Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Monday, March 31, 2003

Arab Street


Just because someone lives in an Islamic country doesn't mean they're Jew-haters. However, just because they live in an Islamic country also doesn't mean they're purveyors of all that's good and true (as the "listen to the Arab street" people often imply).

Iranian Girl update


The Iranian girl is still up, however, and posting excellently. I love reading her site and learning about her life. One post:
It's about one week to the end of holidays, & I don't think we're gonna do anything special; so I'm somehow bored & although don't feel like going to school but because of this boredom I'm waiting for the end of these holiday; you know, these days all I do is following news of war, getting hopeful because of progress of US troop & getting angry because of hearing about anti-war protest...& still I can not understand what these protesters mean & can not persuade myself that they are right, I don't know perhaps I'm getting cruel that can not feel the senses they seem to have, but I think that's because I'm an Iranian that cares about the future & thinks about the advantages of this war for her country, Iraq & US. You know, thinking about every cases even the worst makes me realize that there could be no situation better than this.
Yes, these protesters want peace & try to stop this war; so it seems that they want Iraqis although with so much oil, but always poor, hungry & under leadership of such a cruel man, & so wick & unable to stand against the regime & have their rights... actually this is the situation of Iraqis, so they need help; & who can be a supporter, better than US? Even, if as they say this war is for oil, what's wrong with fighting to take oil from a person who doesn't know its worth & just can not use it for the welfare of people...?
I think & try to understand why are these people doing these kinds of things in streets to protest against the war , & still I can not find an answer ; but I'm sure that their freedom doesn't let them think about life without freedom!!!

You've got to listen to the people who are there to learn about what is really felt, as some of the repentant former "human shield" volunteers have found.

She's also got some good pictures, especially the one in the next post down.

Where is Salam?


Where is Raed ? has not been up for a week. Hope it's just that the internet is out.

Diversity?


I always feel sorry for people who are trying their hardest to make people happy, yet still failing. One example can be found here, at CSUN. Hispanics are underrepresented in the Army, so Army recruiters are going places with disproportionately high amounts of Hispanics to try to get them to join up (in the US, the article says, 18% are Latino; at CSUN, nearly 25% are). Targeted recruiting is nothing new, and it's lauded many of the places it's done (when Harvard sends recruiters to mostly-black high schools where no one has ever gone to Harvard before, for example). The thing is, though:
"Only 12 percent of Latinos in the U.S. ever qualify to attend a university," Rosa Furumoto, assistant professor for the Chicano/a Studies Department, said last week. "Now, we finally have a few (Latino) students on campus, and we have the military wanting to drain off those students."

(Incidentally, for those who don't know -- like Ms. Furumoto, apparently -- ROTC and college are not mutually exclusive. If they join ROTC, that doesn't mean they are leaving CSUN.)

So trying to convince members of a group in a place where they are overrepresented to join a place where they are underrepresented is bad, now. I just hope that absolutely none of the CSUN people complaining about this will complain about the underrepresentation of Hispanics in the military.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

The Harvard Protest


One more interesting snippet from The Harvard Crimson:
As diners leaning over the railing in front of Dolphin Seafood wave two fingers at the train of marchers, a man on the Mass. Ave. sidewalk tries to sell Spare Change newspapers to the passersby. No one stops to puchase any.

This is the same edition as an editorial in favor of the walkout, with no editiorial board dissenters listed on the website as they normally are, so it's probably not just a made-up "smear" intended to make the protesters look hypocritical. What does it say, that a group, many of whose slogans are about protecting the poor and needy from US capitalist aggression, and many of whom were very active in the "living-wage" protests a while back, is not interested in helping homeless people trying to work their way up in the world with their own industry and not just handouts? What does it say that this pro-war person, not involved in the sit-ins and protests to force higher wages etc., does buy Spare Change every time it's published? I'll be the first to admit I'm not doing much of anything (I believe I have a moral duty, which I ignore, to do much more, like volunteer at UniLu shelter etc.; I hope to do something next year -- Daniel, what's there to do in Austin?), but at least I am doing something small, rather than marching and sitting-in and shouting slogans and not doing anything of myself. Like the Tesco slogan: "Every Little Helps." (Gotta love British English.)

Another delicious bit from the same protest article:
Marquand Professor of English Peter Sacks stands in front of a small enclave of pro-war counter-protestors waving American flags, his hands in the pockets of his black overcoat, and shakes his head. Soon, he joins in chant.

“U-S-A, U-S-A,” he says, raising two fingers above his head.

Ladies, he's by far the sexiest professor I've ever seen. Seduction material (forget morals, forget his wife). I don't like T.S. Eliot, but I visited the first lecture of his Eliot course, and almost took it, just for Peter Sacks. He's older, grey, very fit, wears cotton shirts rolled up to the elbows, and has a very mild South African accent. And, what's more, it appears he gets involved in pro-war counter-protests. I could just melt.

UPDATE: Dang. I hear he's actually anti-war, and this must be Crimson misreporting. Oh, well. The rest of what I say about him still stands!

Austin report


Yes, Daniel, Austin's a great city. But I already knew that. It's rather less humid and mosquitoey than Houston, as well. I like the department, I like the city, and I found an excellent apartment just across the highway from Bob's.

Also had another friend get engaged. Class president and football star marries cheerleader. Halfway through her senior year at Rice, at that. (My turn will come, I'm sure, but once we've both graduated and got jobs!)

Comment troubles


Several people have been having difficulty posting comments. While at home, I noticed difficulties myself. From one computer (public), I got a "javascript error" message, and, while the page loaded fine, I could not open the comments. From another, I got about fifty "script error" messages that I had to click on before the page would load, and comments never showed up. Does anyone know how to fix this problem? It seems to be related to the comments, clearly, but isn't a universal Backblog problem (other pages that use backblog opened fine). I can't for the life of me tell what's wrong.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Media Conspiracy


I'm so tickled by the NPR report I heard yesterday, saying that there are a lot of support-our-troops, support-the-government, support-the-war etc. rallies going on, many of them organized by radio stations that carry Rush Limbaugh et al. Most of these stations, the report continued, are owned by radio media giant Clear Channel. One has to wonder, the reporter said, if they expect to be rewarded by the government for this support.

Umm, clearly. Because there's no way anyone could actually support these new rallies, especially not anyone wise enough to be in the media. NPR doesn't support them, so how could anyone else?

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Confused Minister Alert


(also, quote of the day) From the Houston Chronicle:
Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh denounced what he described as the "inhumane and immoral behavior" of the United States and Britain for blocking food and medicine destined for Iraq under the program. [The article explains that they want to make sure it can actually get through first -- and now it is being sent.]

"There are products and contracts currently on ships and near the border and some are in Jordan," the minister said in Baghdad.

He retorted, though, that Iraq can fend for itself: "Iraq does not need any humanitarian assistance. We are a rich country."

Missing Iraqi


Kendall is blogging up a storm about the Iraqi who vanished in Denmark. If permalinks are working, the most recent post is here, and scroll down for all the other ones. Why is this not being reported on hardly anywhere???

Monday, March 24, 2003

Last Post


As what ought to be the last post for the day (barring a late-night stream, perhaps): check out this article on Iraqi (pat and ex-pat) attitudes to the war. Link from OxBlog, where you can find many other such articles.

Quote of the Day


"Now look, that damned cowboy is president of the United States."

--Mark Hanna, lamenting Teddy Roosevelt's ascension to the Presidency, the first in a string of many to attempt to insult (but instead flatter) a pretty good president by calling him a "cowboy."

The Anti-Semitic Right


This guy drives me crazy. Then again, he does provide for some comic relief when I trot him out as a counterexample whenever I hear about the "racist/zionist religious hawkish right." It's surprising, considering how much people on the left know about the loony things Mr. Buchanan says (and the people on the right are starting to learn, and need to work on it!), that so few of them know that he's most emphatically not a Zionist, and rather fervently against the war. One example:
Indeed, it is the charge of “anti-Semitism” itself that is toxic. For this venerable slander is designed to nullify public discourse by smearing and intimidating foes and censoring and blacklisting them and any who would publish them. Neocons say we attack them because they are Jewish. We do not. We attack them because their warmongering threatens our country, even as it finds a reliable echo in Ariel Sharon.

