December 14, 2004

Sing along with Louis

Back in the Fifties, Louis Farrakhan used to be a calypso singer. He even recorded some albums.

Surprised? You will be - the folks at Fade to Black have not only tracked down three of his recordings, they've digitized them and made them available for your online listening pleasure.

So now, you too can sing along with Louis.


Festive felafel

Today, the Big Fella (he's 9) is having a Christmas party at school.

Other children bring in party-size bags of chips, a packet of mince pies or some sandwiches. Not the Big Fella, no store-bought party food for him. Every year, he takes in a huge tray of felafel, pita bread and salad.

Which means that rather than stay in my sickbed this morning, I'm up at seven making felafel. And later in the week, if the last two years are any guide, I'll be getting requests for the recipe from parents and teachers.

1 lb. canned chick-peas (drained)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbs. finely chopped parsley
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 to 1 cup breadcrumbs or fine bulgur (crushed wheat)
1 tsp. ground coriander or cumin
1 tsp. dried hot peppers
1 tsp. garlic powder
vegetable oil (for frying)

Combine chick-peas with onion. Add parsley, lightly beaten egg and spices. Mix in blender. Add breadcrumbs until mixture forms a small ball without sticking to your hands. Form chick-pea mixture into small balls about the size of a quarter (one inch in diameter). Flatten patties slightly and fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain falafel balls on paper towels.

Serve individually with toothpicks as an hors d'oeuvre or as a sandwich filling with chopped tomato, cucumber, radish, lettuce, onion, hummus and/or tehina inside pita bread. Makes about 24 falafel balls.
The thing is - I don't think they'd be so keen if they knew where I got the recipe.

December 13, 2004

Sick of being sick

Different year, same illness. Bear with me, I'm going to blog through this one.

But probably not today.

December 09, 2004

A nation in denial

From the Jerusalem Post via Norm Geras:
Six decades after the mass extermination of six million Jews in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany, more than 50 percent of Germans believe that Israel's present-day treatment of the Palestinians is similar to what the Nazis did to the Jews during World War II, a German survey released this weekend shows.
I have never been tempted to hold modern day Germans responsible for their nation’s history but reading stuff like this just makes me want to rub their noses in it.

Eve Garrard equates this kind of thing with Holocaust denial. She's right, of course. But worse than that, as Melanie Phillips notes, for some it provides a retrospective justification for the Holocaust.

December 08, 2004

Christmas shopping

Every year in December, I listen out for the hints that Mac throws me about what she’d like for Christmas. By the 23rd, I have a mental list a mile long. Unfortunately, by the time I set out on Christmas Eve to do my seasonal shopping, my mind has gone a complete blank and I end up buying her something completely unsuitable.

This year, in an attempt to ameliorate the effect of my cognitive deficiencies, Mac has written out a couple of lists and pinned them to the wall on my side of the bed.

As a testament to Mac’s eclectic musical tests (and a personal reminder that maybe I shouldn’t leave everything until the last minute this year) - here’s a list of the music CDs she’d like.

Live in Manchester and Dublin – Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Smile – Brian Wilson
Cruzando El Rio – Radio Tarifa
Alan Lomax’s Southern Journey Remixed – Various Artists
Amassakoul – Tinariwen
Girls With Guitars – Various Artists
Impossible Broadcasting – Transglobal Underground
The Cape Verdean Blues – Horace Silver
Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See – Jim White

Mac tells me this may not be the final list - it seems the jury is still out on Van Lear Rose by Loretta Lynn and Jack White. Anyone got any views on that one?

By the way, if your wondering where Mac gets her picks from, she's been listening to Mystery Train.

Stereotypical prejudices

The last vestiges of my American accent disappeared sometime in my twenties (I’ve spent far too long in England), which makes for some interesting conversations when I run into people who give voice to strong anti-American sentiments.

I usually let them spout on for a while before politely mentioning that I’m an American. Depending on their personality type, this either enrages or deflates them, and the conversation can take a number of interesting turns. But sometimes I get a response that leaves me completely dumbfounded.

A while back, we had a couple of friends over for dinner. During the meal, one of them started criticizing my fellow citizens for being “fat, Bible-thumping morons”. When I pointed out the difficulties inherent in generalizing about a nation as diverse as America, his reply was: “Oh, I’m only talking about the white ones.”

