Talking points 16 July

Will – nice one and thankyou to Bob and Jonathan too for making me smile about the BBC and the language we use.All fair points. And Jonathan, one day you’ll “call” a WHYS – it just takes practice !
here’s how it’ll work today…

Ros will be in Johannesburg and present from there but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be a programme “about” South Africa – the big one will be from Robben Island on Friday.

He says a big issue there is “Americanisation” – particularly in films and music. Do you think American culture enriches your own or is it something that prevents the development of your own ?
So you had a good chat about internet security last night, and i see that Guantanamo came up too.  If you’ve watched the film what did you think ? and i wonder about the public reaction in Canada (Will, where are you ?). Here’s what columnist Mindelle Jacobs made of it…

The deck was stacked against Khadr right from the beginning. What chance did he have of growing up normal when his parents despised the West (although quite content to have Canadian citizenship)?

If Khadr’s a killer, he must be held accountable. But bring him home. There has been enough tragedy all around. “

My colleagues on the BBC’s Asian Network used their man phone in slot yesterday to talk about relations between India and Pakistan and whether they are improving. The peg was the simultaneous release – i.e in both Pakistan and India- of a film called “Ramchand Pakistani” , which is set on the border between the two.

Here’s what their listeners had to say :

Indians can never b friends with pakistanis, we indians respect all religions, pakistani want 2 impose their religion 2 everybody that is where the tenson comes in, we can never trust any pakistani or muslims they will always b enemies. Pakistani myself and have many Indian friends – both Hindu and Muslim. We watch Indian and Pakistan cricket together, and are equally proud and critical of our respective countries too. Indian and pakistani will never get alone because when it comes to marridge then its one way only and that is you become a muslim either you are a boy or a girl and there is no compromise. I have never felt or noticed any tension between me and my Indian friends. As for the relationship/izzat fear:  that is utter rubbish in my opinion as it doesn’t stop people from dating anyone! The Backward Mentality sucks!. Im a sikh mum off 2 boys. I wouldnt like them to go with a muslim girl. My father always told us we could marry anyone but not a muslim. My son is 7, aft er 911 + 77 he says he doesnt trust muslims. “

and here’s an article i just liked. have we reached the tipping point for tipping points ?




149 Responses to “Talking points 16 July”

  1. 1 Julie P
    July 15, 2008 at 19:30

    My, what a lovely couple. I hope they get as much time as the law will allow. I do not care what their pedigree is, they deserve to go to prison for a long, long time.


  2. July 15, 2008 at 19:30


    Bush lifts offshore drilling ban on the OCS, perhaps?

    I love how that idiot demonizes the democrats in this. Yet he has the nerve to speak of ‘common sense’.

    Edit: OCS = Outer Continental Shelf

  3. 3 steve
    July 15, 2008 at 19:33

    @ Julie P

    That story does nothing to change my view of Philadelphia and the amoral people who live there, especially the ones that go to Penn. My opinion couldn’t be lower of Philadelhia and the amoral people that live there. This story doesn’t shock me at all.

  4. 4 Dennis
    July 15, 2008 at 19:34

    Hi Will…Welcome to the moderators table…

    Dennis~Syracuse, New York

  5. 5 portlandmike
    July 15, 2008 at 19:51

    @ Steve,

    It takes a mental stretch to read this sordid crime story as a story about Philadelphia, or the university?

  6. 6 Shirley
    July 15, 2008 at 19:55

    Brett, what is the OCS? And do you think that the Democratcs will hold off on undoing the ban? Or will they cave to the pressure from large campaign financiers?

  7. 7 steve
    July 15, 2008 at 19:56

    @ portlandmike

    Doesn’t shock me that the people went to school in Philly though. I’ve known plenty of people from Philly, especially people who went to Penn. Nastiest people I have ever met in my life.

  8. 8 Will Rhodes
    July 15, 2008 at 20:06

    Good evening everyone.

    Sorry for my delay in getting here I was on the phone with my son in England – it’s his birthday today.

    Yesterday, before the 702 show, I spoke to my granddaughter for the first time, she’s just over 2. Her sister was born just the other day.

    What this brings me on to is this:

    I have been living in Canada for quite a while now, and all my family, siblings etc – are all in the UK.

    With technology as it is, and with many governments (western) saying they are going to keep records of all phone calls made, internet traffic, web sites viewed – is this right?

    Do governments have any right at all to spy on law abiding citizens “Just in case”?

  9. 9 steve
    July 15, 2008 at 20:16

    @ Will

    But if the government knowing your internet habits, and everyone else’s stops one pedophile from looking at a drawing, won’t it be worth it?

    Who was it who said if you give up liberty for security that you deserve neither?

  10. 10 Will Rhodes
    July 15, 2008 at 20:19

    Steve – Benjamin Franklin said that – and I fully agree with him.

    But, I was hoping that people, this community, would say where they would draw the line. I will express my opinion later if this discussion takes off.

  11. July 15, 2008 at 20:19

    Shirley, OCS = Outer Continental Shelf, and I hope the democrats won’t cave, despite the counterproductive finger pointing that Bush loves to engage in against the evil-stand in his way-Democrats

  12. 12 steve
    July 15, 2008 at 20:25

    @ Will

    Franklin lived in a different time. I doubt he could imagine that you could mix liquids together and bring a flying machine down. Times have changed. It’s much easier to kill people today than it was in the 1780s. Even with a gun, a longarm was incredibly large, was most likely smoothbored, so it wasn’t accurate, and took forever to load. Now we have thermonuclear weapons. The world has changed.

  13. 13 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 15, 2008 at 20:38


    I agree with Steve (for the first time, I think… right Steve?) Sadly, the world has changed a lot and there are people thinking and doing very creative bad deeds with the technology at hand.

    For instance, I will support the government monitoring Internet traffic and websites viewed, especially if they are looking for child pornography sites and their users. I think in this particular issue we have to turn an blind eye in the right to privacy. Regretfully, many consumers of child pornography appear to be law-abiding citizens.

    However, I think there is a line that needs to be drawn regarding government monitoring. For example, listen to calls without a warrant: NO.

  14. 14 Will Rhodes
    July 15, 2008 at 20:46

    Luz Ma – How can you turn a blind eye to privacy? That, to me, is saying that everyone is guilty of something and by way of snooping you are allowing the government to monitor what you do all the time.

    That is the beginnings of the definition of an authoritative State.

  15. 15 steve
    July 15, 2008 at 20:47

    re: child pornography

    Wouldn’t it be better for society if pedophiles looked at child porn rather than molest little kids? Maybe the porn is how they restrain themselves? What would be the consequences if government successfully elmininated all child pornography? The pedophiles will still be out there.

  16. 16 steve
    July 15, 2008 at 20:48

    @ Will

    Everyone is guilty of something. Are you telling me that no laws are being broken in your place? You have only legal downloads on your computer? You’ve never illegally dubbed a VHS tape or a DVD that you rented from Blockbuster?

  17. 17 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 15, 2008 at 20:54

    I said that in the particular case of child pornography. If they monitor internet traffic and websites viewed to catch pedophiles and those who exploit children to make pornography, it is all right for me.

    I have met children rescued from child pornography rings. You cannot believe the kind of damage that they have suffered. One of the worst that I have seen. Sorry, but I am bias in this one.

  18. 18 Will Rhodes
    July 15, 2008 at 20:56

    Steve – because, allegedly, everyone is guilty of something that then gives an elected government the right to snoop on all of us? Nothing at all related to the fact that they are looking for suspected terrorists/organised crime?

    We should all then just submit to civil liberties being eroded on the whim of a civil servant?

    We must give up personal freedom because there are a few scoundrels out there?

    Interesting that you, of all people, would imply such a thing.

  19. 19 steve
    July 15, 2008 at 20:57

    @ will

    authorative state? So we shouldn’t have police departments? I mean, they can lock you up without even having had a trial! You lose freedoms all the time in the name of security. Think anyone handcuffed in the back seat of a cop car has been convicted after a jury trial? Nope, that person has to wait a while for a trial, yet still have lost their freedom despite the “innocent until proven guilty” thing. now we’ve got speed cameras, red light cameras, etc. But maybe they save lives? Maybe we don’t want people who have allegedly committed crimes being on the street, so we take them off the street? That’s pretty authoritarian of the state though, don’t you think? The opposite of “athoritarian” would be anarchy. So we’re going to need at least some athoritiarian aspects if we want to be safe.

  20. 20 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 15, 2008 at 21:00


    Do you know how child pornography is made? It is a form of abuse and explotation. Usually those children were kidnapped or sold by their crappy parents to the child pornographer which also sexually abuse them.

    It is rarely the “candid and inocent pic taken from the parent that someone else took without consent and put in a child pornography website”

  21. 21 Will Rhodes
    July 15, 2008 at 21:00

    Luz Ma – no apology needed.

    But in that case you speak about – wasn’t the surveillance legally brought about? With the powers that be seeking to get leave for this surveillance?

    My point isn’t about legal snooping – it is about carte blanc snooping no matter what anyone is doing.

    Everything collected on a central database – just in case.

  22. 22 steve
    July 15, 2008 at 21:00

    @ will

    if you’ve got nothing to hide……… the thing is that people do have something to hide, but claim they don’t. I know people who oppose there being security at airports. Do they want to die and everyone else on the flights die as well?

  23. 23 Will Rhodes
    July 15, 2008 at 21:03

    Steve – the police have certain procedures they have to follow to keep them in check, as you know.

    The opposite to authoritarian is liberal, not anarchy.

  24. 24 Dennis
    July 15, 2008 at 21:05

    @ Will

    Wish your happy birthday to your son in
    the United Kingdom….

    Dennis~Syracuse, New York [USA]

  25. 25 Will Rhodes
    July 15, 2008 at 21:05

    Steve – the ‘If you have nothing to hide…you have nothing to worry about’ argument is used by those who want to control society.

