Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sands Of Passion - Episode 1

As many of you have no doubt observed, my real life has intruded upon both blog reading and blog writing of late. So if anyone already called attention to this, my apologies.

Friday, June 25, 2010

When is incompetence an asset?

The story is that the Clinton administration’s mangling of the Wen Ho Lee espionage case raised the racial consciousness of the Asian-American community, which perversely but inevitably redounded to the benefit of the Democrat party.

I will make the prediction that the Obama administration’s incompetent response to the BP oil spill will raise the environmental consciousness of the Gulf states, which will perversely but inevitably redound to the benefit of the Democrat party.

I wonder if either president knew these things in advance, and if that partly explains their behavior.

Obama in particular has made a political career of “failing upwards.”

Mrs. Φ’s Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe

“Fireman’s” meat marinate:

- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 cups vinegar
- 1/4 cup salt (I know it sounds like a lot.  Trust us.)
- 1 1/2 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp McCormick's poultry seasoning
- 1 tbsp paprika
- Top off with water to 1 quart

Alternatively, Grill Mates makes perfectly adequate marinate mixes. Try the "Zesty Herb", "Chipotle Pepper", or our favorite "Mesquite".

Marinate boneless-skinless chicken breast for 1 hour, 2 hours tops, and grill/p>

Salad Dressing:

- White Wine Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar or Balsamic Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Lowery's garlic salt
- Favorite salad fixings. We like diced avocado, grape tomatoes, olives, and feta, blue, or asiago cheese.
- Marinate together for 1/2 hour.

Alternatively, you can marinate your salad fixings in a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette dressing or some-such.

Toss romaine and baby spinach into dressing and add grilled chicken slices.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fisking Mrs. Bauer

Susan Wise Bauer has written a multi-volume history curriculum called The Story of the World:  History for the Classical Child.  For some reason, this curriculum has gained wide use among Christian homeschoolers.  Several of the homeschooling families of our acquaintance have used it, so when Mrs. Φ went researching curricula we should use for our children, she chose this one.

I can’t claim to be an expert in history, but I have sufficient interest in the subject to make it a subject of our dinnertime conversation, which often begins with me asking, “So, Γ, what did you learn in history today?”  And what I heard in reply began to disturb me more and more.

The first problem was that my daughter didn’t seem to be learning the dates of the events she was learning about.  Now, I know that my parents’ generation grew up to complain about how all they learned in history was “a list of dates,” but I don’t believe that history need be reduced to that in order for students to place the events they study in, say, the correct decade of the 20th century, or the nearest half-century for events of the last 500 years.  I don’t think it is inappropriate for me to expect this, given that dates are important ways of ordering events and grasping their relationships.  But when I asked Γ, “when did so-and-so happen?” I would typically get dumb looks.

More generally, however, I began to notice that the stories she would tell me followed a distinctly left-wing narrative.  Europeans bad; Third-Worlders oppressed; corporations bad; whites bad; southerners bad; civil-rights activists good; etc.  Lots of material on, say, Martin Luther King, Sacajawea, and Harriet Tubman; nothing on the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison.  It’s not so much that what she was learning was wrong; rather, it was that in any conflict, she was typically learning only one side of the story, and learning it in a way that lent itself to moral polemic.

I didn’t really worry too much about this for the first couple of years.  After all, part of the point of our dinner-time conversations were to give her a fuller understanding of the events she studied, but also an opportunity to encourage her to read critically and do her own research.  But finally, one chapter’s historical account was so egregiously one-sided that I had to make an issue of it.

As I mentioned two posts ago, Γ learned about the Bhopal disaster in the context of India’s post-independence history.  Here, in full, is Mrs. Bauer’s account of that accident:

An American company called the Union Carbide Corporation had built a factory in the center of India, at a city called Bhopal.  At its factory, Union Carbide made pesticides – chemicals to kill insects on crops and grasses.  Just after midnight on December 3, 1984, poisonous gases began to leak out of the storage tanks at the Union Carbide factory.

