Saturday, January 19, 2002

I don't know what it is with MSN. I seem to be connected at a fairly fast speed (for a 56k modem), but I'll click on a link and nothing will happen. I guess I'm growing too impatient for regular dialup, and something like Roadrunner is on the horizon -- when I get money. The heck with eating!

And the winner of the Geek Points Challenge (see my post below) is Charles Johnson. He seems to think the question was too easy though (see the comments to the same post).

Okay, now I know I was bothered by something somewhere, and I said to my self: "Must blog on this!" Then I got here and now it's gone. Oh well.

Friday, January 18, 2002

Get this article, on the antics of asylum seekers currently detained in Australia. It seems that it is taking too long to process their visa, so some of them have thrown rocks, set things afire, staged general mayhem, and last but not least, sewn their lips together in an effort to continue a hunger strike. Just the sort of folks Australia needs to assimilate into their society, I am sure.

(Courtesy of Tim Blair.)

Oh dear, it looks as if my creature has met its end. Good-bye, Torgo, I'll miss you. (Ten geek points to anyone who gets what the name refers to.)

Something occurred to me in reading all this stuff about the Saudis: what's with the titles? I mean, we know they aren't really "Princes," "Kings," and "Princesses," etc., not in the European sense of those terms anyway. (Heck, I believe that I can buy a title if I want -- with enough money.) I wrote a research paper on the Wahhabi movement last term; as I recall the Sauds were just chieftains of one of the Arab tribes until they took over the place in... I can't remember. Dang, I never uploaded it to the my webspace at school. (I'm not home right now.)

Anyway, I think the point I'm trying to make is that the way the media and intelligentsia fawn all over the "Royal House of Saud," you'd tink the Saudis had reigned since the Age of Pericles. It must be some form of Princess Di Syndrome.

[Ah, lovely Google.com all I had to do was enter "Saudi+history+of" and I came to this page. It was the eighteenth century, sort of, when the Al Saud began taking over the area known today as Saudi Arabia. I love the internet.]

Michael Long over at NRO has an article on the prisoners at Guantanamo: read it. Yes, we're terrible, revenge-obsessed Americans, we are.

Thanks to Charles Johnson over at Little Green Footballs for the complimentary post on my semi-coherent screed below.

I really should be getting to bed, but I have a rant to get off my chest. Here goes:

The "international community" is, it seems, very concerned with the Al Qaeda prisoners who have been transported to Guantanamo. Much tut-tutting, tsk-tsking, and disapproving head shakes have been offered over the accomodations set up for the prisoners. It seems that a) they are not actually classified as "prisoners of war" so that b) their treatment does not fall under the terms of the Geneva convention which therefore means that c) they might -- might, mind you -- not get treated as nicely as Geneva-approved POWs are supposed to. "We Will Not Tolerate the Abuse of War Prisoners" thunders one Hugo Young in a Guardian editorial. "One value that's meant to bind Anglos and Americans is their attitude to justice" he sternly admonishes us in the very first sentence. He warns us in that if the US military doesn't treat the prisoners the way some phantasm called "international law" apparently calls for, then Britain and America could possibly "part ways." You see, apparently just the thought of imprisoning the Al Qaedans in the Apparent Hell On Earth that is Guantanamo is enough to indicate, at least in Mr. Young's eyes, that America and Britain don't share the same values, and that a "gulf" is opening up between our cultures.

Let's see, let's see what has our Guardian columnist so upset. Well. It seems that "For Washington, Camp X-Ray is plainly an extension of the war." Really? Do tell. And even more shocking, the prisoners "are held under rules of war defined by the side that's continuing to fight and maybe win it." Hmmm. Whose rules would you rather have us fight under, Hughie boy? Marquess of Queensbury rules? Al Qaeda's rules?

But it's worse: the reason they are being kept on Guantanamo, "off US territory, outside of the reach of the Geneva Conventions" is because "they can be treated the way American generals and politicians rather than American lawyers want to treat them." (Emphasis mine.) Well, just from where I'm sitting, I doubt that American lawyers will in general be inclined to treat the prisoners any differently than the "generals and politicians." (Oooh! Generals and politicians! Scary!) Apologies to the many lawyers out there in blogland, but this is just ridiculous. There's more nonsense: many vague innuendoes -- "Until the Red Cross get into the camp, it's not possible to be sure what goes on there"; "shackling potentially suicidal killers to their plane seats doesn't seem an outrageous form of maltreatment"; "Ministers too are worried" -- but I'm through with this article. (Iain Murray has a takedown of the article over on his blog.)