    As those who are in a dictatorship don’t want to be dictated to – neither do I and I want that freedom for all people, not just my self.

  26. 26 Will Rhodes
    July 15, 2008 at 21:07

    Dennis – Thank you.

  27. 27 Shirley
    July 15, 2008 at 21:10

    With all of the talk of illegal immigration going round, something that Pangolin said caught my attention: Offer enough pay and somebody will wash the dishes. When American citizens and legal residents don’t want to work for impossibly low wages that could not even hope to pay for essentials such as housing, food, etc., corporations uproot their factories and take them to places where people can be made to work for slave wages. And businesses welcome unpapered labourers who can either workd for slave wages or return to their homes, any other option not being available to them.

    on terrorism: The ‘terrorist’ label is a tag used by governments to prevent their citizens from looking carefully at the claims of their enemies and to hold off a negotiated peace. It ’s a sucker move to get internal populations to accept police states. Pangolin’s argument behind this was that regardless of whether a government or a government-less entity detonate a bomb, civilians die. The lable “terrorists” is arbitrarily used when peoples not connected to a recognised government use force or violence to accomplish their ends, but not when governments do the same. What confused me was the use of the word “internal.” Pangolin, were you referring to things like the propaganda machine that sold the Iraq war on people like my poor misinformed family?

    Well, Jonathan, thank you for supporting me in the game-playing venture. I think. I know that it is normally possible to watch PBS videos online. However, I use a dinosaur at home and need to concede the library’s modern computers to Myspacing teenagers after half an hour. I didn’t see any explanations about why UN officials were slow to act on the genocide in Darfur. The only mention offered in explanation was something similar to what we heard in the Myanmar situation: action might degrade the peace process. I simply do not buy that kind of rasoning. I am glad to see, though, that they do respond to criticisms from tireless activists. If you remember any references to riots and checks/balances, they came from the fact that activists had to take repetitive and sometimes massive actions to get any action from the UN. I still see China and Russia as two of the biggest reasons that hardly anything gets done in Africa by the UN. Yes, the higher eschalons of beurocracy are too slow to act. It’s one of the sickening traits of governments. Of course, any ideas on how to increase UN accountability and transparency would be welcome.

  28. 28 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 15, 2008 at 21:12

    Well, collecting everything on a central database is a great waste of resources and money. In that case, I think is foolish, because its like looking for needles in a haystack

    I have a question relating to this issue:
    What do you think of CCTV cameras in public places -like the metro, streets and buildings- for governmental surveillance?
    I am asking you this because my husband works in a local governmental agency that is in charge of surveillance to tackle crime. In fact, he is in charge of pinpointing where the cameras should be put, from a criminalistic perspective. I think it was a big issue in the UK. “Big brother watching over you” or something like that. Am I right?

  29. 29 JD
    July 15, 2008 at 21:15

    is this only a long chat ? this isnt atractive for debate volunteers …

  30. 30 Mohammed Ali
    July 15, 2008 at 21:29

    @all, to give government the exclusive right to spy on her citizens all in the name of looking for pedophiles, terrorists, pornography websites,etc. is an affront to the of the citizens to have privacy.

  31. 31 Shirley
    July 15, 2008 at 21:35

    raise your hand if you’re a pirate :=)
    I saw a documentary that informed its viewing audience that the same industry that sells pirated movies and music also trades illegal weapons and sex slaves. I guess I need to find some other outlet for my rebellious whims.

    Anytime I think about authoritarian states whose governments know my every move, I feel as if some cold electricity is buzzing between my ears. It’s a primal fear response for me. The next step would be fainting. I say primal fear because warm electric buzzing between the ears means that I am higher than the second rung of a ladder or the third floor of a building. I just have that kind of response when I experience that kind of deep-seated fear. Was anyone here alive during the McCarthy era? Not surprisingly, those of my relatives who were also love the guy.

  32. 32 Mohammed Ali
    July 15, 2008 at 21:36

    @all, i’m finding it difficult to blog via my mobile phone today. I’m in a remove village and the mobile phone is the only means through which i can blog at night. The site is just not mobile friendly today. I don’t know where the problem is from. Well this is africa, where everything is backward.

  33. 33 Sheikh Kafumba
    July 15, 2008 at 21:37

    Our society/family is disintegrating and children are turning in hooligans and miscreants. We need to exert control over what technology provides for our children. Crime, violence and terrorism escalating; technology is the advancement in science to enhance our lives but i think technology is being abused. If tapping our lines, monitoring our systems will help in reducing these vices, fine.

  34. 34 Sheikh Kafumba
    July 15, 2008 at 22:10

    Telephone companies print our bills and info on all our call logs on a spreadsheet. Isn’t this a breach of privacy too? In this global of suspicion, there is no such thing as absolute privacy.

  35. 35 Mohammed Ali
    July 15, 2008 at 22:31

    @Sheikh, there is no absolute privacy. That does not mean that the right to privacy should be absolutely eroded.

  36. 36 Julie P
    July 15, 2008 at 23:24

    Minor rant…I don’t remember what the exact percentage of the eligible voters are who actually go and vote, but I know it’s low and today proved it. Okay, it’s just low life, scum of the earth state primary where there is a long list of candidates from all walks of life, and all parties (yes, we more than two!) to choose from. And, if you lowered your standards by doing a little research on them, we may actually have decent candidates for the general election in November to vote into office. (This primary does choose some national candidates, like congress people, and senators, another reason to vote.) To the 260 people who voted today in my precinct – thank you. As for the rest of you – thanks for nothing! Rant over.

  37. 37 Dan
    July 16, 2008 at 00:29

    To all
    Good God I cannot believe what I am reading.
    If you open the door to allow Gov’t to spy on you because you want to eliminate pedophiles, no matter how worthwhile that is, when does it stop? The Gov’t will become increasingly powerful and increasingly paranoid. How many more times must we repeat history?

    First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.

    ……Pastor Martin Niemöller

    Need I say more?

  38. 38 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 00:32

    My comments on the privacy debates: Freedom( interprete as Privacy) with out responsibility is the worst form of bondage.

  39. 39 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 00:42

    Privacy~ If your hands are clean and you have no skeletons in your closet, why should you be bothered about whose monitoring you. Besides, no matter how we complain and debate about this privacy laws or whatever, Our various governments will always snoop on us through legal or illegal means. I once heard of a woman in canada or is it the US who said my son is the “bomb”. Intelligence Agents followed around for weeks, read her email before she did, taped her phone conversation for months until they finally realised their folly and found out she was just a plain nice wife and mum. Imagine millions who are being tracked with them having a clue. When ever I am in the US ,UK or any of these spy goverments, I avoid using certain words over the phone or email. I don’t want escorts from the CIA or MI5 following me around.

  40. 40 Julie P
    July 16, 2008 at 00:59


    I have a friend in London who I exchange e-mails with. We often talk about politics. In one e-mail I wanted to write about how I was amazed a certain political leader hadn’t met a certain fate. I refrained then, as I am now, to say what I wanted until we met on my trip there this May. I refrained for the plain and simple reason that after a 13 year old girl mused the same thing about that shrub in her blog. She was met by Federal officers at her home. Incredible.

  41. July 16, 2008 at 00:59

    Whether allow it or not, technology will allow govts to have access to your personal data either through your mails or from institutions you tended them to.

  42. 42 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 01:17

    @ Julie P. I am so glad you can lend credence to what I just said. That was a very wise decision. Just avoid certain key words in your conversation. And you will not have the honour of unwanted “escorts ” from the any security agency following you around or coming to pay you visit.

  43. 43 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 01:22

    @ Sheik, I totally agree with you. Either way they will always get what ever information they have a mighty arsenal of technological manpower and equipment at their disposal. I believe most of us here have watched the TV series “24”. They same way they snooped on people there, its just the same in real life. One wrong word. You got company.* Free speech and privacy*

  44. 44 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 01:43

    @ Will. In response to your earlier question whether governments should spy on law abiding citizens just in case, we all know thats morally wrong. but since the “phatom” war on terrorism began, morals have being thrown out of the window while privacy and human rights have taken the back seat.(that is if they are still there any way). There has to be a fine line between credible, objective intelligence gathering and spying on law abiding citizen. But we know Big Brother is always watching.

  45. 45 Julie P
    July 16, 2008 at 01:44


    If I don’t blog for a couple of days you’ll know why! 😉

  46. 46 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 01:45

    Then my blog must be on some list somewhere, Nelson – but what you and Julie have said goes to prove that what I say is correct.

    I am voicing my opinion – if you are not allowed to do that – that is totalitarianism. We live in democracies and in so much our rights should be protected, not erased!

    A couple of those rights is that we have privacy and free speech!

  47. July 16, 2008 at 01:51

    @ Will,
    Before the advent the internet and the email, people under totalitarian regimes were heavily under surveillance. They couldn’t think freely. They could say what they thought, including a political joke, only to most trusted friends. After the unification of Germany, it was found out that many married people in former East Germany spied on each other, especially wives spying on the activities of their husbands.

    Today with the new technology, especially the internet and CCTV cameras, everyone is likely to be under surveillance. And who knows if our cell phones and computers will one day have secret transmitters that can say everything about our moves.

  48. 48 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 01:53

    Nelson –

    There has to be a fine line between credible, objective intelligence gathering and spying on law abiding citizen. But we know Big Brother is always watching.

    The world got along fine pre 9/11 – if that date was the real time when all this nonsense started. The war on terror is about as real as the war on drugs.

    What, in my opinion, governments are afraid of – if they were honest – is this thing we use everyday, the internet.

    All you have to do is look at what is driving the crack down on this technology, private business and so called copyright infringement. It has nothing to do with catching terrorists or “Mr Big” – terrorists and organised crime have far better ways of getting past governmental influence than open e-mails and websites that advertise “LOOK AT ME”.

    What this is all about is government fear that people can use a medium that, up until now, they have no real control over.

