Archive for September, 2006
30 Sep 2006

Al Wasiyyah – “the Will”

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The big news story for tomorrow is the London Times has obtained a video made in January of 2000 by 9/11 hijacker pilots Mohammed Atta (American Airlines Flight 11) and Ziad Jarrah (United Airlines Flight 93) at Osama bin Laden’s Afghan base, laughing before the camera and reading their martyrdom wills.

The video was provided, unedited, but without sound, to the London Times through a previously tested channel, and even confirmed as authentic by Al Qaeda.

Isn’t it wonderful that major Western news outlets are so well connected that they have such sources?

The video is promised to be available at noon tomorrow (October 1) at noon, GMT. We will add the link when it becomes available.

UPDATE

video links

30 Sep 2006

Help for Angry Muslims

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In Whit Stillman’s 1994 film Barcelona, two American cousins, salesman Ted Boynton (Taylor Nichols) and Navy lieutenant Fred Boynton (Chris Eigeman) become involved with local girls Montserrat (Tushka Bergen) and Marta (Mira Sorvino), only to discover that both girls are also sleeping with Ramon, a glib anti-American journalist.

Discussing the situation with Montserrat, Fred makes a crucial discovery.

Montserrat: Ramon might not be as bad as you think. There’s a reason he has so many women. (pause) He has a problem.

Fred: What?

Monserrat: After he knows a woman well, he can’t have sex with her well.

Fred: He has a sexual impotence problem of some kind?

Montserrat: Of some kind.

Fred: That’s terrible. Poor guy. It explains a lot.

Montserrat: What?

Fred: It’s well-known that anti-Americanism has its roots in sexual impotence.

Recognition of the widespread nature of the problem is clearly growing, as this Levitra commercial features a new spokesman. (Warning: vulgarity)

30 Sep 2006

Wooden Computers (and Iron Handguns)

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Cool! Now I can finally get myself a PC cased in Goncalo Alves matching the Hogue grips on my Model 29 S&W .44 Mag.

Hmmm. The only problem is: these Suissa boxes are not cheap.

H/t to Cory Doctorow.

30 Sep 2006

Congress Votes to Build Border Fence

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Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.

–Robert Frost, Mending Wall

Last night, the Republican-majority Senate voted 80-19 to build a 700 mile double-layer fence along the US border with Mexico. Since the House has already passed the same measure, and President Bush is on the record as supporting it, it looks like a done deal.

I suppose the indulgence of Congress and the Administration in this symbolic gesture is an inevitable sop to the growing Republican constituency opposed to illegal immigration, but I’m afraid I personally just detest this sort of nonsense.

Building a wall is an ugly symbolic gesture. Our adversary in the Cold War built walls to keep people in, and now we’re going to build a similar wall to keep people out. This is bad art. It contradicts our values and our image of ourselves. 700 miles of brute negativity can never be compatible with what America is all about.

Any federal project on such a scale will always cost far, far more than initially projected. As the Washington Post observes, this wall is going to have to cross a lot of extremely difficult terrain, and cost overruns are going to skyrocket.

The fence, of course, will not work. Anywhere a guard with a gun is not standing next to it, people will find ways to dig under it or climb over it. Since we will have already invested a staggering amount of money in the project, efforts to make it work will inevitably proceed to more drastic and extreme measures, at further costs, both monetary and otherwise. Bad policy of this kind never stops at a single step. Folly will be piled upon folly as the desired goal continually recedes unrealized.

We are a fundamentally decent, liberal and humane society. A wall is only going to work if it features mines, electrified wire, watch-towers, guard dogs, and machine guns. We’re only just starting this policy with the initial wall. And exactly how far down that road do we really want to go? Are we going to shoot pregnant women trying to sneak over the border to clean our houses?

There are also other, perhaps minor, but unattractive considerations.

The fence will intrude on the Tohono O’odham reservation in Arizona, interfering futher than previously with that people’s free movement within its own traditional trans-border Sonoran desert homeland.

It will be bad news for Southwestern wildlife, which also has a habit of ignoring borders. The jaguar has been verifiably sited again in Southern Arizona recently for the first time in many years. A large predator of this kind, particularly in so difficult an environment, can only exist if it has access to an enormous range of territory. It needs to travel from far-separated canyon “islands” in the desert containing water over great distances. Is this fence worth removing the jaguar from the list of American species?

The proposed fence is really just a confession that we have a habit in this country of passing laws (immigration laws and drug laws) which we really don’t want enforced. Politicians vote for them, seeing strong opinion poll majorities in favor of restricted immigration and drug prohibition. But the same American public smokes the pot, snorts the coke, and gets its lawn mowed, its car washed, and a lot of its hard labor done by illegal aliens.

