Friday, June 29, 2007

Farfur the Mouse beaten to death by Israeli

for speaking truth to power!

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas- affiliated children's television program was beaten to death in the show's final episode Friday.
In the final skit, "Farfour" was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added.

The actor playing the Jew will, no doubt, later be killed to protect the fragile honor of Islam.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Farewell, Mr. Blair

Blair may be a "worm" according to my English history professor (pre-9/11, though I imagine that professor still feels the same way) in regards to his changing various institutions in England, namely the qualifications for the House of Lords - but, no matter how low his approval numbers get in the U.K. or how many times his courage and conviction is mistaken for being poodle-esque, he'll forever be welcome in my humble home - a pallet would be made and he'll get the best possible food in my cupboard, (should he ever need a place to stay) just for being such a loyal Anglosphere ally in the War on Terror. I always felt thankful when watching him in those lively parliament debates and listening to his eloquent and inspired defense for the war. God bless Tony Blair! Civilization owes him plenty.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

James Bond on personal hygiene, travel, tourism and cuisine

from On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1963

[Bond has just arrived to Royale-les-Eaux for his annual gambling tournament]

His two battered suitcases came and he unpacked leisurely and then ordered from Room Service a bottle of the Taittinger Blanc de Blanc that he had made his traditional drink at Royale. When the bottle, in its frosted silver bucket, came, he drank a quarter of it rather fast and then went into the bathroom and had an ice-cold shower and washed his hair with Pinaud Elixir, that prince among shampoos, to get the dust of the roads out of it. Then he slipped on his dark-blue tropical worsted trousers, white sea-island cotton shirt, socks and black casual shows (he abhorred shoe-laces), and went and sat by the window and looked out across the promenade to the sea and wondered where he would have dinner and what he would choose to eat.

James Bond was not a gourmet. In England he lived on grilled soles, œufs cocotte and cold roast beef with potato salad. But when traveling abroad, generally by himself, meals were a welcome break in the day, something to look forward to, something to break the tension of fast driving, with its risks taken or avoided, the narrow squeaks, the permanent background of concern for the fitness of his machine. In fact, at this moment, after covering the long stretch from the Italian frontier at Ventimiglia in a comfortable three days (God knew there was no reason to hurry back to Headquarters!), he was fed to the teeth with the sucker-traps for gourmandizing tourists. The ‘Hostelleries’, the ‘Vieilles Auberges’, the ‘Relais Fleuris’ – he had had the lot. He had had their “Bonnes Tables’, and their ‘Fines Bouteilles’. He had had their ‘Spécialités de Chef’ – generally a rich sauce of cream and wine and a few button mushrooms concealing poor quality meat or fish. He had had the whole lip-smacking ritual of wine-manship and foodmanship and, incidentally, he had had quite enough of the Bisodol that went with it!

The French belly-religion had delivered its final kick at him the night before. Wishing to avoid Orléan, he had stopped south of this uninspiring city and had chosen a mock-Breton Auberge on the south bank of the Loire, despite its profusion of window-boxes and sham beams, ignoring the china cat pursuing the china bird across its gabled roof, because it was right on the edge of the Loire – perhaps Bond’s favourite river in the world. He had stoically accepted the hammered copper warming pans, brass cooking utensils and other antique bogosities that cluttered the walls of the entrance hall, had left his bag in his rooms and had gone for an agreeable walk along the softly running, swallow-skimmed river. The dining-room in which he was one of a small handful of tourists, had sound the alarm. Above the fire-place of electric logs and over-polished fire-irons there had hung a coloured plaster escutcheon bearing the dread device: ICY DOULCE FRANCE. All the plates, of some hideous local ware, bore the jingle, irritatingly inscrutable, ‘Jamais en Vain, Toujours en Vin’, and the surly waiter, stale with ‘fin de saison’, had served him with the fly-walk of the Pâté Maison (sent back for a new slice) and a Poularde à la crème that was the only genuine antique in the place. Bond had moodily washed down this sleazy provender with a bottle of instant Pouilly Fuissé and was finally insulted the next morning by a bill for the meal in excess of five pounds.

