Confessions of a former blogger part deux

March 30, 2007 at 10:44 pm | Posted in Miscellania | 1 Comment

Sunday, January 08, 2006

As I sit here with my parrot perched on my shoulder mumbling friendly noises and baritone laughs while preening my hair, I’ve come to the realization that voting day is in just two weeks, and I know next to nothing about the issues of the campaign. So what?–I already know who I’m going to vote for, or at least I think I do. Seriously, though, it shouldn’t be too hard to research the different positions of each candidate–I mean their real positions. I’ll visit the respective parties different web sites tomorrow. In the meantime, consider visiting the following link. It’s a site done by Whitley Strieber, a successful author who is also somewhat of a nut. Nevertheless, I find his rantings interesting. He likes to “prophesise” stuff and thinks he was abducted by otherworldly beings throughout the course of his life. http://www.unknowncountry.com/

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Present Day

Unfortunately, now the guy’s become an unabashed–and frankly idiotic–9/11 conspiracy theorist. He seems so sure the events of 9/11 were all a huge conspiracy, that I know it was ridiculous and gullible of me to ever believe that he was abducted by aliens, which in my teen years I unfortunately did. I guess those “Greys” are complete fabrications after all.

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Wii worth it?

March 29, 2007 at 8:44 pm | Posted in Miscellania | 2 Comments

This Wii shortage is getting to be increasingly ridiculous–it’s been five months since its launch. I’m beginning to think that the reason Nintendo made so few of them is because they themselves didn’t think it was a product that would warrant this much success. I hope I’m wrong about that, because I’m still intent on getting one. Unfortunately, my best bet is to be at Toys R Us for Saturday morning at 6 am. I don’t think I can pull that off–but if I press myself I can make it there for 7 by getting up at 6, and I at least aim to try not to sleep in. I never imagined I would end up waiting in line at a toystore to get a video-game system; one of the reasons I waited this long was because I thought it would be easier to get. On the plus side, I’m glad I sold my GC early–the start of this year, actually–because I found out that due to the massive popularity of the Wii, which is in essence also a GC unit, said GCs have depreciated significantly in resale value. But my patience is wearing thin; I hope I’ll finally be able to get it this Saturday.

New record–Is the secret coffee?

March 28, 2007 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Miscellania | 3 Comments

It’s 20 to 9 now and I would’ve made a post sooner, but Jr. can be so clingy and possessive when he feels I’m not paying enough attention to him; he’s making progress, but it’s still an issue I have with him. Anyway, now I don’t feel like writing anything big–but I will mention that I ran from Spadina to Bloor to Bathurst to Harbour to Younge & Eglington–with no stops and in 79 minutes–a speed I don’t think I’ve ever achieved before (it normally takes me 84 minutes). I didn’t set out to break any personal records–the truth of the matter is I was very tired this morning due to a lack of sleep because I spent from 11:30–1:30 playing Baten Kaitos Origins because that is the only time I’m able to play videogames uninterrupted by a jealous Jr. (whew…), so it comes down to him again. I wouldn’t have even gone running as such, but I wanted to feel primed for the last part of the game I was going to play. So I had two cups of brewed coffee. Within an hour I not only felt like running, but I also felt the urge to run pretty fast, and it hardly even seemed like a great deal of effort considering the pace I was setting for myself. Was it the coffee? That seems probable, but I don’t want to get into the habit of relying on it for a morning run. If only there was an experienced runner who can advise me on this…

Can terrorism be an effective strategy?

March 27, 2007 at 7:29 pm | Posted in Miscellania | 7 Comments

I’ve noticed two news items in as many days that have paralleled each other. The first is the historic new government between Ulster Unionists and the Sinn Fein. The second pertains to the still faint possibility of negotiations between Israel and the Hamas-led government. It got me thinking; both Sinn Fein and Hamas owe their roots to what academics can properly describe as a terrorist infrastructure, and terrorism is a term and word usually vilified in the Western press. But should it be? After all, one can argue that terrorism may be an effective tool or technique to reach long-term demands.

