Archive for May, 2011

Colonel Qaddafi and His Migrant Pawns

May 21, 2011

New York Times OP-ED, Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Killing Seas, by Hans Lucht

According to this article, “armed Qadda loyalists are forcing migrants onto the high seas to protest the NATO airstrikes in support of Libya’s rebels.  African and Asian migrants are the pawns in this brutal geopolitical faceoff.

“As Colonel Quaddafi plays his migration card anew, Europe must  ensure that the Mediterranean does not again become a mass grave for African asylum seekers.”  (On May 6, over 600 asylum seekers and refugees were in a boat that went down at sea.)

Pawns are used in chess and in war.  In chess they cannot move as well as a queen, king or knight.  In real life they are unimportant people who are being used by others.   Apparently, Colonel Quaddafi has a pack of cards, the migration card  being the one he uses to try and stop airstrikes, the refugees the pawns in this faceoff. 

A faceoff is used in hockey  when the referee drops the puck on the ice between two opponents who are facing each other.

Metaphors All Around and Pedestrian Poetry

May 19, 2011

RE: David Brooks article:  “Poetry for Everyday Life”, Wednesday, April 12, 2011

Dear Editor:

This fascinating article by Mr. Brooks celebrates “metaphors all around,” and “pedestrian poetry,” a quote by Mr. Brooks from Steven Pinker of Harvard.   One uses metaphors to make a point, or to quote Mr. Brooks again, “to capture what is really going on, and to “transmit a culture’s distinct way of seeing and being in the world.”

Metaphors are pervasive in American English, particularly sports metaphors, which  may   be particularly difficult for foreigners, because they may not know the derivation of such idioms, not knowing the games.  The use of such metaphors seems to correlate with the season of the sport.  The end of April is draft time for the NFL.  Perhaps the authors of the following pieces in The Times were thinking of football season.

1) Editorials, Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Republicans Maneuver Toward a Shutdown  “ But Speaker John Boehner and his negotiating team have continually moved the end zone.”

2)Tuesday, April 5, 2011, Editorials

Cowardice Blocks the 9/11 Trial  The administration gives in to Congress’s baseless arguments, punting justice offshore.”

 Mr. Brooks states that war metaphors are used frequently in argument.  Here is an article rife with sports and war metaphors published on April, 13, the date of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, the siege of Fort Sumter.

New York Times, Wednesday, April 13, 2011: Business Day

Countering the Siege, by Steven Greenhouse

Washington: Gerald W. McEntee, leader of the largest union of state and local government workers for three decades, has surfed the rising tide of public sector unions to success and power, and has a huge campaign war chest that he has not hesitated to use to advance his union’s interests.  Meanwhile, Mr. McEntee “is doing his utmost to serve as national field marshal and megaphone for the counterattack.”  The biggest challenge, Mr. McEntee apparently is facing is to avoid a wipeout.

But,still combative at Age 76, Mr. McEntee has pushed away talk of retirement and plunged into battle to defend his union… “in  what is largely a decentralized union, Mr. McEntee is doing his utmost to serve as national field marshal, strategist and megaphone for the counterattack.”


Moving Deficit Goal Posts

May 17, 2011

New York Times, Monday, May 16, 2011

Political Memo, by Jackie Calmes:

Idea Rebounds: Automatic Cuts To Curb Deficits

Washington…”The goal of the continuing bipartisan negotiations
is to combine some action-forcing budget process with specific, deep spending cuts, allowing a deal to raise the government’s $14.3 trillion debt lemit and avert a potential financial crisis….”

In the past, politicians have evaded the debt limit including President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush “who avoided meat-ax cuts by fudging (manipulating) the numbers and moving the deficit goal posts.”  

One can move the goal posts by raising the numbers.  The Republicans and Democrats need to do something to avoid a fiscal catastrophe, perhaps a deal with a combination of spending cuts and raising the current debt limit.  This would move the goal posts.

My husband says I should punt trying to figure out why moving the goal posts makes it easier for congress when the goal posts will be set farther from the goal, while moving the deficit level  to a higher number will be harder for our children and grandchildren to address.  You can try!!

