Saturday, May 27, 2006

The killing (tennis courts) ... fields

I publish this story from the Associated Press and the Saturday, May 27, 2006 edition of the Dallas Morning News.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – An Iraqi tennis coach and two of his players were killed because they were wearing shorts, apparently in violation of a warning by Islamic extremists.
Gunmen stopped the car in which the athletes were riding and asked them to step out before shooting them Wednesday, Manham Kubba, secretary general of the Iraqi Tennis Union, said Saturday. The coach, Hussein Ahmed Rashid, was Sunni, and the two players were Shiite, Kubba said.
The athletes were in shorts when they were killed and police believe the attack was related to a warning by extremists against such attire, police Lt. Maitham Abdul Razzaq said. He said the warning was made in leaflets distributed in the Sadiyah neighborhood in southwest Baghdad a week before the attack.
The deaths of the three had previously been reported, but the statements provided more details and clarified that all the victims were tennis players.
This was the second attack against athletes in just more than a week.
A taekwondo team was kidnapped in western Iraq while driving to a training camp in neighboring Jordan on May 17. The 15 athletes were snatched on a road between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, a particularly violent area. The athletes were members of a private sports club that hopes to one day send athletes to the Olympics.
Prominent Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaimi appealed for their freedom during a news conference Saturday at his office in Baghdad.
"I call upon the kidnappers of the taekwondo athletes to release the team," he said.

American men and women are getting killed for THIS? Shorts? It is past the point of ridiculousness. We are fighting in the theater of the absurd.
And we need to go and let Allah sort them out.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Teach your children well

Author's Note: The following was published in the May 25, 2006 edition of the Dallas Morning News - Collin County Opinions page.“Teach Your Children” is one of my favorite early 70s songs, sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. It asks both generations to help one another as each group advances through time.
I’ve never been an advocate of traditional “home schooling,” but the kind of “home schooling” I’d like to see stems from the overwhelming need to have practical values and lessons drilled into young people today. Too many folks know so little about the day-to-day workings of life. I know people who can’t cook dinner of the simplest nature, cannot go to a grocery store without having spending hog wild, and who cannot keep a bathroom or bedroom free of trash, dirty clothes or foreign odors.
And it shouldn’t be that way! Parents with graduating high school seniors, if you really want to prepare your children for the world outside your home, for what life REALLY is all about, teach them some of the following things (don’t laugh because too many young adults have no clue about most of these subjects):
How to properly do laundry. Show them the difference between whites and color-safe items, how to get out stains and how to regulate the amount of laundry detergent per load. Those rare home visits should not be consumed by parents doing their children’s laundry.
How to clean a house, or at least how to use a vacuum and mop. John Wellesley (not Felix Unger) was absolutely right, “Cleanliness IS next to Godliness.”
How to balance a checkbook without using a calculator or computer program. I don’t know what they teach students in so-called personal finance courses, but if they can’t do simple math (add and subtract withdrawals and deposits in an account), the whole thing is worthless.
How to use a phone book and/or Yellow Pages. Show them how to get information (like a phone number) without calling “4-1-1” and getting slapped with an extra fee on Daddy’s phone bill.
How to fill out a job application. Not every employer needs to see an empty personal resume. Often they need someone who can work the late shift in a competent manner.
How to do their own grocery shopping. People need to know the difference in quality of meat (that ground beef at 25 percent fat is NOT healthy for anyone), that “Hamburger Helper” is not gourmet dining and how to read the contents label for the amount of salt, sugar and fat in a product.
How to properly clean a sink full of dirty dishes without a so-called pot-scrubbing dishwasher. They already have a dishwasher; it’s called their … hands.
How to use a plunger. It’s more important in a bathroom than that stupid AM/FM turtle-looking radio hanging from the showerhead or the curling iron.
Teach them the important things to know while driving - how to read a road map without calling AAA or OnStar, how to be a courteous passenger or driver beyond the parameters of a driver’s education course and how to change a flat tire.
Teach them how to cook a meal other than using a can opener and some Miracle Whip. They need to know that quality is often more important than quantity.
Technology makes our lives “easier,” but by taking the path of least resistance, we’ve pushed many important manual skills to the curb. Young people rely on too many machines, too much software and too little common sense way too often.
Parents, that’s our fault; we taught them (and bought them) to be like that. If left out on their own, it’ll too late for them. If you still have your children at a formative age (which means any age where Mommy and Daddy still provide the money for Dick and Jane to have fun and video games), you can still rescue the mission.
Teach your children more than right from wrong. Teach them the right way and the wrong way. Teach them to depend on themselves first … and others second.
Teach them well. Then when you move in, following your retirement, you can watch over your handiwork.
And laugh a whole lot.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Can you read this?

