Thursday, June 27, 2002

Forward Into the Past

Considering that the television has become the key piece of furniture around which most interiors orbit, isn't it odd that TV set design has remained virtually unchanged for the past 20 years? It's always a dull black cube. Even computers have evolved from beige boxes to something resembling creativity. But not TVs.

How come no one has tried to differentiate the commodity TV set through a unique design that would allow the canny manufacturers to charge a premium price?

Well, actually there is one very cool alternative already out there . . . Predicta; a company that makes bespoke television sets in the New Frontier style. They're wildly expensive but their look is spectacular and their innards are totally up to date.

If anyone knows someone at Predicta, tell them I am willing to demo one of their products and review its performance with total objectivity . . . or bias . . . It doesn't really matter, as long as I get one of these TVs..

Decision Time for Our Saudi Friends?

STRATFOR says that the new American policy toward the Palestinians is actually a challenge to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis made a solution to the Israeli/PLO conflict a prerequisite to their cooperation against Iraq and al Queda. But on Monday President Bush essentially said Palestine is a digression from the main topic and the time has come to choose sides in the war on state-sponsored terror. Which way will the Saud family decide?

Well, maybe a hint comes from Arab News, the Saudis' English language media organ. Today's edition is a cornucopia of rattling scimitars. Check out the top stories:

President Bush Said Exactly What the Israelis Wanted to Hear
Bush's Speech: A Vision of Permanent War
Bush Insulted Palestinians and Enraged Leadership of Arab World
Kingdom Studying Free-Trade Zone with Iraq

Objective journalism it ain't . . . but illuminating in it's way.

To cap it off there's an article lamenting "Internet disease.” One can only hope it's spreading.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Is the Intifada Un-Islamic?

Last month, an Italy-based Muslim scholar, speaking in Canada, condemned the Palestinian intifada as being "contrary to Islam" and accused Hamas as being a "pseudo-Islamic" organization exploiting the Palestinian people and encouraging them to commit unspeakable violence.

He said the Qu'ran recognizes the area of present-day Israel as the heritage of the Jews and that since there are already two Palestinian states -- Egypt and Jordan -- there is no need for a third.

Yasser Arafat, by the way, was born and educated in Cairo.

Have any other prominent Muslims articulated such views? None that I'm aware of. That's why I'm starting a list of courageous Muslims who are willing to speak the truth and bear the consequences. Let's call them the White Rose Muslims.

First on the list: Sheik Abdul Hadi Palazzi.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Peaceful Non-Existence Watch (Act 6)

Is the Intifada a movement to create a Palestinian state or destroy the Israeli one? Personally, I believe the Palestinians have no intention of stopping the violence until every last Jew in Israel is dead.

But what do I know? I'm just an infidel.

So I checked out some Islamofascist discussion boards and guess what . . . some other folks are wondering the same thing including one charmingly named would-be martyr, Humid, who asks, "what is the goal of the Intifada . . . is it simply the liberation of the West Bank, Gaza, and Al Quds (Jerusalem) or is it the entire area now known as 'Israel?'"

The answer? You can check it out yourself . . . it's an ongoing discussion. But here's one definition of intifada success:

". . . the way that area was before 1948. So this practically means the liberation of all of palestine."

Wouldn't that mean killing Israeli civilians?

". . . there are no civilians in occupied Palestine."

Here's a photo of one the those battle-hardened Israeli commandos the brave Palestinian freedom fighters are facing.

Humid asks whether this would mean the elimination of Israel:

"Salam, brother. How can something be eliminated if it doesn't exist? Israel doesn't exist period. : )

So, no negotiation, no settlement, no peace until Israel is "liberated." Much they way the Khmer Rouge liberated Cambodia presumably.

Hmm . . . I'm not surprised. But I hope Colin Powell is.

PS. There's also an interestingly heated discussion of the heresy of Ayatullah Fadhlullah. the Lebanese cleric who had the nerve to suggest that believers and infidels where basically all equal human beings in the eyes of God. Apparently, that kind of loose talk can get you iced in Islamotopia.
Nasty Piece of Work . . . Ah Hate It

The BBC has a home show called Changing Rooms in which interior designers come in and re-do a person's home for them. Usually it's an improvement, but this is England after all and sometimes the new design is a palatable as Spotted Dick.

The best part is the Brits who have had this inflicted on them don't feel any restraint from calling it shite. Check out these video clips.
Gonna Find Out Who's Naughty or Nice

Are you ever confused about who in the United States Congress understands the true nature of the Intifada and who is a little . . . how do you say . . . a bit slow to grasp the truth? Then check out this handy site that seems to be a joint venture between the pitifully ignorant Rep. Earl Hilliard (D- AL) and the Palestinian Media Watch. Sure do seem to be a lot of Democrats here.

