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I did hear from Eli, my friend who lives in New York City. She's deeply deeply troubled by everything that is happening. She's from Indonesia, part of the Christian minority of that country which is experiencing daily violent protests right now. She is worried for her family.

One of my favorite bands, Sloan, has their next record due out Tuesday. I'm hoping (against hope?) that they make it down somewhere close to Texas this time around.

I was driving the Vette with Danny Elfman's Batman (1989) on the 600 some odd watt 10 speaker stereo system. It does not matter how many times I hear Danny Elfman music, it still blows me away, still inflames my mind. And it is the ultimate 'ticket me' music!!

I think my favorite James Bond film is License to Kill. But then I haven't seen the last three pictures! I plan to do so one of these days. All three in a row like.

My stepmother is getting a new car soon. The front runners are the Lexus ES300 and the new Jaguar X-Type (the budget Jag). About 30 grand each. If you weren't aware, GM, Ford, and Toyota are offering 0% financing for 3 to 5 years on all vehicles (Jaguar is Ford, Lexus is Toyota). Good time to buy.

There's a short video going around right now. Check it out right here. Bike is a stock '97 YZF1000 'Thunderace'. Other bike is a GSX-R1000, but it stays back. Car is an LS1 Firebird Trans Am 'Firehawk' with twin turbochargers set up for straight line racing (he was returning from a drag meet). Makes about 530 rear wheel HP (625 HP in engine HP parlance) or over double a stock Trans Am's power. Wow, the idea of splicing the grunt of a huge V8 with the rush of twin turbochargers makes me dizzy. This is not your typical poseur car that you'll usually see on the road--this has $20,000 of work in it and has A LOT of power.

The 'race' (it wasn't a controlled race really, just 'frolicking' on the freeway) was from 70 mph to 140 mph. Notice the rider rode a 3.7 second wheelie (bad for acceleration), is not so lithe (light), doesn't 'tuck in' very well, and has to swerve around slow traffic (all factors that led to his slowness). It's a fun video to watch though, and the mutual respect at the end is cool. The Gixxer would have put several lengths on them both if it had stayed (the driver, at the end, mistakenly identifies the bike that ran him as the GSX-R1000, but it was the YZF). As a matter of fact, the driver has said the race was 70-140, but it seems to take about 14 seconds. A stock LS1 F-Body should do the 70-140 in about 23 seconds, but a quick bike (like the 12R) should only take a little over 6 seconds. The YZF isn't up to 12R speed, but it should have been able to do it in up around 8.0-8.5 seconds. So perhaps the YZF rider was short-shifting or started in a higher gear or didn't use full throttle (or didn't know how to ride). Anyway, the vid has sparked some interesting bench racing and debate on car and bike boards.

This is an animated gif of a physics-defying wheelie. Howdee do that? Here is an arty race photo. Speaking of art, here is a sculpture of a 'blown up' bike. Ehhh. A nice custom helmet. A mean looking R1. A cute red head on a 9R. Read about a Corvette which has run a 9.83 @ 148 mph! Street legal and 49 state smog legal, no turbo/supercharging (nitrous though), full interior, no skinnies on front, pump gas, DOT drag radials, fully streetable.

Random thoughts on the news of the day, and then I'll be done for a while (until something big breaks?). Tell me what you think.

