Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Jaguar or Tabby Cat?

The first Jaguar I remember seeing was at the Men's department of Nordstroms in the Tacoma mall. I must have been eleven or twelve. I was so enamoured with the sleek hunter green 1980's XJ that I took the dealer's card and carried it in my wallet for years (yes, I was an odd child). For some reason this event is stuck in my memory like it's significant.

I recalled this memory while contemplating the marriage of Jaguar and Ford. I think the relationship has been disastrous for the Jaguar. No longer sleek and elegant like its namesake, the new Jaguars are bloated tabby cats in comparison to earlier models. They look like glorified Fords. Instead of Jaguar enhancing the Ford, Ford has fouled the Jaguar reputation, dumbing down its distinctive style and shape until it looks like any other car on the road. I wouldn't recognize the new Jaguars if it wasn't for the hood ornament. That could never be said prior to the marriage.

Monday, June 27, 2005

US vs Them

The United States (US) is superior to all other countries because of the economic, political, and religious freedom its citizens enjoy. Yet many people and groups of the leftist persuasion are trying to create a reality in which the US is evil. My use of the word "create" is intentional. No such reality exists, but they hope that through their language, by talking about America in terms normally applied to true totalitarian regimes, they will create the desired reality. They want to assign evil motives and intentions to government policies or actions despite evidence to the contrary (see Dick Durbin). Facts don't seem to dent their determination. From their denunciations it appears that they would prefer a reality in which America is crippled, in which America really is on par with Mao's China.

My US vs Them posts are my attempt to highlight the disparities between the United States and other countries that do not enjoy the same freedoms we do. It's my wee antidote to all the "America is evil" talk that passes for intelligent conversation in some circles. Please note that in no way am I suggesting that the US is superior culturally or spiritually to all other countries /or cultures. It may be, or it may not be, but that's not the point of these specific posts.

In the ring today: US vs. Iran:

"An Iranian court has sentenced a man to have his eyes surgically removed for a crime he committed as a teenager 12 years ago. Amnesty International has condemned the sentence, reported in the Iranian daily Etemaad, but local human rights groups say these unusual punishments are hardly ever executed."

"Etemaad says the accused, identified only as Vahid, was 16 when he threw a bottle of acid at another man during a fight in a vegetable market in 1993. The top opened - Vahid insists accidentally - and blinded his victim in both eyes. A court said the crime should be judged as qisas, a category for which the Koran stipulates specific punishments, in this case an eye for an eye. The paper said the sentence was to pour acid on Vahid's eyes, but an appeals court ruled it should be done surgically so as not to harm other parts of his face."

Regardless if they go through with this punishment, the fact remains that this is an acceptable punishment according to the Koran and the law courts of Iran.

View from LA Design Center

Fire in the Sky

Which city is this?

Cal State Fullerton Arboretum

Friday, June 24, 2005

Eurabia is coming....

Remember Oriana Fallaci, the gutsy Italian writer who wrote about the cultural suicide of Europe in the face of Islam? She's been indicted in Italy for vilifying Islam in her book The Force of Reason.

Oriana Fallaci on the Islamization of Europe:

"You cannot survive if you do not know the past. We know why all the other civilizations have collapsed--from an excess of welfare, of richness, and from lack of morality, of spirituality." (She uses "welfare" here in the sense of well-being, so she is talking, really, of decadence.) "The moment you give up your principles, and your values . . . the moment you laugh at those principles, and those values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your civilization is dead. Period."

Regarding her affinity with the new Pope:

"I feel less alone when I read the books of Ratzinger." I had asked Ms. Fallaci whether there was any contemporary leader she admired, and Pope Benedict XVI was evidently a man in whom she reposed some trust. "I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true. It's that simple! There must be some human truth here that is beyond religion."

