Random stuff

Some interesting news that happened to catch my eye today…

Iraqi_football.jpgThis first item is pretty embarassing. After handily kicking many Iraqi asses in the second Gulf War, Americans got STOMPED by Iraqis in a soccer match, 11-0. Of course, most Americans (and probably most of the people who read this blog) could care less. Why? Because it’s soccer! Who cares about soccer?? Well, it is only the best sport on the planet; but other than that, I guess I can see NFL-heads’ point.

Iraqis beat U.S. 11-0 on return to national stadium (MSNBC)

sars_mask.jpgApparently, and happily, it seems SARS is on the downturn. The article I link to below says it is mainly due to the weather change and to careful hygiene. I want to hope that this SARS thing, at least on an epidemic level, has gone away, but that’s probably a little na├»ve, don’t you think?

How high temperatures and hygiene tamed a killer (Times Online)

ER_Putin.jpgFormer KGB bigwig, Russian president Vladimir Putin is now staying at Buckingham Palace with his wife. This visit is pretty interesting, because it’s the first time a Russian head of state has paid a visit to Britain since 1874. Anyone know what happened a few decades later? Her Royal Highness’s distant cousin (so I hear) and his family were killed after he was deposed from his czarship (is that a word?). Of course after that, as we all know, that great experiment in human civilization that came out so well drove the two countries further apart. Relations between Russia and Britain and the US are pretty interesting to think about. You’ll notice that if Russia ever calls either of the two an “ally,” it is pretty much always in some limited geopolitical context. I forget where I saw this the other day, but I read a remark made by some anonymous Kremlin aide that the hope is that this visit may be the first step toward becoming allies with Britain. Interesting…

Britain rolls out red carpet as Putin begins state visit (Yahoo! Singapore News)

mushbush2.jpgMeanwhile, here in the US of A, another meeting of heads of state is occurring; perhaps more important (or at least relevant) to Americans. Pervez Musharraf, military coup-appointed leader of Pakistan is meeting with Bush, who is eager to reward him for all his cooperation in “the war on terror.” I don’t know what I think of the guy; sometimes he seems to be a good guy, other times not so great. Anyway, India ain’t too happy that he’s gotten in so well with Dubya. Apparently, the big prize Musharraf has had his eyes on this trip was a hoped-for deal with the US in which Pakistan could acquire some F-16s. And they aren’t intending to use ‘em on the al-Qaida freaks (perhaps including Osama, according to Pervez) roaming around the border region on Pakistan’s Afghanistan side. It’s interesting how the US has been pretty much disengaged from the bickering between India and Pakistan, which has, at times, almost elevated to nuclear crisis level. It seems like there are a million webs of connections between different world entities and geopolitical issues. You pull on one, you get a whole lot you didn’t ask for.

Bush Says Osama, Saddam Will Be Captured (ABCNews.com)

Lorne_Craner.jpgAnd then there is the ongoing situation in Burma, where opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has still not been released. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Lorne Craner, has indicated the US has pretty much had it with Burma’s shenanigans. I don’t know what the State Department is planning, if anything. It’s nice that they’re being so vocal in their opposition to the actions of the Burmese government. I think words will be the extent of it, though. I really don’t know what else can be done in this situation. Well, there are sanctions in place and it looks like there will be more to come, but I am very skeptical of the effectiveness of this form of pressure (cf. Cuba, Iraq, Iran, etc. etc.).

Official Says US Has Lost Patience with Burma (Voice of America News)

hp_and_the_ootp.jpgAnd of course there is Harry Potter and his fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This book has broken every record a book can break (well, it seems that way) and the series and its author continue to intrigue me. I’ve experienced firsthand the degree of the unwillingness of most children to read anything. It’s pretty bizarre to me, frankly. It’s also disheartening (as an English teacher) and really perplexing. The Harry Potter books are amazing in that they are breaking records, and the group breaking the records is the very same group that usually “hates” to read. Time has an interesting article on why this may be so. Check it out; it’s a worthwhile read. In the meantime, Christians are still trying to figure out if these books are okay or not. I’ve heard pretty much every view and I think it’s an important question for Christians to keep on asking. I’m still not decided on whether or not I would let my (hypothetical) kids read the books, but I lean toward a more positive stance. At any rate, I have not read them and I would like to, at least to see what all the hype is about. Perhaps some enlightenment on the subject of whether they are appropriate for Christian children to read would come to me as well. Thus, I’ve finally added them to my Amazon wish list, which has simply become a list of books I don’t want to forget about and maybe someday purchase. You should check it out; it is now an impressive nineteen(!!) pages long!

