Friday, October 28, 2011

Libya: the End of the Beginning

It seems that al Qaeda is moving into Libya. Their flag is flying in Benghazi. With no American boots on the ground, they should have training camps set up by the end of the year.

Part One of the Libyan War is over. Part Two: Attack of the Drones should be coming to theaters next spring!

When I tentatively gave my support to the Libyan War, I did not realize ignoring Congress, shredding the War Powers Act and turning North Africa into an al Qaeda safe haven would be part of the bargain.

I guess this is all part of the rise of smart power?

Survivor: South Pacific, Ep. 6

Hurricane Ozzy was all hype. It came with a lot of warnings, but by the time it hit shore it wasn't even a tropical storm. After a night of heavy rain, it had turned to patchy clouds by late afternoon.
The damage is difficult to assess. Ozzy's original alliance with Keith makes perfect sense. A physically dominant player usually needs to be alligned with another physical player in order to go deep. No one has won every individual immunity. The danger is getting whacked as soon as you lose one. Being aligned with another physical player offers some protection. He's still in the game and can go on an immunity run and retaliate for you. This is how Tom Westman won Palau. Tom took 5 of 7 immunity challenges, but his allaince with Ian protected him when he was vulnerable. And, he explicitly (and memorably) threatened wavering allies (Katie) with this argument at key junctures.
Anyway, it's clear from Ozzy and Keith's conversation that they are thinking along the same lines (they need each other to dominate immunity and go deep). There are two issues:
1. Why does Keith get to keep his ally (Whitney) while Ozzy has already given up two (Semhar, and now Elyse)?
2. Redemption Island does offer the physically competitive player some hope to get back. In fact, it might offer even more protection for Ozzy than Keith can.
So, despite Ozzy's newfound admiration for his tribemates, there are reasons to be suspicious that his alliance with Keith will hold. However, Ozzy wears his heart on his sleeve. He probably sincere about his admiration for his tribe. I'm just giving reasons why it might waiver later.
I understand why Ozzy apologized to his tribe - it was in his interests for the time being. However, I don't understand why Jim was disappointed and demanding of an apology. Ozzy didn't cross any lines. He doesn't owe Jim anything. Jim's arrogance knows no bounds. 
Brandon is no Hantz. By now, Russell would have both Coach's and Ozzy's immunity idol. The comparisons to his uncle are superficial.
Again, a pair of decent players have disappointed me. Sophie and Rick "discovered" that Christine is angry with them. What the heck did they expect? As for Christine's one-finger salute: classless. But, what more should I expect?
Last email, I said Coach sounds like Voltaire compared to the others. It happened again. I thought Coach made superior arguments as compared to Albert. He convinced me voting Mikayala was the right play, and, more importantly, he convinced Rick. That was one of the more suspenseful tribal councils in a long time, and ended with the an "I love you, man" exchange between Coach and Brandon. I was out of my chair laughing. That is great TV. This is the best season since Heroes vs. Villains and Coach (who I'm no fan of) is a big reason why!
Allow me to tick off a few Survivor facts:
- Jenna was 21 when she won Amazon - and she had to win the last two immunities to do it.
- Amber and Parvati were already 25 when they won, and for both, it was their second appearance on the show (so, they had each failed on the show once before).
- Natalie was 26, and sitting next to the notorious Russell and a hearthrob surgeon when she won.
- The rest of the female winners were well above 25. 
- Ergo, in the history of Survivor, one female aged 18-24 has won. That's 1 out of 22 winners.
Should we expect only 1 out of 22 winners to be females aged 18-24? On the average season are 1 out of 22 contestants females aged 18-24? I'd say the number of female contestants aged 18-24 is much higher than 1 in 22. Why are they so disproportionately represented in the winner's circle?
Two last data points: 
- Mikayala is 22. 
- Edna said to the camera while holding her vote for Mikayala (I'm paraphrasing): "I hope being on the show has helped your future modeling career." 
Can Edna's comment provide any clues to these questionsr? 
For the record, Sophie could be another exception to this rule. But, she doesn't fit the same profile that most of the 18-24 year olds on this show have.      
Unitl next episode.

