I just left the theater after watching the new Narnia film, which was bloody excellent. I am now at the Duke of Perth typing this on my Blackberry and enjoying a pint of Young's Oatmeal Stout, which is also bloody excellent. If it wasn't for the blanket of snow which has covered Chicago like smog covers LA, this might almost be a perfect night.
pocketknife and english muffin (PBS, 7:00): aaughrecords (Peter MacNicol) gets lost on the way todlayphoto (Nikki Cox)'s house and spends the night in the library. Later, bullhead (Hank Azaria) wipesthatthingido (Steve Martin)'s laptop. On the other side of town, pencilfairy (Ice Cube) gets mad at mightygodking(Priscilla Presley) and decides to join the Peace Corps. Soon afterwards, poetdan (Tracey Ullman) accidentally throws away habibi (Dennis Quaid)'s mouthwash. TV-PG.
I started work last week, helping the students review their English conversation skills for their "O" level exams... the education system here (in this school anyways) is based on the British system, with a lot of curriculum coming from Singapore by way of the government. Mostly my classes are strictly conversational English with very little textbook learning... the students have a very short attention span, as most of them are from relatively well-to-do families and no doubt have universities and jobs waiting for them already, regardless of how well they do in class (I guess).
I went with some friends to a Korean BBQ restaurant... It was kind of like going to Pyongyang Disneyland. We were met at the door by a couple of waiters dressed as North Korean soldiers in full dress uniform... kinda scary at first, then I realized it's all in fun, I believe this is where the South Korean investors go to dine and get the feeling they're in North Korea. We are actually only a stone's throw away from the border but US and S. Korean citizens are not allowed over, so this restaurant is about as close as they (and I) are going to get. The hot coals in the table were brought by a Chinese guy in fatigues with dyed-blond hair, who kinda looked like the main villain in 007 Die Another Day (you know, the one where Bond sneaks into North Korea using some kind of high-tech surfboard). I actually ate dog... well took a small, tiny minuscule bite, before one of my dining companions matter-of-factly mentioned it to me... needless to say, I stuck with the beef the rest of the meal. I don't recommend dog at all, to anyone. Not a pleasant taste at all.
Currently I'm staying in the students' barracks, as there was a mix-up regarding my accommodation... at least I have a barrack room to myself but I kinda feel like a Hurricane Katrina refugee, as all the facilities are shared. I have some tenative plans to visit the seaside port town of Dalian in the beginning of October, with a friend. Dalian used to be owned by the Japanese, then the Russians, then the Japanese again, and then the Russians, who are still major investors. It's the only accessible port for them close to the Russian Far East... Vladivostok gets iced over in the winter, so they land cargo at Dalian and ship it by train the rest of the way.
Bush needs to bring the troops home from Iraq, and use his powers as commander-in-chief to dedicate the entire resources of the military to the situation in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Too many resources have been squandered all ready on this "freedom and democracy" crap overseas, and not enough has been done to provide for American citizens. If Bush dosen't act soon, Katrina will be for him what Monica was to Bill.
As you know, they search you pretty well at the airport. There'll be lots of places later they'll be searching us, but the airport is where they're kind of trying it out. And, as you know, they search your bags, too, to make sure there's no weapons. "Don't want any weapons on the plane! you know." They have the little fluoroscope job, and they run you through the model home, and: "No weapons! Let 'em on!" Yuo get on the plane, and you're clean! What do they do, they give you a knife and a fork, and all the wine you can drink, man. I mean, I could take over a plane with a piece of looseleaf paper, right? Just hold it at the stewardess's head and threaten paper cuts! "Do what he says! Do what he says!"
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Hit and Miss, July 26, 2005
Reviewer: Queenie(London) - See all my reviews
As biographies go this left me a little unsatisfied. To fail to mention Mr Copperfields huge commerical success as a magician or his rocky relationship with Claudia Schiffer seems an unforgiveable oversight. It was interesting however to discover about his difficult upbringing at the hands of the odious Mr Murdstone, his heartwarming relationship with Ms Peggaty and the various setbacks he suffered on the road to success. Worth a look.
I was sad to hear that James Doohan had reversed the polarity of his dilithium crystals for the last time. Respect is due to a fine comic actor and possibly the most patient man who was ever born. Anyone who hears "Beam me up, Scotty" from random passers-by every three minutes for well nigh forty years of his life without committing mayhem with a high-powered assault rifle deserves some kind of award.
From: Bin Laden, Osama [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, November 19, 2001 8:17 AM
Subject: The Cave
Hi guys. We've all been putting in long hours but we've really come together as a group and I love that. Big thanks to Omar for putting up the poster that says "There is no I in team" as well as the one that says "Hang In There, Baby." That cat is hilarious. However, while we are fighting a jihad, we can't forget to take care of the cave. And frankly I have a few concerns.
