Monday, March 31, 2008

Hillary definitely lied.

Earlier I said "Did she lie?". Then I said "Maybe she lied." Now Christopher Hitchens has convinced me. She lied.

So here's my question: Hitchens says in his article that Bill lied too, and not about Lewinksy, but about helping in Bosnia. And 250,000 people died.

So if Reagan ran operations in Central America that led to the deaths of more than a million.

And Clinton lied to the Bosnians and thus took some credit for 250,000 deaths.

And W lied to everyone leading to the deaths of a million in Iraq.

What did GHW Bush (Bush senior) do?

What about Carter?

And what will McCain, Hillary, or Obama do?

(see my lovely pleasant happy way of looking at the world?)


This guy is coming to speak at my beautiful mother's church. He calls Islam "worse than a cancer" which is triply distressing for me both because my mother is *dying* of cancer, and today I saw Mike Weeks, who the principal of the christian school I grew up in, and then of the homeschooling cooperative I did high school in.

I went to see Mike Weeks, who I basically haven't talked to in 7 years, because I heard that he was dying of cancer and probably would die within a couple weeks, and I wanted to ... clear the air with him, in a sense--you know, ask him if there was anything I might be able to apologize for, and tell him thank you for all the hard work he put into my education. But when I went to see him today, He was in no shape to talk--he didn't even recognize me, I don't think--he was on a lot of pain drugs. I remember him as a strong leader, and today he was so very old, and weak, and he's only 50ish, I think.

So I didn't get to talk with him.

At least my lovely mom is still able to eat. The doctor said probably eventually the ovarian cancer would block her GI tract again and make her unable to eat.

Anyway, I wish I had half the hope that it takes to be either a Muslim or a Christian. I've only known two Muslims in my life, and they were both delightful people. There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. They make up 22% of the population of the planet. Christians make up another 33%. And this Usama fellow is spreading lies and hatred between the two groups.

But the calling Islam a cancer just really got me today. Starting crying writing this. My beautiful mother is planning to go to this class at her church in a couple weeks--three evenings under the tutelage of this Usama. Very very distressing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Today I am grateful for

Lily Hamourtziadou, who manages to keep Iraq more real than anyone on the net.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ok, maybe she did lie--the digital cultural divide.

I loved the bolded phrase in this sentence: "That Mrs. Clinton’s campaign kept insisting her Bosnia tale was the truth two days after The Post exposed it as utter fiction also shows the political perils of 20th-century analog arrogance in a digital age."

Frank Rich's article touches on a highly fascinating fact. Obama, who is 46, is light years ahead of both Clinton and McCain in his use of the internet, and specifically web 2.0. Obama is raising more money on line, getting his information out better online, etc. etc. etc. Some smallish examples:

Obama's youtube channel has accumulated 13.2 million views
has accumulated 1.4 million views.

Obama's youtube channel, and all the videos associated with it, have a very kewl, very gnarley, very useful little google checkout window embedded where you can donate money to the candidate. I think these are fairly new. I started noticing them 8 days ago, on march 21.
Hillary's youtube channel *doesn't* have them. Even though she's had at least 8 days to copy Obama on it.

Obama's speech on race, some 37 minutes long, has been viewed in it's entirety 3.6 million times since he gave it less than two weeks ago. That means ~1% of Americans have seen not just snippets or sound bites, but a full exposure to his thoughts/ideas on the subject. Think about -- 37 MINUTES in our sound bite age. Obama is effectively ... bypassing the news media and getting his message straight to the voters.
Meanwhile, good luck finding a full version (here's the *text*) of Hillary's latest major speech, delivered at George Washington University on March 17, about the Iraq War. Instead, you'll find segments of it in a CBS news report that shows that she was fabricating--a video that has had 1.7 million views in just the last 5 days.

In light of all that--imagine the generational disconnect with regards to politics and culture overall. I don't think it's simply that Obama is a lot more savvy politician than Hillary (although it's fairly clear he is). I think it's that Hillary is 60 years old, and she learned to do life, and politics, before personal computers and the internet were around. I'm not saying she can't learn. I'm just saying ... it's different for her than for someone born even 15 years later, and different again for someone born 15 years after that. Very different. It's just interesting to ponder.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring snow in Seattle

Hooray--I looked out this afternoon to see trillions of enormous white snow flakes falling. And they're sticking.

here's a slideshow of the Seattle area snow from a local tv channel, from user submitted photos.

I have a new nephew!

Isn't he gorgeous? His name is Zachary. Hooray!


Today two young men with nametags which said "elder" on them appeared at my door--a bit of a juxtaposition.

I've lived at this house for two years, and they've never come 'round before. I've been kind of waiting for them to show up, because I realized sometime in the past two years that the story I grew up with--the one with Abraham nearly killing his son, and Noah presiding over a planet wide flood, and Jonah getting swallowed by a humpback, then vomited back up, and millions of Jews walking across the middle of a sea, and ... I guess finally Jesus being born to a virgin and growing up as a carpenter and getting a little wild and powerful in his later years, and ... coming back from the dead, and ...

You know (or maybe you don't?) --the whole Christian story thing.

