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Books That Have Changed My Life

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  • Ram Lau
    Books That Have Changed My Life Ram Lau I have loved to read since childhood. My first serious book in elementary school was Antonine de Saint Exupery s The
    Message 1 of 15 , Mar 11 4:04 PM
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      Books That Have Changed My Life
      Ram Lau

      I have loved to read since childhood. My first "serious" book in
      elementary school was Antonine de Saint Exupery's The Little Prince.
      Books from Zhuangzi to the Bible shaped my religious beliefs. Thomas
      More's Utopia and Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities helped me
      shape my philosophical beliefs. Karl Marx's Das Kapital and Milton and
      Rose Friedmans' Free to Choose showed me that politics and economics
      are inevitably intertwined.

      The first book that completely changed my life is George Orwell's
      Nineteen-Eighty Four. It was my first real lesson on Machiavellianism.
      The year was 1997, when Hong Kong was undergoing the handover of power
      from the Great Britain to China. There was a temporary period of
      "red-scare" in the college campuses in the newly named Hong Kong
      Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). People still had not forgotten
      the bloody Cultural Revolution that just ended a score of years ago.
      Maoism was often compared to fascism and Nazism among the
      intellectuals. In these circumstances, one could not help but indeed
      feel threatened by Newspeak, doublethink, and the Thoughtpolice of the
      (Communist) Party. Upon my high school graduation, I decided to come
      to America alone at the age of seventeen.

      The 9/11 attack changed the world. One might wonder if Orwell would
      have ever imagined another Big Brother budding in the leader of the
      free world. In recent years, the American people have learned to
      accept and live with the Ingsoc ideals--when they have been
      brainwashed to believe that War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and
      Ignorance is Strength. Religion is used as a tool to grossly
      manipulate the electorate and indulge their hypocrisy. With a War that
      has no end, the American people are giving up their freedom faithfully
      to the government. The general public have refused to think and
      blindly supported abuses to other countries and their own. As Orwell
      noted, "in the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a
      basis of poverty and ignorance." This book has again given me another
      direction and affirmed the goal of my life--to devote my life to fight
      poverty and ignorance for the sake of preserving a great democracy and
      alleviating unnecessary suffering currently too much on earth.

      The second book that greatly influenced me is Robert Caro's Master of
      the Senate, the third and the most recent volume of the four-volume
      biography of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Even before I set foot
      upon the soil of this country, I had been intrigued by American
      history and politics. After getting to know the iconic figure that
      Johnson was in an American history class, I was much enchanted by the
      extraordinary life and career of Johnson. It took me no time to finish
      the first two volumes of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, and I patiently
      waited for the release of this latest volume. With a few overnights of
      reading, I enjoyed the book front cover to cover. I learned a great
      deal about the history of the U.S. Senate, as well as the most
      prominent statesmen and politicians in Congress who had shaped America
      into what it is.

      In a good sense, Johnson was perhaps the most Machiavellian politician
      in American history, even more so than his once fellow Senator and
      later presidential successor Richard Nixon. Unlike the genuine
      liberals such as Hubert Humphrey and Alben Barkley, Johnson lacked the
      moral conviction to fight for a just cause in his Senate years. In his
      opinion, "civil rights could be accomplished, not by idealism but by
      rough stuff." Caro harshly judged that Johnson chose to secure the
      Senate majority leadership and took the monumental role to fight for
      civil rights only because he had to do so. Without the support from
      the North, Senator Johnson from Texas would never have had a chance to
      launch a successful run for President. Nonetheless, without Johnson
      being the catalyst in this important part of U.S. history, the passage
      of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and the subsequent Civil Rights
      Movement would never have had happened so quickly and consequentially.
      In order to achieve his political ambitions, Johnson coaxed, cajoled,
      compromised, bullied, and coerced. Indeed, the Senate was the ideal
      place for Johnson to exercise all his political talents and to grow
      into an influential powerbroker who gradually saw how politics and
      policies could profoundly change people's lives. Till this day, I am
      still deeply thankful that Mr. Caro has dedicated decades of his life
      and hard work on Lyndon Johnson, arguably the most politically astute
      American ever lived, and his enormous impact on the country. Most of
      all, he splendidly showed the enormous complexity of Johnson, who was
      vulgar yet gentleman, shallow yet noble, vicious yet good-hearted, and
      cynical yet always meant well for his country. After reading Master of
      the Senate, I seriously set my eyes on Washington. I was determined to
      help to create sound economic policies to fight poverty and ignorance.

      The third and the last book that affected my life is Al Franken's Lies
      and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the
      Right. Franken exemplified how humor and satire combined with facts
      can be utilized to combat gutter politics and malicious lies. More
      importantly, he wittily illustrated one of the foibles of
      laissez-fairecapitalism. Putting profit and viewership before civic
      and journalistic principles, the mainstream media has become a speaker
      for the corporate campaign-donors and is only willing to say what the
      viewers want to hear. In comedian Jon Stewart's words, "The media is
      not liberal. It is lazy and sensationalist." Market forces exacerbate
      the situation by facilitating the competition of extremism and
      patronization--whoever makes the most outrageous comments and spills
      the most demonizing trolls draws the most attention. In the chapter
      "Supply Side Jesus," Franken eviscerated the phoniness of certain
      so-called "born-again Christians" who place their selfishness and
      prejudice before decency and compassion that most human beings
      possess. The importance of this book is that it reminds me the truth
      can never be taken for granted, it has to be discovered.

      The books mentioned above have fundamentally changed me and my
      thinking. Because of them, I have a better understanding of who I am
      and what I want to be. While no one knows how far I can go, they have
      given me precious advice and direction that I will appreciate for life.
    • greg
      Lots of good books there, Ram. I ve read a few of those: The Little Prince (which I barely read last year, at my girlfriend s suggestion), 1984 (I also read it
      Message 2 of 15 , Mar 11 6:30 PM
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        Lots of good books there, Ram. I've read a few of those: The Little
        Prince (which I barely read last year, at my girlfriend's suggestion),
        1984 (I also read it in 1997; amazingly enough it was an assignment in
        my high school freshman English class), and Zhuangzi (am I correct in
        thinking that Zhuangzi is the same person as Chuang-Tzu? I read a book
        by him long ago, which included the famous story about the man
        dreaming he was a butterfly). And I'm reading the Bible right now,
        because I'm taking a class on The Life & Teachings of Jesus Christ
        (offered by the Religious Studies department at my school).

