Occasional News and comments on the situation in Post-Saddam Iraq by an Iraqi-American living in Texas
May Day? It looks like December here! Is this Mother nature's cruel idea of a joke? Yes, that's right, it's snowing again. *sigh* We had summer for a weekend.
Temps have "soared" to low double digits here :-/
So, how *are* the Iraqi communist party doing these days. I remember you mentioning them in your early days, Zeyad. I can only imagine the current mainstream of politics in Iraq doesn't know what to make of them.
Pete, as you can see from the size of the demo they're not that popular these days
While I may not agree with their views on politics/economics, I do admire their courage in marching down an Iraqi street carrying the hammer & sickle. And I will give the Iraqis credit for letting them. Strange how there are sporadic signs of democractic behavior.
Lynnette: "While I may not agree with their views on politics/economics, I do admire their courage in marching down an Iraqi street carrying the hammer & sickle."I always find it repulsive to see people flying that banner of oppression. But sure, I guess it takes some courage. Stalin showed a lot of courage too, back in the day.
I guess the sporadic signs of democratic behaviour are easy for the Maliki government to tolerate then it's a tiny fringe party.On a totally different tangent... when did the US start playing RUGBY??!! And why, just because they're about to play Ireland in Houston, do we have to put up with a Hispanic leprechaun with a Peter Lorre accent ? :-)
*when* it's a tiny fringe party :(
I always find it repulsive to see people flying that banner of oppression.Possibily because you lived so close to it? For me it's just a symbol of a failed state. If that's what they want to identify with it is not for me to judge, I guess. True democracy lets people make up their own minds. If they are smart they choose wisely.Stalin showed a lot of courage too, back in the day.That makes it doubly sad that he had such bad ideas.
I guess the sporadic signs of democratic behaviour are easy for the Maliki government to tolerate then it's a tiny fringe party.Sadly, you may be right. On a totally different tangent... when did the US start playing RUGBY??!!First I've heard of it. And why, just because they're about to play Ireland in Houston, do we have to put up with a Hispanic leprechaun with a Peter Lorre accent ? :-)*cough* *cough* To get people's attention? :)Although I've got to say that some of those commenters really got their undies in a bunch over that ad...
Lyynnette "Possibily because you lived so close to it? For me it's just a symbol of a failed state."Lynnette, my dear, that's because you're not properly informed. More than ten times the number of people have died, and under just as awful conditions, under that awful standard than died under the deadful Swastika banner. When you accept that fact Communism doesn't loook as benign, right?It's the by far worst, most anti-human, and most lethal idceology ever to plague mankind. Communism - you need to hate it!
More than ten times the number of people have died, and under just as awful conditions, under that awful standard than died under the deadful Swastika banner.Perhaps that is something those people marching in Baghdad need to understand. Sometimes living in a closed society, like Iraq's under Saddam was, it is easy to romanticize something they really know little about.Communism - you need to hate it!That sounds so Cold War. I don't really need to hate it to understand it is not something I would support.
P.S.Having said that, I would add that any oppression, and the deaths and hurt it leads to, is what is hateful.
[Lynnette]: "Although I've got to say that some of those commenters really got their undies in a bunch over that ad..."Oh dear, I hadn't read any comments. Ok, *my* comment was supposed to be light hearted. Allow me to apologise for my thicko muck savage bog trotting compatriots. I hope the USA trounce us (although that *would* be a bit like the Milwaukee Brewers winning the World Series).
LynnetteMarcus didn't live close to it at all!The hammer and sickle represent the union of the industrial and agricultural worker, it emerged as a symbol during the Russian Revolution. It later appeared on the Soviet and Chinese national flags but they don't have a monopoly on it. I remember Harry Barnes - former British MP who used to blog about Iraq - talking about May Day in Baghdad in 1959 when some 10% of the population took to the streets to support democracy. Truly, the workers movement has always been the the forefront of such efforts.
Pete: Ok, *my* comment was supposed to be light hearted.Oh, I know, Pete. There was no offense taken. I just noticed how very serious some people had taken that ad. I doubt that it was meant as racist at all, as those people seemed to think.And I too would be very much surprised if the US won that match. :)
JG,Marcus didn't live close to it at all!I was referring to his geographic location as oppposed to that of the United States. For some, being close to the Soviet Union was not conducive to a comfortable existence.The hammer and sickle represent the union of the industrial and agricultural worker, it emerged as a symbol during the Russian Revolution.Having read a little history on how the average Russian was treated under the Czars it is understandable how a revolution could come about. Unfortunately, like so many other revolutions after it, it morphed into an entity that was just as bad as that which it followed. I think revolution alone does not guarantee a successful outcome for a populace in general. In part it is necessary to have those in leadership positions who are willing to put the good of the population above their own wants and desires. But it is also necessary to have a fair and just set of laws that are followed and enforced.
Chilly here today and snowing this morning. A good day to bake cookies. :)
it morphed into an entity that was just as bad as that which it followed. No disagreement there.
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JG: "The hammer and sickle represent the union of the industrial and agricultural worker, it emerged as a symbol during the Russian Revolution. It later appeared on the Soviet and Chinese national flags but they don't have a monopoly on it."The typical, and sadly widespread, whitewashing of the Communist doctrine.It's the doctrine that' evil JG. Not just a few bad men here and there that went astray and just so happened to kill off a hundred million people.There's not one country that hasn't suffered under communist rule, and most of them suffered terribly. That's because it is not possible to combine a collectivist ideology that strives to mold people into a swarm of obedient, likeminded drones with civil liberties and human rights. It's like something out of Startreck: "we are the Borg, we are here to assimilate you, resistance is futile". Evil.
Marcus, you may have forgotten that JG$ is a socialist. I'm not that surprised he has a soft spot for the commies too. It's barely a generation since many on the left in the UK and Ireland were enthusiastic about the communist USSR. Indeed, quite a few were directly in the pay of Kremlin.
Testing whether the word in the Recaptcha in the plainer font can be replaced with anything one likes. The current word is "complaint" and I'm typing GoogleIsCrap.
Yep. It works :)Of course, I don't want to type more than I have to just to make a point. So it'll be "gic" from now on.
