Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Meet my Daemon, Boreallus



If you haven't read the "His Dark Materials" book by Philip Pullman, run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore and read them. The movie of the first book, "The Golden Compass," comes out this Christmas.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Different Kind of Protest for Burma



Send your undies in protest to the Embassy at:

Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street NW
Washington D.C., 20008

Hattip, Jillan.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

BOO!


Tanna Kohime, Halloween Maze.
Snapshot by Elderta
Hallo! OK, it's been a few weeks, and I missed Halloween, but really, I've had nothing to say, so I've said nothing. Plus, I was preparing to leave my job and I was helleva busy. So now here I am with a teeny teeny tiny update. Plus, the world is as it was two weeks ago: cccrraaazzzzyyyy!

Good news! I got a new J.O.B.! And I cleaned and rearranged my room. Egads, productivity galore! I start tomorrow and I'm very very very happy about this job and that I have a clean, rearranged, room. Woohoo!!

Just a few seconds ago, I saw the first commercial for the film, His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass. If you haven't read this trilogy of books by Philip Pullman, I recommend that you run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore, take a turn in the young adult section, and get these books. I hope the film is as good as the book, but I completely doubt that's going to happen. I'll see them, but I'm sure there are arguments already brewing among geeks and hardcore fans.

I watched Saturday Night Live yesterday, and last night's host, Brian Williams was actually funny in a few places. The Weekend Update was hysterical, and Barack Obama showed up in the opening skit, completely unexpected. All in all, a good "shew," which is saying a lot for any of the SNLs these days.

In less entertainment-related news, I read that there have been small protests in Burma, led by monks and new protests may be led by farmers soon. Nothing large, but they still sprout up and continue. The country is about to sell off a bunch of rubies, which is a bi-yearly mainstay of the economy. Human rights advocates are requesting a boycott of buyers at the sale. Boycotts have a shaky track record, so we'll see if it actually pans out. Unfortunately, it's just been announced that the UN representative, Charles Petrie, has been booted out of Myanmar. He was a little too truthful when his office released a statement regarding Burma's recent protests, which were spurred by a sudden spike in the price of fuel, when he said that these "events clearly demonstrated the everyday struggle to meet basic needs, and the urgent necessity to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country. These are the same messages that the United Nations Country Team in Myanmar has been endeavouring to bring to the Government’s attention for some time."

Good luck with bringing that to their attention. Apparently they have not gotten the message and continue to blame the unrest on "outside foreign operatives." I guess that would be someone like me, but I wouldn't want to think that I had anything to do with people wanting better and more humane conditions in their every day lives. Buddha forbid.

The Congress is still playing around with torture, and my Senator... not Hillary... the other one, Chuck, caved in and, along with Dianne Feinstein, let the new nominee for Attorney General, Michael Mukasey get out of committee, even though he wouldn't firmly call waterboarding torture. Mukasey is a blowhard from the Bronx, and though his nomination was originally touted as a breakthrough in the Justice Department, once he started hemming and hawing about waterboarding, his lights went down in Saneville and his stats shot up in Crazytown. No, I don't have statistics to present to you. Sorry. Of course, Chuck thought him a wonderful candidate and couldn't say no to him after praising him to the high heavens.

Chuck: I'm not voting for you again. Cheers.

I won't even go into all the hissy fits that President Bush has been having on live teevee lately. Really, they are about as juvenile as a president can get without crawling around in a diaper in the Oval Office.

OK, that's about it for me. It's already 11:30, and I have a new job to start tomorrow.

Wish me luck!
And I wish you luck, too!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Just Call Me Paranoid

Why can't I get to this NYT article about Myamnar?
Of course, it's 'probably' a slow Internet connection.
Or it could be the time of the night.
Or maybe some ad waiting to be annoyingly loaded.
Or it could be deliberate.

OK, it's back now.

In this day and age, you have to ask the question.

They Clap for Freedom

From the New York Times

Lives
Through Myanmar Darkly
By CHARLES LONDON
Published: October 21, 2007
By that rainy Saturday, my last day in the country, I couldn’t help but follow the three young monks as they wove through the downtown crowds. I saw another group hop off a bus, sloshing through puddles, also walking intently to Sule Pagoda. I noticed a crowd forming outside the temple. I joined it. Behind me, the police at City Hall unlocked the barbed-wire gate there. They started the engine of a jeep, but no one in the crowd took notice.

Suddenly, 500 monks emerged in rows four across. They carried flags and overturned alms bowls. When the first group stopped and chanted a prayer, some people in the crowd dared to clap. It was timid at first, but as more monks emerged to begin their protest, the clapping grew louder until the whole crowd seemed overcome by it. A Burmese man leaned toward me. “They have never done this before,” he said. “They clap for freedom.” The faces in the crowd were excited, part bliss, part terror.

--Charles London, a former research associate for Refugees International, is the author of “One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War.”
Read More

Thursday, October 18, 2007

LOLCAT Bible

Thus spoke Ceiling Cat:
Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat waz invisible, An he maded the skiez An da Urf, but he no eated it.
Genesis 1:1
LOLCAT Bible
An Internet friend, Not_Over_It, found this amazing new Wiki version of the Bible... in LOLCAT language!

You can find the LOLCAT Bible here, and they are also looking for people to help translate the Bible as well, particularly the New Testament.

If you don't know the LOLCATs, then you don't know what fun you're missing.


Ceiling Cat looks down at his Creation.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Common Word Between Us

Interesting letter written by top Muslim clerics to their Christian counterparts.
Read about it here.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

This is America?

America is amazing; completely head-'explodingly' amazing. With all the crap going on in the world these days, the only thing that people are concerned over is whether Barack Obama wears an American flag lapel pin or not. Unfrickingbelievable. I thought we were America, land of the free; free to be individuals, not pin-wearing automatons.

