Friday, February 24, 2006

Why we have horrible packaging - and how to attack it

One (ONE) part of the New York Times that I do like is the tech column written by David Pogue. While reading Dom Bettinelli's blog this week, I was reminded of a Pogue article I meant to link to here earlier this month.

Weapons in the Fight Against Hard-to-Open Packaging

The March issue of Consumer Reports includes a feature article called "The Oyster Awards: CR's picks for America's hardest-to-open packages." It denounces those hard, transparent plastic clamshell packages that hang in stores--and that are next to impossible to open.

"We're talking literally teeth, fingernails, knives, wire cutters pliers, hacksaws, ice picks--whatever it takes to get the job done," says the introduction.

The article actually denounces all kinds of ridiculous packaging, including toys lashed to their backing with 450 twist-ties, inner cereal bags that explode when tugged apart and so on. The grand prize winner of the Oyster Awards, however, is the damnable hard-plastic clamshell, which has been the object of my ridicule and loathing--in the Times and at home--for several years now.

Just go check it out . . .

MEN drive 2005 clothing sales

Top areas of growth? Suits, dress shirts, "polo/golf/rugby shirts".

Men's spending boosts 2005 apparel sales

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Men flocked to stores to buy suits and other tailored clothing last year, helping drive U.S. apparel sales up 4 percent overall, according to an industry study released on Tuesday.

. . . "The surge in men's apparel sales came from some of the most unexpected places, such as young men buying a suit," Marshal Cohen, who headed the study, said in a statement. "We are seeing a shift in the younger generation reaching their image through grooming and dressing up."

Indeed, Casual Male Retail Group Inc., known for its chain of Big & Tall stores for men, has said it will change the name and design of its flagship stores to better attract a younger, thinner, more fashion-conscious customer.

Demand for men's tops such as dress shirts and polo/golf/rugby shirts fueled much of the growth in the tops category, up 10 and 14 percent, respectively.

I know we'll never return to a time when men wore suits to baseball games (and women wore girdles to the grocery store), but this does seem to be promising . . .

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Michaëlle Jean to meet with Pope; may issue invitation to Canada

Well, it beats another "What's up with Harper?" or "WTF is up with Team Canada hockey???" post, right?

Canadian governor general to meet with Pope

Feb. 22 ( - Canada's new governor general, Micaelle [sic] Jean, will meet with Pope Benedict XVI in a private audience on February 27, the Ottawa government has announced.

Michaelle Jean and her husband will meet with both the Pontiff and Italy's President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi during a short visit in Rome, as they return from Turin, where they will take part in closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympics.

. . . During his [his?? - Meg] talks at the Vatican, Jean may issue a formal invitation for Pope Benedict to visit Canada. Cardinal Mac [sic] Ouellet of Quebec City has already invited the Pontiff to attend closing ceremonies of the International Eucharistic Congress which will be held there in June 2008. The governor general could second that invitation on behalf of the country's government.

Mac Ouellet. People just cannot get over their preconceptions about Canada. See, that's why I've said before, if Canada really wants to stake its claim to Hans Island, they should rename it Gord Island. Then nobody would mistake it for a Danish possession, n'est-ce pas?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Jesuits from the 4th Vow, or, Opus Dei Is For Pansies!

I saw this at the Curt Jester and couldn't resist doing my own linky-post! Enjoy! But, really, go here for the whole thing!

[Kolvenbach:] "On behalf of the Society of Jesus, I ask Sony Pictures to prevent giving scandal by linking the character of “Brother Silas” to Opus Dei and to make him a Jesuit, as is only fitting and proper. For years, we of the Society have remained silent while these upstart punks have run around claiming to be the real power behind the Church. That changes today. . . . Ooh, you own a big building in Manhattan. Like that’s supposed to impress us? Come back when you can do something really impressive, like control all the stolen gold and artwork of the Third Reich. Then we’ll talk!"

The Jesuits from the 4th Vow are the rulers of this planet and have been since 1846. They were formed by the first Black Pope Loyola properly addressed as The Superior General. He swore allegience to the Pope to help destroy their enemies and regain control of the world under one leadership again, which is Roman Catholic for now. Since 1540 they have been feared because the Jesuit Order is the most powerful society on Earth and this is how its kept control amongst what many call the elite. The Jesuits kill Popes which should easily show you their power. Many in the Vatican detest the Society of Jesus and its ways but quite frankly cannot do anything about it. [True enough - Meg.] Once the Pope was made the Infallible Prince that was it, the Jesuits gained control of all the governments etc. This created the final pyramid in order to gain full control, this is how the small rule the few. Popes hate being Infallible as it makes them subject to Rome! The Jesuits have all the knowledge and wealth most of which they steal. Just look at their 4th vow Oath and Instructions its terrible how they think and react.

[Kolvenbach again:] "To sum up, both Sony Pictures and Opus Dei had better sit down and shut up. Know your roles, people. If you’re thinking of defying the will of the Society, maybe you should talk to Princess Diana about how that plays out."

Friday, February 17, 2006

New Retro Fashion SWAT!

"Retro SWAT 6"

Dr. Thorpe: People often like to spice up their fashion sense by revisiting old styles and adopting retro looks. Some old styles, however, must not be revisited. They must be locked away in a box called "never again" and protected by armed, half-insane guards. We are those guards. We are Fashion SWAT.

Zack: Without us you might find yourself at a thrift shop seriously considering whether or not you should buy that paisley rayon shirt. This is no laughing matter. Would you handle radioactive isotopes? Would you juggle razorblades? When you toy with the dark side of retro fashion you're taking you're very life into your hands. This is dangerous stuff that should be left to the professionals. You're welcome in advance.

Dr. Thorpe: Due to the overwhelming boringness of talking about fashion, I'm sure you'll forgive us if we occasionally ramble on for several pages without actually mentioning clothes. You see, sometimes the only way to talk about clothes is to not talk about clothes, you dig?

Remember, if any of these clothes cause vomiting, do not induce further vomiting, see a doctor immediately! (However, if you start vomiting from laughter, I can't help you there.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New things coming

Sorry I am not blogging very much in the last day or so. Actually, I am moving the blog to my own site and will be using WordPress, so I've been crazy busy trying to get that going. I was going slowly with it but having all those migraines the last couple weeks didn't help. I will probably put up some posts in the next couple of hours, but I just wanted to let you know that a newer, more exciting Meg's Musings is in the works, along with a variety of pages of info on all the eclectic things I like and blog about. I think you'll enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What have we Americans come to????

I thought I was done blogging for the night but one more. I saw this on Right Wing News and thought it must be a joke. But no. What are these kids today, idiots? (Of course, my "slacker" "Generation X" was headed right down this slope, they just picked up where we left off.)

No joke, today, my husband, who is teaching a literary piece about Jesuit missionaries in a first-year lit class, had one girl raise her hand and ask, "So, why were the Jesuits there, anyway?" Husband was a little surprised but explained about the Christian mission to convert, the historic Jesuit imperative, etc. (all on a first-year college level, which is sadly lower than anyone over 35 will believe). She nodded her head but he said she still didn't seem to comprehend why they were there to convert the natives in the first place. "Well, darling," I told him, "all of the First Nations were noble, spiritual ecologists in tune with the earth and with each other! What did they need conversion for? --I mean, that's the basic outlook your students are going to come to class with after 12 years of lower education, right?" He just shook his head.

