30 March 2006

Diyarbakir: Three Killed As Kurdish-Turks Riot in Turkey

A Turkish riot police uses a catapult against the demonstrators during clashes in southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, March 30, 2006. The violence erupted on Tuesday after funeral ceremonies for 14 guerrillas of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), killed by security forces in a military operation last weekend.
30 Mar 2006 REUTERS/Anatolian News Agency
(AP) Riot police fired water cannons and used pepper spray to disperse stone-throwing Kurdish rioters Wednesday in a second day of violence that an official said left at least three people dead and 250 injured in southeastern Turkey.Gov. Efkan Ala said 2,500 to 3,000 rioters, including many children, participated in the two days of clashes in Diyarbakir after funerals for Kurdish guerrillas killed by Turkish troops last week. Full article

REUTERS/Stringer/turkey
Kurdish protesters hurl stones at Turkish para-military police standing behind an armoured personnel vehicle during clashes in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir March 30, 2006. Thousands of Kurdish protesters lobbed stones and Molotov cocktails at Turkish police on Thursday in a third day of street battles in which three people were killed and more than 250 others wounded.

Tom Boonen Replaces the Retired Lance Armstrong as the Top Draw Among Fans



A conversation with Tom Boonen
By Andrew HoodVeloNews European correspondent
This report filed March 30, 2006
"Tom Boonen is the new leading light of cycling.
The strapping world champion seems to be the sparkle in everyone's eye, from salty old cycling fans to Belgian beauties who swoon at the very sight of him in his rainbow jersey.
At 24, Boonen has replaced the retired Lance Armstrong as the top draw among fans, at least if
crowds outside team buses at spring races are any fair barometer of riders' magnetism.
Boonen-mania seems to be in full flight and there's no sign of it abating anytime soon. Dubbed a Merckx for a new century, Boonen is poised to defend his double Flanders-Roubaix titles starting with this Sunday's Tour of Flanders."

VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood caught up with "Tornado Tom" during Paris-Nice earlier this month. Read a story about him in the next issue of VeloNews, here are excerpts from the interview.
Today is day four of my own late start to spring training. Almost every day since Sunday, in pretty frigid temperatures, I've done the same exact 18 mile bike ride, and of course recorded my time, average heart rate and speed to see how my body is responding to the shock it is going through. Here are the results:
Sunday: time of 1:03:05, avg speed 17.2 mph, avg heart rate 154
Tuesday: time of 1:02:10, avg spd 17.3 mph, avg HR 153
Wednesday: time of 59:15, avg spd 18.1, avg HR 160
Thursday: time of 56:30, avg spd 18.8, avg HR 163
What all of this means is that my body is primed for a very steep increase in fitness. To take 6-1/2 minutes off my time in five days is definitely a good sign. It's true that your body has a good memory. My best time ever on this course, was 51:25 last June, with an avg HR of only 158. I think I can beat that benchmark by May 1st, which would mean I'm way ahead of the curve, compared to last season. Today I almost crushed a tree rat, many times actually, unlike last season when I actually caught one under my wheel and left it in the throes of death in the middle of the bike path. Yeah I felt badly at the time, but what can you do? Re-attach it's head and nurse it back to health? -AT

You may be paid more (or less) than you think

Economists quantify the salary value of four key factors that determine job satisfaction.

By Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney.com senior writer March 29, 2006: 10:03 AM

It's so hard to put a price on happiness, isn't it?But if you've ever had to choose between a job you like and a better-paying one that you like less, you probably wished some economist would get on the stick and tell you how much job satisfaction is worth.Well, you're in luck. Economists John Helliwell and Haifang Huang at the University of British Columbia have done just that. Full Article

Excellent story! By the logic set forth, seems I’ve recently taken a 36% pay cut.-AT

College Tuition vs School Tax Revenues: Architectural Design Can Waste Both



I manage very large woodworking projects for a living. Today I was at a jobsite doing a survey and taking photos of my work areas to prove how far behind schedule the other trades were. The project in question is a new building for a well-known Ivy League School which I won't name (hint: this school cost Paul Newman a fortune in "The Gambler")
So here's a picture of an elliptical skylight, positioned above a spiral staircase. Surrounding this staircase are walls which I will be cladding with quarter sawn maple veneer paneling, soaring about 50-60 feet high and costing the school about $100,000. Yikes. I have little doubt that the spiral shape of the stairs and the eliptical shape of the skylight added at least another $100,000 to the overall cost of the project. Private schools can afford this stuff, and you can't fault them for trying to create the most beautiful space possible for their students. They pay a fortune for their diplomas. Still, having this kind of cash to throw around speaks volumes about the cost-prohibitive tuitions students are faced with..
PUBLIC schools on the other hand, can't spend money so frivolously, or at least they shouldn't. For example, I'm managing a middle school project where the architect specified $1500 under-counter refrigerators in the science labs. I can give them cheaper equivalents that would save about $8000 for the school, the town and the taxpayers. Do you think the architect or general contractor are interested? Let's not go there.

29 March 2006

Is it a Honda? No! A BMW! Could it be another depreciation nightmare? The new Hyundai Azera

I bought a 2001 Hyundai Elantra GT when they first came out. Cost me about $16,000 and has every available feature and enhancement, including leather. Five years later I'd be lucky to get $2500 for it. Heck I recently sold my 1989 Toyota Pick-up for $2300! Had I bought a Corolla or a Civic for a couple grand more, I'd have a car that's still worth about $8000.
So here's another composite knock-off from Hyundai, with every imaginable luxury feature for only $25,000. Sorry, but I'll take a stripped down Accord or Camry any day of the week, for about $5000 less. Avoid buying a Hyundai vehicle unless you intend to drive it for 10+ years. Buyer remorse is punished SEVEEERELY.
As for my Elantra GT (only 40k miles on it in 5 years), I'm stuck with it and plan to hold it long enough for Reis to drive, when he turns 16 in 2019...
Do you see the ubiquitous and blatant design theft in the lines? How do they get away with it and how do they do it with a straight face?
Does 'Azera' mean anything in Azerbaijan?


