Disclaimer: Some content is inappropriate for readers under 18 years of age or those offended by swear words, references to sexuality, atheism, and libertarianism.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

List of Dangerous Toys!

Hope you all had a happy holiday and hope you didn't buy any of this shit for the little 'uns! Yay! Risk of lead poisoning, can't beat a holiday with THAT in your stocking!

Eau de Play-Doh

At the risk of looking like I own stock in Hasbro, I just wanted to share this cologne that may have slipped by the eye of the discerning perfume consumer... If it really does smell like the dough, I'm guessing "consumer" may be the right word since I've heard a number of people confess to having eaten the stuff.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Relive Your Childhood.

One of the narcissistic things about having kids is that you get to relive your selfish childhood memories "through them" (ie. violently shove them aside, seizing the toy and going on to entertain yourself for a good half hour or so before you notice your poor child has gotten wedged between the sofa and the wall and has been calling for you to help them for the past twenty minutes. Okay, not really, but I'm sure that's happened to some poor neglected child somewhere...)

This year, we got my daughter Play Doh. Oh my God, do the memories come flooding back... The smell of it, the way it gets stuck under my finger nails, the way it attaches itself firmly to the shag of the carpet with haunting echoes of my mother's cries of "Bloody hell, not more of the stuff stuck in my beige carpet! Stay on the newspaper, for Christ's sake!"

You'll be delighted to know that this new stuff doesn't seem to stick to carpet fibers as voraciously as the stuff I grew up with. And you'll also be delighted to know that I really don't need therapy despite the fact that I hear my mother's voice all the time despite her being thousands of miles away at the moment. I know my mummy loves me and I intend to inflict the same love on my daughter. Let the cycle continue!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Slade Merry Christmas Everybody

I know it's not Christmas just yet, but I wanted to make sure I got this video up with my limited time and all... If you're British, this song IS Christmas.

Emirati Christmas!

Christmas In Dubai!
Funny how in the States political correctness prevents anyone from saying "Christmas" without someone getting their knickers in a twist, and yet here's a Muslim country showing respect for the many followers of Christ who call the Emirates their home. It just fills you up with the spirit of Christmas! :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Squirrels Rock!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe some of this footage was used in a beer advert in Britain a while back...? With Mission Impossible theme music playing in the background.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Marriage To a Child.

"This sobering image, showing a 40-year-old groom sitting beside his 11-year-old future bride in Afghanistan, brought Stephanie Sinclair top honors in the annual Photo of the Year contest sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)." Source- Spiegel

Where do we draw the line between accepted cultural practices and violation of basic human rights? Whose moral compass do we follow? Their country, their laws? Our beliefs forced on them? Neither sounds like a promising option.

If an international body, such as the UN, supplied benefits to its members provided they follow universal laws regarding children, would the dreaded "where would they stop? Where would they draw the line?" argument rear its decidedly inevitable head? Would they fear that the UN would go on to require members to only buy Coke products if they mandated laws against marriage with children? People love making the 'slippery slope' argument. It induces a comforting level of hysteria.

I don't know enough about the UN, but Afghanistan is a member. Perhaps the UN isn't interested in rocking this boat? Perhaps the benefits the UN provides wouldn't be enough to sway the government? Obviously, there are plenty of other countries that are both members of the UN AND permit marriage of an adult to a minor, but this is the one example I'm looking at now.

Your thoughts?

Oh, and to all the freaky weird pedophiles who found this blog because of this particular post's title, you're going to be disappointed. Google analytics scares me sometimes. Because I have had the words "sex" and "children" in my blog- either in unrelated posts or together in a post exposing the exploitation of children- all sorts of disgusting searches have led weirdos here for a split second before they realize these aren't the posts they're looking for.

Weird Photos.

More weird photos in a slideshow!

That giant pig photo is a fake. It's kinda obvious to me.

Eid Mubarak!

To my Muslim readers... Eid Mubarak! Eid Al Adha is coming up imminently, so I thought I'd put out my greeting now before I got all caught up in other stuff... May you have a lovely holiday with your loved ones.

Monday, December 17, 2007

In Need of a Smile- First Islamic Car.

I've been feeling rather maudlin recently, so this made me laugh. Gotta love the Sandmonkey.

I Dreamed of My Father.

He died round about this time five years ago. I dreamed I told him everything he missed out on and I hugged him and told him I was sorry. When I got to the part about my beautiful daughter, I burst into tears at the sheer joy I had of being her mother and knew at that moment how he felt about me.

