Thursday, December 29, 2005

Florida Teen Travels to Baghdad--Alone

A Florida teen of Iraqi parents decided to travel to Baghdad--without telling his parents. This Associated Press exclusive is one incredible story, and the boy is very fortunate to be alive.

His name is Farris Hassan, which immediately brings up the comparison to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." He was taking a class in school in "Immersion Journalism" and decided to put it into practice, telling only two high school buddies of his plans. Photo of Farris here.

The money quote:
"There is a struggle in Iraq between good and evil, between those striving for freedom and liberty and those striving for death and destruction," he wrote.

"Those terrorists are not human but pure evil. For their goals to be thwarted, decent individuals must answer justice's call for help. Unfortunately altruism is always in short supply. Not enough are willing to set aside the material ambitions of this transient world, put morality first, and risk their lives for the cause of humanity. So I will."

"I want to experience during my Christmas the same hardships ordinary Iraqis experience everyday, so that I may better empathize with their distress," he wrote.
Foolish or not, the kid sure has moxie.

UPDATE: Hassan's essay is here.

Props: KisP and Lucianne

Iraq Map: CIA World Factbook

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas 1968

This year I am staying put; it is one of the rare Christmas days I am not spending with my family. We are all scattered now, and spending Christmas together means that two of us must fly to be with the others regardless of whom is hosting Christmas. I have a sister in Chicago, whom lives with her husband and daughter, and a mother in Florida. We are all staying in our respective states this year. So I decided to get out some old photo albums and take a look at Christmases past.

The pictures below are from Christmas 1968. They were taken in the basement of our family home in Michigan. The basement was furnished, as you can see, and functioned as an entertainment room and a family room. I have great memories of good times in that basement. Everything from my dad's work buddies coming over to play poker, to the times we spent together as a family watching television, and everything in between. On this particular occasion, we stood one by one by the tree to commemorate the occasion. Photos with all four of us are rare since either mom or dad had to be the one behind the camera.

First, Mom:



And then, Dad:



My Sister, whom is four years older than me:



And finally, Me:



My parents usually hosted a Christmas party at some point during the season. I often ended up being the one to fetch the beer. Since it is cold in Michigan, our back porch would be the auxiliary freezer and refrigerator for beverages and food. The porch was carpeted and screened. In the winter we put plastic sheeting over the screens to keep out the snow. If there was not enough room in the fridge or freezer to store food during the winter, just cover the dish and set it on the porch. The porch was actually colder than the fridge or freezer anyway. Those that live in warmer climates do not have the luxury of a carpeted walk-in freezer! At least for a few months out of the year, anyway.

So to all I wish a great Christmas day. And I hope you have lovely memories like the ones I have that the pictures above represent.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

USA Today Sneaks A Change

USA Today has changed yesterday's editorial entitled "Hard to be humble" to get rid of an apparently erroneous reference to the Second Amendment.

Yesterday I was reading "Hard to be humble," which to me seems to be a cynical take on President Bush's recent "communications offensive" to garner support for the Iraq war. The dateline of the editorial I read says "Posted 12/19/2005 8:35PM."

I ran across some wording that seemed very strange to me in the sixth paragraph. Sensing that someone at USA Today would catch that and change it, I saved the article as a PDF file so I could compare it today. Below is a screencap of the fifth, sixth, and seventh paragraphs from the PDF file, originally "Posted 12/19/2005 8:35PM." Click for larger version:


Strangely, the first version of the USA Today editorial says that President Bush claims his wiretapping authority comes to him as part of the Second Amendment.

I couldn't believe what I was reading. Where in the world did the President claim that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms has anything at all to do with authorizing wiretapping and surveillance? Obviously, it was a mistake. As mentioned before, I saved a PDF of the editorial, and a link to check back on the editorial at a later time.

Then I read today's version of the editorial, which now has a dateline of "Posted 12/20/2005 12:51PM." Seems that someone caught the error. Below is a screencap of the fifth, sixth, and seventh paragraphs from the PDF file, from the changed editorial, "Posted 12/20/2005 12:51PM." Click for larger version:


The new version simply refers to "the Constitution" and the specific reference to the Second Amendment has been removed.

The question is, how could such an obvious error make its way into an editorial? Surely USA Today has editors, don't they? Moreover, there is no mention at all about the fact that the editorial was changed.

The editorial concludes with the words
So far, though, his [Bush's] style mainly reminds us of the lyrics from the old Mac Davis song: "Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble, but I'm doing the best that I can."
How about showing us a little humility, USA Today, by acknowledging and explaining the change. It may be hard, but just do the best you can.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Presidential Jams

No, not political jams or the type spread on toast. In a snippet of unrehearsed candor, President Bush describes the musical choices he keeps on his iPod.

Props: Nealnews

iPod photo: Powerpage.org

UPDATE: The link seems a bit dodgy. You might have to try a few times to make it work.