An expat's commentary on current events in national security, foreign affairs, the media, culture, technology and assorted trivia.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


Harlequin fans beware

This page of reimagined romance novel covers is a riot.


Physics joke

A neutron walks into a bar and orders a martini. When the bartender hands him the drink, the neutron asks, "How much do I owe you?"

The bartender replies, "For you ... no charge."


Quote for the day

Courage is the greatest of all the virtues. Because if you haven't courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.

- Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)
English author


Schadenfreude! Get your Schadenfreude here!

The AP reports, "The (American) economy clocked in at a 3.8% pace in the final quarter of 2004 - faster than initially thought - and is now cruising at that speed or better." The US unemployment rate stands at 5.2%.

Meanwhile what is going on in Germany and France, the poster children for the "European social model" (translation: high taxes, lots of regulation, generous dole payments of all kinds to layabouts of all sorts, officious bureaucrats, topped with even higher taxes) which has been enshrined in the EU Constitution?

The German economy shrank at an annualised rate of 0.9% in the fourth quarter. The German economy is losing 1,200 full-time jobs per day, according to Juergen Thumann, the head of the BDI industry federation claims. The German unemployment rate now exceeds 12%, the highest rate since Patton pissed in the Rhine.

The French unemployment rate just passed 10%. The French growth rate was actually pretty good compared to that of Chirac's gigantic Teutonic poodle next door. But the French economy created just 39,000 jobs in 2004, according to official French goverment figures. And the 35 hour work week that the lazy Left cherishes so much is on its way out.

Friday, February 25, 2005


Debating the EU's future

After seeing the news of the Spanish referendum on the EU Constitution, I thought I would check up on the progress of the Constitution through the 25 member states.

The EU actually has a very helpful website to help interested parties follow the procedures and the status of the various member states' Constitutional decisions. The web page header is a dramatic one: The Future of the European Union - Debate.

There is even a link in the upper left corner (highlighted below with orange circle; click the screencap to enlarge) for an online forum dedicated to discussion... and perhaps even debate!

Click here to see what you get when you want to debate the future of the European Union.


Quote for the Day

He who limps still walks.

- Stanislaw Lec (1909 - 1966)
Polish author


Sneering snob in the library

This Gorman guy looks down on both blogs (he calls the word itself an "ugly neologism") and bloggers (the "Blog People").

He also thinks that Google is not very useful. (WTF?!?!?! Penicillin is not very useful either... if you shampoo with it! More than likely, Gorman's experience with Google was reminiscent of that old Twilight Zone episode where the astronaut gives the caveman a flashlight and poor caveman Ump is befuddled and disappointed at the useless metal object... until Spaceman Jim shows him how to flip the switch and eureka! it makes useful light! Mr Gorman has found the flashlight but I gather that kindly Spaceman Jim hasn't appeared yet to show him how to use it.)

I know, I know, this clown is a total wanker writing in the high-in-dullness-quotient and low-in-circulation Library Journal so why not simply ignore the snooty poindexter?

I hasten to point out that the writer is the president-elect of the American Library Association. That may conjure up images of Miss Grundy shushing you in high school, but the group actually has been hijacked by left-wing nutbags.

The ALA has demonized John Ashcroft relentlessly (hey, I suppose they are entitled) for supposedly using the Patriot Act to invade privacy.

But these lions of intellectual freedom have adamantly refused to utter so much as one syllable of displeasure with Fidel Castro after he brought his jackboots down on the few independent libraries in Cuba, throwing the proprietors in jail, and burning their books.

Don't take my word for it. See what Nat Hentoff (a liberal's liberal who writes for the Village Voice and the New York Times) had to say about the rank hypocrisy here and here. He received in 1983 the ALA's Immroth Award for Intellectual Freedom.

Mr Hentoff writes, "(The move to call for the release of the jailed Cuban librarians) was overwhelmingly voted down by the 182-member ALA council. Only about five hands were raised to support it... I now publicly renounce the Immroth Award and demand that the American Library Association remove me from the list of recipients of that honor. To me, it is no longer an honor."


Today in history

Today is the 49th anniversary of Khrushchev's secret speech denouncing Stalin's excesses.

Did you know that in the Great Purge (1937 - 1938), over 70% of the members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR were shot on Stalin's orders?