That's because it is not possible to combine a collectivist ideology that strives to mold people into a swarm of obedient, likeminded drones with civil liberties and human rights.Trying to hold people together with an iron fist, be it communist, theocratic, or secular is just asking for a revolt. People are not drones, but individuals with minds of their own.That might be why a revolution with the goals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all has proved more durable. While there have been peaks and valleys in its progress, it is still an ongoing work in process.
Huh! You're right, Pete, that did work. I just typed "hi". :)
A slight change of subject, apparently the carbon dioxide level in Earth's atmosphere is close to the 400 parts per million mark. In 2002 University of Maryland economist Thomas Schelling put the dangerous climate change level at between 600 and 1200 parts per million.
Pete: "Marcus, you may have forgotten that JG$ is a socialist. I'm not that surprised he has a soft spot for the commies too. It's barely a generation since many on the left in the UK and Ireland were enthusiastic about the communist USSR."Of course I knew he was a leftist. I kind of hoped he was a left wing Social Democrat. Those I respect even if I don't agree with a lot of their politics, especially on ecomomics. The Social Democrats in Europe were always (there may be individual exceptions) very careful to defend their left flank. In Sweden we had several Social Democratic prime ministers who were outspoken and quite fierce anti-Communists. Because they are pro-democracy and they are pragmatic and willing to enter into non-partisan compromises on large issues; and Commies are not pro-democracy nor willing to compromise. But you're telling me we're dealing with a fully fledged Socialist of the soft-on-commies variety here? I guess you're right, given the comments about the hammer and sickle - the standard of Evil. Sad.
Communist persuation in practice:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_LtniyFWOMJG would say: "if you wanna create a workers utopia omellette you gotta beak a few dissident eggs". Nice.
Good news -- the Iraq fake bomb detector guy got the maximum sentence of ten years in jail for fraud.Not so good news -- Maliki says that the Iraqi government "took the necessary measures in a timely manner on this file, a long time ago"... but the detectors are still in widespread use and there is no timeline for their replacement.Terrible news -- April was the bloodiest month in Iraq since June 2008, according to the UN.
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Okay, so how do all of these spam commenters get through the word verification? At least the squiggly word part?
PeteS,Bridget left you a comment in the last comments section. I will second it. :)
JG would say: "if you wanna create a workers utopia omellette you gotta beak a few dissident eggs".Now, Marcus, I think you do him wrong. He did say he didn't approve of what Stalin did. I have an idea that JG is more along the lines of those who believed that human shields would work. That kind of idealist. Some of them may believe in a communist utopia, but it is just a chimera.
...but the detectors are still in widespread use and there is no timeline for their replacement.It is their own lives they are playing with. Foolish.
I see the Turks are not too happy about the Israeli airstrike on Syria. Yet they were quite happy to contemplate their own strike in defense of the downing of their jet by Syria. Strange.
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Zeyad,I listened to the interview that you, Ayub & Ali did in March. I had never heard the original either, so I listened to both. It was nice to hear you, but they didn't answer the question I have had for some time now, years actually. How exactly do you pronounce your name? :)Seriously, I'm sorry things have not went as well for all of you as you could have hoped. Life has a way of screwing people over at times, but it also can have some good moments, if you look around for them. P.S. I am also serious about the name thing.
Where's the interview, Lynnette? P.S. I'm going to hazard a guess -- Zee-ad. Just guessing from the alternative transliterations I've seen, Ziyad, Ziad. Wouldn't gel with Zay-ad, for instance. Only other thing that occurs is the ending ... I'm guessing somewhere between zee-aht and zee-uht. Just my guess -- I always have an ear out for the sounds of languages, as a poor second best to being able to understand them :)
I don't support the Chinese ruling class nor did I ever support any Stalinist regime, Marcus, you blithering idiot. It's actually funny, because people from my political tradition were to the forefront of opposition to Stalinism. I know comrades who were on practically permanent protest outside the Soviet embassy in Dublin. We won't be taking lectures from your kind, Marcus, that's for certain.Pete$: "Good news -- the Iraq fake bomb detector guy got the maximum sentence of ten years in jail for fraud."Excellent news. Pete$: " I always have an ear out for the sounds of languages, as a poor second best to being able to understand them"Me too. I've actually learned the Arabic alphabet, as well as long and short vowels. Difficult but hugely rewarding.
PeteS,I'm going to hazard a guess -- Zee-ad.That's how I have been mentally pronouncing it for years. But since I have never actually met or spoken to Zeyad I realized it was only a guess, especially as interviewers have pronounced it various ways.I'll see if I can go grab a link to the interview.
Here is a link for the inteviews. The first one is just the current inteview in March, the second one is both the original from 2006 and the follow up in 2013.http://www.onthemedia.org/people/ayub-nuri/Hopefully Zeyad won't be mind if I post it here.
I've actually learned the Arabic alphabet, as well as long and short vowels. Difficult but hugely rewarding.They say that the best way to keep the mind sharp is to learn a new language or a musical instrument.
JG: "It's actually funny, because people from my political tradition were to the forefront of opposition to Stalinism. I know comrades who were on practically permanent protest outside the Soviet embassy in Dublin. We won't be taking lectures from your kind, Marcus, that's for certain."Ya'll don't take lectures from anyone, or anything, history included.So you we're an anti-Stalinist were you? Yet you expressed admiration for the hammer & sickle. You must have though Lenin was a greater guy then? It shouldn't be news to you that he was a mass-murderer also. Directly responsible for incidents such as the Ukranian holdomor - the intentional starvation to death of up to 6 million people. Because they didn't toe the party line. Plus he handpicked Stalin and empowered him as I'm sure you know.I challenge you to name ONE country under Communist rule where the people fared well, and where the party bosses didn't resort to mass oppression and murder. They all did, from Pol Pot to Mao, from Lenin to Castro, from Mengistu to Ho Chi Mihn. Every single one did.That's because they were adhering to a collectivist ideology under which individuals and their suffering is insignificant. It wasn't the leaders of the people who got it wrong, it was the ideology itself that was flawed and simply evil. An inhumane ideology that today has been to a large degree and well deservedly put on the garbage heap of history, except for among a few blind fools who refuse to face facts. Where did you see Communism work? In what nation? Just name one. Which Red society during which period in time was that utopia of yourse? Where did the hammer & sickle represent anything but mass terror? Answer that, then we'll talk more.And, further, don't you be calling me an idiot you brainwashed lemming.