Anway, I realized that *that* story must certainly be at *least* as strange to the untrained ear as the story the Mormons tell, whatever it may be--something about a New York farm boy named Joe, and a couple of tribes of sort of prishistoric native Americans, who were apparently actually immigrants themselves--from the Middle East, of all places.

So I thought to myself "Self, next time some of those youthful elders show up, you should invite them in and get them to tell you the damned story. It sounds potentially fascinating. And it would be ever so much easier, and more interesting, to get it from them than to read it somewhere.

So today I had about 40 minutes free, so I invited them in (I'm imagining my delightful mother shivering in horror upon reading this. (Relax mom--I'm only kidding--I know you aren't shivering in horror)). Their names were Brandon and Beau--yep--spelled like that. Brandon is from (of all places) Utah, and Beau from Pheonix. They were very ... earnest. That's nothing to fault them for--I was a lot more earnest once than I currently am.

I learned a few interesting things I didn't know. For instance, apparently the mormon church in general promotes the use of the King James version of the Bible. I found that surprising--it's so very ... quaint, and ... I guess I had an image of the Mormon Church as being a bit more ... savvy than that. But there it is.

And they don't get to *choose* where they do their two year mission. They send in an application of sorts and the prophet--that's the head guy, and his board of 12 guys (Were they called "apostles"? I can't remember) pray over each and every application, and then choose where each shall go. Which has got to be a hell of a time consuming job, since apparently there are some 53,000 Mormon missionaries around the world. But there it is. But anyway, these two blokes got stuck with *very* secular Seattle. Kinda sucks to be them, from my POV, when they could have gotten some rather exotic location and been learning a foreign language and such for two years. But they seemed at peace with it. Good for them!

They asked my permission to pray at the beginning and end of our conversation, and I acquiesed, although I kept my eyes open (call me a cynic =).

Overall, I was really disappointed with the visit. I really like Beau and Brandon, and they were pretty good at what they do. They said at their church, which is about 45 blocks south and west of here, they get about 300 converts a year. Not too bad, I guess, for Seattle--not too bad at all, although I guess Mark Driscoll is kind of showing them up a little. But they were a lot nicer than Mark Driscoll, and I have the impression that maybe their church--I mean at least the Seattle local iterations of it, are a lot nicer than Mars Hill, which isn't hard to do.

They kept pressing me to pray and ask God if this story was true, since if it is, it's *super* important. And I kept telling them I don't pray, and they were curious about that, so I explained how we me and the Man got a divorce cause I was just always pissed off at him, and it really didn't seem to be going anywhere, so I thought the best thing was for us to go our separate ways. They seemed to understand that.

They also did a little bit of ... further ... sales, in wanting to schedule a time to come back and teach me more, and/or wanting to give me a tour of their church building. But I told them to just drop back in some time.

I got to learn a little about how the process works for them--it sounds like a generally great experience.

But overall, I was disappointed. I wanted to hear some details about the story about the Lamaanites and the Nephlites (did I get those names right?)--the two prehistoric native american groups who came over from Jerusalem in 600 BC, and to whom Jesus came and spoke not long after his resurrection circa A.D. 33. Something about how one of them genocided the other, and the genociders constitute the ancestors of the native Americans of today.

But they weren't very forthcoming on the details. I was actually very disappointed. I pressed them at least three times during the 45 minutes we talked for stories about these two groups and how it all went down, and they just weren't forthcoming. They encouraged me to read the book of Mormon, and I said (and meant) that I don't really have time.

So much for my big plan to get the 20 minutes interesting personalized version of the story from the next Mormon missionaries who came to my door. If they come back, I'm going to make it a condition of inviting them in--make them promise to tell me at least 3 good stories, with realisitic characters and vivid details, and at least a little suspense. If they won't agree to it, I'll just shoo them on. Because I disagree with Beau and Brandon--I guess I see the world differently than they do, and to me it's not important whether the story is "true" in some factual sense. To me, it's more important whether it's *true* in a ... human sense, by which I mean to say, "Is it interesting? Does it break your heart, or make you want to sing, or scream, or go eat some ice cream, or *something*?" And today, while they were *very* earnest, *their* iteration of the Mormon story was in this latter sense resoundingly *untrue*.

So that was my Mormon adventure for the day. I'm kinda glad they stopped by =)

Monday, March 24, 2008

4000 dead Americans (and two ugly ones)

Huffington Post offers this photo montage of the 4000 U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why I don't "go to church" on Easter

Read it at the other blog I help run: Why I don't "go to church" on Easter

Did Hillary Clinton lie?

On March 17, Hillary Clinton described her arrival to the Balkans on a trip in 1996 thusly:

I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.

But video footage of her arrival seems to indicate otherwise.

So did she lie? I wouldn't call it that. We're talking about something that happened 11 years ago. I don't think she lied, I think she actually just formed a false memory, which is something else altogether, and it's really easy to do.

