despite its failing all my value criteria, but with Howard Stern and Mel Karmazin signing on, it's a story stock, seemingly headed higher. Satellite radio is likely to do to broadcast what cable did to broadcast TV. Karmazin, seems to think so. He made a pretty sizable insider purchase this week.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------News item - Iran halts uranium enrichment efforts. Before the Europeans celebrate the success of their latest agreement, it should be pointed out that eventually Iran violated the agreement this one replaces. The whole charade is to avoid UN sanctions, which the US was pressing for. Here we go again. If you think back to the run - up to the Iraq war, US pressure (in the form of a military build up and demand for compliance with UN resolutions) led suddenly to Iraq's allowing the inspectors back in. But it is clear that Iraq intended to restart its weapons program as soon as the US withdrew and the inspectors left. Iraq miscalculated, since their strategy made war inevitable - the US couldn't keep its mobilization status indefinitely.

Will Iran also miscalculate? They have played the appeasing Europeans like a drum. Hopefully, they won't underestimate our resolve the way the Iraqi's did.
News item - World Bank Finds Palestinians Live in Poverty! You have to get up early to slip one by these guys! I wonder what tipped them off. It's not exactly a coincidence that so many of the poorest peoples in the world are led by the wealthiest thieves. And somehow Arafat got to pass all those billions to his drone widow! What a patriot he was!

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