Saturday, April 28, 2007

somalia too?

So have you been aware of the intense fighting in Mogadishu this last week, and this last month, with over a thousand killed in April?
Did you know that before a U.S. backed invasion in December 06 (4 months ago!), Somalia was the closest it had been to some sort of security since 1995?

Here's one article. and here's a quote:

On 6 June 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) after a two month long battle against the US-backed ARPCT, the UIC took control of Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Mogadishu's air and seaports were re-opened for the first time since 1995. The UIC expanded its control throughout Somalia and restored peace and security in areas under their control. For the first time since the fall of Siad Barre and the ugly Black Hawk incident in 1993, the people of Somalia were optimistic about Somalia’s future. But the celebrations would be dampened; their dreams and aspirations would be dashed by Washington’s Islam phobic “new strategy for Somalia”, Meles Zenawi’s, Abdulahi Yusuf’s and Ali Mohammed Ghedi’s illicit agendas for Somalia.

to learn more, just search "somalia" on

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who is suffering over the Iraq War--a disconnect

This morning (April 24), Laura Bush told Anne Curry on the Today Show "No one suffers more than the president and I [over the iraq war]"

I honestly feel sorry for her. To have her experience of disconnect so ... publicly exposed must surely, eventually, be rather painful.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Recreating the Old Testament

Another 23 people were killed execution style in Iraq Sunday afternoon.

All Headline News reports:

Iraq was rocked by fresh violence Sunday when gunmen took 23 Kurds from a bus in northern Iraq and shot them execution-style just hours after two suicide car bombers set off explosives near a police station in Baghdad killing 13 people and wounding 82, authorities said.

According to police, the shootings near the northern Iraqi town of Mosul happened after a group of gunmen stopped a bus filled with Christians and members of a tiny Kurdish religious sect. The gunmen then separated the Kurds from the other passengers and took them away to be shot.

The 23 dead were mostly Yazidis, members of a primarily Kurdish sect that worships an angel figure considered to be the devil by some Muslims and Christians, the Associated Press reports. Police said the executions appeared to be in response to the stoning death of a Yazidi woman who had recently converted to Islam.

Now where I have read about a stoning death before ...

Do you care--does it matter to you in slightest, as you buy your coffee and go off to work or school on Monday morning, that 36 people were killed and 82 injured yesterday in a country which the U.S. and Britain illegally invaded and illegally continue to occupy?

Nah--surely not. Never mind. Sorry to be a pain in the arse. Go on now. Don't miss the baseball game this afternoon, whatever you do.

another 22 violent deaths in iraq this weekend

It seems reasonable to me to remember that since Iraq is a nation of 27 million, and the U.S. is a nation of 300 million, as a percentage of population iraq's losses are 10 times bigger than a loss of the same number in the U.S.

How is it that if 22 people had been killed in 4 violent attacks in the U.S. this weekend, it would have been at the top of both national and international headlines, but it did approach the tops of headlines when it happened in iraq?

How is it that 300 million americans are going to sleep in this morning, or get dressed up and go off to church, or do some outdoors acitivity, or go to work, or what have you, and mostly not know or care that in a nation across the world which we have invaded and occupied the violence is completely out of control?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

death: in iraq, in Virginia, and way out of focus?--a british journalist in Kuwait

Wanted to draw your attention to this intriguing article written by British journalist Polly Toynbee today in the Kuwait Times, entitled "We need to focus on last week's deaths in iraq"

A couple quotes:

It was a good week for death. In Iraq, 200 people were blown to bits in what witnesses called "a swimming pool of blood" with "pieces of flesh all over the place". Remember that the dead are only part of the story: add to each of the war's hundreds of thousands of civilian corpses all those burned and crippled survivors, far beyond Iraqi medical facilities' ability to cope, breadwinners and babies lost. Few families are untouched by the sheer scale of slaughter. But it is hard for news media to find new ways to refresh repeat tales of daily carnage. The pictures and the thoughts tell the same dismal story day after day, raising the same terrible questions: what have we, the British, done, what have we unleashed, how can it end?


these 32 dead students follow in a cortege of identical tragedies: as soon as we knew this was just another deranged loner, what more was there to think? It happened in Dunblane, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Tasmania and elsewhere, routine school misfit revenges. The collective insanity of Americans about guns is an oft-reprised wonderment to Europeans. But there is nothing new about the National Rifle Association: even Al Gore in his Inconvenient Truth had to prove he was a regular guy by talking affectionately about his guns. The journalist Lionel Shriver made the best point in the London Guardian this week: why encourage copycats by giving these narcissistic fantasists the publicity they kill for? This boy's glory video means his name liveth for evermore - and a good deal longer than the roll call of fallen US soldiers.