First of all, while it's good to be concerned about cruise missiles, we should be even more concerned about the scorpions in our cave. Hey, you don't want to be stung and neither do I, so we need to sweep the cave daily. I've posted a sign-up sheet near the main cave opening.
Second, it's not often I make a video address but when I do, I'm trying to scare the most powerful country on earth, okay? That means that while we're taping, please do not ride your razor scooter in the background. Just while we're taping. Thanks.
Third point, and this is a touchy one. As you know, by edict, we're not supposed to shave our beards. But I need everyone to just think hygiene, especially after mealtime. We're all in this together.
Fourth: food. I bought a box of Cheez-Its recently, clearly wrote "Osama" on the front, and put it on the top shelf. Today, my Cheez-Its were gone. Consideration. That's all I'm saying.
Finally, we've heard that there may be American soldiers in disguise trying to infiltrate our ranks. I want to set up patrols to look for them. First patrol will be Omar, Muhammed, Abdul, Akbar, and Richard.
Computer scientists in the US are developing a system which would allow people to "teleport" a solid 3D recreation of themselves over the internet.
Professors Todd Mowry and Seth Goldstein of Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania think that, within a human generation, we might be able to replicate three-dimensional objects out of a mass of material made up of small synthetic "atoms".
Cameras would capture the movement of an object or person and then this data would be fed to the atoms, which would then assemble themselves to make up an exact likeness of the object.
They came up with the idea based on "claytronics," the animation technique which involves slightly moving a model per frame to animate it.
"We thought that a good analogy for what we were going to do was claymation - something like the Wallace and Gromit shows," Dr Mowry told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.
"When you watch something created by claymation, it is a real object and it looks like it's moving itself. That's something like the idea we're doing... in our case, the idea is that you have computation in the 'clay', as though the clay can move itself.
"So if it was a dog, and you want the dog to move, it will actually move itself. But it is a physical object in front of you - it's not just a picture or hologram or something like that."
Fans of science fiction have long been interested in the idea of teleportation - where an object, or even a human being, is transported from one location to another instantaneously.
Professor Goldstein has envisioned that, eventually, the objects will be built with "nano-dust" - tiny objects that can be programmed to bind to each other and move - but currently they are trying to build at a much larger scale, working with objects the size of table-tennis balls.
Their original plan was for the application to work in face-to-face interaction.
"I'm in Pittsburgh, and you're in London. How do we make that happen?" Dr Mowry said.
"We can't teleport somebody - nobody's going to travel anywhere - but if we're in our own rooms a system of cameras will capture exactly what's in each room."
He said that these cameras would work much the same way as the character of Gollum was created by capturing the movements of actor Andy Serkis in the Lord Of The Rings films.
Mr Serkis wore a special suit and the cameras were able to interpret his movements.
"That information is turned into some representation - a three-dimensional version of an mpeg [computer video file] - like a DVD," Dr Mowry added.
"You capture it digitally, ship it over across the network, and then reproduce a physical object that looks just like the original object, and moves just like it."
And he stressed this would be useful for much more than simple video conferencing.
"It's very artificial to talk to somebody through a glass wall, which is effectively what you have when you have a screen," he added.
"You want to forget the fact that you're in different rooms."
I had an interesting dream last night. I felt it worthy of including here since it's still fresh in my mind at 3:00 in the afternoon.
In my dream, I was with some friends at a train station in Belgium and we were waiting for a train to the Netherlands. I beleive we had already taken the English Channel ferry from Dover to Ostende. Anyways, while we were waiting for the train I went into a nearby store and bought a container of ice cream. I think my friends and I were planning to eat the ice cream on the train. When I came out of the store and looked for my friends, they were nowhere to be found. I looked on platforms 4 & 5 but they were not there (this was where the train was scheduled to depart from).
So I went into the waiting lounge. My friends were not there either. I remeber lamenting to someone in the waiting lounge that I really had to find them and get the next train to Holland soon. Then I noticed an internet cafe nearby and went inside, still carrying the container of ice cream (which was starting to melt).
This was no ordinary internet cafe, people quietly browsing the web and checking e-mail. People were playing games, downloading music, creating music, singing, editing music videos, making movies - the noise level was terrific but no one seemed to mind. After making my way around the cafe, I decided the ice cream was a write-off and shared it with a group of Dutch girls who were hanging out and talking in a kitchen-type area off to one side. There just happened to be bowls and spoons there and we all dug in. And I made some new friends!
