The following story was written by a friend (may be published online soon) and he agreed to share it like this.
I dont take it as a prediction, but as an exercise in imagining what the logical consequences of certain trends could be...it wont actually happen because no trend continues in a straight line. Countervailing forces develop, the dialectic kicks in and the synthesis rarely looks like the thesis...
in any case, if we project a different set of trends forward in time, then in the actual 2022 we may see Chinese businessmen protected by security guards pushing their way into a special "Chinese first" line at Lahore airport, while Imran Khan complains about the way Chinese interference is ruining our previously sane society (by then, Chinese drones will be bombing the tribal areas, so the Chinese will not be as well-loved as they are today)..
Lawyers (presumably supporters of Islamist parties) showered Mumtaz Qadri, self-confessed killer of Governor Salman Taseer, with rose petals on his first court appearance. He was also garlanded with a garland of roses.
This post can be read in conjunction with this one...the comments on the earlier post are also relevant.
The intersection of writing, fame and commerce that was the coda of Sujatha's last post triggered a memory of a crônica by Russell Baker that was included as a post script in an anthology titled "The Historian as Detective - Essays on Evidence", Robin W. Winks, Ed. Not the historian, silly! Wink, the editor, with a nudge, gives this nod to Baker, the humorist :
"We need not take the tragedy of history so seriously as to forget our obligation to laugh as well. Perhaps the humor of history is black, a discipline of the absurd to match the world's stage on which the theater of the absurd plays to standing-room-only audiences, but the humor is there nonetheless. Let the final word here be given to a man who represents those historians of the moment, newspaper reporters, those men who give most Americans all the history they will ever read once they have left school, and all they have ever read with pleasure. Russell Baker, a columnist for The New York Times, reminds us of Carl Becker's message, that Everyman will be his own historian."
Having typed that I seem to have forgotten how it all relates to Sujatha's post, except that Baker's piece is in counterpoint to her conjecture that "maybe the freedom to write what one wishes comes after fame". In the event, humor is a reward unto itself.
Once the Thanksgiving turkey has been cleared off the table, it's not only the start of the perusal of Black Friday fliers, it's time for the restrategizing of the 'War on Christmas'.
Boroughs and municipalities all across the U.S. start putting up their carefully calibrated Holiday displays, trying to figure out the precise percentage to which they can introduce explicitly Christian imagery, and whether they need to balance it out with arguably 'secular' symbols like Santa Claus (wait, wasn't St.Nicholas supposed to be a Christian symbol, once upon a time?), reindeer, snowmen made of anything but snow, inflatable Grinches and such.
This was bound to happen.Major Pakistani newspapers have been duped (or "made an offer they could not refuse") into printing headline stories based on false wikileaks cables that are extremely unflattering to India. And I am not surprised that the finest intelligence agency in the world was first with this new form of communication. btw, the pro-PPP website LUBP has investigated some of the operations used to disseminate intelligence agency propaganda and their expose is worth a read too..
About a week ago, I read a blogblurb raving about some new phone app, which would use the power of GPS to tell you where you were and highlight the most interesting thing in the vicinity.For instance, if you were in France, walking near the Eiffel tower, your phone could superimpose cool factoids and trivia about the Eiffel tower on the screen, allowing you to become a walking encyclopedia, in more ways than one.
Heaven forbid that you should just put your phone away and just look up at the Huge Tower. There, just in front of you.
Today's review of museum apps (from the NY Times) suggests that we have indeed reached the era of phone-toting zombies wandering around the halls of sarcophagi and Picass(i?), colliding as they swipe, swirl and shove their way across their touch screens. The guard rails around the exhibits had better be strengthened to prevent untoward accidents as the wired museum goer pays more attention to the screen than the exhibit.
From the article:
"You have to type in strings of as many as eight or nine digits to get information about an object, though many cannot be found in the system; some offer less information than the museum’s label. The app’s real point, though, is its embrace of populist Web culture, in which votes and tags are supposed to yield a kind of collective wisdom. If you are looking at an object in the program, you can “vote” for it by clicking on a button with a heart, declaring your taste: “Like this.” You are then directed to other objects people have “liked” in the same gallery and can see how many votes they get. (Few people seem to use this system: the number of “likes” rarely seems to rise above five.)"