Lynnette: "Now, Marcus, I think you do him wrong. He did say he didn't approve of what Stalin did. I have an idea that JG is more along the lines of those who believed that human shields would work. That kind of idealist. Some of them may believe in a communist utopia, but it is just a chimera."He blames individuals but makes excuses for the ideology that created room for the indivuduals oppressors and mass murderers.It's like saying: "National Socialism is really quite good, look at what they did to combat unemployment, but that fellow Hitler he might've went a little bit overboard he did." It's narrowminded insanity to let the driving force, the ideology itself, off the hook and make scapegoats of the indivuduals who took that ideology to its only possible conclusion.
Marcus,Once, a long time ago, one of my aunts commented that she thought communism could work if it was handled properly. It was one of those odd situations where I didn't want to be disrespectful by contradicting her, as she was older, but I couldn't let it pass. I just looked at her and said no, I didn't think so. She was an intelligent person, yet she was so wrong in her ideas. I can understand how there would be a knee-jerk reaction by the average person living in an extreme class type system like czarist Russia. It would be difficult to watch people being rewarded because they were born into a position in society, while the average person is treated like a serf. A capitalist system encourages individual ambition, which can be a catalyst for innovation and progress, whereas a communal type of system, such as communism, does not. Communism is merely a recipe for stagnation.
PeteS,In a follow up to our gay marriage discussion, I thought I'd let you know that the Minnesota House has passed a law allowing same sex marriage. It is now headed to the Senate. There was an extremely passionate debate, which brought up many of the points we discussed. What is rather interesting is that the last poll on the subject was split with a majority of Minnesotans against allowing gay marriage. Some people were really sticking their necks out on this. One has to believe they voted more in line with their own conscience. Interesting.
Lynnette: "Once, a long time ago, one of my aunts commented that she thought communism could work if it was handled properly. It was one of those odd situations where I didn't want to be disrespectful by contradicting her, as she was older, but I couldn't let it pass. I just looked at her and said no, I didn't think so."And you were completely right. There's zero chance for it to work as supposedly intended.Lynnette: "I can understand how there would be a knee-jerk reaction by the average person living in an extreme class type system like czarist Russia. It would be difficult to watch people being rewarded because they were born into a position in society, while the average person is treated like a serf."Of course. And you can never blame the commoners in such a society for wanting change and even believing in the false prophesy of communism. It's the intellectuals who were at fault. Then again, wealth by inheritance is not evil IMO. Of course parents should be able to leave their offspring opportunities. It's a natural feeling all humans have instinctively and to outlaw it goea against nature. Maos granddaughter is high on the rich-list in China btw, so apparently even the Commies themselves feel this way."Communism is merely a recipe for stagnation."It's way worse than that Lynnette. Actually it's not necessarily stagnant. The Soviet Union saw some serious economic growth and a massive industrialisation during much of its existance. Red China better fits your description though. But in terms of (temporary) economic progress an authoritarian system like Communism isn't always destined towards stagnation, it can do quite well for a period of time. Rather it's a recepie for violations, murder and torture - as we have seen in any historical case there is to review. That's the main curse of Communism, the inhumanity of it.
I thought I'd let you know that the Minnesota House has passed a law allowing same sex marriage. It is now headed to the Senate. There was an extremely passionate debate, which brought up many of the points we discussed. What is rather interesting
The Soviet Union saw some serious economic growth and a massive industrialisation during much of its existance.For a time, yes. But in historical terms it was short lived. And at what cost did they achieve this? Happiness does not necessarily revolve around the material. And even at their peak as a superpower they still did not achieve the standard of living that was common in America or Western Europe. Rather it's a recepie for violations, murder and torture - as we have seen in any historical case there is to review.But isn't any system of government where you have control centered in a few people rather than the whole? You saw it in Nazi Germany under Hitler, Iraq under Saddam, and Iran under the Shah or the Ayatollahs. That was the whole reason for America's founding fathers setting up the checks and balances that they did. It is why so many people in my country are touchy about the role government should play. And it's why we are always second guessing ourselves. So if the pendulum swings too far one way we will try to correct that extreme swing.
Slight change of topic ...I've been noticing in my daily perusals of oil prices that Brent crude has dropped quite significantly from highs up near $115-120/bbl. WTI has also fallen, but recently has been climbing back again. It seems for the last while Brent and WTI have been moving opposite directions. There had been a price differential of $15-20 between them, but now WTI is less than $8 cheaper than Brent.The price falls can be explained by general economic indicators, which are weak. But the decreasing differential must result from something else. WTI certainly suffered from the difficulties of moving American crude to market -- even to American markets, let alone international ones. I wonder does the decreasing differential reflect the easing of pipeline bottlenecks in producing states. I haven't been able to find any articles on it.
Of course, I could've just Googled it :)
It does seem that going hell bent for leather to extract the oil does leave the transportation part of the equation running to catch up. But eventually someone recognizes the drawback and finds a fix, especially if there is money to be had. :)
I was smiling at my own confusion the other day. An article about energy prices mentioned that while oil was falling, natural gas had strengthened a little, but could fall back again if there was a cooler summer. I thought "but if summer is cooler you'll need more gas for heating so prices will go *up*". Of course, it meant less gas would be needed to generate electricity for air conditioning. Here in the soggy emerald isle, residential air conditioning is more or less unknown, and while I'd like to say that summer heating is similarly unheard of ... well, this afternoon it was 6 degrees Celsius and the heating was on all day. I know some Americans are in the habit of counting summer from the June 21st solstice, but here the typical best month of summer ends as June begins. And right now it still looks more like spring (at best). Brrrr.
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Pete: "The price falls can be explained by general economic indicators, which are weak."The new figures from IEA about the impact from shale oil in the US is probably a contributing factor. The new estimates are quite rosy. If they are correct they speak for a boom in the US energy markets, and possibly as a consequence for the US ecnomy. We'll see.It seems shale has the potential to be at least a short term game changer, compared to the situation without those added volumes. The question is how much reserves are there and how sustainable is the development of them. It would be very welcome if the reserves were huge and could be developed without unreasonable costs in terms of both money and negative impact on the environment. It would also be welcome if "we" (as in all of us) used the respite we might get to make progress in energy conservation and in viable alternative energies.
