Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

My Photo

A round peg in a world of square holes...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hippie me

From the archives:

Back when I had long hair (and was a liberal).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cowards & Murderers

Photos that damn Hezbollah

By Chris Link, Sunday Herald Sun

THIS is the picture that damns Hezbollah. It is one of several, smuggled from behind Lebanon's battle lines, showing that Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia.

The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.

The photographs, from the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut, were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend.

They emerged as:

US President George Bush called for an international force to be sent to Lebanon.

ISRAEL called up another 30,000 reserve troops.

THE UN's humanitarian chief Jan Egeland called for a three-day truce to evacuate civilians and transport food and water into cut-off areas.

US SECRETARY of State Condoleezza Rice returned to the Middle East to push a UN resolution aimed at ending the 18-day war, and:

A PALESTINIAN militant group said it had kidnapped, killed and burned an Israeli settler in the West Bank.

The images include one of a group of men and youths preparing to fire an anti-aircraft gun metres from an apartment block with sheets hanging out on a balcony to dry.

Others show a militant with AK47 rifle guarding no-go zones after Israeli blitzes.

Another depicts the remnants of a Hezbollah Katyusha rocket in the middle of a residential block blown up in an Israeli air attack.

The Melbourne man who smuggled the shots out of Beirut and did not wish to be named said he was less than 400m from the block when it was obliterated.

"Hezbollah came in to launch their rockets, then within minutes the area was blasted by Israeli jets," he said.

"Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then it was totally devastated.

"It was carnage. Two innocent people died in that incident, but it was so lucky it was not more."

The release of the images comes as Hezbollah faces criticism for allegedly using innocent civilians as "human shields".

Mr Egeland blasted Hezbollah as "cowards" for operating among civilians.

"When I was in Lebanon, in the Hezbollah heartland, I said Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending in among women and children," he said.


8 video clips

The Hezbollah maintain that they do not use civilians for cover or as human shields during the war, but these videos contradict their claims.

In fact, the Hezbollah do not stop at using homes, civilian infrastructure and vehicles, women and children for cover, they deliberately engage in operations that draw fire to UN peacekeeping troops as well.

From an e-mail sent 18 July by Maj Hess-von Kruedener (the Canadian soldier who lost his life to an Israeli air strike) to

What I can tell you is this: we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity.

Look at the last sentence. Maj Hess-von Kruedener is obviously trying to say, without violatating the neutrality of UNTSO, that Hezbollah was firing from within meters of his post. Let me repeat, “meters,” and for days at that.

And check out this UNINFIL press release:

It was also reported that Hezbollah fired from the vicinity of four UN positions at Alma ash Shab, Tibnin, Brashit, and At Tiri.

Put together, it is pretty obvious that Hezbollah is violating the neutrality of the UN positions by intermingling their forces around them. As a result, UN peacekeepers, some of them unarmed like Maj Hess-von Kruedener, are dying for it.

Open your eyes

See Terror's True Roots

By Alan Dershowitz

The oft-reported mantra that "occupation causes terrorism" is false. Occupations, like Israel's presence in the West Bank, are often the necessary result of attacks by insurgent groups and terrorists - not the other way around.

History and contemporary experience make this clear.

First, Palestinian terrorism began well before there was any Israeli occupation. It started in 1929 when the grand mufti of Jerusalem ordered a terrorist attack against Jewish residents of Hebron, whose families had lived in that Jewish holy city for generations.

Second, terrorism against Israel got worse after Israel ended its occupation of southern Lebanon and Gaza, as these unoccupied lands became launching pads for rockets, missiles and kidnappings.

Third, other occupied people, for example the Tibetans, have never resorted to terrorism against innocent Chinese civilians, though their occupation has been longer and more brutal than anything experienced by the Palestinians.

Fourth, while it may be that a brutal occupation can increase the number of people willing to become suicide bombers, it is also true that no suicide bomber ever sent himself. They are sent by well-educated, affluent leaders like Osama Bin Laden, who do not live in occupied areas.

Fifth, Islamic terrorists have sworn to continue terrorism even if Israel were to end its occupation of the West Bank. They regard all of Israel as occupied.

And so, occupation does not cause terrorism. But terrorism does cause occupation and reoccupation. Israel would have left Gaza and much of the West Bank long ago if not for the fear of terrorism from that area. It never would have gone into southern Lebanon in 1982 were that area not being used as a base for terrorism.