Let’s start with Sinn Fein, which was formerly a political front for the IRA. The Provisional IRA was founded in December 1969 and had demanded the reunification of the British-controlled Northern Ireland with the independent state of Ireland or, at times, a new independent state of Northern Ireland. The organisation used bombings, kidnappings of Protestants, shootings, bus hijackings and other assorted terrorist techniques in an attempt to pressure the British government to give in to their demands. Did this work? The short answer would be no, it did not work because Northern Ireland is still a province of the United Kingdom (the UK is officially comprised of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; Bermuda is still a direct colony of the UK even today). But the long answer would be yes, it did work, as Sinn Fein was able to get IRA members considerable more political power, starting with the Good Friday agreement of 1998 and ultimately culminating in the power-sharing agreement at the Stormont Parliamentary Building in Belfast a couple of days ago. This is not the same thing as full-fledged Independence or reunification, but this latest agreement is not merely symbolic; it gives Northern Ireland significantly greater autonomy. In short, Sinn Fein and the IRA recognised the need for compromise. However, consider this, if the IRA hadn’t used terror as a strategy for decades–the bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations–they would have had significantly less leverage at the negotiating table. In other words, if an organisation uses terrorism for years, then stops, but only under the condition that serious negotiations can begin, the other party becomes more than willing to listen as an alternative to bloodshed. Thus, the IRA knew when to cease their hostilities. Of course, there are always die-hards within any such org that refuse to compromise on the original stated goal of independence/reunification, so this process hasn’t exactly been smooth-sailing, but it now appears that the worst is over.

Hamas, on the other hand, is a very different terrorist organisation, one with a maximalist mindset that refuses any sort of meaningful compromise. It refuses to recognise the state of Israel, and will always deny it such recognition. This was evident after its landslide victory last year, when, pressured by months of international sanctions, it gave its approval for its armed wing to enter Israeli territory from the unoccupied Gaza-strip in order to kill three Israeli soldiers on guard duty; Lt. Hanan Barak, Staff-Sgt. Pavel Slutzker and Cpl. Gilad Shalit. In actuality, the latter of the three was instead kidnapped, and is being held captive, presumably in the Gaza strip, to this day. This act does not seem to me to be especially strategic on Hamas’s part, because this act occured almost a year after Israel left the Gaza strip, a key demand of Hamas. It is one of many examples that showcase Hamas’s unwillingness to compromise; it is so obsessed with obtaining all of Israeli territory that so far not even the famed summit at Mecca two months ago caused its members to renege on this unworkable demand. Hamas aims to use terrorism as a means to achieve the end, rather than as a bargaining chip, and that of course is impossible, since suicide bombings alone do not have enough destructive force against the IDF by any stretch of the imagination.

I’m not sure where I’ve heard this adage before, but I feel it rings true: “Those who demand everything get nothing.” Think about that some more. Think about how the modern state of Israel was founded. Yes, the tragedy of the Holocaust helped nations realise the seemingly apparent necessity of a Jewish homeland, but some Jews living in British-occupied Palestine formed their own terrorist groups–i.e. the Haganah and its even more militant offshoot, the Irgun-Stern gang. They too were collectively responsible for hotel bombings (specifically the King David) and the slitting of British soldiers’ throats. Yet in the end, when the UK and the newly formed UN made an offer of a partitioned independence between Jews and Arabs, the Jewish negotiators reluctantly agreed, figuring a half a loaf of bread was better than none at all. The Arabs living in British-occupied Palestine were vehemently opposed, arguing as to why they should give up any of their loaf which they viewed, justifiably, as currently theirs. In the end, the terrorist organisation Haganah did in fact get everything, but only because the Arabs demanded everything, not because the Jews did. 

