Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Reading

The Iran Nuclear Deal by the Numbers — Graham Allison at The Atlantic explains it all for you.

To assess the impact of the accord that the United States and its partners reached with Iran on Thursday, it is useful to start with five bottom lines. To what questions are 15,000, 12,000, 10, 5, and 0 the answers?

  • 15,000 is the number of pounds of low-enriched uranium that would be neutralized.
  • 12,000 is the number of centrifuges that would be decommissioned.
  • 10 is the number of months by which Iran’s “breakout” timeline to a bomb would be extended.
  • 5 is the number of bombs’ worth of low-enriched uranium that would be neutralized.
  • 0 is the number of bombs’ worth of plutonium that Iran would be able to produce.

Of course, the framework accord still has to be translated into a more specific, binding agreement. And even more important, assuming that is done, the agreement has to be implemented. But if this happens, a state that currently has seven bombs’ worth of enriched uranium and 19,000 centrifuges, and is six weeks away from breaking out to produce the core of a bomb, will have been pushed back materially on each of these fronts. Moreover, the route to a bomb using plutonium rather than uranium, which Iran has pursued for over a decade at its Arak facility, will have been abandoned.

[…]

By eliminating 12,000 centrifuges and five bombs’ worth of low-enriched uranium, the accord extends the breakout timeline for Iran to produce the highly enriched uranium core of a bomb to one year. By requiring the reconfiguration of Iran’s planned plutonium-producing reactor at Arak, the accord essentially closes this door to a bomb. And by agreeing to establish a new mechanism that will allow unprecedented access for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to suspicious nuclear sites anywhere in Iran, the accord makes it much more difficult for Iran to cheat.

Between this framework accord and a final agreement lie many difficult negotiations. On literally hundreds of specific items, there are countless devils in the details. From my personal analysis of the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, many of these details matter more than the announced constraints on Iran’s enrichment activity at its declared facilities. Most important for me will be requirements for transparency and verification that maximize the likelihood that if Iran attempts to develop nuclear weapons at a covert facility, intelligence communities in the United States and other nations will discover that fact before Iran reaches its goals.

In sum, the Obama administration and its indefatigable secretary of state deserve a hearty round of applause for what has been achieved at this point. What remains to be done will be even more difficult, and in the longer run more significant, in stopping Iran short of a nuclear bomb.

Pence Agonisties — Charlie Pierce on the loneliness of the governor of Indiana.

Suddenly, Mike Pence, the bag of hammers who is for the moment governor of Indiana, wakes on a lovely day in Indianapolis and discovers that he’s pretty much the sole occupant of the Bigot Archipelago.

Georgia’s version of this law likely has breathed its last. And, for a while, it looked like Arkansas was going to follow Indiana into the gorge of eternal peril. But then the CEO of Walmart announced that these religious liberty restoratives were inconsistent with Walmart’s social conscience. (Apparently, he owns an electron microscope.) Then, in what I am certain is purely coincidental, Governor Asa Hutchinson not only came out in opposition to the Arkansas law, he threw it back into the legislature whence it had come to his desk.

To ensure that the state is “a place of tolerance,” Mr. Hutchinson said, he was considering using an executive order that would seek to balance the “competing constitutional obligations” if the legislature declined to make changes to the bill. “What is important from an Arkansas standpoint is one, we get the right balance,” he said, “and secondly, we make sure that we communicate we’re not going to be a state that fails to recognize the diversity of our workplace, our economy and our future.”

Translation from the original WeaselSpeak: Good god, Pence is an idiot. Bring yo’ bidness to Arkansas!

And, for those of you keeping score at home, the following is a partial list of the institutions that are more progressive and that make more sense on this issue than Mike Pence does.

The NCAA.

Dan Quayle’s Old Family Newspaper

NASCAR

Walmart

The state of Arkansas

But, to be entirely fair, Pence still does have some allies out there.

In the last twenty-four hours, much of the mainstream media has shown itself perfectly willing to serve as agents of Satan (or should I use Moloch to make you feel better?). Most of the news anchors, reporters, and opinion writers of the press are perfectly fine forcing you to violate your conscience as long as they do not have to. They have suddenly discovered Jesus dined with sinners. They just ignore that he said “go and sin no more.” There is no evidence Jesus baked a cake to celebrate sin, but the media wants you to think he did. Just pay no attention to the guy in the Bible who spoke the most about hell fire. Oh wait, that would be the very same Jesus.

…and the greatest of these is charity.

When even Walmart’s figured that out, it’s time to wonder where your soul went.

The New Ball Game — Jay Martel at The New Yorker has some suggestions on how to speed up the game.

Once a hitter enters the batter’s box, he will be required to keep at least one foot in the box until the end of his at-bat. The foot cannot be prosthetic; it must be attached by musculature to the hitter’s body. Hitters may leave the box under certain circumstances, including a wild pitch, a play on the bases, or catching on fire. In the event of an at-bat that lasts for more than three hours, the player can be brought water and snacks. If a hitter dies of natural causes, he may be removed, headfirst.

Three timers will be placed in all Major League stadiums. The first will count down the number of seconds that have elapsed between pitches; a second will track the minutes between innings; and a third will tally the hours of game-watching that the fans will never get back as they march inexorably toward death.

Relief pitchers will be encouraged to warm up at home.

Hitters may adjust their athletic cups only as they approach the batter’s box. Once in the box, they can touch themselves only to swat at an insect or to punctuate a sentence such as “You know who likes pizza? This guy!” Pitchers will be allowed to pick up the rosin bag only fifteen times between batters. They may, however, absolutely go to town on the bills of their caps, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Managers can no longer rush onto the field to challenge a call. Instead, robots with painted frowning faces loosely based on the managers’ actual faces will roll onto the field to confront umpires with angry whirring noises. These robots will all be programmed to return to the dugout within two minutes.

A batter who hits ten foul balls in a single at-bat is allowed to take first base. The team in the field will then have five minutes to chase him down and try to get first base back from him. If it fails, the batter’s team wins the game.

Only the Chipmunks’ version of “We Will Rock You” will be permitted at Major League stadiums. The organ music leading up to the crowd shouting “Charge!” will be scaled down from six notes to four. The lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” will now be “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks/At a reasonable hour I’d like to get back.” There are no other lyrics.

The instant-replay system will be streamlined as follows: the manager will signal to the umpire that the play is being challenged. (A written form is no longer necessary.) The umpire will then relay the request to the replay booth by firing a track pistol three times into the air. The replay official will then rewind the game tape using state-of-the-art beta technology. Assuming that there are no snags or threading issues, the official will promptly watch the play and decide whether to uphold the call or change it. After a document is prepared verifying the official decision and this document is signed, sealed, and sent via pneumatic tubing to the office of the commissioner, a semaphore signal will be given to the umpire, who will make the appropriate call. If this process takes longer than thirty-five minutes, the challenge is automatically rescinded.

If a game lasts more than twelve innings, sabres will be supplied to twenty fans from each side. The team with the most surviving members after the ensuing melee wins. All feet must be cleared from the batter’s box before the next game.

The Tigers’ home opener is Tuesday.

 Doonesbury — Is the caller there?

One bark on “Sunday Reading

  1. I’m looking forward to watching relief pitchers who haven’t run a lap since high school sprinting to the mound like Usain Bolt and collapsing into the catcher’s arms.

    I also thought the long games increased the sale of semi-precious beer and hotdogs and high fashion jerseys and ballcaps. Billionaire owners won’t like cutting back on their private jet fleets.

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