May 2005

I didn’t have much time to post this weekend. We’re hosting two Mexican exchange students this week, and my son’s friends came up to Hoboken to see Revenge of the Sith. There was lots of cleaning, laundry, cooking and pizza ordering to be done.

I took a small troop of exchange students and their hosts (4 teenaged girls) to the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. The exchange students, trained dancers, loved it. They called the performance “contemporary classic.” My daughter, who did some dancing before taking up basketball, also enjoyed it.

Before the performance, we were entertained by a thunderstorm that descended on New York City like that scene from Ghostbusters. On the way to Lincoln Center, we pointed out all the Gozer style buildings.

After the ballet we hoped to find a dim sum place that my husband recommended, but it wasn’t there anymore (most restaurants in NY have the lifespan of a medfly). It was breezy and cold, so we stopped by the first deli we found. The surly guy behind the counter got angry when the girls couldn’t decide what kind of chicken they wanted in their sandwiches. He tossed the pesto and the mesquite variations back into their respective bowls and shouted “decide or you get no chicken!”

The exchange students didn’t know why my daughter and I were laughing. We told them about the Soup Nazi

We also saw Revenge of the Sith (my son saw it for the third time with us). Of the current trilogy, it was the best, but since I found episodes I and II to be almost entirely unwatchable, that’s not much of a compliment.

A short review – Space Cowboys are fun, Space Priests and Politicians are not.

I can’t wait to see Joss Wedon’s Serenity.

Dean Esmay and Ace have more detailed thoughts about why Lucas’ Anikin trilogy wasn’t necessary.

Sluggo found something I’d never heard of before.


If you want to get a little creeped out go here and plug your name in. There’s quite a bit of information there, including a satellite image of your house. ZabaSearch gets you down to a hundred yards over your head. $20 gets you the image without the logos.

Twenty more gets you a search of criminal records.

Almost as creepy as OnStar.

Islamists have taken over a town in Uzbekistan..

KORASUV, Uzbekistan – The bearded 42-year-old farmer, astride a horse with a colorful saddle and wearing a traditional Uzbek embroidered black-and-white skull cap, snapped his fingers as he gave orders to an assistant.

“We will be building an Islamic state here in accordance with the Quran,” rebel leader Bakhtiyor Rakhimov told The Associated Press as he watched two roads converging at an intersection. “People are tired of slavery.”..

..It was unclear how many people Rakhimov commands. But there was no sign of any Uzbek government officials Wednesday in this town of about 20,000 people on the border with Kyrgyzstan.

Rebels cherishing the prospect of a strict Islamic state were firmly in control of Korasuv, throwing up a new challenge to the government as it tried to prove to skeptical diplomats that its troops didn’t fire on civilians in the nearby city of Andijan.

The government of President Islam Karimov dismissed the rebel leader’s claims as “nonsense.” Rakhimov maintains he has 5,000 followers ready to fight any troops that try to crush the rebellion…

..Regardless of officials’ attempt to shrug it off, the insurgency in Korasuv ratchets up the stakes for Uzbekistan, a U.S. ally in the war against terrorism. Observers of the impoverished Central Asia region have long feared that any social unrest could be used by Islamic groups to promote their own goals…

…Rakhimov’s men, clad in traditional V-necked white shirts and embroidered skull caps, could be seen scattered around the town…

..Among the groups that promote such ideas, the one that probably has the most followers in formerly Soviet Central Asia is the Hizb-ut-Tarir party, which Uzbek authorities accuse of inspiring terror attacks in Tashkent and the central city of Bukhara last year that killed more than 50.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which claims to reject violence, denied responsibility for those attacks. The organization wants to establish an Islamic state throughout a broad swath of Central Asia.

Rakhimov said he and his supporters did not belong to any specific Islamic organization. “We are just people,” he said. “We just follow the Quran.”

First, Karimov said the Islamists were taking over. The Kossacks didn’t believe him.

Now, Karimov says they aren’t taking over. Will the Kossaks believe him now?

UPDATE: The BBC and the Daily Kos still can’t find them.

The Guardian believes that it’s all a CIA plot.

More at
Dean’s World

Eric has photos up!

If western NGOs weren’t run by a bunch of back-to-nature Luddites, we might see more of this:

Satellite technology brings Web, phones to remote locations

IVAPORUNDUVA, Brazil – For three centuries, residents of this remote village founded by runaway slaves have languished on the fringes of Brazilian society.
a government experiment is sweeping Ivaporunduva into the digital age. As part of a larger plan to fight rural poverty, the government has installed a satellite-based Internet connection that is ending years of isolation for the village.

Residents can make doctor’s appointments online, find new markets to sell fruit and download school lesson plans.
In one of the biggest experiments ever in a growing field that uses information technology to alleviate poverty in developing countries, Brazil’s government installed satellite Internet in 3,200 other rural communities over the last two years. Another 1,200 will be added this year..