And this time the boys have cried “wolf” once too often.
[snip]
Cui Bono? For whose benefit these endless wars in a region that holds nothing vital to America save oil, which the Arabs must sell us to survive? Who would benefit from a war of civilizations between the West and Islam?

Answer: one nation, one leader, one party. Israel, Sharon, Likud.

Then again, he's old, and he'll probably die soon. Or have a vision from God and stop talking. (Or even change his mind!)
[aside: that article is not as clearly anti-semitic (as opposed to anti-israeli) as others he has written. but, that's the one i saw today. there are others much more clearly hate-the-jews-ish.]

Skepticism on Cipro


On reports, which I have no cause to doubt, that Cipro = plans for chemical warfare:
Meanwhile, CBS News Correspondent Phil Ittner reports that Army doctors who treated some Iraqi prisoners of war, believed to be some high-ranking Iraqi officials, found Cipro pills among the Iraqis’ personal possessions.

Cipro is meant to ward off the effects of a biological attack from several toxic agents, foremost among them, anthrax.

I have just this to say: as someone who has used Cipro, and who crossed India and Nepal with it always in my possession, it's used for a heck of a lot of things besides "warding off the effects of a biological attack," unless you can call drinking tapwater or eating an ill-advised salad "biological attack from several toxic agents" (actually, come to think of it... but that's not what CBS is talking about). Yes, it could be used for that. That doesn't mean they were planning on attacking. I'd bet lots of the US soldiers have Cipro too, not because they plan to use biological weapons, nor even purely because they expect to be attacked with them, but also in case they eat or drink or otherwise get infected by something they'd rather not have.

The Harvard Walkout


Jason Steorts, of Harvard, shares his impressions of the Harvard walkout:
Here, at last, was the immorality of the war made manifest. Let's summarize: George W. Bush, aided by a handful of ghouls, is removing Saddam Hussein from power so that he can put an SUV in every garage, oppress the poor, and commit election fraud. This was precisely the sort of serious thought I had hoped for.

The whole thing is delightfully entertaining, although I'm afraid that's not quite what the protesters were going for.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Lessons


Anti-war can = pro-Saddam, pro-bin Laden:
Anti-war protests continued in many cities around the world, one of the biggest in Pakistan. Children in Lahore chanted anti-American slogans and other demonstrators carried portraits of Osama bin Laden and Saddam as more than 100,000 people joined in a peaceful rally.

Do not drive at night in areas where people are shooting, especially when accompanied by cars full of the soldiers that the other side is shooting at: (this goes for everyone everywhere, including reporters in Iraq.)

Do not believe everything you hear: whether it is what Iraq says, or what the Pentagon denies.

Anti-war protesters are not anti-violence by any means:
Police said 11 officers were "Maced in the face" by protesters. Of those, seven were taken to hospitals.

That's all for just now, but I'm sure there are many more lessons to learn!


Questions


Been out of town, so I don't know if someone's already covered this -- if they have, send a link my way! -- but:

Why have the oil wells not all been set on fire? Why are Iraqi officials saying that the ones that are burning weren't set on fire by them? That's different from the last time around.

Secondly, why aren't coalition troops (I must say, I do like that term) being attacked with chemical weapons?

My idealist mother believes that Saddam Hussein wants to go out as the "good guy," realizing that he's leaving and wanting to save his legacy as much as possible.

I'm inclined to believe that maybe there's been too much damage to the Iraqi leadership for them to do much of anything, but that leaves the question of why nothing happened before we attacked.

My skeptical and indecisive father points out that this would support the idea that maybe there aren't any chemical weapons, and he doesn't want to damage his country's resources -- but admits that that raises more questions than it answers (if he didn't have anything, and had turned into a good guy, why the cat-and-mouse? and would he have had things in the past (as is undeniable) and then gotten rid of them without saying anything or writing it down?). He does believe that the factions within Iraq (Sunni, Shi'a, etc.) may want to protect the oil wells, not out of a desire to see the coalition beat the Iraqi government per se, but because they hope that their own group will have the wells themselves in post-war Iraq.

Answers, anyone?

Friday, March 21, 2003

Bomb France?


In response to claims that the US's greatest threat is now from angry white westerners, David Adesnik perfectly responds:

I'm tempted to agree. But if this guy's right, should we start bombing France? Or would that lead to protests in the Muslim world?

Anyway, I'm a moderate, so what I recommend is for the US to hold off bombing Paris until the first French suicide bomber shows up in New York.


Exactly.

Sleep


Seeing as how I've outlasted not only all the newscasters but also Matthew Yglesias, I think I'll sleep. Blogging will be sporadic for the next week, as I fly home to Houston and then drive up to Austin to talk to the department.

Tired Journalists


It's a real toss-up now. Tom Brokaw, my normal top choice, has gone to bed, so I'm left to decide between chipper NBC and FOX late-night replacements and super-exhausted Peter Jennings and Dan Rather. Rather gets eye-bags, but Jennings' head keeps lolling. It's tough.

Als Baghdad in Flammen liegt...


Please do not cite large swaths of this; just link. This is just for this post -- take whatever you want from others! -- but I'm not 100% sure about the word-for-word accuracy of my note-taking, and, especially as he probably saw it as helping his wife's dorm learn about Iraq rather than a media appearance, I don't want it appearing quoted as an official interview or report anywhere.

Tonight, Mather House was graced with a visit by its Allston Burr Senior Tutor's husband, famed Iraqi dissident Kanan Makiya.

He starts off the discussion provocatively, passing around a "register of eliminated villages." This midly battered book, written in Arabic, contains a list of locations and names of villages that have been eliminated, razed to the ground, with the inhabitants herded off for mass execution. Their crime? living in territory that is classified as being prohibited "for security reasons." This practice, which Kurds claim has cost some 180,000 their lives since the mid-1970s, is increasing, as more and more land is so classified. The book, which he says shows the "final solution to the Kurdish question," may one day be found in the equivalent of an Iraqi holocaust museum.

While we leaf through the book, he explains that he does not think of this as the beginning of a war, but rather as the possible end of a "different kind of war," a war against the Iraqi people by their dictator. In the past two decades, he says, one and a half million have died violently at the hands of that regime, a number comprising eight per cent of the population. Blaming certain unspecified European governments for a failure to adequately condemn and prevent egregious human rights violations, he goes on to add that "the only unreasonable thing is countries like France that have vested interests" in Iraq, before opening up the floor for questions.

Q: the common question about how the US supported Saddam in the past, so how can we justify what we're doing now?

A: the equally common answer that it's not against morals -- rather, it's the opposite -- to try to correct your mistakes. Even if it's indicative of future US meddlesome behavior, he says it's irrelevant if we can somehow help right now.

Q: the common question about how lots of countries have mean rulers and lots of countries have WMDs

A: the equally common answer that this regime both seems stoppable and they have the desire to use the WMDs on neighbors and their own citizens, something that kind of sets them apart from others.

Q: What will happen after the war? What will the US's role be? the UN's?

A: [and this part Matthew Yglesias will agree with] call your senator, your representative, everyone, and ask them to make sure they will follow through with the stated aim of our government to create a democratic and stable Iraq. This administration -- and all in government right now (whether or not they're administrating) is divided on whether or not it is even worth trying to impose democracy on the region. We say we don't want to meddle, we don't want to destabilize the area -- "don't rock the boat" and all that. He emphasizes, "That's the way the United States has always dealt with the middle east ... but now you have another point of view, one that's very reactionary" -- with whose other platforms he emphatically does not agree -- "that has arrived at the conclusion ... that our old way of dealing with the middle east is nothing short of disaster." This idea, new as of fall of 2001, holds that we have been "hosting demons in our midst" in trying unending diplomacy. "The UN is always a deeply conservative force, an appeasing force," he adds, and by its very nature opposed to changing the way member states or other states run themselves.

Q: what will happen with Israel? and what part does Turkey play in all this?

A: He firmly states his belief that Iraq does not have enough or the right kind of missiles to reach Israel, as shown by how he fired in the direction of Kuwait instead. Israel, not being in danger, should also not interfere, he argues. Turkey, on the other hand, has not had historically good relations with the peoples of northern Iraq, and so he strongly hopes that Turkish troops will not try to join in. Air space, support for American troops, is all find, as long as Turkish soldiers are not involved.

