Archive for November, 2003

I found this in my email today. At first I thought it was spam, but on second reading (which believe me, was very difficult), I think it’s feedback on my blog entries about illegal immigration. Italics are mine, but otherwise this is exactly as the email appeared, and this is the totality of the message body. I’m tempted to think it’s a prank or a satire, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that sinking certainty that this guy is for real. I leave it to the reader to draw any conclusions.

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you are so stuped and do not know what are you saing,i gest you are yest a rasist pursan,like many others,if you hait so muche this people,dont it aniting this felos pic in the fills,dont visit restorans or hotels or recuayers any construction services, bicause all this is than for mexicans or any othere imigrants, illigo like you say, unless this people are american. like as we are the illigo ones: your parents like you come from othere contry then is not america this people bing here in america more then eny of ass,dont forget that and rebise your history bifor poiting to any one, and dont forget the illigales from mexico are only the 10% 90 posent are from othere contrys,dont be so stuped. and shalo.america is america we are the intrures…do you remanber wher aor parents get the citincenchip? forhaps in the american indian imigration? or we yest kill them and took the lan? do you remanber?….

My best effort at a translation would be:

You are so stupid and do not know what you are saying, I guess you are just a racist person [took me a while to figure this one out. My brain kept saying “Persian”], like many others, if you hate so much these people, don’t eat anything these fellows pick in the fields, don’t visit restaurants or hotels or request any construction services, because all this is then for Mexicans or any other immigrants, illegal like you say, unless these people are American. Like [?] as we are the illegal ones: your parents like you come from other countries, then is not American, these people being here in American more than any of us, don’t forget that and revise [review?] your history before pointing to anyone, and don’t forget the illegals from Mexico are only the 10%; 90% are from other countries, don’t be so stupid. And shallow. America is America, we are the intruders…do you remember where our parents get their citizenship? Perhaps in the American Indian immigration? Or we just kill them and took the land? Do you remember?….

*sigh*

Even translated, it doesn’t make any sense.

I used to think that people who were cheerful all the time really pissed me off. A few days ago, I realized that wasn’t true. What pisses me off about such people isn’t the fact that they’re cheerful all the time; it’s the way that some of them can’t accept that I’m not cheerful all the time. They come up and say “Smile! Life is good!” The presumption is galling. I can’t help but wonder how they’d react if I walked up to them unsoliticed and said “Life sucks! Frown!”

Anne once had one of those moments where she actually came up with the right comeback in real time in response to one of these people: “The expression on my face is not negotiable.” That’s why I love her. (Part of it at least.)

[Anne speaking]: I think the part that these people don’t understand about me (and Kyle, I’m sure), is that we are capable of emotional neutrality, and exist in it a good deal of the time. This is part of the analytical mindset we have. We can approach something with almost pure inquisition and investigation — simple curiosity — rather than entering an inquiry with an emotional prejudice. At the least, we do try to be objective.

This typically results in a facial expression of concentration (while thinking) or distraction, both of which seem to be commonly interpreted as angry/hostile/upset/sad. This might be what prompts the cheerful person to try to cheer us up.

That, in turn, explains the extremely bewildered look you will see on my face, once you succeed in getting my attention (don’t be offended if I seem to be ignoring you — I’m probably so focused on what I’m thinking about that I didn’t notice you).

If this is true, it needs to be stopped, and stopped hard. I have sent copies of this letter to people at the NYT and the San Jose Mercury News. Other people are forwarding to other media organizations such as Fox News. Get the word out on this, at least so it can be investigated.

Excerpt:

My name is Ghayda Al Ali. While I am from Iraq, I am currently visiting the United States. As you can understand I am very interested in events back home. There is a most disturbing situation there which you should be aware of as your paper is an involved party.

My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper.

The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately.

I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act.

Indeed.

NachoMan left some comments in my blog entry about the Columbine Killers training video. I think my answers might prove interesting to a larger audience, so I reproduce some of his remarks and my replies here. NachoMan’s comments are in italics. Mine are in normal text.

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Thanks for your remarks. Your comments disturb me a little because you are obviously concerned about the consequences of poor parenting and bad social role models, but I question the validity of some of your sources of information on the subject.

Have you all seen (movie) BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE by Michael Moore? I think he is on the right track

Michael Moore is, to put it delicately, a liar and a propagandist. His movies do not tell the truth, and they are deliberately misleading. I also question Moore’s motives for his material. He has already made up his mind and he uses distortions and lies to support his opinion. This is not responsible, and should not be relied upon as a source of facts.

I recommend that you do some reading of his critics’ sites for more information on his deceptions.

We have a hard time educating the young to love learning, but smarter or more powerful people (advertisers, politicians, the media ๐Ÿ˜‰ , etc) can present their side and manipulate the whole society.

True. What you’re describing is the phenomenon of a public education system that is little more than an ideological brainwashing camp. Our kids do not learn to think critically or logically, and do not learn objectively. Learning is a drudgery that most kids prefer to escape, and their dislike of it lasts a lifetime.

The real problem here is that we are trying to solve a social problem from an individualistic point of view ( I learn this concept from the excellent book THE PURSUIT OF LONELINESS, By Philip Slater) and then we don’t really make a dent on the problem.

There is a trap in looking at problems as being “social” and having “social solutions”, as if “society” is some kind of organism that acts in concert. What is society but an aggregate of individuals? This all begins at the personal level, one mind at a time, one will at a time. Without the individual commitment, there can be no “social” strength.

All problems must be addressed and solved at the individual level. There is no other way possible, because “society” is not a “thing” you can talk to and convince. It’s all individual people who are on the receiving end of persuasion.