As a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI wrote frequently on the European (and the Western) condition. Last year, he wrote an essay titled "If Europe Hates Itself," from which Ms. Fallaci reads this to me: "The West reveals . . . a hatred of itself, which is strange and can only be considered pathological; the West . . . no longer loves itself; in its own history, it now sees only what is deplorable and destructive, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure." (emphasis mine)

Sound familiar?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Children in Crisis

Mary Eberstadt's Home Alone America is one of the most frightening and heart-wrenching assessments of current childhood that I've ever read. Many parents desire to fob off their children to third party care givers, but with the added luxury of doing it without guilt. The best way for them to do that is by redefining what children need or are. Eberstadt gives solid evidence that left alone children tend to have less emotional intelligence, are more likely to get fat, more readily diagnosed with mental or behavioral problems that "require" drugs, and more likely to engage in promiscuous sex. These absent parents abrogate their responsibility for the emotional, mental, and spiritual well being of their children to anyone and everyone but themselves. Eberstadt states, "We're very good at taking a grain of anything-PCB's, vaccines, hormones, advertising, corporations, entertainment, television, the Internet, brain chemistry-and growing from it some large explanation that adults can hide behind. We say, 'Look there! Look there!' what we mean is, 'Look anywhere but here.' That is the standard ruling our home-alone world, and it is past due for a serious realignment." Eberstadts most troubling point is that despite the increase in material wealth and quality of life that has improved many adults' lives, the children of these adults have worse childhoods than their parents had. While the quality of life may have gone up for adults, the quality of life for their children has gone down.

Too often these kids are being diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, and other disorders to simply make them more manageable and controllable. Eberstadt points out that the bias to drug teens favors the parents /or adults. These problems are rarely viewed in light of the troubled family situations many of these children come from. Imagine what mental or behavioral problems you would have if your parents never nurtured your mental, emotional or spiritual well-being, never allowed you to make any demands on their love, never invested in even being physically present to you. My heart breaks for these children who have been emotionally abandoned by their parents. Eberstadt finishes out the book with a chapter on "specialty schools". They're for "troubled" teenagers i.e. teenagers getting in the way of their parents plans. Such schools use "tough love" to break a teen's spirit. One school, Tranquility Bay in Jamaica, forced kids to lie face down on the floor for days and even months at a time. They were allowed ten minutes of standing time per hour. The school record was for one girl who endured such treatment for 18 months! Many such schools are given a free hand to do with these kids as they please. Her descriptions suggest less a school and more a prison for juveniles. "...Just as 'tough love' and manifold deprivations obviously do work for certain kids, so also do they manifestly traumatize and stigmatize others. These include the teenagers (sometimes pre-teenagers) who have ended up in the specialty system not because of drugs or crime or violence, but because of a very different order of adolescent failing: They were in the way of what adults needed or wanted to do." That sentence stopped me cold when I read it the first time. I felt the pain that these unwanted children must feel. The pain that comes from knowing you're viewed as an obstacle to your parents. Many of the troubles plaguing America's youth would diminish if the adults in their life were actually present. Throughout the ages parents have tried to give their children better lives and opportunities than they had, unfortunately today, the reverse it true. Unlike yesterday's parents, many of today's parents refuse to sacrifice their own wants and desires for the health and well being of their children and the children are paying for it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

More Vietnam

I was chatting with my dad on Sunday and he mentioned meeting a Vietnamese man at church. He was in Virginia visiting his daughter. After the service he, his daughter and her family were heading up to DC to protest the visit of Prime Minister Pham Van Khai of Vietnam. This man knows of what he protests.

During the Vietnam war he fought with the Americans against the North Vietnamese as a Montagnard soldier. The Montagnards are an ethnic minority group within Vietnam and known for the help they gave the Americans. Once the Americans left, the North Vietnamese obviously took over the south. One of the missions of the North Vietnamese was hunting down Montagnard soldiers and no doubt killing them. This man my father met hid in the jungles of Vietnam and Burma for NINETEEN years to escape death. After the first thirteen, he managed to get his wife and kids to America, but it took another six years before he could flee his home country. A Lutheran church in North Carolina sponsored him so he could join his family.