        Are you from Hong Kong, Ram? What do you think about the recent
        resignation of the Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa?

        Your sentence, "After reading Master of the Senate, I seriously set my
        eyes on Washington. I was determined to help to create sound economic
        policies to fight poverty and ignorance." makes me think you're
        considering going into politcs yourself. I think you'd do a good job.

        If I was to make a list of books like that I guess I'd include Henry
        David Thoreau, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, P.G. Wodehouse, and Terry
        Pratchett. I have a bad habit of reading many books at once. I keep
        them in a stack and after I've read a chapter or so in one I put at
        the bottom and go through them in a cycle. Right now I'm reading The
        Scholars by Wu Ching-Tzu, Willard by Stephen Gilbert, The History Of
        The Haymarket Affair by Henry David, A History Of The Middle East by
        Peter Mansfield, the 9/11 Report from the Commission, Theodore Rex by
        Edmund Morris, The Age Of Stonegenge by Colin Burgess, and The Power
        of Babel: A Natural History Of Language by John McWhorter. That's
        really too many to do at once, I hope to finish off a few soon.

        --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
        >
        > Books That Have Changed My Life
        > Ram Lau
        >
        > I have loved to read since childhood. My first "serious" book in
        > elementary school was Antonine de Saint Exupery's The Little Prince.
        > Books from Zhuangzi to the Bible shaped my religious beliefs. Thomas
        > More's Utopia and Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities helped me
        > shape my philosophical beliefs. Karl Marx's Das Kapital and Milton and
        > Rose Friedmans' Free to Choose showed me that politics and economics
        > are inevitably intertwined.
        >
        > The first book that completely changed my life is George Orwell's
        > Nineteen-Eighty Four. It was my first real lesson on Machiavellianism.
        > The year was 1997, when Hong Kong was undergoing the handover of power
        > from the Great Britain to China. There was a temporary period of
        > "red-scare" in the college campuses in the newly named Hong Kong
        > Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). People still had not forgotten
        > the bloody Cultural Revolution that just ended a score of years ago.
        > Maoism was often compared to fascism and Nazism among the
        > intellectuals. In these circumstances, one could not help but indeed
        > feel threatened by Newspeak, doublethink, and the Thoughtpolice of the
        > (Communist) Party. Upon my high school graduation, I decided to come
        > to America alone at the age of seventeen.
        >
        > The 9/11 attack changed the world. One might wonder if Orwell would
        > have ever imagined another Big Brother budding in the leader of the
        > free world. In recent years, the American people have learned to
        > accept and live with the Ingsoc ideals--when they have been
        > brainwashed to believe that War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and
        > Ignorance is Strength. Religion is used as a tool to grossly
        > manipulate the electorate and indulge their hypocrisy. With a War that
        > has no end, the American people are giving up their freedom faithfully
        > to the government. The general public have refused to think and
        > blindly supported abuses to other countries and their own. As Orwell
        > noted, "in the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a
        > basis of poverty and ignorance." This book has again given me another
        > direction and affirmed the goal of my life--to devote my life to fight
        > poverty and ignorance for the sake of preserving a great democracy and
        > alleviating unnecessary suffering currently too much on earth.
        >
        > The second book that greatly influenced me is Robert Caro's Master of
        > the Senate, the third and the most recent volume of the four-volume
        > biography of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Even before I set foot
        > upon the soil of this country, I had been intrigued by American
        > history and politics. After getting to know the iconic figure that
        > Johnson was in an American history class, I was much enchanted by the
        > extraordinary life and career of Johnson. It took me no time to finish
        > the first two volumes of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, and I patiently
        > waited for the release of this latest volume. With a few overnights of
        > reading, I enjoyed the book front cover to cover. I learned a great
        > deal about the history of the U.S. Senate, as well as the most
        > prominent statesmen and politicians in Congress who had shaped America
        > into what it is.
        >
        > In a good sense, Johnson was perhaps the most Machiavellian politician
        > in American history, even more so than his once fellow Senator and
        > later presidential successor Richard Nixon. Unlike the genuine
        > liberals such as Hubert Humphrey and Alben Barkley, Johnson lacked the
        > moral conviction to fight for a just cause in his Senate years. In his
        > opinion, "civil rights could be accomplished, not by idealism but by
        > rough stuff." Caro harshly judged that Johnson chose to secure the
        > Senate majority leadership and took the monumental role to fight for
        > civil rights only because he had to do so. Without the support from
        > the North, Senator Johnson from Texas would never have had a chance to
        > launch a successful run for President. Nonetheless, without Johnson
        > being the catalyst in this important part of U.S. history, the passage
        > of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and the subsequent Civil Rights
        > Movement would never have had happened so quickly and consequentially.
        > In order to achieve his political ambitions, Johnson coaxed, cajoled,
        > compromised, bullied, and coerced. Indeed, the Senate was the ideal
        > place for Johnson to exercise all his political talents and to grow
        > into an influential powerbroker who gradually saw how politics and
        > policies could profoundly change people's lives. Till this day, I am
        > still deeply thankful that Mr. Caro has dedicated decades of his life
        > and hard work on Lyndon Johnson, arguably the most politically astute
        > American ever lived, and his enormous impact on the country. Most of
        > all, he splendidly showed the enormous complexity of Johnson, who was
        > vulgar yet gentleman, shallow yet noble, vicious yet good-hearted, and
        > cynical yet always meant well for his country. After reading Master of
        > the Senate, I seriously set my eyes on Washington. I was determined to
        > help to create sound economic policies to fight poverty and ignorance.
        >
        > The third and the last book that affected my life is Al Franken's Lies
        > and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the
        > Right. Franken exemplified how humor and satire combined with facts
        > can be utilized to combat gutter politics and malicious lies. More
        > importantly, he wittily illustrated one of the foibles of
        > laissez-fairecapitalism. Putting profit and viewership before civic
        > and journalistic principles, the mainstream media has become a speaker
        > for the corporate campaign-donors and is only willing to say what the
        > viewers want to hear. In comedian Jon Stewart's words, "The media is
        > not liberal. It is lazy and sensationalist." Market forces exacerbate
        > the situation by facilitating the competition of extremism and
        > patronization--whoever makes the most outrageous comments and spills
        > the most demonizing trolls draws the most attention. In the chapter
        > "Supply Side Jesus," Franken eviscerated the phoniness of certain
        > so-called "born-again Christians" who place their selfishness and
        > prejudice before decency and compassion that most human beings
        > possess. The importance of this book is that it reminds me the truth
        > can never be taken for granted, it has to be discovered.
        >
        > The books mentioned above have fundamentally changed me and my
        > thinking. Because of them, I have a better understanding of who I am
        > and what I want to be. While no one knows how far I can go, they have
        > given me precious advice and direction that I will appreciate for life.
      • Ram Lau
        ... Yeah, both names refer to the same person. The butterfly story is one of my favorites. I went to a Christian school for 12 years, so I had to study the
        Message 3 of 15 , Mar 11 7:03 PM
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          > my high school freshman English class), and Zhuangzi (am I correct
          > in thinking that Zhuangzi is the same person as Chuang-Tzu? I read
          > a book by him long ago, which included the famous story about
          > the man dreaming he was a butterfly). And I'm reading the Bible

