Global News

So the Casamance is no longer a dangerous place. The Senegalese government has signed a peace deal with the rebels. This is very good news for that region, and for all of Senegal.

And as MeFi points out the folly with some of the governmental relief efforts:

Our country is more humanitarian than YOURS is! No it’s not. Yes it is. See? We donated more aid than you did. Well, we doubled our donation. So there. But yours are loans, not donations. Nuh uh. They’re donations. Are not. Besides, we’ll triple ours. And we’ll send planes. You wouldn’t. Watch us. Well then, we’ll just octuple ours. Yeah? I bet you won’t. I quadruple dog dare you. I hate you… you know that, right?

T-minus 11 hrs 30 min

Turducken went into the oven at 6:30 am Pacific.

My parents’ oven timer doesn’t go beyond 9 hours 50 min.

Slightly less daunting this time, but was made more daunting by the fact that the butchery had cut through the skin already, requiring the use of sewing needles, which were not needed last year. Crisis (and 6 am trip to Albertson’s) was averted by finding them in a kitchen drawer.

Thanks again to Sarmad for being such a good sport — and being willing to participate, even though he’s not partaking. (Duck is taboo in Iraq.)

Time to sleep.

Helping those in SE Asia

My thoughts go out to the tsunami/earthquake-striken people of SE Asia. My grandmother knows at least a dozen people in that region. When I left Berkeley this morning (in Santa Monica now), we got a call from one friend in northern Thailand, who said that all was well, but that they did feel it.

If you’re able and you feel so inclined, you can donate money through the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

I love Berkeley

The more I’m here, the more I realize just how much I love Berkeley. From the “Happy Happy” guy, to Intermezzo, to Kingpin, to Berkeley Bowl, to my Grandparents, to my great friends who live here — I just love Berkeley. I really want to come back here.

In a nutshell, Sarmad and I both safely arrived a few days ago, and we’re headed down to sunny SoCal tomorrow.

His first day here, the 22nd, we walked around San Francisco, from Civic Center, down to the Ferry Building and then up to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we perused the Musée Méchanique (one of my favorite SF sites) before catching the ferry back to Oakland. It was a gorgeous day and we took lots of pictures. Free AC Transit transfer from the ferry ticket provided a lift (via the 51) to campus, where we met for lunch at Naan N’ Curry.

The 23rd, we headed up to Murphys, CA to visit my friend Brynna and her family, in the Sierras. We even went to Big Trees.

Yesterday we drove through the city and had lunch on Fillmore, and drove across the Golden Gate. had a small Christmas Eve dinner and went to church. Came back and had cookies and tea. Bed. Fell asleep watching my newly-purchased Season 1 of Star Trek TOS. No verdict yet (I haven’t seen it before.)

Today was probably one of the most relaxed Christmases that I remember in awhile. Maybe it’s because we (the four grandchildren in the family) are getting older now. Martin, the youngest, will be 18 in March. I’m almost 23, and my brother, Alex, and my other cousin, Nena, are both 19. Just gifts, relaxing, cooking a simple turkey dinner, dessert, and hanging out with everyone, plus my other cousin Babak.

Loot included:

A few books from various people, all look good. A cookbook from Reza. Some great Nigerian figurines (c. 1963) from my grandparents. A World Series 2004 BoSox hat from Heidi. An original 1988 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Michaelangelo action figure (new-in-box). (And from before, a CD of Fresh Air interviews from Maria and Alex.) Thanks again to everyone!

Some photos from the last few days.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

So as a Christmas gift to everyone (and also to myself), I’ve created a new website devoted to podcasts, mostly themed around my travels about the world.

The Wanderlust Geek

Oh yes, my life in New York would be complete, if . . .

There is a rumor floating around my neighborhood Yahoo Group that Trader Joe’s has leased space at Broadway and 103rd Street (taking the street-level space in the new Columbia dorm being built there). Does anyone know anything about this?


Greetings from Seattle

So I caught a 7:30 am flight (which turned out to be a 7:00 am flight, so good thing I was a little early) from JFK to SEA this morning, which meant that I had to leave my apt at 3:30 am to take the subway, and then the AirTrain all the way out to JFK, and I barely had enough time to check Lane’s bag and make the flight.

In Seattle, I was greeted with the fact that my flight time had changed, and then was delayed twice — in theory I should be arriving in OAK a little after 5 pm. In related news, my Iraqi friend from Columbia, Sarmad, who is spending Xmas break with me in CA, had his flight from LGA cancelled this afternoon, so he gets in tomorrow evening.

