Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Teh Funnay for the day

I don't know what's funnier about this video: the two guys lip-syncing (syncking?) or the guy behind them who's so obviously ignoring them. Either way, it's comedy gold. (Needs Windows Media Player.)

More jam-jam fun

This thread over at LGF is one of their better ones, I think: lighthearted, yet informative. (My comments don't make it in until about the 160 mark--I'm "Minstrel".)

On a side note, here's some (sort of) related trivia fun. This whole episode with the pajamas and what not has reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite authors: "Hurrah! It's the ford of Beruna again!" If you know what book that's from, tell me in the comments and I'll give you a special front-page mention next week.

I'm not in my jammies (though I should be)

Once upon a time, there was a company called Pajamas Media. It was called this because most of its supporters were bloggers who, as everyone knows, write in their jam-jams and nothing else (and sometimes not even the jam-jams make it in). Then the company tried to trade the pajamas for a more grown-up name. This was a big mistake. The bloggers didn't want a serious company with a serious name; they wanted something fun-loving that made them giggle when they said it. So the bloggers were skeptical. But then the company owners said "Oh, heck with it!" and went back to the fun name. And there was great rejoicing.

In other words, "Open Source Media" is back to "Pajamas Media." This makes me happy for two main reasons: A) Giving a silly name for this company is like giving a huge raspberry to the people who think that the MSM is this great temple of wisdom and purity, and B) It makes me grin and it makes my professors uncomfortable, which makes me grin even more. I'm in a good mood today.

Friday, November 18, 2005

100 cars = normal? What?

There are advantages to having ex-military relatives. One of my uncles, who retired as a fairly high mucky-muck in the USAF, regularly forwards me e-mails which contain all sorts of juicy details about politics and security around the world. Why are these so useful to a lowly college student? They contain tidbits like this one:

1245 GMT -- FRANCE -- Ninety-eight vehicles were torched overnight Nov. 16-17 in France, marking a return to "normal" levels of violence in the country, where about 100 vehicles are set on fire each night, a police spokesman said. The violence, which began Oct. 27, peaked at about 1, 400 vehicles burned the night of Nov. 6. [Emphasis added.--ed.]
"100 vehicles . . . set on fire each night" is "normal"? Boy, I tell you: I can't tell what those crazy French are going to do next!

Obligatory plug so no one gets in trouble: you can subscribe to the service I got this through at www. stratfor.com. Good stuff there.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Take that, MSM!

I am proud (in the vicarious-living sense) to announce the launch of Open Source Media, the first-ever media company to focus, revolve around and depend on blogs and bloggers. While they will also draw stories from the Associated Press and other traditional media organizations, OSM will provide analysis, commentary and reporting from bloggers and citizen journalists around the world. Basically, it's a huge poke in the eye to companies like the New York Times.

While this humble blogger is not currently a member of OSM, she would like to engage in a little manaical laughter on behalf of the entire blogging community. Bwahaha! We will rule the world! The world, I say! Bwahahahahahahahaha!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Awesome site of the day

Today's awesome site: I Love Cheese.

It's awesome because hey, who doesn't love cheese? I had some Jarlsberg over the weekend that was just divine.

I am such a food geek. ^_^

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Conference report

I went to St. Louis for a copy editing conference over the weekend. It was quite an adventure.

To start off with, an hour before we were supposed to leave, I fell down a short flight of stairs and sprained my ankle (I do this a lot). I ended up in the ER getting x-rays, but before the ambulance came I managed to leave my editor a voice-mail telling him what happened. The folks at the paper thought that I wasn't going to come, so they were surprised when I called and asked for a ride so I could get my stuff and get over there.

We finally got on the road at about 3 p.m. and made it to St. Louis by about 7:30. This was accomplished by setting cruise control at about eighty mph all the way there. I rode in the fun car; i.e., the car that mooned the other car (I was the lookout). Friday night was the keynote speaker (a guy with a huge chip on his shoulder--basically said that calling Katrina victims "refugees" proved that America was racist because most of the victims were black), and afterwards they had a meet'n'greet in one of the hotel rooms. I ended up going with a group to a place called Bailey's Chocolate Bar, which was really expensive, but really worth it. Their signature drink is a martini involving steamed milk, Bailey's Irish Cream, vodka and pure liquid dark chocolate. Good Lord, it was good. They also had gourmet cheese (I had Jarslberg swiss--very mild, very smooth) that they served on a little wooden platform (I kid you not) with flatbread, fruit and nuts. And by fruit I mean raspberries and pomegranates. Pretty classy, no? It was in Lafayette Square, which reminded me of (central Indiana references here) Broadripple crossed with downtown Noblesville: cute little restaurants and hair salons in old storefronts. Very chic. I wanted to spend more time there, but I was on crutches and a schedule, so no luck. Plus it was two in the morning.

