Saturday, December 21, 2002
I am Robert A. Heinlein:
"Beginning with technological action stories and progressing to epics with religious overtones, this take-no-prisoners writer racked up some huge sales numbers."
Via One man's vote
"New South Korean Leader Demonstrates Independence
(2002-12-20) -- Roh Moo-hyun, who narrowly defeated Lee Hoi-chang, to win the South Korean presidency, promised never to "kow-tow" to the United States, and to continue his predecessor's "sunshine policy" toward North Korea.
"Mr. Roh will have no time to kow-tow to Washington," said a spokesman, "since he will be busy kow-towing to Pyongyang."
The South Korean president-elect has already arranged to have his lunch money shipped to Kim Jong Il each day, in exchange for Mr. Kim's promise not to nuke Seoul.""
"[I]t is important to inject a little perspective into what has happened. There certainly is a wave of anti-Middle East and anti-Muslim sentiment in America. But to put down every action that causes trouble to them to ethnic hate is to refuse to see the reality. Such refusal would mean a refusal to look at the reasons that contributed to the present situation.
The majority of those detained by the INS are suspected of being in violation of visa rules. California is packed with people from all over the world and of every religion, who have overstayed tourist visas and are working illegally. It is the misfortune of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria that they are from the first Muslim states to be required to register.
If, upon showing up at an INS office, a Muslim visitor is found to be in violation of his visa, then what are the authorities supposed to do? All states have immigration rules. Those who choose to disobey them must anticipate that if they are caught, they can expect punishment. Many of those who checked in with the INS last week knew they were illegals but probably hoped that there would be some provision, some official bending of the rules that would allow them to stay. As it turned out, there was no such thing."
Really quite unexpected: the whole story reads as a sane take on the issues.
News I'm not shocked by:
"Juche idea study group formed in France
Pyongyang, December 20 (KCNA) -- The French Group for the Study of the Juche Idea was inaugurated with due ceremony in France on Dec. 14 on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of Kim Jong Il's assumption of the Supreme Commandership of the Korean People's Army and the 85th birth anniversary of Kim Jong Suk, an anti-japanese war woman hero. A letter to Kim Jong Il was adopted at the ceremony. "
There doesn't seem to be any stories about the election results in the South, though several stories appear to be attempts to sway opinion in the South by reference to some of the emotive issues involved (e.g. the two girls killed by a US military vehicle on maneuvers). Basically, the content's as whacked-out as ever.
"14 - The Battle Droid Syndrome.
The mutated muscular soldiers of Mordor turned out to be hilariously ineffective soldiers, a dozen of them held off by a single dying human. Apparently they made the beasts by crossing Orcs, Goblins and the French.
31 Homage or theft V?
The concept of the violent dwarf was based on Al Pacino."
Again, via Spleenville
"- Imbecility: 1 swallow
- Right Wing Media Conspiracy: 2 swallows
- Right Wing Media Conspiracy, Jewish element: 3 swallows
- Jewish dominance of media, or any other profession: start and finish 1 entire beer
- Abuse of English language: 2 swallows
- "Nothing gets by you:" 1 swallow
- Sun calling the toaster hot: 1 swallow
- Devious implication: 1 swallow
- Pity for terrorist murderers: 2 swallows
- Admiration of terrorist murderers: 3 swallows
- "WHO CARES?!?!:" 2 swallows
- comparing Jews to Nazis: 5 swallows
- Bloody Stupid, even for Fisk: 4 swallows
- every time I say boob: 5 swallows"
* FIsk is a journalist for the Independent who's been responsible for some of the more idiotic journalism in the last year or so. He has spent a great deal of time in the Middle East, but some of the stories he's covered have obviously had a slightly twisting effect on him. He did a lot of work on the massacres in Lebanon, so has trouble avoiding mentioning them, seems to think he's buddies with Bin Laden (he wrote an article to him appealing for the release of Daniel Pearl, as he'd interviewed him once), and he thought he deserved to get beaten up by an Afghan mob who were probably trying to steal his lap-top. Type "Fisking Robert Fisk" into google to see some examples of why he's a muppet.