No one in Bhopal knew what was happening.  At first, some people thought the Sikhs were to blame again!

But what was to blame was a faulty tank at Union Carbide.  Twenty-seven tons of a poison called methyl isocyanate escaped from the tank.  According to Union Carbide, at least three thousand people died that night from the poisonous gases.  People from Bhopal say that the number was much greater – that as many as fifteen thousand died.

No one knows exactly how many people died later, from sicknesses caused by the gasses.  But at least another 150 thousand people, and maybe over half a million, were made horribly sick by the gases.  Thousands never recovered.  The Bhopal gas leak was the worst “industrial disaster” (a disaster caused by factories or manufacturing) in all of history, before or since.

Even now, over twenty years later, the ground and water at Bhopal are still full of poison.  Union Carbide never cleaned the mess up.

Indian investigators blamed the gas leak on sloppy safety procedures, and said that Union Carbide had not made sure that the storage tanks were secure because it would have cost too much money.  None of the warning systems or safety systems at the plant were actually working at the time of the leak!  Union Carbide, which is now part of an even bigger American company called Dow Chemical, insisted (and still insists) that the Bhopal tragedy had been caused by sabotage.  Someone had deliberately arranged for the gas leak.

The highest court of Bhopal demanded that the American DEO come to Bhopal and take part in a court hearing.  He refused.  He is still considered a fugitive by Indian law, even today.  And even today, twenty years later, many groups of protestors still campaign for justice for Bhopal.

It’s easy to see what the intended take-away of this lesson is:  an American company killed thousands of Indians and then walked away.  The problem is, this isn’t even close to being true.

The very first sentence in Mrs. Bauer’s account is, technically, a lie.  The Bhopal plant was not owned by UCC, but by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), an Indian company in which UCC owned 51% of the stock.  This was actually an important point made by the American federal courts when they referred post-Bhopal litigation to the jurisdiction of the Indian courts.  If Mrs. Bauer wishes to complain that the concept of limited liability in corporate law lets evil-doers off the hook, she should (a) make that point directly and (b) consider whether or not she wishes to be held personally liable for the actions of the companies in which her pension plans own stock.

Going through the Wikipedia article, we learn that UCC did, in fact, pay a lot in damages.  In addition to relatively minor charitable contributions toward victim relief:

  • When UCC wanted to sell its shares in UCIL, it was directed by the Indian Supreme Court to finance a 500-bed hospital for the medical care of the survivors.  $90 million from that sale ultimately went to create the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC), which opened in 1998.  The hospital was “obliged to give free care for survivors for eight years,” although it is not clear if the operations of the hospital were funded by UCC outside of the $90 million initial contribution, nor can I find out what percentage of the sale’s proceeds were constituted by that $90 million.
  • In 1999, a settlement was reached under which UCC agreed to pay US$470 million (the insurance sum, plus interest) in a full and final settlement of its civil and criminal liability.

Was this enough?  There are a lot of claims and counter-claims swirling the controversy that bear upon the extent, such as it is, of UCC’s moral responsibility for the accident.  But at the end of the day, the legal settlement was what it was.  Mrs. Bauer’s insinuation that the events of 1984 are now somehow Dow Chemical’s fault is, again, left-wing agitation at its worst.

Likewise is her mention of Warren Anderson, erstwhile CEO of UCC.  What she doesn’t tell us is that Warren Anderson went to India immediately following the accident, was arrested, and promptly thrown out of the country.  While it is true that the Indian courts at some point reinstated charges against him, it is also true that the Indian government is not actually requesting his extradition.  Should Warren Anderson be held criminally liable for whether the Indian workers at one of his subsidiaries were following proper safety procedures?  I keep coming back to that story about the UA vo-tech school as indicative of the kind of justice Anderson would receive if he ever went back to India.

None of this is to make light of how ungodly awful this disaster was for the Indian people.  But it is illustrative how Mrs. Bauer makes selective use of facts to lend to historical events a moral narrative that those events almost never possess.  If history is to be given such a moral narrative, then I would much rather that narrative be one that encouraged, rather than discouraged, pride in her country and its civilization.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Women of Reykjavik

. . . ‘cause you know I have the interests of my readers at heart!


