Archive for September, 2007

Sunday shoes, a dilemma, and a Carnival

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

I was at Palmer Square yesterday and noticed that the Nine West store is having a sale. As regular readers of this blog probably have noticed by now, to me the combination of “shoes” and “sale” is essentially irresistible.

Nine West is carrying these,


They are marked down from $79.00, to $49.00

The plastic Nine Wests are made in China and do not make the feet or your legs look attractive. Ugly shoes never do. I tried on a pair and the rough rims of the shoe will cause a blister on your tender skin.

This particular style is an atrociously poor knock-off of the classic Ferragamo Vara style:

The Ferragamos retail for $290.00 at Neiman Marcus and at the Ferragamo flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York.

The leather Vara is handmade in Italy.

I’ve had this style of Ferragamos (in black leather, not patent leather) for nearly twenty years. It is the kind of classic shoe that speaks of class, quality and conservative discernment. I believe I paid $120 or so back then, and they have been worth every penny. If there’s a woman’s shoe that spells “solid respectability”, it is the Ferragamo Vara.

More importantly, there are two other advantages: the Vara is a most flattering shoe, and a shoe that can be worn all day.

But there’s a greater issue: the issue of slave labor.

The Manolo quotes The Plumcake,

It is the mantra of the Manolo Blogs that instead of buying cheap footwear made with deplorable lack of attention to detail by whatever 8-year old Bangladeshi child was cuffed to that particular table, one must save up for the superfantastic shoes, lovingly made by handsome gruff men named Aldo who drive cool Italian scooters and get 90 minute lunch breaks.

Having had – when I was in Italy – too too many unwelcome encounters with handsome gruff men named Aldo who simply could not believe all I wanted to do was read the newspaper, eat my lunch and have my jolt of expresso by myself when I obviously could have been enjoying a blissful (at least for him) 90 minutes with scooting Aldo instead, The Plumcake has nearly talked me out of buying Italian shoes for the rest of my days.

But that’s not the issue. The issue is slave labor and child labor.

We have a dilemma when it comes to child labor: The Bangladeshi economy can not distribute what it doesn’t have (wealth), and in order to create wealth it must become a producing economy. At the same time, it is attempting to become a producing economy on a lowest-price-producer basis, and the cheapest labor of all is child labor.

(Please spare me the emails asking me why am I picking on Bangladesh. I am only using that country for the purpose of expedience. The same situation occurs in whatever third-world military regime and/or dictatorship you want to bring up.)

I have no illusions as to whether those children would have better lives if they were not doing factory work. They would not be in school. They would be enslaved in other ways.

At the same time, directly transferring moneys from the developed countries leads to even more corruption and exploitation. The only way for underdeveloped countries to move forward is through economic development. In developed countries child labor was not erradicated until there was a rise in the standard of living brought on by the Industrial Revolution and families could afford to send their children to school.

So I present the question to my visitors: What to do?

Would the answer lie on an emphasis on primary school education? And, if so, where to start?

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Today Dr. Sanity has An Ahmadinejadpalooza of a Carnival!

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Saturday night Tom and Janis

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Saturday night Fire and Rain

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

For all the friends I thought I’d see one more time again,

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things
to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I’d see you one more time again
There’s just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I’d see you, thought I’d see you fire and rain, now.

This comes as no surprise

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

BBC’s Newsround fed youngsters Al Qaeda propaganda, claims ex-spy chief

Newsround is aimed at viewers aged between six and 12.

On its website it answered the question concerning 9/11, “Why did they do it” by saying: “The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry, including a group called al Qaeda – who are widely thought to have been behind the attacks.”

After the public complained, the text was amended.

It now reads: “Al Qaeda is unhappy with America and other countries getting involved in places like the Middle East.

“People linked to al Qaeda have used violence to make this point in the U.S.A, and in other countries.”

Now take a look at that statement:

People linked to al Qaeda have used violence to make this point in the U.S.A, and in other countries

In the Beeb’s fevered mind it’s OK to tell young children that the murder of 3,000 innocent people is justified because “Al Qaeda is unhappy”.

I agree with Dame Pauline,

Dame Pauline, who headed the Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee and is described as the most formidable female diplomat Britain has produced, said the new version was even worse.

“It still says it’s all America’s fault, and now for daring to be involved in the Middle East at all,” she said.

“It wasn’t ‘people linked to’ al Qaeda who killed 3,000 people that day, it was al Qaeda itself.

