Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Oil-For-Palaces Tidbits

Roger L. Simon has done a little original investigating and come up with some interesting information possibly linking Kofi Annan a bit more closely to the UN Oil-For-Food scandal than previously thought. Nothing UN-shattering, but interesting.

2. A trip in September 1998 by Mouselli and Kojo to the Non-Aligned Nations Movement Conference in Durban, South Africa during which they traveled with the Secretary General's entourage and later had a private lunch with Kofi Annan. In Mouselli's view, the purpose of the lunch was to make the Secretary General aware of the various business dealings in which he and Kojo were engaged, in order to get the Secretary General's "blessing". It was Mouselli's understanding at the time that Kojo had previously discussed the Iraqi Embassy visits with his father, though he does not recall specific statements regarding the UN inspection contracts.

It'll be interesting when this fetid affair is completely unravelled, if it ever is.

Mug tip to Chrenkoff.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Frankly Dennis

I haven't had much time to blog, much less follow the Schiavo case, so I've been staying out of it. But I like satire, so here are a couple of snippets from other blogs I follow.

Dennis the Peasant brings us this flash news report:
In a surprise move today, a coalition of Senate Democrats formally requested that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales revisit his memoranda regarding the definition of torture and international law.

"To be frank,” stated Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), "We’re concerned that members of the federal judiciary could find themselves being indicted by the International Court of Justice at the Hague.”

When questioned as to the specifics of such charges, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) stated, "Specifically, we are requesting that the Nazi Administration of George W. Bush and his wetback minion, Alberto Gonzales, reformulate the definition to exclude ‘the withholding of food and water unto death’ from the definition of torture.”

IMAO calls for an end to suffering:
Africa has been a troubled region for some time. Unstable politics, genocide, aids outbreaks, mass starvation - we do what we can to help, we send money to Sally Struthers, but do we really think Africa is going to get better and be a fully functional continent again? Sure, we can keep things patched together, but each day Africa exists is just another day of suffering. It's time we face up to reality and give Africa the peace it needs in a natural end.

It's time we starve everyone in Africa to death.

Mug tip to shooting rockets at the sun.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Rollin' Around the Sphere Tonight

RightThinkingPeople talks science and politics:
Another of the problems plaguing the left is their love-hate affair with science. You see this all the time in the storied halls of academe - social scientists arguing about "black boxes", "causality", the "agent-structure problem", and how "chaos theory" may be usefully applied to international relations. They sound like macaques discussing Proust.

InakaYabanjin talks moonshine and Islam. InakaYabanjin's good Comrade Tovarich also posted a link to The Drovers site, with a couple of free Celtic-based CDs for download in my comments.

After Grog Blog enjoys an evening at the opera:
Now, given the setting, none of us expected an evening of operatic perfection; in fact, we wouldn't have rocked up if we'd had to spring for the tickets. $56 to drive an hour into the country to listen to opera, any music actually, in a large open-air bowl with poor acoustics is not my idea of money-well-spent. But we knew the situation going in, so we weren't about to get all pissy on the sound.

No, the evening was closer to a picnic with opera as a backdrop.

That doesn't mean we didn't TRY to listen, though, we aren't complete philatelists, afterall...

Monday, March 21, 2005

Mary Poppins Ninjas!

I haven't read the linked article and have no comment either way on the topic, but the photo is a hoot.

Note to Aaron

How are you doing, wherever you ended up?

You know, you were one of the funniest people I've ever known. You could make just about anyone laugh at any time. There were times, like at a critical point in a pretty serious meeting, when you'd crack a joke and everyone would be rolling. I knew I should be irritated and get the meeting back in order promptly, but I was always laughing too much to say anything. You know the pictures you drew and left at your schools? Amazing stuff.

I enjoyed the times we had together, Aaron. I think you'd be happy to know that, at your wake, they put your Sharks cap in the corner of your casket. As I listened to the sutras chanted through the incense, I wondered if you would rather have jokes, or if maybe not. It was St. Patrick's day, and some of us had a pint and some Pogues for you.

We all cried at your funeral, and had a laugh as we shared stories of our lives with you, and some of us went to the crematorium to carry your bones back. Until your friend from America arrives to carry you home, we have you enshrined on the center table in the office. We keep pictures of you with your friends, flowers, and food and drink there for you. Each day the staff burns incense, greets you, and prays for your passage.