Talk about walking hazards, as you attempt to key in all of the above and 'Like' a particular exhibit, and follow the map presented to you to the next object you might 'Like'.
In fairness, though, the author of the article, after weary recaps of every museum app he tried, concludes:
"It is best to consider all these apps flawed works in progress. So much more should be possible. Imagine standing in front of an object with an app that, sensing your location, is already displaying precisely the right information. It might offer historical background or direct you through links to other works that have some connection to the object. It might provide links to critical commentary. It might become, for each object, an exhibition in itself, ripe with alternate narratives and elaborate associations.
And, best of all, you could save it for later, glance up from the screen and look carefully at what faces you, all scrims removed, all distractions discarded. Like this! There must be an app for that!"
Try looking at the objects in the museum, instead of the phone screen. What a revolutionary concept!
August 2010 has been a torrid month in Houston- it is winding down to become the hottest August on record. The high temperatures and humidity have made the days unusually uncomfortable with heat advisories being issued nearly daily. Two days ago the Houston Chronicle ran a mildly amusing editorial named The ugliest August. It described synapses melting in fearsome heat filled days.
Here in the depths of a Houston August, we sometimes suspect that the heat has melted our brain. So we run little tests. Sometimes we ask ourself poll questions like, "Is Barack Obama a Muslim?" If the answer is yes, and if we think that we learned that from the media, we walk very carefully, holding our head up straight, so those liquid neurons don't slosh out our ears.
Another little test we run is to read SciGuy's blog on the Chronicle's website. Eric Berger uses graphs and words like "correlation," and we feel smarter just looking at that stuff on our screen. If the heat had truly liquefied our lobes, wouldn't we be on TMZ reading about Mel Gibson's latest phone rant?
(Okay, so we were reading that. And we'd like to reach out to Mel, who's clearly a fellow sufferer of Melted Brain Syndrome. It's just that we're afraid he'd call back.)
Where were we? Oh, yeah. SciGuy. On Friday, he started his blog with the line, "It's been so hot this month that…" Our overheated synapses got all excited: Was SciGuy going to crack jokes? We braced for stuff that would knock 'em dead at the nanotech centers — "so hot that 'heat death of the universe' takes on a whole new meaning!" … or "so hot that climate-change skeptics could cook their numbers on the sidewalk!"
But no. Instead, SciGuy dazzled us with data. It's so hot, he wrote, that "this month is on pace to become the warmest month on record in Houston. Any month. Ever." It's so hot that the average monthly temperature of 88.3 degrees is a whopping eight-tenths of a degree warmer than any previous August on record. So hot that this August has already had two — two! — daily minimum temperatures of 83 degrees, a level of overnight misery achieved only once before in 110-plus years of records.
There's no respite, we realized. This vicious month is giving no quarter. There's no chance for a melted brain to cool down. Demoralized, we slumped in our chair, leaned back, and felt our neocortex dribble down our neck. At least it made our neck feel cooler.
So okay, it wasn't really even mildly funny after the first paragraph. But I was thankful that amidst all those numbers that SciGuy is throwing around, there is no mention of the heat index which is regularly reported on TV weather reports alhough not on the Chronicle's own weather page.
I have always been mystified by the concept of heat index and wind chill factor. While there is no dispute that higher humidity on a hot day makes us feel hotter and howling winds during chilling temperatures can cut like a knife on the skin, how can the meteorologists say "exactly" how hot or cold one is supposed to feel due to these indices? I need a light cardigan or a shawl on a clear and breezy 70 degree night. My husband feels comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt on 55 degree days. During his high school years my son played hours of tennis in July when the thermometer would regularly hover in the high 90s, often climbing to triple digits while I sat under a tree or an umbrella fanning myself, drinking copious amounts of iced water and wishing for the matches to end.
Who knows exactly how hot or cold a person feels? Perhaps 97 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity feel like 100 to me, 105 to my husband and merely 97 to my son, while the meteorologist confidently tells us that it should feel like 103. Measurements of weather phenomena have made tremendous advances but it would serve the public well if weather reports stay within the bounds of measurable parameters. Despite sophisticated instruments, predicting weather remains an inexact science. Having lived for a long time in tornado and hurricane prone regions of the country, I know this first hand. But rather than accept the fact that weather conditions are routine and for the most part, uneventful parts of our lives, the men and women reporting them on TV have become performers who are called upon to joke, scare and embellish. Instead of stating mere facts like the barometric pressure, the exact temperatures, relative humidity, wind velocities and the inches of snow and rainfall and occasionally issuing necessary warnings during severe weather, they must spice up the daily weather report by providing the measure of "feelings." I don't see the utility of the heat index and the wind chill factor and also why the weather segment of TV news has to adopt the sensationalist mode that has crept into all other forms of news reporting.