Q: what of the much-vaunted "Arab street"? Or the posters claiming that "Saddam was elected"?

A: he does a double take, of sorts, replying, incredulously, "somebody actually said that???" On the topic of the 100% support vote, he replied that Iraqis were forced to go and forced to vote yes in order to get their ration card stamped. While he admits that non-Iraqi Arab countries do have "streets" with anti-American sentiment, very little of that is to be found in Iraq. [One supposes he'd say that anti-war sentiment from such as Salam Pax comes from the very rational desire not to have your house blown up, not from a desire not to see the results of a war.] He predicts that "you are going to see American troops received with flowers and sweets on the streets of Baghdad." He then continues in this poetic vein, while predicting mass desertions, saying that "chemical weapons are a perfect weapon for a regime like Iraq, because it is designed in the image of the regime itself," as it does not require loyalty or manpower.

Q: What are the US motivations for the war? What will the long-term results be? Will it truly be good for Iraqis? how about civilian casualties?

A: "If anybody is going to die it is going to be Iraqis, and they want this war." He does not believe the US is truly driven by a desire to make the world happy and friendly and other such idealist utopian ideas, but he does feel that there is a fortuitous "coincidence of interests" in this instance, in that US desires for national security can lead to freedom and democracy for Iraqis. "This war is not about oil," he makes clear, pointing out that the US can buy as much oil as it likes from anyone who has it, no matter which despot or democracy is selling it. What the US's worry is, is that September 11 raised the bar on terrorism attacks, so that now someone has to surpass that to count as a terrorist, and therefore anyone who is providing the means for interested persons to do that must be stopped. That is clearly not an argument for the US to do great nation-building in the short term, but rather just an argument for disarmament; there needs to be enough pressure for the US to provide the framework for democracy as well.

Q: What of the detention of asylum seekers, the interviews of Iraqi Americans, and so forth?

A: He says that it is terrible, and probably a product of paranoia and "Tom Ridge's excessive zeal." He has no problems with voluntary interviews, though, and sees them as a crucial way to find out about any possible Iraq-placed saboteurs about whom the volunteer interviewees might know.

Q: the common question about whether or not Iraq even has WMDs -- because you can claim any country has WMDs, and pay off some "witnesses" to claim they've seen them.

A: "Yesterday, they fired scud missiles that they claimed they did not have." You can claim that any country has hidden WMDs, Iraq actually has an unarguable record of actually using them. Blix couldn't find them because he didn't know -- and couldn't be told -- where to look. "The illusion was created in people's minds that the inspection process could actually work. I put it to you, it will never work," he replies, quite forcefully.

Q: what about damaging US-mideast relations? when and how will they be rebuilt?

A: He says they are already being rebuilt, even as the war has just started, with Egypt, Jordan, and other countries making overtures to the US. They know what happened after the last Gulf War; they know they will end up wanting to be on the side of the US. "The much-touted Arab street is going to be a total fizzle." He also predicts that the US will not only engage in reconstruction itself, but will also get the Iraqi army to help out, "which will be a nice change for them, after eliminating villages!" There are Iraqis working on it already, planning out how the pretty much ground-up construction of a functioning society will work. It is a difficult task, because the Ba'ath party is "a truly modern, totalitarian type of structure." You have to be a Party member to join much of anything, and it is "systematically destroying the society" in order to prevent any rebellion.

Q: after war, what?

A: Reconstruction. The interim Iraqi government will gradually take over authority from the US armed forces, dismantle the Republican Guard, winnow out the undesirable Party members, and create a government heavily involving the members of the London Conference of Iraqi Dissidents.

Q: are there worries about factions within the country, as has been seen in Afghanistan?

A: Yes, as well as in the US government. The Pentagon is purely focused on disarmament, but the CIA and the State Department both want reconstruction and nation-building. One big fear is that the US will achieve its own aims and leave before the Iraqi aims are met.

And that's all, folks.
In an ironic contrast to that last statement, though, a UN person was just on ABC expressing fears that the US will not leave once having achieved its own aims, but rather will want to stick around and control things. Well, we'll see what happens, and who gets their wishes carried out. Trusting Makiya to have been correct, I hope the Iraqis get their wishes, regardless of either the US or the UN. (Clearly, if he is not correct, and all of them want to be gassed while taking out the US, I will change my wish.)

Thursday, March 20, 2003

BBC Blog


This is a site not to miss: Reporters' Log: War in Iraq.

Alternate Views


My very sensible suitemates, the mildly-left Beekeeper and the rather apolitical (as far as I can tell) Houstonian, joined me at the below-mentioned speech. After a rousing and uncompromising pro-war talk by an Iraqi, they felt a desire to hear from a knowledgeable person with an alternate viewpoint. So, I direct them over to Salam Pax, for someone who lives in Baghdad, is not in favor of the Party, is not enamored of the US, and doesn't much want to be blown up. (May God protect him and his family.)

On Iraq


Attended a fascinating talk in my dorm this evening, about which I will blog later. First off, though, two articles that were on the table to be read by people at the discussion:
Pro-war: Here
Anti-war: Here
Anyone offer to analyze either one?

"Boston's News Station"


Here is the link to the 7 news clip. (Opens directly in Windows Media.) That's me, walking along at the right of the screen, if you want to see vaguely what I look like (sorry, that's all you're getting). I kind of wish I'd pointed out to her that it wasn't the anti-war protest -- I'm pretty sure it was a live feed. Nice shots of "Pfuck the river" and "Quincy House" posters, along with some house flags and many t-shirts.

Not Iraq


Bad news out of Cuba.

What goes around...


Check out this picture.

New Blog


Phil Carter's got a nice blog. Headline, quote, analysis. I like his style.

Harvard Students Deny Themselves Education in Solidarity with Baghdad


Or something like that.
Then again, there's the teachers who think it's fine when you walk out on your class (no redactions; the teacher sent the mail out openly):
Dear Students of Gov 1750,

As you may know, a campus-wide walkout protesting the war in Iraq has been called at 12:30pm today, see http://hcs.harvard.edu/~hipj/walkout/index.html. The protesters are planning to march from Harvard down to MIT at about 1:30pm continuing to the Government Center.

As you can tell, this time clashes with the midterm, 12:00-1:00pm. Because I support this action myself, I will allow any student who wants to protest as of noon to take the make-up midterm on April 3, 6:00-7:00pm at WCFIA 1033 Mass. Ave. However, there will be no third exam date. Today's midterm will be held as planned, so those students who want to take the exam now will be able to do that (and still join the protest right after the exam if they prefer to do so). Obviously, if you start taking the exam today, you cannot take the make-up midterm.

In any case, I want to make sure that every student gets the chance to express his or her political views at this historical moment.

Best regards,

Lars-Erik Cederman

So, "Because I support this action myself, I will allow any student who wants to protest" to reschedule the class. If he didn't support the action, would he allow it? If a student said they wanted to reschedule the exam in order to go to a pro-war rally, would he allow that? Bargh.

Protest


I didn't actually see the protest, but, from my picnic spot near the divinity school, I saw several protesters on their way to the Yard. Sorry, but I have no digital camera, so no pictures. But my favorite poster, so far, was, "Hey Bush! Where's your 'Shock and Awe'?" It's like what Matthew Yglesias has pointed out several times -- you're prepared for your opponents to do a litany of various awful things, and, when they don't live up to your predictions, you're frustrated with them rather than being happy they did something at least closer to what you wanted.

Ah, and, from talking to friends who were welcoming the freshmen, the 7 News reporter did finally figure out she was in the wrong place and turn around to go in search of a real protest.

Grain of Salt


I have lost what remaining respect I had for the news media. Today is the day that Harvard freshmen find out what upperclass house they get into for the next three years. Large groups from each house come out to welcome them, with T-Shirts, celebratory signs, and flags with the house shield on them. It's also the day of the scheduled "walk-out on war." So, I just walked by a reporter from 7 News (the local NBC affiliate, "Boston's News Station"), standing in the freshman-welcoming group, being filmed, and reporting on the "hundreds of students gathered for the anti-war walkout; they're waving flags and signs and seem very excited." I don't suppose she asked any of the students what they were gathered for, or looked at the flags (what country's flag consists of three rabbits on green?), or read the posters (what anti-war message is contained in "PFlee the river"?).