The Body of An American

The Cadillac stood by the house
And the yanks they were within
And the tinker boys they hissed advice
"Hot-wire her with a pin"
And we turned and shook as we had a look
In the room where the dead man lay
So big Jim Dwyer made his last trip
To the shores where his fathers laid

And fifteen minutes later
We had our first taste of whiskey
There was uncles giving lectures
On ancient Irish history
The men all started telling jokes
And the women they got frisky
By five o'clock in the evening
Every bastard there was pisskey

Fare thee well gone away
There's nothing left to say
Farewell to New York City boys
To Boston and PA
He took them out
With a well-aimed clout
And they often heard him say
I'm a free born man of the USA

He fought the champ in Pittsburg
And he slashed him to the ground
He took on Tiny Tartanella
And it only went one round
He never had no time for reds
For drink or dice or whores
And he never threw a fight
Unless the fight was right
So they sent him to the war

Fare thee well gone away
There's nothing left to say
With a slainte Joe and Erin go
My love's in Amerikay
The calling of the rosary
Spanish wine from far away
I'm a free born man of the USA

This morning on the harbour
When I said goodbye to you
I remember how I swore
That I'd come back to you one day
And as the sunset came to meet
The evening on a hill
I told you I'd always love you
I always did and I always will

Fare thee well gone away
There's nothing left to say
'cept to say adieu
To your eyes as blue
As the water in the bay
To big Jim Dwyer
The man of wire
Who was often heard to say
I'm a free born man of the USA

- The Pogues

Farewell, Aaron. Godspeed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Session -- Nuts and Bolts and Memories

Jason Van Steenwyk, a traditional Celtic fiddle player, sends us to a smoky pub to read a musical essay by Gerry McCartney:
Traditional music sessions can be awful strange beasts altogether. To the outsider, what happens inside that tight little circle may never be fully understood or appreciated. For example, is there any formal structure, does anyone lead, how do players communicate?, etc. Nevertheless, as most people have experienced, what comes out of it, i.e., the music, quite definitely has the power to override any of these paradoxes. But as to the dynamics of the session itself, clearly, body language plays a vital role as, obviously, the act of speaking in the course of playing a tune is not easy - especially for flute players! This gives rise to all types of nods, winks and nudges from one player to another and may, on the arrival in the bar of one individual in particular, cause eyes to be raised, knowing glances exchanged and bar-stools to be shuffled together more closely, in a sort of silent circling of imaginary wagons...

A wonderful read on this St. Patrick's Day.

Have a good one!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Bagel Like An Egyptian

Welcome to Waheed at Afghanistan's first native blog, Afghan Warrior!
I would like to say hello to all bloggers. My name is Waheed. I am a 20 year old male from Afghanistan and I have been working with the US Army in Kabul, Afghanistan as an interpreter for the last 2 years. ...

Out of Cuba (via Florida), we have Val Prieto's Babalu Blog.

Finally, welcome to Hello From The Land Of The Pharoahs (Big Pharoah) out of Egypt!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What the ... !?

Last night I was working on the post Home, Where The Heart Should Be, but when I tried to post it, Blogger threw a fit, wadded it up and shoved it in its mouth. Luckily, I always work in a text editor and copy / paste my posts in, so nothing was lost but the time spent wrestling with Blogger.

It was late and, as I read over my hotly contested post, I realized it could be better. So I gave up, let the ref declare Blogger the winner, and went to bed. I tinkered with it this morning, and made some improvements I was happy with. Then I wrote and posted something else. When I checked to make sure that other post was up, there was last night's version of Home ....

"Egads!" I thought. Blogger not only spit on my concession, it went ahead and posted the article just to spite me! It probably knew I wanted to edit it!

Er, anyway. So I went back this afternoon and made the changes. So there. Hah!


Update: Actually, I like Blogger. Sometimes it throws fits, but that's true of anything, really. Even me. (^u^)V

Update 2: When I first posted my edited version of Home, Where The Heart Should Be, I felt I should add an update to that post noting the changes. But that kinda ruins the style of it, I think. As Sitemeter shows probably fewer than 30 people could have seen the original (depending on when Blogger actually published it) and Technorati shows no one has linked to it, I won't. This post should serve as sufficient notice, and as a guy sitting around in pajamas, posting anonymously on the Internet, I feel I have done my duty by the blogosphere, critics and purists be darned!

Like A Fish Claiming Water Doesn't Exist

Noisy ghost over on shooting rockets at the sun replies to a woman who claims America has no culture:
I am McDonalds and Mr. Rogers and Hollywood. I am Benjamin Franklin and Ayn Rand and Rush Limbaugh and Abraham Lincoln. I am sliding into second base on the baseball field and in the backseat of a 1974 Ford Mustang. I am “One small step for man” and “Ask not what your country can do for you” and “Can’t we all just get along” and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”. I am Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati and Phoebe Buffet from Friends. I am the Ku Klux Klan and Martin Luther King, Jr. I am Andy Warhol and the Lindy Hop and Jim Morrison and Chuck Berry and Elvis freakin’ Presley. I am ...