...well, this afternoon it was 6 degrees Celsius and the heating was on all day. We had a little snow and ice pellets here on Saturday and today they are predicting 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I know Minnesota is known for wide temperature ranges, but this is a little unusual. I just walked down to Subway and you couldn't ask for a nicer spring day. No 90 degrees yet. I actually mowed grass on Sunday.
Subway = sandwich shop. :)
If they are correct they speak for a boom in the US energy markets, and possibly as a consequence for the US ecnomy. We'll see.Right now the US stock market seems to be predicting a continuing uptick in the economy(it tends to rise before the economy does). Although that could be simply because investors can't find anything in fixed income that looks promising so are forced into stocks. But another, possibly more durable sign, that things are looking up for the economy is the housing market. It too is showing signs of heating up quite a bit. Someone in my neighborhood just put their house up for sale at a price that everyone here where I work thinks is kind of high. If it sells it will be a good sign that things are coming back. Because it won't be just the cheap foreclosures or "fixer upers" that are selling. I'll let you know...
[Lynnette]: "I know Minnesota is known for wide temperature ranges, but this is a little unusual."I'm starting to have some niggling concerns about our climate. I'd be the first to point out that a few cold days does not climate change make. But we've just had our coldest March ever recorded. And the previous March was the warmest ever recorded. And those are just two of a litany of broken records -- coldest winters, wettest summers, and many, many others. This spring put farmers here and in Britain in serious trouble. New lambs died in their thousands in the snow. The disastrously wet summer last year, followed by the extraordinarily long winter, has meant that animal feedstocks are in crisis. We're normally able to grow grass at a reduced level right through winter. We produce food for 35 million people -- nearly ten times our population. Crises in farming are no small matter, especially since the EU has been phasing out the farming grants that lead to historical food surpluses in decades gone by, so many farmers are being pushed to the brink. Here's one local commentator on the issue.[Lynnette]: "Subway = sandwich shop. :)"We have them here too -- I'm not sure where but I've seen ads. Ironically I've only visited them in the States.
[Marcus]: "It seems shale has the potential to be at least a short term game changer, compared to the situation without those added volumes. ... It would also be welcome if [we] used the respite we might get to make progress in energy conservation and in viable alternative energies."A utopian view, unfortunately. I believe the lesson of recent history is that any short term amelioration coming from the shale oil bonus will only serve to make us ever more wasteful.
Lynnette: "Subway = sandwich shop. :)"We know, they are everywhere. I believe we have about 5 of them in little Malmö alone. I read a while ago it's the fastest growing and most widespread chain of "restaurants" in the world with more outlets than McDonalds even. IMO Subway's OK but I usually only eat there when I'm in another country and want something fast and reliable to eat. Normally I prefer burgers.Pete: "I'm starting to have some niggling concerns about our climate. I'd be the first to point out that a few cold days does not climate change make. But we've just had our coldest March ever recorded. And the previous March was the warmest ever recorded. And those are just two of a litany of broken records -- coldest winters, wettest summers, and many, many others."It does seem like the weather is acting up. In Sweden the winters have become totally unpredictable. One winter there's a thick layer of snow for months on end and the next no snow at all. I'm not completely convinced by the CO2-emissions model explanation theory though. It might very well be that it's a contributing factor, possibly the main factor, but I am not convinced the scientists can predict the outcome. Which I guess they realise also and which is why they swapped "global warming" for "climate change".Pete: "A utopian view, unfortunately. I believe the lesson of recent history is that any short term amelioration coming from the shale oil bonus will only serve to make us ever more wasteful."Not my view, but a hope I have. I would agree with your more pessimistic prediction completely, but I hope for some sense to prevail. I still feel that the looming energy crisis is a greater threat than any climate change, especially in terms of global food production. Water scarcity might be an even bigger cause for alarm in many regions. And of course all of them - water, food, energy and the climate - are linked.The problem is politicians and institutions are basically forced to champion economic growth above all else, especally since we're adding a billion people per decade now. So most other concerns are put aside. As for "smart growth" I haven't seen any progress in that area yet.
For the record I'm not just holding my finger in the air to feel which way the wind blows and comment based on that. I've really tried to look into things like energy, food production, water resources and climate. Some of the books I've read are:Confronting Collapse - Michael C RuppertA pessimistic outlook, possibly even alarmist, which basically says "we're fucked" and tries to tell us how to best prepare for the inevitable crisis to come. Ends with an interesting 25-point plan for avoiding disaster, albeit a very short one and talking is easier than doing.Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet - Michael T ClareRecommended. It does deal alot in geopolitics and much of that is of course speculation but it's well based in facts. Thouroghly debunks some alternative energy fantasies.The world in 2050 - Lawrence C SmithPaints a picture where the global North gains in importance but I believe fails in seeing that the North can't to well on its own if the rest of the world falls into despair. Interesting analysis though.Crude World - Peter MaassMainly deals with the relationship between oil and war. Tedious at times but not without insights.Peak Everything - Richard HeinbergAn ambitious attempt to interlink all the issues mentioned before. It does well in describing how dependent our food production regime is on the availability of cheap hydrocarbons. Maybe it does try to take on a bit too much in one book alone.
PeteS: The fodder crisis is the climate crisis come home.Yes. I think the problem is that people can't wrap their minds around how catastrophic a sudden extreme climate change would be on the basics of survival. We are adaptable, yes, but we still need to be given enough time. The whole premise that human activity was the catalyst for this round of climate change was actually a small ray of hope that we could somehow reverse it. Because if left unchecked it bodes very ill for human survival as we know it. And even as I write those words I can't even help myself but think they sound alarmist and perhaps even a little hysterical. Yet I fear them to be true. The blurb I posted regarding the carbon dioxide level being at 400 parts per million on average is a hugely alarming number, or should be. It reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, with one place even reaching 100. Way too warm for May in Minnesota.It's one thing for one locale to have a crop failure, but crop failures globally mean starvation somewhere. Especially if there are those not inclined to share.
