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The WeatherPixie
Weather Conditions, Wish we were there...

Odd things and such things, as I feel appropriate, possibly relating to the war.
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Jerry Lawson, Proprietor

Comments by: YACCS

Thursday, May 30
Ouch - Part 4

Went to see the orthopedist today - and GOOD NEWS! I don't have to wear a spint, a cast, or be plastered up. I do need to wear "a brace and an ACE" for a few weeks, but that'll be it. And the brace isn't a terribly uncomfortable one though I will need to get a larger pair of shoes so I can walk comfortably. Luckily I wear the $20 specials I can get at the BX (6 month disposable sneakers - I can get a pair of Nikes to last a year and a half, but they cost more than 3 times that, and aren't as comfortable...) so it's not going to be any great out-of-pocket expense.

The doc mentioned that I had three older fractures, which I figure happened during AF Survival school. Well, it happens. But I'm OFF the blessed crutches, and mobile again!


Palestinian Woman Tells of Changing Her Mind, Calling off Planned Suicide Attack - from Tampa Bay Online
JERUSALEM (AP) - Tawriya Hamamra, a young Palestinian woman, had barely an hour's training in preparation for a suicide bombing. All she really needed to remember was how to work the detonator button that rested on her hip.

But Hamamra had second thoughts about the attack, and instead of going to Jerusalem as planned, she went to her aunt's home in the West Bank. She was arrested shortly afterward by Israeli security forces.

"I didn't feel fear. I am not afraid of dying. I went for personal reasons. I was afraid of how God would look on me if I came for impure reasons," the 25-year-old told a small group of journalists selected by the Israeli authorities to interview her. Her account appeared in newspapers Thursday.
Could it be?

Could it be the Palestinains are running out of folks so deeply, hatefully conditioned that they'd blast themselves into kibble?

There may be hope for that generation yet. But then again -
In recounting the episode, she said she was uncomfortable when her handlers told her to dress like a modern Israeli woman, with her hair loose, makeup, sunglasses and tight-fitting trousers.

"I didn't want to do this because it was against my religious beliefs," she told the newspapers.

Her disillusionment with her handlers grew when she was told that she should blow herself up before she reached the target if she thought she was going to be caught.

"Blow up for nothing? What is this - trading in the blood of martyrs only so that my handlers can say that they executed the operation?" she said.
It's like they're playing for points in some obscene game. The more I read about this, the less 'admiration' I've got for the Palestinian cause. (Well, there wasn't much to begin with.)

J. Conservative Columnists: Bruce Bartlett - Black Gold in the Gulf
On April 16, Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, published a startling report that old oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico were somehow being refilled. That is, new oil was being discovered in fields where it previously had not existed.

Scientists, led by Mahlon Kennicutt of Texas A&M University, speculate that the new oil is surging upward from deposits well below those currently in production. "Very light oil and gas were being injected from below, even as the producing was going on," he said.

Although it is not yet known whether this is a worldwide phenomenon or commercially important, the new discovery suggests that there may be far more oil and gas within the earth's core than previously thought.
When it came to the sciences of the deep earth, geology I could understand. Coal was easy to figure out - after all, they've found fossil plants in coal so it's easy to see where that came from. Petroleum, however, as squeezed-out dinosaur juice I was a bit skeptical of, and frankly I haven't kept up with any theories past that point - which I think I learned in grade school. (Yes, I'm out of date on that stuff.)

The idea of very deep reserves of oil and gas filling up the tapped out oil fields - that's interesting. Perhaps the Saudis DON'T have the lock they wish they had...


Tuesday, May 28 - Judge denies Taliban American request for interviews - May 28, 2002
Lindh, a 21-year-old Californian captured while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan last year and brought back to the United States to stand trial, has the constitutional right to question anyone he feels might help his case, Ellis said.
Lindh has pleaded not guilty to a 10-count indictment charging him with conspiring with and aiding the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
Uh-huh. He just took the wrong bus one day on the way to work at Burger-Box, and next thing he knew he was in downtown Kabul!

Sure he did. Sure.....


Arab News - Face the facts, Arabs
I recently received a fax containing some interesting but very disturbing information. The message posed an implicit question to every Arab about what his or her future is going to be. A careful reading of the fax helps us Arabs identify the causes for our defeat in the confrontation with the Jewish state of Israel. Two weeks ago that state celebrated the 54th anniversary of its founding which occurred after the land was taken from the Arabs.

While the fax enumerated a number of significant achievements by the Zionist state, it also compared them with Arab achievements — or to be precise, Arab failures. First, the fax underscored the progress made by Israel in achieving its present Gross National Product (GNP). Israel’s GNP exceeds $100 billion while the oil revenue of all the Arab countries combined is barely $113 billion. The average annual income of an Israeli is about 17 times higher than that of an Arab. The Arab’s average annual income is $1,000 while the Israeli average is $17,000. Twelve percent of Israelis are employed in agriculture and another 12 percent in business while the remaining 76 percent are employed in the industrial sector. The average spent on scientific research per year per person in Israel is $110. The Arab world, in contrast, spends a pathetic $2. Israel’s leading electronic industry manufactures several times more than all the Arab countries combined produce. Israel exports $7.2 billion worth of IT products annually and aims to push it up to $12 billion in a decade. As a proportion of its total population, Israel boasts the highest number of engineers and scientists in comparison to any other country.
It's rather odd to find an editorial like this at the Arab News site. But he brings up some good points - the Arab world hasn't done much with the oil money it's brought in, except fund terrorism and allow the ruling class to party in places where anything goes. They're woefully prepared to even be industrial countries, around 3rd World class economy-wise. They've given no thought for the future - and the future's coming at them like a freight train headed west at a fast clip.

Personally, I think they're gonna be flattened. And it's going to be painful for the whole world...


Ouch - Part 3.

The trip back started pretty well. There was still a fair amount of light, though that faded about the time I hit the end of the gravel road out of the Cohuttas. Sue did well, nary a squeak or a whimper as we got out of there at a fast clip. (Why, on the unimproved parts at times I hit 8 mph...) I wasn't feeling much pain, thanks to Aleve and concentrating on the road. But things got a bit worse as we hit the pavement, and when we got to Blue Ridge I was ready for Sue to drive. We grabbed some burgers at the Wendy's there - being rather disgusted with the Blue Ridge McDonalds. (We stopped there for lunch - and it was filthy. 11 AM on a Saturday shouldn't find the floors and bathrooms grimy and nobody cleaning. It was the flies inside, more than anything else, that got me. I didn't even want to see their FDA inspection sheet.) We got home around 11, put Aaron to bed and I took some more Aleve and got a shower while Sue got an ice pack ready. Slept pretty well, all in all. But the next morning when I unwrapped the ankle, Sue took a look and recommended a doctor. Technicolor bruising down the left side of the foot was (we felt) a pretty good indication of problems inside. So we hied ourselves hence to the ER, where we waited a while.

(I don't recommend hanging around real ERs for entertainment value. The less said about it, the better.)