In fact, one of my favorite ever psychology professors, Melissa Grinley, did a really fascinating research project she called "Tourist Memory Distortion". The study involved 129 undergraduate psychology students. The students were told they were participating in a study of advertising techniques and were asked to view ads for Disney Resorts and then to rate the ads. They were then asked to rate their own memories of childhood visits to Disney Resorts. In the experimental condition, the Disney ads contained Bugs Bunny, a Warner Brothers character who does not actually ever make appearances at Disney Resorts. In the study, several (14) of the students in the control condition remembered having met Bugs Bunny at Disney world, and 4 of those 14 indicated that their memory was a "remember" type of memory rather than a "know" type of memory, by which the meant they didn't just *know* they had seen Bugs at Disney World, they actually *remembered*, in an episodic way, having met him. It's a fascinating study and it demonstrates just how easily our memories can be manipulated, and how easy it is to construct, based on false information, a vivid memory for something that never even happened.

No doubt some people will find this really disturbing, and I'd like to point out that in writing this post, I'm not in any way trying to imply that, for instance, sexual abuse victims whose perps have claimed their memories are false should not be taken seriously. On the contrary, I'm rather inclined to believe the victim and call the perp a liar, merely based on factual evidence about the prevalence of sexual abuse in our culture--I'm guessing way more often than not it actually *did* happen.

I merely wanted to point out that I wouldn't call Hillary's mis-memory a lie. I don't think she was intentionally misdescribing what happened as she remembered it. Rather, I think she has, over the past 11 years, falsified the memory--not intentionally, just because that is what happens to us. We're astoundingly human, and it's just too easy to do.

If you want to read the whole study by Melissa Grinley, email me at benjaminDOTAdy AT and I'll email you a bootleg copy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Quotes from George Bush's speech today which confuse me. Two things most of all confuse me: 1. What does George Bush *mean* when he refers to the already accomplished "liberation of Iraq". and 2. Does he refer to so many crimes of Saddam which match up so perfectly well with crimes of the U.S. because he actually doesn't *see* the similarities, or does he see and ignore?

  • The answers are clear to me
  • The men and women who crossed into Iraq 5 years ago ... rescued millions from unspeakable horrors
  • Operation Iraqi freedom was a remarkable display of military effectiveness.
  • Our troops engaged in pitched battle with ... death squads that obeyed neither the conventions of war nor the dictates of conscience
  • Aided by the most effective and precise air campaign in history ...
  • New chapters to the story of American military heroism
  • The liberation of Iraq took incredible skill and amazing courage--the speed, precision, and brilliant execution of the campaign will be studied by military historians for decades to come.
  • Because we acted,
    • S. H. no longer fills fields with remains of innocent men women and children
    • S's torture chambers and rape rooms have been closed for good
    • S's regime is no longer invading it's neighbors and attacking them with chemical weapons.
    • (Hmmmm. This sounds like a list of things the U.S. has done since the invasion)
He seems to have a profoundly different understanding of Al Qaeda's strategy in Iraq than my own understanding. My understanding of their strategy was to continue to train their members on the cheap, treasure wise, while this war pushes the U.S. into a perhaps un-recoverable economic tailspin. Did I miss something?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Five years later

Today marks the five year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 19th, 2003--an invasion based on the premise that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, a premise which turned out to be false.

This blog is participating in a blogswarm against the war. See who else is participating here

Costs of the War include

Pro's of the war include:

... well ... Bush says it's all been worth it, somehow

glorified sailing bodies

So how will you know when the real Jesus comes to earth? I'll know Jesus has reappeared when my glorified body sails through the heavens past the Milky Way into the presence of God.

That's from the FAQ portion of John McCain backer John Hagee's web site. Hagee is a Zionist, and a televangelist, and heads a non-profit organization which reportedly pays him over a million dollars a year. (now where can I find a gig like that?)

I'm pretty sure some largish minority, or perhaps even a majority, of Americans believe the Glorified Sailing Bodies Theory of Jesus' return. (BICBW)

So I just have one question. Are all these glorified bodies, sailing past the Milky Way (and god doesn't *that* sound a bit disorienting (and cold? brrrrr.)?) going to be clothed? I mean if they're glorified, hell, they might as well be naked as well =).

I dare you to try not to visualize that. =p

The Past isn't Dead and Buried

In fact, it isn't even past.

The strangest thing happens when I listen to this guy. I find myself entertaining the hope that I could be proud of my president--something I haven't experienced since I was old enough to have such thoughts.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Preacher Idol" on GodTube

I'm not making this up.

here are the questions:

1. Do you find this as painful as I do?
2. Do you find this as painful as I do?

You can vote in Preacher Idol 2008 here.

This contestant, Jocelyn Bell, is running 2nd in the voting right now.

See all five finalists here

The fix

This morning I realized for sure what the fix is for all the nasty crap in the ongoing democratic primary campaign, and the nasty news coverage of it--I need to just listen to the future president give a speech every once in a while. He *so* nails it.
Here he is on Saturday.

(Here's another interesting tidbit. He's left handed. how yotta kewl is that? Every lefty I've ever known has been very kewl.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

bachelor's degree

On Tuesday I'll finally be done with this (bloody) quarter, and barring unforeseen events, in June, after just one more quarter, I'll graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology and maths. And if that happens, according to the U.S. census bureau, I'll be more educated than ~70% of the American populace.

(But only more educated than 47.3% of Seattle's populace.)

But where does that put me? The U.S. ranks 12th on the education index in the 2007 version of the U.N.'s Human Development Report. That's out of 177 nations. Which puts us in the top 7%.