So, it's this mentality that tells us that Pappy Boyington was an evil member of the military (ew - just like that guy in American Beauty!) who's just another rich white guy (oh yeah) and unworthy our respect (despite being one of fewer than 3500 service members to win the Medal of Honor, and a man of famous exploits). Obviously, the kids in their generation who deserve decent opportunities are over in Iraq/Afghanistan/etc., getting in touch with reality.

Students reject honor to 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' hero
Member of Marines not 'sort of person UW wanted to produce'

The University of Washington's student senate rejected a memorial for alumnus Gregory "Pappy" Boyington of "Black Sheep Squadron" fame amid concerns a military hero who shot down enemy planes was not the right kind of person to represent the school.

Depressing but essential reading

It'll take you right back to the '80's . . . hey, didn't we kick those Commie bastards out? . . . well, it's the ChiCom Commie bastards this time . . . (And why the hell don't we have attaches in these countries? They're our neighbors and of strategic interest, and they should be our friends, by which I mean that we should work to curry their friendship, and as Mosher says not to take it for granted.)

Red China on the March
The People’s Republic moves onto Grenada

Stephen Harper not the only world leader plugging leaks

There are rumors that there will be a "universal indult" for the Pian ("Old") Mass, and there are rumors quashing those rumors. And other rumors as well. Italian papers have nothin', a strange state of affairs. Well, as Phil Lawler of CWR says, don't believe it until the Vatican announces it.

Papa Ratzi may be turning out to be a more "pastoral" pope than some expected, but he's clearly putting that hard-nosed rep to work inside the Vatican . . .

Vatican remains quiet on Pope's high-level consultations

Vatican, Feb. 14 ( - Vatican officials remained quiet today about the issues discussed at a February 13 meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the leaders of the Roman Curia.

. . . After the February 13 meeting, however, Vatican officials decline to comment on the plan, or to relay the discussions that had taken place. The Italian media carried only one substantive (but unconfirmed) report about the outcome of the media, saying that the Pope would meet with Curia leaders again on March 23, presumably to continue the discussions.

The Top Ten Things Dick Cheney Said After the Shooting

Okay, Mr. Whittington is apparently feeling better after his heart attack this morning, so we can get back to the humorous aspects of this thing.

Top Ten List: Be Wewy, wewy, quiet...

Poor Vice President Cheney. I can understand all of his pent up frustration. I strongly recommend that we invade another country immediately – otherwise, Dick’s going to start running out of friends.

As you know, on Saturday, the Vice President was out hunting with a small group. One of the party members, Harry Whittington, a lawyer from Texas, was accidentally shot by the VP.

Fortunately, because of his heart condition, the VP travels with a doctor, a nurse, and an ambulance. This was good news for Mr. Whittington. I remember that Bill Clinton used to travel with his own necessary supplies: a Barry White CD, a bottle of wine, and a French Maid Outfit.

With all of the press coverage – we have to ask ourselves – What Exactly Did Mr. Cheney Say when he realized he shot somebody in his hunting party.

The Top Ten Things Dick Cheney Said After the Shooting

10. Are you SURE it’s not lawyer season?

9. Ha – that’ll teach you to stop chasing my ambulance.

8. I nicked him. Do I still get a prize?

7. Okay, guys. Hold him down and check him for WMDs.

6. Walk it off, you wimp.

5. One more try – this time I’ll give you a head start.

4. Didn’t you say you wanted to be an embedded lawyer?

3. It’s an emergency! We better call FEMA.

2. Sure I missed him. But look at my shot grouping.

And the number one thing Dick Cheney said when he accidentally shot somebody while hunting…

1. Hey, if he dies – do I get to become president?

Way funnier than Letterman.

Do you have what it takes to get hired in China?

I subscribe to the feed from The Epoch Times, and usually their stories, while important for knowing what's really going on in China, are a bit of a downer ("Activist begins hunger strike", for example, or "Local farmers killed for opposition to Party policies"). However, not all of them are. And this one shows how modern Chinese employers are using very old-fashioned Chinese techniques to (as the prof quoted says - this was my interpretation, too) either pick new employees who would be auspicious for them, or obtain a good excuse to dump otherwise viable candidates they just don't like (how many western companies would kill for a mechanism like that?).

Your "Sign" Is Key to Getting a Good Job in Sichuan

In Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, some employers have recently been using criteria other than an applicant's education and experience to decide who should be hired. These employers focus on an applicant's birth date, Asian zodiac sign, name, birth star, and a calculation to determine that one's birthday does not conflict with the company. Expert numerologists are also used to determine the new staff member's future.

. . . The manager said that the company is in a merchandising business and that employees' resumes are not very important. The "fortune" of the employee and how well that "fortune" fits in with the company is considered the most crucial factor for determining their suitability for hire. When the fortunes "match," then the employees will do their job well and the companies can operate profitably. Conversely, neither the employer nor the employee will benefit if mutual "good fortune" isn't predicted. The president of this company has also hired a fortuneteller from Hong Kong to predict the futures of the new hires.

According to this report, in addition to using one's birth date to select employees, the meaning of one's surname is considered. For example, in private enterprises that must make a profit, applicants whose last names are (in English) "Gold," or "Money" are more likely to be hired. But people with names like, "End," or "Loss," won't have much of a chance.

. . . Professor Hu Kuangfu, a researcher in the Social Science Academy of Sichuan Province, believes he has uncovered the two main reasons why these types of bizarre interviews occur. One is that superstition can help ensure success and the other is that these criteria are used as an excuse to refuse the applicant.

Chapters: Bravely standing up for freedom of expression in the face of Islamist threats

As noted in the National Post:

Considering the cartoons have sparked violence and riots around the world, Indigo Books and Music Inc., Canada’s largest bookstore chain, is refusing to put the latest issue of the Western Standard on its shelves.

I searched the corporate side of the Chapters website, but couldn't find any news releases about this. However, that's not surprising -- considering that Chapters-Indigo postures as a protector of free speech just like every other modern bookstore, they wouldn't want to give this a higher profile than it has.

But, you know, like many other Catholics and Christians I find The DaVinci Code very offensive (to my faith, but even more so to my intellect), so when are they going to ban it? Oh, that's right, we don't riot, burn down bookstores, etc.

What's the deal with the press on Cheney?

Why is the media so upset about this? Well, sure it's a pretty big story when the VP accidentally hits a fellow hunter during a shoot. But there's a little more to it than that. I really like this whole post from Right Wing News, especially this:

To make a long story short: these whiny press guys who hate Bush's guts are looking for something to complain about and they're also offended that the local press was informed before they were.

You know what would be funny? If Cheney showed up for the next press briefing, wheeled a bunch of quail in behind the reporters, and offered to show them a live reenactment of what happened. Can you just see their faces when Cheney said:

"OK, David Gregory, I need you to move about 30 yards away from me. All right, now move those quail right behind him...what do you mean "is this gun loaded"? Of course, it is and yes, we do have an ambulance standing by. Here, you'll want these safety goggles...."