These were the top of the pyramid in Soviet society - the upper crust of the upper crust - and their lives were that cheap to the tyrant.

And as each Central Committee member was dragged off by the NKVD, suspicion immediately fell upon his deputies, family, friends, assistants, etc. in a spreading web of murderous paranoia.


BBC dhimmitude, plain as day

Tim Blair has posted a revealing example of dhimmitude from the BBC.

And the title of his post is a corker, too.


They ain't the good guys, vol. 2

From the BBC:
"A teenage girl and two young men in Iran have been sentenced for having sex. The girl was sentenced to 100 lashes... The young men in the case were sentenced to 30 and 40 lashes each. Sex outside marriage is illegal in Iran and capital punishment can be imposed... Under Iranian law, girls over the age of nine and boys over 16 face the death penalty for crimes such as rape and murder, while capital punishment can be imposed in certain cases of illegal sexual relationships."

21st century Iran, via Drudge.

Of course, this is not the first instance of violent psychosexual paranoia among the Iranian theocrats.

And 100 lashes is nothing to sneeze at. A few months ago, a 14 year old boy was sentenced to 85 lashes by an Iranian court for the criminal offense of eating during the Ramadan fast. He died before the State Whipper could run the count all the way up to 85.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Always wear protection

If you become aware that alien beings are targeting you for abduction, take precautions.

A testimonial from a satisfied user: "Since trying Michael Menkin's Helmet, I have not been bothered by alien mind control. Now my thoughts are my own. I have achieved meaningful work and am contributing to society. My life is better than ever before."

Honestly, I cannot tell whether this site is a parody or not.

Caution: May not work against spirits of blessed Gaia (zuvembis, druidic totems, possessed wombats, Mayan princesses, etc). Use as directed.


Punctuation joke

Apropos recent similarly-themed kerfuffles involving Clinton Cabinet Secretary Larry Summers and Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich:

An English professor wrote the words "woman without her man is a savage" on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.

The males wrote: "Woman, without her man, is a savage."

The females wrote: "Woman: Without her, man is a savage."


Keep the moonbats at bay

A few days late, but make sure that you don't miss this debunking of the most common 9/11 conspiracy theories from Popular Mechanics.

Via Geekpress.


A taxonomy of 9/11 precursors

Then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said in 2002, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that ... they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

And in 2004, President Bush said, "Nobody in our government, at least, and I don't think the prior government, could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale."

However, there were plenty of instances when planes were used as missiles, both in reality and in popular culture. A chronological list of some of the examples I have found follows (note the increasing frequency after 1994):