While you're at it, why not just ask Congressman Hilliard, who is running in a primary election this coming Tuesday with the endorsement of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, why he’s shilling for murderers.

But sometimes that's just the way the Jell-O judicates.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

More Infidel Magic!

As we're in a California state of mind, I draw your attention to this gnarly wave machine: the Bruticus Maximus. Be sure to check out the video.

Want to win over the hearts and minds of the Islamic world? March into Mecca and install one of these suckers in downtown and watch the devoted crowd around it like was the Kaaba.

(via Paul Nakada)
Stroked But Not Bored

H.D. Miller of Travelling Shoes and an admitted Californian gives me the bird's eye lowdown on hot rods and decodes the remarkably complex lyrics of The Beach Boys' “Little Deuce Coupe.”

As for what the hell is a deuce coupe anyway? Miller explains:

A duce coupe is a 1932 Ford Coupe, a favorite among hot-rodders since the beginning of time, since it was a small, cheap, popular car with space for a big V-8 engine. The classic hot-rod shape.

What about a "flat head mill?"

A "flat head" is a Ford-made V-8 engine, one in which the valves are not on top, but on the side, hence the flat top. "Milled" means that the valves and moving parts have been worked to a very fine tolerance to increase power and efficiency.

And the somewhat painful sounding "ported and relieved and stroked and bored?"

These are all ways of machining an engine to increase it's power. "Ported and relieved" is a way of letting extra air into an exhaust port to reduce back pressure on a piston chamber (I think, that's it). "Stroked and bored" means that the piston chambers have been bored out to increase the size of the engine displacement, making it bigger than originally manufactured.

"Lake Pipes" according to Miller:

. . . are a type of exhaust pipe that goes outside of the body of the car, instead of underneath the chassis. I think, but I'm not sure, that Lake was originally the name of the manufacturer.

I never thought I would need a mechanical engineer to translate a Beach Boys song but this does reinforce the point of my last post that the Beach Boys are perceived as frothy lightweights only because they are best known for their frivolous surfer songs.

Those may have paid for Brian Wilson's medications but his heart was in hot-rodding and that's clear just by reading his lyrics.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Los Muchachos de la Playa

Only in summer can you listen to the Beach Boys without fear of ostracism. That's because their music, which to many ears ranges from frivolous to mindless dreck (apologies to MTZ), is acceptable only when the sun is high and your mind is soft as it is in the summer – or anywhere south of Staten Island.

I had never really questioned authority on the frivolity of garçons de plage so I was surprised yesterday when I paid attention to the lyrics of one of my favorite melodies, Little Deuce Coupe, for the first time. It was way over my head. I didn't understand a thing! Even the title . . . what exactly is a deuce coupe anyway?

Check out these lyrics . . . not exactly Hanson:

Just a little deuce coupe with a flat head mill
But she'll walk a Thunderbird like she's standin' still
She's ported and relieved and she's stroked and bored.
She'll do a hundred and forty with the top end floored
She's my little deuce coupe
You don't know what I got

Ported and relieved? Flat head mill? Little deuce coupe, I don't know what you're talking about!

And that's not all. It goes on like this for a while:

She's got a competition clutch with the four on the floor
And she purrs like a kitten till the lake pipes roar
And if that ain't enough to make you flip your lid
There's one more thing, I got the pink slip daddy

Okay, I learned about the importance of pink slips only recently when I saw The Fast and the Furious, but "lake pipes?"

Perhaps I'm the last to notice but the Beach Boys originally wrote some great songs about cars before jumping on the surfer bandwagon.

You can tell Brian Wilson cared more about cars than surfing just by reading his lyrics. They're detailed and in the first person. In contrast, the surfer songs are all totally superficial and never mention actually surfing. Compare the above lyrics with South Bay Surfer:

Look out here come those South Bay surfers
California's gettin' hot
There they go cruisin' down that coastline
Lookin' for their favorite spot

Hell, this isn't so much about surfing as it is about looking for a decent parking space.

Too bad the Beach Boys sold out to surfing rather than held true to the hot rod genre that was their calling.

Who knows. Maybe Wilson wouldn’t have gone insane.

Monday, June 17, 2002

Make War Not Defense

Peggy Noonan and The Poor Man (in a truly brilliant post) have expressed concern about the name of the new Department of Homeland Security. Homeland is not an American expression, says Noonan. It's troublingly Teutonic. She suggests as an alternative the Department of Heartland Security. That doesn't work either in my opinion – too Disney.

Let's just call our security departments what they are.