I'm kidding, just kidding, you sensitive liberals. Imagine that Dick Cheney hugs Gregory or something after he hands him the safety goggles.

However, I'm not kidding when I say that the White House press corp is obnoxious, self-righteous, and yet largely irrelevant. If the White House did once a month briefings or replaced all the reporters in there with a bunch of friendlies from the new media, it wouldn't make much of a difference.

Well, that would be one way to "deflate" David Gregory's ego a little bit . . . no, no, just kidding!!!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Is this the best they can do?

Jeez, obviously these writers are not experienced hunters. Not very funny. And they have such great material to work with! Sigh. We Americans are now truly an urban (i.e., not rural) people.

Cheney Accident Triggers Jokes on Late-Night TV

For TV comics, it's a target so big and so attractive that few will resist taking their shot.

Vice President Dick Cheney was already the butt of jokes on the late-night TV circuit for his brooding public persona, ardent support for the war in Iraq and his powerful role in the Bush White House. Even his heart condition was the constant object of monologue material. But with news that the vice president accidentally shot and injured a friend while hunting on a Texas ranch over the weekend, Mr. Cheney is destined to become a late-night legend.

Yeah, you can make fun of him, but you still wouldn't want to run across him in a dark alley, heart condition and all, would you? I didn't think so.

Good ol' Al

He may not get into hunting accidents (not down on the farm enough, I guess), but Al Gore certainly sticks his foot in his mouth enough to keep us right-wingers on the frothy side over five years after leaving government. This time, it's for trashing the U.S. for its "terrible abuses" against Arabs after Sept. 11, at the Jeddah Economic Forum in front of a bunch of high-profile Sauds. (!) Dude, whatever! As Glenn Reynolds notes, "Only Al Gore could come up with the idea of criticizing Bush for not sucking up to the Saudis enough." True. More at Powerline. (H/t Best of the Web.)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Interest groups get on the Cheney bandwagon

You knew it was going to happen. Professor Bainbridge has more: One from The Humane Society, another from Jim and Sarah Brady (!). Just go take a look.

Whaddaya know . . .

. . . Tom McMahon has the Cheney humor angle covered already. Take that, Kossacks!


The really sad thing about Cheney's shooting accident . . .

. . . (well, I mean besides poor Mr. Whittington getting hit!)

It's that Mr. Cheney will be mercilessly mocked by pinko pantywaists who wouldn't know the business end of a gun if they needed to, who've never been hunting (and are probably proud of it), and don't know how painfully (in all senses of the word) common peppering accidents are. I mean, they don't happen all the time, but hunt long enough, don't mind fire lines, and it'll happen. (At least they quote Miss Armstrong to that effect, see below.)

Well, I hope Mr. Whittington feels better soon and heals quickly. Shot doesn't damage much permanently but it can hurt like hell in the short term. And I hope he's not too embarrassed. Yeah, you heard me right. In a "normal" hunting situation -- one where the national media isn't involved -- the embarrassment here would lie more with the guy who walked into the line of fire without calling, and not the guy who was following his bird (he would be a little embarrassed but feel a lot more like, "Geez, Joe, why'd you come up like that?")

Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday.

. . . The accident occurred Saturday at a ranch in south Texas where the vice president and several companions were hunting quail. It was not reported publicly by the vice president's office for nearly 24 hours, and then only after it was reported locally by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on its Web site Sunday.

Katharine Armstrong, the ranch's owner, said Sunday that Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun and that Whittington was about 30 yards away when he was hit in the cheek, neck and chest. [Ouch! That's gonna hurt!]

Each of the hunters was wearing a bright orange vest at the time, Armstrong told reporters at the ranch about 60 miles southwest of Corpus Christi. She said Whittington was "alert and doing fine."

. . . Armstrong, owner of the Armstrong Ranch where the accident occurred, said Whittington was bleeding after he was shot and Cheney was very apologetic.

"It broke the skin," she said of the shotgun pellets. "It knocked him silly. But he was fine. He was talking. His eyes were open. It didn't get in his eyes or anything like that.

. . . Armstrong said Cheney is a longtime friend who comes to the ranch to hunt about once a year and is "a very safe sportsman." She said Whittington is a regular, too, but she thought it was the first time the two men hunted together.

"This is something that happens from time to time. You know, I've been peppered pretty well myself," said Armstrong.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

And could the AP have run a more unflattering photo with this story? No, no bias there.

Oh, sweet Jesus, we are never going to hear the end of this. I'm sure Harry Whittington's looking forward to all the David Letterman jokes.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Get your Valentine's Day hate on

Now, look: I've never really liked Valentine's Day. I've always been of the school that it's a bit of a put-up job by the floral and greeting-card industries (abetted by the choclatiers). The exception is that I did love my dad sending me little bud-vase-type arrangements at school every year (which was really sweet). I prefer Single Persons' Appreciation Day, even though I am now very happily married. Probably caused by an overdose one year of those rock-hard little candy hearts. However, I have to say -- these ladies feel much more strongly about it than I do!

Activists burn Valentine's Day cards in Kashmir

Srinagar, February 10: Nearly two dozen black-veiled Muslim women stormed gift and stationery shops Friday in Kashmir, burning Valentine's Day cards and posters to protest a holiday they say imposes Western values on Muslim youth.

No one was hurt in the half-dozen or so incidents, and police cordoned off the area to prevent the women from marching through Srinagar's main shopping district to continue their ransacking.

The women were from the Kashmiri Islamic group Dukhtaran-e-Millat, or Daughters of the Community, Kashmir's only women's separatist group, whose members are also known for their fiercely conservative social views.
[H/t Michelle Malkin via Cafeteria]

Okay, see, this is where you in the media keep messing up. I have "fiercely conservative social views". Whereas these ladies are actually in favor of a theocracy, just like you all accuse us evil right-wing conservatives of wanting (which we don't). It's like calling the old guard in Beijing "conservatives". Yeah, I think Burke and Oakeshott might disagree with you there.

Anyway. To the husbands of these ladies: If you're the rare sort of fellow who plans ahead, make sure you cancel the floral delivery. And no naughty underwear!

What I think about Emerson and Fortier

Surly Beaver says it all so I don't have to.

Cardinal Ruini: Father Santoro's cause to be opened ASAP

See, when I referred to the "martyr" of Trabzon on Thursday, I was only using quotes because I was sure his cause was eventually be introduced, and that likely he'd be quickly acclaimed as John Paul has been, but that had not happened yet, not because I was being snarky (I wasn't entirely certain that was clear - quotes can indicate both things). Well, events are catching up. The prefect of the Congregation for Causes was cautious but positive, and Cardinal Ruini (the pope's vicar for the diocese of Rome, of which Father Santoro was a priest) was about ready to open the file at Father's funeral Mass. I'm sure it will happen in due time.

But they did remember to pray for Father's soul anyway, right? I mean, I, personally, believe for certain reasons that my paternal grandmother is in heaven, but I still pray for her soul -- because I know she'd want me to! (Heck, I still pray for John Paul's soul . . . until it's official . . . I'm just like that, I guess.)

