Friday, June 07, 2002
Several points to make after seeing the Daniel Perl video
. Least important first:
- The export of Microsoft MovieMaker should be prohibited. I understand a snuff film, but to do all the cute editing, fades, sound effects, and text scroll is in poor taste.
- Is it just me, or do they intermix imagery of Palestinians throughout the video, and in the end demand support for Pakistan? I thought it was only Americans who say the whole Muslim world as the same brown people.
- Why such a reaction? You didn't think Islamofascists were bad until you had to throw up the Cheereos you had for breakfast when seeing them carve someone up? What about the three thousand people that died in the 9/11 attacks? What about all those Israelis dying every day? What about all those Indians getting blown up? Just because American media doesn't show you the charred corpses, people pluging to the ground and splattering into a puddle, torn limbs sprinkled all about, those events don't strike you as horrible? You had to see one guy get carved up like he was the Ramadan turkey before "something is wrong with these people" crossed your mind? If the video had that effect on you, good. But I don't know about you, but that's what I picture death like. When I heard "3000 people died," I imagine the horror of sitting there and watching 3000 videos like this. You shouldn't have to see this video to feel sickened by the events.
Thursday, June 06, 2002
Ralph Nader wants the NBA to review Game 6 of the Western Conference finals, saying the nation's confidence has been shaken enough lately by business headlines.
Here's my problem with Nader. Corporations don't own him: great. But who does? Where does Ralphy get his money? My personal theory is that all those campus organisations like NYPIRG channel their money to Nader, which is fucked up (if true) because that's MY campus-activity fees going to ... battle bad ref calls? Come on!
Thank god he hasn't caught a whiff of the poor judging in the WWF. I saw some guy beat his opponent with a chair while the ref wasn't looking!
If anything, Nader should go after Hollywood for it's piss-poor plotlines that are in no way worth the $10 movie admission.
Pat Buchanan pipes in with his thoughts on preventing future terror
Buchanan is wrong. And not because of his racist past, but because his analysis is piss poor.
The first thing that struck me is that he works very hard to paint terrorism as a rational endeavor. It surely is, but not for those who are executing the missions. Terrorist leadership knows what it wants (and it is almost never in the leadership's interest to acknowledge that it has gotten what it wanted.) But Buchanan bends the truth when he says that Hezbollah stopped its terror activities against Israel once Israel left Lebanon. This is simply not so, because Hezbollah continues to shell Israel across the border. This is the first chink in Buchanan's argument. You can't mention Hezbollah and say "you give Muslim extremists what they want, and they will leave you alone" in the same essay.
But even putting that aside, where does Buchanan get off telling us he knows what the terrorists want? If a string of Americans snuck across the border into Canada and blew up random buildings there, very few people would believe this to be resultant from the fact that Canadian troops are present in the US (NORAD is a shared installation.) It just doesn't sound like something to die over. And if you say that "it's different because Saudi Arabia is holly," then I will point out that once religious fervor gets involved, you can't expect the other party to be reasonable at all.
I always object to the notion that one's willingness to commit suicide implies there's a good reason for the action.
Let's even ignore the fact that those recruited into terror organizations tend to be weak spiritually and malleable (wouldn't a normal human being want to stay home and take care of his family, rather than be fighting the great Satan in some abstract way?)
I ask you to recall the little you may know about Afghani history. Remember that just a few days before the 9/11 attacks, two Arabs entered a Northern Alliance compound posing as reporters who were there to interview General Masud. When Masud entered the room, one of the Arabs detonated a bomb which resided inside the camera, killing both the Arabs, and Masud.
Now, these two people died to advance Bin Ladin's cause. Are you willing to argue that somehow they perceived they were being done injustice to by the Northern Alliance? Or, would you say, it's fucking amazing that OBL convinced them to die to advance his political interest - most likely to gain favor from the Talibs when he knew Americans will be demanding his extradition in a few days.
We will never know what was going on in the minds of the 19 hijackers, either, but I don't think it's justified to assume they knew exactly what they were dying for. It's not implausible that they really were dying in order to honor Islam and receive the virgins due them, and that's as far as it went. To alter our foreign policy because some perceive it to be an irritant to Muslim extremists is nearsighted at best. To go back to Israel's example, once the IDF pulled out of Lebanon, the Palestinian violence grew - in large part because for the first time they saw evidence that violence and terror might actually get them what they want. Do we really want to send a message to the rest of the world that the way to get what you want from America is to kill thousands of its civilians?