Image of Total Solar Eclipse as seen Today in Turkey


The moon is blocking out the sun during the total solar eclipse at the ancient Roman temple of Apollon ruins on the coast of Side in Turkey's Mediterranean coasts March 29, 2006. A total solar eclipse cast a shadow across Africa and tracked on to the Middle East. The track of the eclipse stretched from eastern Brazil, across the Atlantic to north Africa, then on to the Middle East, Central Asia, west China and Mongolia.
29 Mar 2006 REUTERS/Fatih Saribas

28 March 2006

If You Want To Make An Omelet, You Gotta Break Some Eggs

An Iraqi boy mourns for a youth killed by a blast in the Iraqi city of Basra, 550 km (342 miles) south of Baghdad March 26, 2006. A 14-year-old student was killed and two others wounded by a bomb planted in front of a school in Basra, police said.
26 Mar 2006 REUTERS/Atef Hassan

No it's not a re-make of the old Mutual of Omaha commercial from the 70s. (All of this death twists my sense of humor into knots, but my heart's in the right place, believe me) Point is, how many of us State-side claim to be "numb" to all of the Iraqi death and dying? If you laughed at my joke, it's time for a gut check... Me, I beg to differ. Every fatality, every lost limb, every orphan and every widow takes a little something out of me, out of US... It's times like these when polygamy becomes necessary and correct, unlike the gratuitous kind you see on HBO these days. Here's another picture from Iraq which I grabbed long ago, which is why I have no caption or credit for it. Operation Iraqi Liberation in all it's glory: -AT

Raissa Panagiotou of Cyprus performs at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne


Raissa Panagiotou of Cyprus performs her ball routine during the individual apparatus final in rhythmic gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne March 26, 2006.
26 Mar 2006 REUTERS/David Callow

Sick little monkey that I am, a certain Seinfeld episode comes to mind... Seriously though, besides the amazing picture of contortion in mid-air, I was struck by Raissa's home country of Cyprus. How many Cypriot athletes have you ever heard of? Okay, let this be the first.

Raissa is a nice name, resembles our little boy's name: "Reis". He's 2-1/2 years old and he says "Woooow, that's really cool", every chance he gets. My eyes well up every time I hear it. -AT

Another Orphaned Child In Iraq


VISUALS COVERAGE OF SCENES OF DEATH OR INJURY
Shad Mohammed, 6, is comforted by a neighbour after being wounded in an attack by insurgents which doctors said also killed both of her parents, in Baghdad March 27, 2006. A surge in violence in Iraq has claimed the lives of over 50 people in the past two days, including at least 30 army recruits at a base near the northern town of Mosul.
27 Mar 2006 REUTERS/Ceerwan Aziz

I'm without speech as I look at her down-turned gaze. What can be said that makes any difference? "Sorry for your loss"? "Gecmis olsun"? "Chin-up, kid"?

By the way, who's the twit shedding crocodile tears over baby seals being clubbed to death and skinned alive up in Canada? Ahh, her name escapes me. Does it really amount to a hill of beans compared to this?

I'll take a thousand kicks in the crotch to see this orphan smile again, trade a million baby seals to give her the strength to overcome and be hopeful again for the future. -AT

27 March 2006

Chapter 5: Orson Scott Card Was Way Ahead of the Curve

I hate to be stuck on one topic for so many days, but the following dialogue found in chapter 5 of the book Shadow of the Giant, is very relevant and I want to share it. The words are from a character named "Virlomi":
..."No one is faithful to G-d who has no choice. That is why Hindus are truly faithful, for they may choose not to become Hindus and no harm comes to them."
"And that is why there are no true Muslims in the world, because they may not choose to cease to be Muslims. If a Muslim tries to become a Hindu or a Christian or even a simple unbeliever, some fanatical Muslim will kill him."...
..."Islam is a religion that has no believers," she said. "Only people who are compelled to call themselves Muslims and live as Muslims under fear of death"...

The relevence to recent events in Afghanistan is pretty stunning. The Shadow of the Giant is set in the distant future. In a nutshell, the Caliphate has been re-established, and is conquering Asia in leaps and bounds. Their armies have defended and "liberated" India from China's advance, but this is only a mask for their true objective, to conquer India and convert the masses to Islam using force and brutality. The character Virloma leads India, and the passage above is a part of her message to the Caliph himself. Be advised, this is part five of a series, and in order to fully appreciate and understand how it unfolds, it's best to read Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, and Shadow Puppets first.

We Were Bred For War, It's In Our Genes

Another pearl encountered while reading Orson Scott Card's SHADOW OF THE GIANT:
"...Humanity is a breeding ground for ambition, for territorial competitors, for nations that do battle, and if the nations break down, then tribes, clans and households. We were bred for war, it's in our genes, and the only way to stop the bloodshed is to give one man the power to subdue all the others. All we can hope for is that it be a decent enough man that the peace will be better than the wars, and last longer..."

Who comes to mind after reading this passage? -General President Pervez Musharraf.

The word on the street is that the Bush administration is suggesting free elections to the Pakis to demonstrate their unflappable resolve to spread democracy, while from the other side of their mouths, they pray that he is re-elected and continues to control the unwashed masses. I stand firm in my belief that the Musharraf style of military leadership is required to keep peace among Pakistani [Muslims]- and that introducing democracy to a place where Islamic fundamentalism still reign supreme, would repeat a recent lapse in judgment by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. What if the Pakis elect a Koran thumping cleric wearing a turban and counting prayer beads? Think of who will be in control of Pakistan's nuclear warheads. So then, why is anyone even talking about elections in Pakistan? To create an excuse to invade them too?

Look at how wonderful a place Iraq has become since their dictator was removed and democracy was "installed". Let's not even go there... But it's hard to deny that Iraq was better off with pre-war Saddam than they are with post-war democracy. Diplomacy was not exhausted as of March 19, 2003. Saddam offered to meet with Bush repeatedly, and was dismissed without exception, because the decision to invade was a foregone conclusion.

