Tuesday, December 04, 2007


i just got back from a date with adi fairuz. it was nice. got myself five happy coloured bangles. i'm so happy. and it's a ringgit each. now i have five. and i think i want more.

watched TROY. paris is such a pondan. and that archilles is so terrer i find it irritating. haih.

i love cinnabon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Just in case anyone is wondering why I don't blog more often...

Kinda tough to type when she always wants a say in it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


After days of reviewing, pulling out my hair and Shouting at the Wind, I finally finished most of the final review for Evil Business Math. Now, all I have to do is take the test. There are a couple of review questions I have no idea how to cipher, but that's what the instructor's for.

This has the potential to get ugly fast.

Another class
Which brings us to another class--Foundations of Quality. Monday, our 'group' was assigned to do a couple of charts and graphs using the information from the last assignment, plus new information we are supposed to get from the web. The charts will be presented in the last class for the semester next week.

After much discussion, we decided on which topics to research as individuals, and then it came down to who was going to collect the information from the group members and graph it. Guess who got screwed? Go ahead, guess.

Yup. I'm the goat who will receive emails from everyone in the so-called group (hopefully by today, but I won't hold my breath), and try and pound the useless data into graphs that will be presented next Monday. First, three of us, including me, stayed late two weeks ago to put the last project together into a PowerPoint presentation. One of the three who stayed after class did the presentation, so all the members will benefit from the grade, which should be pretty good.

This situation reenforces my theory that groups are a useless waste of time and resources. Three people from this 'group' have carried it through the end of the class, while the others just sit there hoping that someone else does the work for them.

I have half a mind to tank the final project just so the non-participants don't benefit from other's work. But, I that would bring my grade down, so I will do the best I can.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another Draw arrrghhh!!!

Well the tykes went to Swindon at the weekend and got a well earnt draw and nearly a win in the dying moments. Its bin ages since we won a game, the blackpool game being the last one (i think), so its frustrating to see that result, even tho we are supposedly improving. New guy Birch had a good game by all accounts, and this Murphy guy seems to be improving by every game. Fantastic Fallon turned out for the opposition in the 2nd half, and jumped and bounced around like a ballet dancing gazelle as usual, could have, should have scored according to reports. No change there then. I still think we miss Gorre the most, his ability has really come through this season even tho he's been injured for the most part now. Betsy still getting stick, lay off him! Missed a sitter against Port Vale i know and there is no excuse. Saw him in the exec box at the Vale game. That man must use oil of ulay or sommat. His skin looks like a womans. Very strange. Good player non the less. Chris Shuker looks good but came off in the first half at Swindon injured, and rumour has it he will be available for the Plymouth game. I expect our first win this saturday. Plymouth will have the seats filled by the sounds of things as the travel for this game for them is free.

Friday, August 24, 2007

me likie :)
by John Donne

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
"Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
Men reckon what it did, and meant ;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Own Blanket

A guy's going on a business trip and he has to take his secretary with him, and she's really crazy about him. The first night on the Amtrak, she's in the top bunk and he's in the bottom bunk. She says, "Mr. Forsythe! Mr. Forsythe! I'm chilly! I think I need a blanket!" He says, "Miss Schmitt, how'd you like to pretend you're *Mrs.* Forsythe for a little while? She says, "Oh, I'd like that." He says, "Then get you own damn blanket."

Monday, April 02, 2007

NATO, Europe and missile defences

Some old sores (and a few new ones, too) have been opened by Europe's muddled reaction to America's missile-defence plans

On the face of things, the argument is all about a handful of missiles which, whatever their wider role, will make no difference to the balance of power in Europe. But the deep, multiple fault lines that the row is laying bare--both within the Atlantic alliance, and between the alliance and Russia--seem all too reminiscent of cold-war politics at their dismal worst.

To cut a lengthening story short, America hopes to deploy parts of an anti-ballistic-missile system on the soil of two NATO allies: just ten fairly simple interceptors in Poland, and a radar system, able to track incoming missiles as they hurtle through space, in the Czech Republic. And senior Russians, especially the top brass, are growling in response. They are adamant that the new installations threaten their national security--despite America's insistence that the interceptors are aimed only at stopping the rockets from rogue (potential) nuclear powers like Iran.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, gave the argument a new twist this week by asserting that shafts used for interceptors could easily be adapted to accommodate offensive weapons. At the same time, indignant Russians add, the new kit is not such a threat that they couldn't deal with it easily. "Since missile-defence elements are weakly protected, all types of our aircraft are capable of applying electronic counter-measures against them or physically destroying them," declared one general, Igor Khvorov, this month.

