Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Are they being Anti-Semitic, too?

Look like Ariel Sharon's Likud party is losing support in Israel

The crisis was precipitated by Sharon's rejection of Labor Party leader Binyamin Ben-Eliezer's demands to cut $145 million in funds for Jewish settlements in the $57 billion 2003 state budget. Compromise proposals failed and Ben-Eliezer resigned from his post as defense minister, followed by the rest of Labor's Cabinet ministers...."We must fight terror, but this is the day when we have to present a diplomatic horizon," Ben-Eliezer said, referring to peace talks with the Palestinians. "The prime minister is unable to present a diplomatic horizon."

Full story here.

You know, honestly, I've grown very cynical about the whole Israeli/Palestinian "dispute". I'm beginning to feel as though we should just all get together, hold a giant worldwide tribal council meeting and vote both sides off the island.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

No, I really love bloggers....

Here's a new one I've just come across...D-Squared.

Anyway, they had something brilliant to say about the Israel/Palestine conflict on Monday.

Basically, I regard the Palestinian Authority, or whatever it's called, as the moral equivalent of the IRA. In other words:

I think they have a genuine grievance and a genuine right to have their claims taken seriously

I think that their grievance, and their case, is by no means as strong as their more vocal supporters think it is

I think that the population that they claim to represent is being made the victim of unacceptable governmental repression and are the chief victims of an unconscionable political situation

I think that their chosen method of warfare is cowardly and disgusting, and not to be tolerated or apologised for

I deeply doubt that they really represent the people they claim to represent

They are, on balance, the villains of the piece, but the cause that they support in their villainous manner is at bottom, just.

I agree. It is possible to both think the Palestinian people are getting screwed and also to think that encoraging teenagers to participate in suicide bombing is horrible.

I think that what this brings home to me is that a) what a bloody shame it is that there does not appear to be any Palestinian equivalent of John Hume and b) that when you extend this analogy to judge the Israeli forces by the standards of the RUC and the B-Specials during the worst periods of the Troubles, they still appear to have behaved bloody badly.

Good stuff, go read.

Monday, October 28, 2002

I love bloggers...

Blogger Aziz Poonawalla (who also uses the word "idiotarian"...whose side am I on, anyway?) "Fisks" (there I go again) Osama bin Laden.

Good stuff.
What is it good for?

Everybody read this, then try and tell me why we should invade Iraq.

Via Red Letter Day, who I read even though he uses the word "idiotarian".
Ignorance is Strength

I know it's easy to overuse the 1984 metaphor, but sometimes you just can't help it. We're reaching serious "Memory Hole" status.

Go read this Tom Tomorrow post and you'll understand. Here's a good example.

But the most recent irritant was Mr. Butler's quick withdrawal from Iraq on Wednesday of all his inspectors and those of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iraqi nuclear programs, without Security Council permission. Mr. Butler acted after a telephone call from Peter Burleigh, the American representative to the United Nations, and a discussion with Secretary General Kofi Annan, who had also spoken to Mr. Burleigh.

--New York Times, 12/18/98

America's goal should be to ensure that Iraq is disarmed of all unconventional weapons.... To thwart this goal, Baghdad expelled United Nations arms inspectors four years ago.

--New York Times editorial, 8/3/02

But don't worry, citizens of Oceana. Just keep up the doublethink and practice your NewSpeak.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Ahh, Young Love...

I ran across Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About at work (found via Ted Barlow, who is unfortunately on hiatus), and I laughed so hard that I attracted stares from surrounding cubicles.

There are many arguments we have over arguments. 'Who started argument x', for example, is a old favourite that has not had its vigour dimmed by age nor its edge blunted through use. Another dependable companion is, 'I'm not arguing, I'm just talking - you're arguing,' along with its more stage-struck (in the sense that it relishes an audience - parties, visiting relatives, Parent's Evenings at school, in shops, etc.) sibling, 'Right, so we're going to get into this argument here are we?'