I came across a website last night that purports to "analyze" one's writing style and compares it to that of famous authors. Naturally, I was curious. After analyzing seven random blog posts, my writing style came out to be like that ofCory Doctorow (4 times), Kurt Vonnegut (2) and David Foster Wallace (1). "What, no woman writer?" I thought. I have read Vonnegut but not the other two.
This morning while discussing the Analyzer at another blog, someone pointed me to this post on Obsidian Wings. In the comments section a reader mentions that the compiler of the gizmo uses a list of 40 authors, just three of them women. Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling and Jane Austen account for the female voices. (Further scrutiny shows that a few more women have been added)
Not satisfied with analyzing just my own posts I decided to run half a dozen or so posts and longish comments written by each of my co-bloggers. (You can tell I had a lot of time on my hands) Here is how they stacked up.
Sujatha: Shakespeare, Cory Doctorow, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King
Joe:Dan Brown, David Foster Wallace, Cory Doctorow, H.P. Lovecraft
Anna: H.P. Lovecraft, James Joyce, Kurt Vonnegut
Dean:Mary Shelly, Vladimir Nabokov, Dan Brown, H.P. Lovecraft
Andrew: David Foster Wallace, George Orwell, Cory Doctorow
Narayan:H.P. Lovecraft, Dan Brown, Vladimir Nabokov,
Prasad:David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Swift, Cory Doctorow, William Gibson
It just so happens that the first seven posts of mine that I ran through the scrambler were all political posts. I went back and compared some book reviews and art posts and came up with James Joyce, Nabokov and George Orwell. (again, no woman)
Then of course, I did the obvious. Noticing that David Foster Wallace appears with alarming frequency in the Analyzer, I analyzed a piece of Wallace's own writing and apparently he writes like Stephen King! Looks like Wallace and King are the two most frequently appearing authors in the results. I also plugged in a few of King's writing samples. Most of the time he comes out as himself. His "On Writing" musings resemble James Joyce. One piece (I forget which one) came out as David Foster Wallace (natch!). But in his old classic Salem's Lot, the Horror King apparently wrote like Chuck Palahniuk. Go figure!
I am not the only one who spent a rainy day playing with this internet gimmick. Others, including some authors featured in the I Write Like analyzer were curious too. (Margaret Atwood writes like Stephen King, she found out). However, some among us are confident enough or vain enough to not need an online scrambler to tell them which famous author's literary style mirrors their own. Get ready for Wilhemina from Wasilla.
"Home electronics can gobble energy - including "phantom" draw even when off. That's why I like the Sony Bravia KDL-52VE5 Eco Series LCD TV: It has a motion sensor to shut down the unit when not in use, a high-efficiency backlight, and a switch to cut power entirely."
A $1900, 52-inch hi-def television that's "energy efficient" because if you're too lazy to switch it off when you leave or fall asleep, it'll notice it isn't being watched eventually.
(Note: the first link is to a humorous situation that I found myself in. I had thoughts about contacting my cell phone carrier to ask about number blocks and such, a genuflection of sorts at the altar of Big Bro, but didn't follow through.)
Forget literary critics; see how famous authors eviscerate each others creative talent and output.
Ernest Hemingway, according to Vladimir Nabokov (1972)
As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early 'forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.
John Keats, according to Lord Byron (1820)
Here are Johnny Keats's p@# a-bed poetry...There is such a trash of Keats and the like upon my tables, that I am ashamed to look at them.
John Updike, according to Gore Vidal (2008)
I can't stand him. Nobody will think to ask because I'm supposedly jealous; but I out-sell him. I'm more popular than he is, and I don't take him very seriously...oh, he comes on like the worker's son, like a modern-day D.H. Lawrence, but he's just another boring little middle-class boy hustling his way to the top if he can do it.