Why is it that in America the depth of one's patriotism is measured by whether a pin is attached to one's lapel? Can this be any more of a false whine that has ever left the lips of a right-wing operative? Is this really the measure of how much or how little an American can love his country? Is a lapel pin really the measure of a man's soul?

An Internet friend sent me a link to a William Rivers Pitt column at Truth Out, in which Pitt believes he may have developed a touch of the insane from the way that Republicans have successfully warped reality. I would like to tell him that he has not gone insane. The Republicans who are worried about this shit as well as Republicans who still shill for this administration, are the insane one and they have lost their fucking minds. And nothing, and I mean nothing, will bring them back to sanity. Why? Because they do not want to think clearly, they have created their own reality, and yes, it's backwards, opposite land. They are lost in their own need to win, to control, and be part of the "in" crowd of patriotic, hyper-American lapel pin wearers.

I declare that Obama is my candidate. He doesn't have to wear an American flag or yellow ribbon pin to prove to me that he loves his country or supports the troops. It's actions that count, not canned rhetoric. And if anyone needs that symbolism in order for him or her to love their country, it's a hollow, false and dead patriotism that I do not want and do not need.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Burma and the Monks

Click on the picture for a current blog on the Burmese uprising of 2007.

This picture pretty much sums up what I love about Buddhism, particularly Mahayana Buddhism (The Burmese practice Theravada Buddhism but while some things are different, the basics are the same.) These monks are using peaceful prayer and ritual as their protest in the face of their enemies. Several monks (and a Japanese journalist) lost their lives today because of it. In Buddhism, enemies may have guns pointed at you, but a Buddhist sees no enemy, only a being who needs compassion. Buddha has given these monks the strength to become bodhisattavas, humans made divine by suffering for the benefit of all.

It's hard to live up to and takes great patience and an open heart through all obstacles that comes one's way. I certainly hope that these kind monks help free their people and restore the democracy the people of Myanmar voted on but was denied. Good luck, Burma.

All who comprise the great assemblage of Bodhisattvas are equally powerful and equally beneficial to countless beings, so that all things seem to be at their command. Sometimes beautiful lotuses and lotus trees are caused by them to grow from the middle of the ocean, or a teardrop is transformed into an ocean. Everything in nature is at the Bodhisattva's call. Fire can appear as water; water can appear as fire. It is all because of the strength of the Bodhisattva's attitude, the aspiration and action. For us this says that the practice of compassion must be given full consideration, and it must at all times be in our awareness and at all times performed."

~ 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, teaching on Compassion. (Extract of article in I K H newsletter at Ngawang Geleg's site.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Paikea Renee Esme
She looks all sweet and such... but don't let her fool you!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

Today I got an email saying that the Senate was going to vote on a resolution condemning MoveOn.org for wordplaying on Petraeus' last name and replacing it with Betray-Us. I couldn't believe what I was reading, particularly the day AFTER the Senate couldn't pass a bill to mandate equal time on and off the battlefield for soldiers and couldn't muster up the courage to restore habeaus corpus, too.

By a vote of 72-25, with 3 not voting (including Obama and Biden), the Senate condemned an advertisement or, more specifically, they voted to...
...express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces.
It's ok, however, for Republicans to do and say and advertise all sort of things. Here's a nice little list from Paul Begala, of all people:
* In the 2000 South Carolina primary, George W. Bush stood next to a man described as a "fringe" figure - a man who had attacked Bush's own father - at a Bush rally. With Bush applauding him, the man said John McCain "abandoned" veterans. McCain, who was tortured in a North Vietnamese POW camp, was incensed. Five U.S. Senators who fought in Vietnam, including Democrats John Kerry, Max Cleland and Bob Kerrey, condemned the attack and called on Bush to repudiate it. When pressed on it at a debate hosted by CNN's Larry King, Bush meekly muttered that he shouldn't be held responsible for what others say. Even when he's standing next to them at a Bush rally.

* In the 2002 campaign, draft dodger Saxby Chambliss ran an ad with pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, then said Sen. Max Cleland lacked courage. Max Cleland left three limbs in Vietnam as an Army captain. Mr. Bush's political aide, Karl Rove, later refused to disavow the ad, saying, "President Bush and the White House don't write the ads for Senate candidates."

* Also in the 2002 campaign, the PAC for the Family Research Council, a close Bush ally, ran an ad in South Dakota that pictured Sen. Tom Daschle and Saddam Hussein. "What do Saddam Hussein and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle have in common?" the ad asked. Apparently, they both opposed drilling in the Arctic wilderness. First, I had no idea that supporting drilling in the wilderness is a family values issue. Second, I have seen no reporting on the late Iraqi dictator's position on Alaska drilling. But I do know Tom Daschle is an Air Force veteran. Mr. Bush never disavowed the smear.

* But perhaps the worst was what was done to John Kerry. Kerry earned five major medals in combat: the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. And yet supporters of Bush and Cheney decided to smear his war record. The despicable, dishonest Swift Boat attacks alleged that Kerry fabricated reports that earned him the Bronze Star. The Swifties also suggested that Kerry's wounds were insignificant - and that one was even self-inflicted. Kerry's wounds were certainly more serious than Mr. Bush's, who suffered a cut on his finger from popping a beer can while avoiding his duty in the Alabama National Guard. At the 2000 GOP convention, rich, white Republicans were photographed gleefully putting Band-Aids with purple hearts on their chubby cheeks. Mr. Bush refused to condemn the attack - blandly noting he didn't like 527 groups generally - and later nominated one of the men who financed the smear to be Ambassador to Belgium.
This entire episode is unbelievable. It's ok for organizations such as "Gathering of Eagles" to spew all sorts of hateful speech against "moonbats" and "libruls" and the fathers of dead soldiers who say that they were beaten by members of that organization, but say the term "Betray-Us" and the right goes so far as to pass a resolution in the Senate of all places. Give me a freaking break.