So, to conclude, in my opinion terrorism–the use of coercison and violence to help achieve political goals– can sometimes work, if said terrorists know to quit when they’re ahead and not to be foolishly stubborn.  This is pretty controversial, I acknowledge. What is your opinion?     

Confessions of a former blogger

March 26, 2007 at 9:01 pm | Posted in Miscellania | Leave a comment

I have a small confession to make; this actually isn’t my first attempt at blogging. I first made an attempt on the blog-train around 14 months ago via blogger. I found it wasn’t search-engine friendly and in short order gave up on it, but I also now figure it’d be a waste to have those entries go to waste. Plus, I’m too lazy to write a substantial entry today anyway ;). Well, here is my ambitious entry of yesteryear:

For The Love of Quakers Saturday, January 07, 2006

Well, with no photo intact, I realise it doesn’t matter and just felt like blogging today. So what am I going to blog about? Well I’ve had a lot of ideas, and an idea that I have had for over a year now is to study to a moderate degree every single recognised country in the world in alphabetical order. I figure, why not? I kept on putting it off, but I guess if I’m blogging I kind of have an excuse to get this project started. However, I also want to post and/or comment on stories from places in the world that don’t get covered that much, and as such may try to write about certain countries that aren’t in the proper order if there are interesting news items to be found that complement them. It’s an ambitious project that doesn’t have much of a point, but I’m doing it for my own self-satisfaction.

As for what I did this Saturday, not much. I didn’t even exercise. I did, however, play a lot of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiancefor the GC, which is a great game in small doses. My problem with many games these days is the programmers’ seemingly lazy decisions to require gamers to play through their games multiple times if they wish to unlock all the extras and bonus content–oftentimes said bonus content isn’t really worth the multiple playthroughs. Just a minor gripe in what has been an uneventful life this past year (i.e–one week).

Being a Saturday night I can’t exactly go right now to the library to begin “comparative government” research, but remember I also think Quaker parrots are the cutest parrots on the planet, and with that in mind I found a couple of intriguing sites about the wild quaker parrots…of Brooklyn. So, even though this isn’t exactly usual, if you don’t know what quakers look like visit http://www.brooklynparrots.com/or go directly to an interesting subportion of the web page, http://www.flickr.com/photos/reneshay/. The former site is at times pretty funny.

Well, perhaps it’s for the best that I never pursued learning in depth information of every country in alphabetical order; the task would be never-ending. For now I’m still opting not to renew that idea I had of last year. My opinion on quakers, however, still stands. They’re still pretty cute. In fact, in hindsight I realise that this showing was not one, but two journal entries in one day. From now on if I feel like a second post on the same day I’ll proceed. 

My health

March 25, 2007 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Miscellania | 2 Comments

I don’t think I feel like a large post right now but I may update this if my mood changes. Nothing really special happened to me today, although I did have a minor annoyance when my plans were derailed. I wasn’t supposed to sit for Leo today, but he woke up my twin sister Carly twice last night and was being particularly difficult, so I came to help out. She was nice enough to bake chocolate chip cookies, and I indulged and had a couple. My mistake was going running immediately after the last cookie, which never would have happened if I hadn’t gone over there to begin with, which I wasn’t supposed to anyway, as I am scheduled to sit for Leo tomorrow. Anyway, I felt like vomiting out all the cookies while running, so I had to stop, and I didn’t go to the gym either. Last time I was weighed I was 129 lbs, which is slightly underweight. I could stand to gain a few pounds, but my appetite isn’t that big. This could be a problem; I mean, how many people do you hear of that struggle to gain the appetite for chocolate-chip cookies?

 Regardless, I can’t say I feel altogether lousy despite my deficiency of cardiovascular activity today; I actually still feel rather content. Apparently the endorphin effects of three consecutive days of 90+ minutes of running can last through a couple of days of relatively little exercise. Tomorrow I’ll be back on track for sure though.