An Air Force colonel has been suspended for writing a letter in which he called President Bush "a joke" and accused him of allowing the September 11 attacks to happen because "his presidency was going nowhere."
I have yet to see a valid argument why a member of the armed forces should be able to badmouth members of the government. I have great respect for men and women who serve their country, but we must be mindful of the following: the millitary, in the broad sense, is a machine. A machine that executes orders without question or hesitation. In America, the machine is controlled by the civilian government, so the President and others are very much in the chain of command of every single officer and enlisted man. Being disrespectful toward them is not much different than being disrespectful toward your direct commanding officer. If you allow it, you're running the risk of insubordination on political grounds, which will lead to no good.
I, for one, am excited that the American soccer team beat Portugal.
I am not one to sit on the couch and watch sports - but if I had to chose one, I'd chose soccer as one to enjoy. There are a few reasons I like soccer:
- It's simple. You get the ball into the other team's goal, and don't touch it with your hands. That's pretty much it. I still don't understand the point of baseball: is the main point to hit the ball, or is it to throw is so the guy doesn't hit it? And what's with walking to bases? Not a whole lot of exercise. And what's American Football all about? Sometimes you can kick it, sometimes you can't. Why is it football when most of the time you clutch the ball in your hands and run with it? And why do they stop the game so much? In soccer, you don't stop the game lest there's a foul or an out.
- Hockey is similar to soccer in a lot of ways, and so is basketball. But basketball is too high-scoring a game for each point to matter. In soccer, even a single goal is crucial. Soccer is a lot more exciting because it's low-scoring, but at the same time it's a very fast-paced game.
- Requires a lot of physical endurance. Try running the length of a soccer field a few times. It's tough!
Considering the total lack of domestic support, I think it's amazing that the US has been able to produce a team that has beaten ANYBODY, much less the well-ranked Portuguese. If they keep it up, there may be a day when I can turn on the TV and watch a soccer game without it being in Spanish.
Personally I don't care if Spider-Man has sex or not
, but I do have a view on celibacy. I have to admit, the view isn't entirely original. It started with Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, where the lead character discusses his own lack of obsession with sex, and criticizes the rest of society by being so single minded. That struck me, I didn't really think that there are people for whom sex is the only worthwhile activity, but it seems it's so.
That's where the issue of Spider-Man's abstinence becomes relevant. I don't see it as a statement against sex altogether, I think it's necessary in order to show his priorities. Contrast that to heros like James Bond and Captain Kirk. Those guys get so much ass that it's not impossible to suggest that the only reason they lead their heroic lifestyles is to impress the ladies in the first place. By making Spider-Man celebate, a statement is made that getting ass is not what motivates this man to his accomplishments, which is a positive statement. At least, that's what I see in it. If it's just a cheap moral to keep kids from having sex, I'd be dissappointed.
Like many other cases, Leslie Van Houten
's (Manson family member) begs the question: what is the purpose of incarceration? The alternatives are two: punishment of the criminal vs. protection of society.
- If you subscribe to the 'punishment' view, there is little question that justice is best served by keeping Leslie in prison. After all, she has murdered several people for the kick of it, and life in prison certainly fits the crime. It also respects the memory of the victims and the sentiments of their family.
- On the other hand, as far as 'protecting society' goes, all leads point to the Leslie being a confused, drugged-up kid at the time of her crimes. She has spent the last thirty years showing the world (and perhaps herself) that she is no longer the person who committed those crimes. From the news I've read, it seems apparent that she is no longer a menace to society, and it makes no sense to keep her locked up.
My heart (and probably those of of most people) favours the second view. Instead of our society spending resources on keeping her in prison, let her be out, contributing to society - as apparently she's ready to do. There are a few wrinkles in the matter, though. First, it's not fair to her victims. By judging Leslie according to who she is now, we essentially ignore what she has done. People go to jail because of the crimes they have already committed, not because of crimes they're likely to commit in the future (Minority Action, the movie, not withstanding) - so placing too much emphasis on her current state may be the wrong move even from the societal standpoint. Second, and I think this ties in with my last point, this would make for a dangerous trend. Van Houten's case is in the public eye, and there's pressure on everyone to do the right thing. This is not the case for the majority of cases out there, and 'dangerous to society' is a bit subjective. Should a criminal be parolled on the sole merit of not having committed a crime against another inmate in the X years he was imprisoned? What constitutes good behaviour and rehabilitation? Though rehabilitation seems obvious in the Van Houten case, I am hesitant to suggest it is something that parole boards can weigh higher than the crime committed in mundane cases.
