Saturday, December 22, 2001

The hell? Looks like some freakazoid on a Paris-to-Miami flight was prevented from blowing up the plane with plastic explosives in his shoes. (I came across this by way of Ken Layne's blog.) The plane belonged to -- what else -- American Airlines. Here's another report. A quote from it:
Passengers and flight attendants tackled the man, and two doctors who were among the passengers sedated him, Kinton said. The man was then strapped to a chair with belts.

So far no one's saying anything about this guy except that he had a British passport and came on the flight with no check-in luggage. Sounds like a suicidal terrorist to me. And a pretty stupid one if he thought that any set of passengers post-911 were going to let him set his shoes on fire without doing something about it.

Here's a story from the Washington post on Saudi gender apartheid. I wonder what the American Muslim guest professor who visited my college class (see my post below) would have to say to this article. He would probably refute it: much of his comments to us were on how wonderful his wife and daughter found life in Saudi Arabia, how well-protected women are there (as opposed to the constant fear of rape and abuse that women are supposedly subject to in horrible secular Western countries), etc., etc. The McDonalds situation, with the men getting the luxuriously appointed part of the restaurant and the women getting the cruddy, neglected part, is the truth that puts the lie to "we care for our women better than those lascivious Westerners do" attitude.

Friday, December 21, 2001

Saudis Assail 'Media Blitz' Against Them in the West -- from the New York Times (link requires registration, which is stupid, though free).

A quote:
"[T]he defense minister, Prince Sultan, and his son, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who is ambassador to Washington, spoke in unusually harsh terms in denouncing articles and editorials that have suggested that the kingdom has been complicit in terrorism."

Ooh. I'm so scawed.Gosh, guys, how does it feel to have your foreign policy bite you in the ass?

There. I finally figured out how to get my archives to show up. Has it really almost been two months?

But then it occurred to me that I have been online since about 1995 -- My first internet service was Global Network Navigator. I had just "upgraded" a used old computer I had bought to a 436DX chipset with (wow!) 8 whole MB of RAM, and running Windows for Workgroups. I had an external 14400 baud modem with a broken button (I would turn it on with a pencil) to connect to the internet with.

Here's another website dedicated to the defunct GNN. Some of the links appear to be broken. Gee, I wonder why...

More people have emailed me about my blog! I feel so loved... Check out Christopher Johnson's new blog.

New project: template changes again. (Cue scary movie music.) The pale green background has garnered a complaint. I guess it doesn't look so great on all monitors... I will utilise Bloggers nice template change thingie to pick something more restful. I hope I don't lose my links and posts...

I forgot about this too: Rupaul has a fa-abulous weblog. No, really. With links to interesting sites such as this. (As seen on Mind Over What Matters.

Thursday, December 20, 2001

i forgot about this: It may be "good to hate the French," but it's better to hate the Belgians.

Oh no -- according to Jeff Jarvis, the excellent Tim Blair is chained to the dreaded Netscape 4.7 beastie. Break free! Break Free! Download Mozilla. I haven't had any problems with major bugs yet. (Of course, having said this, I'll probably have problems now.)

From Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox News: the University of South Florida, in Tampa, is firing Professor Sami al-Arian. Apparently al-Arian is suspected of raising money for terrorist organizations.

A quote from university faculty union president Roy Weatherford ("PH.D.", as the transcript sternly reminds us):

"Well, the university's position is that the continued presence of Dr. al-Arian makes it impossible for the university to perform its mission efficiently and with safety and security for the faculty and the students and the staff."

Mr. Weatherford is not happy about the firing: "In my opinion, what they should have done is to let him teach his classes from home by distance education. That would have removed the security threat from the university--" And O'Reilly's kind of pissed, because apparently he is getting blamed for getting the guy fired, because of this interview. It seems that, thanks to Professor al-Arian, one Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, a current leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, got a teaching job at USF. The professor professes to have been shocked, yes shocked, at the revelation of his friend's political beliefs.

Here's a quote from a little speech al-Arian gave in Cleveland in 1988: "Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel. Revolution. Revolution until victory. Rolling to Jerusalem." Oh, but he reassures us that "Death to Israel" doesn't mean death to any human beings, not at all. Of course, that all depends on what al-Arian and his Islamic jihad buddies define as "human."

Some articles of interest: what's wrong with egalitarianism. (From Richard Bennett's blog.) Tolkien, Hitler, and Nordic heroism. (I don't know who J.P. Zmirak is, but he quotes a familiar passage from Tolkien's letters, see below. An example of great minds thinking alike? Or was I scooped?)