I don't expect anyone to interpret this dream, just thought I'd post it here while I still remember it.
And on the eighth day God was bored, so He created television. After watching awhile, He said, Jeez, this is really bad. Then He fell asleep, because He was still tired from creating the world. When He woke up, His television was gone. Great, He said. Now what?
Well, as it turned out, Satan stole God’s TV while He was asleep and sold it to this couple named Adam and Eve, who were just starting out. I’ve got a great deal for you, Satan told Eve before Adam had come home from his job naming wild animals. Take a look at this. Ooooh, Eve said. How much do you want for it?
Later, when Adam came home, he was beat. What’s for supper? he said. He went into the kitchen, but Eve wasn’t there. Instead, he found her plopped down on the couch in the living room, looking at a strange flashing box. When he asked her what it was, she stared at the box and didn’t answer.
What are they doing? Adam said, dipping into Eve’s popcorn. I haven’t the slightest idea, Eve replied. But it looks like fun. By the way, we’re out of beer. Adam sat next to Eve. He, too, became mesmerized by the tantalizing images flashing on the screen in front of them. He quickly forgot his hunger.
Why are you looking at me like that? Eve said awhile later. Adam smiled. I’ve been so busy naming animals, he said, I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed you. You look nice. Suddenly finding herself the center of her husband’s attention, Eve blushed. For lack of something better to say, she told Adam she’d planted some petunias.
For the rest of the evening, they watched the television Satan had stolen from God. In just a few hours, they found out there was far more to the human anatomy than God had let on. That, and there were several new gadgets they’d seen advertised, and now both desperately wanted.
That night, God went out for a smoke in the Garden of Eden. What a life, He said to Himself, looking up at the stars. Still, it’s a living. Then He strolled past Adam and Eve’s place. When he saw their light still on, He looked in their window. Much to His surprise, He found them wrestling on the floor in front of his TV set.
Right off the bat, God recognized the work of his evil arch-enemy, Satan. That son of a bitch has ruined everything, He said. A whole week’s work, down the drain. Without knocking, God opened Adam and Eve’s front door, walked into their living room, and clicked off the TV.
You will have to be punished, He told the couple after prying them apart. After all, I have an image to uphold. Adam, for the rest of your life, you’re going to be stuck paying for the stuff you ordered on your credit card. Eve, in addition to cleaning up after the kids, you will be forced to attend meetings and watch daytime television.
On His way home, God ran into Satan at the Tower of Babel Saloon on the corner of Toidy-toid and Toid. Don’t think you’re going to get away with it, He said. You owe me big time. Satan laughed. I feel so threatened, he hissed. What’re you going to do, spank me?
This sent God into a rage. After downing several shots of tequila, he stormed out of the bar. All right, He said, that’s it. They asked for it. Standing in the intersection, He opened his arms to the heavens and it started to rain. Thirty-nine days later, it was still raining. On the fortieth day, He said, Okay, that ought to do it.
After the water had subsided, God went to check on Noah. He found him drunk as a skunk at the foot of Mt. Ararat, watching not one, but two TVs. How can this be? God asked Noah. Just then, two doves with olive branches in their beaks flew out of Noah’s beard. Two of everything, Noah said. Remember? That’s what you said.
It was pretty much downhill from there. Ham and Japeth ordered big-screen TVs, as did their children, and their children’s children, and their children’s children’s children. Within a few generations, everyone was keeping track of sports, the weather, and the latest wars on CNN.
At that point, God did the only logical thing there was left to do. He retired, moved to Florida, and left His Son the business. All in all it’s been a good life, He said during a recent interview with Larry King. Still, if I had it to do over again, I think I’d skip the TV. The Kid, though, He disagrees. He says it’s great for publicity.
The international community does not want George W. Bush's Freedom and Democracy neither does it want its Hearts and Minds won over by Shock and Awe tactics, thank you very much. If George Bush was elected President of the United States of America, why does he address himself to the rest of the world?
Let's face it, if there was an election in the international community, George W. Bush might get elected as a member of a freak show, or perhaps a kitchen hand, handing out plastic turkeys in tents but for the leadership of a country? Perhaps, in a handful of countries like Albania, for instance, which might think first about the bank account rather than any notion of political leadership but in the international community as a whole, the NO vote would be far in excess of 80%, as is patently evident in numerous opinion polls.
If President Bush is an example to go by, we do not want his freedom and democracy. We do not want a model of freedom and democracy which sees the President of a country slink into his office in an armoured car which resembles a tank, guarded by 13.000 bodyguards plus countless other security personnel, creeping along a route lined by thousands of protesters.
