g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, March 14, 2004
00:30 - They got my number

(top)
At the end of the new Sealab 2021:

Now, I know some o' you don't like the way I do things. In just a few minutes y'all are gonna be running to your little chat rooms and message boards and sissified little blogs, talking 'bout how you don't like your new Captain. Well, I've just got one thing to say to you: You don't like me? Fine. ...Watch anime.

This is why I love Adult Swim.

I'm not quite so sure, though, about This Just In, the new Flash-animated series on Spike TV. It appears to be trying to be the conservative version of that bizarre Camp Chaos series on VH1, angling for the inevitable right-leaning nature of the First Network for Men. Trouble is, they're being so aggro about it. Yeah, it's funny, but it's not that funny. Okay, I get it-- you're all topical and stuff. There's no need for the whole first five minutes of the show to be this self-described conservative bile-spewing political columnist in a bar barking about all the day's most egregious headlines, while his friend stands there and rolls his eyes and looks increasingly uncomfortable, is there? And I don't know if jokes about Wayne Brady or Hannity & Colmes or Ted Kennedy in cars on rivers are really going to wow people these days. Maybe people are starved for unabashedly conservative comedy-- I dunno. If they are, and they think this stuff is worth settling for, then the state of the nation may be well and truly fractured.

'Kay, fine-- I'm impressed that it was able to work in jokes about the Starsky & Hutch movie, the Haiti involvement, and Martha Stewart with this little lead time. But hey, South Park already retired that prize with their "Romanian Quintuplets" episode, their commentary on the Elian Gonzalez incident. The Gonzalez home was raided on a Wednesday, and the South Park episode aired on Saturday, replete with a parody of the at-gunpoint-in-the-closet photo. There's just no beating that.

Well, Godspeed, This Just In. I wish you well. But they just had another parody of that same closet photo tonight, on Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law, and I think that's where my loyalties will remain.

Sorry.


12:30 - Feeding the crocodile
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,8966351%5E7583,00.html

(top)
Via Tim Blair, Mark Steyn has a few responses to those who would blame the Madrid bombings on Spain's ill-advised support for the US in the War on Terror. Including this one:

3) It makes no difference.

Even if you'd avoided Iraq or Andalusia or British banks or Pilger or any other affront to Islamist sensibilities, you'd still be a target. As the PR guy for the Islamic Army of Aden said after blowing up that French tanker: "We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels." Commissioner Keelty is confusing old-school terrorism – blowing the legs off grannies as a means to an end – with the new: blowing the legs off grannies is the end. Old-school terrorists have relatively viable goals: They want a Basque state or Northern Ireland removed from the UK. You might not agree with these goals, you might not think them negotiable, but at least they're not stark staring insane.

That kind of finely calibrated terrorism – just enough slaughter to inconvenience the state into concessions – is all but over. Suppose you're an ETA cell. Suppose you were planning a car-bomb for next month – nothing fancy, just a dead Spanish official plus a couple of unlucky passers-by. Still want to go ahead with it? I doubt it. Despite Gerry Adams's attempts to distinguish between "unacceptable" terrorism and the supposedly more beneficial kind, these days it's a club with only one level of membership. That's why so many formerly active terrorist groups have been so quiet the past couple of years. In that sense, Bush is right: It is a "war on terror", and on many fronts it's being won.

If Islamic terrorism were as rational as Irish or Basque terrorism, it would be easier. But Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, summed it up very pithily: "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you." You can be pro-America (Spain, Australia) or anti-America (France, Canada), but if you broke into the head cave in the Hindu Kush and checked out the hit list you'd be on it either way.

So the choice for pluralist democracies is simple: You can join Bush in taking the war to the terrorists, to their redoubts and sponsoring regimes. Despite the sneers that terrorism is a phenomenon and you can't wage war against a phenomenon, in fact you can – as the Royal Navy did very successfully against the malign phenomena of an earlier age, piracy and slavery.

Or you can stick your head in the sand and paint a burqa on your butt. But they'll blow it up anyway.