Kind of reminds me of the time my husband and I got into a shouting match over who was cooler---Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. (Which, BTW, was nothing compared to the "Great Vowel Shift" argument, of which I was not a participant.) Ain't we sweet?
Sunday Link-O-Rama

I have collected several day's worth of stories to comment on.

First up, there is this disturbing poll from

Amid broad public unfamiliarity with Islam, doubts about the religion's tenets have grown. More than a third of Americans now don't think it teaches respect for other beliefs, and nearly a quarter believe Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims.

If this were Christianity instead of Islam we were talking about, Ann Coulter's head would explode.


Others echo my "Oh Goodie, Muslim sniper" reaction.

Said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations: "It's like a ball in your stomach. 'Oh God, here we go again.' Every time we seem to make some advancements, it's like we take one step forward and two steps back."

Next, Al Gore, who I didn't know was a cultural commentator, discusses the very Clockwork Orange-sounding News Plus.

News has become routine and cheap," Gore said. "It's becoming more standardized and homogenized." ..."[The networks] are having to sell a new kind of hybrid product - news plus. News plus entertainment, news plus attitude, news plus opinion," Gore said.

I'm beginning to wish I had taken his class.


Not to be outdone, Arianna Huffington of Salon has a piece about a Anti-Oil campaign to mirror the new, completely retarted Anti-Drug campaign.

Imagine a soccer mom in a Ford Excursion (11 mpg city, 15 mpg highway) saying, "I'm building a nuclear bomb for Saddam Hussein." Or a mob of solo drivers toodling down the freeway at 75 mph shouting in unison, "We're buying weapons that will kill American soldiers, Marines and sailors! Yahoo!"

I think that's excellent.

*UPDATE* Apparently, there's talk of actually producing this ad, which I think is even more excellent.

Last but not least, Tapped marks an important distinction.

Bush's lies are Big Lies. They are important lies. The difference between his lies and Gore's lies is the difference between saying you had a hot dog for lunch on Tuesday when you actually had one on Wednesday, and saying a tax cut is aimed at the middle class when in actuality 40 percent of it goes to the top one percent of Americans.

I've always felt that Democrats are skwered by the "liberal media" for their small lies (I didn't get oral sex, and movie plots were about me, and the internet) while Republican big lies are quickly forgotten or glossed over (I don't remember if I traded arms for hostages, Iraq has nuclear weapons, No New Taxes). But what do I know, I'm not a pundit.

That's all for now, folks.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Oh Great

That was my response upon hearing the sniper suspect arrested was a Muslim...Oh goodie, can't wait to hear what Ann Coulter has to say about that. But then I heard he was involved in the Nation of Islam. Let me just say, officially and for the record, that the Nation of Islam is to actual Islam like Snake Handling is to Christianity. These are the people who killed Malcolm X when he stopped hating white people, fer Christ's sake.

More on this later.

And, just for the record, I still can't wait to hear what Ann Coulter has to say about it.

*UPDATE* MaxSpeak has an intelligent take on the situation.

Note to the clueless: just because I change my name to Joe Islam doesn't mean I'm part of a worldwide terrorist conspiracy

Go read.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

I always suspected as much...

You are Fozzie!
Wokka Wokka! You love to make lame jokes. Your sense of humor might be a bit off, but you're a great friend and can always be counted on.

Via Body and Soul...thanks Jeanne

I am adding several more blogs to my links page. I used to ask first, but people stopped responding. So, If you see your blog linked and don't want it to be, just email me and I'll remove without further ado.

I've just been promoted (anyone who knows what I do for a living will pity me immediately) and have spent the last few days training for my new position, so have had little time for bloggera.

Just a few links to interesting stories I've come across recently:

This is a Salon piece about a youth group in Israel working to give teenagers a voice.

Several young PYALARA members actually say the group has helped stop them from becoming suicide bombers. "I want to tell you honestly that I thought about [becoming a suicide bomber]," says Lana Kamleh, 16, of Jerusalem, who has worked for the Youth Times, PYALARA's newspaper that is distributed throughout Gaza and the West Bank, and appeared on Palestine TV on PYALARA news programs.