I woke up and he died once more.

A Lesson Learned.

The picture I posted previous entitled Free To Be reminded me of a relationship I had in high school... While we weren't complete opposites, my friend and I were a visual mismatch. She wore the hijab and wore long skirts while I wore tight tops baring a little cleavage and blue jeans. We grew to be very good friends in the last days of childhood and innocence and enjoyed the most fantastic lunch bells together in school. We'd go sit by the soccer field and share experiences, stories, opinions, beliefs, meditative moments, poetry (she adored Kubla Khan) and the best stupid jokes in the world. She was particularly fond of the frog in the blender jokes. Her voice rose barely above a whisper, her thoughts were always of others, and she cried when she got really angry which was a rare occurrence. I talked her, with ease, into joining me for volunteer work after school every Wednesday, playing with "orphaned" kids with disabilities at the hospital they called their home. We both felt the innate desire to help others, and I doubt she's changed much. She was from Bangladesh and always said she'd return their to be an OB-GYN as the mortality rate in childbirth is rather high. I was well on my way to learning how to interact with children of various disabilities.

You may only meet four of her kind in your life time, if you're really lucky. She's the friend who personifies all that is good and right in humanity, faults and all.

Anyway, we decided it was about time we went out for lunch together and I suggested a place my family used to go to once in a while. She left a note for her mother and I watched her write in her native language and never realized how beautiful it was until then. She often told me folk tales from her country, which I adored, but seeing her write a simple note to her mother was just as poetic to me!

We showed up at the restaurant and while I was prepared for some staring at our apparent polar appearances, I wasn't prepared for THAT much. We were generally preoccupied in laughing the entire time, and our noticing the room's interest in us made us laugh all the more. She enjoyed the place enough that she tried to take her family there the following weekend. She later told me of the embarrassment she faced when she tried.

Maitre d': You may sit, but the ladies have to take off the head scarf.
My friend: Excuse me?
Maitre d': We can't allow Muslims inside. We sell alcohol. You may sit, but you have to remove your head scarves.

Now, for any non-Muslim here who may not know, this would be like telling a woman she could sit down if she took her blouse off and let out all of Victoria's secrets. Obviously, my friend and her female relatives declined the offer and left.

I was furious with myself for not having known. I really had no idea. I burned with shame for having let such an embarrassing thing happen to one of the nicest people I will ever know. Apparently, when they let us in they risked getting into trouble with the government for permitting a Muslim on the premises and I had NO idea. They must have slipped up, or something. I wasn't angry with them, just myself.

A while ago, my e-mail got wiped out and I lost her contact information. I guess the inevitable will happen and she'll show up on Facebook, and that will be a fantastic day... Because it's about time we were both in tears again laughing at the misfortune of an amphibian in a kitchen device.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Free To Be.

I saw this on Sudanese Thinker's blog. Love it.

Trying To Make Sense of the Senseless.

Here's an interesting interview with M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. While he doesn't delve into why the "Islamists" feel the violence is the best course of action- their "reasoning", as it were- he places emphasis on open discussion. Here's a little extract I found rather interesting:

The power of minority politics to cloud the judgment of the masses cannot be overstated. One of the great achievements of classical liberalism and Western Enlightenment of our Founding Fathers was the appreciation of the need for our communities to always lift up the rights of the individual over that of the community. Western freedom is maintained in a tradition which questions authority, and rejects collectivism and tribalism. That tradition, while occasionally threatened and violated by various obvious political interests in the U.S. is still a central part of our behavior and character as Americans. Our liberty-culture will turn itself upside-down to help one child, one victim who immediately captures the hearts of Americans.

This mindset is the greatest antidote to Islamist tribalism and collectivism. With my work since 9/11 in combating political Islam, I would have been much less concerned about my safety and that of my family if only the vast majority of my Islamist enemies would simply address the ideas which I raise and debate me in an open respectful forum. However, endemic tribalism, corruption, and often fascism drive a political propaganda machine which would much
rather demonize its adversaries than actually address the substance of the issues raised. When they are not demonizing me and other anti-Islamists, or portraying false exaggerated associations, Islamists prefer to just run and hide from open respectful debate about the issue of Islamism. Islamists would rather continue wallowing in denial. They prefer to project responsibility for terrorism upon everyone else in the world, rather than placing the responsibility upon the ideology of political Islam and the toxicity of the dreams of an Islamic state. They would much rather debate non-Muslims or former Muslims, because they can change the debate focus to Islamophobia, rather than the central issue of Islamism.