Cardinal Ruini foresees beatification of slain priest

Feb. 10 ( - A cause for the beatification of Father Andrea Santoro, the Italian missionary slain in Turkey last Sunday, will be opened as soon as possible, Cardinal Camillo Ruini announced at the priest's funeral.

. . . "In the process of beatification and canonization that I hope will be opened, we must fully respect all the laws and schedules of the Church," the cardinal said. "But today, I am persuaded that all the elements of Christian martyrdom are present in the sacrifice of Father Andrea."

The process for beatification cannot be opened until five years after the candidate's death-- thus, for Father Santoro, not before February 2011. Although the Pope can make an exception to that rule, only two such exceptions have been granted: for the causes of Mother Teresa and of Pope John Paul II.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rock the Vote bottoms out

Heh. Nothing like a little schadenfreude to complete the day. I'm copying here the reasons Doug Powers enumerates for Rock the Vote's failure, but do go read the whole thing.

Rock the Vote Crumbles

Aside from the admission that the zillionaires who show up to offer Rock the Vote face time but conveniently "left the checkbook at home," the reason Rock the Vote is falling into a financial hole and their offices are now emptier than Paris Hilton's CAT scan is simple:

A) Businesses run by liberals who are dumb enough to believe in, and practice, anti-capitalism are doomed from the start (if you're going to have a fake liberal store front, it needs to be supported by capitalist joists, the way the phonies who run Ben & Jerry's ice cream do it).

B) Thankfully, there simply aren't enough idiotic liberal kids anymore. Out of those millions of young people that Rock the Vote registered, how many were "the enemy"? Republican kids go to Pearl Jam concerts, too, but don't tell anybody.

C) Rock the Vote is pushed big on MTV, which has gone from a musical lark to a horrible and mind-numbingly vacuous pop-culture train wreck. MTV's core audience are people who will never be coaxed out of their chairs on election day because odds are they're engaged in pre-show activities for that night's "Real World." Just because they registered to vote because they were drunk at a Dave Matthews concert doesn't mean they'll actually go vote, no matter how much Woody Harrelson and "Flea" from the Red Hot Chili Peppers beg them.

D) Getting people registered to vote, and assuming they will vote, is as far apart as showing people how to fill out an astronaut application form and expecting them to be on the next Space Shuttle.

E) Leftist celebrities wildly overestimate the power of their own opinion. To think that -- if Moby, Jennifer Aniston and the bald Tinkertoy from REM tell us to vote, and for whom to vote -- we lemmings will gladly leap off whatever political cliff they do, should be, and is, an insult of biblical proportions.

Can you imagine a registration drive at a Dave Matthews concert? (I've been to a couple, I almost got a contact high at one of his concerts at the Meadowlands Stadium, for crying out loud):

Dave Matthews Fan #1: Oh, man, look, a voter registration drive! I'm gonna sign up!
Dave Matthews Fan #2: Yeah, but, dude, you totally can't. You're not old enough to vote.
DMF#1: What are you talking about? I'm, like, 23. You were at my birthday. Remember, we had that excellent hash . . .
DMF#2: I know, but you're not old enough. You have to be, like, 18. [To girl at table] Right?
[Girl nods, kinda confused by their chat though]
DMF#1: But, dude, I'm twenty-three.
DMF#2: [As if delivering devastating argument] See? Exactly what I mean.
DMF#1: [Having taken pen and card from girl, starting to fill card out] Whoa! Dude! Oh, man! I see what you're saying. Miss, how can I register if I'm only 23?
Girl: [After closing her eyes and rubbing her temples] Why don't you just finish filling that out, and I'll file it for you when you're "old enough"?
DMFs: [Together] Excellent!

Yes, Canadians, there ARE other things happening besides David Emerson

Hey, Canadian Conservatives and members of the media: Other stuff is going on in the world. In fact, Candace at Waking up on Planet X has put together a whole post of current events just for your convenience! In other words: Get over it (Attn: Andrew Coyne).

"Cookie Monster singing"?

It's not what you think. Whatever you thought it was. This is a couple of weeks old but I just had to post it.

That's Good Enough for Me
Cookie Monsters of death-metal music

While the extreme branch of heavy-metal music known as death metal is defined in part by often-vile lyrics about violence, catastrophic destruction, nihilism, anarchy and paranoia, its singing style is associated with a beloved goggle-eyed, fuzzy blue puppet.

Death-metal vocalizing is also known as Cookie Monster singing, if not in tribute to, at least in acknowledgment of, the "Sesame Street" puppet that blurts in a guttural growl, his words discharged so rapidly that they tend to collide with each other.

All this was news to people at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind "Sesame Street." . . . "It's a whole new thing to me," said Frank Oz, who originated the voice of the Cookie Monster. "I've never heard of it."

Most death-metal vocalists don't seem to mind the term. "We think it's funny," said Angela Gussow, lead singer for the Swedish band Arch Enemy and one of the few female death-metal vocalists. "We take ourselves too seriously."

. . . But while the vocals in early death metal are low, raspy and aggressive, not unlike the vocals by, say, Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, that extreme degree of Cookieness is missing.

To be a true Cookie Monster vocal, said Mr. Conner, who signed some of the subgenre's biggest bands, including Sepultura and Fear Factory, "it's got to be really, really guttural. It should sound like they're gargling glass."

. . . The term also signifies a level of incomprehensibility of the lyrics, which in most cases is absolute. Given the subject matter, that's probably for the best. Carcass, a band featuring vocalist Jeff Walker, sings in graphic detail of disembowelment and the mechanics of the autopsy. Bloody annihilation is another popular theme among the groups. For most death-metal bands, the gorier the better, and few gruesome details are spared.

"If you want to make music that's terrifying, you have to sing about ripping people's heads off," Mr. Conner of Roadrunner Records told me. "Singing about puppies and kittens isn't too cool."

Can't you hear the producer? "I'm just not getting enough cookie." "It's not cookie enough." "I need more COOKIEEEEEEE!!!"

I also would have given anything to have seen "Motörhead" in a print copy of the WSJ . . . and I love the fact that Motörhead is a reference point for an even more obscure type of music. Am I that old??? (Answer: Yes.)

Time Out!!

I put this great little freeware program on my computer. It's called Time Out (4 "mice" from Macworld magazine), and basically what it does is "freeze" your computer for 15 seconds every 10 minutes, and then 10 minutes every hour, so you "have" to take a break (although it does allow you to override). If you spend a lot of time on your computer, it's good to have something like this to make sure you stretch your arms, look away from the screen, etc. If you're on the computer a lot at home, it's imperative to have something like this on your computer, otherwise the sheer amazing vastness of the Internet (and the complexity of, in my case, trying to code some CSS/HTML) will suck you away from your loved ones . . . This is a Mac program but I'm sure you can find a similar Windows program easily, search for "windows break reminder software" or something like that.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas

From First Things' On the Square (scroll down), via The Cafeteria is Closed:

A reader tells me that there are more Catholic churches in Las Vegas than casinos. When the offering is received at Mass, it is common for people to put casino chips rather than cash in the baskets. The several parishes send the collected chips to a neighboring Franciscan Monastery, where they are sorted and then cashed in at the casinos they came from. This weekly task is undertaken by those who are called the chip monks.