Survivor: South Pacific, Ep. 5

A couple of re-caps ago I said Ozzy is honest to a fault. Well, it finally blew up in his face. His admission that Coach should target his righthand man, Albert, was a major gaffe, and Jim (who I'm no fan of) was right to jump all over it. However, I think they made a major mistake in targeting Elyse. They are trying to have it both ways - they want to reduce Ozzy's power, but keep him around for fishing and the challenges. This rarely works. If you're going to make a move like that, you're better off just getting rid of Ozzy. Of course, it's probably too soon to get rid of Ozzy - so, they created this convoluted compromise. I can see why Jim wanted to act now, rather than waiting (he might not have the votes later), but.... this could be a major error. Jim ate his cake but still wants to have it.
The real puzzle is Keith and Whitney's (mostly Whitney's) decision to vote for Dawn. Do they really think relying on a technicality will maintain Ozzy's affection when their vote still sent Elyse home? Good luck selling that to anyone above the age of six. Maybe they were concerned Ozzy might play the idol, but they didn't give that as their reason. It's clear they want to differentiate themselves from the others. However, it's always been the case that the closer you are to the one you betray, the more wrath you will incur. In short, Ozzy will likely have more of a vendetta against Keith and Whitney than he will against Cochran and Dawn. I thought Whitney and Keith were strong players among this group, but voting for Dawn was weasly and pathetic. In fact, it might tick off Ozzy even more than if they had voted for Elyse straight out. And, it hurts them in the eyes of the others. It's a bad move.  
The most exciting element of all this will be Ozzy's behavior in the coming episodes. The preview showed him declaring himself a free agent. I'm thrilled at the prospect that he might go rogue. Ozzy has shown his vengeful side before. In his first season (Cook Islands) he threw a challenge to boot a non-contributung player (Billy). Later that season, he stopped sharing food with members outside his alliance while uttering the infamous phrase: 'there's no such thing as a feee lunch.' The dude can be cold.
I hope he goes all the way with this free agent talk. I've always wanted to see a player set up his own camp away from his tribemates. I'm not sure Ozzy will go that far, but I want to see him eating the food he catches and refusing to share it with the others. The idol gives him one vote, and he can definitely go on a run while on Redemption Is (I can't think of a challenge where Christine would be favored), Later on, he might get embraced by a Coach in need of votes post-merge. The existence of Redemption Island means this guy can come back to haunt his tribemates, especially if he goes to Redemption and comes back still in possession of the idol. I don't know what the rules are regarding that, but it could be a major wrinkle. 
Stacey thinks Coach is a joke. Stacey will only call Coach Benjamin. Stacey told all to the other tribe. Yawn, yawn, yawn. She will not be missed.
If you need any reminding of the caliber of the players in this season, consider this: Albert had two clues to the hidden immunity, and still couldn't find it. He had to get help from Coach. Am I alone in thinking that's pathetic? And, Albert's one of the strongest players in the game! This is a motley crew. It might sound crazy, but, right now, Coach and Ozzy should be considered the favorites. Only a couple of the newbies seen to know what they are doing. The rest make Coach sound like Voltaire.   
Does anyone think Ozzy dislocated his jaw? His jaw is sore. It's not dislocated. If it was dislocated he wouldn't be able to move it and he would be in agonizing pain. Maybe that's why Ozzy said he "sort of" dislocated it - which is similar to "sort of" being pregnant.