If the only outlet for rage a seriously pissed-off teenager has is a group of psychos with an explosive belt in their hands, what do you think will happen? Israel should be funding programs like these. I have yet to hear any Palestinian teenager quoted as saying "You know, demolishing my home, keeping me inside 24 hours a day, and shooting at me when I go outside really kept me from wanting to become a suicide bomber." But maybe that's just the liberal-controlled media at work.

It makes no sense to say you're fighing terrorism when you have more terrorists when you're done than you had when you started.

On a decidedly lighter note, No More Mister Nice Blog makes an excellent point about the "increase of violence in today's music". You should hear some of those Opera guys talk about smackin their ho's!

Also, Ha'aretz writes about protests to Israeli plans to demolish a Palestinian low-income housing project.

The project, which was launched about 10 years ago, was meant to provide low-income housing for young Greek Orthodox families in Beit Sahour, a predominantly Christian town of 13,000, according to Suzan Sahori, a spokeswoman for Beit Sahour.

Sahori said a new Israeli road meant to speed settlers past Palestinian towns is being built behind the apartment complex.

That's all for now. I know I haven't written anything about North Korea yet, or "The Sniper". But I might later. I dunno.

Friday, October 18, 2002

War for Oil

Here ya go, Christopher.

Upon doing some research (read, Google searching) I found this article that Tom Tomorrow had actually linked to a while back.

While debate intensifies about the Bush administration's policy, oil analysts and Iraqi exile leaders believe a new, pro-Western government -- assuming it were to replace Saddam Hussein's regime -- would prompt U.S. and multinational petroleum giants to rush into Iraq, dramatically increasing the output of a nation whose oil reserves are second only to that of Saudi Arabia.


American firms are barred by U.S. law from making contracts with Iraq and have had to watch as the rival firms of other nations sign contracts with the Iraqi dictator to pump oil after U.N. sanctions are lifted. Assuming Hussein is overthrown and U.S. and U.N. sanctions are lifted, Goldstein said, "you'll see the U.S. companies will be very, very interested."


"Given Iraq's dire financial situation, any Iraqi government after Saddam Hussein will need massive amounts of money and will try to produce as much as it can," said (Muhammad-Ali) Zainy, now a senior energy analyst at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London.

So, with a pro-U.S. puppet government installed, we would be in the position to set up all sorts of sweet deals. However,

For domestic oil producers, however, such a collapse could be unwelcome.

"I don't think it's really in the interest of the United States to have OPEC disintegrate and have a crash in oil prices," Zainy said. "The United States is a large (oil) producer; there are interest groups, oil corporations and independent oil producers that want a reasonable price level."

So, either the war isn't really over oil, or the Bush administration is so incompetent they can't even get their evil schemes right. I'm not sure which sounds more plausible to me.
If this were an American, it would be all over the news.

A Canadian/Syrian citizen stopping for a layover in the United States has apparently been deported to Syria.

"Mr. (Maher) Arar, 32, was deported to Syria on Oct. 7 or Oct. 8 from Kennedy Airport in New York during a stopover on his way home to Montreal, officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs revealed yesterday. The Canadian government was not contacted about Mr. Arar's case until after he had been deported, on Oct. 10."

Now, it strikes me that if this were an American citizen, and he was deported to, say, Cuba instead of Syria, everyone would be outraged.

Full store here, at Talk Left.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Manifest Duh-stiny

MONTREAL — Should Canada become the 51st American state? Four out of 10 Americans answered "sure" in a recent poll conducted by Leger Marketing of Montreal.

I don't think any more comment is warranted.

Read here.
I just liked this.

Tina the Troubled Teen

Tomorrow, I will talk about war for oil.

For instance, Christopher (intrepid reader, woo-hoo!) asks,

Why could we possibly fight this war over oil interests?