Father adds, "I apologize. That is really awful. But I needed one more short item for today’s posting. I promise it will not happen again."

Mac's owner gets great press in current Forbes

BTW, I didn't know that 7-Eleven was now owned by Japanese. See what happens when a Dallas girl moves away from home?

Smokes and Sandwiches

On a crisp day in Montreal a coffeehouse crowd types into Wi-Fi-enabled laptops on impeccably clean wooden tables. At Starbucks, right? Nope, at a cigarettes-and-chips convenience store.

“I don’t want to be similar to everybody,” says Alain Bouchard, head of this surprisingly lively corner-store chain, US$8.7 billion (fiscal 2005 sales) Alimentation Couche-Tard. “Here in Canada we have changed the rules.”

Now Bouchard has brought his Quebec venture to the U.S., where it is little known, at least under the quaint name of the parent company (French for night owl). But his stores are hard to ignore. Since 2001 he has added nearly 3,000 of them south of the border, with most of the outlets acquired when he beat out five other bidders to get ConocoPhillips’ Circle K for $830 million in 2003. More deals are in the works.

. . . Bouchard has been rejiggering convenience stores since he stocked his first shelf at 19 at his brother’s franchised Perrette store in Bois-des-Filion, Quebec. He spent five years laying out new stores as the chain expanded. Then he tried his hand as a franchisee for another Quebec operator, Provi-Soir, but chafed at the corporate mandates. With three partners he began what would be Couche-Tard. In two decades it owned the biggest share, 14%, of Canada’s market.

Now I know why there's a little owl on the Mac's logo.

The HOTTEST new Lego set!

From Daryl Cagle's blog (scroll down to Feb. 7) (via Sandmonkey):

cartoon by Matthew Westervelt

Thursday, February 09, 2006

First Israeli-Arab bishop

Very cool.

Palestinian Melkite becomes first Israeli citizen named a bishop

Jerusalem, Feb. 09 ( - The Melkite Catholic Synod has named Father Elias Chacour, an Israeli Palestinian, to be the next Archbishop of Galilee.

Archbishop-elect Chacour, who currently heads an Arabic university in Ibillin, a town in Gailliee, is the first Israeli citizen ever to be selected as a Catholic bishop.

Known for his efforts to promote friendship between Arabs and Jews, the new archbishop has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tesco coming to the States

I would not have thought this a very good idea, but then I noticed that "Tesco has a knack for playing Johnny foreigner and making a meal of it. The chain boasts operations in 12 Eastern European and South East Asian countries. International units account for 20% of all its sales." If you want to make a jump into a savvy but relatively less-regulated and lower-taxed environment, I suppose you could do worse than the U.S. -- maybe California looks like a regulatory paradise compared to the U.K. (?) Is the convenience store model a foot in the door to test and then bring in the supermarket model? It'll be interesting to watch, that's for sure . . .

Westward Ho! Leahy's Tesco Heads To The U.S.

Go west young man. It's been a long time coming, but the chief executive of Britain's biggest supermarket has finally put rumors to rest that Tesco is heading, saddles blazing, into U.S. territory. CEO Terry Leahy announced that the new terrain would be filled with wealthy go-getters who thrive on convenience, a place where arch rival Wal-Mart Stores is said to be comparatively underrepresented. It is of course, the west coast. Leahy said that starting next year, Tesco would be opening a chain of convenience stores in the area, similar to its Express chain in the U.K. [my emphasis]

Laura and Barbara Bush at the Vatican

AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano

As the Vatican Information Service put it, "Laura Bush, wife of the president of the U.S.A., accompanied by an entourage" had an audience with the Holy Father today. She's heading up the American delegation to the Turin games.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Protocol: Why wasn't Barbara wearing a mantilla? Get with the program, girlfriend! This ain't some hippy Yale chaplain.

Anyway. I wonder what Benedict's rosaries look like. Probably, he's being the frugal Bavarian and just using the same mold for the crucifix as John Paul's (which were shaped like his crozier).

And I still can't believe Ratzinger is pope. In a good way.

It's official: Pope to visit Turkey

Interesting time for announcement, but that can't be helped.

Confirmed: Pope to visit Turkey in November

Feb. 09 ( - Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Turkey at the end of November 2006, the Vatican has confirmed.

In a short announcement released on February 9, the Vatican press office said that Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer had issued a formal invitation, which the Pontiff had accepted. The dates for the trip are set for November 28 to 30.

. . . The Pope's visit will coincide with the feast of St. Andrew, the patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, on November 30. Shortly after Pope Benedict's election, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I had invited the Pope to join him for the celebration of that feast day. The Pontiff had accepted the invitation, but his wish to make the trip in 2005 was thwarted by the Turkish government's reluctance to issue a quick invitation. . . . The official announcement of the papal trip comes just as Church officials are still mourning the death of Father Andrea Santoro, an Italian missionary priest who was killed in Turkey on February 5, apparently by an Islamic fanatic. The slain priest had only recently written to Pope Benedict, asking the Holy Father to visit his little parish in the Black Sea port town of Trabzon, during his stay in Turkey.

Hmmm, I wonder if the Pope will manage a visit to honor the "martyr" of Trabzon? (Or if the Turkish government will allow it: "Holiness, we simply cannot guarantee your safety . . .")

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cartoon fracas: Too perfect

Excuse all my cursing, but g***amn Mubarak! Anyway, Sandmonkey rides again . . . (with props to Freedom for Egyptians)

Boycott Egypt

Freedom For Egyptians reminded me why the cartoons looked so familiar to me: they were actually printed in the Egyptian Newspaper Al Fagr back in October 2005. I repeat, October 2005, during Ramadan, for all the egyptian muslim population to see, and not a single squeak of outrage was present. Al Fagr isn't a small newspaper either: it has respectable circulation in Egypt, since it's helmed by known Journalist Adel Hamoudah. Looking around in my house I found the copy of the newspaper, so I decided to scan it and present to all of you to see.

See the scans and lots of reax.

Hello to my visitors!

Just wanted to give a shout-out to all the new visitors swinging by my blog lately! My teeny blog is lucky to get 100 unique visits a day (excepting a "blogalanche") -- more usual is somewhere between 25 and 45. It's been more in the 45-and-up-visits end of the range since this weekend, but the visitors are coming from interesting places: Iran (Islamic Republic of) Singapore Mauritius Egypt Malaysia Bangladesh India United Arab Emirates And everybody's here for one thing: That's right! Well, I hope you do find other interesting things as well, while you're here. You know, in English, we say "curiosity killed the cat", but I won't tell your imam if you don't! ;^) Seriously, I hope this does help to further understanding, that is what this is about after all. Also, please feel free to post responses, even if -- especially if -- you disagree. My comments are set up so you can respond anonymously if you like.

American deserters in Canada: I am not amused

Hey, you g***amn little traitor, howcome you get to work? I'd like to have a part-time job, it would help in dealing with things here, but I don't dare while I'm waiting for my Permanent Residency.

