Monday, December 29, 2003

How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth?

fallacies > widespread > debunked
Have you ever heard the "fact" that 75% of all people who ever were vorn are alive today? Well it just isn't so. As the article linked above most emphatically proves. The article is hosted on the Population Reference Bureau website, an excellent resource and information bank on all aspects of population studies.
Via Barista, an excellent blog about all sorts of fascinating stuff!

Friday, December 26, 2003

Not your typical suicide bombings

palestine > marxist > suicide bombers?
Today's news about the new round of erupting violence in Palestine, contained this interesting excerpt:

"Four Israelis and a Palestinian suicide bomber were killed in an attack at a bus stop near the Israeli city of Tel Aviv...
... The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said it carried out the attack, which, it said, would be followed by more."

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine? George Habash's group? This is the first that I notice an explicitly secular (indeed Marxist-Leninist) organization involved in suicide bombings. Apparently it's not the first time. Then I realized that the Al-Aqsa martyrs' brigades, are also a secular organization
So, it is evident that it isn't simply the islamic fanatics that are involved in this practice - a fact which should give some, rather shallow, analysts some pause.
I found this Al-Ahram article on the subject, observing that:

The fact that martyrdom operations have been carried out by Marxists and followers of secular movements, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Fatah, as well as Hamas, strongly refute Israeli disinformation. In fact, suicide bombers represent a broad cross-section of Palestinian society.

See also a Washington Institute article on the return of Palestinian Nationalist terrorism.

One could then assume that it's not simply those crazy fundamentalists; that utter, hopeless desperation might have something to do with it.
Although successive Israeli governments can be celebrated as the most compelling recruiters for the most extreme of fundamentalists indeed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Iraqi Resistance Website

iraq > resistance
According to the people (person?) that runs it, this is "a personal site which has been on the net since April 2003", forced by events to change character. It includes regular resistance reports (this is the latest Iraqi Resistance Report, Dec. 18 - Dec. 21).
The whole rhetoric of the site, sort of reminds me of the Communist Party of Iraq (Cadre), a recent splinter group from the collaborationist CPI. I might be completely wrong though, who knows? (Update: Uhmmm, more likely a Ba'athist site it seems - although they seem to have removed a Saddamic eulogy, again who knows? - I guessed CPI(Cadre) because I've seen resistance reports originating from that group somewhere on the web. I might be totally off-base).
Anyway, the CPI (cadre) website, has this report about Saddam's current state of mind. The old tyrant is losing it...

Merry Christmas & happy new year

happy > holidays
I'd like to thank all readers (of both blogs) that were kind enough to send their holiday wishes to your most humble blogger (and also to those that didn't bother!). I actually have sent personal replies to each, but my web mail being rather full of surprises lately, I'm not 100% sure that all have received my reply. So...:
Thanks, and enjoy your holidays... I know I will!

'It's a pantomime where tinsel takes the place of substance'

empire > awards > unwanted
It is indeed consoling to learn that a lierary hero of mine, the unique J.G.Ballard, has turned down the "Commander of the British Empire" award for services to literature. He also pretty much told them where exactly to put it, or - to put it more politely - dismissed the whole delusional circus that is the British monarchy:

"'It goes with the whole system of hereditary privilege and rank, which should be swept away. It uses snobbery and social self-consciousness to guarantee the loyalty of large numbers of citizens who should feel their loyalty is to fellow citizens and the nation as a whole. We are a deeply class-divided society."

It is rare nowadays that heroes of youth withstand the test of time.
Worth reading, if you're interested in such matters, is an - old - Ballard interview about W. Burroughs.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

An introduction to American Talibanism

politics > god help them > they're nuts
This gem of a site was mentioned in Matt Taibbi's, excellent as usual, recent column. The "Presidential Prayer team" is not a joke, these are people (christian fundamentalist people) close to the US presidency, that are asking Americans (and everyone else I guess) to actually pray for, and I quote:
"As reaction to Saddam’s capture has sparked uprisings and violence, pray for peace and calm in Iraq, and protection for our troops." Notice that it's "pray for our troops" - and no one else, it's not as if any Iraqis are hurt in the process... It's a good thing they have God on their side ain't it?

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Okay, who wants to play baseball for Greece?

sports > hilarious > greek baseball
Nobody plays baseball in Greece. I mean apart from the odd american expatriate or Greek-American visitor... So when Greece got an automatic entry, as home team, in the olympic games... I really couldn't figure whom exactly we were going to field. The article above describes what the local sports authorities did to create the Greek National Baseball team... Here's the actual call for players. Now, apparently, Greece might actually win a medal! Especially given that the favourites are out of the picture.