I almost felt embarrased at the ER, since all I had was a damaged ankle. But as is so often the case when you can't see what's wrong, I didn't know how damaged it was until it was x-rayed. It took about two hours from the time I walked in till the time I hobbled out, and according to the ER doc I managed to actually pull a bit of the bone away, It's called an "avulsion fracture", defined as a
A fracture that occurs when a joint capsule, ligament, or muscle insertion of origin is pulled from the bone as a result of a sprain dislocation or strong contracture of the muscle against resistance; as the soft tissue is pulled away from the bone, a fragment or fragments of the bone may come away with it.
So, I've got an appointment to see an orthopedist on Thursday. We'll see what's what then. In the meantime, I'm wearing a plaster splint and am not supposed to put any weight on my left foot.

I hate crutches. But overall? It was a good weekend. Aaron wants to go camping again, so we must have done something right...

But I've got to do something about this ankle of mine...

J. - Time to Speak Out
Our society is undergoing a cultural change from political correctness to a respect for true diversity. In this shift, individuals matter because culture changes one person at a time. Speak out. Stand up for the values that have been ravaged by PC feminism: freedom of speech, parental control of children, the rights of men and the ability to rise through merit alone.

Each day offers opportunities to transform the culture. When a friend launches into a male-bashing diatribe, remind her that she's talking about your husband or son...and object. When a co-worker loses a deserved promotion because of affirmative action, give him moral support. When public schools teach your child values you abhor, complain to the school board.

But be prepared to argue because political correctness will die as it lived — kicking and screaming ad hominem abuse as a substitute for arguments. If you defend your husband, you may be called anti-woman. If you protest affirmative action, you'll be slurred as a racist. If you don't want gay teachers "coming out" in school at taxpayers' expense, you'll be labeled homophobic.
Political Correctness consists of pandering to groupthink ideals, and being forcibly silenced when you don't agree with the vocal minority. Yet PC was supposed to free us from such things. How is it that it's now become what it supposedly abhorred?


Ouch - Part 2.

I knew when I fell that I'd done something I hadn't wanted to do. (Like anyone actually WANTS to smash an ankle, right? Don't answer that - I'm sure somewhere on the internet there's a site devoted to the joys of fracturing people's ankles, and maybe testimonials by people who LOVE getting their ankles fractured then hobbling around on crutches for weeks on end. I'm not one of them.) Sue came back and helped me up, and I tested the weight-bearing capability of my ankle. I wished I'd had on my combat boots - instead I was wearing an almost new pair of Hi-Tec hiking shoes. They provided some support for the ankle, but I'd say it wasn't enough. When I put my weight down, the joint hurt but it wasn't intolerable. Think icepick in the joint at first, then subsiding to a sharp burning sensation deep inside. I could walk on it, with support.

And I had to walk. (Sigh.) Oh, I could have waited while Sue and Aaron packed out and gotten Forest Service folk in to help me - that would likely have been the next day. Two hours to the road, an hour or more down to a phone (oddly enough, cell phones don't work well up there...) then wait while they scare up someone to come in and get me --- nah. I could walk. (And in the background, strains of "Macho Man" by the Village People started playing. ) Problem was, once I got going, I only had one speed - as fast as I could manage. Having damaged this blasted ankle before, I knew that a stop-start do-a-lot-of-resting pace would only prolong the agony. As long as I was moving, the pain was manageable. When I stopped, it would hurt a lot more to start again before it settled down to a tolerable level.

So there I was, stumping along using two sticks and leaving Aaron and Sue behind. I didn't really want to - but the trail we were on was pretty hard to stray from so they wouldn't get lost, and if I held back to Aaron's pace, I'd soon be using language I'd prefer Aaron didn't hear until he's, oh, 20 or thereabouts. I'd pause when I had to and pant while they caught up some, then continue. Once I stopped and Sue suggested we go ahead and pitch camp - then keep going in the morning. I didn't think it was a good idea, I didn't even want to consider taking off my boot until I was at the van. The next time I stopped and waited for them to catch up I noticed a snail crossing the trail. When Aaron caught up I pointed it out to him, and he asked about the shell. We told him it was the snail's house, and Aaron said "Like the packs you and mommy carry?" (Yeah, you knew I had to sneak in a smart-kid moment, didn't you?) The snail slowly turned to follow the trail, and we pressed on. And yes, it hurt to start up again.

I started muttering about amputations and titanium ankles shortly after that, then remembered the Discovery Channel shows I'd watched a few nights back about Navy SEAL training. Hah - I had it easy. Dry land, fairly warm, no instructor yelling at me and spraying me with icy water, I was going to sleep in my bed tonight and what on earth did _I_ have to gripe about?

So I motored on, until we got to the trailhead. (Actually a bit ahead of schedule. It was about 7:45.) I shucked my pack (of course I carried it - Aaron couldn't, Sue had her own, and I wasn't about to leave it behind) drank a bottle of water, then just kept moving around while Sue and Aaron got to the van and made ready for the trip back.

To be continued....

Monday, May 27

Well, the camping trip went pretty well, though the trip to the hospital didn't.

We got to the trailhead (Dally Gap, in the Cohutta Wilderness area) around one, loaded up our packs and headed down to the Jacks River. It's a nice trail, down an old logging road and pretty easy on the feet. Aaron had a couple of pounds in a backpack, along with his favorite stuffed animals. I had about 40 lbs, Sue had 35, so it wasn't a bad day at all. The temperature was perfect, the sun was shining, and the trees provided just the right amount of shade. On the road up, we saw a wild turkey and her brood of chicks cross the road - and Aaron wanted one. But we told him that wild animals aren't toys, and went on.

It took us about an hour and a half to get down to the river, to the first true water crossing. (2 miles, which is fairly good time with a 4 year old) We looked at crossing the river (when I crossed it back in '92, there were some good campsites on the other side) but decided against it. I started across, and turned back when the water got above my knees. This would be waist-deep+ on Aaron, and there was no way, considering the slippery characteristics of the rocks in the river, that I'd be able to carry him safely across the water. (Yeah, it wasn't deep as such, but it was COLD - about 55 and flowing fast.) There were several occupied campsites prior to the crossing, so we ended up at a very small unoccupied one by the river.

It took about an hour to set up camp and get things ready, and Aaron had a fine time wandering all over the campsite, a bit of the way up the hill of rhododendrons (which is miserable stuff to try to pass through, BTW) and showing Pippi and Blizz (his animals) all about the woods. He helped me pump up a bag of water from the river (Sue doesn't like the taste iodine tablets leave behind, and I won't allow them to drink unfiltered, untreated or unboiled water - that way lies giardia, and it's a problem I'd just as soon we not deal with.) by throwing rocks in the river while I pumped (and I'm gonna buy a different water pump/filter - this one kept loosing it's prime and I don't want to deal with it again.) then we went down and watched the water at the river crossing for a while.

Then it was time to fix dinner. I use an MSR Whisperlite gas stove, which has worked reliably for me in the past, and needed virtually no maintenance after 8 years in storage. I boiled up a half-gallon of water and we rehydrated some bbq beef & beans - which was pretty good, and some rice. Hot chocolate and tea followed, and we all had eaten well a while later. (Some folks reading this may remember the "Five Points Marching & Chowder Society" backpacking trips we took a long time ago - before Real Life set in.) Sue and Aaron played the harmonica in the tent, while I busied myself outside with small chores until it was time to go to bed.