I just do not understand this in even the technical sense. I mean, Iraq will not or cannot sell us oil, fine. But other countries in the region do and these countries do not want us to move against Iraq. So...if we did attack Iraq...would we not run the possibility that we would have even fewer people to trade oil with us? I do not really know the ins and outs of the situation. I understand we are an attractive oil trading partner for many of the middle eastern countries but we are certainly not the only one...

Good question. But I am sleepy now and will try to find an answer tomorrow.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Donde esta el bin Laden?

International events of the past week have made it clear that while the Bush administration winds up for the tar-and-feathering of an oily old nemesis, the al-Qaida danger we did a really half-assed job of taking care of is catching up with us.

"We are sure al Qaeda is here. The Bali bomb blasts are related to al Qaeda, with the cooperation of local terrorists," Indonesian Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil told CNN Monday.

President Bush agreed that al Qaeda probably was behind this and other recent attacks.

So, all that time we were in Afghanistan, keeping the Red Cross from doing its work, bombing wedding parties, and possibly aiding and abetting war crimes we didn't accomplish anything?? Al-Qaida is still a threat? Then what was the point of bombing the crap out of that already bombed-out country?

I am brought back to a line from Al Gore's now famous proto-campaign speech a few weeks back.

The fact that we don't know where they are should not cause us to focus instead on some other enemy whose location may be easier to identify.

Not that I'm saying we should continue bombing the crap out of Afghanistan, far from it. But if the whole point of going to war (and that was a war, let's not play the Operation blahblahblah game) is to restore order by destroying those who put order at risk, and we have yet to do that, then we haven't done anything besides use up alot of explosives and kill a bunch of people.

And now we're ready to give the people of Iraq the same treatment.

Wasting Time at Work, starring Vanessa!

In lieu of anything substantial, I present this link-fest of time-wasting mastery.

How Fascist are you? via Amptoons (who found it at Green Fairy)

Ratings, even more fun and time-wasting than Snopes!

Celebrity Mug Shots, proving that even I get off on the misery of the rich and famous. (My favorite is Bill Gates, arrested on the exact date of Brian's birthday for the crime of wearing that hideous shirt)

I promise, promise to post something of meaning very very soon.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Go, Redskins!

Loyal reader Chrisopher brings this to my attention, regarding my post about "selective sensitivity"

The name 'Redskins' has actually spawned an intense ten year court case as to its offensive nature. Having finally come to an apparent end, the name was found to be offensive and therefore, although it may be used, it may not enjoy trademark protection. So, essentially, you are free to print up and sell all the 'Redskins' paraphenilia you like.

Go, team!
Blogger's Remorse

Okay, so I haven't posted in awhile. It's just that after sitting at a computer at work all day has made the thought of coming home and sitting in front of one make me want to puke. But I'll get over it, I promise.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

You know, it was that movie with Kevin Costner

I know I'm a few days behind on this one, but we got a new desk and the computer was disconnected for awhile.

But, I had a hearty chuckle upon hearing that our noble leader has compared the action he is about to take in Iraq to the Cuban Missle Crisis.

Hel-lo!?! Anybody else remeber the Cuban Missle Crisis? You know, when the president, faced with actual "weapons of mass destruction" (as opposed to weapons that may or may not exist in a particular amount of time) chose not to go to war for the good of the nation???

Hesiod does a much better job of talking about this that me. Go read him.
Fun with Search Engines

Sitemeter says someone found this site because they did a search for "teen drag queen". I love the internet.

*UPDATE* Someone found this site searching for "play spit with computer". I think the best thing that ever happened to me is that I found out at one point in time someone was trying to find out how to play spit with their computer. I don't know what that is, and I don't think I want to know.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Here we go...

Okay kids, here goes.

Dear Sen. Pete Domenici, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Rep. Heather A. Wilson, Rep. Joe Skeen and Rep. Thomas Udall

I have pondered long and hard about what I should say in this letter. I thought of a lot of pithy things to say. But really, it comes down to this: Please don't.