          Yeah, both names refer to the same person. The butterfly story is one
          of my favorites. I went to a Christian school for 12 years, so I had
          to study the Bible quite a bit.


          > Are you from Hong Kong, Ram? What do you think about the recent
          > resignation of the Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa?

          Yes, Greg. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. The resignation is a
          very bad sign. Big Brother obviously wants to take care of that tiny
          place.


          > policies to fight poverty and ignorance." makes me think you're
          > considering going into politcs yourself. I think you'd do a good

          If possible, I would love to work for President Obama someday.


          > If I was to make a list of books like that I guess I'd include Henry
          > David Thoreau, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, P.G. Wodehouse, and Terry
          > Pratchett. I have a bad habit of reading many books at once. I keep

          Very fine choices. I wanted to write about Tom Paine's The Age of
          Reason in the paper, but I decided not to because the book is probably
          too anti-Christ. I also wanted to mention Eleanor Roosevelt's last book.


          > The Haymarket Affair by Henry David, A History Of The Middle East by
          > Peter Mansfield, the 9/11 Report from the Commission, Theodore Rex

          I want to read all of them, but probably won't have time until next
          year. Did the federal government get involved in the Haymarket Affair
          at all?

          Ram
        • greg
          I wasn t sure what to make of Tung s resignation. He seems to have been very unpopular in Hong Kong, but I guess it was his policies that made him unpopular
          Message 4 of 15 , Mar 12 9:59 AM
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            I wasn't sure what to make of Tung's resignation. He seems to have
            been very unpopular in Hong Kong, but I guess it was his policies that
            made him unpopular and his successor won't change those policies.

            As far as I know (I haven't finished the book yet of course), the
            government wasn't involved in the Haymarket bombing itself. It
            probably was a real anarchist who threw the bomb, not a government
            agent. But the people who were tried and executed for the bombing were
            probably not involved, and probably didn't even know the bomber.
            That's the impression I've gotten so far from the book. Some of them
            had been for years writing articles urging their fellow anarchists to
            use dynamite against their enemies, but there is of course a
            difference between writing an article like that and actually being
            involved in the crime. And after the bombing happened, the press
            apparently distorted what had happened to make it seem like the
            accused men were definitely guilty.

            There apparently was one Chicago police officer, Captain Michael J.
            Schaack, involved in the investigation that, according to the book,
            "was blessed with boundless energy, an immodest belief in his own
            talents, a flair for the dramatic, and an immoderate appetite for
            fame. Houses were searched upon the slighest suspicion. Bombs were
            discovered all over Chicago. The newspapers published details of
            impossible plots and conspiracies which Schaack, the master-detective,
            had unconvered. Most of the bombs were either non-existent or had been
            planted by the police, and the conspiracies were manifestly the
            product of the heroic captain's imagination. Tales, which at any other
            time would have been laughed down as preposterous, gained credence."

            The Chicago police chief later said, "After we got the anarchist
            societies broken up, Schaack wanted to send out men to organize new
            societies right away. You see what this would do. He wanted to keep
            the thing boiling, keep himself prominent before the public. Well, I
            sat down on that ... and, of course, Schaack didn't like it."
            --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
            >
            > > my high school freshman English class), and Zhuangzi (am I correct
            > > in thinking that Zhuangzi is the same person as Chuang-Tzu? I read
            > > a book by him long ago, which included the famous story about
            > > the man dreaming he was a butterfly). And I'm reading the Bible
            >
            > Yeah, both names refer to the same person. The butterfly story is one
            > of my favorites. I went to a Christian school for 12 years, so I had
            > to study the Bible quite a bit.
            >
            >
            > > Are you from Hong Kong, Ram? What do you think about the recent
            > > resignation of the Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa?
            >
            > Yes, Greg. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. The resignation is a
            > very bad sign. Big Brother obviously wants to take care of that tiny
            > place.
            >
            >
            > > policies to fight poverty and ignorance." makes me think you're
            > > considering going into politcs yourself. I think you'd do a good
            >
            > If possible, I would love to work for President Obama someday.
            >
            >
            > > If I was to make a list of books like that I guess I'd include Henry
            > > David Thoreau, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, P.G. Wodehouse, and Terry
            > > Pratchett. I have a bad habit of reading many books at once. I keep
            >
            > Very fine choices. I wanted to write about Tom Paine's The Age of
            > Reason in the paper, but I decided not to because the book is probably
            > too anti-Christ. I also wanted to mention Eleanor Roosevelt's last
            book.
            >
            >
            > > The Haymarket Affair by Henry David, A History Of The Middle East by
            > > Peter Mansfield, the 9/11 Report from the Commission, Theodore Rex
            >
            > I want to read all of them, but probably won't have time until next
            > year. Did the federal government get involved in the Haymarket Affair
            > at all?
            >
            > Ram
          • tonymaloley
            Wow, you guys read? Damn I m funny. Anyway, nice piece, Ram. I didn t know you were from Hong Kong. Welcome to America, 8 years late. Actually I m not a big
            Message 5 of 15 , Mar 13 12:26 AM
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              Wow, you guys read?