Which means I'm in the top 30% of the top 7% of the planets population in terms of education (I realize this is an oversimplification). Which puts me pretty much in the top 2% of the planet in terms of education. Even though this is a simplification, it's probably a fairly accurate generalization of the situation.

And what have I done to MTWABP (make the world a better place) with this unseemly wealth?

Not much. yet. Note to self: get to work on this.

Further note to self: If you don't, it won't really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, so maybe you should set your goals a little lower, and settle for ... a nice comfortable middle class life in suburbia.

Tiger Woods for President

2016. After 8 years of Obama, I think we'll be ready. And that will give Tiger plenty of time to finish off the PGA tour wins record, and the majors won in lifetime record too. I'd vote for him.

In response to attacks on Pastor Jeremiah Wright

The Trinity United Church of Christ today released this (entirely reasonable) statement. Good for them!

Chicago, Ill. (March 15, 2008) - “Dr. Wright has preached 207,792 minutes on Sunday for the past 36 years at Trinity United Church of Christ. This does not include weekday worship services, revivals and preaching engagements across America and around the globe, to ecumenical and interfaith communities. It is an indictment on Dr. Wright’s ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite,” said the Reverend Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ.

During the 36-year pastorate of Dr. Wright, Trinity United Church of Christ has grown from 87 to 8,000 members. It is the largest congregation in the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination.

“It saddens me to see news stories reporting such a caricature of a congregation that has been such a blessing to the UCC’s Wider Church mission,” said the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, in a released statement. “ … It’s time for us to say ‘No’ to these attacks and declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends.”

Trinity United Church of Christ’s ministry is inclusive and global. The following ministries have been developed under Dr. Wright’s ministerial tutelage for social justice: assisted living facilities for senior citizens, day care for children, pastoral care and counseling, health care, ministries for persons living with HIV/AIDS, hospice training, prison ministry, scholarships for thousands of students to attend historically black colleges, youth ministries, tutorial and computer programs, a church library, domestic violence programs and scholarships and fellowships for women and men attending seminary.

Moss added, “The African American Church was born out of the crucible of slavery and the legacy of prophetic African American preachers since slavery has been and continues to heal broken marginalized victims of social and economic injustices. This is an attack on the legacy of the African American Church which led and continues to lead the fight for human rights in America and around the world.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached the Christian tenet, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Before Dr. King was murdered on April 4, 1968, he preached, “The 11 o’clock hour is the most segregated hour in America.” Forty years later, the African American Church community continues to face bomb threats, death threats, and their ministers’ characters are assassinated because they teach and preach prophetic social concerns for social justice. Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hee hee!

Obama wins seven extra delegates at the second round of the Iowa caucuses.

So much for "experience" and the vaunted "Clinton machine"

A.D. vs. B.C.

So in my studies today I noticed that Muslims have a calendar system whereby the designate years as "A.H." (from the Latin "anno Hegirae", or "Year of Hijra".)

So that sent me poking around, and I'm wondering, can anyone explain to me why we have "B.C." based on the English "Before Christ", but we have "A.D." based on the Latin "Anno Domini" or "Year of the Lord"?

I mean that's screwed up. They should both be Latin, or both be English.

Maybe we should stick with the more politically correct "B.C.E." and "C.E." At least they're both English, which, for the time being, is the most spoken language on earth (with 1.5 billion +) (although by no means the most spoken *first language* on earth, which as it turns out, is Mandarin, with nearly 900 million native speakers) (which is why after I get a good start on Arabic, one of my goals before I die is to learn Mandarin) (ha--good luck with that) (Hell, if Richard Wurmbrand can learn 9 or 14 languages, I don't know why I can't learn 4.)

Capitilalization, and a confession

First, the confession. A couple months ago, Hillary Clinton's campaign website was offering a free bumper sticker, and in the spirit of the idea that if I and everyone else signed up for it, we could cost her campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars, I went ahead and signed up, knowing it would get me on her email list, which I didn't mind, 'cause it's nice to see what the insiders get.

So since then, I've been on both Obama and Hillary's email lists. And today I noticed something I hadn't caught before.

All my emails from the Hillary campaign start out "Dear benjamin".

All my emails from the Obama campaign start out "Dear Benjamin".

(It should be noted that Hillary and Bill and Chesea's names, at the closing of the various emails, are all capitalized.)

Now probably this is just a function of how I typed in my name when I first got on their respective email lists. But ... I think their software should fix this. And I'm also curious, so now I'm going to go sign up on Obama's campaign with a different email address that I happen to own, and I'll put in "benjamin", rather than "Benjamin". Just to see if *his* software switches it to a capital.

I'm taking bets. Who thinks Obama's software will capitilize my name? Who doesn't?

justice and existential guilt

In one sense, it seems to me that from my perspective, justice probably isn't really all that desirable a thing. I guess it depends on what you mean by justice.

If you had asked me twenty years ago, I think I would have told you that justice has to do with sin and God. That if you have ever once done a single thing wrong, you've broken God's eternal perfect law, and hence you are guilty, and justice demands eternal torture in hell. But that God, who *must* have justice, has fixed things up by arranging for his own son to experience something equivalent (and that's another interesting terms--I think of it in terms of chemistry--equi-valent) to eternal torture in a mere three days--no wait, I mean something equivalent to all the eternal torture of every homo-sapien ever born--all in a mere three days, and that if you're willing, all that punishment can be put in lieu of your own punishment, and justice will be upheld, since JC didn't deserve it, since he didn't break any of the rules.