A guide to nation-building

reports > RAND > whitewash
"The Rand Corporation has just published a timely study of nation-building, much appreciated by Paul Bremer, President Bush’s special envoy in Iraq: 'A marvellous how-to manual for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction. I have kept a copy handy since my arrival in Baghdad and recommend it to anyone who wishes to understand or engage in such activities.'"
An interesting analysis of the RAND report in the Monde Diplomatique, that points out a few things that are wrong with the comparisons the report is making and some rather important facts about recent nation-building efforts that are not considered...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Keiko, star of 'Free Willy' movies, dies in Norway

celebrity > deaths
"Keiko, the killer whale made famous by the 'Free Willy' movies, has died in Norwegian coastal waters where he remained after millions of dollars and a decade of work failed to coax him back to the open sea, his caretakers said early today."

Apparently the whale was used to human companionship and would not return to the wild... I found this, somehow, enormously sad:

...Keiko was released from Iceland in July 2002, but swam straight for Norway on an 870-mile trek that seemed to be a search for human companionship...
via Baloney

How do you spell Hypocrisy? O-S-C-E - by Mark Ames

politics > russia > hypocrites >osce
One of the few non-russian analysts worth reading on Russian (and ex-USSR) matters, Mark Ames, on OSCE assessments of recent russian elections. Read it! this guy has the added advantage of not being able to write a boring sentence if you paid him.

You see the OSCE condemned the recent (undemocratic) Russian elections while conveniently forgetting that the previous elections it "approved" were just as bad:

...the supposedly "bad" 2003 elections were not significantly less democratic than the "good" 2000 presidential elections, or indeed the 1996 presidential elections, which the OSCE enthusiastically approved.

"I would maybe say that the 2003 elections were even a little better," said analyst Boris Kagarlitsky. "But there is one interesting point. This time, most of the votes that were stolen were stolen from the liberal parties [as opposed to being stolen from the Communists]."

NGO's as Western patsies, whoda thunk it...?

PowerPoint Makes You Dumb

presentations > tools > evil
Not that you didn't know this already. Power point is the ideal tool for the cubicle culture, advertising and other low IQ and short attention span environments. The argument is made by Edward Tufte, a man who should know about presentations:

Ultimately, Tufte concluded, PowerPoint is infused with ''an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch...
...Perhaps PowerPoint is uniquely suited to our modern age of obfuscation -- where manipulating facts is as important as presenting them clearly. If you have nothing to say, maybe you need just the right tool to help you not say it."

This seems like a summary of the essay, predictably titled: Power Point is Evil.

Friday, December 12, 2003

If you cannot bring good news, then don't bring any

iraq > occupation > silent
This is pathetic. Typical of the mentality of the idiots running Iraq, but pathetic nonetheless.
"Iraq's Health Ministry has ordered a halt to a count of civilians killed during the war and told its statistics department not to release figures compiled so far, the official who oversaw the count told The Associated Press on Wednesday."

Friday, December 5, 2003

Author of Saudi Curriculums Advocates Slavery

religious > nuts > wahabbi
This is really difficult to believe. You know that there is nothing quite as inhuman as a religious fanatic, but this guy is a toyal lunatic. Also goes to show how well adjusted certain religious dogmas become, to the needs of authority, in this case of feudal Saudi Arabia... Check this out:

Al-Fawzan refuted the mainstream Muslim interpretation that Islam worked to abolish slavery by introducing equality between the races.
"They are ignorant, not scholars," he said of people who express such opinions. "They are merely writers. Whoever says such things is an infidel."
Al-Fawzan's most famous book, "Al-Tawheed – Monotheism", is taught to Saudi high school students. In it, he says that most Muslims are polytheists, and their blood and money are therefore free for the taking by “true Muslims.""

Via the eyeranian

Thursday, December 4, 2003

Especial Bruno Bozzetto

europe > cultural gaps > north-south
This animated depiction of differences between (I assume Northern) "Europeans" and Italians could be easily applied to Greeks (and I suspect other southerners)... Its creator, Bruno Bozzeto, has a couple of other hilarious animations on-line as well: Olympics and Yes and No...

