Save Ferris

As some of you know, my friends Alice and Jeff Buehler are about to have a baby. They haven't settled on a name yet, but with your help, they might see there way to name their child Ferris.

Jeff has been living with jokes about his last name since John Hughes' film came out in 1986. But he admits that he sorta likes the name Ferris. Never mind that the character's surname is spelled slightly differently, and never mind that the baby may be a girl.

You can help by pledging to donate funds to the Buehler family, payable in the event they do name the child Ferris. I have no idea how the money would actually be handled; in an escrow account I suppose. Several people I've already spoken to have pledged a hundred dollars or more. Our goal is to reach six figures, U.S. Anyway, please indicate your interest and the amount you could donate in comments below.

It Means Everything.



Dearth dearth dearth. Dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth. Dearth dearth. Dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth. Dearth.

It's not that there's nothing going on. Me, I'm busting my heinie, which is why I'm not posting. But I check my homeboyz on the blogrole (Why are there no women on my blogrole?) and they're slacker than me. Dearth.

Dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth dearth.


This movie Su-XX!

Didn't anyone warn them?

Sukhoi Is the Star of a New Action Flick


If I had a hammer

Is Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross a fascist? Of course not.

On 5 August, The Final Word mused:

As interior minister, Stanislav Gross was often accused of using his traffic and other crackdowns to similar political advantage. As premier, he'll be tempted to take this a step further. Don't be surprised if the number of terrorist threats and siren blasts in Prague increases.

The Final Word doesn't back up it's argument, so allow me. Gross was interior minister -- 'the baby-faced minister of fear' -- when protests against the IMF and World Bank turned violent in September 2000. Gross had praised police for their actions that day (like you do). But reports of violent abuse of protesters by police at detention centers became widespread. In the end, an Interior Ministry investigation found that while abuses had occurred, the perpetrators could not be identified. (I've been looking for a copy of that report; if you see it, holler.) So in the end, no one was held accountable.

Gross was among those initially supporting the Prague connection to the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States. On 18 December 2001, in an article titled 'Iraq link to Sept 11 attack and anthrax is ruled out', the Telegraph noted:

The story of Atta's possible link to Iraq first surfaced in Czech and US newspapers and later appeared to be confirmed by the interior minister, Stanislav Gross. In a briefing to journalists two months ago, Mr Gross said the Czech counter-intelligence service, the BIS, had evidence of a meeting in April this year between Atta and an Iraqi spy, Ahmed al-Ani, who was working as consul at the Prague embassy.

But yesterday Jiri Kolar, the police chief, said there were no documents showing that Atta visited Prague at any time this year, although he had visited twice in 2000.

Atta could have entered the country using false papers, but Mr Gross questioned why Atta would do so when he was not a wanted man. "I don't see any reason for him to visit under a false name," he said. "He was 'legal' when he was in Germany."

(It's interesting to note that Gross' replacement as interior minister, Frantíšek Bublan, said the supposed meeting between Atta and al-Ani was implausible.)

Fast forward to the Madrid train bombings in 11 March 2004, which provoked discussion on an anti-terrorism law in the Czech Republic. Gross was behaving consistently, putting firm emphasis on protecting his country against violence. In principle, that's a very good thing to see in an interior minister.

In his first week in the prime minister's office, Gross had two opportunities to show what he was made of: 1) a grenade attack on a downtown casino, and 2) an open-air dance party. In both cases, Gross reacted with big swinging arm movements. In response to the grenade attack, he wants to shut down the Casino Royal and clamp down on casinos in general. In response to the techno festival, he sends in the riot troops. (Arellanes has been following the CzechTek story closely.)

Abraham Maslow is credited with saying 'When all you own is a hammer, every problem starts looking like a nail.' Gross has demonstrated that he knows how to swing his hammer. Question is, will he learn to use any other tools? Let's hope so, inasmuch as Gross will be handling ethnic minorities and human rights in the new government.


Ježíšmarie ...
Pink Flees Prague After Bomb Blast

Counting the Americans
Reason #421 Why I'm Not a Statistician

Or even a mathematician. I'm so bad at math. (But not as bad as the guy who was making change for me earlier today, but more on that later).