Oscar Wilde, according to Noel Coward (1946)
Am reading more of Oscar Wilde. What a tiresome, affected sod.
John Milton's Paradise Lost, according to Samuel Johnson
'Paradise Lost' is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished it longer than it is.
Jane Austen, according to Charlotte Bronte (1848)
Why do you like Miss Austen so very much? I am puzzled on that point. What induced you to say that you would rather have written 'Pride and Prejudice'...than any of the Waverly novels? I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses.
Gertrude Stein, according to Wyndham Lewis (1927)
Gertrude Stein's prose-song is a cold black suet-pudding. We can represent it as a cold suet-roll of fabulously reptilian length. Cut it at any point, it is the same thing; the same heavy, sticky, opaque mass all through and all along.
J.D.Salinger, according to Mary McCarthy (1962)
I don't like Salinger, not at all. That last thing isn't a novel anyway, whatever it is. I don't like it. Not at all. It suffers from this terrible sort of metropolitan sentimentality and it's so narcissistic. And to me, also, it seemed so false, so calculated. Combining the plain man with an absolutely megalomaniac egotism. I simply can't stand it.
Mark Twain, according to William Faulkner (1922)
A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.
Emile Zola, according to Anatole France (1911)
His work is evil, and he is one of those unhappy beings of whom one can say that it would be better had he never been born.
William Faulkner, according to Ernest Hemingway
Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You're thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes -- and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he's had his first one.
Marcel Proust, according to Evelyn Waugh (1948)
I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, according to Gore Vidal (1980)
He is a bad novelist and a fool. The combination usually makes for great popularity in the US.
Jane Austen, according to Mark Twain (1898)
I haven't any right to criticize books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice,' I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
Goethe, according to Samuel Butler (1874)
I have been reading a translation of Goethe's 'Wilhelm Meister.' Is it good? To me it seems perhaps the very worst book I ever read. No Englishman could have written such a book. I cannot remember a single good page or idea....Is it all a practical joke? If it really is Goethe's 'Wilhelm Meister' that I have been reading, I am glad I have never taken the trouble to learn German.
Gore Vidal, according to Martin Amis (1995)
Vidal gives the impression of believing that the entire heterosexual edifice -- registry offices, 'Romeo and Juliet,' the disposable diaper -- is just a sorry story of self-hypnosis and mass hysteria: a hoax, a racket, or sheer propaganda.
These are fifteen of the best shots. Check out the rest. (thanks to Angel Rivera)
Believe it (or in it) or not. That's the name of a scientific
paper published in a journal on the validity of the famed 'Mozart Effect'. I
love the name, more so that a scientist dared to use it in the actual
title of his paper.
"The transient enhancement of performance on spatial tasks
in standardized tests after exposure to the first movement “allegro
con spirito” of the Mozart sonata for two pianos in D major (KV
448) is referred to as the Mozart effect since its first observation by
Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993). These
findings turned out to be amazingly hard to replicate, thus leading to
an abundance of conflicting results. Sixteen years after initial
publication we conduct the so far largest, most comprehensive, and
up-to-date meta-analysis (nearly 40 studies, over 3000 subjects),
including a diversity of unpublished research papers to finally clarify
the scientific record about whether or not a specific Mozart effect
" On the whole, there is little evidence left for a
specific, performance-enhancing Mozart effect."
So much for
the tinkling sounds of Mozart's lullaby that played whenever I turned
the key of my kid's musical mobile, and then when the keys of his play gym
were pressed, playing the opening strains of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Or
the ubiquitous Baby Einstein videos playing variants of Mozart in
millions of homes where anxious parents rushed to enhance their babies'
spatial skill abilities.
Regarding the role of music in general to enhance learning, this
recent study indicates it makes very little difference:
"Verbal learning during the exposure to different background
music varying in tempo and consonance did not influence learning of
verbal material. There was neither an enhancing nor a detrimental
effect on verbal learning performance. The EEG data suggest that the
different acoustic background conditions evoke different cortical
activations. The reason for these different cortical activations is
unclear. The most plausible reason is that when background music draws
more attention verbal learning performance is kept constant by the
recruitment of compensatory mechanisms."
account for the effects of my listening to old Bollywood tunes on the
late night radio show. For a while, it contributed to lack of attention
to my studies and more to the music, as I tried to figure out the
lyrics. I took to noting them down in a blue diary. Once I was done, it
was relegated to the background the next time I heard it. I don't know
if it helped me in my exam preparations, but I was one of the "Most
Wanted" members of the class team for a game based on the starting lines of Hindi songs, since I had so many obscure lines memorized.