As for Pakistan, leave well enough alone, and think about grooming a like minded secular military successor. -AT

Buy a Bicycle Owned and Raced by a Famous Blogger!


Yes that's correct- the bike you see pictured (the frame only) can be yours, and you can brag (in 5-10 years) that you bought it from the infamous 'Amerikan Turk'. I will even autograph the frame and throw in a pair of my unwashed cycling shorts. How can you go wrong? In 10-20 years this bike will fetch a small fortune... Of course, you could always throw some parts on it and ride it. Here's where you can place your bid: Somec 56 cm Aluminum Road Bike Frameset, autographed by Murat Altinbasak.

26 March 2006

How Much is a Fine Woodworking Chisel Worth?


You won't find this at Lowes or Home Depot! I'm selling this tool on ebay- auction ends (ended) tonight.

It's just a chisel, right? Click here to see where the price ended up: Ward Sheffield 1-1/2" Bevel Edge Chisel It might surprise you. Take note this is a pre-enjoyed piece, made in England.

Shadow of the Giant: Orson Scott Card


My Ebay username is "enderw1gg1n" for a reason. I read Orson Scott Card's award winning book Ender's Game back in 1999, not long before registering. Yesterday the soft cover version of Card's latest work was spotted at Borders and I pounced on it like a hungry orphan. (I just don't have it in me to pay $20 or more for any hard cover) At the end of the 3rd chapter I found words which stood out at me as if in neon lights:

"...are we, as the Muslims believe, only acting out the script of G-d?
Not likely. Any G-d worth believing in could make up a better plan than the mess the world was in now..."

I've devoured every one of the Ender series, some twice, and I was long overdue for a fix. If you've not read the original Ender's Game masterpiece, put it on your wish-list before the [long-awaited] movie is released by Warner Brothers. Those who have read it, here's a link to the original short story version, which first appeared in the August 1977 isue of Analog. REFRAIN if you plan to buy the book- the surprise ending is a stunner.

25 March 2006

Wooldoor Sockbat will be subbing for me at Amerikan Turk for a while


Please give him a warm welcome... To see Wooldoor in action, check out this hilarious video game (no download): Play "SOAK-IT".

Never heard of the "Drawn Together" cartoon? Read all about it here- plus LOTS of free video clips from the show!

For a peek at what Amerikan Turk used to look like a few months ago, check here: http://amerikanturk.nomadlife.org. Remember back when I had those annoying music videos? I'm glad this is still available to view. If you like the Foo Fighters, check it out. There are five videos total and i don't remember what they all were. I used to rotate tracks regularly.

23 March 2006

Afghan Clerics Demand Convert Be Killed

My head’s going to explode just thinking about this. The clerics claim that it’s an insult to G-d, which is a barrel full of tripe. It is Muslims who are insulted by his conversion to Christianity, not G-d. More specifically, it’s the self-hating and insecure kind who can’t stand to see this man continue to draw breath. Make no mistake, if he is executed it's not any different from an HONOR KILLING. -AT

By DANIEL COONEY, Associated Press Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan - Senior Muslim clerics demanded Thursday that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to "pull him into pieces."

In an unusual move, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned President Hamid Karzai on Thursday seeking a "favorable resolution" of the case of Abdul Rahman. The 41-year-old former medical aid worker faces the death penalty under Afghanistan's Islamic laws for becoming a Christian.

His trial has fired passions in this conservative Muslim nation and highlighted a conflict of values between Afghanistan and its Western backers.

"Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," said
cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the
Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001. More

ISU World Figure Skating Championships- Calgary Canada March 20-26

Update: Results of the 3/24 Ladies Short Program are posted: http://www.isufs.org/results/wc2006/SEG007.HTM

Tugba 22nd, Anastasia 13th place.

Tomorrow is the Ladies Free Skating event. Here is the starting order: http://www.isufs.org/results/wc2006/SEG008.HTM

Official site: http://www.worlds2006.ca/index.html

Our Turkish figure skater athlete Tugba Karademir is performing in the World Championships this week!

Take note of the entry list, which also includes an athlete from Uzbekistan: Anastasia GIMAZETDINOVA

Both Tugba and Anastasia have qualified and advanced.

22 March 2006

Shame

Many thanks to B Shilliday at Left of Center for posting this. If you had to limit yourself to reading only one blog today, this week, this month, this should be it. -AT

Excerpt:
...I am ashamed of my fellow Americans. Ashamed that they haven't flooded the streets. Ashamed they care more about Brangelina than the Bill of Rights. Ashamed that they're seemingly ok with the subtle but steady transformation from democracy to dictatorship. Ashamed that they are so gullible....

World Cup Audience Contaminated With Vigilante Crusaders

Our friend Pete Blackwell reports on a story which is no doubt missing from news reports. After all, it has to do with self-proclaimed terrorists vowing to maim or kill innocent Muslims at World Cup events. Here's one good outcome of $1000+ ticket prices. Hopefully the hooligans don't have enough scratch to get in. -AT

Excerpt:

"We are united. For the first time we are talking and planning together, with the English, the Germans, the Dutch, the Spanish, everyone with the same objective. At the World Cup there will be a massacre," said the Italian ultra. "We will all be in Germany and there will be Turks, Algerians and Tunisians. The Turks, we can't stand them. In [Italy] there are not many, but in Germany, there are many of those guys there. They are Islamic terrorists. We will attack them.
They are all enemies that need to be eliminated, just like the police."
Go to Pete Blackwell's post, aptly titled "Goose Steppers of the Enlightenment"

Afghanistan: Your Regression Is a Real Buzz-Kill: Christian Convert May Face Death Penalty