“Osama bin Laden even boasted of the attacks. Is the BBC really saying that if you’re ‘unhappy’ it’s quite normal behaviour to murder people?

“Is the BBC so naive as to take al Qaeda’s propaganda at face value? Or is there something more sinister at work here?”

Dame Pauline knows what she’s talking about: she is Britain’s former spy chief and a former BBC governor.

Biased BBC has been following the story since June.

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Why should terrorists’ privacy be protected…

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

when our lives are on the line for every moment wasted?

Sen. McCain’s bloggers’ call

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Sen. John McCain had another of his series of bloggers’ conference calls today, and I had the honor of taking part. Captain Ed has the details.

The most important part of the calls, aside from obviously the PR aspect, is that the Senator is one of the few Republican candidates engaging the bloggers. It really shows Sen. McCain’s commitment to keeping the electorate informed while at the same time hearing out our questions.

My article is up at Pajamas Media

Learning To Live With The Iranian Bomb?

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Click on the post title and read it.

Background here.

Update, Saturday 29 September
More at Gates of Vienna.

Ahmadinejad goes to Bolivia and Venezuela; Spacey goes to Venezuela and Cuba

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Continuing his triumphal grand tour, after leaving the US and being celebrated by fellational journalists and others, ‘Jad went to Bolivia.

Ahmadinejad bolsters Iranian ties with Bolivia and Nicaragua. I have no idea why the IHT headline mentions Nicaragua and not Venezuela, but here’s the text of the article (emphasis added):

On a trip to strengthen ties with leftists in Latin America and roll back U.S. influence, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has pledged to invest $1 billion in Bolivia and reaffirmed relations with the Venezuelan president with a declaration that “no one can defeat us.”

Promises, promises.

‘Jad and Evo go back a long time:

But the promises don’t come for free:

The investment in Bolivia, to be made over the next five years, would help the country tap its vast natural gas reserves, extract minerals, generate more electricity and finance agricultural and construction projects.

After La Paz, ‘Jad flew up to Caracas, where the love flowed:

Chavez greeted the Iranian leader warmly on a red carpet in front of the presidential palace, where they both stood before microphones and let loose with rhetoric challenging Washington.

The BBC states, “The Iranian and Venezuelan leaders see themselves as brothers, with similar political aims.”

You know things are screwed up in Venezuela that pro-democracy students are asking Ahmadinejad to serve as intermediary with Chavez so Hugo will grant them the right to ask questions regarding Venezuelan-Iranian relations.

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In other Latin American celebrity travel news, Actor Kevin Spacey met with Chavez looking for oil money to produce movies, since Hugo Chavez Funds State-Run Film Studio and already gave Danny Glover a few million $$$.

I wonder if Hugo and Kevin were pondering another sequel to The Karate Kid, but maybe it was just a regular dinner-and-a-movie kind of date:

Neither Spacey _ who has won Academy Awards for roles in “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty” _ nor Chavez spoke to the press after the nearly three-hour encounter in the presidential palace in Caracas. They shook hands warmly on the red carpet as Spacey left after a dinner with Chavez.

We’ll never know for sure.

The AP story claims that “Details were not released about the rest of Spacey’s itinerary.” Maybe the AP reporter should have spent some time watching Venezuela’s government-controlled TV newscasts, because in this video (via Jeremayakovka) the reporter (in Spanish) says that after Caracas Kevin was heading to Cuba.

Chalk it up to Associated Press Deficit Disorder, because Kevin indeed went to Cuba after leaving Venezuela.

Marc Masferrer links to the article, El actor estadounidense Kevin Spacey se pasea de incógnito en Cuba (American Actor Kevin Spacey Travels Incognito Through Cuba).

Other recent visitors to Cuba listed in the article include Michael Moore, Benicio del Toro, Steven Soderberg, Sean Penn, Joseph and Ralph Fiennes, Gael García Bernal and Fernando Trueba.

I don’t believe any of them asked about Martha Beatriz Roque, Elizardo Sanchez, or much anyone else who is not a celebrity.

Update: GM follows up.

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Update 2:
Totten’s turn;

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Roundup for a Friday morning:

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Afghanistan: A Quiet Triumph May be Brewing

Iraq: Counterinsurgency in al Qaeda’s last bastion in Baghdad by Bill Roggio.

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Marta Beatriz Roque was arrested in Cuba yesterday.

But don’t worry: it’s Friday, so the Cuban propaganda machine will surely come up with another Fidel rumor. It keeps the media distracted from what’s going on.