The American in charge of building the new shield, General Henry Obering, has painstakingly spelled out reasons why the system's location should be a source of reassurance, not concern, to the Kremlin: the sites on NATO's eastern flank are in the wrong place to stop missiles launched from Russian soil. Moreover, he added this week, France, Germany, Italy and even western Russia are all potential beneficiaries of a system that could, if it works, stop a missile from a pariah state in its tracks.

In any case, Russia's strategic rocket force still comprises hundreds of launchers, and thousands of warheads; its capacity, like that of America, to annihilate any enemy will remain firmly intact. In franker moments--whether in the private comments of officialdom or the public words of President Vladimir Putin--the Russians admit that their firepower is not really threatened.

Nor can Russia claim to have been surprised. American officials reel off at least ten occasions when they discussed the missile-defence project with Russian opposite numbers. Both Robert Gates, the present defence secretary, and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, told their Russian counterparts about the plan; General Obering has given a briefing in Moscow; and there have been two set-piece discussions in the NATO-Russian Council.

But the dishonesty is not all on the Russian side. Take the muddled reaction of politicians in Germany, and the unconvincing efforts by the left-right coalition to present a united front over the issue.

The instinctive reaction of Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's foreign minister and a member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), was to rebuke America for "startling" Russia with talk of placing fancy new kit in the neighbourhood. "Because the stationing sites are getting closer to Russia, one should have talked with Russia first," he chided. The SPD chairman, Kurt Beck, went further. He has called the missile-defence plan a prelude to an arms race, and said: "We don't need new missiles in Europe."

In a fitting response, perhaps, to an artificial row, Germany's political masters have devised an artificial solution--at least to the internal German dilemma. Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Christian Democrat whose instincts are more Atlanticist than those of her coalition partners, has signalled through a spokesman that she wants to "NATO-ise" the issue of new missile defences.

What does that mean? Not much, in practice--but this ugly word reflects the political fact that to some European ears, the common deliberations, and ultimately common decisions, of NATO have a slightly softer, fuzzier sound than anything done unilaterally by the United States. NATO, after all, is a partnership in which all members, at least formally, have a say.

Others are now jumping aboard the "NATO-ising" bandwagon, including politicians in the Czech Republic, where a poll showed just 31% of voters in favour of the shield. According to the foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, many Czech legislators would find it much easier to support the installation if "it could be included somehow in the NATO system".

In hard military reality, the new system cannot be included. The radars and interceptors will be built by America, and controlled by America, and deployed by bilateral agreement with the hosts. If people hope for a non-American, or NATO, finger on interceptor buttons, they will be let down. In Berlin earlier this month, General Obering was asked whether his system should be brought into NATO. "I believe this system would complement NATO very nicely," he replied carefully.

As it happens, NATO has for years been preparing for the more limited option of a theatre missile defence, which could indeed be jointly procured and managed by the alliance. But strategic interceptors, albeit few in number, are another matter: the Pentagon won't share the keys with anyone. This week, a Pentagon official stated, at a congressional hearing, that the need for unanimous decision-making in NATO made it the wrong place to decide how missile defences should be deployed.

Even if it is phoney in parts, the missile-defence row cannot be shrugged off easily. Senior American officials find it dispiriting that Russia has again divided Europe. When Russian generals threatened to attack missile-defence sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, some European politicians fretted that Russia was being "pushed into a corner", to quote Luxembourg's foreign minister. The fact that Europeans are more protective of Russia than of their newish NATO partners does not bode well for alliance solidarity.

One centre-right German member of parliament, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, said it was "worrisome" that so many German voters, even on the right, proved receptive to Russian arguments. Mr Putin's anti-American speech at a conference in Munich last month seems--as Mr zu Guttenberg puts it--to have been "rather ridiculous, but effective".

Even among new NATO members where voters are broadly pro-American, affection is wearing thin, and the Iraq war's toxic effect is being felt. Iraq explains why 51% of Poles opposed the missile-defence plan in one recent survey, says Radek Sikorski, an Atlanticist Pole who recently lost his job as defence minister amid a row over how exactly to negotiate with the United States over missile defences.