We do not want his freedom and democracy which saw him slip out the back door of Number 10 Downing Street on his visit to London, the first such escape route used by any international leader any time in history, and during whose visit for the first time ever a statue of the President of the United States of America was toppled, to the cheers of thousands of lookers-on. Jimmy carter got out of his car and walked to the White House. Why can't Bush? The answer is simple: people do not like his Freedom and Democracy.
We do not want his freedom and democracy which is so popular that even in London, the capital city of the country and government closest to Washington, his state visit was restricted to three streets and a hurried trip to Tony Blair's constituency in a heavily guarded motorcade.
We do not want his freedom and democracy, which saw the wholesale slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq, a country invaded upon a pretext which did not exist. We do not want a freedom and democracy based upon barefaced lies.
We do not want a freedom and democracy based on the US model, where the electoral system can be rigged so easily, in this, one of the few countries which still has the death penalty. We do not want a freedom and democracy based on Washington's flawed model, controlled by a clique of corporate elitists who gravitate around the White House, making a mockery of their people and a mockery of democracy and which practise a policy of freedom of the press which makes the Gestapo look like fairy godmothers.
The international community is made up of hundreds of sovereign nations with models of government which reflect in some cases thousands of years of history and culture, which is to be respected, not obliterated in a wave of blind arrogance fuelled by the greed of Washington's invisible masters.
The international community does not want, nor does it need, the model imposed by a country barely 200 years old, with serious human rights problems, whose history is associated with ethnic cleansing of its native population, whose history is based upon the illegal deportation of races, a country whose military forces even today practise torture and which has concentration camps in more than one continent where the terms of the Geneva Convention are broken.
George Bush can keep his freedom and democracy to himself and to his own country. Nobody asked for his opinion abroad and nobody is interested in his opinion abroad. Each and every movement of the US regime outside its territory will be seen as belligerence, interference, and arrogance and is bound to produce an exponential reaction of hatred in the four corners of the Earth.
The very notion that George Bush can make a speech to begin his second and last term as president of the USA, referring to the international community, gives rise to the notion that he has a self-opinionated and inflated sense of his own importance.
Who asked for his opinion outside the USA and basically, who gives a two penny damn about what he believes in? It is his problem and that of the people he claims elected him. As for the rest, take a look at Iraq to see how very successful his foreign policy can be. Two years on, his forces are on the defensive, have lost control of the situation and there are now more Resistance Fighters than US troops.
Washington's Freedom and Democracy, anyone? No thanks. Let George Bush sort his own problems out and leave the rest of the world alone. Nobody called him and nobody wants him and judging by his inauguration "party", neither do a substantial proportion of American citizens.
Iceland's love for chess behind the campaign to save the volatile and irascible American
By Mari Manninen in Reykjavik
Every Icelander I interviewed said that this may be hard to understand outside of Iceland. Not everyone in Iceland understands it, either.
The question is, why did Iceland grant citizenship to the volatile Bobby Fischer - famed these days as much for his bizarre anti-US and anti-Israel rants as for his awesome chess prowess - a man whom the United States would have liked to put on trial?
By virtue of the citizenship approval, the former chess world champion was released from a Japanese prison in late March and allowed to travel to Iceland. The authorities had nabbed Fischer because he was allegedly travelling with a void passport.
The citizenship granted by Iceland saved Fischer from being extradited to his native country, the United States. He has been charged there for violating sanctions against the former Yugoslavia. In 1992, Fischer played an exhibition chess match against Boris Spassky in Belgrade. He is also under investigation in the U.S. for white-collar crimes.
Fischer has further infuriated his former native country with his vocal hostility towards Jews and Americans alike. He praised the terrorist attacks of September 11th and has called Jews "thieving, lying bastards".
Fischer is known to be an extremely difficult, even paranoid individual, who reportedly had the fillings in his teeth removed out of fear of radio signals from the Soviets. He blurts out whatever pops into his mind, criticises those who help him, and demands that others gratify his every whim, by wearing the right brand of shoes, for example.
In Iceland, Fischer stated his hatred towards the United States and Jews immediately at his press conference. After that he has lived quietly in a hotel, gone out to swim and eat, and has avoided reporters.
So why did Iceland take Fischer in?
Of the politicians, it was Minister of Foreign Affairs David Oddsson, the former Icelandic Prime Minister, who began to campaign for Fischer. His political adviser Illugi Gunnarsson explains that Fischer has a special place in Icelandic history.
In 1972, American Fischer played in Reykjavik against Soviet chess great Boris Spassky for the world championship. The game, touted as the "Match of the Century", was also a symbol of the power struggle between the world's superpowers during the Cold War. Fischer was the victor.
