Holidays!

I’ll be away for a week for family holidays – going up to Northern Ontario where my father-in-law’s family is.

As I won’t have an internet connection (sorry – secluded lake, last year, we could not even have reliable cell service), I will not be able to moderate comments until after I return.  My apologies.

In the meantime, I have pre-programmed some videos to post while I’m away.

Please enjoy them, or check out some of the excellent blogs in my blogroll!

The kidnapping of teenage girls by Muslims

Of course, not all Muslims will kidnap anyone, much less underage girls.

But, this episode with Boko Haram (or, as their full name is,Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad’ – and they are most definitely Muslims who are following the literal example of their prophet) has stirred up a lot of emotions in me, for reasons that, perhaps, it is time for me to share.

A distant cousin of mine was, just a few short years ago, working for an aid agency in Africa when he and several of his co-workers were kidnapped by Al Shabaab – they were later released under undisclosed terms, but, that is not my story and am not at a liberty to share it.

There is a much older story, which I can share, because it happened to me – personally.

This was my first encounter with Islam – but it was an encounter that had made a very deep impression on me and, as I was already interested in studying the various religions (on the other side of the Iron Curtain, I was only able to study ancient ones) and this encounter started my decades long study of Islam and Sharia…

I know, I know – thou shall not drink and blog is THE golden rule of blogging, but, I admit, I have had to have had a glass or two of wine to get my courage up to write about this….

First, a bit of background….

I went to a language school – 72 kids in a country of 15 million got picked every year to enter, based on a barrage of aptitude tests.  I was not supposed to be permitted to be tested, but, through an administrative error (and a signature forgery on my part – which had never been discovered), I managed to get myself tested.  I tested so high on the aptitude to learn languages that even my dad’s status as an only partially rehabilitated political dissident could not get me excluded, because the linguists on the admissions board insisted.  (I learned about this much, much later when one of my former teachers came to visit me in Canada.)  Suffice it to say – I was admitted to this elite language school where I learned a number of languages.

As part of this school, I was exposed to a lot more ‘foreigners’ than most other schoolchildren behind the Iron Curtain were.

I had ‘pen pals’ in few of the ‘brother socialist countries’ and even though our letters were supervised by the school, their letters (and especially the photos from my pen pal in the Irkutsk) were quite eye-opening.

In addition, when foreign dignitaries from other countries would come, or sports competitors would visit, we would be the schoolchildren paraded out and presented to meet them – as we could communicate in their language (or, in some cases, in Russian – which was the case with, say Cuban visitors, etc.).

For example, the town I was from holds world-famous horse races.  Even Dick Francis mentions having raced there.  When I was about 11, 5 of us girls were sent to officially ‘entertain’ the Cuban delegation to this race….with no adult to ensure our safety.  It was the first time I was kissed by a man….but I got myself and the other girls away before it got out of control!  (Some of the other girls were even jealous that I got kissed and they didn’t…we were so innocent!)

But, school was not the only place where I met ‘foreigners’.

Even though he was a political dissident, my father was also a world-class scientist who specialized in artificial intelligence.  By the time I was in the language school in the late 70’s, he had published a number of ground-breaking books on the subject.  And, even though they had to be published under his bosses’ name (my father’s name was deemed too inflammatory), he was  well known in scientific circles.  As such, he got sent to Moscow a number of times (whenever they stole some Western tech and needed him to reverse-engineer it).  In Moscow, he met other scientists sent there and visiting there from other countries.  He was well liked and respected – he is, after all, a smart cookie!

So, a number of these scientists (mostly from ‘brother nations’) had visited my daddy at our home – and he and I would take them sight seeing.  Sometimes, there would be several scientists, some speaking only English as our common tongue while others speaking only Russian.  As I was perfectly fluent in Russian, I would act as the interpreter for the Russian-speaking scientists while he translated for the English speaking ones.  Again, these were fascinating experiences that greatly broadened my horizons.

Thus, when I was 13 years old and we were in the process of escaping from behind the Iron Curtain, I was much more ‘worldly’ than an average child of my age.

Yet, nothing in my exposure to people from various lands and cultures had prepared me in the least to my encounter with Islam….

So, what happened?

We were escaping from The People’s Socialist Paradise – towards freedom!