The Polish government may agree to host interceptors, but parliament could still say no, says Mr Sikorski: "This is blowback from Iraq. We used to take things on trust from the United States in the security field"--but that is no longer the case.

America wants a swift decision from Poland and the Czech Republic, ideally this year, so the first interceptors can be in place in 2011 (though Tony Blair's offer of Britain as an alternative site for interceptor missiles remains on the table). Such assent is not a foregone conclusion.

The missile-defence row has also exposed a second fissure in NATO's ranks, about the very idea of deterrence. The nuclear states, Britain and France, broadly agree that peace is guaranteed by great powers being able to deter threats credibly: hence France's (discreet) support for an American shield.

But in some parts of Europe, America's wish to keep a deterrent capability in the face of new threats is seen as destabilising. Mr Steinmeier asserted this month that peace was "no longer based on military deterrence but on the willingness for co-operation." Others close to the SPD grassroots are blunter. Rolf Mützenich, an SPD spokesman on disarmament, argues that if missile defence gives a sense of "100% security" to Americans, "that will bring some problems for stability."

As one NATO hand puts it, the row over missile defences has made plain a broader challenge to America's moral sway over its old allies. Four years after the assault on Iraq, America can sound a warning about threats from rogue states--only to find many European voters would rather hear the opposite message from Russia.

Economist, 3/31/2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Montenegro feels Madness

Final Four fever has struck in the town of Bijelo Polje, Montenegro. Georgetown's Sead Dizdarevic, a reserve forward, from Montenegro found this out once he finished helping cut down the nets in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday.

Moments after the Hoyas beat North Carolina 96-84 in overtime in the East Regional final, the 6-9 Dizdarevic (pronounced DIZ-da-ray-vik) returned to the dressing room to find his cellphone jammed with 25 messages from the homeland.

"I couldn't believe it," Dizdarevic said. "This is huge for my town."

Dizdarevic is Georgetown's lone European roster player.

Dizdarevic has logged 21 minutes in 15 games this season. He played two minutes in the Hoyas' first-round win against Belmont and scored two points with one rebound.

Dizdarevic's parents won't attend this weekend's Final Four in Atlanta, but a large contingent of family and friends will gather to watch the game.

Dizdarevic, who attended high school near Sacramento living with a host family, is optimistic his parents, Besim and Lidija, will attend graduation ceremonies in May in Washington. Dizdarevic, who speaks three languages and six Serbian dialects, is majoring in political science and government. He hopes to pursue a pro career in Europe. "This has been amazing," he added. "People back home know about it (the Final Four), and I'll be representing them."

USA Today, MAR 28, 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Death of an Activist

It was poignant that the memorial service for Kathleen Crow was held on February 12, one day after the closing of the state Republican convention. For almost 40 years, Crow--who died at age 75 on February 1 after a long illness--had been a fixture at party conventions in the Golden State and a mentor to young men and women who desired to be active in the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

A native of Lewiston, Idaho, Crow was raised in ::Long Beach, Calif., and attended that city's community college. In the 1960s, she became active in the Goldwater for President movement and was a member of the San Marino, Calif., School Board. She was also appointed to the Teacher Preparation and Licensing Commission as well as the State Board of Health by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, on all of whose campaigns she worked.

In the 1970s, she was chairman of the California Conservative Union, planning and arranging for conferences held in Southern California and featuring speakers such as Reagan, many members of Congress and national conservative commentators. Crow was also a delegate to three Republican National Conventions in which Reagan was placed in nomination for President (1976,1980,and '84) and was a California leader in the insurgent presidential campaign of Rep. John Ashbrook (R.-Ohio) in 1972.

A canny political organizer, Crow helped craft the first campaigns of Rep. Dan Lungren (R.-Calif.) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, for whom she served as chief deputy for six years.

Sacramento political consultant John Feliz spoke for many on the convention floor when he told me: "Kathleen s memorial service is on Monday. I'll say good-bye to my godmother then."

Contributions in Kathleen Crow's memory may be made to the Right to Life League of Southern California, 1028 N. Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91104.