So, when you hear about the rallies at Harvard... or, likely, anywhere else... make sure that the rally they're discussing is actually the same thing as what's going on behind the reporter!

Uneducated antagonism


Just door-dropped a certain conservative campus newspaper. I tend to drop early in the morning, as the antagonism in the afternoons is a bit much for me, since I like to believe the best about people and the people I run into do a good job of preventing me. This morning, I overslept a bit, dropping at 7:30 instead of at 6:30; wasn't too bad, as I only had one run-in. Girl I don't know, coming up to me, looking at what I'm dropping, then informing me that I and "my people" are evil bigots intent on destroying the world. I found that rather amusing, seeing as how the editorial board is evenly divided on war. I've often got the suspicion that the activist-types I run into know little or nothing about what they're spouting off about; it's nice to have clear confirmation.

Retiring


What with the time zones and all that, and it being sunlight over in the sandbox, I've got a feeling the news will be on all night. I won't, however. God bless, all, and I'll see you safely when it's night over there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Uncertainty


Suman Palit speaks for all of us:
The world turns, and changes color beneath our feet as it throws us off its back. When I land, will I still be standing upright?

Pun Alert


I did not just hear that. Tom Brokaw, saying, "they're caught between Iraq and... Turkey."

War


Thoughts on this speech, and belated ones on the last: the main point that sticks out to me is how he repeatedly emphasizes that there are no US designs on Iraq in this war other than removing what is believed to be a threat to the US and what is known to be a threat to the Iraqi people. I like the repeated point (also made by Israelis in standoffs, apparently) that, if people surrender, they will be much better off than if they don't. The process so far -- with surprise expressed by Schwarzkopf, among others -- indicates that there are many things the media has not been given to tell us. We can only wait, and pray, and hope it goes quickly and well.

Appearance


Am fiddling with things. Suddenly, an archive appears, where one was, before it mysteriously disappeared months back. (Ah, blogger.) It appears, however, above the word "archives." Well, we can't have it all. Shall keep changing things for a bit, probably, resulting in most likely a lighter-colored blog. Something with some nice greenish hues, perhaps.

(Hey, don't complain. At least I didn't delete all the comments, like I thought I had.)

European Regret


Go read the International Herald-Tribune today:
In the end, beyond the maneuvering, the rhetoric, the professed convictions, there are questions now in Paris and Berlin about whether their opposition to an American-led war on Iraq has gotten a bit out of hand.

Not only do they have good news about an apparent reappearance of sense in Europe (no, I'm not going to be like the LGF crowd or other righties elsewhere, denying the possibility of France and Germany ever showing some sense), but they have a very pleasant and scroll-free interface.

New Blog


I've just found out that my acquaintance Kendall has a blog, Titusonenine. He's a conservative Episcopalian and very well-read and well-written.

The American Scene Update


Steven Menashi, while not blessed with the superhuman powers of beautiful writing possessed by his coblogger, still ain't half bad. He's got a good analysis of what's going on in the international diplomacy scene. Go read it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Hopeful news


ABC says:Some Iraqi Troops Won't Fight
Intelligence sources told ABCNEWS the United States is getting clear signals from some senior leaders of Iraq's elite Republican Guard that they are looking for a way to cooperate.
Officials said this follows efforts by leaders of some regular Iraqi army units to let the U.S. military know they do not want to fight.

On Bribes


Are we bribing people to join us? Depends on your definition of a bribe. We're offering money with strings (as well as masses of money without strings). We do it all the time, with various strings. We offer money to countries on the condition that they implement certain democratic reforms. We offer money to countries on the condition that they improve human rights. We offer money to countries on the condition that they will support us in implementing certain democratic reforms or improving human rights elsewhere. You get the picture.

Accepting that all of the above are bribes, it's sad, but that's the way the world seems to work. Even my Sanskrit class, in the midst of ridiculing Bush and bemoaning the future, acknowledged that the reason we were "unable to buy those African countries" was because France bought them for more. Everyone does it, right or wrong, so, either everyone's wrong, or it's ok for everyone. It's not coherent to criticize Bush for bribing countries to join him while saying it's fine for Chirac to bribe countries to join him.

On France


So, France is saying that they may help in the event of a chemical war. That's at least consistent with what some of the protesters at Harvard say, and, if it's serious, I'm moderately satisfied: that is, they believe that Saddam Hussein does not have any chemical or biological weapons, and the US is trumping up charges to have an excuse to invade. If it turns out he's got some, they say, then sure, he's evil, and ought to be fought.
If it turns out that he honestly hasn't got any, I (and many others) will be very surprised, but also rather disappointed by whoever's been doing the up-trumping. Then there's the often-silly Bill O'Reilly (I believe -- may have the wrong guy), who was on Good Morning America and predicted that, when we do come across said weapons, the French will accuse us of planting them. Then again, if they actually do (and officially, not along the lines of people who think the Pentagon crash was faked along with the moon landings), though, I'll have to alter my opinion of O'Reilly.

On Paternalism


Some gems from discussions today:
-It's paternalist for outsiders to go into villages and tell people they won't die as frequently if they boil their water.
-It's paternalist for outsiders to go into villages and give people vaccines (esp. polio vaccines for children), because they've gotten along just fine with their non-occidental all-natural medicine so far [never mind that they're dying].
-It's bad for outsiders to enact laws against female infanticide, because, the fewer females are allowed to reach childbearing age, the fewer new children will be born to add to our grievously overpopulated earth.
My word.

My thoughts? While it is aesthetically sad to see quaint native customs disappear, and the romanticized Noble Savage is pure and perfect, ... yeah. It's clearly true that not all outsiders know everything better than all insiders, but it's also clearly not true that none of them know anything better. And I get frustrated with [actual] paternalist outsiders who are fully convinced they are helping but really are hurting (like the WHO people in Bengal who drilled wells into arsenic-poisoned water). But I'm not going to say that people should be blocked off from contact with the outside world, denied access to or knowledge about medicine and basic sanitation, and kept from interacting with and learning from other people, all in the name of preservation of precious local traditions. And I don't go in for moral or cultural equivalency; I think that every culture likely has quite a few things that ought to be changed. Killing girl babies, maiming children so they beg more effectively, and preaching a god who requires forced human sacrifice [well, and carrying it out] are, plain and simple, wrong. I prefer talking to them and trying to convince them why they're wrong, rather than holding them down and forcibly preventing them from doing various things, but sometimes you do have to enact and enforce laws.

(whoa, lookee there, we're back at Iraq.)

Defector Disappeared


Top Iraqi defector disappears. This is not good.
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq, March 17 — The highest-level officer to defect from Saddam Hussein’s army disappeared from his home in Denmark on Monday under mysterious circumstances, according to family members and a Danish state official. Gen. Nizar al-Khazraji, Saddam’s former army chief of staff, was seen by some as playing an important role in a post-war Iraqi military.

Idiots with Duct Tape


Remember the message that we should buy duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal off rooms in our house? Remember the people who said that was a nice recipe for suffocation? Remember how they got ridiculed? Well, from The Hindu:
JERUSALEM MARCH 17. A mother and two teenage sons suffocated to death in a sealed room they had prepared in defence against a possible Iraqi chemical missile attack, Israeli police said on Monday.

The three died because a coal-fuelled heater in an adjacent room sucked oxygen from the room they were sleeping in, which was designed to stop air entering, but allowed air to escape.

Around 5 a.m., the husband awoke and realized his wife and two of their children were not breathing, police said. Two other children survived.

The room was sealed with nylon sheeting, duct tape and rags placed along the bottom of the door to stop air from entering, and gas masks and filters were opened, attached and ready for use, Israel Radio reported.

Children, duct tape and plastic sheeting, if used as directed, can kill you. Be sensible.

Welcome!


The Oxalanche has just about reached the 400 mark, which is thrilling. So, welcome all you newcomers, and I hope you'll come back on occasion.