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Interview with Ariel Sharon published in the Israeli daily Davar Dec. 17, 1982

politics > fascism > israeli

update research > insufficient > mea culpa
Update, Dec. 4 2003: This is not a real interview of Sharon. Amos OZ has said it isn't so - and that the following interview was given by an unnamed Israeli soldier... so despite the fact that I found the story in three separate sources, it's still a stupid mistake: I should have known better since, if this were a "legitimate" Sharon interview, I would have been bound to have run on in to it over the years... Mitigating factors: It seems that many *real world* journalists have fallen for this as can be seen here. This correction was also pointed out in a thread in Jerusalem's indymedia (in the ensuing discussion). More in this Flit post... Ahh! shouldn't have fallen for it, although I still stand by my assertion that Ariel Sharon is a fascist ideologue - based on his track record of wanton atrocities and his involvement in the Shabra and Shatila massacres.
Having said all that, see how casually this "conservative" writer (in the Spectator, an unabashedly Tory rag) is perfectly willing to defend even this spectacularly, cartoonishly, primitive fascist worldview.

I'm keeping the original post below for the record...:

I wasn't aware of this interview at all. Ariel Sharon was interviewed in 1982 by Amos Oz, an Israeli leftist writer. I knew that Ariel Sharon was a demented criminal pulling the region towards war and destruction. What I didn't know was that he was a raving lunatic Nazi (by his own admission). This interview makes Kim il Sung and Mobutu, Zhirinovsky, Saddam and Bin Laden seem sane by comparison. Be very afraid: this is the man that heads a nuclear power, a man who plays the dominant role in the powder-keg of the Middle East... Here's an excerpt, but the whole interview is in a similar vein:

"'...Leibowitz is right, we are Judeo-Nazis, and why not? Listen, a people that gave itself up to be slaughtered, a people that let soap to be made of its children and lamp shades from the skin of its women is a worse criminal than its murderers. Worse than the Nazis...If your nice civilized parents had come here in time instead of writing books about the love for humanity and singing Hear O Israel on the way to the gas chambers, now don't be shocked, if they instead had killed six million Arabs here or even one million, what would have happened? Sure, two or three nasty pages would have been written in the history books, we would have been called all sorts of names, but we could be here today as a people of 25 million!
'Even today I am willing to volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us, to pull the rug from underneath the feet of the Diaspora Jews, so that they will be forced to run to us crying. Even if it means blowing up one or two synagogues here and there, I don't care. And I don't mind if after the job is done you put me in front of a Nuremberg Trial and then jail me for life. Hang me if you want, as a war criminal. Then you can spruce up your Jewish conscience and enter the respectable club of civilised nations, nations that are large and healthy. What you lot don't understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it. True, it could have been finished in 1948, but you interfered, you stopped it. And all this because of the Jewishness in your souls, because of your Diaspora mentality..."

Of course it shouldn't come as a surprise: In 1953, this beast had already practiced what he preached... Here's an annotated portrait of a killer.


stalin > art > bizarre
Can't make heads or tails of this... It seems to use Stalin as a stepping stone for weird surreal art (post-art?). I mean, check out the Party Music and some of the more imaginative imagery and see if you can fathom this (lovely in a montypythonesque kind of way) joke (?). Eat well, ignore the wandering Hitler, listen to the meaningful commentary and enjoy!
Let me know if the russian section is more explicit in stating the site's purpose. Or if you know whether this is related.

Iraq poll, shows little support for occupation forces

politics > iraq > occupation > not throwing flowers
"The vast majority of Iraqis are deeply mistrustful of the US-led coalition that is occupying their country, even if they're happy Saddam Hussein is history, suggests the preliminary results of a major public opinion poll released Monday.

Fewer than one percent of the 3,244 Iraqis interviewed by Oxford Research International, in conjunction with Oxford University's sociology department, bemoaned the fall of Saddam's regime after the March invasion.

But 79 percent said they have no confidence in the US-led forces now occupying Iraq, according to a summary of the poll's findings released Monday by Oxford Research International, a private research organization."

Note that: "Oxford Research International said its results were "mainly based on simple statistics such as percentages," and that some of the findings might not stand the test of secondary analysis to be carried out in the coming weeks."

Let me tell you though, W's policies aren't exactly winning over hearts and minds the world over.

Monday, December 1, 2003

The Problem with the Kurds

politics > kurds
Pedram, over at the, always interesting, eyeranian, has an excellent post on Kurds and their plight, and the unfortunate set-up for yet another betrayal of their hopes that is brewing. I wonder if the nice, hopeful Kurds I was watching on Greek TV before the war (there is a large Kurdish refugee/migrant community in Greece) making plans and believing that this was their chance at autonomy (at least) are as disillusioned as the Iranian (?) Kurd that Pedram mentions...