The sleeping bags were just fine, my old air mat is going to be replaced soon with a new one - but we slept pretty well all in all, and about 7 I staggered out to fire up the stove and boil the morning water. Instant grits and hot cocoa help get a body moving - and Sue and Aaron walked up a ways to throw sticks in the water, I pumped up some more from the river (I'm gonna throw that pump away - it works, but barely - 15+ minutes to pump up a gallon doesn't cut it) and then just laid around the camp reading Kipling for a while. If I may, I greatly recommend "With The Night Mail", his forecast of the state of aviation in the year 2000. I started reading it to Sue and Aaron the previous night, and Aaron was out in ten minutes.

They took their time returning, then Aaron and I went for a walk, and took our time returning also. Then lunch, and time for a nap, all the time listening to the chuckle of the river beside the campsite.

After our nap, we just kind of sat around while Aaron got over the post-nap fussy he usually gets - then I boiled water for coffee and tea, then we had a small snack (Lordy, you'd think we were hobbits or something) - and Aaron started whining about going home. It was after 4:30 at this point, and although the sun wouldn't set for another 4 hours, we'd have to pack up and pack out. I didn't want to rush this - the drive out from the trailhead is over some rather unimproved roads and I didn't particularly care to navigate them at night. But we talked about it, and with one thing and another (and dinner) we decided to break camp and go home.

In retrospect, this wasn't the smartest thing we could have done. It's NEVER wise to be in a great hurry in the woods, when you don't have to be. But we got things packed up in about an hour, and on the trail back about 6. I figured two hours to the trailhead, 15 minutes to recover, and there'd be a good hour of semi-decent light remaining to get us down to Blue Ridge, GA.

Heh. Right....

At about 6:20, I made a mis-step, and fractured my ankle.

(To be con - ouch - tinued.)

Friday, May 24
Hmmm. For some reason I feel that wasn't an extra-large decaf I got at Starbucks this morning...

God, THANK YOU for creating caffine. (But you know that really rare coffee, that's made from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of the palm civet? That was weird. I know you can do anything - but just because you CAN doesn't mean it's necessarily a good idea.) (Hmmm. Maybe it's an unknown specific treatment for cancer of the appendix?)

I haven't been posting much this week - been pretty busy digging through stuff that's been unused for the last 7 years or so, getting ready for the weekend. (At least, I think it's been 7 years - the expiration date on the batteries I threw away was 1996, 2 years previous... maybe 8 years.)

Anyhow, I've been digging through my old (and Sue's old) backpacking stuff, since we're going camping this weekend. The weather looks good, and we're headed to a pretty nice area by a river on a backpacking trail. Since I'm just rattling along on a caffine induced jag here before I head to work, I thought I'd comment on some of the things I've noticed getting stuff ready.

1. Sleeping bags are a lot lighter now than 10 years ago when we got our last ones. We got Aaron a bag, an REI Kindercone in tomato-worm green - and when he humps across the floor in it he looks like a big green caterpillar. God, it's great having a 4-year old around, he's an endless source of amusement. But we didn't get new ones, our old bags that weigh about 5 lbs each will suffice for now.

2. Flashlights are MUCH lighter. My old standby, my mil-spec 2 D-cell angle-head flashlight I carried for years, has been retired. Instead, we're carrying two Photon 3 microlights which weigh about a quarter-ounce total, two Krill lightstickswhich weigh 5 ounces total, and one Petzel Tikka headlamp that weighs about two ounces. Total weight, about that of three D-cell batteries. High power LEDs are GREAT things!

3. Tents are roomier and lighter - we're carrying the REI Camp-Dome 4, which weighs about twice what the little Sierra Designs Flashlight tent I got almost ten years ago weighs. The one at the URL is about two pounds lighter than the one I've got...

Advances in the adopted technology has changed a lot of things over the years. If we wanted to go minimalist, I could take a 2-mil plastic painter's dropcloth and rig up a very serviceable rain-cover/tent with some line - but Sue wouldn't go for that. She likes sleeping with an opaque roof over her head. Aaron hasn't had the chance to decide one way or the other - but we'll see what he likes this coming weekend.

And the weather looks good - I'll let you know what happens!


Tuesday, May 21 - Gov't: Pilots Can't Have Guns in Cockpit
WASHINGTON — The federal government announced Tuesday that pilots will not be allowed to have guns in the cockpits of commercial U.S. airplanes.
The announcement came at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing by John Magaw, undersecretary for transportation security. It followed months of debate over whether arming pilots would be a deterrent to hijackers.
Government officials, airline executives and pilots groups had hotly debated the topic in the months following the Sept. 11 attacks. Some airlines had said they would allow their pilots to carry weapons, while other carriers opposed the plan.
Both Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge previously indicated their opposition to arming pilots.
Magaw announced the decision in response to a question from Arizona Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the committee. Magaw said a formal announcement will be made later in the week.
This makes no sense to me. Of course, I'm of the feeling that it should be a last line of defense, and that one pilot would fly the plane (and it doesn't take two of them at the same time) while the other would shoot any intruders (and it doesn't take them BOTH shooting to do the job on that, either) who made it past the locked cockpit door.

As it is, I don't feel better about having to fly, knowing that the pilots CANNOT defend themselves. Has the anti-gun "you can't defend yourself under any circumstances" crowd gotten it's hooks so deep in the Washington crowd that they can't see in essence that they are ADVERTIZING that the planes are defenseless? And with the published statistic (which may, of course, be disinformation) that only one in four jets will carry an air marshal in the first place, a group of terrorists will have a 3 in 4 chance of not meeting any armed resistance at all.

As I said - it makes no sense.



Monday, May 20
With all the "Tastes Great" "Less Filling" back and forth on the net between the unimpressed and the true believers, Attack of the Clones looks like it's going to generate a lot more wasted verbiage than any movie in the last 10 years.

One GREAT example from PejmanPundit:
d. Admiral Ozzel got screwed by Vader. Royally. When preparing the assault on Hoth, it made perfect sense for Ozzel to take the Imperial fleet out of lightspeed as close to the system as possible. You want to surprise the Rebels! Otherwise, the fleet would have had to trudge along at sublight speed until it got within range of Hoth, at which point, the Rebels would have had enough time not only to prepare their defenses, but also to grab a sandwich, have a smoke, and take a nap before the battle began. Hell, by the time Vader made it to Hoth, Luke could have been a fully trained Jedi Knight, ready to fight him. Makes sense right? But not to Vader, who kills Ozzel for doing exactly what any damned fool would have done in Ozzel's place. And that leads to . . .

e. My law school friend, whom I mentioned above, stated once that somebody really needs to tell Vader that morale in his command sucks the Big One. Why? Because Imperial officers, who presumably were trained at great expense, and with a great deal of time-investment, buy the farm left and right thanks to a Dark Lord of the Sith who wouldn't know a good decision if it came and bit him on his cyborg, Force-sensitive ass. Positive motivation of underlings is an alien concept to Vader. One officer after another does something which makes perfect sense, or for which there is a reasonable argument in favor, and Vader, being the capricious and whimsical prima donna that he is, decides to kill them since they fail to share or express enthusiasm for his befuddled plans. Ozzel is but one example. Another is Captain Needa, who does the stand-up thing and goes to apologize to Vader for having lost the Millennium Falcon in Empire. And Vader rewards this sense of responsibility, which would have gained the respect of any professional soldier, by . . . you guessed it . . . killing Needa.

