WUI (Writing under the influence)

Somebody once said we are all Americans, sometimes born in the wrong places.
On a warm autumn day in 1986, while enjoying beer with my college buddies,
I decided to join my new homeland.

I've come to appreciate the ideals that helped create this great country.
Liberalism, political-correctness, multiculturalism and moral equivalence
are destroying it.

This old house Grovenet Wal*Mart Visiting Poland American wine better than French.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


My Italian hero

I don't like Italians much. Sure, my wife and her family are from there and are very good people. But I despise anti-Americanism and communism, and Italy is full of both. (OK, I admit I've been a little pissed at Italians lately, after they voted for communists a few weeks ago. That was one of the reasons why I chose to go to Poland to visit my mother instead of meeting her this August at my in-laws'.)

But I'm looking for good in any nation and I always find it (France may be the only exception.) One of my heroes since 9/11/2001 has been Oriana Fallaci whose book "La Rabbia e l'Orgoglio" (The Rage and the Pride) was one of the most important books that shaped my views since 9/11. I read it in Italian even though Oriana translated it into English but as a speaker of a few languages myself I realize that no matter how long you live in one country you always express your deepest thoughts the best in your native language.

There is an interesting article about Oriana in next week's New Yorker. The whole thing is worth reading but there is something Oriana says that hits close to my Polish roots and something I've been long convinced of:

Today, Fallaci believes, the Western world is in danger of being engulfed by radical Islam. Since September 11, 2001, she has written three short, angry books advancing this argument. Two of them, "The Rage and the Pride" and "The Force of Reason," have been translated into idiosyncratic English by Fallaci herself. (She has had difficult relationships with translators in the past.) A third, "The Apocalypse," was recently published in Europe, in a volume that also includes a lengthy self-interview. She writes that Muslim immigration is turning Europe into "a colony of Islam," an abject place that she calls "Eurabia," which will soon "end up with minarets in place of the bell-towers, with the burka in place of the mini-skirt." Fallaci argues that Islam has always had designs on Europe, invoking the siege of Constantinople in the seventh century, and the brutal incursions of the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. She contends that contemporary immigration from Muslim countries to Europe amounts to the same thing--invasion--only this time with "children and boats" instead of "troops and cannons." And, as Fallaci sees it, the "art of invading and conquering and subjugating" is "the only art at which the sons of Allah have always excelled."
Those "brutal incursions of the Ottoman Empire" were stopped by a Polish king Jan Sobieski in the battle of Vienna. Fallaci understands that the war against terror didn't start on 9/11; it started in the seventh century when the religion of Islam was created. It didn't start with Christian Crusades. It started when the idea of the caliphate was conceived. And it will not stop until one side loses.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


It's official: I'm right and French wine is over-rated

I've been boycotting French products since late 2000. One thing that I've never missed is the French wine although I've been tempted more than once by the good reviews of the 2000 Bordeaux. French wine is not bad just as Heineken is not that bad. But I've always thought Italian and American wines offered much better alternative to French wines just as Oregon micro breweries offer much better alternatives to Heineken.

In December 2004, when the French were are their utmost arrogant and I wondered why anybody, especially other Poles, would still entertain the idea of buying any French products I asked this question: Is French wine so good?
Two people left comments on this blog affirming their preferences for the French wine. I knew they were wrong but I couldn't prove it.

Then, a year later I ran across a review of a book that told a story of how in 1976 a blind test of French and American wines produced a very unexpected result. That made me thinking: I may be right -- French wines could be over-rated.

And now, 30 years later, another blind test produced the same shocking results:

Wine competition pits France v US

The US has emerged victorious in a blind tasting by experts in London and California pitting US and French wine against each other.

The contest recreated a tasting 30 years ago in which France was defeated after French experts decided wines from California were better that year.

The result was seen as a blow to French national pride and shocked the country's wine industry.

In recent years, new world wines have overtaken global sales of French wine.

The tasting took place at two locations.