Yup. Though in an extension of the same Xbox-is-still-working mentality I mentioned earlier, far too much of Europe and the world think that if they just lay low and attract little enough attention, maybe... they'll be last to go, or something. Deep down, they recognize the nature of the problem-- but as long as it's being handled by bigger players than themselves, they're safe. In the meantime, what would it profit them to root for the US and provoke the other side into treating them as a big player too? You end up like Spain.

European anti-Americanism is thus a logical piece of strategy stemming from being a bit player on the world stage. In context it makes sense.

Not that that makes it any less cowardly.

Saturday, March 13, 2004
10:35 - They start 'em early 'round these parts

(top)
Ahhh, the sounds of summer.

Wait. What? It's only, like, March. But yeah, Opening Ceremonies for the local Little League were what woke me up this hot (hot!) March morning. When I took Capri for his morning jog down the street one block over, it was lined with every car in the county, and everybody in them was over in the far baseball field under the flowering cherry trees, the announcer reading off the names of hundreds of cheering kids and their coaches and team names, and apologizing for the mangling of the names he tripped over.

I can hear the cheering from my window now.

Yes, there are some things from my youth that I miss. Why do you ask?

(Oh, wait. I sucked. Right.)


10:11 - Okay, you talked me into it

(top)
Yeah, yeah, I know it's vaguely gauche to talk about medical issues in public, or at least in my brain it is. But here goes anyway, because it's not serious and actually pretty funny.

So I was in at the Kaiser hospital again yesterday. The doctor had just given me a shot of cortisone and prescribed a six-day course of steroids. This is for the second stage in what's become rather a comedy of errors-- originally just a stupid swollen lymph node under the jaw, which has now all but gone away, for which I'd been taking antibiotics, not that they seemed to do much good. But now, nine days later, here I was again. Let's just say, well, I've missed the last two days of work, something I've never done since before my freshman year of high school (yes, I was a very boring kid), mostly to avoid freaking people out.

I headed down to the pharmacy. The pharmacist behind the consultation counter got my order, and looked in the computer. "Tie-man?" (as they always pronounce it.) "So you were in here nine days ago for some amoxicillin... and now you're here for methylprednisolone. That would be for.... what, an allergy? A rash?"

I rolled up a sleeve and showed her. Her eyes got as wide as dinner plates.

"Oh my God! she breathed. "What did you eat?"

I met her gaze as levelly as I could. "Amoxicillin," I said.

Friday, March 12, 2004
02:31 - "Actually, I wrote my thesis on life experience, and..."
http://www.coldfury.com/Sasha/archives/004673.html#004673

(top)
Via Mike at Cold Fury, a post that says what I wish I had the attention span this weekend to say (it's a long story and not one I'm about to get into, so why I bothered mentioning it now I don't know, oh, shut up, Brian, and post the excerpt):

The drum beat for Kerry, where I live, is constant. I’m on the Metro the other night after work, and a bunch of younger folks – probably Teach for America kids, or maybe Georgetown students – were ranting about how awful Bush is, and how they are excited about this upcoming “Beat Bush Back to Fucking Texas” party that a friend was throwing. I have friends working in the law enforcement and intel agencies around the government, who have gone gray haired since 9/11 – they always look tired for some reason and when some mutual friend starts going on about the phonied up war on terror, they look ill. Occasionally, it slips out on CNN that some terror suspect was caught coming into the country, and I hear rumors from my reasonably well placed friends that we are only getting the tip of the iceberg – that we don’t get the 90% that’s below the water line. Meanwhile, a liberal ex-friend of mine keeps sending me Rall cartoons, horrific videos alleging all sorts of wild Bush-led conspiracies to make money on oil, and the whole left side of the political class is going on about how Florida was stolen. And my friends working on the national security side of life get grayer, and grayer, both in the face and the hair. It’s like we aren’t even in the same world.