It was to efface all these dyspeptic memories that Bond now sat at his window, sipped his Taittinger and weighed up the pros and cons of the local eating places and wondered what dishes it would be best to gamble on. he finally chose one of his favourite restaurants in France, a modest establishment, unpromisingly placed exactly opposite the railway station of Étaples, rang up his old friend Monsieur Bécaud for a table and, two hours later, was motoring back to the Casino with Turbot poché, sauce mousseline, and half the best roast partridge he had eaten in his life, under his belt.

Greatly encouraged, and further stimulated by half a bottle of Mouton Rothschild ’53 and a glass of ten-year-old Calvados with his three cups of coffee, he went cheerfully up the thronged steps of the Casino with the absolute certitude that this was going to be a night to remember.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Political Notes from the Continent

by EscutcheonBlot
Hurrah for the Queen. Of course I am not sure who actually put Salman Rushdie's name on the honors list, that generally being the prerogative of the PM (a very soon to be departed Tony Blair), she deserves kudos, however, for showing a little of the balls that won the Battle of Britain nearly seventy years ago. Unfortunately, she did not have the option of choosing a very good writer to do it with. This was probably necessitated by the humiliating display of British ball-less nancyboyism in the recent incident in the Persian Gulf. More and more the oldsters of Europe are getting fed up with the fecklessness of the '68 generation, and telling them to fight for it, or lose it ('it' being Europe, personal freedom, liberal name it). Pope Benedict XVI is also among these brave octagenerians not buying into this "Religion of Peace" b.s., noting famously, if privately, that Islam, being founded on the writings of one man, Muhammed, is fundamentally infallible, and not subject to reform. It can be piecemeal ignored, as do the moderate muslims, or followed, as do the many flavours of muslim extremists, but it cannot be reformed.

Boo for Sarkozy. Really it's a modified boo, for the incredible stupidity of allowing information out about the planned VAT (value-added tax...sales tax to you and me) increase to 25%, a more than 30% take hike(!) before the second round in the french parliamentary elections. Actually, this makes some economic sense, in a supply-side frame of economic planning, as he intends to reduce France's considerable corporate and personal tax rates to liberalize the economy. 'But he pays for it on the backs of the poor'--is how it was seen. He is also, quite obviously, uncommitted to real budget reductions, showing that a real reformer he ain't. Those waiting for a Thatcherite "le rupture" in France can just go on waiting. I would predict that, with his substantially diminished majority in parliament, and somewhat foolishly ideologically mixed appointments to his cabinet, that he has chosen a G W Bush path of go-along, get-along, which in the end neither gets nor goes.

Boo Hoo for Germany's Social Democratic Party (the SPD of Gerhardt Schroeder). This weekend, with the fusion of the former Communists of the East with the former Communist Stooges of the West (the heretofore fringe party WASG, a 2% to 3% outfit), the traditional anti-communist socialists (they do exist), find themselves increasingly bleeding support to their extremist spin-offs (the Greens being the other one). Die Linke (the leftists) as the new party is called, can count on 10-12% in the next elections, and could rise to as much as 15-20%. That would put them on equal footing with the SPD, giving them frightening power in a system of proportional representation that rewards every fringe party which garners more than 5% of the national vote with un-won seats in parliament. Given that in Germany approximately 5% of the vote is won by several really minor parties, an effective coalition needs to win around 48% of the vote, combined, to garner a majority. The left in all of its guises, regularly gets around 52-54% of the vote, and the right (The Christian Democrats and the Free Liberals) get around 46-48% in the weekly quasi-offical poll.

As Die Linke are mostly a bunch of demogogues and unrepentant former communists (over 60% of their members were members of the East German Communist Party) who wish to end the market economy and expand the wildly unsuccessful nanny state, the SPD at the moment categorically refuses to consider a coalition with them on the national level. That would change, however, as soon as the choice were to be in power, or be in the opposition. SPD-er Klaus Wowereit ('Wowi' to besotted Berliners...voh-vee, not wowie) has already decided to make governing coalitions with the hard left in two successive administrations for the city state of Berlin, although he had the choice of a left-right, so-called "Grand Coalition" after his first electoral win, and a coalition with the much more congenial (to him) Greens in the his second...he chose instead to govern with the communists. After 5 years, Berlin remains mired in astronomical debt and unemployment (around 20%). Wowi blames Bush and Merkel, and his communist bedfellows push for a total ban on autos built before 1990 in the city of Berlin, to combat global warming.