While I agree in his beliefs as to why extremists struggle to debate issues respectfully, this interview is missing something in the fact that he doesn't attempt to explain why these people are so blind with rage that they'd be willing to kill a bus load of children, for example, to make a point... You don't do something like that without having what you believe to be a damn good reason. Now obviously, I don't condone their actions, but not enough is being done to look into why they do things like that.

I hate to make a patronizing analogy, but if I'm to base my arguments on experience, the best experience I have is as a teacher. In order to extinguish a repeated behavior you find disagreeable, you very basically have two courses of action... Find out why it's happening and provide the student with alternatives OR use punishments or rewards every time the behavior is exhibited or not exhibited. For the lazier teacher, using punishments over and over is the easiest course of action, but if the behavior is still occurring, it's because the problem hasn't gone away or the student is getting the response they want from you and so continue to do it to get that reaction from you.

It's so easy to say "that kid is just plain bad, there's no reasoning with him and I'm fairly certain there's a '666' under his hair. You've just got to lay it on him real hard." For some kids, "laying it" on him may do the trick, but for the repeat offenders, they're either continuing with the behavior because he can't help it (something that may require therapy, drugs) or there's a reason so deeply ingrained it's going to take effort to a) discover what it is and b) find out how to provide the child with alternatives. I have a hard time believing the entire population of Islamic fundamentalists are all clinically insane, despite what their actions indicate. Many of them may qualify as clinically depressed, but not because they were born that way.

They're not a population of evil people. They just react in evil ways because in their helplessness, it's all they feel they can do to make a lasting impression on the world and make their voices heard. They've lost their homes, their land, their businesses, their educations, and no one listens to them because they have been defined by their final actions.

I'm reminded of the musical "Assassins" by Stephen Sondheim. Each assassin felt powerless to make positive changes in their lives and so they lashed out in a way they knew would show the world they meant business. I've seen students who honestly believe there is no way in hell their lives will get any better and it's almost inevitable that they go on doing destructive (often self-destructive) things because they refuse to believe they can make any other kind of contribution to the world or to their own lives.

Now I know there are people who scour the world looking to be offended and someone will take this post to be pro-Islamic fundamentalist, which it most certainly is NOT. I'm just trying to figure out WHY. On the surface, I share Dr. Jasser's perspective, but the situation is far more complex than that and I believe change will only take place once start looking into the "why". I look forward to reading future installments of this interview to see if any of this is addressed.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

2007: Looking Back At The Weird- Slideshow

Provided by WCBSTV.com Enjoy.

Terry Pratchett "I Am Not Dead" But Has Alzheimer's.

Dammit, this freaking sucks. Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's disease. Obviously, it sucks for anyone to suffer this debilitating disease, but I love Terry Pratchett. I wrote to him once and he actually wrote back. I like big important people who don't act big and important.

Glad to hear he's facing it with the kind of humor we'd expect from him... Also glad to hear his stories are being adapted for the small screen... I saw some of the cartoons based on his stuff, but not live action.

To quote Death, "Bugger."

To Kid or Not To Kid.

I've recently noticed a number of stories in the news about adoptions going wrong and the parents wanting to return the child to foster care. Here are two very different stories... One is about a Dutch couple who want to give back the seven year old they had adopted when she was 4 months old, and the other is about a woman who stuck to the decision she made despite her three abused adoptive daughters who made her life a living hell.

Regarding the first story... What a load of bollocks. How on earth can they argue that the child doesn't fit in when they were the only people to raise her? I think people give up so easily on marriage and child-rearing because they have some misguided conception that it's all sunshine, musical numbers, and rich chocolate Ovaltine. In my opinion, raising a child is a fucking amazing thing for people who a) want kids in the first place, b) are lucky enough to have what it takes to raise one both financially and emotionally, and c) realizes there will always be bumps in the road no matter what you do.

I thoroughly respect the opinions of people who don't want to have kids, and applaud the ones who are safe (ie. contraception, not abortion!) to not have them and not make themselves and their kid miserable. For the ones who accidentally get pregnant and give the kid up for adoption, that's sad, but I respect that decision too... But to adopt a kid as a baby and raise it until it's 7 years old and then want to give it back? What a pair of wankers. One can hope that her going back into foster care may have saved her a life of misery being stuck with a pair of shits who obviously don't love her, but that doesn't change the fact that they're a pair of shits. I wonder how their biological children will feel about the whole story when they grow up and find out about it.