Monday, June 03, 2002
The New York board of regents sanitizes classical texts?
What bothers me is that this is in New York, where folks tend to be somewhat enlightened about race issues and handle them with more maturity and sensibility than, probably, any place else.
If there's a real concern, could they not find texts to ask about in the exams that didn't need to be castrated? It seems as if in their opinion there is no
bits of classical writing that aren't going to offend the kiddies's sensibilities. And hell, they test you on books you had to have read, so the student must have been exposed to the 'offensive' matter previously anyway!
Now I remember my highschool days. We've read, among other things, Huck Finn - it's gratuitous usage of the word nigger
and all. It seems to me that everyone in my class was able to comprehend the context in which it was being used, and handle it maturely. I remember reading Invisible Man, with it's negative attitude toward the white society and the country in general, and while it made you think
I don't see how it would make a reasonable 17-18 year old personally offended.
I wonder what prompted this decision. Were concerned parents complaining to the Board? Were students breaking out in tears at their desks? Or, were the boardmembers themselves offended by the texts? How do you even come up with the idea?
Sunday, June 02, 2002
I have generally admired Fidel Castro, and I think this quote from him hits the nail on the head with:
For Mr. W, democracy only exists where money solves everything and where those who can afford a $25,000-a-plate dinner an insult to the billions of people living in the poor, hungry and underdeveloped world are the ones called to solve the problems of society and the world
While that quote lost some grammatical cohesion in translation, what Castro said is essentially true. American ideas of democracy, especially that reserved for foreigners, is that of "from free market stems everything else." The idea is, though, to provide American business access to whatever they want from that nation, regardless of the consequences for the said nation, and regardless, by the way, of the wishes of its citizens. After all, if the "democratic" opinion of the people of Mexico (for example) would be to stop selling oil to America, we wouldn't like that very much because it interferes with "free market." We'd be quick to label that socialism or communism, and do whatever we can to erradicate that democracy, in the name of.. democracy.
To a large extent, the same mentality applies to domestic issues. Our democratic leaders depend more on sponsorship than they do on people, and their interests lie there. Why is our education in such a sorry state, for example? Could it be because there's no money to be made in educating the children of average people? The children of the rich get good education anyway (hey, free-market education, woohoo!) so why bother beyond that? At the same time, there's plenty of money for corporate welfare, because after all it's "strengtening America" by helping its companies. The problem, of course, is that taxpayer money of every-day people is used to do the said "strengtening" while when it comes to education and other benefits for the said people, "sorry, we'd have to raise taxes to do it."
Frankly, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and I don't have much of a problem with our dealings with foreign nations. On the other hand, it's quite sad that 'democracy' and 'free market' that are so eloquently used to explain why a welfare mom shouldn't get welfare, are disregarded when it comes to bailing out banks, airlines, and defense contractors.
WELCOME NEW YORKERS
(and others, don't feel slighted!)
It took me a while to decide to add this blog to NYCBloggers
list. After all, this blog is more about political analysis than it is about my immediate surroundings, so why should my georgraphc location matter? But in the end, where one lives has a lot to do with who one is, and therefore with his worldview. I'd see the world quite differently if I lived in Cairo or Rio or even Houston. And so, why not add "New Yorker" to my blog's identity? I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts, especially if you have gotten here via NYCBloggers and a politico blog isn't what you expected. And as always, you're more than welcome to discuss
, or just plain old say hello
and make a friend. I hope you enjoy your stay here, and may my writing make you think and question what you know of the world.
American Airlines want to decrease airport security
. How do I feel about that? I am probably a libertarian (I guess?) so I generally feel that people should chose their own paths. If he wants to take his airline down the path of lower security, why not? Then it's up to the customer to decide whether they want to fly that airline, because other airlines can advertise themselves as being more secure. Hell, ElAl should fly to more destinations inside the states, the security conscious would use them.
But the problem is, airport security, as we have learned on 9/11, is about more than personal choices. It's obvious that an airplane can be a weapon of mass destruction like few other things can, so airport security concerns more than just those within the ariplane.