Actually, these aren’t Icelandic.  IIRC, they are Spanish and Italian, graduate students “volunteering” at our conference.

South Africa

Still not Icelandic.  This particular girl is English – South African, a graduate student at the University of Johannesburg.

France My incompetent, surreptitious photography doesn’t really do this one justice.  I’m pretty sure she is the wife of one of the attendees.  And no, she’s not Icelandic.  She’s French.  There were a lot of French girls at the conference, few of which I had the nerve to photograph.


This young woman, a graduate student in environmental studies at the University of Iceland, had a job catering the conference food and beverage.  She wasn’t an attendee, and she’s not Icelandic.  She’s Russian, who came to Iceland after marrying an Icelandic man who himself was a visiting student in Russia.


Fooled you again!  There are approximately 100 Brazilians among Reykjavik’s population of 300K.  This one worked at the Brasilia Restaurant, the best value in food I had while I was there.  IIRC, she visited Iceland and wound up marrying an Icelander.  There was another Brazilian waitress at the restaurant with more obviously Afro-Brazilian features.


Well, if you adjust for age, and considering that the conference selects for brains not beauty, then this Croat-Canadian doesn’t come off too badly.

Okay, I’ve strung y’all along far enough.  Here, for your viewing pleasure, are the real women of Iceland:

BluLagoon Staff

This is a sampling of the staff at the Blu Lagoon, a geothermal hot springs known for the milky blue color of its water.  The minerals and bacteria in the water are supposed to be excellent exfoliates.

In no particular order:

Saga1 Saga2 ShopGirls Russia1 Videy2

Meet the Eloi

“I see from your conference nametag that y’all are from South Africa.  Whereabouts?”

“We’re from the University of Johannesburg.”  [Pronounced, as it turns out, “Jo-HAN”, not “Yo-HÄN”.]

“Johannesburg!  I’ve heard that’s a, um, rough neighborhood.”

“Well, no, no more than Rio or Mexico City.  Anyway, it’s only violent crime.”  [As near as I could tell, this last bit was in dead earnest.]

“Last summer, I saw a movie set in Johannesburg.  It’s name was, ah . . . “

District 9!”

“That’s the one.  So, anyway, as you know, one of the themes of the movie is the presence of Nigerian gangs operating in South Africa, and were here portrayed as preying on the alien refugees.”

“Well . . . yes, it’s true that Nigerians are heavily involved in organized crime in South Africa . . . .   Hey, a really good movie about South Africa is out now called Invictus, about how Nelson Mandela intervened to save the Springboks, the national rugby team, to which Boers are fanatically loyal.”

“I saw that movie.  You know, you would have a better perspective on this, of course, but as an outsider, my impression is that Nelson Mandela understands – in a way that, as a counterexample, Mugabe of Zimbabwe does not understand – that the future of his country requires him to give the white population a reason for staying rather than drive them out in a fit of nationalistic fervor.”

“Mmmm . . . actually, I would say that’s a better description of the motivations of South Africa’s current president.  In Mandela’s case, I believe he wanted South Africa to accommodate its white minority because it was the right thing to do.  Our second president, Mbeki, was an academic and not really that bad except he was an AIDS denialist.  South Africa is on its third president now, Jacob Zuma, who is much more a standard politician.  But yes, he recognizes the importance of preserving the centers of wealth creation.  Of course, not all of those are white nowadays.”

“I saw another movie about South Africa just recently.  Disgrace.”

[Eye-roll]  “Oh yes, that one.”

“You’ve seen it?”

“No, but the book was required reading in school.  It’s a book guaranteed to put children off of literature forever.”

“Yes, both the book and the movie are thematically dark.”

“The end of apartheid has been rough on South African literature as all their doomsday predictions haven’t materialized.”

“So, looking at your last names [examining nametags] I take it that y’all are English South Africans, not Afrikaners?”

“Yes . . . by background.”