              Damn I'm funny.

              Anyway, nice piece, Ram. I didn't know you were from Hong Kong.
              Welcome to America, 8 years late.

              Actually I'm not a big reader, something happened to my brain when
              the testosterone kicked in, haven't really liked it since I was in
              6th grade. But I've read some...

              What has reminded me lately of Orwell's 1984 is the torture. The
              vivid descriptions in the book made a memorable impression, I guess.
              Listening to the news, I find myself thinking back to how the
              narrator (I think) stated with certainty that when pain is applied,
              they can make you do anything, anything as long as the pain will stop.

              Ram made a good point about the doublethink. It's scary.

              Did anyone else read Orwell's short story about shooting an
              elephant? He once lived in India. I don't know if it had any big
              symbolic value, it's just an interesting story.

              Now that I'm thinking about books, the perverse little society in
              Lord Of The Flies always seemed very plausible to me. People are
              capable of some sick sh**.

              On a lighter note, I loved Kidnapped (Stevenson) when I was 13. I
              guess you guys probably aren't 13. But I want to read it again.

              And what's with Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn and all the 'postr'phes's?

              I might have to check out Al Franken's book. I'm afraid that Thomas
              Paine would read like the constitution, so I want to see if they
              have "Thomas Paine For Dummies." If they do, I'll give it to George
              when I'm finished. -Tony



              --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "greg" <gregcannon1@y...>
              wrote:
              >
              > I wasn't sure what to make of Tung's resignation. He seems to have
              > been very unpopular in Hong Kong, but I guess it was his policies
              that
              > made him unpopular and his successor won't change those policies.
              >
              > As far as I know (I haven't finished the book yet of course), the
              > government wasn't involved in the Haymarket bombing itself. It
              > probably was a real anarchist who threw the bomb, not a government
              > agent. But the people who were tried and executed for the bombing
              were
              > probably not involved, and probably didn't even know the bomber.
              > That's the impression I've gotten so far from the book. Some of them
              > had been for years writing articles urging their fellow anarchists
              to
              > use dynamite against their enemies, but there is of course a
              > difference between writing an article like that and actually being
              > involved in the crime. And after the bombing happened, the press
              > apparently distorted what had happened to make it seem like the
              > accused men were definitely guilty.
              >
              > There apparently was one Chicago police officer, Captain Michael J.
              > Schaack, involved in the investigation that, according to the book,
              > "was blessed with boundless energy, an immodest belief in his own
              > talents, a flair for the dramatic, and an immoderate appetite for
              > fame. Houses were searched upon the slighest suspicion. Bombs were
              > discovered all over Chicago. The newspapers published details of
              > impossible plots and conspiracies which Schaack, the master-
              detective,
              > had unconvered. Most of the bombs were either non-existent or had
              been
              > planted by the police, and the conspiracies were manifestly the
              > product of the heroic captain's imagination. Tales, which at any
              other
              > time would have been laughed down as preposterous, gained credence."
              >
              > The Chicago police chief later said, "After we got the anarchist
              > societies broken up, Schaack wanted to send out men to organize new
              > societies right away. You see what this would do. He wanted to keep
              > the thing boiling, keep himself prominent before the public. Well, I
              > sat down on that ... and, of course, Schaack didn't like it."
              > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...>
              wrote:
              > >
              > > > my high school freshman English class), and Zhuangzi (am I
              correct
              > > > in thinking that Zhuangzi is the same person as Chuang-Tzu? I
              read
              > > > a book by him long ago, which included the famous story about
              > > > the man dreaming he was a butterfly). And I'm reading the Bible
              > >
              > > Yeah, both names refer to the same person. The butterfly story is
              one
              > > of my favorites. I went to a Christian school for 12 years, so I
              had
              > > to study the Bible quite a bit.
              > >
              > >
              > > > Are you from Hong Kong, Ram? What do you think about the recent
              > > > resignation of the Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa?
              > >
              > > Yes, Greg. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. The resignation is
              a
              > > very bad sign. Big Brother obviously wants to take care of that
              tiny
              > > place.
              > >
              > >
              > > > policies to fight poverty and ignorance." makes me think you're
              > > > considering going into politcs yourself. I think you'd do a
              good
              > >
              > > If possible, I would love to work for President Obama someday.
              > >
              > >
              > > > If I was to make a list of books like that I guess I'd include
              Henry
              > > > David Thoreau, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, P.G. Wodehouse, and
              Terry
              > > > Pratchett. I have a bad habit of reading many books at once. I
              keep
              > >
              > > Very fine choices. I wanted to write about Tom Paine's The Age of
              > > Reason in the paper, but I decided not to because the book is
              probably
              > > too anti-Christ. I also wanted to mention Eleanor Roosevelt's last
              > book.
              > >
              > >
              > > > The Haymarket Affair by Henry David, A History Of The Middle
              East by
              > > > Peter Mansfield, the 9/11 Report from the Commission, Theodore
              Rex
              > >
              > > I want to read all of them, but probably won't have time until
              next
              > > year. Did the federal government get involved in the Haymarket
              Affair
              > > at all?
              > >
              > > Ram
            • Ram Lau
              ... Sadly enough, I agree. ... Thanks Tony. Actually it s been just about 5 years. I didn t come until the Gore machine destroyed Bill Bradley and the Bush
              Message 6 of 15 , Mar 13 4:10 PM
              • 0 Attachment
                > Wow, you guys read?
                > Damn I'm funny.

                Sadly enough, I agree.


                > Anyway, nice piece, Ram. I didn't know you were from Hong Kong.
                > Welcome to America, 8 years late.