My parents exploited some red tape to get visas for all three of us to Yugoslavia:  the one ‘socialist’ country that was not 100% compliant with the Soviet Union’s policy and thus gave some hope of getting out.  Nothing was guaranteed – we could have been caught and our lives ruined, or we could win the lottery and get out.  Our chances were about 70/30 in favour of success – if we avoided Serb-controlled border points (the Serbs were loyal to the Soviets and would send us straight to jail, the Croats would let us out just to spite the Soviets – we knew this and hoped to capitalize on it – excuse the pun!).

In order to get out of Yugoslavia legally – which was our wish, as breaking the laws of the country we fled to (in our case, Austria) would be contrary to the code of lawful behaviour.  After all, if we sought protection from a country, breaking their laws in entering it would have been unthinkable for us!

So, once we entered Yugoslavia (an absolutely awesome holiday place), we went straight to Belgrade to seek visas from the Austrian and German embassies.

Aside:  we had heard that the conditions in Germany were much better for refugees than in Austria, so we sought a visa to go there – but then we heard that the rules for seeking a political asylum required us to file in the first country we entered where we could seek political asylum, and that would have been Austria, so we abandoned the attempt to get German visas (even though they were willing to grant them to us) and decided to seek asylum in Austria.

When we got to Belgrade, we were too poor to stay in a hotel – we stayed instead at a campground just North of the city.  We had two pup-tents:  one for my parents (orange) and one for me (yellow).  It must be made clear that European campsites are nowhere near as private as North American ones – indeed, there is little or no privacy at all as one tent is very close to another, with no trees or bushes in between.

We set up our tents and went to the Austrian and German embassies to seek visas.  Both embassies were only open between 8 am and noon, and there were lineups outside the doors (so we did not get into the German embassy on the first or second day).

The second day of us staying at the campsite, a rich oil sheik with an entourage of several SUVs (armed men) and two air conditioned luxury tour buses (women and children) set up camp in the same campground that we were staying at – just under a steep slope that was too steep to set tents up on, but which formed a natural amphitheater.  In the evening, they started playing very exotic eastern music – and some of the women and girls were dancing.  It did not take long for many of us ‘other campers’ to gather and sit on that slope and watch in utter fascination something so very exotic and tantalizing!  It was beautiful!

It was on our third day waiting outside the German embassy that a shot, plump, smiling, 50-ish man approached my father.  He opened his wallet and pulled out a VERY thick stack of $100US bills – and, speaking broken English/German, he asked my father to sell me to him.

My father flatly refused.

The smiling man would not be rebuffed so easily:  he kept talking to my father, explaining that I was not for him – he wanted to buy me as a birthday present for his son!

Needless to say, my father did not sell me.  Like I said, he is a smart cookie and a good guy to boot!

That evening, at the campground, the sheik’s entourage put on another performance!  And, fascinated, we went to watch…

This evening, the women and girls dancing started inviting the gathered watchers to join in the dancing, teaching both women and men the moves.  Of course, I wanted to join in – but my dad, looking more grim than I ever remembered him, would not let me.

Then an 8-or-so year old girl came around, offering sweets to everyone – again, I was eager to taste it but my dad forbade me to take one.

It was then that he pointed out that down by one of those buses was that guy who had tried to buy me ‘as a birthday present to his son’.  Indeed, that was the very sheik who was the owner of this harem and entourage…and he kept staring at me.

That night, after everyone seemed to go to sleep, my dad poked his head into my tent and said that we were leaving – right now!!!

We packed in a huge rush – not even putting the tents into their cases – and drove out of the campground.  Two dark vehicles from the sheik’s spot followed us.  We drove at relatively high speeds through Belgrade – with the two dark vehicles on our tail.   I don’t know quite how, but, eventually, my dad lost them and we drove far, far away…

Back then, I did not grasp the full significance of what had happened.  Sure, I was frightened – but, well, not enough….I simply had no concept of how serious the situation was or just how drastically my life would have been altered had my father not had the foresight he did.

There is a very, very long tradition of hunting down Slavic girls for Islamic harems…something I was totally unaware of then.

Did you know that the very word ‘slave’ comes form ‘Slav’?

Because so many of us have been hunted down and sold into slavery in Muslim lands?