  49. 49 Julie P
    July 16, 2008 at 01:55


    I found this online. I saw it on CNN, so this commentary about this is true. Make what you want about the verbiage on the story, but it indeed happened.


  50. 50 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 01:55

    Abdelilah – I agree with you 100%!

  51. 51 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 01:58

    @ Julie P & Will. I think I will share that honour of being listed somewhere with you. I was taking a look at some figures from “reporters with out borders”, you will be amazed at number of journalists that are being silenced world wide. In some countries, even blogging about privacy and free speech could earn you a ” dissident tag” and a decent jail term. Everyone has a voice, and they have an inalienable right to be heard and to live in the sanctuary of privacy.

  52. 52 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 02:09

    @ Abdelliah. Believe me if you stood outside your house and “Big Brother ” wanted to read the time off your watch he could. These things are no longer futuristic. They are now a reality. @ Julie P. I read the link you posted. That proves that we are not paranoid. “Big Brother” is indeed watching. He didn’t even miss a 14 year old girl. Impeccable precision.

  53. 53 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 02:15

    Abdelilah –

    After the unification of Germany, it was found out that many married people spied on each other, especially wives spying on the activities of their husbands.

    To expand on that point; the use of surveillance devices is also strongly used in the US, and indeed the UK now. This only emphasises that it is OK to do such a thing. What I am surprised at is that no one that I know of has taken out a class action law suit against the ex-wife/husband.

    The argument is, as always, if they were not doing something wrong they had nothing to fear. But, as we see – Newspapers and all other forms of media are using such surveillance and it is just accepted. To me, it’s wrong without the proper authorisation in a court of law. That way it is documented properly and we can be sure, as much as we can be, that it must be use for the right reasons.

    I would draw your attention to the RIPA laws used in the UK today.

  54. 54 Julie P
    July 16, 2008 at 02:16

    @Will and Nelsoni,

    So far my blog is pretty tame. I spent a lot of time venting about my positions on that person long before I started mine that I’m not sure I can vent anymore. Is it November yet?

    Although several years ago I was with a girlfriend at press conference after a clinic massacre who stated to the press that women should defend themselves by any means necessary. We both visited by some low level officers. They were easy to run off though. It kind of freaked us though.

  55. 55 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 02:29

    Send the link so we can read it, Julie.

  56. 56 Julie P
    July 16, 2008 at 02:35


    That was late 1994 or early 1995 I’m not sure that I can find it. I’ll try. If I can’t find it tonight at some point in the future I’ll leave it on your blog. I haven’t talked with the woman I was with since 1998, I’m not even sure I can find her. The other people I ran with at the time have vanished into the woodwork. It got really crazy back then. About a year ago I went looking for them. I turned up nothing.

  57. 57 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 02:38

    @ The problem with governments accessing every communication you make is that they lie, they overreach their authority and they engage in self-profiting corruption.

    That means that critical business data is sent in secured, encrypted hard drives by courier for the companies that can afford it and the companies that can’t afford it are subject to nasties like stock price manipulation and bid manipulation by insider information being available to government agents.

    These agents in turn have the ability to manipulate markets to their benefit at the expense of everybody else. Prices for goods and services inexplicably rise and businesses that were functional are suddenly outbid and nobody has a reason why these things happen.

    If this sounds familiar it’s because factions within the US government have been doing this since about day one of the creation of the internet. Remember ARPAnet, the internets root structure, was a US defense system program.

    The people who claim to be attacking child pornography don’t give a crap about the child sex trade as a few miles south of the US border in Tijuana it thrives. Of course the anti-poverty and police forces are desperately underfunded and cannot hope but to nibble away at the egdes of the territory of the gangs and cartels.

    Pretty much everywhere families are impoverished to the point of starvation and homelessness there is a child sex trade. This stain is going to grow as economic disruption spreads rather than shrink. And what is the source of economic disruption hmm? It looks like the US.

  58. 58 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 02:42

    @ I’m actually listening to NPR right now playing tapes of the US government torturing a child. They’re calling it ‘harsh questioning’ but this teen was deliberatly subjected to tactics of psychological destruction and is held to this day at Guantanimo.

    There are many claims that children of both sexes were tortured and raped in Iraq by US interrogators in an effort to force confessions by their parents.

    I’m so ashamed of the US there aren’t words.

  59. 59 Julie P
    July 16, 2008 at 02:48


    I submitted something to you through your blog.

  60. 60 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 02:49

    @ Nelsoni- Big brother can count the change in your pocket and scan your credit cards from one of the really pricey drones if they choose. You don’t have a chip in your body but unless you are standing there stark naked you’ve been chipped and are readable at a distance.

    These toys are expensive and hard to maintain but they do exist.

  61. 61 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 02:56

    Got it, Julie! 😀

    I will read it. 😉

  62. 62 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 03:14

    So, Steve, how do you REALLY feel about Philadelphians? Underneath the polite veil of your propriety, I mean, like we were just out having a beer.

    I was keeping a mental list of the very many kinds of people for whom you’ve announced your scorn and disapproval and distaste, but I ran out of mental paper for it.

  63. 63 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 03:16


    In a break with past Bush administration policy, a top U.S. diplomat will for the first time join colleagues from other world powers at a meeting with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, The Associated Press has learned.

    William Burns, America’s third highest-ranking diplomat, will attend talks with the Iranian envoy, Saeed Jalili, in Switzerland on Saturday aimed at persuading Iran to halt activities that could lead to the development of atomic weapons, a senior U.S. official told the AP on Tuesday.

    US and Iran to meet without preconditions!?

    Where does that leave John McCain now?

  64. 64 Julie P
    July 16, 2008 at 03:17

    Good, Will.

    Nighty! Night!

  65. July 16, 2008 at 03:42

    Who was it who said if you give up liberty for security that you deserve neither?

    Mos Def – What’s Beef

  66. 66 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 03:46

    G’day all!

    As usual most of you are just going to bed as I get online!

    One thought on the privacy debate that I haven’t seen so far is one of the few bits of Latin that I know: “Qui custodiet ipsos custodes?”. Who watches the watchers?

    I’m afraid the thought of so-called “authorities” having unfettered access to all communication in the world fills me with dread. How many corrupt politicians/police officers/civil servants–or even priests–are there in the world? Far to many for me to want to trust them.

    Sorry, but I think the potential security gains are too small and the risk of abuse too high for me to support this kind of initiative. Most countries keep the judiciary separate from politicians and law enforcement agencies for a good reason and I think this reason still exists today. There must be the continuing check and balance of needing a judge’s authority before intercepting messages FOR A REASON. Just trawling everything in case they find something is wrong.

  67. 67 Roberto
    July 16, 2008 at 03:49

    @ I’m actually listening to NPR right now playing tapes of the US government torturing a child. They’re calling it ‘harsh questioning’ but this teen was deliberatly subjected to tactics of psychological destruction and is held to this day at Guantanimo.

    ——- If you consider this torture, then I’m knocking 50% off my 2 fer 1 Brooklyn and London Bridge offer and insist you buy it. It’s actually a good deal.


    The link takes you to the background story and the actual utube video.

    Poor boy was tossed by his dear old now dead daddy into the meatgrinder and ends up at Gitmo where he recieves good meals and medical care and roof over his noggin. Sure beats Auschwitz, Phillipine death marches and sex slavery.

    Have no idea IF he was really tortured but there is little in the tape to suggest anything but basic questioning of a boy who is broken down by circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

    I seriously doubt that you would wish to sponsor him, adopt him, and assume responsibility for his upbringing even if it were allowed. War ain’t purty, and sure ain’t politically correct although a segment of so called civilized world is trying to make it so. If the kid can be shaken loose of some info, it’s essential we get to the bottom of it.

    I’d prefer Barney the dino to do the interrogation, but I understand Barney is considered a form of torture by many if not most though he has a substantial kiddy following.

    I certainly would wish the US government had conducted itself with more honor at the highest echelons of command when it counted, but I was outvoted and they didn’t. Now all the scavengers are coming down from the hills with the latest government conspiracy and torture claims in the new fools gold rush of publications, criminal dismissals and pardons.

    All I can do is what the kid did, bury my face into my hands and cry, get up the next day and carry on, hoping I can endure the next onslaught of outrages, slings, and arrows of misfortune.

  68. 68 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 03:50

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Bob – and good morning to you!

    Those who do agree with these idiots having unfettered access must be mad!

  69. 69 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 03:51

    @ Ros/Mark/Chloe

    Knowing Ros is in SA, may I suggest an appropriate topic? A few days back, we had a brief discussion about ANC control at SABC. This caused me to remember the euphoria and optimism I encountered when I visited Joburg in 1994 for the election…and then contrast it with the harsh realities being encountered today.

    So, if it’s not too close to things you’ve already done, how about “South Africa: The Dream of 1994 vs, the reality of 2008”.

    I’m sure you could write it better…you’re the journalists and I’m the techie…but I’d be interested in hearing what people, especially South Africans, think about how their “rainbow nation” has developed.

  70. 70 Julie P
    July 16, 2008 at 03:53


    All right, I’m not tired, but I need to sleep, so here I am. I recall the last time I was online with you through the wee hours. I ended up calling in sick the next day, so I could get some sleep. Of course, the person I had to tell I had a “migraine” to was a VP at the company, so I could take the day off. 🙂

    As for the topic at hand…I’m afraid we’ve been sleepwalking for too long and that’s biggest tragedy of all.

  71. 71 Dennis
    July 16, 2008 at 03:59


    Dennis~Syracuse, New York

  72. 72 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 04:00

    Finally this morning, may I enlist the good offices of the WHYS blog for a mini rant about BBC News? (No Bryan, I’m not joining your anti bias campaign–my complaint is much more specific!)

    For the last week or so, there have been a huge number of news stories about the difficulties at America’s two biggest mortgage finance lenders. Yes, this is a valid story.