“Well, hey, it was great meeting y’all.”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Dinner with India

At our conference banquet in Iceland (about which I will write more in later posts) I had a lengthy conversation with an Indian student at a university in Taiwan.  I will call him R.  After discussing our respective research, we turned to personal matters.

“What made you decide to pursue your education in Taiwan?”

“There was better opportunity in Taiwan.  Indian university admissions are intensely political, and the schools enforce admissions quotas against members of the higher castes.  For instance, in order to gain admission to a university a Brahmin would have to score in the 99.9th percentile on [standardized tests], whereas a lower caste Indian could gain admission at only the 70th percentile.  So attending school in India would have been very difficult for me.”

“That sounds . . . familiar,” I observed.  “So how easy has it been for you to integrate, um, socially into a Chinese society?”

R smiled.  “Yeah, I can get dates without much problem.”  [I believe this.  R was very affable and outgoing.]  But I’m very philosophical about romantic relationships.  I believe that if you ask a woman why she loves you, and she replies, ‘I love you because . . . ,’ then it’s not really love.  True love is without reason.

“But my experience has been that Chinese culture is much more tolerant of outsiders than American culture.  I have much more freedom to express my individuality than I would have in the U.S.”

“I’m surprised to hear you say that,” I said.  “The usual cliché is that Anglo Saxon culture is much more devoted, if not to individuality, then to individualism, than Confucian culture, which is perceived to be much more collectivist.”

“Ah ha!” R replied.  “That is only true internally.  Yes, Anglo Saxon culture does permit much more individuality among its own members than Chinese society does among its members.  But it also expects much more conformity of outsiders than does Chinese culture.”

I then asked him a history question.  My daughter’s history curriculum covered India’s post-independence history, which it distilled into two events:  the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the Bhopal chemical leak.  In the context of fisking this chapter (about which I will write more in a future post), I had done some independent research into this latter topic.

“I have two questions,” I began.  “You may be aware that activists who still concern themselves with this matter 25 years later point to, among other things, an act passed by the Indian Congress a few months after the accident that gave the Indian government sole authority to sue UCIL for damages.  The activists complain that his effectively prevented individuals harmed by the poison gas leak to sue Union Carbide.  My question is:  why did the Indian Congress do this?”

“The reasoning was that the typical Indian was too poor and uneducated to make effective use of the courts.  The government believed it was doing them a favor by undertaking litigation on their behalf.”

“Second question,” I continued, “Here’s an event I’m struggling to understand.  After the disaster, for no-doubt a mix of reasons, Union Carbide made a donation to the University of Arizona for the purpose of building a vocational school in Bhopal, although some sources call it a rehabilitation center.  UA did, in fact, build the school and begin classes there, but when the Indian government learned that the school was built with with Union Carbide money, it seized the property, closed the school, and bulldozed it to the ground.  None of the sources explain why they did this, but the insinuation is that it was simply raw hatred of Union Carbide and all its works.”

“I was not aware of this specific story,” R replied, “but it doesn’t surprise me.  Given the scope of the disaster, the popular anger at Union Carbide was intense, and the lower-classes of Indian society, to whom politicians usually appeal, are given over to just these kinds of passions.”

“What did you think of the movie Slumdog Millionaire?”

“It’s a much more accurate portrayal of Indian society 20 – 30 years ago than it is today.”

The discussion turned for a while to the general indifference to education among the majority of Indians.  Somebody told a story they had seen on the news about an Indian woman who had 17 children, yet her income was only $100 per month.

“How many brothers and sisters do you have?” I asked him.

“One sister,” R replied.

“Okay, so on the one hand, there is this “uneducated” [I really didn’t want to get into a discussion of IQ] woman with 17 children, none of whom go to school.  On the other there is your family, educated professionals with two children, and you left.  Can you see where this is heading?  What does this mean for India’s future in the medium run?”

“Nothing good,” he admitted.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What if you don’t like it? (Wherein Φ betrays his middle class betatude)

A visit by the grandparents is always a great opportunity to take Mrs. Φ on a dinner date.  Unlike Sheila’s deadbeat in-law, mine are actively involved with the children (a convenient side effect of which is that by the end of the week, they’re ready to go home).