Besides the fact that you're a g***amn little traitor.

Yes, I am in a bad mood, I've been having migraines for over a week now -- but, also, dude, the reason you join the f***king Army is to g***amn well kill people. I mean, hello? Everything else is secondary. You hope you won't have to, but, you know, the tuition and everything else is secondary to the main purpose, which is -- defending the U.S., a.k.a. the popular phrase, "killing people and breaking things". So you know what you do? You just resign when your tour is up, if you develop "qualms" and/or marry a Buddhist. This ain't the Vietnam era, in more ways than one.

Will War Deserters Find Asylum in Canada?

TORONTO -- Attorney Jeffry House has a simple message for the dozens of young American soldiers and Marines seeking his help staying out of Iraq: He understands exactly where they are coming from.

. . . Now a prominent human-rights lawyer here, Mr. House is working to keep another generation of young Americans out of a contentious war. He is the lead attorney for Jeremy Hinzman, the first U.S. service member to formally seek political asylum in Canada because he refuses to fight in Iraq.

. . . But there are major differences between Mr. Hinzman's case and those who resisted the Vietnam War. Because the war in Southeast Asia took place while the draft was in effect, deserters could claim they had fled to avoid being forced into service they had neither sought nor agreed to fulfill. Today's military is an all-volunteer force, which means that all of Mr. House's clients willingly agreed to serve. That has led to a healthy degree of skepticism about the deserters' true motivations even in Canada, a place where antiwar feelings run deep and the Iraq war is deeply unpopular.

. . . Today, the Hinzmans live on a tree-lined street in a working-class part of the city. Unable to gain acceptance to college until his case is settled, he works as a bike messenger [my emphasis]. A ruling on his case is expected in a couple of months.

Cartoon fracas: "Those who sow the curds of blasphemy will reap the cheddar wheel of destruction"

Seething Midwest Explodes Over Lombardi Cartoons

Green Bay, WI - Like a pot of bratwurst left unattended at a Lambeau Field pregame party, simmering tensions in the strife-torn Midwest boiled over once again today as rioting mobs of green-and-gold clad youth and plump farm wives rampaged through Wisconsin Denny’s and IHOPs, burning Texas toast and demanding apologies and extra half-and-half.

The spark igniting the latest tailgate hibachi of unrest: a Texas newsletter's publication of caricatures of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

packer vince
Cartoon that shocked the Midwest

Protestors demonstrated against the images throughout the Badger State yesterday, with violent egging and cow-tipping incidents reported in Oconomowac, Pewaukee, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Antigo, Oshkosh, Waubeno, Wauwautosa, Waunewoc, Wyocena, Waubeka, and Washawonamowackapeepee.

. . . But by far the fiercest demonstration took place in Green Bay's Lambeau Shrine parking lot where throngs of Packer faithful burned Texas flags and effigies of Roger Staubach as Lutheran pastors led them in chants of "Those who defame the Vince suck" and "Favre is Great." Many of the frenzied demonstrators were seen ritualistically beating themselves with mozzarella sticks.

The crowd eventually dispersed, lured away by local supper clubs and the nickel slots of nearby Oneida Bingo Casino, but Pastor Doug Schmidtke of Fond Du Lac's Grand Lutheran Temple threatened continued community unrest "until the infidels of Texas deliver an apology. And the head of Tom Landry in a paper bag."

If you're sick of the real cartoon fracas, this goof from Iowahawk will make you feel a lot better!

The election finally hits home

Extremely BIG baby/royals news

Japan's Princess Kiko Expecting Child

Holy cow. Out of left field, as we Americans (and the baseball-crazed Japanese?) say. Very not-expected expecting news. Good news, yet. But very surprising. Hard to believe the Palace announced it this early, either - says the baby's due in "September or October". I would think it would be a good idea to get through the first trimester before making an announcement, but . . .

On the good side, maybe Crown Princess Masako herself could conceive another child with more "pressure" taken off if Kiko has a boy. And it could spur a "fashion" for babies . . . Japan sure could use such a fashion, and how. On the down side . . . hey, I'm a conservative, but a Burkean conservative. You've gotta know what to conserve, right? Peeps can't seriously be calling for a return to the concubine! (Oh, that would help Masako out a lot - but then, I know, the point is not Masako's feelings but the birth of a male heir.)

Look, you live in the modern world now. Pass the damn succession bill already. And start making more babies of your own, or you won't have to worry about emperors of any sex much longer.

Cartoon fracas: A little more sense could not come soon enough

Can Amir Taheri be translated into Pashto?

Two Dead in Afghan Protests Over Drawings

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghanistan's top Islamic organization on Wednesday called for an end to violent protests against drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, as police shot dead two protesters to stop an angry crowd from marching on a U.S. military base in the southern part of the country.

Fourteen people were wounded in the clash in Qalat city, including ten protesters and four Afghan security forces who were struck by flying rocks, said Ahmad Khan, a doctor at the city's main hospital.

. . . As a third day of bloody unrest began across the country, members of Afghanistan's Ulama Council, the country's top Islamic clerics' organization, went on radio and television to appeal for calm.

"Islam says it's all right to demonstrate but not to resort to violence. This must stop," senior cleric Mohammed Usman told The Associated Press. "We condemn the cartoons but this does not justify violence. These rioters are defaming the name of Islam."

The AP also notes "peaceful" protests in Pakistan, Egypt, and Jordan. Mmmmm, I'll take their word for it, for now. (Did they read Taheri? Or just the Koran itself?)

Cartoon fracas: Everything you know about Islam is wrong

Amir Taheri explains it all for you.

Bonfire of the Pieties

The Muslim Brotherhood's position [i.e., the position of those who are more or less starting the big confabulations], put by one of its younger militants, Tariq Ramadan--who is, strangely enough, also an adviser to the British home secretary--can be summed up as follows: It is against Islamic principles to represent by imagery not only Muhammad but all the prophets of Islam; and the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. Both claims, however, are false.

. . . The truth is that Islam has always had a sense of humor and has never called for chopping heads as the answer to satirists. Muhammad himself pardoned a famous Meccan poet who had lampooned him for more than a decade. Both Arabic and Persian literature, the two great literatures of Islam, are full of examples of "laughing at religion," at times to the point of irreverence. . . . Islamic satire reaches its heights in Rumi, where a shepherd conspires with God to pull a stunt on Moses; all three end up having a good laugh.

Islamic ethics is based on "limits and proportions," which means that the answer to an offensive cartoon is a cartoon, not the burning of embassies or the kidnapping of people designated as the enemy. Islam rejects guilt by association. Just as Muslims should not blame all Westerners for the poor taste of a cartoonist who wanted to be offensive, those horrified by the spectacle of rent-a-mob sackings of embassies in the name of Islam should not blame all Muslims for what is an outburst of fascist energy.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Cartoon fracas: The most hilarious post I've read in a long time

Bonus: It's from an Egyptian guy! Sandmonkey is a great blog that I was put onto by (of course) Relapsed Catholic. Feel the love, man!