And people wonder why the Empire lost? Look, when you know that you are going to die either at the hands of the enemy, or at the hands of your own Supreme Lord, you are going to half-ass it in life. What's the point of doing anything else? You're screwed, no matter what.

f. The process of military resource allocation is nothing short of piss-miserable. I don't care who was on the Millennium Falcon after it escaped from Hoth--you don't send the entire friggin' Imperial fleet after it at the expense of cutting of the escape of the rest of the Rebel fleet. If Vader had any brains, he would have let the Falcon go, and ordered his Star Destroyers to find the Rebels' rendezvous point after leaving Hoth, and engaged their retreating fleet in battle. The Imperials probably would have won, considering the fact that they had the Rebels on the run after Hoth.

Instead, Vader orders all the ships at his command to follow one dinky little Correllian smuggling ship up and down the galaxy. Even worse, he orders Admiral Piett to have the Imperial fleet to enter an asteroid field to follow the Falcon--that's how obsessed the baritone moron is. "Captain Ahab," anyone? And how does Vader justify all of this? "Asteroids do not concern me Admiral." Oh, well, great. For a moment, I thought Vader might be somewhat interested in the welfare of those under his command. I would have given my left testicle for Admiral Piett to respond by saying "well they sure as s--t concern the f--k out of me, my Lord," and then proceed to berate Vader for his rank stupidity. I know that Piett would have died right then and there, but at least it would have been an honorable death.
One thing that constantly surprises me (and surprised me during my days of fringe-fandom lo these many years ago) are how there are people to whom (for example) the question of how many droids Jar-Jar Binks killed by sheer accident is IMPORTANT. (I should gripe, I guess, I saw Star Wars when it first came out 17 times. And had to travel a hundred miles to do so. Crossing state lines, even... blowing snow, uphill both ways, you know the drill.. (Actually, the theater was in Denver, and I was stationed in Cheyenne, WY at the time. And the freeway 'tween the two went through some pretty senic valleys. And it was a relatively mild winter - the snow blew a lot.))

It's entertainment. At least for me, that's all it is. I just don't see it as a lifestyle... Never have. FIJAGH, right? Not FIAWOL.

But it takes all sorts - and if you're the sort of person who'd argue that the Empire could kick ass on StarFleet, go for it.


Thursday, May 16 - White House: Hijack warnings too vague to help - May 16, 2002
However, Shelby said the top members of the House and Senate intelligence committees -- himself; Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, D-Florida; Florida GOP Rep. Porter Goss, the House Intelligence Committee chairman; and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House panel's ranking Democrat -- had received the same classified information as the president.

And Rice told Senate Democrats in a meeting Thursday that some of them they had been privy to the same information.

But Graham told reporters that he and his colleagues were given a less detailed briefing than the one given to the president, and said he was never given information about potential hijackings. Other members of those committees, including at least one Republican, were angered that all committee members weren't briefed.

"That information should have been given to us, and it wasn't," said Rep. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Top Republicans, including President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, quickly criticized Democrats for trying to exploit the issue for political gain. But Graham said both sides should refrain from politicizing the issue: He said the problem lies with the intelligence community not coordinating and analyzing all the information they were collecting.
Remember my example of ComSec in the last post? You get too much information, and it's as bad as not enough. How do you sort it out? How do you rate probabilities? How do you rank the threats? How can you decide "This is a non-issue, but THAT is something we need to go on alert for?" Say you get 100 pieces of info a day - and you've got to sort it all out and proceed on the expectations you've established.

And at that date, it was that a hijacker won't kill themselves, or the crew and passengers of a plane.

Any mistake is paid for by lives. Perhaps instead of saying that the cost of 9/11 was too high - looking at other countries, we ought to be considering we got off cheap.

J. - White House: Hijack warnings too vague to help - May 16, 2002
Lawmakers and some relatives of the more than 3,000 people killed in the September 11 hijackings in New York and Washington said Thursday the White House failed to act on hints that the United States would be the target of a terrorist attack.

But Rice said the administration was justified in not publicizing the information at the time.

"There was no time. There was no place. There was no method of attack," she said. "It simply said, 'These are people who train and seem to talk simply of hijacking.' You would have risked shutting down the American civil aviation system with such general information," she said during a presentation at the White House.
One of the things that was drilled into our heads in the 70's and 80's (and to a lesser extent in the 90's and 00's) in both the Active Duty military and Reserves was "ComSec", or Communications Security. The theory was (and in practice, valid) that many little bits of information could be collected - each of which was innocent on the face of it. An airman in a maintenance squadron calling his girlfriend, saying he has to go away for a month or so. An intercepted phone call to a local copy service, when a copier in the flight planning section needed repair, mentioning it was really going to be needed soon. A guy in a bar saying his arm was sore due to some shots he needed to get for a remote location. A call from a pilot to an old professor, asking about the customs of a certain region... Each bit worthless by itself - but put it all together and you've got a bunch of planes getting ready to deploy to a foreign location.

So, the theory went, you didn't talk about the job with anyone who wasn't involved in the job - and you kept outside communications strictly to a minimum.

Now, it "seems" like there were possibly enough pieces available to indicate a hijacking was going to occur, and the President was briefed that it may happen. And that, I hate to say it, rates a big "So what?" with me. There were dozens of warnings of terrorist action last summer - and at that point there was no fear that a hijacker would fly planes into buildings. Hijackers, it was assumed, wanted very much to live - their 'power' consisted of having hostages and being able to trade those hostages and the airplane for what they wanted.

And on Sept. 11th, the rules changed.

Needless to say, the Democrats are going to try to make this into another Enron. And the evidence is just not there - it is SERIOUSLY not there. Heck, last August we got warnings about possible base incursions and briefings on personal security. Same thing with early Sept. Warnings about foriegn travel, potential dangers stateside, and all that.

Oh - one other thing. Senate and House leaders supposedly get the same security briefings that the President gets. Care to guess why one of THEM didn't blow the whistle, if the potential attack was so evident?


Wednesday, May 15
Beers Across America - formerly Sgt. Strkyer's Daily Briefing
I have seen Attack of the Clones and it is good. The prequels have reminded me of my uncle’s old Ford pick-up. If it hadn’t been driven around for awhile, the thing would sound like a cat being swung around by the tail before it would start teasing you with coughing and sputtering before finally turning over. It didn’t sound pretty while it was turning over, but once it started, the thing had a deep throaty roar that made your heart beat just a little bit faster.
Okay - looks like it'll be worthwhile. I hope Sue and I can go see it... but it'll be a bit before Aaron's old enough.


Things will be a bit slow for a few days, got some writing to finish before a deadline.

In the meantime, check out the links to the left.



From the Cranky Professor:
American Education – how to stop wasting time

I don’t know the answer to America’s problems. I don’t read systematically about educational reform; the prose is too bad and the thinking is too murky in most books by practicing educational theorists to bother with.

I’ve met a few people who made me think they had a piece of an answer. One of the most inspiring of these was the late Patricia Farnsworth, whose Link Institute was set up to propagate the Core Knowledge curriculum (in a virtue-based environment).

Core Knowledge came out of the series of books by E.D. Hirsch. I am mightily impressed the Core Knowledge Sequence, which describes their K-8 curriculum. If my students came to me knowing everything in this curriculum I would be one happy professor and we could make serious progress from the first day of their first year in college. I could say things like “1066” or “Alexander the Great” and not have to stop and say “1066, the year of the Norman invasion of England, which pulled Britain out of the ambit of Scandinavia and into the ambit of France,” etc., etc., etc.

