November 30, 2006

Vote For Me

Here's something new. I got nominated for something or other. I don't know what happens if you vote for me, I didn't read the thing too carefully. Anyways, you should vote for me. It requires a login, but you can use "guest" as the ID and "guest" as the password, then look for my post called "The End Of The CD Era" and rate it as a "5."

Here's the link. If you love me you will do exactly as I say.

Update: Come on, I know I have more than 7 readers!

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Bait And Switch Number Three

#1 The most ethical Congress in history.
#2 The draft.

and now

#3 Implementing every single one of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations.

From the Washington Post:

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. . . .

. . .

"I don't think that suggestion is going anywhere," said Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee and a close ally of the incoming subcommittee chairman, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). "That is not going to be their party position."

It may seem like a minor matter, but members of the commission say Congress's failure to change itself is anything but inconsequential. In 2004, the commission urged Congress to grant the House and Senate intelligence committees the power not only to oversee the nation's intelligence agencies but also to fund them and shape intelligence policy. The intelligence committees' gains would come at the expense of the armed services committees and the appropriations panels' defense subcommittees. Powerful lawmakers on those panels would have to give up prized legislative turf.

. . .

Now Democrats are balking, just as Republicans did before them.

The decision will almost certainly anger commission members, as well as families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, many of whom have pressed hard for implementation of the recommendations.

"The Democrats pledged to implement all the remaining 9/11 reforms, not some of them," said former representative Timothy J. Roemer (D-Ind.), who served on the commission.

Carie Lemack, whose mother was in one of the jets that hit the World Trade Center, echoed that sentiment: "It wasn't a Chinese takeout menu, the 41 recommendations. You have to do all of them."

If you want my opinion, consolidation of oversight is not a good idea. I like redundancy. I was against the creation of an "Intelligence Czar," too. But the Democrats aren't backing away from this promise for policy reasons, it's more politics-as-usual, and juvenile back-scratching.

On an unrealted note, why is it that I can get no information from the media about what crawled up Pelosi's butt to make her dislike Jane Harman and Steny Hoyer so much? I know it's personal, but I've looked far and wide and there doesn't seem to be any investigative reporter willing to investigate this question.

Pelosi's beef with Hoyer goes back to her Maryland days, when she was the receptionist and Hoyer was the chief gofer for Senator Brewster in the 60's. I know there must be some interesting anecdotes, which would explain the animosity she's held onto for decades. But the media is hush hush.

And what's the deal with Jane Harman? I know she's not considered dovish enough, but I do suspect there's a personal vendetta there too. Pelosi is well known for holding grudges (and to be fair, suddenly letting go of grudges too), but nobody wants to dig into this story.

If anybody has seen anything interesting, send me a link. I'm just interested in political gossip is all.

h/t Belmont Club

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November 29, 2006

A Hero You Should Know

On October 16, 2006, Army CW3 Lori Hill became the latest female pilot decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross (the first was none other than Amelia Earhart).

cwohill.jpg
Back in March in Iraq, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lori Hill, with the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, was piloting her Kiowa Warrior when the lead chopper came under heavy fire. She drew the fire away, simultaneously providing suppressive fire for the troops engaged with the enemy on the ground.

A rocket-propelled grenade hit her, damaging the helo’s instrumentation, but instead of focusing on her predicament, she established communication with the ground forces and continued to provide them with aerial weapon support until the soldiers reached safety.

As she turned her attention to the aircraft, which was losing hydraulic power, the helo took on machine-gun fire, a round crashing into one of Hill’s ankles. Still, with a damaged aircraft and an injury, she landed at Forward Operating Base Normandy, saving her crew and aircraft.

For her actions she was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by Vice President Richard Cheney at Fort Campbell, Ky., on Oct. 16.

“[It] was a once-in-a-lifetime thing to get the award and then have the vice president come and award it to you,” she said. “It’s just incredible for any soldier.”

Recalling that day in March, Hill reflected, “I was actually just glad I didn’t pass out and very happy I was able to help the ground guys out, and get our helicopter down safely on the ground.”