Remember everyone, a child isn't just for Christmas. If the kid's lucky, he'll get to stick around for New Year's too before you kick him out on his ass.

As for the second story, holy Jebus. That poor woman. God knows how freaking annoying teenagers can be, but to try to raise three who had been abused as children must be one of the most emotionally draining adoptions ever. You can't undo something as tragic as that easily, if at all. I'm just grateful for someone like Dawn who is willing to take on a task very few would.

Muslim Saves Jew.

Yep, another fuzzy story to warm the heart... A Jewish man, Walter Adler, got beaten up on a New York subway and the only individual to come to his rescue was Hassan Askari, who happens to be Muslim but is primarily just a decent human being.

I would feel so useless in a situation such as this... I'd hope there was some busker on board with a guitar so I could smash it over someone's head, because I doubt I could handle myself with fists only.

I try to stop fights at work before they get serious, though I seriously doubt most of them would have gotten serious. They were probably relieved I stepped in so it would look like I had stopped something that otherwise would have been bloody, but really would have resulted in one party revealing what a crappy fighter he is. If they REALLY wanted to fight, I doubt my presence would make much of a difference. I'm not at all imposing and my voice doesn't carry well unless acoustics are on my side.

When I was pregnant, I would forget myself and try to break up a festering situation, but what can you do when there's no other adult intervening? If they had really intended on fighting, the fact that a pregnant woman was in proximity wouldn't mean a thing. Heck, when they're not fighting it sometimes doesn't mean a thing. This one idiot was late for a class and pushed me aside at the top of some stairs before galloping down past me. Luckily, my fall was stopped by the wall he kindly shoved me into, which I managed to use grab on to and avoid falling down the stairs. I actually felt guilty when he got into all sorts of trouble with his mother because of that, but then there really has to come a time when we expect a little more from these kids.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Advertising In Your Head?

I don't know whether I would find this more offensive if I was actually there to experience it or not, but right now I think this is SUCH a cool way to advertise a TV show about the paranormal... They transmit sound as an "audio spotlight" such that it sounds really close to you, as though some unseen person is within whisper-range.

Now if this became a method of advertising for EVERYTHING, that's when it would get annoying. While I don't believe in the paranormal, it makes for good storytelling but I don't think I'll be checking out Paranormal State. The cheese factor looks a little to high for me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bob and Doug McKenzie Wish You a Merry Christmas

I'd never heard the dialogue before the song starts... The song is funnier. Especially if you know the characters Bob and Doug played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. Hoser.

Christmas Is All Around

This is one of my new favorite Christmas songs. And yes, it's meant to be a pardoy of an aging rock star trying to cover up his loss of youth with sexy moves, sexy women, and sexy camera angles. Only... Bill Night IS sexy... If you haven't seen Love Actually, it's a charming romantic comedy with Christmasy bits, sad bits, and hidden nudity bits. I'm not a big fan of romantic comedies, but I liked this one.

My Stabbed Student.

Christmas and Hanukkah are just about here and I'm not seeing an awful lot of cheer amongst my students. Actually, I feel like crap for some of them. One of my girls got stabbed by her sister with a FORK. Her stitches made me cringe. Too often, my students have shared with me what they feel to be normal events in their lives, and my student could have been telling me she had macaroni and cheese last night.

TeacherLady: What happened?

Stabbed Student: Nothing. Me an' my sister got in a fight. She stabbed me. With a fork.

We sat in silence for a moment.

TeacherLady: I'm sorry that happened to you. That kind of stuff isn't supposed to happen. You know that's not how to settle an argument, right?

She looked me in the eye and it felt as though we both knew the futility of the conversation. She's a good girl, she knows it's wrong. Some don't, but she does, despite her feigned rough exterior. I've heard students tell me they know they've found the right guy when he doesn't hit them much. What kind of lives must they live to think that's an acceptable standard?

Stabbed Student: Do you have any Band Aids? This stuff is falling off.

TeacherLady: Sure.

I feel my hands go a little weak as I help position fresh Band Aids to hold the gauze over the blue stitches. My forks at home aren't very sharp. What kind of force would it take to dig a fork in that deep?

She tells me 241-KIDS is going to make a home visit. I know nothing good will come of this and I tell her I hope her sister never does anything like that again and that I'm sure she loves her very much, but that she made the wrong decision.

As usual, my student gets almost all of her work done in every class, and when she's finished, she puts her head against her desk and sucks her fingers.

I Heart My Bic.