Saturday started with coffee and bagels and moved right into editing seminars. Topics covered: editing for impact, inside-page design, headline writing (that one was fun), preparing for big stories (like hurricanes) and paper critiques. We also played an AP style trivia game at lunch, and I won a prize (I knew the difference between biweekly and semiweekly). For dinner, everyone went to a great restaurant called Norton's Cafe, which had incredible artichoke/spinach dip and a good wine selection.

By this time, most of the group wanted to get drunk (except me--I'm more of a wine connoisseur wannabe than a serious drinker). Part of the group peeled off and spent the evening at a bar across the street, and the rest of us wandered around St. Louis, looking for an interesting/good time. We spent some time at the arch, which was really cool because there was pretty much nobody else there (the arch is amazing at night). We spent some time at Laclede's Landing and then headed back to the hotel.

Sunday had a couple more seminars (online editing, morale boosting and a conference recap) and then we headed home.

I learned a lot from this trip. Lesson A: booze is expensive. Lesson B: my editor is an insane driver. Lesson C: copy editors are the backbone of the paper, the last line of defense between sloppy reporters and the unsuspecting public. If we don't get the job done right, no one will. Lesson D: only copy editors get copy-editing humor.

Copy editors: you'd miss us if we were gone.

Hand puppets

Insanely cute and amusing link of the day: Lejo. The site's all in Swedish or some such tongue, but if you click on "filmpjes" and then on the little pictures, you'll get to the goodness. Needs Flash.

Woohoo!

Take that, CNN!

The National Review Online has a great article about a great endeavor: Pajama-clad Revolutionaries. It's not really a pull-quote kind of story, but it's short so I don't feel bad about sending you to read the whole thing. And say it with me: Booyah!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why the world's only real superpower lost a war

Turn the TV to any major news broadcast except Fox, and you're bound to hear about how we're losing in Iraq. They won't say it so many words, but the message is there.

This is a big part of why I don't watch TV news.

Dead-tree media is just as bad. The stories about Iraq that come off the AP are overwhelmingly negative (as I discussed in a previous post) and downplay US victories so much that I seriously wonder if they're really working for the other side. I heard today that the ratio of their dead to our dead is somewhere around 25:1. I'm not holding my breath to see that number in the newspaper.

The long and the short of it is, as Jonah Goldberg once said, that if Ernie Pyle were writing today he'd be fired. I don't believe in painting too rosy a picture of a situation--that's not ethical--but neither do I believe in constant defeatism. It's macabre, the way the media fixates on soldier deaths. They give us "grim milestones" and then wonder why homefront morale is so low. Maybe if they, I don't know, told us what was going right once in a while, we'd be a lot happier. Unfortunately, that's unlikely to happen for one simple reason: this is Bush's war, and 90% of the media hates Bush. If this had been Clinton's war, we'd probably be getting more positive coverage.

On the other hand, maybe they're just stuck in the Vietnam era. The editors now were cub reporters then. They're probably trying to get the excitement back. You know what? They did our nation a disservice then, and they're doing our nation a disservice now. Take a page from WWII: quit worrying about how many soldiers died. Worry about how many bad guys they killed in the process. Maybe if you start reporting some positive numbers, morale here will improve and we can all stay free.

Because believe me, when we win this thing, "freedom" will have a whole new ring to it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Arrrr.

Yaharr, mateys. Looks like me rivals in thee tropic seas be havin' a little trouble gettin' thee job done, yar.

Heh heh. I be a-lovin' thee piratey goodness. Now get yerselves back to swabbin' thee poopdecks or I'll take a belayin' pin to ye. Arr.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Light blogging notice

I'm sick, so blogging will probably be light over the weekend. I plan to be back to full strength on Monday unless my cold morphs into the Martian Death Flu (not to be confused with the avian flu).

