24 April 2006

Cool, but then all maps are cool

Check out this guy's products, including his latest world map:


I highly recommend his graphics products; I use them frequently.

Quote for the day

On the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising, an appropriate occasion for the last part of one of my favorite rabble-rousing speeches (one which also contributed to the Rising):

“Our foes are strong and wise and wary; but, strong and wise and wary as they are, they cannot undo the miracles of God who ripens in the hearts of young men the seeds sown by the young men of a former generation. And the seeds sown by the young men of ’65 and ’67 are coming to their miraculous ripening today. Rulers and Defenders of Realms had need to be wary if they would guard against such processes. Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but, the fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”
From the oration by Pádraig Pearse at the grave of O'Donovan Rossa on 1 August 1915.

It never fails to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck.
And, as if Vietnam wasn't enough, it's a good object lesson for the Rulers and Defenders of Iraq...

23 April 2006

Quote for the day

"Own only what you can carry with you; know language, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag."
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

17 April 2006

There was a difference

Seems a Japanese veteran of World War Two is going home to see his relatives, those still alive, in Japan.
Not a totally unusual story, until you discover that he's been living in Russia for the last 61 years.
He was captured on Sakhalin when the war ended in 1945 (the Soviet Union having declared war on Japan about a week before we dropped The Bomb), and was reported there as late as 1958. After moving to the Ukraine in 1965, he married and had three children. It's unclear when his status changed from being a prisoner to being merely a captive.

The Russians didn't let go of their prisoners of war, especially the Germans; most they worked to death in camps in Siberia. Estimates range as high as 90% of captured Germans dying behind barbed wire, some as late as the 1970s, with total numbers of the dead running into the millions.
While no one begrudges the Russians a peeve or two about the Germans after the way the Germans acted during the invasion in 1941, the Russians didn't really play by the rules when the war ended. The Americans, on the other hand, were only too happy to get rid of our POWs; the last German and Japanese soldiers were sent home by 1946 or so.

Remember that when you hear people whine about the couple of hundred 'enemy combatants' being held at Guantanamo...

A case of mistaken identity

Having seen the recent calls for "A Day Without Immigrants", scheduled to take place on May Day, I was heartened that things were in place to finally deal with the whole illegal immigration issue.

Of course, I got it backwards:
"Mexican unions, political and community groups, newspaper columnists, and even some Mexican government offices have joined the call for a parallel boycott of U.S. businesses in Mexico" at the same time that migrants already in the US are being urged to "skip work and avoid spending money".

“Nothing gringo" is the rallying cry, apparently.
Fine. But let's play fair.
"Nothing Mexican" on May 5th (or Cinco de Mayo, as they say south of the border).
No eating Mexican food. No drinking Mexican beer. No paying Mexicans (legal or otherwise) to do anything.
This may mean you don't eat at McDonald's, unfortunately, or get your grass mowed, or your car washed, or any number of other mundane tasks that we currently 'outsource' in this country, but sacrifices must be made.

Oh, and no one comes across the border that day.
Not by foot, car, truck, boat, or airplane. Not across the desert, the Rio Grande, or any legal border crossing.
No Western Union money orders sent south of Laredo, either, and all ATMs must disable their Spanish access capability, plus Telemundo can't broadcast any show not shot in the United States.

Let's see whose "importance to the economy" wins...

12 April 2006

Quote for the day

"The fight is not going to be with the world, but with yourself."
Stephen Crane, 1896

On this, my birthday, I know the bastard is right.

10 April 2006

Hershey as history

From Sgt. Pete's blog, a nice mention of the Hershey bars that my friend Rich (a Marine, blinded in Vietnam, lo these thirty-odd years) and I boxed up and sent over to his unit in Iraq.
The kids seem to be enjoying them, which was the idea; I just hope they remember, when they go to strap on that belt of plastic explosives or plant the IED alongside the road, who gave the damn candy to them...

09 April 2006

Quote for the day

"I went to school during the dreaded Teva/Birkenstock explosion of the early '90s. People wore Tevas, played hacky-sack, and listened to Phish. This had to be the darkest period in our nation’s history."
from a post on Office Pirates

I worked in Silicon Valley, the heartland of geeks and dorks, in the same era. I never played hacky-sack...