Death could await Christian convert
U.S. lawmaker: Christian-conversion prosecution 'outrageous'
Tuesday, March 21, 2006; Posted: 10:31 p.m. EST (03:31 GMT) WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In the days of the Taliban, those promoting Christianity in Afghanistan could be arrested and those converting from Islam could be tortured and publicly executed. That was supposed to change after U.S.-led forces ousted the oppressive, fundamentalist regime, but the case of 41-year-old Abdul Rahman has many Western nations wondering if Afghanistan is regressing.
Rahman, a father of two, was arrested last week and is now awaiting trial for rejecting Islam. He told local police, whom he approached on an unrelated matter, that he had converted to Christianity. Reports say he was carrying a Bible at the time.
"They want to sentence me to death, and I accept it," Rahman told reporters last week, "but I am not a deserter and not an infidel."
The Afghan constitution, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, says that apostates can receive the death penalty. (
Watch how Rahman's case could cast doubts on Afghanistan's commitment to democracy -- 1:17)


Allies indignant
The U.S. has 23,000 troops in the country; Germany has 2,700. Canada has 2,300 stationed there, and Italy has 1,775, according to Reuters.
All four nations have expressed displeasure over the situation, some even saying that it is intolerable that soldiers of all faiths die to protect a country threatening to kill its own for converting to Christianity.
Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga wrote a letter to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, urging him to withdraw Italian troops from Afghanistan unless Kabul guarantees Rahman's safety, Reuters reported.
"It is not acceptable that our soldiers should put themselves at risk or even sacrifice their lives for a fundamentalist, illiberal regime," Cossiga wrote.

MORE...


I heard this on NPR on the drive home after work, and boy did it grind my gears. I want to fly over there and crack skulls. The fact that this little blurb about the death penalty for rejectors of Islam, made it into the Afghan constitution, is astonishing and sad. After all of the death, destruction, crippling, maiming, widows and orphans created by decades of fighting, it was believed that the quality if life in Afghanistan was on the up and up. What repulsive thinking on the part of Afghani lawmakers. What a myopic view of the world. Okay I'm a little behind the curve here, and admit that I didn't know that the Afghan constitution was based upon Sharia Law. What a waste! Newsflash- Afghanistan had the chance to be an emerging democracy, and Islamic Law is the reason why it remains a third world back-water country. Once a pickle, always a pickle, I guess. -AT

21 March 2006

5th Annual Boston Turkish Film and Music Festival

A TRIBUTE TO ISTANBUL

March 30 - April 29, 2006
This year's thirteen-program festival continues its tradition of highlighting emerging Turkish filmmakers with a recurring theme that hits on diverse lifestyles in Istanbul, one of the most breathtaking cities in the world. It's a rare opportunity to glimpse the best contemporary work of Turkish cinema from the new generation of filmmakers such as Semih Kaplanoglu, Umit Unal, Kutlug Ataman, Ugur Yucel, Ahmet Ulucay and Cagan Irmak, as well as veterans like Yavuz Turgul. The festival also features three concerts by world-class musicians, the Fahir Atakoglu Trio, Omer Faruk Tekbilek Ensemble, and the Derya Turkan and Sokratis Sinopoulos Ensemble.
Co-presented with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Festival Pass for 10 films available for $72, students & seniors $60 at the MFA ticket window. Fahir Atakoglu Trio Concert $15 with Festival Pass. Tel: 617-369-3770.

Thursday, March 30
8pm
ISTANBUL TALES Anlat Istanbul

Friday, March 31
6pm
WAITING FOR THE CLOUDS Bulutlari Beklerken
8pm BOATS OUT OF WATERMELON RINDS Karpuz Kabugundan Gemiler Yapmak

Saturday, April 1
12pm
A BREATH WITH PINA BAUSCH Pina Bausch ile Bir Nefes
1pm LOVELORN Gonul Yarasi
8pm CROSSING THE BRIDGE: THE SOUND OF ISTANBUL Kopruyu Gecmek: Istanbul Hatirasi

Sunday, April 2
5pm
ANGEL'S FALL Melegin Dususu
7pm TOSS UP Yazi Tura

Friday, April 7
8pm
2 GIRLS 2 Genc Kiz

Saturday, April 8
2:15pm
ALL ABOUT MUSTAFA Mustafa Hakkinda Hersey
7:30pm THE FAHIR ATAKOGLU TRIO CONCERT

The Fahir Atakoglu Trio
Friday, April 21
8:30pm
OMER FARUK TEKBILEK ENSEMBLE CONCERT

O
mer Faruk Tekbilek Ensemble
Saturday, April 29
8pm
LETTER FROM ISTANBUL: DERYA TURKAN & SOKRATIS SINOPOULOS ENSEMBLE CONCERT

Letter from Istanbul
PRINTABLE PROGRAM


Concerts:

THE FAHIR ATAKOGLU TRIO:
Featuring Anthony Jackson & Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez
Saturday, April 8
OMER FARUK TEKBILEK ENSEMBLE:
Friday, April 21
LETTER FROM ISTANBUL:
DERYA TURKAN & SOKRATIS SINOPOULOS ENSEMBLE
Saturday, April 29


Co-presented with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
All films are in Turkish with English subtitles; 35mm.

All film screenings and the Fahir Atakoglu Trio Concert will take place at
Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston. For other concerts click on the event title.
Click here to purchase film tickets on-line (A convenience fee will be added to tickets purchased on-line)
Festival Film Series Pass is available: General Admission $72, Students & Seniors $60. The Fahir Atakoglu Trio concert $15 with the Festival Pass. Passes can be purchased at the MFA ticket window.
For ticket information for the concerts click on the event title.