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Gerard VanderLeun doesn’t need boxing gloves to pack a punch: take a look. Gerard was my podcast guest last July, and he’s great. You can listen to him here (I woke him up early and before he came on Siggy & I talked about men’s shirts).
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What is it with the Clintons, Money, China, and Satellites?
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US State Department “No Jews Allowed” Program-Miriam’s Story
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10 Ways Online Terrorism is Affecting the Markets
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A Blumen idiot
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Six inconvenient truths about the U.S. and slavery vs An Argument He Can’t Possibly Win
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One from Maria: Back to the pomegranate
Before the juice, before the liqueur, there was the fruit. And it was fabulous.

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Special thanks to Larwyn for the links.

Flopping flicks of no integrity

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

David Kahane (who in real life is a Hollywood screenwriter) writes about Antiwar Falling: Hollywood’s bad investment, and lists the year’s flops:

Shoot ‘Em Up
In the Valley of Elah
Redacted
Grace Is Gone

And last year’s flops:

A Mighty Heart
Syriana
Shooter

Of this list, I’ve only seen Shoot ‘Em Up.

SEU – a videogame plot about a sharpshooter who hires a lactating prostitute and can continue to shoot the bad guys while engaging in intercourse, skydiving or delivering a baby, all the while yielding the organic carrots of death – is so bad (how bad is it? you ask) that I am now cured of seeing Clive Owen movies.

Clive, dude, you gotta get back to being an actor. You are exactly my ideal guy when it comes to looks but this fan needs more than looks to like a guy.

But I digress.

Robert J. Avrech, also a screenwriter, who blogs at Seraphic Secret points out the propaganda value of these films (emphasis added),

The per theater average of Elah indicates that only the earnest, dopey Sundance fanatics turned out for the first weekend—all 85 of them. The film is a stench of red ink, a jihadist enabling loop of anti-American sedition.

However, Elah will do a very brisk business in the black market souks in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

You think I’m kidding?

I wish.

There are consequences in the Arab/Muslim world to producing such movies. Jihadists use them as recruiting tools; they are proof that we infidels are so corrupt, so decadent that we don’t even bother to defend our own values. These movies show the jihadists that Islam is fated to rule over the infidels.

I saw Shoot ‘Em Up at the duplex Garden Theater theater in downtown Princeton, where Sicko played for five weeks last Summer. Before SEU started, they showed previews for The Kingdom, Lions for Lambs, and Rendition. Avrech and Kahane predict that these three films will also flop.

Surprisingly, the Garden Theater was playing 3:10 to Yuma last week (they’re now playing In The Valley of Elah). When I saw 3:10 to Yuma the only other two people in the theater were two young men (I assume they are Princeton University students). They loved it.

3:10 to Yuma is an excellent movie marred by excessive violence and by a script that unfortunately has the good guys make a huge stategic mistake in order to allow the three central characters to reach a final conclusion.

Writing about 3;10 to Yuma Sigmund, Carl and Alfred, however, finds a parable about integrity:

This nation was created by those for whom responsibility, accountability, honor and decency were more than just words that are entries in a dictionary. Those words were lived by and held in great esteem. The merits of those qualities were taught in schools and preached from both religious and secular pulpits. An individuals politics were always secondary to hard earned integrity and credibility. Our founding fathers may not have been perfect, to be sure, but this nation grew and matured as we learned the lessons and values they embraced.

ShrinkWrapped explains,

In 3:10 to Yuma, Christina Bale’s Dan Evans is a troubled, failing, and literally and figuratively crippled man, who is uncertain of his ability to actually function as a man. He fears failing his wife and perhaps even more significantly, failing his son. Russell Crowe’s Ben Wade is a failed man, whose failings can be reasonably inferred to stem from the failure of his parents to raise him from being a boy to a man. Men contain and control their aggression and devote themselves to caring for those who are less able to take care of themselves. Watching Russel Crowe/Ben Wade and Christian Bale/Dan Evans in their interplay as one helps the other become something he could never become on his own is exhilarating. Watching as Dan’s maturation as a father enables Logan Lerman, playing Dan’s 14 year old son William, to become a man before our eyes is equally moving. At the end, Dan, or perhaps William, has become Will Kane.

I predict that until Hollywood films go back to recognizing integrity as a core value of our nation, the flops will continue to hit the screens.

Special thanks to Jeremayakovka for the links.

Here’s the 3:10 to Yuma trailer:

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