Let's turn to this article from a UK news organ that is supposedly on the opposite end of the political spectrum from the Guardian: the Daily Telegraph. One Alice Thompson writes that the US (and Britain, for supporting us) is "losing the moral high ground" due to the possibility that the prisoners might be mistreated. Ms. Thompson takes a while to get to the point, wasting several paragraphs to remind us -- or more likely, herself -- that the campaign in Afghanistan was generally successful. But then she comes to her main worry: the poor, poor shaven-headed Al Qaeda members in Guantanamo, "festering in the rain." Ms. Thompson would like us to know that she minds "the shark cages" very much, especially "with their concrete floors open to the elements" (concrete floors are open? I think it's the barred sides that are open), and 24-hour halogen lamps (what! you mean they won't make the place nice and dark at night? Why, how can the prisoners get their beauty sleep -- which is of course all they would do, not that they would plan anything under cover of darkness, they're not unsporting like those Americans), and they are apparently near "mosquito-infested swamps" where they can "catch malaria" to add to their TB.

There's more: the claim that a US military official said "with glee" that the prisoners would get wet if it rained, and the wonderful comparison with the way the Taliban treated errant journalist Yvonne Ridley when they snagged her -- they "gave her lavatory rolls, five meals a days and a roof over her head." (Gosh, they treated her like a princess -- I'm surprised she ever wanted to leave.)

There is no way that we will ever satisfy any one of these finger-waggers and humanity- junkies. So the prisoners had to have their heads and beards shaved; oh, the horror! Well, would it have been better to leave them to the torments of lice, in a tropical climate to boot? So they have to sleep and sit in open cages in the dreadful "elements"; I thought these were the fearsome Al Qaeda, faster than speeding bullets, able to leap tall Afghan mountains in a single bound, impervious to heat or cold, who were going to hand us our ass? Suddenly they are too frail to take Cuba's tropical weather? Maybe we should have kept them in Afghanistan in the "brutal winter"? So they are "humiliated" by having to be shaved and bathed and taken prisoner. These commentators are very solicitous over the degree of comfort the prisoners are kept in. (Notice, though, that they have nothing to say about the members of the US armed forces that are going to have to guard these folk. These soldiers are in Guantanamo's tropical heat too, and they don't get to sit on their bums; they have to carry rifles, engage in drills and various other activities, and keep watch over a pack of fellows some members of whom have reportedly declared will try to "kill an American.")

What were we to do, put them up in the Miami Airport Hilton so they could get their regularly-scheduled visits from Jesse Jackson and various concerned celebrities? That probably would not have pleased the hand-wringers either; I can hear it now -- "Room Service Slow to Respond to Prisoner's Need for More Towels." Or this:

Hilton Restaurant Cook Fired In Baked Ham Scandal

Reuters - "A scandal unfolded in Miami at the Airport Hilton where the Al Qaeda freedom fighters are being held. It is charged that the imprisoned soldiers were served baked Virginia ham instead of the roast chicken that had been ordered. Ham, a pork product, is considered unclean to those of the Muslim faith; eating or touching any pork product, Muslims believe, will cause them to become impure. The Reverend Al Sharpton is scheduling a protest rally at the courthouse in downtown Miami, and the group Celebrities Rallying Against Prisoner Oppression and Unusual Suffering (CRAPONUS) are going to issue a statement condemning the hotel staff, the US military, the US Legislature, and the President. Prince Al Fareed ibn Saud said, from the interior of his gold-plated Rolls Royce: "We condemn the torture of our brothers in the unfair campaign of the US against Islam. We believe that instead of going all over the world and capturing terrorists and such, the US needs to turn inward and contemplate its own wrongdoings, especially their continued support of Israel."

Here's something to think about: everyone is so worried about what the prisoners are going to suffer in Guantanamo. How about considering what they are certainly not going to suffer?

1) They won't get tortured with electric wires strapped to their heads like the downed fighter pilots captured in the Gulf War.
2) They won't get killed and have their bodies dragged through the streets as happened to the US soldiers in Somalia.
3) They won't be made to march through miles of jungle without food or water, as happened during the Bataaan Death March.
4) They won't get killed by a suicide bomber for a hateful and irrational cause.

You see, we don't do those things. We're civilized.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

In my last template change I seem to have lost some of my links. I am replacing them as I remember them, but if anyone wants their blog added to my links list, just email me at lilith33-at-yahoo.com.