    However, my objection is that EVERY TIME THEY ARE MENTIONED your script writers use only the affectionate slang names “Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac”. I have yet to hear any story explain that these are actually the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Mortgage Corporation. I actually got so frustrated about not knowing that I Googled to get the real names!

    Now, I realise that in a 3 minute bulletin at 3 words a second, the slang names are just plain easier–but I also think that the real names should be thrown in to explain the background. Being serious for a second, I think that using just the “funny” names may be at risk of underplaying the significance of the story and making it sound trivial.

    Rant over…and thanks for listening!

  73. 73 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 04:01

    @ New Rule- anybody who has the capacity to make plutonium gets to demand negotiations and there isn’t a blasted thing neo-conservative hot shots can say about it.

    While nuclear weapons are hard to make plutonium can be made as long as a few pounds of uranium and thorium are available. This plutonium can’t make a nuclear weapon but can be used as ‘dirty bomb’.

    So eventually after months and months of threats and political grandstanding somebody explains the facts to the oligarchs running the show and they get a clue. Negotiate or evacuate.

  74. 74 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 04:06

    @ Julie P

    I’ve had similar happen–except my last “most of the nighter” was to listen to Ros broadcast from the Kwanza school which aired between 3 and 4 AM here. I woke up the next morning with some kind of minor flu bug that I would likely have just shaken off if I’d had some proper sleep.

    (I’m retired so don’t have a VP to report to–in fact I used to BE a VP…but my new 3 year old boss is totally unforgiving when it comes to getting me out of bed!)

  75. 75 Julie P
    July 16, 2008 at 04:13


    Yes, I read your tale of having the bug. I’m sorry that happened. I hope you are feeling better now. I also know how young children can be. I helped my sister with her first child and I’ll tell you what at that age they are the center of the universe and you are there for them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no sick days, holidays, or nights off.

    Ahh retirement…I was just thinking about that today. Oh, so far away…


    I had my little rant earlier, so you’re not alone.

  76. 76 Virginia Davis
    July 16, 2008 at 04:21

    Good evening all:

    Has anyone else noticed that there is a new category/concept of “the other” to be feared out there in media-speak? the terrorist radicals

    I always liked being a radical – someone who cuts away at the root.

    First let me say that long before 9/11 Irish Republicans were kept under surveillance by the FBI. And that my letters to “the authorities” – especially Bush et al – I put my social security number after my signature because I want that communication going to the “right file.”

    So then there was the time I phoned the (large) clinic where I was a patient as a diabetic, in somewhat of a panic, as my blood sugar readings were out of control and I needed medical advice on how to use the insulin. The answerer was not the clinic, but a stranger who told me he hadn’t learned his new cell phone number yet. I was totally freaked. Imagining that someone on the coast had phoned for their doctor to get a life-support flight for a relative in crisis and instead been hooked up with this fool (of a lawyer)…..

    I got all involved. The clinic was later apologized to for this interruption of their phone service. Who was it? Big Brother. It skewed my behavior for a long time and those who know me, just put up with it. Can I prove it? Not really. Are there some alternative explanations? I suppose so. Is is just another “god-glitch”
    or are there people out there who poke me like some animal in a cage.

    Anyway, you get the drift. Thanks for letting me vent.

    Do you think this blog is monitored?

    As for South Africa, the implementation of a dream…a rocky road.

    (Had to get up to answer the phone – it was a hang up. Big Brother, no doubt.)

    Virginia in Oregon

  77. 77 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 04:24

    @ Pangolin

    Actually I don’t know why countries go to the trouble of building big reactors to make plutonium when the former Soviet republics have managed to “lose” hundreds of pounds of the stuff. Or is Al Qaeda just keeping all that for themselves?

  78. 78 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 04:31

    @ Steve (when you wake up again)

    Good morning! A friend just sent me this link:


    …which appears to be Jesse Jackson suggesting legislation to give Americans the right to vote.

    Huh? I thought you guys fought a war about that back in 1776!

    My friend wanted ME to explain it but I’m at a loss. You may soon regret admitting you’re an expert in American constitutional law but any explanation you can offer would be appreciated!

  79. 79 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 04:34

    @ Bob- I think that it’s time to reconsider the wisdom of a economic structure based upon the endless issuance of credit and repayments of debts. Our Christian ancestors had a very low opinion of usury for very good reasons that are now coming home to roost.

    While I can’t see a transition to a zero-debt system I believe that interest rates should be capped and loan periods severely restricted. Something around no interest rate above 15% simple interest yearly should be charged and no loans over 20 years for land or houses and 5 years for other personal property.

    Complication greases the skids to slide the camel of fraud into the tent.

  80. 80 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 04:59

    @ Roberto- Sleep deprivation, a cold cell, lack of proper nutrition and isolation will render the toughest hard-case into a weeping wreck if kept up for long enough. These methods were perfected at US supermax prisons like California’s Pelican Bay Prison where troublesome prisoners are psychologically destroyed in order to terrorize the rest of the inmate population.

    If you were put in sensory isolation, fed a no-protein, no-fat diet, kept cold to where your were shivering and denied sleep you would be hard put to tell me your own name and believe it after three weeks. Just cold alone has caused people to lapse into psychosis and die due to simple errors.

    Of course the US tortures people. It’s standard practice in our prisons. It’s easy for keyboard warriors to declare that fit treatment for other people. Our risk is what, a hangnail?

    @ Bob- Nobody, but nobody loses plutonium. Unauthorized possession of plutonium is a death sentence in the FSU and life in a concrete box anywhere else for any amount over a gram. I knew somebody who had a gram source at a satellite assembly facility that was for calibration. When the thing went missing they shut down until it was winkled out of the corner it had rolled in to.

    It’s consumed, weaponized, stored or transfered but it can never be said to be ‘lost.’ In the FSU if you are connected to the ‘loss’ your third cousins aren’t safe from treatment that makes Gitmo look like a Danish kindergarten. Dog help you if you sold some to Iran or a ‘stan country.

    @ Virginia- The FBI are now experts at environmental issues of the West Coast since they’ve been reading our mail for over 20 years now hoping to find George Hayduke. We keep telling them it’s a fictional character but they won’t listen. Thank Dog they have all that child porn to screen to keep them busy and give us breathing room.

  81. 81 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 05:32

    @ Pangolin

    Re: Credit.

    I’m in full agreement too much “easy” credit (for individuals and countries) is a source of many problems. I’m not sure I’d go as far as you but as soon as you give out more credit than the borrower can repay everyone has a problem. When I bought my first house in the UK it was a mandatory 10% deposit and no loan greater than 3 times my income (over 25 years). If they’d stuck to rules like that, today’s crisis wouldn’t be happening.

    Re: Torture

    Don’t forget that the story in the news today isn’t “the toughest hard case”. It was a boy who was only 15 when arrested. I’m sure he would have confessed to anything after the treatment he received. However, one question I’d like answered is “how did a 15 year old Canadian get to Afghanistan in the first place?”. There’s more to this than we know.

    That said, as soon as ANY country resorts to this kind of treatment of prisoners, they’ve lost their claim to any kind of moral high ground–and it’s very hard to re-take that hill.

    Re: Plutonium

    That’s why I put the word “lose” in quotation marks. However, despite all the punishments in place I think we can be sure that a worrying amount from places like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan has gone missing. The few highly publicised “captures” are surely just the tip of the iceberg.

  82. 82 Mohammed Ali
    July 16, 2008 at 06:19

    @privacy, when Bush visited Liberia, we were monitored as if we (private citizens) had the keys to bin Laden’s cage. People fought for freedom and imbedded in freedom is privacy. Why should this part of freedom be curtail because of some unreasonable reason?

  83. 83 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 06:22

    @ Canadian in Afghanistan- He went there with his da of course. They summary on the NPR website wasn’t a full transcript. In a great example of super-double-blowback I would bet even money that his father was a refugee from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan after disruptions by US financed ‘freedom fighters.’

    @Credit- When I bought my first house in the UK it was a mandatory 10% deposit and no loan greater than 3 times my income (over 25 years). If they’d stuck to rules like that, today’s crisis wouldn’t be happening.

    By that definition almost all of the credit issued in California is ‘easy credit.’ I knew people who were buying houses with interest-only loans and flipping them for $50k profit or more in a year. Houses that should have been condemmed were being mortgaged and rented. I even saw one guy try to rent out an actual tar-paper shack so he could cover the mortgage on the lot.

    The property market here was so hot that people would fly in from the East Coast to purchase houses to flip. Why a bank would issue a loan for a property on one coast to an upper middle class couple on another for a third or fourth property is beyond me. It’s a recipe for disaster that baked up perfectly.

    The problem in the US is that most people also have college loans, car loans, credit cards and marginal health insurance. One major problem and they were totally out of their depth and in a rip tide.

  84. 84 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 06:52


    “Anyone who makes plutonium gets to negotiate and there isn’t anything [anyone] can do about it.”

    Actually, there is. I’d direct your attention to the fate of Iraq’s first nuclear facility a couple of decades ago, and Syria’s a few months ago,, both at the hands of a necessarily and fortunately vigilant Israeli Air Force.

    The gentleman who runs Libya found himself getting nervous a few years ago as the US invaded Iraq, and played it safe by pretty much unilaterally handing over his nuclear program.

    It’s less to do with armaments, or diplomacy, than psychiatry. These absolute rulers get so full of themselves that they can’t see the obvious: developing nuclear weapons capability makes them a target, not a big beefy “respectable” country. What is the point of developing a nuke program just to “demand” negotiations about…. your nukes program?

    As for the matter of why this silliness gets your heart going pitty-pat, I can”t imagine. Perhaps some misguided Rousseau thing?

  85. 85 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 07:28

    @ Virginia. Yes our WHYS blog is being monitored. Even the BBC has our IP addresses and could be forced to release in the event of a serious event or something like that. Go read it. Its somewhere about using the Blog or so. Now imagine the wealth of info ” Big Brother” will have on bloggers on WHYS? Besides we are not paranoid. These are just cold hard facts.