One tasting was in London at the Berry Brothers and Rudd wine shop in St James's Street - one of the UK's oldest wine and spirits merchants.

The US tasting was held at Copia, the US centre for wine, food and the arts, in the Napa Valley, California, a region famous for its wine production.

Nine judges there sampled ten unlabelled glasses of decades-old wines.

The combined scores from both panels gave victory to wines from California's Napa Valley. A 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet from Napa received the highest praise.

"I'm very impressed," said Christian Vanneque, a French judge who was at the original tasting in 1976.

"I don't know if I will be able to go back to France," he added. "After a second time, they will kill me."

On the European side, the contingent was headed by British wine writer Steven Spurrier, who organised the original tasting.

"I expect the outcome to be much friendlier this time," Mr Spurrier said.

"The results last time caught the judges off-guard, and I'm afraid many of them reacted rather badly."

Landmark tasting

Back in 1976, in a contest called Judgment of Paris, nine French experts agreed that the Californian wines they had blind-tasted were better than the French.

It was a result that turned the industry in France on its head as well as being a deep blow to French pride, says the BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Paris.
Until then, it had been taken for granted that US wines were never going to improve on the French.

The rematch included all the original red wines tasted in 1976 to see how they had aged, as well as newer vintages from both nations.

The French wine industry has suffered badly in recent years because of the glut of wine on the world market and strong competition from abroad.

Thousands of hectares of vines in France have been destroyed to deal with over-production, with some Bordeaux wines even being turned back into industrial alcohol.

To add insult to injury, the world's leading wine critic, Robert Parker, is also an American - and a man whose tastes are irrevocably changing the way some French wines are made, our correspondent adds.

I can drink to that. But this time, I will just open a bottle of my absolute favorite. Not because it's any good. But because it reminds me of my early college days back in Poland.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


It's Dixie Chicks vs. Country Fans, but Who's Dissing Whom?

From today's NYT:

But this isn't really a fight about President Bush or freedom of speech. This is a fight about the identity of country music. There's a contract that binds country singers to their fans, and the Dixie Chicks have broken it.


For mistrustful listeners in search of an answer, Ms. Maines's comments provided one. Forget about President Bush: she had used the words "ashamed" and "Texas" in the same sentence, and she had done it on foreign soil. She meant to insult the president, but some former fans thought they heard her insulting Texans, and therefore Southerners, and therefore nonmetropolitan listeners everywhere.

This interpretation may seem specious. And yet Ms. Maines and her band mates seem to be going out of their way to prove their detractors right. Instead of fighting for their old fans, the Dixie Chicks seem to be dismissing them.

On "60 Minutes" Ms. Maguire told Steve Kroft that their concerts weren't typical country concerts. "When I looked out in the audience, I didn't see rednecks," she said. (Did her lip curl slightly as she pronounced the r-word?) "I saw a more progressive crowd."

And in a Time magazine cover story she said the group would rather have "a smaller following of really cool people who get it," as opposed to "people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith." (It would seem Ms. McEntire got her revenge.) Perhaps there's a difference between this attitude and simple snobbery, but you can't blame country fans if they don't much feel like splitting hairs.


But I guess the 1st Amendment should force all those non-progressive rednecks to continue to listen to chicks' music and to keep on spending money in their CDs.


I liked the speech; I don't like the bill

The more I learn about what's included in the Senate (illegal) immigration bill the more I'm turning against it and I pray the House Republicans manage to remove the most abhorrent parts from it. In this post I said I liked Bush's "middle ground" speech. Obviously I was hoping that, even if some compromises had to be made, the people wouldn't be rewarded for breaking the law beyond being able to go to the back of the line and start over.

I simply can't accept in-state tuition for illegal aliens, job protection for guest workers that's superior to that enjoyed by American agricultural workers, taxpayer dollars to radical immigrant-rights groups, and gutted enforcement provisions. I can't accept their participation in the Social Security scheme even thought it could actually contribute to its demise. And then I just want to stick it to Fox for his arrogance. Just to show him that we can, or as he would say it, ¡Sí, Se Puede!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Stick it to the chicks

Some lefties on Grovenet do not understand the meaning of the First Amendment.