We could have been enforcing existing immigration laws all along, if we really and truly wanted them enforced. Federal agencies have tried and given up, because enforcement efforts have always provoked strong protests to congressional representatives, who time and again have intervened to put a stop to them.

The only positive thing I can say about all this is that it is just a sop. The fence represents only an expensive and symbolically ugly federal pretense at “securing our borders,” intended to appease those incensed about illegal immigration. Expensive, futile, and ugly as it is, it will obviously be less injurious to American life than the far worse alternative: a regime of identity cards (Paperien, bitte! – “Your papers, please!”), workplace inspections, and massive deportations of people who are (in overwhelming majority of cases) just here to do work we don’t want to do ourselves at prices we are willing to pay.

29 Sep 2006

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe -2

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I fell to wondering about the origins of the Eeny Meeny Miney Moe counting rhyme, and I searched around and found the answer in a dead post.

It’s Scottish and very old.

——————-

Eeny meeny miney mo

Inimicus animo is Latin for “enemy of the soul”.

Catch the nigger by the toe

“The nigger” is really a reference to the devil. (Variants actually saying “the devil” are known.)

If he hollers let him go

If you grab his toe and he protests, he’s human, and you should let him go. The devil has a cloven hoof which will not feel pain if pinched.

——————-

My source was on the British Phrases board in 2003, and signed himself Kai Lung. He was clearly quite right.

I’ve used the n word. No Senate seat for me.

29 Sep 2006

A Good List To Begin With

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Investors Business Daily gives 97 Reasons Democrats Are Weak On Defense And Can’t Be Trusted To Govern In Wartime.

Let’s just quote the first 10:

Jimmy Carter, elected during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and (1) believing Americans had an inordinate fear of communism, (2) lifted U.S. citizens’ travel bans to Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia and (3) pardoned draft evaders.

President Carter (4) also stopped B-1 bomber production, (5) gave away our strategically located Panama Canal and (6) made human rights the central focus of his foreign policy.

That led Carter, a Democrat, (7) to make a monumental miscalculation and withdraw U.S. support for our long-standing Mideast military ally, the Shah of Iran. (8) Carter simply didn’t like the Shah’s alleged mistreatment of imprisoned Soviet spies.

The Soviets, (9) with close military ties to Iraq, a 1,500-mile border with Iran and eyes on Afghanistan, aggressively tried to encircle, infiltrate, subvert and overthrow Iran’s government for its oil deposits and warm-water ports several times after Russian troops attempted to stay there at the end of WWII. These were all communist threats to Iran that Carter never understood.

Carter (10) thought Ayatollah Khomeini, a Muslim exile in Paris, would make a fairer Iranian leader than the Shah because he was a religious man…

29 Sep 2006

From My College Class List, 3

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(In reply to the usual liberal complaints about my lack of sympathy for the poor in America:)

The poverty in America which liberals are always going on about is some kind of legendary myth, like the Loch Ness Monster. It has nothing to do with reality. Poverty in America exists occasionally as a temporary accident. (Or as a feature of merely being young and being a student. Students are always poor.) Those kinds of poverty can always be overcome with effort and persistence. There is plenty of opportunity in this country for those who will take it.

The other poverty, which does not go away, is really an epiphenomenon of a much more serious affliction. The real problem is a moral problem. Persistent poverty exists in America, not because of some unfairness in the system, or because of discrimination, or because of a lack of alternatives. It exists because some people will ruin their lives. Some people will not help themselves.

When I managed a real estate company in New York, I often walked through the East Village. I can recall passing the corner of 14th and 3rd Avenue, back in the 1980s one evening. As I looked around, I saw misery and squalor and degradation. There were prostitutes soliciting along the street. There were junkies and dealers trafficking. The buildings were filthy and decayed, and no one was lifting a finger to improve anything. I looked at it all, and thought what a hell on earth that corner was. And as I was feeling sorry for all the people there, along came a sixteen year old blond girl with a Midwestern accent to offer me a date. I could tell she had recently arrived from Minnesota.

And then the light bulb went off over my head, I realized that every single one of these people had come there from somewhere else. They had all chosen to be there. Nobody ever held a gun to their heads, and said, “You are condemned to be a junkie (or a whore) on 3rd Avenue at 14th Street.” There were no walls. There was no barbed wire. Everyone there could walk away, just as I was doing myself. And I stopped feeling sorry for them.

29 Sep 2006

Aleut Villages Spurn Chavez Oil

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Anchorage Daily News:

Leaders from four Western Alaska villages have rejected an offer of free heating oil from a Venezuelan- owned company because that nation’s president this month called President Bush “a devil” and made other inflammatory comments about the United States.

