Random: CIA, U.S. Growth, E3, Masters, M:i:III

Goss and Hayden

Porter Goss unexpectedly resigned amidst allegations that he was involved in some bizarro regular poker club involving bribes and prostitutes and Satan and Zarqawi and video games and everything evil at, no shit, the Watergate. Are they already calling it Pokergate? The FBI wants to know more.

Who knows what the real story is here but I’m just happy that when the US and CIA look so hopelessly corrupt and confused while there’s a major ideological war being fought, that at least Zarqawi was taped wearing New Balance shoes and not knowing how to perform immediate action in order to get an M249 SAW to fire on automatic.

How come the people changing the world are, well, so INCOMPETENT?

In yet another example of the Devil You Know vs. the Devil You Don’t Know, Goss’s replacement is rumored to be General Hayden. Yes, that’s the same Michael Hayden who told a journalist that the 4th Amendment does NOT include the phrase “probable cause”. I’m not sure what’s worse: an NSA-type (i.e. we listen to everything you say or type) in charge of the CIA (i.e. we get your brothers to bring you to us and then we drag you off to Europe for a little water torture or to Abu G for some humiliation by MP’s), or the fact that the poster boy for illicit wiretapping on Americans is going to be in charge of a clandestine paramilitary organization.

But I dunno, people say Hayden’s a nice guy and he has friends in the White House. So maybe it’ll all work out in the end!!

I just figured they’d give the job to Shepard Smith or someone else at FOXNews.

Electronic Entertainment Expo

E3 2006 is here. Sony and Nintendo will be getting the buzz this year. If you’ll remember from last year, my good man MonkeyPope nailed last year’s coverage on his blog’s E3 updates. Microsoft had the head start with its 360 but it’s really so far languished from lack of distinguishable, original games and high prices. Nintendo DS has been the story overall this year and the Revolution (now the Wii), MonkeyPope’s baby, is looking hotter than ever.

Everyone wants to know what Nintendo is going to do. They have the buzz and the momentum. Sony’s PS3 looks better than the 360, but at what price both to us and to Sony?

MonkeyPope knows his shit — will we see some coverage this year despite his current deployment in Iraq?

I own 600 shares of Nintendo from $18.35 and $18.90 and am hoping that last week’s new 52-week highs on the stock extend even further with the E3 hype, and then going into the end of the year as the Wii hits production and release. I really do think Nintendo (NTDOY or NTDOY.pk) will triple. Plus the sweet dividend!

Stock Market

Despite the U.S. stock market hitting highs, it’s doing it slowly. I just don’t see that growth in the U.S. is going to be very impressive, and along with that, stock market growth. I still think the big money is going to be made in international stocks and funds. Japan really looks like it has its shit together now, realizing that its culture and identity is important again, shedding a bit of the consumerist and burned-out employee mindset and restructuring its corporate system.

Right now it’s sort of tricky to find exactly the right funds to invest in internationally. To me, that’s a sign that it’s early. It won’t start getting really frothy until there’s tons of new international funds and ETFs and derivatives of derivatives of derivatives for any sector you could imagine in any little shithole around the world.

I have a lot of money sitting in a money market in my Thrift Savings Plan (G is for what I have, I is for international, C is for U.S. market; note how international returns doubled domestic returns) but I don’t want to put it all into internationals. I just have a feeling that there’ll be a 1987-like panic caused by whatever CNBC wants to blame it on that will provide a good buy opp.

Mission:Impossible:III:Show:Xenu:the:Money

Obviously Tom Cruise is nutty and needs to be stopped before he and Kat(i)e put on white Nikes and black uniforms and try to catch comets but I watched Mission Impossible 3 and it was actually pretty cool. A lot better than the second one, and pretty entertaining. Surprising! The only complaint I have was that Ethan Hunt’s wife was noticeably ugly with her Michael Jackson nose and alien face. And that she could reload a pistol in a few seconds after being told how to do it minutes prior, a few minutes after being told that Ethan’s a secret agent man, and before she has to electrocute Ethan. Riiight.

The best line in the film is when Laurence Fishburne grills Ethan Hunt about why he sent a new agent into the field. Hunt says, “I think it’s unacceptable to judge what she did blah blah bl” and Fishburne interrupts and says, “I think it’s unacceptable that chocolate makes me fat BUT I’VE EATEN MY SHARE.” This deserves to be a ytmnd.com entry.

I’m glad to see that our Mother Nature Gaia wind mills made an appearance, smiting down an evil Cobra helicopter. Also I’m proud that whoever the military consultant earning megabucks in the film had the sense to coach Tom Cruise and Keri Russell to use team movement commands to coordinate mag changes and movements. You know you want that job.