In case anyone is interested, today is the day the new Dixie Chicks CD goes on sale.
The new song 'Not Ready to Make Nice' is darn good.
I ordered mine on line right after they appeared on 60 minutes.

If you don't know, they are the singers who had the guts to exercise some free speech rights and criticize Bush on stage shortly after he invaded Iraq.
Some people had a problem with people who actually exercise their free speech rights and started a boycott campaign of their music. Bush supporters who don't understand the concept behind free speech went so far as to issue a fatwa with death threats aimed at the Dixie Chicks. The song 'Not Ready to Make Nice' is a statement that they don't think they need to apologize for having genuine feelings and speaking the truth about them.

As they stick to the principle of making music to express themselves, I say 'Good on ya!'
The reason why I bought the CD is two fold. First it is good music and second because I wanted to make a statement that people shouldn't have to be afraid to express a simple opinion.

Nobody has a problem with people exercising their free speech. This is why the chicks are still free and foaming at the mouth. However, the same amendment that gives the chicks the right to say whatever their empty heads can muster allows the rest of us to ignore them, turn our radios off and stop buying their CDs.

I don't know about death threads. I'm not sure however it's fair to compare a few "Bush supporters" making what amounts to prank calls to people who actually deliver on their promises to behead infidels. Talk about liberal moral equivalence.

In any case, I wonder what the lefties on Grovenet would say about BuyBlue.org that was established just after the 2004 election as a means to "Stop supporting companies that don't support your values. Reward companies that have a triple bottom line..."

The unintended consequence of the Buy Blue website is that us rednecks use it to buy red.

The unintended consequence of the chicks' cowardly criticism of President Bush in front of foreign audiences is that we rednecks went somewhere else to listen to country music. And it's not your Toby Keith country music either. It's in-your-face political country music with attitude.

I have already bought three CDs or what The Right Brothers call the Greedy Capitalist Pig Edition and I'm waiting for another one. BTW, I'm playing the music every day when I take my children to school. Their favorite songs include: Bush Was Right, of course, and others such as the pro-life I Want to Live and Dear Mr. Reagan, a tribute to one of the best US presidents, and The Waffle House, a thank-you to God for not letting Kerry become one of the worst.

UPDATE: NYT sticks it to the chicks.

UPDATE: June 08, 2006 Dixie Chicks tour struggling in several markets

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I may be blind; but they are blind and deaf

This house is just two blocks down from mine. I don't know people living in this house. The only thing I know is that they are professors at the Pacific University.

I also know they live in a parallel universe.

People at Powerline, on the other hand, recognize the reality:

The United Nations' Committee on Torture has called on the United States to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The panel said the U.S. should "cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close this detention facility, permit access by the detainees to the judicial process or release them as soon as possible."

The U.N. also criticized the practice of sending detainees to countries where torture is practiced, even where those countries have given assurances that terrorists will not be mistreated. Which raises a couple of questions: first, if the U.N. is concerned about the U.S. sending terror suspects to countries like Egypt, Jordan, etc., because their human rights record is so bad, what, if anything, has the U.N. tried to do about it? Has the U.N. taken any meaningful action against those countries, or is it only concerned about mistreatment of prisoners when it can be used as an opportunity to bash the United States?

Second, given that a large proportion of the Guantanamo prisoners come from the very countries the U.N. criticizes us for sending prisoners to, how exactly are we supposed to release them? A few weeks ago, there was publicity about a couple of Chinese prisoners at Guantanamo who were determined to be "innocent" in the sense that they had attended al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan for the purpose of carrying out terrorist acts not against the U.S., but against China. The administration would have been happy to release the two men, but for obvious reasons they didn't want to go to China, and we didn't want to admit them to the U.S. The problem was finally solved when a third party agreed to take them.

