Friday, February 17, 2006

Would you like a side of Freedom Fries with your Rose of the Prophet Mohammad?

Those courageous Americans who traded their French fries for freedom fries after the French snubbed the U.S. warmongering effort in Iraq now have a gastronomic and xenophobic equal: Some number of Iranians are following up their morning prayers with "Roses of the Prophet Mohammad," rather than the Danish pastries that were so popular before a certain cartoon appeared in a Danish newspaper.

Now, while freedom fry-loving Americans are clearly idiots, some may think the Iranians are displaying cool-headed moderation with their "Roses of the Prophet Mohammad" -- after all, we're talking about reacting to blasphemy in a Muslim theocracy. But at least one question comes begging: Why is it blasphemous to produce a caricature of Mohammad or Allah but not so to rename an infidel pastry after the Prophet?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

AIM is lame

Way back in 1994, when I was still a frustrated AOL dial-up customer and was dreaming of the day when I'd have something like a DSL connection to my home, I registered two AIM IDs: markdrury and AIMisLAME. The latter was chosen in response to some aggravating email and instant messaging behavior in the AOL client software, behavior I can't now remember, thankfully. I've been using AIMisLAME ever since, and I've discovered in the intervening years that thousands of people answer the question, "What is your AIM ID?" with the offhand "AIM is lame," an answer that far too many people take literally.

Nearly every day that I login to AIM for an hour or more I get a message from someone I do not know, one that begins something like: "Yo, [expletive], waddup?" Depending upon my mood and how busy I am, I'll either play along or will tell the errant IMer that I am not the person s/he thinks I am. It can often take five or ten messages to make clear that I am not, in fact, "... Crissy from the Superbowl party, the blond who was there with Derek but who looked unhappy and was leaving with two girlfriends, and who said her AIM ID was 'AIM is lame' with a smirk as she breezed out the front door." Here is but one such exchange:

(12:52:10) D81385: hey!! i stalked u and took yr sn from facebook! lol
(12:52:25) AIMisLAME: Cool. Who is this?
(12:52:31) D81385: yr rapid vis lover!
(12:52:41) AIMisLAME: Hardly.
(12:52:47) D81385: its danielle
(12:53:03) AIMisLAME: Hey Danielle. Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
(12:53:12) D81385: ??
(12:54:07) AIMisLAME: Good news is I'm a relatively nice guy who gets misguided aims such as yours all the time. Bad news is I'm not who you think I am:
(12:54:29) D81385: oh damn sorry
(12:54:33) AIMisLAME: NP
(12:54:41) D81385: :) bye
(12:54:45) AIMisLAME: Later
(12:54:49) D81385 logged out.

You get the idea. Why the hell I still use the ID is unclear, but that makes me lame, too.

(An older yet pithy animated gif from daw_)

News that gives pause

This news makes me happy. I can't say why, exactly, other than to explain that I'm a wilderness-loving, card-carrying member of the Sierra Club. Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that nowhere in this story is there mention of a suicide bombing, of tsunamis, earthquakes or fires, of violence and death due to the flushing of a book down a toilet or the simple caricature of someone whom no living person has ever seen.

In any case, BBC News ran a story today with the following headline: "New species found in Papua 'Eden'". Here are some excerpts:
An international team of scientists says it has found a "lost world" in the Indonesian jungle that is home to dozens of new animal and plant species.

"It's as close to the Garden of Eden as you're going to find on Earth," said Bruce Beehler, co-leader of the group....

"It's beautiful, untouched, unpopulated forest; there's no evidence of human impact or presence up in these mountains," Dr Beehler told the BBC News website.

"We were dropped in by helicopter. There's not a trail anywhere; it was really hard to get around."

He said that even two local indigenous groups, the Kwerba and Papasena people, customary landowners of the forest who accompanied the scientists, were astonished at the area's isolation.

"The men from the local villages came with us and they made it clear that no one they knew had been anywhere near this area - not even their ancestors," Mr Beehler said.
The article goes on to describe the many new species discovered as well as the solving of a major ornithological mystery: the location of the homeland of Berlepsch's six-wired bird of paradise.

Amazing to think that the 7-odd billion of us didn't know of this "Eden's" existence until now, but surely this is the last such place on our ever-shrinking planet....

Thursday, February 02, 2006

John Bolton: Jingoist in search of a jihad

John Bolton, George Bush's hand-picked U.N. ambassador and self-imagined "irresistible force" wrangling with the "immovable object" that is the United Nations, opened his first meeting as head of the Security Council at 10 a.m. sharp on Thursday -- and was enraged to find no other diplomats in attendance.

"I brought the gavel down at 10. I was the only one in the room," Bolton said. The United States has just assumed the rotating presidency of the 15-nation council for the month of February.

"I believe in discipline. I think daily briefings constitute a form of intellectual discipline. Starting on time is a form of discipline," Bolton told reporters. "I failed today."

"I took a list of when they (council members) came in," Bolton said. "We started just before 10:15." Ever the optimist, he concluded, "On the plus side, the first fifteen minutes of the meeting were immensely productive: with only me in attendance I covered 13 agenda items with limited discussion and minor quibbling, mostly of a technical or procedural nature."

"Corporal punishment is what these council members need -- a good hard butt-racking would see them in chambers on time!"