Earthquake

We had an earthquake this morning! It woke me up at 5:01am. It sounded like a football team running across the roof of the house. The lamp shade on my bedside lamp vibrated for 3-4 minutes.

News summary:

A moderate earthquake has shaken the southeastern United States, which is a rare occurrence for that region.

Officials at the National Earthquake Information Center say the quake measured 4.9 on the Richter scale. It was centered near the border between Alabama and Georgia.

Media reports indicate the quake was felt as far away as North Carolina and Kentucky. There were no reports of significant damage or injuries.

Nice guy finishes first!

Couples gets back into winner’s circle

April 27, 2003
GolfWeb Wire Services

HUMBLE, Texas — Fred Couples was overwhelmed and nearly speechless after capping his first victory in five years with a birdie on the final hole of the Shell Houston Open.

“I mumbled a few things, then basically wanted to get … out of there,” Couples said, after breaking into tears on the 18th green following Sunday’s four-stroke win. “I needed to regroup a little bit.

7th Wedding Anniversary

Wedding Anniversary

On this day in 1996 Ann and I were married. Thanks to Ann for seven great years. I’m looking forward to many more.

On the first day of autumn in 1995 I proposed to Ann on the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. What a memorable start to this marriage!

The Third Bubble

Excerpts from The Third Bubble

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Like the stock market and corporate bubbles, the terrorism bubble was the product of a kind of temporary insanity, in which basic norms were ignored and excessive behavior was justified by new theories. In the case of the terrorism bubble, we were told that suicide bombing was the work of desperate people who had no other way to get America’s or Israel’s attention.

People across Europe and the Arab-Muslim world bought such theories. Some Muslim religious leaders even came up with rulings justifying the suicide bombing of civilians in pizza parlors. Arab media called the terrorists “martyrs.” It was moral creative accounting: if you are weak, there is no limit on what you can do, and if you are strong ? like America and Israel ? you have no moral right to defend yourself. Worse, after 9/11, some in the Arab-Muslim world actually believed they had found a new balance of power with America ? through the suicide bomber.

And we in America believed them, so we blew up the bubble more. We contorted our whole open society, and imprisoned ourselves. My daughter’s high school symphony orchestra trip to New Orleans was canceled because of the recent terrorism alerts. Insane.

Yes, this Iraq war was about Saddam. For George Bush and Tony Blair, though, I think it was about something larger, but unstated. They were implicitly saying: “This terrorism bubble has come to threaten open societies and all they value. So, we’re going to use Iraq ? because we can ? to demonstrate to you that we’ll come right into the heart of your world to burst this bubble. Take note.”

We and the Arab-Muslim world must now draw the right conclusions. One hopes Americans will now stop overreacting to 9/11. Al Qaeda is not the Soviet Union. Saddam was not Stalin. And terrorism is not communism. America sliced right through Iraq. It did so because we are a free-market democracy that is capable of amassing huge amounts of technical power. And it did so because our soldiers so cherish what they have that they were ready to fight house to house from Basra to Baghdad. That was the real shock and awe for Iraqis ? because the terrorism bubble said Nasdaq-obsessed Americans were so caught up with the frivolity of modern life, they had lost the will to fight. Wrong.

We are strong because of who we are. Iraq was weak because of what it was. So, yes, let’s add a metal detector or two at the airports, but let’s stop thinking we have to remake our whole society, constrict all civil liberties, ban all Arab students and throw out all our foreign policy doctrines that have served us so well ? from deterrence to collective security to the usefulness of the U.N. ? to meet this new terrorism threat. We do not, and we must not.

The New York Times 4/20/2003

Some looters returning booty

Muslim cleric forbidding Iraqi wives from having sex with looter husbands

Click here for Story…

Some looters returning booty
Carol Rosenberg
Knight Ridder Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Some people are surrendering the booty they took in the Dura district of Baghdad, perhaps in response to a rumored edict by a Muslim cleric forbidding Iraqi wives from having sex with looter husbands.

Muslim clerics have been demanding that ill-gotten goods be surrendered, though none here could confirm the sex-ban order, said to have been issued in Najaf. One cleric said the rumor of the edict was widespread and that it would be consistent with Islamic teaching.

A good Muslim woman would not let this man touch her, as a signal to everybody that this is not a way to behave,? said Sheik Ali Jabouri, who also preached Monday morning that people must give up their loot.

Why they’ll really hate us

BuzzMachine&nbsphttp://www.buzzmachine.com/archives/2003_04.html#003486

There is no media meme I hate more than the question, “Why do they hate us?” The implication is that “their” hatred is justified and thus their actions against us — on 9.11 — are justified (and our war there is unjustified). This is a despicable bit of tortured logic and morality. The rhetorical equivalent is to ask why another “they” — the Germans — hated the Jews as if there is any reason for bigotry and hatred and as if that, then, justifies what the atrocities that resulted. Both questions are equally offensive, equally wrong.

I don’t give a goddamn why “they” hate us.

I have to make my moral and political judgments based on what I think is right — not on the basis of a popularity contest and especially not a popularity contest among countries and dictators who do not allow democracy or equal rights or free speech, countries that do not allow the governed to govern, countries that are nothing but repressive dictatorships.

Now, having said all that, I now see that there is a reason why “they” will hate us:
“They” — that is, the repressive, anti-democratic, dictators of the Arab world — will hate us, indeed, for bringing demoracy to Iraq — if we are successful — for that will make their people want to rise up and gain their rightful freedoms.

“They” — the fearful leaders, not their oppressed peoples — will hate us for making their people question — and then overthrow — their leadership.

“They” are scared shitless by what their satellite channels showed to their people this week.
Of course, we are going to hear criticism of us from Arab leaders. We heard criticism of us from Saddam Hussein, didn’t we? But when he left, the true feelings of his people came out, didn’t they?
Note, then, this from today’s Washington Post on the rumbles caused in Saudi Arabia by the liberation of Iraq:

Mohsen Awajy knows better than most Saudis the perils of speaking his mind on such subjects as elections and government accountability.

Nine years ago, not long after the Persian Gulf War, the religious scholar and agronomist was thrown into prison for co-writing a petition that suggested Saudis be given a “choice” on who ruled the country. He was released in 1998, four years into his nine-year sentence, with the admonition that he could end up back in jail if he spoke out again.

Dissidents like Awajy were emboldened once more by the current conflict in Iraq. Many recognized that the government was allowing dissent and anger to flow. Saudis watching the war have been successively outraged by civilian casualties, elated at Iraqi resistance and depressed when the war turned in favor of U.S.-led forces, and are now expressing humiliation at the rapid collapse of Baghdad. The government has sought to manage and co-opt antiwar fervor. In a country where public demonstrations are banned, there is new debate about political reforms that were suggested long before the first U.S. strikes against Iraq.

“The regime used to be brutal in peaceful conditions,” said Awaji, who intends to call on the government to distance itself from the United States when the war finally ends. “In this crisis, we find a lot of opportunities to express our feelings. Without trouble in the region, we aren’t able to say anything.”