Here is an interesting map of terrorist strikes since 1968 (the birth of modern terrorism). Greenland has not had a terrorist attack. Sweden, however, has. Jihad in Sweden attacked the Stockholm site of an Iraqi election at the end of 2005, the last attack. The molotov cocktail failed to ignite. Too bad it didn’t blow while they were practicing at home…
October 31, 2006
According to Robert Pape (via Business Week), 42% of suicide bombers have post-secondary educations. I am currently in the research phase of writing a paper about terrorism, so expect a few more things like this as I find them. I really want to get some of Robert Pape’s books, seeing as how he is an expert in the field, but the only one that our university has is Bombing To Win, which deals with airpower rather than blowing yourself skyhigh.
October 30, 2006
Hat tip to Andrew Stuttaford over at the Corner. According to Johan Norberg, the prime minister of Georgia, Zurab Nogaideli (not Sonny Perdue) has plans to make Georgia into a free trade center of the region . The plan? Sell all government companies and all government assets.
I wish the good minister the best of luck, and based on Norberg’s previous report (next posting down on the page), they’re doing a pretty good job of getting into shape. Just don’t join the EU; that’s my advice…
October 29, 2006
So there I was, playing Madden this morning, when I read the Team Captain snippet that shows up before a game begins. “Team captains are the unofficial spokespersons for their franchise.” Politicial correctness has destroyed our language enough; can we now not even play a video game in which all of the characters are male (and there are no options of creating female characters) without sex-neutral language? I mean, I can understand it in a game such as metric football, where most of the men are feminine enough* to warrant sex-neutral language. But this is real football. I’m not sure which is sadder: the idea that some editor saw “spokesmen” and changed it to “spokespersons” or that some writer has so lost any grasp of eloquence that he automatically inserts the nasty word by training. Really, it’s just sad. Almost as sad as my halfbacks, who are trying to end up 32nd in the league in rushing.
* – Any sport in which long-haired men flop around and pretend to be hurt after the slightest touch deserves the “effeminate” appelation. It doesn’t mean that metric football can’t be enjoyable to play, but that’s the thing that makes me dislike it so much on the international level.
Daylight Savings Time — It cost me an hour of sleep. NOTHING costs me sleep and gets away with it. Another casualty of World War I: when will the killing end? When?!?
October 28, 2006
The weather has been mighty fine here these last couple of days, so I’ve not had much interest in doing anything useful. But I’m still going to blab about it. Why? Because I really have nothing better to write about, and Dan has been kidnapped by Colombian, left-wing drug barons. Why they would go after Dan rather than Tony or me, I’m not sure, but maybe because Stockholm Syndrome would set in quicker with him.
On Friday morning, I got to town at 8 AM so that I could deal with the grinding menace of German bureaucracy. By 11, I was finally done with the grinding menace of the German bureaucracy. I would have been done by 9 AM, but I didn’t have everything I needed. The one thing that I actually needed was a bank statement showing that I was financially self-sufficient. It took roughly 10 minutes to get it, but then I had to wait in line again. The entire reason I got there at 8 was so that I wouldn’t have to wait in a long line (because the office opened at 8 AM). But while I was sitting there, waiting for the queue to wind its way down to me, I did get a chance to do some reading for my classes, so it wasn’t entirely wasted. Oh, when I say “queue,” I really don’t mean that. In this bureaucratic office, there is no queue. Instead, there are some chairs sitting around, but not in any way that could really be distinguished as a line, particularly when you have 12 people waiting. There are no waiting lists, no tickets, nothing to tell you that I really am ahead of you. See, bureaucracy is bad enough; bureaucracy without externally-given, well-defined queueing is terrible. For all the problems that I have with the BMV, the Post Office (though that’s gotten better in recent years), and so forth, at least you have a line and you know when it’s your turn. But enough kvetching…about that…
After this, I went and messed around in the computer lab for a while, and then had lunch with a friend. That was rather fun. She was talking about how pretty much everyone she knows is either an attractive woman or an old man. “I could live with that,” I said… I also got her to translate an introductory paragraph into Chinese, so that I may use it for the Chinese tutorial of microeconomics. My goal is to give the appearance that I know more than I actually do, and the first step is to memorize a few lines of Chinese and spit them out in front of a class. The second step is to dress up nicely, to distinguish myself from all of the shulbs at the university. I know this is a college town full of college students, but really, I’m kind of disgusted that nobody around here actually tries to look nice. Granted, I rarely try to look nice, myself (unless “disheveled and zoned out” counts, and it usually doesn’t), but somebody should at least try to make an effort, so I guess it’ll have to be me. Either that or I’m making excuses to give me the chance to wear my hat more often…
Friday night was good as well. I got to meet up with some folks I hadn’t seen in a while, and there were impromptu Hebrew lessons going around. I did not really partake therein, and I admit that I forget most of what was said, but hey, the food was good, and I (just barely) made the last S-bahn of the night…
I decided to walk to synagogue this morning, and was all decked out. The hat is of excellent quality, and the walk isn’t even all that bad…now… Somehow, I think I’ll find excuses not to do it when January rolls around, but at least I’m building up orthodoxy points.