19 March 2006

La Primavera: Milan San Remo: Pozzato Ousprints Favorites to Win

Not a big fan of professional or amateur bicycle racing? Too bad. Let me educate you a little bit about yesterday's 294 kilometer Milan San Remo professional road race, the first in a series of European Spring Classics taking place in Europe during the coming weeks. MSR is considered to be a relatively flat course in comparison to the other classics, but it is a very looooong race, where riders log about 200 miles in a non-stop single day event.
This finish line photo by Graham Watson grabbed my attention because we have two sets of arms up! Why is this so? The winner is pictured at the far right- Filippo Pozzato- his win came as a surprise to the favorites, who include Allesandro Petacchi, pictured in center, and Tom Boonen at the left with arms raised (Tom is reigning world road race champion- notice the rainbow stripes?) So what is Tom Boonen so happy about? He finished fourth! The answer is that Tom and Filippo (the winner) are team-mates on the Quick-Step professional team. Is Tom a better sprinter? Of course! Is Pettachi a better sprinter? Without any doubt! But the Quick-Step team used their superior tactics and final kilometer positioning to steal the race. That Tom Boonen (a favorite) is beaming at the end as he watches his team-mate take the victory, speaks volumes about his class and panache. He's claiming victory here together with Pozzato. For the complete coverage of this race, as described by VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood, click here. Lots more great pictures to see there, and if learning about the racing tactics which teams employ interests you, I recommend you check it out. Just an FYI: many of the names mentioned in the story are those given to the hill-climbs (roads) which are covered on the MSR course year after year. They're all just as famous as the riders themselves.

***Take note of the average speed over 294 km!!! That's fast enough to make an amateur such as myself soil-himself just thinking about it!

Top 10
1. Filippo Pozzato (I) Quick Step-Innergetic, 294km in 6:29:40 (45.27kph)
2. Alessandro Petacchi (I) Milram, s.t.
3. Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas, s.t.
4. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.
5. Danilo Napolitano (I), Lampre- Fondital s.t.
6. Oscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank, s.t.
7. Stefano Garzelli (I), Liquigas, s.t.
8. Alessandro Ballan (I), Lampre- Fondital, s.t.
9. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak, s.t.
10. Matteo Carrara (I), Lampre-Fondital, s.t.
Full Results

American Crusade Trading Cards


You see an example of one in my previous post as well. Be warned that many of these cards have graphic images of death and maiming. Click at your own risk to see the American Crusade Trading Cards. Some of them are quite hilarious in my opinion.

Journalist Bill Berkowitz has written an article on these cards.

Also found at The Infinite Jest:

Operation Afghan Litterbug The Infinite Jest's investigative reporters in Afghanistan risked landmines and fended off a band of starving local children to collect these colorful propaganda leaflets dropped from American planes. Veritas!

Operation Iraqi Trashcan When they're not busy dropping bombs on marketplaces or Al-Jazeera's hotel, US warplanes in Iraq blanket the landscape with paper leaflets of Truth to educate the locals about Freedom, Liberty and Peace! The Infinite Jest's correspondents in Iraq beat off Geraldo Rivera with a stick to recover this collection of colorful propaganda pamphlets for your viewing pleasure!

18 March 2006

Sharon, Hussein, Ocalan, and Arafat, spell SHOA


I was thinking about Ariel Sharon and a sudden revelation struck me like lightning (okay more like static electricity from a door knob): take the first letter of the last name of the above named men, and you can spell the word "SHOA".

What other distinction do the four of them share? Well, it seems to me that all of them are accused of terrorism - and/or tyranny - or even genocide. The short answer, they are all considered [by many] to be bad to the bone.

You know what else they have in common? Death. They are either dead, dying or face a possible death penalty. Is this a little bit weird? What goes around, comes around.

It can be argued that Slobodan Milosovic should replace Ariel Sharon in this wicked acronym. It's true, but the significance might seem a little bit diminished if we mix first and last names. Either way, this all seems like a strange coincidence to me.

Here's the 411 on the roots of the words 'holocaust' and 'shoa':

The word holocaust originally derived from the Greek word holokauston, meaning
"a completely (holos) burnt (kaustos) sacrificial offering", or "a burnt sacrifice offered to God". In Greek and Roman pagan rites, gods of the earth and underworld received dark animals, which were offered by night and burnt in full. Holocaust was later used to refer to a sacrifice Jews were required to make by the Torah. But since the mid-19th century, the word has been used by a large variety of authors to reference large catastrophes and massacres.

The biblical word Shoa (שואה), also spelled Shoah and Sho'ah, meaning "calamity" in Hebrew (and also used to refer to "destruction" since the Middle Ages), became
the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the early 1940s. Churban Europa, meaning "European Destruction" in Hebrew (as opposed to simply Churban, the destruction of the Second Temple), is also used. Many Roma (or 'Gypsy') people, who were also targeted during the Holocaust, use the word Porajmos, meaning "devouring".

Shoa is preferred by many Jews and a growing number of Christians and other people due to the theologically offensive nature of the original meaning of the word holocaust as a reference to a sacrifice to God and also due to scholarly insistence that this largely archaic meaning somehow tilts the present meanings. There is also concern that the particular significance of the Holocaust would be lessened as use of the term becomes increasingly widespread in the latter half of the 20th century to refer generically to any mass killings such as the Rwandan Genocide and the actions of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia as 'holocausts'. The Armenians have long used the term in reference to their persecution by the Ottoman empire
during World War I.


Some Milestones I Don't Look Forward To...

It's hard to believe that 34 years have passed since this picture was taken. It's the eve of my 35th birthday I am exactly in the middle of two milestones. Turning 30 was rough, and I don't even want to think about 40. Seems like yesterday I was a 1st grader, in awe at the size and the maturity of the 6th graders at school. "I can't wait to be that big", I remember thinking to myself... Yillar vizir vizir geciyor arkadaslar- don't even blink!...

Say hello to my mother Kiymet and my father Irfan. They dressed me in this leotard for some reason- they claim it was a bathing suit. Who wears a bathing suit in MARCH in New York City?? Oh, and for those of you who have the delusion that myself and my family are devout Muslims of some sort, I hope that this photo taken in 1972 sets things straight, eh?

16 March 2006

Big Milestone Coming Up......