                Thanks Tony. Actually it's been just about 5 years. I didn't come
                until the Gore machine destroyed Bill Bradley and the Bush machine
                destroyed John McCain.


                > Ram made a good point about the doublethink. It's scary.

                Jon Stewart once jokingly suggested that it's the "political Bible"
                of the Bush adminstration. I'm not surprised.


                > Did anyone else read Orwell's short story about shooting an
                > elephant? He once lived in India. I don't know if it had any big
                > symbolic value, it's just an interesting story.

                I did the same thing that Greg did. Will read it later.


                > Now that I'm thinking about books, the perverse little society in
                > Lord Of The Flies always seemed very plausible to me. People are
                > capable of some sick sh**.

                When I get pessimistic about what the world of the next generation
                will look like, I always think about the 48-9% minority who rejected
                Bush last year. There is always some hope.


                > And what's with Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn and all the 'postr'phes's?

                I was just saying that Tom Sawyer and Robin Hood deserve at least an
                honorable mention. Done. Huck Finn caused some controversy lately,
                by the way.


                > Paine would read like the constitution, so I want to see if they
                > have "Thomas Paine For Dummies." If they do, I'll give it to

                Both Reason and Liars are very easy to read. Sure Reason isn't a
                laugh-out-loud type, but it's definitely one of the most thought-
                provoking masterpieces ever written in human history.

                Ram
              • Jesse Gordon
                ... Symbolic value, a bit, but political value much more. It describes how imperial representatives are limited in their power by being hated by their imperial
                Message 7 of 15 , Mar 13 6:26 PM
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                  --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "tonymaloley" <am7788zz@m...>
                  wrote:
                  > Did anyone else read Orwell's short story about shooting an
                  > elephant? He once lived in India. I don't know if it had any big
                  > symbolic value, it's just an interesting story.

                  Symbolic value, a bit, but political value much more. It describes
                  how imperial representatives are limited in their power by being
                  hated by their imperial subjects. Orwell, as an imperial bureaucrat
                  in a British colony, had to shoot an elephant even though he didn't
                  want to, because the colonials expected him to do it. Orwell explains
                  how the colonials hate their overseers, too.

                  The relevance for today is to replace "Britain" with "America" and
                  replace "imperial" with "military" (or something). America now rules
                  the world like Britain did then, and is equally as hated by
                  our "colonial subjects". The biggest difference is that we don't have
                  any clearly defined empire, like Britain did. Our "colonies" mostly
                  revolve around oil, and our unwilling subjects are those people who
                  happen to live in areas that have the misfortune to supply oil.

                  We use the pretext that "democracy is on the march" and blah blah
                  blah, but that doesn't change that our colonial subjects hate us as
                  much as Britain's subjects hated Orwell. (Britain DID democratize
                  their colonies, and "improve" them in all sorts of other ways, so
                  they could just as well have said that democracy was on the march).
                  That hatred is the single most important basis for al Qaeda's
                  existence, and hence the single largest cause of 9/11.
                • Ram Lau
                  I can t help but wonder what the next superpower will do. Oil will be a lesser issue since we are running out in the whole world anyway. Are we talking about
                  Message 8 of 15 , Mar 15 11:47 AM
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                    I can't help but wonder what the next superpower will do. Oil will be
                    a lesser issue since we are running out in the whole world anyway. Are
                    we talking about outer space yet? It will be interesting to see what
                    kind of role the next hegemony will play.

                    Ram
                  • greg
                    I guess it depends on how long the U.S. remains a superpower. We seem to be declining economically, and eventually we might be overtaken in that regard by
                    Message 9 of 15 , Mar 15 1:45 PM
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                      I guess it depends on how long the U.S. remains a superpower. We seem
                      to be declining economically, and eventually we might be overtaken in
                      that regard by China, India, and the EU. Or maybe not, who knows? Our
                      military is still very large, well-trained, with all the latest
                      technological gadgets and isn't likely to be overtaken by anyone
                      anytime soon, but it now has a problem finding enough recruits.

                      I'm not sure we really are running the world as much as it appears we
                      are, or as much we would like to be. But we are trying, for sure.

                      About outer space- well, I should admit I'm a big Star Trek fan and
                      thus have romantic notions about space exploration. But I imagine in
                      the next century or two colonies will be built on the moon and Mars.
                      To do much more than that would probably require incredible
                      technological advances. Population is growing very fast and some
                      countries are running out of room, so starting a colony on another
                      planet might seem like a good solution. And in the very long run, when
                      the sun dies it'll probably take the Earth with it, so it might be a
                      good idea to colonize other places before then.

                      I remember last year the president of India was suggesting that India
                      and the U.S. build a joint colony, on either the moon or Mars, I
                      forget which. I don't remember if he got a reply. If and when we do
                      start colonizing, will it happen in the same way that the Europeans
                      colonized the Americas? There won't be any natives to fight, but how
                      long before two colonies on the moon are competing for room or for
                      natural resources of some sort, and then start fighting each other? Or
                      rebel against their parent country back on Earth? What do you all think?

                      --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I can't help but wonder what the next superpower will do. Oil will be
                      > a lesser issue since we are running out in the whole world anyway. Are
                      > we talking about outer space yet? It will be interesting to see what
                      > kind of role the next hegemony will play.
                      >
                      > Ram
                    • Ram Lau
                      ... We haven t really found anything useful on the moon... or have we? And which founding father would be most likely to be the one who goes to the moon to pay
                      Message 10 of 15 , Mar 16 3:41 PM
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                        > long before two colonies on the moon are competing for room or for
                        > natural resources of some sort, and then start fighting each other?

                        We haven't really found anything useful on the moon... or have we? And
                        which founding father would be most likely to be the one who goes to
                        the moon to pay a visit? Ben Franklin again?