God help us all. It's gotten just one more step scarier out here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The End of Times Select

If you haven't heard yet, the New York Times will lay to rest their failed experiment of containing some content, including their Op-ed writers, behind the Times Select subscription firewall. I stole this photograph from Crooks and Liars, but really, it's my sentiments exactlY:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hagel on Petraeus Report

Maher: Isn’t a dirty trick on the American people when you send a military man out there to basically do a political sell-job?”

Hagel: It’s not only a dirty trick, but it’s dishonest, it’s hypocritical, it’s dangerous and irresponsible. The fact is this is not Petraeus’ policy, it’s the Bush’s policy. The military is — certainly very clear in the Constitution — is subservient to the elected public officials of this country.. but to put our military in a position that this administration has put them in is just wrong, and it’s dangerous.”


Kinda puts the Move On ad into a whole new light. The light that Move On wanted to shed before outrage set in over a hard-hitting headline.

Over-the-Top Alert #7,322

I had to chuckle earlier this week when Republicans and Democrats alike went ballistic over MoveOn making a play on General Petreaus' last name in the catching pun, "General Betray Us"

Since Bush came into office there has been a steady stream of invective thrown at "libruls." It's been a verbal slugfest between both parties, actually, and the language is only going to ratchet up as time and Bush's term... uh... moves on. The Move On added fuel to the fire because it's directed at a soldier. Since Vietnam, which had legends and real problems of citizens maligning soldiers, we tend to steer away from harsh verbal criticism of our military.

Whether one agrees with the Move On ad or not, they did present facts to back up their claim. They created a headline (which Randi Rhodes of Air America has claimed began with her) and they ran with it. However, the ad's headline has overshadowed the actual information that they wanted to bring out, and that is quite unfortunate.


Republicans went completely ballistic over Move On's ad, and every Democrat that has been paraded on the teevee lately has had to answer for the ad, usually in the form of adamant disavowals. As I'm writing this, Blitzer is asking Sen. Evan Bayh if Democrats should accept money from Move On now, as Sen. Cornyn says it's abominable for Move On to be accusing Petreaus of treason. Where did treason come from??? As the soldiers in the NYT op-ed said, the political debate in this country is "surreal."

I don't know where all this language is going, but really, I don't think it's going to be a happy, fun, and fluffy place.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The War As We Saw It (The War As It Is)

This New York Times Op-Ed was published on August 19, 2007 and written by seven current duty soldiers serving in Iraq. I'm not sure if many people saw this Op-Ed, but I did. At the time it was being written, one of the soldiers, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Murphy, was shot in the head but recovered. Today, it was reported that two of the sergeants, Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray, were killed as the truck they were riding in fell off of an elevated highway in Western Baghdad into a 30-foot ravine.

I will offer no "thanks for your service." These men did not ask me for that. What they asked of me as an American is to think logically about this war and to change our current course. It saddens me to great end that two of these brave men have lost their lives. First, they were brave for serving, and they were brave for speaking out. My condolences to their families.

Here, whether the NYT cares or not, I post their op-ed because you need to read it.

Op-Ed Contributors
The War as We Saw It
By BUDDHIKA JAYAMAHA, WESLEY D. SMITH, JEREMY ROEBUCK, OMAR MORA, EDWARD SANDMEIER, YANCE T. GRAY and JEREMY A. MURPHY

Baghdad

VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.

Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.

The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.

Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.

Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A 43-Year Old Boom: the Daisy Commercial

If you're over 40 or even the least bit interested in the side show that is American politics, you have either seen or heard of the following political commercial that only ran once:



I was reading the Society of American Archivists listserv today and one of the subscribers posted the CONELRAD ("All Things Atomic: The Golden Age of Homeland Security!") website that has methodically chronicled the history of the political commercial known as "Daisy" but officially named "Peace, Little Girl."

September 7th was the 43rd Anniversary of the airing of the "Daisy" commercial, and it is quite possibly the reason why Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater in 1964. CONELRAD chronicles the making of the political ad with documents, biographies of the admen and others, quotes from those involved, and as an added bonus, there's an interview with "Daisy" herself.

CONELRAD is the acronym (CONtrol of Electronic RADiation) given to the first radio Emergency Broadcast System, which could, at one time, be found between your 640 and 1240 AM frequencies.

By the way, this commercial aired at about the time I first came home from the orphanage. I wonder if my mother watched it with her new baby in her arms? If so, it must have been frightening.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Boogeyman Cometh...

So, I get home tonight and turn on CNN's "Situation Room" and Wolf Blitzer is hyperventilating about a new videotape. Apparently, it's going to be a tape of the boogeyman himself, Osama bin Laden, who hasn't been seen since October 29, 2004.

RUN FOR THE HILLS! HIDE THE CHILDREN! BOMB SOMETHING!

OBL plays us like a teeny, teeny, tiny violin. Maybe it's not going to be bin Laden at all, but some guy in a wig claiming he's from Canada.

Yep, folks, the sixth anniversary of 9/11 is just around the corner, and it's time to wind up the populace with fear and videos again. Are you scared? Are you shaking in your boots? Are you anticipating a loud and deadly boom somewhere?

I hope not. Fear is not a good thing. Let OBL blabber on because goodness knows I've heard a lot of blathering in the last three years of him not appearing in front of the cameras. It can't be any worse than that.