Core Knowledge probably isn’t the only answer. Indeed, the Core Knowledge Sequence insisted that the material covered would occupy only about 40% of the schedule (I can’t find my copy, so I’m guessing), so there would be room to do lots of other things alongside Hirsch’s core list.

My life and teaching style is living testimony to the anti-Europeanist victory. My students, who are a mix of the products of good suburban government schools and elite private schools, know nothing about European history, culture, or languages. Students taking my classes have self-selected for some interest in ‘culture,’ but they are starting from scratch. They often can’t tell the nationality of artists from last names – I am sometimes reduced to telling them that artists whose names end in vowels may be Italian. In 200 and 300 level I have them buy superficial survey histories of whatever period we are studying. I quiz them over the content. This term in Early Christian Art and Archaeology we started with a week of the Gospels and the Book of Revelation.

George Steiner said it was all over years ago, this Western Civilization thing. Looking at a new edition of the The Riverside Shakespeare (that big brown hardback complete works of Shakespeare you bought and used in that English course and keep telling yourself you should drag out and read something out of) Steiner noticed that the editors had given a footnote for the first word of the title of Shakespeare’s long poem “Venus and Adonis.” “Venus: Roman goddess of love.” If you have to tell someone that Venus was the Roman goddess of love, Steiner decided, there’s not much point in requiring him to read a 1200 line poem he won’t understand.

Not that I think the humanities are the only answer – I tend to get more work out of the science majors in my classes, to tell the truth. On the other hand, there’s nothing drearier than a 30-year old scientist with no background in the world bigger than a cell. That’s how you get people like Barry Commoner. My goal is to get them well-started on the way towards self-education; the history books they read when they’re 30 and 50 will be better for them than the history books I make them read now. I hope that the few who took classes from me walk past a building one day and say “Oh! That’s what he was talking about!”

You ever wonder just why we keep putting up with jackass educational reform that makes perceived problems worse? Are we just too addicted to the 'Quick Fix'? Too dependent on 'specialists' to cure educational problems - and although they may be knowledgeable in their narrow, specialized fields, they are clueless when it comes to applying their theories to the real world (tm)?

This is a good blog - it's going up on the left.


Tuesday, May 14
Will the Blogs Kill Old Media?
May 20 issue — A year ago, Glenn Reynolds hardly qualified as plankton on the punditry food chain. The 41-year-old law professor at the University of Tennessee would pen the occasional op-ed for the L.A. Times, but his name was unfamiliar to even the most fanatical news junkie.
Competition leads to change - and it'll be interesting to see how competition changes the 'old media'. The writer of the article thinks not much will change. We'll see, won't we?


Word processing for everyone?
May 13 — It works on most major OS platforms and supports many languages; it’s able to read and write most documents in Microsoft Word’s .doc format, as well as twenty others; its authors claim it can do most of what Word can; and best of all it’s free. It’s been in the works for years, but is AbiWord really that good?
Neat. I may try this.



Possibly the neatest HTML clock (aside from the page-turner that Daniel Taylor showcased a while back) that I've yet seen.

Vernier scaling, yet. Cool.


Monday, May 13 Exiled Palestinian militants ran two-year reign of terror
BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Residents of this biblical city are expressing relief at the exile to Cyprus last week of 13 hard-core Palestinian militants, who they said had imposed a two-year reign of terror that included rape, extortion and executions.

The 13 sent to Cyprus, as well as 26 others sent to the Gaza Strip, had taken shelter in the Church of the Nativity, triggering a 39-day siege that ended Friday.

Palestinians who live near the church described the group as a criminal gang that preyed especially on Palestinian Christians, demanding "protection money" from the main businesses, which make and sell religious artifacts.

According to Bethlehem residents, one of the group's top leaders, Jihad Ja'ara, 29, traveled around town with an M-16 rifle, terrorizing the community.

"Finally the Christians can breathe freely," said Helen, 50, a Christian mother of four. "We are so delighted that these criminals who have intimidated us for such a long time are now going away."


Nah. I'm not going to say the obvious. Instead - look at who the anti-Israel crowd laud as heros - and consider just what it means that a society would insist on promoting THEM as the good guys..


Arafat - Afraid of Hecklers
Arafat made three stops Monday in West Bank towns hard hit by Israel's military incursion in search of militants. His visit to the town of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, was also to include a tour of the devastated Jenin refugee camp, scene of heavy fighting a month ago.

Some 3,000 camp residents turned out to see Arafat, but aides said privately that Arafat could face heckling in the camp and canceled the visit, a decision that disappointed many and angered some in the crowd.

"He must visit the camp," Ahmad Nawasrah, an unemployed construction worker, said of Arafat. "We've lost our houses, we've lost our sons and we have gotten nothing. We hoped that he would have come and we could have shown him our problems."
You got more problems than the Israelis, guys - if you thought Arafat gives a flip about you. You are pawns. Expendible, useful, but pawns in the game Arafat is playing.


Vitamin E and Soy - Benefit or ... ?

A few months back, I noticed a copy of The Art of Shen Ku : The Ultimate Traveler's Guide : The First Intergalactic Artform of the Entire Universe. Well, with a name like that, I picked it up - and was hooked.

The art is very, very good - there's something of a story line attached to it, and it reads rather like an oriental version of the Whole Earth catalog with a bit more humor. It's basically full of advice, and stories, and tips on this and that. The herbology and diet therapy areas I looked at with suspicion, but one thing caught my eye.

Gray hair.

I've been going gray for about the last ten years. My standard joke with the barber is each time I visit they put in more gray... but I figured I was pretty well stuck with it. My hair wasn't falling out - it was changing color but at least the follicles were keeping a good grip on things. And my chest hair turning gray wasn't totally traumatic... but the gray pubic hairs were depressing.

The time before the last haircut (and since I'm in the Reserves, it's a once a month thing) my sideburns were almost entirely white. Sigh.

In "The Art of Shen Ku" there was a mention of Vitamin E keeping your hair from going gray, and changing gray hair back to it's usual color. I figured "What the heck - what do I have to lose?" So I rooted around and found an old bottle of Vitamin E and started taking it. When that bottle ran out, I got a fresh bottle - Natural E, 1000 IU capsules, one a day...

I'm ready to be pretty skeptical on stuff I read like this - but figured I had little to lose by trying it.

And wouldn't you know it. The darn stuff works.

The last haircut I had, I noticed when my sideburns fell that the hair was about a 50/50 mix of black and silver. My hair is noticeably darker, all over. I am, frankly, surprised at the results.

I plan on continuing with it for a while longer. (Like a year or more.) If, long term, there seem to be no side effects I'll keep using it indefinitely. I was unable to find anything on the web referring to long-term toxic effects, except for dosages that were horribly high (the equivalent of about a half-pound a day of vitamin E, translated up from rat-size) and nothing on it's effects on hair. So, I'll keep trying it for a while.

One other recommendation was including soy in your diet. So the other day when I was at Kroger getting some vegetables and mushrooms I picked up some 'delicious' soy 'salisbury steaks'. They were low-fat, almost no-fat. I heated them up for dinner last night and tried them out.

And they rate right down there in the bottom 10 foods I would prefer not to eat again, just barely under live ants and right above sea-urchin sushi. Apparently, the writers of the ad copy have an entirely different meaning for 'delicious', that doesn't bear any resemblance to mine. It was edible, I'll say that much for it. But 'delicious'? Perhaps I'm too much of a carnivore to make a good vegan - it wasn't 'delicious'. Then again, I imagine if I were hungry enough, it'd be pretty tasty. I'd have to be pretty darn hungry, though.