You won't see Chief Hill's face while your waiting in the grocery checkout line, and Lori Hill may not be a household name, but it should be.

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The Best Comment on Britney

Early last year, The Manolo was asked this question:

IAPNYC: I apologize for this question, but I ask everyone: the Britney or the Christina?

THE MANOLO: The Christina. There is for the Manolo no of the contest. The Christina, she is the beautiful lost waif, one who has, like the Violetta in the La Traviata fallen into the whoredom. For the Britney, this it was the sideways move.

And that, I believe, will be (and should be!) the final mention of the American Skankwoman on a's j.

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Wednesday is Bad Poetry Day: PMS Poetry

The last Wednesday of the month is Bad Poetry Day, and my thanks to annika for this edition's inspiration.

Have you ever googled "pms poetry" lately? You should.

First, we discover PMS is a journal of Poems/Memoirs/Stories by women, and, presumably, for women. There are two poems in the latest online version of PMS and they're not too bad, so they will not be included today. But now you know about the number one google hit for "PMS poetry."

Of course, if you go down just a bit, you find some amateur poetry ("amateur" defined as "not professional." I'm not being insulting here).

PMS
Will you get off my back, get away from me.
It’s that time of the month, so just let me be.
I counted out eight, there was ten there instead?
On a day like today, I should stay in bed.

Oh give me a girdle I’m ballooning again,
I resemble a Flintstone, not Wilma but Fred!
On my face the zits like volcanoes erupt.
Clearasil, Topex, I can’t get enough.

Tomorrow I’ll cramp up and wish I was dead,
This hormone imbalance makes me light in the head.
The curse of a woman in child bearing years.
Makes me want for hot flashes, is menopause near?

A warning goes out to the people near us.
Look out pedestrians, “I have P.M.S.”

If the author was trying to be light-hearted, I'd have to say she succeeded, as this is pretty funny. If she was serious, though, she failed miserably. I think it's pretty obvious she was going for humor, though you never know.

Proceeding on, we come across

PMS
Drip, Drop
There goes a blod [sic] clot.
Swish, swash
It makes a splash.
Pms is not fun,
But every girl gets one.
My period is such a curse.
I keep tampons in my purse.
Having a period really sucks.
Because when I have it, I can't fuck.

Interesting--the first image grosses men out (and some women too, I'm sure), but by the end...you've completely forgotten what the subject is. Part of it is because the meter and rhyme scheme go right down the toilet (Swish, swash/It makes a splash) but mostly because the author, in the last line, reveals the true tragedy of PMS--besides the wanting to kill the next person who PISSES! YOU! OFF!

Moving on, we find....not too much more, to be honest. You'll find some references to writers talking about their "PMS poetry" which I gather is stuff they dash off while angry or upset or...you know, PMSing...then destroy because even they realize it stinks. But not too much actual poetry about or inspired by PMS is to be found.

Most interesting, though, is an article at salon.com suggesting PMS may have driven Sylvia Plath to suicide. However, I'll leave that discussion (as well as reading the article, to be honest) for another day.

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November 28, 2006

A Major Announcement From Annika's Journal

The major announcement is this: I don't wanna do any more Brittany Spears posts. After her latest stunt, it's just not funny anymore.

britparis.jpg

One of my new year's resolutions for 2005, which I managed to keep, was not to blog about Paris Hilton. Now I think it's time to stop blogging about Brittany.

It's obvious she wants to enter the public consciousness again after her marriage hiatus. So she somehow got the brilliant idea that she should hang out with Paris Hilton, and copy the queen of skank's habits. Foremost among those habits is Paris's occasional tendency to show off her twat for the camera.

Paris does it on purpose, because it's part of her public image, and it works for her. But part of Brittany's charm, if you could call it that, was her lowbrow small town naïveté. Sure, she kissed Madonna, but part of me wants to believe that she didn't really know what that meant. "Ya mean people thawt that ah was lezbeeyin? Gawsh, ah had no ahdeeyah!"

But the planned crotch flash just isn't consistent with that simple image. It signals that Brittany plans to take her persona in a different direction, post K-Fed — into the realm of super-skankdom.