Then this huge attack happens today in Spain, and I can tell you, the result will be predictable: the Chomskies and Sonntags of the world, and all their bush league imitators, will say Spain had it coming for sticking with America. They shouldn’a gone on that cockamamie imperialist adventure in Iraq. It won't even be on the radar for most of the left in this country - the sophisticated Europhiles simply won't register the attack, because it doesn't fit their world view, except as an attack on an America proxy, and thus expected. 'Cuz America is evil, you know. At least when it has a Republican president.

Quite frankly, I’m sick of it. Sick sick sick sick sick. It’s like sitting in a burning house, and your friend in the adjacent easy chair keeps offering you popcorn, and insisting that the burning smell is in your imagination. Or at worst, it’s because you burned the popcorn you idiot, now shut up and watch the movie.

I want . . .

Go follow the link, where Mike's right in saying there's lots more, to find out what Al Maviva wants. (Not really. But in that bleak world of the imagination.)

If only every college-age stonergamerraverlamerloser who always flopped like a dead and sullen fish onto the Left side of the aisle whenever some argument came up, who assumed that because he liked sex and drugs and bunnies and clean air and not being around religious people, and because conservatives obviously hated those things, Republicans were the evil bat puppet to be beaten with sticks in the morality play of Life, could read this. And absorb it. And realize what they're asking of the world. And realize how little experience of that world they're using as their philosophical basis. And come to terms with the idea that hey, maybe just because they're young, they don't necessarily have the answers. Maybe, in fact, it's because they're young that they don't have the answers. (But that's anathema! ...Yes, but it makes sense, doesn't it? ...No! No! Well, yes--no! Aauuugh! Help!)

Life experience. What wonders it doth work. Funny how a single day-- a day like 9/11, say, or 3/11-- can dump so much of it on a guy.


00:09 - Fair enough
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/0304/031104.html

(top)
By the way-- I just wanted to grab hold of this little bauble from Thursday's Bleat:

I can understand why some don’t like video games – what’s the point? All those hours spent clicking and mousing, and for what? I can see that; I feel the same away about opera: people striding around yelling in Italian. Does nothing for me. But I’ve been playing Halo again (on the Mac – a far superior experience than the Xbox version) and I realized that these games give you choices and situations real life never presents. Nevermind the fact that I will never find myself riding a commandeered alien vehicle and interrupt a battle between the Covenant and the horrid flood, and e forced to dismount and engage in a shoulder-mounted RPG duel. Goes without saying. But when the battle’s over, you scavenge for ammo. There’s lots of RPG ammo. There’s a rare sniper rifle, too. Since you can only carry two weapons, this means you’d have to drop your Trusty Shotgun for a sniper rifle, and your other weapon would be a rocket launcher. This is the worst combination you can have – two long-range weapons, nothing for close work when one of those gawdawful Flood bipeds comes running at you. But the game seems to suggest that this is what you should do, so you do it.

In a world where your choices are usually of the paper or plastic nature, this is a welcome change.

An interesting point, to be sure. I don't know if it's sufficient to break me of my entrenched cynicism on the subject, but it certainly comes close.


17:39 - Compare and contrast

(top)
InstaPundit has inadvertently placed a couple of photos (or links to photos) quite close together, and it's hard to find a better illustration of the different kinds of people who demonstrate on opposite sides of this modern war.

Exhibit A:



Exhibit B:



I don't know about you, but I've got my side picked out.


16:19 - iPod People! They're taking over! They're everywheeeere!
http://www.macminute.com/2004/03/11/toronto

(top)

Beware, Toronto residents! The TTC is currently under invasion!

But do not be alarmed-- merely go about your business as usual. Climb some stairs. Throw out some coffee cups. Just cast your eyes randomly about the subway platforms.

But be sure to keep your minds in a relaxed state, and susceptible to gentle, subtle suggestion...