Please don't let an administration that the majority of Americans didn't vote for drag our nation into a war that so many do not support.

Please don't let politics-as-usual cost the lives of anyone in any country. Please don't let oil interests cost the lives of anyone in any country.

Please don't let anything we do now destabilize our relations with an entire region to the point that the children of the people we send into battle will be affected.

Please don't abandon the frail government we have established in Afghanistan to warlords and al-Qaida remnants we have yet to eliminate.

Please don't expose our soldiers to possible chemical weapons.

Please don't put Americans at danger by inflaming the hatred of terrorists.

Please don't jeopardize our relationship with a planet-full of allies.

I could go on and on, but I won't. I know you're probably getting hundreds of letters and are probably just sorting them into piles of "yes" or "no". This is a passionate "no".

War is not something wage "just in case". There is too much at risk


Vanessa Gatsch

As a warm-up for tomorrow's (well, as of half an hour ago, today's) anti-war blogburst, I preset this Boondocks cartoon from a few days ago that pretty much sums up my feelings.

Although I find the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pop-up ad very irritating.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Here it is again...

Atrios brings up another example today of something I had noted a few days ago.

I can't wait to hear what (christian white American) Ann Coulter has to say about a Muslim (who she automatically hates) trying to kill a gay socialist (who she automatically hates).
War: The RPG

Wagner James Au of Salon offers a surprisingly fawning article on the Army's use of an online computer game called America's Army as a recruitment tool.

The game has become so popular with U.S. troops and Pentagon brass, says Lt. Colonel Wardynski, director of the Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis and the man who initially conceived it, that there's even talk of shipping computers to Afghanistan, so soldiers can play it from there.

Am I the only one who finds this a little disturbing? I play these games. I have friends who play these games. I've seen people who claim to be adults giggle with glee when they take out an enemy city. I've done the giggling myself. Maybe I'm just idealizing, but I don't think these are the emotions I want soldiers feeling when they fight a "just war" in my name.

The makers of America's Army claim to have changed the focus of this game from the typical "divide and conquer" to something more like restoring order to chaos. However, they tellingly admit that those "new" rules only apply in certain types of gameplay.

So in "America's Army," the server keeps tabs on your fealty to the military's strict rules of engagement (ROE) -- crossing them too often gets you removed from the game, thrown into a virtual depiction of Fort Leavenworth prison. (Multiplayer games are usually anarchic, free-fire zones.)

I'm willing to bet (and anyone please correct me if I'm wrong) that most of the people are playing those "anarchic, free-fire" multi-player games. Also, the article quotes journalist Mark Bowden, who wrote the 1999 book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (that Ridley Scott made that tripey movie after) as denouncing the "war games".

"[Games] have a certain amount of potential value in making someone interested in history or in the military or how the military operates," says Bowden. "It has that kind of educational value." But he's skeptical their utility may extend beyond that. "In terms of preparing someone for the actual experience of combat, particularly infantry soldiers, I just regard that as really unlikely. Because I think the essential element in real combat is terror. And I don't believe you can re-create actual terror in a video game. It's a game; you can turn it off whenever you want to."

Even Capt. Jason Amerine, an "Operation Enduring Freedom" vet who loves the game, admits its limitations as something representative of real warfare.

"When I was in a shoot-out with the Taliban, it occurred to me that I had to stick my head up to shoot at them and I might very well catch a bullet between my eyes ... and I was aware of it, but I knew what I had to do. That's not something you can re-create in a computer game, the fact that your life is in danger. And also, when you actually have to see the results of what you did, when you go over and you see the enemies that've fallen by your hand, that's something else you can't re-create."

I don't really have a problem with the idea of this game. (Far from it, I enjoy these kinds of games a lot.) But for the Army to think it can use computer games to entice people to join the army strikes me as a bit short-sited. People (at least people I know) whom play violent video games do so for fun.