Unlike many other blogs out there, my site meter counts unique visits, not individual indiscriminate page views. Needless to say, I am a little bit giddy about surviving here long enough to surpass the DJIA. The 10000 mark is a couple of days away and I'm kind of looking forward to it. Hopefully it won't be an anti-climatic let-down. Believe me, there have been many times when I just wanted to let this thing die, but it's like a heroin addiction and I can't stop! Above you are viewing the past 30 days of traffic volume. The spike is from when Pete Blackwell linked to me, and then Andrew Sullivan found Pete's entry and linked to me, all to do with the Muslim Manifesto created by Mustafa Akyol and Zeyno Baran. Here are the links to this post:

Lots and lots of war links
Land of Linkin'
Moderate Islamists Speak Out
Islam and Locke
Another Moderate Muslim Manifesto

15 March 2006

Oz Bengur Q & A - Turkish Torque

Oz Bengur Q & A - Turkish Torque


Here is as much information as anyone could ask for; use it to make an informed decision of support or a contribution. I encourage everyone to read and educate themselves. It is understood that Turkish-ness is not a big enough reason to send money or to cast a ballot for Oz Bengur, for Turks and non-Turks alike, I'll be the first to admit this. I disagree with blind support for a candidate because of his connection to Turkish parents. But I'll also be among the first to put as much information out there as possible, and promote, promote, promote!!

Ugur Akinci at Turkish Torque has published a comprehensive Q&A which every American Turk should devour and re-distribute as much as possible, and not just to other Turks...

The Consequences of Using Poor Judgment and Making Bad Choices: College paper's editor fired over Mohammed cartoons

Wednesday, March 15, 2006; Posted: 3:09 a.m. EST (08:09 GMT)

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (AP) -- An editor who chose to publish caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in the University of Illinois' student-run newspaper last month has been fired, the paper's publisher announced Tuesday. More...

Truthfully, I feel bad that this cost someone their job, but on the other hand, I'm certain that deep down he knew that this was the incorrect path for his publication to take. "Free speech" is not an excuse to further inflame 1.5 billion people. Why even go there? Why deliberately add fuel to the fire and try shield yourself with "freedom of speech", knowing full well that many have died during the course of violent protests? The events of the past many weeks are compelling enough reasons to refrain from re-publishing the cartoons. This isn't rocket science. It's a case of "good of the one versus good of the many".

Publishers, newspapers, anti-Muslim chest beating bigots: You're all out-numbered. Face it and act responsibly. -AT

Don't miss: Pete Blackwell rightfully throws European hypocrisy under the bus

11 March 2006

260 Million Living Below Poverty Line in India

REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash, str
A child of a Indian brick kiln labourer cries at a kiln in Malakharhar village, 35 km (22 miles) from the northern Indian city of Allahabad March 11, 2006. Although India is expected to grow at more than seven percent in the year ending March 2006 with finance planners in New Delhi highlighting its record foreign reserves, rising middle class incomes and booming stock market, around 26 percent of its population, or 260 million people, live below the poverty line.

It's quite astonishing that in a nation of 1 billion inhabitants, there isn't one single person available to comfort this poor child. The cruel irony is that there DOES happen to be one willing to shoot a picture of him. This is no doubt a short-sighted perception, but hey, one billion people! -AT


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Over the Falls in a Presidential Suite: Our Weekend Getaway to Canada

I had stopped posting personal and private pictures of self, family and friends many months ago, but tonight I decided to end the drought and give you a [rare] little peek at the great weekend we had in Niagara Falls Canada. We splurged on the largest possible room with the most stunningly desirable view available. It would be a sin not to share this with you. These pics should speak for themselves, considering that we were on the top (42nd) floor in the Presidential Suite with two panoramic views [larger than our first apartment!].

Report: Slobodan Milosevic Found Dead

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro - Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader on trial for alleged war crimes, was found dead in his prison cell at the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Belgrade's B-92 and Serbia's state radio said Saturday. He was 65.
A U.N. war crimes prosecution official in the Dutch capital, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed the report to the Associated Press.

Is this for real? Good morning from Niagara Falls, Canada! -AT

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Support Oz Bengur! - Turkish Torque

Support Oz Bengur! - Turkish Torque


Not to be construed as blind support for a Turkish candidate as we must all do our own due diligence...
Fortunately, Ugur at Turkish Torque gives us all of the resources we need to educate ourselves, and I hope you will take advantage of it and use it as I plan to do.
No matter what, I think all Turks in the US should give this matter their attention and spread the word.
I'm now on holiday atop the 42nd floor of a hotel overlooking Niagara Falls, and I didn't want to waste any time sharing this great news.

10 March 2006

Pakistan Landmine Kills 28 in Wedding Party, Mostly Women and Children

Read Full Story Here

So, which world famous sports legend will comfort the survivors and loved ones of these innocents? -AT

Armstrong Spends Time with Chris and Dana Reeve's son, Will

NEW YORK (AP) -- Lance Armstrong spent Wednesday morning comforting 13-year-old Will Reeve, less than two days after his mother, Dana Reeve, died of lung cancer. "I would say that his spirits were pretty good considering that, in the last 18 months, he's lost his father, his mother and his grandmother," Armstrong told syndicated entertainment show "Inside Edition." "In situations like this," Armstrong said, "all you can do is say, 'Hey buddy, I'm here if you want to go hang out, if you want to play games, whatever you want to do, I'm here.' " More..

When you lose your celebrity rockstar girlfriend and your fairy tale sports career is finito, you must do good things which attract the notice of people and sponsors alike. Lance would not be there for Will if he were still training and racing, this much is certain. I'm not against his involvement and support for young Will, but it really doesn't deserve the media attention it was given. Seems to me that "Inside Edition" has exploited a young person's loss and a world famous athlete's fame. Why couldn't this remain private? If I were Will Reeve, that's what I'd be asking...

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08 March 2006

Kite Fighting in Pakistan: Banned for 350 Days a Year


ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Flying a kite in Pakistan is a dangerous pastime.

Already it's banned for all but 15 days of the year but a provincial minister warned kite-flyers this week that any who cause injury or death with string made from metal or coated with glass could be tried under anti-terrorism laws.