Check out the hilarious comments on this article. It looks like more people are terrified of the loss of Mozart as the easy method to IQ enhancement than are delighted by the results of this study. Oh the humanity! Kids have to learn to play music, rather than merely listening to it, to get brighter!
"Welcome to Chicago, home of the 1908 World Series champions." "We know you have many choices in airlines, and we're just glad you can't afford any of the others." --Southwest flight attendant
Southwest employees are known for their unorthodox in-flight announcements. Apparently, they are at their best on short hops between Texas cities - Houston, Dallas, Austin etc., which serve as daily /weekly commuter flights for many Texans. The flight attendants some times let loose on longer legs too. About five years ago, on my way from Los Angeles to Houston on a Soutwest flight, we were treated to an unusual safety announcement. I don't exactly remember everything that was said. I will try and recollect some of it as best as I can.
Welcome to Southwest Flight # *** from Los Angeles to Houston. My name is *** and I will be your flight attendant and cheerleader on this flight. Our flight time is estimated to be 3 hours and 15 minutes. The weather in Houston is currently clear skies and 86 degrees.
Please keep your seat belts on during take-off, landing and when the Captain turns the seat belt light on. Seat belts should be worn tight and low around your waist like J-Lo wears her pants. (Jennifer Lopez was hot property five years ago)
This is a non-whining, non-complaining, non-smoking flight. FDA regulations prohibit smoking on all flights. Bathrooms on this plane are equipped with smoke detectors and video cameras. Tampering with the smoke detectors may result in a fine of up to $ xxx. If you think you can not put up with the no-smoking regulations, there are four exits on this plane.
In case of emergency landing or evacuation over water, your seat cushions can be used as flotation devices; in the event of a water landing please use them to stay afloat and then kick-paddle, kick-paddle to the nearest shore. A Southwest attendant will follow closely with complimentary peanuts and soft drinks.
Should the cabin lose pressure during flight, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please pull the mask over your own face and breathe normally before assisting children and husband with theirs.
There was more. Some readers may be very familiar with the shtik. I have just heard it once although I have flown Southwest quite a few times. During the above mentioned L.A - Houston flight, a Chinese gentleman with limited command of English, complained that he had not understood anything that the flight attendant had announced and also he couldn't properly hear her words because the other passengers were laughing. He was given a set of written safety instructions with diagrams.
(Note: you can probably tell that as far as substantive blogging goes, I am running on empty these days)
Could it be that mullahs and other fundamentalist religious leaders know more about meteorology and geology than we suspect? Earlier this year Pat Robertson blamed the Haitian temblor on voodoo and a pact with the devil. An Iranian mullah recently blamed scantily dressed women for earthquakes.
A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.
Iran is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric's unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.
"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media.
A group of women, led by a graduate student in Purdue University decided to put the Iranian cleric's theory to test by organizing a "Boobquake" on Facebook. Then, see what happened!
In light of Arizona's recent enactment of a new immigration law, 3 Quarks Daily author Justin Smith explains on his own blog why the presence of undocumented Hispanic populations in southwestern US states is not quite the same as Polish or Russian nationals overstaying their visits to New York or Chicago.
For a classic example of misplaced journalistic balance, read this New York Times article on the immigration 'debate' in Arizona. See how level-headed and concerned the supporters of the bill are! They don't hate Mexicans, see, it's just that they don't want them to be there illegally.
The problem with this is that the American West was only able to appear as Anglo territory, for a spell, as a result of a relatively recent (late 19th century) and concerted campaign of ethnic cleansing. It is astounding to me that people have to be reminded of the historical fact that in order for the American West to become white, other people had to be displaced. To the extent that Americans recognize this at all, they tend to remember the displacement as targeting Native Americans, in contrast with 'Hispanics'. But what this distinction misses is that the population of Mexico is somewhere between 60 and 80% Mestizo, and that for them the line drawn by the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 reflects no natural or deep-seated historical boundary.