Instead of the Defense Department, let's revert to the Department of War. That more accurately reflects it's purpose and it would have the salutary effect of scaring our enemies and offending the thin-skinned.

And as for homeland security, isn't that properly the role of an entirely new Department of Defense? That name at least clarifies the new organization's mission. Plus, the employees of the new DoD's constituent agencies would instantly gain all the prestige they crave but would have lost as workers in an otherwise nondescript new amalgam government department.

Paradoxically, this cosmetic change would also convince many people that the Bush Administration is dead serious about making substantive changes to our homeland security infrastructure.

Even more important, the Department of War would help the public understand that when the Pentagon is fully activated we are waging war, not some ambiguous peacekeeping exercise.

The Department of War and the Department of Defense. I like it.

And while we're at it, why not change the name of that Foggy Bottom sinkhole to the Department of Appeasement?

Friday, June 14, 2002

The Un-American Top 40

The Guardian provides us with a handy list of people who will be the first with their backs up against the wall when the revolution comes. Unfortunately, you have to slog through their turgid monologue before you get to their names.

Casey Kasem? Say it ain't so!

Lights Out for The Big City

For the past eight years, John Tierney has been the best writer at The New York Times.

He was given a weekly column, The Big City, and let loose to cover New York and its people. This is unusual for the Times because the paper usually ignores what actually happens in New York below the 20th floor. Like The Washington Post, the Times treats its hometown the same way it would some remote news bureau. Occasionally local news makes it into the paper but for the most part it is news not deemed fit to print.

Tierney balanced this willful ignorance by reporting on actual events and unnoticed trends in the city. In his past three columns I learned that flophouses on the Bowery are actually getting better now that some insipid "tenants rights" litigation has been defeated, that Manhattan used to be the flour capital of the New World with a vital windmill on the site of the Trade Center, and how the hawks introduced with much fanfare to the city's ecosystem some years ago are creating a sort of pigeon holocaust.

But aside from actually learning something new in a New York Times column, what was most unusual about The Big City was that Tierney was an unapologetic free-market liberal, which in New York means "right-wing extremist."

Moreover, he expressed his point of view with humor and intelligence in such a disarming way that he could change minds rather than enrage those who disagreed with him the way, say, Sean Hannity might.

I imagine Tierney as a once idealistic Democrat who over time realized how big is the gap between rhetoric and reality on the left side of the political spectrum. Like some many others, his brain eventually pulled his heart over to the right side.

Tierney is going to Washington, DC which in itself is utter blasphemy. He's staying with the Times though and it will be interesting to see what he writes about now. But for me, the big city just won't be the same without him.

Read his last column and see what you'll be missing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Peaceful Non-Existence Watch (Act 5)

To the surprise of no one who actually comprehends the Middle East "Peace Process," the Palestinian Jerusalem Media and Communication Center has released a new poll that shows the majority of the 1200 Palestinians interviewed in Gaza and the West Bank this month said they understood the goal of the Intifada to be the total elimination of Israel.

An earlier poll shows that 72% of respondents do not believe even a permanent peace agreement based on "two nations with two peoples" would be sufficient to end the violence.

This, of course, helps to make sense of the suicide bombing attacks on Israeli civilians. You don't murder your neighbors in the hope that someday you will be able to live together in peace.

Rather, they are going for broke. It's all or nothing for the Palestinian "movement." Either it achieves an ethnically cleansed Israel or it collapses.

The proper response should be to prove how hopeless this aspiration is by slowly and steadily thwarting every expression of it. Spectacular "operations" then become acts of desperation. Eventually, the true believers will be either marginalized or dead.

In the meantime, ordinary, non-homicidal people in the Islamic world are subjected to the most crude and unconvincing news reporting from Palestine such as this wire story from IRNA in Iran.

An "interview" with an Israeli armored bulldozer driver in Jenin yields this bit of insight:

"For three days I just erased and erased every house. The officers warned the Palestinians to leave before I entered, but I didn't give anyone a chance to escape. I would come and give a big hit, the hardest I could, so that the house would fall immediately. I got great pleasure out of every house I took down."

When Nisim was asked how he was able to work three days and three nights without sleep, he said, "I didn't feel tired at all. I drank whisky all the time.

Only a teetotaler would believe that drinking whisky would allow you to stay awake for three days and nights.

What does an intelligent Iranian my age think when he reads such garbage? I can only hope that it makes him wonder what the truth is. That will make him question the wisdom of the prevailing authorities. He will think about the world his children will live in and become concerned about the trajectory of current events. Are things getting better or worse?

As you read this blog, there is a 35 year old guy standing on a hot dusty corner somwhere in Tehran, or Damascus, or Baghdad who feels the best part of the 20th Century passed him by because the jerks who run the country are obsessed with some hopeless political posture that is totally irrelevant to me and, in the name of Allah, that's not going to happen to my son.