12:26 - Portals to the Netherverse
http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2004-03-12

(top)
Don't miss today's Penny Arcade:



And Tycho is a pretty clear thinker. Reminds me of a few friends of mine:

If you want to coexist with different breeds of geeks, you need to adopt a value-neutral approach to the platforms. So, while there are many conversations one can have regarding different computing methods, I typically do not choose to have them. Gabriel and I no longer discuss God for the same reason - people express themselves via means as divergent as spirituality and operating systems, so as soon as the topic starts to get interesting it invariably becomes personal. Obviously, that has a tendency to occlude rational dialogue. There might have been a point where I had a surplus of energy to invest in philosophical cul-de-sacs. I no longer remember it.

The way Apple projects its brand, however, has nothing to do with the underlying technology. It could not be more divorced from it. So if they want to create largely empty stores staffed exclusively by young hardbodies in ill-fitting t-shirts, it's open season. Its possible that each manifestation of this chain does not resemble the others, that each one is not populated with the scrubbed, tousled young things of the sort one sees in serious teen dramas. You'll forgive me if I don't believe that. I'd say it's far more likely that there is a single Apple Store, connected by a serious of geographically distinct portals.

Got it in one.

Anyway, the dichotomy between how I feel about Apple and how I feel about politics-- the respective philosophies are just about dead opposites, leading me to believe that maybe I like Macs so as to feed my repressed inner activist-- is something that's bugged me under the surface for years now. Naturally I've found myself getting a lot less extreme in my Apple boostering over the past year or two, though it occasionally bubbles up beyond my control. I've had a number of deep conversations with friends about just what it is that I think I'm doing by supporting Apple, while at the same time stumping for free-market industry and natural competitive forces. And honestly I don't know. All the anguished car metaphors or petulant demonstrations of technical superiority don't matter a whit in the absence of market evidence supporting my position. But that hasn't stopped me, and after all the essays and e-mail conversations I'm no closer to understanding it than I was before.

I will note, however, on a pseudo-tangent, that most of the Mac guys I know today used to be big PC gearheads, Linux junkies, Windows gurus, and so on. They loved tinkering around in PC cases-- they lived for it. They knew all the stats of all the video cards and hard drives and motherboards and RAM buses and everything that was on the market; they read AnandTech and Ars Technica and always could be counted on to reel off a ream of advice on putting together a new machine, or whip one up themselves from parts at Fry's in the matter of an afternoon. ...But eventually, the magic and the fun just sort of went out of it; there's only so much fulfillment to be had from overclocking a Celeron or picking jumpers out of the dark cavity of a motherboard under a rat's nest of power connectors or slicing your thumb open on a stamped-sheet-steel case from the dumpster outside the office. Moreover there's only so much romance in hacking the Registry, running virus scanners, tweaking all the interactive desktop settings to come up with the perfect purple-text-on-black gothic color scheme in GNOME or Windows. Eventually one just gets sick of it. And more than one, it seems, has.

Nowadays my friends tend to either buy off-the-shelf PCs from Dell or AlienWare, or buy Macs. I think there's more significance in that than in fussing over brand identity, or even agonizing over whether I'm being politically consistent in all my doings. It's more like, "Well, yeah, we were both right all along. Let's stop all the fussin' and the feudin'."

"...And let's go to the opening of that new Apple Store down at the mall!"

Thursday, March 11, 2004
19:03 - Somos todos españoles hoy

(top)
Just spreading the address of the Spanish Embassy around a bit. For expressions of condolences, whatever form they might take. It's not much, but it's something.

His Excellency Inocencio Aris
Spanish Embassy
2375 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037.
Phone #202-452-0100

Be sure to look at these photos first.

Spain's been a welcome ally in the War on Terror, giving the US the benefit of the doubt over the French on their own border. They've been on our A-list for some time now, but today they should go right to the head of the class.

After all, so much of the criticism of America's pursuit of the War on Terror is (perversely) that it's motivated by our own self-interest. As though as long as terrorism wasn't happening in the Europeans' backyards, they were free to scoff at us-- 9/11, to many in the world, is no nearer than some flickering images on TV. Abstract. Distant.

Now, though, if Spain decides to go full-bore on their own WoT arm, and we throw in our lot wholeheartedly... well, nobody could ask for a better or more powerful friend, as the Spanish will soon discover. And who in Europe will scoff then?