Now it’s Saturday night and I’ve done very little of use for my classes. Instead, I slept most of my Saturday afternoon away. Fortunately, I have all day Sunday to do some reading, which means I might actually do a page or two of it…
October 26, 2006
“By some theoretical construct, it is possible that I could be doubting my wisdom of being right about what about I’m wrong about, maybe—I don’t know, and of that I am certain.”
Folks, give this a listen. It is hilarious. Freaking hilarious! If you want the full context, check out the Andrew Sullivan interview with Hugh Hewitt. Lileks is consistently one of the funniest and wittiest guys out there, whether he’s talking about his daughter, the local Target, or the Bush administration’s complicity in the tornado threat…
My first week of class is officially over. As such, here are some notes to help you enjoy it almost as much as I did. The theme: better late than never.
– Monday I already talked about. On Tuesday, I had a seminar meeting from 14-16.00. Unfortunately, I was still on American 12-hour time and wrote down 4-6. Fortunately, I just happened to run into somebody in that seminar who was exiting another room and had a chance to talk to him about the course, so I got the major details and learned that the talkative professor who would make this a 2-hour discussion wasn’t around, so it turned into a 30-minute briefing. I then went to the professor’s assistant’s office and filled out the registration information, after telling him why I missed the class. This took all of 15 minutes, including going over the pertinent details. It helped that I had a seminar last semester with the same professor, so most of the details were the same.
– Wednesday morning, I had to meet with the micro professor concerning the Chinese tutorial. The meeting was at 9, and I didn’t wake up until 8:07. I missed the streetcar which would have made me only moderately late and ended up meeting him at 9:15. Fortunately, we didn’t have too much to discuss, as I had class at 10 and he had a semester opening affair with the rector (hmm…that sounds kind of funny when I put it that way…).
– Speaking of that class at 10, it turns out that Organizational Economics doesn’t meet until week 2 of the semester. So instead, I screwed around in the computer lab and had lunch. Lunch ended just in time to get to International Monetary Economics. By 12 PM (class starts at 12:15), the entire room was jam-packed with people. I had to take a chair all the way in the back. Not a seat, mind you—just a chair. And I was one of the fortunate ones… There were dozens of people who had to find chairs from other rooms or just stand throughout the class. I hope that there can be a room swap, because it’ll otherwise be difficult to find a seat come next week. I also found out that this class would not have a tutorial today (Thursday) or Tuesday, but would next meet on next Thursday. Furthermore, the lecture itself would next take place on Wednesday, instead of there being one today (again, still Thursday). This is why my Thursday was able to end at about 12 PM rather than 6.
– The date for Artificial Intelligence changed and it now conflicts with my classes. This sucks quite a bit, so I will be unable to take it. Instead, I decided to just take Management Models. With that class in hand, the fact that I am only doing one seminar (rather than the two I anticipated) no longer makes it so that I have to take a course next semester. Management Models seems like it could be a somewhat interesting modeling and model-solving course which would be great for an MBA program, but that’s not really what I’m interested in. There is, however, some amount of programming which I can do, so that’ll make up for it, I hope.