Vietnam is still a communist state. The Vietnamese government still persecutes Christians, Buddhists, Hmong, and other ethnic people groups like the Montagnards. This man's fear is that the Vietnamese government will get away promising reform with mere words, but then never be held accountable for backing up their promises with changed policies. A very reasonable fear.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


If you plan to swim in the Amazon or Oranoco Rivers you may want to read this first. Here's a highlight to peak your interest:

Amputation of the private areas is the cheapest, and most life-changing, way to remove the fish. Actual surgery is extremely expensive and involves inserting the Xagua plant and the Buitach apple up the urethra. These two plants kill and even dissolve the parasitic fish. If surgery is not done in time, the blockage of the urinary tract will prove fatal. (emphasis mine)

Ah, yes. I may have died without ever reading of a necessary need to amputate the private areas. I cannot begin to imagine what that involves or what the final result may be. How do you amputate a bottom let alone other private parts? Does it result in a Hank Hill no-butt? I'm disturbed. I'm adding Swimming-in-the-Amazon to my list of things I will NEVER do.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Seoul Train

"Action is the only remedy to indifference. Whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation, take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
~ Eli Weisel, 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. ~

When I taught English in South Korea in 97/98, I read snippets of info in the expat papers about the starvation of the North Koreans. People had to eat bark and grass to stay alive while the "Dear Leader" feasted. Remember when Secretary of State Madeline Albright danced with him? Should she have danced with evil? I believe that in doing so she trivialized the tyranny of his regime. I can't imagine her actions giving hope to those starving, or being tortured to death. Contrast that with Ronald Reagan walking out on Gorby or calling the USSR an evil empire. What Reagan did was speak truth to power and in doing so he gave hope to those suffering in the Soviet gulags for they knew that they weren't forgotten. I can't imagine how the North Koreans felt if they heard /or saw Albright dancing with their demented dictator. I don't think I'd feel hopeful that the world finally learned the truth of my situation. Sometimes I care more about U.S. foreign policy than I do domestic policy. The North Koreans don't even have the luxury of debating a domestic policy, which is why I want OUR foreign policy to kick Kim Jong Il's ass.

If you need motivation to get involved or give money to help those helping the NK people, then check out the movie Seoul Train or at least the website. I haven't yet seen the movie, but the website has more than enough documentation to boil your blood. The documentary depicts the harrowing conditions the NK's navigate to leave their country and their treacherous journey through the "underground railroad" made up of people and organizations who help North Koreans escape their oppression. The saddest are those who've escaped to China only to be sent back to NK to face certain death. In doing so China violates the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. China claims that those escaping do not meet the definition of refugee. That is an evil lie.


Doug TenNapel creates a comic analogy between Enviro-Activists and Kill-The-Embryoists in this piece entitled "A Clump of Condor Cells." Nickolodeon employs TenNapel as their resident cartoon genius. I was first introduced to TenNapel's work through his short film "Sock Baby". The first word that came to mind to describe this effort was "bizarre", yet the film was not unlikable.

I wanted to cut and paste the entire entry (with proper attribution of course) but wasn't sure if that's acceptable blogging etiquette...anyone know?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

US vs. Them

In the ring today is US vs. Saudia Arabia. Recently Newsweek started a brouhaha with allegations that the Koran was desecrated at Guantanamo Bay by US Military personnel. However, please remember that the religion of these detained TERRORISTS is being respected by the US Government. Though they have MURDERED (or actively planned to do so) hundreds if not thousands of people, they are allowed to follow the dictates of their religion. They're allowed to pray, to read the Koran, to eat special food, to worship freely. And they're TERRORISTS. Contrast our treatment of Muslim TERRORISTS with the Saudia Arabian treatment of INNOCENT Christians:

Thursday, June 2, 2005 By BosNewsLife News Center RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (BosNewsLife)--

Saudi Arabia's security forces have arrested at least almost 100 foreign Christians, including Indians, in an apparent violent crackdown against non Muslims, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, June 1.

"This has been going on since yesterday [Tuesday May 31]", one senior Christian official with close knowledge about the situation told BosNewsLife on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. "In phone calls to me, we know of at least 80 to 90 arrests being made by the regular police and the religious police...The arrests are continuing [and] so far, [they] are taking place only in the capital, Riyadh, but we don't know the final extent of this," the source added.

