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Kim Jong-il eats pizza

Kim Jong-il, aka 'The Dear Leader', is a despot who lives in a world of luxury while presiding over famines, poverty and despair. Not to mentioning being responsible for kidnappping, blowing up a civilian airplane, and having a ridiculous perm

Apparently, he is something of a superhuman, for example writing six operas in two years and - when he was born - "The event was reportedly marked by a double rainbow, and a bright star in the sky." (BBC).

The personality cult of the Kims in North Korea is in many ways a reproduction of pre-existing religious practices - photos are treated with the reverence of religious icons and/or ancestral tablets and his presence is (reportedly) an occasion for emotional outbursts.

Not much to laugh about there, really, but this comment by an Italian chef made me laugh:
In 2004, he described to the BBC how he had given lessons to three army officers who took copious notes and asked detailed questions such as how far apart olives should be placed on each pizza.

Mr Furlanis said Kim Jong-il may even have visited one of the training sessions, being held on a ship anchored offshore.

"I am not in the position to say whether it really was him, but our chef, who had no reason to fib, was, for the space of several minutes, utterly speechless," Mr Furlanis said.

"He said he felt as if he had seen God, and I still envy him this experience." (BBC, emphasis added)

Hehe :-D

The Waste of War

I came across an article recently on BBC, and the bitter irony of it struck me...

Basically, after the recent massacre in Gaza, a UN team and (separately) Hamas operatives went around collecting unexploded ordnance - it was all stored in a
" site in Gaza City where more than 7,000kg of explosives was being housed.

It included three 2,000-pound bombs and eight 500-pound bombs, which had all been dropped from aircraft but failed to explode.

There was also a large number of 155mm shells for delivering the incendiary chemical white phosphorus.(BBC:17/02/09)

The UN was waiting for permission and special tools from the Israelis to be able to dispose of them, but
"On Sunday, when UN officials returned to the warehouse, which was under a Hamas police guard, they say they found most of the explosives had gone missing.

Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the stockpile had been "commandeered by Hamas"." (ibid.)

Well - it hardly surprises me.

Imagine: there's all this lethal equipment that was meant to kill your people, and only by luck did not go off. Then, after collecting it you're meant to guard it, waiting on the permission from the people who dropped in on you in the first place, so that it can be taken from you and destroyed... It's just grotesque! :-(

On a related matter, there's an interesting letter/article written by King Abdullah of Jordan in 1947 called "As The Arabs See The Jews". It's worth reading for some historical perspective - here are couple of choice quotes:
"I was puzzled for a long time about the odd belief which apparently persists in America that Palestine has somehow "always been a Jewish land." Recently an American I talked to cleared up this mystery. He pointed out that the only things most Americans know about Palestine are what they read in the Bible. It was a Jewish land in those days, they reason, and they assume it has always remained so.
Only once, during the empire of David and Solomon, did the Jews ever control nearly—but not all—the land which is today Palestine. This empire lasted only 70 years, ending in 926 BC. Only 250 years later the Kingdom of Judah had shrunk to a small province around Jerusalem, barely a quarter of modern Palestine.

In 63 BC the Jews were conquered by Roman Pompey, and never again had even the vestige of independence. The Roman Emperor Hadrian finally wiped them out about 135 AD. He utterly destroyed Jerusalem, rebuilt under another name, and for hundreds of years no Jew was permitted to enter it. A handful of Jews remained in Palestine but the vast majority were killed or scattered to other countries, in the Diaspora, or the Great Dispersion. From that time Palestine ceased to be a Jewish country, in any conceivable sense.

This was 1,815 years ago, and yet the Jews solemnly pretend they still own Palestine! If such fantasy were allowed, how the map of the world would dance about!

Italians might claim England, which the Romans held so long. England might claim France, "homeland" of the conquering Normans. And the French Normans might claim Norway, where their ancestors originated. And incidentally, we Arabs might claim Spain, which we held for 700 years."