And it does make me realize that there are (to my knowledge) very few fat vegetarians. Probably they have the same trouble choking down this stuff than I do - only they're forced to by their convictions. I don't have that reason - and will cheerfully leave all the 'salisbury steaks' made to them.


It was a rather explosive weekend - Aaron turned 4 on Saturday (which is strange - I still think he should only be about a year old at this point) and yesterday we had a fine Mother's Day brunch at the Georgian Club courtesy of my brother-in-law, who is rather high in the food chain at GE. (Not high enough to get me a job with GE since I don't know anything about power generation systems, but pretty high nonetheless).

Aaron got some Superman jammies for his birthday - and they're now pretty much his favorite clothes. Yesterday I was able to find a copy of the Max Fliescher Superman cartoons for him - and he was mildly interested. So we went outside and played with waterguns for a while...


Ran across this at Live from the WTC - apparently Stephen Ambrose has lung cancer.

Having read a lot of his work, and garnered an appreciation of what Sue's and my father went through in WW2, about all I can come up with is a heartfelt "Oh, hell. Not him..."



Friday, May 10
The Stupid Store

Every so often, you run across a site that's...




You know, this is one of those sites. Check it out! Take a look at their 'worst seller'. And the top ten items.



Thursday, May 9
From the Glossary of Islamic Terms and Concepts

Kufr: to show ungratefulness to Allah and not to believe in Him and His religion.

Bay'a(h): it is an oath of allegiance. To make a pledge.

The Conflict Between the Democratic System and the Ruling System in Islam
The democratic system conflicts with the Islamic system in the fundamentals as well as the branches. It is not a proper to equate both systems if there exist some similarities between them. Since democracy is kufr and Islam is belief. The term "Democracy" or any of its meanings was not used by the Islamic State that continued in its implementation of Islam for thirteen centuries.

In the absence of the system of Islam, people started seeing a democratic system as opposed to dictatorship and military systems. Naturally, people chose the democratic system over the oppressing ones; while all of them are systems of kufr. When we say no to democracy we do not mean yes to oppressive, dictatorial systems. Rather, we mean the Islamic system which is mercy to mankind, revealed from the most Merciful the most Compassionate. However, if certain processes in the Islamic system, such as the election of the Khalifah thereby giving him the bay'a, are similar to the election of a public official in a democratic system, we should not conclude that democracy is part of Islam.

We see the mercy to mankind that Islam forcefully brings. We see the hatred it spouts against Israel and the US. We see the troubles it's causing in Maylasia.

This is an interesting little article which compares Islam and Democracy. Also, there's a neat little link to Traitors - which includes (of all people) Kemal Attaturk, who basically dragged Turkey into the 20th Century. When at the end of the First World War he got into political power and stabilized Turkey...

Invitations from diplomats now overwhelmed him urging him to become their champion of the East against the West. To the Arab statesmen he replied in the State Assembly: "I am neither a believer in a federation of all the nations of Islam nor even in a league of all the Turkish peoples under Soviet rule. My only aim is to safeguard the independence of Turkey within its natural frontiers--not to revive the Ottoman or any other Empire. Away with dreams and shadows! They have cost us dear in the past!"

To the Communist delegations seeking his support he expressed himself even more bluntly: "There are no oppressors nor any oppressed. There are only those who allow themselves to be oppressed. The Turks are not among these. The Turks can look after themselves. Let others do the same. We have- but one principle-to see all problems through Turkish eyes and guard Turkish national interests." *
* The Grey Wolf, H. G. Armstrong, Capricorn Books, New York, 1961

Mustafa Kemal Pasha's declared policy was to make Turkey within its natural frontiers a small, compact nation and, above all, a prosperous, modern state respected by all the other nations of the world. He was so convinced that he and he alone was qualified to accomplish this task that he claimed: "I am Turkey! To destroy me is to destroy Turkey!" *
* The Grey Wolf, op.cit., p.227.

No sooner had he assumed power than he made bold to declare that he would destroy every vestige of Islam in the life of the Turkish nation. Only when the authority of Islam was utterly eliminated could Turkey "progress" into a respected, modern nation. He made speech after public speech fearlessly and brazenly attacking Islam and all Islam stands for:

"For nearly five hundred years, these rules and theories of an Arab Shaikh and the interpretations of generations of lazy and good-for-nothing priests have decided the civil and criminal law of Turkey. They have decided the form of the Constitution, the details of the lives of each Turk, his food, his hours of rising and sleeping the shape of his clothes, the routine of the midwife who produced his children, what he learned in his schools, his customs, his thoughts-even his most intimate habits. Islam-this theology of an immoral Arab-is a dead thing. Possibly it might have suited tribes in the desert. It is no good for modern, progressive state. God's revelation! There is no God! These are only the chains by which the priests and bad rulers bound the people down. A ruler who needs religion is a weaklings. No weaklings should rule!" *
* The Grey Wolf, pp. 199-200

When Abdul Majid was elected as Khalifa, Mustafa Kemal Pasha refused to allow the full traditional ceremony to be performed. When the Assembly met to discuss the matter, Mustafa Kemal cut the debate short: "The Khalifa has no power or position except as a nominal figurehead." When Abdul Majid wrote a petition for an increase in his allowance, Mustafa Kemal replied thus: "The Khalifate, your office is no more than an historical relic. It has no justification for existence. It is a piece of impertinence that you should dare write to any of my secretaries!"
* The Grey Wolf, op.cit., p.201

"It is no good for modern, progressive state."

And looking at the hard-core Islamic states in the ME, it's clear he had that one pegged. And that, oddly enough, saddens me considerably. It's pretty easy to get folks content with their lot in life, when they have no other choice and they have no knowledge of other choices. And it looks to me like Islam is dedicated to taking away that choice - or at least the hard-core sects are. Long-term, it remains to be seen how it plays out with the influence of modern communications and against a technologically progressive world society - but the more the hard-core Islamic countries fall behind the power curve, the angrier they are going to get at their own failure to progress. And because they are doing the right thing (according to their religion) there must be a reason why they are failing to progress. That reason will be the rest of the world that doesn't believe in Islam.

And that will have to be corrected. Modernization is not an option.


Wednesday, May 8
Sluggy Freelance © 2002 Peter Abrams
Bun-Bun - the rabbit with an attitude.

NEVER use the N-word around him. (Go back about 5-10 strips.)

J. - Israeli security cabinet OKs retaliation for Tuesday bombing - May 8, 2002
Israel's security cabinet early Thursday authorized Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to retaliate for a suicide bombing at a billiard hall that killed 15 people, but no specifics were disclosed.

Sharon convened an emergency Cabinet meeting late Wednesday at Ben Gurion Airport upon his return from Washington. Sharon cut short a visit to the U.S. capital following the Tuesday bombing in Rishon Letzion, a coastal town about 15 miles south of Tel Aviv, which occurred while he was meeting with President Bush.
Is it just me, or do the Palestinians seem to be their own worst enemy? It's like they're masochists - they do things that they KNOW will get the Israeli army down on them like a quarter-ton of bricks (They are a long way from getting the full ton, as Jenin showed - initial inflated media reports to the contrary) and get HAmas blasted. Yet they think they're winning?