By the way - I am sorry to see that Damian Penny didn't care for the film; but then, he hadn't read the book, and didn't realize that the three Ring books weren't each self-contained novels, but parts of a trilogy. I'm not going to come down on poor Damian -- he has enough on his plate, what with checking out the left-wing sites for those of us with sensitive digestive systems. The incompleteness of the first film (and second, out next year) probably will frustrate and ultimately drive away all but diehards such as myself. I mean, I know the ending, so there's no suspense; all I have to do is go home and read the books. The only suspense I have concerning the film is: will I hate it? Will the changes and omissions fill me with fury? Will I cringe at Arwen's updated sop-to-feminists role? I probably won't get to see the film until after Christmas, so I'll just have to read other people's reviews.

Oriana Fallaci eats America-haters and terrorist-apologists for breakfast. (Link courtesy of Instapundit.)

Note to self: do not post while exhausted. Typos galore in last night's post, I am so humiliated. ;P

Anyway, in the ClichĂ©s That Won't Die department: only women can bring about world peace. A Dr. Carolyn L. Bennett, "a public affairs columnist and professor of journalism at Rowan University based in Pitman, N.J," offers up the usual wars-are-caused-by-men/women-are-inherently-peaceful claptrap in this call for, among other things, more Nobel Peace Prizes to be handed out to women. Because, you see, women have won less than a tenth of the prizes handed out in the last hundred years. Well, boo-hoo; I wouldn't take the Nobel -- which has also been proferred to such sterling persons as peace-lovin' (of the grave, anyway) Yasser Arafat and tall-tale-teller Rigoberta MenchĂș (no mention of her fabrications of her life on the Nobel site, by the way) -- if it was offered to me on a silver platter.

Now I realize that countries where women are treated like dirt and/or stupid children are generally in sucky shape politically and economically. But spouting woozy nonsense about women's supposed inherently peace-making nature is a totally ineffectual way to go about improving matters in countries such as Afghanistan et al. The assumption that putting more women in charge will automatically calm those cranky men down and make them (the men) see the errors of their violent ways makes about as much sense as the "non-violent protest" that some peaceniks said was the proper response to September 11th.

I used to try to buy the "women are more peaceful and nurturing" line, until I realized it was just another scam to transform women into a doormat. The feminist movement's co-opting of this old male chauvinist canard is, I think, one of the main reasons so many women are saying "I'm not a feminist."

Another fellow blogger mentions me -- check out Inappropriate, Moira Breen's excellent blog. And I have no preferences -- white rice, yellow rice, it's all good. I loves me some rice. And black beans. (Tampa Cuban food is different from Miami Cuban food, though -- no one believes me. But once I ordered a "Cuban sandwich" in Tampa, and freaked when it was served to me with lettuce and mayonnaise. Sacrilege!)

As for Saddam's ideas of interior decorating, I think I have some vague memory of seeing glimpses, on CNN or something, but the medication has helped suppress the memories... I know all about Bad Public Sculpture, though. I come from Miami, Bad Public Sculture central, at least in the Southeast US. Our parks are littered with something supposing to be "modern art," which I and my friends called "helicopter wreck art," no doubt in rememberance of the many drug drop-offs gone bad in our area. And then the city, upon completion of a new bridge across the optimistically named "Miami River," erected a statue perporting to be a commemoration of the original inhabitants of the area, the Timucuan Indians Native American tribe. The statue was that of a man, whose lineaments seem to have been fashioned after Johnny Weismuller's Tarzan, wearing only a loincloth and a topknot, with a nearly naked female clutching an infant crouching at his feet. A) The Timucuans died out a long time ago, so there were no descendants to appreciate the gesture; B) the local newspaper referred to the sculpted family as "a brave and his squaw and papoose." This was only a few years ago, no earlier than 1990, I swear.

Notice I didn't say a word about the looming-he-man-crouching-frail-female stance of the statue.

Hmmm. Dr. Ruth just got Conan to say "penis" on his show. It's way past my bedtime.

The Saudi Princess is being sued by her Indonesian servant (or ex-servant, I should think) -- link courtesy of Ken Layne. I haven't much more to say about this, since I am exhausted and have a long day tomorrow. But this little episode has brought to mind something that happened during the semester I just finished at UCF. (Coincidentally, Ms. al-Saud was also attending the university, "to learn English" -- which is something I thought was taken care of, if you are a foreign immigrant, at the community college level, but silly me, there I am living in the past. And no, I don't think they meant she was an English major.) Anyway, I was taking this course towards my Humanities degree (I'll explain later -- really): Contemporary Multicultural Studies. It was a veritable Seinfeld of a course: "about nothing." We looked at a lot of slides, and talked about "cultural differences" in a way that made it feel as if the past thirty years had never happened (what Civil Rights Act?). There were lots of slides of what used to be called "folk art" -- some good, some really crappy. We were introduced to the dreaded concept of "deconstruction" as well as other postmodern mistakes.