And another - remember that this was written in 1947, before Israel was founded and not long after the end of the Second World War
"We are told that we are inhumane and heartless because do not accept with open arms the perhaps 200,000 Jews in Europe who suffered so frightfully under Nazi cruelty, and who even now—almost three years after war’s end—still languish in cold, depressing camps.

Let me underline several facts. The unimaginable persecution of the Jews was not done by the Arabs: it was done by a Christian nation in the West. The war which ruined Europe and made it almost impossible for these Jews to rehabilitate themselves was fought by the Christian nations of the West. The rich and empty portions of the earth belong, not to the Arabs, but to the Christian nations of the West.

And yet, to ease their consciences, these Christian nations of the West are asking Palestine—a poor and tiny Moslem country of the East—to accept the entire burden. "We have hurt these people terribly," cries the West to the East. "Won’t you please take care of them for us?"

But we say that Palestine has already sheltered 600,000 refugees. We believe that is enough to expect of us—even too much. We believe it is now the turn of the rest of the world to accept some of them."

Just in case you're wondering - my stance on the Israeli-Palestine conflict is that I think an injustice was done by forcing Israel on the Palestinians, but it cannot be reversed now. They need to live side by side in a two-state solution that rests on the pre-1967 borders, and perhaps some land swaps for the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Silver transformations

30 pieces of silver
sent one man on his way
dispensed by fearful theocrats
sneering as their hired help
danced in fateful jerks

and now a philosopher’s stone
transforms the state of silver
engineered by frantic alchemists
preening with their captured help
shapeshifting like quicksilver

Good riddance to the Shrub

Bush is soon to go, and while I'm no believer in Obama ushering in Nirvana, I’ll be glad to see the back of that blithering idiot...

Here are some nuggets from the brain(?) of that sample of the worst America has to offer – ignorance, cultural imperialism, bigotism, and guns...
"As governor of Texas, I have set high standards for our public schools, and I have met those standards."
CNN, 30 August, 2000

"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."
Reuters, 5 May, 2000

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."
Saginaw, Michigan, 29 September, 2000

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."
Washington DC, 12 May, 2008 (“A look at some of George W Bush's best 'Bushisms'”)

But the one that struck me the most was
"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."
CBS News, Washington DC, 6 September, 2006 (ibid.)

Continue reading "Good riddance to the Shrub"

I eat once a day

Well, not me – fortunately I get to stuff my face with home-baked bread and delicious Malaysian food every day.

However, not everyone is so fortunate… This is Ahmed Mohamed Abdul who was a truck driver in Somalia, but had to leave because of the violence there. He came to Yemen and now ekes a living washing cars, making RM5-8 each day.

"I eat once a day, twice if I have earned good money," he said.

"In the morning I eat two pieces of bread with vegetables, and at night, if there's money, I eat bread again with tea.” (BBC)

God is American (and hates Liberals)

I have a terrible secret... I am subscribed to the Human Events newsletter :-O

OK, maybe that doesn't mean much to most Malaysians, but no doubt for American bloggers that would mark me out as a foaming-at-the -mouth right-wing conservative. These are the people who say that McCain "thinks like a liberal" and he is
very disappointing on opposing tough, life-saving interrogation techniques, in wanting to close down Gitmo, and in favoring constitutional protections for enemy combatants.
Only liberals think like that. Only liberal instincts tell us that if we are tough on them, they'll be tougher on us -- as if they need any excuse to be barbaric toward us. They just are. (Limbaugh)

Damn Al-Qaeda loving pussy liberals! Opposing torture - what an idea!

Any way, one of the writers there is Ann Coulter, famous for saying (amongst other inanities) "I don't think I've ever encountered an attractive liberal woman in my entire life.", "It would be a much better country if women did not vote." (yes, she is a woman), and "As soon as the poor start paying their fair share of the tax burden, they'll get a tax cut too." (cited here)

...back to the nationality of God, here is the wonderful example of jingoistic nonsense she started her latest article with:
Last Friday, on the Fourth of July, the great American patriot Jesse Helms passed away. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson also went to their great reward on Independence Day, so this is further proof of God. (Coulter)

Anyway... why do I bother reading her you ask? Well, it's always good to listen to people you disagree with.