Friday, November 30, 2007

Changing My Mind About The War

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov. 30 — Hundreds of demonstrators in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, poured into the streets on Friday demanding the execution of a British teacher who was convicted of insulting Islam because her class of 7-year-olds named a teddy bear Muhammad.

So, Dear Reader, what are we to make of this?

Bear in mind (sorry, couldn't resist) that the poor teacher has now been convicted, and is in a Sudanese prison. On your list of places you don't want to be, where would "Sudanese prison" fall?

The Sudanese government, trying to have it both ways, says that the judge gave her a "light" sentence. What a hero. But we are not told what "light sentence" means. Apparently, she could be "lashed" as a part of her sentence, but it is not clear if this was a part of the sentence or not. Lashing is generally done with a stick or wooden rod. And it hurts real bad.

Seeing these stories about our friends from the religion of peace, I am not finding peace in my heart. I am feeling that I have been naive. Maybe they are very different from us after all.

Consider in contrast our last batch of global enemies, the Communists. Westerners more or less relied on the Reds as being much the same kind of people that we were, "deep down." In those cold war days, American young people could backpack through Europe without worrying that some Communist terrorist was going to kill them just for being American. But this Muslim (Moslem? Islamic? Moorish?) terrorist bunch, with their fondness for sawing off people's heads, brings a whole new dynamic to the table. And it's not good. The Communists had real power, and were reasonable, from their perspective. Our new enemies, not so much.

I've met a good many Arabs and Muslims, and they all seemed as OK as anybody else. But something has gone very wrong in their world when a crowd gathers to demand that a teacher be executed for naming a toy bear Mohammad. Or is it Muhammad? This is insulting to Islam? If Big Mo were alive today (as he allegedly is, having bodily ascended into heaven), would he really be insulted by this? The whole story is that the kids actually named the stupid bear anyway. So why aren't they in the dock?

This type of bullying is what makes people like me mad. And bullying it is. I'm as certain as I can be (from here) that the fact that the teacher, Gillian Gibbons, is a non-Muslim woman plays a big part in this fiasco.

She's British. The Brits shouldn't put up with this. I'd like to see the Royal Marines bust her out. An old fashioned jail break! I'd like to see us help.

Related old movie recommendation: The Wind and the Lion, starring Sean Connery and Candice Bergin. An Arab sheikh, on horseback no less, kidnaps an American woman and her children, and President Teddy Roosevelt sends the Marines to rescue her. Good stuff.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Potpourri - Weekend Review

Cheers to Toys R Us for coming through on their promise of a sizable shipment of Wii's Sunday morning. I was in line by 6:40 am. I was twentieth. The electronic games clerk had told me that 20 Wii's were expected, so I was nervous. But the other hopeful consumers told me that the latest word was that there would be 30, which eased my apprehension. And 30 it was, as confirmed at 7:30 am by a store employee sent out to update us, "the line."

So we stood in the cold, cloudy sunrise, cheerful of our soon to be consummated victory in toy shopping. It was pretty cool. We got one! I felt good and went home satisfied.

The little boys will love it. I can picture them already, asking that it be hooked up right away while they impatiently ask questions and get in the way. It's gonna be good.

The wife and I (boy, don't women hate that phrase) have taken to renting tv shows instead of movies. It seems like a lot more movies than normal really stink lately. I don't know much about how they make movies, but I'm suspecting that market research and test-screening have displaced whatever was left of artistic vision, leaving us with movies that all basically seem the same.

So we watched the entire first season of "Big Love." It was FANTASTIC. As my four year old said when we took him to the ballet, to see Peter Pan, "I thought this would be stupid, but it's not!" It's the best show I've seen since the Sopranos. I won't go into detail here, since this is a review of the weekend and not the show. But get past the first two episodes and it really gets good.

So, inspired, we rented "Weeds" on Friday night. SUCKS! The upside is that Mary Louise Parker does look pretty good in it. And Elizabeth Perkins is pretty sexy as an upscale, suburban, middle aged, boozy floozy. The show though, is shallow, over the top cynical, and self-consciously profane. It makes us wonder if there is an actual group of low-lifes in Hollywood who think that lots of real people live the same trashy life that they do, and that they are showing gritty realism with this crap. Well, most people don't. And it's not realistic. And it's not even entertaining. It's just annoyingly bad.