Last night we went out to an Italian restaurant called the Brio Tuscan Grille.  (Class fail #1:  chain restaurants.)  The Brio is at about the price-point that I’m willing to go there for a date but not willing to take the children.  Happily, most people must hold the same opinion, because we didn’t see any other children there either.

I had had a large, and late, lunch, so when we took our table at 6:15 (Class fail #2:  early dinner), I was determined to eat light.  Bread came first, of course, and I ordered a bowl of excellent lobster bisque as an appetizer.  The entree was a while in coming, so I had lots of bread and bisque by the time I received my Mediterranean Chicken Salad.

The salad was utterly flavorless.  What’s shocking about this is that grilled chicken on romaine and baby spinach with black olives, avocadoes, and tomatoes is one of my favorite meals when Mrs. Φ prepares it at home, as she does once or twice a week.  But here it tasted like a coleslaw mix without any vinegar.  I added salt and pepper with no noticeable effect.

“Mmmm . . . ,” Mrs. Φ said over her ravioli-looking dish.  “How’s yours?”

“Awful,” I replied honestly.  I tasted hers and it was indeed delicious.

“Are you enjoying your meal?” our waitress server asked breezily.  “Mine’s good, but my husband doesn’t like his,” Mrs. Φ  piped up.  I described my reaction, and she put on a concerned look as she asked, “is there anything you would like instead?”

“Let me try it with the parmesan cheese,” I said.  So they grated some parm on the salad.  No help.  “Maybe Caesar dressing would help it,” Mrs. Φ offered.  They brought Caesar dressing, which I added liberally.  No help, and by now I had a thoroughly bastardized concoction in front of me that even my dog wouldn’t eat.

Now, I was 90% sure that the Brio’s offers of another entree were intended gratis, but I agonized over accepting it.  I had, after all, received exactly what I had ordered, and even though I hated the thought that I had bought something I didn’t want, I also hated imposing my lack of appreciation on the restaurant.  So I said to the server, “I appreciate all the help you’ve given me tonight, and . . . I’ll be fine.”  This last bit must have been pretty pained, because the manager soon came out to talk with us.

“Sir, I’d like to treat you to our Chicken Orzo.  It’s my personal favorite salad.”

“Okay,” I mumbled, “but only a small one.”  (I was by this time thrown off the idea of eating anything else.)  When the orzo came, I was as complimentary as I could manage, but most of it when it went into a doggie bag to-go box (Class fail #14:  taking restaurant food home).  As I discovered at lunch today, the leftover orzo salad really was first rate, but I needed more of an appetite to appreciate it.

Brio didn’t charge me for the Mediterranean, and only charge half price for the Orzo (even though I had specified “small”, the salad still looked pretty big).  Verdict:  two thumbs up.  Pleasant atmosphere, no children, great service, reasonably good food.  Just don’t order the Mediterranean Chicken Salad.

Have We Gone Soft?

Cold Equations, discussing the Omaha Race Riot, writes:

Nowadays, the crime that inspired this riot would barely be newsworthy. Sites like American Renaissance post six cases like that before breakfast. Nobody cares except for some grumpy racialists. The idea that whites would react like this seems absurd now, but there it was.

A few possibilities:

  • “Whites”, in this instance, is misleading.  According to Wikipedia, the rioters were drawn from Irish and Eastern European immigrant communities.  I’m not an expert on the period, but I would speculate that their posture in regards to the WASP establishment (Omaha’s mayor was named Edward Parsons Smith, a WASP name if there ever was one) was not unlike contemporary black attitudes toward whites today.  For instance, WASP industrialists were using blacks as strikebreakers, and the rioters may not have believed that justice would be forthcoming from the establishment.
  • We’re richer now, and can afford more morality.  The working class was hard pressed back then in a manner that we can only imagine in the era of the welfare state.  Today we have more to lose by engaging in extrajudicial violence.
  • A corollary of the first two is a "woman shortage"; and one potentially more severe than what we face now. Again, I have no specific knowledge of this, but I'm pretty sure that men were overrepresented among turn-of-the-last-century immigrants. Combine poverty with outsider status and I would expect that a great many men in Omaha had neither a wife nor good prospects for obtaining one. Thus, news that one of "them" had forcibly poached one of "our" women would have had a much bigger psychological impact in 1919 than in 2010.
  • Whites are in the final stages of decadence, and can no longer be roused to collectively defend ourselves.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The E-Verify Database