Attitudes to death and mourning grow odder the rarer dying young becomes. There is less sense of proportion about the risks of dying, or about the inevitability of death itself, even when people die in old age. The temptation is to regard every death as avoidable, deny any accident is ever accidental, always find someone to blame, and hunt down that doctor in charge.


People no longer know how to approach death and its rituals. Abandoning religion doesn't necessarily mean resorting to reason. With no hereafter, body parts are gaining morbid significance in a strange new fetishism. The story of secret biopsies taken from dead workers at the UK nuclear plant at Sellafield in the 70s and 80s is interesting and potentially sinister for those who live and work there, since the reports were never published. But defying all sense, the focus of the story for relatives and the media has been on the "shocking" discovery that removal of mostly small slices and some whole organs from corpses means that loved ones buried less than whole bodies.

Read the whole article

Friday, April 20, 2007

basketballs and kitchen implements

This reminded me of the amazingly lovely rythym of the main engines on LOGOS II (320 HP per cylinder, max speed 300 RPM). I remember a friend of mine from Republica Dominicana dancing around the engine room on watch to that rythym.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

racism violence fear and shame

Wikipedia define racism thusly:

Racism is a belief or ideology that all members of each race possess
characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially to distinguish it
either superior or inferior to another race or races. It is also the prejudice
directed against someone of a differet race based on such a belief.

So in the huge media frenzy over the violent deaths of 33 people in Virginia on Monday, I just have one question: Does it not prove we are racist?

What do I mean? Well, Tuesday, another 58 people were killed or found dead in Iraq, in violence which sans doute is related to the ongoing U.S. occupation and U.S. instigated four year old war.

So does the average American consider the violent deaths of Iraqi people less important, less cause for, as the Seattle Post Intelligencer put it today "Rage and Grief" than the violent deaths of American people? It seems fairly obvious to me that they do. Based on proportion of national population, Iraq's loss on Tuesday is 1700% bigger than America's loss on Monday.

In fact, I bet the average American is more disturbed emotionally, yesterday and today, about the violent death of 33 VT students than they are or ever have been about the deaths of 800,000 people in Iraq under U.S. invasion and occupation.

So does that make us racist?

Roy Barnsness pointed out the other night that we all, each and every one of us, have fear and shame, and that we must, in one way or another, live with the horror of the fact that we are constantly in both roles: victim, and perpetrator. How can we end the passive and active violence which we experience and perpetrate, perpetrate and experience? Can we choose to examine our fear and shame and ... de escalate the level this violence?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

havoc and coulds/shoulds

One of my favorite people, whom shall rename nameless since I don't have their permission to quote, recently said to me in an email:

Perhaps you are right that we have the potential to wreak havoc on the rest of the world--but we haven't. Not even in nations we could/should have.
This intrigued me. So I tracked down this partial list of U.S. military interventions from 1890 to 2007.

Total countries since 1990?: 20! The list includes: Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Haiti, Liberia, Columbia, Philippines Afghanistan, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Zaire (Congo), Bosnia, Albania, Sudan, Somalia, Kuwait, the U.S., Angola, and Saudi Arabia.

Push it back to 1980 and you can throw in Panama, Libya, Iran, Bolivia, Honduras, Grenada, Lebanon, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

Quick--How many of these countries can you even place on their correct continent? Name their language?

Maybe we can amend the constitution so that A. To be elected president, you have to fluent in at least 3 languages, as determined by an objective panel of Ph.D.'s in those languages. and B. Before a president can authorize bombing any country or people group, he has to be at least ... conversant in their primary language, again as determined by an objective group of Ph.D.'s in that language.

Did you/do you have an idea about/knowledge of most of these "military interventions"? 50% of them? 20% of them? What is your reaction to this list? I was really surprised. I, (bleeding heart liberal antiwar peace loving freakazoid hippie that I am) had no idea about a lot of these.

By the way, what exactly would constitute a story where we "could/should have wreaked havoc on a nation?", IYNSHO?

(Further by the way, for a story where we *definitely did* wreak havoc when we could but shouldn't have, just google "secret war in Laos", and spend 20 minutes reading about this still "least developed country"

The list of countries above does *not* include:

  • mobilizations of the National Guard
  • offshore shows of naval strength
  • reinforcements of embassy personnel
  • the use of non-Defense Department personnel (such as the Drug Enforcement Administration)
  • military exercises
  • non-combat mobilizations (such as replacing postal strikers)
  • the permanent stationing of armed forces
  • covert actions where the U.S. did not play a command and control role
  • the use of small hostage rescue units
  • most uses of proxy troops
  • U.S. piloting of foreign warplanes
  • foreign or domestic disaster assistance
  • military training and advisory programs not involving direct combat
  • civic action programs
  • and many other military activities.

