Odds and Ends

Click and clack on how your automobile can use less gas:

The softer your tires are, the greater the friction between the road and the rubber, and the harder your engine will have to work to move the car. When we check tire pressure on our customers’ cars, we notice that they are often nowhere near the recommended pressure. Here’s why it matters: Under-inflated tires lowers gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every one pound of drop in pressure of all four tires. So, if you’re down by 10 pounds… you’re losing 4 percent in fuel economy.

Youtube video about Furries on Drew Carey. When I watched this first on the show, I laughed really hard. Make sure to read the pointless youtube comments.

Steve Kinzer on how the US orchestrated a coup (actually several) against a democratically elected leader in Iran in 1953. I had heard of this, but I didn’t realize how blatant the US had been about it. Embarrassing.

(CIA Operative) Kermit Roosevelt set about trying to create chaos in Iran. He was able to do that very quickly by a series of means. The first thing he did was, he started bribing members of parliament and leaders of small political parties that were a part of Mossadegh ‘s political coalition. Pretty soon the public started to see the Mossadegh ’s coalition splitting apart and people denouncing him on the floor of parliament. The next thing Roosevelt did was start bribing newspaper editors, owners and columnists and reporters. Within a couple of weeks, he had 80% of the newspapers in Tehran on his payroll and they were grinding out every kind of lie attacking Mossadegh . The next thing Roosevelt did was start bribing religious leaders. Soon, at Friday prayers, the Mullahs were denouncing Mossadegh as an atheist enemy of Islam. Roosevelt also bribed members of police units and low-ranking military officers to be ready with their units on the crucial day. In what I think was really his master stroke, he hired the leaders of a bunch of street gangs in Tehran, and he used them to help create the impression that the rule of law had totally disintegrated in Iran. He actually at one point hired a gang to run through the streets of Tehran, beating up any pedestrian they found, breaking shop windows, firing their guns into mosques, and yelling—“We love Mossadegh and communism.” This would naturally turn any decent citizen against him. He didn’t stop there. He tired a second mob to attack the first mob, to give people the impression that there was no police presence and order had completely disintegrated. So, within just a few weeks, this one agent operating with a large sum of cash and a network of contacts and various elements of society, had taken what was a fairly stable country and thrown it into complete upheaval.

The first coup that Roosevelt organized was scheduled to take place on August 15th of 1953. On that night, an officer, who had been brought into the plot, was supposed to arrive at Prime Minister Mossadegh ‘s home around midnight with an order signed by the shah firing him as prime minister. Now, they knew that Mossadegh would refuse to accept this order, since in Iran, which was then a democracy—only parliament had the right to hire and fire prime ministers. When he resisted, he would be arrested. That was the plan. The C.I.A. had a general already designated to take over the next day as prime minister of Iran. But what happened? Mossadegh got wind of this plan. When the officer arrived at Mossadegh ’s house at midnight, loyal officers stepped out of the shadows. Soon, the officer who was supposed to arrest Mossadegh was himself under arrest. So now, the coup had failed and the Shah, who had been waiting out the results at his resort near the Caspian, immediately fled the country. He went to Baghdad and then on to Rome where he told people that he was going to be looking for work, since he obviously wouldn’t be able to go back to Iran.

Now, what neither he nor anyone else knew was that Kermit Roosevelt despite being ordered by the C.I.A. to come home, decided: I can still do this. I can try again. He was really a true-life James Bond. On his own, he activated his mobs on the 19th of August, just four days later, in a second coup attempt. They rampaged through the streets by the tens of thousands. Many of them, I think, never even really understood they were being paid by the C.I.A. They just knew they had been given a good day’s wage to go out in the street and chant something. Many politicians whipped up the crowds during those days. Roosevelt had been spending $11,000 a week just to bribe members of the Iranian parliament. There were only 90 members. The average annual income in Iran at that time was about $500. So, you can imagine what this sum must have meant. At crucial moments, police and military units joined the crowd. They started storming government buildings. There were gunfights in front of important buildings. The crucial battle, the climactic battle was actually in front of the prime minister’s house. It started at nightfall. There was heavy gunfire, including an artillery duel. About 100 people were killed just in the battle in front of Mossadegh ’s house. Towards the end, members of a military unit, whose leader Roosevelt had bribed, arrived with a column of tanks, and with that, Mossadegh was no longer able to survive. By midnight, on August the 19th of 1953, his house was in flames, and he had fled over the back guard wall to surrender himself a couple of days later. And the general, who was a C.I.A.—who the C.I.A. had selected as the designated savior of Iran was installed as prime minister.

Houston Radio talk show host Leo Gold on lessons he learned about foolish investment opportunities. He’s a great radio commentator with a progressive edge. Other notable essays: On mileage runs (how frequent fliers burn up carbon), trying Zen meditation, how West Virginia is tarnished by coal mining

Here’s his piece on viewing the "beauty" of the I-59 bridges in Houston:

Abby and I sat on one of the new elegant bridges spanning US 59, what was once a country highway, now an Amazon-wide multi-lane ribbon of concrete carrying all manner of gasoline-powered vehicles.  For her, a two year old, it’s mesmerizing to watch the headlights and taillights pass underneath, the hypnotic monotony that is one of America’s largest rush hours.  What I notice, though, is the sound – an ongoing collective roar like a mechanized wild snake.  It’s loud, and the air is not particularly pleasant.  A couple of years ago, the mid-century raised freeway near our house, the kind that was rammed through many inner cities from New York to Chicago to LA, was taken down and depressed below grade, turning what were dingy vagabond underpasses into suspension bridge overpasses.  No question, it’s been a great improvement.  And with landscaping all around the banks of the motorized river, for a moment you might even think it’s enough.

But sitting on the bridge over Freeway 59 is not like sitting on London Bridge over the Thames, or the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno in Florence, or over the Seine in Paris.  In Houston, we have created rivers of automobiles, of sound and pollution, and we live and work among it.  There are no quiet waters sliding by along US 59, people walking along the banks for an evening stroll, the sun setting peacefully over a distant bridge.  No matter how nice the bridges or the landscaping, there’s no hiding what flows past.  The improvements are nice, but in sense they are the proverbial lipstick on the pig.







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