I was reminded of this incident earlier in the week when, on being told that I was from the US, a guy says to me, “Well, you don’t look American.” I have no idea what kind of stereotypical image of Americans this guy carries around in his head – maybe I’m not fat enough for him.

Quick, somebody super size me!

December 07, 2004

Uncommon courage

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai, a Punjabi woman, was gang raped by four men on the orders of a Pakistani tribal council. Such violence against women is commonplace in Pakistan and many rape victims, shamed and ostracized by their communities, commit suicide – not Mukhtar Mai.

As the BBC reports, not only did she take the unusual step of taking the case to court but also, having won compensation, she used the money to set up two schools in her village.

Mukhtar lives under constant police protection because of the threats that have been made against her, but she refuses to be silenced.
"School is the first step to change the world," says Mukhtar. "It's always the first step that causes the most trouble, but it's the start of progress."
If you want to know more about Mukhtar's work or would like to offer support, she now has a website and e-mail address.

December 06, 2004

Remembering Auschwitz

The BBC is to screen a six part series on Auschwitz to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day. Richard Ingrams, writing in this week’s Observer, decries the need for it:
the BBC justifies the series with solemn talk about the need to educate the British public which, it claims, is ignorant about the Holocaust, a likely tale in view of the fact that it is referred to on news bulletins and current affairs programmes at every opportunity.
Ingrams must watch a whole different set of news and current affairs programs to me, but that’s by the by. As regards ignorance of the Holocaust, the BBC recently released the results of a survey which showed that nearly half of British people had never heard of Auschwitz, a fact of which Ingrams seems unaware. Still, he later concedes that some people may be educated by the programs but claims that “a great many more will be excited while others will be frightened and disturbed.”

Hmm, “frightened and disturbed” I can understand, but “excited” – what kind of people does Ingrams mix with? Probably the kind who quote Hitler approvingly, as Ingrams does later in the article under the sub-heading: “Hitler was right”.

That phrase is not something I ever expected to read in the Observer, especially in an article that deals with the Holocaust.

By the way, if you're Jewish and you feel like writing to complain, don’t bother – Ingrams won’t read it.

December 05, 2004

Modern Britain

A group of travelers has moved on to the waste ground opposite our house, there's a guy selling heroin in the street and you can buy cocaine in my kids' schoolyard.

Twelve years ago we moved out of the inner city to get away from drugs and guns and gangs.

What do you do when the problem follows you?

December 04, 2004

Fisk of the week

Jeff Jarvis fisks yesterday's NYT op-ed by FCC Chairman Michael Powell.


Day by day

It's been a few days now, but for those of you who still don't know - Chris Muir is back at the drawing board.

Plagiarism punished

A few days ago, I posted a link to an article in Frontpage Magazine by Alexis Amory that I’d found at Zacht Ei (one of my go-to blogs for information on the situation in the Netherlands).

As blogger Arjan Dasselaar made clear at the time, part of the article was lifted verbatim from one of his earlier posts at Zacht Ei.

Amory has since apologized for the incident but the story doesn’t end there, Rogier van Bakel at Nobody’s Business wasn’t satisfied with Amory’s apology and so took the matter up with Frontpage editor David Horowitz. As a result, Amory won’t be writing for Frontpage Magazine anymore.

Here’s Rogier’s take on it all.

December 03, 2004

Dow deception

The BBC has given extensive coverage to the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. The coverage included a BBC World broadcast this morning in which a representative of Dow Chemicals revealed that the company has now accepted responsibility for the disaster.

Unfortunately for the BBC, the story is false and BBC World is now claiming that it was the victim of an "elaborate deception".

We're not told how "elaborate" the deception was but, reading between the lines, it's tempting to conclude that this is just another example of sloppy journalism at the BBC.

This Times article has more details, including the identity of the hoaxer.

Independently clueless

Scott Burgess at the Daily Ablution adds the Independent's Terence Blacker to the list of journos who've come out against blogging.

Blacker thinks that blogs are "socially harmful" because they foster "the delusion that professionalism is a sort of myth used by the powerful to protect their own interests".

OMG! I'm deluded, and it's all the fault of those damned bloggers!