Responses


My word. I looked through several places online (yes, even stopped by IndyMedia and DemocraticUnderground) to gauge reactions. One thing that never ceases to amaze me: some people (sorry, no links, as I went to too many places and lost track of where I'd visited) seem to see Bush's failure to use Europe-style immature jeers when referring to his opponents as an indication that his opponents don't deserve such jeers, but Bush does. It's not that he used restraint in saying that certain members of the security council have said they'd veto a US resolution regardless of content (therefore making any attempts to work with the UN worthless), rather than saying, "France is being mean and unilateralist" or whatever; it's that he knows they're perfect and he's evil and he can't criticize them at all but they're entirely right on. You hear the same thing about Bush vs. Clinton vs. Bush -- when people point out that neither Bush (except on the campaign trail, of course) specifically criticizes or ridicules things Clinton's done, yet Clinton doesn't seem to tire of doing that to them, these other types respond that the only reason for that would be that Clinton clearly did nothing worth criticizing. It seems foreign to them that maybe someone (no, not Ann Coulter) might just have a standard of decency, and might just respect the Office of the President regardless of the occupant, and might just feel that reasoned criticism is a more mature way of doing foreign diplomacy than saying idiot-boy cowboy-regime. Honestly, it's confusing.

(As an aside: the Beekeeper Roommate wishes it to be known that there are people who disagree with me politically who are not loonies. Very true. But they're not nearly so disturbing, nor nearly so interesting to write about.)

Monday, March 17, 2003

The Speech


First thoughts: good stuff. Shall put up more when I return later.

Change Ringing


For anyone who has stood transfixed on a Sunday noon in Prague, hearing a clamor of bells ringing from all directions in no recognizable tune, or simply someone who has read Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers, The Lowell House Virtual Bell Tower is a fun place to go. The bells are pealing right now, apparently out of schedule (they're only listed as being rung on Sunday afternoons).

It's fragments like that, change ringing in bell towers, Dexter Gate telling us to "Enter to Grow in Wisdom" and "Depart to Serve Better thy Country and thy Kind," Widener telling of Harry Elkins who perished upon the foundering of the steamship Titanic, the stern admonition carved in the wall in the Sanskrit building warning scholars away from seeking the public eye, and the musty crumbling mounds of books in the Sanskrit Library that make me love it here.

International Readership!


Thanks! I'm special!

Don't Be American


So the guy on the Today Show right now is telling people how to behave overseas. "Don't dress like an American," he says; well, at first, I thought that made a lot of sense. I had very little respect for the busty women in short shorts and skimpy tank tops in India. But then he explained his statement, going on to say that you shouldn't wear college or sports team shirts. Has he never been abroad? Has he never seen how US sports team shirts are sold and worn EVERYWHERE, and college shirts are also not exactly rare?

You'd also ought not to discuss politics when abroad, he says (hear that, Oxblog?), nor really let on that you're American.

Then again, I know how livid I used to get (and still do, when I visit) at the sight of St. John's Wood, in London, being occupied by Americans who lived out the stereotypes of the ugly American. Loud, littering, hanging out in noisy and often violent gangs, and entirely unable to hold their liquor. So, my advice: have some common decency, don't yell at each other in public or talk louder than you need to, and look at the person on the street and then in a mirror to see what a basic standard of dress might be. Harrod's, as far as I know, still has a dress code to keep out that kind of people, the type who wear far-too-tight tank tops and cutoffs and will make everyone else want to leave the store. Talk about whatever you want, though, and don't be ashamed of where you're from.

American killed in Israel


Sad story today. An American college student was run over and killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to shield a house. That's a tough situation. When you have people being warned to stay away, being told to stay away or they'll be run over, etc., and they refuse to, saying they're willing to die for their cause, it's easy to take away much of the blame from the bulldozers. Also, when you really can't see all that much from the bulldozer, so, when the person disappears from your view, it's understandable if you assume she's left the scene. Still, it really shouldn't have happened, and not all the blame can be taken away. One of the Israelis puts it very well:
"This was a very regrettable incident," said Capt. Jacob Dallal, an Israeli military spokesman. "We're dealing with a group of protesters acting very irresponsibly, putting everyone in danger -- the Palestinians, themselves and our forces."

Then again, all the Israeli statements express regret and sorrow. As opposed to the jubilation the other side gives.

Save Sanskrit!


I'm always so excited when Sanskrit gets itself written about. Topic: preregistration is being debated. Thesis: it'll kill the Sanskrit department. (Probably wouldn't be too good either for other departments who gain most of their students from shopping period serendipity.)

On the violence of the anti-war movement


Check out Owen Courrèges for an excellent breakdown of what's wrong with the arguments of the anti-war types; check out The Angry Clam for a chilling photo and commentary on the pro-violence anti-war protestors.

Friday, March 14, 2003

On Race


There have been a few articles in the Boston Metro on this topic lately, and I'm curious what anyone out there thinks: violent groups of people, usually just happening to be young, black, and male, who stand on street corners and hurl violent epithets or spit or fists at passers-by. I just got sworn at and spat upon by one such group (farging white Harvard woman of ill repute, would be the tidied-up comment), but, seeing as how I'd just turned in 50 pages of thesis draft, I was fine. Anyhow, there are various schools of thought on this:

According to today's Metro contributor, "white people get their cloud of sacred space around them. It makes them look really defenseless, and if you were a brutal person looking to beat someone up, who would you choose?" The letter-writer then goes on to accuse the person who had been attacked of being racist. Because, of course, saying that white people are just askin' for it isn't racist. Identifying your attacker, though, that is.

Then there's a few people (Booker T. Washington and all them, as well as occasionally even Jesse Jackson) who admit that there is a major crime and behavioral problem in the overarching black community, and that people need to change the way they behave if they want to be treated right.

Then there's the other people, who say that it's racist to try to tell people to "act white" (check Matthew Yglesias' archives a while back for that one, and a loud argument in the comments), because "don't attack random people who walk past" is "acting white" and, therefore, "attack random people who walk past" must be "acting black." I don't know about you, but it seems to me that that's rather racist, to say that total lack of respect for other people is something inherent to blackness. It isn't (and the person on Matt's site just couldn't understand this) -- something can be prevalent in a community without being genetically mandated.

Anyhow: thoughts, anyone?

Religion of Peace, again.


"A Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim mother helps her son beat himself with a sword..."

New Blog!


Lovely blog found through LT SMASH. I don't have time to try to read things, but as far as I can tell he's a photographer who takes some gorgeous pictures. I'll try to translate and get a gist of it some day.

Sandbox Report


Just this one little gem from L.T. Smash: "What war protestors? I have yet to see one out here. Not sure they actually exist."

I knew it!


My ideal mate is Aragorn!
Aragorn


Who is your Ideal Lord of the Rings (male) Mate?
brought to you by Quizilla
(Now back to thesis.)

My Eventual Downfall


(eery. Does it not know I quit years ago?)
Your eventual downfall is ... narcotics!
What's YOUR Eventual Downfall?

brought to you by Quizilla

The Guardian on Djindjic


For more proof on why the Guardian is just plain ridiculous, check out this article, entitle, "The quisling of Belgrade". For some excerpts:
Those who rail against the doctrine of regime change should remember that Iraq is far from being the first country where the US and other western governments have tried to engineer the removal of a government that did not suit their strategic interests. Three years ago it was the turn of Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia.
[snip]
The first priority was to embark on a programme of "economic reform" - new-world-order-speak for the selling of state assets at knockdown prices to western multinationals.
[snip]
But it wasn't just state assets that Djindjic was under orders to sell. Milosevic had to go too, for a promised $100m, even if it effectively meant kidnapping him in contravention of Yugoslav law, and sending him by RAF jet to a US-financed show trial at the Hague. When a man has sold his country's assets, its ex-president and his main political rivals, what else is there to sell? Only the country itself. And in January this year Djindjic did just that. Despite the opposition of most of its citizens, the "heralder of democracy" followed the requirements of the "international community" and after 74 years the name of Yugoslavia disappeared off the political map. The strategic goal of its replacement with a series of weak and divided protectorates had finally been achieved.

Because, you know, Milosevic was really a nice guy (he was elected! we can't impose our morals and our western-o-centric concepts of "human rights" on people! etc.!), and it was all under the US' evil pressures that students like my Serbian freshman roommate (who introduced herself as Serbian, not as Yugoslavian) and her friends took to the streets en masse to protest his rule.