By the way, I wouldn't particularly recommend stunts like the one the Chaser Non-Stop News Network from Australia attempted to pull off during the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC), but I will say, in the spirit of merry pranksters and cognizant dissonance everywhere... Good on ya, mate!

If you don't know the Chaser Non-Stop News Network (CNNNN) or The Chaser as they are now known, then feast your eyes on this video from a few years ago:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

As I noted earlier, I usually treat the summertime as a three-month vacation. Yeah, sure, I go to work and do my work, but mostly, my frame of summer reference has been molded by years of schooling. The summer (except for my three H.S. summers where I went to summer school because there was nothing else better to do), has mostly been for traveling and finding fun things to do in the sun. 2007 was no exception. Except that I didn't do much traveling, but I did have fun!

I didn't do anything spectacular this summer. I would define "spectacular" as some great trip abroad, like my friend Julia's three-week trek to Africa. I did not go to Africa this year. Maybe next year. Who knows?

I usually go to beaches in the summer or friends' summer houses, but after falling out with one friend with a summer house, another friend getting divorced and there no longer being a summer house to go to, and other friends going to their own summer houses with their families, I only went to the beach twice this year. It happened to be a friend's family's year-round "summer" house. It's in Rockaway Beach and is where he grew up. So that makes their summer house a year-round beach paradise! I spent July 4th there and a nice August day as well. I usually stay over July 4th, but this year I had to go back to the Bronx homestead in order to get up the next day and do the one thing I did the most this summer... New York river kayaking!

Now, it might be great to head off to Martha's Vineyard (a real treat) or spend three weeks on safari (a great treat!), but to be able to spend May - October (if the weather holds) on the East River, the Hudson River, Hudson Bay and what not, wow, now there's a summer to remember!

Elderta in a Kayak on the East River in Front of Domino Sugar
Summer 2007
Photo by Elderta

I started kayaking in NYC in late 2006, and Summer 2007 has been my first full season of participating in group kayaking. I haven't gone solo yet, and truth to tell, I'm a little afraid of heading out on my own at this point. There is so much to learn and several times over the summer I did things that only an amateur would do (like getting stuck in an eddy and not turning into it to get out of it). Only time and learning from more experienced kayakers can bring safety and confidence to go out on your own. One of these days, I will!

I did get to travel a little as well. A family reunion on my dad's side of the family took me to Charlotte and Shelby, North Carolina. I had a great time with my aunts, uncles and cousins. It was sad that Dad wasn't there, but my Uncle Charles and I had a great conversation, and we all went to visit their mother and sister's gravesite in Boiling Springs, NC.


Hopper Family Gravesite, Boiling Springs, NC
Photo by Elderta

The gravesite is a little sad. The church that it is attached to seems not to have enough money to maintain the site. There are about 50 graves of various families buried there, and it's dry and parched and pretty desolate. My grandmother Vertie died in 1937 and Aunt Jaunita died in the early 40s at the age of five. A few other relatives are also buried there, too. My aunts and uncles hadn't been to the site in like forever, so they didn't know how bad off it was and vowed to help its upkeep. My mother mentioned to me that Dad wanted to visit his mother before he died, but really, it's probably best he didn't see the graveyard in that condition.

On a happier note, my cousins are I are like the Four Amigos, and we had a heck of time together. I hadn't been to North Carolina in ages, and I'm really happy I went.

My other trip this summer took place over Labor Day weekend. I would love to say that it was a great time, and in many ways, it was... in actuality, everything that could go wrong, went wrong! I was amazed at how things went from bad to worse in a short five days. On the other hand, I had a great time with my mother and friends. I had been thinking about moving to this city, but so many things went wrong that I don't think the great city of Chicago is in my future.


Where's the O? by Elderta

Here's a list of what went wrong in Chicago:
  • I had to go to Chicago for the Society of American Archivists conference and planned on going to either Milwaukee or Detroit to visit my mother for a week after the conference;
  • That didn't happen;
  • The conference hotel where I stayed (the lovely Fairmont Hotel on N. Columbus) had to charge my debit card twice... I didn't have enough money upon arrival to have one debit, so the next day they did a second debit without taking off the first debit;
  • My mother had to leave Milwaukee for Detroit on Friday and took the train to Chicago; she had a four-hour layover at Union Station, so I picked her up and brought to the hotel, thereby missing the ONE conference session I needed to go to;
  • I took her back to Union Station and thought I would die from being crushed by Chicagoans rushing to their trains home (and I thought NYC was bad!);
  • Meanwhile, the hotel took over a $1000 of my cash to hold, leaving me almost broke and not being able to rent the car I had planned to rent for the remainder of my trip;
  • I was so distraught that the hotel offered to fly me to Detroit; I was so distraught that I told them just to fly me back to New York and home;
  • The day I was suppose to leave, I went to a Chase ATM, put my Chase debit card into the ATM... and the ATM promptly ate the card on the Sunday before Labor Day;
  • The flight home was great on JetBlue; JetBlue lost my luggage and I didn't get it back until the day after I arrived in New York;
  • My kitty kitty got sick and I might have to take her to the vet tomorrow.., if the hotel actually puts my money back into my account, that is....

The World is Round by Elderta
Chicago Millennium Park

Other than that... Chicago was great! I visited Navy Pier and rode the Ferris Wheel, got drunk at a bar and threw up in a garbage can from the heat, went to see Second City ETC with some Internet friends (one of whom is the musical director for the show), saw a high school friend, and got to see my mom for a few hours. So, all in all, despite everything that went wrong, it was a great trip nonetheless. Chicago is a fantastic town and though I don't think karmically I could live there, it's always a great place to visit.

I would even daresay that Chicago is more beautiful than New York.... but don't tell anyone I said that.

