The best blog from the best author you've never heard of. Assorted thoughts ranging from comic books to politics. Sometimes I even talk about writing.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Round-Up: 49ers Offense, Iran Deal, Greece Bailout, Cecil Context

NFL football is back! More or less. I'm not going to lie...I view the 49ers' new coaching regime and their 2015 prospects with a great deal of skepticism. My biggest worries revolve around the offense; after two seasons where the Niners' Kaepernick-led offense looked to be developing into as big a threat as their defense--a balance often not achieved in the NFL--2014 saw anemic production and seeming regression at skill levels. And this despite bringing in a wider range of weapons. When I hear Baalke talk about prioritizing Vernon Davis, and when I see Kaepernick getting a voice in the huddle, I'm encouraged that despite Coach Tomsula's defensive background, he's not lost focus on fixing the offensive woes. Though it's worrisome to hear that so far Kaepernick's much-touted off-season workouts have translated to hit-and-miss success. (Quick note: this was prepared before Aldon Smith screwed up...again. Pretty sure its time to cut bait there.)

In a lot of ways our debate over Iran seems pointless. Europe is already embracing the end of sanctions and chomping at the bit for new business opportunities. Meanwhile President Obama is stuck making the hard sell at home. I keep envisioning a League of Nations-like scenario where the United States negotiates the deal but then isn't involved in it after the fact (likely not a concern until President Obama's successor is in office since this isn't a treaty); that scenario didn't turn out well for the League of Nations. Speaking of the president's salesmanship, I find myself comparing his rhetoric to the cowboy diplomacy leading up to Iraq--hyperbole that we now rightfully look back on and cringe at. Before it was us to the world: "Do this or it's war." Now it's our president to his citizens: "Support this deal or it's war." To say nothing of how helpful this may or may not be with Congress, it seems the wrong tack to take with an American people who seem tired of both foreign deals and military engagements that come with hazy goal posts. And all of this debate is really not helped by the fact that we already have questions about Iran's compliance with the spirit of the agreement.

Greece. So exciting and of-the-moment when they were on the verge of apocalyptic meltdown. SO uninteresting once the deal was struck. Unfortunately evidence persists that straight up austerity doesn't work as Greece's tax revenues and public spending imploded during the first six months of the year. But never fear because even more belt tightening will solve the country's problems. I continue to believe that the definition of insanity is the EU doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. As for the bailout, it's interesting that the IMF went from reluctantly going along with the new loans while saying the Greek debt was unsustainable to now wanting to see Greece "own the problem" and fully commit to the deal. I start to wonder how much of this posturing is a game of hot potato between Greece's lenders in an attempt to save the most face (Greece having already lost all of theirs). But in the end, what difference does any of the gamesmanship about the bailout matter if the banks and the economic sectors that rely on the banks continue to simply not exist as reliable entities? Bonus points to that last article for a Princess Bride reference.

Cecil the Lion has proved what a fickle mistress social media outrage is; everywhere everyone was sad, then some people were annoyed at the attention, then he was gone. I'm a big context fan, so it's interesting to read beyond the memes and find points of view ranging from condemnations of faux outrage over one animal's death but not the mistreatment of others to personal accounts from Zimbabwe natives of the potential horrors of living near lions to the somewhat justified criticism that Americans care more about a lion in Zimbabwe than all the people. As to the last point, I was reminded many times during the height of Cecil outrage that people can care about more than one thing at once. It's a curious thing, though, that our collective rage as displayed on social media can't seem to. While Cecil filled Facebook and Twitter feeds in our little corner of the western hemisphere, we suddenly had less memes and links and visible outrage for the likes of the Iran deal, the Greece bailout, the death of Sandra Bland, and the shooting of Sam DuBose. I don't know what that says, exactly, but it's an interesting phenomenon.

And finally, Bill Waterson said it best:

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