“Despite the critical need for fuel in our region, the Unangan (Aleut) people are Americans first, and we cannot support the political agenda attached to this donation,” read a statement from Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association released late Thursday.

Under a program from Texas-based refiner Citgo, which is owned by the Venezuelan government, that is giving cheap and free heating fuel to poor people across the country, more than 12,000 rural Alaska homes in about 150 villages are scheduled to receive 100 free gallons this winter.

Valued at about $5 million, the gift to Alaska is welcome by people in many poor, remote villages. Heating fuel exceeds $7 a gallon in the remotest villages.

Last year, 50,000 spongers in Massachusetts accepted more than 4 million gallons of discounted heating oil from the Venezuelan dictator’s program devised to score a public relations victory over the United States.

29 Sep 2006

Eeny Meeny Miney Moe

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If you’ve ever completed the old children’s counting rhyme (at least, assuming you’re of un certain âge), you’ve definitely said the n word, and you shouldn’t be elected to the Senate either. So there.

Gerard Van der Leun has decided to resign all hopes of gaining political office, in order to make a statement attacking today’s most notable species of cant.

Hat tip to PJM.

28 Sep 2006

Grizzlies Sighted in Colorado

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Two experienced hunters reported sighting (9/20) a female grizzly bear, accompanied by two cubs, in the vicinity of Independence Pass in Colorado.

The wildlife authorities declared Ursus arctos horribilis extinct in Colorado in 1952.

Not everyone, however, believed that they were right. For many years, sightings of grizzlies continued to be reported in the San Juan Mountains. They were all dismissed by the authorities.

Finally, in 1979, an archery hunter named Ed Wiseman was attacked by an extinct Colorado grizzly. Though severely mauled, Wiseman survived. He miraculously managed to kill the attacking bear, stabbing it repeatedly with a broadhead arrow. Officialdom responded by dispatching teams of learned scientists to trap and tag “Old Ephraim” without success. And the bear returned safely to extinction. Until this month.

News of a surviving grizzly bear population in the Centennial State inevitably throws a monkey wrench into the vexatious quarrel between environmentalists and stockmen about whether or not so large and dangerous a predator ought to be re-introduced.

Some writers have taken an interest in the question of the possibility of a surviving Southern Rockies subspecies.

David Peterson published Ghost Grizzlies (1995) reviewing the evidence, and leaning toward the affirmative.

Rick Bass’s The Lost Grizzlies (also 1995) treats the same question more literarily as a personal, and comedic, quest.

Aspen Daily News

Colorado Springs Gazette

Yahoo map

28 Sep 2006

No Excuses For Terror

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David Aaronovitch, leftwing British commentator for the Guardian and the Times, has become fed up with the British left’s sympathy for Islamic extremism.

He has made a polemical documentary, titled No Excuses for Terror (placed on YouTube in four ten minute parts by Harry), which aired on Tuesday on Britain’s Channel 5.

Good stuff. Nobody can bash the lefties like a fellow leftie.

Hat tip to L’Ombre de l’Olivier.

28 Sep 2006

French Jokes

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From Marty Peretz in New Republic:

France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes.” –Mark Twain

“I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.” –General George S. Patton

“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion.” –Norman Schwartzkopf

“We can stand here like the French, or we can do something about it.” –Marge Simpson

“As far as I’m concerned, war always means failure.” –Jacques Chirac, President of France

“As far as France is concerned, you’re right.” –Rush Limbaugh

“The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee.” –Regis Philbin

“You know, the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who was still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn’t have the face for it.” –John McCain, U.S. Senator (AZ)

“I don’t know why people are surprised that France won’t help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn’t help us get Hitler out of France either.” –Jay Leno

“The last time the French asked for “more proof” it came marching into Paris under a German flag.” –David Letterman

“War without France would be like … uh … World War II.”

“What do you expect from a culture and a nation that exerted more of its national will fighting against Disney World and Big Macs than the Nazis?” –Dennis Miller

“It is important to remember that the French have always been there when they needed us.” –Alan Kent

“They’ve taken their own precautions against al-Quaida. To prepare for an attack, each Frenchman is urged to keep duct tape, a white flag, and a three-day supply of mistresses in the house.” –Argus Hamilton

“Somebody was telling me about the French Army rifle that was being advertised on eBay the other day–the description ‘Never shot. Dropped once.'” –Rep. Roy Blunt (MO)

“The French will only agree to go to war when we’ve proven we’ve found truffles in Iraq.” –Dennis Miller

“Raise your right hand if you like the French. Raise both hands if you are French.”