If I were advising Brittany, I'd say she is going in exactly the opposite direction she needs to go in order to rehabilitate her career. Even Paris knows that; witness the way she tried to close Brittany's legs in the picture above.

Publicity is publicity, negative or otherwise. Paris knows that too. But if Brittany really wants to be taken seriously, she should really take a look at how Christina Aguilera has managed her career. There's a girl who has found the happy medium between skankiness and musical talent.

Okay, maybe that's a little too ambitious for Brittany. No amount of vocal coaching would get her within one tenth of Christina's voice. But all I'm saying is, if you're going to be famous, at least be famous for something — not like Paris, who's famous only for being famous.

So if Brittany is just going to be a Paris Hilton clone, I'm not going to abet her anymore. It would only make me feel skanky by association.

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November 27, 2006

MNF Week XII

Quickly. Green Bay at Seattle. Green Bay sucks hard. Ten point underdogs. I followed a pattern last time, which proved true. However, if I follow it again, the chart would tell me that GB wins, and I lose if I bet for GB. They being 10 point underdogs, the pattern breaks down. It's illogical because it tells me I must bet against GB in order to win, but there's no way I can win by betting against them if they win as underdogs. Understand? Therefore, I will assume that the pattern of WLWLWL for GB's last six MNF appearances will be broken tonight (a logical assumption, since they suck hard, see above), and take Seattle minus the points, and see what happens.

Update: A push! Ha-ha, a muthafucken PUSH!

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November 26, 2006

The End Of The CD Era

My parents grew up listening to the 33 rpm vinyl album. Their parents bought music in little boxes of 45 rpm records. I grew up in the CD age, which died last month on October 7th.

Tower Records, the music industry's most famous retail brand, will be liquidated beginning tomorrow (Oct. 7).

After a 30-hour auction, the process was won by the lead-bidder, Great American, who put together a consortium of other suitors who were bidding on different components of the retailer. The winning bid was $134.3 million.

“It's a sad day for the music business and I feel badly for all Tower employees," says Jim Urie, president of Universal Music Group Distribution. "Tower was probably the greatest brand that will ever exist in music retail.”

The original Tower Records was (and still is, for a few more days) located south of Downtown Sacramento, next to the Tower Theater that gave the store its name. Here's a panoramic view of the famous corner, Broadway and Land Park Drive, where the world's greatest music store was born.

When I lived in San Francisco, I used to love walking to the Tower on Columbus and Bay, where the neighborhoods of Russian Hill, Fisherman's Wharf and North Beach all intersect, and where half my music collection was purchased. I can still remember the first time I saw Pulse's blinking red diode, it was in that store.

I was a senior in high school when I stood in the Coumbus and Bay store watching the overhead tv with REM's Monster in my hand, as Joe Montana (then a KC Chief) executed his most famous two-minute drill against John Elway.

The most famous Tower Records outlet is of course, the Tower on Sunset. My parents have a cartoony lithograph in their den, all in primary colors, of the Sunset Strip at night with Tower Records in the center under an Angelyne billboard. Tower Sunset was a music industry legend.

Bruce Willis spent $15,000 in one glorious shopping spree.

Elton John was practically a regular. Mick Jagger, Ella Fitzgerald and Jack Nicholson were known to drop by.

There’s never been anything quite like the Tower Records on LA’s Sunset Boulevard. It’s been an elemental part of the city’s music scene, a place where rock stars and record company executives came to shop, mingle and check how their records are selling.

This is where Tower became a global icon.

“Probably the most famous of all the record stores,” said music executive Miles Copeland, who has overseen the careers of such bands as R.E.M. and the Police.

I've been in that store once. I didn't see any celebrities, but I was probably there on an off night. Tower Sunset was a celebrity hangout, it seems.
In-store promotions at Tower Sunset – autograph sessions and short concerts by artists such as Lou Reed and Prince – became part of the Strip’s landscape. An appearance by rock singer David Lee Roth in the late ’80s clogged the street with thousands of fans.