Now I think of it in altogether different terms. Now I think of justice more in terms of ... fairness, of balance (which gets closer to the etymological roots of the word), of evenness. It means on a very local scale that if it's cold outside, and I have two jackets, and Eowyn has none, then I give her one of mine. And on a larger scale, if I have a life expectancy of 70 years, and 3-4000 calories a day available to me, and plenty of fresh clean water to drink, and shelter when it's raining, and huge amounts of free time with which to do whatever the hell I want, and super brilliant medical care which means that my wife and baby live through a placental abruption, while 1 or 2 or even 3 billion people don't have some or all of these things, then I take steps to maybe live with a little less and see that they get a little more.

This can slip into existential guilt, which means when Igor, who is probably getting paid around $8/hour to sit in front of a computer with a phone and make phone calls to do interviews with people who are on the government-paid-for health care plan of which I am a part, calls and asks me lots of questions in at attempt to gather data (which will then be compiled and interpreted by someone making significantly more than $8/hour (of course both of them are making significantly more than the 3 billion people who get by on $2/day or less)) which will allow that health care plan to operate better, including "What race are you?", I answer "I'm part of the evil white domineering richest race on earth."

Friday, March 14, 2008

The more I hear, the more I like Jeremiah Wright

It seems pretty fracking obvious to me that we invited 9-11 on ourselves. And that we have imported drugs and exported arms and trained murderers (not to mention torturers) How can anybody argue with these things?

Why are people freaking out about this stuff, and why does Obama have to apologize for it?

Obama calls the statements "divisive and inflammatory".

Yeah, so? What divisive and inflammatory is american armed forces torturing Arab civilians at Abu Ghraib.

I'm famous

Here's me on the news here last week. I'm the one in the rainbow hued sweater fairly early in the video (in case you don't know what I look like =)

And in case you ever wanted to know, here's some instructions on how to use circular breathing technique to blow an never ending note on your harmonica.

Hooray. After my quiz tomorrow morning, All I have left to do for this quarter is 3 enormous finals on Monday and Tuesday (which, by the way, I am rather dreading). Then it's on to 16 credits of Math in Spring quarter, including

Differential Equations
Mathematical Reasoning
Matrix (which is to say, linear) algebra
Game theory.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bush Deeply out of touch with reality

Here's George Bush's take today on being a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.

"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

What a fuck up. While his family and cronies continue to make out like bandits in arms and oil sales (and don't even get me started on blackwater), over 5% of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are dealing with PTSD, a *devastating* psychological disorder. How'd ya like to be in that lottery--1 in 20? For what? What amazing gains have been made in exchange for these costs?
Excuse me while I just go scream really loud.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Interview with Samantha Powers

My very own home town newspaper (by far the better of the two Seattle newspapers) did an interview today with Samantha Powers--she of the recent infamous "Clinton is a monster" comment which led to her resignation from her position on Obama's staff as a foreign policy advisor. I found the interview fascinating and humanizing. She said

What is so abhorrent about my comments is not only are they hurtful and hateful; they don't reflect my real views of Senator Clinton. These are not thoughts I had been having alone in my own home, storing up to vent over these 14 months.

I really just had one of those bad moments when you lose your temper and you say something that sticks. It sticks out there as something associated with Senator Clinton and also with me -- all because of me.

She's written two books: one about genocide and a new one about Sergio Vieira de Mello, the late U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights. She said of her book on genocide, which won a Pulitzer prize

The genocide book was personal. I had been in Bosnia in my early 20s and I had been shaped by the carnage and emotion, especially the fact that there were NATO planes flying overhead and not doing anything. I felt that I had not acquitted myself as aggressively as I should have in writing about those things. And I wanted to understand the act of bystanding -- how good people can do nothing in the face of very bad things...

Read the whole interview here

March 19 Iraq War Blogswarm

Make sure that you join the March 19 Blogswarm against the Iraq War. Suggestions/Ideas for writing can be found over on their site.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A wrap for Obama

With 44 of 55 states/territories having voted, and 3 full months of the primary season gone already, it pretty much looks like a wrap for Barack Obama.

By Delegate count:

In January, Obama 63, Clinton 48

On Super Tuesday, Obama 847, Clinton 825

In the rest of February, Obama 287, Clinton 164.5

In March, Obama 207, Clinton 205

Clinton will probably finally win a month with Pennsylvania, the only contest in April. But she's behind by 156 delegates, and even a 55/45 split in Pennsylvania will only get her 16 of those back.

Meanwhile, for May, she'll probably win Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky, with 183 total delegates, but he'll win North Carolina, and Oregon, with 199 delegates total. So that's probably a win in May for him too.

So help me out here. This is what I can't figure out. I understand, in a way, why Hillary doesn't step aside and admit the obvious--that she will not be the democratic party's nominee. What I don't understand is why people keep sending money to her campaign. That's a mystery to me. No matter how big an Obama fan I was, I would not send him another dime to campaign with once it became clear that the only way he could win was to miraculously convince the superdelegates that they should overturn the clear vote of the people.