“Question: Do you know how many Frenchmen it takes to defend Paris?
Answer: It’s not known, it’s never been tried.” –Rep. Roy Blunt (MO)

“Do you know it only took Germany three days to conquer France in WWII? And that’s because it was raining.” –John Xereas, Manager, DC Improv.

“The AP and UPI reported that the French Government announced after the London bombings that it has raised its terror alert from ‘Run’ to ‘Hide.’ The only two higher levels in France are ‘Surrender’ and ‘Collaborate.’ The rise in the alert level was precipitated by a recent fire which destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively disabling their military.”

“French Ban Fireworks at Euro Disney. … The French government announced today that it is imposing a ban on the use of fireworks at EuroDisney. The decision comes that day after a nightly fireworks display at the park, located just 30 miles outside of Paris, caused the soldiers at a nearby French Army garrison to surrender to a group of Czech tourists.” –AP Paris

28 Sep 2006

Idomeneo and the Moors

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People in Savannah commonly point out that Sherman burned Atlanta, which proves there’s good in everybody.

The recent frequency of angry Islamic mobs pouring into the streets, mullahs making death threats, and hirsute ruffians demanding apologies has made Islamic rage awfully tiresome, but at least in the case of Berlin’s Deutsche Oper production of Idomeneo by vandalizing Opernregisseur Hans Neuenfels, they may be on to something.

One can tolerate anachronistic settings and surrealistic stagings, but if some blithering nincompoop transmogrifies an opera’s plot into the precise opposite of the original’s, I feel a modicum of intolerance myself, my own hand itches for a sharp Khyberee.

When today’s liberal cultural elite want to praise one of their favorite pieces of artistic bogosity, they usually apply terms like “transgressive” and “courageous.” It is instructive to observe how rapidly artistic “courage” vanishes and “transgression” retreats, when the whiff of an actual threat is in the air.

Time reports:

Neuenfels’ production, first staged in 2003, is intended to be a symbolic gesture about the dangers of fanaticism. Although the production caused barely a ripple, except to impress the critics in its earlier showings, the climate has changed since then.

In July, Germany’s state police in Wiesbaden said they received an anonymous telephone call from a woman expressing concern that the opera, due to be staged this fall, could offend Muslim sensibilities. A subsequent study by Berlin police found that it could not “exclude the possibility” that something bad would happen, noting that decapitation could be associated with the videos distributed by militant terrorists. Berlin senator, Erhart Körting telephoned the Deutsche Oper’s artistic director Kirsten Harms to recommend that she cancel the show because he did not want harm to come to the opera house. Harms agreed, hastily convening a press conference this week in the cavernous lobby of the modernist Deutsche Oper to announce that future performances would pose “incalculable risks” to the public.

Today, Germany’s Chancellor and Interior Minister, and Berlin’s mayor are all decrying the surrender, and demanding the production’s restoration to the Berlin Opera’s schedule. It will be interesting to see just how long their courage lasts. And it’s a such a pity that the object eliciting the uncharacteristic display of European backbone is not something more worthy of defense.

28 Sep 2006

Nominate Monica

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Andy Borowitz imagines a colorful twist in the race for the 2008 democrat nomination: “A Blue Dress for the Blue States.”

In a development that could drastically alter the playing field of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, former White House intern Monica Lewinsky confirmed today that she was considering making a bid for the Democratic nod in 2008.

According to those familiar with her political plans, Lewinsky plans to offer herself as an alternative to the presumptive frontrunner in the race, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

Rumors of Lewinsky’s intentions spread like wildfire this week, when the erstwhile intern made a series of stops in New Hampshire, location of the nation’s first presidential primary.

Wearing a midnight blue cocktail dress, Lewinsky drew large crowds across the state, suggesting that she could be a real threat to Clinton in a head-to-head race.

“Voters are worn out from George Bush, Iraq and the war on terror,” said Democratic voter Jayson Tenzer, who attended one of Lewinsky’s New Hampshire rallies. “Monica Lewinsky means good times.”

According to Professor Davis Logsdon of the political science department at the University of Minnesota, offering herself as an alternative to Sen. Clinton could be a successful strategy for Lewinsky: “It’s worked before.”

And while some Democratic insiders worry that Lewinsky lacks the political know-how to be president of the United States, Professor Logsdon does not share those concerns: “Monica Lewinsky has actually had more experience in the Oval Office than Hillary Clinton has.”

Elsewhere, one day after President Hugo Chavez appeared at the United Nations and called him “Satan,” President Bush said, “I think he has me mixed up with Cheney.”

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