[Lynnette]: "Subway = sandwich shop. :)"[PeteS]: We have them here too -- I'm not sure where but I've seen ads. Ironically I've only visited them in the States.[Marcus]: We know, they are everywhere. I believe we have about 5 of them in little Malmö alone.Huh! There, I am forgetting how ubiquitous some chain restaurants can be!It's a nice walk from my office to the nearest Subway, so on a nice day I may get lunch from there. They are at least a little healthier than some fast food chains out there. :)
[Marcus]: I'm not completely convinced by the CO2-emissions model explanation theory though. It might very well be that it's a contributing factor, possibly the main factor, but I am not convinced the scientists can predict the outcome.I believe in the correlation between CO2 and climate change, but I do agree that scientists may not be able to predict the outcome. There may other factors that come into play that may affect climate change, massive volcanic eruptions, meteors striking Earth, etc.Which I guess they realise also and which is why they swapped "global warming" for "climate change".I think "global warming" was confusing people. The warming of the planet will lead to climate change. And it is global climate change that will exhibit the strange swings in temps and precipitation.I've read "The World in 2050", which was rather scary. You may want to read "The Weather Makers" by Tim Flannery. The science was more in depth than some things I have read.
Lynnette: "It's one thing for one locale to have a crop failure, but crop failures globally mean starvation somewhere. Especially if there are those not inclined to share."If (or when) the worst of scenarios come true then I suspect sharing what's there won't be at the top of the agenda. Rather I'd anticipate conflict and mayhem that would make the situation worse. Pessimistic, I know.It could be argued we're already in a tight spot as far as food production goes. It doesn't take that much of a crisis in any of the bigger food production areas to send prices soaring. We in the west might not notice it much but in poor countries a 50% increase in the price of a basic staple has a huge impact. Egypt would starve today if not for emergency money from Gulf countries, and the outlook going forward is not good.One thing I believe we could do is to address the waste in rich countries. I saw a documentary that claims about 40% of the foodstuff calories in the EU goes in the bin. It was almost an equal divide between waste in production (such as sorting out and discarding potatoes that are not of the "right" size and shape), in the retail industry (such as stores throwing stuff that comes close to an expiration date even if it's still perfectly good) and in homes where we throw out much of what we bring home. Difficult to tackle though.
[Marcus] One thing I believe we could do is to address the waste in rich countries.Yes. And it is huge. Having grown up in an era of abundant food we don't realize what it is really like for those in other areas of the world where food is scarce, or too expensive. The nit-pickiness of some people who think produce has to look absolutely perfect is ridiculous. My family always had a backyard garden and you can get some very good product despite blemishes. You just had to know what wouldn't be safe. Obviously a wormy apple would not be good, but a few nicks or bruises won't kill you. Cut them off and make a pie or sauce. No waste.The portion sizes in restaurants are also a problem. Here in the States it seems bigger is always better. I have no problem taking leftovers home, but some people won't do that. Many of the portions are too large for me to eat in one sitting, not to mention leaving room for dessert. :) And I simply refuse to let the food go to waste....stores throwing stuff that comes close to an expiration date even if it's still perfectly good.There's a discount food store down the block from where I work that sells items that are exactly that. The items are still perfectly good, but they have been cleared out by the larger grocery stores. This store sells them at a discount and is quite popular with senior citizens or others on a limited budget. My Mother has gotten things like plums or cherries there that she has canned. They are actually better when they are riper. Fruit is usually shipped so green to the major grocery stores.
I am seeing gas at $4.15 a gallon at a station here. They are blaming it on refinery shutdowns for maintenance.
Hello everyone :)
Hi Zeyad! :-)Lynnette:"My family always had a backyard garden and you can get some very good product despite blemishes."Mine did too, growing up. Now I live in an apartment but I do believe I would like to grow stuff if/when I buy a house with a garden. But I'd be in the minority, most people just want grey garden tiles and a lawn, for the ease of maintenance."The portion sizes in restaurants are also a problem. Here in the States it seems bigger is always better." I was amazed on my visits to the US how large portions are. Even in a cinema I went to I only wanted a small popcorn (which in the US resembles a large one in Europe) but since there was a coupon for a large one that was almost the same price i got that, and it was the size of a garbage bin. I ate about 1/4 of it and threw the rest away. I remember also going to Ruby Tuesday and looking at the meny almost falling for the double half-pound burger with fries and onion rings at $11. It was such a good deal! Then I came to my senses and realised I'd never be able to eat all of that and instead got the double quarter-pouner at $8, which I couldn't finish either. So I almost bought twice the amount of food just because it seemed a better deal. Then there was the time I ordered a 24 oz steak bacause it was the biggest one and I was hungry and didn't know whan an oz resembles in grams. I got a steak of almost a kilogram and so many sides it was ridiculous. When it came I loooked at it and almoust laughed out loud. Left more than half and still couldn't sleep that night because I was so stuffed."I have no problem taking leftovers home, but some people won't do that."I'd do that, but not back to a hotel room."There's a discount food store down the block from where I work that sells items that are exactly that. The items are still perfectly good, but they have been cleared out by the larger grocery stores."Sounds like a good initiative. We need more of that sort of things."This store sells them at a discount and is quite popular with senior citizens or others on a limited budget."Yes, the older generation are not as fidgety either. My old aunt is the same way. She trusts her nose to tell her when things have gone bad, not some expiration date. Simply smelling stuff was how they did it when she grew up."My Mother has gotten things like plums or cherries there that she has canned. They are actually better when they are riper. Fruit is usually shipped so green to the major grocery stores."I recently opened a vacuumed package of soft tortillia breads that expired a year earlier. I had forgotten I had them. They looked, smelled - and tasted - just like new ones.Also eggs are thrown away in Sweden for completely ridiculous reasons. There's an EU standard for the expiration date on eggs but that's set according to eggs being kept in room temperature, which they are in some EU countries. In Sweden they are always refrigirated and thus keeps fresh way longer. But we still have to use the EU standard and stores discard perfectly fresh eggs once the made up expiration date comes along.
Marcus, you should see the portion sizes in Texas, as they say here: everything is bigger in Texas (never complained about it, btw), lol
Nuri al-Maliki is a media man. He knows what he is doing.editorwww.iqdnews.com
I can imagine that Zeyad. I'd like to go to Texas some time, and when I do I'll order one of those ridiculously huge steaks för sure. :)
Pete, what was that spectacle ya'll sent to the Eurovision this year? I know you've done well with ballads in the past but come on, they need to sound good also, they can't just be ballads. Not that we had such a great cntribution this year ourselves. But what did Ireland's song get, was it 5 points in total?