                        Ram
                      • tonymaloley
                        It is only logical to look at why the crazies want to kill Americans. It hurts a lot of people s feelings to hear this stuff, but Osama didn t just pull our
                        Message 11 of 15 , Mar 16 10:57 PM
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                          It is only logical to look at why the crazies want to kill
                          Americans. It hurts a lot of people's feelings to hear this stuff,
                          but Osama didn't just pull our name out of a hat. The crazies don't
                          want any infidel encroaching on their sovereignty/land/wasteland or
                          their religion or homes or their lives. I hate to admit it, but the
                          bombs that used to blow up civilians in the west bank and in Lebanon
                          not too long ago do really say "made in USA." I criticize bombings,
                          but that reminds me, it has been a while, so I guess I appreciate
                          Israel's progress in the field of diplomacy.

                          On to Lebanon. Does anyone else think it looks a bit strange for the
                          UN or Nato or whoever to all of a sudden consider freedom for Lebanon
                          to be a huge priority? Wasn't it around 1982 that the crazies bombed
                          the marine barracks, and we pulled the hell out of there? Before
                          this year, have you heard any American who wasn't Lebanese indicate
                          that they ever gave a rat's ass about Lebanon, for over 20 years? I
                          guess it's better late than never. I'm skeptical about the
                          gloriousness of Lebanon's new era, though.

                          PS I'm half Lebanese. Maybe I'm a little sensitive to this stuff.
                          All the angry young men that used to throw rocks at soldiers, and get
                          themselves shot, well, I think it means more to an American when the
                          people getting shot year in, year out, look like their cousins,
                          instead of seeing them as just the kind of people who drive the taxis
                          and talk funny with rags on their heads.

                          - Tony


                          --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Jesse Gordon" <jesse@j...>
                          wrote:

                          > We use the pretext that "democracy is on the march" and blah blah
                          > blah, but that doesn't change that our colonial subjects hate us as
                          > much as Britain's subjects hated Orwell. (Britain DID democratize
                          > their colonies, and "improve" them in all sorts of other ways, so
                          > they could just as well have said that democracy was on the march).
                          > That hatred is the single most important basis for al Qaeda's
                          > existence, and hence the single largest cause of 9/11.
                        • greg
                          I remember hearing once there s quite a bit of uranium on the moon, but I don t have a source to back that up, and there doesn t seem to be a great lack of
                          Message 12 of 15 , Mar 17 3:02 PM
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                            I remember hearing once there's quite a bit of uranium on the moon,
                            but I don't have a source to back that up, and there doesn't seem to
                            be a great lack of uranium around here.

                            I can see Ben Franklin enjoying a visit to the moon. He seemed to like
                            to travel and to experience new things.
                            --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
                            >
                            > > long before two colonies on the moon are competing for room or for
                            > > natural resources of some sort, and then start fighting each other?
                            >
                            > We haven't really found anything useful on the moon... or have we? And
                            > which founding father would be most likely to be the one who goes to
                            > the moon to pay a visit? Ben Franklin again?
                            >
                            > Ram
                          • greg
                            Could you fill me in on what exactly was happening in Lebanon in 1982? I was born that year, and wasn t paying very close attention to politics. I suspect that
                            Message 13 of 15 , Mar 17 3:17 PM
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                              Could you fill me in on what exactly was happening in Lebanon in 1982?
                              I was born that year, and wasn't paying very close attention to politics.

                              I suspect that a big reason why so many people, particularly in
                              Washington, seem interested in Lebanon right now is more to do with
                              having a chance to deal a blow against Syria, who they've ticked off
                              at pretty much ever since the official end of the Iraq war. What do
                              you think will happen in Lebanon if the Syrian troops really do
                              withdraw? Will there be a glorious new free Lebanese democracy? Will
                              it return to civil war?
                              --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "tonymaloley" <am7788zz@m...>
                              wrote:
                              >
                              > It is only logical to look at why the crazies want to kill
                              > Americans. It hurts a lot of people's feelings to hear this stuff,
                              > but Osama didn't just pull our name out of a hat. The crazies don't
                              > want any infidel encroaching on their sovereignty/land/wasteland or
                              > their religion or homes or their lives. I hate to admit it, but the
                              > bombs that used to blow up civilians in the west bank and in Lebanon
                              > not too long ago do really say "made in USA." I criticize bombings,
                              > but that reminds me, it has been a while, so I guess I appreciate
                              > Israel's progress in the field of diplomacy.
                              >
                              > On to Lebanon. Does anyone else think it looks a bit strange for the
                              > UN or Nato or whoever to all of a sudden consider freedom for Lebanon
                              > to be a huge priority? Wasn't it around 1982 that the crazies bombed
                              > the marine barracks, and we pulled the hell out of there? Before
                              > this year, have you heard any American who wasn't Lebanese indicate
                              > that they ever gave a rat's ass about Lebanon, for over 20 years? I
                              > guess it's better late than never. I'm skeptical about the
                              > gloriousness of Lebanon's new era, though.
                              >
                              > PS I'm half Lebanese. Maybe I'm a little sensitive to this stuff.
                              > All the angry young men that used to throw rocks at soldiers, and get
                              > themselves shot, well, I think it means more to an American when the
                              > people getting shot year in, year out, look like their cousins,
                              > instead of seeing them as just the kind of people who drive the taxis
                              > and talk funny with rags on their heads.
                              >
                              > - Tony
                              >
                              >
                              > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Jesse Gordon" <jesse@j...>
                              > wrote:
                              >
                              > > We use the pretext that "democracy is on the march" and blah blah
                              > > blah, but that doesn't change that our colonial subjects hate us as
                              > > much as Britain's subjects hated Orwell. (Britain DID democratize
                              > > their colonies, and "improve" them in all sorts of other ways, so
                              > > they could just as well have said that democracy was on the march).
                              > > That hatred is the single most important basis for al Qaeda's
                              > > existence, and hence the single largest cause of 9/11.
                            • tonymaloley
                              This is from a nice site : http://timelines.ws/countries/LEBANON.HTML (I m just trusting them that it s accurate, I was a kid myself!) To sum it up, all hell
                              Message 14 of 15 , Mar 20 8:18 PM
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                                This is from a nice site : http://timelines.ws/countries/LEBANON.HTML
                                (I'm just trusting them that it's accurate, I was a kid myself!)
                                To sum it up, all hell broke loose there for a few decades. Here are
                                a few events concerning US troops.