Titans of Music shopped there

But employees say their favorite memories are of the celebrities who dropped by to shop: Bobby Darin, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and many others. Stan Goman said Brian Wilson, known for his battles with emotional demons, came in a bathrobe. Actor George Hamilton once wrote a personal check to pay for his purchase and was a bit miffed when the clerk made him produce a photo ID, Goman said.

A disheveled-looking Waylon Jennings showed up early one morning, hours before the store opened. “He was still recovering from his night’s activities,” said former manager Charlie Shaw.

When another former manager, Bob Feterl, transferred to Sunset from suburban West Covina in 1989, he got a hint of the store’s significance in his first week. “I see Ella Fitzgerald walking straight toward me, and I was totally blown away,” Feterl said.

Another time, he said, a stubble-faced Bruce Willis spent hours in the store, crawling on the floor to pore over the CDs that wouldn’t fit into the main stacks. By the time he was done, he’d spent $15,000.

Elton John probably was Tower Sunset’s most loyal fan. The store would open an hour early so he could shop in peace, often accompanied by a chauffeur or assistant.

“Elton would come in and he had an account,” said Howard Krumholtz, who recently was laid off after 34 years at Tower Sunset. “He would charge $5,000 worth of stuff. He had three houses, so he’d buy three of everything.”

In recent years celebrity sightings have become less frequent. But the stars haven’t forsaken Tower Sunset. On the outside of the building is a white billboard that says, “Shop the legend.” In the past few weeks, fans and industry types have been scribbling farewell messages on the board.

“37 years of music,” reads one of them. “This is so sad! Elton John.” Though the math was off – the store opened 36 years ago – store employees said the message is what counts.

What killed Tower Records is what killed the CD; I blame Steve Jobs. The personal computer, and now the iPod have made music store shopping irrelevant. Despite the crackdown on illegal downloading, is there anyone who can't spare .99¢ for iTunes when there's a song that you just gotta have? Adn why fight traffic and parking when you can hit Overstock.com and get what you want at a huge discount, delivered to your door? I've been doing that for years. Of course now I feel guilty; I always thought Tower would be there.

Tower Records always had the best selection and prices of all the chain stores, and when I did go out to buy music, I never shopped anywhere else. It was the only place to buy classical and jazz CDs, because that's the type of music where computer browsing just doesn't cut it. For classical especially, I really need to hold the jewel box in my hand so I can compare the different versions of the same works. And in the jazz section, I'd always check the endcaps first. Invariably, there'd be a previously unknown gem for me to discover, on sale. Try that at Borders, or Barnes and Noble. Their jazz section has what, 20 artists?

Now that Tower is gone, I think it's the symbolic end of the CD. The most annoying thing about CDs was having to buy a bunch of shitty songs along with the one or two good ones that you heard on the radio. (Vitalogy, anyone?)

But now, with iTunes, I'm afraid the pendulum will swing too far in the opposite direction. Who is going to download individual songs you've never heard of, based on the few seconds of preview that iTunes gives you? And how can you really appreciate that odd song within the artistic context of an album for which it was intended — imagine if Dark Side of the Moon were to come out today! No one would buy the instrumentals, even though they are essential to the whole album.

Well, it's a new era, and the music industry will have to figure something out. They've not been terribly good at understanding the market. But what really worries me is the fate of independent music, jazz and classical. Tower Records was their biggest ally, and I hope the music doesn't disappear from the face of the earth along with that great store.

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November 25, 2006

PMSPSA



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November 22, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: e.e. cummings

Just over fifty years ago (like, fifty years and two-and-a-half weeks ago) the United States in general, and the United Nations in particular, did nothing while a country in Eastern Europe tried to throw off the yoke of Soviet oppression.

I don't remember much more than that--it's been quite awhile since I've taken a history class. If the teacher told us what the mood of the U.S. was after the failed Hungarian Revolution, I don't remember.

But, based on the following poem by e.e. cummings, I suspect a portion of the country felt the U.S. could have done more.