They've got to be masochists. That's the only explanation I can think of. Because their homicide bombers aren't getting the results they want. (Unless they're TRYING to get pounded.)


Nestle, Hershey, Mars, others are named in toxic-metals suit
THE AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL Safety Institute alleges that Hershey Foods Corp., Kraft Foods Inc., and Nestle SA’s Nestle USA Inc. unit are exposing their customers, especially children, to the toxic metals. Also named were Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Inc. and privately held Mars Inc. and See’s Candies Inc.
I note a couple of things missing from this article.

One - any quantitative listings of the heavy metals supposedly found in the chocolates.

Two - no listing by MSNBC of the acceptable levels of those contaminants.

I did a quick Google search, and found nothing solid. One site I found mentioned that if someone were to eat a kilo of dark chocolate a week, it would double their normal dietary intake of cadmium. This looks to me like a non-issue.

Break out the hot cocoa!

Star Wars Episode II — Attack of the Clones finally got its press screening yesterday afternoon. The anticipation level was high, what with Spider-Man breaking box-office records this past weekend.
Star Wars is the franchise of franchises. People are fanatic about it. There's almost no way to live up to the expectations.
And, naturally, the critics don't think much of it.

I won't see it the first day - but we'll definitly see it. I know Lucas was saying years ago that there were 9 segments altogether - but honestly, I don't want to wait an additional 15 years before he starts up with an after "Return of the Jedi" story.

As it is, I'm looking forward to seeing Master Yoda at his prime. Obviously, the swamps of Dagoba were not good for him...


Sunday, May 5
STScI- PR02-11: Hubble's Advanced Camera Unveils a Panoramic New View of the Universe
Faraway Galaxies Provide a Stunning "Wallpaper" Backdrop for a Runaway Galaxy
Four images.

Four slices of the beauty of the cosmos. Brought to you via the wonder of the Internet and the Hubble Space Telescope.

And when you examine these, take a look at the tiniest smears of light in the background. Those are galaxies. Each with billions of stars. Each with billions of worlds - and then tell me we're alone in the universe, that Earth is the only possible habitable planet.

UGC 10214
The Cone Nebula
The Omega Nebula
NGC 4676 - The Mice



Odd thought - I've got Office 2000 out here. For an Office Assistant I've got the F1 robot selected. He's kind of cute, not very annoying, and occasionally blows up when you exit your Office application. (Which, I suppose, could be seen as a metaphor for Office in general.)

I've got several rosters I keep up - and today I noticed when I've got the "Find" or 'Find and Replace" windows up that the F1 robot picks up his feet and looks under them, and will continue doing so until the Find window is closed.

The appearance is of someone examining their shoes because they stepped in something smelly. Perhaps, again, a metaphor for Office in general?

But before you think I'm bashing Office, I'm not. Just because it takes me about ten more steps to take a list of names and toss them onto printable labels in Word than it does in WordPerfect, just because the proper process isn't transparent at all, just because Photo Editor won't open a 3.5 meg JPG for editing - that's no reason to bash Microsoft.

Is it? (Grin)


While following some links, I ran across a site I'd scanned a while back but tried to forget. Yes, it's that little pamphleteer himself, Jack Chick at Chick Publications.
"Most Christians want to witness, but many never do. With Chick tracts, it's so easy you'll ENJOY it."
Yep. Chick tracts. Yurk.

I was exposed to these back in the '70s - and they haven't changed since. Bearing a rather fevered brand of Christianity, it's interesting to see how they try to promote things. They're powerful, of course, and use heart-wrenching stories to get his point across. But after a while, it's like being beaten with a heavy cudgel. And he's not necessarily adverse to misrepresenting things.

They've got one called "The Nervous Witch" which deals with (of all things) the evilness of witches. In it, the two sisters who get lured into witchcraft find the path made easier by "Harry Potter" books which led them into stuff like tarot cards, ouija boards and crystal balls. (See page 20 - but hold your nose. And while you're at it, buy the video - "Harry Potter, Witchcraft Repackaged", only available from, oddly enough, Chick Publications. But ya know, I read all 4 Harry Potter books, and don't recall anything about tarot cards or ouija boards, or witchcraft involving selling your soul. Instead, it seemed to be a hereditary thing. But hey, why should that stop a perfectly good anti-Potter rant? It's got witches, therefore it must be Satanic, right?)

Oh, did I mention he, umm, has serious issues with the Roman Catholic church? And the Masons... he's against D&D (but apparently not against other RPGS like Everquest or Ultima Online, or even ProgressQuest...) and the only version of the Bible that is really God's preserved words is the King James version. Not the New King James, mind you. Just the straight King James. (Makes me wonder if he'd approve of the Bibles in Greek or Latin they were translated from..)

And, of course, he's got some things to say about Islam.
"Islam's origins have been traced back by scholars to the ancient fertility religion of the worship of the moon god which was always the dominant religion of Arabia. The moon god was worshipped by praying toward Mecca several times a day, making an annual pilgrimage to the Kabah which was a temple of the moon god, running around the Kabah seven times, caressing an idol of a black stone set in the wall of the Kabah, running between two hills, making animal sacrifices, gathering on Fridays for prayers, giving alms to the poor, etc. These were pagan rites practiced by the Arabs long before Muhammad was born."

It's a rather odd site. And I don't think it's one of the better ones promoting Christianity. Enter at your own risk.


Saturday, May 4 - Whisper of betrayal as Arafat is shunned
By Alan Philps in Ramallah
(Filed: 03/05/2002)

YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader, emerged from a month of captivity to make a victory tour of Ramallah yesterday. But it was shunned by most of the populace, amid whispers of betrayal. A small crowd of supporters joined him - only enough to fill the viewfinder of a television camera. There was no joy on the streets to celebrate the departure of the Israeli army after five months in the north of the city. Schoolchildren filled the gap left by volunteers.

The cause of the muttering among Palestinians was the agreement under which Mr Arafat ended the siege of his compound in return for handing over six Palestinian militants wanted by Israel into British-supervised custody.

"Arafat paid a very high price for his freedom," said one shopkeeper.
Maybe it's starting to sink in. For Arafat, it's not about the Palestinian cause. It's about Arafat.


The New Yorker: Letter From Jerusalem - RAGE AND REASON by DAVID REMNICK
"In traditional Islamic theology, suicide is anathema. The Koran says that those who commit suicide are doomed to eternal damnation, forever repeating the act. There have been suicide attacks in the region, however, since the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when the Persian leader Hasan ibn al-Sabah led a group called the Assassins on raids of rival fortresses. The Islamic revolution in Iran ushered in the modern version. Now Iran supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic militants in the occupied territories and ships arms to Arafat. Recently, at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Sudais gave a sermon, broadcast live, in which he prayed to Allah to "terminate" Jews, "the scum of humanity, the rats of the world, prophet killers, pigs, and monkeys." Suha al-Taweel Arafat, Yasir Arafat's wife, was quoted by Al-Majalla, a London-based weekly, as saying that if she had a son there would be "no greater honor" than to sacrifice him for the Palestinian cause: "Would you expect me and my children to be less patriotic and more eager to live than my countrymen and their father and leader who is seeking martyrdom?"
The article quoted here is about Sari Nusseibeh, the Palestine Liberation Organization's chief representative in Jerusalem. He is, according to the article, about the most moderate adviser in the councils of Yasir Arafat.