Well, punting or kicking the ball to the opposition is a football term, as is moving the goal posts, usually.  

This article has several other sports metaphors:  the fallback position would be to “combine what cuts the congress can agree to with budget procedures to enforce additional future savings”, but that just kicks the can (usually a child’s city game played on the streets) of budget process reforms to the next congress…”

An Arizona Law That Levels the Playing Field

May 16, 2011

New York Times Editorials/Letters, Saturday, March 26, 2011

Arizona’s Boon to Free Speech

“In two consolidated cases on Monday, the Supreme Court will hear argument about an Arizona law that levels the playing field in state elections, by a public financing mechanism called triggered matching funds.  These funds support, expand and promote political speech, carrying out a central purpose of the First Amendment.

Arizona provides a set amount of money in initial public support for a campaign to candidates who opt into its financing system, depending on the type of election.  If such a candidate faces a rival who has opted out, the state will match what the opponent raises in private donations, up to triple the initial amount.  The amount raised in private donations triggers the matching funds.”

The belief or premise of this article is that candidates for public office who use this public funding mechanism will be on a level playing field with richer candidates.  A level playing field is good for most sports as well as other competitions such as politics.

“The Fight for NYSE Euronet: The Gloves Are Off”

May 16, 2011

The Economist, May 7, 2011, Finance and Economics:

“The fight for NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) Euronet”

Bare-knuckle bourses (stock exchanges):

New York

“Spurned, NASDAQ AND ICE turn hostile”

“The gloves are off.  Having twice been rebuffed by NYSE Euronext’s top brass, who dismissed their offer as ‘an empty vessel’, NASDAQ (originally known as National Association of Security Dealers) and the InterContinental Exchange (ICE) have gone hostile in a bid to break-up the target’s agreed merger with Deutshe Borse.  They plan to launch an exchange offer allowing NYSE Euronext’s owners to swap their shares for cash and the bidders’equity.”

Looks like the European sections of two of the primary US stock exchanges are in a boxing match over internet stock offerings, not only in a boxing match with gloves on, but gloves off.  They are getting serious.

Debt-Ceiling Fight: Tilted in the Republican Direction

May 16, 2011

New York Times, Friday May 13, 2011, by David Brooks on the Editorial Page

Let’s Go Caps!

Glimmers of hope in the budget debate:

“Events are being driven by the Republican leaders (in the U.S. Congress to address the debt problem).  The playing field on the debt-ceiling fight is tilted in their direction, so they want to make this fight as consequential as possible.  They want to use this occasion to reshape the fiscal policy for decades.”

Both sports and politics have playing fields.  A team playing on a field that is not level  has an advantage if the tilt is towards the opponent’s goal.  They will score goals faster.

Biology: Metabolics Does An End Run Around Genomics

May 16, 2011

Harvard Magazine, May – June 2011

“FATHOMING METABOLISM:  The Study of Metabolites Does An End Run Around Genomics to Provide Telling Clues To Your Future Health,” by Jonathan Shaw

“A THIMBLE FULL OF YOUR BLOOD.  To Robert Gerszten, that’s like a window on your well-being.  In some cases, it may even let him see into the future of your health.  Gertzen and his colleague Greg Lewis work at the leading edge of an emerging new field–metabolics–that promises powerful insights in to the mechanisms of human heealth and disease.  They study blood metabolites that are small molecules, such as amino acids, lipids (fats), nucleotides, and carbohydrates, involved in metabolism.”

Metabolomics is a field of study that describes the metabolic products of the human genome, which may have, according to the article, a “decisive edge” over the study and use of genomics to analyze current and future health of patients:  Genome encodes have roughly more than a million proteins, each with a specific function.  Metobolics has, “as a curent best guess,” about 3,000 to 6,000 metabolics of interest.

The researchers published an article in Nature Medicine in March of this year describing markers for diabetes “that identify people likely to develop diabees more than a decade before any sign of the disease appears.”  Thus the end run around genome markers:  faster and possibly future diagnosis with less markers to decode.

Please see http://www.sports idioms/football for the definition and other uses for end run.