We are still running out of water here in Atlanta. Our state plan is to pray for rain. While that may seem like a risky strategy to some, it is way better than the federal plan, which is to do nothing. Unfortunately, the feds control the water we do have, and are sending it down to Florida. Trivia quiz: Which state gets the most rainfall every year? I'll give you a hint - FLORIDA! That is just the first of many of the string of absurdities that constitute this fiasco. And so, we pray for rain.

Back in Iraq, the military part of the surge has worked, but the political part has not. Looks like a nice Medal of Freedom in Condi's future for totally screwing this up.

OJ . . . well, who really cares anymore.

The sheikhs are really crazy rich again. Just like in the 70's. At least we should get some new gossip fodder out of them for the E! channel.

They've finally caught Barry Bonds. Apparently he has been hiding out in San Francisco this whole time. Still awaiting word on Osama Bin Laden. But at least one public enemy is being brought to justice. Your tax dollars are hard at work. Aren't you glad you voted to spend billions more for more security? Maybe next the feds will track down Brandi Chastain for exposing her sports bra years ago. We'll all feel safer then.

Something is happening in Pakistan, and we don't like it. They are, in fact, either with us or with the terrorists. Apparently they decided to answer that question with a determined "Yes."

Hillary is kicking ass every day, despite the newsies trying to pretend there's a horse race to be had. Rudy is ahead of the rest of the reds. He's what we used to call "one weird dude." Chicks dig him. Go figure. He just seems creepy.

Kansas may play for the national championship. No, in football. Seriously.

Is it just me, or does the Biden plan to split Iraq into 3 parts for Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds sound a lot like an intro to ethnic cleansing?

Asked why the US had any influence to tell Pakistan what to do, the answer is that we give them $10 billion a year. So I guess giving money influences Pakistani politicians, but not American politicians. Aren't we fortunate for that.

The anti global warming crowd is claiming that while the North Pole is shrinking, the South Pole is growing. Maybe the Earth is just getting middle aged and it's weight is shifting south.

That missing kid who's picture is on the Internet still isn't real.

The dollar has bottomed out. That sounds bad but it's really good. Oil has topped out. Ditto. The war will end one way or the other. So, by next summer our economy should be a lot better.

Predictions: Mini-recession 4th qtr 07 to 1st qtr 08. Georgia beats LSU for the SEC Championship. Bush figures Georgia is more likely to vote Republican anyway, so hopes to appease Florida by draining Lake Lanier and letting Atlanta run out of water on St. Patrick's Day. Florida's mussel crop thrives and Atlantans get by on green beer. Dem ticket - Hillary and Richardson, Red ticket - Romney and McCain.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

We Say Oui to Wii

My wife and I have entered the hunt for this year's hard to find Christmas gift, the Wii game console from Nintendo. And a hunt it is. I've been to various Best Buys, Circuit Cities (Citys?), Wal-Marts, Targets, Frye's, and numerous other stores, as well as on-line, all to no avail. But we are determined.

Normally the two of us seek the moral high ground on the "must get" toy of the season, looking down and askance at the materialism that infects this spiritual time of the year. But this year is different for us. And frankly, it is kind of fun.

Our two little boys, still of Santa believing age, have specifically requested the Wii. They like video games and are good at them. Right now, they are in a Pokemon phase/craze that has infected our entire neighborhood of single digit aged boys. We have other Nintendo products, like the gameboy, Gamecube, and the newer DS. So, the Wii seems like a logical Christmas present, and we had it on the early lists of things to get. It will be the "big gift" this year for them to share.

Having grown up pre-tech, I am happy to see my boys do well in this area. I have an uncertain notion that these games are good learning toys. But when it comes to shopping for these games, my wife and I are not experts. We pretty much rely on the consumer advice buzz we hear. We initially went with the Nintendo products because we were told that they had more games for small children, and that has worked out for us. No gun-toting pimp games until the kids are at least twelve.

So, the Christmas hunt is on! Lots of speculation on the Wii shortage is discussed in the electronics sections of these stores. It's actually kind embarrassing to ask if they have one left, because nobody does. They all sell out within minutes of arrival. And shipments tend be be in quantities of six to ten.

Who knew that Wii would become such a hot item? Sony's Playstation was the gold standard in this area for years, or so I'm told. And the people I know who are into this stuff, told me that Microsoft's X-Box, with it's superior on-line gaming capabilities, would become the one to get. But Wii is the "it" box. I really have no idea why, but I am going to get one.

I've got a hot tip on a Sunday morning delivery to a store about 20 miles from here. It opens at 9:00 am. I'll be there at 6:00, coffee and newspaper in hand, and a beach chair to support my Christmas spirit.

And you know what? If I get one, it will make my day.