  86. 86 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 08:30

    Israeli and Hezbollah Prisoner Swap: Exchanging the living for the dead? Were the Israeli Soldiers killed in combat or murdered by Hezbollah? When is Hezbollah ever goin to hand over a Living Prisoner of War to Israel? Hezbollah always seems to get the better bargain!!

  87. 87 Virginia Davis
    July 16, 2008 at 08:38


    I know the WHYS blog is monitored. Much is. However, as Will Rhodes states,
    I have the right to express my opinions. Not to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater.
    And to remember that as a DoD employee in the late 60’s, I worked for Project Camelot and part of the mission statement was (the social science research study) of every terrorist organization in the world – the definition of a terrorist organization being two or more people.

    Do I sit here at 12:30 in the morning and not know that “all” of you out there are real
    or that somehow, it is all an elaborate joke? (Refer back to my belief in an absurd universe.) Then you get into: information, misinformation, disinformation…..

    I don’t think either of us is paranoid.

    Virginia in Oregon

  88. 88 Mohammed Ali
    July 16, 2008 at 08:44

    @prisoner exchange, there are some of my colleagues here who always say that a dead Israeli soldier is worth 10 live arabs. I think it is based on that valuation system the israelis are accepting the dead for the living. I hope in the future it will be living for living or there wouldn’t be the need for prisoner exchange because there will be peace.

  89. 89 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 08:47

    Bob Q., I am SO with you on the “Ministry of Silly Names” matter, referring to the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Rural Hum-de-hum whatever the heck by their nicknames of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    It took me YEARS to finally figure out what the heck the BBC was talking about when thy said “Number Ten.” What’s up with that! What part of “world service” don’t they get, I’d mutter darkly to myself.

    Once you get it, though, it’s pretty easy sailing thereafter.

  90. 90 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 08:54


    Yeah, I’ve noticed that for years, where Israel will return a thousand prisoners and get four or five of their guys back. It got really ridiculous back when their neighbors used to actually fight real wars with them, because Israel was so much better at it and ended up with so many mouths to feed, while losing very few of their own.

    Any implicit suggestion about the relative worth of the people being traded at a rate of 10 to 1, or 100 to 1, or 1,000 to 1, would be quite unacceptably politically incorrect.

    Still kind of a hoot though, ain’t it.

  91. 91 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 08:57


    “I don’t think either of us is paranoid.”

    Oh, I wouldn’t be quite so sure……

  92. 92 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 09:02

    @ Jonathan

    Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t prove they’re not out to get you!

    Regarding the “Number 10” thing, that actually makes sense. It all stems from when Prime Minister Dudley Moore was in power and Daryl Hannah was Chancellor of the Exchequer…..

    (And, on that note, I suspect the WHYS team will be arriving at the office clutching their morning cappuccinos and expecting a SERIOUS overnight blog….)

  93. 93 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 09:03

    @ Jonathan … ” I would not be quite so sure …” Any special reason for that line of thought?

  94. 94 nelsoni
    July 16, 2008 at 09:08

    @ Bob Q. This was a serious overnight blog wasn’t it?

  95. 95 Mohammed Ali
    July 16, 2008 at 09:19

    @jonathan, yeh i agree with you that valuing humans, especially dead to living, and coming up with preposterous conclusion that one group is valued more than the other is not only rediculous but inhumane to the group being less valued.

  96. 96 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 09:36

    @ Big Brother is watching porn- The problem with paranoid fantasies about government spying on our mundane little plots to freedom is that a computer can only pick out kewords and contextual referenes are totally lost on it.

    Given the Jonathon, Virginia and I all write like overeducated urban sophisticates (nevermind I’m a potbellied hayseed) and we are undoubtably lilly white we aren’t much interesting to them.

    Big Brother has to hire an actual live body to check flagged content and the live bodies much prefer entertaining fantasies about black muslim liberation groups, chinese restaurant worker socialist armies and terrorist training camps whenever the local mosque youth group goes to paintball palace. Plus there is oh-so-much porn to scan and the time in the chat rooms pretending to be lust crazed 14 year old girls.

    I HAVE a 14 year old girl and what she is crazed about is make-up and fingernail art. Her chat transcripts would put a speed freak to sleep.

    I did once have a fantasy about bringing the NSA to it’s knees by encrypting random screen captures and sending them along with every e-mail sent by every progressive liberal on the planet. Nobody would write the software for me though.

    @Israel- Israel’s prisons are widely acknowledged to be the graduate school of terrorism as the inmates have damn little else to talk about. Just like US prisons you learn every recipe for methamphetamine whether you want to or not. It’s in the water almost. Israel should give the inmates computers and let them only surf porn sites. That would put a kink in the Jihad that wouldn’t iron out.

  97. 97 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 09:49

    OK Bob Q, I can take a gentle hint, especially when it’s pounded in with a rusty mallet. I have to say, though, that having watched each and every one of my suggestions over these months for show topics be roundly ignored, I don’t feel too cripplingly guilty when I permit myself the occasional frivolity.

    But, serious I shall be. I peeked at that “right to vote” bill you asked about–I trust you’ll forgive my presumption–and what jumped out at me–after observing that we conduct even national elections in different idiosyncratic ways in the different states, and only rarely and reluctantly does Washington presume to dictate rules from on high–was the right to REGISTER and vote on the same day. Normally we must register some months in advance of an election. Once registered, we stay registered, only having to re-register if we move.

    I suspect this is an artifact of a long-ago paper-based system, when registration required verification of citizenship and other work at the registrar’s office. I also suspect that it’s still with us at least in part because it is advantageous to certain sorts of elected officials to discourage impulse voting, which same-day registration would enable. Interesting differences emerge from the imposition or removal of various impediments to voting. The political sentiments of the “vote or die” people, who will endure every obstacle, are different from those of the folks who fall away at the various inconveniences (remembering to register, tolerating a long wait in line, miserable weather, etc.), and second only to reapportionment–the 100-pound gorilla in the room–this sort of thing is worth paying attention to.

    As an example of the effect of this sort of arcane geekery: Before the 2000 election, Florida had performed huge and deliverately overbroad “purges” of its rolls of eligible voters, expunging thousands prurportedly because they had felony criminal records and weren’t properly eligible. They disqualified thousands more people than they should have, including people with similar names to felons, which of course raises the possibility that these voters would have likely voted the same way as thei felons, inasmuch as names include ethnicity, which in turn is a predictor of political sentiment, far from exact but much better than 50/50. The number of improperly purged voters far exceeded the margin by which the Supreme Court claimed George W. Boob to have won that state, and hence the election as president.

    Remarkable distinctions also occur when absentee ballots are compared to those cast at polling places. Other common tricks are to place to few facilities in poor neighborhoods, and old and malfunctioning equipment, so that voters have to wait sometimes for hours, and presumably some will abandon the effort.

    So the short answer is that this bill would have mandated same-day registration on request, and done so as a central, national mandate. There might also be some language there that supercedes some existing rules here or there, but nothing that sticks out at me.

    Hope that helps.

  98. 98 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 10:05


    Thus far today you’ve been cheerfully sending out fantasies and errors faster than I can shoot them down–I have three or four unposted notes refuting various of them–but I like this last post, about NSA snooping and the lighter side, etc.

    Actually, programmers being what they are, several elaborate and amusing schemes were emmployed with the intent of annoying any interested listeners.

    I wonder about effectiveness of looking for “hot words” — surely even the dimmest terrorist has some code words and talks of baking a cake, not rigging a bomb. I have to suspect that the massive mining of numbers–who called whom, when, and how often–is where most of the real action happens these days.

    “Prison for Porn” has a fun, B-movie feel, doesn’t it?

  99. 99 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 10:09

    LOL @ Jonathan

    My reference to a serious blog was aimed at my silliness–I thought your post made sense. Undoubtedly not everyone out there realises that “Number 10” refers to the office and residence of the British PM. It’s the British equivalent of saying “The White House” but probably not quite as well known worldwide as a short form!

  100. 100 Ogola Benard
    July 16, 2008 at 10:15

    What is the intergrity of the present African Governments compared to the past leadership?
    Who is considered a hero in Africa?
    When does a president party? How does he do it
    and with whom? What does he talk about?

  101. 101 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 10:30

    @ Jonathon- i don’t suppose you would buy my scheme for pacifying Afghanistan. We randomly empty every 10th storage unit in the US and dump shipping containers of said contents at random points on the Afghan landscape.

    By the time the various tribesman had sorted out who gets which container, sifted through the funky furniture, tupperware, 1970’s Playboys and incomplete tool sets their culture would be hopelessly corrupted and incapable of focusing on a war of resistance.

    It’s not like the current tactics are working.

  102. 102 Mohammed Ali
    July 16, 2008 at 10:42

    Hezbollah turns over coffins to Israel. If the two sides can negotiate the exchange of living bodies for dead bodies, why can’t they negotiate for peace. Do they like the idea of exchanging dead for living?

  103. 103 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 10:43

    Oh, Bob, I’ve known what “Number Ten” was since birth. Most of my fmily is in England, and I’m a hopeless, helpless Anglophile. (Interestingly, though, I’m not especially close to, or fond of, my family there.)

  104. 104 Mohammed Ali
    July 16, 2008 at 10:50

    Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrillas turned over to Israel two coffins believed to contain the bodies of Israeli soldiers, setting in motion a dramatic prisoner swap between the bitter enemies Wednesday.

    The question I want to ask is if these two sides can successfully negotiate the exchange of dead bodies for living bodies, why can’t they negotiate to make peace? Do they like the idea of being at war?

  105. 105 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 11:25

    @Bob ‘n’ Q~~

    As is so often the case when everyone agrees on something, it’s wrong, or at least dubious.

    In this instance, I refer to the condemnation of overly “easy credit” for both its imagined immorality and its purported effect on the economy. To start with, in general, we can surely agree that, overall, overly TIGHT credit is about 100 times worse than overly loose credit, both for personal purposes and for business expansion and the employment it brings.