And that's what I did on my summer vacation which lasted the entire summer. Please note that I haven't mentioned politics in this entire post. While I didn't ignore the wider world burning around me, I did put it on the back burner for a few months. Now, it's time to settle back into reality... and another "school year."

School's In... Goodbye, Summer


Lost Swing by Elderta
Chicago Navy Pier, 2007

After spending roughly 21 years of my life in either kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate (twice) schools, I realize that not only have I spent a little under 1/2 my life in school, but that I'm still on a nine-month schedule of life. That's right, I can only get down to 'real' business on a September - May schedule. What does that mean? It means that I mostly took the summer off from blogging, as you can probably see by the dearth of recent posts.

New York City public schools started today, and not only are those little tykes back to school, but this big tyke is back to the blog. Hopefully I'll post about four times per week... if you (or I) are lucky.

Right now, though, I'm going to go and grab something to eat.

Cheers!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Keeping Up With Li'l G

Brooklyn writer Bruce Kimerer has started a blog called, "The Giuliani Papers." He'll be keeping up with Rudy "Li'l G" Giuliani throughout his campaign for president. Check it out.

Here's a blast from the Giuliani ferret-hating past:

Rudy's Ferret Face-Off

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Operation Chickenhawk: Draft College Republicans

Generation Chickenhawk: the Unauthorized College Republican Convention Tour



Untitled from huffpost and Vimeo.

This is a very interesting look into the minds the minds of College Republican, albeit from a very biased Max Blumenthal. I love the bumper sticker at the end!

Monday, July 16, 2007

There Should Be a Table to Put This On

I keep hearing the phrase, "Impeachment is off the table." I say, whose table is it off of? On my table, you'll find a big heaping pile of double impeachment for the man (Cheney) and his puppet (Bush).

Look, I've been warning people about Bush and Co., since 2004, when I joined Billionaires For Bush. I thought to myself, "hey, self, use humor to help the masses understand what this administration is all about." Bush won. I wept at my computer the day he won the second election. When I say wept, I mean wept. Big honking tears poured down my face in an uncontrollable assault. AT WORK. Eventually, I tried to look on the bright side and tried to continue the humor for the 2006 election, but seriously now, the greater majority of the country is ready to break under the facade of a sneering Chief Executive and the obvious breakdown of a coherent strategy in Iraq.

I truly think the breaking point to a lot of things came on July 2, when Bush, two days before the celebration of the founding of this country, commuted the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. To add insult to injury, last Thursday, while opening up the new White House Press Room, Bush nonchalantly brushed off a question regarding the commutation with this:
First of all, the Scooter Libby decision was, I thought, a fair and balanced decision.

Secondly, I haven't spent a lot of time talking about the testimony that people throughout my administration were forced to give as a result of the special prosecutor. I didn't ask them during that time and I haven't asked them since.

I'm aware of the fact that perhaps somebody in the administration did disclose the name of that person. And, you know, I've often thought about what would have happened had that person come forth and said, "I did it." Would we have had this, you know, endless hours of investigation and a lot of money being spent on this matter?

But it has been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House, and it's run its course, and now we're going to move on.

You may be moving on, Sir, but some of us won't be moving on until you've moved out. Personally, I hope it's before his present term is up.

I have heard people say that we should let the Administration ride on out into the sunset. Well, no. Time and again this President has treated the Constitution like a doormat that's not good enough to wipe his feet on. Consequently, his emboldened assholery has spread to others, who feel as if the Rule of Law is for Thee and Not for Me. This has got to stop. If we let Bush out of office without even so much as a censure, we will have handed the next President a set of Executive Orders and power that the Executive Branch is not entitled to... impeachment must be put back on the table, and soon.

If you don't believe me, then watch and listen to the man who wrote the first article of impeachment against Bill Clinton.

For the love of the Constitution, tell your Representatives, your Senators, your friends, your family, that the honor of the Constitution demands that Bush and Cheney be impeached. It's your country, people. Don't let your leaders lull you into thinking that it's not, don't let your leaders take it away from you either and don't let them make you afraid of your own shadow. Give them one more kit, and they will take the entire kaboodle. Mark my words. Please. I don't want to have to come back in a few years and say, "I told you so."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Disgraceful

I have never been more ashamed and embarrassed at being an American than yesterday, when I came home, and saw a despicable site: a so-called Christian heckling an American Hindu on the floor of the Senate during opening prayer:


First of all, I grew up in a 1/2 Evangelical Christian household. I do not attend church services and barely believe in any type of religion because of it. Second of all, I believe in the Constitution, and I believe that the U.S. may lean toward Christianity because it was the predominant religion at the time of the country's founding, but there is little or no evidence that the Deists that founded this country thought of it as Christian. Thirdly, how dare these "Christians" interrupt this man?

I cannot tolerate such childish displays, such clearly ignorant sentiments, such clear and adamant claims that this country is "Christian." This is America, indivisible, with freedom and liberty FOR ALL.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Go Read This...

... and then Digg It so that others know about it, too!

July 8, 2007 at 19:44:49

Bush justice is a national disgrace

by John S. Koppel

http://www.opednews.com

Digg this story

As a longtime attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.
The public record now plainly demonstrates that both the DOJ and the government as a whole have been thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful. The unconscionable commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence, the misuse of warrantless investigative powers under the Patriot Act and the deplorable treatment of U.S. attorneys all point to an unmistakable pattern of abuse.



MORE at OP-Ed News Link

Originally published in the Denver Post, July 5, 2007.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The 4th of July

Martha's Vineyard, 2004
Photo by Elderta

On this day of America's Independence, I wish everyone a happy holiday.

Even more so, I wish everyone a knock upside their head to get ya'll out of this damned complacency as your country is being stripped from you by a runaway administration.

Mostly, though, I wish you a good 4th of July. With no rain and plenty of BBQ.