In other news: the good folk over at Samizdata have stronger digestive systems than mine, and have unearthed some unsavory stuff about one Mr. Raimondo, the warblog-hating ranter of Ant-Eye-Word-Ought-Calm. Apparently he is the only (to my knowledge) person on earth who is not a member of the Chinese Communist Party to support the massacre at Tiananmen Square. Anyone remember that? I do: I saw the whole thing on TV. I remember the Godsdess of Liberty and the guy defying the tank. I remember the dismay I and my friends felt when the Red Army finally shot, squashed, beat, and destroyed their own people. But to Mr. Raimondo, the protesters were just suicidal wackos who deserved to die. Warblogger people, believe me, you don't want this guy to be on your side.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Um, okay, weird. My archives went "poof!" I had to republish them all. Wacky.

I keep fiddling with the thing -- adding links, changing things. It's cwazy.

Christopher Johnson over at the Midwest Conservative Journal has a link to this article from the Arab News on an "international seminar on the Muslim image in Western news media which was organized by the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO)." During this conference, one Nathan Cardelles, said to be a "chief editor of a Los Angeles Times Group publication" according to Dr. Abdul Qader Tash (the author of the article) supposedly stated:

"Your image is bad indeed. Your culture sanctifies violence and hostility to others. All your model-patterns, beginning with Khomeini, passing through Saddam and ending with Bin Laden, are evil. If you are serious about changing the tarnished image, you must change yourself first. You should secularize your culture, democratize your political systems and adopt values of modernism and globalization so that you can redeem yourselves from your backwardness."

Dr. Tash is miffed at this, as he says were others at the seminar, accusing the Americans of arrogance and self-righteousness. Mr. Johnson lambastes the Muslims for once again seeking to deflect blame onto others for their own problems. He's right, but I think he missed the point:

What proof do we have that this Nathan Cardelles (of an unnamed "Los Angeles Times Group publication") actually made that statement? Or if he did, that he actually used language that really is quite inflammatory and borderline insulting? I mean, this is the Arab News we are talking about. I do not know how objective their reportage is; I do know what they are biased in favor of, and it does not seem generally to be towards making Americans look good. The language of the statement attributed to Mr. Cardelles actually is closer to the rhetorical style of Dr. Tash. This may be due to a) the fact that the article was probably translated from the Arabic, a language that makes more use of hyperbole than English, or b) Dr. Tash "embellished" whatever the American speaker had to say. Indeed, I am not sure that "Nathan Cardelles" even exists -- a Google search turns up no one by that name, and a search on just the name "Cardelles" brings up several websites in Florida (mostly at Florida International University in Miami), and, strangely enough, a chapter of a work on the Crusader Kingdom of Valencia from the University of Central Arkansas. (Cardelles, which could also be Canales, is or was a town or village in Valencia.) Also, a couple of golfers have the last name Cardelles, but neither have the first name "Nathan." (Cardelles, by the way, is a Spanish name, according to all these sources.) None of the websites Google turned up had anything to do with Los Angeles or California.

Now just because I can't find Nathan Cardelles through Google doesn't mean he doesn't exist, but it is odd that someone involved in an LA publication could not be found somewhere on the web. There is, of course, the possibility that Dr. Tash or the translator or the webmaster of the Arab News misspelled or misunderstood the name. But from the tone of the article I sense the creation of a straw man for the purpose of turning moderate Muslims against anything American journalists might have to say.

Anyway, the article also accuses the Americans of supporting Israel and also of "being among the most hated people on the earth." Well, thanks for the reasoned and helpful criticism, Dr. Tash. I'm so glad that the descendants of the people who rescued Aristotle and Plato from obscurity are continuing to be practitioners of the Golden Mean and to use logic and rational discourse. Message to "Dr. Tash" and friends: as far as I am concerned, I hope my country continues to support Israel, if only because it is so annoying to the editors of the Arab News if for no other reason. And as for being among the citizens of "the most hated people on the earth," I don't care if they hates us, so long as they fears us.

Okay, I just finished emailing someone who had had trouble with the comments program I added to the blog, then realized that in my last template change I had neglected to replace the comment tags in the appropriate places. Uuurggh. Anyway, the comments links are bck; and they seem to work, at least in IE and related browsers. (I haven't tried it in Netscape or Mozilla.)

PS: I am still working on:

1. a Lord of the Rings movie review, and
2. a review of Loose Lips.

Stay tuned. (Brief preview: both are recommended.)

(Sigh. Wipes sweat from forehead.) Just finished some minor tweaking of the template. I had to change certain links to certain bloggers who have gone and purchased their own domains. Now I'm off to finish replying to my email. Then I'll be back to wade through the issues of the day.