A couple of days ago, I suggested to my co-authors that one of us should try and weave a story out of three different news items which to me seemed vaguely connected (here, here and here). No one offered to try. But the same challenge on my Facebook page produced a taker. Norman Costa, another 3 Quarks Daily author cobbled together a three part story. You see, just substituting the word Martian in relevant places in the original stories tied things together and produced a fair parody of the nationalistic xenophobia that is sweeping some parts of America. See Dr. Costa's piece below the fold. But before that, here is a clip from Jon Stewart's Daily Show.
Glad to be back home after an enjoyable but hectic two weeks in New Delhi. The occasion for the winter travel was a family wedding. Most of the time was spent in attending to that - dressing up, eating and meeting with relatives some of whom I hadn't seen in years. On the return journey, I discovered to my relief that the security checks at airports, despite the Christmas Day scare created by the undie bomber, weren't especially draconian. Or perhaps because we were traveling as a family (my daughter, son and I), we did not come under special scrutiny. Whatever. On the other hand, former New York City mayor Ed Koch warns us that we ought to be really worried and not let our guard down because hundreds of millions of Muslims are terrorist killers.
Despite the hustle and bustle of the wedding activities in New Delhi, I was able to make a short side trip to the lovely old city of Amritsar, the home of the fabled Golden Temple, the most revered site of worship of the Sikhs. Amritsar lies on the western edge of the Indian state of Punjab, close to Lahore, an ancient city on the Pakistani side of divided Punjab. Between the two historic places lies the village of Attari through which runs the India-Pakistan border. Of the sixteen or so check points that dot the long border, the one located here, known as the Wagah-Attari Check Post, also contains the only official trade and traffic route on land between the two countries. In 1993 when the road opened for the first time since the partition of British India in 1947, the governments of India and Pakistan created a tourist spot at the border crossing with stadium style seating on both sides and the daily flag lowering ceremony at the gates turned into a spectator drama. This was my second trip to Amritsar. The first was in 1972 when the Wagah border was not a significant place to visit. This year however, we made it a point to go and witness the highly choreographed ritual. The Indian side of the border was chock-full of visitors whose voices drowned out the relatively sparse crowd on the Pakistani side which may have been the result of this threat just a few days prior to our visit. The ceremony was great fun - much rooster like strutting by the border security guards on each side, accompanied by singing, dancing and loud and friendly jingoism. Although my son took numerous photos which I have permission to post, I am including instead a You Tube video here because still pictures do not do justice to the circus like atmosphere prevailing at the event.
"What we’re focused on was making sure that the air environment remains
safe, people are confident when they travel, and one think I’d to point
out is … is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role
here … the passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action
within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring all
128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures
in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight." (italics mine)
Obama, on Dec 29:
“A systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally
unacceptable,” Mr. Obama said. He said he had ordered government
agencies to give him a preliminary report on Thursday about what
happened and added that he would “insist on accountability at every
level,” although he did not elaborate." (italics mine)
There were any number of points during the whole lead-up to the bombing attempt where red flags should have gone up and stayed up, but that didn't happen. How in the world does the CIA get tip-offs from the fathers of would-be extremists and not pass on the information to other branches? How do people whose visas were revoked by Britain continue to waltz around with unrevoked US visas, considering the so-called intelligence sharing that exists between those two nations? Does all this information reside in disparate databases, with no 'Database to rule them all' to make the connection at Langley VA?
Whatever the case, the best way to describe it is to indeed say that it was a systemic failure. Reviews will be made, hopefully heads will roll and a careful reassessment and calibration of threats to safety and how to deal with those threats is getting along post-haste.
The once great hopes that 'puffer machines' could easily detect explosives have been misplaced. They are now in the process of retiring those devices which kept breaking down more often than not, unsuitable for the rigors of a modern airport environment. One supposes that it would be of paramount interest to Al-Qaeda trainers and handlers, who might think the time was ripe for setting off an influx of undie-bombed acolytes on the aircraft bound for the US.
We need replacements for those machines, whether it be hand-held replacements like these (no doubt all sold out and shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan). The intrusive backscattering types of body scanners have generated much controversy, but combinations of simpler and less intrusive methods could also work reliably.
"The American Civil Liberties Union has opposed the imaging machines, arguing that the body images they produce are too revealing. And some members of Congress have supported legislation that would limit their use, allowing passengers to opt out and submit to a pat-down search instead.