If the international community cannot or will not protect Israel citizens against rocket attacks, kidnappings and suicide bombings, Israel will have no choice other than some limited and hopefully temporary form of reoccupation to protect itself. Nor will it leave the West Bank unless it can be assured that the areas it leaves will not become launching pads for increased terrorism.

Imagine what the U.S. would have done if Germany or Japan, which it occupied after World War II, persisted in attacking the United States from occupied or recently unoccupied areas. And Germany and Japan do not adjoin our country the way Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon adjoin Israel.

There is, of course, a difference between civilian settlements and a military presence in a hostile war zone. Regardless of what happens in Lebanon, Israel should begin to dismantle civilian settlements deep in the West Bank that have no military purpose. But it will be difficult to end completely the military presence - the checkpoints, the teams that search out terrorists, the network of electronic protections - without the assurance of an international force that will be at least as effective in controlling terrorism as the Israeli Army has been.

There has been far less terrorism from the occupied West Bank than from the unoccupied south Lebanon and Gaza. That lesson will not be lost on Israelis as they look to the future.

Dershowitz, a professor of law at Harvard, is author of "Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways."


I don't see the Dalai Lama encouraging Tibetan Buddhists to strap bombs to themselves and blow up Chinese civilians in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, etc. Do you?

Darwin Award Nominee behavior

For some of the Lebanese civilians:

1. Vote for and support the Hezbollah, knowing full well they are terrorists that purposely target Israeli women and children while hiding behind the skirts of Lebanese women and children.

2. Proudly house and allow the Hezbollah to dig in in and around their neighborhoods.

3. Watch and cheer on as the Hezbollah push the Israelis into war.

4. Proudly watch the Hezbollah fire their rockets--aimed at Israeli civilians--from their own villiages and backyards with nary a complaint, and then sticking around.

5. Watch as Israel sacrifices enormous military advantage by dropping pamphlets warning of impending strikes. The Darwin fodder then ignore the written notice of imminent bombing.

6. Cry and complain as they are mowed over by the Israeli war machine and shout death to Israel and the US over the deaths of their loved ones from their own stupidity.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Until then...

A photo essay.

Thank you.

Good day

'Took the top off and spent a few pleasurable hours tooling around the Santa Cruz Mountains:

After that, a little shopping at a local bike shop :-)

Descente cycling jersey. Front view. They really make great gear. Their Classic Chevron Pro Short, which cost me SGD$120 (US$76) in 1993, lasted 11 years.

Back view.
You gotta love Erik Cartman :-P

A couple CDs from the Jesuit Retreat House:

The psalm "Miserere mei Deus" is a prayer for mercy, contrition, and renewal. Since the 1630s, Gregorio Allegri's famous setting has been sung at dawn during Holy Week, while the Pope kneels in prayer in the solemn candlelit atmosphere of the Sistine Chapel. This contemporary version, recorded in the spectral grandeur of Osnabrück Cathedral, adds new material composed by Vladimir Ivanoff to the ethereal harmonies of the Osnabrück Youth Choir and the elegiac brass tones of the cornetto, recreating the mysterious beauty of this sacred classic.

i. Miserere Mei
ii. Et Secundum
iii. Amplius
iv. Tibi Soli
v. Ecce Enim
vi. Asperges Me
vii. Averte Faciem
viii. Cor Mundum
ix. Danza I
x. Quoniam Si Voluisses
xi. Tunc Acceptabis
xii. Sofferenza
xiii. Tunc Imponent
xiv. Danza Ii

The sublime tradition of Russian sacred choral music began with Byzantine chants and evolved to full harmonic magnificence in the later 19th century. In the great mixed choirs, earthly and ethereal voices join in ardent prayers of devotion and transcendent invocation of "Amen!" and "Alleluia!" Perhaps even more than its best-selling predecessor, this collection of choral masterworks by Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Komitas, Bach and others "sets the soul soaring beyond worldly cares."

i. Alleluia, Behold the Bridegroom
ii. Sourp Sourp (Holy Holy)
iii. Lord have Mercy
iv. The Mercy of Peace (Excerpts)
v. Komm Susser Tod (Bach)
vi. Serenade
vii. Grant Us This O LORD
viii. Our Father
ix. Gloria (Excerpt)
x. Peaceful Light (Kiev Chant)
xi. Praise the LORD O My Soul (Greek Chant)
xii. Blessed Art Thou O LORD (Kiev Chant)
xiii. Chorale
xiv. Amen, Alleluia

And a booklet:

Catholic Answers to Fundamentalists' Questions provides a basic resource for Catholics who are being pressured to account for their beliefs with respect to fundamentalism. It offers clear, accurate, and easy-to-read answers to many questions that sincere Christians ask about the Catholic faith. This new edition has been updated in light of recent scholarship--including references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church--and it accounts for the changing social, political and religious landscape of Christianity.