08 April 2006

Quote for the day

"life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye"
Billy Collins

07 April 2006

Quote for the day

"Researchers will be able to demonstrate that prayers for the death of a person are 100% successful. Such prayers do sometimes take six or seven decades to bring about the intended result, however."
from The Buddhist Review

06 April 2006

Quote for the day

“Every thoroughly islamized Muslim child that is born in Europe is a time bomb for Western children in the future.”
Father Samuel, a Belgian priest, who has been charged with “incitement to racist hatred” by the Belgian government’s inquisition agency, the so-called Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (CEOOR)

From an Irish blog well worth reading...

05 April 2006

Quote for the day

"To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet."
Charles Caleb Colton, 1780 - 1832

04 April 2006

Quote for the day

"Let us have a little less of 'hands across the sea', and a little more of that elemental distrust that is the security of nations."
Ambrose Bierce, 1842-1914ish

03 April 2006

Not quite his 'Ford commercial' movie, but fun

Claude Lelouch made one of the most bittersweet films of my adolescence, A Man and a Woman. Because the hero, played by Jean Louis Trintignant, always drove Ford products in the film (including the once-and-now-again-sexy GT40), it was disparaged (mostly by the French) as just a 'Ford commercial'. But anyone who's heard the theme song knows that it was a lesson in life and love never forgotten, especially once they saw Anouk Aimee...

But his 'Ferrari in the streets of Paris' video (for which he was arrested when it was first shown) will do in a pinch...

Crocodile tears

I feel so bad for the Japanese (having been treated in an incredibly racist manner when I visited them), who are now having to deal with an invasion of illegal immigrants: Nigerians.
The classic comment was this one, from one of the offending illegals : "There's no reason why we shouldn't prey upon Japanese, who lack the slightest sense of caution."

Next thing you know, they'll be offering them ten million dollars stolen from an international aid project/the national treasury/vendor overpayments via the Internet...

A very Japanese invention

From the Mainichi Daily News, the next craze to come out of Japan (and a hell of a lot more fun than GameBoy): compensated dating.
That's the newest euphemism for prostitution, now being practised by thirty-something 'desperate' Japanese housewives looking to pick up a little extra cash to help with the bills...

Smoke-free zones

I continue to be amused by smokers (Dennis Leary being the most famous) who insist on telling me how great and cool and fun smoking is, but refuse to live with their own effluvium.
As in the person in the car in front of me this morning, who held her cigarette outside the window when she wasn't actually puffing on it, flicked her ashes into the breeze, exhaled smoke out the car window, and ended up throwing the butt onto the road.
I'm sorry, I don't expect you to quit your disgusting little habits just because I think it's a good idea (just like I won't quit mine just because you think they're disgusting), but I do wish you'd learn to keep them to yourself.
I'm sure that if smokers were compelled (by beatings, if necessary) to retain all byproducts of smoking (the smoke itself, of course, along with any packaging and lighting instruments, along with all ashes and butts) entirely within their vehicle or residence, they might forego the pleasure.

(Heads on stakes at the city limits may be excessive for smoking, but don't ask me about my theory of punishment for pedophiles...)

Quote for the day

"In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."
Erasmus, 1469-1536

"In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. The two-eyed man, however, is a revolutionary."

02 April 2006

Quote for the day

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."
V, in V is for Vendetta

A slogan we should all remember, come election day...

01 April 2006

Virtually victorious, visually very vigorous

V for Vendetta is visually magnificent, and a great translation of the 'graphic novel' to the screen.
But its premise, that "governments should be afraid of their people", rings a trifle hollow in the English context. We forget, in this country, that the Dead White Men put the Second Amendment (which many at the time argued should be First) in the Constitution to provide The People not only with the right, but the ability, to overthrow their own government. (Remember the part of the Declaration of Independence about "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government"? Given our public schools, I thought not.)
But I predict a run on Guy Fawkes masks at Halloween, even though no one remembers the Fifth of November any more...

Quote for the day

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."
Thomas Jefferson

"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy"
James Madison

A pair of Dead White Men who knew, first hand, about oppression.
But we don't teach their words much in schools anymore...

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