So, although Angela Merkel has shown a deft touch at the behind-the-scenes maneuvering in her right-left government, and a reassuringly tough down-to-earth public face (and she absolutely refuses to look in Putin's eyes and see his 'soul'), she faces a very steep road ahead in staying Chancellor after the next elections (could be 2009, could be a lot sooner). Things are marginally better in Germany now, with unemployment dipping below 10% and the economy roaring along at 1% or 2% (that's good for Germany), the future looks not so hot, with the hard Left lurking in the wings.

Sorry I've been gone so long, but I was working away from home, with no internet access, and I don't like spending inordinate amounts of time in internet cafes, surrounded by Turkish youths who are looking at e-porn. Go figure. Now, though, as my calender is slenderly engaged for the next few months, expect more, and increasingly bitter political, social, and artistic commentary.



Tuesday, June 19, 2007

God rambles

Or rather, Morgan Freeman rambles about playing God. And golf. And flying jet planes. And, well, the upside of being Morgan Freeman. Hey, who couldn't like Easy Reader?

(Another tangent....I've always hated golf. However, in the last few years, my resistance has started to fall. I may even try it before I'm 40.)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hamas to develop soft skills....

What's next, sensitivity training?

Meanwhile, some Palestinians are trying to get where it is safer: Israel.

UPDATE: And Christians would have taken to the streets to angrily protest the ransacking of a church in Gaza, the destruction of crosses and prayer books therein, if only they had the same capacity towards anger as the Religion of PeaceTM.

More pictures of Japan

Today's focus: people.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Inside James Bond's head

From “For Your Eyes Only

[Bond is on an early morning ten mile hike across the U.S./Canadian border into Vermont to assassinate a Cuban crime lord.]

Is this a hill or a mountain? At what height does a hill become a mountain? Why don’t they manufacture something out of the silver bark of birch trees? It looks so useful and valuable. The best things in America are chipmunks and oyster stew. In the evening darkness doesn’t really fall, it rises. When you sit on top of a mountain and watch the sun go down behind the mountain opposite, the darkness rises up to you out of the valley. Will the birds one day lose their fear of man? It must be centuries since man has killed a small bird for food in these woods, yet they are still afraid. Who was this Ethan Allen who commanded the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont? Now, in American motels, they advertise Ethan Allen furniture as an attraction. Why? Did he make furniture? Army boots should have rubber soles like these.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A few more pictures of Japan

Starting out with Fuji-yama, of course.

And then, I'm pretty sure, Edo Castle.

Some farmers....

I'm not sure where this is, but it's picturesque to say the least.

And finally, Nikko temple. It is here that Odie recently visited and was attacked by monkeys (in Nikko City, not the temple). It is here that the great Tokugawa Ieyasu has his tomb.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Stop the Aid, for Pete's sake!

I think I've heard this guy's argument before, but it does make sense. I just don't see the West's collective guilt allowing it to do the humanitarian thing.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Japan, ca. 1910

Prepare to see more from this collection of Herbert Geddes photographs of Japanese scenes. I assume the glass transperencies are in color, but I'm not certain. Otherworldly to say the least.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

James Bond on drinking while in Paris

from "From A View To A Kill"

James Bond had his first drink of the evening at Fouquet’s. It was not a solid drink. One cannot drink seriously in French cafes. Out of doors on a pavement in the sun is no place for vodka or whisky or gin. A fin a l’ eau is fairly serious, but it intoxicates without tasting very good. A quart de champagne or a champagne a l’ orange is all right before luncheon, but in the evening on quart leads to another quart, and a bottle of indifferent champagne is a bad foundation for the night. Pernod is possible, but it should be drunk in company, and anyway Bond had never liked the stuff because its licorice taste reminded him of his childhood. No, in cafes you have to drink the least offensive of the musical-comedy drinks that go with them, and Bond always had the same thing, an Americano---bitter Campari, Cinzano, a large slice of lemon peel, and soda. For the soda he always stipulated Perrier, for in his opinion expensive soda water was the cheapest way to improve a poor drink.