It started snowing in NYC last night.

And I finished recording my stories from Guinea-Bissau, and am considering putting them up online as a podcast. It’s about 2.5 hrs of stories, divided up into about eight parts.

And I’ve started book editing. I’m nearly halfway done with my first read-through.

And I’ve updated my MT version on my blog to MT 3.121, and I’m re-enabling comments, given that they have the TypeKey recognition thingy in place, so maybe I won’t get 500 comment spams anymore. We’ll see.

For my listening pleasure, I have my choice of my recordings of yesterday’s edition of This American Life, and A Prarie Home Companion (thanks to Radio Recorder!), not to mention new editions of Dawn and Drew, and Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code — and Boyk’s new Bollywood for the Skeptical soundtrack and accompanying site.

Ah, the joys of time-delayed and customized listening!

Score another one for Jesusland.

On a WTF!?! note:

Nearly one in two Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict civil liberties for Muslim-Americans, according to a nationwide Cornell University poll on terrorism fears.

. . .

The Cornell survey found 44 percent favored at least some restrictions on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Forty-eight percent said liberties should not be restricted in any way.

The survey asked respondents about four specific restrictions, all of which have been seriously suggested, noted Shanahan.

Specifically, the survey found:

27 percent of respondents said all Muslim Americans should be required to register their location with the federal government.

26 percent said mosques should be closely monitored by U.S. law enforcement agencies.

29 percent agreed undercover law enforcement agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations to keep tabs on their activities and fund raising.

22 percent said the federal government should profile citizens as potential threats based on the fact they are Muslim or have Middle Eastern heritage.

The survey also examined the relation of religion to perceptions of Islam and Islamic countries and found the more religious a person described themselves, the more negative their views on Islam.

The amount of attention paid to TV news also had a bearing on how strongly a respondent favored restrictions.

. . .

In each of the four instances, Republicans favored restrictions by an almost 2-to-1 margin over Democrats and Independents.

Did it strike anyone else that this article/survey uses the phrase Muslim-American? Should we start using Christian-American or Buddhist-American?

On another note, I just discovered Ted Leo and The Pharmacists. “Me & Mia” is a kickass song.

When will the Dodgers management pull their head out of their ass? (Pt. 2)

LA Times:

Dodger General Manager Paul DePodesta expressed disappointment, but he immediately moved on, closing in on a three-team trade that would send right fielder Shawn Green, starting pitcher Brad Penny and reliever Yhency Brazoban to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pitcher Randy Johnson, the five-time Cy Young Award winner, would go from Arizona to the New York Yankees, who would send starter Javier Vazquez and two highly regarded minor leaguers to the Dodgers.

Bill Plaschke rips Frank McCourt a new one:

Here’s what’s ludicrous:

The Dodgers had worked out the basics for the Green and Penny salary dump before Beltre signed É and their offer still fell 30% short of the Seattle Mariners’ deal.

Here’s what’s absurd:

Beltre, who didn’t want to leave, gave the Dodgers every chance to match the Mariners’ deal and the Dodgers refused to even come close.

Said DePodesta: “We didn’t let Adrian walk. Adrian chose to leave.”

Retorted agent Scott Boras: “Adrian Beltre valued his time as a Dodger, and certainly made sure the Dodgers were completely aware of other offers before making his decision.”

Word is, it’s not DePodesta’s fault. Word is, he’s doing the best he can with whatever loose change McCourt allows him to pluck from underneath the cushions.

It’s amazing how McCourt could sit behind home plate throughout the season and fail to realize his most important job of the winter, the first real test of his regime.

Nothing mattered but signing Beltre.

Jose Lima wouldn’t have mattered. Steve Finley wouldn’t have mattered. Trade half the team and it wouldn’t have mattered.

You keep Beltre, you keep the soul of the Dodgers’ batting order, the cornerstone of their fielding, the rock of their future.

The guy is 25. The Dodgers have invested nine years in his development. Last season he rewarded them with one of the best offensive seasons at his position in baseball history.

He is a model citizen, a Los Angeles resident, a clubhouse force who made the Spanish-speaking players feel included and kept Milton Bradley out of fights.

All this and, last season, he hit 48 homers while playing his home games in Dodger Stadium on one leg.

If McCourt wouldn’t sign this guy, which of his stars will he sign?