Survivor: South Pacific, Ep. 4

Last episode, the Survivors got their bathing suits. This week, Brandon will be getting a straightjacket.
I thought there was a chance that Coach's alliance was going to dump Brandon. He's simply too unreliable and they had the numbers to do it. Though it didn't happen, one has a feeling it's coming soon. However, Brandon acquitted himself well in the challenge, and might be a bit of an athlete. He could go on a run, a la Matt, once he's sent to Redemption Island. It seems like his breakdowns are caused by having other people around. A stint of isolation on Redemption Is. might be the ideal environment for him - a place where he could thrive. He has no business being around people.
As for the challenge, it's always been one of my favorites, and this version didn't disappoint. What fascinates me is that they continue to make strategic blunders with the wieght distribution. Near the end, they kept putting weight on the remaining guys, who were about to buckle, when they should have been wearing down the girls. The last set of weights which knocked out Jim and Brandon were gratuitous - they were about to collapse anyhow. The tribe who sent that weight to either Dawn or Stacey would have won - when you consider how close it was at the end. In short, you should rarely be putting weights on the same person back-to-back, but I wasn't there so maybe I'm missing something.
Has Stacey ever watched Survivor? The whole end of the episode she was so ticked off, as if she didn't understand voting people out was the point of the game. She has no alliance with anyone, yet she seemed infuriated by the idea that she might be voted off. What did she expect - she could sit on a beach for 39 days, at the end of which she'd get a million dollar check? Stacey, you have to play the game a little bit. At the end, Stacey told Christine that Coach was the mastermind, and Christine exclaimed: "I knew it!" Boy, are these two putting the puzzle pieces together. Nothing remains hidden from them. They are a couple of real-life Nancy Drews.
I've never seen two people bumped off so easily.
I get the feeling Jim's scheming with Cochran will go nowhere. I wish I was half as smart as Jim thinks he is. Dawn is the player to watch among the outsiders on that tribe.

Survivor: South Pacific, Ep. 2 & 3

Christine was sent to Redemption Island in episode 2. Let's briefly re-cap her resume, thus far:

1. Before the game had started, she announced to all the contestants that she plans to target Coach and Ozzy.
2. Makes an alliance with a tribemate whose #1 skill is her ability to scowl and use the phrase "Boom!".
3. Searches for immunity idol when no one else is, drawing unwanted attention to herself.
4. Forms no plan going into tribal council. 
5. When approached with a plan, she rejects it.
6. When confronted at tribal council, Stacey and her provide a defense that is painfully legalistic.
7. Fails to vote the same way as her only ally, Stacey. 
8. Gets voted out by an alliance led by Coach - meaning she was outwited by Coach!
9. In her closing statements she actually said she didn't know what happened, which is shockingly stupid.
10. After being sent to Redemption Island she defends her announcement that Coach is a temporary player by arguing that everyone was thinking it. If that's the case why didn't she approach the others to vote Coach out? Why, instead, did she get voted out?
11. Later, she explains her ejection by saying: "Coach had it out for me from the beginning." Really? Why do you think that is Christine?

Semhar looked like a zombie going into the duel, so Christine's victory brings her little credit. The last two episodes were dominated by the revelation that Brandon is a Hantz, but I was more intrigued by the revelation that Christine might be the worst Survivor player ever.

Papa Bear's ouster wasn't that shocking save for Jim saying that he should have been the first to go. Why did Jim target Semhar, then? I hate it when players say stuff like that. Jim seems like the type of guy who would be happier voting two people out per episode. I'm not a fan of his.

I want to know how Brandon passed the show's psych evaluation. I'm sure the show gives one for liability reasons, and I'd love to see Brandon's. I've watched people lose it out there because of the elements, however, I think Brandon's problems go beyond the conditions of the game. I think he's immature and unstable, and don't find any of his storylines entertaining. He's done the impossible. He's made Coach the voice of reason.

I've always liked Ozzy, but he's honest to a fault (and he wears his heart on his sleeve), I think he'll have a difficult time winning, but, I'm rooting for him to do well.

After Keith informed Whitney about Ozzy's hidden immunity idol, he laid in the hammock as Whitney gently rocked him. I think there's a metaphor there somewhere - as if Whitney were thinking: "Thanks for telling me about the idol, Keith. Now I'm going to rock you and provide you with some comfort and attention and lull you to sleep while I plan on how to use this info to win the game.."

I still think only a handful of people can win. Whitney and Keith are two of them.