December 01, 2004

Dutch dilemma

From a Dutch woman, quoted in Frontpage Magazine, referring to the murder of Theo Van Gogh and its aftermath:
“The question is no longer how we stop the madness, but how we survive the madness.”
Thanks to Zacht Ei for the link.

November 29, 2004

Busted in concert

They're Spud's favorite band (he's six). I'm taking him to see them in Birmingham Wednesday night.

No, I can't quite believe it either.

November 26, 2004

No icon

Reading Naomi Klein - it's like listening to a child thinking out loud.

"Iconic images inspire love and hate, and so it is with the photograph of James Blake Miller ..."

"In truth, the image just feels iconic because it is so laughably derivative ..."

"But never mind that. For a country that just elected a wannabe Marlboro man as its president, Miller is an icon ..."

"On second thoughts, perhaps Miller does deserve to be elevated to the status of icon - not of the war in Iraq, but of the new era of supercharged American impunity."
Bless her.

Talking turkey

The day after

I didn't post yesterday; I was too busy eating, drinking and giving thanks. I hope you all had a good one. We sure did.

Though we did have a small crisis Thanksgiving morning when Mac came back from some last-minute shopping:

- What are these?
- They're cranberries.
- What did you buy them for?
- I was going to make cranberry sauce.
- You can't make cranberry sauce. No one makes cranberry sauce.

It comes in cans. With ridges!

At least it will next year.

November 24, 2004

Carnival time

Just so you know...

Interested-Participant is hosting Carnival of the Vanities this week, Carnival of the Capitalists is at SocialTwister and Boudicca's Voice has the latest Carnival of the Recipes.

Multicultural Bristol

From the Bristol Evening Post:
Muslims who have been arrested and held in a police cell in Bristol can now demand a copy of the Koran and a prayer mat. They will also be put in cells that have an Islamic symbol on the wall to guide them to pray facing Mecca.
According to Police Sergeant Jon Ames, the new culturally sensitive procedures will apply to "all faiths, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Hindu or Judaism - all of them."

He doesn't specifically mention Satanists but I presume they keep a goat on hand just in case.

Talking turkey

Thanksgiving 101

What's the difference between Pilgrims and Puritans?

As the Puritan impulse might be primarily associated with (though it actually preceded) Foxe's Book of Martyrs, so the "Pilgrim" ethos might be traced appropriately to Robert Browne's book, Reformation Without Tarrying for Anie, first published in 1580. Browne might be called a disillusioned Puritan. He shared the vision which informed Foxe's work, but after more than a decade of seeking revival within the English church, he came to the conclusion that it just wasn't going to happen. Browne "separated from" the English church and, with the like-minded Robert Harrison, started his own congregation in Norwich in 1581.

Thus was formed the "Separatist" movement, a movement which later produced suchleaders as John Smyth (whom some regard as the father of English Baptists), John Robinson, William Brewster, and William Bradford. The latter three were directly involved in that group of Separatists which, in 1608, left England for the Netherlands, and then later decided to emigrate to the New World, landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.

Many (probably most) Puritans chose to remain within the English church working for reform, and it was from this group that a much larger group of emigrants left from England for New England in the late 1620's, establishing their colony at Massachusetts Bay.

The Boston and Plymouth colonies were distinct political and religious entities (at least until the English government combined them in the late 1680's) and, while relations between them were generally friendly, members of both groups were crystal clear on the differences between them.

"Puritans" wanted to remain as part of the English establishment, working for biblical reform from within. Even as they emigrated to New England, they affirmed their "Englishness" and saw the main purpose of their new colony as being that of a biblical witness, a "city on a hill" which would set an example of biblical righteousness in church and state for Old England and the entire world to see. As deeply committed covenant theologians, they emphasized especially strongly the corporate righteousness of their entire community before God.

"Pilgrims" wanted to achieve "reformation without tarrying," even if it meant separating from their church and their nation. While they continued to think of themselves as English, their emphasis was on their new political identity and spiritual identity. Because of their passionate commitment to the necessity of reformation immediate and without compromise, they emphasized especially strongly individual righteousness before God.
The good folk of Plymouth, England are holding a Thanksgiving Festival this weekend. Unfortunately, we won't be there; we'll be spending the weekend at the mall.

It's traditional.

November 23, 2004

Go punctuate

Lynn Truss ain't got nothing on this guy.