THANKSGIVING (1956)

a monstering horror swallows
this unworld me by you
as the god of our fathers' father bows
to a which that walks like a who

but the voice-with-a-smile of democracy
announces night & day
"all poor little peoples that want to be free
just trust in the u s a"

suddenly uprose hungary
and she gave a terrible cry
"no slave's unlife shall murder me
for i will freely die"

she cried so high thermopylae
heard her and marathon
and all prehuman history
and finally The UN

"be quiet little hungary
and do as you are bid
a good kind bear is angary
we fear for the quo pro quid"

uncle sam shrugs his pretty
pink shoulders you know how
and he twitches a liberal titty
and lisps "i'm busy right now"

so rah-rah-rah democracy
let's all be as thankful as hell
and bury the statue of liberty
(because it begins to smell)

(The Wikipedia entry discussing the 1956 Hungarian Revolution is here.)

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November 21, 2006

Size Matters... Even Underwater

Another study, which confirms the obvious. Females prefer males with bigger gonopodia.

Data in hand, Langerhans exposed about 50 females, one at a time, to video images of a male of average proportions at one end of an aquarium and an outsized male at the other end.

"They chose the larger one over and over," Langerhans said. "All females had the same preference."

Don't feel bad though guys, the study also suggests that you might be able to solve your little problem by simply moving to a "predator free environment."
"We found that in predator-free environments gonopodia size was larger, as there is minimal cost for large genitalia in that environment," Langerhans said. For the record, the sex organs of the predator-free guppies were 15 percent longer, on average.
Oh yah, I forgot to mention it. The study was done on fish.

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November 20, 2006

Car Question

So I'm thinking about getting a new sled. Assuming I graduate and pass the bar, etc. Annikamobile 4.0's transmission is making funky noises, so I think it's time.

I like that new Acura TL. It's modest yet stylish, and the radio is pimp! But I don't like the idea of paying for 91 octane all the time, which is recommended according to the brochure. Does anyone know if that's for real? Would I really fuck it up if I used regular unleaded instead?

My brother says it has to do with the high compression ratio, but don't the Accords also have a high compression ratio? Accords take regular unleaded, but they don't have the 5.1 surround sound radio.

My brother says if I'm willing to spend $30,000 on a new car, I should just put 91 octane in it. But that seems like such a waste, like paying for valet parking when you can just self park.

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In Danish News

You may have seen this already if it's been on Drudge. If not, please note that it is not safe for work because it contains video of hott topless danish blondes.

This is a new advertising campaign to get Danish drivers to slow down while racing around Copenhagen in their rubber band powered euromobiles.

Click here for video.

I love the dude in the turban who says "Denmark has redeemed itself!" Pretty funny. Although I'm not sure what gripe a Sikh might have had with the Danes.

When I was in Copenhagen, I didn't notice a big problem with speeders, at least not in the city center. Actually there's not really a lot of traffic, due to some pretty restrictive laws. Plus, if you get a ticket for speeding, I heard the policeman can collect the money right there.

More info at Zonka's.

h/t to visitor Mike C!

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Scarlett Johansson, Scintillating Intellect...

...on a par with Cameron Diaz,

Johansson says, "We are supposed to be liberated in America but if our President had his way, we wouldn't be educated about sex at all. "Every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions."
I must have missed the President's introduction of the "No Child Gets To Learn About Sex Act." Anybody got a link on that?

The source article also says that Miss Johansson gets tested for HIV twice a year. Honey, if what I heard about you is true, I'd bump that up to about twice a week.

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Pumpkin Ice Cream

Here's a great idea for Thanksgiving desert.

pumpkin ice cream.jpg

1 cup half and half
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1/3 can of canned pumpkin, (about 5 ounces)
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground cloves
a pinch of ground ginger

Mix everything together in a bowl with a whisk, or I use an electric thing that Emeril calls the "boat motor." Chill overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning churn it in the ice cream maker of your choice. When that's done let it freeze for the rest of the day.

It's very pumpkiny. I'm still not satisfied with the texture of this ice cream, though. I've been experimenting with different proportions of heavy cream to milk, and this time I tried the heavy cream/half and half mixture. I think I may go back to the milk next time.

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November 19, 2006

Fracas At Powell

This is what happens when our Universities' social science departments are filled with former radicals.