Me

Today I’m going to take the practice GRE from a book I bought to see where I stand with little studying. I brushed up on my math a bit because you pretty much need to. I could stand to skim through the vocabulary sections to study. I’m a little worried about the GRE because I need to really nail it to make up for poor undergrad grades. I don’t make any excuses for my undergrad record: I was studying web design and daytrading more while I was in school. But the GRE will be one of the most recent reflections of what I’ve done besides references from my Army sergeants.

I just hit my four-year Army mark which means I have one year left on my contract. YAY! They joke around the Army that those who are the most certain about getting out are the ones who re-enlist, but there’s nothing they could offer me to re-enlist. It’s not that I don’t love it. Quite the contrary. When I get out I will write about why I enjoy it so much. But not now. The last time I wrote about how much I enjoy the Army, I got in trouble (and I wasn’t being sarcastic in what I said!).

I just never had plans to re-enlist. I wanted to learn more, not make it a career.

I want to go to Carleton in Ottawa to get a masters in international affairs. But I will probably apply to Georgetown (in D.C.) because it’s THE place to go and to the Fletcher School at Tufts (in Boston). I’ve looked at the course lists for these programs, and they blow my mind. It’s shit I’m really interested in. Check it out: Globalization, Development, and Humanitarianism: Ethics and Personal Transformation. The Politics and Culture of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. International Relations: Theory and Practice. Understanding and Managing International NGOs. International Political Economy of Development. Developing Countries and the Global Politics of Sustainable Development. The New Digital Media: Technologies and Related Policy Issues. Clean Energy Technologies and Policy Issues. Econometrics. Awesome awesome stuff.

So there’s that. Plus a personal project I’m working on which hopefully will become huge.

Last week I shredded paper and sat around at work watching FOXNews since that’s the only news channel we get at work. (gee, wonder why) I read that their median audience is over the age of 60. Fear-mongering pays off. I spend my days now like I did in college: thinking about things other than my primary task. That’s never a good thing. But my personal projects keep me happy and motivated. And there’s Julie, warmth upon my face like the recent emergent sun of spring.

My buddies Ryan and Brendan graduated from the Warrior Leadership Course, the school you take in order to become a full-fledged sergeant. I have yet to go. Ryan was the distinguished honor graduate of the whole class. Which was awesome because we had a paratrooper maroon beret leading the legs of the 101st Air Assault Division. Oops! Brendan made the Commandant’s List. So I was really happy to watch their graduation ceremony. Very proud of them!

Yesterday I went over to a friend’s and played in a poker tournament. We had 15 people playing on two tables I think, $20 buy-in. There were re-buys up until the final table. I started on the non-aggressive table. The other one had tons of re-buys. I just wanted to play to hang out with Ryan — I haven’t played poker since the last time I went there, before we deployed!

I got really good cards. Pocket cowboys. AK. Pocket 9’s. I slow-played them in order to get more money. It didn’t come back to bite me in the ass. But I didn’t put anyone out, either. So I doubled up on my original amount early, which let me bleed some blinds for a long time.

Some people called me lucky but they didn’t say I had good cards… I didn’t understand that. Statistically I was never behind in any big hand that I won…no miracle cards. I made some good reads and folded against superior hands, including a lay down of my top pair of K’s against a flop bet of all-in. I guessed my opponent must have made a set or, more likely, two pair on the flop since people will often go all-in on the flop with two pair in order to protect against river-fishing.

I put a guy out with my pair of 7’s when he quickly bet all-in on the flop with a short stack. I figured him for betting out pre-flop with high cards, then having to try to steal the pot on the flop. He turned over AK and didn’t hit them.

The biggest hand was a small raise pre-flop with my pocket 10’s that was raised and called by two others. I re-raised all-in and they both called. They both turned over KQ (leaving only 2 K’s and Q’s in the deck) and didn’t hit.

When we got to the final two, my opponent, who’s a pretty tight player, got tired of us folding and pretty much just started calling or raising all-in every time.

I ended up winning first place with a payout of $210. Hurray! And the best part is, I have no desire to play again! I know I got lucky. I’ll take my money and run.

Coming up soon: an airborne jump next week, preparation for a combat school I’m helping by means of instruction, Julie’s birthday, and Mother’s Day.

Also there’s a good rumor that the MacBook is going to be released on Tuesday. Slimmer size, dual-core Intel processor, white and black colors. For about $1,400 I would estimate. I think I’m going to buy one. I need a laptop and I want my first Mac.

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