Photoblog Ukraine

Blog de Connard, an American expat blogging from Ukraine, has some pictures of the protests in Kiev.

November 20, 2004

Heathrow to Hell

Pootergeek has the in-flight safety briefing:
Good morning, chattels and infidels. On behalf of all of the team, welcome aboard this wide-bodied handcart from London Heathrow to Hell. Your flight has been the subject of a hostile, but successful, takeover bid by Intellectual Jihad.
Read on.

November 17, 2004

A policeman’s blog

A British bobby recounts his experiences with the Newtown Police, or, as he prefers to call it, “the 5th Battalion of the Newtown Regiment of the People’s Motorised Bureaucracy."

November 14, 2004

Some hope

David Aaronovitch, writing in the Guardian, on the prospects for peace in the Middle East:
All may be well if Arafat is replaced in elections by some 'moderate' Palestinian who - somehow - manages to rise above all pressures, dangers and his own inherent powerlessness, to discover the ability to destroy or marginalise Hamas in places where he has no forces, constructs the capacity that even Britain doesn't have to prevent every act of terrorism by absolutely any of his citizens, and to deliver a democratic, peaceful Palestinian entity out of mile after mile of rubble and resentment.
Some hope.

November 13, 2004

Septic tanks

Monica, blogging at An American in London, discovers the joys of Cockney rhyming slang.

November 12, 2004

Peres on Arafat

From Timesonline: Shimon Peres on Arafat:
His declared policies were courageous, but he did not carry them out. He did not turn his back on terrorism and hate. He failed the hopes of many people, and lost his credibility with those who could have done most to help his cause. Arafat kept alive for the Palestinian people dreams and hopes that had no place in this world. He did not open the way for the painful, but necessary, process that every person and nation must go through, of leaving behind dreams of grandeur that bring nothing but misery, and learning to live, love and prosper in this world.

November 07, 2004

Random quote

The marines that I have had wounded over the past five months have been attacked by a faceless enemy. But the enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He lives in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him.
Lt Col Gareth F Brandl, 1/8 Marines

Random picture

Pardon my French

Attention mes braves! Le Dissident Frogman est retourné.

Pourquoi restez-vous ici? Allez-vous voir!

Philosophy in a hurry

Squashed Philosophers brings you:
The books which defined the way The West thinks now. Condensed and abridged to keep the substance, the style and the quotes, but ditching all that irritating verbiage.
Link via: The Ministry of Information.

Stolen dreams

I wondered how long it would be before this grubby little meme reared its ugly head:
Using a variety of criminal methods that they have perfected over the past four years, the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney-Karl Rove syndicate stole another election, and extended their illegal occupation of the White House. Experienced, informed and unblinking observers were not fooled by any aspect of this utterly predictable goose-step towards full dictatorship.
Susanna over at Cut on the Bias points to more of the same.

The politics of contempt

Kelley at Suburban Blight asks the question:
Is it so hard to give a modicum of respect to those who vote in a way that you don't understand? Is it so difficult to just believe that your political opposite is wrong, rather than that they're gun-totin', knuckle-draggin', homo-hatin', bible-thumpin' trailer-park Betties? I keep hearing about Bush's "policies of hate" from his detractors...paired with vituperative death-wishes for those who voted for him.
Norm Geras takes up the theme:
A tour of left and liberal blogs allowed you to pick up the same style of language: 'idiots', 'ignorant', 'self-deceiving', 'dumb' and 'fools'. This is the payoff of the chimp theme and of the venom and hatred with which it has come to be invested. If 58 million people or more vote for an evident moron, what else can they be themselves than morons? The partisans of this talk all take it for granted, of course, that they are the folk with the interests and values of democracy at heart. But their contempt for their fellow citizens or (as the case may be) the citizens of another democracy, and that one of the world's greatest, tells its own story.

November 05, 2004

Death watch

The Guardian reports on another ratings-chaser from Channel 4.
Channel 4, no stranger to challenging broadcasting taboos, is about to cross another televisual rubicon by filming the decomposition of a human body.
Nothing new there, NBC have been doing it since 1983.

Thought for the day

Your friends' children are not necessarily your children's friends.

November 02, 2004

LePore law

From yesterday’s Palm Beach Post:
A widely published investigative journalist was tackled, punched and arrested Sunday afternoon by a Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy who tried to confiscate his camera outside the elections supervisor's headquarters.

