Thursday, March 31, 2005

Carried over

Found the following on a package of Chinese instant noodles:




The English translation reads, "For the practical contents of the suggesting Formula, please refer to the marking".

I wonder if the original Chinese is just as mysterious.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

"UN Predicts Annan to be Vindicated in Oil-For-Food Probe"

The headline of this story comes as no surprise. I expect Kofi Annan to escape serious consequences of the Oil-For-Food farce, but his son may not get off the hook so easy.

What really gets my goat is the following:

On a related matter, U.N. officials confirmed that the secretary-general approved a decision to use thousands of dollars from Iraqi oil revenues to pay legal fees of former oil-for-food program chief Benon Sevan. In a report issued in February, the Volcker Commission concluded that Mr. Sevan had "seriously undermined the integrity of the United Nations" by improperly steering lucrative oil-for-food contracts to friends.
...
Iraq's U.N. ambassador Wednesday described the decision to use oil-for-food money for Mr. Sevan's legal fees as "scandalous". In a written statement, Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie said the credibility of the United Nations had been called into question. He urged the Security Council to intervene to reverse the decision.

Geez. The guy in charge of the program that diverted Iraqi oil money from the people and into the pockets of Saddam Hussein and others gets his legal bills paid out of the same pot of money. I thought it was "oil-for-food", not "oil-for-legal-expenses-of-some-UN-bureaucrat".

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Not commenting on the obvious

Too much has already been said about the Schiavo case. I have nothing more to add other than the situation has given rise to a tremendous abuse of government power.

Friday, March 18, 2005

"Murder victim's sisters return to more hostile climate in Belfast"

Are these people ever going to get along?

Being half-Irish myself, I had hoped that the IRA--no different from Hamas in my opinion--would eventually wither away. Sadly, it seems to be morphing into something akin to the Mafia here in the U.S.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The sky in Texas


moon and clouds 01

No, this picture was not taken today.

Let the games begin

Minor league baseball starts in a little less than a month. With all the mess now bubbling about steroids in the major leagues (Players testifying before Congress! Damn.), it'll be good to see some small-time ball being played in more intimate settings.

Besides, who can't love mascots like these.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

This day in history, March 13

March 13, 1781 is the day the planet Uranus was discovered by William Herschel. The seventh planet from the sun, Uranus is distinctive in that its axis of rotation is sideways instead of up-and-down, like the other planets in the solar system.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"Why don't they listen to us? Speaking to the working class"

A good piece written by Lillian B. Rubin for Dissent Magazine, and an honest assessment of the problems facing liberals today from the point of view of a liberal. I think her points are dead on (especially concerning political correctness), and I like her writing style.

I say "both sides" because it's true. But here I'm not concerned with them; I want to talk about us, about how we promulgated and enforced a politically correct line on a series of key social-cultural issues that played into right-wing charges that we were out of touch and helped to consolidate our virtual isolation from America's lower-middle and working class.

Enforced! I can almost hear the astonishment as some readers ask derisively, "Who are the enforcers? Have progressives jailed anyone for being politically incorrect?" No, of course not. But if there were no pressure to remain silent, how do we explain the many times we sat at meetings wanting to dissent but didn't for fear of being politically incorrect? Or the times we wished for a fuller, more nuanced discussion of the subject at hand but stilled our thoughts because we knew they would be unacceptable, that our commitment to the cause would be questioned?


Indeed.

What I don't like about this piece is her assumption that people in the working class--and all Americans--should be represented soley by the left or the right. She maintains an "us vs. them" mentality throughout, and it bothers me that she thinks her side has the right to speak for "the people". I don't chastise her exclusively, though; too many on the right take this stance as well.

I wish for someone to represent those of us in between. My set of beliefs cannot be contained completely by the Democratic platform nor the Republican platform, and I am neither fully liberal nor absolutely conservative. I am in between, and I think most Americans are as well.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Defining terrorism

I'm not going to get into which media outlets are deceiving themselves by avoiding the word "terrorist", but Daniel Okrent--the public editor for the New York Times [free registration required]--takes on the topic, and I think he is on to something. If all outlets would adopt the following as policy, I think we could get past this petty point.
My own definition is simple: an act of political violence committed against purely civilian targets is terrorism; attacks on military targets are not. The deadly October 2000 assault on the American destroyer Cole or the devastating suicide bomb that killed 18 American soldiers and 4 Iraqis in Mosul last December may have been heinous, but these were acts of war, not terrorism. Beheading construction workers in Iraq and bombing a market in Jerusalem are terrorism pure and simple.

Well said.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

This day in history, March 5

Today, March 5, marks the last full day of the battle of the Alamo. On March 6, 1836, the Mexican army overpowered the Alamo defenders after a thirteen-day siege.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Offensive college mascots

Phil Mole has an article on Butterflies and Wheels called "'Chief' Objections: Racism, Rhetoric and Native American Mascots on College Campuses". He makes a good argument as to why publicly-supported colleges and universities should refrain from using Native Americans as mascots.
The fact that the university is a “public institution” raises other issues. In lawsuits about campus persecution of “offensive speech,” courts have repeatedly found that public institutions dependent upon federal money must make every effort to uphold civic freedoms. This means ... that the mere fact that some students take offense at speech does not warrant the punishment of the speaker, since such punishment denies the federally protected right to free speech. But as previously mentioned, the federal guarantee of civic freedom also forbids acts of discrimination by institutions, and the Chief [Illiniwek of the Univeristy of Illinois at Urbana] seemingly results from just such an act.

Good argument. But, to keep his argument strong, Mole should probably excise the following point:
How would supporters of the Chief feel if, say, the Holy Eucharist were re-enacted as a halftime skit at the Superbowl (admittedly, a rather boring one), or if a mascot dressed as a Bishop chased young boys around during the seventh inning stretch? Many Christians would doubtless find many reasons to be offended by these antics, but I suggest they’d especially dislike the fact that a symbol they hold sacred is functioning as ribald mass entertainment.

This point is weak, and I think it actually detracts from his argument. Many Christians are obviously entertained by such symbols in a sports setting. Consider the following college mascots:

Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops
University of Pennsylvania Quakers
Wake Forest Demon Deacons

I can't remember hearing about any protests of these college teams, and I doubt if such protests have taken place. I also can't recall any outcry over the professional teams known as the Saints, Padres, and Angels. For this reason, Mole should cut the religious angle from an otherwise thought-inspiring essay.