"SIR – Your article on the fire service highlights the key role of volunteering in many countries and the prestige that it carries (“How to run a fire service”, November 30th). In Chile, which has had an all-volunteer fire service for 150 years, the British immigrant community had a distinguished record of volunteering, founding “British” fire-brigade companies in Valparaiso (which celebrated its centenary last year) and Santiago. Both companies are known as “the British” and proudly display the British flag. We need to tap this type of community spirit back home in Britain.
The Smoking Gun, for those not in the know, gets hold of publically available documents, often under US freedom of information laws, and puts scans, etc, up on-line.
Their best story was, I agree, the Enron Ethics Code.
Via Link machine
Friday, December 20, 2002
Unsurprisingly, he thinks it damages both. Contestants are depressed before they go on, with odd ideas about what's wrong with them, and face problems when their dreams of things sorting themselves out go wrong. Viewers are lead to a false impression of what makes for a successful life, and whether their lot should leave them happy.
That's a poor summary, but if you're interested, you know what to do.
Whopper of the Week: Cherie Blair - Britain's first lady fibs about who helped buy her Bristol flat.
"What the Afghans did not lack was enthusiasm for throwing themselves into the task of reporting. Jamila has covered the plight of women forced into arranged marriages, and the explosion of the Afghan heroin trade since the demise of the Taleban, a story she believes the West has been too slow to pick up on.
The reporters on the course said that they faced difficulties in reporting outside the major cities because of the lawlessness of many regions. This was compounded by a lack of any tradition of an independent and free press. Those journalists who do get to remote areas find it hard to report a story because 96 per cent of Afghans are illiterate and many have no concept of what a journalist is. Reporters pretend to be working for relief agencies in order to operate. If anything, broadcasters are in even greater difficulties than print journalists. “We are using 30-year-old equipment. Even the cassettes are old and so damaged that they are not of good quality,” says Moammed Latif Rasauli, the general-director of Educational Radio and Television.
Akmal Dawi, 21, now working for the weekly Women’s Mirror, was jailed for three months under the Taleban after he wrote an article calling for women to receive the same education as men. “I was accused of working for a coup,” he said. “Fortunately I was not beaten. I was the only one.” He said he had gleaned much from the course but, like a number of his colleagues, one thing puzzled him: why had the international press already stopped writing about Afghanistan “and moved on to Iraq”?
He clearly still has a thing or two to glean about the ways of the media."
"We hates the thief Baggins and can thus totally relate to the films"
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Falamir's interaction with Frodo and Sam has been significantly reworked, and this has knock-on effects on who he is, and some likely scenes in the next film. Arwen appears to be treated slightly differently than in the book, though I suspect only for dramatic reasons and things will end up the same in the end. The changes to the battles aren't too unreasonable, and can probably be lived with. But it's all a little odd.
Go see it. And when you're in the queue, mutter things about, e.g., how "this is the one where Frodo dies" - someone seemed to be doing it at the cinema last night, and it's definitely got potential...
""Mrs. Williams admits it can be tough to explain her socio-political point of view to the children of friends."
It’s tougher to be one of her friends, discover her explaining her socio-political point of view to your children, and fight the impulse to strike her in the head with a six-pound trout.
Oh, it goes on, and on, and on. Every year we hear from these people. They’re Scrooges and Grinches in a play with no third act. If they’d written “A Christmas Carol” the story would have ended with the appearance of Marley, because we’d have to spend the rest of the play opening up that sad shade’s spectral cashboxes, unpacking the miseries he accumulated as a misspent capitalist. Meanwhile, Scrooge dozes unmolested; the Ghosts attend to other sinners, and Marley takes the spotlight to urge everyone to sing the new anthem for a more enlightened age. Shall we all join in?
Lenin the bald-head Marxist
Had a very nasty foe
He was opposed by royalty
So of course they had to go (bang bang bang)
All of the evil bourgeois
Used to sneer and call him mad
They never let poor Lenin
Put in place his strategy for implementing a nationwide struggle to wrench the means of production from the parasites’ grasp and thrust it into the proud, eager hands of the proletariat to build a future in which all were equal and rhymes were the forgotten legacy of a debauched capitalist system! (Sung very quickly, with great anger)
Then one snowy October
Hist’ry came to say
Lenin with your theories great
Won’t you seal our cent’ry’s fate?
