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January 11, 2004 Odds and Ends

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Selected items from the daily weblog (blog) As seen from Just Above Sunset

Why Are The Brits Making Fun of Us?
     Don't they know we need to be careful?



Here's an interesting news item the British press picks off the wire from Massachusetts, from the Greenfield Recorder - which they really shouldn't be reading, I suppose.

See Flight Sim enquiry raises terror alert
Andrew Orlowski, The Register (UK), Posted: 08/01/2004 at 22:39 GMT


A mother's enquiry about buying Microsoft Flight Simulator for her ten-year-old son prompted a night-time visit to her home from a state trooper.

Julie Olearcek, a USAF Reserve pilot made the enquiry at a Staples store in Massachusetts, home to an earlier bout of hysteria, during the Salem witch trials.

So alarmed was the Staples clerk at the prospect of the ten year old learning to fly, that he informed the police, the Greenfield Recorder reports.  The authorities moved into action, leaving nothing to chance.  A few days later, Olearcek was alarmed to discover a state trooper flashing a torch into to her home through a sliding glass door at 8:30 pm on a rainy night.

Olearcek is a regular Staples customer and schools her son at home.  The Staples manager simply explained that staff were obeying advice.  Shortly before Christmas, the FBI issued a terror alert to beware of drivers with maps, or reference books.

At one time it was rare to find US citizens, in the safest and most prosperous country in the world, jumping at their own shadows.  Now we only note how high.


Well, that's pretty snooty.  And kind of funny.

I remember when Microsoft Flight Simulator first came out.  I tried it, and crashed my Cessna 172 repeatedly just trying to get in the air.  Microsoft Flight Simulator has gone through years of upgrades and perhaps it is more functional now.  I'm not sure even now it would aid terrorists.  And one wonders how a ten-year-old young lad would get access to the flight deck of any airliner to put into practice what he mastered on his home computer - but he COULD BE a terrorist.

Yeah right.

These Brits feel all superior because they've been living with the threat of mad Irishmen blowing up a car now and then on a crowded street - and they're getting on just fine.

We feel were different.  We are.

Religious cults, like fringe candidates, are never quite as much fun as you'd imagine.

Lyndon LaRouche, Scientology... whatever.



My neighbor for a time was thinking of supporting Lyndon LaRouche in 2004 and I think I talked her out of it.  I reminded her of his conviction for mail fraud - bilking old folks out of lots of money to finance his political efforts.  And then there is his ranting about how the world is really controlled by a secret group of Jewish bankers and certain members of the British House of Lords, and those evil Rothschild folks.  A nut case.

Still, he is sort of the tenth candidate of all the Democrats running against Bush.  Brian Montopoli has some interesting comments on Lyndon LaRouche.

Here's a bit of it:


I've gone through life dimly aware of Lyndon LaRouche.  I always thought he was some sort of wacko, vaguely cultlike figure, and when I came across his followers on the street, standing behind tables, I tried not to make eye contact, much as one does when confronted by those bright-eyed young men outside the Scientology building.  Yesterday, however, I got a call from a friend at 6:15 telling me, rather breathlessly, to turn on the TV.  LaRouche had bought a half hour on Fox 5 here in DC (preempting The Simpsons, no less), and he was broadcasting a speech he had given in December.  I watched, and my friend was kind enough to take notes.  Here are some of the highlights:

We should earmark at least $6 trillion to rebuild the infrastructure of our cities so that everyone can get to work in less than a half hour.  This will involve magnetic levitation.

The monetary system may crash before the broadcast of the speech is over. (It didn't.)

Hitler was created by bankers.

The medical practice should get lessons from the Norman Wars.

The Democratic Party will "die" if it doesn't recognize LaRouche as a candidate, because in a poll nearly a year ago, an "unknown" Democrat had better odds of beating Bush than any of the established candidates.

That's enough of the bullet points.  Onto LaRouche's presentation: he has this weird stream of consciousness style of speaking in which he jumped from topic to topic without ever really explaining anything.  I believe he said Howard Dean shouldn't even be in this country, but never really mentioned why.  Then he was onto the Peloponnesian Wars or something.  It was at least timeslot appropriate: I felt like I was listening to Grandpa Simpson, only with more historical references.  It was kind of a disappointment, actually, though - I was expecting a little more charisma, perhaps a crazy new laser based mail system or maybe something involving aliens and a secret handshake.  I mean, LaRouche was strange, don't get me wrong.  The magnetic levitation thing was great.  I was just hoping he'd go a little further over the edge.  It's like when I wandered into the Scientology building.  I was a little under the influence, and I thought I'd see what they'd try to do to me - give me a psych test, get me to sign over the rights to my refrigerator, something like that.  Instead, they just gave me a tour and tried to sell me some books.  It was a pretty big letdown.  Where was the indoctrination?  The charismatic recruiter?  Why wasn't I being lowered into a pool of something?  They did invite me to L. Ron Hubbard's birthday the next night, but I decided not to go.  Religious cults, like fringe candidates, are never quite as much fun as you'd imagine.


Well, Claudine didn't got to the Lyndon LaRouche rally in Long Beach, nor did I.  It might have been amusing in an isn't-this-odd way.

But a lot of life out here in Hollywood is like that.  Who needs more?

By the way, if any of you visit, I live quite near the Scientology Celebrity Center, the big complex up on Franklin Avenue, not far from the Magic Castle.  We could visit.  There's another big Scientology center a few blocks east of here right in the middle of Hollywood - the one for the "not famous."   No John Travolta there.  Your choice.  I haven't visited either.