This problem would be far more substantial if we were to accede to the U.N.'s demand that all of the Middle Eastern prisoners at Guantanamo be released:

Military officials have said that they are trying to release many of the roughly 490 detainees now being held in Guantanamo. They say that the effort has been slowed, however, by the difficulty in arranging for clear assurances that they will not be abused when they are returned to their country of origin — in many cases, Saudi Arabia or Yemen.

The U.N., of course, isn't doing anything to help solve that problem. Once again, one wonders whether this whole issue means anything to the U.N. other than an opportunity to foment anti-Americanism.

How many more disasters, scandals, raped girls and boys will it take for some university professors to understand what a miserable failure and utterly useless organization the U.N. is?

John at Powerline continues:

As the Iranian crisis deepens, is anyone looking to the U.N. for a solution? I hope not.

This would be a much better UN flag to hang from one's porch. It's based on the IMAO's Top 10 U.N. Slogans shirt.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Poles benefit from the immigration debate

My family and friends in Poland have been complaining a lot about their inability to visit the US without first obtaining a US visa. Their complaints became especially bitter after Poland committed some of its troops to the Iraqi campaign. Well, it seems that some in the Senate have finally decided that it is time to give Poles a break and passed an amendment to the immigration bill which would allow Poles to travel to the U.S. without a visa. The amendment has still to be approved by the House but I doubt many representatives will object.

U.S. Senate lifts visa requirement for Poles

Warsaw, Poland May 18, 2006

The U.S. Senate adopted an amendment to the immigration bill which would allow Poles to travel to the U.S. without a visa. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.

If the House approves, Poles will be able to travel to the U.S. for 60 days without a visa. The amendment was put forward by Senators Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland).

The amendment gives preference to countries which are U.S. allies in the "War on Terrorism."

Poland has long been a close ally of the U.S. and there are about 10 million people with Polish roots living in the U.S.


This old garden, day... last

I'm (almost) done with our garden project. I (almost) finished it just before my younger son's first communion so we could entertain a rather big group of guests in our back yard.

Posted by Picasa

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A joke from Grovenet

Well, from time to time, there is something worthwhile even on Grovenet.

A woman walks into a curio shop in San Francisco. Looking around at the exotica, she notices a very life-like, life-sized bronze statue of a rat. It has no price tag, but is so striking she decides she must have it. She takes it to the owner:

"How much for the bronze rat?"

"Twelve dollars for the rat, a hundred dollars for the story," says the owner.

The woman gives the shop-owner twelve dollars. "I'll just take the rat, you can keep the story."

As she walks down the street carrying his bronze rat, she notices that a few real rats have crawled out of alleys and sewers, and begun following her down the street. This is a bit disconcerting, so she begins walking a little faster.

Within a couple blocks, the group of rats behind her grows to over a hundred, and they begin squealing. She starts to trot toward the Bay. She takes a nervous look around and sees that the rats now number in the thousands maybe millions- and they are all squealing and coming toward her faster and faster.

Terrified, she runs to the edge of the Bay, and throws the bronze rat as far out into the Bay as she can.

Amazingly, the millions of rats all jump into the Bay after it, and are all drowned.

The woman walks back to the curio shop. "Ah ha," says the owner, "I'll bet you have come back for the story?"

"No," said the woman, "I came back to see if you have a bronze Democrat."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Poland day 6, May 9: Last meal

My mother, my sister and my aunt took a very good care of me during my short, 7-day stay in Poland. But they missed a few things I really like. So just before I had to leave I decided to go to a small bistro in the old town called Baryłka. There I had my last meal in Poland.