                                1982 Jul 6, President Ronald Reagan agreed to contribute U.S.
                                troops to the peacekeeping unit in Beirut.
                                (HN, 7/6/98)

                                1982 Aug 20, Some 800 US Marines landed in Beirut, Lebanon, to
                                oversee the withdrawal from Lebanon. In 1983 some 250 Marines and
                                sailors were killed in two different car and truck bombs.
                                (MC, 8/20/02)

                                1983 Apr 18, At the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, 62
                                people, including 17 Americans, were killed by a suicide bomber. In
                                1996 sixteen Islamic militants were ordered to stand trial by a
                                military court in Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh was
                                suspected of involvement.
                                (WSJ, 3/26/96, p.A-1)(AP, 4/18/97)(WSJ, 9/19/01, p.A14)

                                1983 Oct 15, US Marine sharpshooters killed 5 snipers at
                                Beirut Intl. Airport.
                                (MC, 10/15/01)

                                1983 Oct 23, A truck filled with explosives, driven by a
                                Moslem suicide terrorist, crashed into the U.S. Marine barracks near
                                the Beirut International Airport in Lebanon. The bomb killed 241
                                Marines and sailors and injured 80. Almost simultaneously, a similar
                                incident occurred at French military headquarters, where 58 died and
                                15 were injured. Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh was suspected of
                                involvement.
                                (TMC, 1994, p.1983)(USAT, 6/26/96, p.1A)(WSJ, 8/1/96/p.B1)(AP,
                                10/23/97) (HN, 10/23/98)(WSJ, 9/19/01, p.A14)

                                1983 Dec 4, US jet fighters struck Syrian anti-aircraft
                                positions in Lebanon.
                                (MC, 12/4/01)

                                1984 Feb 26, Last US marines in multinational peace-keeping
                                force in Lebanon left Beirut.
                                (SC, 2/26/02)



                                --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "greg" <gregcannon1@y...>
                                wrote:
                                >
                                > Could you fill me in on what exactly was happening in Lebanon in
                                1982?
                                > I was born that year, and wasn't paying very close attention to
                                politics.
                                >
                                > I suspect that a big reason why so many people, particularly in
                                > Washington, seem interested in Lebanon right now is more to do with
                                > having a chance to deal a blow against Syria, who they've ticked off
                                > at pretty much ever since the official end of the Iraq war. What do
                                > you think will happen in Lebanon if the Syrian troops really do
                                > withdraw? Will there be a glorious new free Lebanese democracy? Will
                                > it return to civil war?
                                > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "tonymaloley"
                                <am7788zz@m...>
                                > wrote:
                                > >
                                > > It is only logical to look at why the crazies want to kill
                                > > Americans. It hurts a lot of people's feelings to hear this
                                stuff,
                                > > but Osama didn't just pull our name out of a hat. The crazies
                                don't
                                > > want any infidel encroaching on their sovereignty/land/wasteland
                                or
                                > > their religion or homes or their lives. I hate to admit it, but
                                the
                                > > bombs that used to blow up civilians in the west bank and in
                                Lebanon
                                > > not too long ago do really say "made in USA." I criticize
                                bombings,
                                > > but that reminds me, it has been a while, so I guess I appreciate
                                > > Israel's progress in the field of diplomacy.
                                > >
                                > > On to Lebanon. Does anyone else think it looks a bit strange for
                                the
                                > > UN or Nato or whoever to all of a sudden consider freedom for
                                Lebanon
                                > > to be a huge priority? Wasn't it around 1982 that the crazies
                                bombed
                                > > the marine barracks, and we pulled the hell out of there? Before
                                > > this year, have you heard any American who wasn't Lebanese
                                indicate
                                > > that they ever gave a rat's ass about Lebanon, for over 20
                                years? I
                                > > guess it's better late than never. I'm skeptical about the
                                > > gloriousness of Lebanon's new era, though.
                                > >
                                > > PS I'm half Lebanese. Maybe I'm a little sensitive to this
                                stuff.
                                > > All the angry young men that used to throw rocks at soldiers, and
                                get
                                > > themselves shot, well, I think it means more to an American when
                                the
                                > > people getting shot year in, year out, look like their cousins,
                                > > instead of seeing them as just the kind of people who drive the
                                taxis
                                > > and talk funny with rags on their heads.
                                > >
                                > > - Tony
                                > >
                                > >
                                > > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Jesse Gordon"
                                <jesse@j...>
                                > > wrote:
                                > >
                                > > > We use the pretext that "democracy is on the march" and blah
                                blah
                                > > > blah, but that doesn't change that our colonial subjects hate
                                us as
                                > > > much as Britain's subjects hated Orwell. (Britain DID
                                democratize
                                > > > their colonies, and "improve" them in all sorts of other ways,
                                so
                                > > > they could just as well have said that democracy was on the
                                march).
                                > > > That hatred is the single most important basis for al Qaeda's
                                > > > existence, and hence the single largest cause of 9/11.
                              • greg
                                I read the whole timeline, it was very interesting. It seemed like during the period of Syrian occupation that the number of violent incidents did go down, but
                                Message 15 of 15 , Mar 21 1:48 PM
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  I read the whole timeline, it was very interesting. It seemed like
                                  during the period of Syrian occupation that the number of violent
                                  incidents did go down, but never really stopped. So when and if the
                                  Syrian troops leave, will the level of violence remain about what it's
                                  been the last few years, or will it rise or fall?