--China has banned all people of middle eastern appearance or descent from flying on the government-owned national airlines. Nothing like the absolute power of Totalitarianism.
--A stunning amount of food is flowing into Afghanistan right now. Currently it's about 1100 tons of food every day. Soon that figure will rise to 8000 tons of food per day and continue at that level for 2 months. It'll be over a billion pounds by the time they're done.
--On racial profiling: of course our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are going to use racial profiling. Be serious. A large part of intelligence gathering is profiling (ever seen that show 'The Profiler'? The lead character does profiling for the FBI). You bet race is a part of that profiling. To ignore race would be irresponsible. How many of the alleged suicide hijackers were African-Americans or blue-eyed blondes? Of course, the whole point of profiling is to make deductions based on a number of different sources of information. Race is only one aspect of a profile, though it is an important one right now. Some people are 'afraid' that racial profiling is going to be used. Get over it.
--There's been a rash of people attempting to break into airliner cockpits in the last couple of weeks. Mentally imbalanced or handicapped people. Of course the other passengers haven't hesitated to rise up and beat the shit out of the individuals in question. I think people need to know, if you attempt to get into the cockpit in the future, you will have your head blown off. Or at least have a gun pointed at your central mass by the secret Air Marshal.
--Heard about Bert's connection to bin Laden? Read up.
--So far, 10 people in 3 cities are known to have been exposed to laboratory Anthrax. Obviously an attack. Terrorists? Don't know yet. It was a lame attempt. Or maybe a test. Small pox would be a thousand times worse. It only kills 30% of its victims, but it is extremely contagious, extremely quick to spread, extremely hard to contain. It will spread and spread. The feeling is that those vaccinated no longer have any immunity (and the disease may have been genetically engineered to be more deadly, more contagious, more resistant). Iraq and Iran are suspected of having Small pox. Who else? Al Qaeda? Al Jihad? Hizbollah?
--Meanwhile, the Ebola virus has broken out in the refugee camps at the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
--How about that Rudy Giuliani? Good for him.
--Osama bin Laden and friends are using Islam. They are using and abusing religion to advance a political cause (a worldwide Jihad/destruction of the US/all of Islam -vs- the Western world). Here is part of Mencken's Creed: "I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking."
--Islam needs to get its OWN house in order.
--President Bush currently enjoys record high approval ratings. His evening press conference last week showed a leader who has gained a great deal of distinguishment. This is the real George Bush.
--Spain and Italy are now on board for any needed military support, joining England, Canada, France, Germany, and Australia. Hooray!
--Free speech? The day of the attacks, University of New Mexico history professor Richard Berthold said in a course on Western civilization: "Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote."
--Certain members of Congress were caught leaking top secret information to the press. Treason?
--I was accused of 'blind patriotism' last week at school. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love this country for a variety of reasons: the right of self-determination and the fact that a person can grow up to be and do nearly everything he sets his mind to (no, I don't type 'he or she' and 'his or her' every time, but before you accuse me of being a sexist pig, 'his' is just a generic term, like 'mankind'); the ability to own and care for private property; the free enterprise system which supports and encourages entrepreneurship and allows any one to start a business; the ability to vote for local, state, and federal public servants; the fact that our government derives its power from the consent of the governed; the stable economy; the strong military; the beauty of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights; I'm sure I could go on for quite a while. I pledge allegiance to the flag because it means something to me to love the freedoms that I enjoy, to know that many have died for what I enjoy, and because I won't give up my freedoms or my love of country for anything. It's bewildering to me how such talk has become so politically incorrect, how so many take offense at such notions. We have so few problems we have to manufacture our own oppression!
--I was also told "you can't fight hate with hate". Now I don't know that the US is using 'hate' to fight back, but I DO hate the terrorists! What am I supposed to feel? Love? Compassion? Neutrality? Companionship? Screw that, I hate them.
--The journalists were confronted by an angry mob in Afghanistan. They were chanting. The guide/translator said the chant went something like 'we will suck the American blood'.
--I saw a program last week about the Middle East. They went through all the terrorist attacks on US interests in the past decade (there are a bunch!). Many more have been thwarted. Talked about the reason for the Palestinian conflict and the somewhat irrational blame placed on the US. Talked about the 'McDonaldization' of Islam and how the majority of Islam condemns the attacks, but that some Muslims are 'unsettled by the rapid rush of modernity' while others want fully to experience all that the 21st Century will have to offer. Talked about how much of Afghanistan and surrounding countries is a relic, 1000 years behind the rest of the world. Talked about Saudi Arabia, which is our ally but which is a horribly oppressive dictatorship with a terrible human rights record in its own right. Talked about Pakistan, their troubled history of political assassinations and revolutions. Some believe the current President of Pakistan is a walking dead man and that a far more extreme regime could be set to take over and have access to the full nuclear arsenal--remember that the Taliban and extremist groups in Pakistan are basically one. And they talked about how the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan is not much better than the Taliban, having a history of opportunism and brutality. The US will support 'bad' people against worse people. Scary stuff.
--Bush gave the Taliban a second chance: turn over bin Laden and all his terrorist camps and military strikes will cease. Language even a cave-dweller could understand. Meanwhile, the British Defense Minister says the military campaign in Afghanistan alone will go on for months.
--The Afghani citizens, once they realized how targeted and precise the military strikes were, got up on their roofs to watch the fireworks. Unfortunately, a malfunctioning laser-guided bomb took out four civilians.
--Total pacifism would have led to MORE victims. The doctrine that it is SOMETIMES wrong to use violence or force has NOTHING to do with the doctrine that it is ALWAYS wrong to use violence or force. We took the hit, we stood back up, we're fighting back, it's what we do. Much of the civilized world understands it is the US' responsibility as the superpower in the Unipolar model to let it be known: DON'T SCREW WITH THE UNITED STATES. "I will not settle for a token act. Our response must be sweeping, sustained and effective. We have much to do and much to ask of the American people. You will be asked for your patience, for the conflict will not be short. You will be asked for resolve, for the conflict will not be easy. You will be asked for your strength because the course to victory may be long."

Food for thought. No, I'm not obsessed. Yes, I do spend much of my day reading and thinking about things. It's sort of important. I don't want to be ignorant of the history that I lived right through. And every day is history in the making. Yes, this is all I'll write for a while on the matter until something more or less major happens. We'll see.