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How Much for A Burger?
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Are either of the following signs that we are approaching an end to a cycle?

1. A hamburger restaurant, "Burger Bar," whose claim to fame is a $60 burger, is opening in San Francisco.

2. Bars in San Francisco are starting to charge to sit-down fees...e.g., Vessel is getting $250 for a table of six, just to sit down. Absurdly, the owners say that it takes the pressure off people to order a $300 bottle of wine (or what have you) that certain bars insist upon. Yes, but at the places that have a "one bottle of Opus One" minimum, you at least have a bottle of Opus One to drink!

Perhaps these are signs that we are at the beginning of a new gold rush in SF, (high-tech and biotech driven) and instead of collapsing, the price for that hamburger will be $120 and the price for that table for six will be $500 by next year.


Must see or at least read: the recent 60 Minutes piece on Kurdistan, which is in Northern Iraq. I knew things were going quite well there, but this is nuts. The economy is booming, commercial air service from Western nations (well, at least Australia) has started, and the governor says that not a single American soldier has been killed there since the war began. Certain folks hold out Kurdistan as a shining example of how the rest of Iraq can be, but sadly, I have to call "BS".

They don't have 14 centuries of hostilities between two religious sects as a backdrop for a bloody civil war in Kurdistan. Instead, they have shopping malls, escalators, and peace. I wish it could be so for Baghdad, but I don't see it.


Right now, I am reading "His Excellency," a very good biography of George Washington. Washington had his flaws like the rest of us, but what an amazing and enigmatic person. In his correspondence, he basically just reported the facts. Other founding fathers, John Adams in particular, told you the facts, but also provided all sorts of analysis and how he felt about it, etc. I heard another Washington biographer on NPR recently who told the following story:

1777, Drake's field, New Jersey. British Army plus Hessians rout a bunch of Washington's soldiers, of whom seven are left alive at the end of the battle. The seven try to surrender, but the Hessians and British brutally torture them, hacking off their fingers while they are still alive, stabbing them with bayonets, and then literally beating their brains out with the butt of a musket.

When Washington heard about this, he gave clear and consistent orders, and continued doing so throughout the war: (my paraphrase here, I don't remember the exact words of the quote, but I am close) "We shall not torture our enemies in retaliation. The nature of our cause requires us to conduct ourselves with honor and dignity."

Take that, Bush, Yee, Cheney, Ashcroft, et. al., with your legally twisted memos that paved the way for the events of Abu Ghraib, and the alleged torture at various facilities around the world. Regardless of how much torture has actually occurred, there is a pervasive perception around the world that the US has resorted to torture. As quoted by Dan Henniger in the WSJ, Ray Donavan asked in 1987, "Which office do I go to get my reputation back?" I feel like all of as US citizens should be asking the same question.

George Washington set the course, and John McCain is resolutely following in his footsteps...McCain speaks so eloquently and with such authority on this subject...he survived his Vietnam POW ordeal, he says, in part because every day, he thought this about his captors: "We are better than you. We do not torture people, and someday, I will go home with my head high and my honor intact."

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