    Specifically, the easy money of the last decade or so enabled a whole lot of people to buy homes, which is pretty much unarguably a very good thing for them, for their children, and for their communities. A larger proportion of Americans are now omeowners than ever before, and I think our rate is among the ighest in the world. Many of the homebuyers were first-timers, with quite adequate income but stains on their credit histories that would in tighter times have precluded them from the American dream.

    Whatever sensationalistic hoohah one hears in the media, the foreclosure rate is very much lower than one is led to believe, though higher of course than one would like.

    Those “sane, sensible” loan rules you refer to from when you bought your first house are quite simply impossible today. House prices have increased so much, and so much faster than anything else, especially incomes, that really very few people could manage to buy any house or dondo under the old conservative guidelines. Guidelines that condemn millions to be renters all their lives would not be optimal. I know that I spent years seething helplessly as property prices exploded year after year, far dwarfing my income and making a joke of saving for a down payment. Conceding that San Francisco is an expensive market, a modest, small, unassuming condominium in a safe neighborhood would be a remarkable find at half a million dollars, and most cost more. Regular single-family detached homes in good areas start at a million dollars, and I’m still talkiing small.

    I forget the rule of thumb you recited, but it would be impossible for anyone except zillionaires to have a chance of boarding the wonderful real estate escalato. For that matter, look at prices where you grew up, or bought your first house, and estimate your salary today if you were at that early point in your career, and work the numbers. I’d bet you’ll fiind yourself locked out by your prudent loan guidelines.

    The classic rule was 20 % down, and no more than 25% of income to be consumed by housing costs. That would be prohibitive today for the average person, and even the couple-of-notches-above-average one. Being serious, responsible people, though, we are willing to pay much more for housing costs than the classical model assumes, especially knowing that our short-term sacrifice will pay off so handomely in the long term. And saving $200,000 for a down payment is far beyond the means of your average young couple.

    Additionally, lower-income and minority people in marginal or plain undesirable neighborhoods were able to buy homes for the first time. This is especially important because those marginal neighborhoods are “gentrifying” — prices rising faster than almost anywhere else. The residents historically are tenants, and when the area gets posh, rents rise, and they are all too often squeezed out. As owners, they are on the other side of the equation: The neighborhood’s gain is also their own gain–not a small matter in communities where wealth accumulation and intergenerational wealth transfer andinvestment etc. are all but unknown.


  106. 106 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 11:41


    Hey dude, HANDS OFF MY STORAGE UNIT!! Of course I don’t agree with that plan. How the heck did you know what I’m storing anyway? Hmph. Pretty funny though. I might have liked it if you’d said garage sales or something, but my stored treasures? I’m still shuddering.

    You really think they’d get excited by all that stufff? Hmmm. For sure the current tactics aren’t working; to quote a line from a recent Harold Pinter play, we could have predicted the outcome of that soup just by knowing who the chef was. I’ve heard wonderful things, though, from people doing bottom-up work, with microloans, personal involvement, setting up entrepeneurs. They all have only scorn for the behemoth agencies and NGOs (AID, etc.) who squander time and money first on themselves, then on either foreign contractors or corrupt local ones. What little money doesn’t stick to the profusion of fingers doesn’t buy much, especially as the schemes are usually inappropriate to start with.

    I’m hoping they produce enough opium to make a few bucks and also drive down the price so that addicts will have to commit less crime to afford it. They seem to be on track with that lately.

  107. 107 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 11:48


    Did you manage to slog through my long Talmudic interpretation of that little bill?

  108. 108 Katharina in Ghent
    July 16, 2008 at 12:26

    Hi Jonathan,

    I just approved it… and I read it. One thing that struck me about your post is this: Do you think the house prices would have risen as much as they have even if the rules for loans had been stricter? After all, it’s all about supply and demand, and if nobody has the money to afford to buy a house (as it seems to happen now), then the prices have to come down. Personally, I believe that the loose rules have contributed greatly to inflate the house prizes.

  109. 109 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 12:38

    @ Jonathan

    Yeah…sorry I should have mentioned but I was on kitchen duty tonight and was sent off to cook dinner!

    Your explanation makes good sense. I must admit, I’d wondered if it was to do the the registration issue, particularly having heard of the number of “voters” from certain demographic groups who found they weren’t registered at the last election.

    Anyhow, thanks for all the time spent explaining things!

  110. 110 Melanie Chassen
    July 16, 2008 at 12:48

    I noticed at the top there is a question posed about ‘Americanization’ and American culture. The question asks if American culture adds to my own, or takes away from it. Being Canadian, I see the cultures of these two countries being similar in many ways. I haven’t traveled to the US much so I can’t really comment on the subtle differences between here and there. But I will say that I am proud to be part of a country where there is so much diversity. I feel very fortunate that I was also given the opportunity to go to school with people of other backgrounds. Where I went to high school, maybe 30% of all the students were white. I was the minority. But the wonderful thing is, no one even noticed. I didn’t really notice the diversity of the places I had been until I visited places that were much less diverse. I think that growing up with people from other backgrounds and with other beliefs was an important education for me. And as a result, I have grown up to be very accepting of all cultures and do not pass judgment on other’s beliefs. So while American culture does not really add or take away from my own, I took this opportunity to say how important I think it is that we all be exposed to different ways of living. I believe it is this exposure that will foster tolerance of beliefs unlike our own. If we could foster these feelings as children, at a point in our lives where people are not characterized by the way they dress, the movies they watch, the customs they practice, or the languages they speak… at that point in our lives everybody’s just human. I think exposure to culture of any kind reminds us of that.

    Yes… I know I went off on a bit of a tangent. But it leads me to pose a question:

    What will be the vehicle for future tolerance of different beliefs/backgrounds? Will it be interracial marriages? Or will history and politics forever get in the way?

  111. 111 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 12:49

    @ Jonathan

    Re: Credit

    I have to come at this one from the British perspective since that’s where I spent the last 30 years of my life.

    It’s very true that, with housing prices in the UK, tougher credit would knock some people off the “housing ladder”. However, it’s not totally clear cut. First, as credit became easier to obtain, on result was to push property prices up making prices just as unreachable.

    Beyond that though, I’m old enough to remember the crash in housing prices in the early 90’s. This followed a period when lenders were pushing 100% mortgages and people were pushing their finances to the limit to buy homes. Then, suddenly, interest rates went up, housing prices dropped like stones and thousands of people were caught in a negative equity trap. Repossessions rose like mad.

    Alas, people didn’t learn, and as I left the UK (about a year ago) there were signs that the same thing was happening. I sold up to move at the peak of the market–from what I understand, the value of the place I sold has now gone down again!

    Add to this the ease with which people can obtain credit cards (I know some who take cash advances from one card to make a minimum payment on another) and we MUST be cruising for a crash.

  112. 112 steve
    July 16, 2008 at 12:52

    Just to show the moral bankruptcy in the middle east of some nations. Israel is prepared to return the murderer of a 4 year old girl, who smashed her head in with a rifle butt, to a heroes welcome in Lebanon. I’m curious, does anyone know if an Israeli POW has ever been returned a live?

  113. 113 steve
    July 16, 2008 at 13:09

    OMG. Accusations that Columbia committed “war crimes” for using Red Cross insignia in a resucue of hostages. Of course taking hostages isn’t a war crime, but rescuing them is. Remember when Palestinians would use UN ambulances to transport weapons and gunmen? Far left, you confused people REALLY need to just make up your mind about whose side you are on. Kindnapping people = okay, so long as the people aren’t socialists. Rescuing them = war crime, especially if means minimizing casualties are used.


  114. 114 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 13:20

    @ Israeli ‘rightous’ moralism- For every Israeli child killed in that conflict over 10 Palestinian and Lebanese children have died. It doesn’t make the Arab children any less dead because they were killed by artilllary shells and laser guided bombs and missles.

    Dead is dead and it it was your child the killer would be a monster no matter the distance from the child when the trigger was pulled.

    If the Lebanese want this monster back within their midst let them have them. The Israeli’s fete their own murderers.

    War is murder, not we’re good, you’re bad it’s just murder.

  115. 115 Bob in Queensland
    July 16, 2008 at 13:30

    @ Steve

    Re: the Red Cross logo

    I think you’re missing the main point on this one. Of course rescuing hostages isn’t a war crime. However, mis-use of the Red Cross logo can and will have long lasting consequences. So long as the logo isn’t abused, the Red Cross can move about relatively safely in combat zones. However, as soon as one side or another paint the logo on one of their trucks or planes and get caught, then all of the real Red Cross become targets.

    I’m sensitive to this one because some years ago in Bosnia most of us in the media travelled around in white painted land rovers with the word PRESS in big letters. Land mines aside, we were usually able to move about fairly freely. Then a certain Serb warlord had the idea of painting one of HIS armoured vehicles white with a “Press” sign and using it for an ambush.

    The ambush worked but, from the next day, we became targets too. Thanks Mr. Serb Warlord.

    (For the avoidance of doubt, I unreservedly condemn the Palestinian use of UN ambulances–if true since it may not be–for the same reason.)

  116. 116 Pangolin- California
    July 16, 2008 at 13:37

    Using Red Cross or Red Crescent insignia to cover military operations is a war crime. It has been for a very long time. The Israeli claim that Palestinian’s used ambulances to move gunmen was just propoganda used to cover Israeli war crimes of firing on ambulances.

    People who make claims to moral arguments while ignoring the facts stand out as childish thinkers who demand that others play by rules that they feel free to break. Engaging in this kind of behavior is an admission that you plan to engage in a genocide since such an adversary cannot be trusted to keep an agreed peace.

    Of course if you have no standard better than ‘my side is always right’ then there isn’t much point in listening to others. One wonders why bother when there are plenty of echo-chambers elsewhere on the net.