Human Events, 2/19/2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Making Babies


Thirty years ago, the government of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing urged the French to have "un troisième enfant pour la France," but it is only now that they have taken the advice. The national statistics agency says that in 2006 France had the highest birthrate in Europe. The average number of births by women of fertile age was slightly more than two. Thus France, where I live, becomes one of two European Union states with a positive birthrate; Ireland is the other. The contrast with their neighbors is very marked. Germany, Italy, and Spain all have birthrates under 1.4. The rates in the new EU members--Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and even Catholic Poland--are below 1.3.

French life-expectancy in 2005 was also the highest in Europe, at eighty-four for women and seventy-seven for men, and it increased last year by three and a half months for women and nearly five months for men. Debate over the EU's future has consistently focused on its ability to finance social services at the present level. Immigration policy has in recent years assumed population decline. Decline has been the trend since the postwar baby boom. The approach of retirement age for the postwar generation, now in their fifties, means a declining number of people in the active workforce to make the retirement and health insurance contributions necessary to support the already retired. Thus Europeans have been told that high rates of immigration are essential to support the European welfare state.

There is irony in this since the demagogic anti-immigration argument has been that immigrants come to Western Europe to take advantage of its generous social benefits. They actually are needed in the active labor force to keep welfare systems afloat. If the new French population trend should presage rising birthrates elsewhere in Europe, much of the angst might lift. However, this may be another "French exception." The increase in French births seems not to be due to a disproportionate number of immigrant births; the native-born are also having more babies.

This can't be proved by statistics, since in the name of French égalié French statistics do not take account of race or national origin. But children are thick on the streets of Paris's most prosperous quarters. On Sundays, the fashionable Paris Luxembourg and Monceau gardens are full of young families with double strollers and toddlers dashing about. My children's school friends are having three and four children--or more. One of my daughter's friends has thirteen.

Younger women are not the only ones having more children. The average birth age now is thirty. French women are more likely to work than other European women, but even graduates of the so-called Grandes Écoles, who go into privileged jobs, are having large families. Ségolène Royal, the Socialist presidential candidate, with four children, is exceptional only in that she and her "companion" never married.

And she is not much of an exception. The number of marriages fell from 416,500 in 1972 to 268,100 last year, but the number of civil partnerships--a legal alliance meant originally for homosexual couples, which has proven extremely popular among heterosexuals living in concubinage--has gone from some six thousand to over sixty thousand in six years. Birth records no longer note legitimacy of birth. A report of the National Assembly, chaired by the spokeswoman of the conservative party Union for a Popular Movement, said that the choice between marriage and civil union seems to have no great impact on family life. In other words, while the number of divorces is up, the civil union is not noticeably more unstable than marriage.

A factor in the increasing birthrate is undoubtedly France's generous social legislation, which provides a tax incentive for having children and gives long maternity leaves with assured return to work with posts and seniority intact. Governments with negative birthrates have investigated the French system, and Germany has just introduced new allowances for parents. "New Labour" introduced such measures in Great Britain in 2001, and last year that country enjoyed its highest birthrate in thirteen years.

Another possible birth incentive in France, which may not be copied elsewhere, is its thirty-five-hour work week. It's been suggested that the French now have so much leisure that they have found nothing more interesting to do with it than have babies, combining fun with demographic patriotism.

By: Pfaff, William, Commonweal, 2/9/2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Genuine Alligator Shoes

A young blonde was on vacation in the depths of Louisiana. She wanted a pair of genuine alligator shoes in the worst way, but was very reluctant to pay the high prices the local vendors were asking.

After becoming very frustrated with the "no haggle" attitude of one of the shopkeepers, the blonde shouted, "Maybe I'll just go out and catch my own alligator so I can get a pair of shoes at a reasonable price!" The shopkeeper said, "By all means, be my guest. Maybe you'll luck out and catch yourself a big one!" Determined, the blonde turned and headed for the swamps, set on catching herself an alligator.

Later in the day, the shopkeeper is driving home, when he spots the young woman standing waist deep in the water, shotgun in hand. Just then, he sees a huge 9 foot alligator swimming quickly toward her. She takes aim, kills the creature and with a great deal of effort hauls it on to the swamp bank. Lying nearby were several more of the dead creatures. The shopkeeper watches in amazement. Just then the blonde flips the alligator on its back, and frustrated, shouts out, "Damn it, this one isn't wearing any shoes either!"