The following are reviews from Amazon.co.uk for the omnipresent Bic pen... Enjoy! (Where else could you find a review for a ballpoint pen that makes reference to Cthulhu?)

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent pen! Some issues..., 10 Dec 2007
By Matthew R. Balousek (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
Upon receiving my order, I carefully opened the box and dug through the packing peanuts in order to get to the pen contained therein. 'Beautiful!', I thought, and promptly opened up my moleskine notebook to jot down to myself some notes. My previous pen had ran out of ink four weeks prior and I didn't want to splurge on expensive shipping, which meant I had a lot of notes to catch up on writing.

But, when that quality carbide ball touched the surface of the paper, it was not ink that came out. From a distance I heard the screams of men and the cackling of innumerable ravens. I stopped, cold and sweating profusely. I looked down at the Bic Crystal black medium ballpoint pen which I held in my hand, only to see darkness. I dashed it against the wall, recoiling in horror. I saw in the corner of my eye my faithful notebook, which now lay on the ground. Once unmarred, I saw now the small mark which I had made with the devil's own pen. It spread across the page like a plague, and looking at it I gazed upon true horrors. For, what I thought had been ink was in fact a portal to a dark, unforgiving dimension. A portal whose maw was now widening to engulf all hope and joy in the world.

'God, what have I done?' I exclaimed as I weeped and fell to my knees, 'What have I done?'

From beyond the Dark Gate I heard these words, words which I can never forget. A terrible, booming voice said to me, 'Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn!'

I ran, blindly stumbling, away from that place and never looked back. My only hope is that none shall follow in the path I've walked down, too blinded by hubris to realize my follies.

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect For Spooling Leftover Linguini (Brava, Bic!), 9 Dec 2007
Since 1994, I've been suffering from a mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that makes me hate (HATE) disorganization in my leftover pasta. I can't sleep knowing that tangles of spaghettini quietly choke each other, locked away in their tupperware world deep inside my fridge.

Just so you understand how much of a stickler I am: every picture frame in my house is level to within a .001% gradient (I readjust daily). You could eat off my floors - if I permitted such activity, which I don't, because, hello, eating off the floors messes up the very floors you're proudly boasting about in terms of their eat-offability. The television is always shut down on an even-numbered channel. There are no forks in my kitchen draws, they're all stored neatly in archive-quality envelopes in an adjoining room.

I am clearly someone who takes order seriously, and I do not skimp when it comes to the tools that stave off the ever-encroaching entropy of the universe. And I can conclusively declare that these pens are the PERFECT (the ***PERFECT***) thing to use for spooling cooked linguini for storage purposes. You'll find that one tightly rolled piece will fit precisely between top and cap. It's as if they made these things for that precise purpose! And for those who double spool, the plastic "grips" the first strand beautifully, so you can get a nice, even second outside spool.

One thing I'd definitely caution about: never spool just-cooked pasta on plastic. Melting is, of course, unlikely, but you'll find that a definite plastic taste will permeate your noodles if they're too hot. I find that cooling the pasta to somewhere between 85 and 90 degrees (I have a battery-powered handheld fan for this purpose) will result in a nice tight spool with no plasticky-aftertaste in the reheating.

Fortunately, the pens are cheap enough to buy in bulk. I don't happen to double spool, so I require several dozen to store a bowlful of cooked linguini. Your mileage, of course, may vary. But at this price, why not go for it?

8 of 23 people found the following review helpful:
2.0 out of 5 stars Ink Bath, 9 Dec 2007
By Argus Human Rights "sagacityfilms" (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
Sure, this is a great pen if you want to take an ink bath.

I too was excited about my order of the Bic Crystal ballpoint pen, medium point, black. I had a lot of things to write and this pen seemed like it could really do the job, especially with its 2km write out length!

My package arrived (you're right, that was some good packaging. I even used the styrofoam peanuts with some paint and glue to make Christmas ornaments) and quickly tore into it. I laid out a sheet of my favorite paper (8 1/2" x 11" college ruled), yanked off the cap and thrust the pen towards the paper. Upon contact a small puddle of black ink formed. I wasn't too worried because it was only the initial flow and I felt it would subside. It did at first and the ink began to flow more evenly. Due to the adult nature of my writings I cannot here tell you the words I was forming with this pen but they were magical and for a brief moment the pen was magical too but suddenly and with complete indifference to my magic, the pen turned on me. My letters were getting fatter and the words becoming difficult to interpret. I decided to take a break and try again later so I firmly placed the cap back on and placed the pen in my pocket. In hindsight, I see this was a bad idea. I went about my day in my ordinary way. Later, while alphabetizing my spices I felt a wet sensation on my leg. I looked down and sure enough my pen was leaking in my pocket. I took it out and ink bled onto my fingers and dripped to the floor. Ultimately I got ink on my pants, shirt, hands and face. I'm still trying to get it off my face and feel so embarrassed I don't go out anymore. I really hope this tragedy doesn't befall anyone else. I hope my pen was just a bad apple.