By the way, I changed my Amazon box message to something even more off-putting than "feed my cat." Gosh, there sure are a lot of dog people out there. ;^)

Tired analogy alert: in this column, a Guardian columnist (of course) blames that old bugbear, "conformist America," for the suicide of Charles Bishop (the kid who flew his plane into the building in Tampa, Florida). The poor boy, it seems, was a misfit, "unappreciated" by his mall-going, sports jock classmates. He had no chooice but to make a "grand, nihilistic gesture." Ms. Raven admits it is hard to "pin down" an American cultural conspiracy against Bishop, since he was "never bullied," and Americans are too nice to "call people like Charles Bishop rude names or try to force conformity on them." But a progressive columnist never gives up: she manages to find a villain -- that nice, tolerant, accepting American culture itself! You see, since Mr. Bishop did not have to field "barbed" remarks, he was never "treated like a human being," and he never got to find a "like-minded compadre" with whom he could "share jokes and swap notes about the monstrous pain of the universe."

Oh, the humanity!

Anyway, Mr. Andrew Sullivan has nominated Ms. Raven's blatherings for his Sontag Awards. Enough said.

A columnist, whose name I have already forgotten, has published an anti-Blogger screed over on a website called Antiwar dot com. (The link is over on Instapundit. I gave the antiwar guy his one free link by going to his site; I'm not giving him another.) Anyway, I read the thing, and noted that he gets shriller and more hysterical as his column nears its end. I was left with a vision of this guy stamping his feet and screaming "I hate you! I hate you!" like a girl.

That's all for now. Gotta finish something for my Creative Writing class, then I'm off to skool.

[Update: punctuation mistakes and confusing syntax repaired -- thanks to the warning of Mr. John Weidner.]

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Get this: the personal flying machine is here! (I got this info from USS Clueless.) Okay, now I'm afraid of heights, and hate to fly -- in planes, for reasons that have nothing to do with September 11th -- but this is cool. It's those personal rockets-packs from all the old sci-fi stories. I hope that this guy's invention makes it into the market. I can hear it now, though, from the Safety Nazis: "That's too dangerous! We can't allow such a dangerous device to be sold!" Or: "We must regulate this" so that no one qualifies to own or use one.

I love it: Yemen was not Muslim enough for Johnny "Taliban" Walker. Or "Yusuf Islam," as his schoolmates over there sarcastically called him -- that's the name Cat Stevens adopted when he converted to Islam. Believe it or not, your regular, everyday Muslim is about as impressed by showy converts as the average Christian American is by the likes of Jerry Falwell.

Read the whole article. It's a hilarious example of what I call a true "Ugly American" type that thinks he/she can "out-native the natives." To my mind the leftist-liberal helpists that populate the aid organizations infesting many a hapless "Third World" country are examples of another "Ugly American" type.

God, I suck. I've gone and changed the template again. I was in a... brown mood. Well, "autumnal" sounds better. Today was a day of driving, chilly rain -- and don't get me wrong, I like that kind of weather. Living in Florida all my life means that my attitude to sunny, warm days is like that of the heroin-addicted plantation wife in White Mischief. (The scene is when she gets up in the morning and throws open her curtains to a glorious Kenyan sunrise, and says "Oh god, another fucking beautiful day.") There is nothing more grating to my ear than the cheerful burbling of the weather-human on the morning news: "It's another great sunny day! Temperatures in the 80s, going up to the mid-90s by early afternoon! Get out your sunblock and head down to the beach." Stuff it, you northern transplant, is my usual response.

Anyway, all it took was a couple of nights of frost and we finally got some fall color here. I am going to try to get some pics of the leaves before they are all gone (and a week later the new leaves will already have grown back in).

My slow, 56k modem is driving me increasingly insane. I might actually splurge and get Road Runner or something. It's not like I have to eat or anything, right? And for five years now I've been promising myself my own domain. This year is the year I get it. All I have to do is settle on a name. And no, it won't be "ye olde bloge" -- which should be "the old blog," as John Weidner pointed out on his blog. (I must add it to the list. Soon, soon...) I had thought that people misread "ye" because I thought it was an abbreviation used back then, kind of the way some people abbreviate "the" today (with a little upward line over a forward slash). It never occurred to me it was for the Old English thorn character.

Monday, January 14, 2002

This is cool: Leave It Alone, a poster image offered by the National Review of the photo of the three firemen raising the flag over the WTC rubble. Also, here's Rich Lowry's commentary on the controversy over the statue (see my post below).

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Just when you think Ted Rall can't be any less amusing, he tops, or perhaps bottoms himself again. Enjoy his latest puerile attempt at sarcasm.

Note: as I was "enjoying" this work of art myself, I scrolled down and saw the most frightening sentence: meet Ted Rall. Where, at the gates of hell? "Noooo-ooooo...!"

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