If you ever wonder how the younger generation is SO addicted to the computer, it's because there are people who consider the written wrod to be a thing of the past ... like blogger Jeff Jarvis.
"I have nothing against books. But the book is an outmoded means of communicating information. And efforts to update it are hampered because, culturally, we give undue reverence to the form for the form's sake. Publish or perish, that's the highest call of our intellectual elite. But any medium that defines itself as a medium is in trouble: newspapers, broadcast TV, broadcast radio, and books. They are all faced with new and better means of doing what they do without regard to the limitations of any one medium.
"The problems with books are many: They are frozen in time without the means of being updated and corrected. They have no link to related knowledge, debates, and sources. They create, at best, a one-way relationship with a reader. They try to teach readers but don't teach authors. They tend to be too damned long because they have to be long enough to be books."

Such nonsense is actually accepted in many places. And you wonder why students graduating have problems competing in today's world?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Baghdad ER brilliant

The HBO documentary "Baghdad ER" was as harrowing and brilliant as anything you will ever want to see on TV, in the movies or anywhere else. It beautifully honored the work of these medical personnel and the tragedy of why they are there.
The work is invaluable but the reason, as perfectly noted by the chaplain, is "senseless." You can't detect IEDs; you can't do anything but react to IEDs, instead of be proactive to stop them. All you can do is hope they go away ... which isn't going to happen.
Meanwhile, often in graphic terms, you see the end result on young American lives - wasted, injured, maimed and brutalized.
And for what??????? To me, that is the question you MUST ask yourself when the film is over. Is it REALLY worth it?
My own answer is not just "no," but "HELL NO!"
The director, Jon Alpert, has been doing such genius work for 20-25 years it seems. There should be a special honor - at either the Emmys or Oscars or wherever - for his cinematic efforts.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A 'Savage Nation' of hate

Of all the right-wing radio talk show hosts, Michael Savage, host of “The Savage Nation,” is the worst of the worst. His viewpoints are SO right-wing extreme that he makes Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh look like card-carrying members of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Savage, who can be heard in my home area of Dallas on a small-time AM station KSKY (660 AM), spews the most infected kind of political bile, but on May 16, it went WAY over the line of good taste or clear thinking.
“SAVAGE: Israel is the canary in the mine. Tell me that Israel is not committing national suicide … The rockets are flying in, Israel does nothing, doesn’t lift a hand. Israel offers to give back 93 percent of the West Bank, and Jimmy Carter, the communist, anti-American, anti-Semitic bastard that he is, comes out and says, ‘Israel is evil for giving back 93 percent of the West Bank. They’ve got to give back 100 percent.’ That anti-Semitic bastard.
CALLER: Unfortunately, many of our senators are in the same …
SAVAGE: Jimmy Carter is a Jew-hater through and through. Jimmy Carter is who caused worldwide Islamic terrorism to proliferate around the globe. Jimmy Carter undermined the shah of Iran. Jimmy Carter encouraged (Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini to come back from exile in Paris. As a result, Khomeini spread his Islamic poison around the globe. Jimmy Carter is a war criminal. Now, Jimmy Carter comes out and writes a letter today, and says that Israel, by giving back 93 percent of the West Bank, is being evil, it’s the Jews again tricking the Palestinians. Jimmy Carter is like Hitler with the double talk on top of it all. I can’t take this crap any more. Why is he even taken seriously? Why don’t the Jews get up and spit in his face?”
Lovely, isn’t it?
Oh, but it gets better. From the broadcast the day before:
“They have a new racket. They don’t call it affirmative action. The racket works like this: First, they give you a written test, which you can’t cheat on. So if the white guy gets, let’s say, a 98 or 100, they then give him what’s called an oral exam. The oral exam is conducted preferably by a lesbian and a person of color who usually gives the white man a 30 or a 20 on the exam for not being properly communicating. [sic]
“Then, of course, if they get a minority in there who got a 30 or a 40 on the written exam, they give him a 100 or a 150 on the oral, and so the minority winds up with a higher aggregate score and he becomes the captain in the police department. That’s called communism.
“There is a hostile takeover of the United States of America by Mexico. Affirmative action is being used to purge our police departments of white males -- particularly heterosexual, Christian white males are being purged from state departments, state police departments, and from police departments. They are only putting in women -- particularly women who are not married, let’s put it to you that way, in a nice delicate manner, unless they’re married to a turkey baster, illegal aliens who have become citizens by nefarious means, and, of course, people of color. White males need not apply. This is all connected to the flood of illegal aliens swamping America.”