As I type, my quaker parrot Jr. is playing and acting silly next to the computer ripping at some papers that he probably shouldn’t be at. Yeah, I do have a four-year old blue parrot–hence the web address. I should upload a pic of him, but the truth is I don’t have many good ones. Well, now he’s trying to pull down the web-cam so it’s time to end this entry before he gets into real trouble. 

Running and Africa

March 24, 2007 at 1:46 am | Posted in Miscellania | 4 Comments

Ah, today finally felt like spring, making my 94 minute run one of my more enjoyable this season, but tomorrow I’m taking an exercise break regardless of the weather. I might go to the gym for strength-training, but that would be it. I had to sit for my sister Stephanie’s dog Leo today, but I didn’t mind; he’s actually pretty cute and was glad to see me. We hung out and played tug of war while I watched a PVR showing of SNL on her giant plasma screen TV. This was the one with Juila Louis Dreyfus, probably last weekend’s. I haven’t seen SNL in a while, but I have to admit that if this show was any indication it has gotten over its very long slump and probably is now worthy of higher ratings; I laughed at every single sketch, even the final ones which used to have a reputation of being the sketches designated for the garbage dump. I only wish I knew how to get the surround sound to work.

 On the news front–today’s theme appears to be Africa–mostly Zimbabwe, but also a thing or two on the Sudan and Chad. The mainstream media is finally, albeit belatedly, giving Zimbabwe the coverage it deserves. I’ve been reading up on Zimbabwe’s recent (last 30 years) history and President Robert Mugabe was once seen as a hero against apartheid–what could have gone wrong over the years? PBS has an excellent analysis on the subject with a Frontline documentary entitled “Shadows and Lies“. I also have posted a variety of Reuters and AP stories on the current crises that you can read at the end of today’s entry. As for the Sudan, it’s atrocious what is happening there now, but I found an excellent blog from an esteemed academic that covers this subject in great detail over at www.sudanreeves.org.

Well, I think I’ll wrap it up for tonight; I want to finish off a session of the current videogame I’m playing, Baten Kaitos Origins. I want to get a Wii, but, if my local game-store is to be believed, the last ten units have been sold and new shipments won’t be available until May 15th. It’s ridiculous, I know, because the Wii was launched last November. Ah well, can’t complain.

Day #2

March 22, 2007 at 9:49 pm | Posted in Miscellania | Leave a comment

Today is the second day of my blog, so so far so good. It’s 5:30 pm now and I had a fine day. I was able to go for a 90-minute morning run and had a slice of pizza for lunch, whereas after I proceeded to read The Globe and Mail. Leisurly, don’t you think? Regardless, on the subject of the news, what’s been catching my attention lately is the current crises in Zimbabwe, which has its roots back in 2000 but was directly started last week. This latest bit from the AP reflects the unbelievable gall of the power-hungry Robert Mugabe.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070322/wl_nm/zimbabwe_dc;_ylt=An38X2aEu21N_11m4JUraw696Q8F

It’s pretty outrageous. At any rate, this is all I think I feel like writing for today.

Hello World

March 21, 2007 at 10:58 pm | Posted in Miscellania | 2 Comments

Well, I’ve finally decided to get in with the trend and publish my own blog. I have no idea how long this will last–maybe a few years, or maybe a few days, but I figured I’ll never get into blogs if I don’t at least jump in and try. There’s not a great deal I have to say right now, but in the long term (if there will be a long term) I’m hoping this site becomes a miscellany of various interests, including my thoughts and opinions on various issues, a journal on my personal life, videogame and book reviews, my thoughts and ramblings on the magnificent parrot, particularly the adorable Quaker parrot, news items throughout the world that are covered in as fair and as even-handed a way as possible, you name it. Ambitious? Yes. Pointless? Maybe. But I won’t know unless I give this thing a go for myself. So here’s to the future of my blog and, needless to say, comments would be most welcome.

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