In an effort to increase privacy, the TSA screeners who read the images are placed in a separate room so they are not able to see the passenger who is being shown on the imaging screen.
Travelers at DFW Airport were divided.
"It's not like you're taking a picture and posting it on the Internet or selling it in a magazine," said Paul LeBon. "It's just a scan that lasts for 10 seconds.
"I am going to take issue with people being able to look at my children's bodies and my body," said Tamara Haddox, another traveler.
The TSA currently has 150 additional body imaging devices machines on order. But that's not nearly enough to cover all of the nation's airports."
Either that, or we are all forced to fly naked, shoeless and luggageless, just to thwart the shoe-bombers, undie-bombers, toupee-bombers, belt-bombers, tampon-bombers .....
Via Brian Leiter's blog I found this hilarious assessment of Cornel West, the man and the memoir, by Scott McLemee. Whatever your opinion of West - good, bad or none, the review is recommended reading. Rarely have I come across a lacerating piece such as this one, which on balance comes across as neither harsh nor self serving. Take this gem for example:
As mentioned, his romantic life sounds complicated. Brother West is a reminder of Samuel Johnson’s description of remarriage as the triumph of hope over experience. One paragraph of musings following his third divorce obliged me to put the book down and think about things for a long while. Here it is:
“The basic problem with my love relationships with women is that my standards are so high -- and they apply equally to both of us. I seek full-blast mutual intensity, fully fledged mutual acceptance, full-blown mutual flourishing, and fully felt peace and joy with each other. This requires a level of physical attraction, personal adoration, and moral admiration that is hard to find. And it shares a depth of trust and openness for a genuine soul-sharing with a mutual respect for a calling to each other and to others. Does such a woman exist for me? Only God knows and I eagerly await this divine unfolding. Like Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship in Emily Bronte’s remarkable novel Wuthering Heights or Franz Schubert’s tempestuous piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat (D.960) I will not let life or death stand in the way of this sublime and funky love that I crave!”
No doubt this is meant to be inspirational. It is at any rate exemplary. Rendered more or less speechless, I pointed the passage out to my wife.
She looked it over and said, “Any woman who reads this needs to run in the opposite direction when she sees him coming.”
Returning to the book, I found, just a few pages later, that West was getting divorced for a fourth time. Seldom does reader response yield results that prove so empirically verifiable.
Here are the suggestions of Sujatha, the humble not-so-uber-geeky blogger, on C&Ping from webpages when composing blog posts:
1. Focus on Tested Websites, not obscurities. (Psalm 345:1-3)
Notice how Sujatha extols Google first. Then, in comparison to Google, she has no need of alternate search engines.
"The Google is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?"
"The Google is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
Undoubtedly one of the greatest hurdles to overcome in blogging is fear, the fear of PC Viruses, Trojans and Malware.
Sujatha did not let fear take the blog out of her life. Blogger Ruchira shares the story of a person who had a very bad day.
"Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses — the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it's your reputation that's stolen."
It began when Mike was suspected based on his internet charges by his employers of excessive internet usage. An investigation turned up pornographic pictures on his computer, which cost him his job and thousands of dollars in money spent to clear himself of the charges, which were found to have been the result of PC viruses downloading porn on his computer when he wasn't even at work.
Have you ever felt like that? One minute you’re whistling through life, blogging away happily and the next you’re caught up in a whirlwind of stress, as unwanted ads pop up on your blog's webpage. Life sucks you up into its vortex and just when you think you’ve recovered from one trouble another wind of adversity blows in your direction.
Don’t be like Mike. Don’t let the blog go out of your life.
But how is this possible? It becomes possible when we focus on who the Devil WebAdsman is. In the case of Ruchira and her blog, it was the material cut and pasted from the Smithsonian website, that had the horrendous hidden code, which showed up C&Ping to Notepad. It quoth "Read more:http://smithsonian.blah.blah.blah.com" and stealthily, like the verily serpent that is Satan, downloaded Ads for cars and other monuments to human greed to tempt us faithful bloggers from the path of righteousness.
He is our light. He is our salvation. We are no longer living in the darkness of sin. We will diligently check for hidden code when we cut and paste from internet sources. No enemy can take the Internet’s salvation from us! No enemy can impose Satanic Ads on our blog posts!