…Moreover, information gathered from the Internet is supporting political activism in a way that would have been unthinkable before the village got connected.

Marinho da Silva monitors the Web to see if outsiders are trying to overturn a ruling that halted the construction of four dams on the river that would supply energy to an aluminum smelter. Groups opposed to the dams can use e-mail to coordinate their activities with the villagers.

How many villages in Africa could use something like this? Probably all of them.

The creator of Jar-Jar Binks discusses life, the universe and everything

When I first read this boneheaded New York Times article, “The Mystery of the Insurgency”, which asks why the insurgents act like terrorists, all I could say was “duh.”

They’re not insurgents, they are terrorists, and if the Times hasn’t figured that out by now, they are, in the Darwinian sense, way too dumb to live.”

Christopher Hitchens has more patience than I do (which says a lot) and he takes the time to carefully and precisely dismember this pathetic article:

On many occasions, the jihadists in Iraq have been very specific as well as very general. When they murdered Sergio Vieira de Mello, the brilliant and brave U.N. representative assigned to Baghdad by Kofi Annan, the terrorists’ communiqué hailed the death of the man who had so criminally helped Christian East Timor to become independent of Muslim Indonesia. (This was also among the “reasons” given for the bombing of the bar in Bali.) I think I begin to sense the “frustration” of the “insurgents.” They keep telling us what they are like and what they want. But do we ever listen? Nah. For them, it must be like talking to the wall. Bennet even complains that it’s difficult for reporters to get close to the “insurgents”: He forgets that his own paper has published a conversation with one of them, in which the man praises the invasion of Kuwait, supports the cleansing of the Kurds, and says that “we cannot accept to live with infidels.”

Ah, but why would the “secular” former Baathists join in such theocratic mayhem? Let me see if I can guess. Leaving aside the formation of another well-named group—the Fedayeen Saddam—to perform state-sponsored jihad before the intervention, how did the Baath Party actually rule? Yes, it’s coming back to me. By putting every Iraqi citizen in daily fear of his or her life, by random and capricious torture and murder, and by cynical divide-and-rule among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. Does this remind you of anything?

Of course, Michael Moore’s insurgent Minutemen have already murdered a journalist who called them “terrorists”, so I doubt that the New York Times will take Hitchens’ advice.
Still, History and Mystery is a good read.

* Carl Oglesby is the former leader of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the group that spawned the terrorist “Weathermen”.

A short history of Oglesby’s SDS:

SDS members also rationalized this more frequent civil disobedience and resistance on the ground that the “Establishment” fails to listen when protests are “merely verbal.”45 At the 1967 convention, SDSers were extremely hesitant to endorse an anti-war march. Secretary Carl Davidson gives the reasons for this hesitancy: “Marches are just not enough. They won’t stop this war. More important, they won’t stop the military-industrial complex, the powerful institution that decide the fate of people in this country.”… Members also began reading Marxist historians such as William Appleman Williams, who viewed the U.S. as an imperial power with an history rife with imperialistic ventures. …Talk of violence did not meet with much resistance among the SDS’s ranks. Many members wanted to see results that were not being accomplished by their peaceful marches and sit-ins.53 The SDS of 1967 had forgotten, or chose to ignore the statement made in the Port Huron Statement five years earlier in which the SDS found violence to be “abhorrent” because it transformed a human being or a group of people into a “depersonalized object of hate.”

..In an SDS pamphlet titled “Cuba v. US Imperialism”, the SDS lauds the Cuban Revolution for its “freshness and anti-dogmatism, its version and firmness in the fight with imperialism.”57 Through their admiration for revolutionaries, and their movement from peaceful protest to resistance, the SDS began their metamorphosis into a more radical and defiant revolutionary organization.

Oglesby blames the turn to violence on the FBI, of course.

I mention him because Oglesby also wrote this letter to the New York Times, which they printed without comment:

By combining the antiwar movement with the counterculture, Bai ignores the fact that S.D.S. was destroyed by an enormous but still incompletely understood campaign of federal penetration and disruption. From 1968 through the early 1970’s, part of that campaign was the F.B.I’s counterintelligence program, Cointelpro. Unknown numbers of federal undercover agents were involved, and it wasn’t long before S.D.S. leaders began to sense the government’s presence. Their anger, panic and naïveté helped lead to the dissolution of S.D.S., as the organization’s members began retreating into the secret terrorist cells of the revolutionary group known as the Weathermen.

As a national leader of S.D.S. (I was its president in 1965 and 1966 and a member of its governing body through 1972), I must say that what this experience demands of today’s Democratic Party is that it confront its own passivity. The current mess in Iraq is one result of this passivity. Other such messes — Iran? Syria? Korea? — will almost certainly follow as the national defense budget continues to soar and the military establishment continues to lock up its control of foreign policy.

Carl Oglesby
Cambridge, Mass.

So, what non-passive action is being proposed here?

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