Way more of us were enslaved in the Muslim lands than there ever were black slaves sold to Europe or the Americas….

Mohammed himself had a Slavic Christian girl, Miriam, as a sex slave – given to him by the fathers of Constantinopole in the hopes it would appease him…

The hijab itself is indeed a variation of the Slavic head-dress – which so enchanted Mohammed that he imposed it on all of his ‘wives’!

After Mohammad’s example (a man ALL Muslims are ordered by the Koran and the Hadith to emulate), it became a ‘fashion’, a status symbol, for pious Muslims of means to own a Slavic Christian sex slave.

As in, Slavic AND Christian girl is the highest value sex slave, but a Christian of any race is acceptable…

And THAT is who Boko Haram consider it acceptable to capture, hold and sell Christian girls into sex-slavery – they are following the example set by Mohammed, which their religion, Islam, demands that they emulate.

I truly and honestly feel for these girls – but for my father’s wisdom, I would have been one of them!!!

 

Freedom School: Political Correctness Panel

January 31st/February 1st 2014,  there was an event in Edmonton called ‘Freedom School:  Essentials of Freedom.’

One of the many excellent parts of the program was a panel on Political Correctness:  a number of speakers addressed Political Correctness in different spheres of our life and from widely differing angles.  The short little speeches were followed by a very lively Q&A.

Perhaps I am jumbling the order of speakers, but, I admit I am a little biased…  So, please forgive me that I present the last speaker first:

Freedom of Speech: still under fire

As Ezra Levant reminds us, freedom of speech is under fire all over the world.  He recently raised the case in Spain, where an ex-Muslim is being threatened with deportation to Pakistan, where he will most certainly face death for blasphemy.

But, it is not only something that happens in the illiberal European Union:  freedom of speech is under fire, right here, in Canada’s capital:

Next week, the 24th, 25th and 26th of March, 2014, Mark and Connie Fournier of the formerly ‘Free Dominion’ (currently ‘Censored-Out-Of-Existence Dominion’), will be back in court, fighting to protect our freedom of speech on the internet.

It is, indeed, the continuation of the ‘Dr. Dawg case’ which had been summarily dismissed in a ruling where the judge was incredulous that Dr. Dawg was willing to admit – in court – to having conducted himself as foolishly as he had.  At least, that is my highly imperfect understanding of that ruling.

Aside:

While I have observed the various legal opponents of the Fourniers’ in court, and have found many of them to lack charisma, I cannot say this of Dr. Dawg.  He may be dead wrong on this issue (in my never-humble-opinion), but, he is a charming guy with a disarming smile.  And, he is always meticulously turned out:  not stuffy, but striking and he takes great pride in his always polished and tidy riding boots. (The ones with the adorable silver trimmings – I’ll be sure to let you know if he wears them in court next week….and they are ‘riding boots’, not ‘cowboy boots’, as I have erroneously reported in the past.  I know, because Dr. Dawg was kind enough to send me the link to them, so that I would make the necessary correction – which, of course, I am more than happy to make.  So, to be sure – they are ‘riding boots’, not ‘cowboy boots’ – and they always look polished and well groomed!)

And, sometimes, Dr. Dawg wears hats – I am very partial to hats!  Did I mention the most awesome steampunk hat my son got over the March break?  Hats get the thumbs-up from me!

Plus, Dr. Dawg had brought a young man (whom I presume to be his step-son) to court to observe some of the non-Dr. Dawg related cases:  this, I truly respect because as a parent myself, I really appreciate the importance of teaching civics lessons to our young people.  So, kudos to him for that – even if I disagree with this particular case of his or his politics in general.  After all, it is our duty to teach our young ones to respect the process – and think for themselves:  the rest is up to them!

But, enough of my ranting…refocusing:

Even though the ruling was for the Fourniers and Peter O’Donnel, a frequent poster at Free Dominion, the court of appeals overturned the summary dismissal.  I am sure there were very sound legal reasons for this, but, to my untrained mind and ‘farmer’s wisdom’ (the best, yet clumsy, translation of my dad’s favourite expression – implying ‘layman’s comprehension’ as my father was not a farmer and not even a gardener (this early pioneer in AI’s outdoor activities during my formative years being exclusively limited to tennis and windsurfing), and thus his comprehension of the ways of farmers and acquisition of any actual ‘farmer’s wisdom’ was quite literally non-existent – I’ve never even seen him mow a lawn…not even once!), it sounded like a bunch of hypothetical judges thought:  “Wow, one of them new-fangled ‘internet cases’ – here’s our one and perhaps only chance to make a ruling that will go into the textbooks – so, let’s prolong it as long as possible, because, after all, we are getting paid to do this:  the poor schmucks in front of us have to pick up the bill!”