I started with a big, hot, thick bowl of beef tripe. Posted by Picasa
There were many good things I could have followed with next. But I just couldn't resist and had yet another steak tartar. There is something about raw beef and raw egg mixed together. Posted by Picasa

And I completed everything with a mandatory (big) glass of Żywiec. Posted by Picasa
After that last meal, as I drove back to my mother's house I decided to visit a very special place: Politechnika Gdańska or Technical University of Gdańsk.
The main entrance. Posted by Picasa
My department building. Posted by Picasa



I voted today and dropped my ballot personally at one of those white boxes. I oppose the vote by mail and will never vote by giving liberals a chance to steal my ballot. But there was another reason to procrastinate. I wanted to make a principled vote in the Republican primary but wasn't sure how to vote. A while ago I let my subscription to the Forest Grove News Times lapse because the editor, Mr. Schrag refused to cover the illegal immigration issue and how it affected our area. So only today, after my week-long trip to Poland, did I manage to read the online edition of the paper and I found this editorial:
Saxton is GOP's best chance for governorship
Saxton, who came in third behind Kevin Mannix and Jack Roberts in the 2002 Republican primary, displays a refreshing knack for answering most questions with specific positions and proposals, even on complicated matters such as PERS reform, education funding, land-use reform and transportation.

Certainly, he has some imperfections.

His not-so-subtle turn to the right in this primary election - although probably politically necessary within the GOP - is at odds with his history of moderation. And his efforts exploit concerns over undocumented workers have bordered on xenophobia.
Guess how I voted. Hint: I couldn't vote for Mannix for his complete inaptitude as the chair of Oregon Republican Party in general and for his not having fielded any candidate in the Republican primary in 2004 against Mary Gallegos who had betrayed Republican principles by voting to increase our taxes.

BTW, I posted my thoughts on Bush's speech yesterday just after I had heard the speech. I didn't want to be affected by any commentary. But now, after having heard so many critical and skeptical voices -- many of them are justified -- I have more thoughts and I will post them shortly.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Bush's speech

In three words: I liked it.

I know that many purists -- and on principle, I'm a purist too; but I'm also a pragmatist -- I don't think there is anynothing else that can be done. We can't deport 11 million people the same way we can't drop a nuke on Saudi Arabia.

What I liked the most about what Bush outlined in his speech was the fact that everybody who is here illegally can apply for US citizenship by lining up behind everybody else who is applying for US citizenship. I really hope he meant it and I really hope that will be the final outcome. I also hope that we build a fence across the entire southern border. Once built, it will never be torn down. And good fences make good neighbors. Not that I care much about our neighbors to either South or North. One think Bush didn't say was this:
Once you become US citizens don't vote for Democrats for they will bring the socialist hell hole whence you escaped here.
But I will not hold that one against him. My W'04 sticker goes back on the rear of my car.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Poland day 5, May 8: If you only have one day

There are many interesting places to see in Gdansk. It is, after all, a big city. But if I had only one short afternoon and I had to give somebody who has never seen the city a small taste of it, I would take him on the following tour.
  Posted by Picasa Enter through the Golden Gate.
  Posted by Picasa Ratusz
  Posted by PicasaThe most famous symbol of the city: the Neptun's fountain and the Artus' Court.
  Posted by Picasa Exit through the Green Gate.
  Posted by Picasa The Motława river.
  Posted by Picasa Żuraw.
  Posted by Picasa Mariacka, the most beautiful street in Gdansk (in my opinion.) This is where all amber jewelry can be bought (or seen, if you spent all your money on food and drink.)

The view from these dormers must be worth a lot of money. Posted by Picasa
  Posted by Picasa The biggest church in Europe can be seen at the end of the street.
  Posted by Picasa The church is so big and the streets so narrow there is no way to see the whole structure.
  Posted by Picasa This is just a small piece of it.
  Posted by Picasa
  Posted by Picasa
  Posted by Picasa
  Posted by Picasa As big as it is, it always requires some maintenance.
  Posted by Picasa Gdansk was almost completely destroyed at the end of WWII. The restoration continues until today. Even seemingly finished parts need additional care to restore the city to its pre-war state. In this case, the street is given its original cobblestones back.
  Posted by Picasa
  Posted by Picasa Enter Zbrojownia.
  Posted by Picasa Back where we started from: one last look before we leave for another 6 years.


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