Delightful and SOOOOOOO entertaining, too.
This kind of hateful rhetoric, done merely to incite listeners into doing … whatever … never seems to come under the scrutiny of the Federal Communications Commission. Instead, the FCC seems content to examine the content of folks like Howard Stern or some fool named Opie or when Janet Jackson flashes a little breast on television.
Sex seems to be the only item on the agenda for the FCC while deliberate hate speech, like that employed by Savage, goes unheeded.
Why? A simple question. Why doesn’t anyone, seeking moral punishment for watching “The DaVinci Code,” protest such statements by people like Savage?
Why? Not even Pat Robertson has said something THIS stupid and outrageous and the Reverend does it as frequently as Albert Pujols smacks home runs.
Why? Why do political leaders permits such trash to lie in the street of American politics without removing it immediately and working to see that it never gets placed there again?
Why, you ask? Because there is NO incentive (usually financial) to do so. And in the United States, THAT will be its downfall. No will, no way.
Because of people like Michael Savage and the idiots that support him and listen to him. And who believe him.

Monday, May 15, 2006

National Guard is NOT the answer to border security

Enough buffoonery! My dander is up and the President’s speech tonight, suggesting that the National Guard be employed to patrol the southern borders in order to stop the leak/flow of illegal immigrants into the country, forces me back to my blog.
President Bush will announce his intention to send thousands of National Guard troops, supposedly on inactive duty, to assist the Border Patrol, in plugging the leaks along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Who will comprise this force is unclear, since so any Guardsmen are in Iraq and Afghanistan. How much it will cost and who will pay is not even questioned by an administration which has long forgotten about the deficit and the unwillingness to pay-as-you-go in fiscal matters.
Why there isn’t an immediate push to double or triple the Border Patrols is also curious. Instead, everyone is lining up behind a stop-gap measure which could have been instituted a long time ago. But it wasn’t until the politics of immigration began to tear away at the Republicans and Bush White House that action replaced blathering.
Curious about that, too …
Naturally, when it comes to Mexico, Bush does nothing without consulting his most important advisor, which is apparently Mexican President Vicente Fox. More decisions seem to be made to keep Fox in power than what is best for the United States.
Fox is reported to have called President Bush over the weekend to express concern over using the military on the border, and Bush reassured him that it would be only a “temporary” measure to bolster the overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, the White House said.
“The president made clear that the United States considers Mexico a friend and that what is being considered is not militarization of the border, but support of Border Patrol capabilities on a temporary basis by National Guard personnel,” said White House spokesperson Maria Tamburri in Monday’s Washington Post.
Why our buddies in the Fox administration can’t do more to help us is never broached. Curious about that …
Bush’s speech is not aimed at the American public; it is directed to massaging the egos, souls and politics of House Republicans, who have always wanted harsh enforcement measures against workers illegally in this country. Bush is hoping that rhetoric will be substituted for action and the House GOP will fall into line on the President’s still vague guest-worker program which would allow for undocumented workers to stay in the U.S. provided they pay back taxes and penalties.
That’s assuming they HAVEN’T PAID taxes; of course, many have. Many employers haven’t. Curious about that …
Bubble gum in the dyke ain’t gonna fix the problem; not even until November (which is ALL the GOP and Bushies care about).