Then all the masses loved him
As they shouted out with glee
Lenin the bald-head Marxist
You’ll save us from Christ - mas - Treeeees!"
Robert Fisk has some issues with an intemperately pro-Israel Canadian newspaper proprietor, Israel Asper. Asper wrote an editorial, objecting to alleged anti-Israeli bias in the press and to poor journalistic standards. Fisk reckons Asper's guiltier than anyone he's accusing. He's got lots of issues with Asper, but the first one he comes to is a beauty, requiring only the Indy's own archives to start the quibbling.
"Mr Asper, for example, claims that my colleague Phil Reeves compared the Israeli killings in Jenin earlier this year – which included a goodly few war crimes (the crushing to death of a man in a wheelchair, for example) – to the "killing fields of Pol Pot". Now Mr Reeves has never mentioned Pol Pot. But Mr Asper wrongly claims that he did."
Now, Fisk's use of quotation doesn't let us distinguish whether Asper said something like "Phil Reeves compared Jenin to "the killing fields of Pol Pot"", or something like "Phil Reeves compared Jenin to the killing fields of Pol Pot". The National Post, where the article was apparently published, doesn't have the original in its 14 day archive. But if Asper didn't use direct quotes, then Fisk is has either failed to explain himself, is being obtuse, or is being deliberately deceitful.
Robert Fisk claims Reeves never mentioned Pol Pot. That's true. But he did mention "killing fields" in his Jenin-as-war-crime article: "As the evening hush fell over these killing fields, we could suddenly hear the children chattering".
"Killing fields" isn't a phrase that's marked "made in Cambodia". But that's the most obvious connotation of the phrase. And Reeves couldn't protest that this is an exotic interpretation of his words. The article's headline was: "Amid the ruins of Jenin, the grisly evidence of a war crime"
"A monstrous war crime that Israel has tried to cover up for a fortnight has finally been exposed. Its troops have caused devastation in the centre of the Jenin refugee camp, reached yesterday by The Independent, where thousands of people are still living amid the ruins."
"Rajib Ahmed, from the Palestinian Energy Authority, came to try to repair the power lines. He was trembling with fury and shock. "This is mass murder. I have come here to help by I have found nothing but devastation. Just look for yourself." All had the same message: tell the world. "
Basically, Reeves thought there was a terrible war crime, mass murder, and he used the phrase "killing fields". Perhaps the usage was inadvertant. But it's not unreasonable to think that this was an allusion to the "killing fields".
So, unless Fisk argues that Reeves was misquoted, rather than paraphrased in a way that, unbeknownst to the reader, was contrary to his intent, why should we think any the worse of Asper on the basis of this?
"[A]ttacking [Saddam Hussein] will not ease the danger from terrorism.
In fact, it will make it worse by infuriating and inciting fanatics. They don't need any encouragement to blast soft targets such as nightclubs and shops.
But they will find a perfect excuse if they can accuse America and the UK of bombing and killing innocent civilians in Iraq."
So. Fanatics "don't need any encouragement" to engage in terrorism. But it's possible to give them a "perfect excuse" to do it.
Does the Mirror think they're waiting on an "excuse" to launch a bombing campaign? Surely not, as they also say terrorists are plotting attacks right now.
Does the Mirror think that "excuses" would justify terrorism? Possibily some of its columnists do, but it's hard to call people "fanatics" and think that their actions are reasonable.
Does the Mirror think that "excuses" would convince anyone not already buying into the view that "the Americans made them do it"? Perhaps.
Does the Mirror think that terror attacks in the wake of an attack on Iraq would make for great excuse to continue their faux-serious stance? Almost certainly.
Does the Mirror check its editorials for internal logic? Almost certainly not.
Monday, December 16, 2002
Firstly, how can this be tied to the notion of G.W. as an irresponsible cowboy, acting unilaterally to threaten other states, attack their territory, and so on? Clinton, if not an ideal multilateralist (for Hitchens, at least), was at least viewed kindly by virtually all critics of the current US administration. But here Bill is, proudly stating that he used threats of force against a state to get what he wanted with no international mandate.