                                  Reading this reminded me of something I read a few days ago in that
                                  "History of the Middle East" book. In the late 50s and early 60s,
                                  there were several attempts to unite Egypt and Syria into one country.
                                  After the Baathists took power in Iraq, they also tried to include
                                  Iraq. But none of the attempts worked, apparently because Egypt (ruled
                                  by Nasser at the time) wanted the new country (I think it was to be
                                  called the United Arab Republic) to be ruled from Cairo and dominated
                                  by Egyptians. That might've made sense since their economy was better
                                  and they were a bit more politically stable, but the others didn't
                                  like it. I was very surprised when I read about it, I'd never heard
                                  that had happened. Things probably would be quite a bit different
                                  today if it had worked out.
                                  --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "tonymaloley" <am7788zz@m...>
                                  wrote:
                                  >
                                  > This is from a nice site : http://timelines.ws/countries/LEBANON.HTML
                                  > (I'm just trusting them that it's accurate, I was a kid myself!)
                                  > To sum it up, all hell broke loose there for a few decades. Here are
                                  > a few events concerning US troops.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > 1982 Jul 6, President Ronald Reagan agreed to contribute U.S.
                                  > troops to the peacekeeping unit in Beirut.
                                  > (HN, 7/6/98)
                                  >
                                  > 1982 Aug 20, Some 800 US Marines landed in Beirut, Lebanon, to
                                  > oversee the withdrawal from Lebanon. In 1983 some 250 Marines and
                                  > sailors were killed in two different car and truck bombs.
                                  > (MC, 8/20/02)
                                  >
                                  > 1983 Apr 18, At the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, 62
                                  > people, including 17 Americans, were killed by a suicide bomber. In
                                  > 1996 sixteen Islamic militants were ordered to stand trial by a
                                  > military court in Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh was
                                  > suspected of involvement.
                                  > (WSJ, 3/26/96, p.A-1)(AP, 4/18/97)(WSJ, 9/19/01, p.A14)
                                  >
                                  > 1983 Oct 15, US Marine sharpshooters killed 5 snipers at
                                  > Beirut Intl. Airport.
                                  > (MC, 10/15/01)
                                  >
                                  > 1983 Oct 23, A truck filled with explosives, driven by a
                                  > Moslem suicide terrorist, crashed into the U.S. Marine barracks near
                                  > the Beirut International Airport in Lebanon. The bomb killed 241
                                  > Marines and sailors and injured 80. Almost simultaneously, a similar
                                  > incident occurred at French military headquarters, where 58 died and
                                  > 15 were injured. Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh was suspected of
                                  > involvement.
                                  > (TMC, 1994, p.1983)(USAT, 6/26/96, p.1A)(WSJ, 8/1/96/p.B1)(AP,
                                  > 10/23/97) (HN, 10/23/98)(WSJ, 9/19/01, p.A14)
                                  >
                                  > 1983 Dec 4, US jet fighters struck Syrian anti-aircraft
                                  > positions in Lebanon.
                                  > (MC, 12/4/01)
                                  >
                                  > 1984 Feb 26, Last US marines in multinational peace-keeping
                                  > force in Lebanon left Beirut.
                                  > (SC, 2/26/02)
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "greg" <gregcannon1@y...>
                                  > wrote:
                                  > >
                                  > > Could you fill me in on what exactly was happening in Lebanon in
                                  > 1982?
                                  > > I was born that year, and wasn't paying very close attention to
                                  > politics.
                                  > >
                                  > > I suspect that a big reason why so many people, particularly in
                                  > > Washington, seem interested in Lebanon right now is more to do with
                                  > > having a chance to deal a blow against Syria, who they've ticked off
                                  > > at pretty much ever since the official end of the Iraq war. What do
                                  > > you think will happen in Lebanon if the Syrian troops really do
                                  > > withdraw? Will there be a glorious new free Lebanese democracy? Will
                                  > > it return to civil war?
                                  > > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "tonymaloley"
                                  > <am7788zz@m...>
                                  > > wrote:
                                  > > >
                                  > > > It is only logical to look at why the crazies want to kill
                                  > > > Americans. It hurts a lot of people's feelings to hear this
                                  > stuff,
                                  > > > but Osama didn't just pull our name out of a hat. The crazies
                                  > don't
                                  > > > want any infidel encroaching on their sovereignty/land/wasteland
                                  > or
                                  > > > their religion or homes or their lives. I hate to admit it, but
                                  > the
                                  > > > bombs that used to blow up civilians in the west bank and in
                                  > Lebanon
                                  > > > not too long ago do really say "made in USA." I criticize
                                  > bombings,
                                  > > > but that reminds me, it has been a while, so I guess I appreciate
                                  > > > Israel's progress in the field of diplomacy.
                                  > > >
                                  > > > On to Lebanon. Does anyone else think it looks a bit strange for
                                  > the
                                  > > > UN or Nato or whoever to all of a sudden consider freedom for
                                  > Lebanon
                                  > > > to be a huge priority? Wasn't it around 1982 that the crazies
                                  > bombed
                                  > > > the marine barracks, and we pulled the hell out of there? Before
                                  > > > this year, have you heard any American who wasn't Lebanese
                                  > indicate
                                  > > > that they ever gave a rat's ass about Lebanon, for over 20
                                  > years? I
                                  > > > guess it's better late than never. I'm skeptical about the
                                  > > > gloriousness of Lebanon's new era, though.
                                  > > >
                                  > > > PS I'm half Lebanese. Maybe I'm a little sensitive to this
                                  > stuff.
                                  > > > All the angry young men that used to throw rocks at soldiers, and
                                  > get
                                  > > > themselves shot, well, I think it means more to an American when
                                  > the
                                  > > > people getting shot year in, year out, look like their cousins,
                                  > > > instead of seeing them as just the kind of people who drive the
                                  > taxis
                                  > > > and talk funny with rags on their heads.
                                  > > >
                                  > > > - Tony
                                  > > >
                                  > > >
                                  > > > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Jesse Gordon"
                                  > <jesse@j...>
                                  > > > wrote:
                                  > > >
                                  > > > > We use the pretext that "democracy is on the march" and blah
                                  > blah
                                  > > > > blah, but that doesn't change that our colonial subjects hate
                                  > us as
                                  > > > > much as Britain's subjects hated Orwell. (Britain DID
                                  > democratize
                                  > > > > their colonies, and "improve" them in all sorts of other ways,
                                  > so
                                  > > > > they could just as well have said that democracy was on the
                                  > march).
                                  > > > > That hatred is the single most important basis for al Qaeda's
                                  > > > > existence, and hence the single largest cause of 9/11.
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