The steaks here in Texas are crazy good
Hello, Zeyad. The steaks here in Texas are crazy good.They better be! That's cattle country. :) everything is bigger in Texas (never complained about it, btw), lol:) Well, most people don't. And I'm really not, exactly. Just commenting that it can lead to waste.
[Marcus]: Now I live in an apartment but I do believe I would like to grow stuff if/when I buy a house with a garden.They can be a lot of work, but the fresh vegetables are so good. During the past 2 days I have spent 3 1/2 hours pulling dandelions out of the raspberry patch and the lawn. Every year it's a never ending battle.I was amazed on my visits to the US how large portions are.I visited England when I was in college and part of the package was what was called a "Continental Breakfast". Basically it was just a roll and a drink. Well, one morning I was rather hungry and asked the server if I could get a couple of eggs. I obviously expected to be charged extra, but she still looked at me as if I were crazy. *shrug* Don't know why.One thing that I could never get used to though was no ice in the drinks. Here we serve cold pop/soda with ice. I recently opened a vacuumed package of soft tortillia breads that expired a year earlier.I think that method of storing food is really very good. A friend of my parents uses that method to save fish he has caught. It keeps them fresher. Eggs here are refrigerated. I have never had any problems with eggs going bad.
Hi Lynnette ;)
Hi Zeyad! :)My college just took at some new e-book loan subscriptions. I was browsing through some new titles and fell across one that I liked the look of a lot. I mentioned in these comments before that I'd love to read a biography of ibn al Haytham, an Iraqi (Basrawi) mathematician/physicist/astronomer from almost exactly a thousand years ago (late 10th to mid 11th c.). The college has a brand new biography just published this year! (Ibn al-Haytham Analytical Mathematics; Rashed, Roshdi, 2013). This guy was up there with the very most famous medieval Islamic scholars, and was known as "Ptolemy the Second" for his astronomical expertise.Unfortunately it's five hundred pages, and I can only read it online. And I'm a million miles behind with my other studies. Some other day.P.S. My favourite restaurant in Boston was "Durgan Park" where the two specials were A) a one pound steak plus a one pound lobster, and B) a two pound (!!!) prime rib. The latter was the most ridiculous thing, didn't come close to fitting on a plate, and most of the guests spent as much time photographing it as eating it :)P.P.S. Lynnette - you always get those refinery shutdowns this time of year in the US, while they switchover from making winter fuel to summer fuel. I would think up there in Minnesota you are one of the later transitions.Right, gotta run ... those composite spectra of quasars won't make themselves :)
[PeteS]: that I'd love to read a biography of ibn al HaythamI'm still waiting to get my hands on an Ali Al-Wardi translated by Hayder al-Khoei that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I'm patient, though.A pound of lobster? lol! Hmmm...I like lobster, but that's a little ridiculous. Not only is it too much food, but lobster is rather rich. I would get sick of it, before I finished.you always get those refinery shutdowns this time of year in the US,Yes, true, but I don't remember the gas spiking so much. Oh well, it is what it is.
If the refineries here had to do a spring fuel transition it would be from "rain resistant" to "extra rain resistant".Speaking of weather, it's quite amazing what a difference five degrees Celsius makes. In a week people have gone from shivering in their homes to lounging in beer gardens wearing skimpy clothes and queuing around the block at Teddy's ice cream shop on Dun Laoghaire east pier. There'll be outright hysteria if the temps get any higher than 19 C (67 F) :-)
Marcus, can you give us a Swede's view of what's going in in Stockholm?
Sure Pete. The problems started in one suburb to Stockholm called Husby. One reason given was that the police had shot a man there a few days earlier. But a lot of people, locals included, say that's just a phony excuse. The man who was shot was 69 years old and police shot him when they were trying to break up a domestic abuse case and he attacked his own wife with a machete.Anyway, 4 nights ago in Husby youths started the new national sport in Sweden: police baiting.It goes like this:1. Set fire to cars.2. Wait for the fire department.3. Cut off the fire hoses and throw stones at the fire trucks and firefighters.4. Set fire to more cars.5. Since the firedepartment now demands police escort some policemen will arrive with the fire trucks, wait for them.6. Fight the police in street battles. It started 4 nights ago in Husby. Then it's been getting worse every night and last night there were fires and riots in 15 suburbs of Stockholm. I'm surprised our local riot-department in Malmö hasn't got around to showing who the ultimate rioters in Sweden are, yet.The reasons are debated with the usual complete denial that exchancing 1% of your population for new immigrants from conflict zones every year, year after year, might have something to do with it. That'd be racist to suggest you see.
Oh, and I might add that the left, and neo-liberals, and basically every single journalist screams that these are poor people who are disenfranchised, as always. They have no hopes, they have been stepped on, we have been so mean to them. Fact is the schools in Husby have more teachers per student than the norm. Way more. We have virtually poured money into these areas in every imaginable way. Here's a picture of our Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt (right bottom corner), handing out free iPads to schoolchildren precisely in Husby: http://avpixlat.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/husby_rasism_2.jpgYou can't try any fucking harder to "integrate" and be nice to people than to send your Prime Minister to give their kids free iPads, can you? Still they burn down their own areas and blame the society, the police and swedes in general. Small wonder we're getting fed up a lot of us.
Marcus,I think the article said something like 16% unemployment rate for youth? So 84% are otherwise occupied, either with jobs or school. I don't think the entire 16% are rioting. It sounds like a small minority are creating the problems. Find them and shut them down.