Now, go read about the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Rita v. United States. The case sounds eerily familiar to a certain case that was granted a commutation earlier this week. The lowdown: Victor Rita was convicted of perjury, making false statements to federal agents and obstruction of justice (like Libby) and was sentenced to 33 months in Federal jail (Libby was sented to 30 months). Rita thought the sentence excessive (even though the sentence adhered to DOJ guidelines, like Libby's case did as well) and sued. The case made it to the Supreme Court a few weeks ago and the Court ruled that the sentence was not excessive. There are several similarities between this case and defendant and Libby. The catch: Rita, unlike Libby, is no FOB (Friend of Bush).*

From the Times:

Mr. Rita has performed extensive government service, just as Mr. Libby has. Mr. Rita served in the armed forces for more than 25 years, receiving 35 commendations, awards and medals. Like Mr. Libby, Mr. Rita had no criminal history for purposes of the federal sentencing guidelines.

The judges who sentenced the two men increased their sentences by taking account of the crimes about which they lied. Mr. Rita’s perjury concerned what the court called “a possible violation of a machine-gun registration law,” while Mr. Libby’s of a possible violation of a federal law making it a crime to disclose the identities of undercover intelligence agents in some circumstances.

When Mr. Rita argued that his 33-month sentence had failed adequately to consider his history and circumstances, the Justice Department strenuously disagreed.

Remember also, that Bush seems to have made his "excessive" declaration without consulting the Department of Justice. Maybe then someone would have told him that he was directly going against the third branch of government in his "excessive" commutation. Hmm... who am I kidding? Bush listens to no one but the little God voice in his head.

Now, get up off your butt and do something. Tomorrow, of course. Enjoy your Independence today, while you still can!

*addendum: and he wasn't accused of outing a spy, either!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Motherfucker

So, I'm sitting in the emergency room, waiting to get a CAT scan earlier tonight. This past Friday, I banged my head against a concrete wall while wrestling a kayak off the top of a car, and I developed a headache yesterday that hasn't gone away yet, so I decided to get my head checked out in case of internal injury.

The teevee was on in the waiting room, but I was listening to my Saturday podcast of Seder on Sundays with Sam Seder. I'm listening to Sam talking with Atrios and Glenn Greenwald, and my head is pounding, and I'm a little worried that something may be wrong with my brain, when I look up at the teevee and see the headline, "BREAKING: President Bush pardons I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby."

I couldn't help it. Although I had already broken my brain earlier in the weekend, I do believe that the news of Bush's pardon was the straw that cracked the remainder of my brainstem. The word "MOTHERFUCKER," came loudly from my mouth. Several people in the waiting room turned towards me, many of whom had no clue as to why this expletive would fall so vehemently from my mouth. I was quite surprised at the force of my invective, though I don't know why I'm even surprised that Bush commuted Libby's sentence. I should not be surprised by anything that this horrible administration does anymore.

After leaving the hospital tonight, I found out that Bush deemed the verdict "excessive" in the sense that Libby should not have been sentenced to 30 months in prison. (Libby still has to pay a fine and faces two years of probation.) NOTE: it's EXCESSIVE to spend time in jail for committing perjury regarding the outing of a CIA agent, according to the President of the United States of America. NOTE again: no matter what right-wing nuts tell you, Valerie Plame was a covert agent at the time of her outing. And once again, NOTE: the judge who sentenced Libby is a Republican (Judge Walton, appointed by Bush in 2001) and the Court that denied Libby's appeal is composed of at least two Republicans. District Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed by a Republican by the name of James Comey. (Read Fitzgerald's comments on this "excessive" pardon here.)

The Washington Post filed a sickly missive yesterday on how Bush is "besieged and isolated, yet at ease" these days. According to the article, Bush has been gathering people together in private meetings to ponder on his Presidential legacy. Really, President Bush, invite me come on over to one of those meetings, because frankly, this one is easy; your legacy is one of incompetence, thievery, unlawful war, spying, the outing of a CIA operative, environmental disaster, and torture. In a word, you are a motherfucker.

May your legacy follow you where ever you may go.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Oh Woe Is Me

Between Dick Cheney's killing all of the fish in Oregon to today's Supreme Court decision on school integration, all I can think is that we're all doomed. And that's not even taking into account twenty bodies found beheaded along the Tigris River or rumors of rioters being killed in Iran.

Doomed, I tells ya. Doomed.

On top of everything else, kayaking was cancelled tonight due to stormy weather.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What I Did This Past Saturday

The Mermaid Parade at Coney Island!
Photo by Sarah By

Splash Gordon, Whale Ardin and their cohorts battled the evil Ming the MerSEAless for the soul of Coney Island. Only time will tell if Splash won the war!


The Splash Gordon crew consisted of 13 people including Splash himself, Whale, Ming, the invisible Dr. Zarkov, an evil Mershmaid, three evil condo converters, and several cohorts on the side of good!

Photo by Trena B.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Loving v. Virginia: 40 Years Later

Richard and Mildred Loving
From Freedom to Marry

I meant to post about this earlier, but I've been way busy with the Coney Island Mermaid Parade coming up this weekend. June of this year finds us celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the case of Loving v. Virginia, in which a mixed race couple sued for the right to marry in Virginia. The case was decided on June 12, 1967, exactly three years and three months after this miscegenated and thereby illegally born blogger was birthed.

Here's Mildred Loving's statement from June 12, 2007:

Loving for All

By Mildred Loving*

Prepared for Delivery on June 12, 2007,
The 40th Anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia Announcement

When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married.

We didn’t get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there. We did it there because the government wouldn’t allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and build our family. You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who should marry whom.

When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is?

Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the “crime” of marrying the wrong kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed. The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.