I am the only one, that when I hear the words "avian flu," I picture a duck or something wrapped in blankets on the sofa, clutching the remote and surrounded by dead kleenexes?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Paris Riot Watch--night seven

People have now been rioting in Paris for a week straight of the riots in Paris. Those of you who bet that the riots would end after six nights need to see Mr. Caldwell after we've finished the meeting. We're now also taking bets on the number of fires these punks start.

I could make an insightful remark about the need for immigrants to assimilate. I could also make a snarky remark about France. But to be perfectly honest, I just don't have the heart.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Good news

Finally, some good news regarding Iran. Zombie provides some interesting photos on a rally by Iranian expats. Even more refreshing is the fact that the rally was organized to protest Ahmadinejad's statements about Israel. Go ye and view the photos, for they be very good.

Correction

Remember the photos of the kid getting his arm run over? Turns out it wasn't shari'a punishment, but a sick sort of sideshow stunt.

It's still inexcusable, though. That kid's going to be traumatized for life.

Paging Dr. Strangelove

Scary news of the day: Iran looks to be gearing up for making its very own nuclear bomb. Iran insists that the uranium enrichment is just for electricity production, but electricity doesn't account for the top-level purges that cleaned out most of Iran's western ambassadors. Ahmadinejad, in my humble opinion, is not a politician to be trusted.

Yeah, I know, that's an obvious statement. I'm just sayin', is all.

Hamlet is spinning in his grave

While the French riots are still going strong, Muslim immigrants in Denmark been rioting at a shopping mall. Apparently there's been nothing about this so far in the English-language media. Via Viking Observer, who kindly provided a translation:

Rosenhøj Mall has several nights in a row been the scene of the worst riots in Århus for years. "This area belongs to us", the youths proclaim. Sunday evening saw a new arson attack.

Their words sound like a clear declaration of war on the Danish society. Police must stay out. The area belongs to immigrants.

Four youths sit on the wall in Rosenhøj Mall sunday afternoon, calling themselves spokesmen for the groups, that three nights in a row have ravaged and tried to burn down the restaurant and other stores.

Around the parking lot, cars with youngsters from the immigrant community are swarming, and many are walking around, greeting each others with a sense of victory after the worst riots in Århus in years.

Every night 30-40 youts took part, especially immigrants.

Only two were arrested.

That was a victory.

"We knew, you would be coming. We are spokesmen", said a young man with a black knitted hood on his head, when JP (Jyllands-Posten - Henrik) visited Rosenhøj Mall sunday. He was angry. Very angry. Behind him the pub Hot Shot has scars after the attacks with cobble stones, and the stores along the parking lot besides the small mall have their windows covered with adhesive tape in a spiderweb pattern.

Go and read the whole thing if you have the time; it's quite revealing. Apparently the kids had been planning this mess for weeks.

What strikes me as interesting is that these people left Lebanon (or Algeria, or wherever) and came to Europe to, one would assume, find a better life. When they don't get that better life just by sitting on their fannies, they riot. And don't play the racism card to explain their lack of success. Using racism as an excuse for one's own lack of initiative is a grievous insult to everyone who has succeeded in spite of it.

Iranian justice in action

In Iran, an 8-year-old boy got caught stealing a loaf of bread. What did they do to punish this errant youngster? Did they spank him? Lecture him? Sit him in the corner for an hour or two?

No, those punishments just weren't good enough.

So they ran over his arm with a truck.

The link has pictures of the event. The boy doesn't seem to be badly injured (his arm seems fine in the last photo) but that doesn't negate the barbarity of the incident. Thank God he wasn't in Saudi Arabia is all I can say. He'd probably have lost his hand there.

UPDATE: the photos turned out to be mislabeled. A corrective post can be found here.

Paris Riot Watch

Ladies and gentlemen, we have now entered the sixth night of rioting in Paris. Odds on the duration of the violence are posted on the far wall next to the door. If you would like to place a bet on just how long the situation will last, please see Mr. Caldwell after the meeting. He will be more than happy to assist you. Please, no crowding; we don't want this meeting to turn into what we're betting on.

On suicide bombers and spoon-feeding

Theodore Dalrymple, a man I have never heard of but want to know more about, has written an essay on the home-grown suicide bomber. He speaks of Britain, but I'm sure the examples he gives would apply to any Western city with an appreciable Muslim immigrant population. A few quotes of interest:

The mere contemplation of a suicide bomber’s state of mind is deeply unsettling, even without considering its practical consequences. I have met a would-be suicide bomber who had not yet had the chance to put his thanatological daydream into practice. What could possibly have produced as embittered a mentality as his—what experience of life, what thoughts, what doctrines? What fathomless depths of self-pity led him to the conclusion that only by killing himself and others could he give a noble and transcendent meaning to his existence? . . .