[PeteS] In a week people have gone from shivering in their homes to lounging in beer gardens wearing skimpy clothes and queuing around the block at Teddy's ice cream shop on Dun Laoghaire east pier.After days of constant rain we are finally seeing the sun. A little chilly, though. I might actaully be able to cut a little grass if I leave a little early today. The yard was looking a little bit like a hay field. A green hay field. :)
Lynnette, those 16% are a national average among youths. Actually it's probably higher than that.Then you might also consider that many (ethnic) swedish youths go to Denmark and even more to Norway to work in menial jobs, and are much appreciated there. And MANY go there.In immigrant-dense neighborhoods the actual figure comes close to 100% in Sweden. First of all the women (who go from raising one child to the next on our paid 24-month parental leave) don't count at all, they'll never work at all. And most of the "employment" otherwise is tax-subsidied projects of various sorts. Even the "real" businesses are usually subsidised and could not stay open if they were faced with the rules, regulations and taxes we have in Sweden as a whole.In Rosengård in Malmö, which is over 10% of the city population in my town, there's about a 90% unemployment rate. It's been gradually worsening no matter how much money we pour in, because new immigants pour in faster.If some immigrant "makes it" the first thing he does is get himself and his family out of those neigborhoods. And in his place a somalian who can't read and can't even read a clock comes in. Someone who lights an open fire and makes a barbecue on the floor in a high rise buliding, because they grew up in mudhuts and can't even work a washing machine. The tear and wear on those buildings is insane, and of course the blame is on the swedes who don't repair them in due course.You do the math lynnette: If the US were to accept 3 million refugees from mostly the middle east, central asia and africa EVERY YEAR, a big part of them being illiterates. And if the US had a wellfare system like Sweden that grants a newcomer more rights than a long term native. How long would you think that'd be sustainable? Please think about that and give a atraight answer.We've been receiving per capita what woule resemble 3 million refugees in the US every year for the past decade. Our immigration today is, per capita, larger than it was in the US in 1890 when the immigration to the US was at it's peak. And back then, in 1890, you got europeans with a similar culture willing to work their asses off. We get hordes of middle easteners, central asian, and africans who more or less hate us and want something, everything, for nothing.Honestly it's a miracle we've lasted this far. We must be pretty unique as a people to be able to live with these strains as long as we have. But my home country is going to burn eventually, I know that, and it saddens me.
Lynnette, after three days of "summer" the weather went backwards again. It's cold and damp, and the heating is back on. It's strange -- it's 10.30pm and I can still see the afterglow of sunset in the sky. A week ago we entered that period where, at this latitude, astronomical twilight lasts all night. It's pretty much the only thing to remind you that it's not still winter.Marcus, yeah, I heard we were a last place disaster in the Eurovision. I didn't watch it this year ... it's a bit of fun, but just too busy. Actually, I'm sure you'll agree, it's more use for telling where the various countries' political sympathies lie in Europe. It certainly ain't about the singing ;-)Marcus, do you think people (especially the right wing) will associate the Stockholm riots and yesterday's brutal murder of a soldier in London. Don't know if you've seen the video of one of the blood-covered cleaver-wielding perpetrators justifying the act on camera while waiting for the police to arrive and shoot him. To some people it will all add up "Islamic" crimes. (Ironically enough, the killer sounded London born and bred, and is apparently a convert from Christianity).
Pete: "Marcus, do you think people (especially the right wing) will associate the Stockholm riots and yesterday's brutal murder of a soldier in London. Don't know if you've seen the video of one of the blood-covered cleaver-wielding perpetrators justifying the act on camera while waiting for the police to arrive and shoot him. To some people it will all add up "Islamic" crimes."I haven't heard anyone really relating those events. The attack in London was front page news here also so sure I've heard of it.That said, if you venture over to those "counter jihad" webpages I'm sure they blame both the Stockholm riots and the London attack on Islam. But I don't buy into their worldview and very rarely find myself reading on those sites. Once in a while I might come across an article and only when it's linked to in another place.Check this out:http://www.friatider.se/parking-tickets-issued-on-wrecks-while-stockholm-burns
Some pretty right wing commentary in the comments on that article, Marcus.Btw, I hate to keep complaining but it is officially bloody freezing here. Daytime high temperatures for next week are not forecast to exceed 13 C (55 F). Plant growth is still weeks behind normal.
Pete: "Some pretty right wing commentary in the comments on that article, Marcus."I bet there is. Fria Tider describes itself as a Paleoconservative newspaper and is strongly opposed to more mass migration to Sweden. It is rightwing, no doubt about that. The articles are usually well put together but the comment field is open, anonymous and un-monitored and frequently resembles a cesspool of hardcore rightwing opinions. I'd bet most swedish neonazis frequently read that webpage even if they have their own that are far more extreme. But you have to realise that ALL mainstream media in Sweden resemble Pravda in their ambition to tell the "right truth", not just the truth. I don't exaggerate here, there are frequent debates in both Norway and Denmark where their media are horrified with ours. So if we want another view we are sometimes pretty much forced to read alternative medias on the Internet, imperfect as they might be. And that you read a certain newspaper and link to it doesn't necessarily mean you agree with all of it. That said, I'm pretty right leaning myself, as you might have guessed, so it suits me just fine (the newspaper, not the comment section).It's cold here as well. We had a week of real summer temperatures about two weeks back but now it's colder than normal again. This morning it was just 4 C when I drove to work.
I checked out that comment section Pete and it was pretty tame actually. The comments can be far worse on other matters.
What about the German commenter, Lukas Hofer, who says of the USA's postwar treatment of Germany: "USA just wanted to destroy our organic grown national identity and replace it with their liberal values". I would have said the USA's role in Germany was about the most enlightened post-conflict arrangement of the 20th c. Sounds like that guy has a problem with de-Nazification. :)Anyway, as you say, probably tame compared to most. He mentions a new party called "Alternative für Deuschland, which is against the EU and the Euro" which I haven't heard of but sounds like probably somewhere between the English Defence League and UKIP in the UK. Must remember to get all my money out of European banks before any of them get a foot in the door.One of our very few economists who predicted the financial crisis and who so far has very accurately predicted the trajectory of post-crisis Europe has also predicted the rise of extreme rightwing parties. Although I can't see them holding the balance of power anywhere except Greece, I think their appeal to the disgruntled masses will lead to a lot of social unrest.
(Breivik in the country next door to you was a foretaste).