To everyone who's ever heard that there were 30,000 Americans living in Prague back in the day: It's a lie. The number was picked out of thin air, and I know who did it. So just stop.

Anyway, ČTK reports that the ČSU has new stats on the number of (detectable) foreigners living in the Czech Republic.

By the end of March, 249,464 foreigners lived in the Czech Republic, with 82,415 foreigners staying there permanently and the remaining 167,049 with visas for over 90 days stays.


The five largest minorities living in the Czech Republic have not changed since 1996, according to the Czech Statistical Office [or ČSU as it's know to its friends]. "In individual years, only Slovakia and Ukraine alternate at the top, while Vietnam and Poland occupy the third and fourth positions," the statisticians said [in unison, presumably].

So you've got
249,464 foreigners, of which
66,109 are Slovaks,
65,647 are Ukrainians
30,400 are Vietnamese
16,939 are Poles
12,846 are Russians.

So the Russians are the smallest of the largest. (This is ČTK of course, so they might have the story wrong.) But assuming the article and the stats are right, the remaining 57,523 includes people from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, etc, etc, the UK, and the US.

If any other group came close to the Russians, it stands to reason ČSU would note it. But let's assume arbitrarily that the next largest group is 10,000. I think many of us would assume that there are more Americans than there are, say, Belgians -- or Britons, Canadians, or Germans, etc. (If you disagree, I'm all ears.)

So if those 10,000 were Americans, let's get really crazy and divvy up the rest of the 47,000 or so like this: 9,000 Canadians, 8,000 Britons, 7,000 Germans, 6,000 French, 5,000 Belgians, 4,000 Swedes, 3,000 Norse ... people, 2,000 Finns, 1,000 Italians, and 1,000 each from Spain and Portugal. Of course, that can't be right because it doesn't count Africa, Asia or South America.

So while it's virtually impossible for there to be more than 10,000 Americans, that number is probably high. How high? I'm squishing the numbers around, but I think it's highly unlikely that there are more than 8,000 documented US citizens in the Czech Republic.

Read the ČTK story, do your own math and let me know what you think.

Oh yeah -- the guy who was really bad at math: Okay, so I get my hair cut and buy some expensive pomade -- I'm a Dapper Dan man -- and my bill is CZK 760. I tell the dude at the register to make it CZK 800. (How much are you supposed to tip a stylist anyway?) He gives me CZK 350 in change. For extra credit, tell me how long I should have tried to explain his error to him. (In the end, I gave up and just paid CZK 760.)


Just cool out, people

Yes, there was an explosion, but please stop calling it a bomb. You see worse damage -- and more injuries -- on Silvestr.

As the BBC and everyone else is reporting, at least 16 people were injured Sunday afternoon when an unknown assailant threw a hand grenade near (or perhaps at) a casino on Na Prikope. The BBC has footage of the scene shortly after the attack. Everyone notes that the police ruled out terrorism. The Washingon Times' UPI copy, perhaps typically, takes the terrorism bait the furthest:

The Czech Republic is a member of NATO and has a small contingent of troops operating in Iraq. But police officials said they believe it unlikely the attack was related to Middle East events.

The AP's headline is Pedestrians Wounded in Prague Blast while British papers, including the Telegraph, emphasise Britons injured in Prague blast.

The most interesting story comes from Maariv International and points out:

Israel Police officials are estimating that the attack, which targeted a local casino, was an attempt to assassinate Asi Abutbul, who owns a casino chain that operates in the area, and who is considered one of the leading crime figures in the Israeli underground.

Two years ago, unknown gunmen assassinated his father, Felix Abutbul, at the entrance to Casino Royal in Prague.

It's just past 9 p.m. local time. Alex, Scott, Vladan and I stopped by the site of the explosion and watch more than a few people walk past the little hole in the street and point, murmuring 'grenade' in various languages. Other than five or six missing cobblestones (the little ones), you'd scarcely notice anything happened. The casino is still open. The cafes are still serving outside just meters from the ka-boom site. There's one shrapnel ding in the wall of the casino, some flecks taken off a nearby billboard, and one of those J.C. Decaux signs is busted out. I picked up a piece of glass from it.

And this from Ireland On Line: 'Three Irish hurt in Prague bomb blast' (itals mine).