However secular the tastes of the young Muslim men, they strongly wish to maintain the male dominance they have inherited from their parents. A sister who has the temerity to choose a boyfriend for herself, or who even expresses a desire for an independent social life, is likely to suffer a beating, followed by surveillance of Stasi-like thoroughness. The young men instinctively understand that their inherited system of male domination—which provides them, by means of forced marriage, with sexual gratification at home while simultaneously freeing them from domestic chores and allowing them to live completely Westernized lives outside the home, including further sexual adventures into which their wives cannot inquire—is strong but brittle, rather as communism was: it is an all or nothing phenomenon, and every breach must meet swift punishment.

Even if for no other reason, then (and there are in fact other reasons), young Muslim males have a strong motive for maintaining an identity apart. And since people rarely like to admit low motives for their behavior, such as the wish to maintain a self-gratifying dominance, these young Muslims need a more elevated justification for their conduct toward women. They find it, of course, in a residual Islam: not the Islam of onerous duties, rituals, and prohibitions, which interferes so insistently in day-to-day life, but in an Islam of residual feeling, which allows them a sense of moral superiority to everything around them, including women, without in any way cramping their style. . . .

Dalrymple lays out his case in a thoughtful, compelling manner. For me, though, the most telling part of the essay was his description of a would-be suicide bomber he interviewed. The man, in prison for rape, indicated that since suicide in jail would be a sin, he would wait and become a martyr, thus receiving divine approval for his self-inflicted death. When asked if the government would be justified in holding his family hostage and killing them as an example if he went through with it, he reacted with shock at the idea that any government would consider such a thing. The mind of the fundamentalist revolves around paradoxes; without them, the whole my-way-or-the-highway worldview collapses. It seems to me that self-pity takes up more than its share of space in these paradoxes, too: the idea that "I am entitled to money/drugs/whatever, but I'm also entitled to hate the system that provides them" looks to be rampant in Muslim communities. I think that's a big reason why Muslim culture in general is so messed up. Deep down, selfish entitlement is not a comfortable feeling. Spoon-feed someone for too long without demanding something in return and they start to get cranky because they know they don't deserve it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bad news, weird news (part II)

I may have to rethink my dream of having an apartment in Paris.

The bad news: The Paris riots are still going strong. This makes night #5. And now for the weirdness: apparently this isn't really news because it pretty much happens all the time. Here's the money quote for those unable or unwilling to follow the link:

Since the start of the year, 9,000 police cars have been stoned and, each night, 20 to 40 cars are torched, Sarkozy said in an interview last week with the newspaper Le Monde.
(Sarkozy is the French Interior Minister.)

What if an American city the size of Paris were pulling those numbers? It'd be on the news every night: "Chaos in America!" Frankly, I think it comes down to a lot of north African young men stuck in a tight spot. They can't join Western Civ, but they can't get away from their own shame-based culture either. So they riot.

You know, there are literally hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people who came to America, became Americans, and still maintained a healthy connection with their mother culture. It's part of what makes this nation great. But you'll notice that for the most part, they did so peacefully. Witness Chinatown, for example. Sure there's crime in Chinatown, but there's crime in every urban area. The Chinese immigrants didn't run around torching police cars (at least that I know of). My personal opinion? France was so afraid of offending other cultures that it forgot to preserve its own. Ironic, innit?

Oh, I give up.

"City tackles titillating mannequins."

Iran is now permanently enshrined as exhibit A in my "Weird Earth" atlas. I mean, I can see curbing the window displays at Victoria's Secret, but come on! Actually taking the mannequins? Doesn't that smack of Big Brother?

The real motive behind the confiscations is revealed in the second paragraph of the story:

A spokesman for the city's judiciary, who asked not be named, explained the drive would tackle problems of "public chastity." He said 65 mannequins have been impounded so far.
You know, I'm all for people being chaste in public. Really, I am. But I'd much rather it was because everyone wanted to. You can't force this sort of thing. Just look at Prohibition.

The whole thing reminds me of why I dislike totalitarian systems of government: I don't like someone else making my personal decisions for me.