The Punjabi chief minister's unprecedented threat came just ahead of the start of an annual kite-flying festival in the provincial capital, Lahore, Sunday.

Kite-flying in Pakistan and neighboring India often involves aerial duels in which participants try to bring down each other's kites using string coated in a sticky paste of ground-up glass or metal.

What about in Afghanistan?... Presumably, most Westerners discovered this sport via the book “Kite Runner”. -AT

Today is International Women's Day!


This begs the question: What are men supposed to do about it? Be extra special nice to women? I do that year-round! I guess for starters, we can go to the site linked below as a show of support. Technically, if enough men go to the site at one time, we'll crash it's bandwidth and get in trouble... As any woman will tell you, most of us can screw up a simple cup of coffee. Congratulations ladies! Enjoy your special day. -AT

International Women's Day is the universal day that connects all women around the world and inspires them to achieve their full potential. IWD 2006 launches another year of working progressively for women's equality worldwide. It is an important day around the world because the collective power of women is witnessed by milions, and the brave achievements of women past, present and future are respectfully honoured. International Women's Day 2006 will be celebrated globally on Wednesday 8 March. Join the action !! Official Web Site

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07 March 2006

Human quadrupeds discovered in Turkey


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2072832,00.html

Walking on all fours with the ancestors

FIVE brothers and sisters who can only walk naturally on all fours are being hailed as a unique insight into human evolution, after being found in a remote corner of rural Turkey….

…The discovery of the Kurdish family in southern Turkey last July has triggered a fierce debate. Two daughters and a son have only ever walked on two palms and two feet, with their extended legs, while another daughter and son occasionally manage a form of two-footed walking. The five can stand up, but only for a short time, with both knees and head flexed.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060307/sc_afp/turkeyhealthscience

Human quadrupeds discovered in Turkey

The siblings, the subject of a new BBC documentary to be aired on March 17, suffer from a genetic abnormality that may prevent them from walking upright.

Two sisters and one son have only ever walked on two hands and two feet, while another daughter and son occasionally walk on two feet.

All five are mentally retarded and have problems with language as a result of a form of underdevelopment of the brain known as cerebellar ataxia.

However Humphrey told the Times their behaviour may be partly the result of their parents tolerating the behaviour in childhood.

They are aged between 18 and 34 and live in southern Turkey, athough the makers of the documentary have not disclosed their exact location.

"They walk like animals and that's very disturbing at first. But we were also very moved by this family's tremendous warmth and humanity," Jemima Harrison of Passionate Productions told the Times.

Test message from cell phone

Test message from cell phone

06 March 2006

Days of the Weak: They Say It's The Survivors Who Suffer!?

Click to enlarge!











I knew many weeks ago that it would happen. The president took me to lunch, we discussed matters, we re-assured eachother. Then last Thursday the inevitable- I'm called to a private meeting, and my suspicions are affirmed. We'll be taking action tomorrow, as discussed weeks ago, we'll be executing the plan.

At my workplace, there used to be five people who I'd worked with at other companies. The history which the six of us all shared gave us a special kind of kinship at work- like brothers and sisters. Then one of us was let go, then another, then another quit to take a position elsewhere. We're down to three, and next thing you know, we're two. Yet another one of us is leaving- he received his two week notice on Friday. I'm the sole survivor of our original group.

The mood in our production meeting today is somber, yet light-hearted at the same time- if that's possible. The pressure is off a bit, with our company's backlog diminished more than we'd like. The latest casualty, my friend, is compelled to attend, and I believe I will be taking over all of his projects before he's gone.

The irony lies in the fact that out of the six of us, I was the most recent hire... Trouble is, I am so completely un-focused and lacking in drive lately that I'm practically ashamed to accept my salary each week. This too will pass- my mojo is eclipsed for only so long before I break out and run circles around everyone. It's a cycle which some believe is tied to the positions of the planets. Mars or Saturn must be exerting influence.

So today's artwork might seem a bit glum. It took all of 10 minutes to complete, and I nearly crumpled it up and tossed it, which is my reflex of choice, being a perfectionist and all. I hate it and love it at the same time, what's up with that? Usually I'm shy about anything I've drawn, and posting these pictures here is an exercise in overcoming that weakness. Thanks for giving it a look.

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Accused: Campus crash was 'to spread will of Allah'


I welcome your comments. At the moment I'm at work, and without speech. -AT

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (AP) -- A University of North Carolina
graduate from Iran, accused of running down nine people on campus to avenge the treatment of Muslims, said at a hearing Monday that he was "thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah."
At about the same time, UNC students held what they called an "anti-terrorism" rally on the Chapel Hill campus. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar was accused of driving a sport utility vehicle through The Pit, a popular campus gathering spot, injuring nine people Friday. None of the victims was seriously hurt.
More...

BONBON ~ Perfect for Turkish-American Kids - Turkish Torque

BONBON ~ Perfect for Turkish-American Kids - Turkish Torque

Time to Make Some $$$ on Ebay! (Blogging DOES NOT pay the bills)


I picked up $1700 worth of antique woodworking and mechanics' hand tools [at auction] on Saturday, and will be selling everything online during the next 2-3 weeks. Here's a link to my Ebay store, Reisco Tools & Collectibles. Show some love and pay a visit. I accept no responsibility if you die of boredom! I'll just count my money while I laugh, all the way to the bank. Seriously, though, I have literally hundreds of tools to get rid of. Tonight I managed to list only 23 of them. The wrench pictured is patented 1875- older than dirt.
From collectibles to electronics, buy and sell all kinds of items on eBay Stores
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03 March 2006

Oliver's Life: A Story in Pictures

I was overdue for a good cry. Are you?

A Muslim Manifesto: Rejecting the Bad, by Mustafa Akyol and Zeyno Baran

"We encourage Muslim political, social, community and business leaders to contact us at info@muslimmanifesto.org to sign onto the Manifesto so that the authentic peaceful and civilized message of Islam will be heard."