After September 11th, one of the students gave a breathless paean to one of the other professors at the university. He had "really opened our eyes" to all sorts of things about American foreign policy and other "root causes" of the terrorist attacks. So he was invited to the class as a guest speaker. He turned out to be an American, a Black Muslim who had lived in Saudi Arabia for many years, and apparently practiced Islam in the Saudi manner (that is to say, in the strict, Wahhabist manner). He gave us a glowing report of his time in the country, some chat about what it is like to live as the Saudis do, some Cultural Differences palaver (his Arab friends at first refused to believe he was American because they were sure there were no blacks in America; Saudi kids think American women like to be kissed all the time by anyone because that is what they see in movies, etc. -- this was about twenty or more years ago, however). One thing he said I remember in connection with this Princess saga: on how most Saudi parents are afraid to send their sons and daughters to this country because they see "all the drug abuse and crime" and are afraid that their children will be drawn into such a life. I don't want to go off into we-must-understand psychobabbling, but I think that someone such as Ms. Princess seems to be -- a spoiled rich girl used to being able to abuse those under her with equanimity, from a country where notions of equality, fairness, and the rule of law, are, to say the least, differently understood than we in the West understand them -- would hardly have any qualms about breaking what she no doubt considered "minor" laws. She probably figured that, since the stuff she is said to have stolen and sold -- furniture that belonged to someone else -- was in her house (the place where she was living, anyway), then she had a perfect right to do as she pleased with it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

All sorts of lovely people have emailed me about my posts on typewriters, record players et al. Thanks to you all! And as promised, more links have been added to my list, such as Jay Zilbers Mind Over What Matters. Go read his site. Great stuff!

Other links to check out: Amy Welborn's blog; Opnionated Bastard; Geeks With Guns! You know, I've been thinking that it might be a good idea to buy a gun, and I am a geek...

In further news, Ken Layne has all sorts of links to Princess news from Yahoo and elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

The Saudi princess is freed on bond. (Also, it was a sleeveless top, not a tanktop, that she was wearing - see the picture in the article on the right.)

Further notes: before I go buying any frivolous and useless purchases for myself, I am going to use my first available paycheck to make a donation to the blog of the excellent Mr. Glenn Reynolds, since he was nice enough to mention my feeble little blog twice on his site, and made a contribution towards getting the ad off my site! And then I am going to see if anyone else's blogs need their ads removed... it's Christmas, after all.

Oh no! Stuart Adamson, lead singer of Big Country, was found dead in a Honolulu hotel, an apparent suicide.

Well, that kills the Eighties for me.

More in the Things I Want department:

I want the LInea 98S manual typewriter. Olivetti is the last company, I think, that still manufactures manual typewriters. As to why I, a geek who somehow has come into possession of three computers, even though my paycheck can barely cover my rent these days, should want a manual typewriter, the reason is simple: because. Anyway, it's all part of my Plan to confound the world by being totally inconsistent. And there are days when the pounding of typewriter keys is somehow... therapeutic. And there always is the chance that civilization may fall, so there won't be any more juice to power the bytemonster. (Or else I will simply have forgotten to pay the electric bill on a day when a research paper is due...)

Additional Princess comments (see below); despite the photo in the online article, our Saudi jailbird was shown on the tv news in a tanktop with her hair flowing free. No confining veil and robe for her while in the US!

Here in Central Florida, a niece of the king of Saudi Arabia was arrested for beating her Indonesian servant and pushing her down a flight of stairs. Nice. I happened to catch this on one of the local news channels this morning. And the princess is in hot water with INS also, so no diplomatic immunity.

The kicker from my point of view? She's a student at the University of Central Florida, where I'm going. Hooray.

A final note: I moved from Miami to the Orlando area a couple of years ago. One of the main things I miss about Miami, besides all the 24-hour Cuban coffee windows (I've heard rumors they have Cuban cafes like Miami's somewhere up here, but so far all the Cuban restaurants are upscale-type places), are the many Jewish delis. Einstein Bros. bagel places just don't fill the bill -- I need a place like Raffles, where the waitresses are all sixty-plus years old, the decor has not changed since the 60's, there are bowls of (free) dill pickles on every table, and the strawberry tarts are to die for -- and fresh every day. (They also have scary things on their menu like the "Chicken Fat Sandwich.") I am sure they have them here, but the Jewish community is rather small -- according to one article I read in the Sentinel (the local paper), the Jewish community here numbers about 60,000, and there are about the same number of Arabs and other Midddle-Eastern types. There are some very good Middle-Eastern restaurants up here, and very reasonably priced.

Monday, December 17, 2001

Geez, finally I figure this thing out. Maybe I could have kept the old template. Hmm. Oh well, I like green.