But I guess that's the ... sort of more, perhaps, educated Obama's crowd type take on things. Or something.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer and sex, and Hillary

Can anyone explain to me why New York's governor Spitzer having sex with a prostitute is a bigger deal than, say, 384 civilian deaths in U.S. occupied Iraq this past week?

Or how about this: Is Spizter having sex with a prostitute *worse* than me, for instance, yelling at my wonderful four and six year old daughters because I was stressed out and lost my temper yesterday? How/Why or not?

Does anyone find it ... salacious that Hillary, who had to put up with her hubby's philandering back in the 90's, may lose a superdelegate vote due to Mr. Spitzer's philandering? (Com'on now, that is *totally* uncalled for!)

Why a hero?

Everyone, it seems, left, right, and center, seem to consider John McCain an "American hero" because of his service during the Vietnam War.

I'd love to hear some of the why/how of this story--especially from those of you who agree that he is a hero.

Please don't get me wrong. My own father is a Vietnam War Veteran, and I have enormous respect for my dad, and besides that, I rather like him a lot--He's a kewl guy--I like hanging around him, and I wish I was more like him in several ways, including that I wish I had even half of his hard work ethic and his ability to connect with and motivate people.

But from over here, it looks like the Vietnam War pretty much fucked up my dad's health permanently. He's now on 100% disability from the VA, including, I'm totally convinced, long lasting effects from exposure to agent orange, exposure to STD's, (look, let's not kid ourselves--it doesn't make my dad a bad guy--he was young, and ... a bit stupid. as were we all once) illegal pharmaceutical use, overconsumption of alcohol, undiagnosed and untreated (for the most part) PTSD, ... I could go on. To some extent this stuff was driven by the need to try to deal with the psychological effects of war.

So 4.1 million civilians died during the U.S./Vietnam War. And 1 million soldiers.

John McCain flew 23 bombing missions over Vietnam. What does that mean? It means he operated an aircraft from which, without any real understanding of or connection to the human cost of what he was doing, he could wreak death and destruction on human beings far below. He was an important part of the machinery which killed 5.1 million Vietnamese and American human beings.

In a larger context, what did those 5.1 million deaths accomplish? The Domino Theory of Communism turned out to not be true, since the U.S. *did* lose in Vietnam, and as it turned out, it *did not* lead to a Communist takeover of the whole world, leaving the U.S. all alone in a sea of Communist countries.

What about the aftermath? If we look at the conflict in the broader context of Southeast Asia, we ended up with Laos bombed back to the Stone Age fairly permanently, Cambodia completely and totally screwed up, The Hmong mostly screwed over by the U.S., etc. etc.

I'm just really confused about how being part of all this makes John McCain a hero.

Is it true that most American still aren't willing to admit, 40 years later, that something approaching genocide in SE Asia was a colossal screw up? Or is just that even if it was, the Americans who participated are still heroes somehow?

I don't buy this narrative. Calling John McCain a hero perpetuates a narrative which has clearly proven to be untrue: that America can, with military strength alone (that is to say, with violence), fix big problems in the world. This is a narrative which is deeply bound up in our psyche in this country--I mean we were birthed in violence, and we can't escape it, somehow. I don't buy it. It proves again and again to be untrue. And yet we continue to cast the story as if it were true. We're not telling ourselves the truth--imagining that we can avoid the pain of it by denying it.

And if I can just throw in one last little connection: this narrative is fundamentally and diametrically opposed to the legitimate Christian narrative. The Christian narrative is one where the founder thoroughly iterates by both words and actions that *perpetration* of violence is *not* the answer to violence, but rather *willing reception* of violence, with no response other than love, kindness, forgiveness toward the perpetrators. The American Christian myth of redemptive violence is thoroughly heretical, from my POV.

What your $3 Billion a week is buying you, part 259

A new study by a nobel prize winning economist says the Iraq War is costing the U.S. $12 Billion/month, with the final price tag somewhere between $1.7 Trillion and $2.7 Trillion, or more.

Meanwhile, here's what we get this week for our $3 Billion:

Last 7 days in Iraq: 384 civilians dead

But as President Bush and his friend 71 year old John McCain says "The surge is working"

(that is to say "We can successfully use violence to undermine violence")

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Disappointing--why are Palestinians seen as less human than Jews?

Okay, I guess the honeymoon is over. I definitely think Obama is the best of the three candidates now standing to be president of the U.S.

But I was deeply disappointed to see the Obama campaign release today a resounding condemnation of the attacks in Jerusalem today which killed 8 Israeli civilians. Not because I don't think such attacks should be roundly condemned--they should.

Rather because Obama is following the now old-hat U.S. policy of condemning Palestinian violence against Israel, but staying very quiet about much worse Israeli violence against Palestinians. This is so sad. 8 Jews, civlians, were killed today. That's horrible. And dozens of Palestinians, also civilians, have been killed this week by Israeli defense forces. Where is the condemnation of that?

Why do American politicians and the American media tilt their response so strongly? I genuinely don't understand it. Is it an assumption that the Christian God loves Israelites more than Palestinians? I think that may ... touch on it. But I don't think it really explains it. Can anyone help me out?