That said, I'm sure it'll be a matter of hours before the meme is spreading that the attacks today were perpetrated by the CIA, specifically to raise European sympathy for the WoT and cooperation with Bush this election year.

My God. These are the things we have to think about nowadays.

Have we become so inured to terrorism that pondering the inevitable wacko conspiracy theories is an activity that's actually visibly on our collective radar?

Time to step back. Survey what's happened. Make a judgment that's free of sarcasm and double-entendre and overanalysis. And act.

It's still September 2001. It's never stopped being September 2001.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004
16:52 - A World of Padded Corners
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,113836,00.html

(top)
Via Rosemary Esmay, who aptly points out the critical importance that this bill must pass:

Eating a Big Mac, supersize fries and a supersize Coke isn't healthy. Nobody should be "confused" by that. If you eat like that everyday YOU WILL GET FAT. If you don't get fat - you either have a helluva metabolism or you spend way too much time working out.

I don't want you suing Mickey D's into bankruptcy or changing it's menu. I like a Big Mac every once in a while and I sure as hell want to get one when the urge hits me. Same with KFC, Wendys, BK or whatever. We like our fast food. Leave it alone. Oh, and keep your greedy paws away from Taco Bell!

If this bill fails and people can sue restaurants, these restaurants will suffer economically and then what? How can McDonald's or whoever protect itself?

Perhaps, employees should start telling patrons that they are too fat for the Quarter pounder with cheese. How about refusing service to overweight/obese persons? Or maybe only allow them to buy a salad and a diet cola?

That won't happen will it?

People will then sue because they were discriminated against. If people refuse to accept responsibility for their choices and results of those choices, what will happen to our freedom?

It may be too late to get it back. Once a nation starts off down the road toward padding every sharp corner, wrapping pillows around every soft cranium, and creating the infrastructure for guaranteeing a life of (modest) ease and (adequate) health and (average) success, it's very nearly impossible to turn back. Public services like free health care and employer-administered social benefits are really, really hard to take away from people. Once they have 'em, they have 'em for good. Which is fine, if you don't mind that you're not living your own adult life anymore, free to fail as well as to succeed: someone else is taking care of you, just like in kindergarten.

A decade ago, America marveled at that guy who was in the news saying he'd been eating a Big Mac a day for like twenty years and was fit as a fiddle. Marveled that he was alive. See, we knew better.

Now, there's that guy who's choosing to eat Big Macs three meals a day specifically so he can become fat and miserable, and then make a documentary showing how evil McDonald's is for letting him do this to himself, presumably so he can pressure them into selling healthier food. (I guess he figures obesity is what makes for a successful documentarian.)

Methinks America has forgotten how to be its own watchdog. Now it's all about nutritional-information boxes on restaurant menus and class-action lawsuits against anybody you feel like blaming your ills on.

Now "KFC" no longer stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Now it means Kitchen Fresh Chicken.

Let that sink in, especially knowing that the food hasn't changed.

This has to stop. It has to stop now.

Tuesday, March 9, 2004
01:05 - No More Mr. Potato Head?
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/834llyrg.asp

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Is this for real? Via Tim Blair, it purports to be a series of off-the-cuff comments from Dick Cheney at the annual Gridiron dinner, which sounds like something I should know more about.

Many people have made noises about Cheney being Bush's biggest detriment for his second term, that he's deadwood and a magnet for criticism over policy and conflicts of interest, and that he should feign a heart attack and let Rudy Giuliani or Condi Rice step in as Veep.

But after seeing this, I'm wondering...

Thank you, President [Al] Hunt, members of the Gridiron . . . at one point during your skits, I had a little scare. I felt a tightness in my chest. I started gasping for air and breathing irregularly. Then I realized it's called laughing. . . .

Lots of familiar faces here tonight. I always feel a genuine bond whenever I see Senator Clinton. She's the only person who's the center of more conspiracy theories than I am.

. . .

Here's an unsigned question. "Mr. Vice President, don't you think it's time to step down and let someone else add new energy and vitality to the ticket?"