OK, perhaps I am overly cynical, but that is what it sounds like to me and my legally untrained mind…

But, regardless of the reasons, the Fourniers will be in an Ottawa court room (Elgin St. Court house, for those wishing to pop by and support either side, or just curious about the ways of our justice system) and, health permitting, I will be there to report on it, to the best of my highly limited abilities!

P.S.  Omar Khadr is not, according to the United Nations own definition, a ‘Child Soldier’ – and anyone who claims otherwise is a snotling fondler and a silly-bunny to boot!!!

Blogging will be light…

Will be in transit for the next 36 or so hours – thus, no internet….my apologies!

The Manning Networking Conference 2014

Yesterday and the day before, I took part in the Manning Networking Conference 2014.

Specifically, I was helping Connie and Mark Fournier from Free Dominion in their booth:

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The t-shirts, golf shirts and sweatshirts were donated by the rock-star of journalism, Mark Steyn, to help the Fourniers raise money for their legal defense fund.  Here he is with the Fourniers and their helper:

steyn4

It was a wonderful, yet somewhat overwhelming, event:  met so many interesting and wonderful people, it’ll take me a while to digest it all.

Manning Networking Conference 2014

If you are planning to attend the Manning Networking Confeence 2014, please, do stop by booth #302 – the booth that was generously donated to Free Dominion:  I’ll be helping out there, so, please, do stop by and say ‘hello’!

In related news:  blogging will be light as I’ll be ‘afk’ and at the conference.

 

The things my hubby says

I think that I have the bestest, most perfectest husband ever possible.

Not only is he incredibly punny, he also says some of the sweetest things ever!

For example, one of his favourite sayings is:

Don’t pet the sweaty things!

OK, so his dyslexia may have something to do with it, but it carries much the same meaning as the original, don’t sweat the petty things, but with a lot more panache!

Another one of his sayings:

Strong like bull – smart like bag of hammers!!!

And, he pays me the sweetest compliments ever!  Just the other day, he told me that I was 3 standard deviations from the mean!!!  What could be sexier than that?

And today, he called me ‘his personal Wikipedia’!

Did I ever mention that Aspie-to-Aspie marriages tend to be the happiest and most long lasting ones?

Rmember, Remember, the 10th of December

Today marks a bittersweet day.

10th of December, 1980, at the age of 13, I arrived in Canada to start my new life!

While in the refugee camp, I did a little bit of looking after some sheep on a hobby farm.  Through an unbelievable  coincidence, the owner of the farm had a son who had the male version of my name – and who was born on the very same day I was (day and year).  SO, he took a bit of a shine to me.  When I told him we got into Canada and would be leaving, he gave me parting gift – some Canadian cash!

Aside: he would occasionally give me presents of Austrian money for looking after his sheep and for helping his octagenarian mother (who was afraid of strangers, especially the emigrants, but seemed to suffer me OK) with whatever she needed – something I was happy to do, presents or not, as it gave me things to do…the boredom of endless waiting to learn your future can be deadly!  From this money, I was able to save up enough to buy winter boots for myself and my parents:  something I was very, very proud of!

The journey was long and tiring – we were collected from the hostels in the foothills of the Alps where emigrant families had been stationed starting shortly after midnight and did not get into the main camp of Traiskirchen, just outside of Vienna, until well into the afternoon.  (No, we were not hungry – we had boxed meals with us, just tired and excited.)

There, we were split up into empty beds in many large rooms of 30-or-so people.  But, the residents whose numbers we were supplementing made it clear that we were disrupting their routine and were not welcome. It was also there that we were told the weight restrictions on our luggage, so we had to get rid of some of the few things we had carefully chosen to bring along to help us tart our new life.  I had to give up the only book I had managed to hold on to till then (by Karl May) – perhaps this explains why now I collect books rather obsessively.