Word of the day: labile

Today I learned


Easily changing, unstable. If your asthma is labile, it means that you can go quickly and unpredictably from being perfectly fine to barely ...

Unstable; literally, characterized by a tendency to slip.

Readily undergoing change or breakdown. The term labile is often used to describe compounds (such as carbon or nitrogen) that are available to easily move through soils.

Now to use in a sentence. Here's a politically incorrect attempt: According to traditional gender stereotypes, women, on average, are more labile than men.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

For your comparison

Here's the two candidates' speeches from last night.

Barack Obama:

Hillary Clinton:

Some quotes:

Barack Obama: "There is a larger responsibility that we have to one another ... that we are our brother's keeper, our sister's keeper" "In this campaign we will not stand for the politics that uses religion as a wedge and patriotism as a bludgeon"

Hillary Clinton: "For everyone who ever works hard and never gives up, this one is for you." "Ohio has written a new chapter in the history of this campaign." "America needs a president who's ready to lead."

Would love to hear your reactions to the speeches.

Why won't Hillary Clinton publicly release her tax returns?

I invite speculation as to why. I'll publish my favorite to the top of the blog. =p

Word of the day:

"Sequelae": Conditions which result from an event. Further definitions

Try using this in a sentence today. Perhaps in a comment here.

More evidence ...

that americans are ... a bit stupid.

(as if we needed more of that)

(good god, that's a bit harsh, isn't it? Oh well. Chalk it up to a very bad mood)

(at least it doesn't really matter since it's now ... basically mathematically impossible for Billary to actually win the nomination)

(good god, what do they want--to ... give the man another chance to have sex with another person 30 years his junior in the same house where he sleeps with his wife?) (not that I care who anybody has consensual sex with. It's a private matter, and none of our *&@*! business) (yeah, right, whatever)

(Now com'on, that *really* not called for. I'm probably going to have to delete this whole post tomorrow when I look at it in the light of day)

(yeah yeah, sure you will. don't kid yourself)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

"Shocking and deplorable"

At the top of headlines today: a story about a youtube video of a U.S. marine throwing a puppy over a cliff in Iraq. In a statement, the marine corps called the video "shocking and deploring" and said "We do not tolerate this type of behavior, and will take appropriate action" Apparently lots of American are kind of freaking out about the video, and the marine's name and address have been published. Comments on the web include: "I hope the Marine who did this dies over there" and "[He] should have been aborted."

Meanwhile, in the past 7 days, U.S. and U.K. forces have killed 5 civilians in Iraq, including a teenager and a mother and child. Any of that in the major media? I think not. Anybody freaking out about that? Hardly. Maybe it's not real unless it's on Youtube (there's actually an argument to be made about that).

Am I missing something?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My mother is dying

Feel free not to read. Kind of writing for my own therapy

This isn't exactly new news. 3 years ago, she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. She nearly died in surgery to remove the big cancerous growth in her abdomen. Since then she's been through 3 rounds of different types of chemotherapy.

Recently her ca125 counts starting rising again--that was ... late last year. And they did an MRI and there was a new growth. And they were going through the plans to irradiate that. And in the middle of all that, about ... 4 weeks ago, her bowel got impacted, and the backwater (I know that's really harsh, but I live in Seattle, so there it is) M.D.'s at Monroe General hospital did surgery and ... unblocked her G.I. tract. And then during recovery, she got pneumonia. And then she got over the pneumonia, and started eating again. And then ... last week her bowel got impacted again (it means nothing is going through), and she came into a a real hospital here, and they put a tube down her throat, to drain off the stomach, and put her on IV nutrition, and decided to wait a few days to see if allowing the bowel to relax a little would allow things to start moving again.

Her oncologist says there's pretty much not a whole lot left to be done--this is what happens with ovarian cancer. They can't do any more chemo, because her immunity is too compromised. And they can't irradiate because there are two new growths. He said that there are 30 feet of small intestine all bunched up in the abdomen, and the cancer is like someone took a handful of oatmeal and threw it in there, and it attaches, and grows, and kinks the intestine, and then stuff can't get through.

And that even though now her bowel has opened up again, and ... stuff's going through again, sooner or later, and likely sooner, the cancer will cause it to become blocked again.

So my lovely mum arranged for me and Megs and our girlicans and my sister (my only sib) and all my mum's sibs (excepting one) and a couple close friends to come up to her hospital room on Monday. And when we were all there she gave this astoundingly beautiful speech. She told us about what was happening to her, and that her oncologist had said that this was the beginning of the end of her life, and that Megan and me and Kat had taught her that she should talk about things rather than pretending they weren't there, so she just wanted to talk about it, and encourage us to all talk about it with her and with each other. So I was kind of blown away by that.

And recently I learned three stories.

The zoo: When she was a little girl, my mother and her five siblings would go to the zoo. At Stoneham. Once or twice every summer, they'd all pile in the car with mom and dad and off to the zoo. And dad would feed his cigarettes to the goats, even though mom and sibs all begged him to stop. Which just struck me enormously funny. And she remembered the elephants--how big they were (to her little girl eyes). And the monkeys--they would stay in the monkey house and just watch the monkeys forever. And my Uncle Steve added that there was this box set up where you could stick your hand in, and the apes could stick their hand in, and you could just touch fingertips, and one time they gave the ape bubble gum through this setup, and watched him have rather a crazy time with it.