The solution? An airline should be allowed to drop all security if they want - but there should be some pre-requisites for it. First, there must be constant supervision of what's happening, and if a hijack is detected, the plane should go on autopilot/remote control that cannot be overridden by the hijackers. Or it should self destruct if the plane is aiming to hurt folks on the ground.
You get the point, let people tweak with airport security only to the extent in which it affects their own lives and planes. I don't want to see a 747 destroy the Empire State Building because the AA CEO cites "the unlikelihood of another terrorist attack/hijacking." What kind of shit is that, when the FBI releases terror alerts all the time?
was kind enough to respond to my last post.
In your entry for Monday the 27th you
asked how the US led west let India and Pakistan become nuclear
powers. I'm not sure if it was rhetorical or not cause I'm incredibly tired
from work, but I agreed with what you said anyway about interfering
nations ending state sovereignty. So I thought id ad my two cents. As
far as I know, India initiated her first nuclear tests in the late 60's early
70's with knowledge gained from the brits and then from the russkies.
The reds in return for international diplomatic support and lucrative arms
deals nurtured her nuclear program. All this freaked out both the US and
Pakistan, who in turn got together and began something of their own,
dropping the first in the early eighties (I think). India's packing around 60
or more warheads, whilst Pakistan's got around half that number. The
real concern, which you will most likely already know is that Pakistan has
only around half the military force (men, tanks, planes) of India and if
serious attacked would most likely seek to heat New Delhi to 10,000 deg
c in one tenth of a second, starting something, I guess, which would be
very messy to say the least.
So, as far as I've been told Pakistan's nuclear program and the
subsequent arms proliferation and shield beating is the result of cold war
posturing and maneuvering between the yanks and the commies.
Thanks Ben. But my veracious appetite for the truth has not been satisfied, so I posed more questions. Uncle Ben satisfies!
Wasn't it really recently that Paki and Indian nuke tests made the news?
You mentioned 70's and 80's, but I am thinking late 90's
I'm fairly sure India's test where initially
Wasn't the US putting some economic pressure on Pakistan because of their
begun in the late 60's, a continuation of British testing that took place in
the late fifties. Not much was made of it by the western media with the
focus being on the war In Vietnam. Tests where intermittent, until as you
say the nineties when India and Pakistan entered a new round of shield
beating, with each side irradiating sections of their groundwater and
frightening Japanese seismograph readers.
nuclear developments? When the Paks first gave us support in the war against
the Talibs, we dropped that sanction. Why would we sanction them if we
helped them get the nukes in the first place?
Recent missile testing has reiterated the international 'outrage' of the
nuclear tests of late 98-99. Thing is, the US has a much stronger
relationship with Pakistan, as an attempt to have a 'agent' or friend in the
central Asian region and supported her thusly. India has sided with
Russia, after a strong anti-British (and therefore anti-US) legacy came to
prominence with her Independence and the fact that when your
neighbors is a superpower, its best to play nice. I liken it to the Middle
East, where it seems to be USA and Israel vs. Iran/Syria/Iraq and Russia.
The US' policy of containment during the cold war years may still be
around somewhat but Russia's maneuvering seems to have increased in
its fervor. Desperate to halt the migration of her eastern states from her
sphere of influence into full membership of NATO, Moscow seemed to
have a policy of "America's enemy, our friend".
Anyway, I'm getting on a tangent here, but simply, India and
Pakistan, whilst initially not pawns of two superpowers, definitely
benefited from the ego posturing between them In terms of their nuclear
program. Now, with the emphasis on non-proliferation, peace and
antiterrorism, the excrement has hit the extrusion device and present
As far as post Sept 11 relations, I haven't been playing that
close attention. Prior to it, America seemed to consider sanctions against
Pakistan for two reasons - continued warhead and delivery vehicle tests
and Musharraf's rise to power through a coup. But Musharraf seemed to
at least be talking to them, offered some form of stability and wasn't
fiercely anti-US as in Afghanistan. Pakistani co-operation post 911 has
been hinted at as being oiled by a promise of less American criticism in
the world stage and moves towards recognition of his regime. Besides,
the on the street Pakistani doesn't seem that chuffed with American
action In Pakistan, so American diplomats seem to be doing their best
not to piss them off even more. And international criticism of yet another
predominately Muslim country would most likely further alienate Saudi
Arabia, although that hasn't stopped George from ranting about Iraq and
Thanks Ben! See what happens when you, the reader, gets involved. Tell me what you think!