New to the blogroll is a link to the E-Verify database, courtesy of NumbersUSA. E-Verify is a DHS program whereby a business can check a worker's citizenship and/or immigration status and confirm his eligibility for lawful employment in the United States. The database at the first link allows you to check to see if a business is using E-Verify.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The History of Terror in One Easy Lesson

A friend in the Armed Forces sent me this list of terrorist incidents, allegedly taken from government anti-terrorism training.  With a few of my own additions:

Historical Example





Fort Hood Shooting 2009 Fort Hood, TX Nidal Malik Hasan Automatic Weapons Fire

M/V Maersk Alabama


Off the Coast of Somalia

Somali Pirates

Ship Boarding / Hostage Taking

Christmas Day Bomber 2009 Detroit, MI Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab PETN Explosives

Mumbai Terrorist Attacks


Mumbai, India


Assault Weapons / IEDs

Serena Hotel


Kabul, Afghanistan


Vehicle-Borne IED, Suicide Vest, Automatic Weapons Fire, Grenades

Islamabad Marriott Bombing


Islamabad, Pakistan

Harkatul Jehadul (Suspected)

Vehicle-Borne/Backpack IED (Suicide Bombing)

Fort Dix Plot


Fort Dix, NJ

Muslim Extremist Terrorist Cell

Automatic Weapons Fire

London Subway Bombing


London, England

Muslim Extremists
(possibly linked to Al-Qaeda)

Backpack IED
(Suicide Bombing)

Thomas Hamill


Balad, Iraq

Multiple Insurgent Groups

Hostage Holding

Madrid Subway Bombing


Madrid, Spain

Muslim Extremists
(possibly linked to Al-Qaeda)

Backpack IED

Camp Pennsylvania


Camp Pennsylvania Kuwait

Hasan Karim Akbar

Grenades, Weapons Fire

DC Sniper


Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C.

John Allen Muhammad, Lee Boyd Malvo

High-Powered Rifle/Sniper

Bali Nightclub Bombing


Bali, Indonesia

Jemaah Islamiyah

Vehicle-Borne/Backpack IED (Suicide Bombing)

Paradise Hotel and Civilian Airline Attack


Mombasa, Kenya

Al-Ittihad al Islamiya With Al-Qaeda Support

Vehicle-Borne IED, Surface-To-Air Missiles

Los Angeles Airport Shooting 2002 LAX, CA Hesham Mohamed Hadayet Small Arms Fire

Singapore Plot



Al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, Moro Islamic Liberation Front

Explosives Comprised of Ammonia Nitrate

US Anthrax Attacks


New York, NY
Washington, D.C.
Boca Raton, FL


Biological Weapon

Shoe Bomber 2001 Paris, France Richard Reid C-4 Explosives

United Flight 93


Shanksville, PA


Skyjacking of passenger jet liner

USS Cole


Aden Harbor, Yemen


Vessel-Borne IED (Suicide Bombing)

African Embassy Bombings


Nairobi, Kenya
El Salaam, Tanzania


Vehicle-Borne IED (Suicide Bombing)

Deir el-Bahri


Luxor, Egypt

Al-Gamd'a al-Isamiyya &
Jihad Talaat al-Faith

Automatic Weapons Fire

Japanese Ambassador's Residence


Lima, Peru

Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)