Well, as always, I love to hear what you think about stuff going on in the world, so post it up! Ciao.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force Strikes!

I just thought those of you who are in to government conspiracy theory/alien cover-up/Area 51 stuff would find this turn of events interesting.

Apparently, some guy who lives relatively near to Area 51 has been doing some investigations on his own. He evidently went too far and his house has been searched by the Joint Terrorism Task Force. What’s that all about? From what this article says, it seems like he’s just some harmless paranoid guy. Strange…

I’ve been pretty sick lately. Keep me in your prayers.

By the way

Oh yeah, it’s Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday today. She’s still being held prisoner, despite the efforts of the UN and threats of sanctions from the US. Here’s an article from The Globe and Mail:

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi spends 58th birthday in detention

suukyi2.jpgPlease remember to pray. And check out the comments Isaac posted in response to my previous post about Burma.

It’s That Time of Year…

Well, it’s that time of year when all poor teachers get to find summer jobs, just like their students!! Ain’t that cool?

Those of you who know me will probably not be surprised to learn that once again I have joined the hard-working crew at the Battered Women’s Thrift Store (just “BW,” if you’re writing a check, by the way) in beautiful (haha) downtown VTA.

Ever since my senior year of high school I’ve been employed by the BW in some capacity or another. This time is different though; I’ve finally become …… A PRICER!! Yay! I think pricing is the best job in the whole joint. You get a bonus if you meet certain quotas (unlike the floor job, which I don’t think is that fair), you only have to deal with customers when you’re putting your merchandise out on the floor, and you don’t have the headaches a manager would have. And the best part: the work keeps you busy pretty much the whole time, so your day goes by fast. That’s a BIG plus for me. Oh yeah, and you don’t have to deal with customers as much. Did I mention that?

I’m pricing for the department they call “Bric-a-Brac.” I don’t know what the heck that means (if anything) or where the name came from, but it sounds appropriate for the stuff that is sold in that department: namely trinkets, kitchen stuff, containers of all sorts, and lots of useless crap (some of it’s pretty nice crap, though). Anyway, my theory on the name is that it is some kind of onomatopoeia for the stuff it represents. I can never spell that word correctly the first time, by the way. And I’m an English teacher!! I am ashamed. That darn “a” in the middle always gets me. Darn “a”…

Okay, that’s it for now. I think I’ll update this entry with pictures!! That’ll be exciting. On the other hand, I might flake out, so don’t hold your breath or anything. Bye.

Pray for Burma

UPDATE: Suu Kyi is apparently alive and unharmed. UN ambassador Razali says he thinks she’ll be released relatively soon. That’s good news, I guess.

UN Envoy: Burma to Free Opposition Leader Soon (VOA)

I don’t know that much about Burma (or Myanmar, as it’s also called), but I do know it’s not in good shape right now. For more than a decade, it’s been ruled by a military junta, which has a track record of serious human rights violations.

suukyi.jpgLeader of the opposition party, the National League for Democracy, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi has been taken into “protective custody” by the government (which has had her confined twice before) after she and a group of supporters were attacked. The Burmese government says she’s okay, but won’t let anyone see her. Many are fearing the worst. The Red Cross has requested to see her, but who knows if they’ll be able to.

With an oppressive government, led by an expert in psychological warfare, that has chosen to ignore democratic elections in which Suu Kyi was overwhelmingly voted to be leader, conditions in Burma are not good. The people there suffer greatly.

I have been only partially aware of what has been going on there and I again find myself in one of those situations in which I simultaneously wonder why and kind of know the answer. Burma, like places such as the Sudan, is, for some reason, just “off the radar” of most Americans, because it just doesn’t seem to make the news. Why is this? I guess because it’s not in “the national interest,” or something like that.

But then again, what can be done? I don’t have much of an answer. But, as a Christian, I know God hears the cries of the downtrodden. The oppressed are his favorites. So I will pray for the people of Burma and for the safety of its legitimate leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Here are some other articles:

UN seeks access to Suu Kyi (BBC)

Editorial: Myanmar Crackdown (Arab News)

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,

of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.

And he will destroy on this mountain

the shroud that is cast over all peoples,

the sheet that is spread over all nations;

he will swallow up death forever.

Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces

and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken.

It will be said on that day,

Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.

This is the Lord for whom we have waited;

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.

-Isaiah 25.6-10

Save us, oh God.