"Apparently, the arrests are being made for religious reasons, objecting to their prayer, possession of Bibles and proselytizing," the source said. "[However] police have not given any specific [reasons and] simply show up at any time, day or night, with as many as 26 officers and personnel bursting into apartments to confiscate or destroy computers, cell phones, files, books [and] Bibles. [They also] beat up people in front of spouses and children [before they] haul them away," he added.

"These arrests and beatings seem to be part of a well-orchestrated plan to persecute Christians in Saudi Arabia, whether Indian or other expatriates. The Indian expatriates do not have any redress through the Indian embassy in Riyadh, which is entirely manned by Muslims," said the BosNewsLife source, who appealed for prayers and international help from the United States and other governments. Earlier in April, Saudi police forces detained 40 Pakistani Christians for worshipping at home, several reports said.

The Saudi Institute, an independent Washington based think tank with close contacts to dissidents in Saudi Arabia, has accused the royal family and other authorities of selective anger over recent reports that a copy of the Koran had been desecrated by American military personnel at the detention facility of Guantanomo Bay, Cuba.

"The Saudi government burns and desecrates hundreds of Bibles its security forces confiscate after raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately or at border crossings," Liben added in a statement monitored by BosNewsLife News Center. "Hundreds of Christian worshipers are arrested every year by Saudi police in raids on their private gatherings. Bibles, crosses and printed materials are confiscated and later burnt or dumped into trash. Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Koran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia, and is confiscated and destroyed by government officials." Saudi Institute Staff Writer Zachary Liben said.

Western diplomats have complained that although Saudi Arabia’s economy heavily depends on foreigners, expatriates are not allowed to profess their faith as observing any religion other than Islam is illegal in the Kingdom. There are around six million foreigners in the conservative kingdom, which has a population of 23 million, including many Christians from Europe, North America, Asia and other Arab states.

Monday, June 06, 2005

More Books

Did I mention how excited I am about my summer reading list? I just went crazy-go-nuts requesting books from my local library. I don't even remember why I want some of these books or what they're really about, but that just enhances the element of surprise when I crack them open.

My new favorite is Leszek Kolakowski or at least he will be once I read one of his books. I'm assuming he'll be a favorite based on this review regarding the latest release of his Main Currents of Marxism.

A Few of My Library Requests So Far:
Modernity on Endless Trial by Leszek Kolakowski
The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell
Conversations with Eric Voegelin
Home Alone America by Mary Eberstadt
A Guide for the Perplexed by E.F. Schumacher
Conversations with Flannery O'Connor
Crusades: The Illustrated History by Thomas Madden
The Morality of Everyday Life by Thomas Fleming
Never A City So Real: A Walk in Chicago by Alex Kotlowitz
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon

Friday, June 03, 2005

I Think, Therefore I Am

Who said the above? I'm sure everybody has heard it, but do you know who coined it? Unsure, clueless, completely in the dark? Don't despair, the answer is here, as are answers to many more of your questions I'm sure.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I want to make Hay

Why am I not here? I love books, I love castles, thus, I must love Hay! Whet your appetite for Hay here. Added to my summer reading list is William Hague's book on Pitt, the youngest British Prime Minister...ever. He (meaning Hague) apparently wooed the audience with his humor at Hay.

My heart is beating faster now with all this talk of books because now I can read for fun!
For the last three years I've been pursuing a masters degree in Christian Theology and Philosophy and now I'm DONE! I finally get to read for fun, for pleasure, for giggles. I may even read a NOVEL. A real hefty beast like The Brothers Karamazov or a fluffier bit like Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, the first book recommendation by Litblog Co-op. I'm already committed to reading Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey during the month of July. to get into the mood of all things Victorian I will be taking trips to the oceanside to collect seaweed for pressing. I may even post my efforts. Oh, and I MUST read the biography of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. My father gave me the complete set for my birthday right around the time I started my master's program. For three years he's been asking me if I've read it and for three years I've disappointed him with my response. Perhaps I'll surprise him with a 'yes" this August.