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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Bahrain preview 


A glimpse of things to come. This is the Shaikh Salman bin Ahmed al Fateh Fort in the town of Riffa, which I visited last year.
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Land of the two seas 

On Friday, I will be leaving the pleasant Maine summer for slightly hotter climes. It's time for me to fulfill my obligatory two weeks a year of active duty as a Naval Reservist. In this case, I'll be serving the maximum time allowed, which is about a month.

So, back to the sandbox of Bahrain I go. I'll try to post about my observations and experiences, what the culture is like, what the people are like, etc. (Note--interaction with actual Bahrainis is a relatively infrequent thing, so I might not have much on that subject.) I'll also try to keep weather posts to a minimum, although some degree of complaining should be expected. I'm going from Maine to Bahrain, after all. I deserve some slack. Besides, a few words about how unbearably hot it is help to set the tone for any description of the Gulf in summertime.

I think that most Americans don't have much of a sense of what life is like in the Arab world. I don't know if I'll be able to shed a lot of light on the subject, but I can at least write about what it is like for me as an American in an Arab country. (Albeit in a quite modern, westernized, and cosmopolitan one.) I've mentioned my previous time in Bahrain elsewhere in this blog, but, internet connectivity permitting*, I hope to provide something approaching a day to day description of the people, places, and things that cross my path. Maybe a reader or two will learn something.

* Worst-case scenario is what I had last year, which is pay-per-minute dialup at my flat. Best case, I get put up in a place with Wi-fi.

I will try to get some photos on here to share some of the sights of Bahrain. Naturally, there will be nothing to identify me or the location of my residence. Also, my workday will have to remain a black hole. There simply isn't much I can tell you about, unless you're interested in the food we had delivered or which ballgame we watched on the night shift. I'm guessing you're not.

So that's that. Like I said, hopefully someone can learn a thing or two.
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Monday, August 16, 2004

Sudan: The state of things 

Sudan: The Passion of the Present has an excellent recap of the current situation in Darfur and what needs to be done to help the people of the beleaguered Sudanese region. These are your fellow human beings and hundreds of thousands of them are in grave danger. They deserve your concern, and the world's help. With the use of force (even American force) if necessary. As an American reservist, I would volunteer in a heartbeat for a mission to help these people.

Save Darfur.org has some ideas on how you can help.
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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Attention Assault Weapons Ban supporters 

I'm going to try something out, and I don't know if I'll get any responses... But if you just happened upon this post and you're a supporter of the federal Assault Weapons Ban and want it to be renewed, you're the kind of person I'm looking for. Whether you're fervent about it or just think it's a good idea, this post is for you. Because I really want to know what you believe the ban actually accomplishes.

Some suggestions to get people started:

- Describe what is banned by the AWB.

- Describe what the word "ban" means in the case of the AWB.

- Describe how banned weapons differ functionally from legal weapons.

Extra points if you answer the next question correctly:

- What false information is presented on the billboard in this press release? How about in the press release as a whole? (I saw the billboard in Boston on Friday, prompting this post.)

I'm not looking for people who oppose the ban. You already understand the issues. I'm looking for people who support it, because I don't think you understand what you're supporting. I am willing to bet that most of you have some wildly incorrect assumptions upon which you base your support of the ban--about what the ban allows and disallows, and about the technical aspects of firearms in general. And I can prove it.

I'll keep any discussion rational and civil, and I ask that any comments follow suit. Any takers?

I hope I get some takers because AWB supporters know less about their issue than any other issue supporters I know. They need a fact injection. It can be tough medicine to take when you're as emotionally tied to something as they are--to the point of dismissing facts or even inventing facts to support their beliefs--but maybe the lightbulb will turn on for someone.
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There's no "I" in "Team" 

Unfortunately, that's not a lesson NBA players learn these days. Here's proof, compliments of a group of stars who don't get it.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- In an upset as historic as it was inevitable, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson and the rest of the U.S. basketball team lost 92-73 to Puerto Rico on Sunday, only the third Olympic loss ever for America and its first since adding pros.
In a shocking twist, Allen Iverson, of all people, just might be the one guy who does get it:

"They play the game the way it's supposed to be played," Iverson said. "It's not about athletics. That's the game the way Karl Malone and John Stockton play it. It's good for kids to see how the game is supposed to be played."
Coach Larry Brown understands the problem perfectly, but I don't know if any coach can take a group of NBA stars, in today's day and age, and mold them into a cohesive unit that plays as a team in international competition. In his words:

"I'm disappointed because I had a job to do as a coach, to get us to understand how we're supposed to play as a team and act as a team, and I don't think we did that."
I don't think they can do that.

See the post below this one to find out what a TEAM can accomplish.
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