At 5 am or so the next morning, we got up and boarded the buses for the airport.  It was very exciting!  As I knew I had to leave the book behind, and since there were no lights out in my room, and since I was very, very excited, I calmed myself down by re-reading the book during that night.  Well, most of it, anyway.  It was a calming mechanism and saying good by to a book that had gotten me through difficult times in the past.  (I credit this book with having made me so curious about Egyptian culture.)

Once at the airport, we saw the airplane on the tarmac.  It stood there, all by itself, with stairs at the front, middle and back.  When, after a few hours, the doors opened, releasing us emigrants onto the tarmac, people started sprinting towards that airplane!

And I started sprinting towards freedom with the rest of them!!!

I got in and saved 3 seats for me and my parents, we got settled, and that is all I remember of the flight.  I have a vague recollection of my parents talking to some of the other people, but, after 2 nights of not sleeping, now that I was safely away from Europe, I relaxed and fell into a deep sleep.

My dad woke me up as we were descending into Montreal.  Disoriented by irregular sleep and time-zone-change, I had no idea what time of day or night it was – I just saw that it was dark outside.  Once we landed, an announcement went out over the airplane that people who are to go to Toronto or Vancouver were to stay put, and only those going to Montreal and Ottawa are to de-plane.

It turned out that there were two families going to Montreal – and that we were the only family going to Ottawa!  A full 737 – and everyone but our 3 families was going to Toronto or Vancouver.  In retrospect, it was rather nice of them to have stopped in Montreal instead of making us go to Toronto and then backtrack.

Once on the ground, we were no longer emigrants – now we were immigrants!  Oh, what a glorious difference!

At immigration at the Mirabel airport, the two families going to Montreal were me by their immigration officer.  However, nobody knew anything about us.  The kindly lady there offered to call the Ottawa office, and we waited a couple hours for a response.  It turned out that they forgot about us.  They asked if we had any money.  My dad had some German Marks and my mom had some Austrian Shillings, so we said yes.  They told us to use the money to buy a bus ticket to Ottawa and, by the time we got there, someone would be there at the bus station to pick us up.

No problem.

We went to buy the bus ticket – the last bus for the night was leaving in 20 minutes, but they would only accept Canadian currency.

We went to the foreign exchange kiosk to get some Canadian money for the Marks or Shillings, but it was closed.  A security guard told us we could try the one at the other end of the airport.  So, suitcase and carry-on each (we did not know the trollies were OK to use for everyone), we rushed to the other side of the of the airport to get our money exchanged.  That kiosk was also closed…and these were the only two currency exchange kiosks at the airport.

My parents were beginning to panic!!!

This is when I pulled my going-away present out and wondered if it would be enough!  My parents were reluctant to use my money, but saw no other way out.  It was just enough – we only got about $2.00 back in change.

So, off we were to Ottawa!

Everything looked so exotic and strange and, well, ‘wild west’!  The houses did not even have stucco on the outside, exposed bricks showing!  I’d never seen anything so exotic!  In retrospect, it seems to me that some of the other passengers found my excitement, well, amusing…

When we finally pulled into the bus station in downtown Ottawa, it was well past 11 pm.  A guy in a fancy-looking coat and an expensive scarf picked us up in his car, drove us to the Bytown Hotel in downtown Ottawa, booked us in on his personal credit card, gave us breakfast vouchers, and told us to report to the immigration office at 300 Laurier Street the next day.

Thus ended my first day in Canada!

This memory is sweet – but I cannot remember it without noting that 10th of December also marks the death of Aqsa Parvez in 2007.

Here was another young woman who, like I once was, had been filled with promise, with hopes of living the full life of a Canadian woman!  Yet, she had the misfortune to come from a different immigrant background than I.  My parents helped me become a true Canadian.  Hers killed her for daring to try…

Aqsa Parvez – as long as I live, I will mourn you!

Returning to civilization

Finally – internet!!!

It has taken me a while, but I am slowly beginning to catch up on what has been happening in the world over the last week.

And while I did not get to see a live white moose (not albino), even though I was deep in ‘white moose country‘, I did manage to get a shot of the next best thing:

 

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Note – this is not a hunting trophy, as white moose are protected.  This particular unlucky guy died in a train accident.