829 of 835 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good if you need to write on paper, 7 Mar 2007
Since taking delivery of my pen I have been very happy with the quality of ink deposition on the various types of paper that I have used. On the first day when I excitedly unwrapped my pen (thanks for the high quality packaging Amazon!) I just couldn't contain my excitement and went around finding things to write on, like the shopping list on the notice board in our kitchen, the Post-it notes next to the phone, and on my favourite lined A4 pad at the side of my desk.

My pen is the transparent type with a blue lid. I selected this one in preference to the orange type because I like to be able to see how much ink I have left so that I can put in another order before I finally run out.

When the initial excitement of taking delivery of my new pen started to wear off I realised that I shouldn't just write for the fun of it, this should be a serious enterprise, so by the second day of ownership I started to take a little more care of what I wrote. I used it to sign three letters, and in each case was perfectly happy with the neatness of handwriting that I was able to achieve.

I have a helpful tip for you that you might not know about - if you let the ink dry for a few seconds you can avoid the smudging that sometimes happens if you rub the ink immediately after writing. Fortunately the ink used in this particular Bic pen seems to dry very quickly.

On the third day of ownership I went on a trip to London and took my pen carefully packed away in my brief case, but I needn't have worried, this isn't some temperamental ink pen that leaks when you store it at the wrong angle. I sat at my meeting and confidently removed the cap from my pen and it wrote flawlessly, almost immediately.

I notice that the barrel of the pen has been crafted very carefully to fit in the pen holder down the edge of my Filofax. It's not so grippy so that it is hard to remove when I want to make a quick note, and yet not so loose that it falls out too easily when I open my Filofax in a hurry. Maybe the choice of surface texture on the pen has some part to play here, because it seems that the inside of the leather grip on the pen holder in my Filofax has just the right level of adhesion that I can be confident when I need to reach in and get my pen it's going to be just where I left it!

Today is the fourth day of ownership of my pen, and I have to say I'm starting to treat it like an old friend. I walk around the office with it clipped in to my shirt pocket and someone in the accounts department actually asked to borrow it while we were both standing at the photocopier. Would you believe it, they actually tried to walk away with my pen! They were very embarrassed when I called after them as they walked down the corridor and asked for it back. You will be happy to know that it is now back, safe and sound in my top pocket, ready and waiting to start writing again.

In summary, I would happily recommend this pen to anyone who is planning on writing on paper. If you are considering a writing implement for some other surface such as writing on a CD, or other non-porous substances then another pen might be better suited, but if it's just plain old paper then I think you will probably be well served by this particular model.

Muslim Clerics Light Hanukkah Candles.

Aww. I like little fluffy stories like this one, even though it doesn't do anything on a global scale, it warms a few hearts at least. If you're dying of thirst in a desert, a tiny sip of water can be refreshing.

Alleged Honor Killing Attempt Made On Teen in Mississauga.

Sadly, there's no way I could possibly keep up with these types of stories. There are far too many of them.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Thousand-Hand Guan Yin.

These fine dancers are apparently deaf, but you don't have to be hearing to be an amazing dancer. We all know the guy or gal who can hear just fine, but apparently went to the Mr. Bean school of dancing.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Happy Hanukkah/Chanukah!

However you spell it, it's Hanukkah time! Just don't let anyone hate on your menorah because it's bigger than what they've got...
Anyway, to my practicing Jewish readers, happy Hanukkah.

Woolworths' Simpsons Makeover?

Is this true? Sounds bizarre to me. A Woolies is a Woolies and Simpson-izing it just sounds odd to me.

Are You a Fanatic on the Middle East?

I found some of the comments made by Mr. Burston interesting in terms of perspective from both sides of the Israeli-Arab conflict. While a little over-simplified and obviously biased, thar be truth in bits of it. Now if both sides were better represented in a "quiz" such as this, I'd be a little more interested. The source of the quiz is in the hyperlinked title.

Self Test: Are you a fanatic on the Middle East?
By Bradley Burston.

Ask fanatics whether they are fanatics, and the answer they are likely to give is a calm No.