Of course he was. The politics our leaders have insisted on for the past 10 years especially but actually since about 1993 can only lead to disaster. Look at this BBC report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22650267A quote: "The influx has come mostly from war-torn countries like Iraq, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Syria. In 2012, Sweden accepted 44,000 asylum seekers, up by nearly 50% from a year earlier."But as you can see in the graph the actual figures are well over 120.000 annually at this point in time, because once asylum is granted relatives start to come and they are not included in the asylum figures because they seek residency based on relations.Why they believe there will be a huge drop in this trend, as the graph suggests, is beyond me. For that to happen something must change. And since the world will hardly become that much more peaaceful and poverty will not be eradicated then the only possible change is a change in our migration laws. For that to happen our country must first burn to the ground it seems.And when you look at those figures, like 120.000 new arrivals from the worst functioning societies in the world remember that we are just 9.5 million (which already include 15% foreign born and). Run with that trend and do your math and sweden as we know it is history in a matter of just a few decades, maybe sooner (some would suggest we're right there already). My question: are we not entitled to a country any longer?Second question: do you believe this kind of development has any chance not to destroy our wellfare state and then our relatively peaceful society?Evidently, and I'm not just talking about this round of rioting but mmuch more that I've brought up before, we're not doing so great with that "integration". Quite possibly because it is a pipedream. We DON'T WANT TO integrate, neither most swedes nor most immigrants. The politicians want us to integrate, but exclude themselves in ethnic enclaves. The journalists wants us to integrate but, have newsrooms whiter than a Waffen SS meeting and live in just a few zipcodes in the centre of Stockholm. You don't see any of them lining up for an apartment in Husby, right? So why should the rest of us?
"What about the German commenter, Lukas Hofer"There are some on the fringes who are adamant this development is orchestrated. You've got the neonazis who claim it's the Jews behind it all. You've got the Counter Jihadists who claim it's the Islamists/muslims who are on a "stealth jihad" to take over Europe.Myself I don't need a big scheme behind it to see why people would flee poverty and/or war. And I'm not surprised many aim for the places with the most welcoming conditions. And I'd like to help, but not at the cost of seeing my country turned to ashes. And I am convinced we could help many, many more in the vicinity of their own countries for a fraction of the huge costs. Our finance minister just recently took 200M SEK from the foreign aid budget to plug a hole in the asylum-budget. That helps a few on the expense of the many.So I'm not buying into any conspiracy but think it's just plain bad politics from spineless and shortsighted leaders. They are driven by ideology and political correctness and are stuck with a storyline that multiculturalism is great in every way. Also those within the main political parties and media who have their doubts sell us out for their own personal gain, since they would be hounded down and possibly sacked if they strayed from the current consensus.
Marcus,If the US were to accept 3 million refugees from mostly the middle east, central asia and africa EVERY YEAR, a big part of them being illiterates. And if the US had a wellfare system like Sweden that grants a newcomer more rights than a long term native. How long would you think that'd be sustainable? Please think about that and give a atraight answer.It wouldn't be sustainable, Marcus. Nor is it fair. What you are describing reminds me a bit of the lifeboat being overwhelmed by those seeking to board in the middle of the ocean. Your immigration laws need to be tightened up a little and the services available need to be shared more equitably.We DON'T WANT TO integrate, neither most swedes nor most immigrants. The politicians want us to integrate, but exclude themselves in ethnic enclaves.And as long as this holds true you will always have divisions that lead to anger and violence. There needs to be fairness in employment opportunities for all and the laws must be followed by all. I know, I know, easier said than done. But if you are seen to be sharing resources equitably perhaps the anger on both sides will subside and people will work together instead of pulling apart. I guess I see this less as a religious issue and more of an economic one.My question: are we not entitled to a country any longer?This leads me to the question of, what does Sweden mean to you?
PeteS,It's cold and damp, and the heating is back on.You just described my weather too! Friday was nice and I managed to clean out some flower beds and put down new wood chips. But the garden hasn't been all planted yet. It got down to 33F overnight a couple of days ago. Too cold for anything to even grow. Today is cold and overcast, so I am hibernating. :)
Zeyad,I hope you have managed to keep your feet dry. I hear San Antonio has had a lot of rain. I did warn you about our weather, didn't I?
Lynnette: "It wouldn't be sustainable, Marcus. Nor is it fair. What you are describing reminds me a bit of the lifeboat being overwhelmed by those seeking to board in the middle of the ocean. Your immigration laws need to be tightened up a little and the services available need to be shared more equitably."A little that was yesterday. Today they need to be completely reversed. So that we as a society can get some chance to "integrate" those who are already here and not be faced with ugly solutions like mass deportations in the near future. But I'm happy to hear you say it's unsustainable, because that's exactly how I feel.Lynnnette: "But if you are seen to be sharing resources equitably perhaps the anger on both sides will subside and people will work together instead of pulling apart."Kids in shools in immigrant dense neighborhoods draw more than twice the costs from the government moneybag than those in more swedish neighborhoods (at least in Malmö annd Stockholm). How much are we supposed to hand out? We are already giving away more than an equal share but get fires and mayhem in return.You have to realise that we pay over 50% in taxes here, and that's on income alone (25% from companies, 30%+ from individuals). On top of that we have 25% VAT on most goods. There's not a whole lot of room for tax increases. Those of us who do work are already paying for ourselves +1, at least. We have chosen that way because we have chosen to have an extremely solid wellfare system. Something I believe can only ever be sustained in a homogenous society btw.Then you're out to lunch and see Somalis with 8 kids in the middle of the day doing nothing, and you know none of them will ever work, just strolling around in the city with their baby-carts. Like if you opened up a china-doll and out pops a new doll just slightly smaller than the first, and there are about 10 of them before you get to the littelest one. You know you're paying for it. And you hear that there will be 20.000 more of the biggest ones this year alone. How can you not despair when you know you're paying for that?
It must be pretty damp in San Antonio ... it even made the evening news over here. News slots for American weather are usually reserved for the most apocalyptic sorts -- tornados and hurricanes (and east coast blizzards back when Irish home owners imagined they could suddenly afford shopping trips to New York ;-)Just paid a two-monthly gas bill. It was like the most expensive from the depths of winter. June is four days away for god sake!
They had close to 10 inches of rain, which is close to a historic record. Last year they were in drought and this year they are getting huge amounts of rain in a short period of time. Just another sign that our weather is screwed up. I think that tornado in Oklahoma that flattened Moore was also. One or two events you can pass off, but there are too many strung together not to believe in climate change. Did you ever get your telescope set up?
According to this, Texas is a "feast or famine" precipitation state.No telescope is still waiting for its dome. My new deadline is August. Too busy until then.
Should be a comma between "No" and "telescope" ... kinda changes the meaning :-)
Lynnette,I understand that Michele Bachmann is retiring, not gonna seek a fifth term as Congresswoman.
Yes! :)))))Of course, we are all speculating as to what lucrative job she is now pursuing.
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