Had a lovely time to myself today (Monday is my day off). I went to our local ritzy shopping area, to walk around and stare at all the nice things I can't afford. Yet. Since I live in Eeville Capitalist Amerikkka, I fully expect to be able to afford the things I want someday. First I gotta go through this self-imposed torture of getting my degree.

Speaking of the oppressive capitalist system, Restoration Hardware was selling a portable record player (the kind that plays vinyl records, look it up, kiddies), kind of like the ones people used to take to parties (back when music at parties was not played at eardrum-exploding level, and people actually occasionally had conversations) -- though built with twenty-first century technology, of course; no one expects to put up with the tinny little sounds that used to come out of portable record players. They had a huge pile of them. Today I went there to gloat over them (of course I'm buying one as soon as I get the dough together, what did you think?) and there weren't any to be seen. So I asked. Sold out! the sales guy explained. But they had more on order - and had a long waiting list - so I'll still be able to get my paws on one. (Okay, I do have a turntable, but it's part of my stereo system, thus not exactly easy to lug around to parties and outside and things. And I want one. I went through a succession of cheap plastic record players when I was a kid, and I still have some of the records I used to play back then. And my turntable has a sapphire needle, while the record player the store is selling has a diamond one. So nya.)

Now I remember when CDs came out, and everyone was at first saying They'll never replace LPs, the sound is so inferior. Well, the sound improved, or else people just changed recording methods to take advantage of the digital medium. But a lot of people were left with a collection of useless plastic, if their stereos broke and parts were harder to come by (or if someone stole your first stereo system as happened to me -- the one I have now was purchased only because it had an auxiliary hookup, "for video," and the turntable was purchased later). A lot of other people junked their records and went out and bought CDs. Then the record companies, for the most part, stopped pressing vinyl LPs, or just did very few. I didn't used to own a CD player, nor did any of my impoverished friends, and after a time we simply could not get our hands on a record album that hadn't been imported from Japan and didn't cost any less than twenty-five dollars. Sure, CDs were somewhat more storeable. But then again, I remember when album art was a big thing. CD covers have designs and designers, but no one cares mush about them.

I am not sure what my point was, except to say that not all market changes are necessarily wise, but someone usually gets it sooner or later and produces something that rectifies the situation.

I was unable to post to this site all weekend, so I could not add my comments to the Ted-Rall-is-an-Idiot feast. If you really must know, Mr. Rall is a mediocre cartoonist who for some reason the Village Voice - which I used to think was a decent publication - has hired on as a reporter, and they have sent him, of all places, to Afghanistan. Unfortunately Mr. Rall seems to have fallen down some sort of wormhole in the space-time continuum and has landed in an alternate universe where the US is a ravenous oppressor of the masses, there have been millions of civilian casualties in Afghanistan due to the US bombing campaign, the Afghans are being forced at US gunpoint into Burger King uniforms, and oh -- by the way -- water is dry, air is solid, and Britney Spears is attorney general. But then again, Mr. Rall seems to fit in in this alternate universe. If only we could close the wormhole so he can't send any more "reports" (that's what they call drivelling, incoherent rants in the alternate universe) to us.

I'd link to his article, but oh dear I've lost the link and I don't feel like looking for it. Link, instead, to any of the other blogs I have listed under "recommended." It's much less painful that way.

Sunday, December 16, 2001

March of the Living Dead Clueless People: I am watching (well, listening to) CBS's Sunday Morning program. First John Leonard reviews Vanilla Sky and Lord of the Rings, rightly calling the former "silly," and generally praising the latter, though he couldn't resist a dig at Tolkien, who was "a monarchist, a Luddite who hated machines, and who admired Franco." Hey, at least he stuck to pottering around Oxford and writing one of the Best Novels Ever -- which he did on a typewriter, by the way; he didn't hate all machines, just noisy, smelly ones, of which the world was full of during the bulk of his life. I can't say anything about the Franco-admiration, though the alternative at the time were the Communists, at least for Spain. I do know that he was no Nazi sympathizer. Here's Professor Tolkien chewing a German publisher a new one back in 1938 when, during negotiations to translate The Hobbit into German, they asked him if he was arisch ("Aryan"):

"I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people."

Don't mess with a linguist.

Another segment on the program is the inevitable What Music CDs to Give as Christmas Gifts. Hey, Smashing Pumpkins have a greatest hits cd out! "If you have a kid with black fingernails, this might be the perfect gift." Uh huh. I can just see the look on the face of "a kid with black fingernails" as he/she unwraps this gift. I expect to find many of these CDs at the nearby used Cd stores.

I'm going to try to put some links up on this blog. Hope I don't break the template.


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