  117. July 16, 2008 at 13:40

    Hi Will Rhodes
    Akbar here in Tehran
    It was inevitable. US, Iran will meet in Geneva on Saturday. Will it succeed, doubtful.
    This is a last ditch stand by President George Bush to retrieve something from his eight year term. It’s a brave move, but too little, too late.
    Iran is in a precarious situation – no money, no gasoline, no subsidies, constant
    power cuts. political wrangling and canvassing prior to the presidential elections in nine months have brought the nation to a standstill.
    Europe had a major share in bringing Washington to Geneva, but it simply will not work.
    The issue in Iran is civil rights, freedom of speech, freedom to rally, freedom to demonstrate, – that’s the only way anything will get done. Let it be.

  118. 118 steve
    July 16, 2008 at 13:45

    @ pangolin

    I’ve seen the video of armed gunmen in a red cross ambulance. It’s not “propaganda” as you claim.

  119. 119 Chris
    July 16, 2008 at 14:10

    Re the person accused of sodomy. Your reporter stated that “his lawyer has been seen entering the building and his wife”. Typical lawyer – didn’t waste any time did he?

  120. 120 Roberto
    July 16, 2008 at 14:39

    Of course the US tortures people. It’s standard practice in our prisons. It’s easy for keyboard warriors to declare that fit treatment for other people. Our risk is what, a hangnail?

    —– Veerily disingenuous approach you take.

    I provided the link to the background piece you were listening to which included the utube video you claimed was torture.

    You completely ignored the boy’s family history of being Al Queda fighters and involved in other terrorist activities. The interview is being conducted by Canadian interrogators, and there is not much sympathy in Canada for this family.

    Yes, I, you, we all could be described as keyboard warriors. You making spurious claims based on a video which offers no evidence of torture would seem to indicate you need an ammo upgrade as popcorn just ain’t cuttin’ it.

    There must be hundreds of millions of people in the world including children younger than this boy who endure 10 fold, a hundred fold worse conditions than what this video shows.

    I did not create war, crime, torture, murder. I and every child born inherits the problem and struggle in their way to deal with it until the end of their days when the torch of struggle is passed on.

    I prefer to find better ways to do things, but I’ve discovered that’s hard to do in a world that is filled with people and their leaders lying to themselves and only interested in self enrichment at the expense of others.

    You don’t have to provide proof to me that the US has atrocities or torture in it’s history. However, in the specific example you cited, your claims of torture are no more valid than me claiming you are torturing me with spurious claims of torture.

    Heck, guess I could produce a utube video of me at my warrior keyboard sobbing as I read your text on torture and call out for my mommy, but what would that do for my growing reputation as a keyboard warrior?

    BTW, on that 2 fer deal proffered, I’m open to a horse trade. Brooklyn and London bridge package in exchange for 100 blackmarket plutonium keystrokes.

    Deal of the millennium so act now before it’s gone!

  121. 121 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 15:09


    I don’t know what you’re talking about when you refer to jobs with “impossibly low wages that could not even hope to pay for essentials…..” being taken by immigrants. Quite obviously, the immigrants who work at the jobs do, in fact pay for their “essentials.” Furthermore, they manage to send some money back home and support their families in Mexico. If the pay weren’t enough for essentials, then by definitiion, nobody would, or could, occupy them.

    Your attitude exactly illustrates what I said, that when a society reaches a sufficient level of wealth, and a level of welfare support, there are some jobs that its citizens prefer not to perform, and generally do not perform, and which tend to be filled by immigrants from less wealthy countries. It’s not unique to the US; it happens in Europe too. Ignoring it or denying it doesn’t change it.

    “Slave wages” is, rather obviously, an oxymoron, since slaves do not earn wages.

    The plain fact is that some jobs are unpleasant and strenuous and relatively low-paid and have little chance of a career track. These are classically the sort of jobs that immigrants do, and have done here for 200 years. It works for them, because they earn vastly more than they ever could back home. It works for us, because our works gets done. What on earth is the problem?

    If some company were to demand that only native-born US citizens work for it, and it raised wages high enough to attract citizens, it would have to raise its prices and lose business to competitors who had not enacted whimsical, expensive labor policies. Then, as our mutual friend said cheerfully, the business will “close its doors,” throwing all of its employees out of work. How is this possibly considered the better course? It works for nobody.

  122. 122 steve
    July 16, 2008 at 15:10

    @ Pangolin

    Sorry, I was wrong. Palestinians used UN ambulances to transport gunment, not Red Cross.

    Sorry if the truth is inconvenient for you.

  123. 123 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 15:11


    Very nicely done! I’m tipping my virtual hat.

  124. 124 Shirley
    July 16, 2008 at 15:11

    Tony Blair has postponed his Gaza trip (also IMEMC article) based on a security thread and expressed doubt that a peace deal will be reached this year. The cynicism is understandable: at least seven Palestinian cities and villages have been invaded in two days’ time, 46 people abducted, including city council members. (IMEMC had differing numbers) Homes have been demolished and raided; charities have been raided. All this in only two days. But there has already been much progress towards Palestine and Israel meeting and talking. Just because they cannot whip something up in six months does not mean that there has been a failure. Or should we expect treaties in a matter of weeks now that we can microwave dinners in five minutes?

  125. 125 steve
    July 16, 2008 at 15:19

    @ Pangolin

    I’m not sure you’re not upset that more jews havne’t been getting killed. If you notice, Israelis respect life, enjoy life, live for this life, not the next. Meanwhile you have muslim kids paraded around with suicide belts on , with AK-47s, in a society that views the afterlife as more important that the real life. Sorry, people, there’s no afterlife. You “afterlife” is you getting eaten by bacteria and maggots. There’s no sky friend, no 72 virgins. You’re just dead and gone. Hence you should value the one chance at life.

  126. 126 Muhammad Asim Munir
    July 16, 2008 at 15:30

    Hi WHYS!

    I hope you all are fine.


    pakistani want 2 impose their religion 2 everybody that is where the tenson comes in, we can never trust any pakistani or muslims they will always b enemies.

    Indian and pakistani will never get alone because when it comes to marridge then its one way only and that is you become a muslim either you are a boy or a girl and there is no compromise.

    My son is 7, aft er 911 + 77 he says he doesnt trust muslims.


    If Pakistanis could impose their religion then there would have be no need for an independent country. Muslims are felt as enemies when they stop on compromising things that God has prohibited them to do. Why Pakistanis/Muslims compromise on marriages where marriages are not important to reduce tensions?

    What India did in 1947, 1948 and 1971 with Pakistanis, should we trust Indians? If Indians are flexible so much on religion why did they demolis “Babri Mosque”?

    Though i don’t feel at ease in arguing this way as i think this sort of thinking is an ill thinking but for the satisfaction of the person who said all that it was necessary.

    Warm Regards,

    Muhammad Asim Munir
    Gujranwala, Pakistan.

  127. 127 Neil McGowan
    July 16, 2008 at 15:31

    “Has American culture enriched your own?”



    “American culture”??

    The knuckledraggers who banned The Teletubbies because they claimed it promoted homosexuality??

    The munchkins who brought you “Judicial Rendition”, “Agent Orange”, the My-Lai Massacre, Guantanamo Bay and Waterboarding???



  128. July 16, 2008 at 15:35

    I haven’t watched the film yet! Could anyone tell me were I could watch the film on line!
    Tommorow(friday)- is final day that marks the end of Ros’s trip to Africa-East Africa and South Africa!..what I want to ask the people in Robben Island is “Why is that they watch american movies more than any other films?why can’t they promote their own local Film Industry?

  129. 129 steve
    July 16, 2008 at 15:38

    @ Neil McGowan

    Typical USA bashing, based on lies. Neil, I can only presume you are British. Did you know that YOU invented to concentration camp in South Africa during the Boer war?

    The Teletubbies were banned? Actually some religious figure spoke out against one of them, and that’s it. Yet you twist and lie to make it seem like they were banned here.

    Is My Lai, Guantanamo and waterboarding all you’ve got? How about your EMPIRE? How about depriving people in many places their right to rule themselves?

    Knuckledraggers and munchkins? Don’t even get me started, you own words are the best defense against anything you said. Have fun getting your “validation” from mindless USA bashing, based upon lies.

  130. 130 Jens
    July 16, 2008 at 15:51


    may i kindly remind you that you have the ability and freedom to bash america, soley based on the fact that the afore mentioned nation help you to safe your bacon in time of need.

    i would be careful with throwing stones while stitting in a glass house. the british empire was not a benovelant one either.

    plus the points you raise has little to nothing to do with culture……….

  131. 131 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 15:51

    @Melanie Chassen~~

    Oh, that was a perfectly wonderful tangent. Beneath my crusty sarcastic skin beats the heart of a romantic, and I think the wold of acceptance you describe is possible and is already beginning to form, no matter the bad news in the media. As you suggested, it wil develop from the bottom up, person-to-person. I’m a bit of a geek, so of course I see the internet as the instrument that will bring us together. I know that I have friends all over the world, including in countries my own government forbids me from visiting, and that knowing them always reminds me of how much we have in common and how little separates us.

    I have to think that when everyone has friends in different countries, they will be less willing to follow the call to war if it comes. Wars always involve propoganda that dehumanizes the “enemy,” and I think that will be harder to do when enough people can stop and say, Hey, that’s not my “enemy.” I have friends there and they don’t wish us ill or want to go to war.

  132. 132 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 15:53

    @Neil McGowan–

    Well, you’ve certainly got American manners nailed down!

  133. 133 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 16:01

    and i wonder about the public reaction in Canada (Will, where are you ?).

    Not surprisingly, the reaction has been mixed, Chloe.

    There is a debate about him being, obviously, Canadian and his family coming here to be out of the fighting etc – that they readily accepted being Canadian and took the benefits thereof. Then that leads onto that his father was a Bin Laden sympathiser with the mother doing an interview stating that she would be happy that he son should die for the cause in Afghanistan.