Among the basic areas of faith and practice covered in this book are Scripture and Tradition; teaching authority and the papacy; salvation; Mass and holy Communion; devotion to Mary and the saints; creation, evolution, and original sin; and the Second Coming and Last Judgment. A new section provides practical guidelines for getting along.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Difference

From Idan Gazit:

An old song for the times

Neighborhood Bully

Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man,
His enemies say he's on their land.
They got him outnumbered about a million to one,
He got no place to escape to, no place to run.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He's criticized and condemned for being alive.
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,
He's wandered the earth an exiled man.
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,
He's always on trial for just being born.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He's the neighborhood bully.

He got no allies to really speak of.
What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love.
He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly.
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Every empire that's enslaved him is gone,
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon.
He's made a garden of paradise in the desert sand,
In bed with nobody, under no one's command.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon,
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on.
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth,
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What's anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin', they say.
He just likes to cause war.
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers?
Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill,
Running out the clock, time standing still,
Neighborhood bully.

(Bob Dylan, 1983)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Which Sports Car Are You?

I'm a Lotus Elise!

You believe in maximum performance and minimum baggage. You like to travel light and fast, hit the corners hard, and dance like there's no tomorrow.

"Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Right on the bat, babyee!
In fact, if and when I get one, I am going to throw out the passenger seat so that I will not have to deal with the option of offering rides :-P

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Mother of All Disc Brakes

Took these for crufty:

The new CalTrain carriages use disc brakes.

The disc rotors are gigantic.

Check out the size of the calipers. The brake pads are larger than my feet.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

San José Grand Prix

'Went to catch the San José Grand Prix. As luck would have it, we showed up early and unknowingly wandered into the paid section before the perimeter fence was completely erected, thus saving ourselves the stiff entry fee. :-P

A map of the course.

Formula BMW Cars negotiating the hair pin turn.

Formula BMW is the world's leading entry-level open wheel racing class. Held in North America, Germany, the UK and Asia, up-and-coming drivers, as young as 15 years old, are given the opportunity to enter motor racing in the high-tech FB02 race car.

These cars are very small and light (1023 lb / 465 kg), and are powered by a modified, ultra lightweight 156 lb (71 kg) BMW motorcycle engine that puts out 140 horsepower.

Close up. Each car costs about US$76,000. Top speed is 140 mph (224 km/h).

The race is held on the streets of downtown San Jose.

Now its time for the Champ Cars to get on the circuit.

Notice the Adobe building?

The Champ Cars are significantly larger, heavier, and much more powerful, with 750 horsepower, a 0 - 60 mph (0 - 96 km/h) of 2.2 seconds, and a top speed of 240 mph (384 km/h).

Exiting the hair pin turn. The cost of playing this game is a minimum of US$2 million each.

One of the cars failed to negotiate a turn and smacked into the tire barriers. Both sides of the front wishbone suspension structure snapped (look at the odd angle of the tires). The front wing also broke off. The cars weigh about 1565 lb (711 kg) each--plenty light for 750 horsepower.

I just had to take this: on the fair grounds nearby. The prices for food and drinks were total rip offs: $6 for a cup of lemonade, $8 for a beer, $6 for a hot dog.

BMW had the most impressive "tent."

Ford's publicity stunt: Ford SVT Mustangs, along with a Ford GT, driven by females round the track.

Close up of one of the cars.

A 605 horsepower Porsche Carrera GT on display.

Engine bay.

The rear suspension is really trick.

Historic Motor Sports Association cars getting their turn on the track.

Closer look.

One of the straightaways and the pit. There is a button on the steering wheel of each of the Champ Cars. Every car is equipped with one. Pressing it raises boost pressure for 60 seconds, giving an extra 50 horsepower. It only works once in each race. Thus, drivers can choose to utilize it aggressively, to overtake another driver, or defensively, to maintain his or her position.

Pit crew working.

Crew tuning the engine.

Check out the pictures of the RuSport Team.

Interesting sticker on the left.

A day at the races for father and son.