It's an honest answer. It reflects a self-conception of clear thinking, unsullied judgment, broad knowledge, and political consistency.

The fact that it is often dead wrong never seems to intrude. It's a primary perk of the genuinely extreme.

So how can you possibly tell if you are, in fact, a fanatic? As a start, take the following self-test.

Part One [30 Points]: True or False - The more I learn about the Israeli-Arab conflict, the clearer it becomes.

Part Two [70 Points]: The following are a list of Seven Deadly Sins of the Mideast. For each, answer the following question, regarding the two sides of the Israeli-Arab divide, with respect to the side that ethnicity, religion, lineage, and/or sentiment place you on.

A. The other side is constantly guilty of this sin.
B. Both sides are often guilty of this sin.
C. The other side is flagrantly guilty of this sin, and my side is often and unjustly accused of it.
D. My side is flagrantly guilty of this sin, and the other side is often and unjustly accused of it.

1. Gall

Example: In an interview on the eve of a state visit to London in late October, Saudi King Abdullah accused Britain of failing to act strongly enough to combat international terrorism. He told the BBC that most countries, Britain included, did not view terrorism seriously enough.

"It will take 20 to 30 years to defeat the scourge of terrorism with vigilant effort," he said. "And I strongly urge all countries in the world, including Great Britain, to take the matter of fighting terrorism very, very seriously."

This, from the nation which remains the world's pre-eminent source of funding for terrorism.

This, from the royal family which spawned - and until he turned his guns around to face them, sponsored - Osama Bin Laden.

This, from the country which brought you 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, and which did precious little about it afterward.

2. Sanctimony

Example: June, 2006. Seven Palestinian civilians are killed in an explosion in Gaza. It may have been an errant artillery shell, a buried artillery shell, or some other explosive. Israel's response is instinctive.

"The IDF is the most moral army in the world," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tells his cabinet.

"It does not and never has made a policy of targeting civilians."

ASIDE: Let us, for the moment, put aside the debate comparing intentional versus incidental killing of civilians. Let us consider, instead, the possibility that the only truly moral army is the one which never faces an enemy, one which never fires a shot. One which is never at war.

Those who have served in the IDF will attest both to acts of extraordinary humanity under fire, and egregious acts of gratuitous cruelty in carrying out the duties of occupation. Neither, strictly speaking, are policy. They are a reflection of the broad autonomy of action granted Israeli commanders and soldiers.

3. Obscenities of Honor

Example: From a 1998 article http://www.merip.org/mer/mer206/ruggi.htm on Honor Killings in Palestine by journalist Suzanne Ruggi in the Middle East Report:

"Every year, hundreds of women and girls are murdered in the Middle East by male family members. The honor killing-the execution of a female family member for perceived misuse of her sexuality-is a thorny social and political issue. Palestinian activists campaigning for equality find it difficult to stop the killings altogether. Legitimacy for such murders stems from a complex code of honor ingrained in the consciousness of some sectors of Palestinian society."

"The family constitutes the fundamental building-block of Palestinian society. Family status is largely dependent upon its honor, much of which is determined by the respectability of its daughters, who can damage it irreparably by the perceived misuse of their sexuality."

4. Obscenities of Victimhood
THE MECHANISM: [Repeat until convinced]
I am the victim. I am the only victim. There is no other victim before me. The other side, if it suffers, has brought this suffering on itself. The other side, if it suffers, cannot know how my side has suffered immeasurably more. The other side, if it suffers, deserves it.

5. Racism
ASIDE: Examples are legion. In many areas of the Middle East, Muslims of Arab origin mistreat Muslims of African origin, calling them "slave," shunning them or, in cases like Sudan, slaughtering them.

In Israel, there is an elaborate, multi-tiered pecking helix of racism and mutual hatreds, among them the Ashkenazi-Sephardi divide, the Jewish-Arab divide, and local feuds along such ethic lines as Jews of Russian, Moroccan and Ethiopian origin.

6. Obscenities of Higher Law, or, Claiming God's Will for Immoral Acts
MECHANISM: Holy men sanction and legitimize violence against innocents and against institutions of religious denominations they oppose.

7. Lust for Vengeance
Fill in your favorite.

Part One: True - 30 Points. False ? 0.
Part Two: For every C or D answer, 10 points. For every A answer, 5 Points. For every B answer, 0 points.