Hostage Holding

Khobar Towers


Dahran, Saudi Arabia

Dahran, Saudi Arabia

Vehicle-Borne IED

Tokyo Subway Attack


Tokyo, Japan

Aum Shinrikyo

Chemical Weapon

Oklahoma City Bombing


Oklahoma City, OK

Timothy McVeigh

Vehicle-Borne IED

World Trade Center Bombing 1993 New York City, NY Ramzi Yousef, et al. urea nitrate-hydrogen explosion
CIA HQ Shooting 1993 Langley, VA Mir Aimal Kasi Automatic Weapons Fire

CAPT Nordeen


Athens, Greece

November 17 (N-17)

Vehicle-Borne IED

Pan Am 103 1988 Lockerbie, Scotland Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi Explosives

La Belle Discotheque


Berlin, Germany

Libyan and Syrian

Suitcase IED

Edward Pimental


Rhein-Main, Germany

Red Army Faction

Vehicle-Borne IED

Zona Rosa


San Salvador, El Salvador

Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front

Small Arms Fire

TWA Flight 847


Athens, Greece

Lebanese Radicals

Skyjacking of
passenger jet liner

Achille Lauro 1985 Egypt Palestine Liberation Front Cruise ship hijacking

Terry Anderson


Beirut, Lebanon

Hezbollah (with
Iranian Support)

Hostage Holding

Marine Barracks Bombing


Beirut, Lebanon

Islamic Jihad
Organization (under
direction of Iran)

Vehicle-Borne IED
(Suicide Bombing)

CAPT Tsantes


Athens, Greece

November 17 (N-17)

Gunshot from
Passing Motorcycle

Albert Shaufelberger


San Salvador, El Salvador

Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional

Small Arms Fire

General Dozier (part 1)


Verona, Italy

Red Brigade


General Dozier (part 2)


Padua, Italy

Red Brigade

Hostage Holding

Stockholm Syndrome


Stockholm, Sweden

Jan Erik Olsson

Hostage Holding

For those of you keeping score at home, I count 29/42 perpetrated by Muslims, 9/42 by communists (the last being in 1996), and 4 miscellaneous. 

A few quibbles:  Dozier gets counted twice.  We can quibble about whether the insurgent attacks in Iraq (combined under “Thomas Hamill”) are appropriate on this list.  Finally, I’m not sure what Aum Shinrikyo is doing here.  If we’re going to count terrorism by foreigners against foreigners on foreign soil, the list would necessarily be a lot longer.

On the other hand, the original list neglected several:  the Christmas Day Bomber, the Fort Hood shooting, the Los Angeles Airport Shooting, the Shoe Bomber, the 1993 WTC bombing, the CIA HQ shooting, the Lockerbie bombing, and the Achille Lauro hijacking.  Weird.

Still, though, a pretty comprehensive look at who our enemies are.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Religion of Peace? Or Mere Gangsterism?

Via AmericaBlog, a video example of Taliban justice in Pakistan.

The internet has its full quota of shock and horror at this video, so let me offer a different thought: by Taliban standards, this girl got off easy. My understanding is that Islamic law calls for death by stoning of alleged adulteresses, and those so accused are routinely murdered by their families even in Western countries. Yet this girl escaped with only a beating, and one she could walk away from.

It's an old story at this point, but somewhere I read an alternative narrative: the girl had rejected the advances of a Taliban warlord. So the accusation of “an illegal sexual relationship” was his revenge.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Parenthood on Adultery

In episode 10, the adult children confront Zeek about his financial woes stemming from a bad real estate investment. For some reason, they do this in front of his wife Camille, who is predictably upset. In her anger, she reveals what we had long suspected: Zeek had an affair.

The show is remarkably honest about how the dynamics of this play out. Camille had turned a blind eye to the affair while she believed Zeek to be financially successful. But, a few years after the affair had already run its course, and Zeek is on the rocks financially, now the affair becomes her justification for putting him out of the house.

In an era in which no-fault divorce is a moral norm, obviously Camille can divorce Zeek for any reason or no reason. But to those who, like me, believe that adultery is a singular justification for divorce, I ask you: is there a "statute of limitations" beyond which an affair can't be considered the real reason for divorce, as opposed to a mere pretext?