– This morning, I had microeconomics. I had it down on my schedule at 10 AM, but class actually started at 9. Oops. Fortunately, it’s a really big lecture hall, so I was able to sneak in and sit in the back. It’s not like I actually need to pay close attention anyhow; I just take general notes to figure out what he’s doing, and then answer questions/create problems based off of that. While sitting in the back, I got to see how many people in my program need to re-take micro. The answer: a pretty fair number. I didn’t catch how many Chinese students failed the first year (because they all sit way up in the front, whereas the non-Chinese more often sit closer to the back, so I can actually see them), but from what I remember, that number is also extremely high. Looking at my “What Would Mr. T Do?” bracelet, I must pity the fools.
That was my week of excitement, intrigue, and mystery. But wait, there’s more! Even though I’m going to spend the rest of today slacking and trying to shake off the last vestiges of jet lag, I still have plenty of stuff to do tomorrow, including:
– Manhandling the bureaucracy to get loads of paperwork done. To do this, I must be in the office by 8 AM (so that I don’t have to wait 2 hours due to the line).
– Printing out and reading junk for classes.
– Reading about terrorists and (hopefully) how to stop them. My thought is infiltrating a bunch of terrorist cells and rising up to leadership positions. Then, we would draft a good 90 or 100 suicide bombers and give them all the same target: an Israeli bus. The thing, though, is that the bus will actually be empty except for the terrorists (who we’ll tell to dress like Israelis so that they can stay under cover). Then we blow up the bus. I’m not sure how many times we can pull this off before it stops working, but I’m hoping to have a big chain of buses lined up for that first strike. It’s so brilliant of a plan that it’s bound to work! Just as importantly, I plan on having a lot of hidden cameras on the bus, so that when the terrorists start to figure out that they’ve been duped, we can capture their hilarious faces and sell a videotape of it. Maybe we could call it Hamas’ Funniest Home Terrorists and have Bob Saget do the voiceovers.
– Having lunch with a friend.
– Meeting another friend to give her my old notes for macroeconomics.
– Having Joooo dinner. I’ve been hungering for the flesh of Christian babies in the form of matzot for a while…err…
So as you can tell, I’m obviously leading a more intersting life than Tony. Eat it, Tony!
Now I shall leave you all with my wisdom of the week, this time concerning the word ‘capitulation': “We don’t use that word in the English language…well, except when describing the French.”
October 25, 2006
I thought I would inform you, dear reader, about some of the goings on in my life. Here are the highlights:
– My cousin came for a visit and got pwned at Monopoly not once, but thrice. We saw Carlos Menica (a very funny man) perform live and also watched movies. A good time was had by all.
– My quest to ascend a third time in KoL has met with heavy resistance, thanks to my lack of a levitating potato. I may get to level 15 before I get one, which would make me sad.
– I may be grading papers for a military history class next semester. More importantly, this means money, or as I like to call it, filthy lucre or perhaps Joooooooooo gold.
– I received my Ukrainian-English dictionary today. It is full of many, many words. Unlike many books, however, it opens with “Honored reader!” I’ve never been called that before. It’s very humbling.
That is the entirety of my life. I leave you with my new favorite South Park quote: “You shouldn’t have done that, he’s only a boy.”
I’ve started reading a new book today: Inside Terrorism by Bruce Hoffman. This is for a seminar on the political economy of conflict and power, and my topic concerns terrorism, so I figured I would try to get as much information as I could about this topic. The interesting part thus far is the Inner Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. The description of the organization—as well as what they actually did—was fairly blase: a nationalist group which popped up against the Ottoman Empire and never really amounted to much. The much more interesting part was ribbing my Greek friend about it. Apparently, he had never heard of such an organization, saying that if such a thing existed, it was probably just Bulgarians doing it, as “Macedonia” (oy, you should hear the words he has about that country) was a mix of Greek, Serb, Bulgarian, etc. and had no national group or nationalist rallying point (such as language, culture, or ethnicity) of its own.
So that’s your Balkan Lesson of the Day. Stay tuned for the next episode, in which we discuss how Albanians are the butt of every—and I mean every—joke…