That's when real change is possible.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Happy Birthday NonPerson!

The New York Times is reporting widespread infanticide within North Korea.

Significantly, this is occurring among the thousands of unfortunate "economic immigrants" who are shipped back from China where they fled for their lives. Upon arrival back in the Magic Kingdom they are eased back into North Korea society by being incarcerated in labor camps. Pregnant women are injected with miscarriage inducing drugs and those who manage to give birth are often witnesses to their newborn child's execution. As if this were not barbaric enough, the North Korean authorities take a characteristically Juche approach to the grisly deed:

"Lee Soon Ok, who worked as an accountant for six years at Kaechon political prison, recalled in an interview that she twice saw prison doctors kill newborn babies, sometimes by stepping on their necks."

A handy wooden box is provided for the collection of these would-be North Koreans.

We've known for years that North Korea's cradle to grave socialism has been rather heavily weighted in favor of the grave but this news comes at a critical moment when the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) is considering making a judgement about whether the North Korean refugees are fleeing a tyrannical death camp or just looking to pick up some extra bucks in the frozen wastelands of Northern China.

China opposes designating the escapees as "political refugees" since that would mean they couldn't be sent back home and would likely encourage a wave of new refugees. They have gone so far as to storm the Japanese consulate in Shenyang to remove asylum seekers who thought they had made it to safety.

The U.S. State Department is not taking a position because they don't want to inconvenience our "allies" against terror, the Chinese.

Meanwhile the UNHCR has received a petition pleading for wisdom rather than political expediency . . . it was signed by 12 million people.

Saturday, June 08, 2002

Skakel Convicted!

Surprise ending to a trial that appeared a bit short on evidence. Aside from everything, Michael Skakel certainly looks like a weak, not very bright, sort of guy who has been haunted for his entire adult life by the awful truth that he killed a girl when he was a teenager.

Imagine the grinding anxiety every time he heard about a similar murder on the news, or read something about what life in prison is like, or even just seeing a police car in the rear view mirror. I bet that now that it's over he confesses to everything in a huge blubbering spectacle with his lawyers and family trying vainly to rein him in.

And imagine the white-hot contempt of the Moxley family finally having the truth revealed and validated after decades of frustration yet still having to endure sharing the spotlight with this garish clan of vulgarians. What a devastating failure of human decency.

Friday, June 07, 2002

Why Is the State Department Putting its Fingers in the Dike?

Serious cracks are beginning to appear in the dam that keeps those 23 million malnourished imagineers bottled up in Kim il Sung's Magic Kingdom. So you would think that the United States would be eager to help turn the trickle of asylum-seekers into a flood that would wash away the old regime just the way East German banana shoppers overturned the DDR back in 1989.

But thanks to a cadre of hardcore policy inactivists at the State Department, the U.S. policy on North Korean refugees -- numbering more than 300,000 in China at the moment -- is inertia. Here's the official line as articulated by Richard Boucher at the daily briefing last week:

QUESTION: What should be the US policy to the North Korea refugees who are seeking asylum into the United States? Do you have any –

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure there are people who have been in that position. Most of the people that we've encountered have been going to South Korea. Any claim for refugee status is evaluated if the person is either in the United States or present at a US facility.

So basically all North Korean refugees are welcome to seek asylum in the United States once they get to the lobby of the State Department building in Washington, D.C.

The State Department is concerned that by admitting the truth that these refugees are actually escapees from the medievally repressive penitentiocracy called The Democratic Republic of Korea, our reliable ally, The People's Republic of China, will be inconvenienced by the tidal wave of huddled masses yearning to live free that would inevitably follow.

There are even some at State who would like the United Nations to declare that these escapees are "economic" rather than "political" refugees. The distinction is the difference between life and death. Economic refugees can be repatriated back to their jail cells and gas chambers without further ado. Political refugees need to be housed, fed and generally kept alive.

A better approach would be to call a spade a spade and declare anyone from North Korea lucky enough to find him or herself outside the prison walls eligible for political asylum and a brand new Nike track suit with their name embroidered on the back. Of course, each one should be interveiwed carefully in order to identify the inevitable North Korean spies -- they're the ones with the I ♥ Starving tattoos.

Word gets around pretty quick in a prison as any of you who have done serious time behind bars knows, and it wouldn't be long before the entire population of North Korea heads for the exits leaving behind The Dear Leader and a few cronies to sit around the People's Palace and watch reruns of Ice Station Zebra together.

The fact is, if everyone left Pyongyong tonight, no one notice the difference tomorrow morning.

That would leave one evil axial down and only two to go.