They do so for escape. Violent games (whether it's the violent army warfare in the games this article mentioned or the violent gang warfare in the much-maligned Grand Theft Auto 3) are fun because they let you do things you would feel horrible doing in real life. Would the defenders of America's Army also stand up for Grand Theft? My hunch is no.

Violence is violence, killing is killing. This is the same sort argument I got into so many times about the (also tripey) film Saving Private Ryan. The same people who praised the "realistic portrayal of warfare" (too bad the realistic portrayal of acting wasn't paid as close attention to) would decry the "cartoon violence" of The Matrix.

Actually, I change my mind. I think America's Army should be more violent. I think it should be as loaded with gore as Ryan's opening beach invasion. But then the game might not serve the Army as well. James Au says:

I challenge [game designer] Wardynski on the game's dearth of on-screen gore. (Hits are rendered with a prim red dot, as if the weapons were shooting out magic markers.) Doesn't that sanitize the gruesome aftermath of an M-16 hit? Gore would disqualify the game from getting the intended Teen rating from the ratings board, he responds -- and besides, "We respect our audience [enough] to know that if we don't have that in our game, they're not dumb and they'll still know that [gore is] part of combat."

Uh-huh. Ask the same kid how much he "knows" after he's seen that gore for real.
My duck's on fire! Somebody Get me an elephant!

I thought I'd return from my consumptive hiatus with a laugh.

Some UK based scientists have just completed a yearlong study on international humor. Their website detail which jokes were funniest in which countries. My favorite has to be Belgium's top joke.

Why do ducks have webbed feet?
To stamp out fires.
Why do elephants have flat feet?
To stamp out burning ducks.

Also, the joke from England.

Two weasels are sitting on a bar stool. One starts to insult the other one. He screams, "I slept with your mother!" The bar gets quiet as everyone listens to see what the other weasel will do. The first again yells, "I SLEPT WITH YOUR MOTHER!" The other says, "Go home dad you’re drunk."

I did find one thing telling, though. The joke that scored best with Americans was a sexist dig at someone's old hag wife. The top Canadian joke was making fun of Americans. I like the Canadian joke better.

See the full info here.

Friday, October 04, 2002

Can I sign up for this?

I am still fighting off whatever form of Hanta Virus or Consuption or whatever it is I have. I'm too doped-up on Nyquil to care about possible war with Iraq.

But, I just had to say something about this guy.

I totally want blue skin! Talk about body modification. I wonder if it gets bluer when he tans...

I promise to post something meaningful tomorrow.

Link via This Modern World, by the way.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Death-Rattles be Damned!

A friend of mine brought this to my attention, and I had to comment on it.

From a article:

Indonesia is the world's most-populous Muslim nation but the vast majority of its more than 180 million citizens practice a moderate, tolerant form of the religion.

Now, the fact that this even has to be said to the American public shows where we've found ourselves as a nation. Let us,for a moment, ignore the freak-o shouters on the extreme right and extreme left shouting charges of anti-semitism and anti-muslimism (did I just invent a word?) at each other, while practicing exactly what they accuse the other side of.

This is the very mainstream CNN. Imagine if the sentence read "Israel" instead of "Indonesia" or "Jewish" instead of "Muslim" and think of how pissed-off everybody would rightly be.

I'm just going to say this once.

Of course most of Indonesia's Muslims practice a moderate, tolerant form of Islam. That's because real Islam (and not the fanatical fundementalism practiced by the governements of many Middle East nations) is a moderate, tolerant religion, just like Judiasm and Christianity, the two religions Islam builds upon.

I've often found we practice a kind of selective sensitivity. For instance, a football team called the "New York Negros" or the "San Francisco Slant-Eyes" would have everyone up in arms, yet the "Washington Redskins" remain without too much complaint. This is just another example.

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to lay down on the couch and make my husband make me soup and tea.

Expect light blogging for a few days. I seem to have cotracted TB, or the West Nile Virus, or maybe even anthrax. Whichever one it is, I'm too fascinated by the rattly noise it makes when I breathe to concentrate on blogging.