We left, and got a lawyer. Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a cause. We were fighting for our love.

Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn’t have to fight alone. Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men,” a “basic civil right.”

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Here's the verdict.
Here's the Wiki.

Here's the place to go to help in the fight for marriage for all: Freedom to Marry. (Though why ANYONE would want to be married is still beyond my perception to understand! ;) )
h/t to the Daily Dish's link through Positive Liberty.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Headlines Change When You Use the Word "Nazi" for Christians

So earlier I was listening to my daily podcast of the Rachel Maddow Show when she mentions the story of Liberty University student, Mark Uhl. You may remember that Uhl alledgedly wanted to set off some bombs at the funeral of Jerry Falwell; he may have been aiming at a group of protestors who were going to stake out the funeral. Well, the planned threat never came about because one of Uhl's relatives called the police on him when he told the relative about the bombs he was making. (Nobody said these would be terrorists were smart.)

Well, Maddow floored me when she reported (unlike any other national news source that I've seen), that Uhl had a cache of Nazi images stored on his computer.

In fact, one of the few news sources that I could find regarding this story is from the Roanoke Times, whose headline on May 31st read, "Prosecutor: Nazi, gang ties to Falwell funeral bomb case." The headline to the now updated story reads, "Liberty student denied bond in explosives case; Mark Uhl told investigators he was going to detonate the bombs in a field and didn't plan to hurt anyone."

So, here's a freshman student at a Christian college who threatened to throw bombs, "not to hurt anyone," and yet he's got a massive amount of material on his computer that would get him thrown into jail for a very long time in Germany. I can only imagine what would have happened if Uhl had been a student at Yale. This story would have been splashed over every television station in America. "Look at those Godless liberal heathen with their bombs and their crazy stuff!" Since it's a nice Christian boy at Falwell's school... almost nothing. Expect this story to fade into the night.

Anyway, the two Roanoke Times stories are basically the same, but here's the bit about the computer images:
Davidson said a search of Uhl's computer found 25,000 stored images, about half of them pornographic. He said there were pictures of Adolf Hitler, photos of young people giving Nazi salutes, a picture of Hitler with a gun in his mouth and the caption "Follow the leader," and another simply captioned "I love Hitler."
Liberty student denied bond in explosives case
Mark Uhl told investigators he was going to detonate the bombs in a field and didn't plan to hurt anyone.
What a nice Christian fellow.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mr. Doggity Blogs...

... and it's about time. Go and visit him and say "Howdy."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

O Rly? Valerie Plame a Covert Agent

"At the time of the initial unauthorized disclosure in the media of Ms. Wilson's employment relationship with the CIA on 14 July 2003, Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States."

So sayeth Exhibit A of the "Unclassified Summary of Valerie Wilson's CIA Employment and Cover History." More at MSNBC.com.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Surviving Cancer

Photos by Jason Schmidt

New York Magazine gets a lot of flack* about its format and seeming lack of content, but as a subscriber, I find the magazine fun and informative (though sometimes the reviews make me wanna gag). One of the reasons I enjoy the magazine is because of articles like the one in this week's issue called, "The Survivor Monologues."

My dad, whose 77th birthday would have occurred earlier this week, died of cancer in August. His battle was pretty short and way painful. The monologues in this week's New York Magazine brought home to me how much he went through in the last five months of his life. The words of the survivors (and one lady moving to a hospice to die) are all in all very moving and encouraging, despite what every one of them faced and continues to face, whether in remission or in the middle of treatment. Godspeed to all of those who appear in this issue, and to everyone who suffers through the agony of cancer.

*who cares whether John McCain spells it with a c or not.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Li'l G for 9/11


What more can really be said about the man? Oh wait, he's nutso.
Even the resident Republican at work said so.

h/t Daily Dish

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cyberwar!

Of all the things that could happen right now, this happens!

From the Guardian UK:
Russia accused of unleashing cyberwar to disable Estonia

· Russia accused of unleashing cyberwar
· Parliament, ministries, banks, media targeted
· Nato experts sent in to strengthen defences


Ian Traynor in Brussels
Thursday May 17, 2007
The Guardian


A three-week wave of massive cyber-attacks on the small Baltic country of Estonia, the first known incidence of such an assault on a state, is causing alarm across the western alliance, with Nato urgently examining the offensive and its implications.

While Russia and Estonia are embroiled in their worst dispute since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a row that erupted at the end of last month over the Estonians' removal of the Bronze Soldier Soviet war memorial in central Tallinn, the country has been subjected to a barrage of cyber warfare, disabling the websites of government ministries, political parties, newspapers, banks, and companies.

[snip]

If it were established that Russia is behind the attacks, it would be the first known case of one state targeting another by cyber-warfare.



Russia opens up an unexpected front. Round and round we go. Where it stops, goodness only knows.

Modern Estonia is known for its cyber network and as a hub of technology for Europe. Having constant "Denial of Service" disruptions would wreck havoc on the economy. The country, traditionally tied to Russia and the Soviet Union as a satellite state, entered the European Union in 2004.

Hopefully the dispute between the two countries will resolve itself without escalation. What's the next step in a cyberwar, I wonder?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell, 1933 - 2007

Jerry Falwell, preacher, founder of the Moral Majority and Liberty University, head of the PTL Club after the fall of Jim Bakker, opposer of the abolishment of aparthied in South Africa, and cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, died today at his office at Liberty University.

I heard Falwell one too many times while growing up. He's one of the prime reasons that I am no longer a somewhat devoted churchgoer. My mother would make me watch him when I was younger. I'm still scarred from the experience of growing up in the Evangelical / Pentacostal Church in America. When I was growing up, I went to an Apostolic church, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, in Detroit, MI. What is the Apostolic Church? Well, take the most rigid teachings of evangelicalism and triple them. That would pretty much sum up the church of my childhood. At least the choir was always good.