Secondly, isn't this very irresponsible? At least if Bush made the threats now, they're about non-operative nuclear sites. but Clinton says he made these threats when the sites were fully operational and probably making very nasty stuff for the North Korean weapons programme. An air attack on an operational nuclear plant, particularly one built by North Korea, would surely be a disaster, and probably ignite a penninsular war.
Thirdly, doesn't the nature of the threat suggest that the North Koreans may have seen through it? Does anyone believe that Clinton would have attacked an operational nuclear plant during his first term of office, even with incontravertable evidence? The North might have been worried, but would probably have dismissed this as a bluff, but read it as evidence the Americans were edgy and could be taken. The large sums effectively paid to North Korea under the subsequent 1994 deal, which appear not to have moderated their behaviour, may indicate that the North Koreans knew that they could push things. I.e. this may not have been a triumph of Clinton's after all.
In summary: what's Clinton on? Threatening to blow up operational nuclear plants, especially when the threat may have had unfortunate consequences, is scarcely the kind of thing to be boasting about, or using as a basis to advise your successor on policy choices.
Seasonal Performance Officer
£8.42 per hours (plus mince pie allowance)
Worcestershire (with some work based in Lapland)
Following the recent Audit Commission Report which referred to the existing system of seasonal gift distribution as "wholly unsatisfactory being dependent on aged overweight operatives, using antiquated delivery methods and without a single verifiable performance indicator", the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has provided funding for local authorities to appoint officers to initiate a modernised approach to this activity. The County Council has entered into a Strategic Authority Network Transformation Agreement under the Combined Local Authority Weighting System to appoint a Seasonal Performance Officer. The person appointed will be responsible for establishing a series of benchmark measures using local "best in class" performers and then comparing these with the chimney based delivery system currently in use. Candidates will need to have a clear view of the government's long term modernisation agenda as well as a familiarity with both vehicle based and reindeer based logistics systems. A clean sleigh driving certificate is essential.
Enquiries/forms: (01905) 766214 or email email@example.com
Closing Date: 24/12/2002"
"My first year French teacher, who ws well into his seventies IIRC, was a holy terror. If you ran past him, you'd be summoned back to walk behind him for however far he was going.
However, his throwing incident came when he was teaching us in a fourth floor room. Some lads had PE below, and were talking before they began a run. He yelled at them in French, threw a meter rule at them, and then made one of them bring up the pieces and apologise in French for causing the breaking of the ruler. Nice one... "
Via Tim Blair
""It's not anti-Semitism, it's anti-Zionism" watch Remember Mona Baker, the University of Manchester prof who launched an academic boycott of Israel? She has some interesting people in her address book:
[On Holocaust denier David Irving's website] the other day, I came upon a letter of protest from Herr Irving to Amazon.co.uk about the nature of its advertising in Israel, which began as follows: “Dear Amazon, I have been shocked to get an e-mail from Prof. Mona Baker of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology which indicated that your company advertises itself in the Israeli press via a logo which reads: ‘Buy Amazon.Com and Support Israel’ and which displays an Israeli flag.”
I think, on balance, that anti-Zionists have a reasonable gripe with Amazon in this instance, and letters are a harmless way of expressing that. But why is Mona Baker sending e-mails to David Irving about it? Is the potty Holocaust denier the sort of chap she sees as a possible political collaborator? One is so often implored to remember that not all anti-Zionists are anti-Semites. But not all of them aren’t. And Irving is one who is. His aversion to Israel is based not on political but racial revulsion. (Though it is a little confusing that on his website he parrots that favourite anti-Zionist equation of Zionism with Nazism — because coming from him it might easily be meant as a compliment). "
So. That's all of Damian's post stolen. Very bad of me, I know, but I read it five hours before him, and then started slaving to tidy a house. I owed it to my guests to quote him in full. Go read the rest of his stuff, and pretend you never saw this
Not quite an "if only", but I'd be amused to see it...