  • 1943: In the climax to the Hollywood movie 'Bataan' starring Robert Taylor and Desi Arnaz, (spoiler alert!) the trapped American forces crash a plane loaded with dynamite into a bridge to halt the Japanese advance. (I was surprised to learn that this film was made in 1942 and released in 1943 before the first kamikaze fighter attacks.)
  • 1944: The Japanese kamikaze fighters in World War II are the best known. The first such attack, involving five Imperial Navy Zero fighters armed with 500 pound bombs, occurred on October 25, 1944, during operations off Leyte Island. Based on the tactic's success, Imperial Army Air Force soon commenced plans for suicide attacks.
  • 1944: Hitler's Amerikabomber in World War II planned to bomb NY and then crash there. Late in the war, Hitler's "miracle weapons" program included plans for what was called "Projekt A: a huge plane that would fly out over the Atlantic and release a smaller bomber that would carry out a suicide attack against the US East Coast. Hitler referred to the plane as the "Amerikabomber." The technical drawings show prototypes for a large, multi-engine mothercraft with a smaller plane attached underneath. The plans for this smaller plane, which was designed to fly almost at the speed of sound, lack landing gear and weapons systems, indicating that it was not expected to be recovered, meaning it was intended to be used as a flying bomb.
  • 1974: Sam Bick (also Bigg) plotted to crash plane into White House, killing President Nixon. He murdered an airport security guard to get on board, where he also killed the co-pilot and wounded the pilot. He was killed by police before the plane could take off. (In 2004, this tale was retold in a Sean Penn film.)
  • 1981: In the beginning of John Carpenter's film "Escape from New York", a terrorist hijacks Air Force One and crashes it into a building in New York City, quite nearby the World Trade City.
  • 1994: Algerian terrorists of the GIA (Armed Islamic Group) hijacked an Air France passenger jet and were planning to crash it into the Eiffel Tower (or perhaps downtown Paris). The terrorists themselves were not qualified pilots and they were tricked into landing for refueling at Marseilles, where they were killed by police.
  • 1994: Auburn Calloway, a disgruntled FedEx employee tried to take the controls of a FedEx DC-10 cargo jet, fully fuelled to fly to Japan, and crash it into the FedEx headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. The pilots, though grievously wounded, knocked Calloway off-balance by sending the huge plane into a steep dive, and overpowered the would-be mass murderer, who now resides in federal prison.
  • 1994: On 11 September 1994, a drunk and high Frank Corder stole a Cessna 150 from a Maryland airfield. He flew low over downtown Washington’s silent streets just before 2 a.m., then made a U-turn near the Washington Monument to line up his plane with the White House. He died when the stolen plane crashed into the White House lawn, plowed through a magnolia tree and came to rest against a wall two stories below the president’s sleeping quarters. There was little damage to the mansion. Because of remodeling, President Clinton and his family were not in the White House at the time.
  • 1995: In "The Simpsons" (episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming," air date 26 November) Sideshow Bob attempts to crash a Wright Brothers replica plane into the Alkali Flats power station.
  • 1995: Project Bojinka, a plot by Islamic terrorists to bomb numerous passenger jets in flight in Asia in a single day, also included plans to crash airliners into the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, the Pope's motorcade and American skyscrapers. The plot was uncovered in the Philippines before it could be put into action, but a test run on a Japanese airliner killed a passenger.
  • 1996: In Tom Clancy's novel 'Debt of Honor', (spoiler alert!) a Japanese Airlines pilot crashes his passenger plane into a joint session of Congress, killing the President and many members of Congress.
  • 1998: Turkish terrorist Metin Kaplan, of the German terrorist group Kalifatstaat (Caliphate State), planned to crash an aircraft loaded with explosives into the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state, on the 75th anniversary of the republic's founding. The plot never materialised. He was later jailed in Germany for calling for the murder of a rival Islamic religious leader.
  • 1999: Eric Harris, one of the Columbine killers wrote fantasies in his diary about hijacking a plane and crashing it into New York City.
  • 1999: In the two years before the 9.11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) conducted exercises simulating hijacked airliners being used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties. One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center. In another scenario, the target was the Pentagon, but that exercise was not conducted after Defense officials said it was too unrealistic. NORAD has confirmed that such hijacking exercises occurred.
  • 2001: In the pilot episode of the FOX TV series "The Lone Gunmen" (an "X-Files" spin off) that aired on 04 March 2001, a U.S. government conspiracy takes over a Boeing 727 via remote control and attempts to crash it into the WTC.

Any additional data points would be appreciated. Email v_clipps -at-

Note: With this post, by no means am I meaning to suggest that 9/11 was perpetrated by the CIA, the Mossad, Freemasons, UFOs, etc. Occam's Razor tells me that the guys who attacked the WTC in 1993, plotted aircraft as missiles in the Philippines in 1995, declared war on America and all Americans in 1996, bombed a US Navy ship in 2000 with suicide tactics, and took credit for the 9/11 attack on video more than once are much more likely suspects. If you can't follow that logic, you must be a barking moonbat.


An Eastern European capital with a promising future

Eastward, look! the land is bright. Posted by Hello


Precious stability

An interesting insight from Spiegel online (what next? will pigs fly?!):

"We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow."

The entire Spiegel article is good reading.

Via Instapundit who also noted in a related vein that EU Foreign Policy supremo Javier Solana is worried that Egypt and Jordan are panicked at the emergence of Arab democracy.

The obvious inference to be drawn is that Sr Solana in fact prefers stability to freedom. That is not an edifying philosophy, in my book.


Quote for the Day

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.

not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.

Do not believe in
anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.

Do not believe in anything
merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.

Do not believe in traditions because
they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you
find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

- Gautama Buddha (566 - 486 BC)
Philosopher, founder of Buddhism


Cognitive dissonance assails the appeasers

Euroweenie leftist claims, "We were wrong, but we were still right."