According to an extremely biased article in the Daily Bruin,

Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a UCLA student, was repeatedly stunned with a Taser and then taken into custody when he did not exit the CLICC Lab in Powell Library in a timely manner. Community Service Officers had asked Tabatabainejad to leave after he failed to produce his BruinCard during a random check at around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
I think the UC police didn't handle the situation the best way possible either. They should have carried the guy outside as soon as he was handcuffed and then waited for backup. Using a taser to get him to comply with their orders was not going to work, since it was clear the guy was bent on creating a scene.

But the responsibility for this whole ugly incident lies solely with Mr. Mostafa Tabatabainejad. If you don't have your ID card, go back to your room and get it. If they call the police on you, apologize politely and leave the library. Otherwise, they might just taser your idiot ass.

Plus, when students are indoctrinated by professors who are former radicals constantly reliving the glory days of the 60's in class (I went to Berkeley, remember) it's pretty hard not to view all police interactions as if we lived in Franco's Spain. But we don't.

Update: h/t to TBinSTL for this appropriate PSA, by Chris Rock.



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The Old Bait And Switch

I wonder how many people who voted Democrat knew that reinstating the draft was on the Democrat's agenda.

I consider myself pretty well informed politically, I listened carefully to all the Democratic talking points, I'm on a few Democrat mailing lists. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but I don't seem to remember any Democrat mentioning that bringing back the draft was going to be their first order of business once they got elected.

Maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems to me if the Democrats had mentioned that they wanted to bring back the draft once they got control of Congress, they would not have gotten control of Congress!

I'm just pointing it out, is all.

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Who Gets To Go To Glendale

I'm very disappointed that the Bears will not be going to the Rose Bowl. A few close calls going the other way, and they might have beaten USC, but it was not to be. Despite Cal's explosive offense, and a defense that kept them in the contest until late, USC clearly has the better all around game.

I also watched the slugfest between Ohio State and Michigan, one of the best games of this college football season. Michigan stayed in range, but they never could get over the top. And afterwards, the announcers debated whether there should be a rematch in Glendale for the National Championship.

Some good arguments can be made for Michigan being the second best team in the country, but I don't want to see a rematch. I saw no fear yesterday on the part of the Buckeyes. I honestly think the team that plays OSU should be a team that makes them a little bit scared. I don't know if USC is that team, but if they beat ND and UCLA, I want to see that matchup.

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November 17, 2006

Dutch Burka Ban?

From Reuters:

The Dutch government agreed on Friday a total ban on the wearing of burqas and other Muslim face veils in public, justifying the move on security grounds.

. . .

"The cabinet finds it undesirable that garments covering the face -- including the burqa -- should be worn in public in view of public order, (and) the security and protection of fellow citizens," the Dutch Justice Ministry said in a statement.

. . .

The Muslim community estimates that only about 50 women in the Netherlands wear the head-to-toe burqa or the niqab, a face veil that conceals everything but the eyes.

What's that? "The moslem community?" I didn't know they spoke with one voice. In fact, I always heard that the reason they never seem to denounce blowing up innocent people and chopping people's heads off is because there is no unified "moslem community." But I digress.
Dutch Muslim groups have complained a burqa ban would make the country's 1 million Muslims feel more victimized and alienated, regardless of whether they approve of burqas or not.

"This will just lead to more girls saying 'hey I'm also going to wear a burqa as a protest'," Naima Azough, a member of parliament from the opposition Green Left, told an election campaign meeting for fellow members of the Moroccan community.

Sorry, but I don't seem to remember any moslem girls protesting when Van Gogh was killed. Perhaps if they had, Dutch people would've been more hesitant to ban their backward-ass burkas.
Job Cohen, the Labour mayor of Amsterdam, said he opposed burqas in schools and public buildings, and said women wearing one who failed to get a job should not expect welfare benefits.
Makes sense to me. Nice to see Dutch Labour getting a clue.

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November 16, 2006

Visitor Mail

Blu wrote me to suggest that I mention the passing of Thomas Friedman, which I have now done.

Correction: Make that Milton. Told you econ was not my subject.

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