Although, looking at this, there are a few points one normally doesn't hear in the Guardian nowadays. For one, it criticizes US action under Clinton. Therefore, the US as a whole is bad, not just Bush. For another, it ridicules the "international community" (scare quotes theirs), and says only a puppet would do what they want. So, they've then got nothing but respect for Bush, because, they say, he ignores the international community and won't do what they want? Well, no. But it's too much to ask that they're consistent.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

On the lighter side


Some wag over at Matthew Yglesias' place posted this, which made me happy, in response to his question on why in the world HUDS had something called "vegan meatloaf" (yes, I know, Matthew said "vegetarian." it's ok.):
Recipe - take a couple of vegetarians, run them through the grinder. Mix with 50 lbs chopped onions, 10 lbs chopped red peppers, 1 lb. salt, 5 gallons of barbeque sauce. Put into 100 large loaf pans, cook at 350 degrees for one hour.

Voila! Vegetarian meatloaf.

Scum of the earth


My word. I know, I know, I should wise up and become less naive and more cynical. (Incidentally, anyone know how to get an "i" with two dots here?) But still, I'm entirely shocked anytime I come across things like this:
The Jews view it [the Holocaust] as a profitable activity so they inflate the number of victims all the time. In another ten years, I do not know what number they will reach.... As you know, when it comes to economics and investments, the Jews have been very experienced ever since the days of The Merchant of Venice.

Some day, maybe, I'll start saying, "shocked (shocked!)," but I kind of hope I don't. Perhaps a persistent hope that most people do actually act human every once in a while is not a bad hope to have, however often it proves unfounded.

Jai Bharat Mata


Not going off onto a Bajrang Dal / Shiv Sena / etc. rant. Have a thesis to write. (have 45 pages and 13,000 words, which amazes me.) But, to rant for me, here's Reuters, The Hindu, and CNN.

And, to see why: click here. Or here.

Inspector Dead


Josh is right, and this is suspicious.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Save Marty!


There is a petition online in opposition to adding a liberal substitute course for Ec10, Harvard's most popular course. It's very amusing.

Hearst Alert?


Elizabeth Smart has turned up, which is excellent. Strange reports of wearing costumes, wigs, veils (maybe), and casually chatting with the police who pulled them over, rather than running for shelter and help... this could turn out interesting. (Hope it doesn't.)

Bad news from Serbia


Serbia's Pro-West Prime Minister Killed. That can't be good.

Another Iranian Blog


For those of you who can read Farsi, Persian, other Arabic languages, check out this blog, run by an Iranian woman. (I mention the multiple languages because you can kind of understand the others if you understand one of them. Like German and Dutch.)

Muslim Sanity


(not that that's unusual. Just it doesn't get reported on as much, because it's not full of blood and gore and interesting newsy stuff.)

From my email inbox:
During dozens of demonstrations and memorials in recent months, Rabbi Avi Weiss, president of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, had been calling, unsuccessfully, for a Muslim leader to join him in protesting Palestinian terrorist attacks. Sheik Abdul Hadi Palazzi answered that call.

Palazzi, secretary general of the Italian Muslim Association, says it is time for the "world and civilized nations not to consider the Palestinian Authority as representative of a people, of having a place among the nations, but rather as a gang promoting terror, educating children in terror from elementary school age."

Good for him!

Monday, March 10, 2003

UT


I got into UT! I got into UT! I got into UT! Department of Asian Studies, here I likely come! (Still waiting to hear on SOAS, but likely UT wins out anyhow.)

I got into UT!

(not excited. Not in the least. Beautiful Austin weather, nonexistent in-state tuition, apartment with my very own cat rescued from the evil hands of my sister, proximity to Bob and family... nah, no draws there.)

Huzzah!

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Mondrian


A page with a javascript program which randomly creates Mondrian-style paintings. Some are good. Since my brain-numbing activity includes listening to The Wall and staring at Mondrian, this is good.

Statement of Being


I feel like an old bleat.
I lost it the other day. What frightened me - actually, no, what interested me, in a detached, removed way - was this: I’d not only lost it, I had no interest in finding it. Ever. If you’d put it in front of me, I’d have kicked it away. Shown me a map and offered me a thousand dollars to drive to it: forget it. I had lost it, and it was going to stay lost.

The butter was too cold yesterday, so it wouldn't spread, and I almost cried. Reminds me of the time seven years ago (STOP no ruminations on age, nostalgia, time passing, lives, etc. allowed at this point or it'll all be done for) when the Dancer was ill with some sort of wasting disease, her duvet fell off the bed, she moaned, her mother came and put it back on, and she sobbed.

I think the Beekeeper roommate may be in a similar state.

Back to the old bleat:
I went upstairs and changed into the day’s uniform. The pants were too tight. They’d probably been tight before. I haven’t tried on pants before I bought them for years. I just figure, same size. I’m sure I’m the same size I was in DC, when I still smoked eight packs a day, walked six miles a day and lived in a constant state of nervous dread. But I’m not that size anymore. These pants - felt - tight. I was fat. I’d become fat. I looked at myself in the mirror: fat! FAT! FAT as I was in junior high, when I was THE FAT KID! Now I was going to be THE FAT GUY for the rest of my life. I hooked my hands in the pants - yanked - ping! the button shot across the room. Ah! Felt good! Take that, pants! Hah! I took the pants off - grabbed fistfuls of fabric - yanked - RRrrrrrrip! Ah! Feels even BETTER! I shredded the pants - turned to the closet, looked at all the other pants.

WHO WANTS SOME?

Took out a pair of black pants. Too tight! Take ‘em off! Grab ahold! Yank! RRRrrrrrrip! AHAHAHAHAHA

Thing is, that doesn't seem too crazy to me right now. Now let me go off into hysterics. [hysterics] Oh dear, the shaped pre-fab french fries that were so popular among my family back in the lake district in 1995 (STOP about to start that again!) have crossed the pond. We had ones with smiley faces on them, like were just in the commercial with the happy family and clean house and sweet angel-children (not bitter not pessimistic), and also alphabet ones. We liked the alphabet ones better. Our family's expletive for a while was potato-induced, created by the sick-and-twisted of the family (myself and my perfect kid brother): "DING OFF". It's catchy, don't you think? And now my brother's all growing up and I have to think about jobs and health insurance and electricity bills and pressure cookers and first produce a magnum opus that pleases everyone and doesn't misquote people and I can't waffle it because People Who Know Things will be reading it and it'll never get done and and and AACK! [/hysterics].

Ok, that's enough. Shall go pull out a dictionary and a movie and start translating sensible understandable sentences with the calming setting of maritime Canada in the background.

(Sorry about all that. Needed to get it out. Anyone got some Valium?)

"Policing Hinduism"


There's a(n unintentionally) hilarious article in The Hindu today. Saying it's just anti-low-caste prejudice to complain that certain low-caste Hindu rituals involving temporarily burying babies alive, paralyzing people, etc., are inhumane, because high-caste Hindu practices like carrying high priests in palanquins (those chairs you carry on your shoulder) are equally inhumane and anti-science.

It's just like the protesters who say, "Bush is a hypocrite to say Saddam is bad. Sure, Saddam gasses and tortures and kills tons of people [well, that is, if they don't deny that], but Bush gives tax cuts for the rich! That's just as evil!"

Umm, yeah. :)

Thankfully for the protesters, at least some of them 1) don't say that Saddam Hussein's really just a nice guy with the 100% support of his people (they voted for him! "At least Saddam was elected!" the signs say), 2) don't go for insanely extreme moral equivalence, and 3) make reasoned arguments against the war. Reasoned arguments can be, for example, "I think the loss of US and Iraqi life will be so much more than the current loss of Iraqi life and with so little lasting change in Iraqi life that it's just not worth it," or, as Matthew Yglesias points out frequently, "I'll only support it if they follow through with the nation-building they promise, and I'm worried that they won't," and so forth. Of course, you can say that "they're his people" and Saddam can do whateverthehell with them he wants, but you're not going to win any people over to your side that way, really. And, you can say that he doesn't have any of the banned weapons ("BUT THE US DOES!!!"), and, if we invade, we'll just risk the chance that he'll use those weapons (which he doesn't have) on his neighbors and on us, but you'll only make people think you're seeing things and maybe had a few too many tokes. Anyhow, all these arguments have been fleshed out much better elsewhere, so go read other people's blogs.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Thesis


Last post of the afternoon. I hope. If not, send a crate of wet smelly fish my way.