Steven: My mum's littlest sib is Steven, who is ten years younger. When he was little, she used to have to babysit him, from the roll of the eyes, it seemed it wasn't always exactly her favorite task (as I'm sure all older sibs who have to babysit often feel). And Steven wouldn't always go to sleep when he was meant to, and my mum was the one drafted to go up and sing songs to him. I thought that was rather a lovely picture. And wondered if my uncle Steve remembered it. I shall ask him. I've gotten the sense over the years that in some ways Steve has been and continues to be the sib that is closest to my mom. He's a real ... connector, I guess. Kind of the sense that one gets of youngest sibs in general--that they're ... harmonizers. Steve is a great storyteller.

The coal trucks: There was a big ... coal bin next to my mum's family's house growing up. They brought the coal there in trucks, and then it got distributed from there to all the houses for their furnaces, for heat in the winter. And she used to like to go out and race across the street before the truck left--a sort of race to see if she could ... get across before they ... hit her. That was the impression I got. My crazy crazy mum playing chicken with coal trucks. Awesome! I love it. Apparently her mom didn't think it that great an idea. She was ... 5 years old, I guess. And one day she wasn't maybe quite gonna make it, and got scared, and slipped, and hit her poor little head on the cement. And fortunately the truck driver stopped before hitting her. But the contact between my mom's head and the cement street was apparently rather hard, and she had to go to the hospital, where she remembers there were all sorts of things attached to her head for the purpose of making sure she was okay. And apparently people back then would be in bigger rooms with multiple people, rather than the double or single rooms I'm used to seeing in hospitals of today. My dad said when he was little only very wealthy people got private rooms in hospitals. He told me this in my mum's private hospital room. It made me realize how astoundingly wealthy we are. Astoundingly wealthy, compared to the nearly 3 billion people on the planet who function on $2/day or less.

Lynn Woods: There this big woods/nature reserve not too far from my mum's growing up house called Lynn Woods Reservation. They used to go up there, said my mum, and there was a cave, and they would pretend they were searching for gold--there were rumors gold had been found there once. And they'd go back in the cave as far as they dared, until they got too afraid. And there was a petting zoo, where you could buy grain for a nickel to feed to the goats.

My mum cried today for this reason: She said that she has been in this hospital bed, and feels like she hasn't been able to do anything for anyone. And I thought, and didn't say, "You can do something for me. Tell me stories. Stories and stories and stories. I come from you--Enstory me!"

And she cried for this reason: She said her sister (my aunt) Carol came and visited today, and asked her "Susan, are you still asking God for healing?" And she realized she hadn't been. She said it is *so hard*. I guess Dan Allender would say "hard to hope". I felt really angry and cut at that. Angry that anyone should demand my mother to hope. And angrier because the demand kind of extends to me--some sort of demand to hope and engage with God. This is part of why I stopped being a Christian. I spent some ... two years forcing (in the end it was forcing) myself to engage hope and God, and getting furiouser and furiouser at God, in light of the fucked up state of the world. And then I gradually realized all that anger was just kind of too constantly on the boil, and it wasn't doing much for me, so I just disengaged. And after that, I kind of realized my old model of god wasn't really working for me, and so I chucked it, and in the absence of a new one that does work, I wasn't a Christian anymore. There it is.

credit where credit is due ...

So question. What if I work really hard, and smart, and work my way up the ladder, actually *creating* wealth, and end up making ... half a million dollars a year, say. Hypothetically. In the U.S. And I have to pay .... say, $300,000 of that in taxes to the federal government. And part of the $300,000 I pay goes to pay to build an Apache helicopter gunship (which, by the way, I used to think were extremely kewl, before I got mature enough to begin to understand the reality of exactly what they're built to do), which we then sell to Israel on the cheap, since by and large we Americans tend to like the Israelites so much. And then say the Israeli Defense Forces deploy that Apache gunship in Gaza, and use it to kill a little 11 and 12 year old brother and sister who are sleeping in their beds.

That was all the set up. Here's the question: Do I get to have any of the responsibility for the killing of the little sleeping siblings?

And if so, what can/shall I do about that?

One possible answer, from my POV, is ... never make enough money that I have to pay taxes.

But that's not very satisfying. It feels like a ... copout, somehow.

This made me smile

Although I'm guess it only really works if you're as versed in the Christian Scriptures, and specifically in the Authorized English translation, as I have the good fortune to be.

Come into the light, my brethren and sistren.

Especially working for me was this:

1:20 And the All Knowing Quantum Field of Intelligence did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Obama, so that handkerchiefs were carried away from his body to the worshippers, and spirits of cynicism came out of them and they were found dressed and in their left minds.

Hey--that's kind of what happened to me. The legion of cynicism spirits were driven out of me, and now here I am dressed (well, ... actually, um, never mind), and in my left mind. What's left of it, that is. =)

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Byron asks, and attempts to answer, these three:

The opposite of faith is _______.
The opposite of hope is ________.
The opposite of love is _______.

Your thoughts?

Off the top of my head, I said:

Faith: modernity
Hope: death
Love: sexual abuse