June 2007


Thanks to Pamela/Atlas

Skate Club

There was a passel of geeks parked outside of our local phone store today, tapping on laptops, sipping Starbucks and waiting, waiting..

According to Yahoo, the iPhones finally arrived.

(no, I didn’t get one. I’m a graphics geek, not a phone geek)


Photos from the
Origami USA 2007 convention in NYC.

Via FAPO and TED:

Seldom do I see a technological advance that is virtually jaw-dropping. This one fits the bill. It shows a new technology being nursed by Microsoft that spatially relates photographs of the same subject to provide an amazing interactive visual experience.

I assume this accesses flickr’s mapping system, so I’d better update my files.

In his Middle East Journal, Michael Totten insightfully critiques Islamist Rage Boy and his ilk – and the paparazzi who pursue them:

If there is any more absurd a group of “activists” in the world than Rage Boy and his Islamist pals throwing tantrums over Salman Rushdie’s novels and knighthood, Korans allegedly flushed down the can, and pencil drawings in Danish and other newspapers, I don’t know about them. I have deliberately avoided writing or even posting about such people because they really ought to be starved of media oxygen.

..I can think of no better evidence of journalism malpractice than the fact that the popularity, strength, and sheer malevolence of the region’s bad actors are both exaggerated and downplayed by the same media organizations.

There is no shortage of lunatics in the Middle East who blow up civilians with car bombs, kidnap journalists, hurl political opponents off skyscrapers, shoot rockets at foreign cities, and do everything in their power to exterminate racial and religious minorities. These people are very often portrayed as less extreme and dangerous than they really are.

Meanwhile, average Middle Eastern people are indirectly shown to be more extreme than they really are by the gross and apparently deliberate magnification of stunts by the most extreme elements of their societies. Almost every photo I’ve ever seen taken in the West Bank shows a nut job with a hood over his face and a rocket launcher or gun in his hand. But I didn’t see a single person who looked anything like that when I went to the West Bank myself.

There’s a flip side to this story.

I was in downtown Beirut when Hezbollah first occupied it with their sit-in and rally last December, and I took the following photos of Martyr’s Square.



Martyr’s Square is by far the largest open area in the city. It’s where Lebanon’s famous March 14 rally against Syrian occupation took place. Hezbollah claims they filled Martyr’s Square and the rest of downtown with demonstrators. They claim their rally was much larger than the anti-Syrian rally on March 14 the year before.

It’s a lie, as those pictures show. The Lebanese Army barricaded the entire area and forced Hezbollah into much smaller parking lots for their rally and photo ops.

The previous year Lebanon’s Syrian-installed President Emile Lahoud remarked that the March 14 rally against his patrons was tiny. March 14 responded by saying Zoom Out so the world could see how many people actually showed up to protest downtown.

Here’s the zoomed out picture.


That crowd was genuinely enormous. That’s Martyr’s Square, the area Hezbollah wasn’t allowed to even set foot in. Almost a third of the country’s population showed up that day.

When you zoom out the cameras on Hezbollah, Rage Boy, and the masked men of Fatah, they look pathetic and small by comparison. Zoom out on the liberals of Lebanon and you’ll see an ocean of people.

It’s true, and it’s not just Hezbollah and the media who do this. Hezbollah’s Western ‘anti-war’ supporters have no shame when it comes to gross exaggeration.

A few weeks after I returned from Beirut, I went to a pro-Hezbollah “teach-in”, sponsored by local Rage Girl Charlotte Kates and the New Jersey based Activists for the Liberation of Palestine. The speaker, Bill Doares, Workers World writer and friend of Ramsey Clark, had also returned from Beirut.

Doares told the group that there were 2.5 million people at the march on December 10th, an absurd exaggeration given that the population of Lebanon is 4 million. If he’d said that there were eleventy million protesters, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

According to most reports there were “thousands”, many fewer than at the March 14th Cedar Revolution rally…

During the question and answer session, I mentioned that I was attending this talk because I also been in Beirut during the Dec. 10th rally. Doares wasn’t happy to hear that. I mentioned that the crowd at the rally wasn’t nearly as big as he’d claimed. Doares said I was lying. I said that I could prove what I said with photographs of the empty streets set aside for the protest.

Again, the 1.5 million crowd at the March 14th rally:


vs. the much smaller “in the thousands” crowd at the largest pro-Hezbollah rally on December 10th.


Here are the many empty spaces the pro-Hezbollah crowd didn’t fill on December 10th, 2006, the day of their largest rally…


Walking past the razor wire

empty streets surrounding the rally

Aounists in Santa hats walk past police patrol

Doares didn’t ask to see the photographs but he dropped the “2.5 million” issue like a hot potato.

Charlotte Kates immediately jumped in and screamed “this is not a debate!”.

I won that battle, but since Doares and the Rage Boys and Girls of the world never stop repeating the same old lie, the war of words is still going on.

Hopefully these pictures are worth at least eleventy-million words.

Via CNN: Report Blasts U.S. for failures in fighting terrorism

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A just-released report slams the federal government for failing to coordinate the work of U.S. law enforcement agencies overseas to fight terrorism.

The Government Accountability Office found that in one country a lack of clarity about the roles and responsibilities of the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency may have compromised several investigations intended to identify and disrupt potential terrorist activities.

The GAO did not name the country in its report.