Dan on reality

HT to Byron for this. Stolen from Dan. Read the whole post here on his blog

There was a time when I thought [...] that we could truly contribute and leave a mark on the world. But [...] I have only found that the world has marked me. Instead of bringing wholeness to others, I have found that the brokenness of others has become a part of me. Instead of bringing help, I have received helplessness. Instead of bringing comfort, I have received sorrow. Instead of being a light and a guide, I have found myself plunged into darkness. Instead of being an agent of salvation, I have found myself a member of the damned.

This is the hopelessness that I want my Christian brothers and sisters to be confronted with. Indeed, it is only after we have been confronted with the reality of this hopelessness that we can begin to understand the true nature of Christian hope. This hope speaks of a peasant who died abandoned and hopeless, marked by the world's whips, and thorns, and nails. And this hope continues to lead me into places where the world will, inevitably, mark me.
Dan (On Jounreying with those in Exile): always provocative, insightful, well-read and earnest. Check it out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

too busy for beauty?

Saw this fascinating article today. What would happen if one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made were to stand and play during Friday morning rush hour at a busy washington d.c. metro station? What if he put his violin case out for tips, and threw in a few dollars to start with as seed money? Would people stop and listen? Would he make any money? As it turns out, during 45 minutes of solo performance, only 7 of the 1077 people who passed by even stopped for a moment, and 27 gave money, many of them without pausing, for a total of $32 and some change.

I'm *so* one of the 1070 most of the time. Note to self: Must work on this.

HT to El Nellis

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday video

For Megsie

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

the loneliness of technology?

Dick Staub and a panel of bloggers recently discussed the following fascinating question on their live radio show: Can The Inklings face-to-face pub experience be replaced with online interaction?

Various intriguing aspects related to this question arose. One that caught my attention was this: Does online interaction increase our (western, 1st world) isolation from community, from *real* others? Or does it decrease that aloneness?

Apparently there is an already large and growing body of research (for instance, check out this search on google scholar) on what is termed "computer mediated community" or CMC. Wikipedia has an interesting overview as well

"Michael Keren, who has written Blogosphere: The New Political Arena, suggests individuals who bare their souls in blogs are isolated and lonely, living in a virtual reality instead of forming real relationships or helping to change the world." (from this provocative article).

I remember Mother Teresa talking about how while the third world has a poverty of basic stuff like food/water, the 1st world has a poverty of community. In blogging about how to MTWABP, are we somehow exacerbating our separation from each other, and our separation from those in least developed countries (for whom internet access is fairly far down the list of "things we don't have which we'd like to get")?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Kat and Jim's wedding! Hooray!!

For those who don't know, my awesome sister Kat and her totally kewl husband Jim got married last Saturday, April 1. HT to Megan who took most of these photos.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

beauty pageants

Do you think beauty pageants propogate evil cultural norms?

quote for the day

Digressions, objections, delight in mockery, carefree mistrust are signs of health; everything unconditional belongs in pathology.

--Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Friday Video

Somehow, these just don't get old for me.

What's up with that whole "spilling seed" thing anyway?

What are ...

The Catholic League has called the (now cancelled) display of a 6 foot tall, naked Jesus made entirely of chocolate an "attack on Christian sensibilities"

What exactly *are* "Christian sensibilities"? Did Jesus have them?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

chocolate Jesus?

This past Monday a gallery in New York City (where else?) cancelled the exhibition of a 6 foot tall, anatomically correct, naked sculpture of Jesus make entirely of chocolate entitled "My sweet lord". They cancelled it due to outcry/protest/pressure from ... people who thought it outrageous, including Cardinal Egan of New York, who called the display "sickening" and "scandalous" The creative director of the gallery resigned over the cancellation, and apparently offers are "pouring in" to host the exhibition elsewhere. I think it would probably have generated a lot less foofoorah in Seattle.
Do you agree with Cardinal Egan? why or why not? What is your reaction? Do you think there would be more or less foofoorah over such a work of art in other western nations?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

My sister's getting married!

Generally speaking I hate weddings. In fact, the only weddings I've attended and not hated have been my own and a couple weddings performed by Dave Sellers.

Why do I hate them? I guess I'm just shocking awful at compartmentalizing, at least in one particular way. If something amazingly good and beautiful and delightful is happening, I tend to see it in the light of it's future death. Yes, all things die, and entropy grinds on, and I find it hardest to forget this when most other people find it easiest. I'm wierd that way--it's part of my makeup, somehow.

So I'm supposed to say something at my sis's reception today, and I have no idea what. ... Certainly not the above. It will come to me.