About 600 people were standing in line waiting to vote early when James S. Henry was charged with disorderly conduct for taking photos of waiting voters about 3:30 p.m. outside the main elections office on Military Trail near West Palm Beach.

A sheriff's spokesman and a county attorney later said the deputy was enforcing a newly enacted rule from Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore prohibiting reporters from interviewing or photographing voters lined up outside the polls.
Howard Simon, from the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, asks the same question I had when I read the report:
"Where did Theresa LePore get the authority to criminalize activities protected by the First Amendment?"
Anyone out there know the answer to that one?

October 31, 2004

Spam spam spam

And I thought I had it bad.

Kelley at Suburban Blight is getting buried in the stuff.
I've probably gotten ten thousand spam comments in the last ten days. I just got an e-mail from my host, threatening to shut down my blog if I don't get my MT-Blacklist activity under control. Evidently, the processes launched simply by comments-denial knocked their server offline, taking down a number of other blogs in the process.

October 30, 2004

Plastic sand beasts

Have you visited Strandbeest yet?
Since about ten years Theo Jansen is occupied with the making of a new nature. Not pollen or seeds but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic matierial of this new nature. He makes skeletons which are able to walk on the wind. Eventualy he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.
Check out Theo's movies of his strange plastic creatures in action, particularly Animaris Currens Ventosa walking. It's a hoot.

US election map

The BBC has an interactive US elections map highlighting the swing states, providing information on past election results and explaining how the election college system works.

Cool graphics too.

October 18, 2004

Home thoughts

I’ve been sorting through some of the photos I took during my last trip to the States. Hard to believe it was three years ago.

Here’s my favorite. It's a shot of the New Mexico Museum of Space History from November 2001.

Long time gone

Tomorrow sure was a long time coming.

Acute respiratory failure, followed by a dark depression, kind of got the better of me for a while. Still, I’m back.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

February 27, 2004

Sick leave II

George Junior has been unwell.

I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

January 07, 2004

Ducking the issue

On Monday, the Financial Times printed an article by Edgar Bronfman and Cobi Benatoff accusing the European Commission of anti-Semitism.

Yesterday, the International Herald Tribune reported:

The president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, angrily suspended a conference on anti-Semitism on Monday and accused two large Jewish groups of working against ‘‘our best and mutual interests.’’

Prodi sent a letter Monday to Cobi Benatoff, president of the European Jewish Congress, and Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, saying he was ‘‘surprised and shocked’’ by an article the two men had written that accused the European Commission, the European Union’s executive branch, of being anti-Semitic.
In their article for the FT, Benatoff and Bronfman had anticipated that the conference would be “a major test of European attitudes”.

Prodi's cancellation of the event illustrates the European Commission's approach to anti-Semitism: They don't want to talk about it.

January 06, 2004

Guns and crime

Mark Steyn, in today’s Telegraph, on home-security and the BBC’s Listeners’ Law.
I don't have laser alarms, or window locks, or, indeed, a front-door key. Like most of my neighbours, I leave my home unlocked and, when I park the car, I leave the key in the ignition because then you always know where to find it.

I'm able to do this because - and this is where the gung-ho bit comes in - I live in a state with very high rates of gun ownership. In other words, if you're some teen punk and you want to steal my $70 television set, they're likely to be picking bits of your skull out of my wainscoting. But the beauty of this system is that I'm highly unlikely ever to have to blow your head off. The fact that most homeowners are believed to be armed reduces crime, in my neighbourhood, to statistically insignificant levels. Hence, my laconic approach to home security.
Read the whole thing.

Newsing around

The Independent: British Euro MP is latest parcel bomb target

CBS News: Space Station springs a leak

SunHerald: Faith-based prison opens in Florida

The Nation: Proposal to replace FDR dime with Reagan coin

Fox News: American Pit Bulls get a makeover

NASA: Stardust captures comet

January 05, 2004

Back to the blog

Posting regularly over the holidays was nigh on impossible. With the boys off school and Mom visiting for Christmas, I was kept pretty busy.

But now, Mom’s gone back home, the boys are back at school and I’ve got a little time to myself.

So, hopefully, I’ll be back to regular posting.

January 01, 2004

Happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one.