It's so sad cause I really wanted to believe in God.

I cannot mourn Falwell's death. As far as I'm concerned, he's one of the forces in the United States that have made us not united, but grabbing for each other's throats. Political power and religion do not mix. I will stay out of your church if you stay out of my life, is my basic premise. Falwell couldn't honor that. He demanded that I attend his church and he insisted on telling me that my life was wrong, perverse, wicked and demented. Let me tell you, I haven't even been kissed since 2001. I'm as chaste as the driven snow. I'm also straight, but happen to believe in gay rights. Oh boy, I'm a baaaadddd girrrlll.

So, while I say to his family and friends that I am sorry for your personal loss, I can say for myself that I cannot mourn him and will not miss him. If you think that is harsh, just remember, it's people like Jerry Falwell who helped me become the person I am today.

On top of it all, Falwell said these words after September 11, 2001 struck the city in which I live and it is these words that forever closed the door to religion for me:
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'" (a sentiment with which Pat Robertson concurred). [29]
I believe it's people like Falwell, who "know" that we are all going to hell and deserve it, who are the real culprits. If God is anything like I was told by the likes of Falwell (and my own mother), I have no need of God. And I have no need need of Jerry Falwell. Though I think I'll keep my mom.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Has a Secret!

What? I'm adopted? Sheesh, that hasn't been a secret since I was 33! No, the secret is: I'm back! And yes, you might not have even known that I was gone!

Anyhoo, a quick update on what's been up:

Last year, I went to Halifax for a conference, Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences (ALHHS). Woohoo. I just got back from that conference again, but this time it took place in lovely Montreal with a short jaunt to Quebec City. I have some pictures of the trip, but haven't arranged them into a comprehensible set of images yet. I'll let you know when I do.

I've fallen completely headz over heelz with the website "I Can Has Cheezburger?," with its great photos of kittehs speaking kitteh. I laughz and laughz! Who can't laugh when they see the 'word' harbls? Hmmm???

As usual, my head explodes with the political scene. But what else is new, eh?

I suffered a bit of a mental hiccup after coming back from Quebec. May 23 is my dad's b-day. It will be the first birthday after his passing, so it's a little difficult. When I got back, I got a call from the cemetery to tell me that his Veterans Administration grave marker finally came in and will be installed as soon as the granite base is delivered. Needless to say, these first events after someone passes are the most difficult. sigh.

Lastly, I quit smoking! Again! Yes, I had been very successful with the laser acupunture for quitting smoking, but after dad died, I started again. Now, I'm trying Chantix by Pfizer and so far, so good.

And speaking of what's new, what's happening with YOU these days? Let me know! Speak with you soon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Godzilla Cats

If there's two things I love, it's Godzilla and cats.

This little video has both!

From the description:
Sirion and Nintochka go at it like Godzilla and Mothra. No, the fights are not coerced and they actually really love each other.

And you know how much I love Godzilla!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mea Culpa

Keith Olbermann called me one of the worst people in the world the other night.

Oh, of course, he didn't tell me personally, but it might as well have been me.

On Monday, Seung-Hui Cho, a 23-year student at Virginia Tech, lost his marbles and killed 32 people. On that day, I was so angry over this shooting, that I asked, "Why don't they just shoot themselves first?" In that post, I knew the person was seriously messed up but frankly, I didn't give a damn about whatever was going on inside him at the moment he snapped. I said:
Maybe he wanted to go down in history because his life wasn't worth it in the first place? Maybe he knew that he wouldn't get out alive or would face the Virginia death penalty? Maybe he just snapped after reportedly shooting his girlfriend in a domestic dispute? Maybe something else horrible happened to him? Maybe he was just a loser who couldn't control himself and wanted to inflict as much pain on others before he took himself out of the equation.
And I was so mad at this guy, that he would do something like that, that I wanted to smack him dead. I also wanted, in my heart of hearts, for some one to rise up and beat the crap out of the dude. I don't think I was actually thinking rationally, but more emotionally, more viscerally. That "someone" I was talking about were the students themselves.

So, in a nutshell, I momentarily agreed with folks like John Derbyshire at the National Review Online.

I had been listening to an April 17th story related by Virginia Tech student, Erin Sheehen. Sheehen was one of only four students who survived Cho's rampage through their German class. They survived by playing dead and after Cho left, they blockaded the door and stopped Cho from returning to the room. It made my blood boil just hearing about what the kids and teachers went through. I applauded them for not letting him back into the room.

Maybe I've seen one too many kung fu or action hero movies. But everything in me screamed, "Just knock that fucker out."

That was complete and utter rage speaking. I was accused at Gothamist of blaming the students for not trying hard enough to stop the asshole with a gun. An asshole with a gun is a powerful thing. I guess I've known too many people to die from gunfire, and how much I hate guns. And people who shoot folks for no good reason. How much sometimes, I wish someone would just "knock the fucker out." Looking back, I realized that I was blaming the victim. I'm sorry.

So, I offer this conversation and this mea culpa. I am one of the worst people in the world.

Special Thanks for Food

And friends!

This past week I was honored by another fabulous meal prepared by David, the husband of my friend, Liz. As usual, the meal was delicious!


Thank you, David!
And Liz, thank you for the other thing...

I am very lucky to have good friends. I am very lucky that I am able to enjoy their company. Particularly when the world goes boom.

Go and visit Liz's "The pith as i see it."

Shrimp with Olive, Plum Tomato and Bell Pepper Assortment on Spinach
with lemongreen viniagrette and shaved parmesan
New York Strip Steak, grilled and lightly sea-salted.