The entire world held its breath watching the duel, which lasted for several weeks over 21 games. At the same time, unknown Iceland found its place on the world map, and the hearts of Icelanders swelled with pride.
Many Icelanders consider Fischer to be a friend that the country is, in a way, indebted to.
Illugi Gunnarsson emphasises that Iceland did not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Japan or the U.S. Through the citizenship, Iceland simply offered the Japanese the possibility to send the detained Fischer to Iceland.
"It was a sentimental act in a way", Illugi Gunnarsson observes.
At the outset, Iceland offered Fischer an alien's passport and residence permit, but that was not good enough for Japan, so Iceland wound up granting him citizenship.
Illugi Gunnarsson stresses that Icelandic politicians by no means support Fischer's hostile statements. "In my opinion, the statements are wrong, but in a free society people have the right to express their opinions."
Gunnarsson explains that one element that influenced the decision was the love Icelanders feel for chess. He recommends visiting the local schools.
In the Rimaskol school, clatter can be heard in one of the rooms as around twenty students move around their knights and bishops. Well-known chess promoter Hrafn Jökulsson says that all of the pupils in the school know how to play chess, and some are even Nordic champions.
The traditions regarding chess have been disappearing among the younger generation, but now there are plans to include chess in the curriculum of every Icelandic school. The revival of the hobby has been the topic of plenty of discussion in Iceland. This most likely contributed to the decision on Fischer.
In the last vote held in the Icelandic Parliament, the Althing, no one opposed the citizenship of Fischer. Many representatives were absent, however, and a couple chose to abstain from voting.
That is puzzling, as a later survey found that a slight majority of Icelanders opposed granting Fischer citizenship.
According to political researcher Baldur Tharhallsson, the actions of the Parliament reflect the power enjoyed by Foreign Minister David Oddsson. The minister is a giant in Icelandic politics.
Many Icelanders believe the United States are harassing Fischer, and they feel it is a good thing that he was released from his cell.
However, it is easier to find opponents than supporters of his citizenship from among regular Icelanders.
"I do not understand why he gets to come to Iceland. Many others would deserve citizenship much better", remarks 33-year-old Hrönn Hjalmarsdottir.
Iceland has new, extremely tight immigration legislation. Citizenship is hard to come by, and it is also difficult to spend long periods of time in the country.
A foreigner under the age of 24 is not allowed to stay in the country even if he or she is married to an Icelandic citizen.
The conflict between the special treatment Fischer has received and Iceland's immigration policy angers many people, as do Fischer's often vitriolic statements. Hrönn Hjalmarsdottir feels that he should be sued.
"Public racism is not allowed in Iceland. A man was recently convicted of writing racist comments about blacks. Fischer talks about Jews in the same way", she says.
Human rights organisations have raised similar concerns.
Even some of the active chess players who eagerly saved Fischer from Japanese custody are now irked by Fischer's hostile statements about Americans and Jews. "Fischer has already brought us shame", laments Hrafn Jökulsson.
Nevertheless, he feels it is good that Fischer was released from prison. "Even though he has unpleasant thoughts, it would not have been right to lock him up forever. He was a genius - to chess what Beethoven was to music. And after all, he was an old friend of Iceland."
Hrafn Jökulsson hopes that Fischer will not stay in Iceland for a long time. "He is a very unpleasant character. His opinions and ways of expressing things are such that you do not feel like meeting him."
Retired policeman Saemundur Palsson has spent time with Fischer daily in Iceland. He befriended the chess grand master during the time he spent in Iceland for the Reykjavik game in the 1970s.
He is Fischer's only lifelong friend, and one of his extremely few friends overall.
The friend reports that he has tried to get Fischer to stop making public statements with such bile and animosity. "I am afraid he will not stop. He understands it is not for his own good, but he keeps doing it anyway", Saemundur Palsson shakes his head.
Many believe Fischer is mentally ill. As a man of Jewish heritage and an American, he himself is the butt of his own hatred. Nowadays, he even hates chess.
According to Saemundur Palsson, besides the angry outbursts, there seems to be nothing much wrong with Fischer.
When Fischer was jailed in Japan, he contacted Saemundur Palsson, and it was Saemundur who suggested that Fischer ask the Icelandic Foreign Minister for assistance.
"I am glad that Bobby is free. I do not believe that he could have survived ten years in prison in the U.S.", Saemundur Palsson says.
"And if you are not a friend in need, you are no friend at all."
According to the US Dept. Of The Treasury, U.S. Passports are valid for travel to North Korea and one does not need official permission to visit there (except from the North Korean government, that is).