The Vodafone conspiracy

SM: . . . Wasn't there a [phone text] message last week how there was supposed to be a demonstration where the danes were supposed to burn the Koran that last Friday? And wasn't there another message informing us of such an incident the tuesday before?
BP: Yeah. I know. Who sends this shit?
SM: You know who I think sends this? Vodafone.
BP: You know, that wouldn't surprise me.
SM: Seriously, if I was working there I would be the one sending it out and using the stupidity of the egyptian populace to make money. Imagine how many people forward that shit. Huge SMS revenue. Mobinil is probably in on it too.

Of course, perhaps this is just how people in the Middle East (and other parts) show anger

If the ferry disaster had happened in the U.S., for example, the families would have sicced a pack of trial lawyers on the company by now. Hmmmm . . . not certain which is the more civilized response . . . (ha ha, lawyer joke, people).

Egyptians torch ferry firm office

SAFAGA, Egypt (Reuters) - Egyptians awaiting news of relatives who were aboard an Egyptian ferry which sank in the Red Sea last week set fire on Monday to the office of the firm which owned the vessel, witnesses said.

Police used tear gas to drive away the people, who had attacked the office of the el Salam Maritime Transport Company outside the Egyptian Red Sea port of Safaga.

. . . The authorities have deployed hundreds of riot police to block the entrance to the port, where the ferry had been due to dock. It had been sailing from Saudi Arabia and most of the passengers were Egyptian workers.

I should be nicer. This is truly a disaster of Mubarakian proportions, and think of those poor workers -- it's bad enough that they have to leave home and go work in Arabia (for their Islamic "brothers", ha), but then they die on this cheap-ass ferry going home. God have mercy on them.

Cartoon fracas: Muslims kill, wound other Muslims in protest in Muslim country

Because that's an effective way to protest . . . or perhaps achieve other ends (as in Syria).

One killed, several hurt, in Afghan cartoon protest

KABUL (Reuters) - Protests flared in several parts of Afghanistan on Monday against cartoons depicting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad and one person was killed and two wounded when shooting erupted in an eastern town, police said.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Mehtarlam, capital of Laghman province, and police fired into the air after protesters threw stones at a police station, a police official in the town, Yar Mohammad, told Reuters by telephone.

He said instigators in the crowd linked to the Taliban and al Qaeda had also opened fire and one person had been killed and two wounded.

. . . Despite protests and boycotts across the Muslim world, the cartoons have now appeared in papers in Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.

And, uh, the United States Great Satan . . .

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cartoon fracas: Related?

Something that might happen in, oh, Indonesia, or Pakistan, but Turkey? This is the best story I've seen on this incident so far, it's still a developing story.

Roman Catholic priest shot dead in Turkey

ANKARA (AFP) - A Roman Catholic priest was shot dead in the courtyard of a church in Turkey, with fears the murder could be linked to the Muslim uproar over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in Europe.

Italian priest Andrea Santoro, 59, was shot twice in the entrance of the Santa Maria Catholic Church in the northern city of Trabzon after Sunday mass, with the Vatican ambassador to Turkey saying the gunman shouted "God is great" as he fired his pistol.

. . . Missionary activities are generally met with suspicion in Turkey, but attacks on religious personalities are virtually unheard of.

The Santa Maria Church in Trabzon, a port city on the Black Sea coast, was built in the second half of the 19th century on the orders of an Ottoman sultan to serve foreign visitors, according to the city's official website.

Turkish authorities are not amused. Hey, this ain't Syria, buddy.

"Clash of Civilizations"

Cartoon fracas: Mohammed Image Archive

Kate at SDA has a link to this great page, the Mohammed Image Archive. Gives some historical perspective. Some recent images are offensive -- but if you've seen any Islamic cartoons depicting Jews, well, these are much milder than those. The really interesting bits are the first two sections, the historic Islamic depictions of Mohammed with and without his face visible.

Cartoon fracas: Beirut is burning

Protesters Torch Danish Embassy in Beirut

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Muslims protesting caricatures of Islam's prophet set fire Sunday to a building housing the Danish Embassy in Lebanon as security forces fired tear gas in an attempt to stop the protesters.

. . . Lebanese Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani denounced the violence, saying there were infiltrators among the protesters trying to "harm the stability of Lebanon." Speaking on Future TV, he appealed for calm and said there were some who were trying to exploit the protests to cause trouble and "distort the image of Islam."

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora also urged calm.

"Those who are committing these acts have nothing to do with Islam or with Lebanon," said Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. "This is absolutely not the way we express our opinions."

Saniora suggested some in Lebanon may have been inspired by what happened in Syria. "It is as if (the Syrian protests) were a lesson to some in Lebanon to do the same," he told Future TV.

The trouble in Lebanon threatened to take a sectarian spin as protesters stoned the nearby St. Maroun Church, one of the city's main Maronite Catholic churches, and private property in Ashrafieh, a Christian area near Beirut's commercial district. Muslim clerics were seen trying to stop the protesters.

The demonstrators also attacked policemen with stones and set fire to several fire engines, witnesses said. Black smoke was seen billowing from the area. They also burned Danish flags.

Justice Minister Charles Rizk, speaking on LBC television, called on those who hold influence with the protesters to help end the upheaval.

"What is the guilt of the citizens of Ashrafieh of caricatures that were published in Denmark? This sabotage should stop," said Rizk, a Christian.

If you don't know, Lebanon is a country split between Muslim, Christian, and Druze (kind-of-sort-of an Islamic spin-off sect); religious differences played a huge part in the civil war they went through that is still far too fresh in memory. I find it very encouraging that Muslim clerics are apparently trying to rein in people and show them that this is not how Allah would have them behave; unfortunately, I think many people have their own idea of what "submission" to Allah demands.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Margrethe of Denmark says Danes "must show our opposition to Islam"

Interesting. I mean, seriously. Just go read it.

Next thing you know, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will declare "holy war", while Harald of Norway recites "Lepanto".

No, not really, but, this is only going to get more interesting. (Interesting being my personal code for "developing, mildly alarming events abroad that may yet reach our shores but which at the moment I may observe in peace".)

We must show our opposition to Islam, says Danish queen

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has called on the country "to show our opposition to Islam", regardless of the opprobium such a stance provokes abroad.

. . . in overtly political passages from an official biography published yesterday Queen Margrethe makes comments certain to complicate her nation's relationship with Muslims.

She said: "We are being challenged by Islam these years - globally as well as locally. It is a challenge we have to take seriously. We have let this issue float about for too long because we are tolerant and lazy.

"We have to show our opposition to Islam and we have to, at times, run the risk of having unflattering labels placed on us because there are some things for which we should display no tolerance."

"And when we are tolerant, we must know whether it is because of convenience or conviction."

Cartoon fracas: Scandinavian embassies burning in Damascus

Syrians Torch Embassies Over Caricatures

DAMASCUS, Syria - Thousands of Syrians enraged by caricatures of Islam's revered prophet torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus on Saturday — the most violent in days of furious protests by Muslims in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

In Gaza, Palestinians marched through the streets, storming European buildings and burning German and Danish flags. Protesters smashed the windows of the German cultural center and threw stones at the European Commission building, police said. [As someone noted in a combox somewhere, how in the heck did people in the Palestinian Authority territory get all those Danish flags so quick-like??? It's not like they have the kinds of Flags-R-Us stores we have here in North America.]