(bet it’s Saudi Arabia…)

The White House has long issued directives asking that U.S. law enforcement agencies assist foreign nations’ anti-terrorism efforts.

But the report finds that embassy and law enforcement officials told the GAO “they had received little or no guidance” on how to accomplish that…

…The 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism instructed the State Department to develop and coordinate U.S. counterterrorism policy abroad, but the report says that was not done.

(they were probably too busy partying at Bandar’s place in Aspen..)

The 2004 Intelligence Reform Act shifted that responsibility to the National Counterterrorism Center and, although a general plan has been drafted, it has not yet been implemented…

But our tax dollars are still being used to combat the evil weed…

In all four there was more U.S. funding devoted to fighting drugs than to fighting terrorism, the report said

In one country, described as an “extremely high terrorist threat to American interests globally,” the State Department provided six times more funding to stop illicit drugs and crime than it did for anti-terrorism assistance, the report said.

In another country, an embassy official said most training and assistance funding from the U.S. was dedicated to counter-narcotics efforts “even though drugs were no longer a strategic concern in that country.”

Also, the report revealed that information about terrorists is not always shared or acted on.

The next time we have a war, can we at least agree on who and what we’re supposed to be fighting?


Fonzie Jumps

In her post Muslims Riot. The World Yawns, Cinnamon Stillwell says:

Enraged Muslims are rioting, burning effigies, cursing the West, promising suicide bombings, and threatening to kill Salman Rushdie…again. What else is new?

At this rate, the international community is going to start suffering from Muslim riot fatigue. I know I am.


Cinnamon isn’t the only journalist suffering from Muslim Riot fatigue. When major media outlets bother to pay attention to this story at all, the yawns behind the scenes are almost audible. Another day, another burning KFC – what’s Paris up to now?

Have Enraged Muslims(TM) jumped the shark? Ali Eteraz answers this question with this post at Dean’s World:

A Pakistani Mullah Council has knighted Bin Laden “The Sword of God.”

According to the official Jump the Shark site, one sign that a show is on its way out is the introduction of the “Special Guest Star.” In a sad effort to boost ratings, the Pakistani Mullah council is dragging in the biggest name they know. Osama is Don Knotts to their Scooby Doo, Madonna to their Will and Grace.


Don Knotts on Scooby-doo

If Osama gets pregnant, or is replaced by Dick Sargent, it’s curtains for that Sharia Show.


At Michael Totten’s, Noah Pollak describes Iran’s victory:

Gaza has fallen to Hamas, but not just to Hamas: the group is the newest member of Iran’s growing portfolio of allies, clients, and proxies, and thus its victory was also a triumph for Iran’s policy of manifest destiny in the Middle East.

Jeha at Jeha’s Nail describes the Islamist revolution: Khomeini’s True Heirs

Iran’s Revolution is no mere socio-political phenomenon, and its goals are not limited to one country.

Its goals are clearly stated in the constitution as “Framing the foreign policy of the country on the basis of Islamic criteria, fraternal commitment to all Muslims, and unsparing support to the freedom fighters of the world” ..

…And who are those freedom fighters? Well, simply all those whose freedom is beholden to the views of the leader of the “Umma”, a “just and pious person”, who is in charge until the return “of the Wali al-’Asr”.

We’re currently seeing the benefits of allying with or tolerating ‘pious’ Islamism in Afghanistan, Gaza, London, Thailand and Lebanon. The tactics they use in war (burning girls’ schools, beheading hostages, using civilian shields, slaughtering innocent civilians by the thousands) tell us all we need to know about their political goals:

The army has again charged that the militants were using the civilians still trapped inside the camp as human shields.

“The Fatah al-Islam gang has used mosques and some humanitarian centres inside the camp to launch its attacks, stock its weapons and booby-trap them,” the army command said.

“They have also attacked civilians after using them as human shields in order to incite public opinion, particularly Muslim, in a cheap and brazen way.”

Islamism is defined as “a set of political ideologies holding that Islam is a political system, not just a religion. Islamism holds that Islamic law (sharia) must be the basis for all statutory law of society; that Muslims must return to the original teachings and the early models of Islam; and that western military, economic, political, social, or cultural influence in the Muslim world is unIslamic.”

Current events have shown us that an Islamist government is grotesquely brutal when compared with nearly every other form of government.

Brutality is just one aspect of Islamism. There’s also the cultural stasis that results from the combination of Imperialist Faith + Politics.

In his post True Believers, Jeha notes that the Islamist group Hezbollah is evolving from an Islamic-revolutionary group into a mix of Millenarian/Cargo cult.

In Afghanistan, London, Thailand, in the Palestinian areas of the Middle East we’re seeing a similar (de?-) evolution.

If I were given a choice of living under A) a military dictatorship B) a monarchy or C) democratically elected Islamism I would choose A or B. Civilization, progress and knowledge can be irrevocably dismantled, and like the Catholic-led governments of the Dark and Middle Ages, Islamism is the perfect storm that can do it.

Islamists are bloody-minded cultists, but they’re not stupid. They know that democracy can be a viable backdoor entrance to an Islamist theocracy. Promoters of liberal democracy as a cure-all for terrorism, oppression and the heartbreak of inequality need to look at the examples of Gaza, Iraq and Lebanon’s Tripoli. It’s not working.

Inspired by the situation in the unoccupied territories, my favorite Big Lebowski scene…

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