    That, obviously enrages people here because Canadian troops are dying in Afghanistan. There isn’t one consensus other than gitmo is an illegal prison camp and should be closed. If the kid threw the grenade then he should be tried for it. If found innocent then he should be allowed to go home – but even that is causing a few questions – which place would he call home – Afghanistan or Canada.

    Reading what the Canadian authorities want: they want him released into Canadian custody, and if any charges/allegations are to be made, make them so he can be tried.

    The complexity of it is that Canada is a country that stands up for international law but one of their own has been directly caught up in this. They (Canada) wants to see the rule of law. Afghanistan is a UN mandated battleground, as it were, so Canadians see it as justified. Yet, as I have said, Canadians are dying so they believe that this kid should not have been there and basically blame the father for taking him to Afghanistan to fight, if that was the case.

  134. 134 Will Rhodes
    July 16, 2008 at 16:04

    Oh, and can I publicly thank Bob Q for taking over the modding when I log off – he is a star for keeping the blog ticking over!

    Thanks Bob!

  135. 135 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 16:14


    Howdy! You guys have an election coming up too? Have they removed most of the attractive people again as I understand they did last time?

    I hope you win some of the rights you describe. It’s a shame that your government is obsessed with this business of enriching uranium to bomb-grade level. They must surely understand that it doesn’t make them safer; in fact it makes them a target, though I dearly hope nothing comes of that. But your president is scaring people (as is mine of course), and some neighbors are determined not to allow your country to amass enough material to make bombs. It’s just so clear that the nuclear project doesn’t guarantee safety or even enhance it, but creates much more danger.

  136. 136 Shirley
    July 16, 2008 at 16:30

    Bob: How did a 15 year old Canadian get to Afghanistan in the first place?

    It was a family business. His family is dysfunctional, btw, according to what I have heard on the evening news.

    Are wages sufficient when, in order to survive, 10 men stuff themselves into one small apartment so that they can afford to live and send money home? You know that I rant and rave against idiots who insist on living in 4,000 square foot homes with their spouse, two kids, 1.5 pets, and SUV. But if it were possible to earn wages that are earned by illegal immigrants, keep a family of four in a comfortable abode, clothe them, afford their health care, and feed them so that they thrive, don’t you think hat more American families would do so?

  137. 137 Shirley
    July 16, 2008 at 16:32

    Are Bush and Ahmadinejad more alike than they admit?

  138. 138 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 16:37

    Hi Chloe — thanks for the link to the Times piece on social psychology. I understand the notion that if people think others are carrying knives, they might be more likely to arm themselves with knives of their own.

    But I don’t get the premise that “If everybody thinks everybody else is getting fat, then more people will put on weight.” Seems like an entirely different and intuitively unsupportable notion to me. When I see fat people, I’m most certainly NOT tempted to get fat myself. If anything, the contrary. As in, that’s my future if I don’t watch myself. Almost a “Christmas Carol” Ebenezer Scrooge revelation of how the future might be.

    American culture–nah, I don’t think it either enriches or impoverishes the local culture here. We sort of look over at it sometimes, as one does the animals at the zoo.

    Did you get my email of a few days ago?

  139. 139 Shirley
    July 16, 2008 at 16:50

    I’m not sure if Muhammad Asmin Munir will visit WHYS again, but if he does,
    assalam-o-alaikum bhai,
    I don’t understand what you mean when you say “compromise on marriages“. Also, where is Gujranwala located in Pakistan? Is it in Punjab? Sind? The tribal areas? Bohat shukriya.

    Will: Which place would he call home – Afghanistan or Canada?

    Canada, it seems. But hearing him cry for his mother tore my heart apart. I should think that if his family were to move to the moon, he would happily call it home. By the way, he speaks Arabic. I’ve heard little Arabic kids cry “ya Ummi!” any time they trip and scrape their knees or get into a fight with someone else.

  140. July 16, 2008 at 16:54

    Hi Jonathan (Sunny Frisco)
    Akbar here in Tehran
    I miss Union Street. You are in the best place in the world.
    I don’t expect you are affected by the mortgage crunch which will cost the American tax payer $3 trillion – $ 4 trillion, – please, no more Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. It’s always the middle classes whosuffer most.
    Will those with savings of $30,000 – $40,000 be able to collect anything?
    Is it true that the plus $100,000 group may forfeit most of their savings?
    Business analysts predicted these events as early as 2002; why did the Fed do nothing!
    The picture we are getting of the US economy is pretty bleak – the Federal trade deficit last year was approximately $5 trillion. Add another $2 trillion to $3 trillion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, is it true?
    We are no better off. The treasury is empty. No gasoline, no subsidies. Constant power cuts and water shortages.
    Ahmadinejad spent an hour on state TV last night to tell the nation: “We can’t afford it!” So much for him.
    You want our nukes, you have it. Perhaps we should be talking to Olmert or Barak instead of Burns.
    Get the people onto the streets for that is the only way to achieve anything. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, we must fight for it.
    Incidentally, why the high US Administration profile on missile shields and armament at a time that the world is looking for peace and stability? See how easy it is to bring 43 heads of state to Paris! Why couldn’t Washington do that? It would have solved the Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Israeli – Palestinian issues, and saved the US billions, and people wouldn’t be evicted so often! Don’t take it to heart, it’s only politics, after all!
    Will US-EU, Iran talks in Geneva succeed? Doubtful, but it won’t hurt trying.
    A last ditch stand by President George Bush to retrieve something from his eight year term. It’s a brave move, but too little, too late.

    118 steve

  141. 141 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 17:15


    It’s just not useful to ask ME about what wages are “sufficient,” for what people, doing what job, in what place, or how they should arrange their living space, because I don’t know. I don’t think I CAN know, or that you can. How could we be so arrogant as to instruct others how to go about their lives? Unless they’re robbing or hurting people, it’s not my business.

    I don’t point to one household and say, Bad, too crowded, or another and say, bad, too much space. I don’t have a golden formula that informs me of how much space anyone “should” have. The idea strikes me as more than a bit strange. When we decide where to live, we make choices about how important various factors are to us, like location, weather, size, view, etc. There’s always a trade-off. You can get a big house with a longer commute to work, or a small one in a snazzy neighborhood, or a loft in an edgy industrial area…. you know what I mean. Obviously the guys you’re talking about have the discipline to live in crowded conditions so they can send more money back home to their families. That’s surely admirable behavior, typical of immigrants and rare among those of us who were born here; we are not famous for denying ourselves comfort.

    Your question should really be asked of the men themselves, except that it would be kind of redundant. They’re answering it already, not with words, but by the fact that they are living and woorking here rather than in Mexico. If they could have found a better life in Mexico, they would surely be there. They are here. They are better off for it. We are better off by it too. They make vastly more money than they could in Mexico, and we get our shrubs trimmed, roofs tiled, dishes washed, etc., at a price we can comfortably afford. This is what’s known as a “win-win” situation. As I think I sasked before, What’s the problem?

    Your last question I just can’t make sense of: “If it were possible to earn wages that are earned by immigrants, keep a family…..don’t you think that more American families would do so?” Sorry. Maybe you could rephrase it.

  142. July 16, 2008 at 17:24

    The Isrealis should have said, ” thanks for our dead prisoners. Here is your hero, he was alive a few minutes ago, when we thought you wanted to exchange live prisoners. ”

    Also I think we should resume the attack on Lebannon, because the reason we stopped was that we thought you wanted to give us back our soldiers alive. Sorry about the misunderstanding. This next time we will be more serious about our attack.

    Arrest all Hezbolla weirdos and export them back to Iran or the Americans will finally start helping us with your terrorist problem. The Americans are still upset with the Hezbolla crowd when they were trying to help stabilize Lebonnan and Hezbolla blew up the Marine Barracks. Lot’s of old Marines still seething about that and looking for payback.


  143. 143 Roberto
    July 16, 2008 at 17:58

    The Americans are still upset with the Hezbolla crowd when they were trying to help stabilize Lebonnan and Hezbolla blew up the Marine Barracks. Lot’s of old Marines still seething about that and looking for payback.

    ——- Here’s one American who would first like to lay my hands on the Command that stationed a single soldier to guard the flimsy gate while hundreds of marines were stacked like cordwood in sleeping quarters just a stone throw away.

    Many of those fat cat generals and such still around waving flags in luxious retirement when they should’ve faced a military court martial the next day and a firing squad the day after that.

  144. 144 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 18:11


    Wow, Bush and Ahmadinejad, huh. Well, they do have the same beady little eyes, don’t they….

    But Ahmadinejad is far more articulate; an intellectual (and apparently a naive one). He sent Bush a letter that was like 20 pages long! Imagine anyone thinking Bush could or would read 20 pages of anything, let alone philosophy. It’s rather touching.

    Anyway they’re both mad as march hares, that much is evident. And neither one won a proper election.

  145. 145 steve
    July 16, 2008 at 18:15

    @ Jonathan

    Maybe Ahadminejad wrote 19 or those 20 pages about how Iran has no homosexuals “like you do”? Some intellectual!

  146. 146 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 18:25

    Steve, I didn’t read the 20 pages, and what I did read was a bit… how to say…. tangled in places. But he did talk about IDEAS, which is what I think leaders ought to talk about. Or at least be able to talk about.

  147. 147 Jens
    July 16, 2008 at 18:27

    i think it is futile to compare bush and mr cheapsuit.

    i am not a bush fan but compared to that muppet, bush is a shining star of rationality, morality and intelligence.

    oh well my 2 cents.

  148. 148 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 16, 2008 at 19:31


    I’m halfway through a great description of our economy and the “crisis” etc. but I’m suddenly busy for now. Check this space in a few hours (or more) and I will provide a sweeping and compelling post, for you; how’s that?

  149. July 17, 2008 at 05:53

    Hi Jonathan in Sunny Frisco
    Akbar here in Tehran
    Still waiting.
    I just heard Washington may be setting up an interest section in Tehran.
    You may even consider a week-end trip to Iran, perhaps?

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