Believe it or not, we are seen from abroad as a very violent culture, that reveres violence and later we ask: ” I don’t understand why that happened?”

But is that perception accurate? It seems that media would have it so, but I read a good deal of world news that shows violence to be a worldwide phenomenon. I have read of crimes in other countries with a barbarity that is inconceivable in the United States, precisely because Americans don’t really understand real violence. We do not have tribal warfare in the streets, or vicious military coups. We do not have the experience of innocent bystanders caught up in bloody raids and their bodies left to lie in the streets for weeks on end. We do not have massive food riots from government-imposed famines.

How can you say? It is so fun shooting at something and hate doing math?

Well, I’m good at shooting. And I’m lousy at math. I don’t enjoy math, nor do I especially have a talent for it. I like target shooting. I also happen to like writing, and I’m good at that, too.

I come from abroad, and if you don’t give young people positive outlets and opportunities, they will look for a way to entertain themselves, and sometimes doing the wrong.

Where are the outside skating rinks, the after school programs, the organizations that pay well to people who help young people?

This is a good point, and a valid one. I doubt that it is unique to the United States that bored teenagers sometimes become hoodlums, however.

We are slaves of our fears, of our firearms, of our brutal economy.

Slaves to our fears, certainly, in many cases. But firearms? I don’t see how that follows. And the economy responds to us. There isn’t anything “brutal” about our economy. Would you care to cite some examples?

We revere power, money, status, but proclaim to have the highest ideals of freedom and equality.

Humanity in general has long had obsessions with power, money, and status. That does not mean we are not champions of liberty and equality.

Plus I deny the assertion that money is bad. Why is it wrong to revere money, to want to make money? This is the myth of “evil capitalism” that people like Moore and Chomsky like to talk about.

We are secretely racist, sexist, classist, but we think we have a good heart and compassion.

Are we? I’m not racist, or sexist, or classist. America is one of the most genuinely tolerant nations on earth. Can you explain how we are not?

If we truly value humanity, then we will refuse to sell out to help create bombs to bomb the hell out of other countries.

If we truly value humanity, we will do anything we can to keep the peace and prevent tyrants and murderers from seizing power. If that involves bombing the hell out of them, it is a service to humanity, not a crime.

There will always been people like Saddam Hussein in the world. And so there must always be people like George Bush, and Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Truman, who understand that sometimes the only way to prevent a greater catastrophe, is to make difficult wartime decisions.

If we really care about having a good spirit, we would read what american foreing policy really does (read, watch, listen Noam Chomsky) and realize that what goes around comes around.

Noam Chomsky, like Michael Moore, is a liar, a socialist, and possesses a true hatred of the United States and everything it stands for. His writings are filled with outright fabrications and false conclusions. Again, I recommend reading some of his critics for another viewpoint.

We will have more columbines and more september 11’s unless we dare to look at how we contribute to the problem (watch pbs tv program SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL BLINDSPOTS, By Virginia Satir and Patricia Sun, to have an insight why we can’t dare to see our contribution to the problem, the transcripts are online).

I have looked long and hard into myself and the character of my nation for answers to 9-11. My conclusion is that there is nothing we can do or stop doing that will end the hatred Islamists have for us. They will never stop trying to destroy us — not for what we do, but for what we are, the very fact that we exist.

Osama bin Laden himself has stated explicitly that his desire to destroy us has nothing to do with US foreign policy or US activities in other nations. You might try reading his manifestos and other various statements on his motives. He’s very articulate on the matter.

It offends me that anyone would suggest that America somehow deserved 9-11, that we had it coming, or that it is some sort of retribution. The people who died were innocent, and there is no excuse, no justice of any kind in their murders.

The real good people need to unite

Not with arms, but with insights, with the awareness that only when we raise our human consciousness and embrace all humanity, only then we will find the breakthroughs to help all society.

I pray that it be so. But I will not lay down my arms while the enemy is at the gate, while my life, my family, and my country are at stake. I will not surrender to tyranny and oppression and slavery. I will not be so foolish as to think I can stop them with a hug. If a bullet is required, then so be it.

I only write because maybe one insight, one new vision, one new concept that I have, could be use by you to help ALL.

Your idea is not new. Many throughout history have tried to spread this word. I believe in it, as I believe in the ultimate greatness and compassion of the human species. But we cannot allow that compassion to destroy reason and our ability to see what is real.

Wishing does not change things. We must work to change the world ourselves, one person at a time, one mind at a time, with patience and persistence.

I try to live my life as an example to others in this respect.

One person at a time.

This isn’t quite as impressive as it sounds from the headline, but it’s still a pretty big step. The headline makes it sound like scientists have created an artificial virus from scratch and had it reproduce successfully. But the phrase “based on a real one” in the second paragraph means that the genetic blueprint for the virus was taken from one that evolved “naturally”.

Still, the techniques used to do this are going to be powerful biotechnological tools going forward. The 20th century was the century of physics; the 21st shows all the signs of being the century of biology. Very cool, assuming we don’t manage to kill ourselves off in the process.

One other note… the guy leading the team, Craig Ventner. Wasn’t he the guy who founded Celera Geonomics, the compnay that successfully mapped the human geonome? Just how smart is this man, anyhow?

Today has been a good day. Why?

This.

And this.

And this. (I’m a Cisco employee.)

This gaffe by the Democrats is really just icing on the cake. (It reminds me a bit of the way the California Democrats shot themselves in the foot by talking about how they were manipulating the budget crisis for political advantage with a live microphone in the room. Here’s a tip, guys: if you’re going to try to politicize government processes that ideally shouldn’t be blatantly exploited for partisan gains, try to do your planning in private. Honor the 11th Commandment, and don’t get caught.)