From the Guardian:
"Much of this is summed up in the current transitional fluidity over the politics of Iraq. The war was a reckless, provocative, dangerous, lawless piece of unilateral arrogance. But it has nevertheless brought forth a desirable outcome which would not have been achieved at all, or so quickly, by the means that the critics advocated, right though they were in most respects."


(Via the Belmont Club via American Future.)

For more on cognitive dissonance, see here (via LGF).


Belial in North Korea

So the two-headed baby story from Egypt got some press (especially with the neat photo), but you know what it reminded me of?

Kim Il Sung, founder of the DPRK (aka North Korea) and absolute Communist dictator there until his death in 1994.

You see, later in life, Kim Il Sung developed a freaking HUGE growth/tumor/goiter on the back of his neck. Of course, in North Korea, it was illegal, under pain of death, to mention its existence.

I saw it once in an unedited TV clip circa 1994 about Jimmy Carter visiting the DPRK to "negotiate" about the North's development of nuclear weapons, and WHOA, it was a monster. Canteloupe-sized. (I can't recall if the news clip was on CNN, but if it was, I bet Ted Turner immediately dispatched Eason Jordan to the hungry workers' paradise for some sustained dictator boot-licking, as he enthusiastically did for Castro, Saddam and Kim's son, Kim Jong Il.)

At any rate, the freakmeat was apparently so big and so deep that surgery was not feasible. He carried his second head around with him for the decade before his death, and of course, tried to ensure that all photos of him were from a camera angle obscuring the big unmentionable.

However, I did see it on the news. Later news reports and biographies of Mr. Kim confirm its existence. But I can find no photos of it on the web, anywhere.

If anyone out there has any images, please email it/them to me, v_clipps -at- Kam sa hahm ni da.


Liberal applies for a Red State entry visa

In a revealing anecdote related by Peggy Noonan in today's Wall Street Journal op-ed page,

Ten days ago a reporter interviewed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate and asked whether she planned to run for president in 2008.

(Hillary did not reply with,) "'I'm too busy serving the people of New York to think about the future.' She did not say, 'Oh, I already have a heckuva lot on my plate.' She said, 'I have more than I can say grace over right now.'"

Seems as though one Democrat presidential hopeful concluded that insulting the millions and millions of Red State voters as "stump-toothed backwoods knuckle-draggers stomping out of the Jesusland multiplex firing off verses from Leviticus," (in Mark Steyn's vivid phrasing) is not good politics.

Probably a smart move. Maybe the former First Lady of Arkansas can pull it off. Still, it looks awfully transparent.


Another sign of Islamofascist/Far Left convergence

What do Iran and Cuba have in common?

According to the BBC, "an Iranian weblogger has been jailed for 14 years on charges of spying and aiding foreign counter-revolutionaries.
Arash Sigarchi was arrested last month after using his blog to criticise the arrest of other online journalists."

At least they make it dead easy for us to tell who the good guys are.


Linguistics joke

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day.

"In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. In some languages though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative."

"However," the professor pointed out, "there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."


Quote for the Day

"If I could not doubt, I should not believe."

- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
American author, poet and naturalist

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Why blog?

I began to follow blogs after 9/11.

I discovered through a mention on some website or other. The information presented by the Tennessee Prof was so much deeper, more informative and less condescending than the stories available from the conventional media outlets, such as CNN and the BBC that I was hooked. I explored many many more and spread the word about the value of blogs to my contacts. (The recent past of big MSM names being taken down over credibility scandals at CNN, BBC, CBS and the NY Times with the help of the blogs has only confirmed this belief.) "This is the Internet! We can fact check your ass!"

I had considered starting a blog from time-to-time but had neither the time in my schedule nor any burning topics to which I could make a valuable contribution.

Recently encouraged by the real-world impact of blogs, most impressively in Dan Rather's pathetic and ludicrous Memogate, I began collecting some topics on which to post.

So I will begin to post from today on topics including but not limited to: blogs, the media, technology, national security, the EU, Russia, Eastern Europe, France, Germany, Japan, North Korea, Asia, book reviews, quotes, jokes, weird news, Red/Blue states, the coming demographic train wreck, environmentalism, religion, business, taxation, the UN, privacy rights, and I may as well toss in the kitchen sink.


Hello world