I open the thesis, full of fresh great ideas, and one look at the abysmal draft drives all the ideas from my head. The thesis stares at me. I stare back. As the Taiwanese roommate said, when you have a staring contest with your thesis, generally the thesis wins. I get the urge to translate reams of Sanskrit -- which should be done for class anyhow -- but then I remember that that would be procrastinating. So, since I shouldn't procrastinate on the thesis, I don't do the Sanskrit either. So I stare at the wall, or surf around.

Anyone, ideas for how to stop being entirely unproductive? Several of you are writing theses -- how do you keep your mind on it?

Irani fashions


The Iranian Girl sends us over to a fashion magazine. By far my favorite is this picture, of some sort of kurta over ... bellbottom jeans. Excellent.

You see that a lot in Bombay -- a choli and jeans, among Indians, or a t-shirt and lehenga, among tourists. Fusion fashions, like fusion food and music, make me happy. (Fusion people, too, as it were.)

You're offended! Don't try to tell me you're not offended!


Further in the saga of well-meaning liberals (giving them the benefit of the doubt here -- I'm sure they think they're being helpful and sensitive, and not really trying to stir up racial unrest or anything of the sort, much like the British with religious difficulties in India) who tell people what they should be offended by:
The Sun reports:
A SCHOOL has banned the Three Little Pigs story from classes — in case it offends Muslims.
All other tales about porkers, including Babe, have been removed.
The school insists any talk of pigs is offensive to Muslims who make up 60 per cent of the 250 pupils.
But leading Muslims yesterday said there is nothing in their religious rules to stop children READING about pigs.

(also from Tongue Tied.)

Racism in the eye of the non-beholders


No analysis of this, so just reprinting the whole bit, from Tongue Tied:
Civil rights and anti-war groups in Miami are hopping mad over a Miami Beach scuffle, claiming the fight between a local teen and an Iraqi immigrant was a racially motivated hate crime, reports the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. The fight erupted outside a local towing company after Nasseer Idrisi refused to pay a $110 fine to get his car back, saying it had been illegally towed. When Idrisi began yelling in Arabic, a 16-year-old boy unloaded on him. The teen was arrested and charged with aggravated battery.
The Miami Coalition Against the War quickly called a news conference to decry "the apparent anti-immigrant and racist nature of the attack." March for Justice said it was going to march in front of the towing company.
The victim won't be marching, though. "My personal opinion is that it wasn't racially motivated," Idrisi said.
The protesters don’t care. "It doesn't matter what Nasseer believes," said Nidal Sakr of March for Justice. "It is for a judge and jury to decide."

That's just amazing. Even worse than the story I heard recently from a friend at another school; apparently, she and her boyfriend, who are regularly sleeping together, had sex after a party; her flatmate pointed out that, since she had had a few drinks (even though he had too and both wanted to and neither regretted having sex), she ought to report him for rape. Wow.

Ads


I enjoy Blogger's method of looking at text on your page and guessing what kind of ads to show. Mainly because I keep running ads for "Courreges perfume." Ahh, the fresh sweet essence of Rice Republicans?

Thursday, March 06, 2003

The Skyline


Thesising does odd things to people. I'm not sleeping, and my beloved espresso maker (gift from the Taiwanese roommate) is brewing constantly; the regular coffeepot is working too, and I just spent quite a while in contemplation of my Chock full o' Nuts coffee can. It's still got the old NYC skyline on it. "Friends" changed their NYC establishing shot, but I think that was done a while before it all went down. Wonder if Chock full o' Nuts is going to change their image. I hope not.

UPDATE:According to a quick glance at their website, the logo at the top of the screen has changed and no longer includes the twin towers. The can design hasn't changed, though, as you can see lower down the screen.

On Harvard


Been asked whether or not it's really like this at Harvard, whether or not I seek it out. So yes: I am presenting a biased perspective. In the same way that the police log only reports when people do bad things, or are accused of doing bad things, and not when they don't do bad things. When I come across something here that's not being covered elsewhere (for an example of something covered elsewhere: our lovely obscene snow-statue), I'll put it up. The average person here won't come across that daily, but they'll be aware that it exists. People like me who are idiotic enough to join in when dining hall conversation turns to politics, or be on various group and house open email lists, will come across a lot more of it. So will people like me who take classes with teachers who find it funny to ridicule -- quite literally, and often personally --southerners or conservatives or Baptists or say that Roman Catholics in general are given to feeling up young boys. A chem-major roommate with no political interests manages to come across it hardly ever. So, in short, I'm not making anything up (well, except to the extent that "a few days back" is making things up when it really occurred "yesterday," and so forth), but it is possible to be at Harvard and avoid political discussions and classes and never read the Crimson and thereby generally stay free of antagonism.
The InstaPundit (just add water?) would point out that it's apparently worse in Canada.
UPDATE: Should be read as "avoid political discussions and political classes." Being at Harvard and avoiding classes in general is rather more difficult, if one wants to be a student. Sorry about confusion.

The Thesis


That which is slowly eating me alive, rather painfully. I am a Sanskrit concentrator, which, for people at most other schools, means that I am a South Asian Studies major. My thesis is on the Mar Thoma Church in America, focusing mainly on the two huge churches in Houston, Trinity and Immanuel. The Mar Thoma Church is the Protestant-style branch of the Indian Orthodox Church, which dates itself back to the year 52 and a visit by the apostle Thomas. More broadly, my thesis is about immigrants, second generation identity, being a racial minority within the country's majority religion, and being a generally despised religious minority within an ethnic group. I think it's fun, but it takes time. And makes me grumpy, which my roommates don't appreciate.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

"Shut up you minion, you (U.S.) agent, you monkey."


These are the words from Iraq to Kuwait at the Islamic Summit. Minions. Mmm. :)
(And I love serious and sensible politicians, don't you?)

Christians and Jews


Should elaborate on my moderately pro-Israel (and strongly anti-anti-Israel) positions. I keep hearing that the only reason Christians would be such fools as to support such an evil country as Israel and such an evil group as the Jews is that they have an eschatological need for the nation of Israel to take a certain form before the end times when 144,000 Jews in Israel will be converted, blood will flow from animal sacrifice in the new temple, etc. etc. etc..... Now, I have come across some people like that. A very few. Barbara over at For Your Glory is one such. I most emphatically am not. From a psychological standpoint, I suppose there's a draw for me in that by far the funniest and most interesting of my friends growing up, as well as some of the more attractive guys at college, were Jewish, and I wanted to be like them. But I'm not planning to convert, or to go out with my sword and convert them. I just think it's a fairly decent group of people who've gotten kind of a bad rap and should be allowed to exist without foreign aggression.

Then and Now


Been reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as escapist reading, thinking that it would put me in another world and get me away from it all. While that did work for a while, now it's working like reading Mein Kampf (a fascinating book, by the way, and one I'd heartily recommend). I keep being heartily disturbed not just by what's being written about (as one would expect) but also by how I see such things today. And also by all the people (Edward VIII, for one) who held that Hitler was a nice guy with some pretty good nation-running ideas, and by those who admired his dang good solution to the Jewish problem.
Victor Davis Hanson seems to be disturbed by the then-and-now pictures as well, and also mildly interested in the anti-war protesters then and now:
In 1933 Oxford undergraduates, traumatized by a recent war, passed a resolution refusing "in any circumstances to fight for King and Country."

It's a good thing many of them changed their minds. The ones who didn't -- and who even now say that the US shouldn't have gotten involved, or that England shouldn't have gotten involved, or (which makes me physically ill) that Hitler "should have finished the job"... those disturb me.

Iraqis for War!