Again, why is this happening?

At the heart of the protest: 12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad first published in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten in September and reprinted in European media in the past week. One depicted the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. The paper said it had asked cartoonists to draw the pictures because the media was practicing self-censorship when it came to Muslim issues.

Geez, I don't think they have any evidence to prove that now, do you?

Diplomatic response: The good:

Aggravating the affront, Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said repeatedly he cannot apologize for his country's free press. But other European leaders tried Saturday to calm the storm.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said she understood Muslims were hurt — though that did not justify violence.

"Freedom of the press is one of the great assets as a component of democracy, but we also have the value and asset of freedom of religion," Merkel told an international security conference in Munich, Germany. [Of course, she's a woman and an infidel, what would she know?]

. . . British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who has criticized European media for reprinting the caricatures, said there was no justification for the violence in Damascus.

"We stand in solidarity with the Danish government in its call for calm and its demand that all its diplomats and diplomatic premises are properly protected. It's incumbent on the Syrian authorities to act in this regard."

But Denmark and Norway did not wait for more violence.

With their Damascus embassies up in flames, the foreign ministries advised their citizens to leave Syria without delay.

"It's horrible and totally unacceptable," Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said on Danish public television Saturday.

The okay-but-kinda-lame:

The Vatican deplored the violence but said certain provocative forms of criticism were unacceptable.

"The right to freedom of thought and expression ... cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers," the Vatican said in its first statement on the controversy.

I'm thinking there's gotta be more context to that. Better check Eh, on second thought, that sounds exactly like something Sodano would say.

A Syrian who gets it:

Amid the furor, Syria's Grand Mufti urged calm, noting the demonstration had started in a "nice and disciplined way," but then turned violent because of "some members who do not understand the language of dialogue."

"We never expressed our anger in such a way, and we believe that dialogue should be done through guidance and teaching, not through killing, harming and burning," Sheik Ahmed Badr-Eddine Hassoun said in remarks carried by state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, or SANA.

Well, quite, Sheik. Because this just reinforces in Western minds that Islamic countries are tottering put-up jobs funded by Western aid money and oil sales, full of people who seem nice one-on-one but collectively go insane over their religion. And if you think this is going to put the devil blaspheming European infidels in their place, well, I hate to tell you, but it's probably going to start having the opposite effect. So, just keep going if you like. We don't have to send aid checks, we don't have to buy oil, we can kick people who aren't citizens out of our countries (we don't like to do it, but we can do it) -- just keep riiiiight on going.

If this is what we have to look forward to in Dar-al-Islam, I think I'll just stay an infidel, thankyouverymuch. And I'll fight to my last breath to stay that way. (Am I channeling Lepanto and Vienna now?)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Hamas promises protection for Christians after Islamic Jihad threats

From Catholic World Report:

Gaza, Feb. 03 ( - Christians in the Gaza Strip are uneasy after threats by Islamic Jihad to attack Christian churches, seeking vengeance for the publication of cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed in European newspapers.

Hamas, the militant group which recently swept to victory in Palestinian elections, has decried the threats, and promised to protect the Christian minority in Gaza.

I hope this is evidence of Hamas' standing up to its new responsibilities as the elected government of the Palestinian people -- ALL of the Palestinians, whether Muslim, Christian, agnostic, or (for all I know) Buddhist. It may just be posturing against a rival group, but its hard to see how it would win them much in this fetid atmosphere, so I'm very inclined to give them credit for this (like they care whether I give them credit or not . . . but, hey, Hamas, as the U.S. soldiers in Iraq will tell you, it's all about hearts and minds, you know?).

Can you handle the cartoons?

Well, I'm sure I don't agree with all of the opinions expressed in these cartoons (the turban with the fuse?). However, some are, by Western standards anyway, either downright benign (Mohammed with the crescent "halo", Mohammed and the donkey) or making an important statement (the cartoonist shaking, in fear or something like it, while drawing his cartoon -- all too apt, as it turned out). That's why I'm taking part in Michelle Malkin's blogburst, and publishing those three cartoons I mentioned above. I copied the large image of all the cartoons from, and the image links to a good article there which gives the best context I've yet seen about what Jyllands-Post was actually trying to do with this project. To Muslims everywhere, I'd say: I can understand if you're upset, but why is it always "death to the infidel"? This isn't like the Kanye West-Rolling Stone cover, the J-P was actually trying to do something here, and the nasty protests just seem to prove that Muslims can't handle criticism or press freedom. (Note I said seem to prove, not actually prove.) I don't want to lump all Muslims in together, but OTOH when do the more rational Muslims start speaking out? Or can you just not get press attention? That would be understandable, and if that's the problem, check out Get Religion. 'Cause most of the press doesn't. Get Religion is based in the U.S. and is therefore focused on Christianity, but I'm sure they wouldn't mind hearing from some decent Muslims.



islm_cartoon_12 islm_cartoon_3

Large cartoons copied from

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mohammed cartoons/Piglet: Two birds, one stone

Day by Day 02-02-2006

Islam, religion of Peace

Outrage Spreads Over Muhammad Caricature

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Armed militants angered by a cartoon drawing of the Prophet Muhammad published in European newspapers surrounded EU offices in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kidnap foreigners as outrage over the caricatures spread across the Islamic world.

. . . A Jordanian newspaper took the bold step of running some of the drawings, saying it wanted to show its readers how offensive the cartoons were but also urging the world's Muslims to "be reasonable." Hours later, the owners of the weekly, Shihan, said they had fired its editor and withdrawn the issue from sale, and the government threatened legal action.

Foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers began leaving Gaza as gunmen there threatened to kidnap citizens of France, Norway, Denmark and Germany unless those governments apologize for the cartoon.

Gunmen in the West Bank city of Nablus entered four hotels to search for foreigners to abduct and warned their owners not to host guests from several European countries. Gunmen said they were also searching apartments in Nablus for Europeans.

Militants in Gaza said they would shut down media offices from France, Norway, Denmark and Germany, singling out the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

"Any citizens of these countries, who are present in Gaza, will put themselves in danger," a Fatah-affiliated gunman said outside the EU Commission's office in Gaza, flanked by two masked men holding rifles. [In case you thought Fatah was more moderate . . .]

. . . The furor over the drawings, which first ran in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten in September, cuts to the question of which is more sacred in the Western world — freedom of expression or respect for religious beliefs. The cartoons include an image of Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.

Islamic law, based on clerics' interpretation of the Quran and the sayings of the prophet, absolutely forbids depictions, even positive ones, of the Prophet Muhammad in order to prevent idolatry.

I apologize if I've gone over the maximum quotage allowed for fair use; I'd quote more, but, really, go read the rest. It's even worse.

Still don't know what all this is about? Check it out here:

To me, the craziest thing is that some of these are, literally, cartoons, or cariacatures, of Mohammed, not cartoons á la editorial cartoons. Not terribly reverent, but he doesn't get treated much differently than Jesus does these days, in Europe - especially considering it's not Jesus' followers flying planes into buildings or setting off bombs on trains.