No . . . I don't. And Rudy [Guiliani], you need to do a better job disguising your handwriting.

Oh . . . and Rudy has a follow up. "How can you be so sure you'll be on the ticket?"

Because the CIA told me so! . . .

. . .

Dave Broder: "How would you accurately describe your role in this administration? Be honest."

I would say that I am a dark, insidious force pushing Bush toward war and confrontation. . . .

There's more. Even if this is just a spoof, it's a bloody good one.

But if it's not, we'd better make sure to get that security alert level down so Cheney can make more public appearances. Him, Bush, and Rumsfeld, up on stage with a brick wall behind them, a few bottles of Calistoga, and a 10:00 slot on Comedy Central...

Monday, March 8, 2004
13:27 - You heard it here first (maybe)
http://search.atomz.com/search/?sp-a=sp1001847f&sp-f=ISO-8859-1&sp-q=fuck+shit

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When a friend pointed this out to me last night, and as I skimmed the various links (without following any of them) and read the synopses, my first reaction was: What is this, Kerry/Bush slash fiction?

Then I thought, a few moments later, that when the archaeologists of the late-21st-century sift through the burned-out rubble of our once-proud civilization, searching for clues to the technological, political, social, and cultural shifts that led inexorably to the cataclysmic downfall of the human race so many horrific decades earlier, some poor investigator would be tasked with the onerous but crucial duty to track down the first time anyone on the Internet used the words Kerry/Bush slash fiction.

Oh no. What have I done?!


12:08 - I wanna go too!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/guantanamo/story/0,13743,1163435,00.html

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If it's in The Guardian, it must be true!

Well, maybe only if it says something positive about America.
Cuba? It was great, say boys freed from US prison camp

Asadullah strives to make his point, switching to English lest there be any mistaking him. "I am lucky I went there, and now I miss it. Cuba was great," said the 14-year-old, knotting his brow in the effort to make sure he is understood.

Not that Asadullah saw much of the Caribbean island. During his 14-month stay, he went to the beach only a couple of times - a shame, as he loved to snorkel. And though he learned a few words of Spanish, Asadullah had zero contact with the locals.

He spent a typical day watching movies, going to class and playing football. He was fascinated to learn about the solar system, and now enjoys reciting the names of the planets, starting with Earth. Less diverting were the twice-monthly interrogations about his knowledge of al-Qaida and the Taliban. But, as Asadullah's answer was always the same - "I don't know anything about these people" - these sessions were merely a bore: an inevitably tedious consequence, Asadullah suggests with a shrug, of being held captive in Guantanamo Bay.

On January 29, Asadullah and two other juvenile prisoners were returned home to Afghanistan. The three boys are not sure of their ages. But, according to the estimate of the Red Cross, Asadullah is the youngest, aged 12 at the time of his arrest. The second youngest, Naqibullah, was arrested with him, aged perhaps 13, while the third boy, Mohammed Ismail, was a child at the time of his separate arrest, but probably isn't now.

Tracked down to his remote village in south-eastern Afghanistan, Naqibullah has memories of Guantanamo that are almost identical to Asadullah's. Prison life was good, he said shyly, nervous to be receiving a foreigner to his family's mud-fortress home.

The food in the camp was delicious, the teaching was excellent, and his warders were kind. "Americans are good people, they were always friendly, I don't have anything against them," he said. "If my father didn't need me, I would want to live in America."

Asadullah is even more sure of this. "Americans are great people, better than anyone else," he said, when found at his elder brother's tiny fruit and nut shop in a muddy backstreet of Kabul. "Americans are polite and friendly when you speak to them. They are not rude like Afghans. If I could be anywhere, I would be in America. I would like to be a doctor, an engineer _ or an American soldier."

Heh. If the rest of the Cubans knew about this, they'd probably be clamoring to get in.

I'm sure statements from Amnesty International and the IRC will be immediately forthcoming.

Don't miss these exclusive photos of the Birkenau of the Caribbean, sent via Mark O.

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© Brian Tiemann