A Muslim Manifesto
Rejecting the bad.

By Mustafa Akyol & Zeyno Baran
"Who are the moderate Muslims, and why do they not speak up?" After being asked this question over and over again since 9/11, particularly after the Danish cartoon crisis, we decided to propose the following Muslim Manifesto:
Recently, the disrespectful cartoons about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) published in Jyllands-Posten resulted in an extreme reaction among many Muslims worldwide. While we understand the feelings of our co-religionists, we strongly urge them to refrain from rage and violence. A zeal for Allah is rightful only when it is expressed in an enlightened manner, since Allah himself has ordained a restrained response. When the early Muslims were mocked by their pagan contemporaries, the Koran ordered not a violent backlash, but rather a civilized disapproval: "When you hear Allah's verses being rejected and mocked at by people, you must not sit with them till they start talking of other things." (Koran 4:140) The Koran also describes Muslims as "those who control their rage and pardon other people, [because] Allah loves the good-doers." (3:134) Therefore all demonstrations against the mockery of Islam should be peaceful. All critiques of Islam should be countered not by threats and violence, but by rational counter-argument.
We also believe that terrorist acts can never be justified or excused. None of the challenges Muslims face, such as oppression or military occupation, can justify attacks against non-combatants. In the Holy Koran, Allah orders Muslims to "never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice." (5:8) The true Islamic sense of justice is well-established in the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); even in time of war — let alone peace — Muslim soldiers should never "kill the old, the infant, the child, or the woman." Those who do so are not martyrs, but cold-blooded murderers.
Supported by the Koran's affirmation that "there is no compulsion in religion" (2:256), we cherish religious liberty. Every human has the right to believe or not to believe in Islam or in any other religion All Muslims furthermore have the right to reject and change their religion if desired. No state, community or individual has a right to impose Islam on others. People should accept and practice Islam not because they are forced to do so, but because they believe in its teachings.
We support and cherish democracy — not because we reject the sovereignty of the Almighty over people, but because we believe that this sovereignty is manifested in the general will of people in a democratic and pluralistic society. We do not accept theocratic rule-not because we do not wish to obey Allah, but because theocratic rule inevitably becomes rule by fallible (and sometimes corrupt and misguided) humans in the name of the infallible God.
We accept the legitimacy of the secular state and the secular law. Islamic law, or sharia, was developed at a time when Muslims were living in homogenous communities. In the modern world, virtually all societies are pluralistic, consisting of different faiths and of different perceptions of each faith, including Islam. In this pluralistic setting, a legal system based on a particular version of a single religion cannot be imposed on all citizens. Thus, a single secular law, open to all religions but based on none, is strongly needed.
We believe that women have the same inalienable rights as men. We strongly denounce laws and attitudes in some Islamic societies that exclude women from society by denying them the rights of education, political participation and the individual pursuit of happiness. Like men, women should have the right to decide how they will live, dress, travel, marry and divorce; if they do not enjoy these rights, they are clearly second-class citizens.
We believe that there is no contradiction between religious and national identities. Any Muslim should be able to embrace the citizenship of any modern secular state while maintaining feelings of spiritual solidarity with the umma, the global Muslim community.
We regard Christianity and Judaism as sister faiths in the common family of Abrahamic monotheism. We strongly denounce anti-Semitism, which has been alien to Islam for many centuries but which unfortunately has gained popularity among some Muslims in recent decades. We accept Israel's right to exist, as well as the justified aspiration of the Palestinian people for a sovereign state and hope that a just two-state solution in Israel/Palestine will bring peace to the Holy Land.
In short, we strongly disagree with and condemn those who promote or practice tyranny and violence in the name of Islam. We hope that their misguided deeds will not blacken our noble religion — which is indeed a path to God and a call for peace.

We encourage Muslim political, social, community and business leaders to contact us at info@muslimmanifesto.org to sign onto the Manifesto so that the authentic peaceful and civilized message of Islam will be heard.
Mustafa Akyol is a writer and journalist based in Turkey; Zeyno Baran is director of International Security and Energy Programs at The Nixon Center.
Have you visited We are the Turks lately?

From Murat: Please show your support for this with a comment! Many thanks in advance.

02 March 2006

Muhammad Cartoon Protesters in California

By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press Writer Wed Mar 1, 7:54 AM ET
IRVINE, Calif. - A student panel discussion that included a display of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons descended into chaos, with one speaker calling Islam an "evil religion" and audience members nearly coming to blows...


...Tensions quickly escalated when the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of the conservative Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, said that Islam was an "evil religion" and that all Muslims hate America.

People repeatedly interrupted the talk and, at one point, campus police removed two men, one of them a Muslim, after they nearly came to blows.

Later, panelists were cheered when they referred to Muslims as fascists and accused mainstream Muslim-American civil rights groups of being "cheerleaders for terror."... More...

This comes as no surprise. It was only a matter of time for Muslim Americans to stand and be heard. Regrettably, a deliberate provocation by the University of California student body was the last thing we needed, just when things were cooling down. Enough already. Stop with the cartoons! Why even go there when you know that 1.5 billion people don't appreciate it? How many times did the networks apologize for the "wardrobe malfunction" of the previous Super Bowl? The number of Americans who were offended by Janet Jackson's breast compared against the number of Muslims who are upset about the cartoons is well...beyon compare to say the least. Yet the networks and Janet and the NFL all apologized profusely and repeatedly for something so trivial and stupid. Apparently 1.5 million offended Muslims is not sufficient to put an end to the cartoons. No, instead it's being force-fed to Muslims in the name of free speech, no matter what the consequences, no matter how clear it is that the faith of nearly 1/4 of the world's population is under assault. I've condemned all of the violent protest, boycotts and flag-burning, but it is also necessary to condemn those who perpetuate the things which got us into this mess, never mind the absence of a sincere apology or even a common sense understanding of why so many people are hurt and angry. There used to be virtues such as manners. Look into it! Better yet: Do Unto Others...

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