The US draws in culture from around the world. We bring it with us when we come, and sometimes we adopt it from visitors and Americans returned from abroad. From that and our own unique lives and creativity, we create a vibrant culture of music, art, science, freedom and dreams, which many who remain in our ancestral lands adopt and adapt in return.

America is a great cultural engine burning the fuel of experience from around the world and a little beyond with the steady sparking of creativity in the cylinders of our artistic media. It's a beautiful give and take that I'm quite happy to be a part of.

Home, Where The Heart Should Be

The good doctor is headed home, back to the US, for a bit of R&R after too long a time in the far abroad. Towards the beginning of his post he writes:
Not a day goes by when I don't think about home, my family and friends of course, and the comfort of the places and things I grew up with and spent my formative years surrounded by. But it's more than that. I imagine anyone who moves from Florida to Nevada feels a tug towards their home. For me, and I think for many who serve the U.S. abroad in any capacity, America the idea is still a very real thing, and we miss it. We (Americans) don't talk about it very much, it seems like something politicians talk about, vaguely unseemly and inapropriate. Sure, Texans will talk a hole in your head about Texas, and Southerners might praise the region, and some folks love to talk ceaselessly about their state. But America? It strikes me that we are a little uncomfortable with discussing the idea.

I recall my own trip home for Christmas a few months ago. I love Japan, but my eyes were wet when I saw the American continent approaching 35,000 feet below. There is a certain tension in living abroad, one you quickly forget is there until, at the sight or smell or taste of home, you are suddenly lighter, and you realize just a little bit more of what the word "home" means.

The first time I came to Japan, about eight years ago, I spent a little time studying in Kyoto. There were a number of German college students there as well. One summer afternoon we had a picnic at a famous pond, and, for some reason, the conversation turned to patriotism. I've always thought patriotism was loving your home country, and it doesn't have anything to do with that silly "my country can beat your country up" or "my country has a more refined culture *sniff*" nonsense. I had always assumed, up to that point, that most people around the world were patriots. So it shocked me when the Germans said it was impossible for them to be proud of their country. After it sunk in, I felt deeply sad for them. I still do, when I think about it.

Though not by any means the worst, this is one more crime Hitler and his swine committed. For the fantasy of a "master race," they buried the pride of generations of the German people. Nations and peoples need their dreams, their ideals, and they need a certain pride. Not a superiority complex; that's ugly in anyone. But so is a complete lack of pride.

Everyone needs a good love of their homeland and their people, and pride in what and who they are. Though I have always loved my homeland, I buried that simple pride deep inside for a while and hid it. Since I came to my senses and let it come out and shine, every day I have a little more pity for the people who lied to me about my nation and my people and caused me to think the dream was lost. I hope they come to their senses, too.

Dr. Demarche calls for Americans, all Americans, to rediscover our dreams.

It is time.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Monday, March 07, 2005

NHK Reports On New Afghan Industry
(Yes, This Is A Post.)

I watched NHK's (Japanese public television) Asian World program today about an emerging Afghan industry, recycling cars.

With improved roads and increased need for travel, the number of cars in Afghanistan has tripled since the Taliban fell. An Afghan engineer who had been forced to flee to Pakistan under the Taliban has returned to Jalalabad and started his own car company, AHO1. He employs 30 workers to take old cars from other countries, rebuild them, repaint them, and sell them. The company is just getting started, and it apparently takes his team about two months to finish one vehicle, but they are selling quite well. I'll also say, from the film footage on NHK, the vehicles look pretty nice. I wouldn't have guessed they were recycled.

This little post, by chance, comes out just after Chrenkoff's massive Good News From Afghanistan, Part 10. Check it out for a thorough update on all the good stuff happening in Afghanistan.

I guess this post also marks my tentative return to regular blogging. I seem to be able to manage (i.e., unable to keep from writing despite my best intentions) about one or two posts a week (as opposed to one or two a day before Jan. 15), so that's what I'll shoot for. Still, probably no longer pieces until after March or April, or May ...


1 "Aho" means "deer" in the local parlance. Unfortunately, it means "idiot" in Japanese, so I initially chuckled when I saw the name painted on a car.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Lightly Toasted Bagel For You, Sir
(This Is Not A Post #3)

I have thoroughly re-organized my blog bagel and added a few sites. I would like to especially point out:

Dennis the Peasant, an excellent and humorous writer, and
Right Thinking People, a flock of Canucks run amucks.

That rhyme doesn't quite work, does it? Anyway, check 'em out, along with all the other great blogs on my bagel.

If you are wondering about the "This Is Not A Post" sub-head, head on down to Something Witty ....