Go read the Wall Street Journal today. Not only do they have guest columnist William Shakespeare weighing in on the war, but their Featured Article of the day gives a voice to the people left out of much of the US media and nearly all of their own: the Iraqis eagerly awaiting a US-led liberation. Asla Aydintasbas writes, "In fact, just about the only people who oppose a war on the Iraqi dictator here seem to be the Western journalists...." And:
Outside Baghdad's reach, the two self-governing Kurdish enclaves here have established relatively free societies. There is all you cannot find in Baghdad--freedom from Iraqi intelligence, satellite TV, Internet cafes, cell phones and a lively media environment. Yet so long as Saddam remains in power, the experiment here will remain vulnerable. There will also be no justice done for the millions killed or scarred by Saddam's aggression. The images of antiwar demonstrations across Europe could not look more meaningless in this context. The other night, a young hotel employee asked me emphatically: "Why do people in Europe want Saddam?" It was not a rhetorical question.

Good stuff.

Low volume


The blog, like Owen Courrèges', is going to be sparser as I write my thesis. Well, that is, I hope it shall be sparser. Otherwise, I'm procrastinating.

In my absence, I seem to have developed a mild troll problem. It's a toss-up between just letting them rot on their own or buy the premium version of comments so I can delete troll posts. For the inevitable "aack! censorship! damn right-wingers who can't take criticism!" shrieks, I should explain what trolls are. You put something in the comments unrelated to the posts, you're a troll. You run down several posts and make unrelated political generalizations in the comments on each of them, you're a troll. You disagree with what the post has said, and write, in sensible terms, why you disagree (like Daniel Goldberg a few posts down), you're not a troll. As for censorship -- nobody's curtailing your right to speak. Within my forum, your right to speak extends only insofar as I permit, in that I have a comments option and, theoretically, the option of deleting things I dislike. You get your own blog, you can make your own rules. You can probably get your opinions across better in your own blog, anyhow (400 character limits are rather small).

Although I do seem to give commenters more benefit of the doubt than Owen over in the comments to this post.

As I'm broke right now, the rotting wins out.

Monday, March 03, 2003

News Flash: Maine secedes from America, votes to unite with Canada


US says it will not be missed

This is just wrong. As the Washington Times reports:
According to extensive news reports corroborated by various state officials, dozens of children of soldiers from practically every region of Maine who have deployed to the Persian Gulf are being harassed by public school teachers, principals and guidance counselors because their parents are, as one report said, "bad people for participating in an unethical war with Iraq." Some students are as young as 7 to 9 years old.

And to think I thought I had it bad when classmates with liberal feminist parents told me my mother was bad for not having a full time job.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Fisking Fisk


A nice Tech Central Station article on Fisk:
At one moment, our self-interest is identified as oil; at another, as Israel—(though Israel might appear an oddly altruistic form of self-interest for the USA to manifest.) But, in either case, whatever good might come from the 'liberation' is clearly cancelled out in Mr. Fisk's mind by the sordidness of these American selfish motives for undertaking it.

Reminds me of the people who come with the starting axiom that there is no such thing as altruism, and then define all things in such a way that nothing could possibly count as altruism. (You give your life for someone you've never met who's not related to you and who could never do any good for your family? And you don't believe in an afterlife? Well, it's because they're super-distantly related to you and you're trying to cultivate a culture in which other people -- any people -- will sacrifice themselves for your family, so it's self-interest.)

I hope someone will come for them


Check out the new gem from PeTA: MassKilling.com : The Modern-Day Holocaust. Because killing chickens is just the same as killing Jews.

Like an article I read last year somewhere, saying that women are oppressed, and you don't hear from women philosophers for the same reasons you don't hear from child or animal philosophers. Umm yeah. The article purported to have a feminist bent, as well. They seem to have jumped the tracks at some point, that's all.

War for Oil!


Hooray for ABC. This Week just had a clip explaining the "blood for oil delusion" and reminding the fools that we get three times as much oil from Canada as from Iraq, and twice as much oil from Mexico and from Venezuela as from Iraq. "After a war, we would get oil from Iraq the same way we get howevermany barrels today: we buy it." There are some things to be said for a company run by a mouse.

That's law enforcement for you


News from Australia: "POLICE have been banned from naming their most wanted criminals because of fears they could be sued."

Newly Useless Idiots


So the "human shields" are leaving Baghdad. The article cites "fears among some peace activists that they could be stationed at non-civilian sites." You see, they went in believing that the US wants to bomb the hospitals and nursery schools that our senator believes Osama bin Laden's been building, and so they were planning to protect those innocent places that Big Bad Bush coldheartedly wanted to destroy. They were shocked (shocked) to find out that Iraq wants them to protect the missiles and military bases that are actually likely targets. Most of these shield-types are uniformly anti-war, and not really in favor of joining the Iraqi military in a war against other countries, so they were a bit miffed, and scared that Iraq wants to use them as part of a military strategy. So they have taken their souvenirs and gone back home.

Then again, not all of them are uniformly anti-war, and not all of them think along the typical line of "sure, Saddam's bad, but war is not the answer." Yes, we've all seen the protester signs saying, "what's the difference between Bush and Saddam? Saddam was elected!" And we have to accept that there are some Americans and Britons who truly believe that 100% of Iraqis went out with no pressure whatsoever and wholeheartedly put all their support behind Saddam. But there are a few who want to absolve him of any wrongdoing whatsoever. I've run across people online who argue that Saddam didn't gas the Kurds (it was the US, or it was the Kurds doing it to themselves accidentally), who argue that no torture takes place in Iraq, that everyone is healthy and happy except as a result of US mistreatment, that they've got full women's rights -- and anything that doesn't look like women's rights to us is because we're using cultural imperialism and saying that our idea of women's rights is better than theirs. When everyone knows that all cultures and value systems are equally valid. But this is the first time I've come across someone claiming that invading Kuwait wasn't a sign of imperialism or aggression etc.:
Another article quotes one of the "shields" as saying that "Saddam was 'misled' into invading Kuwait. 'As far as an Arab is concerned, all the borders here are things that we westerners created and are entirely artificial,' he said. 'The same families live on both sides of the Iraq-Kuwait border.'" So, you know, it's all the same, really, and how could he know it was another country? As far as an Arab is concerned, there's no such thing as national sovereignty, because nations are western-created and entirely artificial, so why not invade whatever areas you want? they're really no different; the same type of people live there too; so might makes right!

(Link from Samizdata.)

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Baraka at Yale


More on the Baraka saga. A ton of comments that are so insane... Just in the postings on this article, you can see a ton of anti-white and anti-Jew comments, and a few anti-black ones (and one both, from Vanguard of course). And quite a few supporting Baraka's "Israel knew about 9/11" theory -- and even some saying something I'd only imagined might be said by some theoretical loony, that is, that Israel actually planned and carried out the attacks. One example:
Anyone who doubts that Israel wasn't involved in the September 11 attacks ought to read the elaborate investigation available here:
www.whatreallyhappened.com/NEWSTF/STRANGER_THAN_FICTION.html
Not only did Israel know about it in advance, their agents were the ones who masterminded it, so as to provoke the war Bushy seems to be on the verge of starting. Most people in the intelligence community already know this.

Umm, yeah.

On incoherent ads and newspapers


Josh Chafetz over at OxBlog makes an excellent point:
IRAQ DOESN'T HAVE ANY CHEMICAL WEAPONS ... But if the US attacks, they'll gas the Kurds (again).

It's like the redone "Daisy" ad, which says, we're going into a war with no reason, and they don't have anything, and if we attack them, they'll lob the nuclear bombs they don't have over in our direction. Silly people. Do they not read the things they write?

(Ok, to give the telegraph its due, it is not the one making Josh's argument. But many people who read it and march in the streets of London are.)

Similarly, over at Agnivesh.com, the leader of Hindu nationalist group the Arya Samaj has some amusing articles. On the Godhra riots: Sure, we were killing people, but it was the fault of the police for not stopping us. On Globalization: Globalization exploits the poor in poor countries; plus, India's got this wealth of cheap labor available, and they're not letting us put that on the global market. You know, the articles are pretty much all like that. I hope to have a norwegian-blogger-esque string of fiskings of some of those. Sometime.

Lesson


After deleting the last three posts, have learned: do not blog while inebriated. Do not blog while inebriated. Do not blog while inebriated. Matt Yglesias seems to have learnt it; it's the least I can do to follow suit.

(Clearly: more tomorrow. In a more sane state.)