He brings an impressive list of acadmeic and political credentials to the table - but he also brings a very convoluted justification of Palestinain actions. For instance - when asked if a homicide bomber is a murderer -
Nusseibeh leaned back in his desk chair and propped his feet up on a window ledge. He took a long drag on his cigarette.

"Again, I wouldn't call him a murderer in that sense," he said. "I would call his act a terrorist act. I would call a suicide bomber's attack a terrorist attack. People killed in a terrorist attack are murdered. But I don't know if the person himself would be called a murderer. A killer? Hmm. I don't really know."

"This is a terrible semantic game, isn't it?" I said.

"It's not a game," he replied. "But, whatever it is, it's morally unjustified, by whatever name it goes by. . . . This is certainly abnormal, not normal, in a society that has this as a general state of mind."

Finally, I asked Nusseibeh if Arafat has ever expressed any reservations about the pervasive culture and celebration of martyrdom among the Palestinians.

"Uh, no," he said. "It's not just that he doesn't. In general, not many people do who are in a position of leadership. It's a social order, a social attitude, and people who partake of it are spread all over the community: the imams, the teachers, maybe mothers, and then, therefore, the kids. It's not Arafat. It's widespread, it's prevalent in society."
The whole article is well worth reading. It's good to find such an insight into the thinking over there - and disturbing at the same time.
One afternoon, I stopped in to see Nusseibeh again, and I mentioned to him that Abu Ala, a deputy of Arafat's who had done much of the negotiating for the Oslo agreement, had told Joshua Hammer, of Newsweek, that "there are a hundred thousand Palestinians willing to become kamikazes."

Nusseibeh was once again smoking and working his worry beads. He seemed genuinely cast down by the comment; this was Arafat's ally, Abu Ala, not the head of Hamas.

Then he sighed and said, "It is possible you will have this. People are so desperate, so crazy, so resentful, that it is natural to expect more of this. I'd expect more in the next months. It will be a very difficult, uphill struggle to return to the path of sanity. From our side, these acts of violence will be good reason for the Israelis not to give in. The break will not come—and this is the main point—unless somehow the Palestinians manage to develop a new pattern of thinking, a new state of mind among themselves, in the way they act with the Israelis."

He stopped for a moment, as if to consider his language carefully. Then he shrugged and when he spoke he used a curious metaphor.

"The Palestinians have to resurrect the spirit of Christ to absorb the sense of pain and insult they feel and control it, and not let it determine the way they act toward Israel," Nusseibeh said. "They have to realize that an act of violence does not serve their interest. This is a gigantic undertaking."
And may they figure it out.


Friday, May 3
From DailyPundit.Com came a rather interesting little piece... Arab Groups Demand Armey Apology for Remarks About Palestinians -- 05/03/2002
( - Several Arab-American groups have called on House Republican Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) to apologize for remarks he made during a recent television interview about the Palestinian pursuit of statehood.

The groups contend that Armey called for an "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinians, during an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball program earlier this week.

According to a program transcript, Armey said, "I'm content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank."

Matthews then asked Armey, "Well, where do you put the Palestinian state, in Norway?" Armey responded, "There are many Arab nations that have many hundreds of thousands of acres of land and soil and property and opportunity to create a Palestinian state."

When Matthews asked whether Armey believed "the Palestinians who are now living on the West Bank should get out of there?" Armey replied, "Yes."
The Palestinians should get their terms straight.

Ethnic Cleansing is killing off all the members of a certain ethnicity in a certain area. Not relocating them. Not moving them. Not giving them the opportunity to move. Not providing space for them elsewhere - which is something that the Arab states (with the notable exception of Jordan, which welcomed the Palestinians then had to shove them out as a matter of survival for the Jordanian nation) have refused to do.

And lets be honest - isn't what the Palestinians want to do to Israel ethnic cleansing? THEY want to kill all the Jews. But that, I guess, isn't 'ethnic cleansing'.

(Every day the Palestinians just seem to shove their collective foot further into their collective mouth.)

And I'm to bed. Goodnight!


Well, Real Life (tm) is getting in the way of blogging. Tomorrow is a Reserve Day.

Sigh. I hate paperwork. Which is why, I suppose, I've been doing it for the military for so dang long...

Time to head to bed. And if you're reading this past about, oh, 2300 local in your time zone, you probably ought to consider a snooze yourself...


Thursday, May 2
MSN Entertainment / News
Break out the saxophone, Bubba: Former President Bill Clinton is talking to TV executives about hosting his own talk show.
Oh, God.

What did we do to deserve this?


Clueless Comments: Isn't it an act of war?
The Israelis have produced a document showing that the Saudis have given money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. This is evidence, but we're not in court. "The court of opinion" is just that--opinion. Who presides over the court of opinion? Who holds the gavel? This court is only "real" insofar as people express opinions and then the fact of them holding such opions influences their actions.

I realize you're speaking abstractly to make the point that we can't just believe whatever the Israelis say, and I agree that we should have a healthy skepticism. But the Israelis and Palestinians are not equally reliable witnesses. We're talking about Saudi funds given to the families of suicide bombers. Combined with the public sympathy the Saudis have expressed with the Palestinian "cause", this document does not seem to be an outrageous discovery. I expect more from the Israeli disinformation machine--why just make up documents when they can fake a whole shipment of Iranian arms? (Kidding, of course.)
My thought at this point is the Palestinians are pretty much completely unreliable. They shouted about massacres - and the best estimate of the deaths is about 56. The Israelis, however, said they killed between 35 and 55. Score 1 - Israel.

One of the things that I find hard to understand, and perhaps someone can explain it to me - is that no matter how much the Palestinains lie in their public statements, their wailing and gnashing of teeth about how badly Israel treats them, they're still seen as more credible in most forums than the Israelis are. And this makes no sense, unless you look at it from a strictly biased viewpoint, biased against Jews and/or Israel.

Guess I just don't have the proper biases. At this point, to my thinking the Palestinians are a long way from having any credibility at all. First, they'd need to get rid of Arafat. Second, they'd have to start up a functioning government, and start ACTING like they deserve a state or homeland.

And I don't see it happening. Maybe when Arafat dies, their next leader won't use them as pawns to increase his status.


Wednesday, May 1
Jenin 'massacre' reduced to death toll of 56 -- The Washington Times
JENIN, West Bank — Palestinian officials yesterday put the death toll at 56 in the two-week Israeli assault on Jenin, dropping claims of a massacre of 500 that had sparked demands for a U.N. investigation.
Well, gee. Imagine that - the Palestinians were inflating the stats to show how evil the Israelis were.
"Mr. Kadoura yesterday showed a reporter for The Washington Times the official Palestinian list of those who died. It contained 50 names. Six additional bodies, he said, had not been identified.

He no longer used the ubiquitous Palestinian charge of "massacre" and instead portrayed the battle as a "victory" for Palestinians in resisting Israeli forces. "Here the Israelis, who tried to break the Palestinian willpower, have been taught a lesson," Mr. Kadoura said."
Uh, guys? You REALLY don't want to win more battles like this. And your willpower is beyond question - after all, you're sacrificing your children and your future to your hatred. That shows an amazing disregard of basic facts (like Israel will be there, like it or not) and a complete lack of sanity on your part.

Much more winning like this, and you won't be able to stand it.