This day in history - June 7th 2006

Protein Wisdom remembers this remarkable day 1 year ago:

In 2006, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed by a U.S. airstrike—a feat made all the more amazing because al Qaida wasn’t in Iraq to begin with, and because no laughing children flying kites at a rural wedding ceremony were indiscriminately killed by the robotic US war machine. Which was a first.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Goldfinger on Smoking and Drinking

from Goldfinger.

[Bond is over at Auric's for dinner. Goldfinger is speaking:]

‘Please try the Moselle. I hope it will be to your taste. It is a Piesporter Goldtropfchen ’53. Help yourself. These people [the Korean help] are as likely to pour it into your plate as your glass.”

There was a slim bottle in an ice bucket in front of Bond. He poured some of the wine and tasted it. It was nectar and ice cold. Bond congratulated his host. Goldfinger gave a curt nod.

‘I don’t myself drink or smoke, Mr. Bond. Smoking I find the most ridiculous of all the varieties of human behavior and practically the only one that is entirely against nature. Can you imagine a cow or any animal taking a mouthful of smouldering straw then breathing in the smoke and blowing it out through its nostrils? Pah!’ Goldfinger showed a rare trace of emotion. ‘It is a vile practice. As for drinking, I am something of a chemist and I have yet to find a liquor that is free from traces of a number of poisons, some of them deadly, such as fusel oil, acetic acid, ethylacetate, acetaldehyde and furfurol. A quantity of some of these poisons taken neat would kill you. In the small amounts you find in a bottle of liquor they produce various ill effects most of which are lightly written off as “a hangover”.’ Goldfinger paused with a forkful of curried shrimp half way to his mouth. ‘Since you are a drinker, Mr. Bond, I will give you one word of good advice. Never drink so-called Napoleon brandy, particularly when it is described as “aged in the wood”. That particular potion contains more of the poisons I have mentioned than other liquor I have analysed. Old bourbon comes next,’ Goldfinger closed his animadversions with a mouthful of shrimp.

[Bond] ‘Thank you. I’ll remember. Perhaps for those reasons I have recently taken to vodka. They tell me its filtration through activated charcoal is a help.’

How to Embolden the Enemy and Not Influence People Terrorists

ETA is calling off the ceasefire despite Zapatero's capitulations. Perhaps if he just bites his lip a little harder they'll make nice. I mean, just look in the puppy dog eyes of these ETA guys. Doesn't it warm the heart?

Mental note: never join a club that requires you to wear a hood.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bond on Pussy Galore

From Goldfinger

[Auric Goldfinger has just started his meeting with the major mob bosses in the U.S. Bond and Tilly Masterton are secretaries of the meeting. Pussy Galore has just entered the room and sat down at the table.]

Bond liked the look of her. He felt the sexual challenge all beautiful Lesbians have for men. He was amused by the uncompromising attitude that said to Goldfinger and to the room, ‘All men are bastards and cheats. Don’t try any masculine hocus on me. I don’t go for it. I’m in a separate league.’ Bond thought she would be in her early thirties. She had a pale, Rupert Brooke good looks with high cheekbones and a beautiful jawline. She had the only violet eyes Bond had ever seen. They were the true deep violet of a pansy and they looked candidly out at the world from beneath straight black brows. Her hair, which was as black as Tilly Masterton’s, was worn in an untidy urchin cut. The mouth was a decisive slash of deep vermilion. Bond thought she was superb and so, he noticed, did Tilly Masterton who was gazing at Miss Galore with worshipping eyes and lips that yearned. Bond decided that all was now clear to him about Tilly Masterton.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Tiananmen Square Massacre turns 18

It would be old enough to vote today if it was a person and it was not Chinese. Gateway is on the beat.

Don't expect any activities at the square to remember the dead - except, perhaps, some extra police to see that nothing notable happens.

In related news: No Thanks.