70 Points and above: Congratulations. You are a true fanatic.
40-65 Points: You are conflicted, and may find yourself envying the conviction and apparent happiness of the fanatic.
Less than 40 points: You are doomed to a certain level of woe. You are the true victim of the Seven Deadly Sins - a moderate.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Victim of Hate.

A horrifying account given by a surgeon in Mpumalanga, South Africa who assisted in a surgery for a woman who was attacked by men wielding machetes. They attacked her because of her race. She's a little older than my own mother. How very sad.

While Stuck In Traffic...

I was stuck in traffic the other day and in my usual "silver lining" state of mind, I came to the conclusion that "at least I don't have diarrhea right now, because that was SUCK." I sincerely hope this never happens to any of us... Unless we really deserve it.

So it was with mild amusement that I found this picture today... The tiny illustration wasn't necessary. I feel it would have been better without it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pork Chop Is a Racist Slur?

I can't seem to find any info online at the moment about how "Pork Chop" is a racial slur towards Latino people... Does anyone know where the origins of this come from? The only story I can find connecting the term to racism is the recent mascot story from Philadelphia. Can someone enlighten me? I thought it would be used to insult someone of a heavy build. I've heard it used as a term of affection in some comedy, I think, but I'm guessing that wasn't in the case of Mr. Lopez.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Dream of Some, the Nightmare of Others.

Mohammad Usman is the only male student on campus. While this isn't big news, I'm placing bets that some genius in Hollywood will think this will make an EXCELLENT romantic comedy. Hilarity ensues. Then again, it's probably already done in various incarnations already, it's not exactly a unique concept.

Ham For Jews?

These photos taken at the Balducci's on 8th Ave at 14th Street, on Sunday, 12/2, and kindly provided by NancyKay.
According to her, the tags were later changed to read "Delicious for the holidays". It's sad that I am perfectly willing to believe this happened, because I wouldn't put it past someone to be so clueless.

Banksy Is Back In The West Bank.

Actually, more specifically at the West Bank barrier, as well as the work of other local and international artists. That must be one heck of a powerful art exhibit. I must do a search on Palestinian and Israeli artworks...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Offices.

I'm a big fan of Ricky Gervais' work. I've only seen one episode of Exras, but I can tell I'm going to enjoy that almost as much as The Office. I'm also a fan of Steve Carell and the American version of The Office. Can it be? A fan of BOTH series? Yup, I love both versions in their uniqueness and similarities.

The British version is far more crude with language that would never make it onto Prime time American television.

Gareth is marginally creepier than Dwight and far less capable of appropriate human interaction than Dwight, if that's at all possible.
It's hard to know how David Brent and Michael Scott would react should they ever meet face to face. Would their equally enormous egos result in their completing each other's sentences, or would they react with the destruction of a nuclear bomb? I have a feeling they'd get on each other's nerves since neither recognizes their own ability to annoy those around them.
I find Tim and Jim equally charming and sweet.
Dawn's fiance was far more of an asshole in the British version, making it all the more sad that she stuck by him for the whole series and making it easier to root for her going for Tim. Pam's fiance wasn't as cruel, making it all the more tragic when she does decide to leace him. Both are interesting dynamics for the characters.
People complain that the US version is "American". Um. Yes, it does have an American influence because American people are involved in the production, but it's not always a bad thing for a show to be "American" and they didn't totally Hollywoodize it. The people it are funny, talented, and aren't plastic looking. I'm not saying they're fugly or anything, they're just not all bleached teeth and fake tits. Well, maybe Jan... ;)
All in all, I bet both casts are great fun to work and play with and I enjoy seeing them all in their various professional endeavors... Well, except that romantic comedy I didn't watch with John Krasinski in it. I love you, John, but that film didn't look too great to me. I'm wary of any comedies Robin Williams does nowadays...
If there were subtitled versions, I'd be interested to watch the various international takes on The Office. That would be interesting, I bet.
Anyway. I'll be getting off now. That's what she said.

Happy National Day, U.A.E.!

I'd like to take this opportunity to say "Happy National Day!" to my Emirati readers. I saw that was coming up and wanted to make sure to say congrats on the special day. And thanks for swooping in with that Citibank rescue... You may single-handedly save the dollar!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mo The Bear.

As simplistic as Sandmonkey may think his post was, it was an effective little summary of the poor Teddy bear Woman, as she is now known. It's all very embarrassing that more attention has been given to this by the protesting Muslim hordes than to the many, many victims of rape and slaughter by the Junjaweed.
Feel free to saunter over to Sudanese Thinker, his perspective is obviously far more valid than my own.